Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Race Weekend Report Augusta 70.3

Just to get this out of the way, I am completely, and utterly, insane. Continue to read this rant at the risk of losing your own sanity, or catching whatever H1N70.3 bug I caught 9 months ago.

Well, technically, I didn't catch the 70.3 bug 9 months ago, I only wanted to get into shape and try to be a better person by helping people whith blood cancer, but that is when my symptoms began to escalate. This is not the stream of conciousness I wanted to go down, so you will just have to ask if you want to know stuff from the beginning. This is supposed to be about my first 70.3 at the Inaugural (sp?) Ironman Augusta 70.3 race in Augusta GA.
Have I mentioned that I have never seen so many in-shape, bad-assed people in one place EVER? I am sure it doesn't hold a candle to the Full Ironman race in Kona, or even the full Ironman Florida race, but I have never attended one of those, now have I. Anyway, I packed during the morning last Friday, and Coach came to pick me up around 10am. Bike on the bike rack, bags in the back, and we were off. 6 hour ride, 1 stop for a bacon-cheeseburger at Cracker-Barrell, couple of bathroom breaks, and we were there. We put our bikes in the room (we were 3 of 5 people sharing 2 rooms at the host hotel. A side note I learned from the coach, if you can afford it, always stay at the host hotel. The Expo is downstairs, the shuttle buses pick you up at the door, the finish line is near, and they are not shocked when 3 people wheel 3 bikes into the elevator) and headed to the area where we could go to a briefing and pick up our race packets. We just barely made it into the last briefing of the day, and then picked up our race packet. This was good because then it was out of the way, but it was bad because the Bennetts were speaking during this time, and we missed it. SPOILER ALERT: this was made worse by the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Bennett both took first place in men and women's pro divisions.
So, we got checked into the race, and went throught the Expo once. I guess they did not really know how many people would be there, because the Expo part of it was jammed into a tiny space, and they could have used twice the area to make it merely crowded instead of forcing us to walk all over each other. I weighed in when I picked up my packet for Clydesdales, and came it at a comfortable 246. I think this was because of the Bacon-Cheese Burger and possibly because I had my cell phone in my pocket. Or it could be because I am still quite a big guy. We will work on that later. I did not get any comments from the guy like my friend who weighed in for Athena. I guess when she weighed in she muttered, "Gosh, that a little more than I thought it would be." and the guy said, "Maybe you should stop eating at McDonalds." Some people have no respect for others.
Then we met up with the our friends from Advanced Cycles and headed off to eat at a seafood restaurant up the road. Hotel, bed, sleep. Woke up, eat breakfast at hotel, then went to expo for a bit. Then we went to test out the swim. The current was awesome! Water was cool when you jumped in, but you got used to it. It was pretty cool, if you let go of the dock, you started to float down the river! We spent a couple minutes seeing what the water felt like, and mentally preparing for the race, and then we got out and went to the hotel. After that, Coach and a couple of us drove the bike course. This was a great thing to do, since we found that the course was pretty much all country roads, and we had an idea for the quality of the roads and the hills we would be in for. If you watch the video of the course you get a different feel for it than if you are actually out there. We knew from the ride that there was really no place on the course where the road was flat. It was all either up, or down. We got back to the hotel, rode our bikes to transition, then went to dinner. Carraba's was packed. We waited over an hour to be seated, and we ended up not being seated but taking 5 seats together at the pasta bar, then waited another hour to be served our food. 3 hours after arriving at Carraba's we picked up a couple things at the grocery store and headed back to the hotel. Asleep at 11, awake at 5, woke up the guys at 5:30, then off to the race.
