Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lobsterman Race Report

Today was the big day. It is the day of my first Triathlon/Aquabike since I can't run I will be doing the Aquabike. The Lobsterman Aquabike is a 1.5K ocean swim and 40K bike. I woke up to the sound of rain. Yeh, plus it was pretty cool out. I knew right off this day was going to be tough for me and pretty miserable. I ran around trying to find my sunglasses that had yellow tint in them, since it was raining and cloudy but never did find them. They are packed somewhere real good. For the past couple of weeks I have been packing and moving from my townhouse in Lewiston to a small bedroom in a house that I will be renting in South Portland with two other guys. Life has not been easy. Every night was packing and cleaning and moving. That's why I couldn't find my glasses. Oh well, I needed to get moving so I forgot about that idea and just used my old ones. I ended up leaving pretty early so I could scope out the place and not feel rushed or stressed. I was stressed enough as it was.

As I arrived the place was filling fast and I just sat in my truck for a long time just listening to music. It was too damn cold and was still raining out to wander around the park. I finally got my lazy butt off the car seat and started to get ready. I wasn't really motivated at this point and just wanted to climb back into bed. I pushed on and claimed my spot in the transition area with 700 other people. As the time neared I did go for a quick pre-bike ride to warm up a bit. I was already getting cold and by the time I finished I was wet and cold. I re-racked the TT bike and laid out my helmet, glasses and shoes on a towel. Since I was only swimming and biking I didn't need shoes but later you will see why I should have at least put a pair in a bag in transition for after the race.

Next up was the painful job of getting the wet suit on. I used I think a whole stick of glide wax just so that I could get the damn thing on and hopefully help with getting it off fairly quickly. I have been having issues with getting it off in the past during practice. It would always get stuck on my calves and I just couldn't get it over my feet. Hopefully I will have better luck this time. I put it on over my tri shorts, and tri sleeveless shirt. I was worried about being cold on the bike but figured it's only an hour long and I could just go harder if I got cold. More wattage=more btu production I hoped. Kurt suggested that I go for a warm up swim before the start so I mustered the will power and plunged into the icy cold ocean. As soon as the water hit my feet I new I was in trouble. I swam out a ways and immediately swam back. I had had enough. I was so COLD. My hands and feet were actually purple and I couldn't move them. I was only in the water for maybe 10min. NOT GOOD. As we listened to the anthem I got even colder and then they told us to jump in. I was in the first wave of many. I lined up at the end of the line so that I was in the water the shortest amount of time before the start. I lined up to the right side and behind everyone. This was my first competition swim and I didn't know how I would do. I have heard many horror stories about getting kicked, punched, tackled, swam over, etc. I was going to try and avoid a lot of that.

The next sound I heard was the count down and then we were off. The first 200 yards or so was crazy. I pretty much swam with my head up and just made my way forward. I finally got into some sort of rhythm and was able to put my head down and follow the group. The pack ended up splitting in two and I was at the front of the back pack with the fast guys about 50yards in front by buoy 1. At least I had some clean water but was falling off pretty quickly. Halfway to the second buoy I noticed the second wave pass me which included Kurt. I finally round the 2nd buoy and really started to get tired. My arms were failing me and I started to notice the cold. On my way into the finish of the swim the leaders of the third wave had caught me also. Now I new I was in trouble and had a crappy swim time since the swim waves were 4min apart. I finally reached the beach and climbed my way out of the water. As I ran up the beach to transition I got my wetsuit off to mid-waist.

Picture 1

At least I got it that far I thought. My hands were numb, my feet were cold and I was out of breath from the swim. I reached my bike and realized that it was pouring out. Everything was soaked which made my shoes not easy to get on. I actually got one leg out of the wetsuit pretty easy but the other leg I had major issues with and had to kneel down. My hands were just not working. I had a hard time getting the helmet on and the glasses also. Finally I just took a deep breath and relaxed a bit. I got my shoes on, without socks, and I was off. Since I've done cyclo-cross I was able to jump onto the bike while running. I passed like two guys who stopped still trying to get on their rigs. Way to go for cross training. As I made my way out of the park I really hammered hard. I knew I had to a lot of catching to do since I had such a bad swim.

