Sunday, June 27, 2010

First Century of the Season

I completed my 100 mile training ride of the year yesterday! It was nice to get one of those under my belt with just 11 weeks until the ironman.

For awhile I thought the ride wasn't going to happen. The weather forecast for Saturday looked pretty grim. Storms rolled in the night before and when my alarm went off at 5:30 it was still pouring outside. I rolled over for a few extra hours of glorious sleep and when I awoke again at 7:00 the sun was out. A quick glance at the radar showed that the storms were out of the way and there were several hours of clear skies ahead.

I ate a quick breakfast and was on the road by 7:45. I was a little nervous for the ride since my quads were still pretty sore from Thursday's long run. I tried to ignore the negative thoughts and just enjoy myself.

It was fairly cool at the beginning of the ride but it didn't take long for things to heat up. I knew the temps were going to be breaking 90, hence my attempt at an early departure, but that was just another thing I tried to ignore.

The plan was to do two 50 mile loops, but ended up doing 60 for the first loop. I had plenty of nutrition and fluids and by adding that extra ten miles I wouldn't have to tackle one really big hill on the second loop again. I stopped by the apartment to refill the water bottles before heading out again. It was tempting to stop at that point in time because I was definitely feeling fatigued and the wind had picked up to 20 mph, which made the last 10 miles of my route miserable. I told myself to suck it up and headed back out.

I think it was at that point in time that I realized I had forgotten sunscreen. I now have a pretty hot looking two inch red stripe along both biceps since the jersey I wore had shorter sleeves than whichever one had previously given me my tan. The 40 mile loop was pretty uneventful. My legs were sore, my butt was sore, it had gotten HOT (I went through just as many fluids during the 40 miler as I did the first 60), the wind had her way with me, and by the end of the ride I was pretty much ready to be done. Official mileage was 100.72 miles done in a time of 5:24, which resulted in an average pace of 18.65 mph. Given the conditions I was happy with that, but there's still plenty of work to do before IMMOO.

The legs were pretty sore today so I had to give them a day off. It was unfortunate too because it was a lovely day out. I really need to recover so I can have some quality workouts this week. There's a lot to cram in before heading home for the 4th of July holiday where training time will be sparse.

During my free time today I managed to get a lot accomplished around the apartment, including filling up this little guy, which was a present from Santa Claus (aka mom):

I have to admit it feels a little weird having a shrine to myself in the living room, but the case does look a lot better with stuff in it. Of course, I forgot to leave room for my IM finisher's medal and race number so it will need to be reconfigured in a few months

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Recovery is an essential part of any triathlete's training regimen. Not just recovery from hard workouts, but recovery from tough races as well. I needed to recover properly from my last race in order to get in good, quality workouts for IM training. The HIM was about a week and a half ago and only today do I feel that I've fully recovered from it.

I once heard somewhere that you should take a day off for every hour on the race course. It seems like a good general guideline, but I've found in my own personal experience that it's not quite realistic. For instance, I do not require a full day's rest after a hard sprint, which would take roughly an hour. In fact, I often times tack on an extra workout later in the day.

That said, I know a hard HIM will take several days to recover from. I did take 3 full days off (which is about my tolerance for inactivity), and after that it was just some light swimming and biking. Neither of those workouts felt good so I knew I needed to continue to keep everything light and the intensity low.

This week I finally was able to add a little mileage and intensity to the rides and feel good during and after. I added interval training back to the swim and ripped off some of my fastest 100's ever today at the pool.

The only thing that seemed to be taking forever to come around was the running. Every time I hit the road my calves would start to hurt and I would cut the run short. I eeked out 4 miles on Tuesday and was getting a little discouraged. It was taking my legs as long to come around as they did after my last marathon. So tonight's run I set off and told myself to head home as soon as things started getting sore. Surprisingly, I got through a couple of loops at the park without any unusual pain so I decided to keep plugging along. I ended up going 15 miles, which is what the training plan was calling for. I started to wilt in the heat the final 4 miles or so (which is sad because it was only 80 and it's going to get much worse this summer), but all in all it felt as good as any long run I normally do (ie the last few miles suck!).

We'll see how the legs respond tomorrow. They get a day off since I only have a swim on the schedule. After that I'm toying with the idea of doing a century on Saturday. We'll see if the legs (and my ass) are ready for that too!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Liberty Half Ironman

This past weekend I traveled up to the twin cities to participate in the second biggest event of the my 2010 racing season. I was racing my one and only half ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) of the year, and after having finished in 5:01 and change the year before I had really set my sights on a sub 5 hr finish this year.

