Ironman Eve

Today is Ironman Eve.  The day started with a mini triathlon for both of the Ironman.  The plan: a small swim (barely to the coffee barge–I went “all the way” to the barge), followed by a 45 minute ride with some “openers,” and then a brisk run that contained more “openers.”  I played “ironmate” and tagged along for all but the run (shocking I know).  The swim was pretty awesome, as always, but what made it even awesomer was that we ran into THE Caveman aka Conrad Stoltz doing a little swim to ride transition.  Super cool!

After riding 45 minutes withe guys, I headed out for another hour of riding solo.  I rode down to the burial grounds and back.  Along my ride I noticed how welcoming the local beaches looked today, since the “vog” had finally lifted.  It’s been very “voggy” since we have been here.  Vog might be my new favorite Hawaiian term, and one I can pronounce, it means a smog/fog produced from volcanic activity.  Cool.  The local beaches were so awesomeful looking, Rae and I decided to let the Ironmen be on their Ironman eve to stew together about their transition bags on their own and we headed with our goggles to float around as if snorkeling and take some sweet pics with cool fishes.  Unfortunately, we both had polarized lenses on our swim goggles, so lots of pics of tops of our heads and half fishes here are some of the best:

After our trip to the beach, we came back and helped the two Ironmen prepare for lift off aka bike check in.  Di’s were charged, transition bags were packed and at 4 on the dot we rolled (well, we walked along side two rolling bikes) down to transition (aka the place where they change from sport to sport).

Leaving the condo….

In the elevator

On the road to transition

Did I mention I might have a secret calling as a papparazzi?

Rae and I taking pics of each other when they got tired of our ridiculous picture taking….

Ironman Danish heading in….

Mission accomplished!  Bikes have been dropped, Ironmen fed, and now we are off to bed.

Dinner!

The only difference from Ironman eve and Christmas eve is that instead of Santa and lots of gifts awaiting you in the morning, you have to wake up, swim 2.4 miles, bike 112miles, then run 26.2miles for free….yeah, that doesn’t make it sound that cool….but it does prompt me to create this hashtag (or at least point one out that may already exist):  #TGINR (Thank God I’m Not Racing).

Red sky at night!  Good news for these two sailor Ironmen!!!!

Race reporting to follow tomorrow! 1606!!!! Track that!

Poppa’s been smooth since days of Underroos….

Yesterday marked the running of the tri geeks in tighty whiteys aka The Underpants Run.  Little do most triathletes know, but this run began as a means for locals to make fun of all the triathletes who like to walk around in teeeny tiny speedos with horrific tan lines in town.  Ironman Danish, BDubbs, Rae, and I participated in this ritual last year along with Nelson (Ironman Danish BFF who didn’t make the trip this year) and were all geared up to participate again this year, even shopping for the coolest underroos before leaving MIA.

They woulda been cool….

You’re welcome….

However, Ironman Danish has been really nursing a calf muscle strain and battled back from a bad spot with the help of Beyond Wellness doctor Katie Kreis, so, needless to say he is wary to do even the smallest run in undies without proper warm up and cool down/stretch session.  As a result, we skipped it.  You can thank us now for no pics of us in our underroos.  Also, Nelson was not here, really taking a little bit of the ridiculousness out of this event.

2011 With Nelson (with him this event is at least 19% more ridiculous….)

Where is Nelson this year one may wonder….lets just say he needs to put his training wheels back on the bike….

The rest of the day, well, was pretty mellow.  Historically, two days before ANY race, both Ironman Danish and I like to take as a rest day.  The Ironman World Champs is no different, and, BDubbs is on that same rest program.  Thus the day was spent lounging around the condo–which, I should mention, isn’t a terrible place to spend the day.  We even were able to catch a pod of dolphins frolicking–it was AWESOME.

I did venture out into the world to take some glamor shots of Fergie with her lei beachside and also to check out the expo.

