Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ironman Chattanooga - OBGYN Coupons for Everyone

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RACE REPORT: Ironman Chattanooga
OBGYN Coupons for Everyone
=================================

You've heard of the Four Headless Horseman?  Before we begin, I'd like to throw a shout out to the four testicle-less men that have been pulling me on the bike throughout this season.  Kevin D'Amanda, TJ Collins, Richard Rapine, and Jason Brez ... whaaazzzzup fellaaaass!?  How are 'em things not hanging?  Or, is it too soon?  Someone is getting some OBGYN coupons for Christmas this year.  That's right!  The Freshest Prince of Saigon spares no expenses when it comes to taking care of his Holy Knights, the men sworn to take a bullet for Royalty.

Ask anyone who knows anything about biking and they will tell you that the best way to get faster/stronger on the bike is to find someone stronger than you and hang on for dear life.  They can't be touchy-feely friends with you.  If you utter the words, "I love you, man," they will bitch slap the shit out of you.

When you are bonking and are in desperate need of a gel, they will hand you a gel packet.  It will be empty.  When you complain about saddle sore, they give you a tampon.  They smirk with joy when they drop you.  When you curse at them in Vietnamese, they have to pretend that they don't understand you.  For that, I thank them and will refrain from decorating their front yards with tampons ... but only during the off season.

================
TUAN MANIFESTO
================

This race report is part of my race report manifesto.  For those who have not read any of my previous race reports, but are aware of the flavor that I put in my writings, please visit the entire series to understand why, Kevin D'Amanda, TJ Collins, Richard Rapine, and Jason Brez have littered their properties with "Exit Only" signs.  To that, I say, oh please, dime-a-dozen tattoos among the single women of Ballston/Court House/Clarendon area ... been there, video taped it.  Heck, I've even shelfie it.  Had 400+ "likes" on Facebook once.

The Manifesto
--------------
Chapter 1: Making Love to Buoys at the Luray Sprint
Chapter 2: Vietnamese Saigon Tango with a Naked Anna Kornakova at the IM Longhorn 70.3
Chapter 3: Plight of a Vertical Swimmer at the IM California 70.3
Chapter 4: Confessions of a Bike Pee-er at the IM Eagleman 70.3
Chapter 5: Ironman Florida - I Hear Voices (2009)
Chapter 6: Ironman Florida - Spirit of the Bricklayers (2010)
Chapter 7: Ironman Germany - What Happens When A Man's Nut Freezes?
Chapter 8: Marine Corps Marathon - The Orphans Shall Be Fed
Chapter 9: Challenge Copenhagen -  The Nutcracker Does Europe
Chapter 10: Ironman Sweden - The Vietnamese Lesbian
Chapter 11: Ironman Chattanooga - OBGYN Coupons for Everyone

If this race report seems long to you then you're likely not reading this during billable hours.

===========
RESULTS
===========

Cliff notes version of my results:

Swim: 58:34   1:30/100m
Bike (116 miles): 5:33:07   20.9 mi/h
Run: 3:59:03   9:07/mi
--------------------------------------------
Overall, including T1+ T2:  10:43:55


Official Video of Ironman Chattanooga:

http://youtu.be/-_pzpe4gO2Q

Longer/Tear Jerker Version of Ironman Chattanooga with the human interest stories

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PksYR3JpKJc

Race Photos from the weekend festivities

https://plus.google.com/109373803137498967682/posts/H7cYFJeToRD?pid=6067248371886109922&oid=109373803137498967682

============
PRE-RACE
============

Morning line for swim start.  First come, first start

Race day didn't start off well for me.  First, I think the dude occupying the hotel room next to mine was a pimp.  That room was-a-rocking all night.  Either that or some Cambodian was getting waterboarded and screaming like a little girl.  How many times does a girl have to yell, "oh my god, oh my god, oh my god" before someone gets the Vatican on the line?  Royalty can't get his standard 16 hours of sleep when people get religious like that.  Royalty was in the bible belt.   They tell me that that's how people pray in that neck of the woods.  What could I have done?

Second, all that religious stuff threw me off of my game.  I forgot to mount my Garmin 305 to my bike and brought it to the swim start, a 2.4 miles shuttle bus ride from transition.  I couldn't swim with it since it wasn't waterproof, but I've forgotten worse things for an IM start ... like timing chip last year and bike helmet 3 years before that.  The Ironman is about being able to adapt and overcome stuff on the fly.  Well, that, and peeing on the bike and Vasalining your nipples during billable hours.

I'm the anti-triathlete.  I don't train with any sort of electronics ... makes it easier to avoid NSA monitoring.  I don't use any bike computers, heart rate monitors, power meters, or any those types of items during training or racing.  I only use my Garmin on race day.  That's just to tell me when to eat and how further I have to go.  Not having my Garmin on my bike, while disappointing, was just another small blimp on the radar.  The Vietnamese finger does a pretty good job of telling me how fast I'm going, what my heart rate is, and who the virgins are among the crowd.

I thought about peeing on my Garmin to make it water resistant.  I mean, you pee on a jellyfish sting, can't you pee on a Garmin 305 to protect it from the river?  As my wise mother once told me, "NO, you dumb ass!"  You see, these are the kind of thoughts that occupy the mind of a Vertical Swimmer prior to any open water swims.

Fortunately, PeasantMan War Council member, Dagmar Salazar, was spectating at the race.  We had been texting each other a few minutes prior.  I texted AND called her back to ask her to carry my Garmin to transition.  Unfortunately, Mexicans hate Vietnamese.  They once accused us of calling immigration on them.  In our defense, we thought they were Hondurans.  Nevertheless, conveniently and all of the sudden, none of my urgent calls for help were getting to her.  The Mexican Embassy will now be added to my list of embassies to pee on before I die.

I then found Bob Leamon, the Australian husband of fellow competitor, Hillary OE.  I told him my predicament.  Unlike Mexicans, Australians love Vietnamese.  He took out a ziplock bag, containing food meant for his infant daughter, and offered it to me.  He was willing to starve his own child just to help me.  That baby cried her head off for her food and her mother, but Bob just ignored her like a Zen master.  That's a good Australian right there.  He basically said, "you'd do the same for me, Tuan."  I almost had a cramp just trying to contain my laughter.  For Christmas this year, Bob will get an extra batch OBGYN coupons to share with Australia.

I was going to place my Garmin inside the ziplock and wear it underneath my wetsuit, but then 3 lovely lesbian American ladies (Dena Richardson, Karen Willard, Tammy Farmer) showed up to offer their assistance to me.  "Don't worry, Tuan," they said.  "We'll make sure that you get it when you exit the water," they said.  "You can trust Clarendon women," they said.  As we will find out later, American women, like the Mexicans they're trying to keep out, hate Vietnamese.  Somebody ain't gonna be getting any OBGYN coupons for Christmas this year.  I tell you that much.

========
SWIM
========

View of swim course from a bridge

My swim skills can be best explained from the below quote.

"Girls with arms slimmer than my wrist can kick my ass. Dudes who look like they're one Twinky away from being a perfect sphere blast past me like they're fricken' harbor seals."

You've heard about making snow angels?  My swim stroke resembles making water angels.  People mock my stroke, but I knew one day that the spread eagle maneuver would hit pay dirt.  Ironman Chattanooga was that day.  Sometimes, good things do happen to sexy Vietnamese men.  With the current flowing faster than the mighty Mekong, the spread eagle/water angels maneuver offered maximum body surface for the Tennessee River to push upon.  I'd explain it more to you, but it has to do with Vietnamese physics.  You public school educated folks can't handle Vietnamese physics.

The swim was a 2.4 mile, point to point, river swim.  The swim start was a time trial start that resembled kids at the local pool jumping in one after the other.  Some did the belly flop.  Some dove in like an Olympic swimmer.  I did the classic ... pinch the nose with one hand while the other raised into the air to control airflow.  Feet went in first, while praying that I would float back to the surface before air ran out.  Thank God Agent Orange provided all Vietnamese with more lungs than testicles.

