Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sunny disposition

I realize that sometimes that in my own personal writings, like yesterday, the tone can seem less than sunny. Be that as it may, I am a very hopeful person. I believe that while bad things happen to good people, almost any storm can be weathered with the right attitude.

Of course as I know all too well, to much of the 'right attitude' leads straight to the emergency room. I'm learning that you can't ignore the storm completely like I did at Ironman, and the Ironman before that, and then the day I got the heat stroke and all subsequent heat injuries since, and so on.

The doctor I am consulting with, Dr. Chu, he warned me in our first call that any physical activity I did would be harmful because of the intensity I would put into it when my blood was still screwing up my body. His exact words were, "You can't go do a race for fun. You'll get passed by someone, feel a tailwind, eventually a bell will go off in your head, you'll disengage any biofeedback and go full on." I disagreed until Mo said a single word, "Mush", to me in a parking lot and I began sprinting, pushing him on a costco sled. It wasn't even a race. It was just me, playing with my son, and 30 yards later I understood. Completely.

I had no clue. I just snapped. Like Pavlov's dog. And the sickest part is that each time that bell went off that ended up with me having an IV or hospital visit or being hang-dog in bed dehydrated, has done irreparable harm to my body.

There are a lot of reasons why I can be upset or frustrated at these tests and if they portend less than perfect outcomes for my health. Each of those days that ended with an IV drip and odd blood labs started with a great adventure and ultimately became a great story. But I am a hopeful person, and I know that I will have more great adventures and do more great things at the threshold my body can handle....

...I may rev it up a bit, though albeit with a governor on me. It is after all, hard to change our nature.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Lazy Bones

When the liver results came back worse last week, I realized that this will be a long term process to resolve. In order for me to have the fastest recovery possible I have to let my body do its thing and its going to take time. Yet I have to continue to explain why I can't be the physical person people expect me to be. I don't have a cast, I don't have bandages, I don't even have a cut. Its my insides that are all screwed up.

That being said, I had a completely lazy weekend. Is this how the Common Man lives? Kids birthday party, the home depot, little yard work, hit the mega grocery store, the video store, book store, got the car washed, sat in the jacuzzi at least twice each day. Watched superhero movies with Mighty Mo.

I have another blood test tomorrow and hope things come out better. I'd really like to go to Mexico this weekend with the ability to at least have a couple of cocktails. Even though I am not racing at Rocky Point, the whole family is going for a bit of a getaway surrounded by good friends.

I put Mistress through a lot of camping the first several years of our marriage; now staying in a 6,000 square foot penthouse at a Mexican resort overlooking the ocean is about as close to camping as she will get. Vegas being a close second, (better room service).

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Good and The Bad

Good news.
I did not play paintball with my company. My hands were shaking and I was full of adrenaline but I didn't do it. I used to be a tourney player and would have just dominated with my own marker (gun) and gear; every game someone would ask me to be on their team. Oh well. I knew the owner of the indoor field from my time playing back then and it was good to catch up. He let me put on a shirt and ref. I took it slow out there.

SIDENOTE: In the following information, I am telling you this as I learn it. I think that we as individuals are more concerned about our health than any doctor who deals with dozens or hundreds of people on a daily basis and work on a reactive rather than preventative or active care plan. I have firmly believed that if a patient is not; hot, broken, red or swollen, a doctor has as much a guess as you do, except they see and hear the trends in their region and can order tests. As such the internet is a great way to inform yourself on test results and symptoms but I do not think that it can be used to self-diagnose.

I got my latest labs back and my blood looks normal. The one area of concern is my eGFR which is simply listed below normal. This is a test to determine kidney damage.

Bad News.
Out of nowhere my liver test came back horrible. In the hospital I did have acute kidney (renal) failure and liver failure but the doctors were much more concerned about the kidney issue. On the results I just got back for my liver it shows two high liver markers, ALT and AST, in my blood. Someone hand wrote discharged numbers next to the current ones.

The limits for AST are 0-45, I was discharged at 87 and one week later I am 86.

The limits for ALT are 0-55, I was discharged at 41 but one week later I am 275.

