Sunday, October 31

Calm before the storm and weekend recap

Tomorrow I start the OS with a bang – a Functional Threshold Test (FTP) on the bike Drainer down in the Pain Cave. It will consist of a warm-up then 2x20’ (2’) – a 42 minute, puke inducing, all out effort. For the next 20 weeks I will be spending many miserable hours sweating downstairs in the PC. Workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are on the Drainer. Run workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday will most likely be DeadMill sessions, but I will try to get my Sunday runs outside as much as possible.

To get myself ready mentally tor the FTP test, I have done 3x8’s, 2x10’s and 2x12’s on Tues, Thurs, and Sat and I can honestly say 2x20’s scare the crap out of me! I just may need that barf bucket before I get done…..

The other thing I was working on this past week was a 100 pushup challenge. I tested on Monday then tried to get all 3 daily workouts in a row starting Wednesday. Day 1 and 2 went OK and I was able to hit my targets according to the plan (week 3, column 3). Friday didn’t go so well. I knew I should have waited till the weekend but was anxious to get done (stooped). The other difference on Friday was sticking to the 120 second recovery breaks. On day 1 and 2 I had given myself 15 to 20 minutes between sets – made it easier. When I asked the EN forum about it, I was scolded for my pansy-ass efforts…. I think at that point I knew I was going to fail the week and have to repeat. I did reasonable well and hit 4 of the five sets: 22, 30, 20, 20, and 20. Thing is, the last 20 was supposed to be 28 and it was impossible to get a single pushup past 20. The entire last 20, my arms were limp like spaghetti, and my core quivered and shook with every effort. I got half way up on 21 and collapsed. My shoulders and arm are still sore from the effort. In my defense, prior to Monday’s 30 pushups, I had not done a single pushup in nearly a year, and even then it was not more than a few times. This past week in 3 sessions and test I completed 332! Next week I need to get to 340 for me to move on to week 4.

Run Strong

Wednesday, October 27

How hard can that be?

I looked at the pre-season schedule to see what I could do to get ready for the Out Season (OS).  I just finished a marathon and only had 1 week to prepare, but the sheet had 4 weeks of buildup.  So, where do I start?  Even week 3, the toughest week, didn’t seem all that difficult – I decided I’d begin there. 

The bike session was simple enough, WU 10’, MS 3x8’ (5) @ z4, CD.  I mean really – it will be less than 45 minutes.  I can do most anything for 45 minutes, right?  Three minutes into my first interval I realized I was in trouble.  I thought I started EASY, but now I’m I feel like I’m gonna die and I still have 4 ½ minutes to go!  Somehow, the 5 minute recovery only took 2 minute (seemed like it anyway) and I was back mashing the pedals.  Second interval went better – started even easier (wimpier) and had better cadence.  By the end of the third, I was done – I mean totally spent – toast – wiped out – finished!  And it looks so easy on paper…….hmmmm.

I am beginning to wonder about the test next week.  That will be a KILLER.  After warm-up, it is 2x20’ (2) @ z4 effort.  That’s 40 minutes going as hard as I can with next to no break at all.  The general plan is to go so hard you puke just as you end!  I keep reading about how you need to have a trash can by the bike just in cased.  Nastiness……

Pushup Challenge – yeah that’s hard too.  I tested yesterday and managed to get 30 good form pushups before I collapsed right there.  Good thing there wasn’t a puddle of drool – though I suspect when I get farther along there might be…… yuk! 

Today at work I started the program.  According to the rules, 30 pushups has me at level 4 (what ever that means) starting on week 3.  So today I did 14, 18, 14, 14, and 20 for a total of 80.  The last 20 were hard.  I wonder how sore I will be come tomorrow……

Tonight is a run night.  The plan calls for 50’ at z2 with 5x20” strides.  Most likely it will be around 6 miles.  I just hope it isn’t pouring rain when I get home.  Unlike some others (Caratunk Girl), I don’t enjoy running in the rain all that much.

Run Strong

Monday, October 25

But I can't read it....

New look.  Had some off-the-record comments that my blog was too hard to read with the transparent background, so..... I had to do some minor renovations.  Critiziems, both constructive and critical are welcome.  Of course, if no one actually reads it, well then it is a mute point. 

Hey Mandy, no need to write sympathy comments.  I'm a grownup now and I can take the isolation of not having validation.  :-)

No, training tonight.  tomorrow I do have another pre-OS bike session: 3x8' (5') @ Z4.  Also plan to start 100 pushup challange tomorrow as well.  I will do the test in the AM and the bike intervals after work.