The swim was straight down river.  The entire city of Chattanooga must have flushed their toilet at the exact moment that I got into the water because boy, was it flowing.  There were buoys to guide you along the way, but the ability to sight wasn't really necessary.  All you had to do was just swim.  There were very few body contact.  I got a toe tap and a "I love you" elbow to the rib cage now and then, but no biggie.

The middle of the river provided the most current, so I stayed there most of the day.  The flip side was that it made my go-to stroke, "The Cambodian Aqua-Jogger Stroke," a bit more problematic to execute.  It seemed like the buoys were closer to shore.  That was where most of the pods were.  I'd like to say that staying away from them and in the middle of the river, with the rip current, was the best decision that I made all day.  The truth was, like Marion Barry on a bad acid trip, I was just out there, man.  That freaken current went old school with the spread eagle maneuver and just took me where it took me.  I probably couldn't have swam toward those buoys even if my life depended on it.

It was probably once of the cleanest IM swim I've ever had ... very disappointing.  I wanted stories to tell about how women were clamoring for my cashews.  Instead, all I have to say is that I saw a yellow buoy, an orange buoy, and a red buoy.  Oh, the water tasted good ... probably has to do with the dead body (not an athlete) that they pulled out of the water about an hour after the swim had started.

Here is video of the swim
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgOtcIW6OrE

========
T-1
========

I came out of the water and looked down at my made-in-Vietnam watch.  Vietnamese technology is water-resistant up to 2 feet of water.  The watch said, "58" minutes.  I was like, "WTF!  Is this a watch or a magic 8-ball?"  Like a single woman from the Clarendon/Court House/Ballston area with underwear on, I was dazed and confused.  I didn't know what to make of it.  Why was I wearing underwear?  Why is there a magic 8-ball on my wrist?  What is happening, America!?

I got my composure and ran toward the changing tent.  I began looking for those Vietnamese hating Arlington women that had my Garmin.  I was like, "where the hell are they?  Was wearing underwear throwing them off their game?" ... never did find those hoochies or my Garmin.

I went straight into the changing tent and oh my god ... so many naked dudes in there.  My first thought was, "hey, is that Karen, Dena, and Tammy in the corner taking pictures? ... can't be.  They're lesbians.  They're taking pictures of the wrong team."

My second thought was, "man, there are more full moons in here than a typical night at the Clarendon Ballroom."  Dudes were Vasalining their freaken nipples.  What the hell is that about?  The sight was almost more than a Vietnamese could handle.  If shit like that were happening in Saigon, they'd all be sent to a re-education camp outside of Da Nang to be waterboarded.

==========
BIKE
==========

The bike ride was listed on the IM's web site as having 3.7k of climbing.  I've seen about 20 different Garmin files.  Depending on which Garmin file you believe, they were pretty consistent in reporting between 4-5k of climbing.  Needless to say, I think that you have to be on crack to believe that there were that much climbing on this course.  Maybe those Garmins were made in Cambodia.  I don't know, but I doubt anyone who has ridden this course thinks that there were that much climbing.  It's simply a very fast course, with zero sustain or hard climbing.

I got on my bike and left transition.  Since I didn't have my Garmin (again, thank you Dena, Karen, and Tammy), I had to leave transition commando style.  Next time, those ladies should just call immigration and get it over with.  It's ok though. I hadn't ridden with a bike computer, during training, in 5 years. I don't train with any electronic devices, so racing without one wasn't a big deal.  That's what happens when you grew up in Vietnam ... you let your first middle finger tell you how fast you're going and your second middle finger to tell you how much power you were producing.

I had drove the first 10 miles of the course the day earlier.  I knew that it was mostly flat and fast.  Without my Garmin, I decided to have fun with it.  I decided to time trial the son of a bitch.  I just put my head down and hammered away for the fun of it.  Why not?  We have to create our own paths in life, so I went for it.  I've already done 5 IMs.  I've got nothing left to prove, except stupidity ... freaken dumb ass Vietnamese time trialing an Ironman bike leg.

At mile 10, I saw Hillary OE.  As I passed her, I gave her the standard Vietnamese male greeting by slapping her on the ass.  She smiled back with a little smirk on her face and said, literally, "what took you so long!"  Think about this for a second, folks.  A dude with spandex comes by on a bike and slaps you on the ass.  Instead of getting offended, you get turned on.  I swore to you, that's what she said when I slapped her ass.  The woman is a freak.  She's got what we, in the Vietnamese community, often refer to as, "The American Woman."  Hillary ... you're a mother, for heaven sake!

At around mile 20-ish, a dude jumps on my wheel and yelled, "hey Royalty! Slow down! It's a fast course, but save it for the run!"  Turns out, it was PeasantMan War Council member, Eric Guzman-Alvarez.  I heeded his warning and took it down a notch or two.  I later found out that my first split (first 28 miles) was done at 24.54 mph ... and yet they say EPO doesn't work.  Puleez!  Had that Puerto Rican not yelled at me, I'd probably end up with a 26-27 mph for that first split.  That's a good man right there.  Why he's dating a Mexican, I will never know.

Let me tell you the problem with going 24.54 for the first 28 miles.  You spend the next 90 miles peeing and vomiting on yourself for no good reason.  You stand next to a port-a-john.  Instead of going in, you just let it go right there in front of southern folks with Confederate flags in their hands ... GO VIETNAM!  You try to breath and your lungs yell back, "no mas!"  It's like dating a woman from the Clarendon/Court House/Ballston area ... fun for the first 30 seconds, then, she decides to bring out the props to put a hurting on you ... and the flash photography to record that special moment for all her Facebook friends.

I managed to stayed around the 21 mph range for first 90 miles.  I got tired of peeing on myself for unexplained reasons, so I decided to take a chill pill for the 26 miles ride back to transition.  Who the f*k am I kidding?  A Vietnamese never gets tired of peeing on himself while on the bike... NEVER!

======
T-2
======

I went through T-2 pretty quickly.  As I was about to start my run, one of 'em Vietnamese haters/lesbian, Karen Willard, yelled, "Tuan!"  She said, "do you want your Garmin?"  Uhmmm, yes, 116 miles ago.  "We were waiting for you at the swim exit," she said.  Uhmmm, I left the water 6 hours ago.  Were you waiting for confirmation that the body that they found was mine?

She said to wait there and she'll bring my Garmin to me.  I waited and waited ... and waited.  I know women are slow to get warm up, but come on!  I've got an Ironman here.  She finally came back to give me my Garmin. I quickly left T-2.  About 100 yards later, the other Vietnamese hater/lesbian yelled at me.  She said, "hey, I see you have your Garmin."  I said, "yeah, thanks, Dena."

=========
RUN
=========
Eric and I

This run course was the real deal.  It was the toughest run course of my 6 IMs.  You have gentle baby incline.  You have sustain real climbs.  And, you have hard up the mother f-er climbs.  The reverse side of that was going down inclines.  Sounds great to be running downhill, but the quads and hamstring have differing views on that.  It's ok though, because the last 0.2 mile of downhill running toward the finish makes up for all the cursing of the prior 26 miles.  I'd bet those four nutless guys that I bike with would have no problems with the course ... being nutless and all.  IS IT STILL TOO SOON, FELLAS!?

The start of the run course was a 0.2 mile uphill run.  After the climb, you'd make a turn and was greeted by, well, a 0.4 mile "gentle" incline.  I hit the port-a-john right before the climb to reduce some extra weight.  As I was powdering my nose inside, I heard a voice.   It said, "hey, Royalty!  Get out of there!"  I was like, "WTF!  Where are the cameras?  Why is the CIA in the port-a-john with me?  I can't get out ... I'm lubbing, man!"  As it turned out, it was that Puerto Rican, the one with the Mexican fetish, Eric, that was yelling at me.

I caught up to Eric a few minutes later.  We tango for the next 16 miles together.  He started telling me about his Mexican girlfriend, Dagmar.  I was like, "man, I didn't know Mexican women were like that?!  She should move to Clarendon."

Eric was a beast.  I gave him the stare of death to slow down, but the dude must have been on EPO.  When we got to one of those big ass hills, I was like, "dude, it's a hill.  Why are we running up?  The boarder patrol is looking for Mexicans, not Puerto Ricans.  You guys are almost Americans."

