Reflections of 2011

It’s that time of the year again, to take a look back on this past year and reflect on my race performances and training. During this year’s training, I traversed a total of:

  • 33,6217 yards or 191 miles of swimming
  • 2,039 miles of cycling
  • 1,023 miles of running

I started the year with three goals. But just to let you know up front, I only achieved one of them. They were:

  1. Complete an Ironman triathlon.
  2. Finish in the top 5 of the Malibu Triathlon.
  3. Qualify for the Boston Marathon.

You might recall I started 2011 with a hip injury I incurred last December during the Tuscon Marathon. So I remember focusing on rehabilitation, strength, and conditioning for the first quarter of the year. With some great physical therapy, I recovered in time to make my running debut at the San Dieguito half marathon. That course was a lot of fun with quite a few rolling hills. Although I quasi-promised my physical therapist that I would run it in two hours, I was very pleased with my time of 1:47.

Easing my way back into running, my buddy and I were shooting for a sub-5 hr time at the Oceanside race. I ended up having a decent race. But for the second year in a row, I suffered with cramps during the run portion of the race after a good bike split. I can’t be too disappointed with my time of 5:27. There’s still a lot of work to be done in the coming year if I expect to have any chance of finishing this tough course in under five hours. This year I plan to do more strength training. I’m hoping that going back to the gym will help mitigate against cramps by building up my muscular strength. I find it difficult not to go too hard while cycling so I can have enough juice for the run. I’m reluctant to ease up on the bike portion since it’s my strongest part of triathlon.

The middle portion of 2011 focused on training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene. When I look back on the training and the race itself, it’s unimaginable that I even did that race. Seriously, I am amazed at how driven I was. Training seemed like having a second job, with 15-18 hrs of training per week in addition to working full time. At this point, I do not plan on doing another Ironman in 2012. I can’t see myself doing that insane training again during the next twelve months.

There aren’t very many people in the world who can claim the moniker of Ironman, so I’ll always be proud of that. After having completed the biggest race of my life, I honestly believe I can do almost anything I put my mind to, with or without diarrhea! You’ll have to read my Ironman race report to understand that one.

Other than the race experience itself, the peak of physical fitness and endurance that I felt the week before the race was an unbelievable feeling. My training certainly prepared for that race because the feeling of power, speed, and strength that I felt is indescribable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Post-Malibu Blog-a-blog

Surprisingly, I’m pretty happy about my 7th place age group finish at the Nautica Malibu Classic this past Sunday. No, it wasn’t a podium finish. Yea, for sure, I’m a little disappointed that 36 seconds separated me from a medal, but nevertheless, I am pleased. And so I celebrate my accomplishment and improvement over last year’s Malibu race.

By the numbers… Official time was 1:37:09. From last year, Swim was 1:09 faster, T1 was 0:27 faster, Bike was 0:25 faster, T2 was 0:02 faster, but Run was 0:12 slower. Oh, and I beat all the individual celebrities, except the top male celeb, who was a former professional NFL player.

Certainly, there were a couple of things I could have done better like maybe swim faster (I “stopped” to sight about three times – I could kick myself for that). Sure I could have fought harder in the end to keep my lead over 6th place, who re-passed me in the last 20 seconds of the race. Despite these two little hiccups in my race, I recognize my swimming has improved, but I definitely need to continue working hard at it to improve even more. Another plus is that I’ve consistently placed in the top 10 of my age group in these non-Ironman races. So in this field of 105 for my group, I’m right there so close that I can taste the metal of that medal.

What I really wanted to write about after Malibu is not so much about the race itself, but rather about this blog. A close friend from my UCLA days suggested I write on a more personal level:

Thought for you. You have been consistently posting your times for training. How about turning the corner and story telling? Pull the curtains back on your own experience going from an inactive to agressive triathlete? Just a thought. You write well and you have lots of life changing experience now.

