Posts Tagged ‘Kerrville Half Ironman’

Dom –

It’s been awhile since I’ve written to you and I wanted to let you know you have been front and center in my thoughts even more than you usually are the last 24 hours or so.  I was waiting outside of a conference room yesterday, about to pitch a concept that would bring a new signature race to Austin as part of my new job.  I picked up a magazine to kill a few moments and there was a feature article about Lance Armstrong and his fall from grace.

I thought about you and seeing your yellow Livestrong Bracelet that you wore throughout your cancer battle.  How it served as a great reminder and motivator when I was training for those two marathons in 13 days.  I closed my eyes briefly and could picture it getting bigger and bigger around your wrist that summer, knowing full well the band was staying the same, it was you who was changing.

Last night I met up with Jason and Brian for the first time in several months.  The conversation turned to running, racing and marathons as it often does and Brian started telling a mutual friend Ed about his first “major race” which was the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon the day I ran the full as the second marathon for you and Run for Dom.

I listened quietly as the two brothers talked about having pre-race dinner with you, Val and the rest of the gang and how after only knowing you briefly – they felt so close to you, as if they had known you for years and years.

That was the gift you had Dom.  You truly were someone who people were drawn to.  Your enthusiasm was infectious.  And not just enthusiasm for things you were passionate about, like the Steelers, Penguins, your family or West Virginia Football.  But your enthusiasm for life.

You made everything around you just a little more exciting.  A little more vivid.  A little more special.

I really miss the hell out of you.

Right now Landry is just about the same age as Sierra was when you were first diagnosed with Cancer.  I look at her growing up literally in front of my eyes and I think about how lucky I am to have such a perfect front row seat for her life.  She is swimming, riding her bike and running Dom.  30 months old.  I have no idea where all that is going to go down the line – but the kid has a lot of heart, a lot of spirit and just enough of a stubborn streak (surely from Dawn) to be dangerous.

Landry's 2nd Haircut

Landry’s 2nd Haircut

I frankly can’t wait sometimes to see how it is all going to turn out for her.

Then I think about Sierra, Nico, you and Val and I am still heartbroken 2 1/2 years after we laid you to rest that summer day in Pittsburgh.  I find myself getting angry all over again at times asking the same tired questions that as long as I live I will never get any answers to.  At least none that will make even the smallest difference.

So instead I’m going to do what I always do Dom.   I’m going to pour those frustrations into training.

I put the finishing touches on my race season for spring, summer and fall that will again take us to Ironman 70.3 and this time we’re going to be shooting for that 4:59:XX.

We were 6 minutes off of that in Kerrville last year.  2 minutes in the swim, 2 minutes on the bike, 2 minutes on the run and we’re home.  I’m going to train a couple of thousand miles between now and then Dom for those 360 seconds.  Something that I know a lot of people just can’t make sense of doing.

That’s o.k., I’m learning there are a whole lot of things that don’t make sense to a whole lot of people.  In the end it only has to make sense to ourselves, the ones we love and the people we care about.

Those 360 seconds are all yours Dom.  Make sure you are paying attention on race day in September.

We are going to absolutely crush it.

I miss you brother.

With the pre-race nerves starting to arrive this week just in time for our debut in the half-ironman, I decided that I would stay cool, keep things light and try to use humor to keep me calm.

One of my stand-by all-time favorite things to distract me and make me laugh are “Chuck Norris Jokes”.  They never seem to get old such as:

Chuck Norris has already been to mars, that’s why there is no sign of life.


There used to be a street named after Chuck Norris but they had to change it as nobody crosses Chuck Norris and lives.

So, in the spirit of Triathlon – here are a few personal favorite Chuck Norris jokes, triathlon style:

Chuck Norris didn’t get an Ironman tattoo, Ironman got a tattoo of Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris does not use Body Glide; his nipples can cut steel.

Chuck Norris doesn’t need a wetsuite because water gets out of his way.

Chuck Norris eats actual hammers for nutrition.

Chuck Norris did Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman New Orleans. He never stopped swimming. The Mississippi River was created.

Chuck Norris has only wrecked once, in Ironman Arizona. The aftermath of his crash is commonly known as The Grand Canyon.

Chuck Norris has no need for aero bars, disc wheels, or a helmet. He simply stairs down the air and it moves out of his way.

Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a timing chip on his ankle. Once the race is over HE decides what his time should be.

Chuck Norris does not need a razor to shave his legs. He just has to flex.

Chuck Norris can volunteer at a triathlon and still win it.

You know what Chuck Norris puts in his fuel belt? Fuel.

Chuck Norris had to stop training for the bike. When he rode from east to west, the Earth’s rotation changed causing time to reverse. Later, the makers of Superman II stole his idea.

