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Stats:

  • Age: 41
  • Weight: ~191 lbs
  • FTP: 280
  • VDOT: No clue (keep reading)

Short Version:

PR of 1 minute 57 seconds (over 2014 Austin 70.3)

Summary Image

Long Version:

Training:

The 2015 Texas 70.3 was my first race of the year. 2014 ended with a fizzle as I started dealing with pretty severe cramping in my right calf as I was training for the Dallas Marathon which is held annually in December. The calf cramping started popping up in mid-November and quickly became so bad that I had to abandon any hope of running the race. I basically took the rest of November – January off. I worked out very sporadically – an occasional bike ride but that was about it.

Thinking I’d given it enough rest I started working my way back into shape in early February and officially signed up for this race at the end February. I discovered pretty quickly that my calf cramping had not gone away & in fact, started rearing its ugly head around mile 3 of any run I attempted. The cycle would go like this: (1) I would go out for a run to test the calf (2) Around mile 3 it would start to cramp and leave me gimping home (3) I would rest it (i.e. not run) for a week to 10 days or longer (4) I would go out for a run to test the calf (5) Around mile 3 it would start to cramp and leave me gimping home (6) Lather, rinse, repeat.

I started seeing my awesome, amazing ART doc (shout out to Chelsea & the staff Chirosport Specialists of Dallas) 2x per week for the final 3-4 weeks leading up to the race and she worked on getting my hips aligned & my calf worked out. I’ve worked with these guys on and off for years and have been very pleased with the results. Hoping it would get better with rest & ART I also resigned myself to the fact that running was not going to be helpful, except for a few short 2 mile runs, all I could do was rest from running and hope my fitness would carry me through on race day.

Here is what my training looked like for the 8 weeks leading up to the race (this starts 9 weeks out from race day because I’m not looking at race week / taper week). The glaring hole in my training is that in the 9 weeks leading up to the race I ran 4 times for a cumulative distance of 11.24 miles.

Training Summary Image

Race Weekend:

This race is on a Sunday so Missy & I decided to make a long weekend out of it. We hit VRBO and rented a nice 3 bedroom condo right at the end of the seawall. We loaded up the swagger wagon & headed for Galveston on Friday morning. Around 3:30 we pulled into our condo. We stayed away from the race venue on Friday and just spent the afternoon getting settled and relaxing.Condo

Got up Saturday morning to severe thunder, lightning & rain. It was off and on into the early afternoon & around 2 p.m. it cleared out and left us with an absolutely beautiful rest of the day. We hit up Ironman Village and get registered – we got there around 11:00 a.m. and moved through pretty quickly. No real lines to speak of. I dropped the family off at the condo and went off to meet some of my teammates for lunch at The Mosquito Café (which was a great spot – highly recommend it). Had a great lunch getting to eat with other folks from Endurance Nation. It was fun to laugh, share stories & get ready for the next day.

Following lunch I drove back up to the race venue to drop my bike off in transition. At this point the line for athlete registration was crazy long (note – get in early and get that knocked out). Perhaps the greatest benefit of being one of Ironman’s 2014 All World Athletes was the really great rack spot. I was bib number 225 and that put me right across from the pros spot. I had a perfect spot right in the middle of bike out and run out – in the second rack back. That’s so much better than being buried in the middle of three thousand bikes!

Family Pic 1Once that was done I headed back to the condo and laid low with the family. I got my transition bag all set & for dinner I had some pasta with red sauce & grilled chicken breast. I jumped into bed at 9:44 p.m.

Race Day:

My alarm was set for 4 a.m. but I woke up at 3:38 a.m. feeling ready to go. Go up and had my usual race morning breakfast of three cups of organic applesauce with two scoops of vanilla protein powder. Took in about 20 ounces of the G2 Gatorade that we’d be having on the course. We headed out the door at 5 a.m. & were pulling into the race venue about 10 minutes later.

