Monday, December 11, 2006

Student of the Sport

A Triathlon.

Swim
Bike
Run

One day, a few people who were training together, thought that it'd be a good idea to spur a little friendly competition by creating a race where you have to swim, bike and run. So, on 9/25/74, the San Diego Track Club gave birth to the modern day triathlon right here in Mission Bay. They created this event for FUN! 46 athletes competed, and little did anyone know, that San Diego would become a hot bed for triathlon, and that the world was soon to become our race course!

We as humans have this amazing tendency to grow things. To take something and run with it. To dream larger than thought possible. To push the envelope. To put logic and reality out the window in the face of competition.

Enter the Ironman Triathlon.

Swim 2.4 miles
Bike 112 miles
Run 26.2 miles

All in one day. Back to Back to Back.

Why on earth would anyone want to do this?

Enter debate and competition.

Some people on Oahu one day were arguing whether long distance swimmers or long distance runners are more athletically fit. Little did they know that a US Navy Commander was listening and quickly pointed out that cyclists are probably more fit since a Belgium cyclist recently recorded the highest maximum oxygen uptake of any athlete ever measured.

What better way to settle this debate, than create a really long race that includes all 3?!

Waikiki Rough Water Swim: 2.4 miles
Around Oahu Bike Race: 115 miles*
Honolulu Marathon: 26.2 miles
* (later reduced to 112 miles so that the start/finish of the bike was at the start finish for the swim and traditional start of honolulu marathon)

1st year: 15 participants
Winning Time: 11:46:58

2nd year: 50 participants
Winning Time: 11:15:56


Now, we have IM races that sell out (2000 participants) in less than an hour! We have professional triathletes (only a few) that have broke the 8 hour mark.

The word amazing can really be interpreted a number of ways, but there is no doubel that we as humans really are amazing. Can we ever really find "the limit"?


I guess our bike and gear have to progres with us humans!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Max Heart Rate Test



So, today, I performed a max heart test on a (stationary) bike. What is a max heart rate test you ask? It is a predefined plan to get your body warmed up, and with increased workload over time, ideally, your heart rate monitor should yield your max heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is the most your heart can beat in a given minute.

Why would someone do something like this? Surprisingly, it doesn't even have to do with pain that I write about so much (Although, it did hurt!) From your maximum heart rate, you can calculate your heart rate zones: 1-5. Heart rate zones (zone 2 for example is approximately 65%-75% of MAX heart rate) are the foundation of endurance training plans. Most workouts are designed around working in certain zones for the specific workout.

Some workouts are strictly zone 1 and 2 base building/endurance workouts, which build slow twitch muscle fibers. These lower intensity workouts allow your body to adapt to burning fat as an energy source, rather than glycogen (carbohydrates in your muscles), but most importantly to build endurance. Higher intensity workouts are typically in zones 3 and 4, with an occasional 5 to help build strength and fast twitch muscles.

In any endurance event, the idea is keep your heart rate below a certain % of max so you don't burn out! That point is refered to as your anaerobic threshold is the point at which your body cannot remove lactic acid faster than it is creating it. Lactic acid build up in muscles in what you feel when you go to hard to fast, and your muscles just feel dead afterwards!

My max rate was 192 (beats per minute), which seemed a little low, maybe be about 3-5 beats. I can say that towards the latter part of the test, my legs certainly had nothing in them, and the reason is simply the pretty rude ride I did yesterday! Fatigue is a common reason for testing lower than one would expect, so stay tuned for another test in a month or two!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Good Day/Random Thoughts

What a good day.

Get up, see a great sunrise.

Get to our workout location, and hammer out a solid 2 1/2 hour 40 mile bike ride. I was tasked with leading the advanced group. Well, being a mentor, having done this once before, and being asked to lead the advanced group - well, that doesn't mean that I take a leisurely stroll. That means I lead a pack of fast, eager cyclists - some of whom did raced a 5 hour 20 minute 109 mile Tour d'Tuscon ride! Woof, as if to say the ride wasn't tough enough, we finished the ride with going up the INSIDE of Torrey Pines state reserve. Follow up with a 15 transition run. Proceed to pig out on any food placed in front of me!

I came home, and knowing that San Diego was finally getting our first real northwest swell of the season, I of course had to snap a few snaps of the surf!

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I come home, and the Ironman Championship is on NBC. No, not the 17 hour event, but an abbreviated 2 hour version that details the drama and competitiveness of the pro's, the lifelong dreams of average people just to finish this glorious event, and these 4 inspirational stories:

David Rozelle -- While in Iraq, commanding 140 troops of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Captain David Rozelle lost part of his right leg when a landmine exploded under his Humvee. With intensive rehabilitation, as a below-the-knee amputee, Rozelle returned to active duty and an active lifestyle. After completing the 2004 San Diego Triathlon Challenge, he became a mentor in the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound Program and set his sights on the Ford Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.

David Samson – As President of the Florida Marlins Major League Baseball Team, Samson was inspired to complete an Ironman after watching the 1995 Ironman broadcast. His lifelong dream became a reality this year while he raced to raise money for two charities close to his heart, the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Florida Marlins Community Foundation, an organization that promotes educational, athletic, health and community service programs with a particular focus on South Florida’s youth.

Jon Blais Blais completed the 2005 Ford Ironman World Championship despite being diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This year, Blais returned to Kona to celebrate the athletic accomplishments of new supporters of “The War on ALS.”

Sister Madonna Buder – At 76 years of age, Buder holds the title of the oldest female finisher of the Ford Ironman World Championship and also became this year’s last official finisher with a time of 16:59:03. (yes, that's 57 SECONDS before the final cut off time!!)

Rick and Dick Hoyt: One of the most inspiring stories of family, dedication, and surpassing what you thought of human limits of endurance and love: www.teamhoyt.com

I am man enough to admit that I actually did hold back tears on multiple occasions during this broadcast.

