Thursday, July 24, 2014

Packed and Ready To Travel

My bags are packed. My car is loaded. My bike is tuned. I am ready to head to Lake Placid.

It is astonishing how much is needed for one race. I guess needed is the wrong word. All you need is a swim suit, a bike, a helmet, and running shoes. If you want to increase your odds of finishing an Ironman you want more. Wetsuit, aero helmet, arm warmers, arm coolers, race belt (for your race number), your nutrition, etc. The list of items can be amazing. Plus all of the non-race gear that you need for your time at an Ironman.

I mentioned lists. I have a ridiculous number of lists. I have a checklist that I completed a week ago to make sure I had everything I will need. I have a packing checklist. I have an unpacking checklist. I have a checklist for my transition bags. I have a checklist for my special needs bags. I have a checklist to put in my transition bags to make sure I put on everything that I should when I am caught up in the moment of racing. I have a checklist to make sure I have my checklists. Even when I have all of these checklists I know that I will forget something. All I can do is hope it is not something critical. Like my bike.

A couple of weeks ago after doing an open water swim training I met another athlete who was getting ready for Ironman Lake Placid. I will not say he was freaking out, however he was starting to question his ability to complete the race. I asked him if he had been training and he had. I asked him if he had a race plan and he did. I asked him if he had a nutrition plan and he did. I said it sounded to me like he had done everything he could to get himself ready for the race and if he executed his plans then he should be fine. Coaches generally know what they are doing. He asked how I could be so calm about it and I said I had trained, I have a race plan and I have a nutrition plan. I also have faith that the system works - that having done the work and preparing I will be able to complete a 140.6 mile race. Until I finish the race I have to just have faith.

While my goal is to finish the race I also have time goals. I would like to complete the swim in 90 minutes, the bike in 7 to 7-½ hours, and the run in 5 hours. Will I? I have no way of knowing. There are so many factors that I cannot control. Other people, road conditions, weather, even animals. Who knows what is out there. I have trained, I have planned. I am ready.
A bear crossing the course may slow me down.
For those who were wondering, yes, that was an article in the Telegraph about me and no, it is not too late to make a donation to the MMRF.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ironman Lake Placid 2015, You CAN do it with the support of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation

In June of 2013 I headed to Lake Placid with my Triathlon club, NorthEast MultiSport, for a training weekend. I had just completed my first 70.3 (Half-Iron Distance) race and I had another scheduled for August. I thought it would be fun to train on the Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) course, and to see if it was something to put on the “must do someday when I have a few years’ experience” list. I rode the course. One Loop.   It was very challenging. I swam the course. One Loop. I ran the course. One Loop. Ironman Lake Placid has you do each leg twice. It is great for the spectators since they get to see the athletes multiple times.

On the team were a few athletes training for that year’s IMLP. I was in awe of the dedication and commitment to training that they showed. When I finished my one loop of the bike course, they headed out on a second. While I was exhausted and drinking my recovery drink, they were pounding the pavement. While I relaxed, they worked. They were machines. Maybe. Someday. Me.

During that weekend as I thought about a future Ironman, Colin Cook (who later that summer won his age group at the Ironman North American Championship) gave me some great advice to think about. He pointed out that if you take two hours to complete the swim and eight hours to complete the bike then you still have seven hours to complete the run portion. You can walk 26.2 miles in seven hours. Broken down like that me doing an Ironman actually seemed reasonable.

The next day I had dinner at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery with my longtime friends Katie and John Million. The two of them live in Lake Placid and over the years have seen their fair share of Ironman competitors. They have seen their fair share of Olympians. Suffice it to say they know athletes. Over the course of dinner (and an Ubu Ale or two) they managed to complete the job that Colin had started. They convinced me that I could indeed finish Ironman Lake Placid. They invited me back up so I could watch the Ironman that, somehow, I had agreed to enter. When I came back I saw that indeed an Ironman comes in many shapes and sizes. That all I needed to do was work, and I too could be ready to compete.

