Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On The Eigth Day

I blogged, and it was good...

I rolled off the Fall Creek Falls Olympic into my heaviest training week of the year. Invariably, if you don't tell Liz that such and such is an "A" race, you train right through it. She's really good at keeping the eye on the prize. Your prize. Your goals.

With soccer season in full swing, I have/had three weekends of soccer tournaments in a row, all of which, I am reffing. I needed to move my training schedule around to accommodate a weekend in Auburn, Alabama. Necessity found me back in the pool Monday night. It wasn't so bad. Swimming three days in a row was tiring, but my body handled it. I followed this up with an easy recovery ride on Tuesday, and a short run on Wednesday, in preparation for my half-epic bike training ride on Thursday.

The plan called for four hours. I jiggled some stuff around at work, which allowed me to come in at noon. I hit the road at 7 AM sharp. Pulled my twenty minute intervals with ten minutes rest, and after the second one, found myself 37 miles from home. Not worry, I thought. (can you hear me laughing?) On the way back, my body slowly disintegrated, until at mile 17, I was an amorphous blob of toast. Somehow, I found the energy to finish those last 17 miles. There's only one way to get home, right? I felt sick to my stomach driving home, and wondered if I would make it alive. I did, and it took a full two hours of drinking and eating before I felt normal again.

Friday, I was back in the pool for a long endurance type swim. The pool always feels wonderful on my legs. Then, it was off to Auburn for the tournament. I actually drove down Saturday morning. I stayed at the fields all day and got in a good bit of running. There was a day, long long ago, where I would have worked out on top of my referee-ing. Not so much anymore. After two days of reffing, my legs were really hurting.

Busy, busy, busy... Leading into a recovery week... Booyah! Leading into another soccer tournament (I only have four games all weekend, and most of those are the younger kids).

Good luck to all my peeps racing Iron this weekend! I'll be watching.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Destination Tennessee!

A Fall Creek Falls Olympic Race Report

Bear with me, my friends... I had such a great time at this race. I'm liable to spew forth a rather lenghthy detailed race report :-D

When I signed up for this race some months ago, Dee Dee's employment situation was in flux. She had a job, but she hated it. I didn't know if she was going to be able to make the trip with me or not. One thing led to another. Dee Dee quit that job and found a temporary position, even as she explores other, more promising, challenges. The net result... She could make the trip to Tennessee with me for the race.

Fall Creek Falls is located about an hour or so north of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the middle of no wheres, and this is a good thing. It's beautiful. I got up early Saturday morning for my open water swim. I met the Concourse Tri Club at Red Top Mountain and swam for about thirty five minutes. The turn out was good, and it was really nice having the opportunity to swim with other triathletes. I hustled home and picked up Dee Dee before heading over to watch Jimmy's scrimmage at the high school. He is playing football (and soccer) for the second time in his life. They have him starting as a running back and outside line backer. My son! {pumps chest} Dee Dee and I enjoyed watching Jimmy's intra squad scrimmage. He had over 100 combined yards for the day. Not to shabby for a second timer.

We drove back to the house and packed up the car for our trip north. I had had Aerowyn tuned up prior to the trip. I was basically taking the clothes on my back, while Dee Dee had a small bag. By 1:30 PM, we were on the road. The trip up was enjoyable. Once we passed through Chattanooga, we were on the bike route for the Oly distance tri they have there each year. I enjoyed showing Dee Dee all the big hills on this bike course. Once north of Chattanooga, we split off onto Hwy 111 and traveled last thirty miles or so to Fall Creek Falls State Park. With the help of our GPS, we had no problems locating the race site. Since we arrived about an hour early, we wandered down to the docks to look at the swim site.

Evidently, they don't allow people to swim in this lake. The first thing Dee Dee says is, "What's that smell?" LOL... I had no idea, and since I can't smell anything anyways, I wasn't worried about it. It looked like a typical lake, rather pretty. The buoys were already out, and it didn't look all that difficult. You could see the entire swim course from the docks. I was just curious to see how far it was from the docks back to transition. I knew it was going to affect my time, and I wanted to know so I "knew" what to expect time wise. The odometer on my car said it was about 0.25 miles, which meant about and extra 3-4 minutes in transition for me.

