Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When idealism collides with reality

I'm now 32 days away from Vineman and there is an eminent collision between my ideal self and the actual guy that hasn't trained enough.  I have been trying a practice called denial and also positivity but those aren't working as well as I would like.

Here is the reality as I see it.  I pretty much ready for the swim, transitions, riding half the bike and half the run.  I haven't even tried to run since Pacific Crest because I don't want to know if there is a problem.  My knee feels great and I've had a great swim and bike week but I'm avoiding the discovery process, at least until tomorrow. 

The other reality is that I'm really excited about the race, I re-read the course description and just can't wait to do it. 

So I have a few more weeks to get my run back, my bike a bit stronger, and most of all, to get me to the starting line as healthy and strong as possible. 

I used to think that triathlon training was all about getting top notch fitness in three disciplines, and as good of skills as possible given that time is split in three areas.  I now am getting a better view is that what makes the 140.6 distance so difficult isn't just the training but doing all the training and being able to keep healthy and injury free.

Getting to the starting line takes discipline, a huge amount of self-awareness, and a bunch of luck.

For me, reality will ultimately collide on July 30 and I'm working hard to make the collision as soft was possible.  collides

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pacific Crest Long Course (71.66) Race Report

Just so you know my thoughts about this race, if I could only do one race each year, it would be this race.  There is so much to love about it.  It is in a beautiful place, there are a ton of things going on, everyone has a chance to compete in some manner and I have a great time hanging out with friends.

The race is headquartered out of Sun River Resorts which is a sprawling bunch of connected roads with a web of bike trails.  Logistically it isn't the easiest race.  For those who enjoy convenient and predictable parking, avoid this race.  For those who like sun, constant awards ceremonies, vendors, eating, racing and relaxing...and can tolerate some parking and logistics, this race is for you.

Here are your race options:  Kids Splash Pedal N Dash, Kids 1 & 2 mile, 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Olympic Tri, Olympic Duathlon, Long Course Triathlon (billed 70.3) and long course duathlon, and some ways of doing the above as a team.  Lots of choices.

This was my third HIM time at the long course here.  Both prior attempts were painful experiences in which I suffered on the bike and run.  This year, I had much better training, equipment, and confidence.

We do this as a group and this year most of the group was doing "team" or monoathlete events due to injury.  I was doing this race as part of my training for Vineman but don't think that I wasn't going for it with the intent of knocking an hour off my time from last year (6:36:30).

There was frost on the ground this year as we set up T2.  It was freezing at the lake and they were recommending arm warmers for the summit because of walls of snow. 

The elite waves started for the swim and I had about 5 minutes to "warm-up" in the water.  I went right in and was surprised how much warmer 60 degrees is than 53.  I could actually breath.  The swim went well and I was able swim comfortably for the whole time.  It is kind of nice for the swim to be un-notable.  One thing that surprised me was how many of my wave stood waste deep on the boat ramp and didn't even put their faces in the water until the horn went off.  I think getting a bit acclimated to the water really helped me.  I came out of the water at 39 minutes and started the next phase of my madness.

The bike route is spectacular at Pacific Crest.  Overall, it has elevation loss but don't let that give you confidence.  It climbs about 2400 feet and the profile resembles a mountain, it looks like Mt. Hood but really is just the corner of Mt. Bachelor. 

I love my bike and the ride went well except the Porta Potty Incident which I totally missed but I heard.  I had to stop really bad by mile 17 due to my C2 (Coffee 2) stop after setting up T2.  I raced to a stop, got off my bike and went into the small green house and proceeded to wrestle with the tie on my tri shorts.  I finally got down to business and then heard the loud conversation outside.  A female voice said, "I'm just going to go behind" and a male voice said, "No way, I'm going to wait".  I finished my task and came out to see an impatient man and a woman looking relieved emerging from behind the porta potty.  Kind of weird but a great conversation piece.

The snow banks started around mile 25 and steadily increased until they were way over our heads.  It felt cool but gave me a wicked sunburn.  The climb to the summit is just plain brutal.  8-10 miles an hour for several miles is torture.  There is drafting in this section, no way to avoid it because no one can pass and if we slowed down, we would fall over.  It is eerily quiet, no one talks, no one encourages, just an occasional bout of swearing. 