Damn straight

Then we went to church

There was nothing much happening at the expo, in fact, I feel as though last year’s expo had more things I really liked for sale–this is a good thing, for my wallet.  One item, and it was not at the expo, spoke to me this year and it was a super sweet set of arm sleeves from Planet Sun Hawaii.

They match perfectly….

Luckily there was even more free stuff being given away.  Turns out, most of the SRAM guys mountain bike and were really happy when we asked to see the new XX derailleuer and they loaded us up with schwag.  I, in turn, loaded them up with some sweet Rose Bandit koozies!

Ironman Danish seems to be in a good spot and, has an AWESOME race number: 1606!  His pretty hate machine (aka his TT bike) is all charged (Di and all) and ready to rock!!!

The Ironman and I after a long day of lounging….

Spacemen and Kona Hills

So, now, let me back track a little bit to recount yesterday’s activities.  The day started with a somewhat, ok, no, totally weird request from Mike’s coach (who, I should mention, is also a friend of ours) to take a picture of Mike’s backside in a speedo….yeah…..I decided the best place for this rear end photo shoot was probably at the beach and perhaps underwater for that matter.  So we headed to the beach for our morning swim/photoshoot.

Euro photo shoot pic #1

Euro photo shoot pic #2

After our risque photo shoot (I should mention, I did not play a part it–rather it was an awesomely European bonding moment between BDubbs and Ironman Danish offshore a ways….I am not even jealous) we headed back to the condo for some eats and some down time before heading out on our respecitve bike rides for the day.  Rae and I decided to snap some sweet shots of the space men before heading out.

Spacemen prepare for flight

BDubbs putting out the vibe

Ironman Danish….yeah

Ironman Danish and BDubbs had some specific workouts to do, luckily Rae and I did not.  So we headed out on a three hour ride in the Kona hills.  We rode up to 2000ft in pretty much 2 miles (the road, which had a name that sounds like someone saying aloha like 20 times, kicked up to 20% at the end).  The final 20% kick at the top almost killed me as I was rocking a sweet time trailing cassette on Fergie’s loaner wheel–an 11 x 23.  Yeah–that sucked and I almost died of an asthma attack.  Luckily, crisis averted by the trusty inhaler.

We then were in some beautiful rolling hills that overlooked miles and miles of lava fields that run all the way down to the Ocean.

Goats chillin in the lava fields

Regina and Fergie taking in the views

We turned around on our out and back course and had an awesome cruise back towards the Alohaalohaalohamahalo Road for a fun filled descent that began with negative 20% (we were going about 45 mph–way more than 30).  The only thing that made it not that awesome was the shakey front wheel I had going down it.  Turns out Ironman Danish was trying to kill me, when we built our bikes at 2am East Coast time the night we arrived apparently my front break cable got a little frisky and decided to get closed into the stem….yeah, turns out my wobble wasn’t a speed wobble but rather a “your break cable is attached to your stem” wobble.

My “yay I didn’t die” photo op….

After not dying, we headed away from home a little longer on the Queen K to get in some extra time to make our ride a full three hours.  On the way home we collected some serious giveaways and had two opportunities to refill our bottles at a Gu roadside stop and a Island Bike Works roadside stop.  Not bad.  We swung into the Energy Lab for some shots before heading home.

Fergie loading up on some energy at the lab

Rae posing at the Energy Lab next to a sign that we are clearly past that commands no cyclists beyond that sign….oops…

Upon returning home, we stopped in and thanked Planet Sun for their amazing sun protection they provided us with on our ride (and everyday of the year).  I then headed out on my mission to get Fergie leid….she shall have more glam lei shots today.

Fergie leid on lava beach

M Dots….the M is for Marketing the Dot is for the “O” in Opportunity….

One thing that there is no shortage of here in Kona at the Ironman World Champs is shameless marketing.  Triathletes eat that shit up, so why not try every possible marketing scheme to get people to like your product?

