Sunday, December 27, 2009

Almost twenty ten

When you need a week of rest and recovery, the best thing to do (by far) is to...go home.  For the most part I haven't felt any urgency to work out while I've been at home and that is good as I think I really needed an easy week from all the swimming I've been doing.  While I love improving I do not love shoulder injuries.  I do not think I am alone in that sentiment either...

I did log my best week of running since...August-ish probably so that was certainly a positive thing.  I've started recovering faster after each run and feeling a lot smoother, the two of which combine to really mean nothing other than the fact that I can tell myself I'm getting better.  I did, however, come across my first running related annoyance: the blood blister.  A blood blister is about as exciting as a fever on Christmas.  Oh well, it will go away (maybe)...

I'm flying back to Charlotte on Wednesday so I'll probably get back on a more regular schedule with regard to my swimming.  I'm excited about the possibilities the 2010 season has laying in wait...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Now I really feel like I'm in 25-29 AG

So Saturday marked my 25th birthday, bringing with it such exciting things as...well nothing really. But that's ok. I like my birthdays to be pretty low-key. I'm not much of one for going out and getting crazy anymore (it's not as though I used to either...I spent my 21st birthday watching Lord of the Rings solo at home and it was awesome!). The Tour de el Amigo was on the schedule for the birthday but sadly mother nature had other ideas and the ride had to be canceled. It will likely be rescheduled for mid to late January when it is still cold and everyone is still out of shape - as this makes it more 'epic.'

This week I got in one spin class, some running and a LOT of swimming. 17,000 yards worth of swimming if 5 workouts. That equates to (roughly) 10 miles. It felt awesome. It's hard to describe the feeling associated with getting better at something and feeling like you're finally beginning to understand it. Getting in the water is no longer the worst part of my day; in fact it has become one of the best. I look forward to almost every workout in the pool and I am absolutely demolishing times that I never even sniffed before. Scott and I have been swimming almost every workout together and it's really nice to have someone there to motivate you and push you through the workout. He's a lot faster than me but I still think we manage to push each other despite our disparity in speeds. I'm really looking forward to seeing how much my times drop during next years' triathlons. Obviously, that could just fail to happen but I have a good feeling that this work will really pay off in the future.

I think the problem for a lot of triathletes, especially the ones that I train with and know, is that they have somehow convinced themselves that they just don't like swimming. It seems that for almost every triathlete there's a person that gets zero enjoyment out of it. Swimming, in reality, is probably the best all around workout of the three sports that we engage in as triathetes. It gives you a great aerobic workout, strengthens your upper body, promotes flexibility, and is a zero-impact sport. Of course, there are times when it feels like you're going to black out but it's all part of the game!

Back to the point I was trying to make; if more people that hated swimming invested just a little bit more of a percentage of their weekly hours in the pool I think they'd see more gains there than in any of the other segments. People that view swimming as their weakness consequently - and for no real explanation - tend to ignore and just plan to 'survive it.' They subsequently become better cyclists and runners but what if they took an hour away from running (6-8 miles/week) and just tacked that on to their swimming totals (~3000 yards?). They'd definitely get more benefit from that swim workout than they would from that run workout. That opinion holds even truer when it comes to cycling. When you're training for endurance events (long course), what is a 20 mile (~1hr) ride going to get you? Not much... Add 3000 yards to your weekly totals and you'll probably see more gains than you'd expect.

Well, that was just me spouting a lot of word vomit. People that don't like swimming are never going to get better because they've managed to convince themselves that they A) hate it, and B) are always going to suck at it. So they will...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I'm trying to become a fish

I'm trying as hard as I can but it will never happen. Since I didn't swim growing up I'm missing out (of course, other people wouldn't call it 'missing out') on years and years of swimming. Oh well, it just means I get to swim a lot now! This week I set a career high in weekly totals (15,500) and I've FINALLY started to feel normal while running; I managed to get in a little over 30 miles. Only one bike ride and that was a spin class. I'm pretty unmotivated to bike right now but I'm excited about two things:

1) John Behme's Tour de el Amigo next Saturday (December 19th, which also happens to be my 25th birthday), which is a ~105 mile ride that has several competitions (basically the ride is a group ride and at mile 75 we all stop and eat at el Amigo, downing a competition-mandated amount of tacos and chips). There are 6 sprint points and 6 KOM points. There is a porto competition (calling out porto's). There is an eating competition. There might be a margerita competition. Essentially, it's going to be epic. Especially considering hardly any of us are in shape to do a ride like this. I plan on winning the sprint competition. Yes, it is going to happen.

2) Potential William and Mary training camp from January 4th-11th. Like last year I think this is a great time to jump start your bike fitness for the year. While I'd prefer it to be in February or March due to MY schedule I'm (unfortunately) not in college anymore and they can't pass up the month off from school...

Looking forward to next week and turning 25!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Please restart

Recovery is awesome. The past month has been ALL about trying to get healthy and refreshed after B2B. At this point I would have to say I've been successful.

The first three weeks were "no running allowed." I wanted to stay off my legs and see if I could put myself back together so I could run again. Mission accomplished. Besides the first 22 years of my life where I didn't train for running the 3 weeks was the longest break I've ever had. I instead focused on swimming, a LOT. For the past 4 weeks I've managed to hold just over 10,000 yards/week. That's DEFINITELY a career high for me. I definitely have seen some improvement but as a recent video session shows I've got a lot of room for technical improvements to my stroke.

This week was finally about running again. I started off a little gingerly just because I was a little scared but with the combination of some new shoes that I love and some patience the week has ended quite well with a nice 10 mile run to celebrate...nothing. Running again maybe.

My plans for the next month are really just about swimming and running a lot. I'd like to bump up the swimming to around 12,000/week and the run will be a steady increase that goes something like this: 20, 30, 40, 35, 45, 50, 55, 45, 60, 65, 70, and then just see how high I can go in the amount of time that I have.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beach 2 Battleship Race Report

I never really know where to start things like this. For a race this big and this important how can I possibly say all the things that I need to say? I guess I'll just have to accept it as an impossibility and move on, sigh...

It's amazing how much your perspective can shift in as little as a year. I remember when I was getting ready for, racing, and reminiscing about my two half-ironmans in April and May I was pretty sure those were the most painful experiences of my life (good pain...the suffering kind). Up to that point they really were. I had done something that most people don't even consider attempting to try; they think triathletes (and long course triathletes in particular) are a little crazy. They are not wrong. Why would a person willfully subject themselves to the things that we must undergo during training and racing? What is really in it for us? I guess that's up to each individual to decide but some general examples are:

Nick/Lisska/Pros: Make money and satisfy sponsors
Me: Be the fastest Freshman (or only Freshman...)
Cummins: Talk constant smack
Woodbury: Hold on the the title of "Fastest Fat Triathlete"
Behme: Nobody really knows
Watkins: To see how much over 30 hours/week he can go before he literally dies
Colleen: Everyone has seen those calves. Gotta keep those babies up and running
Carrie: So she can be Lady Gaga for Halloween and nobody really questions it because she's already crazy...
Ashley: So he's not bored all the time

I mean I could go on and on with some of the reasons why my training partners do it but really, nobody cares.

I signed up for this race back in late August completely on a whim. I had been training with the guys doing IM Louisville 2009 and consequently had several 18-20 mile runs and 100+ mile bike rides in my legs and after bumping into Ashley one day at the pool and him suggesting I sign up (I think he might have been joking...) I went ahead and did it. That decision led to a re-assessment of my yearly plans. I had to take some time off before building back up to IM level training because my body was completely fried and a little over trained. I had dug a pretty deep hole and tossed myself in so I needed to step back, recover, and rebuild for B2B.

My IM build - as created by J Behme - essentially started the first week in September. The first month was pretty easy and then it picked up big time. Unfortunately my body didn't want me to run as much as I wanted it to and crapped out on me a little bit in October with a couple of injuries forcing my running volume to be way, way lower than I wanted it to be. In the 6 weeks leading up to the race I only averaged 13-15 miles a week; not ideal when you're training for a marathon.

Other than the lack of running, my training went really well. My bike strength grew exponentially and I responded really well to the long rides and my swimming is as good as it has ever been.

I've posted this in the past, but my goals for this race were ambitious to say the least. I took a lot of heat for that but like I've said before, why aim low? Anybody with low expectations when it comes to their own abilities is never going to go very far.

On a perfect day I hoped to swim a 53-55, bike a 4:58-5:03, and run a 3:25-3:35 (if I remember correctly and I think I do). The run, as I stated before, was going to be the BIG question mark. As with any long-course race the run is where you make your money and I had a feeling that I'd be coming out pretty poor because of my sporadic run training. But oh well, it is what it is. At the start line, there was nothing I could do about it.

I'm gonna skip most of the pre-race stuff because let's be honest, not too many people care about it. Staying with Ashley, Lori and Jason at Lori's parents beach house was outstanding and very relaxing, which is key. I'm not sure any of us were nervous (well Lori might have been but I couldn't really tell!), just anxious to get to race day and put the pedal to the metal.

Race Day:

Alarm goes off at 3:30am. Shower, put on as many layers as possible, eat breakfast and drink some coffee. Out the door by 4:30 for the ~1hr drive to T1. The drive was uneventful...I think we weren't fully awake and that was not helped by the music I was playing. I'm not sure I've ever listened to Disturbed at 4:30 in the morning!

Ashley and I had both set up our bikes the day before - as required - minus the water bottles and our T1, Special needs and swim bags; that we planned on doing race morning. Pumped up the tires, dropped off the bags, and looked for the line to get on the trolleys to swim start. Guess what, they were unbelievably long; we both said screw that and called Lori and Jason to see if they could drive us to the swim start. We hopped in the car and got to the start but not without drama as Lori almost took out a trolley on the way over there.

We both made one last (and very important) porto stop before beginning the process of body marking and putting on our wetsuits. Luckily by that point Jim Bertrand (2XU Rep) was there so he helped me with my 2xU wetsuit so that the fit was perfect. Well, as perfect as a skin tight layer of rubber and neoprene can be. I looked GOOD. Watkins let me borrow his booties, which would prove invaluable on the run to T1, so I got to wear those even though the water wasn't that cold (68-69 degrees). We all walked to swim start and got ready for the horn.

