Monday, September 28, 2009

Jaggad around the Edges

An Ironman Augusta 70.3 Race Report

Friday night, I didn't sleep so good. Dee Dee and I drove to the Alabama state line to watch Jimmy's football game. Bremmen GA is a quaint little town, and I love them. They are truly what America is all about. I was just teasin with Dee Dee about somebody playing a banjo on the porch.

The stadium was packed. It was prom night, and it looked like the entire town turned out for the celebration, complete with fireworks. Unfortunately, Jimmy's team lost. We snuck out before the fireworks, and despite one wrong turn (bad news is dem parts), we made it out onto the road in good time. When we got back to the house, Remember the Titans was on TV. Having come from a football game, I got wrapped up in the movie and ended up watching it until it went off at 1:45 AM. I set the alarm for 9 AM and soon fell asleep.

I didn't sleep well at all. I woke up to my mind going 90 mph. I was excited about this race, and the big day was here. My body was rested when I got up Saturday. My mind was a bit fried. Not a great combination when visiting the bank to discuss their over draft charges. They charged my son seventy dollars for a fifty cent over draft and a four dollar over draft, and all they would give back was eighteen dollars. We paid the fee, and for the honor of that transaction, closed our account. Please don't do business with banks that charge over draft fees. It basically amounts to loaning money without permission. It's immoral thievery.

Now that I was angry, it was time to go home and pack. I pretty much had everything put together in no time. I'm old school with this now. Unfortunately, I am also absent minded. I left the house without my Fig Newtons and my electrolyte water. We said good bye to the kids and drove down to Augusta. The trip was painless. We stopped at Subway for some lunch, and I focused on eating healthy. We found the host hotel without any parking and managed to score a decent parking spot. We mosied on over to the pre-race meeting, arriving at 2:15 PM. The next meeting wasn't until 3 PM, so Dee Dee and I decided to check out the expo. We met Paul there, working the expo with his wife. They have a framing business for finish line photos. They really do some awesome stuff. You guys should check them out.

We decided to head back to the meeting room at 2:30 PM, and boy was I glad we did. The line was already starting to get long. They let us in and we grabbed a spot close to the front, not realizing that would put us to the back of the line at registration. Needless to say, registration at this particular race was a cluster. It took almost 45 minutes to get registered and get my race packet. Thankfully for us, our friends Kevin and Cathy stood in line to get us a parking pass, or there would have been more waiting. We browsed the expo some more before leaving, but really, there isn't anything new I need at this juncture in my triathlon career.

Off to transition to check in the bike. A lot of people were parking in the field before the turn off by the river. I took a chance and drove my car as far down the road as I could get and manage to park about a quarter mile from transition. I was very happy when I got to transition and discovered I had scored an end spot. Things were moving along splendidly. After racking the bike, we drove to the hotel to check in. Dee Dee wanted to change her clothes for dinner. We were meeting Kevin, Cathy, Molly, and Dani at Carrabbas at 6:30 PM.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I let out and "uh oh". LOL... It was a mess. Kevin had called earlier and gotten us on the list. I checked in at the list taker stand then went outside to find a seat. Kevin and Cathy showed up shortly, followed by Dani and Molly.


Waiting for dinner...

This was the first time that I had met Molly, and that, in itself, was special. We had some great conversation while we waited for a table to open up. Periodically, one of us would go back inside to check on our status. Finally, it was my turn. I went in and the lady couldn't find out name on the list at all! Eventually, she found us on a list she had put away and apologized. She thought that we had left. She gave us the table that was open right then and there, and we were off to dinner. This poor restaurant was snowed under, and it took us an hour after that to get our food. On this night, at this race, I wasn't prepared to let anything bother me. We took it all in stride.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes and drove back to the hotel. I quickly settled in and fell asleep around 10:30-ish or so. I had set my alarm clock for 5 AM. In retrospect, I probably could have slept a little later, but again, no worries. I work up at 1:30 AM again, and I think it was close to 2:30 AM before I fell back to sleep. I woke up a few minutes before the alarm clock. Got out of bed, and shut everything off.

