Monday, June 16, 2008

17 things I took away from my 1st Ironman

My strategy for Brazil was to have a decent swim, a very conservative bike, and a steady paced marathon. As you can see by my split times, approximately 1:19 swim, 6:30 bike, and 4:25 marathon, I was not particularly good at any single event. However, I never made a mistake during the event in terms of major catastrophes. I remember training with a guy this fall and the one thing he told me that is true of endurance competitions is that it really is not who is the fastest, but who slows down the least. You could do a 1:00 swim, and a 5:00 bike, but if you walk five miles during the marathon you just lost that time you spent exerting yourself in the previous two events. It goes to show you that you can be terrible at three events, but never walk in the marathon and still have an Ironman around twelve hours. Long and slow, there is no rush.

1) I ran my marathon on untested shoes. They were brand new, and I only ran on them for fifteen minutes the day before the race. Turns out they worked fine, but when I took them off after the race I realized they were too small and now I will lose both big toe nails. So wear shoes ½ size bigger than the shoes you train with because after 112 miles of cycling your feet swell and keep swelling until you finish.

2) I raced on an untested nutritional plan. It is a good thing I have a stomach like a goat; I can eat nearly anything and it will not affect my race. Some people have a more finicky stomach and some foods create huge GI problems. So like every magazine/triathlon book says…. Test your nutrition before you race (see #3)

3) Stick to what you know at the aid tents. If you have never done a training run and drank half of a Coke, do not think a soda will save you from the pain you are feeling mid way through the marathon. Skip the cookies, cakes, etc. that the aid stations too. There are no miracle cures. Bring what you trained with that you know works. If you want something sweet or a special soda to drink, throw it in your special needs bag.

4) Only doing one 100-mile ride during my training. I had a solid base of about fifteen 70-90 mile rides but only one that I went beyond 100 miles. I noticed this in my race because at mile 90 I started to lose my legs. If I would have put in the time during my training to get more century rides in I would have had fresh legs at the start of the marathon.

5) The only open water swim I did during my training was in my half Ironman in October. Enough said. If I was smart I would have took my wetsuit with me on one of my trips to San Diego. Open-ocean swimming is a whole other animal. Lakes do not have waves, and swallowing lake water is much easier than stomaching sixteen ounces of salt water.

6) Follow your heart-rate monitor, but your heart-rate monitor (HRM) should not control your race. I found myself glancing at my watch every couple minutes during the bike. After a year of training you should know what zone you are in without looking. And what I have learned about heart rate training and racing is that there are never two days that your HR is the same. If you have a big meal before training your heart rate will be elevated, if you have a squabble with a companion your heart rate will be elevated, nervousness, excitement also raise your HR. Do not get me wrong, listen to your heart rate, but do not swear by it. It is a baseline, not an absolute truth. For example, my HR never was above 135 on the bike, however I trained at 140 beats per minute on every training ride I did. My average HR during my long runs was nearly 140 as well, but on the marathon during the Ironman it was hovering around 120. If I were to push my heart rate to what I trained at I would have blown up and it could have ruined my race.

7) I asked everybody for tips and tricks in Brazil about doing my first Ironman and the majority of people said, “Just have fun!” After doing it, I could not agree more. Ironman is the culmination of an entire year(s) worth of dedication, work, letdowns, and triumphs. This is your day to finally celebrate, so do not take yourself too seriously. It should be a party out there (see #8).

8) Do not take yourself too seriously! There is no reason to have a serious face during the event, not talk to fellow competitors, and freak out with nervousness days before the race. I do not know how many times during the race I tried to start a conversation with someone only to get a strange look from him or her (maybe it was the language barrier ha ha). But really, lighten up people. It is a LONG day, enjoy your time out there and share your fun with other people. When you are struggling half way through the marathon a nice conversation makes a world of difference, and be that difference maker in someone else’s race. Even a slap on the ass gets a good laugh.

9) Talk to other competitors before the event, but take advice with a grain of salt. Not everyone is an expert. You will get annoyed hearing everybody’s miracle mid-race cures, how many century rides they did, how fast they ran their last marathon, how they developed a bullet-proof nutrition plan etc. Listen, but do not listen too hard. I noticed my psyche starting to weaken as I was being overloading with Ironman foes and follies. Maybe it is just me, but hearing Ironman tips from a guy who has never finished a race carries about as much weight as a middle schooler talking about investment banking.

