Heading into this race I felt pretty good, as I had had some solid long rides, and was looking forward to some great weather in PCB. I also had plenty of friends and family at the race, so that was an added bonus.
Without further ado, lets get to the action. The gun sounded and we were off into the Gulf. There were some swells, which made sighting difficult at times, but nothing too terribly bad. The group seemed to split pretty quickly, and soon I found myself swimming alone. I wasnt too worried, though, because I really dont think there is much of an advantage to drafting in the water with the swells as big as they were anyway. The first lap was fine, and I was pleasantly surprised to see 25:xx when I came out of the water the first time.
A few minutes after 7a, courtesy of Beth N
Across the beach to start lap #2 and all was still well. Coming back on the second lap, though, things got a little dicey, as it was about this time I started swimming through quite a few AGers. The concentration only increased, and pretty soon it was Normandy out there. As I came out of the water, I saw a 53:xx (swim split was 53:30) and feeling great; definitely ready to attack the bike.
Ahh, the bike. I set out with a pretty simple goal: stay consistent, get in the calories, and break 5h. If I did that, I figured the racing would come later. First split was 25:00. (D@mn this QR is fast!) Then, the pack came. All the usual suspects were there in a group of 12-15, but I wasn't worried. I knew there was nothing I could do, and trying to go with them would've only meant trouble later. So, I rode my race. Following splits were 24:35, 25:48, 24:53, 26:11, 26:43, 26:33, 26:10, 24:59, 26:22, and 31:00 (12 miles). Needless to say, they were pretty consistent. I was especially pleased with how strong I felt at the end of the ride. Finally I made it back to T2, and was elated to see 4:4x on my TIMEX for my bike split.
Starting the run, I was 5h50 into the race, which was right on target. I started off with the typical IM shuffle, and soon settled into 6'30" miles, which I felt was pretty conservative. The first 6 miles were 6:36, 6:32, 7:30 (w/ bathroom break), 6:28, 6:37, and 6:31. I certainly wasnt pushing the pace, but rather just going with it. Then, though, things started deteriorating. From there, the splits went 6:58, 6:47, 6:43, 6:55, 7:04, 7:12, 7:25, 7:32, 7:30, 8:08, 7:53, and 8:18.
Mile 6ish, courtesy of Beth B
During this time, my form started falling apart, and it was everything I could do to keep running the pace I was. Then going into the park, there was a little section of plywood which I caught the edge of, tripped, and felt a little something in my Achilles This forced me to stop and walk, and it was a slow walk at that. I tried to run again, but no dice. So, rather than limping another 2h to the finish, I got a ride to the med tent for an IV and some desperately needed calories.
Obviously the whole thing was pretty frustrating. Well, not the whole thing. The swim and bike went well, and I was shuffling along just fine on the run through about 10 miles. But none of that really mattered when I blew up like a CHAMPION. Looking back, I probably should've targeted more calories on the bike and the run. I took all that I had planned, but clearly that just wasn't enough. I also need to practice taking calories on the run more, and getting used to running with a flask. I'm bad at drinking out of cups while running, so I think bringing a little bottle along could go a long way.
I'll do another post to wrap up of the season, but going forward, clearly I'm going to need to do at least one more of these crazy races. I think its safe to say that I've been humbled a bit my the distance, as bonking hard core is not fun. So, if I'm going to want to actually do well, I'm going to have to take more calories throughout the race. If nothing else, my experience last weekend should do a pretty good job scaring me into that!
So yeah... things have been a bit quiet around here. But, thats what happens when your are training for an IM and getting ready for a PDR at the same time.
That's right, another IM; I'm racing IMFL this weekend. But last Saturday was the annual Huntsville World Championships, aka the Spooktacular 5k. I dont get to race too many 5ks, so it was fun to get out there and mix it up.
I ran 16:18 on a cold, windy day for 2nd, and felt pretty good doing it. I certainly wasn't super sharp, but it wasn't too hard of an effort, and I felt OK the next day, so I was perfectly content with how it went. The temperature just took a huge drop here in the 'ville, so I was definitely happy to be out running fast rather than on my bike for 5h.