I have clipped the following (from HERE) for explanation

ALT and AST are enzymes made in the liver. They are also known as transaminases. The liver uses these enzymes to metabolize amino acids and to make proteins. When liver cells are damaged or dying, ALT and AST leak into the bloodstream. Many different things can cause liver enzymes to rise above normal levels, including:

  • Viral hepatitis
  • Excessive alcohol intake/Alcoholic liver disease
  • Liver inflammation from medications and certain herbs,
  • Auto-immune hepatitis - a condition where a person's immune system mistakes the liver for an invader and attacks it,
  • Fatty liver- fat build -up in liver cells, called steatohepatitis when the fatty liver is inflamed
  • Inherited liver diseases
  • Liver tumors
  • Heart failure

ALT (also called alanine aminotransferase or SGPT) is found in the liver only. High levels of ALT in the bloodstream mean that there may be liver inflammation and/or damage. This test cannot predict liver damage or disease progression. It is simply a direct measurement of the amount of ALT in the person's bloodstream at the time of the test. The normal range of ALT levels is between 5 IU/L to 60 IU/L (International Units per Liter). ALT levels in people with HCV often rise and fall over time, so additional testing such as HCV RNA, HCV genotyping and a liver biopsy may be needed to help determine the cause and extent of liver damage.

AST (also called aspartate aminotransferase or SGOT) is found in other organs besides the liver. High AST levels in the bloodstream can be a sign of liver trouble. AST testing measures the level of AST in a person's bloodstream at a given time. The normal range for AST levels in the bloodstream are 5 IU/L to 43 IU/L. Like ALT levels, AST levels in people with HCV often vary over time and can't be used to forecast disease progression or specifically measure liver damage.

I am directed to give another blood sample next week. They are also going to screen me for hepatitis. Words like that one and dialysis are common words that I read and see all the time but until this month couldn't tell you the how, or why, or what about them. I'm learning as you do.

Adding a Terrible Ugly

I just got off the phone with Big John while writing this post. His brother Dan, multiple IM finisher, including IMAZ this month, lives in San Diego and trains with the SD Tri team. He bailed on his team OW workout this morning due to some drinking last night. His normal OW swim partner, Dave, decided to pair up with a first time OW team mate when he was attacked and killed by a Great White shark a few hours ago. Everyones head is spinning over this, especially the woman he was assisting who was right next to him. When you hear it on the news, know that he was a triathlete who was helping a team mate overcome a fear.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Mighty Mo

Well Blogger would just have to screw this up. No pictures today but Happy Birthday to our five year old son, The Mighty Mo.

Its been a long, hard road with tears and elation and now finally it seems stability in his health. Mo woke this morning to a new IRONMAN action figure and Power Ranger morphing sunglasses and a breakfast of chocolate milk and raisin toast.

Friday night will be a party at a Bouncy Party joint and then a weekend of lounging in his jammies, if thats what he wants to do. Its what daddy is supposed to do.

I have a dinner to go to for work so it's Mommy and Mo for his favorite dinner, Mac & Cheese!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


No news today. Will be called tomorrow. On the positive side, it looks strong that I will be going to the Bay area this summer for some very specific testing

Quick Post

I should find out my latest blood test results sometime today and will post on the outcome when it I get it.

Been sleeping a lot. Eight hours a night. Drinking loads of water and eating well. Only working out has been getting in and out of my jacuzzi after Mo hits the sack.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Have you read this..."

"Have you read this..."

I have a rather...odd relationship with my doctor, "Ann". I saw her today for a post-hospital check up and blood test. Here are some random comments from our meeting.

Ann: "Good Lord, Comm. Rhabdo? You know this can kill you right?"
Comm: "Yes Ann."

A: "You're too young for this. I have patients twice your age with less indicators. And you did this to yourself didn't you. How many times now?"
C: "Ironman.And its about 8 times we think since 1993."

A: "Oh for crying out loud Comm. Bring me these after a traumatic accident or massive heart attack not because you did it to yourself in an Ironman. Didn't you feel your body going over the deep end?"
C: "Yes Ann. I couldn't quit if I tried. I had to just keep moving forward."
A: "Do I need to refer you to a doctor to have your head examined?"
C: "No Ann."

A: "You looked at these ER reports right?"
C: "Yes."
A: "Did it read like your obituary? It sure does to me."

A: "So when do you go back to work?"
C: (Long pause) "I went back to work the day after I got out."
A: "WHAT ARE YOU? HIGH!!! Comm....Comm, what kind of work are you doing in the office."
C: "Answering emails, pushing reports. No lifting, no weights, no exercise."
A: "Absolutely no working out...
C: "Absolutely no working out, promise, nothing."

A: "Wait...you had liver failure and acute renal failure? This is just amazing. You are so stubborn. I've never met any patient who purposefully put them self into this condition through exercise and you continue to do it to yourself."
C: "I know. Ann...when can I workout again?"
A: "Um never. I am not touching this one Comm. You need to work with your specialist. Just reviewing this file is horrifying to me. I can only imagine what your thinking."
C: "I'm thinking I'd like to workout."
A: "I'm thinking I'm calling your wife."

On the plus side the blood draw went really well.


