Florida Challenge Triathlon Countdown Clock

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

Let me apologize in advance. This blog is longer than I wanted because of... Well, if you read it you'll see! lol

My season is officially over! I'm glad too because I'm tired! Training for these races is tough. I can now relax a bit, take a mental break, and get the batteries recharged for the next season. Yesterday I raced in The Florida Challenge Triathlon: a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. This was the first time I've ever done 2 half ironman races in the same season and I was a tad worried about being able to do it. But you only live once, so I figured I'd give it a shot!

The race started at 7:00am, so that means the wife & I were out there before the sun was up: I'm feeling pretty relaxed and cautiously optimistic at this point. I plan on racing my own race, at my own pace. The goal is to not only finish (of course) but to finish strong! After I set my bike & equipment up in the transition area I warm up a bit, then head over to the beach for the swim start. Soon enough, the sun's up, and my heat is about to start so I line up with the rest of the athletes:

I'm nervous at this point, but still pretty calm. I'm confident in my training, and whad no intention on wearing myself out on the swim! My heat starts and we're off! We swim straight out, then make a left, swim a couple hundred yards, then swim back to shore. You can see a couple of the yellow buoys in the distance:

By the time I get to that 1st buoy, all the nervousness is gone & I'm focused totally on the swim. People aren't swimming over each other (thankfully) and I have plenty room between me & the swimmers around me. 15 minutes into the swim I do a self check: I'm feeling good & my stroke feels fine, just like when I'm in the pool. I'm breathing primarily on my right to watch the other swimmers around me, but I breath on my left from time to time also. I'm about a mile into the swim before swimmers in the last heat catch me. I expected to be caught so it's no big deal. Some of those cats are FAST! But at the same time, I catch people who started in the heat before me. (The waves are 10 minutes apart. I prefer to complete the swim doing the forward crawl exclusively, but you see people doing everything: backstroke, side stroke & breast stroke! hey, whatever it takes! lol

I finish the 1.2 mile swim in about 50 minutes. I wanted to finish in about 45, but I'm cool with it. I get out of the water honestly feeling like I swam for maybe 20! That's EXACTLY what I wanted. That's GOOD! lol I did NOT want to be tired finishing the swim. Right before I finished the swim I started my mental checklist: Take an electrolyte pill before you start the bike ride, put on a little sunscreen, RELAX and ride at an easy tempo for the first couple minutes to let the blood flow to your legs! Here I am in the transition area after the swim, getting ready to start the bike:

So far so good! I was nervous starting the bike. Even though I've done this race mnay times before, I have some sort of mental block when it comes to riding hills. (Probably because they are HARD! lol) I need to work on that. I rode with a couple other athletes for a few miles just trying to get comfortable on the bike. 30 minutes into the bike I'm still feeling good. I have passed a couple people and have gotten passed. I'm not concerned about anyone else at this point. It's all about me MY race. I'm rolling over the hills pretty good. Fast forward 2 hours and I'm still on the bike. I'm a little tired, but I feel good & my confidence is growing! I have plenty water, Gu, Clif Bars, electrolytes cold water & Gatorade:

I didn't eat all this, but I wanted to make sure I had enough if I needed it. If you don't eat enough, you'll bonk and won't have any energy. Eat too much and you'll get sick. The key is to find that perfect balance. I'm hitting the hills and I'm getting over them no problem! I get to Sugarloaf and I calm myself down and start the long, slow ride up:

That's not a pic from race day, just a pic from the internet. This hill is VERY HARD for me, because I don't have any hills near me that are as steep as this. But I had been riding the bridges pretty hard this year so I was ready! I try hit the bottom of the hill at FULL SPEED so I can use my momentum to help me get to the top. It works for a little while, because I pass a couple people who are walking up the hill. After a couple minutes all my momentum is gone & I'm in the smallest gear I have, just trying to make it to the top. My legs are BURNING, but I keep pedaling. Part of me wants to get off & walk, but another part of me says "To hell with that! You can walk 13 miles later today! Keep riding!

