Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Could not saddle Kona

The morning of October 10th was a normal Saturday for most people I know. College Football, yard chores, afternoon activities with the kids, maybe a trip to the lake or a hiking trip to a nearby trail.

Not this Saturday. This particular Saturday I was waking up to hear the surf break on a beach of black lava rock on the Big Island of Hawaii to participate in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI. On the western side of the Big Island, Kona is a charming sea-side tourist trap that has hosted the Ironman for 31 years. For the most part Kona has a relative barren landscape amidst volcanic rock. The different beaches are tidepools with water that has fairly good visibility. At 5:00 in the morning, everything seemed as if the day was going to shape up to be incredible.
I had been in Kona for the better part of 3 days and had a chance to get use to the weather, winds, conditions, and elements that would effect my race. As a triathlete, everybody is familiar with what has been said about Kona why its so difficult. So I did my part to train as hard as I could to be prepared for those elements and how they would affect my race. Training throughout the summer in Phoenix, I was hoping that it would give me an edge to reaching my goal.

After a few days of running the course, biking part of the route and getting familiar with the open water ocean swim...I felt a little more comfortable. On a side didn't help to see hundreds of athletes of all ages, all over Kona. These people are quite possibly the best conditioned people in the entire world. Lean and trim, it was little intimidating even though I had dropped my weight from 198 lbs to 179 lbs. To put into perspective, I would have needed to drop to 165 lbs to be as lean as these athletes.

Back to Saturday morning, I had checked my bike and set up my transition bags the day before, the only thing I really needed to do is get body marked, pump up my tires, and make any last minute adjustments to my fuel for the bike portion.
One of my favorite parts of morning preparation is the body marking. At Kona, instead of using a marker, they use block stamps which are far more readable. I was a little disappointed, this year they did not require to have race numbers & age printed on's always cool to see the different ages of the athletes...especially when someone is 60+ years old!
After body marking I went to inspect my bike and make sure that my tires were pumped up to 130 psi and my fuel was ready. All morning I was hydrating (the conditions in Kona were hot and humid) 24 oz 3 hours before the race, 12 more ounces an hour before and another 8-12 oz just before I get in the water. Some of that was just water, the other was carbohydrate fluids.
After all my pre-race preparations were complete (pre-race preparations? Can I say that?) I spend the next 45-60 minutes stretching and going through the race. I knew mentally the swim was going to be the easiest, the bike was going to push me and the run was going to be the most difficult, not because of conditioning, but fueling.

As the start was getting closer and closer, the voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly was giving all the spectators information about the conditions and expectations of the race. At the same time, he was crystallizing the imagery that we as athletes were going through in our minds.

Minutes before the Pros were sent out, the Navy did a skydiving was a nice distraction, plus very cool.

As the cannon shot off for the professionals, the intensity of the moment increased. Most of the athletes entered from the beach, I jumped in from the pier, about 1/2 way down towards the starting line. The water was clear, and almost uncomfortably warm for race conditions. In the background I could hear people with cow bells and horns mixing in with screams and random names being yelled over the top of the field.

Within a minute from starting, I heard a rumble of drums start, getting loader and more intense with every second. Mike Reilly was giving us the count down and then the drums stopped...

BOOM! The cannon exploded and the field was off.

Usually the first 20-30 minutes is complete survival mode, ponying for position as other athletes struggle too keep pace while others are feeling the need to destroy everyone in their path. That would include pulling and pulling you out of sync. Kona was completely different. I felt like I constantly had a lane and other swimmers were aware of boundaries and knowing when it was time to give room for someone else to pass or to move aside when a faster swimmer was trying to make a move.

