Sunday, September 27, 2015

Yard Work Day

Today, after our fun day hiking and caving yesterday, we had to head out to the yard and get some chores done that we have been neglecting for a while now.  Jen and the boys pick up apples while I worked to get the yard mowed.  The last couple times I've mowed I used my neighbors riding but this time I figured I should use my own mower.  Ended up taking about 3 hours to get done but it's done now and looks nice.  Also if nothing else it did get me a whole bunch of steps in too ;)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Day At Maquoketa Caves

After being gone for the week we decided to pile in the car and go have a family adventure together.  We let the boys choose and the unanimous decision was to head up to Maquoketa Caves for the day.  When we got there we were shocked at how busy it was but we managed to find some places in the park that were't as busy as the others.
 We've been to Maquoketa a bunch of other time but have never actually been in the caves before but as you can from the picture above finally ventured into the caves.  The first cave we went into was a very narrow cave that required you belly crawl for a bit before you came to a big room.

The picture above is from the "bigger" room at the end of the belly crawl cave.  It turns out that the boys are not claustrophobic or there is not way we would have been able to get to that room.  
After we crawled through a bunch of different caves we broke for a quick picnic.  On the way over we stopped at Fairway to pick up some stuff for lunch.  I'll you what after belly crawling through a bunch caves it was nice to just be able to sit and relax for a bit.  
After lunch we went through a couple more caves but primarily just ended up going on a couple mile hike.  We ended up having a good time today and it was nice to just be able to do something as a family for the first time in a long time.  Even better I don't have to get on plane tomorrow afternoon this is the first full weekend I've had in a month.  Need to spend it doing yard work and things around the house but anything beats spending the day in an airport!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Headed Home

After what is the longest travel stint I've ever had I'm headed home and looking forward to the 3 weeks I get before I'm on the road again. All the days in orange above at the days that I've spent away from home, and as you can see, for the last 3 months it's been nuts. I've spent more than half of the time in hotels. Right now locking ahead my travel should be slowing down and between now and the end of the year I only have 10 days of travel scheduled. I'm really looking forward to being home for a while and getting to hang with the family.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dinner On The Shore

After my meetings got done this afternoon I decided to go looking for a restaurant on the shore have some dinner.  I found one place but when I got there I was told it was closed on Mondays but after asking around I got a recommendation for another place a couple miles away.  It's not fancy 5 star dinner or anything but they have an outdoor deck and I'm able to enjoy seafood and watch rowing practice, which is kind of cool.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

On My Way To Connecticut

Here I am once again in a plane headed across the country for a week of meetings.  Like I've said in my earlier posts I'm really ready for a bit of down time and being able to hang with the family but right now that doesn't seem to be in the cards.  This is the first year I've traveled this much so I've actually gotten some status on the airlines, in fact, this was a land mark trip in that it marked the first time I got a first class upgrade from the back of the plane.  First class on domestic flights isn't quite as good as it is on over seas trips but it is still nice to have a couple hours where a person waits on you.  Being I'm only Gold status on Delta not sure I'll be getting upgrades all the time but at least I got one this time.  Need one more trip to France if I'm going to get another status upgrade for the year.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Boy Weekend

This weekend Jen had a craftshow in Geneva Iowa which meant the boys and I are on our own for a couple days.  In an effort to not to have to have to actually cook the we have been eating primarily at the Onion Grove which has been awesome.  Friday it was Pizza, tonight it was chicken strips and sandwiches.  For most of the day it has been power streaming Netflix and playing video games.  Perfect way to recharge after some extremely busy weeks and more upcoming.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Headed to Connecticut

I was hoping that after being on the road so much for the past couple months I would be able out of going to CT next week for my consortium meetings.  It was looking good right up until this morning but at the last minute it was decided that I needed to attend the meetings which means late Sunday I'm back on a plane to head for another week.  If nothing else I'm starting to get so much status on Delta that I get first class upgrades for most of my flights.  If I have to be away at least I get to ride in style to get there.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Race Report

Last Sunday was my 9th Ironman start and my 8th successful finish and I have to say it was probably one of the harder Ironman races I've done in a while.  I really felt the fact that I haven't been able to train as much as I would have liked because I was on travel.  To be honest it felt a whole lot like I really just fell back on my vast Ironman experience and just gutted it out.

For the swim I got out to the water about 10 minutes early and start with my friend Brett in the back kind of the south side of the boat ramp.  I've decided after doing this race 6 times that there just isn't a great place to start the swim.  You get beat up no matter where you start so it is just best to seed your self a little back but at least near the buoy line.  Like always the first half mile to the first turn was a fight, it's just so packed and the faster and slower swimmers haven't created the separation yet.  I got swam on, kicked and hit but nothing more than the usual Wisconsin swim.  It kind of sucks because space is hard to find and you just can't get settle into the swim rhythm you want, but you kind of just deal with it.  About halfway I looked at my watch and realized I was a little off the pace I wanted to swim.  I tried to break into my good swim technique but I was struggling to maintain good form.  I wasn't tired but just couldn't keep my good long and slow strokes I swim in the pool.  I'm pretty convinced that I really need a sleeveless wet suit for Wisconsin.  When I got out of the water I actually felt pretty good but it just wasn't as fast as I would have like it too be.

