Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013 IMFL Training Done!

In 2011 I trained 196 actual hours of my planned 304 hour 20 week plan for Ironman Florida.  That's 64%.  This year, 2013, I trained 166 actual hours (adding 3 hours for taper), or so, of my planned 306 hour 20 week plan.  That's 54%.

As you might have seen before, my plan, like most plans, should stair step up in intensity each week with three recovery periods in between.  The chart shows hours of training on the left and weeks 1 through 20 on the bottom.

2013 Planned Training (hours / weeks)
As you can see from my actual training I didn't always stick to the plan.  The stair steps are virtually non-existent however, I got in some good weeks of training along the way.

2013 Actual Training (hours / weeks)
So that's about it.  I guess I averaged about 8 hours and 18 minutes of training per week.  I still have a few days to go.  I will say that those 166 hours were intense and I did add 4 or 5 weeks at the beginning for the 2013 Augusta Ironman 70.3.

The odd thing is that I'm strangely at peace with the whole thing.  The thought of doing a full 140.6 Ironman really doesn't seem that daunting.  I have had two years to forget about the pain from my last effort.  I suppose it really depends upon how much I want to push myself to the edge.  Too much effort and I might fall off a cliff before the finish line, too little effort and I might have regrets, just the right amount and I should have energy to cheer on my fellow competitors long into the night.  Maybe I'll get some good pictures too.    

See my 2013 training plan here in pdf format.

Thanks for reading.

2013 Lake Spivey Road Race

On November 2nd, 2013 several southern crescent residents will be in Panama City Beach (PCB), Florida competing in the 2013 Ironman Florida triathlon.  I'm talking about my awesome Southern Crescent Cycling teammates Stephanie Critchfield, Jason Reeves, Carlos Talbott, all residents of Henry County, Georgia and me, a resident of Clayton County.  My friends Jared Hanson and Chad Daniel, both of Peachtree City in Fayette County, Georgia will also be competing.  They pushed me on
the bike this year when no one else could.  I pushed them too, but it wasn't forward, it was down onto the railroad tracks in Atlanta.  Sorry guys!

Anyway, shortly after our race starts competitors in Lake Spivey, Georgia will be running in the 6th annual Lake Spivey Road Race (LSRR) 5K (3.1 mile) and 15K (9.3 mile).  The LSRR was an event I created in 2008 to promote Lake Spivey.  Anyone who has done a search of the results from the popular Peachtree Road Race (PRR), or any other local race, is well aware that the southside of Atlanta is not well represented.  This is especially true for cities in Clayton County like Rex, Lovejoy, Morrow, and Forest Park.  Even the county seat of Jonesboro will have only a few runners participate in the PRR each year.  Clayton County seems to be almost void of runners or anyone interested in fitness.   Neighboring Henry and Fayette counties, on the other hand, are well represented considering their lower population density.  It should be noted that a portion of Lake Spivey resides in Henry County.   The Lake Spivey race was an effort to change that trend and get residents interested in fitness and the community.

Before the gun was fired starting the first LSRR in 2008 there was a great deal of work to do.  This was my baby.  My idea and my project to complete.  With Susan's help and the technical expertise of my friend Joe we got to work.  The goal was to create a course that would draw runners from the greater metropolitan Atlanta area and highlight the communities around the lake and golf course.  To accomplish that goal something greater than your standard 5K or 10K was needed but not something so challenging that we couldn't pull it off.  With the help of seasoned race director Gary Jenkins a 15K course around the lake was decided upon as the main event.  I can't say enough good things about how Gary helped us that first year.  A 5K course was also outlined near the golf course.  The 5K and 15K courses were designed and subsequently certified through the USA Track and Field (USATF) organization.  At the time, the Lake Spivey Road Race 15K was one of only three USATF certified 15K courses in Georgia.

With the courses certified, sponsors were the next important task on the agenda.  Fortunately, several sponsors stepped forward.  Most notably my friend and avid fellow runner Jim Macie was there with his enthusiasm for the event and a check from his law firm Meadows and Macie.

A date in early November was selected that wouldn't conflict with too many other events.  Now in it's 6th year, the race continues with the bulk of the organizational tasks performed by Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department personnel.