10) Fix small problems before they become big problems. If something even slightly bothers you during training it will only be amplified during the race. If you get a little rash anywhere on your body during a training swim, be prepared to have a HUGE rash on race day. Example: I never had a problem with chaffing under my armpits during other races, but because I did not take the time to cover myself in petroleum jelly/Body Glide I ended up with sores under my arms that hurt the entire race and took nearly a week to heal. Another example would be, when you feel a blister coming on, (keep a safety pin and band-aid with you), pop the thing and cover it with a band-aid. Taking care of these small problems before they turn into big problems just might save the race for you, or at lease make it more comfortable.

11) Slurred speech is not a horrible thing. If you think about it, you have around 2,000 calories of stored energy in your skeletal muscle at the start of a race (in the form of glycogen), you eat about 500 calories before the race, and you eat about 3,000-5,000 calories during the race, but you burn in upwards of 15,000 calories during the race. As you can see the further you get into the Ironman you are operating in a calorie deficit. From what I have researched, your body will shut down different functions in your body that are burning wasted calories in order to save that energy to keep you moving forward in the race. This is why I only remember bits and pieces of my marathon, and why, although still coherent, could barely conjure sentences late in the race. This is normal, your body is transferring energy to extremities that need it most. Think of it like a laptop computer, in order to save power you turn down the brightness on the display, this does not slow down the processing speed in any way, just lightens the power load in order to keep the internal components running longer.

12) The day after the race try and compartmentalize your entire race, your training year, and how the Ironman experience made you feel. It is important to write this down and keep it available. When you are having a tough week and get home and feel like kicking the dog, just pull out your journal/blog etc. and remember that you are an Ironman! You just completed something people only dream about, a feat accomplished by less than 1% of the population! It is a good feeling, and it saves your from kicking canines.

13) Take your time in the transition area! This is a big one. Like I said, if this is your first event you are not trying to break any records here, take your time, get yourself back together, and relax a bit. There is no reason to rush. Stretch, lay on your back, take a nap, eat something, do whatever you need to do to put yourself in the best position to finish the race. Remember the small things, if you rush putting on your socks and you leave a wrinkle in one of them it could lead to the onset of a blister. In the end, a few extra minutes in the changing tent will not kill you, but having a terrible blister and being uncomfortable during any part of the race will add minutes to your final time, and only piss you off that much more.

15) Accept your fate. No matter how many things you read or hear, things ALWAYS go wrong. Accept it, deal with it, and keep moving. You cannot prepare for everything. And best believe, everybody you will talk to about Ironman will always say, “something WILL always go wrong”. Have a plan, but keep it loose. No race is perfect, that is why all of us crazy people keep doing these stupid events.

16) CELEBRATE! Have your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, family member etc. have a special something for you at the finish. Whatever your guilty pleasure is, try and have them bring it to you as you finish. I saw many wives hand their husbands a cold beer at the finish line. I even saw guy hand his wife banana Laffy Taffy. It just makes finishing that much better.

17) Sign up for another one, and attempt to correct all the mishaps you had in the first one.


Good luck to everyone doing Ironman Couer d'Alene this weekend! Email me your bib #'s so I can follow you online!

Thanks again to my sponsors

Jeff and Joleen Ervin
Mike and Sandy Ervin
Dewey and Mary Orr
Dee Ervin
Denise Merten
Betty Crawford
Sam Barnes

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The bike, the marathon, and post-race soreness

