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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon

You know what they say about try, try, and try again. Well, on a crisp, cool day in Philadelphia last weekend, I finally got it right at the marathon. What a day!

The First Try: Marine Corps Marathon, 10/30/11

But the story really started 3 weeks earlier in Washington, D.C. When I finished the 2010 season at Ironman Western Australia and was thinking about 2012, I really wanted to give another try at a stand-alone marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon was the obvious choice. I had the experience of racing in the marathon there in 2006 and had raced in the Nation's Tri in 2009 over some of the same terrain. The course was familiar and it was convenient to stay with my sister, Lori, who lives in the D.C. area. And there's no better cheering section than Lori on race day.

Things got off track a bit when I sprained my left ankle at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in June and wasn't able to run for about 2 months. I wasn't deterred, but there would obviously be an abbreviated period of run training. Along with coach Justin, we settled on a plan that included a lot of running (by my standards), but spread out during the week. By the time of the Marine Corps Marathon, we'd done several weeks of about 35 miles, but the longest single run was about 13 miles or so.

Race day in D.C. brought cold temperatures (and snow the day before!) but bright sunshine. Perfect weather for the run. My plan was to stick with the 4:30 pace group, using a 9-minute run/1-minute walk pattern, and see if I could accelerate the pace later in the race. As it played out, running with/near the pace group went well, but by mile 4 I felt sick to my stomach,
by mile 9 I was pretty nauseated, and by mile 15 I had to stop because I felt so sick. I was a pretty pitiful sight. Within minutes of stopping I was shivering uncontrolably in the cold, my legs were pretty stiff, and I could just hobble along to meet up with my sister, head to the Metro, and make it home. A pretty sad day, really. I had higher hopes, for sure.

The Second Try: Philadelphia Marathon, 11/20/11

When we were talking after the D.C. race, Justin took me a bit by surprise when he suggested finding another marathon in the next 2-4 weeks and giving it another try. By the time we talked, I had already turned the page mentally....and was ready to get back to triathlon training to get ready for the March, 2012 Ironman New Zealand race. But I slept on the idea and it grew on me. I took a look at the upcoming marathon options and settled on giving it a go in Philadelphia, 3 weeks later.

Several things drew me to the Philadelphia race. First, I went to college at Penn, so Philadelphia was certainly familiar. I wasn't a runner in college, but whenever I've been to Philadelphia on business in recent years, I've done a bit of running....and had covered a good portion of the marathon course at some point. Second, I knew the weather would be cool (which is the ONLY way things would be OK). And third, Lori could take the train up from D.C. and cheer. The marathon was sold out and I gained entry through a charity spot offered by Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, a good cause.

We stayed downtown, near City Hall and made the walk up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway toward the Art Museum with 1000's of other runners and cheerers on race morning. Again, it was a sunny, cool day, with a bit of breeze. Perfect weather. Once again, I started with the 4:30 pace group and got off to a good start.

They call it the "Race Through History," and that's probably true. The course makes a big loop around Center City Philadelphia, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, before making 2 separate out-and-back loops on either side of the Schuylkill River before finishing in front of the Art Museum where the race began.

I followed a 9-minute run/1-minute walk pattern for almost the entire race, keeping right at ~10:00 per mile overall. This put me a little in front of the 4:30 pace group. Because of the crowd and the narrow downtown streets, I did much of the downtown portion of the race on the sidewalk where there was more room to run (and especially to walk for the walk breaks). In retrospect, I missed the 10 km timing mat because I was on the sidewalk. But I promise I was there! I saw Lori at the 6.5-mile mark, on 21st and Chestnut and then again at the 12.8-mile mark, just west of the Art Museum. I stopped each time for a snack item from Lori and told her at my 2nd meeting that I'd plan to slow down a bit for the 2nd half. I crossed the 13.1-mile mark in 2:09:30 and felt great.

