Sunday, June 26, 2011

A little blood never hurt anyone...

A phrase which has probably been heard by most post-pubescent females and possibly uttered by a good number of males, around a certain time of the month. Maybe that's a little gross...sorry, this whole post might be gross.

Friday consisted of about a 30 mile bike ride followed up by a 10 minute run. I spent the rest of the day drinking Gatorade and water the rest of the day thinking I was hydrated enough for a run the next day. During my Saturday Long Run, which I've now moved back to Saturdays since I've fed the triathlon beast inside me, I had an unexpected surprise...The run started off a little weird considering the low temperature and humidity. I was sweating more than normal after the first mile, normally I wouldn't be sweating at all even though it was mostly uphill. By the 5th mile it felt like I had jot got out of a pool and there was sweat dripping from my hat. Normally it would take around 9 or 10 miles before I reached that point. Before the run I didn't think it would get to that point since it was 12 miles and a very cool morning.

I figured something was wrong at the first water stop when "it" was very dark yellow and seemed to be condensed when it hit the water. I drank about 20 oz of water and ran up a bunch of hills and back to the water stop. (The way our long runs work is, someone volunteers to set up a water/gatorade stop somewhere along the run. In this case everyone hit it twice since it was an out and back run and the water stop wasn't at the turn around) I'm guessing I drank 20 oz more, considering it was a 12 oz cup and it wasn't quite filled all the way...I had two. This is on top of at least half of the Gatorade in my camelbak. Here's the surprise...

While stopping to relieve myself, after the 7th mile right after the water stop on the way back...there was blood in my urine. Actually, I think it was just blood. I was immediately terrified and thought I was going to have make a trip to the ER. I had no idea what to do since I'm on the slower side of my running group and everyone at my pace decided to run 10 instead of 12. It was 8:30 am and the g/f, a nurse and the only person I could think of to call, was at work. I tried to get a hold of her anyway...good thing I decided to bring my phone. She didn't respond so I googled "blood in urine while running." The first hit was a sports doctor blog, which talked about how "Most often the blood comes from the bladder. The jarring of an empty bladder during running causes bruises and bleeding from the bladder wall" and can also be caused by your kidneys. Hmm...kidney failure due to dehydration...enough to make me stop running. I slowly ran to the first path I could take to get to a metro (subway) station and headed home. Oddly, it felt like I was having trouble "holding it in." I managed to drip sweat everywhere on the way home, I still didn't understand why I was bleeding but still sweating.

I bought more fluids and drank them as fast as I could. I decided I would give it a day to see if it stopped before I head to the Doc. Feeling a little more at ease, I made my normal post long run trip to Panera for a jalapeno&cheddar bagel's been awhile. In the bathroom there it was blood, then brown, then dark yellow, seems to be getting better. Within 30 minutes of getting home I had to go badly and it was pretty clear...we'll see if it stays that way.

Later, I think I may have realized what happened. After every long run there is ALWAYS salt on my face, there wasn't any salt that day. I've never done a long bike ride and a long run the next day. My guess is that the bike ride screwed up my sodium and potassium and I didn't take in enough to cover me for the run the next day. This could be the reason my body was dumping sweat so early, it didn't have a way to retain a lot of water. Or maybe I was getting hot while running since sweating is the body’s way of cooling itself, or I was dehydrated from the start of the run. Who knows…I should probably take some sort of biology class that deals with this stuff.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

DC Triathlon Race Report!

I had been waiting for Sunday to come for months. The DC Triathlon was the first triathlon I had ever signed up for. I was so excited when I signed up for it that I couldn't wait that long to actually race in a triathlon. As you've noticed, I signed up for four of them before the big day. It turns out, this was a very good decision.

The triathlon weekend actually started on Thursday. The swim practice scheduled for Saturday was cancelled due to the MLK Jr. Memorial construction. I'm not sure why considering it's across the street on land and NOT IN THE POTOMAC! I wonder if MLK Jr. could swim? On Thursday I decided I would start the Potomac Immunity Process. I might as well get my body use to the supposed "dirty Potomac." If it's so dirty, why do they let us swim in it? While we're on the subject, the guy who organizes the Sunday long rides always has some clever greeting to start off the route description on hos blog such as..."Hello people who will never qualify for Kona" or last week..."Hello people who think the Potomac is clean enough to swim in" Yesterday it was…”Hello people who contracted an STD from swimming in the Potomac.”


