Thursday, February 4, 2016

Back to Blogging and Exciting Ironman News: IM Kona 2016

Dear friends,

After 15 Full Ironman Triathlons, I have finally been selected to compete in the Ironman World Championships in Kona on October 8, 2016.  It has been a long journey since my first Ironman in Louisville in 2010.  I was too busy with life and with Ironman training and racing to keep up with my blog.  Let me summarize by saying that I have continued to train with Ironteam while fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I have raised over $25,000 in that span.  I will start up a new season with Ironteam this weekend as I start training for IM Kona.  I hope to be more diligent with my blog and with my swim workouts.  I am a faster cyclist and runner, but still need to work on my swim.

My previous blog outlined my recovery from ACL Reconstruction and provided race reports after each of my major marathons / Ironman triathlons.  This new version will be more focused on the life of an age grouper balancing work, family, and Ironman training.  I hope you find this interesting.

As for my knee almost 7 years s/p ACL reconstruction, its doing great.  I run faster than before my injury and 99% of the time, my knee feels solid and I don't even think about it.  However that 1% of the time, I will have a mis-step and feel a strange twinge and there is that slight instability.  Fortunately, I have not had any falls, but I have had a few close calls during these episodes.  Occasionally after long runs and marathons, my operated knee will feel more swollen and more sore.  That's where ice wraps and muscle stimulation comes in.  More on that in a future post.  Until then, Run Happy!

Alexander "Neomedic"
Marathon Maniac #886

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ironman 9 : CDA June 23, 2013

Many things happened between my last Ironman race in Arizona 2012 and CDA 2013.  The most important thing was that I joined Team in Training and the Greater LA Ironteam for my 5th season of fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  My 1st season with the Team was interrupted by my ACL tear and subsequent ACL reconstruction.  I realized my dream of becoming an Ironman at Louisville 2010 during my 2nd season with the Team.  I got bitten by the Ironman bug and completed Ironman #2-8 in seasons 3 and 4.  Now for season 5, I have CDA, Lake Tahoe, and Arizona.  
One highlight during the last 9 months was traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark and running the Copenhagen Marathon.  It rained the entire time and parts of the race was over cobblestones (ouch). However I will always cherish the memories of the cheering crowds and meeting runners from throughout Europe.  And Copenhagen was heaven for "foodies".
Another proud moment for me was running the Big Sur International Marathon and coming in 1st Place in the Corporate Relay Division.  The nerves and pressure I felt for this race, topped any Ironman race.  Again the beautiful scenery of Big Sur and the California Coast will be something I will always remember, as well as the camaraderie of our team.  I look forward to defending our title next year.
Running the Goofy Challenge at Disney World and going Coast to Coast and running Tinkerbell Half was another highlight I will cherish.  Sharing these events with family and loved ones made Disney Magical.
Now onto Ironman #9: Coeur d'Alene

I mentioned last year that Coeur d'Alene is like being in a National Park.  Gorgeous scenery, wildlife, and fresh mountain air.  This year the weather cooperated and the lake was warmer than 2012.  In 2012, I competed by myself.  This year, I had the majority of our Greater LA Ironteam competing with me, along with coaches along for support and guidance.  Our team took a bus tour of the bike course a couple days prior to the race.  I was able to share my experience from 2012.  We took a few swims prior to the race and I immediately noticed the water was cold, but tolerable.  Definitely warmer than 2012.  On to race day:

Swim: 1:38:39

I'm not a swimmer.  I swim once a week.  I know I need to focus on this in the future, but I keep putting it off.  That said, this year my time was 16 min faster than 2012.  The new "Swim Smart" initiative instituted a rolling start.  Swimmers seeded themselves according to pace.  I think this worked very well.  It made for a much more relaxed and enjoyable swim.  The warmer water also helped.  I did not have any problems with chop.  My first loop was 45 min.  Slight swim fatigue probably led to the slower 2nd loop. 

