Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deep and Steep

That would be a rough description of the hole I've dug myself over the last several months.  I really had no intention on going on such a complete hiatus from training, it just worked out that way.  Truth be told, the only thing lower than my motivation to exercise was my want to blog about it. 

So I didn't, no running, no swimming, no biking, no blogging (obviously), nothing.

And here I am, three months or so later.  A little rounder and hopefully somewhat refreshed and ready to head into 2009.  Now it's just a matter of doing.

This morning without any real thought I registered for a race.  In two weeks.  Nothing like an impending race date for motivation to train.  I have a feeling there will be a lot of these to get me through winter/spring. 

This one is the New Year's Day Dash, 5-miles of cold.  It's not going to be pretty, but so be it.

I've also registered for all my primary 2009 races. 

First off is Ironman Kansas 70.3.  Selected for the hilly bike course and what appears to be a viewer friendly event.  I reserved a prime campsite, right on the run course where the family should be able to see runners from each direction on the three lap course.  Looking forward to the trip, we have friends in Kansas City, and if I can weasel in a trip to Arthur Bryant's again, it will all be worth it.  (It really is all about the food.)

Next is Spirit of Racine.  Swimming in the big pond, my only hesitation with respect to this race.  The rest is fast and flat.  If nothing else it should be a PR for the distance.

Lastly IM Wisconsin.  Ten months and counting.  I really have not thought about it much. 

That's it for the big ones.  I've all but written off the marathon plan, but there is still a part of me that wants to do the Country Music Marathon in April.  If I can get in a running rhythm before the end of the year I'll hold onto it for a little longer.

Deep breath, that's exactly what I just did after rereading what I just wrote.  Gidde up.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reunited

And it was ok. Not really the makings of a sappy love song, but it is what it is.

I got back on wilson, my tri-bike, for the first time in a good month. For whatever reason I haven't ridden it since Pigman back in August. Seems like a long time ago.

Felt like it too.

First couple miles were the hardest. First major bump was a quick reminder of just how much different this ride is then the mountain bike. Ouch.

We quickly fell back into a rhythm. Some cleaning and maintenance yesterday paid off and we had no issues all day.

Did one lap of the IMoo bike course. It's still hard. Imagine that, sitting on my ass for a month hasn't made the bike course any easier or faster.

Was good to get back out. If nothing else it was a quick reminder of what lies ahead. I anticipate many many miles on this course in the coming year.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Night Ride Report

Tonight P and I went out for a ride. Everything was going great. P was having fun, nice easy ride for me, just what I needed, probably what we both needed. Then I ran him over, literally.

I don't even know how it happened. He was riding off to my right and just in front of me. For reasons unkown he lost control, swerving into my front tire before going down. Flat road, no cars, no corners, nothing, except a 7-year old hyped up on chocolate and fresh air.

P ended up in a heap under his bike, under me and my bike, which I managed to bring to a stop only after the front wheel rolled over him. Not so good.

After shotputting my bike into the ditch and digging him out from under his we sat on the shoulder and surveyed the damage while he cryed it out. Amazingly, nothing significant. Three small scrapes on his back, some roughed up hands and a banged up knee. Typical boy stuff, at least from what I remember.

He sucked it up and we rode the last mile or so home without issue. Even with the trauma of getting run over by dad he still had a great time. Covered 9-1/2 miles, a new distance record (for him).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Plan

I'm not sure how well the following will show up, but it's basically my training plan for the next year in short form.

The IM plan morphed from a 30-week plan outlined in Don Fink's book, beIRONfit. The plan called for a 1/2 distance race at week 22. I want to do two 1/2's next year, so I'm starting early and repeating 5 weeks in the middle.

Seeing as I can't swim and I've never been a runner, I've morphed the plan a little more to incorporate some additional work in these areas.

First the swim, starting way early and focusing on open water come summer. I'm leaving myself another couple of months rest to hopefully get my shoulder recovered and my attitude adjusted. When I do start swimming again I'll be looking for some help to get my stroke in order. Sally, I'm looking at you.

As far as the run, I want to get a marathon in, and do it early in the spring before IM training gets heavy. I'd have liked to do one earlier, but I couldn't find anything appealing. I'll outline key races in another post.

For the next 12 weeks it's just going to be running with the goal of shaving some time off my 5k. No formal bike training plans. I'll probably commute to work some more, and I'd really like to do more trail riding now that it's cool and the bugs are gone, but nothing formal for the bike.

I think that's it, comments and thoughts appreciated.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm In

Made it through the 2009 Ironman registration line this morning relatively quickly. Much to my surprise registration did not sell out on-site. It did sell out online within 20 minutes.

I don't think it's really hit me yet. There was no real emotion when I finally signed up. No relief, no nerves, no elation, nothing. It may just be exhaustion, we did a lot of running around the last couple of days. My lack of activity since Pigman may have come back to bite me in the ass.

Being around Ironman for the last week was fun. Catching bikes coming into T2 was eye opening. A lot of agony, especially towards the end. One guy made it in right at the cutoff. Thankfully I didn't have to witness anybody come in after it, would have been hard to take.

We didn't stick around to watch the later finishers, but I did walk the course for 1-1/2 hours or so after my shift. My opinion, watching runners midway through an ironman marathon is not the place to draw inspiration or motivation. At least not for me. It was painful watching some of those people run.

So here we go. I have my training more or less planned out and all of my key races selected. I'll lay it all out here soon. Also going to be participating in a second blog, a collaborative effort from bunch of peeps doing IMoo 2009.

Hold on, going to be a long ride.

Ironingman

Living with a four year old can be entertaing.  Yesterday G asked Mel where I was at, her answer, Ironingman.  Foolish girl, she'll soon realize there is no such thing.

I'm here waiting to register.  Long line, nervous people, fun stuff.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gatorade Swim

Wow, hard to believe it's only been a little over two weeks since Pigman and the last aquathon swim.  Despite what I would call perfect conditions this morning, I felt like I had never swam in open water.

Plan was to do two laps of the leg that was marked out.  Before I even got to the start buoy I knew the plan was out the window.

On the way out I couldn't swim straight at all, was all over the place.  Never really did get in a rhythm.  Swim a bit stop look around, soak it all up, fix goggles, catch breath, swim some more.  It was cool being out there and in the start area, tons of nervous energy.  I had a knot in my stomach walking down there, can't imagine how the athletes feel.

At one point on the way back I stopped and floated on my back and just looked around.  Lake Monona feels much larger than any lake I've swam in.  I thought having the Terrace on my left on the way back would be cool.  I never saw it, unless I made a conscious effort to look for it, which was too much work.

Made it to the second to last buoy in 18:23, back in 16:08.  With the swim out and back I figure I was in the water for 40 minutes.  It was enough.

The rest of the course was getting set up as I left, I may try to get another swim in tomorrow before the volunteer meeting.  One thing is certain, I have a lot of work to do.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Guest Post

Ummm dad, it's me, the dog.
Remember me?
Some say mans best friend?
Running partner extraordinaire?
Any of this ringing a bell?
Probably not, it's been like, forever.
What's that, ice cream? Ohhh I like ice cream.
Come on dad, little lick.
Just a taste, come on.
Heyyy dad, over here.
Come on, one time.
DADDDDDD!!!!!!
Least let me lick out the bowl.
Come on.
Asshole.
Where was I, oh yeah, so, we ever going running again?
What's it been, about a year my time? Seems like it.
Case you haven't noticed, it's nice and cool out.
And dammit,
I
WANT
TO
RUN
Dad?
Dad?
(sigh) I thought I slept a lot
.
Anyone want to run?
I'm free, well, all the ^%$*!@% time!
Anyone?

Sick

I took a detour on the way to work this morning to go look at the Ironman swim course.  Only one long leg of the rectangular was marked out, but just looking at it made me sick to my stomach.  The gas station ho-ho's I had for breakfast may have contributed, but I'm pretty sure it was the course.

Four buoys,  two red, two yellow.  Standing at the swim start area in Law Park I could almost see the last red one, holy crap.  Down and back, twice, plus the short leg of the rectangle, twice, oh boy.

I didn't actually swim, maybe tomorrow, maybe saturday before or after the volunteer meeting.  One way or another I'm going out there.  Just need to know.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dumbass

That would be me.

Aquathon #4 was tonight. After sitting in the parking lot for 45 minutes (I go there straight from work) I head over to check in and get set up.

First order of business, change into race shorts. Problem, I apparently didn't pack appropriate shorts, no speedo, no tri-shorts, no bike shorts, zero, nodda, nothing. Only thing I have are the baggy shorts I put on over my swim/bike wear to run in.

Shit.