I made my way out to National Harbor for the Happy Hour Swims put on by WaveOne. It's not a bad course and it's good because it's only a 10 minute drive versus 45 minutes to any of the other lakes. On the downside, it's the Potomac and you have a large group of spectators watching. The course is about 350 meters and I swam like a champ (for me) without a wetsuit. I still don't understand why people care so much about wearing a wetsuit, shouldn't you be prepared for swimming without one? I don't think they should be used as a crutch.

Anyways back to the race...

The g/f was coming into town to watch meaning I wouldn't be working while she was here. We headed over to packet pickup on Friday since it wouldn't be as crowded. Sadly my roommate, who is racing his first tri, had to work and was going on Saturday. For some odd reason I didn'ttake any pictures of packet pick up. Although, when you get your number they snap a shot of you for your little Athlete Profile Page on the DC Tri website. Nicely done.

Bikes had to be racked on Saturday and there were police escorted rides from the convention center to the water front…about 1.5 miles. I thought this would be very cool to do except for that I had to wait for my roommate and our friend to finish packet pickup. We missed the ride at 1:30 and didn’t want to wait for the next one. The g/f was in the car as well and I felt bad that all she was doing was sitting there. So, we drove down to the water front where they had a lane blocked off so you could park and rack your bike…wtf…I guess they didn’t want 4,000 people trying to do this because it wasn’t advertised.

The next morning was pretty easy, woke up at 4am, left at 4:30, manage to find a spot about a mile from transition. Not even 2 minutes out of the car and people were already asking if you could wear a wetsuit. Seriously?  I got everything set up and then heard the water temperature was 77.8 degrees…barely wetsuit legal. I decided not to wear one and turned out to be a great idea. We went down to the riverside and watched the Oly race go off. I’ve never actually watched the swim part since I’ve always been in the race. It was interesting to see people use the backstroke and breast stroke within 100 meters. I also saw several people being pulled out of the water by the jet ski right after 100 meters.

Next it was time to corral up and wait for the race. The swim start was supposed to be a TT start with 8 people jumping in at once…keyword being jumping, no diving. Although these two guys behind me said there were no cannonballs but, nothing was said about backflips. It’s too bad since I spent 15 minutes at the diving at pool, the day before the race, trying to figure out how to position my head to keep water out of my goggles when I hit the water. By the time I got to the dock they were just pointing people where to jump in the water one by one.

The swim went pretty smoothly, I managed to freestyle the whole time and seemed to be gliding along faster than before since I fixed the pulling part of my stroke. It wasn’t very crowded but, I’ll never stop being amazed at how many people tend to swim toward me rather than straight. I spent most of the swim passing people in the wave in front of me and several people from two and three waves in front of me. Check out my pink swim cap and how goofy I look in speedo goggles.

Outta the Water    Outta the Water 2

I’m just getting off the ramp in the second picture and the girl just ahead of me was from 3 waves in front of me.

800 meters and outta the water in 15:54…blows all my other swim times away.

T1 went as well as they usually do, I can’t seem to run very quickly to and out of transition. No problems mounting my bike and getting my feet in. Although the first mile was an average of 15 mph. The next 11 miles were much faster. The bike course was extremely crowded and a lot of people were blocking, including the race marshal on the moped. They cut me off three times and slowed me down when I was trying to pass. The third time I said something and she told me I was blocking…not cool since they’re the reason I was blocking and couldn’t complete a pass. Like there weren’t 100 other people around me not passing at the same time. I thought she wrote down my number but, I didn’t hear it called out. Luckily I didn’t get a penalty.


I finished the bike in around 37 minutes and averaged 19.7 mph.

The run was a little tough since it started to get hot. What I don’t understand is why they made the sprint course 7.5K with 5 U-turns. Apparently it was so we could run by The Capitol but, that only required one turn around. The route seems dumb to me and all the U-turns seem unnecessary. There isn’t even a picture of me in front of the capitol so what’s the point?


I crossed the line at 1:44:34 and in the top 35%…Sadly I was 732 in the run but 197 in the bike. If only I could run faster.

Run time: 44:43…9:37/mile

Then I waited for my g/f to show up at the finish. She missed me on the bike because she was looking at the course map. Strangely, I saw her and yelled her name…she didn’t hear me. It’s too bad she didn’t get to see me finish. I’d imagine it’s hard to look for someone on the bike course with thousands of other people. While I was eating I ate a delicious burrito bowl from Qdoba, probably the best post race food yet. I also didn’t realize how mean it was to watch people run by while eating until someone running by said it was mean. I waited for my friend to finish, he was about 20 minutes behind me but I didn’t see him run by. We had no idea what happened to my roommate. My g/f and my friend’s g/f didn’t see him come out of the water and he hadn’t called anyone. 10 minutes later I saw him run by and 10 more minutes later he crossed the finish line. About an hour after me. It turned out he took 35 minutes on the swim. I’m glad he finished.

