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From the Blog

Nov
06
Posted by admin at 10:59 pm

Ironman, a triathlon consisting of a 2.4 mile open water swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. 140.6 miles of mental and physical determination to complete a 140.6 mile course.

Ironman Logo

My Ironman story actually starts over a year ago. However to quickly sum things up, I got into triathlon by participating in the Montoya BFAST sprint triathlon at Mickler’s Beach in Ponte Vedra Beach, then an Olympic triathlon in Marineland. These two races were but a tiny taste and got me to think about training for the Ironman. I sought advice from a friend, Sara Dipaolo, an Ironman in her own right and she gave me a 3 month training program to get ready for the undertaking of the Longhorn Ironman 70.3 in Austin, TX.

Ironman Austin 70.3

This event gave me the inspiration to continue to reach for this Ironman goal, another taste. Ironically the Ford Ironman World Championship was the following week, another taste. Two weeks later and it was Ironman Florida 2010. I drove out to Panama City Beach to volunteer for 8 hours racking bikes, checking gear, and getting the belongings back to the athletes as they claimed it. I was stationed at the transition point, yards from the finish line and was able to hear the finishers complete there day of glory, agony, joy, choose your emotion. Each athlete crossing and hearing their name announced, along with, “You are an Ironman!” That night I lost my voice from yelling out numbers and cheering the athletes on. This night was more than a taste. It was a full serving of inspiration and anticipation.

 

The next morning, volunteer shirt on, I made my way to the volunteer registration line for Ironman 2011. While in line I met two people who I now call friends, Leann and Jessica. Both from Jacksonville we talked about the race the day before and how amazing it was. After making our way through the line to the registration tent we signed up, took pictures and walked out of that tent with a year long commitment to train and prepare as best we could for our day, November 5th, 2011.

Ironman Florida Registration

Over the next 12 months, I took part in the St. Anthony’s Olympic Triathlon in Clearwater, one of the world’s best olympic distance courses that draws the best athletes in the world.

St Anthony's Triathlon finishers medal

I also did a sprint triathlon as well as the Hammerhead Olympic Triathlon, and as the acronym for that race implies, it was H.O.T. I also had the opportunity to run for a charity, Run for the Fallen, Maine in the Boston Marathon, one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

Boston Marathon Start Line

I had been training for all of these events for the first half of the year, which gets us to about 6 months prior to November 5th, This is when the more intense training began. Weekend rides increasing by 10 miles about every 4 weeks starting at 40 miles, then 50 and so on until early October, the 105 mile ride to Daytona in the MS 150 and then a 65 mile ride the day back, in brutal headwinds, was the longest of my long weekend rides. The following two weekends were made up of 50 and 70 mile rides followed by 5 and 7 mile runs respectively. A big thanks goes out to my friend Lisa for being an awesome training partner on those long days.

 

Swimming improved each week as well as I began consistently swimming 8:30 – 9 minute 500 repeats. I also swam in the Hammerhead Ocean Marathon, a 2.5 mile swim in uncertain currents and no wetsuit for a time of 1 hour 35 minutes. Speaking of the Hammerheads, the Jacksonville Triathlon Club, I joined back in April and have enjoyed the community of enthusiastic and friendly camaraderie.

 

My running was the most challenging aspect of my training. All year I had been dealing with the gray area of training and injury prevention. The stabbing pain in my right foot had been looming on the edges of my longer runs and whenever I felt it creeping in I had to stop short on runs to avoid further damage. I decided to hang up the running shoes completely for about a month and focus completely on biking and swimming and relying on my cross country days to get me through some of the more mental aspects of long distances. About 2 months out I started short distances  of 3-4 miles of running and built up to a solid 7 miles consistently and figured I would leave the longest day for race day.

 

Which brings us to the week of the race, never before did it feel so good to train as little as possible. Tapering a workout regimen is a good feeling, which also gave me the time I needed to construct my award winning halloween costume, Edward Scissorhands!

 

Edward Scissorhands

I left for Panama City Beach on Thursday at 6 a.m. and arrived at my condo at about 11 a.m. I made my way to registration and picked up my race packet, headed back to my room and put numbers on my bike, and helmet, set up my transition bags with their run and bike gear, double checked everything to make sure all was accounted for, then took a nap!

 

Bike and gear

That night was the welcome banquet where we ate well, heard inspiring stories, and basically were just getting pumped up to do this thing. After the banquet it was an early night and I was in bed by 9 to get as much rest as possible.

 

The next day was gear and bike check in. The stage set. Later that evening I picked up my Mom from the airport and we headed to a pre-reace dinner with the rest of the Hammerheads, took pictures and had a wonderful night of getting to know each other a little better and having all of our spectators get better acquainted. Final countdown 12 hours till race start.

Hammerheads!