.... I wonder if anyone has seen the fluffy bunnies tonight? 

Run Strong

Sunday, October 24

Post Mary Noodling

Today was a run day. My first since MDI. Felt good to get out and feel the rhythm of the feet. After a sleeping late and several cups of coffee, I put my season training plans away and dressed for cool weather running. It was 48* with a light NW breeze – perfect for me. Shorts, tee, arm-warmers gloves and a beanie to start.

The plan was to go 20 minutes easy and turn around. Well, as I crossed the bridge towards UMO, I decided I should see how far it was to the UMO track. Next week I start my Out Season (OS) and will need to do a 5K vDot test and that would be a great place to do it. Twelve and a half laps – nearly all out on a uniform surface, no hills and wind not a one-way factor. When I got there it was empty so I started around. My Garmin chirped mile 3 on the back stretch and I exited on the other end. I probably should have gone back the same way but wondered what the distance was the other way (Stillwater to Bennoch).

It felt so good not to be concerned about heart rate or pace for a change. I sped up a little, then slowed way down for a bit. It was like since I didn’t have to stay on pace, I intentionally altered it – because I could. Most of the time when running I get so ‘in the moment’ of running I forget to look around. Today it was just the opposite. Just noodling along, checking out Halloween decorations, watching crows arguing over some road kill and the like. Unstructured running. That’s what got me started so many years ago. Sure I like the training and data tracking and all. But every now an again, I need to go out and just run. Today was that day.

Maybe I should insert ‘Noodling’ days into all my training. It would be nice to noodle at least twice a month. Hhhmmmmm….

Yesterday I did a demo set of intervals on the trainer. Carole came down to join me. She was doing a 4 mile walk-run on the DeadMill. We had Bourne Supremacy queued up for distraction. I don’t think either of us saw any ‘fluffy bunnies’ but we really didn’t expect to either…… After a 5 minute warm-up I hit the interval button on my Joule and quickly spun up to speed. The first 4 minutes seemed too easy but that feeling didn’t last past minute 6. By then I was getting to understand what I was in for…. I knew nothing. At 10 minutes I found myself looking at the clock about every 20 seconds. Finally I hit the 12 minute mark – gasping for air. Four minutes later I was starting my second 12 minute session. This time I felt the burn start much earlier. I tried not to see the clock till I though I was close to the end. No way! That had to be more than 8 minutes! Must be something wrong with the clock. By 10 minute mark I was looking at the clock every 10 second. I didn’t think I was going to hold on till the end. Of course I did. I can’t quit. I hardly even started.

Still learning about the trainer and the power meter. That will be a long slow process I think. At this point the data are not important. mostly just trying to get to a place so I am ready to test next Monday. Protocol for the test is WU then 2x20’ (2). Meaning start with a warm up, then two 20 minute intervals with a 2 minute recovery in between. My normalized average power for the 42 minute session will be my FTP (functional threshold power) that will guide all my training until I retest 4 weeks later.

Run Strong

Friday, October 22

Friday’s are long…

That’s because I drive to Ashland for the day as part of my job. I go there to provide technical support to the staff in the field office. Five hours of driving…. Seven hours of work. Like I said, long day.

The big news is I joined Endurance Nation for online coaching and support as I begin the long training cycle leading up to Ironman Lake Placid, aka IMLP or IMUSA. More about EN another time. Suffice it to say their methods are different than the typical ‘build your base’ that I have always followed but I drank the Kool-Aid and I liked it.

What I did want to talk about is my ‘Pain Cave’ where I will be spending a lot of time – 20 weeks worth starting November 1. I have a treadmill I bought several years ago, but for long course training I needed to add a bike trainer. I figured I would gain more in terms of functional speed, power, and endurance by training with power than I would if I spent twice as much on a fancy looking carbon fiber tri-bike.

The trainer is the Cycleops Fluid 2 – got it at Bar Harbor Bike last week. Joe gave me a great deal and saved me like 15% off list! The last sweet addition is my Power Tap Pro+ power meter. Got it from They put it in a Velocity Deep V with bladed spokes and wheel covers to make a pseudo disk wheel. Yeah, lots of $$ for all that bike bling. I tell ya, building an outfit for long course tri racing is EXPENSIVE!

Since the marathon, I have not run at all. I did 25 minutes on the trainer last night mostly to try an figure out how to use the PM and the WKO+ software. With 1 more week before my OS (20 week out season) starts, I plan to do a few short intervals on the trainer and several 20 to 30 minute runs. If the weather is reasonable, I’ll run outside. But if it is 43* and raining, I am going to have to put the time in on the DeadMill – uugggg.

