Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

IMWI 2007 Race Report

So I figured after a week it's time to get my IMWI thoughts down in a race report.

This was my first IM, and my first ever marathon. In March of 2006 I was overweight (about 185lbs at 5'10" tall and about 23% body fat). I decided to get my ass back into shape and bought a road bike and signed up for a local 2 day 150 mile MS charity ride. I then, as a long time ago former swimmer and cyclist, decided to enter a local YMCA sprint tri in June of 06 and was hooked after that. Did 3-4 sprints and one HIM last year, signed up for IMWI 07in fact 3 weeks before ever trying the first HIM last year. I had also never run more than 3 miles in my life before last year's sprint as I always hated running. It's been a long, strenous, expensive and time consuming journey but it's been worth it in the long run!

My main plan was to focus on running over last winter as that was by far my main limiter. Unfortunately I suffered a minor tear in my right achilles back in December and didn't run for Jan-Feb and only lightly started again in March and worked my way up to 35 miles a week peak running. However the achilles was always sore to the touch at the insertion and has never been properly rested to the point it should have probably been. Additionally, the birth of my son August 9th meant the months of July/August were spent dealing with a pregnant wife and then sleepless nights with the new baby, this resulted in less than optimal training conditions over some key weeks. So I decided to make having fun and soaking up the IM experience my main goal and to just get one under my belt before trying to 'race' an IM so I didn't have any real expectations.

I showed up in Madison with about 420 hours of training under my belt and at 160+/- lbs and about 9-10% BF, the best shape I've probably been in in 17 years. My wife couldn't come with me dealing with the newborn and all so my Dad decided to come and we brought my 2 year old daughter and 10 year old stepson.

Thursday-Saturday were spent soaking up the experience. Had a minor issue Saturday when I saw a 1/4" gash in my front tire as I was taking my bike off the car and heading to check in. Fixed it but I missed the Trifuel lunch. Slept OK Saturday night and got up around 3 and ate a bagel and banana with peanut butter. Up again at 4:30 and had 2 slimfasts and loaded up and headed out.

Nothing really exciting about the morning until we headed out of the Terrace and down the helix to the swim. When I saw the crowd I was like holy cow, there are a LOT of people here for this thing.

Swim, 1:03+/-, Grade C-:
I gave myself a C- because I should have easily been under 1hr. I didn't swim agressively enough and the swim is my best event. Seeded myself in the front row by the ski jump and it was a slugfest the entire way. Everytime I got on someone's feet I would only be on them a few seconds before it seemed like someone else would come by and try to wipe me out. In retrospect I should have started more on the inside near the buoys and still up towards the first row or 2 as from the pictures that seemed to be the faster line. I was suprised that there was that much contact all throughout the swim, even as we headed to shore after the 2nd loop.

T-1, 6:30+/-.
T-1 was a riot, running up the helix lined with fans and into the bag room. It was crazy and guys were acting like they were in the local sprint tri's and every second counted. There was yelling and screaming for people to get out of the way and so on. Got my helmet, shoes and sunglasses on, headed out to the sunscreen people then on the bike with no problems.

Bike, 5:53, Grade B-.
Gave myself a B- for the bike only because I think I went too easy. Plan was to go easy for the first hour, then steady for the remainder. Rich S and Pat M said at the pre-race talk that people would be flying by you on the first 20-30 miles of the bike and they weren't kidding. Guys were standing and sprinting out of every turn and up every little rise in the road again like they were in a sprint tri. I distinctly remember one point early on at one of the early hills going out to the loop getting passed by 3 guys, drafting of course, standing and pounding on the hill. There was sweat dripping off their faces, they were sucking air and all three of their HR monitors were beeping like crazy. I just kind of did my own thing, spinning up the hills and working on pacing and nutrition. Took one 900 calorie bottle of Infinit with me and picked up a second one waiting at special needs. The crowds in Verona and going up the two big hills before Verona were amazing and really the bike leg seemed to go fast. I did notice a LOT of drafting. I really thought this course was too rolling with too many turns to result in big packs, but I saw several of 10-20 rider packs. And I know it wasn't unintentional drafting because the guys in the rear would sprint out of every turn to catch back up to the pack and then settle in. At one time it looked like a mini road race on some of the roads. I think I rode a very conservative bike and feel I could have easily gone 10 minutes faster without much more effort.

