Thursday, August 15, 2013

Push it to the Limit

As runners or triathletes I'm sure we've all done this at some point in our lives. I know I've done this many times running at the track or at a 5k. I never thought I'd do this is on a long bike ride where the goal is to take it easy.

Two weekends ago I rode 120 miles with 90 of them being flat and 10 being rolling hills. Miles 100-115 were hills. One of them having the gradient profile as shown below.

It's a very short climb but a 7.3% average grade is steep for most cyclists. I felt perfectly fine on this ride until I hit the 0.57 mile point where the grade tops out. I went from feeling great to feeling as if I were going to die in about 30 seconds...I went over my limit. It took about 5 minutes to catch my breath and cool off. Needless to say, I tried to ride the hill too fast. I guess it's difficult to judge how quickly you can red line and how long it will take to recover after you've been riding for several hours. Once we got down the hill and back on to the flats, I was peachy. I decided to wait at the bottom of the two remaining hills (we made them all out and backs) to avoid a potential trip to the hospital. Like I said, I felt fine on the bike after catching my breath but then I crashed and burned a half mile into the run.

Last weekend I rode just about the same route except we hit the hills at 80 miles. I decided to take it easy on the hills this week and made it up all of them without any issue. I think my max heart rate was also 15 bpm lower and I didn't crash and burn on the run.

You walk a fine line in the later parts of long rides/runs. I'm guessing the same goes for later parts of the Ironman. I never realized how easily and quickly the point of no return can be reached until I reached it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Route 66 Half Iron Race Report

I needed a 70.3 before IMWI in September and I did not feel like traveling to Racine, Muncie or Steelhead. So, I was thrilled (somewhat) that there was going to be a 70.3 about 90 minutes from St. Louis. The Route 66 Half Iron Triathlon in Springfield, Illinois. I was not thrilled about racing in July but the weather ended up surprising everyone.

As usual everyone wanted to know if the race would be wetsuit legal. Really? A lake in the midwest in the summer wetsuit legal? Yeah Right. I was worried about the opposite, the water being too warm. When race day was finally close enough to be in the 10 day forecast it didn't seem to bad...low 80s for a high. I was still a little worried about how my body would handle the heat and how easy I'd have to take it. Then the RD posted the water temperature...89 degrees. Not the ideal swimming temperature.

I kept checking the forecast and the high temperature kept dropping until it was 77, I think. The low temperatures that week were very low as well. I thought this was going to turn out to be the ideal conditions for a race. Three or Four days before the race the water had dropped to 87. Not as bad as 89 but still fairly warm.

When packing for the race, I realized it was going to be in the 50s on race morning and I might need a jacket. It seemed like a dream...I need a jacket in July? At packet pickup the water temperature was down to! Crap, why didn't I bring my wetsuit? The nurse was also racing and we were both worried about being cold on the bike.

Then on race morning they announced the race would be wetsuit legal...are you kidding? In July? Whats going on here? I don't really care, last summer sucked. It was in the 100s for at least a month. I don't remember the last time there was a summer this "cool" where I've lived. Even though the race was wetsuit legal you weren't eligible for awards if you wore one. Since I still weigh 221, I figured I might have a shot at placing as a clydesdale so I wouldn't have worn one.

Pre Race:

The Nurse and I headed down to transition from the hotel all bundled up for the cold summer morning. We both got our stuff set up and just barely made it before a giant swarm of racers hit body marking. I walked down to listen to the prerace meeting which was barely pre race. I was in the first wave and they were starting the race at 7 no matter what. They waited so long for the briefing that not everyone made it into the water before the horn went off.

Swim: 41:01

Not my best swim but I'd like to think I was taking it easy. I'm still drifting to my right when I swim for some reason. The water was slightly choppy and most people thought the swim was really choppy. Given the OWS back in June and the Angry Ocean Triathlon I did last year, this water was a piece of cake. Not much to say about the swim. Tried to draft but failed. I was drafted off but they kept hitting my legs and I was getting pissed so I slowed down and moved over. Seriously people, I can understand hitting someone's legs once or twice if you're trying to draft but if you're going to do it over and over, GO AROUND and STOP DRAFTING. It's not like I'm a fast swimmer. There are 60 people in our wave, it's not that crowded. Ruining my kick and body position is not good for either of us. It can't be good for your stroke either.

Bike: 2:56:21, just barely 19 mph...19.01

The bike course was mostly flat with a lot of crappy roads. There was a sign that said "Enjoy The Mother Road." (Apparently Route 66 is known as "The Mother Road.") Yes, Thanks, I'll enjoy your crappy roads. The only problem with flat courses is wind. When you get the tailwind first, the strength of the headwind it difficult to determine. I suspect I could have gone a little faster with the tailwind but, I'm happy with the way things turned out.

I felt really good on the bike and did a great job of keeping my heart rate down. The low temperatures made it a bit easier. I even put my arm coolers on just to have something dry on my body in an attempt to stay warm. My goal was to keep the bike under 3 hours. I was averaging about 19.5 mph until the last 10-15 miles. The wind picked up and it was in my face for the rest of the ride. I managed to keep my pace high enough and my HR at a decent enough level to feel pretty good getting off the bike.

A couple of interesting things I noticed on the bike...

-Grabbing a water bottle at 20 mph is fairly dangerous. I didn't realize how fast I was going until I grabbed the bottle. I slowed down a little at the next exchanges.

-There must have been a decent number of first timers or people who don't know how to pace. I was surprised at how many people passed me between miles 5 and 15 only to re-pass them in the next 5-10 miles and never see them again.