Bike: 6:32:20

This was 11 min faster.  I described the 2 loop course in my post last year.  CDA is definitely a challenging course.  I think it's more difficult than the IM Canada course in Penticton.  My main complaint is that going back into CDA on US 95, is a long descent which is interrupted by a "No Passing Zone". There is also a 2nd NP Zone as you exit the 95 and get back on NW Blvd.  I couldn't believe my bad luck that along both NP Zones, I had to hit the brakes due to slower cyclists.  This happened again on the 2nd loop of the bike course as well.  I notice that these "slower" cyclist stopped pedaling during these descents.  Unbelievable!
My favorite part of the bike course is of course going through the cheering crowds that lined the streets of downtown CDA which you hit out and back during each loop of this 2 loop course.  I saw my cheering section and felt energized each time.

Run: 4:43:20

This was about 5 min faster.  Not much to add.  I had foot pain in 2012.  This year, I was fine.  I saw teammates, cheering supporters, coaches all along the course.  Last year was a mental challenge. This year, the run was very enjoyable.  In hindsight I probably could have pushed harder to my "uncomfortable" zone.  I may have finished sub 13, but I probably would not have enjoyed the run as much.  The only regret was not paying attention to my Maui Jim Titanium sunglasses which I had placed on top of my cap.  I still had them in a photo taken by a coach at mile 23.  I noticed around mile 25 that they were missing.  By that point, I was not going backwards to look for them.  I continued to the finish line and high-fived my way across the finishing chute.  

Finish: 13:12:42

After a short recuperation, I collected my bike and gear bags.  Dropped them off.  Wiped down myself and changed into fresh clothes.  Grabbed a coffee and then returned to the finish line to cheer on my teammates as they finished their races.  We stayed until almost midnight to welcome the last of our teammates.  It was another special night to conclude a special day.  Kudos to the town of Coeur d'Alene.  Thank-you for welcoming and supporting us.  Perhaps one day, I will return for another edition of IM CDA.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ironman # 8: Arizona 2012

Ironman #8

Well I set out to complete 4 Ironman Triathlons in 2012.  2 weeks after Florida, it was time for Arizona.  This is a special race since my Ironteam-mate Mari died in October while training for this race.  Many of my teammates gathered in Arizona to commemorate Mari.  Those of us racing wore armbands and photos of Mari on race day.  I think Mari helped me get through the difficult stretches of this race and inspired me to give it my best effort on race day despite running in the Auckland Marathon 3 weeks previously and Ironman Florida 2 weeks prior to Arizona.  The presence of my friends and teammates cheering me along the course also inspired me to " Play Like a Champion Today"--Notre Dame Football

Swim 1:46:45

The water was cold.  Arizona is a deep water start.  You jump in 15 minutes before the start of the race and head for the start line.  I swam out towards the bridge, but stopped before reaching it and rested at a kayak. I probably mis-timed the race start, since by the time I resumed swimming towards the start line, the start gun had gone off.  This may have costed me a few minutes.  The good news is that the crowd was gone and I was able to swim in peace.  Once I got into my groove, it was a very pleasant swim and I no longer noticed the cold water temperature.  The swim is a single out and back.  No waves.  People mentioned that the water is dirty, but I did not notice.  I inadvertently swallowed some water and it seemed fine.

T1 10:55

As I mentioned in my IM Florida report, I tend to take my time in transition.  However, this one was a bit longer because the heater felt so good after the cold water swim.  I couldn't help lingering a little bit longer to warm up.

Bike 6:22:23

Again my tired legs affected me during the ride.  I averaged 17.5 mph, but was much faster going downhill or with a tailwind and much slower going uphill or with a headwind.  The outbound portion of this 3 loop course  has an uphill section.  This is of course followed by a downhill section on the inbound portion.  The winds did pick up significantly during the bike ride.  The key is to try to be consistent and maintain a similar effort uphill, downhill, headwind, tailwind.  Seeing cheering teammates throughout this 3 loop course was the highlight of the ride.  I am already looking forward to tackling this race course again in 2013 on "Fresh Legs"!