Right now I'm still in the prep phase of recovery. Not much direction, just don't do anything that has intensity or too much exertion. I have been told to increase my protien and calcium significantly. It gives me a chance to put my willpower or Ironwill into my begining nutrition plan for 2008.

I have long discussed I am a compulsive eater, an unconcious eater. In this transition to my short course life and for just a better self opinion I want to drop about 25 lbs. I think at around 175 I will obviously be faster and stronger in all my training.

Everyday and about every four hours I am given an opportunity to test my old eating mentality and my new paradigm. When prepping my meals or ordering food I repeat, "Today is the new me," and I tend to make the wiser choice.

Whatever it takes. I have to be able to control some part of life

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Floating Suspended

Hindsite being what it always is, I should have stayed in the hospital one more day. I did not do much exertion Thursday or Friday but I was winded and taxed each day. Almost as if the effort of Ironman waited to give me the 'day after' feeling once I got out.

My phone consult went really well Friday night. A close friend of my father's, a world famous endurance doctor whose written numerous books on fitness, pioneered research on performance, and is a current Olympic and collegiate coach, has offered to help me. He will have his own sport performance business and his contacts at Standford university help me find a way to manage this condition. Forgive the dramatics, but it will be several months of blood tests, exercise analysis and nutritional consulting before I am back to a fitness program at any intensity I'd consider vigorous. Most people are told to hang it up at this point, when even the exertion of too many push ups could put me on dialysis. It will be interesting to see what comes of this as he told me that not only is this fatal if I don't respect the situation but some professional athletes that develop Rhabdomyolysis never completely recover, period.

This is supposed to be 'float' time when an athlete is in recovery from tremendous effort such as an Ironman or marathon but feels pretty good physically. Usually an athlete can test them self, go on a short ride or quick run. I can't. In fact I had a whole weekend just realizing I have to think of a different plan. While my friends are gearing up for races, the rest of my year is testing the waters. How fast? How far? How long? What intensity? The missing question is, How soon? My body is definitely telling me that answer is, Not now.

On Saturday, Mistress, Mighty Mo and I went to the Wildlife World Zoo. We are members of the Phoenix zoo and go several times a year so the hour drive west did not make much since but Mo really wanted to see the white tigers and well I wasn't going to be gone all day training. While walking around a pretty blond woman walked up and asked, "Are you Commodore?" It was Fumo Santos significant other; Fumo walked over and we talked about the race and the whole week in between. Bloggers are everywhere I tell you.

The whole week has just left me drained and the zoo was the cherry on top. I pretty much spent the rest of the weekend in bed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Changing seasons.

Feeling better today. Met the team last night to talk about our successes and failures last weekend. It was a good time for all of us, but especially me. I don't feel bad about not finishing. In hind site I feel bad I put my family in the spot I did. But they and I knew I would anyway. I have to find a way to stop self-abusing myself and jeopardizing my life.

Today, my first Friday of no training in months, I am going to see the new Jackie Chan/ Jet Li movie with dad. This weekend the zoo with the family. I will be the model Common Man. Mow the lawn, clean the garage. I promise. Nothing strenuous.

Tonight I am having a phone consult with a world class Olympic physician/coach to work with me on a game plan. A friend of the family.

Monday starts Comm's 2.0 or 3.0 or whatever version of this I am. Probably without the exercise right away. On the race course and in training I have a mantra, one of many, "Today is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it." I will still use it but its been replaced with new one:

"Today is the new me."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Let the healing begin

Don't expect puppy dogs and butterflies from me. I am in my office today, yes, less than three days after being diagnosed with kidney and liver failure. Bolder couldn't stop from laughing as I called on the way in but I did promise just sitting at my desk and answering emails and deadlines.

I was told I have a medical condition called Rhabdomyolysis caused by excessive exercise exertion. It rapidly releases protein enzymes from my muscles into my bloodstream and this is what causes my kidneys and liver to stop functioning. Based on my medical history this most likely began from my heat stroke I had in the early 90's, which I have mentioned before, and perpetuated by each case of heat injury and high fever I have had since then that has put a strain on my kidneys.

The damage is done and my body can not recover from the stress placed on it when competing, right now, at Ironman distance. Much like with skin cancer, it never goes away you just manage your protection from the sun, because its easier to get the more you subject yourself to it. In my situation I have to find a place that my body can handle the volume and load of of triathlon training and keep my kidneys working. I think for the next year that level will not exceed Olympic / half marathon distance though I am hoping to eventually train hard for half ironman level.

There definitely needs to be some changes in my training, the more I strain my kidneys the worse they will get (gee might as well substitute concussions for kidneys). I have put together weekends with 80 mile rides and 15 mile runs without fail during my IM build ups but something doesn't click during the actual race. One theory I heard is that my pre-race adrenaline the week of an IM race already expresses this enzyme into my bloodstream, thereby lowering the tolerance level I enjoy during a typical training week.

