Thursday, May 31, 2007

Unthinkably Cold Water

Its hard for me to describe it. I knew I had to get in the water today, and I put it off until 5pm. I ran 5 miles this morning, right past the Aquatic Park (photo to the right) so I could scout out the place. Of pain. There were 4 or 5 folks in there swimming at 7am - one guy got out and said that it's about 5 degrees warmer than a month ago. Boy, that's a relief.

The run went well. It was a VERY easy jog that took me out to the water exit (below) across from the gold-domed Palace of Fine Arts. The most striking aspect of the morning was the HUNDREDS of people out jogging and biking. I saw three groups of folks doing either Yoga, a group stretch and then run, and some neat, boot camp type of multiple station workout. Either I've been living in a cave (likely) and this kind of stuff goes on all over the place, or San Francisco is uniquely physical fitness orientated.

I ran by the soon-to-be transition area and the RD team has the equipment in place to start setting up. I'll be running by tomorrow to pick up my bike about a mile past the site, and look forward to seeing their progress. Now that I'm here, and the pieces are all falling together, I'm getting more and more excited.

Di had a crummy day today as we think she has a fever and a constant runny nose. We kept our activity to a minimum, with the hopes that tomorrow is a better day. High temperature today in the Bay area was 58 degrees. Jees. In Tampa, if it were 58 degrees, I'd probably pack up the bike, forgo that workout and do a run instead.

So the swim...I get to Aquatic Park and there's a guy with his family from Utah putting on his wetsuit, getting ready to swim. Good thing he was there - I forgot how impossible it is to zip a suit up by yourself. So now the moment of truth arrives, time to get in the water. No, I don't have a "hot head" swim cap yet - so it's just my bare skull and the frigid water. Wading out, it doesn't seem so bad, that is, until I dive in.

It was like being slapped in the face with a thin flat board - whack - over and over again. Out goes the face, and I'm a doggie paddling. Down I go for another round. And a few strokes later, I just can't take it anymore. I try side stroking for a while, just to spend some time in the water. This is serious! Face down, I manage to breath to the right a couple times and to the left a couple times. No kidding, 100 yards later, I'm ready to get out RIGHT NOW. I swim in to shore, and walk up to sit down for a minute.

This is going to be a process. Fortunately, I found my AquaSphere goggles and thought enough to bring them. I put them on, and went back in. Immediately there was a huge difference over regular speedo goggles. Less facial surface area touching the water. I swam non-stop out to the buoy line and back in - another 100 yd swim. Total time in the water was probably 15 minutes. No shark or other wildlife sightings. I'm guessing the water will be colder out in the bay - hooray.

One of the other guys out swimming was Joe, a newly graduated West Pointer from New Jersey. It was great to meet him and talk to him as we both got out of our wetsuits. With the cold wind blowing, it was good to be a Clydesdale compared to his 140 -150 lb standard triathlete self. He was shivering, while I was gabbing away, happy only to be out of the water. Good luck Sunday Lieutenant Joe from NJ! Joe actually earned his way to Escape by placing in the Escape series down in Florida in late March.

So, tomorrow we run again, grab the bike and ride a bit (it's been since last Monday since I've spun the pedals), and try and double my swimming time. Oh, and with luck we'll get to see a little San Franciso tomorrow as well!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Holy Crap it's COLD here! Getting off the plane was one thing; at the airport it was comfortable, but you could still feel that it was chilly (especially in my shorts and t-shirt, "Mr. Florida"). Then at the hotel, closer to the water and a bit more cloudy, it's just plain cold.

Wow, TriSherpaDi and I are wiped out. Of course we didn't sleep much last night, packing and cleaning up the house for the pet sitter (my awesome Sis, Allison and her husband "E") - on the Trimama scale it's a solid 3 1/2 (yes, the bedroom door is closed and locked...). Up at 3:30 to finish packing and be out the door at 5:45 - it was like going to a race for Pete's sake.
Plane rides went without a hitch. Aside from almost losing the Laptop, the flight on Delta was great. Flying over the northern most parts of the Grand Canyon and then the desert over Utah - neat stuff. I'm pretty sure I even saw Half-Dome in Yosemite. Awesome! I got my Garmin (Nuvi - brought it along for tourist-type activities) to work on the plane - it registered our 500mph speed, and confirmed our flying over the Colorado and Green rivers. Pretty cool.

For the first time, I downloaded a slew of podcasts of various authors and just hit "play" on my IPOD Nano. It seems that Simply Stu were the first ones on the cue - and I listened to Stu do interviews non-stop for the 6 hours from Tampa to Atlanta to San Fran. Great interview about base training, listened to Jessi talk about stretching, heard the raceAthlete folks in Temucla, and fell asleep for a while (not out of boredom, but I think I just finally crashed...) for his interview with the XTERRA World Champ Melanie- sorry Stu, aka 1 second man.

Until you drive through San Francisco, it's hard to appreciate the hills of the place. I've been living in flatlands way too long. Not that I'm going to do anything about it any time soon. Probably. They are fun to look at - we'll see how nice they look over my aerobars.

