Archive for July, 2012

Here’s an updated pic after a few days of healing:

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Syracuse Half Ironman 70.3 Tattoo

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Tattoo is done! So stoked with how it turned out.

This one was done by Josh Payne @ Ascend Gallery in Cortland, NY. First time having one created from another artist as all the other work I have up to now has been done by Scot Clark @ Sacred Art also in Cortland.  We have some very talented artists in such a small town.

The main element is the skull. Skull tattoos in some representations symbolize death, but they also can, and do in my case, represent the fleetingness of life. “Memento mori” (latin for “remember your mortality,”) translates that it is important to know and understand  your own mortality so that you may live life to the fullest. “Carpe-Diem”  in modern translation “Seize the day” is a similar concept. M-dot (forehead) and 70.3 (under the left eye socket) are elements incorporated in the skull. Ironman is a mental as well as physical game/duel with one’s self, whether it be the 70.3 or even more epic 140.6 distance.

Wind and water  elements that merges and frames the lower skull are a part of the ironman experience, with fire representing the drive and desire to finish. The balloons (3) tie the piece back to Ironman Syracuse with is part of the race’s theme. The park the race is held at also host’s the balloon fest each year. He made that work with the overall design. The gold tooth is a signature item that Josh does in his skull designs.

I’ll update pics once the tattoo heals and settles down.  Big thank you to Josh  for putting this together.

Syracuse Half Ironman 70.3 Tattoo

30 days have past since crossing the finish line at Ironman Syracuse. Sometimes when you plan a big goal, and get there, or complete it, it becomes anti-climatic, or so-so-what’s next. Not the case with completing Ironman Syracuse. It was as epic, inspiring, and as humbling as I thought it would be. It was a day that culminated all the planning, training , and emotional highs and lows that I will treasure as a life event.

I had been thinking on commemorating the day with a calf tattoo. I held back running off in a hurry to get it done to see if my perspective would change, or shift after the endorphins finally wore off. Signing up for Ironman Lake Placid has not changed my view. I would say that completing Syracuse is a huge stepping stone to the big dance. Had I not complete it, or had a bad experience, I would not likely step up to the 140.6 mile distance. Most certainly I will commemorate that event if it is anything at all like what I experienced at Ironman Syracuse. Most likely yes, and all the more epic. At least twice, right? For all the reasons that I have captured in prior blog posts, it represents much more than a race or single event. It not only marks a return to something that I love, it also represents a pivotal point in my life that I choose to change the outcome, health, and well-being for the 3rd quarter of my life as I head towards retirement years.

Tonight will start the tattoo project, and I’ll post pics soon enough. I won’t reveal what it will be as of yet, but it will have many elements in it that I hope will come together to make for a great skin art piece. More yet to come.

184 lbs, yeah! Current weight. Certainly much better than my 238 lb peak just two years ago. Reversed and corrected the beginnings of fatty liver disease, cholesterol is near normal range. All good stuff. My doctor is  keeping me honest in all this. No fooling her as she is a multi-ironman finisher. After all it is for my own good, and I have to deliver on my promises of goals to be met.

In keeping with signing up for the big dance next July (Ironman Lake Placid), I am not about to lug my big butt over the length of that course. At 5′-9.5″  My current BMI still has a ways to go.

I call this next issue to be address “low hanging fruit” as it has the potential to make a huge impact on my race paces, more importantly my eventual success at Ironman Lake Placid (thinking very positive here). Dropping the last 24 lbs. to reach my goal of 160 lbs. is huge. I can realize running 7 something minute paces for medium to long distances, even faster for short course. Most certainly will translate a few mph faster on the bike, not to mention working the hills. It is easy to imagine and appreciate not carrying around a 24 lb. bowling ball for 12-14 hrs on the ironman course. Bottom line, it is better health, and free speed.  Does it mean a 12 hour ironman finish verses 14-15 hours? I don’t know exactly, only that it has to equate to a faster finish time, less perceive effort, not totally falling apart maybe. Any of those three would be worth it.

Training and preparing for Ironman Syracuse 70.3, my weight eventually stagnated at a 184lbs. Not unusual with trying to fuel the training volume, yet my goal remains. Post Ironman Syracuse, back to training. NYC marathon is out there 15 weeks away. Would be a great idea to be lighter for a marathon as well. Not pushing  a time goal, but lighter is better.

