Friday, July 25, 2008

Post IM

It always seems to happen. In the following weeks after doing an Ironman, I have trouble sleeping at night since I'm not exercising like before. During my extra awake moments I start to fantasize about doing another race. Last night I was reminded of the NorseMan Xtreme Triathlon. It is an absolutely crazy race and somehow it appeals to me. One day I hope to have the courage to sign up for this race. Right now I think I need to work on getting faster so I can finish that race within the cutoff times (the race winner finishes between 10:30 and 11:20).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sorry guys, we got Baby addicated to the TV

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IM Austria 2008 Race Report - Chad

The above picture is my new favorite ice cream treat, "Bum Bum"! It does have a strange name but it's really just a strawberry candy coated ice cream treat with gum in the center of the stick. I couldn't not try it after seeing the name....

IM Austria, final time 11:04:22

Swim 1:01:25
Not my greatest time for an Ironman swim but there isn't much I can change about it now. I felt "off" during the entire swim and I think it has a lot to do with not being able to do a proper swim warm-up.

In Austria the place to toss your street wear bag is a quick 2 minute walk to the beach start. I changed into my wetsuit and walked towards the swim start. Only my walk was more like a penguin shuffle, the line across the timing mat didn't seem to move at all. There seemed to be more spectators smoking in the line than athletes too. I wasn't very happy when they announced that there was 5 minutes left prior to everyone getting out of the water, I just couldn't seem to get across that damn timing mat. Finally they announced that there is 15 minutes left before the start and everyone is supposed to be out of the water. 2 minutes later I crossed that timing mat and entered the beach.

I was mad at myself for missing the swim warm-up but I thought that I would get at least a second shot at it. Every age-group athlete is to wait on the beach until they lift the tape, then we are supposed to swim out to the flags about 25meters into the lake and wait there for the cannon to fire. They made us wait until less than a minute before we were allowed to enter the water. Just as I was causally swimming out to the real start line I felt a tremendous urge to pee (all that morning hydration and standing in a wetsuit for 30 minutes will do that). I slowed to have my little pee break prior to the cannon blast, only the cannon blast went off before anyone even reached the actual swim start. There was no time to slow down for a pit stop now. The rest of my swim didn't feel quite right (a full bladder will do that). I got bounced around a bit and was forced to the outside edge. I took horribly wide lines around the two corners but I managed to fight my way to swim in the middle of the canal during the last 800 meters. The canal was insane! It was lined with loud cheering crowds. I thought I might go deaf in that canal if it were any longer. All I could hear was a mixture of shouting and whistles. It was the best part of the swim. I finished the swim and was hoisted up the exit ramp by 3 large Austrian men.

T1: 4:42
This transition time includes a 2 minute pee break. I really needed to go....

Bike 5:46:27
With a completely empty bladder I settled in for the 180km bike ride. The ride consists of 2 laps (90km each) with 800 meters of climbing per lap. All was well for the first bit, the draft packs were moving past me and I had a few officials traveling beside me watching the packs move around. And the spectators were amazing yelling, "SUPAR! HOP, HOP, HOP!".

At the 40km point in the race I felt something break and fall off my bike. I looked down at my rear wheel to check it out and noticed that I had a spare tube wrapped around my cassette. Somehow my xlab straps had loosened on the ride and started to drop my repair gear. Without panicking I stopped and untangled it as quickly as possible, that was when I saw that the noise I heard was my tire levers being thrown through my wheel and into the road. So I stuffed my fallen tube in my shorts pocket and hoped that I didn't need to change a flat. I figured that if I did need to change a flat tire I would find a stick, fork, or anything and I didn't need to go back to find my two levers on the road.

During the first part of the ride it was raining a fair amount and the roads were becoming very slick. I was coming into a off camber corner and was judging how much I should slow down and still carry some speed through when I looked up and saw a cyclist slide through the corner. I decided to go a lot slower than the 40km/hr that I was traveling at. This course is littered with many twists in the road and before the ride was over I counted 5 cyclists down in corners (many looked like they were calling it a day). There are two right hand corners that had mattresses set up across the road if you overcooked the corner. Luckily I managed to navigate the corners well and I didn't slide off in any corners.

The end of the second lap was a like riding through a natural disaster. It was a crazy lightening/thunderstorm with buckets of rain fallen across the road. Most of the spectators on the bike had called it quits the rain was so bad. The roads became increasing worse in the corners with running water everywhere. I had to take my sunglasses off to see the roads as the cloud cover made everything so dark at 2pm. Since we were biking in mountain passes, the lightening strikes were also very close, it was a surreal experience. I am certain that if this event were held in North America, the race officials would have called the race off.