Back at transition, Dee Dee and I checked with registration and was able to get my race packet early. That was very nice of them and very cool. It allowed us to head up to the falls to see the sights. Fall Creek Fall was spectacular. It reminded me so much of the waterfalls that we saw in Hawaii.

Dee Dee didn't think it was such a good idea, but I wanted to hike down to the bottom of the falls. I told her that we could do "just this one", and as long as we took it easy, I would be fine. The hike down was quite the challenge. Sure footing was a necessity! At times, we just weren't sure which way was best, but we managed. The view from the bottom of the falls was spectacular too! We asked a nice young couple there to take our picture.

It looks like we are standing in the falls, but they are actually over 100 yards away. I climbed down to the pool to soak my legs. The water was cold, not as cold as Hawaii, but refreshing none the less. The footing in the pool was treacherous, and I had to use all my skillz to keep myself from falling and going under.

Physically, the return climb was more challenging, although it was easier to find our way up then it was down. Even though I took my time, I was definitely feeling it in my quads by the time we reached the landing. Dee Dee and I took off in the car on the rest of the circuit. We went to the top of a ravine where buzzards supposedly fly by, and we saw another fall, although we didn't try to climd down to the base of that one. By the end of the day, I was getting hungry and tired. I thought it best to knock it off and get back to the hotel.

Originally, I had intended to come to the hotel first, then got to packet pick up in the morning. With Dee Dee along, it got reversed. We mixed a little sight seeing with our race prep. We plugged the coordinates of the hotel into the GPS and took off for Dayton, TN. Several times, the GPS tried to send us down dirt roads and roads that had a dead end. After getting frustrated, I went back the way we came and turned a 35 mile trip into a 51 mile trip. At least I didn't get lost. We made it to the hotel by 8:15 PM or so, got checked in, then went in search of food. The only Italian place in town, besides a Pizza Hut, was a Mexican-Italian place down the road. We passed it on the way by, but mananged to track it down.

Wouldn't you know, we were in luck. It was karaoke night. I don't know if you've ever heard country folk sing karaoke, but let me tell you. It was interesting. Good news was, the food was actually pretty good. We snacked on chips and salsa, then for desert, we had calzones. It hit the spot. We went back to the hotel room and watched TV for about an hour before lights out.

As usual, I slept OK. Not great. Just OK. With the hours difference, I was able to sleep in until 5:45 AM. We packed up in a hurry and got on the road. We were taking Hwy 30 back to the park. This was a bit different than the original route. Going through the mountains and the valleys on a little two lane road was quite an experience. Of course, there was no traffic at the butt crack of dawn on a Sunday, so no worries there. The GPS only led us astray once, but that's what I get for not buying a subscription to the maps.

We got to the park just after 6 AM local time. We scored a primo parking spot, and I got setup and body marked in short order. I spent the rest of the time chatting with Dee Dee and walking back and forth to check on my transition spot. Nobody messed with my stuff. LOL... While the race director made the pre-race briefing, I put on sun screen. Yes, I am getting smart in my old age. After the announcements were over, we made our way down to the dock for the swim start. The first wave of young bucks got into the water. The second wave gathered by the dock, and my wave behind them. The RD made a few more brief announcements, then the horn sounded and the race got under way.

As the second wave got into the water, I made my way to the front of our group. I wanted to get a cushy spot hanging onto the dock at the front. The horn sounded again, and I jumped non-chalantly into the water and made my way to the dock. One guy beat me there, and I saw another guy struggling to get to there as well. I made room in front of me so he could hang on. When the RD announced one minute to our start time, the middle guy moved to the front of the line. That put me in second. The alarm sounded for the third time, and we were off.

