Monday, August 29, 2011

The Dissapearing Weekend

Why do these things have to go by so fast? It's a crime, really.

Hurricane Irene came and went here in Raleigh without much fanfare. It was cloudy, cold, and rainy all day long. Out on the coast got hit much harder than we did. Highway 12 that runs through the Outer Banks got washed out pretty hard. I'm hoping that this won't mess up the bike or run courses for the OBX Half Ironman I've got coming up in 11 days. From what I can tell on the course maps and satellite images, I don't think anything is messed up there. But I know a lot of races were cancelled this weekend, hope you guys got through this as easily as we did.

I threw the bike up on the trainer and rode for 2.5 hours after Kelley got back from her 6 miler on the treadmill. Die hard was on cable, so I was entertained. That was all.

Sunday was hot again (stupid august), but not as bad as it had been. So we took the kids for a picnic in the park and let them play around outside for a while. There was some tree limbs down at the park, but nothing major. The city recently finished construction on this one park that we wanted to check out next to the Rose Garden, and they had put up a kid's rock climbing station! I was way more excited about this than the kids were. The top of the rock was about 9' high, filled with hand and foot holds, perfect for kids climbing. It was really cool, so of course the girls didn't want anything to do with it and were scared of the height. Bigun and I finally got to have a little fun on it, but she wouldn't climb the tall faces. Even had some cool inversions.

After we got out of there, Kelley and I found a Keva Juice and we tried wheatgrass shots for the first time! We've been wanting to try these for a while just to see what the energy and our perceived blood oxygen levels. It was incredible. Tasted like I was cutting the grass. I think we're going to start working in some wheatgrass more often.

Got home just in time for me to hit the gym and squeeze out my 14 mile run before they closed up. It felt great, I did the entire thing at a 7.5 mph (8:00 pace) speed and had plenty of gas in the tank for more, even though I only took one gel. Great long run, especially after last weekend's disaster outdoor attempt at 13. Ironman build is in full swing. Time to rock and roll!

I'm thinking about doing a series of posts about how I got fast. Does that seem to have any value?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Oh My

Earthquakes, tornado's and hurricane's? oh my.

We've seen it all here in NC this week. Tuesday when the earthquake hit VA, we were at the eye doctor. We were just in the waiting room and saw the plants and filing cabinets rattle. I think it's much funnier to claim that my eyes were fully dilated and I was trying to read the smallest line on the eye chart while the walls were shaking. Ha! It's pretty cool to feel the ground shake, especially since it was small and didn't seem to do any real damage here. And really the good news is that my prescription for contacts hasn't changed and my eyes are in really good shape. I did get to order 2 more years of contacts - love having vision insurance.

There was a report of tornado's that touched down on the NC coastline, I think around Wilmington. Again, I'm sure it was not very severe or caused much damage or it would have been a bigger story.

And of course tomorrow we're getting the visit from cousin Irene. That drunk bitch is going to get sloppy 'round these parts. It's actually going to stay more east of Raleigh, and tear up the coast pretty good. We've got plenty of friends on the coast, and I hope they are smart enough to come visit us instead of riding it out in their own houses. Raleigh is supposed to get some 50+ mph winds and about 2" of rain on saturday, so I'm thinking about moving my long bike ride indoors.

This week has been pretty good for training. Including the 13 mile run in Tybee last saturday, I ran 31 miles in 5 days, biked 48 miles, and got in one helluva 3700 m swim yesterday. I actually blew off my interval run yesterday to go out to lunch with a friend, and ended up doing sprints in the pool that night instead! I think the coach is trying to kill me. 2000m warmup and drill set, followed by a descending 28 x 50 m sprints and a 300m cool down. insane.

Found an awesome article yesterday online that I wanted to pass on a link. If you're thinking this triathlon thing is easy, think again.

Have a great weekend! Good luck if you're hitting IM Louisville.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Running is stupid sometimes

Let me clarify....

Running - at the beach - in August - in Georgia - is practically stupid.

This weekend we were celebrating my parent's 40th wedding anniversary at the old homestead on Tybee Island, GA. I took a vacation day friday, so after working a full day on Thursday we packed up the car and made the 6 hour drive down to the island. Luckily the kids slept part of the way and it went much better than I had anticipated.

Friday was sooooo relaxing. Mom had been down there all week, and Dad came down thursday as well. So in the morning we all hung out, and of course the kids couldn't wait to get down to the beach. It wasn't blazing hot like I expected, but mid-80's and really sunny. We put up a canopy to give some shade, the water was warm, and everyone had fun.