I was able to keep at that same pace until just before mile 24...and sadly, had troubles with thigh cramping at that point. I chaned to a 2-minute run/1-minute walk pattern for the remainder of the race, promising myself that I wouldn't walk for more than a minute this close to the finish.

I was SO excited at the finish. Around the corner, up over the little hill, and down the Parkway to the finish. Big smile, some happy tears, and a bunch of high-5's with the kids along the finishing chute. And across the line in 4:30:11. Never happier at a race finish. Like I said, what a day!

Next up: Disney Half Marathon in January and Ironman New Zealand in March.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

EC Tucson 2011: The People

I'm finally catching up on things here. March was busy! So here's a "better late than never" post about the Endurance Corner EC Tucson 2011 training camp from last month. Most of the photos here are from Sherry Daerr's collection of camp photos.

First, let me say that the camp was GREAT! No surprise there. You'll know from my previous blog entries that I had a good time in 2009 and 2010. The 2011 edition of EC Tucson was the best yet.

On a bright note, I turned in a more athletic performance this year--on the bike, at the pool, and even on the run (if I exclude the mid-day meltdown in the desert). This was a pleasant surprise given a rather long off-season after the IMWA race in December. I may have been the slowest rider at the camp, but I managed to:

* finish the Madera Canyon ride done 35 minutes faster than last year

* ride the double Gates ride 30+W stronger

* ride 10% stronger up Mt. Lemon

* ride 10% stronger on the Ajo/Sandario/Gates loop ride

* finish 30 minutes faster for the Kitt Peak ride than last year.

At the pool, things were also better than in 2010. It might not have been the best Monday workout, but I had 2 good days at the pool with some faster company. And, like I said, I was running much better than last year, too.

The basic design and schedule for the camp were much the same as in 2010--and I wrote in detail about the daily activities at EC Tucson 2010 last year--so I won't write about this year's camp day-by-day. While I was at the camp, I thought that instead, I'd write about the people this time. It's really the people who make this camp special.

We had dinner at Chili's on the last night of the camp and I was fortunate to grab a seat near JD, Brooke, Gail (Brooke's mom), Sherry, and Marilyn and Chris McDonald. My seat was at the end of the long table for 36, so I had a great view down the table of all of the campers, coaches, and staff. I remember sitting there thinking what a remarkable group of people this was.

Sherry and Gail

Once again, JD invited his Aunt Sherry Daerr and his mother-in-law, Gail Hughes, to help at the camp. As I mentioned above, Sherry was the camp photographer in addition to her duties with shopping, cleaning, tending to the break room, and serving as camp "mom," in a way. Gail handled the camp registration, tended to the EC gear sales, and kept the attendance roster for the group starts each day. Gail joined for a couple of the rides and at least one of the run workouts. I'll particularly remember the spirited chase up Sandario. Great to see both Sherry and Gail again this year.


Sadly, there was no airport greeting at the airport with a Monsy muffin this year, but Gordo and the Sportsmobile figured prominently as usual. I may have missed out on the muffins in Tucson, but Gordo brough a supply to Jackson last week to make up.

I'll cherish the memories of the workout moments with Gordo this year....riding the return from Madera Canyon with Gordo and Todd (repeating a similar experience from 2009)....and swimming with Gordo during the 1st and 3rd swim workouts.

Like usual, we shared some breakfast moments, too. Bacon, Gordo, bacon.

Gordo talked me into doing an after-dinner talk for the campers one night about athletes and heart disease. I'm ordinarily a reluctant speaker, but I had fun talking with the group about some of the heart-related issues that have caught my attention these past couple years. I was probably the biggest introvert at the camp (among a collection of MAJOR extroverts), so I can only chuckle at Gordo and EC having me totally out of my comfort zone--on the road AND back at the hotel.

