Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ironman Videos

Get psyched for Saturday's NBC Broadcast! I threw some of my favorite Ironman videos on the bottom of the page to get you in the mood...

Final Report

Okay, I'm done with my race report - here you go:

Race Day (pdf)

And, I'm done with my mandatory cheesy slide show of the day. It's below:

Cheesy Slide Show (YouTube)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pics up, stories to come

I know, I owe all y'all stories and personal thanks. They're coming, along with a race report. We're moving up the coast tomorrow, so it may a little while.

In the meantime, the first hundred or so race day pictures are up. I'm totally psyched with my finish photo - they gave out the hard copies this morning. Sorry for the picture of the picture, but I'll get something better when I get back home.

Pics are at the usual location, but not in great order yet.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I am an Ironman

Mike Reilly said so.

Thank you, thank you. Thank you.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Off the bike

Josh made the bike cutoff!! It was a close call but he made it. He looks tired but I know he can do it. Only 26.2 miles to go...

Latest update

My spies in hawi tell me that josh just hit the turnaround point and that he's still looking strong. The conditions are rough. Not only is norman out, but natasha badmann and michellie are out as well. More updates to come!


For some reason my first post didn't go through. The gist of it was that josh finished the swim in 1:39 and is looking strong on the bike. More updates to come!

Tough day

No word on josh yet, but he should be on his way to hawi. Norman has dropped out. The word is that he was driven out of hawi with an iv in his arm. That makes me nervous for josh, although we all know that norman deserves it! Natasha baddman has had a collision, but i'm not sure how serious it is. I have spies in hawi who are looking out for josh. I'll let y'all know when I hear from them (thanks joy and marc)!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Twas the night before Ironman

And all through the.... HOLY F*#K I'M DOING THE IRONMAN TOMORROW!!

Check in was awesome and awe-inspiring.

I got a very cool Cervelo t-shirt, just for riding their bike. Then, safety check, which gets you another M-dot sticker for the bike. Very thorough, but very much with-clue.

Next is the survey guys - slowtwitch and triathlete mag. Finally, you're corralled to the entrace to the pier. At that point, you get a person who escorts you through the rest of the process. I got a lovely woman named Sharon. In her words, she was pre-filling her karma tanks in an attempt to qualify for 2008. She walked me basically backwards through transition. First, the bike is stored, both wheels down, with a wooden rack holding the rear tire. The helmet goes on the bike. She said that, unless you come in a pack, your helmet is likely to be handed to you, but you'll grab your own bike.

We walked backward through the run to the bike - everyone runs to the far end of the pier and then runs to their bike. I imagine it might get rough for the fast guys, because there's barely room for two people across.

We hung the bike to run bag (you hang it yourself, and the volunteer double-checks you), walked back through the men's changing tent (almost one whole wall of which is a giant urinal - lovely), and then hung the bike bags right at the end of the hose shower I've seen so many times before.

So that's it - I'm checked in. Tomorrow morning everything opens up at 4:45, and I'll be there. I drop off my special needs bags (actually called 'special foods' so I put my spare tubes in a cookie box), pump up the tires (leaving a margin for the sun to expand them), and then put my cap on, my ear plugs in, and my goggles around my forehead.

Then, there are two cannons. Seventeen hours later, the finish line closes.

As my people have been known to say - Oy Vey.

By the way, the pic was from my beautiful wife - your race day correspondent. We were just making sure everything was working.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Eve of raceday

Josh in deep mental preparation.


I'm #1214

There are two easy ways to track me:

Go to and sign up for SMS messages

Go to and visit "live athlete tracking" on race day.

The race starts at seven tomorrow morning local time. It's a six hour time difference to Atlanta.

I'll have two hours and twenty minutes to finish the 2.4 mile swim. That's 9:20a local time.

From the start of the race, I have ten and a half hours to finish the 112 mile bike. That's 5:30p local time.

Finally, I have to finish the 26.2 mile run to top off the course in seventeen hours. That's midnight local time.

If I beat the above cutoffs, I will be an ironman. I've done what I can, and appreciate everyone's help wishes and prayers to get around. Think of me, and quiet the Kona winds. Help me keep the rubber on the road, and I'll have the best chance.

In twenty-four hours, the cannon will fire on Kailua pier, and I will start swimming.

Carbo dinner

Eh. I give it a six.

No, it was amazing to see thousands and thousands of people at a carbo dinner. Also, They tried really hard. But still, powerpoint and fire dancing don't really mix. Last year's was put up on, so I assume this year's is as well.

The highlight of the evening was the introduction of the oldest athletes. The oldest guy couldn't be there so a spritely young Frank Farrar had to fill in as second oldest.

I'll be sorry to beat Sister Madonna (but she's going down) - she is one of the coolest people around anywhere. She hasn't trained much since her last ironman six weeks ago, because she has a broken toe. Her comment, with a big pearly smile? "I'm fine". Frank reiterated his finish thought from Wisconsin, "when I grow up, I want to be just like all of you". I may have to come back in a few years to watch them open up the 81 to 85 age group.

Rigsby was honored as the everuman ironman, and accepted it with grace. The footage they showed made Georgia look beautiful as well.

No huge laughs, but it was something to witness, and part of the whole experience.

As we walked back, construction on the pier was in full swing, and the finish line was going up. If you listen closely right now, you can hear my heart beating from wherever you are.

Finally, thank you to everyone for your notes and thoughts. Especially now that my beauitiful wife is here, I'm spending less time writing on the blackberry. I do read and appreciate each thought, though. Thank you - it really means so much to me to have you pulling me towards the finish line.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

She's here!

Jen's here! If you could see me, you'd see me doing a little dance.

Today is our fourth wedding anniversary. In traditional fourth anniversary tradition, we will be attending an underpants run and a carbo dinner.

Ahhh, romance. I rock at it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Legends of the lava

I was lucky enough to attend the legends of the lava coaching panel, put on by tritravel and triathlete magazine. It had just a few heavy-hitters:

Dave Scott
Mark Allen
Chris Leigh
Belinda Granger
Lance Watson
Paula Newby-Fraser

That's twenty combined wins. Smart folks. It was fun to watch the collegial and well-practiced ribbing between Dave and Mark, who I think both believe are just slightly better than the other.

There was some real technical discussions about nutrition and bike positioning, a reasonably strong panel agreement that aero helmets are for pros only, and some good reminiscing.

By far the two biggest laughs were in answer to a question about why, even with the new technology, Mark, Dave and Paula put up better times than Chris, Belinda, and Lance's clients.

Mark's answer - "We had better drugs"
Chris' answer - "We're all a bunch of pussies"

As for advice I'll take away....

Paula said that in this week you're pushed and pulled around, even on race day. She said, rather than be passive about it, spend the week "remembering that this is something _you_ want to do, and do it."

Also, Mark Allen responded to another panelist saying that you shouldn't worry about "what goes on out there." I thought he had a good point when he responded with "What goes on out there is affected by what goes on inside of you." He was pointing out that your decisions are important on race day, and they start with how you approach the day.

So, that's what I learned from the legends. This week is freakin awesome.

Dave Scott

....Says he racing Kona next year. He threw down the gauntlet to Mark Allen. Mark chickened out.

You heard it here first.


As an American here, I spend a lot of time explaining the incredible diversity of our country, and trying to do my part to be a decent ambassador and counter some of the US of A stereotypes that are rampant abroad. I say this because I'm in the mood to paint with a broad stroke.

Many, many moons ago, a Dutch friend of mine, Rob Kooper, introduced me to international football. I loved waking up early to drink at the pub and sing songs. Atlanta at the time really only had one pub that would open up for these friendlies, so it was an incredible mix of languages and cultures. Rob said I could root for whomever I wanted, as long as they weren't German. The pub agreed, with incredible seriousness - Nobody roots for the Germans except for the Germans. I'm amazed through the decade since then how many times I've heard that phrase.