T2 7:40

Run 4:47:40

The run course is again 3 loops.  I was excited to run.  It was getting a little warm, but not bad compared to some of my other Ironman races held in the summer months.  The sun sets early this time of year, so during loop 2 it started to get dark, and got a little cool on loop 3.  3 loops mean plenty of chances to see my racing teammates and my non-racing friends and coaches.  That again was the highlight of the course.  The aid stations were great and the volunteers were supportive and enthusiastic.  Did the race get old during loop 2 and 3?  Well loop 1, everything is new and exciting.  Loop 2 is the toughest loop, because you have seen it already and you know that you will see it all again on Loop 3!  By the time Loop 3 hits, you are already focusing on counting down the final miles and finishing the Ironman.  It was during loop 3 that I really felt inspired by memories of my teammate Mari.  I had her picture on the back of my running shirt.  With thoughts of the many training sessions and previous triathlons we had endured together, I rounded the final corner and ran across the finish line.

Finish 13:15:23

We waited at the finish line and celebrated everyone of our teammates finishing.  After our last finisher, we drank a toast of Bourbon to Mari.  She would have liked that very much.

I spent Thanksgiving with family giving Thanks for everything God has given me in 2012.  All my Ironman wishes came true ( except for the Kona lottery...)  I am Thankful for the support of family, friends, and coworkers.  They supported my fund-raising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  They gave me encouragement and the opportunity to train for almost the entire year for these Ironman events.  With their "Loving Kindness" I plan to continue raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as I tackle Ironman Coeur D'Alene, Ironman Lake Tahoe, and Ironman Arizona in 2013.

Ironman # 7: Florida 2012

A few days after Auckland Marathon, I was on a plane to Fort Walton Beach airport to go to Panama City Beach for Ironman Florida.  As I alluded to in my previous post, I had "dead legs" from running a near PR marathon in New Zealand.  All that intercontinental air travel probably didn't help the legs either, despite wearing compression gear.  I love the Panama City Beach area.  Great Vacation town.  Unfortunately, this was more than just a vacation since I do take my Ironman races seriously.  I PR'd here last year and was initially looking to improve upon my 2011 finish.  But early on during the bike ride, I realized my legs were not going to cooperate on this day.

Swim 1:41:10

I'm not sure what happened.  I was 11 minutes slower than 2011.  And this time there were no jellyfish stings.  I started out in the back to avoid the melee in the front.  The water was clear and warm.  There was a bit more chop and swells than 2011.  Overall though the swim was the most pleasant part of the day.  IM Florida is a 2 loop swim.  This does allow for a quick drink between lap 1 and 2, which I liked.  The discouraging thing is that while I was going out for loop 2, the faster swimmers were already heading for Transition.  This also means that while I'm finishing loop 1, the faster swimmers start swimming by and in some cases over me!

T1  10:04

Slow Transition.  I tend to be slow, since I've got to change into bike jersey, arm sleeves, apply lube and sunblock, get my compression socks on, and stop off at the port-a-potty.

Bike 6:28:18

This is where the "dead legs" hit home.  I started off 19mph+.  But progressively I started to slow, and the last half of the ride I was between 15.5 and 17.5mph.  The course is a single loop course, basically flat.  One can stay in the aero-position all day, if one's back can handle it.  Unfortunately, my back is not able to.  I needed to periodically get out of aero to stretch out the back.  The most notable thing about the bike was the monotony.  It was very boring.  I found myself nearly falling asleep on the bike!  How can that be while you're going 15.5 to 18 mph?  Well the body gets into a rhythm and goes through the motions: legs up and down, up and down, body in aero position.... Zzzzz.....

I was so happy to get off the bike and start the run...

T2 7:38

Off with the bike gear and on with my running shirt, shorts, compression socks and K-Swiss shoes.  A quick Port-a-Potty stop and its time to Run.

Run 5:22:34

The roar of the crowd and the initial energy rush got me going at 9 min/mile pace.  Unfortunately after the first couple miles, I started to slow to a 11 to 11.5 min/mile pace.  The IM Florida run course is 2 loops.  Unfortunately by the 2nd loop I was taking longer and longer walk breaks at the aid stations.  My legs were no longer cooperating.  I would run then walk, run then walk, and walk some more at the aid stations.  The weather was not hot.  In fact as the sun went down on the 2nd loop, it started to get cool.  I managed to keep my focus on the prize: the medal at the finishline, and kept going mile by mile, aid station by aid station.

