S#!^ Happens

This post began as a ‘Life gets in the way’ post, but really…when it’s all said and done

…S#!^ Happens is more appropriate 🙂

…if you don’t ‘get’ our picture today right away, click on it for a bigger version…being a recent first-time grandfather I found it hysterically funny for some reason 🙂

On my way to my 6th Ironman in as many years, at the tender age of 58, in mid-August my wife developed health issues that created an instant need for followup, doctors visits, more tests, doctors visits out-of-town, more opinions, ultimately surgery, and now aftermath.

No joy in Mudville.

As it turns out mid-August is also the beginning of the ramp-up to the Ironman distance for Ironman Florida on November 3 …12-13 weeks out…turning ‘fast’ into ‘far, the workout time commitment rises into the 15-20 hour a week level for 10 weeks, before tapering down for the race itself.

Not this year.

The good news was that I had the ‘fast’ part in place 🙂 … on May 7, I hit an all-time high FTP of 280 Watts on the bike…”strongest test ever…nice” was my final log comment…and very strong rides in June and July as I started to extend the distance out.  My vDOT run speed was the same as last year, and was looking forward to dropping that last 10 pounds into race weight and pick up even more speed on lighter feet.  My swim…well…my first swim of consequence wasn’t until July, so knew that there was work to do there.

…I knew that with a faster bike, and solid run, and swim within 5’ish minutes of last year, that I _should_  be faster than last year, and a new PR (under 12:33), and _could_ flirt with that 12 hour Ironman that I had in the back of my head last year.

Well that was the plan anyway…at the beginning of August…

My kids will tell you that I have a lot of favorite expressions…all dad’s do…the one that comes into play here is:

‘we all have the same 24 hours in a day…how we decide to spend them defines who we are’

My wife’s health issues immediately added a time overhead that wasn’t in the schedule…of course, when I say that…it was a decision that I made.  The immediate impact was that my days became instantly and incredibly cramped…as I added in the time to go with my wife to the conga-line of doctors appointments and tests…while maintaining a work schedule…and the ramp-up in Ironman training time…30 hours a day didn’t fit into 24.

…and then the extra stress…and lack of sleep…and my wife rolling back into perimenopause as the supplementary hormones were cutoff…can you say ‘hot flashes’ and ‘mood swings’ and …

No joy in Mudville…for anyone.

So something has to give when faced with only so many hours in a day, and too many hours of ‘stuff’ to squeeze into them.

So it was the training.

I didn’t come to that immediately.  As my weeks cramped up, I tried to keep all the plates spinning in the air…to see how it would all shake out…to go as deep as I could with the training, although I knew early on that it wasn’t going to happen this year…it just takes a bit to get it into your head…and heart…and then finally pull it back.

As I pressed to get the workouts in, the first thing that I noticed was that I was coming up flat…I just couldn’t hit the numbers…power…speed…muscles were just not responding as they had only weeks before.

…and then just getting them in…the additional time with my wife just meant missed workouts…or shortened and _squeezed_ into impossibly tight time slots

Funny how the body adjusts to things…I wrote a lot last year about stress, and how I found that it had a negative impact on my workouts…like my body treated ‘outside’ stress the same as training stress, and that I needed to adjust accordingly…sure thing…I felt like I was overtrained even though the exercise numbers were rather benign…the ‘total’ stress however was putting me over the top.

…and of course, the Ironman thing is just for fun…when it’s all said and done…it’s just for fun…

…so it got squeezed out of the schedule as I worked to regain my center…

Now…I still did get in a couple of 6+ hour bike rides…nice…long runs at 2:30-3:00…nice…and long swims of 1:30 and 1:40…very nice…so for the mere mortal Ironman, enough to show up and finish, and get a finishers medal and hat and t-shirt…and join that exclusive club of a micro-percentile of athlete’s that have completed an Ironman…totally thrilling…I still remember the first time that I crossed that finish line…unbelievable…tears still in my eyes as I write this.

…but this would have been my 6th…no longer just to finish…but to exceed what I’ve done…but not this year.

I have no doubts that I could easily glide through the Ironman this year…make it a great training day…I’m paid up…my number is waiting for me…just strap on the wetsuit and have a relaxed day, enjoying my fitness and the folks around me…

…but in the face of other priorities over the coming weeks, it’s just not doing it for me this year

In years past I’ve gone down a week ahead of time…enjoyed swimming in the Gulf…some great dinners out during the week with similarly twisted endurance athlete’s…hosting my party on Thursday for my tri-buddy and tri-bunnie 🙂 friends, and anyone that they know, at the same condo that I’ve used the last 5 years, with pool table in the living room and wraparound ocean views…and then race it and party the day after…brings a smile.

It took me a while to reconcile not doing the race this year…twisted emotions about it.  Ultimately it comes down to a few things.  Primary is that as we sit here 14 days out, there’s still some ‘stuff’ that my wife…we…have to deal with…decisions to be made, all of which run over the date 2 weekends from now…right with that is that I’m not in the training position that I wanted to be for this year…’finish’ …sure… somewhere between 13-13:30…probably…under 12:33…not likely…at 12:00…no.

So I’m left with the ‘why?’ question, that I just don’t have a good answer for.

Last year my 5th Ironman was my best at 12:33…by 24 minutes…very nice.  The _huge_ part of that was my daughter deciding to do the race with me in 2011…her 2nd…my 5th.  That fact alone _totally_ invigorated me…we started this blog…I posted 245 articles…almost 1 a day for year…and produced the race of my life…unbelievable still…

…I still remember my first marathon in 1998…a ‘bucket list’ goal accomplished of maybe-someday-I’ll-be-able-to-complete-a-marathon…which I did in 5:12…I still have the certificate on my wall…in my 2011 Ironman, I completed the marathon portion in 4:47 after warming up with a 2.4 mile swim and 112 miles on the bike…very nice 🙂

So I’m left thinking that ‘I need a new drug’ … I may come back to Ironman…maybe not…I’ve had a lot of ‘drugs’ along the way in my life…sort of interesting as I reflect back…good stuff for another post 🙂

…to all my friends and family and coaches that have been by my side, both in races and supporting with such enthusiasm…may there always be wings beneath your feet 🙂

…and a special thanks to Coach Gale who got me to the start line for my first Ironman, and through the finish line in my 5th…my enduring thanks always



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I’m baaaaack :)

April 1…the first day in 4 months that I actually put on a Heart Rate monitor for a run workout…interval speed session at the local track…nice

IronDaughter is working for the London Olympics these days, enjoying England, and is planning to take this year off from Ironman, with what will become a rather intense work schedule leading into and during the Games in August.

