Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We did it!!!!

It's Tuesday August 29th, 2012.  What with packing, hotel checkout, and the flight back home to Denver, CO from Louisville, KY I wasn't able to post the final blog yesterday!   Race day was amazing, fun, heart-wrenching, hard, and exhilarating.  I was told before the race to expect the unexpected.  There were difficult things that happened I didn't expect.  During the race my timing chip got knocked off in the swim, a shredded tire left me stranded for 40 minutes early in the bike, and I had to battle upper and lower leg cramps for 8 hours. But, along with the frustration and the pain I found unexpected joy as well. You don't expect to see the army of volunteers at aid stations happy to help get you drinks and snacks, or people out along the side of the road all day shouting works of encouragement.  I also didn't expect to feel the pride I got when I passed fire trucks and firefighters along the side of the road.  Nor did I expect the tears and the surge of adrenaline I got at mile 101 of the bike ride when I saw a man holding a baby with his family cheering on late day arrivals.  It made me think about my family and friends and reminded me you were there in spirit.
I've said it before and I'll say it again now.  You don't do Ironman on your own.  You carry the hopes, dreams, fears, failures, and triumphs or all those close to you that make you who you are.  Crossing the finish line was nothing like I've ever experienced before.  The finish time of 16:00:08 won't have you packing your bags for the annual World Championships held in Kona, Hawaii... but we did it!!! And, along the way we raised $600 for Colorado fire relief in the name of the American Red Cross, Colorado Chapter.  I want to give a great big thank you to all those that gave with your pocket books, your hearts, and your words of encouragement!  I am as happy and thankful of the support as I am of the accomplishment of being called an "Ironman".

If you're wondering, I do plan to do future full length triathlons.  This was always a dream of mine, and now I'm living it.  I'm already thinking about how to push my times down.  For now I'll say make sure to dream and do those things you've dreamed of... and don't wait.  Excuses will never leave you fulfilled and regret never goes away.  Thank you, and God bless.

Yours truly,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Calm be fore the storm!

Hi there,

How do I put this together?
Today was the final day before the Louisville Ironman.   My race bib number is 1665 and you can check my progress Sunday, all day, online here by entering the bib number.  Today was all about preparation.  Nutrition, packing race bags, putting the bike together, testing the ride, dropping off bags and the bike at the race transition area in the 'Great Lawn'.  I did far too much walking back and forth between areas today.  I think I probably walked 7 miles today.  I did find a few minutes to take a break, catch a quick nap, and catch up with my wife Dawn and my coach Shelia.  They gave me good advice.

My race day volunteer helper
I'll say at this point I've eaten and carbo-loaded as much as a I can and I'm all fueled up and ready to go!  I need to get a good night's sleep tonight.  Tonight I'll go over my race plan a time or two more, take in a couple minutes of TV, and then it's lights out!  Tomorrow get up for breakfast at 4:30EDT (That's 2:30MDT... and I haven't adjusted so that's going to totally be waking up in the middle of the night).

My destination... Louisville Ironman finish line
Thanks to all those that are following and know that I'm thinking of you!  I'm looking forward to an exciting day tomorrow and sharing great news!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Found the fun!

Okay, today was all about preparation.  There was race registration, carbo-loading, writing my race plan, carbo-loading, going to the race brief and carbo-loading!  Today we caught up with Jay... he's our other partner in crime from Denver on this journey!  Today was an absolute blast for me.  I couldn't stop smiling and felt like high on life (Maybe it's just the lower elevation).  Anyway here are the pics.
Comfy bed!
I like my room!

A bagel bite and drink and I'm on my way

Patrick and Jay

The fun has arrived!!!

Jay, Patrick, and Sol at registration

Race brief... boring

Did I get everything from the race brief?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The eagle has landed.

"Now departing flight 362 to Louisville, KY." It's been a busy day to say the least.  I made the plane to Louisville will minimal hassle and without body cavity searches coming through TSA.  I did have to repack my bag at checkin for the flight to save $60 but for me it was completely worth it.   I had put too much gear in the bike box and needed to lose 8 lbs.  Let's just say all the training has been good for something since I hauled that weight around my backpack in the airport.

Me and Patrick
I should tell you now that I was excited to get on the plane like a lotto winner.  I met my friend Patrick and his wife Christy at the gate.  Patrick said he'd never seen my so excited.  I admit, I rarely get this excited about anything!  I want to swim, bike, and run in 90 degree temperatures until I finish or pass out from exhaustion!   But, as Patrick said getting on the plane, we're made of 'Iron'. If we need to go less than 3 miles we'll swim it.  80 miles is a short bike ride and 15 miles is like a walk in the park!

You could sense the excitement and anticipation of the event as soon as we stepped on the plane.  Patrick sat next to an Ironman veteran who had just missed qualifying for the world championships (the race you see on TV in Hawaii) that told him his recipe for shaving the precious minutes he would need to make it this time.  Before we backed out from the gate the pilot came on the intercom and announced, "Welcome aboard, we'll be arriving on time but it's taking just a bit longer to push off the gate because of all the bikes being loaded up.  Look around you because you're probably sitting next to an Ironman!"  I felt pretty cool sitting on the plane knowing I was one of those people. 