My big surprise came as I was starting to set up my gear in transition. I heard them announce that the race would be a wetsuit optional race. Though I’d known the water temps were on the warm side I felt confident that all the rain we got on Saturday would have cooled it off enough to keep it a wetsuit race. Apparently not. This was a bit of a shock to me because I never, for a second assumed otherwise. My three previous 70.3 distance races & my one full Ironman were all wetsuit races. We had the option of wearing a wetsuit but that would mean two things; (1) you wouldn’t be counted in the age group awards & though I had no intention of hitting the podium I still wanted to see where I fit & (2) if you elected to wear a wetsuit you would start in the dreaded final swim wave. There wasn’t really a decision to be made for me – I would go without my wetsuit. But that did throw me off a bit.

Swim:

Goal: < 32:00

Actual: 36:19

AG Place: 47 / 327

Garmin File – https://connect.garmin.com/activity/759573200

The pros went off at 7:00 a.m. The male 40-44 age group was split into three swim waves and I was in the second wave that went off at 7:28 a.m. I’ve been consistently in the top 10% or so of my AG so I positioned myself at the fronSwim Imaget of the wave pretty much dead center. My goal was to get a good, strong start and try to create some space.

Swim ExitHonestly, I’m not exactly sure what happened on this swim. I’ve got no real reason for why my time was so slow. I felt like I swam pretty strong…felt like my form was mostly in check…felt like I sighted okay, but man – 36 minutes was disappointing (this was my slowest 70.3 race swim). Yes, I’m sure having a wetsuit would have made me faster but in my three swim race rehearsals (done without a wetsuit) I was consistently in the 31 – 33 minute range. Maybe the current was stronger than it felt. I’m just not sure. I came out of the water feeling whipped but hustled my way out and started up towards transition.

T1:

Goal: < 2:30

Actual: 2:21

I am really pleased with my transitions. I hustled, but never felt out of control or lost. I got to my rack spot put my sunglasses on, then my helmet, wiped my feet off and got my shoes on, grabbed the bike and was off. I’d love to continue to learn to shave time off here but overall I felt really good with how quickly I was on the bike.

Bike:

Goal: IF of 0.83-0.85 (232W – 238W) with a VI of 1.05 or less (time & speed would take care of themselves)

Actual: IF of 0.80; VI of 1.01 (AP 222W, NP 226W); Time of 2:22:38; Average speed 23.6 mph

AG Place: 36 / 327

Garmin File – https://connect.garmin.com/activity/759573891

Let me start by saying:

  • This might have been the most fun I’ve had on a bike…everBike Map Image
  • This bike course is ridiculously simple – pancake flat & with the exception of 3 miles or so getting out of the neighborhood it is straight as an arrow. Twenty eight miles out and twenty eight back.
  • The weather on this day was perfect for biking. With the exception of a few miles at the turn around (miles 28-30ish) there was virtually no wind to mess with (which is unheard of for a road that borders the Gulf of Mexico the entire stretch), there was total cloud coverage & for about 45 minutes to an hour there was a very light rain to keep things cool. It was perfect.Bike Summary
  • There was nothing in any of my training that would suggest a 2:22:38 bike split was even a remote possibility for me. 23.6 mph hour? Are you kidding me?

This bike was just one of those rare instances where all the uncontrollable variables line up perfectly and when they did it made for a super-fast bike course. You’ll even notice that I rode under my watt goal – partially because I was a bit nervous about how easy the bike was and how fast I was moving & because I kept reminding myself that I had to run 13.1 miles – which was more than I’d run all together in the previous 9 weeks.