I’ve been still ‘working out’ 8-10 hours a week for most weeks…not ‘training’, just keeping up the calorie burn, unstructured biking and running, and haven’t swam a stroke since Ironman Florida last November.

I plan to take the month of April to ramp back up the speedwork, and at that point see where I’m at, and decide on goals for the rest of the year.

Right now I’m planning on just working on speed on the bike and run for the next 4 months…relatively short workouts, most about an hour, one bike a little longer each week…hard to very hard intensity…and then flip the switch into the 12 week Ironman ramp-up…adding the ‘far’ onto ‘fast’…maybe some transitional ramp-up in distance there

…and then that swimming thing…still not sure what I really want to do with that this year…haven’t been missing the pool for the past 4 months…will get back into it a bit in April

I’m guessing that my overall fitness level is not that far off from where I was at this point last year…maybe a bit behind, but not much…it’ll be interesting to see how the next 4 weeks goes, as I switch to almost all intensity all the time in workouts…fun if something doesn’t break 🙂

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Post Ironman: getting fat and rusty

So here we are, coming up to 6 weeks after Ironman Florida, heading into the Christmas season with over 2 weeks of travel beginning this Friday, with commensurate eating, drinking, and partying…fun 🙂

…not sure what I weigh these days…but a few pounds more than my racing weight…maybe quite a few…but not going to angst about it until we get onto the back-end of the holiday debauchery

Still ‘working out’ as opposed to ‘training’…just about every day…largely to burn some calories to keep the weight gain in check…my target is 1,000 calories a day exercise burn, so typically a 1 hour+ run, or 90 minutes on the bike…longer ride on Saturday…no swimming

…still adds up to 8-10 hours a week, 15-20 miles a week running, 70-100 miles biking, so around 7,000’ish+ calorie burn (2 pounds) a week

…adding some intensity into the workouts, but unstructured depending on how I feel on the day…

Post Ironman, I brought the exercise back up rather slowly…following my own advice

A few flat weeks in there, but nothing bad…running and biking back feeling ‘normal’ at this point…and just haven’t felt the motivation to get back in the pool…yet

Have had a busy work schedule for the past month that accelerates in January in advance of a large annual convention that’s a focal point for us, so I’m considering a ‘training’ hiatus into February…last year in January, by trying to crank up the training intensity in the midst of other life stressors, I pulled my hamstring…got sick for a week…improved, then tanked again…so may look to avoid all that this year

I do have Ironman Florida on the calendar again for 2012…my 6th Ironman…although haven’t really found a ‘goal’ for the race yet that’s lighting my fire…so still to be determined…updates to be posted as they occur 🙂


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Ironman Florida Race Report 2011: Part 3: the run

…if you haven’t read the first 2 posts in this series you may want to start there…click on the links below, or just scroll down this Home page:

Part 1: Swim now seemed long ago

Part 2: Solid bike ride completed, right on plan,

so ‘in theory’ I _should_ have running legs…only one way to find out…start running 🙂

Pre-race Run Goal – 4:40 – 4:55 (7:20 – 7:55 pm local time)
– due to temperature in low 70′s, first 6 miles at a very slow 11:00/mile, then 10:30/mile for the balance…if the legs hold up…cooler temperature max planned speed would be 10:00/mile…so need to stay hydrated and easy to have a hope

The run course is flat…good news/bad news…although no big hills to deal with, the relentless flat, wears on the same muscles in the legs, so can be _very_ deceptive…can actually wear you out a lot faster than a course with some terrain variation…2 loops, about 6.5 miles (10K’ish) to the ‘Park’ and back and then repeat…

By the first half mile, I was laughing out loud…my legs felt impossibly fresh…nice balance between quads and hamstrings…both felt a slight bit of wear, but if you had told me that I just got off a 112 mile bike ride, I would have thought you were crazy…no hot spots…nothing sore…nothing cramping…nice 🙂

…now I knew from my long rides followed by those 1 hour brick runs that I tended to go out too fast…and struggled to get my pace under control…so I pulled back my pace to what I ‘thought’ felt like an 11:00/mile pace…in cooler conditions this would have been 10:30…so I was accounting for the 70F+ ‘heat’…I soooo wanted to have a slow, conservative first 6 miles, and still be running the last 8 miles…something I had never been able to accomplish in 4 Ironman races so far

…first mile marker…clicked the lap timer on my watch…9:34 … are you kidding me?!?… rats… waaaay too fast…throttled it back…felt totally pedestrian… 2nd mile marker… 9:55 … what AM I DOING… pull it back more…waaaay back… so slow… that must be there… didn’t see the 3 mile marker…. 4th mile clicked at 20:49 / 10:24/mile…. geez… at least getting into range…but still toooo fast …and so it went…got slowed down even more…but

…there it was…my first 6 miles at an average 10:20/mile pace … dang … too fast… not ‘stoopid’ fast, but faster than my plan… I only hoped that my back end of the race wouldn’t suffer too much as a result… I felt great though… running smooth and easy, walking my 30-40 steps through the aid stations every mile…peeing regularly…getting the gels in…salt tablets…rolling through the mile markers

By mile 8, my quads were starting to feel the run a bit…nothing horrible, but ‘feeling’ them…and I was getting a bit light-headed…geez…this was too early to melt down…but definately a flat spot…so at the next aid station, I stopped, 2 gels with water and a salt tablet…figured I’d ‘hit’ the body and let it figure out what it needed…another gel at the next aid station…I knew from training that I had higher-than-normal stomach tolerance on the bike and especially on the run, so took the chance…

…it worked…by mile 10, I was back into a rhythm, felt good, quads still a bit sore, but not getting worse…head was back…good…so stayed where I was…let my body settle in a bit…took an extra 10 steps through the aid stations…next 7 miles at 10:45/mile average pace…nice…figured I’d ‘give back’ some of that earlier too-fast pace, and hope that the ‘penance’ now would be enough to forgive me, and not hurt those last 8 miles

