Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Wild Times

Well I've got 2 weeks worth of training to catch up on.  Things got pretty wild.

This was a recovery week, and I got sick on top of that. A scant < 10 hours of training, and over half of that was in the half ironman I accidentally PR'd.  I came down with a head cold on Thursday and laid out of work Friday, it was awful. By Saturday I had finally started to feel normal again, thank goodness.

The good thing about recovery weeks is that you feel a lot better at the end of it.  And the rough thing about a half ironman is the recovery time that you need after putting up such a race level effort.  I knew that after racing that on Sunday, I had the first peak week.  The difference?

yea, that's kind of insane. The two biggest weeks in the entire training plan are the peak weeks. Making the peak weeks follow the half iron race might not have been smart, but that's just the way it played out.  Week 1 still has that gaping hole on Saturday, even though it was supposed to be a 7 day week.  The totals for this week came out to be 181 miles on the bike, 37 miles of running, and 3.6 miles of swimming adding up to just over 17 hours. It was supposed to be 20 hours but I missed the 1 hour runoff after Friday's long bike ride, and the 90 minute ride on Saturday.  Sunday was kind of eventful, but I'll get to that.

Cast Iron Club update: oh it's getting close.  As of 9/22 I'm sitting on 47.96 iron swims, 29.82 iron bikes, and 21.93 iron runs. This is really shaping up!

That big hole on Saturday? I went down to Myrtle Beach with Kelley and the Kids! Actually they were there from Wednesday to Wednesday and I was only able to join them for the weekend. I actually took Friday off from work to do the long bike ride, and head to the coast after that. The day started to get away from me, so I skipped the 1 hour runoff after the bike and got to the beach about 9 pm.

Saturday I got to play in the surf with the kids, and when it got hotter and rainier in the afternoon Kelley and I went out for a little shopping.  Kelley got some really cool pictures of us playing around.

Playing with the kids in the surf

I kept trying to get Lena to ride on my back while bodysurfing

Ella loved riding waves on the boogie board! Could not get her off of that thing.

EG and me having fun

I stuck to bodysurfing. Pretty good sized wave there!

Apparently Bigun and I came in really close on the same wave. I think my head looks funny in that shot.

She gets her tan lines from me, obviously.

Bigun and I riding the same wave

I wish I could be this happy about anything, ever. Innocence of childhood joy gets totally lost after 30.

She's just having fun

I tried to jump over that wave and it took me out! My face says it all

This is a really cool shot! Playing with EG can still be a blast.

I like the action in the water drops in this pic.

bodysurfing is fun

Even Lil' Wayne showed up on our beach! (not the real weezy)

Sunday I got up and ran 9 miles in Myrtle Beach on Ocean Drive. It was scenic and beautiful, and flat and hot and humid. Then I enjoyed breakfast with the kids (I got back before Kelley got out of bed), and some coffee, then packed up the car and came back to Raleigh. I made it home at 3:45, and had a meeting with EG's Indian Princess tribe at 4 pm, so that was insane. We had a good time and got the schedule set for the year. Then I grabbed a quick bite to eat, 40 minutes on the bike and another 10 mile run to the capital and back.

Kelley and the kids just got back home, and I swear every night they were gone I was packed solid with workouts and other commitments. Burnout is eminent! I finished that run to the capital around 9 pm, then ate and got ready for work on Monday.  Most nights it was closer to midnight before finishing up.  Insane! And I still have to get up early to workout over the second peak week.  Last week was supposed to be 20 hours, this week is 22. I'm pretty curious how close I will be able to get.  I think 17 hours plus a weekend at the beach is pretty impressive for last week, and thank God the taper starts on Monday. Might not be able to post again until taper time, so y'all chill out for me!

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Game Plan

This is a test, this is only a test. If this were a real race, I would have gone out too hard on the bike and totally blown up in the second half of the run. Instead, my game plan was to test out the speed, perceived effort, cadence and pacing for the full Iron coming up in a scant 6 weeks. Start swimming at my 2.4 mile race pace. Start biking at my 112 mile easy cadence. Run nothing faster than 8:45 minute miles.

Sunday was the Finish Strong Half Iron triathlon, my test for B2B time. I did go out there and execute that plan. Well, almost. My run times were all over the place. And with 2 miles left I figured out that I could still finish with a sub-2 hour run split, so I did pick up the pace then to go for it. But the last 2 miles in a 70.3.... well, anything goes.