So, this morning I'm sitting at Lava Java having my morning coffee, when a Dresdner Kleinwort flunkie comes by. That's Normann Stadtler's team, the ones who flanked him earlier to keep the nobodies away. They all have fully matching outfits, which seem to change every day. People are talking about how the team has taken over the Four Seasons, and are 'clearing' other cyclists ahead of Normann when he goes out for a ride. Anyway, he drops a little menu card on my table. I'll put a picture up, but here's the text:

Aloha!!! This table is respectfully RESERVED: 8-10am, Wednesday October 10th through Sunday October 14th, 2007 for the Dresdner Kleinwort Triathlon Team, Guests and Media Only. Mahalo for your cooperation!"

Shmucks. They're annexing Lava Java. It's a little bit like 'buying' Ray's Pizza for the Nike athletes to carbo load before the NYC marathon without waiting in line with the commoners. The money they have to throw around didn't give this particular German bank and set of athletes any class at all, and I'm definitely not rooting for Normann or his teammates any more.

Get him, Macca! See if you can top the Lance 'look' as you go by. Make sure they get it on film.

Now that's service

They're serving gatorade and iced espresso at the .6 mile marker on the SWIM again this morning (from a little catamaran). It's a promo for a coffee company, and a good one, because everyone is talking about it.

The parade was pretty lame. I guess in the whole scheme of things, they're allowed a lame sub-event. It seemed like the primary reason they had it was to funnel everyone into the expo, which officially opens when the parade ends at its entrance. I'll hit said expo (hard) later this morning, but it was way too much of a zoo last night. I think they're unlikely to run out of Ford Explorers overnight.

Also, I might have been more into it if the USAT hadn't been so obviously outclassed by every other country in the world. Matching uniforms like the Kiwis? Cool hats like the Canadians? Cheap t-shirts like most every other country? Even a flag or button or something? Nope. I know there's some sort of a feud or something between the USAT and WTC, but it would be nice to spend a (very) little coin to show that they support the athletes good or lucky enough to get here. Andy Baldwin went to the effort of finding a shirt for the parade, so we all could probably do to similarly go the extra mile.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ironman schwag bag

What's in the bag you get when you register for Ironman Hawaii?

BOB strollers
Lifesport Coaching
Janus Investments
Kuji Sports (Ironman Helmets)
RacerMate (Computrainer)
Big Island Jewelers (Ironman Jewelry)
Profile Design
Red sail sports (swim turnaround boat tix)
AT&T (
Ironman footwear
Hawaiian Islands School of Massage

Headsweats Kona 2007 Cap
Gatorade Endurance bottle
Dell Kona 2007 bottle
Dell Kona 2007 mousepad (with room for pic)
Lifesport mousepad (very cheap)
Powerbar C2Max bar
Clinique M-Gel and Face Scrub
Anothy travel M-dot luggage tag

Number-specific sub bag:
Notice not to put sunscreen on until after the swim
Notice to not bike or drive in energly lab before race day
Double-sided instruction sheet
Two run race numbers
Plastic frame number
Permanent frame sticker
Helmet number
Swim Cap
Timing chip
Timing chip band
Five plastic gear bags
Two family pier passes
Bike check-out ticket
Ties, rubber bands

Official Ironman Program
Sweat rate survey

I finally got pics up from the Queen K ride, and I put up pics of all these goodies as well.

I have the bracelet!

I am an Ironman registrant! I think they should have Mike Reilly saying that as you exit.

I'll put up pictures later today. Don't worry, though, I'll still be wearing the bracelet next time I see you.

The Queen K

I was the first customer at Lava Java this morning. That'll be the first and last event I win this week. I have my swim critique session with Luke Bell, Belinda Granger and Chris Leigh in a bit. These folks are hilarious, so it should be a good time.

Yesterday, I got a bus tour of the whole bike course, narrated by Shane and Chris, and then rode the last 36 miles home from Kawaiihae.

It's like no where else I've ever been. As soon as you pass the airport on your way out of town (about 8 miles), it's the surface of the moon. No structures, no other roads visible besides the one you're on. I'll get pictures up later today. I had thought that the NBC guys might only shoot the few 'pretty parts' of the course, but it's just not like that. I'd say at least 75% of the course is a single ribbon of rollers through the lava. I rode the climb to Hawi in the bus, where it didn't make me sweat much at all. The bus was rocking from the wind, though, and Chris was talking about how he's seen lots of age groupers climbing back over the guardrail as he was on his way down. As a pure climb, it's really not legendary, but the wind has been steadily enough directly opposing the climb to stunt and bend the trees. Also, the wind farm is actually right on the road. That falls in the 'insult to injury' category for me.

Hawi is beautiful, in a tiny mountain town kind of way. One road, no waiting. I'm sure it'll look like Mecca to me on Saturday as I get my special needs bag there before heading back into the lava.

As for the bike ride home from Kawaiihae, it was both terrifying and comforting. The wind is something else. If you're standing, you'll naturally lean into it a little bit to keep your balance. I found myself naturally doing it on the bike as well. It's disconcerting mentally to be going down the road tilted to one side, but I was happy my reflexes naturally took care of it. As it shifted around I definitely wasn't riding a straight line, but I stayed pretty relaxed and adjusted. In the end, the winds on Saturday will have the biggest ability to impact whether I finish or not, so I did my best to make friends with them yesterday.

We did ride every hill besides the one to Hawi in one direction, so I'm at peace that there won't be a wall hiding out there.

I did get "Kenned" right as the ride home started. Ken was a guy who hit a fellow triathlete named Welshy's blog with a really nasty comment a week or two before he made ironman his bitch. The comment basically said there was no way he could finish an ironman with his training volume, so all he could do was hurt someone or ruin their day. It was brutal. Of course, as soon as he told the community about it, there was a long thread of support, but I decided it was a significant enough incident for a neologism. Welshy is one of my heroes for a picture from one of his swim starts. It's him, big and soft, in a red bathing suit, surrounded by much smaller and fitter guys in black wetsuits who really appear to be laughing at him. In actuality they're laughing with him at a joke he just made, but it's a great picture. I'll see if I can find it to show y'all.

So, I got Kenned by a woman on the bike ride yesterday. We started in packs, but I told my pack (obviously the slowest, mostly masters women) before we started that, although I loved them all, I was riding by heartrate, and would likely be dropped by them by the end of the parking lot. I said that I had everything I needed, and they should go ahead and enjoy their day. This one lady motions me over and says into my ear (I guess she didn't want to embarass me), "I wasn't going to say anything, but I think this is ridiculous. If you can't keep up with a bunch of old ladies on a training run or ride, there's no way you can do an ironman." I stammer out something about my training volume, and about the fact that I'll have four or five hours left after these 'old ladies' finish. She says something like, "I just think it's a waste, because there are a lot of people who have worked a lot harder, who could do it."

It didn't affect my confidence, but it did piss me off. I think that, in my small way, I represent an important part of the ironman tradition. Long before there was Faris, Normann, speedsuits and aerobars, there was John Collins. How long did IronMan take him? "About seventeen hours". Ironman is meant for friggin wierdos and idiots who may or may not make it just as much as it is for pros. I'm happy and proud to let my freak flag fly, and take anything up to 16:59 to make this thing my own.

Besides, I'm having more fun here than she is.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Energy Lab

It's everything they say it is.

Shane got us in for a run today in the late morning. It's the hottest part of the day here, before the (holy sharif!) winds pick up.

It's not when I'll be there on Saturday, so it was a real privilege to run it Ironman style.

The roads are "hot mix", the really black and soft asphalt. The lava rock surrounds you, and you're far enough from the Queen K not to hear a single car. Occasionally the silence is shattered by a takeoff or landing right next door at the airport. It's low enough over the lava to make you feel like you're under attack. If you qualified to get here, it's a great place for a group run.