KP, Jeff, Alan

Three cheers for Alan again this year. He kept me smiling during the dark moments of the double Gates ride and he was great riding company on the return from Kitt Peak. There was no stop (and no Twitter or lottery tickets, either) at the store this year--just nice, steady riding with good company. I still need a lesson from Alan about logging swim training in WKO.

I was glad to see KP again at the camp and happy to serve as navigator for his mini-van. We got to spend a bunch of time riding together and I enjoyed that time immensely. I was sad to hear that he was still bothered by an arrhythmia problem and perhaps we can work to get that fixed up somehow.

I didn't spend much time with Jeff at the camp, I realize now. Too bad. If only I could ride faster.... What I remember most about Jeff this year was his positive perspective on athletes and medical problems. He shared a nice story about sorting out Chris McDonald's issue with light-headedness/dizziness at the end of long (race) rides....and finding that the problem was with vertebral/basilar artery insufficiency. This was obviously great news for Chris, who could work out an easy solution to the nagging problem. I appreciated Jeff's suggestions to the group about the value of having a doctor to look after you. He's right.

Marilyn and Chris McDonald

It was great to have Marilyn and Chris at the camp this year. I had a chance to meet Marilyn and visit with her for a short time one afternoon during the 2009 camp, but I'd never met Chris. My awareness of them both during the past couple years came mainly from Twitter, the EC website, or some other online source. They're great friends of JD, so it shouldn't be a surprise that they're the kindest, most down-to-earth folks you could hope to meet.

Marilyn would get to be the coach/leader for several of my group's rides during the camp. That was a treat. It's not often that I get to ride with a professional cyclist or Ironman champion. How cool is that? I'll remember a couple funny moments on the road....a spirited stretch to catch up with the group after Giancarlo flatted on Ajo....the time when Marilyn let somebody else lead on the way to Kitt Peak (and I groaned!)....and Marilyn watching me try SIX times to get started from a standing stop on the climb up the backside of Gates Pass. She'd later admit that she considered riding down to help! Pretty funny. One of the embarrassing moments.

I wish I'd spent more time with Chris during the camp. Like some of the other speedy folks at the camp, though, he was simply in another zip code during the daytime. Our paths did cross on the ascent to Kitt Peak and I appreciated his encouragement at about the 8-mile marker. Chris gave the first after-dinner talk at the camp, talking about being a bigger athlete in search of Ironman succes. It was an interesting talk and discussion to follow. You can tell that he truly enjoys talking about triathlon. He was also a great host for trivia night, passing out lots of good stuff from First Endurance.

The Mechanics

Once againi this year, the mechanics were awesome. Jake was the new addition, helping with bike shipping/assembly as well as the daily activities. And nothing better than a shove up the hill on Kitt Peak day!

Chuckie V

I was excited to learn that Chuckie V would be the on-deck coach for the swim workouts this year. Of course, I'd never met (or even seen) Chuckie V before, but my pre-conceived visual notion was based entirely on the picture above. Sadly, a much tamer haircut showed up at the pool--or the knit cap kept things well-concealed! But Chuckie V was every bit as hysterical in person as he seems from his writing. The 3 swim workouts were a lot of fun. One night after dinner at the camp, JD gave Chuckie V some credit for helping with our (JD and me) overall approach to swim training last year--3 workouts per week, with 1 focusing on strength, 1 focusing on threshold pace swimming, and 1 focusing on fast swimming. That was also the design for the week's swim workouts at the Tucson camp. These workouts could have been a page out of JD's playbook for me last year:

Workout #1--Threshold

400 choice w/u

1000 (400 free/300 non-free/200 pull/100 kick)

16 x 50 @ 1:00, desc. 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16

10 x 300 @4:20

4 x 25 @1:00

100 c/d

Workout #2--Strength

500 w/u

4 x (

25 fast/25 EZ

50 fast/25 EZ

75 fast/25 EZ

100 fast/25 EZ)

250 paddles (100-75-50-25)

500 pull/paddles (200-150-100-50)

