Skip to content

Gary Schmidt, You are an Ironman!

November 30, 2012

14 hours, 17 minutes and 13 seconds after the canon went off over Tempe Town Lake I heard those famous words from Mike Reilly, the voice of Ironman…  “From Waterloo, Illinois…  Gary Schmidt….   You are an Ironman!”

Somewhere during the course of the marathon I stopped referring to Ironman Arizona as my first and started calling it my only (We’ll see…).  As so many people do, I found myself in the “dark place” and was hating what I was doing.  I wanted to be done.  Why would I do such a thing?  I just wanted to stop moving.

FYI…  Ironman is hard.  Harder than I thought.  I had always thought that if I couldn’t run, at least I’d be able to walk.  Well, when walking hurts more than running, you find yourself in quite a pickle.

Oh, and one other thing… never, NEVER, think “I got this, no problem.”  Cause before you know it, you will be on the pavement bleeding and lucky not to be in an ambulance.


7:00 AM
 - Bang!

swim - Dean Ryan Photo

  The canon signals the start of Ironman Arizona.  I started towards the middle and the back of the pack.  My goal was to remain calm and just take it easy.  I knew – or at least hoped – that I would be far more nervous signing up for this race a year ago than I would be waiting in that 63* water for the start of the race, and I was right.  I was remarkably calm.  With my full wetsuit, neoprene cap and booties, the water felt comfortable to me and I had no problems breathing and taking it easy.  The IMAZ swim course is not straight and you swim out towards the rising Arizona sun.  This made sighting a little bit of a challenge.  I swam right in line with the buoys or even to the inside of them and just plugged along.  There definitely was some contact, especially under the bridge and at the turns, but it wasn’t terrible.  The worst part of the swim was that my legs started cramping.  Any time I really needed to kick, one of them would cramp up.  I knew this would affect me later in the day and (spoiler alert) it did.  Aside from the cramps, I had a good swim.  My split was 1:24:03.  Not fast by swimming standards, but for me this was solid.  A sign of how well I did in a triathlon swim is how much breast stroke I did and during this swim, I did very little.  The time spent sweating in my wetsuit at my local YMCA pool working on sighting did the trick.

I was a little dizzy and out of it when I got out of the water and given the cramps there was no telling what my blood glucose would be…  99.  Well, that’ll work.  I had been running low all night before the race, so I was concerned how I would do in the swim.  I was around 65 when I woke up and cut some off my planned bolus for breakfast.  By 6:30, I was comfortably up around 200.  I ate one GU before the start without a bolus and unhooked my pump for the swim.  I nearly dropped too far, but it worked out and I was good to go.

IMAZ syringes

After testing 99 and just about to head off on a 112 mile ride followed by a marathon, I did something crazy…  a 5.8 unit insulin shot.  I was following an insulin plan from THE MAN Cliff Scherb which included a shot in transition 1 followed by decreased basal rates through the day.  The plan worked perfectly and Type 1 Diabetes was barely a factor in my day.

Off on the bike.  I instantly felt the affects of the leg cramps.  My calves were tight and never fully loosened up.  I just couldn’t get comfortable.  The bike course at IMAZ is a 3 loop out and back course.  It’s a long gradual up hill on the way out and a long gradual downhill on the way back.  On the first lap the light wind was in my face and made for slow going.  It changed around for the last two laps, but wasn’t bad at all.  Flat courses always sound good, but it means you will be PEDALING.  No coasting here.

So, there I am cruising along on my second lap out to the turn around.  I had a decent swim and with my projected bike time, I’ll have no problem getting under my 14 hour goal.  “I got this, no problem”.  I had just stared in on a Powerbar and was sitting up with my right-hand on the horn and took a bite.  The next thing I know, I hit a road reflector (they stick up about an inch and run along the white and yellow lines).  I remember seeing my front wheel go 90 degrees and bam!  I was on the ground.