The bike portion started out well. I knew that this would be my strong point so I really kept the watts up and pace high. It was still pouring out and a lot of people were moving so slow. I don't know if they just couldn't bike or if they were scared of the rain. I was used to riding in the rain and rode like I would have any other day. I passed a lot of people. I mean a lot. It must have been about 50 by the time I hit the halfway point. At that point I didn't see very many left in front of me. I must be near the front I thought. There were a few hills that I used my 39 front chain ring for. I had an 11-23 set in the rear which worked well for me. With the 11 tooth gear I could really pick up some speed on the down hills and since I'm pretty light only having a 23 in the back suited me just fine. I only stood on a couple of the short hills but mostly stayed as aero as I could. As I approached the park entrance road the car traffic picked up. At one point I had to break and come to almost a stop because a car just would move over and was going so slow. I don't know if they didn't see me or what but they were crawling at 15mph and just wouldn't get out of the way. I finally sprinted past them at a stop sign and kept them behind me the rest of the way to the entrance. I was really amazed at the amount of people who were out on the bike course cheering us on. I mean it was cold, pouring and just miserable out but they still came out and cheered us on. It really helped me stay motivated. After taking the final turn I hunkered down and gave it everything I had for the last mile and a half. I knew I didn't have to save anything left at the finish so I gave it my all. I flew down the park road and almost missed a turn just before the park gate.

Picture 2

When I was almost at the gate I saw Kurt just leaving the park for his run. He looked pretty good to me and was moving pretty well trying to catch the guy in front of him. As I hit the park I had to break and slow down a lot. There were just tons of people around telling me to slow down. I didn't want to slow down I want to win this damn thing. I hit the gravel over 20mph and good thing I had that cross training again. I was a little swirly but hung on. For the Aquabike I had to go to the right of transition still on the bike while everyone else had to dismount and getting ready to run. I made my way around the finishing loop fairly slow since it was dirt and they kept telling me to slow down. There was a rack just for us at the last corner for the finishing shoot. I saw only one other bike on the rack and I thought, sweet I got second. I through the bike on the rack and ran to the finish line still in my cycling shoes with my helmet on and all. Man that wasn't easy; I almost tripped and fell twice. As I crossed the line they had to grab me because I just had nothing left was going to fall over. The put a medal around my neck for finishing and told me to go get some food. Since it was still raining and I was soaked I took my shoes off, helmet, glasses and made my way towards food. I was starving.

