Thursday, August 30, 2012

You are an Ironman!

You are an Ironman! Those few words are the culmination of many months of brutal training, planning and just plain stress. Those words ring out over the loud speakers at approximately 30 Ironman events all over the world whenever a competitor crosses the finish line. Those words signify the end of a long journey for those who choose to attempt it.

My journey began in earnest in December 2011 when I pulled the trigger and officially signed up for Ironman Louisville. In reality it began much earlier.

The Beginning (to keep this novel more readable, I'm doing separate sections. Yes, I can be wordy)

When you sign up for an Ironman event, you are committed. They don't do refunds. Well, they will do a partial refund ($150 of a $650 fee) to a certain point, but something like 4 months out you are stuck. Either do the race or eat the $650. In fairness, an enormous amount of planning and cost goes into running an Ironman, or any triathlon for that matter. You can't just have people signing up and then deciding to cancel at any time. Very similar to airlines in many aspects. Also in fairness, WTC (the company that owns the Ironman brand) puts on first class races. Yes, it's a lot of money, but when you consider everything that goes into it, the cost is mostly justified.

I was committed. My last race of 2011 was Ironman Branson 70.3 (half-Ironman distance) in September. I had a really good race (5:43), especially considering the monsoon we dealt with. I worked to maintain fitness through the late fall, early winter, but started ramping up in January for Louisville.

The Training (click this link to read about the training)

Leading up to the race I spent a lot of time and effort planning. I had some challenges to get through, but those only made me stronger. Or did they?

The Race - Prequel (click this link to read about the time leading up to the race)


Race morning. I couldn't believe it had finally arrived. Eight months of training all led to this one day. Unreal. I had a detailed plan for breakfast. Approximately 900 calories of various foods, sodium loading (with salt water - yuk). I got lubed up (it takes lots of lube - you don't want to chafe), sunscreened and dressed. Bid my lovely wife goodbye and headed to transition to check my bike (get the tires aired up and make sure all is okay) and then walk to the start.

Louisville is a very unique Ironman in that the swim is a time trial start. This means that each person starts individually. All other Ironman events either start everyone at once (~3000 people) or in age group waves (200-400 people starting at the same time). At Louisville, you get in line, a LONG, LONG, LONG line. I swear, I walked another mile to get to the end of the line and I was an hour early.

Did I say the line was long? Yeah, well I'll say again, it was LONG. And there were no porta potties at my end of the line. I had to "go" but was able to wait until the line moved forward to where the potties were. Other people did not or could not wait. They, men and women, were going wherever they could - behind cars, garbage cans, walls, etc. It was funny. One thing you learn when doing endurance events is that most athletes are not shy when it comes to going to the bathroom or changing clothes in public, for that matter. 

Once the line started moving, it moved and moved fast. The professionals started at 6:50am and the age groupers (all the non-pros) started at 7. Approximately 3,000 age groupers started jumping in the water at 7am. As far as I was back in the line, I started the swim at 7:23. That is pretty darn quick considering where I was. Another kudos to the folks at IM Louisville. 


I felt it would take me about 1:30 to do the 2.4 mile swim. The swim starts up-river for 1300 yards or so and then turns down-river for the remaining 2900 yards. I felt pretty good and just tried to stay relaxed. This was no wetsuit, so NOT panicking was crucial for me. I got close to the turn and I saw people walking. I had heard of this from previous years but was told the river had been drudged. Well, when I was able I did indeed walk in the water. Only for 10 seconds or so, but it was fun and a nice little break. I wish there had been more of them. Ha!

The rest of the swim just seemed long. I had planned on stopping and hanging onto buoys for a few seconds every now and then, but I made it the entire swim without doing that. I got kicked, hit and swam over a few times (only one made me stop and yell at the person), but relatively speaking it was pretty good. I was still ridiculously slow but I survived and that was my main goal. 

As a side note, many people (in person and on the Internet) said the course seemed long. The pros times were 5-6 minutes slower than previous years, so it does make sense that the course could've been long. In the end it makes no difference, since we all swam the same course, but it makes me feel slightly better about my time.

