Category Archives: triathlon

Vineman

Yesterday was Vineman and it was a great time. I plan to write up a longer story, but here is the short:

12 hour 21 minute total time

2.4 mile swim-1hr 16min
transition 1- 9 min (hanging out is pretty cool)
112 mile bike- 5hr 41 min (I rode a 5hr century!)
transition 2- 4 min
26.2 mile run- 5hr 11min

It was a fun, beautiful course and really well supported. And I don’t know where I pulled that marathon out of! It was hilly and very hot, but still one of the best marathons I have run (not necessarily by time, but how I felt).
Am sore, but not miserable.

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Davis double century, Auburn half iron continued

At exactly 546am we rolled up to the start (ride to the ride!). No one in sight. Not one of the 700 people signed up for the ride that starts ‘between 515 and 545am’. So we pedal off! Within an hour it was warm. Ride fast before it’s too hot or conserve energy? Brian double flats on a pothole in a paceline. A first.

The Davis Double is super well supported with 10 checkpoints in 202 miles, most filled with plenty of fruits and other foods (no clif bars unfortunately). It is inevitable on a 200-mile ride that you will deplete your fluid and energy stores, but we put serious effort into minimizing that (read: we ate and drank a whole lot). There is only about 8,000 feet of elevation gain total, but most of it comes in four climbs. Four climbs in the middle of the day. Four climbs all when the temperature is over 100 degrees. We take our time.

The secret watermelon and vegan burrito stop on the LA to SF drive


When we finish it is still daylight, but unlike Los Angeles the temperature doesn’t drop significantly. We eat the free post-ride food, try to find a tool for Brian’s bottom bracket and start mentally preparing for Sunday. Back at Janie’s house we eat again, load the car and then set off for the 45 minute drive to a relative’s place near Auburn.

One of the many (okay, five or so) fixed gears at the double

It’s after 11pm when we say goodnight and agree to set our alarms for 445am. The heat changes the fatigue you feel. It’s more of a whole body emptiness that you just don’t experience from regular fatigue. And you just can’t drink enough to replace what you lose. It’s a losing battle. I lay down on top of the bed and am asleep before I even think about getting under the covers.

When I awake in the dark I don’t feel miserable. Similar to being hungover (it’s been awhile so I can’t say for sure) in that you are slightly confused and feel like you over it did the night before. Brian looks somewhat normal.

We arrive at ‘T2′, which is also the finish. We set up our running stuff, load our swim stuff into backpacks, set up our bikes and ride to ‘T1′. Six miles, mostly downhill. Ouch. Legs are unhappy. I’m still a little dazed, but the sun is up, people are about and excited. We check-in, set up our bikes in ‘T1′ and start to dress for the swim. Note to Jan Ulrich-types who like to gain weight in the off-season: If your wetsuit is tight at ‘race weight’, you are going to be unhappy at ten pounds over. Note to slackers: It’s embarrassing to be running down the boat launch as the race is starting.

I have no shame in admitting that I was thinking about quitting before I reached the first buoy. I was struggling to breathe, my body was aching and I was cramping. Why is this so bad? Just kept swimming. Was focusing on my fish-like swimming and was getting nauseous. Can fish vomit in their mouth?

Back at my bike taking off my wetsuit was so glorious I decided to sit down and revel in the wetsuit-free glory. Then I tried to ride my bike up some hills and my legs hated me possibly more than my stomach. It wasn’t that miserable feeling you get on super long or hot rides where you just want it to end. It was different. More of a disconnected feeling where your shortcomings seem somehow to be normal. The odd thing was that I didn’t care that much. Did I accept it on some level or was I too phased to care? I ate a banana. Drank some electrolyte stuff. And some water. And got passed and passed and passed. Aren’t I suppose to be the one doing the passing on this race? No top fifteen percent bike split this year! Hills are hard when you are tired.

I told myself I wasn’t even going to start the run. Why bother? But when I saw my shoes I thought, ‘I already paid and my shoes are already here…’ and went out. Wow. Stomach is super unhappy. What’s that weird feeling? Oh yeah, having to pee. Sort of. I think the thick liquid that came out was urine (only a slight exaggeration). At the first aid station I sit in the shade and stare off into space. My stomach is killing me. I add up my calorie consumption for the day: about 800 in five hours of activity. Uh oh. A very fit looking female volunteer probably 1.5x my age, or more, who could easily beat me in any race, says, ‘Looks like you didn’t do enough hot weather training’. I told her I did plenty the day before. ‘Look. See the salt stains on my spandex?’ The sun felt like it was melting my skin. Other people looked normal. Are they not human?