-I drank too much water on the bike and thanks to the cooler temperatures I peed THREE times...the first, second and third times I've peed on a bike. It's not as hard as I thought it would be. The hardest part was checking to see how close the person behind me was.

I hit transition and took my time getting ready to run. It was no surprise when I had to pee again. I think the only thing that went wrong in this race was having to wait a minute for the port-a-potty.

Then I was off and running.

Run: wait for it

I felt good starting the run but things got off to a bad start. I popped a salt pill right after the bathroom without realizing I didn't have any water. I figured I could run with it under my tongue until the first mile but about 2 minutes later it opened in my mouth. I started coughing but kept running. I had been trying to save up saliva so I could swallow the pill so my mouth was back to normal pretty quickly. Amazingly, that was the worst part of the run.

Due to the bathroom break I wasn't quite sure of my pace so, I settled into what felt comfortable. My HR monitor decided not to work after the bike so that wasn't any help. It turned out that my lack of HR info was a good thing. After I hit the first mile, I watched my pace for a bit and noticed I had settled in at about 9:50. Knowing how my running goes, I thought this was a bit too fast. However, I also wanted to break 6 hours and I had 2:18 to do it. Somewhere between miles 2 and 3 I decided I was going to hold this pace for as long as I could. It was sub 6 or bust.

Strangely, my pace kept getting faster and I was feeling great after 5 miles between 9:18 and 9:38. I think around mile 4 there were a bunch of guys hanging out in the front yard with a football. It was clear one of them wanted to throw a pass to a runner. So, I raised up my hands like I was open and he threw it. I caught it and threw it back, I felt spectacular after that.

The run course was mostly flat but there was some little hills. I kept wondering which one I would blow up on. I couldn't believe that I held sub 10 minute miles for 9.5-10 miles. I also couldn't believe I had 4 gels on the run without and GI issues.

Up until that point I thought I might be able to PR for a half marathon. The slowdown was on a gradual uphill but I was determined to hold it together. I passed someone from the tri club but we stayed close enough to chat for a bit. He passed me after the last turn around and slowly pulled away. I was running 11 minutes miles at that point but I felt Okay. I think the only thing that kept me running was knowing I was going to go sub 6. With a little less than a mile to go, there were some tri club peoples screaming and cheering for me. It was a great boost and I picked up the pace again. It started to hurt. I knew I could walk the rest of the way and stay sub 6 but there was no way in hell I was going to walk after having that great of a run. I crossed the bridge and rounded the corner. The clock said 5:53:30...holy shit, I'll be under 5:54. I couldn't believe it. I crossed the line at 5:53:48 and ran my second fastest half marathon in 2:11:42. Then my body hurt for a couple hours.

Run: 2:11:42

Race Time 5:53:48

I can't figure out why it's rotated.

It took four 70.3s to finally have a nearly perfect one. Although I think I just got lucky with the temperature being so low. Oh well, they don't show the temperature in the race results.

They also gave us some nifty socks

Sadly, I missed the podium by 4 minutes. I was a minute ahead of the 3rd place guy after the bike (I had no idea who he was) but, he ran 5 minutes faster than I did. I don't think there was any way I could have run faster. I probably could have made up 3-4 minutes on the bike if I used the tailwinds a bit better. There was also the ~1 minute bathroom break. No matter, I'll take a 1 hour and 25 minute PR any day.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

All American 5K PR!

I did this race last year for a PR and PR'd by almost a minute again this year. It's easy to PR at this race considering the course is point to point with a loss in elevation of about 100 feet.

In the last 1/4 mile or so I passed this guy (#536) but he managed to out "sprint" me in the last 100 meters.

You may have out sprinted me Mr. 536 but, I still beat your time by 4 seconds...just so you know. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Century Ride

It was hot (92 at the end) and I felt as though I was going to fall asleep between miles 95-103. My butt hurt, my feet hurt but surprisingly my legs felt fine.

Two great IM status checks in 2 weeks. With 2 1/2 months to go the plan is to get 4 more century rides in with one of them being 130 miles.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sunnen Lake 2 Mile Open Water Swim "Race"

This was a race but, I had no intentions of actually racing it. The only thing I was interested in was getting in a long open water swim sans wetsuit and seeing how I felt after it.

The swim took place, last Sunday, about 90 minutes south of St. Louis at a YMCA Camp where the nurse used to be a camp counselor/lifeguard. We go down there, got registered and I decided to see how cold the water felt before the race. They said it was low to mid 70s and it felt pretty chilly.

Getting in for the start wasn't that bad but, I did notice the wind creating a pretty decent current against the direction of swimming. After floating around for a minute I was off and I was amazed at how soon I was all by myself. There weren't nearly as many people as a tri start so it was weird to not bump into anyone.

The swim course looked something like this:

The current was noticeable for the first and longest leg. Sometimes it feels like you fly by a buoy during a swim but I felt like I was barely moving around it. After the second buoy you'd think you'd still be swimming with the current but there was a cove and there was also a current into the cove. Lucky us. On the second loop things seemed to get worse. I felt like I was getting tossed around and had a ringing in my ear from the "waves" hitting it. This lake had some mini swells and I sort of felt like I was trying to time my breathing as if I were swimming in the ocean.

For some reason I had 58 minutes in my head but I knew that wasn't going to happen after I rounded the second buoy again. At this point I had no idea how slow I was going. I kept looking back while breathing just to make sure I was getting farther away from the last buoys. The last leg was somewhat of a struggle considering I was in a lake. Then after the last buoy it was 200-300 meters to shore. This part really proved how strong the current was. The "beach" was a 30 meter area between a tiny sailboat and a dock with a pontoon boat. I was sighting pretty far left of the sailboat and after 10 strokes I'd look again I I was headed straight for the pontoon. This went on for a few minutes until I noticed people standing on the boat pointing to my left. I kept thinking, "Yeah, yeah, I know. There's a current. I promise I don't swim this crooked."

