Thursday, October 28, 2010

Worlds Apart

Let’s get the important stuff out of the way first.  I knew you’d like that.  Let me introduce you to my new bike.


Her name is “Aerowyn’s Haint”.  From the Urban Dictionary:

Southern colloquialism def., ghost, apparition, lost soul

I really don’t want to invoke Aerowyn’s memory in perpetuity on this blog, so she will also be referred to as “The Great White Haint”, and just Haint, for short.  She is a sweet sweet ride, and I can’t thank my friends enough for helping me to acquire her.

After spending some time with her on the Silver Comet this past weekend, I was excited to try her out on the flatness that is Columns Drive.  I still have to get there from work, and that involves a lot of 12-13 mph sashaying through the park.  Once I hit the road, however, it was game on.  The wind was fierce, but Haint and I were notching up some impressive miles in the 21-22 mph range.  I was very happy with this.  After getting back to the office, I capped the workout off with a short thirty minute run off.

Wednesday, it was back in the pool for a short-ish workout.  Time constraints limited me to around 2500 yards, even though I wanted to get in 2800 or so.  At this point, the extra 300 yards don’t mean much, so I jettisoned them with a clear conscience.  It was a nice swim though, and it helped me recover from my four mile run that morning.  I went barefoot for the first time in my K-swiss K-ona C shoes, and it worked out fairly well.  There’s just a little bit of irritation on my left foot, second smallest toe.  Something is scratching it.

That night, I had a hard time sleeping.  It was almost like I was doing a race or sumfin.  I was up at 2 AM, 3:30 AM, 4:45, until finally, I gave up and got out of bed.  The alarm was going off at 5:15 AM anyways.  I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get ready to run.  After eating breakfast and prepping, I was out the door at 6 AM.

My body was not ready to run this morning.  The cereal and yogurt sat heavily in my belly, and the glass(es) of wine I drank the night before had me feeling sluggish.  The temperatures were already in the 60’s, and the air was heavy with moisture.  Dee Dee had mentioned that a thunderstorm had passed through at 3 AM.

I followed the same route as my last long run, with one exception.  I added a 1+ mile loop up to and around Hobgood Park.  My supa-secret goal was to do 17 miles in 3 hours.  Last Ironman, my longest training run was 16 miles or so in 3 hours.  A “longer” long run would prove that my training was on track, and my fitness was ahead of where I was last time.

My ankles and feet were feeling pretty sore, and my right heel twinged me a couple of times on the way out.  Still, I felt pretty good on the way out.  I ran through some really tall grass (wheat? LOL) and got pretty wet near the turn around.  This, of course, led to the inevitable chaffing in sensitive places.  I really really need to be smarter than that and use the Body Glide!

Being my third run in a row, I felt that my legs would really start hurting sooner, rather than later.  Yet, I managed to maintain my pace all the way back to the hills outside my neighborhood.  At that point, if you know me, all pace goes go to hell in a hand basket.  Overall, I finished the run in 2:58:50.  This included running back and forth in front of my house to get to 17 miles :-)

I am very very pleased with this run.  Not only did I reach my goal, but I’m not nearly as trashed as I was after my last long run.  I think there’s some kind of barrier in the 14-16 mile range that, once broken, makes the longer runs easier.  Unlike my bike goal (85 miles in 4.5 hours), this goal was based on past experience, and what I can do and have done, rather than what I would like to do without in rational on which to base it.

Long swim tomorrow.  Huge brick on Saturday.  Some kind of recovery day Sunday.  Then, it’s taper time.  Thank God!  :-)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fizzle, fo schizzle

I had one more opportunity to meet my goal of hitting 85 miles on my long 4.5 hour Saturday ride, and I failed, ignominiously, I might add.  I made it down to the Silver Comet Trail with every intention of giving it my all, but I guess my all just wasn’t good enough.

It was still pretty cold as I pulled out of the trail head, a little warmer than last time, but way colder than I am used too.  I fully expected to stop on the way back and remove the tights and the arm warmers.  At my first check point, I was not any further ahead than my normal Saturday rides, and this was to prove true the rest of the way out as well.  I really didn’t even push myself out past the tunnel at the 31 mile marker.  It’s all downhill into Rockmart, and I just don’t want to get too far ahead of myself and be “late” coming back.

There’s a part of me that is a huge digits person, and I struggle with balancing the needs of the workout with my needs to justify the numbers.  That’s why I decided to turn around at the 39.565 mark, when my two hours and fifteen minutes were up. On this day, following the plan was more important than reaching some trumped up goal or mile marker.