Bike 1In terms of execution I stayed aero for 95%+ of the bike. Knowing it was going to be humid I stayed on my fluids & ended up peeing three – four times on the bike. One last minute change I did make was that I decided to double my salt tab intake. I typically take one salt tab per hour to help augment the sodium I’m getting from my fluids & from my GU (with the goal of getting ~1000 mg of sodium per hour) – but I decided the day before to double that (reasoning: at lunch the day before I was talking with one of my teammates, Jimmy, from Endurance Nation & he noted that his supplemental sodium intake was two tabs per hour. It got me wonBike 2dering if my cramping might be held off longer if I increased my sodium intake. And at 190lbs I’m a bigger guy out there and I’m sweating more than most of the smaller fellas. And I also reasoned, since this was a B race for me that I would be fine experimenting a bit.) I don’t typically recommend jacking with your plan the day before a race but I felt that this race was going to be a crapshoot because of my calf cramping so I figured, “what the heck!”

I rolled into T2 a bit in shock at the bike split but feeling really good, very hydrated and ready to see what the run held for me.

T2:

Goal: < 2:00

Actual: 1:28

Hopped off my bike and ran hard to my awesome rack spot. Off with my bike shoes & helmet.  Sat down, put my socks on (I had put a bunch of Vaseline on the inside around the toe area) & shoes, grabbed my ziplock bag which contained my race belt, my visor, a zip lock bag of salt tabs & a few Gus and then I made a bee line for the run out exit. Just like T1 I feel really good about this transition – sub 1:30 feels pretty darn quick and efficient.

Run:

Goal: Not to die & to hold off the cramping as long as possible

Actual: 2:05:52 (9:43 pr/mile)

AG Place: 70 / 327

Garmin File – https://connect.garmin.com/activity/759574232

Run MapMy overarching race strategy was to execute well on the swim & the bike, to hustle through transitions and then hold on for dear life on the run. Now was the time to see if /when my body would implode. This run course is very technical – it’s a three loop course with LOTS of turns and turn-arounds.

Mentally, I was in a good spot. Before the race even started I’d come to terms with a few bits of reality:

  • I had no business expecting anything other than suffering on the run
  • I had no business expecting a sub-2 hour half marathon
  • I had no business expecting that my calf would hold up – it wasn’t an issue of if it would cramp up, but when it would cramp up.

With those three things firmly imbedded in my brain I set off on lap one and the slow de-evolution of David began. The first On the Runlap (4 miles & some change) felt hard but overall okay. My legs were not used to the pounding & I could tell that I was beginning to get a blister on the bottom of my right foot. Because there were so many turns throughout the course the blister quickly went from uncomfortable to downright painful.

I took salt tabs 2-3 times per hour; stayed on top of my fluids as best I could and threw ice down my shorts to try and keep my core temperature down. I think I had three GUs during the run…or maybe it was two. With every mile (except mile 7) I slowed down a bit. Each one got harder. Each one hurt worse. Run Summary

Because it was three loops I got to see my family a bunch on the run course & that’s always an encouragement – with their bright orange shirts they are super easy to spot! About half way through the run my 12 year jogged beside me and asked how my calf was feeling. I told him that it felt fine but every other part ofFinish Line my body was in pain. It was getting progressively warmer, the cloud coverage was less and the humidity was awful. And that would be the story for the entirety of the run – with each mile the suffering increased. But amazingly, no calf cramping…a ton of hurt in every other part of my body, yes…but no calf cramping. Other than walking the aid stations (which is part of my race day plan) I somehow managed to run the rest of the race.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 5:08:44 – thanks to a ridiculous bike split & in spite of a sub-par swim and a disastrous run it was good enough for about a 2 minute PR.

Just finishedWith my small PR in hand I sat down to assess the damage to my body. Blistered…chaffed…quads on fire…hips in pain…mind fried. I was a mess…but I was finished and I felt good about my effort and my overall execution.

Final Thoughts:

Race Selection:  This was a fun race & WTC did a nice job putting it on. As usual there were great volunteers throughout and good on course support from local authorities. The bike course is in great shape and smooth (unlike Austin’s awful bike course). The run course as I mentioned, was filled with turns which I wasn’t a big fan of. I really, really like the single transition (Austin & Oceanside both have separate transitions for swim to bike & for bike to run, which makes race morning just that much more complex – and I’m a big fan of simplicity on race day). This ended up being a fast race with a very competitive male 40-44 age group. My 5:08:44 was only good enough to get me 70th in my age group (compare that with Austin 2014 where a 5:10 got me 20th place in my age group). I can say without hesitation that this is a race I’d consider doing again.