A very interesting proposition, one that would definitely take up more of my limited time. I figure I would give it a try for a little bit now and then instead of my regular, mundane race reports. Here are a few topics I’ve thought about exploring:

  • Why I don’t like exercise
  • Why improvement is not good enough
  • What drives me
  • What motivates me to wake up at 4:00 am most days a week to jump in a pool or run (aka WTF is wrong with you?)
  • How do I endure long hours of training or maybe a better question is why?
  • Why suffer when you could be sleeping in

Would any of my readers find these topics even remotely interesting? That is, of course, assuming I have at least one reader other than myself.

Of course, there is the tried and true: “What? You lost how many pounds and now you are a triathlete?” Or “Huh? You used to look like a blob and now you have a hot middle-aged body?”

Okay, stop laughing.

Seriously though, I’m reluctant to write more about my former struggles with weight. For almost all my life, I was the fat guy. I don’t want to be known as the guy who used to be fat. Quite frankly, I don’t have patience for obese people. They are wasting their life away. And losing weight is not what drives me now in my triathlon pursuits. Losing weight is what exercise is for. And then once you lose the weight, you’re done with exercise. Not me, man. I still have dreams to go after, even at age 45. And exercise is not a part of those dreams. My dreams are realized through ambition, discipline, hard work, perseverance, endurance, and training.

So this has been a very strange race report. If there is anyone out there reading my blog, please take a moment to comment and let me know if I should write a little differently from time to time. I appreciate your feedback.

Whirlwind

This is the first article in the Ironman Chronicles series, which follows my journey during race week of my first Ironman.

Wow. Race week is here, and to be honest, I have not had much time to think about what I am about to embark on. The last two weeks at work have been sooooper crazy busy. Even though this was the only week in June during which I did not want to do any business travel, travelling to Norfolk for business earlier in the week ended up being a good distraction. It kept my mind off the race, protecting me from the fear (is that the right word?) of racing for 140.6 miles.

I’ve been asked quite a few times already: “Are you excited?” I think I’m getting there.

At least I know there’s is no turning back now. After all, I’m stuck here in the Seattle-Tacoma Airport waiting for my connecting flight to Spokane. Hope to see you on the other side… as an Ironman.

Ohhh! Ching-Chong-Ling-Long-Ting-Tong

Sorry, if you were looking for commentary about that blond girl going wild on Asians in Powell Library at UCLA, then you found the wrong article.

It seems like forever since my last post, and it also seems like a lot has happened. In the last month, I moved up an age group to the 45-49 AG when I turned 45. And while you youngsters out there think that we more venerable athletes are slowing down, I’m actually finding that the athletes at the top of the older age groups seem to get faster and/or retain their speed from their youth. I’m both nervous and excited about competing in the new AG. Why nervous? Well, it seems like it just gets tougher and tougher every year. And this AG is no exception. There are some fast, tough, badass people in my new AG. Excited? Heck yea! I have made huge gains in my nutrition and training this past month, so I am stoked to put these gains to the test in my first triathlon of the season this weekend at IM 70.3 California.

I’ve recently become a huge fan of Ben Greenfield’s podcast of http://bengreenfieldfitness.com. Ben is a nutrition expert, exercise physiologist, elite triathlete, and renowned fitness coach. I highly recommend you subscribe to his fitness podcasts unless of course you and I are in the same age group. If you and I are in the same age group, don’t listen to the podcasts because they suck and will be a huge waste  of your time.

From Mr. Greenfield I learned about the importance of supplementing my diet with essential amino acids and branch chain amino acids (BCAAs). And it’s not about eating enough protein, fool. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a total carnivore. Well at least, as an omnivore I enjoy a good share of lean meats in my daily diet. From personal experience, I can validate that consumption of amino acids before, during, and after exercise have enabled me to have increased stamina and endurance. I can ride harder, longer. I can run faster and farther, extending the time out when my body begins to fatigue. I won’t bore you with my regimen and products, but contact me if you’re interested. Or you can just listen to the aforementioned podcasts.