Heading out on the bike was a bit tricky. There was about a mile of cobblestone streets to get past before you got out to the course. I actually lost a water bottle because it bounced out of my bottle cage. It was a good thing it was only water, because my other one had all my nutrition in it. My nutrition plan consisted of a bottle full of Perpetuem (about 1,200 calories), three packs of Cliff Shot Blocks, one gel with caffeine in it, and a tube of 12 tablets of Nuun (electrolytes). However, when I lost that bottle at the start of the bike that meant I did not have any water until the first aid station. Riding out on the couse was pretty amazing, Florianopolis is such a beautiful island and I could not help but to gaze at all the cool scenery I was passing. I actually missed the water bottles they offered at the aid station because I was too busy looking at the beach haha. So I think I went about an hour and ten minutes without drinking any fluids, whoops. The course was mostly flat with only two major climbs. I sipped on my Perpetuem every thirty minutes, and ate a Shot Block every so often when I was bored. As you could see by my bike time, I was not the speediest guy on the course, I think I may have got passed by the majority of the field, including about 30 guys named Pablo, 20 Juans, 15 Henrich's, and a plethora of other foreigners with similar generic national names. I felt great riding though, I never let my heart rate get above 140 even going up the hills, my strategy was to go super conservative throughout the entire 112 miles. Up until about mile 90 I felt amazing, still going slow, but I could feel fatigue starting to set in. Those last twenty-two miles were brutal for some reason. I was keeping up with my nutrition but my legs started to feel really tight and I could tell I was losing some speed and time. That was also the first time I started to feel really uncomfortable in my bike seat, it felt like it was digging into my pelvis, and in all honesty I just wanted off that damn bike. The last couple hours of the bike the wind started to pick up so I had a pretty good headwind heading back into the expo. I think the difference between my first 56 miles and my last 56 was almost 30 minutes. I think I can attribute that to a lack of 100-mile training rides, wind, and just general fatigue. I knew my bike split was slow, but I figured I would start picking people off quickly into the run.

Boy was I glad to get into transition. Once I got off the bike I could not really run, so I half-walked into the tents to get my running gear. Again there was a guy there to hand me my bags and help take off all my stuff. He was trying to talk to me but the most I could get out was mumbling. I think I was a little disoriented and dehydrated. I slammed a Gatorade in the tent and a gel and headed out on the marathon. After I passed my girlfriend and some of the families at the hospitality house (a house that all the people that went with the Endurance Sports Travel could hang out at during the race), I had a huge cramp in my left leg. I stopped and stretched a bit, re-tied my shoes and went off again. For nutrition I had two flasks of Crank Sports E-Gels each containing about four gels each so about 600 calories in each flask. After I grabbed some water at the first aid station the first loop was a blur. I do remember this huge hill that I had to walk up. The hill was enormous, and I noticed everybody taking their time walking up it, I think running it would have been a huge waste of energy. The run course consisted of one large 22-kilometer loop, and two 10-kilometer loops. The first looped seemed like it flew by, like I said I do not really remember it much. I do know that it probably took me about three miles to get my legs back from the bike course. After that I increased my pace and started to pass some of the people who passed me on the bike. After the first loop I noticed my hamstrings tightening and my knees starting to feel sore. I figured that was pretty normal so I did not pay too much attention to it. On the second loop I stopped and talked to my girlfriend for a bit (because I could use the rest), she said I looked better than most of the people that were coming past. I think she was just being nice, because I knew I probably looked like crap ha ha. On the second loop it started to get dark and I picked up my friend Grant and we pretty much ran with each other till the last mile of the race. He beat me by over an hour on the bike, but he said his shins were killing him but I convinced him to run with me. We kept each other company and the small talk helped the time go by a little easier. During the third loop it was pretty much completely dark. I noticed my speech was pretty slurred and I was starting to cramp again. I did not have any salt tablets or anything, but I knew I had some salt packets in my special needs bag. So when I got the special needs station I dumped about five salt packets into my water and slammed it down. It made me feel better for about twenty minutes then the cramping was back. My buddy handed me some Hammer Endurolytes which are a much better product for getting rid of cramping. Almost instantly I felt better. It was really funny, but I was starting to get emotional for some reason. I would think of finishing and it would make me tear up. My buddy Grant and I picked up another runner on that last loop and he confirmed the emotional thing too. That made me feel like less of a sissy ha ha. But honestly, it happened every twenty minutes or so, I would think about finishing and almost start to cry. Weird. I think at that point it was just my body trying to submit to all the pain or something. I saw the a sign saying only three kilometers left. I felt like I still had something left in the tank and I told Grant ,"Want to sprint to the finish?" He was cool with it so we took off. I assume we were running somewhere around a 7:30 mile pace those last couple miles. It felt great. My leg pain vanished and I could start to hear the crowds cheering, and of course I got emotional again. I could see the lights that lit up the finishing shoot and quickened the pace. Once I got up to the carpet and crossed the finished line I kind of lost it. The emotional thing was pretty new to me so I did not know what to think of it. I walked around for about ten seconds then my girlfriend came up and gave me a huge hug. She was trying to talk to me but I was so out of it I do not think I got one single recognizable word out. I was mumbling again. Finishing was such a surreal experience. I just kept replaying all my training, and all the tough times I had throughout the year and to finally be done flooded me with a bunch of mixed emotions. I cannot even really describe what was going through my head at that point, I think my brain was a little cloudy at the moment and at one point when I was trying to exit the finishing stage I almost fell over. Again, volunteers were there to catch me. (Ironman Brazil had the most amazing volunteers!)

