Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review of 2012

Well, my first full calendar year of triathlon training is in the books.  Races went well: personal bests at all distances; completed my first 2 Iron-distance races.  I qualified for Olympic Distance Nationals, and missed 70.3 World Championships by only 3 places.  More importantly, I'm fitter than I've been since being a competitive swimmer in high school, probably in better all-around shape than I've ever been, and quite happy to be able to train as much as I do while remaining married and involved in our kids' lives and work. 

Here are my yearly mileage totals from Trainingpeaks plus some numerical geekin':

S--327,850 yds. (99 hr.) My overall avg. time for longer distance sets in a 25 yard pool was 1:24 per 100yd.

B--6340 mi. (363hr., some MTB) = Overall avg. 17.5 mph

R--1201 mi. (191 hr.) = Overall avg. 6.3 mph

T--7727 mi. (653 hr.) = 12.5 hours/week average.

Almost all mileage was done through 11/26, when I dumped my bike and fractured femoral neck. I'm already back at it some. Probably not running 'til April or May, though.

For fun and curiosity, I added a little thought experiment: How would a hypothetical IM constructed from my average training speeds compare with my recent results at IMAZ?

Swim: I averaged 1:24 / 100 yd for long sets; an IM swim is 4155 yards. 1:24 x 41.55 = 58:10 "training" swim leg. Actual time was 58:17 for IMAZ swim. Almost perfect 1:1 ratio. Uncanny. And filled with significant confounders (no flip turns, wetsuit).

Bike: 112 mi / 17.5 mph avg. = 6:24 "training" leg. IMAZ time 5:07. Ratio = 1.25:1.

Run 26.2 mi / 6.3 mph avg. = 4:10 "training" leg. IMAZ time 4:24. Ratio = 0.95:1.

Total "training IM" time = 11:32. Actual time @ IMAZ = 10:39. Ratio = 1.08:1.

Thoughts: While these numbers are pretty darn rough, they do point out at least one thing. Aero wheels, helmet, and flat race course relative to training accounts for some of the high ratio on the bike. But I think they do confirm that my IMAZ run pace was proportionally worse than what I should have been capable of doing, due in some part to overpacing the bike, plus other issues (see race report on blog if interested).

I'll hang onto them and see if there's any correlation with next year's results.

Good hammerin' to all in 2013!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Busted Down On Cambell Street

After the obligatory week of post-Ironman indolence, I was looking forward to hopping on the ol' mountain bike and cruising back and forth to work.  Before leaving for work on 11/26 just after Thanksgiving, I pumped up the tubeless tires and got everything ready to go.  Tubeless tires had been a recent add-on, and they seemed to be doing OK, despite an irritating propensity to go flat over several days.

Cranking down the hill felt good.  The suspension was feeling loose and bouncy, even when I shifted it to/from fully locked mode.  Had I looked the bike over thoroughly, I would have noted that this was not the suspension, but the front tire, which was quickly flattening. 
A small thing, in hindsight.  But when I turned off Campbell Ave. to go into the hospital, the front wheel, and the whole bike, slipped quickly out from under me, and I went down hard on my right shoulder and hip.  It was a hard enough fall to knock the wind out of me, and I had a feeling something was wrong immediately.  I've had broken bones before, and I immediately recognized the electrical bone reverberation sensation that went with a fracture.  I did a quick head-to-toe, dragged myself and the bike to the curb, and tried to stand.

No go.  Immediate, breathtaking pain in my right hip.  When I examined it, my hip and pelvis were not acutely painful, but the area over the greater trochanter of my right femur (where the top of the leg bone pokes out) had some good "point tenderness," which is frequently associated with fractures.  My shoulder was also sore, but it seemed pretty minor in comparison to the hip pain.  I called work, then Karen, who called 911.  A couple of women pulled over and helped.  I had begun shivering, and one got me a blanket.