Case in point. On February 19th I did a bike course preview of the IM 70.3 California on a Computrainer. My volume of training that week was a little more than 13 hours, and by the time that I did the course, I was exhausted. At the time I was just supplementing my diet with my regular sport drinks, Infinit and VITALYTE. I completed the 56-mile course utterly fatigued in a time of 2:51 and an average power output of 209 watts. I started my new amino acid regimen shortly after that.

After experiencing amazing results for four weeks, I completed the Computrainer course again on March 19th. That week my training volume was a little longer at almost 15 hours. And by the end of the week I felt fantastic, not tired. During the ride I purposely stayed in 2nd for the first part of the course behind my buddy, Eric, for 30 miles. My strategy was to follow closely behind until we reached the first hill. I climbed hard and waited to see what would happen. Then I climbed the next two hills and amazingly I had lots of energy remaining. I finished the course in 2:37 (average 237 watts), and apparently, I was only the third person in the history of that gym to finish in under 2 hours 40 minutes. The best part of the ride was that I had no cramps afterward, and was able to run well for 20 minutes. NOTE: For this particular workout I also supplemented my amino acid-laced drinks with SaltStick capsules, one every half hour.

With regards to training, you may remember that just a few months ago I was sidelined with an injury to my hip flexors. I’ve been going to physical therapy to deal with that and finished my final session last week. My legs and hips seem stronger than ever thanks to the workout regimen my evil therapist prescribed to me each week. The one old “new” thing I’ve reintroduced into my training regimen is doing strength training three times a week. Prior to triathlon I used to be a gym rat, but when I started training seriously for tris, I stopped strength training. I won’t repeat myself too much since I already wrote a blog about this topic, but I will never give up strength training again. I feel great and for sure, it has been my key to rehabilitating and preventing injury. Strength training, stretching, dynamic warm-ups, foam rolling. Just do it.

Short of jinxing myself this Saturday at the race, here are my goals. Finish the swim in 35 min, bike in 2:30, and run 1:40-ish (if I can avoid cramps). What time do I want? You do the math. But keep it to yourself. I don’t want to get jinxed!

 

The Phantom Injury or Not

Darth Maul: (To Lord Sidious) At last we shall reveal ourselves to the Jedi, at last we shall have our revenge.

You’re probably wondering right about now: ”What does Star Wars have to do with your training?”. Absolutely nothing.

I just thought of that quote as I pondered my racing goals for 2011. I’m anticipating a banner year with lofty goals like:

  • Qualifying for Boston (not possible due to anticipated qualifying race occurring after new registration period closes as of 2/16/11)
  • Completing my first Ironman triathlon
  • Breaking 5 hours in a 70.3 race
  • Getting on the podium in a triathlon

Yep. These will be difficult to attain. But as Coach John Wooden said: “Goals should be difficult to achieve because those achieved with little effort  are seldom appreciated, give little personal satisfaction, and  are often not very worthwhile.”

Since the beginning of 2011 all my goals have been in jeopardy. Because of my hip flexors injury I sustained during the Tucson Marathon last December I’ve had to drop out of my first three races of 2011. The toughest one to drop out of was the Carlsbad Marathon where I thought I would have had my best early shot at qualifying for Boston. Since the injury where I had to stop running at mile 20 after 2 hours 30 minutes, I’ve run unsuccessfully with sharp pain occuring after:

  • 11 miles in 1.5 hours two weeks after the injury
  • 0.3 miles in 5 minutes four weeks after the injury
  • 1.5 miles in 20 minutes six weeks after the injury

But fear not. I’ve been very proactive about my recovery, visiting my doctor, getting massages, and *suffering* during physical therapy. After the third week of physical therapy (six weeks after the injury), I visited my doctor again because I was most displeased with my apparent lack of progress.

