Race Results

My Son’s first 5K

This weekend was the Hartford Marathon.  My wife was doing the Half, my sister-in-law was doing the full, and I decided to do the 5K with my 6 year old son.

We had been training, but not as much as I thought we needed to.  We are both so busy that it is hard to get some time to get a run in.  If my neighborhood were more run friendly I would have done a bit more training, but having to get in the car and drive somewhere made it difficult.

We started the day with a peanut butter sandwich and a chocolate milk.  When we arrived I searched for my wife and sister-in-law, who came early, but couldn’t connect with them.  I of course had to make a potty run, the lines were long, but we made it just fine.

My son was very nervous.  There were a lot of people, and the Hartford Marathon is quite a spectacle for a little guy.  I prepped him as best as I could and we got into line with all the other 5kers.  I decided to start us out back so that he would feel like he was making good progress by passing a bunch of people as opposed to having people pass him.

When the gun went off he stayed right next to me as I found a clearing or two for us to run in.  When he noticed that I was finding gaps he decided to take off and bounded between people.  He took of at that point and I just ran behind him impressed with his zig zagging skills.  He was doing an 8 minute mile or so at that point, and I knew it was too much to sustain for 3 miles.  We just weren’t fit enough to do it (both of us) about half a mile in I took off his sweath shirt and he took off once more.  He managed this fast pace for about a mile and a half.  I was really impressed!

Unfortunately, after the 1.5 mile mark he got a stomach cramp.  The peanut butter combined with the break neck pace was too much for him.   We started walking, and I could tell that he was really suffering.  We walked for about 3/4 of a mile and he kept looking behind him and seeing people pass.  He asked at one point if we were going to be in last place.  I said that we weren’t going to be, but even if we were I was very proud of him.  He kept fading, and at about the 2.5 mile mark I picked him up and ran with him a bit.  He had very much checked out of the race at this point and I felt bad that I had brought him this far out with no way easy way to get to the finish.  With about a half mile to go I put him down and said, can you hear the finish?  We need to run when we get there.  Well, I barely got the sentence out and he shot out like a bullet.  A police officer shouted “You aren’t going to catch him” and he was right.  I would guess that my son was running a 6 minute mile at that point.  I couldn’t gain any ground on him no matter how fast I ran.  He eventually faded and we walked for a bit, but he looked much better now.  He bolted again, and once again we were buried in cheers from people who knew I had no hope of catching him.

Eventually I did catch him and we ran hand in hand through the finish.  When we got across the line I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him.

We did the 5K in 38 minutes, and, for the record, we were no where near last place!

I will never forget this day as long as I live.  I’m so proud of my little guy for a really successful run.

My wife was no slouch either.  Despite a head cold and a trip to the med tent for feeling light headed, she had a 7 minute PR in her half.  My sister-in-law had leg cramps starting at mile 10 of her marathon, but managed to make it through with a walk/run finish of 5:45, not bad for a first marathon.

It looks like everyone fought off some pain to make a great and memorable race!


Unionville Road Race – Race Report

Today I ran the Unionville Road Race 5K.  It was hot, really humid, and pretty miserable.

My goal was to do 8’s but I wasn’t sure that was possible.  With the heat and humidity I knew it was going to be tough going.

We got to the event late, and I ran to get registered and get everything together.  I made it to the starting line, which was in the sun, and just started to sweat.  Ugh, brutal.  I could tell 8’s weren’t in the cards for me today.

As the horn blew I took off.  I checked my pace, and it was in the 6’s.  Time to slow down.  I backed off a bit, checked again, and I was at about 7.  Slowed it down once more and got to 7:44.  Good, let’s see how that goes.

Before even getting to the mile mark I could tell that this race was going to be grueling.  I was really hot, my heart rate was over 170, and I was starting to slow down to right around 8’s.

As I hit the first mile mark I got my time 7:40.  That was good, but it wasn’t going to last.

I hit the water station and had to slow down, they only had a couple of people there and they were getting hammered.  Luckily they had a lot of water on the table, so I just grabbed a couple and took off.

I dumped one cup over my head, and sipped from the other one.  It helped cool me down a bit, but I was still hurting.  It was tough just thinking about the fact that I was only halfway home.

We popped out of the rails to trails section of the race that we had spent about a mile on, and turned onto rt. 177.  The next section of the race was on the sidewalk.  This wasn’t an issue since the crowd was now thinned out.  It was at this point that I contemplated walking.  My quads were on fire, and my shins were getting sore too.  I just wanted this race to end.  But I didn’t walk, I kept running.  I did ease the pace a bit, and my heart rate stabalized.

A few more people passed me on this section, but mostly I just kept up with the people around me.  My pace was jumping around a bit, but I was just trying to hold on.

With about a mile or so left, I started to feel a little better, I think my heart rate was settling down, I maintained my pace, but I didn’t go any faster.

With about 300 feet to go I picked up the pace again, but there was no one to pass.  I ran it home just as my wife popped out of the crowd to take my picture.

My total time was about 26:35.  Not where I wanted to be, but I’ll take it.  This race pretty much ends my 2011 race year, so that’s that.

 


Brownstone Quarry – Guts and Glory Quarry Challenge

This past weekend my wife, sister-in-law and I did the Guts and Glory Challenge at Browstone quarry.   All I can say is wow.

We were on a team with another member of the tri club, and it was a lot of fun.  There was a 400′ swim that lead to a rope climb.  Then we had to carry a 4″ pipe that was maybe 6 feet long through a tire run, under a 20′ log wire barrier, on a mile or so run, through an oiled tunnel, down a zip line, up an 80′ cargo net, and down another zip line.

The rope climb was tough.  The rope was pretty thin and made of nylon so it really bit into your skin.  The tunnel was nearly impossible.  It was tight and slippery.  It sounds like most people skipped it.  Three of us on our team made it through.  The zip lines were awesome, and the cargo net was scary but doable.

It took us nearly 90 minutes to get through it, which put us dead last in the race.  I’m fine with that though, we were doing it for fun, and I can’t think of a more fun way to spend a few hours.  Good times!

I’ll most likely be doing this again next year.


2011 Dave Parcels Madison Sprint Triathlon Race Report

OR; I survived my first real tri!

Pre-Race

It should come as no surprise that I was very nervous about this race.  It was my first “real” triathlon.  It was my first “real” open water swim.  It was also going to be the very farthest out that I have ever swum in the ocean.  Over the summer I had one ocean swim with my wetsuit.  I stayed near the shore, and the chop made it nearly impossible for me to swim back because of my lack of bilateral breathing skills.  I wanted everything to go perfect so the day before the race I went to packet pick up at Zane’s Bicycle, and decided to take the opportunity to scope out the race location and the bike course.

I drove to the swim area and looked around.  The ocean was fairly calm, just a few waves lapping the shore.   I stared at the ocean, thinking, well if it is like this I’ll be OK.

I got in the car and drove the bike route.  I did get a bit turned around, but ended up finding my way.  It was a bit hilly, but it was a really beautiful area.  I did notice one turn where the road was a little rough, but otherwise things seemed straight forward.  My inexperience did get to me at this point though.  All I could think of was how was I ever going to find my way?  There were a lot of turns, it was a fairly technical course, and without help I was going to struggle.

I drove back home feeling pretty good about things.  My wife had her packet pickup that afternoon so we swapped out the kids and she headed out while I took the kids to Tae Kwon Do.  We met back up at home and I started my race prep.  Work has been so busy that I hadn’t gotten time to put anything together yet.  The night before I found a website called RaceChecklist.com.  It is a great site that you can use to generate a race checklist.  You click off check boxes and generate and print the list.  It helped me make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything that I might need.

With race checklist in hand I felt more or less prepared.  I still had to clean and oil my chain, and make any last minute tweaks to the bike.  I loaded it up into my car along with the bike pump and headed inside.  I loaded my transition bag with the checklist items and crossed them off one at a time.  With my bag complete I just had a few items that needed to wait until race day.

Typically the nerves associated with a race cause me some serious digestive issues.  We’ll keep it at that.  I didn’t want to end up running to the bathroom repeatedly on race morning so I knew I had to have some sort of medication plan ready to go.

