Death Valley 2013

March 31st, 2013 No comments
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Full Vineman 2012

August 3rd, 2012 No comments

It was getting dark but we were at least nearly done. Thankfully I wouldn’t need a flashlight.

My walking companion was a man from Utah and we’d been talking about our race for two miles. It felt nice to process it while it was happening with someone in the same place. Eventually the topic had turned to food. I could happily never see another gel, block or sports drink cup again. I was not alone in that thought.

“He suggested boiled potatoes. You boil them. Cover them in Salt. Drizzle some olive oil on them and wrap them in foil…”
“That sounds SO GOOD!” joined in a woman who happened to hear us. We turned to her: “Really? You don’t feel like some more sticky sugar?” Now there was three of us walking together.

Nearly done.

3 am and I was up.

In the final week, I’d canceled my hotel room. My plan for this race was only getting more complicated so I’d stripped it back to the simplest plan I thought would get me there. In fact, the only goal of any substance was to finish. So if there was something about the plan that didn’t serve that goal, it was rethought and removed if needed. If it was complicated, it needed to be complicated for a reason. If it was just about going a little faster, I stripped it away if it put finishing in danger. For example, the tires I rode were not the fastest tires, but the fastest tires for me and the ones that serve the goal are the ones that don’t puncture as easily. I went with the slow, puncture-resistant tires on this this rough course and saw dozens of flats.

I jumped in the shower for a minute and then got ready with all my gear on. I went with a tri top and tri shorts. Not a lot of padding down there for 112 miles on Sonoma County country roads, but it would have to do. Simplify. CEP blue compression socks for fun and comfort, and hopefully to hold my calves together during the run. I added white arm coolers too. One less part of my body to burn, and I hoped to pour water on them to keep cool.

I loaded my bike on the car and set about eating. I originally had some lofty goals for pre-race food, but decided to see how it felt instead. Overloading calories at 3 am wasn’t really something I’d tried out, so I decided to let me body decide. I ended up eating about 1000 calories before leaving the house:

– Half bagel toasted with cream cheese (500 cal)
– Bonk Breaker (260 cal)
– Yogurt (180 cal)
– Granola Bar (100 cal)
– and some coffee

In the car, loaded up with my daughter sleeping in the back seat, I started to work on a 200 calorie bottle of Carbopro / Nuun. We drove north an hour and a half. Dark freeways and then even darker backwoods highways. Finally the darkness and the trees gave way to Guerneville, filled with car lights and bikes and people like a clearing in the woods filled with a secret society. We parked and I ate another yogurt for a little more food and to settle my stomach. Approximately 1500 calories taken in total before I started to swim.

I took a Gu, had Kelly help me with my wetsuit (her official job), and then waded into the water and slipped my goggles over my eyes. The water was warm and steam clung to the surface. Thank goodness for a warm swim, for once. Down the river, the redwoods stood above the mist like tall guardians. Lots of triathlon dreams started here, later fulfilled in Windsor. Or perhaps lost somewhere on the long journey. But now it was my time. My Ironman time. For the first time in weeks, I was calm.

Our silver caps glided into the water while the previous wave began their journey. I swam a little bit to get my face in the water and then thunk! A hand hit my head! I looked up and someone apologized. Really? Body contact in the warm up. This was going to be fun.

I swam a moment more to get into place, looked up, and heard the go command. Really, we were starting? OK then.


I pressed start on my watch and started to swim. My position happened to be middle towards the back at the time of the start, but I swam straight into the middle of the pack. People crowded in around me, but I felt pretty comfortable with it this time. I let some of them go while holding onto the feet in front of me. Tap tap on my feet from behind me. Bodies on either side of me. It felt slow, but I assumed it wasn’t. The feet in front were part of the pack and the pack moves fast even when you feel like you’re hardly doing anything. At one point I was thinking how well I was dealing with the people around me when suddenly I was semi-dunked. I swallowed some water then put my head up again right into a wave and maybe someone’s arm and swallowed more water. OK, don’t panic. I slowed a bit and took a couple of breaststroke kicks, got my mind back into it, and then went back to freestyle and back onto some feet.

We passed under the bridges and that’s about where it became hard to stay on the feet of people in front of me as the pack broke up and the water was stirred up with silt. The depth became really shallow and people stood up. Why? I swam by them. And we were only a few hundred yards from the start.

I was breathing to the right and watching the bank of the river move along. Moments of peace came with only swimming to think of as we were more dispersed. I sighted forward too, but never really had to correct my course. Trees and mist and splashing swimmers. Looks about right. I was really just wondering how much further until the turn around. That section sort of dragged because there’s nothing very distinctive to indicate how far you have to swim, you just swim and swim and know that it’s still so early with a long way to go.

Peace was sometimes shattered by another wave coming by, the lead swimmers flying around and sort of through us. You knew they were coming because the water would start to boil before the new cap colors came by. Then it was back to the rhythm. Breathe, breathe, sight…

I imagined myself swimming past the turn around, swimming 100s of yards too far upstream, kayaks yelling at me to make the turn. But in reality the turn was easy to spot as it was a complete log jam. Lots of people were standing up because the water was only a couple of feet deep in places. My goggles were leaking a bit on the left side so I stopped and put my feet down and adjusted them, then headed back towards the start line through the mess of standing and swimming athletes.

The trip back was faster and made easier mentally by being able to sight on the bridges again. As I went under the bridges I looked up to see if I could see Patty and Kelly, but didn’t see anyone I knew up there. Towards the beach, the crowd noise picked up and it was kind of confusing as everyone tried to find their way around the buoys. For the most part it was hard to sight here because the scene was pretty chaotic. I followed someone else’s feet and let them deal with it and soon I was facing the other direction and back looking at the right hand bank and headed back up to the bridges.

Unlike Boise, I was never really far from other people the whole way so I kept sighting and actually got into a good routine where I could pick my way up the field. Others from back waves passed me, but I also swam by people in my wave and even from waves further ahead. Waves aren’t seeded by swim time, they are seeded by age group, so by the end of the swim, we were all pretty well mixed.

The trip back up to the turn around seemed to go pretty fast and the turn around itself was easier to deal with this time with generally less people. Again my goggles needed a little work and were fogging up, but on the home stretch, I ignored it and plowed on, passing more and more people. Strangely I didn’t even really feel tired when I arrived at the beach. Time out of the water was 1hr 24min. Perhaps a touch slower than I imagined I could do, but I wasn’t thinking I’d be dealing with a fairly congested space for the whole swim. Still, totally under my goal of 1hr 30min. Solid 2:00 /100yd pace in open water was a big improvement on Boise last year.

I made my way up the beach, used the wet suit stripper to get my suit off, and then onto my rack. To my surprise, it seemed like the majority of the bikes were still there in my age group. I dropped down to the group and put on my bike shoes, took a Gu, stood up and put on my helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and headed for the exit. Many of the people there when I entered were still there when I left as there was a lot of cloth changing and chit chat going on.

I joined the single file traffic jam of bikes getting out of transition, handed my bag with T1 gear over the fence to Kelly so I wouldn’t have to go find it at the end of the race, Then I walked to the top of the hill before I mounted and was off on a very long bike ride.


We settled into a line headed up River Rd. My legs felt great and I could see how you could go out hard. Too hard. So I took easy. Plenty of people passed on the outside, but I also went by people. Lots of disk wheels out there. Whoop Whoop. For a little while I thought my Powertap was telling me we were doing 15.1 miles/hr which I would have believed with the perceived effort but then I remembered I’d changed the speed middle display to HR. 151 bpm. I looked at my watch and saw we were averaging over 18.9 miles/hr.

