Monday, June 29, 2015

Be Prepared

Going into a big season like this, we all have to be prepared for whatever races are coming our way. We know what we're getting ourselves into when we sign up for the race (most of the time), but don't always know how we are going to get to that finish line until later.

Before beer mile training
I even did some special training for the Raleigh Beer Mile. Had to time myself chugging brews, and did a session where I chugged then ran to the end of the block and back (0.4 miles total) 3 times.

After beer mile training! Not that drunk
Getting ready for Ironman Raleigh this year meant riding with the cyclist on my relay team since he had never done a triathlon before. I got to teach him the non-drafting rules, how to pass and be passed by others. We had a lot of fun! Eric absolutely smashed his expectations and rode a 2:52 bike split.

Me and Eric after our ride
Also before Ironman Raleigh I got to run with Chris and KC on the IM Raleigh run course. KC had a blast doing her first half iron and is now settled in on her training for IM Chattanooga. Chris is starting his training for a BQ attempt.

Me, KC, Chris
Everybody has to prepare for something. I have the Big Deuce coming up again, my 4th attempt swimming this 2 mile open water race. Goal is to break my 58 minute course pr since I've been swimming much faster lately. I did actually sign up for a triathlon this year, the Battle at Buckhorn sprint at the end of August.

But the fall. Autumn is where it's at. I'm starting to ramp my volume up in the pool to get ready for the 12 mile OWS race in Charleston and I have no idea if what I'm doing is going to be enough or not. Pretty sure my aerobic base is going to be there but I have no idea if the arm mechanics of my swim stroke is going to be able to hold up.

Comparing notes with a RAM teammate who is also doing the race, I'm thinking 25-30k yards a week is going to be enough. He's wanting to get closer to 40k a week. He's never run a marathon, and if I've learned anything from my 15 marathon or longer finishes it's the importance of the weekly long run and getting some 20 milers in there.

Out on a recent run at the NC Capital building
I think 4 or 5 RAM practices (average 3500 yards in 1:15) plus a long swim will be enough to get me there. My recent advances in swim speed deserve it's own post, but I'm really amped about being able to hold a faster pace for longer. In marathon training, I love to ramp up to some 50+ mile weeks and get those long runs to to 20 miles. In swimming, the race is over 19k long, so I'll need to start out with a 5k to 10k long swim, and increase every week by 15 to 30 minutes, I guess? 10k takes about 2.5 hours in the pool. The race has a 6 hour cutoff. I think I need to get my long swims up to about 4 hours?

I've never had to prepare for anything like this before so I really have no idea what I've gotten myself into. Any advice would be appreciated. Maybe swim marathons and running marathons don't require the same approach.

But they literally have to, in my case. You see, I added the extra stupidity of signing up for 3 full marathons and 2 50 milers (in 5 different states to boot) in the 4 months that immediately follow that 12 mile swim race. So that is what I'm in for.  It's going to be an interesting summer. And I really will try to post more so you guys can follow along in my massive training for this crazy adventure. July and August will be the build phase to get me ready for the aerobic challenges in the fall.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Evil Princess

Our little Evil Genius turned 8 last week. In the last year, she has really grown into her own person. Yes she's still the picky eater and strong personality. But now she's discovered what she really does like, and not just developed a list of things she doesn't like (that's evil). Turns out, Frozen and Elsa are at the top of that list. So for her birthday party we told her she could have a few friends over to spend the night, and we found an Elsa to come over for a while!

She read them a story

brought a craft for the kids

Painted their faces

She also painted their fingernails

then stuck around for cupcakes and ice cream

What a fun Elsa!
The birthday party happened to be the night before I had to get up at 3:45 AM for Ironman Raleigh. Talk about a scheduling conflict.  We also had pizza and got to watch movies, and everyone had a really fun time.

Some of this

led directly to this

But there was a lot more of this

and everyone had a good time.

