Friday, November 23, 2012

Remembering 2012

As I prepare for the 2013 racing season I have to look back at 2012 and several things come to mind. I competed in several triathlons and foot races in 2012 not all of which with memorable results. I rode in a lot of organized charity rides and group club rides in 2012. All of which I enjoyed to some degree and were all memorable for different reasons. I think about the cost of registration and travel but that’s just the price we pay to play and I’m okay with that. The time invested is another issue. Time is a finite resource and sometimes there doesn't seem like there is ever enough. Fortunately, my wife has been supportive but even she has her limits. As time goes on she wonders when it will all end. When will my obsession turn to something more manageable. This will become more of an issue as I tackle the 530 hours of training to prepare for the 2013 TryCharleston 70.3 in April and the 2013 Ironman Florida race in November. I have a 20-week training plan for each race which leaves little time between these two races for resting the body (and mind).

The goal of this year is to get to the hallowed ground of Kona for the 2014 Ironman World Championship. I missed the opportunity in 2011 at Ironman Florida by about 37 minutes and 8 places. I was 13th in my age-group. The qualifying slots rolled down to the 5th place finisher. Hopefully 2013 will be better. I will be 2 years older so who knows what could happen.

I’m looking forward to a healthy and speedy 2013 as I try juggle training, work, and spending time with my wife and our dog Max. This all starts before the New Year arrives on December 2nd.

Check my schedule and training plans on my "My 2013 Races, etc." page. I'll add more rides and races as the year progresses.

I suppose I a better title for this blog would be Thinking about the Future.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eric Stone vs The Mountain

Eric Stone vs The Mountain
The 2012 6 Gaps and 3 Gaps ride was on September 30th.  The same day as the Ironman Augusta 70.3 triathlon in which I competed.  Frankly, the thought of not flying down a slippery narrow mountain road at 50-mph on 23mm wide bands of 1/8th inch thick rubber and cloth didn't cause me to tear-up in disappointment.  I wasn't the only one to miss out on the opportunity to climb more feet than any sane person would choose to climb.  Eric Stone, mechanic extraordinaire at Epic Bikes in McDonough was sick that weekend and didn't make it either.  To help alleviate the deep sorrow that Eric must have felt Dr. Peto Fallas decided to organize a 3-Gaps do-over ride.  He is calling the ride "Eric Stone vs. The Mountain".  In this corner we have Eric wearing Spandex and Lycra   In the other corner we have The Mountain wearing a sexy ribbon of asphalt.  It doesn't seem like an even match-up to me.
Trey, Peto, Eric, Mike, and Greg at Epic Bike at 5:00AM
The group met at Epic Bikes at 5AM on Sunday morning.  Before the 2 hour drive to Helen, Georgia.  One of our riders would be meeting us at the start as the rest of us formed a convoy of three vehicles loaded down with bikes.
The drive to Helen, Georgia
We were all bundled up and on the road by 8:15AM.  The weather forecast for the day was a low temperature of 33-degrees and a high of 60-degrees.  It was cloudy at the start.  I wore a long sleeve Under Armour shirt, covered by a short sleeve SCC jersey, covered by a long sleeve Sugoi cycling jacket, covered by a bright yellow Sugoi vest.  On my legs I wore leggings, knee high compression socks, SCC cycling shorts, and full shoe covers.  I topped it all off with ear covers, Cannondale cycling mittens, and a bright yellow Sugoi helmet cover or as Peto called it - my baker's hat.  He said we'd have to bake some cookies after the ride.
The Crew before the ride
The route we'd take had us climbing the worst mountain first - Hogpen Gap.  Then we'd hit Jack's Gap and Unicoi Gap.    Hogpen was a mother!  I recall in 2011 when I rode the Hospitality Hwy Century which I thought at the time had some steep hills.  I rode it on my tri-bike with a standard crank and I never felt like I couldn't make it to the top.  For 3-Gaps I rode my road bike with a compact crank.  On the climb up Hogpen I stopped five times and walked twice.   More than once I stopped and laid my head on my handlebars trying to catch my breath and slow down my heart rate.  Needless to say - it was hard.  It must have been the altitude and not my lack of fitness.  Most of the other riders had ridden these, or the other 3 mountains in the 6-Gaps ride before.  You would have thought they'd learned their lesson.