Di and I have decided to crash out and veg for the rest of the night - we are just wiped out. Tomorrow will bring a splash at the Aquatic Park and a run of some length, most likely over a part of the actual run course. Till then...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Escape from Alcatraz PSA

Family and friends have been asking, "what is the schedule for race day, and how can I know if you made it thought the swim ok?".

Well, the swim waves start at 7am Pacific time - so all you East coast folks can sleep in Sunday and log in to your computers around noon. The waves will be all done by 7:06am. The swim is approximately 1.5 miles, or about 2,640 yards. With about a 2 minute per 100yd pace, I should be done with said swim in 53 minutes. That will be highly dependent on conditions such as chop (wind), current, water temperature (which will be cold - given) - so figure at least an hour, although last year, few people finished over an hour.

After the swim, I have to do a 1-mile warm up run to the bike transition area. I'm sure, being all cold and such, I'll be about 10 minutes to get done with this little run. Shoot, it's going to be 52 degrees, according to the forecast for Sunday, with a high of only 67 - so its going to take more than a mile run to warm the Bigun up!

The bike is 18 miles of San Francisco hills - ug. For a Clydesdale, hills are deadly; it will be a slug fest. This is called "The Great Highway Ride" and will take over an hour. I'm not going to commit any further.

The final leg, the run, is 8 miles of hills, sandy beach, a long set of sand-covered stairs, and final run down to the finish line. This part is a crap shoot - it's any one's guess - lets just go with an hour and 30 minutes to give folks a number to go with.

Now, you can go to this site: Accenture Athlete Tracker and log in to see real time when I get done with different legs of this race. There's supposed to be a nifty 'net-cam at the finish line, so around 3:15 after I start, or around 10:15 am Pacific time, start watching for me, I'm planning on wearing my raceAthlete jersey. Wish me luck, and thanks for watching!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Looking ahead

As the first half of my '07 Tri season comes to a close, I'm find myself regrouping and looking ahead to part two. Part Deux. The second half. What should me goals and objectives be, now that I've seen where I am with a few '07 races under my belt?

First, the new addition, the Tri One-O-One Woodlands (TOOOW) has moved up in priority and is now my official "A" race for the back half. It's 23 weeks away - lots of time to get ready and do better than last time. To be fair, the Bradenton race was a feeler - I had no idea what I could do, how to pace it, etc...I learned a lot that day for sure! A finish time of 10 hrs on a little over 7 hrs of average training just means I didn't commit to that race very well - this will change for the last two quarters of play.

As warm up events, I have two big ones - the Chicago Olympic in August, and the Florida Challenge Half in October. I really, really, really want to break into the 2:30's in Chicago, and I have 12 weeks to improve upon my St. Anthony's PR of 2:48. 10 minutes is a lot of time, but considering my 9:48 run pace, I can work and cut 6 minutes off my time just by running in the 8's. 4-5 min on the bike by getting my avg speed up over 21.5mph from 20.9mph. And the swim, jeesh, I can drop under 30 minutes, I just know it - and that would be worth 2 - 3 minutes. I know - lots of big improvements...but I need to have something in my cross hairs.

The Florida Challenge will present another opportunity for a PR at the Half Iron distance. I don't expect a better bike than last year's Miami Man - this Clermont-area bike is way too hilly to expect more speed than the flats around Miami. But the run - there's loads of room there. That 12:55 pace from Miami is just begging to drop into the 10 range. That's worth 26 minutes, and drops me under 6 hrs. That would be the goal.

The big A race, the TOOOW, is where it all boils down to. Just running a 10 min pace would cut my time by an HOUR and EIGHT minutes! I can also make some great gains in the swim - and should be able to cut that 1:15 3k swim to 1:05 (leaving some gas in the tank still). That 1:18 with a similar bike time is enough to drop me to under 9 hrs, which would make me confident for doing well at the full Iron distance.

So how do we get there? By concentrating on my 2 biggest weaknesses - swimming and running. I've got the mechanism in place for strengthening my swim - the Masters swim sessions with Coach Mio. 4 times a week at 5am is the plan. Yes, it's nearly double the swimming I've been doing, but it has to be done. It truly is the ONE workout on the schedule that has to be completed, without fail.

Running - the long run was missing horribly from the front half of my season. I blew off nearly every long run, except for the half mary I did, without fail. I paid for that on the run in the 101. Get out and run, Bigun! Just get out and run.

So there it is - public race goals with definite times to completion:

Chicago Oly: Under 30min swim, 21.5 - 22mph bike, 8:45/mile run for a 2:38 or better.

Florida Challenge: Under 6hrs. 10 min/mile pace run.

101 Woodlands: Under 9 hrs. 1:05 swim, 19mph bike, 10 min/mile run.

One other thing that will help immensely, is the loss of another 12 -14lbs. That illusive 230lbs. 230 for Woodlands is reasonable. 12 lbs in 24 weeks - that half a pound a week. Sounds easy, but it's not, this I know. I like chocolate way too much. I have to get back to counting calories - it was very successful the first time I did it - it was worth at least 10 lbs earlier this year.

