Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Woman Power!!

An Iron Girl Atlanta 2009 Sherpa Report

For those of you who would like a shot at a $75.00 Saucony gift certificate from Online Shoes (www.onlineshoes.com), go to this post and leave me a story about the biggest affect your endurance sport has had on your life.

I realize the fewer entries the better, but I would like to ask my friends to spread the word on these final few days and lets get some more people into the drawing! If we don't get lots of participation, then the advertisers aren't going to keep doing these kinds of things!

***************************************

At last we knew, our intrepid sherpa had dropped Dee Dee off at work, went for a trail run, cooked gumbo, and loaded up the car with Dee Dee's bike and race gear. Talk about busy, busy! I really needed a nap, but I knew it was highly unlikely. I made it to Dee Dee's work on time, and even dodged a traffic accident to make it happen. She popped out of her store at 4 PM, right on time, and we were off to Lake Lanier Islands!

Unfortunately, said sherpa forgot to bring directions to Lake Lanier coming in from the west. I wasn't worried though. There are three roads that run south to north, and each one connects to the road that leads to Lake Lanier Islands. Eventually, we reached Peachtree Industrial Blvd and headed north. Part of the race course is on this road, and Dee Dee enjoyed pointing out the nuances.

We arrived at packet pick up just after 5 PM. Dee Dee grabbed her stuff and spent a little bit of time in the expo doing some shopping. I picked up some 2XU compression sleeves, and Dee Dee opted to wait till after the race to pick out her race prize. We left the expo and headed over to the transition area to drop off Dee Dee's bike. Before racking, I pumped up the tires and checked everything over. While Dee Dee was racking her bike, I drooled over the pros bike in the first rack. They had some sweet sweet rides. With Dee Dee's bike safely parked, we left for the hotel and got checked in, then hurried over to Cumming to meet Kevin and Cathy for dinner.

It's always good to have someone local pick out a hole in the wall eatery to dine in. They have the BEST FOOD! (and beer too, evidently... Ed.) I was very happy to find that they had La Rossa on the menu there, one of my favorite beers!


See how happy I am? :-) We had a lovely dinner! Cathy and Kevin are such fun to hang out with. The food was good. The beer was good. The conversation was flowing. It doesn't get much better than that. After dinner, it was back to the hotel and ready for bed! With a little help from the beer, I was soon snoring away, although we have no proof of that (other than Dee Dee's word).

Around 10 PM, Dee Dee got frustrated with the kids running up and down the hall ways slamming doors. After two calls to the front desk, she finally jerked the door open and yelled at the little hellians to keep it down. After 10 to 15 more minutes of hushed voices and doors slamming, it finally quieted down. I told Dee Dee not to worry. She would be fine for tomorrow's race if she got no sleep at all! As for myself, I felt like I had woken up from a nap and had quite a bit of trouble getting back to sleep, but eventually, I did.

The alarm clock went off at 4:15 PM, and we were up and at'em. Dee Dee's wave was scheduled to go off shortly after 7 AM, and we needed to be there on TIME. I wanted to pull into the parking lot at quarter to six, and that is exactly what we did. I didn't count on having to walk a half a mile to transition, but hey, that's the way it worked out. We pulled in right behind Kevin and Cathy and walked with them down the road.

At transition, the body markers were out in force, and we looked for Sarah. We found her quickly and she proceeded to mark Dee Dee and Cathy (and I got a hug!).


Ironman in Training!



Dee Dee and Cathy went inside transition to get set up, while Kevin and I went around the side of the fence to watch and take pictures.

Once Dee Dee had everything set up, it was time for the long walk down the beach.


Everybody gathered around the swim start, and it was amazing. Over nine hundred women were ready to get their tri on. While waiting for the race to start, I saw a familiar face pop up to the front of the line. It was none other than Missy from Tennessee! I had been keeping my eye out for her, but with ton's of chicas running around, I didn't have much hope. The bathing suit she was racing in certainly helped! LOL... I introduced Missy to Dee Dee and Cathy, and we all spent a few minutes chatting and keeping the nerves steady before the race start.


The professionals were there too: Mirinda Cafrae, Pip Taylor, Michellie Jones, Sam McGlone. It was truly amazing. Their body composition was to die for, hard core triathletes, indeed.

Pip Taylor returning from high fiving the front row of age groupers! Awesome!!

After a brief delay, the AFLAC duck counted down... three... two... one... AFLAC!! and they were off.

Cathy went off before Dee Dee, and once Dee Dee got under way, Kevin and I walked down the beach to the swim finish. About half way, we had three calls for help go off in the water, pretty much all at the same time. The life guards were on top of things and moved swiftly to assist the swimmers. Evidently, everything turned out just fine.

I managed to squeeze into a leeeetle space at the swim exit and waited for Dee Dee to come out of the water. Cathy had a really good swim. Kevin and I missed her entirely. It wasn't long before I saw Dee Dee make her way up the shore and snapped a good pic...


