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From the Files: Weekend of Racing Fun in Galveston, Texas

18-24 Age Groupers
The kid that won, his name was “Timo” totally killed it, something like a 2:19 bike and 1:19 run..that’s one heck of a split. Congrats man!…not that he will probably ever see this blog. I must mention that he was from Finland and that the 3rd place finisher in this group was from Canada….so 2nd American??? Hahaha

The Pro’s enjoying their moment in the sun. They are fast…and they know it!

Above are two random pictures that I thought were cool enough to put in the post but I didn’t exactly know where to fit them in. The first pic is of my bike shoes. I threw some tape on them a put a few reminders on their for me to look at when I was mashing the pedals. The second is a shot of my arm, pre-race. In case I forgot or wasn’t thinking I jotted down my nutrition schedule. Some people have times set but I’d prolly not here it or feel the vibration, so Sharpie it was! It worked fact as I update this blog on Tuesday at the office, its still there. And so is my race bracelet. I know its cheesy but I just wanted to leave it on for a couple days, purely for my own pleasure since its hidden under my long sleeve dress shirt…ewwww, I would so rather be in a t-shirt or tri top under 80 degree heat.

And so it begins….without further ado, my race/vaca report (I hope I can meet all your expectations and high hopes for a good read) 🙂

Some people have the ability to remember each and every aspect of their race, where they took their 5th gel, or where they had their 1st bottle of sports drink done. I really didn’t take to many notes during the race. I basically tried to eat and drink at the times i came up with before the race started. These times were sharpied on my arm so if you would like to do the calcukations and see where i was on the course where i had my second gel and second salt tablet, let me know and i can stop over and you can read my forearm, hehe. In all seriousness thoughh i did write my goals, and plans on my arms, bib number, and bike shoes. Just a way for me to remind myself of the stuff that i really already know but then again who knows where my mind could wander while on that bike 🙂

I will of course look at all my numbers and reflect on them in my own personal way, I briefly looked at the results on the ironman website and had fun comparing them with other peoples, like lietos bike split to mine, or o’connells run split compared to mine…check em out those guys can haul some serious butt. Ive got Mary for my analysis and she is quite simply awesome and put together a race plan that was pretty much spot on i almost had my goal times that i told her about the night before but my execution on the run was a little suspect, the darn first mile felt so easy, like my legs were hardly moving and i ran way to fast, after that i drew it back and held steady until the end of lap 3. At the end of lap 3 was where the real work began. However, I will leave the actual true number crunching to my coach when she has time to look, she is very busy and doesn’t need to focus on my junk when their are others in need, plus she needs some time to rest! I was amazed at all the work she was doing before the race. Lots of plans to get out as it was a super busy weekend for her coachees. I dunno how she does it. To all the train this athletes, I will say this. We have a Super dedicated coach who cares about each and every athlete and takes each athletes races and training personally. And oh by the way she’s a triathlete too, who is coached by the one she calls “The Wizard.” I snuck a peak at her iPhone when he called, it definitely came up as “The Wizard”. So take this comment with a grain of salt but I just want to say, if she’s a little late in getting you your training plan or something like that, cut her a little slack. She is doing a million things every day. She needs to zone out and get off the grid sometimes too. But rest assure she’ll have your race plan ready before game day comes. She’s even more on top of that then “the wizard” who left her hanging a little longer than maybe was expected. Haha…..

Getting back on track. I’m not going to analyze my transitions or my ag placings and all that. If you need specific detail I think you can check for full results. I really wanted to just reflect on the experience I had and what I myself was able to learn and take away. I’m being selfish…hehe.

So here it goes. Leading up to race day I didn’t sleep all that well. I was in bed by 7:30 the two nights before and stayed in bed until the morning, with the occasional visits to the potty for a tinkle, however I just wasn’t sleeping the whole time through. I was having intermittent sleeping sessions, kind of like interval training, if I may throw in the obligatory triathlon comparison. I’d lay around, thoughts racing in my mind and then all the sudden I would have a dream, which i believe occurs in deep sleep (REM sleep I believe) somehow I was getting some deep sleep..but then I would end up waking up again this seemed to repeat itself. So all triathletes do I live for the sport so it makes sense that I sleep in the same manner that a triathlete trains, ha. Anyway, On the night before the race I had the best pre race dinner ever, cooked by none other than fellow teammate and tri studdette Kim Hase. Instead of going out to a restaurant for heavy pasta with weird sauce and weird people (Don, his family, kim, and Mary can all attest that the waiter at Marios (Texan Italian) was a little weird, I mean blue cheese on pizza is very Normal! And just because we didn’t finish our plate of 10 pound ziti doesn’t mean that we thought it tasted like dog food. It was actually pretty good but after eating a plate full of spaghetti and meatballs there just isn’t much room for anything else. I could go on about this subject and the issue we americans seems to have with “cleaning our plates” especially when those plates are like those at the Cheesecake factory. But I will save that rant for another time) so yeah Kim cooked up some tasty chicken and ziti with Red sauce. She claims to be a sub par cook but I’ll tell you this, anyone that can operate a stove is a certified gourmet chef in my book, Kim you can cook for me anytime. And from what I hear Jake can throw the pots and pans around too. He will have to be our personal cook when we are training in lake placid.

