Archive for July, 2011

2011 Madison Sprint Triathlon

I just signed up, now I feel a little queasy.  What have I gotten myself into?

2011 Petit 5K Race Report

I love running the Petit 5K.  It is what road racing is all about.  A group of like minded people coming together for a good run, but more importantly a good cause.  The start of the race is always emotional.  Dr. Petit makes his remarks, and we all remember the tragedy that befell his young family.  I know that each time I think of what he and his family went through I can’t help but think of my own family, and how difficult it would be to have lived through something like that.  During that moment of silence before the race, you can hear sniffles through the crowd as every parent in the crowd shares in the pain that only someone who gives so much of themselves to their children can ever really fathom.

Of course, we were all here to race, and soon enough the gun went off and we were running.  I was running with my sister-in-law and we positioned ourselves near the front.  When gun went off I ran.  My goal was twofold.  First, I really wanted to qualify for a corral at the Manchester Road Race.  That means I needed a time of at least 25:26.  That’s roughly an 8:12 or so pace.  That my friends is a lofty goal for 2 reasons.  The first is that it was hot and humid on race day.  The second is that even under the best conditions I had never ever been close to that pace.  My fastest 5K was slower than 10 minute miles.   Having said that, due to injuries and other issues from last year, I haven’t done many 5k’s so it had been more than a year since the last real 5K that I had done.  Oh, and one other issue is that I have been really lazy, and haven’t done much in the way of training, so really, the deck was stacked against me from the start.  But I had to push myself, right?

The second, and much more achievable goal, was to be hurting during this race.  I have never really pushed myself on a “real” race before, so I wanted to leave everything out there.

When the gun went off I took off at a steady pace.  I had no watch so I didn’t know my pace, nor did I know my heart rate.  (I know, what a loser right?)  I do know that at some point I felt like I was dying.  I said to myself, wow, you are really out of shape, we aren’t even at a mile yet and you are already fading.  I felt hot, and extremely thirsty all of a sudden.  Thankfully there was someone handing out bottle water on the side of the road, I don’t think they were race volunteers, I don’t really know, but the water was cold and it was amazing (thank you).  Soon after that I approached the mile marker and the clock.  From a distance I heard someone shout “7:40. ”  It didn’t dawn on me what that meant until I got closer and looked at the clock.  It said 7:55.  I did a double take.  Huh?  With the delayed start due to congestion taken into account I had run a sub 7:45 minute mile.  How is that possible?  It didn’t feel like I was running fast, but that would certainly explain why I was so darn “out of shape.”  That was just crazy.  I kept going, but I could feel myself fading.  I just didn’t have the fitness to maintain that pace.

Just as an aside, one more thing I didn’t quite prepare for was just how fast I was going to have to run to make the road race seeding.  I never actually calculated it out, nor did I look it up, so I thought my target was sub 8:30.  Before you blame me too much, this race ended up happening the morning after we got back from vacation, so I wasn’t sure that I would even do it.  It was literally a last minute decision, so the prep just wasn’t there.

As I started fading people began passing me in large numbers.  I would guess that my pace dropped to around 9 minutes miles or so, so I was really dropping off.  As always, I saw people who were taking very different approaches to the race.  There was one woman in particular who would run like crazy for 200 yards or so, and then walk, completely out of breath for 100 yards.  It seems to me that a steady effort in between those two speeds would be better, or at least less demoralizing.  I know that I was intent on not walking at all during this race.  Having said that, she never let me pass her, so ultimately, her pace was just fine.

I was really hurting by the two mile mark, and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to keep even this slower pace up the rest of the way.  But my goal was to hurt, so I can scratch that one off the list.  I don’t remember the time at the second mile marker, I think averaged out to the 8’s or so.  I decided then and there that when I saw the finish line I would gun it, just lay it all out there.  The race ends with probably a quarter of a mile or so straight away, with the finish line right at the crest of a small slope.  As soon as you turn onto that road you can see the finish line, and as soon as I saw it I took off running as fast as I could.

I passed so many people in that last stretch, it felt amazing to just throw everything into that last sprint.  It was however, very hard to keep that sprint going, I felt myself slow down, and then forced my feet faster again several times.  When I finally crossed the line I felt like I was close to hyperventilating.  I was sooo hot, and I just couldn’t catch my breath.  I bit of walking around and a cold bottle of water later, I was able to join the crowd and welcome the runners in.

So I ended up with a finish time of 26:21, an 8:25 pace, and just missed the seeding :(.  But, I did easily meet my second goal.  My sister-in-law was nursing a foot injury, and came in with a respectable 10 minute mile with some walking in the middle.  Well done!

In the end I can’t complain.  I got a new 5K PR, and I had no right to shoot for such a fast pace with little to no training.  I’m actually quite lucky that I didn’t injure myself.

Face Your Fear

Ok, so I know that I freak out for no good reason.  But what’s important to know is that I don’t ever give up.  Last year, during my first open water swim, I got about 200 yards out and I freaked out and turned back.  I was feeling tired, and I couldn’t imagine swimming even another yard for fear that I wouldn’t be able to make it back.