The girls playing with Uncle Mikey and Aunt Summer in the water. They live in Charleston so we don't get to see them as often as we (or the kids) would like. The girls really love getting to visit with their uncles!

Dad even got in on some of the action hanging with me, mom, and Bigun in the surf.

Dolphins! That close to us. You can see a dolphin in the background as they are getting out of the water, and a closer shot at one. There was about 4 playing gently in the channel there on their way back out to sea.

In the afternoon my brother Michael and his wife Summer made it down from Charleston. Michael has another awesome European tour coming up this fall, and we got to hear all about the summer tour through Germany/Austria and France, as well as the North American tour he did earlier this year.

Savannah is a big port city, so they get big cargo ships coming through the channel like that! When the ships come through that close, it makes the biggest waves we get on our beach from the wake. really cool.

Aunt Summer, Evil Genius, Bigun, and Uncle Mikey playing in the surf

That girl knows how to work a pole too well. Daddy's going to have to work on that. Daddy rule #1 in effect!

Fried seafood for dinner was outstanding. Something about eating seafood on the beach....

Saturday morning I got up to go run. I knew it was time to do the August half marathon in my "13.1 every month" challenge. So I figured while it was flat and I know the island well, I would get out and clock it for august. I filled up the Camelbak with that nasty desalinated water, sparked up the garmin and took off.

It was in the mid-80's already, leaving about 9 am. I was just going to hit the roads on the island for 13.1 miles in any configuration I could possibly get. The first 3.4 miles were right around the house and the lighthouse when I felt a familiar grumble. I thought there were some public restrooms near the lighthouse, so I headed back that way. Nothing doing. Heading back to the beachhouse for a quick stop and it turns out the whole rest of the fam was heading out to breakfast. I should have joined them.

Back out on the roads, I made it about another 10 minutes before the wheels started coming off. Seriously, 45 minutes into this run it was so hot and humid it felt like I was running through soup! I was still, for the most part, holding around an 8 minute pace. Legs were dead, lungs were filled with moisture, I felt like a zombie out there. And I was only about 6 miles into a half marathon.

So I took an e-Gel at 6 miles, and felt better. Took another e-Gel at 10 miles and was ready to take it on home. At 12.5 miles I ran out of that nasty water and got a really bad cramp. It's tough to drain the camelbak, this bad boy takes about 90 oz of fluid and I filled it up. I needed every drop I could squeeze out of it. The cramp was on my left side right at the bottom of my rib cage, so I walked it back to the house. Final run was 13.0 miles in 2:05:14 for my first half time over 2 hours since march.

Now that the temps have cooled down some, I might try again just to put up a better time. I've got some longer runs on the schedule anyway.

As if the day wasn't rough enough, we went back down to the beach about 12:30 on saturday, and while playing in the ocean water Bigun got stung by a jellyfish!! That will certainly put a damper on things. She was in less than knee deep water for her, and I was only about a foot away from her and didn't get anything. It really hurt, but we went back to the house, treated with vinegar, and she was ok pretty soon afterwards.

We then ate more fried seafood. it was fantastic.

Sunday was just a get up and drive home kind of day. Took right at 6 hours, including a stop for lunch and a stop at South of the Border for a potty break. 6 hours is a really long time for a 4 year old and a 6 year old to sit in the car! It was 94 degrees when we were in Savannah at 11 am, and only 83 degrees when we got back to Raleigh at 5 pm. Insane!!

Bigun riding the waves with Uncle Mikey, and both girls enjoying the surf with their Grandmother.

All in all it was a wonderful way to celebrate 40 years worth of marriage. Relaxing, just sitting in the ocean letting the waves gently float us around, and spending time with family. It's all that really matters.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Great Century

Saturday morning was cold and rainy - a great day to sleep in, get some coffee, read the newspaper, snuggle up on the couch and love on the family some while watching movies all day.

Naturally, my alarm clock went off at 5:30 that morning so I could go ride a bike for 100 miles in the rain. I drove out there by myself and it rained the whole time so everything got drenched - no electronics, no garmin, no pictures.

I got up a bit early, ate breakfast, got dressed and drove over to Hillsborough for the Bikefest 100 mile ride. Found a decent parking space and sprinted for the line to the men's room. It was a long line, but ultimately a successful trip. The line for packet pickup was also a touch long, but not as bad. I rode over there in street clothes, so after I got the packet (which was only a wristband - no swag this year) and headed back to the car to change into my riding gear and check out the bike. I knew I was cutting it close to the start time, but last year the start was really late so I thought it would be ok.