Took my time going through transition. With the impending heat, I had no intention of hurrying myself at all during the day. With the Racine history (see The Training link for details if you haven't already), I was scared to death of a repeat, so I was hell-bent on not letting that happen.


The bike course starts flat for the first 11 miles, so I let the legs get loosened up and flew a bit. This bike course is pretty hilly. It's not steep hills but a lot of long and short climbs. Living and training in the Ozarks, I have become fairly strong on the hills, so they did not scare me. My biggest concern was burning too much energy that would cause problems on the run, so I took it easy as I could the entire bike.

The course includes a 30-mile loop that you do twice. It goes through a town named La Grange. They pretty much shut down the town and throw an Ironman party this day. It was AWESOME! People lined the streets and they even had an Ironman announcer calling out riders' names and comments. In my case, I clearly heard my name and they mentioned that I had an artificial hip (you fill that stuff in on the registration). That gave me a huge boost for quite a few miles. It's so great to get the support from the community.

With my Racine issues, I wanted to make sure I had my nutrition handled. I used a special mixture (Infinit) that contained calories and electrolytes in liquid form. I had three bottles on my bike with this and another bottle with zip lock bags of powder prepared to mix more liquid after I drank the other bottles. 

The plan was great. Was great. Until I actually tried to get the zip lock bags with the pre-mix out of the storage bottle I put them in. I'm going down the road trying to get a bag out, since I was coming upon an aid station, and the bag tears. Dammit! I have white, sticky, powdered mix flying on me and I can't get the dang bag out of the bottle. The more I tried the worse it got. Epic failure. I swear this powder looks like cocaine, so I'm glad I didn't get pulled over. And it was all over me as the bag tore.

So, I gave up and chunked the bags at the trash station and got the sports drink provided by Ironman. I adjusted my nutrition plan based on this setback and moved forward. I tried to stay generally within the caloric and sodium/electrolyte plan I had began with. I was fairly successful with that and the bike seemed pretty easy for the most part.

I tried not to get in the "red zone" (high heart rate) and really never did. Even on the climbs, I remained fairly controlled. I did get lucky and missed some drama. Apparently, some jerks threw a bunch of tacks on the road and caused dozens of flats, and two other jerks dressed in camo were jumping out and startling cyclists. I'm so thankful I missed this but very upset that others got caught up in it.

Also, for some reason the Kentucky bluegrass was messing with my sinuses. I rarely have sinus issues, but I sneezed more times than I care to count and I had to continually blow "snot rockets" (gross I know), otherwise my nose would've just kept leaking the whole day.

The last 30 miles was supposed to be a nice fast journey to the finish. Unfortunately, when I made the turn for that last 30, a head-wind had developed. Minor setback but certainly was upsetting. I didn't let it bother me too much and cruised on in.

Going into the race, I really didn't think I could do under 6 hours on the bike and have anything left for the run. In reality, I did under 5:50 and felt great going to the run. I could've gone harder but didn't know it at the time.

When I dismounted the bike my legs felt very good. I was able to run down to transition and into the changing tent. This is different from Racine when I dismounted my bike and couldn't walk due to the horrific cramping. 

I again took my time in transition, too much time really, but I wasn't worried. I did a full clothes change into comfortable running gear. Made sure to get sunscreened up again. Had to pee again. I've never peed in a race and I peed twice in this one. I guess I finally hydrated well.


Started the run and felt surprisingly good. I mean really good. The run course has one climb and it's in the first mile. The rest of it is flat. I felt great going over that climb. Got into the downtown area and saw my wife! What a sight for sore eyes. I can't even begin to explain how much it meant to me to see her. I was so freakin' happy. She walked with me and we talked for a few seconds. We kissed quickly and I kept going. I was one happy camper.

My goal was to run as much as I could and walk the aid stations, so at each aid station I walked and took in nutrition and cold sponges (I used the sponges to cool my shoulders, head and back - I didn't eat them - just wanted to be clear :). 