Dee Dee climbed the hill to transition. Kevin and I took off for the bike exit. We have a little experience with this race now. We knew what we had to do. I put the camera away and took out the video camera. I'll upload some video at a later date.

We watched rider after ride come down the hill out of transition. Again, we missed Cathy, but Dee Dee came out in short order. I barely had time to yell, "Go Dee Dee" before she went zooming by.

Then we waited. I figured it would take Dee Dee somewhere around an hour and fifteen minutes to do the ride, depending on how she was feeling. I was a tad bit surprised to finally see Dee Dee coming down the hill after an hour and a half.


She really didn't have time to train the way she would have liked, but she was out there getting it done, and I was so proud of her!! I got a little video of her coming back on the bike, and a good bit of her leaving the run exit. While Dee Dee was out on the run, Kevin and I positioned ourselves where we could see her coming back on the run, yet still beat her to the finish line.

Dee Dee was in good spirits on the way by, despite the rising heat. She even managed to smile. She was having a hell of a time with cramps, but was soldiering on like a true triathlete. I dashed back up the side walk and got some good video of Dee Dee coming through the finish. She raised her arms in triumph and crossed the finish line, a two-time Iron Girl finisher.

I hurried around the timing booth to grab Dee Dee at the finish line. She was having severe cramping and needed a few minutes to recover. Finally she felt like walking it out a little, and we wandered around the finish area. We ran into Marni and Katrine. Marni finished first in her age group, fifth overall amateur and eleventh overall female, including the pros. Katrine came in second in her age group behind Marni. Not a bad day for the girls from Florida et all!!!

We hung around a bit for the awards ceremony, then grabbed Dee Dee's bike and headed back to the car. On the way out, we ran into Missy again. She had a great race, finishing in the top 5%. We wished her a safe trip home before continuing our walk towards the car. Dee Dee ended up stopping just outside of transition and asked me to come back to pick her up. I walked back to the car. If I had been smart, I'd a rode her bike! LOL... Anways... I picked her up, took her home, helped her get her stuff out of the car and situated. It wasn't long before she was down for a nap. Me too :-)

Being a sherpa is hard work, but its fun, and I can't wait to do it again!

Wes

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Red Top!!

Onlineshoes.com and Saucony have teamed up to offer gift certificates to readers of A Code Geeks Tail! If you would like to enter for this free drawing, then go to the post before this one and leave a comment. If you want to enter and do not have a Google login, then shoot me an email! I am non-discremenating!

Iron Girl is HERE!!! The hottest chicas the south has to offer are congregating in Atlanta for this great event!! My friend Marni and her friend Katrine drove up from Jacksonville FL Friday to enjoy the festivities. Marni has been in the Atlanta area a few times since last year's Iron Girl, but life has intefered with my ability to visit with her. I left work early Friday to meet her and Katrine for dinner. I was NOT going to miss this opportunity!


We enjoyed a nice dinner at Ruby Tuesday's at the Mall of Georgia, and I really enjoyed catching up with Marni and meeting Katrine. They are going to have an awesome race Sunday!

After dinner, I drove back to Canton and met Dee Dee for her dinner, and then it was home to bed! I was one tired puppy, and we are having a big day today! I got up early and drove Dee Dee to work. I have to pick her up at 4 o'clock and then dash over to Lake Lanier to beat packet pickup, which closes at 6 PM. She has to have her bike racked by 7 PM.

After dropping Dee Dee off, I headed back to Red Top Mountain to run in my new trail shoes. I don't know why they feel tight on my left foot when I put them on, but when I run, they are fine. I ran on packed gravel, covered with pine straw, and the shoes did just awesome. I didn't have to worry about slipping or my footing one single time. The soles absorbed the big rocks and the cushioning was awesome. I ran on this trail last time in Mizunos and I could really tell the difference. I {heart} them already!

Alrighty then... off to get ready to go!! I'm cooking some shrimp gumbo because one of the rug rats left the freezer open all night! Gah!! I'm going to charge up the batteries for the video camera and the regular camera too. I'll be back next week with some great pics!!

Wes

P.S. Go register for the free Saucony gift certificate by leaving a comment on the prior post!! or send me an email!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Review: Saucony Progrid Xodus

Saucony Gift Certificate Promotion

Saucony and Onlineshoes.com have teamed up to offer a web promotion to the blogging community. When I was contacted by the rep from Onlineshoes.com to participate, I declined. I, personally, have never worn Saucony and did not feel comfortable writing about the company's products. Not to be outdone, the rep offered ME a gift certificate so I could try out Saucony myself and write a review. Snap!! :-)

My first big decision was which product to field test. I already have three pairs of shoes I am rotating, each with about 100 miles. I did NOT want to get another pair of running shoes. They would fall apart long before I put 500 miles on them. I went to Onlineshoes.com and reviewed the Saucony products. I spend a lot of time, not only creating web sites, but using them as well. The first thing I look for in a web site is apperance, ease of use, and response times. The Onlineshoes.com site is very well designed. It didn't take long for the Progrid Xodus Trail Shoes to catch my eye, for a couple of reasons.

