Thursday, October 28, 2010

8 days left until Ironman Florida

I really can't believe that after almost 1 year of training for this event I'm finally on the door step of actually running it. I am very tired of training. I've put many things in my life on hold for this selfish pursuit. I can honestly say this will be a "one and done" event. I've neglected far to many things at this point and need to refocus my energies on what's really important in life. Like family, food (I can't wait to have a big bowl of ice cream, or a couple of donuts), and fun. I'm finding that I have a very short fuse these days. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

At the same time I'm extremely excited to get on that plane and head down to Panama City, FL. This has been a life long goal of mine. From the first time I saw the Hawaiian Ironman on TV I decided that one day I would compete in one of these races. I've always believed that you can do anything that you set your mind to. For and Ironman it takes 4 things. First you have to have the burning desire, without that you will not do all the training required and will cut workout short or skip them all together. While doing some of my longer bricks, many times I would think that I was tired and should stop, but I just kept telling myself that I would only be cheating myself and "NEVER GIVE UP" (more to come on this). Second, you need the time. The amount of time you spend training is insane. I've been averaging 3 hours a day on week days and 5 hours a day on weekends. That doesn't leave much time for anything else. Third, you need a good support system. My wife has been fantastic. I've been generating mountains of laundry with up to 3 workouts a day. She has also been great keeping me fueled, with all the special nutrition I need. I think she's running to the store 2 - 3 times a week. I can't thank her enough. Fourth, you need the financial means to do an Ironman. It's not cheap. I started adding it up the other day and total ended up being.....WTF, WAY TO MUCH!!!!! An example of this is I dropped my bike off at a local shop where it is to be picked up and transported to FL for me the other day. They checked it over and called me up. "Mr Graham, we have some bad news, your front forks are cracked and need to be replaced". Oh SH#$%@$@. So now I have to spend a couple hundred dollars more or risk a catastrophic failure.

Good thing I'm not doing any more of these things because they are so tough to enter, but the WTC who puts these on came out with a new program yesterday. You join their Access Club for 1 year and you can enter early before anyone else for the small fee of $1000, and then you have to pay the $550 to enter the race.....WTF!!! Talk about corporate greed. They have made this so the average person is not able to afford these races.

Goals in order if priority

1. Finish at all cost. I worked so long and so hard at this I can't back down. My father taught me many years ago what the secret of life was "NEVER GIVE UP". I've always competed with this in mind. You just never know what is going to happen. Look at the Red Sox in 2004. I now pass this learning on to my kids and I think it is sinking in with at least 1 or 2 of them, the 3rd I'm not so sure of.

2. Finish in 13 hours. With all my training I think this is the most realistic goal. My targets are a 2 hour swim (this is very conservative), 6 hour bike, and a 5 hour run.

3. Finish in 12 hours. I'd have to be having a very good day but this is possible. The way it breaks down is a 1:45 swim, 5:45 bike and a 4:30 run.

4. Finish in 11 hours. I would have to have the day of a life time. 1:30 swim, 5:30 bike, 4 hour marathon. I can do any one of these three alone but adding the three together will be a real challenge. I doubt this will happen.

My focus for the next couple of days is to maintain my fitness, I can only do harm now if I try "cramming for the test", and stay relaxed. During the race I'm going to stay within myself and never push it until that last 13 miles. At that point I don't think I'll anything left in me to push but you never know.

If you want to track me on race day my # is 1883 and you can go to or

Monday, October 25, 2010

12 days left until Ironman Florida

It's been one long year of training. I can honestly say that I've never trained and prepared myself for something so throughly. It all started back last November when I noticed that the entry for Florida Ironman was opening up right after the race on November 6th. I was at the keyboard and ready to enter my info, but alas they sold out in just a few minutes and I was on the outside looking in. Then I noticed that there was another way in. It was called the Executive Challenge. For as very large fee and if you were a high ranking person is a company, you were in!! I signed up. Then a couple of days later I noticed another way in. The Community Chest entry. Once again the price tag was higher then the normal fee but no where near the Executive Challenge fee. So once again I put in my entry. Funny thing happened as it always does in these matters, the day after I put my Community Chest entry in the people from the Executive Challenge called me up and said I was accepted. Thanks, but NO THANKS.

Now I had to start pulling together all the logistics.
Hotel, no problem the host hotel still had rooms. IN

Flight: big problem, nobody seemed to be going to that airport. WTF!!! After a couple of days poking around I found out that they were changing the name of the airport and 3 letter code over the summer so that is why none of the airline had it listed. I was able to get a flight with Delta out of Manchester NH. Good I don't have to deal with Boston!!

Bike transportation: I contacted the TriBike Transportation company and they had space left and they would pick up my bike at a local bike shop. Done!!