Next update late Sunday or Monday, till then….

Run Strong

Tuesday, October 19

Knees Up, Drive Home... MDI Race Report

That was my mantra for the final mile …knees up, drive home…knees up, drive home…. By the downhill stretch at mile 25, my legs were so fatigued that I needed to constantly remind myself to keep pushing. Otherwise I would resort to the ‘marathon shuffle’ that is often seen late in a race. My PR was on the line and Boston qualifying time could also be in jeopardy. If I got to the finish and missed both goals because I didn’t try hard enough, I would be brutally disappointed in my lack of grit and determination. To be truly satisfied, regardless of the outcome, I must be completely spent at the finish line – to the point where I couldn’t go farther unless I was walking.

Saturday afternoon, the day before the race, I drove to Bar Harbor in pouring rain. The rain continued all afternoon forcing me to wait and see if I could get one last easy run in. I really needed to run. My head was not where it should be pre-race. I was feeling apprehension about how to dress for weather, how to pace, etc. Finally at 5 PM the rain let up and out the door I went – not sure how far I’d go, just that I needed to get out and hit the mental reset button. My hotel is the starting line, so I ran the beginning of the course and wasn’t ready to turn around until the 2 mile mark. The moment I started back, the rain returned. Easy at first but it picked up in intensity reaching a steady hard rain by the time I returned to the hotel – drenched but mentally cleansed. The hot shower finished the process, leaving me in a calm, quiet space, free of the static and noise that plagued me all day.

I met my friends Brent and Lori at the pasta dinner. Brent is an avid boater and an intense competitor. He had signed up for MDI at my prodding only to develop a back injury mid-training. I could tell the minute I saw him that he was going to run. He didn’t quite know it yet, but I did – I could see it in his enthusiasm. Within minutes he was asking what kind of strategies would help if he was to run. The more we talked, the more hooked he became until he finally admitted he really wanted to try.

Wakeup was at 5 AM for coffee and my mandatory pre-race sandwich of PB&J on wheat. Local weather said 43* overnight warming to mid 50’s with clear skies, low humidity, wind from the NW at 10 to 15, perfect weather for running. My run kit included shorts, Crow singlet over a wicking tee, arm warmers, gloves, beanie and hydration belt. I pre-placed 3 water bottles on the course at miles 8, 13 and 19. I planned Gu for miles 5, 9, 13, 18, and 21.

Just outside my hotel room people were assembling and milling about. All filled with energy and enthusiasm as the sun rose on the day. I walked up and down the staging area several times looking for Brent but never found him. Maybe he reconsidered and wasn’t going to show up. Another friend was there – Roger Marquis. He and his son Hogan had been the guest speakers last night following the pasta dinner. They spoke of the “Wicked Long Run” they did for the American Cancer Society. The trip started in Maine and ended in Florida. It was just the 2 of them, 1 bike, and was otherwise unsupported. In all, they ran and biked 1,372 miles in just 27 days! Today, Roger’s plan was to pace 8 minute miles for any 3:30 hopefuls like myself. I planned to join him and see if I could keep up. That would give me a second marathon PR for the year and re-qualify me for Boston. For me, anything under 3:36 would be good for Boston, but I wanted more, I wanted to PR on one of the toughest marathon courses around – my ‘home’ race at MDI.

The air was filled with excitement as we waited for the cannon start. Bouncing on their toes, shaking out their arms, readjusting everything for the 3rd or 4th time. Then BOOM! In an instant nearly 1,000 people all start moving all a once, slowly at first but quickly accelerating to full strides. I fall into pace with Roger who is chatting about this and that. Within a few minutes, I see my pace is way too fast but my heart rate (HR) hasn’t caught up yet. The first mile ends as the we begin the first of many hills.

The race strategy I need to follow if I expect to do well requires me to manage my HR throughout the race. Keep it in the middle of zone 2 through mile 4. The bulk of the race, from mile 6 to mile 20, need to be run ‘in the box’. The ‘box’ is the high end of my aerobic capacity in upper zone 3. In other words, always be pushing. Going hard but not all out. Many of the hills will push me into zone 4 but I need to limit that as much as possible or I will fall apart around mile 21, just when I need my motor to be strong for the long hills at the end. It will be a balancing act between pushing up hills and holding down my HR. Too much either way will cause me to fall short of my goals for the day.