On the way back, I passed the last check point five minutes behind schedule.  I kicked it in and managed to recover four of those minutes by the time I reached the trail head.  My ego just would not have been able to handle a positive split AND not reaching my 85 mile goal.  There’s always some silver lining somewhere :-)  I’ve always thought of the Silver Comet Trail as being primarily flat, with the notable exception of the long downhill/uphill outside of Rockmart.  I was somewhat surprised to see that there was over 3000 feet of climbing on my 80 mile route, and that too has to be good for something!

Sunday morning, I was up bright and early for my second ride of the weekend.  I thought the Bud Plant 48 would be a nice ride, and the hills would make me work a little harder than I wanted to.  The temperatures were much much more comfortable for this ride, than my last ride in the evening on Aerowyn.  I did the same 48 mile loop as last time, but I did it 4 minutes faster and with an average heart rate 12 beats less.  Not sure what to make of that, but either the new bike is a better ride, or I was in better shape this time.  I’m thinking it may be a little bit of both.

My two adult soccer matches Sunday night just about did me in.  I slept in until 8:30 AM on Monday, and I woke up feeling groggy, and my head was full of cotton.  I decided to just take the day off.  By Monday night, the headache had returned in time for Matthew’s soccer match.  I’ve been working hard to control this with proper nutrition and ibuprofen.  Now is not the time to get sick.  I wasn’t able to fall back asleep this morning after Dee Dee left for work.  There’s just so much to do.  Once my mind is awake, it refuses to go back to sleep.

OK.  Enough whinage.  My focus this week is on my health, my long run on Wednesday, and my race simulation on Saturday.  Four weeks and counting.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Ye of Little Faith

The new bike came in Monday afternoon at 4:30 PM.  It arrived at the office where I was waiting for it, patiently.  I don't usually work from the office on Monday, but this was important.  The door had hardly closed before I was dragging the box down the hall ways towards the elevator.  If everything was to proceed as planned, I needed to be in Roswell, GA for my fitting by 5:30 PM.

Curtis is a master virtuoso when it comes to cycles.  Despite a non-cooperative seat post, he had the bike assembled and fitted in about an hour and a half.  We still need to cut down the aero bars, but we'll save that for another day.  I spent the next two hours driving out and back from Grayson, GA, dropping off the loaner bike.  Brian!  You totally saved me.  I spent 230 miles on your bike.  That would have been a huge hole in my training plan.  These things we do not forget.

I got to ride the new bike on Tuesday during lunch.  She handled pretty much the same as Aerowyn did, except she was a bit lighter, faster, and zippier.  She climbed the same too.  I liked the way the loaner bike climbed.  I'm thinking I need a compact crank on the new bike, but not for Ironman Arizona.  I'll save that for some other time.  I only rode for about an hour, in anticipation of a fast paced U-17 boys soccer match I had on the schedule that night.  I wanted to be in good shape for the game.

and it was hard.  I had gotten comfortable reffing the adults, but the kids played with such speed, and they were willing to foul ALL THE TIME.  It was tough trying to find a happy medium between allowing play to continue and stopping the game to make a point.  I gave out no cards during the game, but at the end of the game, I was frustrated.  I don't like feeling frustrated, but it comes with the territory of being a referee.

My Wednesday swims always feel sooooo good on my legs.  Dee Dee had to work, there to fore, if I wanted to get my training in, I would have to get up at 4:30 AM and get my swim on, then run at Matthew's practice.  The swim went fine.  I had a little trouble holding race pace at the end, but that's to be expected I guess.  I've been working hard.  I used my run at Matthew's practice to loosen up the sore spots in my legs.  It's perfectly flat where Matthew practices.  I kept a steady pace and allowed my legs to work  themselves out.  I'm still struggling with this pain in my right heel.  So far, it hasn't kept me from running.  It's just something that I am aware of, pretty much the entire time I run.

Long run day arrived.  I woke up feeling tired and sore.  I tried to remember how my training went at this point in 2008, attempting to justify my curtailing my long run for the day.  Upon further review, I confirmed that my long run times and distances were steadily increasing.  Other, canned triathlon plans I had showed the same pattern.  I resigned myself to getting'er done.  Some motivational reading from Runner's World helped.

At 5:20 PM or so, I geared up and got out the door.  It was a glorious evening in my neck of the woods.  Not a cloud was in the sky, and the temps were perfect, which was a good thing.  While I remembered my fuel belt, I forgot to bring money to buy a refill.  As I often do when my resolve is in doubt, I planned an out and back route, that way, I couldn't cheat :-)  As far as pace goes, I decided to just let me legs do what ever they felt like on the hilly course.  Time on my feet was what mattered.

I always use the first mile for my warm up, keeping the pace to something reasonable.  After that, I settled into a pace that was in the 10:15-10:30 min per mile.  Over the first four miles, I run up four hills, one of which is almost half a mile in length.  I was pleased that I was able to hold my pace.  After the fourth hill, I had a stretch of flat to rolling where my pace dropped into the 10:00-10:15 range.  Miles 6-7.5 were downhill, which was welcome at this point.  Up to this point, my legs were feeling pretty good.  I didn't let it go to my head though.