Why is this so important? Good question - probably THE question, right? Well, with that kind of performance in a 101 race, I could be confident of doing reasonably well in an Ironman. It's important to me that when I do toe the Ironman line that I'm capable of the kinds of paces (2:00/100 swim, 19mph bike and 10min/mile run) that would get me done in 12 - 13 hrs. Accomplishing that with the 101 THIS year, puts the extra 30% to the IM distance in my sights for next year. The big question then will be, "which one do we sign up for"? Excel Man seems to be ready to pull the trigger on IMFL08. The boys and girls from Tri-Blogger Alliance led by The Kahuna were organizing an IMCdA08 trip - but I'm not sure if that one's loosing some steam. We'll have to decide soon, since if it's going to be IMCdA08, we'll have to sign up for that one on June 25th (less than 30 days from now, people!!). IMFL08 makes sense in that it's a drive away, no plane tickets or bike fees or transport costs. Notice I didn't say it's easier than IMCdA - but it's certaintly uglier. Hard decisions coming up.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Photo Finishes

These are always neat to see - just how close we come to a better place in a race. This is a finish line shot with 10th, 11th and 12th place Clydesdales over 40 all in the same photograph (that's me in 12th place there...)

What really sucks is that I had a better bike and run than both these guys, in fact, I beat the guy who came in 8th in both the bike and run. That's why they call it TRIathlon. Is it really all about the swim?

I'm really digging having a Masters program that I can go to between 5am and 7am every day - well, not Wednesday, it turns out - 4 mornings a week and get almost one-on-one attention from Mio, the resident coach. Race after race, the weakest part of my performance is my swim. I hate to offer it up, but if you (the reader) live close enough to take advantage of the program, it's only $37 per month!

I gotta say, I've been very lazy this past week. I know I fought off a cold, probably brought on by being a bit exhausted. We leave for San Francisco on Wednesday - so I'll be able to swim with Coach Mio on Monday and Tuesday, and get in a little running in, just so I'm not rusty for Sunday's race.

What has Coach Mio done for me so far? Well, he videoed my swimming and showed me how badly I was crossing my arms over my center line in front of me. And, he showed me how crappy my reach was. He started me on a drill where I reach out to my sides - almost 90 degrees it felt like - and extend to get a long pull. After a morning of doing those, he filmed me, and although it felt like I was reaching out like a bird with wings, I was actually reaching perfectly straight in front of me; no crossing over, no waisted effort, long, strong pulls with both arms. I still have to think to reach out to "the side", but it's starting to become second nature, and the best thing - I look more like a swimmer now.

Speaking of swimming, Alcatraz is right around the corner. Just keeping my fingers crossed for decent conditions - looked at the weather for this past week and the highs were in the 60's! I'd better bring some sweaters and a jacket if it keeps being so cold. Pucker factor - high, getting higher every day. Thinking of getting a waterproof disposable camera for the swim - saw a guy on Slowtwitch (The Cuban Comet) who took pics during the swim, and it seems like the thing to do, as a responsible blogger/race reporter...

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I get so excited looking ahead and seeing all the cool races on the horizon! I get caught up in the hype, in the challenge and in the "mode". The "Race Mode". The line of logic goes like this, "I've done all this training, now it's time to RACE!". Well, I think I've overdone it.

Five races in 8 weeks. What was I thinking? Well, I think I already wrote what I was thinking. Only one was a sprint. Those 8 weeks ends in about 10 days out in San Fransisco. I'm beat, and what's worse, I think I might be catching a cold.

I've already shipped my bike out to CA - which is a good thing - believe me! I'm fine with just swimming and running for the next 10 days. I hope none of you are expecting any earth-shattering race statistics from me from Escape - my race goal is to finish and have fun. Ug, that makes it sound like I'm not confident about finishing - so let me rephrase that - to race and have fun.

This is a mini-vacation for me and TriSherpaDi - that's Mrs. Bigun, but I think Roman might have coined a new name for her that doesn't include the word 'big' - and as far as vacations go, it's not really a "mini". We rarely do "just the two of us" - so three pre-race days in San Fransisco are days to really look forward to.

So take a tip from me - next time you feel the need to race your guts out and pack a ton of races into as little time as possible - rethink it, and then don't. The bad thing is that I look back at all of the races done so far this year and ask myself which one I would have cut - and I can't pick one. I've enjoyed them all: Clermont, St. Anthony's, One-O-One, Mad Beach... just let me get through the next 10 days, and enjoy Escape from Alcatraz too, and then maybe I'll just sleep-in a day or too. Promise.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mad Dog Tri

The St. Pete Mad Dog Triathlon Club holds an annual Triathlon as part of their fund raising and recruiting, held at Madeira Beach, Florida. As usual, the event was a hit - great expo, awesome weather and a beer truck and rock band waiting at the finish line. The Mad Dogs, one of the oldest and largest Tri Clubs in the country, really know how to throw a Tri, with plenty of volunteers and great post-race food and activities. They forgo the finisher's medal - if it's because of the party budget, then I'm all for NOT getting hardware just for finishing the race. Five of us friends met to race in this event, from left to right we have Excel Man aka Curt, Lukey Luke, Rob (a friggin fish), the Bigun, and Lil Clyde, aka Jeff from Michigan.

