Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Of course they do. And of course, the IRS audit is all on you.
Other than actual cash or non-cash donations given directly to a qualified charitable organization, like the NAS Community Fund, a registered 503 (c) charitable organization, it is possible to also deduct unreimbursed Out of Pocket Expenses. It is stipulated in IRS Publication 526, however, howthese expenses must be incurred: "you may be able to deduct some amounts you pay in giving services to a qualified organization". It is in that stipulation that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around.
What service to any organization is served in competing in an Ironman? The list of recipients of Community Funds is long and genuine, but no physical 'serving' is accomplished in the 17hrs or less of Ironman toil. When you donate money to church, for example, do you write off your job expenses because you were using that job to raise the money you donated? No, and you couldn't if you wanted to. Could you write off expenses you incurred while volunteering at a church function? To some degree, yes. The service must be directly related to the charitable contribution, not as a result of it.
Put it this way: your church service example is such that your actions while volunteering directly contribute to the raising of money for the charitable organization. Your actions at Ironman are a byproduct of your initial charitable contribution. If you contributed and didn't race, the charity would not suffer in the least.
Perhaps it is a subtle distinction, and I'm sure someone with more accounting and tax experience than I, like a CPA, could argue for the deductions. I'd be curious to see how the deductions held up to the scrutiny of an IRS agent, however.
One of the interesting documentation requirements of the deduction is that in addition to keeping the appropriate record of the expenses, the taxpayer MUST also obtain acknowledgement from the charitable organization that contains:
- a description of the service you provided
- a statement of anything you received as reimbursement (if any) for your expenses
- a valuation of any goods or services you received
- a statement that only intangible benefits were received.
Good luck getting that statement before filing your taxes. Oh yea, and try and put a value on the benefits of Community Slot entry - the fleece, the visor and backpack. Oh, and entry into an otherwise sold-out event. So what is the value of entry to an event otherwise unable to enter? Does that move into the realm of "Tangible benefit" vs. intangible? Good question.
The $775 donation is, of course, charitable and deductible (of course, only if you use a Schedule A - do you have a mortgage? If not, then you probably don't itemize your deductions, and therefor, disregard this whole post - you can't deduct your charitable donations period). Please, someone, shed some light on how the expenses can also be deductible!
Sorry, btw, for the boring tax-related post.
Edit: I don't know how often this has happened in the past, but I was inspired to write this when a friend said his CPA had already said it was ok. I looked at the IRS Pub that covers this part of Tax law, and of course it was clear as mud. Getting the documentation, for those out there that are still going by what their CPA "who has done taxes for years" says is ok, will be the kicker - as is the general argument that the act of racing is not a service to a charity. Perhaps something like the MS ride series - where you personally solicit donations and those are based on your completion of the event - could be a valid example of training and travel expenses that are deductible. I doubt the IRS Agent completing your audit will be so impressed with your IRONMAN finisher's medal that he or she will overlook your $5k in Charitable Iron Expenses.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
- Picked up Tri Rob and his buddy on Wednesday. Ate a healthy dinner. Dude dislocated his shoulder doing the Airport Shuffle. I brought him a sling. It was very sexy.
- Tacboy rolled in on Friday night. Turns out that not only do we have similar senses of humor and comedic timing, we both have no problem lying around and watching movies instead of going out. Translation: we are old men.
- Spectated the 70.3 Championships in Clearwater Saturday. Met up with a pro's wife and cheered for her hubby too. Tac knew many more people there than I did. Watched Tri-Rob finish his race, went home and took naps. Affirmed: We are old men.
- Sunday morning Tac dragged me out of my own house for a 5.5 mile run. Everything now hurts. I hope everything now hurts him too. Guess it's time to start training again. Also, Tac wears more IM schwag than any 3 people. Shamelessly adorns himself with layer upon layer of overpriced finisher clothing. There has to be some sort of therapy group he can go to....
- Met Tri-Rob at his hotel and did the dinner thing with his buddy and his coach...Coach Liz. Cool chick - she says it like it is. I instantly liked her. Met Brian Dunn (super stud) and his mom (super studdette) pool-side at Rob's Hotel. Turns out their heritage of "redneck dutch" is the same as mine. They just hail from the side of Holland with the smaller, crazy fast folks. My ancestors stuck their finger in the dike and held it together while his ancestors ran and got help. Small, yet important distinction.
- Got Rob to the airport on time, hoping that he didn't break anything getting to his flight. Overall, a great weekend.
Monday, November 03, 2008
- No longer cutting grass for a living.
- Saw a bunch of new Ironman finishers this weekend
- Am crazy-busy installing blinds and window treatments
- Picking up Tri-Rob and his friend on Wednesday for the Clearwater 70.3 Champs...
- Possibly having Taconite Boy over for the race - we'll see
- Time for a mezzo-schedule motivational training plan!
- Did you see the cheater at IMFL? I'll dedicate a full post to that yahoo....
- What do we name our team for the Minnesota Border to Border?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
I've got a stack of business, generated from my personal money printer - my fax machine - waiting to be called and serviced. I've got installs scheduled for every day, and I have to still cut grass every day this week. I HAVE to get it all done by Friday, since TriSherpaDi and I are heading to Panama City Beach to cheer for all the IMFL participants this coming weekend. Another mad-dash weekend on the road to look forward to.
