Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Las Vegas - St. George - Frisco

I have really been traveling a lot lately for work.  I don't mind it, occasionally, but I have to get creative with my training and eating.  This last weekend I flew into Sin City on my may to San Franciso.  My good friend, Amy Benjamin, from high school, was in St. George visiting her aging parents.  Both are having some health problems and Amy was there helping out.  She lives near Ft. Collins, CO normally

so when she asked if I could come up and spend some time with her and her sweet parents, I jumped at the idea.  I flew into Las Vegas and rented a car and drove out to St. George.  What a wonderful place!  I handn't been to St. George since I was about 8 years old so I didn't remember much.  Visiting Amy and her parents was wonderful.  We were able to visit the St. George temple and drive up to see the IM 70.3 route in Snow Canyon, etc.  It got me very excited to do the race next year!  Now I have to figure out how to fit it into the the other 3-4 events I want to do Spring 2014!  This is a great shot of Amy and her mom at the St. George Temple.  Charles was out in the car being patient as we walked around a bit.

Amy made me some great chicken burgers at their place for lunch on Sunday......

Amy Benjamin and me....

When I got to San Francisco on Monday, I immediately went on a casual run around downtown and the Embarcadero and then past the AT&T ballpark.  What a great run!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Run for Boston

Like so many others in the endurance and running community, we were shocked and outraged at the horrible and cowardly attacks at the Boston Marathon.  I had three friends running in the marathon - all had finished 10-15 min before the blasts occurred - none were injured, thank goodness.  Unfortunately, all came back with a very different perspective and experience than they had imagined.  The excitement of finishing this great event was overshadowed by a whirlwind of feelings and some depression.  

Mary Knott and Dan Beaver, owners of Cadence Running in Gilbert were two of those people.  They finished the race together only to hear bomb blasts minutes later from their hotel room.  Mary and Dan are two of my favorite athelete friends - they care and they give great advice to age groupers like me.  They organized this Run for Boston in conjunction with many other Phoenix area locations - ours happened to be televised by Channel 12 News including their helicopter!

We all wore Boston Marathon gear or at least some sort of a race t-shirt - I chose the Pat's Run 2013 shirt given Pat Tillman is a Sun Devil and died fighting this type of terrorism.  I sure appreciate the sacrifice our men in uniform give to allow people like me to spend their time swimming, biking, running or doing whatever.  I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

In honor of the three fatalities, we ran 3 miles - there I am in the middle having a great time meeting new friends and thinking about the events of Boston. What a great reason to run!  Let's hope we never have to do something like this again!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Ironman 70.3 Oceanside 2013 - Race Results

Spoiler alert - this is one incredible race.  My favorite of all time - so far.  Last year I was late registering so didn't get in.  I signed up early this year and boy was I glad.  Great location, great support, great course.  You really couldn't ask for more.

I left on Wednesday prior to the race.  The race is a Saturday race, which I LOVE, but I needed to visit a client in San Diego so I tacked on time to get there early.  The trip from Phoenix to Oceanside is really easy - 6.5 hours door to door if you don't have any traffic.  It is all desert, though.  It brought back memories of growing up and driving to the coast to get out of the heat.  I really love the drive.  It also gave me some time to think about things - my recent heart test, etc. sort of hung over my head.  I needed to make peace with things and I did during the drive.

I stayed at the Residence Inn Oceanside.  Very nice place to stay about 15 minutes from the race starting line on "the strand."

This is a quick snapshot of the room and the proverbial 'setup before the race.'  This was my 6th half Ironman and 11th triathlon.  It is still exciting but it has become a familiar excitement - I found myself very calm before this race.  I was a little concerned about what to wear for the swim as it would be salt water and colder than usual.  The weather kept changing for race day but it looked like it would be a perfect day as we got closer.  I got a great nights sleep the night before race day, which is always my goal.  I was ready!


Got up early and ate 400 calories of warm OatFit oatmeal.  It was what I used for the Phx Marathon about a month ago and it really worked.  I decided to try it again for this race.  I loaded everything into my car and was on my way.  This is a two transition race - point to point - the kind I like.  You bring your bike the morning of the race which is also something I like.  You arrive and part at T2 which is near the finish line, drop your T2 stuff off and then ride your bike to the swim and T1.  This was wonderful as it got your blood moving and warmed you up a bit for the swim.   