The the fun, the terrifying kind that can make you laugh but inside you want to wuss out.  It doesn't take long to go from 8 MPH to 45 MPH.  The road is straight and long but it feels exhilarating and frightening all at the same time. The rest of the ride into town is normally pretty easy except this year there was a slight head wind but it was still fast.  I averaged 25.5 mph without much work for the final 19 miles.  Bike was 3:10

T2 went really well and I couldn't believe how good it felt to run.  My legs felt great, just like they do on a normal lunch run.  I was passing people and having a good time.  I was eight miles in at one hour and looking for a great finish, tired but legs felt good.  Then my right knee started to feel a pang.  I had felt a bit of this in Boise but ran through it there without a problem but the pain kept growing and so I shut things down and started to walk until my knee felt better, then I would run till it hurt. 

At first I could only run about 40 steps after walking 40 steps but by the end of the run I could run about 1/4 mile before walking 40 steps.  Really disappointing that I didn't run the whole thing but I don't need an injury going into the final 5 weeks before Vineman.  I finished the run in 2:13 which was a PR for this course but I was hoping for 1:45.

My family was at the finish, great atmosphere and I pretty fresh.  My stomach did great this race and my body with the exception of the tight IT band did excellent.  My recovery has been good and I'm back to training.

Great race and can't wait until next year.
Time:  6:06:34, Swim, 0:39:29, T1 2:27, Bike 3:10:05, T2  1:22 Run 2:13:10

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kid's Splash n dash report

As a parent I'm always looking for something to motivate my girls. It's surprising sometimes just how much something can mean to them and once the secret is out, we as parents get huge power. For potty training, we used Graham teddy bears as potty treats.

This race has been gold for us in motivating the girls. I don't know what will get us through the ride home.

Today's race turned out better than we could of imagined. They lived everything except waiting for an hour to race. A bit disorganized as far as the waiting but the volunteers were amazing.

The start was an inflated play house. My girls needed help getting in and a bit of assistance getting up the wall. K decided to bounce on the slide but C was in race mode. They figured out the next obsticle then were in the two wading pools. C wanted her goggles but they loved it.

The bike transition to socks went okay and then the bikes. K was ahead and C fell while we pushed her bike. The bike went great and the quarter mile had a great tunnel and downhill. The tips don't know how to brake but C wanted "self" and was persuasive and proved she loved

The run transition was really fast and they both ran the whole run. It would have been faster except they really liked to give high fives. I think they could have been adored and cheered all day long

They finished, got their medal and then drank water then back to running.

I'm really proud of them and hope they love it as much as I do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I wanted to pass the guy wearing jeans

I was speaking this past weekend at a conference and thought it was an awesome coincidence that they had a 5K scheduled for the same morning I was to speak.  The race was at 9:00 AM and my presentation was at 11:00 so I thought it would fit great.

From my last post, you know I forgot my shoes, but other than that I was prepared.  I thought it was going to be cold and so had planned on a long sleeve shirt, however it was muggy and sweaty during warm-up so I just wore my newest, proudest, race T which was my Boise 70.3 shirt.

It was a small race of maybe 40 people and it was mostly women.  Women that were planning on walking.  I'm 39 yrs old and there was only one guy that looked my age.  He was 25 and was with his wife and mother-in-law.  The ladies were in race gear and he was in jeans and spent most of the pre-race working on his music.  The other guys there were older and were in deep conversations which I think they planned on continuing during their relaxing walk.

The good news is that I didn't have much threat in winning my age group.  The bad news was the race was starting late and I had to shower, pack out of the hotel and be ready to speak.  The start kept getting pushed back.  I also knew that I was going to really have a challenge to break 20 minutes given that the race was cross county on a grass/moss/muck runway.  My warm-up mile felt like I was running on jelly and it was slow.

So the gun (shout) when off and I took off.  I was surprised by how many people were running near me.  I was most surprised that Mr. Jeans was easily pulling away.  I was running about a 6:15 mile and he just pulled away.  My mind started racing, how to I explain that me, my Ironman lost a 5K to Mr. Levi's? 