Medication Plan

I decided to take two Imodium tablets the night before the race, and then take two more the morning of, along with some motion sickness medicine.  I followed the plan and it worked really really well.  I only had to go to the bathroom once all morning which is just about perfect.

I set the alarm for way too early o’clock and tried to get some sleep.  I tried really hard to sleep but my mind was on the swim.   I was also inexplicably worried about the bike ride.  I’m not the most confident person on a bike, but I feel much more solid lately.  I don’t know why I was getting nervous about it now, but all of those pre-race jitters left me with little sleep.  Maybe 4 hours.

When the alarm went off I was already awake.  I threw on the clothes that I left out for myself, tri shorts, tri singlet, sweatpants, wind breaker and fli flops.   brushed my teeth, medicated, grabbed my tri bag and headed out.

The drive was uneventful.  I wasn’t that nervous to be honest.  It was still dark out until just a few miles from the race location.  As I approach the sky just started to light up.  I found a parking space, grabbed my gear and headed into transition.  I picked a spot, dropped my bike off, set up my transition area, and went over to the chip pickup and body marking area.  After getting body marked I walked back to transition and counted racks from both the bike entry, and the swim entry to make sure that I would quickly find my bike.  I met up with a friend Betsie who was also part of the YMCA tri group and was doing the race with me.  She still had a bunch of setup to do, so while she took care of that I headed back to the registration area.  The registration area was on a deck overlooking the swim start.  The ocean was as still as glass, not even a tiny wave.  I have seen lakes with more motion.  I watched as a boat motored off to drop the buoys.   As the first one was dropped off I remember feeling relief.  OK that’s not too bad.  As the boat moved on to drop the second one I thought, ok, good enough…stop there…where are you going?  It seemed like the buoy was miles away.  Wow, that was going to be rough.  I tried not to let it get to me, but I was starting to get a bit nervous about the whole affair.

It turns out I was going to be in the last wave.  With about 15 minutes or so to the race start I went over to transition, took off my sweatpants and put on my wetsuit.  I wandered over to the beach where a couple of other tri club members were, and I watched the first waves go off.  I scanned the beach for my family.  My wife and kids and my sister-in-law were all coming to watch me race.  They came later just so that they could have an extra hour of sleep.  I was wondering if they were going to make it in time, and sure enough there they were.  I ran up to give them all a hug.  That was all I needed to get me going.  I headed back to my wave, and waited for my turn to start.

Swim

I spoke to a couple of the other guys lining up in my wave.  We were all first timers, and the tension was palpable.  One of the guys I spoke to said he had never done an open

The worst part is behind me, literally!

water swim, the other had done limited open water swimming.  I remembered my first open water swim, it was terrifying, I felt bad for that first guy, this was going to be an interesting experience for him to say the least.

The countdown started, and I thought about how I wasn’t really that nervous now.  Maybe it was a good thing to have gotten there so early.  This allowed me to work the nerves out, and relax.  Seeing my family certainly helped as well.  The horn blew and we were off.

Being the last wave there was no worries about other people swimming through us, so I found an opening in the middle and I started my swim.  The swim start was fine.  No bumping really and I was glad for that.  It wasn’t long before I started to breast stroke.  I wasn’t tired, I was just uneasy.  I didn’t want to swim off course.  It would be a good time to mention that I have no breast stroking ability, so I just kind of floated there while making arm movements.  I doubt that I made any forward progress.  Within a few minutes that doubt started creeping in.  “Oh boy, my arms are tired already, this sucks, I can’t do this.”  I realized that, although I hadn’t gotten to the first buoy yet, I was already pretty far from shore.  My mind started trying to get me to freak out.  I stopped repeatedly to breast stroke.  I could hear people chattering in the background “are you ok” “how are you feeling.”  A lot of chatter for a swim.  It sounded a lot like that scene from Titanic where everyone is in the water.  It is quiet, the waves lapping here and there, and the whispers and chatter of nervous people.

I kept it going, no time to turn back, you can do this.  I made it to the first buoy, because I stopped so often I never had issues with swimming off course.  I was stopping waaaaaay too much.  But I think I needed that just to feel comfortable.  The good news is that I wasn’t breathing heavy.  I hadn’t choked on any water, really in the grand scheme of things I was doing really OK.  In fact, I started noticing that I was getting more tired “breast stroking” than just swimming freestyle.  I set a goal, swim to the first turn buoy and then you’ll be fine.

I started doing more and more stretches of freestyle swimming.  I really pushed myself.  Before long I was doing longer and longer stretches of freestyle.  Every so often I would fine myself swimming near someone, but that was pretty rare.  At one point I did get bonked in the head by someone, and someone did swim slightly up my back, but it never freaked me out.  As I focused on that turn buoy I increased my freestyle stopping just enough to site.  At one point I popped my head up and banged right into the buoy.  Luckily it was just an inflatable balloon, so I smacked it out of the way and went around it.

When I made the turn I got my confidence back.  Because the buoy weren’t set to a square, the first two buoy went out the farthest, so I was now as far into the ocean as I was going to get, the rest of the swim was heading to shore.  To me, that meant I was halfway.  I now went ever longer with my freestyle stroke.  I rarely paused, and I started passing some white caps from the wave ahead of me.  As I made the last turn I put it into gear and started doing proper freestyle with sighting.  I also started swerving slightly but I was feeling much better.  I also bumped a few more people, and at one point I actually got a dirty look, whatever!!  With about 200 yards to go I started kicking.  I have been told that kicking in triathlon swimming is not a good idea.  It tires out your legs and really doesn’t add any appreciable speed.  Like a good trooper I just dragged my legs behind me the whole time, and just started kicking to warm up.  I have to say, however, that my kick made a huge difference.  I’m not sure if it was just a perception thing, but I felt like I turned on an extra gear when I started kicking.  I was really moving.  I felt great as I approached the shore, then, out of nowhere, BANG.  I feel this thump against my forehead as the swimmer in front of me made one last kick for shore.  Immediately I felt every muscle in my body tense, and both of my legs cramped at the hamstrings, and calves.  As soon as I felt that cramp twinge I relaxed them and it went away.  I think instinctively I just relax when I feel that twinge, and it really seems to help me get through them.  With all of that going on I just stopped swimming and as I did my feet hit sand.  I was done!  The swim was over!  I certainly didn’t set any speed records, but I do have a PR (it was my first Sprint so yay).  My goal was to survive the swim, I did that and more.  I felt good, not tired, and I wasn’t breathing heavy.  It was a good day!

T1

Despite the fact that I practiced removing my wetsuit in the water, despite telling my wife that she should remove the top part of her wetsuit in the water, despite all of those things, and perhaps because I had just been kicked in the head, I just ran out of the water.  I tried and tried to get the strap off, but it wasn’t until I was half way to the transition area before I got the top half undone.  I did manage to hold my cap and goggles so that they would stay in the sleeve, so it wasn’t a total loss.

To be honest, T1 was a blur.  I don’t really know what took me so long but at 1:53, I’m not complaining.  I opted to ride without socks, so I quickly threw on my helmet, bike shoes, and glasses.  I tossed my wetsuit into a corner, grabbed a quick sip of my water bottle, and took off out of transition.   I hoped on the bike and off I went without issue.

All in all a pretty successful first transition.  Unlike the Winding Trails tris that I’ve done, I wasn’t even breathing heavy after the swim so I was good to go.

Cycling

It’s important to note that my wife was one day away from her first triathlon as well.  I spent a lot of time prepping her on rules, and common rules violations. 

Zipping out of transition.

Unlike my triathlon, hers was sanction by USAT and she had to follow the rules or face a penalty, or even disqualification.  With that in mind…

I started the bike leg with the goal of just hammering it.  I am not competitive in my running skillz.  I can run, but I can’t run fast.  I was expecting, maybe a 9:30-10:00/mile.  So my only chance of doing well overall was to have a magic bike split.  Who cares if my legs are shot, I’m going to be slow.  I decided to use just water in my bottles, and one Raspberry GU which I would take at around the 10 mile mark on the bike.

