Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cute Kid Pics

We've got Aunt Johnnie's funeral today, so I need to post something bright to cheer myself up.  Enter cute pics of the kids:

Evil Genius with her BFF Tristan

The girls made bead necklaces at Bigun's Indian Princess tribe meeting last night, so of course EG had to get one of her own.

Bigun insisted on being entirely covered in leaves after they were raked into a big pile.

That face!  Who couldn't fall in love with that face!

Mommy enjoyed laying in the leaf pile checking out the clouds too.

Monday night I ran fast for the first time since Ironman.  I thought three weeks would be enough recovery, I might have been wrong.  I ran 5 miles in 36:06 for a 7:13 pace.  That included a warm up half a mile of walking and slow jog, most of it was under 7 minutes.  Yesterday and today are both rest days because my lungs feel like they are on fire.  I have a band of soreness just below the man-boobs that encircles the body.  I'm not sure how running fast made my back muscles sore, but I must have done something different.  Breathing feels almost as labored as it did the day after Ironman, which is the strangest, most unexpected soreness yet.  I'll try and get to the pool tomorrow then get an easy run in friday before resuming regular marathon training.

I ran some numbers through the McMillan pace calculator, and it turns out I was in pretty good shape for most of my pacing.  My long runs and easy runs were right on target with an 8:00 pace, but my tempo runs were too slow and my speedwork intervals were too fast.  It feels good to have some algorithmic backing behind making the pace adjustments.  There are plenty of 5k's going on here in December, I'm having a tough time picking one.  I still think a sub-20 minute 5k is going to come in January, but who knows.  Might happen sooner.

Have a great hump day!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving, it's what's for dinner

First, thank you for the kind words and prayers from my last post and on facebook.  Kelley's aunt passed yesterday about 2:30 am in the hospital with her husband and sons by her side.  She had an acute Leukemia that spread into her lungs and labored her breathing too much.  The funeral will be on Wednesday in Fayetteville.

Here's a picture of Aunt Johnnie with our niece Kaileigh from one of the kids birthday parties last year.  She will be greatly missed.

Thanksgiving turned out really nice.  Kelley's mom and Gene were staying with us, and her sister and Kaileigh came up to visit as well.  We also had our good friend Kayte and another friend of hers come over as well.  Andrea turned out to be really sweet, we ended up spending the whole weekend with them.  Kaileigh stayed with us through the weekend as well which is also always pleasant.  The worst part was that we didn't get any pictures!

The dinner was fantastic.  Turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pie, more pie, sangria, and more pie.  Way too much food for the 8 of us.  That's usually the way thanksgiving goes.  We made sure to have that much food just in case any other family wanted to get out of the hospital or if Johnnie wasn't feeling up to having visitors that day.  Turns out she was, so the rest of the family stayed with her.

Friday we did not participate in any black friday madness.  We did get caught up in some of the traffic however, going to meet Kayte and Andrea and the kids for lunch at an Olive Garden.  Then Friday night we had Kaileigh babysitting all four kids while we went out downtown to hit the bars!  It was embarrassingly fun. (that means I'm sure I made a total ass out of myself but can't really remember what I did.  But I'm sure it was wrong)

Saturday was a whole lot of recovery (read: hangover).  I did make it out to scout a trail that goes around a lake that was recommended by another friend.  The biggest surprise here was that I was actually able to find the lake, and a parking area in the state park, and the trail itself.  I am directionally challenged.  There are 2 miles of paved trail and about 6 miles of unpaved trail around this lake, so this looks really cool.  I found a better parking lot while I was out there, and this trail was as advertised.  Mostly flat with enough hills to really crush my abs if I take them too fast.  I only ran one loop, but I certainly took it too fast.  Kelley ran 19 miles on saturday so she had the garmin, but I am really looking forward to hitting this lake again.  I think the loop is 2.1 miles (need garmin confirmation) and the unpaved can go for quite a while.  Longtime readers will remember how much I used to enjoy running around the lake at Furman when we lived in SC, it was a 1.1 mile loop with a 2.3 mile trail option.  I think we may have found a winning replacement here.

Sunday we headed down to Asheboro for a Maness family thanksgiving with Kelley's dad's side of the family.  Finally, there were some pictures taken but not by us.  And I don't have copies yet.  It was also a blast.  Turkey, ham, more food than 30 people could possibly eat.

Hope your holiday was that much fun!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks for the influence!

This year for Thanksgiving I'm reminded of the people who were big influences on my life when I was younger.  I have a large family, my parents are both alive and still married.  I still have both grandmothers and lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins that I'm very close to.  Those influences are obvious.  I learned how to be a man of integrity by watching my father in his business dealings, and how to treat other people by watching my mother selflessly celebrating others' accomplishments or milestones with joy.

I also became very close with a handful of teachers in high school and college, all music teachers.  The point of this post is to thank them now, because one of them passed away suddenly over the weekend.  It is very sad, and I'm still kind of in shock.

