Friday, April 27, 2012

Eads Bridge Du and Trip Pics

Last weekend I volunteered at the Eads Bridge Duathlon right down by the Arch in St. Louis. 

The Eads Bridge, for all you history buffs out there, is the first bridge built across the Mighty Mississippi River. I'm still waiting for someone to suggest a Tri in the Mississippi as it is probably dirtier than that dirty water someone loves so much in Boston. Although, I'm not sure how many people love this dirty water as I'm wouldn't swim in it to save my life...unless I were actually thrown in or fell in to the river and would have no choice. It would definitely be a point to point swim as the current is fast.

If you look closely you can see the finish line at about the left third of the picture. Since my post was in the opposite direction, I never saw the finish line up close.

I believe this was the first time the bridge was shut down for a race and it's also the first time I've seen a covered transition.

To set the scene for the part of the city the bike course goes through (North St. Louis) a bit of background is needed. St. Louis is somewhat of a Post-Industrial Wasteland in most parts. (As I heard yesterday) The city proper is very old but the majority of "South City," where I live, has gone through the gentrification process. The north part of the city has not and holds the title of "The Bad Part of Town." It should also be noted that the City of St. Louis is very greedy. There is a 1% income tax for residents which is calculated on your gross income before Federal taxes, State taxes, Medicare, SS and even 401k deductions are taken out. I need to look into how they're spending this money as the only benefit I see is the streets being sweeped on a monthly basis. Trash removal isn't even covered by this tax.

 Later that day when I was over the g/f's parent's house for dinner I had to joke about it when asked what I did this weekend.

Her Mom: So Brian, what did you do today?
Me: I stood on the street corner in North St. Louis for about an hour and a half this morning.
Her Mom: You What!?!
Me: Ha, don't worry I was volunteering for a race.

Surprisingly, my post was right next to an adult video store/peepshow. Even more surprisingly there were people going in at 9am on a Sunday. I guess they aren't regulars at church. (See the Blue Awning?)

Here are a few more pictures of my post...lovely

I didn't take any pictures of the race as it started raining and I didn't feel like holding an umbrella and a flag. I can't find any pictures online but, I'll post some if I find any.

Also, in my travels back from Florida, I stopped in the tiny town of Metropolis, IL...which looks nothing like the city in the comics. Regardless, the town decreed 6 months after the Superman comic came out that it was "the home of Superman." It's worth about a 10 minute stop if you need gas or something to eat and you're traveling through Paducah, KY which is just on the other side of the Ohio river.

The claim to fame is the "giant" Superman statue.

There is also a Superman soda machine

And you can be Superman if you so desire

In case you're wondering, there is a store and a museum and no I didn't feel like going in since I'm not Jerry Seinfeld. 

Sadly, I didn't get a copy of the Metropolis Planet newspaper. I thought about it but couldn't find one easily and we just wanted to get home. 

In Triathlon news, I'm tapering this week and next while I gear up for the REV3 Knoxville Half! I'll also be participating in a beer mile this weekend at the club picnic...timed by a race timing company. I've always wanted to do one so it should be fun.   
If you don't know what a beer mile is, it's actually a pretty big deal for some people and has a semi-official website, here are the normal rules when done on a standard outdoor's pretty simple...

-Get 4 beers in a can
-Drink a can of beer
-Run a lap
-Repeat until beer is gone
Vomiting requires a penalty lap after the 4th lap. 

I keep meaning to run with the HHHers but I never do. Hopefully my skills acquired from running 1.5 miles home from the bar after kickball in DC are still around. We shall see. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Speed and Location

While I was in Jacksonville last weekend the g/f's friend was supposed to run a 5k on the beach. I wanted to but decided against it since it was the day before the Oly and was worried about sore calves from the sand. The girl (L) we were visiting had a friend (C) still running the race and we went down to watch and hang out on the beach.

C ended up winning the race in around 22 minutes. Not to belittle her accomplishment but, I was amazed that 22 minutes was fast enough to win the race. Granted it is a small race on the beach and they had an old school timer but, you'd figure someone would break 20 minutes. I suppose the running scene in Jacksonville isn't as big as it is in DC or St. Louis. 

In DC it seemed like a sub 17 5k was needed to win if you're a guy and sub 18 if you're a girl. In a 5k in DC I finished 383 out of 941 (40%) and in a 5k in St. Louis it was 643 out of 2550 (25%). I'm definitely faster in St. Louis than I am in DC. Looking at the Jacksonville Half-Marathon/5k results, the Women's winning time in the 5k was just over 20 minutes. Maybe it's because of the size of the race and the fact that it's on a beach. However, Jacksonville is a large city and it's relatively warm all year so you'd think there would be more runners. 

I guess I just got used to seeing fast times in DC with all the Type A personalities there. Regardless, the g/f and I are going to attempt to disappoint some people in a 5k in Jacksonville next year. I think I can probably knock 4 minutes off my 5k...if I can lose about 40 pounds. 

Edit 4/24: It should be noted that the sand on the beach is very firm. Everyone was riding beach cruisers and mountain bikes on the beach. I was tempted to take my TT bike on it and see how it did.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Angry Ocean Triathlon (Marineland Tri)

About a week ago I headed down to Jacksonville, FL with the g/f to visit one of her friends and get in some beach time. Originally this trip was supposed to be for open water swimming, then I found a tri nearby. Since I'm doing the Rev 3 Half in a couple weeks and there is virtually no where near STL to swim in open water before Memorial Day...unless you organize a group and pay a bunch of money (see first open water swim post)...the g/f suggested we go stay with her friend at the beach and I swim in the ocean.