The course is a ocean .5 miles swim that is set up perfectly for novice Triathletes, like my buddy Jeff - Lil Clyde - who came down from Detroit to race with us this weekend. The buoy turns from the beach start are just a couple of strokes out, then it's 8x100 yard buoy lengths along the beach to the final turn with a short 100 yd tops swim to the beach. You could easily stand at any point along the way, and the water was calm and crystal clear.

The Clydesdale start was one of the easiest in the history of triathlon - I seeded my self in the back and let the wake of 55 Clydesdales drag me out to the first buoy. I turned down the shore and started swimming, and 16:35 later, behind 21 other Clydes over 40 (and 11 Clydes under 40 yrs old), I was running to T1. My 1:53 per 100 yd swim is not a PR, except that it was without a wetsuit, so for that distance, and no pickle suit, it was my best effort. Still hard to fathom that I got out of the water 32 places back, considering that I felt really good and really fast today. Oh well, back to the pool for me! And, of course, Luke and Excel Man (Excel Man shown to the left battling it out at the run finish with a 17 year old girl...) both stomped me on the swim, my only real chance of being competitive with their skinny behinds, Luke beating me by 5 seconds, and Curt grabbing the swim split nod by an impressive 30 seconds.

The Bike Course is a gently rolling, mostly up hill (Ha!) 15 mile ride that took the inside of two to three lanes for most of the course. There were police at all the major intersections, and I felt safe for the entire event. I did see motorcycle umpires out on the course - hard to believe they only got 4 folks drafting out there, but it's probably harder for the refs to see the violations than for the athletes to see them. In a race with so many new folks in it, I'm not surprised by the number of folks I saw drafting and blocking.

I had a painfully slow T1 - but I did take time out that I usually don't to throw on a shirt - I don't like swimming with one on, but I don't like racing topless. My goal was to finally break 22 mph for the bike - and I came close, finishing the 15 miles in 41:12 for an average speed of 21.84mph. This tied me for 4th best Clyde bike split over 40, and only 2 younger clydes were faster. I even managed to tie my racing buddy Luke (who is 37 and weighs about a buck-70), and open up a can of woop-ass on Excel Man by beating him by 7 HUGE seconds! So I had a race day bike PR, and stomped on Curt really hard (whom I still owe dinner for kicking my butt at St. Anthony's, by the way).

I was back in form for T2 and got through it quickly amidst the sounds of cowbells and loud cheering from our support crew (that's part of the crew to the left - Diana, me, Jeff's wife Carrie, and Lil Clyde). Even Jetpack was there snapping away with his high-speed camera and reminding me to take short strides to get my legs back. The run course is an out and back 1.55 miles for a 5k total, with the first half on the street, and the second out on the beach. I finally managed to reel in Rob (coming out of the water to the left, Photo Credit Diana), a phenomenal swimmer/Clydesdale friend who had the #1 Clydesdale swim split of the day at 12:22 (congratulations, Rob on that - your 1:22 pace per 100 yds is the stuff of Clydesdale legends...). I had tried to catch him on the bike, and watched him from about 200 yards away as he dismounted from his 20.06 mph average bike split - so instead I had to reel him in on the run.

The entire run split, all I could think about was Excel Man running me down and passing me with a 5 minute head start. That thought haunted me for 26:57, and fortunately I came in ahead of him. I actually ran down a few Clydes with my 8:41 pace (I didn't get this guy though, on the right...)- coming across the timing mat, through 200 yards of deep sand, in 12th place and a total time of 1:28:03. That was just 3:15 out of 5th place - the medal group, but I have to say, I don't think I left anything out there on the course today.

Cool thing about this race - last year I did the swim in 18:40, taking 2:05 off with this year's effort. I did the bike at a pace of 20.35 mph, an increase of 1.5 mph, and the run sped up this year by 25 seconds per mile. Last year Luke beat me by 6:52 - this year, only by 3:38 - watch out, Lukey Luke, the Bigun's a coming (he doesn't look too worried to the left)!

Excuses? Sure! Lil Clyde being in town over the weekend meant lots of food and beer on Thursday and Friday, and a really late night before bed on Saturday (plus a day at the beach, in the sun!) - but the whole point of the Mad Beach Sprint is to have some fun...this year a race seemed to get in the way of drinking a lot of beer.

Lil Clyde did his first ever triathlon today - hooray for Lil Clyde! He beat 18 Clydes with his 1:40:30 time, with a 2:17 pace on the swim, 19.1 mph average bike split, and an 8:53 run pace! Awesome job today - we hope he races again with us soon...and maybe even train this time!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NO Stress?

