Thursday, January 19, 2012

The full Vineman IronMan distance triathlon has been completed on July 31st, 2011. It took me about 15 hours 30 minutes:

  1. Swim 1:30
  2. Bike 7:15
  3. Run 6:30
The race report is yet to come but here are some photos from the event. Next? IronMan Canada 2012!

Monday, July 25, 2011

IronMan preparation - the time has come

The time has come. After 9 months of hard, painful but oh so exciting training it's only one week before the big day.

Next Saturday, July 30 2011 I will participate in the IronMan distance triathlon "Vineman":
- 2.4 miles swim;
- 112 miles bike ride;
- 26.2 miles run.

I will have to make it within 16 hours.

The body and spirit are strong. I can do it.

Thank you everyone who helped me on this path with your words and support, with your donations (I met my goal of $5500 fundraising). Each your email reply, your Facebook shout, every your $1 donation - kept me going towards this goal.

Come and see me going through it. It is only about 2 - 2.5 hours driving from the Bay Area. And you can do wine tasting too! - there are good wineries all over the area.

It would be really awesome to see anyone of you on the course. It always give more strength. Most probably I won't be able to stop and chat but even a brief eye contact and a smile are a big energy boost. Not to mention "Go Misha go!!" :)

If you decide to go, the best way to see me will be on the run. I expect to start running at about 3:45-4:15 p.m. and then it will be three loops about 8.7 miles each. Here is the run course map. The best place for cheering will be next to the start/finish - I will be there 4 times.

Even if you can't come - wish me good luck and send me good vibes on Saturday! Nowadays good vibes can be sent via email or SMS too :P - I can't promise to answer them immediately though :)


Friday, May 27, 2011

Week 29 - getting closer to Vineman

Hi there!

I am still here. I didn't write for 14 weeks but I am still here and training for an IronMan distance triathlon Full Vineman which is going to take place on July 30, 2011.

It's been a long but exciting journey. Six time a week training for more than half year. Intensity and time of training increasing from week to week. Great team and wonderful teammates.

I am used to running or biking on a constantly fatigued and sore muscles. I learned to swim in open water and started actually enjoying it. I am already used to my friends looking at me as crazy.

I am still afraid of falling from bike at full speed. I saw it already, a teammate fell right in front of me - lots of blood but fortunately only skin cuts and bruises.

Funny thing - I am at the same weight as I started the training season - 210 lb. I burn thousands and thousands calories and couldn't say that I eat too much. But my stubborn body doesn't want to lose that glycemic storages (a.k.a. love handles) for the fear of getting out of fuel on a 80 miles ride.

April 30, 2011 - we (our team and I) did Wildflower long course triathlon. Basically it's a half IronMan distance but much tougher because of elevation. I post some pictures from this course here.

I want to thank my girlfriend Jenia for her constant support and patience (those practices take so much time).

I would like to thank everyone who already donated - your donations make it possible for me to be on this exciting journey. I also want to thank my company for generous matching some of the donations.

I am at 78% of my fundraising goal - about $1200 to go. Please help me reach this goal and make another small step towards finding a cure for blood cancer. Here is the donation link:

Mikhail (a.k.a. Misha)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Best earplugs for swimming

From my childhood I've always had problems with my ears. When I was like 1 y.o. my left ear got cold, infected and then I got a hole in the eardrum. This problem was repeating once in a while during my childhood and even when I was older. Last time I had a hole in my eardrum when I was 17.

Even now, when I am grown up and my immune system is boosted by constant training and cold showers - even now my left ear feels sensitive. When I swim and some water get to the ear it gets quite tender, almost painful. So I am trying to keep water out of my ear as much as possible.

One approach, very archaic, is cotton swabs with Vaseline. Veery archaic and quite inefficient. The modern science found better ways of keeping your ears dry in the water. Swimming ear plugs for example.

Not all earplugs are the same though. Some are good, some not good. I've tried lots and lots of them. Some of them simply fall off. Yes, fall off and your ear is unprotected. Others leak and your ear gets water. No good. Yet others create pressure inside (they are too firm) and if your ear is tender it's painful and irritates the eardrum even more.

But it seems that finally I found earplugs that work for me very well. Then don't fall off, they don't leak, they are soft enough and don't create air pressure in the ear. Here they are: Mack's AquaBlock earplugs.

I bought them in Sports Basement in Sunnyvale and you can buy them on Amazon:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Boot Camp # 1

Successfully passed the Boot Camp. Two days - Saturday and Sunday, 7 hours of training each day. In general - 1 hour swimming, 1 hour biking, 1 hour running - then repeat. With some variations like on the second day we had 2 hours of biking (and then some bike spin for an hour or so) and only 1 hour of swimming. Also instead of 2 hours of running on a trail we had track training for an hour each day - it was like run two laps (i.e. 2x400 meters) then do core exercises (pushups, squats, lunges, crunches, burpies (oh, yes, those are my favorite killers!!!)).

So, all in all I survived 14 hours of training in two days. And not too tired today (today is Monday). We (my girlfriend and I) even went to theater yesterday and I fell asleep only 5 minutes before the end!! :P

One of the problems though was that the body stops liking the food that you eat during the continuous training and starts produce lots of acid. I was using tums (anti-acid tablets) and they were pretty helpful but still - after 5 hours you can't look at those energy bars or gu anymore.