As I'm riding my bike towards the starting line, there is a massive pack of riders coming towards me. I asked one of the stragglers, and sure enough that was the mass start. I missed it again. So no mental prep time and waiting for the gun to go off, just a good ol' here we go.

Last year I did my first century ride, and it was the most difficult thing I've ever attempted before. Really screwed me up mentally for a long time. Then last year I tried the metric century for this same ride and had the worst mechanical problems ever on the bike. So my expectations were very low coming into the ride. If the bike survived (mechanical failure or my just leaving it on the side of the road and walking away) then it would be a good day.

Of course since I started out at the very back of the 600 rider pack after missing the start, there were tons of people to pass. Knowing the conditions and how late/rushed my start was, I was riding naked with no electronics at all. But I remembered last year when I went under that bridge where I got the flat tire was about 6 miles in. I cleared that turn with caution this year.

My plan was to go out stupid easy until the first aide station, then upgrade to just "easy" for the rest of the ride. I will take the same approach to the Ironman bike leg. I found a gear/cadence that required no actual muscular exertion from my legs and held it. Turns out, it was still a pretty high gear so I made great time, and passed a bunch of people. I got to talk to a lot of people to, some that recognized me from local triathlons and others that just wanted to talk about triathlons for some reason.

The first aide station was incredibly crowded, so I think I made good time over the first 25 miles. It was still really crowded when I pulled out of there, and that's where the 35/62 mile routes split off from the 100 mile route. I went with the 100, and upgraded my pace to "easy". This is also where the hills started. There were three really steep climbs between the first two aide stations, but none were very long. The 100 route was considerably less crowded than the first 25 miles were.

At the top of the second climb, there was lots of rescue vehicles in place, apparently two bike riders collided and one ended up in a ditch with some broken ribs. Scary stuff, but that could have been much worse; I was just glad a car wasn't involved and the guy was going to be ok.

I've been trying a new strategy to get over hills recently and I really like it. These are mostly rolling hills, so there's a descent to let you build a bit of speed up before you start climbing. I'm trying to carry that speed into some easy spinning to get at least halfway up the climb, maybe more like 80% of the way up is best. Then come out of the saddle to apply more effort to the top 20% and power over the top. This should leave me with more speed for whatever comes up next, as opposed to just being out of breath. The natural tendency for most people is to stand up at the bottom of the hill or whenever the momentum starts to slow, then when you run out of gas halfway up gear down and try to spin to the top, so you hit the top of the hill with the slowest speed of the entire climb. It should give me some better course management, and a better overall finish time. The same principal applies to running as well, charge the top of the hill, not the bottom.

I really executed the third climb well, and left the top with more speed than ever. Pretty good strategy. I rolled into the second aide station at 42 miles with plenty of energy and feeling strong. I saw my friends Ray and Shannon at each of the aide stations, Ray's bike computer was still working so he gave us some updates. Turns out we were clicking along about 18 mph. For an "easy" pace, I could certainly live with that. Plus it was great seeing my friends again. Ray and I used to work together, and together with Kyle we used to go mountain biking sometimes. Kyle also did the century ride, but he was trying to break 5 hours so I never saw him at the start or the aide stations.

Between the second and third aide stations is when the rain really started coming down. It has sprinkled a lot in the first 10 miles, and again sprinkled some around mile 30. Now it was a total downpour. I was completely soaked. Big raindrops and no end in site. Luckily it was also cold. The 90 and 100 plus degree days we've had over the last week had finally given up and let some coolish temps back in. So it was in the mid 70's all morning. If the rain stopped and let 95 degree heat turn all of that rain into humidity it would have been like riding through muddy air. Instead the rain was cooling and refreshing.

The 62 mile aide station was all wet. I rolled in, ate, refilled the bottles, and rolled back out. There were still 2 more steep climbs to go. This time, I was alone on the roads. I'd see other people for a while, but there's still that time when you don't see any bikes in front of you, and no bikes behind you. I don't really know where I am in this part of the state, so I'm just out riding a country road in the middle of nowhere, totally alone in the rain. That was strange.

I'd catch up to people, talk some, then leave them behind. Then I'd take longer at the next aide station than they would and I'd get to repeat this process all over again in the next leg. One guy was really nice, doing this century on a commuter bike. He said he had 8 kids and also worked as a software developer. I always end up meeting the nicest people on these rides! I also met a guy riding in a Clemson jersey, turns out he was also from Greenville and went to a rival high school.