Follow up with a great sunset:

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And as I sit here on my couch at 930pm on a saturday, absolutely destroying half of a pint of ben and jerry's coffee heath bar crunch with enormous heath bar chunks, I sit back and realize... life is good :)

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Man, this first month of training, mentor, fundraising has literally turned my life upside down!

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I am starting to get both my speed and endurance back, but let me tell you, after workouts like I did today - I am spent. Like I said before, I am now relegated to the couch on a saturday night eating ice cream and somehow, loving every second of it!

********************************

Someone asked me if I would ever consider doing an Ironman one day. The answer is yes. I am willing to commit to a training plan to get me to finish a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile marathon run. When? Maybe 2008. Why? Many reasons. I'll list a few:

  • As it's told, doing an Ironman pushes you to, and past, what you thought was possible
  • You learn a lot about yourself - I have always thought that being out of your comfort zone or pushing yourself to the limits really shows you a side of yourself you didn't realize existed
  • The Ironman is so much more than a triathlon race. If you look at the bullets above - it is quite obvious
  • People like Jon Blais, Rick and Dick Hoyt have done it - and they have huge physical challenges against themselves
  • It is the ultimate test of triathlon
  • I said last year that I'd never do one
  • A few years ago, I never knew what a triathlon was
  • Because I am holding Jeff Hartnett to doing one with me one day
  • This video:




    and these don't even get into the reasons why I even do what I do...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Revenge against the 5K

I got some somewhat sweet revenge against the notorious 5K from a few weeks back. We did a 3 mile time trial at track last night. My first impression was "Man, run around a track TWELVE times as part of a time trial? Geez" But it honestly wasn't that bad. In fact, I liked it. I quickly got into a nice pace, increased my speed gradually, and finished with a solid 21:45.

I also hit the gym for the first time in 10 months the other day. Needless to say, I am SORE!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Wait, I thought I liked Pain!)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde

So, some of my coworkers recently have checked out my blog after a bout of trash talking, and general inquiry on my training. Both of them were shocked at my latest entries of gut check week and pain. I was also called a masochist (encarta's definition 2 and 4, NOT 1 and 3), and have been asked "where did the old easy going, lovable ryno go, who has now turned into a tri-loving, blog spewing, manic who loves pain and punishment?"

Ladies and Gentlmen - ryno, juice, ryan, denner, tri freak - whatever it is that you call me - still exists!! The problem is, is that I caught this thing called the triathlon bug, and I am totally hooked. I mean really, ALL triathlon really is - is an organized, competitive, expensive, fun version of the things we liked to do when we were KIDS: swim in a pool, chase our friends on the bike, and run around like maniacs. Admit it, whatever your current age is - there is still a part of you that can relate. Throw in a bunch of people you're age who are about the same ability for some friendly competition, the fact that female's in this sport can be down right ruthless, and the fact that older guys just get faster - you have to bring your A game and game face!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

GUT CHECK WEEK - Post #2

Gut Check 1, Ryan 1

1 Mile Run Time Trial

Projected: 6:20
Actual: 6:11

Ah yes, the 1 mile run time trial. The definition of short lasting, but intense pain (see "Pain" a few posts down).

Here is a detailed description of a 1 mile time trial:

4 laps around the track. Run too fast in the beginning, and you blow up halfway through (see 5K below). Don't push it hard enough, and well, that just ain't right. Ideally, you have descending splits. You are going pretty hard every lap, but you always have to leave some in the tank for the 4th lap.

Fast forward to about 4:45 into the run...

You just finish lap 3, and then you realize there is only 400 meters left. You tell yourself to turn it up a little bit. Here we arrive to the classic negotiation of when the 'fire' inside you when it tries to have a conversation with that thing called reality. Reality says "Hey fire, I am already pushing pretty hard here, what else do you want me to do?!." Fire responds with two words: "More. Faster". Reality says "ok, I think I can I deal". Then 200 meters later, you hit the halfway point of the final lap, and the fire smacks reality upside the head and said "Is that all you got?!" Reality, so consumed with what is happening, barely acknowledges the slap.

Then you hit the apex of the final turn, and chaos ensues. All the sudden your heart comes into the negotiation. "Hey! Hello! I'm over here pumping like mad!!! What are you guys doing to me? Hey, Logic, where did you go? I thought you were supposed to be helping me out!! Were you


ever here?" Logic has left the building ladies and gentlemen before the time trial even started. It's now your 'inside' heart versus your 'physical' heart. You are going so hard, you actually almost feel like you are slowing down. Your legs start to feel like they have 20 pound weights on them. You're face looks like you are about to give birth to a small mammal. Your heart feels like it has to supply blood to people on the other side of the earth faster than a concord.

Then all the sudden, you feel it. Pain. Its not like someone punched you in the shoulder. Its not like you stubbed your toe. Its different. All the sudden your entire body, even the hair on the back of your neck hurts. Your lungs tell you that you should be in better shape. Your quads are now completely engulfed by "the fire" and they burn. Your calves feel like the coals in the firepit. You barely notice, and might even acknowledge that it hurts, but you are just thinking about the finish line. You see it. You hear someone counting off the time "6:07, 6:08, 6:09..." You might even process that someone is yelling "c'mon denner!!!"

You cross the finish line, maybe even with a grunt, and you are moving so fast, it takes you 100 ft just to slow to a walking pace. Your heart still pumping through your chest, is actually looking at you square in the eyes saying "thank god that is over!!!". Everyone around you is panting heavily. No one can talk. You bend over and put your hands on your knees to catch your breath. And then, after about 3-4 minutes of walking it off, everyone is smiling, high gives all around, people are laughing.

"Dude, that was awesome... wanna grab a beer?"

Monday, November 27, 2006

GUT CHECK WEEK - Post #1 and GIVING THANKS

One of the many benefits of living in southern california is year round activities, especially on holidays. I ran a 5K (3.1 mile) on thanksgiving morning. I ran it because a few others were doing it, it's a good workout for building speed, pacing yourself, but for me, it was more of a gut check of my running ability. Remember, even though I did one season of triathlon where I do a 10K run after a bike and swim, I did have 7 weeks off.