So I turning things up a bit and chased after him.  I finally caught him after about 1/2 a mile and made the slow pass.  I never looked back and just kept going hoping that he didn't get a second wind.  The good news about this course is that it was loops on a runway so I could see the other runners.  I soon discovered that Mr. Jeans decided to mosey rather than run for the rest of the race.

It was a tough run and it was fun to be cheered on by all the runners.  I stopped the clock at 20:50, was awarded my medal right on the spot since they new I had to leave, we took a couple pictures and we were off. 

I wonder if I would have chased him down if he had been wearing an Ironman shirt rather than jeans?  I wonder whether my ego serves or hinders me during races?  I wonder if I would be faster wearing jeans?

Friday, June 17, 2011

5K sandwiched between 70.3.

I have a race this weekend and I'm rolling like a beginner. I'm kind of in the zone right now as far as 70.3 races and so I didn't think too much about squeezing in a 5K race on Sunday. What better way to see whether I'm ready for Vineman.

Well, my confidence is now shaken because I made a major mistake. I forgot my shoes. So today I went from store to store to buy another pair of shoes. Funny, they match the pair waiting at home. The good news is that I can now run this race and enjoy another day of unorthodox 140.6 training.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I am starting to measure things differently

I grew up in Japan and wasn't weaned from the Metric System until the age of 12 at which time I had to learn to measure things by a system which really doesn't make sense.  When confused, I just had to accept that a very powerful inbred British king at some point was able by sheer audacity to name weights and measures and people just had to live with it. 

Now that I'm training and racing triathlons, I'm starting to use a whole new measuring stick, the Triathlete Standard.  In it's most basic form:
  • Bodies of water is measured in 1.2 mile increments
  • Reasonable distance on foot is in increments of 5K, 10K, 13.1 Miles, and 26.2 Miles
  • Reasonable distance on bike is in increments of 40K, 56 Miles and 112 Miles
So as I drove home from Boise yesterday I thought in terms of how many HIM courses till the rest stop?  Could I run from here to the next exit?  Did my girls actually nap the equivalent of a 140.6 bike?

I also use distances to encourage me.  During Boise 70.3, I was able to just tell myself, you only have 10K left, you can run that with your feet covered in warts if you had to.  At 5K I told myself that if I wanted, I could run that distance in 19 minutes so its going to be easy running it in 25.

So now that I have a choice between Metric, Goofy and Triathlete standards...the world should just be happy that I'm not king...yet.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Boise 70.3 Race report

So I'm in that melancholy mood that hits me after a race is done.  It was a great experience and I'm feeling good and disappointed at the same time.

This was my first "Ironman" branded race and I think I brought a bit too much expectation into it.  I was expecting really efficient registration and huge expo but instead was met my long lines and a sparse expo.  I think WTC makes things so exclusive that the local area and vendors didn't shine like they should have.

I attended the pre-race briefing on Friday morning and learned a lot, mostly about how cold the water was and how many lane changes we would have on the bike.  I also learned that the head judge uses tandem bikes as his basis for 4 bike lengths.  I swear he told us to keep about 80 feet between bikes.  

I think a highlight of the morning meeting was when a person on the front row asked if we were allowed to modify our helmets.  The judge looked a bit confused and I admit that I was wondering about whether this discussion was about taping air vents.  The judge asked for clarification and it ended up that this person wanted to attach a wig to her helmet.  It just shows that people race for different reasons.  I can't imagine purposefully adding both meanings of the word.

One of the pluses of having long lines for registration, but and finish picture is that I was able to meet some great people.  I also learned that compression gear pre-race is important.  I'm not sure why it helps during the taper and everyone I asked wasn't sure either but "all serious athletes" wear compression gear.

Also, it is important to wear exercise gear to any pre-race activity you can.  I chose to dress in my typical casual wear and regret that I was not representing my favorite brands adequately.  They key is to look like you just ran from your hotel across town and are fresh and ready to run the bike course after three loops of the swim.  It also is important to look more like a pro than the pros...I will adjust for my next race.

Boise 70.3 is weird in that is starts at noon (or 12:37 PM for people my age who's last name is between A-J).  I got to sleep in past 7:00 AM and eat breakfast.  I also had to stop by the grocery store for "lunch" once I figured out that I better eat something for lunch.