I ended up not running into the boat and made it to shore in 1:14. I was a bit dizzy and it took about 5 minutes to recover. Not the time I was looking for but, in the results email the RD mentioned how bad things got after the first loop. So, I guess I did alright relative to the conditions. Then we showered and went to the lunch buffet at the lodge.

This turned out to be a good gauge on where my swimming stands. I definitely need to work on my longer swims. At least this went better than my first 2.4 mile swim. I had never swam more than 1600 meters and signed up for the swim. I made it through in something like 1:45 but was out of it for the rest of the day. Hopefully I can get in another continuous 2 mile OWS in about a month to see if things are any better.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

American Triple-T Race Weekend - Part 2

I finally finished this thing. It was much longer than I thought it would be and was determined to write a post about it...unlike the Vino Fondo which I thought a post about that would be boring.

After a bit of down time, hoping I ate the right things and drank enough, I was about to do something that I've never done before and might never do two ways. I would bet not many triathletes have done this either...(1st way) my second olympic in the same day and (2nd way) a bike, swim, run.

Race #3 - PM ~Olympic

Bike: 40k
Swim: 1.5k
Run: 6.55 miles

The start of this race was particularly brutal. Standing directly in the sun in transition while waiting for the TT bike start was not fun. Little did we know, we would be cooled off soon enough. I got a bit antsy and "jumped the line" when I saw people in the 300s.

The course was an out and back, down the hill which we would climb 4 times that weekend, out on some rolling hills which aren't really shown in the elevation profile, up one more short hill, then trying not to crash down a very steep hill and out on to a false flat. Again, I wondered why I was going so slow on the flats. After the turn around, I realized why. It wasn't flat.

3 miles later I reached the steep hill I had just come down and it started pouring. Of course it comes while I'm on the hill and can't take my sunglasses, which became more of a foggy prism due to the rain, off. The hill went on for 1.9 miles according to the map however, it did not seem that bad. I think I was distracted by the rain and forgot about the hill. No one realized it wasn't raining back in transition and we were all wondering if the swim would be cancelled. Nevertheless, I was back to transition in no time.

T1 was by far the most comical transition I've ever been in. If you ever get the chance to do a wetsuit legal bike, swim, run it. Do it for the sole purpose of listening to everyone laugh and complain about trying to get their wetsuits on. You know how Ironman has wetsuit strippers? This race had wetsuit helpers. I think it took a little over 5 minutes to get my wetsuit on.

The swim was refreshing and would have been more refreshing if it hadn't rained on the bike. Everyone took it slow and I kept wondering if I would cramp up like everyone said. At the end of the first loop I could feel my calves try to cramp up so, I swam the second loop without kicking.

I successfully made it out of the water and got my wetsuit off without cramping. I'm not sure if it was due to the race format or the fact that I had already done one race in the morning but, I could tell right away this run was going to be slow. I decided there would be no running uphill, except for the false flats. This strategy seemed to work well and then I got to mile 4.5 which turned out to be a repeat of mile 5.5 in the last race. The port-a-pottie was needed immediately. I suspect it was from the pizza the night before. After my short break it was mostly downhill and this time I crossed the finish feeling like I actually race an olympic. Not what I wanted to feel like.

The biggest downside for some people is, the slower you are, the less time you have to recover for the next race. We headed back to the hotel and I did not seem to be in the mood to be racing in the morning. A few hours later after eating I seemed to be OK with racing again the next day.

Race #4 - Half Iron

Swim: 1.2 miles (not really)
Bike: 56 miles
Run: 13.1 miles

This morning would be a bit more pleasant. The nurse switched rooms at some point on Saturday because our AC wasn't working and we ended up with 2 double beds. The pup slept on his bed all night, for once in his life, between the 2 beds. I awoke somewhat ready to complete a half iron. Now that I think about it, for just about everyone, this weekend isn't full of races. It's full of events to complete. There wasn't much racing going on, for me at least. The first visit to the bathroom was not looking good as it looked like I had not had enough water the night before. I drank as much as I could but had no idea it would end up being as bad as it was.

So for the third time that weekend, stand on the beach and talk, take a group photo then blend into line when you got tired of waiting. The only difference would be the Little Smokies Half people starting a few minutes after everyone. They opted for about 1/3 of the torture and only signed up for the half.

The swim start went the same way all the others went, walk out to the first buoy and (today I could easily insert the word reluctantly) start to swim. Nothing to talk about here other than watching all the Little Smokies people fly by in the water. I was out of the water in just over 32 minutes...a 6 minute PR which is impossible. I would bet the course was short. The previous weekend I swam 2k (about 1.2 miles) in 35 minutes at a moderate pace in a wetsuit. This swim was at a less than moderate pace and unless I was going with a current both ways in a LAKE, there is no way this course was 1.2 miles. Not that I cared considering I still swam about 3 miles in 2 days.

The bike was a blast. I didn't care about all the people passing me and tried to take it easy. Sadly, around mile 18 or so, I slowly made my way downhill and around a corner to find about 50 people stopped with an ambulance in front of them. It was pretty clear that someone had crashed. Everyone stood around and ate and drank while we waited. We all agreed to space ourselves out when we started back up again. But, when the ambulance moved a couple douche bags in the back decided they didn't want to wait. Then some guy, who may or may not have been me, called them an A-hole and said something about God forbid they have to wait 5 minutes during a whole weekend of racing while they try to save someone's life. Seriously, they were a few minutes behind ME on the bike. I don't think they're going to be winning anything.