I headed into the food tent but I did not have an appetite. All the pizza looked great, but food was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted a hot shower and a cold beer! I skipped the medical tent and the free massage because the wait was nearly thirty minutes. After I signed the waiver saying I was ok the volunteers handed me my medal and finishers t-shirt. It was official; I was an Ironman! I headed out to the expo so I could watch some of friends finish, but I really just wanted to get the heck back to the hotel. I could barely walk, and lost pretty much all my flexibility. I dropped my shirt and could not even bend over to pick it up. I could not even get up stairs my legs were so tight. I was sore in places that I did not even know I had. My biceps were sore from keeping my arms at a 45-degree angle the entire marathon, and my feet were throbbing (turns out my shoes were a size to small so my big toe nails turned purple). Basically I was being a huge baby. But I really was a mess, I could barely walk, could not get a complete sentence out, started to the get the shakes, and desperately wanted a hot shower and to get out of my stinky, salty, clothes. We headed back to the hotel and sure enough, no hot water. I quickly rinsed off and got in bed to warm up. About an hour later I finally got hungry. My girlfriend and I headed to the local pizza shop to celebrate. They day before the race I bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate, but I figured it would not go down very well so we just settled for some beers. Sorry to say, it only took two glasses to fill inebriated ha ha. But still it was a nice way to finish my Ironman journey.

I will go into some analysis of my race sometime mid-week and go over all the things I took away from the whole experience.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pre-race and the swim

Race night

I was fairly calm on Saturday night before the race (on the outside anyways). Inside I had a pretty good case of the butterflies. I knew I was not supposed to load up on food the night before because you do not really have the time to get it through your system before race day, which did not really matter because I did not have much of an appetite anyway. I did not sleep much that night, nerves mostly. An hour here and hour there, I would wake up and drink some Gatorade, fall back asleep, and soon as I felt like I was starting to get some good sleep my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. Even if I had another hour to sleep I probably just would have just rolled around the bed for sixty minutes. I had a pretty good feeling I was not the only triathlete that did not sleep well that night ha ha.

Race day

Most of the hotel was already up and ready by the time I rolled out of the room. I think my girlfriend was more awake than I was. I did not eat much at the hotel breakfast; a piece of peanut butter toast, a banana, a slice fresh pineapple, a Gatorade, and a cup of Brazilian coffee (more like motor oil). I did not feel hungry, but I felt like I should try and stomach something. I noticed the pros at the table across from me dabbling with their food too so I knew I was not the only one a little nervous.

When I got the expo it was already teaming with athletes roaming in and out of the bike and transition area. When you check in for Ironman you are given six bags, one for your dry clothes that you wear before and after the race, one swim bag to put your wetsuit in after you get out of the water, one bike bag which has your cycling gear, one run bag which has your shoes, hat, etc., one ‘bike special needs’ which you can get at the 56-mile mark (you can put anything in this bag, from food to new socks, pretty much anything you think you may need), and one ‘run special needs’ bag which you can get on the 13.1 mile mark, which is again, just another bag to put stuff you may think you want or need to get you through the rest of the race. So when you get there on race day there are racks with your race number on it that you hung all your bags up so when you come in to transition to the next event you just pick out the bag you need, change, and put your current stuff you are wearing into the same bag (volunteers put the bags away for you). So anyways, I put my bags up, and then went out to fill up my bike tires. At this point I was getting even more nervous. Over the loud speaker I heard “1 hour!” Oh crap this is really happening I thought ha ha. I went back in to the expo, went to the bathroom, put on the wetsuit and headed out to the beach.

