Sunday, April 17, 2011

Stormy Weather - a Perfect Storm

Every year it seems I end up racing on back-to-back weekends. This year it happens to have been the duathlon last weekend and the Beaverdam International distance triathlon this weekend. Long time readers will remember that I did the Festival of Flowers oly triathlon just a week before my first marathon in 2009. Then last year I did a sprint triathlon a week before my first century ride ever. Well this was the first olympic distance triathlon I had done since the Festival of Flowers 2 years ago. I figured I would be a bit faster now.

The biggest bummer of the whole thing? Kelley couldn't come out there with me and take any pictures. The whole day ended up being pretty crazy. Heck the entire weekend was a wild ride. So this is a race report without any pictures. We couldn't find anyone to keep the kids so she couldn't come out to the race with me, and I must admit that I missed having her out there.

This race started at 8 am, which is remarkably reasonable for a triathlon in April. Most of them start at 6:30. So I set the alarm for 5:45, grabbed breakfast and headed out to the race site, arriving at 7 am. I really don't like to be places at 7 am besides home in bed. Especially after last weekend where we were racing in 50 degree cold and it was all crazy competitive. This time reports were that there was a major thunderstorm approaching, but it wasn't supposed to arrive until later in the day. I got my spot in the transition area setup and at the prerace meeting they said we were getting some wind gusts over 20 mph. I should be the only thing going over 20 mph this morning, not the wind.

Swim 1500 meters

This was a lake swim, water temp was 61 degrees, so I pulled out the wetsuit. Almost a mile is a really long way to swim, and this was a rectangular shaped course. So we went out kind of parallel with the shoreline for a long way, maybe 700 meters. Then turned away from the bank for maybe 100 meters, then it was back into shore about 100 meters down from where we started swimming at. This has to be the strangest swim layout I've ever seen, but it was very effective.

The way the winds were blowing the water got a bit choppy. I made it to the first turn bouy ok, and only had to break my stroke once. This was really impressive to me mentally, I didn't expect the open water to be that kind (it usually isn't). Made the turn, and the water got real choppy. Nothing like taking a breath and getting slapped with a face full of water. But it was a short trip to the next bouy, so I made that turn ok too. Then I started getting off course really bad. Nothing like coming up to sight the next bouy and seeing just a shoreline in front of you. Where did the other people, bouys, and finish line go? Ah, swimming the wrong direction. Fun.

2009 results: 42:28 and I threw up twice in the water. 2011 results: 29:41, no puke. The open water was really fun this time.

T1: 2009 4:26, 2011 4:56, got 30 seconds slower, had a long run to get back to TA and had some trouble getting the wetsuit off. This transition should have been around 2 minutes, and I need to practice that more often.

Bike 25.5 miles

I was riding totally analog thanks to the rain. No Garmin to give me speed and distance markers, no idea how I was performing or how much farther I had to go. I knew I needed to take a gel about 5 minutes in and another one with about 5 minutes left. Good luck with that.

So I started out just keeping a steady pace, decent cadence and not pushing a big gear until my legs got warmed up. I saw a dead frog on the road a few miles in. That hasn't happened before. Not even like roadkill, just a dang dead frog. Freaky.

Overall this was a great course. The winds were pretty strong, but they were mostly crosswinds. I felt like I was riding with a lean for most of it. I was definitely getting some strange looks from cars passing me.

Then (what I think was) about 15 miles in, it started to hail. I just heard something that wasn't rain hitting my helmet, and when I looked around it was falling in very small drops. It didn't last long, but it was very strange.

After seeing the state park again on the route I thought we were close to the end so I talked to another racer as I was passing him and he said we were only 20 miles in. Dang, thought it was farther along than that. Still, I had already taken my second gel so I should have been good until the run.

I knew I pushed the hills pretty good. Only once did I have to go down from the big chainring to the middle one. Everything else was big chainring riding and I was pretty aggressive with it too. Lots of time in aero position, lots of rolling hills where I could pedal downhill hard and carry the momentum across the next uphill section. I passed a lot of people that way.

2009 bike time was 1:26:31, 2011 time was 1:25:39. Again, I'll take it. I had to ride through a hailstorm and 20+ mph winds for crying out loud.

T2: 2009 was 3:19, 2011 was 1:15. YES! Finally a transition time under 90 seconds! Off with the bike shoes and helmet, throw on the running shoes, grab hat and race belt and take off.