My high school chorus teacher is incredibly fun.  She was the only teacher we regularly addressed by her first name, Jane.  Her first year teaching at the high school was my freshman year, so I started there 3 days before she did.  Over the years I ended up abandoning my locker and using a cubby in a cabinet in the chorus room instead, just so I'd have a good excuse to go in there between every class.  I was president of the Concert Choir my senior year and led rehearsals when she was absent; wielding even more power than the student teacher who became my accompanist.  I got to know her kids, now she has grandchildren, went to her house a lot, and we used to lead trips out of town with the chorus.  We always had a blast, and I learned how to have fun and enjoy living in the moment with her.  She's going to retire at the end of the school year, and it is well deserved.

Lindsay O'Rear was the minister of music at my church growing up.  He is an incredible musician, retired several years ago, and still keeps a garden at the church with my mother.  His kids are a few years older than me, but we stay in touch too on facebook.  He taught me how to determine what's really important and how to hold it with reverence.  He knew all of the "don't sweat the small stuff" theories 20 years before the books came out.  Again the church choirs used to travel every summer, we used to get into trouble and he would bail us out.  Church trips were always so much fun.

Michael Rice was my voice teacher at the Fine Arts Center, a magnet school I went to senior year for voice lessons and an AP Music Theory class.  That's when I decided to be a music major in college.  Mr. Rice is still the most incredible pianist I've ever seen, and we became quite close as friends during and after that year.  He was the accompanist for the Greenville Chorale for 13 years, so he was always getting tickets to events at the Peace Center for things like the Greenville Symphony or traveling Broadway musicals.  Sometimes they were box seats, sometimes I'd bring a date, sometimes it was just me and him or a handful of other students.  One time we even went to Atlanta to see The Secret Garden, just the two of us.  That was a really special memory.  Sometimes when I would come home from college on the weekends I would sneak in to watch his last class for the day and visit some after school.  When I was pledging my fraternity I found out that he also pledged the same fraternity when he was at Furman.  He always smiled and had a graceful joy that was infectious.  You just had to like the guy, there was no other option.  He traveled by himself most of the summer, and learned the language for wherever he was going to travel to before he got there.  His favorite word in any language (also my favorite word) is the swedish word for strawberry.  Google it if you need too.  I'll pronounce it for you if you ask me in person.  He gave me optimism and the habit of being open minded, and my love for languages.  I still have "learn to speak" cd's in my car for italian, german, and french thanks to him.  Michael Rice died suddenly on Saturday, he was only 58 years old. 


On another sad note; one of Kelley's aunts has been fighting leukemia since april and is about to lose the battle.  She knows that she only has a few days left, but is still quite lucid and able to sit up and talk to you.  We went to visit her in the hospital monday night and she was laughing and telling stories, then watching DWTS.  Cancer is such a strange thing.  Your body makes it, and it will attack and destroy everything else inside the body but it can leave the mind totally intact like that.  She's one of Kelley's mom's sisters, and we are all very close.  They are the only other branch of the family that lives in NC, and being closer to them is a big reason we wanted to move here from Greenville in the first place. 

I do a lot of races to support cancer charities, and most of my family that we've lost has been to cancer.  It's the biggest reason I try to maintain and promote a healthy lifestyle.  If you treat your body right, maintain a healthy weight, and exercise regularly the body has no reason to produce cancer.  Losing someone else that I care about this much to a disease that I hate this much is difficult to put it mildly. 

When I finished the Ironman, Kelley's mom was watching the live feed from the internet.  She had Aunt Johnnie on the phone for the feed.  So from her hospital bed, Johnnie heard the guy call out "John Flynn you are an ironman" and was proud of something I did.  You can't buy that kind of support.  And now I feel like there's nothing else I can do for her.  It's going to be a tough holiday season this year.

Speaking of weight and a healthy lifestyle, I've put on all of the pre-ironman weight again.  10 lbs in 2 weeks have come right back.  Looks like I'm going to have to start watching my intake again pretty soon.  A racing weight isn't supposed to be maintained after the race is over, so I'm ok. But I do want to stay around 175 lbs, that is maintainable.  Race weight was closer to 165.  I blame the halloween candy and chicken wings that I have been enjoying liberally. 

I also got back in the pool last night!  RAM practice felt good, I took it kind of easy without really trying to push the speed or endurance too far.  My ankles really hurt doing a flutter kick.  I guess Ironman really knocks all the joints loose.  The pools are all closed for Thanksgiving, so I can't swim again until next tuesday, so the ankles should feel better by then.  They haven't bothered me while running or biking.  You wouldn't expect to find an ankle problem in the pool.

Enjoy the thanksgiving holiday!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Over the Peak

Training plans, especially long course plans for an event like Ironman, are designed to allow your fitness to peak.  Hopefully you will peak at the right time and have a speedy and pleasant race.  There is always the chance you can peak too early and run Ironman through an injury or over fatigued or over-trained.  I feel like I peaked at the right time and pulled together the best race possible for the day.

What I didn't expect was that the peak is actually the top of something.  That means you have to come down the other side.