I biked the first lap (90km) in 2:45:00 and thought a 5:30 could be possible if I maintained my focus and held my pace. This thought lasted all of 10km, after which I realized that I was starting to weaken and could be in some serious trouble. I felt like things were getting worse and worse, I stopped riding in the aero position and rode upright while figuring out how to get nutrition into my stomach. I lost 15 minutes on the second lap, some of this time I can contribute to riding through a nasty lightening/thunder storm but mostly I was mentally not riding well. My head wasn't into racing. My hands hurt from having to shift gears (my shifters have stiffened up and I need to figure out why) constantly on this course and my chain seem to be skipping every time I shifted as well. I ran over some discarded water bottles through the an aid station and lost my other spare tube.

At the end of the bike ride I was starting to get frustrated with the drafting that I was seeing. I saw draft packs, but those didn't really bother me since the officials seemed to be following them closely. It was the random, blatant drafters that got to me. I saw a roadie that had no number on himself or his bike with 2 triathletes in tow and they were tearing up the course. I also witnessed a wheel sucker for nearly 9km, eventually I passed the individual and I pointed to the 6" gap that he left and yelled that he was drafting. He yelled back something to me in Italian which I ignored, but I memorized his race number to see if he ever got a penalty and to see how quick his run is. Number 990, no penalty that I can see, but he finished behind me (Karma does happen).

T2 3:42
This was a smooth enough transition, although I had to wait a few seconds to hand my bike to the next available volunteer to rack it before I could get my running shoes on.

Run 4:08:06
When I started the run the rain was in full force! There was no way I was keeping my shoes and socks dry for the run. I just concentrated on putting on foot in front of the other and after 13km it somehow stopped raining and the sun was poking through. The run went well enough, I had some antacid tablets with Tylenol to help get me through some of my problems, and had walked a fair bit of the second lap. I crossed the finish line exhausted but happy.

Just as I was being walked to the food/drink/massage area I saw another athlete in my age group with a finishers medal that crossed the line in-front of me. He had a bit of road rash on his arm and legs from a bike crash and a cigarette smoke in his mouth. I was stunned! Thats not something that I have ever seen in an Ironman.

The days after the race were spent packing and traveling back to Victoria. I feel that my muscle soreness from the race disappeared quite quickly. And I feel ready to train and race, but I'm staying off my bike for another week at least.

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IM Austria 2008 Race Report - Tammy

We thoroughly enjoyed our venture to Austria and having now learned the course, I plan to race it again in 2010. As in Brazil, we booked our accommodation through Endurance Sports Travel, which makes it so easy. Upon arriving in Klagenfurt, we were greeted at the airport by our shuttle and transported to our cute Austrian hotel in Krumpendorf (about 2.5 km from the race start).

Our hotel was directly across from Lake Worthersee (same lake we swim in for Ironman) and it was the most beautiful lake water I had ever seen - aquamarine and very warm. The surrounding area was truly breathtaking and the days leading up to the race were sunny and warm.

Unfortunately I had contracted some sort of stomach bug on the trip over (despite being very careful about what I ate and keeping hygiene wipes handy). I tried not to get stressed about it and it seemed to get a little better each day. We quickly settled into a daily routine where we would have breakfast at our hotel (included) and then head up to a local deli for lunch (we found one with english menus) and found an italian restaurant where we ate at every night (because we could make out the items on the menu).
This routine continued to go smoothly right up until the night before the race. We had arranged to meet our friend Tracey from Penticton and another Tracey from Ottawa - at the Italian restaurant at 6:00. Usually I like to be in bed around 7:30 or 8:00 race eve, but two hours later we still hadn't received our order since they were evidently unprepared for the influx of athletes needing carbs. We waited it out, but by the time we got home it was after 9:00 so took a little longer to get to sleep that night. (Chad and I had discussed these perils of travel ahead of time, and had made a conscious decision not to get stressed about these things - and so just tried to roll with it).

Race morning - we were shuttled to the race start by Endurance Sports travel (once again, awesome) and took in the swim start.

I had been told by other athletes - not to start on the left side of the pier, because apparently that is where all of the slower athletes start and apparently it is a bit of a mad-house with people grabbing your legs, breast-stroking etc. So instead, I went on the other side, as far right as you could go, against the second pier. Apparently this is where many of the locals start as well, and I asked them their swim times. They varied from 1:15 to 1:18. This was perfect for me. I had a really nice start with open water on my right, and a nice safe draft. There was a little bit of a current pulling us left, which worked out that we swam in a completely straight line to the bouys which was great. On this swim course you swim out straight and then turn around and swim back into a canal (like the Penticton river channel except much narrower). It was extremely hard to sight on the way back and unfortunately I ended up with a small group on the far right and soon realized I was off course. Once I realized this, I managed to swim back to the main pack before we entered the channel. I could not believe how rough it was in there. I was breathing strategically - watching elbows, hands and feet - just trying not to to get kicked in the face. The saving grace is that it is so shallow that you can stand up any time, but it was the roughest 900 m I have ever experienced. Along the sides of the channel were thousands of people cheering, and blowing whistles. It was very, very loud but pretty cool. When you reach the end, they haul you out on this big ramp and off you go. Happily, I exited with no asthma problems and swam 1:18 which was a decent swim for me.

