September 19, 2017

Full Vineman 2012 Race Report

The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.

An Ironman distance triathlon is not exactly combat but that quote reinforces the point that proper training is the best way to complete any goal. That was the secret to me getting across the Vineman finish line — I sweated a lot in training. Another thing that go me through the race was remembering the Endurance Athletes Creed. Endurance athletes are probably the best people on the planet and their encouragement and support is what fueled me to succeed.

Training

I started training seriously for Vineman in January of 2012 (30 weeks before the race). Thankfully, I had a pretty good base to start with so it made getting into the training grove easier. Some of the key aspects of my training plan included:

  • Biked lots of hills: Hills are great for building your leg muscles and endurance. If you don’t have hills in your area, try and build your own by putting your bike or treadmill on an incline.

  • Did lots of bricks: Bricks are doing the tri events back to back. Swim then bike. Bike then run. Swim then run. This is an important part of training because it gets your body used to transitioning between the different events.

  • Practiced eating: I know, this sounds stupid but eating the the 4th tri discipline. You need fuel to keep you going over the 12+ hours you will be racing. I know this sounds even weirder but you will not want to eat or drink during a race. That’s why practice is essential.

  • Made sure to rest: Rest days are essential. They give your body the time to absorb all the training and recover. Usually, one is the norm but if you feel really tired, then two is okay. I rested one day a week (on Mondays).

  • Gradually build up and tapered down: My training plan had a gradual build up and taper down. This gave my body the needed time to adjust to the intensity of training. I’m glad I did not jump right in and hammer it like I wanted too.

  • Didn’t overtrain: Overtraining can be a real problem since it will wear you out before the race. The desire to train harder and harder is tempting but I stuck to my plan and that’s the reason I finished.

Racing

I always get nervous the first 15 minutes before a race. I’m not exactly sure why but it gets pretty bad. So bad that I want to blaze a trail to bleed off the nervous energy. Thankfully, I realized this a while back and started to apply the techniques below to ease my nerves and finish strong:

  • Start slow: I decided to warmup into each discipline so that I did not feel the panic of “getting going.”

  • Eat at regular intervals: I tried to eat and drink every 30 minutes on the bike and every rest stop on the run (it was getting kinda hot by then). This proved to be the best thing I did. Fuel and hydration are essential to finishing an Ironman.

  • Take breaks: There is no harm in taking a break to collect yourself. I took several breaks along the course (especially on the bike and the run) to settle myself and prevent bonking.

  • Encourage others: I found that the day went by so much faster when I chatted and encouraged other racers. It just felt so good to help someone succeed.

  • Find Allies: One important aspect of racing is allies that can help you achieve your goals. I found one in Michael whom I met on the run. The importance of allies is that they help you get past the tough spots and you push each other to succeed. Without someone like Michael, the run would have been pure torture.

  • Stop and walk if you have too: My run strategy was walk/run. I would run to the aid stations (about a mile) and then walk through them (and sometimes a little more :)). This allowed me to conserve energy and properly hydrate and fuel.

  • Take supplements: I dehydrate and cramp easy so I have to take supplements to replace essential vitamins and minerals. I use three Hammer supplements: Race Caps Supreme, Anti-fatigue caps and Endurolytes

Recovery

My recovery started the moment I finished the race. I made sure to stretch, drink plenty of fluids and popped a couple of Ibuprofen for good measure (that stuff is magic!).

The one thing I regret not doing was getting a massage. That’s something I would do next time. What I actually did is listed below:

  • Eat right after the race: This will be a struggle but eat when you finish. I really did not want to suck down a chicken burger but I’m so glad I did. Real food tasted great and gives you the calories you need to rebuild your muscles.

  • Drink plenty of fluids: You can never drink too much after a race. Take as much in as you can and monitor your urine. When it’s clear, you drank enough.

  • Take a couple of days off: I took 3 days off to recover. It was hard to sit idle after such an amazing race but it proved to be what my body needed.

  • Ease back into it: My first workout was an easy swim. It was actually hard to get through but it felt great to stretch out.

  • Plan your next race: The high of finishing an Ironman lasts a while but then you start to crash. Before the crash, take some time to plan your next race. It does not have to be an Ironman but it should be something challenging yet fun. I plan on doing an ultra-marathon or a Goruck.

Lessons Learned

I had a blast racing at Vineman. It was a rush to be a part of so many peoples lives even for a day.

There are several things I learned and would do different. They include:

  • Kick more during the swim: One of the reasons I cramped during the swim was because my legs were cold. The reason they were cold was because I just don’t kick enough (my swim coach yells at me constantly about this). Once I started to kick, my cramp went away.