After starting again I saw our club president walking around and bike was off the road. I asked if he was alright and he said he was but a woman in our club was in the ambulance. I was pretty shocked and didn't think when I asked if she was alright...clearly she wasn't if she needed an ambulance. I suppose I should have asked if she is going to be alright. Either way, she is going to be fine. I was a tad bit scared, for her and for myself, the rest of the first loop.

I stopped for a few minutes to refill my bottles before heading out on the second loop and wished I had brought a spare bottle to leave on the table at the turn around. Even without the bottle I had 500 calories in my aero bottle mixed with 25 ounces of water and maybe 15 oz of water in the other compartment. I also refilled the 15 oz part twice on the first loop and finished it. So, I'm guessing I had 70 oz of fluids on the first loop. I also had 2 Gus and half a bonk breaker so around 850 calories for the first loop.

The second loop was not as much of a blast. It was a tad bit slower based on speed than the first but was faster considering I didn't stop. I played leapfrog with the same 5 people for most of the second loop as I would pass them on the hills and they would pass me on the downhills and false flats. This happened until I passed all of them on one of the flats. I thought this was a bit odd and figured I was having a hard time judging my effort. My heart rate didn't get above 140 very often so I figured this was good. I also managed to keep it below 150 on all the climbs. Some climbs in training I hit 165 or 166 which for me on the bike is about max heart rate and I'm barely keeping myself upright. I felt pretty good getting off the bike but was getting antsy the last 5 or 6 miles and may have gone a little faster than I should have. Now that I think about it I was slightly dripping sweat during the last 2 climbs.

That loop I took in 450 calories in fluids and 200 more in Gu. I think I had a little less water due to poor planning with my bottles. So, about 1500 calories for about a 4 hour ride. Better than Branson  in time and fueling but I'm still not sure where I went wrong...I seriously doubt it was electrolytes since my mix had a decent amount of sodium and potassium. I've also heard several experts in the field say that electrolytes don't affect performance as has been proven in numerous tests during Ironman races.

The run started off great. I walked the steeper uphills, drank at least one cup of water every mile, took 2 gels and kept about a 12 min/mile pace. I finished the first loop in 1:19 and figured I would need to walk a bit more and planned for 1:30 for the second loop. As soon as I headed out on the second loop the sun got to me. I did more walking than the first loop and stuck to the same drinking routine. The only problem was I noticed my stomach getting bigger.

Just before the turn around I decided I would drink some Coke and see if that helped my stomach. In hindsight, I probably should have started drinking Coke earlier but who knows. I also had to go to the bathroom. This is the point where things went downhill pretty quickly. In the port a potty it was probably at least half blood with the rest being urine. I managed to get my sunglasses off to verify. Needless to say I was immediately scared.

I had this happen once before on a run and started walking and took the metro home. I chalked it up to having an empty bladder and my bladder rubbing together while running caused the bleeding, or whatever. I looked it up on my cell phone while walking. I did not think I had been running long and fast enough enough (7.5 miles) for it to be Rhabdomyolysis. Given what my body had been through over the weekend, I figured it could be worse this time.

I walked the last 3.25 miles and it was the longest hour of my life. I kept trying to drink water but my stomach just got a little more bloated. With 2 miles left to go I was not feeling good. I kept doing multiplication in my head in an attempt to gauge how well my brain was functioning. Between 2 and 1 miles left I wanted to sit on the side of the trail and cry. It (I) was hot and somewhat humid and it felt like a death march. I knew if I did this I would likely never get back up. At the water stop with 1 mile left I drank more water even though I knew my body wasn't doing anything with it. After that I was not very steady walking up the small hills and I felt a little light headed. My only goal was to make it off the trail, out of the woods and back to the road. Once I made it to the road I was about 90% sure I'd make it less than the half mile to the finish.

I saw the nurse and the pup. I think she was wondering why I didn't look too happy and she eventually figured it out. I told her I peed blood and was going to the med tent as soon as I crossed the finish. The pup was excited to see me and kept trying to jump on me and was worried he was going to knock me over. (Later I said, if he knocked me over I could see myself screaming at someone not to touch me if anyone tried to help me up since I was that close to the finish.)

I think I attempted to run the last 100 meters but I never asked anyone if it looked like I was running. When I crossed I got a shirt, noticed some people from the tri club cheering for me (no clue if I acknowledged them or not), handed my fuelbelt to the nurse and went to the med tent.

It's amazing how Fight or Flight works. My mental and physical capacities, if you were to graph them out, probably looked like a downhill with a 1-2% grade for the last couple miles. After the finish that downhill would probably have turned into a cliff and I think my body was ready to shut down. At the med tent I told them I peed blood and felt like I was going to pass out. Then I started feeling like I was going to throw up. I also got pretty mad that they didn't seem to be moving me into the tent to lay down very quickly considering what I just told them and that I was extremely pale.

Finally I was on a lounge chair and they were managed to find a vein to stick an IV in me and hooked me up to a liter of fluid. Some kid who you would not expect to be a doctor (the paramedic and the resident in the ER didn't know who he was) was telling me I probably have Rhabdomyolysis and wanted me to go to the hospital. Initially I just wanted to see what happened after I got the bag of fluid but decided to err on the side of caution and just go.

I felt fine after getting in the ambulance but ended up getting 2 more liters of fluids at the hospital. Then I peed like crazy and the second time it was mostly clear. After running some tests they said they didn't find much in my urine and were going to discharge me. When I got up from the bed, it was the best I had ever felt 2 hours after finishing a 70.3.

