The idea of the SAME cafe is simple. You have lunch or dinner and you pay what you can. In other words, you can donate a dollar or you can donate $20. It's up to you.
From the SAME cafe's web site:
"Hunger is a Problem
The idea of the SAME cafe is simple. You have lunch or dinner and you pay what you can. In other words, you can donate a dollar or you can donate $20. It's up to you.
From the SAME cafe's web site:
"Hunger is a Problem
Let's start with the bad news.
As you may recall flushed by my short course Clydesdale victory in Chicago, I registered for the Harvest Moon Half Ironman triathlon as it is the long course Clydesdale & Athena National Championships. It was also a week after Ironman Wisconsin.
The bad news is that the wheels pretty much came off the cart at about mile 8 on the run. I got to a point yesterday when I had nothing in the tank.
Thanks to all of your help and letter witting.You guys are just the best and I really appreciate all of your help!
I have just received some great news from Timberline Timing:
I spoke with Capri Events this morning regarding your results for the Accenture Chicago Triathlon. Although there is no record of you being weighed in at the Clydesdale booth, they have agreed to move you to your respective Clydesdale category. The results will be updated on the website by the end of business today and your award will be mailed to you in approximately two weeks.
Timberline Timing Systems
But I can't help but feel that we (age group athletes) deserve better. So here's my reply:
So I got an email back from the folks at Capri Events (the people who put on the Chicago Accenture Triathlon) about my not getting a place on the Clydesdale podium.
I say folks because the email was not signed, so I don't know who sent it.
The complete text of the email is below:
The results show that you were in Clydesdale category zero which means
you failed to weigh in at the expo and are not eligible for Clydesdale
awards. They posted your results so that you could still see your
times for the event.
My total official race count is now well into the triple digits and I can promise you that for me at least there is no such thing as a perfect race.
Indeed in my eyes the real test of an athlete is not how he or she performs when all is going well, but how they handle themselves when their day gets on the fast train heading South.
That’s what I kept wondering as I flew down the backside of Loveland Pass.
There really is no feeling like descending fast on a bike after a huge climb. You really feel like you’ve just sprouted wings. After hours of slogging it up hill at some ridiculously tedious and painfully slow pace (in fact, I do believe a very energetic inch worm passed me as I plodded up the pass), the descent feels like you are an immediate contender to win the Tour de France.
I was flying down the hill, but a small voice in the back of my mind kept screaming to slow down. It was almost 10 years ago that I had done this very same descent for the first time on my mountain bike retrofitted with street tires. It was my first taste of mountain riding. I just climbed the hardest pass of my life so I was jubilant to be flying down this very same road tucked into a very precarious and very silly aero position on a bike designed for mountain trials, and not fast descents.
It was just before a very dangerous and steep curve that I heard a sound that at first meant nothing to me, but today scares the hell out of me. It was loud pop or ping…almost a muffled shot gun blast. I was descending at about 45-miles-an hour heading toward a curve with a thousand foot drop just past the stubby guard rail.
Immediately my bike started to buck and bob like a crazed bull with a hornet in its ear. The back end of the bike wobbled so furiously that my vision blurred. I jumped on the brakes and the rear one pulsated as it caught and released in a frantic attempt to slow the bike down.
The only thing that saved my life that day (for I was heading straight for the guardrail and there was no doubt in my mind that I would catapult over it and into the valley thousands of feet below) was the fact that the spoke that popped was on my back wheel.
If you have ever had a spoke break you’ll know that in an instant the wheel goes out of true. This is usually a minor problem, but when you are flying down a mountain on a mountain bike with well over two hundred pounds on it the wheel can easily pancake. This recently happened to a friend of mine who did not walk away from the fall.
I was so very lucky that it was the rear wheel and that I was able to use the front break to stop just inches from the guardrail of doom. As I now flew down this very same road, this frightening scenario kept replaying in my head over and over again. By the third showing I was on my brakes. I suspect that it is the ability to ignore that little screaming voice in the back of the head that either crushes or creates some of the greatest cyclist in the world.
This Tour wannabe was all over the brakes. I had nothing to prove and two significant mountain passes still looming in my future.
They officially call it Swan Mountain Pass on the road sign but for some reason the organizers of the Triple Bypass have completely ignored it in their marketing. It comes between Loveland Pass and Vail Pass, but you’ll hear no mention of it in the official tile of the ride as in Quadruple Bypass.
I suspect that it would be the straw that would break the camels back for many riders when signing up for the ride. “Sure honey, I think I can do three mountain passes and 120-miles in the saddle,” the conversation might go. But four mountain passes, well that’s just one too many.
And that’s exactly how I was feeling climbing up Swan Mountain Pass. I was ready for Vail Pass, but instead I had to climb this bonus pass. Which would normally not be a big deal, but when you are blown, cracked, exploded like a walnut dropped on a busy semi truck clogged interstate, even a small hill is a problem. A small Mountain Pass might as well be the summit of Everest.
There comes a point for us hairy legged everyman (and I suspected even shaved legged everywoman) in any long ride when the legs explode. The symptoms are simple and straightforward. One of the large muscle groups in the legs cramps up to the point of immobility. Oh yes...and it hurts like hell.
The muscles just cramped up and stubbornly refuse to move. They let you know they mean business by sending waves of painful stabbing agony into your brain when you try to so much as unlock or twitch the seized up muscle group.
This happened to the muscles on the inside of my thighs on the way up Loveland Pass. Funny thing that; I didn’t even know that I had muscles on the inside of my thighs.
Now these same muscles were just screaming at me again saying if I even so much as try to put down any serious power they would go on strike and stand at rigid attention until I got into the nearest Sag Wagon.
So it was only with kind and very gentle persuasion that I was able to coax them up and over Swan Mountain Pass. By the time I got to the second to last rest stop at the bottom of the pass I was ready to call it a day. But in for a dime, in for a dollar, as I like to say. So I got back on the bike and headed out.
Needless to say by this point (some 85-miles and 8 hours into the ride) my ass was on fire and I was running on pure stubborn determination. I had my head down and I was now on this death ride to the very end. You know when you get into that mental zone when nothing matters but the finish. In fact I was so into the zone that a car crash on the road next to me didn’t even garner my attention. I heard the skid followed by the sound of crunching plastic and metal and looked up as two cars collided in a nasty fender bender.