We caught the shuttle to transition, set up, grabbed our wetsuits and grabbed the next shuttle to the Swim start. As I am getting off the shuttle, I hear the announcer start the professional women's wave. HOLY SMOKES! I have to check in my bag and get into my wetsuit because my wave is in less than 15 minutes! Bag check was relatively short - thank goodness - and i am getting better at putting on my wetsuit. I walked forward to where I am supposed to stand to get started, but I do not see any green swim caps. Wha?? Then i see some in the distance, RIGHT BEFORE THE GATE TO GO DOWN THE DOCKS! I push my way forward through the crowds of anxious swimmers to my group of swim caps, and don my cap and get my goggles ready. Then the wave before us starts and we are heading down the dock to get started. I made it! I look around at the group of people who are surrounding me and notice that they all look like very strong, accomplished athletes. Uh oh, this is going to be a long day... I finally get to the dock when the announcer says "30 seconds" and I jump in the water, brush off the chill, and the announcer says 3, 2, 1 and the horn sounds. I start the swim amidst flailing hands, splashing feet, and bobbing green caps. Within about 300 yards it starts to spread out and I am able to start taking longer strokes. at about 5-600 yards I am in my groove and swimming well. As I pass under a walking bridge I curb my desire to roll onto my back and wave at the people above me. At what I estimate to be 3/4 of the way through the swim, I look to my left and notice a few pink caps swimming alongside me. I am passing people who started in the wave 4 minutes in front of me, WHOOO!! I can see green caps in front, pink caps in front, green caps to the sides, and a silver cap or two from the waves behind me. Those guys must be bad asses. One day.... Swim finish! run up out of the water on the boat ramp, stub my toe on a bizzare block of concrete poking up about 4 inches WHA?? and run out of the water and up the grassy slope to the bike transition. CRAMP!!!!! Left moo-moo is not feeling great, but the bike is next, so I dont mind. It will stretch out, right? Then there was this big line of people helping rip wetsuits off of my competitors. I took a step to the right, and then used my feet to get out of mine myself. I could have probably saved 2 seconds by sitting down and having someone rip off my suit, but I am not working on setting a speed record here, just relaxing and enjoying the experience!
Swim: 28:43
T1 was nothing spectacular. I took off my wetsuit, I put on my cycling stuff, I put my gels in my pockets, I checked to make sure I had everything, like, 3 times then I left. Again, I am not setting a land-speed record here, I am just starting, and would be worse off if I forgot something than saving a minute or two out of 350 minutes!
The bike course was great. All hilly, no real flat spots. Lots of country roads. I would say that half was new road, and half really needed to be new roads. There were a ton of people who got flat tires or had mechanical issues of one type or another. Of the five people we had in our group, two had issues with mechanical issues on the bike. I really enjoyed my ride, and rode my race. Lots of people passed me. I passed a few people, but I really had a race in mind when I started out, and I know there are people who are better fit than I am. This is my first race of this volume, and my goal was to complete it as best as I could, not to beat anyone or to get first in anything. This is how I was coached, and now that I have experienced it, I have to agree. The first time you do a new endurance distance, you have to plan your race, and race your plan. Do not deviate or there would be dire consequences. If you are new to triathlon and reading this, the last couple of sentences are for you. No matter what! Even if you are great at sprint or olympic distances, the first HIM should be planned, and then you race your plan.
Bike:3:08:49 Average speed 17.8
I had to pee in T2. There was only one person by the porta-cans so I chose this as the time to do it. I like that it was a good choice.
T2: 5:12