M Dot

Here are my top three favorite marketing schemes so far:

1.  Underwater billboards.  Yup.  On the Ironman Swim Course, which pretty much every tri geek and their “ironmate” (sorry, I almost puked in my mouth a little just typing that) swims each morning (except for the Pros–who swim at the local pool), some serious marketing geniuses put together the thought of underwater signage to direct you towards the expresso barge.  There are also signs to tell you about a newest greatest energy product that you can probably get for free on the beach, and other signs.  GENIUS!  I mean, this might be better than highway billboards.  You are already looking down, why not have something other than the beautiful nature under you to peak your interest in swimming in these beautiful waters?

Billboards!!!

2.  Chocolate milk.  With the help of some elite triathletes, a milk company has decided to reinvent the wheel but rebranding chocolate milk as THE BEST way to recover EVER.  They have taken it so far that they have a tent set up with free chocolate milk giveaways for your post swim recovery and information on the benefits of their chocolate milk.  I was so blown away by the new round wheel they were selling I actually had to commend them for their marketing genius–as I took my free chocolate milk, of course.

Not gonna lie here, I stocked up on some of the goodness….

3.  Priceless giveaways.  It makes you wonder what it costs to make some of these products that just get thrown at anyone sporting an Mdot wristband or at those who look like maybe they are racing (for instance, me).  There are several aggressive attempts to gain market share by an INSANE amount of free-shit handouts.  I mean, I have already racked up the following: a rather nice running shirt (would be really nice but it is red and a size large), a water bottle, a swim cap, new Louis Garneau branded gels, and, of course, enough chocolate milk for the next two years.   Ironman Danish has racked up the same AND THEN SOME including TYR “Special Ops” goggles and the other free stuff that came in the race packet (granted, this stuff is not really free, in fact, each race really paid $650 dollars for the “free” stuff in their registration bags). In fact, had Ironman Danish read the “official program” earlier, he would have seen the full page ad on the back of it in which Rudy Project offered FREE Wingspan helmets to anyone who afreed to wear their neon aero helmets in all races for a year (including the IMWC.  Of course, he still wouldnt have gone to get the helmet as Ironman Danish is practically allergic to aero helmets, and, if you may recall last year, the penalty tents were overwhelmingly populated by triathetes in the neon dome pieces.

Free!!!!!!

Now, I do love getting free shit as much as the next person, but even I have to say it is a little out of hand.  You know what should have been free–a lei for me/Fergie.  My race bike, Fergie, made by a Rose Bandit Team Sponsor Boom Bikes, needed to get her taste of Hawaii and get laid today, but her lei cost $7!!!  I mean, could it be that the wingspan cost less to make than the lei?  Urgh….

But damn that lei looks good on her….

Sorry for the venting, my real post about the days events are coming soon…..

Team Danish- Mud, Mechanicals, and Rain, oh my!!

Ironman Danish and I were looking for a fun something to do for Labor Day weekend….well, more accurately, we were looking for races we wanted to do on the horizon and couldnt come up with any as we were not committed to racing the full FSC.  We ended up really hmming and hawing and finally settling on racing the 8 Hours of Labor race on Labor Day weekend–but rather than our usual individual races, we would combine our power into “Team Danish” and race the two person team “coed” division.  We scoped out the race results from years prior to see that this was a very popular option at this race and were excited to race against some great coed teams.

And–in the 8hr solo–Tinker Juarez: the man, the myth, the legend!

I was pretty convinced that the race would look a little something like this:

Ironman Danish takes first two laps, including the Lemans start to kick off the race, and would hand the race over to me with an already very comfortable lead.  I would simply get to ride out the rest of the race at a nice little tempo.

Ironman Danish in the pink (obvi) at the Lemans start….

However, this is how the race actually went down:

Ironman Danish and I set up a nice little camp/invited ourselves into a nice little camp with pro Bob McCarty and his long time go-to two person team partner Grant.

