Monday, August 30, 2010

SHAKESPEARE FOR THE SOUL

Less than six weeks until Ironman and I’m really fighting the panic that’s trying to overtake me. With only about four weeks of productive training left, my training distances are getting long, really long. Saturday was a 6 1/2 hour ride, Sunday was a 3 hour run and they just get more intense over the next few weeks.

I’ve been training without music this year. Not so much by choice, all my music devices seemed to have broken all at the same time, but I see this as a training opportunity so no worries. It just makes those long rides and runs extremely boring. I have been reciting a lot of Shakespeare though. (Did I ever mention that when I was in high school I did a comic book on “The Taming Of The Shrew”? I also took Shakespeare in college.)

The verses that have been running through my mind lately have been from “Henry V.” Riding along the Ironman World Championship course I can’t help but think how lucky I am to be able to live here and how there are so many people out there who would love to be able to ride the bike course just once in their life. And that thought always leads to Shakespeare and Henry and the Saint Crispin’s Day speech.

I just know parts of it. It’s a long speech and I’d love to be able to memorize the whole thing, but that ain’t gonna happen. But the parts I do remember are the good parts and on those days when I’m riding the hills to Hawi and the sun is shining and there’s not much traffic or wind and someone rides by me that I know, I think of a few lines and it always makes me smile:
“This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall never go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”

***

NBC re-aired the 2009 Ironman World Championship broadcast a couple of weeks ago and I think I got more comments about being on the show this time than when they aired it originally in December 2009.

My segment, which comes near the end of the show, begins by showing me walking into the water getting ready for the swim.

Someone asked me after last week’s broadcast what I was thinking while walking out into the water. They said it looked like I was either scared to death or deep in thought.

I told them I was just really focused but honestly I was scared to death. I was also in awe of just being there and, believe it or not, a few verses of Shakespeare were running through my head.

I remember as I descended those steps and looking out over the thousands of people lining the sea wall and thinking “this is so freaking cool.” Then I saw the nearly 2,000 swimmers in the water and I thought, “I’m going to die!”

That’s when Shakespeare popped into my head. “Henry V” to be exact. And although I don’t know Shakespeare well enough to quote it verbatim, I know enough to twist a few lines into a calming mantra.

The lines that began running through my mind as I walked out into the water were:
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more ... But when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger -- stiffen the sinew, summon up the blood, disguise fear with rage”

That may not be exactly how Shakespeare wrote it but those words summoned up enough courage for me to walk out into 2,000 other maniacs just waiting for “the blast of war” to blow in our ears.

My favorite part of the “Breach speech,” however, is what I concentrated on while waiting for the cannon to fire:
“I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’ Oh, and don’t for get me, God ...” BOOM!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BECOMING LANCE

Training for Ironman is a time-consuming chore. And as the race draws closer, it’s practically becoming a full-time job. Some days I spend more than eight hours training then rush home, shower and head off to work. That leaves little time for sleep, except for this week. This week is a recovery week. shorter training, a little less effort and a little more sleep.

(“I started fast and hard, it was difficult with a hard climb and long downhill with headwind. It was a 100 percent effort all the way but that's OK.” - Lance Armstrong)

I love and hate recovery weeks. I love the rest and easier efforts but I hate the draw of the couch and fighting that urge to take it too easy. I’m just a lazy couch potato and it’s easy for me to back off training and way too hard to start it back up.

So this week I’m dealing with the love/hate thing with recovery while fighting off the butterflies that are beginning to show up every time I think about how close race day is getting.
(“You have to live with the crashes, and hope you don't get into one.” - Lance Armstrong)

Last week was a run-focused week. Running every day while working on much-needed form. My long runs are up to 16 or so miles with an end goal of 20 to 23 miles.

The week before that was a bike-focused week. Yep, that’s right. Every day on the bike. That’s on top of the usual swimming and running distances.

