Friday, June 29, 2012

Group Ride Camaraderie

Last night I did the usual 25 mile Thursday night ride with the tri club, in 108 degree weather...113 if you were to consult my car's thermometer. "Hey, at least it's not humid" everyone said. They're right, I'd rather the temperature be over 100 degrees than 85-90 degrees and 90% humidity. The only problem is sweat evaporates so fast in that kind of heat. Oh well, good thing I bought arm coolers so I can look even weirder whilst riding. 

So, the ride appeared to be going fine until we were about 2 miles passed the halfway point of the ride. A point where everyone stops to regroup after several hills. One of the older gentlemen that rides with us stopped and asked me how my arm coolers worked. I didn't realize, since he was slightly behind me, that he didn't look so well. Two other people did and then asked if he needed some water, he was out, or salt tablets...The woman who asked about salt tablets also asked everyone else and then asked if anyone wanted Gu. She does this every ride and it's pretty awesome, shes like a rolling nutrition store. Anyway, we decided to stop for a few minutes even after he told us to just keep going. I realize he didn't want to hold everyone up but come on, we're all friends and not going to leave someone behind on a friendly ride no drop ride when they're struggling. 

After the few minutes we decided to just head to the gas station a little ways down the street and refuel. Then we slowed the pace a bit and all stuck together for the rest of the ride. He was very grateful that we stopped for him. It's kind of a no brainer, I'd probably want everyone to hold up a bit for me if I were having problems. I'd still feel bad that I held everyone up but, I'm sure they wouldn't mind. I did feel a little guilty about not offering him any of my water since I always try to carry more than I think I'll need but, I made a salt tab concoction in all my bottles because of the heat. I suppose I made up for it two weeks before when someone forgot their water bottle and I gave him mine...after the ride I found out it was almost all for naught as he put the bottle upside down in his cage. Good thing it wasn't open.

I think we're a much better group to ride with than the other club that starts in the same place as we do. This father and his son seem to have a goal of leaving everyone in their dust on their rides...we always have a sweeper.

Remember, help a fellow rider in day you might be in need. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Octomax Race Report 6/23/2012

First I'd like to apologize for the novel.

About three weeks ago I decided I needed to enter a tri for June and help kick off  70.3 training. It was down to the Octomax (500yd, 18mi, 3mi) or the Quartermax (1000yd, 28mi, 6mi) which take place at Innsbrook...a private resort/town/neighborhood about an hour from Missouri. It's so private that there are bridges and tunnels under and over the outside roads. I decided to opt for the Octomax since I wasn't familiar with the course and heard it was hilly.

The bridge over the "main" road

Underneath a tunnel with it's elevation

One of the 100 lakes at Innsbrook

The race story starts on Thursday during the weekly group ride. I normally go with the long ride which is about 25 miles but someone always suggests, at the halfway point, a way to add on a few more miles. Normally I don't care but this time we rode some extremely steep hills. They were short but it was pretty much impossible to ride them seated. As it turns out this would be a good prelude to Innsbrook.

On Friday I headed out there to pick up my race packet and swim the course for a little while. It's about an hour drive, even longer in traffic, so I headed out at 3:30 and still hit traffic. There was also another race that weekend, the Max-O-Mania, which consists of 3 race sort of like a mini Triple-T. It was supposed to be a team race but there were only 6 teams and the rest were solo racers. Race 1 was 1000yd swim and 3 mile run, Race 2 was the Quartermax and Race 3 was a TT start 10 mile bike, 500 yd swim and 2 mile run. I sat around and waited for the swim start.

Funny if you read Steve in a Speedo

After the swim start it was pretty boring so, I headed out to drive the bike course and check out the hills. The hills aren't that long they're just extremely steep and a pain in the ass to get up. They also make for some decently fast downhills which were quickly slowed by a turn or another uphill. Note the hay bales.

I was wondering why these were there as the hill and turn don't look that steep/sharp. (The next day I understood why they were there. I considered not slowing on the turn and then quickly realized I would end up in the hay bales if I didn't. I saw a few people cross the finish line with some big scrapes on their legs)...Then I headed home.