Speaking of being on the bike for obnoxiously long periods of time, the last 6 weeks or so have consisted of some pretty solid training, so hopefully that will be evident this weekend. Since IMLou I've had 3 rides >5h plus a century plus a 56mi TT that was ~5W higher than I've ever done in a half IM. And of course outside of the century it has been all solo, all the time. So even the relative loneliness that I typically encounter after the first 30mi should feel like a crowded chicken coop.
And as for the run? Well, this is IM, and we all know that just comes down to how well you consume calories and pace on the bike. So, if I do both of those well, I think I'll do just fine. Plus, my running buddy George H is training for the Rocket City Marathon, so he's been more than keeping me honest during the long runs.
It is still September, but I've got my eyes on the Nov 3rd prize. That is still a ways off, so in the meantime I'm just focused on making it through one workout at a time. After a hard week, the weekend was particularly daunting, but thankfully the weather cooperated superbly. It really is so much easier to get out the door for a solo 5h ride when it is 70F and sunny, because you really don't have an excuse not to!
Finally, because no post is complete without a picture, here is the ridiculously huge QR display at Interbike. As you can see, QR chooses to spend money on frame development rather than models:
No, I didnt work out that much last week just for fun.
After the sh*tshow that was IM Louisville, I had a pretty bitter taste in my mouth. And, although I was hating life for the last 4h or so of the race, as soon as I finished I knew I needed another race to get some redemption. Conveniently enough, IM Florida is far enough out to allow me to recover and get a bit more training, but (hopefully) not too far that I'll get burned out. So, its on. PCB here I come!!
In the meantime its back to the grind. I kicked training off this past weekend with the AYCE Century on Saturday followed by another long ride on Sunday. If this trend continues, I look forward to becoming intimately familiar with my with my bike seat over the next 5 or so weeks.
The weekend before last was spent NOT triathloning in College Station, TX, where the Gators dominated the Aggies:
The weekend before that was also spent NOT triathloning in and around Gatlinburg, TN, including the top of Mt. Le Conte:
It was a long day, and I have some time in the plane home (from work, not the race...) so here comes a long report. So what had happened was......
Swim: The morning of the race I felt nervous but relaxed and ready to race. We got in the water, I warmed up the best I could in 5min, and we were off. I was on someone's feet for a couple of minutes, but then was feeling good and moved out, and all of the sudden was out front. I didn't really accelerate or anything, but started pulling away. From there I pretty much just swam the rest of the way at what I thought was a fast but controlled effort. Honestly, I was surprised to be out front, but hey, its a race! It certainly wasnt a goal, but it was definitely cool coming out of the water first! I just swam at what I thought was race pace, and thats what happened. It turns out I had about 40s on the next guy, after swimming 53:12.
Bike: Out on the ride, I quickly settled into a rhythm and started downing the calories. Finally, Evoe, McDonald, and Gerlach caught and passed me around mile 30, and I let them go. I came through 50 in 2:12, which after doing some rough calculations made me think I was on pace for just under 5h, which is right what I was shooting for.
I missed mile 70, but a bit after that another guy passed me but not very fast, so I kept him in sight. Of course at this time the legs were starting to hurt and it was starting to warm up. I don't recall my split at 80mi, but I remember thinking I was still on pace. Soon after that, though, I heard a recurring thump in my rear wheel. I stopped and sure enough, there was a tack. I didnt worry about it because I wasnt far out of 4th and confident I could still catch the guy on the run that had just passed me. It took me about 6min to make the change. I was back on the road, but 5min or so later I could tell I was losing air. So, I stopped and got a CO2 and added some more air. I started back and soon after heard an explosion. My tire had torn and the strands that make up the lip were exposed. I wish I had a pic. So, without an extra tire, I had to wait for neutral support. Who carries an extra clincher tire?? I probably waited 30-35min. I finally got back into it, but the last 20miles were pretty brutal. I finally finished, and knew that although it would suck, I'd have to do the run.