So, if you compete in this year's Lake Spivey Road Race take a second after you're done to think about those of us competing in the Florida Ironman triathlon.  Our day of racing will likely end late Saturday and, if you're so inclined, you can watch us race streaming live online at

Register for the 2013 Lake Spivey Road Race here!

Good luck everyone!

Thanks for reading.

...and Beyond!

I added the "and Beyond" to the title of my blog after I completed 2011 Ironman Florida.  Like most competitors, after finishing a big race there's a bit of reflection.  It's probable a result of the steep drop in required weekly exercise and the question what's next?.

As I was blowing leaves today with my awesome Stihl backpack blower, I do some of my best thinking while doing yard work, I reflected on what finishing my second Ironman will mean.  I think it will mean a return to balance in my life.  Balance in spending time with my wife, becoming more engaged at work, limiting my participation in various volunteer groups, and enjoying limited exercise again.

I love running but I don't want to have to do it.  I love cycling but I don't want to feel that I have to ride 100 miles in the rain.  I like swimming but when it's cold, you can have it!  I still remember going to the Beaches Aquatic Center with my mom to try-out for the team.  I was about 6 years old and had just learned how to swim.  If I recall correctly, it was in the fall and even though we lived in Florida the water was cold.  I said NO!  It's funny the things you remember.  I remember running two miles in 12:06 on a Fort Bliss, Texas track when I was in the U.S. Army.  That's fast for me.  I would have been about 24 years old.

If there's anything that one should take away from this is that there's life after Ironman.  I'll never again see the speed that I had when I was in my 20's.  I guess satisfaction comes from just knowing that I did it.  The same is true for Ironman.  Kona or not,the journey is part of the mystique.

Thanks for reading.

Roku 3 Streaming Video Player

Occasionally I buy a gadget, go somewhere, or eat something that I feel is worth mentioning.  This is the case with my new Roku 3 streaming player.  I purchased one this weekend at Costco for $80.00.  In a related blog I recount my switch from Dish Network to AT&T U-Verse about 2 years ago.  I'm still not happy with U-verse but yet I'm still a subscriber.  I was so unhappy initially that I wrote a blog about it.  Read that review here in AT&T U-Verse Leaves A Lot To Be Desired.  Since then my internet download and upload have improved somewhat.  This brief review is more upbeat.

The Roku comes in the small cardboard box.

You'll just need to pry the box open along the handle, or I suppose you could cut it open with a knife or some scissors.

Inside the box is another box.

After all the packaging, and the thin and somewhat anemic manual, are put aside you're left with the remote control, tether, 2 C batteries, headphones, and 2 sets of extra headphone earbud tips.

There's also the Roku 3, power cable, and a 6' long HDMI cable in the box.

The Roku player has a USB connection.

There's also a DC IN jack for power, a reset hole just below that, an Ethernet jack, an HDMI jack, and micro SD card slot.

A cloth "ROKU" tag sticks out of one side of the player like the tag on a pair of Levis bluejeans.  I don't know what that's for.

The headphones plug into the side of the remote control.

The volume control for the headphones is located on the side of the remote control.  It does not control the TV volume.

Once the HDMI cable is connected between the Roku player and your television and power is applied the unit will start initializing itself.  You may have to change the input or source on your television to display the Roku configuration screens.  The screens will prompt you to setup your wireless network connection, activate the unit and create a Roku account from another computer.  The unit will also automatically update and install the latest software.  The screen said that it would automatically restart after the update was complete but my unit froze-up.  I unplugged and restored power to the player and, after re-initializing, the display was normal.  The update was complete.

As you create your online Roku account you'll be prompted to add several streaming services.  Several services are pre-selected.  If you proceed with these selected you won't be charged for the service.   They're basically there as placeholders.  I bought the Roku 3 to stream HBO GO because my relatively new 60" Sharp Aquas LC-60C6400U smart TV only supports a few streaming services and HBO GO was not one of them.  It also doesn't have a browser to enable adding additional services.  What you see is what you get!

Since I had to add one of the Roku's primary service apps while creating my account , I added Netflix.   This didn't cost me anything since I don't have a Netflix account.  I may get one in the future anyway.   After that I was able to add my HBO GO account.  I had to activate that account via another computer as well.