To a lot of people say 5K's are really easy. I mean, who CAN'T run 3 miles, even at a slow pace. But the 5K is a delicate balance of pushing hard/pushing too hard. My original plan was to start slow at about 8 min/mile, and maybe work down to about a 6-6:30 min mile. But we all know that your master plan gets scraped as soon as anything starts.




Major mistake was to start with Paul Jesse, one of my biggest competitors. We took off at a pretty torrid (for us) pace of about 6:30/6:45, which left me absolutely gassed at mile 2.2. It took me about a mile just recover my breath, and I finally finished at a somewhat respectable 23 minutes 15 seconds (7:31 pace). Ugh.

That old guy in the purple beat me!


Original Goal was 22 minutes-ish (7:11 pace).

Gut Checks: 1 Ryan: 0

NEXT UP: 1 Mile run time trial. Time to beat: 6:22

*****************************************************

It's Thanksgiving weekend! A weekend when we give thanks. We give thanks for the family, friends, health, wealth, and all else we are thankful for.

My roomate Greg and I drove up to Huntington Beach to have dinner with some people we graduated with. In attendance was the man himself, Jeff Hartnett. Jeff made the trip down from Berkeley to visit. But what made it so honorable is Jeff is undergoing his second bout of chemotherapy. A month or so ago, Jeff received the unfortunate news that he relapsed, and that he will undergo another round of chemotherapy, along with radiation, and most likely a bone marrow transplant, with all the procedures lasting until March 2007.

Jeff was and is my main source of inspiration and motivation for continuing with Team In Training to help find a cure for cancer. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, and be thankful for the life and health that you have.

http://jeffhartnett.blogspot.com

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pain

Triathletes are weird people. We like pain. I mean, what kind of normal human being LIKES pain? I can't think of many, or any at all. I am not talking about the pain of a muscle cramp, or a sports injury like a muscle pull, or something worse. I'm talking about a tough workout. One that is not done at a leasurely pace, or just a spin around the block.




Not only do we like it, but we go searching for it, like we can go to the nearest store or street corner and get some. "Excuse me sir, where can I get some pain" "It's 2 aisles down, and we are having a sale - it's free! Don't worry, there is plenty over there too!" "Woohoo!"

I talked to my first mentee last night, and was telling her about the rigors of training. She comes from an athletic background, field hockey in college to be more specific, which is no easy sport. As we were talking, she said the words I was shocked, but, for some odd reason, I was excited to hear:


Colleen: "Yeah, I like pain"
Ryan: "Wait, did you just say you like pain?"
Colleen: "Yeah, I dont do field hockey anymore, and I miss the pain! I miss the practices, and the games"
Ryan: "Colleen, I am gonna go out on a limb here and say you are really going to like triathlon and training. I like pain too, and thats one of the reasons why I stuck on the sport!!!"
Colleen: "haha! That's awesome! I can't wait!"


Someone once said "Pain is just weakness leaving the body".

To an extent, that is certainly true. For anyone who has been in good physical shape, stopped, and tried to get back into it - it is hard!!! (We wont talk about the very lazy/lackluster of a 6 week "off season" that I just experienced :) Doing a workout that hurts makes you stronger. Take a torrey pines hill repeat workout for example. Geeze, no ones like climbing that hill. But to do repeats up it? Ouch. So you do them, and then you finish. You say it was tough, but you're really glad you did it. Then you do a hilly bike ride next week, and you say "bring it on! I'm not scared of hills!". It is now where you can realize that weakness has left the body.

Then you realize that the hilly ride you just did on Scripps Poway Parkway wasn't that hard. And then all of the sudden, it hits you: "I like pain".



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That arrow is for the weak to turn around.

Monday, October 30, 2006

THE IRONMAN

The Ironman. Most people know the ironman is some type of race, maybe a triathlon, somewhere in Hawai`i. An Ironman is a triathlon, and is 140.6 miles: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile marathon, and there are numerous races all over the world. THE IRONMAN, takes place on the big island of Hawaii (yes, the same island we will race on), starting in Kona, going up to Hawi on the bike, and returning to Kona for the marathon.


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Saturday, October 21th, The Ironman Championship in Kona, HI. It's not broadcasted over TV, but it is broadcasted over the internet.

Saturday, October 21th. I need one of those "do nothing days". Total veg out on the couch, don't leave the apartment, epitomy of laziness. After a doing triathlons, you tend to appreciate free time, and off days.

Saturday, October 21th. "Put 2 and 2 together".


I had the Ironman on for 9 hours and 45 minutes, and probably watched it 85% of the time. I am sure you are wondering how I didn't get bored. 95% of the time, I wasn't in bored. Even though there was endless analysis and predictions, I was simply in awe of these competitors. The speed and endurance of these human beings is simply amazing. The guy that won AVERAGED 25 mph for the entire bike course. AND THEN ran a 2:53 MARATHON. To put it in perspective, I avg'd 19.5 mph last year at lavaman on a 25 mile section. I ran a 50 minute 10K (6.2 mile) run.

Normann "The Normannator" Stadler of Germany took 1st place in the race, setting the tone with a new ironman bike course record of 4:18, and held off a charging Chris McCormick of Australia on the marathon for the win. San Diego local and australian native Michellie Jones took #1 for the women.

The crazy part of this race, is that made it look SO EASY!!!!

Talk about attention to detail. Norman brought his custom painted bike to Kona, and had matching everything.


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Jones also sported an awesome look:

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Ok, I am a total tri geek.

Also, one of my lavaman teammates, Trevor King, was one of the lucky participants in the race!!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lavaman - Part Deux

Well, here I am, back at it again for another season of training for the Lavaman triathlon! In an attempt to spruce things up a little bit, I will be a mentor this season for all the “newbies”. A mentor is someone who helps the team meet it’s fundraising and training goals. Whether that’s planning a fundraising event with someone, or helping someone climb that last tough hill, I will be with my new teammates every step of the way. Somewhere along the way, I will try to get in my training to bring my Lavaman time down into the sub 2:30 range (2:37:22 was my time last year) too.

