Chisago Lakes Half Ironman

>> Monday, July 30, 2007

Yesterday, I finished my first Half IM in Chisago City, MN, and it went well! Pharmie and I got a good early start, and hoped for a good day.

After getting set up in transition

Drum-roll Please! Introducing the new (and improved?) HAIRLESS Steve!


They’ll be more on the “path to hairlessness” later this week, so stay tuned! Anyway, while Pharmie and I were leaving transition, someone stopped me. “Hey, you’re Steve, right? I’m Jeremy, and I follow your blog.” He was a nice guy, doing his first Half IM. We wished him luck and hoped in the water.

The swim was calm. Nothing too fancy. I peed for the first time in my wetsuit. Twice actually. It was a strange feeling having that warmth slowly filter to all parts of my body. Weird. And not a sexy weird. (I almost titled this post “I’ve never had that much urine all over me for that length of time!”) I knew I was making good time for being a lousy swimmer. I wasn’t pushing too hard; I just felt smooth and calm and fast (fast for me). I was hoping I could finish in about 44 minutes, so I can’t complain.

Swim: 44:35

T1: 5:08

I headed out on the bike. I felt like I was going too fast. I kept telling myself to slow down. I was speaking to myself out loud like a crazy man. “Steve, take it easy – you’ve got a long ways to go...” I kept going fast. My average was near 20 mph over 20 miles in. I was thinking that I’ve never averaged 20 mph for any race distance – a year ago at the LTF Olympic, I averaged just over 19 mph for the 25 mile bike. I was really concerned that I was moving too fast and would die around mile 40, but I couldn’t slow myself down.

Around mile 14, I caught up to Pharmie. She started a few waves in front of me and had a 9 minute lead. She was doing good and moving fast. We talked for about a mile, and then I took off. The bike was rarely flat. It was good IM WI training, although the hills are more impressive in WI. There was a good killer 3/4 mile hill around mile 40 that hurt, but nothing too deadly. My average stayed high. Around mile 48, my feet really started to get sore. My toes on my left foot were going numb, and the ball of my foot was tingling like crazy. I was very uncomfortable. I got through it and headed to the finish with an 18 mph average. I had NOT expected to do that good on the bike! I attribute it to my hairlessness. When thinking about every possible scenario, my finish on the bike yesterday was about the best I could have hoped for!

Bike: 3:05:13

I took my time in T2 and did a few leg exercises to get my knee in good shape to start the run. It hadn’t been bothering me at all on the bike, but I knew it wasn’t going to be 100% for the entire run.

T2: 4:00

I kept moving on the run. I ran past Jeremy at about mile 2. He wasn’t having a great day. I wished him luck and kept going. Jeremy, if you’re reading this, don’t give up on triathlons – if they were easy, everyone would be a triathlete. I had some sharp knee pain around mile 3, but I altered my stride a bit and got though it. I stopped for 2 minutes at mile 4 to do a few leg exercises for my knee, and took off again.

The run was an out-and-back, so I got to see many people that were much faster than I on their way back towards the finish. A few miles in, I ran into Cindy from Tria (where I worked with Margi, my PT) and shouted to her. She was ROCKIN! A few minutes later, I ran into Rural Girl. I’m not gonna lie – she looked a little beat up, but she was moving great!

I stopped for a quick water at every water stop, but kept moving. I stopped to walk for about a minute 2 more times, but all was good. I wanted to have my average closer to 8:00 miles, but I had such a good swim and bike that I couldn’t be getting too greedy. I knew I was going to break 6 hours easily. Again, the BEST scenario that I had worked out had me finishing in about 5:40. I was close enough. It was a good day. Mission accomplished.

Run: 1:48:15

My official results:
• 1.2 mile swim - 44:35
• T1 - 5:08
• 56 mile bike - 3:05:13 (18.0 mph ave)
• T2 - 4:00
• 13.1 mile run – 1:48:15 (8:16 / mile ave)
• Total - 5:47:13

As I waited for Pharmie to finish, I talked with Rural Girl and her family. She’s a got a real sweet family! We ate our post-race meal together. I had 6 Swedish pancakes, 6 wheat buns, and a yogurt. De-lish! I saw Rural Girl a little later, and she was carrying around a little box. I knew that was good news! She ended up placing first in her age group, and she was ecstatic! Congrats Rural Girl!!