1000 pull/paddles/band (400-300-200-100)

500 buoy/band (200-150-100-50)

250 buoy (100-75-50-25)

4 x 25 band only

16 x 25 @0:35

100 c/d

Workout #3--Speed

900 w/u

12 x 25 IMO for photos

8 x (

75 @1:00

50 hard @1:00

25 fly @1:00)

100 EZ

20 x 25 @0:30, every 5th fly @0:40

50 EZ

16 x 25 @0:30, every 4th fly @0:40

50 EZ

12 x 25 @0:30, every 3rd fly @0:40

50 EZ

4 x 25 fly @0:45

100 c/d

Chuckie V was a smart addition to the camp. Having the on-deck coach kept the workout in order (for a large group of swimmers) and enabled the rest of the coaches to swim the workout with the campers. He also brought along Angela Naeth and it was fun to say hello to her. She's had a great start to her 2011 season. You have to think that big things lie ahead for Angela.

The Campers

I started at the top of the post talking about the campers gathered around the table at Chili's. Of course, the next day most would return to their hometowns and resume their "regular" lives. You just had to have the sense that these are successful people in many ways--not only sport, but also family, business, etc. It's fun to spend time with people like that.

The campers really made the camp: Tony, Nina, Mimi, Heath, Todd, Jeff, Kyle, Ron, Harold, Jen, Sharon, Simon, Brett, Max, Slater, Giancarlo, John, Dietrich, Mark, Kevin (the fighter pilot), Paul, Brian, Wyman, Craig. Hopefully I didn't leave anybody out!

This was a mix of alumni and newcomers, from all over the country. All were able triathletes, for sure. I did well-wishing on Twitter for the Tucson campers and EC folks who raced last weekend at the California 70.3. A terrific day for the EC Tucson 2011 alumni!


And lastly, JD. I can't say enough about how well-organized this year's camp was. Most people won't stop to think about the many (MANY!) pieces that go into a camp this complex. And that's what's so nice about being a camper with EC! But the reality is that JD made it happen. Unlike the previous Tucson editions, JD was busy this year with a very early start to his own training season....with many weeks away from home leading up to this camp. So, for JD....a BIG job well-done!

EC Tucson 2012

I won't be back for EC Tucson 2012, but I know that it will be successful nonetheless. I'll be there in spirit. Instead, I've registered for IM New Zealand which is being held on Saturday, March 3, 2012. For me, this will be a repeat visit to Taupo, where I did my first Ironman race in 2007. It's been an unbelievable five years. I can't wait.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Endurance Corner Meets Mississippi Heat!

This past Sunday evening I had dinner at Mint with 4 of my very favorite people....Lori, George and Stephanie Russell, and Justin Daerr. We were celebrating a successful conclusion to the Mississippi Heat Tri Camp. What a weekend!

Like I mentioned in my last blog post, I had the pleasure of serving as Camp Director for a weekend triathlon training camp hosted by our local triathlon club, the Mississippi Heat Triathlon Team. It was almost a year ago that I sat down at Sweet Peppers Deli with Matt and Amanda Cassell, officers of the club, and Kendrick Gibson to brainstorm about the possibility of organizing the camp. At the time, we had already secured the commitment of Gordo Byrn of EnduranceCorner to visit with the club for the weekend. Gordo had suggested that a weekend training camp might hold interest for a wide range of athletes on the Team and this idea appealed to us.

The Mississippi Heat has produced a local triathlon called the Soak Up the Sun Triathlon for several years now, so there was some experience in event production. We've also had invited speakers on occasion, including big turnouts for dinners with professional triathletes, Justin Daerr and Heather Gollnick. But we had never hosted a single-day yet alone multi-day clinic or training camp, so I knew at the outset that we'd have our hands full getting this organized.