Dee Dee and I ate our breakfast together then headed over to the race site. Our parking spot was a block or two north of the host hotel. We walked to the bus pickup. I gave Dee Dee a kiss good bye and got on the bus. I would meet her later at the swim start. The bus dropped us off right outside transition. It took me probably 15 minutes or so to get setup. I took my time. I managed to borrow someone's pump to check my tires, and everything was good to go. I grabbed my wet suit, swim cap, and goggles, and headed to the bus pickup that would take me to the swim start.

The actual swim start was a quarter mile or so southeast of the hotel, and 1.2 miles (duh!) from transition. I got there about 6:30-ish and began my walk to the river. I picked up Dee Dee along the way and said good morning to Molly who was waiting on Dani. I visited the port-a-potties then made my way down to the swim start proper.

Dee Dee trying to keep me warm! Body heat = good :-)

I opted not to stand in my "corral". Rather, I sat along the fountain near the swim start, so I could see everything that was going on.

A thoughtful moment...

Dani is ready to get her race on!
She smoked it!

The pros went off first, then the para-triathletes, then the age groupers started. My wave wasn't scheduled to go off until 1 hour and 24 minutes after the race started. At 8:15 AM, I ate a power bar. At 8:30 AM, I put on my wet suit and made my way to the swim start. My group had just gotten into the queue. I was at the back of the pack, but I wasn't really worried about it. When it was our turn to start, we made our way down the bridge and onto the floating dock.

Walking along the dock. I am third from the left.

Because I was in the back, I ended up closest to shore. I jumped into the water and was briefly shocked by the cold. Getting used to the water temperature is critical for a successful swim start. There was a four minute break between waves, and it went by very fast. The horn sounded, and our wave got under way.

There was a 10 yard buffer zone around the dock. Most of the triathletes hung onto the doc. Myself and a few others treaded water out at the starting line. When the horn sounded, I took off and quickly found myself in open water. Up ahead, a bridge loomed. A couple of kayaks ran interference along the inside to keep us from smacking our head on the trusses. I picked my head up to sight at one point, and I heard the kayaker yelling at me. He didn't want me to run into the back of his boat. LOL... I made my adjustments and quickly took off swimming again.

The river itself was fine. I found myself on an inside track, loosing some benefit from the current, but having plenty of open water in which to swim. I frequently saw the bottom and swam through a few weedy areas, but it was no big deal. I kept thinking when I saw the boat docks ahead that I would soon be done. It got a bit frustrating when the swim exit did not magically appear. I kept my head down and kept swimming, even picking up the pace a bit. The curve of the river meant that I was on a straight line for the swim exit. I hit the boat ramp a bit early and struggled through the muddly river bottom to make my way up. This was tiring more than anything else.

Dee Dee is an excellent photog. She catches me popping my head out of the water.

As I ran up the ramp, I reached behind me and unzipped my wet suit and pulled it half way down. I saw Dee Dee on the ramp cheering, and Molly was there at the top of the ramp, cheering me on.

Molly did some good camera work too! She is impressed with my grimace! :-)

I ran down the swim in entrance to the back of transition. They had a few wet suit strippers there. Fortunately for me, one freed up right as I arrived. I threw myself on my back, and she ripped my wet suit off in a snap. My right calf immediately cramped, and I made face. She asked me if I was OK, and I told her that it was just cramp. I'd be fine.

My transition spot was right there next to the wet suit strippers. I threw my wet suit down and proceeded to put on my HRM, my watch, my shoes, helmet, etc. Being so close to the swim in meant that I had to woggle my way across transition to the bike exit. I climb on board Aerowyn and begin spinning down the road. Just before I exited Riverfront Drive and out onto the bike course, I hear this voice.

Liz says to stick with the plan!

Acknowledging coach's instructions!

Sorry, I had to laugh. Molly had told me that Liz gave her things to say to me on different parts of the course. I raised my hand to acknowledge her then got back to riding. I had done some analysis of the bike course and watched the video. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I knew exactly what to expect.

