Monday, October 11, 2010

A much better tri

As I expected, Saturday night led into a very restless Sunday morning.  I managed to get some sleep between 3 and 5 am, I think.  It was tough wrestling with the ghosts of the triathlon.  They kept trying to help me by wanting to go through the first transition, and then the plan for the biking hills, and then the run strategy, and then the second transition, etc, etc.  I had heard that the night 2 nights before the event was the most important night of sleep for the triathlete.  Apparently that’s because you are not going to sleep well the night before.

I arose around 5 am to make my final checks, feed the dogs, eat some breakfast and load up my gear.  We got away and to the site a few minutes before 6:30.  Setup went smooth and by 7:15, I was ready to go.  I did make a couple stops by the porta-potty before the race, just in case.  I’d paid for that lesson last year.  I wasn’t going to waste it.  I also ran into an old friend, CM, from my early days at my work place.  She gave Dr. K an invitation to join her all-girls workout club.  It was good to see that she was doing well.  I’d see her again in a bit.

I wore number 68, which set my start time around 7:49.  In this race, someone started every 15 seconds, so we all stood in a line until our turn.  Soon enough it was my turn.  The starter yelled “Three, two, one, go”, and I was off. 

My first mistake was trying to wear my heart rate monitor during the swim.  I didn’t expect to get my HR during the swim, I just didn’t want to have to put it on during a transition and I did want it for the run.  I had noticed that I was the only person wearing one, but not until it was too late to ask why.  There was no problem until the first swimming turn where I pushed off the wall and felt the strap of the monitor slip down to my waist.  The second turn pushed it down to my butt and the third turn took it off.  It remained at the bottom of the pool for the remainder of the race.  I felt a real distraction from this turn of events and I think my swim suffered for it.  Swim time – 4:45 (250 meters).

My swim didn’t feel great, but the finish came up a lot quicker this time.  I managed to pull myself from the pool and run out the door into the very cool October air.  This year, unlike last, I was going for time.  There was no time to dry off or put on socks.  It was time to do what needed to be done and nothing more.  I mixed up the order of things in the transition, but I managed to put on my bike shoes, my shirt, and my helmet in a reasonable time and head for the bike start.

The bike portion went well.  My concentration for the bike ride was the hills on the course.  They are big and the first three come at you one after another.  The second hill is the worst on the route.  I set my mind to climb mode and made those hills mine.  My lungs ached during the entire ride, but I wasn’t letting up.  My Secretariat motivation from Friday night cut at least a minute off my time.  I do remember getting a bit of a ice cream headache about halfway through.  The cold air running over my wet hair made me a little uncomfortable.  It was about this time where I almost drove my bike in a ditch for no good reason other than lack of concentration.  The two were probably connected. Bike time – 34:00 (10 miles).

I returned to the transition zone to prepare for the run.  It was a good long way from the bike dismount point to my spot in the transition zone and another from my spot to the run start point.  This added a ton of time, like a full minute, to my race.  I again messed up my plan.  First, I headed up the wrong row of bikes and had to do an about face.  Once to my spot I had trouble hooking my number belt around my waste and finally forgot to drop my glasses.  All of those mistake probably added another 20 seconds.  Not awful, but significant.  You brain just doesn’t work the same when you are tired and my performance here proves that.

As expected, the run started slow and got better as I went.  There was never any real need to start walking, but I did shuffle through the first mile or so.  This is where I saw my old work friend again.  The run course doubles back on itself 3 times.  CM had started about 10 minutes ahead of me in the swim.  When I saw her during the run, she was up by about 2 minutes.  By the second switchback that time was down to a minute or so.  It was more motivation than competition that made me want to catch her by the finish.  at switchback 3 her lead was only about 150 yards, but we were only a half-mile from the finish.  I picked up the pace and I could see her ahead of me with a quarter mile to go.

I think 100 yards was as close as I got, but the distraction of the chase helped pull me to a good finish. Run time – 26:36. 

My time for this race last year under very similar conditions was 1:23:36.  This year I bettered every segment except the second transition and posted a time of 1:09:20 or 14 minutes and 16 seconds better.

I thought before the race that 1:05 might be possible.  After the race I knew I had given a little more than I had to give (Translation: I felt like crap for the rest of the day).  Now, the morning after the race, my head still has a bit of a buzz and my lungs have a distant ache and my ankles have rough spot or two, but I’m pretty much recovered.  It will be a while before the pain of yesterday’s triathlon recedes enough for me to try again, but I will.  I think I’ll wait a few more days until I start to work on that.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tri. Now try harder.