Two weeks post ironman I think I'm feeling "recovered", whatever that is supposed to be.  Tuesday I can finally get back in the pool after waiting 2 weeks for the tattoo to heal.  Last week I did not work out Wednesday Thursday or Friday to rest up more.  Saturday I got in a slow 3.5 miles and Sunday was a slow 12 miles.  In Ironman training "slow" or "easy" meant an 8:00 per mile pace.  This weekend it was more like an 8:40 pace.  Here's my take on it:

  • My heart rate did not rise very high and I never got really out of breath, so my aerobic capacity is still pretty high.  
  • I was still able to cover 12 miles at a steady pace without stopping so I still have some muscular endurance
  • My legs and right knee did feel less than great.  Not bad, just not great.
  • The lower part of my neck and upper back muscles started to fatigue after about 10 miles.  This could be a form breakdown, and I likely need to go visit the chiropractor.
  • Today my muscles are very sore.  I need to drink more water.
I need to accept the fact that I am on a downhill slide called the offseason, but I didn't really lose much "fitness".  The speed will come back so I can put up a sub-3:30 marathon time in the new year.  Next weekend's long run is 19 miles according to the marathon training plan.  We'll have to see how close I can actually come to that when the time arrives.  We'll also have to wait and see how close I can come to knocking those 19 miles down at 8 minutes each.  I think I'm ready to go back to regular training working out 5 or 6 days a week, but I know I still have to be conservative for another week or so.  This is not the week to try and regain all of the ironman speed and endurance, I have to focus on just getting the body back to feeling good at regular training intervals (not trying to make gains).

Great Weekend!

The family had a fantastic weekend.  On Friday Bigun received a special recognition award for Kindness.  It was so sweet!

The cute thing about this picture is that Evil Genius is also holding up two imaginary certificates.  Adorable!  That's Bigun's BFF in the middle.  Too cute!

Later on that day Bigun had her first sleepover with friends.  We made up couchbed and got them all snugged in watching movies.

Saturday morning I made pancakes for the lot of them and we all got to play outside.  It was 70+ degrees and sunny all day saturday and sunday, very unusual for this time of year in NC.  Everyone had a really good time, including Kelley and myself!

One final picture to share.  Thursday night we all went up to a local shopping center that was having a Christmas festival thing.  I guess they want us to get primed for Black Friday, but it sure did put the girls into the holiday spirit!  Just listening to the pure innocence that is your kids singing Christmas carols really warms the heart.  We got a family pic with santa:

I don't know why blogger refuses to maintain picture orientation, but EG sang him this version of the carol:

Smack you around?  that's why we call her EG. Santa indicated that he would have to have words with Grandad about that one, but he still laughed.

Big congratulations to all the marathoners this weekend, you know who you are!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Great Recovery

Well the second week of recovery post-ironman is getting rough.  All these aches and pains are starting to show up.  I know that's a healing process, but that doesn't make it pleasant.  I'm still eating like the world is about to run out of food, and the weight is starting to come back on.  That's not really a bad thing, as I'm still well within a safe range.  But I did burn through an entire bag of halloween candy from Costco by myself in maybe a week.  That's rarely good.

Swim/bike/run/strength/stretch is my stress relief.  I can't get back in the pool until next Tuesday thanks to the new ink.   Biking and running are still incredibly uncomfortable, but I'm doing them some anyway.  Not much, and not fast.  Habitually, you get used to the twice a day workouts.  I used to work out two or three times a day long before Ironman training because I enjoyed it and that was how I chose to spend my free time.  I know I need to take it easy the rest of this week at least.  But I have some big deadlines coming up, and the holidays are just around the corner.  It's all unrelieved stress at this point.  And all I can do is rest more.

Today is the Great American Smokeout!  If you or someone you know needs and wants to stop smoking then today is a great day to make that plan.  I put them down in December of 2007 thanks to my Grandfather and changed my life forever.  Do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The future is yellow

First, some pictures from Ironman that didn't get included in the original post:

This is me with Colleen, the Iron Diva! We got to meetup Friday, it was epic! I met so many new blog friends there.

I just dropped off my bike and transition bags. It was sunny but cool, so the jeans/black shirt was perfect. Yay Kenneth Cole!

So many transition bags!

That's me with Wes and Andy Murtha. Murtha trains with Wes all the time, I really enjoyed getting to know him.

Yes my eyes are closed dang it, but Wes got a great shot of Kelley and I just hanging out checking out the Gulf. Fun times.

I can't name all of the bloggers on here because there are so many. I'm really going to enjoy following this whole crew from now on though. Lots of really neat people in here! I think I've got everyone here added into my blogroll on the left.

What I didn't mention about Ironman in the race report

I really believe I can do better. This time was my first Ironman, I put together a strategy and executed it, and that's all I could ask for. 13:06 is a great finishing time, and I'm very proud of my accomplishment. Most of my friends were surprised that the tattoo was so small; they expected me to get the M-Dot on my chest and belly, a foot wide, and with a picture of my face inked inside of the dot. You know, just in case anyone who saw me shirtless forgot who the iron man was. These people know me too well.

But I could have gone harder. I wanted to run faster the entire marathon. I wanted to pick a bike course with less wind and more rolling hills. I think I can break 12 hours overall, and I think I can break 4 hours in the Ironman marathon. This means I will have to try again. Not sure when or where yet, but I seriously doubt that this will be my only 140.6 attempt. If I went under 4 hours on the run, and near 6 hours on the bike (under or over), that leaves 2 hours for the swim and transitions to break 12 overall. My transition times were over 26 minutes this time, typically they are no more than about 4 minutes total. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.

