Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Whole Nine Yards

It was actually quite a bit more than that, but I don't have the mental capacity right now to do the math.

Got up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning to tackle the IM bike course with Kristen. The entire 112. Met up at Law Park at 5:30 and headed out. My running buddy Anna joined us for the leg out and the first loop before turning and heading back. Picked up Phil in Verona for both loops and much of the ride back up.

Kristen did a fine job of summarizing our ride here. I'm pretty tired, so I'm not going to elaborate on it much. I will say that good company makes 7-hours on a bike so much more tolerable.

It was hard, it was fun. Somewhere on the second loop I had that aha moment. I've felt tinges of it before, but Saturday it hit me full bore. That feeling that I could really do this. That ironman was in my grasp.

Made it back to Madison after about 7-hours in the saddle and headed out for a short run. Two miles in I called it a day and jumped in the lake, literally. The heat was really getting to me and the lake was calling. Could have been the best decision I made all day.

This morning I got up and joined the WIBA group for a partial run course preview. Put in about 9-miles. It was a little hillier than I would have thought. Finally met up with XT4, a fellow Stoughtonite, and ran and chatted with him for a couple of miles. Ran the last 5-6 miles with another girl from NYC (whose name I can't remember for the life of me). But that statement I made about good company on the bike, sames goes for the run. Was a good morning.

11 weeks to go, damn it's getting close, still much work to be done.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hell on a Bike

That's my take on HHH Saturday. Horrible is right, some of those hills were downright ridiculous. Picture putting it in the granny gear, turning the pedals over at 40-50 rpm, while simultaneously seeming to try and push your feet through the bottom of your shoes and rip your handlebars from the bike. At times for miles at a crack. Expletives were flowing freely from all fronts.

Oh, and it was hot and humid, with not much in the way of cloud cover. So full sun, high humidity, and ridiculous hills. Joy.

Did have the pleasure of riding with some good company. First 40 or so miles it was myself and Amy Jo. At the second rest stop we met up with some others, including lazy marathoner, who had flown in from New York for a week of IM training Wisconsin style.

The downhills were a blast, many times reaching the 4o mph mark while not really trying. But after about 30 miles even the downhills started to lose their appeal. If we were doing downhill it only meant another stupid climb was around the corner.

AJ was having major bike problems until the first rest stop where the REI mechanics did a hell of job on her bike. As a result we walked up portions of two hills. After that I made it up every hill without having to walk, including the final climb through the park. I did stop at the top of a lot of them to regain my composure, but I made it up, and for that I am happy.

Total distance covered, 66.82 miles. Total time actually riding (there was much rest), 4:48:35. Average pace, 13.9 mph. There were many times climbing hills I would look down and state "I can run faster than this". There were even a couple times I realized I could walk faster than I was currently riding.

Saturday I'm contemplating taking on the full IM course with many of the same crew I rode with yesterday. Should feel like a peace of cake by comparison.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Aquathon #2

Last night was Aquathon #2. Water was much warmer this time, upper 60's by one report. Didn't really warm-up, splashed around in the water briefly to get acclimated, swam maybe 50 yards.

The buoys looked like they were a lot closer than normal so I went out my way to swim an extra 1-200 yards, you know just to make it right. Actually my goggles half fogged up and I couldn't see shit for most of the swim and ended up all over the place, frustrating.

Put myself in the middle of pack and planned to try and draft as much as possible. I had a couple of brief moments of success, but they never lasted very long. With my goggles fogged it was good to be in the pack. Being surrounded by others I at least knew I was going somewhat in the right direction, still wasn't able to relax and just swim though. Not being able to see really screws with my mind.

Came into transition at 19:25. Slower than last time, but still well ahead of my Kansas pace. Not sure what is going on there. I kind of wish I would have taken splits on the Kansas swim to see if I slowed down at all on the second half. Oh well.

No issues. Was relieved to see that G was out on the run course. I thought I would spot her in transition while walking out of the lake, turns out she was already gone. Time of 1:32.