Post Race Food: Cold pizza (bonus because it was Pappa Johns), chips, pretzels and chocolate chip cookies (though they appeared to have run out of the cookies right after I got to the Athlete Food Tent). There was water & soda; but oddly no beer or chocolate milk – which I feel like are mainstays at the races I’ve been at.

Swag: The swag was okay, but not great. I still believe the drawstring bag that Ironman provided in 2013 is a far better quality bag…in fact, I still use it daily to hold my iPad, Bible and other stuff I lug to the office each morning. The ones from 2014 were really cheap & the one for this year feels like it’s pretty poor quality.  The tech t-shirt for the men is grey with an okay logo. Honestly, I’ve got so many tech t-shirts that what I personally would prefer is a really well designed cotton t-shirt that I can wear with jeans or shorts.

Condo: We rented a condo at the Diamond Beach Residences through VRBO. Our particular unit was a three bedroom and it worked out wonderfully me, my wife & my six kiddos. They have a huge, long, windy lazy river with a small slide attached to it. An enormous multi-level outdoor pool.  An indoor pool. A game room with free play video games & pinball machines.  There is a really nice media room that you can reserve. We go the 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. slot on Sunday night and watched Toy Story 3 with a wonderful family with small kids that we met. They were in town for the race as well.  They have a nice fitness center that my bride took advantage of as well. It is located about 10 minutes from Moody Gardens so getting back and forth was super easy. This ended up being a great solution for our family and I highly recommend it.

Post Race Recovery: I’ve been told by those who have been doing Ironman races for a long time that the higher intensity of the half Ironman produces more pain on the body than the longer, lower intensity full Ironman race. With only four half Ironman races and one full Ironman race under my belt I’m not sure I’m qualified to agree or disagree with that.  But one thing I can tell you for sure – when you only run 11 miles in the 9 weeks leading up to a half Ironman and you run the 13.1 miles during the race you will; make no mistake about it; suffer for days afterward.  My quads, my hips, my glutes have been so very fried…much more than my other 70.3 distance races. I’m writing this on the Wednesday after the race and I am still in significant pain. I was able to get into see my amazing ART doc – Chelsea over at Chirosport Specialists of Dallas and then spent a few minutes in their cryo chamber to help accelerate my recovery. But there’s only so much one can expect when your body isn’t ready for the pounding that running puts on your joints & muscles.

Family Pic 3_Post Race

Done

Post Race Collapse

Family Pic 3_Post Race Dinner

Post Race Cryo

Proverbs 26:12 – “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Ten of the first eleven verses in chapter 26 talk about the danger of dealing with a fool. We are reminded that:

  • that honor is not fitting for a fool (vs. 1)
  • that a fool’s life will be marked by discipline because they won’t respond to common sense (vs. 3)
  • that sometimes it’s wise to answer a fool…and other times it’s not (vs. 4-5)
  • that fools are not reliable (vs. 6)
  • that fools are not teachable (vs. 7 & 9)
  • that giving honor to a fool is counter-productive (vs. 8)
  • that fools will set you back in your tasks/work (vs. 10)
  • that fools don’t learn from their mistakes (vs. 11).

After you get through the first part of this chapter we should be thinking something along the lines of, “sounds like being a fool is the worst thing I can be! I better effort to not be that guy.” And then you read verse 12 and we learn that being a fool is actually NOT the worst thing.

What’s worse than being a fool?

The answer: being wise in our own eyes.

Pride. Being a know it all. Arrogance. Walking into a room, assuming and treating others like you are the smartest person there. Believing that no one can offer you any bit of wisdom because you serve as the fountain of all knowledge and intellect. Looking down on everyone else and refusing to entertain the notion that you might need others.