As I made my way to the food tent barefooted, cold, and wet I started to realize how cold I really was and how bad I felt. Once the adrenaline ware off I started to realize all of my pain. My legs felt really bad and started to really hurt and cramp. I also started to shiver uncontrollably. I grabbed a banana and some Luna bars and headed to the massage tent. I figured a good massage and some warmth would be good, plus it was free. As I entered I had my pick of tables and they covered me in blankets. As she started to work the muscles I started to get colder and shiver harder. She just couldn't warm me up fast enough. The put more blankets on, hat and even heat packs but nothing worked. They then got the crew from the medical tent and they brought over a thermal sheet and some more chemical heat packs. At this point I was laying on my back they were forcing me to drink hot chicken broth, YUK, and I didn't feel too good. After they took my temperature a few time and noticed that it was still dropping they called in the ambulance. As the ambulance came I was coming in and out of consciousness. I would close my eyes and loose myself then they would shake me awake again yelling. Not good. I had a good case of hypothermia. My body temperature was dropping fast. I heard them say 97, 94, 90 degrees. I then got put on a stretcher and hauled to a heated ambulance. Once in the ambulance I was still shivering bad, and they tried to find a vein to put warm saline in me but couldn't find one. They cranked the heat and stripped me of my clothes. I had only a only a tri short and sleeveless top on plus was barefoot but they were soaked so they wanted them off. So as I lay there in the back of the ambulance time passed and I started to warm up. I new I was missing all of my buddies finishing which I wanted to really watch. I'm sure Kurt had kicked but and wanted to cheer on Jeff and Alan but I missed all of that. It was now like 2.5 hours later and they needed to move me out of the ambulance for another case. So they asked me if I had anyone with me who could get me clothes and drive me home but I said I was there by myself. They didn't like that. I told them to go get Tim from Peak Performance and ask him to come help me. They did just that and he was very helpful and brought me some clothes to put on. He is great. They moved me to the med tent where they placed me in front of a propane heater. I had to sit there still with no shoes, but had socks on now, a set of tights and a fleece jacked on, plus a thermal blanket and lots of heat packs and more blankets. I had to drink more chicken broth and some water. At this point I was really hungry, I hadn't had anything really to eat after the race and it was almost 3pm now. The race was pretty much over. It wasn't fun sitting in a tent next to a heater, which got me even more light headed, and watch the day go by. They finally stopped shivering and was able to leave but had to promise that I would return if I started shivering again. I still didn't have any shoes and had to walk to my truck in socks. It was still cold out but at least it wasn't raining anymore. After changing into my own clothes and grabbing a sandwich to eat I got my gear put away. Everything was soaked. The results were slow but it was nice to hang out with other athletes and chat about all that I missed. Kurt had won. I finally found out that I did officially get 2nd place in the Aquabike and would get called up to the podium for a medal. That was pretty cool to be called up with so many athletes still present. I got my big shiny silver medal and finally made my way home.

All in all I had a really good race. I was disappointed with my swim time, I really did suck, I was 12 out of 13, but my bike time was really good, 1st out of 12, and made up for it.

Comparing my swim time with everyone else I was 201. It’s hard to compare my bike time since my bike time didn’t stop until I crossed the finish time which was a long ways further than the rest of the tri-athletes, plus I had to rack and run to the finish. But taking all that in consideration my time was at least top 5. I defiantly want to do a full triathlon as soon as I can. The atmosphere is great, a lot like cross races and nothing like road bike races. I like it a lot and hopefully will do better in the next one and won't end up in the medical tent again. I do have to wait till next year since most of the multi-sport events are over for the year. This coming weekend is the PVC Maine State Time Trial Championships. This will be the last race on my tri-bike. After that I’m taking a much need break and then start right into Cross season.

Lobsterman Aquabike
Place 2/13
Total Time=1:34:17
Swim Time=27:30, 12/13
Bike=1:04:41, 1/13

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Uncertainty Is Within You

I read this article on another website and it made me think about my life and all the things that are uncertain in it. Sometimes I dwell too much on the little things, the bad things, and the sad things that I have no control over. I've decided that from now on I'm not going to let these things in my life that I have no control over affect the way I live, act, or feel. Please read the article and take the concepts to heart like I have.

Uncertainty Is Within You

by Jonathan Liljeblad on September 7, 2007

There is a great deal of uncertainty involved in this sport. Uncertainty as to wave sets, water temperature, pollution. Uncertainty over road conditions, potholes, traffic. Uncertainty in regards to bad weather, rough trails, random animals. Never mind your equipment, and the uncertainty of corroded wetsuits, leaky goggles, flat tires, snapped chains, locked brakes, chafing clothes, defective shoes, and broken water bottles. So many much so as to be overwhelming.
For all this, however, you can't allow yourself to dwell on these things. It's pointless. You don't control them. You can't change them. You won't make a difference. The universe will move on its own way in its own time on its own path for its own purpose, regardless of what you do. Uncertainties will happen, and will always happen. And not just in a race, but in all of life.
Because all of life is chaos.
Ultimately, all you can do is to control the one thing you can control: yourself. You can control when you sleep, you can control when you eat, you can control when you study, you can control when you work. You can control when you train, how hard you train, how far you train, how well you train. You can control your thoughts, your words, your actions. You can control everything you do.
And when something doesn't go the way you want or plan, just accept it for what it is, and then make your adjustments and just move on.
You may not control the events in the world around you, but you can control how you respond. And you want to respond in a way that is helpful to you and people around you. Getting angry won't help. Being sad won't help. Feeling sorry for yourself won't help. Giving in to fear won't help. Because the universe just...does. not. care.
Oh, you can allow yourself a moment to feel these emotions. You can stop and allow yourself to wallow in them. Just enough to remind yourself of their futility. Then you need to recognize the only reason they stay is because you make them stay, and then calm your mind and let...them...go...
And just move on.
Because you can.
All of life is uncertainty. All of life is chaos. And you are the master of uncertainty. You are the lord of chaos.
You just have to find it all within you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Catch Up Report