Grant and me chillin’ at the tent

These guys are pretty much the bomb.  When I first started riding the ol’ MTB a long, long, long–oh wait, no, about a year and half ago–I would see Bob riding the trails “running from ghosts” (aka fast) and would yell to him as he floated out of site that “someday I am going to ride like you Bob.”  And, that is still my plan–someday I will, but with a slightly more pink flair.  Anyway, we set up camp with these guys.  Ironman Danish headed out and by the time I saw him he was already in the top three with a solid lead on the rest of the field.  Peeerrrrfect.  I rode back to the tent and was ready to hand up bottles in about 30 or so minutes after the first lap.  Grant and I shot the breeze and all was mellow until riders started pouring in for the end of the first lap.  I saw the leaders coming in, including Bob, and saw no signs of Ironman Danish which was strange.  I clearly had a very bewildered look on my face as every racer that went by or handed off the baton came over to me and relayed a tale of what had happened to Ironman Danish.  These are some of the things I heard:

“Hey Duffy–he got a flat”

“Hey D, he broke his chain”

“I think Mike crashed after he got a flat, I saw him on the side of the trail”

“I think that Danish’s deraileur fell off”

“Duffy–he got a flat after his chain broke”

and

“I dont know what happened to him, but I saw him running next to his bike at mile 5 or so–he was passing people though!”

Here is a vid of the race with evidence of Ironman Danish on the side of the road (for the second time) trying to repair his machine:

Oh boy, this was like a bad game of telephone.  The only one person I could take one thing from was Bob who was on Ironman Danish’s wheel when his chain snapped–the first time.     And, Bob, knowing our plan of two laps for the ol’ Ironman, said “I think you should probably be ready to head out for lap two, he broke it at mile 2 (of 9.6).”  Dang it!!

So, since I was already suited up, I mentally prepared myself to work a miracle comeback since I sat and sat and waited and waited and no signs of him anywhere.  In fact, the top solo riders, lead by Tinker Juarez, were now coming in for lap two of the race!  Crap!!  We were a lap down….this was going to suck.  And then, Ironman Danish came running in–no chain, no rear derailuer, and pretty tired from running 6 unplanned miles (at least he is training for an Ironman I suppose).

Ironman Danish giving me a push on my lap 1

I headed out like a bat outta hell–running from ghosts–and threw down a pretty solid lap time.  In fact, I dont think that Ironman Danish expected me in so soon.  Luckily, we had all the parts required to fix the multiple mechanicals on his bike so he could take the torch and continue on with our race.  I had already passed multiple teams and we went from last to 8th team after my lap.  Sweet! Maybe we could even claw back to the podium??….

Trying to catch some extra oxygen and maybe some flies….

And then it started to rain, and not a little rain, a major soaking torrents of rain.  This actually turned out to favor us a bit.  I didn’t loose as much time on the wet laps and, well, Ironman Danish didn’t loose anything in time.  We were gaining and were now in 4th!

Did I mention it rained?

Unfortunately, 4th is where we would stay.  If I had my thinking cap on instead of my helmet, I would have told Ironman Danish to double up and take my lap (which turned out to be the last lap for the Team) in an effort to make the cut off to get another lap.  But, as luck had it, I left my thinking cap at home and we ended 4th and one lap down on the podium!  We definitely fought hard and had a ton of fun doing it.  Riding in the mud is always a good time cause it makes you feel like a kid (except when you realize that there isn’t a mom or dad to wash your bike for you or deal with your muddy laundry).  We will definitely look to redeem ourselves soon!

QOM Points Part 3: Breck is Epic!!!

Finally!!  We arrived at our pre-LT100 training location: Breckenridge, Colorado.  Quinn, Margarita, Ironman Danish, and I were all happy to finally have no use for a car for the next 10 days.  I found us this AMAZING ski-in ski-out condo in town that in the summer transforms into ride-in ride-out.

