Florida 70.3

Wow, has it really been since the fall that last posted? Life is just busy with the work, the kids and training for my second 70.3 half ironman. On May 15 Bill Hampton, Daniel Tardy, and I completed the Florida 70.3 in Orlando after a long cold winter of training. Here’s a couple of pics:

Candid shot before the race by Evan Tardy
Me, Bill Hampton, and Daniel Tardy waiting on the start. Do we look nervous? We should have been.

I finished this time in 5:33. It wasn’t the time I had hoped for all winter while I was training in the dark, riding in the snow, running on icy roads, and dragging myself to the pool two hours before sunrise…but I’ve learned that in Ironman racing “just finishing” is enough sometimes. You can be at your best on race day and things can still go wrong.

I came out of the water in the top 10% of the race and felt pretty good – swimming has always been my strong suit. The bike was where I wanted to show my improvement. After all, I’d purchased a new tri bike and aerohelmet just for this moment. I had trained really hard on the bike and was ready to show my new speed…and I did, averaging nearly 2mph faster per mile than I did in Austin in the fall. Unfortunately, it was on the bike that I made a huge mental error. I chose the wrong nutrition – opting for all liquid using sports drink and gels. The first signal of upset stomach hit me near the end of the ride, but my adrenaline was pumping from having a strong ride, so I ignored it.
I started the run needing only a very modest effort to set a new 70.3 PR. I had run a 1:39 half marathon two week prior, so a 1:50 off the bike seemed doable. Within a half mile I was walking. My stomach was rebelling from the nutrition strategy I had employed. Stomach cramps and waves of naseau followed. I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able finish, but I dragged myself from aid station to aid station hoping I could take in some calories. Everytime I tried I got sick, so I had to settle for water and ice. Eventually my muscles needed more than that and also started rebelling. Stomach pains and leg cramps in tandem. I was having fun now. I had dreamed all winter of a blazing time and I started out the race making that a reality, but now I was in survival mode – doing the zombie shuffle from aid station to aid station.
You learn from moments like those. I wanted to quit – my goal wasn’t going to happen – but instead I had to refocus my thinking. 99% of people don’t do half ironman races – let alone go fast in them. I was doing both. I had trained hard and there was no way I was leaving Orlando without my finishers medal and another 70.3 under my belt. I really struggled in the final 5 miles. My mind wanted to finish strong – run hard for just a few more miles – I’d done it a thousand times. But my body wasn’t allowing it. My stomach was in knots, my calves stiffened up after a quarter mile of running at a time. I reminded myself again that not many people were going to feel sorry for me, because I had only run a 2:13 half marathon. And so I finished. 5:33 – just 3 minutes slower than Austin.
I’ll get another chance to master this 70.3 style of racing on August 7th in Boulder, CO. I’m sure there will be new lessons to learn there – particularly how to deal with altitude racing. Can’t wait.

October: in pictures

So, I’ve been a lazy blogger for some time now. I’ll try to catch you up on the month of October in pictures:

Me – shortly after our arrival in Austin for the Longhorn 70.3. I came ready to party, or ride a bull, or…do a half ironman.

One things certain; I killed this bee. It’s a long story, but here’s the short of it: he was a buggin’ us, kept flyin around pesterin’ the women, I swatted him with my hat, he wasn’t happy, I cussed him, threw punches at him, and then smashed him. Tardy laughed – hard.

me and Bill before the swim start. Notice – we’re still smiling. Ah, so young and naive. Hours of pain still awaited us.

Swim start. See me? Trust me. I’m out there somewhere. Swimming.

me, Tardy, and Bill in front of Mellow Johnny’s that night after the Ironman Austin and 3 large pizzas.

Oct 22 was Kate and Max’s 2nd birthday. I thank God for my 3 miracle children everyday.

on a hayride with “Papaw”, Max and Kate

Me and Max hayridin’

Izzy was a pretty witch for Halloween.

