Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Raleigh Half Ironman 2013

Before I had even completed the GY100, I had already been coerced by beastly triathletes such as Bert Kelley, Bruce Richter, Josh Mitchell, and Kyle Varnell to sign up for this crazy new challenge in it's first year in NC called the Raleigh Half Ironman 70.3. So if I went ahead and signed up, it would "only" be $199 which would be a relative bargain when it comes to this sort of race.  I thought about it long and hard.  I had always wanted to do a full Ironman and this would be a great way to test how it would be.  I kept thinking... ok if I start with a sprint level tri event and fail, I'd feel like a wimp but heck if I fail at an Ironman then oh well it was an Ironman event right? Right.  Let's get this straight...I would have to first swim 1.2 miles in Jordan Lake before biking in the crazy hills of Wake County in the amount of 56 miles.  Just in case that wasn't enough, I would then finish with a half marathon of 13.1 miles.  Hmmmm ok it's just half of a FULL Ironman right? right. You tend to play many mind games with yourself as you contemplate such craziness but if you've read my other blogs you've already learned that it's simply my nature.

So of course while training for other events such as the GY100, I now had to incorporate swimming and cycling into my training too.  When? How? Running is hard enough but at least you didn't have to worry about daylight safety or going to a pool or lake etc to train.  Unlike the average person, I can do well on 6 hours of sleep but now with ultra and ironman training, there would be some 4 hour sleep days to endure. In the end, it's just a mind game.  I just had to decide to do it. Life is too short as I've said before so if I ever want to think about larger challenges, I knew I had to make this step. Family will always be my priority so I never can go too hard core relative to what I should be doing to prepare. Here is a basic week of how I train... well nearly all year round now...minus swimming

Sundays: LSD yep the endurance athletes drug of choice when not doing SPEED-- 15-22 miles of aerobic mileage; ratio for swimming is distance x4 and for bike divide by 3.  During my training for this event though I focused on running on Sundays and tried to run at least 20 every Sunday.

Mondays: Martial Arts 2 hours; bike trainer 30-60 minutes; weight training 2 hours(chest, triceps, legs emphasis)

Tuesdays: 6-11  mile run at 5am; Martial arts 2 hours

Wednesdays: 30-60min bike(some spinning classes); 1 hour martial arts

Thursdays:  2 hours weight training(Chest, triceps, legs emphasis)

Fridays: 1 hour weight training (shoulder, back, biceps emphasis); 1-2.5 mile swim

Saturdays: 30-60 min bike/spinning classes; 1-2.5 mile swim

so basically depending on week 40-55 aerobic miles which is not that much relative to what I would be doing---

As previously written, I did survive the GY100 63 mile course and after some recovery time I was back on this training schedule.  Unfortunately, on April 9th, I badly sprained my ankle playing basketball. OUCH! In my mind, I figured I'd be ok by the Cures for the Colors Goldsboro Marathon but wrong answer.  I ended up cancelling that. 

Basketball has always been my favorite ball sport.  I've played on several teams in city and church leagues. In high school, I was on the way to play JV Basketball for Goldsboro HS.  I had made the first cut and was still in tryouts.  I wasn't blind that the level of play would be very competitive.  A few of my friends, Phil Knox, Jeff Garratt and his brother Jon asked me to consider wrestling.  I was a sophomore at the time and honestly was clueless about wrestling.  In my mind I was thinking about Black Jack Mulligan with the "CLAW" Ric Flair "WOOO" and other favs of the time.  My friends said I was pretty strong for my weight and that I would probably start since they didn't think anyone was at my weight class to worry about.  So before the final cuts, I let Coach Bowman know I was going to try wrestling instead and soon I would be learning a whole other level of self induced torture called wrestling from Coach Greg King.  The Claw and the Boston Crab were non existent.  They would be replaced with shooting the half, the Peterson, Syracuse, Spraddle,  leg riding, and other new moves.  Well, there was someone in my weight class... a transfer from Oklahoma whose family was originally from Goldsboro. His name was DeCarlos Ford.  His entire family was full of beast athletes and there was no way he would give up the 105 spot to this rookie.  So up I went to the 112lb weight class.  Turned out I would start but because everyone went up or down in weight.  I would enjoy a horrific 1st year record of 3-11!  yep... I counted and knew how many light bulbs were in every HS Gym in Eastern NC.  No worries because I learned more about building character and "intestinal fortitude" from wrestling than any other activity I've ever done.  It is indeed the hardest sport. I would go on the next 2 years at the same 112lb weight class and usually dominate.  I even had some wrestling scholarship opportunities but later decided I missed food.  Soon I found myself at ECU running XC instead. 

