Archive for August, 2011

Winding Trails Triathlon Race Report 8-16

[[Note: This report is pretty over due, I have been pretty busy with work and life, so I have been working on this in sections]]

The last tri in the series snuck up on me quickly.  I couldn’t believe that the fun was almost over.  I was planning to do the longer full sprint, but my wife convinced me to do the tiny tri again.  And by convince I mean she said “Want to do the tiny tri?” and I said yes.  I was determined to have a good swim after the last two or three rough ones.  how did it go?  Erm, Yeah.


Like I said, I was determined to have a good swim.  I was pretty nervous still, but I made my way to the front of the pack.  It’s a tough thing to do because everyone wants to start in front, even the slower swimmers, so I got as close as I could.  I could hear my heart beating it was racing so much.  The horn went off and I dove in.  I swam between a few people, sighted here and there, and after what seemed like a long time, I ended up at the turn.  I swam around the turn and headed back.  I was more or less alone the whole way.  People in front of me were swimming at least at my pace, and no one caught up from behind.  I did stop a couple of times and found that I was floating pretty well, which is encouraging.  I came out of the water breathing heavy, but otherwise feeling good.


What can I say, it was what it was.  I put on my shoes and made the trek up to the bike.  It’s a long run, and that makes it take deceptively long time to get to the bike.


I wanted to go hard on the bike.  I had newly adjusted my front derailleur, which is a long and complicated story, which had given me so many issues, and felt like maybe my chain wouldn’t pop off this time.  I also had adjusted my seat to a proper height and thought that I was really in a good place to push it.  Thankfully I wasn’t nearly as winded as I had been in previous races, so I gave it a go.  I was hammering the bike, I passed a number of people for a change, and things were feeling great.

About 2/3 of the way through the course there is a section with a lot of sand.  There is a way to get around the sand by following a track on a narrow berm to the right of the sand pit.  I had done that before, and went for it again this time.  I hit the berm just right, and then noticed that there was a big divot in it.  Before I could even react my front tire fell in the hole and I flew over my handlebars and on my side.  It was in slow motion.  I felt my shoulder hit, and then my head slam into the ground.  The good news is that my helmet stopped me from hurting my head.  I got up, looked the bike over and tried to ride but I heard some rubbing.  I pulled off to the side and worked on trying to figure out where the rubbing was coming from.  Eventually it went away, I still don’t know what it was.  I jumped on the bike and took off.

While I was figuring things out my wife passed me, asked how I was, and when she saw I was fine she kept going.

I chased her through the rest of the trail, but because of a couple of tactical errors, I had to walk a hill and never saw her on the bike again.  The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful.


There isn’t much to say, dropped the bike off, threw off the helmet, and headed out on the run.


I could see my wife not far ahead of me and I thought it would be cool to finish right with her.  She says she is a slow runner, and typically she is at least a minute or more slower than I am.  Catching up to her won’t be a problem I thought.  I ran through the trails and my heart rate and breathing were out of control.  I couldn’t make a dent on her lead.  Eventually I sprinted to catch her.  I ended up beside her with about 1/4 mile to go.  My breathing was erratic, just really huffing and puffing.  About 100 yards later she dropped me.  I just couldn’t keep up!  She ran through the shoot about 30 seconds before me.

Even with all of those issues, I finished with a PR.  I don’t have an official time because my timing chip ended up somewhere on the bottom of the lake, but I did a decent job of setting my stopwatch splits.

Race Results

Total time: 37:02

Swim time: 4:44 (200 yards, good pace for me)

T1: 3:02 (a really long transition run)

Bike: 20:08 (3 miles)

T2: 0:01 ( I just tapped the button twice)

Run: 9:08 (That is a zippy pace for me, and wow, my wife killed it!)