I need to figure out what keeps going wrong. I think this would have happened in both halfs last year if they were longer races since my stomach was definitely getting bigger during those races. The weather had been so cold lately during training that my body may have not been used to the heat. I think I did one long ride that didn't involve wearing a thermal jersey and that was the weekend before the race. Maybe I did push to hard on the bike and not take in enough water. Or it could have been the stress of the whole weekend.

Training wise, I definitely need to do longer brick sessions with at least 5 miles off a long bike ride for a 70.3. I have a 100 mile ride and 10 mile run brick scheduled for IM Wisconsin training. I'm probably going to end up saying goodbye to the clydesdale category since I'm weighing about 225 and plan on losing another 10-15 pounds. I imagine that would also help things. I never though I'd be able to get down to this low of a weight but I have stopped lifting weights all the time and I've lost a significant amount of muscle in my upper body.

I have the Route 66 Half Iron coming up at the end of July and it should be at least 90 by the run.
I'm hoping I can train well enough to make it through that race without any problems. Otherwise, I might need to seriously reconsider Wisconsin. I know that if I start the race it'll be tough to bring myself to DNF unless I'm laying on the ground and can't get up. After having our club member crash and me having to go to the hospital I think being alive and well is more important than being an Ironman.

And for anyone curious about race times, here they are:

AM OLY: 3:14
PM OLY: 3:34
Half:         7:50
   Bike: 3:53
   Run:  3:16

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

American Triple-T Weekend Race Report - Part 1

Alternate Race Titles
4 Races in 3 Days
140.6+ miles of fun
Hills and more hills - bring your climbing gears
One of the few races you'll actually get to know the people in transition
It might sound like a 3rd Grader wrote this

The much anticipated weekend finally came and went. In short, I finished and had a great time. I left St. Louis, with the nurse and pup, around 6:30 am and made the 7 hour drive to Shawnee State Park in Portsmouth, Ohio. With the hour time change I was hoping to get there around 3 but, we didn't make it until about 3:50 due to various reasons. Registration ended at 4:30 so, I was pretty worried during the last 2-3 hours of the drive.

We had about 12 people from the tri club racing so, it was pretty easy to find everyone. I got my stuff ready for the first race which is somewhat of an annoyance given that it probably takes more time to get everything ready than it does to do the race. All the races are a TT start (supposedly by number) so, there is a lot of standing around on the beach waiting.

Race #1 - Super Sprint

Swim: 250m
Bike: 6k
Run: 1 mile

This race is like a 5k run. The majority of triathletes can do this race on a whim. As I did for all the races I stood around with the tri club until there were about 50 or so people left and blended into line with 2 other people. It turns out the numbering system wasn't really enforced after #50 probably. During the wait it was interesting to see the strategies for getting out to the first buoy. Some people did dolphin dives, some tried to dolphin dive but failed miserably, others swam and most just high stepped/walked.

Not many people wore wetsuits for this one. I wish I had because the water was very cold in some spots, maybe 10-15 degrees colder and it was a nice shock. The swim was over before I knew it and I was on my bike riding to the turn around, then up a big hill to the lodge and back down to transition. Then I threw on my shoes and ran to the start of the running trail and about 200 feet in just as a tease and then back to transition. Somehow this all managed to take me 33 minutes. I figured I would easily be sub 30.

The split times are all messed up right now for every race. I doubt any of the swim courses were accurate this weekend because there is no way I swam a 6:40 for 250 meters. I'm not the fastest swimmer but I can do a 5 minute 250 for a warm up. The 6:40 equates to 2:45/100 which is barely faster than my first triathlon. It also says I swam 32:40 for 1.2 miles which is too fast even considering I was in a wetsuit. I think I could do 35 or 36 tops for a half right now but not after already having swam nearly 2 miles the day before. Not to mention all the biking and running. Anyway, it was time to recover even though it was not needed. We ended up ordering food from the hotel restaurant and the pizza turned out to be a big mistake as you'll find out in a bit.

Race #2 - AM ~Olympic

Swim: 1.5k - 2 Loops
Bike: 25 Hilly miles; 1-Cat 4, 2-Cat 5
Run: 6.55 Hilly miles

Goals: Come off the bike feeling like I didn't do anything. Finish the race and not feel like I raced.

The first Oly is the first race most people probably cared about. It's the easiest of the three but it can easily ruin the rest of your weekend. The pup decided he didn't like his sleeping arrangement and had to sleep in our bed which made sleeping a bit difficult. Nevertheless, I was up at 5:15 and out the door at about 6:15.

Race prep was basically the same as the night before except I actually had to fill my water bottles, take some gels and put on my wetsuit. For this race, I just walked to the first buoy and started swimming. Not too much drafting going on since everyone either couldn't swim a straight line or they kept veering away when I would move over to get behind them. Nothing eventful in this swim.

The bike course was a blast. In the first mile or two there were several wooden bridges we had to cross with huge bumps on either end. I saw at least 3 or 4 ejected water bottles at each bridge. I lost one of mine at the first bridge and was going so slow I stopped to get it. I was not that concerned with time this a point.

The top of the first climb came at mile 2.62. I don't really remember this hill but, I remember it being a gradual uphill until the top. After that it was downhill, some steep and some gradual with some very technical turns. The RD warned everyone that when you see paint, or a person telling you to slow down, you better do it. He also added that if people fly by you on the downhills to wish them luck. The next hill was the worst of the day. It was a slight uphill approaching almost a 180 degree turn. Zero chance for momentum and there was gravel on the turn. Volunteers were standing around yelling about the gravel, sharp turn and the steep hill. I managed to get in my easiest gear before I made the turn. Others weren't as lucky. When I made the turn there was a girl coming down the hill...I also heard some people fell over, some walked up and someone heard a girl mash through all her gears and drop her chain. After that it "flattened out" for a bit. (The whole weekend was full of false flats because all the steep hills screw with your perception of flat land. I don't know how many times I'd look down and wonder why the hell I'm going 15 or 16 mph at this effort when it's wasn't flat.) Then it was downhill with some more sharp turns.