The most incredible part was seeing sea turtles and random fish throughout the swim course. It was a great distraction and often forgot that I was racing in the Ironman. Hugh difference from swimming in Tempe Town Lake, having zero visibility.
I felt great getting out to the first buoy, when I checked my time just after the turn I was just over 20 minutes and I knew that I needed to push myself. The back side of the two turn swim course was smooth and quick, but as I turned to the final stretch I felt myself getting dehydrated making it difficult to take deep breaths every stroke. Pushing myself on every pull, my concentration focused on keeping my toes pointed straight back and stretching every stroke to get the maximum torque.

By the time I got back to the pier I had lost all form and my struggles to breath had doubled. My pride in looking strong while spectators looked on kept me from turning over on my back and taking a breather.
At 1 hour 21 minutes I finally finished the swim ...yea, I was hoping to finish in about an hour or so...little far from my goal. Stretching my pool time to equate an open water swim was just stupid! To sum up my swim, I was happy with how I did, but felt I could do better next time by spending time doing more long distance sprint workouts...10x400/600 in an all out sprint.

When I climbed up the stairs they have a few tents with hoses being dangled above pouring out fresh water. WOW, if there was anything that was more refreshing than having fresh water at that point, I don't know what it could have been. I probably spend more time than necessary, but it was nice.
Exiting the public athlete "shower" their were dozens of volunteers directing my to my first transition bag where I noticed that I didn't have any socks. WTH!!! I almost thought that someone stole them and later found out I placed them in my second transition bag. After I put my jersey, helmet, sunglasses and shoes on, my head was on a swivel for the sunblock station. (My first Ironman I got a severe sunburn that took almost 6 months to heal.)

After applying, what I thought was an ample amount of sunblock, I had to run the rest of the length of the pier to get to my bike and then push my bike back to the mount/dismount area.
As soon as I got on my bike and took two pedals, I heard Lindsey screaming for my off to my left. It was nice to hear a familiar voice, it bolstered by spirits.
Leading up to the race I had spent countless hours training on the bike. Stationary workouts, hills, sprints, distant, and everything I could think off. I even spend the last two weeks staying in the toughest two gears on my bike. I owe that to Jacob, I did a fifty mile bike ride with him and found that it was great conditioning and ultimately helped me realise that it's an effective way to do long distance rides.

So as the bike portion go on it's way, I was surprised how good I felt on the bike. For the first 40 miles I think less than 5 people passed me while I must have cruised past 4 or 5 dozen people. The first 13 or so miles was by far the best part of the course, cruising random street right in Kona then making our way out to the lava fields on Queen K (Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway) which take us out to the northern part of the Island to a town call Hawi. As I took the left turn on to the Queen K, I had mixed feelings. My heart wanted to finished the bike in 5 1/2 hours, my head told me that I'm already 20 minutes behind my schedule, and my body was anxious to be pushed for the next few hours.

Leaving Kona, there are rolling hills for about 30 miles and then a gradual 500 foot climb spanning over 5-6 miles putting us in Hawi at the turn around check point. On the way out, I felt poised, calm, peaceful and over all, very strong. My feeling was that if we had a mild to strong head wind going North and we might have a mild to strong tail wind coming back. I even found a riding buddy from San Diego who was celebrating his anniversary over the weekend. He agreed with me that the swim was great and the headwind was a thorn, hoping it was going to be tailwind on the way back. It's always great to find people to ride with, it makes the race go by so much faster. As I topped the crest just a few miles before the turn around point I was relieved to have a little down hill slope, but that was crushed by more head wind all the way to the turn around point.

I was met by Lindsey with a sugar fee Red Bull (which might have been against the rules) and a little hug...again, a much need boost to make it back to Kona.

I don't know if it was the Red Bull or tail wind I felt, but for the next 3-4 miles I was able to bust past 30 mph for a sustained period of time. I was again short lived because the 500 foot downhill was met with a head wind that not only physically wore me down, but it really affected me mentally. The headwind only got worse the last 30 miles of the bike ride.

As I was riding, I realized the wind come straight up the cost and hits the Queen K making a crosswind that is a head wind both ways...and for all of us riding the bike, much more difficult on the way back.