Next up, Big Shark Triathlon outside of St. Louis. It’s an odd distance, 1K swim, 20 mile bike and 4 mile run.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Oh The Humidity!

It's about that time of's getting a little warmer, triathlon season is in full swim er....swing, sweat starts dripping off my hat after 4 miles, you can tell I'm coming up behind you from the squishing sound my socks are making and I look like I jumped in a pool after a long run. I'm sure some people thought I may have climbed out of the Potomac on my run last night.

It was my second Saturday Long Run (SLR) for marathon training. Due to a few things I had going on today, it was done Friday night. I'm doing my marathon training with the DC Roadrunners since I did their marathon training program last year and I've been running with them ever since. If you're ever in DC and are looking for a route to run, their website has some great routes that you would probably never find. Hopefully they won't mind me posting this link...DCRR SLR They all start at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Rosslyn but you can easily hop on one of the routes at any point. Some of the routes are through trails and may be difficult to navigate if you're not familiar. Some of them also go through Arlington. Also feel free to join us Saturdays at 7am if you're in the area and looking for a group to run with. Everyone is friendly and you'll have to introduce yourself if you raise your hand when they ask if anyone is new. It's a good mix of age, gender and paces especially during fall marathon training. Keep in mind you don't have to run the whole route.

Last night was Fort Scott Hill, 11 miles out and back with the turn around point being at the top of a hill that is difficult to walk up. I shortened it to 9.5 miles since I'm trying to balance Tri training and marathon training until the end of July. I started in Crystal City and ran to Iwo Jima while passing by the airport which has a nice park near it, off the GW parkway, where you can watch planes take off and land. It was a nice out and back run...more like an out and back in two different directions. It's been awhile since I've ran almost 10 miles, probably the week after the St. Louis Half Marathon. I wasn't expecting any problems running this far but, I forgot what running in this type of heat and humidity is like.

Normally, I run with Glacier Freeze Gatorade Frost in my camelbak. Last night I ran with blue Powerade and noticed it leaves my mouth a little dry. Anyway, I had about 60 ounces and ran out at the top of the big hill with about a mile left to go. It was all downhill so it wasn't a big deal. It's amazing as to how much fluid I require for long runs in the summer. I've noticed I can go farther before my legs start to hurt with Gatorade vs. water. On a similar note, MapMyRun has an ad from Gatorade telling you how many ounces you need as you increase the mileage on your route. It told me I needed 10 ounces...WAY OFF. If you're not that experienced with running I recommend not listening to this ad.

I did the long run last night so I could drive out to Sandy Point State Park in Maryland for an Open Water Swim Clinic put on by Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy in DC. I've never been to a "real" OWS clinic. This one was very good for practice even though I've done a several OWS before. They divided us up into groups based on the level we felt we were at, talked for about 10 minutes and then put us in the water. I decided to join the advanced group since I feel very comfortable in the water. It's always interesting to hear what people have to say and then what pops into my head. For example...when talking about sighting (in the advanced group) someone said "what's sighting?" Valid question but, don't you think you should know what sighting is when the triathlon is next weekend? I suppose it's not THAT necessary in the DC Tri since the buoys are like small houses and there is one every 100 meters. The current was very strong today and you could easily tell that it was just from looking at the water. It was a little scary even standing on the shore.

Most people wanted to work on sighting and turning. I had no idea how to go around a buoy. Apparently, the correct way is to flip into a backstroke for a few strokes while you're going around the buoy. I never noticed this when watching triathlons on TV. It's actually very easy and very efficient. We also practiced running into the water and "dolphin diving," not my cup of tea. After all that they brought all the groups together to simulate a "mass start", 8 at a time in the case of the DC Tri, and then we swam about an 800 meter course...or so we were told. Really it's about 600 meters when measured on Google Earth, assuming the swimming area buoys are in the same places. Either way it'll give the nervous people confidence if they swam the whole thing.

After that I was supposed to head out for a bike ride but, forgot my helmet. Instead I drove home, got my helmet and headed out for an easy 60 minute ride on a trail nearby. Definitely a good idea since my legs probably couldn't handle the planned 17-18mph pace for 24 miles after the run yesterday.

Right now I'm waiting for a 310XT to arrive in the mail. Tomorrow I'm heading out to volunteer at the finish line for Eagleman 70.3...should be fun.