Last week I signed up with Core Diet (http://www.thecorediet.com/), under the recommendations of Endurance Nation, and my doctor. I lost a lot of weight with Atkins diet, and my last round with south beach diet. Both plans for me, fell short when it came time to fueling big workouts. I know some make it work for them, It did not work for me at that juncture.  I opted for the mission plan, as I needed to learn and get all the help I can after the initial consultation.  After filling out a form to establish where I was at, things I liked or did not, body composition etc., I was emailed a comprehensive diet plan a few days later. The document was also complete with explanations, and very specific detail. A day later, I had a two hour consultation with registered dietitian Anne Rollins.  It was an intense two hours and a ton of information. All my questions were answered, and in the context of an endurance athlete. A lot of connect the dots as to how it all applies to my goals, and what I need for training. They have a service for race specific fueling,and I will explore that before next summer.

Changing a diet is a bit difficult as we like what we like. However this diet is not radical or forces you to abandon too many foods. Like many diets, it wants you to eliminate processed foods as much as possible. avoid high glycemic foods except around specific training /workout windows. Timing of food types, and workout windows are specifically addressed. This was what I was looking for.

Obviously the proof of how well it works will be self evident soon enough. So far I am liking it, no bonking, or sugar spikes. Recipes are very appealing!  With the goal of losing 0.5 to 1 pound a week, I’ll be at fighting weight this fall, and reach my goal before Christmas. One step closer to putting it all together for next July!

It just got real today! 11:59:00am today, I started hitting the enter /refresh on my computer. 12:01pm, I got in the registration site for Ironman Lake Placid. All in, parted with my money, and laying it on the line for my 2013 ‘A’ race/event. I was told that my chances of getting in online are typically slim and none. I actually gave thought of driving up to Lake Placid to volunteer for the race yesterday, and sign up in person this morning. As of 30 minutes ago, 50 general entry slots remain. Had I not gotten in, then I would shoot for Ironman Wisconsin, or Rev 3 in Ohio. Both (IMLP & IMWI) are big Endurance Nation team events for 2013.

Next years race is a week later, so I have a 53 week count down. Granted, everything I do in one way or another contributes or detracts from my attempt at crossing the finish line. My Ironman focused training will occur either 12 or 20 weeks out depending on which plan I choose. The choices are an Ironman focus only build up of 20 weeks, or a pre-build up of get fast/outseason training- then 12 weeks of Ironman specific focus. Being an Endurance Nation team member, I have confidence that I won’t melt down come next July. I must confess that signing up comes with it’s own set of fears and anxiety, whether real, or self induced. Mind you, I do not come from a long line of athletes, much less endurance athletes. I would be the one to test the athletic ability of my lineage. Yep, I’m a little different.

My wife and I watched the 2011 Kona race a week ago. Some of the images of triathletes suffering severe craps, nearly falling over, etc, sticks in your head. The thought of losing control of one’s bowls, or passing out from pain, is certainly a fear. No doubt, I will discover what my body is capable of, and where the limit truly is for me. However, I will look good for the pictures come hell or high water 🙂

What I envision for the big day is much more positive than any of my fears. I am a member of a great team that not only teaches me how to train well, but also how to execute a race well. I also have that endearing quality of being stubborn enough to see it through. This is a life goal, and something I had entertained for many years, but did not have the confidence or the plan to make it happen. Dropping the weight, returning to the sport of triathlon, and being a finisher at Ironman Syracuse 70.3, brings me to this point.

I now have a major goal, and lots of milestones to achieve in between. I’ll have plenty more to post as my journey continues on.

2012 Boilermaker in the books!

Just a few months back, I really questioned how smart I was in signing up for this race. Not that it would be a big deal for an elite or pro runner/triathlete. For an old slogger like myself, it is a concern. I had these doubts this spring, as I learned very quickly that it was taking longer to recover from big training weeks, even more so the events that I would race. With the Utica Boilermaker selling out months before the event, the commitment comes long before the date rolls around. Of course, I signed up the day registration went live early in 2012. Despite any doubts or misgivings on my sense of practicality, it is an easy choice. Hands down, the Utica Boilermaker is my absolute favorite race. Here’s my laundry list of why I have that opinion:

  • Well ran, well supported race.
  • Fantastic volunteers, good as it gets.
  • 15K is an endurance event, long enough that you need to train/prepare for. You have to earn it.
  • City course, keeps your eyes always looking at something.
  • This would be my 12th time running in the event. I know and love the course.
  • With a few moderate hills, it switches up your running, and the last 5K segment is forgiving on tired legs.
  • Water, water, and yes there is water on the course. Swim goggles optional. If the day is a scorcher, no better race on the planet to do it in. 20 water stops, plus countless families with tables set out to hand out everything from donuts, popsicles, ice, and our favorite- beer 🙂
  • Crowd support- best in the world. The people of Utica come out in mass, and they let you know it. We’re talking rows deep of spectators in many places. If you feed off their energy, and cheering, you’re in for race experience you will never forget.