The swim

The sun was just starting to come up when I got to the water. I did a short warm up swim just to get loose. I noticed there was a pretty good set of rolling waves till about two hundred meters past the start. I knew that was going to be some trouble. After my little swim all of us athletes were corralled into a starting pin about the size of a football end zone. Talk a barrage to the senses, here I was surrounded by hundreds of foreigners speaking god knows how many languages, waves were lapping on the beach, people were whistling and cheering, there were two helicopters circling, and the announcer was giving instructions in three different languages. It was a tad bit crazy. Once the gun went off everybody started screaming and running towards the water. I placed myself somewhere near the middle of the pack close to the front. I figured it is much easier to get swam over than try to slalom through people trying in order to get position. The swim course was shaped like a big ‘M’, so you go out to the first buoy, turn around come back to the beach, run around a big inflatable power bar and the bottom of the ‘M’, then head out again to another big buoy, turn around and swim back to the beach and head into transition. The gun went off at exactly 7:00 a.m. Once we started paddling it turned into pure chaos. My stroke turned into a doggy paddle pretty much. I would poke my head out of water and look for an open space, swim to it, then do that pretty much all the way to the first buoy (about 900 meters). It seemed like everybody got the buoy at the same time. Basically people were spread out about fifty yards across and once we all got to the buoy everyone collapses into a space that is about ten yards, so again it was chaos. On the way back in I noticed to my right were a few female yellow cap swimmers, this means they were professionals (if you were not a pro you wore white swim caps). So I figured I was doing pretty good. When I got back to the beach I eagerly grabbed water from the aid station because my mouth was numb because of all the seawater I just drank. Heading back out I saw that I was somewhere in the middle of the pack. Here is where things went screwy. Midway out to the second buoy I was having a trouble sighting the big buoy because there were rolling waves that were not huge, but big enough to block your vision. So I would head in one direct poke my head out of the water and see the wave, swim some more, then realize I was off course. At one time I was tapped on the back by one of the guys on a paddleboard because I was heading off course. Because the field was pretty spread out at this point I could not find the safety in numbers like I did on the first loop. I pretty much swam in a huge ‘S’ on the last leg of the swim. I assume I swam about 500 meters extra. I just could not figure out where I was going. When I got out of the water my watch read 1:19. I was shocked! I wanted to be around a 1:05, and that meant I was fourteen minutes slower than I was in the pool just two weeks ago. Not a good way to start out the race. When I got out of the water I slowly jogged into transition, there were volunteers waiting to help take off my wetsuit. Thank was pretty nice, because I do not think I was capable of doing it myself at that point in time. When I ran into transition the volunteers saw my race number on my arm and grabbed my bags for me and one volunteer ran me over to a seat to start changing. This guy was great, he helped put my socks on, my shoes, my race belt, helmet, everything. It was great. I was rather demoralized coming out of the water, but when I got to the bike station I realized I was not the only one who had a terrible swim, because there were plenty of bikes left in the racks. I felt good heading out on the bike course, well as good as I could, I knew I still had 138.2 miles left to get through before I could call myself an Ironman.

I will get to the bike and run portion tomorrow sometime.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Back from Brazil

Hey everybody! Sorry for the long absense, I did not want to sit in an internet cafe to type up a post-race report. I just got in from Rio de Janeiro yesterday and have been trying to get everything back to normal before I move into my new place. The rest of my trip went very well despite bad weather, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my vacation away from triathlons, but I am eager to start training again and preparing for the rest of my racing season. Thanks again to all who emailed me after the race, and to all of those who woke up early to track me throughout the day. My post-race report will be in a multi-part series because I cannot fit it all in in one sitting, but I hope to cover a varrying range of topics in the next couple weeks.