The concept here was to bring a high-quality training camp to our own backyard. There are very few triathletes who can afford--either in time or money--to travel to the typical weeklong spring training camp held in the warm climates of the desert Southwest. We thought that we could create a high-value opportunity not only for members of our own Team, but for other triathletes in the Jackson area and even throughout the south central U.S. I'm actually surprised there aren't more events like this.

At the very beginning, we decided to aim for an event that would take place on Friday evening, all day Saturday, and a half day on Sunday morning. Our goal was to create a program that would draw 75 athletes for a weekend of swim, bike, and run training combined with educational sessions in each sport. It was important to us that the camp hold interest for the entire spectrum of ability levels since this would reflect the membership of our Team. We settled early on that we would have a special camp-within-the-camp called Triathlon 101 for beginners.

We were quick to announce our plans on Twitter and Justin Daerr was the first to "sign up." I seem to recall that it took only minutes for JD to let me know that he wanted to come along. Knowing that I could count on JD and Gordo made it easy for me to agree to be Camp Director for the weekend. I was certain that, with some careful planning, we could put on an event that we would be proud of. Endurance Corner meets Mississippi Heat!

We gathered a small staff of volunteers to help with organizing the event. Stephanie Russell would be in charge of the Friday night session, Matt Johnson and Darryl Lehtola would be in charge of the Saturday/Sunday sessions, Martha Davis would be in charge of food for the weekend, and Kendrick Gibson would serve as Head Coach. I recruited my sister, Lori, to help with photography and all sorts of other things. That small group of people, along with help and encouragement from Matt and Amanda, would make it happen.

We met on several occasions to work on developing the program for the weekend. You can find the details at the event website. There were many considerations, but we worked hard to find a balance between training and didactic sessions....and we worked hard to develop a program that would suit all ability levels. This was probably the biggest challenge in planning the event. Gordo and JD helped with ideas and we recruited Jeff Fejfar of Midsouth Multi-Sport Endurance Coaching when we saw the need for at least four coaches.

The selection of venues for the camp was both easy and hard. The pool at the Lakeland Branch of Courthouse Racquet & Fitness is the only pool in town large enough to host a group this large. We were fortunate that Johnny Black and the kind folks at the Courthouse welcomed us at their facility. The selection of the Saturday/Sunday venue was more difficult and we considered many options from hotel meeting rooms, to neighborhood clubhouses, to my own home. In the end, David Seago, the co-owner of StinkyFeet Athletics, helped us make arrangements to use the clubhouse at Arbor Landing on the Brandon side of the Reservoir. This would turn out to be a great choice.

We would enlist the help from four great local sponsors: Courthouse Racquet & Fitness, StinkyFeet Athletics, The Bike Rack, and Fleet Feet Jackson. We couldn't have done it without the kind help from these folks.

We'd go on to gather the help from a long list of other local and national sponsors: Rudy Project, FuelBelt, Polar Bottle, Xterra Wetsuits, Larabar,, GU Energy Systems, Little Red Wagon Granola, VeloPress, Yurbuds, Coffees of Hawaii, QuickQuakes, Clean Bottle, Smoothie King, Infinit Nutrition, Bonk Breaker, CycleOps, Resource Revival, Skeese Greets, Yankz!, SBR Sports, Spibelt, PerfectFoods Bars, Sal & Mookie's Chik-Fil-A, Skin Sake, Tri4Life Triathlon, Race of Grace Triathlon, Heatwave Triathlon and the City of Ridgeland, and our own Soak Up the Sun Triathlon. In total, these great sponsors contributed more than $11,500 of goods and services to our event. BIG thanks to all of the sponsors.

The Mississippi Heat generously agreed to contribue up to $5500 to the training camp. With that in mind, we developed a budget and pricing strategy that would allow us to operate this first edition of the camp at a loss. We settled on a price of $240 and offered a discounted registration price of $185 to Team members. We also offered a more modest discount to various friends of the Team and gave free registration to the core group of camp staff and key local sponsors.