Finish 13:49:44

I knew I wasn't going to PR.  Other than finishing, I had an outside chance at being the 500,000 all-time Ironman Finisher.  Well congrats to Jeff Pearson who was the 500,000 finisher at 14:01:09  He beat me by negative 11 min+

Auckland Marathon, Yes New Zealand

It took me a while to get back to blogging.  As you will see I have been a very busy athlete.  Leading up to Auckland, I had competed in the Disneyland Half Marathon, the Kaiser 50 mile relay race, the Long Beach Marathon, the Nike Women's Marathon (half), and the San Luis Obispo Gran Fondo (75 mile ride).
Below is the race report I submitted to my running club newsletter. (AREC)

At the LA Marathon expo, I entered a drawing for an entry to the Auckland Marathon. I won an entry and decided this would be a memorable trip to a country I've wanted to visit since watching the Lord of the Rings. I used my FF Miles to make this happen and hooked up with Marathon Tours.

Downtown Auckland is very beautiful and cosmopolitan with a diverse mix of ethnicities. I was especially surprised to see almost 20% Asian and another 15% Maori. Surrounded by water, it reminded me a lot of SF. The air is so clean and the sky true blue. No LA smog, although rush hour traffic can be pretty bad. I was fortunate to spend several days before and after the race for sightseeing. Since this is not a travel report, I'll go on to describe the marathon.
The race starts in Devonport. I got up by 4am to get ready and catch the 5am ferry to Devonport. It's a quick 10 to 15 min ride. Get off the ferry and its a quick walk to the race start line. I rested on a park bench then used the restroom and walked into the start corral. There is no National Anthem before the race. At 6:10am, it was GO time. For the next 3:45 min I had a ground level "tour of Auckland". One highlight was crossing Harbor Bridge and taking in the beautiful Auckland skyline. The aid stations are about 2 miles apart. They provide water, Powerade, or coke. No gels or solid food. Runners are responsible for carrying their own nutrition. The crowd support and volunteers were quite good for a race that starts so early in the morning. They start early partly to avoid the warmer afternoon temps and to reopen the bridge and roads. It was a warm day by New Zealand standards, probably low 70s. It is Spring in New Zealand. The ambulance and ER were busy as several dozen "down" runners were attended to and transported to the ER. This was attributed to the "heat".

Personally, I was coming off an injury suffered in a bike crash 1 week before the marathon. I cracked my helmet and have road rash on my left hip, shoulder, and hand. I also had Ironman Florida scheduled for the week after Auckland. I was torn between taking it easy to conserve my energy for Ironman or to run for a PR. Race morning I felt so strong, I went for PR pace. Unfortunately, I missed my PR by a couple minutes. And I paid a heavy price during the bike and run segments of IM Florida, as I suffered from "dead legs". However I am still pleased with my sub 14 hour Ironman finish, 6 days after running a PR pace marathon on another continent. 3 continents down. 4 to go!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ironman #6 Penticton, CANADA

I am finally getting a chance to write my IM CANADA race report.  It's been a busy month.  After 8+ months of intense Ironman training, I had to catch up on work duties and home duties.  In the meantime, I did run Disneyland Half a week after IM Canada and almost PR'd.  I am currently in taper mode for Long Beach Marathon.  OK, on to the last IM Canada from Penticton, BC.

This was my main event with Team in Training's Ironteam L.A. for 2012.  We arrived a few days before the race and I was impressed by the beauty of Penticton.  I was worried about heat since IM Canada 2011 was a scorcher.  I was also worried about the hills and all the climbing involved.  Well, my fears were overblown, the course is excellent and the weather cooperated this year.  Unfortunately this is the last IM Canada race in Penticton.  It has been sold to the group that puts on the "Challenge" triathlons.  A detailed race report will no longer be very useful since the Challenge Penticton race will probably be very different.  So I will give a quick summary and then my thoughts on the race experience.

