Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
42 days until Ironman
I've been wondering "why" lately. Why am I doing triathlons? Is it some midlife crisis? Maybe trying to relive my glory days. Or maybe it's just that living on an island there isn't that much to do except swim, bike and run.
I've already gone through a midlife crisis so I can rule that one out. That's how I ended up in Hawaii. And although it is true that there isn't that much to do when you live on an island, I don't think that's why. So the more I think about it the more the "glory days" theory seems to fit, except that my glory days weren't really that glorious.
I'm thinking that maybe I never really had any glory days and that right now may be my glory days -- my time to excel. To make memories that will last a lifetime. I'm thinking maybe this is the time of my life, the time I'll look back on and think "Wow! I really did all that and I was how old? Swam in water so deep and blue it's nearly indescribable, biked more than a hundred miles in one day at least once a week for months and ran 14 to 18 miles every Saturday morning just to get ready for a little race called Ironman." Now that will be something to tell grandkids about.
Yep, I'm thinking this is definitely my glory days, uh, unless I qualify for the world championship again next year. Then next year will be my glory days and what stories I'll be able to tell about that one.
It's been an odd training week for me this week. Every other day has been a hard workout followed by a relatively easy day. Monday was a swim, bike, run day; Tuesday just stretching and some core workouts; Wednesday was pool day with lots of swimming; Thursday 100 mile bike then a 40 min. run; Friday easy swimming and today was a 16-mile run -- the farthest I've run nonstop. Tomorrow is my play day. Hope you all have a great play day wherever you are.
Here are a few photos from my training this week.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
(50 days until Ironman)
Today was one of those feeling good days. One of those days that I’m glad I’m off the couch and training for Ironman. Biking 100 miles in the sunshine, heat and wind makes you feel alive. Having a crossswind blow you and your bike clear across the road will make anyone feel alive and thankful to be that way.
I spent my Friday morning reflecting about how I got to this point -- being able to spend 6 hours on the bike in the wind while climbing hills. After all, just 8 months ago I was having knee surgery. I’ve spent a lot of miles on my bike in the past 8 months. Good days and bad days and today was a good day.
I was thankful I was riding alone. Just me, my bike and my music. It was a good day to make peace with my bike and find some much-needed inspiration. Here are a few photos from my ride today.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Our son, Aaron, is getting married today (Friday) in the philippines. Aaron's soon-to-be wife, Grace, is from the Philippines and out of courtesy for her family they chose to get married there. They are planning a second wedding here for Aaron's family and friends, however.
My thoughts will be with Aaron and Grace as I'm out on my bike today. Six hours on a bike provides lots of thinking time. In honor of Aaron and Grace's wedding today, and out of necessity, I'm going to have something borrowed and something blue on my bike.
For my 100-mile bike ride I will literally be on borrowed tires. Last night while getting my bike ready for my ride I noticed my front tire had a big slice in it and that it probably wouldn't last for that long of a ride. And with the bike stores already closed my only option was to "borrow" the tires off Karen's bike. Her blue tires off her blue bike.
So for six hours or so I'll be thinking of our son and his new wife and wedding traditions, romance and newly weds, and borrowed blue tires on my white and black bike and all the while wondering if Karen will notice when she goes to ride her bike to work that there are no blue tires on her blue bike ...
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
53 days until Ironman
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will" - Mahatma Gandhi
Today was my moto run. Moto as in motivation, as in make it hurt, as in put up or shut up, as in I am an Ironman-in-training and get with the program and stop whining about it. Ironman equals long distance equals pain equals will power equals self-discipline equals Ironman.
Today was 12 miles of running on tired legs, no hydration except for the Jesus Fountain on Alii Drive. No music (the most painful part of the run) and no whining. Time to HTFU as they say. Or as LeAnn offered, "Suck it up!" Time to go long and make it hurt. Time to earn the privilege of crossing the finish line of the Ironman World Championship. 12 miles isn't my long run of the week but today it was a mental breakthrough run. A run when I decided it was time to get serious. To take the pain and work through it. Keep moving forward when my mind and body are screaming at me to stop.
Yesterday I was interviewed by Ironman and one of the questions they asked was, “What is your motivation for doing Ironman?” It’s a question I have been asking myself a lot lately. “Why am I doing this?” Maybe it’s for my daughter, Rebecca, who is in a wheelchair and would love to be able to run until she feels like her lungs are going to explode and her heart will pound out of her chest and her legs will fall off. Or maybe I’m doing it for my son, Daniel, who will soon be on his way to Afghanistan just about the time of Ironman. He serves our country as a U.S. Marine so we are able to enjoy things such as triathlons.