On the way back, I started out with a strong 1.5 mile climb. Near the end, I kicked it up to a sub-9 pace to make the traffic light.  I hate running with traffic.  The cars startle me.  It was starting to get darker.  I was happy that my cadence was in the 86+ range.  This is huge for a guy that routinely runs at a cadence of 80-82.  Miles 9-12 were sub-10.  Yes!  I was holding up just fine!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the teen-age girls in the pickup truck.  As they were exiting the Walmart parking lot, they yelled at me that I was "looking good".  LOL...

With three miles or so to go, I was determined to hold pace for the next two miles.  I had no confidence nor desire to run a sub-10 mile up the hills by my house.  My legs were really starting to hurt now, but my cadence was over 88.  The legs were practically running of their own accord.

At the 14th mile, the Garmin beeped.  A car pulled up beside me, and I heard a whistle.  It was Dee Dee.  She asked me if I was going to make it.  "I'm going to get there!", I replied.

That last mile hurt.  Mount Doom and Ass-kicker did their dirty work, and I exercised all the power of my mind to keep running to the house.  I arrived at 2:35:00, well ahead of my planed 2:45:00.  I spent the next 5 minutes or so, jogging and walking to cool down.  All in all, I ran 15.3 miles at a 10:28 pace.  This was very satisfying for me, and a huge confidence boost.  I should have known this.

I've decided on a name for the bike.  Right now, it's a closely guarded secret.  Only three people know.  As soon as I get a good pic of us together, I'll get it posted.

Have a great weekend, y'all!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Big Bike Week

Poor, poor Aerowyn…  I had plans for her.  Once Dee Dee and I managed to come up for air, I would purchase a better (note:  not “real”, as Aerowyn was more a tri-bike than half of the bikes you’ll see at most races) tri-bike and turn Aerowyn back into a roadie.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  Aerowyn has been salvaged for parts and now sits in some lonely dumpster somewhere.

After my long ride on Monday, I managed to sneak in a fitting with my most expert ever-ist bike guru Curtis at The Sports Factory.  We had discussed the possibility of fitting me to the 54 cm bike, and we had agreed that we would give it our best shot.  After maxing out the seat height and putting in an extended stem, it was obvious that the bike was just too small.  This was a total bummer for me, cuz the bike is such a sweet ride. 

I took the bike home and emailed Brian, explaining to him that I would not be purchasing his bike.  He graciously agreed to let me keep it over the weekend, while I figured out what I was going to do.  This helped tremendously with my ability to keep up with my training.

With my first century of the year in the books, I was totally focused on recovery, in anticipation of doing my longest run of the year on Thursday.  Dee Dee took care of parenting responsibilities so that I could get my long run in after work.  Have I mentioned that she’s singularly awesome?

Despite feeling a little iffy, I wanted to push myself a bit and enjoy the awesomeness that is the flatness of the Chattahoochee Park.  I decided to separate my runs into 4 mile intervals, increasing my pace as I went.  What every time I had left, I would just run at whatever pace I felt like.  My average mile splits came in at 10:30, 10:15, and 10:00 minute miles respectively.  That’s a solid run for me, and I managed 14 miles in total.

I won’t bore you with the details, but Friday’s long swim was accomplished at 8:00 PM at night.  I was definitely starting to feel tired, and I struggled to hold race pace for my 6x400 meter intervals.  I got it done though, and that is what counts. Consistency.

Saturday morning, Dee Dee got up at 4:30 AM to get ready for work, as she usually does, only this time, I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I finally surrendered at 6:00 AM.  I got up, made coffee and ate breakfast.  I wanted to get out onto the Silver Comet Trail by 9 AM-ish or so in order to make it back to the house in time to take Matthew to his game.  Temperatures were hovering in the low 40’s, and I was undecided what to wear.  I finally settled on tights, arm warmers, and two shirts.  It was supposed to warm up into the 60’s.  I decided that if I was gonna be too cold for the first part of the ride, then so be it.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful.  I got a bit cold and wind burned on my face and lips.  With the loaner bike, I managed to push myself out to the forty mile mark before turning around and heading home.  It’s funny that my Garmin keeps a more accurate account of the mileage on my wrist than it ever did mounted on the stem.  I felt that familiar bonk feeling in my legs about 8-10 miles from home, so I knew the ride was a good one.  I did 80 miles in 4.5 hours.  Still, I’m a bit short of my goal of getting to 85 miles in the same time frame.