I followed the lead guy out around the dock and made my way to the right for some instant open water. I quickly found myself all alone and settled into my rythm. I'm cruising along thinking, wow! I love to swim :-) Then, I start to get short of breath, and I can feel the effects of being sick. I'm struggling to stay outside but not drift too far to the right. When I breath on my right side only during races, I tend to drift to the right. By the time I reached the first turn buoy, I'm cussing, sh!*, I got to swim 1500 meters.

What was needed here was a "big boy" talk. I knew swimming 1500 meters was no problem for me, even if I did swim 2000 meters the day before. My arms weren't really tired at all. I just needed a quick talking to in order to get back on track. Don't be fooled though. This was the furthest open water swim I had ever done without a wet suit and/or a swimsafe belt.

Once I made the first turn, I tried harder to swim to the inside and stay on track with the buoys. I always have slow swim times when I let myself stray too far outside. Of course, the problem with being on the inside is more traffic. I started to pass through the meat of the wave in front of me. Passing people and dodging breast strokers takes more energy, and I do not like it. Buttttt... It's a necessary evil.

The waves started to hit me in the face as I turned down the back stretch. Several times, I swallowed a mouth full of lake water, to keep myself hydrated of course. This caused the gunky stuff in my nose to kick off my gag reflex, and I had to pause. Once I cleared the mess, it was heads down and more swimming. About half way down the back stretch, I got chicked. I love being chicked, because they are fine athletes. I tried to latch onto her feet to no avail. Evidently, I still suck at drafting.

I made the left hand turn back to the dock, and I'm working hard. About half way, I pick up a swimmer on my left side. He is matching me stroke for stroke. I ignore him and keep my pace steady. After a couple of minutes of this, he falls off, and I am once again alone. I peek my head out of the water and see that the doc is getting closer. Within twenty yards of the dock, I find the muddy bottom and come to my feet. I thrash my way to the carpet and climb the boat ramp. Off to the left, I see Dee Dee working her magic with the camera.

Up ahead and to the right is the shoe drop off. I put my shoes underneath a tree and went right to them. I slipped them onto my feet without any clumsiness and began the slow, up hill jog back to transition. I alternated walking and jogging until I caught me breath, then broke into a steady jog. I ran into transition and made a right at the garbage can, just like Dee Dee said and found my bike. I slipped no my watch and HRM, my race belt and helmet. I slid my tri shoes on and walked out of transition on the grass. I didn't hear the beep of the timing mat when I went across. I thought maybe it was broken and we would not be getting any transition times. I was wrong. At the street, I mounted Aerowyn, pressed start on my watch, and started peddling.

The bike route made a left out of transition, followed quickly by short right, then another quick right onto the main road. The nice thing about this section is that it was downhill. It made for an easy recovery after the swim. I looked down at my watch. My heart rate was up near 160. I settled into a slow easy spin and waited for it to come down.

After the short down hill, the rolling hills began. The further I got out on the course, the more and more it seemed to be going up hill. I didn't mind. I felt strong, and I was, quite frankly, looking forward to the downhill on the way back. Once my heart rate settled, I tried to keep it in the 150 to 156 range. This roughly corresponds to the top of Zone 3/bottom of Zone 4. So, zone 3 or on the down hills and straight aways, and Zone 4 climbing the hills. It worked like a charm.

It was roughly nine miles down Hwy 284 to the water tower. We made a right there, and it was mostly downhill for the next three miles to the turn around. It was here that I was chased by a furry wiener dog. I almost busted a gut laughing. He gave up after twenty feet or so. Evidently, the second place triathlete was not so lucky. He was doing 25+ mph coming down a hill when a dog ran out in front of him. The poor guy was upended from his bike, ripped his tri outfit to shreds, and left him with some serious road rash on his shoulder and down his back. He was going to be OK. The dog was killed, as was the bike. This was totally not cool!!