Well, Roger’s pace turns out to be too fast for me in the beginning. It will take me a mile or two to get to that pace and I know it. I say goodbye and watch him drift off ahead as we climb the hill past mile 1. Watching him pull away, I turn my thoughts inward – to be in the moment, focus on executing this race better than at any other time. I’ll need that focus to get me through.

Despite all the good intentions I still let my HR climb too high too often. I am not running ‘In the Box’ as I should be – not bad enough to wreck the race, but I know it would be best if I held back more, I can’t help it. I crest the long climb at mile 3 at the expense of miles late in the race but it feels good to just run. Miles 4 to 6 are fast – 7:40ish. The hill in Otter Creek spikes the HR again. Every time I do that I know that I’m squandering capital I will need later. Again and again I drive up the hills, 8 hills in the first 10 miles, but still I feel strong through the middle miles. Am I trying too hard? I don’t know yet….

Passing thru Northeast Harbor and the half way point, the route joins Somes Sound and a sustained headwind up the hill at 16. Running in the shade into the wind was cool Had it been longer I might have gotten chilled. In the second 10 miles there are 8 more hills. Including 2 particularly steep little buggers at 18 & 19. As I turn the corner at mile 20 towards Somesville, I can tell I spent too much ‘capital’ and I was going to really struggle up the final hills. Too much? Still not sure…..

Not very tall or steep, the long slow grade from 21 to 22 is a mental killer for me. As you start the incline the entire mile is visible – the view is of a long, long, way to go….. By now my pace has suffered and it is hard to hold 8:25 and that isn’t going to be good enough. The little dip at Echo Lake helped my pace but I was definitely struggling and there were 2 more climbs yet to go. It was tough, but I trimmed the pace to 8:15 temporarily. Then the steeper hill at 24 really slowed me almost to a shuffle so I went into a walk. I needed to. Just to the top, then back to running again. 8:45 and 8:58 for miles 24 and 25 because of the walking.

The last 1.2 miles is down hill and I gave it everything I had. Trying to hold onto 1 or both my goals. Knees up, drive home… knees up, drive home. Focus Steven. Knees up, drive home… knees up, drive home… I managed to hold a 7:21 pace for the last 11 minutes and crossed the line to hoops and cheers from the crowd as I fist-pumped my way to the line – the clock read 3:32:57! BQ Baby!

My finish was fantastic by any standards and I am extremely please with the result. It is good be able to re-qualify for Boston a second time this year. My only disappointment comes from my decision to drive too hard on the early hills. It cost me the second PR, missed it by 72 seconds. Time lost to fatigue from pushing too hard on the early and mid race hills. I was gambling with a loosing hand and it cost me the dearly. A PR at MDI is not something that many can get. The course is too tough. Hills in the beginning, through the middle and right up to the end. It is relentless with the hills.

MDI is one tough mother and I crushed it! Boston, here I come….. after a few days of rest of course.

Run Strong

Friday, October 15

Winding down

Final 5 miles last night- all Z1. The stars were out and it was a delightful 46*. Fifteen minutes after I got back I went to fire up the grill for a juicy steak and was surprised it was raining. The weather guy said it wouldn’t rain till late overnight. Glad I beat it home.

Forecast for Sunday's race is clear skies, with a light NW breeze at 10 mph. Temps at gun time 42* and likely 48* for my finish. They just don't make marathon weather any better than that. It's going to be an absolutely perfect day for a run!

Run Strong

Wednesday, October 13

Let the Beast Out

First I need to take care of some old business – the Pumpkinman Challenge mug.  I failed to include a picture in my race report, oops!  So here it is in all its glory.

It's a really is a nice mug.  Somebody went to great lengths in making these things.  It’s huge!  I didn’t actually measure it but I think is will hold 18 to 20 oz of your favorite grog. 

For me, the kewlest part was the total surprise to be one of the recipients.  I had no idea they had a category for Challenge finishers.  Best part for me was I only had to finish and not actually beat anyone to get the award.  Sweet!

The Taper

With only a few more days and 2 planned runs to go before the MDI Marathon, I knew I had to be cautious.  Most of my reading says to cut the volume but not the intensity.  The thing is, just about everyone says you have to take it easy on your taper to be fully recovered on race day.  It just isn’t possible to do both.  Me, I like the feeling I get in the last few weeks of training.  My long runs have morphed from easy paced zone 1 runs to near marathon pace zone 3 efforts.  And my mid distance runs are always tempo efforts.