If we haven’t talked much over the past few months, it’s safe to say that I have totally caught the triathlon bug. Since Lavaman, I have competed in 3 different Olympic distance events. My favorite one since Lavaman was the triathlon at Pacific Grove in Monterey, CA. Here are the highlights:

* “PacGrove” is another huge TNT event, so I was racing with a lot of friends from lavaman, and my girlfriend, who did a great job in her first tri!
* The conditions couldn’t have been any different from lavaman: 58 degree, kelp filled water, and at the end of the first loop of the swim, you had to get out of the water, run up the beach, around a rock, and back into the water.



This compared to 80 degrees of clear water swimming above sea turtles and tropical fish.
* Air temp at Pac Grove was not much more than the water. After 25 miles on the bike, I had just about no feeling in my right foot!
* My buddy Dan, his girlfriend Arlene, and most notably Jeff Hartnett competed in the triathlon as a relay team! Jeff was less than 3 months removed from chemotherapy for Lymphoma, and tackled the bike leg like he hadn’t missed a step.
* I actually drove to Monterey and back, mainly for the drive home: Route 1S, the pacific coast highway, from Monterey to Santa Barbara. This is a drive everyone should do in their life.


Some of other cool things since Lavaman:
* I got a new bike! Cervelo Dual.

Studies have shown that yellow bikes can take minutes off one’s bike and run times in triathlons :)
* Michellie Jones, 2006 Ironman Woman’s
drafted off me on a bike ride on San Diego’s famous coastal ride through Carlsbad. I will take that as a compliment anytime!
* I did the Iron Mountain Brick 4 times this summer. The Iron Mountain brick is a workout that is harder than any triathlon done to I have done to date, with nearly 2500 ft of climbing on the bike, and 1000 ft of climbing during the run.

The summer was spent logging lots of miles in the ocean, on the saddle, and putting one foot in front of the other. It was an incredible season that flew by incredibly quick!

The first week after Pac grove, my last race of the season, was spent almost confused. I had all this free time now! Instead of doing workouts after work, I actually had the ability to go home and…. watch TV. It was a very foreign concept I must say. But, I finally found something more worthwhile and pursue my interest in photography. I plan on creating a photo show documenting our Lavaman Training season!


Thanks for reading everyone, and make sure to stop by often to check on my progress!




Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The week afterwards...

So, now that I was done with this great event, I strategically took off the next week from work to enjoy my first time in Hawai`i. After speaking with numerous people, it sounded like the best thing to do was to stay on the big island the entire time, rather than spend 3 days on one island, and 3 on another. I didn't care - it was Hawai`i, and I was bound to have a great time anyways!

Monday - I spent with Trevor, David and Christina and some other teammates, and we went on this seaquest tour. It basically was a boat tour of the south west coast, and Kealakekua Bay (K-Bay). The water here was unbelieveably clear. It could be up to 30 feet deep, and you could still see the bottom of the ocean. We spent the next 4 hours snorkeling at various spots, getting history lessons on ancient hawai`in kings, gods, and learning about what makes the big island so different than the other islands. (ex. Kaua`i is 6 million years old, whereas the big island is only 700,000 years old. It is also uncommericialized too, but unfortunately, it does have 2 wal marts and a costco on the island). We spent the rest of the afternoon in Kona, checking out some shops, and the ironman championship course. Later that night, I finally learned how to play Texas Hold 'em. I did win 2 out of 5 hands, which everyone attributed to beginner's luck, but I think otherwise.


Tuesday - Chill at the hotel under the sun, play volleyball, catch rays, and consume large amounts of food. Later that day, I was challenged to go for a 5 mile run, but not wanting to step down from a challenge, I upped it to a 4 mile run, 1/3 mile swim, and 2 mile run. Of course, the challenge was met.



Wednesday - Homa (the smartest person I have ever met) and I went up to Waipi`o valley to check out the natural beauty of the island. After 4 wheelin' through some rivers (to the point where we could hear the exhaust system fill up), we came across this beach that had a beautiful waterfall of a couple hundred feet. This was me at 2:30pm.




we decided we had enough of beaches, so we decided to check out something unexpected. This was me, 2 hours later.


Yes, that is me, in a bathing suit, in snow standing at apx 13,500ft (Mauna Kao), nearly the highest point in the US!

The big island enjoys 11 of the 13 climatic regions on earth (all except arctic and saharan). I even saw someone snowboarding on our way up! Unreal....

Thursday - Most of teammates were already off the island at this point, but I still had 3 full days. I grabbed a monster of a Dodge Neon rental car, picked up a big island guide book, and off I went. I basically gave myself a self guided tour of the west coast of the island, all the way until I reached south point, the most southern part of the island, and of the US. Even though the winds constantly blow at 20-30 mph, the place did have some serenity to it. Afterwards, it was onward to Hawai`i Volcano National Park to check out what it had to offer, and hopefully get a chance to see some lava. I got to HVNP just in time for a 45 minute drive down to the coast, and an hour hike across a lava field to get a good glimpse of lava flow going into the ocean. The best time to go is right before dusk. Even though we were a few miles away from it, it was a very cool experience watching land being formed right in front of you. There was about 20-30 people at the viewing area, and everyone kind of sat there in awe and enjoyed the experience. I wish I could have gotten closer, but that's ok, I had a plan for tomorrow. Afterwards, I drove up to Hilo, and crashed there for the night.

Friday - Based on multiple recommendations, I decided to eat at Ken's house of pancakes. If you are ever in Hilo, the nicest people, and best food is in this establishment! After a hearty meal, it was time to start the day.

as if DOING lavaman wasn't enough, I felt the need to BECOME a lavaman.