If you're me, you watch those men and women fly away, and then you get the true Kona run experience. I've always loved running on deserted roads, and this was no exception. I was watching the heat rise in every direction. I loved picturing the darkness, and the desperation I'll feel here looking for the turnaround and special needs beach. It's also the 'end of the preamble'. By the time we leave the energy lab, we'll have about 10k home. It's both the hardest and easiest 10k in the world as far as I'm concerned. I just need to get to that starting line.

Pics are up on picasa - scroll down to one of the other entries for the link.

Today, I get to drive the whole bike course, and ride 60 kilometers on the Queen K. I am a lucky man.

Anyone have any requests for pics or things I should do this week? Just send them along - josh_berman @

Sunday, October 7, 2007


An excerpt from today's edition of "West Hawaii Today." The article is written by Bobby Command:

The theme of the race this year is "Kupau," which means "completion" in the Hawaiian language....2007 is the "year of completion" when everything has come full circle....

The characteristics of Kupau are "kuaha," which means advice; "ikaika," or strength, "ahonui," or endurance; "hohonu," or knowledge; "ike," or understanding; "naauao," or wisdom; and "mana," or authority.

It's getting closer

We had dinner last night at the Royal Kona - Belinda Granger (wowzers), Luke Bell (guy wowzers) and Chris Leigh (funny as hell) gave us pep talks. I also ate with the guy who won the Port Mac Ironman 40-45 age group - 9 and a half hours (give or take). There's tough, irontough, and then ironman podium tough.

The streets are getting more crowded, and the people are getting fitter and faster. It's less than a week away. It's time for me to HTFU, but I feel more like HIAC (Hiding in A Corner). Today we're off to the energy lab - more hallowed ground, and a good run to hopefully settle my nerves.

More pictures are up:

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Most of all

I miss my beautiful wife. It's been too long since I saw her, and too long until I'll see her again (the 10th). I'm lucky to be here, but that's nothing compared to how lucky I am to be with Jen in the first place. My confidence in all of this is waning today, but I think it's mostly because I don't have her here with me. Hurry to Kona, beautiful! Your hubby needs you!

The blogger's table

This is pretty amusing - I'm sharing a table now with Mitch Thrower ( and Kai Baumgartner (http// Mitch was smart enough to bring a video camera, so as soon as he gets everything uploaded you can see the aforemention dolphins on his site.


I swam half of the course today. It's a really long way to swim in the ocean, with the swells lifting and dropping you the whole way. On the plus side, there are incredibly beautiful fish, including dolphins.

Now I'm sitting at Lava Java, and there's a whole school of dolphins doing the course. They're having almost as much fun as I will a week from today, jumping and flipping in the air.

Racing in paradise is a nifty thing.

Some new pics

Just a few, but a cool bracelet in the livestrong tradition:

Friday, October 5, 2007

Things I didn't know about IronMan Hawaii

For next year's lottery winners or even qualifiers, here are some things I didn't know until I arrived:
* Feel free to wear your ironman or marathon t-shirt, but you're not going to impress anyone with it. The cool kids wear pro-only prototype technical gear or special edition sponsor wear (there's a beautiful Cervelo Kona shirt).
* The Australians congregate at the Kona Islander. Bring some meat to the communal barbecue, and enjoy the company.
* The Germans congregate at the Royal Kona. The Germans in speedos stereotype is shockingly accurate so far, so wear your sunglasses if you go.
* Big Island Running in Alii Sunset Plaza is a real running store, where the owner actually knows his stuff. He has an incredible collection of signed ironman posters, and some good stories
* There's a McDonalds on Kuakini east of Palani. Just in case.
* Bring more tires and tubes than you think you need. The lava rock is ridiculously sharp, and the last thing you want is to be sitting on the side of the road shouting "another flat tieyuh!!!". If you brought too many, take a drive to Hawi. There will be somebody along the way walking their bike because they ran out. Be a Kona angel.
* Kona is crawling with homeless folks - some of whom ride some very nice bicycles. Nuff said?
* Unless you're Norman or Belinda, there's somebody here who is going to make you look and feel tremendously out of shape. Deal with it.
* Just like in final four towns, some stores downtown get turned into event stores. The difference is that, in addition to t-shirts, these stores sell high end bike and tri gear. Some so new it doesn't have boxes or labels. Unlike final four stores, these are just extensions of local bike, tri and running stores, so not fly-by-night operations.
* There are random tourists here who have no idea what's going on. They can be good for a reality check when everyone else is talking about 'easy' ironmans compared to 'competitive' ones.
* Lava Java has a plate-sized cinammon roll just the smell of which can make you gain five pounds.

I'm sure I'll have more later.


Who's that running on Alii drive? It's the ironmensch! It was just a little three mile jaunt, from the 2 mile mark to the turnaround at the Catholic church that Mark Allen made famous.

The run was beautiful. The miles, and even half miles are marked with permanent road signs. Alii drive goes right along the beach, which means I'll get some beautiful sunset views. Assuming, that is, that the skies don't open up like they did last night.

We ran into Luke Bell, with his wife rollerblading alongside him as a rolling rest stop. He has a hurt knee, and hasn't had a real run for six weeks. A very nice guy, he gets a good mark on the 'interacts with the slow guy with actual kindness scale'. I'll give him a seven or so. Michellie also gets a high score, because she didn't correct the fan who came up to her this morning and called her Michelle. Norman gets a three at most. He was here at lava java earlier, but was surrounded (literally) by a posse of team members, one of whom actually turned away a child who said he wanted to meet him. Norman didn't even make eye contact with anyone. Bad form for a world champion.

This place is amazing, and it's hard to believe we're more than a week away from race day. Already, the athletes are dominating town. My dad made it in last night, and will be starting up the ironmensch sherpa team by keeping me from going crazy as I try to stay off of my feet for most of the rest of the day..

All systems go today. I feel rested, ready and  honored to be here.

Sorry about the lack of sunset pictures, but hopefully the weather will cooperate tonight.


Don't tell anyone, because I'm playing it cool, but I'm having my morning lava java latte today next to Michellie Jones. In case you weren't sure this place was ironman central, each outdoor table has someone at it before 6:15 in the morning, and we're pairing up.

Don't worry, irongirls, I'll say hi on your behalf at some point if someone else bothers her first.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Dig me!

Hey, guess who swam from Dig-Me beach today? Somehow, I sucked it up (and in) and walked onto this beach with the pros. Normann was there. He has absolutely zero body-fat. Nobody has any body fat, and he makes them look, well, fat.

I just went for a short swim, but it's pretty amazing. They have the buouys out already, and they go on forever. You can see the bottom, and the serious amount of local fauna. I saw a beautiful turtle (it's a good omen, so I have that going for me), and lots of brightly colored fish. It makes sighting much easier, because you can see what straight is along the bottom. It was nerve-wracking today, because it's just one out-and-back marked. I had images of the Ironman voice-over, "Desiree's chances were ruined a week before the big event after getting hit head on during swim practice by a lottery winner." I managed to avoid this fate as well.

Swimming in the ocean was a mixed bag. The motion didn't bother me (a big shout out for ear plugs), but I did end up swallowing some water. I'll be working on that all week, and diluting the salt with water as soon as I hit shore on race day.

After that, it was time to go shopping (safeway, walmart). The room is now as stocked as it can be.

Finally, I put Ferris back together. I'm dang proud of myself for that, as I did it without help. I will have some of the nice folks here look at it.

Also, I got to drink some serious Kona coffee this morning at Lava Java, and had a lovely breakfast there with some of the Australians. I can't believe how nice everyone is being.

I even threw a few pictures up! Don't worry, I'll take more, I'm just getting going, and sunset hasn't even started yet.