The camp was almost a year in the planning. I took at look back yesterday and saw that I had sent or received almost 1200 emails about the camp during that year. Wow! And there were more than a few calls, letters, meetings, Tweets, texts, etc. along the way, too.

The camp was over in a flash, but we had a terrific weekend. There were 66 athletes and coaches for the event....and there were lots of smiles. A large collection of photographs from the weekend can be found at our SmugMug site, but I'll share a few photos here....

Head Coach Kendrick Gibson surveying the registration activities at the pool on Friday night.

Supper after the workout would be from Newks.

Campers in the water for the swim workout.

Coach Jeff Fejfar working with some swimmers.

The night concluded with a swim relay race. JD powered his team to victory!

Saturday morning began with a bike workout and mechanic Andrew was working hard to get the bikes ready.

The bikes before the group ride.

A prized photo....the only photo I have of me, Gordo, and Justin. Thanks, guys!

The group ride was organized into 20-, 30-, and 40-mile groups. Larkin was sporting the King of the Mountain jersey. I think we had a 50-foot climb.

After dinner on Saturday night, Gordo autographed copies of his book, Going Long.

The thunderstorms cleared on Sunday morning, just in time for a group photo and long run.

....with Gordo leading the charge!

Some Lessons Along the Way:

1. Good people guarantee success. A training camp is inherently a "people event." Choose the right people to plan and conduct the camp and you can't lose. The collection of coaches for the camp--Gordo, JD, Kendrick, and Jeff--are exceptional athletes, but they're also great teachers. That's key. I was thrilled about how the educational sessions turned out....and that has everything to do with choosing the right coaches.

I can't thank Gordo and JD enough for coming to the camp. I know that our event came at a busy time for both of them, so we owe them our special gratitude. I wish them both well with their races this weekend....JD at the Kemah Olympic-distance race and Gordo at California 70.3.

Good people were also essential with the event planning. It was a terrific group. And I think we honored our promise to Amanda and Matt that we'd get the job done with little help from the club's officers.

2. Be prepared. I thought we were well-prepared for potential emergencies. But you never expect the emergency. As it turned out, we had a camper suffer a heart attack on Sunday. I've written about the event at my Athletes Heart Blog. He's recovering after being treated with a coronary stent for a severe blockage in one of his coronary arteries. If I did this again, I'd redouble our efforts on safety. You just can't be too prepared.

I've spoken and written about the issue of athletes and heart disease many times over the past couple years. Our event on Sunday just reinforces the importance of taking warning signs of heart disease seriously; of careful event planning in terms of safety; and remembering that heart disease is a common problem, even among "healthy" athletes.

3. Inspiration. Lastly, a couple thoughts about the lasting effects of the camp. We didn't change the campers' fitness levels appreciably with a few hours of group training over the weekend. And I'm sure that many of the coaches' tips and messages will be forgotten with time. But I'm certain that the campers left inspired. You could see it in their faces. That will be the lasting effect of the camp.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mississippi Heat Tri Camp 2011

The Mississippi Heat Triathlon Team is hosting a weekend triathlon training camp for area athletes on March 25-27, 2011. Check out all of the details at

The Camp includes 7+ hours of group training plus 10 hours of educational sessions in all 3 sports.

Guest coaches include: Gordo Byrn, 2002 Ultraman World Champion, Founder of Endurance Corner, and co-author of the best-selling triathlon book, Going Long; Justin Daerr, professional Ironman triathlete and Endurance Corner Coach; and Jeff Fejfar, Founder of Mid-South Multisport Endurance Coaching.

Registration is limited to 75 athletes, so reserve your spot now!

Hope to see you at the Camp in March!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The New Year: 2011

Happy New Year!