Race morning I woke up at 4:30, took the dog out as the g/f had to work night shift and I'm never sure when she'll be home in the morning. I debated on what to bring for fluids during the race and got in the car at 5:05. Then I realized I should bring a chair so, I went back and got a camp chair. The race starts at 7:30 but it's an  hour drive and there is only one entrance to Innsbrook which has a security gate. Every guest needs a pass to drive around and I wasn't sure how early people would show up and how long I would sit in the line of traffic...Hence the chair in the event I had a lot of time left over. I set up my stuff and sat down for a bit in the STL Tri Club tent. Of course it didn't take long but there were a lot of people still not parked at 7 and with transition closing at 7:15 this didn't leave them a lot of time. One girl was still getting her packet at 7:10 and she looked liked they type of girl who is late for everything...probably because she had to put on makeup. 

As you might be able to tell I opted for Gatorade in the aero bottle and a backup in the frame cage

A little before transition closed I headed down to swim a bit. Good thing since the RD likes to make up rules/penalties whenever he feels like it. This time it was a 2 minute penalty for everyone that wasn't out of the water in 2 minutes. Then, several minutes before the start, it was a 1:30 penalty if you swim on the wrong side of the buoys. He also made up a penalty for passing near the speed bumps on the course. I don't really care what type of penalties you choose to add to your race but, making them up minutes before the race starts is not the time to do it. Personally I'd like to see a penalty added for passing during a turn, this can get a bit dicey.

Swim 9:18

Then we got into the little corral on the beach for the start. There was a 30 second warning, no countdown, then a boom that caught everyone by surprise and we all ran into the water. The swim was short but eventful. I successfully drafted 90% of the race, got my legs pounded by some guy's arms for about 10 strokes, punched said guy in the side when he finally got tired of hitting my legs and got beside me. At 300 yards in we were fairly spread out and I felt there was no need for this. Especially since it couldn't have been doing much for his stroke. After the punch he tried to swim over me. I wasn't having this and veered into him. He stopped after that but sat right next to me. At the point I failed to understand WTF he was trying to do. It's like his goal was to piss someone off during the swim since he didn't pass me. Who knows...What I do know is that he fell apart on the run and I passed him. I'm a bit unhappy with my swim as I just swam a 400TT in 6:55. Granted that was in a pool but I swim nearly dead straight in open water. Maybe my skirmish in the water cost me some time.
The punchee exiting just in front of me

Glad I swam faster than the guy in the bike jersey

Anyway, out of the water and up the hill about 250 meters to T1. I hate long uphill runs to T1, I need to work on running after swimming. I didn't bother to clip my shoes in since the mount line was 30 feet from my rack and there was a turn right after the mount line.

Bike 54:21 (pace 19.9 mph)

The bike was tough, it rolling steep hills for the first 5 miles and my legs couldn't handle them seated because of the ride on Thursday. Around mile 16, at the last hill, I was cursing "G" for taking us on that route. I told him and he agreed, rather colorfully, that ride was a mistake. It was definitely a quoting Jens Voight type of ride towards the end. (SHUT UP LEGS!) I manged to not hit the hay bales from earlier or the Quartermax racers when we merged back in with them. I passed a few people, got passed by some speedy men and one woman from waves after me. Then I caught up to this 15 year old girl in her USA singlet and I couldn't figure out how the hell she got in front of me. I passed her and then she passed me on the last climb. Turns out she swam 7:15 and her T1 was about twice as fast as mine. She won her age group...her mom and dad also won their age groups. It was almost laughable as they fit the Type-A triathlon family stereotype to a T when you saw them together. Then it was time for T2.

I was lucky that girl did pass me as I would have forgot to get out of my shoes on the bike until I saw her do it. It was a slow transition as I wasn't looking forward to the first mile uphill. I grabbed some water and heard  "Come on, you can do it!" probably because I was walking. I always think, "yeah, I know I can, this isn't my first time at the rodeo."