My shoes are just slightly over sized which lead to my right foot going numb. I found myself having to place my foot over my shoe for about 10 miles, really taking my ability to pull up on my crank, really slowing me down.

As I saw more and more commercial buildings, I knew that I was getting closer to Kona. The only challenge was the wind was picking up and I didn't realize that my fueling was being effected...substantially! I didn't realize that my stomach was tightening up, even thought I felt my energy level was okay.

As I was making my way through the some of the side streets I kept the throttle down and found my way to the mount/dismount area were a volunteer took my bike back my rack at the end of the pier. My legs, back, neck, shoulders, abdomen, calves, and especially my feet were tired and sore. Tenderly walking/jogging I wobbled through the transition area to the second bag rack and then found myself wiped out in the staging tent. I sat down and thought about what I had just did and tried to gather my thoughts. People frantically moving and pushing themselves, others laying down to rest or stretch out their legs. A volunteer, who must have been a therapist of some sort, asked me if I was okay and I told him about my right foot. Graciously, he spent about 40 seconds massaging my arch and ball of my foot. This only added to my urgency to keep moving. I felt like I was wimping out and not pushing myself, so I told him I was okay and push myself off the chair and out the tent.

As I was making my way out of the transition area and out on the run course I was extremely happy with my bike ride. There was no doubt in my mind that I took advantage of every ounce of energy I had and took my mind out of the ride.

Little did I know that I crippled my run and it would show...early.

As I started my run, my legs felt heavy and my energy was very low, but I knew if I could keep my legs moving I would eventually draw on reserved energy & conditioning. Assuming the first fueling station was less than 2 miles away I knew that I would be okay.

The first 50 yards was up a small incline where I heard a familiar voice, so I gave Lindsey a happy anniversary kiss and made my way. The next 10 miles of the run was on Alii Drive, the place where I spend most of my Hawaii training...small inclines, no wind, great crowds, and a very beautiful vistas. Putting a small strategy into play would help me make it past the 6 mile hump, so I found another athlete that I felt like I could use as a rabbit so I paced myself with her and tried to stay strong mentally.

As I made it past the 2 mile marker, my body was drawing on fumes, but I didn't want to hurt my body by over fueling or under fueling. I "cruised" into mile three where I picked up some more fuel and made a cardinal mistake by taking something I had never trained with in the past...a powerbar, even worse is was a cookies ~n~ cream powerbar.

Nevertheless, I found myself pulled over fixing a flat tire within minutes. I must of thrown up every ounce of fluid and fuel. My abs tightened up, my throat was burning and just felt overall nauseous. I felt if I could get to the next fueling station I could slowly recoup and get back on target.

I don't know if it was physical as much as it was mental, but I could not get back into sync. Getting a rhythm that could be sustained longer than 3/4 of a mile was challenging.
At the turn around point on Alii Drive I met up with a guy from New York who really helped me get back on pace. This is one of the reasons I really enjoy triathlons. It gives you a chance to talk to other athletes and discuss everything from races we've been in to our employment backgrounds. This guy was a solid runner and he helped me keep a solid 8 minute mile pace for about 2 1/2 miles then I faded from fueling. Again, racing buddies are great!

As I made it back down to downtown Kona to get back up to the Queen K to run the lava fields, I really needed to get a strategy put together. My only strategy that I felt like I could stick to was to run 1 1/2 miles then walk 1/2 mile. If I felt good, I would add a mile, but I really wanted to stick to that strategy.
At this point, there was no reason to kill myself to get my was out of reach, but I still wanted to finish strong.
As the sun was setting on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii, I thought about everything that had brought me to this point, all the people that have influenced and supported me, and even the cause I was raising money for...the Special Olympics. The sacrifice Lindsey gave to let me train for the past 7 months and spend our 1 year anniversary doing a race that would take all day.