Once in transition, I took a look up at the sky which looked very dark and grey. The weather forecasts had changed several times and we woke up thinking we would be in for a very hot day. I could see that this was not going to be the case. Out on the bike course it wasn't long before the rain was pelting down and there were several bike crashes on the winding descents. We had at least toured the bike course with Endurance Sports Travel but this was the first time riding it. This is actually an awesome course for us Victoria folk, even though my bike time didn't reflect it. There are several steep climbs, which turn into long, long descents and I can see why it is generally a very fast course.

Because of the rain, I was too chicken to take the descents too quickly but I look forward to riding it again on a dry day. There is one part of the course in particular that was a highlight. It is the last steep climb and you literally feel like you are in the Tour de France as people are going nuts on the side-lines (especially if you are a women because this race is only 7% women - as compared to the usual 40%). At the top there is a DJ and whenever a woman would come up the hill he would just go nuts and yell "IRON-WOMAN" and the crowd would totally go off. It was so exciting, I actually forgot that I was doing a hard climb. At the top I thought that I couldn't wait to go up there again on the second lap, but unfortunately by the time I got there again, there was nobody there due to the lightening, thunder and pelting rain. After that, there were times on the course where I was completely alone - except I would see the odd athlete stopped on the side of the road, or getting picked up - or an ambulance would go by and I wondered if perhaps the race had been cancelled. On one of the descents there was so much water that there were literally twigs and leaves floating down as well. I tried not to think about how cold I was and just focused on trying to get back in one piece. Once back into transition, I was amazed at the amount of bikes already racked, and people out on the run course. I had some difficulty racking my bike, as you rack it yourself in this race, and I had trouble getting directions as to where it should go. I finally racked it, and was then told to go back and rack it somewhere else. It was different. There was so much water in the transition tent, that I stood on top of the picnic table to get my shoes and socks on, but my hands were frozen and it took a while. (This picture of transition is the day before the race).
Once on the run course, the sun came out and it was suddenly very hot and humid. I tried to avoid the big puddles, and enjoyed the warmth that radiated up from the ground. Unfortunately I spent the first 30 k in and out of the porta-potties (of which there were not many in this race) but my stomach finally came good and I was at least able to run the last 12 k at a more decent pace with no problems. Such is an Ironman. Since the sun had come out, there were once again spectators on the run, and they basically say two things: SUPA!!!! HOP-HOP-HOP!!!! It's hilarious and very loud with lots of whistles! In the end I finished in 12:53 and had my lowest placing ever, about an hour slower than my best time. But it was the best I had on the day and it is what it is!! Can't wait to go back!!

Next night was the awards and most importantly - free beer until 8:00 (of which I had copious amounts). Our friend Jill had come to watch the race and it was great to catch up, relax and enjoy!

Unfortunately 4:00 am came too early but our shuttle arrived on time, and we headed to the airport for our trip home. I miss Europe!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Race report is comming....

We are back in Victoria and are now connected back to civilization with phone and internet access. It's amazing to watch TV in English again! Watching the Tour De France in the afternoons was nice, but, I fell asleep constantly while listening to the German commentators. All I understood from the German sport channels is they love Fabian Cancellara. We did get one English channel but it was CNN and we both can only watch very little of the future US presidential election race.

Our trip back was fine, however my bike decided that it likes Austria and is currently still there. It's booked on the next available flight home but I imagine that it may take a few days to get here.

My bike arrived yesterday after staying in Austria for 3 extra days.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Will this make me faster?

I think I need to get one of these on my bike.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Wheel Cover

Finished wheel cover pictures

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Making a Disc wheel

A disc wheel is always a faster wheel than any aero-spoked wheel. How about a aero-spoke wheel with a home-made wheel cover? I created this in about 2 hours this afternoon. I have to fix the way I taped it to my wheel with some double sided clear tape, but that is all that I have left to do on this project. A real disc wheel will cost approx $1000 for a new one or $300-500 for a used one. I already have my deep HED Jet 90 and I don't feel the need to spend more for a disc. So I spent about $8.99 on a sheet of velvet matte 0.020" plastic, and viola, instant disc. I've tested it on the trainer and I have had no problems, tomorrow I will ride it outside to see how it handles. If it tests well tomorrow I will be riding it in Austria.

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