Run 28:30 (nice and even)
The 1st mile sucked since it was mostly uphill, then you get a little downhill break but that leads to a steeper uphill. This Aussie passed me (how do I know he was Australian you ask? Mainly because of his accent and he had an Australian tri top on) and said it's tough running downhill...he recanted during the next uphill. On this hill I was passed by a girl from my tri club, she told me this was her least favorite hill and then went on to win her age group. A few uphills later (the elevation chart is basically a bunch of triangles) I caught my friend from the swim when he started walking. I don't think he had any idea who I was but wished me luck.

The last half mile or so was downhill and people from later waves started passing me. I kept yelling "run him down!" I didn't care, they weren't in my division. I almost coasted across the line. I would have except for this one little 5 foot mound that really slowed everyone down for a few seconds. I crossed the line in 1:37:23.

40th Male
49th Overall
3rd Clydesdale

Further proof my running sucks:
Swim: 45/187
Bike: 29/187
Run: 102/187

I didn't have a time goal in mind since it's such an odd distance. The hills also make it tough to speculate. I raced a good race and had a lot of fun. Then I sat around for 3 hours with the Tri club waiting for my medal :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Feeling like Crap and Backing Out of a Race

Yesterday and today, I've felt like crap. It was a struggle to get out of bed, I felt like a zombie and was tired most of the day. I did a short ride with the g/f last night and felt fairly tired most of the ride, I never perked up like I thought I would.

I've come up with some theories as to why I feel this way as it is not the first time this season it's happened. Here they are:

  • The g/f has been working nights and when she has a few days off she sleeps late and stays up later. I get up at the normal time and end up staying up later with her. So, it could be do to lack of sleep.
  •  It has also been very hot outside and my swim on Monday was in an outdoor pool in 90+ degree weather. So, I may be wiped out from training over the weekend and not resting on Monday like I normally do. 
  • It could be both of these reasons combined. 
Either way, I'm taking today and possibly tomorrow off depending on how I feel tomorrow. I'm racing this weekend and don't want to feel like crap because I know I'll still try to race if I can get out of bed and get there on time no matter how I feel...on another note, has anyone noticed that swimming with a cold is difficult?

This leads me to Backing Out of a Race. A few of the bloggers I read have recently backed out of races. While I have no issues with people backing out of a race if they REALLY don't want to do it or are sick/injured, I believe their reasons for backing out are due to more than not wanting to race.

If you're backing out of a race because you're a kick ass runner and you can't post a good bike split to save your life, who really cares? If you've only been biking for several months, of course you're going to be slow on the bike. Just have fun and stop trying to be so competitive right off the bat by worrying about your slow time. I bet you weren't a kick ass runner when you first started running but you stuck with it. You'll never regret starting a race but you will more than likely regret not starting a even if only slightly. Furthermore, if you live in an area with a large population of triathletes, most people are going to be ridiculously fast. Find a small race and maybe finishing closer to a podium in your AG will boost your self-confidence. I refuse to back out of a race unless it's due to a situation beyond my control.

If you're backing out of a race because your training is causing injuries and there is 3 months until the race, maybe you need to cut back on your mileage AFTER you've recovered. This happened both times I trained for a marathon and guess what I did? I cut back the mileage for the rest of training. If you keep getting injured then clearly something needs to change, you're probably doing too much or just doing too much too soon.

If you're backing out of a race because training is cutting into your social life, maybe long distance tris aren't your thing...or only be friends with triathletes/force your current friends to become triathletes.

Also, if you can't handle the amount of training for a half Ironman, what makes you think you can handle almost twice that amount for an Ironman?

Maybe I need to stop reading these blogs or just try to not be so critical when people aren't as Gung-ho about triathlons...

Monday, June 18, 2012

All American 5K...PR

Since I was taking a little "break" in between race training and I got an email about a mostly downhill point to point 5k with a finisher medal, I figured I could work on my speed for a few weeks. Sadly, I only trained for about 2 1/2 weeks instead of the 5 weeks I should have. I thought it was funny that they were giving out medals for a 5K. I suppose it's a good motivator to get people running.

My previous 5k PR is about 27 minutes (keep in mind I weighed about 255 and weigh 242 now) I figured I should be able to put a decent dent in that time. Due to my lack of training, I've never actually trained for a 5k other than my first race ever, I figured I'd just go out at a sub 8 pace and hold on as long as I could. 

