Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Off to the Races

I've always been one to count down to events. In college I remember announcing that "I have to be in class in 5 hours!" while out too late with friends. These days I count down to early swim practice, work, etc.

Now it's time to count down to Ironman Florida. Not so much the race start (which, by the way, is in 3 days, 15 hours, and 20 minutes), but to the time when I get to mile 1 of the run, where I'll find my friends at the BEER STOP.

Advice for IronVirgins

Thanks everyone for your help in giving the first timers some good advice.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Enormous Aerobic Optimism"

That's what the very first Ironman competitors had (according to Timothy Carlson), along with enough lack of sanity to do this new, crazy, and fully unsupported event back in 1978. They knew nothing about optimal hydration and nutrition, but still managed to survive. These guys (and in 1979, girls) were amazingly tough, in addition to being crazy. A great example of that was the 1979 winner, Tom Warren.

"... Warren, a former USC Trojan swimmer, was better known for his addiction to self-imposed amazing endurance feats. He had already swum a 15-mile ocean race, run 75 miles through the mountains, and completed a 1,600 mile bicycle trip in two weeks. He was fond of winning bar bets by doing 400 sit-ups in a sauna after a rigorous series of workouts which might include running to Tijuana and back with some swims thrown in for good measure. Warren had a crazy off-kilter running stride caused by a broken leg when he was two years old--but he was quietly fierce."

There was a 14-year-old boy who finished the race in '79. He will always be the youngest competitor, since they set a lower age limit at 18 soon after that. Race officials weighed competitors twice during the 1981 race because they were afraid they might start dying off. At some point, Bud Light started sponsoring this thing, and Julie Moss helped get everyone's attention by using a form of locomotion other than walking or running during the last leg. I think that's when they changed the rulebook to include crawling as an option.

I can tell this is from Dig Me Beach, so it's after they moved the race to Kona in 1981.
There is an amazing book of Ironman history called Iron Will. But here's an excellent recounting of The Twelve Greatest Moments of the Ironman by Timothy Carlson. Read it. It may be motivating.
I was excited to get to meet three of the original Ironman finishers last year. Two sat at my table at the awards banquet in Kona, John Knoll and Dave Orlowski, and one I met at Ironman Florida, Henry Forrest, who is battling cancer. He had THE original Ironman trophy that he let me hold. It was just like this one:
Others who keep me inspired include Rick and Dick Hoyt, Sister Madonna Buder, and our very own Memphian, GaryIronmanHolmes. Damie has posted some photos from his early years of Ironman. I was marveling the other day about Gary's vast knowledge of exercise physiology. He knows more of the subject than any non-exercise physiologist I've ever met. I'm excited to be racing (in front of) him next weekend (right Gary?).
Because of these people and because of that VCR tape that I still have (and watch) of the 1997 Ironman World Championship, I have "enormous aerobic optimism" about my race in a few days.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Time for Rest

Taper time is a time for rest, whenever and wherever you can get it. I think Jackson is a lot like me; he catches naps when he's tired, at the exact spot at which he finds himself tired.

I think I've been sleeping in weird positions lately, too. I wake up and my neck or shoulders feel like I've been playing contact sports all night. Sometimes I wake up all curled up in the fetal position. But usually not upside down.

But when you're tired, you're tired.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Not-To-Do List

I've learned a few things during my previous 8 Ironmans, like what perseverence means, how to push through pain, the downs are usually followed by ups, blahblahblah. I've also learned some things I'd like to avoid in future races, like this Ironman Florida that takes place in 13 days. From personal experience:

  • I will not cry at the beginning of the second lap of the swim because I'm still getting pummelled from all sides.
  • I will not cry when I have to choose "2nd lap" over "finish."
  • I will not lie down for 30 minutes on the side of the road at mile 16 of the run because I can no longer stay upright.
  • I will not forget to sunscreen that little strip on my back between my shorts and my top.
  • I will not get mad and yell at drafters on the bike (this may be the hardest one of all to avoid).
Ironman Florida 2007 DraftFest