Silently, I decided to be done with Tubeless tires.  I know they're cutting edge, but this is one gimmick that just didn't bear fruit for me.  Back to plain old, predictable slime tubes.

Tucson Fire Department loaded me up and took me to the ER at work.  I was seen quickly, and my anesthesia colleagues popped in an IV.  Here's the initial X-ray:

Diagnosis: Right Femoral Neck Fracture, nondisplaced.  FWIW, Throckmorton's Sign was negative.  I also had a second degree acromioclavicular joint separation in my shoulder.

I got some pain meds, an epidural, and had it operated on by Dr. Jordan Smith.  The procedure was done under epidural only, which wasn't too bad, until the epidural wore off.  Transitioning from epidural to pain meds was quite unpleasant.  I stayed one night in the hospital and left the next day on crutches, or as our 4 year old called them, "crunches."  :-}

Post-surgical film on fluoroscopy
Initially, my prognosis was 8 weeks of "toe touch weight bearing," but the nondisplaced nature of the fracture, the rapid improvement, and the solidity of the repair got me upgraded to advancing from 0-100% weight bearing on postsurgical weeks 1-4.  I've been able to spin, swim (now with kicking), and do pilates.  Weight bearing is up to 75%, now three weeks post-fracture.

Unfortunately, I won't be running for 3-6 months, or biking the Kona Ironman course when we're there for a visit next month.  It's heartening to see improvement, and I'll be back to work when we get back from vacation.  But my whole next season just went from race planning to rehabilitation mode.  IM 70.3 St. George in May and the Tucson sprint series in March and July will likely be aquabikes.  I've qualified for Olympic Distance Nationals in August, but won't make the trip for a less than complete effort.  If all goes well and I dodge the 20% risk of avascular necrosis (which would lead to a hip replacement), I have a pretty good chance of being able to complete IM Arizona this November.  If not, I will aquabike it too.  Unless I'm getting a new hip.

So it goes.  Life is what happens when you're making other plans.  A bike accident sure could have been worse.  The long perspective is that this is more than likely just a bump in the road, and in the interim, life is still awesome in all measurable dimensions.

Oh, and I never would have watched the first four seasons of Sons of Anarchy.  Can't wait until Netflix gets season five.  :-} 

Ironman AZ Race Report--Ironman for Two

This was my second IM.  I completed IM Coeur D'Alene this past June, which was amazing.  But for financial and convenience factors, an IM race 2 hours from our base camp in Tucson just can't be beat.  Were it easy to sign up for IMAZ without being a participant or volunteer, I likely would have skipped it this year.  But the race continues to sell out to the general public faster and faster each year: supposedly in 40 seconds for 2013.  Karen and I had lucked into signing up this year by sitting at Starbucks with our laptops at 11:50 AM (Eastern Time, IIRC) on the appointed day, filling out our applications on, and hitting "return" as fast as we could starting at 12:00:00.00.

With Karen training up for her first full-distance IM, work and kid sports in full swing, and a week-long medical mission to Peru on my schedule in October, my performance expectations were a bit up in the air.  My goal was to train as much as circumstances allowed and see what I could do.  IMAZ could have been anything from a sincere effort to KQ/podium to a mere extended triple brick workout.  Training-wise, I made a genuine effort at re-peaking and addressing the most obvious shortcomings from CDA, most notably my ability to run a whole flippin' marathon off a 112 mile bike ride.  I got in some good "long days," such as an 8 hour bike, a couple 5 hour rides, a couple of 5hr/2hr race rehearsal bricks, and a 3 hr run, but I spent what should have been "peak week" in Peru fulfilling a lifelong medical mission dream and anesthetizing kiddos for needed heart surgeries.  My expectations were thus closer to the "workout" end of things.