Transition ended up taking longer than I expected because I put my calf compression sleeves on.  With wet legs it is really difficult to get those on so I found those longer that I should.  I out swam my friend Brett but he beat me out of transition by about 5 minutes.  Plus I spent some time fiddling with my phone to get it working which ultimately didn't make sense because I couldn't send my precanned messages from it.  Next time I'm not sure if I will mess with my phone or not, at least wait until my first stop to mess with it.

The bike this time didn't go very well at all. I could tell at the beginning that my legs just didn't feel right.  They felt a little "crampy" on the way out the loops but I was hoping that it would go away and was lingering effects from the swim but it turned out to not be the case.  On my first big climb into Mt. Horeb I could feel the tell tale sign that my legs were already tired and in cramp mode.  They didn't cramp but after you do these races enough you know enough about your body to know what's going on with it.  From that point on I had to "protect my legs" which meant slowing down and not doing anything stupid as I rode, I knew that was going to lead to a slow bike time.

The first loop went without any real incident I got through it slower than I wanted but there wasn't much I could do about that.  The second loop start to be a struggle, like it always to be.  By this point legs that felt like they were going to cramp up started to cramp on the longer climbs.  I was able to work through it but I really had to slow down on the climbs to avoid all out revolt from my quads which would lead to walking the hills.

As I was headed into Mt. Horeb the second time I heard a motorcycle come up behind me which can mean one of two things, either sag wagon/bike support or draft marshall's.  In all my races over the years generally once you pass mile 60 and it's clear you are no longer a "racer" but a finisher the draft marshall's stop handing out penalties.  Well turns out that was not the case this race.  As I was listening to the motorcycle come up behind me I heard them slow down and give a penalty to the person behind me.  At that point I decided to back off a bit from the person in front of me, but it was too late.  The guy pulled up beside me and gave me a 5 minute penalty to be served at the next penalty tent about 10 miles away.

I will be the first to admit I am a major offender when it comes to drafting.  In nearly every race when I get to the parts of the course that have a headwind I grab onto the first biker that passes me get one inch off there rear tire an draft until the wind is at our back.  This time I was not doing that at all, I was trying to keep my distance but had drifted into the 3 bike length back draft zone and was penalized.   I rode the remainder of the 10 miles to the penalty tent stopped to get my watch which was kind of nice because I needed the break but I expressed my concern about the fact that giving all of "finisher" penalties seemed kind of dumb.  The Ironman official agreed and said that last year he only had 20 penalties all day but this year had 120 when I chatted with him.  He assured me the problem had been dealt with and I would be safe on the way in.

After the penalty tent it was time to head into the big hills for the second time and his time they were really hard.  My legs were cramping bad, my right ankle had developed some pretty bad pain which had me concerned I would actually be able to run but once again nothing I could do about it.  I did manged to slowly make my way up each of the hills without cramping so bad I had to get off the bike.  I'll just say that I was happy when I finally made the turn back towards Madison and was done with the dreaded loops for the day.

When I got to transition I could feel a weird sharp pain from time to time in the top of my right angle on the right side but it didn't hurt all the time.  What I couldn't tell from the bike was whether or not it was so bad that I wouldn't be able to run.  Like I said earlier there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it at the time so I put my running stuff on and headed out the door.  I say the family and got to talk to them for the first time that day told them the day wasn't going that great and I was really worried about my ability to run because of my ankle.  So as you can tell I was a bundle of joy at this point.  I kissed them and headed on my way to see what the run had in store for me.

For the first 10 miles the run went great.  My quad cramps pretty much went away, my feet felt good and my ankle was fine.  I ran like a champ for the first 10 miles, averaging right around 9:30-10:00 minute miles which was awesome.  Right around mile 10 things kind of turned around and it went downhill.  Like every year my feet really started to hurt.  I had developed a bruise on the balls of both my feet but the right foot was way worse.  By this point I had made up enough time that I could slowly walk the rest of the course easily make the midnight cut off but I as disappointed because after a slow swim and bike I thought this may be my opportunity to make up some time.  I've been here numerous times before and knew that the next 3.5 hours were going to hurt.