Rolled into the 83 mile aide station dripping wet but still feeling strong. I had re-read my first century ride race report on friday, so when I got in there I was telling Ray and Shannon about how I had stopped 85 miles in last time just to rest my head on the handlebars, and some old lady came out and started talking to me, and how I hoped she would shoot me so I wouldn't have to finish the ride. Thank goodness I didn't feel like that this time! That was so miserable. So the first concern I had about this century was put to rest. I was properly trained and ready to roll the distance. At that point, I knew I had the ride in the bag.

Again, it just rained steadily the entire day. The final aide station was at mile 93, and I rolled in there briefly and did something that very rarely happens. They had glass bottles of Coke, and I drank one. I gave up soda's back in college, so drinking a non-beer carbonated beverage is a very rare occurrence, it happens much less than once a year. But that sucker was good.

I rolled the last 10 miles back into Hillsborough and found the starting area with no fanfare. There was no finish line or greeters setup. I rode straight through there back to my car, then stood at my trunk and raised both hands in victory! 103 miles was the official distance, and I felt like I had enough energy left to run a marathon. Or at least start running. I checked my time on the cell phone, and it had been about 6 hours.

I dried off, stripped completely naked (possibly scaring a few people), threw the street clothes back on and drove away. Ok, I changed in the car and nobody saw me. But Hillsborough is a pretty deserted town anyway. ugh, I mean "quaint".

I really wanted to test out my strategy for nutrition, energy management, pacing, and anything else I could discover to get ready for Ironman day. It totally worked and I gained a new-found confidence about the Ironman bike leg. I never expected to be ready to stare that down, but now it totally seems possible.

Sunday was a rainy, coldish day; just perfect for sleeping late, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, and hanging with the fam. So that's exactly what I did. Until the sun came out, then I ran 10 miles.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do I really have to?

Tomorrow is the Bikefest Century ride. It's in Hillsborough, NC so it's a local ride put on by a local group. The organizers are really fantastic people and they put together a great ride through some beautiful scenery. Last year I attempted the metric century and put up my only DNF for a mechanical failure. The onsite mechanic was a disaster. Like everything during Ironman training, I must always pick the longest possible distance.

So 100 miles with 5000+ feet of climbing it will be. Blerg.

This will be my second century ride. Most people would look forward to, train for, and celebrate the arrival of the big day. My target is IMFL, where I will have to ride much farther than the 112 miles of tomorrow, and follow it by running a full marathon. Still the century ride deserves it's due respect. If you don't train for it, you'll get mostly what I got my first time riding a century.

That ride in particular shook my core. It disturbed me so badly mentally that it took 6 weeks before I could even clean my bike. I had a real weakness exposed. There are only 85 days until the Ironman, now is not the time to take 6 weeks off from cycling because my ass hurts.

I have to keep telling myself that last year I didn't properly train. No rides over 60 miles, no consistent riding at all, I was 30 lbs heavier and averaged about 5 mph slower then than I do now. Now I'm riding very consistently, much faster, much stronger, have greatly increased my aerobic capacity, and I think I've built up a much higher tolerance in the general "ass" area.

Hey, sitting in that saddle for 5 - 7 hours isn't supposed to be comfortable. Lubrication is my friend.

When I did the Big Deuce a few weeks ago, it was my first time putting 2 miles in open water. I had no idea how I was going to do in the race or how I would feel when I finished and got out of the water. I trusted my training, went out there and gave it my best shot. I finished in the top half overall men, and had plenty of energy left to go get on the bike. Couldn't have asked for a better swim.

Tomorrow could have the same promise or the exact opposite. It's supposed to be 88 degrees and partly cloudy. We start riding at 7:30 am. I will either finish with enough energy to run a marathon or throw my bike in the lake. All I can do today is trust my training and my own strength.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lake Logan Oly PR Race Report

The Lake Logan International Triathlon was this weekend, and I absolutely crushed it.

Finish stats:
Total time 2:33:13
14/39 men 35-39
111/254 overall men
Serious PR - 19 minutes!! And I PR'd every distance (except the transitions)

Friday night we arrived in Canton NC just west of Asheville about 10 pm. Not the best time to get into town before an early race. The hotel was crappy and I couldn't fall asleep or stay asleep for anything. But the staff was nice. Breakfast there didn't open until 6 am, but we convinced the desk clerk that it was ok for us to get some cereal in time to leave at 5:30.

