Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grrrrr - a 5k Race Report

The Biggest Loser 5k in Myrtle Beach SC was this saturday. I was really trying to PR since this was my only 5k this year. I might end up with a turkey trot or something, but now is the time to really go for it. My runs have been fast lately and I was feeling good.

Before the race:

Being that this was a Biggest Loser 5k, trainer Bob Harper was there. So were Phil and Amy (from SC), Ali and Helen who were the first two female winners. There was also a giant (like 6'7") former contestant that I didn't recognize. It was very inspirational. The tv crews were there, and the episode is supposed to air on Thanksgiving. The theme was "Don't Compete, Just Complete". so there were a ton of walkers. And they all wanted to be up near the front where Bob the trainer was speaking. Apparently, they are doing 20 of these events next year and this one was the pilot. We had 2600 people signed up to run between the 5k and the 1 mile runs!

So they gave the inspirational "get America moving" speech, which is certainly something that I can get behind. But I don't think they specified the "get the hell out of my way" point quite effectively enough. The starting gun went off and we didn't move. Remember, we were maybe 30 feet behind the starting line. The former contestants led things off, and I don't remember passing them but apparently I did.

The start was incredibly congested. I started the Garmin as soon as I crossed the timing mat, and it was a full 2 minutes until I finally was able to get under a 10 minute pace! So much for PR-ing. They never said walkers should stay to the right! I didn't think you could fit that many people in the first 35 ft of a race. But I must have passed a hundred people in the first few minutes. Kelley got to talk some with Ali, one of the winners and share her weight loss story. And that meant I was going to have to stay closer to an 8 minute pace to have a chance to PR rather than the 8:20 pace I was going to try.

Once I made my way past the walkers I checked my pace. 6:54, too fast. slow down. 7:04, still too fast. 7:02, damnit slow down or your going to burn out. Even with the congestion at the start I checked my distance for the first time at 1.2 miles, about 9:20. That's way too fast, no way I can hold it.

Bob the trainer ran with the crowd some. I almost caught him, he was maybe two people ahead of me when he peeled off from the pack to join the 1 milers at their start. I still got to yell a "Hey Bob Rock on!" when I went past him and he did acknowlege it. That was kind of cool.

At 1.7 miles my abs gave out. I walked a little bit just to catch up so I could hang onto an 8 minute pace to try and muscle it out. But that's what happens when you start out too fast. The abs can't hold up. Plus they said there were two water stops along the route and I was surprised to get past halfway before seeing the first one. But I walked the water stop at 1.9 miles and a couple more times after that. But after that first water stop I couldn't hold pace consistently for any real distance.

About 2.5 miles in I just decided to stray out at a 9 minute pace. Still had to walk once more. But I should have been able to finish it out.

The route was fantastic. It was really flat, a lot of time off of the roads. It wound through an amusement park, through parking lots, and finished on the boardwalk. Once again, management was the key. Navigate the traffic at the start and keep an even pace that you can hold throughout the race. Consistency is the key.

The goal to finish was under 26:00 for a PR. When I crossed the mat I stopped the garmin at 28:16. Missed it by that much. Still I put up a valiant effort.

The official results came in, and my chip time was 26:35. I was much closer than I thought! Not sure how the chip time was that much faster than the garmin time, but ok I'll take it. Finished 133 out of 1945 finishers, which is still much higher than I was expecting too. But top 10% is nice!

Kelley at the finish after the race. She finished in 31:06 and had a great time!

My friend Mae Anne found me after the race. Blogger meetups are the best! Her husband and kids were there too and they were so sweet.

And Kelley got a pic with the big man Bob Harper! He was greeting people at the finish line, but wasn't there when either one of us finished. But during a spot while there wasn't very many people were crossing the line, she grabbed him for a pic. Bob is awesome! He was so cool and personable, I was totally starstruck.

We had to find some shade after the race. It was HOT! 90+ degrees out there. It's almost october people! this is stupid. At least we got medals.
Kelley's mom and Gene came down with us for the weekend, so they kept the girls while we were racing, and brought them to the finish line while we were running. It was great having everyone down there. The kids absolutely went nuts for the beach and the hotel.

