Just got notification I got Silver All World Athlete status for 2018. That’s based on being in the top 5% of full Ironman event athletes in 2017 for the points gained (based on the time difference between you and the person that one) from your top 3 Ironman’s. Now lots of people don’t do 3 or more which limits how many points they can accrue but yay Silver and yay great benefits like separate event check-in, AWA bib and swim caps for 2018. The 1000 point one if when you wear a wetsuit if its wetsuit optional. In that case you can only get 1000 points.
I added this run in pretty late but its a great event and I’ve done it on a number of previous years. It’s actually a double event, there are 5K, half and full marathons New Years Eve and New Years Day but this year I just did the Eve as I’m about to go Disney for the Dopey Challenge and didn’t want to overdo it.
You can read about the event at http://www.newyearsdouble.com/ but boy, this was an act of will power as it was below 30 and with wind chill felt below 20 the entire time!
The organizers are very friendly and its one of the few events that has a Clysdales division (men over 195 lbs) so I actually have a chance of placing. So I wrapped up in multiple layers and went for it.
The course is very flat and for the marathon its 4 loops of a 6.5 mile loop. The only incline/decline is when you go under a road via a little tunnel. There are 4 aid stations on the loop with Gatorade and water.
The event kicked off at 8:40 and pretty much as soon as it started it started to sleet for about the first 2 hours so that really added to the overall pain but all you could really do was laugh 🙂 Even with multiple layers it was cold and the tips of my fingers kept freezing so I was constantly rearranging how I positioned my fingers to alternate between thumb and fingers freezing.
The first three loops were fine but that forth loop was tough. By that point I was really cold to the core, was slowing down and also was pretty much not drinking. At each water stop I’d have a swig of the Gatorade but after 3 loops that was probably only about 3 cups of actual total drink which is really not very much so I made an effort to try and drink more on the forth loop. Each loop I had to run past my car and on that forth loop, I’m not gonna lie, the thought of just hopping in, driving to the next chip timing mat, running over then back in the car was pretty tempting 🙂 They say you only cheat yourself and I think I was almost OK with it but I quickly put that out my head and just buckled down for 6.5 miles of freezing misery. I kept measuring distance as “only 6 one mile runs” and “3.5 loops done so basically finished”. Once you get to two miles left you find that energy and just go for it.
I was slower than Dallas but honestly with the cold, all the layers of clothes I was still pretty happy with my result:
Note that only 89 people actually finished. I think the cold stopped a lot of people. I came in third in my age group and first in the Clysdale (out of 5 🙂 ). But still it got me a great Winner champagne flute.
I got home and my awesome wife ran me a hot bubble bath and brought me hot chocolate! Heaven! Legs were very stiff but as I write this the following day I’m a little sore but not as bad as after Dallas so think I’ll be good for the Disney runs that start with the 5K in 3 days 🙂
Definitely recommend this event if you are anywhere close to Allen, Texas. It’s never crowded, and is really well organized.
IRONMAN Florida 2017
Sitting on the plane coming back from New York (will make sense by the end) and thought I’d spend some time writing up my IRONMAN Florida 2017 experience. This was a late addition for me which meant the only places left were the IRONMAN Foundation places which meant I got bib number 84 and slightly better bike/bag placement and an expedited check-in line which as it turns out saved my butt 🙂
Because I booked this late I stayed at the host hotel, the Boardwalk Beach Resort. After booking I looked at the reviews which were pretty terrible so I looked forward to my arrival with a little bit of dread. I arrived Thursday (as there was an early flight from DFW (via Atlanta) to the Panama City local airport) and after a 30 minute taxi ride arrived. The IRONMAN village and check-in were actually in the Boardwalk Beach Resort car park so that was super convenient. I couldn’t check-in to my room yet as it was only 12:30 and I was told check-in for the hotel would be around 2:30 so I just took my suitcase with me to IRONMAN registration and the line was ridiculous. I’d never seen such a long line. Now this was the last day of registration but there must have been 100 people ahead of me. Fortunately that IMF entry gave you different check-in so I got to basically cut out the entire line, fill in the paperwork, get my stuff, timing chip then out through the store where I bought some shirts and pins. It was about 1:15 so I thought I’d try my luck checking in and they let me. They were friendly and helpful. Grabbed a quick bite of pizza (which took 30 minutes!) then off to the room.
Is the hotel stellar? No. But it was fine. I’m guessing its a spring break type hotel. There were two double beds in the room and bunk beds. There was a fridge (which had orange rust up the side of it) and a microwave. The ceiling was cracking over the window but the actual room was clean. Sheets clean. Towels and bathroom clean. Maybe I got lucky but it was totally fine. The bed was a bit hard but really wasn’t that big of a deal and you had lots of space. I did put a spare sheet over the bottom bunk bed before I put my stuff on it as there were some stains that I didn’t want to identify or risk touching 🙂 Now there are nicer hotels but this being the actual host location had some big advantages that I’ll get to and if I did Florida again I would stay here again even though I’m sure there are nicer places to stay.
I unpacked and laid all my gear out on the spare bed as always. I use the gear list in the athlete guide and as always picture myself from feet to head of the gear I’ll need to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. Once I was all laid out I put it in the bags (only to take out again and recheck about 5 times before final drop off).
There were no stores super close so I walked to the Walmart to buy water, Gatorade etc. It was only about 3/4 of a mile I think up the road but it was hot then I had to carry it all back which I think was a mistake with hindsight. I ordered pizza and pasta from Hungry Howie’s which was tasty. Went to bed early.
Next day got up, rechecked contents of gear bags, walked up to Waffle House to have egg whites and a waffle (about 1 mile round trip and was nice and cool). I walked down to the sand and it was quite the view (this was basically right outside my room as well) and this is where the swim would take place the next day (Saturday). The waves seemed intimidating however there were some people out swimming and what I noticed was by the time you got to waist level walking out (which was quite a way) the waves stopped and from that point it was fairly calm so you didn’t actually swim in the wave crashing part.
I had a quick work call then off to gear drop off which was literally outside my door. Walked up to TriBike Transport (which was as close to bike drop-off as humanly possible, right next to it), they put on my pedals, quick ride around to ensure was OK, put on my bike stickers then dropped off my bike. I had a day to kill and this happened to be the day Thor Ragnarok came out. I had researched before hand and there was an IMAX in town so I’d already bought a DBOX 3D seat (the DBOX seat actually moves during the film). I ubered to town, had lunch at Olive Garden (pasta with marinara sauce and chicken breast along with some breadsticks and 5 cheese marinara dip) then walked to the movie where I snacked on some Buncha Crunch while enjoying an awesome movie. Then uber back to hotel where I had Hungry Howie pizza and went to bed.
I slept OK but work up around 2:30 am and this is where the Boardwalk really started to shine. Transition opened at 4:30. This was outside my room. I went out, got my numbers marked on me, put my drinks on my bike, pumped up tires to 100, checked my gear bags were still there and normally now I would spend 2.5 hours waiting sitting on the floor, queuing for the restroom (which I’ll pee 3 times normally as my body panics). Well, I just went back to my room. I stayed there for 1.5 hours, watched a bit of a movie on my iPad, used my bathroom, drank some Gatorade etc. It was awesome. I could even still hear the announcements! THIS is why I would stay here again. At 6 am I decided to wander out already in my wetsuit with a layer of sunscreen spray applied. Dropped of a morning clothes bag which literally just had a room key wrapped in a towel in it (I had also put a room key in my running belt the day before) then out to the beach where I had to walk on the sand (I HATE sand. HATE the feeling. don’t know why, I just do) and was chatting to people. I’m always amazed at how friendly everyone is. It’s awesome and while it was great being in the room obviously I missed out on some additional time talking to people.