The first seventeen miles or so are relatively flat. This is the best time to get your heart rate under control after the swim. My heart rate was showing 160. I maintained a fast by high cadence to bring my HR down. It dribbled down into the mid-fifties in about 5 minutes or so. I hit a few rollers after that, which caused it to jump back up to 160. After about 7-10 miles, it dropped into the 150-153 range, just the spot I wanted to keep it in until the end of the race. Up ahead, the first hill loomed at mile 17. In my past races, I usually spun lightly but furiously up the hills, and as a result, I got passed a lot. At this race, I decided to give the hills a bit more effort. I pedaled strongly up the hill, trying to stay in the big ring, but shifting down when I needed to to maintain my cadence. My heart rate climbed up into Zone 4 as a result.

Once over the hill, it was back to flat with a few rollers. Quite a few South Carolinians were out in their yards cheering for us. I will not forget the lady sitting in her SUV in the gasoline parking lot. She was just clapping and cheering and screaming GO GO GO...

My ride across the first plateau was uneventful. I actually got to pass a bunch of people from prior waves, and got passed by only a handful. You can hear the whirl of disk wheels as speedier cyclists over take you. At one point, near one of the left hand turns, a pickup truck with police lights went whirling by. Up ahead, a cyclist was down in the road with his neck in a brace. After making the left hand turn, an ambulance went flying by.

About half way through, I ate my Fig Newtons, which were doing their best to fall apart on me. We hit some sweet down hills and picked up some super speed. I joked with a guy as I passed him that we should go back and do that one again. As we traveled through one of the little towns, I saw a triathlete on the side of the road holding his wrist. He said, "Watch out for that hole!" as I went past him. "What hole?" I thought.

By now, I was beginning to feel the affects of my ride. I really wanted to break 3 hours on this ride and show my coach that I can improve and our training had made me stronger. I realized fully that this was probably irrational. I very well might blow myself out on the bike, but it was a risk that I was willing to take. How am I to know my limits if I never press them?

Hitting high Zone 3 was really a struggle at this point. I knew that there was one last major climb at mile 38 or so, then it was rolling until the final downward ride beginning at mile 46. I kept checking my time on my watch. I had averaged 20 mph for the first hour and a half or so, but the hills had taken there toll. The down hill on the last 10 miles was deceptive. The grade wasn't quite what it appeared on the map, but at least there wasn't a lot of rollers. I was more than ready to get off my bike as I pulled up to transition. I looked at my watch and saw 2:59 and hustled my ass across the timing mat with 12 seconds to spare. Mission accomplished.

I hobbled precariously to my spot in transition. Again, the bike-in was all the way on the other side of transition. As I racked my bike, I stabbed my knee with something, either the bottle cage or the chain ring. I felt it dig deep into my knee, and as I glanced down, I saw a river of blood running down my leg.

Holy crap, I thought to myself. Ain't this the most wonderful thing...

I tried to staunch the flow of blood with my fingers to no avail. I didn't feel a thing, and I knew that lack of pain would not trigger my clotting mechanism. I picked up my wet towel from beneath my gear and dabbed the hole. Slowly, I felt the burn, and the bleeding slowed down. When it was no longer gushing, I gave up and began to put on my shoes. I figured the blood would clot soon, and I wasn't really worried about it. Fortunately for me, it didn't take long to get my run gear, and the run out exit was right next to my spot. I walked down the exit chute, resetting my Garmin, and out on the run I go...

Down Riverfront Drive, I ran. As I made the turn out onto the race course proper, I was seized by a cramp in my left thigh. This is great, I thought. If I cramped up this early, I was going to have a really hard day meeting my goal. After walking for a couple of hundred yards, the thigh felt well enough to run. Within a couple of minutes, I felt much better.

The first three miles of the run course, I was supposed to get my legs back under me. By mile three, it was apparent that I had no legs left. I switched to a run 3 minutes walk 1 minute routine, and that carried me through the first half of the race. Every time my HR climbed above 160, I got dizzy and my legs started to tingle. Add to this the cramp that was happening in my left shin, and I was not a happy camper. As I ran past the Ramada Inn on Greene Street, Molly yelled out to me. "Liz said you had a smokin fast bike!" I managed a smile for her, but didn't have the mental faculty for much else.