Back at home, after getting approval from my family, I signed up for the 2014 Ironman Lake Placid. There are three primary ways to sign up for this race. The first way is to be in the previous year’s race. If you are you then get priority to sign up for the next year’s race. The second way is to volunteer at the race and then get in line the morning after the race and signup for the next year’s race. The third way is to try and grab one of the few remaining slots when registration opens up online. Registration costs $750.00. There is a fourth way however, and it is the way I chose to enter the race. I signed up for a charity slot with the exclusive charity for the race, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

The MMRF as they are known is a game changing organization in the fight to beat cancer. (You can read my entire story about the MMRF Here) By signing up for a charity slot I did not have to fight for one of the few slots available. I could go to Lake Placid, see what I had gotten myself into, and just enjoy the experience. More importantly by committing to raise $5000 for the MMRF I knew that I was helping to save lives. While that seemed like a lot of money, and it is, I also knew that the MMRF team would help me with the fundraising. They would provide tools, communication, and any possible advice I could need. They also would provide a training plan and a kit (race clothing) for me to use. I have gotten to know people at the MMRF over the past year and have been moved by their commitment.
So, if you are like me and thinking about signing up for an Ironman yet have hesitated like I did, just remember the advice Colin gave me. You can do it. If you are going to do it make about more than just yourself. Be inspired by being part of the MMRF team. If you ask around Multiple Myeloma has affected people around you even if you did not know it. Join the team for 2015. With the MMRF, your registration fee is reduced from $750 to $250. You could apply that $500 difference to your fundraising commitment. That will give you a year to raise $4500. That is $375 per month. You can do it. Just click on this link.

Be sure to watch this video that will get you excited to be a part of this adventure!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Lake Placid Training Camp - 2014

My 2014 Lake Placid training camp has come and gone and I cannot believe what a difference a year makes.  I thought I was in good shape in 2013 however in 2014 I am clearly in a far better place. Hopefully 2015 will be even better than 2014. Mentally there was also a huge leap forward for me at training camp. In 2013 I was in awe of those training for an Ironman and could not imagine heading out for a 112 mile ride of the Ironman Lake Placid bike course when I had struggled to complete one loop, a shortened loop of 52.5 miles at that. Here I was a year later and I was one of those athletes heading out for a 112 mile ride.

In 2013 on the bike course I set myself up for failure. I did not stick with a nutrition plan as I should have, I only had a wind jacket to wear during a torrential downpour, I had not trained on hills a lot prior to the weekend and I had not done any back to back long rides. This year I have done many back to back long rides, I have trained on many hills, I have proper rain gear, and I practice my race nutrition on every ride. I felt prepared when I started out for my 112 mile IMLP bike course ride. Over the winter I had thought a lot about this ride and in my head the climbs out of town and back into town were enormous. It appears that my head made these a lot worse than they were. I am not saying they were easy, because they are not; they just were not the monsters I had made them out to be. The ride out of town was a steady climb and I just stayed to my race plan.(I was treating this as a race rehearsal). For the first 30 minutes of the ride I went very easy and when that time period ended I was near the long descent into the town of Keene.

The Keene descent is about eight miles long with a false flat in the middle and is something either loved or hated. It is very fast, the road is in poor condition, and during training there are many cars in the road. This year the road is being re-paved so there are some fantastic sections. There are also some sections that are much worse than in the past as there are large cuts in the pavement that appear to be related to the paving effort. I love going fast and the only time I touched my brakes was to slow as I approached the cuts. Too soon for my liking, I was at the bottom. I continued on the course for the next 20 miles or so and then began the climb back into Lake Placid. It was not too bad. I have had longer climbs in training and I have had steeper climbs in training. There are some long sections however they have some downhills afterwards. Again I kept looking at my power meter and just spun easily up the hills not burning myself out. Surprisingly I was back at the beginning of the first loop and felt very good. Yes, there was some fatigue however it was not overwhelming. I could go onto loop two. I reloaded my nutrition supplies (I drank 96 ounces of perform on each loop and had my gels every 40 minutes) and headed back out. The second loop was very similar to the first with the addition of a headwind on the 20 miles from Keene to the turnaround in Ausable. It was very warm, hitting a high of 91 during the day.

In 2013 I rode one short loop at an average of 3:54 per mile and felt burned out. In 2014 I rode two long loops (118 miles) at an average of 3:45 per mile. My goal during the race is 3:45 per mile. I could not have done better in training. I suspect that with my race wheels, race tires, and aero helmet I might even beat my race goal. I just need to stick with the plan that worked so well to get me here.