Catch Up Report

This summer has been anything but normal for me. To start off this past spring I was attacked with a super immune bug which made me bed ridden for 3 months. I had been training intensely up to this point and then just crashed hard. I spent those 3 months mostly on the bed, couch, or at the doctor’s office. After 100’s of tests, liters of blood drawn, they never determined exactly what caused my illness but I finally got better with lots of time and rest. So this bout of illness totally screwed my training for upcoming spring and summer races. I had lost over 10lbs of lean body mass, mostly muscle. My power was very weak to non existent on the bike and it took a lot of mental and physical effort to just not quit. I did get better and gained some strength back. I also decided that I was not mentally fit to do pack road races this year since my spout of nasty crashes that I had. I decided to switch gears and do a lot of Time Trials and start swimming and running to train for triathlons. This was a new thing for me since I had never done a triathlon, never swam competitively before, or did much running other than playing soccer 8 years ago. I joined a local pool and just jumped right in with swimming. I did a lot of internet reading and talking to friends to figure out just how to do it. I’m still a very beginner but gaining strength and skill every day. My run training however has not gone so smoothly. I started off pretty easy doing some walk / run sessions for 20-30min max 2-3 times a week. After a few weeks of that I picked it up a bit and started running for 30-40 min. After a couple more weeks I started having knee pain every time I would run. I entered my first 5k race which was the Winthrop Friends of the 4th 5k race on July 4th. I did very well for my first ever running race and got 41st place overall out of 436 entrants. My time was 20:21.78 for 5k which equates to 6:33min miles and I ended up 4th in my category. After the race I continued to run with pain until I went to the doc to have it looked at. I found out that I had bursitis of the knee. Pretty common and I got some drugs, stopped running for a few weeks which cleared it right up. After that I started running again pretty easy on mostly off pavement. I would go to Bates and run on their synthetic track which was really nice. It felt like a big sponge. My knee felt better but not 100%. I had a dull ache right under the knee cap which would never go away not matter what I did. I had x-ray done, which showed nothing. Then I went ahead and had a MRI done. I was still running on it at this point. It didn’t hurt and wasn’t really affecting my running at all I just had a dull ache all the time. I found out from the MRI that I have stress fractures of the medial tibial plateau.

Image taken from The American Journal of Sports Medicine 34:78-83 (2006)

Not good. I was told no running for many months. When I found out I was totally heart broken it affected me more than I thought. I had a total mental breakdown and just wanted to quit all training and be the typical fat American bum. I had already signed up to do my first triathlon which was the next weekend which I had been planning to do now for months. I was totally excited about doing it and had put in a lot time, training and mental will power to tackle this feet which is now null in void. I got the word from the doc that I could continue to swim and bike but couldn’t run for a long time until I had zero pain which he said could take months. I decided to keep on training on the bike, because you know me I couldn’t just quit. I am also really concentrating on perfecting my swim. I decided also to enter the Lobsterman Aquabike which is on September 15th in Freeport, ME. It starts at 11am and I only have to swim then bike. It’s not the same as doing the full triathlon but I’ll take what I can get at this point. So that is my next serious goal other than doing a few Time Trials here and there. This gets us caught up to date and I’m going to try and do posts more often. I’ve got a few in mind so stay tuned.