For ease of use, I just threw them up here:

Evening one

It feels like it's really late, but it's only 8:15P local time. So, you'll get a memory dump instead of a beautifully constructed set of observations. Sorry, I'll be more interesting tomorrow.

Most of today was spent in the Honolulu airport, but the last part of it was fun as the Australian contingent began to take over and the general volume and interaction level rose. There are something like 200 folks using, with only a handful of us not from Australia. For once, it was fun being the person who dodged oncoming pedestrians in the correct direction.

The flight to Kona was beautiful, with incredible ocean views on both ends. The weather here was overcast, so there wasn't great visibility once we landed. However, the lava is really something - the airport is right in the middle of a small field of it. It's much sharper than I thought, and yet not as purely black, more of a deep brown. It looks like big piles of dark chocolate shavings (I'll come up with a better image to get it across when I'm less tired, and will take some pictures, too).

We piled into the TriTravel bus (both bike and suitcase came!), and rode into Kailua-Kona. The traffic was abysmal, mostly because there's only one lane in each direction.

It was a little bit breathtaking when we first turned onto the "Queen K", and more so when I first saw the energy lab. This is legend territory. Finally, we climbed the last hill into Kona (where Macca saw his dreams come tantalizingly close last year), and desceneded Palani into town. Shane Smith gave a general intro, in lovely Australian "You people who haven't been here before are probably sh__ing yourselves right now". Actually everyone from Tritravel has been great. Ariving at the Kona Islander, I lugged my bags and bike boxes up to my room (third floor, no elevator). We were supposed to wait for the bus to come back from the other hotels for a quick shopping trip, but I was ready to chew my arm off. I recruited a lovely Australian gentleman named Lachlan Deaver, and we headed off on our own for dinner - as another third floorer he had built up a similar appetite helping me get my bike up. We poked our head into the famous Lava Java (wow), but decided we should celebrate our arrival with some sushi and ice cream. We even got to sign an IronMan poster for the owner of Big Island Running (Rigsby beat us to it, so I guess he's here already). Afterwards we walked up to the supermarket ourselves for basic necessities (english muffins, water, etc.). It was a nice walk, and a reasonably cool night. I think the bus folks really missed out. Belinda Granger blew by us on a run, just a very small and dense blur of abdominal muscles. The walk also took us up 'Pay N Save Hill', the first hill right as the run starts. Ouch, it's a reall hill, and deceptively long. Now, safely back in the room, I'm off to bed to try to make up for some lousy jet-lagged sleep last night.

By the way, we're both hoping Lachlan beats me by a good five or six hours on race day, because he's actually in my age group (he got his spot with a 9:59 at Ironman Australia).

Tomorrow morning is my first trip down Alii to the start/finish and Dig-Me beach. Very cool.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Shakespeare's plays were usually performed without backdrops. This is why, whenever the setting changes in one of his works, there's an obvious exposition line, explaining the location. I'm going to go ahead and steal my favorite, from As You Like It. Forgive me, dead white guy, I'm going to paraphrase you:

"So now I am in Kona, the more fool I."

Before my first triathlon, I remember standing in the water, channeling Chevy Chase from Vacation - "This is crazy. This is crazy. This is crazy".

That wasn't crazy. _This_ is crazy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Feet dry

Iron Eagle was a horrible movie, but it taught me that phrase.

I'm in Honolulu, with both my bike box and suitcase, waiting for the hotel shuttle.

On my way

The beautiful doc woke up early to bring me, the bike, and a big heavy duffel to the airport. It was pretty scary turning over the bike to Delta, but I've done everything I can do make it arrive in one piece and on the same flight.

Now I'm hanging in the Crowne Room, gloating because I'm not in a suit. I have the rest of season three of The Office to watch on the plane, and some pleasure reading. If all goes well, I'll be touching down around eleven hours from now.

Thanks to everyone for the emails (josh_berman @, they've been coming in all night and morning. It's nice to know I'm not in this one alone. I'll do my best to make you proud.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The bank is closed

Okay, folks, that's it. I leave the day after tomorrow, and I'm as ready as I'm going to be.

My fabulously talented bicycle mechanic, Curtis Henry, has helped me pack my bike for the flight. I'm going to swim tomorrow, but I'm not running again until I set foot in Hawaii, and then only enough to keep me peaked. There's no more I can put 'in the bank' to withdraw on race day.

So how far have I managed to swim, bike and run since starting the blog? This far:

2295 miles

276 hours and 44 minutes

A long way, and a long time

Now, there's just 140.6 miles to go, and 17 hours to get there

Friday, September 14, 2007

Back in the saddle

I'm training again. In fact, I had my biggest week ever in terms of time. In the past week, despite taking two rest days, I put in seventeen and a half hours swimming, biking and running. This included a hundred mile bike ride (called a century), and an eighteen mile run.

My volume is back up, but I definitely lost some endurance with the time off. That run should have been my second twenty mile run, and the century should have been a week ago. With Kona four weeks from Saturday, these differences matter.

I'm right on the bubble in terms of successfully completing the course under the cutoffs, but I really, really appreciate the chance to try.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Local color

Yes, I am officially going nutty without training (the artery needs a few more days to heal), so here's a random thought:

The graffiti in my neighborhood is freakin awesome. For those not in the know, Jen and I live in a neighborhood that a realtor might call 'emerging', and everyone else might tactfully call 'colorful'. I either live halfway between Grant Park and the drive-in, or halfway between the DOD gunnery range and the federal prison, depending on how you want to color it.

It's safe, young and fun, but it definitely has some graffiti around. The graffiti would bother me, except that it's both creative and confusing. Here are my three favorites.

1. There's a tagger in my neighborhood who tags new houses and dumpsters outside remodels. He always paints the same thing, a pig with dollar signs for eyes. A political statement, done with grace and art. I have to give credit to this creative act of civil disobedience.

2. For the past few weeks, someone has been writing this in big letters on a couple of overpasses and open walls, "Get money. Be money." Affirmations for the artist? A statement about greed? A ritual to make it happen? Who knows.

3. My absolute favorite is eastbound on Decatur Street, just west of Son's Place (Yum). It just got painted over so it's harder to read, but someone painted the following on the Marta train supports. It was in huge letters, spread over two of them.

"Beware the chickenhawk motherf*er"
"Messing with the space time continuum bulls*t"

I think it's good advice for everyone, and I hope the author manages to keep escaping the chickenhawk long enough to explain more to us.

August training volume

How about some actual training? The amount is lower because of all of the dental fun, the purple, and the last week of August, where every day's workout consisted of 'don't exercise, don't bleed out'. Still, I managed to get some real quality training in. Almost every mile of the bike was either up in the gaps or repeats climbing Kennesaw Mountain, and most of the running was off of the bike.

Swim 11.53 miles (7h 53m 46s)
Bike 222.83 miles (21h 53m 22s)
Run 81.51 miles (18h 37m 43s) (plus 13 minutes of stress testing on the "Bruce" protocol)

I meet with Matt tomorrow morning to readjust the final few weeks of training based on the latest limits (no more high heart rate training at all). I start to workout again Wednesday (light), and Thursday for real.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Great News!

The cath went better than we had even hoped. No balloons, no stents, no occlusions. I'm out for 5-7 days while the artery heals, but the training resumes then, and Kona is on!!

Thank you so much to everyone for your support and thoughts. It made a huge difference. Hopefully, this'll be the last drama before the big finish.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's been one of those months...

I'm working on becoming a more interesting story. I've actually gotten some training done this month, but I've also had my share of ridiculous interruptions:

First, I had a root canal. You know when you say something is as bad as a root canal? It's not. Then, I had two teeth extracted (with bone grafts), and some gum surgery in the same area. That's as bad as a root canal, and then some. I had an ugly looking reaction to the antibiotic for that one, which really put a damper on things for a while.

