Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jetton Park Sprint Triathlon 2012...Sprint PR

It was a lovely morning for a triathlon and the perfect opportunity to see how much I've improved in a year. Last year this race was my first triathlon ever. It was originally supposed to be the DC Tri but, I couldn't wait that long and it happened to be Mother's Day weekend so I could kill two birds with one stone. Sorry Mom.

My parents couldn't make it to Knoxville for the Half-Ironman as someone was having surgery the day after so, the g/f decided we would make the 4 hour drive from Knoxville to Charlotte and hang out for a week. Since I would have my bike and the tri was the following weekend, why wouldn't I do it?

The week I was at my parents I was extremely lazy considering the amount of training I've been doing. I did a run/walk workout one day, 10 mile ride and 3 mile walk on different days all with the g/ swimming. Due to recovery issues and the g/f already having plans to see her friends in Chicago this would be a solo race for me. I managed to steal pull some pictures from the photographers website even though I'm only in a few of them. It's not a high budget production but the company puts on a great race for a good price. If you live in Charlotte and you're looking for a Photographer check out Laura Mueller Photography.

I woke up a little later than I wanted to and headed out for a 45 minute drive. Getting to the other side of the city is not an easy task in Charlotte depending upon where you live. The lake is about 10 miles North of Charlotte and my parents live on the opposite side of the city. The only direct route is getting on state highway with many many lights...think of the street in your city that has car dealerships, other various stores and every chain restaurant you can think of. So, I took the beltway as far as I could.

Anyway, everyone decided to show up before I did as the field parking lot and side street was full...I got there 50 minutes early. I set everything up, got marked, got my timing chip and wetsuited up to hit the water. I decided I wanted a decent swim warm up since I've been swimming longer distances lately. I probably did about a 400m warm-up. I doubt I could have handled that long of a warm-up last year as I could barely make it 1.5k most of the season. I also wanted to test out the water...much warmer than Knoxville...74.

I hung out on the little beach and waited for three waves to go off. It's always interesting to watch the swim to see what strategy people choose. There is always a pack in the middle and the people off to the far side are probably the newbies. If so they chose the right position. Even better, I didn't see anyone being pulled from the water.

Swim: 15:42
74/185 for the men

It's amazing how different I felt compared to last year while standing on the beach hearing the countdown. I was excited vs. nervous. I was a bit surprised at my swim place since swimming is very big in Charlotte.

Then, we were off...I took the liberty of pointing myself out. That Orange thing is a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Man or Airman or Sky Dancer for sighting purposes. 

I still took it slow getting into the water as I didn't want to swim over anyone or get stepped on from people behind me who might run farther into the water than I did. Overall, the swim went great. I tried to keep what I felt like was a faster pace than the HIM. I caught some people from the third wave, then the second, and a few stragglers from the first wave. I was a little disappointed when I saw my swim time even though it includes a 150 yd walk/run...I walk to keep my heart rate down a bit. Comparing what I experienced to the course map I think the second turn buoy was way out of place if you look at the red line below. Plus, after making the turn to head back I was swimming right next to people going the other way so it seemed like it was almost a 180 degree turn.

Not Me

I've been very interested in my swim times this year as swimming has been the biggest improvement. In my wave I was 9th out of 42. (Actually I was 14/52 if you count the Relay but it's not fair to count these people as they can go all out in the swim since they don't bike and run.)

I did my usual run/walk to transition without any comments about me being a lazy banker or something and having to inform them I look wiped out since it was my first tri ever. The only problem with T1 was forgetting to unstrap my shoes so it took me an extra 10 seconds. I normally secure my shoes with tri-clips or rubber bands and go for the flying mount but, with the mount line being on a decent uphill slope I decided this wasn't a good idea. Plus, I only had to run about 20 feet on pavement with my shoes on. 

Bike: 37:05 just over 20mph   

I was a little disappointed with my bike time but the course is mostly rolling short steep hills and the downhills don't allow for much time to be made-up from the uphills. I spent most of the first few miles passing people. I wasn't passed until I hit a big rock and it altered my course into a rock driveway with decent sized rocks...not quite as big as rocks around railroad track but, I thought I was heading to the ground for sure. Luckily I froze and managed to ride it out. I'm not sure if I froze on purpose or out of fear of crashing, either way it worked. I got back up to speed and played leap frog with people for the rest of the course. I clearly planned my ascents better than them but a couple of them were riding faster on the flats, including one guy that obviously has more money than skill. Too bad your Aero helmet and P5 with an aero front wheel and rear disc wheel only made you 3 seconds faster than me. I think it was mostly because I opted not to come to a screeching stop after a half mile downhill to the dismount line. He did have a very graceful 1 footed dismount, I have to give him that. 