  • It’s walking into the church service, seeing someone other than your favorite pastor teaching and thinking “oh man…I should have stayed home.”
  • It’s jumping in with your community group and thinking that no one else can give you counsel that you haven’t already heard.
  • It’s being a newlywed and holding on tight to the notion that “no one has ever been in love like we have” so we don’t need to worry about all that conflict resolution stuff.
  • It’s believing that you’re so terminally unique that no one will understand your struggle with _______.
  • It’s refusing to admit you messed up, say your sorry and seek forgiveness.
  • It’s failing to acknowledge that God uses the weak things of the world to shame the strong (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:27)
  • It’s being unwilling to come to terms with the reality that you can do nothing to earn your salvation and that you need a Savior (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9)

This proverb placed strategically on the heels of the previous eleven verses can be, if we let it, a great reminder that we need others to sharpen our thinking, to speak truth into our life and to remember that life experiences are fairly narrow and there are other perspectives that can help keep us from making a mess of ourselves.

Proverbs 26

Proverbs 12:24 – “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.”


Diligence is doing the little things right…consistently over time as measured in months and years. Generally speaking, diligence pays off. Work hard…be faithful…do the little things right & over time things will go well with you. Not always…but often.  On the contrary, the lazy, unmotivated and slack individual will generally discover that their opportunity for influence and growth is frustrated. 


This feels like common sense but I’ve seen folks regularly discouraged (myself included) when this actually plays itself out in life. We look for the quick fix and are bitterly disappointed when our efforts are not immediately rewarded. Diligence is a long term process…and for most things long term is not defined in weeks. And living in world where “instant gratification” is echoed from just about every media outlet it’s helpful to step back and reframe our perspective.


For many of us “ruling” might look like:
> turning our marriage around
> learning to connect with our kid(s)
> being able to recall Bible verses from memory
> freeing ourselves from our addictions (alcohol, pornography, gluttony, etc…)
> taking on additional responsibility at work
> taking back our physical health
> becoming a single digit handicap in golf
> going sub 5 hours in a half Ironman (okay…that one is for me!)


There is no magic formula in life. To move the needle in these areas will take diligence (hard work, consistently, over time), accountability (support, encouragement, exhortation) and grace (taking the long term view, realizing that starts and stops on this journey are normal).
Proverbs 10:19 – “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” 


This is one of those proverbs that doesn’t require much interpretation. I don’t need to know Hebrew to unpack this saying. I don’t need a seminary degree to figure out what the writer is trying to communicate.  It’s laid out nice and clean.  The takeaway – I probably talk too much.


The quickest way to reduce the frequency with which I have to say “I’m sorry” is to reduce the frequency of my words. The greatest source of my relational frustration comes from my tongue. My snarky comments. My sarcastic tones. My mean-spirited words. My inappropriate jokes. My rage-filled rants. And on and on and on.


If you & I are looking for a quick way to take ground in our relationships with friends, family, co-workers, etc… we should try talking less and listening more.  But don’t forget – and this is important to remember that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b) or put another way “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart” (Matthew 15:18). 
 
My problem with my tongue is not really a problem with my tongue. It’s a problem with my heart. The tongue is merely the microphone that amplifies what’s in my heart. Angry words come from an angry heart. Sarcastic words come from a sarcastic heart. Perverse words come from a perverse heart.


So, as we’re working on talking less let us also acknowledge that talking less doesn’t change the problem. It merely serves as a way to bridle the wild and unruly horse. We don’t need a new tongue. We need a new heart (see also John 3:1-8). We need to ask God to change/renew/reshape our heart so that when we do decide to speak the source of our words is a clean spring that brings forth that which is acceptable and wisdom-filled.


Proverbs 28:1 – “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
 
This is one of my favorite verses. I quote this to my kids (and to myself!) to remind them they there is a way to live life confidently…free from fear.