Have you ever been to Myrtle Beach before? It's the tackiest beach in the country. You either love it or you hate it. I hate it. It's the redneck's riviera. I'm not real big on beaches to begin with, but MB has got to be the bottom of the barrel. It is the redneck's riviera.
I saw not one but TWO pregnant women in bikini's at the same time at the same pool in our hotel. Fortunately, only one of them was smoking. Kelley said she saw a third show up later.
I left the pool to go for a walk on the beach. Now the speedo I use in the pool was the only swimsuit I had on the trip, so that's what I wore to the beach. I am glad that I can say I was not the oldest, fattest, or only guy in a speedo on that beach.
I saw more exposed boobies on that beach than was really necessary. Those guys really should have covered up.
The beach was kind of crowded, but not by peak summer standards. Still, there was between 800 and 900 women out on that beach. Approximately 750 were wearing bikini's. 2 of those women were actually dateable (if I was in a position to notice dateable women which I'm not). Maybe 30 of those women were under age 50.
The pool, the beach, everywhere else in Myrtle Beach except the race site. It was a parade of "what not to wear". Or at least "what not to wear when you're that damn old". or that size. or both. So I fit in great.
So final thoughts: Great race. Well organized. Great cause. I might be on national TV. MB sucks but it is a flat place to race. My bottom line is my bottom. I am still carrying around 200 - 207 lbs, and I just can't push 8 minute miles at that weight. I also can't push the bike faster that 18 mph consistently (see Patriots race report) at that weight. I have started reading Racing Weight, and it's time to admit that I can't get any faster without slimming down. Even this weekend, I need to make Ryan's dreams come true and hit the beach in that Speedo thong, but make it look good like he does. Is it going to get boring if I start posting some weight numbers?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I really only needed few days to recover from the half ironman. Felt pretty good most of last week. I'm still pissed off at cycling. And a bit frustrated with the swimming. But I'm still loving all of the extra running. It's time to get back into a nice winter running routine.

And it starts this weekend! We've got the Biggest Loser 5k in Myrtle Beach on saturday. My only goal is simply to PR. It's the first (and maybe only) standalone 5k on the year. My current PR is a flat 26 minutes, and I still have no idea how I actually got there. To break 26:00, I need to target an 8:20 pace maximum. Last night at the gym I killed 4 miles at an 8:27 pace so the expectation is set. 8:20 or bust!

We have a new addition to the backyard:

Halfway done after the weekend (but in the sunlight)
And with the beam up monday night and everybody playing....

You see the extent of their involvement in the construction process.
Actually the girls were very involved and helpful in the tearing down and rebuilding of the swingset. Bigun really got the hang of hammering. It went really well but took a LOT longer than I thought it would. It came together really nicely and they love it.
It feels good to get back into a more regular routine after the half ironman. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bring The Pain

I completed the Patriots Half for my second half Iron distance triathlon and it was a classic. The Patriots Half? On September 11th? The setting was ideal, and ripe for a nice PR. Unfortunately, I was running the Patriots half. Results:

1. Don't die
2. Break 3 hours on the bike split
3. Break 6 hours total time

1. Sucess! basic survival was achieved.
2. Fail. 3:08:45
3. Epic Fail. 6:55:54

Swim 1.2 miles: 54:06 321/360 men, 71/81 AG
T1: 6:50 354/360, 76/81
Bike 56.5 miles: 3:08:45 303/360, 66/81
T2: 4:09 322/360, 68/81
Run 13.1 miles: 2:42:05 330/360, 75/81
Overall 70.3 miles: 6:55:54 328/360, 72/81 including 2 DNF's

Williamsburg is known for having a great outlet mall. I found a gem at the Converse outlet store:

The red socks came with the race packet. We got into town Friday night and it is a really cool place. The College of William and Mary is there. It's a very old college with regal buildings and a cool campus.

The town of Williamsburg is very historic. We'd love to come back for a family vacation sometime. It would be really cool to come with someone who was a history major.

Does anybody know what this is?

We've been calling it Brain Fruit because it looks like a brain. Or maybe a moldy orange. Anyway it's hard and I'd love to know what the heck it is. We picked up a couple at the packet pickup to take back for the girls to play with. They loved 'em! Just being weird and bumpy is enough to keep them entertained.

The race packet had a great tech shirt, the red socks above for the Virginia Triathlon Series from SetupEvents, a race belt and plenty of other good swag. We headed back to the hotel to power down for the big race. The race director was saying how fast the second half of the bike course was, how we were going to be swimming with the current..... I was really feeling good ready to get a nice PR and meet my goal times. The weather looked good with a high of 81 and sunny skies.