I rode the school bus to the start, checked my stuff like I was crazy and then sat around and talked to strangers about their ailments and fear of the cold water.  I was particularly struck again by compression wear and the cool tape that people had all over their body.  I was confused by the tape watching beach volleyball and was even more confused at this race.  There seems to be no set way to apply the tape but I personally believe that anything with an X pattern is faster. 

I also noticed that tattoos, compression socks and extreme body hair get in the way of body marking.

The swim was tough.  The pro field was already on the bike by the time I was shivering in the water.  I bobbed and put my face in the water as much I could for the 4-5 minutes before my wave started but never caught my breath.  I ended up with a 42 minute swim which was slower than I wanted but not too bad considering I couldn't breathe. 

T1 is really long with a hill and bad bike placement but I got through it with the help of the wet suit stripper and sun screen appliers.  The funny thing about the wet suit stripper is that I had to take a quick look to make sure I still had my shorts on.

The bike ended up as my pleasant surprise of the day.  My race goal was to focus on the run and so I took things as steady as I could and didn't want to waste all my energy on the bike.  The course was interesting and the wind was not a factor for me.  This was my first race with my Reynolds Wheels and the Wheelbuilder disk.  These are tubular wheels and I chose not to run with a spare tire.  I had both pit stop and the other product with a flexible hose for the disk.  I also had two air canisters with a small tube of stans and so I thought I would at least have something to do if I got a flat.  Ironically, I only saw one person with a flat during this race.  That shows how good the team did in sweeping the course before race day.  Boise is known for punctures and a late summer race would be a challenge.

I ended up with a  2:54:08 on the bike which is 19.3 MPH.  The course was crowded and I did a lot of passing and slowing to set up gaps with guys that were faster.  I did see some blatant drafting but overall people were doing a nice job.  The best thing about the bike was that I was able to stay aero the whole time.  There were plenty of people that I passed that were stronger than me but apparently couldn't hold their position and so were slower.

I started the run feeling tired but strong.  The run course was crowded and because of flooding on the river the modified course ended up having people in both directions.  This wasn't too bad until my second loop in which there were a bunch of walkers which didn't seem to understand that people would choose to run.  I really wanted to walk but kept going but really felt slower and slower.  I was tired but won the battle and ran all but the aid stations.  I felt a bit of pain in my right knee and so I ran carefully hoping knowing that this wasn't my "A" race. 

This race is cruel in that you pass the finish 3 times before you get to cross.  The good news is that I was able to see my girls two times on each loop which really meant a lot to me.  I stopped to give kisses and hugs each time and don't regret a second of lost time.

I finished, was treated like a king by the volunteers, wandered looking for my girls, and finally gave up and at pizza (3 pieces) and drank chocolate milk (3 wonderful servings of yum) and sang praises for my reflective space blanket. My overall time was 5:37:34.  I was 69/173 in my age group.

I finally found my girls, drove to our friends house and showered, then headed back to collect my bike and stuff.

I enjoyed the race.  I'm impressed once again by the people of Boise and the great volunteers.  I'm glad I raced and would do it again.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

boise 70.3 is done

Longer race report later but the basics are that I finished the swim surprisingly warm, had a good bike and was able to run the run

Here are my results

Lots of inspiration and funny stuff from the race to follow

As always any race in which you aren't covered in poop and vomit is a grips race.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pre-race shivers

I was sitting in the pre-race briefing this
Owning for Boise 70.3 and I was really excited and ready to go. That is until they said the water temp is 53 degrees.

I put my sweatshirt back on and haven't been able to stay warm since then.

I will do it but I hate cold water. I know the pain and now wished I swam more so that I would be out of the water earlier.

Keep me in your warm thoughts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I used up my luck today

I spent the day golfing to raise money for the non-profit I work for. The last time I goofed was a year ago at the same tournament. I enjoy golf but typically I rely on players that golf to save our team from mockery.

This year my team was made up of two amazing former Boise State football players. The more experienced was Drisan James who learned a bit as a I'd and golfed a few times. The other guy was Ian Johnson who is a hero running back but had never played golf before.

