Monday, July 30, 2012

How the TdF is Broadcast

If you've ever wondered how they broadcast the Tour de France, check out this link:

It's pretty amazing. It'll also make you think twice about getting upset when the picture gets fuzzy for a few seconds.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tour de Donut

During Le Tour de France the Boeing Employees Bicycle Club, oddly enough, puts on the Tour de Donut every year. This year it happened to be on Bastille Day. The TdD is similar to the Krispy Kreme Challenge at NC State. You ride, eat donuts, ride some more, eat more donuts, try not to throw up and ride more. Each donut equals 5 minutes off your time.

The nurse, Loki and I made the drive out to Staunton, IL to do the ride. The nurse's mom volunteered to watch Loki. On a related note, if you want to attract a lot of attention to yourself and get stopped by 75% of the people you walk by then you should definitely get a weimaraner puppy. If I wasn't taken, Loki would be an excellent furry wingman.

We managed to get there an hour early and people had already laid their bikes down at the starting line...people that had no business being at the front of a bicycle "race." Granted the real "racers" were at the starting line but passing people on a bike is much more difficult than running. I'm all for people trying to be competitive but be realistic and don't make it difficult for everyone else.

Technically this my first bicycle race and first race involving a neutral start. I planned to ride with the tri club but since the nurse couldn't find the people she was going to ride with I stayed with her. I'm glad I did as I was racing the next day and it was fun to ride with her. She has never rode more than 20 miles so she would probably need some motivation towards the end.

We got our race crap and I talked the nurse into going up front and hopping in when the tri club peeps went by. She finally agreed when I convinced her I wouldn't go too fast. Two girls from the club had a good strategy, sprint to the first donut stop at 8.5 miles, eat donuts and then see how they feel.

It was a brisk ride to the first donut stop, some rolling hills, large groups of people blocking the road and people I would never be passed by on a bicycle. I decided I would sprint up the hills to get my heart rate up then ease off and wait for the nurse. We could see the first donut stop from about a half mile away and it was  very impressive. It looked like people riding in circles as the entrance and exits went around a circular path around a picnic shelter.


The tri club was still there and we grabbed our donuts and hung out with them. My goal, along with our President Elect, was to eat 10. Five at the first stop and five at the second stop. 

Do you like seefood?

I ate my 5 donuts which were heavier than I thought they would be. They're not as airy as Krispy Kreme's glazed donuts but not as heavy as cake donuts. Oh well, the goal is still double digits. The nurse at 3 at this stop, I think. After washing all the sugar off our hands we carried on. 

The ride was pretty boring for the next 8 miles, a cornfield on the left and train tracks on the right. We did notice an ambulance up ahead and someone from the tri club standing there. We later found out she had stopped on the side of the road and some woman rear ended her. The woman that did the rear ending left in the ambulance. The only down side of riding through farmland is some of the roads are nonexistent. At mile 17 we had to get walk our bikes across a couple hundred feet of rocks. Someone rode by and said "that's why I built this bike, so I can go over stuff like this." Right buddy, your fixed gear with disc wheels is perfect for heavy gravel and rocks. The next part of the course was short and steep rolling hills. I guess if you're afraid of going fast these can be a challenge. The descent on one hill should have provided enough momentum for the ascent on the next hill but, there were still a lot of people walking bikes. 

The next donut stop wasn't until around mile 24. It's too bad they're not evenly spread out but, I guess there isn't anywhere at mile 11 or 12 to have the stop. At this stop we caught up to the tri club again. I jokingly grabbed a whole box of donuts and the woman marking bibs said that someone actually took a whole box. She didn't notice if he finished the whole box. If he did, I'm sure he saw them again in a non donut shaped form on the side of the road somewhere. The 9th and 10th donuts were pretty tough to least I didn't need any nutrition for the ride. Our president elect was struggling with 8 and no amount of convincing was going to get him to eat 2 more. Probably a good thing he didn't. The nurse brought her total to 5 and then we were off again. 