10th Grade GHS Wrestling Team (1984-85)

One might be wondering why is he going off on this tangent talking about basketball and wrestling after an ankle injury?  It's to demonstrate that despite adversity, you keep going and you just might surprise yourself.  Ok ok... so that's what I told myself after realizing that I would not be able to run until soon before the half Ironman. I had a good base I told myself.  After all, I just finished an ultra in sleet snow and rain with wind chill factors in the teens.  How could this ankle stop me now?  The truth is that despite me postponing my wish to do the Goldsboro Marathon, I was able to slowly increase endurance training again.  It was a little scary but I kept going back on the fact that my base endurance should be good enough to at least finish it.  Besides, no matter what, as long as I finished, it would be an automatic PR(Personal Record)!

During the last month before the Ironman, endurance mentors Kip Sloan and Rob Powell would help me rebuild my classic Schwinn World!!  After they laughed at the thought I was going to use my 80's model bike in a competition of this level, they offered some other options.  No I would not use one of Kip's $11,000 bikes or buy a new bike yet.  Kip was friends with two of my karate kids' mom Melanie who was nice enough to let me borrow her TREK. It would be a major sweet upgrade and I was happy to borrow the new ride!

Landon approves!
To gain Ironman support I joined the Tricredibles led by Bruce Richter
Behind him is the Trek Bike I borrowed from Melanie

Most of my support continued to come from GORUN (Greenville Organization of Runners) but the knowledge and support from the tricreds were priceless.  I wish I could of trained more with them but many of their training rides and swims were during times I taught karate or had other obligations.  Not training with them would create another challenge for me especially on the first part of the tri....

The Day Before...
It turned out that we had to check in our bikes and prepare the day before in Raleigh.  This would not be an easy day.  My niece Leslie would be getting married at the Aquarium near Emerald Isle NC completely in the opposite direction.  Josh Mitchell and I would check in our bikes using his car.  I would drop him off at his hotel.  I would then take his SUV back to his house to his wife Brook back in Winterville.  I would then drive my car home and get ready for the wedding that night keeping in mind that we would have to go back to Raleigh the same night so I could be on the shuttle buses etc after 4AM. The wedding was beautiful and after sharing pleasantries and eating we were off to Raleigh. Enduring this entire feat with all the kids were in itself a challenge!  Fortunately, Tom Kleinert and his family would let us stay at their house in Raleigh and Tom was going to drop me off in the morning in downtown Raleigh where I would get a ride on a shuttle bus to Jordan Lake.  
My official number!

Bike Check in the day before the 56 miler through Raleigh hills

Jordan Lake where the 1.2m swim would become a bit longer...

Josh checking in...
 despite my head start due to my age, he would still pass me around mile 17 on the bike
Josh at the end of what our swim would be...

After the check in procedures... I took Josh to his hotel, his SUV back to Brook, and then home before my family went to see my niece Leslie get married.... yep it was beautiful and as much as I love to eat and drink... I was a good boy and off to Raleigh we went....
My family and I arrived at the Kleinert's home without any problems.  They are like family and made us feel at home especially since they put us up in their "Pirate's Den" sort of speak.  They had remodeled their home and finished a bonus super room with tons of Pirate stuff, a bathroom, TV, bar, and plenty of sleeping space.  Of course it didn't hurt that I'm also a Star Wars Junkie and there were neat Star Wars Stuff too.

Day of the Half Ironman
June 2, 2013
This day is significant in our family.  My grandfather's birthday was June 2.  Gina's grandfather's birthday was also June 2. Gina's grandparent's anniversary was also June 2.  On a side note, one of my close friends Rickey Carrow's birthday is also on June 2nd.  It would now have another marker at least for me personally...
My lifelong friend, Tom Kleinert and I in Curacao.
Morning came quickly.  I did my typical prep work but was out of sorts having had just a few hours of sleep and having to get ready by flashlight and no noise to avoid waking up Gina and the kiddos.  Mentally, I went through my usual checklist at least 3 times since there would be new obstacles to conquer this time.  Unfortunately, I would later realize I forgot one thing...  It was time to go! Tom, a close friend since the 2nd grade, came through as usual.  By instinct living in the area he knew the quickest and easiest way to get me to my first stop. He dropped me off and wished me well.  I would catch a bus from downtown to Jordan Lake.  It was dark yet the energy from everyone's anticipation, hopes, and dreams were in the air.  I was excited and nervous at the same time. Naturally, I looked around to see if I knew anyone and tried to imagine by how strong the competition was.  Of course, like wrestling and pretty much every sport, you can't tell the beast within by the cover.