It was a self seed swim start. Volunteers where holding up signs for expected swim time so I put myself in the 1:30 slot. At 6:30 the pros went off and 6:40 the age groups started to go in. I think I hit the water about 7:00 and they had a timing mat as you went over so your time started as you went in the water (this is normal to me but some people said this had not always been the case). It was a two-loop swim and you got out after the first loop to run back round to the loop start. My wetsuit is armless but it was fine. I think the water was about 71 degrees. You waded in quite a way until you started swimming and the waves were gone at that point. There was a little chop but nothing really bad. I had a hard time seeing the buoys and found myself off course a few times but nothing too bad. I prefer to stay on the outside as I’ll sacrifice a few minutes to not get kicked in the face. The water was really clear and you could see the sand at the bottom. Was nice. The salt water was not. I’d never swam in the ocean before and the salt water sucked. I didn’t really feel it added buoyancy beyond the wet suit but who knows. My tongue was tingling and obviously just got worse as you continued swimming. As I finished loop 1 I was at 40 minutes which was great for me. Thankfully they had cups of water as you ran round to loop 2 so that helped. Loop 2 was more of the same (except the sun now blinded you after the first turn as you were swimming straight at it (however this is a short leg as you quickly turn again to head back to the beach)). I finished in 1:25 which I was pleased with and got help pulling off the wetsuit, stood under some hoses setup to help get sand and salt off then off to grab T1 bag and into a big conference room to get changed.
Then out to the bike. Its one big loop and its pretty flat. There are a few rollers in the middle but really nothing to bad. I never had to change my front gear. As always terrific support on the course about every 10 miles. I have my own nutrition (Gu every hour, then half waffle 20 minutes and 40 minutes) but use their Gatorade and occasionally swig of water. It was uneventful which is great! I set a PR on the bike of 5:52:37 so was super happy with that. I had a new bike computer, the Garmin Edge 520 which performed great. Was a nice big screen and showed everything I needed. As always my butt and neck were hurting but that’s just the norm now.
At transition they take your bike, helped grab my T2 bag and off I went to change. I was feeling pretty good. This feeling would not last. This was a two-loop run course.
Now my old PR was 12:54 ish. So far with the good swim and bike and my transitions I could do a 5 hour marathon and still come in at 12:40!!! This would be awesome. It was a completely flat marathon course and I’d done a 5 hour marathon in IRONMAN Texas which was similar flat course and temperature so my hopes were high. However as soon as I started running it felt tough. I’m not sure why. My legs had been aching a little on the previous day. I think maybe training during the week (Wednesday I did a sub 2 hour half marathon on the treadmill, Thursday elliptical before flight for an hour) then the walking Thursday in the heat had maybe taken it out of me a little but I was struggling. I managed to run for the first 8 miles but then had to start walking for a bit then running for the next 8 miles but at 16 miles my running was getting slower than my walking 🙂 My mouth was tingling and I just felt dead to the world. I was trying to eat a Gu every 30 minutes but as the run goes on that gets harder to do so I think I was not getting enough sugar. Also the Gatorade gets harder to drink and you just want water. At 16 miles I just had to walk. I grabbed a cookie and nibbled on that as I walked and drank water. I chatted with some fellow walkers for the next 4 miles. After an hour I felt better. Tingling had gone, felt like I had some gas in the tank. I looked at my watch. If I could maintain just over 5 miles an hour I could beat my old PR so off I went running again. It was run walk but managed to maintain for the next 3 miles until I just crashed again and this time pretty much for good. I felt like crap and really struggled to keep moving. As I got to the end I ran the last part and finished the marathon in 5:25:23. Ugh. Luckily because of the bike and swim my total time was 13:05:49 which I’m actually fine with but obviously disappointed as with this flat course I really should have been able to beat my Chattanooga time which was super hilly (BUT it had the super easy swim). Below are some pictures and I may stop buying them as I realize I look exactly the same in all the races 🙂 Same pained expressions, same happiness when its over 🙂
And the final split times.
After it was all done a quick pickup of the gear bags (Tribike had already took my bike which caused me confusion at first as I didn’t think I booked the valet service!) then the morning clothes bag had to be picked up from a different location (where you dropped it off). Went back to my room, had a protein drink and some pizza, showered then utterly failed to fall asleep like every other IRONMAN lately. I can only assume its because all day I’m eating nothing but sugar and caffeine then at the end of the day the brain says “nope, not turning off, you can just lay here all night”.
I got up the next morning not too sore (but it got worse as the day went on). At 5:30 walked past the store and there were already people waiting!! I went to Waffle House for egg whites and a waffle again then took place in the line at about 6 am. I was probably about 40 people back and I was the last person they let in in the first batch when it opened at 7am :-). I bought my finisher t-shirt, polo and jacket (I love the jackets this year).
Went back to the room and decided to just head to the airport since there was no Internet at the hotel (the entire time no Internet, that sucked!!!!!) and at least I would have Internet at the airport. I had to speak at a conference in New York on Monday so I took a flight to NYC (via Atlanta) where on the Monday I was speaking on the 10th floor of 7 World Trade Center (it was a Hybrid Identity Protection conference) and was actually hosted by the company that owns and is building the new World Trade Center and at lunch we had a talk by the CEO and owner, Larry Silverstein about the experiences which was amazing. The view was great and I also went and saw the Memorial Waterfall close up.
Now I’m on the flight home. That’s the end of 2017 IRONMAN for me. I’ve done Texas, Santa Rosa, Chattanooga and Florida this year. Next year I have 5 booked which will get me to 12 and I can apply for the Kona lottery! Overall a good year and I’m excited for 2018.
- Texas – 4/28 (done before 3 times)
- Boulder = 6/10 (I’m nervous about this one as everyone says the altitude is a killer)
- Lake Placid – 7/22 (hilly I hear)
- Wisconsin – 9/9 (apparently you should “love hills”, I don’t)
- Chattanooga 9/30 (done before twice and this is where I PR’d)
Up next is the Dopey in Disney World January 2018 🙂 but I can take a little break from training.
Sitting in the airport the day after the 2017 and wanted to share experience of another awesome IRONMAN event. This is my second year of participating in the Chattanooga IRONMAN after also participating last year (where there was record heat and DNFs (Did Not Finish)).
I arrived on Thursday and checked in then went off for some dinner. Friday morning I got up and checked in. Took about 5 minutes, show your ID, check some forms, get your backpack (like the style of this years), chip, bib numbers and swim cap and you’re off (after a quick exit through the store). I brought my Xbox with me for this IRONMAN so spent most of the day just playing that. For lunch I had a baked potato with chicken in it then dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce. Saturday is gear check day which is super simple for Chattanooga as everything is in the same place. Since I started using a Trisuit its actually a lot less to pack now but I lay alley gear out on the bed, I compare to the gear list in the athlete guide and also visualize putting everything on from feet to head to make sure I don’t forget anything. Shoes, socks, bike shirt, nutrition, bike helmet then for run running shoes, socks, knee supports, nutrition belt with bib, glasses and hat. Also put sunscreen in both bags. I took my two transition bags down (run and bike) and picked up my bike from TriBike Transport. The drop off is behind the athlete village so you drop off your bike then as you exit drop off your run and bike bags, that’s it. Quick tip, try and tie you bag as much as possible just incase it rains overnight to avoid your gear getting wet. Also don’t have your tires pumped up all the way to avoid them popping over night. Lunch was bread, paste with marinara and grilled chicken breast then dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic knots. Also had some candy 🙂 Early to bed.