Run: Coming into T2, I still thought I could have a decent run. Why not? When I started running, though, it was a different story, as my stomach was cramping like a champ. It was so tight that I was having a hard time breathing, let alone getting any fluids down. I made it through the first couple miles around 7min pace, but it was a struggle. I kept expecting to feel better, but nothing was happening. So, I started walking through the aid stations hoping I could get some calories and fluid. Nothing seemed to help. I felt like I wanted to vomit, and I dry heaved a couple of times, but nothing came out. Finally with about 4 miles to go I decided I was going run the rest of the way, which I did.
The last two miles were brutal, and I scored a trip to the med tent at the finish after almost falling on my face. I was dehydrated, but also bonking pretty bad, I think. I got a liter of fluid and drank ~8oz of chicken broth out of a straw, and my stomach finally started settling down.
Obviously it was a pretty disappointing day, but that happens. What it means, though, is that I need some redemption! I'm not sure where or when it will come, but I'll figure that out in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, its time for a little vacation weekend hiking with friends in the Smoky Mountains, which will be a nice mental and physical break, and should help me get over the disappointment of last weekend.
Another year, another Mountain Lakes Triathlon. Other than the despicable time trial start, this race has become one of my favorites for a number of reasons. To the bullets!
I get to sleep at home
It comes at a great time of year, as I'm usually pretty fit
Further, August is just an awesome month in general
There are usually plenty of friends there, which makes for a good time post race
It is short... 600m/16.2mi/3mi so it takes just over an hour
The weather has been, surprisingly, pretty good
This year was no different, including the shitty TT start. I was "seeded" 5th, although I have no idea how they come up with these placings. I actually enjoy starting back a bit, but I always think its a little strange when I'm starting 5th after having won the race the last two times I started it. Regardless, Bruce G was first. And, if they were going solely on swim times, that was certainly warranted. He may be old, but the man can swim.
So we went.... after the relays. Nothing like some extra bodies to dodge in the water. After making it around the first turn and past most of the relay swimmers, I tried to find Bruce's yellow cap with the hope of at least having someone to pace off. Coming around the second turn, though, I was suddenly engulfed by a motorboat. A bit shocked, I jumped on the guy's feet and was semi- relieved to see it was Jacob Shults, one of the HS "kids" I used to swim with who now goes to Auburn.
As I got to my bike, Bruce was on his way out, so I knew he didnt have much time on me, which I was happy about. Out on the bike, I passed Jacob within the first mile and had Bruce in my sights. I caught him around mile 3 and went straight by. Apparently not fast enough, though, because to my surprise he came back by me a few miles later. I think he was just trying to be nice. I let him lead for about a minute, then repassed and rode the rest of the way on my own. I kept waiting/expecting someone to come from behind, but it never happened.
Its always good to start the run first but............. you never know when it is a TT start! So I took off running. I didnt feel great, so I just wanted to get to the turnaround and assess the damage. At the turn, I saw my closest competitor 1'20 after the turnaround. So, thats 2'40" back. He was number 15, which meant he started, at most, 30" after me. So, that still put me over 2' ahead. It also helped that said competitor was my doctor, Dr. John Krichev. He is a very solid runner, but I knew that as long as I kept running he'd have a hard time making up 2min in only 1.5 miles.
It was great to see the other competitors heading out as I was heading back, and I was definitely ready for the finish line. I crossed, and stopped my watch. But then I had to run back around to the start to watch the clock, just to make sure my earlier math was correct. It was close enough, and I was pretty confident I had the win. Results confirm this.
Post race gets better every year, as more and more people in and around Huntsville are getting into triathlons. Its pretty cool to see, but I'm just mildly disappointed that this TT style start is the first type of race they get to experience. But it should make the real thing that much better!