T-2, 4:XX (4 something).
Only comment is, remember the bike catchers! I approached the dismount with my feet on my shoes and did a smooth dismount. I stopped before the line so I couldn't figure out what the deal was with this woman running trying to grab my bike. I saw my rack and was focused on it but she just kept coming at me! Only a split second before she got to me did I remember that there were bike catchers here and it was OK for her to take my bike! T-2 was a complete opposite of T-1. For all the energy, excitement and rushing going on in T-1, T-2 was like the march of the dead. One guy across from me looked like he had no desire to get up. Debated, for a second, changing into running shorts then decided against it, threw on my shoes, more sunscreen and out the door.

Run, 4:35 +/-, Grade Sastisfactory ;).
Nothing like trying to run your first ever marathon after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 bike, but hey, why not!
Plan was to run the first 5 miles very easy, 10bpm below zone 2, walk the END of each aid station. Then, run the next 13 miles right at low end of zone 2 then hopefully be able to give it what I had left after 18 miles to finish. A funny thing happened however in the first mile, my achilles didn't hurt at all. This hasn't happened since March and whether it's a run, brick after short bike or transition run after long bike I knew that my right achilles was always very tight for the first 5-10 minutes then it would be fine. But for whatever reason I had no discomfort at all the first couple of miles. Mile 1 was at 8:30, I was happy. Mile 2, 8:31, again feeling good. Mile 3 however the top of my right foot started to hurt and it took me closer to 9 minutes, but HR was still good. After the aid station around mile 3 and at the first big hill through campus however my foot really started to hurt. New pain, not sure why, never felt it before. Walked the big hill and part of the bike path out to State street to see if that helped but every time I would run it would hurt. Decided then just to trot as best I could from aid station to aid station, again walking just the end of each station to get my water/nutrition then run again as well as I could to the next. Legs felt ok, stomache felt ok, just only had one speed due to my foot hurting. I pretty much did this jfor the next 22 miles. No slow down, no bonking, just steady trotting trying to manage the pain/discomfort in the foot. In all, it actually seemed to go by pretty fast, and again the crowds were great, especially along State Street.

Finished in 11:45, felt fine and only had my 'catcher' hold on to me for a few seconds and they were gone once I got my picture taken.

The aftermath: Got a massage and headed back to the hotel. One big mac and chocolate shake for the hotel then showered and went back to the finish to watch the last 2-1/2 hours worth of finishers. Woke up feeling a little stiff monday and foot was a little sore. Funny thing is/was I've had no pain or discomfort in my achilles at all since IMWI. Not sure why. Wife had a blast watching it online and in a moment of weaknes she told me I could sign up again for 2008, so did that Monday morning. Got home Monday night around 11pm after a 9+ hour ride and was pretty stiff after being in the car that long. Got a pretty good cold/sore throat that lasted until Friday, but other than that felt pretty good all week. The top of the foot is still a little sore but that is about all. Oh, one blister and one black and blue toenail too!

Now I'll take a couple of weeks off then it will be some run-focused time this winter and back at it for 2008!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mountaineer HIM RR

This was my second crack at the HIM distance and almost a year to the day after doing my first ever tri (a small sprint). The short version for those with ADD:

Nice race, well run, good atmosphere/town support, great weather.

28:40 swim (1:22/100 pace)
2:40:30 Bike (20.9mph avg w/ about 3,000 feet climbing)
2:03 run (Cramped after BIG hill)

5:17 total time with transitions thrown in.

The long(er) version:

Checked in Saturday, you had to leave your bike overnight in the bottom of a secure parking garage. Got up, ate some toast/peanut butter and a banana about 5:am and headed down to the race site. Set up transition (thankfully no one moved my bike from the end spot on the rack).

Swim: One big rectangle in the Monongohella (I think it's indian for 'smells like rotten fish') river. Our wave was the third or fourth after the pros and other age groupers. Seeded myself in the front row (deepwater start) because I didn't want to get boxed in like I did at an olympic a few weeks ago where I had an awful swim. Got off to a clean start ahead of the rest of our wave with one other guy. Drafted off him for a while until we hit traffic from previous waves then just fought through swimmers. Came to the finish where you had to pop yourself up onto a dock, or they would grab you by the pits and lift you out, and got up and was happy to see 28 minutes and change on the watch. Overall pretty uneventful and a nice smooth swim. Water temp was 74 and by the end though I did feel like I was overheating a little.

