April 27, 2007

Swim Progress Update

I remember last fall when I started to swim laps when I would struggle to get in 500 or 750 yards over 20 or 30 minutes. More wasn't an option - I was wasted after that. I asked everyone around me how to swim and I tried anything and everything.

There was no magic that would make me an instant swimmer.

In January I boasted about completing a 750 yard straight swim, a distance huge at the time but which now seems almost laughable.

Flash forward to today.

This morning I swam 2100 yards of mixed intervals after a 400 yard warm up. This was a medium day both in intensity and distance, and I stopped when I did because my hour of allotted childcare had ended. This week I'll meet the 10,000 yard mark for the first time. My long swim Sunday will be either 3000 or 3500 (if I'm feeling it), both distance which I already have conquered.

There was no magic that allowed me to swim.

There was only persistence. And a stubbornness that I WILL.NOT.FAIL.

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

April 25, 2007

Another Lesson Learned

I learned another lesson today that will pay dividends come race time.

I had a little more free time today than I do most Wednesdays, so I decided to go for an extra longish ride. I stopped by the LBS and got a couple extra tubes and CO2 cartridges, mixed a couple bottles of Perpetuem, and off I went.

I decided to ride the Hwy 78/119 route, which starts on the Powerman bike course and continues southeast before turning west toward Double Oak Mountain. This happens to be the route I flatted on last time I rode it (without a spare tube) and had to hitch a ride back to town - thus, the extra tubes and cartridges before I left.

Well, at least I can say that this time I was prepared.

I only made it 2 miles from home when - BOOM - the front tire exploded (at about 35 mph I should add - what a rush!). I was actually stoked by the pistol-fire like noise coming from my bike; I mean, if I'm going to flat I'd rather it be with a bang than a whimper like last time. So I rear braked to the side of the road with a great big grin because I was about to change my tire during a ride for the first time. Yea, I know... But I like novelty...

It only took a few minutes to get the new tube in and get the tire seated. I inflated with the CO2 cartridge, but I must have screwed something up somehow because just as the CO2 was almost done - BOOM - another explosion.

This time I wasn't nearly as excited...

So I repeated the motions, put my last tube on, and then started inflating. This time I pulled the cartridge off earlier than I should have to avoid blowing another tire before I could even get back on the bike. This left my front tire with only about 2/3 of necessary pressure, so I decided a long ride today was not going to happen.

I limped the bike back home, and then made a second trip to the LBS for more tubes and cartridges. LBS dude looked at me kinda funny-like, but I didn't let it phase me. I held my "I know what the hell I'm doing" look with perfect form.

I fully inflated and rechecked everything, repacked the extras, and walked outside to try for a short ride. But alas, now there was thunder and the first hints of rain. Sigh...

So my extra long ride became 2 hours on the trainer and then a strength session at the gym.

Oh well.... At least I got to change a couple of tires on the road for the first, but certainly not the last, time. Another small step along this journey to Ironman, and another lesson learned...

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

April 22, 2007

Weekend Lake Photos

The troupe and I made our first trip of the season to Lake Martin this weekend. We played in the boat and the water, and I was able to slip away for a long bike ride this morning.

The bike ride was the strongest I may have ever felt. I was able to stay hydrated and I think even had adequate energy intake thanks to some recent bloggerland advice.

On the lake Emma drove the boat solo for the first time, and she knee-boarded for the first time. The driving went well, but she still needs to get stronger to control the board. I think she'll have to stick to the tube again this summer.

Tess, Anna, and Aidan were worn out watching big sister in the cold water.
But even big sister crashed on the way home...

I'm taking the week off of running (and soccer) this week to let my left knee extensor mechanism (quad/patella tendon) cool off. It's gotten a bit inflamed I think due to playing soccer so much with the kids (3 days a week for a couple hours a day) the last few weeks. Although I think it is the soccer that caused it, it's irritated when I run too.

So, this week will be all about the bike and the swim. I should be able to get close to 15 hours of volume this week, so I'm hoping for some serious breakthroughs in the pool and on the bike!

Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin!

April 18, 2007


I was lounging in car line, feet propped on the side mirror, and thinking about some of my favorite bloggers when I thought of Momo. And Momo's now famous feet. And then I had to do it... This one's for you M...

April 15, 2007

Race Report

Some say that to be prepared for Ironman you need to be prepared to face ANY obstacle on raceday, because anything that can go wrong very likely will go wrong over the course of 140.6 miles.