Running has never been my strong suit. I am not going to go into the agony of the run, or how it seemed like it took forever. I started by using the Galloway method of running 4 minutes, walking 1, running 4, walking one. I had done a 12 mile run during training using this method, and it had gotten me through it, but I am still not fit enough to run 13.1 miles without walking, and especially after a 30 minute swim, and a 3 hour pretty hard bike ride. I think Galloway was the only way that I had a chance to finish the race. This is what I was coached to do, and that was the plan, so I raced the plan. The run was agony, and it seemed like it took forever, but I loved the cowbells and the cheering and the, "Hey, that guy is on his second lap! GO 543!". I don't like that I was passed by several hundred people, but that is what happens when I am in one of the first waves, and I am not a strong runner. I averaged 12:40 for the first 6.5 miles, and 13 and change for the second 6.5.
Run: 2:49:47 Avg 12:57.
If you have done a 70.3 or more distance and think that run time is slow, I would be happy for any recommendations. I know this is my weak race leg and plan on putting in the mileage over the next 4 months to make it stronger during the off season. If you haven't raced a HIM and think that my run time is slow, you can suck it. Endurance racing is really really friggin hard, and until you run/walk 13.1 miles in my shoes after a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike at roughly 18mph through the hills of South Carolina, then shhh.
Anyway, finishing was awesome. I don't really know what to do down the chute, so I just ran to the end, crossed the line, and got out of the way. I grabbed a water, got my medal, they took off my timing chip, and i exited the chute on the other side of the loop, where there is about 1 mile to go to the finish. I didn't see any of my friends pass me, so I figured this would be a great place to look for them, so I sat down. Really that thought was an afterthought. I just sat down cause I could not stand or walk any longer. I had the best intentions before I started the race. I was going to go get my checked bag and grab a recorder and record my friends and coach as they passed, but this turned out to be folly. As I looked down at myself I realized I messed up with elecrolytes again, as I was covered in salt. This is something I need to work on more until I can get it right. I figured that since it was not as hot as it normally is when i train, that I did not need to take as much enduralytes, but really, it was as hot as i usually train once i got to the run, and i still needed electrolytes and more fluid.
Total time: 6:37:39
I have to say here that the only reason I crossed the finish line was because of the support of my family, and the instruction I got from my coach. In January when I signed up for Team in Training, I could not run a mile. I could not ride 10 miles on the bike at 15mph without rest, and I could not do the crawl stroke across the 25 yards of the pool without stopping in the middle to float for a minute, or do the breast or side stroke. In 7.5 months, my coach took me from that point, to completing a Half Ironman with a pretty respectable time, without injury. WITHOUT INJURY. That is pretty friggin awesome, and I appreciate CB more than I think she knows. (well, until she reads this, then she will think she knows, but she still wont.)
I also need to mention that i really appreciate my wife and kids who have sacrificed for me to train, and to purchase what I felt I needed to do this race. They have been missing me, and I understand and love them for supporting me and letting me do this.
Now to the crazy part. Last night was my first night home from Augusta. I started getting really stiff yesterday in the car, and even more stiff once I went to bed. When I woke up at 3:30AM this morning, I almost could not make it into the bathroom to pee, and then I hobbled back to the bed. As i lay there in bed after using the bathroom, and trying to go back to sleep, my mind started working. I spent the next 2.5 hours thinking about how I could get better, how I can work on my running, and about the race I had done, and what I can do to make the next 70.3 better. I am INSANE, but I love it.