The days leading up to the race:

Within the first few hours of arriving at the hotel in Florianopolis I could tell the island was taken over by endurance athletes. Everywhere there were people riding their bikes and shirtless individuals running throughout the narrow city streets. Since it is mid-winter down there most of the Brazilians were in hiding. I was pretty bummed I did not have my equipment, as I could see everyone was enjoying getting their bikes built and exploring the island. The only thing I managed to do before my stuff arrived was run barefoot on the beach for about thirty minutes, but other than that I was not very active. Most of the days I woke up early for breakfast and ate with all the other athletes, layed by the beach, found a place to have lunch, read, checked my mail, went grocery shopping, ate dinner at the hotel, and went to bed early; nothing too exciting. I blogged about my little excursion on one of the days when I moved down the island for most of the day. But most of the days I just kept it low key and stayed around the hotel. I made some excellent friends in the first few days of arriving and we became meal partners and shared triathlon stories and the like, it made me feel pretty comfortable. The first two days I sat with two German guys and two ladies that were very nice and welcoming. Turns out one of the guys was the pro Olaf Sabatschus. He had just come off a Ironman win only five weeks ago, and ended up getting second overall at Ironman Brazil. Also, turns out one of the ladies I ate breakfast with was Hillary Biscay, and she ended up getting second overall too. So there I was a bright eyed age grouper unaware I was having meals with two of best professional triathletes in the world. Pretty neat huh? Finally on the third day, a guy came up to me informed that I have been sharing stories with some of the best pros competing in Brazil. both Olaf and Hillary were super nice and very unassuming, like I said I did not even know they were pros. They did not boast or brag about their successes, and were very willing to share some tips with me. I thought that was pretty cool. I honestly do not think in any other sport that would be possible. Could you imagine trying to sit down at a continental breakfast with a top NBA of MLB player? I know triathletes are not on the same level as basketball or baseball players in terms of media attention, but honestly, do you think they would let some random guy plop down next to them and ask them a bunch of questions? Probably not. Two days before the race my stuff arrived and eagerly built all my stuff and did a mini triathlon: I threw on my wetsuit and did an ocean swim infront of the hotel, transitioned into running gear, did a short run, transitioned, and rode my bike for about thirty minutes. It felt really good to finally 'feel' like a triathlete and not just a spectator. A simple analogy would be; someone in the Army going to war and upon arrival realizing that you do not have your camo clothes, boots, or weapon, and being surrounded by hundreds of others who DID have everything. Now you can understand why I marooned myself down the island on a deserted beach. It was hard to be excited about the race when I did not even know I would make it to the starting line. However, at worst, I figured if I did not get my stuff I would go the the race expo with a credit card in hand and buy all new stuff to get through the race. I figured I put in WAY too much effort and money to sit on the sidelines.

Thankfully, everything came and I was ready to rock and roll. After my mini triathlon and cleaned up and took a much needed nap, I felt like I could finally relax so sleep came pretty natural. That night was the pasta dinner (aka the carb-loading dinner). The dinner was in a huge expo center beside the transition area. I was by myself and I walked in looking for a familiar face and finally my friend Joe an Ironman vet shuffled me over to a table near all the food (great idea). He said he did Brazil last year and everybody bum-rushes the food and if you are not the first one there you will wait in line and get crappy left overs. He knew what he was talking about, because we were sitting back at our table with plates full of food while the line started snaking around the dinner hall. Joe's coach was also at the table; pro Terry Kerrigan (also the cycling coach of Joanna Zeiger). I picked his brain for the next hour while samba dancers and Brazilian drummers did their thing on the main stage. He knew his stuff, and I will blog about this in a later nutirtion post. I got his contact info so hopefully he can help me with my cycling. The one thing that triathletes do well is share information. But a few times during the night I felt like I was on the brink of information overload.

I managed to learn quite a few things during the week before the race. One main thing I learned is that everybody is different. Everybody has their own strategies that work for them. I have never met a triathlete that trains or eats the same as another triathlete. You will continuously hear people talking about 'miracle cures' that heal mid-race ailments but what works for someone most likely will not work for you. This one guy went into detail about what he puts in his run special needs bag (a bag you put items you think you might need half way through the marathon). He puts a snickers bar, a coke, and bazooka bubble gum. I could not help but laugh, but he swore by it. Other people sware by salt tablets, or drinking chicken soup, or putting salt packets in their water bottle. There are just so many variations of concoctions out there you start to question your own methods. And what is even better is that even the pros that I talked to change their nutrition plan before every Ironman. So, there is no 'one' thing that works, but a combination of various things, and one can only find out what works by trying new things at each event until you finally find something that works. Think of it like nutritional Russian roulette. I will get into my race-day report and some other things I learned in some later posts.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday night in Brazil

Hey all!