Pharmie came in a few minutes later, taking nearly 20 minutes off her time from last year, and she felt great about it!

I feel real good about this finish. A few more good weeks of training, and I think I’ll be ready for IM WI!! Stop back shortly for more photos from Chisago Half IM and the story of me becoming hair-free!


Vacation Workouts

>> Tuesday, July 24, 2007

So I was going to go for a good open water swim in Lake Mary in Alexandria, MN, but it was so stinkin’ foggy. I would have lost the shoreline and gotten stuck in the middle of the lake. Or I would've been hit by a boat. Here’s a photo of Brad, Michael, Dave, and Grandpa Clem coming in from fishing in the fog:

I let the fog burn off for another hour, and then I hit the water for a nice, calm 30-minute open water swim. Here are a few more vacation photos with the fam:

Michelle, Kelsey, Dave, and I swimming late into the night

My favorite cousins and I on the floating raft:
Brittany, Candy, and Kelsey

Then, this morning, I was able to complete my first 10 mile run since high school! It was non-stop, and took me 1 hour, 19 minutes, and 49 seconds. It was just faster than 8-minute miles. My knee started hurting around mile 6, but I was able to hold it off and finish the 10 miles. I’m feeling better about Chisago Half IM this weekend. We’ll see how it goes. I hope to be hair-free by then. Stay tuned for that!...



>> Monday, July 23, 2007

This past week, I kept track of my daily caloric intake for 2 days because I was curious. Tuesday I consumed nearly 4,200 calories and Wednesday I had over 4,500 calories. AND I’M STILL LOSING WEIGHT!! Before I officially started training, I would always float around 160 pounds. I dropped a few lbs, and thought nothing of it. Then I dropped under 150 and got a little scared. This past week, I was under 148. I’m wasting away!

Al had suggested weight training to add some mass, but I’ve been doing that for nearly 10 years. I’ve actually been losing a lot of that muscle during all of my training. And I think that I’m actually getting slower on the bike. As long as I can cover the distance, I guess I can’t complain...

I’m currently on a short family vacation in Alexandria, MN. We are staying at a little cabin on Lake Mary, and I was hoping to do a good open water swim this morning. But I woke up to a lot of fog. And I thought that would just be stupid to go swim in that. So here I am sitting at Caribou instead. For those of you doing Chisago Sprint or Half IM this weekend, I’ll see you out there! Make sure to say “hi!”


Good News / Bad News / First Unofficial Half IM Tri

>> Tuesday, July 17, 2007

First, the bad news:

I signed up late for the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis this year because I wasn’t sure if my knee would be ready. Well, it’s ready. But I didn’t make cut. I hadn’t heard from LTF, so I went to the Expo Friday afternoon. They told me, “Nope, sorry.” I was really hoping I could do that tri. It would have been a blast, just like last year. Super bummer.

Turn bad news in to good news:

Instead of the LTF Tri, I did an unofficial Half-Ironman distance triathlon. Well, nearly. I swam 43 laps in the pool at the Y, drove home and hopped on my bike for 56 miles, got back and went for a run. At the end of my bike, my knee was getting a little sore, and it didn’t hold up well on the run, so I only ran 6.5 miles. The run was half of a half IM distance.

I swam at the pool at the Y. I did 43 laps in the 25 yard pool in 43:34 without using the walls to push off (to mimic open water swimming). Then I got out of the pool, dried off, left the Y, drove home, got my bike ready, made a little poopy, and hoped on my bike. Transition 1 official time was 23:34. Yeah, I’m hoping to take some time off of that during my half IM in 2 weeks.