It was like racing in a postcard. The entire course was just unbelievable.

So of course after getting no sleep whatsoever, at 5:10 we head to the lobby for the cereal and the new girl down there doesn't want to let us in. We convince her that we convinced the other girl to let us in, and she begrudgingly obliged. A tiny little town in the middle of nowhere in the NC mountains is not going to have anything at all open for breakfast that early, so I am really glad I didn't have to race hungry.

We got onsite about 15 minutes before packet pickup ended ~6:15 am. I really still hate these early morning starts. Got my number, bodymarking, and timing chip and it was off to setup my transition area. The racks were numbered weird, and I got a really bad spot on the rack. Screw it, nothing is going to mess up today. I set out my gear, and who found a great spot on the next rack? Healthy Ashley! I really wanted to find her and Caitlin before the race so Kelley could get some pictures for them. We got to hang out for a few minutes before getting my game face on. I knew what I had to do today. Here's Ashley, Caitlin and me before the race:

Swim - Goal 30 minutes, actual 30:48 including the run into TA - Success!

It was an in-water wave start, so the pros went first, then another wave, then my wave. I started kind of near the front, which made me a bit uncomfortable. As soon as we took off I did the water polo swim to see where the other guys were and if I could find a clean lane to swim in. Eventually I went face down and settled into my stroke pattern. Then I came to realize something that I did actually learn a long time ago.

I hate other people. Other people suck.

Not you people of course. If you're smart enough to read this blog then you are also smart enough to stay the hell out of my way. I stay straight or pull to the right in open water. I could sight enough to the buoys and the fellow swimmers to stay pretty straight, and I did sight often. I passed people from earlier waves or got caught in their traffic. They crashed into me. Faster people from later waves swam into me. This seemed like a really crowded swim. People were crashing into me the entire time!

The course was a "J" style course, where we went down and turned right twice, then swam back past the starting line by another 500 meters. Every now and then, somebody would repeatedly crash into me and I'd have to speed up to get rid of these people, but for the most part I just held my speed here. The female age groups started after all of the men were in the water. So every time I ran into somebody, I knew it was another dude. This disturbed me for some reason. I don't mind accidentally swimming into the girls. But I haven't grabbed that much man-butt since, well, ever. Other people. geez. It was also about this time that I discovered I forgot to take the normal pre-race gel and was running on breakfast alone. I came to this realization because my arms started feeling lethargic. Dead arm = oops at this distance.

Around the top of the J there is a river that feeds water into the lake. The river water is much colder than the lake water, and we have to swim under a bridge to get to the swim finish. When you hit the river there is a slight current that you are swimming against, and 1200m into a 1500m swim is not when you want to start feeling a current. Also since the opening in the lake is much more narrow to get under the bridge, the swimmers all bottleneck right there. Lots of concentrated traffic.

I didn't want to put up with any of that, so as soon as I felt the water starting to get colder I totally dropped the hammer! Passed about 5 dudes that were all swimming into each other, raced under the bridge, and held court on the other side dishing out execution sentences to anyone who tried to keep up with me. Nobody caught me. My RAM coaches would be proud of that kind of finishing performance; it's something they've been trying to teach us all lately.

We had to exit the water on a dock without a ladder - just pull yourself up. My arms felt like jello, so that wasn't too easy. Then it was a 200m run from the dock up to the transition area, where the timing mat was. The run was maybe 45 seconds, so I bet I came out of the water right at 30 minutes.

T1 - 2:54
I couldn't find my spot on the rack at all. My bike was buried. I forgot my number, looked on my arm to get my number, then on the 3rd try finally found the rack I was supposed to be on. Had a tough time getting socks onto wet feet. The TA was grass that was recently cut, so there were loose grass clippings all over my feet and inside of my socks. Bike shoes went on, helmet went on, Garmin went on, grabbed the bike and ran out.

Bike - Goal 1:10, actual 1:08:51 Success!!!!!!!

The bike course was exactly as advertised. I ran the 200 yards to the road, mounted up, made one turn and started up a huge climb. I took the first climb in the big chain ring, which might have been overkill but I had a lot of adrenaline running for that first climb. The descent that followed was huge, I hit my max speed of 39.2 mph on the downhill there.

This was a lollipop course, so there was one long road going out into the town (Canton, I guess), then after a loop around town we take the same road back to the lake. It ran by the river for the most part, so the road was pretty flat. There was some rolling hills, but not much worse really than the rolling hills we see around Raleigh.