I got into town Friday night. Whoever came up with the idea to have packet pickup at the host hotel is a genius. The line was long when I got there so I checked in, went to my room and ate my subway sandwich, and came back later when things calmed down.

I haven't had good luck with quiet hotel stays and this was no exception. A few people were having quite the loud conversation out in the hall at 1 in the morning. Grrr!

I woke up early and mixed up a couple of bottle of gatorade endurance for the bike. Then I ate my bagel and peanut butter and had a banana followed by a Clif bar on the drive to the park.

I was glad I packed a sweatshirt because it was chilly in the morning. As I set up transition I wondered if I should have packed some arm warmers for the bike. Too late now I guess.

At 7:00 I met up with a bunch of the Minnesota BTers, which was nice because racing out of state I didn't know anyone. It's always nice to know a face or two along the way.

I threw on the wetsuit after that and thought I'd go test the water before the pre race meeting. Just a few hundred easy yards to get the arms moving. Afterward I proceeded to shiver my butt off waiting for things to get started.

The Swim:

I was nervous and excited waiting for the start. I had some pretty high expectations with this race, and it was going to start with shaving a few minutes off my swim time from last year. No pressure, right?

Things started off well. No more than your ordinary jostling for the first few hundred yards. After that I was able to comfortably fall into pace. I couldn't find anyone to draft off of so I just swam as well as I could.

It was a long haul out to the turnaround, especially after hitting the Olympic buoys. The distance between those and the half iron buoys seemed much greater than last year. Oh well, I kept the arms moving and rounded them pretty well.

The way back went well too. At one point I managed to catch the feet of a blue cap (wave after me) and draft off of her for several minutes before she finally dropped me for good. After that I just cruised into shore.

Overall it seemed like a solid effort and I felt like I held a steady pace throughout and wasn't gassed at the end.

Initially, running up to transition, I was a little upset at the time. I was hoping for 34 minutes, but now, after looking at the overall results I'm pleased. Top 20% overall is good for me and I even had the fastest swim split in my age group. I guarantee that never happens again.

Time: 35:02
Pace: 1:40 / 100 yds
AG Rank: 1/11
OA Rank: 47/235

T1: 1:24

This was a good T1. One of my better wetsuit exits this year. Time was the 11th fastest of the day

The Bike:

Self control was the name of the game here. The plan was to bike just a wee bit slower than last year in an effort to give my legs a chance to run. Now, it wasn't like I was just going to noodle along for 56 miles. I still hit it hard in spots, but not quite as hard as I could have.

The first thing I noticed was that I was cold. Yeah, those arm warmers would have been nice. The feet were cold too. I kept telling myself that at least it would be nice running weather later.

The second thing I noticed was how lonely the course was. I followed one guy out of transition, but didn't see anyone else for the first 8 miles or so. I didn't pass a whole lot of people during the whole ride and really was only passed a handful of times. At least the course was well marked and the volunteers were helpful so I always knew which way to go.

The nutrition plan was a simple one, but effective. 3 shot bloks every half hour with sips of GE and water in between.

I finished the first loop and checked my time. It was a little slower than I was hoping for so I decided to pick it up a little that second loop. I would probably describe the effort as comfortably hard, if that makes any sense.

At one point it tried to mist a little bit, which was only a little irritating. Thankfully the heavy stuff waited until I was off the bike. It looked like there was a pretty stiff wind out of the north too, but I don't think it affected me too much. The course is pretty protected with trees and hills, unlike Iowa where the flat, endless miles of cornfields offer no protection at all.

I got a little off the nutrition plan that second loop as I was starting to feel a little full and really didn't want to eat anymore. I did manage to down all of the GE I had so that was a good thing. Once I reached the Homestead hill for the second time I happy because that meant there was only 6 miles or so left!

That 3 mile out and back section was nice. Turns out there were other riders out on the course, not just the few that I had encountered the previous 50 miles. Soon enough I was winding back into the park and hopping off my bike.

My goal coming in was a 2:40 split and I pretty much hit that right on. Four minutes slower than last year, but planned that way.

Time: 2:40:23
Pace: 20.95 mph
AG Rank: 5/11
OA Rank: 46/235

T2: 0:52

I missed my foot with one of my shoes, but other than that it was speedy. 3rd fastest of the day. It helps going sockless on a HIM run. Maybe I need to learn how to put my shoes on, which is sad because I probably should have learned this about 25 years ago.