I will be spending 4 months in the off-season working on improving my running technique, speed, and endurance, and then I will be building back up for the Gulf Coast 70.3 in May. Stay tuned for my new goals, new milestones, and the interesting things that will result from my pursuit of a new PR!

By the way, I am sure I missed some things from the weekend, so as I remember to, I will post them in subsequent days as I remember them.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Packed and ready to go.

I am packed and ready to go to Augusta for my 70.3. Visualizing putting my bags in the car, and my bike on the rack. Don't get sick, don't get sick, don't get sick. Middle son is home from school again today, sick. Eldest was sick at the beginning of the week. I am wildly suseptable since I started taper. Don't get sick, don't get sick, don't get sick.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

another dream

In this one, I am in the run portion of the 70.3, and about half way (fade in) we burst out of the elevators and ask where the operating room is. They point, and we go to the end of the hall to find a pristine hospital operating room. We pull the card and find out what our challenge is.
Ok, when did they inject impossible challenges from The Amazing Race into IronMan races??? My brain is on overdrive, and I have no idea where it is going to stop.
So, tuesday, my eldest son was sick, and so wednesday i took some emergen-C to make sure i didn't get sick. Then the middle one came home and was really not feeling good. I am working from home now and he is slurking and wheezing and blowing his nose on the couch. I took the vitamin-c, the emergen-c, and some cold-eeze losenges so i dont get sick. I have also been washing frequently so i dont get sick. This is the worst time for them to be getting sick, since i am in the middle of my taper and I am worried that my body is thinking, "rest time? must be time to get sick!" I know how that works! Did i also mention that i took an Advocare SLAM to get the B vitamins, and the other stuff that is in SLAM which provides energy and also works to prevent a cold. They should really market that to people who have colds. I don't know if it would work for that, but i bet it does, and it is a huge market. Non-celebrity super cold relief - without a prescrition.
Anyway, this morning I did my final bike training during taper week before my race. The aero bar adjustment was just right, and I felt comfortable during the entire ride. I kept the ride to race pace for the most part, and only went a little faster at one point to catch up to a group of riders. I am not sure why i wanted to catch up to them, because they all speak fluent spanish and I could not understand a word they said, but I did. We all followed a rider who looked like he was trying to create the biggest possible blister in the worst possible place. I could not understand what the crazy puertoricans were saying, but i know they were laughing and making fun of the guy. It looked like he had some fighting wildcats in his biker shorts. I would estimate his cadence at about 90, but for some reason he was bouncing - A LOT. One of the other riders tried to emulate what he was doing, but could not because most of us can easily pedal at that cadence. Maybe his seat was not right, or something.... I don't know. All I DO know is that he is going to be sore for weeks. I would throw in a "as sore as..." here, but I can not think of anything that is socially acceptable to compare to being sore in that particular spot. It would go downhill from there.
So, here I sit, doing laundry, amp'd up on vitamin C, and waiting for the end of the workday so I can officially be on race-prep time. Just so you know, I am also load testing an e-learning web solution using HP LoadRunner. That is the Nerd part. I just don't talk about it much.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dream a little dream

Only a couple more days until my first test at the Half Iron Man distance. I am on taper, and my stomach is a bit jumpy. My dreams are all about racing, and so far, there have been as many good results in my dreams as bad.
Bad result: Before the OUC sprint tri that I did the bike leg for the corporate relay, I dreamt that I started my leg in a large parking lot. I was unsure of the course, so I followed another cyclist, who proceeded to cyclocross across a ditch, and finished the bike course in 4 minutes. In my dream I was disqualified, and my arguement that "I was just following that guy over there" was not good enough.
Good result: Last night, after watching some online videos about Iron-man races, and triathlons, I envisioned that it was 15 degrees cooler than what I was training for, and that gave me super-human strength. My dream logic is sound, right? If an additional 10 degrees warmer causes performance to decrease by 20%, then being 15 degrees cooler will give me a 30% edge over what I have been training for? I should also mention that in the dream lots of people went to swim the course on Saturday before the race, and the second shock of the river didn't happen until that evening, so several hundred people got sick for the race. I know that is not really nice, but it allowed me to place in my division (0-39 clyde). Again, it is a dream, people, I am not hoping anyone gets sick. That would suck.
On another note, I have my new bike, and have ridden it some and am VERY comfortable on it. It is like it was made for me. My first 35 mile ride resulted in no lower body discomfort, and a minor adjustment is going to take care of the upper body discomfort that I was feeling in my shoulders. I may even be able to catch up on some sleep during the race because it is so comfortable. Well, maybe not, but still, I love it.
Taper is going well. My legs are feeling pretty good. I felt some popping in my shoulders during the swim on Tuesday, but there was no pain, so I was able to continue. I think it had to do with the new position on the bike, and over time the strength will increase and the popping will go away. Good thing about this is that the race starts with swim, so I will be good until the bike, when my shoulders will get way tired, and then they will be able to hang free and sway back and forth just fine for the run. This would suck if the swim was last. They may have fallen off in the water if that were the case.
So, Friday is the travel day, saturday is the big expo and final little workout, and Sunday is the big race. My start is 2o minutes after the Pro's go, so the slow ones will have the honor of passing me on their second loop of the run while I start my first. That will be about 3+ hours into it, so if they have their names on their butts like I see some of them doing, then I will recognize them.
I am way nervous and excited. Erk!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A taste of the win.