At the top of Hogpen Gap we regrouped before the harrowing descent.  Mike Dozier maxed out at 56.8-mph on the way down.  You could smell burning rubber as those of us without a death wish tried to slow the "freak" down.  My max speed was 41-mph.
Ready for the descent from Hogpen Gap
We regrouped at the bottom of the mountain as Trey took a look at Isabel's brakes which had been howling like a crazed turkey all the way down the mountain.  One down - Two to go!
I didn't know that Booger Hollow was so close
Regrouping after the Hogpen Gap descent
Time to come out of some of those clothes
The next two mountains were less of an issue to contend with.  I didn't have to walk, although I'm pretty sure I must have thought about it.  The descents weren't as viscous either. As the day wore on the clouds burnt off and the sun came out.  There was very little traffic on the roads which made it nice.  It was nice where there were passing lanes on the uphill climbs so we weren't such a nuisance to drivers.
Isabel, Greg, Kevin, Mike, Peto, John, Trey, and Eric
I've included a map of our route.  Since I intentionally didn't pause my Garmin you'll be able to see all the stops, zig-zagging, more stops, walking, and speedy descents.

After the ride we ate at the Troll Tavern in Helen.  I was only able to take two pictures at the tavern as my camera had had enough for the day and was on the fritz, too many button pushes with mittens on.  I could hear it in my bento box having a fit as I rode.  It took me a while to realize what the sound was. 

Overall it was a good day.  No leaves on the road.  No wet weather to contend with.  Just the cold.  Best of all, everyone made it home safely.  I suppose, after the torture of this four hour ordeal is a distant memory I might try it again.  Peto asked me several times if it was worse than doing the Ironman.  I don't know but I can say that 112 miles in pancake flat coastal Florida is easier that 41-miles in North Georgia.

Checkout the other pictures from our trip.
Eric Stone vs The Mountain

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2013 Swim Across America

I ran into my neighbor Brent today as I exercised my right to vote.  Brent lives on Lake Spivey and is administrator for the Lake Spivey Civic Association (LSCA) of which Susan and I are also members.  The civic association maintains Lake Spivey, a 600+ acre private lake in Clayton/Henry County, Georgia.  The lake was developed and later donated to the association years ago by Dr. and Mrs. Spivey.  The lake is where I swim train for triathlons.  I rarely swim in a pool.  Brent knew that me and several friends had been swimming in the lake so he took the time to tell me about an upcoming event which will take place there.

With help from Olympic gold medalist and Lake Spivey resident Steve Lundquist, Swim Across American is organizing a charity event at the lake on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo), 2013.  Swimmers, including several Olympians, are expected to participate in a 1 mile, 5K (3.1 mile), or 10K (6.2 mile) open water charity "swim-a-thon" to raise money for Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorder Center at Children's Heathcare of Atlanta.  Individual swimmers must raise a minimum of $500.  Teams are required to raise a minimum of $5,000.  All funds must be raised by the day of the event.

The three courses have already been mapped out, wetsuits are "legal", and there's little chance anyone from this crowd will kick me in the head or try to swim over me to exit the water first.

I don't particularly like charity/fundraiser events, where I might have to do any work (begging), but I'm thinking seriously about this one.  If nothing else, this could be a great way to prepare for the 2013 Ironman Florida race later in the year.

Brent also said that not all the paperwork has been finalized so some things could change but it looks like it's a go since someone has already put it on the SAS website.  As they say "they wouldn't put it on the Internet if it wasn't true".

Thanks for reading.

Update (2/16/13):  I proposed to the Lake Spivey Civic Association (LSCA) that, as a civic association member, I would create a 10 person team to represent the association if they would pay the $4,500 difference between the registration fees and the $5,000 minimum required donation for teams.  Any additional funds raised by the team beyond the $5,000 would go directly to the charity.  The association declined my offer.  I wish this event the greatest success but regrettably will not be participating.