Oh. My. God.  Did that just happen?  It’s amazing how quickly you can go from riding a bike to being on the pavement.  I took stock of my injuries.  A scrape on the palm of my hand left hand.  Scrapes and cuts on my left forearm including a dime size… let’s call it a… hole near my elbow.  Oh my.  Scrapes and cuts near my left knee.  Bleeding, but not bad.  I skidded on my pump, but it appeared to be fine.  Dexcom was fine too.  Didn’t hit my head and didn’t tear my shorts.  Ok.  The bike?  I completely expected to see the front wheel bent, but it and everything else appeared perfectly ok.  Back on the bike I went.  I held my hand over the “hole” and it quickly clotted, so I was good to go there.  Holy Hell.  Did that really just happen?  My day could’ve been over.  DONE.  Whew.  This happened around mile 48.  I missed the first aid at the 50-ish mile aid station, so I rode onto the turn around (mile 55 or so) and stopped and had an EMT – who happened to have Type 1 Diabetes – wrap my left forearm.  Strangely enough I felt better after the wreck than I did before and now I was even more determined to push on and finish this thing.

post wreck - Dean Ryan

My bike split was 6:41:02.  I expected to be a bit faster, but given the nature of the course and the fact that I freakin’ wrecked(!) the time was fine and still gave me plenty of time to finish and possibly still get under 14 hours.

pump scratches from wreckI got through the bike-to-run transition quickly and headed out for the marathon.  I felt good initially and was running right at my normal easy pace (a little under 10:00/mile), but I quickly realized that it was far more painful to walk than it was to run.  This was going to be a problem.  You always think during these types of events that if all else fails, I’ll just be able to walk.  Now, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do that.  The leg cramps during the swim were seriously affecting me now.  The run course consists of three 8.7 mile loops around Tempe Town Lake.  I was able to run most of the first lap.  When I stopped at the aid stations, it hurt to walk.  My calves were painfully tight and made walking difficult.  The second lap had about half and half running and walking and soon I realized that I would be faced with a 8.7 mile walk to the finish.  Hello “dark place”.  Once I passed the finish area and saw Mindy and all of the awesome Insulindependence support crew I headed off for what would be a very long walk.  I’m not a speed walker, so figuring out how to walk quickly and keep moving was not easy.  I found that I could keep up a 15:00/mile pace if I really tried.  This is the point, where I just wanted to stop.  Seriously.  All I wanted to do was stop moving.  This is where the mental side takes over and you just keep going.  Do. Not. Stop.

With a few miles to go, I met up with a guy from L.A. who was also walking due to some back issues.  I’m a talker during races, so it was nice to match pace with somebody to pass the time and get out of the “dark place”.  With about a mile to go, I told him that I needed to run a bit and get myself together for the finish.  You HAVE to run the finish shoot.  ;-)

At a little after 9:15 pm, I made the final turn onto Rio Salado Parkway to head to the finish.  I managed to see Mindy (I have a bad history of this) and high-fived the IN group and others in the crowd and heard those amazing words – “You are an Ironman”.

I battled leg cramps during the swim.  I wrecked my bike.  I could barely walk the marathon, but I did it.  I am an Ironman.

finish - Dean Ryan

Numbers

April 27, 2012

6:10 – Time my alarm went off this morning.

99 – Sweet BG

194 – Ugh.  Two things:  I AM 6’4″.  I need to drop about 10 to get down to my ideal race weight.

7:30 – Time I’m planning to start swimming.

-50% – Basal adjustment for 2 hours for swimming.

23 – grams of carbs.

.65 – a little bolus to cover carbs 30 minutes before swimming.

134 – Pre-swim BG.  Not bad.

22 – a few more grams of carbs to get me through.

2400 – yards swam

89 – Post-swim BG.  Pretty good, but would prefer to have it a little higher just to be safe.

4 – Number of units to cover post-swim spike and post-swim food.

 

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers.  The life of a Type 1 Diabetic.  And this was all between 6 and 9 am.

Oh, one more…

4 – Number of months since my last post.

 

I’ve got a LOT to write about.  Stay tuned…

 

Timex Run Trainer (R.I.P. Garmin 305)

December 28, 2011

After many, many miles of running with my trusty Garmin Forerunner 305, it recently kicked the bucket.  I used RunKeeper on my iPhone for a while and I like it, especially for programming intervals and for the automatic posting aspect, but just can’t live without a GPS watch.

Taking advantage of a $50 mail-in rebate, I purchased a Timex Run Trainer.  I did quite a bit of research considering reviews, functions (GPS, customizability, waterproof, HR monitor), and price point, and the TRT won out for me.

 

The TRT is pretty large compared to the newer Garmin watches, but I’m ok with the size of it and prefer actual buttons to some sort of touch interface.  I’m still learning how to use this thing.  It can be customized a million different ways, which naturally leads to the complexity.  Everything can be setup on the watch itself or downloadable software can be used to do the same thing much more quickly.  The TRT uploads to TrainingPeaks instead of using its own proprietary software, such as Garmin Connect.  I’ve used TP a bit in the past, but with the new watch I’ll move exclusively to TP starting in 2012 (sorry DailyMile.com).