Came through the 1/2 way turn in nice shape…felt great…quads complaining a bit, but felt in a nice stable place…sun wasn’t down yet, so decided to not change and stay with the sleeveless top, and just make it happen…next 5 miles at a perfect 10:31/mile pace …. very nice 🙂

…I saw quite a few friends along the way… both racers and support… stopped to say hello if they were standing beside the course…Ironman is a _really_ tough race to ‘watch’…you have to be a Superman of Endurance to wait there for hours for your athlete to pass by…you never know when…it’s just too difficult to predict…’thank-you’ to _everyone_ that was out there cheering along…it _does_ make a difference on a very long day

…and stopped for a few seconds if they were going the other way on the out and back course…Iron Anne was a highlight…struggling by then but determined…she had a wry smile…something about being her last Ironman…and pressed onward…geez she’s a tough competitor…wow…I was buoyant for the next few miles…her energy and determination just fed me…

So there I was…beep over the timing mat with 7.8 miles to go…entering the park again with light in the sky…unbelievable…that park had always been pitch black when I got there…volunteers handing out light sticks so that you could at least see a dim shadow of pavement in front of you to avoid the largest potholes and broken pavement…but not today…here I was…dusk coming…I could actually still ‘see’ where I was going…that was so totally great…totally energizing!

And yes…now the race really begins…everything that I’d done, all day long, was to protect the last 8 miles of the run…the entire day down to this last 8 miles…if I faded, I knew it was all too easy to lose 3-4 minutes per mile… x 8 miles, could stack on a fast 25-30 minutes to my total time…I knew that I was in great shape to come in around 12:30 at that point…but the race was definitely not over…fade out, and I’d be closer to 13:00 …and that would have been _really_ irritating.

…but it was just take each mile at a time…stay on pace…hit as many gels and salt tablets as my stomach would allow, and run in on sugar and sodium and caffeine 🙂

… I would now find out how valid my race plan was… I knew that I was out a bit fast on the run…nothing to do about it now of course…keep the legs turning over…keep ‘running’…gels at each aid station now…stopping for a few seconds to get enough fluids…multiple cups most of the time…calling out for what I wanted coming into the station…loud voice…constantly…thank you always 🙂 … didn’t want to blow the nutrition now…

and so I ran…nice and steady…knocking off the last 8 miles going in…10:56 / 11:32 / 11:18 / 11:12 / 12:18 / 11:32

…for over 4 hours now, I’d been looking out for my daughter on the course…well at least after the first hour of the run, as the course returned back onto itself

…never did see her…hoped that she was ok…since we were pretty even on the swim, and with her probably an hour and change behind me on the bike, I _should_ have seen her on the out and back portion of the run between coming out of the Park on the first lap and going back in on the 2nd….just hoping that we had gone by when she was taking a bathroom break…that she was ok, and still working along…fatherly stuff 🙂

…but it was getting dark by now, so difficult to see people going in the opposite direction

…mile marker 24 … just over 2 miles to go… quads feeling the run, but legs still turning over…I was still ‘running’…unbelievable…

‘Dad’ I heard her call out from across the street…there she was…oh no…

…she was sitting in a chair, under the lights at an aid station across the street, wrapped in a space blanket…dang…stopped…ran over

…she looked ok…she told me that she had decided to stop, and was waiting for a ride back to the finish line…aid station volunteers said that yes, a ride was on the way…they would take her to the medical tent to get checked out

…yes she was ok, she said…stomach wasn’t co-operating…feeling queasy on the last part of the bike…took some extra time in T2…thought that she’d give the run a try…2 miles in, it just wasn’t happening…still an upset stomach…so that was it…with 24 miles in front of her still, not something that you want to set out on, in less than perfect condition…sounded like a really good decision to me

…I could feel her disappointment in my bones…how brave she was…she had swam 2.4 miles, rode her bike for 112 miles, and run for 2 miles…over 12 hours…gutsy…to arrive at that aid station where we were…

…loved her so much in that moment…big hugs…love you…proud of you…smart decision…tough day…glad she was ok…soooo happy to see her…emotions running in a thousand directions…tears…

soooo, with 2 miles to go, I said that I’d just run in…would take me about 25 minutes…and see her at the medical tent at the finish line

…I don’t know that I considered just stopping there to wait with her…if the thought crossed my mind, I know that there is no way that I would want her to do that in the reverse situation…and so there it was

…cruising in the last 2 miles, still running along…thinking about my daughter…hoping she was ok…still fueling through the end, and 12:33:54 under the finish line arch…so happy 🙂

My run ended up as 4:47:26, including the stops, and an average of 10:58/mile vs. my ‘perfect run’ for the conditions of a 11:00/mile for the first 6 miles, then a 10:30/mile average for the balance for a 4:41:03 and an average pace of 10:37/mile…so good

…medal hung on my neck…timing chip removed…space blanket on my shoulders, volunteer looking into my eyes and talking…going through the is-he-ok-or-about-to-collapse checklist in her head…pick up the finisher’s t-shirt and hat…skip the line for official finisher photos…out of the chute

…so happy…so cool…what a great race 🙂

Now to find and check on my daughter…

The good news was that her 2 friends that had come down to stay with us were right there…very good…I gave them the briefing…she wasn’t at the medical tent by the time we got there…yes, the staff were trying to find out when…they stayed…I went to find my clothes…it was getting pretty cold by then…circling back, she had arrived and was being looked at…

…long and the short of it, IronDaughter was indeed ultimately ok…took a bit of work to get her hydration and sodium levels back into balance…great week to finish off…her ‘birthday’ on Wednesday, back up to NC together for a couple of days, and she flew back to the west coast on Saturday

So there it was…Ironman #5…done…new PR by 24 minutes…more analysis to come 🙂


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Ironman Florida Race Report 2011: Part 2: the bike

Always sooo happy to be out of the water and on the bike 🙂

If you haven’t read the swim details, you may want to start there:

Rolling out of transition, I was in good shape…the swim went well…the transition smooth…the arm-warmers were a good decision, and just warm enough that not putting on the wind vest felt like a good decision…high 50’s F…great temperature for the bike