Taking a tip from my guidebook, I travelled down rt 130 (east side of island, south of hilo) to the other side of HVNP. Here, they said rt. 130 was cut off by recent lava flow, but you can drive some parts of it to an end, and go hike through the lava field, and get a really good glimpse of the new lava it going into the ocean. They also said it will give you a better view than on the HVNP side. I thought this was a cool idea, and having seen lava the day previous, I was pretty stoked.

So, when I parked the car, I figured it to be about a 30 minute hike to where I could get a closer look at mother nature in one its most powerful forms. I started on my journey, and 15 minutes into it, it started pouring. The winds on this side of the island are very strong (constantly 20-30mph), so my entire backside was soaked, but the front of me was completely dry. kinda weird, yeah? I looked back, and could see that it would eventually pass, and that I would be ok. after about 30 minutes or so, I evaluated where I was, and figured I was only half way. Slightly frustrated, I kept hoofin. After another 15 minutes, I really wondered what the point of this was. Being surrounded by all this black rock, it all looked the same after awhile (ya think?) It still seemed like it would take forever to get there, I was soaked, I was starting to get dehydrated (not bringing water wasn't smart, especially when I surrounded by black lava rock for miles under the equitorial sun). I realized that it wasn't worth it, and I didnt wanna be vulture food, so I turned around. "geez, another 45 minutes of this - ugh." So, I started on my way.

I got bored of walking, so I picked up the pace for a little while, and was doing a light jog. The physical activity was starting to make me a little bit more dehydrated. I came over a ridge, and slipped, but was able to catch my fall with my hands. I looked at them, brushed them off, and kept trucking. 5 minutes I looked at my shirt, and noticed red spots on it. I looked at my left hand, and my index finger was covered in blood. I looked at my right hand, and the lower portion of my hand was nearly covered. I didn't even feel getting cut by the lava - it was like a clean cut from glass. My hands felt normal - no pain. It felt strange. "holy crap" was my first thought, "stay calm" was my second. I am not a wimp when it comes to seeing blood, but it isn't my first choice either. Being a little bit more dehydrated, and bleeding now, I was becoming a little worried. IRONically, I read part of a book by Mark Allen (6x Ironman champ) a few days previous and remembered his bit about being "mentally tough" during the bike ride b/c you are surrounded by nothing but black rock for it seems like an eternity. I could totally see what he was saying. That's all I could see for seemed to be about forever. I literally had to tell myself to be strong at this point. So, I told my self another 20 minutes of this, and I should be all set. Well, that was a really long 20 minutes. I had visions of being a story on the discovery channel on what NOT to do in HVNP, or falling over from being spent, or just something that you wouldn't think of on vacation in Hawai`i.

I finally crossed another ridge, and saw my car, and was so excited that I actually took a picture of it from the distance. I rushed over, pounded a water bottle in under 20 seconds, and cleaned off my hands. Low and behold - there was quite a few lava chips embedded in me. I thought to myself "I am lavaman, and I need to get to a hospital". I looked in the guide book, and saw NO listing for hospital. Not good. So I booked it through some dirts roads in my nice dodge neon, and started flyin up rt 130. I started calling people I thought would be near a computer to help me locate the hilo hospital, but of course no one was around. So I used the internet on my phone (lifesaver), and found the number, and called. I spoke to a woman who TRIED to give me directions, but there was no way I could remember every hawaiin road to get there - they all sound the same (go up Kealikikai, take a right on Hale Manu, take a left on blah blah blah)! I ended up stopping by the pharmacy in a supermarket, showed the pharmicist my hands, and said I need a hospital - stat.



I got there, waited a few hours, got cleaned up, had some topical lidocaine, and when it was all cleaned up, I had a gnarly chasm of a cut in my hand, but still plenty of rocks in me. I could still feel some pain, so I was injected with lidocaine. This hurt. A lot. I almost screamed when she injected me. I couldn't even bear to watch her DIG rocks out of me with her pick. I reminded her of hawaiin folklore/myths that anyone who takes anything from island back home with them has really bad luck - to the point where people send it back to where they got it. I told her that even though I didnt take anything intentially, I dont want to dig rocks out my hand on my own, so please make sure you get it all! So completely understood what I was getting at! So, they bandaged me up, gave me some antibiotics, and said "take this for 7 days, no alcohol, no dairy products for 1 hour before/after taking it, AND NO SUN." I said "I am in HAWAII, and I live in SAN DIEGO." They all seemed to get a big kick out of this. The worst part is, I said "I'm a triathlete - I need to swim!" their reply was "You need to wait at least a week". UGH. Yes, my cuts were that deep.

so, that was my friday.

moral of the story, keep water with you at all times, and don't fall on lava.

Needless to say, I took it easy on friday night.

Saturday - Another day spent taking it easy, I drove north from Hilo to check out the botanical gardens (they really are that beautiful) rain forests, and one of the best falls in the US: akaka falls. I continued north, and actually stopped for a burrito. Living in San Diego, I am used to every corner having a place to grab a burrito, but I gotta say - this was one of the best ones I ever had! I continued on my way, stopped at Hapuna Bay, voted #1 beach in North America by conde nast traveller, stopped again at Anhaeo`omalu Bay where our event was to take it all in again, and headed back to Kona where my flight left later that night. If you ever need a place to eat in Kona, I highly recommend Island Lava Java. Of course, the only place to worth partying at Lu Lu's.


Sunday - I took the red eye back from HI, and I never thought I'd say this, but I didn't like being in San Diego :) This was my second experience being on island time (Puerto rico was the 1st), and it was great. I purposely didn't wear a watch a lot of the time, and tried to hide my cell phone too a few times too. Being back on the mainland, it has been a little bit of a transition getting back to the american pace of life, but hey, San Diego really isn't that bad of a place to be.

If you haven't experienced island time yet, I highly recommend it, as I barely knew what month, or day, or time it was when I got back to the west coast :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

LAVAMAN!!!!!!!!!!