I already have a plan in motion. First I need to get a post hospital check up next week and then find a metabolist to work with on the actual condition and a plan of attack for future training levels. I have a sprint in two weeks, need to be ready ;)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Under my honest promise to rest and hydrate, and a sincere cross-my-heart to not exert myself this week, I am outta here.

hospital update

Just got turned over for my every eight hour shot, in the gut of heperin, a anti-clot. He, nurse, had my latest blood test and all indicators are normal now except CPK. That dropped to 3000 from 3500 but nowhere near the norm of 250. I am going to pray and argue hard with the dr. that controls my release that its enough to go home, otherwise logic dictates I'd be here another five or six days to reach normal level.

Mistress and Mo came to see me last night and we were all hungry so we went to the cafeteria. I was looking forward going down there all day but when I was looking at my optons was kicked out. "Patients not allowed." I think the glare in my eyes was enough to step the cook back but when I told him I was being held here against my will and would gladly pull the IV out of my arm for a cheeseburger he found something to do away from me. I made a hasty retreat to the exit to wait for family.

I slept very little last night, about two hours split up. I started becoming very negative and bitter about feeling so normal at that time but still in hospital. But I knew at 1am last night that 72 hours ago had I not come here...the reality is its the closest to death, medically, I've ever come. And I've been close before.

I wrote long drafts that I hope are saved for me to parse on a proper pc. I sought wisdom from mentors in calls and text.

I am not ashamed to admit I "worked" out yesterday. I measured off the distance around the nurses station, 22 laps = 1 mile and walked 1.5 miles dragging my IV tower with me.

Bottom line, I am bored and a bit guilty because of it. So much pain around me and no longer any in me. The 100's of messages have been truly my only salvation. thank you.

I'll post again after the doc tells me yes or no about going home.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

some good news

The Dr. just came by. My kidneys are working now, good news. But...my CPK (a muscle/heart enzyme)(?) is too high. Normal is 250 and I am 3500. Yesterday I was over 4000. So it looks like I'm here tonight too as I probably won't get another blood draw till around 3am. I feel fine though.

Mistress brought the portable dvd player and I'm watching Eurotrip, again today. I so love this movie. This 2nd time is with the 'drinking game' commentary on disc. I am using water of course.

I also have 300 but Im saving it for a special occasion, like two o'clock, yeah that sounds like a special occasion to me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ironman: the next day


I am using my blacberry from the hospital. Mistress said I went to ER. I'd lost 13 lbs on the course and another 2 at home vomiting. I hadn't stopped throwing up for six hours and the neighbor down the street heard them all. The blood test came back with my kidneys and liver non-functioing. so they admitted me.

I've had cat scans, x-rays, ultra sounds, too many blood draws. I am here overnight hoping that the IV and stuff they put in me get kidney function back or i go on dialysis.
I've had a history of kidney problems from increased core temperature since my heat stroke 15 years ago. Two seperate doctors today have expressed its an actual medical condition that does get worse. Each strain on the kidneys wear them down, sort like my concussions. The term dialysis has never come up, but its never taken my system this long to reset.

Once again I eschewed all rational thought to Charlie Mike. At mile 40 the cramping started. By 50 it felt like someone was tazzing my legs. One the third loop I meet Mistress and several friends at the base of the 11 mile hill called B-Line. I laid on the ground in intense pain unable to breath because the muscles around my lungs cramped up. Unable to bend my legs from cramps. I had to push started.

At the top of the hill at the turn, I stopped to sit and ended up laying down again. Some medics came by to treat me but I refused to get in the ambulance. They strongly advised not continuing. A race official came by telling me the course was closed. I told her I made the turn in time and I would Charlie Mike until I couldn't make the cut off. Regardless that the last two aid stations were out of water and so was I. Regardless that the next 18 miles was unsupported.

Mistress waited for me at the bottom with no chance of making the last ten miles in ten minutes. So I packed in in. I would have finished the last ten but between not able to breath fully, a police escort, my wife, absolutely zero energy in me and a race officail telling me I was the last rider off the course, the overwhelming evidence suggested finally to stop moving forward.

I was Ironman's cautionary tale yesterday. and I'm paying for it today.


I can not believe that man sneaked over her and blogged after I put him in bed vomiting yesterday. I just caught that little note there. He really is crazy.