Quick check to see what I'm wearing for underwear, double shit, boxers.

What to do, what to do? Problem is I really wanted to at least swim. It was windy, wavy, and rough. I like it rough, makes it more interesting.

So the baggy shorts went on and I attempted to roll the wetsuit on over the combination of loose fitting shorts without pulling an excess of material into my arse. Done, for the most part.

Jump in, get bounced around by the waves, wait for the race to start. Still not sure what I'm going to do once I finish the swim portion, the thought of a 30-minute run unsupported wasn't very appealing, even after getting out of a relatively cold lake.

Think, "I was in the pool" - George Costanza. At least I've got something to think about while I swim.

Swim absolutely flew by, when I first pulled into the parking lot the buoys were already out and I swore they weren't out all the way. Amazing how perception changes after doing the 1/2. I'm curious to see the IM course markers, they weren't out yet this afternoon. Incidentally, I'd like to do a leisurely lap or two of the IM swim course sometime prior to IM if anyone would like to join me.

Plan again was to try and stay with a pack and draft. No such luck, I soon ended up alone, but remarkably, I stayed on the buoy line pretty much the whole way. On the final leg one swimmer was adjacent to me so I fell back and attempted to draft her. It's hard. I'd lose her every 4 breaths or so, stick my head up and go catch her. Never was able to just stay on her feet for any distance.

Swam in, walked to transition, pulled off the wetsuit, walked over to the finish line, and turned in my chip. Based on a quick glance at the race clock, my swim time was about 19 minutes. I'll take it, maybe next time I'll just do the run.

The Pig in Pictures

Links to the complete race report: prerace, swim, bike, run.

Wilson decked out and ready to roll prior to my walk down to the start. The water bottle cage behind the seat is the one that decided to break just into the ride.

Prerace, coming up to meet the family prior to heading out. Seriously, does anyone look good in one of these things.

Go time, this picture shows the angle of the sun with respect to the direction we were headed, makes me realize I should have been able to see without issue.

Running up to transition, one of the few times I would actually run. I did walk once I got there.

T1, notice how empty the racks are, advantage of being a crappy swimmer.

Coming back in on the bike, apparently I couldn't even keep up with the camera.

On the way out, not really sure what I'm doing, besides ignoring my daughter.

Coming back in with Mel in tow. Done, finally.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Walking Pig

Pig's don't run, do they? I don't know. I guess they probably do if they have to.

T2 was an uneventful 2:53, sat down to put on running shorts and shoes. It still doesn't feel right to run in my underwear, which is what I feel like if I run in just bike shorts. So I added shorts and took off my compression top for my loose sleeveless running shirt.

The run out of transition was painful to say the least. I made it up to the corner where I walked to say hi to the family, then ran off again, partly because I just couldn't bear to walk in front of the kids. Seems somewhat foolish now, but that's how I felt at the time. This lasted maybe a 1/4 mile before the pain in my back was too much to take. Relatively speaking, my legs actually felt pretty good.

So I walked and kept trying to stretch or rub out the pain in my back. I had tylenol with me, meant to take aspirin but grabbed the wrong bottle. At the first aid station (mile 1) I took the tylenol and continued walking, I knew at the 2-mile mark there was a long down hill section, plan was to walk to that point and then start running at the hill.

I'm not sure if I had already mentally checked out already or not, the more I think about it, the more I think I had. The two mile mark came and I started running again. I almost made it to the bottom of the hill before I quit and started walking again, my back was starting to loosen up, but it was still quite painful.

At this point I basically quit, I don't know how else to put it. I don't know that the thought of actually stopping ever seriously entered my mind, but I quit. I couldn't see the point of continuing to try and run. Push and suffer, or walk and try to enjoy a 13.1 mile buffet of aid stations.

So I walked, just after the third aid station I felt like I had a something in my right shoe. At the 4-mile mark I sat on the bumper of a volunteer's vehicle to inspect my foot and shoe. Nothing, not in the sock, not in the shoe, not on the foot. But as soon I put the shoe back on the pain was back. Apparently blister #1 was forming, it basically took over the entire side and bottom of my second toe, the pinkies neighbor.

There were many times where I contemplated running again. Then I'd ask myself why, and I never could come up with an answer. The course was an out an back. I could see everyone coming back in and it wasn't pretty, lots of slow painful shuffles. I should mention that by this point it was about 85 and sunny, no shade anywhere and not much in the way of wind. Tough conditions to run in. My back had loosened up and felt more or less normal, but I was in a pretty good mood and didn't really want to leave my happy place. So I just kept walking. Focused on reaching the turn around on the way out, then on the next mile marker on the way back.

The blister on my toe soon had a companion on the ball of my foot. One that ended up larger than a quarter. Blisters are another thing I haven't had to deal with, good stuff.

My only real goal at this point was to find someone to walk with, didn't happen at all on the way out, on the way back there was an older couple walking maybe a 1/2-mile in front of me. It was enough inspiration to keep me moving, but not enough to make me want to run. I did catch them and walked with them for a couple of miles. At either the 10 or 11 mile aid station they stopped and I didn't really want to so I left them and walked on.

3:12:42 after leaving T2 I crossed the finish line with daughter in tow. Seeing how happy the kids were to finally see me made it worth while. I think in the end it was or will be easier to explain why I was slow rather than try to explain why I quit. That could be the only reason I stayed out there, I don't know.

We went back down to the beach where I hobbled into the lake to cool off. My two blisters had a third friend on my heel almost the size of a quarter. All of them on my right foot, same foot I burned two days earlier in the pasta water incident. The water felt great, the walk back up to transition and back to the van, not so much.

Total time ended up at 7:23:18. Obviously not the race I was hoping for. I have a whole new appreciation for IM and the training and dedication that must go into preparing for it. Walking for 3+ hours gives you a lot of time to contemplate why you do things and what your motivations are. I didn't come to any conclusions out there on the course, but I did enjoy the walk, which is a small miracle in and of itself.

The Biking Pig

Made it through transition in 3:19, including a pretty good run up from the beach. No issues here, but I had to pee. There was one porta potty at the outlet, but there was one guy already waiting so I decided to hold it until the first aid station.

I can't bring myself to pee on the go, something inherently wrong with it from a back of the pack perspective. If you're looking to win, go ahead and piss yourself. When the difference might be between 364th and 370th place, have some dignity and find a pot to piss in, or a bush, anything. Enough said.

Goal on the bike was to find someone to pace off of and go easy. Didn't really happen, just out of the park I got behind one guy for about two miles before his pace dropped way off. After that I was generally moving faster than those around me, that happens when your a bad swimmer. I got passed by maybe a dozen guys within the first 5-miles and all I could think was wow, there are shittier swimmers than me.

At maybe the 6-mile mark we crossed some railroad tracks. There were a ton of bottles on the ground so I went to check mine. I grabbed the bottle and it was loose and came out just as I grabbed it, so I thought. Turns out the cage came off with the bottle, the bracket was still on the bike, it just broke clean off from the cage. I had an extra bottle holder in back on the other side so after staring at it quizzically for a moment I shook off the cage and stuffed the bottle in the spare. So much for cheap water bottle cages.

The first aid station came and went with no porta potty, maybe 17 miles in going through small town Iowa I came around a corner to find an aid station and a porta potty. Quick stop and I was a much happier boy. Little tough coming out and watching a bunch of people I just passed going by, but it was worth it.

The first 40-miles absolutely flew by. Seriously. I spun up and over the hills and coasted down them. There was nothing else, no flats, just up and down, but it seemed like it was all uphill. Nothing steep, nothing you couldn't spin up, I don't think I ever got out of the seat by necessity, they just never ended. It was definitely a challenging course, not hilly by IM Wisconsin standards, but it was anything but flat.

At about the 2-1/2 hour mark, maybe 43 miles in, something happened in my back which basically ended my "race". Up until this point I was feeling really good and having fun.

I don't know what it was, but it almost brought me to tears on several occasions on the way in. Basically felt like a major muscle strain or pull, left side from the bottom of the shoulder blade straight down to the small of the back. No idea where it came from or what caused it, I've never dealt with anything like it.

I sat up and tried to rub it out and stretch as best I could, didn't help at all. The last 13 or so miles were a real struggle. I couldn't sit in the aerobars for any length of time without big time pain. Sitting up wasn't much better. This part really was a mental game, I kept relating whatever distance I had left with known routes back home. Seemed to work and it took my mind off the more major issues.

Coming into T2 I took my shoes off just after the last corner, felt great to get some air to the feet and I had a long walk from the dismount line all the way through transition to my rack. Easier to do it in socks than bike shoes.

Final time was 3:15:22, 17.2 mph.