The first mile out of transition was very crowded.  The biggest issue I found with going in the last wave was that there were a lot of people in front of me on the bike course that looked like they were checking an item off of their bucket list.  The bike for them was a leisurely stroll.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing at all wrong with that.  In fact, I think there may be entirely too many people that take themselves too seriously.  BUT, you should still follow the rules.  You should maintain distance from the rider ahead of you, but even more importantly, you should stay to the right of the road, and you should never ride two or even three abreast unless you are passing someone.

I struggled to get around a number of people without crossing the center line.  It was rough.  At one point I was passing a woman who was just riding beside another person.   That other person was in the middle of the lane, so with two abreast there wasn’t much space for me to pass without ending up across the yellow line.  I went for my pass, and just then the person on the outside starts sliding over.  I edged over and started screaming, “I’M PASSING ON YOUR LEFT…I”M ON YOUR LEFT…PASSING ON THE LEFT!!”  I don’t know what this person was thinking, I was right beside her practically screaming into her ear, and she just kept coming.  Maybe she was deaf?  But if that is the case, then I suggest that she LOOK BEHIND HER before making a move.  I ended up having to swerve across the line to prevent a crash.  In the end it was a non-issue, but it could have ended badly.

Shortly after coming that the race leader passed me heading in.  Wow he was cruising.   A bit later, I passed Betsie on the side of the road.  I asked if she was OK and she said yes.  I pressed on.  One thing of note is that there were more hills than I expected.  It wasn’t an easy joy ride for sure.  The ride preview from the day before, however, paid off.  I was able to anticipate both the messy intersection with the bumpy transition, and a very sharp left turn so things worked out.  Throughout the race I was next to a guy riding an old school steel bike with shifters on the down tube.  The bike sounded like it was barely holding itself together, but he was really rocking it.  We passed each other back and forth in the beginning, and I lost him after that.  About half way through the ride this fit woman blew by me and I tried for a little while to stick to her tail, but I wasn’t able to.

As planned, at mile 10 I took my GU.  Right then I was passed by a guy on a tri bike, and that guy on the steel bike.   As they passed me they slowed down, and so did I.  We came up to a hill with a right turn at the crest.  I used that opportunity to push past them both.  I cranked it and got around them at the corner and kept pressing.  The tri bike guy caught and passed me, but the steel bike guy didn’t have the gas.  I rolled into the transition feeling good.

T2

I dismounted the bike without issue, and headed into transition.  I racked the bike and took off the helmet.  During the bike portion the sky was overcast, and because of all of the trees I just couldn’t see well with the glasses so I took them off and tucked them in my tri shirt.  I really need to get clear glasses.

I had brought some socks with me to put on for the run but hadn’t really decided what I was going to do.  When the time came I opted to wear them.  I was afraid that with my wet feet I might hurt them on the sneakers.  It didn’t take long to put them on, and before I knew it I had my visor on and was out of transition.

Run

Here’s where it gets interesting.  I felt really good coming off the bike.  As I started the run I felt like I was jogging.  I couldn’t seem to pick up the pace.  I looked down at my

Final Kick to bring it home. (Please ignore the heel strike)

Garmin…then did a double take.  The Garmin said 6:22.  I don’t do 6:22.  I actually wasn’t sure I actually knew it was possible for me to run that fast.  I told myself immediately to slow down.  This pace was a recipe for disaster.

As a side note, I suspect that the differential between the speed of the bike i.e., 18+MPH and the speed of a run i.e., 6-7MPH, makes the run feel slow even if you are cruising.  It will be important to keep that in mind going forward because I could easily burn myself out trying to speed up.

I slowed the pace down to what felt comfortablish.  I was running between 9 and 8 minute miles.  I know, I couldn’t believe it either.  I don’t know where that came from.  On the run I passed a handful of people, but in a memorable moment, I was passed by a 67 year old like I was standing still.  Wow, he was impressive.  I kept my eye on him, but he kept slipping away from me drifting slowly into the distance.

The run course was dead flat.  It was right along the shore, and it was really nice.  The sun was starting to peek out from behind the clouds, but the weather was perfect.  maybe low 70’s or so and dry.  I ran into a handful of people that I knew.  It was an out and back, so on the return I saw Betsie again, and a couple of other people that I knew.

I managed to maintain my pace on the return trip, and with about 300 yards to go I gave it the kick.  I ran past just a couple more people, and ran through the shoot.  It was great to see my wife and kids there to greet me.  They even made me a sign.

Post Race

After the race I was beat.  I’m not sure I remember being that tired before.  Surprisingly only my lower back and my shoulders were sore.  I suspect that was due to the cycling.  I had a bagel or two, and we headed for home.  The next day was my wife’s tri, so I had to do the setup all over again.  All-in-all I had a blast.  I can’t wait to do my next tri.  I think I’ve caught the bug for sure.

Times

Swim: 23:12 (1/2 mile)

T1: 1:53 (I think this was miscounted which explains why my bike time was best overall)

Bike: 46:09 (13.4 miles ) Includes the run up from the beach (maybe 150 yards)

T2: 1:13

Run: 27:06 (3.1 Miles)

Total: 1:39:33

Place: 21/27

Prediction Review, and Wrap up

Here are my goals from pre-race:

Number 1 goal, was to finish.  Check.  I think I crushed this goal.  Not only did I finish, I did it without panicking, and really without issues.  The swim was easier than I thought, and next time I know I can do better.

Realistic Goal: Swim: 0:20:00/Bike: 0:50:00/ Run: 0:31:00/Total: 1:45:30

I was slow on the swim, but I stopped way too much, that I can fix.  As for the rest, I crushed it.  I beat the bike time by nearly 4 minutes, and the run time by 4 minutes.  I also crushed my proposed transition times to slay that goal by just about 6 minutes.  Woot.

But what about my aggressive goal?

Aggressive: Swim: 0:20:00/Bike: 0:40:00/ Run: 0:28:00/Total: 1:31:30

Well, my swim was still slow obviously.  My bike missed the mark by almost 6 minutes, but I did smash the run time by a minutes, and if I’m honest, I didn’t think I could do that run time.  Overall I was within about 8 minutes of my aggressive goal.  I can live with that.

In the end I missed my aggressive goals for two reasons.  The first was the swim jitters.  I kept stopping, but really, I didn’t need to.   Nothing changed physically when I made the first turn.  In fact, if anything I should have been more fatigued.  No, this was an issue in my mind.  I can correct that.  As far as the bike is concerned, hmm, it is the only segment I am disappointed in.  Not because I missed my aggressive goal, no the time had nothing to do with it.  My plan was to really push myself on the bike.  To let it all hand out there.  I know that the bike is my strength, if only because I am extra week elsewhere.   I am actually disappointed because I just didn’t push myself on my bike.  If I had really pushed myself I may not have met my aggressive goal, but I sure as heck would have been satisfied.  In fact, if I had cleaned up the swim, and met the bike goal I would have been firmly in the top 100.  I spent most of the bike leg of my race with my HR below 165.  If I was really pushing it it wouldn’t ever get below that number.

In reviewing my run data, I think I could have pushed it harder there too.  I felt really good throughout this race, I think, if I feel the same way next time, I will push things a little more.  That’s pretty good all things considered.  What a blast.


My First Outdoor Triathlon

Tuesday I did the Winding Trails Tiny Tri.  Just a note to any race organizers out there.  If you have a race don’t call it tiny.  Call it mini, call it small, call it short course, how about “Tri Before you Buy?”  But tiny tri just makes it seem pathetic for those who struggled through it.  “Oh it’s tiny, no big deal.”  Whatever!

So this was my first ever open water event!  It was also only one of very few open water swims that I’ve done.  I decided that since it was only 200 yards (What? It’s called a “Tiny Tri”  it’s short, so what, I can still be nervous…it was OPEN WATER…NO BOTTOM…NO WALLS…maybe you need a refresher on just how much suck I bring to the table?) I wouldn’t wear a wetsuit.  So there I was, waiting for the swim start with my goggles on…and my tri suit, sheesh.