Another sufferfest, not necessarily from a pace standpoint, but it was a tough run for me. Some heat, high humidity, a ton of little bugs providing protein I didn't really want or need, and a general desire to not be running. Not sure what it was, but I really didn't want to be running last night.

Had some slight hope of catching G when I made the last turn on the out portion prior to the turn around without seeing her. But she appeared way to soon and was probably close to a 1/2 mile ahead of me at that point, twas not to be.

Walked through the water station at the turn around for a drink, then again for about half the final hill. If I wouldn't have gotten passed by two men I probably would have walked the entire hill. Ended up repassing one of them and a couple of women prior to the finish. Run time was 26:24 (8:31/mile). Total time was 47:20.

Stopped for pizza downtown at Paissons (sp?). It was ok, nothing terribly special about it. Tonight is Relay for Life in Stoughton. So I get to potentially stay up all night and maybe even run a 5k at 3am. Tomorrow is HHH. Still thinking I'm going for 200k, little scared right now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kansas Recap

This could end up getting pretty long, my apologies in advance.

Headed out of Madison for Kansas Thursday morning about 6:30, arrived after a largely uneventful trip at roughly 3:30 in the afternoon and set up camp. One of the first things that struck me was this sign on the doors of the bathroom / shower buildings in the campground.

So how exactly am I supposed to get my bike clean in a pit toilet? And why on earth would I want to try?

Turns out there were spigots with drinking water at all the pit toilets. So now instead of washing my bike in a pit toilet, I'm getting my drinking water from a spigot adjacent to one, much better.

Friday morning I got up and went for a run along portions of the run course with Patrick in tow on his bike. Nothing to exciting. After breakfast we headed down to the lake for a practice swim. Other than a small water snake causing some excitement among some other swimmers and families, the swim was fine. Water was comfortably warm, visibility sucked, but I'm used to swimming in murky water, so no big deal.

Headed into town and ate a good portion of a pig at Arthur Bryant's for lunch. Yum. If you ever get into Kansas City it is well worth a trip into the inner city for their pig. There is a reason this restaurant is world famous. I'm sure there are other restaurants in KC with equally good barbecue, but I have a hard time not going back to AB's.

The rest of Friday was spent visiting friends in KC, generally relaxing and having a good time.

Saturday morning G was planning on going out for a run and I mentioned that a 5k/10k race was going right through the campground (starting in less than 45 minutes). So we marched down to registration and got her signed up for the 5k.

G had a great race, finishing I believe 2nd in her age group (losing by less than a minute), 9th among women, and maybe 35th overall out of 200+. I could be wrong on the numbers, but I think I'm pretty close, as I've heard the details repeatedly since, along with constant complaints about how sore her feet are. I've been largely unsympathetic on the latter.

Later Saturday morning I went and got registered and checked out expo. Went back to the campground and got Wilson prepped for the race, including one last ride through the campground and out and about enough to know that everything was working right. Bikes needed to be in transition Saturday afternoon so Patrick and I rode down and dropped it off.

A short run back up to the campsite from transition ended my prerace workouts. Half way back Patrick and I stopped to walk through a big ass military helicopter that landed near expo while I was out on the bike. Cool bird.

The rest of Saturday was pretty low key. I made a considerable effort to eat and drink more than normal. Including our last big meal mid-afternoon. We headed into Lawrence for some shopping and wandering before heading back to camp for a relatively early night to bed.

Sunday morning came damn early. I actually slept fairly well, but was still up prior to the alarm going off at 4:45. Woke, made myself a PB&J sandwich, and headed to transition 2. This race had two separate transition areas, one for swim to bike, and a second, totally separated, for bike to run. This was a bit of pain prerace, but I actually really liked it once race came.

So all the run stuff came with me to transition 2. Once there I organized it all in my race bag, made sure nothing I needed in transition 1 was left behind, then zipped up the bag and put it all in a garbage bag. I had been watching the radar rather closely, and was convinced at some point we were going to get hammered with rain. If that were the case, I at least wanted dry shoes and socks to put on for the run.

