100 Miles! Coldwater Rumble Race Report

In 2007 I finished Ironman Coeur d’Alene and was looking for a new challenge. I turned my sights towards running a 100 miler, and started up this blog to record the journey. Last weekend I got there, finishing the Coldwater Rumble 100 in 30hrs, 41min.

My pacer Malcolm and I at the finish line (photo: Jesse Ellis)

Here’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…

The Good

My main goal was just to finish, so I took a pretty conservative pace from the beginning, and had time booked to account for slowing down as night fell, and as I got increasingly tired. For big chunks of the race I was able to stick with my plan of jogging the flats, walking the ups, and running the downs.

A beautiful sunrise to start the day!

Hydration went really well. I had 60(!) scoops of my custom Infinit blend distributed across 8 soft flasks. The course is comprised of two 10 mile loops, and three 27 mile loops, so getting access to the bottles was super easy. I then drank course water from a 3L water bladder in my pack. I also took two SaltStick capsules an hour. Dehydration has been a race-ruiner for me in the last year or two, and I’m SO done with that!

I was sure TSA was going to question me as a Drug Mule!

I had a pacer join me for the final 27 mile loop, and that was super helpful. Malcolm Bennett volunteered to pace me after a friend posted my request in her local running group. I was losing focus on the second to last lap, and knowing that he was sitting there in the middle of the night waiting for me to arrive was a powerful motivator to move along quickly. There was also a time, probably around hour 28, where my mind was starting to drift – so I just started asking him lots of questions about his work and hobbies, and used his stories to get me back on track. Thank you Malcolm!!

Malcolm getting a much deserved foot massage at the finish

I’ve got to give a shout out to Aravaipa Racing – the race organization and aid stations were about the best I’ve seen.

The weather was awesome – I wore a light wool shirt and shorts the whole way, and a light windbreaker the first morning. It did rain some, but it was warm enough that I didn’t bother putting on a jacket or gloves.

Early on in the race. This is a good view of what the trail surface was like

And a special thank you to the Mariele Wardian, another United In Stride guide. Mariele got me connected with my pacer Malcolm, and was a big support through the weekend…all the while pacing another runner for 27 miles!

Me and Mariele – glad that it’s done!!

The Bad

Rocks. Not “oh, there were some sections with rocks”….but rocks Everywhere. I’ve worked very hard to increase strength and flexibility in my ankles, and that saved me. I had kicked a couple rocks, and was so happy that my shoes protected my big toe. And then a little while later BAM, and I knew I’d lost a toenail. An hour later BAM – same toe. Looking at the toenail now, I don’t think I’ll lose it, but it’ll definitely be looking like I painted it with “Ultra Brown” nail polish 😉

My toe after a couple days

The rocks and uneven surfaces also gave me a couple minor blisters, I suspect because my toes kept clinching to try to “grab” the ground – a bad habit I’ve been working on breaking. My Brooks Cascadia shoes mostly protected the bottoms of my feet, except for one rock that felt like it poked right through into the ball of my foot. That one spot still aches today, and the rest of the bottom of my feet are still complaining “Dude, what the hell was all that!?!?!?”

Here’s a picture I took of a nice uphill section

While I was mostly able to run the flats, by the end of the last lap I was reduced to walking pretty much the whole time due to shin splints in my left leg. I was able to run, but it felt less like “yeah, running hurts sometimes” and more like “I’m doing some serious damage here.” My evaluation turned out to be correct. When I got to the finish line and looked there was a hand size splotch on my lower shin that looked like a pretty bad sunburn. It’s a week later now, and the red has mostly gone away, but there’s still an inch long knot on the shin tendon.

I really should have arrived at the race venue earlier. I was busy getting my “camp” area setup, went to the bathroom, and got to the starting line just as the race director said “go”. So I got just about no warmup or stretching in. I did allow myself a mile or two at the start to just walk, and get going. But I wonder if not doing a my normal warmup and flexing routine contributed to the shin problem I encountered later in the race.

The Ugly

Somewhere near the middle of the race I started battling diarrhea. I suspect this was caused by food poisoning from the lunchmeat I was carrying. (I’ve since looked it up, and the consensus guidance is that lunchmeat is edible for 2 hours at room temp…I was trying more like 7 hours at 98.5 degrees. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.) Aside from the three or four emergency trailside stops, I lost a lot of time walking, because trying to run (before those emergency stops) really aggravated my backside. I was thankful that all the trouble was only going in one direction, and I wasn’t throwing up or feeling nauseous.

And back to The Good

I finished! A 17 year old goal: Done. So happy. I guess it may be time to come up with a new name for the blog!?!?!

They gave out great race swag:

The coveted 100 miler belt buckle
A nice workout bag
Finisher’s mug, wooden “medal”, table top thingie, and buckle

Desert R.A.T.S 2011


Back in November of 2010, I read a short race report about a six day, stage running race – 148 miles across the Colorado and Utah desert on foot.  My imagination was hooked, and eight months later I found myself on a bus with 31 other racers, driving away from Moab, UT, on our way to the starting line nearly 150 miles away.  The bus stopped at a trailhead, we got out, and after some brief encouragement from the race director, we began our trek back to Moab, along the Kokopelli trail.

Day 1 was actually one of the shorter days, “only” 20 miles.  But starting in the midafternoon meant that we experienced the heat and wind of the day.  I was struck by the beauty majesty of the surroundings.  I’m used to trees and flowers, so it was hard for me to see the beauty that first day, where rocks, scrub brush, rocks, and more rocks were our steady diet for hours.  But the majesty of the canyons and buttes is plain to see – and everywhere in this part of the desert.  My run went well on that first day, but I grossly underestimated my fluid needs.  I ended the day severely dehydrated, and after finishing spent upwards of half an hour on my back with my feet elevated trying to get my blood pressure stabilized and my fluid levels settled.

During this time I was watched over by an outstanding medical team.  There were four docs who travelled with us – some were ER docs, some with military combat medicine experience, and all of them visibly committed to making our run a success.  Each night, the medical team would set up a “blister clinic”, and treat all comers – draining blisters, and taping feet and toes for the next stage.  I’m glad that on the whole, their week was uneventful.  But they were a great asset to the race, made us feel more secure, and were great guys as well.

Photo: Glen Delman


Blister Clinic

Before the race, I considered Day 2 the most difficult, and it did not disappoint.  Since we started Day 1 so late in the day, we didn’t have much recovery time between these stages.  It also traditionally was the warmest stage.  Due to recent flooding of the Colorado River, our planned camping area at the end of Day 2 had to be moved, so our mileage for the day was shorter than planned, around 35 miles.  I spent much of this day (and many of the others) running with Kurt and Shelley Egli.  They had run RATS twice before, and were a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Kurt was my “desert whisperer” – throughout the week he would quietly inform me of some nugget of info about the heat, the course for the day, or the week ahead.  Shelley taught me that I have a whole other gear with which I can climb hills!