Maybe I’m doing it to make my wife proud of me. Or as an example for the rest of our kids. Maybe I’m searching for what lies deep inside me and this may be the only way I know how to find it. My essence of being if you will. Maybe there isn’t just one reason I’m doing Ironman.
Four years ago I hadn’t even heard of Ironman -- or triathlons. Three years ago I was in awe watching my first Ironman and the age groupers finishing just before midnight on Alii Drive. Two years ago I couldn’t swim a stroke when I decided I wanted to do a triathlon. One year ago I couldn’t imagine I would ever be participating in the Ironman World Championship. In 53 days when I’m treading water in Kailua Bay and the canon goes off to signal the start of the race, I’ll be doing the unimaginable ...
Don't give up though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you must not QUIT.
- A portion of a poem by an unknown author
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Another fear is jellies. Although we spotted a few, no one was stung. Only a few sea nettles, which only sting for a few seconds. No monsters from the abyss and no jellies. Now that's a confidence builder.
We swam from Keauhou Bay to Kailua Pier -- 6 miles of open ocean. Deep open ocean. But I have to admit it was beautiful. An amazing blue you just have to see. It's like lying on your back and looking up at the darkest blue sky you've ever seen. At the Alii Challnege you can swim the entire 6 miles solo or team up with a partner and trade off at whatever intervals you want. One person swims and one kayaks. My partner was Rob "the Extreme" Van Geen.
When we swam by the Coast Guard buoy, which is about 1.2 miles from the finish, we had a pod of dolphins swim past us. What a way to welcome us into Kailua Bay...
Rob and I finished the 6 miles in 2:58. Like Ironman, the goal wasn't time but to just finish.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
(56 days until Ironman)
"Alan Webb is the best thing to happen in this event, but professionals and collegiates don't want to lose to high school guys.I don't want to lose to no one."-- Gabe Jennings, 1500 heat winner on the first day of USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2001. The 18-year-old Webb, a senior at South Lakes High School from Reston, Virginia, went on to run a 3:53.43 mile to break Jim Ryan's 36 year old national high school record (3:55.3), once thought to be untouchable.
I've always compared myself with other people and rated myself accordingly. Whether it is on the job, drawing, photography or, especially now, swimming, biking and running, where everyone seems to be younger, faster, stronger, healthier and have a lot more hair than I do.
One of the first things I learned living in Kona and training for triathlon is that you CANNOT compare yourself with whom you may be training next to because that guy or gal just might be a world record holder, a world champion at swimming, biking or running, or all three. Or they may be a future record holder — we have scores of talented kids all over the place here who swim like fish, bike like Lance and run like, yeah, I'll say it, run like the wind, and they fly by me like I'm going in reverse.
It's pretty easy to beat yourself up and get discouraged with all the talent in Kona. But it is also the best place in the world to train. Where else can you swim with someone who holds dozens of world records or who swam with and coached some of the best swimmers in the world? Or bike with the likes of Lance Armstrong, Yvonne Van Vlerken (second at last year's Ironman World Championship behind Chrissie Wellington), or Bree Wee, who is going to rock the sport of triathlon soon. Or run with Chris McCormick or Chris Lieto or former marathoner Frank Shorter, or any number of local age groupers who can rival the pros on any given day. Most places you just have the local age groupers or club standouts to compare yourself with.
So on those days when I'm feeling slow, out of shape, balding and just plain old, I take a look at who I'm comparing myself to and sometimes I have to smile. Even though I come up way short, I'm lucky enough to be able to compare myself with some pretty good company. And as long as McCormick, Lieto and a few others keep shaving their heads, at least I won't come up short on the balding part ...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
For the past week or so I’ve been struggling with training. Maybe discouraged is a better word than struggling. The effort it takes, the time involved, and the pain of training for Ironman has been wearing on me. Edmund Burke once said, “Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair.” But Burke never explained if by working "on in despair" you would eventually work your way out of despair. Maybe we eventually get to a certain point that we force ourselves to climb out and move on.
Last night I hated my bike when I went to bed around midnight. Lying in bed trying to fall asleep while listening to the rain and dreading having to get up in a few hours for a 5 1/2 hour/100-mile bike ride.
I hated my bike even more when my alarm went off just after 5 a.m. and I heard the rain still coming down. While unloading my bike at the pool in the drizzling rain at 6 a.m. I could not imagine being on that thing for 5 1/2 minutes let alone 5 1/2 hours.