The rest of the ride was fairly flat until the last few miles. There was a decent incline with most people walking up it. Then it was another series of steep short hills, these were a bit more difficult to maintain momentum on. After these hills it was smooth riding to the finish. 

Total riding time was 2:18 and race time was 2:48. We started several minutes after the start and the results aren't up. With every donut subtracting 5 minutes from your time, my adjusted time was under 2 hours. Then we found the pup and the g/f's mom. The pup was pooped and just wanted to lay in the grass. We also found out a lot of people were complaining about the hills...I guess those mountain bikes don't see many mountains. 

I also picked up this awesome jersey. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Town Triathlon Race Report

My decision to race New Town came before I knew about the Tour de Donut. Since I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a race involving donuts, it was a two race weekend. (Tour de Donut post coming soon) In keeping with the tradition of non-traditional distance around here New Town is a 1k swim, 20 mile bike and 4 mile run. The lake isn't quite big enough for a 1.5k swim but there is certainly enough road to make the rest of the race an Oly. I suppose it's a good first race that's longer than a sprint. New Town is also an odd neighborhood. It's not quite in the middle of nowhere but it's a massive neighborhood with restaurants and shops in the middle of corn fields. It looks a bit reminiscent of Desperate Housewives or Stepford Wives.

The day started about as early as Octomax with my departure at around 5am. I got there at 5:40 and transition closes at short, I got there way too early. However, too many people show up close to race time and parking would be a nightmare plus I didn't have my packet. So, with my early arrival I waited 30 seconds in line, got my packet and headed to transition. I guess everyone else on my rack had the same idea as me since it was already half full. The majority of the racks were empty.

I set up my crap at the empty far end of the rack. What's the difference if I'm already half way down, I might as well take the end and get some room. Then I wandered around to talk to some tri club peeps.

Eventually transition was busy and I was just sitting around waiting for the ideal time to start swimming.

Finally a little after 7, I hopped in the water for a little warm up. Not long after I got out, I heard the RD (owner of the race timing company that also put on Octomax) telling everyone that the swim warm up was closed...what a surprise. At least he wasn't making up rules at the start this time.

Swim: 19:38
Pace: 1:48/100yd
213/548 (the fishes were out today)

The start was a TT start with everyone starting 5 second apart. Not a bad race if you're doing your first Open Water Swim as it isn't very crowded. I was number 99 so, the downside of a TT start was I only had 98 people to pick off on the bike course minus all the people I passed in the swim, plus the people that passed me. Anyway, 1..2..3..4..Go...I hit the mat and jumped/dove as far as I could to avoid the rocks after the mats in the water. Next thing I know, my heart rate monitor is around my waist. I did the deadman float for a few seconds to try and fix it and then I was off. The first buoy was maybe 300 yards and there were already people pretending to breaststroke near the retaining wall but even while swimming I could tell they were walking. No matter, I'm not going to win anything. The only downside to this start is everyone is so spread out, ahead, back and 50 feet to my left that there was no one to draft off. The first opportunity came about half way but they were too fast for me to keep up. After that it was swim a bit alone and hop behind someone passing me. I felt good during the swim and didn't have any shoulder pain that I seem to be experiencing in the pool. The exit area is very small and getting out I felt like a dick as I kind of bumped (while still swimming) one of the challenged athletes out of the way. I didn't realize he was one until after I heard the announcer say he was out of the water, I figured it was just some guy taking his sweet time to get out of the water. Sorry. As far as my pace the hell did I swim more than twice as far, faster when compared to Octomax?

If I had known this was the picture spot I would have waited to get the water out of my ear. (Note the wheelchair behind me)

Bike: 102/548
Pace: 22 mph

I was very curious as to how the bike was going to go after the long ride the day before. I clipped in my shoes this time and did somewhat of a flying mount. I missed stepping on my left shoe and swerved to the left a bit but managed to get going without any issue. Then I was passed right out of the gate by some kid with a rack on the back of his bike. I decided some guy with a rear bike rack wasn't going to have a faster bike than me. I waited until we got out of the neighborhood, then passed him and never saw him again.