One of the few times I was actually running :-(

Near the half way point, I ran into Kevin. He was feeling nauseous, but was determined to finish the race on his terms. Somewhere, during the start of the second half of the race, my left calf threatened to cramp on me. I knew for a fact that if that muscle cramped, I was done for. Basically, the rest of my run boiled down to running for 1 minute, fighting off the cramps, running for the remainder of the 3 minutes, then walking my 1 minute.

The 12 mile marker was the most beautiful sight in the world. I made the right onto 12th street and knew that my race was almost over. I just hoped the finish line wasn't farther down than I though it was. The final aide station on Jones Street had a hose, and I let the kid wash me down, and it felt good. I plodded a long, past the Marriott. I saw the cones ahead and drifted into the right hand lane. I made the right hand turn into the finish line and the chute was lined with people.

I got nothing left. The shuffle is the best I can do...

There was not going be any finish line sprint for me on this day. I barely had enough left in me to finish running to the timing mat. As soon as I cross the mat, I was done for.

What it looks like to kick your own ass for 6 hours!

The pain was shooting up my legs. It was all I could do to walk up to the kid passing out water then on to the volunteers taking off the chips. I stood in front of this old lady, waiting for her to take off my chip, as she proceeded to ignore me. With a curse, I finally gave up waiting and reached down to take off my own chip, only to give up in disgust a few seconds later. I turned to a kind gentleman next to her, and he was kind enough to take my chip off for me.

I saw Dani and Molly to the left of the finish chute. They were shouting for me. I walked over and gave them high fives. I asked Dani how she had done, and she told me well. She was being modest. She had a PR and a great race. Congratulations, Dani! I made my way to the street that runs behind the park, then back along the side walk towards the food and beverages. I was still sipping on my water, but I felt really really bad. I sat down on the stone wall there and tried to collect my wits. Dee Dee found me. As I was sitting there, the pain and effort I had put in finally caught up to me and all I wanted to do was cry. Dee Dee saw this and gave this big ole nasty, sunburned, sweaty, salty, bloody body a hug and made everything better.

Dee Dee went to stand in line for my pre-race bag while I found some shade. I joined her when it was my turn in line. I was so glad to my swollen feet out of my shoes and into my sandals. The bus to take the athletes back to transition for their bikes showed up, and I hopped aboard. I promised to meet Dee Dee at the Marriott. Just as the bus pulled up to Riverfront Drive, I had to get off quick. I felt like I was going to barf. Fortunately for me, it was just the gag reflex for my running nose. As soon as I cleared my throat out, I felt better.

The walk down Riverfront Drive to transition was painfully long. I was so tempted to go back down the boat ramp and cool off in the river for a bit, but I knew that if I took too long, Dee Dee would start worrying about me. I found my spot in transition and sat down to pack up my wet suit. This was the time my left calf decided to cramp, and boy was it bad. I let out a blood curdling scream and laid down flat on my back. You could see the cramp moving up and down the inside of my left leg. Another triathlete ran over and straightened my leg out and pointed my toes towards my chest. Slowly but surely, the cramp went away. When the guy reached down and started to massage my calf, that started the screams all over again, and the honeymoon was over. I begged him to stop.

The cramp settled down. I thanked my rescuer and another triathlete that came over and gave me electrolyte water. I packed up my bike and walked it down Riverfront Road until it cleared up enough for me to ride. I wasn't sure I would be able to ride my bike back to the Marriott, but somehow, I managed. As I turned down the road to the Marriott, I heard a car horn pooping at me. It was Dee Dee. She was just getting ready to come look for me. We packed up the car and drove over to Cathy and Kevin's hotel. They had graciously offered to let me take a shower after the race, and it was oh so good. I could not thank them enough.

Let me stop here and say a few kind words about Dee Dee. Not only did she wake up when I did and chase me all over the race course, she was there to hold my hand after the race, help me pack, and make sure that I got home safely. She is the bestest sherpa ever.

I did my best to stay awake and keep Dee Dee company on the way home. I even had a few beers when we stopped off for refueling. I succeeded. It was good to be home.

Final thoughts on Augusta later!! Thanks to all of you for your support, both on my blog and Facebook. I'll say it again. The triathlete/running community is the best ever!!