The next morning started for me at 4:15 a.m. I had a 350 calorie bottle of ensure for breakfast to prime the engine, and took some quiet time in the still of the early morning, said a few prayers, and listened to the sound of a pristine gulf with gentle waves lapping the dark beach. I woke mom up at about 4:45 and we were out the door by 5. We drove to the parking lot and got in line for the shuttle, only to realize in my quiet time I had totally forgotten my bottles filled with nutrition! Fortunately i had plenty of time and drove back to the condo, grabbed them out of the fridge and then headed back to the shuttle, whoops! So now we are on the shuttle making our way to transition. Walking down the dirt sidewalk (the sidewalk was under construction) generators powering blinding lights where everyone looks like a silhouette, I made my way to the body marking station and had my number drawn on in big black sharpie, 1060. Next stop, put the bottles on the bike, make sure they’re secure, double check tires to make sure they are inflated solid and all that’s left to do is put on my wetsuit and get ready to swim.

 

Putting on the wetsuit

While on the flight down, my Mom had the pleasure to meet a woman named Kate whose husband was in the race as well. They happened to be staying at the host hotel and allowed me to use their room to take care of last minute needs and get into my wetsuit. I was all set and ready, heading down to the sand. Start of the race, 20 minutes. As I was standing there with the rest of the hammerheads I reached for my swim cap, it was gone! I had tucked it into the little pocket in the back of my shirt, but it simply was gone, I ran back up to the room against the mass of wetsuited humanity and it was just gone. Pre race jitters suck and this amplified them 10 fold. Without a cap you can’t swim and I had a mini freakout moment but then found my way back to the beach and asked one of the more experienced triathletes what I should do and she said they should have extras by the start, they did, my race was not ruined and my day was about to begin, thank you Susan! I went back to the spot on the beach and found my Mom, she gave me a hug and said good luck, and that was probably one of the most emotional moments of the day.

Every moment of the last 12 months in preparation for this one vanished. In a way it all mattered, but in another way it didn’t. For the next 13 hours and 10 minutes whatever was going to happen would happen and I knew I was prepared and ready as I could be. Once I swallowed the knot in my throat and sucked back the excessive moisture in my eyes I headed through the arch of the swim start. The national anthem was sung, applause was given on “…brave!” and we had 2 minutes to go till the canon sounded. My feet in the wet sand as the small waves lapped up the shore, closed my eyes took a few deep breaths, secured the goggles, checked the swim cap, 10 seconds, hands on hips, waiting, 3, 2, 1, BOOM!

Swim Start

Athletes entered the water by the hundreds, hundreds became thousands. Athletes 100 yards across and soon to be stretched out over a half mile long. The water is a frenzy with feet, elbows, swimmers left, right, in front, behind, and sometimes on top of me. I do my best to maintain a rhythm, but inevitably you bump into everyone around you because all you see around you are bubbles and the occasional foot. Looking for some clean water I try to get into my rhythm again only for it to close up around me again, oh look a moon jellyfish, and another, and whoa crap, that one was right in front of my face! Yes there were lots of jellyfish out there, but not too bad. For the most part they were at least 5 feet down, but occasionally you would get a close up view where you could practically count the tentacles! I actually did hit one with my right forearm, but fortunately I think I hit the bell (the top) and just the edges of the tentacles got me on the sides of my arm, no biggie, hey it’s an Ironman :)

 

My first lap of the swim felt good, my second lap felt great. The second time around the buoys the field had thinned out and there was a lot more room to find my rhythm. The clear Gulf waters and the comfortably cool temperatures were really enjoyable.

 

Starting my second loop, I'm in the mid-ground, second from the left.

After the swim it was up the beach to the wetsuit strippers, lay on my back they pull it off in about 2 seconds and then they help you up and you are on your way into transition to pick up your bike bag. I run about 100 yards across the parking lot into the hotel ballroom where there is a changing area. In this space about the size of a volleyball court are about 300 athletes changing. Think about it, 300 athletes, their wetsuits, and bags of bike gear in that space, now, change into the bike gear. There was nowhere to change until I found a space big enough for me to plop down and sit while I put on my compression sleeves, socks, arm sleeves, helmet, sunglasses, shoes and bike jersey. Not my most earth shattering transition time, however the extra sleeves where a much needed part of my ride to keep warm on the chilly, windy day. Out the door and I clip clop my way across the parking lot to find my bike racked and ready to go, roll it to the bike out arch and with about another fifty yards of negotiating the other athletes, I hop on and roll out and begin the 112 mile ride.