I set an 8 minute PR! Holy cow, wait, what? That's not supposed to happen.

Beautiful day for a triathlon

I got up at 5:30 to head over to Vista Point and got there with plenty of time to spare. Got my TA setup, ran for a few minutes, then got in the water for a warmup. It was a cool day, temps in the low 60's, and the water temp was 78* so it was wetsuit legal. I still didn't bring my wetsuit so it made no difference to me.

TA and Jordan Lake - incredible weather!

Swim 1.2 miles - 30:56, 4/12 age group, 30/90 men, 1:27/100yd
I was surprised how much traffic I got into at the start! I thought I had open water. There was no wind, no chop, it was just cool and easy to settle into a pace. Then everyone else got in my way. Eventually I hit the first turn buoy and it got a little clustered up again.

Somewhere in there somebody kicked my wrist. I had the Garmin 310 started up and I was really looking forward to getting heart rate data from while I was swimming, but when I got out of the water it only recorded 4 minutes of data. oh well, that also throws off the overall time too.

I also got kicked around in the chest and belly some, but that didn't really bother me too much. My face stayed pretty clean this time. Again I was trying to set the same pace I want to use to go 2.4 miles in B2B, so I didn't try to start out super fast to avoid the crowds. Just let the other people come and go, I'm just trying to keep my pace.  Time to get all zen about it.

Near the start there was a sandbar, so about half the field stood up and walked. Then we hit the first turn buoy, then the second and headed back to shore. The water was pretty clean the whole time. I'm really surprised to see the pace at 1:27/100, I was expecting more like 1:45. Most races I'm stuck at 2:03 per 100. My RAM team coaches have been really tweaking my form and head position recently, and this shows that it really pays off. I also think the course might have been marked a bit short. Either way I was the 30th man out of the water? freaking sweet.

T1 - 1:58
Should be under 90 seconds! damnit! The run from the water up to TA was counted in the swim time, so this was all putting on the bike gear and getting out of the way.

Bike 56 miles - 3:13:13, 8/12 age group, 61/90 men, 17.4 mph
After resting up in T1, I was ready to ride. Again, test out the speed for B2B, settle into a cadence and game plan that I can use on race day. Take a gel 15 minutes in since that will be 45 minutes into the race, and take more gels every 45 minutes after that. Water and Heed on a schedule.

It takes 4 miles to get out of the park and onto Hwy 64 and they are all uphill.  After that it gets pretty smooth with flat sections and rollers. Once you hit mile 40 it gets into some serious up and down stuff and is supposed to be pretty torturous until the end. Just get into a low gear and grind it out. My friend Brian said it was the hardest bike course he's ever faced. I thought it was significantly easier than the IM Raleigh bike course - that thing was brutal.

This is what I felt like. Evil Genius with my bike shoes and helmet on Saturday Night

I did exactly that - go execute that plan. Once I got out of the park I geared up some and tried to hold a perceived effort that I could sustain for 112 miles. Test the bike and the fit and the gearing and the cadence and just see what works.

Normally in a half ironman my only two goals are to break 3 hours on the bike and 6 hours overall. I know that hitting my time goal at B2B sort of hinges on a 6 hour bike split. Time to get rid of all of those expectations. If this course really is as challenging as it is supposed to be then I need to just take whatever it throws at me. After mile 40 all bets are off.

What I did not expect after mile 40 was the descents. They were screaming! literally. I was screaming going down them it was so much fun. The climbs were tough, yes. But the heat stayed away, and I just put Roberta into the middle chainring, geared it down, and spun the pedals around. Grind up the hill, scream down the descent. There were some long and steep ones, some short and really steep ones, but overall it wasn't nearly as tough as the Ironman Raleigh bike course.

I also didn't expect to get passed as much as I did. I got passed by a lot of other bikers.  Well, 31 of them finished faster than me, sure. But I only passed maybe 3 or 4 people the whole bike split, and even that was in the last 20 miles. and there were plenty of girls that flew past me as well.

After the really hilly miles 40 to 53, we turned into the park again and the last 4 miles were all downhill back to the TA.

T2: 58 seconds
Bonehead, I totally forgot to take my feet out of the shoes before I pulled up to the dismount line, so I lost a bit unclipping them and taking them off in TA. Running shoes on, grab everything else.... ah I can live with under a minute. That's still pretty good.