After mile 16, I pulled a fake cramp and let Eric go.  Dude was just too strong for me to keep up.  It turned out, at one of the later miles, he was patiently waiting for me inside of one of the CIA field offices (aka. a port-a-john).  That's a very cultural man right there ... always know the local hangouts of Vietnamese people.  After I crossed the finish line, like a Puerto Rican Viet Cong, out of nowhere, he pops up right next to me.  Apparently, he crossed the same finish line only a few seconds earlier.

Overall, it was good day for me.  The weather gods were on our side.  After making some poor nutrition choices during the run that came back to haunt me during miles 16-23, I was able to recover (thanks to a great nutritionist bystander who knocked some sense into me) and finish pretty strong.  My last 3.2 miles had some of my fastest splits of the day.

Should I have taken the a more casual approach to the bike ride?  Maybe, maybe not.  I tell you this much.  I had a much more fun overall experience because I was time trialing at the beginning than I would have had I taken the chill pill approach.  I wasn't going to KQ either way, so I might as well walk my own path to the beat of my own drum.

==============
CONCLUSION
==============




On tap next year is Ironman #7 (IM Barcelona).  People often ask me why I do this distance.  The answer always come down to the fact that it's always fun for me.  It's fun for me to hang with my running group on Saturday.  It's fun to hang with the fellas on the bike on Sunday.  If I had neither groups to fall back on, I doubt that my Ironman journey would have gone past #2.

The long stuff on the weekend isn't exercise to me.  It's like going out and having fun at an event with a bunch of your buddies ... kinda like folks tailgating for a football game.  I guess, as is most things in life, it's not the event.  It's the company that you keep at those events.  I don't want to get too sappy here, so I'll just leave you all with the following message:

More OBGYN coupons coming your way, everyone.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thanks for reading,
Tuan

P.S  As we all know, triathlon is a first world sport with a first world problem.  We sometime take for granted that in order to do this sport, we have to have disposable income, free time, and good health.  We sometime forget that, among all the useless stuff that occupy our minds during training ... like PR, mileage, heart rate, pace, power, and etc.

I'd like to dedicate this race report to my 2013 DCTri's New Triathlete Program (NTP) mentee, Andrea Lytle Peet, a beautiful young lady inside and out.  After going through that NTP last June, she completed her first half Ironman last September.  Since then, her life has taken a different journey.  Rather than telling you about her journey, I encourage you to visit her blog and decipher the coded message that I just spew.  Read about bib #179 and the significant meaning that it represents.

http://teamdrea.blogspot.com/

Andrea completed a sprint triathlon last weekend.  I was so touched and inspired by her journey to complete that triathlon that I've decided that, for the 2015 PeasantMan Triathlon,  I'm going to pull bib #179 out of circulation.  I will carry it with me throughout the bike and run of my 2015 Ironman, Ironman Barcelona.  I will use it as my source of energy and inspiration throughout the race.  When I approach that finish line, I will pull out that bib from my pocket and run with it down the finisher's chute, with that bib in full display, front and center.  That bib will remind me what real courage and life is all about.    It will put everything into perspective.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Race Report: Ironman Sweden

========================================================
RACE REPORT - Ironman Sweden - The Vietnamese Lesbian
========================================================

Before we begin, I'd like to throw a shoutout to my comrades in arms for this race ... the beautiful lesbian Supermodel, Deb Hopkins (2x Ironman), the hippie from Cali, Mike Leshnower (7x Ironman), and the old Iron horse, Doug Hartman (5x? Ironman).  This was my 5th Ironman, 3rd overseas.  I've also done 5 Ironman Vietnam, but due to the Fascist political environment that we currently have in America, you won't find any of my Ironman Vietnam results anywhere on Athlink.

Every race report needs eye candy.  Deb, 2x Ironman.    Don't let the smile fool you.
She's beautiful on land, but she will eat your first born alive in the open water
 On a more serious note, Ironman training isn't easy.  Much like watching porn on govt issued computers, while on billable hours, it is *often* done in isolation.  It's hard to explain why we spend so many hours training in the pool, on the bike, and on foot to those who have never traversed the path.  It's simply a passion ... the training, not the porn during billable hours.  You don't log that many training hours without that passion that burns from within.  At some level, you have to love and be excited about the hardcoreness of it all.

Sometimes, you go on a 100 miles+ bike ride in the middle of the DC summer heat, you feel so physically and mentally exhausted that your testicles itch.  You question your sanity.  You ask yourself if it's all worth it.  I mean, the itch ... could be a STD for all I know.

Speaking of STDs,  all you single ladies in the Clarendon/Court House/Ballston areas, what's a cool STD to have these days?  I'm not into those old school retro ones.  I'm looking for something hip, modern, and Penicillin resistant.

Anyhow, sometimes you finish those 100 mile bike rides so strong that you feel like you don't need any testicles.  They're overrated and make you less aero.  I carry one spare tube on my bike.  Why the heck do I need to carry more than one spare ... you know ... on a ride?

The race crew and our sherpas

================
TUAN MANIFESTO
================

This race report is part of my race report manifesto.  For those who have not read any of my previous race reports, but are aware of the flavor that I put in my writings, please visit the entire series to understand why, as a young Vietnamese college coed living in America, I experimented with peeing while sitting down ... for a few years.  What made that worse was that I wasn't even a Liberal Arts major.

Pee-ing while sitting down isn't something that I'm proud of.  It was just something that we all did in college back in the '90s.  Just ask any women in the Clarendon/Ballston/Court House areas that went to college in the same era.  They, too, experimented pee-ing while sitting down.  I'm sure glad we *ALL* outgrew it.

The Manifesto
--------------
Chapter 1: Making Love to Buoys at the Luray Sprint
Chapter 2: Vietnamese Saigon Tango with a Naked Anna Kornakova at the IM Longhorn 70.3
Chapter 3: Plight of a Vertical Swimmer at the IM California 70.3
Chapter 4: Confessions of a Bike Pee-er at the IM Eagleman 70.3
Chapter 5: Ironman Florida - I Hear Voices (2009)
Chapter 6: Ironman Florida - Spirit of the Bricklayers (2010)
Chapter 7: Ironman Germany - What Happens When A Man's Nut Freezes?
Chapter 8: Marine Corps Marathon - The Orphans Shall Be Fed
Chapter 9: Challenge Copenhagen -  The Nutcracker Does Europe
Chapter 10:Ironman Sweden - The Vietnamese Lesbian

If this race report seems long to you then you should do what I did during my senior year in college ... stand up when you pee!  It's 2013 for heaven sake.  You can't party like it's still 1999.  People will judge!

==========
PRE-RACE
==========

On race bag check-in day, my little sister asked if I had everything that I needed.  I told her that it was my 5th Ironman.  I have everything under control, I said.  Apparently, that was the wrong answer, for I had only brought ONE biking shoe and no race bib to transition.  She then asked me how I could possibly bring only one bike shoe with me?  Was I waiting for the shoe fairy to bring me the other one, she asked.  Needless to say, I didn't dignify that with an answer.  She also wondered how I expected to enter transition without a bib.  Man, these kids that went to public schools ... they ask the most stupid questions at the most inappropriate time.

 
Bike check-in.  Day before race.  Volunteers are there to make sure you
have everything ... like your bib and two biking shoes.

On race morning, my sister asked me again if I had everything I needed.  I told her that it was my 5th Ironman.  I have everything under control, I said.  Apparently, that too, was the wrong answer.  As we entered the swim start, I noticed that everyone was sporting a cool looking timing chip, except Vietnamese #1.

I feverishly ran around looking for a race official to find a replacement chip, but one official kept passing me to another.  With only a few minutes before the start time, I decided to enter the water and just do this race in stealth mode.  That's right, I was going to hidden dragon crouching tiger this son of a bitch.  Timing chips are for the weak and the sterile.  Besides, this was the Ironman.  Dealing with adversity is part of the program.

=======
SWIM
=======

The swim course was shaped like the middle finger.  Well, all swim courses are shaped like the middle finger from my vantage point, but that could just be my own middle finger pointing at the open water.  I tend to do that a lot prior to open water swims.

