Saturday, September 24, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Wake up at 4:10. Two cups of coffee. Banana and granola bar. Drive 45 minutes to Bella Vista. Setup transition. Gel 30 minutes pre-race. Go to bathroom 800 times.
VERY short swim.
One of my more comfortable swims. I was really concerned because the cove was fairly "thin" and the chance for contact was high. I got as far to the outside as I could. I still suck at swimming but I'm better thanks to a swim coach. I was able to get into a regular breathing pattern for at least part of the swim.
I finished at 11:30, which was a good 20-30 seconds per 100 yards compared to my last sprint. I'm getting better but have so much more to go.
The ramp was slick as ... well, it was slick. I couldn't walk I went back to swimming the final 20 feet or so. Stupid.
It was so nice not to get tackled the entire time. #Winning.
Keep working. See my coach ASAP!
My worst transition to date. Not my slowest but definitely my worst. I couldn't get my damn helmet on and then my sunglasses. The aero helmet is much more difficult to get on and I totally failed at this. I easily should've been 30 seconds faster. Good grief. Oh, and I pulled my dang strap out of my shoe so I had to fumble with that.
Quit being an idiot.
Once again, my swim put me behind the 8-ball. I passed people constantly. I am a decent cyclist but I'm even better on the hills, so this course played to my strengths.
I have found that it takes a few miles after a swim before my legs feel worth a damn. That lasted longer today. My legs didn't feel good until the final downhill to the transition. Ha ha.
This course was pretty brutal. It was virtually all up or down hill. Even the few flat areas seemed to be mostly false flats. It was difficult to get into a groove. The good thing for me was that everyone else was suffering worse than I, so I just kept passing people.
The passing got fewer and farther between the further I went. I didn't know where I was in the pecking order, but I knew I had passed dozens of people, including the women who had passed me on the swim after starting three minutes behind me. I have to get better on the swim. HAVE TO.
Just a few miles before the finish was a nasty, long climb. I looked back, which I don't like to do, and the guy behind me was quite a ways back, so I laid off a little and cruised up the hill. The finish was all downhill.
Sometimes you know you're near the front of the pack, because of how the volunteers and fans react. I can't explain with words how much it means to have people cheering you on, and these folks were some of the best.
The finish included an incredibly steep downhill with an immediate left turn into the final stretch. I was worried about this turn, because it was REALLY steep and sharp. No problems, thankfully.
Nothing. Totally happy. I think I had the 2nd or 3rd best bike time. Hard to complain.
Look at my first transition and do a 180. This one ROCKED! It wasn't the fastest of the day but it was my fastest. I killed it. Shoes on super fast and race number belt on as I left transition.
Dismount out of my shoes. I haven't practiced that yet, so I need to work on it. It's a bit scary but would save some time.
What to say, what to say. I'm a crappy swimmer but my runs really scare me, because I just don't know how my fake hip will react to hard intensities. Uphills don't hurt my hip - flats and downhills do, or can.
It has been a challenge to figure out how hard to go on the bike to enable maximum run performance. I went hard (HARD) on the bike, so this was a question. Add hills to the mix and it is a big ????????
The run starts by leaving the park (1/4 mile maybe) and then straight up a super steep hill. 12+% grade for 1/3 mile. It sucks. Sucks. Sucks. And then you turn and climb some more before finally descending down a hill you will soon climb back up.
At this point there were 5 people in front of me. 5! Holy crap, I made up some unreal time on the bike. I mean UNREAL. The leader and follower were pretty far out front. No way I could catch them. As a matter of fact, I didn't think I could catch anyone in front of me, but I did think I could hold my position. That would be pretty cool!
2 miles, I was reeling in the next person. She was part of a team. I was not concerned with her, because she was a totally different timed group. I did pass her, however. That put me in 4th overall. Holy freakin' crap! This is a decent sized, and extremely hard race, and I was doing well!