I biked a hilly course and it was a windy day - perfect training for both the half IM in 2 weeks (Chisago Lakes Half IM) and IM WI in September. The news said the wind was 15-25, and it sucked. But it was good for me. I suppose. I went out on the Gateway and south on 55 nearly into Stillwater and back. Here’s a photo on the rollers at the turn-around point:

My knee got a little sore pushing against that wind, but it was holding up. I figured I wouldn’t try to kill myself on the run, and I’d just go as far as I could. I finished the bike with nearly a 17.5 mph average. My final time was about 3 hours, 10 minutes on the bike (3:23:20 actual time including stops). T2 was better: 4:44.

Then I hit the run. My knee was sore, so took it easy. I walked twice. I’ve NEVER walked on a run before, so that was a new feeling for me.

Unofficial Modified Half Ironman Triathlon:
• Swim: 43 laps (1.22 miles) in 43:34
• T1: 23:34 (drive home, get on bike)
• Bike: 56.3 miles in 3:23:20 (actual time including stops)
• T2: 4:44
• Run: 6.5 miles in 55:59
• Overall: 5:31:13 total time

Oh, more bad news:

I’m still losing weight. After WIBA and that HUGE meal that I ate (see the last post), I still ended up losing a half pound on the weekend. Pharmie and I were grocery shopping the other night, and she was buying me ice cream treats and burritos. She actually admitted to me that she was trying to fatten me up!

Good news!!!!:

When I met with my physical therapist last week, she said that I don’t need to see her anymore! I’m strengthening my butt and knee, and there’s not much more she said she could do for me. We both smiled, we shook hands, I thanked her, and that was that. Thanks for your help, Margi!


WIBA Report

>> Monday, July 09, 2007

Well, Pharmie and I made it back from our weekend in WI where were a part of the Wisconsin Ironman Brick Adventure (or WIBA). We had a blast, met some GREAT people, got in a good workout, and got to swim, bike, and run on the IM WI course. We learned A LOT! This post will get a little long, but it’s filled with some good stuff. I promise.

Our WIBA weekend started on Friday night, where we all had a meal at a great little Italian place in Downtown Madison. Wil, who planned this massive event, thought we could have 30 people out there. There were over 60 that showed up!!

We had a good meal and got to catch up with some friends we met at WIBA last year (last year we could all sit at 1 table!). We talked with Wil, Robby B, Stu, Thomps, a handful of new triathletes, and then Phamie and I were off to our hotel room. Just to make this known, last year we were both at WIBA, but I did not ride. I was not training for an IM then, so during their ride, I walked to Arbys from our hotel and had fries. This year was much more “educational.”

Saturday morning, we were up at the butt crack of dawn to head to Lake Monona for a swim. We got there, and Wil was talking to a member of some ski team, trying to tell him that we had gotten permission to swim up and down the shore, and that we didn’t want to die via boat-to-the-skull.

Wil’s in the red cap in the middle

The boat stayed out, but they were considerate of where we were all swimming.

I slipped into my wetsuit for only the second time, and it was the first time that it was going to hit water. It feels like I’m wearing nothing at all!

(In case you didn’t pick up on it, my pose in that photo and that last line about wearing “nothing at all” was a Simpson’s rip-off. Here’s the original clip. It’s great.)

I can’t figure out what that arrow on my wetsuit
is supposed to be pointing at...

Pharmie, Wil, and I hopped in the water after most everyone else had started. The swim started VERY POORLY for me. It was my first open water swim in about 11 months, and I did the “hit the water and freak out” thing. It was horrible for the first 5 minutes. I would throw out 4 strokes, and then suck in some water. I was not comfortable at all, and I was just trying not to die.

But then, I let out a HUGE belch, calmed myself down, and from there I was GREAT. Apparently I wasn’t freaked out, I was just gassy! The last 20 minutes of our 30 minute swim was super. I fell into my pool-swimming routine, and felt very comfortable out there. I need to hit the open water MUCH more, but that swim was still a nice confidence booster. I was able to exit the water right where we will for IM - it was great to run through the paces 2 months ahead of time.

After the swim. You can see the boat that was
trying to kill us in the background.