The wind was from the North East at 10-15 MPH, so primarily on the nose going out…although a bit of a crosswind for most of the course, so not as big a factor as it could have been…and I had it absolutely solid in my head that I was NOT going to cook my legs by pushing too hard into that wind…I was going to ignore speed, and only look at the Power meter…so it didn’t really matter what the wind was doing…power is power is power…190 Watts is 190 Watts no matter whether there are hills or wind…and my 280 Watts Functional Threshold Power (FTP: maximum sustained power for 1 hour) gave me a race plan maximum of 70% power = 196 Watts do-not-exceed average…and less-is-even-better to set up the run

…for my bike ride was all about protecting that last 8 miles of the run…I still wanted to be running that last 8 miles…so whenever I was feeling like doing something outside the plan…and giving it a little push…I beat away the thought with that last 8 miles of the run…that was it

Pre-race Bike Goal – 5:45 – 6:00 (by 2:25 – 2:50pm local time)
– 185-190 Watts first 90 minutes…190-200 Watts the rest…the course and conditions will determine my speed…headwind for most of the first half, tailwind back, so the biggest challenge will be holding back power, watching a slow speed against the wind to start…need to trust that it will setup a good run…don’t ’cook’ the legs in the first half of the bike

…now to settle down to the business at hand…to stay smooth…contained…and keep the power down at least for the first 90 minutes…always a challenge for me…my Heart Rate was running in the mid-120’s, so that was good…a bit high for the 180-190 Watts of power, but steady…always runs high on race day, which is why I use Power as my key indicator of effort on the bike

Almost at 2 hours now from the race start, without anything to eat or drink, I wanted to get my stomach back working again, make sure that I was hydrated, before ramping up the calories, so starting drinking water for the first 30 minutes…180-190 Watts…nice and smooth…head/cross-wind…didn’t really matter though…just holding back the power to what for me, is an easy, spinning effort…I noticed my cadence was an easy 95RPM+…felt like nothing on the pedals…nice

…and already passing lots of people…a few sips of Perform about 20 minutes in, starting to pee about 30 minutes in…all systems go…spinning along…passing and passing lots of people

So started to work in my nutrition at 30 minutes into the ride…I felt solid…legs were ridiculously strong…all about containment, and staying easy…and now to get in some calories

…since I was nicely hydrated, I went to my ‘hydrated’ meal plan, which is, all with water…gives me 450 calories per hour, and 1,000mg of sodium:

  • PowerBar strawberry gel at the bottom of the hour…1x caffeine / 200mg sodium
  • PowerBar raspberry gel in 15 minutes…no caffeine / 200mg sodium
  • PowerBar tangerine gel in 15 minutes…2x caffeine / 200mg sodium
  • 1/2 chocolate PowerBar and 1 Succeed SCap salt tablet in 15 minutes…441mg sodium

…and repeat…until the end of the bike course…I would occasionally add in 15 sips of Perform for one of the gels from time to time, if I hadn’t been peeing for at least 30 minutes…that usually got things going again

…my get-hydrated schedule moves the intervals to 10 minutes, and gives me Gel with water / drink Perform alternating every 10 minutes, until I start peeing…and then back off to the 15 minute intervals as noted above…equivalent calories and sodium, just more fluids…usually on a hotter day though…cool day today, so I was good with the 15 minute schedule

So I rolled along…passing lots of people…which was actually the most challenging part of the bike ride for me…to pass people, and not be drafting, you have 20 seconds to get past them, once you enter the drafting zone, which is 3 bike lengths…7M or 21 feet long…you must continue with the pass or be penalized

…so the trick is simply that as I come up to someone, if I’m going fast enough to get by them in 20 seconds at my current speed, I can just keep a stable power level, and roll on by…easy…but too often, I’m catching up to someone a bit slower than that…and in order to get by them in 20 seconds I need to speed up a bit…and therefore need to increase my power…as gently as possible so that I’m not ‘surging’, which is bad for the legs…best is _even_ power all the time…so surging is not good

…but then we get to the real issue that I was faced with…passing loooong lines of racers…many were drafting, tightly packed…illegal…some spaced out a bit, but close enough that once I was past one, I was into the drafting zone of the next, so needed to keep up the power to keep going past…and so it went…all race long

After 90 minutes, I ‘allowed’ the power to come up a bit, into the 190-200 Watt range, but a lot was dictated by my ongoing, adjusting strategy on how to pass people, without drafting…

Turns out that I moved up 970 positions on the bike that day…I was in overall position 2218 coming out of the water, and position 1248 finishing the bike…I don’t know that there was anyone that was a slower swimmer than I was that was faster on the bike, so basically went past 970 cyclists…to put it in perspective, that’s an average of passing 1 cyclist every 36 seconds…for almost  6 hours…so to do that, and keep power levels smooth is an _enormous_ challenge

…the downside of that, is that the extra surges, almost constantly, makes keeping smooth, constant power largely impossible…the upside though, is that as I approach and go past almost 1,000 other cyclists, I do get a brief drafting effect as I come up behind and then go around them…do that 1,000 times, and even an average of 5 seconds of benefit each time is almost 90 minutes of ‘legal’ drafting…and I did find that I was often at lower power for the same or higher speed coming around single cyclists, or small groups…although there was no benefit in passing the long drafting packs, since I needed to stay hard left and keep on going until I got past…

I had been looking for IronDaughter along the way, since much of the course is out and back along the same road…never did see her though…constantly wondering how she was doing…hoping that her day was going well…all that fatherly thing 🙂

Coming past the 100 mile mark, I was in great shape…hydration and nutrition felt right on the mark, only 12 miles to go…nice and easy still

…it was then that I started to talk to my bike…sort of weird…my daughter had asked me a few days before if I had named my new bike…I had not I said…never really crossed my mind…she felt that it was bad luck not to have a name…nothing really came to mind, so I began the race on my nameless bike

…for some reason, just past the 100 mile mark, I started to become concerned about getting a flat tire, or a pedal seizing up, or some other type of weird mechanical breakdown to shatter what felt like a great ride…so close to the finish…so I started talking to my bike…I felt sooo strong at that point…I was just flying along…still passing scores of people…I felt like I was riding on a surging black stallion, galloping at full speed….blowing by one racer after another…past one…next one just up ahead…blowing by…picking off the next one