Race Day:

We got up at 5:00, rolled for breakfast and got out the door. Turns out that wasn't quite early enough. I got my chip and got bodymarked before ever making my way into the transition area. Thank goodness I did. Right after I found my rack the guy on the microphone said that TA was closing in FOUR minutes??? Whoah, I only had 4 minutes to get all of my stuff setup and make my way to the swim start. I threw together what I could, hit up some suntan lotion and that was all.

I actually left TA without my chip, then had to run back in, strap on the timing chip, and head out while carrying the wetsuit, cap & goggles. We had to walk to the swim start, and I thought that walk was a bit short. It only took about 10 minutes to get there. And while that doesn't sound like a short walk, I knew where the swim finish was and that was too close.

The Swim: 1.2 miles: 54:06 321/360 men, 71/81 AG

The swim was brutal. Absolutely the most difficult swim I've ever had in a race or not. Even more difficult than the Festival of Flowers oly swim where I threw up a few times. I've covered 2 miles in the pool in 1:17, so 54 minutes for only 1.2 miles is pathetic.

I still looked happy here. We did all the normal prerace stuff, prayer, national anthem, but there was also a moment of silence for the 9/11 remembrance. I noticed plenty of military people among the athletes too. Very cool.

Dang, that dude looks mean. He's ready to kick some ass.

The weather was perfect. The crowd was all amped up, the river seemed calm. The sun was shining and temps were still in the high 60's. It did turn out to be a wetsuit legal race, so I was suited up. As of Friday it was still not wetsuit legal.

The cool thing in this picture? The chick on the right looking my way. Guess what I'm doing? If you said pissing in the wetsuit, you'd be right! I really had to pee before it was time to get in the water but had no time to hit the port-a-let. Normally you just let loose when you get in the water, but it was so shallow. We weren't even waist deep for the starting line. So I got out to about knee deep and got comfy.

Here you can see the start of my wave - the green caps. We walked the first couple of minutes just aquajogging until it got deep enough to start swimming. That was kind of strange.

Here's where it started to go really wrong. Other people were swimming too. Actually in the far top right of this picture you can kind of see a yellow triangle bouy. It was about a half mile out and we had to swim diagonally against the current into the current.


And it sucked too. It was the first time I found myself in the washing machine. I got kicked in the head. I have never accidentally grabbed that many men's asses before. One dude actually pushed me aside for swimming too close to him. I swam over a couple of chicks too, which means the waves that started after me caught up and passed me before hitting the first turn. I got way off course, did a lot of breast stroke, even puked once. First time I've done that this year. freaking rough.

It took me about 35 minutes just to get out there. Once I made that left hand turn it took about 5 minutes to make it the 0.2 miles to the next triangle bouy then it was half a mile cross-ways against the current again! At least this time it wasn't too active of a fight. Maybe 15 minutes to get back to the shore.

Holy crap! That wife of mine does have an eye for candy.

Once we got out of the water there was a really long run from the sandy beach on the river across grass to get up to the TA. There was this one really strange hill to climb up, so these pics are supposed to show how steep the hill was and how many people were coming out of the water before me.

Yea, how many people were getting out of the water now? DUDE I was at the end of the line. That's ok though. My main focus is getting the sub 3 hour bike split.

T1: 6:50 354/360 men, 76/81 age group

I came, I got out of the wetsuit, threw on the bike shoes and helmet and got the heck out of there. Ok, I did take a bit of time to regroup mentally. I didn't get the time before the start to tape any gels to the top bar of Roberta like I prefer to have, so I counted gels and made sure everything was right before heading out.

Bike 56.5 miles: 3:08:45 303/360 men, 66/81 age group

I kind of kicked ass here. Not as much as I hoped, but still asses were kicked. That is the highest age group and overall placements I achieved. Goal was to break 3 hours. I was freaking determined to break 3 hours. I missed it by 8 minutes.

Get ready.......

Get set......


I was starting from the back of the pack thanks to that torture swim. That meant there was a lot of slow people in front of me. I only got passed by three people. I passed maybe 30 people total.

Know This: If I can see you on the bike, I will pass you. Balls out.

Also Know This: The wildflowers in coastal Virginia are beautiful this time of year. Balls tucked again.

This was supposed to be a fast course. I've really been rolling out the bike miles in preparation for this leg. I'm ready to roll and roll strong. I knew at the start that the first half was not as fast as the second half. It was supposed to be flat/false flat/rolling hills until mile 34, then "you will take off like a rocket" according to the race director.