Hit the turn at 3.2 miles and it was all downhill from there. The 3rd place guy was 100 yards ahead of me. I knew who it was. He is an incredible swimmer, and I do mean incredible. I didn't know anything about his running, though. I decided to go for it.
Downhill running is probably the most dangerous of all road running. You can really damage a lot of muscles and bones by running too hard downhill. I slowly reeled him in and with about .2 miles remaining I passed him and increased my lead. I was running sub-6 minute mile pace that last bit. Easily the fastest I've run since my hip replacement. Easily.
I finished third across the line. UNREAL! I should probably hang up the shoes now. I don't know that it will get any better than this. It was not a huge race by any means but there was some very, very good competitors in the race, so I am proud and humbled to finish where and how I did.
Nothing. I did everything I could. I think I had the 7th best run overall. For a 39 year-old with a fake hip, that's pretty alright.
Quick massage with Dr. Bennington (Maximum Performance Therapy in Rogers). My shins were killing me after that downhill and he made them feel so much better. I can still walk!
Talent and fake hip.
Incredible race. Most organized and well-supported race I've done. Goody bag was AWESOME! (More Jack Links - Mike, are you listening?) Grilled chicken, burgers and dogs after the event. Plenty of drinks and food. Quick results. Awesome event.
The race didn't start until 3pm, so I just had a normal morning. Left for the race at 10:30. Had to go to packet pickup first, which closed at 1:00. Had lunch with some friends, went to transition and took my time getting ready.
Very short swim warmup.
Swim was only 300 yards, so even a bad swim would go reasonably quick. I started toward the outside with a good friend. I took a line toward the buoy and got mixed in with the madness. The pulling and hitting and tackling was ridiculous. I should've known better than to get in the middle of it. My friend stayed completely to the outside and never touched or was touched. I wish I had done that, because even swimming a longer distance would've been faster. Still, I got out of the water with a faster per 100 time (by far: 2:16 vs 2:31) than my last sprint.
Get to the outside and stay there!
Reasonably quick transition. No real complaints. Big benefit by using my new tri-specific bike shoes.
Learn how to get in the shoes with them already on the bike.
Short but very intense ride with some nasty curves and constant elevation changes. Had a bit of trouble getting my legs going again coming out of the swim. I'm obviously using my legs too much in the swim. The start was a bit uphill which added to the problem. Very sharp curve about half a mile in. It should've been marked better or had someone there slowing people down. I locked up my brakes and barely stayed on the road. At least one rider went down pretty hard. Ultimately it is the rider's responsibility to know the course but the race director has a responsibility to keep people as safe as within reason.
My swim once again put me behind a lot of folks, so I started passing people constantly. My strength is cycling and specifically hill climbing, so this was a well-suited course, although a difficult one. Some of the roads were very rough chip-n-seal with some loose gravel, so that cost some speed.
I had the 3rd fastest time out of 156 people, so it's hard to complain.
Might have gone a bit too hard because my run hurt a bit, but it was worth the risk.
Probably my best transition to date. Bike racked quick. Shoes swapped fast.
The run started on the same start of the bike course. Then at the sharp turn I mentioned earlier the run course moved to the golf course cart path. It was hilly. Way hillier than I (or anyone else I talked to) thought it would be. My calves were hurting a bit when the run started, but when we moved to the course my hamstrings really started to lock up on the first hill. I had to really shorten my stride to keep from seizing.
I had caught up with my good friend on the bike, since he beat me on the swim. We are pretty close to the same pace on the bike and the run, so we ran with each other until the last hill about quarter mile before the finish. I got a small gap on him and finished just four seconds ahead of him.
My time was 10th best overall and 2nd in my AG. My first triathlon podium! I couldn't believe. It was a short but intense triathlon.
Don't know really. I went hard but not all out on the bike, but I cramped on the run. The hills were the issue and I didn't take them into account enough.
Got some water and a little stretching.
Swimming was better but still needs a lot of work.