On this stretch of road, I saw the first place triathlete pass me going in the other direction. I made the turn around and took my first gel. My hydration and nutrtion was very sloppy this race. I only drank one 20 oz bottle of electrolyte water and one gel on the bike. I should have easily doubled this amount. On the way back, the downhills never really materialized. There were long stretches of downhill where I really managed to pick up some steam, but almost always, there was another up hill to tackle. I played leap frog with some guy riding a blue Cannondale. I would pass him on the down hills and straight aways. He would pass me on the up hills. Funny though, he didn't look like he was working as hard as I was.

The sign to the park indicated that the ride was almost over. There was a nice down hill stretch then back up the hill to transition. I saw Dee Dee there again, doing her thang... After the left and the second quick left, I managed to get out of my shoes before reaching the dismount line. I crossed the timing mat and ran my bike into transition. T2 was definitely a lot faster then T1. No quarter mile jog of which to speak :-) I was in and out of there in a little over a minute.

Right outside the transition area, I darted into a port-a-potty. I wasn't sure if my tummy was acting up or not. I decided not to take a chance. Fortunately for me, I was fine. I was in and out of there in a jiffy.

The run exit out of transition was downhill to a left hand turn, then downhill to the dam. Dee Dee was waiting for me at the left hand turn, and I blew her a kiss to thank her for being there.

The run across the dam was entirely in the sun light. This was just about the only spot on the entire run that was totally exposed. After crossing the dam, we made a right hand turn onto a bike trail that took us through the woods. The first part of this section was down hill, then the rolling parts began. The short up hills really sapped my strength, and I felt it. I walked the up hills a lot more than I wanted to. It made me realize just how much I need to work on my mental strength.

I took Gatorade and/or water at every aid station. They had five(!!) aid stations on the course, and it was awesome. At the three mile mark, I took my gel on the run. I was delighted to see a long downhill section here, and I picked up my pace. At the bottom of the hill, we made a left hand turn behind the hotel and onto a trail along the lake. The cool wind blowing off the lake here was just awesome. I lurved it. I was pretty much running by myself now, but I could see a few people up ahead in the distance. I started to chase them down.

The first guy, I passed near the four mile aid station. The second guy, I passed near the five mile marker. I took some personal satisfaction in this. Not only was he ten years younger than I was, but he was the guy I had played leap frog with on the bike! hahahaha!

This particular trail ended at the base of the dam. I ran up onto the dam and made the right hand turn back towards transition. I knew that once I crossed the dam, it was uphill back to the finish line. Half way across, I met up with a tri-chica going in the other direction. I clapped for her, gave her a high five, and told her she looked great. That won me a smile.

The up hill proved challenging, and I felt a cramp coming on in my right thigh and right hamstring. I kept hoping and praying and fighting to keep them at bay. I reached the shade at the top of the hill and made the right hand turn towards the finish line. My right quad chose this moment to start seizing up, and I grimaced. I had to keep my leg partially straight as I ran back to the transition area. I wondered what the spectators thought of me. At last, I made the final right hand turn. I was a bit out of it though. I was running down the wrong set of cones, back into the transition area. I smiled and hopped into the correct lane. I was able to pick up the pace, but opted not to sprint as I usually do. My leg held together, and I was entirely pleased to see 2:57:?? on the clock. I crossed the finish line with a smile. I forgot to raise my arms in victory, but I was happy.

This time the cramps hit me hard. I walked about ten yards before I doubled over in pain. Dee Dee was right there with a bottle of water and a cold towel. I wrapped the cold tower around my thigh. In a few minutes, I felt well enough to begin the process of walking it off. I found my way to the hoses and managed to clean myself. The water was so cold but oh so refreshing. It was nice to wash the sweat, grime, and lake water off of my body.

My legs recovered quickly. Dee Dee and I got into line for the post race food. They had a nice cook out for the athletes and spectators. I ate a hot dog, potato salad, a banana, some grapes, and a pickle. Let's not forget the pickle. We sat in the shade together, enjoying the experience of not having to rush off and leave. After an hour or so, we packed the car and began the short trip back to Atlanta.

On the way home, I had Dee Dee text coach and tell her that this was my best Olympic race ever. When she asked me what my time was, I responded.