…so I started calling my bike ‘stallion’…perhaps in an attempt to distract ‘him’ from thoughts of breaking something to the task still at hand

…most likely a result of too much caffeine and sugar for almost 6 hours 🙂

Rolling in the last few miles, I was in great shape…peeing regularly, so hydration good…the 450’ish calories an hour went down smoothly for almost 6 hours now, so nutritionally I felt set…sodium levels right on plan…so all systems ‘excellent’

Rolling up to the line, dismount…beep at the timing mat…5:50:35…19.17 MPH total…95 RPM average cadence…unbelievably speedy legs on the day…5:49:00 moving…so the 2 quick stops that I took along the course to take off arm-warmers and reload my gels from my pocket to the bike, took a total of 90 seconds…the only time that I wasn’t moving on the bike…

184 Watts norm average…I knew that I just had a great ride…and felt solid

…quick chat with a few friends…handed off my bike, picked up my running transition bag, and lightly jogged into the transition area again…not as frantic this time as it was after the swim…still busy, but I was quickly through my change…and realized that I had left my Heart Rate watch still attached to my bike…rats…coming out of the transition area, I found a volunteer on the bike side of the fence…asked him to retrieve it…he jogged off to find my bike…struggled a bit to get the watch strap undone, but did…came jogging back and I was on my way…momentarily thought about the need for a ‘sit down’ bathroom break…decided it wasn’t necessary…beeped across the timing mat, and headed out onto the run course

ah yes…that marathon thing…now I’d _really_ find out what kind of shape that I’m in as I head out for 26.2 miles, on a rather warm, sunny day…fun 🙂


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Ironman Florida Race Report 2011: Part 1: the swim

I had a great race 🙂

12:33:54…new PR by 24 minutes, at age 57, in my 5th Ironman…what’s not to like 🙂

I’m going to break out my race report into a number of sections to keep them into palatable reading sizes, summarizing my ‘thinking’ during the swim, bike and run…so therefore minimum on the ‘numbers’ side…and then add some of the analysis posts, including the ‘numbers’ and then looking at each sport and commenting on my training during the year, and subsequent performance…and a summary of ‘what got me there’ … my key elements to a 24 minute PR.

As it turns out there were no weather ‘surprises’…as forecast, including almost calm conditions in the swim…bit of current from right to left, but not a big factor…nice

…there was wind…from the North-east at 10-15 MPH…on the nose for most of the first half of the bike…and pushing going back…with temperatures that began in the high 50’s F as I started out on the bike, and rising into the low 70’s by late afternoon…if you were creating  you could probably build a more perfect day…but this is about as good as it gets for great conditions for an Ironman race.

So my day started at 4am…short blog post before I headed out the door with IronDaughter at 5:15am

Cool morning, short walk, drop off the special needs bags on the way…bathroom break…body marking…into transition, and the loooong bathroom line to get ahead of the curve…glad that I did…there was still a loooong line as we headed to the beach for the swim start by 6:30…always wonders what happens to those hundreds of people…

Bike tires pumped up, wetsuit on in transition…nice and warm now…walk to the swim start…there’s always that nervous first moment, shuffling along in the crowd of rubber-clad penguins, when you first see the ocean conditions…this morning…smooth…not glass…but smooth…gentle undulations…very nice…soooo happy… 🙂

On the beach, IronDaughter and I gave our last hugs/I love you’s, and went to find our respective positions on the beach of over 2,500 shuffling, bumping, rubbery souls

…the pro’s started at 6:50…the sun just starting to rise as the gun went off at 7:00am…let the games begin!

Pre-race goal: Swim – 1:30-1:40 (by 08:30-40 local time)
– this is just a stay relaxed, and keep moving and wait for the finish

My race plan on the swim was to go easy, be easy…swim ‘pretty’…and take the fewest number of strokes to complete 2.4 miles…with a minor adjustment…for pleasure and experience, I decided this year to line up in/with the crowd, and duke it out for the first lap, just to see what happens…not swim hard…just stay smooth in the BIG crowd…I usually line up 100 yards to the right…and wait until just about everyone is gone…and then get going, essentially swimming in clear water…so this year I decided to see how I would do swimming with the big dogs

…it was an interesting experiment…bumping, drafting, running into feet, feeling arms and legs kicking at you…thrashing over you…against you…trying to find a swimming lane…watching those around you…trying to get clear a bit…following the bubbles in front of you…watching the guy beside me with the swim snorkel…always bumping…rubber on rubber…wetsuits are good…keeping a relaxed stroke…feeling confident…fun…watching thrashing arms swimming with way too much effort…going past people…sighting for buoys…figuring for the current…dragging fingertips to keep my arm shape…always crowded…jellyfish going by…staying relaxed, making the turns…cramped with bodies…feeling good…nice and relaxed…coming to the beach…still in a crowd…people walking early….swimming until I felt sand…standing…coming out of the water…44 minutes…dang…cool! …that first lap really went by quickly 🙂

Run up on the beach, quick swig of water, then back into the water for lap 2.

The 2nd lap begins with a diagonal swim back out to the course, and then repeats the first lap…in theory…come to find out that I was one of only a handful of athlete’s in the ‘swarm’ to actually swim out on the diagonal…the vast majority cut well inside of that first turn, and just swam straight up to the far red turn marker…nobody (race officials) seemed to be bothered by that, so away they went…and I found myself for the first time in the race back in familiar waters…essentially in clear water…a few swimmers around, but the pack had ‘vanished’ inside the course.

…it felt good though…relaxed, comfortable, compared to the buffeting of that first lap, so I settled into a comfortable stroke, watched the jellyfish go by, and the sun rise in the sky, and headed up the course to the far turn buoy…ah there they were….the swimming horde…the closer that I got to the swim buoy, the more crowded it became, and at the turn, back into the shoving, rubbery arms and legs, all looking for space…a bit thinner than the first lap though, so going out a bit wide, I found relatively clear water, and finished the second lap with a crowd around me, but not as obnoxiously close as it had been.