 

Making my way through transition 1 after the swim, I'm at bottom center

The first 10 miles of the ride are very chilly riding through the shadows of towering condos until I can make the turn north on 79. At this point however I’m riding into a headwind that is keeping my top speed to around 17.5 to 18 mph. Not bad at all. Next challenge was the West Bay bridge at a height of 121 feet, much like the bridges in the Jacksonville area I am used to and then continuing on north to 20, take a right turn and then east, more headwinds. This whole time I am managing my hydration and nutrition by squeezing a concentrated mixture of Perpetuem(endurance type of formula, like supercharged Gatorade) into my aerobottle and then filling up the rest of the way with water handed out on the course. It is not the most pleasant tasting stuff, but it gets the job done. (Sidenote, I look forward to getting through my current supply and trying something new!) I also was consuming an energy gel about every 15 miles. Continuing on 20 east takes me to a south turn on 77, FINALLY HEADING SOUTH! Glorious tailwinds got me in the 23-24 mph range and I was flying it seemed compared to the first 40 miles or so. All to be slowed down again with a turn to the northeast directly into the headwind. Grueling at times, however,occasionally the wins would ease up. This brings me to the most unpleasant portion of the ride, about 8 miles, what seemed like 20, of a bumpy out and back leg on Bennett road. This was a bone jarring stretch seemingly testing the quality of my bike. The road was littered with tubes, bottles, CO2 cartridges and many other random pieces of bike gear. At the end of the stretch there was a timing pad as well as my special needs bag which had some ibuprofen, a peanut and butter jelly bagel, and some fruit snacks. I took a couple of minutes to enjoy my snack, take it all in and think, “Holy crap! I’m doing an Ironman!”

 

Then it was back into the saddle for the second half of the ride. Fortunately the winds were coming from the back and I was flying back down Bennett road at about 24 mph, the bone shaking bumps did not seem as bad this way which was a relief. North turn onto 2301 with some swift downhills followed by tough climbs all the way back to 20 where the tailwinds and a mile long downhill awaited me and I was cruising at about 30 mph. This was the next intense Ironman moment, not sure if it was just the wind or my emotions but the exhilaration of high speeds and feeling the benefits of so many months of training coming into such sharp focus, the feeling that I was more than halfway through this ride, the feeling of being part of this experience all caught up to me and carried me through as those tailwinds pushed me faster and faster, the feeling that anyone seeing me going by knowing that they would be thinking, “Damn! That dude is flying!” was one of the apex moments of the day. It seems silly at first, just a short little strip of road, one like I’ve ridden before, but there was such depth to that moment, I hope I have conveyed it well enough, if not, let’s just say it was a special part of the ride. Moving on, I still had a long way to go till I got back to the south turn on 79, so I was mixing up that stretch with some stand up pedaling to give my butt a rest and it was the best time to do it since aerodynamically speaking, the wind was at my back for the next 20 miles until eventually I did make it to that south turn, where again, the tailwinds were with me, a little from the left but still giving a push. Then right before the bridge another short out and back and then up and over the bridge down to the final stretch that would take me out to the beaches, a final left turn onto the beach front road and right into oncoming headwinds. At this point in the day I think the wind had shifted, or at least felt like they had because the last 8 miles were TOUGH!

Riding back into transition after the 112 mile ride.

This takes me all the way back to transition where I hop off my bike and sort of shuffle over on jelly legs to the run gear bag. This transition was much smoother with fewer athletes in the room. I took off the cycling jersey, helmet, bike shoes and sunglasses, put on my running shoes and visor and then I was off on my marathon.

 

As I began my marathon I started it with the best possible person I could ask for, Susan Wallis, president of the Hammerhead Triathlon Club and 37 time Ironman. She asked how I was doing and gave me some words of encouragement and then we set off on our chosen paces.

 

The marathon takes you out through residential neighborhoods, 1000′s of spectators cheering you on, hundreds of volunteers handing out nutrition and hydration and into the state park. Once there you head back to the half marathon marker and then again back out onto the same loop for a second time. As the miles slipped by, the fatigue seeped in. I felt good for the first 1/4 of the marathon and then around mile 7 I was feeling the effects of salt loss. A crampy sort of lightheadedness. I got down as many pretzels as I could to try and replenish. With a pretzel and a sip of water, and another and other, I managed to get a handful down and tried to do that at each station until I was feeling better. Eventually 2.5 hours into the marathon I finished the first half of the run feeling, all things considered, good. I stopped for my run special needs bag had another dose of ibuprofen to try and ease some of the pain and it helped. At this point I got to see the Hammerhead fan club, stopped for a quick picture and then I was off on my second half marathon.

Getting some motivation from the Hammerhead crew! Thanks guys!

As I was approaching mile 15 the sun was getting low, the shadows long and the pace manageable. Another few miles in and I could feel the small twitching effects of cramps beginning to surface. Whenever the twitching turned to pain, I had to walk it out in longish strides to try and stretch out the muscles while maintaining forward progress. This strategy brought me through the next several miles when the temperature began to drop. Somewhere with about 5 miles to go I began to realize I was going to break my goal of a 14 hour day. I think this realization somehow gave me a second wind, or perhaps it was the powergel, but either way I began to feel really good about what I had done so far and was looking forward to the end with a motivated pace. I stopped a couple of times for some chicken broth and flat cola and that hit the spot and was exactly what I needed. For the last 3 miles I ran past every station and just locked into my pace I knew exactly how far I had to go and with each controlled and focused stride I was determined to run all the way to the end.