Does it matter?

Of course, I care about my time, but in the grand scheme of things, it didn't really matter. It was my best Olympic race ever, and I loved every minute of it. My official times were as follows:

Swim: 25:45 (1:43/100M)
T1: 5:15
Bike: 1:16:47 (18.52 mph avg)
T2: 1:23
Run: 1:02:43 (about 10 min pace)

Total: 2:51:50

This was a hair's breadth from an Olympic PR for me, on a much tougher course. Without the long run into T1, I know I would have PRed easy. That thought alone is enough.

Now, it's time to focus. Augusta 70.3 is on the horizon.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Han't a Clue

At first, I thought it was a cold, while secretly hoping it was a bad case of reflux. It's kind of hard to tell when you dayum nose runs and sabotages your body on a daily basis. After a couple of days, it became apparent it was worse. I had the whine flu. Maybe the swine flu?! I dunno. I didn't go to the doctor.

After Sunday, and Monday, AND TUESDAY off, I ran Wednesday and then biked for twenty minutes. My body enjoyed the endorphins. It might have even helped. Thursday, I woke up feeling groggy, head not quite pounding, and enjoyed working from home. By the end of the day, I was feeling well enough to do my 45 minute bike and 15 minute run off. I even rode in the rain. It was nice and cool.

Today? I am feeling better. Almost human. My nose is doing its thing. My head is mostly clear. That means... The RACE IS ON :-)


Dee Dee and I are headed to the Fall Creek Falls Olympic on Saturday (the race is Sunday). I'm still not sure if I am going to officially "race" it. We'll just have to wait and see how I feel Sunday morning.

Which brings us to the topic of today's post...

I was reading Alan Couzen's blog about what it takes to be a top age group triathlete. He said it takes thousands and thousands of hours to be a sub-15 hour Ironman, and the earlier you start, the better. He also said that it takes years and years to improve one's performance across the spectrum of Ironman training, in order to achieve that coveted sub-11 and sub-10 hour Ironman finishes.

This is a generality. I know that. I probably trained fewer than 500 hours for Ironman Florida, and certainly fewer than 1500 hours over my lifetime of triathlon. Yet, I turned in a sub-14 hour Ironman on my first attempt.

You have no idea how good a sub-14 hour Ironman is...

My coach told me this after I crossed the line, but it is only now that I am beginning to understand. We reach a point in our training where progress is no longer measured in leaps and bounds. As Jen Harrison said, "It takes a long time. This whole thing is a process." It takes committment, and patience, and a love and passion for what you are doing.

I kinda snuck this race in on coach. I thought we had discussed it, but evidently, I left her out of the loop. With me being sick and all, I don't really feel the need for an organized race plan. I think I am going to focus on a few things.

1. The technical aspects (good form, no dead spots, etc)
2. Negative splitting each discipline
3. Having fun

With the last one being the most important of them all. Life is hard enough. It's just a whole lot harder if you never have any fun, ya know?

Have a great weekend, everybody!! I'll see you on Monday.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Magic Mile

Jeff Galloway has this thing he calls the "Magic Mile". From this time, he can accurately guesstimate what you would run another given distance in. The calculator over at McMillan's web site uses the same principles. It's just a little more sophisticated. Key in your time for a known distance, and not only does the calculator estimate all given race distances, it suggests paces for different run times and different lengths, even speed and tempo work.

Evidently, in endurance circles, it is customary to throw in some all out efforts during rest week to see where one "is at". I was on to coach. She's not foolin me... LOL... She snuck in 10x100 all out every 3 minutes, rather than a 10x100 time trial. A rose by any other name... What we were really excited for though was the weekend run test. I got to go to the track, warm up, then do an all out mile, a magic mile. I don't know if you'd noticed or not, but I've been sandbagging my ref tests for the last couple of years. I hadn't tried an all out mile in over three years. This did sound like fun.