Now we've all been on courses where sometimes you feel like the wind is at your back and there's a slight downhill, so you can just coast your way to 23 mph. That's the way the first 25 miles of the Tarwheel Century ride was. And the B2B bike was a lot like that too. Fast 21-23 mph going out and a headwind coming back. So this time I was pretty excited to have it be the other way around.

It was not the other way around. I was pushing pretty hard at first to keep up 18 mph. Spent plenty of time at 16 mph (my typical group ride speed). it felt like a false flat slight uphill the whole first 20 miles or so. There was one slight downhill where I got up to about 21 mph, but that was short. too short.

There were hills in miles 25 - 34. Rollers and some steepish climbs. I kept it in the big chainring the whole time, but had to really push to get up some of those hills.

Mile 34 came and here comes the rocket. It lasted about half a mile before it went right back to the false flat uphill into the wind. it was a nice half mile. But it was time for me to start pushing again when I was really hoping I wouldn't have to push that hard.

This is when the mental aspect of triathlon really kicks in. I knew I still had sub 3. I pushed for sub 3. I went through all of the mental mantras: You've got sub 3. You are strong enough. You've got the fuel left, get sub 3. You can push this, get sub 3. Climb that hill, get sub 3. Pass this guy, get sub 3. Get out of that saddle and get sub 3. I thought at 2:45 that I still had it.

Here comes that last hill. The RD said a strong cyclist could take it in the big chainring, so by God I was going to. I came out of the saddle and passed 3 people going up that hill. It was a bridge in mile 52. Once I saw it was a bridge I knew I could take it and it was going straight downhill after the crest. So I could ride that extra speed back to the TA and get my sub 3!! Then I got stuck in 18 mph again just like for the whole rest of the ride and I was having to push again. I pushed it all the way in.

The garmin said 3:04 when I got back on some cart path to head back to TA. To tell the truth, I was pretty dissapointed at the time. I knew I had given my best effort and left it all out there. Sometimes the wind or the course just isn't in your favor. The course was beautiful. There was a ton of farmland and blooming wildflowers. So when the results come in and I missed my primary goal time by eight minutes I can live with that. Not happily, but I can certainly live with it.

T2: 4:09 322/360 men, 68/81 age group

Off with the bike shoes and helmet, grab the visor and running shoes and let's head out for a half marathon. Still got a couple of gels? yep, lets' roll. I also drank all of the water I had left in my transition bag. I knew I was a bit dehydrated from the bike, I just didn't drink enough.

Run 13.1 miles: 2:42:05 330/360 men, 75/81 age group

This guy made it out first for your viewing pleasure. Kelley loves the eye candy. Can't say I blame her!

On the other side of that spectrum, before the first mile marker I got passed by a 64 year old dude who farted less than 10 feet in front of me after passing. It was loud and I laughed.

It was a 2 loop run course. Here I'm coming back in from the first loop. I put so much into the bike that there was absolutely nothing left in the gas tank to run with. You can see that my head is down already and I'm just pushing forward.

Boy I'm glad to see the end of that first loop. 6 miles in and I'm halfway dead. I mean done.

The run course was awesome! It was just a cool course. Two loops, started out through this field, then it was off to a paved greenway as the stem of a lollipop. The pop was all gravel trail through a park. So there were no roads to run on! There was a small bit of open sidewalk but most of the course was shaded, which was good since temps were climbing into the 80's.

Headed back out for loop #2.

The next time I come back here I'm headed straight to the finish line.

There was a lot of walking. Miles of walking. There were 18 aide stations on the 13.1 mile course. So my original strategy was to run between the aide stations, and I thought I would be ok without having to complete a single straight mile. I took in tons of fluids at each station, 2 waters and a heed and sometimes a gel. But running between the aide stations soon turned into running to "that tree", or until the garmin rolled up to the next mile marker (never more than .2 miles) and I was struggling to get there.

This is where pain management kicked in. I had no advil or electrolytes like I normally keep with me on a marathon. And there was lots of pain. My feet and legs were killing me. at 60 miles I wanted to get fat. like biggest loser contestant fat. By mile 65 I was ready to start smoking again. At mile 68 I was contemplating the difference mentally between realizing that you were doing something that could actually kill you and wanting to die.

I'm being facetious of course, but those last miles were tough. Dealing with the pain was not fun. Emotionally and mentally I had to push myself into places that I don't like to go. But on the other side of that was this:

The fist pump crossing the line. That other guy didn't do it.

Hey, where's my coffin?

I got the finishers medal and three bottles of water and found a spot in the shade to sit down. It just happened to be on the hub of a Reddy Ice trailer. Catch my breath, rehydrate. Let that feeling like I just cheated the grim reaper go away and let the recovery process start.