During my taper, the long miles go from 24 to 20 and down to 16 miles two weeks before the race.  The Sunday 16 miler this year went perfectly as a race simulation.  The first 2 miles I wanted to keep my heart rate as low as possible, preferably in zone 1.   Miles 3 to 6 or so I focused on finding my comfort zone.  The one were I can go all day without any real effort.  In a marathon the next ten miles would be pushing but not hard – somewhere between the top of zone 2 and the middle of zone 3 – but for this race-sim, it was hard running from 6 to 16.  I worked to get my HR in the upper zone 3 and lower zone 4 and did a good job keeping it there.  The run went well, I nailed it.  I hit my targets at 2 miles, 6 miles and finished averaging just over 8 minute miles and no soreness.  It was a real confidence builder for the race next week.

Monday was a rest day and yesterday was my last strong effort.  I actually had planned it to be a recovery run after the race-sim, thinking I would need the rest.  But I reconsidered my plan since I wasn’t sore and I had that warm fuzzy feeling in my calves and thighs.  You know the tight fullness you get after a good hard run?  I really love that feeling.

The sun was down and it was fully dark when I went to get dressed to run.  Looking at the thermometer I realized that the night was going to be a brisk one.  Just before dark the temp was in the upper 50’s, now it was 43 and still dropping.  Better have long sleeves, gloves and a hat tonight I thought.

Out the door at 7:50, temp down to 42* with a 10 mph breeze from the NW.  The sky is crystal clear and the stars are brilliant.  Wow, what a nice night for a run.  I start easy knowing I have the big hill ( Island Ave
up to the Big Apple) as my first real warmup.  My feet feel light and legs are moving quick and effortless.  First mile at 8:45.   By mile 3.5 (turn-around) my average pace was down to 8:15 and I was ready to push hard all the way home.  Finished 7 miles in 56 minutes – a  cool 8:00 minute mile average.  Got to love that!

Run Strong

Sunday, October 10

First Posting: The long overdue race report

Pumpkinman Half Iron
September 12, 2010

Course review
Fresh off the sprint race, buoyed by a personally rewarding effort and result, I loaded my gear and headed out for a tour of the 56 mile bike route.  I had Gatorade, grapes, and Zone bars to hold me over till diner.  So off I went as I fired up the Garmin 276 GPS I borrowed from work preloaded the bike route to make it easier to follow.

I was looking for bad spots, sharp turns, and steep sections and most importantly, key flat spots for sucking down Gu without ending up over a guardrail or something awful.   A profile chart I built indicated 4 main climbs and descents, each seemed perfectly spaced to allow me to Gu at regular intervals between them.  First at mile 8, then at 15, 25, 35, and finally at 45.  Driving the route confirmed the locations for nutrition were good and without major issues.  The other thing I noticed was that only 1 climb (twice) was of any real consequence and the rest of the ride should allow me to stay aero and smooth.

Last minute adjustments
Back to the hotel and to 99’s for a diner of panko crusted haddock with asparagus, artichoke, roasted peppers and pasta – what an awesome prerace meal.  I spent a little time tinkering with the bike – adjusting the shifters, taped 6 Gu to my top tube (only 2 were Roctane – I had a few GI issues with them on the sprint), doubled the flat kit, removed all tools, and adjust the Speedfill system.  Finally up to the room to setup my outfit and get to bed.

Race Day
In all the races I have done, this was the first time I ever got a solid 7+ hours of un-interrupted sleep.  Up before 4AM for coffee and PBJ.  Dress and grab my ‘event’ bag then out the door at 5AM.  Getting there so early was nice.  I had plenty of time to be lazy, no rushing at all.  After setting up I wandered around looking for Carole’s colleague Jay from work.  We headed down to the lake for a warm-up.  The big change from the sprint course is how much longer the swim looked.  The buoys seemed to be much farther than I expected.

Swim – 41:49
No heroics today – at gun time instead of rushing out with the pack, I slowly walked in up to my waist then started to swim.  By then, the pack was out in front and I didn’t need to deal with all the coyotes and wolverines trying to shred my wetsuit and drown me!  That left me free to settle in and swim clean.  No panic breathing, just smooth easy swimming – very nice!  By the middle of the first lap the woman’s’ best were flying past but I was also getting by a few of my age groupers that were running out of gas.  Big cheers erupted from the crowd as I lapped around the beach.  Second lap was fairly quiet; all the real swimmers were long gone. 

T1 – 4:56
The hill is a killer and I chose to walk the steepest part again.  Despite the dip-pool I still had grass on my feet and it was a pain getting it off before fighting with the socks.  Next race I will bring my own dip tank and crate to sit on too. 