5am - Alarm goes off. Time to wake up, have some breakfast, and get down to the hotel lobby by 5:45. Our hotel is so big, it takes 15 minutes to actually get to the lobby! After everyone is checked in, our 82 person team will take off on our bikes for the transition area. A transition area in a triathlon is where you keep all your gear. After the swim, you run to the transition area, grab your bike stuff, bike, come back, put your bike back in the bike rack, and start off on the run. By the time we get there at 6am, the music is pumpin, and the announcer is getting everyone psyched. Only an hour and a half till race time. I later learned that Dave Scott, a 6 time Ironman champ, and partly responsible for the growth of triathlons was our announcer!


Between now and the start, everyone usually uses this time to set up their transition area. This usually means setting up all your bike/run gear in the perfect spot to make the transition times fast. One example would be to keep your helmet on top of your bike so you don't have to bend over to pick it up or keeping your sunglasses already open, in your helmet, so you don't have to later. Little things like this add up in a sport decided by seconds.

7am - We took the group photo, and then had a little group meeting where coach did what coach does best - prepare us. A man that has done 256 triathlons knows what to do before a race. We gathered around, closed our eyes, and envisioned the entire course, which was previewed in days previous. Imagining the swim, getting to the bike, biking, coming into the transition area, getting our run stuff, doing the run course, and finally, the pose when we finish! During the entire 5 month training course, I was picturing myself having a lot of anxiety right before race start. The reality couldn't have been farther from that. I was calm as can be, and very excited. I started warming up on the swim, came back to shore, and was ready. When you have done 256 tri's, you become obsessive, but that's good, because I don't think I could have been more prepared for this race.


7:30 - 3.... 2.... 1..... GO! The gun went off, and away we went. Again, I was imagining all this excitement leading up to the start, but I was calm as can be. The water was a beautiful 80 degrees. The swim was tough though. One mile is no easy feat, but drafting in the swim of a triathlon is legal, whereas on the bike, it isn't. This actually makes a huge different to draft someone - since they are doing a lot of the work! My first lap of the course was a little fast - a little bit more than 13 minutes. When I finished the first loop, I realized that I felt more tired than normal, so I eased it up, and found someone else to draft off of. My final swim time was 28:59, which I was happy with (anything under 30 minutes was my goal). I was a little discombobulated when I got out of the water (as noted by my PICTURE) but now it was bike time - my favorite part of the race!

I came up to bike, got everything on except my singlet (top) and was having trouble. Thankfully, coach recognized this, and came over to help me get it on. I would probably still be putting it on if it wasn't for him. Putting on a tight shirt on a wet body is damn near impossible! Now I was off to the races. I got out to the main road (Queen Ka`aumanu), and realized my legs felt tired. This was surprising since I typically don't use my legs a lot in swimming. I became frustrated, and starting wondering if there was a head wind. Then I realized there wasn't one! Ugh, what is happening! After 5 miles, my legs got warmed out, and I started picking up the pace. I then realized that it usually takes me 5 miles or so just to get warmed up on the bike, so it all made sense. The Queen K had rolling hills, and surrounded by nothing but lava fields. I really felt like I was racing on the Moon! By 10 miles into the course, I had already put down one drink (water, gatorade, and electrolyte tablets to help prevent dehydration), and was already thirsty for another. (PICTURE) It was only 8:30 or so, and it was starting warm out, especially with no clouds. I got to the bike aid station, and there was a godsend of an icecold water bottle exchange, and I grabbed one, and poured it through my helmet to cool off. It was unbelievable. I was now fully warmed up, cooled off (Imagine that), and ready to kick it into overdrive. I started back on the course, and really picked up the pace. Up ahead, I could see that I was going to pass someone. In triathlon rules, you have to leave 3 bike lengths between you and the next bike, and you only have 15 seconds to pass. I could see that I was going to pass him, so I yelled the universal sign to pass "On your left". He veered right, but must of had something wrong w/ his chain, and didn't realize he was veering back to the left! The only I could do by not hitting this guy and causing more danger than he, was to actually enter traffic (with me going 30 mph no less). I passed him successfully, yelled a few choice words, and continuted on my way. Shortly after, someone passed me and said "Nice reflexes, you probably saved your life!" I am amped at this pointand just flew to the transition area. I jumped off the bike, got my run stuff on, and I was out of there. I later learned that I had one of the best bike-run transitions in the entire race!

As I was heading out of the transition area, I heard someone yell "Denner!" It was my good friend Dave on the team. Overall, I am better at swimming, he is better at biking, and we are even with the run, so it was perfect that we happened to start the run together. At this point, we were both feeling relatively good for just having swam a mile, and biked 25. But the run is never fun at this point. So we were chatting for the first mile, and had a few laughs with some other contestants, and by this time at 9;15 or so, it was starting to get pretty warm, and pretty humid. Thankfully, there was aid stations (water, gatorade, gels, etc) at every mile of the run. Each time, I would grab 2 cups of cold water, and just pour them over my head to keep cool. Finally, at mile 2.5, we started running through lava fields again, and it was really warm here being surrounded by black rock and all. We made it through that aid station, and were on our way to the 4th aid station, and shortly before it, I said to dave "Hey, take 2 cups to the domepiece". What I really meant to say was "Pour 2 cups of water over your head because it feels really nice!" About 20 seconds later, he finally realized what I meant. and then, I don't know what happened. We came up to the aid station, and I don't know what was going on my head, but somehow, for some reason, I yelled at the volunteer "Let me holler at 2 cups of that H to the izzo". (if you were born before 1975, you may have no idea what that means, but it just means "I am interested in 2 cups of water" if you were born after 1975, you are probably doing a combined laugh and shaking of your head in awe) Folks, I don't know what came through my mind, but honestly, that's all I could process at the moment. Dave said he saw the reaction on the volunteer's face, and said it was priceless. I guess he just started laughing uncontrollably. Mile 4 was running through the Hilton resort area, so seeing the reactions of people who had no idea there was a triathlon happening was pretty funny. At this point, I am soaked from head to toe (PICTURE), and at mile 5 came one of the most difficult parts of the course. For the next mile, our run was on coral and lava rock - pretty much unstable ground. It was challenging, but fun, since it provided some variety, and a trail run feel to the monotonous asphalt and sandstone earlier. We finally passed mile marker 6, and now there was only 200 meters to go - ON SAND. Dave said to kick it up a notch, so we did. I was feeling it at this point. My body was getting really warm, I was trying to go faster, and as we came up the last 50 meters, we noticed there was someone in front of both of us. We looked at each other, dropped the hammer - I passed him on the right, dave passed him on the left, and we both finished at the same exact time - ultimately having one of the best finish poses of the race!