The run is two loops from the T2/Finish area. When I finished loop one Brian was there to cheer me on. He had finished already. I stepped off the course, laid down in the shade and didn’t get back up. No desire to run. The ground was spinning when I closed my eyes. Am I still edge? Brian brought me some cytomax and water and I put it down. And then some more. And then some more. It’s three days later and eating/drinking is only starting to be normal. Wow.

We didn’t drive back that night. Even after ten hours of sleep we were both blasted. Unbelievable what the heat can do to you. What an adventure. Looking forward to Vineman in August. Nothing crazy beforehand.

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Davis double, Auburn half-iron

The short:
Sat: Davis double century, 202 miles, in 14 hours and 20 min. Over 100 degrees most of day.
Sun: Auburn half-iron triathlon (swim 1.2 miles, bike 56, run 13.1), DNF after 6 miles of run d/t near heat exhaustion, nausea, dehydration.

The long:
I now fully understand what it is like to be dehydrated. Am also now familiar with heat exhaustion, nausea and intense cramping. This is good. Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go? My approach to whatever you call the things I do (adventure? fun? extreme? athletic?) has been simple. If it’s there and has a draw, do it. A little naivety is healthy. Curiosity is a sign of intelligence. You won’t know until you try. Et Cetera.
I did the Auburn ‘World’s Toughest Half Iron’ in 2006 (second triathlon ever) and in 2007 (third triathlon) . Both years I had a blast and actually placed in my age-group. This year the Davis Double Century happened to be the day before. Why not? Bike touring is all about waking up after a hard day of riding and then riding again. And on PBP I rode 325 miles in one day, slept 7 hours, then rode another 200 plus without much problem. And it’s not like I’d drive all the way up there just to do the double, so why not save gas and do both at once. I talked to Brian ‘Emperor Moth’ Davidson and he didn’t flinch (note to potential bad-asses: If you want to look badass for some crazy thing you are doing don’t invite the strongest athlete you know to come along).

What we did not calculate was the heat. Over 100 degrees both days. 109 at one point on the double on Saturday. That’s hot. About how hot it was on the drive up (and back) in the car with no AC. That probably did not help our preparation (but runs up quite a few punk points). But we did all we could and Davis is a great bicycle city to do it in. We park the car at our friend’s house. Ride half mile to bike shop. Closed. Ride around corner to other bike shop. Score. Ride half mile to ride check-in. Ride half mile to a Co-op. For real. Got to love that shit. We ate a nice meal (you can make fun of raw-foodists all you want till they make you the most kick-ass salad you’ve ever had). Asleep by 10-ish for the 5am wake-up call (from Nextel).

(to be continued manana)

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Skateboarding is cooler than triathlons

I think that is obvious.

But I am going to go further and say that it is also much, much more difficult to master the skills needed and there is far more pain involved. And watching it can get you way more stoked (on anything) than watching, well, anything else. Jamie Thomas’ part in Welcome to Hell (Toy Machine) has always been one of my favorite parts in a video, ever. Is this almost ten years ago? Also note that him doing the railslide barefooted was part of an ad campaign about making skate shoes that weren’t leather. Get stoked.

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New photos up

After an hour swim workout last night I rushed home to avoid the rain and had some free time. Finally got some photos from the summer organized. I am not sure what the netiquette is for this, but I back-dated the posts so the photos appear near the original stories.

Click on this photo for Norseman and Eidfjord photos
Here for PBP photos

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Norseman and Eidfjord photos

The view from the shed we slept in our first night in Eidfjord

Max is AdventureSnore.
The odd places you have slept
in say a lot about the life you lead

Max in Eidfjord

tunnel on 125-mile bike course

Can you believe this part of a triathlon course?

Night before with support crew: Max (California),
Norunn (Norway), myself, Aidan (England)

Pre-swim at 330am. The ship takes racers out
into the fjord. You jump off to start the race.

Stoked to be on the bike.


More photos and stories in the August archive.

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Norseman Photos

Just found the official photos from Norseman! I can never manage to find the photos of me in races, but with only 200 people it was a little easier. Also, here are Max’s photos.

The ship we took out to the fjord to start the swim.

I guess they didn’t get my cannonball.

This is after you exited the water and they checked you for hypothermia.

I am not that stoked on getting back in, obviously.

I could barely walk to my bike.

Max handing off a jacket at the top of the first climb.
If you look close you can see the glaciers in the background.

Thanking Max for giving me the warmer jacket.

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Thoughts on Norway and Norseman

After two weeks in Norway, I have to say it was a fantastic country to visit.  The people are rather reserved, Max and I initially called it indiferent, but after some interaction are very friendly.  The country is beautiful, both rural and urban.  After being in Dublin and London, I have more respect for what Oslo has to offer.  Good times.