Now, I've managed to fail a stress test, and the above looks pretty simple and silly compared to that. I have cardiac catheterization on Thursday here in Atlanta, and I'll know more then. Here's the whole story, in Q and A format:

Q: Why the stress test in the first place? Are you holding out on us?
A: The log from my July 21st 5K AT test run included "a breakfast repeat, and several minutes on the side of the road trying to decide whether I was dying (I wasn't)." I wasn't too worried, because it was a ridiculously hard run for me. My AT is 157 beats per minute or so, and I averaged over 170 for the first two miles before having the episode. However, Jen didn't like my symptoms there - chest constriction, dizziness, whiteout, near LOC, and more. She convinced me to go to a doc. He thought that I had enough risk factors besides the episode - my mom's shiny new pacemaker from April, my dad's addiction to Lipitor, the fact that all the men on my dad's side have been murdered 'Clue style' by their wives (Mrs. Berman. In the Kitchen. With the chopped liver.), and my own unkown cholesterol levels. He got me the stress test and ordered the lipids.

Q: How did you 'fail' the stress test?
A: I actually felt fine, and thought I had aced it. I got a thalium injection, and they took 'before' pictures. I did the Bruce protocol, and lasted 13 minutes, when 6 minutes is the pass/fail line. I had zero symptoms, and they stopped the test because they hit the target heart rate (also 157). The experience was much easier athletically than getting my AT testing done. The doc administering the test wouldn't tell me much, but the only EKG finding was increased T amplitude post-exercise, which is pretty normal. They took the second set of gamma pics of my heart, and I went about my day. I got a call from my doc a few hours later, who had gotten a call from radiology. I failed the second set of pictures.

Q: So what's wrong with you?
A: Dunno exactly. We know that, in the after pics, the bottom of my heart wasn't getting all the blood it needed. So, there's some ischemia (inadequate blood supply) in the area served by my right coronary artery. The fact that it only showed up in the after pictures means that there's no damage to my heart muscle itself from it, so it's called reversible ischemia (that also means that what happened on the 21st wasn't a heart attack, just a transient event). The most common cause is plaque build up in one or more of the branches of the artery. My lipid panel came back the same day, and my cholesterol is not so hot. My HDL is an athlete-worthy 61, but my LDL is out of control, despite the wee bit of exercise I do. That also leads the doc to think that plaque is the likely culprit, and he got me some lipitor to start last night. Other options would be vasospasm, a dissection of the artery itself, electrical problems leading to inadequate efficiency, and a few other options less likely. Tomorrow's catheterization will answer most of the questions.

Q: What are they going to do?
A: Cardiac catheterization is a really routine procedure, where they'll stick a long catheter from my femoral artery (thigh) up to the back side of my heart, where the arteries feed it. They'll fill the left side of my heart with more dye, so they can find their way around and measure flow. They'll check each branch for constricted flow or other fun. If there's constriction from plaque, but the arteries are less than 50% occluded, they'll likely just pull the thing back out of my thigh and tell me to keep my nitroglycerin handy and stay on aspirin and lipitor. If there are more occluded arteries, they'll inflate a balloon at the end of the cath to open the blocked artery (angioplasty), and leave a stent there to prop the artery open. If it's really occluded, or affects multiple arteries, they'll stop and I'll get a bypass ('cabbage' to docs, because it's a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft). Everyone thinks this is really unlikely in my case. If there's something else going on, they have a good chance of seeing it because the cath is first and foremost an imaging exercise to see all the arteries themselves, and the heart pumping. If they need to, they can dilate or constrict the arteries chemically to test my body's reaction. I'll be given amnesiac conscious sedation (yum, versed) so I'll be calm, and won't remember anything afterwards.

Q: Really, what are the IM chances?
A: Dunno, but I'm going to say very good. If they just pull out the cath because there's only minor plaque constriction, then I'm out of the hospital Thursday night, and I have a good shot at going back to training in a week. Can I finish missing a week in peak? I don't know, but I can try. If another scenario happens, like angio, or something more invasive to solve another problem, then there are just too many variables to know now. One day at a time.

Q: Silver lining?
A: Lots. My cardiologist and my beautiful wife agree that triathlon generally, and iroman specifically, probably kept me from having a heart attack. Without the training, I never would have stressed my heart out enough for symptoms before things had gotten much worse. Heck, I was even wearing my fancy new garmin heart rate monitor on the 21st, and I went over it line by line with my cardiologist yesterday (there are a couple 'holes' in the recording, which may be fibrillation, weak beats, or something else - very, very interesting with hindsight). Also, my overall good fitness will make the procedure much, much easier in the cardiologists' view. Finally, I probably wouldn't have even gotten my cholesterol checked. I'm a non-overweight non-smoker who exercises more than ten hours a week. In the 200+ hours I've worked out since March, I only had the five minutes or so of symptoms in that one 5K.

I'm doing okay, scared but not terrified. Jen's going to be there all day with me tomorrow, and that helps a lot. I love my wife. She continues to be my hero, holding my hand and answering my million questions. I'm still scared and a little blown away that, given my exercise, diet and general studliness, I have ischemia at all. However, with her by my side, I know that this isn't that big a deal, that a million people in America have been cathed, and that it's something we are likely not even to be thinking any more about in a month. She's not scared, so I'm sucking onto her strength for a few days.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Fear (footnote)

This is today's Runner's World quote of the day:

 "Fear is probably the thing that limits performance more than anything - the fear of not doing well, of what people will say. You've got to acknowledge those fears, then release them."

Mark Allen

(Mark Allen is a multiple Ironman Champion)

Good timing. The acknowledgement last week has actually done wonders for me. Part of this has just been the support of friends and fellow athletes. Part of it, though, is just like Mark says. Naming my fears has helped me to work on releasing them.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The new phonebooks are here!

The 2007 USATriathlon rankings are out. I'm not quite near the top, but it shows how far I've come in a year.

The rankings are of course an ordering, but they also include a raw score which is roughly the average winning time as a percentage of your finishing time.

In 2006, my final ranking was 4664 out of 4695 Men between 35-39 (bottom 0.7%) . My score was 48.58, which means that I took a little more than twice as long to finish a triathlon as the winners did (2.06x).

In 2007 (so far), my ranking is 4021 out of 4583 Men between 35-39 (bottom 12.3%). My score is 57.98, which means that I take about 72% longer than the winners do (1.72x).

Again, I'm not going to win any age group awards at that kind of ranking, but it helps me to remember that the improvement is coming. Considering that the top 2% or so of each age group qualifies for Hawaii, it also is a good reminder how lonely it's going to be at the back of the pack there. For example, if I had my exact times and was 79 years old, I still wouldn't be in the top 10% of my age group nationally. There's even an 81 year old man who has a higher score (62.9). There are some tough dudes who do well what I do stubbornly.

July training volume

July was a much more productive month - it's amazing what Matt has gotten out of me:

Swim 18.53 miles (11h 57m 08s)
Bike 365 miles (29h 11m 54s)
Run 83.75 miles (18h 18m 58s)

The race is ten weeks from Saturday!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shopping list

On a lighter note, here's the Kona shopping list from last year, stolen from their media guide.