Friday, May 04, 2007

YAHOO, I've Started Cycling Again

Well the past two months have been really tough.
I got really sick and the doctors couldn't really figure out what was wrong.
I had zero energy and slept most of the day. I missed lots of work and to top it all off I couldn't even ride the bike. Well I've been so bored lately that I decided to just go out and enjoy the spring weather and ride the bike. I do have more energy now so I'm able to actually ride but man I've lost tons of fitness and strength. I can't believe how fast it went. Hopefully it will come back fast too. I probably won't be racing for a while and I'm still not feeling well just a little better but I'm sick of just laying around the apartment all the time. We'll see how it goes and if I'm able to really get back into the swing of things and train. Maybe I'll be able to do a few late season bike races but at least now I'm able to get back outside and enjoy the one activity that I truly love to do again. I really hoping the worst of the illness is over, whatever it was, and I'm truly getting better again and will continue to do so as soon as I can.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Is spring ever going to come?

So today we are supposed to get another big snow storm. I just don't know about this weird weather we are having. In December we had beautiful sunny skies with warm temperatures when we were supposed to be getting snow and cold. Now that its the second week of April and everyone is expecting the tulips to be blooming, the tree buds showing face and the sun actually warming up the land but instead we are seeing snow storm after snow storm with cold crappy temperatures. I took this picture from last weeks storm and i'm sure todays will be the same. I just don't think spring will ever come even though I truly want it to arrive. I am really sick of winter and snow.

So today's high is only supposed to be 40 degrees. I looked up the high for last year and it was 62 degrees. Just not fair. Oh well. Hopefully spring and summer will come soon. We all need it.
Here is a link to the expected snowfall totals. Looks like it will be another big one with plenty of snow to shovel and plow.

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Mimi

I started writing this entry a while ago but just didn't know what to say. I wanted to post this earlier but needed some time to reflect on the current events. On March 16, 2007, at the Maine General Medical Center, my dear grandmother, Mimi, passed away peacefully after a short illness. It hasn't been easy, to say the least, dealing with this loss. My grandfather, who is also pictured above, passed away earlier this fall. Not much time at all has passed since he died and now she has also. At least now they can be together again. We had a wake and a funeral service for her in Winthrop at the funeral home. A lot of good memories were shared by all. I learned a lot about her that I never new. She wasn't one to talk much about herself. There were many tears shed by all but there was also some laughs and smiles while we reflected on their lives. Some of my favorite memories were of all of us going down to their house on the lake and having family BBQ's, playing cards, swimming, and celebrating all of the yearly holidays. Christmas was definitely the biggest and most special. Ever since I was born my family has been going to their house on Christmas Eve to celebrate the holiday. We would have lots of food and treats, we would watch movies, and even some years did some really crazy games. For many years we would all stay over night and would wake up early in the morning to open up all the gifts that we all brought. We always had tons of presents since my whole family would come. My Aunt and Uncle with their two kids from Texas would make the trip every year. My other Aunt and her two kids from Augusta would stay over also. Plus there was my parents and my brother along with my grandparents. We would all cram into a small ranch and celebrate this Christmas holiday. These were some of my favorite memories that I will never forget. There are many others also. They both are going to be truly missed but will be with me forever.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