This sounded like a wonderful idea. I figured I might as well look for an Oly near there as well for a warm up and to race the TT bike before the half...and I found one just south of St. Augustine in Marineland, FL. Since they had a sprint the g/f decided to give it a try.  It's a good thing I found this tri as the open water swimming was a bust. The waves looked brutal and the current was extremely strong.

After packing things up early at the Jacksonville beach due to constant winds and clouds making it cold, we headed down to Marineland for packet pick up. It was a small race so we where the only ones there picking our stuff up at the time. We walked over and got our numbers and PINK t-shirts then went to check out the did not look good. The sea was angry. The waves were fairly large and only a few seconds apart. We were a bit worried but decided to be optimistic and thought it wouldn't be as rough in the morning. The g/f was worried about swimming without a wetsuit and would probably end up switching to the Duathlon if it was rough in the morning. Did I mention this race had everything? Oly and sprint Tris and Dus. Sadly no aquavelo for the non-runners.

The next morning we got to transition and set our stuff up. Somehow I lost track of time, probably from going to look at the water, and everyone was already at the beach and I was still scrambling to get my wetsuit on. I wanted to get at least a 5 minute swim in before the start, oh well. The sea was still angry but not quite as angry as the day before. We thought the water didn't look rough but the phrase "looks can be deceiving" definitely applied that morning.

Sprint Group

Significantly Smaller Oly Group

The swim course was supposed to be a 750m triangle with the tip at the shore and the Oly was two loops. However, the race director said it was going to be a point to point due to the current. I figured this would be a nice and easy swim. When I finally got to the start I noticed the turn buoys were only 50 meters or so out and right in the middle of the waves. 30 seconds later the horn blew.

I wasn't in any rush to get in the water as I didn't want to get pounded by people and waves...even though there were about 15 of us. Here comes the deceiving part, it was a chore to get past the little waves to swim. I thought the panic factor wasn't in play anymore after my first two races but, I nearly panicked trying to get past the waves. Luckily I managed to remain calm to make it within 5 feet of the first turn buoy, that's as close as I ever came to it. It was impossible to swim against the current. After 30 seconds or so, who knows, I looked around and realized I wasn't the only one as 6 or 7 of us were bobbing in the waves trying to get to the buoy. Finally I said F-it and went with the current, I doubt anyone made it back to the buoy. There wasn't really much swimming going on, it was more like I was moving my arms while the ocean was dragging me. I passed the next buoy like I was slowly jogging and before I got to the last one I could hear the lifeguard telling everyone to just go to shore. Apparently they didn't want to be out their either. Surprisingly there was a pro woman and two guys in college planning to go pro there, all of whom said the water was horrible.

Then I trudged up the hill to get to transition where I met the g/f. I felt bad that she had to swim in that but she said she managed to stay calm. I grabbed the bike and headed out.

Both the bike and the run courses were fairly boring. The bike was a 20k out and back, twice. I think it was about 60 feet up over 6 miles on the way out but the 15-20 mph wind made it feel a bit steeper. I averaged around 19 on the way out and about 21.5 on the way back. A bit slow but, I didn't want to blow up on the run since the sun would be brutal and there wasn't much shade. Oddly enough the wind died down on the run. The only memorable moments from the bike were seeing someone almost get hit by a car while passing, a giant dead snake and a dead possum. I couldn't contain my excitement when I realized I'd get to see them again!

I pulled in after about 1:13 on the bike and headed out for the run. After a slight detour of about 5 feet to get some water and getting yelled at by a volunteer since she thought I was going the wrong way, I was off and running. The plan was to keep about a 9:45 pace given my massive stature and how well I don't do in the sun. I hit the first two miles at about 9:40 and then slowed to about 9:50 for the third. I also managed to pass someone. Something I didn't think I would do. I got back to the run start and had someone waving me to the finish, the exchange went like this:

Me: (holding up one finger and joking) I wish I were that fast but I got one more lap...don't tease me bro...ha...ha.

Him: hahaha, sorry didn't mean to tease you. I'll see you in what, 10 minutes?

Me: Yeah, I'll skip the last 2 miles.

After that running was a bit difficult. I was baking in the sun, I could feel how hot I was getting and my heart rate was extremely high for an 11 min pace. I got some water and walked for a bit on the way out and then again on the way back...three cups on the way back. Then slowly made my way to the finish.

When I could see the clock it was 2:29:55 and I was pissed that I was about 15 seconds away from it. Oh well, I'll settle for a 2:30:09 Oly any day. Just don't tell anyone the swim was 800m...ssshhhhh.

As it was a small race, everyone got an award! The g/f, whom I am very proud of, was third in her age group (out of 4). I was 2nd in my age group (out of 2) and 1st in the Clydesdales (out of 2). Although the other guy got a DNF since he only did 1 loop on the bike and run. An award is still an award, just can't get used to them :-)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's that time of year again

Even though it's going to be a high of 58 today, I'm heading out for the first open water swim of the year. No clue what the water temperature will be. Luckily when I was little and lived in Massachusetts, my grandparents pool rarely made it above 70 degrees. It usually hovered around 68 degrees all summer.

I pulled out the wetsuit and soaked it for about 5 minutes since it's been hanging up all winter...and most of the summer and fall. It can't be as bad as the ice baths I've been taking.