During the race I must say I didnt feel great. But, looking at my splits, I had PRs for both the bike AND the run on this course. (I dont bother with the swim, b/c it is always all over the place. But, I was only 13sec behind The Man, which I am not at all disappointed with.) Considering I've done this race in '08, '09, and '10, I was pretty stoked to see the improvement, especially since I did it from the front. Needless to say, I'm definitely feeling pretty good about IM Louisville, which is now less than two weeks away!!!! :-0
Who says you cant have any fun while training for an IM? Saturday some friends were planning on going out to the river for some fun, so I certainly wanted to join. The only problem, of course, is that I have this little race coming up in about a month, so I needed to spend some time on my bicycle. So clearly the solution was to simply ride to the river. But, because the destination was only about 40 miles away, and I kind of needed a detour via Tennessee:
Map Courtesy of the Timex Run Trainer
I was pleasantly surprised with the route, especially Route 273 and 274 up in TN. The trek from Ardmore, AL to Athens on Al 251, on the other hand, was not so much fun. Then the last 8mi on Nuclear Plant Road, was just awful. Rough pavement and huge bumps just arent the way you want to finish 5h+ in the saddle!
Regardless, 5h 21min and 112miles later, I was finally there. Just a quick 20min run and I was ready for a great afternoon on the river.
At that point the fun was just starting, as the next destination was Tanner High School for a tractor pull!
Yes, those are thousands of people in the stands who paid $15 to watch modified tractors pull trailers loaded down with weight. Cant beat it!
And so it begins... IM training at least. Sunday included a 101mi ride, which was clearly the highlight of my week. Seriously though, I switched to an ISM Adamo Prologue saddle a couple of months ago and I couldnt be happier with it. Although I had a bit of chafing during the first few weeks, that has subsided and now I have no complaints. I used to get that "burning" sensation you-know-where, but no more. This includes yesterday, when I still didnt have any saddle soreness issues at the end of the ride.
The rest of the week was lower key, as I had to travel to California for a PDR at a supplier. The silver lining, though, was the chance to swim at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. With two outdoor 50m pools with digital clocks and an awesome Masters program, its hard to beat!
There were, however, a couple of factors we forgot to consider. First, the NCF was April 28th, while the MoonPie Festival was June 16th. In April it is still cool in the morning; in June, though, not so much. Next, the race associated with NCF was a 5k, while Moonpie was a 10 miler. I didn't major in math, but 10 miles is a lot longer than 3.1. And really... who puts on a 10 mile race in the middle of the summer in the South?? So with this in mind, some of us were having second thoughts...
What are we doing here, again?
This SO dumb...
So ready to be done.
The race was... a race. The first few miles were pretty hilly, the next few were flat, and then we got to finish with a nice juicy uphill just after the 9 mile mark. I ended up 5th in 56:45, which is nothing to write home about, but certainly was a pretty decent workout.
Now, enough about racing. The highlight, of course, was the festival! FWIW, I'll give a nod to the Cornbread Festival on food (selection, quality, and quantity), crafts, and overall size. But Moonpie definitely had the better race. Sure, the middle of June isnt the optimal time for a 10 miler, but you dont see the 10 mile distance all that often, so it gets points for that. And this race had close to 850 finishers, which is not too shabby for a race in the Middleofnowhere, TN. Finally, the post race food included fresh buscuits (sausage, chicken, or plain), bananas, muffins, and of course RC Cola and MoonPies.
Nice little recovery week post half IM. I kept things pretty chill through Friday, then had a great run Saturday morning and solid ride on Sunday. Next weekend its back to racing with the Moonpie 10 miler. And yes, you read that right... I said:
It was a pretty busy week last week! Things started with a bang last Monday with the 32nd annual Cotton Row Run in downtown Huntsville. This is the biggest road race of the year in Huntsville, so its always a lot of fun. However, it is also always hot, humid, and hilly, so its usually a bit of a suffer-fest as well.
Saturday, on the other hand, it was my turn to bring home the bacon, as thankfully some of the attributes that help Kenyans run fast, don't exactly help them swim fast. On the line was $1000 for the win in the Coliseum Rock N Rollman Half in Macon, GA. I had won the race last year and was excited to go back to defend my title.