We made the turn down onto Westside Rd super-slow, under River Rd and then up a steep little hill on the other side. Then it was down to buisness and I did my best to settle in, start to eat, and work on my first aero bottle. The plan was 200 cal/hr in the bottle (with Nuun) and 100 cal from other sources. I started with Chomps. Then I’d move onto two halves of a Bonk Breaker. Then onto the Gu’s attached to my bike.

Westside Rd stayed basically congested for most of its length with people always passing. It was really hard not to draft as everyone kept getting bunched up. It’s hard to not overtake everyone in sight and trash the legs on the steep little rollers along there. Patience.

At some point AnneMarie, whom I’d ridden with during the practice on the course, came by “Can you believe we’re doing this??!” Not really. She took off, but I figured I’d see her again.

At the first aid station, 18 miles in, my first bottle was done. Average 17.8 miles/hr (156 HR). I stopped for a moment to fill it up then headed back out and kind of wished the port-a-potty line wasn’t so long.

Only 10 miles to the next aid station: up Dry Creek Rd, past the store where we stop all of the time. Woosh by that. No time for a sandwich or Flying Goat. Then the turn into Canyon where I got off my aerobars to make the climb and went by a bunch of people. Do they never climb, or are they just being more careful than me? A screaming descent down the other side to the freeway and into the aid station. About 16.8 miles/hr average with the climb, though I was backing off a little and my HR was down to 150 average which was a good place to be before the sun came out. I stopped at the aid station and stood in line at the Port-a-potty behind four other people. Waited three minutes and nobody came out. Great. Got on my bike and left.

From Geyserville, near the aid station, down to Chalk Hill the road is Hwy 128 which had some cars on it, but is a beautiful road through the vineyards. I tried to stay aero and push through this section that only has a few hundred feet worth of relatively gentle rollers on it, taking advantage of the marine layer still being out, it not yet being hot, and not yet being windy. All things that were likely to change by the second loop. In the end, it wasn’t really as fast as I’d hoped: around 17.5 miles/hr with HR steady at 150. I could probably have gone faster here safely, but at the time, it felt like the right steady effort.

Now at mile 39 or so, 2:15 into the bike leg. Still felt good and finally found a Port-a-potty that was easy in and easy out.

Now for the toughest section, the area through Chalk Hill. I wasn’t afraid of the hill itself which I’ve ridden over lots of time, but the area leading up to it has some nasty hills and there are some bad spots on the road. But I knew the spots to look out for, including the bridge with the nasty lip on it that sent someone over the side after they hit an ejected bike bottle. They needed to be airlifted out, apparently. There were bottles everywhere there (and elsewhere). Probably hundreds of bottles out on the course. In fact I saw all sorts of stuff on the roads: a whole saddle bag, many CO2 cartridges, bike numbers stuck to the road, a bottle still in a carbon fiber bottle holder, tires, tubes etc.

For Chalk Hill itself, I used my granny gear to keep my legs, spinning up in a 28. Average speed of course dropped a lot though here, but picked up again with the descent and the trip back into town. 16.4 miles/hr to get to the aid station right after the High School, mile 57 (17.6 miles/hr from the top of Chalk Hill).

Time for another loop.

Second time along Westside Rd was slower as the sun was now out and it was time to save the legs and make sure I stayed drinking and eating. 17min to the aid station at mile 75 was 16.7 miles/hr with my HR averaging 149. The 75 miles on the legs were also beginning to be noticed with my legs certainly less than fresh and more concentration being required to keep steadily pushing forward. At the aid station, I ran into AnneMarie again while I waited in the Port-a-potty line again. She said she was going to take this loop easier and save the legs. Sounded like a good plan. I ended up at this aid station for over 3 minutes and then headed off with a plan: I’d take the trip over Canyon Rd hill easy, give a last push along the Geyserville to Chalk Hill section, take it very easy through the Chalk Hill area, and then give a last steady push to T1.

Around mile 85, I was cruising along and actually thinking how this was going fairly well for being 85 miles in. Speed was good enough. Legs still had something left. Heart rate in check. Food and hydration were on plan. Then suddenly, a bee of all things flew into my neck and lodged between my skin and the chin strap of my helmet!! I could feel it buzzing for a moment, stuck there while I was flying along at 17 miles an hour. I reached up to try and get it out, which was of course when it stung me. Ouch!! I saw the bee drop away, so eating it (a la Jens Voigt) was not an option. Sigh… all I could do was hope my throat didn’t swell up or something and kept riding. Interestingly, a few miles later I couldn’t really feel much of a sting. I suppose I was metabolizing stuff out pretty fast.

With that wildlife encounter behind me, I made my way over the Canyon Rd hill again, down the other side. Grabbed water at the Geyserville aid station without stopping. 17.1 miles/hr between these 10 miles apart aid stations, actually faster than the first time through, including the bee sting. Who needs honey stinger waffles? I might be onto something. They’ll be called “Bee stings”. You grab one, put it up to your neck and it fires calories directly into your bloodstream. Of course it’ll hurt like hell, but the performance benefits will be unmistakable.

Back out of Geyserville and onto the part where I’d hoped I would go fast. That’s when I figured out the real reason I was going faster headed north, it seemed we’d developed a solid head wind coming from the south. I put my head down and certainly put in the same or more energy as the first time through (HR 10 bpm higher, though it was now much hotter too), but it got me just over 16 miles/hr average. My slowest section was, in fact, the section I was hoping to go the fastest. Oh well, the conditions were what they were. It was now officially hot and windy. But at least I just needed to get through Chalk Hill area for the second time, and then it was the home stretch into Windsor.

The second time was, in fact, fine, but my shoulders and neck were in pain, and getting off the aerobars meant using my now very tired arms. It surprised me a little to discover that the first thing to totally give out was my arms, followed by my shoulders and back. In general, by mile 95 or so, I was really ready to be off the bike. But the deal is if you get off the bike you have to run a marathon. By mile 95, I’d take that deal.

It amused me that exactly mile 100 was Chalk Hill itself. That’s some nice planning. Passed through the century mark in 6 hrs 8 min. Not too bad! The hill was okay, 7.8 miles/hr (HR 171) vs 8.5 miles/hr the first time through (HR 165). Heat had bumped up my HR quite a bit, apparently. I just imagined it to be the end of a mountain stage as I pulled myself up and spectators cheered. At least a slightly amusing set of superhero-costumed volunteers yelled. I’m not sure I respond too well to spectator yelling. I really just want to be left alone when the suffering comes. I suppose the red Speedo was at least distracting.

I mostly had the same people around me by the second lap. Each aid station would play a little shuffle game, but pretty soon the guy with the one compression sock higher than the other would appear, or the guy with the expensive wheels who I didn’t see once use his aerobars. Also, increasingly it became obvious that more and more people around me were doing the aquabike. That hardly seems fair, there’s a big difference climbing a hill like Chalk Hill at mile 100 if you think you have to run a marathon in 12 miles instead of sit on the grass in Windsor and have a beer. I wish those people were better marked.

The trip into town from the top of the hill was pretty much uneventful other than being sore all over. I passed one guy walking his bike from 6 miles out with a broken spoke, and he seemed annoyed when I asked if I could help. I suppose he’d been asked a hundred times. At any rate, that’s a long walk.

I crossed back across the freeway and sped through all the streets around Windsor. It’s fun to go through lights under police direction, right? And we were almost done here. Past the cemetery, the goats, airport and back to the High School. Average 17.1 miles/hr from the top of the hill, so I could still move. Finally the High School came up and we cruised into the dismount line. Done with the bike leg and walking into T2, the heat was beating down.

Bike summary: 112 miles in 6 hrs 48 mins (16.4 miles/hr average with 8 mins spent stopped at aid stations, etc.) Average HR was 153. Temperature at the end of the bike: 87 degrees. Drank about 8 bottles. Calories: 1400 calories of Carbo Pro in the bottles and about 750 calories of extra solid and semi-solid ‘food’. So over 2100 calories.