So I decided to go down this path (having my own lawn business) for lots of reasons, one of which was to dial down the daily stress that the J-O-B was dealing out, and the other major one was to get back to working from a position of absolute integrity. For all intents and purposes, I now cut grass for a living - how hard could that be? Right.

Yesterday began with the best of intents - get my customers done for the day so that I could get my workout in, and perhaps even get out to Flatwoods with Diana for her inaugural bike ride. That's when things went horribly wrong. I started with a brand new customer who spoke zero English - nada, nunka, nothing. My initial contact with her was through her daughter, who did the negotiations and let me know what her mom needed.

I was in my groove, had busted out my line trimmer (weed whacker...) and was making my way around the house. Of course, here in Florida, nearly all homes have irrigation systems, and these are all built pretty much the same, with a 1" PVC pipe from the main water line that leads to a cutoff valve and line back down to the sprinkler heads. This contraption sticks out of the ground about 2 feet - and in a cost saving, home builder, shoddy workmanship style, is made of perhaps the lowest grade, thinnest PVC that could be gotten away with. The PVC pipe you buy at Home Depot, say, for home repairs or projects is easily twice as thick as what was used on this home (and my home too, I'm afraid...). This PVC sits in the sun 24-7, and gets more brittle with each passing year.

You can see where this is heading. In case you didn't know it, a weed whacker will slice through this PVC like it was just another piece of grass. In an instant, I had an eruption of water! I had hit the inbound pipe, the one that comes from the street - after a couple of minutes of panic, I realized that the only way to stop the flow was to turn off the main from the street. Ever try that? The water company has a special wrench they fashion for the sole purpose of turning that valve. My buddy Mike lived close by and I borrowed a pipe wrench and wrestled that valve closed. Eventually.

I learned a bunch yesterday about irrigation systems. I can probably do some pretty good repairs to sprinkler heads or lines and maybe even add a sprinkler or two if given the chance. The four hours I spent panicking, then getting the water off, then repairing the line, then testing the system (only to find out that it wasn't working in the first place - ug!) - and the really funny part, attempting to communicate with Senora Customer with my nearly non-existent Spanish, made for an interesting start to my day.

Large pipe wrench and all the tools and supplies needed to fix a busted water supply line - never leave home without them. Yes, yes, I know, pictures would have made this much more interesting. Sorry to disappoint you. The really funny picture WOULD have been of me trying to stop the leak initially with Duct Tape - water all over me - that must have been hilarious! And here I thought Duct Tape (100 mile an hour tape) could fix anything. Another one of life's disappointments...

Sunday, May 13, 2007


The fact that I did next to nothing last week had to have been Karma, since I really, really wanted to get out and do SOMETHING! Anything would have been great - on the one semi-clear day we had, I got a short 1,500 yd swim in, and that was it. Was someone trying to tell me to take a week off? Possibly.

This smoke has been here all week. Some have said being out in it for one hour is like smoking a pack of cigs. "Stay inside" they say.

I'm well rested, that's for sure. Tomorrow starts my second attempt to seek swimming help from a coach in the form of a Master's Swim Class. The local swim coach for the Brandon Blue Wave swim team is on hand for coaching the Masters Class - Mio Vasic - and when I went for my first 3 free sessions, months and months ago, he was great. I'm looking forward to committing myself to the swim program now - mornings daily from 5am - 7am.

Alcatraz is on the horizon now - with some 'binos I can see it pretty clearly. It's hard not to get anxious about this race - I'm really more excited to be able to take part in it than anxious about the challenge of it. I'll plod through it, like I always seem to do.

Hey! Awesome weekend coming up! Luke, Excel-man, and Lil' Clyde from up near Detroit will be here for the Mad Beach Sprint Triathlon! Lil Clyde is racing his first Triathlon ever - so we are all pretty excited about that (that's him to the left - he's under Clyde weight - that's why we call him Lil'). This race competes directly with the Florida 70.3 at Disney this weekend, so the crowd may be a little thin - or at least lacking the usual suspects. Most important - still has the beer truck. After that - foo-foo drinks across the street on the deck. Race finish time? Who cares (wink, wink), right (although I'm sensing some sort of sprint PR in my future...)?
Have a great race weekend everyone - seems like this is that awesome time of year of travel, sweat and brotherhood! Enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Before and, well, still working on it...

Most will wish they didn't have the opportunity to see this - if any children are present in the room, have them turn away, and if you are prone to nightmares easily, stop looking now. People ask all the time what got me into this sport - I should just hold up this picture and say, "here I am after losing 35 lbs, competing in my first triathlon - I weigh about 270lbs". This is me after 400 of the most grueling yards of swimming I thought possible. I side stroked most of it on September 4th, 2005:
Hopefully there's a difference after a few triathlons (and another 25 lbs); running out of the water after 3,281 yards non-stop freestyle, May 6th, 2007 - just 20 months later...
I sort of was using this One-O-One race as a litmus test to Ironman distance, specifically if I'd upgrade to the GFT instead of doing the Florida Challenge in November. I'm pretty sure now that I'm still a Tri-infant, and need the rest of this season to train and grow and build a base worthy of Iron distance. I'll retest, hopefully, in an end-of-season race of Tri One O One Woodlands, and make that my "A" race for the second 27 weeks of this season.