As far as the race, I am not ashamed to admit that I was in over my head.  Good lesson to learn now and not on the summit of some 20,000 foot peak.  Great experience and a great way to progress, mentally and physically. Am considering next year, but not sure if it can happen.  The biggest concern being financial.  Would be nice to get another full-iron race in before then, but not sure the feasibiity of that.  Am currently on the south coast of England, after some time in Ireland and London.  Will try to post some stories and/or photos. 

  

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Some Norseman pictures

Aidan`s photos. And since I am an RD and all, I have to add that I did not drink cola the whole way. I ate a lot of bananas and potatoes, but it seems Aidan did not document that. Ha.
It may be weeks before I get the photos off of my camera and online. Hopefully it happens faster than the Great Divide photos, which is approaching a year…

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Norseman conversation

To summarize my experience at Norseman, here is the conversation I was having with the sensible part of my brain:

215am Saturday morning, in gymnasium with 50 other people
Matt: Wow, people are up already?
Sensible Matt (SM): Of course they are. Most people went to sleep hours earlier than you and don`t want to be late getting on the ship.

400am on ship as the sun the is coming up on the fjord.
Matt: Wow, it`s cold!
SM: Duh.

455am standing on edge of ship, waiting to leap 12 feet off the edge into the water
Matt: The longer I wait, the less time I`ll be in the frigid water!
SM: Jump in you wimp so that you are actually ready when the race starts!

About half way through the swim you had to climb out over these big rocks, walk past a fire, show the organizers that you are not hypothermic, then climb back in and swim along the coast to the transition area to finish the 2.4 miles.

Approximately 724am after an hour and 18 minutes of swimming
Matt: How do you walk?
SM: Act normal so that they don`t pull you out of the race for being disoriented!

On the first climb, 3500 ft of switchbacks.
Matt: Why am I not passing tons of people?
SM: Maybe because the people in this race are actually well prepared and are not the standard triathletes who have less climbing skills than you. If you did more than 3 triathlons in preparation, maybe you would not be as surprised.
Matt: But, I did the World`s Toughest half-iron and passed dozens of people on the bike and even placed.
SM: But that race is only marginally harder than other half irons. This is way harder and twice the distance in difficult weather. Toughen up!

On the exposed ridge line at mile 105, after the 5th climb, in the cold fog and rain.
Matt: Wow, this is hard.
SM: What did you expect? You are in the mountains of Norway, on the course of the world`s hardest triathlon. Did you expect sunny So Cal weather and tail winds?
Matt: Well, no, but, you know, just saying. I don`t know. I guess, maybe.

Transition 2, after 125 miles of cycling with 10,000 ft of elevation gain:
Matt: Wow it`s not cold! I can feel my feet. Can`t wait to run.
SM: Remember how Nick told you how important bricks were and you did one?
Matt: Yeah, of course, so I did one.
SM: Just wait and see.

After 3 or 4 miles of the marathon
Matt: My feel and ankles are killing me! wtf?
SM: See above conversation, dumbass.

From mile 5 to 15 I was feeling pretty good and able to keep a decent pace. Not as fast as I`d hoped to be going, but not just shuffling. When I reached the bottom of `Zombie hill`, a 3000 ft winding climb up to the checkpoint 4 miles up, my crew informed me that I was at risk of not making the cut-off to enter the mountain.

Matt: I can run up this!
SM: If you do, you risk being in poor mental health at the checkpoint and not being able to continue.
Matt: Let`s listen to Norwegian black metal on Max`s ipod. I`ll kill all the zombies on this hill!

At the mountain checkpoint, about 20 miles into the marathon.
Organizer: You missed the mountain cut-off by 10 minutes.
Matt: Shit!
SM: Shit!
Organizer: Don`t worry though, you would not be able to go to the top anyway. We have not let anyone all the way up for the last couple of hours.

Why did I not push harder if I was close to missing the cut-off? Well, my bike computer stopped working in the rain and I don`t wear a watch. I just had no idea I was close until it was too difficult to make up the time.

Matt: Let`s walk the last 10k.
SM: Hanging out is pretty cool.

So Max, Aidan and myself walked together for the last 10k and finished at the hotel 1000 meters above sea level. I was slightly disoriented and very sore, but not miserable. We had some great conversations about life and about adventure and about what it all means.
My goal time was 15 hours. Factor in the extra miles added to the bike, the headwinds and rain, and my decision to walk the last 10k, and that adds the 3 hours to make my finish time of 18 hours totally fine with me.
Next year?

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