1. I did not have any trail shoes.
2. They were a Runner's World Editors Choice

I added the shoe in my size to the cart and proceeded to checkout. When I went to pay, there was no option under Pay Pal to use the gift certificate I had been given. In Onlineshoes.com's defense, I had been told to use a credit card, and by proceeding down this path, I was successfully able to order my shoes without any problems. It was a big bonus for me that Onlineshoes.com offers free shipping. I hit the submit button and proceeded to wait.

Just as advertised, seven to eight days later, UPS dropped the shoes off at my door. I couldn't wait to try them on. Having done my home work, I ordered the Xodus true to size. That would be ten and a half for me. The first thing I noticed when I put them on my feet is that the fit was just a little tight around the forefoot. With Onlineshoes.com generous return policy, this did not concern me at all. I decided to take them out for a spin, and it ended up not being a problem.

To get to the trails behind my neighborhood, I had to run about 0.3 miles in the street. The stiff Vibram soles felt, well, stiff. They are a lot sturdier than the soles I am used to. They are not heavy, however, weighing in at about the same weight as my road running shoes. Once I made it to the trails, the shoes really began to shine. The Vibran sole gripped the loose gravel trail securely as I ran up and down the hills. The shoe was very light on my feet, very comfortable. The padding was just right.

The upper part of the shoe is made out of three different materials. There is the leather, which provides all the support. There is the light fabric in the toe box and the tongue, then there is the "side netting" that allows the foot to cool and remain dry. It is very comfortable, and the non-slip shoe laces are a bonus. It's easy to see why this shoe won an Editor's Choice from Runner's World.

Over all, I really like the shoes. I have an hour or so trail run this weekend coming up, and I can't wait to take them out to Red Top Mountain and give them another go.

THE CONTEST

The moment you have all been waiting for :-)

For your chance to win a $75.00 gift certificate for a Saucony product at Onlineshoes.com, tell me in the comments to this point what was/is the greatest impact your endurance sport has had on your life, and why! On July 2, 2009, my lovely assistant will pick a winner from all eligible participants. If you live outside the continental United States, you are not eligible. Sawry!!!

Leave me some comment love. Go!!!

Wes

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Different Kind of Celebration

A Callaway Gardens Super Sprint Race Report

I got up early Saturday morning to get my pre-race brick in. I was so proud :-) I drove to the gym, only to find out it was closed. I drove to the park, thinking I would swim in the lake, but the attendant wouldn't honor my state parking pass. Hell if I was gonna pay three bucks to swim in the lake. I drove back to the gym and got my swim on, an easy 600 meters with some sprints thrown in for good measure. For my bike, I rode down to Hobgood Park and back. I did a few pick ups and (always!) hills got the leg muscles firing. The run off consisted of 10 minutes of trails in the small park at the back of my neighborhood.

That's when the fun began....

It was time to head to Dothan to pick up the rug rat from Panama City. My father was meeting me there. Having not heard from him, I left the house at 11 AM. Everything was running smoothly until I hit construction traffic outside of Atlanta. Even with this small blip, I made good time. My dad called me when he was 39 miles from Dothan. My GPS said I was 41 miles away. Perfect timing! We pulled in the gas station a few minutes apart from each other, exchanged rug rats, hugs, and luggage, then it was back on the road again. The trip home was a little less hectic, but all in all, I was on the road for 7.5 hours.

When I arrived back in Atlanta, Dee Dee texted me to let me know that rooms were still available at the Hampton Inn in Lagrange. We've stayed there every time we've done Callaway. It fits the bill nicely. At the last minute, we decided to drive back down there that night so we could sleep a little extra in the morning. Tack another hour or so of driving after dinner, and I was mentally exhausted! Physically, I was feeling fine.

Dee Dee and I got to bed by 11 PM, and the alarm went off at 5:15 AM. We ate some banana bread for breakfast, got dressed, and hustled over to Callaway Gardens. We weren't able to pick up our race packets this year early. As a result, we weren't sure what to expect. Quite a few triathletes had arrived before us, but check-in went smoothly. Dee Dee and I headed over to transition and got a good spot on the racks for our bikes. By 7 AM, we were ready to go.

Every year people complain about there not being enough racks at this race, and every year, I see the same thing. The racks in transition are big enough for six bikes per rack. Most of them had 4 or 5 bikes per rack, because the new triathletes do not know how to set up their transition area. The little old lady next to me had a mini-base camp set up, next to her bike, underneath the rack! With about 45 minutes till race time, you have scores of participants wandering transition, looking for a place to rack their bikes, until they give up and use a tree or the medians in the parking lot. LOL... If there is one thing I would change about this race, that would be it. Have someone there to help the new guys organize their transition area.

Dee Dee and I spent a little bit of time talking to Kevin and Cathy. It had been quite a while since we had seen each other (South Caroline Half?). It was good. Cathy is doing Iron Girl next week with Dee Dee, so we'll get to see them back to back weekends. With a half an hour before race start, the four of us went down to the lake and swam the race course backwards as a warm up. The water was very warm (again), and it looked like they had added more buoys to the swim course, forcing the swimmers along the lake shore.