Swim: 2.4 miles in 49:11 (31st)

At the sound of the gun I jogged into the water, did a couple of dolphin dives and started the swim. My immediate impressions were that the water was extremely salty but other than that it was perfect. No chop to speak of (at first...) and the temperature, while being cold at first, was absolutely perfect for a full sleeved wetsuit. I tried to stay wide around the first right-turn buoy as I didn't want to get caught up in the maelstrom that was likely to develop as a couple hundred people tried to take the same line. Took a perfect outside line and the next mile+ was a straight shot down the channel and with an awesome current. When I saw awesome I really do mean awesome. It wasn't river strong (Augusta 70.3) but I bet it was at least 10-15 minutes fast. My swim time was only the 31st fastest swim time, which is crazy. In a true "IM" race my normal swim would be 15+ minutes behind the leader but today it was half that. The current negates a lot of the advantages that strong swimmers have and I was more than happy to have that on my side today... I didn't find any feet for the first 2/3 of the swim but as we approached the left turn I did manage to find a little pack (that I had either caught up to or strategically cut the corner - no turn buoy - to merge with them) and settled in for the last part of the swim. I was really just concentrating on expending as little energy as possible and I totally accomplished that. As I pulled myself out of the water and up onto the dock I felt no soreness in my lats which I normally do after a hard swim so I was especially pleased with this time (although I didn't have a watch so I had no idea what my swim time was). I got stripped of my wetsuit and began the long run to T1. Along the way I heard someone yelling my name but it took a second to find who it was; Behme was yelling at me telling me that I was 4 minutes down on Ashley. I figured that was too much of a gap to intentionally try and make up on the bike so I just decided to go ahead and race my own race no the bike. I kept running (it was a longgg run) and grabbed my swim-to-bike transition bag and headed for the changing tent, plopped down in a chair and began to change.

T1: ~6:17

I had put a towel in my bag so I could at least superficially dry off so I grabbed that, toweled off as best I could and began to put on my clothes for the bike. Short sleeve jersey, long sleeve jersey (that was a GREAT purchase the week of the race...I'm applauding myself for that one), gloves in a pocket (I had already put all my food in my pockets while it was in the bag), socks, shoes all went on as quickly as possible while trying to rush. I put all my swim stuff back in the bag, handed it to a volunteer and began the run to my bike. Threw on the sunglasses, helmet and grabbed the bike and ran it out of transition to the mount line and off I went. Lori missed me until after I had passed (a trend that was likely to continue although I'm not surprised as she's biased towards her husband...)

Bike: 112 miles in 5:00:52 (4th - I am 2nd in the results but that's because they don't have a couple of guys' splits, 2 of whom I know were faster than me)

I hopped on my bike and within the first pedal strokes I could tell I felt really, really good. I knew the game-plan was to go easy the first 30 miles but it was tough considering how good my legs felt... The first mile or two of the course was very technical as we had to get up onto a bridge and head over to the mainland. Once we got into more open roads I settled down in my aerobars and prepared for a long, steady bike ride. In the first 10 miles I kept passing people and then we got to I-40 (or I-140 I can't remember) and the only guy to pass me the entire race crept up from behind and slowly went by; his leg number was 27 so I knew he was in my age group but I had to go my own pace and just hope he'd come back to me or be a bad runner (he was neither unfortunately, although his run split was only 15 minutes better than mine; he must have biked his face off). For the next 20 or so miles he was always within sight but once we got into the real country it was me, myself, and I. I tried to stay focused on getting down all the fuel I needed and drinking enough water.

Around mile 30 my back actually felt some signs of fatigue and that was a little worrisome since I still had another 82 to go!! I tried to keep it as loose as possible by standing up out of my saddle every once in a while and for the most part that kept most of the pressure off the lower back. At about mile 50 I was starting to feel the overpowering need to pee. I had actually heard the call before the swim start and tried to pee in my wetsuit but we were listening to the national anthem and I somehow felt that would be...wrong. Plus, the people next to me would probably think it's a little weird. Suffice it to say, I didn't take care of the pee problem and it was becoming overwhelming. I didn't want to come to a complete stop so I focused as hard as I could on peeing, stood out of my saddle, and... Well you know the rest. Needless to say, it felt amazing. I sprayed some of my water bottle to clear the damage and settled back into my aerobars. For whatever reason that actually took a little bit of the pressure off my back!

All I could look forward to the next 10 miles was the special needs station coming up around mile 60 (at least, that's what we were told...). Mile 60 rolled around, then 61, 62 and 63 before I finally saw the guy who relayed numbers up the road to the aid station. I came around the corner and saw two girls holding water bottles so I grabbed one and came to a stop beside the guy holding my bag. I took out a mountain dew and a snickers bar while guy said "Mountain Dew man, that's the stuff." I replied back with "Yea dude I've been waiting for this moment for 4 hours." He laughed and said "" He totally doesn't respect the power of the Dew.

I got back on the road but withheld from drinking the Dew because I wanted to savor it around mile 80. So the next hour was again uneventful for the most part. Around mile 70-75 I saw a police car up ahead and then three bikers taking a right turn onto the road I was on (coming out of an out-back section). Ashley was in the front of the group so that got me a little excited but I didn't know how long the out-back was so I made the turn and got back into the bars only to realize that it was literally only 1/4 mile out and 1/4 mile back. That got me even more pumped up so I turned around, turned right and headed out to slowly reel in the three guys ahead of me, who were also the first racers I had seen for around 3 hours!!

At mile 80 I made the fateful right turn onto HWY 421 and immediately felt the soft headwind. "Crap." I knew we'd be taking this road the rest of the way in and felt no surprise, only sadness when I saw the sign that said "Wilmington - 38mi." I could see the little group up ahead but realized someone had fallen off the back and I was catching up to him a little more rapidly... After a little longer I realized it was Ashley. I kept working up to him and came up beside him and asked how he was doing. He said he had missed the special needs bag so I offered him some Mtn Dew which he turned down (unsurprising given my glaring case of cooties) so I kept the pass going. I sort of expected the two of us to rotate together the rest of the way but I looked back and he was drifting back so I settled on for the long (and miserable) last 30+ miles into T2.

My back was becoming more and more of an issue and I was getting up out of the saddle to stand up on the pedals much more often at this point. Along this stretch I passed Lori, Jason and her parents a couple of times so that was a nice boost; also got made fun of and cheered for by Watkins and Behme which was another nice boost (and by a nice boost I mean they scared me into riding faster because I literally thought Watkins might try and eat me) and passed the two guys that had been with Ashley. They sat on my pace for the rest of the ride. We started catching the half-iron participants and to the finish it was pretty much a constant stream of those guys.

If you notice in the past 30 miles I stopped talking about eating and that's because I stopped thinking about nutrition. Note to self: that is dumb. I said after the race that I never thought about the 'next step' until I was just about to start it and was wondering whether it was a good or bad thing but this makes it seem like it's a bad thing. I should have been thinking about nothing OTHER than the run for the last hour or so; taking in all the calories I would need and drinking lots and lots and lots of water. Oh well, learn by experience.

Coming into T2 was fun as I came in right with Peter Kotland (that was cool and not cool because I know that he can probably go a lot, LOT further at that pace and that he was about to rip off a fast marathon) and we handed our bikes off to volunteers and ran towards the changing tent and T2. This woman shouted in my face with a bagel half in and half out of her mouth that my bag was over there and pointed me in a different direction so I had to veer off to the left to get it and then sit down in a chair to begin the changing process.

T2: 4:56

The short sleeve and long sleeve jerseys came off along with my helmet, cycling socks and shoes and on went the compression socks, brooks shoes (a bad choice as they were flats...) and off I went after a cup of water.

Run: 26.2 miles in 4:11 (ouch)

As soon as the run started I knew I was in for a long day. My legs felt ok but my mouth was parched and it felt really hot. The course was a 6.55 mile out, 6.55 mile back done twice. Beforehand I was thankful for this because my standard run loop at home is 6.5 miles so I hoped that I could break it down easier in my head because I was so familiar with that distance.

Miles one and two both took you over two big over pass bridges, the second of which had a metal grating at the top for about 50 yards. Over the course of the four crossings of that bridge my feet became more and more attuned to each individual ridge on the bridge. Painful, to say the least and another reminder of why most people don't choose flats for an IM.

Once you crossed the second bridge there was a slight downhill into the most populated section of the run course on Water St. This section was mostly brick and cobblestone and was definitely the most 'fun' part of the course. Running by it the first time was pretty nice because I got to see everybody again and tell them "I feel fine, just tired." Tired was an understatement haha; it was all I could do to speak. This was one of the only truly flat sections of the course so I tried to enjoy it as much as I could. I kept taking solely water at aid stations, something that I think - in hindsight - was stupid. I didn't realize it at the time but I was pretty much bonked on energy. The lack of calorie intake in the last hour to hour and a half of the bike ride really put me in a hole during the beginning of the run and I struggled to claw my way out of that.

Once past the crowded Water St it was through some city streets and then into a park, which I felt was the most boring section of the course. Running along the path and over some wooden bridges was mostly uninteresting. I had been passed by a couple of full-distance guys and I was just focused on putting one foot in front of the other when I heard some remarkably fast steps coming up behind me. At this point I knew there was nobody fast left in the half ironman so this had to be someone from the full. This guy came up beside me and asked how I was feeling and I realized it was Ashley. He was slaying it for that first half. I watched him gallop away from me and I felt a little sorry for myself. Just a little bit though. I knew I wasn't in the same kind of shape he was so I just stuck to trying to run my own race.

After the turnaround the way back definitely started dragging a lot more. I found myself walking through aid stations to get a couple of cups of water. At the mile 10 or 11 aid station I took my first handful of pretzels and cup of coke. They tasted AMAZING. I literally punched myself in the face for not thinking to do that earlier. The punch may have been my hand trying to find my mouth... At the halfway turnaround a bunch of volunteers yelled at me to turn my bib number around but I didn't and they kept yelling at me so I just figured instead of wasting the energy to explain to them I was going around again I'd just do it and they'd get the point. They did. Right after the turnaround was the special needs bag section. This one lady volunteer screamed in my face "What number are you??" I responded back with "I don't have any special needs." She said, in the ultimate elitist voice that you can think of, "Oh he doesn't haaaaave a special needs bag." I wanted to punch her in the face, but I managed to hold back.