The Run:

Coming out of transition and heading down that first hill I was surprised at how good my legs felt. Last year they were screaming at me immediately. That was a good sign.

My race number was rubbing annoyingly on my leg so I wrestled with it trying to get it in a better position. In the process I knocked one corner out of the clip so as I was running up the treacherous woodchip trail I was trying to get it clipped back in. Eventually I had to come to a complete stop because my fingers weren't working. Not sure if it was the stop mid-climb or my relatively fresh feeling legs, but that climb was so much easier than last year.

After that I settled into as steady of a pace as I could, considering all the mico climbs and descents on the course. Seriously, no real flat sections so to speak of, but no deadly climbs either. I just kept the legs moving, enjoying how good I felt.

After the first few miles I couldn't help but check my watch to see how things were going. At that point I had two thoughts: Wow, you are killing this run and please don't blow up later. My stomach still wasn't real happy, but I managed to take in Heed and water, and a couple of gels later on.

I passed a few people along the way and there was a couple of guys that just flew past me, including the second and third place guys in my age group. The final couple miles out to the turnaround I had a heck of a time catching up to a woman ahead of me. As I really narrowed the gap I remember thinking how it wouldn't be such a bad thing to hang out back here, but I had a pace to keep. It was funny the number guys running back that encouraged me to go "catch that." I finally did just before the turnaround. Bye, bye pace booty.

I took another look at the time. Sweet merciful crap! I've got 56 minutes to make it back and still break 5 hours! Hot diggity dog!

No sense lolly-gagging on the way back. I continued to push the pace. Mist turned into a steady rain and the wet shoes started to give way to a couple of hot spots on my feet. The risk of running sockless I guess. It was nothing too debilitating though, and I plodded ahead.

With just 3 miles to go, I could feel the legs starting to tighten up a little. I had to increase the effort level to keep the pace up, but with just a 5k to go I knew I could get away with pushing a little harder. The goal now was to see how far under 5 hours I could go.

With less than a mile to go I heard footsteps coming up behind. No way I'm getting passed this close to the end. I picked it up. Quite a bit actually. I came dangerously close to taking a header down the woodchip trail, slipping in the mud.

At the bottom the trail straightens out for the last few hundred yards to the finish line. I was surprised to see that the woman I had passed 6 miles ago pull up alongside me. Of course I did what any male would do in my situation, that is speed up. And not just speed up, I was pretty much sprinting, and there was still a long way to go to the finish line. She matched me stride for stride too. I'd surge ahead, then she would, and back and forth. All the while the crowds along the way were going nuts and cheering us on pretty loudly. After 70.1 or .2 miles of racing we still had enough to burn it into the finish.

I edged her out at the finish and she was a good sport about it, sharing a laugh with me afterward. I told her I really didn't need to be doing that at the end of the race. I thought she was the overall women's winner but it turns out she was part of a relay. Either way I congratulated her and then headed out in search of food. What a fun finish to a great race.

Words can't explain how pleased I was with this run. 12 minutes faster than last year and less than 2 minutes off my stand alone half marathon PR. That's a tough run course too. Hardly any spectators so it's just you against your mind for 13.1 miles. It was nice to finally have a HIM run that lived up to my potential.

Time: 1:33:30
Pace: 7:08 / mile
AG rank: 3/11
OA rank: 23/235

Once I stopped moving and the rain really started in I was freezing. Made the executive decision to get my stuff out of transition before attacking the post race food. It absolutely downpoured as I grabbed my stuff out of there and I was shivering the whole time. I actually sat in my car for about 15 minutes before the rain let up. Then I went and hunted down the post-race food.

Final stretch put on a top-notch race. The volunteers were fantastic. As I approached the run aid stations they would yell out ahead asking if I wanted HEED or water. You don't get that kind of service at larger races where the aid stations are overrun with runners. I never thought I'd come back for a second time, but this was really the only HIM that worked out with my schedule this year. At least I know if I come back a third time I'll be well taken care of.

Final Time: 4:51:08
AG Rank: 4/11 (missed 3rd by just 2 minutes!)
OA Rank: 31/235

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nervous Energy

So, I'm sitting in my hotel room on the eve of my one and only HIM and I am full of nervous energy. Maybe nervous energy is not the correct term. I have some high expectations for the race tomorrow, but I'm not worried about it. I'm just really, really excited.