In general, I think the bike went really well. I didn’t crash. My bike didn’t break. I drank. I ate. And I basically executed my strategy keeping my HR under 160, nearer 150. I kept it super easy on the hills and tried to keep the pace up on the straights. Without a power meter, it’s hard to know how well I did at that, but Strava says 150 watts average, though it’s probably a little higher with the head wind on the second loop. Either way, that’s about what I imagined an IM paced ride would look like with my current fitness.

Into transition and nobody was in any hurry. The long single file pathway into the main courtyard T2 area was clogged up, possibly with aqua bikers who were done for the day. I’m not sure. Anyway, my legs weren’t exactly excited to be on solid ground so I made my way pretty slowly to my rack. Unlike T1 where I was happy to see a rack full of bikes, I was not as happy to also see a rack full of bikes in T2. That meant most of my age group rode by me at some point, and one suspects that was mostly in the first 20 minutes of the bike leg.

A bike was parked in my spot, so I figured out somewhere else to put my bike, then sat down on the ground and changed into new socks and running shoes. Took off my helmet and swapped sunglasses with another clean pair. Added a running hat and grabbed my Chomps and Gu packets and then was off. Wait, best to hit a Port-a-potty now. Ok, now I’m off. 11 minutes later… As I left a guy running out with was apparently excited: “Hey, I can still run. Not fast, but I can run!”. That’s pretty much where I was. It was post-ride heaviness. But there was also a lot more tiredness than I’ve ever had trying to run off the bike. After all, it had already been a long day. But at least I could run. For now.

I stopped at the mile 0 aid station to fill my hand bottle and have the nice volunteer apply some more sunscreen to my burning shoulders. I’m not really sure why I got burnt, I guess 7 hours out in the sun was just too much for the sunscreen.

We run out onto Windsor Rd and away from the High School for the first lap. Initially shuffling along at 10:30ish pace behind a couple of other guys seemed pretty doable, though I was deeply tired. At the first aid station, I ran into AnneMarie whom I’d apparently gotten in front of during transition. It’s hard to imagine overtaking anyone with my T2 speediness, but she’d changed out of bike shorts into matching pink lined running shorts and pink compression socks.

The two of us ran and walked most of the first outward leg of the run together, but I could feel my reserves fading fast and I was going to need to walk more than she wanted to if I was going to survive. She looked like she was going to destroy this run course. I felt like the run course was going to destroy me. Just needed to slow down and play survival for a while.

For the first half of the run I tried to stay on plan with food, but it was a losing battle. It was hard to get Chomps down with the heat beating down and aid station stops concerned themselves more with ice and water for cooling and hydration and less with food. Taking in solid food was kind of out of the question anyway. Getting my arm coolers wet helped. Taking a filled cup of ice and holding it until the next aid station worked. But the best strategy was probably simply to fill my water bottle half with ice, half with water. The ice cooled my hand and the water stayed cool to drink.

Pace slowed to where I probably could have power walked better. I shuffled along at some kind of slow running pace when it was flat or downhill, then walked the uphills. The uphills were really the death blow to my running and this course was very not flat! With the heat and the gradients the hills hit me where it hurt and my body told me that unless I walked them, I was very unlikely to see the end of this race. It seemed reasonable that, if I could do that, I’d be looking at between 5 and 6 hours, rather than walking the whole thing. That would be fine with me.

I was not alone either. Almost nobody still on the course (and the leaders were still out there until my second lap) was running up the hills. A whole field of very fit, slow-moving people. The Windsor shuffle was in full swing. Looking at the results, the majority of people went over 5 hours on the marathon, many took 7. Only 3 people total went under 10 hours for the race.

At the end of the first lap I got my bracelet to show one lap completed and headed out again. The finish seemed a long way away at this point. I felt like there was no energy left and I’d only run a little over 8 miles. Still, focus on a more short term goal: a couple of aid stations would make it 10 miles. Make it to the run loop turn around and that would be half way. I could do those things.

The second lap was clearly the most grueling two hours of the race. Not close to being done. The heat still as hot as it had been all day. I can’t even remember now, a few days later, anything much that happened, just forward movement. Aid stations came and went as a blur. I put in water. Tried a piece of peach and it made my stomach hurt. Worked through a packet of chomps. Drank some Nuun, which I was beyond sick of. Looked at my watch for the first time in hours. 3 hr 20 min into the run. Abstract number. I wondered how large a number would be there by the end. I couldn’t calculate what it could be, except that I was running each of the 6 legs in an hour each. Man, that’s a long time to be out here. Keep running. Walking. Drinking.

At the turn around and half way mark, 13.1 miles, I decided to start on the Coke. And wow, that worked! My energy supply become pretty much linked to how much Coke I’d drunk and how long ago. I mixed it with a cup of ice, and that was what would get me through to the last lap. The triathlon lifestyle is supposed to be healthy, right? Now I was surviving on Coke, of all things.

Finally done with the second loop. I run up Windsor Rd towards the school and there’s hundreds of people cheering there. I scan the crowd looking for Patty and Kelly. I assume by now they should be back up here somewhere. Nowhere to be seen. My spirits drop, I was looking forward to seeing them the whole way back.

I round the corner and head into the school, heading for the turn around and my second bracelet and there they are alone at one of the barricades. I stop and chat for a little while and dump off most of my remaining food (I might as well give them the food rather than throw it in the trash). I leave two Gu’s in my pocket in case I’m inspired for that, but I doubt it.

The first couple of miles of the final lap went well and I soon hit the 20 mile mark. I guess that’s the point in a marathon where you feel tired. Ha. But I think I did hit a point where I realized I needed some more food than Coke. I made a decision that at the next aid station, it was all about eating. Eating and Coke. I ate a whole Oreo Cookie and a half a banana. Now that’s food. Actually, it’s possible I only ate half of the Oreo Cookie and threw the rest of it in the trash. Pleased with myself for such eating, I headed off down the road completely energized. Until I realized I didn’t have any Coke. Just to be safe I ran back and got some Coke and then took off. As little as that sounds like I ate, it was actually a real turn around, and I knew soon I’d be done.

Two miles later I made the final turnaround, still walk-running, but feeling relatively good. Now the home stretch. 4 miles. I can run 4 miles, that’s nothing. Someone turned around ahead of me that was on their second lap. They didn’t think they’d make it back in time for the cut off at 9pm. They’d be close though, I figured, since I got back within minutes of the cutoff. They were resigned though. Another man was walking with his wife. She was telling him there would be another try. He was crying. People’s dreams vanishing with the sunlight. I was thankful for where I was in the race and that in an hour I’d be done.

On the way back, I realized that my walk/run and elongated stops at the aid stations were moving me along about the same speed as a man walking with a spectator woman. They were power walking machines. Eventually I started to chat with him. It turned out he had bad knees so he’d trained to walk the entire marathon.

We talked about how you’d see people in the Ironman walking and wonder why don’t they just run. Yet here we were walking. It seemed obvious at the time why they were walking. Why we were walking. But now, even a couple of days later, I’m not sure. Couldn’t I have just run more?

We talked about lots of things. And eventually the conversation turned to boiled potatoes, drizzled in olive oil and salt. And soon we were almost there…

Turning into Windsor High School the shoot of barricades leading to the finish were dark in the evening twilight, though you could hear the announcer up ahead and see the lights. The two of us decided to make a run for it, him no longer worrying about his knees, me unconcerned with 14 hours of fatigue. Now was the time to run. It’s an amazing thing that even after all that you can sprint for the finishing line. Couldn’t I have just run more?