Fortunately for me, Sunday was destined to be a bit warmer.  I was able to ditch the tights and the arm warmers at the half way mark.  I rode out to the lake past the twenty-five mile marker, cuz that’s where the Garmin tells me the 25 mile point is.  I decided to go ahead and turn around there, rather than riding the extra 4-5 minutes to get to 1.5 hours.  I should have gone ahead and done it.

At the Tara Drummond Trail Head, I stopped to use the facilities, eat, and fill my water bottle.  A very tall older gentleman pulled into the trail head as I was wrapping up.  I had spoken to him on the way out, but his long legs and superior pace left me behind.  He told me that he had pushed out too hard and that he would ride back with me.  After riding together for about five miles, I introduced myself.  He said his name was Bob.

It was great having company for the return trip.  Bob pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself, but obviously we kept it within my limits.  We came home 15 minutes faster than we went out.  At one point, there’s a downhill portion of the trail near the end, and Bob took off and I got in behind his admittedly huge draft :-)  I looked at my Garmin and we were pushing 26 mph for a mile or so.  What a blast that was!  At the end of the trail, we said our good byes and he split off to his car, and I to mine.

Four hours of reffing soccer wrapped up a 21+ hour training week for me.  That’s huge, but most of it was admittedly bike time.  I swam twice, ran three times, and biked three times.  My bike mileage topped out at 230 miles for the week.

It’s hard for me to believe that I am five weeks out from the big day now.  Two more big weeks, then the taper begins.  I still have much work to do!

Happy Monday, peeps!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An EPIC Wes-ism

While it's true, I'm not following a specific "canned" training plan, I do have my basic week, which provides me with guidance as to what work outs I am doing on which day of the week.  All I have to do is fill in the blanks of time and intensity.  The only exceptions to this rule are my BIG TRAINING DAYS/race simulations.  I have two of those, four and six weeks out from my race, respectively.  I was all prepared for a big weekend.  Friday, I would do 4200 yards in the pool.  Then, Saturday, I would ride my bike 112 miles and then run for an hour, practicing my pacing and nutrition along the way.

Sometime Thursday afternoon, the assignor from my local Soccer club called and begged me to do a game Sunday, which I agreed to do.  As often happens in my enthusiasm to help, I didn't check my schedule.  Matthew had a soccer match Sunday at 1 PM.  Since Saturday was a big training day, I would end up missing both of his games.  I felt like such a CAD, but I had accepted the match, and I couldn't back out now.  Thanks to a very supportive wife, I made peace with my decision.

On Friday, I found out that my office had Monday off for Columbus Day.  I immediately got excited, and the wheels started turning.  I could do my EPIC training day on Monday.  I would just need to move a few things around and come up with some kind of training for Saturday.  I decided on a fifty mile bike on Saturday, reffing three soccer games on Sunday, and then my big day Monday.  The plan was set.

It was up and at'em early Saturday to make breakfast for Matthew and Dee Dee before leaving for South Forsyth.  Matthew's team played a great game of soccer on a spectacular day and ended up in a tie, one to one. It was almost two by the time we had lunch and made the trip home.  I hurriedly packed up my gear and decided at the last minute to do the 48 mile loop at the Bud Plant in Cartersville.  I had the route on my Garmin and was pretty sure it would be a satisfactory workout, but, hopefully, not too taxing.

I was one of the only cyclists in the parking lot when I arrived.  Evidently, the afternoons is not that popular for cyclists in Cartersville.  The ride went well.  It was moderately hard, but I kept up with my nutrition and hydration, and at the end, I felt fairly well, confident that I would be fine for the rest of my big weekend.  As I pulled out of the parking lot, I felt like I had forgotten something.  I looked back to where I had parked to make sure nothing was on the ground, like my Garmin.  I stopped at the four way stop on the way out and checked my bag.  Nope.  Everything twas there.

Travelling down the interstate, I'm toodling along, minding my own business.  As I often do, I look out the rear-view mirror, and there's my bike, cart wheeling through the air about 25 feet off the ground.  Holy sh%t!!!  I almost slammed on my brakes, but the 18 wheeler behind me insisted I keep moving.  I pulled off at the next interchange and headed back north, hoping to find my bike, somewhat intact, in the median.  Unfortunately for me, it was lying partially in the north bound lane, and it looked like somebody had run over it.  It was a total loss.

I was just heartbroken when I called Dee Dee on the phone.  I threw the remains in the back of the SUV and drove home.  I got a good laugh when I described to Dee Dee what happened.  Aerowyn wasn't worth much from a monetary stand point, but to me, she was irreplaceable and worth the world.  That thing I had forgotten at the Bud plant?  Yea, fasten the straps on the rack.  I've managed to invent some rather creative bouts of stupidity, but this one really takes the cake.

