Monthly Archives: April 2011

Must be time to race again

My stomach is revolting against me again. Was panicky for no reason all night last night, and woke up at 5:45 this morning (far earlier than normal). Realized just after I had gotten my gear bag packed (and thinking that it was really empty when I don’t bring my bike pump) that I had forgotten all of my camping gear. Repacking the gear bag required emptying it completely and probably took an hour. Taking apart the bike (removing saddle, handlebars, peddals, swapping out tires and throwing the wheelcover on the back wheel) and packing it? That only took 27 minutes.

I realized I don’t have a race report from WF last year. I think it’s a bit understandable (I was ashamed of my performance there). The swim was fine, though slow still. Like New Orleans this year, I never felt comfortable on the bike and was just unprepared for the course (the hills being tougher than I thought). And the run? More like the walk. I was unprepared for all of the hills and ended up having a great time run/walking the back half of the course with some guys who were cramping. But because my time was so bad and I felt so unprepared last year, I decided I had to do the same thing (New Orleans->WF) again this year.

Should be an interesting weekend. I’m thinking my ass is going to get kicked by the course again. Looking forward to being completely off the grid and camping out for a couple of days.

Yep, definitely taper time

After yesterday’s 8 mile steady sufferfest, my legs were pretty beat. Check that. Even before the run yesterday, my legs were feeling heavy. Tried to walk off the stiffness en route to dinner with my sister and her husband. Dinner was quite good (pork with apples and pine nuts, potatoes au gratin and greens along with copious amounts of wine), and aside from smacking my shin against the trapeze bar, no damage was done.

Slept very poorly last night so I decided that swimming tonight was right out. Instead, I tried on the new kit and got some video of my position in hopes of getting it sorted.

Time to taper already

It’s an odd thing for me: two half iron races in two weeks. This was planned: last year I did NOLA and WildFlower and really suffered through WF. I think a lot of it was being completely unprepared for the course of WF. The bike is hilly (though similar, I think, to IM Canada except for WF’s tough climb out of transition), but the run is a true hill run and there’s a lot of steep climbing and loose descents. Knowing that, I think it will be much easier to stay in a positive frame of mind — last year I was coming off of a run PB at NOLA and being completely unaware of the course thought there was no reason I couldn’t run similarly there. I think this year I am much more aware of everything my body is telling me. This week has been fairly laid back: I got off the bike pretty quickly Tuesday (right after warmup as the legs were no good yet. Wednesday I did a slowish 3.5 mile run and masters swim, then Thursday it was 2×10 minutes at FTP on the bike. Friday was a 6+ mile run: initially I had myself down for a 2 mile warm up, a 3 mile threshold set, and a 1 mile warmdown. After the first mile of threshold I decided to take a mile at an easier pace and then go back to threshold pace (which I never hit).

Today’s bike was very straightforward: spin up the legs for 15 minutes and then just cruise at HIM wattage for an hour. Compared to last year, I’m very very happy where I am mentally (regardless of anything else). Managed to do the whole hour just circling the required wattage and not losing focus for very long. Aero position was a bit better today (I raised the seat about 2 cm). We’ll see what Todd says when he sees the video of my position.

Also, I randomly selected an entrant from the NOLA time entries, and looks like I will be making a donation to the Jimmy Fund!

New Orleans 2011

I was pretty psyched for my season opener. Reflecting on where I was a year ago, I was pretty excited about all the changes that had taken place – a new job, a new city, a new tri club, new friends… and I’m now self-coached. I knew from last year that my run fitness had improved significantly (despite a lackluster result at a marathon in February), and ever since I had gone back to masters swimming in mid-March, all of my training had been spot on. The fast majority of my cycling training has been taking place indoors on the trainer (where it is likely to continue during the week). In the past that’s been an issue, but I’m finding myself able to focus much better these days and push through a workout.

Above you can see the first segment of my flight to New Orleans. See how the line is headed towards St. Louis and then magically takes a hard right turn towards Chicago? Yeah, I noticed that too. Turns out the bad thunderstorms that roared through the southeast Thursday, Friday and Saturday closed KSTL for about half an hour. Unfortunately, that meant our little diversion to Chicago (we didn’t get off the plane there, just waited for about 1.5 hours and then flew right back to KSTL) caused me to miss the last flight to New Orleans. Ended up flying to Dallas, staying in a hotel there (waited forever for the hotel shuttle to come to the airport, which it never did, before riding in a cab to the hotel), slept for 4 hours, woke up, caught the first flight to New Orleans in the morning. Not an ideal way to start the race weekend.

After arriving in NOLA, I did the typical registration/check-in dance, bought my CO<subscript>2</subscript> and headed to Mother’s Restaurant. Checked in early to the hotel and built the bike (almost fully). Headed to bike check-in and given that I hadn’t ridden the TT bike since Timberman, thought it would be a good idea. Turns out it was a great idea as I had forgotten to tighten down the stem clamp bolts. Was almost bad news in the parking lot, would have been worse news on race day. After getting the bike checked in, I went to look at the lake. Oddly, barricades were blocking the way to the lake (swim practice was closed — a result of massive swells on the Lake). While standing there, I got bitten on the legs by fire ants. Not ideal at all. Pre-race dinner was at Gordon Biersch — safe (or so I thought) and a throwback to the pre-IMAZ dinner. Got back to the hotel and actually slept through the night for the first time pre-race.

Race morning I get to the site and first thing I hear is: “Swim’s been cancelled due to 20 knot winds. It’s going to be a bike-run race today. So much for getting a check of my swim fitness (POOR) early in the season. Not ideal, but no big deal either. It’s a bit chilly in NOLA (upper 50’s lower 60’s and breezy) in transition; it’s all I can do to stay warm. Typical pre-race snack of Gatorade and wheat thins.