Food & Drink
140,000 pounds of ice
100,000 gallons of fluid replacement, cola, water and soup
21,000 packets of PowerGel
7,500 energy bars
24,000 cookies
7,000 bananas
5,000 oranges
3,500 bread rolls

300 cellular phones
50 land line phones
30 pagers
9 Fax machines

54 motorcycles
50 surfboards
28 vans
25 patrol boats and kayaks
25 cars
12 trucks
4 buses
2 outrigger canoes

10,000 race programs
10,000 posters
300 badges
160 trophies

9 portable cameras
8 drivers
5 motorcycle cameras
1 camera-equipped helicopter
2 cranes
1 jib

Misc Supplies
250,000 paper cups
50,000 sponges
53,000 bike bottles
15,000’ mesh fencing
8,400 safety pins
10,000 gear bags
3,500 tables & chairs
3,500 towels
4,000 wrist bands
2,300’ metal barricades
1,700 trash cans
1,800 swim caps
1,800 run numbers
1,800 bike numbers
889 jars of petroleum jelly
600 bottles of sunscreen
300 bike racks
300 massage tables
125 coolers
200 cots
100 luas
200 ice chests
55 tents
40 tiki torches
25 computers
18 bleachers
12 printers

I especially like the cookie figure. 24,000 is enough to give one to every man, woman and child who lives on the big island. I figure I'll eat about half of them myself.

Fear (without loathing)

Okay, so I spend most of my Ironman training time afraid to some extent. I figure by writing it down, I can at least name some fears, and you can see that it's not always fun and bravado.

While running, I'm afraid of two classes of things. The first is creepy-crawlies. From bears to bees, snakes to spiders, I have images of being the first guy felled in whatever park I'm running through. It's funny, because I love being in the woods. I love the sound (or lack thereof). I love the dappled light coming through the trees, the different experience of running on soft surfaces. I love the thought required in putting each foot in a good landing spot, compared to the road slogging. Yes, I even love the wildlife. In Montana, I startled a buck coming around a corner behind a huge rock pile - it was beautiful that close (really, really friggin close). I saw a huge Georgia turtle yesterday, a few feet across, wondering why I was going so slowly. I love watching the butterflies this time of year, which I never really appreciated before moving down here. And yet, I still see a bear over every hill, a snake under every dark rock, and a yellow jacket nest hanging from each tree.

The second class of fear is the 'random misstep'. Most of y'all know my beautiful wife, and know that she took a funny step warming up to play tennis last summer, and spent the entire summer and fall nursing a Jones fracture that still predicts the weather. Another relative broke a foot walking down the sidewalk, and devastated their shoulder going down stairs that they had gone down thousands and thousands of time before. My worst training injury for my last marathon was tripping over the dog and falling down the stairs. In yesterday's long run, I put down each foot about 15,000 times. It just amazes me that I can do that, tired and dehydrated, and still remember to point the toes forward and put the flat part down. Especially since I consistently stub my toe between bed and bathroom in the middle of the night.

Biking is a whole new level of fear for me. It's possible to hurt myself running, but, in general, I figure the result would be not being able to finish (or start) the Ironman in October. On the bike, I worry about permanent, life changing injury. As a kid I would fly down whatever hill I could find. My friends and I would play 'Chinese downhill' on our bikes, trying to knock each other over. In the summertime, we would be biking down to the harbor, and would be wearing life jackets for sailing. With these on, we were truly invincible (yeah, it was the 70's not even professional hockey players were wearing helmets yet). I had some bad falls, but basically just bounced and rolled. Now, I know that those falls would be a major problem. My helmet feels pathetically light, and the rest of my body is totally unprotected. Combine that with real speed (I've topped 40mph), feet clipped in to the bike, and a lack of experience, and I'm thankful every time I finish a ride in one piece.

And then there are cars (and motorcycles). Even these days I drive more than I cycle, and I understand how things look different with two tons of steel around you. That said, I've been honked at (a lot), crowded (a lot), and blown around (a lot). There are a few roads I ride on that have semi traffic. Despite what Breaking Away would have you believe, trucks are not fun. They put out a huge wall of wind, and generally are wide enough to make the space pretty tight. I'm highly reflective, and incredibly defensive. I've gone off the road several times, or stopped, just to defuse a situation. I'm super careful, but I'm constantly afraid every time I hear an engine behind me, or see someone approaching on a side road.

Lots of people are terrified swimming, of drowning, sharks and snapping turtles. For some reason, I'm not. I consider myself lucky.

Failure and Looking Like a Buffoon
There's not a person who reads this that runs as slowly as I did yesterday. I had a mile, near the middle of a hot day, that took me fifteen minutes. Just try to shuffle that slowly - it's really hard. There are lots of times when I think I have no business at all attempting Kona. Sister Madonna finished it at 76 last year. Former SD Governor Frank Farrar has completed more than 25 Ironman races over the age of 65, on a 30 year old 'temporary' replacement knee. Sarah Reinertsen completed it as an above the leg amputee. And then there's me. People that have found out I was going to Kona have actually thought that I qualified. A lifetime of smoking, eating and sitting on my behind doesn't show. I'm just that slow guy, doing what everyone else is doing, with more sweat and jiggle. I'm going to be very, very close to the cutoffs in Kona, if I make them. Unlike Sarah (who missed the bike cutoff her first time around), I don't get a second chance. I'm afraid of going through all this expense, time, stress and risk, and then just plain not being able to do it. Yep, real fear there. It's made worse because I know what an opportunity it is to race in Hawaii, and the responsibility it entails to honor the luck that is bringing me there.

There's also a more subtle fear, that comes from hanging with elite athletes. I'm a little softer, and a lot rounder, than a lot of these folks I see more often than I used to. Things that are natural to them are complicated procedures or complete mysteries to me. If there's a wide shot of the athletes lining up on the pier that October morning, it'll be awfully easy to find me. I'll be the pale non-zero-body-fat guy, with the fear in his eyes. I'm the guy who doesn't know how to fix this or that on his bike, has never done a serious swim in the ocean, and who has only run three marathons and finished two half-ironmans. Imagine for a second they were auctioning off Boston symphony violin positions to newbie violinists like you. There's a performance fear, but there's also the fear based on the fact that you wouldn't know how to open your case, or how to take care of your violin. That you'd hold it wrong, and would hear the rest of the orchestra snicker while you fought to assemble your music stand, that everyone but you had set up thousands of times. It's that fear, of being the idiot in the room, that strikes when I'm out with other trigeeks, or swimming in public.

So that's it. I have fear. I deal with it. Lance is often attributed a quote that the Marines used for years before he was born - "Pain is weakness leaving the body". I love this quote, especially when my legs get tired. My corollary is "Fear is limit leaving the body". Every time I run past a hole, bike past a car, ask a stupid question, or take off my shirt in public, I'm stretching my boundaries, and knocking something else off the list of things I'm too afraid to do.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Warning - Spandex Ahead!

Some pictures for y'all from the Macon Rock 'N Roll Half Ironman:

Biking (last ride on the old bike, I'm more aerodynamic on Ferris)

Finishing (check out the guitars in the back, and the Kona wave)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Okay, here's the report from Macon... My final time was 7:19:38, which put me 351st out of 420 competitors.

Pre-race routine:

Spent the night in Macon with my pop, wishing for the rain to stop. Hit the Olive Garden, which wasn't an original idea, but wasn't too long a wait.

Event warmup:
Up at 4:30, McD's coffee, unpack and triple-check transition area. Wait for wetsuit announcement (legal!), fight with wetsuit, take a quick dip, and try to calm back down. The rain stops just as we're setting up, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief after obsessing about lightning cancellation all night.

SWIM 1.2 MILES, 44:01
A great swim for me - It's hard to believe that I managed to be in the top 75%. I appear to have a left hook in my 'straight swim', but it worked for me here. It pushed me way outside the line, which meant I was by myself almost the whole way. Also, this was my first OWS with ear plugs, and I'm ready to buy the company. No dizziness at all. I'm not fast, but I was consistent here, just pausing once about halfway through to get my bearings.

What would you do differently?:
I'm really happy with my swim progress, and feel like I'm getting there. I definitely need more time in open water, to work on swimming straight, but I can't complain about a time like that (for me). The time was actually a little faster, because the mat was after a decent uphill run to T1.