Good find Patrick!
The interesting thing is that when we landed in Louisville the anticipation was palpable.  It seemed like the whole city was buzzing about the event and the locals all knew about it.  They all shared words of encouragement and some, like the bellman at my hotel, shared tips & advise from years past.  "Make sure to stay center heading upriver to avoid the driftwood... My cousin got taken out by that.  It can end your day!" 

That's a lot of bike boxes
Ironman transition 2012
When we arrived in Louisville my bike was the very last one to come out from the baggage claim.  it was the first time I could really tell how many people were coming as part of the Colorado contingency.  I don't know this for a fact but I would have to guess that Colorado sends about as many people to Ironman's per capita as any state in the US.  There had to be 20-25 bikes packed on our flight alone.  Just to give you an idea there will be around 1,700 entrants for the event.  Once I got my bike I joined Patrick and Christy and we headed out in their rental car to grab a quick bite and then head down to the main transition area for the event.  They were already setting up for the event and we took time to scout out the "Great lawn" where this is at.  Once we were satisfied we jumped back in the car and took the next 2 hours to enjoy the beautiful blue sky sunset and scout the bike course of the race.  The scenery along this route is stunning.  It's acre after acre of fenced estates with horses, Kentucky bluegrass, impressing stone entries with tried drives, and pretty/old barns.  At first the terrain of the bike route seemed flat... but that changed in a hurry.  Between the umming and ahhing of the scenic views we began to realize... this course really hilly.  It also seemed exceptionally long since we hadn't been on it before.

By the time we finished our tour of the bike route it was nearly 8:30pm in Louisville.  Patrick and Christy dropped me off at the Brown hotel. I'm in the room unpacking now and enjoying a late night snack of pizza (I didn't think I would be hungry after a late lunch but the blogging must have stirred up an appetite).  Tomorrow I'll head over to registration and work on reconstructing my bike. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How do I pack the bike?

Alright!!!  Let's go!!!! It's time to take this show on the road!  Here's to fire relief and a great race!  I'll be blogging everyday through next Monday.  So, stick with me and help me raise a money for a worthy cause if you haven't already.  I'm off to Louisville.  Wait.... how the heck am I going to get my bike from Denver to Louisville, Kentucky.  I think the airline is probably going to have a problem with me going carry on with that isn't it.

Matt's breaking down my bike!

Enter the Matt man!  I called Matt up a few weeks back to help me figure out a good, affordable way to transport my bike. He said to bring it over.  Matt is an under appreciated yeoman high school social studies teacher my wife Dawn has had the pleasure of knowing for about 8 years now.  Matt rides his bike to work 10 miles to and from work everyday.  And, I mean everyday.... sun, rain, snow, sleet, freezing drizzle, flying monkeys... Matt's getting there on his bike.

Matt also happens to be a bike mechanic junkie.  I took my bike over to him in one piece yesterday and he took me through how to disassemble (and later reassemble) it and put it in a bike box to take with me.  Bike packed and ready to go!  Check!

Okay, now for packing!  Whoa!  This isn't my average packing trip.  I'm not used to packing gear like this.  I have to admit, it came as a bit of a surprise to me everything I was going to need to make it out the door!  I packed enough energy bars and Gatorade in my bag that if we rewired the plane to it, the plane wouldn't need jet fuel to make it to Louisville.

Everything's packed now!  But wait... what am I doing for fun.... I need something to help me forget about the pain and laugh during this, and have fun!  Hmmm, oh yeah, pirates.  They make me happy.    That's nothing e-bay can't help me take care of.  There... some temporary pirate tattoos and (yo-ho, yo-ho) a pirate's patch for me.  I'll have them shipped straight to the hotel. Arghhh!!!

Tomorrow it's off to the airport to catch up with my fellow Ironman buds and take the midday flight to Louisville.  Let's get that bird in the air!

So that's how I'm supposed to use it!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Props to the PT

Okay.  The serious training is done.  On Saturday I did 6 1/2 hours on the bike and proclaimed myself ready.  It seems strange to say that since training has become so routine that I don't stop to consider some of the hours I've been putting in. 

Me at 5 1/2 hours in on my ride this past weekend
I also have some good news to report.  All those needles my PT specialist EJ has been putting in my leg must be working!  I got to 5 miles of running last Thursday!!!!  It looks like I have a realistic shot at making my goal of running 8 miles of the marathon (that's walk two miles then run one... for 26 miles).  Wooo hooo!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I can taste the excitement!

Hi there,

Start of the 2011 Louisville Ironman
It's been awhile and I wanted to provide a quick update on how training is coming. On the fire recovery front I'll share I did give a call to the Pikes Peak 2-1-1 and there aren't any specific one-time volunteer events going on right now. So if you're still thinking about it don't pass up the opportunity to donate.