The first week of post-Ironman recovery is going really well. I ran 3 miles on Wednesday just to work the kinks out of the legs. Then Friday I did a short brick - 15 mile bike 5k run just because I wanted to. Sunday I really wanted to get in a 12 mile long run but after 9, well, the legs decided they wanted another week of rest before doing anything like that.

All of this free time is strange and unexpected. I didn't think I would miss the twice a day workouts. Now I feel like I should do something else besides just eat all of the remaining Halloween candy. Like something with my career. Technology changes so fast that it can be hard to keep up with, and I've enjoyed being in my little bubble the last several years. Modernizing my skillset would take about as much time as ironman training but is a helluva lot more boring. At least I'll have the time to research what I want to do next.

Oh yea,

Today is the 13th wedding anniversary for Kelley and I. We got married in a small town in SC back in 1998, and it rained the whole day. Now 13 years and two kids later we get to celebrate by having leftovers for dinner before I take Bigun to an Indian Princess meeting. Getting old is really quite thrilling, I know (hey - we just did that week's vacation on the Gulf of Mexico remember?). You don't stay married this long without having ups and downs for sure, but I'm really glad that today is here and it is happy and peaceful. I could never ask for anything more than what she provides as a spouse, mother, supporter and friend. I love you always my dear!

Next Goals

Over the winter we're going to be doing lots of running. I'm going to keep on swimming tuesday and thursday nights for cross training, but the focus is going to be on fast running.

We only have three races on the schedule right now, but they are kind of key to the next goal. Kelley and I are both going to try and qualify for the Marathon Maniacs! This insane asylum has strict qualification criteria, and you have to really enjoy running full marathons to want to qualify. I really hate that Ironman was the only full marathon I got to run this year, so I'm making up for it next year. The criteria we're using to get in is three marathons inside of 90 days:

Charleston Marathon 1/14/12
Myrtle Beach Marathon 2/18/12
Tobacco Road Marathon 3/18/12

Full marathons in January, February, and March will really test my recovery skills. On one of those I will try to break 3:30 and see how I feel. They each have pace groups to get to that time, so I should be able to keep up. 3:30 finish time is an 8:00 pace, and that's what all of my Ironman long runs have been at so it seems totally do-able.

Kelley's marathon PR is 5:56 from 2009, so she's going to be trying to break 5 hours in there. I'm predicting that she'll break 4:30 because she's awesome like that.

We're also trying to recruit friends to join us out there just to make it more fun. If you can make it to one of those races please come on down and let us know where to meetup with you. I'll also be glad to help coach anyone to meet a time goal at any of these if you want to do that. Kelley is well into her training plan already and is feeling confident about a PR in Charleston.

My brother Michael is currently on another european tour, but he lives in Charleston. I always enjoy running when I go down to visit with him, so the Charleston Marathon (and even the TryCharleston 70.3) seemed like a great choice to get back to 26.2. Kelley's first marathon was the Myrtle Beach full in 2009, and we found a great hotel to stay at down there - it's cheap, has a good breakfast, and is walking distance to the start/finish line. And it shares a parking lot with a Mellow Mushroom pizzaria. Not that we would take advantage of that or anything ;)

I ran Tobacco Road full back in 2010. Seems like a really long time ago, but that's where I set my pre-Ironman PR at 4:31. We get to recover at home, so that has a lot of appeal. It will be a nice local mostly trail marathon and a great way to finish out the qualification process. I really enjoyed this race last year.

Along the way I'm sure there will be a few half marathons and 5k's. I'm still going to try and break 20 minutes in the 5k, and break 1:40 in the half. I might even be able to get under 1:30 in the half, if I can find enough to run in. There are no half's around Raleigh in December! So strange and disappointing.

I'm thinking about starting with this 5k because it benefits Girls on the Run and doesn't start until 10 am. And it's only a few miles from the house. Last years winner clocked a 15:48, so there's no chance of a high overall placement, I can just get out there and run my race and set my time.

Hope you guys had a great week! Come join us at one of these marathons. seriously.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

IMFL 2011 Long Version

Ironman is the most demanding single day event on the planet. Here's how I made it my bitch.


We got up at 4:15 am central time, I grabbed a quick shower, ate some breakfast, ate some more, then drove the 45 minutes into Panama City Beach. We parked at the Wal-Mart near the resort and took the shuttle to the race location. Found the body markers on our way in. Since I had checked the bike and gear bags in on Friday all I had to carry with me was the wetsuit and one bag of incidentals.

I got to the transition area about 15 minutes before it closed, which is cutting it way too short. Still, I stuffed an extra shirt into the T2 bag, added the bottles and bags to the bike, taped some gel's to the top bar and still had enough time to get out of there.

I got the wetsuit on, and we had to walk through a timing arch to checkin. This is when it really started getting real.

The starters area was incredibly cold. The sand was freezing. I got the swim cap and goggles on, and was pacing around trying to find Kelley. She was back taking pictures. I was not the only person openly crying out there. It was a very emotional time for everyone. All the training has been logged, all the fuel has been eaten and all of the preparations have been made. It's go time!