Bike – 3:01:43
The first 5 minutes I got caught up in the chase and my HR spiked before regaining control.  Downshift – spin up the cadence – relax into the aero bars and focus. The day was cool and overcast so I was glad I decided to wear a short-sleeve bike jersey over my tri-bibs.  I put it on under the wetsuit so it was damp to start.  The extra layer that covered the shoulders kept me from getting chilled.  Before I new it my first Gu break was here so I tried a Roctane – nasty.  Started burping as the incline grew as if to say “Hello, I’m that pasty shit you ate.  How do you like me now?”  Exactly why I only put 2 on the top-tube – that wont happen again.  By the long rolling flats from 14 to 18 I found my groove. Keeping aero, drinking every 15 minutes from my Speedfill, cadence stable at 85 to 90.  The relatively big climb at 20 was not as steep as I first though and didn’t drain my energy much.  Just kept the cadence up and let the speed take care of itself.  I knew I would get a 2 mile screaming downhill to make up ground.  At times I was clocking 36mph! 

Suddenly it seemed, I was on the second lap. But now my issue was I had to pee.  I had to pee really, really bad.  I thought about going on the bike – nah, maybe I should stop – nah, can’t do that either.  Look around, no other bikers, no houses, good place to go…. I try but it just doesn’t work on a bike seat.  Stand up and coast… still cant go….I try harder…Hah! Got a little… but it stopped.  Try again…. nothing. Damn!  OK, hold it till T2, it’s only another hour – this is gonna be tough!  By mile 45 where the course heads back, my bladder was so full that on every peddle stroke, each leg pressed against my bladder reminding me how bad I had to pee.  That was the hardest part of the bike!

T2 – 2:08
Off the bike and in.  The place was a total mess.  Shit everywhere.  Rack the bike, strip the extra jersey, guzzle half a Gatorade (yeah I still have to pee!), sneakers on and change my shades, grab my hydration belt and head out. 

Run – 1:58:19
First stop – nearest Port-O-Potty!  They had a row of them just outside the transition and I was glad.  I looked at my watch as I entered.  I urinated for 2:12!!! That’s longer than my bike-run transition.  I had to pee so bad would have filled both my bike shoes!  There was no way I could run carrying an extra 3 liters!  Ahhhh, much better! 

The first mile is rolling downhill and I made incredible time there clocking 7:30’s for the mile (I had 2 minutes to make up).  After that I tried to maintain 8:45 or so which went well for a while. The course was a double out and back so I got to see the lots of folks way in front and way behind.  Things were going excellent and I was on my second ‘out’ and as I shifted to coasting down following a climb to mile 10 I felt like my left hamstring got hit with a sledge hammer – Whack!  Stopped me dead in my tracks.  At first I couldn’t walk, then I crumpled in a pile with a massive cramp.  I tried to ease it, squeeze it, stretch it.  Several runners asked if they could help.  I assured them I’d manage.  The cramping worsened. Right quad, left calf then the right calf.  I thought I was done, bummer!  It dawned on me that sitting was a problem so I got back up, stood for a minute, most muscles started to relax – good!  But not the hamstring – bad!  Take a step, squeezing the tight spot, another step – good.  A minute or 2 later, I was walking better – drink Steven, drink.  I drained the last 12 oz I had.  Started to shuffle, things were working again.  It only took about 2 minutes to recover but it scared the crap out of me.  I really thought I was done for the day. 

The last mile was tough.  I really blew my wad in the middle miles and I should have known better.  A quarter mile from the finish was a steep little section that I could feel in my hamstring as soon as I hit the incline and forced me to walk to the top where a camera guy caught me.  I started to run again – there was no way I’d let him get away with a picture like that.  I rounded the corner and head down the hill in the finish chute, fist pumping and Yahooing all the way.  When I saw the clock, I couldn’t believe it – sub 6 hours!  In my wildest dreams I never would have thought I might break 6 hours.  What an awesome finish!

Final Time 5:49:05

They put on an excellent turkey dinner for the athletes.  As the awards started, I was getting ready to go.  I didn’t win anything, mid-packers like me never do.  But I stayed for a while, amazed by the finish times of the elites.  Then, to my surprise, they announced an award for those who did both the sprint and the half iron.  I was 1 of only 3 (that were still there) to get one.  It is an awesome black ceramic mug with a custom Pumpkinman logo surrounded by laurel with a 2010 Challenge Finisher inscription.  It has to be one of the most gratifying things I have ever received from a race!