After crossing the finish line - I could only do 2 things. 1.) grab a water from a volunteer, and 2.) run into the ocean to cool off, so of course, I did just that. I ran back into the water, hat/shoes on and everything, jumped, splashed, and just floated there for 5 minutes. It was heaven. I was oblivious to the world at that point. People came in to congratulate me, and I could barely acknowledge them.

Overall, I finished faster (2:37:22) than my fastest projected time (2:40:00) The overall times are listed here:
http://www.onlineraceresults.com/race/view_race.php?race_id=3114

Due to popular misconception, this was an OLYMPIC distance triathlon (1.5K swim (apx 1 mile), 40K bike (apx. 25 mile bike), and 10K run (6.2 miles), and not and IRONMAN (a much more psychotic 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile marathon run). But, our course was done on part of hte bike course as the ironman championship.... so, ... one day, hopefully I will be there, back on the Kona coast of the big island going for the super bowl of triathlons!



It was a phenomenal race, phenomenal coaching and training, phenomenal
teammates (who I know I will be keeping in contact with), and phenomenal
experience.

In any sporting event, there is always competition. But, one thing that I found very cool and unexpected about the event is the cheering on from other competitors. On multiple occasions, if I was passed, or if I passed someone either on the bike or run, I'd hear things like "Nice work", or "Keep it going man", or "Go Team!". Of course there is that hidden competition, and when pass you someone, there is that feeling of accomplishment and confidence (especially if you are really pushing it, and not showing it to try to deflate your opponent!), but I don't think I've ever heard a defensive back in football yell to a running back "Hey, Nice run" when he just got burned for a touchdown!


The only thing left to say, sign me up again, and 2:30:00 is the time to
beat next year!

Thanks everyone for your support!


Ps- if none of the picture are working, going to http://www.printroom.com/pro/photoman/default.asp?group_id=21 and type in 0052 into the search box at the end!

Goals met or beaten:

Raise $4,800 - Beaten
Place in the top 100 - Check
Finish between 2:40 and 3:00 - Beaten

More photos: http://photos.yahoo.com/rcdenner147


Monday, March 27, 2006

Leavin' on a jet plane....

60 hours before my flight takes off for Hawai`i.
5.5 days until the gun goes off in Anaeho'omalu Bay, on the Kona Coast, where we will compete on the same grounds as the Ironman championship.

Unreal. 5 months for training for a what I hope to be a 3 hour or less event.

5 months:

$5000 in donations raised towards cancer research
Over 700 miles on the bike
Over 150 miles ran
Over 50 miles swam

Friendships that will last beyond this triathlon.
Cutting 31 seconds off my 1 mile run time trial.
Meeting and knowing people that made it all worth it.
Getting up at 6am EVERY saturday, and knowing it was worth it by the time I saw everyone.
Doing a 1.5 mile ocean swim as a "Final Tune Up".
a 59 year old coach who has more energy and experience than you could imagine.
Inspiration that came from unexpected places.
Getting support from people I've never known.
A competitive fire in me that I didn't know existed.

It's been something else over these past 5 months. I am almost at a loss for words, but all I know is that I am so excited to be doing what I am doing. It's kind of weird knowing that I have spent 10-15 hours/week for the last 5 months training for something I hope will be done in less than 3 hours.

This triathlon brought out a competitive fire that I had no idea existed. Originally, my goal was to finish in under 3 hours. I am striving for 2:40, but winds, and potential rain could derail that. But when I talk to people, they say that they take their time because you are in HAWAII, and it's so beautiful. There's not many sports where you can swim with exotic fishes and giant sea turtles, ride on a highway named after a queen, and run through lava fields! They say to take it all in. And then you realize that you are doing this for cancer research, and it really doesn't matter what time you finish in.

Being on that podium sounds really good, but they are right :) Hopefully if all goes well,I can have the best of both worlds!

Thank you everyone for your support, and we will catch up after I return from the big island! (4/10/06)

Monday, February 27, 2006

It's been a while...

Wow... way to long in between posts - sorry about that. So, in the last month or so, I have accomplished quite a bit:

* Swam my first mile non-stop!
This was such a confidence booster for me. I originally jumped in the pool to warm up before a quick 200m. Next thing I know, I wasn't stopping, and 1600 meters later - I swam my first mile non-stop. It was awesome - and I must say - it wasn't that bad! Unfortunately, I didn't clock the time, but I know it was under 30 minutes.

* Was on a radio show to talk about my fundraising/triathlon, Jeff and travelling (http://www.worldtalkradio.com/archive.asp?aid=6136 Segment 6, fast forward to 5min 30 seconds)
After the show, I actually met someone (the host's father-in-law) that is actually battling non-hodgkins lymphoma. It was an amazing experience to speak with someone who is going through treatment at the time, and hearing what he has experienced.

* Donated blood (don't do this if you are training for endurance events)!
If anyone has heard of Lance Armstrong, you have probably heard of "doping". Doping is injecting red blood cells into your system which is supposed to help athletes since RBC's are what carries Oxygen to your muscles, and play a vital role in exercising. Giving blood, as good as it is, it the anti-doping... and the effects are definitely feeling felt! But that's ok... they will come back... just in time for LAVAMAN!

* Jeff is doing much better... http://jeffhartnett.blogspot.com/

* Ocean swims!
This has got to be the most fun part of training - swimming in the ocean! I swear - get like 50 people together in the water, and it's like watching a bunch of 1st graders completely disregard their parents. Coach tries to lecture - but we keep body surfing... but the thing is - he is telling us to body surf! The Triathlon term is "Surf Exit". When you are nearing the end of your swim, use the waves to your advantage by riding them into shore.