All in all I was happy with my race.  It gives me a little confidence boost for my tri in Madison.  Oh, and I got a nice souvenir too:

Scraped up shoulder

Unintentional Hell Ride

OK, so, there are times when you really want to crush yourself into oblivion (OK so I’ve heard that some people have those desires, whatever), but this what I endured this weekend was completely accidental.

My wife and I decided to have an adventure weekend for our anniversary.  We spent an amazing Saturday at Brownstone Park.  If you like the water, this is the place for you.  You can swim, play on obstacles in the water, kayak, and zip line.  It was a blast.

My wife and I tested out our new wetsuits with a quick swim.  We both bought Xterra Vortex 3 wetsuits (more on those in a later post) and wanted to get used to them.  We are both really tentative swimmers, and with our first open water tris looming in the horizon we needed to get used to swimming in them.

The good news is that the buoyancy that the wetsuits provides makes open water swimming that much more doable.  We had a blast that day and had a great dinner that night.

The next morning had a bike ride on the schedule.  We set out for a 30 mile bike ride through the eastern half of CT.  I knew it was going to be hilly, but we were going to test our limits.  Unfortunately the trip was pretty last minute so I literally mapped out a route minutes before leaving the house with my 2 year old climbing all over me.  We started the ride and it was tough.  We about collapsed (actually my wife literally did) on the way up a large hill in Glastonbury.  We had figured it would be a 2 and a half hour ride.  About an hour and change we were at mile 13.  That’s when things got ugly.  The route turned abruptly into a gravel “road.”  Before long we were walking it.

About 1/4 mile later we passed a jogger and I asked how long before the gravel ended, and he said maybe 1/2 mile further down the road there was a turn off.  Great!  We walked on and 1/2 mile later there was a turn, but the gravel continued.  There was a small paved path leading the way the directions had mapped it, but that was all.  We got back on the bikes to follow the paved path, and when I went to clip in my right foot I couldn’t.  it just kept slipping.  That’s when I realized that my clip had broken off somewhere in the gravel.  I figured it was a lost cause to try to search for it, so I clipped in one foot and headed down the trail.  About 1/4 mile later the pavement ended and so did any semblance of civilization.  The route that I had mapped out had a turn onto reservoir road.  Reservoir Rd. as it turned out, was a dirt path trail through the forest.  We literally forded several streams through the trail.  I took my shoes off and did the best i could to carry my bike, drop it off, go back to my wife, carry her bike, drop it off, etc.  Luckily I had my iPhone so I could check the route and see we were headed in the right direction (gmaps still said we were on reservoir Rd btw.

Finally, through the brush, we could see the road ahead.  For the first time in maybe an hour, I was excited.  That hope was soon deflated when we got to the next gravel road!

My wife flagged down a truck and asked how long before the gravel ended, and he said at least 2 miles.  Ugh.  We tried to ride but we were sliding all over the place.  I was too afraid of breaking of my only remaining cleat and then being stranded with no way to pedal, so I decided to walk in my socks.  We walked the next 2 miles watching google for signs of life.  I noticed that the road we were on intersected another road and thought that had to be where the gravel ended.  When we got there it was still gravel.  The time was flying by, and it was 3 and 1/2 hours since we started the 2 and 1/2 hour  bike ride and we were still on gravel.  Finally, up in the distance, almost like a mirage was chip seal.  I was never so happy to see chip seal in my life.

My wife suggested that we find a more direct route (we still had another 13 miles at this point) and I found a 6 mile route that would get us back.  We rode the rest of the way to the car without too much in the way of incidents.  I did have a lot of issues making up any hills since I was really only able to push down hard using my left leg.  It sure was a great one legged workout though.

As an added reminder of that painful day the soles of my feet hurt so much from walking in socks over the gravel that I can barely walk at this point.

[Update: 2 weeks later my feet still bother me if I step on anything out of the ordinary, like the fringe of our Persian rug.  I can run now, so that’s good.]

Juxtaposition – Then and Now

After thinking about the last post, I thought it would be interesting to compare my thoughts last year to those now.