Photo: Glen Delman

Kurt and Shelley Egli

Somewhere near the middle of the day we met up with Jason McGinniss – who had been way out in front of us up until then.  Jason had taken a wrong turn, and had burned a fair bit of time and energy before getting back on the course.  The four of us ran/walked for what seemed like hours.

Photo: Glen Delman


Jason, Shelley, Kurt and me

Much of the second half of the day was on one LONG, relatively straight “road”, so someone would pick a landmark (typically a telephone pole), and we’d run to that.  Then walk to the next pole, and then we would run to the next landmark. Repeat. And again. Do that 30 more times.  And that was Day 2 in the books.  I spent much more mental effort on drinking a LOT of fluid, and keeping my electrolytes topped off – so thankfully I had no hydration/energy/GI problems at all.

Each day the wonderful camp crew would tear down camp as we ran, and when we arrived at the day’s finish line, miraculously we arrived at a fully assembled camp.  Food was plentiful and very tasty.  And I’m not sure how many watermelons gave their lives during the week, but I’m guessing it was somewhere north of 100.

It takes a lot of eggs to feed a bunch of hungry RATS!

Starting on Day 2, each of our camps was close enough to the Colorado river to allow us to soak our legs, and take a QUICK dip – the water was very recent snow melt, and was probably in the mid 50s.  But it felt soooooooooo good on the legs, and it was nice to get at least the top layer or two of dirt off.

For Day 3, we ran a little longer than expected, to make up for some of the lost distance the prior day, the consensus was that it was around 11.5 or so.  The joke around camp was that: “It’s an unusual group of people who consider an 11 mile run a ‘rest’ day”.  I ran with the Egli’s again, and Doone and Tim Watson – a delightful couple (of fearsome runners!) from Canada.  Well, I ran with that crowd until the mud.  We had been warned about the mud that the receding river had left on the trail – and nobody had any trouble…except me.  My very first step into the mud resulted in my shoe and gaitor being sucked right off my foot!!  I was glad there was a big rock there, so I sat down and put myself back together again.  And tied my shoes a little tighter this time.  Maybe too tight…

Day 4 – the Expedition Stage – 52 miles, up and over a mountain range, and back down the other side.

Photo: Glen Delman

All through the morning we could see our destination –
the saddle between the right two peaks in the distance

One of the challenges of Desert RATS is staying on the right trail.  During this stage, at least two people got off course long enough to end their race.  I felt so bad for those folks.  And I was very nearly one of them myself.  I was running with the Watsons through a nice area, and had drifted ahead on a long downhill section.  Cruising through a trail intersection, I realized I hadn’t looked carefully for a trail marker, and went back.  I found the marker, but in my haste I looked at it from the wrong side (so no matter what, I wasn’t seeing the correct arrow), and then I must have not even read the marker correctly, and started off on the side trail, uphill, full speed ahead.  Doone and Tim arrived at the crossing shortly afterwards and saw me blundering up the wrong trail, and called me back.  A minute later and I would have crested the hill, and they wouldn’t have seen me…and I have no idea what would have happened.  I was very low on water at that stage, and we were literally, out in the outskirts of nowhere’s-ville.  I told them that when I get home I was going to have another set of twins, just so I could name them “Tim” and “Doone”.

Thankfully, most of the rest of the Expedition Stage went off without a hitch.  I was very disciplined to take a shot of nutrition – Infinit concentrate – each 15 minutes, an S-Cap each 20 minutes, and to wash them down with lots and lots of water.  I was pee-ing about every hour and a half, and had no bloating.  In one particularly long segment (11-12 miles) I drained my main Camelbak bladder (100oz) and my reserve bladder (35oz).  I was NEVER so thankful to see a water drop!!!

With 7.5 miles to go, I hit the last aid station and was feeling very good.  I realized that I would not be making my 12 hour goal for the day, which I really needed to hit in order to reach my 30 hour goal for the week.  But the last 6 miles was downhill on pavement, so I was anticipating making up a bit of time.  I got a refill on water, and had my mandatory equipment check.  Each aid station, the crew would ask for one piece of mandatory gear – the knife, strobe light, mirror, etc., and mark it off in our expedition book, as well as recording our time.  We exchanged well wishes, I took a step, and my knee exploded in pain.  I could instantaneously tell that my IT band had siezed while I was standing there, and each step brought me to new levels of pain.  I hobbled off, not wanting to get corralled by the med guys at the aid station, and got my pain induced hyperventilating under control.  By walking with my leg straight, it didn’t hurt too bad, so I kept moving, and rubbing the outside of my leg to try to soften up the spasming tendon.  After a while, my peg leg started to bend a bit, then a few test steps jogging, then I was back into it.  Then, like a moron, I stopped to pee.  I hadn’t pee’ed before the last aid station in case they were goint to weigh me (if I had lost too much weight, they could pull me off the course).  Well, now it was time, so I went to the side of the road, and went.  First step, and HELLO KNEE!!!  Crap.  Let’s try this again.  Peg leg walking, massaging as much as I could, and it softened up enough to get going again.

I started the day by cruising the first 10 miles, and enjoyed some brilliant scenery and good company.  But at hour 2, I really started to “race” in pursuit of the 12 hour goal, and my body and mind paid for it.  I have never before focused so intently, and for so long, on moving forward.  Working hard to tackle the uphills without losing too much time, and really pushing on the downhills – of which there were many, and many of them were quite technical.  I got two new blisters this day to complement the little guy on my pinkie toe.  I finished in 12:18, and was very happy with that result.

Photo: Glen Delman

 A very happy Mike at the finish of the Expedition Stage (note the salt line on my shorts!)

Day 5 was a real rest day, no running, just soaking in the river, and eating.  One of the best lines of the week was delivered this morning…from one of the tents I hear: “I feel like I got hit by the ugly truck. Then it backed up, and hit me again.”  So true.  We were all pretty beat up, and filthy, and I can’t imagine what the scent was like downwind.  I got my feet taped up, and ready to go for the marathon on Saturday.


We also enjoyed a slide show of photos that Glen Delman had taken through the week (and he graciously allowed me to use some of them here).  It was an emotional night, as we realized the magnitude of the adventure we had shared together, and the beauty we had started to see in the desert – and in our fellow racers and the crew.

Day 6 – let’s run a marathon!  This stage starts with a monster up, and then a huge downhill, with a little slice of technical trail running on a 5 mile out and back spur.