With rest week in full force, it felt like a taper. I even slept like crap the night before AND got up at 5:30 AM in the morning. I needed to make it to a referee class by 9 AM, and I just didn't want to do this test in the heat of the afternoon. Boling Park was still dark as I pulled in the parking lot. The gravel path was lit up by lights, which surprised me a little, as there was a rodeo in town. The hum of the generators added an earie quality to the dawn. I parked my car by the baseball field and hiked up the hill to the track. I didn't really want to start in the dark, but I also wanted to get to my class on time.

I started running around the track in the darkness. I do my best to follow coach's advice, especially when it invovles walking :-) I warmed up easy, reigning myself in several times when my pace dropped below 9 minute miles. The bleachers I remembered from last time where still there at the end of the back straight away, covering up lanes 3-6. As daylight approached, I watched a few other runners pull into the park, although none of them joined me on the track. No one would be there to witness my pain, this day.

During the last four minutes of my warm up, I ran back to the gravel trail to hit up the port-a-potty. That's what a race mentality does to you. You have to think fast to go fast, and it scares the crap right out of you. Either you take this stuff serzly, or you don't, and if you don't, then you just might as well stay in bed. I jogged back up to the track and mentally steeled myself for what was to come. Next up on the agenda was 5x(50m hard, 50m easy). I made the mistake of glancing down at my Garmin during one of the sprints. "Good Lord", I thought to myself. To hit my dream time, I would have to maintain that pace for a mile. I timed it so that I could walk the back straight away to the bleachers and the starting line. In the blink of an eye, the sky turned from slightly dark, to slightly lightened.

On my left wrist, I reset the screen on my Garmin. All I wanted to see was time and average pace. On my right wrist, I set the Forerunner 50 to time only. Time would prove that neither mattered. With a sigh, I pressed start on the Forerunner, then the Garmin, and shot off the line around the first turn. The rush of adrenaline hit me and I felt like I was flying. My breathing was strong, my pace was strong. This was living.

Around the second turn, the reality of what I was doing settled in and I found my steady pace. My breathing was labored. I passed my starting point and made the turn before I remember to check my pace. The Garmin said 1:40. Holy crap, that was too fast, a 6:40 pace or something like that. As I turned down the front straight away, my nose decided to gunk up air intake, and I perceptably slowed down. My body so wanted to stop, to clear out the foul evil junk in my wind pipe, and walk a little. My mind almost gave in, but I fought it off. I cleared my throat and picked back up the pace. As I rounded turn two, I thought to myself, "I am not going to die. Work harder."

Lap three was an act of perseverance. I could feel my form breaking down, and when that happens, you slow down. I fought hard to keep good form, trusting that my body would carry me through. All I wanted to do was get through that third lap, cause I could do ANYTHING for 400 meters. As I passed the starting point, my body was screaming at me, but I would not let it stop. Around the turn, down the straight away, I went. I looked at my watch. I had 40 seconds to go 200 meters to come in under 7 minutes. (This is actually part of the referee test, and I can do 35 seconds or so when I'm fresh). I tried to push harder, but it just wasn't happening. I could feel my body giving up as I rounded that last turn, and my body slowed down of its own volition. This was not acceptable. I demanded my body pick up the pace, to finish strong, and I sprinted the last 40 meters to the finish line, and damn near collapsed.

Beeeeeeeep, went the Garmin, 7:19. It was spot on.

I reached down and pressed stop on the Forerunner 50. Coach wanted an accurate HR reading, and so did I. I walked about 200 meters before settling into an easy jog. By the time I had gone around the track once, it was like I had never even run a mile. My legs are so strong these days. I cut the cool down short by 5 minutes so I could leave early. When I got home, I loaded the data from my Garmin and the Forerunner into Training Center. My heart rate started at 137 and did nothing but climb until it reached 183 by the end of the run. It fluctuated a few times by one heart beat, but for the most part, was in a continual upward pattern. My max HR was 184, and the average was 176. On my run test at the beginning of this season, my max HR was 180 and the average was 175, but my pace was 8:32, over a minute slower.