  • Bring Bandaids: I cut myself setting up T1 and it just never stopped bleeding. I wish I brought a couple of Bandaids to stop the bleeding.

  • Don’t carry so much: I’m a pack mule. I tend to carry all sorts of stuff I don’t need. Extra food, wallet, keys, warmers, etc. I guess I’m just used to biking without support.

  • Lift Weights: I could feel the fatigue and soreness in my joints due to over use. If I would have strengthen my muscles around my joints, I would have felt a lot better.

What’s Next?

I’m looking for my next challenge. Maybe an Ultra-marathon or a Goruck. The most important thing for me is to set another goal. Without such goals, my training is undirected and my motivation wanes. I can even feel myself starting to slip — someone pass me a Gu packet!

Do you have any fitness goals? Feel free to share them in the comments.

 

Impossible Goal Achieved: Finished an Ironman

A lot of you think you dreams, aspirations or life goals are impossible to achieve. I’m sure some of you don’t even want to try because you might fail.

For me, I just completed my toughest event to date — the full Vineman which is an Ironman distance triathlon.

I’m pretty sore. Sunburned. Can’t seem to walk in a straight line. Steps, forget about it, they are evil. My digestive track is shot to hell. Dehydrated. My emotions swing from happy, sad, crying and all within a few minutes. Was it worth the pain and suffering? Was it worth all the training and sacrifice? Hell yeah!

Doing an Ironman was a life goal. It was a big, scary, life goal that I could have failed at but I didn’t because I trained hard and did what I had to do to finish.

It’s not like I’m blazing any trails or breaking any records. I ended up doing the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run in 13:53:21. (the clock below is event time. My wave started 6 minutes later). Calories consumed: 11,925. Finishing with a smile on my face: Priceless:

I met a ton of nice people (Michael, thanks for helping me get through the run) who were positive and eager to help out a fellow triathlete. I saw people struggle with every conceivable problem — cramps, dehydration, bike crashes, nutrition, sunburn, mechanical failures, kicked in the face (me included) and mental breakdowns.

Each of you has limits that you place on yourself. Each of these limits hold you back from achieving whatever goal you have in mind. Your Impossible Goals may not be something as physical as an Ironman but it’s just as important as anyone else’s goals and you need to give it a shot.

Thanks to everyone (volunteers, you rock!) who helped me achieve one of my life goals. Now, I need to figure out what to do next once I can walk upright.

 

Race Highlights and Struggles

  • Cutting my finger setting up T1 (Swim to Bike). It did not stop bleeding till I put my bike gloves on.

  • Getting kicked in the face on the swim. I almost lost my goggles

  • Calf cramp on the swim. Thankfully, the water was shallow and I could stand up and stretch. In places, it was 1 foot deep.

  • The guy who gave me Ibuprofen at a bike stop. What a life saver.

  • The volunteers were amazing. What a bunch of positive, upbeat people.

  • Turtle helmet guy who road shirtless and then changed into a Superman costume.

  • The volunteers with the garden hoses. I can’t even begin to explain how good that feels.

  • My running partner, Michael, who pushed me to get in under 14 hours!

  • The women who lost her daughter last week and still found the courage to finish strong. You are inspiring.

  • Team In Training’s Iron Team. Man, you guys pulled out all the stops to get your folks across the finish line.

  • To the cow bell volunteer who would play the Mission Impossible theme every time I would run by because I was wearing my Impossible T-shirt.

Past Training Updates

I somewhat chronicled by training via these posts. If you did not get a chance to take a look, go check them out.

 

Vineman Training Update #1 – Practicing Darth Vader Breathing

Lover's Lane in San Francisco's Presido

It’s been nearly 10 weeks since I started training for Vineman and so far so good.

There has been challenging times like adjusting my swimming schedule, doing bricks on Wednesday morning and making sure I eat and hydrate appropriately. I now have found my rhythm

My long runs are now up to 1.5 hours and my long bikes are 2.5 hours which will start to increase steadily over the next ten weeks (peaking at 4 hours before the final 10 week push begins).

So far (knock on wood) no injuries and I’m feeling pretty good about meeting the challenge (although I still feel that pit in my stomach now and then).

Training Schedules Are Key

One of the things I did was to lay out my training schedule in Excel. I know, kinda nerdy but it helps me plan my training and my life.

As my training model, I’m using Be Iron Fit by Don Fink. It’s a great book and has a lot of practical advice on training and making the time to train.