I didn't have any real issues with the bike course. The roads weren't ideal, no shoulders, the railroad crossings were brutal, and the bridge that was under construction was interesting to say the least. What I will say is that the race directors did an excellent job with what they had to work with. Everything was very clearly marked, railroad tracks, rumble strips, miles markers every 5-miles, and regular signs telling motorists there was a race in progress.

Volunteers did an excellent job as well. I did almost t-bone a minivan coming back through the last intersection in Palo, but it wasn't the cops fault, the bonehead in the van just chose to ignore him and turn left in front of me. Cop was livid, with the back pain I was experiencing it didn't really bother me. That's how bad I felt.

The Swimming Pig

This was to be a race with many problems I've never had to deal with before, started from the get go.


Swim start was a time trial start, one person in the water every 3 seconds. Still by waves, and I was in wave 8 of 9. Entire start went off really smooth, big fan of the format.


The first leg of the swim didn't head straight into the sun, but pretty damn close. If I remember correctly the sun was just off to the left. I breath on the left. Couldn't see at all, just followed the swimmers I could see and hoped I was heading in the right direction.


This really messed with my mindset, instead of focusing on the swim I was totally taken over by not being able to see. To top it off I started to feel nauseous as well. Not sure if it was actually physical, or just something in my head. Amazingly I made it to the first swim buoy without much issue.


After I turned the corner, with the sun behind me, it became pretty clear that my goggles had fogged up. I've never had this problem while open water swimming. Pools yes, lakes no.


I was very hesitant to stop and fix it but pretty quickly did. Much better, but now I found myself a good 30-40 yards out from the buoy line. Kept swimming towards the next buoy, but never really closed the gap to the group of swimmers. Mindset was still out of whack from everything up to this point, and I still felt like I might puke.


Pretty soon a huge yellow buoy was in the distance and I thought it was the turn back towards shore, still being way off line, I made a much stronger effort to get to it and turn home. Only when I got there did I realize everyone else was still going straight. We were maybe midway through the second leg. This was another huge blow to the mindset. Relaxing and focusing on swimming just wasn't possible.


The rest of the second leg was uneventful, and I finally made the turn back to the beach. I ran into the most contact on the last leg, nothing terrible. Then something amazing happened, I remembered how to swim. For the first time I was able to just relax and focus and swim and everything felt good.


Swam in until my hand hit the bottom. I never do this, usually try to stand up and soon as I think the water is shallow enough. So I stood up, and promptly fell over. Took a little bit to get my legs under me. Stripped the wetsuit to my waist and began the long run up to transition. I felt good and was ready to get on with it.


Swim time was 49:05, much slower than planned, but I was just happy to be out of the water. G said she heard a lot of people complaining about the swim being long, could have been, I don't know. She also said people were complaining about boat exhaust, I didn't notice any of that either.


My only complaint about the swim was the lack of kayaks in the water. From the shore before the start I think I only saw one. While swimming I noticed none, and only one boat. You would think with 500+ swimmers stretched out over a mile (and the real possibility of a non wetsuit swim), a dozen or so support kayaks might not be too much to ask. Maybe I just didn't see them, I'm not always that observant.

The Pig (pre-race)

I don't even know where to start. This could end up being a long rambling post with no flow what so ever, but more than likely it will end up being a series of shorter ramblings, interrupted by a series of naps throughout the day.

I don't feel bad, just tired.

Prerace
We pulled into the state park friday afternoon and set-up camp. Nice park, little odd there is no check-in or office, just drive to your site and set-up. Good thing I searched high and low for our reservation confirmation so I knew which site was ours.

Dinner friday night turned interesting when I decided to dump boiling hot pasta water on my right foot while wearing sandals. Son a bitch that hurt, and it hurt for a long time. Kept ice on it for the rest of the night, saturday morning it still hurt to put anything on it.

Ended up popping a kidney bean size blister in the middle of a pretty good size red area on the inside top of my foot. There was a good period of time where I seriously questioned being able to start the race.

Later saturday morning I went for a short ride, just out of the park down the hill and back, about six miles, just enough to loosen up, make sure everything was working right. Foot seemed ok.

Headed into town after lunch for packet pick-up. Went about as smoothly as possible. Picked up some waterproof band-aids for the foot. Jumped in the lake for a family swim in the afternoon. Water seemed cold (79 was the report from packet pick-up), but we had fun.

Dinner saturday night wasn't nearly as eventful, went to bed about 10, didn't sleep well. Up at 5, ate a bagel, pumped up the bike tires and walked down to transition in the predawn light, beautiful morning.

Set-up was uneventful, found out rather quickly water temperature was 77, yeah, wetsuit legal swim. Eventually put the wetsuit on and headed to the water.

Sat in the water for a while just relaxing and finally spotted the family on the beach. Big relief, for whatever reason I really wanted to see and talk to them before the race.

More later, time for a nap. I tired.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Leaving Iowa

Finished, wasn't pretty.  Blisters made for a really long walk.  Complete write-up coming. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Protest and Frustration

G and I did a sprint triathlon last weekend in New Glarus, Alphornman, small first year race, maybe a 100 participants.  G wanted to do another sprint, some friends were also going out, so I tagged along.  

My frustration and subsequent protest stems from my swim time, which I refuse to believe is correct.  11 minutes flat for a 450 yard pool swim (it also included a very short run to the edge of the pool area, maybe 5 seconds). That's 2:26 per 100 yards.  2:25 if you subtract the run.

Here are my swim paces for previous races this year.  I am not Michael Phelps, nobody will ever confuse us, in or out of the water.  With the exception of Capitol View, all of these swims are significantly longer than the 450 I did this weekend.

Aquathon #1 -   2:21/
Capitol View -  1:56/
Aquathon #2 -   1:45/
Bigfoot -       2:13/
Aquathon #3 -   1:48/

At Aquathon #1 I held onto a kayak at one point to catch my breath and swam the entire second leg on my back with my hands folded on my stomach (along with some of each of the other legs), yet still 5 seconds faster than last weekend?

Bigfoot was much the same, miserable swim, walked and/or stood still to catch my breath regularly on the second half of the swim, but 13 seconds faster per 100?

Aquathon #3 was reportedly long, and still 38 seconds per 100 faster?

I've emailed the race director, very nicely, asking that results and swim seedings be posted, so I can compare my swim time to those in my lane/wave.  No response, and nothing at all has been posted.  That's the frustrating part.

Other than that, good race, challenging bike, flat run, good support.  G won her age group and I think was the 3rd overall girl.  I finished maybe 11th in the boys.  And yes, she beat me, by about the difference between my posted and what should be my expected swim time.

I feel better now, hopefully I can focus on the pig.  Thinking about pig makes me hungry, mmmm bacon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

6:17

Pigman is this weekend, the culmination of year #1 on my two year quest to become ironman. 6:17 is not really a goal, more of a prediction. Only real goal is to enjoy it and finish without completely self destructing. Haven't quite figured out how I'm going to do that yet. I don't feel at all prepared for the distance, except ironically, the swim.

Swim

I'm no longer concerned about the race being wetsuit legal, I'd have worn it anyway, but last week was pretty cool and this week is following suit, with temperatures getting into the 50's at night and barely breaking 80 during the day.


My only concern is my shoulder, it still feels like it is going to fall off after swimming any distance at all. I'm thinking I should do a Kerri Walsh type tape job on it:






I don't know how it could possibly help, but it seems to work for her and I'd have some fantastic tan lines by the end of the day.

Swim is a wave/time trial start. Still broken into waves, but one swimmer in the water every 3 seconds, should be interesting, but I'm going to miss the mass chaos of a group start.

I hope to be out of the water in 39-minutes, based on my last two Aquathons this is pushing it, but still doable.

Bike

I'm starting in the second to last swim wave, couple this with my incredible swim speed and I'll have just about every participant in front of me to chase down on the bike, and there's the problem, I'll try. I just know it.

Pacing is going to be critical. It's something I've struggled with on long rides. Ten miles in I'm sure I'll find myself pushing 20 mph up a long hill only to struggle at 14 mph on a flat section for the next 10-minutes. It's an issue I know I have, but haven't been able to get over. Plan is to go out easy and keep it easy, getting the head to actually communicate this plan with the legs may be another story.

Plan is to be off the bike in 3:23. Definitely doable, if I go much faster than this I'll definitely pay for it on the run

Run

The real wildcard for this race. I have no idea what to expect, could be anything up to and including a death march. For simplicity, I'm guessing, and honestly hoping, I can pull off a 2:11, 10-minute miles.

I think this brings me to 6:13, throw in 4-minutes for transitions and we arrive at the magical 6:17 number quoted above.