I'm not sure what the water temp was, but it was cold enough to be a "wetsuit mandatory" swim.  That's the first time that I've heard that phrase used at a race.  I think that my fellow lesbian racer, Deb Hopkins, said that it was 62 degrees.  In the straight world, it is common knowledge that lesbians have an uncanny ability to gauge water temperatures without usage of a thermostat, so I didn't doubt Deb one bit. 

The swim was in the Baltic Sea, off the eastern coast of Sweden.  It's a place, I'm told, that had testicles eating fish.  No, a lesbian didn't tell me that.  CNN did.  I didn't know if they were screwing with me or what, but I wore an extra cup during that swim just to be safe.  I'd be a fool not to.  I mean, think about the extra buoyancy in an area that really needs extra buoyancy in case of an emergency.

The swim was an in-water mass start that consisted of two loops.  Nothing beats the beauty and artistry of a mass Ironman swim start.  Once the canon goes off, a mass sea of humanity takes flight.  It's breath taking to be a part of.  Everyone jockeys for clean open waters where none exists.  The bumping and grinding that goes on in that water resemble a typical Saturday night at the Clarendon Ballroom.


Last stretch of the swim.  I'm not in the picture.
I'm still out at sea getting gropped
From shore, the splashing from 2,000 swimmers probably looked like a school of fish trying to outmaneuver a pod of killer whales ... simply beautiful and terrifying at the same time.  It's kind of like staring into the eyes of your wife/girlfriend.  You want to say that you think that she's beautiful when she's angry, but you also don't want bad thing to happen to your crotch when you utter those words ... out loud.  Well, I don't have to tell you all about how emotional women are when you try to give them a complement in the heat of battle.

IM Sweden had signs set up to allow people to seed themselves properly.  Having swam a 1:28 last year in Copenhagen, I had planned to line up in the 1:30 corral.  However, with the chip issues, I was late getting into the corral.  This meant that there was no way that I could have weaned my way to the proper place prior to the gun going off.

I found myself literally all the way in the back.  The last swimmer, to be exact.  What that meant was that I had to fight my way through a lot of world class vertical swimmers.  That just made the first lap brutal.  I had a guy whacked me across the head so hard that it almost dislodge my goggles.  Treading water to adjust the goggles meant taking in a few more licks for the team.  I don't know why people swing their arms so hard when they're aqua jogging.  Vertical swimming is about grace and technique.  Trying to muscle your way to verticalness will only result in tipping backward.  Nobody likes a showoff.

The other thing that I had to deal with was the constant ankle touching and nut grabbing.    If you can't tell the difference between a Vietnamese and a buoy, you shouldn't be doing an Ironman.  Brother couldn't even pause to pee in his wetsuit without someone grabbing him in his naughty place with the Vulcan grip of death.  I should have dated more women from the Clarendon/Court House/Ballston area in my younger days to prepare for this race, but I digress.

I'm vertical enough in the water without needing the assistance from other swimmers pulling my legs even further down.  Because I started so far back, I had no clean water to swim during that first loop.  Swim a little to the left, I'm greeted by some dude that wants to tongue me.  Swim a little to the right, some chick is trying to cup me.  FREAKEN ANIMALS, are these vertical swimmers.

The second loop, the swell and current from the Baltic Sea became much stronger.  I was convinced that my wetsuit was leaking and taking on water, but that could have just been me peeing inside the wetsuit. I don't know.  I couldn't triage properly because I was under so much duress.

Every once in awhile, I would get a mouthful or noseful of water as I attempted to go up for air.  Now, bilateral breathing might have fixed that quagmire, but the Tuan-man does not bilateral breath.  He's got other issues to deal with when he's in the water ... like trying to not drown.

I got out of the water at around 1:45.  I was still in stealth mode so I have no idea what the exact time was.  Suffice to say, it was 15+ minutes slower than what I was expecting.  On the brighter side, no testicle eating fish made their way to the family jewels ... knock on wood, still plural.   The number of testicles that I had before the swim = the number of testicles I had after the swim.  That's a win on most days.

==========
T-1
==========

Still in stealth mode, I ran to the Nutcracker (my bike).  On the other side of the fence, near my bike, stood my sister cheering for me.  I approached and told her that my timing chip was in the backpack that she was carrying.  Again, she threw some public school type questions at me ... like, "why didn't you wear it during the swim?"

She quickly searched for it and gave it to me.  I strapped it around my ankle and left T-1.  I was now legit.  No more stealth mode IM racing.  The CIA can now track me with their drones ...  happy early birthday to the fellas back at Langley.

Tu (my sherpa sister), Kristin (Deb's sherpa), and Sean (Mike's sherpa).  They were everywhere on race day.
=========
BIKE
=========

The bike course took the form of a figure 8, all on closed roads.  The first half was on the island of Oland.  The second half was on mainland Sweden.  Oland, in Swedish, means "the land of wind and sun."  It did not disappoint.  Let me paraphrase what my fellow lesbian racer, Deb Hopkins, wrote in her race report ... 20-25 mph sustained headwind, with 35-40 mph wind gust.  Besides from an innate sense of water temps, lesbians are also known for their abilities to gauge wind speed with remarkable accuracies.

I've done IMFL 2x and have ridden Eagleman about 6x.  The wind conditions there were minor leagues compared IM Sweden.  It was just long and sustained wind.  There weren't much you could do except to just stay aero and ride small.  The crosswind were, by far, a lot more difficult to handle than the headwind.  My speed into a headwind was faster than what I could muster during those crosswind sections.  Staying in aero in some of those crosswind sections was like giving the Gods the middle finger.  You were basically riding sideway with fear in your heart.

The wind was so strong that I didn't even pee on the bike the entire day.  I feared the crosswind/headwind ramifications.  I had to do the unthinkable.  I stopped and used the port-a-johns.  Sons of Bitches ... I had cheated myself out of the Ironman experience.  It was one of the low moments of the race for me.

To get to Oland, you had to ride across a spectacular bridge that is 6 km long <<-- That's what she said!

That's 6 km on the way out to Oland and 6 km on the way back to the mainland.  The bridge, when it was first built, was the second longest bridge in Europe.  Let me tell you, it was very cool to be biking on that bridge ... until that 40 mph crosswind decided to make your front wheel flap back and forth like a fish out of water.  My bike was shaking and vibrating so hard that I wasn't sure if I was sitting on a vibrator or VMW  ... Vietnamese BMW.

I actually feared for my safety during the bridge stretch.  I first tried to man-up by going aero on the bridge ... until I saw that 2 feet from me was a 200 feet drop into the Baltic Sea.  I'd be damn if I have to swim twice in the same Ironman!

A little voice then came over my head.  It said, "don't be a dumbass, Vietnamese #1.  Get out of aero!"  I then gave my handlebars the Viet Cong grip of death ... 6 fingers on each hand working as one.  That 6th finger didn't do much to stabilize the front wheel (Zipp 404) from flapping feverishly.  That little voice then came back to me and said, "oh Vietnamese #1, you are sooooo going to loose your favorite testicle on this one!"  Emotionally, I was devastated, but I had to dig deep for the team.

After that little side wind action on the bridge, the bike course took us directly into the path of a 20-25 mph sustained headwind.  For the next 25-30 miles, it was nothing but headwind.  Sons of Bitches!  It was like riding up a 25-30 mile hill with no end in sight.  After the headwind action, the bike course had us making a sharp left and directly into the path of a 20-25 mph crosswind ... Again, Sons of Bitches!  God must have ate a burrito the night before or something.

The crosswind was bad enough that I saw two riders get knocked off their bikes during the course of the race.  I saw a few more bandaged people with road rashes during the run.  I thought to myself, "man, it was either a typical date with an Arlington chick or the wind had really caught people off guard."

I also heard of a report of a rider going down hard during the Oland Bridge section.  All I could think about during those heavy wind sections was how judgmental my future righteous wife would be when she sees that I am a man with no testicles.  It might just be enough to drive her into the waiting arms of a Casanova Cambodian ... might.  This is why I advocate no sex before marriage.  It's like a game of poker.  You don't want to show the family jewels too soon.  You're Asian.  There are ramifications.