After the pre-race announcements, the waves got under way. The RD had reminded us to be nice to the new triathletes and not kick, punch, swim over, or otherwise traumatize them. I was in the second wave. I entered the water behind the first wave and waited for them to start. After the RD sounded the horn, I claimed a front row starting position, as far right as I could get. The RD said the buoys were in six feet of water, but I couldn't stand where the starting buoy was located. I treaded water for three minutes or so until the RD sounded the horn for our wave, and we were off.

Some guy had come up behind me and pushed the buoy off to the side. He started out a lot faster than I did, but I let him go. This swim course looks like an inverted U, with the bottom much longer than the sides. I sprinted some what to the first buoy, passing my friend on the right along the way. I expected to find the usual cluster of people trying to get around the buoy, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself all alone. I made the right turn and began the long swim down the back stretch.

So far so good. I was very pleased. I was starting to get out of breath and decided to hold my pace at that level. I started to pass through the slower swimmers from the prior wave. I saw some feet in front of me and latched on. I poked my head out of the water to sight and saw that my swimmer had a blue cap on. Doh!! He was from the first wave. I passed him. When I poked my head out of water to sight again, I saw nothing but clear water between me and the landing. I swam until my hands scrapped the bottom and climbed from the water to run. I went in a staight line to the lake shore, then ran across the ground and up the hill to transition. Up ahead, I saw one silver cap climbing the hill. I thought I was second out of the water in my age group. Later, I found out I was third. I measured the swim on G-maps, and it is 400 meters in the lake, then another 100 meters up the hill to transition. I crossed the timing mat in 7:23 or something like that, a slight improvement over last year.

Having taken the time to register some land marks, I went right to my bike. The transition area for this race is big. I put my helmet and race belt on, grabbed my bike, and headed for the exit. The RD had asked everyone to walk in transition, due to the large number of participants. I was fine with that, but it did not allow me to improve on my T1 time at all. I still came out the exit in about two minutes. I jumped on my bike and started coasting down the hill. No matter what I tried to do, I could not get my right foot into my shoe. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally crammed my foot in the shoe, did the same with my left foot, and started spinning. My chain was off. Holy crap! I had to stop my bike and put my chain back on. Finally, I got started. I actually entertained the idea of riding the entire course with my feet half way out of my shoes. Instead, I rode in pain.

The course hadn't changed, of course :-) I spun out of there as fast as I could. It wasn't any more crowded than last year, despite two hundred more registered athletes. I had to remind a few peeps to stay to the right when the could, but other than that, it was about the same. By mile four, my feet were hurting so bad, I had to slow down and pull the tongues of my shoes out. Relief! The pain was bearable enough to make it through the rest of the race. I pedaled hard and tried to maintain good aero form. I actually tried to enjoy the scenery a bit more this year. It IS a beautiful course. Unlike the past two years, this year, I actually got passed by four to six people, some of whom I knew were in my age group. It is hard to tell in this race since they do no body marking what so ever. This race is less competitive than your normal sprint.

I worked hard to not let anyone else pass me and finally I pulled into transition. I was able to get my feet out of my shoes before the dismount line and hopped off the bike with no problems at all. I crossed the timing mat into T2 in 23 minutes and some change, almost a minute slower than last year. I found my row in transition but had a hard time locating my spot. I was looking for my transition bag but just couldn't find it. It was actually further down from where I was looking. (Note to self: get landmarks from the otherside too!) Once I located my bag, I racked my bike, took off my helmet, and threw on my shoes. Unfortunately, my T2 time this year was actually slower, at least two full minutes. I was not happy with that.

The volunteer at the aide station handed me some water as I exited T2. He asked me to stay to the left to avoid the swimmers coming in off the lake. Yes! That's how many people there were. I was heading out onto my run as swimmers from the final waves were still coming in.

In order to meet my goal on the run, I pretty much had to haul bootay from the git go. This, more than any other place, is where I failed myself. I was not in my mind and heart on this day to do what I had to do to succeed. I gave it my all. I walked a few times, but without my heart rate monitor, I had no idea what level of effort I was giving. Shortly at the start of the run, I was passed by a guy with one leg. It was very inspiring. I tried to latch onto him for as long as I could, but eventually had to let him go. I passed the one mile marker with a sub-8 mile, but as I got closer and closer to the finish, I realized there wasn't much of a chance to break fifty minutes.

The enthusiasm of the crowd at the finish this year was amazing. I crossed the finish line in 51:08, and I'm sure the finishing photo will show both the pain and the disappointment. I had to find a bit of shade to catch my breath and control the urge to throw up.

Mister? Can I have your chip?

I reached down and removed the chip strap from my left ankle and handed it to the young man. I wandered down to the pavilion to get something to eat and drink. The race was playing over in my mind: the awesome swim, the craptastic swim to bike transition, the pain on the bike, and the gasping for air on the run. The cups for gatorade were so small, I decided to go and get an empty water bottle out of my transition bag. Dee Dee's bike was still out.