The man I’d walked the past two miles with reached over and shook my hand, like Macca and Raelert, except at 8:40 pace. I heard my name called out. Then both of us crossed the line under the floodlights together. 14 hours and 28 minutes after starting to swim in the river as the sun had just risen. A world away.

And so I, with another finish line that wasn’t so different from others, became an Ironman.

I’ve heard people say that finishing an Ironman changed their life. Somehow though I didn’t see that side of it. Perhaps I’ve just had a long enough endurance sports background at this point that I know what can be achieved over months of training. Similarly, I know what can be achieved by stubborn determination on race day when one must overcome what is hard, for a very long period of time, and get the job finished.

Would I do another one? I’ve been pondering that question all week. Yes. I would if it wasn’t an expensive and time consuming exercise to sign-up for and train for one of these. I’m fascinated with the impenetrable nature of racing so long and feel like I’d certainly like to give it another shot with more of a bike history. The reality of the event is that most of the achievement is in the work leading up to the race and it’s actually that part that I enjoyed the most. The race just capped it off.

It’s been a long road from, yes, watching the Wide World of Sports Ironman race on TV as a kid (the craziest thing I ever saw), to running my first races, first marathon, to first Ironman. From not being able to swim a single lap at the YMCA pool to swimming 2.4 miles in open water. From my first sprint tri with a 400 yard swim and 11 mile bike to 140.6 miles in a single day. From having a pro triathlete and former Olympian embarrassingly stop during his run leg to change my road bike tire in my first Olympic tri. From a road bike I was riding with sneakers on flat pedals during that same race, if I remember correctly, to actually loving being on the bike and yes, being able to change a tire, even if I still don’t love that. In that Olympic Tri I was second to last in my age group. The speed of others, especially in my age group of over-competitive 40 year old men, still baffles me. It’s been my one constant as I’ve got better at this triathlon thing. I’m still in the bottom half of my age group (73/110), though top half of the field. All I can hope is that I’m getting better and stronger, and I’d love to see how it develops.

So that’s it. My first Ironman.

Vineman eve

July 28th, 2012 No comments

Well the day has arrived and it’s time to go to bed. 3am start tomorrow since we’re driving up from Oakland. After that swim, bike and run all day.

Today I drove up to Sonoma country (Windsor, CA) to pick up my race packet and set up Bike->Run transition. Then Drove back home. There’s a lot of cars in the bay area and I think I saw a fair percentage of them. The operation went smoothly though and I’m now organized and ready to go do this thing.

Race starts at 6:36am for me. Wave 4.

I’m a little under-trained, but that’s better than injured or sick. The plan is to go pretty easy especially when it gets warm, drink and eat a lot, and try to survive.

There’s a link on the front page of for tracking. Bib is 405. But this might work:

The course maps are here:

My only real goal is to finish, but I’m using the following to estimate for food so they might help in tracking (all two of you — hi mum!):

** 1.5 hours to swim 2.4 miles. I swam one of the two loops up there
in 38min… so around 8am.

** Approx 6.5-7.5 hours to ride 112 miles. I rode one loop in about
3:10 or so, and Boise was 3:15 or something last year. Assuming I
don’t completely fall apart on the second half of the bike sub-7 hours
is the hope. So off the bike some time after 3pm. Should be nice and hot then.

** And then the total unknown. The Run. Probably 5-7 hours to run/walk 26.2 miles. I ran 18 miles in a little less than 3 hours on the course a couple of weeks ago, but obviously without the long bike ride first. Hoping to go under 5 hours, but that’s probably unlikely. More like 5-5:30 I’m thinking. Maybe before dark!

I have until 11pm to finish.

Wish me luck!

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Training – Vineman – 7/2 – 7/8

July 23rd, 2012 No comments

Final big week. Total for this week was 14 hours. Of course I probably should have been training for 15 hours a week for months now, but you can only do what you can do. At least no injury or sickness so far. Hopefully it will stay that way.

Bike: 114.7 mi (7 hrs 33min)
Run: 27 mi (4 hrs 37min)
Swim 3.2 mi (1 hr 54min)
Total: 14 hrs 4min.


The week kicked off with an evening trail run on Sequoia Bayview Monday evening. Pace felt pretty good because clearly the weekend fatigue hadn’t set in yet. I’m somewhat surprised I’ve not run this trail more lately as it’s hardly hilly, nice soft surface and of course beautiful.


Tuesday morning I got up and rode up to Skyline and down the other side and then back. The fatigue was clearly building but my climbing was still strong and Strava was happy to report PRs on practically every hill I rode. Perhaps I’m getting somewhere here.

On the last hill, a steep but not too long ascent on the way home, I thought I’d see how hard I could push up it. I chose way too big a gear but had the momentum of a previous downhill to give me some speed going into it. The hills gradient hit hard but I stood up and gave it everything. 600+ watts *. It was like magic. For a moment I was on top of the gear and accelerating vertically up this wall of a hill. For a moment I was like a tour rider at the top of a mountain finish as the field falls away behind their inhuman push for the line. But only for a moment. Reality hit like a swimming pool filled with lactic acid and I slowed to a crawl. It was everything I had to get over the hill in my 28 after that. But for a moment…

* actually, 600 watts is a guess. My Powertap died a few weeks ago and is now an expensive HR monitor. I could say a lot more about how something so expensive might be expected to last more than two springs of riding, but for now I’m moving on.

As I rode my bike Tuesday morning I decided to try something different and swim at Clark Kerr campus in Berkeley for my evening swim. In a word it was horrid. The outdoor pool was blinding in the evening sun. The water had a lot of stuff floating in it, including, of course there was the usual bandaid on the bottom. People were doing lap swimming but I couldn’t really work out how to fit in. Somewhere between college girls splashing around in bikinis and the Olympic swimmers I suppose, but where? Eventually I settled on a medium lane but the swimmers were going fast and then stopping after each lap for a long time. The two of them were on some kind of date it seemed. So there was a lot of chit chat. To keep things simple I started to swim 100s, swimming 12 of them for my main set. After 2100 yards total (or so) I got out. Just could never get into a routine and I really depend on predictability to get swimming done it seemed.

Wednesday – 4th of July

A lot of people ramp up for 4th of July with a big ride or something but I couldn’t really figure out how to do that with such a packed week. In the end we did family activities, BBQ etc most of the day and then went for an hour run in Lake Chabot. Its always hard to run in the late afternoon. There’s general tiredness, nutrition is never right, and generally I’d rather just name. But usually if I head up to the trails all that goes away and the run is usually good.


On Thursday I did a long swim of 3500 yards. For the first time I went under 30min for the metric mile (1500m or 33 laps). That was something of a swimming goal for the past couple of years that I can finally check off. After that I slowed a bit for the second half, but still ended up swimming 1:51 per 100 yards pace.

And in the evening I went to M2 for a bike class. These have been fairly mellow lately. And there was hardly anyone there. I suppose everyone was blown out from their 4th of July rides. Anyway, the ride had some long sustained tempo riding, so that was good for me:

10min @ 85% (about 205 watts)
5 x 90sec on 30sec RI (about 235 watts)
4 x 90sec on 30sec RI (about 245 watts)
Straight into 1:15 + 1:00 + 45sec + 30sec better each step, on 30sec RI




Another big weekend, but the final long workouts before the taper. For my final long run I headed back up to Windsor to run with Trimore Fitness on the Vineman Run course. It’s kind of a ridiculously long way to go for a run, but I had a lot of fun having other people to train with the previous week. On top of that I wanted to run the course (or at least see the hills on it, running them even better…) and I wanted to get as much running in heat as possible.