Back over the bridges again. Miserable again. Through water street. Keep taking pretzels and coke. Walk a little bit. Run some more. Take a little 'me' time. Get to the park. Oh look there's a wedding. Can't turn head 90 degrees to see if the bride is hot or not. Continue looking forward. 5 feet in front of me, ironman face on. Take a little more 'me' time. Get to the turnaround. Get passed by some more people. Go back past the wedding. Still can't tell about that damn bride. Oh well. Take some more coke. Start to feel a little bit better. Run a little faster. That was too fast ok slow down. Drink water. Focus on the ground. Where did this hill come from? Oh god I'm so sore. This feels ok, run a little bit faster. Oh god. Bad idea. See Watkins and Behme. Don't remember what we talked about. Walk up last hill with 5 other guys and watch 48 year old woman run up the hills. Feel sorry for myself. Run over the metal grate bridge. Wow, thank god that's over. Wait, I'm less than 2 miles from the finish. Holy crap that's amazing. Last aid station. Don't run into anybody. Oh my god that hill is so huge. Run? Shuffle. Get to top, realize the downhill will probably hurt more. Mentally prepare. Ouch ouch my quads. Left turn, can now see the finish, sort of. Get past the turnaround and realize a bunch of people are still going. Stop feeling sorry for myself, feel sorry for them. Guy starts to pass me. Hell. No. Drop a 90 second last quarter mile to shake that sucker. I can't believe I'm kicking in an Ironman. Feel a little ridiculous about myself. See the finish line. Cross it. Stop moving.

So that was the race. It was epic, it was amazing. Ironman teaches you a lot about yourself. It reveals every weakness that you have. You cannot fake it or do anything wrong because it WILL show up at some point. Be it on the bike or on the run you WILL want to quit. It was probably one of the coolest things I've ever done. Only 10 months until my next one! Ironman Louisville 2010 is going to be epic.

I'm really glad I got my first go at this distance in a non IM branded event. I'm not familiar with how much that marathon really does hurt. I know what I need to do to get better. I've got great training partners to help make me faster (and hopefully I make them a little bit faster too...). Nothing but positive things to look forward to in the triathlon crystal ball.

Huge thanks to Ashley, Lori and Jason for being out there on race day and to Lori and Ashley for providing a place to stay. Props to Behme for making me better by giving me a training plan and holding me at least semi accountable. Thanks to Watkins for being out there and wearing really, really short running shorts while he was biking. That made me want to get away from you by running faster. Thanks to all the people I've trained with and gotten to know in this first year of triathlons; it's only going to get better from here!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

B2B Brief Summary

I didn't wear a watch and the results page is only showing splits for my T2 and run so the only times I don't know are swim and T1.

Swim: 50ish minutes
T1: 4ish minutes
Bike: 5:00:xx
T2: 4:56
Run: 4:11:xx

Swim was unbelievably fast. That swim might equate to a 1.8-2.0 mile swim tops due to the current. I'm not complaining. Unfortunately I've set an Iron-distance PR for the swim that I'll probably only ever top if I do this race again! I felt like I expended no energy on the swim and my arms were not sore at all upon exiting the water onto the docks.

T1 was uneventful albeit with a long run to the tent.

Bike was super fast through 80 miles (my 56 mile split was ~2:25) then we turned right onto Hwy 421 into a headwind for the duration of the ride. During that time I slowed down nutrition intake (bad news for the rest of the day).

T2 was uneventful. Came into the tent with Peter Kotland and we discussed how terrible the last 40 miles had been!

Run was everything a 4+ hour marathon can be: lots of walking, lots of mental and physical suffering, a lot of wanting to stop and mail it in, a lot of hoping for it to be over soon...

I'll do a more detailed race report later but suffice it to say that it was a spectacular experience. I can't wait to do it again!! Ironman Louisville 2010 here I come!

Friday, November 6, 2009

It is time...

So the day of reckoning has finally come (or at least it is super super close!). I feel very ready from a mental standpoint but I'm not sure about my physical readiness. Of course it seems almost impossible to feel totally ready for a race like this from a physical perspective but still, I could probably have trained more. Unfortunately my problems were injury related and not simply due to apathy.

All in all, I'm super jacked up about this race. I'm going on all cylinders right now and am SO ready to get to this start line and jump in the water (if only because the water will be 20+ degrees warmer than the air!!) and get this race underway!

These past 3 days have been awesome what with the Yankees winning their 27th world series, me signing up for Ironman Louisville 2010 and B2B tomorrow a guy couldn't help but be in an amazing mood!

Monday, November 2, 2009

6 days and counting...

So it is now down to the wire. After a second week of going easily I have officially entered race week. I'm as excited as a kid on christmas eve who is waiting on a red Ryder air rifle under the tree (or behind the desk...). That's really putting it mildly actually. There's no good way to describe how this feels other than to say that it is definitely somehing you hav to expeience for yourself. Everytime I think about something relate to the race I get all jacked up and my heart rate starts to get a little jumpy. I kid you not.

At this point I'm no even thinking about times. All I can think about is getting to the start line on the beach and running into the 60 degree water (ok not super excited about that brrr) and just going to town (literally).

Right now the plan is to drive there on Thursday, relax and get stuff checked in on Friday and then go for a nice little swim/bike/run at the beach on Saturday. Should be a nice little Saturday.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goal Setting

Today I was asked about my time goals for Beach to Battleship. I felt pretentious and overly ambitious when I stated my perfect condition race time, especially considering this will be the first time I will try and cover 140.6 miles. I think sometimes it's easy to get lost in times and figuring out where you can make up time and where you might lose it...especially when you're thinking to yourself and wishing and having pipe dreams!

That being said, I think it's really important to have goals in life. Sure, my goals may make me sound cocky and/or overly confident but if you don't set high standards for yourself how will you ever get motivated enough to do better?? I remember when I was gearing up for New Orleans 70.3 I thought I was capable of running a 1:25 half marathon after a 2:30 bike and a :35 swim. NOT! I struggled to the line with a 1:37! That taught me that you can't do stuff in races that you've never done in training. I never put in the work to be able to run a 1:25 half marathon. That's a longgg way to be holding fast miles that I've never even come close to in training. I realized that I had to work HARD to be able to run as fast as I wanted to in a half ironman. Unfortunately for me, I didn't have enough time before the next one to put in the work and consequently went the same pace in my second effort at the distance!

So, just to hold myself accountable my goals for Beach to Battleship (on a perfect day where everything goes right including my nutrition, my pacing, and most importantly I don't fall apart on the run due to all the factors that can contribute to that happening...)

Swim 2.4 miles in :53-:55 (tide-aided!)
Bike 112 miles in 4:58-5:05 (this may very well be a bad idea but why not try for it?)
Run 26.2 miles in 3:25-3:35 (this one's the big question mark. No idea what to expect!)

To elaborate, my main goal for this race is simply to FINISH. That is my main objective on November 7th: to cross the finish line intact and mostly healthy. Having said that, if conditions are perfect and nothing goes wrong mechanically or physically I'd LOVE to see those times. That may be asking too much from myself and I may very well not come anywhere close to those splits but if I don't then I'm not ashamed. I know that I'm not trying to come off as overly confident but if you don't set high standards for yourself, who will?


It's taper time... The hard work is done and now it's just about making sure I'm peaked for the race.

Swim and bike have been strong but running has been almost nonexistent since my IT problems started. I've been doing everything I can to keep it in check but to a certain extent there's just not much I can do about it.

This week I've just got to start making sure that I have everything I need for the race itself. Wetsuit, clothes for all conditions, wheels, nutritionn, bike check-up, race shoes, etc etc. Should start to get pretty exciting!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Almost there...

Swim: 11,000 yards
Bike: 197 miles
Run: 16.5 miles

This week was the first running since last Tuesday. My IT band is not tight but my calves and knee are quite tight. I had a ~4 mile run on Thursday and a 10 miler on Sunday.

Got in a lot of good swimming again this week. Even without true workouts in the pool I'm getting a lot stronger. My pull is super powerful right now and that will prove valuable ... Someday.

Lots of biking but it was all crammed inti 3 days: Friday 40, saturday 100 with Behme and a Sunday 56 miler in the NC mountains (again with Behme). We had intended to do 100 but the weather was uncooperativeve.

Next week is my last big week woo hoo

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ouch ouch my leg

So my running definitely took a hit this week after my long run on Tuesday that ended so dramatically (the recovery from said long run actually).

Sometimes it's hard to explain how it feels to not believe that your body is at 100%. Right now I can't even imagine what it feels like to run pain free. That's about as exciting as a new pair of pants. For some reason running is my favorite thing to be good at (that's of course assuming that I AM actually good at it... Big assumption) so it kind of sucks to no longer be able to do it as regularly as I want to... Oh well. This week I'm going to try out some short easy runs just to see if I can back into some kind of a groove.

Biking has been going awesomely. That's been a trend through this training block and that actually IS exciting. I've been able to string together good long rides. I'm hoping that this trend continues because B2B is a race where the bike course can be taken advantage of big time.

Swimming has been good no doubt about that. Too bad B2B is a race where the swim is the LEAST portabt part of the race. Oh well, it is what it is.

This weekend I'll get in two 100+ mile rides on Saturday and Sunday and that will mark my last BIG weekend on the bike.

I'm hesitant to be too excited about this race be ause of my leg issues but I feel like I can tear this bike course apart. Time will tell

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Big week yo

So this week marked this first of 4 big weeks in my main block of training leading up to B2B... I set career highs in hours spent training (in a week) and long ride distance/time.

S: 13,050
B: 208.6
R: 37

19.7 hours

This week my IT band has really been bothering me so to accommodate that issue I substituted a swim for every other run, thereby reducing my volume running (while still hitting my key session) and hopefully making the IT more manageable. I also got my first massage ever on Saturday, which was awesome albeit a little bit of a weird experience (not used to cute girls asking me to take my shorts off - surprising I know!) and that will also (hopefully) keep my IT issues manageable.

So my swim volume was a lot higher this week and I felt GREAT in the pool all week...I'm not sure if those two go hand in hand but if I respond well to higher volume then bring it on! I've also pretty much started doing flip turns exclusively, which may not sound like a big deal but it makes me look WAYYY more pro in the pool which is a big part of being fast. If you look fast, you are fast, period.

Running was obviously hit and miss. I got in my long run on Tuesday of 18 miles and that's all that really matters, simply put. Now I've just got to make it through the next three long runs (20, 22, and 24) and I'll be ready to race (or jog slowly) the marathon portion of B2B.

My cycling fitness has also felt spectacular for the past 2 weeks; ever since my 102 miler I've been on a big wave of feel-goodness on the bike. The long ride (121 miles) on Sunday was no exception. I felt strong and steady throughout and even though I was definitely tired and ready to be done around the 5 hour mark I knew that I had to git'r'done and finish strong. So I'm excited and hopeful that trend continues.

Next week will see a couple of tests: the 20 mile long run on Tuesday (which I plan on doing at Mcalpine), the last Lowe's TT on Wednesday night (where I hope to break my own age group record and mayyybe go under 21 minutes but that's a stretch) and the 120 mile ride on Sunday (I'm scheduled for 120 but I wouldn't mind getting in 130...that will depend on a number of things, the least of which is how much of a bada** I feel like on Sunday).