When Chuck Norris did Ironman, the lead motorcycle had to draft off him just to keep up.

Chuck Norris is allowed to buy “Finisher merchandise” before the race.

During the post-ironman interview, Chuck Norris responded with, “What race?”

If Chuck Norris got a flat on the bike, he would just take yours.

T-5 days and counting.  We’re ready.  I do wish I would be able to use Chuck’s leg-shaving strategy on Saturday night.  I still have yet to master that aspect of race preparation.  It will be a minor miracle if I can get the stems shaved clean without cutting myself at least 5 times ….

72 days from now we will be staring our first Ironman 70.3 directly in the eye, preparing for what will be the longest race of our life by more than one hour.  To date the “longest day of my life” as an endurance athlete was our first marathon in November, 2006.

3:58:08 – Philadelphia.

A respectable maiden voyage for the marathon distance breaking through the 4 hour barrier which is a relatively “major” goal for first time marathoners.  Especially those who have been running for just one year at that point.

The reality I face at Kerrville however is that if everything goes exactly according to plan, we get good weather and I have a GREAT day, I am going to be out on the course a little more than one hour longer.

This introduces nutrition, caloric intake, hydration in an entirely new way to ensure we are able to run the event ending half marathon to the best of our abilities.  During a typical stand-alone half marathon on a cool day I take in no nutrition on the course, take a small sip of water every 3-4 miles with a gulp of electrolyte replacement twice during the race.

Less than 8 ounces of fluid consumed in a race that lasts somewhere between 1:23:00 and 1:26:00 depending on the course and my performance.  That strategy will not be possible after a 1.2 mile swim and 56-mile bike.  Practicing my nutrition on my longer rides and “Big Training Days” where I swim, bike and run all in the same day covering long distances — more or less race simulation with breaks in between disciplines to reduce recovery time after the workout — will be a big factor in my performance at Kerrville.  I need to get that as close to “right” as possible if I want to make a run at a time just over 5 hours.

The other major factor on race day is going to be the bike.  It represents 79.65% of the total race distance and given my paces and goals for the race, slightly over 50% of my total time.

“The Bike” is going to tell the story on race day.  That is why racing last Sunday’s Couples Triathlon was so important for me.  It gave me an opportunity to race over the identical bike course we completed two months prior at the Rookie Triathlon.

The only difference was that for Couples I had a pre-bike swim that was 500 Meters further, and the temperature was 10 degrees warmer.  Comparing my bike performance after more training time in the saddle was something I was looking forward to, hoping to see a stronger rider and better “racer”.

So how did we stack up?

Couples Triathlon 32:17 20.9 mph           Rookie Triathlon  33:21 20.1 mph

Mile 1:   2:34                                                     Mile 1:  2:44     (-:10)

Mile 2:   2:53                                                     Mile 2:  3:00     (-.07)

Mile 3:   2:38                                                     Mile 3:  2:37     (+:01)

Mile 4:   2:20                                                     Mile 4:  2:24     (-:04)

Mile 5:   2:44                                                     Mile 5:  2:51     (-:07)

Mile 6:   3:08                                                     Mile 6:  3:17     (-:09)

Mile 7:   3:04                                                     Mile 7:  3:07     (-:03)

Mile 8:   2:18                                                     Mile 8:  2:17     (+:01)

Mile 9:   3:22                                                     Mile 9:  3:24     (-:02)

Mile 10:  2:40                                                    Mile 10: 2:43     (-:03)

Mile 11:   3:34                                                   Mile 11:  3:28     (+:06)

Two things of note, on mile 6 of the rookie, I had to address my dropped chain, costing me valuable seconds.  On the final mile at Couples, I decided to shift to the small front ring over the final 1/4 mile and “spin fast” to get all the blood flowing back in my legs and get rid of some of that “jelly-leg” feeling before dismounting for the run.

Aside from those two variables, this is just about the most even comparison you could hope to find when benchmarking fitness and race ability.  Extrapolating this improvement out over a race 5X as long (56 mile Half IM ride) we are looking at an improvement in the neighborhood of 5 minutes.

That takes a big bite out of our swim deficit that will put us more than 10 minutes behind the competitors we will be chasing for that final podium spot (3rd place in Age Group).  If we hit the run course 7-8 minutes behind that spot, hold on to your hat.

For us, the race is going to be just getting started.  They had better break 8:00 min./mile over the run course if they hope to hang on as we’ll be trying to take :20-:30 minutes per mile off of their lead.

The bike is going to put us in position to strike.  Over the next 10 weeks we are going to continue to sharpen that sword and keep pushing in the saddle.

After all, the only way to sharpen steel is with steel.