I just put my head down and kept pedaling. There were tons of police all around and besides the only thing I could have done at that moment was to stop, and tumble from the bike like a newly cut tree, and hope that someone would stand me back up, while I tried not to add to the carnage.
With the accident behind me I now had about a 15 mile climb to the top of the last pass. Vail Pass loomed in my future Moby Dick…huge, frightening and unconcerned.
I began the assent in earnest at Copper Mountain. I had climbed this pass from the Copper side many times. It usually takes about a half hour and makes for a very pleasant ride next to a babbling stream. Happy-go-lucky vacationers stroll up and down the pass taking in the massive mountain vistas while breathing in the hundreds of intoxicating wild flower fragrances.
I didn’t see any of this. All I saw was the cement path about three feet in front of me. I begged, pleaded, and extorted my thigh muscles to just keep clicking over. I was now in the home stretch of the death ride and all I had to do was make it to the aid station at the top of the pass. Mercifully the organizers had put the last aid station about twenty miles from Avon. The rest of the ride was all downhill from that aid station at the top of Vail Pass.
All I had to do was make it to the top of the pass and I could coast to the finish. I knew from prior experience that the last quarter mile of the path kicks up viciously and no matter how much I wished it were not so, the path had indeed not changed. About an eighth of a mile from the summit the pass took an especially nasty left turn skyward and my legs called it quits.
That was it they said and cramped up solid like titanium. I just stood there mortified straddling my bike and watched the other riders crest the hill and stop at the aid station. I didn’t know what to do. There was no way I could get back on my bike, clip in, and continue up the hill. So I did the only thing left to me. I dismounted and goose stepped up the hill like a Nazi marching on parade before WWII dragging my bike behind me. I was embarrassed, but I was not able to bend my knees…but I was also not defeated.
When the road evened out a bit I was able to get back on the bike and climb the last few hundred feet the aid station which was just one parking lot level from the tippy top of Vail Pass.
I took on some more water and waited for the rest of the raceAthlete gang to join me. The had waited a bit longer at the previous rest stop to group up while I had gone ahead knowing they would catch me.
When they did we rode as a group to the very top of Vail Pass. This is where I almost puked. The tiny amount of effort to just ride that last little bit was a climb to far. My body was spent and I knew it. I felt like I had just completed and Ironman and now I was feeling weak, sick and all I wanted to do was lay down under a shady tree.
And this is exactly what I did when I finally coasted to the finish in Avon. Actually, I first loaded up my plate with chicken and a burger at the after ride feed. Unfortunately while my mind thought I was hungry my body refused to eat. I took a bite of the burger and a bite of chicken and just chewed at it. All I wanted to do was lay down and rest and stop moving and not puke.
It was the same look I saw on many a face next to me. Sure, there were plenty of people sitting on the grass in the setting sun munching on burgers and chatting about the day’s adventures. But there were just as many laying in the shade with that “I will not puke” look that comes from over exertion and too much sun.
Post Script: My mom picked me up and drove me back to my car some 120 miles away. To get to her car on the bike path I had to climb what I could best describe as a half story mound, miniature hill, or an overly ambitious bump in the path.
I walked up it.
After climbing for just under 10 hours with a total day’s adventure time of 12 hours, I could not mentally or physically stomach another hill.
I was climbing as well as a 220 pound guy can climb up a steep mountain pass about 60-miles into Colorado’s infamous Triple Bypass yearly bike ride.
I still had another 60-miles to go to complete the ascent and descent of three very long and steep mountain passes to get to the finish line in Avon, Colorado. I reached into my back pocket to get a gel when I lost concentration and dropped with a thud from the road like an over ripe apple onto the loose sand they were using to pad the new tarmac.
One second I was climbing and the next I was lying on the side of the road like beached whale still clipped into my pedals. About every two seconds a rider would yell out, “Are you OK?,” as I struggled to free my bound feet.
I was totally fine except for the fact that I couldn’t get free from my shackle-like clips. I had just taken the world’s slowest fall into the world’s softest sand. It was like plopping into fresh powder, except warmer and much more embarrassing.
After struggling for about 5 minutes like an unturned turtle I figured out it was easier just to slip out of my shoes and be done with it.
Standing only in my socks by the side of the road I was happy to have restored what little dignity I still had left as I got back on my road bike for the rest of this crazy adventure.
When I first moved to Colorado I had of course heard about the Triple Bypass. It was a legendary ride for a few crazy types who were willing to try to ride just over 120 miles with three mountain passes and over 10,000 feet of elevation gain. Just to put it into perspective that’s about the average day in the Alps for the boys on the Tour de France.
And just to put it into even more perspective please note that I don’t and indeed have never shaved my legs. That’s about the level of rider I am when compared to the serious cyclist.
I knew I was in for a long hard day when I started the ride at 6:30 a.m. with a nice steep 2-hour warm up climb to the top of the first pass. There was no dinner, no foreplay, no pleasant conversation…just a sharp right turn after I mounted my bike and right into the granny gear. In fact, I have never before in my life spent so much time in such a teeny tiny gear.
As much as I love my BMC Time Machine, this was no time to for bravery so I wisely opted to ride my Giant road bike with a triple gear for the Triple Bypass. I did see one guy (from Manchester, England as it turned out) on a triathlon Scott time trial bike, but he was not nearly as amused as I was by his valiant struggle up the mountains.
I reached the top of the first Pass at 8:30 a.m. feeling pretty proud and smug. I had now covered about the first 12 miles of the ride in just under two hours. When I did the math my heart sank, I was averaging just about 6-miles-hour. Let’s keep this perspective train rolling. The boys on the tour climbed two very similar mountains in the Alps today and the leaders averaged about 39-kilometers an hour…which is about 1 million more miles an hour than I could ever dream about.
Well there was nothing I could do about it but fill up my empty water bottles and begin the long descent to Idaho Springs. That part was easy. Now I’m sure that no one would ever mistake me for a contender for the “King of the Mountains” polka dot jersey. I’m not small, I’m not thin, I’m certainly not Columbian and I’m certainly not dancing on my bike as I struggle up even the smallest grade.