I actually got about 6 hours sleep which is great for me before an IRONMAN. Got up at 3 am, ate some bagel and 20g of protein powder with water. Checked my morning bag again, wetsuit, timing chip, cap, goggles, bottle to put on bike, drink to put on bike and an extra drink for while waiting to actually start since you get to the start about 2 hours before it begins, extra bagel and a 5 hour energy. Transition opens at 4:30 so I left the hotel at 4:15 and walked down (was about .5 mile). I got there and there was already a big line but once it opened it moved fast. They numbered you up (they write your bib number on both arms then your age on your calf unless you do this yourself with something like TriTats) then I grabbed my bike and pumped the tires up to 100 (there are always plenty of pumps around or people willing to share, never had a problem). Put on my bike bottle with Gatorade and a bottle of water. Walked through the two transitions checking my bags were still there (always a panic point) and then off to jump on school bus that takes you to the swim start. At the swim start you line up along the path that leads to the point you jump in the water. You completely self seed. It was wetsuit optional and I choose to wear a wetsuit as I hadn’t done much swimming nor done open water swimming without the comfort blanket that is the wetsuit and so I decided to wear it. It’s sleeveless so I never get hot in it. There are toilets where you get off the bus but none down at the actual water entry point. The queues for the toilets near when it was about to start were insane and people just started going in the woods, even the girls! 🙂
You swim downstream in the river and last year I did 1:09 whereas my normal swim is about 1:30-1:35 so the current helps a LOT. As soon as I jumped in the water and started swimming it felt like I was moving FAST. I was very controlled, I consider the swim a warm up and want to save my strength for the bike/run. It’s a straight line course and I finished in 59 minutes! I couldn’t believe it but yay! I’m the one in the middle 🙂
A quick walk up the ramp, grab the bike transition bag, into the changing tent. I bought myself a new helmet for this event. It’s one where the visor is part of the helmet. While yes its supposed to be more aerodynamic I actually bought it as I always experienced discomfort having the glasses sitting under the helmet. It would rub over my ears. This fixed that feeling. I look like weird bug person 🙂
On to the bike, had a quick gel and was off. I felt fast. The course for the bike is two loops and its 116 miles instead of the standard 112. This is because of the nature of the possible routes available however since the swim is helped by the current I think this balances out (although my butt and neck were very unhappy with the extra 4 miles 🙂 ).
There are some big hills but it gives back, i.e. you go up but then you get nice long downhills where you can recover. One of the downhill parts is near the end of the loop and I got up to 36mph, super fun, I actually found myself saying out loud “wheeeeeeee”. It was a warm day however there were clouds that gave relief but on the second loop you started to feel the heat and things were getting tougher. I was drinking a bottle of the Gatorade every 45 minutes I think with a little bit of water sprinkled in between. On the hour I would have a Gu then at 20 minutes I had half a waffle and at 40 minutes the other half. That gets me about 430 calories an hour which seems to work for me. I did slow on the second loop but still pretty good. All-in-all I finished in 6:19:18. My guidance would be just take it easy on the bike. Remember, you have a marathon (26.2 miles) still to do. If you kill yourself on the bike you may gain 30 minutes but the run will easily take that back! On the course they have aid stations about every 15 miles where they have bottles of Gatorade, bottles of water and also bananas, Gus etc. I carry my own nutrition so don’t use that but if you train with the same nutrition they give out it can reduce what you have to carry. I just stick 6 waffles and 7 Gus in my bike shirt and I’m done.
With the bike done it was back to transition, grab the run bag and then get back out there. At this point as I started the run I was sitting at 7 hours and 40 minutes. My PR was 13 hours and 2 minutes. If I could run a 5 hour 20 marathon or less I could beat my PR and break 13 hours which has always been my goal. I set out steady and jogged at around 5.5 mph for the first 8 miles (slower for the odd incline) which you can see in the breakdown picture below but at mile 8, oh boy and I’d been dreading it as I remembered from last year, you hit hills, BIG hills. Once you get up the big hill, you run down it then have to run up again, then down again then back up the hill you ran down. It’s about 3 miles total that includes very hilly portions then its flat (ish) to 13 where you get to do it all again.
I got to 13 miles at 2 hours and 30 minutes. If I could do the second in 2 hours 50 I would meet my goal but I was feeling drained. I was struggling to run and kept walking plus I was getting the tingling in my lips which is never good. I kept doing math in my head of how fast I had to run as I got slower and slower until it was starting to look impossible but then something wonderful happened. Now I’m a huge Superman fan and Superman is powered by the sun but it seems to have the opposite effect on me. What wonderful thing happened? The sun started to go down. I got a second wind and just went for it. The math still seemed like I would fail as I’d need to be over 5 mph and I had all the hill section but I just wanted to do the best I could. I ran when it was flat or downhill but walked up the big hills (but at a fast pace). I was making time up, the math in my head started to look possible again until on the final incline I got mile 24 and I had 30 minutes left. 30 minutes to go 2.2 miles. I could do that almost walking and it was only a few more minutes up hill then it was down and flat. At the top of the hill I started to run and kept running. At mile 25 I had over 15 minutes left. I could walk but I didn’t, I sped up. The crowds were amazing, I could see the finish line and I crossed, 12 hours 54 minutes and 53 seconds. I PR’d and broke 13 hours. As I crossed the finish line my legs kept giving out but I didn’t care. I knew I had broken 13 hours. Got my picture taken grabbed pizza but was unable to eat it. Drank some water. The pictures below sum it up, pain but relief, joy and then just overall happy its done!
I headed to pick up my bike then as you exit the bike pickup they give you all 3 of your bags all tied together (which is awesome, run, bike and morning clothes bag). I dropped my bike off at TriBike then started the long walk back to hotel carrying all 3 bags. That was hard and slowwwww. I couldn’t eat anything still even back at the hotel. I forced about 40 g of protein powder with water in me but really couldn’t eat solids. I showered then got into bed but could not sleep. Same thing happened in Texas. Not sure if its because consumed so much sugar during the event or something else but all night I just laid there. I went back and looked at my times (below).
This shows the actual position out of totals (however I really don’t care about this part). My goal is to try and improve my time.
At 4 am I got up, packed, showered again, set off out the hotel at 5:30 to find breakfast then at 6:30 joined the queue for the IRONMAN store to buy my finisher polo, t-shirt and mini-jacket (the full jacket is great this year but I already have it from Texas and Santa Rosa so decided to get something else). Even though the queue is big it moves fast. And now at the airport going to Orlando to speak at Ignite (big Microsoft conference). UPDATE – my luggage went to the wrong airport so that was fun 🙂
Once again a great event. They all are. The volunteers are AMAZING and just never stop giving. THANK YOU!!!
This was number 6. Half way to my goal of 12 so I can apply for the Kona lottery.
Up next, Florida in 6 weeks!
Well the muscles have healed, I’ve had some sleep so it’s time to write-up my race report for the 2017 IRONMAN Texas which was on 22nd April 2017. This is my third straight year doing Texas and it was awesome. The course was great, the other participants were all great and friendly, the IRONMAN team were great, the volunteers amazing and the spectators awesome!
I went into this IRONMAN feeling optimistic about setting a new Personal Record (PR). My previous best was 14 hours 30 minutes for 2016 Chattanooga (I don’t count the time for 2016 Texas as the bike course was shortened). I had changed a few things:
- I had focused more on running. Completed a number of marathons. Did more running post my long bike ride on Saturday. More hill running (on treadmill)
- I changed my drink from water with Nuun to Gatorade. When combined with the Gu and waffle this raised my hourly calories from about 230 to 400 an hour. I think previously I was not consuming enough during the bike leaving me short on energy for the run
- The temperature was to be between 70 and 75. Much cooler than the 95 all three of my other IRONMANs had been
I still did all my training on the treadmill and spin bike but had put in more mileage. The only time I trained outside was the few marathons I did and a 10 minute bike test I did following the new tires I had put on my bike the week before the IRONMAN (this turned out to be a huge disaster that I’ll talk more about later) as part of a tune-up I had done by a travelling bike service.
In terms of timing, the onsite registration is 2 days prior to the event while the bike and run bag/bike bag drop-off is 1 day prior. I live near Dallas which meant the Woodlands (the location for the IRONMAN) was about a four hour drive. I got up early Thursday, went to the gym for some light cardio and weight training then drove down to the Woodlands. I went straight to the IRONMAN village which has the registration tent, store and partner tents.