The Blue Arch

Coming down the final strip the roads are lit with neon from the t-shirt shops and attractions, I could see about a 1/4 mile down the road the blue glow of the Ford arch and for a moment I thought back to a year ago, remembering that glowing blue arch and how awesome it was going to feel when I ran under it, knowing that that was the moment my name was going to pop up on the announcers screen and in about another 100 steps, as I was cheering a year ago for the athletes in 2010, now the crowd was cheering for me, for my moment, for this day that had started before the sun rose and was about to end long after it had set and accomplishing everything I had set out to do 18 months ago over the course of thousands of miles of training, I hear the words, Rob Knox, You are an Ironman!

Apr
26
Posted by admin at 7:09 am

Athletically speaking, there is nothing like it that I have ever experienced. Other than a few small stretches the cheering crowds go on for nearly the entire 26.2 miles. Race fans line the streets cheering, whistling, playing music, playing the Red Sox broadcast, offering orange wedges and water. It is an amazing show of support for the runners that love to run and the fans that love the runners.

The race begins in the small town of Hopkington on the corner of East Main Street and Ash Street where the BAA Office is located. There is a small park there with a Gazebo. This is where I met John Mixon for the first time. John is the director for a charity called, Run for the Fallen-Maine. This charity holds events in memory of the fallen heroes of our military. I ran in the name of LCPL Alex Arredondo of the USMC.

I was able to speak with Alex’s parents Carlos and Melinda a few times before I went up to New England. During our conversation I asked some questions about Alex and one of things I asked was what his favorite color was, purple. The reason for this is when growing up the Arredondo’s lived next to the purple line train. In fact Alex’s first word was purple. I decided to incorporate that into my run. I got some white running socks. On one of them I decorated it red white and blue with USMC down the calf, a Semper Fi banner on the front and the Eagle Globe insignia of the USMC. On the other sock I wrote a letter to Alex dedicating this marathon to him in purple.

None of this would have been possible without one of my closest friends, Chris White. She happens to be friends with John and he asked her if she new anyone who would like the opportunity to run for his charity. I jumped at the chance and after some aggressive fund raising and the support of friends and family, I was given the privilege of running the 115th Boston Marathon.

The 26.2 miles were amazing, painful, and memorable. The first half of the race I felt really good, I was hitting my pace perfectly on target, 30 minutes for every 5k, about a 9:30 pace. Once I got to the 18 mile mark, my legs began to cramp pretty badly and my feet hurt. At mile 20 right before I got to Heartbreak Hill, there was a fellow coworker of mine, Pam, that was holding up a poster with my name on it. That is the first time I have seen that in a race. Even through the cramps and pain, it was so uplifting. My pace slowed and my goal time of 4:20 was getting away from me, but I was ok with it. The terrain and small window of 2.5 months of training turned out to be a bigger hill to climb. But with that comes a lesson learned. The next marathon will need more training on hills and a longer time period if I am to improve. My backup goal was to finish under 5 hours, and I did. My finishing time was 4:57:30. For one of the hardest courses and being my first marathon, and it being the Boston Marathon, AND it being for Alex, his family and Run for the Fallen-Maine, I am so completely happy with my experience and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

A HUGE thanks goes out to all of the friends and family that supported my fundraising efforts and to the BAA offices for the opportunity to participate as a charity runner. I know from spending time with the Arredondo’s, and the rest of the Run for the Fallen families this was very meaningful and special as a way to honor and remember their lost loved ones.

I never got to meet Alex, yet I felt like he was with me the whole way.

Feb
11
Posted by admin at 8:16 pm

115th Boston MarathonSo wind the clock back to early January. My good friend Chris called me early in the morning to ask me a question. I answer the phone, I say hey Chris, whats up? She asks me, “Would you like to run the Boston Marathon?” Now when a friend calls you and you are still laying in bed, having been woken up by the ringing phone, the last thing you expect to hear is someone asking if you are interested in running the Boston Marathon. I wasn’t even sure if I was awake, really, it was the weirdest thing. I fell asleep after I got off the phone and woke up a little later, I had to look at my phone to confirm that she had actually called. Well, I wasn’t dreaming. Ironically I have been wanting my first marathon to be a special one, Chicago or New York, but having my first be the Boston Marathon literally is a dream come true.

The Boston Athletic Association extends a limited number of invitations to charities such as, Run for the Fallen, Maine. This charity organizes fundraising runs in memory and honor of our fallen military heroes. My friend Chris knows the director of the charity and he asked her if she knew anyone that would be interested in raising awareness and support for them. Chris knows me pretty well.

Whenever you get to do something you love and help a great charity like this, it is a win win.

Now the scary part is, all of this almost didn’t happen. Due to the huge demand to run this particular race, the charity spots went out faster than word could get back to the director and my spot was gone. It was gut wrenching, but he emailed me and said he was still trying for me. So, I kept my hopes up. Several emails and a month later I got the confirmation, my application was in the mail. I received the form yesterday, filled it out today paid the entry fee and mailed it back today. I will be running in the name of LCPL Alex Arredondo, a fallen marine.

Over the next two months I will be training to get my butt in shape to run the 26.2 miles from Hopkington to Boston.