Did I mention there were 2700 participants!  This is the largest 70.3 in the States and despite being on the coast, and everyone being a bit casual (California style), it all went off without a hitch.  Well organized parking, transitions, etc.  I was impressed.


There were 25 waves of participants.  I was wave 22 so I got to start a full hour after the initial starting time.  Water temp was 58 degrees and so I opted to wear a silicone cap with the latex cap over top of it.  I was pretty calm as we worked out way up to the starting line but I was a little worried about the taste of salt water combined with the cool water temps - I hoped I was prepared for the cold water shock.    You queue up at the edge of the water and then you swim out about 150 yards to the actual starting line.  It is an in water start.  As we entered the water, I took my $50 Sable goggles and swished them in the water to get them ready and then placed them on my head.  As I did so they snapped!  The rubber cord snapped!  I sat there looking at my goggles as the rest of my group started to get into the water and swim to the starting buoys.  My heart rate accelerated.  A quick volunteer said, "I have a spare pair right over there..."  I went over to the side and grabbed them - they were horrible plastic cheap goggles and they didn't fit my head.  I scrambled to adjust them - meanwhile my group is forming around the starting line.  I finally get them to fit my head.  I jump in and start swimming to the starting line.  Trying to keep calm, I find I can't see in these goggles!  They are fogged up and cloudy and the wrong color.  As I swim to the starting line, I pull them off my head, spit in them and swish them around to hopefully make it better.  To no avail. Just then the cannon goes off.  I am at least 50 yards behind my group and I  can't see!  It's funny how the cold water and other distractions go away when something like this happens....  I swim and swim and decide to just plug away.  I could see shadows of the buoys and could vaguely tell their color (red meant turn) but it was a nightmare...  On top of all this, the swim was very crowded - unlike any other I had attended.  No way to break free from the pack - a lot of kicking and hitting.  As I finished the swim and exited the water I looked at my watch and it said 38 minutes!  My fastest swim ever by a full 4 minutes!  How could this be!  It set the stage for a great race.


As i jumped on my bike, I wasn't sure how cold it was gong to be.  I had put some arm warmers on the front handle bars in case it got cold - I ended up not needing them at all.  As we exited the T1 about a mile in, there is a steep but short uphill that is pretty crowed.  Unfortunately a woman was not in the right gear and fell in front of several of us.  I narrowly missed her but had to evade the crash.  That meant I had to jump off my bike and walk up the small hill.  Another challenge....  About 7 miles or so into the race a squirrel ran out in front of several of us and almost caused another crash!  Other than that, this is a great bike course.  Fairly fast the first 3rd, hilly the second third (with a very big and imposing hill) and back into headwinds for the last third.  I kept a great pace and kept thinking I need to dial it back - I was going to pay for a fast bike ride, I thought.  But I felt so good and kept my fuel and salt tablets flowing.  As I got off the bike at 3:08 (very solid for me on this course), I wondered how it was going to affect me in the run.


I exited T2 and quickly had to go the bathroom, cutting some time.  Then I started running - I was at a 5:30/KM pace (my watch is still in Canada mode - it makes me feel psychologically faster!) and I felt very good.  Adding much more nutrition than normal, which really made a huge difference coming off the bike and during the run.  The course is WONDERFUL.  All along the beach and packed but full of spectators and people.  In the neighborhoods you go through people are playing music, spraying you with a hose and cheering you on.  Wonderful participation and support.  The aid stations were perfectly placed and well stocked.  Two loops on the course and a bunch of steps and a ramp - twice.  Still, I just ran and ran and ran.  I didn't stop and I felt great!  It got hot but the cool ocean breeze cooled me down perfectly.  I smoked the run!  2:01 total!  My best 1/2 time ever and I did it after the swim and the bike!


5:57:49 total time.  134 out of 243 in my division and 1516 overall in the race.  Personal best and a great race!


Saturday, April 6, 2013


It's interesting how life throws you twists.  I haven't always lived the healthiest of lives.  In fact, if I calculate by years approximately how long I have been eating and exercising correctly as opposed to not, I am about 50/50.  Still, that 50% of not doing good can certainly take a toll.