This was fine, although I couldn't find my sunscreen (some Fergie-head took it). No sunscreen folks either, so I'm fried today. I took in a little fluid, and felt good about the whole thing.

What would you do differently?:
I don't see much need to try to get another minute here, but I think I'll get better at not having to double and triple check everything before leaving.

BIKE 56 MILES, 3:33:36

Despite doing pretty well, I just wasn't feeling it. I couldn't find a spot on the seat that worked. In addition, swimming in the first wave and having a good swim meant that I ended up getting passed the whole day. It's funny, because my time was good (by my standards), but getting passed constantly made me feel like it was worse than it turned out to be. I'm a full mph and a half above IM cutoff pace, so I'm still super pleased. I can't wait to switch to the new bike.

What would you do differently?:
I just need more time in the saddle, more strength for the hills, more flexibility, and better nutrition strategy. Other than that, I'm ready for anything.

Again, I don't feel a need to crank this up. The extra thirty seconds was changing into clean and dry socks (glad I did), and some time finishing my last gatorade bottle. I did assume they'd have at least sunscreen spreaders here (was spoiled by NA Sports), so that was dumb of me.

What would you do differently?:
Seemed fine to me. Scratch that - backup sunscreen hiding somewhere (he says, with back on fire).

RUN 13.1 MILES, 2:53:54
The people were very nice. It was hot, though, and no shade at all. I got some bad blisters on my feet from pouring water on my head (dumb - how do I always forget that happens?).
I had major stomach issues on the run, especially in the start. I couldn't raise my pulse without burping and retching (sorry, ladies), and my trisuit was about to pop because my belly was so distended. I didn't know if it was too much or not enough water/salt/food/etc., so just lived with it, walking most of the first 6 miles or so. In a race like this, I'm not devastated by that, because I know these things happen, and I'm glad that even during that time I was walking at a better-than-Kona-cutoff pace. I just need to do some work on my end of bike and beginning of run nutrition strategy.
Finally, around mile 9, I found a great walk/run partner. We alternated cones and mailboxes in, and she saved me from a long, long walk.

What would you do differently?:
I've got to come up with a better nutrition plan that doesn't leave me pregnant and sick on the beginning of the run. I also need to remember that cooling myself doesn't need to mean soaking my shoes and socks and having to limp in on nasty blisters.
This sounds negative, but I would describe the run as 'hard' for me, rather than 'bad' for me. I had a tough day, but I sucked it up, and actually ran right at my overall rank (better looking at just men - proof that women are smarter?)

Warm down:
I'm normally a huge post-race eater, but, even though there was free beer, my stomach just wasn't having any. So, I packed up pretty quickly, and drove home to kiss Jen before she went back to work. Ordered in a ridiculously big pile of sushi and put my feet up.
I have some blisters, which aren't that bad today. My sunburn is really, really ugly looking on my back and shoulders (second time in two friggin years). It's by far the most painful thing I have going on today. I'm really considering wearing short sleeves in Kona just to avoid this problem.

What limited your ability to perform faster:
This was a pretty balanced effort for me. I need more 'race day' practice, especially with nutrition and 3-sport pacing. I'm working hard to get it, and to improve my base.
Oh yeah, I improved by more than half an hour from a MUCH easier HIM last year in Florida. I'll take that as an unqualified win.

Event comments:
There was a start delay of about fifteen minutes because the swim course wasn't set up. That surprised me, because the event was really well run other than that.
Also, for a geek like me, it was a shame they weren't selling any logo gear (no new HIM hat for me). They did have Henry Forrest there selling T-shirts. He came in 7th in the (first ever) 1978 Ironman. He had an original 78 t-shirt there with him, too. It was screen printed on the back of an old marine corps t-shirt of his. Everyone had to bring their own shirts to be printed. He was really, really nice, and we had a nice long chat about the spirit of the ironman. He even let me fondle the first ever ironman trophy (John made his first because he had to leave a few days after the race). It really put me in the mood of appreciating the opportunity to move my body, and participate in these fun events.
This is not an easy race, and it is open to traffic. If neither of those scare you off, and you like a smaller event (450), then this is a nice and inexpensive trip to make.

I have a coach!

I'm no longer going into this blind.

I've always been self-coached (read, stubborn and opinionated), but this one is just too big for me to do on my own. So, since finding out about the lottery spot, I've been coach shopping. The thing is, most coaches are either not coaching the back of the pack, or not adding much value. I've been talking to other racers and coaches, and I finally found a coach who is a match for me. He's as much of a tri-geek and geek in general as I am, and yet he's willing to add me to his stable of pros and elites, and help me get around the course in Kona.

His name is Matt Russ, and he owns The Sport Factory, a local athletic coaching organization. Here's the bio from his website:

Matt has over seventeen years competitive experience in running, multi-sport, and adventure racing. He has competed in races from coast to coast winning overall placements as well as many age division finishes. He is a member of the 07 USA duathlon Team.

Matt has trained, coached, and counseled hundreds of athletes over the last thirteen years from around the country and internationally. He has worked with pro level athletes and top age group competitors in Iron Man, 70.3, cyclo cross, mountain biking, Xterra, and road cycling. His athletes have won numerous podiums both regionally and nationally. He has designed cardiovascular training plans for elite military, law enforcement, FBI agents, top ranked boxers, and the Land Rover Adventure team.

Matt earned his BS in Commercial Recreation from Georgia Southern University and has received an ACE certified level II personal training certification, an ACE certified weight management consultant certification, AAFP Post rehab specialist certification, and has specialty recognition from ACE in strength conditioning. He has over ten years experience working in a rehabilitation setting with Body Pros physical therapy, as well as a licensed power coach. He is an expert level USA Triathlon coach, and is a USA Track & Field licensed coach. In 2001 Matt was one of the first outside coaches contracted by CTS ( Carmichael Training Systems) to coach their athletes. He worked with legendary coach Chris Carmichael ( coach of Lance Armstrong), and was trained in his coaching methodology and systems. Matt also underwent certification in Joe Friel's Ultrafit Association.

Matt is a freelance writer and his articles regularly appear in such magazines as Triathlete, Inside Triathlon, Running Times, Triathlon Life, and on the web at, Tri Newbies, Beginner Triathlete, Trifuel, and Triathlete Online.

Matt coaches athletes full time and is Head Coach and owner of The Sport Factory. His coaching philosophy is to consider each client's unique life style and integrate a balanced and consistent training plan.

We've been working together for a few weeks, and it's already made a huge difference. My mileage is ramping up, and yet I'm less sore (mostly). He's been working on form and Vo2max training, and analyzing each workout beat by beat (I've been wearing a gps-based heart rate monitor, that also records pedal strokes on the bike). He's been encouraging and realistic, and so far so good.

Thanks to mom for making this one happen - I wouldn't have done it on my own, and it's really going to make a difference.

Yep, still going...

Okay, so maybe a month and change went by between posts... My bad.

Since the last update, I've gotten in:

Bike 342.44 Mi - 22hr 37m 52s
Run 84.64 Mi - 16hr 53m 7s
Swim 18.89 Mi - 12hr 38m 28s

It's been creeping up, both in terms of hours and distance, as I had recovery and a trip early in June.

I'll backpost a report from Macon, and post other updates more regularly. Thanks for sticking with me.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Miles and miles, and then STOP

Okay, I have a big race on Sunday.

I'll be doing the Rock N Roll Man half ironman in Macon, GA. That's a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile ride, and a 13.1 mile run. I don't need to set a speed record, but I do need to finish it to validate my spot for Hawaii. I did one of these last year, and finished with 7 minutes to spare. I do hope to do better this year.

I can do it, and I'm treating it like an "A" race, practicing all the aspects of getting ready and performing in a big (for me) event.