Training Program. With the help of a friend (Randy Uram) I selected Gale Bernhardt's training program. It's a proven method and seemed to fit well with my skill set.

Learn to swim: Big, BIg, BIG problem. I wasn't just bad I was the WORST. Now you're thinking "how can that be". To give you an idea of how bad I was, in one drills I was suppose to be kicking my way across the pool using a kick board. Sounds easy right? Not for me. As I kicked with everything I had, I was slowly moving BACKWARDS!!! This was going to be a problem. In addition I couldn't go 50 yards without stopping to rest. I needed help. I signed up with a local health club with a pool. Then I signed up for the Master swim program. My instructor was very supportive and very patient. I would struggle at most of the drills but kept telling myself that I'm investing my time and sooner or later it would start coming together. It took over 6 months before I started feeling OK, not good but at least OK in the water. I've had good days and I've had days were I could only swim 300 yards before getting out of the pool in disgust. Now after almost 1 year of training I've done 2 mile swims and felt great afterwards.

Biking: Now I've biked many miles over the years but never 112 miles at one time. And surely haven't done that kind of mileage with out drafting off other riders. I needed to put in a lot of lonely miles. And I did. A couple of weeks ago I had a day of "Firsts"
1. I bike the furthest ever, 118 miles
2. I did this without putting my foot down once.
3. I did it alone.
4. I did the first 100 miles in under 5 hours. That's a 20 MPH average.
5. I felt great after the ride.

Running: Well I think I know how to run a marathon but having to swim and bike before doing it would be a test of mind over body. My long run to date is a 25 mile run in 3:15. I felt great after it. This is thanks to my many friends who meet me at the bright hour of Dark:30 on Saturdays to do 1, 2 or 3 loops with me. These guys have been fantastic. David Katz, Peter Floss, Tom Skahen, Matt Carroll, Norman Kim, and Bryan Widmann. Here's a photo after my longest run

Core strength: It's so important to build up your core for an Ironman and that's just what I've been doing. One and a half years ago I did the P90X training program while getting ready for the Boston Marathon. I decided I'd do the same thing for this race. It's working, I've dropped a ton of fat and gained some muscle and increased me endurance exponentially. The down side is that with P90X training and the Ironman training combined I've been working out an average of 21 hours a week.

Family: Here is where things get tough because I couldn't totally control it. My wife, Christine has be SUPER. She hasn't complained once. She understands how important this is to me and has encouraged me every step of the way. I can't say enough about it.

Nutrition: I had to learn how to eat while exercising. I tend to bonk in most distance races and that would be deadly in an Ironman. I seeked out advise from 2 friends. Both have completed Ironman triathlons and knows what it takes. Bill Rozen and Randy Uram have been very helpful in developing a plan while I'm training and racing. I feel really confident about it.

Last Saturday, 14 days before the race was a big test. I would be doing what I called a "Monster Brick", a long swim, bike and run. I was able to swim 2 miles in 1:15, then jump on the bike and go 90 miles in 4:30 then finish up on the run with 12 miles in 1:35. WOW!!! I can only hope that I'm even close to these speeds come race day. But my plan is to go out a little slower in each to make sure I can finish.

I'm getting down to just a few days be for I head out to Panama City, FL. To make sure I don't forget anything I created a list. A very LONG LIST:

Prior to leaving Get

Batteries for bike computer (3 x CR2032)
Reflective tape for running shirt
Black Sharpe
Regular baggies
Snack size zip lock baggies for electrolytes and Advil
Re-align bike computer.

Bike maintenance

Take Xwing off
Take pedals off
Bring to Fast splits 622 Washington st Newton on Thursday 11/28

Bike Bag Pack:
Write Name on bag with tele #
Red helmet
CO2 cartridges
Chain whip tool
Cassette release tool
Wrench to install Xwing
Alan wrench set
T9 oil
Endurolytes tablets
Vial for endorolytes
Protein powder
GU (lots)
Hammer Gel (lots)
2 spare tubes

Pack in my Blue Seventy bag:

Wet suit
White goggles
Race number Strap
Biking shoes
Biking gloves
Aero helmet
Biking shorts
Blue Seventy biking top
Racing flats
Acidotic singlet (white)
Blue and white racing shorts
Running socks
Sun glasses (Rudy Mask)
Ironman headband
Running visor
Body Glide
Itouch charger
Laptop charger
Running watch
HR monitor
Bike Computer
Electrical tape

Pack in regular suit case:

Bike Pump
5 pair shorts
6 pairs of underwear
6 pairs of running socks
Sweat suit for pre race
Biking jacket
Arm warmers
Toe warmers
Sweat shirt
Biking shorts
Tri suit
Coconut oil
Protein Powder
6 water bottles
Running shorts
Small towel
Tooth brush
Advil Liquid gel caps