Run 10k (6.2 miles)

Coming out of T2 I could see the finish line, and they had a finish line clock setup. I knew since I was in the first swim wave, my actual time was going to be the same as the clock time. I was completely amazed when it said 2:01:xx. That's when I knew going sub-3 hours was within my grasp if I could just pull off a 10k run in under 59 minutes.

My legs, of course, were completely shredded coming off of the bike. I held my form as long as I could and tried to keep a slow pace out of the gate. I have found it's more effective to start running very slowly until the blood starts to recirculate properly in your legs and some of the lactic acid built up from the bike gets flushed out. I made it about half a mile before walking some, and it felt good to walk.

The run course was all inside of the state park, and it was a two loop point to point course. So run to one spot, turn around, run back to another spot next to the finish line, then do it again. Not much of an adventure really. I walked the uphills where I needed to, never longer than 30 seconds. I took one gel on the run about 2 miles in, which was right where I had planned to take one. Of course with no Garmin, no pace clocks, I had no idea how fast I was going or what my total elapsed time was.

Finished the first lap and actually felt much better for the second lap. I just found my rhythm, my pace, and stuck it out as long as I could. Turn the legs over quickly, and make relentless forward progress.

With half a mile left all of a sudden the bottom fell out of the sky. Rain was coming down in buckets. Of course at that point, it was quite a relief. My running shoes were drenched. I knew my bike and everything else in TA was soaked. But I was cooling off and it was great motivation to get to the finish line quickly. I turned that corner, passed the aide station knowing my next stop was the finish line, and that was all she wrote.

2009 run 1:06:10, 2011 run 50:55! 10k race PR and I couldn't be happier with that.


I also could not have been happier when I saw the finish line (unless my dear wife was there cheering me in of course!). That finish line clock was still there too, and it said 2:52 something. I absolutely lost my shit. I knew going in that the conditions were going to make it very tough for me to break 3 hours, but I was still clinging to that overall goal. Once I saw I had made it I was completely ecstatic. The people in the timing tent looked at me like I was crazy.

Final total time: 2009 was 3:23:12, 2011 was 2:52:23. A 31 minute PR!! Finally broke three hours!! I finished 52nd out of 95 men, and 9th out of 10 men 35-39. This was still a really competetive field. I felt good about coming in near the top half overall. So this was a really successful race, and I feel very good about it.

I packed up the car as quickly as possible and headed back home. I knew there was still a storm coming. I heard we (as in Raleigh) actually made the national news for this one. Sure enough, this storm was a hum dinger.

A tornado touched down in Sanford and ripped the front off of a Lowe's store. That's about an hour away from us. Something else rolled through downtown Raleigh and ripped down several brick buildings about three miles from our house. Two houses down from us, a large (like three feet in diameter) tree fell into the middle of the road. At least it didn't fall on their house.

We escaped any real damage from this storm. Had a few limbs come down and found a new leak in the roof, but nothing serious. The rest of the city is much worse off than we are, that's for sure.

Sunday was also really fun. I got to take the Evil Genius out to see Tangled at the theater, just me and her (Bigun had a playdate with a friend). She loved it, she's seen it a few times before. I also enjoyed it very much. When we got back, we put some plants in the garden. The bed is really shaping up into a nice garden. Then I did get out for a workout, got in a 6 mile run nice and slow, followed by a 10 mile bike ride just to spin the legs out. Then Kelley and I watched a movie and called it a day. What a fantastic weekend!

After racing two weekends in a row, I want to target some yoga and strength training this week. Time for some flexibility. I didn't want to hit the weights before the races because I didn't want to deal with any soreness on race day. So it's just regular old ironman training with a little yoga and weights sprinkled in.

Big props to the Snail for rocking the SweetH2O 50k on sunday, making his goal time and finishing over an hour and a half faster than last years time! That is some serious rock and roll.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Twinkle Toes

First, I just realized I never posted March's totals:

Swim: 12,635 meters, 5 swims, 2535 m avg

Bike: 224 miles, 12 rides

Run: 79.85 miles, 16 runs

Yoga: once, 30 minutes

Strength: none.

Yes yes yes yes yes, Ironman training is in full effect. Holy crap. 224 miles on the bike? 16 runs? I did not realize I was that close to 80 miles running. That's a total of 34 workouts. I was amazed at first about how many workouts I was missing. But I think 34 workouts in one month is pretty good. Yep, I think I'll be ok.