I went out for my first run with the TRT today and had no issues with it.  The pace and distance seemed to be right on and the HR monitor also functioned just fine.  Here are a few more snapshots.

It looks ridiculously huge from this up-close angle (That’s what she said)…

 

Looking a little more normal here.  Kona agrees…

And here’s a quick look at it with 4 lines of data during my run (HR, current pace, distance, time)…

 

I’ll try to post more in the future…  once I figure out how to use it!

 

Trend Spotting

December 14, 2011

So, I’m trying to get serious about this whole thing and actually review my Dexcom data after runs.  Here’s a look at everything required to review all the data from a run at some point in the future to try and identify trends.  Quite a bit going on, eh?

Let the journey begin!

November 21, 2011

I had always been on the fence about doing a full Ironman.  I respect the amount of time it takes to train and how that affects my family.  I even wrote about it here just over a year ago – “IM or Maybe Not”.

Earlier this year I started to consider doing a non-WTC event, specifically Rev3 – Cedar Point, but for whatever reason, and almost any triathlete can understand this, hearing the words “Gary Schmidt, you are an Ironman” for my first (maybe only) full 140.6 mile Iron-distance race means something.  It’s silly, but it’s important… to me.

Now, let’s go back to July of this year.  I was talking about this with my wife, Mindy.  We talked about Rev3 and also about IM Arizona and the words “I think you should do Ironman Arizona” came out of her mouth.  That’s all it took to really convince me.

Today the journey to Ironman officially begins.  The general entry spots for IMAZ sold out online in 10 minutes.  I was a nervous wreck this morning and as 12:00 pm Tempe, AZ time rolled around I’m lucky I didn’t spontaneously combust.  I’ve even had dreams about having problems registering.  Just awful.  I’m sure that I will be a million times more calm while I’m treading water in Tempe Town Lake next November 18th.  I got right in at noon and after 3 minutes of nervous typing (and answering a lot of questions with “na”) I’m registered for IMAZ.

So, next year is set:

Jan 22nd – Carlsbad Marathon

Feb 24-25th – Ragnar Relay Del Sol

May 5th – Big Shark Vindo Fondo – 86.5 mile ride

May 20th – Gateway Olympic Distance Triathlon

August 5th – Boulder 70.3

Sept 22nd – Denver Marathon

Nov 18th – Ironman Arizona

St. Louis Rock n’ Roll Marathon 2011

October 27, 2011

I did it.

I ran my 5th marathon on a whim last Sunday. This is something I would normally never dream of doing. I had trained all Summer long for Chicago, but after warm temps and a disappointing 4:00:12, I had a crazy idea and found myself, 5 days later, looking at the course and elevation profile of the STL RnR marathon.

Two weeks after missing my first sub-4 hour marathon by 13 seconds, could I do it?  Could I set another PR and get under 4 hours?  Common sense says no, but I signed up and gave it a try anyway.

I didn’t speak much about trying to get sub 4.  I didn’t want to hear any negative talk (also known as common sense), so I kept fairly quite about it.  I decided this time to start with the 4 hour pace group and just see what happened. I told myself (and my wife) that I would be satisfied with anything under 4:15.  I was about to pull a little stunt and simply finishing with a respectable time and not injured was all that was really important.

I started with the 4 hour group in corral 7 and immediately they were going too slow, so with the help of my trusty Garmin 305, I pushed on myself. I attacked the downhills when I could and ran a very comfortable 9:00-9:05 minute per mile pace (I ran 8:45s at Chicago thru 18 miles).

I felt like I was pretty far ahead of the 4 hour group when, suddenly around mile 15, I heard the unmistakable sound of about 20 runners running at the same pace begin to overtake me. Hmm?  I was ahead at this point and was surprised to see them. I was pretty sure they were banking time with a few considerable hills yet to come.

I hooked up with the group and pushed on through some very tough miles. 18 through 20 or so was a GRIND.  Relentless, never-ending, slow climb. Just when i thought it was done, I turned a corner to find it continued up.  The second half of this course is way more challenging  than the first.

I made it until around mile 23 and then I had to start taking short walk breaks. I was still on pace, so I’d take a quick break and then run a bit faster to keep the 4 hour mark within reach.