The last Ironman for Commodore

Good morning all. I hope every one that did the AZ Ironman is in decent shape and that you hit your finish goals. This was Commodores last Ironman as I put it to him last night in the ER if he wishes to continue to come home he will do sprints only. Love the man dearly but enough is enough he does not have a distance stamina. He is also a stubborn ass and I had to literally drag him in to the ER with our son at midnight. He was in pretty rough shape as he continued vomiting non stop until about 1:15 am. He tried all of his rx's for nausea and vomiting but no luck. By the time I said enough get your ass in the car he agreed, but the past 6 hours had taken their toll he will be in the Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa for at Least another 24 hours. He pushed this one too far refusing to go in. He is getting kidney and liver tests and some cat scans for the abdominal pain and to double check that precarious noggin of his. Have no fears he will be fine but he will be tied down to the hospital bed for days not hours. If I have to actually tie him down I will! Because he has had sever dehydration several other times (why he does not learn from the past not even a spouse will ever know) He has some odd blood tests. Nothing to panic about but needs double checking. He does have his cell phone with him but not up to answering calls yet. If you have his cell number feel free to text, I will retrieve his cell later this morning and return calls to any one wishing more info on him. His test result will not be in until noon but I will go see him after I stop in at work. One of us must show up to work thats the draw back of working for the same company somebody has to go in to work. Thanks every one and I hope all of your other Ironmen are doing great this morning.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

0-2 @ IMAZ

felt great in swim, whole body started cramping on bike. could not pedal without leg cramps, still no breath from muscles around lungs cramping. sgarp pain with deep breath. Rough shape again.

Ironman Morning

"Today is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Reveal

Hey Bloggers!

Have a few moments while some Polar software downloads so thought I would type out a quick dispatch.

The Reveal last night was unbelievable. For those that don't know, Stronger came to me last fall with a crazy concept to get a proper bike for Duane who showed up to a blog-centric race with a decrypted old bike held together with duct tape. The two of us split up duties and worked the plan over the winter. Stronger worked the front of the store with the fund raising and I worked on the actual bike. Thanks in great part to Tribe Multisport and its 'Chief' Kevin, Duane is the proud owner of a new Cervelo tri bike built up for a man with his large heart.

Andy was able to get Duane to come down to Ironman, by offering up his house and with so many bloggers also here it was divined that this weekend would be the reveal. I would personally like to thank Kevin at Tribe, Carrie for carrying a lot of this load and everyone of you who donated for the bike. Your hearts are amazing.

In Frame: Megan, MoMo, Duane, Andy, Stronger, Big J (Mr. MoMo), Benny, Nytro, Krista.

Photo by Bolder in Boulder.

I must have been on the phone with TacBoy and The.Big'un because we also got the whole thing on podcast!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The rides been a good one

Well I have 85% of my gear bags packed. Need a couple of odds & ends before drop off and I'm good. I don't know if I will post before the race in any detail, perhaps a few anecdotes from the blogger party and a "I'm off!" message and thats it.

Before I begin to tunnel vision into a singular purpose I want to express with the strongest terms possible the energy, excitement, comradeship, filial love and happiness that I get from all of you. Thousands will do an Ironman this year without good training weather, without training partners, without a blog, without family acceptance and they are all stronger men and women than me. It is not a sign of weakness to admit that in this respect of my life, I need fellowship and feel that I get it in multiplicity in this sport.

So thank you for investing in me this last year. The rides been a good one I hope. Now if you'll pardon the absence of thought and introspection for the next few days...I'll see you on the other side. I have an Ironman to finish.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ironman Arizona 2008: schwag

What is an Ironman without schwag? My schwag exploits are legen...wait for it...dary. This year however I was a little bummed out. Not a very good showing; by them not by me, shoot I'd have spent four times what I did if the merchandise was there.

All I got this year was the poster (free), the orange cowbell, orange m-dot socks, couple of stickers, a race belt pouch and a gel flask. Also a 2XU tank top that I may wear on the run instead of my tri top. Still a good buy, if I don't.

The hand grenade by the way is mine, is real and is inert. A memento from my field work days.

Another disappointing year for the IMAZ colors too. Thankfully the solid dark chocolate panels of last year are gone but replaced by a milk chocolate and light gold Indian pattern this year. Is the constant Indian analogy on their AZ gear some caveat for riding through the reservation? Because let me tell you, Indian design is not such a big thing out here. Had the official colors been like the lime and orange with subtle browns like the poster, well ka-ching in my book.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Online Spectating

Thanks for coming by to get updates on my race. You can track my progress HERE. My race number is 854. If you can't find an easy reference on the main page, look to the top right corner of the screen and click IRONMANLIVE and then 'Live Athlete Tracking'. Sometimes, well quite often, there is some glitch in the tracking system, so be patient if you run into problems.