Good Luck to everyone!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Smallwood Sprint Tri - Race Report

My blog has now gone international! Germany, New Zealand and Canada!

This past Sunday was the General Smallwood Sprint Tri in Indian Head, MD. In all honesty, the only reason I signed up for this was because I wanted a sort of "do over" of my first triathlon since I'm more comfortable in open water. The only difference being this is a ~16 mile bike route instead of 20k.

The week leading up to this tri consisted of an open water swim at Sandy Point on Memorial Day, where hundreds of people were grilling at 8:30am. I'm not sure why they started at 8:30 but, why gotta eat. We were definitely the minority that day. The day before was a 30 mile bike ride, without Garmin. It froze in the car on the way and I wasn't sure how to fix it. I figured out that to reset it, hold down both buttons until it resets, no data lost. I ended up keeping my iphone in my Camelbak and used mapmyride which ate up 83% of my battery in two hours. Wednesday night was track in the heat and what felt like 900% humidity even though that's not possible, it should be. You would think the extra humidity would help you hydrate since there is more moisture in the air...nope.

Back to the race...It was about an hour drive from my place and I got there two hours early for packet pickup and all that jazz. I think I was the 5th or 6th person there. Everyone else on my rack decided to show up early as well....what are the odds? Oh well, I racked my bike set, set everything up and then had no idea what to do for the next hour. I went down and checked out the water. The swim was on a fishing creek and had a lot of seaweed or something of the sort. I was in the third wave so maybe the first two waves would clear a path. I sat around, ate some yogurt and then put my wetsuit on. I have no idea what the water temperature was but this company, SET UP Events, seems to use a 78 degrees rule rather than 76.1 degrees. I'm not complaining but, I guess since it's a sprint it doesn't matter. I also forgot dental floss and a rubber band, good thing I realized my shoe will just rest on the crank arm while I run with the bike.

With my wetsuit on I hopped in the water and warmed up for about 50 meters, the exit from the swim was up a slimy boat ramp. I tried to see who else was in the clydesdale division...I'm determined to get third in this division one race this year. I watched the first two waves (AG Men and then AG Women) go off and headed down the dock for an in water start. I think the waves were 4 minutes apart. This time I decided I would start towards the front but off to the outside of the first turn. It turned out to be a good idea since I didn't get pummeled at the start and got into a good rhythm in the first 25 meters.

I desperately need to work on my sighting, I was off to the right coming to the first buoy and then off to the left heading to the second buoy. It probably cost me a minute or two. I didn't have any problems with the swim except for this girl who kept hitting my feet when approaching the 2nd turn. I kicked hard a few times and did a few breaststrokes with hard kicks to see if she would back off but, she was right back on my feet when I switched back to freestyle. I purposefully treaded water around the buoy as close to it as I could to try and piss her off. I passed a bunch of people from the second wave...big improvement. I was still swimming off to the left down the last stretch, I later realized I wasn't pulling equally with both arms. No other problems except for accidentally grabbing some booty, good thing it was a girl. (Sorry Susie) We both stopped, she looked at me and I apologized. She said "it's OK" but, she seemed shocked. I'm sure I'm not the first person to do this in a triathlon. I sprinted to the inflatable squiggly man and jogged up the ramp. Oh, did I mention the plants/seaweed like stuff I kept catching in my strokes for the last 200 meters. I just hoped it wasn't alive and was going to grab me or get caught in it and drown. So much for the first two waves clearing the way. There was also a metal pole barely under the water in the middle of the creek...I crashed into it.

Swim time: 19:05...seems a little slow, not sure if the course was longer since they changed it from what is shown on the map or if I was just that far off course. I was expecting under 17:30. Nevertheless...55/89 for the men...not too shabby considering I passed 3 or 4 people from the first wave and more from the second wave! Also strange, I had a faster swim than my AG winner.

The run to the transition area was equivalent to the one at Hilton Head except without the beach. It must have been around 1/4 of a mile to T1. Excellent job of putting the timing mat right at the water instead of at the transition area. T1 was slow as usual. I should probably practice so I can get my heart rate down sooner and get a heart rate monitor. T1 was slow, I need to pick it up since this is "free time."