Of course, getting a 5 mile run in is also typically a good workout.

Last week's log:

Monday 3.97 miles running in 30 minutes

Tuesday 4000 meter swim

Wednesday 28 miles on the bike

Thursday 3200 meter swim

Friday Nothing nada zilch zip rest day

Saturday the big duathon. see race report below.

Sunday 5 mile run 6 mile bike

It was a bit of an easier week. The swim practices were totally bananas. I really started fitting in with this team more, and keeping up more with their pace. I mean these people are FAST! It does not play games. We did an endurance practice. 4k? practice? We talking bout practice? Yep. These dudes don't play. The coaches are pretty amazing too.

Do the DU!

Saturday morning was the Cary Long and Short Course Duathlon. Funny little race. Since I'm a member of the Delta team, I got 40% off of the registration fee. It was too good of a deal to turn down. And during Ironman training, if it says "long course" I gotta be in. This one was a 5 mile run, 31 mile bike, and another 5 mile run. Long course, let the party begin.

It was so freaking cold. It's April for goodness sakes! Why was it 40 degrees and cloudy on a saturday morning? Luckily the race t-shirt was long sleeve, it was the only sleves I had with me once I got out there. It was supposed to be 70 degrees and sunny that morning.

So we're all shivering cold. I knew it was going to be a pretty competitive field from looking at last years results. The short course people took off, and we gave them a 10 minute head start. Then, we were off.

A funny thing happened when I was standing in the starting corral, I got that "familiar grumble". I already hit the bathrooms once, so this was going to be trouble.

I took off like a bat out of hell just trying to keep up. Ran the first 3.5 miles in about 24 minutes. That's pretty fast, and I wouldn't be able to hold it for long. The course was a 2.5 mile loop that we ran twice each time. It wasn't particularly hilly, but there was some decent challenges in there. Finished the first 5 mile run in 41:05, just over an 8 minute pace. My target was 45 minutes so I was feeling pretty good.

T1 was uneventful. I took off the running shoes, slid on the bike shoes and helmet, grabbed Roberta and took off. Call it 1:55 (should be under 90 seconds).

The bike was a pretty decent course. There was lots of car traffic. Not too many hills. This was a one loop affair, 31 miles. It was still really cold. There was apparently a pretty stiff wind behind me pushing for the first half of the course. But being a loop, that meant it was in my face the second half of the course. Wind stinging like I was being stabbed in the face. My feet went totally numb with about 5 miles left. It got pretty nasty. My target for 31 miles was an hour and a half. Actual time was 1:47:08. That cold and wind killed me.

T2 came with a little surprise! I came rolling in half dead ready to abandon where there was Kelley and the kids were there to cheer me on! It was so great to see them there. Totally made T2 bearable. Off went the bike shoes thank God and the running shoes went back on. I took off the long sleeve shirt since I knew running would be warmer and it was later in the day. T2 time was 1:51, should have been under 90 seconds and I swear it felt longer than T1.

I love this pic. I'm sure it's just the angle but I look really thin.

Yea, I haven't forgotten about that gut rumble. It got quite uncomfortable while I was biking. No port-a-johns on the run course or the bike course, or near transition. I came screaming out of T2 back onto the run course, and the first thing I did was head 200 yards off course to the park bathrooms. I knew that with a race belt on and a one piece tri suit, there was no way I was going to be in and out of there quickly. According to Garmin time, it took about 4 minutes. I actually saw the race director taking a leak as soon as I got in there, and I told him he needed more crappers on the course. I was still in race mode, so I don't think that my tone conveyed a funny, which I really was just giving him a hard time. I was just out having fun.

Back onto the run course, and I got right into the pain cave. I had nothing left in the tank and 5 more miles to cover. The first loop went by without a real hitch. Kept it slow but manageable. The second loop had a lot of walking. Every hill was walking. I kept my nutrition up, so really all the goods were there. But I was running on fumes. The pain cave is a good place to be once you learn to appreciate it. Last run time was 49:45, including 4 minutes on the crapper. Target was once again 45 minutes flat. Mission accomplished.

That finish line was a beautiful thing! I saw it coming, Kelley was taking pictures and the kids were there cheering me on. Guess what the first thing was that I said after crossing the finish line? "Hey, thank God, I've got to take a shit". Yep, it was a bad day for the bowels. I could barely get the timing chip off of my leg before heading down to the bathrooms.