I had intentions on writing something here at the blog IN ADVANCE OF the new year, but the holidays got the best of me. A little late....and probably a little bit shorter, as well.
In the aftermath of the Ironman Western Australia race....On the injury front, I can report that my left foot got better pretty quickly and within a couple weeks I was back to running. Sadly, though, within 48 hours of getting back to the U.S., my right elbow was hurting, and I couldn't even recall a specific injury. Nonetheless, my elbow was soon swollen to twice its normal size and, despite the passage of 4 more weeks, it's still not completely back to normal. It's taken those 4 weeks to be able to get back to: holding a telephone to my ear with my right arm, buttoning the top buttons of my shirt, tying a tie, and brushing my teeth right-handed again. Pretty remarkable, really. On the road to recovery.

BTW, I have a new appreciation for those with elbow injuries. I think back to the spring of 2008 when my mother broke her elbow. As she was rehabbing from that injury (on the trip to S. Africa to cheer for me), I can recall having little understanding for how it was impossible to use a fork with that arm. NOW I KNOW!

With the foot and elbow problems, December became nearly a complete month of rest from exercise. It was a long year of training and so that was probably a good thing, both physically and mentally.

In the past couple weeks, I've had a chance to read a handful of articles about "taking stock" and "looking ahead." It's that time of year.

Thinking about the "multisport experience" of 2010, by the numbers it was:
5 triathlon races
1 running race
2 swim races
1 training camp
~675,000 yards of swimming
~6400 miles of riding
~965 miles of running
59 hours at the gym
~40,000 miles of air travel for training and races

It was a lot. And I had a great time!

Thanks to everybody on "the team"--the friends and training partners, my family who came to cheer at the races, coach JD, the folks at work. For people on the outside looking in, it's hard to appreciate the team that's needed to support 750 hours of training and even a very modest racing schedule.
I was reminded recently by a colleague about the words of a visiting professor of surgery who joined us here in Jackson last summer:
"We don't learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience."
That's true. I won't bore any readers here with my refections on the past season, but there was a lot of experience AND a lot to learn from the experiences. I'll try to put it to use in 2011.

So looking forward to the rest of IS about being prepared. Although the season's race schedule hasn't completely crystallized in my mind, we'll set about preparing for:
Feb Running race in Hilton Head Island, SC
Feb/March Endurance Corner Tucson Training Camp
March Mississippi Heat Tri Camp (check out
April N. Orleans 70.3
May Memphis in May (in Tunica, at the casino, this year!)
June Escape from Alcatraz
So there's a start.....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Down Under--Part 2

I’m back home in Jackson now, trying to get back into the ordinary routine. These first few days have been difficult with the big time change, but I’m hoping that I can back on a regular sleep schedule for the coming week. Let’s pick up where I left off….


Justin granted an off day for Friday, a chance to continue to rest up for the race. I went with Lori to the registration area for her to start her shift of volunteering at 8:00 am. I went to the race office to get tickets for the welcome dinner and went for a quick walk through the Ironman store. There really wasn’t an expo in the traditional sense, just an Ironman merchandise store that was pretty small. I think back to IM Brazil last year….there were probably 100+ vendors in a HUGE expo. Surprising that the Ironman expos aren’t more similar. But perhaps Busselton is at the far reaches of civilization. I biked back to the apartment while Lori worked.

Lori would end up working at registration, for the lowest numbered athletes. As a result, she got to handle registration for many of the pros. She enjoyed that and recalled that Kate Bevilaqua, who would go on to win the women’s race, was the kindest of all the pros she met that morning.

The parents and I visited an art shop near the apartment and I commissioned a painting of the Busselton jetty as a souvenir. It won’t be ready until February, but it will be nice to hang on the wall with the other Ironman and other race memorabilia. The rest of the afternoon was entirely restful.

Friday evening I went with the family to the pre-race dinner. This was probably the best of the pre-race dinners I’ve attended at the Ironman events. The dinner was held in a large tent across the street from the swim start, in Barnard Park. The food and drink was actually good this time….and the program had the traditional elements to help motivate the crowd for race day. There was even a native dance. Something inspirational for everybody.