We all probably know that sick fearful feeling when we’ve done something we know we shouldn’t. The fear of feeling like we’re about to get caught…found out…busted for that thing we’ve done. Just like when you pass a police officer going 85 mph on a freeway that has a 70 mph speed limit. The acid rushes to our stomachs and we start constantly checking the rear view mirror.


This proverbs serves as a wonderful reminder that if we will just live life in accordance with the way the Lord wants us to we can be free from that fear. We can be as “bold as a lion” because our conscience is clear. There is no need to constantly cover our tracks…to walk around wondering if other people will find out what we’ve done.


> Will the IRS audit my taxes and discover how I’ve tried to cheat the system?
> Will my wife find out I’ve been looking at porn?
> Will my employer find out that I’ve been wasting hours each day surfing the internet?
> Will my small group find out that I’ve only been sharing half-truths about my life?


Following God provides freedom. Freedom to live confidently, in the light and securely knowing that there aren’t going to be any “revelations” that will challenge my marriage…my parenting…my employment…my leadership opportunities.


See also Galatians 5:1 – “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Proverbs 26: 27 – “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.”

The law of sowing and reaping is as real as the law of gravity. The writer is not making any moral statements about digging pits or rolling stones. He is simply reminding his readers that there is this thing that exists and is applicable to all mankind in all times in all places. Put simply, you will reap what you sow.

Honestly, this should be intuitive; but unfortunately for many of us, the “reaping” part often comes as a complete surprise. We act bewildered when the fruit of our choices causes us pain. We find ourselves perplexed when the consequences of our decisions lead to hurt and isolation.

  • We watch porn and then feel disconnected from our spouse and complain about how our marriage isn’t what we’d like it to be.
  • We eat way too much of the wrong kind of food and then blame our genes on high blood pressure, sore joints and skyrocketing medical costs.
  • We overspend on our children to compensate for our lack of presence and then become frustrated when their character is more self-centered and entitled than others-focused and grateful.
  • We refuse to live within a budget and then develop ulcers about our ever-growing consumer debt.
  • We podcast & read the “health and wealth preachers” who falsely proclaim that God wants us healthy, wealthy and wise and then become disillusioned and blame God and our “lack of faith” when the reality of life in a fallen world punches us in the nose.

And on and on and on. Sowing and reaping.

See also, Galatians 6:7-8 – “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life

Proverbs 23:19-21 – (19) Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way. (20) Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, (21) for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.

We get to overhear some advice from a father to his son. This father encourages his boy to listen and make the choice to direct his heart. Implied is that his son can choose to ignore and not take to heart the wisdom of his father. So, as we eavesdrop in on this fatherly exhortation we ought to remember that all of us have an opportunity to respond to things we hear – we can consider and ignore if we find the content irrelevant, unwise or not applicable. Or we can consider, take to heart and apply if we find value in the message or if we have a high degree of trust in the messenger.

On this day the father’s advice centers on the company his boy keeps. Be not among drunks or gluttons. You might know them. You might interact with them. You might cross paths with them. You might know their names. You might play sports with them. You might be around them a lot…but being around someone is not the same thing as being among them.

> Be friends with them? Sure.
> Engage them in meaningful conversation? Absolutely.
> Be kind toward them? Without doubt.
> Be ready to step in to help them in a pinch? Yes, of course.

But these guys should not be your closest friends. These are not the folks you invite into your inner circle. These aren’t the men to stand by your side on your wedding day.

Why? Because of the principle (really, the law) of sowing and reaping. The trajectory of the drunkard and the glutton is down and to the right. The outlook isn’t bright. Follow the path of the drunkard and the glutton long enough and it ends in ruin. Yoke yourself to those folks and you may find yourself at the bottom with them. Because the reality is that, more often than not “bad company ruins good morals” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33).

Who you count as your close friends matters. And this father wants to see his boy prosper and not suffer. And this father knows that our inner circle has great influence in our behavior; so it’s best to ensure your inner circle is walking the same path that you are or that you want to be on.

See also, Proverbs 13:20 – “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

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