If all goes well, I WILL sign up for a couple of races here before the end of the month, and get busy training again on the 1st. Next month I start cutting every other week, slicing my work load in half, giving more of an opportunity to run, bike, swim, and now canoe to my hearts content. I certainly need it. And miss it.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Gram took us all in after my folks separated. I think back to the small upstairs house that was no bigger than most of the apartments I've lived in as an adult, and understand what it must have been like for Gram - taking in family. As big a pain in the butt it is, that's what family does. I even had my own room. It barely could take a bed in it, but it had a closet and a window and it was mine.
I remember her perfect yard. The barn converted to a garage, with places that were off limits, making them even creepier to a young kid. My great-grandfather's black caddie always covered in blankets, only occasionally being driven into town and then quickly tucked away and re-covered. I even drove in that car once or twice, I think.
Her basement was full of hidden treasures for a kid. It flooded nearly every year - and for kids, floods are cool. I climbed the trees in her yard. I got in fights there. Went to summer camp in the park down the street. Got into loads of trouble. All while living there with Gram.
Gram never remarried, and was single for as long as I can remember. She smoked like the day is long, and I constantly harassed her for it. I worked, for a very short time, at a pharmacy in town (Stanton's Drugs - the things you all of a sudden remember...), and in came Gram while I was behind the counter. She was pretty upset with me for not selling her cigarettes that day - as was the manager. I lost that job not too long after that incident. 20years later, she quit smoking....but she often reminded me of that day.
She sold that great house while I was in College and moved to a retirement area near the Jersey Shore. A much smaller place with no yard that she could manage by herself. One day a buddy of mine, Eric and I, plus two passengers (one of which was my sister, Leslie), visited Gram on our two new motorcycles. Oh what a day that was. They still speak of the day those two loud motorcycles came roaring up the road to visit Madeline. Towards the end, Gram didn't remember much, but she reminded me of that day.
Edit: I thought up some more stuff today. Her favorite cocktail was the Manhattan. I'll never forget - gosh, it was yesterday, my Uncle Mel (her brother) and me sneaking her Manhattans to my Mom's chagrin. Being born in the Netherlands, Gram would really turn on the Dutch when she was mad. Good thing we couldn't understand her! She used to sing to us in Dutch as well. That was much more pleasant. Dust pan and broom - that's the "Faagud and Blinky" - at least, according to Gram.
As I hasten to put some memories to paper, it's alarming that there's not more. When I got the news that she had passed, it had come as no surprise. Her health had been failing for quite some time, and the last time we visited her I was pretty sure it would be the last time I'd see her. I'm thankful now for that last visit, hopeful that she recognized and remembered being surrounded by loved ones on that beautiful summer day.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
IMCOZ09 - looks like many will be traveling over to the dark side and hitting the beaches of Cozumel in '09. That's cool - it looks to be great race. Hope we don't get any late season hurricanes...
IMCanada'09 - Those crazy Canuks have done the unspeakable and, yes, opened up registration on-line for an undisclosed number of slots. I know of two who got in...Blink - taking him out of IMAZ...AND...MN B2B! My step-sister in-law also got in, and is VERY excited about racing next year. Truly...good for them both!
So now what with the MN B2B? Looks like there has been interest garnered in an unlikely, yet very likely place - in the heart of Minnesota itself! Yes, Tacboy and his super-hot Trimama have quietly mentioned to Heir Bigun that they'd like to participate in a 4-person Relay. This leaves one more slot open - perhaps for the likes of another smoking hot, uber-fit, fem'd triathlete extraordinaire...none other than Iron Jenny? Doing this race for the first time as part of a 4-person relay sounds a bit more fun (Bigun says, hiking up his skirt...) than the 2-person variety. The registration price goes up at the end of next month, me thinks, so we still have time to hem and haw.
I actually started running again - 4 times so far this week (it's Saturday...I'm wanting to run tonight and do a little longer run tomorrow...) and while I thought I had two giant, fat sandbags for legs on Monday, by Thursday things felt a whole lot better. Bike and Pool...soon, grasshopper, soon....
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tacboy seems to have turned and in a rare uber-race moment, smiled for the camera. World Domination! We are lucky to have his experience for our new planning center up in the Hallowed Hall.
Oh, and if you don't listen to the TacBoy and Bigun Podcast, you totally won't get any of this. In fact, there's a good chance you are slightly offended. Sorry about that!
Monday, September 01, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
- No, I didn't watch the conventions (not tonight's either). Please. The VP? Talk about bloated media hype. It's all sycophantic - these jerks tore each other up a few months ago and now they drip with praise for each other. Unity....right. I may not have ever posted this, but my feeling is that we will NEVER see a true man, or woman, of character, leadership, strong ethics and great ability run for the Presidency again, simply because the process to get there is so sickening. What person of any mettle AND integrity would run for office? And please don't list any of the current running candidates or recent presidents.
- Those conventions are just giant pep rallies anyway. Cram as many people as you can into an auditorium and prompt them to cheer and go wild and use that to say, "wow - look - the "people" really support this guy". No different than a sitcom's fake studio audience laugh.
