Monday, July 30, 2012

I Fought the Heat and the Heat Won ...

Back in the mid-60's Bobby Fuller had a song titled, I Fought the Law and the Law Won. 

We have all heard it a million times. It has probably been covered by God knows how many other bands. Catchy little tune but the message from this song is that The Law is an immovable force. If you try to beat The Law you will lose. Respect must be given or you will pay the consequences.

Flashback to Saturday morning: I was slouched on the pavement of a Starbucks parking lot, pouring cold water over my head, and flashing in and out of consciousness and this song came to mind.

Except my barely coherent brain had replaced the word, "Law" with "Heat"?

Maybe my brain was a little more coherent then it is getting credit for because the slightly less then clever word swap was rather accurate. Right down to the part that gets to the heart of the original lyrics - Respect ... or lack thereof.

Flashback even a little further on Saturday morning. I am three weeks out from Ironman Mont-Tremblant.   Anyone who has ever trained for an Ironman knows this is the last BIG training weekend and then taper starts. My schedule had on tap a 3hr run in the morning and a 4500M swim to follow. Then on Sunday a 6hr 30m ride with a 1hr brick run. I was ready and looking forward to the weekend.

So Saturday morning rolls around and I meet my buddy Dave at the above mentioned Starbucks parking lot at 4:30am sharp. We have three different loops worked out that will allow us to pass our cars twice to refill our bottles. It was perfectly planned right up until the point that it was not.

The plan was to start early to Beat the Heat. For those new to the blog I live in a Northern Suburb of Houston, Texas. What this means is that the term Beat the Heat is something us Houstonians say but it has no real meaning because no such thing really exists here. It is ALWAYS smoldering hot during the summer (But our winters are glorious).

Anyway, it was already 88* and the humidity was at 96% and the dew point was freaking soaking wet.

We started our first loop in the dark and decided to keep a slow pace, to Outsmart the Heat, another phrase we say that is not possible to accomplish (well, unless a treadmill and A/C is brought into the equation). My sweat rate was incredibly high on the first loop but this was to be expected and I prepared. I normally run with a handheld bottle filled with two scoops of EFS Drink. The EFS Drink has close to 1100mg of Electrolytes which is perfect for replenishing a depleted body on a humid morning. However, I figured since it was SO HOT I would use THREE scoops of EFS drink per bottle, that is like a 3rd more electrolytes - genius, I know. This also meant I had 300 calories per bottle and no solid nutrition would be needed (in hindsight, not so genius).

First loop complete. Grab a second EFS bottle. Start second loop.

On the second loop Dave and I decide it is a good idea to do a couple of reps up and down our infamous 5-story parking garage. By the second rep everything started to feel very labored. The legs felt fine but my head and body felt bad. Real bad.

We then headed over the West Lake Houston Bridge and picked up a little breeze, it felt good and gave me a second wind. But then as soon as we got off the bridge and the breeze was blocked I felt horrible. I had pretty much quit sweating, my head was throbbing, and all of a sudden I had some severe side cramps. I could no longer stomach the EFS drink as the three scoops made it too sweet. Dave gave me what little he had left off his water.

At this point were were about 13mi into the run and about a mile out from the cars and I knew I was in some serious trouble.

We made it back and I grabbed some ice water from the cooler and started pouring it over my head and I knew at this point I was suffering from heat exhaustion and needed to get in a cold shower. My legs decided they no longer wanted to work and I ended up slouched over half in my trunk (with the cooler) and half out. Somehow this ended up slouched on the pavement within a few minutes?

Flash Forward to today: I am recovering from a pretty bad bout of Heat Exhaustion. If you click the link and look at the symptoms I experienced every singe one of them and believe me when I tell you it was not pleasant. The rest of Saturday was spent with a 102* fever alternating between rounds of chills and sweats. Sunday was spent on the couch with a discomfort level close to what it would be like if Mike Tyson had a 12-round boxing match with your internal organs. And today was back at work but probably only operating at around 50%.

The good news is that each day has got substantially better from the last and I am hopeful to be back doing some light training by Wednesday.

The morale of the story is to be careful out there. I've lived in Houston for 8 summers and have trained for triathlon through the last four. Due to all this time training I became comfortable and let my guard down. My ego and lack of preparation had led me to believe that a battle with the heat was mine for the taking. The Heat Won ...