The forecast looks good except for the rain. Highs in the 70's, beautiful. 40% chance of rain, not so beautiful. But I'll take it over 95 and sunny.

We leave friday morning, camping at the state park. The only part I'm not looking forward to is the drive home after the race. The thought of 3-4 hours in the van after 6+ hours on the course is not appealing at all.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

With mom and I diving head first into the triathlon world, our oldest decided he really wanted to compete in one as well. Saturday Oregon held it's 3rd annual kid's triathlon. 422 kids finished, lots of fun. For his age group it was a 50-yard swim, 1.0 mile bike, and a 0.4 mile run.

Body marked and chip timed just like the adults, how cool is that.

Half way through the swim. He has all his fathers grace and skill in the pool. After losing his goggles recently, he refused to wear his sisters pink ones. I don't blame him.

Coming back in on the bike, after an early morning pep talk and walk through, I convinced him he didn't need me to ride the course with him. He's still kind of shaky on the bike, can't hold a straight line to save his life. It was a big relief seeing him on the way in.

Almost to the finish, pretty sure I've never looked that strong, or happy, while running.

Hanging with his buddy sam after the race.
Good times.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Aquathon #3

Turned out to be a perfect night for Aquathon #3. Skipped dinner and was really hungry by the time I went to register. Grabbed a packet of orange hammer gel and some gatorade, it would have to do. First time for me and gel, strange stuff.

Swam out to the intermediate buoys as a warm up and then just sat around in the water waiting for the start.

Swim
My plan going in was to try and hold on to some feet and draft. Didn't work out that way. After the first 100-yards or so I was all by my lonesome. At some point I drifted maybe 20-yards off to the right, and even though I seemed to be swimming straight at the first buoy, I never got back in line with the pack.

Same thing happened on the way to the second buoy. It was odd, every time I sited (6-8 breathes), the buoy was right in front of me, yet I ended up off to the right. By the time I turned the second buoy I was convinced I was in last place.

I pushed pretty hard on the last leg, still convinced I was the last one out there, and surprisingly, found myself drifting right again. Overall time was 19:45, 70/84, and 32 seconds slower than the last Aquathon.

Run
There is a pretty good hill on this course in the first half mile, by the time I got to the top of it I seriously felt like I was going to implode. At the first mile mark I found out why, 8:05. That's unheard of fast for me, no wonder I felt like I was headed towards total system shut down.

I spent the second mile trying to get everything back under control. Shortly before the turn around I settled in behind a group of girls going at a much more comfortable pace. That lasted for about 1/2-mile before they dropped off, I think just to let the stalker (me) go by.

The second mile was much more reasonable at 9:32. At this point I knew I could set a 5K PR if I just kept a semi-reasonable pace for the last mile. So I picked it up again, pushed up the hill, pretty much tumbled down the other side, then pushed with whatever I had left back to the finish. Mile 3 at 8:11, total time 26:23 (8:31/mile), a new 5K PR by 1:26.

Run time was 64/84, Finished at 47:23, 2:23 seconds faster than last time, and 71 out of 84.

Obviously I feel pretty good about the run, but I feel pretty good about the swim as well. According to one of the race organizers, the second buoy drifted way off course, making the swim longer than usual. He didn't say whether it was 50-yards or 200, but combine this with the scenic route I took and it adds up to a pretty fast swim, for me. To top it off I actually felt pretty good coming out of the water, I didn't really want to swim another lap, but I felt like I could have if I had to, like I will next week at Pigman.

Game On!!

After the cancellation of Aquathon #3 twice due to blue green algae, we received the following email from the race director:

"The aquathon scheduled for tonight is ON!
See everyone tonight @ 7:00 pm."

I'm not to concerned, it's early, it's warm, the sun is out. Plenty of time and perfect conditions for another algae bloom.

Actually I've been looking forward to these events. Anxious to see if all this open water training has paid off. Tonight I'm going to try and find some feet and stay on them.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ice

Mass balance calcs indicate that it would take approximately 12,202,995 cubic feet of ice to lower the water temperature of Pleasant Creek Lake from 79 to 77 degrees.  That's the entire 401 acre lake from top to bottom.  But, let's be realistic, we don't need to cool the entire lake down.

The swim area will occur in a roughly 50-acre area of the lake, if we concern ourselves with only this area, and only the upper 3-feet of this area, our required volume is down to just 304,314 cubic feet, again, approximately.

Logistics could be a problem.  But, if I could convince each of the 587 individuals registered to bring ice, we're only looking at 518 cubic feet each.  That's doable....

Monday, August 4, 2008

Open Water

In the six weeks since Bigfoot, I've managed to get in 13 swims, all in open water.  I forgot all about sets and drills and just swam, and swam, and swam, and swam. 

Lake Ripley has become by beach of choice, the water is clean(er), the swim area is huge (9-10 minute laps), and it's generally pretty quiet.  Lake Kegonsa scores much better in convenience, but the water isn't always so nice, and the swim area is much smaller (4-ish minute laps).  Swimming at Lake Ripley also gives me the added excuse to stop at Camrock Park to ride the trails.  I haven't broken anything there, yet.

Back to swimming....

On each of my outings I went in with the intent to swim non-stop, or if I did stop, to keep the feet off the bottom and recover like I might have to if say, I was in the middle of a deep(er) lake.  With very rare exception, I did pretty well.   The numbers:

10 hours, 27 minutes

An estimated 28,900 yards (16+ miles)

Most swims in the 40 minute range, several around an hour, and my longest yesterday morning at 75 minutes.  Which incidentally, has left me feeling like my right shoulder is about to fall off.

Enough swimming that I should be confident going into Pigman, and I am, as long as I can wear my wetsuit.  That's the downside, I haven't swam without my wetsuit in six weeks.  Not a big deal, until I get an email from the Pigman race director saying water temperatures are going to be near 78 degrees, and the call on wetsuits will be made on race day.

Frankly, it's almost left me sick to my stomach, my choices, should water temps be 78+.  Don't start, or wear it anyway.  It'll be a race day decision.  In the meantime, I'm hoping for cool weather and trying to figure out exactly how much ice I'd need to dump in the lake to bring the water temperature down a couple of degrees.  I'm an engineer, shouldn't be to difficult.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Humbled....

or just plain embarrassed, you decide.

Let's set the stage, I'm about 8-miles into my ride home from work, heading east on Cottage Grove Road going up the hill over the interstate.

When I get passed by a guy on a road bike, wearing a backpack, with a cast on one leg.

Let me repeat that for those of you in the cheap seats.

A dude on a road bike,

wearing a backpack,

with a cast on one leg,

passed me,

going up a hill.

Lest you think this is over, it is not, not by a long shot. I immediately catch back up to him and sit on his wheel. This lasts for about 12 seconds before he slowly pulls away from me.

This particular hill is fairly long but pretty gradual, so I keep him in my sights, he's not getting away. After a minute I pull it together and decide it's time to reel him in.

Ever so slowly I think he's coming back to me, I'm about to implode, but I just can't let him go. And then he turns, and the chase is over.

Normally I don't care all that much, I'm slow, I'm used to it, but this was too much.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Waunafest

The longest run of my training plan corresponded with the Waunafest 10-mile run this morning so I decided to get in a training "race". Easier to run with a couple hundred others and crowd support so why not.

Despite a valliant effort to sabotage my body earlier in the week, I actually had a very good run. Let's recap the highlights of the previous week:

Tuesday: mountain bike and rocky trails, enough said.

Wednesday: 60-mile ride, a rough one, not much to say about it

Then comes yesterday and our annual marathon golf outing. 56-holes over 12-hours, preceded by a McDonalds breakfast, interrupted by a cheeseburger and fries at lunch, and followed by pizza and beer at 9:00pm last night.

With the exception of some after effects of my previous days "nutrition". I actually felt pretty good this morning. The annual golf marathon usually wipes me out, this year not so much. The exercise could be paying off, but we also had great weather.

Back to the race. Cannon start at 7:30 and we're off. Plenty of slow people to run with, big help. Morning was hot and humid with not a cloud in site. Saving grace were sprinklers, lots of sprinklers set up in the residential neighborhoods at the edge of the road. There were also a lot of unofficial water stations, just kids or families out handing out water. Community really seemed to get behind the event. Run was almost enjoyable.

Final time was 1:33:50, 9:25/mile. 29/33 age group, 192/213 male, 283/341 overall. Wow I'm slow.

Extremely happy with the run. Had planned on walking at least a portion, but I never felt the need. I did walk to drink, but they were very brief breaks. To top it off, I actually feel pretty good. Time to put cheeseburgers and beer back on the training plan, not that they were ever really gone.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gneiss & Smooth

I've heard rumors on how difficult the single track trails at Blue Mound State Park are. Now normally when I go in with high expectations I end up disappointed. Not so in this case. Holy shit.