Photo: Glen Delman


The view from the climb

Well, it WOULD have been only a marathon if I wasn’t a doofus.  Going into the first aid station at the top of the huge hill, I let my companions drift ahead so that I could go into the station a bit slower, but spend less time there.  I was very concerned that my knee would flare up again, so I wasn’t taking any chances.  I left the aid station and crested the hill, and my companions were already long gone – so I took off running down the hill at a really good pace…until the car came up next to me.  One of the runners saw that I went right past the trailhead and screamed and whistled for me, but I never heard him.  He got the attention of the aid station folks, and they sent a car after me.  I was about .4 miles down the road when he told me I needed to turn around (and walk back up the hill – grrrrrrrrr).

With that, all hopes of a 30 hour final time evaporated, and I turned my attention to just running hard and doing the best I could.  The technical out and back on Porcupine Rim was really hard for me – since it was out and back I was able to see how far ahead the other runners in my morning group were, but I just couldn’t summon the juice to close the gap.  To my credit, I got “lost” again, but only got 3 yards down the trail and realized that I was maybe on the wrong trail.  I started looking for tracks, and seeing none went back to the last “Y” and saw a bunch of tracks on the other trail.  It only took 6 days, but I finally learned how to stay on the trail!!

The finish line was a raucus celebration.  All the finishers clapped, shouted, and whistled for each runner as they rounded the last turn.


I was SOOOOOO happy to see the flags of the finish line, and to hear the screaming and banging of water jugs.  I had finished Desert R.A.T.S., and the smile didn’t leave my face for four days.  My final time was 30:18, which placed me as the 4th male, 5th overall.  That one female was Suzanna Bon – a delightfully humble runner who demolished the women’s course record by five hours.  We ran together for a while on Day 1, and after a while she politely said something like “I think I’m going to go on ahead” as I walked up a hill, and she ran it like a mountain goat.

Photo: Glen Delman



Epilogue – This race was something special.  It was much more of an “event” than a running race.  Reid Delman, the Race Director, and his crew, were incredibly generous with their time, efforts, and themselves, and made it possible for us to focus on running. In the days following the race, it became clear to me that the race had made a big impact on me.  Here’s an excerpt from an email exchange I had with Jason McGinnis:

Me: I am having a A LOT of trouble getting focused and back to work this week – just feels like I should be somewhere else…

Jason:  Yes, getting back to reality has been really tough for us too. The emails, the calls, work, traffic, rude people…it all sucks. The Tulsa crew has been calling it “post rats depression”. It makes me wonder if people might have been much happier hundreds and thousands of years ago. I think we lived for a brief while somewhat like nomadic native americans. A small tribe of ultrarunners, who instead of going out every morning and hunting for food, we went out and ran. Then we came back to camp and ate, relaxed, and slept. No bills, no taxes, no tv, no phones, no shopping malls, no government, just new relationships and a beautiful landscape. We washed our clothes by hand and bathed in sandy cold water. And somehow that is more satisfying to me than what we all go home too. I think through industrialization and technology the western world has lost something special very special. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is we have lost, but I think RATS gives us a glimpse of what life could be like. To me simpler is better. Also being surrounded by endurance athletes is awesome. Everyone there has tested themselves and pushed their bodies to extreme levels at some point in their lives. Everyone of us has experienced suffering and persevered through it and whether we talk about it or not it makes us different kinds of people than the rest of the modern world.

Me: I always think it funny when we “discover” a new tribe out in the middle of the Amazon or something, and we feel so happy that we can bring “civilization” to them – to free them from their horrible life in sync with the earth and their environment…but with out Nintendo (oh the terror!!)

I’m thinking that something we all experienced was “accepting” our environment. It was hot, and the hot wasn’t going to go away by bitching about it – so we didn’t bitch, and accepted the heat. And the climbs weren’t going away – they were something to be accepted and experienced, until they were gone, and a new challenge presented itself. For me, I didn’t fight the desert, and I think that greatly helped my race and my attitude. And it helped that camp wasn’t full of a bunch of drama queens/kings.

The first time I paced someone (very early in my ultra running career) the guy taught me “you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” And maybe that’s the glue that joins RATS together – we’ve all made that adjustment to life, that discomfort isn’t something that MUST BE ELIMINATED at all costs, but rather, can be accepted, and maybe even enjoyed a bit.

Dang, awful philosophical for a Friday morning!!!

Jason: I think its nearly impossible to do something as awesome and challenging as RATS and not get philosophical or come away with a different perspective on life. And trying to explain all this to friends and family…forget about it.

Medical Epilogue – Remember when I pulled my shoe out of the mud and tied it real tight? Well, I’m thinking I did something bad to my foot that day.  When I woke up the morning of the 52 mile stage, the top of one of my feet (right under where the knot was) was very sore – and it stayed sore throughout the day, and through the rest of the race.  It’s a little over a week gone by now, and it still hurts. I’ve had it x-rayed, but nothing showed.  I’ll go back again in a couple of days since stress fractures often don’t show up right way.

Another thing that happened in my first week back – I was VERY lethargic.  After a couple of days I stepped on a scale, and saw that I was 5 pounds lighter than when I started the race.  I then began “recovery eating” in earnest, and my energy returned very quickly.

Dick Collins Firetrails 50


What a great day. Not a day free of pain mind you, but great nonetheless!


I started my Saturday at 3am (I had planned on 4, but I woke up early). Had my standard race breakfast at 4 – Banana, hard boilded egg, Cliff bar, 1/2 bagel, and a Gatorade. Drove with Karen to the start, where it was still dark. After some quick words from the Race Director, we were off.


The course starts out on a flat, paved bike path – which is good since it’s still pretty dark and it serves as a warmup before the first real hills at mile 3. Which is where I made my first change in plan…and I think it was a good one. I had every intention of at least jogging up all the hills. In a past race I had a lot of problems getting going again after walking due to dehydration. Well, I got to the first hill and EVERYONE was walking. Duh. Maybe I should listen. The problem was dehydration, not walking. And there was still a LOT of day ahead, so I joined the plodding procession. I was happy when things leveled out and we could get running again. That first hill is one of the bigger ones of the course, so it was great to get it over with so quickly.


Then I was surprised – the course was much, much flatter than I had expected (and trained for). I had read online race reports that this course has very few flat sections, and the elevation profile backed that up:


But after that first big spike, things leveled out and became pretty gentle rollers for quite a while. There were still plenty of hills to walk up though, and I tried to be disciplined to not hammer on the downhills to “make up lost time”.