For those of you new to tracking an Ironman, the race starts at 7:00 PCT. My race page will have a list of split times to track me along the course and be filled in as I cross them. Of course these times are tentative and situationally dependent but these are what I am projecting for pace:
  • I should be out of the water between 1.5- 1.75 hours (finish around 8:30am to 8:45am).
  • On the bike for 6 to 6.5 hours (finish around 2:30 to 3:00pm)
  • Running for 5 hours (cross finish line around 8pm)
I'd like to finish under 13 hours total but a lot can happen out there.

What is also fun is reading the updates which come in about every five minutes and watching the live video feeds. It mostly follows the pro's but gives tremendous insight to the weather and the course which will be a breezy and hot 95 degrees. COPY/PASTE/PRINT these lists of names and tape to your monitor for quick reference throughout the day.

Just for fun here are some profession names to look for:

Stijn (Stein) Demeulemeester, staying with a friend, holds fastest bike time on course
Rutger Beke, last years winner staying with a friend
Hillary Biscay, pro and hottie
Heather Gollnick, last years winner and tremendous roll model on /off the course
Michellie Jones, #1 ranked womans triathlete in the world.

I will have pals out there too. You can also track:

Andy Cope, bib# 619
Mike Dalgreen, bib# 690
ME, bib# 854
Todd Delabio, bib# 855
Jeff Banas, bib# 1031
Ben Nadolski, bib #441
Ken Hosch, bib #1276
Robin Wooten, bib# 2266

Have Fun.

Directions to Carbo Party

For those of you coming to Andy's pre-Ironman carbo party here are directions. Find the US60 and Loop 101 exchange on your map of Phoenix. Take the US-60 east towards Mesa. Take the Crismon exit, turning right. Drive on Crismon until you get to E. Guadalupe. Turn left on Guadalupe. Turn onto S. Santa Rita (first right), left on Olla Ave (first left), right on Valle Verde which doglegs left to E. Osage Ave. His address is 10459. Look for the AZTRICLUB banner and all the IM stickers on cars.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ironman: You Are Ready

UPDATE: The author of this Ironman ode is Bob Mina and not the person I initially thought it was. She was very up front about it when I told her I put it on CMS with her name attached. Bob sent me an email verifying his authorship and that he wrote it for IM Canada a few years ago. He is happy it is still making the rounds and would like you to feel free to share it with others, I would add with proper authenticity.

I think the beauty of this excellent piece is that regardless of the IM venue, you are transported there with this ode. I told Bob that if it was changed to the first person, (I instead of You) it would be a perfect visualization for an Ironman.

Right now you've all entered the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until next year to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the snow.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.

You went out when others stayed home.
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lies before you...and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won't be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in April, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the water with 2000 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

The helicopters will roar overhead.
The splashing will surround you.

You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one.

The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what happening, then you’ll head for the bike.

The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero's sendoff can't wipe the smile off your face.

You'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?

You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.

By now it'll be hot. You'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. Not today.

You'll grind the false flats to the climb. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter.


You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back - you'll see people running out. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise
will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're back, with only 26.2 miles to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You'll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change. You'll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer - the one that counts.

You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year long.

That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good.

That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You'll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last.

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't sit down - don't EVER sit down.

You'll make it to the halfway point. You'll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don't. You're headed in - they're not. They want to be
where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You'll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.

You'll soon only have a few miles to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you…and puts a medal over your head... all you have to do is get there.

You'll start to hear the people in town. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, and when you left on the run, and now when you've come back.

You'll enter town. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.

You'll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it.

You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. You won't know how, but you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps.

Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you.

They'll say your name.
You'll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You'll break the tape at the finish line, 140.6 miles after starting your journey. The flash will go off.

You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and suddenly...be capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you.
You'll lean into them.

It will suddenly hit you.


You are ready.