This race was part of a 3-day multi-sport festival. It was the kickoff event with a 100 mile bike ride the following day and a 10K run the third day. That's the reason it was so short.
A cup of coffee. Headed to the race at 5am. Took my time setting up in transition. One transition area, which is great. Sunscreen on. Took a gel about 30 minutes before the start. Chatted with friends and tried to keep the anxiety down.
Short swim to warmup.
This was my third tri and third open water swim. Was still slow in this swim but didn't panic - good thing. Very anaerobic effort with heavy breathing and a struggling stroke. After rounding the first bouy(100 yards) I was having trouble and hurting but kept going. My sighting was not very good, because I kept going off course. I had my Garmin Forerunner 305 in my swim cap, and my distance measured at 650 yards versus the 500 if I had gone straight. Not good.
See a swim coach and more open water swimming.
Long, steep run from the water into T1. Had a little trouble getting my bike shoes on.
Get some tri-specific bike shoes.
Bike starts with a climb out of the park. I had some trouble getting my legs going. I must use my legs way too much in the swim. My swim put me behind a lot of folks, so once again I found myself having to pass a lot of cyclists, which I did. Cycling is my best event, but within cycling climbing hills is probably my biggest strength - which boded well for this course.
Figure out how to have fresher legs to start.
Initially couldn't find my spot. I even knew a specific landmark to help me find it and I still couldn't. Stupid.
Not be a bonehead trying to find my stuff.
The run course was about .1 miles short due to all the flooding in the area this year. It was relatively flat and wound through the campgrounds. I love these types of courses. Lots of changes in the route (not just a long, straight run) and the campers are good fans.
Felt good coming off the bike. Was running mostly around 7:00 pace to begin. A little fast but it felt comfortable. The race seemed to go fast with all the curves. I passed a few people, but I caught so many on the bike there weren't that many people in front of me.
One of the aid stations had ice-soaked towels, which I gladly took. That was a nice touch since it was getting hot. Coming down the final half mile people were starting to tire, so I passed a few more folks including some in my AG. Very nice!
Crossed the finish line and really wasn't that tired or out of breath. That really pissed me off a bit. I should've gone harder on the bike or the run. I'm still learning a lot about how to combine the two. Oh, well. Pretty solid run for me, regardless.
Got some water and an orange. Talked to several friends and hung out.
Swim and not using energy wisely.
Great local race.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
My second scheduled triathlon was to be a half Ironman totaling 70.3 miles consisting of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run. This would be the longest endurance event of my life to this point. This is definitely far from the norm, because most triathletes work their way up by doing several sprint triathlons and then some Olympic distances. This helps build endurance and gets the body ready for the very hard and long events.
My own impatience wouldn't give me the luxury of building up. I felt earlier this year that I had done enough endurance activity over the past few years that ramping up to half Ironman was definitely doable. The biggest question was whether or not my hip could handle the running.
I worked up slowly with running distance and even had a few stumbling blocks along the way, including stopping for a few weeks at a time over last winter, because my hip was not agreeing with what I was doing. I was terribly upset at the time it was taking to build up running but in the end it all was worth the wait.
I continued to train through the winter, learning how to swim and continuing to build up the run. I knew I wanted to do triathlons this year. In the March/April time frame I start considering the 70.3 distance more seriously. At that point I was putting in around 8 hours per week of swim/bike/run training. Kicking it up a bit more wasn't too much of a stretch. I did a lot of research and talking to veteran triathletes. Settled on a training plan and started eyeing Ironman Kansas 70.3.
I am very stubborn and too impatient but knew what I was capable of and I felt like I could legitimately finish a half Ironman, so in late April I confirmed my decision by signing up and paying the entry fee.
Goal 1: Finish
Goal 2: Finish under 6 hours
Given the history with my hip replacement in 2009 and the fairly aggressive scheduling of this race it seemed likely I wouldn't meet either goal. Even though I got clearance from my surgeon to run he has warned me that I would likely shorten the life of my implant by doing lots of running.