I figured if I could run at least the first half of the marathon and I could mix in more run/walking and would have no problem finishing. I just kept going and going, running aid station to aid station. Before I knew it I was halfway through the run. A little after mile 14 I was coming into downtown and saw my wife again. She ran with me for a bit and talked to me. I was doing good and she was reporting back to my friends and family on Facebook. That was a nice thing, but more importantly, I was so happy to see her again.

Shortly after, I got to the special needs area. I had a dry pair of shoes and socks to change into. It took a couple of minutes off my time, but I'm convinced it helped immensely. I took off again and felt fantastic. What a difference the dry socks and shoes made!

I was cruising. Aid station to aid station. I still walked the stations. I knew I would start hurting at some point. The aid stations are 1-mile apart. It got to the point where I was easily making it to the next aid station without much trouble. 

At halfway through the run I had done some calculations in my mind, since I pretty much knew I would finish, barring a catastrophe. It was only a matter of when. Beyond finishing, my personal goal was to finish under 13 hours. After halfway through the run that was all but a certainty. Then it became trying to get under 12:30.

I knew at some point my legs would give out and start cramping and I would do the Ironman/marathon shuffle. If you've seen it you know it's ugly.

Somewhere around mile 18 or so I was passing by the University of Louisville campus. There was a sorority house that had a bunch of girls with a lot of signs cheering for the runners (they were into the sauce, so they were quite happy!). They were playing music, also. It was a nice lift the first time around, but the second loop the song "Wild Ones" by Flo Rida started up as I was passing by. It sounds silly but this gave me a nice boost. This was one of my favorite songs to run to during my training. The beat is awesome, especially for running. My legs immediately moved faster. I'm thankful to them for playing that at the right time.

Got to mile 20 and still felt decent. Things were looking good. I knew at most, if I could continue to run a bit, I had under an hour left. I was not only able to continue running but my pacing got faster. 

Around mile 24.5 my eyes teared up. It was right then when I realized I was about to do it. All this training. All this stress and worry. It was almost over and my wife was going to be there to see it happen. I could not have been happier.

I kept going and as I approached the last aid station I teared up again just thinking about the finish. I felt so good I just picked up the pace and skipped the aid station, the only one of the day I skipped.

Turned the corner from 3rd Street heading to 4th Street and to the finish. Louisville is often revered for having the best Ironman finish. It is incredible! 4th Street is lined with restaurants, bars and businesses with people everywhere. It's simply amazing.

I crossed the line in 12 hours and 16 minutes. Far beyond what I thought I could do given the weather conditions. The odd thing is that I wasn't even exhausted when I finished. I could've gone further if needed. I know I left some time on the course, but I have no regrets whatsoever. I finished in the top 20% in my first full Ironman distance race and at one of the toughest courses in the world.

As I reflect on the journey, and especially the training, I realize that all the pain I put myself through really paid off when it counted.

It was quite an adventure and I'm excited to figure out the next chapter.

By the numbers:

3,014 people signed up. Approximately 2,590 started the race, 395 started in my age group. I finished 84/395 in my age group (40-44) and 483/2,590 overall. Approximately 395/1,975 of all males. That puts me in the top 20% for my first Ironman. Difficult to be disappointed with that at all.

I am not a good swimmer. Plain and simple, but it's fascinating to see my rankings improve with each transition. I was 2,103 after the swim. That's the BOTTOM 20%. After the bike I was 801 overall. That means I passed 1300 people on the bike. 1,300. And I didn't ride hard for fear of bonking on the run. Then after the run I dropped to 483, so I passed yet another 300+ on the run. So, I went from the bottom 20% to the top 20%. 