T-1: Normally wouldn't mention anything about transitions but on this race your T1 time started right after you got over the mat on the end of the dock. You then had to run up an aluminum dock and several hundred yards down a bike trail to the parking garage. Time for T-1 was a whopping 3:45, but about 2 minutes of that was running to the garage.

Bike: Two loop course that went over a bridge then along a flat but very rough road along the river. You went out a ways, then back then made a turn up a false flat that from miles 6 to about 10 or 11 were a steady uphill that gradually got steeper. You could stay in the big ring for all but the last mile or more at the top. Then you went down a mile or so, more flats and rollers, then a shorter (3 or so miles) slight uphill with a nice steep finish. Then it was 2 miles of nice down hill and then back on the crappy road then back into town to repeat. Didn't push the bike, just kept up a nice tempo on the flats and spun up the hills. Was really comfy on the bike and never felt like I was pushing things. Took infinit and drank it steadily during the ride along with salt and gel's about every 50 minutes or so. It was not a crowded bike course but at one point early on in the flats I got passed by a nice 3 man (all in my AG of course) group where the last two guys were glued to each others wheels. I mean like 12 inches of seperation, and the guy in the back was coasting half the time. They rode like this for a while until I lost sight of them.

The only beef I would have with the race at all was the rough road leading in and out of town. Especially coming into town. There was one spot where I saw about a dozen water bottles, a few spares/tubes and several CO2 cartidges. They all must have been launched from behind the seat systems.

Had a solid bike and my spits for each lap were within a few seconds of each other so I was happy with my pacing and time for the effort I put forth on a somewhat hilly/rough course. Total time was 2:40:35 for almost 21mph avg. Polar S725 showed just under 3,000 feet of climbing.

Run: Course was on a bike path out and back past transition for about 4-5 miles. Then, after running past transition, you made a right hand turn up a steep a$$ hill for a couple hundred feet. Steep as in many people were walking it and there was a guy dressed as the devil shouting at you at the middle of it to get moving. Then you turned and went up another smaller hill and through the WVU campus with a couple of up and down rollers before cruising the last mile down to the finish or start of the next loop.

I have no background in running and only started running for Tri's last year. I have been learing how to run with a HR montior and pace myself. My long runs have shown improvement and I have been keeping 7:40 or so pace on runs up to 13 miles and for my short (2-4 mile) transition runs after long rides was holding about the same pace. All of that fell apart after going up that hill the first time! In my short (1-year) tri carreer I have learned two things that I do not do well, and that is run after walking and run after drinking too much water/gatorade etc... So for the first 5-6 miles I was chugging along at about 7:40/mile pace only taking splashes of water and or infinit and only walked the one big hill. At the top of the second smaller hill there was an aid station and I took too much water and a coke. I was able to keep running downhill into the start of my second loop and continued on until about mile 9, although I was slowing down and stomach was sloshing. Then I walked the next couple aid stations however if they were handing it out, I was drinking it. That, along with the walking of the aid stations, made each run between aid stations that much more difficult.
Total run time was 2:03, about 15 minutes short of my goal. I was on pace to hit that goal until about mile 7 or 8 I think.
Just really need to work on my run nutrition and keep reminding myself to not intake so many fluids at one time during the run.

Overall I was OK with my time on a tough course. It was a nice day, nice event and there were some pro's there also racing which is pretty cool to watch as this was the first race I did that had any pro's at all. I would highly recommend this event to anyone interested.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Edinboro Olympic 2007

Last weekend was the Edinboro triathlon. It was my first ever crack at the olypmic distance and I was anxious to see how I did. The race wasn't a true olypmic as the distances were a little off (.75mile swim, 23.96 mile bike, 10k run).

In summary, I was able to turn a bad race into a good day of training. I had been on the tail end of a stomache virus all week so I hadn't been eating well and I was generally sore/run down from my IM training. So I went into this race without much expectations.