I’m glad I saw him again because he conducted an experiment with trigger point injections on me. Using a 1% xylocain solution, a local anaethetic, he injected directly into the pain trigger point on my right leg, below my right pelvic bone at the hip. The anaesthesia is temporary, lasting only 30 minutes. In addition to the temporary numbing I felt no pain when my doctor pressed on my hip flexors right on the point that had severe pain over the last few weeks. The hypothesis of this experiment was that my injury had already healed (soft tissue strains usually heal within 1 to 12 weeks) and the nerves were incorrectly sending pain signals to the brain while running. If the hypothesis was correct, then by the next day I should feel no pain and be able to run. If the hypothesis was incorrect, then by the next day the pain should return when the trigger point is depressed and especially while running.

Results: The experimental hypothesis was correct! Amazingly, I have been pain free since the injection. And the doctor and physical therapist have cleared me to resume my regular running training regimen.

Physical therapy has been the best part of my recovery. So far I’ve completed seven weeks of physical therapy for a total of 13 sessions. Each one-hour session consists of some stretching and intense strength training. By the end of the sessions I am dripping with sweat. I regret having stopped strength training a long time ago as I got busy with triathlon training because all the exercises that I’m doing in physical therapy are the same or similar to the exercises I did when I used to regularly lift weights at the gym. As a result of the physical therapy strength training and conditioning, I can feel my legs and core getting stronger.

Another lesson I’ve learned the hard way during my recovery time is the importance of doing pre- and post-workout warm-ups and stretching. Since I’ve been involved in this sport I’ve been pretty lazy with regards to properly warming up and stretching before and after workouts, especially running. My physical therpist has “mandated” warming up/stretching before and after workouts. I have to admit it’s kind of a hassle, adding on an extra 30 minutes before track workouts and runs as well as an additional 15 minutes afterwards. But if it keeps me performing at a high athletic level, then I don’t mind doing the extra time. At my age, you find that the muscles don’t recover as quickly anymore as well not being as elastic as they once were during my youth.

The number one non-negotiable exercise that I do at least once a day is using a stiff foam roller to massage my legs, hips, and glutes. It was extremely painful at first, but I’ve gotten used to it. It makes my sore, tired legs feel like new. Unfortunately, that’s another half hour of time. I typically just do it while winding down for the evening in front of the television, which minimizes the time impact.

Since my return to running, I’ve completed two track workouts at full intensity, a long run (about 10 miles for 90 minutes), and a half marathon race!

P.S. My physical therapist is the bomb. He’s a former collegiate basketball player with a doctorate in physical therapy. His name is Ryan Monagle and he practices at Personally Fit.

2010 Year in Review

Guess I better reflect on 2010 before too much of 2011 has elapsed! Though I would have liked to have more age group podium finishes in 2010, in many ways it was a banner year for me as I complete a little more than half of my second year of training and competing in triathlon. So here’s a little summary of the year by the numbers:

  • Competed in 17 races … finished eight races in the top 10 of my age group
  • Two age group podium finishes, both 2nd place in 5K races
  • 6 PRs
  • Top 250 in Carlsbad 5000
  • Finished in top 10 age group in all three sprint triathlons entered
  • Ran under four hours in my first marathon
  • Ran sub-20-minute 5K
  • Ran sub-1:40 half marathon
  • Swam a total of 356,004 yards or 202 miles
  • Biked an approximate total of 2,348 miles
  • Ran a total of 1,140 miles

Some of my most memorable races include the following great and not so great memories:

Ironman 70.3 California

  • First 70.3 distance triathlon
  • Cramps during the entire half marathon
  • Spent previous weekend in the emergency room due to a cycling accident on Fiesta Island

Carlsbad 5000

  • First time to finish in top 250 and earn a top 250 medal

La Jolla Half Marathon

  • First negative split race
  • After reaching the top of Torrey Pines, my body felt like the race just started

Spring Sprint Triathlon

  • First top 10 age group finish in a triathlon
  • Spent most of my time on the bike course yelling at other athletes to get out of my way since the single lane on Fiesta Island was split into two