Yesterday was the OUC Orlando sprint triathlon! Horray! This is the first time I have ever done a relay, and the pressure was on. My company had done this race last year, and had gotten 1st place in the corporate relay division. The guy who did the bike last year blew out his knee, so they were down one member. I let them know that I would be interested in participating, and that if given a choice, I would prefer the bike leg. Kirby is a pretty kick-ass swimmer, and Craig is a really really great runner, so that seemed to be perfect. We called ourselves the Pale-Ails, since Kirby was recovering from a bulged vertebrae, and Craig had recently had abdominal surgery and was still in recovery. Kirby said he would be going a little slower cause he hadn't been swimming lately, so would only be putting up 1:30 100's, and Craig said he was slow and would only be doing 6:30 miles. HOLY COW! So I was the weak link, but still we had a pretty killer team, and I just had to make sure that nobody passed me on the bike.
The race started, and I waited....and waited...and waited. Our swim heat was 30 minutes after the race started - time enough for transition to begin seeing elite people transitioning from the bike to to run by the time we transitioned to the bike! I got the signal from Craig that Kirby was about 2 minutes out, so I got ready. Then I saw the first silver colored cap - it was a 13 year old kid! but right behind him was kirby. He was easy to notice since he is 6'5" and pale. (hence the pale-ails) we ran into transition together, and ran to the bike. I already had shoes and helmet on, and he threw over the chip for me to velcro onto my ankle. Then I grabbed my bike and was off! Running, running, running, running. All the way down the bike racks, then all the way back to the beginning of the transition. I crossed the mat and jumped on the bike. I pushed down the pedal, and there was no resistance!!! NO RESISTANCE! My chain was not even on in the front.
Ok, the day had not started on a great note. I woke up and put on my racing outfit, including my long-sleeved UA heatwear, and headed out to put the bike in the car while eating some yogurt and oatmeal. Flat tire in the rear. I pumped it up to see if it would hold air, but i knew it would not. Once I got to the race, I decided to change it. I am thinking that is when the chain slipped off without me noticing. Note here: the markings guy(his name must have been Richard because he sure was a d..) did our markings, and insisted I needed arm markings. He also mentioned that I should take my UA shirt off. Why? Because it is too hot. But this keeps me cool! Dick shook his head side to side, so I put my UA shirt back into my bag, and donned my bike shirt - WHICH STILL COVERED THE BODY MARKINGS COMPLETELY! Anyway, back to the race.
...no resistance on the pedal! I reached down and spent 15 or so seconds to pull the chain up onto the sprocket and I was off! The little part at the beginning was kinda fun, and I started passing people. "On your left" I would call when I passed someone. It became kind of a chant after a bit into the race, and it was fun. I whizzed by whole groups of people and if I saw a medium speed person getting ready to pass a slow person, I would call "ON YOUR LEFT" and whiz by. The first straight stretch down South street must have had some grade to it, and the wind must have been at our backs, because I flew down that road. 27mph whoot!. Then a right turn (I would rather have had more left turns, but eh, what can you do?) There was the wind. down to 20mph, then another right turn and full headwind with a slight incline. I tucked into aero and maintained 18mph. Then a series of right then left then right turn, then another straight stretch. Weird, when we got to the place where the second lap starts, people are weaving around in the middle of the street! GET OUT OF THE WAY! Then the second loop. I was ready for the straight stretch and belted into it. Bike computer says 30mph, then right into the wind, then right into full headwind, then a little squiggle, and I am in the final stretch. Idiots! get out of the way! I passed 15 or so people in the final area leading up to the transition area, and was still calling out "On your left" and to one guy, "Hey man, I have to pass you on the left, so MOVE OVER!" I will be civil after the race. Another pet peeve of mine is people slowing to almost a stop on corners. It is not raining, GO! So I get to the black line a little quickly and the bike is not stopping. I ended up planting my foot, trying to unclip my right foot, while pinching the front brakes at the same time - back tire goes up! I am sure it looked a little goofy, but I did not cross that line.... Transition was easy, since I was one of the first of the relay people into transition, I threw my bike at the bar, and took off my chip to hand to Craig. Then he flew. He was starting out at a jog that was faster than my fastest run, but I cheered him past and sat down to figure out what planet I was on. It doesnt look like the official results are up yet for this year, but we won the corporate division this year with a time of 1:07. I did 11.5 miles in roughly 33 minutes, and we almost got the best time in all of the relay teams. I think only the first place men's team beat us, and they only got us by a couple seconds.
Overall it was a great experience, and I got that taste of a win. I have a half IM in two weeks, and even though I do not plan on coming home with first - I am going to see what it is all about, and then, who knows? I got the bug. I also found it interresting that several people in what would be my age group got under an hour. 400m swim, 11.5 bike, and 3.75 mile run with two transitions in less than an hour. That is awesome, and scary at the same time. But it is also cool to be able to see how fast it can be done, and I will work to cut my times for all three disciplines down. I just started this sport less than a year ago. I feel great about how far I have come, and at this point, I have not found a reason not to go lots farther - and faster!