As for the race itself, there isnt much to report, other than it went pretty darn well. I broke away a few minutes into the swim and was able to get a nice gap on the field.
Out on the bike, the QR felt great, but it was difficult to tell just how well I was doing, as the course was windy and hilly and I was riding my PRO disc (so I didnt have power). I always ride scared, though, so I just put my head down and pedaled hard. As each 5-mile split ticked by, I became more and more confident that no one would catch me.
Sure enough, I came off the bike in first. I finally got a glance at the second place guy as I was about half a mile into my run. I figured I had about 5' on him at that point, so I knew as long as I had a decent run, I'd be able to hold him off. At around mile 4 there was a turnaround and I had him at ~5'30" back, which meant we were probably running about the same pace. I was feeling OK running ~6' miles on the hilly course, so I knew as long as I kept things under control, I'd hold him off. By the second out and back around mile 9, I had close to 6' on him, so at that point I knew I just had to keep running and I'd get the win.
I ended up finishing in 4:10:09, breaking my course record from last year. Better yet, my bike split was 2'57" faster than last year and my run was exactly 3'faster. (2011 results and 2012 results, for reference) Now certainly the cooler temps this year helped the faster run split, but I'm really excited about the faster ride. I'd like take all the credit and say it was a gain in fitness, but I'd be remiss not to mention the QR CD0.1. That bike is fast!
Up next? Good question. The next big race on the calendar is Ironman Louisville at the end of August. Dumb, I know, but I think its about time I improved on my PR from 2005. In the meantime, there will be plenty of local races, as well as hopefully another 70.3 or two.
I grew up in Orlando and went college in Florida, so I always look forward to going down to this race. It was also my second half ironman distance, and where I qualified for Hawaii way back in 2005. However, this year was like no other. First of all, the race venue had changed with a move from Disney's Fort Wilderness to Lake Eva, in majestic Haines City. I vaguely remember traveling to Haines City for a soccer tournament sometime in the mid 90s, but this was my first time heading there for a triathlon.
The other big difference in the this year's race was, of course, the Lance effect. Lance, yes that Lance, had committed to this race when he announced his "come back" to triathlon and partnership with WTC, and needless to say it was pretty well publicized.
The first difference was in the transition area as we were setting up in the morning. I've raced (as a Pro) in the 70.3 World Championships a few times, and there were always a lot of media there. But this is first time I've seen such a huge throng of other racers standing near our section of the transition area. Furthermore, this is first time I can remember our section of the transition area being separated from the rest. Other than being midly amusing, none of this really affected my preparation any, and I went through my pre-race motions without any issues.
Finally, it was game time and we were off. I had a decent enough start, but was still further back than I wouldve liked after 100m. Thankfully though I was able to pass people and slowly made my way up through the pack. The swim was an unusual 'W' shape, and it wasn't until the last straight coming back to shore that I realized I was in a pretty good position. I was in a group with a few others and was pretty sure there werent many others up the water.
Pretty soon I was tapping the guy's feet in front of me, at which time I looked up and was pretty sure it was Lance. He and another dude made a final sprint for the finish, and I stumbled a bit coming out, causing me to exit the water around 6th in ~25min, only about 1min20 down from the lead.
Out on the bike there were considerably less spectators and also less racers. My swim group took off immediately, likely chasing Lance. I dont think I couldve caught up with them if I wanted to, but if I had, I wouldnt have been able to hang around for long. So, I was all alone for the ride. It was hard, as finishing into a headwind it always tough, and I finally came off the bike in around 2h20.
Out on the run the Lance effect was again in full force. There were noticeably more spectators than usual, especially for a course in a small town. But it was funny how many fewer were there for my last loop... I ran right at 26min for the first two loops, but then slacked a bit on the last one and finished in 1h19.
