Monday, June 25, 2012

Smile Train

This weekend I participated in the Smile Train Tri in Wake Forest.  This was my first time at this specific location.  I was a little more excited but not over the top. I was still able to sleep.

Was up and moving at 5:00.  Since the race was only about 10 miles from home, I didn't need to rush.  Packed my transition bag, loaded the car and headed out at 5:45.  Arrived at the site and they didn't have the rack numbers  up yet.  This was kinda funny.  People were scurrying around trying to figure out where their racks would be.  In my new attitude of being patience is paying off.  Finally the numbers were put up and I was able to get the rack position I wanted.

I set everything up and went to get my race packet, marking and timing chip.  The packet pick was interesting.  One of the volunteers what a little frantic.  He had too many people in front of him and he was freaking out a little.  It was good. Finally had my packet and shuffled over to get marked.  This went quickly.  The line for timing chips didn't.  It was slower.  But all in all it went quickly.

After putting my numbers in place, Jody walked up.  It was great seeing him.  Was able to relax and talk with him.  Also Keith S and Butch walked by and we talked.  It really helps me to relax to be able to talk to others.  I am able to remove the stress of thinking about racing and think about how great it is to see others out with me.

We enter the pool area and the race started.  Originally we were scheduled to start in 15 sec intervals but FS decided to go in 7 sec intervals.  Those 8 seconds made a big difference.  I was happy with it since it was beginning to get hot.

Finally I was in the water and ready.  Again as I stood there getting ready, the starter was talking to me.  Loved it.  The tension of standing there and waiting for the Go command, just evaporated.  It was like being at the pool and swimming my training laps.  When I got the go, I was able to take off with minimal effort.

My goal was to swim at an easy pace and try to stay to the right.  Setting myself up for each turn.  Well, the person behind caught my by the time we got to 100 yds so I was forced to move to the outside to allow her to pass. When I arrived at the wall she was still there.  So we swam together pretty much the rest of the way.  She would take off and then I would catch her.  This happen a couple of times, but it worked.  No issues.  Again looked at my watch knew I needed to push it on the last 25 to be less than 6 minutes.  Once I was out of the water I didn't want to look, so I just ran on to T-1.

T1 was quick and I was off on the bike. This bike ride went through a neighborhood with roundabouts and speed bumps.  It was interesting.  However it was quick.  I felt like I was passing people at a rapid clip once I made it on the main street.  It was good.  The ride was smooth and felt really fast.  Once I made the turn on to the graded road, I had lots of momentum so the road didn't bother me.  Made the turn and was excited to be heading back.

The ride back was still fast.  This was my first ride that I was not passed at all.  No one even close to me at the end.  Felt awesome.

T2 was also quick.  Threw on my The Second Wind shirt and headed out of T2.  I made the decision to run easy.  No fast pace.  Just a nice run.  This course was hilly and had many turns.  Everytime I thought I was finished with the hills on the way out, there was another hill.   Finally when I saw the turnaround, it was at the bottom of the largest hill.

Good thing I wasn't concerned about my time for this run.  I made the turn and started back.  The back portion of this out and back was good.  It did feel faster.  I was able to easily navigate the hills.  No issues with stamina or fatigue.  The heat wasn't oppressive but now I was dripping sweat (more) and really needed a drink.  

Finally within a half mile of the finish, I picked up my pace.  Still feeling awesome.  Grabbed water and it was warm.  Not happy with that.  Walked around and cooled down.

All in all the race was good.  The course was nice and it was challenging.  We had a great mix of people who were racers and those who were out to have fun.  The venue as a whole was also good.  It was a little cramped.  I think they are going to have to reduce the number of participants next year.  Just not the transition or parking spaces.

My times while not stunning, were actually pretty good for my effort levels.

Swim - 5:58
Bike - 38:23
Run - 21:52
Total - 1:08:04

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday Thoughts

Today has been a great day. I had a great swim this morning.  I felt confident and strong in the pool.  That makes me happy.

With that in mind, I have been thinking about the remainder of my summer.  I am going to be busy with lots of activities for the foreseeable future.  It's really exciting to me.  I really love to compete and that drives me. I ordered a wetsuit last week and I planned to attend an open water swim on Wednesday night.  Unfortunately the suit is too small, so I have to return it and go through the waiting game again.

I am thinking about my upcoming races.  This weekend my race will be in a new location.  This will be my first "new" tri this year.  The course will be tougher than last weekend.  The club house is on a hill.  So I will have to ride down and up and then run down and up.  Sounds great.

As always my eye in on the future.  Looking forward to getting in a lake near you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Three Pigs Tri

On Saturday was back in Smithfield doing the Three Pigs Tri.  My approach this year was a little different that previous years.  My only goal this year was to beat last years time and have a strong swim.  Simple.