First of all... Wednesday and most of Thursday were extremly long! I left Phoenix at 7:00 a.m and got to my hotel in Floripa at 2 p.m. the following day. Unfortunately, my luggage did not make the trip. It just came tonight. But all is well, my bike will be built tomorrow and I will my first wetsuit swim in the morning sometime. I cannot let something of that nature affect me mentally. Today I hired a taxi and went about thirty miles down the island on the east coast just to get away from all the Ironman hoopla. Everybody at my hotel loves to share their secrets to training, tapering, racing, eating, and I think it just clutters the mind. I do not need to hear how many century rides you put in, or how many meters you swam etc. The environment at the hotel is one that could very easily weaken my self confidence, and I could tell I was starting to have some trouble with it. Especially not having my bike, wetsuit, and running shoes to train with I started to think that I was not prepared and did not deserve to be here. Hoopla, that is all it is. Thus my disapperance for the day. I could not train so I figured I would find some lonely beach to compartmentalize my race and get my mind right.

My bike and luggage came right before I left for the Ironman dinner so I did not even have the chance to admire my long lost ´stuff´. I sat with an excellent group of people at dinner, a British couple, 1 pro named Terry from New York, 1 guy from Oslo, Norway, and 1 guy from Chicago. The past few days we have made pretty good friends. I think that is because we are all very low key. Not your typical A-type personality triathletes. No one was over analyzing anything, we just simply enjoyed the food, and enjoyed each other´s company. It was quite nice for a change. Terry the pro from New York is also the Joanna Zeiger´s coach (top female pro). I had an excellent chat with him and he really gave me some great knowledge about everything Ironman related. I will post about this when I get home most likely. Amazing guy though, I learned a lot in the little time we spent.

Overall I feel good though. I know I will put together the best race possible given the training I have put in. It will be a great learning experience, and I cannot expect much more. Tomorrow I will have a short swim in the ocean with my buddy from Oslo then do a quick bike ride (given my bike is even built yet), and then just relax the rest of the day and try to stay off my feet. My girlfriend Nichole will be arriving in the afternoon tomorrow and I really looking forward to seeing her. She is my biggest fan, so it will be incredibly nice to have some one by my side while I get prepared for Sunday.

Friday 9:42 p.m.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Taking off

Hey everyone! This is my last blog post from Arizona. I leave tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. and I get into Florianopolis at 6:00 a.m on Thursday (2 a.m. your time). So I am in for a long day of flying and sitting in airports. From my house to the apartment we are staying at in Brazil it should take right around 28 hours. Sheesh!

Here is what this week looks like:

Monday: last swim with my coach almost 1500 meters, 20 minute run, and 1 hour bike ride at race pace (about 18.5 mph).
Tuesday: 30 minute run in my new racing flats :)
Wednesday: Travel day
Thursday: Swim 1/2 the race course so about 2000 meters, maybe a short run. Start eating lots of carbs.
Friday: Ride a little bit of the bike course, maybe an hour. Continue to carb up and add plenty of salt to my diet.
Saturday: Rest!!! and tone back the food intake.
Sunday: RACE DAY!!!!

My nervousness has been replaced by anxiousness. I just want to get down there and start racing! I have set a few goals for myself when I get down to Brazil 1) Finish the race 2) finish under 12 hours 3) get better at surfing 4) not get abducted by guerilla rebels 5) and lastly, have fun. All of those seem fairly attainable, so it should be an excellent trip. I just picked up a digital camera so I will be able to post some excellent photos when I get back. I will also try to put up a race report in the days following the race to let you know what exactly went on. You can get live progress updates during the event by going to and going to the Ironman Brazil page and clicking on 'Track an Athlete'. It will show all of my split times, and they also have a live webcam set up so you might be able to see me during legs of the the race. My bib number is 345. I will be wearing black shorts, a red tri-top, and a black hat (So will many others, but it might help?). So keep an eye out for me.