I started the second lap, got my special needs bag, found Jen and boys and sat on a bench on the side of the road for a few minutes to eat my beef jerky and chat.  I told them that I was going to finish but it was take another 3 hours or so and it was going to be a sufferfest.  I kissed them and headed on my way.  For the next 3 hours I did my best to keep a reasonable pace 15-16 minute miles but it was hard.  At that point my legs were sore and tired but my feet felt like I was walking on glass.  Sharp pain from the blisters and deep pain from the bruises that just got worse with every step and every mile.  I took ibuprofen but it really didn't do much to help the pain, at that point it just hurt.  I told myself that this next year I need to do something to toughen my feet up so I can actually run past mile 13 for once.

About 10:45 PM I finished my 8th Ironman and was happy to be done.  This year it was clear that I didn't train enough and being in France right up to the day I checked into the race was a bad idea.  I really shouldn't be upset because I knew this year was going to be a struggle.  I'm signed up again for next year and have set two goals for myself.  1) Toe the finish line 175 lbs or lower and 2)  Do something to toughen my feet up over the course of the next year.  If I can do those two things I'm confident that I could finish in 13:30 next year.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ironman Morning

Here I am, race morning getting ready to start my 9th Ironman.  Like always I'm nervous but ready to get the race started.  Today is looking to be a cool day, in fact, this morning it could be down right cold when I get out of the water and get on the bike.  Nothing I can do about it except focus on the things I can control which is keeping myself moving down the course towards the finish line.  I'll have my phone with me so you can send me texts to encourage me along if you want.  Otherwise, given where my training feels like its at, I'm guessing I'll be done right around 10 pm tonight.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Gear In Transition

My gear is in transition and now the big waiting game starts.  Never been a big fan of the Saturday before Ironman because it is really just a day you are waiting to end so you can get to the race.  Feeling good for the race tomorrow but like always I have some self doubts.  No matter how many times you compete in these things, its hard to avoid thinking about the things you can't control,  Weather, mechanicals, etc.  Even if those things occur I'm focusing on "Finding a way".

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Checked Into Ironman

I made home from my trip to Southern France and have made my way to Madison to get checked into Ironman Wisconsin.  I'm still suffering from a bit of jetlag because I'm waking up every night around 2am and am ready to get up.  Hopefully I can get over it before Saturday night and get a good nights sleep before my race Sunday morning.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

On The Way Home

I made it to Amsterdam, Netherlands and am waiting for my 9 hour flight over the ocean to get back home.  Seems like it's been forever since I've been home so I'm really looking forward to getting there to at least get a couple nights sleep in my own bed until I head to Madison for my Ironman this weekend.  

Monday, September 07, 2015

Another Crazy Week Begin

Here I am at the start of yet another stupidly busy week.  We weren't able to get out stuff done last week so I'm here Monday and Tuesday of this week to finish my stuff here in France.  Wednesday morning I take off from Toulouse at 6am Paris time and land in Cedar Rapids at 4:00pm central time.  I get home and then the next day, Thursday, get in my car and drive up to Madison to check into Ironman Wisconsin.  I drive home pack my stuff and go up to Madison Friday afternoon for the official start of my Ironman weekend.  Which is always a busy weekend.  I just need to focus day to day on accomplishing the days goals and not get overwhelmed by all the stuff I have to do this week.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Fun Day In Carcassonne

Today I rented a car and drove down to Carcassonne with some other people I knew from Rockwell.  Carcassonne is a walled city from the middle ages and made famous by the board game.  Being a huge fan of role playing video games it felt like being in the game of Skyrim walking around the city.  One of my biggest goals was to buy the board game Carcassonne in the actual city of Carcassonne which I succeeded at.  Granted the game will be completely in French but I'm sure the kids and I will figure it out.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Stuck In France until next Wednesday

Today we had to come to terms with the fact we weren't going to get done with the work we came here to do this week and have to stay into next week.  Since I have Ironman coming up next weekend I told my boss I had to have my feet on US soil no later than Wednesday, so I could stay through Tuesday but would have to be on a plane Wednesday morning here in France.  I'm confident that we should be able to accomplish the remained of the work with those two days next week, since they don't week weekends here.  Now this weekend I need to find some things to do to kill the time.  

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Pictures From Toulouse City Center

This evening the team met downtown Toulouse for a dinner so I took the opportunity to take a couple pictures of the sights.  Like always here in France, the dinner was about 3 hours by the time we started to the time we got done.  I was good but slow like dinner tends to be here in France.  It was good to get out with the team and hangout after being stuck in a windowless conference room for 12 hours a day working.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Jet Lag Is Killing Me

After having a great night of sleep the first day I got here, probably due to being up for 36 hours straight, I had a horrible night of sleep last night.  I got in bed around 11pm last night watched a little Netflix and assumed sleep would soon find me.  Finally about 1am I decided that I really needed to go to sleep so I shut Netflix off and tried to fall asleep.  I tossed and turned until around 4am before I finally fell asleep.  Needless to say 7am wake up came really early.  Today I plan to go easy on the Espresso and get in bed earlier.  So I guess to be fair I'm thinking not sleeping is a combination of jet lag and 5 espresso's yesterday.