After retrieving the bottle, I went to the bike entrance and cheered her in. I walked back down to the finish line and up the short hill there to assume my usual after race position, cheering in the runners. My friend from work came in. Dee Dee followed shortly there after. We hung around for a few minutes chatting with Kevin and Cathy before making the short drive back to Woodstock. We took a long nap than made a most excellent Father's Day dinner. My family gifted me a really nice Livestrong running shirt that I can't wait to wear. All in all, I can't think of a more perfect way to spend Father's Day.

Per coach's orders, I am not reading too much into this race. I am not seeing any improvement, and my mind really wants to know if I am competitive or recreational. My body doesn't care. It's happy doing what ever its doing. This is only my second full year of triathlons. I have to believe that more and better is ahead of me, whether or not that includes better times or not.

Happy late Father's Day to all you dads out there!

Wes

** EDIT: I did come out of the water second in my age group. The first guy came out in 5:00. That seems awful fishy to me... but no worries.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Third Times a Charm

This is pre-race week...

Tuesday, I had a 65 minute brick. I told coach that these workouts scare me. Well, not the workouts themselves, just what happens to me during the workouts. The brick called for intervals at race pace on the bike, then a build to race pace aftewards on the run.

Now, I don't mind shredding my thighs, et al... Brutus! I know that it makes me stronger. I just don't like to shred them before a race. You see, I have this mental thing I am still trying to get over from Ironman. Pain is bad. Pain will keep you from crossing the finish line.

In a sprint, not so much...

Oh, don't get my wrong. I did the workout exactly as prescribed. I mean, what's the point of having a coach if you aren't going to do exactly what he/she says? I might as well coach myself otherwise. I place my well deserved trust in Liz. When Liz sez jump, I sez, "How high?" I trust her to help me achieve my goals.

Blindness is also not one of my better qualities. I listen to my body. That's why I rode Bags on my 45 minute ride last night. Bags has three rings. I stayed in the little ring all night. I don't think I ever got above gear five. There's something special about spinning at 90+ RPM on Bags, going up ass-kicker, and barely going fast enough to stay up right.

Refreshing it was...

and then there was my swim this morning. Liz finally put together a workout for me that took the entire amount of estimated time. It's been kind of fun for me to always come in 10-15 minutes before the alloted time. I know. I know. It's only an estimate, but humor me. 1500 yards in the pool with some fast efforts. The kinks are worked out and my swim muscles are ready to go!!

Which leads us to... The Callaway Gardens Sprint Triathlon. Fifty minutes or so of more fun than one deserves to have in one place. The first year I did this, I was still cutting my teeth. The second year, I was training for Ironman. This year, it is an "A" race. I have trained specifically for this event.

Coach likes well thought out plans. I think she tolerated my response to her query when I said, "Go, Go, Go!!". LOL... But really. The plan, with a few adjustments, is exactly like two weekends ago. I will take fluids on the bike. I will work harder on the bike and run. I will have a consistent effort on the swim this year! I would rather have the same time but be consistent, then a better time and konk out half way like I did the last two years.

So, yes, Sunday... The return to my favorite race in an enviable location. It's going to hurt like hell, but like coach sez, when it starts hurting, work harder :-)

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Wes

Monday, June 15, 2009

Returning to the Scene

Venture Out holds a special place in my heart. It is from the likes of this that childhood memories are created. My father is the adventurous sort. He had it in his head that he would buy a trailer and travel to camp grounds all over the country. He did too. Eventually, his wanderings led him to Panama City Beach and Venture Out.

Back in those days, it WAS a trailer park. You rented a site by the day. As the place became more and more popular, the owner of the property began to sell the lots. My father, in his wisdom, purchased two, one for himself, and one for his mother. I saw the check he wrote out for his mother's lot, and it was a steal, even in those days.

I spent many a summer growing up there, swimming, biking, fishing, crabbing, etc. This was where I developed my love for the water. As the years went by, more and more owners built small single story houses on the their lots. Today, you can find a few open sites, but not many.

Matthew and I left Atlanta around six PM Friday night to drive down and meet my father. The plan was to get him situated, then leave him there for the week. With Aerowyn on the bike rack, we made the drive down to Panama City Beach.

The last time I made this trip, I was coming to do Ironman. The route from Atlanta goes through Columbus, GA, then south through Eufala and Dothan. There, it picks up Hwy 231 south to Panama City. North of Lynn Haven, 231 intersects the bike route for Ironman Florida. Try as I might, I didn't recognize any of it. I wasn't even sure of where they met. I admit this irritates me a bit. I never can remember much of my race routes.

Arriving at Venture Out around 11 PM local time, we quickly bedded down for the night. I had a key workout in the morning, and I needed to get a good nights sleep. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings, I slept well. The alarm went off at 7:30 AM, and I was on my bike by eight.