The next day I swam the course in Mirror Lake. Again what a difference a year makes. In 2013 I swam 1.2 miles at a pace of 39:52 per mile. In 2014 I swam 2.4 miles at a pace of 38:52. So I swam twice as far and was faster per mile. While I did not swim much during the winter the 63 miles I have put in during the spring and summer are paying off.  My goal during the race is to complete the swim in 90 minutes which is a pace of 37:30 per mile. I think that being fresher going into the race will help me meet that goal. I had already gone swimming twice this week, and I had both biked and run the day before. When I got out of the water I was very happy with what my watch showed me. Swimming may not be my favorite event and I may not be the fastest out there though it is now something that I can feel comfortable with and happy with my abilities.
Heading Into Mirror Lake
 After the swim I headed out to the Descente Lodge where we were staying and went out for another loop on the bike course. Shockingly I was faster than the day before despite the 118 miles (and a post ride 4 mile run) on my legs. This time I rode 57.8 miles at an average pace of 3:45 per mile. The only part of my body that was screaming at me to stop riding was my rear. 176.1 miles was a long time to be sitting on a bike seat. It was good to get off the bike and stand.

Day three of training camp started off with another swim in Mirror Lake. This time I was faster than the day before despite feeling the fatigue that two full days of training can bring on. For the 2.4 miles I averaged 38:42 per mile. For the 1.2 miles the next day I average 35:34. Granted it was half the distance still, that is a huge gain. I was certain while swimming that I was slower and was blown away that I was not. Good things are on the horizon with my swimming.

Once out of the lake I changed into my MMRF tri kit and running shoes to take a lap on the Ironman Marathon course. The course is  13.1 miles long and during the race you run it twice. On the second loop you finish at the Olympic Oval. I was just doing one loop. The reason the marathon course is so tough is a very steep hill that takes you back into town and does not end until you are on the portion near Mirror Lake.  I headed out on my run with the plan of taking it easy for the first three miles, go harder the next seven, and then see what was left in the take for the final three. In general this worked out well. The run was mostly uneventful and the climb back into town is very similar to the climb back to my house. The only thing that seemed to go wrong is where I turned around on the out and back portions. Somehow I ended up running 14.3 miles instead of 13.1. So it goes. The really positive part is my comparison to last year. In 2013 I ran 12.5 miles at an average pace of 9:29 per mile. In 2014 I ran at an average pace of 8:46 per mile.

In my last post I wrote about the Unknown. The Unknown is now much more Known. I have come away from this training weekend knowing that I can ride the 112 mile course. I can swim the 2.4 miles. I have run marathons in the past at a slower pace than I run now so I know I can run the 26.2 miles. I know I can run, swim, and bike on fatigued legs with a fatigued body. I know that my nutrition plan works. I know the course. Now I need to stay healthy and put it all together on July 27th.

What was especially gratifying about the weekend was the support I received from all of my teammates. My NorthEast MultiSports team that I stayed with, ate with, trained with and bonded with was spectacular. What a group of athletes’. I am proud to be a part of the team. 

NorthEast MultiSports Ready To Roll In Lake Placid!

I also got great support from my cycling team, Fit Werx. I wore my Fit Werx kit on my 118 mile ride and got many shouts from athletes yelling things such as “Fit Werx Rocks”. The support that I get from Marty, Mike and the entire crew at Fit Werx is unbelievable. It was fun seeing Marty’s brother Vinnie on the course, and getting a high five as he rode past me. 

Most importantly I got to spend time training with my MMRF team mates Ashley Blake and Scott Golden.
Scott, Ashley, Larry (L-R)

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation so not only are we (and 107 others) training for an Ironman; we are also raising money for this game changing organization. On the course while wearing the MMRF kit I even got to meet some other team mates. It is truly an honor to represent the MMRF and to have gotten to train with Scott and Ashley. Please consider donating to the MMRF through this link. You will be making a difference. Thank You.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Unknown

It is getting real. Every so often I have an occasional bout of anxiety. Today’s occurred when I was driving to work behind a vehicle that had a 140.6 sticker and an Ironman Finisher sticker. My commute had taken almost an hour at that point and I was only 30 miles into it. Compared to 140.6 miles that is nothing. The immensity of that number suddenly pressed itself into my consciousness. 140.6. That number has lived with me for a year now. 140.6. That is a real distance. 140.6.