The horn went off, well I guess it did, people started swimming so I started too.  It is a beach start, so there were about 40 or so of us at the line and I thought it would be best, since this was my first tri with people around me, that I take it slow and look for a gap.  I started off just walking slowly, taking tentative steps into the water, just trying to see where everyone was going.  I wasn’t racing, I was practicing so this was just fine for me.

The Swim

I finally took the plunge and started swimming.  That too I started slowly.  I swam with my head out of the water just looking for my gap.  I found an opening and started swimming.  Before long I came up on some feet, and stopped to look for a new opening.  I pulled to the right and started again.  I was about 3 feet from the buoy line.   The swim was an out around one buoy and back so there was always a rope there to judge direction.  I kept drifting towards the rope.  At one point I made it to the turn around bouy, and I stopped to hold it for a sec.  I was winded already.  Upon reflection I realize that between the nervousness of being in the water, and the stop and go, I was kicking up a storm so I was really winded.

At this point I plodded on, not much choice but to make it back to shore.  I put my head down and noticed that my breathing wasn’t right.  I was holding my breath, yet another reason why I was so winded.  I need to focus more during the swim!  I noticed someone in front of me, so I tried to fit between her and the rope line.  As I made my approach she drifted to the rope and I had to stop and go around her left.  I had to stop a lot more than I can articulate in this story, but the good news is that when I put my head down and swam, I passed tons of people out.  That girl that I had to go around, I passed her within seconds.

I was even more winded now, there was no time to catch my breath, if I had another 200 yards or so I could think calm thoughts, control the breathing and focus on keeping the legs still, but at this point I just wanted out.  It wasn’t a panic so much as I just wanted to be done with this part.  Then I felt my feet hit the ground, the water was murky, I couldn’t tell where the bottom was, by my feet hit…something…so I stood up.  The only problem was my feet hit something that wasn’t the bottom because the water was still too deep!!!  I had to once again get the swim going.  I still had about 75 yards to go.  When I finally did reach land I was beat.  My legs were like lead (which is similar to how they felt during my indoor tris last year) and my heart rate was in the 170’s.  Definitely bad mojo right there.

T1

As I exited the water I looked behind me.  There was a huge crowd still on the first leg of the swim.  What I don’t know is if they were in the race, or just people who decided to go for a swim.  Because the tiny tri isn’t time at each leg I don’t have any idea how many people finished before I did.  I will never know how many people I passed in the swim.  Now, if you know anything about me, you know just how absurd that last sentence sounds.  I passed people?  What is that even about?

Anyway, I stumbled to my towel, dried my feet the best I could, and threw on the socks and shoes.  It went quickly, but nothing to brag about.  I then had the long jog to the bike.  My legs were shot and I was practically hyperventilating.  My heart rate was still really high.  Ironically I was also very thirsty.  It felt like I was running in slow motion.  My legs were dead and a handful of people ran right past me.  Not too many, but a few.  When I got to transition the race clock said 7 minutes or so.  Not too bad considering how slow I was to get in, and how many times I stopped, plus the long walk.  I’ll take it.

The Bike

When I hopped on the bike I was still huffing and puffing.  As I headed out onto the trails my legs could barely get the pedals around.   Adults, kids, and I think someone’s grandma passed me like I was standing still.  I couldn’t believe how hard it was to peddle.  It felt like there were hills in areas that were flat.  It was awful.  I remember thinking that there was either something wrong with my bike, or something wrong with me.  I also remember hoping that it was my bike because I don’t think I can be fixed that easily.  About half way through the 3 mile ride, I determined that it was my bike.   I heard a rubbing sound and hopped off.  I figured I had a brake rubbing, but all the usual suspects were in good order.  I spun the wheel by hand and it caught.  Turns out the rear wheel was crooked and rubbing on the frame.  I pulled it out, reseated it, and hopped on…and then…I did it again, 3 times to be exact.  I also had the chain pop off twice, probably a combination of popping the wheel off and on and just an odd shifting pattern that I employed because one I don’t know what I’m doing, and two I was trying to  compensate for the wheel.  I changed gears fairly frantically trying to just get over the smallest hills.  Once I finally got everything straightened out the bike road like a dream.  What a difference.  I glided up the hills and cranked down the other side.  It was great!

One other side-effect of the bike issues was that I got to catch my breath.  My legs were still beat though.  As a side note, the trails were fairly tight, and I ended up either blocking others, or being blocked by others during a good portion of the race.  Once I got everything together I was ready to go, but there were just too many people in the way.  Eventually I did get out in front, but my legs were already shot.

T2

If there was anything wrong with this transition it was that I momentarily forgot to take the helmet off.  I remembered about two steps in and doubled back.

The Run

I know for sure what running on dead legs feels like.  I had those, but what I have never even heard of was running on dead lungs.  The last bit of riding had my heart rate up through the roof.  My run felt like it was in slow motion.  There was a woman about a 1/4 mile ahead of me, and she was hurting more than I was.  She kept stopping to walk, and then running on and on.  I reeled her in, but it was slow going.  I passed only that one racer the whole time, and no one passed me.   It was nice to be done.
Results

I have no idea.  It was 45 minutes and change on the clock when I passed the line, but I wasn’t wearing a chip (I didn’t know they had one for the tiny tri) and I forgot to start my stopwatch.  Next time I’ll do better.

Speaking of which, next time I plan to jump to the front of the swim, focus on breathing, form, and still legs.  I’ll have a working bike, so we’ll see how much of my belly aching was related to the bike issues, and how much was related to me being hopelessly out of shape.  I got so dusted on the bike, that can’t be right.  On the bright side, there’s lots of room for improvement.


Hartford Half Marathon Race Report

Summary:
Well, I came in with a goal of just finishing before the clock ran down to 0. I succeeded! My calves and shins behaved surprisingly well, but it wasn’t a cake walk by any stretch. My finish time was 2:19 with a pace of 10:25. Not bad all things considered.

The long version

Pre-Race
I woke up at 5:45. All of my gear was setup the night before, so it was just a matter of going through the motions. My wife, sister-in-law, and I had our breakfasts. Mine was a ham omelet, a banana, and coffee. My mom arrived at around 6:20 to watch the kids while we raced. All the ruckus of getting ready to go and last minute instructions for my mom was enough to wake the two oldest boys up. They came staggering out of the bedroom. It was actually great to be able to give them hugs and kisses before we left. We arrived in Hartford by 7:10 or so. Stopped at my office to use the facilities, and jogged over to Bushnell park to prep for the race. One of the cool amenities of the race was that UPS left trucks out to store the athlete’s gear. We were able to check a bag at the truck and have our gear right there when the race was over. Every race should be like this. By 7:50 or so we were in line and ready to go. I didn’t feel that nervous, but my heart rate monitor told me otherwise. Just standing there my heart rate was at 130. Yikes. The national anthem was sung, the gun went off, and we were off. I kissed my wife, wished her luck, and ran my race.

The First Half
As I started out I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the mass of humanity in front of me. 13,000 people filling the road, all with different goals but all moving in the same direction. I glanced up and saw a man doing the half marathon on crutches, he was missing a leg, it was incredible and made me realize how insignificant my little pains were.

My plan was to continue my run 4 walk 1 process. It worked well in training, so I wanted to continue it to help my IT bands and my shins. Unfortunately, with so many people all around, stopping was not an option. I continued my run for about 30 minutes before stopping. My pace was slow, a little less than 11 minute miles, but I was plugging along. I took a little of my homemade energy gel and I walked the minute. Then I continued my run.

I hadn’t made out where the mile markers were so I was running blind for a while. After running what I was sure was 5 miles I came across a DJ at Parkville School on Park Street and he was yelling out, “OK you’ve already done 3.5 miles, keep going.” I looked at the guy next to me and said “that’s it?” I wasn’t hurting at all, but it sure felt like I had made more progress than that. The one bright note was that I had no shin or calf pain, I think the rest and the calf sleeves really helped. I knew that if I hadn’t gotten any tightness by now, I was probably going to be ok.

After one of my walks, I looked up and saw my wife just ahead, I ran up to her and said hi. She was surprised to be in front of me, but I wasn’t. She was doing great. She later said she was struggling with her heart rate, but I couldn’t tell.