Swim: 26:46
T1: 4:19
Bike: 2:59:48
T2: 3:41
Run: 2:32:28

Total: 6:07:02

Wes

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts of Augusta

It's almost go time. This is my "A" race of the year. Big "A" race. Callaway was an "A" race too, but its short enough that if you sneeze, you'll miss it :-)

I am ready. My body is slim, trim, beaten into shape. I am stronger than last year. Stronger than Ironman. Plus, I gotz my hair cut!

This race is huge. 3400+ athletes. There are three waves in my age group. That's waves M-L-C for you young people (that's mid life crisis). ROFL...

I have been doing these zippy little workouts, but I am ready to wind it down. I feel so sore when I wake up in the morning, but when I get into the workout, I am kicking arse, which is the way it should be.

Dee Dee and I will be making the trip down Saturday. I want to arrive around lunch time to avoid having to rush to do anything. It's about a two hour drive from Atlanta. Driving over should be a no brainer.

There will be tons and tons of bloggie peeps at this race. Some who will be spectating, and some who will be tuning up for their first Iron distance race. I can't wait to see everybody! It's almost more fun than racing!!

This is a super special race for me. I honestly didn't think that this year would be all that exciting for me. It being an "off" year and all. Thanks to Dee Dee and my coach, I have the opportunity to chase my dream of going sub-6. A special mwah!! to both of you (extra special for Dee Dee).

My race plans? Remember the scene from Lord of the Rings. Gandalf tells Aragorn before the Battle of Helms Deep.

"Look for my coming, at second light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the east."

and in my own words...

Look for me at the end of the fifth hour in the med tent! Sub-6 or death...

SPARTA!!!! :-)

Wes

Monday, September 21, 2009

Watching Over Me

In case you haven't heard. It's raining here. We go through 2 to 3 years of drought, then in two weeks, we totally make up for it. Somethings wrong with this picture. It has been raining non-stop for four or five days, and off and on for two weeks.

I ended up bagging my ride Wednesday because of it. The thought of riding on the trainer was unappetizing. I managed to get my swim on Thursday. I {heart} my gyms indoor pool. Since soccer practice was cancelled, I got to go to Jimmy's football game in Gwinnett County. The game started off OK, but by the end of the first quarter, we were in lightning delay. This was followed up by the monsoon rains. Being football and all, once the lightning passed, they were out there in the mud and rain, playing. I'm sure the kids had a good time, but it was a mess.

The scheduled run on Friday didn't go off either. I signed up to ref a few games of soccer this weekend, and I didn't want to over do it this close to my race. My youngest son, Matthew, managed to squeeze in his soccer match early Saturday morning, between thunderstorms. I think his was one of the only games played over the weekend. All of my soccer games were canceled.

There was a break in the clouds Saturday afternoon just long enough for me to get my brick in. The workout called for slightly faster than HIM pacing. I did 20+ miles on the Silver Comet, followed by 3.26 miles at a 9:12 pace run off. The extra rest was paying off and I felt really good. I held 20+ mph for the first hour of my ride. If I can just do that in Augusta, I'll be a happy camper.

Sunday morning, I met a friend at 8 AM at Red Top Mountain for an open water swim. We wanted to get one swim in with the wet suit before Augusta. This would actually be the third time the suit got wet this year, and one of those was a soaking in the tub! Saturday night, my friend pinged me on Google Talk to make sure I was still coming. I was like, Dude! HTFU!!! We are triathletes, we don't get to pick the weather we race in. Let's just do it.

Once again, Mother Nature smiled on us. We suited up in a drizzle and really only got hit by monsoon type rains for about ten minutes of our swim, but really. What the hell? We were already wet so who cares? We tootled around for about thirty minutes. Reminded our shoulder muscles what resistance felt like in a wet suit, then got the hell outta there. Just in time for the real thunderstorms to show up.

I can't help but think that God is watching over me. The weather broke so that I might get my training in, yet it forced the cancellation of all my soccer matches. Just sose, you know, I couldn't do anything stooopid and ruin my race. It's almost like somebody wants me to go sub-6. Right? Now, all I have to do is my part.

and I will...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Capitulation

Last night, I surrendered. It doesn't come easy to me. This giving up, but that is what I did.