Headed back to camp for my swim bag and everything I needed for the bike and made my way to transition 1 to set all that up. Back to camp one last time (we were just up the hill from t1, really nice in that regard) for I don't remember what. Family was up and getting ready for the day.

The kids and I at the campsite prior to heading down to the start. Look at all that energy. And yes, my future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Me waiting for my swim wave to go off. I think this look is half asleep mixed with cautiously optimistic, a hint of excitement, and maybe a pinch of scared shitless. I'm not real sure, I don't recognize it.
Race time, I know, finally.
I was actually remarkably calm. I think not setting time goals really allowed me to just relax and not get all worked up about the race. I was in the second or third to the last wave of swimmers, so lots of time to wait, even got to see the pros come in from the swim and head out on the bike, kind of cool, but not much different than watching any other competent triathlete.
Lined up on the ramp behind the green caps ahead of us. Once they went off we were herded into the water like a bunch of cattle. Had enough time to acclimate to the water and get in a couple of strokes. Lined up on the outside maybe 10-yards back from the buoy line.
And we're off, that's me on the right side, middle of picture, black wetsuit, white cap.
Short version. I was really happy with my swim. Swam relatively straight, but stayed to the outside the entire time. Only stopped swimming twice, once about 5-minutes in just to get my bearings, and a second time on the way back in when I swallowed a couple gallons of lake water trying to get a breath.
I did catch an elbow in the nose right at the start, had a little more contact early, some at the turns, but other than that it was just a relaxed easy swim. Water was perfect, siting was good.
My only disappointment with the swim came when I finally looked at my watch coming out of the water. I had purposely avoided looking at it during the swim just because I didn't want it to impact my mindset and stroke. The swim was so smooth and easy that I was certain I had swam at least 3-4 minutes faster.
Swim time - 46:20 (2:11/100)
Overall place - 1245/1449
Men - 941/1079
Age Group - 199/231

Transition 1
Coming out of the water I stripped my wetsuit to my waist and headed straight to a porta potty. I really had to piss coming out of the water. I tried while swimming but I just couldn't relax enough while moving, and I wasn't willing to stop, so the porta potty it was.
Made my way down the racks and promptly forgot my number and therefore, bike location. After a brief moment it came back and I made my way over to the bike.

I believe I'm stepping out of my wetsuit (grey shirt, black shorts). This is where I really like the separate transition areas. I had a long walk from my rack location to the mount line so I put the shoes on the bike before hand. My helmet and sunglasses were on the aerobars. The only thing under the bike was an empty gatorade bag for my wetsuit, goggles, etc.

So stuff the wetsuit in the bag, helmet and glasses on and we're on our way. Despite my bathroom break and temporary memory loss, transition 1 was my best event relative to the field.

Transition time - 3:04 Overall place - 462/1449
Men - 338/1079
Age group - 76/231


I've mounted my bike plenty of times with the shoes already in the pedals, but this was the first time I've done it in a race. Fortunately it went off without issue.

Let me preface this portion of the report by saying I have no idea where this ride came from. In training this year I've had one 17 mph training ride (a one way ride with a tailwind) Everything else has hovered in the upper 15 range, maybe lower 16's if everything was perfect. So to pull off an 18.5 mph pace is amazing to me.

First, loved the course. I'd ride it any day of the week and twice on Sundays over the IM Wisconsin course under similar weather conditions. It wasn't flat by any stretch of the imagination, but none of the hills were terribly difficult, and the rode surface was as nice as anything I've ridden. Anyone that tells you it is as hard as Wisconsin is full of shit. End of story.

So I come out of transition with the plan to go easy, heartrate was high, pace was fast, but by pure feel I didn't feel like I was pushing hard at all. So I kept at it and didn't worry about it much. Kept an eye on heartrate trying to get it down, the other eye on cadence, trying to keep it in a reasonable range.

Nutrition was going to be the biggest obstacle from this point forward. I made the stupid mistake of running out of Infinit in the weeks prior to the race and my new supply didn't arrive before we left town. I had hoped to pick some up at race expo, but didn't have any luck. So now I have none of the only nutrition I've ever used for longer rides, great.