…out of the water, and crossing the mat at 1:36:32… nice 🙂

That 2nd lap had taken me longer than the first by 8 minutes…I did see later that even the pro’s and top age groupers were 2-5 minutes ‘slower’ on the second lap, so I think a combination of the 2nd lap including the run on the beach section, and that longer diagonal distance out to the first marker to get back to the course…for those that took it…and for me, probably an easier, less hurried stroke as well…all good…

Wet suit strippers…ended up being a bit fumbly, but did get the wetsuit off finally…overhead showers to get rid of the saltwater…since I was going to be in the same shorts all day, I wanted to be ‘sure’ that I wasn’t caked in salt

…and then saw IronDaughter’s two friends that had come down to see us, so stopped to have a quick chat…I was ahead of IronDaughter they said…’oh oh’ I thought…hope that she was ok…they said that I was a bit ahead of her on the first lap, so probably pretty close behind…ok good…and then a couple of other friends supporting their athletes along the fence so stopped to say hello, and see how everyone was doing

…maybe throughout the day, I spent an extra 5-10 minutes having a chat along the way with other friends on course, or standing along the ‘fence’ in support at the transition points…wouldn’t trade it 🙂

Jogging into the transition area of the convention center, I was surprised to see that it was total bedlam…bodies in various stages of undress…including a few naked guys wandering around…why would you just be walking around naked I thought…or laid, sprawled out on a couple of chairs…but no time for pondering as the hordes behind me surged forward to find some space…packed into what felt like a total zoo, with volunteers standing aside so that they didn’t get run over, and directing arriving athlete’s to keep moving along to the far side of the area to find empty chairs…

…after seeing what was actually sitting in all those chairs, I decided to change standing up…ewww

You see, with my _very_ slow swim in the past, I’ve never been in the transition area when there are more than a few other people, so it’s been like concierge service…cleaning off a chair for me, a couple of volunteers handing me my stuff, taking it out of the bag for me, packing my swimming stuff, handing me my towel, straightening out my bike jersey…a little shine on the helmet before handing it to me…ongoing words of encouragement…very nice

…here it was all that they could do to keep up with clearing the transition bags as athlete’s left to make way for the next, stuffed with wetsuits and swimming ‘stuff’ and sling it up onto a growing pile of bags against one wall, that was over a 1,000 bags tall by the time I got there, and growing every minute

Transition was smooth, bike gear on, decided on just arm-warmers, leaving my vest in the bag, and jogged out the door to retrieve my bike…it was just getting pulled out as I came up to my row, a quick thank-you to the volunteer, light jog to the start line, ‘beep’ over the timing mat, leg over, clip in…and away we go

My eyes always well up a bit when the swim is finished, I’m through transition, and on my bike…so happy…so glad to be past the swim…so much fun now

…this year no exception 🙂

…ah that bike ride…next up…

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Happy 1st Anniversary for irondaughterirondad.com :)

On November 10, 2010, I added our first post to this blog: http://www.irondaughterirondad.com/hello-world/

…and with my 5th Ironman completed, I find myself circling back to those posts last November, as I adjusted my focus away from training, and onto the relentless struggle to get ‘calories in’ under control…without the huge ‘calories out’ exercise burn every week.

For those interested in the numbers side of things on our anniversary date, for the 31 days last month (October 2011) 5,031 ‘distinct hosts’ were served by our blog site, and they looked at 40,511 pages…this means individual, distinct computers (5,031 visitors in ‘lay’ terms) that logged onto the site 1 or more times (so they weren’t counted again if they logged on more than once in the month…sort of typically seeing 4-500 unique visitors per day)…the numbers in ( ) are for the last day/last week of the month depending on the item.

…impossible to know the minutia about our vistors…but we do know that many were regular readers based on multiple visits per month…others came by for information from a ‘search’ for something, or followed a link from another site, or article on another site that referenced information that we had posted, or someone sent them a specific link to a specific article…some there just one time from a Google search for pictures…all of it very interesting 🙂

…a special thank-you to those of you that took the time to add comments over this past year, or email me directly with your thoughts and commentary…always fun to have an exchange with motivated and interesting people

…so at this point we’ll look for a direction for the blog, and our Ironman ambitions…I’m signed up for Ironman Florida 2012…not really sure what I want to do with that yet…and IronDaughter is still mapping out her racing schedule…sounds like some speedier stuff in her future for 2012

My Ironman Florida 2011 Race Report is coming up shortly…and in the meantime…since the scale has beckoned to me in the corner…I know that it’s going to be an ugly number when I stand on it…I’m going back to read my own advice on calorie control and diet from last November (click on the November 2010 link in the right side column for links to the posts)

…so handy to have it already written out for myself this year 🙂


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Happy Birthday IronDaughter!

Today is IronDaughter’s birthday 🙂

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Love you tons,

Proud Pops

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Training and recovery after Ironman

Soooo…what to do now 🙂

The Endurance Nation folks have a good summary that represents much of what I’ve read

I’ll be shifting to a BIG focus on nutrition and calories, since my exercise calorie burn will be gone for a few weeks, and I don’t want to add back that hard fought 17 pounds that I dropped 🙂

…loose end post…my final formal weigh-in was 188 on October 30, one week before Ironman…I’ll add a bit more detail in a few days as I shift my focus back over to the nutrition side.

In terms of ‘training’ I’ll be doing enough of ‘something’ to held keep the weight in check, but totally unstructured between now and January 1…the primary training guidance after Ironman is to not try to come back too fast, no matter what you do…particularly running.

Week 1
The week after Ironman, the gold standard is to do no training at all…some walking, _maybe_ some light, short swimming…_maybe_ a short, noodle bike ride by the weekend…no running at all.

My quads are still stiff, feeling a bit swollen, so don’t have the tight definition that they usually have, but other than that, I’m feeling pretty good…a bit ‘worn’, but still pretty good…not really in the mood to do anything too vigorous though.

Week 2
Swimming is okay this week for the swimming types…although I’m not sure that I’ll feel much motivation to go to the pool myself…bike can be moved back in to the ‘frequency’ but not intensity…so what I’d call ‘noodle’ rides…and no running…still…_maybe_ easy easy and short by that 2nd weekend…_maybe_.

So I’ll probably be back on my mountain bike, store the tri bike, and get the road bike back in action…_maybe_ a short, easy running loop by the weekend just to test the legs…I know that I’ll want to.

Week 3
Swimming for the swimming types, bike can be back towards ‘normal’, and running back towards normal frequency, but not intensity.

