Monday, May 31, 2010

I am so lucky.

Before I get to why, let me say thanks to all active duty military folks and veterans. Without you, I wouldn't be free to be so lucky. You guys and girls rock!

So for the holiday, I decided I would do my longest ride to date. I planned on a 40 miler. I got thinking about how lucky I am. I have a bike trail across the street that offers an 8, 11, 15, and 26 mile loop as well as several 10 mile out and back spurs. Right across the street! The trail also leads to some nice single track areas about 3 miles away. Since I started tri training, I've been neglecting the mountain bike. I need to change that.

For this ride, I decided to take some pics. Many of them are while riding, including a couple of myself. I was a little worried I would drop the blackberry, but I managed not to.

Some areas are heavily traveled but after a couple miles it's mostly corn fields and road bikes. This pic below is of a sod farm. If you can grow nice grass, you can make money. My friend pointed out my yard isn't very nice, so I probably won't be a sod farmer :-).

Southern Illinois is mostly flat with a breeze from the West and lots of isolated thunderstorms rolling through. This thunderhead looks like it may move over me during the ride, we'll see. I don't mind getting wet, but really don't like biking in lightning.

There is a nice looking lake about 1/3 - 2/3 of the way through the loop depending on which way I ride it. I took the easy way today. Wind at my back for the long West to East stretch. I really should ride it the other way more. My first two Sprints had a stiff head wind on the way back.

About 2 miles from home, it did start to rain. No big deal, just meant I needed to spend a few minutes drying and relubing after the ride. My teenage son decided he wanted to do something with me today, so I gladly cut the ride short at 26 miles so we could hang out. We had an awesome day at the city museum. It's an indoor/outdoor park where you climb up, over, through, under all sorts of obstacles. We had a blast.

Back to being lucky, I have a YMCA in my neighboorhood that has a nice pool. Cheryl works there, so I get a free membership (that I didn't do anything with for 10 years). So this weekend, I ran the 8 mile loop, did 2000 yards in the pool, and road the 26 mile loop, all without any traveling. As a triathlete, I consider myself very lucky. I should have started tri training 10 years ago. Oh well, better late than never.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Second Tri

My second tri was not near the discovery process as my first one since I knew what to expect. In some ways it was more fun. I was much less nervous and I got to race with a friend I met through a tri forum,
Cheryl jokes that I was going to see the guy I met on the internet :-). Funny, his wife made the same joke to their friends. Anyway, racing with friends is way more fun than racing solo in my opinion. I'll have more pics to post soon thanks to Ryan's wife Annie. Annie also rang a cow bell to cheer us on as we ran past. Thanks Annie! You are Awesome!--->>>
Once I get the race the race pics from Annie and Ryan, I'll make another post.

In some ways the second race was less fun. Cheryl couldn't be there so these pics were all by me. I had a cold all week and still had a sore throat and congestion race day. Luckily I didn't feel too achy or I was going to bag it and just root for Ryan.

The swim course was very nice and the lake had a nice beach. We were able to go out and swim the course the day before which is always helpful. My goal was to pace myself so I didn't have to stop and to sight better so I didn't swim extra yardage. I think I succeeded on both. It's hard to tell on the time since this race was a little longer and there was a steep hill to run up getting out of the water on the way to T1. As I was running (shuffling/walking/trying to jog) I pulled the top of the wetsuit off and left my goggles/swim cap in the sleeve. My goggles and swim cap must have fallin out of my wet suit sleeve while running up the hill. $30 extra bucks for one race down the tubes.

The bike route was a flat out and back and just like last week, we had a good tail wind on the way out, and a stiff headwind on the way back. I averaged a little more than a half mile an hour faster than last week and my toes got less numb. The weather was much warmer so I don't know if moving my cleats back to the far back position helped or not. I've only been riding since January but, my toes would go numb even during rides on the trainer.

The run was brutal. Our wave didn't start until 9:35 and by the time we hit the run it was mid 80's, humid and the run was across a concrete dam, up a steep hill then down a hill then turn around and come back. It was like running in a sauna. I just kept thinking, it's only 5k, so I poured water on my head at every aid station to keep cool. I did walk up both hills which really hurt my time. I was 40 seconds slower per mile than last weekend. Last weekend, I was 20 seconds slower per mile than practice bricks. I guess the good news is I have some easy improvements to make if I bring my run fitness back to the 1/2 mary level I had last month.

Afterward, I was really hot and really glad I wasn't doing the Olympic distance race. In fact, both races I have thought the same thing. Doing a race for an hour and 20 minutes or so is one thing. Three hours or so is a different game. It takes me about two hours for a half marathon and the difference between a two hour race and a three hour race is gaining some respect in my mind.