The race continued more or less uneventfully until mile 5. Just as I approached the mile marker, I finally figured out where they were, I felt a twinge in my left knee. When I run for long distances I get two kinds of pains. A small twinge below my knee cap, and a light burning on the outside of my knee. The twinge usually goes away in no time, the burning usually turns into horrible IT band pain. After another quarter mile or so I came to the awful realization that the twinge was a burn, and that I was starting to get that IT band pain once more. Eight miles left, how on earth was I going to make it?

The Second Half
I had a huge range of emotions at this point. I was mad that I was hurting already. I was confused since I have never had IT band pains while wearing knee braces, and I was concerned, I have never been able to run more than a mile or two after my IT bands start to hurt. Right then and there I started to doubt the finish. I decided to just tough it out and see how it went.

I crossed the half way point at about 1:06. I told myself I just had to get to mile 10, then, if I had to, I could walk it the rest of the way. I broke the race into 4 minute chunks. I would tell myself, ok, just run for 4 minutes and you can have a walk break. The walks were thankfully pain free so they were a bit of a welcome relief and when I started running again it didn’t hurt right away.

I used the pain as a barometer of how I was doing. I looked at the watch during the run when the pain started up to see if things were getting better or worse. Sometimes I could run 3 minutes before the pain got bad. Sometimes I would be limp running within 2 minutes of starting to run. It wasn’t consistent, so I really couldn’t tell if things were getting better or worse. Downhills hurt a lot, uphills hurt a little, and flats were bearable.

Even through all that, I was aware of my surroundings, and I ran over to any kid on any side of the street with their hand out for a high five. It was so nice of everyone to be out there watching us and cheering us on, the kids were great, and although my kids weren’t able to be there, the kids in the street were a small stand in that reminded me of my kids and kept me going.

As I entered Elizabeth Park I started to pep up. Joe, a friend of ours from the YMCA tri club, said he was going to be in the park to cheer us on. I scanned the sides of the street, and suddenly he was right there in front of me. It was a sight for sore eyes (ok maybe sore knees). I didn’t say a word, I was in too much pain, but I gave him a huge high five and a big grin. From that moment on, the pain was gone. I felt pep in my step, and I knew that I could do it. Before long I was at the 10 mile mark, the home stretch, I’ve got this.

The Home Stretch
As I turned onto Farmington Avenue I started to pour it on. I ran through the group and made some headway. The pain in my knees had gone numb, and I just wanted to see the finish. I saw the last mile marker, this was it, there was no way I wasn’t going to make it now.

As I made my final approach, I saw the Soldier’s and Sailor’s arch in the distance and I knew I just had to make it under there and I was done. As I turned the corner the crowd got thick and I could hear a roar from everyone as the runners streamed through the finish. As I looked out at the crowd, and the cheers washed over me, I was overcome with emotion. My eyes welled up, I did it, all this training, this moment is what it’s for. As I ran through the finish I pumped my fists in the air. I made it.

Time: 2:16:26
Pace: 10:25
Place: 3135 / 4623 A/G 267/322

Post Race
After the race I grabbed my medal and had something to eat. When I got home my IT bands were on fire. I couldn’t find a comfortable position. It took some Ibuprofen and sat with my kids. It was a perfect ending to an amazing day.

Lessons Learned
Well, there were a few. I need to seriously strengthen my knees and legs. This IT band issue will be the death of me if I can’t get it figured out. I am building a slide board, and am starting a P90X regiment next week. I’m getting back to spin and swim as well. Time to prepare to finish strong next year.

Another lesson I learned, you can push through the pain. Eventually your body will stop hurting. Of course there is a fine line there. Ignoring the wrong pain can cause serious injuries. I will listen to my body as I push, and hopefully that will let me know when I should stop.

Also, I learned that my endurance is pretty good. I came in at pretty close to my training pace, and I felt fantastic in terms of energy and endurance. In fact, other than my IT bands I wasn’t hurting at all. I’m sure I could have pushed the pace by quite a bit had I not had the IT band issues. (Yet another reason to get those IT bands under control.)

Finally, I think that my IT bands hurt so much because of all the dodging I did to get around people. I don’t do that in training at all, so doing it in this race just put me over the edge.

So, for now, a week or two off, and then back to training and planning my race card next year. Maybe even a full marathon, who knows.

Acknowledgments

I want to congratulate my wife and sister-in-law for running a great race, it was great to experience that with them.

I want to thank my mom for watching the kids so that we could do this race. It was barely more than a year ago that I sat in a hospital room for a month watching her in a medically induced coma, not knowing if she was going to survive her aneurysm, today she is recovered and doing really well. Thanks for being there for us.

I also wanted to thank Joe for helping me finish the race, it is indescribable how good it is to see a familiar face in a crowd and know that there is someone there rooting for you.

Finally, I want to thank everyone that came out to cheer us on. What an amazing feeling to have this unity and support, I’ll never forget this moment, and the great crowd made it all the better.


YMCA Training Tri 5: Race Report

Yes, race number 5.   What happened to 3 and 4?  Well, I was away on business for 3, and had a bum knee for 4.  My knee is still bothering me, but I wasn’t going to miss the last Wheelere YMCA triathlon for anything.  It was a full sprint race so I wanted to give it my all.

Pre-Race

The morning was pretty normal.  We got there pretty early and I wasn’t nervous at all until I got in the car.  My wife and sister-in-law were doing the race with me.   We walk around a bit saying hi to everyone and trying to shake the nerves.  I thought for sure that I was going to be fine in terms of nerves, but it still got to me even after all these races.

Anyway, after all these months it was great to compete with the same great people we started with.  We headed to the finish line and caught the end of the first and most competitive wave.  Those guys killed it and it was great to see them leaving it all on the course.  After a bit of high-fiving we headed to the pool to setup our transition area and get ready for our start.

Swim

During the last race I was too excited and took off quickly.  It wasn’t long before I burned out.  Leading up to this race I had practiced pacing myself.  I can now slow down when I get a bit tired to allow myself the opportunity to catch my breath.  As I stood in the pool waiting for the start I focused on the task at hand and repeated, “slow down” over and over in my head.  Before I knew it the race was on.  I took off at a quick pace but immediately slowed down.  I felt good, things were working out well.  It didn’t take long for me to get in the groove.  I had 18 laps and I figured it would be 20-22 minutes worth of swimming before I was done.  I made sure not to stop on either side of the pool to catch my breath.  I just wanted to keep going.  I did manage to stop twice during the swim though.  The both times were because I had lost track of what lap I was on and had to do a little mental checklist.  For most of the swim I just kept running the lap number through my head.  Once in a while I would think of something and have to recount.  In the end things worked out pretty well.  I’m happy to say that I did the entire 18 laps without losing form.  I got out of the pool before anyone in my wave, and I had plenty of energy left.  For the first time, I was incredibly happy with my swim.

T1

No issues this time.  My shoes and socks were ready to go and I was in and out of transition in a no time.

Cycling

Unlike last time, I ran into the spin room and setup my bike before getting on.  I spun like a demon and also unlike last time, I felt really really good. I knocked out the 13 miles before I even knew it. As I reached the end of the bike my knees felt fine. I was really nervous about the run. I have the knee trouble when I run with no other exercise. To try to run now after fatiguing my legs with the bike was an unknown.

T2

I spun down and jumped off the bike. My legs were dead so I started slow but by the time I got to the door I was running at a slow clip. Things felt good.

Run

I decided ahead of time that I wasn’t going to concern myself with the run. I would do what I had to do. I managed to run about a mile before things got weird in my leg in the slightest. Shortly after the mile mark I decided to walk. I walked down the first small hill and then started running again. I wasn’t winded at all and I really wanted to run. The last 600 yards or so before the turn around are downhill. By the time I got there my knee was saying hello. I made sure to walk the downhill. I turned around and run up the same hill and another 400 yards before encountering a long downhill slope. There was no way I was going to chance that run. I walked down that hill as the rest of the wave ran up it. I passed my wife, my sister-in-law and everyone else. I felt like a loser walking past them, but I knew it was the right thing to do for my long term health.