Registration is fast. You give your state ID and they write down your bib number on a card. You then go into the registration tent, go to the waiver desk where they give you two forms. You check the details, enter some contact information then give them back in. You then pick up the transition bags, grab your bib numbers, get your IRONMAN bracelet put on which has your number on it and will stay on you until after the event and your timing chip which will attach round your left ankle (grab a safety pin as well to help really secure it on the morning). You will also grab your fancy backpack (or whatever the style is that year) and a few other goodies. You exit registration to the store which does not have the finisher gear yet but will the evening of the event and the next day.
I then popped over to TriBike Transport to make sure my name and bib number was on the valet list. Normally I ship with TriBike but for Dallas I just drive the bike down with me but the valet service is $40 and simply gets them to pick up your bike and run/bike transition bags the night of the event and bring it back to the IRONMAN village for the next day. This means you don’t have to worry about it after finishing the IRONMAN and worth every penny to me!
Then off to Macaroni Grill for my ritual pre-IRONMAN diet of marinara pasta with grilled chicken breast on the side for lunch with water. I will have the same for dinner, the same for lunch the next day finishing off with a cheese pizza from Grimaldi’s for dinner the night before the IRONMAN.
I checked into my hotel (which I had the bad luck of a room that had a door to adjoining room which had a young family containing a toddler that screamed and shouted all 3 nights I was there till midnight which because of the door seemed like was in the room with me meaning I didn’t sleep till the kid did) and laid all my gear out in 3 piles on the floor: clothes for the morning, bike transition bag content and run transition bag content. When I think about the content I need I run through in my mind getting dressed from feet up to head to make sure I’m not missing anything. The 2016 Texas athlete guide had a great checklist:
Remember if you are not wearing a trisuit you also need to pack things like bike shorts/shirt, run shorts/shirt etc. I packed the bags and set them aside for drop off tomorrow. I don’t use the special needs bags (these are available on the course for things like extra nutrition, spare inner tubes etc but you don’t get these back at the end so put in nothing of value). I then proceeded to veg out and just watch reruns of The Office.
On Friday I had a bagel for breakfast and some fruit then went to the transition point with my bike, run and bike transition bags. Everyone is super helpful and will direct you. Find your row for the bike (don’t have the tires fully inflated, you pump them up the morning of), hang it up by the saddle then drop off the bags. Then off for pasta, pizza and more The Office reruns.
Friday night I only got a few hours sleep because of nerves and the loud kid next door but at 3 I got up, had some apple sauce, a power cake, packed my morning bag and just hung around. At 4:30 I headed out. I park at a garage by the IRONMAN village then walk to the transition area which officially opens at 5:30 but they normally open earlier. Here you go pump up your tires to race pressure (100 for me) and there are technicians up at the front to do it for you but also people bring their own who always share. This is where my bike nightmare begun. I pumped up to 100 PSI and my front tire no longer spun. The new tires they put on were bigger and when pumped fully were hitting the frame. I’m not a bike expert at all. This was stupid on my part to change tires the weekend before and even though I did a quick test I hadn’t pumped to 100 and the company that did it never thought of it either. My solution was to lower the wheel slightly which seemed to fix it however I suspected gravity would be my enemy over time when I started riding but nothing I could do at this point.
I then walked to the swim start where they do the body marking and you can drop off your morning (white) clothes bag which will be moved to the finish line available when you finish. You also drop off the special needs bags if you have them and then wait.
The water temperature was wetsuit optional which means you can wear a wetsuit but you start after the people who don’t wear them and you are not eligible for age group awards. Not a concern for me 🙂 so I opted to wear a wetsuit since I’d injured my shoulder in training and my entire swim training consisted of 2 half mile swims and 1 one mile swim! Everyone is super friendly and generally happy to chat. The lines for the restrooms were super long so make sure you give yourself enough time. It was a rolling start with athletes self-seeding which means people are constantly entering the water and you choose when you enter. If you are slower don’t try and get in first as people will be swimming over you so put yourself in the right place. I entered the water about 6:50 and the water was great temperature but solid brown. You could not see ANYTHING in there at all. I settled into a very easy pace and I tend to stay on the outside as I don’t want to get kicked in the face and an extra few minutes is not going to significantly impact my 14 hour time. It was a straight up and down course and then a right turn into the canal. The canal portion was disgusting. I was constantly getting long strings of something in my hands and on my face (last year the swim course was changed as the canal was too polluted to swim in) but was still swimming easy and felt good. Then at the end its a sharp left just before getting out where everyone funneled together and got knocked around a bit. People were on hand to help you get out the water and undo the wetsuit. 1:28:15 for the swim which for me is good and I got out feeling great with very little energy expended.
Now a run up, grab the bike bag and into the changing tent. I get changed into my bike gear and this took a while. My next IRONMAN (Santa Rosa) I’m going to try a trisuit to avoid the changes from swim to bike to run. I then run up to the bike and its very muddy. I grab the bike and walk it to the mounting line. I got on the bike and my shoes would not snap in to the peddles. The mud had clogged everything up. I pulled over and stomped my feet to get the mud off then my feet clipped in and off I went. The first 20ish miles were on normal roads before going onto the closed off highway on which I would ride two loops.
About 60 minutes in I started to hear a very loud screeching noise and could not work out what it was and I noticed my legs were getting tired. Noise went and came back louder than ever. I pulled over and sure enough my front tire would barely move. I had been fighting the tire as it had slipped up again so was rubbing on the frame. Damn. I loosened it again, pulled it down a few millimeters and tightened. It spun and off I went again. About 30 minutes later the massive screeching again and I saw one of the mobile mechanics on the side of the road (there is great on course support with motor bikes roaming helping cyclists if you have a problem). He basically told me what I was doing was not going to work (as I had found) and the only solution was to let air out the tire. He let out a lot of air until it no longer rubbed on the frame. So now I’m on a tire without enough air pressure but better than it was and off I went no longer worrying about the tire. Lesson learned here is to not make changes just before an event and test in the same circumstances as the actual event. Stupid but not a mistake I’ll make again.
The part on the highway (80 miles of the 112) was basically 20 miles South in a straight line, 20 miles North back and then turn and repeat once more. There were a few small rolling hills but nothing bad and as soon as you went up you would go down straight after it. After completing the first Southbound 20 miles, turning and going North and with about 10 miles until I was going to turn to go South again a strong wind started that was blowing almost directly South which means straight against you which slowed down and was getting stronger but in my mind I was thinking in 10 miles it would be behind and then yay! I turned and with the good tailwind I was going about 23-24 mph for bits and the wind was only getting stronger. As I neared the turning point I was filled with dread and sure enough a massive headwind slowing me to about 15 mph for the remaining 20 miles of the highway. I saw people by the side of the road bloodied and heard the wind had blown people off of bikes. For once being heavy worked in my favor 🙂
Once you left the highway there was about 12 miles left which was all still going North which meant all still had the massive headwind and sucked and was so happy to see the transition area. Bike was 6:10:15 which was slower than I had hoped (6 was my goal) but with the tire problems and the massive headwind I was fine. In my head I was thinking I had to do 5:30 for the marathon to hit 13:30 which was my hopeful goal.
My nutrition went well on the bike though. On the course they have stations every 10 miles giving out 750ml bottles of water and orange Gatorade in addition to bananas etc. There are also restrooms as the stations and amazing volunteers. I took Gatorade at every stop and occasionally a water. Every hour I ate a Gu (that I took with me) and at 20 minutes and 40 minutes I ate half of a waffle (which I also took with me). About 400 calories an hour.
At the transition they take your bike and re-rack for you and I went and grabbed my run bag, went to change tent and changed into my running gear. Then out I went (after quickly getting another round of sunscreen from the volunteers outside the change tent). On me I had 5 Gus and 5 waffles along with two small bottles that I planned to fill one with water and one with lime Gatorade (that they have on course). I ate a Gu quick and while I initially planned to walk at first I felt pretty good so decided to just easily jog and looking at my old running watch was going about 6mph. At the water stops (which are every mile with water, Gatorade, red bull, coke and then every few miles have Gus, blocks etc) I would ask them to fill up my bottles as needed which they always did.
