Monday, May 23, 2011

Gladiator 5k

This weekend was the Gladiator 5k.  This was supposed to be a test not of my ability to run a 5k, but also an obstacle course.  I have been looking forward to this race since a friend mentioned it to me earlier this year.  The location was perfect as it was being ran in Cary, not very far from home.

Here is the list of obstacles that were supposed to be on the course.

  1. Gladiator Bars – Make your way across the gladiator bars while you’re suspended in the air.
  2. Walls - This part of the course is littered with walls varying in height; make your way over them however you can.
  3. Cargo Net - Three sets of cargo nets at 8’, 10’, and 14 feet one after another are quite the climb.
  4. Ab Crawl - You guessed it, get down on your stomach to crawl thru more than 80 feet of cammo-nets.
  5. Tire Valley – You’ve never seen tires quite like this. Make your way up, around, and through a never-ending valley of tires.
  6. Tunnel Crawl – Crawl your way through a series of dark, damp tunnels.
  7. Battle Walls – Without using your hands, high step your way over each post.
  8. Balance Beams – Balance is a must on the downhill balance logs. Don’t miss a step or it’s back to the beginning.
  9. Rope Bridge – Hold on tight while you crawl upside down along 29 feet of rope.
  10. Glory Wall – Getting over the 8 ft Glory Wall is a great accomplishment, so get your biceps ready!
  11. Monkey Bars – Make your way across the hardest monkey bars you’ve ever seen, while you are suspended in the air.
  12. Fence Jumps – Jump and slide your way through a series of wooden fences. All of your body

These all look completed awesome. I was totally excited to compete. 

The race ended up only having about half these obstacles and they were not very tough at all.  The toughest was an 8 foot wall.  Yep that's it.  Not very tough. 

Let me walk you though the day. 

My wave wasn't set to start until 9:30 so I did not need to get up early.  Another reason I was excited to participate in this race.  Had breakfast with Linda and JC.  this was supposed to be just a fun run so I had a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich.  Breakfast of Champions.  lol. 

Let home at @ 8:15 just to be sure that I was there and could get a quick look at the course as well as see the earlier legs take off.  The first wave was scheduled for 9:00.

The event started right on time.  The 9:00 wave went off as scheduled.   The course started with a quick downhill.

In my wave was a couple of guys with wigs.  I actually thought for a second that I should have dressed up.  That made me laugh.  One of the others waiting with me was excited because she thought she was the oldest in our group. But she was only 40 and surprised that there were several others of us that were older. 

Then the first obstacle.  It was a modified version of the Battle Bars.  When I got there the person in front of me used his hands to cross it and the race official/volunteer didn't say anything so I did the same.  One obstacle down.  Back up the hill we went.   Went back by the starting line and off to the Ab Crawl.  It was about 15 feet.  as I was crawling I saw several timing chips.  That was not good for those competitors that were ahead of me.  That meant their time would not be measured.  Oh well, as quick check down at my feet to ensure that I still had mine and I continued on.  I did yell back to the race official about the timing chips.  I do not know what if that made a difference but I felt better that I told someone. 

The next obstacle was a cargo net.  It felt like I was moving in slow motion as I crossed it.  But I made it without anyone passing me.  :)  In my wave of about 25 people, there were 3 guys still in front of me.  We were heading back down hill and went off onto a dirt trail.  At the bottom of the hill was the first wall.  It was about 6 feet.  Made it over with out much trouble.  Then to the next wall, it was about 8 feet.  Again made it over with much struggle and while running I past the next guy, so I am now third in my wave and feeling really strong.  Knowing that we still had many obstacles in front of us and I wasn't winded yet.  The next obstacle was the balance beams.  This was going to be a challenge for me since I am not very coordinated.  So I slowed my pace and made it over, no problem.  then the second balance beam.  Same thing.  Slow down and make it over.   Done.  Started back running and now more balance beams.  This time instead of being just a straight beam, this was a up and over.  When I arrived there were people on them.  Crap.  But they made it off just as I started.  There was another set immediately after the first, so I bypassed the slower runners and crossed the next set quickly.  Now I was in second in my group and loving it. 

More uphill running to the next obstacle.  It was the tunnel crawl.  it was about 20 feet.  Again just a bump in the road.  Made it quickly through and on back running.  More uphill.  I keep  the first place guy in my sights and felt like I could still catch him.  thinking it was only a matter of time now. 