So I'm still going, still chugging up this big a** hill. Instead of looking at the top, I just put my head down and imagine that someone is PUSHING me up the hill, and I'm back on the bridges near my house. Anything to help me get up this thing! After what seemed like forever I finally made it to the top! This is the hardest part of the ride and it comes around mile 40. At this point I'm home free! This is GOOD! lol At this point I'm simply riding tempo. There are still hills almost as big as the bridges, but mentally I'm fine, and physically I feel OK. It's sunny, hot, humid, and in the 90's, so I'm making sure i drink plenty liquids and take an electroltye pill every 40-45 minutes. I finish the ride in about 3.5 hours.

I get off the bike and head to the transition area:

I get off the bike & my legs are STIFF! It'll take me a few minutes to get used to waking again! lol All in all, I had a good ride! Up to this point my race is going PERFECTLY: An "easy" swim, and I got over all the hills in 1 piece and no leg cramps on the bike. I'm starting the run pretty confidently and happy my day's almost done. For me, if i can finish the bike, I can finish a triathlon. I'LL WALK if I have to... I start the run walking to stretch my legs:

I start the run doing a home run trot. My legs feel ok, and i'm trying to get into a nice pace that I can maintain. The sun's out & it's getting VERY hot out. I don't like the heat, but I deal with it and run slower to compensate. They say good things must come to an end, and they did for me at about mile 3 of the run! At that point, my right foot starts to bother me. My arch. Feels like someone is sticking a needle into the bottom of my foot. WTF! I had this problem years ago and I knew what was up. I change my running style by running on the ball of my foot and start to run on the grass next to the concrete.

At mile 5 I hit an uneven patch & slight twist my ankle. Ok, this is getting BAD. I start walking now to try walk it out. It rains almost everyday here in Florida, and yesterday was no exception. It starts POURING, and here I am, walking with a pain in the bottom of my foot AND a slightly twisted ankle. How wonderful!

20 minutes later it stops raining and my shoes are drenched. I start jogging again with these heavy a** shoes, wet socks, and a hurt foot. I'm afraid to get on the grass because I don't want to re-twist my ankle, so I stay on the concrete. I "run" maybe 1/2 mile and that's it. I gotta shut it down. I figure I'll have to walk the rest of the race. I'm at mile 8 or 9 at this point. I lost count! So, I'm walking. A modified power walk, because at this point my LEFT foot starts to hurt now because my shoes are a tad uncomfortable. So now BOTH of my feet hurt... Yeah, this is BAD! So I just keep walking.

It was announced by the race organizers that will NOT have the finisher medals in time for the race, because they are TIED UP IN CUSTOMS?? I STILL don't understand how they managed to NOT have medals in time for a race they've had every year for 26 YEARS. But what do I know? Oh well, least we'll get an official finisher's shirt at the finish line. We'll get our medals shipped to us in 3 weeks...

At mile 10 I text my wife and tell her I'm almost done and to meet me at the finish line. (she's out shopping!!) I ask her to videotape me crossing the line, since I won't get a medal... Mile 13, and i have ONE BLACK to go. Guess what? it starts raining AGAIN. I finally get to the finish and cross the line! VICTORY! I made it!

Wait, what's that? You don't have any finisher shirts OR medals??? WTF!!!!! You mean I did all this and i get nothing to show for it but some sore feet????? Lord forgive me, but if i wasn't EXHAUSTED and in PAIN I woulda cussed his ass out! What kind of sh!t is this??? yeah, I was PISSED. Oh well, least my wife was there to videotape me crossing the line!