This was the site of my first Triathlon.  My first taste of being a multisport athlete.  So this is pretty much a fixture on my race calendar.

Since I have been doing tri's for about three years now, I do not have any problems sleeping before a race.  I do not really get excited until I am at the venue.  So Friday night was pretty routine.  Packed my race bag, visualized the race and was in bed by 11.

Woke up @ 4:45, refreshed and ready to go.  Had a PB&J sandwich and coffee.  Loaded the car and we headed out by 5:15.  Relaxed and ready for a great race.

Arrived at the site @ 6:00 unloaded  the car and headed to transition.  Was first in my section so I took the outside spot to setup.  Double check every thing and went to get marked and my timing chip.  Now the excitement starts to build, but just a little.  Just thinking that its almost race time.

After getting marked and physically ready, I see Jon Parks.  It's great to see another friendly face.  We talk and that helps me slowly relax since I still had more than an hour to my start time.  While talking to Jon, Jody comes up.  We all stand around and talk for a few minutes.  Jon's brother-in-law, whose doing his second tri also comes up and we talk briefly.  At around 7:15 everyone heads off to make finally transition adjustments.  The first racer is scheduled to start at 7:30 and I am excited to see his speed in the pool.

The first swimmer was Marty Gaal (my swim coach).  He was off like a rocket.  I normally watch the early swimmers and marvel at their techniques, but Marty was very smooth.  Fastest time of the day.

I was number 302 so I started more than an hour later than Marty. I am sure he was almost finished before I started.  Once it was my time to get in the water I was totally ready to go.  I have really learned to relax prior to Sprints.  So I was comfortable getting started.  My swim start was good.  I felt go into a rhythm quickly and felt really comfortable with my pace and effort.  I stopped at the wall for more than a couple of seconds only once and that was due to other swimmers.  I was able to pass a couple of swimmers and was passed by a couple.  It was a nice trade-off.

The swim wasn't anywhere near as dreadful as many others.  Before I knew it I was at the last wall and heading out of the pool.  At the last turn I actually looked at my watch and saw that I was at 5:15.  Not great, but not horrible.  My sense of relief that the swim portion was over wasn't as pronounced and normal.

This swim I decided to wear a tri top.  My thought was it would decrease my T1 time.  Worked like a charm.  No trying to get my shirt on.  Gently put down my goggles, slipped on my shoes, while putting on my shades and helmet.  Grabbed my bike and gloves and headed out.  Smooth mount but had problems getting clipped in.  I didn't let it bother me.  I knew once I got started I could make up those couple of seconds.  

Once I turned on Buffalo, I passed 4 riders and felt like I was getting into a good pace.  There was a headwind so I wasn't able to go too fast but I was able to get a smooth cadence and kept my breathing in check.  At about mile 4 I got "chicked".  I was shocked.  She rode past me smoothly and comfortably.  I just shook my head and decided that this isn't going to happen.  Headwind or not.  So I passed her back.  We played leap frog for about 3 more miles.  Then we made a left turn and I left her.  I looked back for a couple of miles and then decided that I was clear.

Made the turn for home and picked up the pace thanks to the tailwind.  Was able to seriously fly without exerting too much energy.  At about mile 10, I was passed by rider 309.  He flew by me and checked out.  There was not catching him.  There wasn't anything I could do except tip my hat and keep riding.  At mile 12 I looked at my watch again and I was at 47 minutes.  I was excited about that.  I started doing the math in my head.  Another 2 miles, 6 minutes and then a 20 minute 5k should put me under 1:10.  I could feel myself relax and speed up.  Made it back to transition and my legs felt strong still.

I really need to work on riding with my feet on top of my shoes.  Was able to get on foot out but not the second.  So my T2 times was a little worse than it should have been.  No worries.  I didn't allow it to fluster me.

Racked my back smoothly, helmet off, running shoes on, grabbed my The Second Wind shirt and took off for the run.  Put on my shirt over my tri top and kept running.  Linda was right at the start of the run course and gave me my hat.  I was all set.  This course was great.  Nicely shaded and flat.  I felt like I should be able to really make up time.

Obviously since this is my strong suit, I felt like I should be able to run a sub 21 minute 5k.  I was never really comfortable this run.  My breathing was off and I felt like I was flopping my steps instead of smoothly turning over.  I was able to maintain a decent pace. Once I made it to the halfway mark, I tried to turn it on, but I just didn't have anything left in the tank.  I didn't slow down, but I didn't speed up either.  Looked at my watch at the 2 mile mark and I was at about 1:04. I wanted to be sub 1:10 but that wasn't in the cards.  I knew that I would not run a 6 minute mile so I just decided to do the best I could.