I watched my Garmin as my average pace slowly dropped from 9:02 to 9:03 to 9:04. It was starting to slip away. Was it going to happen again?!  I couldn’t let it happen again.  I couldn’t get this far and give up. I ran, took a quick walk, ran, took a  quick  break,  repeat.  The  4  hour  pacers  were still well within sight.

Mile 25. It was virtually all downhill from here and looking at my watch I had 10 minutes left. I pushed through the last mile and actually yelled “No!” at the cramp the appeared in my left calf as I made the last turn towards the finish. As Jens Voigt would say “shut up legs.”  With about a tenth of a mile to go there was my amazing, supportive wife and my little boy.  Mindy gave me the very serious “GO” look with a thumbed “get going” motion…

3:59:14

I did it.  Unbelievable. After 3 serious attempts at a sub 4 hour marathon, I made it. 4:01:30, 4:05, 4:00:12, 3:59:14. I’m so glad to have this monkey off my back. I also did it in incredible (don’t try this at home) fashion. 2 marathons in 2 weeks. The second faster than the first. A sub-8 hour double marathon!!

3:59:14.  Yes!!!!!!!!!!

Chicago Marathon 2011

October 12, 2011

Going into the 2011 Chicago Marathon, I had a very specific goal in mind – one that I had trained for all Summer long – a 3:50 marathon. I had missed a sub 4 hour marathon my last 2 attempts by minutes. I knew I could do it, so I pushed myself and set an even faster goal. Going into the race, even the Saturday before, I felt comfortable and confident that I could do it. The limiting factor was going to be how well I could handle the less than ideal warm temps in Chicago on October 9th.  The temperature at the start was around 64 and pushed into the mid 70′s by the time I finished.  Sounds beautiful, right?  Not for a marathon runner.

4:00:12.

Not only did I not make my goal of 3:50, I missed a sub 4 hour marathon by 13 seconds. Just one less walk break and I would’ve done it. Disappointment. It’s very easy after a race like this to go back in my mind and think that I could’ve done it. Just ONE less walk break… but I know that’s not how it works. I didn’t want to stop and walk, but I had to. 4:00:12 was everything I had this past Sunday. I gave it everything up “Mount Roosevelt” at the end as I fought off the cramps one last time. That was all I had and I have no regrets.

I absolutely cruised through the first half, right at my goal pace of 8:46 per mile.  I was literally closing my eyes and going with the flow of the pace group.  It was easy.  I was conserving as much energy as I could.  I wasn’t even taking in much of the unbelievable crowd that turns out every year for the race.  I was focused.  I usually joke and talk to as many people as possible during these races, but not this time.  I was in the zone.

Once I got to mile 14 I was taking stock of where I was and how I felt.  I didn’t feel bad, but I certainly didn’t feel perfect.  This was crunch time and I was able to hold it together from 14 – 18, but then the wheels quickly came off.  In the early going, I was running through the aid stations, while still doing a good job of staying hydrated and cool.  Now it was time to walk a bit during the aid stations.  Soon after than it was time to walk when the cramps started to take over.  I referred to this a “cramp intervals”.  Go as far as I could, let the cramp (calf or inner thigh) take over, stop, walk it off and then run again.  I couldn’t even make it all the way through the last mile.  Awful.

I had 10 minutes in the bank through 18 miles and I had to let that go.  I thought that I still maybe would make it even though I saw a few folks with 4:00 pace signs on their shirts.  I gave it one last go at the very end and just came up 13 seconds short.

So it goes.  I never felt warm or over-heated at all, but at those temperatures, I just can’t run as fast and as far as I could if it would’ve been 50 degrees.  While I’m still disappointed with my race, I know deep down that I did what I could given the conditions.

I did have a very good blood glucose management race.  Wasn’t even a factor.  The only thing I had to do was completely turn off my pump around mile 20, because I was starting to have trouble eating and taking in calories, so I couldn’t risk going low.  That worked out well and I finished around 120 or 130.

I do want to give a shout out to my wonderful wife for being there and being supportive throughout the race.  She has got Chicago Marathon spectating licked!  She was at miles 3, 12, 22 and even ran over to catch me at 23.  I couldn’t wait to see her at 22.  Unfortunately, I had to tell her that the wheels had fallen off, but most importantly I wanted her to know that I was ok and would make it in fine.  I’m smart about not pushing too hard and listening to my body.  A sub 4 hour marathon is important to me, but not as important as my family.

I’ll get ‘er next time…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.