They had a bounce house and face painting that the girls loved. So cute! All in all it was a great day. I had some tough times on the bike and spent some time of the pain cave. And did I mention it was a competitive field? I'm knocking down 8 minute miles here and I still finished 46th out of 52 men. My total time was 3:21:41. My target was to break 3 hours. Dang poop and wind blew it again. The winner came in at 2:18. The 5 mile runs? 27 and 30 minutes. My age group? Finished 9th out of 10 men (35-39). The top 3 went 2:21, 2:23, and 2:25. Unbelievably competetive.

I went home, crashed, unpacked, and ate all day long. That race was a serious calorie burner.

Sunday was pretty incredible too! My brothers band is on a big tour right now, 18,000+ miles total driving. They are playing all over the US and Canada. If they are coming to your town be sure to check out the show. They played in Raleigh sunday night. They are running the show as the opening band for William Fitzsimmons, then playing as the backup band for William's set. I got to hang with the band for a bit, William is a pretty cool dude. Then Michael came back to the house for a while and had dinner with us. The kids went nuts, and we got no pictures. Got a good one at the show, though.

It really was a wild night. Lots of fun. Catch the show if you can. Got an oly triathlon coming up next weekend!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Good thing I had to stand up the whole time

I loved having a rest day on friday. Boy it was needed, I was tired. So no workouts friday. I got off work and we all took off heading to Kelley's mom for the weekend. Yea, I didn't want to announce to the internet that we were going out of town for the weekend. But the whole thing was freaking awesome!

Saturday I rolled out of bed about 10 am, which was awesome. Breakfast, coffee, lots of water and it was time to ride.

I brought the bike down there knowing it was going to be 75 degrees and sunny all day. It was perfect. This was my first ride outside this year and I was completely amazed at several things.

First, I rode 38 miles in 2:11, which is 17.4 mph. Knowing the hills on this route, the last time I did this ride I was around 14 mph. I was also 35 lbs heavier. It's not much of a route either, just one road really. The training plan called for 2 hours 15 minutes on the bike followed by a 30 minute run-off. At 2:11 I think I planned it out ok. I only saw 17 cars on the road the entire time. Kelley's mom lives in the middle of freaking nowhere SC.

Lots of this.......

Something else happened that was strangely amazing. Before losing the weight I always had a really tough time shifting from the small chainring to the big chainring while riding. The shifters just never would catch on the ring, sometimes if I gave it enough love it would maybe shift up. But since losing the weight, my shifters actually just slide the chain right over there! It's so strange! Totally changes my strategy on the bike.

Also, I saw more NASCAR and Confederate flags than anyone should have. God bless the rednecks in rural South Carolina. amazing.

So the ride was pretty awesome. It got really windy towards the end, and I hate the wind. But it was so sunny, not unbearably hot, the whole thing just felt good. I wrapped the ride and started running with no shirt on. Wasn't sweating profusely, but wasn't cold either. Just perfect. I ended up running 4 miles in about 35 minutes.

By the time I finished the workout, it was time to start getting dressed for the wedding! My cousin Emily got married in Columbia SC. This was an absolutely amazing wedding. Just incredible. It was a 6 pm wedding, very formal.

Evil Genius actually fell asleep in the car on the way into Columbia. That sweet face!

They actually had a bagpiper. A Master Piper from the army actually, and I am actually looking forward to Glaven's jokes about being a master piper. The piper was incredible.

The bride and groom. He's done three tours in Iraq, and we're all glad he's home safe and sound.

Emily the Bride dancing with her father. He really shelled out for quite a shindig!

Me holding the Evil Genius. She did show both a bit of Evil and a bit of Genius.

My cousin Ben (Brother of the Bride and a groomsmen) and his wife Elaine (pregnant, bridesmaid) and their awesome kid.

The girls dancing. We could not get them to stop.

My parents. It was so good to see the whole family again.

This is me with Patty, my mother in atlanta. They are incredible, and I need to get down there again pretty soon.

The reception was held on the grounds at the govenor's mansion. There were about 6 photographers, 4 very open bars, catering that never seemed to run out, and over 400 people in attendance. It was a circus. There were actually judges and senators in attendance! I'm a bit surprised the Governor didn't come out and dance a for a while.

Of course, our girls ended up playing with the band. The band was cool with it, and they stole the show. What a hoot! They even ended up taking a bow after playing along for 5 or 6 songs. What a wild time.