Eventually, the bike course led us to the direction of the mainland.  For the next 25-30 miles, it was all strong tail wind.  It was a beautiful thing.  I was easy pedaling and saw 26-28 mph on my Garmin.  It sure beats drinking your own vomit while trying to stay above 10 mph into a head wind.  I finally knew what it was like to be like Lance Armstrong ... riding a bike fast, on one testicle.

Once back on the mainland, it was same the same shit ... 20 miles of tail wind leaving town, 20 miles of head wind coming back to transition.  Sons of Bitches!

Back on the mainland for the last few miles of the bike


At around mile 100, I rode past Mike.  We exchanged pleasantries and recipes.  He told me that his boys were hurting.  I told him that if they hurt then he's got too many.  Stop bragging!

Final bike time was 5:45.  15 minutes slower than anticipated, but given the wind, I'll take it.

==========
T-2
==========

No co-ed transition tent this time.  Instead, I was in a tent full of naked Euro men.  That's what every straight dude want to see after a 112 miles bike ride ... a room full of naked sweaty Euro dudes.  Sons of Bitches!  It's as if the NSA had been reading my emails and sent in those naked dudes there just to screw with me.

I'd tell you what my T-2 time was, but with not having the timing chip at the start, my entire splits were out of whack.

=========
RUN
=========

I didn't see Deb on the bike, so I was hoping to see her during the run.  Besides from their great abilities to judge water temps and wind speed, lesbians are well known for their abilities to detect air temps.  I wanted to know what the air temp was, but we never connected on the course throughout the day.  As it turned out, she was having a race of her life, with an IM PR of almost 1 hour to go with an IM marathon PR of almost 50 minutes.  I'm going to have to note it down that lesbians are also known for getting PRs at Ironman races.


Deb celebrating her incredible PR
 I think that I paced very appropriately on the bike because I was quite fresh and minty for the run.  The run was 3 laps on mostly flat roads.  You spent a few total miles running in the old city of Kalmar and the rest on trails and local neighborhoods.  Each lap had you running parallel to the finish line.  Some people would find that demoralizing.  I find that exciting.  The crowd were the biggest and loudest in the areas leading up to the finish line.

My run nutrition plan was simple.  Two cups of water over my head at every water stations.   That's right.  Call me an elitist if you want, but I don't drink water given to me by peasants.  Part deux of the nutrition plan was to not pee on myself ... I was no longer on the bike after all.  A gel now and then.  A coke from the most beautiful female Swedish volunteer I could find at each water station  ;)

After my second lap, I saw our group sherpas (Tu, Kristin, and Sean) sitting at a cafe literally right next to the run course, very close to the finish line.  I stopped, chatted for a few seconds, signed a few autographs, and off I went.  They were everywhere on race day.  I saw them a few times in Oland and mainland Sweden during the bike ride.

On my third lap, I picked up a little green prop (pic below) from Mike's sherpa, Sean, to run across the finish line with.  It's an Ironman, so I figured that I should enjoy myself a little bit.  Ironman racing isn't all about peeing on the bike.  It's about other stuff that I can't think of at the moment.

Running toward the finish line
As I approached the finish line, I saw the announcer standing 100 feet in front of the arch.  I went into my Rocky simulation boxing stance with my props and went toe-to-toe with him for a few seconds.  The folks in the stand seemed to enjoyed it ... then off to the finish line to celebrate the end to a wonderful journey.

The Ironman always lay out a carpet in the last 50 yards or so of the finish line.  When you reach that carpet and see that finisher's arch, it's a beautiful thing.  In a marathon, you have a few dozen people crossing the finish line with you at about the same time.  In an Ironman, it's just you, the bleacher full of spectators, and the finisher's arch.  The guy/gal behind you will back off to let you have your moment just like the way you backed off of the guy in front of you so that he can have his moment.  It's an unwritten rule and it's an awesome experience.

Mike putting on some warm clothes for his final lap
As I've said, this was my 5th Ironman.  Listening to the announcer say, "Tuan Nguyen, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN," as I cross the finish line, does absolutely nothing for me.  I know, I'm jaded and emotionally dead on the inside.

What I look forward to is seeing all the volunteers at the finish line smiling at me and congratulating me.  It's just you and 20 different volunteers smiling back at you.  It's a very satisfying feeling.  IM Sweden assigns a volunteer to you the moment you cross the finish line.  That volunteer walks with you until you've picked up your finish line clothes bag and have reached the food tent.  The volunteer takes care of your every need and makes sure that you get your medal, finisher's pic, and points out the locations of everything (i.e., port-a-johns, med tent, massage tent, food, showers, swag, etc).  I thought that that was a nice touch.  It doesn't happen at every Ironman.

Final run time:  somewhere in the 3:45-ish neighborhood.  It was within 20 minutes of my Boston Marathon time back in April and exactly where I thought I would be for this race.  Not too bad.

Final overall time:  11:31:58.  That's about a 25 minutes PR.  People,  lesbians are known to get PRs at Ironman races.  Facts are facts.  I just became a Vietnamese lesbian.  I can't wait to break the news to mamma Nguyen.

I would have liked to have gone under 11, but there are still many more IMs in my future.  I'll get there.  I still have a bunch of testicles left.  Let's hope they're all still functional after I go under 11.  One can dream the dream, I supposed.

This is the 3rd time that I've gone under 12 at the IM distance, but have yet to crack 6 hour at the half Ironman distance.  Sons of Bitches! ... is the swim at all HIM races longer than advertised?
Finisher's pic

=================
FINAL THOUGHTS
=================

Deb and I exchanging war stories in the bleachers
as we waited for Mike to cross the finish line

IM Sweden is an awesome course.  Swimming underneath the bridges full of people was cool.  The mixture of running in local neighborhoods and old city Kalmar were neat experiences.  Yes, the wind was bitching, but Ironman races are always too hot, too cold, too windy, too choppy, too hilly, too this, and too that.    You're out there all freaken day.    Conditions will change with the rise and fall of the sun.  That's what make them fun.  You do them.  You bitch and whine a little.  At the end of the day, you just sit back with a sense of pride and say to yourself ... "man, that was cool!"

More than any destination races that I've done, it seemed like the Swedes in Kalmar take great pride in their city and the race.  When you talk to the people in the store or the volunteers on the course, you sense that pride.  It's kind of nice to see the community vested in a race like that.  It's got that small city charm to it.

People often ask me why I do Ironman races.  Why I spend so much time training for an Ironman, year after year.  The answer is simple ... I get great pleasures in being a Vietnamese lesbian.  Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!

Take care,
Tuan

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Deb read the draft version of this race report.  She wants all the single and semi-single straight dudes out there to know that she's not a lesbian.  That still does not explain how she was able to gauge wind speed, water temps, and air temps with remarkable accuracies.  Me thinks someone is in denial.



Cool medal to wrap things up

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

2013 Sunday Bike Ride with the Vertical Swimmer

Will be sending this out to the Sunday bike ride list ... just vetting it out here first

===============================================
2013 SUNDAY BIKE RIDE WITH THE VERTICAL SWIMMER
Year #5 - Year of the Commoners
Star Date:  Week 0
===============================================

Hello Commoners,

Not sure how it happened, but apparently some of you commoners have my email address in your possession.  I've been getting some stupid questions via email on a more frequent basis lately.  Again I say, thank you, Al Gore.  Next time trying inventing something other than the Internet.

Below are some questions and my responses to those emails.  

1.  Can you whack my neighbor for me?
>>> No!  I can't whack your neighbor for you.  WTF do I look like, a Cambodian?  Now, if you want me to pee on your neighbor's lawn ... well, you've come to the right place.  Unlike you lazy Americans, Vietnamese don't send our dogs to go do a real man's work.

2.  Where is a good place to get an authentic bowl of pho?  I heard that new place on Wilson Blvd is pretty good.
>>> You want an authentic bowl of pho, go to Saigon, not Clarendon. 