We then crossed back into the soccer park and once we crossed the road we had the "mud pit".  Only there was no mud, only water.  So it was more similar to a slip and slide than a mud pit.  When I started into the pit there were two other competitors crawling through.  They were taking it easy and not splashing.  But of course you know that I went sliding pretty much head first and made a huge splash and totally drenched the caution.  lol.  I had to laugh at that.  I made it through no problem.  Now I could tell that I was getting close to the end. 

Ran down and around a small lake on the Soccer park and then around the parking lot.  There we found the "Tire Valley"  It was only about 15 feet across and it had tires hanging so we had to work through them.  Very easy.  I was just about ready to sprint up to catch the first place guy.  We only had a little stretch left to go.  Once we made it back to the payment we were told that we had to run down and touch a fence and back.  WTF?  What kind of obstacle is that? Oh well.  At this point the front runner must have gotten his second wind, because I could not close on him.  Made it to the finish and was really surprised with my time.  Around 21 minutes. 

21 minutes, wow.  I was really happy with that but being honest with myself, this must have been shorter that 5k.  I have run 5ks in tris and barely beat that time.  With the obstacles on the course there should not have been anyway my time was that good.


Well I will take it. I had a good time even with the disappointment with the course. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tour De Cure Fundraising

As I was sitting here thinking about my upcoming events, I remembered that I have Tour De Cure on June 4th.  This has a fundraising component.  I need to raise 500.00  Right now I have $25.00.

This ride is to raise money for Diabetes.  This cause is near and dear to my heart.  I am a Type 3 diabetic.  That is someone who is in a relationship with a Type 1.  We share the ups and downs that diabetes cause.  We see all the finger sticks, all the carb counting.  This disease affects every aspect of a diabetics life.

The ride itself is 200 miles.  One hundred miles to Southern Pines on Saturday and then returning on Sunday.  Its looks like its going to be fun.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Riverwood Golf & Athletic Club Tri

Well I did it, again. I completed another one. What a relief. This was another great day. What a thrill to see so many athletics competing and celebrating personal accomplishments.

Where do I start talking about this weekend? "It was the best of time and the worst of times". That is a line from a book or a movie. I think it was a Tale of Two Cities. That is great way to describe my adventures as a triathlete so far.

I started the mental race preparations on Friday night. Picked up my race packet on Friday night and learned that I was bib number 217. My cursed swimming strikes again. The overall race begins at 8:00 I do not start until 9:00. This means plenty of standing around waiting. No worries. I can handle that now.

Arrive back at home and begin the ritual of packing my transition bag. Checking and double checking. Adjusting and measuring. Trying to ensure everything was in its proper place. Finally all was set and bike loaded.

Woke up at 5:30 and had a bowl of cereal. I am not sure why but I felt very nervous. It was weird. This would be fifth triathlon but I was as nervous as if this was my first. Woke up my youngest son JC and we headed out. I stopped at McDonalds to get breakfast for JC and this turned an adventure itself. First of all they were very, very slow. I was thinking to myself, it 6:00 on Saturday morning, why would there be a line of 10 cars. But I have been in lines at fast food restaurants that went quickly. Well this one didn't. I know we all have had or heard about bad experiences at fast food places and you know you never really expect it will happen to you.

After sitting there for 20 minutes, they brought out my simple order and it was still wrong. But my son, very much like his dad, just said it was ok and ate it without complaint. I guess he could see my frustration since it is now 6:20. Deep soothing breathes, deep soothing breathes.

I arrive at the Athletic Club at around 6:50 about 20 minutes later than I wanted to be there. Again, I am telling myself to just relax. I am still 2 hours ahead of my start time. So just relax.

As I am walking over to transition area, I drop my bike. AUGH! Deep breath. It’s ok. Don't worry it will be alright. I keep this conversation going with myself. I am trying to not allow JC to see how angry I am getting.

I arrive at my rack and find that since I was "late", I wasn't able to get the preferred spot on the rack. Again, deep breath. Relax. I put my transition bag down and rack my bike and go pick up my timing chip and get marked. All set.

Now back to transition to get setup. Once there I find that my bag and bike have both been moved. OMG, can this get any worse? More deep breaths. But then I think to myself that they will probably be well ahead of me after the swim, so do not worry about it.