I had the quickest mount of the season and no problems getting my shoes on. The first mile was still slow 13 mph but it was mostly uphill. It was rolling hills with a couple hills of 100 feet in a 1/2 mile...not too steep. I was determined to make this my best bike yet even though it was 16 miles instead of 20K. The bike field was spread out since it was a single loop. I just figured I'd pick off as many of the women as I could. I managed to pick off a few of the men and was only passed by one person...she was doing the relay. Along the way I asked a couple women if they had been passed by any "C" people. I don't think they had any idea what I was talking about. No problems on the bike, I hydrated without running off the road and took in some gel. I've decided I need some type of nutrition on the bike in prep for the run considering my size and being out there for more than an hour. I thought I was lost at one point during a long straightaway. I couldn't see anyone in front of me and I was afraid I missed a turn. Right as a turned around I saw two people coming from around the bend. I booked it so they wouldn't catch up. I sailed into T2 averaging just about 17.5 mph making this my fastest and longest bike yet.

Bike time: 55:04 surprisingly 54/89
Max Speed: 34 mph

T2 went about as well as it always does except we were getting yelled at to dismount AFTER the line...strange, maybe these girls were given the directions for T1 instead. I wonder if anyone took that to mean anywhere after the line and rode right into transition? I put on my socks and heard the announcer say the first person was heading to the finished...I'm just happy I finished my bike before he finished the race. Shoes, gel, hate, number...running.

I felt great the whole run except a slight burn in my quads on the hills. The first mile was the same as the bike, uphill most of the way. I started out trying to keep an 8:45 pace but quickly realized, on the first hill, that was out of the question. The first mile was ~9:38, not bad for someone my size going up hill. The second mile has a little down hill and then a biiig uphill but water was at the top. I walked through the water stop and had a slow second mile of 10:04, still not too bad. The last 1.1 miles was mostly downhill so I picked up the pace as much as I could. I even managed to clearly ask a kid volunteering what he was listening to on his clue what he said. I felt great at this point but didn't want to push my luck. The trail went off road down a dirt path which was a nice change. Then it went across a bridge over the creek back to the swim start and up the same path to T1. It was nice not having anyone around me an a long runway to the finish. I got a lot of cheers from Team Z (still jealous of their cookout) and other people. I cruised into the finish, heard my name called again...much better than a run since I've never heard my name called out in a run...and ran the last 1.1 at an 8:47 pace.

Run time: 29:16 70/89 for the men...I guess this race was mostly fast runners. 15 places slower seems crappy compared to the bike and the run.

Total Time: 1:49:14...broke 1:50:00....60/89 for the men and 80/151 overall.

This is definitely my best race so far considering it was 4 miles longer on the bike and my time was only 10 minutes more than the other 2 races with the same swim. AND there was pizza!

I stuck around until the last person crossed the finish line and saw the specialty groups get their awards....5/7 in the clydesdales. I was pissed when the top two people in this division looked to barely weigh 200lbs...doesn't seem very fair. 2nd place in that age group would have won his division, sucks for him. In my mind Clydesdale = heavy and slower...a 22 minute 5K after a swim and a bike does not say heavy or slow in any way. Personally I think the weight should be bumped up to 220lbs or as one guy on a forum post said..."If you can't put a pencil under your stomach and have it stay there, you shouldn't be able to race as a clydesdale." I sort of agree but hope it never gets to that since I don't come close to qualifying. What do they say? 3 seconds per mile per pound lost? Using that logic 220 (30lbs lost) would make me an ~7:45/mile runner for a sprint tri. Complaining Done

Tonight was track night in the 'feels like' 104 degrees temperature and humidity. The dew point was around 60 so, when added together you get around 160. This is not considered safe for most people to exercise outside. The workout was changed to 200s, which is surprising since I don't remember ever doing a workout of 200s since I started running at the track. I think the original workout was 600s. Changing it was an excellent idea. It was a small group, out of the DC roadrunners, tonight. I ended up running 12 x 200 with a 200 rest in between then had enough of the heat. Although I can't really blame people for staying at home in the AC and eating bon bons.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ryan Hall on Training and Triathlons

Tomorrow I have another sprint coming up. It's a 16 mile bike ride so I'm curious to see how my times compare. I only signed up for this one because I want a re-do for the swim part of my first tri.

Tonight I've been doing some surfing, the internet kind, before bed. I found this short video on It's Ryan Hall, not too long after running Boston, mentioning his opinion of triathletes. I think the funniest part has to be when he compares biking a time trial route to running it.

On another note today was also the start of Marine Corps Marathon training. I missed the training group run since my iphone doesn't know how to set off an alarm if it gets a text message...never relying on that to wake me up again. I still managed to run 7 miles this morning and I figure the 3 miles tomorrow will count towards the 10 I was supposed to run today. It'll be interesting to see how marathon training and triathlon training work together for someone of my size and muscle mass. I think I've come up with a pretty good plan for both of them with the Olympic Tri Plan being for the end of July. We'll see how it goes.