Run 13.1 miles - 1:55:41, 7/12 age group, 27/90 men, 8:49 pace
The plan was to keep 8:45 miles and adjust for the hills. The course was a 2 loop out and back, so every hill we had to go up, we also had to go back down then go back up again. Maybe I just took the bike easy enough to still have some gas left in the tank, maybe the speedwork in this build phase of the Ironman training plan is having an effect. Whatever happened, it worked. This was the first time I've broken 2 hours in the half iron run split before.

The course went out of the park, then turned onto the "other" road, then onto a gravel doubletrack for a while to a turnaround point. There wasn't really anywhere that was just flat to set a run cadence and just enjoy it. Going away from the park was all uphill, so going back to start lap 2 or finish was all downhill. The mile splits tell the best story there:

Mile 1: 7:56 - uphill! oh, going to pay for that later
Mile 2: 8:40
Mile 3: 8:17
Mile 4: 9:20 - first time on the gravel section
Mile 5: 8:47
Mile 6: 8:06 - downhill
Mile 7: 8:51 - this was actually the toughest mile out there
Mile 8: 10:34 - paid for it
Mile 9: 9:28
Mile 10: 9:12
Mile 11: 10:03
Mile 12: 8:07 - push it to go sub-2
Mile 13+: 8:13 to the finish!

Mile 7 was by far the toughest one out there. Going up that hill for the second time to get out of the park was draining.  Again all I was trying to do was test my endurance at that speed to see if I could hold it on a flat course for 26.2 miles. So getting mentally crushed by a hill in mile 7 was tough.  I really tried to shake it off and just keep running.

The gravel road section was tricky. Going downhill at first you worry about slipping. Then hit the turnaround and go back uphill, you worry about basic survival skills. It was a weird section of the course. The downhill didn't seem as steep as the uphill was, but you know it was really the same grade.

I kept watching the Garmin the whole time, and got lap splits every mile. When I started the second loop, I got the idea that I could actually just maybe break 2 hours.  At the 10 mile mark, I knew I had 30 minutes to run the last 5k to break 2 hours. That seemed feasible.  And since I've done plenty of standalone half marathons under 1:45, I really wanted to get that sub-2 run split. Finally I hit the 11 mile mark with just under 20 minutes to go and knew if I put up 2 8 minute miles I would be there. And I also felt like I had the endurance left to suffer for 2 more miles at an 8 minute pace. For B2B I don't want to come anywhere close to an 8 minute mile, so finally after 68 miles of racing I decide it was ok to break from my plan and speed up a bit.

I also ran into a runner in an App State jersey, turns out my alma mater has a triathlon club now! He was not impressed by the fact that I graduated 15 years ago and he was a sophmore because I was currently kicking his butt. Still really cool to see some appy's coming down from the mountain for triathlons.

In the park again, I came into the parking lot with someone else who put up a great finish line kick. I let him go since all I wanted was a sub-2 run split and I clearly had that in hand. Went through the parking lot, ran past the 1st lap turnaround point and turned the corner to see the finish line. Wait, hold on a minute, what does that clock say?

I'm as confused as the autofocus on the camera at that finish clock.

This is what happy looks like

Finish! 5:42:37, 7/12 age group, 41/90 men, 50/124 overall
I knew from the Garmin that I had the sub-2 hour run split that I was going for. Working that out was a surprise. But I was completely shocked when I turned that last corner and caught the finish line clock when I crossed the line! I set my old PR on the OBX half from 2011, that was the only time (out of 5 previous half's) where I broke the 6 hour mark. OBX 2012 was 6:00:19. But the OBX course is flat and fast and made for pr's.  This is one of the most difficult half's in NC. You don't go to a difficult course to set PR's. You don't run a B-level race just to test your plans for the A priority race and set a PR.  Yet somehow, that's exactly what happened.  I'm still totally shocked and can't really figure it out.

But who's going to complain about that? Not this guy. It's fantastic. I saw Kelley and the kids driving into the park when I was heading out on the second lap of the run, so they were waiting for me at the finish line.  It was great having their support when I got back there. Also the kids loved getting to play in the lake for a bit and the finish line environment is always a fun place to hang out.