So I set up my gear, ensuring that I had everything in place. All set. Now I walk up to the pool. The athletic center is very nice. Great equipment, great layout, everything was well kept. Now the pool. I notice that the pool is shallow on one end and deeper on the far side. At my training pool, it was 4 feet to 5 1/2 feet. This pool was 5 feet to 8 feet. Again deep breathes.

I can do this. I have been practicing. I know that I can swim the distance. No worries. Just do it. Finally it's 8:00 and the race begins. As we watch the swimmers take off. I spend the time talking to JC, trying to get his feelings about triathlons. He likes them but doesn't think he would want to do one.

8:30, still watching the swimmers. Everyone lines up and takes off. I say to myself, 30 more minutes. I move to a better spot to watch the swimmers. I see everyone starting really fast and fading by the end. I try to remind myself to take it easy at the beginning. Just take it one lap at a time. Concentrate on your form. You can do this.

9:00 in line waiting to begin. Quietly telling everyone to just go on past me. I know that I am going to be slow and I do not want anyone feeling bad about passing me or to give anyone the impression that I would be climbing over them.

Starting. Take off was pretty smooth. But I forget about taking my time. I rush through the first 25 and at the wall I am struggling and then I remember that I have 275 more yards to go. I keep going I make it about half way back before I have to stop. Forgot all my keys, breathing out the window, patience out the window, forget about relaxing. All my pre-race visualization is shot. Now the brute comes out in me and I think I just need to finish the swim. I can make it up on the bike and run. I get passed what seems like 50 times. AUGH. I cannot believe I suck so badly.

Thankfully I make it to the end and exit the pool. I am thinking, oh well, at least that is over. I scurry along to the transition area. I get to my bike and since I am still angry about the horrible swim, it takes me forever to get going. I just pull my shirt over my head, slip into my shoes, helmet on and forgot that I had a GU in my helmet. After picking it up, I finally start moving. Run out of transition and get to the mount line. After I mount, I try to set my Garmin. No dice. I couldn't get it started and I feel like I am wasting too much time. I again decide to forget it and just go.

The ride was good. I get into a rhythm pretty early. I am motoring along and passing people. I am in aero within the first mile. When I was looking at the information on this ride, it said 14 miles, but the T-shirts said 12 miles. So I wasn't sure which it was. Not that the additional 2 miles meant anything, I just hadn’t thought about it again until I was on the bike.

At about mile 5, I was passed by a female rider. She was doing great and I was thinking she is going to ride off and leave me but then a car pulls out in front of her. It was far enough ahead that she didn't have to hit the brakes hard but enough to break her rhythm. I focus and decide that I am going to ride with her. I pass her and then about a mile later she passed me back. We played leap frog for the rest of the ride. We passed about 10 other riders and we are just moving out. At the end of the ride there were several hills. They helped me to end up ahead of her in the end by about 20 sec. Not much but it was still ahead of her.

I get in and out of transition pretty smoothly and take off on the run. It was a tough run course. So I was trying to be really careful about not burning myself out to early. I feel I am running quick but I am not winded. I know that my heart rate is high but I do not think it’s a problem. I continue to pick off runners. As I pass I shout encouragement. Great job, keep it up.

Turn around was very narrow. When I saw it, I knew that this would break my momentum and I just hoped that I would be able to find my rhythm quickly after the turn. I felt like I did. I was still running with relative easy. I did not think I pushed too hard. At about the 2 mile mark, I passed my biking buddy and we gave each other a high five and keep going. She was doing an outstanding job. I am sure her time was going to be great. Mine on the other hand would be a different story. I finally get to the last turn and pick it up. I still feel like I have plenty in the tank so I pick up the pace and end with smooth strides.

Right after finishing, I see JC he was right there waiting for me. He did a great job videoing the race. He was at all the right spots at the right times. Awesome job by him. For a teen, 14 he was very patience all day. Not antsy or bored with the activities. He seemed very engaged with everything going on around him. I am so proud of him.

Now my race was over and as we were walking to the transition area, we watched people reaching goals they have been training for. All the hours of swimming, running and bike in order to be prepared to do them all on this stage. Crossing that finish line is what makes it all worth it.

I think the highlight of my day was meeting a new friend from Daily Mile - Andrew Brazee.  He had the kind of day I was hoping to have.  He ended up with a 14th place overall finish.  Hoorah, Airborne. 

My time goal going into the day was 1:15. Well I didn't quite make that. Well I wasn't even close to making that this time.

Swim: 8:25
Bike: 47:22
Run: 20.55
Overall: 1:19:25