I can, however descend like the wind. All that weight and bulk that are such a huge anchor on the climb magically turn into a powerful booster rocket on the descent. Usually very few cyclists can pass me on a downhill unless I sit up and let them. So naturally I really love this part of the mountain rides. Unfortunately, in the mountains, what goes down has to go up. All too soon I was climbing again and this time up I-70 toward Loveland Pass.
This is by far the worst stretch of the Triple Bypass as all two thousand riders must negotiate about a 5-mile stretch of the highway just before the Loveland Ski area. And this part of the ride is not only dangerous, as cars whizz by at over seventy miles an hour, but also smelly and dirty, as huge semitrailer trucks and overloaded RV’s struggle up toward the Eisenhower Tunnel spewing huge clouds of spent diesel fuel.
It came as a great relief when I saw the exit toward Loveland Pass because I knew the highway would soon be behind me and the lunch stop lay just minutes ahead.
Lunch was fast PB and J sandwich followed by a few slices of watermelon. I really wish the organizers of such epic rides took the lead from Ironman and provided some Coke or Pepsi at these rest stops. For me nothing tops the tank up on a huge effort quite like a bit of cold sugar water with massive amounts of caffeine.
I stopped drinking soda a few years ago because it really is a huge and needless sugar bomb when combined with a typical lunch or dinner, but during an Ironman or Epic ride a huge sugar bomb fortified with caffeine is just what my body craves.
Instead I filled up my water bottle with water and plopped in a Nuun tablet. When I was first sponsored by Nuun I wasn’t really sure of how my body would react to the new stuff, but over the last several months I have really come to appreciate the ease and convenience of the little tablets. Unlike the mystery aide drink they had on the ride, the Nuun is always the right consistency and taste. When they mix up the power drinks at the rest stop they always seem to use different amounts of powder and this means that sometimes it taste just right but most times it is either too strong or too week.
I actually used up an entire bottle of Nuun tablets on the ride, and I was so happy to have such a convenient and personal supply of my very own perfect hydration mix.
After recovering from my fall, I met up with some of the other brave raceAthletes at the top of Loveland pass. It was so nice to see a few friendly faces among the sea of strangers. That’s really one of the greatest parts of team raceAthlete…the ability to show up at a race or a ride and know that you have somebody to share your pain and/or joy.
I was now just over halfway through the ride. In fact I had finished the hardest part of the ride. What I didn’t know was that the Triple Bypass would throw me a bit of curve.
Next time I take on the rest of the Quadruple Bypass as I head for the finish line in Avon.
As the old Chinese saying goes, "May you live in interesting times!" was certainly true this weekend at Barb's Ironman race in Idaho.
The fun all started when she went for a last long swim on Monday morning at the health club and came back with a raging eye infection. The water somehow irritated her right eye to the point that it swelled shut. After a brief visit to urgent care she was given a prescription for antibiotics and told she had a bad case of pink eye. The doctor said give it a few days and it will be good to go on Sunday.
So I was a bit surprised to see the eye still red and puffy on Thursday when she flew to meet me here in Coeur d' Alene. It was pretty obvious that it was not getting better.
On Saturday morning she went for a practice swim while I waited to try on a wet suit.
When she came out of the water I thought the race was over.
Her eye was swelled up and almost shut again. The lake (swim) conditions were horrible. The water was cold (60 degrees) but the wind had whipped the lake up into a frenzy of waves, white caps and whirling water.
Her goggles had allowed a bit of water in and her eye had blown up again. To make matters worse, when the bad eye watered, the other one did as well making it almost impossible for her to see as she tried to swim.
After another drip to urgent care here, she was given an antibiotic ointment and eye patch (to help keep the medicine in her eye) and told to race at her own risk.
We thought the race was over. Saturday was an emotional roller coaster for Barb as we hunted for a dive mask and hoped for the best.
Sunday morning dawned early and her eye showed a little bit of improvement but certainly no where near race ready state.
We walked to the water and waited for the 7:00 a.m. start. The wind had once again whipped up the waves and it looked liked this might be her shortest Ironman. One drop of lake water in the eye and the race would be done for her.
So we were completely surprised when the the race organizers announced (for the first time ever!) that because of the horrible winds and water, and the fact that 1000 newbies were racing...athletes would be given the choice to race a duathlon. In other words, skip the swim and still be allowed to compete. Times
would not count to toward qualifying for Kona, but that wasn't important to her anyway.
She ran an incredible 4:20 marathon after a very hilly and hard 112 mile Bike ride.
I've never seen her run so strong as Tommy and I were lucky enough to bike the last 3 miles with her to the end.
Click HERE to see and read how Jacob got into the Boston Marathon (he actually didn't get in with a real race number but instead did a bandit run), lost almost 100 pounds to do the race, and still managed to finish dead last in just about 9 hours.
From his Blog:
"In what can only be described at the most horrific experience of my life. I, Jacob Seilheimer, completed the Boston Marathon...
And I'm damn proud of it."
I immediately noticed that the big bumblebee guy ahead of me had a 37 on his calf. At the Chicago triathlon, the world’s largest triathlon with over eight thousand athletes, they start the race in waves. They put all of the direct competitors into these waves, and instead of writing your age on your calf, they brandish your calve with your wave number.
So when I noticed that the big bumblebee guy just ahead of me had a 37 on his calf, just like me, I knew the race was on.
I decided to call him the big bumblebee guy because:
1) He was big like me.
2) He wore a bright yellow and black race suite.
3) He had flown by me like an angry bee on the bike.
Now we were on the run just about a mile from the finish. For those of you who have never raced the Chicago Triathlon the word “big” best describes the race. At any given time you are completely surrounded by hundreds of other athletes. It is not uncommon to ride 4 or 5 a breast on the bike. The run resembles that of a big city marathon, with a huge snaking procession of athletes pounding the pavement.
It is very rare indeed to be able to pick out your direct competition.
Now theoretically we’re all competing for the fastest overall course time, but in reality as an age-group triathlete you’re more likely racing the clock and yourself for a personal best. Or even more likely you just want to finish the race running. Or even more likely, especially if you are a newbie, you just want to finish the race.