I stuck with my strategy and even pushed myself on every change, making each running portion a little longer. By the time I got down to the Natural Energy Lab it was completely dark and I was in a pack that seemed to take my same strategy...kind of comforting with the expection that a few of them were twice my age.
There was one scary/frustrating part at the turn around at the Energy Lab, a volunteer's daughter broght their dog and it came out of nowhere and scared the be-gee-zees out of a few of us. I don't know if it was good becuase I wasn't thinking about my energy or body or bad becuase I lost my breath.
With the final stretch on the Queen K, I felt my body get more and more comfortable with stretching and striding out. My only thoughts at this point was to stay steady and consistant. Stay tight in my core and relaxed with my arms, legs and shoulders.
When I finally started to see downtown Kona, I put it in my mind...I'm not stopping till I cross the tape. I didn't realize I probably at 3-4 miles left, but I put my head down and pushed it. There was a steady mile before a good size grade loft, about another mile, before I got to the turn off from the Queen K and it was all down hill from there...about 1 more mile till the finish line.
This was a complete gut check, my abs were aching and my joints were burning from the steap down hill slope. The crowds started to get larger and larger every step. The in background I could hear cowbells, loud "pump-up" music from the finish line, and people screaming names and words of encouragement. At the same time I was seeing athletes who had already finished the race walking back to their hotels with their gear, bikes and finisher medals. I was getting close.
As I got to the bottom of the hill I heard a familar and much needed voice. Lindsey was there with a bunch of people she got to help me finish up with with loud cheers. In my mind the finish line was right around the corner, but the pain in my core and burning in my legs made it seem another mile away. At this point there was about 2-3 people in front of me...making it my final goal to pass them before the finish line.
The first guy was still in auto-pilot but ther other two people were pushing it just as hard as I was. Even though I was not pushing for a personal best at this point, I was determined to give it every ounce I had.
With my final right hand turn on to Ali'i Drive, the streets were lined 4-5 people deep, all cheering and screaming. You think this would give a huge adrenaline rush, which it did, but not enough to not buckle a few times. I was dehydrated, my fuel was empty, sunburned...
As I got closer the music got louder, it was no longer just a bass beat in the distant background. The stadium lights they put in for the final 100 yards as lighting up the final channel ahead. I could hear Mike Reilly making comments about the conditions of the race and one last person to pass before the finish line...this was the rush I needed. I imediately found another gear and gave it just a little more. As I passed him going in the final stretch, everything seemed like a blur. I couldn't see anything, all I could here was just noise...all my muscles were pushing as hard as my mind would take them.
As I ran up the wooden ramp to the finish line my mind was confused and my body was exhausted. Then Mike Reilly said over the loud speaker, "Bryan Crosland, you're an Ironman."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Going to Hawaii for the Ironman

It's been a long time since I've blogged about anything, hopefully I'll go back and log what's happened in the last year, but this week it's all about doing the Ironman in Hawaii and raising money for the Special Olympics.

When Lindsey and I got married we decided there are a few things we wanted to do to establish our family legacy...kind of nerdy to think about it now, but doing the Ironman is one of them. Hopefully we have the ability to do a race every 5 years, but this year is the only year that we could do the race in Hawaii. So I applied for a lottery spot. One the application for the lottery spot they ask you why you should be considered; my two main reasons were, #1 the day of the race is our Anniversary and #2 we wanted to raise money for a special cause.

Back in April we found out that I won the lottery spot and training would be start. It started of with 5 days of training, most days were single event training days doing a small runs, or bike rides. Other days I would combine two events. I also started leaning out my diet...

So we decided to raise money for the Special Olympics. We thought about raising money for JDRF or Foundation for Blind Children and even Phoenix Children's Hospital. When I finally made a decision, it came down to my childhood experiences with the Special Olympics. My Mom would have a few Special Olympic athletes stay at our house for the week for the Special Olympics. It was always one of the best weeks of the year. I were always better for being around them and laughing with them.