Best decision I made was going back to the truck to get my gloves when I got to the trail head. First tumble came within 50-yards of the parking lot. Rocks, stumps, rocks, roots, rocks, and logs everywhere. Did I mention the rocks. Oy.

I struggled through, getting out of the pedals when necessary, often in a last minute panic. One of my last minute dismounts found me grabbing at a small tree for support. The result was what felt like a broken pinkie finger (it's fine now) and a bleeding thumb (also fine now, despite a pretty good gash).

At the 3-mile point I looked at my watch, 49-minutes. Shit, I can walk faster than that. It's possible the mileage on my bike computer wasn't right, it did quit on me later on in the ride.

I ended up riding two more single track loops, aborting each loop before the most difficult of the shit I rode the first time by jumping on the road and riding back to the state park entrance. Second time through was the easiest of the three, fading light and fatigue made the last one harder.

Just after hopping back on the road the last time my chain broke. I'm surprised something didn't break sooner. I've never run so much shit into rocks, stumps and logs. Pedals, cranks, chain ring, frame, I really don't like the sound of rock crunching metal.

I ended up at about 2-hours and I'm guessing maybe 10 miles. Of all things, my triceps are incredibly sore. It was fun, but I didn't enjoy it as much as my previous outings. Difficult is one thing, with my experience trail riding, these were bordering on sadistic.

Maybe next time I'll attempt the "difficult" trail, Holy Schist.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rain Damnit

Those were my sentiments less than 20 minutes into my long run with dog this morning.

Shortly after 7:00 am we set out, it wasn't that warm, low 70's maybe, but the humidity was 162% (my estimate). Those high tech wicking fabrics are useless when evaporation simply isn't possible.

It actually went fairly well. Despite 3 pee breaks (dog), 2 poop breaks (dog), 1 water stop (me), 3 swim breaks (dog), and stopping to smell everything that looked remotely interesting (dog, mostly) we actually managed to get in a bit of running. Including our 12-minute cool down walk at the end, we managed 10-miles in about 1:45.

I thought maybe I was actually wearing the dog out, until he broke into his own version of crazy laps at our last swim stop. He usually reserves this until we reach home, but when I removed the leash so he could jump in the river he figured it was time.

I think it's basically his way of saying "You're still a slow out of shape piece of shit, and you'll never keep up with me. To prove it I'm going all out, around the house, up the street, over, around, or though anything that gets in my way. Regardless of how far we just ran, or how hot it is".

He broke it out again when we got home, damn dog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tour de France

I had the Tour de France on the other night when Melanie, our four year old, walks in.

Mel:  What are you watching?

Me:  A bicycle race.

Mel:  Oh.  (long pause)  When's the running?

Me:  There is no running, it's just a bicycle race.

Mel:  No running?

Me:  No, just a bicycle race.

Mel: Oh.  (another long pause)  Where are you?

I honestly don't know what I said at this point.  All I could really do is laugh.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Singletrack Mind

I had the opportunity this past weekend to do something I haven't done in a long, long time.  I took the mountain bike off-road and hit some singletrack trails. Or maybe it was the trails that hit me, it's hard to tell.

The sign at the trailhead was green and said "easy", it wasn't all that, easy.  Apparently puttering around on my bike for almost a year now on the side of the road does very little for bringing back ones bike handling skills on a narrow tree lined trail that turns repeatedly and without warning. 

I used to do a lot of trail riding, 10ish years ago.  If I remember correctly, my trail riding days came to a pretty abrupt end shortly after uttering the phrase, "I can jump that" up at Devils Head.  I still have the busted helmet that came as a result. 

Anyway, I seriously don't remember trail riding being that difficult.  The climbing was easy, and I definitely have all the road miles to thank for that.  Everything else, not so much.  Being clipped into the pedals was the worst part.  Managed a couple of last minute unclippings and grabbed a couple of trees to prevent unplanned dismounts.  The first log I needed to cross presented a whole separate issue and I feel like my arm came off at the shoulder when I attempted to cross it, all 4-inches of it.  Where or where have all those skills gone.

Aside from being difficult, it was one thing, fun.  I loved every minute of it.  Out of the wind, out of the sun, deer, birds, squirrels, nature at it's finest.  Add in the bike, good company, and the constant change and challenge of the trails and it was a blast.  I can't wait to do it again. 

So after 3-days and maybe 3-hours of trail riding I'm sore, another whole new set of muscles screaming.  Despite this, I am definitely going to try and get in a regular trail ride going forward.  Not sure how it fits in with regular triathlon training, but if it's working new muscles I figure it has to be good.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lucky I Guess

I got stuck riding through this earlier tonight. I didn't intend to, shit just kind of happens when you head out for what was supposed to a 3-1/2 hour ride.


Went back out to Verona with the thoughts of doing one loop on the IM course plus either a sub-loop or an out and back on Whalen to kill the last hour-ish.
Nothing really to report, course is still hard as hell, thought of a second loop is still overwhelming.
Anyway, as I'm heading into Verona I start to notice it's getting dark, at 5:30, in the middle of summer. Coming down Main St. past the high school it's really dark, I don't notice a car without its lights on dark. As I pull up to the red light, it starts to absolutely pour. Luckily, I'm only about a mile or so from the truck which is parked at the Military Ridge trail parking lot.
So the light turns and I decide to do a controlled sprint in the pouring rain while trying not to get blown off my bike by some nasty crosswinds.
And all I could do was laugh.
Then I got cold, quick.
Unceremoniously tossed the bike in the back of the truck and jumped in. Transition time from bike to truck, 0.4 seconds.
One of these weeks I'll actually do a 56+ ride in preparation for Pigman. Maybe.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Five Weeks o' Hell

Those were my first thoughts Monday morning when I looked forward to the upcoming training plan. Five final weeks of build before the taper leading up to Pigman. Oy.

Turns out when you don't really follow your training plan the first of those five weeks isn't that hard at all. So with four weeks left, priorities are 1) swim, 2) long run, 3) long bike, 4) everything else.

1) Swim - clearly my weakest link, so open water is job one for the next month. Shooting for three, maybe four times a week. Trick is finding clean water and an open beach. This week Lake Monona closed all its beaches again, not that I ever swim there, but it seemed to have trickled down to Lake Kegonsa State Park beach. My attempt to swim there this morning thwarted by a closed beach.

Determined, I searched out another puddle of mud, weeds, and who knows what else. First thought was Devils Lake, which apparently is open again, then G mentioned Lake Ripley. So we packed up the family and took a road trip to Cambridge, and it was nice, until it started raining. Attempt #2 thwarted after 20-minutes of swimming. But I'll likely be back, big swim area marked out by enough buoys to give you something to swim towards.

2) Long run - Another overlooked part of my training recently. I did get it in this week, but it also took me out for the next two days. Back issues, not so good.

3) Long bike - Probably my favorite of all the weekly workouts. This week it was the IM bike course, G joined me, and it was fun. Top speed of 54.2 mph, not sure where, not sure I want to know. Average speed not nearly as impressive, almost identical to my first time through the course.

Coming back through Verona we passed a brat stand. I rarely pass an opportunity to support our local youth (i.e. I love brats), so after riding back to the truck, running a rough mile, and loading everything up we headed back to the brat stand. Couple of brats and a soda later and all benefits of prior ride were shot, but damn they were good.

4) Everything else - Shorter runs and rides, should be easy to get in, but always seem to get lost in the mix.

So that's the plan heading into Pigman. Goal for the race is to have fun and finish more or less intact. We'll see.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Girl Power

This is the only picture from Bigfoot really worth posting. Melanie, Patrick, and our niece Erin.

Pictures from Brightroom are also up, but I'm too cheap to actually buy them. If you feel the need, go here and search for 42 (me) or 43 (g). The one of me coming out of the water pretty much speaks for itself. I actually like the one of me on the bike with the storm clouds in the background.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bigfoot Race Report

Bigfoot Olympic Triathlon, let' just get to it, no fluff today, least not yet.

Swim
Sigh. That pretty much sums up my feelings on the effort. Experience was closer to my first Aquathon swim than my last. Started in the fourth wave, didn't really have a chance to warm up. Third wave goes off, we shuffle into the water like a herd of cattle and wait for the start. Water was nice.

Course was an out and back just off shore. The out wasn't terrible, very, very, little contact. But it was a long, long way out. Managed to freestyle the whole thing. I felt like just the out was harder than my last Aquathon. There was a decent chop on the water, but other than that, no reason it should have been that hard.