So it was something completely new and unexpected for me when I found myself on the run actually racing another athlete. Over the years and over the dozens of triathlons I’ve never actually raced another athlete head to head. I’m usually by myself trying to finish the race before it gets dark…like at my last Ironman. Or I’m racing, but because of the way the race is structured, I never certain if the other athletes around me are in my age group. This means that they could or could not be competing with me.
With this uncertainly I tend to ignore the potential competition and focus on my stopwatch as a way to motivate myself. I think that’s the way most of us age-groupers race.
So here I was at mile 5 and just minutes before the finish line of the world’s largest triathlon with the big bumblebee guy, my direct competition, dead ahead of me. In a single heartbeat the stopwatch became meaningless and it was Game On!
I had of course seen this type of race situation a hundred times before on television. You know when two triathletes or marathon runners are coming to the end of a really close and thrilling race and they are running inches in front of each other.
It was just like that for me now. I was just behind the big bumblebee guy and we racing for the podium position. Of course I didn’t that this race was for an age group podium position, which it turned out it was, but I knew my time was fast and that time it really counted.
So I of course made my first mistake. I passed the big bumblebee guy running up a small hill. Now many of you may be picturing the dramatic end of a very close ITU race were the triathletes all but dive across the finish line to win the race. Or perhaps you are imaging the Boston Marathon were the elite runner’s surge from a 5:00 minute mile pace to a 4:30 to test each other’s strength and resolve.
No no no, this was not my move. You would be completely wrong. I suspect if you had been watching this race from your house and we had come running by it would have looked like two chunky neighbors out for a Sunday jog with one passing the other in a sort of slow motion painful spurt of energy.
And of course my mistake was that I did this going up a hill. Because the second I passed him he of course noticed the big black 37 on my calf. What happened? He immediately sped up and passed me just as the hill flattened out. You must realize that when two big boys race up a hill at the end of an Olympic distance race nobody is going to zip or indeed surge ahead.
And so it was now, we were winding our way through the last mile of the course with him having upped the tempo to perhaps a blinding fast 9:40 mile pace. Just to put this in perspective for you, a professional Kenyan or Ethiopian runner cannot actually run so painfully slowly, or indeed match our pace until they are well over the age of 95.
But here we were locked in our own slow motion battle. It was exact at this moment that all of my sitting on couch and watching television paid off. Perhaps if he had spent more time in front of the TV he would have won this day.
I recalled the invisible string that attaches runners racing at the same pace. Or at least I recalled the television commentators talking about this invisible string. All I had to do was to break the string that bound us together.
Lucky for me the racecourse took a slight downward direction. On the small I kicked in the afterburners and blew by him at perhaps a stupendously dizzying 9:10 pace, and never looked back.
“Never ever looked back,” the television commentators always say. “This is a sign of weakness and defeat.”
So sprinted to the end using the powerful pull of a hearty lunch to get me across the finish line ahead of the big bumblebee guy. In fact the call of a good Chinese lunch was so strong that I didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony.
It wasn’t until I got back home to Colorado that a friend of mine said they had called out my name at the awards ceremony. I had take 2nd place in my age group and more importantly…I apparently cracked the big bumblebee guy like a walnut.
It just goes to show the power of television and good Chinese take out.
Note: To watch the videos included in this race report you may want to download the free flash player (if you don’t have it installed on your computer already) by clicking HERE:
It was hot and getting hotter. I was just starting the second loop of the bike course when I made my biggest mistake of the race. I accidentally grabbed two bottles of sport drink instead of my usual one bottle of water and one bottle of PowerBar liquid glue.
The thermometer was now well into the nineties and I was starting to feel the heat waves coming up from the asphalt. I reached down and grabbed my water bottle and squirted some on my hands. About two minutes later I noticed that my hands felt sticky so grabbed the water bottle again and really hosed down my hands and handlebars.
I really wasn’t thinking about what I was doing, because I was doing some painful math in my head.
You don’t have to be Einstein to do the ugly math. If the swim took me just over an hour (1:11 to be exact) and the first loop of the bike took 3:15, I was looking at around 8 to 10-hours of hot and painful racing in my very near future.
Ironman is always like that. You go through some of the biggest physical and emotional hills and valleys. I was now in the deepest valley. The initial exuberance of the start of the race had worn off. My best event (the swim) was just a distant memory and my worst event (the run) loomed ahead like an angry cloud covered Mt. Everest. My legs were starting to feel a bit crappy and crampy, and I was very hot.
So I took my bottle of water and squirted it over my helmet and head and down my back. It was at this exact instance that I hit the very lowest point of my race. I simultaneously realized that I had just squirted PowerBar liquid glue (as I called it) all over myself because I had grabbed two bottles of this stuff at the last aide station instead of my usual bottle of water.
My helmet was now glued to my head, my hands were glued to my handlebars, and the very expensive and finely made Shimano gears in my shifters were glued to themselves.
Worse yet the next the aid station with water was 20 kilometers down the road and the local bees had joined the party.
The good news, at least as far as my race time was concerned, was that I was now well and truly motivated to push very hard to the next aid station. I was like a crazed fox on a hunt determined to out run the chasing pack of hungry bees. I blew past the other competitors as if they were standing still with a cloud of swarming bees in close pursuit. Up the hills I heard their hungry buzzing, down the hills I laughed out load and yelled out to them “Catch me if you can you Austrian Mofo’s!”
Some of the locals Austrians racers gave me an inquisitive look as I passed them as they either didn’t know:
a) that I was being chased by the Austrian vice bee squad or
b) the American definition of “Mofo.”
Lucky the other racers were not the right demographic for American rap vids that featured such colorful terms.
And to think that it was just a few hours earlier that I had one of the best swims of my life.
The Ironman Austria swim is probably one of the most beautiful and unusual swims of any of the two dozen or so Ironman around the world. The swim looks like a “P”. The top round part of the “P” is in a warm crystal clear alpine lake surrounded by jagged mountains. The bottom line of the P is down a spectator packed canal. It is sort of hard to describe what it is like swimming down a canal lined with hundreds of crazy cheering and whopping fans on both sides.