That night, I got in touch with an old friend that isn't racing  triathlon anymore.  I asked him if he might consider selling me his bike.  It's a bit small for my size. He agreed to let me get it fitted before making a go/no-go decision.  I retrieved the bike early Sunday morning, then spent the rest of the afternoon reffing soccer matches. The two night matches were assessments, and I definitely got my running in!  I spent Sunday night making a few adjustments to the bike in preparation for my Monday ride.

Monday morning, I made it to the trail around 10-ish, and I was off and riding by 10:30 AM.  I did two 12.5 mile out and backs, just in case the bike wasn't working out for me.  Let me tell you, my friend's tri bike is a sweet ride.  It climbed like a champ and was such a pleasure to ride.  I decided for the second fifty miles, I would do a 25 mile out and back.  That way, I couldn't cop out or anything.  When I got back to the car, I felt much much better than ANY of my 100 mile rides I did on Aerowyn, despite having put 150 miles on my legs in three days.  Even my 30 minute run off went well.

A special shout out and thanks to Brian for letting me borrow his bike.  I told Dee Dee that it would be OK with me if we just canned the Ironman, but she's not letting me off the hook :-)  And I'm not worried about finding a bike with which to do the race.  With friends and family like I have, those kinds of challenges just aren't a problem.

Now, if I could just find my head...


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Breaking (it) up is hard to do

First things first...  DC Rainmaker is giving away a Timex Global Trainer over at his place.  Head on over and leave a comment so that you can get in on the action.

After my race on Sunday, I've had to gently ease myself back into serious training.  In the spirit of recovery, I took Monday off completely.  I wanted to swim, but at the end of the day, rest was probably the best thing for me.  I waited all day for Teh Bug to decide if she was going to do a 5K on Saturday before finally settling on my training schedule for the week.  I swam on Tuesday.  Then, due to time constraints, I ended up on the trainer that night for my ride.  I settled on an hour endurance workout, simulating a small hill ride, and that was perfect for my aching muscles.

This weekend, I have my second Ironman simulation ride.  I'll be doing 112 miles on the bike, and following this up with an hour run.  As such, I thought it a good idea to move my long run from Thursday to Wednesday.  The only problem was that Matthew has soccer practice on Wednesday, and Dee Dee has to work.  There just wasn't a time slot in which I could squeeze a full 2+ hour run.  Hindsight is 20/20, and in truth, I probably didn't need to run 2+ hours, but TIMES A WASTING!

I got up at quarter to 5 AM with Dee Dee and headed out on my normal route for an hour run.  I managed a ten minute per mile pace.  I've had this thing going on with my right heel, and I've been very careful not to aggravate it further.  So far so good.  It did not LIKE the cold though.  I haven't run outside in the cold for a while now, and 45 degree temps definitely called for something other than short sleeves.  Rather than go with two layers, I wore a single long sleeve tech shirt.  It took me 1.5 miles to warm up, but after that, it proved to be the perfect decision.  I was home in time to eat breakfast and get Matthew off to school.

On the way home from work, I swung by school and picked up Matthew.  Together, we stopped by the grocery store for a birfday dinner for my oldest daughter.  I cooked up a mess of hamburgers, french fries, pork-n-beans, and potato salad.  What a fine birthday feast it was!

It was getting dark at Matthew's practice when we arrived.  Fortunately for me, the area he practices in is entirely flat.  It took me a few minutes to shake off the soreness in my legs, but my sub-10 pace bolstered my confidence.  My legs felt strong on the run, and I questioned the wisdom of splitting my long run.  No need to worry about it at this point.  It was done.  This is what life had to offer me for the day, and I jump in it :-)

The run went well.  The new K-Swiss K-ona Cs are working out fine.  My legs weren't quite as tired as if I had done a long run straight, but lesson learned.

Currently, I'm in this training block where my specific race preparation is sandwiched between Ironman race simulations.  It's going to be a long four weeks.  This is where the rubber meets the road.


Monday, October 04, 2010

The Separation of Swim, Bike, and Run

A Cohutta Springs Triathlon Race Report

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the Georgia Forum at Beginner's Triathlete, when I came across a reference to this triathlon.  I hadn't really given it much thought since the last time I had raced it, almost three years ago.  After checking my schedule, it became quickly apparent that this race fit perfectly into my plans.  Well...  It didn't exactly fit my current training profile, but from a timing stand point, it was perfect.  The race fell on the last day of a recovery week.  I really really wanted to do another 70.3, but scheduling and the monetary situation just wasn't working out.  Cohutta Springs is $45.00.  That beats the heck out of most races, and a 12:30 PM starting time is just the icing on the cake!!