The run is 3 loops of a roughly 9 mile loop which is super flat with great spectator support throughout. You run through some park areas, some nice housing areas and the canal area. The run was feeling good so I decided to just run non-stop for the first loop. The temperature was probably around 70 (the high was 75 for the day) which was amazing and I was breathing great. I got round loop 1 without having to walk and decided to keep going into loop 2. At around mile 13 my times were great and I constantly do math to work out “if I walked now at 4mph what time would I finish in” and I had worked out I could now walk and still finish in 5:30 as I was at about 2 hours 10 minutes for the half and my breathing was getting more labored. I decided to walk for a bit to recover. I guess I walked for about half a mile then started running again. In my head I was now thinking to break 5 hours for the marathon which was very doable but I knew I was slowing down. I ran for another 3-4 miles then walked again a little for about 5 minutes but then ran again. I was also getting mild tingling in my lips.
I had planned a Gu an hour and a waffle at the same intervals as the bike but was unable to eat the waffle at all as my body made it clear to me I would be sorry if I even tried. This meant I was just having 1 Gu an hour and the Gatorade meaning I was way short on my calories for the run. I also was licking base salts every couple of miles. I didn’t want to take banana, pretzels, broth or anything else as I had not trained with that.
I was at about mile 22 and was at about 4 hours and 5 minutes. I knew if I wanted to break 5 hours I would have to run the next 4.2 miles with no walk break so off I went. I don’t have a tri watch so had no clue of my overall time. I knew I was at about 8 hours after the bike with the swim and two transitions but not an exact idea. I really wish I had as if I had known I probably would have pushed just a tiny bit harder. At your final loop you split off right to the finish line which is a few hundred yards left. You down a slight decline with people cheering your on and you just find more energy and speed up (no one will ever know you walked/crawled bits earlier on). You take a U-turn and run up the final slight incline to the finish line. People high-five you as you run and you cross the line and those words you have been waiting for “John Savill, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.
As you cross the finish line there are volunteers to basically catch you as once that adrenalin wears off you tend to collapse a little. They wrap the metal blanket thing round you and walk you to get your medal, hat and finisher t-shirt and then get your picture taken.
My marathon time was 4:55:45 which I was delighted about. Sub-5 was amazing for me as part of the IRONMAN. I still don’t know my final time though. I know its around 13 hours but not sure if over or under. You then walk to the food and I grabbed some pizza (which was stone cold) and a can of coke. I then found a chair and sat down. At this point I get a terrible tingling in my face and lips. This happens to me every time. I’ve tried to research and its either lack of sugar or lack of water. Not sure which. I just sat in the chair trying to eat but couldn’t really and had a few sips of coke and water. I sat for about 10 minutes. The tingling didn’t really go away but it does not panic me anymore. I went and picked up my morning clothes bag to get my car key and made my way to the car park where I grabbed my phone to text my wife and look at look at my final time. Sadly the tracking site still had not updated to show me finishing the run nor would it the entire night! It was not until next morning the site updated my times so I could see my final time!
Drove to the hotel while chatting to my wife on the phone. I knew it was around 13 hours which was still awesome and I was delighted. Made my way to the room, drank a protein shake, half a milky way but couldn’t really eat still. Jumped in the shower then went to bed and didn’t sleep a wink of sleep all night. I just could not sleep. Not sure because I was buzzed about the time. Maybe the amount of Gatorade I had consumed during the day. But zero sleep but that was fine. I just did an awesome IRONMAN.
About 3am I just gave up even trying and tried to check my time again which had now updated!!! 13 hours, 1 minute and 54 seconds. I just missed 13 hours but I crushed my previous best by nearly 90 minutes. I suspect the extra running training and the cooler temperatures coupled with the additional calories thanks to Gatorade was the reason but no idea what the bigger impact was. If it had not been for the bike problems I would easily have broken 13 hours but oh well. I’m happy with that.
At 6 am I got up and drove to the IRONMAN village. I got breakfast at the Westin (where I’m staying next year to avoid having to drive on the day and stress about my car key getting lost in the morning clothes bag 🙂 ) then off to the store to buy an awesome finisher jacket and t-shirt. I then picked up my bike and bags from TriBike, put in my car then drove home which I arrived at about 11:00am. Pancakes for lunch then it was III forks for dinner and a tasty steak 🙂
Next up is Santa Rosa in 3 months time. It will be warmer and the bike hillier. What will I do differently? I need to focus on my swimming, carry on improving my bike times and run times but I’ve just bought the Fenix 5 tri-watch so I’ll better know my times and will buy a tri-suit to cut my transition times. I need new running glasses as I lost them at the finish line. I also need to think about 2 Gus an hour on the run as clearly waffles don’t work at that point. I’ll be taking my bike to the bike store and getting the front wheel replaced with a smaller one!
Completely opposite to what makes sense for the IRONMAN I’m trying to gain muscle wanting to get to about 205 from my current 195 but that will probably take about a year as its slow to gain with all the IRONMAN training. I’m happy to have lots of goals and believe I can still improve all round.
In summary an amazing experience. I love the IRONMAN events. I love the volunteers and the spectators and the IRONMAN team. They are always well organized even when factors beyond their control get in the way.
Most I love my wife and my family without whose support I would be unable to train and participate in these events.
See you at the next one!
For most people actually working out is not the problem. The problem is getting to the gym, the problem is finding time, the problem is there is always something else that needs doing. The reality is if you really want to do something you’ll find a way, if you don’t you’ll find an excuse (the Rock said that!). It’s very true. When I don’t want to do something I’ll find a million reasons why I can’t. If I want to do something I’ll always find a way. You need to motivate yourself to want to train and that motivation will be different for everyone.
What does not work is someone else’s motivation. Someone else wants you to lose weight, someone else wants to run a marathon so you need to run with them. Sure you may get bullied into training for a while but someone else’s motivation is destined to fail. They may lose their own motivation which means you both quit or you get fed up with them so quit to “show them you don’t have to”. You need to find a motivation for you.
Now, that motivation could very well be something that will impact someone else. You want to get fitter so you can play more with your kids. Great! You want to lose weight to look better for your partner (without them pestering you to). Great! You want to get healthier to improve your overall quality of life and set a good example for your kids. Perfect. You want your wife to look at you the way she looks at Stephen Amell on TV. Make it happen! It’s still your choice and something you want to do. If others benefit as well that’s just extra goodness.
Motivation has to kick in at different times during training. There need to be long term and short term motivations.
- There is the motivation to decide and maintain training. This is a long term motivation. I like to train to be healthy, so I can protect my family, to set an example for my family and to allow me to eat complete crap occasionally! Work out what yours is. A mission statement for you.
- While training there is the motivation to push yourself. To run that extra 5 minutes. To go for the extra set. To do some abdominals. Here you may ask yourself “why are you here?” and you’ll answer with your long term motivation. You have a goal. You are here to achieve it so work and achieve it! There may also be short term motivations. “Hey, if I run 10 more minutes that’s 150 extra calories I’ll burn. I can totally have a red velvet buntini after dinner” (I love those things). OR “hey 150 more calories burnt, that’s nearly a 1/20th of a pound of fat burnt, woo hoo!”. Beating your personal best! I ran at 6.7mph last week, I’m going to run at 6.8mph this week.
I have Arnold Schwarzenegger in my head a lot when I train (or Arnie as he likes me to call him… in my mind). “Come on John, you can do it <with an accent>, push it harder, my grandmother in Austria lifted more than that, don’t be a girly man”. Arnie is my life long idle 🙂 Pick someone you look up to and let them motivate you during training! Train with someone where possible and motivate each other during training. It’s also great so you can spot each other!