Quinn checking out the view of the trails from our condo

Not 24hrs into being at this amazing condo was I reassured that great minds think alike when I contacted a teammate who I knew was also in Colorado for the summer only to find out that she was not only in Breckenridge, but was in the SAME building we were.  So now we had friends in the building, the Olympics on TV, and some of the most amazing trails right outside our door–how could this get better?

Awesome views!

Well, it did the day we first rode these trails.  The town and trails were amazing.  Granted, I had been here before and skied some of the same trails I was now riding, but I had never stopped and thought what it would look like without snow everywhere.

Ski trails=bike trails! If only I used the lift to get up here….

Turns out, underneath all that fluffy white stuff is beautiful green stuff, flowers, and intensly technical mountain bike trials.  The only real downside to riding out in Breck is that there is no downside–as in, uphill is your only real option for a ride-giving all new meaning to an easy spin (they arent as easy when your only choice is going up hill).

Anyway, we decided that our ride plan for the days leading up to the Leadville Trail 100 would not be to go crazy pre-riding sections of the course, but it would be best spent soaking in the Colorado mountain bike experience and ride sections of the Brek Epic race course.  Here is a description of the Brek Epic as described by the organizers:

Attention Weekend Warriors.

if you’re the type of guy who likes to give yourself one extreme challenge once a year…well, this is probably not the event for you. The courses will be long. They will be difficult. 90% of the terrain will be above 10,000 feet. Cut-off times will be strictly enforced. You could end up seriously hurt, having to sell what’s left of your bike and pay off your hospital bills by inspecting socks and underwear with your one good arm. At night.

If it rains you might end up dead. Seriously. Rain here is no joke. Especially the lightning-y parts. Sizzle! Getting fried will take your mind off the discomfort and uncontrollable shivering that come with a nice dose of hypothermia though. See? The glass is half full!

Back to weekend warriors – you guys can’t come. Then again, the architect of this event is a drooling fat-ass whose pinnacle of athletic acheivement was reaching the exalted ranks of the middle of the pack of the Expert field. And he (OK, “I”) could make the time cut-offs if I had to, and I’d put myself optimistically in the middle of the Sport class right now.

Bottom line? If you’re a lunchbucket Sport-class rider you CAN do this. And it’ll be awesome. If you’re prone to complaint you may want to bite off something a little more pedestrian. There’s a zany Herb Tarlek-looking dude with a nice little race about 10 miles west (as the crow flies)…

So, as you can see, the Breck Epic wards off weekend warriors with more than a stick, and in fact, claims that the place for them in the LT100.  Interesting.  So, what better way to practice for the LT100 than to ride a course that claims to be substantially harder?

Fuzzy Blumkin?

Lucky for us, the race also promotes seeing what the course is like and publishes Strava segments for the race stages on their website.  We decided to for the first time test the navigational powers of my Garmin Edge 705 and uploaded these segments so we didn’t get helplessly lost in the Rockies and end up bear food (luckily, I still have my bear whistle but not sure it works on coyotes or mountain lions….hmmm…dont want to test this either….actually, I am not even sure it works on bears).

I was not taking this picture to get a close up of Ironman Danish, but rather I was fairly certain I was going to catch a Mountain Lion or Bear lurking like “Where’s Waldo” in the background…

Our first ride was one of the stages that takes you up Little French Gulch.  All I have to say is that if this is “little” French, I would hate to meet “big” French.  This trail was NO JOKE and pictures would never do it justice.  Suffice to say that even the pros walk bits of this one.  In my head this is also what I had imagined Columbine and/or St Kevins to look like (good thing Columbine looks like beginner trail compared to this).

So, as you can tell, Little French is pretty easy to climb up…or walk, just ask this racer….

Our second ride was the stage that takes you up over Wheeler Pass.

If you ride the whole Wheeler Pass loop you can actually go up the mountain range in Breck and descend down Copper Mountain.