I managed 7:53 for the first mile, however it was all downhill. The second mile was rolling hills but had a decent incline that slowed everyone down. Mile 2 was 8:15. After that my legs wouldn't move as fast as I would have liked them to and I slowed to about 8:20 or so, then it was back uphill which killed third mile was heart rate was SOARING. I don't think I've kept it above 160 for that long. The finish was flat and I managed to pick it back up...not as much as some people but, I didn't plan on having much left at the finish.

25:54...Can't complain too much. Now I just need to knock off another 4 minutes by next April. 

Then I ran back to the start to get my run in for the day. I suppose I'll go with a "Shit Triathletes Say" reference as the reason I didn't break 25 minutes...

I rode a hard 40 miles Saturday and it was hot and humid on race morning.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Race Conundrum

I've had my sights set on Branson 70.3 as it's about a 4 hour drive and renting a house would make it a nice little trip for September. Although, every time I mention I'm going to do Branson I hear "it's hilly." I always wonder why people make such a big deal out of hills. You'll be fine as long as you train for them which I have no problem doing. 

Anyway, today it was suggested to me again that I go to Club Nationals in Oklahoma City. At first I said no because I wanted to do a half, not an oly and both races are the same weekend. I knew the club was going to take care of getting our bikes down there so, it's not a bad deal. I also never bothered to look too closely at the Redman Tri (Club Nationals Race) website. Today, on my ride, it was pointed out to me that Redman also has a half. 

Now, I'm considering going to OKC and hanging out with the club the whole weekend. Branson is closer but it might be a bit more fun to race with the club. I'll need to decide by July 1st so I guess we'll see what I decide. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I feel like freakin Goldielocks...

Last weeks ride was really fast, to the point where I could barely keep up on the way out and couldn't hang on with the headwinds on the way back.

This past weekend, the ride was painfully slow on the way out. I kept thinking we would pick up the pace at some point but we didn't. There is nothing wrong with training at a slower pace but, I would have preferred to go a bit faster. I got my wish on the way back when two other guys felt the same way. The ride back was at least 50% faster.

Luckily the Thursday night rides are just about the perfect pace.

Anyone else feel like they have trouble keeping a comfortable pace in group rides?

Also, as it was the last week of open water swims (sadly) they decided to have a mass start race. I ended up finishing 42nd in about 19:30. Not very happy with this time as it was a 1k race but whatever, I almost decided  to go back to bed after I took the puppy out that morning.

Speaking of puppies...

Loki, with his life jacket that will last about a month, on the kayak

He only had to fall in the water 3 times before he realized he isn't the second coming (can't walk on water) and had to stay in the boat. I never thought I'd buy a dog a life jacket before buying one for myself.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Racing as a Clydesdale

As you can probably tell from my pictures, I'm a bit over 200lbs...245 at the start of the half-iron race to be exact. I enter the Clydesdale category at every race I enter as the chances of placing in my age group are very slim. The point I'm going to make in this post has been heavily debated on Slowtwitch, and probably other Tri forums, more than once.

Since I was going to be at my parents the weekend of the Jetton Park Triathlon, the first triathlon I ever raced, I was dying to know how I could do know that I have a bit of experience. It turns out, I did about 16 minutes better and set a sprint PR. I was very surprised at the category standings this year.

In 2011 I finished 3rd in the Clydesdales with a very slow time of 1:39:42 (in my mind), although not bad considering it was my first race.

This year I did much better with a time of 1:23:35. I managed to beat out the 2nd place guy from last year by 6 minutes however, I finished in 4th.

While I applaud the 1st-3rd place finishers, I'm a little suspicious about the 1:13 time. I realize the category is not the "Fat Man" category and was created for people who are say 6'5" and weigh 205 as they might have trouble keeping the same run pace as someone that is 5'8" and 160. Their body type might not allow them to run quite as fast. However if you're running close to sub 7 miles for a small sprint, signing up for the clydesdale group is kind of a cop-out. Why take the easy way out? Why not challenge yourself and try to get third in your age group? I'm not sure how old the guy is nor did I stick around to see the awards so I have no clue what his body type is. (The food sucked and I was hungry.) Looking at the age group results, he would have finished 2nd in the 25-29, 5th in 30-34 and 3rd in the 35-39.