I'm starting to get a little excited... 1/4 big weeks finished!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rest Week!

After feeling great following last week's workouts the timing was perfect for this rest week to recharge and make sure I'm feeling top notch before the next 4 weeks (which will be the hardest 4 weeks I've ever done!).

S: 4550
B: 130
R: 26.5

Technically I missed all of my weekly targets swimming (6000), biking (140), and running (29) but in all three cases it wasn't because I was tired it was because something else got in the way. I actually felt GREAT on my long ride on Sunday (70 miles with a good bit of very intense sections) that was part of a group ride out of south Charlotte with a bunch of roadies.

On the other side of things I've been dealing with some minor arch pain (plantar precursors) that seems manageable and doesn't affect my running; I have also felt some IT band pain similar to what I went through last year. At least, as far as the IT pain goes, I know what I'm dealing with and how to keep it mostly under control.

The next week sees an 18 mile long run on Tuesday and a 120 mile ride on Sunday (almost certainly by myself as almost every one I know will be down in Augusta, GA for the 70.3). Woo. Hoo.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Feeling Good...

After yesterday's long ride I was left to ponder on why I felt so freaking's so rare to feel great throughout a 5+ hour ride. There are normally a lot of peaks and valleys that your body goes through during such a long effort (especially when you're solo, which almost all of my riding has been lately). I never felt bad the whole ride; not a single time was I left wondering why I put myself through such things (about as rare as me eating a vegetable).

I really like the fact that I feel super ready for heavy duty volume but I now have a rest week; I think that's perfect. The next month is really going to wear on me so it's good to have a small peak, then detrain a bit, and then have your main peak when you're ready for the race. I'm going to be in really, really good shape if everything keeps going well. Big "if" for sure but I don't think it will be a mental breakdown that hurts me (one of the benefits of doing a lot of solo workouts is getting used to only being able to hold yourself accountable; that is if I start slowing down I have to make myself speed back up and get back to it...).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another long absence

Just because I haven't been blogging doesn't mean I haven't been training, no sir. I'm now 3 weeks into my training for Beach 2 Battleship iron-distance triathlon, which is both encouraging and discouraging at the same time seeing as I still have a long ways to go...

So far, my weeks have gone like this

S: 1500m (ouch)
B: 163mi
R: 28mi

I was in Louisville from Friday-Sunday so that restricted the training a little bit but it was AMAZING to spectate my first Ironman event. It was awesome to see everyone have such good races (Scott with a 9:55 first Ironman - crazy, Behme with a 10:08 that included a 15-18 minute flat tire mishap and Brad with a 10:3x PR)

S: 4500
R: 32

This week was another one for lackluster swimming yardage but I had good rides and hit every other target workouts; the main one being a 90 mile ride on Sunday (although I didn't feel amazing at the end of this ride; bonked a little bit sadly)

S: 7050
B: 164
R: 41

Missed one ride this week (40 miler) due to weather and wanting to make sure I was fully rested after feeling a bit beat up at the beginning of the week but other than that everything went really well including the 15 mile run on Tuesday and the 102 mile ride on Sunday (which felt spectacular actually)

I have a rest week coming up next and then I start hitting some really, really key workouts over the next month so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

Also started working at Bicycle Sport full time (40 hrs/week) which has been mostly a good time. Sales isn't really my strong suit but that just means I can only get better, right? I don't make a lot of money but I'm pretty content right now in terms of the current state of things so that's nothing to complain about (although more money would certainly be nice).

Also, I'm really hankering for one of these:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One phase ends, another begins

Long time since posting so this one will have to be a short summary.

In the 2 weeks since my last post I've kept my volume and intensity super low. I only realized how big of a hold I had dug myself into when I did the Bandits Int'l distance triathlon 2 Saturdays ago. I just had zero desire to push myself (let alone the ability...) so I decided to take it super easy before my Beaches training plan started (this week).

The plan calls for 3 volume build weeks, a rest week, then 2 more volume build weeks (5 total) before 2 peak build weeks and then the taper. The toughest time is going to be in late September and early October when for 4 consecutive weeks my long run/ride (for that week) goes something like this: 18 miles/120 miles, 20 miles/120 miles, 22 miles/130 miles, 24 miles/100 miles.

I look forward to October 19th when all the major work is done and I (hopefully) feel like I'm in peak Ironman shape.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tired Legs plus a new goal

Swim: 11,350
Bike: 100
Run: 41

Well this week continued another positive week for running and swimming but another mildly depressing streak of biking. I got in 100ish miles this week in two rides but I just don't feel like I have the same power I did a month ago. I'm thinking that it may be time for a week or two of just active recovery to get my legs back underneath me before I start ramping it up for my big fall/winter race (that I just signed up for on Monday...).

Got in some great swim workouts, which is always a good thing since that's my main weakness. I've been gradually dropping the times I do my intervals on - for example, If I do 15 x 100 yards I leave for each 100 on 1:40 intervals (so I leave at :00, :40, :20, :00 etc going by the pool lap timer) - which just shortens the amount of recovery I get and thereby makes me faster (hopefully). I don't feel like I've gotten faster per se but I can hold faster times for longer and longer efforts. I still can't go under 30 seconds for a 50yarder and I doubt I can go much under 1:15 on a 100 but I can hold under 1:25/100 yd pace for over 1000 yards. Strange.

The running this week (no workouts) culminated in a 22 mile run up in Davidson on Sunday. Much, MUCH hotter this week so that made the run feel much more difficult than the 21 miler felt last week. I definitely feel like I'm improving my endurance and building a solid run/long run base for November...

Speaking of November, on Monday I decided to register for Beach 2 Battleship Ironman Distance Tri (not technically an "Ironman" but for all intents and purposes it's the same thing) on November 7 (2009!) in Wilmington, NC. The expense was justified as I just won't do the two races I was thinking about doing in late September/early October and I just really wanted to do it. At a certain point you have to stop over analyzing and worrying and just get over yourself. A training partner said it best in an email when I was asking him what the course was like (he completed the race last year - and came in 5th overall) by saying "Don't chew on it too much. Clearly you want to do it, so do it. You can handle the distance no problem." That pretty much said it in a nutshell for me. So I bit the bullet and registered. It will be tough to stay movitated to keep training and putting in big volume that late in the year but I know another guy doing that race so we'll be able to get in long rides/runs together in preparation for the distance. It'll be fun and challenging. I'll see how far I can push myself...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Running time

Swim: 7650 yds
Bike: 113 mi
Run: 52.4 mi

Well, it looks like I've really started to hit my stride running-wise. I've been feeling better and better on my runs so the increased run volume is starting to see some results. One of my biggest issues with running has always been a lack of run endurance so I started trying to change that when I was in Louisville with an 18 mile long run. This week I even incorporated (albeit unplanned) a 21 mile run and next week I'll have 22. I'm basically training (in terms of my long run, anyway) for a marathon but I'm not going to actually DO a marathon until December (Thunder Road). I'm just trying to log some solid miles so I can get back to being a stronger runner. I want to go under 1:30 in my half-ironman run portion. Preferably well under...

The biking has gone down every week since Louisville and I haven't had a long ride in a good while but that's ok as I think I've been pretty tired after the three tough weeks of biking (culminating in Louisville's suffer fest). Next week I'll pick it up again with a trip to the Georgia mountains (first time in the mountains since January!).

Swimming also took a hit this week but that was mostly accidental. I'll make up for it these next 2 weeks. Not much of a good workout this week unfortunately; no key sessions in the pool...

Monday, July 13, 2009

More of the same

Swim: 9600 yds
Bike: 151 mi
Run: 35 mi

This week didn't have anything too special with the big day being on Sunday with a 51 mile ride and a 10 mile brick run. That run felt pretty awful and I'm not really sure why; although I think it may have to do with not enough water on the bike/not eating enough before and during. I'm going to get a little bit of a rest this week in terms of intensity (hopefully) with the only hard bike day being on Wednesday during another one of the Lowe's Speedway Time Trial series where I will go for the 25-29 Age Group course record (21:48, not that impressive actually). It should definitely be manageable given that last time I rode a 22:15 the day after a very tough bike ride. I might have a run workout later in the week but that will depend on how my legs feel after the bigger run mileage the past 2 weeks.

Monday, July 6, 2009

To Louisville and back

Swim: 8200 yds
Bike: 195 mi
Run: 38 mi

I took the early part of this week pretty easy before heading up to Louisville, KY with Scott, Brad, and John to tour the Ironman Louisville bike and run routes. The race itself takes place on August 30th; thankfully I am not signed up to do it but the three others are getting ready to destroy their bodies in 8 weeks.

I did, however, take part in the last week of the Tuesday night track events put on by Charlotte Track and Triathlon Club. My plan was to race the mile and the 400 just to see where I was compared to last year when I managed a 4:56 mile (I didn't officially race the 400 but I raced in the 800 and just did 1 lap in :58 or :59). Last year I had been doing a lot more speed work and this year I have done almost zero. I just didn't know what to expect but I managed a 4:52 mile and a 55.92 400. Not bad, all things considered. I paced the mile poorly and am fairly confident I could go sub 4:50 with more even lap splits. For the 400 I was just tired from racing the mile and died a little bit in the middle before finishing strong. I was really happy and surprised that I could do these times with no specific focus on them.

We drove up to Louisville on Friday and hopped on our bikes for a 50 mile ride after an 8 hour car ride. It was pretty uneventful but my stomach felt pretty terrible so I couldn't enjoy the ride as much as I would have liked. We woke up Saturday morning for a preview of the entire course (112 miles) and set out in overcast/misty weather that would, by mile 65, turn into full-on rain. The ride was pretty good and I really enjoyed the course. It's rolling but still very fast. Sunday brought with it an 18 mile run doing 1 loop (plus a little extra) of the run course and it was really flat. That could be a fast marathon course; luckily I don't have to do it on race day. I will, hopefully, get to cheer on those guys.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

So about that whole 'moderation' thing

When sunny weather abounds, it's hard not to overshoot your limits.

Swim: 9550 yds (3:11)
Bike: 237 mi (11:46)
Run: 30 (3:45)

Total: 18:43 (career high in hours by a pretty good stretch)

Since last Sunday, I've actually biked over 300 miles. My legs were certainly tired after today's 104 miler but I don't feel as though I killed myself getting to that number.