One of the sponsors was a local middle eastern restaurant Neomonde, that I love.  So I got me a big plate of Neomonde and settled in with a bottle of water.  Good post race eats. And I was starting to feel better.  Kelley and the kids headed home while I ate, then I packed up my stuff and got on the road home too. A local half, test race, tough course, and a PR. Nothing could be better.

Well, one final thought. Why did I get passed so much on the bike? This is the way every race goes for me. I crush the swim, get destroyed on the bike, and run until the tank is empty. Triathlon can be a bikers sport, the faster bikers usually win the race or their age group. I really hate the bike right now. This happens every year. After a few thousand miles I just can't sit there and pedal anymore. Then after I hang it up for the winter, spring rolls around and I can't wait to go fast again.  But every race I put up comparatively poor bike splits! it is getting frustrating.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I pulled out the lizard to watch football last weekend

This is actually a pretty decent picture of me in a speedo! From the White Lake oly race we did as a relay team.

Fall has come to Raleigh! It's cool enough to ride with the top down and I loved getting to hang with just Kelley last weekend.

Monday, September 16, 2013


When I started this little corner of the interwebs back in September 2008 I had no idea I would still be running triathlons for this long, much less still be blogging about it. This is the 500th time I have posted to the ol' Smoke Trainer, so I thought I'd bring out some of the highlights in case you haven't been reading for the last five years.


The first post I wrote explained why I run and what the family history was like. It was funny and the first time I realized I might have a "writing style". It also exposed just how much I care about my health and why I need to stay healthy.

At that time I had done one sprint triathlon and that was it. I jumped straight into multisport, having not done a 5k  or swam a lap before that race. I bought my first bike just 2 weeks before the race. When I crossed that finish line I knew I had beaten my addiction and found a suitable replacement.
From the Greenville Sprint 2008

I swam without goggles, and needed a CamelBak to get through a 15 mile bike ride, refilling the bladder in TA before a 5k run.  It was a big deal. I only did one other race in 2008.

I also wrote this little gem in 2008, which was really a precursor to other funny stuff.  I mean, 6 miles was a long run? come on.

The Kids

I post a lot of pictures and stories about the kids, but this one has to be the most important. I have emailed this story to plenty of people and told it in person thousands of times. If you've never read it you really should. It's the story of how we got the kids, and it's actually a funny and cringe-worthy tale of infertility and healing.

In 2009 I did the most posts of any year, 142. I did my second triathlon, and finally started to make it less of a big deal to race. It became a habit, something that I could post about regularly and start to see some continual improvement on.  I ran my first marathon, first Olympic distance triathlon, and first half iron distance triathlon. It was a banner year all around


I've been reading some of those posts again, and I was pretty consistently funny back then. The first oly race report has been repeated called one of the funniest race reports ever. I think the funniest post happens to be meme for 10 things about me. I don't know where that humor came from, but man that one cracks me up.

Funny things just seem to happen to me, like getting passed by a guy who farted as soon as he passed me while running in a half ironman, or getting offered a hit from a joint 16 miles into my first marathon. Too funny. Now I get really excited when something funny happens to me.

2011 was the big year with Ironman Florida as the highlight. I still talk about that trip and race like it was yesterday. So much fun. I also set a TON of PR's in 2011, because I had the most room to grow. 12 races where I set PR's, and only 4 where I didn't. crazy. But every single one has a race report on here. I also did the "half marathon every month" challenge, which was a lot of fun. Sometimes they were just 13.1 mile runs and sometimes races, but the times ranged from 1:39 to 2:13. crazy times.

After IMFL I got really depressed with no big goal like that to look forward to again. That meant in 2012 I just threw together anything I could think of. 300 days of yoga?  Sure, sounds like fun. 27 races? yes please. I'd race anything since it was an off-ironman year and I had no real target. 4 marathons, both the spring and fall Grand Prix series, open water swims. I'd race anything I could get into. It ended up being a really fun year.

This year I needed to focus on multisport and dedicated training for my second ironman. Beach 2 Battleship is only a few weeks away now, and the training is going smooth.  PR's are pretty hard to come by these days, but I certainly feel stronger now.