With a week of rest after Ironman Syracuse, I got back to a few light workouts. This was encouraging as my post recovery of 1994 Firmman 70.3 was much longer. In fact my 5K & 10K running paces were way off for several months after that. I could run distance, but anything approaching 5k pacing was not happening. I account the months of actually training and following a plan to a much better recovery now.

With a VDOT hovering close to 41, my best predicted pace for a 15k would be 8:20- 8:27 per mile. As it turns out, heat would not be a factor this past Sunday, so I will skip mentioning adding a little time to compensate for it. On fresh legs I thought I could hold something close to that, or at least in the 8:30-8:45 range. Post Ironman Syracuse, I had a hunch it would be an unrealistic expectation. Rather than guess, I headed out on a midday run from work to get a bead on where my recovery was at. I picked the same route (mostly flat) I use to do my VDOT test, and decided to run two mile repeats with a mile rest in between. Conditions were bright and sunny, little to no wind, and a moderate 76 degrees out. Not too warm, but warm enough.

After an easy warm up for the first mile, I stepped it up to an 8:33 per mile pace. I felt like I was working hard, and my heart rate shot up to 175-176 bpm. My calculated max is 179 bpm. The next mile was at recovery pace, and got my heart rate back to 152-154 bpm. I did the next repeat at 8:50 per mile. Heart rate shot up again to 174-175 bpm, although it hovered around 172 for the first half of it. Happy that I could get some work out of my legs, but trying to run a 15K @ 8:20 a mile was not a good goal. I knew that I would suffer miserably should I try to push that hard over the distance. The other mental game that I fight on the Boilermaker course: is having run it much faster in 1:04:29. That was many years ago, but just the same, it plays on you at times.

Since this is my favorite race, and that I am rather insistent on having a great time doing it, I regrouped and set out a new plan:

  • The first mile is always chaotic,and either too fast or too slow if you get caught up in it. I would ease into it, avoid dodging in and out around slower runners. Get to smooth form as quickly as I can. Main goal is to keep heart rate in 160-165 bpm range, except for hills. Take in the race and enjoy the sights.
  • Miles 2-3, be settled in, keeping heart rate 160-165. With my Timex GPS run trainer, I should be able to get an idea of what my pace would be.
  • Golf course up to mile 4, back off a little, keep it steady and smooth. Try not to peak out heart rate past 172-174 bpm.
  • Downhill to mile 5. take advantage of not overdoing it up to mile 4. Should be able to gain up to a minute off pace.
  • Miles 5-6, steady and smooth, back off slightly going up to mile 7. Keep heart rate under 170 bpm going up the grade.
  • Miles 7 to finish, lots of downhill, pick it up, and even let heart rate approach 170 bpm in later miles. Lot of time to be gained here. After mile 9, whatever is left in the tank.

Race day- lucky break in the weather today! 69-70 at the start, mid 70’s as the day progressed. Happy that it was not going to be a scorcher. Mostly overcast during the race, another plus. When the sun did come out, you could feel it heat up. For the most part the sun held off until after most people crossed the finish, or within the final miles. On this trip, I took the bus with Lake Effect Run Club. Fun group of runners, and I enjoyed both the trip out and back. Much less stress letting the hassle of getting to and from the race be handled is worth every penny. They also seem to like beer. Work hard, play hard, we get along just fine.

The start went off without a hitch, and I had no problems getting into a place where I could settle in. No tripping, no stepping on my heels. Lots of people with headphones. You have to be alert as they were less aware of those around them. In the end, I really had little issue with that. I crossed the start a full 3 minutes after the cannon. The first mile came and went at 9:45, heart rate was good. My hamstrings were a little tight, and I decided that if it got worse or started to cramp, I would walk a water stop every mile if I needed. A solution was at hand should it become a problem. Never became one, Yeah! The next two miles I was clicking off a 9:15-9:25 pace, and was enjoying the constant company of runners and cheering spectators. One of the things I love about the race.

The hill up the golf course came and went without issue. Heart rate peaked at 174 bpm only briefly. I felt good cresting the hill, and took full advantage of the following downhill. Even though I could feel the fatigue in my legs, the downhill felt great, and it felt smooth. Working the hill is where I felt post Ironman Syracuse the most. Mile 5- laid down an 8:40 mile. Lot of spectators on the hill, good fun. Volunteers are just phenomenal!

Miles 6 & 7 were solid. At this point in the race, I felt that I planned out my race to suite my tired legs appropriately. Had I pushed sub 9’s, I would have been regretting it at this point. I was pleased with myself at not doing something stupid. It happens sometimes 🙂 Race day nutrition was working well today. No GI issues, and only needed one GU gel at mile 5. One of the things I noticed was that the race miles were passing by so much faster mentally. I felt immersed in the event, and was taking it all in.