Placing a femoral arterial line
in a 2 month old patient
Keeping a watchful eye on things
Since Karen and I were both racing, logistical hassles were compounded, perhaps even more than doubled.  Even with a babysitter joining us for the weekend to help out with our three kiddos, the extra pre-race and gear gyrations cut into our rest time significantly.  Needing to check in two days before the race was a bit of a hassle, but as WTC customers, it's not ours to question why, just to do or die.  Hooyah.

To mitigate future insanity, we have already agreed not to do full-distance IM together in the future, so that one of us can act as Sherpa.
Photo idea courtesy of Vince Matteo
Now, onto the race:

The swim was a single lap in verdant Tempe Town lake.  "Verdant" in this context means "murky green enough to make one wonder if pre-dosing with antibiotics might be prudent."  But I've done several open water swims in Tempe Town Lake without ill effects.

The lake and bridges were lined with supporters, which was heartening.  Swimming directly East at the exact time of sunrise was mitigated by a few morning clouds on the horizon.  I started out one row from the front to allow for the more enthusiastic swimmers to sprint away.  They did.  There was a little jostling and bumping, but nothing either excessive or deliberate.  I was swimming in truly open water for most of the time, which was also the case in CDA.  My focus was on swimming as straight as possible with as little kicking as possible and high elbows, to save energy and leg strength for where it could be put to better use.  It felt smooth and easy, and I popped out of the water in 58:17, far faster than expected, which was good for 3/274 in M45-59 and 85/2147 overall.  I didn't think I'd ever break 1:00 in an IM swim, and wasn't about to foul my whole day up by trying too hard to get there.  Guess there was some merit to my technique goals.

T1 took 6 minutes.  In the future, I'll skip the wetsuit strippers, as I think I could've done it quicker myself.  The worst part of T1 was recognizing that I'd left my Garmin 800 in the pocket of my morning clothes.  Dang.  Bike leg "by feel."  I was hoping to have power numbers to check my enthusiasm and help me save strength for the run.

The slight downhill grade on the way back was fast and fun.
The 3 lap, flat bike leg was initially uncrowded.  All went well except my GI tract.  I'd had food poisoning a few days ago and had been on antibiotics, which I'd stopped the day before the race.  Whether or not it was the illness or the meds, I experienced both absorption and motility problems.  I've never refluxed up water and fluids on the bike in any race or training, nor have I had to make an emergency stop at the port-a-potties ever during a race.  Life is about new experiences, though, and I tried to pace my fluid intake at what my body could absorb, as opposed to what I had been able to do in training rides/past races.  I kept what felt like an easy pace, and by lap 3, the entire field was on the course, resulting in almost continual passing.  Just before the turnaround, I passed Karen, and we chatted briefly.  It was heartening to see that she was feeling good and enjoying herself.  As the field turned around and headed back towards Tempe Town Beach Park, I was feeling good.

This evaporated quickly, as a fellow age-grouper began yelling and cursing at me because I had been passing someone else and had not gotten out of his was fast enough, even though he had apparently asked repeatedly.  I informed him that I had moved as soon as I'd heard him, and he might want to speak louder.  He continued ranting.  Sarcastically, I told him that it was really nice racing with him.  He waved at me with one finger.  I said something to the effect of "back atcha," but I think not so politely.  My adrenals started to run, and I re-passed him and gave him a very hairy eyeball.  But then sanity returned, and I decided not to let it spoil my day.  I slowed down, let him pass, and said, "have a good race, David" with all the sincerity I could muster, which may not have been much.  (Names were on race tags)  My head got back in the game pretty quickly after that.  

The bike leg was faster than expected, 5:07:30, averaging 21.85 MPH, including the port-a-potty stop.  I was well situated at the end of the bike: 9/274 for M45-49, 114/2147 Overall.  A strong run could have put me in Kona/podium contention, but I didn't know this at the time, which was probably merciful.

T2 included a slight delay because the volunteers got me the wrong transition bag.  Petit pink running shoes just weren't happenin'.  I didn't really mind waiting an extra minute, as I had a bit of trepidation about getting onto the run course.