Swim 1:37:59

The Ironteam got on a bus and left our team hotel very early Sunday morning.  We arrived with plenty of time to check in our special needs bags and adjust our bikes.  I had a nice warmup jog and a quick swim prior to race start.

The swim was very nice.  There is the usual contact associated with the mass start of an Ironman.  You learn to just ignore the contact and keep swimming.  Eventually, the field separates out, you can swim, and it all works out.  The water temp was just right and I felt very comfortable in my full wetsuit.  IM Canada is a 1 loop lake swim.  Fortunately, there was no chop on race morning.  ( Unlike the chop during our practice swim a few days prior to race day and unlike my horrible IM CDA swim.)  One unique thing about this swim was that the water was so clear that you could see the bottom of the lake!  At the turnaround buoys, you can see divers on the lake bottom taking photos of the swimmers!  The glare of the morning sun made sighting a little challenging on the return to shore, but one can sight off the tall building by the lakeshore.

Transition 1  9:08

I didn't realize I took so long.  Maybe I was busy listening to the conversations of those around me.  Also, I didn't have a volunteer to assist me, so I had to complete the transition on my own.  I am also a proponent of taking enough time in T1, so that I don't overlook something important that will hurt me on the 112 mile bike ride.  I also made sure to apply sunblock.

Bike: 6:07:22

What a great ride!  The first part out of town was very pleasant.  Maclean Creek Road is when the first climb starts. This is a short steep climb which is then followed by a long down hill stretch into Okanagan Falls.  During this climb, there are still a lot of cyclists and there is traffic on the opposite side of the road.  I came close to another cyclist as I was climbing and I guess I scared him and he yelled at me.  Oops, "Sorry."   The next 25 miles from the Falls to Osoyoos is flat.  Time to hit the rolling buffet.  I ate my Honey Stinger Waffles.  Yummy.  The weather was still very pleasant that morning.  Then you hit Richter Pass.  The Big Climb.  Actually a series of 4 climbs over 6+ miles.  1300 ft elevation gain.  You have a steep climb for a mile or so, than there is a flatter climb, followed by the next steep climb, flatter climb, etc...  Eventually you get to the top and the reward is a fast, very fast downhill stretch.  I was probably going 30 to 40 mph during the downhill.  After that, it's the 7 Bit**es!  A series of rollers...  I just counted them down 1 by 1 until I did all 7.  Believe me towards the end, you're hating these bit**es.  I used the momentum I achieved in the downhill stretch to carry me all or part of the way up the next uphill stretch.  This allowed me to pass quite a few people.  The next section of the bike course is an out and back.  This section requires will power, since fatigue is starting to hit and the Bike special needs is at the out part of this section.  Now it's getting warm.  Somehow, I got stung by a bee on my back.  It's probably because I had my bike jersey zipped half-way down to cool off.  I also dumped water over my cooling sleeves and over my head and back of jersey to cool off.  I ate some salty chips from my special needs bag, reloaded on the Honey Stinger waffles, and it was off to Yellow Lake.  Yellow Lake is the last big climb before returning to Penticton.  It is 1500 ft of climbing over 12 miles.  By this point in the race, the legs are tired, so the climb feels more difficult than Richter Pass.  The good news is that the road is lined with fans cheering you on, a la Tour de France.  The energy of the spectators will get you over the top.  The reward is another long fast downhill stretch into Penticton.  Time to prep for the marathon!

T2  10:17

Again I don't recall what took me so long.  I changed into my run outfit.  I applied sunblock.  I used the Port-a Potty briefly.