Netflix and HBO GO are my available streaming services ready for selection on my Roku Home page.   Even though I don't have Netflix service, the app is still available.  I suppose that if I selected it I'd have to create and then active that account as well via my computer.

After I select HBO GO the Roku loads my viewing options.

Options are easily selected with the few buttons on the remote.

I also installed the Roku app on my Galaxy S2 cellphone.  After enabling my phone's WiFi my phone was able to recognize the Roku via my wireless network.

With the app I have complete control of the Roku.

The app has the same buttons at the remote control.

The Roku store is where you can add free or paid programs.

The programs are listed by category.

You can also use the Roku to play music and photos. I haven't used either feature but I clicked on Photos and three options were listed all of which were photos that reside on my phone.

I said previously that I bought the Roku to stream HBO GO which is true.  More specifically, I bought it to watch the HBO series Game of Thrones.  The series was available on demand earlier in the year but now it's gone.  I suppose it will return before the series continues.  I couldn't wait that long.  I'm addicted.  Game of Thrones is an awesome series!

I guess I should say a few final words about the Roku 3 so here they are.  The Roku remote is surprisingly easy to use.  The picture quality is amazing.  The remote control headphone is a really cool idea for those of us who like to watch TV in bed and prefer not to wake the wife.  We've watched two movies so far and neither experienced any delays in loading, buffering, or hesitation.  They were smooth as silk.  The only negative thing I can think of is the fact that my crappy U-Verse router won't connect to the Roku when I move the player into my family room.  That was expected because our lives have evolved to being within line of sight of that feeble excuse for a router for 2 years.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pre-Race Injury

Sometimes it's the injuries of others that make us stop and pause.  Remember, it's not all about us!  The other person in my case is my wife Susan.  Very early one morning two week ago she was having some abdominal pain.  We both thought it was food poisoning.  We sat around the house that day doing nothing but watching television and waiting for her to feel better.  That night was sleepless for her and for me.  We got out of bed late that next morning hoping that the episode had passed.  It had not!  We made a few calls to our primary care physicians but were unable to schedule an appointment.  We decided to head to the hospital emergency room.  It's a good thing we did.

Peidmont Fayette Hospital
We arrived a Piedmont Fayette hospital in Fayetteville at around 1pm.  The nurses did a few tests and before we knew it Susan was in a bed waiting for a Computed Tomography (CT) Scan.  The scan took place at around 6pm and by 7pm we knew she was going to need surgery.  The diagnosis was a ruptured appendix.  Sometime around 10pm that defective little sucker was out and Susan was in recovery by 11pm. The surgery itself only took about an hour.

So, what have I learned from this experience?

1) Don't wait to go to the hospital until it's too late.
2) Susan folds a lot of laundry - mostly mine.
3) Max is the best dog in the world but he did miss his momma.

Max says "THROW THE BALL!!"
Susan came home after spending two nights in the hospital.  I guess the most important lesson I've learned from this emergency is that normal people (I consider myself in that category "normal", and "people") can't achieve great things (I consider Ironman a great thing) without some help from others.  It's only when that aide is taken away that we realize how dependent we are on others.  I'm sure that you folks with small children are saying you know what I'm talking about.  Whether it's a friend, a spouse, family member, or significant other, we all need help at some point in our lives.  Training for an Ironman only compounds things.  Fortunately, I've been able to help my wife and still be able to train.

Just a bit of pre-race reflection!  It's been a long journey, and it's still not over.

As directed no pictures of Susan in or near the hospital were included in this blog.  The injuries sustained to me should that occur would surely affect my chances of participating in Florida.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Last Long Ride Before Ironman Florida

On Saturday, October 19th I rode my last long bike ride before Ironman Florida.  I rode with Jason, his brother Josh, Shawn, a Beach to Battleship 140.6 trainee, and Rob.  Jason, Josh and I rode 110 hard miles mostly in the rain.  Jason is also competing in Ironman Florida on November 2nd.  Josh was there to keep us (me) honest.  When it wasn't raining there were plenty of puddles to ride through to keep us nice and wet.  Shawn and Rob stuck around for the first 33 miles.