If I can ever learn how to swim faster I might be something to deal with. (I copied these stats directly from Ironman's site, hence the formatting)


Rank: 84
Overall Rank: 483
State:Springdale AR
Profession:Computer Analyst


Swim DetailsDivision Rank: 316
Split NameDistanceSplit TimeRace TimePaceDiv. RankOverall RankGender Rank
Total2.4 mi1:42:191:42:192:38/100m31621031604
Bike DetailsDivision Rank: 141
Split NameDistanceSplit TimeRace TimePaceDiv. RankOverall RankGender Rank
23 mi23 mi1:07:103:00:2720.55 mi/h
40 mi17 mi52:003:52:2719.62 mi/h
70.5 mi30.5 mi1:37:335:30:0018.76 mi/h
112 mi41.5 mi2:13:057:43:0518.71 mi/h
Total112 mi5:49:487:43:0519.21 mi/h141801675
Run DetailsDivision Rank: 84
Split NameDistanceSplit TimeRace TimePaceDiv. RankOverall RankGender Rank
3.4 mi3.4 mi30:528:27:059:06/mi
8.2 mi4.8 mi47:439:14:489:55/mi
13.1 mi4.9 mi49:0110:03:4910:00/mi
15.3 mi2.2 mi24:0910:27:5810:49/mi
20.1 mi4.8 mi50:0311:18:0110:29/mi
25 mi4.9 mi48:3812:06:399:50/mi
26.2 mi1.2 mi9:5612:16:358:33/mi
Total26.2 mi4:20:2212:16:359:56/mi84483396
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN13:08

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ironman - The Race - Prequel

Given my epic adventure at Racine (see The Training link), I was extremely concerned about the weather at Louisville. Ironman Louisville was in its sixth year and has had a history of brutally hot temps and is statistically one of the toughest Ironman competitions in the world. All the "easier" Ironman events sell out very quickly, so it's no surprise Louisville is a first-time event for many Ironman competitors. 

When I signed up I knew Louisville would be hot and not wetsuit-legal (if water temps are at above 83.8 degrees you cannot wear a wetsuit, which has floatation qualities). I don't love swimming in wetsuits, but I do love that they help you float, so if you panic you have a safety mechanism. This was a big concern to me, even in the week of the race.

I spent a lot of time researching and communicating with seasoned triathletes about how to deal with nutrition in hot and humid conditions. I got some excellent information, much from one person (who I won't name but he knows who he is if he reads this) who had gone through similar issues before, so I began diligently planning my nutrition for Louisville.

There is so much planning for an Ironman, it borders on ridiculous. As if the training wasn't hard enough, you have to plan for so many things for race day, and even the days before the race. 

I live 10 hours drive time (with stops) from Louisville. It's a fairly uneventful drive, but still pretty long. For an Ironman, which most are on Sundays, you have to be checked-in by 5pm Friday. Given my distance, it was best to travel Thursday to ensure being able to do check-in in case some logistical problems occurred. 

My wife traveled with me to this race. She doesn't normally go to my races, but with the significance of this one, she decided to go with me. I was so happy with this words cannot explain. 

It was a good trip over to Louisville. Early Friday morning I went for a run and then a bike to ensure the legs still worked. They did and well.

We walked over to the host hotel and got checked-in and fought the merchandise crowd in the expo. Spent a bunch of money and loved it. Such cool stuff to be bought at race expos! Drove the run and bike courses and did some shopping.

Swam in the Ohio river (the race course) early Saturday morning. This was a huge mental boost for me. I was stressing in a large way about the swim, but doing this practice made me feel comfortable I could finish the swim portion of the race. And if I finished the swim portion, I WOULD finish the entire race and become an IRONMAN.

For an Ironman, you have a lot of gear to deal with. You have your bike, bike gear (helmet, shoes, spare tubes, etc.), run gear (shoes, socks, hat, etc.), swim gear and special needs bags (special needs bags are specific bags that you can retrieve at the halfway points of the bike and the run. For example, in my "run" special needs bag I had a change of socks and shoes). This all is a lot of details you have to organize.

Not only does this have to be organized, you have to turn most of it in on Saturday before the race. This meant that I had to get everything organized and turned in well before the race. I felt like I had a good handle on this and was able to get everything turned in early Saturday, which left the rest of the day to do nothing but relax. We shopped and ate. That's a pretty good day.

I got a good night's sleep (for me) and woke up at 4am to start eating.

Ironman - The Training

Training really began for me in January, although the official training plan didn't kick in until late March. 

I had a lingering lower leg/calf issue that I just couldn't get rid of. I believe I hurt it doing kick drills while swimming in October. It didn't bother me on the bike but certainly did on the run.