Monday, November 5, 2012

2013 Ironman Florida Registation

Saturday, November 3rd was the date of the Southern Crescent Cycling club End of Season party and also the date of the 2012 Ironman Florida 140.6 triathlon in Panama City Beach, Florida.  Susan and I worked with other club members to prepare for and ultimately pull off a very successful party.  While we were patting ourselves on the back for a job well done a few of our members were in Florida competing.  We worked through the minor technical issues to watch the live race video feed from Panama City as it was streamed online to us at the party and around the world.
2012 Ironman Florida streaming video
The party was at a member’s community clubhouse.  It was great location with just the right amount of space and features i.e. a restroom, lights, heat and/or air conditioning, and Internet access.  We'd had the 2011 party there too.  The evening was spent eating, drinking, laughing and talking with friends about the year gone by as we watched the television for our friends to finish the race.  We used the Ironman Athlete Tracker to get an idea of when they might finish as they each passed the numerous timing mats nearing the finish line.  The rest was patience and a bit of luck.  As we waited for our friends to finish the race a buzz filled the room.  A frenzy of commotion circled the television.  A common refrain being - are you gonna do it next year?  Several of us had already made up our minds. We were in! Others would take a bit more convincing.

Kimberly Mayben finished first in 13:13, then it was Marriner Smith's turn in 14:14, and then Tommy Smith in 14:47.  What a great day for a race.  The weather in PCB was partly cloudy with a low temperature in the mid-60’s and a high around 80-degrees.  The results seem to indicate a good day for racing as many of the top age-groupers posted faster finish times than in 2011.  I was especially interested in the male 50 to 54 age-group.  My 2011 finish time of 10:49:25 placed me 321st overall and 13th in that age-group.  That same time in 2012 would put me 301st overall and 20th in my age-group.  Age-Group placement being more important as that's where the Kona slots come from.

Kimberly crosses the finish line
Fast forward to 12 noon on Sunday.  The party is over, cleanup from the aftermath is underway, and Carlos is texting the minutes counting down until the online registration opens for the 2013 Ironman Florida race.  We’re all ready at our computers.  Twenty minutes…eighteen minutes…  I’m logged into  I’ve read the registration instructions, and I’ve got the 2013 Ironman Florida page up displaying the register button.  I give it a few early tries just in case.  It shows up FULL…not yet.  Carlos is still texting the countdown, then the clock hits 1pm and my phone is silent.  Carlos, Jason, Leslie, and Stephanie are all into the process.  I can’t get past the damn waiver screen.  The clock continues to tick off the minutes.  I go to the Ironman website and click on the register button.  It sends me to a different page.  I clicked the register button and there it is – on hold.  This is not a good sign.  Susan is checking Facebook and sees that other people are also having problems and posting on the Ironman Facebook page.  She says keep refreshing the screen.  Reload…reload…reload…there it is.  I fill out the form deciding, against my better judgment, to answer some of the questions.  I click the continue button.  We can’t complete your order – the event is “sold out”.

I was disgusted with myself, and furious with World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owners of the Ironman brand.  The whole process was messed up.  All my training partners had gotten in except me.  I did what anyone would do in a situation like mine.  I fired off a message to the WTC on Facebook.

I’d already taken more time than I should have.  I’d have to do something else.  I called work and told them I was on my way.  On the drive in I called my Ironman Florida 2011 buddy Chip.  He said I could still register for Ironman Louisville or maybe I could get a foundation slot.  An Ironman Foundation slot is basically just like a regular slot but it costs you twice as much.

I’d left the house with my computer logged into my Active account.  Susan was going to keep trying.  By now thirty minutes had passed and it was a lost cause.  A flurry of sad text messages ensued, happy that they’d made the cut and sad that I hadn’t.

When I got to work I tried to register one more time.  I saw that foundation slots were available. Thirteen hundred dollars ($1,300) to torture yourself, that’s a lot of money.  Six hundred and fifty dollars ($650) is a lot of money too.

I selected register.  Just then the phone rings.  It’s my wife. She’s in and well into the registration process for me.  I waited a minute as she continued not wanting to release my slot.  I told her to just answer the questions with a red “*”.  Two minutes later she completed the process and I was in. Once she received the confirmation I released my slot.

The subsequent texts and Facebook posts were positive.  The crew was complete.  I was in too!  The next year is gonna be awesome and I have the best wife in the world!

I took some screen captures the following day to help me figure out what had occurred.  The image below shows a bogus "Ironmsn Florida" page on  Note the "s" where an "a" should be.  I'm pretty sure it was not the same event page holder on on Sunday.