Over the last 10 weeks, I have averaged (per week) a little over 7000 yards in the pool (including 2 weeks where I was out of town and could not swim at all :( so that's pretty good), 128 miles on the bike (includes 3 weeks of sub 100 miles), and 23 miles running (includes injury time off sadly). Not a bad string of 10 weeks, but the next 10 are going to be much, much better.

Next week should be another big week on the bike with another 100+ miler hopefully coming up on Saturday in Louisville. I'll also continue to build the run mileage to around 35 with a long run of between 13-15. Swimming should pretty much stay the same although it will be hard if I'm out of town Fri-Sun with no pool access to get in 8-10000 yards. We shall see.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stress and Training, one and the same?

So the past week saw me in Cedar Rapids, IA participating in the AmeriCorps build-a-thon that happens yearly and brings together Habitat AmeriCorps from around the country to help a community rebuild. Last year heavy flooding devastated Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities and we got to play a small part in helping the recovery efforts.

That being said, it really sucked for my training. No biking and no swimming for a week is not good for my body; it needs it and craves it. It at least gives me an excuse for shaving my legs. I did, however, get to run so that was a nice thing since the past 2 weeks have seen zero running on my legs. Once I got back on Saturday I also biked and swam a little bit then on Sunday got in a nice long ride in the heat (90 degrees, windy, and sunburnt) followed by an abysmal run off the bike (it had been 3+ weeks since I bricked off the bike, ouch) and after some recovery a nice swim in the outdoor pool at the Y.

For the next couple of months I'm going to try and string together as many weeks as possible of consistent swimming, biking and running. My preliminary goals are 8000+ yards in the pool (my biggest limiter right now probably), 150+ miles on the bike (I'm happy maintaining the fitness I have while slowly improving it; I don't need 200+ miles a week right now I don't think), and 30+ running (preferably more but I have to easy into it...). Hopefully that will lead into a very solid showing at the South Carolina Half in October where I'd really like to go under 4:30. Well, I'd really like to actually "race" it but I won't come out of the water with any of the faster guys and I'll only make up ground on a couple of them with my bike but I'm hoping that with an increased focus on running I'll be able to post a solid time in that respect.

My stress is mainly related to the prospect of the job search. In a little over a month's time I will no longer be serving with Habitat for Humanity and finding the next step is a very daunting process. It stresses me out to no end, which affects both my training and my relationships, so having something ahead of me (i.e. knowing the next step) would be an amazing boost to my spirits. While I'd really love to stay in Charlotte I'd move if the right opportunity presented itself. Hopefully, one day, that stressor will be resolved.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Long time no see

Well, it's been a while since I put up a post, so here goes.

The notable things that have happened to me in the past 3 weeks are a (nother) severely sprained ankle and my first DNF in a race since freshman year of College. The ankle necessitated the DNF.

I also had my first time trial in several years last Wednesday at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. A local production group puts on a series of 10 mile TTs there over the course of the summer and it's a fun way to get a workout/race in while seeing some cool stuff. You park, quite literally, next to the garages where the Nascar teams do all their prep work and stuff for the cars; there were even some cars parked in the garage. You actually race ON the track; admittedly it's on the inner, level portion as oppoesed to the outer banked portion (that is ridiculously steep!). This was the second TT of the series and I plan on doing the rest of them because it's cheap, fun, and a solid way to test your fitness gains over time. I did my race (10 miles, 7 laps) in 22:15, which is a 26.97 mph average. I won my age group but that doesn't count for much because anyone who is a serious cyclist is going to be 'categoried' and I don't plan on renewing my USCF license anytime soon since I only have a tri bike and not a road bike (one that works, anyway). I can improve on that time a great deal since the day before I had a hard 60 mile ride and I also rode an easy (but still taxing) 40 miles the Monday beforehand so I know with fresh legs I can venture into the 21:xx range.

I also sprained my ankle while walking on a hiking trail during our annual AmeriCorps retreat last Sunday. Unfortunately I think my ankle was still weak after spraining it in early March so it wasn't ready for that kind of rolling action (I took a slight misstep and boom, dead ankle). I plan on taking a solid 2 weeks off from running (1 week already in the bank) and when I start running again to incorporate more strengthening exercises (to improve my balance/stability all over, not just in my ankles) because I think that will help with injury prevention in the future.

I had been signed up for the Festival of Flowers triathlon (1.5k, 24mi, 10k) for a long time and even though I didn't think I was going to be able to do the run portion of the race I still wanted to go down and see my grandmother and get in good efforts on the swim and bike (and get my race t shirt, duh). The swim was ok; my time is listed as 27:41 but I think it should be 23:41 as my wave started 4 minutes after the first and the digital clock always shows total race time...but who knows, I could have just had a bad swim. I'm definitely capable of ~24-25 minute swims in international distance. The bike was a good course, rolling but fast and I managed just over a :59. My legs didn't feel great though so I know that I've still got work to do on the bike if I want to continue to improve. I didn't even really try to run. I put on my shoes in transition and jogged 10 yards and said 'no thanks.'

My tentative plan for the coming months is to race Assault on Cherokee in late August (int'l distance) and forego Age Group Triathlon Nationals (too expensive and too far away for something I'm not going to place in...) then do South Carolina Half in early October. I'm also contemplating running (not racing) the Thunder Road Marathon in early December, just so I can say I've run a marathon. I'll have to see about that one though...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Puke and Rally

So luckily I didn't have to puke (and consequently rally) after last weekend but I feel as though the expression is appropriate to the event. Peaking to vomit status (racing) then recovering (rally) is a tough thing to do; this week being no exception. My recovery followed a similar patter to my post-race week in New Orleans. I felt pretty tight for 2 days, then 3 days out I felt exponentially better and on the 4th day I was ready to get back into it again. I still feel a little fatigue in my legs (specifically my quads) but I attribute that to a much tougher bike ride this time. I was disappointed with the amount I biked and swam this week, but fortunately that's merely due to timing issues as opposed to inability or the lack of desire.

Swim: 6850 yds
Bike: 125 miles
Run: 29 miles

I'm going to start increasing my running to try and stay consistently in the 30-35 miles a week range as a 1:37 half marathon isn't going to cut it from now on; I can do better than that. I'm hoping I can manage to keep everything else the same (150-175 miles on the bike, 7-8000 yds+ in the pool) and increase the running (it's only an extra hour to hour and a half per week, which sounds manageable) to eventually drop my times in the 1:2x range in a half.

I also just signed up for the second Lowe's Speedway TT series events (10 miles time trial) up in Concord on June 3. That will be both a good workout and a good gauge to see how I stack up against some other people. Plus it will be fun, which is the most important thing of all, right?

Monday, May 11, 2009

White Lake II Half-Ironman Race Report

The important things to note in the week leading up to this race were:

- I felt MUCH more mentally prepared than before New Orleans 70.3. I think that just knowing I was capable of completing the race really helped me a lot.
- On Wednesday and Thursday we had to do some stuff at work that I think actually affected my race - especially the swim - and that was something that made me a little anxious leading up to Saturday. All afternoon Wednesday and Thursday I had to haul 30-40 pound buckets of dirt (literally hundreds of them) to level the ground underneath a crawlspace and that task left my shoulders/neck/arms extremely fatigued and sore.
- It's become increasingly clear that the wetsuit I have is just a little too small. I think if I were a little shorter it would fit me fine but alas, I am not. I haven't felt good in a swim that I've used it for (only 3 as of now but the feeling is telling) and that also made me a little apprehensive given the likelihood that the swim would be wetsuit legal.
- The past 2 weeks have seen a very reduced volume in my bike mileage and an increase in my swim yardage. The week of Lake Murray I only biked 80 miles (with the only really hard effort being the race itself) and the week of White Lake I totaled 144 but the bulk of that was on Saturday and there were NO hard efforts that entire week. This left my legs feeling very fresh, something that I think was lacking before New Orleans.
- I was much more hurried before this race as it was on Saturday and I had to work on Friday. I don't think that mattered at all, but it was something that was a little different than New Orleans where I had a ton of time to prepare for the race.

Swim 1.2 miles. Bike 56 miles. Run 13.1 miles. Sounds hard.

4:33:58, 6th overall

Swim (31:59, 40th)

I barely got my wetsuit on before I had to jump in the water and make my way towards the swim start. The lake itself was totally flat and the conditions were great (minus the fact that the water was 77 degrees; that's a little hot for a full-sleeved wetsuit...) and I was pumped to start another race. I made it to the pack of 'open' racers as the director was counting down from 15, so that wasn't really ideal. I didn't have any time to warm up, although I wasn't as concerned with this as I was at Lake Murray because the race is so long you have time to warm up during the swim itself. The whistle blew (or whatever it was) and I dove into a long day. I felt pretty good at the start, there was no contact but there was definitely a 'group' for the first 100-200 meters. On the way to the first turn buoy I was right in the middle of what I felt was a group (although I am still awful at sighting so I'm not really sure what it looked like...) but I started to feel really tired and short of breath. My arms and shoulders ached and I felt as though I was constantly having to breathe. In New Orleans I settled almost instantly into a pace and was completely comfortable the entire way, but that was definitely not the case at White Lake. I think the chest of the full-sleeved wetsuit I was wearing is tight and that made me feel restricted (mentally or physically, who knows) and I could never get into a rhythm. I started to fall off the pace just after the first turn buoy. I did some breaststroke as I made my way around the buoy and saw the endless line of sight buoys ahead of me leading to the next turn and I mentally crumbled. At that point I really wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to finish the race. I started swimming again and got into a decent rhythm but a little after that I started getting short of breath again and my shoulders continued to ache. I fell off the group I was with and just continued to struggle through the swim until I realized I was TOTALLY by myself (at least in my quick glances it appeared as though no one was immediately around me) - a fact that would later prove to be untrue - but it definitely made me feel much more desperate. I also began to feel extremely warm at this point, something that unfortunately lasted through the rest of the swim (and race for that matter). At the last turn buoy I expected it to be a 90 degree turn (I'm not sure why, given the fact that I knew what the course was like) but it was more like a 150 degree turn so I started off going in the wrong direction but soon realized my mistake and headed in the general direction of the dock that marked the swim finish. I was zig-zagging all over the place throughout the home stretch. The sun was right in my eyes every time I breathed to the right, which was super annoying. I started getting pretty close to the dock and was really angry because in the second half of the swim I had managed to convince myself that EVERYONE was in front of me (at least, the people that were part of our group from Charlotte...) and that the swim was only the beginning of a long walk of shame. I got to the ladder to climb onto the dock and my time was around 31:00 or so, which didn't make sense because I felt like it was SO slow and I walked for a little while down the dock towards T1 before snapping out of it and jogged the rest of the way while starting the process of removing my wetsuit. I came across the mat that marked the end of the swim right at 32:00 so it wasn't an awful swim, but I KNOW that I can do better than that.