The wind usually sucks around this area but today it wasn't bad. On some of the rides I've done out here my paces has been 25, 26 mph on the way out and 17 or 18 on the way back. I never hit 25 as there seemed to be a slight headwind the whole way. I spent the ride passing people every minute or two. I was only passed by 3 people but since people were still getting in the water when I started the bike it's not surprising that the speed demons didn't catch me. I had a bit of a head start. My pace was steady overall and I felt like I could have gone a little faster but, I didn't want to press my luck. I'm not sure what I was doing coming into T2 but I was repassed right at the mount line by some girl.

Run: 36:43
Pace: 9:11
368/548 (See the weakest leg trend?)

T2 was slow as I couldn't get my right shoe on and had to sit down. Then I was walking out of transition and got yelled at by someone from the tri club for not running through transition so, I ran. Again, no plan for the run just pick a pace and see if I can hold on. The run was easier than last year, the trees are bigger and it was a bit cooler. The only problem was the GPS kept cutting out so I had no clue what my pace was. I thought I was going to end up with 9:45s but, I was way off. Everyone and their mother passed me on the run but, I knew this was going to happen. One guy from my tri club who was doing his second tri passed me fairly quickly. I had no idea he was that fast...he ran 25:23. His swim is great. If he could only pick it up on the bike he could probably win his errr....our :-( ...age group. 

I manged to hang on for the rest of the run and saw number 100 pass me with about a half mile to go. I told him I was disappointed that it took him an hour and 45 minutes to pass me when I only had a 5 second head start. I don't think he got the joke. 

Anyway, I finished strong and managed to knock 11 minutes off my time from last year...I happened to be visiting the nurse last year when the race was going on before I moved here. Then I watched some people run in, packed up my stuff and found the food. One good thing about this racing company is they have excellent food.

Things of note for next year:

  • Don't do a donut race the day before...unless it happens to be the day before.
  • Take it easy on the swim and kill yourself on the bike...fastest bike split gets a $50 gift card. Why not? It's probably my only chance at winning something. 26.3 mph looks like it should do it. 
  • Put on sunscreen after the race since there is virtually ZERO shade. 
  • Tighten your heart rate strap, or at least check that it isn't flipped over BEFORE getting on the bike.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Trying to be positive on here...

and I apologize for the rant but every time I ride a particular trail in St. Louis there is always one idiot on Grant's Trail. The only time there wasn't an idiot was when it was 105 degrees out. Maybe I was the idiot for riding in that heat.

Tonight was supposed to be a leisurely ride since I'm going to switch my long run to tomorrow and do a double brick this weekend of significant distance. It was a decent pace until I turned around. Then I caught up to these two guys, one was drafting off the other. I assumed they were together and I was wrong. I got within 50 feet and the drafter pulls out in front. I pass the draftee and a few seconds later I got into the slipstream of the drafter and quickly swung around him.

This guy decides to get on my wheel. I figured he might since I saw him drafting the other guy. I slowly kept picking up the pace to see if he would back off but he didn't. After about a mile we finally hit a light, I grab my water bottle and then I hear "Is it alright if I draft off you?"

WTF!?!?! Seriously? We're on a busy multi-use trail, I have no clue who you are and you want to draft off me? Just because I look experienced doesn't mean I'm comfortable with just anyone drafting. How do I know if you have any idea how to draft? For that matter, if someone looks experienced they will probably be smart enough to not be okay with you drafting. I guess at least he finally asked but really?

I said "Not really, I don't know you. If you want to draft tonight go to Carondelet Park." (Carondelet Park has Tuesday Night Crits with races of several ability levels.) He didn't say anything but I took off when we got a cross signal and he was moving as well. He didn't last very long...not sure why he felt the need to try to get in front of me...since I averaged 29 for the next mile.