The real challenge is the fact that I have not been running much in the past few months. Back in November I began to feel a pain in my left foot. I stuck with swimming 4 times a week and some occasional cycling. After giving the running a break, it is back to the road. New shoes, foot is feeling better and it is time to put in the miles. I have just over two months to prepare. No worries, plenty of time to get ready.

This marine along with so many others paid the ultimate price. It is a true honor to run in memory of his name. I hope you will visit my fundraising page to read more and consider making a contribution to this worthy cause.

I will of course be updating my blog over the next few months to keep you posted on my training and how everything is going.

Thanks so much!

ps. Boston is just the beginning…

Oct
19
Posted by admin at 9:41 pm

First off I must say this was an awesome experience. But before I get ahead of myself let me turn the clock back to the morning of October 17, 4:30 am. I woke up and had some breakfast, the Wheaties FUEL cereal that came in my race bag as well as some extra granola and a bagel. The drive up to Austin was 30 minutes from where I was staying in San Marcos with my friend and college cross country teammate, Ashlee. A big thanks to her for providing me with a place to lay my head. When I was about a mile from athlete parking I hit the line of traffic trying to get into the lot at about 5:30 am, traffic was moving dead slow and for about an hour I had to wait to get in. There was a few moments I was thinking, oh crap, I’m not going to be able to set my stuff up in transition and the whole day would be ruined. Not a good feeling, however I am glad I got there with plenty of time, first-timer jitters I guess.

Getting to the swim area it was time to get marked. My number, 1581, was drawn on my right and left arm, my left hand, and my age was drawn on my left leg. That is the moment reality hits you, like, this is it, the race begins so soon and you feel pretty excited, looking at this ink on your skin as if some sort of tattoo. I got my markings at about 7 am

Before anyone got in the water there was the national anthem to be sung, the flag we looked at was dangling from a military paratrooper. As he was dropping the singer sang, the flag descended closer and closer but then just at the last moment, a group of guys ran in to catch the flag and keep it from touching the ground. There was something emotional about the whole moment, I can’t explain but to see people rushing in to keep our nations colors from touching ground was very cool. The most amazing thing, however, was just as the singer was finishing the anthem, the microphone cut out after “land of the free” there was a brief pause, and then together 2500 athletes and just as many spectators sang, “and the home of the brave.” there couldn’t have been a more special, memorable and gratifying moment then that to begin the day of racing.The sunrise was just as spectacular, burning oranges and blues then yellowish gold reflections on the clouds. There were even mammatus clouds which are those weird soft rolling clouds that are pretty rare, that sunrise will forever be burned into my mind.

Ok, so that’s it for the pre-show, onto the racing. Each wave went off 5 minutes after the last until it was time for the 30-35 year old men with our dayglow orange swim caps. We all gathered down in the water. I positioned myself about three back on the inside, hoping to get a good position and have a clean swim. The canon fired and we were off. There was about 5 strokes into the swim when the athlete next to me hit me on my right goggle, hard. It sorta pulled my goggle off and it filled up, and it hurt. I was a little freaked out because there are about 40 guys all trying to swim and scramble over me and all I can see is splashing water. I kept my cool and just swam a few strokes to get out of the way, fixed my goggles and then got back into it. I didn’t realize it until the run that I might have hurt my eye a little more than I realized.

My battle wound :)

The salt drying on my face started to burn and when I went to wipe it away it was like a match being held on my eyelid. As for the swim the water was perfect, not too hot or cold. Water temperature was 72 degrees. I was fortunate to be borrowing a wetsuit from Matt DiPaolo, it was a perfect fit and helped keep me warm, and buoyant. The advantage to wearing a wetsuit is it helps keep you more streamlined too. I could literally feel myself gliding through the water. I had a great swim, considering the bumping and jostling, popping my head up to see where I was heading, and then 37 minutes later I was leaving the water. I was hoping to have a faster time, i know i can swim that distance in 30 minutes flat with the wetsuit in a pool, but with the bump to my eye in the beginning and the mass of bodies and popping your head up to spot, it all kind of adds up. Next time i just need to get out front and stay there, haha :)

When I got through with the swim there were volunteers assisting the athletes exiting the water, and wetsuit strippers that have you out of the wetsuit in about 3 seconds. I had the top part down to my waist already, then I lay on my back and they peel the rest off. When I went to stand up I had a tiny little cramp in my calf, but I pulled my foot back and it seemed to go away.

Next it was a 150 yard run up a hill to the transition area. My bike was waiting for me with all my stuff. As quickly as possible I rinsed off my feet with an extra water bottle, got on my socks, shoes, bike jersey, helmet and gloves, and then I was heading out. Right before I left the transition, I had some sunscreen slapped on my shoulders and legs by the sunscreen volunteer. It was funny to see it all over my arms and legs not even rubbed in but hey, I’m racing.