The final miles- I call it that, as once you pass the 7 mile sign and round the bend, you see a very long downhill. It actually takes you past mile 8. Mentally this is the best spot on the course. You know you have only a few miles left, and the downhill grade is a gift. From here on out, the spectators get louder, and rows of people deeper. The mile splits here get faster, clicking off a 9:05 & 9:10. I have some gas in the tank at mile nine and began to surge. Heart rate is climbing, so not an all-out sprint. Have to have that FTD man sprint thing going on for the pictures. I crossed the finish in 1:26:59 (chip timing), my watch had me at 1:27:04. Yep I’ll take the 5 seconds. Overall pace of 9:20.

Post race was great, I got to where I needed to go, and chowed down. Plenty of choices. the orange slices and banana popsicles went over real well. Got my lunch bag, and finish that off with a beer. A big thank you to the sponsors. Good stuff.

Was I happy with my time? You bet! I won’t bore you with the numerous times at other events were I had big ideas, and either blew up on the course, hanging on for dear life to the finish, or suffered to the point on not enjoying the race. As much as I like to push my body from time to time, I am much more social, and want o enjoy the experience of the event. I did not leave much out on the course this year. Today, I am sore, and depleted. Last evening I felt trashed. Going the last 5-10% harder probably would have meant for a much less enjoyable race. Looking back, my updated race plan took me up to the fine line of enjoyment verses what I had in my legs on race day. All good here.

No doubt, I’ll be back again to do more Boilermakers. If things line up, I may give it a go as an ‘A’ race in the next few years. As a fifty something weekend warrior, I have much to learn about training adaptation, recovery, and what I can get away with and what I cannot. The list of cannot’s seem longer than I may like. While training for Ironman Syracuse, especially since joining Team EN, I have learned a great deal about training with a heart rate monitor, pacing, race execution, and it pays off in running events as well as triathlons. Us older guys need to be much smarter 🙂 Being in control of your race, and knowing how to execute a good plan makes the race experience much more enjoyable.

From here I transition into Endurance Nation’s short course plan with an added marathon hack. NYC Marathon is the big event for this fall. There will be a few half marathons and a tri or two along the way. There will be a bigger effort on weight lost, as that will pay off big in the marathon, and in doing a full ironman. 2013 will bring bigger things to come. Syracuse 70.3 (whether it will be as a team or solo,) will be part of my road to a full ironman. Lots to learn, lots of training to do.

I took the advice of my coaches and a bunch of smart triathlon peeps, doing light stretching, and pro-like resting. I found that I can do that very well. By the end of the week, I was itching to get back at it. Most of the weekend was spent getting back on to tackling to-do lists around the homestead.

Sunday evening I switched into my running gear and gathered up our two weimeraners Jake & Abby. It would be a short easy run, that happens to be Jake’s & Abby’s favorite route. A two+ miler that goes down hill the 2nd mile, and finish’s at Poole’s Diner which also sells soft ice cream during summer hours. They just happen to serve a doggie dish treat, which our dogs practically inhale. Pretty good stuff for us humans as well.

Our dogs just about turn themselves inside out when I gear up for a run. They absolutely love to go. Of course my running pace is little more than a trot for weimeraners. They can run flat out at impressive speeds if properly motivated. Lots of fun to watch them hunt in the turkey woods.

The run went very well, and my legs needed to get out, stretch, and do a little work. The evening had cooled down some, and was much better than running in the hot midday sun. The first 1/2 mile is an uphill grade and I went out an easy 9:30-9:45 pace. The trip back dropped to 8:30 and I held it there the next mile as Abby did not want to go any faster. Jake would go as fast as I could muster if I let him. At the bottom of the hill, I crossed East River Road, and then Abby picked it up. They both knew that once I cross that road, we stop at the special place. 8:10-8:15 the last 1/4 mile. Lee would drive the truck down, and would drive back up after enjoying our treat for the evening. Great run, spoiled the dogs, and a nice way to finish out the weekend. Legs felt really good,and looking forward to running the Boilermaker next Sunday.

This morning, I rode into work on the mountain bike. Seemed a little weird after the long hours of racing and training on the tri bike. Very nice ride in today. Short route, roughly 9 miles. I tackled the hill on Lighthouse road (1/2 mile, 150ft climb) and went up it with ease as compared to much earlier in the season. Average 19mph going to work, and it was an enjoyable workout. I’ll ride home after work, and likely work the hill up to our driveway (3/4 mile, 375ft climb) .

Glad to be getting back to training!