Found some other stuff at expo, Accelerade I think. Mixed up two bottles of it, and planned to use it plus whatever I could from the aid stations. At the first I grabbed a Gu, chocolate, kind of gross, at the second aid station vanilla Gu found it's way to my hand, better. By the last aid station I was through my Accelerade, so I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade and another Gu, tangerine I think, not bad. Love grabbing stuff on the go from volunteers, didn't miss a single hand off and didn't really slow down either.

Bike itself was going well, somewhere between the 10 and 20 mile marks we hit the first out and back portion of the course, it was great having the distraction of oncoming riders to watch while going out. I didn't pass a lot of people, but the majority of those I did I passed going up hills. Riding hills has paid off, felt like a mountain goat compared to some out there. I'm sure HHH next week will eliminate that feeling.

Around the 45-mile mark my stomach started to cramp. I'm guessing because of the Gatorade, never really gotten along with the Endurance formula, but I can't really say for sure. Leg's still felt good and I was having fun, talking to other riders along the way, ringing my bell at spectators and volunteers whenever I could remember. I didn't use it on any other competitors, just didn't have the heart to. But the kids along the route seemed to really get a kick out of it.

At the 50 or 51 mile mark we hit the last major climb of the ride, one that took us up to the damn for the reservoir we swam in. I've read about this hill for months now and had it in the back of mind for the entire ride. I was very relieved to find it wasn't that bad or that long.

Easy 5 miles back into the park and I'm ready to run. Bike had other ideas, just after the 55-mile mark was one last downhill followed immediately by a short climb. Three quarters of the way up my chain falls off. I may have let a few expletives fly, but it was my only trouble on the whole ride so I'll take it.

Chain back on, finish the climb, feet out of shoes, coast to the dismount line standing on one pedal and almost entirely ready to run.

Bike time - 3:02:03 (18.5 mph)
Overall place - 919/1449
Men - 775/1079
Age group - 167/231

Transition 2
What I failed to mention so far, the rain I expected never came. And maybe 20-minutes prior to getting off the bike the clouds parted and the sun made it's presence known. It was now hot, full sun, and I was looking at 13.1 miles with little if any shade. Joy.

Anyway, ran to my spot and racked my bike. Sat down an pulled my race bag out of the garbage bag, on go the socks, shoes, running shorts, and shirt. Pull the garmin off the bike, visor on, walked to transition exit.

Transition time - 2:46
Overall place - 869/1449
Men - 674/1079
Age group - 153/231

Run turned into a suffer fest for me. Headed out of T2 at an easy pace and my stomach cramps
immediately amplified to a point that made running very uncomfortable. Walked all the aid stations and many points in between. Ran when I could. This is the only picture I actually like.

Must have been the first time past our campsite, as I actually still look like I'm doing ok. Between the stomach and the sun I went downhill fairly quickly. Lots of water went over my head. Drank some water, one cup of coke (the only time I found it), ate a couple of pretzels. But was scared to consume anything else for fear of it coming back out.

So I ran when I could, walked when I had to, talked to and encouraged others as I went. As much as I hurt, it was still relatively enjoyable. Amazing thing was the time went by relatively quickly. Sad thing is my legs and feet felt really good throughout, even through the last couple of miles. If it hadn't been for the stomach issues I feel I could have cranked out a really nice run. I'm starting to have a lot more respect for those of you who can put together a decent run at the end of these longer races.

Run time - 2:20:14 (10:42/mile)
Overall place - 1104/1449
Men - 839/1079
Age group - 183/231

Coming into the finish was a huge relief, I started 40 minutes after the pros, thus the discrepancy on the clock.


How tired was I? Didn't even register that none other than Chrissie Wellington (IM champion, female winner of today's race, and seemingly all around good person) placed the medal over my head. I'm such a tool.

Total time - 6:14:27

Overall - 1061/1449

Men - 834/1079
Age group - 181/231

Closing Thoughts
I have absolutely no complaints about this race at all. Course was great, volunteers were awesome, etc, etc. To top it off, it's now two days later and I feel great. The stomach took a good 24-36 hours to really get back to normal. Legs were a bit stiff after periods of sitting in the car yesterday, but nothing bad at all.