Oh, By-the-way, Bobby Fuller was from SE Texas. Coincidence? I think not.

Thanks for Reading,


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Where the Heck Have You Been?

It has been a little over 5 weeks since this blog has had an update and I am happy to report all is well ... sort of.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed to check in on me. The fact of the matter is that between the demands of my job and Ironman training the blog has been put on the back burner (and I really prefer the Twitter - @jeffirvin). That will change soon as Ironman Mont-Tremblant is a mere three weeks away.

So what has been going on?

Buffalo Springs 70.3

The beautiful Buffalo Springs Lake
My buddy and training partner, Dave, made the 550mi drive up to Lubbock, TX to race the Half Ironman.  The drive up was long, but we had a blast as we decided on the scenic route and passed through a ton of tiny, historic Texas towns. We even managed to stop at three hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints that were all excellent!

The funny part is that we drove about 10hrs Northwest and were still over 2hrs away from another state. If I still lived in Columbia, MD and started driving the same distance it would have put me in Portland, Maine. Texas is huge!

**Note to Self:  Consult Google Maps before signing up for next race **

It was a Sunday race so we were able to get out on the course for a quick s/b/r on Saturday mid-morning. It was around 100* but felt so much better than what 100* is in Houston. The lack of soul-sucking humidity in Lubbock really makes a huge difference.

On to the race - My goal for the race was to go pretty hard on the swim and bike and then back off just a touch on the run as to not crush the legs too bad and be ready to resume IM training on Tuesday. This has worked for me in the past so I figured why change?

The swim was a running/jogging start from a beach and you would maneuver around a counter-clockwise circle and come out of the water a few hundred yards down. The swim started out well and it had a lot less contact from my age group than I am used to in 70.3 starts.

The swim was going excellent until the last turn buoy heading to the exit. I ended up swimming a good distance off to the right and I was not alone! One of the volunteers who was on a kayak had on a fluorescent orange vest which happened to be the same color as the buoy - I was swimming right at him. I eventually realized it was a dude on a kayak and made the adjustment.  After the race Dave says, "What was up with the kayak guy with the orange vest, thought he was the turn buoy?" We laughed it off. Good race for Dave, he ended up with a PR and feels ready for IMMT!

Anyway, I got out of the water in 36mins. Which is about 90 seconds behind my PR but was about right for my current swim fitness.

The ride was pretty uneventful until I got to the turn around at the top of the spiral staircase and noticed it felt like I was pedaling through mud. Looked back and my rear tire was flat. I jumped off the bike right by the aid station and had a new tube on within a few minutes. This was my first in-race flat and I was happy at how quickly I got it changed.

Back down the spiral staircase and continuing on with the ride - until mile 47. Another flat on the rear wheel. I quickly pulled off along the road and it was at this point the realization that I only carry one spare tube on race day hit. Ouch. I pulled the rear wheel off and searched the inside for whatever was causing the flats without any luck. Within a few minutes a motorcycle with officials pulled up and radioed my location to a bike tech. And I waited. And waited. And waited ....

About 30mins later the bike tech pulled up. He quickly examined the wheel and could not find any damage and put on another tube. I thanked him and jumped on the bike and ....pfffffffsssttttt. Flat #3.

My day was done. The options were to walk the bike in 10miles or catch a ride back with the bike mechanic. The ride back seemed the prudent choice, considering another flat was imminent. I later found out after returning home when my LBS looked at the wheel that the rim was damaged and had a small piece of metal protruding. Good news is they were able to fix the rim the bad new is that I took my first ever DNF. 

The hard part was that I had a decent bike split going (avg 21mph) and my legs felt ready for a good run, but I will never know. If you race long enough you are eventually going to have a mechanical.

I was initially disappointed but quickly got over it and filed it away in my mental folder titled - Shit Happens. 

Over the next few days I am going to post a few more updates and talk about IM training, riding in Austin with a blogger legend, sexy new race wheels (Why? see above), and how I learned the hard way that heat exhaustion is a motherF&*^er and I am not invincible.

Stay tuned ...

Thanks for Reading,