Papaw and Izzy on the hayride. And no, we don’t let her wear makeup when it’s not Halloween

Weekend Getaway! At last!

Karen and I took out first weekend getway since Max and Kate were born this weekend. Karen was so disappointed when we missed the Jimmy Buffett concert because of the flooding; I knew I had to do something to make it up to her. I immediately realized the only thing that would do that was a Jack Johnson concert.

I was able to get tickets to see Jack in Atlanta. I have a great friends down there and several of our friends from Nashville were headed down as well. We left on Friday morning as soon as Izzy went to school. My mom and dad came down from Hendersonville to stay with the kids Friday and Friday night. I had scoped out a couple of climbs along the way to ride, so i brought my bike. We stopped near Chattanooga where I rode Elder Mountain Road and Raccoon Mountain. Each climb was 3 miles long at an average gradient of 8+%. I didn’t preview the climbs, so I was shocked at how little shade was available. I suffered big time in the noon heat, but loved every minute of it. Karen snapped this pic at the gas station where I changed clothes. I looked much worse afterwards:

After my hour long ride we drove into Atlanta and checked into the Georgian Terrace. We were thrilled with the luxury of the hotel. We needed a getaway bad, so we spared no expense. After freshening up we went to dinner with my buddy Moebes at the Vortex:

Karen had some sort of Hawaiin chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries…with Marshallow dipping sauce! So good. I had the “Hell” Burger. It comes with a disclaimer stating “this is not for wussies. there are no returns.” It arrived covered in Habenerno relish, pepperjack cheese, and a grilled jalapeno. The tattoed waitress simply said “good luck with that” when she put it on the table. I love my hot stuff, but to simply call this creation “hot” would be an understatement. Half way through the burger I could feel the insides of my lips blistering from the habenero relish. As an act of defiance I went ahead and finished it. I rank it #2 or #3 on my list of favorite burgers now.

After dinner we headed to the show, in a downpour. I had brought along ponchos for us to wear just in case, so we were prepared. We met up with our friends from Nashville and had a great time singing along with Jack under the stars. Most importantly, Karen had a great time. She needed the break from the kids. Someone shot this video of “Taylor” at the show:

Saturday morning Karen and I had breakfast in the fancy Georgian Terrace Hotel restaurant. I won’t tell you what I paid for a single Belgian waffle. It was worth it though. I took Karen to IKEA to look around after that. We left with all this stuff (table included):

We had no plans after that so we debated going to Dahlonega, GA, Nantahala, NC, or Chattanooga. We ended up deciding on Chattanooga. I drove downtown and found a suite at the Marriott Residence Inn right on the riverfront. We decided to eat at Taco Mac.  Sounds crazy, but their wings are the best! We walked around late into the evening in downtown Chattanooga – stopping by the river and Ben and Jerry’s. It was so nice to just have some quiet time for the two of us.

Sunday morning I rode my bike over to and up Lookout Mountain on Scenic Highway. The climb is nearly 4 miles at 7% grade, but the views along the way distract you from the pain. Here’s my view from the top that morning (above the clouds):

Karen picked me up at the top as the road was too wet to make a high speed descent down the twisty mountain road. After a nice breakfast we decided to drive up to Rock City, Point Park, and Ruby Falls. Here’s a pic I took from Point Park atop Lookout Mountain:

While at point park I learned some interesting stuff about the Battle of Chattanooga. Round numbers here, but 300-something confederate soldiers were killed, 2000-some wounded, and 4000-some “missing. Really? 4000 “missing” on Lookout Mountain. Where did they go? Interesting stuff.

It was a great weekend! We won’t wait 2 years to do it again!