- Won't Clinton ever just go away (Bill, I mean. I feel the same about Hillary, but we're stuck listening to her for a long time to come)?
- Aaaaaaagh - I'm writing about my least favorite topic - Politics - someone shoot me!
- No, still no training - not since June 22nd. I've got to change that.
- I have a promising business lead - will know more in 2 - 3 weeks. Keeping fingers crossed - it will be just what the doctor ordered.
- Space Raiders on Facebook is awesome. Could be why I haven't trained since June. Or not.
- It is sooooo hot here. A few hours out cutting grass in 95 degrees and high humidity is really taking its toll.
- Simply Media is also very cool...echoing Tac's post. Streaming files from friends music and video libraries is neat - of course, I've only got Taconite Boy's music to sort through, and well, remember how Trimama is really into Folk Music (Podcast Episode 1)?
- Looks like an active hurricane season this year again. I'm finding that Weather Underground is a great source for information on these storms, and there is a cool feature - the Wunder Map - well, you need to see it yourself and if you are at all a weather-geek, like me, you'll dig it.
- The next podcast episode will be dark. Your triathlon super heroes haven't been feeling "it" lately, so if you want to commiserate with us, by all means, look forward to our Picasso Blue Period piece.
I need a new Blog feed reader - something that tells me when blogs have changed or been posted on. The last 2 I've used no longer work, and I really like not having to peck through every one's blog to find a new post...any suggestions would be welcome.
Friday, August 22, 2008
After making, finishing this - I am easily reminded of why I hold such a fondness for triathlon, "blogdom" and now Ironman. All these people in this video were awesome, and from all over the country, they are my friends. Who knows if we can ever put a week like this together again - the number of new faces, the dinners, the party, the race - but it certainly is worth the effort!
I hope the quality of the video is worthy of the fantastic photography of my lovely bride, TrisherpaDi, and of the photos I stole from various blogs. Thanks in advance, if you see a picture here that belongs to you. I miss training for Ironman. I miss the becoming. If you are thinking of undertaking the journey to M-dot-ed-ness, by all means, find the means, and find your way. It's worth every minute of it.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
- Flight to Cozumel: $717 (each)
- 4.5 star hotel: $100+ per night
- Bike transport: ??$200??
- Doing and Ironman on an Island with all your creepy Internet friends: Priceless.
One thing I noticed that really is a no-go in my book - a one-lap ocean swim with no wetsuit. Last time I swam 2.4 miles at Clearwater Beach for the Hurricane Man with no mid-point break and no wetsuit, I was rubbed raw in my armpits. Granted, I could have used more body glide...but my distain for ocean water in my mouth is well documented. I'll take the toxins in Tempe Town Lake over salt water any day and twice on Sunday.
Sorry, I'll be staying stateside for a while, and keeping my eye on IMAZ09...
Friday, August 08, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
Now again, I'm not expert, but I'd put fitness and racing in the "Esteem" level of this pyramid. I'm sure one can make an argument that fitness is very much physiological, but it would take a lot of convincing to make me a believer. I've been fortunate in life that my own personal physiological needs tend to be pretty "healthy". I've never been in such dire straits that my sole focus has been at that level. Thankfully!
But very easily, I believe, one can find themselves in the "Safety" needs level. Get yourself short of cash - I mean really short, like "how in the heck are we gonna pay the rent this month" short, and when your diet consists of Ramean noodles and PB&J's for 2 out of 3 meals or worse, and you are there. Unfortunately there are many important things that take a back seat when you sink to that level. Friendships, family relationships, spousal interaction...and it's weird. It's not like you don't have the time, you just don't have the energy....
Of course, these "levels" are not absolute, and a person will devote energy and resources to areas that need attending to while still operating at a higher level. Hence, a relationship may get strained while you put more hours in at work, but one wouldn't give up the relationship totally, for example.
Maslow calls the "love/belonging" level a Social level. It's interesting to me that as important to many the relationships formed in "blog-land" and even the therapeutic effect that maintaining a blog has for some, there will still come time in all of our lives when the blog - the relationships - will take a back seat to more pressing needs. That's just natural - unfortunate - but it's the way things are.
So, for whatever reason - perhaps it's the echo in the bank account, or the lack of satisfaction with my business, or wanting to spend more time at home with my wife - or - I'm just dang burned out from all the training...I'm having a hard time finding the motivation to train. It's been 5 weeks now since Iroman CdA...and I've only run once for all of 2 miles. Sure, I sweat my ba**&ack off every day out cutting grass, and fortunately I've only gained 6 lbs in 5 weeks, but somewhere I need to find the motivation. Or get all those other damn needs taking care of. And quick!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I see the results of my bloggie peep's toils - their training volumes posted in their buildup to Ironman, and mine sooooo pales in comparison. The first step in the "healing" process is to fess up, right? I started the whole process a bit earlier than some, but not all - I was 30 weeks of Ironman focused training. Yea, you can question the "focus" part. Here goes:
Average swim volume per week: 3,545 yards. Result: 2.4 mile swim in 1:34 for a 2:29 per 100 meter pace, which I think is a 2:13 per 100 yd pace. I have a hard time complaining about that. I didn't even average the length of the Ironman swim per week! I wouldn't recommend that to everyone. Or, maybe I would. I did do 3 swims of 2.4 miles or more leading up to the race, however.