But you can see for yourself. Just click on the short video my lovely wife took below to see what this unusual swim looks like.
The funny thing about this video is that it looked and felt completely different from my point of view. As I watch the video it just looks like a bunch of wetsuit clad folks slowly and gently swimming down a canal as if we are all just out for a group Sunday morning swim.
But when you are in the maelstrom of the canal it feels completely different. You’ve got racers trying to swim over and under and around you all the while you are trying to swim over and under and around them to keep them from constantly kicking you in the face.
You also have tons of the local canal water-weeds that apparently have specifically evolved to wrap themselves around your neck, arms and legs as you try to swim over and under and around the guys ahead of you who are kicking you in the face.
It’s sort of wet and wild version of a Three Stooges show except that you are Curly and everybody else is slapping you around like Mo on a bender.
I was so relived to get into the transition that I didn’t even notice that it was a coed tent. This fact was made abundantly clear to me when I looked up from the bench I was sitting on putting on my bike shoes to behold a wet and extremely furry beaver just inched from my nose.
The owner of this untrimmed furry beast had just bent over to take remove her swimsuit placing her white butt inches from my nose. WOW, now that’s something you don’t see, nor do you want to see, everyday.
Have they not heard of waxing in this part of the world? Perhaps Ironman Austria needs to supply the Ironwoman razor in the 2007 goodie bags.
Taking my own advice I did not dilly-dally in T2. I sprinted out of the tent to spot my wife and son just outside transition. The next time I would see them would be in the town center where my wife sat watching the race at a local café enjoying a local brew. She would later go on to remark that this was the only and indeed best way to do an Ironman.
The Austrian run course is pretty interesting in that it is basically a giant figure eight with the transition and finish areas being right in the middle of the eight. This means that you get to run around the figure eight twice.
The best part of course is the finish line. You can get a great feel for the finish by watching the video below. If you watch past the point where my son is like bored out of his mind you’ll notice a Mexican racer run in holding a sign above his head as he finishes the race. If you listen and watch carefully you’ll see that he used this very moment to get down on his knees and propose matrimony.
Does his fiancée accept his sweaty proposal? Are the other racers who finish at the same time angry to have their time in the spotlight stolen? Does my son die of boredom? Watch the video and find out.
I think the hardest thing about running a marathon during an Ironman is starting in the afternoon. For a traditional marathon you train for 4 months, eat a good dinner, go to bed earlier, have a proper breakfast, line up at the cool crack of down and bang you go for it.
If you are like me at an Ironman, you start the marathon dead tired, hungry, sweaty, crampy, and in the middle of the hottest part of the day. You start the run knowing you are looking down a loaded double barrel shotgun of pain. That’s why you never want to dilly-dally in T2...because if you think about the marathon just a little too much...you’ll most likely never leave the tent.
Unlike my previous race I actually felt pretty good the first six miles and last six miles of the race. It was the middle part of the run that was really hard. I suspect that this has to do with what I call the TWC (Time Warp Coefficient). This every man principal states that times passes during a race in an inverse coefficient to distance to the finish.
So for instance the TWC on the bike means that the first 140 Kilometers of the race passed by at pretty even intervals. (They put a signat each ten kilometer mark on the course and keep in mind that the bike part of the Ironman is 180 kilometers long.
But it seemed to take a little longer for the 150 K marker to come up, and a lot longer for the 160 K marker. It seemed like 800-years before I got to the 170 K marker, but the last 10K just flew by.
It was the same way on the run. By the time I got to the last 10 K, or 6 miles point, I was like a horse that smells the hay in the barn. I felt terrific and I just flew home to the finish.
And that is the lesson I learned from doing Ironman Austria. For every painful deep dark valley you swim, bike, or run through there will always be a glorious mountain where you feel like the king of the world. Where every heart beat is filled with the joy of life and your body serges with power and strength.
I had three simple Everyman goals for my race:
1) Finish Strong
2) Finish the bike part before the winners finishes the race
3) Finish before dark
I experienced every emotion from bitter depression to jubilant glee. But most importantly I felt incredibly alive. Every part of my body and soul ached with the knowledge of the pain and joy of life.
I suppose that why I do these races. To feel the worst and the best that being alive has to offer.
I suspect that when I’m fully recovered I’ll forget the pain, go online, pick a new location to race, and close my eyes and click “submit payment” yet again.
It was one in the morning on a busy Friday night and we had just pulled into the city center of Klagenfurt after what can only be described as the journey of the damned. We had been traveling for over 30-hours and I was a bit loopy. My son was asleep in the back of the car, but my wife simply looked up from the map and immediately assessed the situation.
“That’s one eager prostitute,” she said. “You better step on the gas.”
My mind jumped into gear at about the same time as the car and we sped away leaving the blonde in a cloud of diesel smoke with a forlorn look on her face.
“Welcome to Klagenfurt,” I said and wondered what sort of Ironman had come to race.
We had made it but I would never recommend this journey of the damned to anyone contemplating starting an Ironman in just under 30-hours.
I knew we were in for a rough trip when we lost our passports even before the journey began. I just didn’t know how bad it would really get.
I got a good hint sitting in the plane on the runway in Philadelphia waiting to take of to Frankfurt. The captain announced, “Just to let you know we are now 128th for take off, and that means we should have you in the air in about a half hour.”
For my nine-year-old son I always like to break any long trip into sections. So this trip had 4 sections.
1) The drive from home to the airport which was punctuated by the lost passports (Click HERE to read about it)
2) The flight from Denver to Philadelphia which was uneventful
3) The Flight from Philly to Frankfurt which was now stalled on the runway
4) The drive from Frankfurt to Klagenfurt, which I had idiotically estimated, would take about six hours.
I looked out the window of the plane and I saw what looked like rush hour in New York on the tarmac. I’ve never seen so many planes snaking around the airport in a dizzying line of congestion. After another half-hour the captain came back on and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen we are now 123rd for take off, I expect to have you in the air in half hour.
Most of the Indians on my flight smiled and shook their heads approvingly. I suspect that they must be pretty used to waiting in lines in India as they seemed to really appreciate the captain’s optimistic BS.