In my pre-hip replacement days I had planned to do many full marathons, so in my mind triathlons should be easier on my hip since I won't be running as much, even though I would be running half marathons at times. I fully understand the risks but these endurance events are such an important part of my life I feel it is worth the risk. If things get too bad I will shut it down. I have and will continue to live by the credo of "use pain for guidance." I know my body extremely well and know when to stop if needed.
At the recommendation of several people who've done this race before, I decided to camp in the Clinton Lake State Park, which is where the race started and finished. It was a great decision. It was very nice to not worry about getting to the event and getting parked and walking quite a distance from parking to transition.
I had a good dinner the night before of pasta with grilled chicken and some fairly bland sauce alongside some mixed veggies. Nerves wreak enough havoc with the GI system on race morning, so I wanted to make sure I had a meal with some carbs and a bit of protein, but more importantly, a meal that would set well with my stomach.
Slept like crap. Won't sugar coat it. I rarely sleep well the night before a race of any sort, let alone the biggest of my life so far. It didn’t help that the weather was predicted to be thunderstorms starting through the night and lasting completely through the race. I was worried sick. Maybe I should start taking a sleeping pill.
Got up at 4am and got some water heating for some coffee. Lathered on sunscreen and liberally applied body glide to any area with the potential for friction burn. Got dressed, which was easy since there isn't much to wear. Ate a bagel with light cream cheese with a cup of coffee. Double-checked my transition bags. Had a PowerBar with another cup of coffee. Made first bathroom pit stop. All good :) Grabbed my gear, met a couple of buddies and headed to T2 to drop our stuff and then headed down to T1 and the swim start.
None, except for the walk to T2 and then to T1, which was .5 mile.
This was my second triathlon. Anyone who read my first race report (KC Tri - Olympic distance) knows I totally panicked on the swim. Wanted to quit. Thought I was going to die. Needless to say, that experience had me extremely worried about doing a Half Ironman with another .3 miles tacked onto the swim.
The first tri was three weeks prior, so I didn't have a lot of time to improve. I did, however, go on vacation to Aruba and swam a few times in the sea. As it turns out, that was more helpful than I could have predicted.
For this race, I just wanted to get through it without panicking. I was extremely nervous. To add to my nervousness the swim was a deep water start, which I had not done. My group was pretty much in the middle of the waves, so I got to watch several groups get started. One of my buddies was in my wave and he being a seasoned triathlete helped calm my nerves.
The wind had kicked up pretty good and the chop was going left to right, so my buddy thought it would be a good idea to get on the inside line of the buoys. Very few people were there, so it seemed like a good idea to me and certainly started that way.
I was bound and determined to not panic, so I started out easy and just made sure to get into a good breathing rhythm. I'm normally a bilateral breather in the pool, but with the chop I breathed to the right. Things were going good for a few hundred yards. Then the heavy chop kicked in and it was ROUGH. It was almost as if a boat was going back and forth past us stirring up the wake. It was easily as rough as any time I swam in the Caribbean.
Rough water aside, I kept going and going. I purposely went easy, because I knew if I got too tired I would panic. This race was much rougher with contact than my first one. I got hit, tugged, pulled under, tackled, kicked, you name it. It was pretty brutal, but I feel like I handled it well. Never got upset about it.
About half way through my legs started cramping. Hamstrings, calves and feet were all cramping at different times. I think some of that may be due to the wetsuit, but regardless of how it happened, it was something I had to deal with. I'm already about as aerodynamic in the water as an ocean freighter and having to flex my feet forward and move my legs around to get rid of the cramps made it even worse.
Heavy chop + my slowness = more slowness. I knew it was taking me a while but in no way did I think it took me 59:40. I had hoped for 45-50 minutes. A bit disappointed, but not too much considering how nervous I was and how bad the conditions were. I did feel comforted by the fact that I heard several strong swimmers comment on how rough it was, so it wasn't just my own opinion. On to T1.
