I had the chance to talk Ironman recently with TCSD member, Mike Ortiz who qualified for the Hawaiian Ironman at Ironman Canada by placing 16th out of 283 men in the 40-44 age group.  Mike’s time was 10:17:50.
CZ: I’ve got to find out right away – how did you manage to qualify at a race where you had a bloody nose during the bike portion? 

MO: I really don't know.  It certainly wasn't something I was counting on.  The early portion of the race was going pretty much as planned - until about mile 25 on the bike.  At that point, for some strange reason, I got a bloody nose.  It wasn't pouring out like a left hook from Mike Tyson, but it was good trickle.  I figured that it would stop after a short while.  Wrong.  The nose kept on bleeding and would not stop until about mile 105.  I was a little concerned, but what can you do?  Just deal with it and ignore the funny looks from the side of
the road.  Unfortunately, that isn't the end of it.  At about mile 19 of the run, the dreaded bloody nose returned!  I would grab something to drink at the aid stations and a couple of sponges to soak up the blood, then at the next aid station I would throw away the blood soaked sponges and get a couple more for the next mile.  Again, more funny looks.  This lasted until about mile 25.  Oh yeah, I suffered a couple of asthma attacks while on the bike and run due to the forest fires.  I won't bore you with the details, but man, what a day.

CZ: Hmmm, the nose bleed temporarily stopped at mile 105 of the bike.  That’s exactly where I threw up in the 1992 Ironman Canada.  That’s a special spot for both of us.  How did you get started in triathlon? 

MO: I pretty much jumped into it due to peer pressure.  I have a very good friend who raced in Kona a couple of times.  I figured, if he can do - I can do it.  Growing up, I played football and baseball for about 12 years.  Then I got really interested in cycling while I was at San Diego State mostly due to the fact, that my car burned up and my ten speed was my only mode of transportation.  I then started racing in a few Coors Light Duathlon races and became hooked on the multisport scene.  If I could only swim!!   

CZ: What Ironman races have you done in the past?

MO: IM Kona 2003 will be my 5th Ironman in since 1999.  I've raced:
IM Hawaii 1999.  Finished in 11:52.  I got really lucky with a lottery spot. That was my first Ironman ever and only my 4th triathlon race.  I kinda jumped right into the fire. 
IM California 2001.  Finished in 10:48. 
IM Canada 2002.  Finished in 10:08.  I qualified for IM Hawaii that year, but I passed on my spot.  My best friend was getting married on the same day as the race.  I think that my friend wanted me to qualify this year more than I did.  
IM Canada 2003.  Finished in 10:17 and qualified.
IM Hawaii 2003.  ??? 

CZ: How do you juggle Ironman training with family and work?

MO: I always tell people the race itself is the easy part.  First and foremost, my wife Cindy, is very understanding and supportive.  She knows me inside out and understands that I love to compete and the lifestyle.  My wife runs and rides recreationally and occasionally does a race.  So that helps.  I have three young daughters.  Julie age 5, Melanie age 4 and Tracie age 3. That's right - 3 kids in 31 months!  The kids are awesome.  They go to the races and really get into it.  It's a pure joy to have them with me.  Sometimes, when I go for my long rides and/or runs.  I will meet them at certain place, like at a certain beach or up in Newport Beach to visit friends.  So far, it's been a pretty good system.  I am so very lucky to have such an understanding family!!  

I work as an outside sales representative.  So there are times when I can get the extra time at lunch or start a Friday workout at 3pm.  My manager thinks I'm a little wacko, but he's totally supportive.  I usually will swim or run on my lunch break and get on my trainer at night.  It gets a little hectic, but I think it's worth it.   

CZ: Is there a most important workout that you have to get in to succeed at Ironman distance racing? 

MO: I pretty much go by how I feel for that day and rely on my past experiences.  I don't keep a log or bike computers.  In that respect,
I'm not quite the person to ask when it comes to giving IM training advice.  I think that a major factor to succeed at IM racing is nutrition during the race and that really comes through experience.  Also, I try not get so wrapped up in training, where I neglect to do other fun things in my life.  Like going to a pub with a couple of buddies!!  I love to compete and have successes in races, but at the same time I try not to take myself to seriously. 

CZ: What does it mean to you to race in Kona at the World Championships? 

MO: It is something that I really wanted to do this year.  Mainly because I passed on my spot last year and I really had to dig deep a couple of months ago at IM Canada.  Also, it should be one heck of a party this year after the awards dinner!  Our whole family is going, plus one of my brothers and sister and a couple of friends.  We're really looking forward to it.  My kids have practically had a "Kona Countdown" since IM Canada.  It should be a lot of fun.

CZ: What will your triathlon goals be in 2004 and beyond?

MO: Next year I'm going to race IM Coeur d’Alene and we'll see what that day brings.  If I can get back to Kona - fantastic.  If not, there are other interests that I can begin to enjoy sooner like surfing or golfing.  But, most of all, I plan to have some fun training and racing with a few friends!

CZ: It will be great to race with you in Kona.  Hopefully you won’t need any more sponges and I won’t need a barf bag.  Good luck and thanks for sharing.