Weekend Pics

Some pics from this weekend using the new Hipstomatic iphone app:

Time flies

This morning Kate gave me one of her sweet little side-ways smiles; she bats her eyes, turns her head, and melts my heart. I couldn’t help but notice how much she is beginning to look just like her big sister Izzy. It seems like yesterday that Izzy was our only child. Time flies though…it was hard sending her to Kindergarten last year…and it was hard sending her to first grade two days ago. Here’s the big girl on day 1 and day 2 of 1st grade. She’ll always be my baby:

1st day of 1st grade

First day with her best friend Ryan and an Allendale Alligator

2nd day looking like a little teenager

2010 Giro d’Italia preview and predictions

for more comprehensive Giro coverage visit my cycling blog The Polka Dot Jersey

It was a long cold winter, but now the signs of spring are here…including the pro peloton embarking upon their first grand tour of the season! While many familiar faces, like Lance and Levi, will instead race the Tour of California in June there are still intriguing names riding the Giro – including 4 former winners.

Last years champ Denis Menchov will sit out this year opting to focus on his July aspirations in France. Menchov’s top lieutenant Robert Gesink will also be absent. Seems Rabobank is banking on the Tour de France. The rest of last years Giro podium Di Luca and Pellizotti (ahem) will also sit out. High profile spanish riders Alejandro Valverde and Sammy Sanchez will also skip the Giro. Others key riders sitting out are Frank and Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish, and of course the white elephant in the room Alberto Contador.

We will, however, be treated to seeing current world champion Cadel Evans ride the Giro for the first time since 2002. He’ll be rivaled by likes of Italians Damiano Cunego (former winner), Ivan Basso (former winner), and last years King of the Mountains Stefano Garzelli (former winner). Former TDF winner Carlos Sastre will also ride to win. Other interesting names are last years TDF surprise Bradley Wiggins riding for Team Sky and recent Liege and Giro del Trentino winner Alexander Vinokourov. Linus Gerdemann, Vincenzo Nibali,Christian VandeVelde and Marzio Bruseghin also bear watching. Former winner Gilberto Simoni also returns to the Lampre squad for one final run at the pink jersey before retirement.

The riders will climb such key mountain passes as the Mortirolo, the Gavia, Monte Zoncolan, and a time trial up the brutal Plan de Corones.

Here they are…my total guess work predictions (I reserve the right to change these of course  🙂 )

1. Cadel Evans – He’s the strongest rider in the race, and although I suspect he’s riding in Italy to prepare for July in France, Evans says he’s riding to do well. He wore the Maglia Rosa in the 2002 Giro before blowing up and losing the jersey and race. Time has shown that he’s better when he does 2 grand tours back to back so if he does well in Italy watch out in France. He’s showing more aggressiveness in his climbing of late and he’ll win the Giro in the Time Trials.

2. Carlos Sastre – Sastre wants to win the Giro. Its not simply a TDF tune up for him – in fact, he’s not even sure he’ll ride the TDF this year. He’s still strong enough to ride away in the mountains as we learned with 2 stage victories in last years Giro and as we learned in his TDF victory a couple of years ago, he can ride a strong enough Time Trial to hold on. He still feels the disprect he was given at last years TDF in the midst of the Armstrong-Contador fued. He won’t be able to lose Evans more than once in the mountains though.

3. Alexander Vinokourov – I’m going out on a limb here. I know he’s making a comeback from his doping suspension – I know most of us don’t want to see a doper do well, but he’s looking simply awesome lately. He won Liege. He won Giro del Trentino. Turns out the “clean” Vino is still among the best.

The rest:

4. Basso – won’t time trial well enough, with the exception of the Plan de Corones, to keep up. Turns out the “clean” Basso is also still very good.

5. Wiggins – training ride for the Tour de France

6. Garzelli – King of the Mountains again.

Happy 6th Birthday Izzy / St. Pats Day!

Big Sis “Flootsy-Dootsy” and Little Sis “Peedle-Piedle” in matching St. Pats outfits

Izzy, Max, and Kate getting into the drink bucket (coke, pepsi, and sierra mist in case you’re wondering!).