On the Road to Kona travel blog


The last time that I stopped along this path, to update my support crew, I was recovering from the indignity of having been passed in the last 30 yards of the Silver Lakes Triathlon to finish second. The celebration should have been huge and sweet but, instead, there was a bitterness of a lost prize that might never come my way again. It sure is interesting how one’s primary goal of survival instantaneously changed to that of a much more competitive nature. The poison called testosterone has found its way back into the equation.

I had a debrief with my TNT triathlon coach and he had a couple pretty obvious observations. His instructions regarding the start had been to sprint no more than 25 yards to just clear the mayhem and then settle into a pace that would allow me to negative split the course. By negative split he means that I am to swim so slow in the first half of the segment that I can finish the second half faster. I guess I did not get all of the message the first time. I am pretty sure that a more reasonable first 25 yards will allow me to keep my heart rate below the native drum thumping that derailed me at Silver Lakes.

His second observation was that no self respecting triathlete wears biking gloves. His advice was to simply lose the riding gloves. The gloves alone cost me at least 2 minutes as I put my bike in reverse just after exiting the first transition area (T1). His final granule of advice was to not sit down in T1. All good and well but, it was sit or fall.

The last three weeks has been incredibly productive from a number of perspectives.

Fundraising:

The response from friends and former colleagues has been nothing short of exhilarating for me. It is interesting how having your formal, financial commitments behind me has helped me get out of the house for a 90 degree run or how those commitments energize me for that extra 5 miles on the bike. While each of you will receive a personal thank you from me I just want you all to know the energy that your dollars provides. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!

This is all new because I never really needed energy to go sailing. For that matter sailing was so much easier than this triathlon business. Whereas the ‘energy’ in Energy2Cure was meant to be the sector in which we live and breathe here in Texas, now the ‘energy’ is personal sweat. Whether it is your generosity or a lame personal bribe of a Snickers Bar snack at the end of a run, that energy must be fueled. Thank you for that fuel.

Training:

I have not been sitting at home watching repeat segments of the 2005-2009 World Ironman Championships from Kona.

My focus has been on my weakest segment, running. I do not miss a day of running. There is a very simple reason for this seemingly unflappable dedication. Desperation and shear fear! When I took my first step on the track last August I made it all of 150 yards before my screaming lungs convinced my aching legs that a mutiny was in line. It has since been explained to me that there is a little muscle or thing-a-ma-dicky called a diaphragm that, when properly coddled, actually eases up and lets you breath when you run. Over the last nine months, I guess I have paid proper homage to this little quirk of nature as I can actually breath during, through and after one to five mile runs.

Did I just say FIVE miles?

Absolutely incredible but I made it a full five miles the other day. You have to understand that I start negotiating with myself within the first half mile of a run. I am shameless. I will use the Tom Petty song on my IPOD and say I can rest if I make it to the end of the song. Or there is always the immobile tree on the horizon that, if ever caught, will be rewarded with a similar one minute break. Or if I can just pass those two Amazon-like senior citizens in wheelchairs I get a handful of M&Ms. And then all of a sudden, over this non-verbal debate, I look down to my running watch and I have 27 minutes and nearly three miles completed. And then some real serious negotiations started up.

I had a 25-mile ride in the beautiful, lush, trailer-strewn rolling hills north of Houston in Montgomery County in +90 degree heat last weekend. My only story here is about the three dogs that chased me at the 8 mile mark but I easily out ran them as I started a pretty nice downhill segment right as they came out in full force. But their presence weighed on me for the 9 or 10 miles after the turn-around. I rested a bit at the bottom of the hill and had a long drink of water for good measure. Unfortunately, the dogs were all lined up like a bunch of sharks as I crested the hill. Surprise, but there are four and not three dogs. They must have sent out for reinforcements. Fortunately, all of my gears worked and with a sprint, that would make any steroid-denying-Tour de France rider proud, I was able to shake these dangerous adversaries. I don’t have to be swimming to get my heart to the red zone.

TNT Events:

The professional assistance enthusiastically rendered by the Leukemia Society through the coaching staff is incredible. Two weeks ago we had a sports medicine doctor attend our post work out session and teach us about such things as stretching and icing down. He also introduced our group to 'Planks' which are exercises to build your core muscles. The bulk of the participants are relatively flat stomached kids (<30 year olds) who can hold all of these plank positions, carry on a conversation and check their Black Berries at the same time. After 30 seconds my arms, legs or entire 'core' is shaking uncontrollably. Let's hope these are not a pre-requisite to complete a longer distanced triathlon.

Last weekend we had a 'Sweat Test' which may sound a little gross but it was absolutely fascinating to me. I was weighed before the 1 mile run / 10 mile ride / 2 mile run and then weighed immediately after the 60-some minutes of activity. ( I should add here that I weighed 221 pounds or 23 pounds less than my last session three months ago. My target is an equally unthinkable 205 pounds by September 1). The entire goal of the exercise is to finish the activity weighing the same as when you start. Well, in my euphoric state of well-being, I thought this would be a great way to dip below the hallowed 220 pound mark. So, when I was reweighed and had only lost two pounds, I was most disappointed. The professional administrator of the program was alarmed that I was disappointed that I had lost 'only' 2 pounds after having drank at least one pound during the event. She went on to explain to the whole group that a 2% loss of body weight through sweating results in a 20% drop in performance. The final calculation was that my sweat rate is nearly 44 ounces per hour. In order to stay neutral I will have ingest that much liquid and then a balance of carbs and electrolytes to keep my system churning. Go figure.

Next Event:

I have entered the Sylvan Beach Triathlon on June 13 which will be the ultimate celebration of my 55th birthday. The distances are all longer for me as the swim is 1km, the bike ride is 30 km and the run is 8 km. My strategy for this event is to just COMLETE THE COURSE. I promise. The portion of Galveston Bay that we will swim in is exposed to a 3 mile fetch from the SE. If the prevailing winds are awake that morning the swim could be quite a challenge. It is Texas, or more specifically Houston, so the ride and run are flat but they will be on very hot pavement.

The swim area is pretty close to Houston Yacht Club where I remember a mid-June Leukemia Cup Regatta that was so starved for wind that Tom R., Steve R. and I actually towed Milano Myst across the start or finish line as we swam under the bow. I could use the same June wind for this event.

My next segment will ask the simple question, “ Why Kona”?

Again, thank you all for your generosity and help.



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