The pros started first, 10 minutes before us age groupers. They sang the national anthem, gave us a 10 second count down, and shot off the canon to get things underway. This is it, here we go. A years worth of training and a lifetime's worth of preparation has been leading up to right now.

Swim 2.4 miles

When 3000 people are sitting on a small beach area and decide to start swimming all at the same time it can get a little hectic. Frantic is putting it mildly. I wanted no part of that since I was just trying to finish, so when the cannon went off I stood on the beach humming the Jeopardy theme song to give the field a 30 second head start. Of course, the competitive juices started flowing so I only made it about 20 seconds in, but I was still one of the last people into the water.

Speaking of flowing.... I didn't get the chance to hit the port-a-potty line before getting to the starting area. Not enough time. But as soon as my feet hit the water I was able to pee in the wetsuit freely. Such a relief. And it was the warmest I felt all day.

This shot is really cool if you can click to embiggen it

The water was crystal clear (now with a slight yellow tint?) and you could see all the way to the bottom. It got deep fast, then we hit a sand bar and got to stand up and walk again. So the second time it got deep I could still see all the way to the bottom. That white rippled sand was such a strange sight compared to the murky lake water we're usually swimming in. I saw a stingray swimming along below me! That was really cool. Then I caught up to the people.

Now the whole reason I stayed on the beach was to avoid the washing machine. So to now have a delayed start time and still get caught in what I was trying to avoid was double pissing me off. People were stacked up 10 deep in every direction around me. Everyone was trying to swim, but few were doing it and fewer still were doing it right. When it's that crowded I stop kicking and take my head out of the water. I don't want to kick someone else and I want to sight the open water nearby so I can get there. This time there was no open water nearby. I started pushing my way through people and eventually got to put my face down again. I took an elbow in the eyeball (well, the goggles first), got kicked in the shoulder and chest, may have kicked somebody else, and had a generally tough time getting into a rhythm. I never even saw any of the sighting buoys on the first lap, just the orange turn buoy. Another washing machine immediately commenced at the turn. Don't hard kick in the washing machine! It will only get you punched in the face.

Half a mile out, turn left. 0.2 miles then another left turn to go back to shore. I finally got outside of the main pack (right into shark territory), made the second left turn and headed back into shore still trying to stay outside to the right. Might have gotten a little bit too outside. This time I can look down and see a pink blob floating very close to me in the water. Jellyfish! I scream like a girl into the water I was so surprised. At least nobody heard me. I ended up seeing a lot of jellyfish in that return lap.

Made it back across the sandbar and onto shore, there was a bottleneck going over the sand. They had an aide station setup so I got a cup of water to drink, then headed back out for lap #2. This time I was much closer to the sighting buoys and the crowd was starting to thin out. That means the people were only 5 deep instead of 10. Still a washing machine for the most part.

This time there were plenty of jellyfish on the way out as well as on the way back in. Eventually I did get far enough to the right to avoid most of the other people, and settled into a basic stroke. I thought the second lap felt much faster than the first lap.

Lap 1: 37:29
Lap 2: 40:31
Total: 1:18:00, 2:03 / 100m pace
1338/2439 overall, 235/356 age group M35-39

My target time was to break 1:20, so that's a huge success! 2:03 is the exact same pace I've kept at my last 3 open water swim races. Eventually I will have to learn how to get faster.

Kelley got this shot of some man-candy for you. I think the funniest thing about it are the girls in the black shirt and pink shirt checking this guy out and clapping after he's gone by. Why not?

Wes took these pics and sent them over. Him and his lovely wife were great to have around, seems like we hung out a lot over the weekend.

Transition 1

Check out the cut line on my abs! Yea baby that's what Ironman training will do for you!

I ran out of the water up the beach and onto a very sandy spot for wetsuit stripping. Found a big guy who yanked that thing off of me and I ran up through the hotel to the parking lot to grab my T1 bag. Then we had to run through the other side of the parking lot to get to the changing room.

Let me tell you about the changing room. I shave a lot. I shave a large part of my body because I just don't want hairy parts, for the most part. I was nowhere near the most shaved man in there. I saw things that cannot be erased from my brain. Things I will not mention again.

it may have affected me emotionally

I found a chair and took my time in there, taking off the bathing suit I had on under the wetsuit, and putting on my bike gear including the bib shorts, jersey, arm warmers, etc. The volunteers in the changing room were fantastic. The guy helped me get my gear all straightened out and put on, bagged up my swim gear, and got me out the door as fast as possible.

I grabbed Roberta, she was the last bike left on the rack. Ran out of transition ready to mount up and ride.

T1: 15:53

Normally my T1 time is less than 2 minutes, but I wanted to take my time here. Turns out, I forgot to pack a towel in the bag, or to apply butt butter before putting the shorts on. These two factors would work together to create a very unpleasant time on the bike.

Bike 112 miles

It sounds so straightforward. Get on a bike, ride 112 miles. It's not really that much longer than a century ride, is it? Really is it??