I only had one problem on the bike, and it threw me off mentally more than anything else. I was dealing with a lot of other fast people out there, but I'm not going to say there was any real drafting. I did have to wait on other people to slow down before I could pass a few times. You want to pass one guy, but there's 15 people in front of him all equally spaced, some even riding two abreast. So once while we were in town the guy in front of me slowed down from "the pack" and I jumped to pass him. Turns out, this was just before we had to turn onto a new road, and I passed him just before the inside of the turn. I did announce the pass, but it was like "on your left - oh man sorry I didn't see that the next turn was so close". He yelled something at me that I didn't stick around to hear. I made the turn, came out of the saddle to sprint, passed a couple more people and just left that guy in the dust. That was a breach of etiquette - he shouldn't have slowed down and I shouldn't have tried to pass that close to a turn. I felt bad about it for the rest of the ride.

I was watching my average speed the whole time. It was typically between 21 and 26 mph every time I would look down. I watched the Garmin roll into 22 miles at 58 minutes flat. That was really cool. The big descent that got me up close to 40 mph at the start? Guess what happened at 22.4 miles? We had to climb back up that sucker. It was a pretty steep grade. 39 mph going down, 5.5 mph going back up. I took the bike down to the middle chainring for the first time in the ride. I stood up and pushed when I could, still passed a few people that couldn't climb very fast or just didn't have anything left in the tank. This hill was a bear, but I wrestled it.

I came around the corner after descending the climb from the start of the bike leg, circled the lake and went back across the bridge. I knew there was a 200 yd run from the road back to the TA, so I decided not to leave the shoes in my bike. Running on gravel in socks would not be cool.

According to the Garmin, I averaged 20.8 mph over the entire ride. That's my first time averaging over 20 mph in a race. Very cool.

T2: 1:95, total transition times is 4:50, goal was under 5 minutes. Success!
Again, I couldn't find my spot in the rack. Again, I checked the number on my arm, found close to the right rack, and saw the pink transition bag. Rack the bike, off with the helmet and bike shoes, throw on the running shoes, race belt, grab the visor and take off.

Should have been less than 90 seconds.

Run: Goal 45 minutes, actual 48:47 Fail, but you'll never hear me complain about a sub-50 minute 10k and a PR!

Again, this course was exactly as advertised and it still surprised me. 10k run on one road was 5k in one direction to a turnaround point then 5k back to the finish line. The 5k out was all uphill, and the 5k back was all downhill. My plan was to take the uphill part at a 7:30 pace and the downhill part at a 7:00 pace and hope that put me near 45 minutes.

What I didn't count on? I was completely gassed by the time I hit the turnaround and just didn't have any more 7 minute miles left in my legs. That uphill was tough!

I did start out a bit fast. I tried to slow it down and pace out the uphills. But eventually they paced me out. Every time I looked down to check the Garmin, I saw a 7:15 to a 8:15 pace. Plenty of walking thrown in there for good measure. Plenty of water and heed at the aid stations.

At the turnaround, I told the volunteer "it's all downhill from here right?" and he responded "it always is". Pretty sharp guy. Checking the garmin going downhill I saw numbers anywhere from a 6:45 pace to a 7:45 pace. Again, I was gassed so there was plenty of walking. With half a mile left some spectator gave me a generic "you can do it" when I was walking. Yea, I wasn't really concerned about finishing. Thanks for playing. I was just trying to dig a little bit deeper and see if I could charge the finish line.

Me and Ashley on the bridge!

I did put up a pretty decent charge to the finish line. I saw Caitlin running out when I had about a mile to go. Then when I was on the bridge heading to the finish line I saw Ashley heading out on her run. It was really great to see them on the course, gave me a fresh push to finish strong.

I cleared the finish line completely spent. I love knowing that I gave that race all I had and really left everything out on the course. I'm proud of the work I put in before ever hitting the starting line, and I think it shows in the results. Compared to the 2:52 I put up at the same distance in March this is almost a 19 minute PR. At these speeds, PR's that big are getting seriously hard to come by.

What I didn't expect was that this race was a special qualifier for the Age Group Nationals in Burlington, VT. There were 50 spots reserved from this race and the top 33% from each age group became qualified. That usually means you get a much faster age group pool. I just realized today thanks to an email from the USAT that with 39 men in my age group, that top 13 spots were qualified for nationals!! Of course, I placed 14th. The guy who got the last qualifying spot ran a 2:30:02, so I missed it by only 3:10. If I had hit my 45 minute run target I would have made up 3:48 and put me ahead of 2 other guys in my age group, and sent me to nationals.