We met at Windsor HS and there were plenty of faces I recognized from the previous week. I grabbed my bike off the car and we headed out as a group to ride the course first. It was a little bonus ride but a gentle spin really. The guy running the training day pointed out some parts of the course, but nothing too interesting. Yes, it is kind of hilly, but nothing like a trail run. Yes, it can be exposed. No, I’d rather run in the shade where I can than try to take the shortest path, thanks.

The course is out and back three times. Each time is a bit over 4 miles out, 4 miles back. So to do an 18 mile run I decided I’d run with everybody out to the turn around then head back. I’d get water at the turn around and then at my car. Then head out to the turn around once more, hope the guy was still there with water, and then head back to the car. Get more water. Then do the final 2 miles if I felt okay. Or do it anyway, cause this is IM we’re talking about.

The whole thing made me nervous though. I haven’t really done a lot of running on pavement and have been running based on time, a three hour run has usually been closer to 14 or 15 miles on trails, so this one promised to be over-long and over-hard on my legs with all the pounding. It was a high risk run, but I felt like it needed to be done.

So we set off on the run and soon settled into a pace that was under 9min/mile initially but slowed a bit as the hills came. I was hoping to run 9:30s or so. The first trip out felt great, my HR was relatively low for 9min/mi pace, but the morning was young and the heat hadn’t risen yet. I started to eat chomps every 30min and at the aid station I filled my bottle, added a Nuun to it and headed back towards the car. It turned out the Vineman 70.3 course is now different from the Full, and for some reason I was determined to run just on the full course while others continued on. That meant that I was now on my own. And after the first mile there was nobody out there except me and the two dogs that barked at me every time I ran by.

Pace continued well, but with just myself to pace myself I settled into more like 9:15 pace, which I was still happy with. Starting to get hot though. At the car I was a little over 8 miles in. First 5k went by in just under 28min. First 10k in 57min.

I filled my bottle from a previously frozen water bottle, added another Nuun and headed back out. The return trip followed the story all through the run. Heat rising. HR rising. Pace slowing. I was still running mid-9min/mile but my HR was now in the 170s and I felt hot. My legs were also becoming unhappy with the pavement and my hip flexers have been happier.

But things really went downhill when I got back to the turn around and the aid station was gone! Grrr!

I tipped my now almost empty bottle into my mouth and the last of my water was gone. Oh well, dehydration training. 4 miles back to the car. No use standing around. I slowed my pace a bit and walked through some of the shadows to stay cool, but kept chugging along. It was a long trip and my mood was falling quickly. This was hard. The excitement of the swim and bike the previous week was replaced by the reality of running a marathon, in heat, after the bike and swim. That is going to be hard. But at least there’ll be aid stations and the possibility of cooling.

Back at the car the others were mostly packed up and leaving. I filled my bottle with cool water and drank it, then filled it again and headed out toward Windsor to get in the last couple of miles. That went pretty well, considering, but by the time I got back it was mid-90 degrees and it was all I could do to slump onto some shaded grass and drink water.

The final result: 18 miles, 2hrs 51min, 9:32min/mile pace. Fully baked.


Sunday Patty and I went for a coffee ride. A coffee ride is defined as a ride where one rides to a coffee shop, orders and consumes coffee and possibly baked goods, and then rides home.

Our coffee ride was in fact 4 hours long and covered 60 miles. But the spirit was the same. Ride easy. Chat with Patty. Afore mentioned coffee stop.

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Training – Vineman – 6/25 to 7/1

July 4th, 2012 No comments

Huge training week for me. Over 16 hours. As a result it’s getting hard to keep up with the blogging so I’ll try to keep it brief. The week was highlighted by Vineman training day hosted by TriMore Fitness up on the course. Overall though my body is holding up really well. I’m feeling tired heading into each workout but they quickly come round. Of all the activities I’m starting to dread the pool, but otherwise I’m enjoying it. The biking has improved a lot in the past couple of months so I’m enjoying being able to climb again as well as ride a lot faster in general. And running too has improved too even though it really hasn’t been a focus. The worst part is that other parts of my life are clearly on hold.


Easy one hour run in Redwood park to get things kicked off. As I didn’t do anything the day before because we were driving back from Boise, I was up for a run instead of a rest day. I’ve rearranged my mid-week schedule a little to run Monday and Wednesday while biking and swimming on Tuesday and Thursday.


20 miles – 2300ft gain(1hr 51min)

Since Patty is now off work we have more flexibility to ride and run together. There’s also more general chaos with schedules so it’s a mixed blessing. So Tuesday morning we rode up the hill from our house again. That takes us into the East Bay hills within minutes and within 20 minutes we’re cruising up redwood tree filled canyons. From the top, Skyline, you drop down over the back of the hills between Redwood Park and Chabot on Redwood Road, then climb the little Pinehurst hill which is one of my favorite little climbs and then a windy descent down to Canyon Rd. From there you have the option to continue up Pinehurst to Skyline or reverse course and head back the way you came. Since the Pinehurst climb is pretty steep at the top I’ve lately taken the more conservative route and reversed course back up the more gentle grade of Redwood Road instead.

Here’s a view from the top of Skyline looking west across the bay:

2,500yds (52 min)

Tuesday evening I headed to the pool across from my work for the first time since ‘the confrontation’. Fortunately the guy wasn’t there so I checked in and did my thing. Hardly anyone was there for the first 1/2 hour, but it filled up steadily. The main set was 2x600s, which went well although I lost count and swam too far on the first one. The second one was better, around 1:49 per 100yds pace.


Trail Run
5.7 miles (1hr 12min)

Out and back fairly late on Wednesday night. In fact the sun has set by the time we got back to the car. Classic mid-summer training run though being out looking out over the sun setting on Mt Diablo while running though the redwoods on a warm summers night. It was a run of animals too: we passed three herds of goats which the East Bay Regional Parks uses to clear the brush for fire control. We’re talking hundreds of goats crunching and chewing their way through the forest. We also saw a deer and a skunk.


2500 yards (55 minutes)

Mainset: 6×75; 6×125. The 75s came in high 1:30s, the 125s in the low 1:40s. I did use a pool buoy though. I spent a lot of time practicing my sighting and think it’s getting a lot better. I still can’t bi-lateral breath as well as one sided breathing, but its certainly got better this spring.

Here’s a picture of the pool were I swim almost aways. It’s a former army pool, which kind of cool. Also, for the most part, its possible to join a lane that it moving along. They separate the recreational swimming so by the time you hit the medium lane people are usually moving along well but you’re not being run down by olympic swimmers either.

Biking class
1 hour

First 15min: 5 min at 80%, 5 min at 85%, 5 min at 90% watts (approx. 195, 210, 220)
Second 15min: 4min base, 1 min 90%; 3 min base, 2 min 90%; 2 min base, 3 min 90% (base being about 190 watts)
Finally 5x1min rising effort on 1 min RI.

No M2 teaching, and hardly anymore there. Always a bit of lack of energy when that’s the case. Oh well, this was a good hard set of sustained pushes of effort. Nicely suited to goals.

Saturday Big Training Day

On Saturday I drove up to Guerneville to use the TriMore Fitness Vineman preview day as a basis for a big training day. I’ve wanted to get in the water there before race day and get a sense of sighting so this was good way to do that. Plus then we got to ride around the course at a solid pace and then afterwards go for a little run.

Part I – Swimming
1.2 miles (open water) approx 39 min.

Here’s what it looked like, though I think this is from last year:

(Image from TriMore Fitness website)

First off we did some open water starts to get the feel for starting from deep water and also of swimming next to other people. I shuddered when we found out we’d be doing these, because I know what open water starts are like and nobody will ever make me like it. However, this actually went well. After we did 4 or them I was feeling more comfortable with it so I guess it helped. It was interesting to see how much out of breath you can get just from starting like that. I need to double my efforts to not go hard at the beginning because the excitement and stress will jump my HR on top of just starting to swim in open water is a lot harder than pushing off a wall.