So at the beginning of the pool wave for my age group, they randomly talked about competitors.  Yep! I was announced as a Black Belt and some other facts.  Ok.. it was really weird so I just pretended not to pay attention but my buddy Bert Kelly quickly noticed and pat me on my back. It was somewhat awkward since I was such a rookie in this sport. Today I would be a White Belt!!  I had never swam any real distance in open water. Heck, I had to ask Bert how to properly put on my swim cap. Yep, you guessed it.  That was the first time I had ever put on a swim cap too.  Did I mention it was also my first triathlon? yep..  What have I gotten myself into?  Fortunately, Bert was awesome as usual. He helped give some last minute advice and helped me to relax and just have fun.


Here I am coming out of the swim... yep it was suppose to be 1.2m but although the kayak guys kept you from taking a shorter route around the triangle in Jordan Lake, they didn't mind you going longer.  I was finally getting into a good rhythm and then realized that I wasn't getting hit by arms and legs.  I looked up to see that I had drifted way off course.  I had now turned my triangle into a diamond as I took the best tangent possible to get back on course.  Nice... was just one of the socially appropriate words I was saying in my head.  Oh well, I can't whine about it. It wasn't going to change anything.  It was obvious that I was going to have a longer swim than I was planning to do.  Do Work! ok did it... not sure how long but it was more than 1.2 in about 1:07
Ok I survived the swim! Now onto the bike.  You know.. just 56 miles of rolling hills in Wake County. hmmmm  I feel like I forgot something...
Actually a fun ride but it was getting hot....hmmm... did I forget something?
The bike went well overall.  I had done a sub 3 hour time on flatlands in training so to do a 3:25ish in a race on rolling hills, I was happy.  My friend Josh Mitchell passed me at about mile 17 on the bike despite my age group advantage head start.

The first part of the run lasted about a half mile before I decided that it was ok to walk! Yep my legs were spent.  Recovering from my ankle injury took a toll on my endurance.  Sure, I would have been tired anyway but the run should have been ok even if it meant slowing down.  I soon took off but after a few miles I met a guy with a pirate shirt or something on.  I decided that heck it seemed like a good excuse to slow down and talk a bit.  He soon stopped and I decided it was a good idea for me too.  He said he was feeling really blah and told me he had heart surgery in the last year or so.  Neil Rowerdink would soon become a brother of endurance. I actually caught a second wind and was feeling relatively ok but was scared to leave Neil after talking to him.  We stuck together and ran short distances and walked and repeated.  Eventually, Neil decided to walk it in.  At this time I asked him if he'd be ok and we wished each other luck.  At this point, the hard part was done and I didn't mind the slower time since it was an automatic PR.  I made another pirate friend and all was good in the world.  I continued of course at a slow and steady pace.  CC Wilkins, my childhood scouts friend, and I crossed paths on a loop path but he was several miles ahead of me.  I later met up with Kyle Varnell and ran about a half mile with him but after I stopped at the Tricredible Support Station I looked up and he was gone.  I was happy about the Tricred station.  Legends like Phil Rowan were in grass skirts goofing off and keeping everything light.  It was great to see them and I was able to see them twice as we had to do the loop with them again before leaving the area.
After leaving that area, there was plenty left of course.  I met up with Tonya Winfield.  I had heard of her but never actually officially met or talked with this great tricred.  We stayed together and helped each other fight through the last part.  She was awesome and I really appreciated it.  She was a younger cat though so she was technically about an hour ahead of me.  I think I will be known as the slowest tricred to ever do a half Ironman :)
YES!! The finish line awaits!!

What a great feeling! Sure, it was slower than planned but considering everything from a basketball ankle injury to the heat, rolling hills, and supporting a fellow pirate I was very happy! I had just finished my first triathlon!
let's face it.. even guys like some bling too ;)
Here I am celebrating with Bert Kelly!
Whoa! Now I know what I forgot!! Sunscreen!!!
My number was sun tattooed on my for about a year until the next Raleigh half IM.
Another badge of endurance right? right.
Next adventure?