I have never cared where I placed before, and I didn't expect to qualify coming into this race. Didn't even know what you needed to do to qualify. I still only race to better my own times and set a good example for my girls. But I do have to admit, qualifying for age group nationals would have been really cool. And I was really close. makes you think.....

Hanging out with Ashley and Caitlin after the race. We had lunch with Ashley, and Caitlin's mom came into town so we missed seeing her more at lunch.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lake Logan Preview

Tomorrow is the Lake Logan International Distance triathlon and I have some very specific targets to hit for this race. It's in Canton, NC which is about a 4 hour drive from Raleigh, so we're heading down there tonight after work. Race starts at 7 am, so we'll be there bright and early. Packet pickup and bodymarking stops at 6:30. That is way to early for my taste.

1500 meter swim
The swim has an in-water start and is only one lap. The lake is supposed to be around 72 degrees, so it will be wetsuit legal. I think I'm going to pass on the wetsuit though, I don't want the transition time to get it off. There are about 450 people in this race, so the start could get a little hectic. My goal time is to break 30 minutes. If I can come anywhere close to that I'll call it a win.

40k Bike
The bike course is a lollipop. Canton is just west of Asheville NC, and that is what I call the "lower mountains". The elevation is only about 2000 ft above sea level, but it's certainly mountainous. There are very few flat roads. Apparently, all of the flat roads are on this bike course. There's one rolling set of hills that we hit coming and going near transition, but the rest of the course is surprisingly flat and very fast. That's what all the reviews say. I'll believe it when I see it. Mountain people have a different version of "flat" than I do, but we all know what "fast" is. My target time is 1:10. At the Beaverdam oly I did a few months ago I rode in 1:25, so where am I going to make up 15 minutes? Well I was actually riding that one in 20+ mph winds during a tornado, and I got hailed on for part of the ride. My average speeds were at 2009 levels, but the course was great. If this course is more like my version of flat and not like the Mountain version of flat then I should easily be 3 mph faster than that, and come somewhere close to 1:10. I'm also going to try and take my feet out of the shoes before hitting the dismount line to save some transition time.

10k Run
The run is a straight shot out and back with a false flat the entire way. Apparently, it's so gradual of a grade that you don't really notice that the first 5k is uphill until you make the turnaround and really notice that the return adventure is downhill. So I'm expecting to negative split the run and turn in a time around 45 minutes. I've hit 45 plenty of times in practice now.

There is a run from the lake to the TA after the swim, so that could take some time. Transitions should be less than 90 seconds, but I'm giving myself 5 minutes total anyway. T1 is just the run, throw on socks, bike shoes, helmet and get out of there. For T2, I'm going to try and leave my shoes clipped in and take my feet out before hitting the dismount line, so I should just have to take off the helmet in transition and throw on the running shoes.

Finish time: 30 + 1:10 + 45 + 5 = 2:30 total

My current Oly PR is 2:52 set during the tornado/rainstorm a few months ago. So really any PR will be acceptable. But I really believe that a 2:30 is within my grasp. Now I just have to go out there and get it!

The Best Part
What I consider to be the best part of the whole deal has to be social. Kelley's dad is keeping the kids so we get a whole weekend in the mountains just me and her!!! This is amazing. It's wonderful to be able to see the kids more now that I'm working from home again, but that also gives me a new appreciation for having a few days without them hanging off of me all the time. Ashley actually found this race, and was trying to talk Caitlin into signing up when I horned in on their friendship time. I just totally busted in on that, but I don't think they will mind. Blogger meetups are the best! After being blog friends with both of these girls for over 3 years I will finally get to meet them in person! Kelley is going to be the race photographer for all three of us, so we'll get to hang out at the race site before and after. They actually have shower facilities onsite, so I think we're going to check out of the hotel before the race, shower there, grab lunch with A & C in Canton, then we're heading to Asheville for the rest of the day and staying at a friends house saturday night. The whole weekend is going to be epic, and I have been looking forward to this one for a long time (written while Evil Genius screams and cries at me for not letting her eat candy for breakfast)... a long time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

July was hot hot hot!