Then came our swim. We deep water started again and hard 45 minutes in the water. I was dubious I’d make it to the turn around and back in 45 minutes as my Boise 1.2 mile swim was 49 minutes. But that was one of the worst swims I’ve ever had. Anyway, off we went, sighting the bridge support and keeping close to the sides where it is shallower. By shallow I mean really shallow. At points my hand was hitting the bottom and I had to modify my stroke a little to skim along above it. At least I was keeping my elbows up! I kind of liked seeing the bottom for a large part of the course though, it gave a sense of movement and kept me from feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Sighting also went really well. My practice is paying off. The first part is pretty easy because there’s a big bridge to aim for. After that it went well too though we were aiming for the guy running the training day on a stand up paddle board, so he was obviously harder to sight on than a big orange buoy. But once we were close enough I sighted on him and swam around him almost like I knew what I was doing.

Then trip back went much faster. It seemed like there’s actually some current so that was part of it. But also I think it just helps to be able to see where you have to swim too rather than wondering every stroke “where is the turn around, shouldn’t we be getting close”.

Anyway, this went so well I’m actually sort of looking forward to my race’s swim now. The water is nice to swim in, it’s beautiful in there, and I feel strong and ready. I know the second lap will be long, but I feel a lot more confident now and hope to bring it in under 1hr 30. Just hope it stays wetsuit legal!

Part II – Biking
83 miles (5 hours)

We all got changed and headed back to the T1 parking lot for bike course instructions. Nothing too special here since I’ve ridden most of the course a dozen times. The main piece of advice was to run your bike to the top of the hill and then head out. So we all did that. I figured people would go out fast, so I let almost everyone go ahead of me and then settled into a comfortable pace.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful. I was averaging around 17 miles/hr, then up near 18 by the time we got to chalk hill, but my HR was a touch high (low 160s rather than mid-150s) so I think that pace was probably a little fast for 112 miles. It was also warm up there — 80s — so that certainly played a part. Or perhaps the swim set it up to be higher. Something to think about anyway.

Around Santa Rosa a bunch of us got a little off the course and ended up riding down to Mark West and then back up to the course. That was okay with me because I got to chat to some people and I wanted to add distance anyway.

At Windsor High School a bunch of people bailed out of the ride and wouldn’t go on. I felt pretty good and set off around the high school looking for water. Eventually I found some (I ended up drink 7 bottles in 5 hours). A guy in a tri more fitness top, a woman and I headed back towards Guerneville. We were keeping it pretty mellow but the TriMore guy was toasted and eventually pulled over and told us to go on.

Once back on River Rd we ran into some more people in the ride so I headed off ahead of them because I still wanted to work hard for another 45 minutes or more. I passed a lot of people and then continued on past Guerneville to Monte Rio and then turned back to make about 5 hours. On the way back there were some people out for their run, but not too many cars left from our ride.

Part III – Running
3.2 miles (30 min)

I got back to the car and felt pretty good. Loaded up the car with my bike, put on my running shoes and a hat, swigged the rest of a bike bottle and then headed out of town on Bell Canyon. My legs felt sluggish for a bit, but only about 5 minutes in reality. After that they really didn’t feel like they had 80+ miles on them at all. First mile clocked in under 9mins, so I was running okay. I decided to keep to my walk run and walked at 10min and 20min marks for a minute each. The run up there was beautiful and a perfect end to the day.

I changed out of my sweat soaked stuff in the car and then drove home, stopping for a coke and icecream before hitting the freeway. Stick a fork in me. Anyway, the day was definitely worth it because I’m starting to think I can do this thing. Thanks to TriMore Fitness!!


So much for keeping this week’s report short. Finally we come to Sunday’s long run.

3 hours (14 miles)

Patty and I headed to Lake Chabot and put in about 14 miles on the trails there. We took it super easy as I didn’t want any problems and Patty wasn’t moving too fast. It had also started badly when Patty fell on a dirt road and grazed her knee and injured her hand. More fun though was that we stopped at a Bald Eagle viewing area and managed to spot one of the adults flying back to the nest, so that was pretty much the highlight of the run. Not too often you get to see them in the Bay Area, in fact this was my first time.

The final 1.5 miles is uphill so I put in the best effort I could here, figuring that 9 hours into the weekend that was good training. Otherwise we were just out enjoying the day.


Bike: 123 miles (8 hours 7 min)
Run: 28.5 miles (5 hours 41 min)
Swim: 7200 yards (2 hours 27 min)
Total: 16 hours 15 min.

Ashland, Bend and Boise Training – Week 24

July 2nd, 2012 No comments

For training week 24 we headed out of town. Kelly was off school, Patty done with work, and I was.. well I could take some vacation time. The condition of getting away was that it was some place where I could keep up with my training. In the end I got in a three bike rides, a long and short run, and swam twice. It wasn’t the biggest week but it served to maintain some fitness as well as a way to explore the places we were visiting.

Above is our river rafting in Bend. It was just a couple of hours and really didn’t count as any kind of training as you mostly float down the river. I was imagining hours of paddling and arms I couldn’t lift the next day. Apparently rafting is often not that way. Long periods of floating. Moments of excitement. Still, it was fun.


Both Sunday and Monday we were driving most of the day, so no workout except for some swimming in the hotel pools.


About 2000m

First order of business was to try and get a pool swim in, so I headed to the Bend Aquatic Center. Finding new pools is tricky in that you run a serious risk of never finding your way out of the locker room. But things in Bend turned out okay. I managed to find the changing room, navigate my way to the pool outside that had lap swimming. Find an appropriate lane. Not offend any local etiquette that I know of. And then reverse the process. Most of the venue was taken up with kids of all ages doing swim camps or lessons.

I took the above picture before I left. This pool is their outdoor 50m pool that’s divided in half. Apparently they have long course swimming on the weekend which would have been interesting. Anyway, this was fine. There seemed to be another pool outside as well as one inside that was swarming with kids.

It was hard to settle in to much of a routine but eventually pulled off some drills and something like 6x200m on 30sec rest.

13 miles (~1 hour)

For a bike ride I left the hotel at 5pm and headed up towards the Awbrey Butte, which seemed like a good hill on the map. I rode up Mt Washington Dr and back on Shevlin Park Rd, crossing back over on Awbrey and then looping through the higher area of residential houses and then back down to the river. Hard to describe, but kind of loopy loop on a hill with houses on it. Up high you looked over snow capped mountains to the west and Bend to the east. A nice area to ride in for sure.

To get back I tried to go along the river trail which was ultimately successful but turned out to be a dirt path not exactly suited to my tri bike. Seems to becoming a feature of my bike rides the past few weeks. The river was fantastic through and the whole thing was a pretty good workout as I had some built up energy and hit the hills as hard as I could.


4.8 miles (50 min)

I got up in the morning and headed back to the river trail for a pretty easy jog. It turned out I could cross the street from the hotel, circle around behind the Burger King, and get onto the river trail there. Anyway, Bend has the nicest river for running along. It feels wild and kind of alpine, like it was running through Truckee or something.


15.1 miles (54 min)

Thursday started with an early morning ride out from the hotel to Lucky Peak, scene of the start of the Boise 70.3 HIM race. And back. I had a few flashbacks of jumping in there last year and deciding never to do a race with water that cold again (low 50s). It was horrible. Anyway, apparently this year it was much better but it still looked cold and up on the dam the wind was blowing and the water had white caps.