For the last two years, I have had great medical checkups.  My EKG's have been very good - blood pressure is great (I have never had to take high blood pressure medicine), my cholesterol levels are good, etc.  So much so that I recently got a life insurance policy and was able to lock into the best rate in the country for someone my age!  I felt very good about my health progress, etc.  Not having ever been a drinker or smoker (it's that darn LDS background) has also helped tremendously.

Having said that, my family has a history of high blood pressure.  My father had congestive heart failure in 2005 (he didn't die) and my mom had a stroke in 2007.  Strokes and heart disease are what seems to kill my family.  Adding my being morbidly obese for a number of years and the stress that does to one's heart, made me start to think - how healthy is my heart?  Could there be some underlying issue that has been undetected?  I also didn't want to be one of those triathletes that drops dead in the middle of a race.  I decided to investigate...

A triathlete friend, Mary Knott, recently recommended a general practitioner who was an Ironman triathlete.  He trains, he coaches and he is a Dr.  The perfect kind of partner someone like me needs as I get older but continue in this great sport.  His name is Joe Zitar and we hit it off right away.

Joe thought it would be a good idea, despite not having any symptoms, to go get an ultrasound done on my heart.  If it comes back clean, everything is great and we do nothing.  He cautioned, though, that if it doesn't come back clean, it would be 'muddy' in the sense that  an ultrasound on one's heart is not conclusive evidence but just another data point.  He also said that insurance didn't pay for this test but it was $100 and I knew I could swallow that pill.

I booked a session and did the test.  Very simple.  Painless and quick.

Three days before my recent race, Ironman Oceanside 70.3, I got a call from Dr. Zitar's office.  The R.N. said they had received my ultrasound results back and my calcium score was high and I had some pulmonary nodules.  As such, and I quote, "I should refrain from all stressful exercise until I could see a cardiologist."  I was in SHOCK.  I sat down and informed her that in 3 days I was doing IM Oceanside and I was pretty sure that constituted "stressful exercise."  She agreed and I asked to speak to Dr. Zitar.

Hours rolled by before I could talk to the Dr.  Meanwhile I phoned another physician friend and reviewed my results.  He downplayed it, which helped, but I was still scared.  Finally Dr. Zitar called and told me to calm down and that I certainly could race.  The fact that I was stressing my heart out with exercise on a daily basis with my training was an indication that there was nothing imminently wrong.  He had called the Cardiologist he was referring me to and discussed the situation with him.  He explained that a calcium score was high but really was only a predictor of the possibility of future heart disease.  Not that we don't have to potentially deal with it but it was not a heart attack ready to happen.  I found out later that more than likely my calcium score was higher years ago before I got into shape.  There is some good evidence out there that one can reverse one's score....  Good news for me.  The pulmonary nodules are common with people in Arizona due to the air quality.  They can be an issue if they are growing or changing.  Both will need to be investigated....  

Needless to say, all of this was hanging heavily over my head prior to my race.  


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ironman Oceanside 70.3 Pre Race Stuff

Well, last week was my first Ironman 70.3 Oceanside.  This is a race I have wanted to do since moving back to Arizona.  Last year, I waited too long to sign up and it sold out.  It is a very popular race with the pros and with age-groupers like myself.  This year, I jumped on it and signed up very early.  Before giving a race report, I thought I would show some pre-race pics of the venue, etc.  It did not disappoint!

Here are some photos of "The Strand" in Oceanside where the race takes place.  Some surfers were taking their shots at some of the local waves prior to the race.

Jason Porter (left) is a guy I actually grew up with.  He is now our Bishop in the ward.  This was his first 70.3.  Joel Betz is the guy on the right.  He is the First Counselor in the bishopric.  This was his second 70.3 having done Oceanside last year.

These are the race maps for the swim/bike/run.  There was great support from the people prior to the race.  The big question was what kind of swim cap to wear as the water was predicted to be about 55 degrees.
I like this picture of me!

Here are the pros below - Andy Potts, Matty Reed, Frederick van Vielde, Rinny, Heather Wuertle, Heather Jackson.

We got t-shirts and autographed pics of Tim O'Donnell and Mirinda Carfrae.  Very cool!