Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lake Stevens 70.3 - Part 2 - The Extra Mile

August 27, 2009 -

All anthemed up and ready to go and...the race start is delayed 15 minutes....bah. There is this eerie fog over the water that looked as though it was ready to swallow any swimmer who ventured into it. We all wait patiently dressed up in our wetsuits and nerves. For the most part it is quiet, but you can hear the anticipation. People are getting pep talks, sharing their plans of attack for the day and just standing still....watching that fog covered lake.

After about 15 minutes the pro's were in the water and off! I was only two groups behind so I made my way up the doc and within 6 minutes I was in the water with the rest of my age group watching the other swimmers ahead disappear into the fog that still hugged the lake. With a 10 second countdown from the announcer and crowd...the gun went off and we were underway!

The very first thing I noticed was how easy it was to take off with hundred or so age groupers rather than 2200 of everyone as in IM CDA. I quickly swam through the mess and was swimming free in my own space within a couple hundred yards....very very nice. The swim was good, but seemed to drag as I couldn't spot the buoys until 20 or so yards out from them. The fog still seemed to be thick on the lake causing me to swim a little zig-zaggy, which I never do. I typically find pride in my straight swimming but whatever crack I smoked this day was weaving me all over the swim coarse.

I usually judge my swimming by the buoys using the next one as my visual and motivational marker swimming buoy to buoy knocking out one after the other and getting to the finish. This swim was different though. Not being able to judge or see the next marker made it tough to gauge my progress causing the swim to seem much longer. Eventually however, I could start to hear the announcer and the shore appeared through the haze and I could finally judge my one last sprint to the shore....and the swim was done.

Swim: 39:16 (Last year was 41:53)

I cooked it up through the corral of spectators to my bike where I tried to make a point to move through T1 very quickly. I ripped off the wet suit, threw on bike shoes with no socks (a new preference), pounded a GU and was on my way.

T1: 3:44 (Last year was 4:03)

I headed out on my bike with the attitude to not even consider the run. All I wanted to do was race and you can't race if you are worried about your nutrition, or saving your legs for the run (which is a good thing for your first couple). I decided I just wanted to try and kill it and I would deal with the run when I got there. I started out cooking pretty good, climbing the hills as hard as I could and going for raw speed on the flats and downhills. I averaged 20mph on the first hour and kept pretty close...about 19.5 going until about mile 35. This is where I was so in the zone of just killing the bike that I rounder this corner following about 15 other cyclists. I can remember going over this small wood-planked bridge and thinking it was odd I didn't notice this on the first loop of the course. After a couple miles I could see the end of the road and the first bikers in the pack yelling and turning around.

We took a wrong turn!!! They noticed when they hit the end of the road and saw all the other bikers coming down the correct loop of the course. We had taken a side road straight through the loop and came out on the other side of the course! We all backtracked to the course, which ended up being a little over a four mile detour. The bikers were yelling at the cop directing traffic at the intersection and he tried telling everyone that we weren't listening...but I find it hard that about 15 cyclists staggered all couldn't heard this guy. What a poop!

After this I was really fired up so I started cranking harder than before, but I could tell as with last year, that the second loop of this very hilly course eats your legs for lunch....whatever, I had to make up about 12 to 14 minutes by my guess. I kept cranking, gradually wearing down and starting to wonder when I hit the loop cut-off to head back to transition...when would this bike end? I forgot there was another eight miles or so after that cut-off. Finally, I came screaming in missing my goal of breaking that three hour mark....this time. (Odometer read 60.3 at the end of the bike...I rode and extra 4.3 miles!)

Bike: 3:05:37 - 18.1 mph (Last year was 3:23:05)

I raced up to that dismount line and watched some guy (happens every time) try to do this riding dismount thing and totally eat it giving himself the gift of road rash. I clicked out one shoe...came to a mostly complete stop...and hopped off. That first 20 yards or so right after you hop off your bike and start running in your bike shoes with your bike toward T2 is always a little awkward. I made it in though and switched out for running socks and shoes, visor and power tabs. I pounded one more GU, swigged some Gatorade and was back on my way to do this thing.

T2: 4:59 (Last year was 4:28...slower, but I threw a pee in there that had to be about two minutes as I held it for 30 or so miles on the bike.)

I headed out onto the run course where the legs were feeling surprisingly solid and the sun was out and warming up. I just started cooking along trying to keep a consistent pace and keep up with the hydration and power tabs as it was getting hot...but I was full. My belly had that end of race slishy sloshy feeling. I was full buy needed to keep the nutrition and hydration coming. For the first six miles I was hitting eight minute miles, which was fast for me in that distance race...I was expecting to hit 8:30's to start off with. It was about mile seven however when the gradual slowdown started. I incorporated some walking through the aid stations and some slow jogging as I at my tabs and I could feel myself starting to accept that I hadn't trained as much as I should have and I may have went a little too hard on the bike.