That means, that after miles and miles of biking, running, and swimming, I cut way back in the weeks leading up to the event. I still move around as often, but gone are the four hour bikes, two hours runs and hour swims. Instead, it's just quick 20 minute or half hour workouts.

It's really, really hard on me, but I just keep telling myself over and over again that I can't improve my fitness in the two weeks before a race. It takes that long for your body to adapt and improve from a workout.

So, it's been quiet. I can't wait to ramp the mileage up again over the next month.

I did pick up a new bike, with the blessing of my beautiful and supportive (did I mention beautiful?) wife.

It's also beautiful, but in a completely different way:

I won't be riding it on Sunday, because everything from shifting to the actual geometry of the bike is different, but it will be a huge help in the winds of Hawaii.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Just Checking In

Okay, a busy week, but I got my last build week in before being out of town all of next week.

Fourteen and half hours! Even though more than nine of it was over the weekend, that still means I got in an hour of training each day. That's a good week.

Because I'm supposed to work to my weaknesses, the bike and swim increases meant a little cutback in running (distance). I'm not as worried about that, and should be able to get in at least a few runs next week while I'm away.

Last week's training volume:
Swim 6806 yards: 2 hrs, 49 minutes, 4 seconds
Bike 146.2 miles: 9 hrs, 11 minute, 47 seconds
Run 13.3 miles: 2 hrs, 28 minutes, 45 seconds

Monday, May 7, 2007

Big Bike Weekend

On the other end of the spectrum from rest days are breakthrough workouts. These are the days that you really push your body, stressing it out to the point where it has no choice but adapting.

This weekend was a breakthrough bike weekend. I did two metric centuries (100 kilometers). On Saturday, I rode the course from my upcoming Half Ironman (Rock N Roll Man) in Macon. With my wrong turns, the 56 mile course turned into a 65 mile hill ride.

Sunday morning, I somehow got back on the bike and did another 62 miles around Palmetto, Georgia with the Ride for Health folks. I slowed down a mile per hour (average), but I made it through.

So I did 128 miles of biking this weekend, and stressed by body out. All of a sudden, the 56 mile ride Half Ironman ride doesn't seem nearly so intimidating, and I'm almost ready for a century (100 miles). Rest day today, and then back into the routine. I have one more build week, and then a recovery week while I travel for work.

Last weeks training volume (through Friday - doesn't include the above rides):

Swim 5056 yards: 2 hrs, 12 minutes, 7 seconds
Bike 78.25 miles: 5 hrs, 1 minute, 51 seconds
Run 17.1 miles: 2 hrs, 20 minutes, 18 seconds

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Winning and Losing

There are three things you're not allowed to say within a hundred miles of Jen's childhood home:

"Wide right."
"Forward pass."
"No goal."

For the uninitiated, these are all official calls in championship games that Buffalo lost - Two Super Bowls and a Stanley Cup finals game. In all of these cases, Buffalo was the second best team in the nation. In all three cases, they were losers that day. Even the biggest Bills and Sabres fans wouldn't say that they somehow won, and celebrate those days as great days in Buffalo history.

So, guess what. In 164 days, I am going to lose the Ironman World Championship. In fact, I am liable to get my behind handed to me. I estimate that, if everything goes perfectly, I'm not going to come in second, or even in the top thousand. In fact, the only person I know will be there that I think I have a decent chance of competing with is a 77 year old nun (really - here she is - she says that she "trains religiously"). If the stars truly align, I may finish in less than twice the time it takes the winner.

So why try? Why do it? Because I'm not racing against any of those folks, not even Sister Madonna. I'm racing myself. I win when I kick my own behind, lose when I stop improving.

I took part in a local sprint (very short) triathlon last Saturday, held in John Tanner State Park. It was a 600 meter swim, an 11 mile bike, and a 5 kilometer run. 261 people finished before me, and only 66 took longer than I did. Sounds like a clear beating, the kind of thing that should have me packing up my bike in silence and heading home, hoping that nobody saw me. Instead, if you had been at the finish, you would have seen me hooting and hollering like the world records were falling. I practically floated across the line, and high-fived the volunteer. Why? I kicked my own behind. Hard. Compared with the exact same race last year:

My swim time improved 19%
My transition from swim to bike time improved 10%
My bike time improved 13%
My transition from bike to run time improved 8%
And my run? My run time improved 31%

Overall, it took me 22 minutes less than it took me last year. That's a 21% improvement in one year. I did that, by working my tail off.

I won. I came. I saw. I kicked some butt.

So what about the Ironman? I've never done it before, so where's my win loss line? There are so many factors, so much uncertainty, what could I possibly set as my goal?

I want to race 140.6 miles in less than 17 hours. That's pretty hard - even in this championship race, 10% to 20% of competitors don't manage it. I don't know if I can do it. I'm going to work as hard as I can. I'm going to hope that Sister Madonna prays for low wind speeds (you can help if you'd like). I'm going to practice changing flat tires, and swim bike and run at every opportunity until then.

It's a tough goal, but I think I can do it. I think I can win. Heck, I think I can win at the Ironman World Championship race. How do you like them apples?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Rest days

Today is a rest day. I'm going to take at least one a week, and more if I need them. The basic idea is get into a pattern of repetitive stress and repair.

I'll work out hard, and my body will give me what I need that day. If I consistently work out in this hard/easy cycle, my body will realize that I'm going to be working out hard regularly. It will then, the theory goes, use the easy days to build up everything from capillaries to muscle and bone. I have 20 or so of these week long cycles between now and Kona, and I'm hoping to make each of them count.

The risk that I work out too hard and hurt myself is actually much higher than the risk that I won't work out hard enough, but it's a very narrow zone between over and under trained. I'm sure I'll spend time on both borders, and will just try correct my course as I go.

My weeks start on Saturday, usually with a race, and end on Friday with a rest day.

The total volume this week was :
Swim 4400 yards: 1 hr, 55 minutes, 37 seconds
Bike 78.24 miles: 4 hrs, 55 minutes, 30 seconds
Run 13.7 miles: 2 hrs, 29 minutes, 18 seconds

I'll be well above twice that by late summer. Wow, it seems like a lot.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

When and where? Can I come?

"Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement - and we will make the goal."
-Jerome Fleishman

The race is Saturday, October 13th at 7:00 A.M., which is a short 171 days from the date of this post (yikes!).

It's on the 'Big Island' of Hawaii (which is also called Hawaii). The swim takes place, and the bike and run start and finish, in Kailua-Kona on the west coast. I'll break down the courses for you another time, but the best place to stay and see would be in Kailua-Kona itself. It would also be possible to stay in Kohala, which has nicer resorts, but it would probably mean an early morning if you want to see the swim. It's quite an event, and there are no tickets to buy.

Anybody and everybody is welcome. This is a big deal for me, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in the 'super bowl' of Triathlon. Even so, I'm a cranky and nervous wreck before the race. Sunday and Monday after the race would be the best days to hang out with me. I'm actually pretty busy in the days leading up to the race (freer earlier in the week), and Jen and I are looking for some alone time ourselves after then. The hotels are usually ridiculously booked, with long minimums. So, that means you're better of coming if you want a Hawaiian vacation anyway. Spend some time, come say hi (you don't know how much it would be appreciated), celebrate, and then continue your vacation. If you're thinking about it, and don't want to surprise me, just drop me a line. I'm not thinking of much else these days anyway.

Yesterday was an 'easy day'. I'll be trying to alternate easy and quality to stay healthy through the summer and fall. It was an 1100 yard swim, and a 6.2 mile easy (slow) run.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Here we go...

Okay, today is as good as day as any to call the first day of training for the Ironman World Championship in Kona. I'll try to provide information in little bites, but here's the basic info:

Today is 'quality swim' day, meaning a long, hard swim at the Y.

1.25 miles, done as 22x100 on 30 seconds or so rest. It takes me around an hour.