Monday, April 7, 2008

PSA: Come prepared

The weather for the race this weekend will be around 90 degrees. Expect single digit humidity and no clouds. If your spectating or know someone who is please make sure you/they are prepared by following some simple rules.
  1. Sunscreen. In Arizona you can get sunburned in the shade from UV radiation so make sure people where AT LEAST 30 SPF. This is not the day for getting a tan. Apply specifically to forearms, legs, face and back of neck. Don't underestimate the power of an umbrella.
  2. Water/ Food. Buy a gallon for each adult. Drink often. Spectators usually stand in the same spot for longer than half an hour, to do so without hydration is tempting a bad fate. Don't be in a position of looking for water. If your not traveling the course, have some food in a cooler or that won't melt in a car. Sandwiches, chips, fruit. Heat and boredom will make you hungry.
  3. Hat, chapstick. If a lady has a wide brimmed hat then bring it. But everyone should try to keep the sun out of the eyes and top of head. A scalp can still get a nasty burn with a full head of hair. With the lack of humidity its a good idea to have something for your lips to keep them moist.
  4. Shade and sitting. Seek shade where you can and use it. Also if you have a folding chair or camp chair use it if your spectating by car or not walking far. Again you may think an umbrella is funny, but you'll wish had one at one point.
  5. Location, Location, Location. I will say right now the start for IMAZ is maybe the most beautiful you will find in Ironman. At 7am the sun is just up and still golden. The swimmers go into the sun and the water is shimmering.
    1. Being in the expo area and watching the swim start from the Mill Ave bridge is amazing but there will be around 8,000 people there with you. Plan to cheer people out and then get a good spot to watch the exit from T1 on the bike. That can fill a whole morning with very little walking for people.
    2. A good alternative for late arrivals or people wishing to miss the send off crowds at the expo should park at the Starbucks or a close location to Scottsdale Road's bridge and walk to the middle on the east side. Swimmers go under the bridge here, traverse the buoys and head back. There is almost zero people cheering from this spot and if the swimmer knows people will be there on the bridge it will be very easy to give them a shout out from the water two times. (Hint-tell your spectators about any identifier you'll have in the water: a color logo on the top of the swim cap helps (i.e. a M-Dot, flag, personal logo) or if your suit has any colored accents like pink or green. The buoys are a couple hundred yards past the bridge so a swimmer can be watched for several minutes and people can look directly on top of big groups.
    3. There are several turns on main roads leading out to the bee-line for the bike. A lot of people will stage at McDowell and Country Club, which is where riders enter and exit the bee line, its about half way on the course from either direction. There is a gas station on one corner with a bathroom and with a map if pretty easy to get in and out of the area avoiding closed roads. Middle of the day is the hottest with the least amount of people at the expo but pro's will be back by just after 12pm.
    4. On the run course, parking is hard to find, as it is mostly around the expo and in Tempe. For people with the energy or ability research a parking spot near an Aid Station and walk to that. Along the north side of the lake, there is only parking along the Mill Ave Bridge/ Curry Road area. Not as many spectators in this area but good shade and some restrooms in the marina area. There is a park with a bathroom on Curry Road where an Aid Station will be and a hill that a racer might walk up if tired. A good place to rest and watch. Also easy to get in and out of with a map and there are parking option.
There is lots of food along Mill Ave in Tempe. Grilled Expedition and the Bamboo Club are my favorites but for faster fare look up Slices Pizza, plus a dozens of other good spots. On Scottsdale Road is an In & Out burger and a Starbucks. Monti's is right across from the finish line and is a great place to get out of the sun at the expo. On Priest and Curry, just off the run course is a Starbucks, Pier 47 pizza and Moe's southwest grill. I love this place, fast and big burritos and taco's and will be easy to get to by car and roads. The menu names are worth the visit.

Have fun and remind people to cheer for anyone they see in a bright orange tri top that says AZTRICLUB. There will be at least six of us and were easy to spot from a long way off.

The Weird Week

The week immediately before IM is always a weird one. Taper doesn't just mess with me but with Mistress. No more 6 hour rides, no more 3 hour runs. This means more time at home and THAT means learning to live in the home that Mistress makes. She actually likes that I am gone long enough to let her get stuff done and to blow out my hyperactivity.

Sunday morning I was home at 8:37am. Pretty rare. My 90 minute ride was scheduled for 10am. I looked at my watch and said, "If I have a perfect race, I'll be coming out of the water right now." Mistress responded, "It doesn't take any more time to have a great race than a good race. So have a great race."

Ah, crap. I can't handle that kind of mind blower right now.

On the flip side its much different mentally for me than it was a few year ago when I almost drown in Canyon Lake. Its a good way for me to self check against where I was. One year later I swam a hard Ironman Florida course with 4' high swells in 1:54, then a 1:44 at Arizona with a viral infection in my lungs. To even consider a IM swim in the 90's blows my mind.

Here is praying for a great race.

Friday, April 4, 2008

...and exhale

Not just with this race coming up but just my whole life in general has been under some tremendous stress since New Years. Had this been my first IM, I don't think I could have done it. As it is, I cracked a couple of times and my stress envelope is pretty big.

Today seems sort of anti-climatic but about 75% of that non-race stress is gone, as of this very hour. Which is a very very good thing.