About 1/2 mile (20 min)

In the evening I took my wetsuit down to the Boise Veterans Pond since there was a tri course practice swim for the Race to the Capitol event that Saturday. Dozens of triathletes turned up and swam the Olympic course. It was really helpful to have some place to swim where I could practice my sighting on a somewhat distance object like a buoy. It was kind of like when I went skiing and it took getting on a real ski run to figure it out. No more bunny slopes! I made it around the course in about 15 minutes and felt pretty happy with the way I felt in the water. My only regret was not going for at least another loop but I was hungry and felt like I’d got what I needed from turning up.


13.5 miles (2hr 15 min)

Friday morning I headed out for my long run, running from the hotel down through some neighborhoods and then along the greenway all the way to the Veterans Pond then back into town. By the time I was running back it was hot and humid and arriving at the car I collapsed on the grass for a while covered in sweat. My daughter then promptly jumped on top of me.

The good thing about this run was that it gave me some solid miles on mostly flat pavement, which is completely the opposite to my training on hilly trails. There’s a difficulty to running flat for a long period of time. After a couple of hours my hip flexers really wanted to give up and my legs were swelling. Overall I really enjoyed this run as running along the greenway brings back memories and its fun to look out on the rushing water and see all the people out enjoying the trail.

For pace I was running around 10min/miles including a walk break every 10min to simulate aid stations in my race. That felt pretty mellow but I wanted to keep it easy.


55 miles (3hr 25 min)

And finally Saturday. With my long run on my legs I headed over to the Iceworld across the freeway for what I thought would be a group ride with the Boise Aeros tri club that I’d read about on their discussion board. I was a little nervous about how many people would be there and if it would be okay for me to join in. Turns out I had no reason to worry, there was only two people there, Deirdre and Jim and they seemed completely happy to have me join them. Maybe it’s always something like that, or perhaps with IMCDA that weekend and the Race to the Capitol locally, and Boise 70.3 just a couple of weeks earlier there was just a lot fewer takers.

We set off along the Boise 70.3 course, out along the airport and on the more or less flat roads. My legs felt tired from the run the day before so I took my position behind them. They looked fit and I had no idea if I was going to be able to hang on to their pace. On the flats at least that was probably the best place to be as I’m not really used to riding that fast as riding around here has a lot more climbing and descending, you always know there’s a break coming. Riding relentlessly fast is a skill in itself. For the first hour it was all I could do not to be blown off the back as they rarely dipped under 20 miles/hr, averaging 19.7miles/hr (Avg HR 156 — nicely in my zone). Still, my legs warmed up and it got easier as we went.

The second hour saw us climb about a 1000ft, but rather gradually, at least at first. Here the pace slowed (about 16.5 miles/hr. Avg HR 159) and it was easy to ride with them and even chat a little. As it got steeper they fell away behind me. Ah hills. I stopped at the top of the main hill and refilled my aero bottle while they came up, then we descended down to the turn around where the road turned to dirt. I hit 42 miles an hour down a hill in there tough I don’t specifically remember it. It seemed like we were going pretty fast whenever there was a chance.

From there we headed back, climbing back up the short hill that produced the 42 miles/hr and then descending all the way down to the freeway. We turned onto the freeway itself which was fast downhill so I never felt unsafe. At our exit I said my goodbyes and headed back to the hotel. It was only a three hour ride when really I should have put in another hour, I had other things to do on our last day in Boise so I decided to call it a workout and move on. Although I cut it short I had a great time riding out there with other triathletes and it was probably good training for me as it was a different kind of riding. Funny how I have to go to Boise to feel part of the community. Anyway, what a great fun outing Thanks guys!


Bike: 83 miles (5hrs 25min)
Run: 18 miles (3hrs 8min)
Swim: about 1.7 miles (1hr 6min)

Total: 9hrs 40min.

Training – Vineman – Week 23

June 26th, 2012 No comments

A quick update for week 23.

This week saw a bit of a compressed schedule since we were leaving for Oregon and Idaho on Sunday. As such we ran on Friday night and rode on Saturday. Saturday’s ride was our first attempt at riding in Marin and turned into a lot of elevation gain and ended with 103 degrees in Fairfax by the time we got back to the car. The initial climbing was kind of fun, but once the temperature soared it was pretty much the definition of a hell ride. Somewhere near the end we pulled over for ice cream before heading back the fastest route possible.

On the plus side I managed a ride around the Pinehurst loop Monday morning, making three rides for the week. I really wish I’d been riding more in the past couple of months so I probably should have added in this ride earlier. Anyway, it felt great to get out in the redwoods in the early morning and do some climbing. Kind of made me want to sleep all day though.

For swimming it was kind of a regression in terms of volume. I had an argument with the pools front desk after they scheduled up the lanes for private lessons resulting in a bunch of us simply having to leave. I never returned, so I missed a whole swim. Oh well. Also, there was no chance for any open water swimming. So just one swim for the week: 2500 yards.

Anyway, here’s a few more photos of the ride before it got hot:

Alpine Lake

Alpine Lake

Training – Vineman – Week 22

June 13th, 2012 No comments


Pool 6500yds, Open water ~800yds (2hr 33min)


My biggest swim, and likely my biggest swim until my race. 4000 yards straight. That’s 160 lengths of the pool. Even my watch can’t record that many laps. Life guards changes shift. The swim team came and went. Babies were born… Anyway, I was pretty excited after this swim which is just a little short of an Ironman swim (about 4 laps short), I maintained about a 1:55 pace the whole way and finished it in 1 hr 17 min. Just tried to maintain a steady easy pace. The swim didn’t seem much different from shorter swims in that it just seemed longer but I didn’t fall apart or hit some kind of magical wall. The big difference was I felt more tired the rest of the day.


Back to the grind. The main set was (100 + 150)x5 on 20sec RI. I think that means to go back and forth between 100yd and 150yds 5 times. Unfortunately my 100yard pace and 150 yards pace look a lot like each other. All of them were around 1:45-1:47. I should be pushing the 100s a little harder.


Sunday I dug out the wetsuit. Ah, the smell of wetsuit. Takes me back to the dock at Boise last year. Speaking of Boise, that sounds like quite the disaster this year. I almost packed up my stuff and drove out there Thursday to give it a go, but glad I didn’t now. I’d only have done that for the bike ride which was apparently shortened to 12 miles. Anyway…

We headed over to Lake Temescal to shake out some open water cobwebs. After the excitement of putting in the 4000 yard swim days earlier I was quickly returned to earth by trying to swim in the lake. It was hard to breath right, my balance in the water was all over the place, it was hard to sight, it was hard to go in a straight line. But as I progressed back and forth in the roped off area it got better. Now I need to do this every week because this is a huge limiter. I’m now confident I can swim the distance in the pool, at plenty fast enough pace, but doing so in open water is going to be a lot rougher.


103 miles (8hrs)

Two rides this week, one in class and one out on the road.


Bike class this week went pretty well after a couple of weeks of feeling rough. That probably relates to blowing off the track workout the previous night as opposed to the previous two weeks. Apparently track and M2 don’t mix. Anyway, the workout was something like this:

4 min @ 90% watts, so figuring out a nice tempo pace.
Feels a little hard. Ok, we’re done. It’s not going to get harder than that right.

4 min (2 min @ 90% watts, 2 min @ 100% watts) back to the tempo pace for 2 min, then ramping it up to 100% (of CP10). For me that’s around 245 watts now. Legs are starting to get into it. Not bad. Can we have another fan over here?

4 min (1 min @ 90%, 1 min 110%, 1 min 90%, 1 min 110%) alternating back and forth above and below CP10. Starting to fade a little. Unable to calculate 110% of 245watts. Just went with high 200s. All over the place. Oh well, at least it’s a workout.

5 min (1min @ 90%, 1min 10 watts higher, 1 min another 10 higher, 1 min another 10 higher, 30 sec later another 10 higher) not even sure this is right, I may have blanked out during this a bit. Unable to really pop for the last 30 seconds, content with low 300s.