First mile into the ride was down a hill and then up a hill. Next mile of the ride was down a hill then up a hill. Third mile of the ride was down a hill and up a hill, well, you get the picture. Let’s just say northeast Florida is not central Texas :) but as hilly as the course was it was not that bad, the 10-14 mph climbs up hills were made up for by the 33-40 mph downhills. All was going well and the 5 mile markers were slipping by, I was hydrating consistently and feeling pretty good until my bike chain sorta came off. This has happened before and usually switching gears back solves the problem, however this time the chain totally derailed and I had to stop, get off and fix it. No problem, until I noticed another problem and this one was nearly race ending. The cleat on my shoe that attaches to my pedal was hanging on by a single screw. I tried to clip back in hoping the one screw would hold but the the cleat simply fell off. I was at mile 26 when this happened. I went back and picked up my cleat. With 30 miles to go I had no choice but to do what any logical person would do, i kept going. Cycling without a cleat is a bit like trying to push down on an ice cube. My foot was sliding around but eventually I was able to keep it going, this was not a fun part of the race, but I did what I had to do. I was hoping to see one of the patrolling maintenance vans, however, I never saw one. For ten miles I rode till I got to an aid station. There was a guy there with a toolbox, but he did not have a screw driver, all he had was a steak knife, ha! So he did the best he could and actually got the cleat back onto my shoe. Now I could at least ride with my foot attached to the pedal. I must admit,I was riding a little more conservatively, I definitely did not want the cleat to come off again. Pretty dangerous riding at speeds up to 35 miles an hour and have your foot likely to slip off and hit the ground. However, along the route I saw several people with flats, some just a mile out from transition. As bad as it was having a busted cleat, I was glad I didn’t have to deal with any flats. The next 20 miles were without incident, the hills seemed to be less often and I was back to enjoying the race taking it all in.

As the bike route got closer and closer to the next transition the landscape went from rural to urban, more traffic cones and more traffic. Ironman did a great job setting up a safe and challenging bike course and I am thankful for the many cones set up to keep us safe.

Rolling into the Austin rodeo for transition 2 I racked my bike and got off the helmet gloves cycling shoes and jersey as quick as I could. I got into my running shoes, race belt with number and visor. I put some power bar gels, chocolate, in my back pocket that I would need to help get me through the run. The first 5 miles went great, smiles the whole way, passing people, and feeling good. Running the first loop of 6.55 miles took me out from the rodeo to the swim area and back. The running course was half on roads and half on trails, up long hills and down long hills. Miles 5-8 were a little more challenging, I was taking in water and Gatorade to keep hydrated. After mile 8 I was not feeling as good. I know I was well hydrated, I was eating pretzels to try and replace some salt to keep the cramping down, but by the time I was at mile 8 it was all mental. Fatigue had set in and I was trying to run in such a way that I would not mis step or cause my legs to blow up into cramps, I was doing the Ironman shuffle. A sort of determined jog.

As I was getting closer to the rodeo and just passing mile 12 I could see the arena where the finish line was waiting inside. I took in one more cup of water at the last aid station and then the last half mile was before me. Running along the final stretch there were people cheering, clapping, ringing cowbells and holding up signs. Up and around the final bend and into the arena, a couple thousand people in the arena cheering and then I heard my name called as i was crossing the finish line. Arms up in cheer, hopefully the picture looks good :) I was given a “finisher” medal and a hat. Then another picture in front of an Ironman backdrop and it was time to eat. Some good ol Texas BBQ.

My finishing medal

For the next hour or so I watched as the remaining athletes came in. Several athletes were in the medical tent sucking oxygen or getting massages which is proof that this event is definitely a real challenge, I was glad to not be one of them, though, a hit of some oxygen probably would have been glorious. The weather for the entire day was ideal, sunny skies with a cool breeze, perhaps a few degrees cooler would have been perfect but I am not complaining, I would take those conditions any day.

Thanks to everyone who sent me a message of encouragement and congratulating me online when I was through and to all the people tracking me throughout the day. It was cool to think every time i crossed a timing pad there were people seeing it. An extra big thanks to my coach Sara DiPaolo, she helped me with all my questions and kicked my butt on a leg frying 40 mile bike ride day and got me set up on the fast track training regimen which she told me would enable me to finish and not feel like total crap the next day. Well Sara, it worked, I made it through with a smile on my face and just a sore body, nothing I can’t manage :) The next time I do something like this I will want some real live people there. Going through this day solo was fun, but not nearly as fulfilling as it will be when more people will be able to be there and see me cross that line when it is the finish of a full Ironman.

My race results

Oct
12
Posted by admin at 12:17 pm

Ok, so I have been neglecting this blog, again, but the training is almost done, well really, the training is done. I am now in the taper stage of the training which basically means I am not going to get any faster or stronger for the race, but I am trying to maintain a consistent level of fitness and allowing all my muscles to heal so they are at their peak condition when it comes to race day, which happens to be this Sunday! My race number is 1581 and I will be starting in the 11th group at 8:15 am. If you want to track the race go to ironman.com. There is a field on the upper right where you can put in my number (1581) and you should be able to see how my progress is going.