July's totals:

Swim: 16,400 meters - 5 pool 2 open water races
Bike: 452.5 miles - 16 rides no bike races
Run: 93 miles - 15 runs 1 race
Strength: 3 workouts
Stretch: 3 yoga's

Shut the front door! That's a lot of time on the bike. I knew this ironman training plan was pretty bike heavy, but that's more than I really wanted. That's nearly double the normal bike workload while keeping the running time near the 100 mile target? I've also fallen into a regular pattern of swim workouts with the RAM team so my swim mileage is up there pretty high too. We have a new evening coach that I absolutely love, so that makes it easy to hit those practice times.

The first race of the month was the second Aquathon where I got sand in my running shoes and wore all those blisters on my feet. I still have scabs from those. Then the Big Deuce came up, and a 2 mile swim in open water is no joke. So no bike races in July, and I still put up 450+ miles? That's insane. Bananas!

I spent a lot of time indoors in July too. It was over 100* outside for most of the month, it felt like. That's unusual even for the Deep South. I'm so ready for it to cool off. Bigun is enjoying first grade and Evil Genius is about to start the 4k program in September, and it's still too hot for them to play outside. So they are cooped up in the house all day watching way to much TV. At the same time, I'm still struggling to deal with the death of my old friend Jeff, and it's making me more hesitant to get out on the road. We have to be so careful out there - get a Road ID!

August? Unfortunately, I have to skip the final aquathon tonight thanks to a work function. The race schedule as a whole is starting to peter down. August has the Lake Logan oly this weekend and the BikeFest Century next weekend, but after that all I have left is the OBX half iron in september and IMFL in November. So now that I'm in the "competitive" phase of the training plan I get to stop competing. Funny how that works out. But most of the race distances are shorter than what the training plan calls for anyway, so it's the right move to make. We're going to have lots more of this heat in August, but it should be a really fun month!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Let the Ironman Build Begin!

Evil Genius decided to do her best impression of her Uncle Michael this week. Michael has actually shaved off "the mustache your parents warned you about" while he was on the European tour, but this is still cute.

The girls are loving their swim lessons. It's only a 2 week program, so this is the second week starting today. The instructors are great, they are learning breast stroke and freestyle in addition to the normal kicking and general comfort in the water that is typical of preschool swim lessons. We got a few pics from last week's lessons.

Evil Genius loves her teacher. He's really good!

Bigun Breaststrokes

Bigun looking strong on the side of the pool

This weekend I kind of took it easy on the long workouts. I know today is the first day of the build phase, called "Competitive Season Week 1" in my training plan. I didn't want to really stress out right before starting the new phase. It's still well over 100* here every day it seems, so I loaded Roberta up onto the trainer for a 5 hour ride on saturday. Then Sunday I hit the gym for an hour on the stationary bike (20 miles) followed by a 10 mile run on the treadmill. I'm getting really tired of this heat, and tired of the indoor workouts. Ready to be outside for a while if this heat wave will ever break!

It feels to me like the trainer is not as effective of a workout as the stationary bike. Do you guys get the same feeling? On the trainer the resistance is always the same. I finished 5 hours with very little muscle fatigue but some serious chafing on the butt cheeks. I know it's important to get the time registered on my saddle. But I just don't get the feeling of exhaustion or sweat nearly as much as when I'm on the stationary. When I'm on the stationary at the gym, I use the "Random Hill Climb" program on a resistance level 12 or 13 (out of 20). After an hour I'm drenched in sweat and burn about 500 calories. After 3 hours on there I can barely stand. Which one do you think gives the better workout for Ironman training?

The first week doesn't look too bad. About the same schedule mid-week as before, but the Saturday long day is 4 hours instead of only 3. And instead of that, I'm doing the Lake Logan Oly on saturday with some special friends! It's going to be fantastic. But hopefully it will only take about two and a half hours to complete, and we'll be able to make the four hour drive home on Sunday. So saturday's 4 hour and sunday's 2.5 hour workouts may be combined into one race. that might not be cool.

Be careful out there! I'm very sad today. My old friend Jeff Papenfus from Greenville SC was killed in a mountain bike accident yesterday. He was descending a big hill too fast, tried to corner too fast, and went face first into an embankment. Jeff was a very experienced mountain biker and racer, so this is very sudden and unexpected. I knew Jeff best as a technology guru and big competitor when I had the business, but our offices were very close together and we did a lot at the chamber of commerce together. I hadn't talked to him in several years, but that doesn't mean that I won't miss him. That's the kind of thing that makes you examine your own life insurance policies and make sure your will is up to date. It really can happen to anybody. Watch what you're doing weather on the roads or trails, and be safe. I've got to get a RoadID.