Run:  4:52:55

This a single out and back to Okanagan Falls.  I ran great during the first 13 miles.  I caught up with one of my coaches on the run and we kept pace to the turnaround.  I hit the special needs and ate another bag of salty chips, a Gu gel, Honey Stinger waffle.  Unfortunately Coach decided to stay near this turnaround to run and encourage other Ironteam members as they came by later in the day and night.  So I was left to run the remainder of the marathon on my own.  At this point, I started to suffer from GI distress.  I felt very gassy and eventually had to hit the Port-a Potty.  I didn't feel like eating or drinking so that started to impact me as well.  Severe fatigue hit and I started to feel dizzy.  In analyzing what happened, I think I came off the bike in good shape.  I didn't feel like drinking more Ironman Perform, since I had been drinking that on the bike.  So I had taken water and Pepsi during the run.  I also ate watermelon from the aid stations.  ( cleanliness?)  So I think I probably suffered from hyponatremia and possibly some sort of GI malabsorption.  This led to one of my slower marathon times.  I ended up taking longer and longer walk to run ratios.  I initially walked the aid stations only.  Then I started walking up hills and every aid station.  Eventually I walked up hills, sometimes, downhill, and about every half mile.  At mile 24 or so, I ran into my head coach, who asked me how I was doing.  I said, "Not good."  He encouraged me and said it's all downhill to the finish.  Unfortunately as I approached the finish line along the lake side, the IM run course takes a left turn and you have to run an out and back.  Running away from the finish was psychologically painful.  A bystander encouraged me and said if I hurry, I will come in under 13 hours.  Eventually I reached the turn-around and ran back and over the finish line!  Mission accomplished.  I gave a military salute as I crossed the finish line.

Total time: 12:57:39

Final thoughts:

1) Great course.  Great fan support.  I would have loved to return to Penticton for a future Ironman.
2) I loved my Team in Training Ironteam experience.  Great coaches, mentors, and teammates.  I raised over $6000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I will return for another season with Ironteam in 2013.
3) I need to fine-tune my nutrition.  I probably need to eat more on the bike, because I have a hard time with my digestion during the run. I probably need to force myself to keep drinking the electrolytes / Perform drink and avoid Pepsi.  ( I had a similar GI problem during Full Vineman in 2011).
4) Finally, I am now 3 years after ACL reconstruction.  My ACL has been fine.  I am running well.  I still get more soreness in my Right ( repaired) knee.  I missed my knee checkup with my Ortho surgeon, since I was so busy over the summer.  I still have IM #7 and #8 coming up in November, as well as my Fall and Winter marathons.  I will probably check my knees in the Spring.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ironman # 5 Coeur D'Alene

Race Report:

I am training for IM Canada this year, so CDA was a training race.  It will be my main race for 2013, so it was also a good scouting mission for CDA 2013.  Since I'm in the midst of Ironman training, I did not taper for CDA, so my slower times probably are a factor of that and the windy, choppy conditions during the swim and bike.

Coeur D'Alene is beautiful.  I felt like I was in a National Park.  The lake looked very peaceful and serene.  I checked the water a few days before race day and it seemed cold, but tolerable.  The town is small, but has nice restaurants, bars, and cafes.  The surrounding roads and countryside are bicyclist and runner friendly.  The town seems to really support Ironman athletes.  The weather was warm, but not too hot.  We did have thunderstorms rolling through the days leading up to race day.  Perhaps because of the storms, it seemed a bit humid, but definitely not as bad as Louisville.

Race Day:

Swim: 1:54:34

This was the toughest part of the day for me.  I had been slacking off on my practice swims, concentrating on cycling and running instead.  I got a few ocean swims in, so I thought I was prepared for a nice pleasant lake swim.  I did not take into account very cold and choppy water conditions.  I started off to the far right side of the course and towards the back of the pack.  That was appropriate for me since I know I am a slower swimmer ( usually around 1:30 for 2.4 miles)  The cold water shock hit me and the mass start caused an initial "stressful" situation.  The good news is that I was able to gather myself and not panic.  It got better after the first quarter mile.  The first loop of this 2 loop swim went well.  The chop did not seem bad during this first loop.  It was frustrating though as I came on to the beach, that a few swimmers were turning to the right, towards T1 since they had finished 2 loops already!

Loop 2.  Cold and Colder.  The problem with being a slow swimmer in cold water is the negative feedback loop you get into.  The slower you are, the more time in the cold water and the colder you get as your core temp starts to drop.  The more your core temp drops, the slower your neurons fire which will slow down your mentation, your reflexes, and your muscular movements.  This leads to even slower swimming, leading to more time in the cold water and further drops in core temp....
Throw in the wind and the chop and now things get really challenging.  The chop makes it more difficult to site and see buoys.  It makes it difficult to breathe.  I swallowed quite a bit of water.  I found myself altering my stroke and raising my head out of the water in order to breathe and in order to site.  All this makes for a very slow 2nd loop.  By the time I got out of the water and into T1, my fingers were numb and I had difficulty putting on my bike gear.  This led to a 10 min T1.