It was then I remembered...hey wussy came here to race...suck it up...gut it out...and do it. So I pressed on the last few miles with everything I had left to offer that day, which pretty much was just running a slow pace and not stopping. Finally I came along the waterfront and could see the finish line across the lake. It is a great thing when you can visually judge the distance you have left. I pounded out that last half mile or so and found the power to sprint out and spaz out (as per usual) the last 100 yards of the race. I raced up through the finish chute between the spectators yelling and throwing my hands up, raising the roof and coordinating the general spaz out finish that I love to do....and then...not so gracefully....but with rediculous enthusiasm I crossed the finish line. It was then when a spectator came out of the crowd to find me, give me a high five and said, "now that is the way to finish...thanks man." Sweet. A perfect compliment on a great race and season finisher.

Run: 1:54:47 - 8:46 pace (Last year was 2:03:00)

Overall was: 5:48:23 - a new 70.3 PR by eight minutes - (Last year was 6:16:25) - I beat last year's time for the same race by 28 minutes...even with four extra miles on the bike!

I moved through the finisher's area grabbing a slice of pizza and a coke relaxing for a little bit in the sun. Then...since there wasn't really anything going on and my family was waiting at home...I hit the road about 20 minutes after finishing. I packed up my gear, loaded the bike in the car and headed for the real after party.

I was stoked for this finish breaking new ground in my times. While I can, I always want to work hard enough in this sport to get better, faster and smarter progressing to new levels. A new PR was a great way to end the season of Ironman. I look forward to training through the winter and readying myself for a solid 2010 season of 70.3 and Olympic all out racing and not having the full IM on the books...for now.

Until then...I enjoy tri - ing nothing for a change.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lake Stevens 70.3 - Part 1

August 18, 2009 -

Spoiler alert...this is my recap from my last big tri of the was my best one to date...even with a small snafu. On August 16th 2009 I competed in the Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). I beat my time from the same race last year by 28 minutes and set a new PR for the 70.3 distance by 8 minutes.

I was a little wary of how this race was going to go as it was six weeks after the CDA Ironman. I wasn't worried about the time in between, but more about what I didn't do in that time in between. After CDA I pretty much took three weeks off and then in the three weeks leading up to Lake Stevens I trained pretty inconsistently. I knew however, that I would be able to do the race just fine....I just didn't know if I could race it how I wanted with this new Ironman confidence, or if I didn't prepare enough and I would watch as my wheels fell off.

Despite this, I was really calm and had virtually no nerves leading up to the race and all the way up to the starting gun. I knew what it took to do a 70.3 and I just had finished a full Ironman so really this race was about racing. It was my first time at this distance I where I knew exactly what to expect and how to do really, I just had to get out there and tackle it.

The night before I ate a boatload of pasta and bread, watched a movie and hit the sack around 9:30. After a restless sleep I woke up three minutes before the alarm at 3:57a. Went through the morning ritual of two cups of coffee, banana and peanut butter, stretching, 300 movie battle scenes and oatmeal....oh and....the most important pre-race BM.

I headed out around 4:45a up to Lake Stevens, which is about a 4o minute drive from my house. After getting into town, parking and getting a quick pee, I got to transition about 5:45a. I got everything all organized and properly placed. I talked to a couple guys around me, pumped up the tires and headed out around 6:10a. I headed over to get one more pee in and pickup my timing chip and was down by the water by 6:25 for the 6:30 start.

If you have never participated in a triathlon is my favorite part (other than crossing the finish line). It is 6:30a in the morning, your nerves are jumping, you're in your wetsuit, the air is still cool and crisp, the grass is dewy giving your feet a chill and everyone around you is looking around for anything from confidence to support to camaraderie.

Then, in a union of patriotic pride and sport, a local woman sings the National Anthem. You stand there a little cold, a little nervous, in silence. As she sings, you think about what will take place throughout the day and are proud of even just making it to the start line. You visualize your victory and you look around a bit watching everyone who also seems to be in their own patriotic meditation. She hits all the notes perfectly driving home this moment even more and ends beautifully and powerfully. Everyone cheers and you know what is what you came to do....race.

To be continued....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Caveman Triathlete

August 15, 2009 -

Since the dawn of time man was made to be a triathlete. There was swimming to catch fish, running to hunt food and then it all came together with the invention of the wheel. From that point on...triathlon has ruled the lives of many men and tomorrow...once will rule mine.