Average bike volume per week: 77.1 miles. I know, I know - "its all about the bike" - right. Result: 112 mile bike at a 17.4 mph pace. I passed 679 people on that ride. I did 5 centuries in 9 weeks - I'm sure that helped my bike a lot. Of course my advise is to ride long...often.
Average run volume per week: 16.6 miles. That there was my downfall. Not that I didn't finish. Result: 14:18 min/mile "pace" - where 749 people passed me back on the run. It was ugly, partly due to my stomach issues, but more probably due to my lack of run volume leading up to the race. Most of that 16.6 mile volume took place MONTHS before the race during my marathon train up. If you were to see my volume for the last, say, 12 weeks leading to CdA...you'd laugh. Longest "long" run between Feb and June - 11 miles.
Average Total Training Time per week: 8.5 hrs. Result: 14:32:23 We'll do better next time. Not that I could have had more fun. Weight for Ironman: 254 lbs. I'd really like to get that down to 225 lbs for the next one. I just have to want it bad enough...that's the big question...do I?
Saturday, July 26, 2008
- No workouts yet. I miscalculated, and Monday coming up marks the 18-week start of the Marathon trainup. So I've got that to look forward to. That was a healthy 5 week break from all things run, bike and swim. Can we say, "burned-out"? Bigtime.
- Work sucks. Royally. It's so blooming hot, and humid, that by 3pm I'm absolutely smoked. Unfortunately, I need a couple more hours to get them all done. Hence working on Saturday and Sunday this week. Crap.
- I get to do my first "install" this Monday. It's something akin to hanging a picture, but I'll take it. Ya gotta start somewhere. It just so happens the "economy" has a strangle hold on every one's money these days, and window treatments tend to be one of the things put off 'till later. Now why couldn't that be the yard work instead?
- Yes, the bike is still in the box. It's doubtful I'll do another Tri this season. I just don't see it as being in the cards. I saw some folks on their bike today...and was jealous that I had to cut grass and they were out pedaling. I wonder if you heard a loud and resounding "FU&^!" this morning at around 9:30am? That was me.
- I'm escared to step on the scale. No workouts = a rounder M-Dot Bigun. Granted, I've been sweating my ass off every day outside. So, it may not be as bad as I think. I'm just not checking...
On the good side, TriSherpaDi's started her new J.O.B. this week and seems to be hitting it off famously with her co-workers and boss. Lets hope this economy turns around soon so we can all go back to making money and spending it on fitness instead of having it all go to pay for the lights. Can I get a "here, here!"?
I've got my resume out and about. I'm looking. I'm looking for something interesting. I don't want to settle, and I'm afraid that I'm gonna get into desperation mode sooner rather than later. The fingers are crossed, and the feelers are out. More on that as it develops, I promise.
What else? You all know that IMAZ'09 is shaping up to be the next IM for me. I'd like to go and Volunteer at the '08 race, but that's only 4 months off, and financially it's not looking good right now. We'll see. If worse comes to worse, I'll try and sign up on-line - it's scary to think that IMUSA sold out on site - but whatever happens, happens. We really, really, really want to go and spend the weekend in Scottsdale, however.
Jenny and Brent are heading to Tampa tomorrow night and will join us at the casa d' bigun for some eats and drinks - looking forward to that! Trisherpadi ususally pulls out all the stops cooking-wise when visitors are coming over....mmmmmmm....dinner-guests......some pictures of the food should be forthcoming.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Tomorrow, Monday, begins my 18 week Marathon Training Plan. It couldn't come too soon. Of course, looking at the plan, Mondays are cross training days. So I guess I'm swimming tomorrow, which I also miss. I guess, if I plan on biking any time soon, I'd better take it out of the shipping box and put it back together. Is that bad karma? I'm sure my bike needed a break too.
I'm working on a montage using a slew of pictures from CdA using Microsoft Movie Maker. It worked fine to a point...now I have so many pictures in it, I think, that it locks up if I try to add any more. Friggin Gates....
Oh, and the TB&B Podcast...um...sorry folks - Tacboy and I talk about calling each other - the conversations go something like this:
Taconite: We really need to finish up this episode....
Bigun: Yea, when do you want to do it?
Taconite: Any night this week is good for me...oh wait, I've got a thing on Wednesday and Thursday, so I guess Tuesday, or maybe over the weekend.
Bigun: Na, Tuesday's no good for me, I've got a really long day that day. Maybe Sunday then...
TriSherpaDi in the background: Don't forget about going over to Dawns Sunday night for Mexican....
Bigun: Oh crap, that's right - dude, we need to get this done.....
And it plays like that week, after week, after week. Please! Don't hate us!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I'm just using them all up before ya'll can sling them.
Yes, I'm still cutting lawns. Still have my man card from that. This is my kinder, gentler side coming out. Coming out, like from the closet. Yea, that was too easy...