What would you do differently?:
Just more OWS practice.
My transition area was reasonably close to T1 entrance, but that meant a long hike with the bike to exit. Took me a little longer to get out of my wetsuit than it should've, but not too awful. I had a horrible time getting my socks on. I just didn't get my feet dry enough. Sprayed on some more suncreen. Ate a gel. Shoes. Helmet. Glasses. All that stuff was quick. Had to stuff the official transition bag, so my things would be transported back to T2, since there were two different transition areas. This added a little extra time but not too bad and well worth the trouble not to have to walk back down to T1 after the race.
What would you do differently?:
Probably go sock-less. I've done sock-less at shorter bike rides but not a long one. Just need to work on that. Would’ve saved valuable time.
Bike course started with a few climbs out of the state park. Not super long or steep but not what I want to do just starting out. My goal was 18 mph to hit the 3 hour mark. I can do that on most any course without killing myself for the run.
The wind conditions were pretty rough, so it wasn't going to be as easy as I thought. What little tailwind we had was on the first part of the course and it paid off. I averaged about 20.5 on the way out to the turn. I hadn't used too much energy at that point, so I felt good about "banking" some time, because the return was going to be hard. The climbs combined with the head and cross-winds made the last 28 miles much more difficult than I had hoped. I knew if I got into too much difficulty with my quads and hamstrings, my run would be a suffer-fest.
Being my first WTC event, I was very worried about their strict rules on drafting. I tried to be very cognizant about getting into the passing zone and getting out of it quickly. I'm not a super cyclist but am strong enough that I passed a lot of people, so I was constantly making sure I was within the rules. With all the hills, the referees did seem to use discretion, which was nice.
Around mile 50 is probably the largest climb which is up to the damn. A lot of people were suffering here. I put the bike in the granny gear and went as easy as I could. My plan was to shut it down the last few miles to get my legs ready (as possible) for the run, so after I got on the dam I took it easy on the way in.
Ended up with time of 2:52 averaging 19.4 mph. Getting that speed on the way out was really helpful for my overall time. I got about 8 minutes I could apply toward recovering from my crappy swim. I moved from 168 (out of 212) on the swim to 118 on the bike. Pretty happy overall with the bike.
What would you do differently?:
Not much. I focused more on running and swimming during training, so I want to get back to more long and intense bike rides. Given my situation with my hip (for the run) and being a beginner swimmer, it was the right thing to do, but for Branson half ironman I'm going to hit the bike hard.
Not good. Not horrible. Took longer than I had hoped but not longer than I had planned for. I knew it would take me a bit to get my socks changed. The quick laces I just put on my shoes were nice. Very glad I added those. Put on some more sunscreen, hat and clean sunglasses. Long-ish run to the exit.
What would you do differently?:
Work on socks.
Run course was great. Started on the main park entrance road, down the hill to the swim start area, back up the only hill and then through the campground. Do this loop twice. Great run course. Outstanding crowd support. I literally said "wow" out loud. One of the best spectator run courses I've encountered.
Races of any kind are tricky if you want to do your best, but triathlons are very difficult. If you are really racing (i.e., competing to do the best you possibly can) then you want to hit the finish line and be exhausted and know you did everything you could. I've done both bike and run races in the past when I knew I had more in the tank. If I am walking fine the next day I didn't go hard enough! That being said, I felt okay after the bike but not great. I knew I had used up too much energy on the bike due to the wind, but felt like I would at least be able to get through the run.
Even though my legs were starting to hurt I had fueled well. Got out of transition and within half a mile my quads locked up like a steel door. Oh man, did it hurt! I stopped and tried stretching any way I could get my legs to move. I bent down as far as I could go and something just seemed to release. I stood back up and could move my legs again. I massaged them just a bit and decided to try to go again. Whatever I did must have worked. I was able to run.