I felt good, albeit cold, for the first 75 or 80 miles but by that point I was losing steam.  To put it mildly, Jason and Josh kicked my butt!  Our ride started at around 7:30am.  We didn't finish until 6 hours later.  We made two mandatory stops at the Atlanta Trek bike shop in McDonough.  Our friend Nick took the picture below during our second stop.  Thanks Nick!  It sure was warm inside the bike shop.

Neil, Jason, Josh, Shawn, Rob and Alex up front
Our route took us on several loops over the same roads our local club rides follow.
The plan was to ride 112 miles and then run for an hour, basically a long brick.  Josh, an awesome cyclist but not such a good runner, baled on Jason and I just as soon as we got to the parking lot.  He said something about being late.  That wasn't fair because that was my plan and since Josh beat me to the punch it made me feel obligated to run with Jason.   I did the next best thing.  I ran with Jason for 10 minutes.  After that I hopped in my warm, dry truck and headed home.  I suppose Jason continued running, but who's to say!  If that were me I'd have quit just as soon as I saw the coast was clear.  No witnesses!  I need to eat more pasta.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Peachtree City to Atlanta Ride

On Wednesday, October 16th I had the opportunity to ride with my friends in Peachtree City.  I hadn't ridden much in the past two weeks so I got the okay to sit back and draft while my friends did all the hard work up front.  The route took Chad, Jared John, Martha and I out and back from PTC through Tyrone, Palmetto, Fairburn, Union City, College Park, and East Point.  We also picked up Emile along the way.  We covered 93.43 miles in 4 hours and 35 minutes.  Our moving average was 20.5 mph.  I have to disclose at this point that I did not in any way do anything that might resemble a pull on this ride.  I rode in the back of the group and let John, Jared and Chad wear themselves out.  Jared and Chad will be with me on November 2nd in Panama City Beach for Ironman Florida.  They better wait for me at the finish line because I'm probably not going to do a sub-11 hour race this time around.

Jared, John, and Emile
Chad and me (I'm standing on the curb)
Martha's Care Bear socks
I'm gonna go out on a limb at this point and give an educated guess for Jared and Chad's 2013 IMFL finish times.

I'm thinking Jared is going sub-10 hours.  I'll go so far as to say that Jared will finish in 9 hours and 55 minutes, if he's able to get his nutrition right.  This is his first full Ironman so who knows what he's capable of.  What will slow Jared down is that he's too strong.  He's got too much upper body muscle that he's got to carry and feed all day.  There are some reports that Jared may be a less than efficient swimmer.  He may feel compelled to makeup any swim deficit too soon and blow his overall race.  I hope not.

Chad is gonna finish in under 11 hours.  I'm guessing 10 hours and 25 minutes.  Chad's even performance between all three segments should boost his confidence.  He just missed the 11 hour mark in 2011.  I think he's probably better prepared this year.

So, with the Ironman Florida estimates out of the way, lets get back to our PTCto Atlanta ride.    
This was a similar route to the infamous PTC to ATL and Back ride in the rain in August.  That ride took me out on the railroad tracks.  I took Jared and Chad out.

This ride was much more enjoyable.  No rain - No crashes!

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2013 Ironman Augusta 70.3 - Race Report

Susan and I left home for Augusta, Georgia late in the morning on Saturday, September 28th. Our first choice for accommodations, the host hotel Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center in downtown Augusta was booked up so we planned to stay at the Hilton Home2 Suites.  Our hotel was located a few miles away from the venue. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our hotel was brand new and our "suite" had plenty of room. We stayed at the Partridge Inn last year and found the room to be cramped with few conveniences to say the least.  You can read about that trip in my 2012 race report linked below.

The sitting area in our room at the Home2 Suites
Our room at the Home2 Suites
All but one of my fellow Southern Crescent Cycling club members missed the cutoff to register for the 2013 Augusta Ironman 70.3 triathlon. It was up to Greg Bush and myself to represent the club. My friend Stephanie Powell was also competing. This would be Greg and Stephanie's first half-ironman race.

Stephanie and Greg arrived well before us.  They had both already checked in at their respective hotels and picked up their race packets.

We caught up with Greg and his wife Theresa at the Athletes briefing.

Athletes briefing
Greg and I dropped our bikes off in the transition area.  Stephanie's bike was already there.  It was a sea of bikes.  Many of the bikes were state of the art with disc wheels, power meters, internal nutrition bladders, electronic shifters, and more.