Well, not quite. She only got 4 seconds... yeah, it's getting downright UGLY now... So today, i sent the race organizer & his 2nd in command an email expressing my frustrations: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: trimaster1@msn.com To: doug@sommersports.com; randi@sommersports.com Subject: FW: Florida Challenge Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 12:31:40 -0700

Hello, I sent this email to Fred but haven't received a response. Im hoping someone will acknlowledge my concerns/frustrations below. Thank you, Jeff White --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: trimaster1@msn.com To: fred@sommersports.com Subject: Florida Challenge Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2010 07:55:25 -0700

Hi Fred, I've done the Florida Challenge 8 times and I've always enjoyed the race. However, this year's event was quite disappointing. No medals at the finish line & no t-shirts! How is that possible?? This race has been around 26 years. It's not like no one knew when these items would be needed... I didn't see any race photographers on the course either. If my wife hadn't taken any pictures I would have NOTHING to show for my hard work yesterday. I may as well had my own triathlon by myself if that were the case...

I hope we do get our finisher items in THREE WEEKS like we were promised, but i'm not holding my breath, nor will they mean as much as receiving them on race day. I'm debating on if I do the race next year. I understand we're in difficult times, but when people pay their hard earned money to participate in these races we should get the the items that were listed as amenities the day OF the race, not weeks later. If there were first time competitiors out there I feel bad for them... It just hasn't been the same since it was seperated from the Great Floridian. Jeff White

I haven't heard anything yet, so we'll see what happens. Well, there you have it! It was good, bad, and ugly! I really did race yesterday, but I din't get the medal that was due the finishers. All I got was a greek bath & sore feet!

Today I was off work & relaxed. I also used my "rolling pin to get the kinks out of my body:

This thing is GREAT! lol Well, my season didn't end the way I wanted, but on the bright side, I did 2 half ironman races, and I was able to ride over the hilss no problem. Even though I had problems on the run, I gutted it out and finished. A quitter I'm not! Hopefully I'll get my medal, and if I do I'll post a pic of it. So now, I will rest up & relax this off season. I'll get back to lifting weights more & just enjoy the time I have off. I'll be better than ever for next year, no matter where I race! Thanks for reading, your encouragement, and support! Till next time, Peace!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Calm Before the Storm!

Calm Before the Storm!

Well, it's finally here: Race Day! I'm registered and ready!

This will be a "quick" blog cuz I have to get up at 5am for the 7am race start...

Not only that, but blogspot changed their format and I don't have time to figure it all out...

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I'm nervous before every race and that's normal. I've done everything I can to get ready, but the question ALL athletes in all sports ask themselves "did I do enough to prepare???"

At this point, there's nothing else to do but come up with a strategy for the race. 

Even though triathlons are considered one race, I break it down to MANY small races.  That helps me deal with the magnitude of the event.

For example, I won't even think about the bike or run for 98% of the swim. My main goal tomorrow is to get from buoy to buoy in a straight line, using the least amount of energy, without bumping into (or getting ran over) by other swimmers.

I imagine the swim will take about 45 minutes, and near the end of the swim I'll go thru a mental checklist of what I have to do once I get to my bike. 

I won't have to change clothes because I'm wearing another 1 piece tri-suit:

When I hit the transition, I will grab some of my Clif Bars, Gu, and electrolytes and start the ride.

I will ride this course very defensively because of the hills. I'm still not very comfortable riding hills.  

I will simply on an hourly basis. I estimate it'll take 3.5 hours to finish the ride, so that's how I'll look at it: "2 hours to go... "1 more hour to ride..,"

That will work for me!

It's supposed to rain tomorrow, and that means cloud cover. Cloud cover means it may not be as hot, which is perfect for me! Lol

The heat totally drains me, so this will play in my favor.

As far as the run, I will run at my home run trot and pace myself all the way to the finish line.

In past races, I was able to run comfortably the first 7 miles, but then struggled the last 6.  At that point, I will just get from 1 aid station to the next, which are at each mile marker.

I'm hoping with the cloud cover and proper food intake I'll be able to finish strong!

My goal is to finish the total race in 7 hours or less.  But it really don't matter long as I finish!