Kelley and I are both so proud of the girl our EG is growing into. Smart, funny, and passionate are the kinds of things that make us worry about this one, and make us happy.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Doesn't feel like

Well, it does feel like summertime now. Totally doesn't feel like the year is almost half over. The kids are out of school now, done with the 4th and 2nd grade. They both ended the school year with really good grades and are looking forward to a nice summer break. The end of May also shows a few numbers that surprised me:

Swim: 58,460 yards, 18 swims, 2 races
Bike: 54 miles, 4 rides
Run: 52 miles, 8 runs, 1 race
Strength: 4 times
Yoga: 14 times

The only running race was the Beer Mile. Swim races had the 2.4 mile Jordan Lake Open Water Challenge and the swim relay for Ironman Raleigh. But typically I will put 20k in the pool, maybe 30k in a really strong month. But over 58,000 yards? that is completely insane! You can tell I'm getting ready for that 12 mile Swim Around Charleston coming up in september. I'm trying to get in 4-6 RAM team practices per week, whereas 2 masters practices is all you really need for Ironman training. The biggest 7 day week I had in May started on memorial day where I put 5k in the pool, and finished with Ironman Raleigh on sunday as a 1.6 mile swim race. That week had a total of 21,960 yards and I was completely dead by the end of it. Funny part is, a 12 mile swim race is 21,120 yards. So my challenge through the summer is to take my biggest week of swimming ever and turn it into a one day event. This is going to be fun.

I got to run a bit more in May as well. Not the 100+ mile months that I so enjoyed last year, but that's the tradeoff for all of that pool time. I've tried to get at least a long run each weekend, and trying to get one other weekday run done as well. It's getting too hot to run much now, and I'm having shoe trouble to deal with too.

Things I'm loving has to include strength training! I've been hitting the gym hard, if not very often. But I'm doing heavy squats (finally got back to 315 lbs the other day!) and bench pressing numbers I haven't seen in a long time. Lifting heavy things has proven to be quite rewarding over the last few months.

May also contained the birthday of an Evil Genius (pics tomorrow) and visits from many people including my mother! Like I said, it was a great month all around.

Amazing fritatta with enough ghost peppers to choke a heat seeker

Ella in the trees

The only picture I got of Mom's visit

Memorial day goodness

Too cool for school

Last day of school pic!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ironman Raleigh 2015 Relay

Everybody loves hanging out with friends. Hanging out with new friends, doing something they've never done before is even better! Eric and Susan found me through a mutual friend. Originally Eric had another couple lined up to be the relay team, but they got called out on a cruise. So his wife Susan stepped up to run, and they recruited my friend Chelsea to swim. After Chelsea was sidelined by an injury this spring, she asked me to step up and take her place on the team. Of course I'll jump on any excuse to get into open water this year, so I eagerly started guiding the newbies into the wild world of multisport. Eric and Susan had never done a triathlon of any distance before, so Ironman Raleigh 70.3 was going to be their introduction!

Race morning started early. My alarm went off at 3:45, and before you know it I was sitting outside at 0:dark-thirty for them to come pick me up.
streetlights in the driveway
Around 4:30 Eric and Susan, along with Susan's parents Bob and Wendy came to pick me up and we headed downtown. Turns out, Susan's parents are absolutely fascinating people! I truly enjoyed getting to spend the entire day with them. The 5 of us made our way downtown, parked, and found the shuttle bus to get out to Vista Point. The sun came up during the bus ride, it was a beautiful sight.

Me, coffee, Susan, Eric in front

the dark crowded bus

Once we got there, it was a glorious sight. The lake was calm and beautiful, the sky was blue, the air was warm.

In the port-a-john line

Swim start is laid out.  Beautiful day.

Team 4 Cats is ready to go

We're all body marked but you can't see my digits
So after getting picked up at 4:30 am, the pro's hit the water at 7 am. Relay's go in the last swim wave at 8:24 am. I had to warm up a bit, put the sunscreen on, and wait through the line. That's when Eric snapped this piece of magic

It looks like I'm nude instead of swimming in a speedo. Also, Eric actually encouraged me to flex a bit for the camera. That should never happen. haa! Also they called the water at 79*, so no legal wetsuits.

