Monday, November 10, 2008

Silverman Report

Whew!!! The Silverman is definitely a challenge and certainly earns it billing of "the toughest course in North America". Without further delay, here are the details of my training day:

Total calories out (calculated): 5812

Swim 1:20 max 152 avg 138

Bike 6:02 max 162 avg 145


The swim conditions vary widely. I swam at Boulder Beach (unprotected part of the course near the turnaround) the day before the race without a wetsuit. The water temperature was perfect and I was surprised at the reported reading. The water is very clear with 20 ft visibility and smooth as glass. Race day was quite different and lived up to all of the hype.

The course is L shaped (Imagine the “L” standing on its short leg with the long leg pointing to the left). The initial out section is with the current and reasonably fast. Every turn buoy is yellow, which helps with navigation. The long out and back section can be more challenging to navigate. Not only does it whitecap here, but the narrow distance between the out and back buoys makes them very easy to confuse when sighting. The long return section was definitely more difficult b/c of the current and conditions, but nothing like the short return leg. I’m not certain if it was mostly conditions, but there was a much larger current and bigger swells. My time on this short section was equal to one of the longer legs. The swim was very humbling and reminiscent of my first Ironman swim.

Note: I certainly didn’t need a full wetsuit. This is the first time I’ve worn one since 2003. It was very confining and far too hot. When I got out of the water, I wasn’t surprised to see my swim time... See comment above re: IM Brazil 1:36 swim in 2003.

The initial hill climb out of T1 is challenging. It is very difficult to keep the hr rate low, even with a restrained effort. Once on main road, there is 11 miles of rollers leading up to the right hand turn. Not a lot of opportunity to get settled. There is a tail and crosswind. I rode with a front 808 and a disc. Unless you are very comfortable with crosswinds, this can be daunting choice. This dilemma begs the question of deciding between what your capable and what is prudent-I technically had no issues with the wheel choice, but spent a considerable time riding leaning over. Despite a conscious effort to relax my upper body, it got a good workout. If I would have run, my trunk was fatigued, and that would have made a tough run more difficult. I’ve not ridden a tri spoke, but the combined climbing and little aero loss should at least make this a consideration.

The out and back section is a continuous section of climbing and descending. There are no steep climbs; instead, just moderately long stretches of false flats to climb and descend. The road surface is pristine until about mile 40. At this juncture, it is turns to chip seal and is very bumpy with many places that are too uneven to sit through. The 10 miles to the turnaround and back is where I first fell considerably off pace despite a constant effort.

Milepost 85, or the last five miles back to the original turn off, was the second considerably slow section. There is a long gradual climb and headwind. Unfortunately it never gets easier during the remaining portion of the bike ride. After a short section back on the highway, you reach a section literally on a bike trail. The bike trail beginning marks the location of the “3 sisters”, a series of short climbs reportedly reaching the 18% grade. Short of one sustained downhill for a few miles, the last 22 miles are relentless. You are constantly turning and climbing and going through repeated stop signs, traffic lights, and neighborhoods.

I’m glad I did this reconnaissance. I’m sure my less than optimal condition affected my perception, but I really have a lot of respect for the guys that completed the day. This is hands down the most difficult course I’ve encountered.

In one of my upcoming posts, I will address my thoughts on how to improve the medical care you receive. The challenges I faced the last several months with jaw pain were difficult; I have the deck stacked in my favor with excellent health insurance and job as a physician…I empathize with those who don’t have those luxuries.

Hopefully onto a more restful winter,


Saturday, November 8, 2008

An Insider’s Perspective

I thought I’d share how lucky I am this week...for that matter, how lucky any of us are, that are participating in endurance sports for fun. Two separate stories bring that closer to home this week.

The first is about a parent of 3 adopted children that I’ve cared for. Laura finished her first triathlon this year. She got the bug to run a local NC running race and followed that up with her first triathlon. The race director forwarded me a link to a video she made following the race. This video reminds me why I started doing triathlons: to get in to shape and have fun with my brother. It is also a humble reminder that at the end of my work day, I’m lucky to go home and put in a few hours of training. Laura’s kids require care and attention around the clock; a true 24 hour/day job. And she always does it with a smile. Triathlon truly is a privilege.

The second is more personal. After 4 ½ months of jaw pain necessitating multiple dental/endodontist/PCP/neurologist/ENT/oral surgeon appt’s, 5 sets of normal panaromic dental xrays, head & neck CT scan and MRI, months of multiple medications too many to list, repeated blood work, a scheduled biopsy of my mandible next week, all culminated with a trip to the ER on Thurs night/Fri am. After a couple of rounds of dilaudid not relieving the pain, a nerve block finally did the trick. Despite no classical signs of “irreversible pulpitis” (the reason we have root canals) I had one Friday morning as a last ditch effort. Pain gone…enough so, that we decided to go ahead with our plans to check out Silverman this weekend. Ever the optimist, I had sent my back down last week to be built up by the LBS. I still plan to recon the course; we will see how that goes given I’m having a bit of issue as we speak as a result of a weeks worth of Clindamycin wreaking havoc on my normal intestinal flora. Regardless, the absence of the discomfort that I’ve been experiencing since this past June is priceless. It is amazing how much we take for granted and how quickly it can all go away. What am I’m even more amazed is that I’m a physician…I can’t even imagine what a poor soul who had a less insight than I has to go through with a less than clear medical problem.

It seems a trivial to report the last time point on the MBT, but ever the academician…this was the only session this week; it is crazy what we do when we have a sense of obligation.

Here you go:

MBT Results:
Date Watts Duration Avg. HR
9/28 180 60 min 147
10/6 180 60 min 135
10/13 180 60 min 131
10/20 180 60 min 130
10/27 180 60 min 140
11/3 180 60 min 137

Enjoy the day,