TD Banknorth Rangeley Lakes Loppet

A couple of weekends ago I attempted my first marathon ski event at the Rangeley Lakes Loppet. I have never done a 50K ski race before and didn't really know what to expect. I had been skiing up to this point every weekend for 2-3hrs at a time. I would usually ski a pretty good pace but never at race pace. I also have been battling with being exhausted all the time and don't really know why. I also didn't really know how that would affect my performance.
The fun began the night before when we were getting a nice big snow storm. I needed to wax my skies but didn't really feel like sitting out in the heavy wet snow putting on two layers of wax. I decided that I would get up early and do it in the morning before the race.
The drive to the race was more than interesting. Most of the roads were still very snow covered and made the trip very slow and slippery. The temps were climbing and the forecast was for mostly sunny with temps well above freezing.
Once there I passed on warming up and just sat in my truck and rested before the start. I wanted to save every bit of energy I had for the race. I was bringing with me 1 bottle of Gatorade and a few Hammer gel packs, plus there were aid stations with water and Hammer Heed at every 10k or so. I figured I should be set.
The mass start went off with near 100 entrants and I was smack in the middle of the pack. On the first downhill turn a skier took a tumble and took out everyone behind them. I had nowhere to go and fell on top of 3 other skiers. Then 4 other people happened to fall on top of me. Not much fun already and it's only been less than a minute of the 3+ hour race. I had to wait a while before getting going again and had to maneuver my way through a large field now with most of them slower than I was.
The conditions were not easy at all to say the least. Rangeley had gotten 2+ feet of snow the night before and it was just starting to warm up. That meant very soft, wet, slow snow. It made things very difficult indeed to ski on. As the race went on I managed to pass a lot of slower skiers and made my way back to mid pack. I had grabbed a few small cups of fluid at the aid stations while still skiing which was fun on the first attempt and ended up giving myself a bath. As I made my way back to the start which was the first of two laps I started to really wind down and getting really tired. I thought that I could either quit now and say I did the 25k in good time or I could continue on, punish my body and see how far I could go. Well of course I continued on. I hate quiting. I really slowed down on the next 5k and was passed by at least 10 skiers that I had initially passed in the beginning. When I hit the first aid station I was totally exhausted. I didn't think I could go on and I told them I need to rest for a while. I pulled off and stood there taking in some liquid and gel. I decided to continue on and make try to make it to the next aid station. It was then I realized the next one was a ways off and I had to climb a major hill. I knew I was going to be in trouble. The next 10k or so was a blur and I was passed by a lot of racers. I would ski for 2k or so and then stop and rest. Finally I was passed by, what I figured, was the last of the racers and I pretty much walked up the last hill before the aid station. When I got there I collapsed on my poles and told them I was done and couldn't take another step. They helped out of my skies and sat me down on a chair. I just sat there for a while trying to get the dizziness to go away. Finally one of the aides drove me back to the start and I was done for the day.
The rest of the day/night was a blur to me. I did have to drive myself home, which was very tough to do in my current state. I did stop in Farmington for some food and that helped some. That night I felt really sick and only slept a few small hours. I was just to exhausted and in too much pain.
So in all I skied somewhere between 35 and 40k. I liked the course a lot and I would probably attempt it again next year. I do hope though that next year I will feel a whole lot better and will actually be able to finish.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Training hasn't been easy lately

For the past month or so I've been battling health issues and it's really taking a toll on my cycling. I have still been doing some hard efforts but lately even those have had to cease. Currently I'm barely even able to get on the bike to ride easy. I was hoping for some early season racing but that looks out of the question at the present moment. Hopefully, I will get better soon and will be able to get my training back in check before the summer hits us and we are in full race season.

On another note, I've been a valid Battlestar Galactica watcher now since the beginning. Lately I have been totally disappointed with the shows content and it's been pretty boring. The episodes have been a lot of character development, which is fine once and a while, but man we need some excitement. I hope they have some soon or I will have to stop watching it. I can't wait till SG-1 and Atlantis start back up. Those shows never seem to be boring and have always kept my attention.

Friday, February 23, 2007

New Year

Ok, It's been like forever since I've done a post and one of the things I wanted to do this year is make more posts on my blog so here goes the first one for the new year.

Well since I live in the northeast where we usually have tons of snow, cold weather, and lack of daylight my routines moves from riding outside everyday to riding the trainer. While riding the trainer isn't ideal I really don't mind it. The time is usually shorter and i'm able to do it either before work or after when it's dark and not have to worry about getting run over. I usually pass the time by watching tv or a movie. On the bright side the weather seems to be improving and the daylight has been getting longer. It won't be long now before the snow is gone and I'll be riding outside again.

I'll try to writing more often and will post again soon.
chow for now.