We choose to bail out early as it was appoximately 35 degrees and windy at the ol’ mountain top (snow up there too!).

We continued to ride different stages of this EPIC race in preparation and all I could think of was how hard that Breck Epic race is and how if I did the race, I would imagine that over the six days and 200 miles of racing I would most likely get in about 32 HOURS of riding/racing at altitude.  YIKES!!!!  And, that 32 is being optimistic.

Boreas Pass…another “easy spin”….

The hardest part about riding all these stages was that Ironman Danish was training straight through the races for, well, the Ironman.  This year he was selected as the US Coast Guard Ironman team member.  Pretty cool, right?  It’s cool, unless you are Duffy Danish (me) and forced to ride with the ol’ Ironman Danish when he has to do intervals.  We realized that we would have to develop plans that would enable him to get in his workouts and not kill me.

Luckily, we were able to pull this off no problem and we were even able to still both have energy left at the end of the day to have some family time with the pups!

Family long arm picture!

Q and M enjoying one of their many trail hikes…we saw a fox and a coyote on our walk one day!

We were actually bummed that we would have to leave Breck and head to Leadville.  But on day 10, we packed up the pups, bikes, and our crap and headed up another thousand feet to the town of Leadville….

Another Midnight @ Ironman

So the Ironman Danish finished….that was cool…or hot, depending on how you look at it.  One thing I failed to mention before is that it was BLAZING hot out on the course during the race (even if you train in Miami).  Lucky for all, awesome spectating crew included, some late afternoon clouds rolled into town from the mountains (which are really volcanos!).   As mentioned, Ironman Danish  acquired some pretty serious burns over the course of the day from the extreme sun, including  a SWEET sunburn in the exact shape of the race number 1534…

sunscreen folks...use it

Anyway, perhaps the coolest part of the geeky triathlon culture, is really not that geeky at all.  It is the fact that built into Ironman (full distance) is that almost every finisher (pros included) comes back to the finish line to cheer on the late night and, yes, midnight finishers….yeah– midnight—gives new meaning to “long day.”

No biggie...just Crowie giving you your medal....

or Chrissie and Mirinda...

So as you see, even the pros Chrissie, Crowie, Mirinda (yeah, we are on first and nickname basis) come to cheer home the late nighters—they are all there, cheering home the (most likely) lottery “winners”…its pretty awesome.  The official voice of Ironman is calling out the names, telling stories of the people who finished.  The coolest might have been when a double amputee sent word up the road to the finish line that he would like to have “Eye of the Tiger” playing when he came down the chute.  I think it was a tear jerker for all honestly.  Not much makes me cry or want to cry, except for pure athletic determination and success (well, and pain of course).  This guy almost got me there.  Anyway, the night ended with a woman who was coming down the chute at 16:59:00—finishing officially at 17:00:04.

not an ironman...sad....

Turns out she probably should not have stopped at the last water station.  Part of me wanted the official voice to say she was an Ironman, but part of me was please he instead uttered “well, you are an Ironman in our hearts.”  Tough deal….

Standing at the finish line, I met Tara Costa (from the Biggest Loser), that was cool.  I went over to her, thanked her for all she does and congratulated her on finishing the Ironman WC.  Truly, I think she is amazing.  To go from where she was to where she is now—finishing an Ironman under 14 hours is awesome.  Also while standing there, I realized that if I crossed the finish line and was greeted by many of the cheesy pop songs playing, I would demand a refund.  I mean, I am with the “Eye of the Tiger” guy– give me good old fashioned pump up music, none of this ear candy.  I would want “Thunderstruck” or “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Machine Head” or “Insomnia (once at the fast part)” or “Animal” or anything by Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, even Eminem…you get my point…this “hey should sister” bs is completely inappropriate in my opinion…Luckily for WTC, they redeemed themselves and had a kick ass finale show complete with flame throwing craziness: