I am honored to have been asked to contribute my first blog on K17SPORT.com. I hope you enjoy!
From the get-go of this trip, I felt like a jet-setter. We decided about three days prior to departure day that I would be joining the trip. Just me and my hubby jet setting to Vegas, what could be better?! Since we had separate reservations, sitting together was questionable but we ended up able to get seats next to each other on the plane - yeah! We ended up landing in Las Vegas at about 11:00pm Vegas time and about 2am our time. I was stuck in two different days, theoretically, and it felt extremely weird. Once we arrived at our rental house and got settled, it felt like 4:30am to us. I was wired, to say the least, but knew I needed to get to bed. My jet-setting excitement was now exhaustion, how does Lady Gaga do it!?
Our first stop Friday was the expo at Henderson Pavilion. Kenrick went to pick up his packet (athletes only - I guess they're afraid I'm going to steal a packet and hop into the race under someone else's name). I checked out the free offerings at the booths (waited until my extremely fit sidekick was with me so it didn't look like a non triathlete was trying to steal samples of GU Chomps or Powerbars). I think the expo would be even more fun if they had a band playing or maybe a restaurant/beer tent set up, just to get the buzz going (no pun intended - it was so stinkin' hot I really could've used a cold one). There were many familiar companies and freebies galore for the kids so that was a plus. It was nice to have been there the year before so we knew the lay of the land and I had no pre-race day nervousness on where to park, or if I would be able to see him, etc.
We headed over to Lake Mead so Kenrick could get a bike and swim in. There were quite a number of people there getting a swim in. Many of them were doing training swims in their wetsuit and very much regretted it because the water at Lake Mead was sooo warm. A homeless guy tried to strike up a conversation with me so I ended up pacing back and forth at the water's edge doing the avoid and dodge while waiting for Kenrick to return! He got a quick swim in, I got about 50 pages read in my travel book (The Help - highly recommend this book to all the ladies!). Friday night we checked out Red Rock Canyon (me as navigator was not a good call so we didn't make it out to Valley of Fire as we had originally thought due to wasted time trying to find Lake Mead).
Saturday we headed out to Lake Mead again so Kenrick could get another swim in and also run. I decided to run with him (well, I guess my pace was a tad slow for this Ironman because he started walking next to me and said "how's that pace going?!"). So he went on ahead and then came back to rescue me for the last ten minutes of our 30 minute jog/run. The heat, even at 9:30am, was insane! I can't even imagine what the athletes felt the next day. My throat was sore while running which then traveled up to the ears and nose from the heat. I was happy to get back to the air conditioning of the car after that! We headed over to the bike drop off at Lake Las Vegas. Not much going on at the bike drop off so that was pretty quick. We ran into a fellow Allentown athlete (Kenrick had a Fitness Central t-shirt on and that struck up the conversation). It was nice to meet a fellow wife who was also a non-triathlete and could relate to my frequent "why do they put themselves through this!?" thoughts. But just as I, even though we don't like it for ourselves, she was incredibly proud of her spouse and loves to cheer him on and be there for support. After bike drop off we headed to T2 to drop off the run bag and checked out the expo once more before headed home for pasta and air conditioning. We needed to rest up - the big day was tomorrow!
4:30am - Ughhhhh the dreaded early wakeup of race morning. My body is getting more used to this, and it's exponentially easier without kids in tow (though I do miss not having them at the race, they're always so excited for their dad). The drive into Lake Las Vegas race morning was backed up and a bit chaotic. I have to say, Ironman needs to drastically improve on this detail of the race. Cars were stopped trying to just drop off their athletes on the side of the road, because transition closing time was approaching and people were getting nervous. Also, once we got into the lot there was no one parking cars. Everyone had to fend for themselves, and it didn't look like people were utilizing the lot in the most efficient way. Hoping we wouldn't get parked in, we found a spot and started walking quickly down to transition.
The atmosphere at this race was definitely more international than I remember last year. I was incredibly impressed with the international fan groups for athletes. Some international athletes had huge contingencies cheering them on and awesome matching t-shirts, I always love that! (Though, to the guy from Switzerland, I could've done without your authentic Swiss cowbell that you were so proud of and had to ring for about ten minutes straight and then pass to your daughter for her to ring too. Any cowbell ringing prior to 6:00am is just plain rude!) Continuing on, Kenrick was able to get his pre-race stuff in order, gave me a final kiss, and was off to the staging platform as he was one of the first ten waves. It was a tad disappointing though, that his age group was put into 3 separate waves! The waves were small enough that I think they could've at least done 2 but 3 none the less. I found a great spot on a cliff area near the starting line where I could see the pros jumping in for their practice swim. However, note to the over excited Dad of a 30-34 male, I"m not too happy with you for your accidental nudge from behind me as I"m standing near about a ten foot drop! I understand you're excited and want to get a primo viewing spot like me, but I was here first and you near killed me!
From where I stood, the athletes entered the water, but then the official swim start line was on the other side of the hotel/balcony/bridge thing they swim under. So all of a sudden I got my second scare of the morning and heard the gun go off for the male pros and realized I would need to quickly watch Kenrick enter with his wave then hustle over to grab another primo viewing spot at the official swim start line. It worked out perfectly and I was able to continuing waving I love yous to him until seconds before his gun went off.
Having now experienced a mass start at Ironman Lake Placid, from a spectator view point I actually prefer the mass start. As a crowd, you feel more of a collective excitement knowing that everyone around you has their eyes on the same place as you and once you hear the gun go off for a mass start the crowd collectively gasps knowing that their athlete is about to start an experience of a lifetime! At this race, the pros were entering and young 20 somethings were walking around me in their pre-race nervousness and it just felt weird, and I'm assuming, even more so, frustrating for them.
I was able to see Kenrick exit the swim and also one portion of the bike before he left the Lake Las Vegas complex. He looked strong and happy as he headed out to fight and conquer the heat. I got some ok photos of the swim exit and bike portion and then headed to the car to travel over to Henderson Pavilion/T2. The exit from Lake Las Vegas went much more smoothly than I envisioned. They had the roads very well marked and I made my way to Henderson Pavilion in really good time. I headed to Whole Foods, got a chai latte to perk up and some food and knew right where to stand from our experience last year.
I was able to see him about 5 times on the run and I never missed him once! I was getting better at the camera timing too so the pictures were coming out good. He was staying strong and looked fluid in the run, he never looks labored ever, I always marvel at that. It was awesome to see the pros mixed in with the age groupers. It was hard as a spectator, though, to get a sense of who was in first, what lap your athlete was on, etc. Another part of this race that I think is amazing is the overhead helicopter that is recording the race from the air. It just adds an element to the race that kicks it up a notch! I was praying I had counted my laps right and convinced myself that his last lap was upon us, so I headed to the finish line. I was a bit surprised that there wasn't much of a spectator presence at the finish line (but then I thought well this means he's out in front because most spectators are watching their athletes on other laps so that must be a good sign!). I stood next to a very friendly Canadian dad at the finish line who was waiting for his son to come through. He was in mid-sentence telling me that he thought his son was on his way and then he yelled "there he is!". I love that moment, watching a fellow spectator get a glimpse of their loved one, their face beaming with pride, he cheered and snapped photos as his son went past. He looked back to me and said "that was my son!". And I said "congratulations!". And off he went to give his son a big hug. As a spectator, I love watching other spectators have those gushing with pride moments. These athletes work so hard and their families see that hard work all year and I know first hand how much Kenrick works and sacrifices for these races - it is a huge accomplishment and commitment. Kenrick went past me soon after and with a huge smile on his face he crossed and finished his second consecutive Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
I hustled myself to the finish corral to meet my hubby. After a few minutes in the food tent/cool down area he came out to meet me. I'm always amazed how "okay" he is after these races, I would be unable to speak, walk, or hold my head up. He's always got a "I"m doin' alright" look on his face. We remained at the finish for a little while, stayed in the shade, and attempted to find where the results were going to be posted. They had a technical glitch all day with the online tracking so we had no idea exactly where he finished at, due to the wave starts. Almost every race we have been at this year has had some kind of technical glitch with the online athlete tracking. I really wish a company would develop a fool proof system for this, at the Burlington race we worried Kenrick's chip wasn't working and that his results wouldn't be counted. At that race, there was a volunteer manually entering finishers and their numbers at the finish line so that gave us some comfort. In addition to online tracking, Ironman also needs to drastically improve their website. I have not heard one person, athlete and non-athlete, say they like the Ironman website, or can even navigate it for that matter. It's way too dark and they have too many things going on.
To sum up the day, I was extremely proud of Kenrick. His dedication, mental toughness, and athleticism impress me each and every time he sets foot on the race course. I don't know how he does it. Way to go honey!
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!
Pre-Race Lake Placid
The atmosphere up here is electrifying. There are athletes everywhere. There are Ironman flags, banners, gear everywhere. There is spandex everywhere you look. On the beach there is a sea of athletes wearing wetsuits. There are the fittest looking people everywhere I turn. I second guess my training at every moment. I question my fitness with every thought. Have I done everything I could of done to prepare for this? Have I rested enough or pushed to hard? Is my game plan going to work? BUT it is finally here and there is nothing that you can change now. All the miles have been logged, all the long hours have been spent in the water, on the bike or on the pavement. It is finally here and now I have to channel all that training into this one race. I need to stay focused, stick to my game plan, race smart and go like hell. I am excited and am looking forward to this adventure. I will go in as a triathlete and hopefully come out being an IRONMAN!!!! Can't wait and all my questions will soon be answered.
You can follow me on Sunday 7/22/12 - www.ironmanlive.com
Click on Lake Placid - My bib is #1338 or you can type in Smith.
Or if you type in Men 30-34 you can find out my place in my age group
Race Atmosphere in Syracuse
The race atmosphere is pretty mild to say the least. There isn't to much buzz going on here. I have seen the same 3 people over and over again. The course though is really beautiful, full of mountain views, farms with huge barns and silos, and the smell of cows.
The water temp today was 80 degrees so as of today we won't be wearing wetsuits, but we'll see in the morning. I am in the very last wave with a start time of 7:50. The bike course is going to be extremely challenging. The first 12 miles is uphill with some very Very steep sections. The key will be to stay patient and not over do it to early. Then the course goes into a bunch of rollers, with an occasional steep section. The views on the bike course are really amazing and the roads look like they are in good shape. Then for the run, it is a 2 loop course with rollers leading into a 1 mile steep climb to the turnaround and then head back to do it all over again. The run is probably about 50% in the sun so at the hottest point of the race we will have some cover which is always good. My goal is to race hard and extremely smart. I can't wait for the morning to arrive.
The Cows in the Pasture
My wife often asks me what do you think about while you do your long rides or long runs? So, this one is especially for her. On my long runs I tend to head out into the country, where I run by farm after farm. Most of the farms are crop farms but every now and then there are farms with some big groups of cattle. So as I make my way passed these cattle farms my mind begins to wonder.
I come around the bend and I spot them, probably a ton of pure beef per head of cattle ranging in colors from a rusty brown, brown, white, black and white. I don't think they spot me yet, as they are too busy with their faces stuffed in the long grass eating breakfast. They usually don't pick their heads up 'til I am almost right in front of them. I make my way towards them staying strong, keeping perfect form, and gliding like the wind when the first one spots. After the first one spots me they all start picking there heads up from the knee deep grass and start MOOING and staring at me. Each moo that comes out sounds a little different.
This is were I get paranoid are they MOOING about me. I think this is how it is going down.
Cow 1 says, " Look at that form it is perfect."
Cow 2 says, " He's going too fast he's going to blow up on the way back."
Cow 1 then asks, "Where do you think he is running to?"
Cow 2 then replies," I don't see the point of running, I am so glad I am a cow where I can just watch knuckleheads like this torturing themselves."
Cow 3 then chimes in, "Whoa look at that cool belt (Fuel Belt) he's wearing is he a superhero or something?"
Cow 2 states, "Superhero or not, its too hot, those water bottles are too small, and he started out way too fast."
That's all I can make out as I make my way passed them. I tell myself - I will show them on the way back that I can hold my own. But that's when I start to question myself was Cow 2 right did I pace this wrong, am I going too fast, what should I do? I decide - screw it and I drop the hammer. I stay strong to mile 10 my turn around point and back to my mooing friends. I have about 7 miles till I get to the farm and I am running out of liquids but still feeling great. Finally I get to the farm, where I gather my composure, straighten my form and wipe the sweat from my brow. I am thinking "What are they going to say this time. I am still crushing it and probably going to negative split the run." I spot them and as I approach they are not picking there heads up so I break stride a little trying to make more of a stomping sound to get their attention, but that doesn't work. They're more worried about the grass they are basically inhaling. I decide to clear my throat to get their attention. That didn't work either. I am devastated they are ignoring me and don't care about my great run I am about to put in the bank. I pass them and finally make my way to the bend where they will be out of sight and I make one last look back and Cow 2 looks up at where I just was. I think to myself, " Come on Cow 2 you're killing me. He probably thinks I gave up since he won't see me come by."
Oh well there will always be another long run and I'll show those cows. Hope you enjoyed my thoughts from my long runs.