Transition 1 (2:27):

I kept jogging through transition - all 'open' athletes had the first rack, which meant that we were furthest from the swim finish/run start but closest to the bike start/bike finish - and got my wetsuit off down to my waist and got to my spot and took the rest off while also taking off my swim cap/goggles. I saw Carrie at her bike was and realized that I wasn't all by myself during the swim (but I had no idea what kind of swimmer Carrie was so I didn't know whether it was or was not a good thing...). I put on my shoes and stuffed my gels/salts into my pockets and grabbed my bike before heading to the bike start right behind Carrie. I also saw John coming in to his bike as we were leaving. A long transition, but it was mostly because of the long run to get to it...

Bike (2:20:35, 5th):
I passed Carrie right out of transition and pretty much settled into the ride immediately. I had forgotten to put Chamois Butter on before so I was a little worried about how that would affect me (it was noticeable later on, but not all that bad...) and I was really thirsty so I had almost an entire bottle of water in the first 20-30 minutes. My computer wasn't working so I had no idea how fast I was going but my HR was pretty high and I was just counting on the fact that it would eventually settle down to a more reasonable bpm later in the ride. About 15 minutes into the ride John caught up to me and suggested that we work together, meaning that we rotate positions throughout the ride.

Now, the rules obviously and with good reason forbid drafting (and there are a number of penalties associated with the practice besides the obvious one of 'drafting') as Triathlon is a test of individual fitness. That does not mean, however, that athletes cannot 'work together' as both a motivational and physical tool to go faster. So what that boils down to is that John and I rotated positions throughout the bike; so we would maintain proper distance behind each other then pass, repetitively. It's said that the benefit of this (beyond the mental aspect of having someone around and providing incentive) can be 1.5 mph. Of course, you also induce the ire of everyone that sees you because, on the off-chance that they see you as you're making a passing move it could be (improperly) assumed that you are drafting, which is both illegal and not cool. So I'm basically going to get endless crap about this bike split as everyone will say that I drafted, which I did not. Anyways...

I took my first salt tab around 30-45 minutes into the ride but in the process of extricating it from the tube it was in I spilled about half of the pills, meaning I only had 6 or so for the rest of the day. I wasn't sure how much salt was in the e-gels I had brought with me and I knew it was going to be really hot by the time the run started so I was a little nervous about that. At about mile 10 we started catching people and that continued for the next 30 miles. I saw Scott around mile 20 and was pretty surprised as - since I had decided during the swim that everyone was ahead of me - I didn't think Chris would be ahead of him given that Scott is such a good swimmer. I assumed that Scott would jump on to pace with John and I but he did not so I assumed that we were either a) going really fast or b) he wasn't feeling that great. We got to the 25 mile marker in JUST over an hour so we were flying through the first half of the bike course. I don't remember when but we passed the female in first (Nicole something) and I remarked on the fact that she was both attractive and not likely to finish in first as Colleen and Carrie were both gunning for her. The halfway point was reached in 1:10 and change so I realized that I was on the way to a great bike split, which was a HUGE relief because I definitely felt as though I was working hard and I wanted to be rewarded with a good time. My average heart rate started settling in at about 157 or so by this point so I know that the work I've been putting in is starting to show a little bit. That was the same average(ish) that I had during New Orleans but the bike was slower and I felt way worse. We got to the little out and back spur and saw Kevin in the lead as we turned on to the out and back, so that was cool, although a little depressing because I figured if I could see him the out and back spur must be really long... This was the one chance to see who all was in front (and behind) so it was cool to see the guys that could put down monster bike splits (and/or swim splits) all pushing really hard. We saw Kevin, Alex Mcdonald (top Kona age-grouper and member of Team Timex) then Cid Cardoso Jr (masters racer who can drop some sick times), a guy I didn't know but who had a sweet bike and ended up coming in third (22 years old, not bad), then Ashley Ackerman, then one or two other guys that I didn't recognize and that was it. We'd ridden ourselves to what was basically the front of the race at that point, which was awesome. On the way back I saw Steve, Scott, Chris and Murph all on the 'out' spur of the outback. I was impressed that Ryan was up there since his wave started behind ours; just showing that being a good swimmer matters a lot more than most people think. The last 15ish miles were probably the most boring of the whole race as the terrain was flat and endless. I felt a sudden onset of right hip-flexor cramps with about 8-10 miles to go so I popped my second to last salt pill and pounded an e-gel and stood up a little bit more to try and work it out and all of that seemed to make it go away over the course of a mile or so. Got back into town and I could see the turn into transition and I took off my shoes and dismounted. I knew that I was somewhere around 2:20 based on my watch but I was apprehensive because of how it might affect the run.

Trantition 2 (1:24):

I couldn't really tell how hot it was on the bike; I knew that the forecast had called for ~92 degrees that day but when you're biking the wind makes the actual temperature a bit deceptive. I could tell I was sweating a decent amount because everytime I looked down it rained from my helmet and chin but beyond that I had no real knowledge of the temperature. In T2, I knew. It was HOT. I put my bike back on the rack, put on my socks, running shoes and visor then grabbed a last drink of water from my bottle before heading out towards the run start right behind Behme.

Run (1:37:36, 6th):
The first 200 yards of the run were shaded as we made our way back around transition then out towards the road before turning right and heading out on what was a long out and back (run almost all the way around the lake then run back). We turned right onto the highway and I remarked to John that it was going to be a hot one today and I was not wrong. I started pulling away slowly and went through the first mile in 6:30something and ran through the aid station while grabbing some water and settled in for the long haul. The next mile was a little slower as my HR went up and I consequently brought the pace down, but I could see several guys up ahead of me so I just kept at my pace, knowing that I would catch them eventually. In the next 2 miles I caught two guys and was catching a third when I just had to stop at the aid station at the mile 4 marker to hit the porto-john for a pee break. It felt AMAZING. You never really realize how bad you actually have to pee until you get the relief of peeing. I had tried peeing on the bike several times as I definitely needed to but was only able to get partial relief (and that was 2 hours and 50+ ounces of water ago at this point). After the aid station I managed to pass the guy I had been catching and was rolling along pretty nicely but I felt some tightness in the muscle just above your knee (sort of below and besides your quad) and tried striding it out (sort of kicking my knees up a little higher) and my left hamstring locked up INSTANTLY. I had to stop immediately and stand on the side of the road with my left leg stretched out; if I tried moving it the hamstring would just seize up again. Everyone I had passed returned the favor to me as I was standing beside the road. One guy offered me a salt, which was nice but I said no thanks as I had no way of taking it since I didn't have any water (plus I had one of my own). It felt like forever, but in reality was only a couple of minutes, before I started running again. It took a lot of willpower to try running because I was so worried about how my leg would react. I didn't want to stand beside the road in painful misery for a long time waiting for the pain to subside so I just hoped that running would work the cramp out the rest of the way and luckily, it did. I kept on chugging along except that from that point on I walked through every single aid station to make sure that I got enough water (well, you can never really get enough but the point is made) and took gels if I felt as though I needed them. I began catching the guys that had re-passed me and got to the turnaround point and I honestly felt pretty good other than the tightness where I had cramped. I would have thought that the way back would be more interesting than the way out due to the fact that I was going to see everybody in the race but unfortunately I was wrong as it was almost depressing to see the long lines of people stretched out in front of me running the other way. I saw everyone on the way back, literally. There were so many Custom Coach jerseys out there that were easy to spot and we were all doing well (relatively speaking, the heat was killer for everyone out there...). The whole way back was exactly the same as the 'out' portion: no shade, tons of heat, walking through the aid stations and suffering. With 3 miles to go I started to let myself get excited a little bit and with 1 to go I actually picked up the pace (to just over 7 minute miles pace, exciting!) and was extremely relieved to turn left into the park and cross the finish line in 4:33:58, a 15 minute PR.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lake Murray Triathlon

I was pretty excited to do this race as it was a) only my second triathlon, b) guaranteed to be less of a suffer fest than New Orleans because it was 'only' a sprint, and c) racing is just plain fun...

750m swim (in Lake Murray)
16mi bike
5.1mi run

14th overall, 1st in 25-29

Swim: 12:21 (23rd overall, 4th in age group)
The swim felt pretty rough at first. I didn't warm up before the race (smart of me...keep making these rookie mistakes) so the first 100-150m felt pretty awful. I got a claustrophobic feeling which was a little weird. It was a little chilly with a light breeze in the morning and everyone was wearing wetsuits so I decided to go ahead and wear mine. I was in a front pack of ~5 from my wave from the best that I could tell but apparently I didn't even have a top 20 swim time. According to my watch, my swim was 11:58 and my T1 was longer than setup is saying it is. Oh well. Arms were a little tired towards the end. I was surprised that I was this slow given the amount of work I felt I was doing. I'm going to put that on the number of yards I've swam this week and the tough workout Friday.

Transition 1: 1:50
Couldn't get my wetsuit off and my timing chip was falling off so I had to take off the timing chip; struggle to get the wetsuit off; put the timing chip back on and get on my way. I was pretty pissed.

Bike: 40:41 (20th, 1st)
Got going on the bike with a nice flying mount and my legs didn't feel too great. Tight and not really responding well to the work I wanted them to do. I had lost so much time in T1 that I was pushing pretty hard from the get-go to make up time. People in front of me were pretty spread out but there were a couple of groups clumped together. My legs finally started coming around at about mile 10 and I pushed well to the finish. Unstrapped the shoes 200 yds before T2 and made my way back into transition. Went through maybe half a bottle of water on the bike, but it wasn't hot yet.

T2: 1:04
I have my T2 at :40 so I guess something was wrong somewhere. Not sure how it can be inaccurate with the chips but oh well. Threw on my shoes (no socks) - I was going with the Piranhas today, it's been about a year since I've worn those - and got underway.

Run: 17:19 (3rd, 1st)
Had a really fast transition (at least compared to my first one) and got going on the run feeling pretty good. My stride was nice and loose and my breathing was totally under control. I found a rhythm almost immediately and started picking off people in front of me and went through the mile at 5:30. Kept going and grabbed some water at the first aid station then hit the first turnaround. My legs felt great on the flats and downhills but fairly useless on the uphills; I tried to counteract this with shorter strides and that seemed to help a bit (more hill repeats?). My right calf started getting a little tight and I went through mile 2 in 11:45 (I think mile 1 was short). I finished pretty strong and felt like I had a good amount left in the tank as far as the run went. My legs definitely felt good today; I was pleased with that. According to my watch, my run time was 17:38; sadly I don't think I PR'd in the 5k today but I still felt strong.