Next year is going to be a blast too! Kelley and I are going to try the 3-star marathon maniac thing, doing full marathons on 4 consecutive weekends if we can get into them all.  Challenge USA is talking about putting on an iron distance race in the 3rd weekend of June next year, so I might try and get into that. Ironman Chattanooga sold out too quickly, and I didn't have the cash to get in anyway. But we are planning on going to spectate my friends, volunteer for  something, and the plan is to register for 2015. And since I'll be 40 then, it could mean that I'll be making a run for a kona spot or it could end up being my last ironman. Who knows.  So that's what you have to look forward to for the next 500 posts here.

Speaking of old stuff....

20 years difference of me. The weight loss is a typical thing that I talk about, but it's harder for me to describe how thin I was when I was younger. That first pic is Christmas of my senior year of high school. Yes, that also means that my 20th high school reunion is coming up next month, and I will not be attending. For girls it's ok to be that skinny, but for guys it left me weak and unstable. I tried everything to gain weight. No matter how hard I lifted weights or what I ate I could not gain a pound. Of course I didn't know anything about healthy eating or gainer's nutrition then either, but being that thin was really tough.

Fast forward 10 years and after Kelley and I got married my metabolism started to catch up. Around age 23 or 25 the weight really started to come on, and I started being able to lift heavier weights too. I embraced it, then let it take over and I ballooned up 100 lbs heavier than I was out of high school. For my height (6'1") that was considered overweight but not obese. And the weight loss story is well documented on here.  Kelley did the weight watchers thing, I lost some. I went vegetarian with calorie restrictions and lost the rest. Now I'm sitting around 180 lbs, and it is a happy medium. I can have muscle definition and a neck.

This week I got some pictures of me that my grandmother had kept, plus plenty of others like my dad's high school pictures and lots of shots of his dad. Really cool stuff in there, but here's a few more that you might get a kick out of.

Me with a beard when Evil Genius was a wee tot

Bigun and I working the garden when we lived in SC

Kelley and EG in really big hats

me with my brothers Morgan and Michael. I had long hair in college, it's pulled back there.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Last Build Week

Besides the great race on Saturday we had a couple of other high points last week

Monday was labor day, so I did the double brick there instead of Tuesday.  Naturally, this also messed up the rest of the weekly schedule. I hit bike/swim Tuesday and that was ok. But then Wednesday has a bike and a tempo run.  This is the last week of heavy build phase training, so it's also the last bit of speedwork in the training plan.  I ended up running a 5k Wednesday night in 20:42, a 6:40 pace. Pretty strong.

The problem was that since Thursday was also Interval day, it got hairy.  I made the mistake of mentioning on facebook that I made the hard tempo run an had 4 x 1 mile intervals in the morning. Well, the real problem was that I didn't read any of the comments telling me how bad of idea that was. True, I like to put at least one day between hard runs, but this was the way that the schedule worked out so I just went with it when I really shouldn't have. Thursday morning I did 3.5 x 1 mile repeats at 6:22, stopping halfway through the last interval because of poop.  Sure, my lungs and leg muscles were screaming too. Those are really fast miles! But the foot felt fine, and that's what I was really trying to pay attention to.

Saturday had the race, and by the time we got back from white lake I was too worn out to do anything else. I thought we'd get back around 12 or 1 pm, not the 4 pm arrival time. So it was kind of hosed. I napped and watched football. Then Sunday I had a split run day to make things a bit more manageable.  I started with a 7 mile run before church that felt pretty good.  I was definitely fatigued from the race, but I got by.

At church, we voted in a new preacher! Finally our 3 year search for a new senior pastor has been concluded. This guy is incredible. He brings a charisma and ease to the pulpit that is exciting.

Then after a quick lunch, Bigun and I went out for an Indian Princess charity event.  We were filling bags of food for Stop Hunger Now who ships dried foods like rice to other countries. It was an assembly line process and we were on the bag sealing machines.

The coolest part about this was that Bigun really started to understand why charity work is important. She's really starting to mature into someone that I am so proud of, and it's really cool for me to get to see those gears start to turn like that. It feels good to help other people, doesn't it daddy?  yes, it does.

After we got back home I grabbed a short nap, then got out for a 10 mile ride and another 7 mile run. Tough workout, but that was a great way to finish off a long, hard week.