I'm feeling behind the times...I saw, with TriSherpaDi last night, Super Troopers, made in 2001. How did I miss that one? Great flick - rent it if you feel like laughing for an hour or so. BearFu*&ers.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
We are pretty excited here in the casa d' Bigun. TriSherpaDi and I signed up to be volunteers at IMAZ08. We are looking forward to cheering and meeting up with our bloggie peeps, again - albeit 6 months from now!
Oh, and read between the lines, can you? That's right...IM #2 - IMAZ09! I'm already excited about it. Another shot. Better. Stronger. Faster.
What else? I'm pretty psyched for another shot at the SpaceCoast Marathon on November 30th. Goal: Lose a ton of weight, and go sub 4:30 with an eye toward 4:15. That's the plan right now...I'll start an 18 week marathon trainup in 2 weeks. So that's the short term plan. I'll keep you posted on that.
Hopefully Tac and I will have time this week to finish up episode 11 of the Show. We owe you guys a great one!
Friday, July 04, 2008
Announcer: We bring you now to another Amazing adventure of Taconite Boy! A new evil nemesis wreaks havoc in the universe as our heroes rush to the scene...
...loud sucking whirring, like a vacuum cleaner....
Taconite Boy - I can't take it, Bigun, he's got me in his evil clutches and I can't get away!
Bigun - Fight it, Tac - here, take my hand!
TB - (grunting) .....got 'cha!
Announcer - a huge swirling tornado of idea-sucking vacuum is being directed at our SuperHeros. All who enter are rendered blogless! A dark, sinister being is at the helm of this device which seems to suck ideas and motivation right out of it's victim's skull!
Bigun - Resist Tac, Resist - Don't fall down the path of Bolder, FE Lady, the Kahuna and now even Nytro! Look, there goes Tea! (yelling to the evil one...) Whoever you are....you'll pay for that!
Unknown Evil One: ...Sinister laugh...
Announcer: Swirling out of control in a mass of legs, arms and a cordless computer keyboard, Tea spins headlong into the vortex...
Tac Boy: (with effort) I....can't....hold....on....Bigun! I'm slipping!
Bigun: Don't let go, TacBoy, the blogger world needs you to keep on putting pen to paper! There are even more devious evildoers than this insidious character out there...I can't do this alone!
TB: I'm slipping.....(echo off)....aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.....
Announcer: Diving into the vortex after Taconite Boy, The.Bigun races, without a plan, to save his podcasting partner from impending doom. Tune in next time to see what happens next!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
So the finish. Just so you know, there will be many posts that I make regarding this whole experience. The people of this week are sorely missing from my posts - our bloggie peeps - our creepy internet friends - as well as photos and video that needs to be compiled. This is really just the down and dirty. The way Blink likes it.
The aid station with two miles to go was packed with a group of college kids drinking their brains out and yelling and screaming and high-fiving us through the aid station. I knew this would be the last aid station I would partake in, so I downed a "double" of coke, and stopped to walk only long enough to swallow. The mile to the next aid station was a long one. I could hear the finish line, but it was getting dark and lonely. I took advantage of a particularly long stretch to walk for a minute (I'd count to 60) and collect myself for the final push. No more walks. No more coke.
I doubt many folks were using the first/last aid station much any more - it was pretty well packed up for folks bringing it home. I ran through it and said thanks to the few remaining volunteers. Around the corner I knew the route separated for folks finishing and folks needing to do one more lap. Oh the secret pleasure I took in scootching over to the left side of the road - the finisher's side! This new ground snaked through the streets of Coeur d' Alene where volunteers informed me of an 8 block run to the finish line. Hanging a final left at the top of finishing street, I could see the two bright spotlights that shone the way to Ironman. They were now close.
Coeur d' Alene proper converged on these 8 blocks. Because of the spotlights in my eyes, it was difficult to see just how many folks there were, but I could feel them just the same. "Great job, Marc!" and "Keep it going - your only 3 blocks away!" filled my ears and hands outstretched for high-fives were laid out in front of me. These spectators filled the shadows of my peripheral vision, and that shadow bottle necked to the finisher's shoot. I thought it was loud running those last 8 blocks - the noise was nothing compared to the final 100 meters.
I was all alone entering the shoot, but as soon as I came into view, the stands went bonkers. These folks, with a few exceptions, didn't know me from Adam, yet they screamed for me like I was a family member. I couldn't hear the announcer calling my name, but like on the bike, I had some more High-fives to give. I caught sight of Di on the right side surrounded by "creepy Internet friends". I went left and slapped hands with folks I didn't know, then right again, then left. At last, the Ironman tape lay stretched out before me. I tried to lift it over my head, but one of the holders had more strength then me - still, I held it, and in that instant, became an Ironman. It felt awesome.
My insanely long run split of 6:14:33 doesn't even make me all that mad, even today. I've certainly got a goal now for my next run at Ironman, with my finishing time of 14:32:23, shoot, so many things were great about that day, it would be silly to be upset about 6 hrs of it. Very quickly after finishing, collecting my medal, t-shirt and hat, I spied Di and collected my finisher's kiss and hug. Mmmmmmmmwaaaah! Even though she could have, I'm glad she didn't have to hold me up.