In the spirit of not taking this race too seriously, I drank copious amounts of beer during the later half of the week.  Oh yeeeauzzz...  I was playing Russian roulette with my GI system.  I decided to go ahead and get out of bed at 6:30 AM on Sunday to bake a quiche for breakfast and get my stuff ready to go.  I had laid it all out on the table the previous night.  I love packing for a sprint.  Other than shoes, helmets, and race clothes, you just don't need much :-)

We left  for Crandall, GA at 9:00 AM.  It was rather nippy outside, with a strong wind blowing.  I was pretty sure the high for the day was going to be around 70.  The cold weather surprised me a bit, as did the GPS when it reported 85 miles to my destination.  Dee Dee and I took our time driving up.  We made one stop and still arrived at the race site two hours before the start.  The conference center is located at the end of a little country road.  We missed it on our first pass, despite my having been there before.

Cohutta Springs is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Based on the number of cars in the field, more than a few people had arrived early for the race.  Dee Dee and I found a parking spot and unpacked the car.  I decided to rack my bike before getting my race packet.  There were quite a few end spots available, and I wanted to snag one.  Packet pick up was quick and painless.  Then, it was back to transition to setup for the race.

I finished setting up my space around 11:30 AM.  I sat down on my towel in front of my bike and watched the rest of the athletes.  There was a good mix of seasoned triathletes and new racers.  Three young kids had racked their bikes next to me.  Dee Dee and I listened in on their conversation while we waited.  One of them had never done a triathlon, and he had actually signed up for the race on Wednesday.  He and his friend had borrowed a skiing wet suit, one with cut off arms and legs, while their third friend had a full length wet suit of some kind.  It definitely was not a tri wet suit.  Their parents and grand parents were hovering over them like protective hens, making sure they had water, and their bikes were set up properly.  It was quite the show.

Dee Dee and I wandered down to the swim start to check out the lake.  The water was actually warmer than the air.  The buoys weren't in a straight line this year.  That wasn't a problem for me.  It's funny how half a mile doesn't look like its that far anymore :-)

The pre-race meeting went off at 11:45 AM.  Fortunately, I could hear the announcements just fine from my spot in transition AND from the port-o-potty.  I had been grazing pretty much all day.  For breakfast, I had quiche.  I ate some donuts on the way up, and at 12:15 PM, I ate an energy bar.  Due to my race weight, I had no issues slipping into my Neosport sprint wet suit.  I was spot on with my nutrition for this race.  I never once felt hungry or weighed down.

Dee Dee and I walked down the swim start again.  A young man, all of 12-14 years of age, was wearing a blue wet suit with more wrinkles than water logged hands.  I felt for sure he was going to drown in that thing.  He was not the only one.  Every conceivable kind of wet suit made its presence felt this day.  I honestly didn't laugh.  I was more worried than tickled.

When they announced the first wave, I gave Dee Dee a kiss and got into line.  I was in the second wave of men in the 40-49 years of age.  There weren't that many people in the first wave, maybe twenty or so.  I was hoping my wave would be the same size, but I'm thinking there was quite a few more.  I had opted not to warm up at all for this race.  It was just too cold to get in a pre-swim, and I figured I would warm my legs up while swimming anyways.  As the first wave got underway, they called my wave down to the water.

check out the "assortment" of wet suits :-)

Feeling the need to get acclimated immediately, I dunked myself under the water.  Once my body had settled in a little bit, I stuck my face into the water.  One of the nice things about Cohutta Springs is that the water is almost always a nice seventy degrees.  The race director announced a minute, and then what seemed like two minutes later, he announced thirty seconds.  We all got a kick out of that.  Still, soon enough, the horn sounded, and our wave hit the water.

From the bottom, second swim up on the left with the "Be Strong" armband

Everybody took off like a bat out of hell, except for me.  I was actually surprised to be behind so many people.  Rather than panicking and going hypoxic, I kept my pace and latched onto some feet.

I'd like to do this the entire swim, I thought to myself and smiled.

Unfortunately, all good things must end.  Like two minutes later, as a matter of fact :-)  My draftee was tiring and I kept hitting his feet.  I know I don't like this, so I shifted to the side, into open water, and passed him.  If I had followed the buoys, I would have bowed in towards the center of the lake before angling back out to the turn buoy.  Since I opted to start on the far right, it was a straight line down the side of the lake for me.  I found myself drifting too close to shore a few times, and I managed to straighten out and get back on track.

I remember rounding the first turn buoy just thrilled to have finished half the swim so quickly.  In 2007, I felt like it had taken forever.  The top of the box was rather short, and I got mixed up with some of the other swimmers.  One of them managed to heel me in the goggles.  Fortunately for me, it was a glancing blow and no harm was done.

At this point, I'm following the buoy line fairly closely.  I have a couple of swimmers on my right, and I feel another one coming up on my left.  The line angles slightly away from the swim exit.  As we pass the final buoy, I'm swimming side by side with a guy in my age group, wearing a full wet suit.  We bump and match each other stroke for stroke.  Finally, I tire of the battle.  About fifty yards from the swim exit, I surge and put a body length or two on him.  When my fingers brush the ground, I stand up, and find myself at the bottom of the boat ramp.