Could walk down the stairs afterwards. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

Long Ride – 6 hours

Long ride for the week, 82 miles of windy heat, up what I’ve now decided is the Death Valley of the Bay Area: Mines Rd. We headed out from Danville to get the right distance in, hoping to turn around at the County line. Right away I knew my legs weren’t feeling it, but we continued on. It seemed like there was a head wind in every direction and we’d obviously angered the Gods because besides the wind we were presented with every red light the whole way up Tassajara. Not only that, something seemed wrong. The usual people weren’t out riding. Where were the team riders? Everyone was looking at us strangely. The same red VW bettle kept coming round the corner….

This training is making me a little crazy. Like Andy Schleck crazy.

Mines Road itself went okay, this time. Dead snakes. Lizards. Hot wind. Climbing. Vultures circling us. More climbing. The usual. At a certain point Patty was over it so she turned around while I went another 5 miles up the road. A little ways up a couple of guys came by and I latched onto the back of them. We did like 20 miles/hr all the way up. I could see that riding with stronger riders would probably be good for me. Soon though I was a mile past where I was going to turn around and no County Line so I made the turn anyway and headed back down.

Patty was waiting for me at the bottom of Mines Rd. We headed into Livermore which was extra land-of-the-mutants today. Plus the rodeo was in town so more pickup trucks to go round. We had a cup of coffee at Peets and some coffee cake and then headed out of there before the people made us hate people for ever. Really, your dog does not have to drink from the actual water fountain. Oh look your kids have sticks and have found the dog poop that the other crazy lady pretended she didn’t see happen. How adorable your children are!

Crazy. Andy Schleck crazy.

Anyway, we returned via Collier Canyon which was like a big gusty head wind, like everywhere else. No records set today. Survival. It was all about Survival.

The cows understand me…


15 miles (2hrs 55min)

The afore mentioned blown off track workout

Met Patty and we headed to the track with ideas of another awesome track workout. But right away I felt tired from the 4000 yard swim in the morning and, more worrying, my left knee was bothering me. The bike ride to Sunol with all its climbing was obviously still having a serious effect and more recovery was needed.

We sat around hoping our gopher friend would reappear. He didn’t. We watched the master swimming from the fence for a while. That looked tiring. It was clear we didn’t want to do it. Instead I walked for a while and then did some stretching while Patty jogged slow laps. Finally I ran about 15 minutes with her around the campus and called it an evening.

Hill run

Knee much better so we headed up Strawberry Canyon. Nice run. About 3.5 miles round trip but rising 700ft or so. We didn’t extend the loop, just got to The Hill and turned around.

Long Run – 2 hours

And finally, Sunday afternoon Kelly took off down to her grandparents, sick of us most likely, so we headed up to Redwood Park to do our long run. The weather was hot, in the low 80s, but at least it wasn’t windy anymore. Neither of us felt like running too many hills, so we ran up and back on the steam trail for 2 hours under the shade of the redwood trees.

So that’s it. Another 12 hour week. Some victory, some concern. Lots of craziness.

Training – Vineman – Week 21

June 4th, 2012 No comments


1hr 51min (5050 yards)

In the last couple of weeks I’ve moved onto my final set of swims. They are still 2500 yards each, except there’s a few 3500 yard swims thrown in there before the race. I’m guessing I should be swimming more, but really an hour before work twice a week is as good as I can do right now such is my love for swimming.

Tuesday’s swim was 6×75 and 6×125 for a main set. 75 yards were in high 1:30s and low 1:40s. 125s were in mid-1:40s. For drills I’ve converged on practice at sighting, swimming 3-5-7 and bi-laterial swimming. It’s done wonders for my breath control. For my stroke I’ve mostly given up for now. I still swim faster with a pull buoy so there’s obviously plenty of work to be done there, but right now I need endurance and just lots of freestyle.

Thursday’s swim actually happened on Friday because nobody wanted to get up and swim on Thursday. That nobody being me. The main set was 2×600 pull. Yes, my workout was supposed to use a pull buoy, so I was all set. The pool dynamic was all different with Masters swimmers all over the lanes, but I settled into the fast lane for most of the swim. For some reason the first 600 didn’t feel so good and was disrupted a couple of times by people entering and leaving the lane. The second went much better: 1:47 pace. If I could only swim that fast in open water!

Anyway, I’ve yet to do a 3500 yard swim, that will be tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes. Signs are good though, the 2500 yard swims are now going well and I’m not anywhere near as tired at the end of them as I used to be.


6hrs 47min (90 miles)

I’m starting to see my bike really coming around, though still another bike ride each week would probably help. As it is I’m still doing one power session and one long bike a week.

M2 Class

Wednesday’s M2 class was pretty good, it went something like this:

4 x 3 min @ 95% watts (about 215 watts) on 2 min RI
4 x 2 min @ 100% watts (about 240 watts) on 1 min RI
4 x 1 min @ 110+% watts on 30 sec RI (around 265 watts)
4 x 30 sec on 30 sec RI (around 300 watts)

That’s 12 mins at 95% of 10min critical power followed by 12 broken minutes at 100% and over 10min critical power. Unsurprisingly, by the 30 sec intervals I didn’t really have much pop left so I did what I could. Legs smashed.

Long bike: 69 miles, 5hr 42min moving time, 6000ft climbing

Saturday we headed out from our house to Sunol in an almost 70 mile loop: over the East Bay hills, down Redwood Rd in some seriously thick fog, out through Castro Valley, along the Dublin grade and foot hill to Niles Canyon and then back via Palomares Rd climb and Redwood Rd again. It took us forever. Out along Foothill the fog cleared and it was warm for the rest of the ride.

The Palomares climb is about a 1000ft, so not too bad. Only the first 1/4 has any real gradient on it, so the climbing went better than I expected. It’s a beautiful ride though. Highly recommended.

By the time we got back we’d put in more than 6000ft of climbing and were both pretty tired. That’s a lot more climbing than we usually do. Next week I think we’ll do something flatter and longer. I have scheduled rides of 5hrs or more until I taper, so lots of miles to put down.


3hrs 26min (19 miles)

Three runs this week, a track workout, a hill run and a long run.

Track – 3x1200m on 400m RI

We’ve been trying to increase our track work a little by doing some longer repeats. The hope here is to combat some of the slow legs speed I’ve perfected by trail running so much. We always find track work the most stressful thing we can do (as far as recovering from it, or its ability to injure us) so hopefully this move won’t end in disaster. Both last week and this week we’ve done a mile warmup and then 3×1200 yards with a 400 yard recovery interval that we half walk and half jog. This weeks splits were around 7:30 pace for the 1200s.

Hill Run – 3.5m

After I missed my Thursday swim I was even less excited about doing a run oddly enough. Still we ran up Strawberry Canyon, skipped The Hill at the top and turned around and jogged back down for a easy 3.5 mile run.

Long Run – 11 miles / 2hrs 5min.

We finally made it to our long run for the week by Sunday evening, heading out to Lake Chabot to run out and back from Bort Meadows towards the Marina. For the middle 1/2hr Patty decided to do some walking as she was suffering from the ride, while I ran the paved part of the Lake to just short of the marina and back. It was nice to do some faster running in the middle of this trail run. My running is definitely coming around, even in tired legs from the long bike ride the day before, so hopefully some kind of run off the bike at Vineman is on the cards. We’ll see.


12 hours.

Training – Vineman – Week 20

May 28th, 2012 No comments

Some photos from week 20:

Running on the East Ridge trail in Redwood Regional Park in Oakland:

Relaxing in Santa Rosa:


Bike: 5hrs 25min (84.2 mi )
Run: 2hrs 30min (13.1 mi)
Swim: 2 hrs (5400 yards)

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