What is wrong with people? Did you not get enough drafting today because the Tour de France has a rest day? If you want to draft there are a TON of group rides every night and most mornings in the area. Drafting on a busy trail is dangerous especially if you don't know what you're doing and if you're asking me to draft on this particular trail I'm going to assume you don't know what you're doing.  Sometimes there is a lot of braking before a pass is possible due to people coming the other way. You also shouldn't be drafting off unsuspecting people as you might scare the crap out of them or they might brake suddenly and you could easily cause an accident. I'm not interested in using hand signals or telling someone what I'm doing when I wanted to ride "alone".

Some guy did this to the nurse a few weeks ago on the same trail for a long time. She rides 15-16 mph. If you have the ability to draft well you should be riding faster than this.

Furthermore, why would you go to a trail BY YOURSELF to find people to draft off? Go find a group ride you morons.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not Tri Related

....unless you consider it related to Vineman but funny. Click on the pic to enlarge it

"If you're drunk when the package shows up, you will not be allowed to receive it."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dear woman in the lane next to me...

Last night was the second time this happened. You're swimming along for who knows how long while I'm swimming sets. Don't worry about me pushing off the wall at the same time you do, I can't help that you turn around at the same time as the pace clock hits 30 or 60. I feel bad about it but there is no need to stop because you're distracted, I'll be ahead of you in no time. Just relax and enjoy swimming in my wake :-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Freedom 4 Miler and Group Ride

The 4th of July was rather uneventful for me. The g/f, who shall now be referred to as "The Nurse," had to work so I had the day to myself with the pup. Since there was nothing better to do, as I still don't know many people here and Wednesdays are running days, a 4 mile race sounded like a brilliant idea...even if it was 90 degrees at 7am.

The race was fairly uneventful. I headed downtown a little after 6, did my usual warm-up routine and headed to the start line. I considered wearing my flag bathing suit but, it's too big and just running around the house in it was a pain. That left me wearing my Stars and Stripes Aviators. In the corral there was a guy wearing flag tights, a flag shirt and a flag as a cape. The girl running with him was dressed up as the statue of liberty. I wish I had my camera but I never run with one. I stayed near them most of the race and people were amazed by their costumes. There was a costume contest and I'm assuming they won since no one else was dressed up. I can't blame anyone for not dressing up due to the heat.

After the start the race was, like I said, uneventful. I decided to run an easy tempo pace, faster than Oly race pace. Actually it was faster than my last sprint pace but that doesn't really count. I was slightly above 9s on the way out and slowed down a decent bit in the 3rd mile as there was a decent incline. I've come to the conclusion that people in St. Louis do not run hills or they just go out too fast in short races...or they didn't pace properly for the heat. Nevertheless, I slowed on the incline but everyone else slowed more than I did and I started passing people. I ended up finishing in 36:50. I can't say I'm unhappy with my time as I wasn't trying to run a fast as possible. I don't think I've run a 4 miler but my last 8k (4.96 miles) was 45 minutes +/- a few seconds.

I planned on heading out to the Wednesday TTs which was moved to 10am due to the holiday but, I didn't get home soon enough and didn't feel like rushing to make it there on time. So, I watched Mark Cavendish crash and hung out with Loki the rest of the day, then cooked dinner for the nurse.

Yesterday, the Thursday group ride was canceled, via Facebook, due to the heat. I'm not quite sure why as it was hotter last Thursday than yesterday. Oh well, I still planned on riding because if I didn't, I would be violating my policy of "it's never too hot to train." I headed to the normal meeting place and did about 20 miles. I found out later that some people didn't get the message and still showed up. I guess I shouldn't have screwed around and got there at the normal time.