Ready to put my bike into the transition area
Greg flanked by his wife Theresa at the transition area
Susan and I get officially photo-bombed
The transition area
After our trip to the transition area we went to our our hotels briefly before an early dinner. We decided to eat at Carrabba's Italian Grill for our pre-race pasta fix. Susan and I ate there last year so we knew it would be crowded. We arrived at 5:10PM and there was already a 90 minute wait for a table. Following Greg's lead we elected to eat in the bar area.  Fortunately for us there were a few empty seats. When we left at around 7PM the number of people waiting for a table had tripled.

The wait outside Carrabba's Italian Grill at 5:10PM on Saturday
After dinner we headed back to our hotel. We were asleep by 9PM, and awake again at 1AM, then asleep again, then awake, asleep, awake... We were up and ready for the day at a little before 5AM. Susan made me a bagel with cream cheese and some yogurt and fruit to get the juices flowing, so to speak. I had some orange juice too and set aside a gel packet for before the swim.

A sleep deprived Susan making our breakfast
Susan and I picked up Greg and his wife Theresa before meeting up with Stephanie who was already in the transition area. Greg and I had an early wave start. Of the 27 swim waves, Greg was first to hit the water in the 4th wave at 7:44AM. I was second in the 5th wave at 7:48AM. Stephanie would have to wait until 8:36AM for the 17th swim wave to start.

Greg, me, and Stephanie
Athletes hit the water for the swim start as other competitors, family and friends look on.

The swim start
The view of the swim start from the bridge
Swimmers in the water
Stephanie and I had been keeping track of the outflows from the Clarks Hill Dam on an Augusta Half Ironman informational website.  We were encouraged before the race to see that the water volume was significantly higher in the days before the race. However, on race day the Corps of Engineers turned off the tap and the volume fell to just above the level during previous races.

2012 Savannah River flow chart at Augusta
2013 Savannah River flow chart at Augusta
The 2013 race would be my third attempt to conquer the Ironman Augusta 70.3.  I also competed in 2010 and 2012.  The 2010 Augusta 70.3 was my first half Ironman distance race. I missed 2011 before Ironman Florida.  That was the year that it was way too hot and humid to make the race enjoyable.

The day's weather was perfect as forecast. The river was clean and clear with the water temperature somewhere around 70-degrees. It was perfect for a wetsuit swim. After the Pros, Wounded Warriors, and M55+ age-groupers (Greg's group) it was time for my wave to get started. Unlike previous starts everyone remained either standing or seated on the platform until the horn blew.  I was seated.  The horn blew and it was game on. With the wave type start there was very little touching, always a plus, but twice I got wedged between other two swimmers. The first time I changed my course and let them go. The second time I held tough and both swimmers veered away. As I neared the swim exit I could see Susan and Theresa walking toward the swim exit ramp. Susan was wearing a neon yellow jacket.  As I ran up the ramp Susan got this awesome shot.

I'm on the left
I finished the swim segment in 27:01. Augusta is known for its fast river current swim course and 2013 did not disappoint. I've been swimming a lot to prepare, over 100 miles in the past year, so that could account for some of my improved performance over my previous years. In 2010 I completed the swim segment in 28:12, and in 2012 in 28:57.  I had intended to swim in the main part of the river channel to take full advantage of the current but I ended up swimming closer to the bank.

I felt good as I ran up the swim exit chute to the last wetsuit stripper who pulled my suit off in one easy tug. I had planned on a flying mount start to the bike segment but at the last minute decided to put my bike shoes on at the rack. Even though the Augusta 70.3 in a big race it's not my "A" race for the year.  I didn't want to put my feet in any sort of jeopardy.  Running through the transition area in my socks might have put my feet at risk.