After my race on Saturday, I had a long bike ride on Sunday. Liz said that I could do three hours if I wanted, but 2.5 hours was OK. I wasn't really happy with my long ride from Monday. There to fore, I decided to give the three hours a go and see if I could hit 56 miles again.

On the way out, it was apparent that my legs were less than a hundred percent, which was to be expected. I kept it Zone 1 for a while, crept up into Zone 2, then held it steady there. For a brief period of time, I allowed my HR to creep into Zone 3, and no. That group of triathletes I blew past from the Atlanta Tri Club had nothing to do with it. When I ran out of steam near the turn around, they re-passed me like I was standing still.

The way back was mostly steady Zone 2. I didn't quite negative split the ride, coming in about 3 minutes over, but I was happy with that. I made it to Jimmy's soccer game on time then got to spend dinner with my father and step-mother who were in town for the weekend.

Monday was special. With all the soccer tournaments, I've had to take my rest day on the weekend and use Monday to make it up. Having Monday off this week was just awesome.

I waited until the end of the day Tuesday to do my long run of the week. The plan was to spend the first thirty minutes building from Zone 1 to Zone 2, then 45 minutes building from Zone 2 to Zone 3, then everything I got for the last 15.

Everything was fine through the first part of the workout. I ran down the hill and over to Hobgood Park where its relatively flat. When I started to ramp up in to Zone 3, my legs really started hurting. After four loops of the park, I got really really bored and decided to take a different tack. I ran down to the entrance of my hood, up the hill on the other side and onto the flat mile stretch of road where I do my bike intervals. Was able to hold Zone 3 for the full two miles out and back. By the time I got back, my legs felt like I was at the end of the run in a half Ironman! I still had two miles to get home, and two big hills to tackle to boot.

I held Zone 3 to the base of the hill, about 1.5 miles from home, then used a combination of run/walk to finish up the run. I walked into the house, sat down in my chair, and surrendered. I was a beaten man. These last two to three weeks have really kicked my ass. Taking on soccer matches to ref was probably not a good idea, but a man does what a man has to do.

Physically, my body is exhausted, but I know it will recover strong and be ready for race day. Mentally, I am glad these long training days are a thing of the past. I am ready to get this race done and over with. Not to fear. This is not a negative attitude. Just relief and a sense of "it's time to get on with it".

Bring on the taper. Let's get'er done...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hidden In the Numbers

A Hot Lips Hustle 5K Race Report

ALL ABOARD (THE SMILE TRAIN)!!!

{queue Ozzy}

I look forward to this race every year. It was, after all, my first, and I think that as long as I live in Georgia, and this race goes off, I will be there.

Sleeping until 6:15-ish on race morning is awesome. I didn't sleep all that great, but not too shabby either. I jumped up, got dressed, and headed downstairs to eat my breakfast. Dee Dee mosied down the stairs fifteen minutes later. I was actin all cool and stuff, totally peeved that she wasn't taking this oresomest race day serzly...

Out the door by 6:50 AM. We ARE RUNNING LATE. I hate running late. It's get me all nervous and irritated, and I'm not talkin IBS here. Lucky for me, my time estimation skillz are lacking, and arrived at the race site ROT (right on time). As we are pulling into the parking lot, Dee Dee sez, There's Sarah's car!

Coolio! Ms. Sarah would be joining us today! We were a bit early. I nabbed a good parking spot, specially designed for a quick exit. Dee Dee and I wandered over to the tables to pick up our race numbers. Sarah found us, and we spent a few minutes chit chatting. We all got "hot lips" tattoos. The girls put theirs on their cheeks. I opted to put mine in the "Ironman" spot on the back of my left calf.

The race course for the HLH heads across Sandy Plains and down Ebeneezer for 1.55 miles before turning around and heading back. The nice thing about this is that you can warm up by running down Sandy Plans. My warm consisted of thirty minutes with some pick ups in there to get the muscles firing. As I ran, marveled at the coolness of the air and the ease with which I was breathing. I knew it was going to be a fabulous day. On the way back to the church, I passed Sarah on her warm up. I had a few minutes left on mine, so I ran back out to meet her then ran her back in. We found Dee Dee and another friend, Jenn, who was there to do her first 5K. We had about 8 minutes to the race start. I fired up the Garmin and watched it vainly try to locate the satellites. With just a few minutes to race start, it finally locked on. I said good bye to the girls and moved up towards the front of the pack.