But after the captain made this same announcement an additional three times even the Indians were getting a bit restless.
We did manage to take off before we ran out of fuel and before the crew had to be changed out, but nobody was happy…especially the crew who seemed ready to throw us our unhappy meals from the back of the plane.
But for now I was blissfully unaware that every German in Frankfurt was busy loading up his or her car for the weekend drive down to Austria.
Instead I stood looking into the gapping maw of the oversized baggage carrousel.
All the other bags had come and departed with their owners, but my bike was nowhere to be seen. This was my worst nightmare come true. I pictured myself doing the race on rented and rusty 10-year-old Mountain bike with huge fat knobby tires.
By the way, my fear was indeed pretty real as I happen to overhear a guy the day before the race on his cell phone begging a local bike shop to rent him something other than a mountain bike.
As I filled out the missing luggage forms my stomach sank to a new all time low. The desk clerk informed me that most likely the bike was still in Philadelphia (bad news) but that it would arrive on tomorrow’s flight (good news) and they would put it on the next flight to Klagenfurt (really good news) which would mean I’d have the bike on Sunday morning (really really crap news as that was race day).
My shoulders sank as I thanked him, turned around and began slowly walking out to customs. It was than that the gapping maw of the oversized baggage carrousel open, coughed, and spat out my bike. If I had left 30-seconds earlier, I would have missed my bike. They informed me that they had forgotten it on the plane. I suspect the huge size and cumbersome dimensions of the massive bike box made it really hard to find.
The car was from France with French plates, which explained two things:
1) The eagerness of the prostitute to show me her wares.
2) The navigation system only showed the topographical information on the screen. This meant that the arrow representing the car kind of just floated in space over rivers and next to lakes. I eventually checked and the car only had the street CD for France loaded in the system.
How French is that?
I can just see the selling car dealer saying, “Monsieur but why would you want to go anywhere besides France?”
The German word for traffic jam is “Stau”. I know this because for the next 13-hours I saw this sign on every autobahn in the Federal Republic. It seems that Friday afternoon is certainly not the best time to test out the top speed of your new Mercedes on Germany’s legendary speeed-limitless autobahns.
I calculated that it would take us 6 hours to go the 600 kilometers to Klagenfurt. This is after all a very conservative 100 Kilometers, or 60 mph per hour.
In fact it took us 3 hours to just get to Wurtzburg from Frankfurt which is a mere 90 Kilometers away. That meant we had averaged only 20 miles-per-hour on the autobahn the first three hours of the trip.
By the time we arrived in Klagenfurt at one in the morning my right foot hurt so much, from constantly pushing and releasing the accelerator pedal, that I would have been happy to pay the eager lady of the evening for a simple foot massage.
Next Time: IM Austria Race Report
The doctor came and asked me if I felt bad.
I felt really bad like I was going to pass out and puke at the same time.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself. My real Ironman Austria saga really started about 72 hours earlier and 5000 miles away from Klagenfurt in Boulder with my stepfather who asked, as we drove to the airport to catch our flight to Europe, if we had our tickets?
We did, and if we had our passports…we did not.
It was at this exact moment that my real Ironman adventure began.
But let me cut to the chase for a second before I spill the beans on what turned into the Ironman journey of the damned to Austria.
There are three things that happened at the race that I will remember as long as I live:
3) Running across the finish line with my family as the announcer yelled “Roman Mica…you are an Ironman,” to the hoots and hollers of a grandstand full of half drunk Austrians. (It should be noted here that it is somewhat unusual to actually hear the words….Insert your name…you are an Ironman, as the announcer would have to say it about 2500 times during a typical race. This would not only get boring and painful to the gathered crowd but pretty tiresome pretty quick for all involved. I managed to hear those precious words as I, by sheer luck, happened to have befriended the English announcer of the race the night before.
2) Completing the entire bike portion of the race with zero, zip, nada mechanical and/or flat issues.
1) Coming back to my hotel room, running to the bathroom and opening my toiletry travel case and seeing the white and blue tube of Desitin (diaper rash ointment) sticking out of the inner pocket.
However, I can tell you that after a 180-kilometer bike (the race was in Europe after all) and marathon in 95-degree heat the boys got pretty raw and red. In fact the entire nether region with all the serious private parts was as red as a freshly boiled lobster.
The problem is that this chaffing issue with the boys or girl, for you female triathletes, is pretty common but often ignored as it really has no formal label that you can discuss without a wink and a giggle or two. So just like the conservative right has turned global warming into climate change, to make it less threatening and more socially acceptable, I now propose that we rename this very serious affliction to something much more acceptable.
I suggest we call it a “snake bike”
It not only sort of describes what happens when you rub something the wrong way for 8 hours, but more importantly it sounds pretty darn cool.
With this new label you can now have a very real and serious conversation with your fellow triathletes about how your race went. Here’s an example:
Triathlete #1: “So Jim how did the Disney half Ironman race go?”
Triathlete #2: “It went great Sandy, I kicked some Mickey butt…except that I got a really nasty snake bite on the bike.
Triathlete #1: “Ouch I hate when that happens. I got the same thing last week.”
Triathlete #2: “Wow what a coincidence Sandy, what race did it happen at?”
Triathlete #1: “It wasn’t during a race…come to think of it Jim let’s not go there. Nice weather we’re having!”
Back in Boulder 72-hours before the race I wasn’t thinking about Desitin or snakebites. I was wondering how we were going to get on the plane to Europe without passports.
We quickly returned home as we could not find the passports in the car and began to tear apart the entire contents of our well prepared bags on the front lawn. It kinda looked like a front lawn garage sale (you know when it is about noon and the garage sailors have torn into everything and you’ve given up trying to put it back in and sort of logical order). I sguess we lwere ucky as this was a Thursday or somebody would have asked me how much I wanted for the bike helmet. Sadly the passports were still missing.
At this point my well-laid plans and packing were out the window as I saw my second Ironman crash and burn before my eyes.
In hindsight I had made some pretty stupid travel decisions that would haunt me for the next two days. I opted to fly on Thursday for a Sunday race in Europe (remember that you lose a day traveling to the old world). This meant that we had no margin of error in our travel schedule. It also meant that I would race more or less completely jetlagged.
