Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Let me just cut to the chase and mention that I crashed my bike at Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens.  This is my first crash in training or racing since starting the sport.

Around mile 30 and after the toughest climb and steepest descent, I laid the bike down on a dusty 90 degree corner made slick by the rain.  I scrubbed all the speed I thought was required and as I was entering the turn, I found myself on the ground; it was that instantaneous.  I'm pretty sure I yelled as I was falling and hit the pavement.  I got up and the traffic officer asked if I was ok and was I going to continue.  If so, I needed to head to the nearest medical tent, get cleaned up, and checked out.  I obliged.  The tent was nearby.  I got rinsed a bit and was asked lots of cognitive questions.  They checked my helmet (it didn't hit the ground apparently) and I was on my way.

I was wounded pretty badly, though I didn't know how bad until later.  My bike was wounded...  this I knew for certain.  My front derailleur shifter had broken off, leaving me in the big ring.  My rear derailleur was bent in and I couldn't shift to the top of the cassette without the derailleur hitting the spokes.  If I was to finish, it would be me and my bike finishing wounded.

I could handle the descents ok, though in pain due to some major forearm bruising and bleeding, but the ascents were tough.  I was zigzagging up the hills sometimes as low as 35 rpm.  I chastised myself most of the way, telling myself I need to make back up the ground I lost and find a way to get to the run.  It was all heart, good nutrition, and some good fitness that took me to the line.  I got into T2 with a 2:49:50 bike split.


Prior to the race, I was settling into a state I can now call "ready".  I was pretty mellow.  Getting ready, I was less crazy and more purposeful.  I let myself chill, didn't stress, incorporated some quality time with Eli and my Dad by going to the race site together, and relaxed in the evenings with Jen.  I trusted I could make the race happen.  As the clock ticked closer to the start, I had fewer and fewer things to worry about.  After all, there's fewer things you can affect as you get closer to a big race.  I slept well on race night, getting a rock solid 5 hrs of sleep on top of 9 hrs the night before and a restful day.  Like I said, I was "ready".

Even the weather couldn't get me down (yet) on race morning.  I did my routine, got my food in, etc.  Everything was falling into place.

The swim was good.  I swam well but kept running into people from earlier heats.  That's both a good and bad sign when you're running people over.  Other than ending up underneath a course marker (scary) everything went to plan in the water and exited under 33 minutes.

The first 10km on the bike were rough, but I settled into my rhythm, knocking out my splits and was well on my way to sub 2:35 on the bike, which was my goal considering the wet weather and chilly temps.

Then the crash.  Then the salvaging.

I got on the run in pain.  My hip was angry.  Like the biggest red bird from Angry Birds.  Yup, that angry and that big.  I still wanted to do well.  I still wanted a qualifying spot.  I thought that if I could run down as many people as I could, I might still have a shot.  Wouldn't that be a triumph!  I kept picking people off during the run.  I hit the last 2km with everything I had left.  I got the run done, even with 3 stops at first aid to flush the wounds, in 1:42.

5:09 and change, 18th in the 35-39 age group.  In other years, it could/would have made Vegas.  Today it didn't.  Lake Stevens reduced their spots from 50 to 30.  The two spots for my group went to first and second.  No roll down.

All I got to take home was a sprained and scraped left thumb, sprained and scraped right pinky, scraped and bruised right shoulder, forearm (with a bunch of gravel under the skin), hip, knee, and ankle.  I haven't yet fully inspected my bike, but damage seems to be limited to the derailleur and shifter.

So what now?  I'd struggle to be ready for the other two qualifiers that are proximate (Calgary and Boulder).  And even if I healed, could I get on the podium and get that Vegas spot?  Not too sure.

One thing is for sure:  I'm feeling a bit wounded physically and mentally.

Monday, July 9, 2012

When do you know you're "ready"?

Many friends who know that I'm about to race an important race next weekend at the Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens.  A race that I've worked for and that may or may not qualify me for a repeat appearance at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.  These friends have all been asking, "Geez you're looking fit.  Are you ready?".  My reply has been, "Honestly?  I really don't know."  The truth is, I'm not sure what 'ready' actually feels like.  Probably because I can't say I've had a race where I've truly felt 'on' and able to access all my fitness; something has always seemed to go awry on race day.

So I'm putting this out there:  What does 'ready' feel like?

I'm hoping I'm feeling it by the time I hit the start line next Sunday.  So far, I've entered the familiar stages of "taper crazies" a.k.a. the Stages Of The Pre-Race Taper:

1) I could be doing more: The feeling that maybe you should skip the stretching/yoga recovery session after a monster training week, in favour of a brick session of hill repeats on the bike and then on a run. After all, there's 6 more days until race day.  You log on to TrainingPeaks.com and review your current stats and upcoming schedule.

2) I'm completely exhausted and I can't imagine I'm going to be recovered by race day:  Every muscle in your body is sore and or tired and all you want to do is nap all day and then go to bed.  Meanwhile, there are still 'recovery workouts' and short-duration high-intensity sessions on the schedule.  You log on to TrainingPeaks.com and review your stats just before you pass out in the living room.

3) I should have done more:  You get through Stage 2 and miraculously you're starting to feel great.  So great, in fact, that the normal dull nagging feeling that you should be 'doing more' turns into a confidence-challenging voice that's mocking "see, I told you to do more".  I hate that voice.  You log on to TrainingPeaks.com and review your stats, hoping to find workouts where inaccurately reported your time/effort.

4) Stages 1 to 3 combined:  This is the dark phase.  Try not to harm yourself or other people during this time.  You start to log onto TrainingPeaks.com, but then break down and cry.

5) Race day preparation:  This is more of a coping mechanism than a stage.  Basically, you pack your stuff in order to put your "Type A" personality at ease by controlling something, in this case its making sure that at least all your stuff is ready, even if you're not.  Try to do this without anyone else around, because it's annoying to see you bounce around the house muttering to yourself.  No time for TrainingPeaks.com.  Logging on may force a regression back to Stage 4.

6) Acceptance:  That stage where you lie to yourself a bit and say "I've done what I can do, the day is going to be whatever it's going to be, and I'm just going to do my best and have fun".  Listen to this lie.  Believe this lie.  Think fondly of your breakthrough workouts.  Stay away from TrainingPeaks.

7) Excitement (i.e. "Ready?):   You allow yourself to believe that today could be a good day.  It could be your best day.  After all, you trusted the process, put the work in, have many more 'completed' workouts than 'dropped', and have heard "Geez, you're looking fit.  Are you ready?" at least a few times in the past 2 weeks.  You stop letting TrainingPeaks.com judge you.

So far, I've never made it passed Stage 6.  I've peaked over at Stage 7 once or twice, but never fully arrived.

So, is Stage 7 "ready"?  Am I ready?  Who knows?  Ask me next Monday.