I didn't have any "help" since I didn't see anyone immediately in front of me to try to catch.  It wasn't until about 1/4 mile for the finish that I spotted someone to race.  I was able to catch one person there and then another in the finish chute.  So I was winded at the finished, which is the way it's supposed to be.

Was happy to see Linda waiting and smiling as I crossed the finished.  I slowly walked around and regained my legs and drank my 2 full bottles of water to re-hydrate.  

Overall the race was very good as normal.  The course was great and the volunteers did an awesome job with assisting.  Love the venue and single lane swimming.  The shaded greenway run was also a huge plus.  This year it was not as hot as previous years which also was a blessing.  I will definitely return next year.

My finishing time was 1:11:43.  Last year my time was 1:14:32.  So I improve my time by better than 3 minutes.  Funny thing I was the 84th finisher both years.  My first year my time was 1:16:04.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Army Birthday 10miler

I must say that I had an awesome weekend.  It was a great way to start a busy June.  

First was the Army Birthday 10miler at Fort Bragg.  This was my first time running at Fort Bragg in 20+ years. Fort Bragg has long claimed to have the best trained and most fit soldiers in US Army.  Airborne soldiers run and run and run.  It was kinda a trademark.  

Race morning.  It was a typical NC morning.  Lower to mid 70's.  We knew it was going to be a hot one.  As I was mentally planning for the race and visualing the race, I decided that I would run "hard". I thought about taking it easy and running with a friend but standing there I decided to go for it.  

I lined up in the 7 min mile corral and was ready to go.  Right before the cannon (gun) went off every one closed in, so we were right at the start line.  It was great.  Once the gun sounded, everyone sprinted off.  The first mile was a complete blur.  I think there was 200+ sub 6:10 milers.  In my head I was thinking that I will never be able to maintain this kind of pace, so I started backing off.  By mile 2 I was still running a 6:20 pace and not really working.  The crowd as normal had thinned and all the sprinters were beginning to fall back.  

By mile 4 I was still running a 6:25 pace and the course was still pretty flat.  Since it was an out and back I felt that was good.  I started seeing the front of the pack returning.  They weren't that far a head of me.  Then Ii started looking for the female runners.  By this time there was only 1 in front of me and she was coming back to me.  Once I passed her, I started clicking off the guys.  At the turnaround I  had plenty left in the tank but in typical Army fashion the turnaround was at about 4 1/2 miles.  Leaving more than half to go.  I made it to the 5 mile mark by 33 minutes.  I started doing the mental calculations in my head.  Hmmmm, if I double what I just did then I would finish in 1:06.  That would not be bad at all.  But then I remember that sprint start and didn't see where I would be able to get another 6:10 mile in the last part of the run, plus remembering that I would have a long uphill climb to finish. Well stop thinking and just run.  

By mile 7 I had a technical problem with my iphone.  It just decided to stop for some reason.  I took it off as I was running and tried to get it going again.  Finally after about 1/4 mile it restarted.  I guess I hit something accidentally.  

At mile 8 I was just about at Longstreet.  Longstreet has a long downhill which leads into a long slow uphill.  I told myself just to cruise down and work my way to the finish.  This race also had people doing a 4 mile walk.  So as I was getting into these last couple of miles we had walkers along the course.  That made it completely interesting for the finish.  I couldn't tell who was a runner who ran out of fuel or a walker just casually finishing. 

So I decided just to continue passing people.  Mile 9 was the beginning of the uphill.  I started the ascent and started concentrating on my breathing.  Almost at the finish, just go.  Once I finally crested the hill and entered the track, I was ecstatic to see the finish line.  Looked at my watch and I was still at around 1:05 which meant I would have a negative split after all.  

Finished strong.  Felt great.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Here is my foray into Three Things Thursdays.

1.  Army 10 miler.  Friday.  This will be my first competitive 10 mile run.  I have several different thoughts about it.  Originally I thought I would just run it as a fun run and hang with a friend.  Then I thought do I really want that to be my PR for a 10 mile run?  I have been thinking about running hard and just trying to place in my age group.  Tough but doable.  I haven't really trained for this distance.  I do not think I have run over 8 miles in 2 months.  Hmmmmm.

2.  Komen 5k.  Saturday. This is totally a fun run for Saturday.  I will be pacing for Bette Carter.  This whole event should be a great time.

3.  Open water swim.  I plan to get into the water this weekend.  I am going to stay in the shallows and only swim enough to say that I did it.  My goal is to swim less than 100 yards.  Baby steps.