With that in mind, today was a great Ironman training day.

This morning I competed in the 8k/53k/8k Powerman Alabama race. I treated it as a long reverse/regular brick and didn't taper any. Well, my only training yesterday was a mile swim so I guess I rested my legs yesterday. But I had run 10 miles Friday, which, after today's 10 miles gave me 30 miles running for the week (longest running week ever!)

Anyway, the race. Forecast weather was low this morning of about 44 and then mid-to-high 50's by midday with overcast skies, maybe rain this afternoon. Uhm, no. That didn't happen. Try low 40's at the start of the race and low 40's (with a feel like of 35) at the end of the race with wind swirling and gusting at 20 mph and rain. Yes rain - a mist for the first hour and then a constant light rain for a couple of hours and then back to a mist.

Now in case you don't know me, I don't like training in the cold. I'm all about snow runs, as long as I'm reading about them and not participating in them. I've never ever ever ever ridden my bike outside when it was in the 40s. Or when it was in the 40's and raining.

When I got to the race venue this morning, I was surprised to see my friend Mark already there and marked. Mark is the fool that talked me into my first tri last year, but Mark is almost always late for every race. In fact, for southeast xterra championship last year, Mark showed up so late the entire field had already finished their swim (lucky for him, the understanding organizers let him start anyway and he got the course to himself...)

Anyway, so I got marked and put on my tights that (thank God) I had stuck in the car just in case and then went to the start line to freeze while waiting for our signal.

The first run of the duathlon went as well as I could ask for. Mark and I ran together for the first couple of miles before he dropped back. I finished out strong and felt good, with a time (official results not posted yet) of about 35:30.

And then the misery started. The 2 loop Powerman bike course is hilly (not the steepest grades, but long mile plus 3 or 4% grades), and tends to be windy even in calm weather. And with temps in the low 40s and windy and rainy, I suffered.

The first loop I could still feel my feet, but by the second loop I realized that I couldn't. Ditto my ungloved hands. There was so much snot coming from my nose that I found it easiest to just collect it in my mouth and then spit. Yea, gross. Like I said, I suffered.

I noticed there was much less traffic on the course for the 2nd lap. Initially I thought I must be bringing up the rear. Then it dawned on me that people smarter than I were calling it a day after 1 lap. But I wasn't going to let that happen to me. I was out there for fun, and fun is what I was having. At least that's what I kept telling myself.

Actually what made the bike bearable was thinking about IM Wisconsin last year, with low temps and rain, and realizing that this race was preparing me, at least mentally if not physically, to be able to handle it if this year's IM brings similar ugliness. And after today, I have even greater respect for last year's IM WI racers. Dude, cold and rain on a bike suck.

When I dismounted the bike after (I lost count, but I think it was ) just under 2 hours, I stumbled when my feet hit the ground. I honestly could not feel them. I felt like a long-time diabetic with neuropathy. I gingerly jogged through transition. I never before have had so much trouble getting my running shoes back on and getting my helmet unsnapped. Couldn't do it. Couldn't feel what I was doing. My laces weren't the issue, they're the easy kind, but it felt like I was putting the shoes on someone else's feet. Weird. Then it probably took me a full 30 seconds to get my hands to find the right button to push to release my helmet.

After a mile and a half of the second run, I still couldn't feel my feet. It felt like I had bricks strapped to my legs. My knees were stiff. I was slow.

When I first started getting feeling back, it was painful. I felt like there was a rock under my arch in each shoe. At 2 miles I sat down and took off my shoes to inspect, but everything was normal. I trudged on, but it was probably the slowest I've ran in a long time. I even walked a couple of hills. I was spent.

I came across the finish line unofficially in about 3:20. This was much slower than I would have predicted pre-race, but that's ok. This race was huge for me in learning to overcome piss-poor weather, dealing with hands and feet that I can't feel, and taking in nutrition.

Oh yea, nutrition. It sucked. I am a chronic under-drinker on the bike, and today was even worse. With cold weather and rain, I just didn't want to drink anything. I drank nothing on the first run, and I took in a total of 6 ounces on the bike. The 2nd run I took a couple of powerades.

And I didn't eat enough either. 2 1/2 hours before the race I had 2 pieces of toast and an orange. Then I had 1 gel on the bike. I naively expected there would be some gels handed out somewhere along the racecourse so I brought only 1 with me. Rookie mistake that won't happen again.