Coming back I just couldn't swim anymore. I'd get through 8-12 breaths and I'd need to take a break. Fortunate thing is the water was shallow and I could stand/walk when I needed a rest. As I'm walking out to the finish G pops up right behind me. At least she didn't beat me out of the water (she started 10-minutes behind me).

Swim 36:23 - 2:13/100 - 371/420 overall

Bike
Pissed off. Those were my emotions coming out of the water. I actually intended to try and pace myself a bit on the bike, but pace and pissed off don't exactly walk hand in hand. So I went out hard and never really let off. Somewhere midbike I forgot about the swim and started having fun again.

Drank my gatorade but found solid food was too much of an inconvenience. Around mile 17 I decided to put it in the big ring and push it the rest of the way in. With the exception of a couple of hills I managed to do just that. There's something to be said for cruising at 23+ miles an hour, even if I need some elevation relief and a tailwind to do it.

Bike 1:18:35 - 19.0 mph - 202/420 overall

Run
Coming into T2 I could barely walk much less run, hamstrings were in bad shape and I thought I was in for a long, long, 10.5k trail run.

Turns out it wasn't so bad. I walked through the water stations and, except for the first major one, the hills as well. About midway through the bike I started to feel the need to pee. So when I came upon a state park outhouse near the end of the first loop I decided to duck in for some relief.

Most disgusting outhouse I've ever been in. Just glad I wasn't having any more serious issues.

Second loop was much like the first. Took shirt off for a good part of it to help with the heat, otherwise just kept moving. Run went as well as I could expect. Came into finish and Patrick joined me for the run across the line.

Run 1:04:22 - 9:54/mile - 336/420

Overall time 3:03:33
58/65 age group
318/420 overall

It was great having family there to cheer us on. Really looked forward to seeing (and hearing) them throughout the race. Thanks much for coming out and sharing the morning with us. I'll post pictures when mom sends them over. Big thanks also to Kelly and Matt for letting us crash at there place and hauling us to the race at an ungodly hour of the morning.

I have a bunch of other thoughts on the race, but I'll save those for another post. If you need me in the next couple months, I'll be up at the lake swimming.

And for those of you who must know. The 10-minutes G put on me in the water were just too much to overcome. She had a great race, coming in at 2:56:49.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not even close...

...to DFL. There were at least 10 people behind me tonight.

Aquathon #2 is in the books. This race went about as well as I could have hoped, race report will be about as boring as you can imagine, I've got nothing to work with.

Prerace
Showed up at the site early, really early, roughly 2-hours before start time. Used my bag as a pillow and relaxed in the grass, snoozing on and off for almost an hour. Eventually went to sign in and get ready. Got in the water with 45-minutes to spare for a warm-up swim. Water was nice, not mind numbingly cold, and no raw sewage noted.

Did a loop around the 1/2 way buoys, took a little break and then swam out and back to one of the 1/2 way buoys. Felt pretty good. Tried to focus on relaxing and not pushing at all.

Swim
Once again let the crazies run in and took my place in the back and started swimming. Focused on going easy and trying not to push. Took a heel to the chin once, but otherwise no major (i.e. painful) contact. Had a hard time staying at a comfortable pace. Every time I'd feel someone on my feet I'd feel the need to push to keep from getting swam over.

Things really thinned out after turning the first buoy, but I still found myself pushing to much. Turned the last buoy and it started to get really hard. I had the most trouble siting on this leg and I was cooked. Arms felt good, legs felt fine ( I don't really kick much, if at all), but my heart and lungs were hurting. I walked in the last 30-yards or so.

Total swim time 19:13, I was actually surprised when I got home and saw the time. Based on my finish time I expected it to be less. I'm still thrilled to have gotten through it with no real issues.

Run
Getting started was tough, hell, the whole thing was tough. I was pretty wiped out from the swim. Random runner girl named Lisa was my saving grace. Shortly after the turn around she came up next to me and we ran/talked most of the way back. No way I would have ran the entire route without the help.

Total run time 29:15, fastest run of any distance I've posted since the last Aquathon.

Total time with transition, 49:46. Almost nine minutes faster than debacle #1. Couldn't be happier, but right now I'm tired and I'm going to bed.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Race Week

It's shaping up to be a big week, with two races on the calendar in the next seven days. The first is the second race in the Fleet Feet Aquathon Series on Thursday night. All of the beaches in Madison are closed right now as a result of all the recent rains, so it's in question as to whether or not it will go off. Some nonsense about untreated sewage getting dumped in the lake.

I'm really hoping the Aquathon does happen, raw sewage or not, as open water swimming is still my biggest concern. Getting through an Aquathon with a semi reasonable swim effort will go a long way in the confidence department prior to our Bigfoot olympic triathlon on Sunday, the race I signed G and I up for without telling her back in December.

Since I'm 0 for 2 in time predictions on my previous triathlons, I'm going to hedge this one a bit. Goal for the race is 3:15. I really think 3:15 is achievable, so I'll probably finish in 3:30 or so.

The race plan is going to be remarkably similar to last week, easy, go like hell, hold on. The wild card is going to be nutrition. This week I'm going to actually try to ingest some calories/salt on the bike in the hope of feeling better on the run. My nutrition to date has consisted of water, and probably not even enough of that.

So despite the "nothing new on race day" mantra, new it is. I just haven't quite figured out what.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

One for the Boys

Prior to all the severe weather we've been experiencing this afternoon, G and I managed to get the Capital View Sprint Triathlon under our belts this morning. This one went to the boys, as I somehow managed to hold off G despite a miserable run.

Prerace
Arrived at site shortly after 6:00am. Set-up transition. Got arm and both legs marked after considerable thought as to my actual age. I guess it's true, mind is the first thing to go. Visited porta potties twice, prerace nerves. About 7:00ish, got into the wetsuit and tested the waters. Temperatures not bad, I think they were claiming mid or upper 60's.

Swim
Plan: Go easy, survive.

Turns out it was kind of a joke. Course was set out in a triangle, in mostly very shallow water. We went off in the third wave after the elites and the 20 somethings. The majority of the 20 somethings walked/ran all the way to the first buoy and then swam from there.

Four minutes later we were off and running towards the first buoy. Turned the corner and started swimming to the second. I stopped once to stand and get a breath, lots of contact and kicking. Turned the corner and swam about 1/2 way in before realizing people were walking again. I joined them (it was waist deep) and walked it in. One guy on the rocks held a sign that said "swim dammit", I just laughed.

I don't really have any thoughts on my time considering all the walking. Still intimidated as hell to do the olympic swim in 2 weeks.

Swim time: 7:46 (1:56/100, 72/278 overall)

T1
Had the wetsuit to the waist and goggles/cap off before getting to the beach. Ran to the bike rack and low and behold G is still there. We talked as we changed and I beat her out of T1. At least I wouldn't have to chase her down, now it was just a matter of holding her off.

T1 time: 2:02 (49/277 overall)

Bike
Plan: Go like hell.

My intention was to pretty much leave it all out there, and for the most part I did. At the turn around I looked at my bike computer because I wanted to know just how far ahead of G I was. Roughly 0.3 miles later we pass. Some rough calcs, and I figure I'm maybe two minutes ahead of her. Shit, still in striking distance, need to push.

Only real highlight of the ride was me locking up the rear tire on a corner shortly after the turn around. That moment earned me a "nice save" comment from one of the course marshals. It was a sharpish turn after a short steeper decent. It happened and was over too quick to even think about it.

Honestly I felt great on the bike, was racing without a watch again, so I had no idea of time or pace. Bike computer later told me 12.46 miles. I used 12.4 to calculate pace, which ended up almost 1 mph faster than our last sprint triathlon and is my fastest ride to date.

Bike time: 41:17 (18.0 mph, 55/275 overall)

T2
Took the shoes off coming in and coasted to the dismount line standing on the left pedal. Dismounted at a nice jog and cruised into T2, was a thing of beauty.

As I'm putting the running shoes on I realize my timing chip is sitting on the ground. It was held on with one of those water park type bracelets, don't know how it managed to come off, or how I got lucky enough for it to happen in T2, but it did. Struggled to get it back on and off I go.

T2 time: 1:16 (113/275 overall)

Run
Plan: Whatever I had left.

As it turned out, it wasn't much. I felt great coming out of transition. But I very quickly realized the day had become very warm, very humid, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I hadn't noticed the weather on the bike at all, was very comfortable the whole way. Not so much on the run.

The first 1/2 or 2/3's of the course is on the trails through the woods. In other words no wind but still plenty of sun. To sum it up, my run was pathetic. There was a long gradual uphill in the first 1/2 mile that kicked my ass and let me know just what I had done to myself on the ride. I ended up walking up most, if not all of the hills, never managing to run more than maybe 1/2 mile at a time. Sad.