Karen drove ahead of me and met me at many of the aide stations. Here’s a picture of me coming into an aide station at mile 21.7:


The next big chunk of the race was pretty uneventful. I was really focusing on hydration, and had already pee-ed 2 or 3 times before the turnaround. One embarrassing moment – there was a winding section of single track trail, and I was all alone, and really had to “go”. So I figure “why not?” Pulled down my shorts a bit and just kept running (I learned this trick from Matt Aro when I paced him at the Headlands 100 last year). Fifty feet later I’m turning a switchback and hear some people, glance back, and I was definitively NOT alone. They didn’t say anything, and I didn’t ask – but I did pick up the pace and put some distance between us!!


Funniest line of the day – at the turn around aid station a young lady ready to start out on the second half gave her boyfriend a hug and then quickly apologized: “Sorry for being so sweaty!” – after 26 miles of trail running and she wasn’t Downey Fresh – the nerve! I cracked up 🙂


The next event for me came at mile 34. I was cruising along in a pretty technical section and kicked a root or rock. I didn’t fall down, but I was pretty sure my big toenail was toast. The good news was that about 15 feet after cracking my toe I started down the steepest, most technical section of the whole course. It’s basically a stream bed with tons of rocks, and very steep. Steep = foot jammed into the toe of your shoe. Yeah, definitely uncomfortable.


Another hour or so went by with pretty much just easy flat cruise, but then somewhere around mile 40 I lost my focus on hydrating properly. I remember getting to the aid station at 44.1 and refilling my Camelbak, and then in the intervening 2.9 miles to the next aid station I pretty much drained it. This section was the most exposed and arid of the course, and also had a 660 foot rise (so there was a lot of walking). Why do race directors feel compelled to put the hot, dry sections of a race right near the end?!? But indicative of how well this race is run – there were aid stations on either side – so that was nice.


Then the real pain began – not due to the course as much as my own (pick one): vanity, drive, insanity. Right at mile 45 I glanced at my watch and saw: 9:08. I was stunned. I was thinking it would be saying 10 something. Up until then I had tried to keep my eyes off my watch, not stress about pace, not endlessly do the math of this many miles divided by that time, yada, yada. But 9:08!? Dang, if I could bang out 10 minute miles from now on I could beat 10 hours! The only problem is that my normal pace on trails is more like 12 minute miles…and I’ve had a 45 mile “warmup”. Screw it – I’m going to go for it. And I started working like I’ve never worked before. There was an aid station at mile 47 that I took like an Indy car pit stop – they reached for my bottle, but I just kept it in my hand, got a top off of water, and bolted. Leaving the aid station I looked down – 9:30:01, with three miles left. Up to that station had been pretty flat, so I was feeling upbeat. Then I turned the first corner in the trail and was hit in the face with a long steep uphill. Oops. I power walked it and kept drinking, and then started running as soon as I could. If you look at the last three miles of the elevation profile above you’ll see the many little hills – ouch. After walking the first one I knew I couldn’t walk any of the others. Those last three miles were the hardest miles I’ve ever run.


I was really, really, really happy to come around the last corner and see the finish chute. I glanced down and saw that I had a minute to spare. My final official time was 9:59:35. All grins for me. And then something new – I came within an inch of breaking down in tears. It was such a relief to be done, so happy to have squeezed in under 10 hours (when my stretch goal had been 10:30). Here’s me right after the race (and yes, I do my own hair!):


Then the eating. Oh, the eating. According to my Garmin watch, I expended 6646 calories over the course of the run. I calculate that I took in around 3000 calories from my Infinit drink. Right after the race I had two bottles of recovery drink, and I tried some bread, soup and a hamburger (but the hot food just didn’t sit well). On the way home from the race I asked Karen to pull over so I could pee and get some french fries, which ended up being a hamburger and fries (which I drenched in salt). Even though my Infinit has the electrolytes turned all the way up, and taking 2 Thermolyte tablets an hour, my body still craved salt after the race. When I got home I sliced up a mango and sprinkled it with chili powder and salt (Mexican style!). At 10pm I asked Karen to cook me some eggs and (5 pieces!) of bacon. There was something else in there, but I can’t remember what it was.


As for the schwag – this race is schweet! In a reusable shopping bag was a nice windbreaker, a tech shirt, a logo’ed wine glass, a water bottle, TrailRunner and UltraRunning magazines, and then the requisite coupons and ads.


Sunday morning – I feel pretty good today. My shoulders are sore – I’m not sure if it’s from the Camelbak, or more likely from carrying a bottle all day. My legs are fine as long as I’m stationary, but they like to “remind” me whenever I move around. The toe I whacked is tender, but it looks like it will be fine. All in all, not too bad.


Thanks to everyone for their well wishes, and to Karen for being my chief supporter and super crew during the race!

Skyline to the Sea 50k

“Well Jeff, I can say that this is the longest run I’ve ever done.” “Me too” he replied. And so we marked passing into the 27th mile of the Skyline to the Sea 50k Ultramarathon. Jeff and I had bumped into each other on and off through the day, but after that exchange we stuck together and finished together. It’s SO helpful finding someone who’s going about your same speed (or a little better).

My goal for this race was six hours, and crossed the line in 5:48!  I had a hard time guaging how to pace for a race like this. Overall, the course goes downhill – it starts near the top of a mountain and ends up a couple of hundred yards from the ocean. But there were a ton of steep uphills (walkers!), and a LOT of technical downhills which really trash the quads and knees. One thing that probably ended up helping me a lot was that I was about the last person to get lined up due to standing in a slow moving porta pottie line.  Right before I made it to the front of the line they asked people to line up for the start.  Well, I didn’t anticipate that they literally meant line up – as in single file!  Since the trail is so narrow, we were strung out on the course in one long line, with me at the back.  But this meant that there was NO way for me to start off running too fast.  Things opened up after a while, and then I was able to pass some folks.

And then Nature kicked in – and kicked in with a vengance.  You could hear it from the runners up ahead: “BEEs!!”  Well, they were actually wasps I think, and they didn’t take kindly to 200 people running through their yard.  Over the course of the first 10 miles I think there were three separate nests.  One guy on the course cracked: “They should call this race ‘Beeline to the Sea'”.   I was stung three times on my legs, and three on my back.  I was pretty lucky – some people got hit a lot more (and some not at all).  The pain was quite intense.  About six hours after the end of the race the needle like pain subsided…only to be replaced by crazy bad itching.  One person on the race forum reported that they went to the emergency room because of the itching.  It’s been three days since the itch kicked in, and I’ve eaten a box of antihistamines, and a ton of cortisone cream…and I still can’t sleep normally. 🙁

Nutrition wise I did pretty well.  I wore a Camelbak with six hours of concentrated Infinit drink, and then I wore a bottle holder with plain water which I refilled at the aid stations.  The only problem I had was the long gap before the final aid station.  The previous gaps had been only 7k long, but this one was almost 14.  Halfway through that gap my water was gone.  Let’s just say, I was really glad to see that final aid station!  I ended up not drinking 16oz of my Infinit.  Since it was concentrated, I had stopped drinking it during that long leg.  But I didn’t feel the loss of calories.  I also had 5 or 6 electrolyte pills (SaltStick) over the course of the race.  All in all, I felt good about my nutrition and hydration.  But considering I only pee’ed once on the course, and not again until hours after the finish, I was well on my way to being dehydrated.