Nautica Malibu Classic Triathlon

  • Finished top 10 age group at a major venue
  • Disappointed with my 8th place finish because I raced most of the course “alone” thinking I was easily in the top 5

Big Rock Sprint Triathlon

  • Finished 14th overall
  • Missed 3rd place age group by 2.3 seconds

The end of 2010 was pretty exciting. In October, I finished out the triathlon season with the Big Rock Sprint Tri. I was a little tired on the run but managed to finish 14th overall. Unfortunately, I missed a 3rd place age group finish by a mere 2.3 seconds. Still, I felt good about my race and believed it was just the beginning of a great finish to 2010.

I rode a PR wave in November. I finally broke through the sub-20-minute 5K barrier at my 3rd time running the Shelter Island 5K. With four seconds to spare, I took 2nd place in my age group. The prize was a free dinner at one of the resort hotels. By about five minutes, I crushed the the sub-100 minute half marathon barrier at the Silver Strand half. I even set a new 10K PR by almost one minute. All of this was building to a crescendo of preparing for a Boston qualifying attempt at the Tucson Marathon in December.

At Tucson, I planned to run 3:25, which would give me five minutes to spare and qualify me for the Boston classic. The course was primarily downhill with a slight decline overall. The course was deceivingly tougher than it appeared on paper. With a mere 10K remaining, I had one hour to go. After 20 miles I silently celebrated the thought that I just needed to run 9:00/mile to qualify for Boston.

Unfortunately, in an instant, everything changed. I felt sharp pains below my hips, right above my quads. I could barely move at that point, and I had to just shuffle the remaining 6 miles to the finish, missing Boston qualification by 20 minutes.

And so that leaves me at the start of 2011 with injuries to my hip flexors. Currently, I’m in physical therapy and not running very much. I had to drop out of the Resolution Run 15K and Carlsbad Marathon in January. Through my experience so far with physical therapy, I’ve learned a couple of things that I will be incorporating from now on.

All of the exercises I’m doing in therapy are exercises I had done during strength training in the gym prior to my triathlon days. As a result, I have incorporated three hours of strength training into my regimen to make sure that my main muscles and supporting muscles are strengthened to endure the long hours of training and racing. Also, I plan on never skipping a warm-up, stretching, or cool down for run workouts ever again. I cannot afford to be lazy especially when this injury is preventing me from achieving my goals.

And that’s a wrap on 2010. I am looking forward to my training and races in 2011!

I am the Biggest Loser

I love the hit reality TV show, “The Biggest Loser”. I can relate. Each season never ceases to amaze me with the physical transformations the contestants make on the show. It’s a testimony to the power of the mind, will, determination, perseverance, and most of all, hard work.

It all starts with belief in yourself even when nobody else believes in you.

And so without further delay, below is a re-write of my biggest loser story. I was not able to include this “biography” in my EDTEC portfolio, so I’m posting it on my blog. Enjoy.

Transformation

What have you done today to make yourself proud?

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Time Trial Face Plant

I think it’s an interesting story. Or at least it could be if I tell it right. So, here goes.

Despite my silence  on my blog, I have been very busy in 2010. My new role at work as a project lead is challenging; I’m managing two projects. I’m finishing up my Master’s degree in Educational Technology from SDSU. And I’m fueling my passion for endurance sports by training about 12-15 hours per week. My primary goal this year is to have my peak performances at the long course triathlon distance, or Ironman 70.3. In the midst of all this business, I’ve competed in three races since January, a 5K and two half marathons. In two of these races, I barely missed my personal goals by a margin of about 16 seconds. So I’d say that my running is doing very well. At our recent track time trial, I ran a 6:20 pace over a 2-mile distance.