I’m up to over 100 miles on the bike for my long rides and spending lots of time trying to become as efficient as possible on the bike. Trying to get as aero as I can and trying all kinds of nutrition that will work the best on race day.


(“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on." - Lance Armstrong)

One recipe that’s showing promise comes straight from Lance Armstrong and Team Radio Shack. I figure since I’m starting to put in all the miles like Lance ( yeah right) I might as well try what he eats on the bike.


(“If you consider my situation: a guy who comes back from arguably, you know, a death sentence, why would I then enter into a sport and dope myself up and risk my life again? That's crazy. I would never do that. No. No way.” - Lance Armstrong)

I have a couple of more long rides to test out the recipe they call sweet rice cake (sticky rice, eggs, ham or bacon, brown sugar, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar) but things are looking good. Easy to make, easy to carry, easy to eat and digest.


(“Anything is possible. You can be told that you have a 90-percent chance or a 50-percent chance or a 1-percent chance, but you have to believe, and you have to fight.” - Lance Armstrong)

The last week of the Tour de France last month I began an art project drawing posters of the top riders from this year.


(Oh, about the title of this post. I wasn't talking about myself becoming Lance, but the drawing slowly turning into Lance Armstrong)

The drawing scattered through out this post are my best attempts at drawing Lance. It's a slow process using the computer to draw someone. Below are a few more drawings.





I thought it was appropriate to have his yellow jersey dissolve into the white jersey (which he won as best young rider) and fade into the number 39. If you watched the Tour this year you'll know the significants of the number 39 for Andy Schleck.

Monday, August 16, 2010

BUTTERFLIES AND SUFFERING

The butterflies have landed with 54 days until October 9th.

Fifty-four days.

54.

ONLY 54 days until October 9th.

October 9th.

That's the day.

The day of my second Ironman.

My second Ironman World Championship in Kona.

In Kona, Hawaii.

Where I live.

Where I train.

Where I learned to swim.

Where I learned to run long.

Bike long.

And train long.

My home course.

My home.

With only 54 days left the butterflies are arriving by the boat load and taking up residence right where they did last year at this time - in my stomach. Not sure why I'm beginning to get nervous though. Other than the fact that there is only 54 days until race day and only about 40 days of effective training days left.

My training is on track - sort of. Injuries are under control - sort of. I even ran my fastest 5k since I was in school with sub-7 minute miles. That's amazing for these old legs. And this year I feel like a well-seasoned Ironman athlete. I know what to expect this time and, on the good side, I won't have TV cameras following me around at this ironman, but on the bad side, I won't have TV cameras following me around.

Although having TV cameras stuck a few inches from your face makes it hard to concentrate on the race they did help me get through the 140.6 miles last year. Especially the last half of the marathon when I really needed a boost. The camera guys showed up at the energy lab to pace me along, film me and asking me questions. It helped me make it out of the energy lab and on to the home stretch. I will miss that this year. But this year I'm going to embrace the experience. It'll probably be my last Ironman and I want to enjoy the suffering as much as possible.

Enjoy the suffering? I like that. That may be my motto this year. My mantra. Of course, I first have to wrangle up all those butterflies and get them under control, but after that, I'll work on enjoying the suffering.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A LITTLE ARMY TRAINING, SORT OF ...

I got to do a little training on Oahu a few days ago. It was a nice change of pace from always training around Kona. I also did miles of walking at the Honolulu Zoo and I even managed to slip in a short run up the side of a mountain on Sunday while dodging a few stray bullets.

(My running destination is near the peak of that jungly mountain in the distance)

Last weekend Karen, Rebecca and I flew to Oahu to visit Rachael and Madison. We did a little sightseeing, went to the zoo and Pearl Harbor and I did a little exploring on the run. Here's a few photos from my run on Schofield Barracks.



(An old Army bunker or what?)



(The road runs right next to the rifle range and I couldn't help but duck a little and run a little faster through here.)


(Getting closer. You can't tell from the photos but this is quite an uphill climb.)


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