All in all I'm pretty pleased with this race. Yes, my bike wasn't that fast considering the amount of work I've been doing but it's all about exercising patience when it comes to getting faster. I'll begin to see the effects of my base training and good work sometime (maybe not soon, but someday it'll happen). Yes, my transitions could have been faster but that comes with inexperience. Like I said before, it was only my second triathlon and placing 14th overall isn't a bad thing.

White Lake Half (Ironman) this Saturday. It's basically the Charlotte Half Championship as virtually every triathlete is doing it, so we'll see how it turns out. All I'm looking for is going under 4:49 and maybe running a little better. Luckily for me, those two things probably go hand in hand...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Duathlon National Champs RR

I took the week leading up to the race pretty easy as I was feeling burnt out from the heavy volume the week before; I wanted to feel pretty fresh for the race on Sunday.

The race itself was a 10k run, 38k bike and 5k run.

10k - 37:07
I did some strides before the 10k and I was worried because I didn't feel that great just in that short bit of effort. It was SO hot out there; while we were standing at the start I was just sweating, it was awful.

The 10k started with a steep downhill and then was rolling the rest of the way with little to no shade. I started realizing that it was going to be a really tough day around mile 2. My HR never dropped below 180 and I was frequently above 190 going at what I felt was not a super hard pace. I was happy to see the end of the run but also nervous because I was worried about how much I had exerted myself in that run; I was hoping I could do 38-39 at LT (around 180 average) and that obviously did not happen. The course was pretty tough; there were some actual climbs but the worst part was the heat. There were stretches where we were just baking.

38k bike - 1:05:12
Started out and felt pretty good on the bike course which is 3 loops (mildly confusing loops with no distance markers but I did ok) and was pretty hilly. There were pretty much zero flat sections. I actually got into my smaller gears in a couple of spots, shameful (but I needed to). I really expected to be MUCH faster than this but I totally underestimated the difficulty of the course. I expected to catch Chris L maybe midway through the second loop but I didn't end up seeing him until the bike dismount, which means he had a really good bike ride. I caught Cody with 3-5 miles to go. I never felt zapped on the ride in terms of my power. I cramped pretty bad 2 or 3 times but that's b/c I made the mistake of only bringing 1 water bottle when I could have easily run through 2 or 3. Each time I cramped (both calves and my right hip flexor) I took some hammer gel and water and I had 2 lava salts on the bike. It really just wasn't enough water.

5k run - 17:39
Whew, this 5k sucked. It was SO hot and I was already dehydrated. My legs didn't want to go fast at all (and they didn't the course was short...). I had goosebumps all over (those actually started midway through the bike) and I felt pretty miserable. Oh well.

Overall time:

65th overall (65th male)
14th AG

Things I learned:
- I can hold a really high HR for long periods of time. (I AVERAGED 183 for 2+ hours)
- My bike LT might be closer to my run LT than I thought
- My max HR is at least 199
- I underfuel consistently
- Never go into a race without desire. I had basically written off this race after the half because I was no longer interested in duathlons and look what it got me. I get the feeling I would have been disappointed in this race no matter what my results were. I had no interest in a Worlds spot.
- Duathlons are MUCH harder than triathlons. Leaps and bounds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bike for sale

Giant Trance 1 18" full suspension mountain bike. I bought this in the winter of 2007 when I thought I wanted to get into mountain biking but unfortunately it has mostly languished other than the occasional (once every 6 months) ride here in Charlotte. It got 90% of its use in Williamsburg on the campus trails and I'd roughly estimate that it has between 20-30 hours on it. It needs a good cleaning and a tune up but other than that it's like new.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lots of racing coming up...

Weekly Summary:
Swim: 3500 yds
Bike: 206 miles
Run: 35.8 miles

Only got in 2 swim workouts this week, but the one on Monday was a real eye-opener. I did my first 1000 yd time trial just to kind of see how I could push myself over a longer distance and I really surprised myself with the results. I did the 1000 in 14:30 with the first 500 in 7:22 and the back half in 7:08; so that's a huge negative split. I know I could have pushed the first 500 a little better and probably come closer to going under 14 minutes but I'll save that for another time. I definitely didn't expect a time quite that fast so that was a real bonus.

A lot of bike miles under the belt this week for sure; that is something I'm really pleased about as I was disappointed with my time at the New Orleans half. I really felt that I could go sub 2:30 in that race and I just...didn't so I'm hoping to continue to improve my biking performance. I got in all my miles in 4 rides which is great because that means my average ride was above 50 miles, something that I always strive to do (I'd much rather have 3 bikes of 50 miles each than 5 of 30 miles...).

I ran a little bit more than I really wanted to this week given that last week's mileage was so low but I think it's ok as 35 miles isn't a tough volume for me to handle. I had 2 good workouts this week, one a stand-alone run of 6 800m repeats and the second a 12 minute tempo off a 75 mile ride. Both of those felt comfortable and manageable.

I also found out this week that I was able to get into the White Lake (NC) Half Ironman on May 9, which is really exciting as a lot of of the people that I train with will also be participating in that race. Luckily for me, non "Ironman" events are significantly less expensive so it doesn't break the bank to race in the setup events series. I'm hoping to "race" this half a little more than New Orleans and once again I have some pretty ambitious time goals. The nice thing about a slower performance is that you can always look to improve upon it, which is exactly what I plan to do in 3 weeks.

This coming weekend I have Duathlon National Championships on Sunday in Richmond, VA (10k run, 38k bike, 5k run); I'd definitely like to go under 2 hours there. The weekend after I have Lake Murray (SC) Triathlon (750m swim, 16mi bike, 5k run), which will basically be a threshold workout (I'm going to try and hold LT the whole race which means about 165-170 bpm on the bike and ~180 bpm on the run). Then the next weekend is White Lake (NC) Half (1.2mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run) where I would just like to go under 4:49. We shall see.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

First week of being a (half) Ironman

So this week has mostly been about making sure I'm recovered (or at least on the road to recovery) after the half last Sunday. Immediately following the race I felt incredibly sore, tight, fatigued (add any number of adjectives synonymous with miserable and you get the idea) and couldn't contemplate swimming, biking, or running again anytime in the near (or distant) future. Luckily for me, however, I started to feel better fairly rapidly. Monday I was still sore, but definitely much less so than the day prior. We did a lot of walking around that day in NOLA and I could feel the shadows of the pain in my legs but it wasn't overwhelming. On Tuesday, the day we drove back up to Charlotte, I still felt a little tight but I was no longer sore. Wearing the compression tights on the drive up - while overly warm (plus the obvious sex appeal) - helped a LOT. On Wednesday I felt totally fine, but just to make sure I only swam that day and went really easy. Thursday and Friday both had a little more intensity and Saturday was a huge test of the legs with a 101 mile bike ride followed by a 5.7 mile run. That definitely trashed my legs although I made sure to eat a lot the rest of the day and I think that helped a lot with my recovery as today I rode again and felt mostly fine (albeit tired). So, a good week and I feel like I'll be very ready to race by the time Du Nationals comes up on the 26th. I'm hoping for a sub hour 40k bike split.

Swim: 4150 yds
Bike: 198.3 miles
Run: 20 miles (I think I really have to start picking up the run volume if I want to be a better long course racer)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ironman New Orleans 70.3

Race Report

This might take a while, but here goes... We left at 8am on Thursday morning for the ~11 hour drive to New Orleans from Charlotte. Having done that drive many times previously, I was worried that it might be very long and very boring but it actually went by pretty quickly. That's probably the product of traveling with 3 people instead of just by myself. Scott and I discussed our plans for the race in pretty great detail, but that's normal considering that we didn't have much of anything else to discuss.

We got to New Orleans around 6pm and went for a run with May who met us at my house. We ran to Audubon park and twice around it to get in a little over 5 easy miles. At the time, my legs felt pretty loose and the 3 strides at the end of the run felt good.

On Friday morning we all went for a swim in the lake right next to the swim start. The waves were intense as the wind was coming from the North so the chop along the seawall - and even further out into the lake - was a bad omen for race day. Scott and I were both pretty nervous about the potential for the same thing happening on Sunday as the RD had said that if the winds were 20+ mph out of the north the swim would be canceled. Neither of us were too keen on the idea of a duathlon. Not one bit. The swim itself was pretty uneventful beyond the huge waves. The water was murky for sure but there was nothing wrong with it. Not cold at all. I went for a short bike ride later on in the day after some touristy stuff to make sure the wheels were working ok. There was definitely a lot of wind when I was up on the levee but the deep front wheel + disc didn't seem to be an issue. The bike was definitely not as stable as with my training wheels but it was nothing that would make riding unsafe (or make me slower).

We all went to the mandatory briefing in the early afternoon where the main point was: don't draft. I heard a lot of people outside after the briefing talking about how it would be 'impossible' not to draft and it struck me as slightly annoying that they would think that. It's not hard to follow the rules. Sometimes it's annoying and/or frustrating but that's just the way it is. Don't draft, pass in 15 seconds, ride on the right. Three things that are easy to accomplish, yet so many had problems with it on Sunday...

I pretty much did nothing all day Saturday. Allison and I threw the frisbee for a little while in the park and my calf felt a little tight as I was running around but I wasn't really worried about it. Bike check-in was no problem and went very smoothly. A lot of people seemed to be bringing all their stuff with them to bike check-in, which I was definitely not doing; all I put in transition that afternoon was my bike. No bottles, no Gu. I tried to get a feel for the way the transition was set-up and that was difficult because of how huge it was. It was going to be a long run from the swim finish and to the run start.

On race morning I woke up at 4:30, ate a bagel with PB and had a glass of milk. I had slept pretty well the night before and didn't feel particularly nervous so I was pleased with that. I met Scott and May at her house at 5:30 and we all left to drive to UNO and the transition area. We got body marked and went to find our spots in transition to get set up. I put my helmet on the aero bars with the sunglasses inside them, my race belt around the aero bars, and all of my bottles on the bike (1 gatorade, 2 water, 1 gu bottle with 2 e-gels + water). I laid out my bike shoes and my run shoes on my towel and put the 4 e-gels and my salts down beside them. I also left a water bottle right beside my mat for a quick drink in case I needed it in transition. I checked my tires and made sure the wheels spun smoothly and that was that. I didn't feel the need to debate too much as I hadn't brought any options along with me, which was a good thing. I put a handful (literally) of chamois butter on and put body glide all over my feet, shoulders, under arms, and neck. I sprayed some sunscreen on my back and hoped it would all be enough.