Back in February of 2010 I wrote:

I started with a few laps just as a warm up.   About a month ago I could barely do a length, it’s kind of funny now to think that I could knock two laps off just to warm up.  At any rate, I then tried to do my laps.  I just couldn’t pull it together long enough to do more than 2 or 3 in a row.  It was disappointing.  After a while of thrashing it out, I decided that I should go to the bathroom.  Why do I always have to pee within 5 minutes of getting in the pool?

When I got back I felt better and ready to go, and go I did.  I started swimming and didn’t stop.  I pushed past 6 laps and thought “I can do 9.”  Then I got to 9 and thought, sheesh it’s only two more I can do this.  By the time I started lap 10 my arms were like lead.  They were somehow both numb and super-sensitive.  I can’t really explain it other than to say, I felt like they were cutting through the water like it was air, it felt like your mouth feels with novocaine, except that I had a heightened perception of the air bubbles running over my arms.  It was such a strange feeling.  I slugged it out though, and I got all 11 laps, 550 yards.  When I got out my legs were fresh and ready to go.  I think I have may figured this whole swim thing out.

Then yesterday’s post:

About halfway through the main set of freestyle laps I felt like I just couldn’t go on.  Assuming that I had pushed myself like that without a plan–which I wouldn’t–I would have stopped for sure at that point.  But with the plan in hand I did another 550 yards!  That is unheard of for me.

So 1600 yards pushed this to both my highest month and highest week of volume for the year.  I just printed out another set of drills for my next trip to the pool.  Very excited about that!

So not so long ago the accomplishment of doing 550 yards in 20 minutes or so was unreal, and last night I muddle through 1600 yards of my swim plan, it was tough, but doable.  My issues now are more along the line of improving my form, and of course the ever present issue with breathing.  Not too shabby.  We often need to remind ourselves of where we were so that I can see how far we’ve come. take two

So tonight I tried the swim plan again.  This time the whole thing, all 1600 glorious yards of it.  By the end my arms were burning, and I had to work hard to maintain my form, but I held it together and got the whole thing done.

I’ll have to admit, it was the longest swim I have ever done both in terms of yardage and time (nearly an hour).  Following the plan was really great as it gave me something to do other than grind out lap after lap.  Lots of drills, and a tough but doable core freestyle swim.  Usually when I try to do some training laps I end up swimming for a while and moving on.  Tonight I focused on the drills, some more than others, and I also focused on breathing.  I left the specific drills etc. to the plan, and did the best that I could to work on my stroke accordingly.

About halfway through the main set of freestyle laps I felt like I just couldn’t go on.  Assuming that I had pushed myself like that without a plan–which I wouldn’t–I would have stopped for sure at that point.  But with the plan in hand I did another 550 yards!  That is unheard of for me.

So 1600 yards pushed this to both my highest month and highest week of volume for the year.  I just printed out another set of drills for my next trip to the pool.  Very excited about that!


Since I have signed up for the Madison Sprint Tri (and believe me I’m nervous just typing that) I have decided it is probably a good idea to get some swim training in.

I went to and dialed up a one hour workout (1600 yards).  I went to the pool, swam the plan, and finished it surprisingly quickly.  It was WAY TOO EASY for me.  So I swam a couple hundred yards of the cool down just because I could, what a rockstar.

After the swim I hit the hot tub and started talking to a friend who was there.  I told him about the swimplan site, and how great it was.  I pulled out the plan, looked at the yardage and though, something isn’t right.  As I added up the yards it came out way low, like 700 yards or something.  As I read it again I realized that I was supposed to do one of the sets 4 times, and the main set 5 times.  I had only done them once each!  What an idiot.

So I learned an important lesson, read the plan.  Oh, and I’m not a rockstar, though that one was short lived anyway.

I highly recommend, it’s free (though there is a premium version) and, if you read the instructions, it provides a great workout including some drills.  It won’t substitute for a coach, but it certainly helps make the workout much less boring than just punching out laps.