Friday, June 27, 2008
So I swam the thing in 1:34 - what makes that incredible is that, folks, I really didn't do much swim training. I had an open water swim of 1:52, and then a pool swim of 1:41 at the distance - I really was hoping for a 1:45 or better - how it happened I have no idea. The draft? Probably. Not sighting, ever? Probably helped too. Oh, don't get me wrong, I had plenty of activity in the scrum - just because I was "the.bigun", I didn't get any respect. I even had my swim cap knocked off. That's NEVER happened before. It was rough out there, but really, in my pea brain I knew that as long as it was rough, I was catching a draft - even though my tendency was to swim out away from the scrum line, I fought that urge and stayed in the mix. Probably helped my split.
The last 1k meters I totally had to go. #2. That also may have helped my swim split. I didn't hear any announcement of my name as I exited. All I wanted was out of my suit and into a port-o-potty. I was dying thinking of the minutes wasting away but I finally emerged, victorious, and off to the changing tent I ran. Nekked Bigun. Oh, and there was some serious shrinkage - but other than Bolder, I really wasn't out to impress anyone. I seriously - read "very, very much" - over-chamois-creamed my bibs, and it really did not feel that great once the shorts were in position. The sacrifices we make....
My bike was LONELY on its rack, as usual after any triathlon swim that I participate in - which brings me to my first IMCDA gripe - a total lack of race clocks on the course. I would have been AMPED had I known I crushed my swim goal, but instead, my lonely self was just content to be done with it. A surprising 9:54 T1 (I really thought I took more time purging) on a goal of 5 min, and I was off on the bike.
Now I was certainly ready for the CdA bike course. I put in 5 Century Rides in the months leading up to the race - confidence was high. Perhaps a bit too high! It took my Garmin 1 mile to finally read the satellites, and after all the stats finally popped up, my HR was about 155. Way higher than I planned! It was flat, and usually after the swim my HR is elevated, so I worked to bring it down by calming myself, taking deep breaths and slowing a bit. Just in time for the first hill. Now I'm looking at HR's over 160 - and I had told myself that I just would not do that no matter what. Oops.
I really didn't do much hill riding - ok, lets call it what it is - mountain climbing - here in Florida. Even in the hillier parts of the area I live in, there is little that resembles the 5 or 6 major "climbs" of the CdA course. On one of those climbs, one of the crowd cheered, "great work, there, big guy!" - and it made me think... "hey, this is Ironman! I'm supposed to be WORKING at this, not sitting back and taking it easy!". By the end of the first 56 mile loop, I was feeling it. I probably went out way too hard. Coming back into town, I totally planned on taking it easier on the 2nd loop. Then, almost exactly 1 mile from the bike special needs turnaround spot, something interesting happened. I saw Taconite Boy. He was "merely" 2 miles ahead of me. I stopped real quick to pee (no, I just could not get myself to squeeze it out while riding....) and put myself into chase mode.
Now I know that's kinda uber competitive of me, 254lb Bigun, to pick on skinny little 180lb TacBoy like that. But truthfully, at that point, I needed a spark. I didn't pick up my pace, I just didn't fade. Well....fade much that is. Those climbs the second time around were done in the smallest rings possible, and I'm sure they were slower than the first go-around. I did not spike my HR this lap and kept myself under 160 for most of the ride, even on the big efforts. Up at the next turnaround, Tac was about the same distance from me, maybe a quarter-mile closer. "He has to fade sometime" was all I could think, and my strength, the flats that were also into the wind, were coming up.
I passed a bunch of folks in those last 12 miles heading into town, folks shaking their heads as the wind beat them after 6 or 7 hrs of riding. But I did not pass Taconite. He entered T2 4:46 ahead of me - I certainly gained ground, but couldn't catch my podcasting partner. Great ride, Tac, and thanks for that 2nd loop! I got'er done in 6:26:59 for an average speed of 17.37 mph. Goal was to be "better than 7 hrs", and a 6:30 was my ultimate best-ever, all great day. Wow.
Sitting down to change into my run gear, all I could wonder was, "where am I gonna find 26 miles in me?". Another truth: I'd never run off of my centuries - I was venturing into uncharted territories (as well as that 112 mile ride was my longest ever) and a little bit worried. I looked left and right and saw lots of dudes just sitting there, holding their heads in their hands, resting or thinking the same thoughts. That catalyzed me, and I just methodically put my run clothes on with the help of a volunteer (who put my shirt on backwards....way!) and got the hell out of that tent....into another port-o-pottie. Only #1 this time. T2: 6:51
The first 13 miles sucked royally. After 2 miles, my stomach went south, and stayed there no matter what I tried. I walked. Lots and lots of walking. Momo caught me right away at mile 3. Then Bolder and Spokane Al smacked me down at mile 10. Greyhound zoomed by at mile 11 or so. I tried bananas, pretzels, water, Gatorade - none worked. I stumbled into run special needs and grabbed my long sleeve shirt, knowing that it would get cold, especially if I was still walking. I remembered, all of a sudden, advise from Bolder - drink Coke at mile 13 and never go back - it will help. So I started drinking Coke and taking in a gel or two. Ta-da!!!! My tummy was all better! Strange how fast it took. Should I have started with it earlier? Don't know - but you can bet that next time I'll try it!