Week 4
The earliest point that ‘normal’ training could resume.

…but for me, laying it back until the new year, getting my body back healthy and _maybe_ see if I can get off a few more pounds somewhere, before ramping back any structured training

…oh yeah…I did sign up for Ironman Florida 2012 🙂


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Ironman #5: 12:33:54…new PR by 24 minutes :)

Ironman #5 is in the books…12:33:54 🙂

New PR (Personal Record), improving on my 12:57:44 from 3 years ago.

…my race execution was tight, the numbers turned out in my goal range in each of the ‘disciplines’…nice

I’ll write a more detailed post in the next few days, but happy happy with the results on the day 🙂

Sadly, IronDaughter ended up developing stomach issues…became sodium/hydration depleted in the last part of the bike…took an extended time in T2 to see if she could get things back on track…headed out on the run for a couple of miles to see how things went…ended up walking…body/stomach just not cooperating on the day…so needed to pack it in…and come back and play another day…

…still a pretty solid workout, almost 10 hours of exercise back-to-back, combining a 2.4 mile ocean swim, 112 miles on a windy bike course, and a 2 mile run…not the ending that she was looking for…but it is just a race…and it just for fun

…I’m very proud of my daughter and the beautiful young woman that she is 🙂

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Race day morning!

It’s 4am…first thing that we both did on getting up was go out to the balcony to look at the surf…still too dark to see anything…except the gentle swells onto the beach…they always _sound_ loud 🙂

…I’m still hopeful that the surf conditions will be calm’ish…they should be…there’s already a stiff wind from the North-east…this _should_ flatten the seas

…water and coffee to start the day

…the NE wind means that today’s bike ride will be reported as a windy one…this will mean slower times, but almost more importantly there will also be a tendency to push into that wind in the first half of the ride, since it will be in our face for most of the first 50+ miles.

..push too hard here, and the legs get cooked

…and not only will the ride get more difficult but the run will really suffer

…4:15 bathroom break…it’s great to be _regular_ on race day morning 🙂

…fruit smoothie and coffee

@ 5am will be last bathroom break, shower and out the door @ 5:15…15 minute walk down to the transition area, body marking, bathroom break, wetsuit on @ 6:00, walk down to the water…6:50 pro start…7:00 away we go 🙂

…so the plan is still the same…relax through the swim, _easy_ for the first 90-120 minutes on the bike…just accept the slower pace…up to race power for the balance of the ride…_easy_ for the first 6 miles of the run…pick it up to race pace…and hang on as long as the legs allow

…and with 8 miles to go, just git ‘er done 🙂

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Track Your Athlete(s) …final pre-race notes

For anyone interested in tracking our progress online during the race tomorrow, you can visit IronmanLive at

There’s a search bar on the top right that allows you to enter a race bib number, or a last name.

Other tracking options:

Text and Email Message Updates·
Go to·
Enter info and select athlete to tracko
You may select multiple athletes Facebook Updates·

Must have a Facebook account·
Go to http://apps.facebook.com/ironmanalerts/·
Must accept Facebook to post to your wall·
Select athlete(s)

Bib Numbers:

IronDad (Steve Kwiatkowski)                      #2785              Male 55 – 59
IronDaughter (Lisa Kwiatkowski)               #156                 Female 25 – 29

The search appears to be live, but the data isn’t – so keep checking back.. it should all be running tomorrow morning.

Goal Times (approximate!) Central Time Zone

  • Of course ‘stuff’ happens during a long Ironman day, so these ‘goals’ are the ‘clean’ goals, if all goes well, and any stops/slow-downs are minor
  • an example of a ‘bigger’ issue is when IronDad’s wetsuit zipper split open in the first few 100 yards of the swim last year…turned a 1:40:00 goal swim into 2:03:00…ouch
  • so it’s rational to add on a few minutes to stop and say hello to friends that are standing there on a long day cheering us on…maybe stop at a hydration station to get something extra to drink…maybe a bathroom break…maybe to stretch out a bit…it all costs time…so if it’s all ‘little’ stuff, maybe another 10-20 minutes in there somewhere…a bit less if we’re tight about it


Swim – 90 minutes (by 08:30 local time)
– 2009 time was 1:28, and while I will probably be more comfortable during my swim.. I don’t think I’ll be much faster. Focus is on consistency, and getting into a nice, comfortable rhythm.

T1 – 10 to 15 minutes (8:40 – 8:45 local time)
– I shouldn’t need 15 minutes, but I’ll be doing a full costume change so you never know.

Bike – 7hrs – 7:30 (by 3:40 – 4:15 local time)
– Around 7:15 in 2009; like the swim I will be focused on consistency and finding a nice rhythm. My ‘average’ training pace was around 25km/hr with all factored in.. this course is pretty fast however so I hope to be closer to 27/28km/hr but then I have to factor in ‘stop’ time to re-fill water bottles etc..which I hope to reduce from 2009. In my run I factor in 1 minute walks every 10minutes.. so I think I will factor in 30sec stops every water station to refill water bottles, and to have something consistent to measure myself against. New bike mantra: I will eat! I will drink! I will pee!

T2 – 10 to 15 minutes (by 3:50 – 4:30 local time)
– Again, I shouldn’t need 15 minutes… hopefully closer to 10. Another full costume change.

Run – 5hrs 15minutes to 5hrs 30mins(by 9:05pm to 10:00pm local time)
– This would be a most excellent run time for me. 5:15 would match my ‘perfect’ training pace of 8km/hr… 5:30 would allow for some extra walk time. But seriously, anything less than the epic 2009 time of 7:28 would be welcome!