Once I got to the bottom of the hill I started running. I must have been running pretty well because I started to get winded. My knee was holding up pretty well actually, although it did still feel tight and a little sore. Instead of being slowed by my knee, I was actually getting winded from the run! I considered walking, just for a minute. Then I saw a guy come running out of his house. He was just starting his run.

I watched him just maybe a block or so ahead of me. I thought nothing of it, except…all of a sudden I realized that I was gaining on him. Those competitive juices started to flow. The thought that I had just swum 1/2 a mile, biked 13, and ran nearly 3 and I was still catching this guy on fresh legs made me run faster. He was oblivious to the fact that he was racing with me, but who cares.

I blasted past him and never looked back. I ran right to the finish without even feeling tired. I cross the line then jogged back to catch my wife. I ran her back to the finish and was happy that everything was done. My knee felt ok. I was thrilled! I had completed my first sprint triathlon and I didn’t feel half as tired as I did after the first short tri.

Times

Swim: 20:03 (1/2 mile)

T1: 5:36 (I think this was miscounted which explains why my bike time was best overall)

Bike: 23:34 (13 miles (I think at least 4 minutes from T1 should be in here)

T2: 0:15

Run: 34:02 (3.1 Miles)

Total: 1:22:30

Place:  24/41  (up 7 places from last race)


2010 O’Hartford 5K: Race Report

Summary

This was the first race that my wife and I have ever done!  To think not long ago we would have laughed at the thought of it.  In fact, just a few months ago the thought of running 3 miles was unfathomable.  A couple of years ago I started working out and trying to get into shape.  I thought running was something I would do for some aerobic workout.  I got out at night and ran a two mile loop.  I had to stop to walk 3 times over that loop.  It took me nearly as long to do that loop as it takes me to run 3 miles now, and it turns out that the 2 mile loop was only about 1.7 miles.  Now here we were, registered and ready to run 3.1 miles through the streets of Hartford with over a thousand other people.

Pre-Race

Nothing to tell here really.  The race was a late start 1:00PM w0ot!  So life was normal until about noon when we drove over.  The weather forecast wasn’t great.  Upper 40’s and a high chance of rain.  We packed some clothes in case we needed to dry off after the race.  The race was right by my office so we dropped our stuff there and headed down to warm up and stretch a little.  We watched some kids run the wee-mile, and decided that our kids would do it next year.  Then we warmed up in a nearby building waiting for our race to start.  It was amazing how many people were out there.  The race had a best costume contest and a lot of people wore lots of green outfits.  The one that stood out most to me was the Jolly Green Giant.  Very funny.

The Race

As the start time got closer we got into the street and waited for the start.  The street was packed with racers and everyone was pretty close together.  As the seconds stretched on towards the start of the race I could feel the energy coming over me.  There was electricity in the air and the closer we got to the start, the more fidgety everyone seemed to get.  I looked over the crowd with my virgin eyes, not knowing what expect, but excited at the prospect.  The race announcer’s voice boomed in the air, and the front of the pack was off and running.  A collective yell came out from the runners and the crowd…but despite the excitement, the racers in front of me started in fits.  A few steps forward, and stop, a few steps forward and stop.  I kissed my wife, who was standing there sharing the energy of the crowd, and then slowly, mercifully, we were off.

The Long Mile

The first several hundred feet were slow going.  The road was clogged with runners and there was no way to make headway.  As we made the first turn, the road opened up and I slipped to the left into a relatively open pocket and picked up my pace.  The second turn onto Main Street followed shortly thereafter and the road opened wider.  It was a sight to behold.  The city seemed to pause just for us.  Roads closed, police officers holding off the impending flow of traffic as we ran along the streets like a mob.

People were working through the crowd as the giant race sifter shook the slow people to the back and the fast people to the front.  Time and time again blurs passed by me as if they were egging me on to chase them.  At one point a young girl cut out in front of me and slowed to a crawl.  I worked my way around her thinking to myself how careless some people were to not even look behind them when the moved around and slowed down.  As I shot past her I thought of all the blog entries I’ve read from various women racers who complain about over taking a man only to have him pass them in a fit of machismo.  I contemplated for a second if I would end up a footnote on her blog post, or a weirdo on her Twitter feed.  I didn’t care, I just wanted to go.  It wasn’t long before we were off of Main Street.  I continued my run.  At this point I noticed that, although the road looked the same, it was getting considerably harder to keep running.  I couldn’t place it, but I was tired.

I wondered  if I was running too fast.  What was my pace?  How would I know?  I regretted not laying out the race better so that I would be able to tell where each mile was.  I was sure we were past the mile mark at that point.  My calves and shins started to get sore.   I shook it off and pressed on.  The thoughts kept coming.  Was I burning myself out?  What is going on here?  As I ran I looked at the area around me.  It was very familiar to me.  I used to hang out in this area of Park Street as a kid.  I ran past the barbershop a high school friend’s dad owned.  I ran past the apartment of the dream girl in my high school, who was at one time unattainable, and who not long after, I threw out of my car for paying attention to my belongings instead of paying attention to me–I can’t stand materialistic people.  I ran past the street where I almost lost my life when a friend of mine and I were chased down by a gang.  The street was full of memories of where I was from, where I had been, and now, a new memory of where I am going.

Mile Two

Within a few minutes, I passed the mile marker…wait…that was only a mile?  What on earth is going on?  To make matters worse, I looked at my watch and noticed that I was running slower, not faster than usual at a 10:20 pace.  The race sifter had finished its sifting and now I was running with people who were slower than I wanted to be, I had been sifted out!  I then came to the next realization.  I had been running on a false flat for nearly half a mile.  That explained it.  I picked up the pace as soon as the road flattened out.  It wasn’t long, however, before I saw a monster hill looming in front of me.  I had driven on this road countless times, I had never ever noticed the hill.  How could it be?

I leaned into the hill and slugged my way over it.  I was working hard now, and I could feel the burning in my calves and my shin.  I tried not to slow down.  It was at this point that I realized that I was really hot.  My hands were sweaty, and my upper body was drenched.  At the top of the hill I found the water station.  I contemplated not getting any water because I didn’t need it and I didn’t want to slow my pace.  As I approached the table the crowd of racers opened up and I was able to grab a cup without slowing down too much.  I tried to sip the water as I ran, however, that was not really happening.  I got a few sips then dumped the rest down my back.  Oh what a glorious feeling that was.  Totally amazing!

As I started the descent, the idea came over me that I should run faster.  I really wanted to beat my training pace of 10:00, but more importantly, I wanted to at least match it.  I figured that I would have plenty of time to catch my breath after the downhill.  That was until I turned the corner and found an even bigger hill to climb.  I just about gasped at the look of it.  If you had asked me a week ago if there were any hills in Hartford I would have said no.  In fact, I remember telling my wife that this was going to be a much flatter race than any of our training runs.  Oh how I was wrong.  I trudged along, however, and tried my best to keep my pace.  I passed the second mile marker and noted that I was now at a 10:09 pace.

Mile 3

I made the turn onto Capital Avenue, and there were two people there cheering us on.  I saw a woman on the sidewalk with her child looking into the crowd of runners with an eagle eye.  At that moment I knew that I would want…no need…to have my children there to guide me through the half marathon in October.  In my darkest moment they would lift me up and I would float to the finish, I just felt it.  As I made it up Capitol Avenue, I reviewed my race plan, or rather I should say the idea that I had about how to finish.  I had planned to turn the corner in front of the Bushnell Theater and sprint in to the finish.  I wanted to finish strong and leave it all out there on the streets of Hartford.  Even though I was tired and my sneakers were hurting the soles of my feet (again) I knew I had to do it.  As I approached the state capitol building, a barricade on the side of the road forced me to move right.  I was trapped among a group of runners so I had to either slow down, or speed up.  I chose to speed up and it felt good, really good, so I kept going.  I zigged and zagged through the crowd of runners.  I felt strong as I blasted past people, the race sifter be damned.  As I turned the corner I saw the arch.  The arch was not the end of the race, but it was pretty close to it.  As I looked down the road, my heart sank.  I can’t make it at this pace, I just can’t.  Then I said to myself, yes you can, you can try, you can make it as far as you can, and you can crawl the rest of the way if you have to.  So I ran, I ran down the hill and through the arch passing person after person.  As I turned the corner after the arch I couldn’t see the finish line yet.  I knew I was done, I had to stop now.  Just as that thought entered my head, I heard through the corner of my ear (do ears have corners?  maybe mine do) a man in his late 50’s say to his running partner, we can break 30.  Suddenly they were off.  I think they may have had rockets on their feet because humans can’t possibly run that fast.  I don’t know if it was animal instinct, or just stupidity, but as they passed me my legs just picked up the pace.  I was chasing them.  It was like my legs had taken off on their own and I couldn’t stop them.