The Bike – 2:42

Not much good to say here, other than no flats and no crashes. About 20 minutes into the bike, my right mid-back started feeling really tight. No amount of adjusting position in the bars really alleviated the pain. Tried as best I could to ignore/suffer through it, but spent far too much time out of the aero position trying to massage the tightness away. The first 25 miles or so were into a stiff headwind, and it would have been nice to be able to stay aero. I’ll be going down to see Todd at TTBikeFit in early May to try to resolve this issue. I have faith in him. In all, I ended up beign 5 minutes slower on the bike this year (a combination of lack of focus and time spent out of aero, I think). During transition, I was passing a ton of people walking through the narrow Bike In alley when I clipped one of them (in fairness to me I had yelled “On your left!” two or three times) and almost took him down. I apologized, he apologized and I was on my way.

The Run – 1:33:38 (or 1:31:15 if my stomach didn’t suck)

I got out of transition and there was another 25-29 guy right in front of me. I knew I had no hopes of placing decently at this point, but I wanted to pass as many people as possible. This guy had a ton of locals cheering for him (I assume he was local himself) and as I raised his arms to acknowledge them, he punched me in the head. No big deal. I passed him and despite trying to hold back knocked off the first two miles each in a 6:46 split (as I passed him and we both passed slower runners, one of them wondered aloud”Why don’t my legs work like that right now?” Probably because you biked above your fitness, or your fitness doesn’t allow you to run that fast yet.). Knew I needed to back off (my goal pace for the run was 7:00) and hope that I could hold it. If my stomach had held it together, I would have easily crushed that goal (as it is I didn’t do too badly). Around mile 6 I knew my stomach wouldn’t hold together, but I was running really well and could still get close to my goal, so I figured next port-o-potty I saw I was going to take (dis)advantage of. Saw one at the mile 8 aid station, used it (kind of) and got going again. Problem is I hadn’t really solved the problem and by mile 10 needed to use one again (and did). At that point it was just get to the finish line and then solve the problem.  As you can see from the data, that’s pretty much what I did (aside from walking one aid station after mile 10). I was able to kick it for the last .4 miles or so and finished well for myself (though my running buddy Matt H. was able to run a 1:30 in an Open Half that day, therefore making me a LOSER). Anyhow, if it weren’t for those two stomach stops, I ran a 1:31:15 (maybe faster as I wouldn’t have walked the aid station at mile 10, but that’s really being optimistic). I’m happy with a 1:33:38 too.

All told it was a 4:19 without the swim. With the swim, it probably would have been right around last years time.

Post-race Thoughts

Sitting in BWI on Monday morning, I wrote down these thoughts about the race.

+ Run is coming along very nicely. Ran a 1:31.15 or so in a half iron race. Time still needs to come down another 5 minutes or so, but that’s a great start (6 minutes faster than last year). Without stomach issues, maybe that is a 1:31 even (fewer distractions, more blood flowing to legs).

– Need to learn to hydrate better on the run. Was running into difficulty getting enough fluid — might not have made it to mile 15 without walking more aid stations. Buy a hand held water bottle?

-Bike needs a lot of work. Position and power are both lacking. Need to contact TTBikeFit and see when I can get an appointment with them. If it comes to getting a new bike, so be it. Yoga/stretching of back and hamstrings would probably also be very useful. When doing interval work, the entire workout should be in the aerobars (including rest intervals and warm up).

+Keep hammering intervals during the week: 3×15 should be the new norm on Tuesday with v02max work on Thursday. Test every 4 weeks.

Why?

I ask a number of questions myself. Much of the time the questions begin with why and end with self-doubt. The other day, Tim Luchinske (Lucho) mentioned the American Zofingen duathlon. I’ve heard of the race before, but this year they are hosting a triathlon as well later in the summer. Suddenly, my interest was piqued. This happening, after the fall and winter of telling myself that I’m not sure I want to race a full iron-distance race again next year, caused me to wonder “why ultra-distance races?” What drives me to do this?

My triathlon roots go deepish, if my athleticism and drive do not. My first triathlon was when I was in elementary school. I didn’t finish very high (I’m actually not sure I even officially finished the race — the run was around the high school track and I was told I was done when I thought I had one more lap to go). From there, aside from looking at an IronKids article in Sports Illustrated for Kids (which was a great thing in its own day). In any case, after that, I continued playing all the sports kids born to my parents were allowed to play (swimming, baseball, basketball, rowing, hockey, rugby, golf). College also happened. And after each being dumped once, triathlon entered the picture. Again.

Shortly afterward (senior year of college), I sprained my foot during a race and stopped training. Lo and behold, I got larger, slower, and lazier (if that was indeed possible). This happened until someone said I never followed through on anything (the iron-distance has always been at the back of my mind, if not acted upon). This was the impetus for Ironman #1. Ironman #2 was a result of the way that finishing #1 felt: the sense of joy and accomplishment. After #2, I was ambivalent. The amount of time devoted to training… what was I missing? Was it all worth it? I did 4 half-irondistance races in 2010, and I’m not sure whether I noticed having more time or not. I ended up signing up for Ironman #3 during the summer. And during the fall and the winter, I was wondering whether I would enjoy racing shorter/different races (like bike racing and marathons). And then I see the AmZof race. Why does it appeal to me? Why am I doing this, and why do I want to keep on doing it? What is driving me? I can’t pin it down. It’s not to meet people, it’s not to prove anything to anyone (including myself, I think). I’m not trying to turn pro, I’m not trying to get notches in my belt. I’ve come to the realization that maybe I just enjoy the training, racing and pushing myself. Maybe I just like knowing that I can, and knowing that I can keep going faster than I have.