Once we all finished setting up we began the walk to swim start of 1 mile. They only had 3 shuttle buses for 2500 people, which was ridiculous. It wasn't bad to walk at all it was just kind of silly that the planning was so underwhelming for that particular aspect of the morning. Scott and I both walked barefoot which ended up making my feet a little tender, something I noticed in the latter parts of the run (although that probably had as much to do with my shoes as with this walk...). May stopped to use the porto as her race didn't start until 7:58 so Scott and I grabbed our chips and found a place to put on our wetsuits. I was a little nervous at this point mainly because I hadn't been able to take a morning #2, which DEFINITELY came back to haunt me on the run. We slipped on our wetsuits, liberally applied cooking spray, and then walked over to the start corral.

We were both in the first wave of 25-29, starting at 7:28am. They told us to get in the water and started the countdown. I was using a brand new pair of goggles (blue seventy, awesome), which is on the top ten things of what NOT to do on race day but they ended up working ok. I didn't really feel nervous at all and that was one of the most positive things that I can take away with from this race. I expected a ton of pre-race jitters but they just weren't there. I accepted the fact that I had put in a lot of work and at that point I couldn't do anything else. I was just going to go how fast I was going to go (if that makes any sense...). The director counted down from 30...15...10...5, 4, 2, 1 and then the horn blew and we were off! I started right behind Scott but I knew that he would be going a lot faster than me so I didn't plan on trying to stay with him. I got into a pretty good rhythm almost right away; it wasn't as tumultuous as I had expected, although I did get a hard kick on my left eye that left my goggles slightly awry and - thoguh I didn't know it at the time - a burst capillary in my left eye. Unfortunately, I wasn't really able to get behind anybody throughout the swim. It was so spread out and I'm so bad at swimming in a straight line that I was pretty much pushing my own water that whole time. We came around the pier and headed for the beach and the water was only thigh height for the last 50 yards, which was annoying because it wasn't deep enough to swim but it was too deep to run so I kind of dolphin dived for about 20 yards before making it to a runnable depth. Scott and I had surmised that the swim was long because before our start the announcer said that the pros were about 100 meters past the halfway point in 16 minutes and that would be super slow for them so when I hit the mat and saw my watch at 33:47 I was super pleased. Going 35 was my goal so being able to be more than a minute under that on a long course was pretty sweet.

1.2 mile swim in 33:47 (1:46/100m) putting me in 24th place in AG (on a long course, nice)

It was a little disorienting to start running after swimming for so long and I consequently almost tripped and fell twice on the run in to transition. I got stripped by a volunteer and carried my wetsuit, cap, and goggles for what seriously must have been 200+ yards. It was kind of ridiculous. I put on my bike shoes, sunglasses, and helmet then stuffed my pockets with the gels and salts; grabbed the bike and started running toward the bike start, hopped on the bike and was off.

T1 in 2:49

The bike course started out with a short out and back just to add on some mileage and that particular section of the course was packed with people. Slow people. I pretty much immediately got up to speed and into my aerobars, unlike a lot of them. One guy that I was passing lost control of his bike and veered off to the right to crash into the curb. What an idiot. My HR monitor wasn't working right away due to the large amount of water so I just got going based on my RPE and was averaging around 23-25 mph. After about 15 minutes it started registering and I was sticking around 170 so I kept going at that bpm because I knew that it would start to come down slowly. The first 10 miles or so were flat with the exception of the two bridges we had to cross, but at both of those I just clicked into my small chain ring and sat up because I knew that my back would likely be suffering later so why try and push a big gear in the aerobars when I can go slower and not really lose much time. I kept cruising and passing tons and tons of people, all of whom were in the age group waves that started before mine. I didn't really get out on the bike course around other 25-29ers and I knew Scott was a couple of minutes up the road so I just kept going and waited for my HR to settle. Scott and I had discussed (endlessly) our nutrition beforehand so I went in with the strategy of 2 e-gels per hour (basically 1 every 30 minutes), 1 lava salt every hour, and basically blow through my water and gatorade as fast as I could think. So I pretty much followed that verbatim throughout the ride except for in hindsight I'm almost positive I didn't get enough fluids. Potentially not enough calories either, but I don't know enough about what was going on with my body on the run to get a really good analysis. I was passed by some people and I passed some people and everything was pretty ho-hum through mile 25ish and the 2nd turnaround at the end of the 2nd out and back on the course. At that point, I realized that the second half of the race was going to be MUCH harder than the first. I had seen Scott at each turnaround and that I was probably only about 2 minutes behind him but when I turned at the second and encountered a stiff headwind I realized that I just had to race my own race at that point. I needed to focus on putting whatever power I could down to the wheels and stay aero. For the most part I did that but I started experiencing a good deal of lower back and shoulder pain (aching really...) starting at about mile 40 so I had to stand up and crank out a low gear for a couple of pedal strokes every couple of minutes. I don't think that slowed me down but it wasn't the best feeling dealing with that. Went back over the bridges, back along Haynes boulevard and back on Lakeshore Dr where the UNO campus became visible. With about 1/4 mile to go I unstrapped my shoes and took my left one out and tried to place it on top of the shoe but for whatever reason I couldn't manage (it probably had to do with the hundreds of people lining the road leading up to the dismount line and all that pressure...) so I tried my right and was pulling on it really hard but I just couldn't get it out of the shoe. Finally I had to stop and get off normally but I felt my right hamstring lock up; I thought to myself "Oh crap, is this going to be the end of my race?"

56 mile bike in 2:31:54 (22.12 mph) putting me in 26th place in AG (fast bikers)

I started walking with a very irregular stride - it's difficult when you can't bend your leg to walk - to my rack in transition. It was a long, slow process that involved stretching out the hammy a couple of times but eventually it faded a bit and I was able to walk normally and start putting on my socks, shoes and hat. I grabbed a drink of water and started running to the T2 exit. My hammy started feeling a lot better and when I crossed the mat I felt pretty much back to normal.

T2 in 2:58

The run began with a short bit under some trees until we got back on Lakeshore Dr heading west for an out-back section that was COMPLETELY unshaded. I felt totally fine to begin with and went through the first mile in 6:40, which is about the pace I wanted for the run, and my HR was just hovering around 170, which is the bpm I wanted to hold for the run. I grabbed some water and solidered on down the road, passing people left and right (literally, I passed SO many people in the first 5 miles). I came up on a bunch of other 25-29ers between miles 3 and 4 and still felt pretty good. My splits were slowing down a bit but I was still under 7 min/mile. I grabbed a drink at every aid station and kept my HR at 170, which wasn't difficult to do. At the first turnaround I saw Scott going the other way and he looked pretty good and I still felt pretty good so I was thinking it would be nice to catch him, but I didn't speed up I just thought about how nice it would be... Once we turned off Lakeshore Dr the route was a little more shaded as we went towards City Park but not all that much more so; my miles continued to slow down as I realized that I was probably suffering a slow death and that the next 8 miles were going to be pretty painful and mentally challenging. Running down Wisner was excruciatingly boring as the road was very flat, very straight and very uninteresting. I drove the opposite way down Wisner every single day to get to high school so I knew just how long that road was at 60 mph (speed limit of 45, nice) so I was just thinking to myself how long it would feel a little over 1/10th of that speed (demoralizing). From mile 6 on the thing I wanted most in the world was to just stop running and start walking. It was the most mentally challenging thing I have EVER done...forcing myself to continue and slog through the miles. I kept telling myself how mad I would get if I walked portions of the half marathon and that kept me going when the going got tough. I kept getting at least 2 water cups per aid station and sometimes threw in a gatorade cup as well. Running through City Park was a nice reprieve from the hot sun of Wisner, but not much of one. I was still passing people a good bit but the number of runners had thinned out a good bit so it was getting a little boring. I snagged a powergel at one of the aid stations along with some water but inexplicably didn't take it for at least another mile or so. It really didn't help much. I got out of City park and turned right again on Wisner only to make a quick left onto Esplanade for what would be the most insanely boring and challenging road I have ever run on in my life. It was the last road besides the finish and it was 4 or 5 miles of torture. The only positive thing I can get from it was that it is mostly shaded. It was so hard to be able to see down the entire length of the road and realized that it never f***ing ended. I saw people all the way down the road and I could see the aid stations far ahead of me. I kept running though. The first, and only, girl that passed me all day got by me on Esplanade. I was surprised (and mortified) at first but then I looked down at her calf and saw an R, signifying a relay runner. So that lucky you-know-what only had to run 13.1 miles and that made it completely okay for her to pass me. The story is pretty much the same until the turn on Decatur; at the mile 12 marker I finally told myself that I was going to finish and that I was going to run the whole walking at aid stations, no walking in between aid stations, and no walking anywhere else. I let out a little sigh of relief and that spurred my stride a little bit and the crowds started picking up about 1 or 200 yards from the right turn on Decatur. I turned right and encountered a stiff headwind. Great, I thought. But then I looked up and saw the finish chute and realized it was only a short distance ahead of me. I picked up my stride a little bit more until I was probably running about the same pace I was in mile 1, although it felt much faster. I began to hear the announcer and people around me were clapping and telling me to finish strong. The last 200 yards were amazing and are probably what made me want to sign up for the race again. The crowds were 5 deep on either side and everyone was yelling and cheering. I actually got pretty emotional when I hit the carpet with 50 or so yards to go and I realized how awesome an accomplishment it was for myself to finish the race. I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch, and just stopped.

13.1 mile run in 1:37:34 (7:26/mile avg pace) putting me in 12th place in AG.

I saw Scott ahead of me and went over and we both looked like hell (I'm assuming I looked like hell, although I'm sure it's a safe assumption) and congratulated each other. The race was over.

I really thought I was going to be able to run faster than this, but there were two huge firsts that took place on this day so I'm not really bent out of shape about it. It was my first half-marathon and my first triathlon, so killing both of those birds with one stone was pretty huge for me. In my pipe dream of what this race would have been like I envisioned myself finishing the swim in 35 minutes (I actually accomplished that, yay), biking the course in 2:25 (pretty sure I could have done this with less wind), and running a 1:25-1:30 half marathon. I also, in my head, gave myself 4 minutes for transitions. That would have given me a solid 4:29-4:34 race. In hindsight, that would have been an AMAZING race. I'm not sure how I expected to accomplish that last weekend but still, I had the dream in my head. I think, with better fueling, I could have cut some time off the run, but not 7+ minutes. Of course, it's really all just hypothesizing and dreaming until you go out there and you LAY DOWN a fast time. Gotta walk the walk before you can talk the talk. Or at least, to be able to back up the smack.