I apparently ran well past the mount line without knowing it. So somewhere in what looked like a starting corral I clipped in, sat down, and waded my way through a crowd of bikers. Seriously, when 3000 people get out in steady progression in a non-drafting race, it gets crowded very quickly. Too quickly. Took me 3 miles to get the required 20 feet of clearance to avoid drafting.

The coolest thing about the swim was that I started in the back and finished in 1338th place. So I passed almost 1300 people in the water. In the water! I'd estimate on the bike course, about 1000 of them got their revenge. I started out with an effort that was stupid easy; that was the plan. The course was flat, the wind was strong but I rode totally on perceived effort without worrying about my actual speed or heart rate or wattage etc. It was pretty disheartening to get passed that much.

The plan was to take a gel at every aide station, so the first station I needed to get a gel and a bottle of water. Instead, I grabbed a bottle of Perform, chugged it and tossed it before clearing the station. That's what you would call a poorly executed plan. They have aide stations every 10 miles, that first one was at mile 13.

By mile 18 I was ready for the bike leg to be over. I was done. Remember how I didn't really wash off that salt water after the swim like I should have? then forgot the towel and chamois cream in the changing room? That plus the sand where the wetsuit strippers were created a salt/sand rub that had already begun chafing. And before the race even started? Port-a-let lines were long and I had no time to get in them anyway, so I was still waiting on that first morning poo. If you combine those two qualities it can make for a very uncomfortable morning. Then you have to sit on a bike seat for 7 hours.

Mile 23 I hit the second aide station, and actually did get a gel and water bottle this time. I also had two bottles of Accelerade that I premixed and stored on the bike, and plenty of my own gels taped to the top bar. But the point was to execute the water bottle grab properly. So now I was getting regular calories in finally, and it was time to upgrade my efforts from "stupid easy" to just "easy" and roll out the next 89 miles.

The third aide station had port-a-potties with a very short line so I took the opportunity to jump in there. Finally I got to knock off some of that salt/sand rub and empty the bowels. I know you were very concerned about that. It was the most comfortable I would be all day... almost.

The middle miles were pretty uneventful. The course has an out and back spur, where you hit the halfway point and get your Special Needs bag. I threw a PB&J in the special needs bag, and was quite happy to have some real food to ride with. I did stop again to open the bag and get the sandwich. Who was out there cheering at the turnaround? Wes and Dee Dee! I was really looking and feeling bad then, the out part of that road had a stiff headwind and bad pavement, so seeing them out there cheering for me really made me feel a lot better. She snapped these pics:

The first half of this course took me an entire 40 minutes longer to complete than the entire 56 mile course at the OBX half in september. That's almost 1 minute per mile slower, or 15.6 mph instead of 19.4 mph at OBX. And I thought OBX had bad winds. These were brutal! Absolutely killer. Now, of course, that meant the second half had more of a tailwind. Wasn't as effective as I had hoped, but it was still nice.

I was just hitting the aide stations with consistency, taking in calories and watching the miles roll down. 40, 50, sandwich, 60, 70, 80, it was going pretty smooth by then. I stopped at the mile 83 aide station to use the bathroom again when a funny thing happened. I unclipped the left shoe from the pedal, but couldn't get the right shoe out in time. So of course then my balance went to the right and I fell over on my side in the grass next to the road. As far as falls on the bike go, this one was pretty tame. I was at a complete stop already, landed in grass, and kind of rolled into the fall. But still, taking a spill on the bike 83 miles into a 112 mile ride is no picnic. When you're supposed to follow said ride with a marathon run there are farther reaching implications. This was actually just funny to me. I wasn't hurt at all. They say everybody does it, but it's never happened to me before. Usually it happens at a stop sign, not a port-a-shitter. But it happened. I dropped a nice deuce, clipped in again and rolled on down the road. Me and Roberta were both ok. And the half a second that I was lying down in the grass was the most comfortable part of the bike leg.

Around mile 90 is when my stomach started to turn. Nausea set in, and I didn't think I would be able to eat any more. I stuck with water and Perform to keep some calories going in, but the Perform started tasting really nasty. I just couldn't take that anymore. I was well past ready to be done with the bike. Eventually I convinced myself that the nausea was masking hunger, and I stuffed down one more gel.

Around mile 95 I saw Kelley! She made it out onto the course and got a few pics:

Head down, lost of coasting, I am totally spent here. This is about the bottom of the barrel for me.

She said she also saw a guy ride through that section of street standing up in his pedals, whip "it" out and pee while he was riding down the street! I cannot believe she saw cocks-a-flopping in PCB. I mean it is PCB and all, but wow that's unexpected. I thought she was going to get a pic of me puking, but I managed to keep everything in.

The last 10 miles are all straight into a headwind. Something about the tall huge hotel/condo buildings just creates a wind tunnel that puts a nasty headwind out there. When you're over 100 miles into the ride you don't want a headwind. I thought I was going to have to walk the bike in. There was a sign for 100 miles, but I didn't see a sign for 110, and I really wanted to. The farthest I've ever ridden is 105 before, so that would have been nice.

All I really wanted to do at that point was get to the run. I knew everything was going to be ok once I could start running and be off of that damn bike. Ready to run.