Is this some kind of improvement? I think so, although I don't believe I could have held this pace for 20 minutes. I have been eating healthy, not drinking, getting plenty of rest, and I think it shows.

After showering, I headed off to my class, which went well. I am now an official assigner for the US Soccer Federation, although I have no one for whom to assign. I did manage to pick something up in class though. Either my body is just worn down, or somebody gave me the ick. For the first time in longer than I can remember, I am sick. Hopefully, its just a bad case of reflux, but it doesn't feel like it. I'm off to bed until this thing blows over.

Oh, and that magic mile, that's a 4 second PR over my magic mile test back in 2006 :-) Yea, I'm a numbers guy...


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Goin Jalopy

I am in a rest week this week, and I'm already feeling "rested" cause I only did half a long ride on Sunday, and no brick.

but I like it...

Rest week does not involve a cut back in swimming on Team ELF. Although to be fair, her ladyship does say to make anything easy or cut anything short that you want. I did cut my swim short yesteday, by 50 yards. Cause I left my workout at home and had to do it from memory, and memory said do a 200 yard cool down instead of a 250.

It was an ACCIDENT. OK?

Then I went and spent the big bucks getting Aerowyn re-outfitted. I asked Coach Sunday night if I needed to replace the tire if it had a puncture. She recommended yes. As much as I valued coach's wisdom, I did NOT want to spend $65.00 on a new Michelin Pro Race 3 tire. I asked the guys at the bike shop, and they said the same thing. Great minds, people, great minds. Lucky for me, or unlucky, depending on your perspective, they were out of dark blue. I left the bike shop with a new air canister doo-hickey, a pump, and two tubes. Spending this much money makes me NOT HAPPY.

After my evening strength workout, I came home and proceeded to make Aerowyn workout ready. Dee Dee helped me change the tire (good practice). I decided to just put the Michelin Lithion tire I had bought for IM FL on to tide me over till September. I tried to attach the pump to the water bottle holder like it said, but ended up having to take it off and just put the pump there. Aerowyn is sporting 3 bottle holders and 1 aero bottle holder now, instead of 4 bottle holders. I suppose this is OK for training. Besides. She looks really sexy with mismatched tires anyways.

Aerowyn is training ready, and I am ready for this rest week! Coach thinks its funny that she gave me a magic mile test on Saturday. I'm ready to go for it. My (old age) PR is 7:23. I think I can beat that :-)


Monday, August 03, 2009

These are my Mountains

Dee Dee and I managed to sneak away for the weekend to Panama City Beach. She had mentioned a while back that this was a good weekend to get away. We decided early on in the week to just "go for it". Sometimes, you gotta just do things for the sake of doing, and just damn the consequences. It doesn't matter how far it is. What the consequences are. Just get'er done.

We drove up Friday night with Matthew in tow, and three bikes on the bike rack, arriving at Venture Out around 10 PM local time. My father was just overly enthusiastic about us staying in his place. He went out of his way to make sure everything was smooth and comfortable. He wanted us to make the most out of our weekend.

Panama City Beach is extremely hot this time of year. It's not so much the heat though, as it is the humidity. We climbed out of bed around 7:30 AM local time to get in an hour and a half bike ride. You could cut the air with a knife as we left the complex. Lucky for us, the skies were partly cloudy and the road mostly deserted. This was to be Dee Dee's first ride since Iron Girl Atlanta, and I didn't want to work her over. We rode at Dee Dee pace.

Our path followed Thomas Drive along the beach for four miles, where we made a left and continued along The Boardwalk, site of IM Florida. At the Walmart, we made a left down Front Beach Road on the bike route for the Ironman. The wind was blowing and snapping in our face. I had encouraged Dee Dee to push it a little bit, which would just about equal my easy pace. About the time we turned around, you could tell she was pushing it a bit too hard. We stopped just past the PCB pier and gathered our wits before setting back. We had a nice tail wind, and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds every once in a while.

