Thursday, November 29, 2012

the glory of the hair - IM Cozumel 2012 (part 1)

I must have suffered greatly in another life because this one is absolutely charmed.  Last year we hung out with the 4th pro overall at IMCOZumel and this year he and his lovely bride came just to cheer me on!  The kids were so excited to hear Kristin and Zach were coming back this year and we were all really looking forward to seeing them again.   Unfortunately he'd had a bad year and while he wasn't planning on racing, he didn't feel comfortable telling us that until we dragged it out of him.  He was worried (I think) that we would think less of him.  TBPH, I was totally bowled over by the fact that he would come to cheer me on and thought it was too sweet for words.  I guess the pro are human afterall - it is just their times that are superhuman. 

I have a superstition of always doing something new on race day.  Last year it was the race itself, a new bike seat and nutrition.  This year I went in having eaten (or kept down) virtually nothing for 2 to 3 days previous, plus new nutrition, brand new shoes and lube.  I have to laugh at all the RRs with folks setting alarms and eating in the middle of the night on race day.  When you get to the insomnia portion of old age, you NEVER interrupt sleep.  Considering I wasn't keeping food down anyway, I wasn't about to start a new practice of waking myself up to try to eat something.  I figured I'd go in like a bear does winter.  I have nice coat of fat to live off.  Should work in theory anyway...

I really wanted to do the Saturday swim practice as I'd been off the bike and run since the previous Sunday and had not swum since the previous Monday.  Pretty much I was screwed, but I wanted to see if I had anything in my arms.  Dayum, but the water was rough on Saturday.  Much worse than race day (at least to my recollection).  I did as much as they allowed (most of the course was closed except 2 bouys) and then waited for Zach to finish psyching out his competitors before heading home.  After the swim I completely released myself from any expectations.  I knew I was going to swim slow, and quite honestly, I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  Well, my ego would MAKE me finish unless I could not make forward progress, but I expected it could get super ugly.  After the swim while chatting with Jamie (an ex-teammate of Zach's) and Zack, Jamie suggested that if the conditions were the same the next day, he could see people needing the entire 2.5 hours (or whatever they give us; I have YET to attend a prerace meeting in any language) and I thought he was crazzeeee.  Those pros live in a different world and I figured he was pretty out of touch with we mere mortals.  Crow does taste pretty good after all! 

I had previously, before getting sick, hoped for top 10, but looking at the bevvy of fast old farts that entered this year, I wasn't sure that would happen.  Yes, I had the audacity to stalk their times of past IMs and HIMs to figure out what they would likely do and it seemed that the top 20 were sub 11-hour IMs.  Dayum, 50+ is getting competitive.  But I still hoped for top 10.  I also wanted to better my time from last year.  A lady who lives on Cozumel, who is responsible for getting me into the sport by simply inspiring me, took 1 hour off her time each year so I figured I should be able to do that too.  Course, she started at about 14 or so hours and is 10 years younger... details, details...

Race day morning I still couldn't hold down a GU.  I was, however, able to eat and hold down a banana so I radically changed my nutrition plan to (ta dum!!) BANANAS!  I figured in the old days they did all kinds of crazeee nutrition and I was just going to take some inspiration from old skool.  I had a banana for breakfast and a sip of Perpeteum and hoped I'd be able to drink it on the bike, ASSuming I made it to the bike.  I did a LOT of ASSuming.  Still do.  My sister, BIL, 2 nieces, my mother and father (83 and 77), my 4 kids (18, 16, 13 and 11) and Dearest Husband In the Free World accompanied me to the swim start. I was pretty bummed because I was sure I wasn't going to finish and I honestly wasn't sure I'd even finish the swim but dayum, you have to at least TRY, right? Water looked calmer than the day before. Ray of hope #1. I took it out SUPER easy. I didn't work hard at all, I really just wanted to finish around the same time as last year (denial again) and not get pulled out. I took about 15 minutes longer than last year but it seemed to go much faster than last year. Last year seemed to drag ForEver but other than the last stretch of however long (400-1200m?) that seemed to take 20 minutes or so, it went pretty fast and easy in my head. I did manage to swallow water for the first time ever and rounding one buoy someone placed their hand on my head and pushed me directly down underwater (that was confusing as hell) and I must have swum constant Zs after being pushed all over by the waves and current, but it was, at least in hindsight, pretty easy as I took it super easy.