Surprisingly, G never managed to catch up, turns out she wasn't enjoying the run either, although she did manage to make up 1:33.

Run time: 33:07 (10:41/mile, 150/270 overall)

Overall time: 1:25:25, 86/278 overall, 15/29 in age group (4 of the top 7, including the overall winner came out of my age group).

Big kudos once again to G, who finished 4/18 in her age group and 105/278 overall.

Post Race
Waited for G, but somehow missed her finishing. Drank and ate some, waited for some other friends to finish. Food spread was good, ice cream, bagels, fruit, beer, water, and some asian food. Would have been nice to stick around but we had to get home for little league practice and pictures.

I feel good, not sore at all, pretty happy about the race. Need to swim more in open water in the next two weeks, and obviously need to start running regularly, but considering how I've trained lately, this is exactly how this race should have gone down. Not surprised at all.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Whitecaps and Windsurfers

No, I guess they weren't windsurfers, kite boarders?  I don't know.  They were standing on surfboard type things and holding onto big ass kites.

Where, at the lake where I'm supposed to be swimming tomorrow.  Weather channel says s-sw winds at 20mph gusting to 40mph.  It's windy.  And the buoys that were out marking part of the course, blown way, way out of position.  I had to look for quite a bit to find the second one, wouldn't be surprised if it isn't 1/2 way up the Yahara River by now.

If you haven't surmised, I'm in a bad mood.  It started with having to drive to the west side for packet pickup, which turned out to be it's own little cluster^*@$.  Stop at 5 different tables to get everything, if of course you get by the first guy, where you sign waivers, pay USAT dues, or try to prove your a USAT member because you don't like carrying every slip of paper or membership card you ever owned in your wallet.

We did get a nice technical wicking type shirt, which in and of itself would be fine, if it wasn't black.  I thought the whole purpose of these materials were to keep you dry and cool, so why @!$%(*# black!

So being on the west side and wanting to swim today, I headed to the race site only to find said waves powered by said wind.  Not going to swim today.  On the way back to the office I saw a girl on the bike path off John Nolen basically get blown off her bike by the wind.

This should be fun.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Capital View Tri Preview

G and I are doing the Capital View Sprint Triathlon Saturday Morning up at Governor Nelson State Park. After my swimming debacle last Saturday I knew I needed to at least get into open water again before race day.

And as long as I'm going up there, I might as well see the whole course. First the run.

Oy. The humidity was still through the roof. Add in running on trails, much of it hilly, with absolutely no breeze, and it was a tough run. No real long hills, just a lot of up and down and back up again. I saw most of it, got somewhat lost and ended up missing some.

On to the bike. After about a 15-minute transition I headed out on the bike. Another tough course. Short steeper hills on the way out, longer much more gradual ones on the way back.

Next the lake. I ended up sitting on a picnic table for a good 1/2 hour watching other triathletes come and go. Finally sucked it up, put my shark bait costume on and headed out. Water still cold. I waded in very slowly and took my sweet time getting acclimated. Once in it wasn't bad. I didn't do much actual swimming. Went out and back to the first buoy twice. Didn't have much problem swimming straight, but not real comfortable swimming any distance at all. Definitely need to keep working on it.

Saturday should be interesting. I think I should be able to pull off 85-minutes without much issue. I did a 43-minute bike split today (12-miles) on pretty tired legs. Add in a 30 minute run and that leaves me 12-minutes for swim and transitions.

That said, goal for the day is 80-minutes. The planets will need to align just right, but so be it. I think it's attainable, but it's going to take some work and maybe a bit of luck to get it done.

Realization

I sometimes commute to work.  On my rides in I try to go real easy so as to not work up a sweat.  It hasn't been too hard to do, as it's usually in the 40's, maybe low 50's when I'm riding.  We have a shower I can use here, but it's not in my building, and it's not the nicest community shower by any means.

Which brings us to this morning and the realization that no matter how easy I ride, when you dress for 57 degrees and later find out the humidity is 95%, you're going to sweat like a madman regardless of how easy you go.

Time to close the office door, look busy, and hope no one decides to bother me until at least noon, when I may just sneak out for a swim/shower.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friend?

I read a quote online recently that went something like, "The wind is your friend, it either makes you fast or it makes you strong".

What a load of crap.

It was windy in Wisconsin today, dam windy, and I had 2-1/2 hours scheduled for the bike. Two and a half hours on a typical day on typical roads would put me at roughly 40-miles. I don't have any forty mile routes, so I decided a loop on the IM bike course was in order.

Holy shit.

With the wind and the hills, Verona to Mount Horeb was brutal. I pretty much stood to get up any hill, and often found myself in my lowest gear as I approached the bottom of a hill. At one point I was struggling to hold 6-mph going up a small hill into the wind. It was brutal.

Mt. Horeb to Cross Plains offered a little relief from the wind, but the hills were still killing me. The roller coaster on Garfoot Road was a blast, I could ride that all day, as long as I got a lift back to the top.

Then of course came the hills outside of Cross Plains on the way back to Verona. Ouch.

With the wind finally at my back, I managed at one point to maintain 20+mph going up a long gradual hill and then I topped out at 41+ coming down another. That's how windy it was.

I felt pretty good coming in to Verona, maybe relieved was more like it. Wound up at 43 miles in about 2:50. Strong? No. Fast? Definitely not. But I consider it a victory none the less.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

DFL afterall?

According to official results I was last, but unless I was so incredibly cold that my swim buddy was a figment of my imagination, his time didn't make the list. I'm not even considering the folks that didn't make it through the swim, and from what I've heard, there were at least a couple.

Swim 25:44 - Extrapolate this out to IM distance and I'm out of the water in roughly 1:50. As bad as this swim went, that calculation right there gives me a huge amount of hope.

Transition 3:09 - Surprisingly, not the slowest transition time in the field. Some of it was me waiting for my imaginary friend. Some of it was me taking my shorts off and putting them on the right way.

Run 29:35 - No complaints here given my complete lack of run training recently.

NQ, BPDCT, DFL

Not quite, but pretty dam close to, dead fucking last. Consider this a warning, the expletives are coming.

I watched the radar all day, literally. In the morning I thought there was no way it was going off. By noon I wasn't sure, about 2:00 or so I knew I'd end up swimming tonight. Dam the luck.

As I'm pulling up to the beach I see the buoys. My first thought, "Holy fuck those are a long way out there." 1000-m doesn't sound like much, but the first time you see it stretched out as a triangle in the water it kind of blows you away.

Fast forward to pre-race. Pull new wetsuit 1/2 way on, let's go see how the water feels. Holy crap that's cold. Get back out, mill around for awhile, time to try again. This time I pull the wetsuit on the whole way, don my pretty red swim cap, and try again.

Dam, still cold. Finally get fully in, float around for a bit, take a few strokes, it's not cold, it's frigid. Getting out again.

Conversation that ensued was kind of humorous:

Random dude in transition area: "How is it?"

Me: "It's like bathwater."

RDITA: "Really?"

Me: "No, it's fucking cold."

Got back in again and swam some more just prior to race start. I can do this.

Gun goes off and I let all the crazies run in from the beach. I wade in and start swimming only when pretty much every one else is. First 100-150 yards aren't bad, I'm following some feet, banged into a couple folks, nothing too drastic. Then it went to hell in a hand basket, and quick.

Turns out I don't swim straight, AT ALL. First I got off course, way off course. I'm not really sure what happened after that. Every time I looked up I was heading in a different direction and it messed with my head something fierce. Breathing and heart rate got all out of whack, and I wound up floating on my back.

By the time I made it to the first buoy it was just me, one other guy, and two kayaks. Despite it being just the two of us, we ran into each other at least 3-4 times. I swam the second leg primarily on my back trying to relax and get my breathing under control. Sometimes I'd do the backstroke, sometimes I'd just kick with my hands together on my stomach. Whatever it takes.

About 1/3 of the way in on the last leg I finally rolled over and swam again. Still couldn't hold a line to save my life, but the beach was getting closer. When I got to waist depth water I stood up and walked in. Enough of that.

The rest of the race was uneventful. I was going to wait for my swim buddy and run the 5k with him but he was taking way to long in transition and I was a little antsy and imagine this, cold. Oh, and it's raining now. I don't know when it started, but I first realized it about 1/2 way in on the last leg of the swim.

I didn't wear my watch again, so I have no idea where I'm at time wise in the race. As I cross the finish line there is a big clock at roughly 58:30.

Me: "that race time?"

Race Volunteer Chick: "yup"

Me: "no shit"

And at this point I'm totally astonished, I wouldn't say thrilled, but completely shocked that I broke an hour.