Here is a post race self pic. Much hotter but my smile is wider :-). I was spent though. I didn't want to move or eat. I just wanted to pour cold water on my head and drink water and Gatorade.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My First Tri

Well I finally did it. Thirteen months after setting the goal of doing a tri, I did my first one yesterday. It was a sprint tri in Effingham, IL. When I first set the goal, it was just to finish. As time went by, I set a goal time and reduced it a couple times during the year of getting in better shape.

Cheryl was able to go to the race too, so that was nice. The day before we checked out the race site, drove the course, went out to dinner and watched a movie. I got up at five in the morning to get ready. I was a bit nervous so I ate less breakfast than normal. The weather wasn't perfect (53 degrees and raining) so I missed out on some pre-race comaraderie, but I had a blast anyway.

I racked my bike, set up my gear then covered it all with trash bags. There were a lot of really sweet tri bikes there. Lots of wheel sets that were easily twice what my bike cost. I was hopeful I would pass at least one of these $5k+ bikes. I figured someone had to have more money than fitness, but I was wrong. Well, I did pass one Cervelo, because they had a mechanical problem :-).

About 15 minutes before the race, I put my wetsuit on. My hands and feet were cold, but the wetsuit kept everything else nice and warm. My feet got ice cream head aches walking down to the lake. It was a mass start and I stayed back for about 15 seconds to let most of crowd pass since it was my first OWS in a crowd. The first 25 yards or so had really thick seaweed. It felt like the seaweed was grabbing me and trying to pull me under like in a horror movie, but I didn't panic. In fact, I was very comfortable with the swim. I stopped a couple times to get my bearings and just look around and enjoy it. I had some trouble sighting and definitely got my money's worth out of the swim course. I easily got an extra 100 yards out of it :-).

Once out of the water, I ran up to the transition area. I had a water bottle to wash the sand of my feet, but it was so wet and muddy, I didn't bother. I could have been a little faster in T1, but I was enjoying it. Cheryl was on the other side of the fence asking if I was having fun so I chatted with her while I stripped off the wetsuit and put on socks and bike shoes.

Nice pic of me chatting in T1. Probably why my time was almost two minutes. Then I was off.

Everything was fine on the bike but my fingers. My speedometer got messed up so I had no idea how fast I was going, but I felt good. At one point I noticed I wasn't breathing very hard, so I picked it up a little. It was an out and back (which was nice since there were only three turns on the whole course and me having not biked much in the rain) and I felt great on the way out. The way back was West to East so I thought I would be even faster on the way back. Nope! The wind was coming straight from the East (note to self, check the wind next time). No big deal. It's only a sprint.

Back to the transition area, no fancy flying dismounts or anything, keep it simple. This transition was faster (under a minute). I had dry socks but didn't bother. Everything was wet and muddy and my toes were numb. They always go numb when I ride and the cold made it worse.

Off to the run.

I felt pretty good and was having fun. Two of my numb toes felt like something was jammed in between them so I stopped about a half mile into it and took off my shoe. Nothing jammed in the shoe, just numb toes. They finally stopped being numb in the last mile.

I could have pushed it a little harder on the run, but not much. Overall I missed my goal time by two minutes. If I had taken a slightly less scenic swim, I would have hit that easily.

Overall, it was a great experience and I had a huge smile on my face the whole time. If I had to sum up the experience in one word, it would be "alive". I read several blogs from triathletes and I always think, wow, they seem so alive and enjoying life. Doing my first tri made me feel that way too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Tomorrow is my first tri and I'm getting very exciting about it. The weather looks like it will be 60 degrees and raining. Oh well, it could be worse. At least the bike leg only has three turns so the wet pavement shouldn't be a big problem. They are calling for thundershowers though. I really hope there isn't any lightning. It would be a bummer for my first tri to be a duathlon. Back to the things I can control....

I made a checklist of things to bring and keep adding to it.
As I remember things, like garbage bags to keep my stuff in the transition area dry, I throw them on top of the pile.Once Josh wakes up off the couch, could be a while (teenage boy :-)), I'll get it all organized and packed. Right now the pile kind of looks like Josh's room :-).

I'm also doing some mental prep, walking through the day tomorrow in my mind. Speaking of mental prep, I had my first tri dream while I was in Brazil this week. I started the swim just fine, waiting about 15 seconds to let the whirlpool of people start ahead of me so I didn't get banged around too much. No problems with the swim, got out of the lake huffing and puffing as expected, ran to my bike rack location and no bike. I ran to every rack and back again, no bike. Then it dawned on me. I did so much mental prep, I thought I had racked my bike, but is was still in my car. The first thing that popped in my head was how embarrassed I was going to be to tell my friends and family I DNF'd my first race because I didn't rack my bike. Pretty funny.

