Jane Tomlinson, 1964-2007

A tip of the hat to Karl for this, which is very appropriate for the post yesterday about my Goddess’ efforts.

From the website janesappeal.com, look at these CV:

During this period Jane, a mother of three from Leeds, took on a series of apparently impossible challenges, for someone suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatment, including a full Ironman (4km Swim, 180Km bike ride and full marathon – completed inside 17 hours), two half Ironmans, the London Marathon three times, the New York Marathon, three London Triathlons and three long distance bike rides – John O Groats to Lands End, Rome to Home and her final huge challenge a 6781.8 km ride across America

One of our own.

I’ve just been introduced to you, Jane. But we are connected.


My Goddess, My God

First off, my Goddess.

After only five and a half hours of sleep, she got up at 4am with nary a cross word, helped pack the car, stayed awake on the drive to the lake, saw me off, moved the car to the transition area after the park opened, had my refill of bottles ready when I finished bike loop 1, was there again when I finished the bike, helped me transition to the run by making sure my bottles were ready, then smiled at me when I was done. Seven and a half hours, parked in empty parking lots, then later surrounded by some of finer specimens that America has to offer. Not a peep of complaint, just encouragement. She even drove home. My Goddess rocks!

On to the workout. It was to be eight hours, with the full 112 mile bike ride for my upcoming race, followed by the balance running. Didn’t work out that way. “Only” 7:20, but discretion is the better part of surviving.

The bike ended up being 114.5 miles, mainly because I had to tack on an extra mile and back to get to my Goddess at the end of loop one for a refill.

From the beginning, a good breakfast of 650 calories two hours before the start. In the parking lot, I did what I do best – sabotage myself. I thought that a PowerBar would be a good choice to top things off right before I took off. A PowerBar and a sip of water. Fifteen miles into it and the GI distress started. Good job, Bill! Luckily I caught it immediately and was able to have things sorted out and back on schedule by mile 40. Lap 1: 3:17:17.

By the start of lap 2, the wind had picked up. That meant grinding into a stiff headwind. But before that stretch of the loop, I had to cross the bridge. My God, the bridge. About 7 miles from the transition area, we have to cross Lake Barkley, which is actually a wide part of the Cumberland River. The Cumberland is a working river, which means large coal barges must travel past. So this bridge is tall, some 80 feet off the water in the middle. It’s a 1930’s vintage design, so there’s no shoulder, just the white line, then a waist high railing. Mind you, I’m not afraid of heights. But this bridge unnerved me. Never mind that traffic starts backing up, because I’m going to take my part of the lane right down the middle, thank you. Oh, and that part about avoiding Zone 5 at all costs during an endurance event? So much for that. Had to cross the bloody thing four times today. Luckily the drivers were considerate.

Lap two was more interesting. The typical stages of an Ironman ride worked their way through my body. Miles 75-90 were definitely uncomfortable. But then it started looking up again. Loop 2: 3:23:36. A bit slower, but I’ll take it.

Total ride: 114.45 miles, time: 6:49:26 (including my 6 minute stop between loops and a 3 minute stop at mile 100 to fill my water bottles).

Now, the time’s not fast, but it’ll definitely do for my race day. What that doesn’t show is the climbing. This route has a some hills. Only one’s a wall, and that’s at mile 111 for race day. Total climbing for the route is a whopping 7,158 feet! Have a look here at the route and the elevation slice.

By comparison, the longest standard ride that I take from my house is 76 miles with a “measly” 1,541 feet of climbing.

So taking into account the climbing, I’m quite pleased with the time and my performance. Outside the GI distress in the early parts, my nutrition was spot on. My average heart rate for the entire ride was 129 bpm, well entrenched in Zone 2 for the majority of the ride, with some time in Zone 3, less than 13 minutes in Zone 4, and only 3 minutes in Zone 5 (bloody bridge). I finished the ride ready for the run.

Given the effort on the ride, I decided to scale back my run. I was shooting for 8 hours total workout, but that was only so I could “rescue” my weekly hours and make up some time I lost missing my two swims this week due to work commitments. Since I had plenty of time to think about it, I realized that the best thing to do was to fall back on Gordo‘s original plan for this day, which was the 112 mile ride followed by a 4 mile run. Nothing more.

So the run starts out just like it did for my Half, straight up. In the first .8 mile, the climb is 219 feet, which is an average grade of 5 percent. However, it’s not a steady climb; there’s actually some flat parts and a downhill stretch. So in parts the grade is a fair bit steeper, probably in the 9-10 percent range. So I already figured my race strategy for my marathon – walk the first mile. After that there are a couple of fairly steep hills, which I’ll likely walk. Otherwise, it’s rolling for the entire run. Manageable, but I suspect there will be quite a few walkers out there.

Quite a bit of words for just one workout, eh? I’ll do it again in a month, then do the whole thing in two months time.

But between now and then, I’ve got some work to do in the hills.


On the ride I had plenty of time to add to my “tagged list”:

Shows I enjoy:

  • Two and a Half Men. I can’t believe I forgot this show, which has me rolling every week.

Guilty Pleasures:

  • Music. Again, I’m not guilty about this at all. 600+ CD’s, 250-ish album, and I keep adding to the collection.

I tagged Karl, who managed to tag me as well with a slightly different list.  Someone’s got to get this under control!  😉
Hope all is well with you.

Taylorsville Race Report

Bottom line – I finished!

My planned time, not my goal, was 6 hours. I based on that total time on where I expected to be based on my training so far. Here’s how it panned out:

Swim (1.2 miles): 35:19 (4th of 22 in my Age Group)
T1: 1:30
Bike (56 miles): 2:55:14 (5 of 22)
T2: 1:52
Run (13.1 miles): 2:32:04 (19th of 22)
Total: 70.3 miles in 6:05:38 (12th of 22)
or 49th of 73 total finishers

So I hit my planned time pretty close. My number one goal was to simply finish. Everything else was gravy.

I didn’t do too good of a job researching the race beforehand, only to find out last week that I was facing over 5400 feet of climbing during the ride. Since I don’t have too many significant hills in my area, this was a shock. And since I’m a heavy rider, I knew that it was going to be quite an experience.

The quick recap -Wait, wait, wait; start, swim, swim, swim, splash, swim, swim, swim; run, peel, run, peel, pedal, pedal, pedal, coast, pedal, pedal; run, run, run, walk, run, walk, walk, walk, run, walk, run, Finish!

The long recap:

Thanks to a very cool night (47F) and a warm 71F lake, visibilility was zero. Apparently this isn’t the first time it has happened for this race, so the start was pushed back 30 minutes to start at 8:30am.

Swim – Very comfortable. I didn’t push the pace and kept right at a 1:40/100 yard pace, which is my normal pace during my long pool intervals. I know I could have gone harder, but didn’t want to since I didn’t know how the rest of the day was going to play out. So I was quite surprised today to see that my swim was 4th in my age group.

With only about 100 people in the water (there was an AquaBike event at the same time), the jostling was fairly non-existent, although there was one jerk who decided he needed to swim over me hundred yards or so into the swim even though there wasn’t anyone else withing 10 feet of us; a couple of well-placed elbows got him to move along.

The course had buoys set up in a curved line, with the turn-around buoy about 1/3 mile out; we had to do two laps of the course. Since the buoy line curved to the right during the out leg, I’d end up a bit wide and have to correct, but nothing serious. What I couldn’t understand was that on the return leg, folks were sticking right next to the buoys instead of taking the straight shot from the turnaround back to the start buoy. But everyone has to swim their own race, right?

Transition 1 (T1) – With a 100 yard run up the boat ramp into the transition area, the wetsuit came off quick with no problems. I set up on the far end of the transition in the very first rack, so I had the furthest to run, but only feet to carry my bike out and back in. Wetsuit off, gel in pocket, helmet on and bike off the rack. Done in under 2 minutes.

Bike – Straight out of the transition is about 150 yards of gradual uphill in the parking lot, then a steep climb of 120 feet in about 1/10 mile. What a nice way to wake the legs up after swimming. Like I said above, 5400+ feet of climbing to come in the next 56 miles and the start was one of the worst. Not the worst, but one of the worst.

The worst was at the 25.5 mile point, where we climbed about 150 feet in 1/10 mile. With my wide load, I was passed by six guys on that climb. It took me the better part of the next 20 miles to catch half of them.

For me, the best part of the hills is down. I’ve got enough extra weight that gravity is my friend. And in the flats and small rolling hills, I’m a locomotive. It’s just the short and steeps uphills that really knock me down. Luckily those were few. I passed about as many as passed me and heading out to the the turnaround point on an out-and-back leg, I counted that I was in 12th place overall. But that was right before that steep hill at 25.5 miles.

Finishing the bike leg was welcome. I still felt quite strong, but could feel the onset of fatigue. At this point, I was 3:30 into the race. I was pleasantly surprised to see that if I ran my expected 2:00 half marathon, I’d finish right around 5:30, which would be great for my first 1/2 IM distance race.

Transition 2 (T2) – A quick dismount and then scattering to grab my water bottle that I kicked off the back of my seat. Since I had the first rack, it was just a few feet to my area. I had planned on standing and putting on my socks and shoes, but ended up on my butt, which took extra time. No big deal. I was still out in under 2 minutes.

Run – No problem getting the legs moving. I never do after a long hard ride. Up the parking lot and straight back up that steep 120 foot climb. Now that didn’t feel good. Not at all. I started to feel some pain in my stomach, which is odd, since I never had problems with my food during training and I hadn’t introduced anything new. Midway up the hill, a lady passed and asked how many times we had to go up – “Luckily only once”. She took off and blazed her way to a 1:33 half-marathon and Overall Female win.

At the top of the hill, my lovely bride and son had jumped in to help out at the aid station. That’s where they caught me, still looking fairly strong. As you can see in the background, that’s Taylorsville Lake and the spot in this picture isn’t but a 1/2 mile away; that’ll give you an idea of the climb. Luckily they didn’t take any more pictures until the finish, because soon after this is when it got quite ugly.

My normal pace after a long, hard 80 mile ride is a comfortable 9:00-mile. A 10:00-mile is my “go all day long” pace. If you do the math above, my average for the 13.1 miles is 11:36.

With my stomach giving me fits, I knew to slow down and let it work itself out. It took until the 4.5 mile point before I was comfortable enough to take in some water. 2 miles later at the next aid station, I took in some Heed and some water. I kept running, but the pace was slow and I knew it. But I kept working through it and never got discouraged.

By the 8 mile point, I gave up any plans of a 5:30 finish. I was still confident on a 6:00 finish, but that confidence was waning with each stride. By the 9 mile point, I realized that I could walk faster than my shuffle was moving me. But I didn’t let myself walk long, more for the mental aspect. By the time I hit the aid station at 10 miles, I knew that I was well on my way to finishing and hoped that knowing that would boost my pace. It didn’t. I walked the first 1/4 mile after the aid station and got to shuffling again.

A couple of more walking bouts and a few more shuffles and I got to the final aid station at 12.5 miles, only to find that my lovely bride and son had left to meet me at the finish. Normally you’d think that would get the legs moving, but mine wouldn’t have any of that. Luckily the steep downhill was coming and that got the legs moving. A sweeping left turn into the parking lot and a long gradual downhill to the finish and I was done. Not far off of my original estimation of total time – 6 hours, 5 minutes, 38 seconds.

Post mortem – In hindsight, the bike leg was my downfall. I felt good throughout that leg, but I wasn’t hammering hard. I kept my heart rate under control and never overexerted myself. But the total climbing was a good 4,000 feet more than any other ride that I did during training. But that wasn’t the whole story.

During the ride, when it’s easiest and best to fuel, I only took in a total of 800 calories! I thought I was doing a good job of keeping on top of my fuel and feeding consistently, but when I’m burning 800+ calories an hour, taking in only 800 during the 3-hour ride certainly wasn’t going to be sufficient to get me through the 1/2 marathon at the end. By comparison, during a 4-hour bike/run training session I’d typically take in 1300 calories, and that’s with 4,000 less feet of climbing on the bike.

And with the stomach issues that I had on the run, that just served to push me deeper in the hole. Once I was able to drink some HEED, the small cups only gave me, at best, 50 calories each. By the 8 mile aid station, I grabbed a single Fig Newton, but that certainly didn’t do much for me.

I made it across the finish without getting wobbly, so I can’t say that I completely bonked. But I was almost there. Once back at the hotel, I weighed myself and I was 5 pounds lighter than I was before the race that morning. So it definitely took it out of me.

But I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. And that’s all that mattered.

Now I’ve got this week to rest and then start up again. In just four months I’ll be tackling a full Ironman-distance race (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). And I’m ready for it.

Cujo, Bewildered Moos and Ft13

What a day.

Looking at Saturday’s weather, with a 100% chance of rain/thunderstorms, I decided to move my 5 hour brick to today. I have a very understanding boss, who allowed me to take the day off. He’s very understanding, but he doesn’t understand why I like to do what I do; he just knows I like to do it and that I’m “crazy”. That and the fact that I have plenty of vacation time built up helps.

The downside to moving it to today was that I had a breakthrough bike session scheduled for Thursday evening, which went on as scheduled. Instead of the long hills that the workout called for (few of them to be had here in southern Kentucky), it was a overgeared slog-fest into the 15-20mph headwinds. It did its job – I was knackered by the time I got home. Absolutely thrashed.

So I fueled and slept to get ready for today’s brick.

Wouldn’t you know it, it was raining (lightly) when I woke up. And I still felt beat up. After putting the brick off long enough, I got rolling at 9am. The rain was light and luckily ended after about 15 minutes, while the temp remained anchored in the low 40’s. But my legs were gone. Absolutely gone.

Is it possible to bonk before even starting?

I thought long and hard about that for the first hour. At the end of the first hour, I seriously thought about turning around, calling it a two hour ride and then trying the brick again on Sunday.

But Sunday is family day. So far this year, I’ve always kept Sunday as my rest day. One of the things that I must do to keep balanced. The “downside” is that I must get my hours in during the week, with Saturday being my only long day. But the time spent with family is priceless and I won’t change that.

So I kept the pedals turning. Some times they felt like squares, some times they actually felt like circles. Grinding into the 10-15mph headwind that we weren’t supposed to have today (just like the rain). And I slowly felt the energy returning. But I still wasn’t feeling the run.

So I started making deals with myself. You know the drill.

“Since my brick is scheduled for 5 hours, if I ride 4:45, the 15 minute run is more than sufficient to get me ready for the transition and pain of a 1/2 Iron”, which turns into “You know, if I ride for the full 5 hours, then I can tack on extra time to my run tomorrow”.

I turned around at 2:20. Now that’s not cheating, trying to get in only a 20 minute run. That’s my analytical mind, realizing that if I turned around any earlier (e.g. 2 hours), with the new tailwind, I’d make it home at about 3:45, which would give me a 1:15 run. And I didn’t think the legs had that kind of run in them.

So with the tailwind, increasing energy and a slight downhill, I discovered that I can go from fully tucked in the aero position at 35 mph to a dead stop in about 50 feet.

That’s when Cujo appeared.

I’m glad I missed him the first time around, when I was headed into the wind and going up the hill, although stopping would have been easier. And I’m glad that he barked as he was sprinting across the yard, which gave me enough time to un-tuck, brake and unclip. He crossed the yard and the highway, stopping right in front of me. I would have T-boned him at 35 mph. That would’ve been ugly.

He wasn’t going to let me get by without extracting a pound of my flesh. “Lucky” for me, I had an encounter with a few other dogs earlier in the ride, so I had a few extra rocks in my Bento Box. The first one bounced off his head and didn’t phase him. This was going to be fun. Luckily there was a steady supply right at my feet. A shot to the haunch got him moving back across the street, which is where I wanted him. Then I started pedaling. So he came after me, then thought the better of it when he heard the car coming (I heard it.  Tthat’s why I started pedaling). After the car passed, he started after me.

You know how hard it is to sprint, shift and hurl a rock on a tri bike?

He kept up for a good quarter mile. Cujo had some legs. But I had gears.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with dogs barking and chasing after me; most time’s it’s fun. But once they cross their owner’s property line, the dog transitions from defending territory to attacking. And I’ll protect myself accordingly.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. I was pleased to see that my fueling strategy was working and that I was feeling much better than I was at the start. I was actually starting to look forward to the run.

The tough part of the fueling strategy is that I’m choking down the rest of my can of Perpeteum Vanilla-Orange, which to me is about as unpalatable as a drink can get. But it works. In the 75 miles of today’s ride, the three bottles of Perpeteum, along with six servings of the Espresso Hammer Gel and two Endurolyte capsules every hour and I was raring for the run.

So you think I like Hammer products? I have since I got my first order of Hammer Gel back in 1996. This is the first year I’ve used their other products in conjunction with the Gel. I am impressed. But they gotta do something about that Perpeteum “Dreamsicle” flavor.

So after covering the 75 miles in 4:14, that meant that I had a 46 minute run to round out the five hours. Having fueled heavily the last hour of the ride, I popped a Nuun in a water bottle and got going. Turned out I’d need more than that.

Right off the bat, the run felt great. I started off at a 9 minute pace and was able to ramp it up throughout the run. As I approached the 20 minute point, I decided I was going to go for another 10 and make it a full hour run. Right after that, the bewildered moos appeared.

Ever run past a dairy farm? Along a field with 60-80 cows all watching you as you go by? It made me think that I was being watched by 60-80 Nancy Pelosi‘s.

I turned around at 30 minutes and kept focusing on form. Right about when I got back to the cows, the whole road shifted. Not really, it was just my eyes. If you’ve ever worked the graveyard shift, you know the feeling; right about 3am when everything in sight shifts really fast, even though nothing has moved.

What was that about bonk? That’s when I realized I should’ve brought some fuel.

I made it home with no problems, save the occasional shift. And I was able to maintain my pace. Luckily I was just in the first stages of a bonk. It had been quite a while since I felt that sensation. Not something I want to experience again.

But it was another good experience, to let myself drift just inside the dark cavern and then work through it.

Back home and refueling, I hooked my Suunto T6 up to the computer to download my files. That’s when Friday the 13th came into play. Not that I’m a superstitious person, but it fit in this instance.

For my entire ride, all four hours and 14 minutes of it, I was apparently dead and going nowhere. Flat lines for both fields. So no useful data at all for the entire time, even though the display showed my heart rate and speed as I was riding. At least I keep a bike computer mounted as a backup.

It would have been interesting to see how slow I was for the first hour, what my heart rate reached when Cujo charged and how I was able to pick up the pace through the latter half of the ride. Gotta hate glitches. But they are very rare with the Suunto.
Luckily I stopped the watch and started a new session for the run, so at least that data was there.

In hindsight, I realized about a mile into my ride that I hadn’t “connected” my HR belt. With Suunto, for some reason you have to “connect” each of the sensors in order for it to register the signal. When I realized that I hadn’t “connected” the belt, I did so immediately and it showed. But apparently if it’s not “connected” before the session starts, it doesn’t record the data. Another lesson learned.

Ah well, enough rambling. Good luck to those racing in IM Arizona and the Boston Marathon this weekend.

And if you aren’t racing, hopefully the weather cooperates with whatever you have scheduled.

Rest, Recovery and Relaxation

It’s been a busy week. Busy enough that the first chance I’ve had to update this is at 3am on Monday morning. Apparently I don’t need any more sleep tonight.

Funny how a recovery week can be so busy. But work was quite a handful last week. And the realization that I hadn’t had a day off from work (travel days count) in almost three weeks, I told the boss it was time for a day off. So I was lucky enough to make this a three day weekend. And I’ve been able to rest.

After my unscheduled hiatus from training last weekend while being stuck in Washington, D.C. due to weather, I was quite frustrated with the impact on my schedule. It took a couple of days of realization that although the time was key, it wasn’t critical and that I needed to keep my eye on the long term goals, which are the half- and full-Ironman distance races this year. Missing out on eight hours of training was not going to break me. If anything, it leaves me well-rested to start my first Build week today.

Everything I’ve done up to now has been laying the foundation for the coming year. That time is called the “Base” period, which is low-medium intensity, but high in volume. That work is now done (for now). In the coming two months leading up to my half-Ironman distance race, I’ll be building the intensity while maintaning a reasonable amount of volume.

But enough of that.

One of my overarching goals for this year of training and racing is to remain balanced. Easier said than done, since it’s something that I haven’t been able to do in the past. But I’ve worked my training schedule so that by the time I’m done with my Saturday morning workout (my longest of the week), I’m done with training for the week. That gives me the rest of the weekend to spend with my family and doing other things.

This weekend we made a quick visit to the local winery and sampled a few from their selection. Who would have thought that good wine could be made in northern Tennessee? I always thought whiskey, but the wine will do too.

And with the weather so good, I was able to spend the day yesterday smoking a couple of chickens while I resumed work on my 1964 Chevy 1/2-ton truck. Hopefully before next winter I’ll have the entire rear frame and then the bed redone. I’m patient, since this is the goal:

OK, maybe not that clean, since I still intend on using my truck as a truck, but that’s the idea.

And I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this:

That which calls to my inner ocean, having been a surf rat for many decades (getting to be a bit more than I would like to think about). That footage of Laird Hamilton being towed-in to Teahupoo always floors me. I remember standing on the beach in Western Australia with my Aussie surf buddies, staring at that cover of Surfer magazine and being completely dumbfounded. Slack-jawed, in fact. That’s one sick wave. And it takes balls of steel to get into it.

And finally, here are two ladies that have bigger balls than them all. No words can follow…