I tried doing some reading but after a page or two my mind would start wandering and soon enough I'd start visualizing the race tomorrow. Now visualizing is a good thing. I've thoroughly gone through each of the 3 sports and execution of my race strategy for each, including transitions. I have a strategy and I think the nutritional plan is solid as well. At least it looks like it's going to work perfectly in my mind :p

At this point I wish my mind would just quiet down a little. You know, shut down for a few hours so I can get some sleep.

Race weather is looking just about as nice as one can hope. The temps will be in the low 60s to start and won't get above 70 all morning. Overcast sky, and some wind, which may get interesting, but really I'll take it. I wouldn't call it optimal for a PR attempt, but darn close.

Last year I did the course in 5:01:46. This year I'd like to break 5 hours and I think that's a distinct possibility. Just for the heck of it I'm going to pull out the ole crystal ball and predict my splits.

Swim: 34:00
T1: 2:00
Bike: 2:40:00
T2: 1:00
Run: 1:40:00
Total: 4:57:00

That seems pretty reasonable, I think. Now, I just have to make sure that I don't place too much undue pressure on myself. The number one goal still remains to enjoy myself while I'm out there. I'm pretty sure I'll be smiling plenty if I put up those times :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pigman Sprint Triathlon

Sunday was my third race of the season, a sprint tri held in the little town of Palo, IA. I was feeling a little more rested for this race than the last one due to the HIM taper starting to cut back on my training volume. I ended up finishing with 500m swim/15.5 mile bike/5k run with a pretty good time, 1:14:25, which was good enough for 29th/657 overall and 5th/39 in my age group. Plus I shaved 45 seconds off my time on the same course last year! Here's a little glimpse inside my mind:


Beep! Beep! Beep! Is that my alarm clock? Yes it is. Is it really 3:15? Yes it is. Frick!

Out of bed, clothes on. Bagel, toaster, PB, nanner. Yum. Out the door by 3:45.

It's dark. There's no one on the road. All the sane people are sleeping right now. In my younger days I might still be awake on an all night bender. Getting sleepy. Open the windows, crank the tunes, headbang a little. Deer!!! That'll wake you up.

Where are you sending me GPS lady? I think I remember how to get there. I'll trust my gut on this one. GPS off.

Okay, I'm 15 minutes early but people are showing up. How about the packet pick-up tent? Yes! Open for business. Put another piggy shirt in the closet. Race number is 232...hey that's a palindrome.

Tires pumped. Where's a nice lady with a marker? She must be new, asks if numbers are vertical or horizontal. Must. Refrain. From. Quoting. Tommy Boy. Top to bottom, left to right... a group of words together is called a sentence. Take Tylenol for any headaches... Midol for any cramps. Wow, they are really marking every limb this year.

Let's find a spot in transition. As close to the bike exit as possible. That'll work. Chat. Drink. Wetsuit half on. Mosey on down to the beach.


The elites are off! Man, they are fast. Fast swimmers make me jealous. This tri thing would be a whole lot easier if I was a fast swimmer.

30 minutes till my wave start, but in reality probably closer to 45 minutes. I'm in wave 8 and the time trial start is ALWAYS late. Might as well hop in the water and swim a little. That's a toasty 75 degrees. Good thing I went with the sleeveless wetsuit. 10 minutes and I'm out. Now to play the waiting game.

The wind has picked up because the buoys are curving now. Hmmm, note to self: follow them on the way out, beeline for the swim exit on the way back.

Hey, that swimmer just got attacked by a duck! Should I laugh? Yeah that's funny, haha.

Line's getting shorter. It's go time!

The Swim

I'm the 3rd one in my wave to go. Runnnnn! High knees! High knees! Dolphin dive! Swim!

See you two guys later. Arms are moving, breathing is good. Take a right around this girl. Straighten out. Left around this one. Now in the middle of these two backstrokers.

Wow, I am cruising by a lot of people. Is this what it feels like to be a swimmer? Watch out! More dodging. That's the buoy rope. Can I get by one more. Is that chop? Is it wavy? Must be. Dang wind.

Keep pushing. Hard to with all the traffic. Round the bouy. Halfway there! The smell of boat fumes under water is going to make me vomit. That would be gross.

First green cap (my wave) is trying to pass me. Quick, grab his feet! Can't, there's a girl in the way. Zig. Zag. Cripes am I swimming or playing frogger?