Special thanks goes out to Marcus Frame and his girlfriend for giving me a lift to the starting line, and to Karen and the kids for making the long drive to pick me up.  After the race we went over to Waddell beach for a while.  The kite surfers there are amazing!  It’s a cool mix of parasailing, surfing, and windsurfing.

Headlands 100 (but only the last 25!)

Two weekends ago I participated in a local 100mile run as a pacer. One of the competitors asked on the race forum board if anyone would like to run with him for the last 25m of the race, and I took him up on the offer.

I then did a little looking into his background, and I got a bit nervous…the guy’s an animal. He came in first and second in two triathlons – DOUBLE IronMan races!! Two weeks out from the race he mailed me about his last long training run, a 50m run that he did in 8h 13min – and that was a holding back run to not incur the need for an extended recovery. But in the end, I figured that a 75m warm-up would even things out considerably.
Race day on Saturday came, and the online tracking wasn’t working, nor could I reach his girlfriend who was crewing for him. I had hoped to get an idea of his 50m split to gauge when he would show up at 75m. So given the lack of info I just drove to the race site, and got there about 6:30pm.
Upon getting there I see that they have the splits posted for 50m, and there he is in second place:
Matt Aro – 9:00:54
Let me tell you, that’s SMOKIN’. The first 50 was very hilly, with some pretty technical trails, with 8100′ of altitude change! The first place guy was 2″ ahead.
I got dressed and sat in my car, estimating that he would be arriving somewhere between 8:30pm and 9. He arrived right at 9pm, and we got going shortly afterward. 75m split: 14:01:17. There was no sign of the previous leader, who eventually hit the 75m mark half an hour later.
We ran with headlamps, but there were portions of the trail where it was quite foggy, so I was glad that we also each had a handheld flashlight. In the fog all you can see with the headlamp is the fog 1 foot from your face, so we just turned those off in these sections. Another thing I learned is that holding the light lower increases the contrast of rocks and roots considerably. So the next time I do a night run I’ll figure out a way to mount my headlamp on my waist.
As for the run, it was pretty slow. Matt was pretty trashed, the uphills were too steep to run, and running down the more technical hills would have been suicide. For many of the downhills Matt rested his arm on my shoulder just in case – but I don’t recall him ever slipping. I nailed one root somewhere in the middle of the run, and half rolled my ankle like 7 minutes into the run, but it didn’t affect the rest of the run.   e4ae6-media_httpwwwenduranc_xtooaAt each aid station Matt’s girlfriend Shevaun was there with his own private stash of goodies – ibuprofen, gels, salt tabs, and PBJ sandwiches. We would refill his camelbak, he’d grab a sandwich and stick it under the thigh of his compression shorts (no joking), he’d tell her what he would likely want at the next stop, and off we’d run into the night. I can tell you, she was a GREAT help!

As the night went on we started passing people who were still in the 50-75m loop (the race is one big 50m loop, followed by two laps of a 25m loop). Some of these people were walking (it’s midnight by now) and on the ridges they were pretty cold (strong wind and fog – the course was right on the coast). I felt bad for them, many of them alone, and knowing that they had a LONG trip ahead of them. But we just kept moving.

To brighten his spirits I wrote down a forum posting that his training partner back in Wisconsin wrote to him the morning of the race. After a couple of miles I broke out the mail bag and read him the encouraging mail – he was overwhelmed! I had wanted to keep the mail as a just in case, but then I got scared that I would forget – so I just busted it out when I thought of it. After 15h of running, he was pretty happy to hear from home.

Matt really only got “dark” once. He stopped for a while and had a hard time not being light headed. He took a caffeine pill, we stopped talking, and turned off our headlamps and just walked for a while. He soon recovered and we got back to running.

One interesting element of the course is that you run through tunnels that lead up to bunkers built in 1940 to protect the Golden Gate from bad guys. I read later that the cannons installed there could fire 26miles!


Of course, the guns are gone now, but all that concrete is still there, along with a tunnel going straight back behind the gun. Matt had run through them a couple of times by then, and didn’t know what they were when I asked. It was only by looking back once we got through that I realized they were bunkers!

We finished around 3:20am – Matt’s finishing time was 20:23:52, a new course record, and first place by more than 50min! For my part, I did 25m in about 6h 20m or so. Here’s a picture of Shevaun, Matt (in the middle, and yes, he’s 6’4″!) and me on the right (after I had cleaned up a bit):


So there we are, 4am and finishing the race…so what the heck do you do now!? I started my 90 minute drive home, but about half way had to pull over and sleep for a bit. I got home at 8am, ate and slept for quite a while.

Big, big fun. Matt’s an amazing athlete. Shevaun was a great help. And the course was incredible. For the west coasties, I strongly recommend the races put on by PC Trail Runs (http://www.pctrailruns.com). They do lots of Northern California runs, and some in So Cal as well.

Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2008

What an incredible experience! I spent the week with three different families – my own (Karen and the kids, and we stayed with Karen’s sister and her husband), my EnduranceNation online training family (most of whom I hadn’t met in person until this week), and the C Different family of blind athletes, their guides, other fundraiser athletes like me, and a host of C Different support crew.


At dinner the night before the race, my daughter Katie drew this encouragement on the tablecloth.

Below are some daily mails that I sent out to my C Different supporters leading up to race day, and then my race report.


The race is less than a week away, and I’m VERY excited. My training has gone very well, despite struggling against a few nagging injuries (it’s so fun getting older!). I think I peaked out at about 15 or 16 hours of training in one week.

For the past year I’ve been training with the coaches at EnduranceNation, an awesome online community of triathletes. As part of the race prep for an Ironman the coaches ask us to think of our “One Thing”…that one thing that you will think about which will help you keep going when you just want to stop, when it just hurts too much, when your body says “enough is enough”. My answer was easy this year: I’m doing this race on behalf of the C Different Foundation which supports blind athletes.

On the course with us will be 4 blind triathletes and their guides, along with 18 more of the “IronTeam”. When the going gets rough, which I’m sure it will at points, I’ll be thinking of those 4 incredible people who have gone through so much to be there. We’re having a team dinner on Thursday night where I’ll get to meet the entire C Different Team. I’m sure this will be an inspiring, humbling, emotional kick off to the race.