Bike Course Pics (not me)

Run: 28:12 
144/185 (Can you tell which sport is my weakest?) 

With a heart rate of 140 or so I started the run. It was much higher than I wanted it to be on the bike but then I remembered this was a sprint and managed to hang on for 5k. The run course is really crappy and really great at the same time. It's like you're running in a bowl with transition being in the middle. You run up one side, back down it, up the other and back down to the finish. I guess it's hard to complain about the last 0.75 miles of a race being downhill. I can't really be disappointed with my time as it's my fastest sprint run yet. 

Not Me

Total: 1:23:35
100/185 for the Men 
116/262 Overall

Comparing the times from last year:

                2011                2012
Swim       21:14                15:42
Bike        44:42                37:05
Run         30:52                28:12

Total      1:39:42            1:23:35

A 16 minute improvement...not bad. Maybe next year I can shoot for breaking 1:15. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rev3 Knoxville Half Race Report

It took me long enough to write this but, I finished.

Overall everything went well. We got to Knoxville around 5 on Friday and headed right to packet pickup. The expo was empty and the decision to get there on Friday was a good one was the lines were long on Saturday.

Sun Sphere right across from the expo/finish



I don’t know about IM races but, REV3 likes to give you lots of stuff. Including lots and lots of numbers that will not be used since there isn’t a run bag, bike bag or special needs bag. I guess they can’t bargain for fewer numbers on a sheet. They also give you the infamous temp. tattoo race numbers.

Race stuff

Limited Edition Blue Seventy Goggles



We pretty much just hung out for a bit at the hotel and ventured out for dinner. We walked by Matty Reed but, I sort of chickened out when the opportunity to say something came about. I told the g/f who he was and she made fun of me for not saying anything and said I had a man-crush on him the rest of the weekend, oh well. He ended up finishing 10th.


Saturday was the swim practice in the freezing water. They said it was 66 degrees but, it felt much colder than that. I forgot to give myself a minute to get used to the cold water and my chest tightened up and I couldn’t breathe whilst swimming. I thought…damn…this is going to be a loooong swim. Then I got used to it and it was easy as pie…relatively. (The word ‘relatively’ would be used frequently when asked about the race. “How did the race go Brian?" “Oh it was great…relatively…considering the heat on the run.”)


Anyway, after the swim we went to get lunch and the pick up a bike for the g/f so she could watch me on the runs. It was a pretty sweet hybrid bike that she loved riding. Then I rode for 20 minutes before dropping off my bike and going for a 15 minute run…did I mention transition was covered in a parking deck?


Rev3 also like to make you feel special with awesome nameplates


The Pros get posters…maybe someday

Pro Men

Pre Race:

I woke up at about 5:20 so I could be out the door by 6. The pros went off at 7 and the swim start was about a half mile from transition. I got everything set up and loaded my nutrition on the bike…including water bottles in the rear cage I just bought and used only once. I met the g/f after deciding to not wait in line for the bathroom and just used to woods since no one was really around where we met. Then we hoofed it to the swim start. I knew two people also doing the half and walked for a bit with one of them. He didn’t seem to be in a talkative mood so we picked up the pace.

The Pros went off at 7 and I put my wetsuit on when they made crossed back in front of the start. Trying to figure out the swim course was a bit worrying since the Half turn buoy wasn’t visible. They basically said, turn at the two giant red buoys…simple enough. Surprisingly they lumped the clydesdales in with the first wave rather than the second so I made my way down the dock and hopped in. The next minute consisted of me putting my face in the colder than 66 degrees water for 5-10 seconds at a time and listening to everyone talk about how cold it was.




I hadn’t come up with a swim plan per se but, I was toying with the idea of starting in the middle and seeing what happened. At the last minute I decided I’d hang back and just weave my way around people. I was literally in the back of the pack when the horn went off. I didn’t care, it was going to be a decently long day.

You’d think with 130 people on a narrow swim course you’d be able to find some feet, no such luck. I spent the first 300-400 meters passing people when they ran out of steam after the start. I stroked steadily to the turn buoy which was about 1/3 of the swim up river. The current didn’t seem strong at all. I never wear my Garmin during the swim in a race but I’m dying to know this split, oh well. The swim was uneventful after the turn, no kicks to the face or anything. One slight kick to the hand, no biggie. I was basically 5 feet from everyone on either side until the fishes from the next wave made the pass…sadly I couldn’t hold off everyone from the third wave which was 10 minutes after me.

I cruised down river for the next 2/3 of the swim and never felt tired. I wasn’t planning on swimming very hard but it’s annoying not knowing your pace.