All the way back on that last stretch (I have had it in my head it was only 400m but I've seen accounts of 1200 so who knows) I could only see waves and palm trees.  At one point I saw a bus stuck in traffic but the waves were such that I never saw a bouy.  I tried to stay to the shallow part of the course as I had been advised to do that previously but it sure seemed like this last stretch was especially rough.  The waves seemed to come from all directions and I couldn't hold a straight line to save my life.  I kept aiming for shore, sure I was headed all but directly AT the shore but never seemed to get there.  Finally I thought I saw the palapa roof that marks the end but first we had to avoid a boat that seemed to be directly in the middle of the course.  Maybe I was just WAY off course.  I never expected to be able to see family as I came in, but again, just like in September, I saw them and waved a couple times so they'd know I saw them.  I didn't even try to stand up coming out, just climbed up the stairs like a baby and wobbled down to transition.  

I ran to transition. Last year I was beat up by the swim and too tired to run to transition and honestly, for us old, slow farts, you gotta just wonder, WHY? Stroll and smell the roses! But this year I ran. And felt good. I had gotten hungry on the last stretch of the swim and hoped that would be a good sign. I asked the guy I was running with (at Cozumel the changing tents are a fair piece from the swim exit) what time he had and he very graciously hit buttons on his watch to figure it out. He had 1:28. I was a little bummed because that is really slow but the water was rough so I justified it that way. What ever works. Hey, I got out and made it through one event! I had a GREAT time in the transition tent - the volunteers were so helpful and brought me some Gatorade concoction I had remembered from last year that was like nirvana and this year did not disappoint either. I got 2 more and dumped the nutrition I had (chomps and bars) as I knew they weren't going to happen. Saw the family as I left and headed out on the bike.

before the saga we must have foreshadowing...

I have read a number of race reports and keep reading about people setting alarms and eating at 3am the morning of race day or some crazy hour and then GOING BACK TO SLEEP.  Clearly, these are young punks.  Even if I had been able to keep food down before the race there is no way I'd purposely wake myself up from successful sleep just to eat.  Going back to sleep after waking is a perk enjoyed by the young and no longer in my bag of tricks.  I had also picked the wrong week to stop my asthma long-term meds as I'm still in denial I actually have asthma and decided the way to stop the heart palpitations was to stop the meds.  Hell was going to have to freeze over before I stopped drinking coffee.  That worked somewhat but what really helped was increasing my water intake.  D'oh!  After a couple of attacks that really got the attention of my old folks later, I figured I was risking a heart attack in my dad and went back on the meds.  So lesson 1 for next year, Don't Stop the Asthma meds the week before Ironman.  Who knew?  Really, they should put this in a book or something.

The entire extended family, my sister and her family, my parents and our entire family of 6 all mysteriously came down with either a very quick and violent GI bug or a lingering and nonviolent bug the week before the race.  We were going crazy trying to figure out what food could have felled all 3 families and could not figure out what it could have been.  It never occurred to us that it could be a GI bug as we were all hit so quickly and en mass (with only 1 family being local and the other 2 arriving in Mexico at different points in time).  Just didn't seem possible to be a bug.  I was pretty sure I'd be eating by Friday or Saturday and expected whatever it was to simply get me closer to race weight without any ill effects.  How could I have gotten this old and still be so stoopid?

I started getting worried on Saturday when I still couldn't eat without severe stomach cramps and constant dizziness and nausea.  But to backtrack a bit, my sister, BIL and 2 nieces along with my octogenarian parents, AND Zach and Kristen came down to the venue.  Jesse was staying in town for the jazz festival and the girls had a birthday party Friday night, so I took Pike, the dog, Zach, Kristin and my sister's family over to Cozumel on the early afternoon Friday ferry.  The car ferry is always less rough than the passenger ferry but I was surprised how much we rolled (cue foreboding music).  We had 2 houses rented and both were very close to each other.  One was a giant mansion of 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, 2 salas and a giant kitchen and pool and the other a modest (but lovely) 2 BR house which turned out to be much better stocked than the Big Haus.  We dropped Zach and Kristin at the Little Haus and we began to unload mountains of crap from the van into the Big Haus.

Saturday morning Zach and I headed to the swim venue as I'd always wanted to preswim the course (and it is too costly to visit Chankanab as a tourist) and found the water, well, rather rough.  I was still not eating and beginning to get worried about the entire event.  As I had not swum (or biked or run) since the previous Monday due to sickness, I figured I had to get it and see if my arms still worked.  Strangely they did work and while I felt okay for the 30 minute 200 m swim (it is entirely possible that is an exaggeration but it was quite rough that day) my arms were Very Tired and I was now officially Worried.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

denial and reviews

I am so certain of my imminent Crash and Burn in next week's triathlon that I am cruising on that river and agog with all the pretties my wonderful mules brought me.  So, some reviews are in order.  I had the following items brought to me by my faithful mules (in no particular order)

DeSoto trisuit.  OMG, the saga of this suit will live in (my infamy).  I ordered in late August.  Paid to have it imported directly from Swimoutlet.  The wrong color suit came and I was left without a suit for my HIM in September.  Customer service at Swimoutlet promised they would personally ensure the correct suit was sent out (too late for the HIM, but still) but I (in retrospect) very smartly had it sent to my folks in California instead of paying to import it here.  Wrong suit arrived Again.  Customer service again promises the correct suit will be sent.  Again, to my folks.  Again the wrong suit.  They then figure out they don't have the suit they're advertising on the internet and offer discount if I keep the one I have.  I hate the colors and figure since I am potentially stuck in another country with a suit I didn't order, I'm going to try yet another color combination.  Have it sent to my folks and it is a WINNER!  The exact suit I had been trying to order but in red instead of blue.  After the saga, it is already a win, just by getting a suit close to the one I had been ordering.  I really need to try it in the water and land, but for now I'm just happy to have a suit for sprint.