Anyhow, I’m bib #1282. The race starts at 7am on Sunday. I’m hoping to end somewhere around 7pm. It’ll be a great way for me to spend half a day! If you would like to check in on the progress of the C Different sponsored blind athletes during the day, here are their names: Charlie Plaskon, Richard Bernstein, Ryan Van Praet, Dave Bigoney.

Many of you have expressed an interest in joining with me in support of the C Different Foundation. To the many who already have donated, I say Thank You! If you would like to donate (there’s still time!) just click here: http://ironteam.kintera.org/faf/r.as…7&e=1384636286

I picked up one of the blind athletes from the airport yesterday, and then helped him get oriented to the hotel. Oh-My-Goodness what a production! I had no idea what it entailed to be blind. Small example – the TV remote. First they had wrapped it in a little cardboard wrapper advertising spa services, so the remote didn’t “feel” like a remote. So I had to place his hand on it. He was glad that it was a standard LodgeNet remote – so he knew where the buttons were. Then he wanted to put it exactly back in the same place since that’s where the maid would return it. That way he could find it each time. He had commented, and I got the smallest of flavors, that every little thing takes a LONG time.

Then finding an outlet for his phone transformer…forget about it – and that was with me having functioning sight! (The large-ish transformer wouldn’t fit in the first two outlets I found.)

But he was upbeat and helpful though the whole process of discovering his room, finding the meeting rooms where the group would be eating meals, etc. Well, he was upbeat until I told him the water is about 57 degrees!!!

I have great confidence in him though. He’s been blind since birth, but has gone on to become a lawyer, and has completed 8 marathons. This will be his first Ironman. He kept saying (with a big smile) “I’m going to kill whoever talked me into this!”.

So if you have a chance to check in on my race day progress, also look up Richard Bernstein and see how he did on that frigid swim 😉

Hi there! It’s the day before the race – not much to do today. As they say “The hay’s in the barn” – now all there is to do is rest, pre-hydrate (translation: dring Gatorade all day), and drop my bike off at the race site.

Yesterday was a highlight. In the morning my coaches gave their pre-race talk, discussing pacing, strategy, pacing, mental keys, and pacing. While I’ve heard it all before, it’s good to get it in your head one more time. During the talk I noticed that Charlie Plaskon was standing in the back listening. Charlie was one of the first C Different blind athletes, and will be racing this Sunday. After the talk wrapped up I went over and introduced myself and we sat and chatted. A little bit later the C Different crew assembled for a bike ride, but Charlie’s guide wasn’t available, so they asked if I would “drive” for him. What a thrill…a humbling thrill though.

Thankfully, Charlie is a great guide guide – he coached me through all the stuff I had to do. Starting the bike rolling, getting our feet clipped in the pedals without dumping, calling out the turns (and whether we pedal through the turns or not), etc.

And let me tell you, that 64 year old guy can push the bike along, all the while talking about going back to school to become a motivational speaker, studying the course by asking lots and lots of questions.

What a great cap to my race prep week! By this time tomorrow the race will be in progress, and while I can’t be writing notes to you all, please know that I do think about you – there’s a lot of time to think out there!

Race Report
The day was incredible, simply incredible. There was a rainstorm the night before, but we had sunshine at dawn. The weather stayed very mild through the day.


Me (left) and one of my coaches Rich Strauss right before the start.

The swim start of an Ironman is always very exciting. Most triathlons split up the starts by age group, but in Ironman races everyone starts together. I started WAY off to the side, but got mixed up pretty good at the first turn buoy. Overall, the swim went great, and I was out of the water in 1:12:56 minutes.

I started the bike as planned – pretty slow. We call it J.R.A. – just riding along. Around 45 minutes or so into it I started in with my target bike pace, and then stayed there a long, long time. The course is pretty hilly, no monster climbs, but lots and lots of hills that can really suck it out of you if you try to power up them. But I stayed at basically the same power output on the hills as when I rode on the flatter sections. This, of course, meant that I got passed by a LOT a LOT of people during that bike ride, especially on the uphills. You want numbers? Of the (about) 2000 people that started the race, I was in 604th place after the swim, but after the bike I was 891st – so that was a lot of people passing me by.

One great thing that happened on the bike, which illustrates the spirit of Ironman – at about mile 90 I heard something hit my helmet and go inside. Well, if it’s a bee and he stings me my day might be done. So I pulled over, took off my helmet and shook out my hair. As I was doing that the next guy riding by slowed an asked if I was OK. Then a couple seconds later another guy slowed, asked if I needed anything. I “knew” that second guy since we had been riding about the same speed for hours – and he’s in my age group – and I’m sure he knew I was in his age group (they write the ages on our calfs in big numbers). So 90 miles into it my direct competitor slowed and offered to help when he saw I was having some kind of problem. There are a lot of great people out there!

Speaking of great people, the spectators and volunteers are the greatest. People all along the course were so incredibly supportive and encouraging. It was great to see my wife Karen and my CdA support crew of Karen’s sister and brother in law Laura and Danny and their friend Kevin. Last year we missed each other a few times, but this year worked out a lot better.


On the way out on the second loop of the bike course, I stopped to say hi to Karen and the crew!

Another great fan was Aaron Scheidies, a blind C Different athlete who wasn’t racing today. Other C Different spectators would tell him when any of us with the C Different group was coming and he went crazy! On the first lap of the run he took off one of the C Different colored Mardi Gras beads and draped it around my neck, and I ran with it the rest of the day.

I finished the bike in 6:24 – a bit slower than I had hoped, but I was happy with it. I paced on the bike to have a good run.

OK, on to the run…

It all started with the slatherers. That’s what the locals call the volunteers who apply sunscreen on the athletes. I’ve been told that this volunteer position fills up first, hmmm, I wonder why! As I was heading out for the run they asked if I wanted sunscreen, and before I knew it 8 – eight! hands were all over my face, neck, arms, and legs!

The run is a lot more personal than the other disciplines – the course is mostly two out and backs, so you get to see the other athletes, and also the spectators (much easier than at 20mph on the bike!). I had seen some of the C Different people on the bike, but on the run I was able to see and cheer them all.

I came up behind Charlie Plaskon and his guide when they were on a walk break. I walked with him and told him that he inspires me to do my best. Without skipping a beat, he replies: “Well if you’re going to do your best you shouldn’t be walking here with me!” I laughed and ran on. Charlie ended up finished in 15:33 – pretty great for a 64 year old guy who can’t see!