Who the hell knows the outcome on race day. I've prayed and trained and worried. Its all over but the physical action now. I know the wind will blow hard on the bee line. I know its counter-intuative to look forward to a marathon just so I can finish a 112 mile bike. But today, right now, I feel some peace.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I came home tired last night to an exaggerated Mighty Mo proclaiming loudly in the kitchen to Mistress and the dog that at school, "Pokie Bugs are dying and we have to build hospitals to save them!" By the obvious look on the dog and the mom, this 5 year old (on April 24th) had been on his soap box for quite some time on the issue. Quite literally since he has a step-up box to reach the counter.

I scooped him up for his shower and he went at it with me, pledging all the money from his piggy bank and all the loose change on the counter tops. He reminded me that, "A Mann protects the weak." (part of his prayers)

From my questions I have found out that Pokie Bugs are:
  • Not class pets
  • They are outside by the fence on the playground
  • They are dying!!!!!!
  • When they die they become bones and skin
  • Mistress and I absolute had to to stop their dying by building Pokie Bug hospitals.
Mistress called me this morning to let me know she has witnessed the graveyard of Pokie Bugs. They are not really bugs, their some kind of weed and as the weather heats up they are releasing their spores, turning brown and dying. The husk and stalk are the skin and bones.

Mistress took the opportunity to tell him that they are not bugs but plants and when they die they are sending seeds to grow somewhere else. This seems to have made him feel better now that he can use his money for toys and not hospitals.

No son you don't have to use your money for building hospitals, mommy and daddy are doing that for you already. You just keep that imagination going and keep your nose to the bugs.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rocket Fuel

I sat in a meeting today for nine hours. Long meeting. I am one of the very few people who brings a laptop and I am able to work on spreadsheets and other important work during that time. As it began to wind down in the final half hour and 50 people started getting punchy, I began closing down my open files. The final one, a .pdf , had been up all day and I hadn't even looked at it. As I called it up I saw the front page of my Ironman Athlete Packet that I'd downloaded last night.


Scanning the document, page by page my excitement began to bubble over. Words like 'Gear Bags', 'Special Needs', 'Check In Times', even 'Rules and Regulations', flashed in my eyes. I remembered to find my race number online. 854. All my Ironmans have been three digit numbers. I began to mentally go through my checklist:

Slow down.
Don't eat or do anything I haven't done in that last three weeks.
Meditate on my race day, go through every process in detail.
What is my race morning rituals.
What is the right mix of calories on the bike.
How will I eat on the run.
What did not work last time.
What did work last time.
Balance: work, rest and friends.
Don't sabotage yourself.
I've come so far, don't stop believing.
It's only 2.4 miles, 112 miles and a marathon.
Its a not a dream, its my reality.
I am ready.
I am ready.
I am.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Calling all comers...

Ironman is only one day, seventeen hours to be precise, less if your lucky.

But for those of us that are part of the blogesphere and specifically the Tri-Blog Alliance, the party is just getting started for Ironman Arizona just shy of two weeks away. So I want to make sure as sort of the Blog Ambassador for Phoenix that I get an accurate head count of people racing or spectating.

Duane will be coming in to watch the race. He is staying at Andy's who is throwing a ribald baccus on the Friday before the Sunday race. Last time I saw Duane he was the Most Inspirational person on the course during Soma last October.

TBC and Megan. TBC is coming to watch Megan's first IM and show her all the places he got fired from and bars he got kicked out of. I've never met Megan but she deals with Cheese so shes got a high tolerance for pain and poo jokes. TBC and I are pretty frequent acquaintances, the last we saw each other was earlier this year, he was trying to get me drunk at an airport. He did a fairly good job too, except I still wouldn't go into the bathroom with him, "to hold his bag."

I must profess that my three closest blogging buddy's will all be in town. IronBenny, Nytro and Bolder. No offense to anyone else but I have spent hours hanging out with, racing with and on the phone with these three people and we all live in different states. I can absolutely say that each of them has profoundly affected my personal life in a positive way, more so than I have ever alluded to on CMS. The way in which we all hope to have relationships with people we have met through the blogs and comment sections. Bolder in particular is coming to support me but get away from the snow, and Nytro is coming to eat my chocolate, drink my booze and report from the field. Benny is racing and if Mighty Mo has anything to do with it, playing dinosaurs.

Stronger. I have poured so much of my spiritual thought into her and her family over the last couple years. Meeting her for the first time last Fall, it made me tear up a bit. Yeah I can be emotional like that. I wished I could have spent more time with her then and now but our kids will be able to play together and that couldn't make me happier.

Anyone that I have missed, and I know there are, please let me know. I am sure there is a bunch of New Mexico Outlaws coming to town and of course a dozen AZTRICLUB members who are racing at Ironman. I have been quite myopic lately and would like to find a way to meet everyone I can. I feel really bad that year I was so sick I never got to met Wendy Buckner and only fleetingly saw Brent who is just the nicest guy.