I made it to the first aid station and took some sport drink and kept going. I was feeling fine but making sure to keep my strides short and not push the pace. Made it to mile 2 and was feeling really good, not pain free, but good. I don't know how big my grin was but I was in a sudden state of euphoria, because I knew I was going to be able to finish. A huge personal accomplishment that I had worked extremely hard to train for.
Realistically, I planned for a 2:10 run, roughly 10 min/mile pace. I had hoped for sub-2, but really just didn't know given I had never done that much bike and swim prior to a half marathon. I was doing around 8:30 pace for the first half of the race and felt comfortable. I was taking in sport drink and water often.
During the run I kept trying to do all the math in my head of what time I could finish in. My stretch goal for the entire race was 6 hours. I knew it would be difficult, but also knew if things went right it was certainly doable.
After the swim, I felt like sub-6 was all but gone. My bike and T2 helped make up some of the swim time, so it was all up to the run. At the halfway point of the run, I knew if I kept up a similar pace, I could possibly get under 6 hours. I was looking at my watch often to see how I was doing.
Still felt good until mile 11. My body started shutting down. My stomach was cramping a bit. I had taken in too much fluid. My legs were starting to hurt bad and I knew if I pushed the pace they would lock up. I was on the verge of hitting the wall. 1.5 miles to go and I gave up on the idea of getting under 6. I was easily on pace for sub-2 half marathon, so I took solace in that thought and tried to enjoy the last bit. There were so many fans in the park it was really uplifting. The volunteers at the aid station leading into the last quarter mile were just outstanding. They helped me get going for the final push.
There is something amazing about coming into the finishing chute in an endurance event like this. I don't quite know how to explain it. You have given all you have to give and suddenly have a small burst of energy helps propel you to the finish. I had the same feeling when I did my one and only full marathon. I got this incredible sensation of chills and dizziness followed by an incredible high.
As I approached the finish line I could see the clock. Given that the clock time is based on when the Pros started and where I thought I started, I knew I was still very close to 6 hours. I thought I was at 6:01 or 6:02, and although a bit disappointed, I was so incredibly happy I didn't care.
Two of my friends were waiting at the finish line cheering on those of us from my area (there were quite a few of us who made the trek to Kansas). It was such a relief to see friendly faces. I was in such shock I didn't even realize that Chrissie Wellington was the person who put the medal around my neck. How freakin' cool is that? I wish I could've gotten a picture.
Only a few hours later did I find out that I did meet my goal. Total time 5:58:17. 95/212 - purely MOP (middle of pack) but not horrible considering where I was after the swim. I was ecstatic. As if I didn't already feel great about being able to finish, when I found out my actual time I was stoked beyond belief. What a day!
What would you do differently?:
Be more careful with fluids.
Went to the food tent and had a BBQ sandwich and some chips and started taking massive amounts of fluid. I could barely move my legs, so I couldn't even stretch for a while. I got a post-race massage, which was a first for me at any event. I should do that more often. It was very helpful.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
My swim was so hard it made me use a lot of energy. My legs even cramped during the swim, so my legs suffered all day. I really think getting much better at the swim will help each event. I was a bit lax on bike training, because I was already fit enough to suffice and I needed to focus and run and swim training. For the next HIM (Branson) I'm going to work harder on the bike in hopes of staving off pain on the run.
My first WTC event. The organization and support is unreal. The venue at IMKS is great for all disciplines. The wind caused the conditions to be tough, but that could happen anywhere. I will very likely return many times to this event.
1.2 mi. (59:40)
56 mi. (2:52:59)
RUN SPLIT 1: 2.5 mi
2.5 mi (22:12)
RUN SPLIT 2: 7.75 mi
5.25 mi (43:28)
RUN SPLIT 3: 9 mi
1.25 mi (14:03)
RUN SPLIT 4: 13.1 mi
4.1 mi (37:44)
13.1 mi (1:57:27)