Bike split 1: 55 miles 3:31:10 15.63 mph
Bike split 2: 40 miles 2:21:16 16.99 mph = some tailwind?
Bike split 3: 17 miles 1:03:59 15.94 mph
Total bike: 112 miles 6:56:25 16.14 mph
1921/2439 overall, 315/356 age group

Goal time was 6:30, or 6 hours flat would be even better. Total fail.

yea, that's really slow. and I got passed a lot. It really sucked. I'm still just glad it is over. Flat and fast my ass, that course was tough. For the most part, the road conditions were pretty good. The aide stations were great, volunteers were wonderful. I survived, and I don't have to get on the bike again until after the winter is over and done with. I've been on the hate side of the love/hate relationship I have with cycling for about a month now, and this bitch certainly didn't change my mind.

Transition 2

A volunteer took my bike at the dismount line and I didn't want to touch it again. I found and grabbed my T2 bag and headed back into the changing room with my head down this time. Off went the bike gear, and my ass was so incredibly grateful to be in running shorts instead of cycling shorts. I tied a long sleeve shirt around my waist just in case it got cold enough out there to need it and got the hell out of there.

On my way out I turned down more sunscreen because I knew it was about to get dark, but someone did have Vaseline. I would like to thank them now. I may have gotten a bit too excited to take a couple of large finger-fulls of Vaseline and shove my hand down my shorts only to start screaming "oh that's nice yes fucking sweet fantastic holy wow" right in front of that poor woman. Fortunately all of the nearby volunteers started laughing with me. I might not have been the first badly chafed guy to come by there, but I may have been the most vocal.

T2: 10:36

Again, my T2 times are usually under 90 seconds but I don't care. That puts my total transition times over 26 minutes, when the goal was to stay under 20 minutes. Again, I don't care. Well worth it to get to sit down in a chair for that time.

I actually took some advil before getting very far out of the transition zone.

Run 26.2 miles

I started running this two loop course and saw Kelley at the very start of it. I was so glad that I was able to find her and stop to tell her how much I appreciated her, and get a kiss before really taking off on the marathon. That's why I'm smiling so much in that picture above.

I had a plan for the marathon. Run at a 9 minute pace and walk the aide stations. Take 2 cups of liquid, plenty of gels, get some solid food when I could. Look for the chicken broth, everyone says it's a life saver. That's exactly what I did.

The course is a lollipop, with an out and back section that tops out with a loop around a state park. We run it twice, so maybe 5 miles of the course is two way traffic on the same roads. Once you get into the park all bets are off. The crowd support is amazing. The roads outside of the park are filled with spectators Tour de France style. They are all cheering and giving out high fives, plenty of fun costumes. One woman told me she bought that house specifically because it was on the run course so she could sit in her driveway and cheer every year. Of course, she was also drinking beer from a can and smoking a cigarette at the time she was telling me this.

One aide station was setup with a Hawaii theme with everyone in grass skirts. Another was a christmas village, with a really thin guy in a santa claus costume and compression socks giving out high fives. They did have a few slutty elves. But my favorite one, hands down, has to be the Girl Zone. Girls in stripper costumes (is there such a thing? burlesque costumes?) were dispensing pleasure and pain to the runners. The girl with the cat-of-9-tails style whip hit me in the butt 3 of the 4 times I ran past her. It was wonderful.

In the first loop the roads got out of the residential areas before hitting the state park, and there was Wes and Dee Dee again! How incredible is it to have friends like that. I saw them coming and going on the first loop. Wes was screaming at me pretty good.

Inside the state park was a timing mat for the first split. It came around a full circle, and I noticed there were no street lamps. My goal was to get through the first loop before dark so I would know where I was going more on the second loop. The officials said we should run with a head lamp, but I didn't bring one. The park seemed like the worst part to be dark in. I was just holding my 9 minute pace.

Actually it was kind of hard to keep that pace, I wanted to go faster. All of my long training runs have been done at an 8 minute pace or faster, so I knew that sticking to 9 minute miles would keep my heart rate low, prevent me from ever hitting the wall really hard on the run, and keep me feeling alive the whole time. So I had to stick with it. Again running on percieved effort, don't let my heart rate get too high or I'll crash at the end.

Coming out of the state park there were Wes and Dee Dee again. I had to ask about the Snail, and they told me he broke 4 hours for the first time in the RnR Savannah marathon, but missed his 3:30 target time. I was wondering about my friend the whole day, so that was good to know. We were joking about taking a bet on marathon finish times but I couldn't nail down a handicap for the swim/bike warmup that I had to do. Still, as good as I was feeling at that point I thought maybe I could break 4 hours as well. but I knew better than to push it. And Wes was screaming at me again "You've got this CJ - you're going to become an Ironman today!" and that's when I knew I had this one in the bag.

Coming all the way back towards the finish line and hitting the turn around spot I got started on lap #2. I checked the garmin and sure enough there was the 8:00 pace again. I decided to save enough for the finish so I could charge that chute after finishing the second lap with a nice strong kick. So I had to be more careful about my pace for the second lap. Nothing too fast. I did make the target of finishing up the first lap before it got dark, but the sun set about 2 miles into this second lap. It got really dark out there really fast.