The two runners pulled away, their rockets firing in perfect synchronicity, but I kept running as fast as I could.  Every time I thought I was out of gas, my eyes would lock onto someone in front of me and I would say, I am passing them.  I did that ‘terminator eye lock’ time and time again.  It fueled me and I started running faster.  As I barreled into the shoot I heard a blur on my left say “slow down, slow down,” and all I could think was, “yeah right, slow down my ass,” as I rocketed through the timing mats.

My heart was pounding out of my chest and I was gasping for air, but I was thrilled.  I couldn’t believe that I had found that energy, that reserve hiding in there.

My wife and sister-in-law did really well too, and they came in just after I did.  I’m not sure what happened though, because I didn’t see them come through the shoot, and they didn’t see me either.  I was kind of sad about that, I wanted to watch them run through the shoot, but we reconnected a few minutes later.  They were both as happy as I was with the event.  It was a great race, and I hope to do it again next year.

Once again I can see that this whole athletic thing is mental.  Your body has more to offer than most people realize.  If I can push myself this much now, what on earth is on tap for me as my conditioning improves?  I don’t know, by I can’t wait to find out.

Results

5K  Timing Chip Time: 0:29:37 (Pace 9:33 yay!)

Place: 868/1545 overall (by timing chip not overall time)| 59/72 age group

Weather Clothes

Layer 8 long sleeve shirt, Layer 8 running pants.

Temperature: 50 degrees, overcast and windy

I felt a bit warm, however, once the race was over I was very cold.  I need to figure out a way to pack something that will keep me warm post race.


YMCA Training Tri 2: Race Report

I’ve been a bit delayed in writing this for a couple of reasons.  I’ve had some things come up that have made things a little crazy.  More importantly, however, I am a bit disappointed in my results, more on that later.

Pre-Race

The race happened to fall on my wife’s birthday.  So in the morning I got up, got the kids out of bed, made breakfast and took it up to my wife along with some cards that the kids put together for her.  After that I had an english muffin and coffee.  We didn’t have to be at the event until 10:15 (I know, what luxury) so there was no rush, and we had plenty of time to let the nerves build up.  I have no idea why I was nervous.  It’s not like there was any money at stake.  My how the mind plays tricks on you.  Although I had felt like I was coming down with something for several days throughout the week, I felt fine the morning of the race.  The only issue I had was a bit of a stiff neck, probably stress related, and really tight hamstrings.  By about 9:30 we were off.

We arrived at the Y in time to see the first wave take off.  We watched them swim almost effortlessly.  Within about 15 minutes my nerves gave way to hunger.  I was famished, I have no idea why.  Luckily  there were granola bars and bananas available and I gobbled up a granola bar greedily.  Then it was time to get started.

Swim

As usual, my heart was pounding.  It calmed me a little to talk to people I knew, and having my wife in the lane next to me helped as well.  I’ve found that with the swim it takes me some time to get warmed up.  Unfortunately, I peak about 2 seconds later so I only get about one or two good strokes in there.  As I took off, I went slow and steady.  I learned my lesson from last time and managed to conserve some energy rather than fly off like a bat out of hell.  I felt strong in the water and made the first turn without pausing for air.  As I finished my second lap I could tell from the excitement of the people counting off my laps that I was doing well.  I stopped for a second to take a breath and realized I was the only one on this side of the pool.  This time it wasn’t because I was slow, I was actually a full length ahead of everyone.  How could that be?  I continued on, my chest puffed out with pride.  That didn’t last long.  Around the 6th or 7th lap I started to get tired.  Not panicky tired like last time, but just tired.  My form got sloppy and I needed longer and longer breaks on either end of the pool.  I had gotten into slog mode, and was just slogged out the laps.  At one point around the 9th lap I stopped at the far end of the pool at the same time as the guy next to me.  He looked as beat as I felt.  We had been in the same wave last time, and he had beat me by 3 lengths.  He looked over and said, “this is crazy” I looked back and panted “Yeah this should be the race, we still have to bike and run.”  I forged onward.  My form collapsing as my body tired.  I never panicked this time around.  I just slogged.   In retrospect, I don’t know which is worse.  At least when I panicked I was relieved to be out of the pool.  I was still one of the first few out of the pool.  But not by much.  This time as I climbed out of the pool I stood on solid legs, unlike my last rubber legs experience.

T1

As I made my way to T1 I noticed how calm I was this time.  No tunnel vision, no hyperventilation.   I walked over to the bench where my stuff was.  The place was a mess.  There were shirts and towels everywhere.  I couldn’t even see my shoes.  All the shirts were the same color (darn team shirts) so I struggled to get my stuff together.  I had rolled my socks so that I could just unroll them onto my wet feet, and I had placed them in my running shoes.  I reached into my left shoe and pulled out the sock.  I reached into the right one and there was nothing there.  No sock.  I checked, I checked again, I even dug my hand deep into the shoe, but nothing.  I search around frantically.  The sock was gone!  In the meantime my wife had made her way to T1 and was getting ready.  She must have been in a haze because I repeated that my sock was missing 3 times before she realized what I had said.  I gave up looking for it and ran into the locker room.  I had a gym bag with me and I hoped that I would be able to find a sock.  I didn’t want to end up destroying my feet like last time.  It took me 3 tries before I was able to unlock my combination lock.  I rooted around for my sock and found one.  I threw on the mismatched socks, threw on my shoes, and ran to the spin bikes.

Cycling

As I started the bike portion of the race I knew that the fight was leaving me.  In my rush to get started I forgot to adjust the seat and handlebar positions on the bike.  I know this is not going to be an issue in a real triathlon, but it still hurt.  I spent the first 5 minutes adjusting things while I was riding.  I kept thinking that this was close enough, but then I would get uncomfortable.  When I finally got situated I tried to hit the bike hard.  My legs felt like lead.  I didn’t understand why I was having so much trouble maintaining my pace.  It was brutal and I once again found myself slogging my way through the bike.  I fought in vain to catch up to my wife.  She was pedaling furiously.  I couldn’t believe how long she was able to keep the cadence of her bike in the 110-120 range.  When I started on the bike I was a half mile behind her.  Despite my attempts to make headway, when she got off her bike I was still a mile away.  She had actually pulled away from me on the bike!  I let her speed push me faster.  I spun the bike up for the last mile and before I knew it I was done.

T2

T2 is hardly worth the mention.  I ran out the door, down the hall, and onto the treadmill next to my wife.  My legs were rubbery but they were still working.

Run

As I got on the treadmill I ran through the mental checklist.  I was wearing socks, CHECK!  I knew the 2.25 miles wasn’t going to be a problem, I mean, I had just done a 5k not too long ago.  So things were all in order.  I set the treadmill to 1 for an incline as I was instructed to do this time around, and I set the treadmill to 6.  That is a comfortable pace for me, at least during my 5K run.  I started to run and was thrilled that I didn’t feel the knives cutting into my feet this time.  About half a mile in something happened.  I felt a strange burning in my calves.  At first I couldn’t tell what it was, but then I felt my shins burning too.  It dawned on me that I was getting legs craps.  I audibly mumbled “Oh Come ON!” to myself.  I couldn’t believe that I was going to have this issue today.  This was my day to shine.  I had conquered the swim demon.  I wore socks, come on!  Ok, fine, it is hurting, but this is supposed to hurt, remember?  I will just ignore it.  I focused on pushing the pain away.  But I couldn’t.  Shortly after it started I had to slow down.  I dropped to a 3MPH pace to walk and try to get a stretch in.  After a few moments the agony of going so slowly surpassed the agony of the cramps.  I cycled back and forth this way, cramps giving way to frustration and vice versa.  I looked over at my wife, she was a woman on a mission.  She had a look of determination on her face, in that moment I was so proud of her.  I realized that it didn’t matter what happened to me, this was her birthday, and she was shining.