If you are having a hard time figuring my workout schedule - I start my season after my last race of the prior year. It makes sense to me since it's the time to transition to pure base training. Anyway, with the 1st 101 done and the first half of the year gone - its time to see what's possible for the second half of '07. I still intend to sign up for IMCdA08 - next June me and Mrs. B will be looking forward to a great VACA and trip out west to see some of our blogger and tri-friends and celebrate this joy that is triathlon! Perhaps we'll meet a few of you at Woodlands, and bring it on home Texas style - yeeee haaaaa!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Thank you all for generously donating your time and effort to the naming of Diana's new car and bike. Betty Lou is fine and well, and is tearing up the roads as I write this. Actually, it's on it's way for a little tail end work - the addition of a hitch to which a bike rack is mounted. We'll be going to races in style now, baby!

I have some disturbing news, however. It has come to my attention these past few weeks that Betty Lou is not always herself. It seems that in times of great stress and trepidation, Betty Lou "leaves the building" and becomes a totally different person. A hot car pulls up along side her, and suddenly she's a little faster. A car hogs the fast lane, and Betty Lou is right on it's bumper, almost pushing that sucker out of it's way.

In and out of this dual personality this little car can go at a moment's notice. Get cut off or be the recipient of some other form of driving faux-paux - fugetaboutit - Betty Lou leaves the reservation, no longer to be seen until tucked safely away at the Bigun Driveway. Who is this other personality, you ask? Who kicks Betty Lou in the ass and grabs the wheel and accelerator, forgetting completely about brakes, "the fuzz", speed-limit signs and fuel economy?


I think that when I'm in her, Betty Lou is happy and completely at ease. I have a calming effect on her that keeps her in control - safe in the eyes of other motorists and old folks crossing the street with their walkers. Every now and again Domino pushes to the surface, and I have to talk nicely and stroke the dashboard to send her back, deep into the transmission or block or where ever she resides when she's not testing the limits of her grippy tires.

Domino....Domino is going to cost me some serious cash one of these days, that bad a$$ bit*&. I can't be in her all the time, like I'd like to be. I'm just a passenger. A bystander. I'm just glad the seat-belt works and she comes with a nifty roll bar thingy. Be strong, Betty Lou - Be strong!

Monday, May 07, 2007

One O One Bradenton Race Report

In case you were wondering, it is possible to finish a One O One with an average of 7:43 of training time per week. Not recommended, however, but it is possible. 10 hours of training in the weeks prior to my taper were probably 5 hrs too short. I really should have gotten in a long run of 14 - 18 miles and another long bike. Oh yea, some longer swims of at least race distance would have been nice. I was 244 lbs on race morning - ug - at the beginning of the season I had wanted to be at 230lbs by now. Oh well...

What a cool race! It began with an in-water start on the way for a 3-lap 1.86 mile swim. The water was 82.5 degrees - so wetsuits were not allowed, and even though it is considered the Manatee River, the water was very salty...I was seriously ready for some fluids during that third lap. I tried to stay on someones feet for as long as I could - I was successful for the first two laps, and then folks stared to tucker out and I was alone for the last lap (yes, I actually passed some folks on the swim!). I think I kept my pace even for all three laps - and it was very hard to take it easy and I had to keep reminding myself that there was still a long day ahead. I came out of the water at 1:15:05 (92nd out of 119 starters), and except for some pain in my left shoulder, I felt pretty good (of course, looking back, a 2:29 /100 yd pace leaves a lot of room for improvement...).

I packed a complete change of clothing for the bike - bibs, cycling socks, and raceAthlete jersey, plus a Ziploc bag with my flat tire kit. I had taped gels and Endurolyte packs to my bike for easy access - they stretched from the head tube all the way to seat. Lesson learned - I paid more attention to my calorie intake on this race than on any other - the tape served as a way to tell how much I had taken in, and the gels sitting there showed with my knees hitting them from time to time let me know I still had some to go. I think I taped down 16 and had 5 left when I transitioned. The gels and the Infinite mix they had with the protein was my only fuel.

It was early enough at the start of the bike that there was little wind. It would be a long bike ride - the wind and the heat sure did pick up. You can see from the Garmin chart a half lap of "with the wind" and a half lap "into the wind". Interestingly, for most of the race, I made my best gains on other competitors while traveling into the wind. Since I was doing EVERYTHING I could to keep my HR in the low 150's, my speed really trailed off at the end with that wind, and more so than on any other ride, training or else wise, the bottom of my feet were on FIRE! I tried loosening my shoes, tightening them - I've got to find a solution for the future, because that was just plain miserable.