Thank goodness it's time for a recovery week. After this it's 2 weeks of peak training, then taper time. Ironman is only 6 weeks away!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's better for everyone when I win

The only thing better than having something good happen to you, is having something good happen to you that you get to share with your friends.  When the AAA Carolinas Triathlon Team gave me a free race entry to a setup event, I was already talking to Brian and Randy about doing a relay. The team people and the setup people got it all worked out, so I got to race with friends for free! Nothing better.  I had never done a relay team before, so this was going to be interesting and fun, and I'd been looking forward to it for a while. The plan was for me to swim, Brian would bike, and Randy could run for the White Lake International. We even had a bet going with some other local triathletes that had never done a relay before, Jonathan, Scottie and Alan. I race against these guys all the time, at least one of them is at every race I do.  So we're all good friends.

Still, you can just imagine the smack talk going on facebook before race week.  It was pretty epic.

Saturday morning came early.  Sometimes 4:30 AM just happens. By 4:50 Randy was picking me up and we headed to Brian's house. Brian drove us down there, about a 2 hour drive. We got to White Lake with plenty of time before the transition area closed and started getting ready.

One of my favorite parts is meeting new friends at races.  I always end up talking some neat people. This time I was asking the guys if anybody brought sunscreen, turns I forgot almost everything besides my swim gear. Some girls nearby in transition offered me some "if I would ask them nicely", which I did.  Then of course, I had take off the shirt and shorts I had on to apply said sunscreen, and got a few funny looks when I was down to a speedo.  Randy wanted to use the sunscreen next, just to apply some directly onto his eyeballs so he wouldn't have to see me in a speedo anymore.  Good thing we all swim together on the RAM swim team, they were used to it. But I think it took the girls by surprise, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Me hanging in TA, wearing a banana hammock and making friends

Big transition area, the relay teams were at one end

Our end was near the swim finish/run start end.

Brian, me, Randy.  Hells yea I raced in a speedo.  All I had to do was swim.

The water temp was 82* so no wetsuits. The lake is 2 miles long by 1 mile wide, and only gets about 7' deep at the middle and there's no fish.  A little Spanish moss, and a brisk wind blowing, the air temp was only about 65* at race start, so it was a lot warmer in the water.  There was a good crowd out there watching the swim start, and there may be some children that need therapy after they saw me walking around. I also ended up talking to the same girls from TA before getting in to warm up.  We started at one pier and finished the swim at another one. There were two right turns in between.  The water was warm and crystal clear, you could easily see the beer cans at the bottom.

They started the waves 5 minutes apart, and the last wave was all of the relay teams and novice triathletes. The cool part was that we could stay in the water behind the starting line until it was time to take off.  My plan was to take off fast, then push it as hard as I could for the rest of the time, breathing every third stroke and sighting every third breath and backing off of my pace slowly until I came down to a steady beat. Watch for the other swimmers around me and try to avoid traffic. Remember the form mechanics that the RAM coaches have been drilling into me lately and just cruise as fast as possible.

Jonathan was the swimmer for the other team, and he's a 6'8" mammoth with a Phelpsian wingspan and size 16 flippers for feet with an ego that he earned as a huge swimmer. He came into the water with a chip on his shoulder really wanting to make me look bad out there, and this kid is legitimately good.  Bring it on.

When our wave finally did start at 8:30, I sprinted out of the gate.  I gave it the full "25 meter sprint" form and pace from the RAM practice and it worked! There were four sight buoys before the first turn buoy, and when I hit the first one I looked up during a breath and saw nobody ahead of me. I was leading the pack. That's one way to avoid traffic.

By the second sight buoy I was already starting to pass the people from the wave that started 5 minutes ahead of us. That was a little unexpected, but there were still no red caps in my view.  There was a little chop on the way out, but it was nothing compared to the ocean swim's 3' waves I was swimming through a few weeks ago, so I just kept on pushing it. By the time I hit the turn buoy I was feeling pretty good.  On the lateral part of the course I ran into the most traffic.  Other people were everywhere, and I passed as many as I could. I did finally see another red swim cap out there, but I couldn't tell if they were passing me or if I was passing them.  I just kept on pushing it.

Made the final turn and had kind of a tough time sighting up to get back to the shore. We had to hit a specific pier to get out of the water and I really tried to push it to get there as fast as I could.  My whole body was straining and just aching wanting to slow down and not push so hard, but I kept right on going.