This guy has every right to sign up as a Clydesdale if he is over 200lbs but, why take the easy way out for an award when you can challenge yourself in your age group? If I finish 1st in the Clydesdales more than once or can run 7 minute miles for a 5k in a tri you better believe I'm signing up for my age group from then on. You can hold me to this.

Last time I checked, you can't qualify for Kona as a Clydesdale.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Open Water Swims and Bike Crash :-(

First off, I didn't crash...keep reading for the story.

I have a "policy" of doing an open water swim every opportunity I get unless it's expensive or far away, like the OWS put on by a tri shop around here about an hour away which requires driving there in traffic on a weeknight and it's $25. However, Big Shark bike shop (which also has a tri racing team) has been putting on open water swims in a neighborhood about 30 minutes from me. It's the same swim course as the New Town Triathlon in July. It's a 0.62 mile course and it's as many laps as you can swim in 2 hours for $5. Not a bad deal. I think it was cheaper than paying the park entry fee to swim in the Chesapeake Bay.

I've gone the past three Saturdays and my swim times have varied a lot. The first week they were 17:30 each lap with a wetsuit. 19:30-20:00 without a wetsuit last week and about 19 minutes with a wetsuit this past Saturday. I have no clue what went on this week but, it may have something to do with my lack of swimming during the week. It's been a great time so far and they're having a race next weekend to end the series.

After the swim I head out for a ride with some people from the Tri Club. As I haven't really started training for a long race, I opted for the shorter 20 miles ride. It was slower than I wanted to go but the wind made it challenging and I pulled the whole way back into the wind. This weekend I wanted more of a challenge and figured I'd head out with 5 other people for a 40 mile ride. I had no idea how challenging this ride would be.

The ride got off to a bad start. The neighborhood is a very large neighborhood and it's a 2 mile ride to the exit we chose to use. Right before we got out a Penske truck comes flying to a stop sign at an intersection. We didn't have a stop nor did we think the drive was going to stop. I have no idea how this happen but the guy riding in front of me motioned he was going to slow and then put his hand back up to brake and I couldn't believe what I saw next...

His back wheel went up in the air and he went head first over the handlebars with his bike flipping over at the same time. It was one of the few times I've come skidding to a stop on a TT bike. He immediately sat up and everyone rushed over to see if he was alright. He had a few scrapes and said his neck hurt. You could tell from his helmet that he landed right on the top of his head. After several minutes of him sitting there and asking him how he felt, he said he wasn't alright and his neck really hurt. So, we called the ambulance and some people with their kids at the playground ran to their house and got him some ice. Then the ambulance, fire and police came not too long after. The officer said he was going to go after the FedEx guy for reckless driving after explaining the reasons one would be allowed to come to a stop passed the stop sign. 

Anyway, I'm sure he'll be OK. I haven't heard anything about it but I had a similar injury in HS and my neck was very stiff for a few days. With Pat's (the one who crashed) blessing we continued our ride. I'm not sure how he is doing right now as I don't know these guys very well. 

We finally got out on the main roads and I realized they were definitely out of my league. 25mph right away and I was struggling to stay on their wheels. I managed to stay within 15 feet for 4-5 miles and then it was more like within 50 feet and the gap kept getting greater until mile 13. They slowed down on a turn, I said I should have asked how far and HOW FAST, they laughed and told me to just stay straight on this road for 5 miles until I hit the little town and see the convenient store.  By the time I saw them hit an S-turn right before town they were at least 1/2 mile ahead. This is by far the hardest ride I've ever had. I averaged about 24 mph on the way out. The way back was a different story...

I knew we'd be riding into the wind on the way back and damn was it windy. They stopped at a couple turns since I had no idea where they were. The area we were in is mostly corn fields and everything looks the same. The only landmarks are railroad tracks. In short, the ride back was 17mph and my legs were screaming at me. 

It was a great challenge for myself and hopefully I'll be able to pull one week.