We did 6 laps out on a very flat HWY 64 - no, it's not that picturesque, but the road was in great shape and we got to use two whole lanes of it. Right away I had the distinct pleasure of being passed by pro after pro - it was awesome. Since we were doing out-and-back laps, we could all see everyone else along the course (I passed by the one bike injury, Ashley Carusone, who broke her jaw when a driver ignored police at one of the many intersections - the police really did an awesome job and were great the whole time). Granted, it was a little disheartening to see some riders head off (about 50 folks) to do the run while I still had a lap to go. Di had parked herself just past the aid station with her camera, cheering and cowbell - and even our extended Tri-Family Luke, Perez and Boo showed up for a few laps.

Right at mile 58 I heard a loud bang - yep, my first race flat! Front tire blow-out, luckily on a strait-away, and no one around so I could keep it strait and come to a safe stop. I got to the side of the road and immediately thought I'd pull a Norman-Kona trick and not be able to get my tubie off! I had left about an inch unglued across the from the valve, but it was still hard to pull off. Then, imagine my horror as I realized that I had a Hed Jet 90, but packed a new tubie with a regular length valve! Fortunately, again, the valve extender easily twisted off the old valve and on to the new one. I put it on the rim, used one CO2 to air it up, packed up all my trash and got out of there in 11 minutes. I have to admit, seeing all those folks pass me that late in the game kinda took some of the wind from my sails. I finished in 4:30:25 and had the 85th best bike split out of 104 with bike times. That got me a 17.9mph average speed - take out the 11 minutes for the flat and that goes up to an 18.67mph avg (and 75th best bike split) - but that's racing.

Back into the changing tent I went to re-emerge as a runner. I wish. Most of the first of 3 laps were spent fighting off the nausea I had from over hydrating right away. I guess I was just scared and wanted to get in as much as I could - which I did - which I shouldn't have. I mixed in some running and walking and met up with a pro - Richard Armstrong - who was dogging it in on the last lap and was nice enough to run at my meager 12 min pace for a while. He hit a port-a-potty, and I kept going, knowing that he'd eventually catch back up. He did, before I got back to the beginning of the lap, and went on by to finish up as strong as he could - really nice guy, and I wish him some strong races in the future.

Starting the second lap, I saw a dude in yellow and black - as I passed by him (he was ahead of me in the loop) he asked if I was a Clyde 3 - I said yes, and he turned and took off running again - so I thought to myself, "ok, it's on...". Since I was feeling better I made it my mission to a) run the whole lap, and b) run this Clydesdale down. I could see him turning back and walking every now and then (there were long stretches where you could see pretty far ahead), and eventually, I caught him. It was at a price, however - with one more 6 mile lap to go, I had run myself down to the ground. I also needed a potty break.

After that, I started the old, "run up to that parked car at least..." then walk trick. 4 miles of that, and I was ready to get it done and over. I had been psyching myself up for it for a while, so I was ready for the pain when I started running with no intention of stopping until the finish. I could hear footsteps behind me, which also helped motivate me to pick it up towards the end. I did manage to run that last bit with no walk breaks, and run up the ramp to the finish amongst the sounds of Di's cheering and cowbells and the announcer telling me I was a finisher. It was great to be done!

By the time I recovered enough to get out of the chair I found, and eat some chips (that was about all I could stomach), pick up all my gear and change clothes - it was time for the awards banquet. I didn't know how I would be able to stomach any food, but I was very hungry at the same time. It all stayed down. The Bigun doesn't waste banquet opportunities. I scored a great plaque and some Specialized Chicane sunglasses - very cool. We sat down with local Age Grouper Chet Miller from Plant City whom I'd met before he headed out to IMAZ on the Strawberry Century ride. As we were in the food line, a bunch of people sat at our table - we had hoped they hadn't taken our seats. Turns out we got to eat with Nina Kraft and a bunch of her Pro Triathlete Buddies. Lots of German flying around the table - and everyone at the table got either a plaque or a check. We left as the beginning of the day's only rain began to come down. The race was awesome, the volunteers and police did a fantastic job, the winnings and free stuff was great as well. If you get a chance, do this race.
Edit: Oh yea, my run wasn't much to speak of - 4:10:14 for a 13:40 pace and my finishing time was 10:09:37 - that flat would have been nice to get back so that I could come in under 10 hrs. Next time...

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Wow - I'm glad that's over! I am WAY too tired to do the day any sort of justice - just wanted to let ya know that I'm alive and well (sort of) and finished the race. I even took first place in the 225lb and over 40+ Clydesdales - the other guy dropped out after the bike for whatever reason.

Friday, May 04, 2007

101 Bradenton Pre-Race

Yea, it's Friday and the race isn't until Sunday, but since I haven't done a race this long and with the different bags and such, I wanted to put all that together tonight and tomorrow morning before I went back down with my bike. Pre-race jitters. I'm really trying not to think much about it, but after seeing the swim course, sans-buoys, it's hard not to get just a little bit excited.