The last hill was featured in all three races...twice on Sunday. It has a gradual build to an out of the saddle climb for most people. Then it was a pretty fast downhill about 3 miles to T2. I took my time in T2 and slowly ran out to the course. All the runs were the same out and back with a gradual uphill then a steep downhill and back. The plan was to slowly run the uphill, walk the steeper parts and do whatever my body felt like on the downhills.

I finished in about 3:14 which turned out to be great considering I mostly felt like I hadn't raced. It should have been 3:11 or 3:12 but the pizza from the night before wouldn't wait 10 minutes and has to come out at the aid station at mile 5.5 on the run. The easy part was over, trying to figure out what to eat and how much in between races was going to be difficult. The nurse and I hung out under the tri club tent for a couple hours in between races and I tried to eat and rest.

Tune in tomorrow or someday in the near future for Part 2.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Triathlete Problems

How to keep track of your shoes...

My shoes are extinct so, I bought them all through daily deal websites for a pretty nice price. I would have a 4th pair but, the dog decided I had been running in them too long and turned them into clogs for me...he was right. Luckily they had already been retired.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spectating the Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC

The nurse and her friends decided back in December that they were going to take their chances and enter the lottery for the Nike Women's Half in DC. Luckily they got it. I haven't been back to DC in over a year and was dying to go back. This was the perfect opportunity.

We stayed in a gorgeous row house about a stones throw from the Capitol. I attempted to look up the property records to see how much it's worth but, the address doesn't actually exist...strange. Judging from the houses around it, I would guess between $1.2 and $1.3 Million.

We also got to do all the things we missed doing ever since we moved like Sticky Rice and Georgetown Cupcakes. Actually, those are really the only two reasons I wanted to go to DC. The nurse played tour guide for a little while with her friends and I went for a ride with the DC Tri Club.

Apparently the tri club in DC likes to do their rides "every man for themselves style..." Here is where we're stopping, keep up if you can.

Race Day came and I was pretty excited about this being the longest race I've ever spectated. Everyone made it to the start on time without any problems.

Old Post Office at the start, second highest view in DC.

I left the nurse at the entrance to the corral and headed out in front of the start line. I saw them introduce Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Joan is the only woman to run a sub 2:50 marathon in 5 different decades. I also so saw some people who did not belong at the front of the race. 

Then I was off to try and spot the nurse around mile 2. I didn't spot her but I got some decent pictures along the way. 

Still recovering from the earthquake. 

Then I headed out to one of the turn arounds where if you didn't turn you'd end up in Georgetown. Appropriately I had a sign that let people know they missed Georgetown Cupcakes. Sadly, I didn't think to get a picture of it. I missed the nurse again but she saw me. So far I'm 0 for 2. Along the way I saw these guys running and the Lincoln Memorial...

There were also Dragons at the race

Then it was off to the edge of Haines point for mile 10. At that point I held my "That's Not Sweat, It's Your Fat Cells Crying Sign." It's easy to love or hate Haines point in a race. It's flat but there is usually a very sparse crowd compared to the rest of the course. 

On the way back to the start I noticed the water stop at mile 11 was suffering. Seeing as I know very well what it's like to be on both sides of the water table I tried to help. I filled up about 50 cups and there was zero teamwork among most of the cup fillers. I decided it was a losing battle and figured I was just wasting my time. So, I headed to the finish. 

I managed to make an area of about 5 feet in front of me so I had a good view. You wouldn't believe how many people will come and stand directly in front of you without any thought. I probably missed the nurse because I was too busy telling people to stop standing in front of me. Anyway, after checking my text messages I realized I had been standing there for 10 minutes after she finished. 

If you didn't know, you're "served" a Tiffany necklace buy a guy in a tuxedo. I think they were ROTC guys this time. No clue who that woman is, just taking pictures. 

On the way home we saw this woman posing with all the kids in her family. The fronts of their shirts said "#GO (her name)" I couldn't get my camera out in time for that picture. I also have no idea what her name was given that it's a very uncommon name in the English language. It's probably more popular in Asia but, I'm not sure. 

When I found the nurse she was standing in a VERY long line for finisher gear. I waited with her for about 20 minutes. After estimating how long the line might take and how much the pullover she wanted costs, I took $80 and went to ask someone at the front of the line to buy the shirt. I found a couple who looked like they wouldn't rip me off and said they can keep the change if they buy the shirt. They agreed and even gave me the change back. Her friend in line said I was pretty trusting. I said, "well, I won't miss the money if she just walks off." Yeah, I'd be a little mad but, it really wasn't about trust. I did think through the confrontation scenario if they did just walk way with my money. It would be fairly easy for them to just deny everything unless I had signed the bills. 

People are right, race spectating is a sport. I ran 4.5 miles over the race course. It also made the race go by much faster. 

Oh, I forgot about the shoes...

Nike decided to make some limited edition shoes for the race and only make them available at several locations. We managed to be third in line for the shoes at Macy's. Since we were both in line we decided I would get a pair as well and sell them on ebay. 

Pretty schnazy. She ended up selling them for enough to cover the cost of both pairs. So, for sitting (we stole a chair and put it in the queue) for a couple hours she got a free pair of shoes. Now that I think about it, I didn't get anything out of that deal :-(

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wicked Fast Ride with the DC Tri Club

Last weekend I was in DC with the nurse so she could run the Nike Women's Half...More on that another day, hopefully soon.