The latest you could check in for the race was on Saturday morning and our flight would only get us to Frankfurt on Friday afternoon. And Frankfurt is still 400-miles from Klagenfurt.
As we searched in vain for the missing passports my stomach began to do back flips and I wondered what IM triathlon Gods I had pissed off to deserve such a fate. Just as the situation looked the bleakest and we had given up making the flight and the trip my mom suggest that we check our other car.
And guess what? Three passports sparkled on the floor (were they had fallen from my wife’s purse) like diamonds in the rough. We stuffed the clothes back into the bags and jumped into my stepfather’s new Toyota. I flogged it mercilessly down the highway doing my best impression of Michael Schumacher on a tear at Monte Carlo. That is if Michael Schumacher drove an under-powered four cylinder blue SUV.
We made it to the airport by the skin of our teeth. But had I known that this was only the beginning of the journey of the damned I probably would have chucked the passports into the nearest garbage can and headed to airport bar for very cold and very tall beer.
I wish I could blame my lack of training on my results, but I did train.
I wish I could blame a broken collarbone, but I was break free.
I wish I could blame a mechanical mishap, but the only thing that really went wrong was I broke my sunglasses before the bike, and that’s no real reason to really slow down.
I wish I could blame my cabin mates on a long night of partying, or even excessive snoring, but they were great.
As my friend Bolder likes to say, I cracked like a walnut on the run.
The only consolation I had was sitting at the finish eating my pizza and listening to the race announcer. As the time ticked well into the 7-hour pace he kept repeating. “and here comes another big guy crossing the line with a strong finish.”
The fact is that us Clydesdales don’t tend to do well in the heat. And the hotter it gets, the worse we do. We are just too big and carrying too much weight to perform well when the temperature rises into the mid-to-high nineties.
The funny thing is that I don’t really consider myself all that big. I currently weigh 218 pounds, but I really think of myself as a smaller guy.
“If they allowed drafting in this race I’d be tucked in behind you,” the small guy said as he passed me on the bike.
It’s not until people actually mention something to me, like the guy on the bike, that I realize that I’m all that big.
But I certainly felt every ounce of my 218 Clydesdales poundage on the run. I started out strong for about the first half mile to the cheers of the run exit crowd. I was well within cracking a personal best time. All I had to do was run a sub 2:15 half marathon. This should not be a problem for me. Just a few months ago I ran a 1:55 half in Moab. Click HERE for that race review.
The general rule of thumb is to expect to go about ten percent slower on a triathlon run than your normal run time for any given distance.
So theoretically a sub 2:15 half marathon time was well within my reach. My best half IM to date has been a 5:55 so I knew I could crack it, but the course and sun had other plans.
All too quickly the 3 loop run at Disney became a death survival shuffle through Death Valley.
And by snaky I don’t mean that it twisted around like a snake. No it was perfectly straight. But I do mean that black angry looking five-foot python that slithered just across the path in front of my causing me to slam on the brakes. Now keep in mind that my brakes (read calve muscles) were pretty gone at this point, so the sudden stop caused them to seize like a bad break job from your local Breaks-r-us hut.
My heart rate jump, the gal in the death march behind me slammed into my back, and I began jumping up and down like I had just crashed a fire ant party in bare feet.
This was the official beginning of the end. Whatever little will that still remained in my body departed like it was shoot from a cannon and I was officially toast. The rest of the run switched from trying to break a personal best to just wanting to get done and back to the cool air conditioned comfort of the Disney cabin.
The one true feeling that I was left to contemplate for the next 12-miles was that Disney really didn’t want this race on their property. They sort of grudgingly allow it as it brings in about 5000 people, but they certainly don’t encourage, or want the racers stinking up their park.
Case and point: This is the third year of the race. The first year it was a one-loop run. The second year they shortened it to a two-loop run which included a short death march on this snaky, sun-baked, uneven, shadeless and shameless unused donkey trail. This year almost 70 percent of the run was an out and back on this dusty donkey trial. I suspect next year Disney will make sure that no runners stink up their shady well-maintained, paved walking and running trials by making the entire run in the swampy cannel.
Ironman will call it the Disney swap challenge and racers will be given the choice to either run or swim the last leg of the race.
Some of you may believe that I’m exaggerating a bit. You are wrong.
The only part of my leg that was even a bit whitish after the race was the loop formed by strap that held my chip in place. To just below knees, my legs looked I had just waded through a bucket of dirty black paint. My shoes, as well as those of my cabin mates, were so filthy dirty they are now officially only good for lawn mowing duty.
It looks like I’ll be purchasing a new set of racing shoes. Not that this pair was all that fast. I finished the half marathon in just under 2:45. That would be a survival shuffle with long walks through the water stations.
My overall time was just over 6:20. This was much better than last year but for next year I would personally rename the race to the Disney Nutcracker.
Post note: Funniest thing I saw all day was a guy about 20 feet ahead of me on the bike trying to negotiate the very tight turnaround on the second out and back portion of the bike course.
He had a disk wheel so he really had to slow down to make the sharp U-turn. He kept going slower and slower and slower until he came to a complete stop, and plopped over like a fresh cut tree. TIMBER!
Dude, I’m sorry I know that must have really hurt as you looked like you were still clipped in, but it sure looked funny.
So I’ll be racing the Florida Disney Half Ironman again this weekend. You can read my review of the race from last year by clicking HERE.
I remember that it was really hot, so you can tell how thrilled I was when I checked the weather this weekend in Orlando. Race day is supposed to be a blood boiling 97 degrees. This is like the hottest day of the entire year so far in Florida.
My bad weather luck continues to haunt me. If it’s not a hurricane, it’s the Devil's day a Disney.
Oh well, I better just be prepared to be hot…very hot.
The only reason I’m doing the race is that last year was a total train wreck as I managed to break my collar bone a mere 6 weeks before the race crashing my dirt bike.