Bike: 6:43:24

After getting on the bike, I still felt cold and had difficulty taking deep breaths.  I might have gotten some water in my lungs.  I didn't feel very well, but I hoped things will improve.  You go through the town of CDA and then an out and back along the lakeshore ( which also happens to be the run course).  There are a few rolling hills on the out and back. This first part you just get into your cycling rhythm and start taking in some hydration.  You go through CDA again and then you hit US 95 around mile 15.  Now it's time to get to work on this long out and back on US 95. You have a significant climb around mile 17-19 and another one at mile 23-26, but they were manageable.  Then several more rolling hills until the turnaround around mile 36.  The way out we had a significant headwind that made for tough climbing.  The good news is that it made the return trip to CDA easier and faster.  The weather was still cool during this first bike loop.  I enjoyed riding through some beautiful country.  Back into CDA there was a lot of cheering crowds and excitement.  Then it was time for the out and back along the lakeshore into Special Needs.  I sat down and ate some chips and nuts.  Took in a Gatorade G1 and some FRS.  Then it was back in the saddle again.  Go through CDA and back to US 95 for the second loop.  This time the climbs seemed much harder.  The sun was coming out and it was getting warmer as well.  You're hitting the hills at around mile 76-78 and 81-84.  Turnaround around mile 91 and I forgot to mention this during the first loop, but you hit the hills from the other side on the way back into CDA.  So you get one last big climb around mile 101-104.  Then it's a fast downhill into CDA.  Unfortunately there is a narrow section where you have to bike on the shoulder of the road and it is a no passing zone!
I felt great and had a lot of energy going into T2.  Spent 5 min and then it was time to run.

Run: 4:48:00

The run was very scenic and had a lot of crowd support.  The aid stations were well staffed and supplied.  I enjoyed the run very much and it is my favorite Ironman marathon so far.  The temp was in the low to mid 70's by now.  I tried to run in the shade whenever possible.  I used water at the aid stations to cool down.  One bad thing was they ran out of sponges very quickly.  I got a sponge at the first aid station, but all the subsequent stations ran out.  I was fine until mile 4, just the usual legs of "brick" sensation.  Around mile 4 a significant incline / uphill section begins.  At this point I had pain at the base of my right 5th toe with every step I took.  Even walking was painful.  I was sure I had a blister, but I did not want to stop.  I took more walk breaks and tried to put less pressure on my right foot by altering my gait.  I also prayed the rosary.  This has been something I do during my marathons and prior Ironman races.  It usually helps me ignore pain and discomfort and distracts me from the monotony of running "endless" miles.  It took a while, but it worked.  My foot pain was gone by mile 12.  I was actually able to start running again, and walking just the aid stations and the steep inclines.  The run course is 2 loops, with special needs around mile 13.  I again had chips, Gatorade G1, FRS, and Peanut Butter GU.  I ran a negative split during this 2nd loop.  The last 4 miles I imagined running with my daughter who is on her High School XC and Track team.  If anyone overheard me talking to my imaginary running partner during those last 4 miles they might have thought I had heat stroke.  But I ran the fastest last 4 miles ever for any of my marathons... easily 8 min/miles.  I finished the Ironman on an emotional and physical high.  Not bad considering the day started with a "crappy" swim.  I checked my feet after the race and to my surprise they were fine... no blisters!

Finish: 13:41:40

Overall I am satisfied with my effort considering the challenges I faced and the fact that this race was just a long training day.  I am looking forward to tackling CDA again in 2013.

As an aside I just heard about the competitor that died from the IM CDA swim.  My condolences to his family.  Ironman is never easy and the swim was very challenging.  I train in the Pacific Ocean and deal with waves and surf.  I have swam Alcatraz twice.  This CDA swim reminded me of the cold waters of Alcatraz.