I went through periods of rest, weeks at a time, without running. I continued to bike, swim and do various strength training. More than once I started slowly trying to run again. And more than once I felt good and then within a couple of weeks the pain came back. 

I was getting frustrated and very upset. It wasn't debilitating pain but was bad enough to hurt and cause serious concern for my future plans. My entire year was geared toward Louisville. None of the other stuff really mattered, but if this thing lingered on too much it would ruin my plans.

It finally got to the point where I sought medical advice. I got in to see a specialist and eventually got an MRI. My biggest concern at that point was a stress fracture. If that happens, it's a good six weeks of nothing. That would not be good. All sorts of other things could be wrong, each with differing healing times.

The MRI came back and showed no current or previous bone, tendon, ligament or muscle damage. This meant I just had some sort of strain and I was doing no damage by running or biking on it. The regular ice, stretching, massaging, should help it feel better. The best news was I could run and not be concerned about serious issues.

I believe this was as much mental as it was physical. Once I learned I could be reasonably confident I wasn't doing any damage, I felt significantly more confident about my health.

Serious training started in March. I began using a coach. I felt this was a good strategy given the length of the event and the training required to not only complete it but do the best I could do. I've always been very competitive and even at 40 years old, that has not changed. The best thing about having a coach is they can react to how the training is going and adjust the plans going forward. This was critical in my mind.

So, each week I had a plan laid out for the coming week. Day by day with detailed plans. It was really nice to have things at such detailed levels and not have to come up with it myself. There are great resources online and in books which could've provided solid plans, but there was something very nice about not having to worry about it.

My training varied typically between 12-16 hours per week. That is a LOT for anyone who has a job and a life outside of endurance events. It did pose challenges at times but for the most part I stuck with the plan the entire time. 

Training also included racing. I did a few events, sprint and Olympic distance, in the spring and early summer. Swimming, by FAR my weakest discipline, really hurt my times, but my cycling and running times were very solid. 

In June I decided to do another half-Ironman (I had completed two of them in 2011) in Racine, Wisconsin. It was drivable and I had a couple of buddies who wanted to do it. Road trip! I felt great going into this race. My swim still sucked, but my legs felt incredible. I felt like I was in as good shape as I had been since my surgery.

As any living, breathing being would understand, summer 2012 was brutally hot ... everywhere, Wisconsin included. Temps were expected to be in the low-mid 90s with very high humidity in Racine on race day. High humidity is not normally associated with northern states, but they do have a big lake there. Ha ha. The swim was in Lake Michigan, which was extraordinarily clear, by the way, and chilly.

To prepare for the weather, I began hydrating a lot in the days leading to the race. Lots and lots of water and more water. Race morning I still felt great. I had an okay swim. Not good, not horrible. Just okay. Felt decent starting the bike and then about 45 minutes in started to cramp. Within another hour the cramps got really bad. About mile 47 I cramped so bad my legs totally locked up. They. Would. Not. Move. It hurt so bad I can't even describe it.

After not moving for a few minutes, I finally got my legs going again. They locked up again a couple more times before the finish. When I got off the bike to transition to the run, I couldn't move. Literally. I couldn't move. I even heard people in the crowd commenting on my cramping. My legs were cramping so bad they were visible from a distance. 

After several minutes in transition, including taking more salt tablets and more water, I tried to take off. I ran for about 200 yards and then had to start walking as the cramping started again. This pattern went on and off for a long, long time. Eventually, at about 6 miles, I decided to call it a day and head to the medical tent. It was THAT bad.

It took 1.5 liters of saline and 5 bottles of sports drink and a cola before I could move without cramping. Funny moment in the med tent was when I had several people (nurses, EMTs, massage therapists and a physician) watching my cramps. It was so severe it made for a good learning experience for others. Hey, I'm always glad to help.

In all seriousness, the people in the med tent were outstanding. It was just funny when they were all watching my cramps. I was also lucky more damage wasn't done. It turned out to be a good decision to stop. I could've pushed through and walked two more hours to "finish" but it could've been detrimental to my real goal - Louisville.