So shortly after mile 13 (pun intended), Greyhound runs by me again and he says, "You're reeling me in, Bigun!" - and he's about 2 miles ahead of me, and for the first time I feel great. I thought, "you know, you can turn this around. you can negative split this marathon. you may even catch Grey....". I vowed then and there to only walk the aid stations. Weird thing - I started to pass people. After 13 miles of getting passed by EVERYONE - the.bigun now has a wake. I certainly was not moving fast, just faster than before. There was pain, but I had energy. Energy is everything - you can overcome pain with energy.
I really wish I had a 13 mile split for you, but IMCdA did not post run splits. Gripe #2. Along with gripe #1, ie, not having any clocks on the course, my only timepiece was the sun - and sunset was around 8:30. The sun was getting low in the sky - I knew I wouldn't finish in daylight. But running I still was, and ticking off the miles better than in any back half of a marathon I'd ever run. The feeling of only 5, then 4, THEN 3 miles to go is almost indescribable. Elation is a good word for it. Relief. Psyched out of your mind. I started seeing folks heading out for their 2nd laps with glow-rings around their necks - for a second there I was wondering if I was going to get one....
At 2 miles I could hear Mike Reilly announcing finishers in the distance. Since the finish line was one of the coolest experiences ever in the history of "HARD THINGS THAT MARC aka BIGUN HAS DONE" - I'll save that for later.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Di stood by me through all the training, all the gadget buying and fretting over reservations and plane fares. She waited nervously for me when my IM run went to shit, worried that something horrible had happened to me.
She put up with my daily obsessing over trinkets and splits and sunglasses without hardly a word of complaint. She was there for me. I love her more than she knows.
She was my first friendly face in the finish shoot - her hug and kiss was the validation of a year of training. For over 14 hrs she found me on the course and lifted me from whatever funk I was in at the time.
I couldn't ask for a better partner, lover, friend - if I haven't said it enough - Thanks, Di - I love you!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The weather is going to be perfect. The water temp has risen to manageable levels. The bike course looks challenging, the run course is absolutely gorgeous. I can't imagine a more beautiful Ironman course.
So I - we - all of us are ready. Tomorrow, I attack at dawn. Looking around at all these uber-fit, mostly little, svelte, hard-bodied people, I have to keep reminding myself that I've done the work too. Pace...Nutrition...Attitude. Almost time for my game face.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I'm sure there are things to do and places to see once we get there. I and perhaps we (TrisherpaDi included) miss the mountains so much living here in the swamps and land of the giant rat, that just being amongst them and their majesty might be enough. The lake, the cool temps, different vegetation and building structures will all be so different to make it a great enough escape.
Truly, however, the infinite meets, hugs, hello's, conversations, and get togethers that will take place from this coming Wednesday and continuing on for nearly a week will make the trip. Physically getting out and doing what we love to do - swim, bike and run - with our virtual friends is an opportunity of a lifetime. Spending time with people that I know, possibly, better than friends I have locally but because they don't blog, our friendship is somewhat superficial in comparison.
I'm not saying all my non-blogger friendships are weak relationships and that just because a person blogs then they are my BFF. All I'm saying is that, well, when it comes to YOU ALL, I know things. I know fears. I know triumphs. I know family troubles. I know of trials and graduations and birthdays and new births. I was there, in my living room, watching you cross the finish line in Wisconsin, sharing, even that little bit, the glory of that moment with you. Thank you, BTW. I know things you probably don't talk about with your local friends and family - how do I know this? Because I don't talk about most of what I blog about with my local friends and family.
But then again, I'm a dude.
See many of you soon!
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Yes, that's right - the easiest 4 digit number to remember in the entire world - I'll bet even a few of you lazy folks even use it as your PIN on your debit card. You know who you are!
Now that bib numbers are issued...dang this thing is getting close. Did you see the lake temps plummet in the last 2 days? Crimeny! We'll be darn lucky to see 55 degrees come race day. And what's with the cold evening lows? 47 degrees - basically, the water will be warmer, if you can believe it, than the air temperature on race day. Now that's a comforting thought!
So assuming I make the swim time cutoff of 2 hrs and 20 minutes, we'll exit the water to a happy 50 degrees and jump, water-logged and frozen, on to our bikes for some 17 - 30 mph (remember, there are downhills too...) riding through cold air. What you say? Highs for the day could reach 81 or so? Nice...just in time for the run, we'll hit the day's high - which is still 15 degrees cooler than temps at the year-round-outdoor-training-center.
And NO, I'm not complaining about 81 degrees - luv that! The question is...how quickly, once the sun does down, does it cool off around there? I'm guessing it's pretty quick - and since I'm 99.9% sure that if all goes well and I make the bike cutoff - I'll be running in the dark, and the cold. TriSherpDi - bring a jacket!
Too bad I don't have a 12:34 Ironman in me....
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Dang there are a lot of t-shirts in this box! We are gonna seriously represent in Idaho (who you calling a ho?) this year!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The new aerobottle - great as well. no splashing with the new lid means that I can fill it up to the top now. It also means no face full's of Gatorade when I hit a bump! Refills easy with a standard waterbottle - really, no negatives and all positives.