Going into to this week my mind is reflective of a few things. The hard work I've put into this years event. I've push myself a little harder, stuck to my workouts, and tried to stick to my diet. I'm really thankful to the people that have made a sacrifice to make a donation to Kona Ironman for Special Olympics. Every week we are blown away by the people who have donated...especially in the tough economical times. I've had a handful of high school friends that I have not seen in 15 years make donations that leave me speechless. Most of all, I appreciate my wife being patient for the past few months. I wake up at 4:00 to go on a bike ride or I'm at the gym until 10:00 working out. With her being's been a test for her. She has definitely been a champ.

So this week I'm going to log a little bit every day and let everyone know how things are going!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

So my wife has all the wedding pictures...I'll try to update things soon, until then check out:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pier Burger

For anyone that plans on making a trip out to Catalina Island anytime soon, make sure you stop by Eric's on the Pier. Do yourself a favor and try a Pier Burger...I'm pretty sure that you can only eat one a year or your heart might stop. Lindsey and I took a 38 min boat ride out there a few weeks ago and the trip was worth it.

Two hamburger patties, cheese, hotdog cut in half, grilled chilie, bacon, pickles and onions...really, just try it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm getting married

I don't know if it's a miracle that she said Yes or if I'm actually getting married...either way Lindsey Lundeen and I are getting married October 10th, 2008 in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Whoooo Hoooo!!!!

It was awesome! Make sure you get me your address to get an invitation

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lake Powell, Camping, Wedding

I don't know if I'm bad luck or good luck, but either way I was able to celebrate Memorial Day weekend with Lindsey and her family. We decided to celebrate in honor of Global Warming since it rained most of the weekend and then the water was 50' higher than last year. We made an estimation that the lake was going up about 6"-8" a day.

That same weekend I got a phone call from my younger sister saying that she could not believe that it was snowing on her graduation day. She never remembers it snowing on the 4th of July and almost had to cancel fireworks. Regardless, Al Gore wasn't invited to our Memorial Day festivities.

When we got to Lake Powell, it was freezing cold and I don't think we got in the water for the first 2 or even three days. We spent most of our time reading, watching movies (Brian Regan - I walked on the Moon), eating incredible food, exploring, hiking, and kayaking. When we finally got in the water is was great, but the cold turned up a notch when we got pulled out of the water. I've only been wake boarding 2 other times in my life, so getting out of the water made the trip a success.
Probably my favoriate part of Lake Powell was the hiking and exploring. Since most of the week was cold and I took the wimp clause, hiking and exploring was my favorite part. Finding little slots and cranys to explore and climb around. Wake boarding is the same where ever you go, but the scenery and environment was incredible. A few times we would take the kayak out and find new places to dock and walk around.

Then later that week we went to Vernon & St. Johns to camp and visit some of Lindsey's family. It was great; campfire, gourmet tin-foil dinners, smores (try it with Reese's peanut butter cup), guitar and nice cool weather. We also stopped by the Snow Flake Temple, it was my first experience with a mini temple, but still a wonderful experience.

Just a week or so later we went up to SLC for Lindsey's sister's wedding...(I don't know if I punctuated that correctly) It was great, we stayed at a family friends cabin in Deer Valley the whole weekend and enjoyed the cool weather. The day of the wedding there was 6 inches of fresh snow...I thought it was awesome, but I'm sure Remi, the bride, was not as thrilled.

Needless to say it was an awesome weekend. Lindsey was able to meet some of my siblings and I continued to go through the interview process with Lindsey's extended family. The reception was great. I got to help out the family set up th e dinner, which was delicious. I played a few songs on the guitar (no singing) while everyone was getting settled...and yes, I played about 5 Foo Fighter songs. Then the dinner, the toasts were great and then Remi played a song she wrote for Cole, it was amazing.

Anyway, these are just some of the pictures of the last few weeks.