I did hit the water eventually, and the entire swim was crowded. My goal time was to get under 32 minutes. I wore the garmin. At the start, I swam with my head up water-polo style to avoid getting kicked, and eventually settled into my stroke when I found some open water on the left side of the pack. I think the waves went off every 4 minutes, and by the time I hit the first turn I was passing people with other colored caps on.

The course was a broken rectangle. Go out, turn right, go for a long way, turn right again and get to shore. When I was on the top of the rectangle, the water was very choppy in that stretch. Don't really know why, the wind wasn't notably strong, maybe there was boat traffic. There was certainly a lot of human traffic! This stretch was really crowded. Lots of people stopping to sight even though we were still on course. Quite a few breast strokers out there. These were the slower swimmers from the earlier waves, and I noticed I was passing them like they were standing still. Plenty of people took an hour to get out of the water, more power to them, but I was grateful to the ones that stayed out of my way.

After I made the last turn the crowds opened up a bit more. Easier time finding clean water, and before I knew it I was tasting boat gas - the swim exit was in sight. Ran up the boat ramp and planted my foot in front of that Relay tent, but Eric was nowhere to be found! I called out for him, turned out that tent got really crowded and he was trapped in the back.

Eric eventually knifed his way through the other teams, grabbed the chip from my ankle and sprinted after his steed. I caught up with Susan's parents who were holding my swim bag and eventually caught my breath and got dressed again. Checking the garmin, it said I swam in 37:25, which was initially a disappointing time, but then it also said I swam 1.6 miles. Several other swimmers said the course felt long to them, and I thought my effort was good enough to get my sub-32 goal.  Turns out, 37:25 for a 1.2 mile course is a 1:58 pace per hundred meters (official race split stat), but for a 1.6 mile course it's only a 1:20 pace per hundred yards (my sprint goal time in the pool during regular practice). I was the 15th relay swimmer out of the water, out of 73 teams.

Post swim, somebody took all of these bikes out of T1

Holy crap I can't believe I was able to actually really hold that pace for that distance! Yes I've been crushing it in swim practice lately, and really putting the work in. But that still exceeds my expectations. What an amazing day! Even my swim coach told me in practice a few months ago that I could hold that pace for a mile in open water, but I didn't believe her. Lesson learned, trust your coach.

Logistically, now we had 4 people at Vista Point and one cyclist rapidly approaching downtown. Logistically, the buses couldn't take spectators down the road (closed to traffic) until the last biker turned onto hwy 64. So there was about 2000 people standing in the hot sun waiting to get on buses until about 10 am. Then we made the drive back downtown and arrived at 11 am. Eric's goal was to hit 18 mph and get into T2 right around noon.

Susan and I waiting in T2. She's ready to run!
Eric absolutely destroyed that bike course. The first 20 miles were fast, then the hills and heat hit him so he slowed down a bit. Still, in the end, this guy ended up with a 19.6 mph average, finishing in 2:52. Amazing speed for such a hard course on such a hot day. He really exceeded his own expectations as well. His was only the 6th bike to arrive in T2!

that is one dehydrated cyclist desperately seeking shade
So now Susan was out on the run course, and Eric and I eventually found her parents, got the bike loaded up into the car, and got some lunch. That pizza was incredible. Eric and I were tracking Susan on our phones, and she finished the first lap when we were still eating. But soon enough we timed it out and found our place at the finish line, waiting to see her come in.

Susan wrapped up our day with a 2:17 half marathon, and we finished 17th out of 73 relay teams.

Susan finishing up

post race eats

Eric, Susan and me with our finishers medals!
Overall, it was a wonderful and hot day to be around the Ironman event. These two got a nice introduction, and I think Susan is hooked now! She signed up for a Ramblin Rose the next day. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know such good friends, and we all ended up with some great race stories. I was very appreciative to be included in their race day.