Since I have the Vino Fondo and Triple-T coming up, I didn't want to skip a long ride. It seemed stupid to take my bike with me for one ride when:

A) I don't own a bike box.
B) I don't know how to put my bike together...safely.
C) I didn't want to risk spending $200 on baggage fees when I can rent a bike for less.

So, I rented a bike. I was going to rent one from an actual bike shop but the logistics of getting to the bike shop without a car made it a less than desirable option. Surprisingly, one of the tourist bike rental places has Trek 1.5s (carbon fiber frame) but with regular pedals...interesting. I figured I rode without shoes once this year, why not do it again. I could have brought my pedals but, I was feeling lazy the night before we left.

When I picked up the bike the rental people seemed shocked that I didn't have any questions. Nope, used to live here. Just need to ride tomorrow. I guess they don't get many people renting to train for races. I explained my other options to them and they sort of understood.

The next morning I headed from the house we rented on Capitol Hill to Georgetown, where they start. No one seemed to care that a new person was there. It may have had something to do with my lack of clipless pedals, my helmet with the rental company logo on it and the nurse's PURPLE camelbak. I guess I might be a bit skeptical if I saw someone ride up like that.

Then people started talking about groups and routes. I decided to not go with the "A" group given my equipment. (As I would later find out, even with the proper equipment that may have not been a good idea) So, I went with the woman who said she would be leading a B, B+ ride for 50 miles. She explained the route after getting to the first stop, I had no idea what she was talking about but I figured I would just follow people. That turned out to be harder than I thought.

Their Saturday rides are much different than what I'm used to. It was basically, we're riding this route and stopping here, here and here. Hang on if you can. This was the second fastest* group ride I've ever been on and I loved it. I hung on fairly easily for most of the ride and if you chop off the ride to and from Georgetown the average pace was about 19.6 mph with one Cat 5. Once we hit the rolling hills after the stop, I lost contact and thought I was going to get lost. Luckily they stopped at the end of the road we were on. I saw two people, who were cutting the ride short, still riding and decided to catch up to them. It took a couple miles but now I have some idea what it's like when pro riders try and catch up to the 3 or 4 people in the lead group. I eventually introduced myself at a stoplight, mainly to let them know I wasn't some a-hole trying to draft off them. I also explained the "every man for themselves" feeling I got from the ride. They seemed to feel bad but I reassured them I preferred it. Then they led me back to the start and I headed back to the house.

I like the idea of having 3 pace groups and keeping the stops to a minimum. I guess it's hard to do in St. Louis since we don't have a set Saturday ride and some routes have so many turns in them that you would easily get lost if you don't know where you're going.

*The fastest ride I've ever been on was last season where I rode with 4 guys who kept a 26 mph pace on the flats although, with a big tailwind. The return trip slowed to about 17 mph and I told them not to wait for me unless they couldn't see me after a turn. (It was all farmland so you could see about a mile or so back down the road.)

It's always disappointing to see how fast you ride and then realize there are people who do that faster than you and for twice as long.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hill Work for Triple T

[It's 10 am Central Standard Time and my Tough Mudder Death Waiver post has 53 view today...interesting.]

...and I suppose the Vino Fondo.

Triple T is less than a month away. If you don't know what that is and don't want to click on the link here is a breakdown:

Friday: Swim 250m, Bike 6k, Run 1 mile...kinda like a prologue for a stage bike race.

Saturday: AM SBR Oly followed by a PM Bike, Swim Run Oly

Sunday: Half Iron

Four races in one weekend is bad enough, especially with a half iron on Sunday. However, they go the extra distance and make all the races tough. Here are what the bike courses look like:

The Olympics

And the Half Iron...this is done twice

By themselves these races wouldn't be so bad. Throw them all together in one weekend and that complicates things a little more. To prepare, we've been doing the following rides:

Two weekends in a row as kind of a outdoor riding season primer

Making things a little tougher

And this past weekend, the toughest ride yet

I think this is one of the few Cat 4 climbs in the area.

Then the Vino Fondo is May 4th which has something like 9000 feet of climbing over 89 miles. For some reason I'm not too worried about it because I doubt anyone I'm riding with will be interested in going too fast. 

The difficult part about doing hilly races is St. Louis does not have long sustained climbs and the elevation change is relatively small. So, we've opted for quantity over quality so to say. It's also been cold here and riding downhill in 40 degree weather after breaking a sweat going uphill is not a pleasant feeling. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bike Repair for Anesthesiologists

First off, I'm shocked that I spelled anesthesiologists correctly the first try. Maybe it's because in high school I wanted to be one. I was talked out of it by my Aunt who is a nurse. She said I didn't want that kind of liability. Knowing myself, that was probably good advice. I imagine anesthesiology is not the profession to have a "let's see what happens" attitude.

Anyway, since the nurse is, well, a nurse, she reads doctor/nursing related blogs. One blog she reads is Doctor Grumpy, which is pretty funny even if you aren't in the medical field. His blog post today is about a conference in Australia being held for anesthetists. I guess he received a list of the courses you can sign up for. Two of the course are shown below.

So, if you're a doctor and would like to learn bike repair from a doctor, this conference might be for you. You can probably pick up some tips for keeping people alive for surgery as well.