By the time I pedaled the half-mile or so to the intersection at Makala Boulevard and Queen K, I was soaked from the rain and in my own deep despair. As I sat at the traffic light waiting to ride out onto Queen K for another 99 miles, I considered turning around, riding home and officially withdrawing from Ironman. I had had it. I was tired, wet and cold, and I was having a hard time finding a reason to spend more time on the bike than I got sleep the night before. The sport I loved so much a few weeks ago I could not stand at that moment.
But instead of going home I decided to ride at least to the cemetery, 12 miles out, and see if the rain would stop. By the time I had reached Hina-Lani Street I had forgotten about the rain and was being amused by the “rooster tail” my tires were making. I also found myself searching for mud puddles to splash through just like when I was a kid. I was disappointed that my skinny road bike tires wouldn’t splash as much as the tires on my old Stingray bike I had so many years ago. What is it about boys and mud puddles? All the splashing and playing made me start thinking about how much fun it is to ride a bike.
By the time I reached the cemetery the rain had stopped and the sky was an amazing mishmash of weather patterns. As if it were a movie, the clouds parted, revealing Mauna Kea majestically backlit by the rising sun. To the left, a thunderstorm was dumping buckets on Kawaihae (more puddles to ride through, I thought). To the right, Hualalai was shrouded in mist. Over the ocean, an array of cloud patterns mingled with patches of blue. A photo would never do the scene justice. And to think I almost missed this if I had gone home.
The rest of the trip was pretty quiet. The clouds eventually gave way to sun. There was no wind to speak of and I rode along, lost in the music coming through my headphones and still thinking about splashing through puddles, and how I need to find that joy on the bike again. Somewhere along the way, training turned into work and stopped being fun.
By the end of the day I had been on the bike an hour longer than I had slept the night before. I had biked 101 miles then jumped off the bike and ran for 30 minutes. A few hours later I was in the pool swimming at Masters.
Well at least tomorrow will be an "easy" day. Only a 2-hour run ...
With less than 60 days until Ironman, discouragement is my biggest obstacle. But like Burke suggested, maybe the answer is in keeping the faith or staying the course or any other way you can think of that means to just hang in there and tough it out. After all, being an Ironman is more than just crossing the finish line. You earn that privilege in the training days that get you there.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Well, Sunday I had a chance to face a fear of mine - the deep blue. It's not so much swimming in water so deep and dark you can't see the bottom, but rather what might be lurking just out of sight. Where shadows grow teeth and bubbles turn to jellies. Where sea monsters live just out the corner of your eye and where your imagination comes alive (if only I could write my blog then ...) and you kick yourself for watching "Jaws" the night before.
Giovanni, Rob and I went to Keauhou Bay to practice for the Alii Challenge taking place Sunday. Mostly to get to know the water around the first mile or so of the race. and to practice switching off in the kayak.
The Alii Challenge is a 6-mile ocean swim from Keauhou Bay to Kailua Pier. You can swim it solo or with a partner who paddles a kayak and the two of you trade off at whatever intervals you decide. Rob and I are teaming up and will probably swim 20 minute legs. With each leg the partners will switch places, giving the swimmer a chance to recuperate and hydrate. During the race, Giovanni and Karen will help with water patrol in a separate kayak. Hopefully there will be 20 or 30 teams plus water safety at the race.
I should also mention that the start of the race is shallow, a little murky and just so happens to be where Karen and I spotted a 6-foot tiger shark in about waist-deep water a few months ago. But once you get out of the bay the water turns an incredible dark blue with unreal coral formations on the bottom.
Then, about a mile away from the bay the coral stops and the sand begins and falls away. And almost suddenly it's an abyss with dark shapes that can't quite be identified far below you. Are they moving? The first dark shape I saw made my heart pound through my chest. I pulled up so fast that Giovanni, paddling the kayak, looked over at me to make sure I was alright.
"OK, face your fear, Randy," I told myself trying to get my heart out of my throat. I started swimming again. There's that shape. blackish and blurry way down there. Is it moving? No reference to judge it by. I can tell that it has a roundish shape to it. A ray? Maybe. I swim a few more strokes. There! it moved, didn't it?
I pull up again. Now I know rays aren't dangerous but anything swimming that is bigger than say, a small car, kinda worries me when I'm in the middle of the ocean. You have to remember I just learned to swim a little more than a year ago and I'm not all that comfortable in the water yet.
After I stopped, Rob swam over and I told him and Giovanni that I thought there was a ray below us. Rob took a look and matter-of-factly said, "It's a rock."
OK, OK. I'm embarrassed a little, but it was a round rock. It could have been a manta ray. Off we go again. My heart still in my throat. I'm tempted to swim with my eyes closed. You know, kind of like when you are on a roller coaster and you crest the big hill and start the long, fast drop. You just naturally want to close your eyes, right? Well I do, and that's how I felt at that moment. My imagination was working overtime and getting to me.