You don't really know yourself until you really push yourself beyond any acceptable limits. I mean really push what you think you can do into accomplishments that are measurable and seem impossible. that is what happiness looks like.

Pretty soon I was smiling again. I felt fat all day in that suit. Notice how low I had the zipper down trying to keep cool while I was running. Boy that medal felt great. I actually had sweat so much that salt crystals formed on my arms! Couldn't get a good picture of that though.

They goofed on the medal! Can you see what's wrong?

it only felt like a 13.1 mile swim.

Check out those tan lines baby! That's a badge of honor. Finishing in 6:55, almost an hour slower than I was mentally expecting was tough. Getting that funny burn is going to be tough for a few more days.

Overall this was a great race and a fantastic weekend. I can't wait to go back to Williamsburg just for fun. As for racing.......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Half Iron Preview

It's that time! This upcoming Saturday is the Patriot's Half Ironman in Williamsburg, VA. This is my second half iron after the Beach 2 Battleship last November. Now I'm not as nervous about being able to complete the distance, but I want to be able to set and meet some time goals. This is all still a part of Ironman Prep Year 2010, and I'll probably do another spring or early fall half next year in prep for Ironman Florida.

This half should be really fun. The weather is supposed to be mostly sunny with a high of 81 on Saturday. The half is the only game in town that day; I hate running a half anything when there is a full going on. So this time everybody's hitting the same race.

The 1.2 mile swim is in the "brackish" James river, whatever "brackish" is supposed to mean. I have no idea if it's wetsuit legal or not, but I bet the water temp is going to be around 80. The start and finish points change with the tide, so it's a guessing game until right before race day. But that means we will swim with the current, so that's good. I've been feeling good in the water lately, so I'm predicting a 30 - 40 minute swim time.

The big goal is in the bike leg. Break 3 hours. If I can break 3 hours on the 56 mile bike everything else should fall into place. On the event web site it claims to be mostly flat with some rolling and false flats, but you can leave your bike in the big chainring the whole time. I've never seen an event description actually claim that. And I've been killing the bike lately, so I am very hopeful for a good bike split. Reading other people's race reports from last year's race they all seem to agree that the bike was faster than anticipated. I'm just going to roll my 20 mph minimum and push as much as I can. The B2B bike split was 3:11, so it's just a small amount of time that I really have to make up here. and that course had bridges and tons of false flats, plus I feel much stronger now.

The run should be around 2:20. I know the B2B half marathon was 2:40. I really think I can make up some time here. The running has been going really well the last few months. And the run course in this race is supposed to be the best part! I'm just going to try knocking down 10 minute miles, maybe some 9:30's if I'm feeling good.

So the goals:

1. Don't die.
2. Sub 3 hour bike split
3. Sub 6 hour total time. If I roll sub 3 then sub 6 is totally within reach.
4. Have fun! It's my first time in Williamsburg and it's supposed to be a great town.

I hope this is as much fun as it was last time in Wilmington. I'm really looking forward to a good weekend away and running a nice hard race. Cheers!

P.S., in family news Evil Genius started kindergarten today! It's a 3 year old program at the church nearby. I'm so proud of my baby girl for embracing school like this! See how happy:

I think that backpack is going to swallow her whole.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thank Goodness THAT'S Over

Well folks, we've done it. Survived another August. Made it through Hell and come out the other side ready for football.

Not to rub it in, but college football starts tomorrow night with a South Carolina game on TV. I like that.

So what did I do in August?

Swim: 4000 yds, 3 swims
Bike: 250 miles, 8 rides
Run: 33.9 miles, 7 runs
Strength: 7 workouts
Stretching: 8 yoga's

And everything's cool in the mind of a gangsta. 3 swims is kinda pitiful, but I lost until the 11th swimming thanks to the tattoo. 250 miles on the bike is awesome!! I'm really hoping for a sub-3 hour bike split at the half ironman next weekend so I tried to bike it hard this month. The only race was the DNF at BikeFest.

September is going to be great! 10 more days until the Patriot's half ironman and I feel great. Actually I've got the typical Ironman paranoia that you never think you've done enough training to meet the goals. But I'm trying to be confident here. I've also got the 5k in Myrtle Beach coming up. And college football starts. And fall is really on it's way now. You might not believe it with the high 90's temps we've been having this week, but it's getting dark earlier now and I'm getting hopeful to see the end of this heat soon.

Here's to a great September!