The race announcer counted off the time, and we were off. Nothing fancy here. No starting gun. No chips. Just a bunch of people out to have some fun. My strategy for this race was pretty simple. Build to the first mile, then give it everything I got. The problem with this strategy is that the out portion of the race is a net downhill, not much mind you, but down hill, and it can be deceiving. I glanced at my Garmin 205 every once in a while to make sure I wasn't blowing myself out. I was a bit concerned to see an 8 minute pace, but like I said, I was going down hill slightly. I held back and watched my pace clime to 8:20, then 8:45. I smiled and held the effort there.

I doubt my face expressed my concern when I crossed the first mile marker in 8:20. That was a bit fast. I was shooting for something more like a nine minute first mile. The problem was, I felt wonderful. I opened up. As I poured on the speed, I kept waiting and waiting for that heaving "I can't breath" feeling to come. I glanced at the Garmin again and saw a 7:15 pace and was taken aback.

This is almost too easy, I thought to myself.

At the turn around, I was not fooling myself. I knew that the return trip was net up hill and I was going to have to push. Several times as I struggled, my pace dropped to nine minute miles, but as soon as I crested the hill, I picked it back up again. I resisted the urge to walk. My legs felt strong. My lungs were working just fine. Push!! I gently reminded myself that coach wanted me to toss my cookies. I, however, wanted to make sure I did it after the race and not during. :-)

As I ran past the school, I knew the end was near. This year, the race got smart, and they moved the finish line on this side of Sandy Plains. The police officers directing traffic did not have to stop the cars for the runners to finish. Very smart! I kicked it up and ran hard to the finish, crossing in 25:35. Not a PR for me, but fabulous effort. The race went so smoothly. I almost couldn't believe it was over.

I grabbed a gatorade and went back to the finish line to cheer in the chicas. Jenn came in first. She looked awesome and had a great time for her first 5K. Jenn was followed by Sarah. Sarah was using the race as a TT for her coach, and I could see the great effort she was making on her face as she ran to the finish line. I lurved it!! Congratulations on your PR Sarah! You nailed it...

Sarah, Dee Dee, Jenn

We hung around after the race for a little while, cooling down, eating a few snacks, and talking. It was great to get to hang out and not have to rush off. After the awards ceremony started, we said our good byes and slipped away.

When we got home, I plugged the Garmin in and downloaded my data from the race. I was curious to see how well I had executed our race plan. During the first few minutes of the race, my HR climbed into the 168 to 171 range. This roughly corresponds to the very bottom of Zone 4 for me. I held it there until the first mile marker. After kicking it in, my HR climbed into the 177-182 range, which I held for the next 17.5 minutes. That's comfortably in Zone 5b for me. This just floored me. I just didn't feel like I was working that hard.



I am very very pleased with this race effort. While I didn't PR, my RPE and heart rate numbers show that I am learning something from this speed work I have been performing. When Wes learns something, Wes is a happy camper! and back to back awesome races is nothing to sneeze at either!

Congratulations to Jenn for finishing her first 5K! We now have something in common :-) and anytime I can help bring a smile to a child's face, its a win-win situation for everybody!

Wes

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

I am surprised that the wounds are still so raw and painful.

The pictures of The Jumpers makes my blood run cold.

Revenge is mine, sayeth the Lord.

Dear Lord, let me be the tool of thine hand...

I am your worst enemy.

I never forget.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Reaffirmations

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. It pretty much means the summer time fun is over around here, and it's time to get ready for all. Labor Day in Atlanta means one thing for this family. Soccer! The Atlanta Cup is held every year on this weekend, and most years, over 700 teams come to play.

My oldest, Jimmy, was playing in the tournament, and I signed up to referee at his venue in between games. Anytime I sign up to ref a tournament, I have to juggle my training schedule around. I feel obligated to do this myself and never really ask coach for help.