The boat ramp was two concrete slabs a little bigger than the width of a tire.  I stumble over the uneven ground until my legs finally cooperate.  I made my way up the boat ramp and across the timing mat, third in my age group.  Transition is a hundred yards away.  I managed a slow jog.  When I got to my bike, I stripped off my wet suit, cap, and goggles.  I tried to put on my long sleeve shirt, but my wet body wasn't cooperating.  I knew I was going to regret this.  I tossed my long sleeve shirt on top of my bag.  After putting on my helmet, heart rate monitor, race belt, and shoes, I trotted to the front of transition, mounted my bike, and took off down the road.

Out of the conference center, the road is slightly downhill for the first mile or so.  I'm cruising along at 23 mph, and my heart rate is out of control.  The cool air is cold, but not unbearably so.  From this point, its about a half mile up slightly up hill, until we make a right around a curve where we run into a steep sharp hill.  This leads to more downhill for a short distance, and then a left turn out onto the main road.  I loved this bike course. It's a straight out from here, on a gently rolling course.  There were some hills, not too challenging, just enough to stress your muscles.

I finally got my heart rate under control.  I tried to keep it in a high zone 3, but more often than not, I found it in the middle of zone 4.  Despite my best efforts, I was getting passed quite a bit on the bike.  My thighs, while mostly recovered, were not quite 100%, and I was determined to do my best but not hurt myself in the process.

At the turn around point, I was feeling pretty stressed.  I wanted to do well, but I really wanted to have a good run.  I felt like the return route was going to be kinder.  What I didn't count on was the head wind.  On much of the return trip, I was flying, and the wind in my face was roaring.  From about miles 11-14, I was playing tag with a couple of guys, and the number one female.  They would pass me on the uphills, then I would surge past them on the downhills.  After we did this three times, I made a conscious decision to let them go.  Playing this game with them was not in my plans for the day.

Climbing the reverse side of the steep hill at mile 2 threatened to do me in.  The hill, the head wind, the training, it all took a toll on my legs.  I felt like I was crawling when I finally crested the hill.  I managed to enjoy the short downhill back to the conference center before the final mini-climb into transition.  Dee Dee was waiting for me half way down the drive way, and I managed to give her a smile.

Dee Dee gave me a cheer and told me that she would be waiting for me when I came back on the run.  That's one of the things about this triathlon.  The run course and bike course are merged for the first 1.5 miles or so.  Fortunately, its in a quiet area and very safe.  I hopped off the bike at the dismount line and woggled over to my spot.  I jammed the back of my seat onto the rack, and the ISM Adamo race saddle caught on the specially designed catch.  I took off my shoes, removed my helmet, put on my shoes.  At the last minute, I tossed my sun glasses into my helmet and took off for the run exit.  Why am I always surprised when I have a speedy transition?  It seemed like never had a moment to catch my breath!  Off the bike and onto the run, I went.

Out of transition, I grabbed a cup of water and drank it while running.  As I headed down the slight hill towards Dee Dee, I took an inventory of my body.  The sun had come out.  I was no longer cold.  My thighs were a little sore, but my running legs felt strong.  Without looking at my Garmin, I picked out a strong pace and got moving.  Dee Dee was right where I left here, and she snapped this picture of me on the way out.

Actually, she snapped quite a few pictures.  My favorite was the one of me getting ready to let loose a loogy. I decided not to burden you guys with that one :-)  I took advantage of the slight downhill for the first mile or so to get my running legs back underneath me.  I was amazed at how good they felt.

About a quarter mile from the first aide station, the uphill starts.  For the next half mile, its not too bad.  Still, its net uphill all the way.  I vowed not to let that affect my pace.  About the 1.25 mile mark, I passed my first runner.  Give me a booyah!  This was one of the chicas that I was playing tag with out on the bike.  It was sweet passing her strong.  About two hundred hards from the turn around, its downhill all the way.  They setup another aid station there.  The young people who volunteered for this event were awesome.  I took in more fluids on the run, turned around, and made my way back up the hill.  I heard foot steps behind me.  I was about to get passed by a nineteen year old, one of only two people to pass me for the day.  We talked for a minute, and I joked that this last hill was going to kill me.  The good news was that once we were over the hill, it was pretty much downhill all the way back  to the conference center.

I crested the hill feeling pretty winded.  Having slowed down a little, I picked back up my pace and waited for my body to catch back up with the easier effort.  Once it did, I felt like I was moving along pretty quickly.  I wasn't paying any attention to my Garmin, other than to note that I was squarely in the middle of zone 4 for most of the run, and it didn't bother me one bit.  Back down the hill, past the aide station at mile one.  I had not stopped to walk yet, and once again, I took in liquids on the run.  I think I ended up wearing more than I drank, but it was only water, and I really didn't care.