I hit the pier, climbed out and ran as fast as I could into the TA where Brian was waiting on me. He took the chip and ran the bike out of TA.  I just tried to catch my breath, then noticed that Scottie was still hanging around.  Finally, eventually, Jonathan came running into TA.  Scottie grabbed his chip and bike and took off.  I've never seen Scottie run that fast before, so I knew he really wanted to make up that time on Brian.

I beat Jonathan out of the water by almost a minute.  it was awesome.

Right after I finished the swim. 
I knew Scottie was going to be ready to hammer his bike ride, but Brian was going to give him a real fun for the money. Meanwhile, we got to hang out with the runners and just enjoy the rest of the day. I also got to hang out some more with the girl I borrowed the sunscreen from, turns out she was doing both the swim and run legs.  No way I could have gone that fast and pushed it that hard in the water if I still had to bike and run too.  that was fun, and my day was done.

Got dressed and hanging with the runners. That's Alan and his girlfriend over my shoulder.

oh no, I have to enjoy this beautiful lake on a gorgeous day while my friends race.

Brian right after he got back from the bike ride

After getting dressed again I went over to the finishers area for some food and water. The sun was out and the day was really starting to heat up. I knew I had some time while Brian was out there riding, this course was 28 miles.  We saw him on the road, and he ran through TA screaming with speed.  I grabbed the bike, Randy got the chip and took off out of the TA onto the run.  Brian averaged 22 mph on the bike, which sounds blazing fast to us mortals but is pretty normal for him. It was a windy bike course and the heat really came out so I know how hard that really was.  He nailed it.

Then we saw Scottie come in.  Of course we're talking smack to Alan the whole time too. By the time Scottie came in from his ride, Alan grabbed the chip and took off quick.  We knew he was going to be fast, but Brian actually put another 2+ minutes into Scottie.  So by our count Randy was running with a 2:50 lead.

We knew Alan was going to be knocking down 7:15 miles, and there is no shade on that course.  That guy goes all out all the time and even I've had no luck trying to catch him before.  He loves to chase people down, so this was going to be close. As long as Randy didn't give up more than 30 seconds per mile we were going to be ok.  Brian and I loaded the gear back up into his car while they were out running, grabbed some food and a chair to watch the big finish. 

Before you know what happened, we saw this coming around the corner into the finishers chute

It's RANDY!!
I'm jumping around screaming "THAT'S MY RUNNER! THAT'S MY RUNNER!" like a madman.  Our friend Carol was there too, so we were talking and hanging out with lots of local friends.  I snapped this:

Jenny (Scottie's fiancé), Brad (won his age group) and the mammoth Jonathan
and before you know it here was Alan.  This is as close as I could get to a finish line pic of him.

I told you that guy was fast
Team RAMRod had done it (we all swim on the RAM team).  We had beaten Team SpeedGoat by 50 seconds. Randy ran a 47 minute 10k, and Alan pulled a 45 minute run. 

Turns out, we were also the first two relay teams to finish!  Nothing like snagging a podium spot too. It may be my only one this year. Really it's better for everyone when I win. But you know there's nothing better than local bragging rights.

Alan, Scottie, Jonathan, me, Randy, Brian.  Remember I'm 6'1", these dudes are huge.

The award was a soup bowl. First place relay team, I'll take it! Yes thank you.

The awards ceremony got delayed for a bit but eventually this happened:

Thanks for the pic Jenny!
RAMRod behind the 1 box, and by 50 seconds SpeedGoat behind the 2 box. I don't know who the third place team was. There were 5 relay teams total.

Really this one could have gone either way. if I had gone off course in the water or Brian had a problem on the bike, maybe Alan would have been faster if the heat wasn't so intense.  I was grateful to pull off a win, but even more grateful to get to spend that much time with such good friends. We made it back to Raleigh about 4 pm and I grabbed a nap and got to hang with the kids for a while.  Our bet is that the losing team has to pay off a bar tab for the 6 of us.  It may only be a beer or two, but it's still going to be pretty sweet.

And just to give them the due credit, Jonathan, Alan, Randy and Brian have each done 3 Ironmans, Scottie and Jenny did IMFL with me and IMLou the next year, and I totally beat Brian by 9 minutes at IMFL. Brian and Randy are also doing IM Chattanooga next year. So these are some serious veteran triathletes.  Very cool. Also two of my AAA Carolina teammates were there and took age group podium spots.  Represent!