P.S. Thanks CB!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Nervous as hell.

Ok. I realize that my race is only a little over two weeks away. I ordered a new bike this morning. I hope to get at least 100 miles on the bike before the race, so I can be ready, but I am nervous. I am more worried that the older bike would not hold up, than I am about fitting on the new bike. I have had an epic struggle with getting into the correct position on this new bike, and I have come to the realization that I am struggling because the bike is a little too big for me, and that it was not meant to be ridden in the aero position. It is a beginner road bike, for people to make that transition from comfort riding to racing. That being said, it has been a great bike for me to get started in this sport. Now I want to go fast, so I am going to get a Time Trial bike. Hopefully, it will get here and be ready to go on Tuesday of next week, so i will have 11 days of riding on it before the big race. I should be able to get comfy on it by then. The goal is that by being in the aero position, and on a lighter bike, that I can milk out a little more mph, and be in a better position to complete the run. AW, who am i kidding, I just really want a kick-ass bike to ride in the race.
I also received my wetsuit in the mail yesterday, and I got to try it out this morning in the lake. It was really nice. wet suits float. when you are in the water, and you are laying back, you don't really have to do anything to be in the right position in the water. I kinda felt like a cork with paddles out there, bobbing on the top of the water. I tried to kick a little, and i was immediately splashy. My feet are at the top of the water without kicking. I spent the rest of the time making sure they were directly behind me, and that they were pointed to reduce drag, and that they moved very little. Who needs to kick? I will save the legs for the bike and the run.
So, I didn't sleep much last night. Part from still recovering from my 10 mile run, part because I got a wetsuit, and part because I had already decided to buy the new bike. Visualization is a really important factor for me. For everything I do, I first visualize myself doing it, then I feel better doing it. So frequently I picture myself in a stressfull situation, and how I hope to perform. Last night I could not sleep, because things I had already placed in my movie of Augusta had changed. It is like a weird paradox of the Butterfly Effect with Aston Kutcher, only I visualize the future, not change the past. So, I had to re-record my movie, with a wetsuit, and a different bike. I also have to rework the hotel, and how I am getting there, because I canceled my hotel, and am going to ride up with friends and stay with them to save some money on the hotel room. between this savings, and the savings of not having to have the bike shop go through my road bike from tip to stern, and not driving, and such, i figured I saved at least a little bit of money to put towards the new bike, right? Naw, I am just trying to rationalize it. I really really wanted a new bike.
60/10 this weekend turned into 60.....10, but that is ok. 60 with 40 in hills, and a 10 mile run the next day is better prep in my book. Now, only 4 more days of build-up before taper begins. I have a mini-bike-race. (not a mini-bike, but a small bike race - only 11 miles.) and a 12 mile run on the workout plan. I hope I am ready.