But all that Masters swim training kicked in and I stopped concentrating on what I couldn't control - all those unseen monsters - and started concentrating on what I could control - my swim stroke. So I picked up my pace and focused on my form. Am I rotating evenly on both sides? Am I keeping my elbows high on the pull? Am I following through all the way?
Before I knew it I had forgotten all about what was beneath me and was pulling ahead of Giovanni in the kayak and Rob swimming and I was out by myself, calm and enjoying the rhythm of the ocean.
And almost as suddenly as the abyss began, it ended and coral appeared below me again and we stopped there to rest, talk, play in the water and take photos. I had faced my fear of deep water and things unseen, and lived to tell about it. At least for that day.
They say the course gets even deeper and darker for a few miles, so next Sunday I'll probably be facing some demons again. My motto since I first decided to do triathlons has been "Do What Scares You!" Swimming scares me. Going 40 miles an hour downhill on a bike in a crosswind scares me. Swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and then running 26.2 miles scares me, but hey, I'm doing it.
Friday, August 7, 2009
FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 2009
For us age groupers, for the most part, training -- even training for the Ironman World Championship -- must take a back seat to life.
My son, Aaron, is getting married later this month in the Philippines and had to fly out this morning at 9 to meet up with Grace, his fiancee, there. So in order for me to see him off I would be cutting my training day short.
My plan for today was to swim at masters then bike to Scenic (about 40 miles). Since I work afternoons and evenings I only have a few hours in the mornings to train. I usually try to be finished with training by 11 or 11:30 so I can be home when Karen has her lunch break from work. That means some days I have to make a choice on which sport I want to do.
Today was one of those days. I could swim or I could bike, but not both. So I swam. I chose swimming for two reasons: 1, Between swimming and biking, swimming is the one I need the most work on and 2, After doing a few long 5-hour-plus rides, a quick 40 miler doesn't seem worth the effort.
Anyway, I don't mind cutting practice now and then, especially for family business. After all, how many times does your son fly thousands of miles away to get married? p.s. They are getting married in the Philippines because that's where Grace's family lives. They are coming here to have a second wedding for us later.
Oh, I almost forgot. So at masters today, I got my fastest 25-yard time ever. Not sure what's up with that. I broke my old time by 2 seconds, and that was at the end of practice after 3,000 yards. Maybe that streamlining session I did a few days ago helped. I'm glad I went with swimming instead of biking. That gave me a little bit of a much-needed boost.
Take care out there everyone and thanks for the comments.
The hurricane keeps getting downgraded. For the most part it sounds like we are just going to be getting lots of rain and high surf early next week.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 2009
Today was a run day. Nothing long, just an hour of drills: a couple of miles for warm up then some wind sprints, then some stretching, then more sprints then some 100 yarders going from slow to as fast as I could go.
Now, watching me sprint could be compared to watching a turtle sprint: To the turtle he's really moving along, but to the spectator, that old turtle is moseying the same as usual. So if you saw me out running today, yes, I was sprinting!
But before the sprinting came a few laps of high-knee skipping drills. Skipping drills? That's what was on the schedule. I thought, "no problemo, I used to skip all the time when I was a kid." Skipping is supposed to be good for you. Good cardio work, good warm up and few other things I can't remember right now.
So off I went. I ran a few hundred yards then tried to go into a high-knee skip. Uh, nothing! I couldn't believe it. I couldn't skip. I couldn't even remember what to do to begin to skip. I tried lifting one leg high while jumping with the other leg - no, that's just a jump.
OK, I tried jumping with one leg and dragging the other leg. I don't know what that was but it wasn't skipping. I tried taking bigger strides but that was just something other than skipping. So after making it around a whole lap and no skipping I was getting pretty frustrated. I've seen other runners and triathletes skipping and it didn't look difficult. I mean kids do for goodness sake.
Off I went again. Determined to skip this lap. I tried a short jump but still no skip. Then I tried hopping on one leg. Hey! that was almost a skip. I tried it again- a double hop and a step. Hey, that's it. I skipped. Woo Hoo! So there I was happily skipping along -- manstyle of course. I'm sure anyone who witnessed my whole trial and error skipping excursion was getting a fairly good laugh, but hey, isn't that what skipping is all about?
One thing I learned today though: Skipping ain't like riding a bike!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
"The water is your friend. You don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move." -- Aleksandr Popov
When I swim I always feel like I am flying, especially in the ocean. Sailing over the coral I can just imagine how a bird feels while soaring over the tree tops. The freedom, the peace, the magic of it all. Why did I take 48 years to learn to swim? Well, that's me waxing poetic for the day ...