Jake, Kim and I at a “Tequila Bar”…I had half an Amstel Light, hit my quota for the year.

Inserted at approximately 12:30PM Saturday 4/26/2010:

Let me take a quick detour to explain what just happened to me. As I was pleasantly writing this post, thoroughly enjoying and minding my own business I was rudely interrupted by a jet blue email telling me that my 3pm flight to NYC had already been cancelled due to impending weather related issues. Mind you that this was at 9am. So they left me with 2 choices, 1. Find another way home and they would refund me my $125 dollars, before all the taxes I paid of course or spend the night in Houston ON MY OWN FREAKIN DIME! So after frantic scrambling I ended up with a flight that gets me to Albany (4hrs from Rochester) at 645pm. ( scratch that, 5:50PM edit – the flight to Albany was delayed until 5 so ill be getting in around 8’ish now). I was scheduled to get in at 12 midnight with jet blue. So after the drive and dinner..since southwest does not provide much food I will essentially get home at the same time (fingers crossed). At least I have an amazing mom and dad who are willing, at the drop of a hat to come pick me up 4hrs away. So after a $475 ticket, jet blue only reimbursed me for $125 dollars, (including a $50 bike fee for being inch over the 61 inch BS rule or whatever, it was only 44 lbs with all my stuff but they still stuck me with the extra fee). So none the less if all goes well I will get to have a nice 4 hr ride with the parents, I say this without sarcasm because I rally do enjoy their company. This will provide me with loads of time to fill them in on the awesome trip I had. So as I write this I am without wifi, being that I am several thousands of feet above the ground. Without further ado, I am now done ranting about the inconvenient flight changing that transpired. In the end if my bike makes it in tact (fingers crossed since I did all the packing) and I make it to Albany via Orlando by 645 (edit 8’ish) I will only be out about $350….so hey, it’s only money and I would have had to pay for a hotel and use another vacation day for work otherwise, and I want all the vacation days I can get for this summer. And the fact of the matter is that this trip and this experience was priceless, I will always remember my first Ironman experience, thank you Mary, thank you Don, and thank you Kim, and I must add that a special shout out goes to Don’s family who was my own personal support team. Coming out of the water during the swim I was not expecting anyone to be cheering for me let alone know my name and be expecting me. But low and behold I pop out of the water, happy as can be that I stayed afloat and that the bike was about to began, and there they are, his wife and two daughters cheeing on little old me, I became even happier :). Thanks guys! Don if you happen upon this post please let them know that they were awesome and their support meant a lot. The brooding about the flight stuff is over, back to the original purpose of the blog, snd positive turbo thoughts about my first 70.3 experience.

Before the rant i was explaining that Kim had made Mary and I some wonderful chicken and ziti for our “last supper” (Hmm..I like that term “Last Supper” as opposed to the pre-race meal, it gives it a little finality and meaning, it’s the last meal in preparation before full on battle, wooooohoooo, I shall now call all pre-race meals “Last Suppers” and so it began….) hid last supper was of course the sole reason I was able to complete the race 🙂

So after dinner Mary and I headed back to the hotel and hit the sack. After my on and off sleeping I was up at 3:45 and had my pre race foods ( wanna know what they are? Just ask :), then as we were heading to the race we happened upon a middle aged man who was displaying his smoothly shaven legs in a very provocative manner. I told mary to contain her excitement but she could not help herself and decided to pick up this spandex wearing, no hair in legs (or head) 🙂 stranger. It turns out it was just our teammate Don. We still decided to give him a ride to the race.

Well we got their and got set up and I even had the pleasure of using the portapotties provided by the wonderful race support. Enough said about that. But i will embarrass Don, that is if he even can get embarrassed, i don’t think triathletes think twice about A. Being naked in public, or B. Discussing their digestive system and bowl movements without thinking twice be it a conversation at dinner or a training session…but here it is…it’s my understanding that Don did not have to utilize the facilities in the same manner as myself. I learned this from his family who told me, well let’s just say no one wanted to sleep in his bed the night before, I leave it at that, Ha!