Between the frozen feet and the lack of fuel and hydration, I knew the 2nd run was going to be tough. Yea, I bonked. Oh well. It was still fun (I mean, how often have you been able to spit your snot??) and a huge learning experience, and a deposit to the IM bank.

After eating the post-race meal with Mark, I was shivering uncontrollably. I had put some fleece pants on over my tights, but I was still wearing my wet top. There were no finish-line blankets or anything like that at this race. A couple of strangers said I didn't look well and asked if I was ok. Yea, I'm fine I lied. I realized then that I must look as hypothermic as I felt and headed home.

Once home, I changed into dry socks and the warmest fleece I own, turned my thermostat to 75, put an extra comforter on my bed and slept for 2 hours. Didn't change position once. I woke and felt great, with minimal aches (left IT feels a little tight) and no pains.

All in all, a great training day! Thanks for joining me for My Daily Spin.

April 13, 2007

What should I do?

As I begin writing this post, I'm at a crossroads. There is a decision that I need to make today. Within the next 30 minutes... And I am completely on the fence about the issue, although it is a decision that has potentially huge (well, relatively, I mean, it's not like we are withdrawing troops from Iraq based on me or anything...) ramifications.

I have 2 major hang-ups. Ok, I have a lot of hang ups but there are 2 that loom over all others and tend to create trouble for me repetitively. You see, I tend to jump into a game without thinking things through. I speak and write without realizing what exactly it is that I am saying, I commit myself to things that I really don't want to be committed to, and I start things without considering whether I can finish.

The biggest example of this is my relationship with my ex-wife. We met when we were freshmen in college. The first night I met her I told my roommate I was going to marry her. It only took a few months for me to realize that we weren't exactly the most compatible, or even a reasonably compatible, couple. But I was stubborn and felt that I said I was going to do it because I said it so I couldn't stop until I did it.

And that leads me to my second big problem.

I don't finish things. I can begin a million projects and get them to near completion and then walk away. I don't know why, but I don't need the satisfaction of the final destination to enjoy the journey. My marriage, my school science projects, entrepreneurial pursuits, books I've written... I take them to the point of no return, and then I return. I don't make the final efforts to realize the potential of what I start.

That's one of the primary reasons that I jumped into endurance sports. The only true measure of success in endurance sports is finishing the activity. Yea, you can argue that you can succeed by preparing even without finishing; but, while I respect this philosophy it just doesn't work for me. When my goal was to complete a marathon in December, I wouldn't have considered myself successful if I had only done a 20 mile training run without doing the actual 26.2 mile race. I think of Ironman the same way. I can train for years but if I never do it than I will never hear the dude say "DV You are an Ironman!" and I will not be successful. Some will disagree with this definition of success in endurance sport, but that's my definition. Finishing.

So endurance sport seemed the perfect way to battle this demon, in addition to a few others that I'll save for another day.

I planned on racing Ironman Wisconsin since last fall, and I added Ironman Switzerland to my schedule around the start of January. When I added IM Switz, the selling points were that it was a fun race with some new friends in a place I've never been. Sweet!

But I really didn't consider most of the things that a logical person should have considered prior to committing to 8000 miles of round trip travel and their first attempt at one of the most epic of endurance sports events. Money for travel and expenses (I now have learned that when you travel as an age grouper to an international race, you may as well make a vacation of it and include the race as the main activity but one of several activities...), childcare for a week, the loss of close friends and family presence at the event (my family could be at Wisconsin, but not in Switzerland), the inability to hold my kids' hands as I cross the finish line, the ramped up training schedule that would push me to and beyond the limits of my limited triathlon experience body and mind - all of these things I should have considered but didn't. Typical DV... Demons...

The last few weeks I've struggled a little meeting training demands. My long swims have gotten shorter and my long bikes; well, what long bikes? I have been running more than ever, and my run performance has been my sole confidence booster.

So, with my training not going as well as I hoped, and a million other things pulling at my time, and not getting finances to work out like I thought they might, my second demon started to show its ugly head. Why am I doing this? Why don't I just wait, be patient and let IM Wisconsin be my first IM as I had planned all along? More training time, family at the race, cheaper travelling....

I had already arranged childcare for the week of IM Switzerland, so then I started thinking of what I could do with a week off with no kids in mid June. How about a kick ass training week? Sweet, I could go to the mountains visit friends and ride and run until my legs were rubber. How about volunteering at a race? Hey, IM CDA is on the same day as IM Switz, so I could travel to Idaho and get some first hand IM experience before actually competing in IM. Sounds great!