Even swimming, my nemesis, has improved. I’ve been swimming about 4.5 to 5 miles weekly in the pool for the last three months on my own and as part of a Master’s Swim group with the Escondido Swim Club. My swim pace has steadily dropped. It was about 1:55/100 yards when I first started. And now, I can swim a little faster than 1:38/100 yards. I’ve had my fastest 1.2-mile swim to date at 41:38. The only unknown left to conquer is to find out if I can relax while racing in the ocean and just let the miles of swimming that I’ve been doing take over.

Even though I’m relatively new to serious athletic training, I’ve found my cycling to be my strongest discipline of the three sports. I don’t really have anything to make that determination other than a couple of informal time trial results at Fiesta Island. My fastest prior to this writing was 31 minutes over 20K, which is three large loops around the island, or 12 miles.

Two days ago, one week before my big race (Ironman 70.3 California), I participated in the first time trial of the season with Breakaway Training. Despite being only one week away from the race, Coach Luke said to go for it. My goal: finish the 12 miles in under 30 minutes, which meant that I needed to average greater than 24 mph.

My buddy, Eric and I, started off together. Just as an aside, before the start of the trial, Eric was moaning on and on about how tired he’s been and not feeling well. Just so you know, Eric, I’m on to you buddy! Anyways, I “warmed up” my legs for a hundred yards or so, then Matt took off. And so the chase began. I followed him with the lead group of about five or six others) close behind. For a second or two, I reached speeds of about 29-30 mph to give chase, overtaking the lead for a short time around the first turn where it’s easy to go fast on a slight downhill. The lead group (Matt, Eric, Dave P, Kent, Gary, and one other dude) set the pace, and I followed behind.

I’m not sure if the lead group was forming a paceline. As you know, there’s no drafting in triathlon, but our coaches said drafting was okay for this informal “race”. In any case, I didn’t participate in any rotating off the front, but hung in the back, conserving energy. We rode anywhere from 25-27 mph at any given time. Whenever I thought the group was going too slowly (under 24 mph), I sped up and took the lead. I’m not sure if they liked that or not; the lead group never let me stay too far ahead and always brought me back into the fold.

I like to think that most of the guys (other than the other middle-aged 40-yr old+ athletes) didn’t like some new guy on the block up in the front, especially some 44-year old with gray hair and all, like me. Ha! Most likely, nobody in the group thought about that. I like saying it, though. By the middle of the second lap, I noticed that my buddy Eric had taken a strong position in the lead group.

Although I wasn’t really sure if Eric was truly on his second lap, I decided to surge forward and pass the whole group when we reached the back side of the island. There was a slight headwind, and our group speed had dropped to about 22-23 mph. I was a little agitated by the slow down, so I yelled out: Let’s go. We’re under 24!” Again the lead group brought me to the back of the fold as we came around for our last lap.

Given the few glances at my speedometer over the course of the trial, I knew that I would easily finish in under half an hour. I was sustaining speeds of over 25 mph for the race. My strategy for the last lap was to hang in the back of the group to conserve energy, and then sprint to the finish when it was in sight. I estimate that the sprint would be about 1.25 km long, maybe 45 seconds to 1 minute. At the back of the group, it was effortless. I love that feeling where your legs are pedaling in almost a free spin. Whenever I look at my speedometer at that point, I’m always amazed by how fast I’m going with such little effort.

At the back of the island there were a couple of cars that were riding to far to the right, which slowed us down to about 22 mph. We had to pass them on the left, which was kind of weird. After navigating around another couple of cars, our speed had dropped to about 21 mph. All of a sudden, I saw Eric take off. Matt and a couple of others gave chase. Dave P and I were in the back of the group. I knew in a few moments, the finish would be visible in the distance.

With the finish line in sight, the group spread out. The sprint was on. Dave P and I maneuvered to the left of the road. I glanced down at my watch. 27.3 mph. I looked at the space. I looked at Dave. For a second I hesitated because I was on the edge of the road, very close to the sand. Neither Dave nor I wanted to yield. In that moment of hesitation, Dave took the space and my bike had no choice, but to go in the sand.