Total Time: 14hrs 05mins – 15:00hrs


Swim – 1:30-1:40 (by 08:30-40 local time)
– this is just a stay relaxed, and keep moving and wait for the finish

T1 – 10 minutes (by 8:40 – 8:50am local time)
– going to stay in the same shorts for the entire race to speed up transitions…DeSoto tri shorts…I ‘used’ to change in transition but these are awesome for 13’ish hours making butt issues a non-factor…+ Lantiseptic skin protectant thanks to a tip from Iron Chuck 🙂

Bike – 5:45 – 6:00 (by 2:25 – 2:50pm local time)
– in looking at the temperatures in the morning, when I get out on the bike between 8:30-9:00am, it’s still going to be quite cool…usually at 60F I’m fine with just a bike jersey…but it could be low-mid 50’s, so I’ll take the extra minute or 2 to put on arm warmers and my wind vest…means another minute or so to take them off somewhere…better to have them on resenting the minute to take them off, than cold and wishing that I had them
– Water starting out, and then start to work in drinking Perform, if my stomach is feeling settled from the salt water…then 400-450 calories per hour…alternate gel with water and drinking Perform every 10 minutes until starting to pee, then back off the Perform, and 3xgel + 1/2 PowerBar every 15 minutes with water + 1 salt tablet per hour
- 185-190 Watts first 90 minutes…190-200 Watts the rest…the course and conditions will determine my speed…headwind for most of the first half, tailwind back, so the biggest challenge will be holding back power, watching a slow speed against the wind to start…need to trust that it will setup a good run…don’t ‘cook’ the legs in the first half of the bike

T2 – 10 minutes (by 2:35 – 3:00 local time)
– I’d be where I want to be if I’m at at 3:00pm (8:00 race time) or sooner heading out on the run…this is about when the pro’s will start finishing…sigh

Run - 4:40 - 4:55 (7:20 - 7:55 pm local time)
–  starting the run late afternoon, I would have 3 hours until sunset at 6pm…so will go out with a sleeveless shirt…I _may_ switch to a sleeved t-shirt at the 1/2 point special needs area…if I think that I’m going to be in by 7:30’ish, I may just skip the stop…if much later, I may go long-sleeved
– I’ll walk through each aid station every mile…30 steps if only drinking…40 steps if a gel
– due to temperature in low 70’s, first 6 miles at a very slow 11:00/mile, then 10:30/mile for the balance…if the legs hold up…cooler temperature max planned speed would be 10:00/mile…so need to stay hydrated and easy to have a hope of still having running legs in the last 8 miles…it _could_ be cooler, so that would only help me 🙂

Total Time: 12:15 - 12:55 <Personal Record (PR) is under 12:57:00
– my main goal this year is to do everything that I can to still have running speed in the last 8 miles of the run…whenever I think about ‘pressing’ at any other time, I’m going to think about that singular goal

WEATHER as at Friday 5:10pm local time:

– the surf forecast is unchanged: with the wind shifting to the North-east it _should_ flatten the swells that we’ve been seeing today…so _should_ be excellent

click on pictures for larger images
convert F to C:










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Last training workout…done…Ironman next!

It’s fitting that my last training workout would be a sunrise swim with IronDaughter at 7am this morning 🙂

So that’s it…the training completed…all in…done

Next up is Ironman on Saturday morning 🙂

The weather still looks great at this point…a bit of wind on the bike 11-14MPH, but swim conditions look really good, and temperatures as good as it gets…might get up into the low 70’s in the afternoon…and that Florida sun is a lot ‘hotter’ than we’re used to in northern climes, which means a bit of a slower run pace plan, but all good.

I’ll post my final race plan tomorrow, once the hourly forecasts are a bit more dialed in, and add in the tracking links for those interested in following the day from the comfort of home.

So today is a ‘get-ready’ day…make sure that all equipment is packed and ready to go, catch up with a few friends this afternoon / at the Athlete Banquet this evening, and then Friday sign up for 2012 Ironman…maybe 🙂 … final race plan dialed in based on the day before forecast…bike and gear get checked-in, IronDaughter’s friends arrive in the afternoon…early dinner…early to bed

…4am Saturday morning rise and shine, over to transition by 5:30’ish…7am race start

…and then just git ‘er done 🙂

Posted in Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Racing | Tagged | 1 Comment

It’s beginning to look a lot like Ironman!

After a few quiet and relaxed days here in Panama City Beach – it’s now starting to feel a lot more like Ironman!

A few more specks out there in the Gulf polishing off their strokes..

Spandex out on the roads fine tuning their bikes…

And a lot more running shoes pounding the pavement in the hot Florida sun to work out the final kinks.

And we can’t forget my friend Juliette who has finally arrived safe and sound! Thanks to Tribike Transport, my Argon 18 has arrived intact from Seattle after a 2 week road trip across country. Apart from having to spend a day driving down to Seattle to drop off/pick up my bike on either end of the race – the whole TBT system is pretty sweet. No dismantling, no worries about your bike getting lost on an airplane.. and friendly service to boot – so pretty top notch. Plus they tell me there may be a partner shop opening up in Vancouver next year, to service the new course addition to the IM circuit – Ironman Tremblant – fantastique!

After registering, IronDad and I took our equally intact bikes out on course for just under an hour.. and it felt good. Really good. And the BEST part was my new birthday present/triathlon toy – which if used to it’s full potential – will keep me away from the hospital this time around. IronDad picked me up a handy little ‘Never Reach’ hydration system – which already proved it’s competitive advantage after I guzzled 32oz’s of Gatorade without even thinking about it! My new issue will be all the bathroom trips.. but a good issue to have I think. And if my two older brothers are reading this, you’ll have to reconsider your bets since a hospital visit due to dehydration is now unlikely to be in the cards… sorry about that one!

So – it’s all starting to feel real. Getting here a week ahead makes such a difference. No frantic rush to put all the pieces into place.. an opportunity to enjoy some nice dinners with pops… and a chance to work out any last minute kinks.

Now – let’s get this thing going!


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Ironman Florida forecast links

Right now, conditions for race day look great…here are a few links for easy reference over the next few days

…I’ll update them to more detail as it becomes available…still a few days out of course…so _could_ change as we get closer

Surf conditions on the right…high tide is 7:16am, so slack current just before and after…will build a bit though as the swim progresses.. wind can also create current

…a good way to check the actual current direction is to look down at the anchor line of a buoy as you go by it…the line in the direction from the buoy to the bottom anchor, points in the direction that the current is coming from 🙂
– now shows 0/flat conditions on Saturday morning 🙂

– and here the same thing:



48F first thing in the morning…73F high for the day…wind ENE 10MPH…the ‘wunderground’ forecast is a little cooler at 70F
– the forecast for temperature has come down a bit…the wind up a bit…still pretty perfect



Posted in Dad's Blog Posts, Ironman Florida, Racing | Tagged , | 3 Comments