Bogus Ironman Florida registration page
Then there were the charity slots allocated to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.  Click on the Ironman US Championship link and it sends you the now discontinued New York City race on August 11th, 2012.
Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation slot registration page
In addition to the MMRF slots there are slots allocated for anyone who purchases a Trek Speed Concept.
Trek Speed Concept Ironman entry
Slots were allocated for the 2013 Ironman Florida and Wisconsin races.
Trek Speed Concept Ironman entry details
After I took into account those slots provided to the 2012 race volunteers and participants it seems like few slots were available to those regular folks that just wanted to compete but couldn't make the trip to PCB.  I guess that's the plan, few slots and high demand. but it really sucks for those folks that couldn't get in.

3400 slots - On-site Reg. slots - MMRF slots - Trek slots - Foundation slots = ? 

I guess it's time to just get over it and focus on the task at hand.  Now it’s time to train because next year the club may be watching us as we cross the finish line in Florida.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ironman Miami Trip Restaurants

On the way down to Fort Lauderdale for the 2012 Ironman Miami 70.3 Susan and I stopped for lunch at Ray's Deli & Grill in Lake City, Florida.  The restaurant had a high rating on urbanspoon.  Although it was a mile or two further drive from I-75 the food was good and the staff was friendly.  We stopped there for lunch on our return trip too so I guess that says something.

Ray's Deli & Grill in Lake City, Florida
Complimentary homemade chips at Ray's Deli & Grill
Neil's "Big Louie" sandwich with potato salad at Ray's Deli & Grill
Susan's Hamburger with a salad at Ray's Deli & Grill
In Orlando we stopped for dinner at FishBones on Thursday night.  The service was good but forced.  Our server highlighted the long list of add-ons that soon became tiresome to acknowledge.   Susan ordered a calamari appetizer for us to share.  It was soggy.  We sent it back in favor of some Tuna Tips  They were a better choice.  Our dinner was quick but expensive.  It's a tourist trap!  Note to self, check urbanspoon before selecting a restaurant.

On Friday morning we ate at Mom's Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale.  This diner style eatery rates very well and I can see why.  The menu was far reaching, the service was quick and efficient, and most importantly the food was good.  Susan even left her smartphone on the table and the server literally ran to two (2) different parking lots trying to return it.  I met her mid-stride near the door.  The same cannot be said for Atlanta restaurants.  In the summer Susan left her phone at El Ranchero on Hwy 138 in Stockbridge, Georgia.  She never saw it again although the locator said it had been there.  That was a costly mistake.
Mom's Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Neil's bacon, eggs, and french toast at Mom's Kitchen
Susan's brother Mark's salad at Mom's Kitchen
Susan's fish sandwich at Mom's Kitchen
In Fort Lauderdale we ate at Chuck's Steak House on Commercial Blvd on Friday night for my nephew Andrew's birthday.  This restaurant has the feel of a restaurant stuck in the 1980's complete with their famous salad bar.  I had the 10 ounce Prime Rib dinner with a baked sweet potato and Italian salad.  It was all very good.  Andrew and his girlfriend Ysennia are students at Nova Southeastern University near Miami.
Ysennia, Beth, Susan, Mark, Andrew, and Amaya in front
My buddy Don and I ate at Pizza Pizza at Bayside Mall on Saturday before bike check-in for the triathlon on Sunday morning.  I didn't take any pictures.  The pizza was good but the seating along the bay was the real draw.

My pre-race supper was at Carrabbas' Italian Grill in Fort Lauderdale early on Saturday evening.  We had eaten at a Carrabba's before the Ironman Augusta 70.3 and found it to be a good mid-priced place to eat some good pasta.  They didn't disappoint.  The food was good, including the calamari.  The service was good too.  Note to self, do not pester the wife when she is putting on her make-up.  There will be plenty of seats left at the restaurant if we arrive a little after 5:30pm.  However, if a restaurant were going to fill-up at 5:30pm it would be in south Florida.  Fortunately, we arrived in time for the early-bird special.  But it was very close!

On the day of the race Susan, her brother Mark and sister-in-law Beth ate at Mamba Cafe' at Bayside Mall near Bayfront Park.
Beth's omelette at Mamba Cafe' in Miami, Florida
Mark's breakfast at Mamba Cafe'
That pretty much sums up my food encounters and pictures.

Thanks for reading.