Archive for June, 2011

Wing Trails Take Two

I did my second tri today. In hindsight it was probably a bad idea to even go. Work was nuts and I was both stressed out and running late. I had to scarf down dinner in the car and use the bathroom at winding trails.

As I lined up at the swim start I felt fairly confident. When the horn blew I found a gap and dove in. I focused on being relaxed and tried to work on sighting. I am terrible at that so instead I just followed the rope line which I could see every time I took a breath. I only ran into one person, so no issues with the stops and starts like last time.

In fact, I nearly swam right passed the turn around. I ended up seeing the buoy just in time and taking the turn wide. I woman was in the water next to me, and as I approached her she flipped on her back, and then flipped back. We matched each other matched stroke for stroke. I’m not sure what happened next exactly. I think I was distracted such that I stopped thinking about swim stuff. I think I was holding my breath AND kicking, so that I actually couldn’t catch my breath. I think I was hyperventilating.

I flipped on my back but it felt weird, and I still couldn’t catch my breath. I started swimming towards the ropes and ended up seeing how far I was from shore. It seemed like I was a long way off, and my mind really got to me. I started pulling myself along the rope. Of course I would have been DQ’d in a real tri, but I just didn’t care. I finally caught my breath enough to swim, and before long I was on the shore.

I walked to my towel both absolutely spent, and mad at my self. As I got to my towel I heard a guy say, “he looks spent” another guy responds “yeah he was the one pulling himself on the rope.” Nice right?

I was really spent, they were right. I ran to transition, and got on the bike. Once again I struggled to get going. It was brutal. Lots of people passed me on the bike, not as many as before, but it was still brutal. My legs were burning at I was gasping for air.

I finally got off the bike and started the run. It felt like my legs were lead. The whole run felt more like a jog. It was brutal. Of course I. Got passed by two 12 year olds in the back Half of the mile, brutal. Although the mile felt really slow, I did a 9:41 which is pretty good for me.

The final time was 39 and change, a 6 minute improvement over last time despite the struggle. I’m not happy, but close enough. I have a lot to improve on for next time, including getting over my fear of swimming.

Weekend’s Activities

Yes, I am actually working out again, what a concept.

On Saturday I did a tabata workout that my wife put together.  It was leg focused in an attempt to strengthen my running muscles.  No more injuries this year, that’s the goal.

Then it was off to the pool for a few laps.

Sunday was bike maintenance and day, so I lube and cleaned three bikes and the group of us went for the first ride of the year.  I am still getting acclimated to riding my bike, but my comfort level is getting up there.  I am even considering putting my big boy peddles on soon.  We’ll see how it goes.

This week I hope to get a few runs in, another Winding Trails Tri, and this weekend will be an open water swim/bike/run brick workout in an attempt to get myself comfortable enough to sign up for Ocean Beach Triathlon.  Let’s see how it goes.

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.


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.


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.

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.

Winding Trails Triathlon Series Preview

Yesterday officially opened the tri season with the Winding Trails Triathlon series preview.  Anyone could attend for free and try the bike/ride/ and swim of their choice.

We did the course for the tiny tri which is a 200 yard swim, a 5K trail ride, and a 1 mile trail run.  It was my first time on the trails with my mountain bike and holy cow what an adventure.  Everything was going great until the first steep descent.  I rode the brakes for the first few feet and then let it go.  I don’t what speed I got up to, but I do know that it was scary fast for me.  I tried to stop but started fishtailing.  I tapped the brakes once more and got more of the same.  I final got control by hitting front and rear brakes lightly at the same time, and gradually slowed to a crawl.  Whew.

My quads were still burning from my volunteer work at Rev3.  Taking the chips off of 1200 people really ads up to maybe 1000 squats, that made pounding up the hills really tough.  The big rings on my mountain bike weren’t shifting right so I had to grind it out with the middle gear and whatever I had in the back.  My legs burned so much that I couldn’t wait to be done.  I actually had to walk it up the crest of one hill.  Ouch.

The run was great, and the swim was good too.  The wetsuit really helps my confidence.  It’s like being a cork.  I even enjoyed it enough to notice a small trout at the bottom of the lake.

Lots of fun, I can’t wait until I can do a real one, maybe next week!

Rev 3 Tri – Volunteer Report

I’m not quite ready to swim 1.2 miles yet, but I am ready to volunteer for the Rev3 Triathlon at Quassy.

I started the day in the swim start area keeping non-racers off the beach.  It was cool being there and watching all of the nervous athletes.  I know what it’s like to have those pre-race jitters.  Mine involve fear of drowning, but still, I can relate.

As the racers went off wave by wave it was amazing to see all of those people stretched out in the lake.  Once the racers were off we got started on putting the starting area away.  All the metal fencing, and everything else had to be picked up.

From there I went to the swim transition area and helped hand out water aid the aid station.

A short walk through the now empty transition area and I was ready to watch the pros come back in on the bike.  I couldn’t believe how fast they were going.  They were at mile 30 before the last person was even out of the water.

I watched the guys come in with their ultra-smooth, and ultr-fast transitions, and run out like they didn’t have a care in the world.  Then the women did the same.

Then it was off to volunteer at the finish.

Last year when I volunteered it was terribly hot and humid.  This time the weather was perfect.

I was in charge of taking off the timing chips and spent all afternoon squatting down and pulling people’s chips.  It was amazing to see the mix of emotions for all of the athletes.

The pros ranged from indifferent to thrilled to downright pissed (DKT).  I was particularly impressed by Terenzo Bozzone.  When I took off his chip I said congratulations and great race.  He gave me a huge smile and shook my hand firmly.  He seemed to be a genuinely great guy.  I hadn’t really been rooting for anyone in particular, but I am now a big fan of his.

The women were great too.  Julie Dibens won this year after struggling last year, and Marinda Carfrae came in second.  They were both great, but Mirinda is still my favorite.

The rest of the time was spent welcoming in age groupers.  They were all great some were in tears just to have made it, others were furious because of their time.  Some gave it everything and needed assistance to get to the med tent, or just to walk to a shady spot to rest.  It’s cool to get to meet the pros, but it’s an incredible honor to help those other athletes who are there to prove to themselves that they can do anything.

I was move to tears so many times by so many people.  The man who ran over the finish hand in hand with his father, they were so excited that the hung and kissed each other at the finish line.  I could see the pride in the father’s eyes, and the love in the son’s.  It was amazing to share that, and to hope to be that father one day for my children.

The numerous parents who ran through the finish with their little children, all so proud of their parents.

The older athletes, in their 60’s and 70’s looking fresh after completing 70.3 miles.

And then everyone else who made it through to the finish, congrats to you all, it was a pleasure to meet each and every one of you.

Now it’s time for me to get serious about my training, I have some races to do, and my training has been a bit lax.

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

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