And so the last week I've been struggling with this decision. Do I go to Switzerland under less than ideal conditions, ok in my opinion maybe even piss-poor conditions, suck up the pain from training that will probably be inadequate, and make the best of it? Or do I step back and be logical and take a more patient and calculated approach while letting my demons claim victory?

See the kind of crap I get myself into???

What if I get hurt between now and Wisconsin and can't race?

What if I push too hard to try and catch up with Switzerland training and I get hurt and can't race there?

What if I meet a lifer in the mountains or in CDA?

What if I still travel west and get some mountain training this summer on a different weekend?

What if my kids don't see me in Switzerland? It's me that want them to see me race, not them that want to see me race. And they could still see me in Wisconsin.

What if I am so burnt from being undertrained/injured in Switzerland that I can't recover enough to compete in Wisconsin?

What if? What if? What if?

Well, it's time that I have to make a decision.

Do I shoot down my second demon and go to Switzerland without the family presence that is so important to me and without the most appropriate financial situation and with the probability of inadequate training?

Do I back out of Switzerland and go train in the mountains with friends and volunteer/learn at CDA for the week I would have been overseas?

In the end, it's all about the Demons. If I drop out of Zurich, they win. Again. Like they have so many other times in my 31 years. And my epitaph may as well read "DV - never finishes what he starts."

Not this time.

I will finish what I started. I will toe the line in Zurich. I will finish Ironman Switzerland. And even if it is in French (or German, or whatever the hell language they use in Switzerland), dude will say "DV, You are an Ironman" on June 24, 2007.

I will win this battle.

April 12, 2007


It was pointed out to me recently that keeping empties for the last year may be a sign of eccentricity...
Am I crazy, or am I just ready to store countless small item collections when the occasion might arise?

April 9, 2007

Intro to Trail Running

I learned the joy of trail running today.

I've always been a road runner. Well, let me clarify. I haven't always been a runner; but, in the past, when I ran it was always on pavement or sidewalks. I never did cross country, and I never before today have ventured onto a trail for the specific purpose of running.

I drove to Oak Mountain with my mountain bike with the intention of riding for a couple of hours. But when I arrived, I just couldn't get motivated to ride in the cold (ok, it was really only about 50 F but that's a LOT colder than my preferred 75, and yes, I admit I am a wuss about the cold.) So, I decided to run.

Much to my surprise, the first probably 2 miles of the trail were straight UP! Or at least it seemed that way. I started much faster than I typically run for a warm up, I think maybe because the ground was so soft and impact-free. But after just a mile or so, I realized that I was cruising along with a HR of about 170 - much much higher than I needed to be. The ground was soft and the air was so cool I didn't even realize that I had been running uphill the entire mile.

Adjustment, slow de eff down!

I ended up with about 8 miles for the afternoon. I walked some, in part because I overdid it the first couple of miles and my legs were already burnt from a computrainer session this morning. This was also the first time I ever had run with a pack, which I noticed much more than I though I would. I reasoned that since I was running in the middle of the forest and there was basically NObody nearby, I probably should carry at least a little water and money (as if I would just happen to run past a store at the top of the hill in the middle of the woods - not!) and phone (no one to hitch with here ;) )
Although it was only maybe 3 pounds, that's 2 % of my body weight so I guess that's enough to notice over the course of a few miles.

I didn't see any animals (no cows there, C), but I was amazed at the silence. I even turned the ipod off for a few miles and just listened to my feet strike the earth. It's such an elemental sound, such a simple feeling. I've learned that the most complicated situations almost always are made easier by focusing on the most basic components. Trees, dirt, rocks, and me. And silence...
It doesn't get more basic than that my friends...

Yea, I think I'm going to like running trails...

April 5, 2007


I believe that everything can be explained in a way that makes some sense. Call it spin, or relativity, but my perception will be different than your perception. And we both will be right, even when one of us is wrong.

Take the case of the "eye witness" to a crime. Now you would think that a person who sees a crime would be an excellent witness in the courtroom. But it doesn't always happen that way. It has been well proven that the eye witness doesn't always perceive the events the way they actually happen.