A quick wave to Susan as I start the bike course
56 miles to go
I was now onto the bike segment of the race. I had 4 GU gel packets 3 water bottles and several Endurolyte capsules with me. I also had a Clif Bar but I didn't eat it. My water bottles had either a water and Gatorade mix or a Perpetuem, water and Gatorade mix. Since the air temperature at the start was around 60-degrees I decided against using any ice in my bottles. I figured I'd be cold enough. The bike course was great. There were a few spots of rough pavement but the road surface was clear of any debris. I might have seen 20 leaves in the street on the entire 56 mile bike course. You could even see where loose sand had been swept to the roadside. There were several well stocked and well attended aide stations on the bike course but I rode right through them. I took every opportunity to keep my speed up but entered the corners with some caution. Remember, this isn't my "A" race. I've got to stay healthy for another 5 weeks. I finished the Bike course in 2:34:35 with a 21.74 mph pace. Again, that was an improvement over my two previous races. In 2010 I completed the bike segment in 2:43:26 (20.56 mph), and 2:35:34 (21.6 mph) in 2012.

Almost done!
The run segment of the Augusta 70.3 is the best.  The runners loop back and forth around the downtown area so they're able to see their family and friends several times before the finish.  You might even get the chance to see your teammates on the course however, I did not.  Greg was on the run course at the same time I was but I never saw him.  

I hit the run course feeling a little pain in my right glute muscle but I ran through it. Then my feet started to bother me. I'd later find a nice blister on my right foot. I ran through that too. Susan and Theresa were on the run course cheering me on along with the thousands of spectators that has made the Augusta 70.3 a must do race for all first timers. I calculated for a 1:50 half-marathon and that's exactly what I did. I might have hoped for more but I guess I left much of my fitness on the bike course. I finished the run segment in 1:50:08. In 2010 I completed the run segment in 1:42:30 (7:49/mile pace), and 2:01:35 (9:16/mile pace) in 2012.

In the chute to the finish
The finish
T1 and T2 were both slower than I might have liked but it was now all up to the run segment.

My finished time was 4 hours 58 minutes and 54 seconds. That's a personal record (PR) for the six 70.3 races that I've done. I was 10th in my age-group and 296th overall.  In 2010 I completed the race in 5:01:54, and 5:11:31 in 2012.

Break time!
My 2010 Augusta 70.3 Race Results
My 2012 Augusta 70.3 Race Results
My 2013 Augusta 70.3 Race Results
Finisher's medal
Greg and me
So, what did I learn from this race and how will it change my plans for my "A" race, 2013 Ironnman Florida on November 2nd?
  1. Reduce my bike bottle configuration from 3 to 2 water bottles. One on the aerobars and one behind the seat. There's no need for me to haul around an extra bottle when I can just pick one up along the way. 
  2. Rent some Zipp 808 Firecrest wheels. That's what they call buying speed. They might be harder to handle in the infamous Ironman Florida crosswinds than my 60mm Flashpoint carbon wheels but they should be noticeably lighter and more aerodynamic. 
  3. Buy some new running shoes that won't cause blisters
  4. Run and stretch more. I've got to bring back my running game. 
  5. Eat less Chicken Parmesan and more pasta.
I've got to finish Ironman Florida in 10 hours and 10 minutes, or so, to secure a slot to qualify for the Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii. I missed the mark by about 40 minutes in 2011. I placed 13th in my age-group with a finish time of 10:49:25. The 3 Kona qualifying slots rolled down to the 5th placed finisher in my age-group in 2011. I'm 2 years older now and my swimming and cycling are better but my running and transition are worse. Everyone knows that runners win the race. I need to be able to maintain a sub-8 minute per mile pace run in Florida. That will be a tall feat to accomplish. Of course I don't plan on winning the race, I just want to beat the other old farts in my age-group.

Greg and Stephanie both had a good race in Augusta. Stephanie was worried about the swim but she finished it in good time. She had a great bike considering she was on a road bike. Her run was steady and at a good pace considering the fact that her late wave start put her on the streets of downtown Augusta during the heat of the day. Greg's race was even across the board as well. He had a very good swim, a good bike, and an impressive run.

So, overall the 2013 Augusta Ironman 70.3 was a great race. The weather was perfect. The volunteers and event coordination were awesome. There was plenty of food, water, cold water sponges, and pizza for after the race. Of course, I started early with the old folks so I'd expect there to be plenty of supplies. To top it all off I got my picture in the Augusta Chronicle photo album (# 14) from the race.

See all of the pictures we took here.

Here are links to my 2010 and 2012 Augusta 70.3 race reports.

Thanks for reading.