I have been training for the better part of the year. I have completed two half-iron distance races in that time frame and I have been very happy with my results. I know I can swim 2.4 miles. I am fairly certain I can ride 112 miles.  I will know for certain on June 27th.  I know I can run 26.2 miles. Each item on its own is manageable. Together though, is daunting for me, the first time Ironman in training. My longest bike ride so far has been 80 miles with over 6,000 feet of elevation gain. I think this means I will be able to ride 112 miles with 6,900 feet of elevation gain. I do not know for certain. I do not know for certain I will be able to do this after swimming 2.4 miles nor do I know for certain that I will then be able to run 26.2 miles.

140.6 is the unknown for me and I am often uncomfortable with the unknown. I read other’s posts and sometimes they make me question if I have done enough. Am I strong enough mentally and physically? I read other’s posts and sometimes I wonder if I have done too much. Have I over trained? I have pains that I would only attribute to training. Having never done this before I sometimes wonder if these are normal pains or something to be concerned about. So many questions. So much self-doubt at times. So many people I do not want to let down. Especially myself. I am sure that all of this is normal. Or is it? I do not know. I am in the realm of the unknown.

In some ways I cannot wait for July 27th to arrive. I will receive the answers over the course of 140.6 miles and who knows how many hours. In other ways I do not want the 27th to arrive. I know training. I know that I have a daily schedule. The training is hard yet it is easy to follow. My biggest decisions are trying to decide what bike route to follow for five hours. On June 27th I will ride the Ironman Lake Placid bike course again. This time I will ride the 56 mile loop twice. During that weekend I will swim in Mirror Lake following the underwater cables for 2.4 miles. I will run one loop of the 13.1 mile run course. I will train. The known. The unknown if out there lurking and all I can do is do the known to help me survive the unknown. July 27th. 140.6.

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014 Rev3 Quassy 70.3 Race Report

I have been following my training schedule and felt as if I was in the best shape I have ever been in. The weather looked as if it would be perfect for the race and I was ready to roll. I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to ride the course a few weeks ago and run the hardest part of the run course. Having this knowledge the course would not sneak up on me and I could let the race come to me. Quassy was my big race prior to Lake Placid and I was treating it as an A race, not just a dress rehearsal. 

The swim went well for me overall. The water was a perfect temperature, there was no wind, and the sky was bright. There were 91 swimmers in my wave and I started out a little aggressively. I would rather get swum over than swim over others. The field was a little crowded at the start and finish with a good deal of bumping. Fortunately within 5 minutes (guesstimate) I was by myself and had clear water and great sighting until the first turn. I had heard that this leg of the swim pointed you directly into the sun, and it did. I could not spot a buoy so I just followed the swimmers ahead of me. When I would get 20 or so feet from the buoys I would finally be able to spot them. I believe I stayed fairly on course during this section however I cannot tell for certain. Once I made the second turn I was able to site well again and I stayed on course. Throughout the swim I felt good and I kept to a steady pace. As I approached the finish the crowd thickened up a bit though it was still manageable. I looked at my watch and saw a time of 42 minutes. I was pleased with that. In my last Half distance event I finished in 46 minutes. Improvement!  

Swim Result: 42:39 2:13/100 Division: 60 of 91 Gender: 352 of 547 Wave: 60 of 92 Race: 457 of 745 

Transition 1: 
While not my fastest transition I felt fairly smooth. I took a few extra minutes to apply chamois cream and to wipe/dry my feet to get the sand off them prior to putting on the socks. The extra minute or so was worth it to me. 

T1 3:34 

I loved this bike course. The course was a rolling course with some steady climbs and long downhill’s. There were very few flat sections on this course. It was fairly technical with many turns. It was fun. My plan was to stick to 172 watts for the first 30 minutes then stay at 183 watts for the rest of the course. This was easier said than done due to the hills. During the climbs I would stay as close to my goal numbers as possible. I noticed that I passed a lot of people on the climbs however I passed even more on the downhill’s. I noticed that most riders would crest the hill and stop pedaling. I would keep pedaling trying to hit my power numbers. I would only stop pedaling when I got going so fast that my pedaling had no effect. (My top speed was 47). My energy levels felt fantastic throughout the ride. I had half a PowerBar as soon as I got on the bike and followed that up with a PowerGel 35 minutes in. At 1:15 I had another PowerGel and at 1:55 and 2:35 I had 3 Cliffbloks cubes, for a total of 6 bloks. I went with the Margarita flavor which has extra sodium. I started the ride with my aero bottle full of perform and I grabbed 3 more bottles at aid stations as I rode by. I drank at least a mouthful every 10 minutes and having to pee was not a problem at all. I had a giant smile the entire ride and received many fun Darth Helmet comments due to my giant helmet. I got into transition and saw that my speed was 17.6 mph (according to my Garmin) and my goal was 17 mph. Goal beat. 