Another example: my residents present their patients to me after the initial evaluation. The resident physician tells me why the patient is in the ED, tells me their pertinent history, their physical examination findings, and then synthesizes a diagnostic and therapeutic management plan. Frequently, the resident reports that the "heart exam is normal" or the "neuro exam is unremarkable." On the surface, this seems a reasonable statement. But if I ask for the result of a specific neuro or cardio exam finding, I might find that they did not perform that part of the evaluation. So, what the resident reported to me was true to them because they did not know for which truth to look.

And the truth you seek frequently is both the result and the creator of your perception.

How does this apply to triathlon training?

I was running this morning on the treadmill. The temperature here in Alabama has dipped back to the 40's and I needed to run this morning, so I hopped on and started hamsterring.

I was planning on running 8 miles with negative splits and a tempo pace. I wasn't too excited to run 8 miles, but I knew it wouldn't be that difficult for me. Perception. You see, not long ago 8 miles was a long run for me. In fact, as recently as 6 months ago I had never run 8 miles in my life. Then, I would have told you that 8 miles was both a long run and a hard run. Then, truth to me was that an 8 mile run was hard and long.

Today, truth to me was that 8 miles was short and easy. Miles 1-2 in 8:31/mi, miles 3-4 in 8:00/mi, miles 5-6 at 7:30/mi, and miles 7-8 at 7:00/mi. And it wasn't hard either. I don't wear my heartrate monitor like I should so I can't tell you exactly how not hard it was, but I was breathing quite comfortably throughout.

My perception has changed.

It's getting to be that time of year when many of us are starting to realize substantial training gains. We have completed 1 or maybe 2 builds, and our aerobic base is (hopefully) solid. Our bodies are being trained to handle the rigors of raceday.

As we start our race season, our perception of our abilities will play a major role in raceday performance. If you perceive that you are supposed to be at the starting line, that you are fit and ready, you will succeed. But if you enter with a negative attitude, a perception that you don't belong or that you are undertrained, you likely will suffer. Even if you are in top shape, you have to be convinced of that.

So the mental approach to raceday is probably just as important as the physical training. I am the first to admit that I have struggled getting in some of my training sessions. My time is divided tediously and spread across a large number of demands, and quite frankly training for this hobby of mine is just not as important as some other things.

But I am seeing positive gains physically, and that is helping create mental gains to the tune of believing that I really do belong in this sport and that I can compete reasonably well. I could easily have a negative perception of my whole training process, and feel like I am ill prepared for racing, since I have not met all of my training goals to date.

But instead, I am happy with the progress I have. There is noone but me depending on my performance. There is no money, no sponsorships, no contracts - nothing is dependent on my outcome.

So progress is progress. Perception drives reality. And the reality, my reality, is that I'm going to kick ass come Ironman time...

April 4, 2007

Lock Down

Last night when we told the family of a 16 year old boy that he had been shot to death, the response was ugly and frightening. A riot, at least the closest thing I've ever seen to a riot, ensued. The hospital went on "lock down" and noone could enter or leave for an hour while dozens of police took control. Here is the initial story from the local newspaper...

April 2, 2007

Lessons Learned

1. It's not a good idea to bike without a spare tube. Especially when you are going for your long ride... Especially when your long ride involves travelling directly away from your house... Especially when thunderstorms are forecast... Especially when you also forget your cell phone...

2. Hitchhiking is an acceptable form of transportation. Especially when you are 25 miles away from home and you have flatted and you have no spare tire... Or cell phone... Especially when the first thunderstorm of the spring has struck 5 minutes after you flatted... Especially when the guys that pick you up live a mile from your house, are returning from a fishing trip, and were planning to stop for ice cream anyway so buy you a double scoop of mint chocolate chip because you also forgot to bring any cash...

3. Even 3 year olds feel really bad when they score a goal for the wrong team during the soccer game. Especially when it was her first goal ever. Especially when her coach, who is a patient fun-stressing guy most of the time, accidentally slips out a rather stern "Anna you just scored for the wrong goal!"

4. Luckily, 3 year olds easily forget mistakes when they taste success. Especially when it comes in the form of not one, but two, goals into the right goal... Especially when it helps her team notch their first win of the season... Especially when the coach gives her a popcycle reward...

5. Crushed strawberry makes a visually realistic fake blood and can create more than a few screams. Especially when poured over a finger bent in such a way to look realistically amputated. Especially when there is a preserved (real) amputated fingertip in a basin beneath the supposed amputated finger. Especially when it is a saturday night April Fool's Day in an already stressed ER and the staff need a little tension-breaker...