The next few weeks included some intense training to peak and then slowly taper toward Louisville. I spent a lot of time (and stress) figuring out how to keep these problems from happening again.

While I hated what happened in Racine, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Ironman - The Beginning

In April, 2009, I had a hip replacement on my right hip. This was due to an accident when I was 14 years old that completely broke my hip apart. It was surgically repaired, but over the years the hip socket wore out. 

In November, 2008, I completed my first marathon. During training for that marathon I experienced some fairly significant pain, but being my first marathon and the fact that I was putting in some reasonably serious mileage, I just assumed it was par for the course. 

After the marathon (Tulsa Route 66, finish time 3:36), when I started running again, I could not get the pain to subside. I went through several rest periods and each time I started back the pain would return. Through process of elimination I came to the conclusion that I likely had a stress fracture in my pelvis. I finally did the right thing and went to the doctor. X-rays showed a different story right away. There was no cartilage between the hip ball and socket, so I had been running with bone rubbing on bone. This totally explained the searing pain I had experienced. 

I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon and was soon scheduled for a replacement. I was actually a good candidate for a "resurfacing" which is much less invasive and just replaces the socket (acetabulum) and puts a cap on the head of the ball (femoral head) versus the full replacement, which replaces the femoral head bone and inserts a steel spike into the femur. 

The resurfacing surgery is much easier on someone who wants to remain active. I said I was a good candidate and I was, but because of my age when the trama occurred my broken leg lagged in growth behind the healthy leg. A full replacement could rectify this, whereas a resurfacing could not. I experienced some back pain over the years and the surgeon said it was likely contributed to by the differing leg lengths. 

So, we decided it was best to have the full replacement for long term health. This also likely signified the end of my running career. I was beyond disappointed. Doctor said no running whatsoever for at least a year after surgery and even then it wasn't recommended. He did say, however, that I could ride a bike and he even recommended it. 

Well! That sounded like a new opportunity! I've always been one that enjoyed any sort of athletic endeavor, and when I participated, I went all out. So, no surprise, I did tons of research and bought a bike a week before my surgery. I did this so it would be ready to use for rehabbing my hip. I had not ridden a bike since I was a kid, and even then it wasn't a road bike, so I bought a "trainer", which is an apparatus that allows you to mount the rear wheel and ride indoors. 

Within a couple of months I was learning how to ride a bike on my new hip. Being the competitive person I am, I began to look to racing. I got seriously into it and competed in a few races in 2009 and did fairly well in 2010. I was turning into a pretty solid cyclist.

Summer 2010 meant I was close to being able to attempt to run. I got clearance from my surgeon to try it but with clear guidance to stop if it was painful. I started slowly and within a couple of months I was feeling fairly decent. 

I don't remember the exact event or time it happened, but at some point I thought, "hey, I'm able to run again and I love cycling now, if I can just learn to swim I can do triathlons!" Now, while I loved racing bikes, it could be a very dangerous sport, and with my hip it really concerned me a lot. Triathlons removed most of the concern, although you can still crash bad on the bike, it's much less likely than road bike racing. So, the decision was made. 

I spent the next few months learning how to swim and continuing to build up my running. I hit a few bumps in the road with running. I experienced some pretty severe pain and at one point thought it was over. I finally was able to rest and build enough to work through it and felt good.

The first real test was the Hogeye half-marathon in April, 2011. In pretty rough conditions I ran a 1:42 and won my age group. That was faster than any half-marathon I did pre-surgery. Running with my new hip was looking good.

In the months to come, I completed a duathlon and seven triathlons, including 2 half-Ironman distance. I had a really good year, even got to the podium (top 3) a few times. I was hooked. This eventually led to the registration for Ironman Louisville.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Bit of Redemption at Ozark Valley

As mentioned in my previous post, I really wasn't pleased with my triathlon season start at Kansas City. June 24th was my first chance at redemption at the Ozark Valley Triathlon, which takes place at Lake Wedington a few miles west of Fayetteville. 