I was looking at the Final Instructions  on the official website and this is what they said:

"FINISHER MEDALS: All finishers will receive a commemorative medallion. Our medals are currently tied up in customs and may not arrive in time for the race. If that is the case, medals will be mailed to all finishers.  Long Course finishers will also receive a Finisher T-shirt."

What kind of crap is that????  This race had been going on for the last 26 years. Who screwed this up???

Getting a medal when crossing the line is 1 of the highlights of the event. I don't give a damn about the shirt, I want my medal! Lol

Oh well, medal or no medal, I'm crossing that line!

Thanks for reading, till next time, peace!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cruise Control

Well, my race is in 6 days and I've done all I can do at this point. This isn't like a final exam where I can stay up all night studying. All my "studying" has been done over the last several months. This week I'm going to tone down the workouts, get in the slow lane and put it in Cruise Control.

I had my last major triathlon workout this weekend, and it was rather tame in comparison to other workouts. It was an indoor brick: 60 minutes on the stationary bike at a moderate pace followed up immediately with a 60 minute light jog on the treadmill.

I decided to keep it low intensity because I want to make sure I'm fully rested & ready for this race. Not only that, the last thing I want to do is injure myself the week before the race! Better be safe than sorry...

I'll swim 1 more time this week and shut that down also. The swim will be low intensity also, focusing on my form. I usually swim for an hour, but I'll probabbly swim for 30-45 minutes only. The plan is to start focusing on the mental aspect of the race on Thursday. At that point I'll assemble all my gear and start the mental checklists...

In addition to doing an indoor brick, I lifted weights at home in the 2nd bedroom. (I have a treadmill, weights, stationary bike & treadmill at home. Once I hit powerball and get the mansion I'll build an indoor pool after I cuss out all the haters! lol) I've only been lifting once a week for the last month or so because I wanted to give myself an extra swim or bike workout. To my pleasant surprise, I haven't lost any strength over this last month. After the race I'll take a couple weeks off then go back to lifting 2x a week.

My gym does not allow cameras or videos on the premises, so I decided to use this opportunity to show some of the exercises I do while lifting. Most triathletes lift primarily during the off season, but I prefer to lift year round because I simply enjoy lifting weights.  The exra weight isn't good for the sport though. The lighter a person is, the faster they are. Luckily, this race has a Clydesdale Division, for guys over 200 pounds (I'm 210) to even out the playing field a bit. For women, the Athena Division starts at 140 pounds.

After a brief warmup of jumping-jacks and stretches I start with ab exercises:

I do 50 reps of the bicycicle crunches followed with 20 of these:

I also do regular crunches and leg raises (not shown.)

At this point I start my routine:

Bench press (2 sets of 10.)

At the gym I prefer dumbells, but I don't have the proper weight at home, so I use the barbell:

Next is seated dumbell lateral raises (not shown) 2 sets of 10.

For my back I do bent rows. I alternate between the barbell & dumbells. 2 sets of 10:

Next is seated shoulder presses. I prefer dumbells because of the greater range of motion. 2 sets of 10 as always:

From here it's bicep curls. I alternate between standing with the curl bar, seated with dumbells, or standing (as shown.)

Next is triceps extensions laying on the bench (not shown.)

I don't work my legs too much with weights because my knees aren't the best in the world.  I prefer to save them for the run workouts and when I walk/run the stairs.  But when I do work them, I'll do light lunges & squats:

After this, I'll do more ab exercises like I did at the start of the routine,then it'sa wrap!  The total workout is about an hour.  I'm not a bodybuilder so  stick with basic exercises, which works for me.  I prefer to workout at the gym because there's more energy, space, and better equipment there, but it's good to have equipment at home too. I can't go as heavy at home either.  I'll have to invest in more equipment.  One day!  lol

So, as I said before, the majority of my workouts are done.  I have 1 more swim workout left and then it's time to focus mentally.   I'm concerned about the bike. That's going to be my biggest challenge.  Once I get off the bike I'm good!  I'll talk about the actual race & my gameplan on the next blog.

Thanks for reading!  Till next time, Peace!