I'd be interested to know if anyone signs up for just those two classes. Think about it, $50 for 90 minutes of a doctor's time? Where else can you find a deal like that?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Weight Loss and Pace

About a month ago The Nurse decided she (we) was (were) going to use Myfitnesspal to keep track of calories. I was afraid to do it with her since I'm much bigger than her. I didn't want her to be discouraged since I get a lot more calories than she does. Nevertheless, I started tracking my calories and it's been going great so far. It's amazing how this changes your choices in food if you stick to it. You're also less likely to eat many tiny snacks. If you're not tracking calories, having a bite or two of something several times a day can quickly add up.

I've been planning on losing weight for the Ironman in September so it would be a little bit easier. I know I could finish at 250lbs or so but why make it such a challenge. Losing weight over the winter didn't happen. Some triathletes also seem to think they can eat whatever they want since they train so much. I'd say I half thought that. Most people who found out I weighed 250 never believed me. Even when I was 275 playing football in HS no one ever believed I was 275.

To the point...My starting weight was 250 and now I'm down to 236. I've been quite surprised at how much faster I've been able to run at the same effort. It's probably a combination of eating better and weight loss. Supposedly:

Every 1 pound lost = 3sec/mile faster

So, if you're running 10 minute miles and you lose 5 lbs, theoretically you should be able to run 9:45 miles at the same effort. Granted there are countless variables but bottom line, if you lose weight you should be able to run faster at the same effort. 

Recently I've been able to run training runs at at least 45 seconds - 1 minute faster with the same heart rate. I say training runs because I haven't raced in over a month and I never run as fast in training as I do in a race. The biggest indicator was a 12 mile run I did 2 weeks ago. Normally my long runs would be around an 11min/mile, this run was 10:15/mile at about the same effort. 

I would tend to agree with the 3 seconds per mile theory but it's probably on average. I think the more you weigh the greater the increase would be at first. Then when you start getting to a "normal" weight, you might only see slight increases per pound. Then I would assume your pace would increase if you started to become underweight. I'd like to get down to 220 for the IM. I chose 220 so I can still remain a clydesdale for a little longer. However, like I've said before, if I'm "too fast" (IMO) for the clydesdale category I'll switch to AG. 

In short, lose weight, get faster. Simple enough.

As an aside to this post, given my weight, I once tried to seek out other people with similar paces who weigh 250 pounds. I was trying to figure out if muscle mass (massive legs) played a role in not being able to finish 16-20 mile runs without walking. I'm like Gimli from LOTR, very dangerous over short distances. I even wrote to Runner's World but didn't get a response. I think Ben from Ben Does Life is probably one of the few. However, I think he is a little different since his muscle mass is probably lower and hasn't lifted weights most of his life. This is why I hate indoor triathlons on spin bikes. I can't spin my legs at 130 rpm for too long. 

I got a response from a former body builder but he wasn't quite as big. He noted that losing muscle mass made him much faster. Another guy on a forum even said "not many people your size do what you do. You're, pretty fast when considering your weight."  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Second Ride Outside

Saturday was my second time riding outside this year. Last year it warmed up earlier so it made training much easier. My first ride outside was Friday 3/15. It was a brisk 50 degrees outside but we're cycling and going downhill. When running in the cold they say to dress like it's 20 degrees warmer. In cycling I think the opposite applies...dress like it's 20 degrees colder. I always have a difficult time since I break into a decent sweat during climbs no matter what the temperature. Then, I'll freeze on the descents due to my moist clothes.

Anyway, we had a fairly large group given the weather. The ride started about 40 minutes from my house. There aren't really any "hills" close to me so some driving is required if I'm going to make it through Triple-T. I had everything ready to go the night before, so I could easily get out the door, except for one cycling shoes.

I came to this realization while I was sitting at a light waiting to turn into the parking lot where everyone was meeting. If you were in the car next to me at this point in time and looked over I'm sure you were frightened, possibly amused. There was yelling, cursing, arms flailing, hat throwing, pounding on my arm rest and a punch or two thrown at the passenger seat. I don't think I've ever been so mad before a workout. My mind was racing to find a solution...maybe I didn't really forget them and I'm only imagining, I really forgot them...there's a bike shop a mile down the road, I'll just go buy some new shoes and cleats...crap, that'll take 30 minutes at least...maybe someone will have an extra pair of shoes...year right, how many people wear size 13 and have Look pedals? (Someone did have 12.5 MTB shoes but I have road pedals)

I tried to remain calm and pulled into the parking lot. First thing when I get out of my car, "Hey Brian, how are you?" Me: "Pretty crappy, I forgot my shoes." I stood around for a minute and thought about going home and just riding from there. Then I realized if I went home, I would just be pissed the whole ride and not in the mood to do anything. I figured my pedals have a decent platform so, I'll ride in these beauties...

My running shoes which were retired 3 years ago that I probably shouldn't even be walking around in but still do.

Perfect cycling shoes right?

Good thing we're riding hills...

I'd post my Garmin data but I can't get it to upload.

Strangely, riding in these shoes was not bad once I figured out what I needed to do. I was waiting for my feet to slip when I had to stand up to pedal but they didn't. The worst parts were actually the descents when I was going to fast too have any resistance on the chain. The first time I tried to pedal my feet flew off the pedals and I thought I was about to experience my first high speed crash.

I made it without any major problems and I think everyone else was just as shocked as I was about how well I was able to ride. Here are some things people said to me while riding (only 2 or 3 people knew, or noticed, at the start of the ride that I was riding in running shoes)...

Do you have cleats in those? (No.) Why are you doing that!? (I forgot my shoes.)

I can't believe you're riding in those.

How do your feet feel? (Not too bad...ask me again tomorrow)

You need like a hard plastic plate in your shoe.

The only positive was that running shoes make it easy to walk around the gas station at a pit stop.

Moral of the story: Don't forget your cycling shoes.