After that, we got changed and hit the bike. There were nearly 70 people ready to ride with WIBA, and there were COUNTLESS others out there riding the course. I wanted to be doing one of 2 things at any given moment on the ride: I either wanted to be riding with fun tri-people and chatting OR I wanted to be riding by myself and taking in the course. There were 3 groups going out: One that was going to just ride the loop twice; one that was going to start at the Terrace, ride out to the loop, ride the loop ONCE, and ride back; and one that was going to ride the full 112 mile course (start at the Terrace, ride out to the loop, ride the loop TWICE, and ride back). Pharmie and I were going to do the out and back with one loop so we could see the entire course - that ride would be about 72 miles. The ride started well. We rode with Thomps and Matt.

Blogger friends: (from the left)
Me, Pharmie, Bubba, Al, Marty, Triteacher

That’s Pharmie in the foreground, working up
a hill after some great rollers

Pharmie was lagging a little from the start. She wasn’t having a great day. She kept telling me to go on without her. We stopped for her a few times so she could catch up. I wished I was going a little faster, so finally around mile 30, I took off in front of her. There was a group in front of us and a group behind us. I tried to catch up to the group that was ahead. But I was too far back, and I couldn’t see them. That’s when I missed my turn. But I didn’t know it then.

I went down a fast hill, kept going for a while, and came to a T. I had to go left or right, but I couldn’t see anyone in either direction. So I waited. And waited. It felt like forever, and no one was coming behind me. Pharmie had the map. I had nothing. Shit. I was lost in the middle of WI.

After 7 minutes, I turned around and tried to figure out where I went wrong. After backtracking a bit, I saw 2 bikers in the distance that were heading towards me. They were turning around as well, so I sprinted to catch up to them. It was Wil and Al. I was SO HAPPY to see them! It turns out that Wil missed the turn as well and Al was just behind her. Al followed her down the hill to tell her that she missed the turn. And then they found me and I had someone to show me the way. Fabulous! As we were all headed back up that bitch of a hill, Wil said it was our “Ironman extra credit,” and she was right. That hill was steeper than any of “The 3 Ironman Hills,” and it made those upcoming hills feel like nothing.

The 3 of us met up with Jennifer and Sherry, and the 5 of us rode the majority of the rest of the course together. Sherry’s husband, Howard, was with us the whole time on his motorcycle, and he was a great help! We went slower than I really wanted, but it was just great to be with other WIBA folks! I was just so nervous that Pharmie would be freaking out at the end of the ride because I wasn’t there. As far as she knew, I was ahead of her waiting for her at the end. But because of that “extra credit,” I was behind her, and she didn’t know it. I was nervous for her the rest of my ride.

I had a minor victory out there: I was able to tackle The 3 Ironman Hills in my saddle the whole time. I only needed to stand on that “extra credit” hill where I missed my turn. That made me feel pretty good about the course.

The 4 others contemplating the ride up middle of “The 3 Hills”

Wil and I had a nice chat out on the 3 IM hills that were out there. She commented that she’d be out on the course for one more lap and she’d be seeing these hills again. I snickered a little and told her “Just remember: when you hit the base of this 3rd and final hill next time, know that Pharmie and I will be in our 65 degree hotel room, in our bed, having sex. Think of THAT when you’re climbing this bad boy next time.” She laughed and said “I’m SO glad you guys came out this year!” She told me that about 5 times that day, and it was always after I said something dirty that made her laugh.

When we had about 25 miles left, I was getting ready to stop and place my right foot on the ground. Somehow, I nailed the inside of my right ankle on my pedal. I knew it was a good deep wound right away. Here it is about 5 miles later:

Last year at WIBA, Stu would sing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood...” Wil asked if we could sing. Al and I started to have an annoying song contest. We sang songs that get stuck in our heads during workouts:

Al: “Movin’ to the country, gonna eat me a lot of peaches.
Movin’ to the country, gonna eat me a lot of peaches.”

Me: “When the sun shines we’ll shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
Something something something something stick it out 'till the end...”