I’m glad it’s my recovery week. I’m tired and going shorter distances this week is just what I need.
Today was an easy day on the legs. I rode the trainer for about 30 minutes working on a little sprint action -- getting the legs moving super fast on an all-out cadence for 30 seconds at a time. After a short rest I’d do it again, and again.
I also did a lot of stretching today trying to work out the cramps and aches and pains.
Masters tonight was a longer set. I think I swam 3,300 yards. The workout included a bunch of 200s, a 600 and then some smaller sets. I seem to lose some technique as I get tired. Trying to work on that though.
Hurricane Felicia is still headed our way and is now a Category 4 hurricane. It’s expected to weaken before it gets here so we should just see some rain and a little wind.
Here's a few swim-related quotes that I like:
H2O: two parts Heart and one part Obsession. ~Author Unknown
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
No man drowns if he perseveres in praying to God, and can swim. ~Russian Proverb
Chlorine is my perfume. ~Author Unknown
If the world was flat I'd probably swim off it. ~Author Unknown
It's a good idea to begin at the bottom in everything except in learning to swim. ~Author Unknown
If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do all the rest have to drown too? ~Steven Wright
Sometimes God calms the storm. At other times, he calms the sailor. And sometimes he makes us swim. ~Author Unknown
Seventy-five percent of our planet is water - can you swim? ~Author Unknown
What goes around comes around, just like a flip turn. ~Author Unknown
Seven days of no swimming makes one weak. ~Author Unknown
If you want to learn to swim jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you. ~Bruce Lee
When the earth floods from global warming, the swimmers will rule the world. ~Author Unknown
If you have a lane, you have a chance. ~Author Unknown
Swimming: From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it. ~Author Unknown
Oxygen is overrated. ~Author Unknown
Swimming - what real men do while boys play football. ~Author Unknown
He who burns his bridges better be a damn good swimmer. ~Author Unknown
Chlorine: the breakfast of champions! ~Author Unknown
Do men who have got all their marbles go swimming in lakes with their clothes on? ~P.G. Wodehouse
We swim because we are too sexy for a sport that requires clothes. ~Author Unknown
I simply can't understand
Why swimsuits are in such demand
They're soggy and damp,
Bind like a clamp,
And hold about three pounds of sand!
I can't fly, but swimming is the next best thing.... The water is my sky. ~Author Unknown
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
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Now this is my kind of swimming pool. You can carbo load while you swim!
I spent an hour in the pool today just working on becoming more streamline. Not sure if I accomplished anything but every little bit helps -- I hope.
Painful training day on my run. Ran up part of Hualalai Road for hill work. I think I did 9 or 10 repeats trying to make each one faster than the last. Sore tendons in my lower legs bothered me most of the run.
You know what's odd? I just figured out that some days I spend more hours on the bike than I get sleep the night before ...
Just found out that a Hurricane Felicia is headed our way. If it continues it would hit us Sunday or Monday.
Monday, August 3, 2009
68 days until the Ironman World Championship in Kona. As the big day draws closer my emotions range from "hurry up and get this thing over with," to "What was I thinking? I can't do this!"
I'm sure Karen is getting tired of hearing the fear to excitement to fear roller coaster of mine everyday, so I'm going to try to just vent my feelings through my blog. I'm sure some of the daily notes will be short and others I'll probably ramble on. Anyhow, feel free to read if you want.
MONDAY: AUGUST 3, 2009
Swam masters this morning. My swimming seems to be going down hill. Always tired it seems these days. After swimming I ran 2 miles bare foot in grass then rode my bike up to Puapuaanui Street to ride hill repeats. Puapuaanui in Hawaiian must mean "only idiots are dumb enough to ride this hill more than once."
This week is my short but intense week. Normally I am working on endurance with long rides or runs and not on speed work, so for better or worse I'm doing short but intense training this week on the bike and run. I'm also swimming everyday this week. I've been neglecting swimming for the most part other than Masters three days a week. That's probably why I am slowing down.
I have the Alii Challenge coming up in a couple of weeks. It's a 6-mile ocean swim from Keauhou Bay to Kailua Bay. It can be a team event so Rob and I are teaming up. We'll each take turns swimming 30 minute then resting in a kayak for 30 minutes before jumping back in and swimming again. Sounds fun but jellies and sharks are a concern -- at least for me. I haven't swam in most of the waters on the route and I hear some of it gets really deep and dark.
PLAN FOR TUESDAY
Swimming first then more hills. Running this time. Getting the heart rate way up on short uphill sprints.