Thanks again to my friends, family, and sponsors. I could not have done this without you.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rested, ready, and nervous

Rested: This past week of tapering has been a God send. However, I seemed to have lost my sleeping-in ability. No matter how late I go to bed I still wake up at six. This is what my parents do... does this mean I am getting old? One thing waking up early does afford me is getting my workouts in before it gets too hot out. Sunday was Arizona's first 100 degree day, and today it is supposed to be 105! So what do you do when it is miserably hot outside? Take naps, and watch plenty of movies :)

Ready: Lately I have been trying to tie up some loose ends before I take off on Wednesday. I got fitted on my bike again, got it tuned up, rented some race wheels (Zipp tubulars 808's/404's), bought all my nutrition, bought some new tri-shorts, my Mom sent down some new Brooks racing shoes which are sweet (Brooks Racer ST III), shaved my legs again (crappy!), took an ice bath, took copious naps, and have been packing up my stuff at my apartment because I have to move out before I leave.

Nervous: I have been freaking out a bit lately. My passport visa just got to L.A. last night!!! That means they will overnight it so it will be here tomorrow just in the nick of time. I know, I know, I probably should not have procrastinated, but I figured twenty days would be enough. Another thing that worries me is that my race wheels are what you call tubulars. There are two styles of wheels, tubulars and clinchers. Clinchers which the majority of cyclist ride every day consist of an exterior rubber tire and a separate inner-tube. So when you get a flat you just take off the rubber tire, replace the inner-tube, put the rubber tire back on, and inflate the tube, and you are ready to rock and roll again. A tubular tire is a one-piece construction. The inner-tube is sewn into the outer rubber tire. The benefits of a clincher are that you can easily replace the inner-tube when you get a flat. But typically, clinchers are much heavier and do not roll as smoothly as tubulars. Tubulars on the other hand are extremely hard to replace when you get a flat because the tire is glued on to the rim. However, the pros at my bike shop say that you average .5 to 1 mph faster when riding tubulars. One pro said "it is like riding on silk". So here is why I am a little worried. If you get a flat while riding tubulars during Ironman you have pretty much two options. 1) Quit the race or 2) Replace the entire tire, which takes alot of time, and because you do not have time to reglue the entire tire you have to take corners very very very slowly or the tire will simply fly off the rim. So it is quite risky to ride tubulars, but to be able to ride a mile an hour faster for 112 miles is worth it. Every pro uses tubulars so there must be a method to the madness.

Overall, now that I am done stressing about my passport visa, I am doing really well. My legs are finally feeling fresh, my back is feeling much better, and mentally I am starting to get my swagger back. During the end of training I was starting to have some really crappy workouts and I was really mentally drained. Now that I look back at it I think it was just my body telling me that I needed to rest. I think if I had one more hard week I would be on the brink of overtraining. This whole Ironman experience has been a pretty wild ride. Yesterday (Sunday), there was a triathlon here in Tempe called Tempe International. It is an olympic distance triathlon (swim 1500 meters, bike 26 miles, run 6 miles). Last year, Tempe International was my first ever triathlon. If you would have told me that a year later I would be doing an Ironman I would have told you that you were crazy! But, it just goes to show you that anything is possible. If you put your mind to something and truly commit to it there is nothing that can stop you. I have realized that you can talk yourself into, or out of anything you want to do. The biggest thing I have learned is how to hit the mute button on self-doubt. My coach used to say, "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you are probably right."

Some news worthy information: Last week polar bears were officially put on the "threatened" species list. Scientists speculate that in less than 100 years polar bears will be extinct. How sad. (,8599,1779634,00.html)

I just wanted to say another thanks to all the people who have sponsored my Ironman endeavor:

My awesome parents Jeff and Joleen Ervin
Sam Barnes
Betty Crawford
Mike and Sandy Ervin
Dee Ervin
Dewey and Mary Orr
Denise Merten

Thanks again, you guys rock!


"When things get bad, pray they get worse and overcome them. Challenge yourself and push yourself to your limits. This is the only way to truly become great."
-Andrew Augustine