A left turn at the entrance to the conference center, and I'm working hard up the slight incline to the finish.  There are people actually cheering here, and I hate that my face is grimaced, but I am working hard to hold my pace.  As I enter the final stretch, I hear the announcer.

Here comes another finisher!  Let's give him a big cheer!

I break into a sprint and give the last fifty yards or so everything I have.  At the finish line, I raise my hands in triumph, and...  I forget to look at the clock :-)

Dee Dee picked me up pretty quickly, and we snuck around the side to peek at the clock.  It read 1:52:xx. I knew that my wave started three minutes late.  I was pretty sure I had had a much better race than my last effort, three years ago.

Together, Dee Dee and went to grab some food and drink, and we watched the race results roll in.  When it became apparent that I wasn't going to podium, we packed up our stuff and got back on the road.  It was nice to finally get a race in where I felt like I didn't have to hurry home to some event or another.

In the aftermath of this triathlon, I am on cloud nine.  It's not so much that I blew my last time away.  Three years ago, I did this race for fun, and I had scaled back on my training a lot.  Rather, it has been seldom this year that I have strung together three back to back solid efforts.  It is even rarer for me to find my run.  This day, I found my run.  Here are the digits and my reaction to each:

2007 swim:  16:35
2010 swim:  13:27

I was pretty confident that my swim time would be better.  I could have gone harder, but I wanted a more relaxed pace.  It was great that the digits validated my effort.

2007 T1:  3:39
2010 T1:  2:47

Not too worried about T1.  I was definitely more relaxed last time.  This year, I thought I took a lot longer than I did.  Shows I was getting frustrated for nothing.

2007 Bike:  57:15
2010 Bike:  57:47

I had every intention of just "hanging on" for the bike.  I am ecstatic that my effort was so close to 2007.

2007 T2:  2:21
2010 T2:  1:10

Not worried much about the big gain here.  More ecstatic with the actual digits for 2010.  I rarely have a transition that fast!

2007 Run:  41:15
2010 Run:  32:15

and these are the digits of which I am most proud.  I walked not one step this run.

2007 Total:  2:01:02
2010 Total:  1:47:23

Finishing 8th in my age group?  Icing on the cake.  I'm going to savor this triathlon for a long time.  If everything goes as planned, I will be riding this wave into Ironman Arizona.


Friday, October 01, 2010

Then, we race!

Has it been that long? When Dee Dee and I decided to get into exercising more (and we thought cycling was a good idea), we did what any other good all American family would do. We went to Toys-R-Us and bought us some bicycles! Yes, I know. Walmart never crossed our mind, but it should have! Thirty-five pound steel bikes were just what the doctor ordered...

Once our rides were secured, the next logical step was purchasing equipment to keep us safe and comfortable. Off to Dick's Sporting Goods we went. I shelled out $150.00 for the only helmet that would fit my big head. This didn't bother me in the least. I was a fat cat back then. Dee Dee's helmet was much more reasonable. She has a normal head size. We also purchased some cycling clothing, but we really had no idea who Pearl Izumi was and whether or not that was any good.

and so the story goes... The Steele Donkey lasted about a year and half, before the kids got a hold of it and damaged it beyond repair. I think I rode it maybe a half a dozen times. Dee Dee's ride lasted slightly longer. The cycling accessories disappeared into the closet. There was a good chance they would never been seen or heard from again.

After we started triathlon, we managed to rescue the goods from the closet. At the time I purchased Bags (Trek 7.3), I also purchased bike gloves. Over the years of tri-ing, I purchased some tri clothing, but over the past two years, I have purchased nothing. Yes, it helps when people send you free shoes :-)

Lately, everything has been falling apart, or getting chewed up by the dogs. I have purchased new gloves, new bike shorts, new cleats, and a new bento box, and finally new K-swiss running shoes, in that order. I just can't believe that I waited 4 years to get new bike shorts. No wonder my arse has been suffering lately. I bought the cheapest pair of Louis Garneau shorts I could find, and OH MY GOD... They are so much better than what I've been using.

Getting your money's worth is fine, but me thinks I carried it a bit far :-)

I am racing this weekend. Forward to the past, so to speak. I'll be heading up to north Georgia for the Cohutta Springs Triathlon. I really enjoyed this race three years ago. It will be fun to go back again. No, I will not be using any of my new "stuff"! I need to treat this like a tempo training day, and not a race! I just want to experience the excitement of the race, and the people again, as I count down the days to Ironman Arizona. I haven't raced since the end of June, and that too is an oddity for me. I've never gone this long without racing in the summer. It's important to keep the excitement alive.

Have a great weekend, y'all! Race report to follow...