- When you want to give up there is the motivation not to. You are tired and still have 20 minutes left of cardio and an easy exit is right there. How not to take it. Once again there is the long term goal but this is where you need a mind shift a little. As long as its not some sharp pain indicating injury but rather just muscle aching from working out then we need to push through. You need to say to yourself “this is uncomfortable and it kinda sucks but you know what, its OK to feel this way. I’m getting stronger”. It’s a mind shift but its vital. I struggled with running long distances until I had this mind shift. You’re going to be uncomfortable but you’ll get through it and next time you’ll be able to push a bit harder. That much closer to a goal.
I’ll say movie quotes to myself when I’m tired to get myself fired up. I’ll play the scene from Rocky Balboa in my mind when he talks to his son about its how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward (go buy the movie but if you are cheap search for Rocky Balboa Inspirational Speech). I’ll remind myself what a fantastic, easy life I have that this is the hardest thing in it and others have it far worse to survive and am I really going to give up. There was a news video of a little 8-year old boy with Cerebral Palsy completing a triathlon. At the finish line he pushed aside his walking aid and just ran. He fell, got up, ran, fell down, got up, ran and he finished. Seriously the tiredness I fell, do I truly believe I have it worse than that brave little 8-year old boy. Hell no. He motivates me more than anything else and I think of him often when I want to give up. Go watch it at https://youtu.be/bEWO9JljMCY . When you want to quit remind yourself of that brave little boy and ask do you have some excuse better than him?
- When there is some tasty food I really want but know I shouldn’t. I’ll remind myself of my long term motivations. I’ll remind myself really its just a short term fix and I’ll just want more and to instead eat something healthier however at the same time I believe occasionally have a treat. Just watch the portion and frequency but it’s OK to treat yourself now and then.
In my bedroom closet I have a set of pictures I look at the start of every day. You can see it below. Maybe you have a mirror you can place some pictures on, or notes, or anything you want. Some people get a little tattoo but I wouldn’t get “lose 10lbs” written on your body anywhere important and there are less permanent options. You just want something to keep you going.
Everyone is different. There is no one motivation for everyone but I strongly urge you before embarking on a training regime to work out your motivation (and see a doctor to make sure there are no problems) as it will help you keep training rather than aggressively embarking on a super training goal and then fading out within a month. Look inside yourself for why you want to train and think of ways to remind yourself of it. And I’m focusing on training but really this applies to anything in life. Education, stopping a bad habit, starting a good habit. Motivate!
Where it all began and today’s training.
A new year and I’ve decided to create a new blog (and twitter and for the first time an Instagram whatever that is for but I’ll work it out). I’ve had another blog and twitter handle for a long time over at http://www.savilltech.com and @NTFAQGuy that focuses on my computer related activities such as technical how-to videos and books I write but for this new blog I wanted to focus on my training related activities.
I’m currently training for three Ironman events this year:
- Texas (end of April)
- Santa Rosa (end of July)
- Chattanooga (end of September)
These are not my first, I’ve done three previously (I’ll get to that) but for those that are not sure an Ironman is a triathlon event and the distances are:
- 2.4-mile swim
- 112-mile bike ride
- 26.2-mile run (a full marathon)
At the end of this you get a shiny bit of metal, bragging rights and then you go get a tattoo of the M-Dot, you can see mine below.
Most Ironman athletes are lean, designed for speed and grace. I’m not. At all. Now over 3 months recently I dropped about 20 lbs of fat but I’m still at around 200 lbs. which is very big for an Ironman and definitely does not help but I have lots of conflicting goals, but that’s OK!
My goal for this blog is not 100% clear to me right now, I have a few thoughts but it may evolve over time:
- Something to track my progress
- A place to share guidance for people that ask for training/diet advice however I want to be very clear. I’M NOT TRAINED TO GIVE TRAINING OR NUTRITIONAL ADVICE. I’ve found some things that work for me and happy to share but everyone is different
- My wife wants me to set her some programs for her training so I’ll share those here as “Wifey Workouts” but many beyond women could use them to get started
- Random thoughts
For this first post I want to set some background to who I am, my goals, what I’ve done so far to establish some trust and then what training I did today.
I’m British. Born and raised in London and have been in Texas for about 13 years. I love it in Texas. People are friendly, it’s a great standard of living, loads to do although it can get a bit warm 🙂.
When I was very young my father and I did various martial arts. I started out with Karate (various forms) which I enjoyed.
But then I stopped and I have a very sweet tooth. I don’t eat salad. Or vegetables (except potatoes when served with a steak or cut up into little fingers with a burger or hot dog). I like pizza, pasta, burgers, hot dogs, cakes, sweets. You get the idea. People think because I train a lot I like nothing more than to eat salad. I don’t and won’t. Part of the reason I train is so I can eat tasty things but we’ll get to that as well. I put on weight and this picture sums it up pretty well. I guess I was about 10 (this was a joke picture taken at Disney World).
I remember at a school event one of the teachers said to me in front of my Dad (who was very fit, rode the bike to work every day) “John, looks like you’re eating too many packets of crisps” (crisps = chips). Well that next day an exercise bike appeared in my bedroom and each night I would go on it. There was no malice here by my Dad. There was no meanness. It was to help me and it did. I would watch TV or listen to radio programs (the original BBC Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy was a favorite of mine) as I peddled my little butt off. Now today I think people would frown on this type of “body shaming”, I don’t know. It came from concern for my health and love and it gave me the awareness of my body that at least kept me training. I lost weight and we started doing martial arts again. I remember one Saturday going to piano lesson and this little Asian lady who I saw every week said “You’ve lost weight, you used to have face like apple”. Thanks!
My Dad and I did Tae Kwon Do, Kempo Jujitsu, Aikido, Thai Boxing. There were nights I did 4 hours of martial arts. Two hours of Tae Kwon Do then straight after 2 hours of Kempo Jujitsu. It was awesome. I did this 6 days a week. We never cared about belts. We learnt what we could from different systems and found things that worked for us. To this day, I practice combinations from all the different martial arts. I was never good at many things but I was good at that.
Well at 18 I had to get a job and at night I would study for a degree in computer science which I got. I rode my bike to work each day as at first I could not afford the train fare. Rain or shine I would ride 15 miles from Welling to London then 15 miles back in the evening. In the morning after riding my bike to work I would go to the gym and do weights, punch bag etc. As my career progressed I could afford the train and you get soft and riding my bike in the freezing rain became less attractive so I became a “fair weather rider” then eventually I stopped riding altogether but I would still get up at the crack of dawn and go to the gym before work. I was fit and strong but I loved my bad food so no matter how much you train if you consume more calories than you eat you will put on weight and I did. Some people I trained with bet I couldn’t lose 2 stone (about 30 pounds) in 3 months but if I did they would buy me a big steak dinner so I went on a diet for 3 months and lost 2 stone. This is important as it’s the same diet I used again recently to trim down. The diet? Actually simple:
- No wheat based products (so no bread or pasta which killed me)
- Nothing fried
- No fast food
- No dairy (milk, cheese, butter)
- No candy, cakes
- No soda
I basically lived on chicken, beef (lean), potatoes, rice, tomato and onion. Oh, and delicious water. Now if you like salad great. If you like fish, great. If you like vegetables, great. You can eat that but I didn’t. I would have the odd bit of fruit but honestly didn’t and don’t like that much either. Just watch the quantities! Portion control is key. I don’t know if this is any “fad” diet today but it worked. It probably worked because I hated every bite so you would not overeat but it worked and I kept the weight off and then added tasty food back but with a bit more control. It’s interesting when you do this type of diet as when you come off it you can’t eat burgers. It tastes terrible as its so greasy but I got them back 🙂
Time carries on and I moved to America. I carried on training before work every day at 24 hour fitness initially and now Lifetime Fitness. I also got back into martial arts taking up Krav Maga and quickly they asked me to become an instructor so I would go out to LA every few months to go through instructor training and certified at Brown Belt Krav Maga Worldwide instructor level and completed the Black belt training but at this point I had got bored with teaching. It was supposed to be my hobby but I was the senior instructor at the school and just was not enjoying it so I stopped. Krav is not like a Karate where everyone is a black belt. It took me about 7 years to get to Brown Belt instructor level it took more to complete the black belt training. You go out to LA for each phase of instructor training (which is a full week) so you can teach that level. During this time I also completed things like the Gracie Survival Tactics (GST) which is a one week course given to police and army self-defense instructors and I was allowed to attend as I taught several police officers and that was great. I wanted a new challenge.
