Aug 31, 2007

"You are an Ironman!"

I just got the video that I ordered from the race site which has some footage of the Ironman USA race and then a view of me finishing...

Still gives me goosebumps!



Yeah... I'm a clyde. I've been competing in the "fat guys" division for a while now... but I'm hoping to not qualify next year.

The debate about whether it's fair to have a weight class rages on...


Aug 28, 2007

1 Wing


Interesting that after my post discussing how much fun playing volleyball and football with my family as a kid was that I get a chance to play again on Sunday and end up getting hurt.

I fell hard on my left shoulder while trying to do the limbo to avoid getting clotheslined by the rope holding the net up. It hurt pretty bad when I landed, and it's still pretty sore two days later. The good news is that it's starting to feel a bit better. The X-Rays were negative and the only concern now is that it could be a rotator cuff injury. The Doc says to wait and see if it gets better in a few days otherwise I'll get an MRI to look for damage.

Not sure I'm going to get to go hiking up Mt. Washington now...


Aug 22, 2007

"Mr Average"

We all have goals in life and dreams that we wish to fulfill... well, I finally reached my last night ;)

As I had mentioned before, the end of the series at Winding Trails is accompanied by a post-race party and awards ceremony. This is always fun, and last year I won a door prize from the raffle and received a $50 gift certificate from Monarch Jewelers. (Stupidly, I forgot about it and it expired, but that's not germane to this post.) In any case, I was looking forward the evening since it was fun, not that I was in line to win anything.

You see, they give out prizes for the top 3 in each age group, along with overall winners and record setters etc. My age group is the 30-39 year olds, and I don't have a lot of chance at winning. The overall race winner seems to come from this group every year as well as a bunch of other fast guys. Essentially, you earn points for every race you do, after 5 races you're eligible for the series win. They keep your best 8 scores, so even if you miss 2 races you have a chance at accumulating points. Thus, you need to have shown up at least 8 times, and raced pretty fast in all those races to get enough points to win or place. I had no chance, but my brother and uncle who were in different age groups were close enough to at least be in contention.

Neither of them ended up getting into the top three, so we were all out of the running. Then Sharon, the race director announced that they wanted to recognize someone other than the fast guys all the time and they decided to award a "Mr Average" and "Mrs Average". I'm not sure if they picked the exact center of the male and female racers or what, but she called my name! Thus, my dreams were fulfilled, I've been appointed complete average and have nothing more to shoot for!!!

All in all a good time, and the best part is that the award came with a prize, a free series pass for next year... a $100 plus value!!!


Aug 20, 2007

I'm not the only nut!

I've been meaning to write about why I do some of the stuff I do... related to triathlon anyway. I happened to see this article today Thank God, This Will Only Get Worse , linked by someone on the TRI-DRS newsgroup. My family occasionally asks how I can do such long swims or bike rides or runs or even why I would choose to.

The truth is that you don't really think about how long it is until afterwards when you are contemplating what you've accomplished, and even then it doesn't feel so impressive as they make it sound. During the Ironman, I never really felt like I was doing something incredible, as it's been described by some. I just kept going... Just keep going, although it doesn't sound very interesting or impressive, it's how you finish and in fact how you enjoy yourself. Riding around on my bike is fun, the scenery is beautiful, and when you're in a race you see a lot of people around you that feel the same way. It's a great way to enjoy the weather and the world around you when you can just spend time in the country under your own power.

Triathlons have also bought me a lot of family time. I grew up in a busy, athletic extended family. There wasn't a lot of organized sports or time in leagues or formal competitions, we were just really active. An enduring memory for me is a Sunday afternoon at my grandparents house playing softball or football or volleyball. These were the cherished times of my childhood where I could build a bond with my uncles, cousins and brothers.

As I grew older, got married and moved away a bit those times started to disappear. It was never really a conscious decision, and we still played whenever we got together, it's just the occasions didn't seem to happen. They've come back now, a result of an effort to spend more time and to involve more of my family in training and racing events that I enjoy. I've gotten my uncle and brother and cousin involved in triathlons, and it's a weekly occurrence to go for a swim or a bike ride with them. Other cousins have started mountain biking with me, and although there isn't a strict competition involved it's re-energized both my life and the relationships with my family.

We had a sort of family reunion this weekend, the first large group gathering of my extended-extended family since my grandmother died. It felt a lot like some of the great memories of my childhood, and emphasized for me the importance of family in my life. I've been lucky over the last few months to get a little bit of that feeling every time I swim, bike or run with the people I care about.


Aug 17, 2007

Season.. where have you gone?

I've just been reflecting a bit on the racing season gone by... or at least mostly gone by. I have one more Winding Trails race on the schedule, then a couple of potential options although nothing is definite. There's a 1/2 Ironman triathlon in about 6 weeks that my brother is doing, and I suspect I'll sign up as well, then the Hartford Marathon that I'm reconsidering.