So I had some pressure.

We ended at +1 for the day which is simply amazing. The problem is, I used ip moat of my luck quota during the round. So what am I supposed to think getting ready for Boise 70.3 with no luck? I'm using tubular wheels fir the first time
Just to tempt fate even more

On a positive note, things here in Boise are great. Weather is good and hopefully the water is warming.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Early lessons in lovin the burnin leggs

Friends from Wyoming visited this weekend and we decided to show off where we live.  We also finally had a chance for a hike and so we headed into the Columbia Gorge. 

As predicted, we weren't the only ones that had the idea of spending the first hot day of the season freezing in the spray of a waterfall.  The crowds were huge at the tourist spots like Crown Point and Multinomah Falls.

We decided to hike one of my favorite short hikes.  It starts at Horsetail falls and goes up to Ponytail falls and then has some great views of a gorge.  I thought the entire hike was about 1.5 miles. 

This hike marked a transition in our home from carrying to walking.  I know how beneficial it is to carry kids in those packs.  It is a lot of fun to have a sweaty body with boots that kick in the kidney on every third step.  It is great to have to do an amazing twist to get the kid on your back and back to the ground without tipping them out on the rocks.  It is a lot of fun...but good times end.

So we hiked a bit slower.   Every switchback we switched hands so that we could block the fall off the trail.  Finally we reached Ponytail falls which is awesome because the trail goes behind the falls.  My girls weren't scared and even surprised me more by wanting to go directly under the falls. 

We then continued to hike and hike and hike.  The 1.5 mile hike stretched on and on.  We had water and snack breaks and still kept hiking.  It was this point that I remembered the hike was closer to 3 miles with an additional .5 mile walk on the road. 

We started hearing the dreaded, "My legs hurt".  My girls are a bit dramatic and they really were putting on a show.  It was at this point that I decided to teach them a key lesson for the triathlete.  You have got to love the burn. 

We did a bit of a huddle, which means I crouched and they stood stomping rocks and mud.  I told them that when their legs hurt, it means they are getting stronger.  Hurting legs make you strong!

So we finished the hike without either girl being carried, we gave high fives, hugs and they put their hands in the air and shouted, "I did it".  Then they told us how their legs are stronger.

My new problem, no sympathy at home.  I race Boise 70.3 this week and if I were to hint that I'm tired or my legs hurt, I will just hear "You are getting stronger!" 

I love it...

Friday, June 3, 2011

How to get that post race feeling without racing

I emailed my wife a very simple message last Wednesday evening at 9:59 PM.  I typically don't email her when she is in the same house but I wasn't sure how else to get her a message.

The email read:

Subject:  Vomit
Message:  I just barfed but made it to the bathroom

I had already has some "discomfort" that evening but this email kicked off my marathon bathroom sessions for the rest of the night and next morning.

My wife is wonderful and so she joined the party.  We both had good timing and shared the bathroom well but neither had much left to give to the world in the morning.  We also had a great topic to discuss, what did we eat that the girls didn't.

Our girls didn't get sick and were ready to jump on the bed at 6 AM but one look at their green imaciated parents let them know it wasn't a jumping day.

A couple funny things.  First, I really wanted to weigh myself before I started to recover so I could figure out what I weigh without any fluid or crud in my body.  I'm not sure what I would do with that number but it would be interesting.  I was too tired to move the scale to the hard floor so I never weighed myself.

Second, it felt just like I had finished a very long, unprepared for, and pitifully run race.  My hips, legs, muscles and brain hurt.  I don't mind this feeling after a race because it lets me know I gave my all but on Thursday, it was less than satisfying.

So for those that want to know what it feels like to run a half ironman (70.3) race or a marathon without ever running a race, I have a receipt for you.
1.  Eat a egg salad sandwich that has sat on your patio in the hot sun for 4 hours. 
2.  Get a really bad sunburn in the areas you can't reach with your hand.
3. Rub your feet and sit bones raw.

Now you can relate to any endurance athlete.  You know how it feels.  You have truly suffered.

I race Boise 70.3 in a little over a week.  I know I will be feeling bad again, but I can't wait.  Clock will be running and so will I!