In the past two weeks I have been very busy. One of the peaks of interest since my last post was the PGA TOUR MS 150 Cycle to the Shore. On October 2 at 7:30 am a couple thousand cyclists took off from St. Augustine Airport and made the bike ride all the way down to Daytona Beach. It was a great day for a ride, a little rainy at times, but the pace was great. I got the 85 miles done in just under 4 hours. Along the way I met up with a great group of riders, the Hammerheads. They are all part of the triathlon club here in Jacksonville. After hanging out with them I learned that they had all participated in an Ironman race of some kind. I mentioned I was going to be in Austin in a few weeks and we all had  a great time and I got to pick up some tips from some new friends.

Made it to Daytona!

The ride back the next day was brutal. Riding into a headwind the whole way back took us nearly 3.5 hours to ride 65 miles. After I got back to the airport I got on my running shoes and headed out onto the road for a training run. I figured it would be a great opportunity to get in a brick while I was exhausted from the ride. It was not a fun run. The heat was intense and I was hungry and thirsty. After a 4 mile run I finally got some drink and food, it had been a long weekend.

Ever since the ride I have been feeling a small pain in my rear, like a pinched nerve or something, which, good for race day, does not hurt when I swim, bike or run. Rather sitting or laying down are most unpleasant. Oh well, I’ll deal with it.

So It is just days away and I’ll be flying to Austin with wetsuit, bike, running shoes and about 20 other items I’ll need for the actual race. I am renting a mini-van while I am there just to manage with the bike. There is a lot of prep that goes into this thing!

This has been a very fast ten weeks and I can’t believe how soon I will be out there. I have enjoyed the training so much it has been a great lifestyle and I have been blessed with support from great friends and am so thankful for all of their encouragement.

The Austin race seems to be right here at my doorstep, I am looking forward to the experience and can’t wait to share the story of my experience when I am on the other side.

I must glance to the horizon for a moment to know that out there another challenge is waiting for me in the form of the full Ironman. Typical training for that race lasts 7 months with 22+ hours of training per week. But that is another post for another day.

Sep
26
Posted by admin at 10:46 pm

So I must say I have been neglecting my training blog, HOWEVER, I have not been neglecting my training! For the past two weeks, I have been swimming like a fish, riding like, well no animal really rides a bike, so I have been riding a lot, and I have been running like a rabbit or something that runs a lot. In any case I am feeling good and sore. Last weekend I went for my long ride of 60 miles. Was I feeling a little crazy on the bike… yes, the mental strength one needs to keep riding on a bike saddle for over 3 hours is substantial. And I keep thinking, the real full Ironman I plan on doing next year sometime is going to be WAY different when a 60 mile ride will be a short training ride, ha! Then the running and swimming have filled up my lunch hours and after work hours quite efficiently, I have still managed to maintain somewhat of a social life.

I made it to the 1st birthday celebration of my friend Justin’s son Levi, it was a wonderful birthday party with a Yo Gabba Gabba theme, which I am totally unfamiliar with, however the one year olds seem to love it. He had a Yo Gabba Gabba b-day cake that was pretty awesome, and Justin also made the cups look like one of the characters and lollipops for party favors. I also had the pleasure to have dinner over at there house a few days prior.

I also made it to a Jags-lo-country boil at my friend Jade’s. It was awesome, nothing more needs to be said :)

This past weekened I had the opportunity to shoot an event called Wedding Crashers, an event hosted by JacksonvilleScene. I was the “wedding photographer” and enjoyed seeing a lot of my friends and meeting new ones all while an 80′s themed mock wedding took place, Madonna and Michael never looked happier.

I enjoyed a dinner party with friends on Saturday night as well as a visit with my favorite Wheaten Terrier Stella and her parents Laddie and Rosie :)

Back to training, Today was the leg frying workout. An intense 40 miles of on and off headwinds while completing three loops around the Baymeadows/Deerwoodpark/Gate Parkway area that head my quads crying for mercy. I had the joy of riding with my “coach” Sara and her husband Matt. They are very strong riders and it was a joy to have them pushing me all morning while providing some tips and advice I will be using come race day. I am so grateful for their input, if you guys are reading this thanks so much!

After my ride I went home, showered and then fell asleep for an hour, like a rock.

Upon waking up my legs felt a little stiff but I managed to make them work as I meandered downstairs and headed to Sierra Grill for a burrito and a taco, I was hungry. The rest of the day I spent taking easy and watching football.

I am three weeks out and feel good, ready and excited to get out to Austin.

Sep
12
Posted by admin at 6:26 pm

On Saturday morning I woke up at 6 am, why, you ask? Well to go fishing of course. However, I did not catch ANYTHING! Not a single thing, and after 3.5 hours of casting to no avail, my line broke birdnested on the last  cast. Lost my leader and everything attached to it, bummer.

Tangled reel

This is what happens when things go bad

After this bad day of fishing (ironically enjoyable) It was time for some training. Swimming for two sets of 20 minutes with a warm up and a cool down took me about 50 minutes. Swim felt good, though, the pool was very hot from the midday sun.