I don't want to become burned out, and my body has started to feel the strain a bit; my knees are bothering me mostly. Mentally though, I still feel pretty good and certainly the push to break an hour helped me focus on this past Tuesday night. I'll have to wait and see how I feel going forward, hopefully the drive will still be there. If it's not, I'll have to take a few weeks off to relax and re-energize. In a way I'm looking forward to the off-season and starting a more disciplined workout program. I've been toying with the idea of working with a coach to make sure I do a better job of staying focused... but they seem to be just a bit too expensive, perhaps in a couple years if I decide to do an Ironman again. I may actually try to race it instead of just finish.


Aug 15, 2007

2007 Goal #2 - Done!

As I wrote about yesterday, my remaining goal for 2007 after finishing the Ironman, was to break 1 hour at the Winding Trails sprint race. Well... I did it, I broke an hour, in fact I crushed my old P.R. (Personal Record) by over 2 minutes, coming in at 58:41.

The splits are not yet posted, so I don't know the exact times but I'll post what I recall and then update it when I get the exact numbers.

The swim went pretty well, we did two waves as this was a very large group again; in fact Sharon the race director mentioned this was the biggest ever. I had forgotten my goggles, so I needed to borrow my uncle's extra seal mask. I don't like it as well as conventional goggles, but it worked well enough although it got foggy and I wasn't able to sight all that well. The swim finished in 7:3x and I ran up the beach reminding myself to push!

I had decided I was going to spend the whole race going as fast as I could. I tried that on the run last week and did pretty well, but couldn't make up enough time from the bike. Over and over I asked myself if I could be going harder and didn't worry about whether I would blow up or not.

Transition was quick and I started riding well. Right away I could tell that my legs were strong and I was going to have a good ride. The only hiccup was the spot where the tree was down across the trail and I had to slow a bit for the rider ahead of me. I just hopped over it, once again glad for the extra riding I do on harder trails. I find in this race a lot that riders around me will catch me on hills or flats and then I go back up on the downhills and corners. I take this to mean my riding is generally good or better since they have the fitness or speed to out pedal me, but not the technical riding skills to take advantage of the course. This makes me smile generally :)

Coming into transition off the bike, I had a great change. Out of the shoes almost before my feet hit the ground and I was off, having caught a glimpse of the clock showing 32:50 something. I knew I had a chance if I could run strong. I stopped for a real quick slug of Gatorade at the end of transition and then started running. I walked 5 steps up the real steep hill at the start, took a big breath and took off. The whole time I just kept pushing with no regard for later. Every time a racer would come by I would try to follow and just go as hard as I could. I really started to hurt about halfway through, but I could tell that I was making the time and really racing. It was pretty cool. Coming into the final long downhill I could see people ahead of me and decided I was catching at least two. Running all out I caught one but couldn't reel in the other. Then I heard footsteps behind me and started running scared. I was going so fast that I caught a tree root about 15 feet from the finish and did a flying roll! Mad now that the guy behind was going to catch me I scramble to my knees and then my feet trying desperately to keep my momentum. Back up and across the line before I got passed and I saw 58 something on the clock. I was thrilled!

I watched the rest come in... my brother, uncle, cousin and two friends, it's become quite a party. Then off to Whole Foods to gorge on their buffet!

Final Splits were:
Swim - 7:39, Bike - 25:18, Run - 25:44, Total 58:41

Bike, Run, and Total were all records!


Aug 14, 2007

Semi-final Winding Trails race

Second to last race tonight at Winding Trails, and I'm hoping I'm recovered from the Litchfield Tri on Sunday. I haven't yet him my goal of breaking an hour yet, although I've come close at just 53 seconds over a few weeks ago.

The problem is that I'm just a bit worn down from both Ironman USA and of course the Oly Tri this weekend. There's a fine line between being in peak form and under-recovered. I actually feel okay today, but it's hard to say what my reserves are going to be like when I put the pedal down tonight. I did a good job last week of running on the edge the whole time, something I've struggled with in the past. I kept asking myself... forget 5 minutes from now, can I run harder right now? This worked, but ultimately I didn't have enough speed left in my legs to go fast enough.

An interesting approach may be to skip this week and try to put everything into next week, but I have too much fun racing to take this approach. Hopefully I can put it together either tonight or next week...


Aug 13, 2007

Litchfield Hills Triathlon Race Report

Getting There

The weekend didn't start so good, I was feeling pretty sick starting Friday night and spent a lot of time... eh... well... on the toilet Sorry... not a pretty subject, but it ended up having a lot of impact on the race. I was up all night Friday and stayed on the couch most of Saturday and into the night that evening. I wasn't able to hold anything in until Saturday evening, and I ate a bit on Sunday morning. I still decided to go to the race with my uncle Eric, without any expectations and just see how it went.