Bike 3:20 something

After the trek to transition...across a road, down the sidewalk, up the grass to the other side of the parking deck...I found my bike stripped my wetsuit off and got ready for what seemed like a quarter mile run that weaved through transition and the parking garage to the mount line. Sadly, there are races out there with longer runs to transitions. Then I was off for 3 hours. Overall I felt good on the bike. It's too bad the same couldn't be said for my bike, mainly the rear water bottle cage. Somehow, the screws came loose and it almost fell off. Luckily it didn't but I did manage to lose a CO2 cartridge at some point. After about 10 miles I looked back and saw that it was about to fall so I stopped to tighten it. Go figure that I didn't have the right size hex wrench. I manged to use my fingers and a smaller hex wrench to tighten it as much as I could. While I was stopped, several people asked me if I was OK. It's nice to know that my fellow participants care. The tightening didn't last long and I stopped three more times to fix it. Finally on the 4th stop, someone from my tri club that I passed stopped and gave me the correct size hex wrench...I think we both enjoyed the break. Overall I probably lost 12-15 minutes stopping. Nevertheless, time wasn't important this race as I just wanted to finish. 

The bike course gave some nice views of the mountains, cows, horses and three probably not stray dogs running in the road. I'm sure lots of people in "the country" let their dogs just wander. Other than that, I manged to not lose half my nutrition but did run out of water with a couple miles to go. I was happy with the way everything went until I hit the climb back to transition. There were two fairly long hills that required the small ring and I played leap frog with one guy as he wasn't a very good climber but proved to be a fearless descender when he went flying downhill around corners. The third hill back to transition was brutal, it was short but VERY steep. The lowest gear I had wasn't even low enough and I had to stand up. I felt dumb when I crossed the intersection at the top of the hill at maybe 5mph with the cop stopping traffic and all the onlookers in their cars. Then it was a pretty easy downhill to transition with one small climb up the exit ramp. 

T2 was basically the reverse of T1, long path to my rack but shorter overall. I threw on my Zoots, easily this time as I used some body glide around the openings, and was off. 


I had no idea how the run was going to go. My unrealistic goal (that I was convinced was realistic) was to finish in under 6 hours. I looked at the time and it was after 11:30. So, to meet my goal of Sub 6hr, I would need to run at least a 10 minute PR for a half...extremely unlikely. I decided I would shoot for 6:30. The first 2 miles of the run went well, then my body figured out how hot it was outside. It actually wasn't that hot, low 80s, but being directly in the sun made it feel like 90s. I decided I was going to walk the aid stations and a little bit after them until I reached the first "hill." Flashback to me looking at the elevation profiles and thinking "Oh, that's not a very big hill." Easy to say when you haven't swam and bike for 4 hours before you get to the "hill." It was maybe 50 feet up but at that point it looked like I had to scale a wall...I walked up it. From that point on it was walk the uphills and try run everything else. That strategy worked until about mile 10. I kept bargaining with myself on what time I could finish. When 6 was out the window, I thought maybe 6:30 if the run goes well. Then it was 7 hours. When I realized that wasn't going to happen I decided I didn't care anymore and just wanted to finish. 

After about 4 miles into the run I figured out everything I was taking in was just sitting in my stomach. I tried some coke to see if that would help but I after I couple more miles and some water and gatorade I could see that my stomach was getting bigger. I decided to just drink a little water and use the rest for my head the rest of the way. They had these 8oz pouches of water that you used your teeth to rip open the corner. I began to love these as I could run with one in either hand and I had one in my back pocket during one aid station. It was interesting to see where people chose to throw the pouches when they were done. At the pre-race briefing they asked us to old on to them until the next aid station. I did just that except when I saw that people were leaving them at the signs along the run course...not a bad idea as someone would be coming by to get the signs. 

Anyway, back to the race, around mile 10 I think I stopped sweating. I have no idea if I was just washing off all the sweat from using the water pouches on my head and arms and the water was evaporating or if I really did stop sweating. Either way I was in trouble since I couldn't take in anything else. I tried some gatorade at mile 11, which I could only refer to as the green one. For some reason my brain was not functioning well enough to remember the word for a sports drink they had on the course. I was glad I could provide some entertainment for the two high school girls at the aid station as they proceeded to laugh at me after asking for "the green one." Keep in mind she just asked me if I wanted gatorade or water. After that it was shuffle, walk, shuffle, walk. The last half mile was a bit mean, you run by transition and then go uphill to the expo area where the finish is. All the finishers were heading back to transition to get their bikes and they provided some encouragement. With 1/4 mile left to go I started running the finish. It was pretty easy to keep going as I could hear the finish and then it was much easier when I could see the finish. I made sure I didn't trip over the brilliantly place curb as I headed onto the grass to cross the finish line....finally. 