The swim started out awful. I seeded myself at the front of the first wave (39 and under athletes) and got penned in by 3-4 guys right off the bat. The guy in front of me was doing a breastroke kick every 10-15 seconds when he sighted, which jammed me up and got me stuck with the guy behind me. It was a good 200-300 yards before I could get around him and or out of the pack I was in. Saw that the lead pack was a good bit in front of me and me and one other guy set out on our own. The other guy was a slightly faster swimmer than me, but the dude could not hold a line to save his life. He'd be in front of me, with me drafting, then within a few seconds he'd be 10 feet to my left. I'd continue on straight then all of a sudden I'd get taken out by someone cutting across me from my left as this guy swereved to get back on course. Then he'd be off to my right and a few seconds later he'd come across again from that side. I wasn't quite quick enough to get by him so this was very frustrating! This continued for about the middle 3/4 of the race until he got way to my left and could finally see the beach and he made a straight line to the shore. Total swim time was 20:20, an awful 1:32/100 pace. Not at all good considering just last week I swam a 20:20 for 1,500 yards in the pool and my pace last fall for a HIM swim was 3 seconds per 100 faster.

Got out of the water and into T-1. Didn't have my Tri-shoes as I was having fit issues and was using my road shoes, so I didnt' leave them mounted to the pedals. This cost me as I had to put my shoes on then run with them on. Much slower than leaving them on the bike, IMO, but I didn't want to deal with trying to mess with putting my feet into my road shoes on the bike. 1:57 for T-1.

Once on the bike I decided to use the day as a HIM goal pace ride/run. My HR was high, it had been all week I think from not eating well/stomache issues, so I went by perceived exertion. I rode at a pace that I felt I could keep up for 56 miles. The course was slow at first as you went through some residential streets to the main road. Once on the main road it was a steady climb to the first turn, then long flat/downhill section and then returning with 5-6 of the last 8 miles all uphill. I passed several people on the first climb relatively easily, then proceeded on the flat section to cruise at a comfy pace more suited to a HIM ride than an olympic, again passing several people on the way. I passed one guy about 10 miles in that was working hard, a lot harder than me. As soon as I passed him he blew right back by me. The old roadie in me wanted to crush him but I thought, hey, this guy's red faced and probably in high zone 4 and he sounds like he's sucking air until there's no tomorrow and I'm out having an enjoyable ride. Lets see how long he stays in front of me. He only lasted about another minute before I blew back by him. I did get caught by one guy on the bike who got about 100 yards in front of me then just stayed there for the whole ride. In all it was a very comfortable pace for me and I felt like I could have held it all day. For nutrition I took one gel about halfway and one about 2 minutes or so before T-2. Total bike time was 1:02:30 for a 22.6 mph pace. All in all the bike course was not fast as the quickest time as a 59 something (from a guy that has a sub 9:30 Ironman)

T-2 was smooth and fast. Feet were out of the shoes after the last turn, rode the bike to the mat and hopped off for a 1:00 even T-2 (second fastest on the day).

The run. I have never been a runner and have never ran a stand alone 10k, so I had no idea what to expect. The run was an out and back on the same road as the bike. One steep hill coming out of the beach area, then steady uphill with some rollers then back down. Goal was to run at a HIM pace then, if I needed to in the last mile or so, hang on for position. First mile came at 7:30, right on cue. Same with miles 2 and 3. I didn't take any water at the first or second aid station and only a splash at the turn around. Got passed by two people, both working hard and running about 6:30 or faster paces. Neither were in age group and I was sticking to my goal of simlpy holding a HIM pace so I didn't try to stay with them. Crossed the line in 46:00 for a total time of about 2:12:32. Felt like a hard but comfortable run, and I was able to talk to people at the aid stations as I ran through, shout encouragement to my friends that were on their way out as I was on my way back on the run course and didn't feel too fatigued at all at the finish line. I think I could have held that same pace for another 6 -7 miles without too much trouble.

Ended the race with a smile on my face waving to the wife and kids as I crossed the line!

Ended up 16th out of 150 entrants, 5th in the 35-39age group (man this AG is tough!) All in all happy with the result considering I was doing a HIM pace with my effort and there were a lot of people working a lot harder than me out there, or at least from the looks on their faces as they finished looked like they were in a world of hurt!

So, while I had a goal time of 2:10 or below I was happy with my race. Considering the stomache issues, being sore/run down from training and an awful swim I feel I was still able to put a positive spin on the day and it gave me a great deal of confidence for the bike/run coming up at the Mountaineer Half in 3 weeks.

As for the olympic distance, it is a fun distance and I think it would be fun to race instead of the long steady IM pace.