I tried the new Roc Gu - contains extra amino acids and caffeine. Good stuff actually. Used 2 on my last 50m ride, on an empty stomach, and I really liked them. Maybe Gu will have some at CdA...
I also bought a pair of the cheepo booties that Spokane Al recommended on the CdA blogger site. $18 with shipping; it's hard to go wrong there.
My taper has been a bit less than textbook. I've been really, really taking it easy - aside from work, my workouts are lacking. Now that I'm shipping my bike out today, I'll be really avoiding any temptation (however slight) to get on the trail and ride. I have been getting in some heavy lifting - moving TrisherpaDi out of her studio, and then moving all the "stuff" into the house. Fun stuff.
I shipped my bike today to Spokane! $53 to ship it. For all you shippers out there....some tid bits:
- If you can get the box under 7" wide, you can save around $10 on Fedex ground. My box was 8" - I may have been able to take an inch off - but with the crank on, it makes the bike a bit wide.
- My box height was 28". I didn't change that dimension (or the width) - and with my seat removed, the top of my seat tube and the bottom of my crank took up the whole box. My bike is a 58 cm.
- The box length was 43" - even if it was smaller, that would not have effected the price much. I believe that under 50" is where you want to be. I shortened the box to match my bike's length. The whole orig. box by itself would have been over $80 - so by shortening the length, I saved a bunch. I was able to do this by not shipping my wheels. I'm renting Zipp 808's, so I figured that sending the extra weight and lengths were not necessary. The whole thing, with the tools to put it together, weighed 28lbs.
- I took off the rear derailleur and hanger - to protect it - and that helped the length . I had to loosen and bend in my aerobar grips, and take off the elbow pads, to make that whole contraption less than 8 inches wide...that was a pain in the neck. I just hope I used enough Styrofoam to pad it all. I guess we'll see in a week!
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
I'm sure things will work out. I'm sure they will get better. Months, even weeks ago, it was easy to put my head down and get out the door without much fanfare. Now there's a lot of "shaking off the cobwebs" before one foot goes in front of the other...and even then, there's not a lot of enthusiasm involved. Of course it being 97 today didn't help matters much.
I'm psyched - really, I am. I am so wanting to hit that beach and get this show on the road. I'm looking forward to meeting so many great people, and sharing this event - dare I say "life altering" event - with everyone there. Not to mention the parting. Did I mention the partying? It would be nice to have some things settled by then. But that, my friends, may be cutting it a bit close. If you see me, in 2 weeks and 4 days, not quite in a place I should be....PLEASE...feel free to snap me out if it. I'll welcome the help. Trust me, I'll be working on ME as well. I know all too well that I'll need to be above and beyond the black cloud that surrounds us at this moment in time.
And no, Nytro, that doesn't include a swift kick in the bells...and I don't mean cowbells either.
Monday, June 02, 2008
I'm kind of mad about the friend dying thing. Being as young as I am, even with my military background, I haven't had that many people that I know, family or friends, die. My friend was only a year older than me. I say friend, yet I'm positive I did not know him well enough.
Tom and his wife Lisa started as customers of Diana - she did some design work for them, including a remodel of his restaurant where I first met Tom, "McHale's Chophouse". It was absolutely the best food I've ever eaten. Tom cared about every plate that was ever served, and came out to check on his customers often. Oh, the calamari, and prime rib...it was all just awesome! He grew tired of his time away from family (he had 3 young boys) and the headaches of owning a restaurant (and a bar, and another restaurant) and closed down my beloved McHale's! I was NOT the only one in Brandon who was angry that day for sure.
But that's not why I'm mad now.
We had dinner at Tom and Lisa's house once, maybe twice, and met them out as well - Di continued to have a business relationship with Tom and a friendship with Lisa, but for some reason I never really had time (or made time?) for Tom. Now he was a busy man too - it's not like he called me, ever, or I called him and tried to get together for a beer. It just never...happened.
We had some things in common, Tom and I - he went to Cornell the same time that I went to West Point. He was riding a bike a couple years ago... actually he stopped riding just as I was starting to. We both struggled with our weight and size, and talked of diet and exersize. We both loved food. Tom was a lineman - played for the Bucs, the Eagles and the Dolphins. He still weighed-in close to 300 on a good day, and I don't know....big guys just seem to get along. He had way about him - he was just great to be around.
I'm not sure when I learned, but Di told me one day that Tom was in rehab. He was in constant pain as a result of his injuries earned during his football days, and had succumbed to a habit he was working to break. When I heard, I thought, "Tom's a strong dude - he'll be ok soon enough", and I really didn't give it much more thought. I got updates from Diana through his wife Lisa, and it seemed like he was struggling more than I would have figured, but not so much that it caused me concern. Why wasn't I concerned? I don't know, really I don't. I guess I just thought so highly of Tom that I figured he'd fix it.
So I missed out. That's what I'm mad about. I had a chance over the last 5 or 6 years to get to know a really great man and I blew it. No, I don't think I could have influenced him in any way to change the circumstances causing his death. He had plenty of friends - good one's in fact - and his family was loving and there for him as well. Selfishly - I just wish I'd have known him better. I know he would have added to my life.
Tom will be missed. If it's possible, or makes sense, I wish I could be missing him more.