It's been a busy 3 weeks since my last post.  I've had some beautiful bike rides in the time... and one where I virtually bonked!  For those of you who aren't familiar with the term 'bonk' it's where your brain basically shuts off from a lack of energy.  Endurance athletes experience this when their blood sugar levels get too low.  The 'bonk' came on a 5 hour ride (normally a 4 1/2 hour ride) I did from my house downtown down to southeast Denver (along the Cherry Creek trail to Arapahoe Road for those familiar with the area), then around the Cherry Creak reservoir and over to Morrison along (along the Bear Creek Trail), and back home by Mile High Stadium and Confluence Park.  Now, on a 70-75 mile ride like this I would normally take around 1000 Calories with me (I like Nugo bars and good ole' lemon-lime Gatorade).  I haven't measured exactly but I usually take in around 250 Calories an hour.  On this day I decided I wanted to benchmark where I was at in my training and figure out if I would notice the effects of riding without energy. 

The first 45 miles were glorious!  I was clear, blue sky day and the haze and the smoke from the summer fires was nowhere in sight!  For me it started as a fast ride and I was grinning all the way to Morrison, back up and over the good hills in Bear Creek state park, and back toward downtown.  Toward my last 20 miles I began to feel fatigue in my lower back.  It's not uncommon to feel a bit of discomfort there on lengthy rides.  But unlike my usual rides, the stiffness and fatigue got worse.  "Uh-oh" I thought.  What would Lance Armstrong do in these situations?

Brown hotel Louisville.  I got a great rate!
Go faster I thought!  I really need to push through this.  It's a mental thing!  Well, before I knew it I was off the bike doing a 20-minute stretch that did nothing more than entertain the 5-year olds that rode past my happily dinging their bells to let me know I was blocking the trail.  I couldn't get loose and my water was gone!   With 20 miles to go I was in bad shape.  From that point on every pedal stroke felt like I was pushing along 1 too many tourists in a crowded bike rickshaw.  I'm not sure how it happened but the nice 87 degree weather quickly climbed to 96 degrees and I could have swore it was more like 105.  Everyone flew past me, men, woman, children, unleashed dogs, squirrels,  crickets, clowns on motorcycles (was the circus in town?).  The 10 miles that would normally take me 35 or 40 minutes took me over an hour to manage.   When I got home I gave myself a lump I because when I tried to lift my bike in the garage I dropped it on my noggin!  Bonk!  I usually join the family for lunch and our afternoon weekend activities after my long rides... but on this day I was good for a 2 1/2 hour nap and crawling from couch to couch.  It was pathetic and told me exactly what I needed to know.  On this day... the only way I could be described as an Ironman was for being a lead weight on my furniture.

I digress.  Training over the past few weeks has actually been fun with the Ironman in sight.  While the routine of getting in my training hours with the swim and bike has been nice, my weekly PT visits have started paying off.  I've been able to add in 4.5 miles of running back into my routine before hitting the trigger point with my knee.  Combined with a speed walk I end up clearing 7 miles in an hour and twenty minutes.  Obviously that's not going to get me through the 26.2 of the marathon portion of the Ironman but it's nice to know I should be able to do a bit of running on race day.  The MRI results from my orthopedic specialist also showed that my meniscus is in very good shape and there is only a 2mm - 4mm hole in my patellar cartilage.   Good news!

You may be saying, "But Sol... isn't a hole in the cartilage behind your knee cap a problem?"  For those of you who may not know I had a micro-fracture surgery on the same knee (left) in 2004.   The cartilage problem was much worse then and I haven't had an MRI since that procedure.  So to be perfectly honest, it may be that the hole just never got taken care of at that time.  It's impossible for me to say for sure.  In a nutshell though, I should be able to run as much on race day as I am able to gut out the pain.  For me that means I'll proceed cautiously.  In reality, I'm hoping to gut out about 8 miles of actual running. So my race day strategy here is to walk 2 miles... then run a mile.  I'll probably take an Ibuprofen on race day to act as an anti-inflammatory and help block the pain but it's something I'll only do in the rarest of circumstances.  I had a problem with Ibuprofen in high school that triggered kidney failure and left me hospitalized for a week.

The race is now 1 1/2 weeks away!  I've booked my travel and am making travel arrangements.  I'm staying at the Brown Hotel in Louisville and it looks to be a very nice hotel.  I'm flying Frontier Airlines with Patrick and his family next Thursday.  I'll make sure to get travel photos and will look to keep make a daily through race-day starting next Wednesday!!!

And now, it's time for me to draw on some inspiration.... I'll ride with this symbol to make my happy! Argh!!!!

And BTW... please wish me luck in the next week by eating McDonald's French Fries or your favorite candy. I'm not a spokesperson and I'm not advocating.  It just makes me happy... and hopefully you as well!!!