Aqua Sphere goggle, had mixed reviews but I decided to try them as goggles here have lasted only a few months before developing a hole or melting or other disasters.  Unfortunately, the view was so warped in the water that I got rid of them as soon as I could and went back to my Mexican headache-inducing but nonfoggy, nondistorted view goggles at 1/3 of the price.  Hoping to get a refund once my sister brings them back.  Amazon makes it pretty sweet for return with a UPS pickup or dropoff at your choice.

My swimsuits are getting older and I'm now getting chafing on my pectoral area with my good old Dolphin fuglie and also needed some nonallergenic chamois cream, so I decided to try the highly recommended Queen Helene cream.  So far it was seriously tempered the burn of salt-water chafing from the swimsuit but I'm not sure if the discomfort on the bike was due to old shorts or the new cream.  No hives, so it seems to have passed that particular allergen test.  Very slippery feeling without being at all greasy though.

I am LOVING the camera waterproof housing I got but then realized that the "dirt" I've been seeing in my pictures is apparently a lens scratch that really only becomes most obvious at about 4x zoom.  BUT the waterproof housing is GREAT!

to be continued...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

stick a fork in me, I'm done.

I have been adding to the BT training plan with extra riding and running 6 days a week while the last 2 weeks I've been tired, I've always recovered and thought I had better efforts ontop of hard efforts.  But every day lately, I've felt more and more tired and not looking forward to the training.  I've read enough blogs to know that it is common to be wiped by the training and it seems that folks just soldier on and put in the time dictated by "The Plan".  Today I just couldn't do it.  Didn't have it in me.  Plan called for 3 hours on the bike and 3000 m swim and I just didn't have it in me.  So I gave in to the headache and deep fatigue and rested.  I've been hit with a few days of headache also so this gives me a chance to try and deal with that.  I've also had day after day of palpitations and while they seemed to be induced with the new Guatemalan coffee we've been trying I got off it and the asthma meds (which I know can cause palpitations) and I did notice a day I didn't get them.  Today I'm back with them so who knows.

I think I'm going to try a 2-week taper but honestly I've begun to rethink ALL my training and have come to the conclusion that I've just wasted a year of training with no focus and have no hopes of bettering my time (other than in transistion) this year.  I am hoping I do at least as well as last year on the swim, think I might have a 6:30 bike in me but expect to do about the same on the run (and hopefully not worse).  So either exactly the same or maybe 30 minutes faster.  That said, I'm deep into trying to figure out how to train for next year.  Yeah, I'm already planning to do Cozumel again.  Can't seem to get that race out of my blood (though I'll likely have a much different view in a couple Sundays).

Mom and Dad arrived and muled a SHITLOAD of crap down here.  Got maltodextrin for Jamie (and me), Scratch, some electrolyte tablets and lots of clothes for Sissy and some for Ellen, but the main mule will be my sister's family, who are bringing half an Amazon warehouse.  I think I finally placed my last order on Friday and after this trip my sister may decline the opportunity to visit for the near future.

It has only taken me a year or two but I finally figured out I should be riding intervals and much harder efforts than I have been in order to get faster.  Who knew?  The last couple weeks I've been trying them out and hope that I'll glean a tiny bit of benefit from it.  I also managed to break a toe AFreakingGain swimming.  I always leave a water bottle on the dive boat (to wash the salt out of my mouth after each 750m "lap") and I have managed twice, so far, to break a toe on an unseen giant piece of concrete or rock.  I ran on it immediately afterwards, not sure if it was broken or not, and have had pain all the way down my foot (unlike the last time when my toe just increased gigantically in size and showed all colors of the rainbow).  Still able to run, though, so I guess I just keep doing that and icing it.

I've been working on my cycling pedaling motion and when I keep the image of a steamtrain in my head with the arms that move back and forth on the wheels, it really helps me pedal quietly and efficiently and stops the pedal mashing.  It takes incredible concentration though, so it doesn't last long.  Tomorrow I hope to make up today's missed 3hr ride and 1 hr run.  After a day of lazing about in bed, I should be up for it.  Mentally I'm already checked out though.