(As an aside, I've been wearing some Nike Lunarspiders for my track workouts and have really enjoyed them. They are super light and responsive, but I think they're a bit too flimsy for a 70.3 run. That, or I'm just not running fast enough to take full advantage, because they definitely make me run faster on the track!)
So all in all 4:08 in 9th place, which I was pretty pleased with, especially given the lowered training volume this year. This is right in line with recent performances at this race, and I'm really excited for the rest of the summer, as I've only recently started more long course specific training.
Next up: RockNRoll Man Half (its a half ironman, but they cant call it that...) on June 2nd
Two for one! So needless to say, things at the real job have been a bit busy, and the blogging is slipping. We've got our first big milestone coming up (SRR/SDR), and I've had some artifacts due, and its kind of important we convince NASA we know what we're doing, so those have naturally taken priority. But dont worry, there has been some training as well...
First, a couple of weeks ago I went and ran a 5k at the National Cornbread Festival in S. Pittsburg, TN. Yes this is real, and yes it is awesome. The course was short (actually only 3mi) but quite hilly, so I was pleased with 15:30 for 3 miles and the win.
After that, it has been about a week and a half of really solid training. I've had some great threshold workouts on the track, and suffered through a couple of long rides on the QR. I also had a great workout with the kids.
Fridays have been LCM at the Nat so that the kids can get ready for the summer. This means, of course, that the kids also have practice in the morning those days. This particular Friday 16x100m, leaving on 2'30", best average. The kicker? These were from a dive, starting in heats. This was a great workout, and I definitely swam faster than I wouldve by myself. The only problem was that by the second half, my arms/back were getting so sore that I was having serious difficulty getting out of the pool...
So although New Orleans was more than a bit disappointing, I'm really looking forward to FL70.3. Not only have the workouts been going well, but I get to stay with my family, as my parents and sister still live in Orlando.
So I raced in New Orleans last Sunday. Or at least had the intention of racing a triathlon but ended up stumbling through a quasi-duathlon.
The New Orleans 70.3 turned into the New Orleans 67.1 when on Saturday the race director decided to cancel the swim due to the forecast of windy conditions on Sunday morning. Other than a few extreme situations (ie an impending hurricane) I'm not aware of a situation where the swim has been canceled that early. When it happens, it is usually a game-time decision. And even then there is usually quite a bit of consternation.
But, it is what it is and we were left with basically a bike-run event. After all, its not like there was going to be any real separation in two miles among 35 fit guys who have to ride 10m apart. I had a decent opening run, and was on my bike without any issues. That wouldn't last long, though, as things went downhill quickly.
The details are presented below in list form because I'm in specification writing mode.
About a mile (1) into the ride ride my front bottle which was filled with PowerBar Perform, decided it really didn't want to be in the cage anymore, so it flew away.
A Brazilian who I believe mainly does ITU races decided it would be a good idea to ride in our group. He rode like it was an ITU race, so when he finally decided to move to the front preceded to stop pedaling after passing me. I didn't brake quickly enough and there was the draft marshall to give me a 4min penalty, leading to...
4 minutes in the sin box. Never fun, but considerably less so when it is chilly and windy.
Replacement Perform grabbed at the aid station had a leaky cap and was spewing Perform all over my front wheel/frame/body/chain. I got a few swallows and had to dump the rest.
I probably didn't take enough calories, likely leading to a mild blow up the last couple miles of the run (5:45s to 6:15s).
The last mile. There was a bridge, then a large roundabout, then the turn to the finish. We had already been through the roundabout once, after finishing the first lap, so I figured the turn for the finish wasn't too far past it after the completion of lap #2. I was wrong. We had to go back over the bridge then turn right and go through some gravel before finally reaching the anti-climatic finishing straight.
The finish was in a gated parking lot at UNO rather than the French Quarter, the location of last year's finish.
On the bright side, I did feel great on my new QR CD0.1 (when I was actually riding it) and felt good running as well (outside of the last couple of miles) so while last weekend didn't quite go as planned, I am looking forward to some solid racing in the near future. After all, might as well get all of the nonsense out of the way at once!