Check out the massive Transition area! It's awesomely small...only has to hold my bike and about 200 others. Can you belive it? I can't remember a tri that I've done, period, that has had less than 200 total people in it. I talked with a Volunteer there and he tells me that we will have our bikes taken from us after the bike leg is done for sure, and if they have enough volunteer support, our bikes will be handed to us after the swim as well. Pretty cool - makes me feel kinda special (and no, I've never done an M-dot race). Just to make sure, I checked, and Blink, I can fit in the changing tent...

There is no beach, so they will remove these bars in the barrier and we will start and stop the swim here. Still no idea if it's a water start, but for safety's sake, I'm guessing we will be in the drink. Another first for the Bigun. At least along the wall where I was standing, there was no perceivable current - but out there a ways, and first thing in the morning instead of 4pm when I was there - we'll see.

It was 90 degrees when I was out there taking pics. The high for Sunday, however, calls for 85 degrees and a 30% chance of rain. It is supposed to be 71 degrees when we start; too bad we have to waste the low temps while we are in the water! Tomorrow may be different, but the "expo" was one running store vendor, a gel-guy, and the infinite drink provider for Sunday's race. I got a chance to sample the bike and the run formulas - I know, fancy-schmancy - and I'm guessing they'll be fine for me. The bike formula's got some protein mixed in, and I could tell it was a little "thicker" - but nothing that wouldn't quench the thirst.

I drove in along the 6 miles of HWY 64 that we will be biking on - the road is in great shape, and except for the 2 little bridges in the middle, it's Desiree's 6-pack flat. It's got 2 and 3 lanes on either side of the road in places, so traffic will be running on the right as we ride. Traffic was thick from 3pm - 4pm, but on Sunday morning, except for Churchgoers, it shouldn't be too bad. The race starts at 7am - so by 1pm give or take, at the absolute peak heat of the day, I should be off the bike and running. Go Bigun!

I spread all the stuff I got in my registration kit out here on the couch. I was really looking forward to the advertised visor as I was going to wear it on the run. Looks like I'll be going with my favorite hat again - schwag from my Miami-Man half - it's just such an awesome cap. Believe it or not, I have yet to look inside the new Inside Triathlon issue with a sexy Desiree pose on the cover.

Because I'll be able to change into whatever I want on the bike, my plan is to wear the coveted raceAthlete bike jersey and my favorite bib-shorts. This would have been the perfect time to announce a really special deal I was selected for, but since I don't know all the details, and the "kit" is on order and is 5-10 weeks out, I'll hold off on that. Anyway, I'll change into an awesome pair of nike tights and running shorts (no bike pad...yea!) with the uber-tight white nike run top (no nipple bleeding, hopefully), and be on my plodding way.

Now I have no idea how this will work, meaning if it will be your typical web cam and dreary triathlon race coverage or if it will be pretty cool - but you'll have to be the judge as I'll be out on the course. And since most of you will be racing on Sunday, well - maybe my family will be able to tell me how the coverage was. Click here for the 101 Bradenton website. Near the top there is a red headline that says, "Live Race Coverage" - after you click on that there are 3 choices - a blog, video, and "intime results" - whatever that will be. Perhaps it will give our splits as we cross over the many timing mats it will take to keep track of our 9 different loops we'll be traversing.

I've read so much and I thank everyone for their support and guidance for this race. I truly plan to take it easy for the front half of this race - and somehow leave enough in the tank so that the 18.6 mile run is not a pain-fest. I like the comment of Excel-Man, "its a catered 18.6m run" - of course, I respond well to words like "catered"... The race area should look even better tomorrow after all the signs are hung and more people are milling around. I'll write more later!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Scared? Say your scared!

Ok, I'm Scared! See the counter to right? 3 days remain until the 101 in Bradenton, and I have no idea if I'm ready. Not a clue. I'm guessing not, but I don't want to be all blacked out before I even start! Take the swim (please...) - I can remember no 3k training swims in recent memory. Should be fun, then. I had every intention of working up to 3k swims at the pool - just never happened. Lucky me.

I've done a few 80+ mile bikes in recent history - so that should be ok. I'm going to take it slow - yea, right. The only thing I do well, and I'm going to take it easy, like that's going to happen. The PLAN is to take it easy, watch the HR (if I can get the damn thing working again) and relax for 80 miles. 'Cause then what? Oh yea, a nice little 18.6 mile run afterward.

Hopefully a few half marathons in somewhat recent history will pull me through to the finish line on Sunday. The course has three 10k (yes, unfortunately they are in a row...) loops - so I'll be able to break it down into 3 painful sections. Can't wait. The bike is loopy as well - 5 or 6 loops, depending on which article you read - which is cool since I'll be able to see my greatest fan, Mrs. B, a bunch - more so than any other race so far. I'll be needing more Cowbell for sure.

And I have no clue, really, of what to expect. Sure I've done a Half IM distance race, but this one has GEAR BAGS and a CHANGING TENT - so now there's more to fuss about. Oh yea, and I just quit my j-o-b and started a landscaping/lawn maintenance company. Fun times.

I'm scared, did I mention that?