So this is where it gets good’ scratch that…it was already good, this is where it gets even I won’t say better because that’s not fair, I’ll just say “cooler” for me personally. In transition the first thing i see is the speed concept ( this is a bike but in order to give it it’s due I will refer to it just as “the speed concept”, in my head there’s no reason to explain that it’s a bike that has the properties of a small cruise missile. But I guess I just did explain that it’s a bike..whatever…any who, Chris Lieto was in the house! And then It happened, I saw him..the man had arrived. I was only about 40 bike slots away from him in transition, that was so cool. Only in the sport of triathlon can an avg Joe like me compete side by side with the top players in the game, and chris is a top player considering he finished the Kona ironman championships in oh yeah…2nd place! Yesterday he did not win but was bested by only torrenzo bezzone who put together a demonically fast bike and run combo, and another american, O’Connell, who ran an out of this world 1:07 run leg…let me just say that a 1:07 for 13.1 miles is NUtS! So impressive, and I was able see these guys running…and biking for that matter this was because the bike course was an out and back and the run was a 4 loop course that had like 20-odd turns and some total 180’s Included. (Needless to say the feet paid the price in this race since I wore no socks with my new kswiss’s, that had only about 10 miles on them. Maybe not the smartest decision but it was the one I made and I’m sticking with it. I think for the sprint and Olympic races I am going to do this summer I will get some k-ruz (lieto rocks them in 70.3’s and below) however I liked the cushioning for the longer distances, over 6 miles.

As far as the actual race I will say this. I had such an amazing time. Their were so many spectators on both the bike and the run. They really made it a fun event. Seeing lieto and potts and the rest of the pros on the bike and run was just so special to me. In terms of my race it began by me cutting my foot open on an oyster (not near the swim start) as i was relieving myself of some fluids before I headed to the dock where the swim would begin. I didn’t notice that my foot was dyed red until I got to the end of the dock where we all jumped in the water. I looked down and was like…hmm that’s weird, It didn’t hurt there or when I was in the salt water. So that was a good thing and I figured the salt water would be a good cleanser. I think my fellow age groupers either became scared of me or thought I was mentally insane when I rubbed the blood from my finger which had touched the toe on my arm while proclaiming that I was now ready to do battle since I had marked myself with my own war paint. Luckily during the race I did not attract any sharks, nor did I go face first into any jellyfish. (it’s funny because as I write this the thought of a shark smelling blood or however they do that never crossed my mind, even though I had been informed of their presence at the bottom of the harbor). So the swim felt long and that was confirmed by the overall times of all the competitors. Out of the whole day I can honestly day that I was most pleased with my swim, I came into the race unsure as to where I would stand after that part. It turns out that the time I have spent in the pool paid off and got me out of the water in a respectable position (still loads of room for improvement). My time was like 39 something. Indeed it was longer than anticipated, yet it was still on target since I pretty much guaging off of Mary who is an Awesome swimmer. I figured I’d be around 5-6 minutes behind her and my guess was pretty close, so I was very pleased to find this all out after the race.

The bike was cool. A pure out and back that was more or less flat the whole way, mary and I both confirmed that we used only 2 gears during the whole ride. Their were lots of spectators on the course and they really got into it when I would come by them and start screaming and then flip em the Texas “horns” sign..that was really cool. And their were tons of aid stations. I ran out of water twice and both times I was greeted with an aid station within a couple miles. This leads me to a funny part of the bike..and well the run. Let’s just say I had a lot of water on the bike. I drained my 40oz speedfill tank that was full from the beginning and then proceeded to down like 4 bottles, maybe 5 (but they may have not all been drank to their entirety) of the snapple looking plastic water bottles. Plus my 6scoops of gatorade endurance in a 21oz bottle mix. Very concentrated and very good. Nutrition as a whole was great, however I am interested in finding out more about Base nutrition which is lieto’s brain child. It’s not a crazy overhaul or anything but it could be worth giving a shot before placid gets here. So back to my story, I had to pee for like 30 miles but since their was no stopping of the legs on the flat course I just couldn’t as they say “break the seal” and as every triathlete in a real race will attest to, you just let it fly on race day, so stopping was not an option. And to you people that wet themselves during training, ummm…I’m not with you on that one, I think that’s weird. Just pull over, stop the gamin/sunnto/polar and find a nice spot on the side of the road or at a nice starbucks/gas station. In the words of Job from the stellar tv show that was cancelled after 3 short seasons, Arrested Development…”I mean COME ON!” haha..,I digress, ….where was I? Oh yeah the good part, I made it back to transition and jumped into my shoes and even remembered to take my helmet off, and yes I wore it the right way, not backwards like some have done in the past. After about a mile into the run the flood gates open and the seal was broken. This was the first time I have done such a deed. It was like niagara falls was occurring below the belt…. for about 2 miles, it felt great! And I kept a sub 7 pace at the same time..booyah! One other thing about the run, it just about right on target with the plan Mary and I concocted., ultimately I was over by about a minute, and missed my execution early on in the biggy in the grand scheme of things, and it leaves room for a ton of improvement as I learned A LOT about myself on the run. I can’t wait to tackle that again distance in Syracuse this September. Oh yeah the run provided me with a stellar blood blister on my right foot (since you are all anxiously awaiting a photo, I will please you by posting it when i arrive home tomorrow).