My pacing discipline faltered a bit on the run, and running a bit too fast early on started to catch up with me at around 15 miles. I was very fortunate that around mile 20 I met up with a young guy named Zach who also wanted to break the 12 hour mark. So I would call out paces from my GPS and he would calculate if we were going fast enough given our current distance and pace. He was very encouraging and enthusiastic. While triathlon is a very individual sport, finding a “teammate” late in the run is priceless.

Zach and I made our 12 hour goal with a bit to spare. So after a 4:04 run I ended up with a total time of 11:54:20. Let me tell you – it felt GREAT to cross that finish line!

And more numbers…after the bike I was in 891st place, but after the run I finished in 559th place out of 2060. That means that I passed about 330 people on the run – Yipes! So this was great proof that my pacing worked well (and also proof that I still have some room to improve on the bike!). Comparing to last year is even better news – I did a 12:36 last year. So I knocked off 42 minutes from last year on this same course, and 10 minutes off my best Ironman time from Vineman the year before!

After soaking in the lake a bit I got bundled up and went back to the finish line with Karen, and was able to give some of my EnduranceNation partners a little shout (ok…a BIG SHOUT!) as they approached the finish line. We also saw some of the C Different folks including Richard, who I spent a lot of time with on Thursday was guided by C Different founder Matt Miller, and they finished in 14:36 – a great time!


Me at the finish line with my son Conor


If you haven’t already, please go to http://www.cdifferent.org and sign up for their newsletter. I’ve been amazed by what I’ve seen this week, yet this was only one of their events for a busy summer and on through the rest of the year.

Wildflower – Double Dip!

I told my coach that the title I was going to put on this Race Report would be: “EN Kool-Ade is BORING…”, with a first line of “…until you start passing folks in mile 2 of the run”. At EnduranceNation we are coached to ride steady and controlled. Tests are performed to figure out our goal watts for the bike, and riding that goal really paid off!

This was a great weekend of racing for me.

Breakfast was the same for both races: Clif Bar, Banana, hard boiled egg, Gatorade – 3 hours before my start. Then one Gatorade while setting up transition.

Numbers for the half ironman race:
Swim: 31:10
T1: 4:20
Bike: 3:03:35
T2: 3:31
Run: 1:45:37
Total 5:28:15
AG place: 51/259, Overall 274

In contrast, here were last year’s:
Swim: 34:17
T1: 2:59
Bike: 3:11:04
T2: 2:49
Run: 1:49:13
Total: 5:40:22
AG place: 54

So I was very pleased with good improvement everywhere (except my lollygagging in transition!).

The swim went really well. Sighting is hard since we’re basically swimming right into the sun. But I got a LOT of good drafts, and just cruised.

I think this race went so much better than this year’s Oceanside performance because of my discipline on the bike. Here are the power numbers:
TSS: 227.9
Norm Power: 204
VI: 1.06

My goal watts was 200, so I was right there. It was hard seeing SO many people stream by me on the uphills. But it was juicy passing them again on the crests, and blowing by many more on the downhills and the flats. But the real justice didn’t come until the run.

I got passed by very few people on the run, and I only had to walk up a chunk of two or three of the very steepest trail hills. I was happy that for the last month and a half almost all of my runs have incorporated some sort of hill.

Not much more to say, like I said…kinda boring. Very happy though.

Recovery: I brought one serving of Clif Bar Recovery drink with me, and drank it right after the race. Stood in the cold lake for about 30 min, ate at the expo and put my feet straight up in the air against a tree for another 20 min.

Then up to camp, good dinner with Rich Strauss and the fine folks from Pasadena Tri Club. It was great to hang with Rich and Marvin, and just chill with people around the campfire that night. Went to bed a little later than planned (10pm), but like I said, it was great to just chill and watch the wood burn.

Now then, on to the Olympic distance on Sunday morning…

Numbers for the Oly:
Swim: 24:39
T1: 3:50
Bike: 1:25:56
T2: 3:10
Run: 45:24
Total: 2:43:01
AG Place: 29/156 Overall: 320

Power numbers:
TSS: 112.2
Norm Power: 207
VI: 1.07

Left camp for the race start right on time, but noticed the wheel cover making a bit of extra noise – has it been this loud all the time? Started down Lynch hill and a guy rides up next to me: “Is your back tire flat on purpose?” Crap. But dopey me, I don’t have an extra spare tube and CO2 in my RV size transition bag (nice quote from Rich when he see’s the monster: “Is THAT your transition bag?!?!?!”). So I walk down to the very nice mechanic guy who throws a new one on for $11 – cool, I’m back in business. I’ll tell you though, walking down that hill woke up my glute muscles, and not in a good way .

While the bike was being repaired I looked up my wife’s former boss and current dentist, Robert Plant, who is a legend in triathlon. He’s in his 60’s, has done Kona many times, and won his AG this day. We’ve been in a number of races together, but I’ve never had a chance to meet him.

The highlight of the pre-swim was standing next to Nacho Libre – yeah. Some guy was wearing his race cap, goggles, a Mexican Wrestling mask, bright red tights and some shorts. Classic. And that’s the way he started the race I think.

Lynch hill out of T1 was hard. Again, I fought, fought, fought to not push. Then about 2/3rds of the way up, there were two Cal Poly coeds, showing their bums to the passing riders – one with “Faster” and the other with “Stronger” written across their cheeks. Very funny.

Up and out of the park, and on to the rollers. Same as Saturday – back and forth with a huge wave of people. Them streaming past on the uphill, and then blowing by them on the downs and flats.

Same hydration as Saturday – Infinit concentrate (in Camelbak on Sat, bottle on Sunday) and course water in the AeroDrink). Worked great. Did one pee at about mile 2 on both runs as well.

The run went really great – I was SCREAMING (or so I thought…). Then some guy went blazing past me, and was encouraging people as he went, so I decided that he shouldn’t be left alone. I caught up with him, and for a brief moment I noticed we were doing 6:30ish pace – yipes! But we were well into mile 5, so what the heck, it’s mostly downhill from here. He then tells me news that is about the worst you can hear…”weird that the markers the put up are in kilometers, not miles.” WHAT!?!?! I had just drained my Infinit bottle (since we only had a few minutes left as we pass marker #6). Oh CRAPPPPPP!.

He assured me that there were just a couple small hills left, then all downhill, so I just went for it. My right hamstring was right on the edge of cramping, but it was more a muscle tightening than a dehydration spasm, so I wasn’t too scared. During that run I saw maybe 5 people basically crumple on the road trying to stretch out spasming legs.

When we got near the top of Lynch I told the guy that he shouldn’t pace me, but should go if he had it in him…and he did. I saw him after the race and thanked him profusely – without him I’m not at all sure how I would have done, but I could easily see another 3-5 minutes on my time.

Again with the Recovery drink, soak in the lake, food at the expo, break camp, and head home.