There won't be any racing this weekend but, next weekend could possibly hurt. I have the Tour de Donut in Staunton, IL on Saturday. Oddly enough, this race is put on by the Boeing Employees Bike Club...there are a lot of defense contractors in St. Louis. Probably because of the Air Force Base just outside the city. The Tour de Donut is a 35 mile spoof of the TdF. Basically, you ride and eat donuts at two stops. For each donut one eats, 5 minutes is subtracted from one's time. Last year someone ate 40. Should be interesting. Then on Sunday is the New Town Triathlon. It's put on by Ultramax and sticking with their tradition of races with odd distances, it's a 0.62 mile swim (1k...I guess they don't like the metric system), 20 mile bike and 4 mile run. Last year I happened to be in St. Louis the weekend of the race and raced it. The run was brutal, 90+ degrees with almost no shade. Hopefully more of the neighborhood is out with sprinklers this year.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Race Cost Benefit Analysis

After paying to run only a mile, I thought about the value or entertainment value of a race. Personally, I don't care how much a race costs. If I want to do it, I'm going to pony up the cash and not think twice about it...except for maybe the Tough Mudder. I've been going back and forth on this one because I'm afraid I'm going to hurt myself or get hurt by someone else.

Anyway, the Macklind Mile was $25 for a mile that took me 6:49 to run. The triathlon I did last weekend was $65 (due to a nice discount I got), the 5k the weekend before that was $30 but you got a medal and the Half-Ironman was $175 because I signed up really early.

So, for the Macklind mile that race cost me about $3.70 per minute, a very expensive race. Below are the cost per minute for the other races mentioned.

Octomax Tri: $0.67/minute (would have been $0.97 without the discount)

5k: $1.15/minute + medal (only mentioned because this is odd for a 5k)

Rev3 Knoxville Half: $0.39/minute

Average Ironman in 2012 if completed in 14 hours (excluding IMNY) would be $0.71/minute

So, it seems like two things are true. The longer the race the less it cost per minute until you step up to the Ironman distance (granted there are cheaper 140.6 races out there) and obviously the slower you are the less it costs per minute. Remember that if you're not winning races or your age group, you're just getting more bang for your buck and most importantly you're doing this because it's fun!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Macklind Mile

There is a running store about a half mile from my house that I've run or walked to more than once. They're probably the biggest running store(s) in St. Louis. If not, they put on the most events. One of them being the Macklind Mile, named after the street it's run on Macklind Ave. The finish line is directly in front of one of their stores. Since it's the first race I could walk to the start line and it's only a mile, I decided to do it. The main reason is because I've never run a race that short before. Sure, we've all done mile repeats but running a mile race is a little different. It's almost an all out effort.

I meant to practice my pace on Wednesday night but that didn't happen because it was the first week of puppy training for Loki and I couldn't work around it. So, I figured I'd try to keep it under 7 minutes.

The Men's race didn't start until 9:20. I tried to kill some time with Loki before I left at 8:30 and I would be gone most of the day. It's been a record setting week of high temperatures with every day being over 100 for the high. Needless to say, I had a good sweat going by the time I got to the start and an even better sweat after I warmed up.

I think it was around 90 at the start

The mile is a very interesting race, I started out sub 6 according to my Garmin probably due to a steep downhill. The race is around an 80 feet drop in elevation. I slowed to sub 7 during the slight incline and picked it up a bit for the last half mile. I felt fine until it flattened out for the last 1/8 mile and my legs could feel it but I managed to hang on until the end.

Finish Time:
Mostly towards the back in all the groups as the slower people run the Friend's and Family wave. However it was kind of a shame as the excitement was over so quickly. If you think a 5k goes by fast, run a mile.

Then I ran...sorta...home to get the dog and head to the end of the street to watch the elite runners go by. I was drenched and decided to change my shirt but it didn't matter as that shirt was drenched within a couple minutes. The fastest male was 4:09 and the fastest female was 4:48.

A couple hours later, I went riding. I needed to ride for 2 hours according to my training sucked. The heat was brutal and my arm coolers dried out in less than 5 minutes each time. I didn't not plan accordingly for hydration and basically ran out of water. Stopping for a light made it feel like I was in an oven.

Speaking of running fast there was an interesting post on Slowtwitch about how long you can maintain the world record marathon pace of 4:43/mile (12.63 mph). I never attempted it but after that I would guess 300 meters if I'm lucky. That pace has to be faster than most people can sprint 200m. Hell, it's faster than your average person can ride 26.2 miles on a bike.

Tomorrow, I'll have more clever analysis on paying to run a mile race.