  • I will not try to do math during the run or get upset when I think mile 23 is approaching only to come upon the 22 marker.
  • I will not attempt a right handed bottle grab when I know that it isn't pretty.
  • I will not spend 17 minutes in T2 getting my blood pressure taken and having chips force fed to me. To avoid this:
  • I will not hesitate when asked my name in T2.
  • I will not have a meltdown if I lose all my salt tablets and my ibuprofen.
  • I will not get the flu 4 days before the race.
Others have taught me some things I'd like to avoid as well:

  • I will not wear a swimsuit bottom under my bike shorts.
  • I will not drink Ensure or Boost or any of those other high fiber drinks during the race.
  • Because of the above, I will not visit every porta potty on the run course.
  • I will not wear a string bikini under my wetsuit.
  • I will not wear nothing under my wetsuit.
  • I will not fall asleep under a tree on the bike course.
  • I will not stop for a beer and a 45-minute chat at the BEER STOP with one mile left in the race like Yves did (but we were glad he did):

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Age Group

I'm glad there's someone to go before me in all of life's adventures. She had to break our parents in, come in later than curfew, learn to drive, go to college, do all that marriage and kids stuff, and now go into that new age group first. I already knew she was a really good sister and friend (most of the time, when she wasn't beating me up), and I've learned in the last few years that she's also a good wife and mommy and even a good daughter. Sometimes it amazes me that she's an actual grownup.

I'm impressed at the multitasking skills that she displays every time we talk on the phone. "So during my run this morning- JACKSON! You will get out of the sandbox if you throw sand one more time!- we did the long loop and I felt really good on the hills even pushing the stroller- Emily, stop torturing him!- so I'm thinking I might train for the half marathon; do you think I have time?

She really makes me laugh a lot. Mostly at her, like when she asks 8 times where her husband is when I've clearly told her 7 times that he's at the store, remember? She's also really funny when you tell her to look to her left and she spins around several times before realizing where your finger is pointing.

Since she's known me for 31 years, she understands exactly why I get mad or frustrated or whatever, and she's always willing to listen to my complaints. She also knows how to make me really mad and does that every once in a while. But not too often. I think she just does it to remind me that she's the big sister and still has some kind of control. I like to let her think that she does.

But anyway, Happy Birthday Jenny! You'll never be older than 12 in my mind. :)

Monday, October 6, 2008


I've been really healthy the last few months, getting lots of sleep, eating my veggies, limiting alcohol, exercising. These things make you feel really good. You may actually forget what you feel like when you don't do these things, as I learned this past weekend. Debauchery, defined as "excessive indulgence of the appetites," is almost the term I'm looking for, but the conotation is not quite right. I indulged in lots of fried food..


...artificial sweeteners...
...a little beer...

.. and very little exercise.

I woke up Sunday with ringing ears, a pounding head, and a general full-body ache. How do people get used to this? And have I undone everything good that I've worked so hard for the past few months? I know it takes around 7 days without exercise to feel the effects of detraining, but I wonder how many deep-fried onions, breaths of unfiltered cigarette smoke, and hours of missed sleep it takes to oxidize every molecule in my entire body? How many vitamins do I need to anti-oxidize (reduce?) those molecules? I'm actually already feeling completely different after a couple of good nights of sleep and a few berry smoothies.

There ended up being no Chunder Mile rematch, as there was just not enough time between a rehearsal dinner in Bourbon, MS...

... a wedding in Greenville... (here is the pathetic showing of single girls "trying" to catch the bouquet) .. and the walk through memory lane at Rhodes Homecoming. We drank beer in the "bar" on campus (THAT was not there when I attended), toured the new library, watched some football (or wait, maybe we didn't), and walked through the place where we spent most of our time: the gym. They've kept the life-sized picture of the girls' cross country team from my freshman year. I'm the one in the middle who looks exactly like me minus a few hundred freckles and dozens of wrinkles. Amazing the changes that take place in 13 years!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quote of the Day

Grant is in town visiting this weekend; it's his first time in Memphis in several years. Today we were driving on some back roads in the medical center area when he saw broken glass in a parking lot.

"Look, a recent break in. It's like being in the Serengeti and seeing a fresh kill."

Grant, RJ, and me on the Chunder podium. There may be a rematch this weekend. Watch out, RJ.