This the not football season in the Special K household.  This October has become triathlon season.  I’ve been a workout junkie on and off since high school.  The last time I was really into it was back in 2002 right up until I run the old Cooper River Bridge had my gall bladder removed 2 days later.  For some reason I never gotten back to that routine.  I think the combination of work travel and poker conspired against the workouts by sucking up my free time.  Now, even though I’m not in the best running shape of my 40s, I am in the best all-around shape for swimming, biking and running that I’ve ever been.

Most of that work was inspired by my wife, Dr. K.  She discovered working out and how much she loves it in the spring of 2009.  Since then she has been working out and building a triathlon machine.  The change has been remarkable.  As we say during election season, I approve that message.

So the official sport around the house is now triathlon.  Three week ago, we traveled to Augusta, GA to watch a friend run in a Half-Max Tri.  I was pretty impressed as he just kept motoring along through a mile+ swim, and 40+ mile bike ride and a 13 mile run.  Last week was Dr. K’s turn for her international distance tri (1k yrds/28 mi./10k).  Unfortunately, the swim was cancelled, but she rallied from her disappointment to do very well.  She came out with a plan to run a half-marathon in Dec.

Tomorrow is my turn.  Around 7:48:45 I’ll start the same tri that I tried last year, the Take Flight Triathlon.  Mine is a sprint of 250 m swim, 10 mi bike, and 5k run.  If you need to catch up on what happened last year you can jump to here.  I’ll not repeat the soiled details of that one, however I was not pleased with the outcome.  Tomorrow is my chance at redemption and I’m pretty nervous about it.  I’m hopeful that by dumping my thoughts here, where no one will read them, that I’ll rid myself of at least some of those nerves.

I’ve trained hard, maybe even too hard at times.  I should have had a plan, but I didn’t.  I just tried to do a lot of each of the disciplines and tried to improve my fitness along the way.  Next time I’ll go with the plan.  I didn’t have to go on a month long trip a few weeks before the event this year like last.  I did go to Afghanistan  during my training, but only for 2 weeks and I did manage to run a few times while there.  My running is still not back to where I want it to be, but my swimming is about as good as ever and my biking is better than ever.

I’ve been over the course and there are about 4 points on the bike course that scare me.  It is hilly and 4 of the hills are going to take my best effort and then some to get over in a reasonable time.  The run will be awful to start, but I’m not holding back on the bike to save for the run.  I’ll do what I can to avoid cramping up totally and take it as it comes.  I’ll probably finish faster than I start on the run.

It all comes down to how deep in can dig in my heart to make myself go beyond where I think I can go.  It seems so silly to do this as a hobby.  There must be more constructive ways to abuse myself.  I’ve got no one to compete against and no money on the line.  I’m not good enough to compete for prizes.  It’s just a goal that I set and I’m determined to see what I’ve got.

Tomorrow, my inspiration comes from an ESPN show I saw last night on Secretariat.  Watching that horse run is such an awesome sight that I get a lump in my throat.  One line from that show said that it was as if God said “go”, and he went.  I’ll not be a Secretariat tomorrow and frankly, I’ll be relieved when it is done, but when they say “go” tomorrow, I’m going to see how much go I’ve got.  I’ll update here when it’s done.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Tri.. er.. Duathlon in Myrtle Beach

Dr. K was to Swim/Bike/Run in the Myrtle Beach Triathlon.  We drove to the beach on Friday, got her registered for the race and loaded up on pasta.  Our arrival at the Marina Inn for the event was about 6:30 am. About 7 am an announcement was made that there would be no swim.  That was upsetting to many racers, some of which were competing for a spot on the national triathlon team.  The problem was the epic rainfall of this past week.  Myrtle Beach had 16 inches of rain from Tuesday to Friday.  The runoff had pushed the e-coli level in the water too high for safe swimming.  The event organizers had no choice.

So they re-jiggered the start and timing and Dr. K’s race started around 9:30.  She did great finishing faster than she was expecting taking 4th in her age group.  Thanks to the Hampton Inn West for allowing us to check out late for post-race showers.  Below are some pictures (of the race, not the showers):

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You can tell I’m very proud.  Congrats Dr. K!