About the time we made it back, Dee Dee's left arm seized up and she could barely hold onto her bike. Not sure what was up with that, but she recovered fairly quickly after we got home. I was really proud of her for hanging on for 22 miles for her first ride in a month. We spent the rest of the day hanging out at the beach, swimming in the gulf, stuffing our faces, and then soaking the pool to end our day. We ended up going out for dinner that night and ended up paying way too much money for the worst seafood ever. I won't name names, but if you want to avoid this craptastic place, drop me a line.

I knew that Sunday was going to be a busy day for me. I needed to do a 3.5 hour brick, and I really didn't want to take anytime away from my family to do it. I sat the alarm for 6:30 EDT, which was 5:30 AM local time. I didn't actually get out of the house until 6 AM, but that was OK with me. The sun was up by then. I made my way long the same route that Dee Dee and I had followed the day before. I rode past our turn around point, past the right turn on Hwy 79 for the IM Florida route, and kept following Front Beach Road, further and further west.

Front Beach Road finally made a dead end into Highway 98. I was a little worried that this high way would be too busy to bike on. It had been years and years and years since I had been on this section of 98. As a child, I just remembered it being the highway we took from Mobile to PCB, fast and furious. Now a days, nobody rides on 98 from Mobile due to the commercialization along the beach. I was pleasantly surprised to find bike lanes and a 45 mph speed limit. After crossing the bridge at Inlent Cove, I saw a sign that said "Scenic Route - 30 A" and some beach or another. I thought, "Beaches!" and made the left hand turn.

The scenery went from Florida country to manicured lawn in the blink of an eye. Not only that, there was a bike/running trail and this was some kind of fitness mecca. There were quite a few people running and biking, despite the windy, rainy weather.

I followed 30-A for some minutes, when finally, I decided I'd had enough of the dayum wind blowing in my face. It was five minutes early, but I could make up the extra minutes with the wind at my back!! I turned around and started back the way I came.

That's when I heard the first thump. I kept riding. Thump, thump, thump... Uh oh, I thought. I looked back, and sho nuf, my tire was flat. My legs had been feeling pretty crappy, and with the wind and rain, I was not in a great mood, and now this. I stopped on the bike path, took my tire off and couldn't find the doo-hickey for the air cannister. How the hell was I supposed to inflate my tire without my doo-hickey? Now, I was really just pissed.

About that time, it started to rain again, and along came a man and his wife on their bikes. They were kind enough to stop and help me fix my tire. He had a pump and a doo-hickey. We opted to use the pump. After getting the tire back on, they took off, and so did I. Less than a minute later.... Ssssssssssss.... The tire went flat again. Good Lord! I thought. This time, I got out the cell phone and called Dee Dee to come pick me up.

While I waited, I took the tire off again, and found th piece of glass that eluded me on my first search. I put the new tube in and waited. Another couple came by and offered me their pump. While I was pumping up the tire again, some runners came by and asked if we needed help. That was when I ripped the stem off. ROFL... It just wasn't my day. I thanked them and sent them on their way. Dee Dee was over half way there. I just decided to start walking until I met her. I think ten people stopped and asked me if I needed help, including one guy in a truck that rented bikes. It was nice to be broken down in such a friendly community.

Eventually, Dee Dee pulled up, and we threw the bike on the back of the SUV and returned home, via motorized vehicle. It isn't at all the way I wanted to enjoy my long ride in PCB, but stuff happens eh?

After my no PR weekend last week, and this awesomely sucktastic weekend of training, the mood was set. I was off reading Stef's blog at lunch. It's really nice to have someone who is honest about their struggles, honest with themselves and kind enough to share. I wrote in her comments that we all struggle. I struggle. I wrote this out of my heart, not realizing the sheer truth of what I said until I read it over and over again. I'm going to go back out there. I will swim again, run again, ride again, and not because I want to win a race. Not because I want to reach some arbitrary time goal (I gotz goals), but because these are my mountains to climb. And when I reach the top of the mountain, I feel... indescribable.