I have a bit of nervous energy building. I tried to go for a short swim/bike session yesterday to loosen up. It was the first time I put my bike in my car and I really didn't like how it fit in the car so instead of swimming and biking, I went to the LBS to buy a bike rack. They didn't have one in stock so I need to do a some research and order one. So, no swim/bike and no bike rack. At least I know my bike will fit ok in the car.

So the plan today is to pack my gear, then head to Effingham to check in to a hotel. Later today I'll check out the course and go out to dinner with Cheryl. Then relax and try to get some sleep.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

First OWS

So my first tri is next weekend and all of my swimming has been in a pool. A friend's in laws have a place on a local lake and he offered to let me swim there. I was thrilled since swimming in open water for the first time at a race probably isn't the best idea. My main goal was to get comfortable in open water and wearing a wetsuit. The day was chilly. My friend stayed on shore in long pants, long sleeve shirt and a jacket. His mother-in-law wore a winter coat to watch the crazy wanna be triathlete swim in the lake when most boaters stayed home.

I put on the wet suit (the right way this time, I put it on zipper front when I first got it) and get ready to go. My friend was fantastic, he had a life vest in his hand and was ready to jump in and swim out to me if something really bad happened. The mother-in-law was fantastic. Showed me where I could shower when I was done, made hot coffee, offered me shoes to walk down to the dock, she was great. I walked down to the dock. My friend and the mother-in-law are cold. I feel good because stuffing yourself in to a wetsuit is a work out and I'm pretty warm. I measured the surface temp with a cooking thermometer and it at upper 60's. I was expecting upper 50's so that was nice. I get in and the water feels fine. I swam out and back a few times, tried a couple pair of goggles to see which one fit best, treaded water for a while, and basically just got comfortable. It was very calming though my form and sighting are going to be an issue in the race. With random waves hitting my face while breathing, I did take in some water. With the waves, I also wasn't able to streamline as much. And of course with no line on the bottom of the lake, I didn't swim straight. I can get better at all those things with practice. The main goal here was not to freak out, cramp up, have the heart rate go through the roof, oh yea, and avoid a heart attack due to the cold :-).

Head is too high, reach is too short, blah blah blah, I have work to do.

Once I got out of the water, I had some rolled up socks and my bike shoes laid out on a towel so I could practice the transition. I was breathing pretty hard, but managed to get the wet suit off with out too much trouble, roll the socks on, put on the bike shoes, then I was good, and getting cold quickly. My friend kept asking if I was cold, since he was cold while watching. I was in tri shorts and a tri top and very wet. I imagine I was in race mode because I didn't even think about being cold until after I was done with the transition, and I was breathing pretty hard. At that point I would be spinning away generating plenty of heat, so as long as the temps are above 55 or so, I should be fine until I cross the finish line. At that point, I will need to find heat fast.
Overall, it was a success. Thanks Craig! I owe you one.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Under two weeks to go

A week from Sunday I'll be doing my first tri. May 16th in Effingham IL. I'm well prepared for the distance, it's only a 0.25 mile swim, 13 mile bike and 5k run. What I'm not prepared for is swimming in a wetsuit, open water swimming, swim to bike transition, etc. I don't have access to a lake so that is just how it is going to be. I guess I can look at it like practice for my second Sprint the following weekend.

The biggest concern at this point is lower back pain. It has been hurting for a few days now. It was so stiff and sore this morning that my run before work turned in to a walk after about 100 yards. The good news is that it doesn't bother me much on the swim. I swam my fastest 100 and 400 ever last night. The other good news is that it doesn't hurt much when I bike. Tonight I managed a bike/run brick and had only minor discomfort (besides the normal discomfort of running off the bike).

I've had bouts of this lower back problem before. Two times ago it was really bad and I decided to try a chiropractor. He gave me some back exercises (and of course adjustments) to do and after a couple weeks, my back was fine. Of course once my back was better, I quit doing the exercises until it hurt again. Note to self: Keep doing back exercises even when your back doesn't hurt. So of course I'm doing the exercises again. I saw the chiropractor Friday (new guy) and he gave me some new exercises. I have a second appointment tomorrow.

Over the next few days I'll finalize my equipment list, make sure my bike fits in my car (if I take the wheels off) and practice getting my wetsuit off in a hurry. I really dread practicing that since it is a workout just to get it on. Oh well, I need to do it.

That's all for now.