RVC: "Well at least you finished"

I don't think she understood my position.

Deep breath, almost done.

Other than not finishing or ending up as fish food on the bottom of the lake, the swim went about as bad as I could have imagined, but at least I know where I'm at, and that's something. I'm actually in pretty good spirits. I had no expectations going in, so it's hard to really be disappointed.

When race times get posted I'll post them here, if I had to guess, I'd say 25 in the water, 3 in transition, and 30 on the run. I felt like I was in the water a lot longer than that, but I doubt I ran a 5k in less than 30 with all the running I've done lately.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

DFL

I'm not shooting for it. It is by no means my goal, but it is a very real possibility for my next event. The Fleet Feet Aquathon series starts tomorrow night. Thousand yard swim followed by a 5k run. The very best I can hope for is probably around 50-minutes. 20 by water, 30 by land.

Now take into account I've never swam in open water, I've never swam in a wetsuit (or a swim cap for that matter), I need to get through transition, and oh, by the way, water temperatures are around 50 F. Add it up and an hour is looking pretty miraculous. Looking at 2007 results, an hour either puts me DFL or in serious competition for it, even 50 minutes gets me pretty dam close.

And to be honest I'm ok with it. Doesn't bother me one bit. I need the experience of swimming in open water and this seems to be a decent way to get some.

Out of curiosity, I did a bit of reading on hypothermia. According to wikipedia, a water temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (50 F) can be expected to lead to death in approximately 1 hour. That's reassuring.

But there is hope on the horizon, forecast includes a chance of rain and/or storms for tomorrow afternoon. I usually don't pray for rain, but if the race was cancelled or postponed I wouldn't exactly be heart broken.

So if you're so inclined, do a little rain dance for me. But if this thing goes off I'll be there, I just hope to come out of the water with all my toes and fingers still functioning.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Feels Like the First Time

Running that is. I've run a grand total of almost 16-miles in the last 5-weeks. My first run in May occurred this week, a week in which I attempted to run three times.

The first was a two miler that included a walk break at the turn around. The second I managed two miles straight through. This morning I tried running after riding my lake route. Made it just past the end of the block before deciding to walk the rest of it.

Problem this morning was water, drank way to much of it as I was changing into my running shoes. Learned my lesson. The others were about what I expected. I never planned on going more than a couple of miles, but it was hard. It was also the first time I've dealt with heat. Much prefer running in cold weather.

Time to get back on the horse, or off it. Been way to focused on riding the bike this month. Hopefully this will serve as a wake up call.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

By the Numbers

I try not to focus too much on numbers when it comes to training. But I'm an engineer, numbers are in my blood, it's what I do. So I track everything and analyze every ride, run, or swim.

Which brings us to this afternoon and my ride home from work, where I set a personal record on the mountain bike. Crushed my old best, by almost 2 miles per hour over 20 miles.

I have a couple of theories as to why or how. First, I haven't done a damn thing since thursday. I took Wilson out for a 2-mile shakedown ride on Sunday night, but other than that, zero, nodda, zip, zilch. Legs were about as fresh as they get. More on Wilson later.

Second, I rode with an old friend tonight who pushed me pretty much the whole way. We've had a difficult relationship, and I feel I've lost more than I've won, but not tonight. Tonight you were my friend at my side or behind me, encouraging me exactly when I needed it.

So tonight, my hat is off to the wind. Couldn't have done it without the 12-15 mph assistance. Tomorrow morning I expect we'll be back to the hate portion of our relationship when I ride back up to work.

St. Louis style?

I have pizza on the mind right now and the quickest way to rid mind of such thoughts are to write about them. 

The family went out for pizza last night.  Without naming names, we tried a newer place in town. If you haven't caught on by now they serve "St. Louis" style pizza, and if there's the least little hint of Encyclopedia Brown in you, you should be able to figure out where we were. 

Honestly, I didn't know St. Louis had a style, and frankly, they shouldn't. It's no wonder the great pizza debates never mention St. Louis.  New York, Chicago, maybe California, never St. Louis.

So we sit down and order our pizzas.  At this point I'm still not aware of any "St. Louis" style.  Pizza comes and isn't bad, but there's something strange about it.  G and I quickly narrow it down to the cheese, it's creamy and weird.  I don't know how else to put it.

On the way out I grab a menu to try and figure out the mystery, and there it is, Provel cheese.  Never heard of it.  Quick search and here is a summary of what wikipedia had to say:

Provel is a white processed cheese that is popular in St. Louis, Missouri. Provel is produced with cheddar, Swiss, and provolone. It is soft at room temperature, with a gooey and almost buttery texture, and thus has a low melting point. It is the traditional topping for St. Louis-style pizza .............. Although popular in the St. Louis area, Provel is rarely used elsewhere.

Well there is a good reason for that last statement, it sucks.  I thought St. Louis was weird because of fried ravioli.  But I like fried ravioli, processed cheese product, not so much.  Perhaps those of you who live or have lived in St. Louis can help me out.

I ate the leftovers for lunch today, not any different on day two. 

I gripe, but I'm still happy to have independent businesses rather than chain restaurants in the community.  I wish this place the best, the dining room was nice, the service was good, just lose the cheese, product.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thank You Sir,...

...may I have another.

Being the gluten I am, I headed out to Whalen from work to face the hill. This time the wind was definitely quartering into me, I still ended up in my lowest gear, and I still ended up standing the last part of it, but it didn't kill me or my spirits like the first time. It is just another hill. Regardless, the new cassette is on the way, a shiny new 12-27.

I turn around again just outside of Verona, crest a hill, and for the first time in a long time, need to shift into the big ring when I of course promptly drop my chain. So I'm coasting down this hill going maybe 25 mph, I look at my chain and get a brilliant idea. I bet I can get it back on without stopping.

Reach down, quick glance, eyes on road, glance down again. Shit, looks to be pinched in there. Coast to stop. Realize while putting it on that if I would have just spun the pedals while coasting I might have pulled it off. Next time.

From here in the ride is pretty mundane. Patrick has a soccer game so I need to get into Stoughton by 6:30. No problem. At 6:25 I pull up to Fox Prairie, it's empty, nobody there at all. I decide to do a lap around the neighborhood while trying to think it through. G emailed the location earlier, I was just there on Saturday for his last game, it looks right, but where the hell is everyone?

At 6:30 I pull back past the school, still no one. Shit, must be at Kegonsa, clear across town. Wonder how fast I can get there after nearly two hours in the saddle. Turns out to be 7 minutes and change. Game started just as I walked up to the field. How good am I?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Have a Headache

Seriously.

Now that spring is finally here, and I've finally been able to get out on the road I've had a slight issue with the new bike, Wilson.  It's not hills and gears, whole separate issues, and not without headaches of their own, it's the aerobars and my wrists.

The aerobars that came with Wilson are "S" bends, they are essentially straight bars.  To hold on, ones wrists need to flex into a position, that for me isn't comfortable. (Make a fist around a pencil and then flex your wrist so the pencil is basically parallel to your forearm).  I was hoping to get used to the position, but the pain has only gotten worse the more I ride.  It's a very strange, almost arthritic type pain in the wrist, creeping up into the forearm.  I'm not a big fan.

The alternative is to replace them with bars that have a significant bend.  I don't know what they're called technically, but you grip them in a much more natural position.  Lay your forearm on your desk, pinky side down, and make a fist, it's basically like that.

So I start looking into options, find some I like, check ebay, and one particular store is happening to sell complete setups (bars and aerobars) for less than I can purchase just the aerobars.  This is where it all goes downhill, or maybe uphill is the more appropriate term.

New bars are a different diameter than the old ones.  So I need a new stem, well besides the fact that stems come in an infinite number of lengths, angles, materials, and other seemingly significant designs, the steering tube where the stem attaches to the bike can also vary in diameter.  Some quick research and I of course discover that my bike has the more obscure diameter.

Somewhere along the line I decide I need to read an article on tri-bike fitting.  I went through a bike fit, or thought I did when I bought the bike, but in reading through the article, I realize one aspect of the fit was not done,  lowering the bars.  Some quick measurements and calculations and I realize I should be able to lower the front by a good 3.5".  Deep breath.

This can in part be accomplished with a new stem.  But now I can't just buy the same length and angle, I need one with some drop, and I think it could be shorter, but I could also take out some or all of the spacers, and then maybe it could be shorter still.

Of course, most of this could be avoided if I bought just the aerobars, but now I feel the need to lower the front end to where it should be, and then I'd need a new stem anyway.  And of course, even if I do get it all back together, I should maybe be refit just to make sure.  One more quick calculation on the cost and my head is ready to explode.