Don’s training plans go in three, ten week cycles and he has three different programs (competitive, just finish and intermediate). I’m doing the intermediate program.

All three have a base phase, build phase and peak phase which increases duration and intensity as you train for the event. By gradually increase your time and intensity, you build your body up to take on the Ironman distance challenge.

The training schedule I’m using is listed below:

  • Monday: Rest

  • Tuesday: Swim/Run

  • Wednesday: Bike/Run

  • Thursday: Swim/Bike

  • Friday: Run (Swim will be added during the build phase)

  • Saturday: Long Bike

  • Sunday: Long Run

The one thing that I have learned to really appreciate is the rest day. In the past, I would train everyday and thought that was the best way to get better. It turns out, I was wrong.

Rest is just as important as activity because your body needs time to absorb all that training and recover from stress and strain you put it under.

Rest days are also great for getting errands done and hanging out with family and friends.

Darth Vader Breathing

One thing I’m experimenting with is breathing. I first found out about the importance of breathing after reading Body, Mind and Sport by John Douillard. In the book, Dr. Douillard explains why nose breathing (instead of mouth breathing) is not only more efficient but makes you more relaxed. I won’t get into all the science behind it but when you practice breathing through your nose, you slow down, you are more conscious of your movements and your heart rate drops. It takes time and patience but when done right, you always feel in the zone.

The best way to describe the technique is to breath so you sound like Darth Vader. At first, this is going to be really, really hard. It just does not feel natural to breath through your nose while running or biking but after a while (weeks to months), you will start to feel more relaxed and actually refreshed after a workout.

Building Phase is Next

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll start the building phase of my training which will increase the intensity and duration. I’ll also add another swim to the mix. Thankfully, the weather has been kind to me and I hope it continues that way. Onward to Vineman!

My Impossible Goal: Ironman in 2012

I just read this great post by Joel Runyon over at Blog of Impossible Things. It inspired me to go public with my Impossible 2012 Goal: Finish an Ironman. Specifically, the Vineman in July.

I did sorta let the cat out of the bag in Just Enough and Just In Time Leadership but I figured why not just come out and boldly say:

My Impossible Goal for 2012 is to Finish an Ironman

What’s an Ironman

I’m sure most of you have heard of an Ironman but don’t really know what it entails. Here is a brief overview:

  • 2.4 Mile Open Water Swim (Ocean, Lake or River. Wetsuit optional below 78 F)

  • 112 Mile Bike Ride

  • 26.2 Mile Run

Presently, the World Record (set at Ironman Mecca, Kona Hawaii) is 7:41:33 by Andreas Raelert in 2011. I’m not hoping for anything near that nor could I even get close. All I care about is finishing.

Triathletes are part of the growing class of athletes called endurance athletes who compete in multi-event and sometimes multi-day races.

Why Triathlon Let Along an Ironman?

For triathletes, the Ironman is the ultimate for the sport. It’s the achievement that truly shows your dedication, courage and conditioning to become an Ironman. It’s also been a dream of mine ever since I did my first Tri in 2006.

Another important reason I do triathlons is to stay in shape and not revert back to my days of being overweight. It was pretty depressing to let myself go after college and balloon to an unhealthily weight.

To put that in perspective, I used to run in High School. Back then, I was 165 lbs (6’ 1” Tall). After college, I weighted 225 lbs. Now, I hover around 180 lbs, which is a great weight for me.

Making the Impossible, Possible

What really resonates with me about Joel’s blog is that he challenges people to rethink what’s possible. I really like that because most of us (me included) can’t wrap our heads around something we have either never done or feel is out of our abilities. That is something all of us need to break out of.

For me, impossible is only impossible if you don’t have a plan to make it possible.

If Endorphin Dude Can Do It, So Can I

My goal might seem impossible but Tony “Endorphin Dude” Nguyen’s goal was shear crazy — 52 Marathons in 52 Weeks but he ended up doing it. His goal was a monumental achievement that took a tremendous amount of planning and endurance to pull off. He got through it with lots of support from his friends and fellow Marathon Maniacs!

Surviving Road Ahead With Your Help

I have about 30 weeks to train for this Ironman. Thankfully, I have trained before and just need to focus on getting the hours of training up (it peaks at about 15-20 hours a week). It’s going to be tough but I’m up for the challenge but I know I’ll need some help.

That’s where you come it.

I’ll periodically post updates on my training progress and the parallels to leadership. I’m also planning on participating in the Impossible League to get that extra boost when times get tough. If you are doing something impossible or just want to cheer me on, please post a comment or send me a note (either here or over at the Impossible League).

Onward to Vineman!