Friday night, Dee Dee was up and down all night, and I slept like crap. The games Saturday went fine, but I wasn't all that pleased with my performance in the center (I had one center and two lines). I managed to sneak off to the gym later that night and get my swim on: 2700 yards in a little over 52 minutes. I was cruising, despite the sore legs. I slept really well Saturday night (duh!) and was back at the fields for Jimmy's 8 AM start. After Jimmy won his game, I had two more matches to ref, one line and one center. I could just tell something was off, and my experience here this weekend just left a bad taste in my mouth. Managing a match with 19 year olds is never easy, but it wasn't really about them, it was me.

The rest of Sunday was rest and recovery. I had a nice long nap, ate dinner, then went to bed. I actually slept in till 7 AM on Monday. I'm still wondering when I'm actually going to get to sleep in. The first wave in my age group doesn't go off until 8:45 AM at Augusta. Maybe I'll sleep in on race day :-) Anywho, I was out on the bike by 9 AM for my race simulation brick. I rode 56 miles in a little over 3 hours on very tired legs, followed up by spinning my legs out easy for a mile or so. I was very happy with this. My 45 minute run afterwards was blah, but this was expected. My legs had had enough for the weekend.

I think, next year, I will need to choose one or the other. I'm getting too old to do both ;-) hahaha! Truthfully, its true. My body is reaffirming this as it is the respect I have for both the half iron and iron distance races. These past two weeks have restored a healthy respect for all that is Iron and what it takes to get there.

At the last minute, I decided to toss my Grip Removable Chamois in the mix for my ride. This experience, too, reaffirmed that this little jewel is the best thing since sliced bread. My hiney lurves it :-)

Have a great week, y'all!

Wes

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Letting Go

Most people go to the assignors class with a club for which to actually... assign. Not I. I am an assignor at large. A king without a castle. I went because I wanted to broaden my horizon and learn how to schedule games.

We executed a few skits where we acted out confrontational issues assignors face doing their job. I had to handle an irate coach. When the skit was finished, I was commended on my ability to disarm the coach with what my instructor said was brutal honesty. Those of you who know me here and in real life know that there are two things you can count on with me. I do what I say I am going to do, and I am honest to a fault.

I've been questioned about what I write on this blog and Facebook. My openness is blunt and startling to some people. The way I see it, even with this information, you have no power over me. Don't get me wrong. I lurve you all, but that doesn't give you any power over me. It is my choice. Being honest.

In past blog posts, I've talked about my brush with alcoholism and obesity. Week after week, year after year, I would drink a bottle of gin over a couple of days, smoke a few packs of cigarettes, repeat till I got sick. I let myself go. As soon as I was feeling better, I would repeat the cycle. I got larger and larger. Drunker and drunker. Until one day, I didn't get sick anymore, and the cycle was broken.

That's when the acid reflux started. I knew there was something wrong. My throat didn't heal. For the next five years, I battled reflux on a daily, no, an hourly basis. My nose ran constantly. I was constantly having to clear my throat. Some of my employers moved me into a closet so I wouldn't disturb the other people. I went from bad, to worse, to manageable.

Finally, finally(!), it happened. More than five years later, I got sick again. Yea, that's right. What ever was wrong with my throat seemed to protect me from strep, flu, colds, everything. I hadn't been sick in five plus years. Once I got to feeling better, I noticed that I was no longer refluxing at night. My nose still runs, but much of the time, it is almost normal. I'm not ready to celebrate yet. I've been through all this before. This time just feels different. I'm hoping, and praying, that I've finally beat this, and its not going to be with me for the rest of my life. I wouldn't wish this experience on my worst enemy.

One of the pluses of this whole experience and being a triathlete is that I have finally let go of the drinking. I still have a beer every now and then, but its been three months (or more) since I've had a mixed drink. In case you don't follow me on Facebook, Dee Dee and I went out last night and really tied one on. I just needed to get totally smashed, and I almost succeeded. Dee Dee had a good time. She was worshiping the porcelain goddess this morning.

Do I look at this as a step backwards? The short answer is no. Everybody needs to blow off stress and rebalance their life. I needed this time to right a few things in my mind. Sometimes, the only way to hold onto something is to let it go.

Being honest.

Wes