Venture Out is located next to St. Andrew's State Park, right on the marathon route for IM FL. I never even knew there was an Ironman in PCB until a year or so ago. LOL.... Heading out, I made a right down Thomas Drive and rode along the beach. I made my way past Broadway and quickly found myself on the IM FL bike route. This part of the race I remember. After a twenty minute warm up, I began my race pace intervals, the first to my turn around point, then two more on the way back.

Riding along the beach was very nice. I ran this same route after IM FL 07 for my twenty mile training run. There is about 20 feet of elevation change over 10 miles. It made for one enjoyable ride.

During one of my rest intervals, I just about got clocked by some old klutz in a huge truck. There was nobody else on the road but me, and this guy wanted to go in the same direction as I did. I'm cruising along in the bike lane, and he pulls out in front of me, and crosses into the bike lane not 8 feet away!! Of course, I was prepared for just such a thing. I'm not stupid. Still, I had to slam on my brakes and control my sliding back tire to keep me out of the hard gravel to the right of the road. I yelled a few expletives at him of which I am not proud. He, his wife, and four grand kids went merrily on their way like nothing happened.

My heart rate monitor read 176.

After getting myself under control, the rest of the ride ended smoothly. I paused briefly at the trailer to drink some fluids and transition to my run. It is so humid in PCB this time of year. I did a short 25 minute run with some builds to race pace, and by the end, I was drenched in sweat. I thought for sure it must have been one hundred degrees, but in fact, it had't even reached ninety yet.

I spent the rest of the day entertaining the boyz (Matthew and his friend) and getting things organized for the week. My father came in that afternoon. I cooked dinner for us all and went grocery shopping for them for the rest of the week. I wanted to get up in the morning at a decent hour for my 45 minute Z1-Z2 run.

Again, I slept good. There's something just so relaxing about being in Panama City. I suited up and stepped out the door and into the sauna. If anything, it was more humid than the day before. I took off running down the marathon route, triggering memories of race day. I met my father here. This is the point where I passed Kelly twice, and she whooped it up with her crazy self. Further down, I lost the route and ended up lost in the neighborhoods by the lagoon. Eventually, I gave up and headed back to Venture Out. That, too, pissed me off a bit.

By the time I reached the trailer, the heat and humidity was almost unbearable. I ended up walking the last three minutes of my workout to cool down. All in all, I really enjoyed my return trip to Panama City Beach. I got to spend time with my father, my son, and relive some of the moments from Nov 1, 2008.

I'll be back, and next time, I'll be more prepared. There's so much more I want to see.

Wes

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recovering with Grace (on my face?)

I don't know why... It just is...

This recovery has been hard, harder then I remember. I guess pain is temporary :-) Tuesday, I went for a swim in the lake with Dee Dee. We actually went up to Red Top and swam in complete freedom! It was awesome. She swam about 300 meters, and I got in my 1300 meters by swimming down to the cove and back.

No... I didn't venture across the cove by myself. I am not the brave, or stupid. My demeanor when swimming in OW for practice is completely different than swimming in a race. It is a bit frustrating.

After Matthew's soccer tryouts, Dee Dee and I went to the gym to run on the treadmill. I felt pretty good for the first 20 minutes, clipping along at an easy 10 minute pace. The last fifteen minutes, my body just gave out. I kept my heart rate in the prescribed range, but it was rough. I went home and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I felt punch drunk. Not sure what to make of that. I haven't had alcohol in at least the last 20 minutes or so.

Yesterday, I felt my legs coming back to me on my bike ride, and I had a great 2500 yard swim in the pool today. I'm starting to feel like my old self.

Sorry if this is kind of dry and boring! Ha!! Tomorrow night, I leave for sunny Panama City Beach. Look for me running and riding along Thomas Drive early in the morning. It should be a blast!

Everybody have a great weekend!

Wes

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I Am Not Afraid

A High Falls Sprint Triathlon Race Report

It might seem funny that I, an Ironman, a triathlon veteran now, would feel fear going into a sprint triathlon. It had been such a long time since I had raced. The thing that was really getting me though was that this would be my second wet suit/swim belt free race. It's a feeling I just might never get over.

but I do it anyways...

Friday night, I cleaned out my transition bag. I took out all the junk from Ironman Florida. There was an extra tire, 5 air canisters, two tubes of Body Glide, sunscreen, and my waist pouch. Just to be sure, I opened the waist pouch. Inside, I found two snacks of Fig Newtons still in their air proof baggies. I opted not to see if they were still fresh.

I thought about the race the next day and began to lay out what I needed. For the swim, a swim cap and goggles. For the bike, my tri suit, a helmet, and shoes. For the run, my hat and my Zoots. I couldn't believe how little there was. I felt like I was missing something. You don't need much for a sprint! To make sure, I checked what I had against a list in the back of one of my books. Yup! I had everything. My transition bag was noticeably lighter after I packed. To make me happy, I threw two towels and a change of clothes in there as well.