Al: “Movin’ to the country, gonna eat me a lot of peaches.
Movin’ to the country, gonna eat me a lot of peaches.”

Me: “You can stand under my Umbrella
Ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(ella ella eh eh eh)
Under my umbrella
(ella ella eh eh eh eh eh eh)”

Al: Ooh, that gets this in my head: “S.O.S. please someone help me.
It's not healthy, for me to feel this way...”

Al again: Have you heard of “Six Pence None The Richer?” Let’s sing “Kiss Me!”

We didn’t. But we had a good time anyway. When the 5 of us were about 15 miles from the end of our ride, we stopped at a gas station for our final stop. Al and I decided to eat something inappropriate during a IM bike ride. So I had a Slushie and a glazed donut, and Al had a Slushie and a brat:

Perfect tri-fuel!

To make a long story a little shorter, I finished my ride (which was about 74 miles due to me getting lost), Pharmie and I met up, and we did a quick 2 mile run-off just to see how it would feel. Our legs were heavy, but it was no problem. Here’s how my ankle looked at the end of the day:

After the ride and a quick run-off, Phamie and I showered up. I cleaned out my ankle wound (OUCH!) and had Pharmie take a look at it again. She said I probably should’ve had stitches, but it was too late for that. The skin flap that was hanging there was already curling and drying up at the edges. It was so gross and nasty that I had to just cut it off. But it was so big that there were a lot of nerves in there when I was cutting it off. So that was NOT easy (OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!). I hacked off the flap with a little scissors and flushed it unceremoniously down the toilet.

I also noticed that I had a nasty sunburn on the outside of the same ankle that got all cut up. I can’t complain if this is the only burn of the day:

Pharmie took a little rest, and then we took off for The Great Dane in downtown Madison. I was looking forward to my “Man Burger” all day. They have a burger there (I forget the actual name of the burger on the menu because it’s really long) that is a 1/3 lb beef patty with a 1/4 lb brat patty on top with bacon, onions, and cheese, and it’s served on a soft pretzel that’s cut in half and used as a bun:

That wasn’t enough. I helped Pharmie with her meal, and then I ordered a pizza:

Pharmie and I were sitting next to Rural Girl, and she was AMAZED at my caloric intake. I think she feared me. I eat like a crazy man, and I’m STILL losing weight. Later, Wil told Pharmie “There’s a special place in ‘Fat People Hell’ for Steve.” I’ll take that as a complement.

On Sunday morning, we got up and headed to the Terrace for a run. I talked with fellow Minnesotan Taconite Boy for a few minutes before the run. I went out with Al and 3 other guys that were all in the fastest group - Andy, “coach,” and Andy’s brother. I did one loop of the course without going back out on State Street. I think it was just under an 8 mile run in just under an hour. Once Pharmie and I got back to St. Paul, I did a 6.25 mile run, so I had 14 miles on the day. The GREAT news of the weekend was that my knee held up to all of this!

Advice for other IM WI participants:
I don’t have a ton to say, and a lot of it is pretty basic, but here are some meager thoughts for other IM WI participants:
• The swim is a normal swim. It’s wet. Goggles are involved. Basic. There are some stones at the end when you run out of the water, but I think those might be covered by something on race day.
• On the bike, there’s a “bottle launcher” within the first mile to watch out for. Right on John Nolen Drive, there is a bridge that has a SUPER bump on the near side where it’s easy to lose a water bottle. And we don’t want that happening in the first mile of the bike, now do we. No, I didn’t think so.
• The cows in WI stink, but not too badly. There was no choking for me. Not even close.
• The roads are a mix between new and bumpy. But there are never any fast downhills that get too rough or scary. So don’t worry.
• There aren’t many flat sections of the course. Usually, you’re going up or down something. There wasn’t much time to be down in aero for a good chunk of time. Although, the course doesn’t NEED you to be in aero for most of it, but just know that there are just really few areas of actual flat riding.
• Get used to your gears. I was looking down a lot to see if I had jumped from my smallest to my largest chain ring. There’s A LOT of shifting being done!
• Overall, the bike was NOT as bad as I thought it was going to be. Yes, it’s hilly - those rumors are true. But if you keep training on some good hills, you’ll be fine. I was expecting gut-busting hills, but it wasn’t too bad. I was able to stay seated for the climbs. I know that the 2nd loop during the race will be much different...
• The run is mostly flat. There’s not much going on there. There’s a decent hill that you’ll hit twice (maybe around mile 5 and mile 18) that’s on the college campus near the observatory. That’s a bit of a tough one, but any other hills on the run a just small ones - nothing like the bike.