After swimming I geared up, hopped on the bike and headed out for my ride. Today’s roll would take me on a 50 miler. I did my usual out over the 210 bridge to Nocatee and then back to Ponte Vedra. I brought 2, 24 oz  bottles of water with me and my 32 oz aero bottle. Not too sure I like the aero bottle yet as it is difficult to reach the straw. Hopefully going to try out some different straws, and I have some ideas I think will work. I went through all 80 ozs of water and had to make a pit stop at a friends to refill one of my bottles to finish the last ten miles.

I felt good throughout the ride. Sure there were times I felt tired and headwinds had me going only 15 mph, but then there were times I was cruising at 21. In the end I averaged 17.1 mph for 2:57:00, Pretty much where I thought I would end up.

While on a ride like this I was getting to a point where I was feeling not just physically worn, but also mentally tired. I think this another reason why these long training rides are so important, to train your mind to deal with the stresses of endurance challenges.

Next weekend I do my longest ride of this training regimen, a 60 miler. Wish me luck that I can keep it together, in the legs and in my head :)

Sep
09
Posted by admin at 9:03 pm

So today was a 30 mile ride. It was a windy start heading south on Ponte Vedra Blvd. Headwinds kept me at about 17 mph even when I was tucked down on my profile bars. Headed over to Nocatee, pretty much my favorite area to ride. A development with the infrastructure to support several 1000 homes, and no homes! The roads are completely empty and perfectly paved. Being a little further inland also helps the wind factor. When I hit my halfway point of 15 miles from home, I turn around and head back.

The sunset was awesome  heading back over the bridge towards the beach. Looking back and revealed some great yellows, pinks, blues and oranges, really great treat to get to enjoy that. I look forward to the evening rides after work for this very reason. As long as I am on my wheels by 6:30 I am going to get a chance to see a great atmospheric show.

The best part of the ride however, was heading back north on Ponte Vedra Blvd. A strong tailwind pushed me the  whole way back. With the little push from the south wind and grinding away in my highest gear I was able to average a clip of 25 mph for about 7 miles. By now the sun was completely down. I rigged a camping headlamp to the head tube and made a makeshift headlight that worked surprisingly well. Coupled that with a blinking led light under the bike seat and I was feeling pretty visible.

Finished the 30 miles right at 1:40:00 with an average speed of 18.1 mph. That push at the end really helped get that up over 18, usually I’ll average around 17.1-17.5 on my rides.

My legs feel tired every day and heavy. Although,  that is actually a good thing. It means my legs are repairing themselves. The good thing, is that when I do my training the next day, they only feel heavy right at the beginning. As soon as I get into the run or the ride or the swim, whichever I happen to be doing, that heavy feeling leaves and then they feel strong, totally different than a few weeks ago. It feels like I traded in my legs for these new ones. The foundation is being laid and it is such a rewarding feeling, physically and mentally.

I have been training for just over three solid weeks. 5 weeks to go.

Sep
06
Posted by admin at 8:08 pm

Happy Labor Day! Today went for a swim and a run. Swim was great, swam my first 1000 at 17:15 and the second at 17:30. Swim times are dropping and I’m feeling pretty strong. I guess the one thing that keeps popping into my head when I do the 1.2 mile open water swim, I’m not going to have a wall to kick off of every 64 feet, and, I am going to have to pop my head up and make sure I am on target. I am not going to get that little extra breath when I kick off the wall, as well as the kick off the wall! No gliding here, it is all crawl. No worries though, I feel really good about the swim. I hope the water is not too cold!

The run, dang, it was hot today. I ran 6 miles after the swim, but holy cow, it was so hot.  Not much to comment on here as for the run, just that it was HOT!

Hope everyone enjoys the short work week!

Sep
03
Posted by admin at 9:57 pm

Finally got myself some new New Balance 993 shoes. They are the grey ones with a big honkin USA on the back. New Balance is proud of the Made in the USA heritage and are the only athletic shoe manufacturer to make their shoes in the States. I have been running in this model for the past year and I love them. I probably put way too many miles on my last pair. It was nice to get the new kicks on, I actually ran really well tonight, 8 miles in all. Also got some sweet upgraded insoles, they are worth the extra coin, the insoles that come with shoes are not good and these will lengthen the life of my shoes and keep my feet happy :)

As I was running at about mile 5, I got this wonderful lack of pain feeling in my legs, kinda like a mini runners high. Felt like I could run forever.

I started the run at about 10 and finished just after 11 for about an 8:30 pace. Running at night is cooler than the day, but running in the dark sucks. It is hard to see the ground in many areas. The lighting in my area sucks for running after dark. Fortunately I have this LED band that goes around my arm (pictured above) that helps me be a little more visible to passing cars and kind of illuminates the ground when there is zero lights.

Tomorrow is a day of swimming and cycling. 45 minutes in the pool and 40 miles on the bike. To quote Dori the Blue Tang, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”