The run started with the customary awkward feel but unexpected speed.  Vince, a new buddy, cruised past me during the first mile.  He's fast, and I was pleasantly surprised to be off the bike at the same time as him.  We talked for a minute or two, then I bade him farewell so I could reel myself in and slow back down. 

The GI issues I'd had on the bike became worse.  All the jostling associated with running made my already upset abdomen start to feel crampy, particularly when I drank.  It wasn't possible to keep up with the fluid intake I'd needed during long training runs.  Cutting the pace down slightly didn't help.  The next curveball was that my Garmin 310 had not charged properly and was completely out of batteries.  The entire Ironman was now going to be "by feel," and with a less than sublime feeling brewing inside me.

My legs felt fresher than in Coeur D'Alene and my stride felt pretty fluid, but it didn't help.  It was like watching a slow motion train wreck, with me being the train.  I started slowing down in earnest at about mile 5, and knew I was going to have to walk or stop to get enough fluids in me at some point if I wanted to finish.  But I wanted to be over the hump psychologically before I walked, so I gutted it out until the second time up Curry Hill, at about mile 15.  Then I made a long pit stop and slurped down some serious water, sports drink, and Coke.  After a couple minutes I resumed, shuffling when I could, and walking when I had to--mostly at the aid stations, repeating the water, sports drink, and coke routine.  Miles 15-23 were pretty miserable, at a barely faster than walking 5 mph pace.
Karen cresting Curry Hill
The highlight of the run--actually the entire race--OK, she's the highlight of my whole life--was seeing Karen.  I caught her at the beginning of her first and my third lap, and because I knew I was now well out of the running for Kona qualification or the age group podium, I ran with her for about a mile and we chatted.  She was still feeling strong and smooth, and sticking right with her pacing goals. 

Now I get to stop running and start eating
Towards the end, the fluid resuscitation efforts paid off, and my legs began to move pretty well for the last three miles.  It was heartening to finish strong, even though I was well behind what I thought I could have done.  Our three kids and the babysitter were there and cheering when I crossed the line at 10:39:21, following a substantially slower than expected 4:24 marathon.

Overall, I was 26th out of 274 starters in M45-49 and 276 out of 2147 finishers overall.  Not bad at all, given my GI issues and my less than complete preparation.  Finishing a full Ironman has not yet lost its glow, and hopefully never will.  It was exhilarating to cross the line and know I'd done it again.  As many racers say, I won't always be able to do this, but today is not that day!

I threw down some more sports drink and quickly dove into my morning clothes to avoid cooling off too much.  After a meal and shower at the hotel, we went back to the finish line to celebrate Karen's triumphant first 140.6 finish!!!
Exultation! Our 4 year old is in a teal shirt at bottom left

What went well/better than IM CDA:
1) Well rested for the race.  Stayed off my feet the week before, unlike CDA.
2) Didn't waste precious leg strength kicking on the swim; went faster anyway.
3) Results notwithstanding, running fitness was better.  Longer individual runs and bikes, coupled with good race rehearsal bricks, really helped.
4) New Hoka Bondi-B running shoes were awesome.  25 years of ASICS Cumulus/Nimbus have come to a close.
5) Raised over $1000 for Heart Care International!
6) Did something logistically insane while staying happily married.

To improve:
1) Bike pacing could probably still be more conservative.  Don't get caught up in the fun of biking fast!  Oh, and put the GPS/powermeter on the bike for the race.
2) Do medical mission/vacations off season.
3) Don't eat leftovers or questionable food within 2 weeks of the race, if ever!
4) Karen and I won't ramp up for and do IM at the same time, not just for race weekend sanity, but to avoid providing our kids so many "strategic opportunities for the cultivation of independence." (See below)

Seen our parents? We think they are exercising again!

Team Quigley kid T-shirt: "Our Ironmom is living fully thanks to us"