Tuan's litmus test on the authenticity of a pho restaurant:  if they give you hoisin sauce in anything other than a jar or squeeze bottle, walk out.  Case in point, Pho DC.  Walk out of that place before you walk in.  They have a Vietnamese salad there.  As a Vietnamese, let me give you my people's official response to such nonsense ... what the f**k is a Vietnamese salad?  Go to a restaurant in Da Nang, order up a "Vietnamese salad," and see what you get.  Pho DC mocks Vietnamese culture and cuisine.  It makes me want to pee on their front door, without such request.  Oh, serenity now, serenity now.

3.  I'm planning a vacation to Vietnam, where is a good place to visit?
>>> Well, stop reading Viet Cong propaganda tourist brochures, you freaken hippy!  If there exists such a thing as a "a good place to visit in Vietnam," do think that The Freshest Prince of Saigon would be living in Silver Spring?  You know what they told me when I was at the re-education camp when that question was asked?  They said, "you're looking at it.  Do you want to disagree?"  My initial thought was, "Yeah, I want to disagree."  Which brings up another important lesson in life ... never ever try to be the funny guy in a re-education camp.  Shit gets real, real fast.

===================
SUNDAY RIDES
===================

Commoners, get your freaks on!  To all of you young single ladies in the Clarendon/Court House/Ballston areas, that means go normal for once.  A thong is not underware.  I'm getting freaken tired of spraying holy water on all of the seats on the Metro orange line.

The Sunday Bike Ride with the Vertical Swimmer is back.  This time, I ain't lying either.  First ride is Sunday, March 30, 2013.  The entire ride schedule is at the very bottom.  Those who are illiterate, just use the scroll down function and you'll eventually get there.

The ride starts and ends at the corner of Wisconsin and M Street in Georgetown.  Depending on the location of CIA drones, air temperature, and my emotional well-being, we will start at 7 or 8 AM.  I will send out start time, cue sheets, and other specifics every week to the email distro list.

========
PACES
========

From past experiences, the paces for this ride vary from week to week.  It depends on who shows up.  Generally speaking, the biggest group is in the 18-ish mph.  This is the average for the ride.  This means that on the flats the pace can be a bit spectacular.  On the hills, there will lots of tears shed, a few testicles lost.  Keep in mind that these averages are on roads with somewhat decent hills.  I've left parts of my soul on many of these hills.

We do have people who are in the 15 mph+ range.  We have had NTPers in the past who have come to ride with the group at the beginning, but drop off and ride for shorter distances.  We've also had people in the way north side 20+ mph.  Whatever your pace, fitness, or experience may be, just come out and ride with us.  It'll give you structure, a place to be, and triathletes to train with every Sundays.

We all start together, but the group will break into its natural paces once we leave DC.  The groups will stop occasionally to refuel and use the restrooms at various locations.  These locations will be specified in the cue sheets that I will send out.

This ride is a very welcoming ride.  We have folks of all levels and speeds who show up on any given Sunday.  Everyone will be loved.  No one will judge your full aero-kit.  Oh, who am I kidding.  If you show up in full aero-kit, of course we are going to judge your dumb ass.  Tri bikes, road bikes, tricycles, and unicycles are welcome.  I would say that most of the folks that show up to the rides are on tri bikes, some with fancy wheels.

We have a lot of folks doing IMLP this year.  I'm hoping that most of them will show up so that we have a wider range of speeds than in prior years.  Well, actually, I'm just hoping we have more females out there.  When I say females, I mean any dudes that do not mind pulling Vietnamese #1 on the bike.

============
RIDE FORMAT
============

I'm putting the ride format verbiage here so that there are no misconceptions about this ride.  This is a DROP ride.  This means that the no bitching, no crying, and no moaning policy is in effect. The group will splinter at many points.  The underlying message is, suck it up buttercup and catch up the group or pretend that you have an injury and fall back.

People will break up into their natural paces.  We have folks going from 14-22 mph, so the group WILL break up into subgroups as the ride progresses.  The implied understanding of this ride is that it's every man for himself.  Expect no one to wait for you.  Wait for no one.  Please bring the cue sheet.  That's why it's provided.  Hopefully we'll get enough pace ranges out there so that no one ever rides alone.

The only exception is, if you see me riding alone, please drop back to pull me.  That should go without saying, but I'll just say it because I know how some of you ingrates take great pleasures in dropping me.

==========
SIGN UP
==========

To be part of this ride, just send me an email (number55555 at yahoo dot com) or post your email address in this thread.  Don't just say that you're "in."  I'm just a smuck in DCTri.  I have no way of retrieving your email address from your username.  Post an email address or email it to me.

I will add you to our distro list once I've received your expression of interest.  **Everyone** from the 2012 list need to resend me an email, or post below.  The 2012 email distro list will be destroyed after today.  We will start with a fresh 2013 version. 

By the way, have you heard of this race call PeasantMan?  We are going to have a 56-112 mile ride at Lake Anna on the Kinetic course the day before PeasantMan, so you might as well sign up for it.

PeasantMan Shameless plug:

PeasantMan info:
http://www.facebook.com/peasantman

PeasantMan Registration URL:
https://www.highcloudevents.org/index.php?id=34
====================
THE ENTIRE SCHEDULE
====================

------------
PRE-SEASON
------------
March 31
Getting to know you ride
TBD: 30 - 47 miles

April 7
Getting to know more about you ride
TBD: 47 - 60 miles

--------------
REGUALR SEASON
--------------
April 14
I know too much about you already ride
**No ride: Boston Marathon Weekend**

---------
PLAYOFFS
---------
Apr 21
60 miles

Apr 28
The Columbia Sterilization:
104 miles - 4x around the Columbia Tri bike route

May 04
PeasantMan Weekend - Lake Anna
Saturday ride: 56-112

May 12
60 miles

May 19
70 miles

May 26
80 miles

June 02
Whatever you want.  I will be out of town

June 09
Vietnamese Century
89 miles

June 16
70 miles
June 23
80 miles
June 30
Legit Century.  Well, not really.
100 miles
Jul 07
60 miles
Jul 14
70 miles
Jul 21
I'm out of town
80 miles
Jul 28
Ironman Vietnam - 117 miles

Aug 04
60 miles

Aug 11 -- Last ride of the season
30-45 miles

Aug 17 - Legit Ironman
Ironman Sweden.
2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run, brag for the rest of your life.

Tuan
number55555 at yahoo dot com

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rejoice Little People!

The Vertical Swimmer is headed to the Boston Marathon!  My slow freaken ass has been accepted for one of the BQ slots!

HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

FREAKENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN


YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Race Report: Challenge Copenhagen - The Nutcracker Does Europe

I will eventually post it in the DCTri forum and elsewhere, but wanted to vetted here first.  As always, it's best to insult people here before I insult the rest of the world :)  Let me know if you've been insulted or offened by what is said.

=======================================
Race Report:
Challenge Copenhagen:  The Nutcracker Does Europe
=======================================
 
=================
THE NUTCRACKER
=================
 
The Nutcracker is my bike.  It's what I named it.  It has an Adamo seat.  For those who do not know what an Adamo seat is, below is a link to a picture of it.  It has two prongs specifically designed to mercilessly crush a man's nut from all angles.  You can try to bypass nutcracker technology, but you would most likely fail.   Back in 'Nam, we call this the Vietnamese anti-theft system.

The sad part to all of this is that the Adamo didn't come with the bike.  It's an aftermarket item that I actually purchased to specifically crush my own nuts.  That's right. Vietnamese logic is a gift that keeps on giving.
 
 
=============
BACKGROUND
=============
 
Challenge Copenhagen is an Iron distance triathlon that takes place in Denmark.  Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, run 26.2, and walk like you have multiple STDs for the rest of your life.   The race is part of the Danish Long Course Championship, with a 15-16 hour cutoff, depending on your swim wave.  The race finishes in a courtyard of a castle.  When you go to pick up your bike after the race, you go to another castle with a moat.  How freaken cool is that?
 
Let me just stop here and give some props to the Danes.  I've been to about 35 different countries in my life, I would rank the Danes as one of the top 2-3 friendliest people out there.  Incredibly helpful and warm.  In DC, if you hold out a map, the locals would yell, "get off the freaken street tourists!"  In Denmark, they'd come by and make sure that you get to where you were going ... without you even asking.  I can't say enough good things about them, the city, or the country.
 