Anyway - it was a great, super weekend! It gave me a lot of confidence that I will be able to do the physical activity for 16 hours during the IronMan event - of course with all those 5.5 months left until the event.

This week is recovery week - the trainings are not as strenuous as the last week's. Though next Sunday - a 60 miles bike ride. Strangely, I kinda look forward to it. Only one concern though - is my butt already trained enough to endure sitting for 4 hours on this narrow bike seat and absorb all those road bumps? We'll see.

Another big event will be in the beginning of April - it will be half Iron Man!!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

IronMan preparation - week 15
Feb 16, 2011 by Mikhail Gavryuchkov

First of all I want to thank all folks who donated since my last update three weeks ago: Joseph Pigg, Timur Ileev, Kate Zhukovskaya, Julia Horvath, Artem Melnykov & Iryna Malakhivska, Lutsiya Ibragimova, Robin Podesta, Chris Kennedy, Denis Gavryuchkov (yessss, my brother from Moscow!!!), Mayya & Denis Lavrenko, Robert Van Tuyl (with Gemstone Global Services), Artsiom Dolia.

Thank you guys! You are awesome! You make it possible for me to do this crazy IronMan thing. And you fight leukemia!

I am here and still training... The training becomes longer every week - last Sunday we had a 3 hours of bike riding followed by an hour of running. Strangely, the week before I couldn't do anything after practices except lying in bed. Now I can function (almost) normally - go shopping, visit friends, etc. Body seems to get used to it.

Three weeks ago we had Louie Bunpua tribute triathlon. Louie Bunpua was a leukemia patient who trained in the IronTeam and completed his IronMan distance just half a year before he passed away. Here is more about the guy:

It was my first Olympic distance triathlon: 0.9 mi swim, 26 mi ride, 6 mi run. Overall time was about 3.5 hours - I kinda don't know exactly but I got the medal (see on the picture). It was raining pretty heavily and it we were soaking during our ride (well, it doesn't matter if it's raining or not when you swim :) ). I want to thank Evgenia Tyuleneva, Iryna Malakhivska and Artem Melnykov for volunteering and helping the IronTeam in supporting the event.

A bit about my favorite way of falling off a bike. Stop, unclip the right foot from the pedal and then lose the balance and fall to the left. Because the left foot is still clipped to the pedal you can't do much and fall directly on your hand. God, it's painful! Last Sunday I thought I broke my wrist and still have some pain in it. Lesson learned: ALWAYS unclip both feet when you stop.

Another lesson. ALWAYS hold tightly your handlebars when you move downhill. I already wrote last time how I almost fell when I tried to signal the turn. Last Sunday - I move downhill and reach for the water bottle with one hand. I grab the bottle and only at this moment I start realizing that this is quite dangerous now - my speed increases and I have only one hand on the handlebar. I don't remember exactly how but I managed to slow down, put the bottle back and then grab the handle with both hands. Lesson learned: no drinking or eating downhill.

What's coming: IronMan bootcamp this weekend. 7 hours of continuos training each day both Saturday and Sunday. Heh, survival mode. :)

In the next update: 1) about inspiration; 2) I am constantly hungry. Stay tuned!

Week 12 of training

Jan 25, 2011 by Mikhail Gavryuchkov

We entered the 12th week of training. So far it's been a great run. Here are some results - goods and bads, some experience.

So far the hardest part remains running - although I've been running for so many years but gravity is definitely works against you in this discipline comparing to bycicle riding or swimming. Last Sunday we had a 10 miles run in Santa Cruz - it was quite good but not as good as I would expect - mostly because I gained 6 or 7 pounds during the holidays and got heavier. The heavier you are the harder to run - simple :)

Still - running is the easiest in terms of techniques - my body is quite accustomed to it.


I still struggle with some technique problems - I drag my legs, i.e. they are too low in the water. Partially it is because of my Ancylosing Spondilitis - my spine's curvature doesn't allow me to be as straight as I would like to be. On the other hand - I still need to practice to put my head lower in the water.

Last Sunday - my first open water swimming in a wetsuit. We went to Santa Cruz and had an hour swim exercise in the ocean. The water temperature was about 50 degrees Farenheit - about 10 degrees Celcius. I had two major surpises: 1) it was quite warm on the body inside of the wetsuit; 2) it was damn so cold on face, hands and feet. One of the best impressions - liying on the back in the water belly up, looking at the blue California sky and thinking - wow! it's so much fun to be in the ocean in January.


Biking is getting better and better. I did fitting for my bike yesterday - we ended up with simply raising the seat a little bit. I am learning more and more to use my hamstrings to pull the pedals. Last Saturday we had a 26 miles ride - with one relatively significant climbs. It helped tremendously to pull with one leg and then pull with another.

Very close to the finish like I almost fell very nastily. It was downhill and the speed was quite high. I started signaling with my arm that I turn to the right and all of a sudden I started loosing balance and swerved to the left. The only thing I remember is starting shouting "AAAAAAAAAAaaaaa!!!" and somehow (I don't even know how it happened) I regained my balance and was able to pedal further. It was quite scary. The whole day after that I was recalling this with my heart stopping.

Another great thing about this trainging - I went to CPR training and got a certificate that I know how to do CPR and AED (this is the electrical shock device to start up the heart).