My wave at the Lake Stevens 70.3 Ironman starts tomorrow at 6:38a and something is different this time. It's not about curiosity or the unknown, or nerves. Its about just going out there and having fun and doing exactly what I know how to do. It seems too casual almost. I just have to get up, drive up there and crank it out.

Despite sticking with a regimented, strict plan for CDA Ironman and then training casual until now, I am still very prepared. Physically and mentally, I know what it takes and I know how to get out there and have a good day.

I'm really just excited to go out there and race and really enjoy it.

It does however, almost seems a burden to have this little road bump interfering with my summer plans causing my wife to ask me why I was even doing this race as I have not trained super hard for it and I already accomplished my big goal of Ironman this season.

At first, I didn't have a good answer so I thought about it for a couple days. Why am I doing this race? Why put up the expense and time to squeeze in one more race this summer when I'd much rather be doing something fun with the family for the weekend?

My initial answer was simple. If you are an triathlete and there is a race like this in your own backyard, you have to do it. Triathletes travel all over the world to do these Ironman and 70.3 races, so to have one at home, only 30 minutes away is a blessing. No travel, no hotel, no bike shipping, no weird food, bad beds etc. The best of racing with the comfort of your own home.

But that was just a small part of it. As I thought about it, there were so many other reasons I wanted to do this race.

I love having something on my calendar to keep me focused and accountable. I love the comraderie, nerves and excitement at the registration and expo. I love the maticulous detail as people rack their bikes and setup transition. I love flushing away half my nerves with a 500 yard swim at the race site the day before. I love trying to relax the day before but never actually getting the chance in the preparation tornado. I love tinkering around with my bike, cleaning it up and preparing for mach 3. I love laying my gear out and compulsively checking it over and over again. I love visualizing myself at every second of the race. I love stuffing my face with more pasta, salad and bread than should ever be consumed. I love the restless and fast sleep and usually always waking up before my alarm. I love that morning coffee, stretch, oats and most importantly....pre-race poop letting you's gonna be a good day. I love getting to transition and having time for a pee, couple songs on the iPod and a quick jog. I love the cool, misty mornings with the announcer blabbing and music cranking in the background. I love feeling nervous that the porto lines are too long and there is not enough time for one last pee before my wave goes. I love zipping up the wetsuit and making my way past other athletes and spectators down to the water. I love to plunge in the water and swim a few yards...and finally get that last pee before the start. I love the gun going off and the chaos of a triathlon swim start. I love getting into my swimming groove after the initial adrenaline wears down a tad. I love being done with the swim and getting started on the bike thinking to myself...alright, I'm in it we go. I love finally getting off the bike and testing the running legs knowing the end is near. I love the constant battle against my mind on the run and always pushing new barriers. I love thinking that the race will never end, but also knowing just how quickly it will be over. I love rush you get when you come around the corner and see the finish line and hear the announcer and the music calling you in accross the finish line. I love goofing off for my race photos thinking of what crazy pose will immortalize the fun of this tri. I love the feeling of crossing that line, arms raised and getting another shiny medal around my neck. I love savoring the victory for the rest of the day and celebrating the accomplishment and I love going to work on Monday morning and finding out what everybody else did on Sunday....because usally while everyone else earned the title of Lazyman...I earned the title of Ironman.

And why I love to race, and why I will get up at 4am tomorrow morning, push with everything I have for a half a day and walk tall with another successful race under my belt.

That is what I did this weekend....what did you do?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Barf Mouth

August 14, 2009 -

As fate would have it I woke up this morning at 5am so I could proceed to the toilet and barf my guts out. Only two days out from the Lake Stevens 70.3 and I'm on the floor wrapped around the toilet with this hard core, uncontrollable, projectile sucky.

I didn't even know I was sick? I went to bed feeling fine? I'm feeling progressively better as the morning drags on and am trying to hydrate and eat, but the stomach still feels a little blah. I'm heading up to Everett this afternoon to register for the race and attend the mandatory pre-race briefing (annoying).

For now, I will hope it was the morning flu and goes away quickly leaving me strong to race it out on Sunday. If it does not leave so gracefully or quickly.....expect to catch a rooster tail of barf if you're riding behind me on the bike....bbblllluurrrpp!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Golden Prostate

August 12, 2009 -

Another two days of great workouts down and now I can officially begin my Lake Stevens 70.3 taper. Most likely I will take tomorrow off and then just do something small on the bike or swim on Friday or Saturday to get the blood flowing.

Yesterday I did another brick, which was a run/bike. I hit the trail for six miles at a 7:21 pace. It was just one of those days where it all worked, felt great and I took advantage and just cooked for the whole run getting faster with every mile. From there I went straight to the gym for 45 minutes of hard intervals on the bike. Both activities were solid and combined with the swim/run brick the day before, have me feeling ready to rock this weekend.