Just a little further. Kick it in. People are standing up around me. Should I stand up too? No, wait for your hand to hit the sand. There it is, get up! Cap, goggles off. Run it in

Hear the announcer say something along the lines of, "and our first green caps are out of the water." I'm at the front of my wave! Thank you time trial start.

Pace: 1:35 / 100 yds
OA Rank: 88/657
AG Rank: 11/39

T1: 2:00

The legs don't like to move after a swim. We're racing legs, in case you hadn't heard. Go! Go!

It's a long transition area. Where's my bike? Wait for it....wait for it...there it is!

The wetsuit pops right off. That's so mush easier than my full suit. Shoes and helmet on, grab bike. Clip, clop, clip, clop to the mount line

The Bike

Pedal, pedal, here we go. Can't hammer yet, gotta negotiate traffic out for awhile. Runners (yes, there are people on the run course already. Depressing.), spectators, bikers, CARS, and a partridge in a pear tree.

There's an opening. On the left! Let's roll. Heading south now. Which way is the wind out of? Feels like a crossie, but might be kinda at my back. Oh well, enjoy it while I can.

On the left! Pass, pass, pass. Does anyone look before they start to pass. I'm getting dangerously close to the yellow line and I'm tired of yelling.

Ooh, it's the loop through Palo. Hello, Palo. Yikes! Ambulance and stretcher, that can't be good. Goodbye Palo.

Heading north again. That minivan better get a move on or I am going to have some road rage. Good, he's turning right. Good riddance. Will they ever shut down these roads for this race. They should. They won't.

Up the hill. Should I get out of the saddle? Why not, it's a sprint. Mash away my friend. And down the other side. Woooooooo!!! Why aren't you people pedaling? Don't you want to see how fast you can go? I do. Hammer, hammer.

I'm getting close to the turn around now. 180, I hate 180s, and back in business. Nice volunteers pointing out ginormous potholes. "Thanks!"

Aaack! That guy just passed me! What's the calf say? 31? Okay, but still, push it back up the hill. Back to the park, almost there. Steep hill, watch out, make the turn. Okay uphill to the end. Traffic's getting dicey. Lots of runners, lots of cars. Someone's gonna die.

Let's the get the feet out of the shoes and spin it on in. Did that chick just repass me in the last 50 feet??!! Oh! And she biffed it at the dismount line! That's gonna leave a mark. Volunteer is helping her so hop off and run it in.....and try not to laugh.

Time: 41:58
Pace: 22.2 mph
OA Rank: 29/657
AG Rank: 3/39

T2: 0:55

Zooooooom! Rack the bike. Look at all those empty racks in my section. Sweet! Shoes on, grab stuff and go!

The Run

Legs feel thick. Shorten the stride. Focus on turnover. Hit the turnover, the pace will come.

Mostly downhill the first mile. That's gonna suck coming back. Why is my breathing out of control? Settle.

Have I mentioned how much of a cluster@%*& the park is? Cars going both ways, bike coming in, runners heading both ways. Lots of weaving. Gotta be nimble while running. I'm about as graceful as a bull in a china shop.

I'm going to pass this car on the left, no room on the right. Do I say on your left to a car? Wow, that bike almost clipped me. Would've too if it weren't for my graceful nimbleness.

Hey, aid station! Not thirsty, but the water is cold on the head. Refreshing! Okay, can't be too far from the turn around. Yep, there it is ahead. Woot!

Homestretch now, gotta turn on the afterburners. There's the aid station again. I'll take a sip this time, but the rest is going on my head again. Now, run! Heard some lady yell, "Go 232! Look at that runner goooo!!!!" Thanks for the smile.

Ow, ow, ow. Can I hold this pace? You better, Sally. This hill hurts. Do I look like death like these other runners? There's the last turn. Balls out now. There's trained medical staff at the finish, right?

Sprint, sprint! Go, go! Done!

Time: 20:55
Pace: 6:44 / mile
OA rank: 41/657
AG rank: 7/39


Let's grab a water and walk a little. There's the food tent. Pizza, strawberries, cookies! Yum!

Let's check the results. 45 seconds faster than last year! Nice OA place, stupid fast AGers. But they're giving hardware out 5th place in my age group so I'll take it.

Waited around for awards and talked to fellow BTer Eric (ersynder3654) who kicked my butt for the 2nd straight race. Grabbed my ceramic pig and left. This race has the best hardware!