Breaking Wind Etiquette
So I am wondering what the proper etiquette is for breaking wind during training. Today I got caught breaking wind about ever other stride. It must have been something I ate, I swear. I ran the first half of my easy run today by myself then looped around picked up my wife and finished my run with her. On the first half I was squeeking with every step and at my turnaround point I notice two high school aged kids behind me snickering. Luckily I had my sunglasses on to hide some of my embarassment. I finished the first half of my run and returned home to pick up my wife and was hoping to engage in some good conversation. Unfortunately, it was twenty five long minutes of bubble noises. My wife looks at me halfway through our run and said are you always this gassy. I said yeah I guess I never really noticed because there isn't anybody around to make me aware of it. Then we headed through a neighborhood and she told me to cut it out, there's people out and about.
So this brings me to my question about breaking wind etiquette. Are we as endurance athletes suppose to fight through the discomfort of gas pains along with all the other pain, discomfort, mental anguish we are going through? In one way passing gas shows that you are relaxed when you release that stench, which is a good thing. Also its so funny, its always a good way to add a little humor to a long ride or run. I don't care how old you are, breaking wind is hilarious and never gets old unless you are trapped in a confined space, then not so pleasant. I am going to keep stinking up my runs and rides to make myself as comfortable as possible and if that offends people I guess I will not have you as a training partner. So, sorry Babe I'm going to keep letting them go, its just a comfort thing. Let loose, let them fly, stay comfortable and don't forget to laugh.
I am entering the last few days before I start tapering for my next race, which couldn't come soon enough. I am so anxious to start racing again, to see my payoffs from the off season. I am also looking forward to my taper week because I am currently going through the "FULL BODY" fatigue phase of training. After my race in Puerto Rico I had about four days of easier workouts before I started getting back into the harder and longer days. Since, that point the workouts have just been building with volume and mixed with building intensity, which has finally caught up to me this week.
I really noticed it in my running performances, my mind would say :go faster" and my body would say "no I think were good right here at this pace." I would try to swing my arms more to get my legs to move faster, I tried to lean more over my feet to try and get my legs to move faster but nothing seemed to work. I would even notice it after workouts just milling around the house, especially going up the steps. My legs would feel fatigued and would even get out of breath a little bit, and I would say man I feel out of shape (partly joking). It wasn't just my legs though it was the "FULL BODY FATIGUE." My whole body felt spent. My whole demeanor changed and was starting to get frustrated. When I get frustrated I tend not to relax and try and push through workouts which for me doesn't work. I need to relax a let my body do the work. Then I consulted my coach and we altered my training for the the past two days to try and revive my body a little bit before the taper officially starts.
The past two nights I have been trying to log more hours in bed to allow my body to naturally heal itself and it seems to paying off. Today I feel like I have more energy in my whole body and more juice in the legs. I have a long swim today so I will see how that feels. So the plan is to push hard through the weekend and then start to shut it down in preparation for the White Lake Half in NC next weekend.
REST, REST,REST is critical during these hard long weeks, so don't forget to REST!!!
So this is a little over do since my San Juan race has been over now for about two and a half weeks but just wanted to post a comment or two on this subject. I was simply amazed at what I saw at the race especially on the grueling, heat baking run course. The paratriathletes that competed in this race were simply amazing. To see the grit and determination in there eyes, and the strength in there voices was simply humbling and awe inspiring. Yeah it was great to see all the Pros, all the elite level amateurs, all the hustle bustle that goes into a huge race but I was simply taken back by the abilities of these strong and determined athletes. These athletes were so inspiring, and I was in such awe of them every time I saw them on the course. To see them climb the hills on the run course and see how the crowd reacted to each of these athletes was amazing. They truly have a gift deep with in them and I am proud to say that I was able to race against these athletes and sweat on the same course with them. Great job to all the paratriathletes that competed in San Juan and GOOD LUCK on the rest of your seasons.
Its Almost Go Time!!
So its race week and I'm headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico in a few days for my race that takes place on Sunday the 18th. I am really excited about this race as it will hopefully set me up to have a great 2012 season. Everything is going well and feeling right. I feel mentally and physically ready/fresh to take care of business and accomplish all my race goals. I was becoming nervous after returning home from my Arizona Training Camp: feeling beaten, bruised and extremely fatigued, after logging lots of miles and hours. My coach, Todd Wiley, did a tremendous job dialing me back in and getting my body back on pace and in a strong place. I need to go down there and stay focused, race smart, and have fun. Now with all the time put in, all the sweat behind me, and all the winter illnesses avoided, I am ready to compete and start this season with a bang.
With the 2012 Season upon us I want to wish everyone good luck in all there races and training sessions, and hope to see you out on the course. Race Hard, Leave Everything Out on the Course and Finish Strong. Have a great season and be safe out there.
Kenrick Smith - Be a part of the K17Sport Lifestyle.
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