Today I hopped in the pool for a 3000 yard swim. It was my longest swim since Ironman as I have been sticking with 2500. I knew I should get a long one in before this weekend so I cranked out 3 x 1000. The first set was the hardest but also seemed to go the fastest. The second two sets were easier, but seemed to go forever. Ah well, it was all good and a good swim....again...ready for this weekend.

On a side note, my wife's has grown this insane garden with the tomato plants on steroids. They have been turning and ready to eat over the last week or two, but there are so many we are eating tomatoes for like eight meals a day. Tomato breakfast, tomato snacks, lunch, dinner and tomato dessert. Ok....maybe an exaggeration, but lets just say my prostate has been getting its fair share of lycopene.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Plan B

August 10, 2009 -

Well the whole time preparing for the CDA Ironman, I always had a plan. A very specific, daily training schedule, which I followed to a T. Since then, I have been following plan B, which is no plan B.

I have been trying to mix in consistency with some big workouts. An now, with the Lake Stevens 70.3 approaching this weekend, I am trying to mentally prepare where physical preparation may have failed. After a full Ironman, I feel like I can pretty much gut this half Ironman out and hit my goal of five hours and forty-five minutes....but we'll see.

I just got back from five long days in Baltimore where I managed to eat poorly, get little sleep and magically slip in two workouts. One was a 10 mile run around the harbor and city at an 8:27 pace and the other was a four mile run the next day at a 7:10 pace.

Today, I hopped in the pool for 2500 yards, which took me 38 minutes and then hopped right on the stationary bike for 42 minutes of medium and hard intervals. Both workouts were great and a little confidence building. I will do one more brick tomorrow (bike/run outside), and then just plan B it for the rest of the week, most likely focusing on swimming.

As for this Sunday, despite my potential lack of preparation...I am excited and confident for a solid race, maximum effort and beating my times in all three sports over last year putting me far better then 2008's 6:16:25 finish. I'm looking to beat it by a full 30 minutes this year...we'll see.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I Huff And I Puff

August 4, 2009 -

In an effort to not get my house blown down in the Lake Stevens 70.3 I decided to try to build my foundation of bricks today with a bike/run. I don't want to be the little piggy out there getting eaten alive due to a post Ironman lack of exercise and nutrition.

It seems as though my pattern the last few weeks is to workout relatively inconsistently and then throw in one long workout to make sure I still have a little mojo and today was that day....and....I still got a little mojo.

I started with a bike around Lake Sammamish, which rocked. It was sunny and 75 degrees and I was haulin. I polished off 26 miles at a 20.5 mph pace. After that I transitioned into my running gear and headed out to the trail for a six mile run.

This was not the run I wanted it to be, however it still ended up at a solid pace. I hit six miles at a 7:47 pace. I'm sure if I would have slowed it down to an 8:30 I could have had a much better run, but instead I just gutted it out. It ended up being about 78 degrees and sunny for the run and I was starving. It seems that without a training calendar anymore, I just do whatever and don't always plan my nutrition as well as I was.

Happy though, to get a nice little brick in with some fast times. Now I'm off to see what kind of training I can get done in Baltimore over the next five days.

In the meantime...Lake Stevens (big bad wolf) is huffing and puffing. I hope my bricks are strong.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Baby Come Back

August 1, 2009 -

"Baby come back, you can blame it all on me, I was wrong, and I just can't live without you."

That was about a week ago singing to my swimming, biking, and running. As I struggled to regain consistency and fuel to get back to longer, hard workouts. Well the sports got the message and came back to me.

I had a great week, which kicked off with a fast eight mile run, a great lake swim, a couple five mile run/short bike bricks and the pinnacle re-confidence booster....a 54 mile bike.

I rode this loop around Lake Sammamish, up through Redmond and Bellevue on 520 and down into Kirkland. Continued through Kirkland, Juanita, up to Finn Hill, down to Kenmore, through Bothell, Woodinville and back to Redmond. The total was 54 miles in two hours and forty minutes!!! This was a smokin fast ride for me in 90 degree heat and with some good hills mixed in. I felt great the whole way and didn't have any issues with sore neck/butt/back etc.

All good in the hood!

Going into a 70.3 race in two weeks I needed a solid bike like this to know that....I still got it babay! I'm going to try to get in another one or two of those bikes, and a couple more run/bike bricks and then focus on my swimming the last week.

I'm hoping a five-day trip to Baltimore next week doesn't throw too big of a kink into my plans.

Now its back to summer fun. I spent the whole day yesterday with my wife and some friends out on a boat at seafair. Today, we are taking the kiddos on our first family camping trip to the San Juans....should be pretty sweet!