The Litchfield Hills race is an olympic distance race, .9 mile swim, 23.7 mile bike and 6.2 mile run. I've done a few of this distance so far, and just looking at the distances I should be able to finish in 2:45-3 hours. This day I wasn't really thinking about that though, I knew my reserves were way down and I wasn't going to have a lot of energy.

We got a bit lost on the way there, there was a bridge out and the road was closed. I ended up following another racer who was on her way there as well, but she didn't have much better luck. We finally just followed a sign for a road that I knew was on the course, and managed to find our way there. At this point time was a bit tight, but we didn't really panic at all although I ended up skipping two steps that I wished I had taken. I taped 2 gels to my bike and laid out the transition area, having secured a great rack position right by the aisle.

We starting heading for the swim start, after deciding against taking sneakers as suggested for the long run back to transition from the lake. I rationalized that it couldn't be too bad... a decision Eric and I both regretted later. On the way there... I quickly realized that I needed the porta-potty, another auspicious sign and we made a detour there. After getting out of the toilet, I realized that
A) I forgot to take my pre-race gel, so I was starting with not enough gas in the tank
B) The stones on the path up from the swim finish were going to hurt a lot running to transition and I probably should have brought the shoes
C) There was no time now to go back for either
D) My stomach was already not happy with me... and I could feel the lethargy already

Swim (.9 Miles)
Not a good start, but we headed to the beach and put on our wetsuits. Very quickly we were lined up and headed off, so I didn't get a warmup swim, but with almost a mile to go I didn't think it would matter. Just take it a bit easy at first, then settle into a steady pace. The swim was very rough, especially on the way out I seemed to swallow a lot of water. I think it was just a bit choppy. The water didn't sit real well in my stomach, and I could feel the empty feeling as my body started to call for nutrition but it wasn't available.

Out of the water I yanked off my wetsuit and started the run painful walk to transition. I had bumped into Eric a few times in the swim, and we came out of the water together and ended up walking up the hill next to each other. My transition was a lot quicker than his, which is standard but it would be the only leg that was faster this day!

Bike or at least the Attempt (23.7 miles)
We ran down through a field to the road with our bikes and I jumped on. My next problem... I couldn't clip in. Running through the grass had jammed my pedals with enough crap that they wouldn't engage. I had to stick my foot through the bike frame so that I could reach it with my hand and try to clean it out. It would clip in, then pop out again with any pressure. This slowed me down a lot for the first few miles, but eventually the stuff worked it's way out and I was able to stop worrying about it.

I could tell this was going to be a bad ride... my body was demanding energy and my stomach couldn't provide it. I took the first gel right away, and the second one shortly after to try and get some food in, but my stomach just churned. I couldn't deliver any power on the uphills and just tried to keep a steady cadence on the flats. It was only about 8 miles in when my uncle rolled past, a bit of a surprise although it shouldn't have been. I'm generally a stronger rider, but definitly not on this day. Still, for the first 15 or so miles I managed to do okay since it was downhill. We had been warned about the painful uphill at the end of the bike, and I wasn't looking forward to it. I started to regret not having another gel, thinking it would help a little although I wasn't sure I would be able to digest it. The hill came... and it was painful. I was now in a full-scale bonk and I didn't could hardly find the energy to turn the cranks over. I was mentally debating dropping out of the race as my speed got slower and slower. Finally the hills were over and I got of the bike. I walked slowly back to the rack just trying to compose myself.

Run (6.2 Miles)
Once I got into transition I never really considered stopping, I just grabbed my extra gel and headed off. The run starts pretty convoluted, winding through the park in a clear attempt to add a bit of mileage just so they could get in the 6.2 needed. I grabbed a cup of gatorade immediately and just started jogging. I actually felt okay, my legs were in decent shape I just had no reserves. Out of the park and the hills started. I guess the use of Hills in the name of the race should have been a giveaway, but the course just seemed really brutal.

I walked many of the hills and tried to jog the flats and downhills. I ended up having to stop just a mile or so into the run to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately there were no porta-potties available, an experience I will leave un-elaborated. I managed to catch a young woman who was doing her first olympic distance triathlon and we ran together for much of the last few miles trying to encourage each other. That helped and I managed to finish okay with a total time of 3:19:12, about 4 minutes behind my uncle.

The gruesome aftermath :)
In retrospect it probably wasn't a great idea to do the race, I suspect that it hurt more than helped. But, ultimately it was nice to spend the day with my uncle and it will make him happy to say he beat me in a race :) Plus, the post race food was good... although I still couldn't entirely appreciate it, and the post-race massage felt great.

Final splits
Swim - 35:21, T1 - 4:54, Bike - 1:26:29 (ouch), T2 - 1:18, Run -1:11:12 (Ouch again) - Total 3:19:12


Aug 6, 2007

Back from Vacation

I'm back from camping with the family... Hope to post the rest of my race report this week. I did get the event pictures from IMLP back, I even look like I'm running in one of them!


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