Lori accompanied me to the swim practice area for a short, 20-minute swim on Saturday morning. Not many swimmers, surprisingly, at 6:00 am. I followed this up with a 40-minute ride, easily, along the multi-use trail from the apartment to town and back. Training was DONE! I would remember for JD that it worked out to 369 days of training to get ready.

Back at the apartment, I gathered up all the gear and we were among the first in line for check-in at 11:00 am. There was light rain then….and there was some light rain off and on for the rest of the day. I can remember thinking that this could be great weather for the race.

We all hopped in the car and headed off to Dunsborough, for a drive along Caves Road. We went to the Serazens Brewery for lunch, but were turned away because we didn’t have a reservation. Not too far away, though, was another pub where we enjoyed a lunch in the backyard of the pub. The setting was nice, but the flies were pretty annoying. I was the first one chased back to the car to seek refuge.

I took a nap on Saturday afternoon and got the remaining gear ready for the race. We had dinner at the apartment and everybody was in bed early for the big day on Sunday.


Race day! I can’t remember ever waking on race day feeling more excited about the day ahead. The weather was ideal….mostly clear skies, cool temperatures, and little humidity. At the start there was little wind, but this built to 10-15 mph as the morning went along. Really couldn’t ask for anything more in the weather department.
After getting my bike set up, I spent the pre-race hour with my family at the seawall overlooking the swim start. We talked briefly with Mike Reilly who was here for his 99th race as announcer. He guaranteed a good day.

I’ll save a traditional race report for another day, but I’ll share some of the highlights here. The swim was a lot of fun. Calm seas made for a pretty quick single-lap swim out along 1 side of the mile-long jetty and then back along the other side. I cut my left heel pretty bad on something at the start….and that would have a major impact as the day progressed. The bike was a 3-lap course. I had a pretty good go of things for the first 2 laps and slowed a bit on the third lap. Through T2, it was my best-ever race. Unfortunately, when I hopped off the bike at T2 I could barely walk, my left foot hurt so much. I actually had to be helped into the tent by a volunteer. I tried to make the best of the run, but after a start/stop run/walk for the first 2 laps, I ended up walking (and limping!) to the finish.
It was a long day. I was never better prepared and I had high hopes for the race. I had thought this would be the last Ironman race, but now I’m not so sure. It would still be nice to have a solid day at the races before retiring.

We stopped at McDonald’s (along with many ofther finishers) for a bite to eat on the way home and had a chance to visit for a short while before I needed to sleep.


Since we elected to leave the bike and gear at transition on Sunday night, we had to return early Monday morning to pick things up. Then it was home to pack, and at about 10:30 am, we left Busselton to return to Perth. It’s not my usual MO, but this time we were doing the 3-hour drive (11,000 miles from home) with no map and no cellphone GPS. We got lost a couple times, but eventually made our way to our motel near the Perth airport.

The folks at the motel made a good suggestion for lunch and we headed into downtown Perth to have lunch at the Lucky Shag, a pub on the Perth waterfront, near the bell tower. It was our chance to sit and talk about the race and reflect on the trip. We all agreed that we’d had a great time. And time had flown by. It seemed like just yesterday that we were arriving in Sydney for the beginning of the trip.

Back at the motel, I re-packed the bike and re-packed all of the gear. The parents napped and Lori and I visited in our room. We all turned in early.


We were up at 3:00 am to make our way to the airport for the long trip home. Our flight to Sydney left at 5:45 am. For the return trip, the travel worked just like the trip down….just in reverse. First to Sydney, then transfer to the International terminal for the long flight to LA. We parted ways in LA and each headed our own way. I returned to Dallas and then on to Jackson, arriving near midnight on Tuesday, but after some 24 hours in a plane plus many more hours of layover time. This was, by far, the longest trip I’ve ever made in a day (or two!).

And that’s how it was….