This is a sprint tri but is a bit longer than most traditional sprints (there are no standard distances for sprints) with a 1,000 yard swim, 19 mile bike and 4 mile run. The lake is very clear and the swim course is in a nice cove, which makes a near perfect venue, IMO. The bike has a couple of pretty tough climbs a few long-ish gentle climbs. The run course is, frankly, fairly brutal. It is two loops including a long, steep climb of around 3/4 mile in length. I don't know the grade but it's really tough, the toughest run course of any tri I've done.

I had a goal time of 1:42, which was a bit of a push but totally achievable if things went right. Since Ironman Louisville is my "A" race, the plan was to train through this one, which meant no taper. As such, I was a bit sore from training but felt pretty good overall. That being said, I'm too competitive to just take it easy in a race.

As usual, I felt pretty good on race morning until I got in the water. Then the nerves kicked in. A quick warm-up swim seemed to help. I lined up to the outside to try to get away from the madness as much as possible. Of course, several others had the same idea. As the horn sounded I took off and within 20 seconds someone knocked my goggles off. First time this had happened to me but it is inevitable for any triathlete.

I got the goggles quickly back in place and started to swim again but they leaked. Stopped and dumped the water and put them on again. It's quite an effort to tread water and try to put on goggles at the same time. At least for me it is. Started swimming again and more leaks. Dang it! This sequence was repeated several times and I finally gave up about half way through the swim.

Dealing with leaky goggles for 500 yards was not my idea of a good start. I got out of the water in almost 22 minutes. I had hoped for under 20 minutes. I don't know how much time my leaky goggles cost me, but I feel I would've been close to my goal time.

I was upset but knew I couldn't let it bother me too much. The run out of the water to transition is fairly long. I was very pleased with my time in T1. From water to on the bike was under two minutes. Pretty solid for this race.

Then my next obstacle hit. My brakes were rubbing on both wheels. I couldn't even get going, so I had to stop and fix that quickly. I'm not sure how it happened. I'm guessing they got bumped in transition or maybe I was sabotaged. Ha! Anyway, a quick adjustment and I was on my way.

Yet another obstacle as I got onto Highway 16. This is an open road and I immediately got behind a car which was behind a line of other cyclists. Slow cyclists. The car had plenty of chances to pass but it just wouldn't go. I was so mad. It was not a pretty situation. I actually ended up passing the car and the other cyclists. When I reached the first hill the car finally decided to pass us and was never to be seen again.

And so began my game of catch-up. Pretty typical for me to be slow on the swim and then pass many, many riders. There was virtually no wind and a few climbs, including one nasty one, so this course was tailor made for me. My goal time was 52 minutes and I beat that by over 2 minutes with an average speed of 22.9 mph. After such a crummy start, I was stoked with this performance. 

I didn't go all-out, so I felt pretty decent coming into T2. For the first time going into T2 I decided to try to get out of my shoes and do a "flying" dismount. You can see in the picture my feet out and on top of my shoes. It wasn't quite "flying" but I was able to swing my right leg over the bike while still riding and standing with just my left foot on the pedal. This is SO much easier than trying to do a standard unclip and swing the leg over. Definitely doing this from here on out. Now I need to practice "flying" mounts. Hopefully, without "racking" myself. Ha ha!

Quick transition and no cramping to start the run. This setup good for a solid run. The run actually starts uphill for a quarter mile or so, then a brief downhill before the large climb. There was carnage all over the big hill. My goal was to not have to walk any of that hill, which is quite a task, but I was able to do run it both times, albeit slowly.

About half way through I could feel my quads trying to cramp. I slowed down enough to keep that from happening and then on the last half mile or so both hamstrings cramped. That hurt like hell but wasn't enough to make me stop. I got over the last hill and the cramps subsided, so I sprinted down the finishing shoot.

Total time. 1:42:12. With all the drama to start, I was able to hit my goal time, so I was very happy with the day.

Swim time: 21:43 (2:22/100 yard)
Bike time: 49:45 (22.9 mph)
Run time: 27:43 (6:56 min/mile)

Next up: Shark Sprint in Rogers on July 8th and Ironman Racine 70.3 on July 15th in Racine, Wisconsin. 8 weeks until Ironman Louisville 140.6.