Swim training

Last night we went to my neighbor’s pool for a swim.

I’m thinking of adding that to my training log.

Disclaimer, not actually neighbor's pool

Disclaimer* Not my neighbor's actual pool.

What do you think? 3 laps should be 25 yards, right?

Training Ride

I had planned to do an open water swim today, spent all day psyching myself up to do it, only to get an email from my wife asking if I wanted to do a bike ride instead.  Yay!

So we decided to do the Farmington women’s triathlon route just to see what it was like.  My wife is considering doing the women’s tri, and she is still getting her bike legs, so she wanted to make sure it wasn’t too taxing.

We ended up doing a 16 mile loop, a bit longer than the tri route, but still not too bad.  During the ride I noticed that my brakes weren’t adjusted properly.  I had to really crank on the back brake to get it to slow me down effectively.  I tried to adjust it at a stop and then I took off on route 4.  The wind really picked up, and as I pushed through it I felt like I was going up a really steep incline.  I thought to myself “wow, this is brutal, all that I’ve heard about the wind making rides difficult is so true.”  I couldn’t wait to turn the corner.  I finally took a right, but the wind was still there.  I had geared up as much as I could and I was really pushing hard.  I was sweating profusely.

I looked back and my wife was right with me, I assumed that I was providing a wind break, and that she was really laboring to keep up.  About 5 minutes later I hear “Why are you going so slow?” from my wife.  At that moment I realized that it wasn’t the wind that was causing the problem.

I pulled over and spun the back wheel.  Sure enough the brake was catching.  My rear brake isn’t aligned properly, and I didn’t have a tool to fix it, so tightening the brake caused one side to rub.  I loosened it back up and suddenly the wind was not a factor.  Sheesh, that was brutal.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, but wow, I need to bring my bike tool with me going forward.

Incidentally, the ride was easy, no big hills, pretty much a flat course.

Next on tap, some swim drills.

Long Ride

Ok, longest ride so far.  I met up with some friends on Saturday evening and did a 30 mile ride through Simsbury and Bloomfield to prepare for the suffer fest that will be the Tour of Litchfield Hills this weekend.  I am planning on doing the 50 mile ride and I just needed a little something to get my confidence up so that I can rock the hills next week.

The ride went really well.  It was my longest ride ever and only the second since I put my new pedals in.  The friends I rode with have been riding for some time and I always learn a lesson or two while riding with them.  This is our second ride together, and they commented on how much improved I was over the last time.  I rode a straighter steadier line, and was more confident pointing at road hazards.  Last time they told me not to bother because I was nearly turning into a road hazard myself.  In fact, at one point during out last ride I was “pulling” and tried to avoid a small hole and instead of moving over the inch or two I needed I jerked into the middle of the road.  Not good.

There would be none of that this time.  In fact, when I pulled this time I really tried to hammer it.  I ended up hitting about 23MPH in a section of slight rollers and really getting myself out of breath.  That was at mile 11 of 30, and by the end of that section I was wondering if I could even finish the ride.  I ended up getting a stitch that hurt every time I took a deep breath.  I the intensity of the stitch came and went, but stuck with me the entire ride.  Don’t worry it only hurt when I took a breath.

The ride was picturesque but otherwise uneventful (though I did nearly take a dumper at an intersection by not unclipping under the, it turns out false, impression that the light would turn.  I manage to just squeak out of the pedals and catch myself before the faceplant.

We did the ride in about 1:51 averaging 16 MPH or so.  Not too fast, but not too bad either considering a couple of decent hills.  The thing that bothered me the most was a pain just under my left shoulder blade.  That pain has persisted even to today, though less intensity each day.

We wrapped up the night with burgers, beer and a great conversation out on my friends’ patio.

I don’t know how the Tour is going to go this weekend, but I am as ready as I’m going to be.

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