Running seemed like a good thing as in the past I had done the London marathon but never really liked running but Disneyworld were doing marathons and I LOVE Disneyworld so I decided to do that. They have something called the Dopey challenge (I’ve just signed up for the 2018). This is:
- 5k run on Thursday
- 10k run on Friday
- Half marathon (13.1 miles) on Saturday
- Full marathon (26.2 miles) on Sunday
I did the inaugural one and many other Disney runs and you get LOTS of bling! You get medals for each individual run, one for doing the half and full (the Goofy) and then another for doing all 4 (the Dopey).
Now I’m still doing lots of weights. I never wanted to be small. I was about 210 at this time. There is plenty of fat in there but also muscle 🙂 I did a lot of cardio but balanced to keep/gain muscle. Motivations are our own but being strong was always important to me. You may say “but you did martial arts and size does not matter”. That is a load of crap. Yes, with enough skill you can overcome a larger, stronger opponent but over 30 years of martial arts has taught me size and strength is huge, especially on the ground. I trained with Renner Gracie at the GST and he said the best thing related to size “for every 6 months of training it enables you to match someone 10 lbs heavier”. So if someone is 100 pounds heavier than you then about 5 years of training will help even things up assuming they have no training.
I did every Disney run and wanted something new. At Disney I saw someone wearing an Ironman finisher jacket. Now I had heard of the Ironman but never seriously considered doing one. I had never swam freestyle, I did breaststroke. I was pretty confident on the bike part and obviously could do a marathon but all those things together. Now this guy was pretty old so I decided that was next. I went home and signed up for the Texas 2015 Ironman in May. About 4 months of training time. I did an Olympic triathlon (about ¼ of the distances) once in England after I ran the London marathon but nothing since. I didn’t do a half Ironman first. I just went for it. I had friends who said I would fail that I was too big and would never do it. One even bet me to cook me BBQ dinner if I succeeded (that was a tasty meal).
So I learnt to swim front crawl (freestyle) started doing miles on the bike and running. Now ALL of my training was on a stationary bike at the gym and on a treadmill (which is how I did most marathon training). The weekend before the Ironman I went out on my old (14 years old) racing bike I bought in England for the triathlon I did there for 20 miles to get the feel of it but that was it. I didn’t use a coach. During this extra cardio I did extra weights to ensure I didn’t lose muscle and actually went up in weight to about 220 (some muscle and some fat as clearly since I was doing so much training I should eat everything I’ve ever wanted to right? 🙂 ).
I’ll do a separate, detailed blog post about my first Ironman experience for those considering but it was amazing. The support, the people are out of this world. My actual performance. Ugh! It was BRUTAL. In many ways. Now, before I go further I did not train enough, at all. A friend of mine says you have to pay the price. You pay in training or you pay on the day. Well, I paid on the day! The swim was hard and I wore a wetsuit but the bike! It was 100% humidity and about 95 degrees. I used a special sun tan lotion I bought at the triathlon store. Well, it was crap. On the bike ride I could feel my skin actually cooking. Now Ironman have their own lotion stations that smother you up and I used that for the run portion and always use now but the damage was done. I got off the bike totally dead. I found out the next day I had second degree burns on my legs and arms when I went to the Carenow where I got some silver cream stuff and bandages. Take a look. Also notice the chubbiness 🙂 This was taken the day after by my wife when I got home.
I still have tan lines on my arms from 2 years ago! Well I remember sitting in the transition tent thinking “there is no way I can run a marathon now” but then I realized I just had to. So I got up and basically walked 26.2 miles. You are not allowed headphones or music during an Ironman so it was just me and the crowds (who are awesome) but I was exhausted. I also get up very early so go to bed early so by 9pm I was mentally tired as well and the last few miles took forever but I finished. My final times were:
- Swim – 1:37:31
- Bike – 6:33:27
- Run (walk) – 6:28:51
Overall time 15:09:50 with transitions (which were loonnnggggggg). BUT I FINISHED!
As I crossed the finish line I kinda was falling and someone caught me. They stood me up long enough to take the picture then I collapsed, was put in a wheelchair where I spent an hour in the medical tent where I experienced the worse pain of my life. Now there was an IV shortage so if you were consious they made you hydrate by mouth so I had to drink chicken broth however they saw the sunburn and tried to help me by putting a cold wet cloth on my legs. Well to this day I don’t know what happened but that cold cloth hit my leg and a cramp surged up my body into my stomach and I just doubled over in intense pain. My stomach would not stop cramping and I was just clenched over growling trying hard not to cry 🙂 I was an Ironman after all and Ironman don’t cry. An hour later I was allowed out the tent (they were amazing in there) and drove myself to hotel where I phoned my wife (who stayed in Allen as we have young twins). Turns out the runner tracking didn’t update for a while during the run so my wife who was monitoring suddenly got no updates for about 90 minutes where it caught up. She told me she seriously wondered if I was dead when it stopped tracking as she knew I would never give up so that was the conclusion. I swore I was done. Bucket list checked. Went to sleep.
I woke up, went and collected my bike and bags (I used the tribiketransport valet service which for $40 they pick up your bags and bike even if you don’t ship with them so you can pickup next day which is AWESOME) and bought the finisher jacket, polo and anything else to show I had done an Ironman J A week later I went and got the tattoo. On the drive home (which sucked as I was hurting from muscle pain and burnt skin) I considered what I had achieved and really felt that had not been my best attempt. I was sure I could do better. By the time I got home 4 hours later I was going to sign up for next years as it had been freak weather, I had not trained enough and it was not my best.
So I did some more training but really was not much better than the year before in terms of preparation (but a little better, I bought a new fancy bike which I was sure would shave hours off my bike time, I was disappointed) but fate was not on my side. Now the good news is I never visited the medical tent this time however there was very bad flooding for the 2016 Texas Ironman. So much that chunks of the bike course were gone so it was reduced to only 96 miles (if I remember correctly) so not really a full Ironman any more. It was still hot but during the marathon there was a massive hail storm. I was between stations when it hit so basically I was out running (walking) during a painful hail storm. I remember that my face was hurting but honestly I was too beaten to care much. I finished. Times and finishing below. Now they are better but remember the bike was 16 miles shorter!
So once again. Can’t really count this. I decided to do another Ironman that would be cooler weather so next day I signed up for Chattanooga (the only places left were Foundation which cost double but that extra goes to charity so I was OK with that). Chattanooga in September will be cool I said. That will give me a better shot I said as I don’t do well in the heat. We don’t have heat in England. I sweat. A lot (as we’ll discuss when I get to todays training).
I also decided I needed to shed some fat without losing muscle. I was confident I had about 20 lbs of fat I could lose that would help not having to carry it around on the course so I did my 3 month diet again I did in England about 15 years previous. Remember?