Sleep did not come easy Friday night. The boyz are night owls now that school is over, and they were Xboxing down the hall way. I had to ask Dee Dee to yell at them. I think I finally nodded off for good around 1 AM. The alarm went off at 4:30 AM. I hopped right out of bed and headed downstairs. I thought I would forgo the donuts this year for breakfast, and I tried oatmeal instead. Now, I like my oatmeal and all. When I make it at work, I eyeball the amount of water I put in it. Evidently, it comes out a little runny, and I like it that way. This morning, I measured it exactly. It was hot, and thick, and unappetizing, but I ate it anyways. I made myself some coffee to go, hit the bathroom, loaded the car and was out the door by 5 AM. I figured it would take 1.5 hours to get to High Falls State Park, south of Atlanta.

The drive down was peaceful. I come this way often for soccer tournaments. I arrived at the park at 6:20 AM. I drove past the main entrance to the park, over the falls, and made a left into the second parking area. The Ranger taking money for parking noticed the year pass I had purchased and let me through. Saved myself three bucks! I went right to my parking spot, unloaded the car, and made the trek back to the main area and transition. I propped Aerowyn up against a rail fence and made my way to body marking. A beautiful young lady, who would later sing the national anthem, wrote my numbers on my thighs, arms, and calf. She asked me:

Have you done a lot of these races?

I have done quite a few, I replied, but this is the first one in this series.

You seem very, very relaxed!, she said.

This made me smile. I WAS very relaxed.

I found my spot on the rack, which was unfortunately in the middle of the line. I did score an end position though. It took me all of five minutes to set up. I decided at the last minute to clip my bike shoes in the pedals. No flying start for me, but maybe a modified flying start :-) My transition area looked sparse with just a helmet, goggles, and swim cap lying there.

Then, I waited. I visited the port a potty two more times. You know Wes means business when he craps three times before a race! I went to look over the swim course. They changed it from a triangle to a square this year. It didn't look too bad.

At 7:15 AM, I went for a short run on the course. I did some pick ups to get the legs firing. I also wanted to test them a bit to see where they were from last weekend. The legs felt good. Not 100%, but real good. I walked back to my transition area and changed my Zoots for my swim cap and goggles. I went down to the water and stuck a toe in. Eight-one degrees felt good. I went for a quick swim out to the first 100 meter buoy. I did some 25 stroke max efforts to get the lungs stressed. I also wanted to get comfortable with the unknown depth of the water. I spent some time just floating, at peace with what was about to go down.

I made my way to the swim exit and climbed from the water. While I was walking to the back of the staging area, an old man came walking through the transition. When I say old, I mean really old. I looked at the back of his calf when he went by. There was an 88 written there. I decided at that point:

I am not afraid...

The national anthem was sung, the prayer given. The first wave of young bucks sprinkled with a few middle agers went off on schedule. It was time for my wave. I opted to seed myself to the right at the front of the pack. When the announcer said thirty seconds, another triathlete in a Blue Seventy speed suit joined me in the deep water. It seemed like that was the longest thirty seconds ever. The next thing I heard was "three seconds. go!", and we were off...

Over night, I had decided to change my swim strategy a bit and borrow some ideas from Ryan. I surged to the 100 meter buoy to give myself some open water. My friend in the speed suit was on my right shoulder. I know cause we bumped a few times. When I lifted my head to sight, I could see 8 to 9 yellow caps in front of me. WTH? I thought. These old guys are either fast or they are going to burn out soon. It's important to not get caught up with what everybody else was doing. I worked to find my rhythm. I began to breath hard. I did not want to get to the point where I felt like I couldn't breath, and thus, panic.

Three quarters of the way to the first swim buoy, I was comfortably uncomfortable. My nose tried to gunk up my oxygen intake a few times, but I fought it off. I passed a few yellow caps here, including my friend in the speed suit. As I neared the first turn buoy, I began to swim through the laggards from the previous wave. I cut the first buoy right on the mark and swam the seventy-five meters along the top of the box to the next turn buoy. I cut this buoy close too then swung out wide to find some open water. There were blue caps everywhere. I had to dodge a few doing breast stroke and cut between two that were swimming side by side. When I started the return route, I swam over the legs of one guy trying to get to the outside. I'm glad he didn't kick me. The water was churning with all the swimmers.

On the way back in, I found myself really getting out of breath. I opted to slow down a little bit. I kept drifting off to the right and really didn't want to add any extra yardage to the swim. I managed to pick up the pace and swam to the swim exit. My finger tips didn't quite touch bottom when I opted to stand. I was surprised to find myself in knee deep water. I ran out the swim exit, crossed over the timing mat, and pressed the button on my watch. 11:36 it read. I was not happy with that number. I had expected to come in under ten minutes. Later, I would learn that nobody in my age group came in under ten minutes, and I had the fifth best swim time. I opted not to dwell on this number and headed into transition.

Originally, I planned to hustle through transition. I was so out of breath, I decided to walk fast. I threw on my helmet and race belt, grabbed Aerowyn and ran to the exit. I crossed the timing mat in 1:05, my fastest transition ever. I hopped on Aerowyn and began pedaling out of the park. I had until the park entrance to get my shoes on before I hit the first hill. I got the right foot in OK, but I had a little trouble getting the left foot situated. I tackled the first hill without the straps being set. Once I reached the crest, I got the tongues situated and strapped those babies down.