Buy at grocery store:

Peanut butter
Strawberry Preserves
Orange Gatorade

On Bike:

2 bottles of Perpetuem with 3 scoops each
Water bottle with Orange Gatorade
15 GU’s
Endurolytes in vial

T1 bag:

Biking shorts
Blue Seventy top
Sun glasses (Rudy Mask)
Head Band
Aero Helmet
Race Belt with number
HR monitor
PB&J sandwich

Bike Special Needs bag:

2 Bottles of Perpetuem (3 scoops each)
Spare tubes
Spare CO2 cartridges
2 PB&J sandwiches

T2 Bag:

Racing Flats
Run sunglasses
Acidotic top with reflective tape
Blue and white shorts
2 PB&J sandwich
Orange Gatorade
GU’s 3

Run Special needs bag:

Bottle of Perpetuem (2 scoops)
Orange Gatorade
Long Sleeve shirt
GU’s 3
2 PB & J sandwich

Saturday morning things to do:

4 AM - wake up – SSS
4:30 AM Protein shake
5 AM Bagel w/peanut butter
Also start drinking water and Gatorade
5:30 AM go to bike
6 Put body glide on
6:30 AM put wet suit on
7 AM GO, GO, GO!!!!!

Things to remember when racing:

Relax during the swim..RELAX
NEVER PUSH…stay within myself at all times
Stand on the bike every 20 minutes
Eat and drink often on bike and run

Smile for the camera at the finish line.

Call Chris after I finish!!

So there you have it. The hay is almost completely in the barn and I'm ready to have some fun.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Double Secret Training Continues

I've been racking up the miles over the last several months. In fact, this past weekend I did the most training hours I've ever done in one weekend. The funny thing is I don't feel tight at all. More on that later.

Friday was an easy day leading up to the weekend and only consisted of 1:15 of weights and Ab workout with a 1 hour easy bike. No problem 2:15 in the bank.

Saturday started out bright and early. 5AM, which means I needed to break out the head lamp. I met 2 friends down at East Boston Camp (EBC) in Westford where we were scheduled to run 3, 1 hour loops. The first loop gave us just over 7 miles. We then hooked up with another group of runners and by the end of the 2nd loop we had 15 miles in the bank. After the second stop for fuel my right leg started to lock up. I wasn't cramping but was not that fluid anymore. The third loop got me back to EBC in exactly 3 hours and 23 miles in the bank. Great way to start the day. I headed home to clean up then off to my daughters Softball game. After that it was on to cutting the lawn. This family stuff is really cutting into my workout time. Next it was swim time. I wanted to do an open water swim but didn't want to travel all the way over to Walden. So I headed over to Nabnasset Lake in Westford. I circled the entire lake which I mapped out to be 2 miles in 1:12. I'm starting to really feel good about my swimming. One year ago I couldn't do 100 yards without stopping to rest. No rest for the family guy here, next I was driving my 2 daughters to their social events. Now it's 8 PM and I'm off to do my last workout. Thank god this one was an easy stretching routine for 1 hour. At the end of the day I asked myself if I could have done a 100 mile bike ride and they answer was "YES", WOW I'm in good shape. Saturdays total 5:12

Sunday I planned on getting up and being on the bike just after it is light enough to bike without a head light. Which would have been around 6:30 AM But at 6:30 AM I found myself still in a nice warm bed. Time to get going. I found myself on the road at 7:05 with winter gear on. It was 39 degrees at my house at the start. I needed a 5:30 ride and was looking to put in a century or more. I also wanted to simulate the Florida Ironman course. So I headed down to the Rivah and did a 10.1 mile loop that took me through Chelmsford, Tyngsborough, and Lowell. I did this loop 9 times. Talk about boring but I was able to stay in the aero bars most of the time and only put my foot down a couple of times for lights. I stopped only once because my fingers wouldn't operate correctly in retrieving my Gu from my back pockets with the lobster gloves on. In all I was out for 5:30 minutes with 5:23 of moving time and covered 102 miles. I got home and knew I was spent. There was no way I could do a marathon after that ride. I'm hoping that all the work I did the day before was the cause and not just the bike ride. Once again family time started and I was off to other activities. It wasn't until 6:30 PM that I was able to get my last workout of the weekend in, with 1:15 minutes of lifting and ab work. Sunday total 6:38.

Weekend total: 14:05

My weekly total is up around 21 hours per. Boy do I sleep good these days.

Why do I feel loose? While doing all this ironman specific training I've been doing P90X for the last 6 weeks, which incorporates loads of stretching with each workout and Yoga at least one day a week. My flexibility has been improving while my work load has been increasing.

Next weekend is the peak of training and I'll be adding on another hour of training.

I sure can't wait until this race is in the books. I just passed up donuts. Now that hurt.