The second loop was a little less crowded. At mile 16 I chose to stop and walk for the first time not at an aide station. Still feeling pretty good, it just felt like a good time to give it a rest. I ran through the residential areas again and into the state park, but Frayed Laces had warned me that everyone walks the second loop in the state park. It was really dark in there, and I found a nice lady to talk to from south Florida who was on her first lap and hoping to beat the midnight cutoff. We talked the entire way through the state park, and I gave her some advil at the end of it then took off running again. That was about mile 19, and I knew all I had left to do was get back home to the finish line.

It's important not to abandon the nutrition plan for the last 10k. I still had to stop and take gels and chicken broth, several aide stations had pretzels and chocolate chip cookies which I jumped on. 2 cups of liquid and a solid at every aide station, every mile. Keep it going in so that I'll have enough to keep going forward. Charge the finish line.

In my past 2 full marathons I have hit the wall pretty good at mile 23. This time 23 came and went without starting the death march. Yea I walked when I needed to, but never felt like I really hit the wall. Just knocking down miles after miles. This time when I hit the point where they said "first loop turn around, second loop go finish" I picked up the pace and headed for the finish line.

For the first time all day, I kept the effort hard enough to run myself out of breath. I made it into the finishers chute. Why do they make those things so long? It should be maybe 200 yards, max. This one was like half a mile. I wanted to keep the people spaced out and give everyone their moment to cross the line and hear their name, and I wanted my moment too. But these slow people kept getting in my way, so I passed like 5 other people in the chute. A lone female spectator screamed out "Wow this guy looks strong (insert audible gasp here) AND HE'S HOT!" which of course made me look back at her and smile. What a strange place to receive a compliment like that? Still, I'll take it. That's an Ironman memory.

Then right before I hit the finish line There's two people in front of me that just practically stop moving. Hello old people, get the hell out of my way please! I'm trying to charge for the finish here!

Bitch stole my pose too. Put those arms down! Go with a fist pump or something. And get out of my way!

Run split 1: 5.75 miles, 55:03, 9:34 pace
Split 2: 7.35 miles, 1:08:01, 9:15 pace - that's 13.1 miles total, half split 2:03:04
Split 3: 5.3 miles, 54:01, 10:11 pace
Split 4: 7.8 miles, 1:28:25, 11:20 pace
Total 26.2 miles, 4:25:30, 10:08 pace and a 6 minute PR over my previous open marathon best time (4:31 at the Tobacco Road marathon in 2010).

What started before dawn ended after sunset. That's a nice long day at the office.


Kelley got a picture of the jumbotron showing the finish line from the other side of where she was able to stand. I think it's an incredible shot, and such a good idea.

Mike Reilly missed his first Ironman race in years. He knows the cadence and the energy level he puts into the "John Flynn YOU ARE AN IRONMAN" line every time he delivers it. People dream about hearing Mike call out to them at the finish line; I know I did. This guy they had doing it instead had no energy. It was pretty disappointing. But I still got the line, hit the finish and got the title of Ironman. And that's all that counts.

Total: 13:06:24
1437/2439 overall
1176/1810 men
244/356 age group

After the finish line I was overwhelmed with the catcher. This nice guy from Atlanta caught me, then I ran into him again at a gas station driving home on sunday. I couldn't believe I was done. I got the medal, hat and shirt, and I actually turned down the picture in front of the finishing thing that everybody gets because I thought Kelley had gotten a good enough finish line pic. I don't really know why I did that, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Made my way back to the food tent, got some pizza and another bottle of water and finally got to sit down. Then Frayed Laces came up and found me! It was so amazing to see here there! She really congratulated me on a good race and a strong run, and she was tracking me after she finished! I tell you what, with friends like that who needs enemies.

Kelley found me in the finish chute and we strategized a plan to get out of there. I was actually feeling ok. She got my bike and bags, and I walked back to the car.

With my biggest supporter after the race, thank you and I love you dear.

We made the drive back to Destin and I got to watch the overtime in the LSU/Alabama game. I ate a lot of soft foods, mac & cheese, pudding, nothing too solid. Slept hard that night and woke up ready to get back to NC.

The drive was long, we were supposed to stay in Atlanta overnight on sunday but the Evil Genius had a meltdown so we had to drive straight through the night getting back to Raleigh about 2 am. I still had Monday off from work so I got this taken care of:

And now there's a 140.6 magnet on my car as well.

I really can't say enough good things about this entire experience. The trip was great, Florida was beautiful, all of the people we met and food we got to eat and things that we got to see were just jaw dropping. I couldn't ask for a better trip. Turning iron? That's pretty amazing too. Yea I wish the bike course was better suited for my strengths. But it is what it is. I got through it.

Would I do another Ironman? Absolutely. I doubt that I will do IMFL again and I certainly did not sign up for 2012. Online registrations sold out in 16 minutes on sunday, which is absurd. There are plenty of other non-WTC 140.6 mile races like Beach 2 Battleship that are a lot cheaper and demand less usage of vacation time out there. I also think I would prefer a course with more hills and less wind on the bike course like Cour d'Alene, Lake Placid, or Wisconsin. If I go WTC again it would be one of those, but they are already sold out for 2012.

So what am I doing next? You'll find out soon enough.