In slow motion, I could feel the bike wobble. And then wham! My front wheel turned left at 90 degrees. I yelled, “Oh sh…!”

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LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin 2009 Report

Do my legs look humongous?

Do my legs look humongous?

Driving to Dripping Springs High School for the start of the ride took about 45 minutes. We parked at Roger Hanks Park, got our stuff ready, and rode about a half mile to the high school. Maria, Parris, Lucas, and his friend Kyle met us there at the start line at about 7:00 AM. The Challenge is definitely one of the most well-organized events I have ever attended. There was food and coffee for all the participants. At about 7:15 I realized that I had forgotten my Garmin Edge 705 GPS unit back at the car, so Murray and I rode back to get it. Given my poor sense of direction, my Garmin helps put my mind at ease with its capability to provide turn-by-turn directions. Oh yeah, Parris wanted to take lots of goofy pictures of us, like this one. Do my legs look humongous?

At 8:00 after the singing of the national anthem and a send off from Mr. Lance Armstrong, Team Tuma finally got underway on the 90-mile journey. With over 3800 riders it took quite some time to actually reach the start line and clear the starting area. Murray and I started off fairly slowly, navigating through the maze of riders going too slow or riding crookedly.

The initial roads out of the start area were extremely bumpy as they were mostly some kind of rough gravel. I had initially planned to ride the entire ride with Murray, and early on, I let him lead the way through the maze of riders. But after awhile I got bored of the slow pace and motioned for us to pick up the pace to try to clear the rag-tag group of riders. With a couple of big bumps in the road, my air pump launched out of its velcro straps. Unfortunately, Murray had no idea and went on ahead. After retrieving my pump, my water bottle launched after another big bump in the road, and I stopped to retrieve that. By the time I got going again , Murray was several minutes ahead of me maybe two miles out. I raced and weaved through riders to catch up. It wasn’t exactly my plan to be riding hard so early in the route.

Finally, I caught up with Murray, chastised him for not waiting and pulled ahead. I did stop a couple of times to wait for Murray to catch up to me. The scenery of the route was fantastic, creeks, lakes, country roads, and quaint homes. By the way, the weather in Austin was so nice. The weather was partly cloudy in the 70s with the sun breaking out every once in awhile.

Even with the moderate temperatures, I made it a point to hydrate regularly and refuel with my Infinit blend. At about mile 30, I signaled to Murray that I needed to stop at the next Power Stop to go to the restroom. So at mile 36 I pulled into the Aid Station to do just that. The station was also well-stocked with food: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix, power bars, gels, Gatorade, water, and even a bike mechanic. Murray pulled in about 10 minutes later. After his pit stop we headed out again to complete the remaining 54 miles of the route.

The route was so clearly marked with bright yellow signs, volunteers with flags, and the local sheriff pointing the way, it would be nearly impossible for me to get lost. I used my Garmin as an odometer and didn’t need it at all for directions.

Because the route was so clearly marked, I decided to go ahead and break my promise to Murray to ride with him, and turned on my afterburners to see just how fast I could do this Challenge. So on I rode, pushing hard on the flats and downhills and trying to maintain a decent climbing speed when going uphill, remaining seated in the saddle rather than standing up to climb. My Cervelo P2 and my legs did not disappoint. It was fun to pass riders going uphill as I remained seated.

At mile 56 I recorded my split time at 3:02. As I approached 56 miles, I had pushed even harder trying to get my split under three hours. However, a slight uphill at mile 54.5 forced me to slow down slightly. I’m confident that had I not stopped two times earlier to retrieve my air pump and water bottle, I could have attained a split of 2:50 or less.

At about mile 60, both my quadriceps started crampng badly. I swallowed some more of my Infinit drink, and the cramps subsided two miles later. Coupled with some downhill portions, I was able to sustain speeds of 27 – 34 mph for some time. It was only when going uphill that the cramps affected my speed.