I now know that my mind was playing tricks with me.  Making excuses to get me to back away from the things that scared me.  I.e., swimming in open water, no bottom of the pool.  Now going into open water, that is some scary stuff.  I am not the most confident swimmer, though I do feel really confident in the pool now.  I have no fear at all, even in the deep end.  Open water however is a whole different game.  You put your face in the water and it’s lights out.  You can’t tell if you are swimming straight, crooked, up or down.  There are no lines for references.  One other thing is that everything is at such a large scale that it seems like you are swimming really really slowly.  In the pool you can see the floor zoom by, you know you are cruising.  In the open water it is just empty blackness.  Every time you look up it seems like you are still so far away from where you are headed.

These are the things that bother me.  I am so afraid to drown.  I know that a big part of it goes back to when I was a boy.  I was my 6, my oldest son’s age.  I had no idea how to swim, and I was in a neighbor’s pool.  My head was just above water on the outside edge of the pool, and as I jumped around the outside I slipped and fell into the middle, which was much deeper.  I didn’t know what to do, so I slowly blacked out.  I woke up laying on the outside of the pool.  The parent that was in the pool with us saved me.  I can’t imagine how freaked out she must have been.  I don’t think my parents ever even knew what happened.  Oddly, I never learned how to swim until I was 35.  That was just last year.  Now I am trying to swim in open water and conquer that fear.

It’s no surprise that I am struggling with it.  But I’m not letting it win.  I will continue to attack the open water, and I will continue to get more comfortable with it.  I know how afraid I was in the pool, and I know that I got over it.  I will do the same in the open water, I just need to keep plugging away.

Don’t ever let fear stop you from trying something, it is always possible to overcome that which you fear the most.  Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy.  Before every race my heart rate races to 130 or more just standing there.  I am afraid, but I will not back down.

Winding Trails Triathlon Number 3

So coming off the brick swim/bike I figured that the trick to this swim was to just relax and focus on the breathing.

I started near the back of the swim and basically just mozied. I realize now that I need to jump to the front of the pack in order to get in front of the slower swimmers, but for some reason this seemed like the right thing to do.

I swam around a number of people before taking the turn. At the turn I had quite a few people bumping me out of the way. It was the roughest swim I have had to date in terms of physical contact. It really didn’t phase me, and I felt fine. About a quarter of the way back I ran into someone. I looked up and saw that they were doing the breast stroke. Between the flailing arms and legs I would say that they took up about 6 feet over from the rope.

I wasn’t going to let that phase me, I decided to swim around her. I swam left, and ran into another set of legs. Right beside the first girl was another girl, also breast stroking. Now I was about 12 feet from the rope line, and I was not going to let this girl phase me either. I swam left once more and…you guessed it, I hit another set of legs. What are the chances of 3 people all breast stroking side-by-side. At this point I actually said out loud, you have got to be kidding me. Just as I finished that sentence another person swam up my legs and pushed the lower half of my body into the water. I’m proud to say that I still didn’t panic or even freak out. I don’t actually remember what happened after that, but I do remember getting tired and being really glad I was out of the water. I also remember being pissed. I had a great swim, and now I was being dogged by these breast strokers!

The good news is that I had plenty of gas for the bike. I actually passed a few people, and was passed by a few people. It was more or less a wash. There was a big pileup of kids at the top of a really steep hill, but I manage to navigate that without much issue.

When I transitioned off the bike I noticed that there were very few bikes back. I didn’t think too much about it, but as I ran I passed another couple of people and held everyone else off.

I had two people ahead of me and I tried to close in on them, but I was out of gas. Just as I made my final kick they made theirs too. I never caught them.

In the end I finished 10th out of about 40. I’m really happy with that. I can’t wait for the next one.

Open Water Swim Training Brick Adventure

This weekend we did a swim/bike brick. It started with a swim at Brody Pond in New Hartford. We swam to a buoy on the other side of the pond, and back. The swim was…interesting. About half way out I started to think, that, in general, is an issue. I wouldn’t say that I freaked out, but my mind was telling me I was tired and should go back.

I was swimming with a group that included my sister-in-law, and when I go to the halfway point I asked her if she was ready to go back. She said that she wanted to do the whole thing, so, unfortunately, I had to do it too. I’m glad that she pushed me to be honest, I’m glad that I did it. I was swimming slow and easy with my wetsuit. I never got tired (other than my mind playing tricks with me). When we got to the turnaround, I felt thrilled.

On the way back, the swim was “easy.” It just goes to show that the whole thing is mental. I did have some sighting issues. I kept drifting to the right. I would then over-correct, and at one point I was swimming perpendicular to the shore. Odd, but I wasn’t freaking out. The rest of the group spun around and did another half mile while my sister-in-law and I practiced sighting in near the shore.

Once we wrapped up the swim we got on our bikes and did the 24 mile Litchfield Hills triathlon route through New Hartford. The ride was uneventful for me, and I felt ready to run when I finished. Unfortunately I was the only one ready to run, so we just grabbed lunch and headed for home.

Coming off the last tri’s horrible swim, this weekend was a real confidence booster. Lets see how the next one goes.

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