After the race is where the fireworks began. I got into some regular clothes and made my way back to the run segment to see Don and Mary run. Unfortunately I did not see Kim running but when I was talking with chris (lieto that is) he did mention that he had seen Kim and that he had cheered enough for the both of us. Oh yeah did I mention that I got to meet Chris Lieto! I could not believe it. He is basically my role model, scratch that, idol in the sport of triathlon. I dig his style and his amazing abilities. He was just standing around with his Dad and some friends before the awards and after assurance from Mary that it was cool to talk to him, I was building the courage up but her gentle prodding helped me move the process along, I went up to him and introduced myself, seeing if he wouldn’t mind taking a picture with me. The equivalent of most people meeting and getting a picture with say lebron, Kobe, pujols, obama, the pope….you get the picture. Not only was he more than happy to pose with me while Mary snapped the photo, he ended up chatting with Mary and I for like 5 minutes. We talked about the course, how the bike was deceptively difficult since it’s very flat, which means that their are no turns to give your legs a break, no downhills to coast, and no uphills to get out of your saddle. And he even asked us about our own races…very cool. Such a treat to meet him. And I must say that the day was cemented as one to remember for the ages when I had the chance to casually chat with a swimmer who Is probably the fastest pro, and I might even put him up a against flipper, or a human with a evinrude 9.9 outboard…yep Andy Potts. He was chilling before the awards too, and I was curious to hear how he felt about the swim. I got my nerve up and went over, introduced myself and asked him what he thought. He validated Mary and my own thoughts that the course was a bit slow as he would usually swim this distance in get this…21-22 minutes. He was around 25 min yesterday. Still lighting quick when you think about the waves and the fact that the pros couldn’t wear wetsuits. Andy to spoke with me for a good bit of time. We talked about how he got started in the sport and some other things….he was so cool. He even had overheard my race results from my talking with Mary or something and asked me about them, a nice personal touch. It’s really great to see that the sport I have failed in love with has such great ambassadors. They could have been to busy to spend time chatting with a crazy kid like me, but the fact is that they were just as nice as could be, that’s why this sport is so great. I hope it can stay like this for as long as possible.

So yeah that was my day. I got to race an event that was top notch, along top some of the best pros who were going after a $75k prize purse, and along side my fellow train this teammates who I saw on both the bike and run and even was able to give them a yell. I saw Don finish his run and was really glad to give him a high five after going through the chute but I must apologize to Mary because I did not get to see her come down the chute as planned. I didn’t know where she was time wise and plain ole missed her, but I found her when she was picking up her bike…so it was all good. Next time!

We ended the day by eating volcano sundaes at the rainforest cafe and hanging with Kim and Jake at a “local watering hole”. We were back to the hotel around 9:30 and I managed to cram my bike in my bag and get to bed by 11. I slept like a baby until about 545 when Mary and I got ready to hit the road and begin our journey back to Rochester. Since as some of you know Mary and I flew into different airports (we thought we were going to the same one, only to find out that we we not after she had landed at George Bush airport and could not locate jet blue airlines) luckily Houston-hobby was on the way to Galveston so it wasn’t a big deal. Mary dropped me off early and she headed to the other side of Houston, navigating through the rush hour traffic. I was in pleasant spirits while i was writing my blog with my legs up after a nice breakfast of chicken and salad. I even saw don and his family pass by. Then my flight got changed…that story was above. If you have read this novel I just wrote, congratulations…you are among the few and the proud. And have most likely successfully passed the high school English regents.

All the best
– MjC

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