The city of Copenhagen is a great city to visit if you ever get a chance to visit.  I have never in my life seen so many beautiful women in one city.  Every time that I thought that I saw a drop dead gorgeous woman walk by, there would be another one ... and another one.  The only time that I've ever come across that kind of beauty is when I look in the mirror.  Just stunning beauty and incredibly nice ... I mean my reflection.  Well, Danish women too.
 
================
TUAN MANIFESTO
================
 
This race report is part of my race report manifesto.  For those who have not read any of my previous race reports, but are aware of the flavor that I put in my writings, please visit the entire series to understand why I sometimes pee while sitting down in a room full cats.
 
The Manifesto
--------------
Chapter 1: Making Love to Buoys at the Luray Sprint
Chapter 2: Vietnamese Saigon Tango with a Naked Anna Kornakova at the IM Longhorn 70.3
Chapter 3: Plight of a Vertical Swimmer at the IM California 70.3
Chapter 4: Confessions of a Bike Pee-er at the IM Eagleman 70.3
Chapter 5: Ironman Florida - I Hear Voices (2009)
Chapter 6: Ironman Florida - Spirit of the Bricklayers (2010)
Chapter 7: Ironman Germany - What Happens When A Man's Nut Freezes?
Chapter 8: Marine Corps Marathon - The Orphans Shall Be Fed
Chapter 9: Challenge Copenhagen -  The Nutcracker Does Europe
 
If this race report seems long to you then your nut is cracked beyond repair.  Try wearing a cup next time.  If you are single lady living in the Clarendon/Ballston/Court House areas, try wearing underwear for once. Repeat after me ... underrrrrwareee
 
===========
PRE-RACE
===========
 
I came to Denmark with Ed M, Saguna H, and Dan A.  Along the way we picked up an American expat/super Ironman stud living in Denmark (Adam W), who is a friend a DCTri chick with an extreme Asian fetish (Lisa Kilday).  Adam came in second in his age group at the Danish short course championship.
 
Ed (swim), Adam (bike), and Saguna (run) made up the relay team while I did the entire show.  Dan, Saguna's boy toy, was our sherpa.  This was a vacation/race for us.  Ed and I did Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden while Saguna and Dan did Germany, Denmark, and Spain.  I believed Ed also went to visit his motherland, Iran, after everyone left Europe. Ed and Dan are two of the guys that you should always travel with.  They know their European history and places of historic importance.  It was like traveling with a tour guide and a history teacher.
 
Prior to the trip, we got some helpful race and local dinning advice from a 2x Ironman and fellow DCTri member, Kaj L.  Kaj is a Danish military officer, living in DC, who did the race last year. I believed his advice to me was to not get naked in the coed changing tent.  Apparently, Danish women don't like naked Vietnamese in the changing tents.  It scares them, but I didn't come to Denmark with a G-string just for show.  I came to represent America! 
 
This was definitely my best overall experience of the 4 IMs that I've done.  I'm not just talking about the race, but all the stuff surrounding it.  For example, I did one of my pre-IM practice open water swim in a lagoon, heated by volcanoes ... in Iceland.  It doesn't get any better than that.
 
Below is the pic of the lagoon that I swam in.  Those black things that look like mountains and hills surrounding the logoon are volcanic ashes and rocks.
 
 
==============
BIKE RACKING
==============
 
The bike racking in T1 occurred along a man-made beach.  Along this beach, near the transition area, are beautiful drop dead gorgeous Danish women sunbathing ... topless.   It was as if I died and went to Vietnamese heaven ... you know, the one that has Pho for dinner every night of the week served by topless Danish women.  Yep, that one.
 
Anyway, you go to rack your bike and you are confronted with Euro bike racks that you have no idea what to make of.  You want to take pictures, but you are afraid of getting arrested on foreign soil.  What other race out there has that kind of transition set up!?
 
=======
SWIM
=======
 
The swim was a wave start, which was a bit of a disappointment for me.  To me, the essence of Iron distance racing is throwing 2,000-3,000 people in the same open water and let them beat the crap out each other.  It doesn't matter if you are a 70 year old church going grandmother, you get an elbow in the face and a foot in the mouth if you were in somebody's way.  That's the beauty of Iron distance racing ... everybody treats you like you're a Vietnamese.
 
The swim took place in brackish ocean water off the coast of Denmark.  It was a beach start, taking place in a protected cove.  You'd swim straight out into the Baltic Sea toward Sweden, make a quick left in the middle of freaken nowhere, another quick left in the middle of another freaken nowhere, and then head back toward land.  Somewhere along the swim, you pray that you don't get picked off by Somali pirates or taken as a sex slave by Danish Mermaids.
 
The water temp was a bit cool to start (65-ish), but was perfect once you've warmed up.  It was probably one of the most scenic swim I've ever been in.  On an out and back swim, you'd swim under two bridges going out toward the North Pole and three bridges coming back.  I'm not sure how that happened other than the fact that I was so slow that they built another freaken bridge while I was still at sea. 
 
You had spectators lined up on all of the low hanging bridges cheering you on as you swam underneath.  Each bridge had a gigantic sign showing the meter marker that you were at.  There were very few buoys on the course, but you really didn't need any.  You just aim for the bridges and away from the Somali pirate ships and you'd be ok.  They also had scuba divers out on the course, which scared the shit out of me.  I didn't know if those bubbles were coming from scuba divers or Danish Mermaids cruising for a good looking Vietnamese sex slave.
 
Below is a pic of what the swim looked like from on top of one of the bridges.  The pic was taken by Saguna.  It's a beautiful pic showing what swimming in the open water is like and what vast distance a 2.4 miles swim actually is.  You can't even see the start line over in the horizon in the pic ... scary image for a non-swimmer.
 
 
This was my first 2.4 miles of continuous swim of any kind.  I've never even done it in a pool.  I'd figure that in a man's lifetime, he only has x number of 2.4 miles swim in him before he drowns.  Why waste it in a pool where someone can find your body?
 
My other three Ironmans had been two loop swims where you get out of the water, cross a timing matt, vasaline your nipples, and jump back in.  It was a frightening to be out there that long.  I mean, how the heck do you prevent nipple chaffing if you can't take a break in the middle of a swim?
 
Being out there for hours like that, a lot of things go through a man's head.  I was like, "what kind of dumb ass swims out into the middle of the Baltic Sea without a cuesheet and a compass!?"  After awhile, I would realized that I was that dumb ass.  The mental strain was great.  The only thing that pulled me through was my royal pedigree.
 
When I say royal pedigree, I meant the ability to walk on water.  There were a few stretches during the swim that the water level was low enough (chest high) for me to walk.  I gave some thoughts to manning up and swimming the whole thing, but then the vertical swimmer in me took over.  I'd be a fool not to take advantage of my aqua walking skills. 
 
There was point at the last turnaround buoy where my hamstring cramped.  The pain was so intense that I couldn't even swim.  I pulled up to look for a kayaker for help, but none was around.  I resorted to what I do best.  I floated on my back and played dead, as a mechanism for recovery.  Luckily, my playing dead was only an act.  It took about 15 seconds of intense praying before it went away.  I then just slowly swam the last 300 meters toward the swim exit.
 
By the time that I got out of the water, I was too distraught to figure out what my swim time was.  I was filled with tears and other female emotions.  I swear to you that I thought that it was somewhere in the 2-hour range.  I did a lot ... a lot of walking during the swim.  It wasn't until later, when I meet Ed biking around the run course, that I found out what my swim time was.  Ed told me that I was somewhere near 1:30.  I thought that he was lying to me.  In the vertical swimming scene, that's Michael Phelp's territory.
 
I ended up going 1:28, which was a 12-13 minutes swim PR.  Not bad for a vertical swimmer.  Pretty incredible, actually, since I had spent less time in the pool than in all of my prior IMs.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact that lots of you bastards are peeing at the Wilson pool.  That kind of thing distracts me and gives me the false impression of how awesome my swim stroke is.  I curse at you all.  May your children not be potty trained until they're 20.
 