This meant that I was race ready…that is if you consider race ready six weeks of the following workouts:
Half-hour on the elliptical machine gently shuffling my feet
Half-hour on the stationary bike with my arm in a sweaty sling
5 minutes on the tread mill walking up hill
Half-hour stating at the pool wishing I could swim
Needless to say the race was a bit of let down as by mile 30 on the bike I was completely spent. I just recall a 13-mile forced death march while my legs seized like the jaws of an angry alligator mercilessly taunted by the Aussie croc hunter.
Good on ya Mate!
My finishing time was well beyond what my wife, and friend, and you would consider a reasonable time to wait in the heat at the finish line. I believe there was even some talk of calling the police and paramedics to go form a search party to look for big Clydesdale with a bum right arm.
You should have seen me on the swim. I did my own special blend of one-armed freestyle and doggy paddle. The biggest benefit of this stroke being that you drink a lot of lake water, and thus get well hydrated for the bike.
So I had to go back this year to see what I could actually do with a bit of training, and a bit of luck.
So much for the luck….at least weather luck.
I’ll file a full race report on my return Monday. I’m really trying to look on the bright side of this. Last year the big boys got to start last in the wave start. This insured that we were running during the hottest and most sun-blazing part of the day.
I’m sure will be starting last again this weekend so at least I’ll be able to cook myself an egg or two on the road on the run.
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The thing about open water long distance swimming is that it is just like swimming in a masters class excepts there is no coach, no lane buddies, no chitchat, no breaks, no clean clear water, no lanes, no standing, no hanging on the edge, no clock, no warmth, no hot tub, and no bathroom, except the one you happen to be swimming in.
Otherwise it is exactly the same. In other words, it is pretty easy on the old body when compared to other forms of endurance sports. For instance, long distance running tends to really beat you up by tearing up your bones, muscles and joints.
And while cycling is also a supported sport (a sport like swimming in which something else like a bike or a lake supports your weight) it does have hills and friction points. The butt and the seat being two of the most unfriendly friction points.
Swimming, on the other hand, has almost zero friction, and virtually no hills to speak of, unless you consider waves or swells to be hill-like. But to be fair, I’ve never seen a hill (unlike a swell) pick up a cyclist and bring him back down. All of this in my mind makes long distance swimming a bit easier on the body, though certainly not on the mind.
When we last left my story (click HERE for part one) I had just discovered a fatal flaw in my new invention the LDSND (Long Distance Swim Nutrition Device). I was left with a choice of drowning or drinking. Obviously I choose not to drown and thus not to drink….at least not what was now a questionable and scary mixture of ice tea and brown lake water.
I let go of the LDSND and my paddle dutifully pulled it back to the boat and I returned to swimming. Now please recall when I mentioned that long distance swimming was tough on the mind.
Simply put swimming 10K is just a few painful steps beyond mind-numbing, CPAN watching, grass growing, long ass lecture listening, cross-country car trip through Nebraska, international flight with no movies, brain-frying dull.
There’s nothing new really to see, to hear, to smell, to taste, to feel, to think except for cold water.
I remember swimming just past the halfway point of the race and asking my paddler how much farther I had to go. He was a great older guy who had brought along a handheld GPS to “help” me judge how far I had gone.
At this point I had been in the water for something like two hours. He looked at the GPS and said “You’ve gone 3.06 miles” which was exactly .02 miles further than the last time I had asked him which to me seemed like 3 hours ago.
Here’s a hint to all you would-be open water swim support paddler types. When your swimmer asks you how much further the finish line is, just lie through your teeth. Say something like, “Oh let me check,” and don’t even bother to turn on the GPS as you look down at it with furrowed brow. “Well look here, it says that you have only about a quarter of a mile left to go. Just keep on swimming Flipper.”
Believe me the last thing in the world your swimmers fragile mind wants to hear and process is the painful and precise distance of 3.06 miles left to go.
The other really nasty secret of open water swimming is that it can be really and utterly cold. I don’t mean the kind of, “please close the window honey I’m a bit chilly cold” you sometimes feel. Or even that kind of, “I know I should have a much thicker sleeping bag tonight as the temperature drops” cold.
The cold I’m talking about is like when somebody says, “I’ll swim 10K when hell freezes over.” So image how cold it would really have to be for hell to freeze over and you know what I felt like on my swim. At the end of the swim I was so cold that my eyeballs had goose bumps…and they were covered by my goggles, unlike the rest of my body.
The other vivid memory I have of that day is how much I just really wanted to stop swimming. I recall swimming by a happy and frolicking family as they were barbecuing lunch and enjoying a warm sunny day on the beach. It took all of my mental strength not to make a sharp left turn, drag myself out of the water like some hideous bumpy prune-like creature, steal a burger and beer, plop down on the sand and tell my paddler to go meet me at the finish. Especially after I asked him how much further to the finish and he informed me that I still had 3.04 miles to go.
So as not to keep you in suspense any longer, I did indeed finish the swim in a time of about 4-hours and 15-minutes. I could look up the exact time, but it really doesn’t matter that much as I was at the butt end of the spear of swimmers.
As I recall the winner of the race finished in around 2 hours and 20 minutes. If you do the math that translates to a 1:10 per 100-yards split time. For all of you hardcore swimmers, image swimming a 1:10 per 100-yard pace for 10K, and you’ll really understand the difference between me and a double Channel Swimmer.
I just remember the wonderful relief I felt as I stumbled out of the water. And just like at the finish of an Ironman, they actually have handlers that will support you as you climb out of the water….except of course that these handlers are very wet. It seems that after over four hours of being horizontal, the body can get a bit a shaky when returning to vertical.
I also must thank my friend Allen who swam with me but much further ahead of me. He saved my left shoulder from the permanent damage sustained by my right shoulder. After the swim I was unable to raise my arms above my head so I took advantage of the free massage.
I should have known I was in deep deep trouble when the devil who called himself a message therapist informed me that he did not believe in message, but instead pressure and release.
The excruciating pain on my face must have been a dead giveaway to Allen as this demon from bowls of hell twisted my right into a salty pretzel. Allen luckily saw my tears and came over and rescued me from further torture by saying we had to leave.
As we slowly drove back around the lake to the start of the race to pick-up my car, and in-between excruciating spasm of pain darting up my spine from my right shoulder, I remember thinking to myself; I swam a @#*##@% long way.