Much thanks to Rich, Marvin and the Pasadena Tri Club.

Much thanks to the EnduranceNation Kool-Ade.


IM CDA Race Report

Readers Digest version – Great venue, great race, GREAT volunteers, a bit too much wind during the swim and bike, pleased with my race, wishing I was faster – 12:36.

I had the pleasure of not having to worry about CDA lodging – my wife’s sister lives 12 minutes from the starting line! So we enjoyed a family get together along with the race. So me, wife, twin 5 yr. olds and my wife’s son flew in Thursday. To babysit the twins on raceday, wife’s niece and her boyfriend (the niece’s boyfriend, not my wife’s!) flew in on Friday.

On Friday morning I swam a lap of the course, and sat through a very helpful pre-race talk with Rich Strauss – I’ve followed his Intermediate Ironman training plan since Christmas. The key thing I took away from the talk: spend your day getting prepared for racing starting at mile 18 of the run. Other than walking up the hill to the second turn around and one other very short hill, I had no unscheduled walks (I walked out of most of the aid stations to drink).

Race morning started at 3:30 with a trip to the potty (30 min before my alarm). Breakfast consisted of a Clif bar, banana, Gatorade Endurance, and a hard boiled egg. Thirty minutes before the race I had another Gatorade.

The race started under the shadow of 10-20 mph winds, and very choppy water. I was surprised to hear the announcer offer a duathlon option if anyone wanted it. From what I can tell, about 35 people took the offer and skipped the swim. My guess is that at least that many started the swim and never finished. It was rough out there. I found the solution to my hydration problems – I think I drank at least 1/2 gallon of lake water due to the waves. I also got kicked, a lot. I have two abrasions on my nose from goggle impacts. At the mash up at the first bouy I politely, but firmly, removed a young lady’s grip from my arm. She said “Sorry” – but you get the idea of how crowded it was for that little scene to take place. I’m all for tradition, but the mass start tradition I could do without. And I started WAY right and out of the fray, though I did stray closer to the middle of the course at the buoy (a mistake I quickly corrected).

Swim time: 1:18:50

During much of the swim and into T1 I was FREEZING – more on that in the “Things that didn’t work” section below. The highlight of my extended (12 min) T1 was the slathering. The people applying sunscreen had warm hands, and it felt SO great on my ice legs.

I started out very slow on the bike. Very slow. I was freezing, and glad that I had arm warmers on. My upper body was spent and wouldn’t hold me up in aero position, so I mostly sat up for the first 45 minutes or so. Once I got to the first real hill the daze cleared and I started to ride for real. Oh, but then the hills hit. It’s not that any one of them was a monster; it’s just that there were a lot of them. But the course was great, the roads were in very good condition, and the community support was terrific. Loads and loads of residents brought chairs to the top of their driveways to watch and cheer as us crazies went by. Each of my three bike splits had a faster time than the previous – dang, if the race were only 200 miles longer I probably could have gotten up to a respectable pace!

Bike time: 6:39:30

The run went better than I had hoped. Well, I had hoped for a 4 hour time, and that didn’t happen, but all went according to plan, and I didn’t bonk or cramp out. My biggest concern coming into the race was a nagging groin strain that has been with me for about a month. I was pretty nervous that 30 minutes into the race it would flame out. So to protect it I shortened my stride considerably and just ran lots of short quick steps. Many people feel that this is the way you’re supposed to run anyway, but I don’t because of problems with one of my big toes. Mercifully, the toe cooperated, and didn’t flare up.

Again, the community was outstanding, and a couple of houses had their stereos blaring (Rocky, Chariots of Fire, and U2!). After not seeing familiar faces through the bike, it was great to see my wife, her sister and her husband. I also saw (and heard) from many Silicon Valley Tri Club members. And my brother in law’s buddy Kevin who gave constant phone updates to the rest of my crew who couldn’t find me on the course. You guys were great!

After a little nervousness that maybe I should have included some reflective tape on my clothes, I hit mile 22 or so, and still had a lot of daylight. I drank coke for the first time, and started running closer to my 9 minute pace goal. And then around the corner, and a straight shot to the finish line. I was smart enough to take off my hat and sunglasses, and zip up my jersey for the picture, but I finished too close to the previous runner so I never got to hear the famous “you are an Ironman” bit. Hmm, I don’t remember hearing anything. Maybe they did say it.

Run time: 4:20:49
Overall time: 12:36:05

Things that went well…
Nutrition. I chose to not get a CDA rolldown slot last year at Oceanside because I was so badly dehydrated and realized I needed to get better control of my nutrition and hydration. Things went perfectly on Sunday. On the bike I wore a CamelBak with 12 scoops of Infinit (to cover 6 hours), and supplemented with course water, a couple banana chunks from the course, a Clif bar, and a few salt tablets. The CamelBak was empty right at mile 111. Nice. On the run, I started with one bottle of Infinit with 4 scoops, and had another in my special needs bag (or my Dire Needs bag as my sister in law called it!). I then walked through most of the aid stations and was careful to put down at least one cup of water per station, sometimes another 1/2. I also ate probably 3 salt pills, and started drinking a cup of cola at each station starting around mile 20. I think maybe I could/should have started the cola earlier.

Porta potties. All this drinking sent me to the porta potties probably 5 or 6 times. I was very appreciative of the typically 4 potties at each bike aid station, and 2 per run station. I think I had to wait only once. At one of the bike stops they had a rack, at another a volunteer held my bike. Very nice.

TriBike Transport. Nice to not have to mess with the bike.

Support. I could not have done this without the help and encouragement of many, many people. This report would go on for another 3 pages if I listed them all, but thanks Laura and Danny for opening your home and being a great help with everything in CDA. And many, many thanks to my wife and twins for putting up with my crazy hours, long workouts on the weekends, and the multitude of you made over the last year to make this day happen.

Things that didn’t work…
Oops too much… I shouldn’t have had that last bottle of Gatorade right before (not) sleeping the night before the race. I took a lot of trips to the bathroom when I would have preferred to be sleeping.

Wetsuit. After the first 1/4, and sitting idle in the traffic jam at the first bouy, the top half of my wetsuit filled with water, including the arms. I thought it just flushed through, and would get warm again, but it never did – cold water just seemed to keep flowing through. My neck seal seemed tight, and I can’t find any obvious tears. I’ve been diving much of my adult life, and have tons and tons of time in wetsuits, and I’ve never experienced anything like it. So I rode really low in the water, and my arms were extra heavy. Funny, I did a good enough time, but my arms and shoulders were hamburger for the first hour on the bike.

SaltStick was sticky – had to take apart to get the tablets out on the bike. Maybe the pills I had were too big. I should have worked with it more in practice.