My heart rate was still pretty high. I kept my cadence high and my gear in a medium range. The bike route was pretty simple. It had five turns and consisted of mostly gentle rolling hills. After five to ten minutes, my HR settled down and I turned up the pace, switching to the big ring on Aerowyn. I remember at the three mile marker noting the burn in my thighs and thinking I still had 10 more miles to go. This race was a huge learning experience for me, and I needed to take risks. During Ironman training, when ever I felt that burn, I backed off. I usually had 4-5 hours left to ride. This day, I embraced it. The goal was to see how much of this burn I could take, and for how long.

One of the most important things on this bike ride I noticed was that I was not getting passed like crazy. There were a few that passed me early on, but I held most off them off for a while. I got passed by three or four chicas late in the ride, and I even passed quite a few riders myself. This was a welcome change, and I fed off that.

The second half of the course had a lot of nice down hill, and I took advantage of that. I put Aerowyn in her biggest gear and just motored down the slopes. The volunteers warned us to slow down as we reached the left hand turn back into the park. You did not want to run through that turn and go over the cliff and into the falls. The geese down there would not have been happy. I made the turn safely and took my feet out, pedaling on top of my shoes the rest of the way to transition. I hopped off my bike, crossed the timing mat in 40:50, ran Aerowyn to my transition area, got her all racked up, then proceeded to change for my run. Helmet off. Race belt turned around. I had a little trouble getting my Zoots on, but mostly because I was tired and out of breath. T2 went so fast, I almost regretted not having more time rest! I crossed the the timing mat in 0:54, another PR :-)

Exiting the transition area, I grabbed a cup of water and walked to drink it. I had decided not to carry water on the bike because it was so short. I don't think I'll make this decision next time. I took off running fast. My HR was very high, and my lungs were burning. Around the four minute mark, I stopped to walk. This course was rolling as well. There really wasn't anything long and steep. Just rollers with a few short steep hills to get the HR up. I caught my breath and took off running again, still not quite comfortable. At the six minute mark, I felt my legs and lungs come back, and I settled into a rhythm. Finally, I thought. I can race this run.

I crossed the first mile marker in 8:36, and I was so happy. I thought I had ruined my run time with the walk break. I ran to the second aide station and grabbed a glass of water. It was up hill to the turn around and then back down hill to the aide station again. I crossed the second mile marker in 8:34. Again, I was happy. I thought I could negative split the run.

The last mile proved tough. There was one short steep hill that just sapped my strength. I walked up a good bit of it before taking off running again. One more short break before the third mile marker, and I poured it on for the finish. The crowd in the finisher's area was enthusiastic, and I really enjoyed the support they gave. I picked up speed, sprinting to the finish, and crossed the line in 1:27:01, with a third mile of 8:38 and 0.1 miles at 0:52 respectively (5K=26:40).

My stomach was a little upset at the end of the race. I wondered if I had given enough, whether or not I had more. I walked around for a few minutes drinking water, then headed over to the food and ate a banana, half a bagel, and some cookies. I hung around for a few minutes to cheer in some triathletes, before heading back to transition to gather my things. I changed my clothes, grabbed Aerowyn and began the short walk back to the car. As I neared the entrance to the park, I noticed the ambulance and fire truck in the middle of the road. The paramedics were attending to a triathlete that was on the ground. My first thoughts were this guy had gotten hit by a car. I asked the volunteer what had happened. He didn't see it, but evidently, the guy was coming down the hill to the park, lost control of his handle bars (he was on a hybrid), and flipped over the handle bars. I visibly winced and hoped he was alright.

As I made my way back to the interstate to head home, I saw up ahead the flashing lights of the motor cycle behind the last rider in the race. My eyes teared up as the 88 year old man came riding by on his bike. I thanked God for giving me the strength and health to enjoy this beautiful day.

Wes

Thursday, June 04, 2009

It's That Time

and has it been a long time coming...

I haven't raced since November 1, 2008, the day for which it will always be rememebered:  I became Iron.

I haven't swam in a race without my wet suit since July 13, 2008.  Yea, we won't go there.  Thinking happy happy thoughts about this upcoming swim.  Six hundred meters is...  short.

I have a new racing motto for 2009:  Breath Later!

Coach and I have crafted a well thought out race plan for the High Falls Sprint this Saturday.  It sounds like this:  go, go, go!!  LOL...  Basically, it boils down to this.

1.  Swim like there is no bike afterwards
2.  Bike like there is no run afterwards
3.  Run like you stole something

After reffing soccer matches all weekend (3 games a day for 3 days), my legs were pretty tired last night on my run.  I'm not sure what that means for this weekend, but I plan to give them some TLC for the next two days.

I am so excited for this race.  It feels like the first time.  Come Saturday, it's just me, my bike, and my shoes.  I don't have any expectations.  I am planning to donate a lung to the cause.

Race report to follow...

Wes