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T-1
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Good 'ol European transition tents ... coed.  Need I say more?  I think that I saw Ed, who was doing the relay, sitting in T-1 with a cigar, Hugh Hefner bathrobe, and a lawn chair in the corner observing this European phenomenon after he completed his swim.  If you look him up, I think his T-1 time was 16 hours.
 
P.S. The next time that you see Ed, ask him to show you all of the pics that he took in T-3.  Do the stuff in some of those pics in 'Nam and they'd canned your ass to Cambodia.
 
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BIKE
======
 
Coming out of the swim, I was greeted by the Nutcracker.  It was like coming out of a bar holding hands with a girl, only to be confronted by your wife.  In your mind, you see a threesome developing.  In reality, you know it ain't going to end well.  You can try to wear a cup to defend your boys, but there is really no defense for Nutcracker technology.  You just gotta either man up or beg for forgiveness.  I ain't stupid.  I begged for forgiveness and off we went on the 112 mile journey.
 
The Nutcracker was angry, but I was focus on the task at hand.  The nutrition plan was gel every 35 minutes, electrolyte pills every hour, Infinit for extra calories and hydration, eggroll and fish sauce at the 56 mile mark, and Pho at mile 100.  You can take the man out of Saigon, but you can't take Saigon out of the man.
 
The bike was a two loop lollipop course.  The stick of the lollipop was a fast and flat 12 mile ride out of Copenhagen toward the country side.  I think that I was holding 22-23 mph without much issues.  After that ... lord have mercy on us all.
 
It was one of the most technical course that I've ever done.  Lots of 90 degrees turns and winding/twisting roads.  I saw a guy in full aero gear and disc wheel go down about 5 miles into the race near one of the hard turns.  It was then that decided that I wasn't going to try to be a better man than he was.  I was going to get out of aero at anything that looked like a turn or a twist.  The Tuanman wasn't about to prove that he can fracture the only good clavicle he has left on foreign soil.
 
We had some bitching and relentless rolling hills for about 70 miles of the ride, with a few climbs to top things off.  There weren't any major climbs, but those rollers just test the strength of your nuts, in the aero position.  Kaj had told me ahead of time that the bike course was extremely flat and fast.  Let me state for the record that
    A.  Kaj is a liar
    B.  A European's definition of flat and fast is not the same as a Vietnamese's definition of flat and fast.
 
The wind was also a major factor for me.  It was just head wind galore.  I've paid my dues on the hills of Poolsville.  I can handle hills.  I've ridden Hains Point for a few thousand miles.  I know wind, but wind and hills for 112 miles does take its toll on you.  If I weren't such a talented and good looking guy, I wouldn't be here today to tell you all of this.  Have I mentioned yet that I like to bitch and moan?  For all we know, the bike ride was a 112 miles of no wind or hills and I just get off on bitching and moaning about anything and everything ... such as the life of Vietnamese Royalty.
 
During the first loop, I reached an intersection of a quick right and quick left.  The police officer standing there held his hands out in two different directions.  I chose one and kept going.  About a mile later, I noticed that there were no one in front of me.  I looked behind me and noticed that there were no one behind me.  I was too stubborn to admit that I **may** have made the wrong turn and veered off course.  About 1/2 mile later, I came across a local Danish cyclist and asked him where the race was.  He pointed in the opposite direction.  Yep, I was that dumb ass that managed to ride off course during an Ironman.
 
The cyclist waved his hand toward his wheels, told me to ride behind him, and he would pull me back to the course.  This is why I love the Danes.  Their men not only do not mind you sucking on their wheels, but they encourage it.  Their women, as you already know, hang out topless near the transition area.  What a wonderful group of people.
 
Anyway, the cyclist pulled me back to the original intersection where I went off course.  I shook his hand and said "thank you!"  Today, he's probably telling all his friends that he ran across some dumb ass Vietnamese who veered off course during the Ironman.  We shall not speak of this misdeed again!
 
Bike time: 5:59 ... why go 6:00, when you can go 5:59.
 
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T-2
======
 
Good 'ol Saguna and the coed T-2 tent.  I'm not sure how long she was in there when I got there, but she seemed to be having a time of her life in there.  I had to remind her that she wasn't a volunteer and that helping a Euro dude disrobe wasn't really necessary.  Ed, of course, somehow made his way from T-1 to T-2.  Words on the street is that he's still there taking pictures.
 
======
RUN
======
 
Prior to the race, we were notified that there would be 30 (not a misprint, 30), timing stations out on the s/b/r course.  There were so many freaken timing stations out there that you couldn't even urinate without getting a timing split.  You'd go into a port-a john and when you'd come out, there would be a dude standing there with a stopwatch telling you your splits. 
 
These European races are like freak shows.  I didn't even feel like pulling down my shorts when I was in some of those port-a johns.  The pressure to produce a fast port-a john split was tremendous, no wonder people pee on the bike.  However, like they teach you back at the Ho Chi Minh Daycare Center ... shake it once and leave.  No need to stress the little fella.  Again, Vietnam ... the gift that keeps on giving.
 
When I got off of the bike, I had absolutely nothing left.  That bike ride of neither wind nor hills just broke me.  I just kept singing that song in my head over and over again.  You know, the one that goes "you're sexy and you know it!"  There is sexy and there is tired sexy.  I was damn tired sexy, but sexy nevertheless.
 
I could barely breath the first 2-3 miles of the run.  Everything hurt, but sexy had to keep his feet moving.  I just kept telling myself that sexy didn't get up at 4:30 AM every morning to train just to walk the IM marathon.  I just tried to keep one foot in front of the other and slugged away. 
 
The run course was just packed with spectators.  I've never seen such support throughout the run at any triathlons that I've ever done.  They were enthusiastic in their support.  Each one of our bibs had the flag of our country.  I heard "Go USA!" quite often as I passed spectators.  It was a beautiful run course.  You run through the city of Copenhagen as well as along the river.  Below is a picture of it.
 
 
After the bike ride, I had given up all hope of attaining any kind of decent time.  The run was just an exercise of how to suck in air without feeling pain.  At about mile 24, Ed came by on his bike and told me that Athlete Tracker had predicted that I would be 30 seconds over 12 hours at my current run pace.  I'm not sure why he would play with my emotions like that.  I was perfectly content at my current pace.  He then proceeded to mock me by telling me to suck on his wheels.  I've never wanted to bitch slap someone so bad in my life, but breathing took precedence.
 
I just sucked it up and ran as fast as I could for those last 2 miles.  I probably passed about 30 people in that stretch.  As I approached the finish line, I looked up at the clock.  It showed that I was about 4 minutes under 12 hours.  The only thought that was in my mind at that moment was "BASTARD!"  I had swallowed about a liter of my own vomit trying run as fast as I could to make it under 12 hours, but as it turned out, I could have run 2 min/mile slower and still would have made it.  Ed Moser made me swallow my own vomit for no good apparent reasons other than for his own amusement ... bastard!
 
Run time: 4:15
 
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FINISH
============
 
My final time was 11:56:40.  I PRed by 1 minute.  Not too bad considering I went off course on the bike, cramped during the swim, and bitch and whined like a Redskins' fan during the run.
 
I've done a bunch of half IMs and have never broken or come close to the 6 hour barrier.  This was the second time that I've broken 12 hours at an IM.  I'm going to have to reevaluate that Vietnamese half Ironman training plan.  Perhaps that plan has me swimming too much.  Or, perhaps I need to institute more aqua walking during the swim leg of my half Ironmans.
 
You want to hear something else?  My IM swim split is faster than my fastest Sprint swim split.  My fastest IM bike split is also faster than my fastest Sprint bike split.  No, I don't know what the f**k is wrong with me.

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PHOTO ALBUM
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Here is the Iceland, Denmark, Challenge Copenhagen, and Sweden photo album of my entire trip.  Maximize your browser for a better view.  If the slideshow moves too fast, you can mouse over the pic and pause it.

https://picasaweb.google.com/Tuan2u2/ChallengeCopenhagen#slideshow/5778841439103124274 
 
Tuan, I'm sexy and I know it.