With only 3/4 of a mile left I hit it back to 6.  I told myself “there is no stop button…there is no stop button.”  Unfortunately my eyes were drawn inexplicably to the big red stop button as if to say “oh yeah, what’s that thing?”  I pulled out all of the motivational crap out of the toolbox to throw at this problem but nothing worked.  I thought of my kids, I thought of my spin instructor yelling “press it” I looked out the windows.  I did it all.  I just couldn’t hold on.  I slowed it back down.  With the last 1/4 mile looming in the distance I pushed the treadmill to 8.  I crushed it and gave it all I had.  I just couldn’t do it.  I screamed to myself “ok fine, but I’m not going lower than 6.”  It’s funny how something that used to feel horrible can be a relief under the right conditions.  As the treadmill slowed to 6 I found myself thinking, well 6 doesn’t feel so bad now, does it?

When I hit the 2.25 mile mark I stopped the treadmill.  Unfortunately, I also stopped running right around then and I rolled right off the back of the treadmill.  Under ordinary circumstances I would have been ok, but my legs were a wobbly and cramped mess.  As I slipped off the back end I fell face first towards the still moving treadmill.  I heard a collective gasp from the people around me as I fell.  I had the presence of mind to put my hands out on either side of the belt and catch myself before causing any damage.  A group of people came rushing over to me, but I was up and running to the last checkpoint before they got me.  I assured them that I was fine.  My wife later told me that everyone was worried about my cramping.  I guess they were watching me closely as I fell.  What a spectacle.  Here’s to doing better next time.  It can’t be much worse can it?

Times

Swim: 14:07 (650 Yards)

T1: 3:03 (darn sock)

Bike: 22:33 (10 miles)

T2: 0:15

Run: 24:30 (2.25 Miles)

Total: 1:04:28

Place:  31/40


2010 – First Triathlon: Race Results

Intro

Today was my first triathlon event.  It is part of the YMCA training series, so the distances were very short, and it was indoors because it is winter here.  The distances were  1/4 mile swim, 9 miles on a spin bike, and 2 miles running on a treadmill.  I was excited about the event, but really nervous about my leg.  I was still feeling pretty sore from the severe cramp I got on Friday.  Even though I spent all day Saturday taking it easy and keeping the leg warm, it was still feeling pretty bad this morning.  Once I got in the pool, however, it didn’t bother me at all.  It had no impact whatsoever on my performance.  I sucked all on my own.

Times

Swim:17:53 (450 Yards)

T1: 1:59

Bike: 20:35 (9 miles)

T2: 0:10

Run: 21:58 (2 Miles)

Total: 1:02:08

Place:  33/37

Summary

My first race went relatively well.  Relative being the operative term.  I had nearly the worst swim time (I think only one person was slower) but I was pretty strong on the other events.  Considering how much I put off all my other training, I am pretty happy with the results.  At this point finishing was victory enough.  My wife did much better than I did, she placed 29th (Yay Miriam!).  Although my swim time was slow compared to everyone else, it was my personal best.  I did it about 4 minutes faster than I had in training.  I felt it though, I was sucking wind pretty bad by the end and I know I need to get my form perfected if I hope to even be in the game come a real race.

Pre-Race

My wife and I volunteered to help out.  We were in charge of timing the bike leg of the race for the first 3 waves.  It was a bit intimidating trying to keep track of everyone running in and out of the spinning room.  It really didn’t help our nerves any.  When we got relieved we ran over to the pool area and waited anxiously for our wave to start.  I was pretty nervous, but it was nice to be there with my wife because it helped keep me at least a little more calm than I would have been otherwise.  I swam a little back and forth to warm up then just waited for the start.

Swim

My wife tells me that I took off like a rocket when they called start.  I don’t really remember.  I do know that I was winded after just the first lap.  By the second lap my wife had caught up to me.  She added to her lead each lap.  By the time she was finishing her last length I still had 2 whole laps to go.  Just goes to show, slow and steady does win the race.

A couple of notes on the swim.  My form was a disaster.  I struggled mightily to get through the swim.  I could feel the wake from the other swimmers pulling at me.  I thought several times, holy crap what will it be like in open water?  I was the last one out of the pool in my wave.  In fact, I still had a lap left when the last swimmer got out.  I was getting cheers as I went in for lap 8, and had to let everyone know I still had one to go.  That last length felt great though since I could see the light at the end of the tunnel (well maybe that was me nearing death)!

As I got out of the pool I was gasping for air, my heart was pounding, and my legs were shot.  I obviously was using way too much legs in my swim.  I have to work on that.  I decided to just throw my running shoes on, with no socks, and head for the spin bike.  That was a decision I would later come to regret.

Bike

There really wasn’t a lot to talk about on the bike.  I got on after a quick transition, and plugged away at it.  I didn’t feel winded or tired.  I was a bit nervous getting out of the pool with such wobbly legs.  I thought that I would struggle through the rest of the events.  I had no issues though.  Once I got off the bike I booked to the treadmills for the run.

Run

I had a couple of issues on the treadmills.  At first I couldn’t figure out where the distance was located.  I ran for a few minutes before realizing that the last person’s distance hadn’t been reset.  I stopped the treadmill, reset the time, and started over.  I felt beat right away, I didn’t know how I was going to do 2 miles.  At the 1/4 mile mark I started feeling like a rock was in my left running shoe.  They were brand new so I knew that wasn’t the case.  I thought maybe the tongue had gotten messed up or something.  I thought about stopping to adjust it, but then decided to just press on.  At the half mile mark I started getting the exact same feeling on my right foot.  By this time, the rock feeling in my left foot started feeling more like small nails scratching at me.  I closed my eyes for a second and thought, ok Nelson, when you run a marathon it is going to hurt, so just push through it.  I focused on my run and ignored the pain.  At the mile mark I thought, oh man, I can’t do this, it is too far.  Then I thought, wait, why do I think I can’t do this?  I ran through a mental check list.  My legs feel fine, I’m not winded, my heart rate seems ok, I can do this, in fact this is easy.  Immediately after running through that checklist I felt like I could run forever.  I was running at a pace of about an 11 minute mile, and I wasn’t even breathing hard.  I knew I would be fine.  I told myself that once I get to within a quarter mile of the finish I am going to sprint, heck, maybe I’ll get to a 9 minute mile!  As I approached the 1/4 mile mark one of the people that had organized the event came up to me and said, ok now you need to crank it and finish strong.  I bumped the machine up to an 8 minute mile and ran like Forest Gump.  I made it to the end just before I was about to run out of gas.  I jumped off the treadmill and ran to the finish.

It felt amazing to get through my first tri.  And, even though I was near the bottom of the group, I still felt like a winner.  I know if I can get my running up to snuff, and shave about 50% off my swim time, I can be in the thick of it.  All in all, it was a lot of fun.  I’m very glad I did this, and I look forward to doing another one next month.  But ugh, it is going to be longer :(.

Lessons Learned

  • Wear socks when I run, ouchie.  After I got out of the shower, I put on my socks and felt immediate pain.  My feet must have been rubbing against the netting in the shoe which caused the rock and nails feeling as I ran.  As a result the skin on the inner arch of both soles of my feet had been rubbed raw.  It burned when I put my socks on, and felt worse when I put my shoes on.  When I got home I put antibacterial cream and bandages on my feet and I felt much better.  Clearly the combination of wet feet and new shoes was not good.
  • Get better at swimming, my goal is to half my swim time by the time we get to the 1/2 mile swim.  That means I need to do the full half mile in the same time I did this 1/4 mile, or faster.
  • Don’t ignore the running.  I think I can actually do well in the running, I found that I had a ton of endurance today, if I can get faster and maintain the endurance, I think I can do really well.

  • The Narcissist Section (a.k.a. Me Me Me)

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