Link Love:
If you’re curious about any of the folks that I’ve written about above, here are the links to their sites:
Pharmie, my wife
Wil, who planned this massive event!
Stu, great guy!
Robby B, another great guy!
Al, bike partner
Rural Girl, who thinks I’m nuts!
Taconite Boy

I’m HORRIBLE with names. So if I have you listed incorrectly above, I’m very sorry. Please let me know and I’ll fix it. If I have you listed as Debbie and your name is really Dan, just let me know. And I’ll probably forget your name come IM. So again, if I see you in September and call you Debbie and your name is really Dan, I’m so sorry.


WIBA Bound!

>> Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tomorrow (Friday, July 6), Pharmie and I are headed out to Madison for a weekend of IM preparation. We are taking part in WIBA, or the “Wisconsin Ironman Brick Adventure.” We went out last year for Pharmie, and we met some super folks! During their ride last year, I walked to Arbys from our hotel and had some curly fries. This year, I’ll be working my ass off along with the rest of them.

As far as I know, we’ll go out to eat with the WIBA crew on Friday night, ride the IM WI bike course and then do a run off at the end of the ride on Saturday (when it’s supposed to be 96 degrees), and then go for an open water swim on Sunday morning (which Pharmie and I may or may not stick around for). It should be a blast! I’ll have pictures along with my thoughts of the IM WI bike course sometime next week.

On a separate note, earlier this week I went for a morning bike ride with my shirt off. Rarely do I ride with my shirt off because it always seems kinda skeezy. I don’t know why, but it just does. But it was a HOT day with stagnant, sticky, gross air. Anyway, I apparently needed sunscreen. My entire back USE TO be the color of that white line right above my shorts. Oops.


Random Things

>> Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Here’s a list of random things that haven’t been quite important enough to post all by themselves, but together their powers combine to create some minor importance:

• About 3 months ago, I was complemented on my “Total Immersion” swim technique. I had just finished a medium-distance swim at the Y, and a woman proceeded to tell me that I had great form and that she once taught the Total Immersion swim technique. I felt cool for about an hour.

• I’m hoping for a 12 – 13 hour finish in IM.

• I’ve lost 12 pounds in the past month, and I really didn’t have 12 pounds to give. With stepping up my training, I’m down to 148 pounds. I think most of it is muscle loss, but I had a little chub to burn off. A few weeks ago, Pharmie made a comment that I had lost my love-handles (it was, appropriately, right after love-making).

• My blog recently had it’s 1 year blog-iversary and its 10,000 hit! June 14th was the one year anniversary of my athletic blog. I added a statcounter on August 13th of last year, and on June 26th, my blog rolled over to 10,000 hits!

• Last week I logged over 11,500 meters in the pool. Sweet.

• I had a 60 mile ride a week and a half ago, and then hit the breakfast HARD. The ride went well – my knee got a little sore, but I rode in a lower gear and kept my legs spinning instead of mashing and I was fine! I was pretty happy with my knee and I averaged 17.6 mph. I was teaching a class at MCAD that also offered me free meals, so I finished my early morning ride, booked it over to MCAD for the end of brunch, and had 2 platefuls of food totaling 9 strips of bacon, about 2.5 lbs of scrambled eggs, 2 Danishes, a blueberry muffin, a glass and a half of juice and milk, and a hardboiled egg.

Plate 1:

Plate 2:

I’m not sure how I lost those 12 pounds!



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