I reached mile 76 at about 4 hours and 10 minutes. My Garmin was telling me that there were about 10 miles remaining on the route. Clearly it was not a true 90-mile route. And despite being hampered by cramps, I was excited at the thought of being able to complete the Challenge in under five hours. With on and off bursts of cramping pain, I sprinted when I had the opportunity and slowed down when the cramps would not allow me to go any faster. I was able to finish the last 10 miles in about 40 more minutes, completing the entire route in 4:49 minutes! Very exciting for me.

As I reflect on the pain of my last 26 miles, it reminds me of the pain that people suffering from cancer have to endure. My cramps were nothing to me as I thought of Vivien Tuma for whom I dedicated this weekend. If she can hang in there as she fights lymphoma, then surely I could endure 26 miles of cramps. With that in mind, I was able to struggle ahead to the finish line. As I crossed I raised my arms into a V, Mark Cavendish style.

What happened with Murray? After resting for a bit and catching up with my family, I grabbed a bite to eat and a massage and waited for Murray. Little did we know, he had already crossed the finish line. I thought we would have to wait at least two hours. Yeah, I know, I thought I smoked him by at least two hours. But Murray rode a personal best as well, finishing his ride in under six hours. But it was very satisfying to smoke him by one hour and one minute. He finished at 5:50.

What a great weekend. Thank you again to all my financial supporters for making it possible to ride for cancer this weekend. Through your efforts we contributed $3054 to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. May you be richly blessed for your generosity.

Team Tuma Post-race

Team Tuma Post-race

LIVESTRONG Challenge Austin 2009 Update

Hey there everybody. Just wanted to let you know Team Tuma arrived safely in Austin on Friday afternoon after 20 hours of driving over two days.

It’s been non-stop since we arrived. On Friday, we picked up our race materials at the downtown Austin Convention Center. Thanks to all the generous donations to the Lance Armstrong Foundation via my LIVESTRONG Challenge account, I was rewarded with a lot of cool LIVESTRONG stuff, which will make for some nice souvenirs and memorabilia from this trip.

LIVESTRONG Loot

LIVESTRONG Loot

This morning Murray and I participated in the “5k” Run/Walk. That was a fun experience. The energy and excitement from all the participants was contagious. I felt not a single tinge of pain at all on my left ankle, so I was able to post an outstanding time. Granted the event was not a real 5k since the course was only 2.67 miles long. My time for that distance was 17:19, but my pace was the fastest 5k pace I have ever run at 6:29 minute/mile! For about a minute I actually led the field. What an incredible feeling that is to be the race leader and have everyone else behind you. It was surreal. In the end I knew that I could not sustain that lead pace, which was an insane 5:14 minute/mile. In the end, I finished in the top 10 of the entire field and maintained a personal best average race pace.

TexMex lunch with family

TexMex lunch with family

For lunch we met up with my cousin and his wife, Ed and Connie. Murray and I are staying at their luxurious vacation home on Lake Travis. Maria, her sister, husband, and my nephew and niece were also able to join us for lunch.

After lunch, Murray and I took a quick tour of the Lance Armstrong Foundation headquarters. What a unique office and top-quality operation. It was very uplifting. Please check out the pictures of that office later. They are very cool.

LAF Offices

LAF Offices

To wrap up the evening, Murray and I participated in the LIVESTRONG Challenge Celebration Dinner. My guest and I were invited because I raised over $3000 thanks to your generosity. What an uplifting dinner featuring cancer survivor, Eric Shanteau, Olympic athlete and World Champion swimmer. Of course, we heard from the man himself, Mr. Lance Armstrong two times. He did a little Q & A that was very interesting and also gave us a closing speech at the end of the evening.

Q&A with Lance Armstrong

Q&A with Lance Armstrong

Tomorrow is the big ride. I’m finally fully amped up for the ride, and Murray and I are excited to dedicate our pain and suffering on the bike tomorrow to Vivien Tuma!