I put almost 17 miles on the bike after work today and then another 2 running. There was a little soreness at the start of the run, but nothing unusual and it went away pretty quick. I'll take it as a good sign that I'm doing something right. Need to get the nutrition back on track.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Done, done, and done

Unofficial results

Swim - 0:46
Bike - 3:02
Run - 2:20

Total - 6:14ish

Tired, sore, but happy. Full report once we get home.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kansas or Bust

The van is packed beyond full and we're leaving for Kansas is less than 6-hours.

I'm feeling better about the race than I was two weeks ago. Not because I'm in any better shape than I was two weeks ago, I think I just got my head in the right place. I have no serious time goals, pretty much a first for me. I'm going to do whatever I can to go out and just enjoy it while still actually racing.

On that end, I finally tracked down the brass bike bell I purchased at Bike-O-Rama a couple of months ago. I think I searched the house three times this week looking for it. It's my reminder to have fun, and it's actually pretty loud. I installed it on the rear end of my aerobars right behind the cups. Out of the way but easy enough to get to. My wife thinks I've lost my mind, my daughter loves it.

So fair warning, if your race wheels cost more than my bike and I happen to pass you, I may just have to ring the bell.

I do have a run goal. I want to pull off the half marathon at the end in less than 2:11, 10-minute miles. Setting this goal, and only this goal, will hopefully force me to dial it back on the bike just a bit and have enough left to run at the end. I expect to finish somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30 (0:45, 3:15-3:30, 2:10 + transitions).

If you happen to be at the race stop by and look us up. Campsite #91. Gold van, two loud kids running around. I'll post a quick recap via Blackberry Sunday afternoon, but a full race report likely won't surface until Monday or Tuesday after we return.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May / June

Trend wise May took on a similar look as last year. I biked a whole lot more, ran a bit less, and really slacked in the pool

Even though I only swan about 22,000 yards, sometime during the month I did surpase the 50 mile mark for 2009. Maybe not a big deal for the swimmers out there, but for me it's a big number. Last year I put in just over 60 miles total, as of today I sit at 52 for 2009.

Did get in a couple of open water swims up at Lake Kegonsa. I've heard the blue-green algae is in full bloom already so I don't know how much I'll be able to swim there this year. It sucks, the nicer it is outside the less I want to spend time in the pool, and Kegonsa is by far my easiest option for open water swimming.

Big miles this month, close to 450, by far my largest month to date. Not getting any faster, but starting to get in some quality long rides as well as commuting to the office a couple of times per week. It's easy to rack up miles doing this, the nicer the weather gets, the more I'll be commuting, win-win situation. Love riding in in the morning when it's warm enough.

Went in for a fitting at Chronometro maybe two weeks ago. They didn't make a ton of adjustments, but so far it's been working out pretty well. Seat came up and forward a bit, one cleat adjustment, and some fairly major changes to the aerobars. It was a good experience.
Long rides are going ok, trying to spend as much time on the IMoo bike course as possible. Last weekend that meant 71 miles starting and ending near the terrace. I've had a couple other decent rides as well, but nothing else over 55 miles.

Similar to the pool, I slacked a bunch on the run as well, not getting in nearly the volume the plan calls for. Ended up at ~89 miles for the month, down slightly from last month. The will to go out and run is becoming harder and harder to find. If anyone wants to join me for a mile or eight please let me know. I'd love to have company more frequently. Pace is negotiable.

Summer is arriving and the season is starting to get interesting. Not going to run the Blue Mounds Trail Run next weekend do to conflicts with kids schedules. The week following we head to Kansas for my first real test of the year, looking forward to it, even if I am a bit freaked out at times.

Aquathon #2 on 6/18, my wife has a team set up for Relay for Life on 6/19. then I'm signed up for the 200k at the Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike ride on 6/20. Not sure what I was thinking on that one. Then the last weekend in June WIBA comes to town.

Gidde up.