I hit the med tent to make sure nothing was wrong since I couldn't get anything down. They packed me with ice and tried to get me to drink some Gatorade but, I told them I couldn't and I'd probably just need to wait. After 20-30 minutes in there with the g/f and seeing my calf have some crazy spasms...the g/f said it looked like there was a snake wriggling around in my leg, I felt a bit better and we headed back to the hotel. Later I found out I completely missed the post race food if there was any left. 

I'm happy I finished and I'm not upset with my time since it was my first Half. Maybe I'll shoot for under 6:30 for the next one. 

An evening with Chrissie Wellington

Alternate title if I were a schoolgirl meeting Justin Beiber: Chrissie Wellington touched me!!!!

Last night the g/f and I went to see Chrissie Wellington talk while she was in St. Louis. Surprisingly they said it was one of the larger crowds...I wonder why her tour didn't include DC or NYC. Maybe no one there pushed for her to come. I heard a rumor that someone in St. Louis kept bugging her agent or publicist until they agreed to St. Louis.

I only had my iphone so this was the best picture I could get

Chrissie seemed genuinely happy to be here and was tweeting about what foods she needed to try while here. Frozen custard from Ted Drewes and toasted ravioli made up almost all the replies. Sadly, I don't think she tried either of them. We considered inviting her out for Frozen Custard but, I doubt she had the time.

The talk was about 20 minutes, she talked about her life leading up to triathlon and how she ended up getting into the sport. As everyone knows, she won her first Ironman. What people might not know is that she used a road bike with clip-on aerobars and a borrowed tri suit. I suppose that proves it doesn't matter what kind of bike you have...assuming you train your ass off.

She also mentioned that her first super sprint tri lasted about 10 seconds for her as she couldn't swim in her wetsuit and was pulled from the water. See, even the best triathlete in the world had problems at first.

After she talked, she answered questions and then went to make her hand and eyes sore from all the signing and flashes.

There were two people taking pictures but I have a weird look on my face in the other picture. 

It was a great experience and she truly seems like a great person. She also cried when we gave her a standing ovation.

Hopefully, I'll finally get my two race reports up tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What not to do during an Ironman swim...IMO

I'm sure most people in the Tri world have heard how bad the IM St. George swim was on May 5th. I was reading a blog about someone that was "frantic, swallowing water and going under." She felt as though she couldn't leave him. (No clue if she is a lifeguard.) In short, the guy begged her not to leave and continued to panic and nearly drowned both of them. She was under the water so long that she "began to get weak and darkness began to settle in."

While her efforts are noble, I wanted to comment that she shouldn't have done what she did. I didn't leave a comment as she already had a horrible experience and didn't want to make her feel worse. After having swam in very rough water for a Tri and having done many open water swims competitive or not, I'm reminded of a very stern warning we were given before one race, in a calm cove off the Potomac:

NO ONE other than lifeguards or rescue personnel should attempt to rescue another competitor even if you are a lifeguard yourself. You're more than likely fatigued, would be endangering yourself and would likely create another person needing to be rescued.

It is clear from her post that this almost happened as she was nearly killed while attempting to provide help. I realize it's difficult to just swim on by when someone is struggling for their lives and there are so many people that want out of the water but, is it worth both your lives? I know it might sound heartless but, the guy was in a wetsuit and probably struggled more with her trying to help him than before.

I feel as though if you signed up to swim 2.4 miles you better be damn sure you know what you're doing and not need a wetsuit as a crutch. You never know what conditions are going to be like. If you don't feel comfortable swimming the distance without a wetsuit maybe you need to rethink your decision to do the race. For that matter, if you don't feel comfortable in open water without a wetsuit maybe you should stick to tris with pool swims. I'm not trying to be a dick just trying to make a point about people doing things beyond their abilities. If you still think I'm being a dick, look at the new requirements for the NYC tri. Now you need to provide proof of an open water swim after all the hype from last years race.

If you think 300 people is a lot to pull out of the water, imagine having to pull out 600...or more.

Friday, May 18, 2012

New Addition

I have two race reports to post, one I'm almost done with and the other I haven't started. This is because of two reasons...

One, I was at my parents house for a week due to surgery (not me) and it was a short drive from Knoxville after the half-iron (which I finished). My parents were supposed to come and watch but the surgery got in the was a success by the way.

I like the Sunsphere shape

The second reason is due to my future running partner, Loki the Weimaraner puppy!

He's a handful so far and keeping an eye on him doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Rental Bike

I was looking for pictures from a race on the race organizers Facebook page when I came across pictures from a race I did last summer. It turns out, the bike I rented for the race is in their picture of transition!...mostly

The pole came in handy while attempting to get my running shoes on. It also provided for a large transition spot as no one was able to put their bike next time mine.