- No wheat based products (so no bread or pasta which killed me)
- Nothing fried
- No fast food
- No dairy (milk, cheese, butter)
- No candy, cakes
- No soda
Now. I made a few changes. Firstly I allowed myself a whole-wheat muffin in the mornings before training. Also on Tuesday night I would have cheesecake factory where I had large bowl of rigatoni pasta with marinara sauce with grilled chicken breast on the side and on Friday night I could have pizza. These were the nights before my big cardio days. I also think its good to give the body lots of carbs a couple of times a week to “trick” it. Also I have the occasional treat. When we go out for pizza we get ice cream after. If we go to movies I take some chocolate raisins with me (branchs are my favorite) and on Fridays I’ll have a couple of donuts for breakfast instead of a banana (one maple glaze and one vanilla sprinkle). I try to be good most of the time but like the 80:20 rule. 80% of the time be good but 20% of the time cheat a little. I enjoy Christmas day and eat what I want etc. On date night with my wife I’ll have tasty things. My typical training is:
- Monday – 60 minutes hill running then hour chest and triceps
- Tuesday – 60 minutes bike/swim/elliptical then hour back and biceps
- Wednesday – 2 or more hours cardio then little shoulders
- Thursday – 45 minutes elliptical and 1:15 chest and triceps
- Friday – 60 minutes stair machine then hour back and biceps
- Saturday – Hours and hours of cardio misery (bike then running but mostly bike)
Notice I don’t really do legs or abs but I’ve just started to add in 10 minutes of abs after every day as my wife fantasies about Jason Statham so that’s the goal 😀
I lost 20 lbs going from 220 to 200 and actually gained some muscle. I was eating a lot of protein powder (and still do). Also I’ve made this more of a lifestyle change. I still don’t drink any soda (in fact I don’t like it now even though Dr Pepper Ten used to be my favorite) and trying to just generally be better. After training I have 60 grams of protein and a banana. About 9:30 am have a 20 g protein shake, have lunch, at around 2 pm have 20 g protein shake, have dinner (at 5) then about 7:30 have 25g casein protein before bed (which is about 9pm, I get up at 4am most days). I’ve never drunk alcohol (except at Christmas, Baileys, yum), never smoked or tried any drugs so those things are not factors. My parents never drunk or did those things so were never exposed to them and with all the martial arts never liked the idea of them. Apart from eating complete crap my body was a temple 😀 I am a very happy, silly person (my wife will tell you). I’m pretty immature. I read comics still. I wear superhero under armor shirts when I train (in part to motivate me). I’ve never needed alcohol to have a good time.
So I was in better shape and done some better training so was ready.
Well guess what. Chattanooga had freak weather in 2016 and it was about 95 degrees. Unbelievable. Now the swim is AWESOME. It is downstream. There were pictures of plastic bags who made the cut off time :-). The bike course is 116 miles instead of 112 (I guess to make up for the easier swim) and it was hilly as was the run but I did it however my times really were not that great. Once again the heat sucked everything out of me but at least I didn’t burn or visit the medical tent.
My goal is to go to Kona, the ultimate Ironman and I’ll never qualify with my size/training so they have a legacy program. Do 12 Ironmans you can apply via a lottery so that’s my goal. That is why in 2017 I want to do three. That would get me half way there. I’ve also maintained training and focused more on running. I just did a couple of marathons and have up’d my Saturday training which brings me to today!!!
I don’t normally take pictures of weight or setup but wanted to share my setup a little and where I am now. Also because every villain in a movie is British I’m therefore untrustworthy so felt the need to backup what I say with a little evidence to build trust. My goal for today was more than last week which was:
- 3:20 on the bike (about 70 miles)
- 2:10ish running (13.1 miles)
Today I wanted to add 10 minutes of swimming first (1/4 mile) and 20 minutes to the bike ride. This is the first time I’ve swam since Chattanooga. This would be about 6 hours of cardio. So below was my planned nutrition.
I have one extra waffle and gu as my routine is for drink I add Nuun to my water and for food :
- On the hour a Gu
- 20 minutes past hour half a waffle
- 40 minutes past hour other half of waffle
This gets me about 250 calories an hour and I drink about a liter of water each hour (starts of less then increases). I thought I would take some baseline pictures based on the scale at the gym which are below.
Now that bodyfat % is not right. I’m higher than that and I don’t care about BMI. Also you may think at even around 9% I have rippling abs. I don’t 🙂 There are numerous reasons for this
- Everyone carries weight differently. I carry it around my gut and hips. I have very little fat on my chest, arms, back, legs etc
- That is a percentage and I’m heavy. 9% of 197 is still nearly 18 pounds of fat. My twins were about 6 lbs each when they were born so I have 3 small newborns of fat on me 🙂
- I’ve never done much abdominal training so don’t have much under the fat except from working rest of body
But I’m getting there. That’s where I am right now.
So to the bike. 3:40 is the goal for today. Below is my bike setup. I take 3 bikes. One to ride on. One next to me to hang nutrition bag between and one in front to put ipad on. I’m here at 4am so will be in room till about 8am way before any classes start. I also put down towels everywhere as I’m disgusting and sweat huge amounts and even with these towels I have to get lots of wipes after to clean up for next people.
Well did the 3:40. Had to take a potty break at 1:30 and the clock reset but below is the final 2:10 which taking those averages over 3:40 makes it just under 78 miles and 2800 calories. I watched the last 2 hours of Hateful Eight and the new Jake Reacher movie during the bike ride. I preferred the first Reacher film but was still pretty good. Last week I watched Iron Man and Hard Rain, the week before was the 80’s Flash movie (still awesome). I like watching films as it helps the time pass and makes me look up which is important when actually riding a bike! My first Ironman my neck was killing me from looking up as I wasn’t used to it.
I had used up one of the 1.5 liter smart waters so in total had drunk 2.5 liters of water. I filled up my normal bottle from the tap (1 liter), put on my knee sleeves and did the run and did the 2:10, 13.1 miles. I don’t watch movies during the run and instead just listen to music as looking down is not ideal.
I got through the 1 liter in my bottle and most of the final 1.5 liter smart water so nearly another 2.5 liters drunk putting me at 5 liters total drank over the 6 hours of cardio:
- 10 minutes swim
- 3:40 bike
- 2:10 run
I also had eaten 6 waffles and 6 gus so had consumed about 1500 calories and burnt about 5000 (would have burnt some during the swim, maybe 100 ish) so 3500 difference (lb of fat, but of course you don’t just burn fat). I stretched a little and weighed myself again before having a shower (I had flip flops and towel on so maybe 1 lb added)
So 191 from 197. 6 lbs less. Now that is not all water as we burn other stuff but maybe 5 lbs of water loss. 2.2lbs of water is 1 liter so I’m down just over 2 liters of water and I drank 5 during so my body has exhaled/sweated 7 lbs of water over the last 6 hours. Gross!
So now I’m home. Drank my 60 g of protein on drive home and just had egg white tacos with a few steak fries and low fat mac ‘n cheese in it which is awesome along with a little treat of punch to get my sugar up a bit. Dinner will be spaghetti bolognaise at Maggiano’s :-).
A good days training. My goal is to increase the swim, bike and run next week a little. I want to be in a much better place for the Texas Ironman this year and with 3 months of training still to go and being where I am right now I feel pretty good. I need to really focus on swimming during the week and mid-week runs.
I feel like the ending of Shawshank Redemption. You’ve come this far maybe you’re willing to come a little further. This was a very long post. About 3 hours sitting here writing straight after the training but it was great writing it. Made me think about a lot of things. Going forward they will be much shorter. I’ll post progress, post workouts for the wife (and others) and just other thoughts.
I am no expert, this is just what I do and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but I’m always learning. This may motivate you. It may give you ideas. It may just be interesting or none of them.
I am lucky that I get to try many things and none of this would be possible without my amazing wife Julie who supports all the crazy things I want to do, always encourages me and takes the full burden of looking after everyone including me!
If you take one thing from this let it be that anyone can do anything. You don’t have to be super lean, you don’t have to make things a singular goal. I truly believe that anyone can do anything. You just have to have will power and a true desire. You may not always do what you wanted. You may not always finish but that’s OK. The only true failure in life is to not try. I believe that absolutely. Watch the final minutes of an Ironman. It brings tears to my eyes, the heart and soul of these people that do not give up. They may not finish but they will do their best. Amazing to me. I mentioned I read comics. There is one part that sums up my beliefs from Fantastic Four 604 about trying and what true failure is and I’ll end with that for today.
Thank you and never let someone tell you what you can’t do.