We have done a few swims out to the bouy's and back, and I have to admit, it is a little unnerving to be swimming out there in the ocean, well beyond the point where your feet can touch the ground. The bouy looks like it is just 50 yards out in the ocean, which doesn't look far, but man, getting out there is a little bit more challenging!

One of the CRAZY parts about the swimming in La Jolla: So I was finishing my 4th lap to the buoy and back, and I about 20 ft from shore. I am pretty close the point where I can stand up to run out the water. Out of the corner of my left eye, I see what looks to be a tail. I think to myself "Man, that looks a little bit to be a Sting Ray tail", so I look over a little bit more... HELLO SHARK!!!! Granted it was ONLY a 3 ft Leopar shark, which don't attack humans, but nonetheless, it kinda woke me up. After I got outta the water, I yelled to coach "HEY DID YOU SEE THAT SHARK?!!" What I failed to realize is that there was a group of about 7 10 year olds abotu 6 ft away.... and after they heard me, it was nothing short of deafening... AAAAHhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! We explained that they don't attack humans, but man that was funny!


Only 5 weeks to go until the big event! From here on out, it is all about fine tuning.

Monday, January 23, 2006

It really hit home tonight

Tonight - everything I have been doing for this fundraising really hit me.

I received a phone call from one of my close friends, and after the "Hey, how's it going?" stage of the conversation, I realized by the tone in his voice, something wasn't right. He said to me, "You know all that training you are doing for LLS, well, I was diagnosed with Lymphoma yesterday."

Wow.

25 years old.

Diagnosed with Cancer.

Nearly unable to speak with a million thoughts running through my mind, I started asking questions about his condition. Without going into too much detail, he remains "cautiously optimistic" about his condition and his chemotherapy recovery program. He will know more in the coming weeks. He remains strong, and positive about things - even throwing in jokes when he can - "Man, if you needed help raising money, I think you may have found yourself a new person to donate!"

I have always said that in this program, I have looked forward to meeting people who have been effected by these diseases, but I never thought it'd be like this. Meeting people helps me appreciate what I am working/fundraising for. It helps ME appreciate what I have. I hear their stories - some positive, some not, but after this conversation tonight - it gave me a whole new light. It added "fuel for the fire".

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers if you are reading this.


Some final thoughts:

Go out - enjoy life. You never know that today may limit you from what you want to do tomorrow.

Don't let the little things get you down.

Everyone has bad days, or even weeks, maybe even months, but sometimes "things could always be worse" is the best perspective to have.

1/21/2006 - Second brick workout

Now, that we know what a brick workout is, let's do it a few more times.

Coach primed us before this brick workout with words of encouragement like "I did this workout every saturday for 3 months to help train for my triathlon!". What we really learned is that our Coach is a psycho triathlete, and loves pain (but so do I, well kinda). When I got out to my car at 7am that morning, my cup of tea slid off my car due to all the frost on the outside of my car. Yep, it was going to be one of those type of days (hey, I thought this was San Diego!)

So, the plan was do about a 30 mile bike (from A to B to C back to A: http://tinyurl.com/9x74n), followed by a 3-6 mile run... UP Iron Mountain. Key word being up. First off, the bike was not easy. It was really hilly. There was one hill that made the Scripps Poway Parkway look like a mound on a golf course (ok, maybe not like that, but it was definitely bigger, and definitely steeper).

Then, the run - wow. Ok, Iron mountain - is definitely no golf mound neither. I actually spent at least half my time walking up this thing. The coach did tell us in the beginning that it was worth making it to the top just to check out the view. Well, low and behold, a crew of 4 of us made our 3 mile walk/run/hike way up the hill, and were astonished. We were 20 miles inland from the beach, and we could still see the great blue pacific ocean. Here is a panaramic view of what we saw (only it was more clear when we were up there): http://www.nealwatkins.net/hiking/iron.shtml Total Elevation change on the run: 2696 ft.

Again, standard saturday operation procedure: go home, stretch, eat, pass out. Awesome times as always.

1/7/2006 - First Brick workout

1/7/2006 - First "Brick" Workout. Most people look at me funny when I tell them that I am going to do a "Brick" workout. I gotta admit - it's not exactly intuitive. A Brick workout is a Bike, immediately followed by a run. Not a bike, take your time eating some food, recover a little bit, and then take - it's a get off your bike, take off your bike shoes, throw on your running shoes and hit the trail. Basically, what we do in the event. On a side note, some of my teammates and I theorized on the term "Brick". Our best guess is that you are "building a base" endurance, and "laying the foundation". Thank god we thought about this before the workout, because my brain wasn't functioning afterwards.

I took some time off from Work and training for a few weeks around the holidays to go home, and then got sick. Ultimately, I was "out of the loop" for about 2.5-3 weeks and this was my first workout of the year. Wow - this put a hurtin on me. We started from Fletcher's Cove in Solana Beach (1 mile from where I live), into the hills of Rancho Sante Fe to lake Hodges and back. http://tinyurl.com/dvt9p Then, do a 3-6 mile run through San Elijo Lagoon http://tinyurl.com/bhpnd

As expected, this just did a number on me. Let me tell you - running after biking 25 miles feels really weird. You go to step forward, but your leg wants to spin forward! After about 20 steps, your body says "ok, I remember how to do this".

Back at the first time trial for running, the coach took our lap times and final time, plugged it into a running database, and given a dataset of over 10,000 runners, projected our 10K race pace - the pace at which we are projected to run the 10K (6 miles) of the race. My projected time is 7.45 min/mile * 6 miles = 46.5 minutes. Needless to say, after taking time off - I was significantly off my race pace. I think it took me about 38 miles to do a measly 4.5 miles.

Standard saturday operating procedure followed - go home, stretch, eat, pass out.