Bike Result: 3:10:41 17.62 mph Division: 40 of 91 Gender 265 of 547 Wave: 40 of 92 Race: 305 of 745 

Transition 2: 
This was a fairly quick transition for me. I was out of my shoes while still on the bike so I just had to grab a few items and head out. The only thing that slowed me down was the person behind me who had put their bike into my slot. I got that sorted and headed out. 

T2 1:27 

The Quassy run course, like the bike course, is known for its hills. Initially the course started out with a gentle downhill and for the most part stayed downhill until approximately mile 3.5 at which point the climbing began for the next couple of miles. After the big climbs the course was very rolling with a final hill that was ½ a mile long in the final mile of the race. My plan during the run portion was to start off fairly easy to give my legs a chance to get used to running after all the bike miles, then to find a comfortable pace through the middle section and finally to give everything I had left for the final three miles. For the most part I was able to stick with this plan. For the first 3.5 miles I had to work to keep my pace down, knowing the hills that were forthcoming. It was during this section that I took some salt tabs that were offered by volunteers and ran into a porta-potty for a quick bio break. I also had some Gatorade at the aide station. I stopped at 5 stations throughout the race and took in a PowerGel at one and more salt tabs during the final hour. I made sure that I walked through these stations so I could get the nutrients in and then started running again. Once the climbs started they were continuous for a couple of miles however the individual climbs were not too long and only one was steep. The steep climb only lasted for 100 yards. It was during this section that I first came across walkers. The further I went the more climbers I saw. I stuck to plan and ran throughout this section, and I kept going at the same steady pace. The big climb section ended with a rolling out and back and after that it continued the loop around the lake. There were some big rollers in this section, as well as some big houses. Just before mile nine the course had me end up in front of the Quassy amusement park (where the finish is) and I took a left to get to the final section of the course. This section had a very long downhill which was not too steep. I was able to gather speed without burning out my quads. At the end of the downhill there was an out and back section where I hit my final aide station. I had a good laugh with a volunteer as I made a slow motion grab for the Gatorade and then I continued on. Soon after the turnaround the 11 mile sign appeared and I knew that the race was basically over. I pushed hard to mile 12 and gave it all I had for the final climb and finished with a sprint to the finish. 

Run Result: 1:50:56 8:28/mi Division: 33 of 91 Gender: 215 of 547 Wave: 33 of 92 Race: 250 of 745 

Overall Thoughts: 
I enjoy the Rev3 Race experience. They step up the game from your average race and you feel like you are part of ‘an event’. I got to spend time at this race with my training partners from Endurance Nation and that was fantastic. It is always nice to meet people in person that you interact with online. I spent time with my Tri Club, NorthEast MultiSport, and I am always impressed with the team’s enthusiasm and effort. I also got to represent my sponsor, Fit Werx in a big race and I hope I did them proud.  If anyone is looking for top notch Triathlon and Road Cycling specialist you cannot do better than Fit Werx. Rev3 Quassy has a reputation as a hilly challenging course and it deserves that reputation. Fortunately I like hilly courses so I really enjoyed my experience. I had a big smile on my face the entire race. I had a plan (Thanks Coach P) going into the race and I stuck with it. The only thing I can really see that I need to improve upon prior to Ironman Lake Placid is getting my Salt Sticks into me on the bike. My body needs the salt and that could have come back to bite me if it had been just a little bit warmer. Overall I am pleased and feel that I am on the right path to complete my first Ironman. 
Special thanks to Mike Dreyer, Sarah Crane and Cam Dreyer for your support at the race. Very special thanks to my wife Amy who shuttled kids to 3 soccer games over two day driving as much as 5 hours round trip for one game, and for allowing me the freedom to train and race. 

Overall: 5:49:17