Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Volunteering at IM Branson 70.3

My father-in-law and step mother-in-law live in Nixa Missouri near Branson so Cheryl and I planned to visit them during the Branson 70.3 tri so I could volunteer. I also planned to get a long run in Saturday morning while they went shopping. Well, Cheryl ended up with a bad cold and didn't make the trip but I was already signed up to work the bike checkin Saturday from 2pm to 6pm and T1 Sunday morning from 4:30am until 9:30 am so I went. I arrived Friday night and within 5 minutes I had both their laptops in front of me so I could do tech support. It was kinda cute trying to help a 76 and 81 year old non-tech savvy user use a laptop. I think it's great they are embracing technology.

Anyway, I skipped my long run Saturday morning because I lost my wingman due to a cold and would have felt guilty leaving for two hours. As a bonus, I received a delicious belt buster breakfast of sausage, eggs, and toast. About noon I made my way to T1 and got my assignment. Body marking! It was really hot, like 95 degrees plus, so we had to wipe the sweat off the athletes to put their race number and age on. I was beat after being in the heat for 4 hours and I kept thinking I wouldn't want to be running a half marathon let alone a HIM in this. It was cool talking to the athletes and just people watching. One guy I marked didn't have shaved legs and said "I bet I'm one of the few without shaved legs". His wife then said she wouldn't let him because it wasn't manly. I told him I wasn't really keeping track but it was probably closer to 50/50. I think the serious bikers shave their legs along with some guys that just like the looks. Sorry dude, I didn't help your cause.

Here are a couple pics of the lake and the bike store, I mean T1 on Saturday.

Saturday night I stayed in my father-in-laws camper about 10 minutes from T1. They made me a very nice dinner and I was starving. I "slept" on a pull out camper bed. It wasn't very comfortable at all and I kept waking up. Finally at 3:20am I said screw it, I might as well find some coffee and get moving. I got to the race site and was setting up to do more body marking when they realized the buses dropping off families and athletes didn't know where to turn around so I ended up directing bus traffic until the start of the race. Both Saturday and Sunday is was interesting to watch the athletes. There was a wide range of emotions from calm, to in the zone, to scared, to nervous, to joking with friends like they were going out to a baseball game. So far I've been in the quiet/nervous camp when I've raced. It was also interesting to see the different body types.

Once the buses stopped running, I was able to take a couple pics of the swim (from a distance).

Then I was the last volunteer out of T1 doing crowd control. I was a couple hundred yards away making sure the athletes went the right way and trying to keep stupid people from getting their children run over. Let me just say Darwinism is strong.

From my vantage point I got to see every single bike leave from within 10 feet of me. I clapped and yelled encouraging words pretty much the entire time. I went through a wide range of emotions watching the different levels of athletes go by. A friend on BT asked me how it went and I summed up the bike exit emotions as follows.

Pros = sheer awe (super fast,in great shape and in a totally different world)
FOP AGers = seriously thought about quitting doing tris since I will never be there.
MOP AGers = changed back to, these people look like my level of fitness and if they can do it, I can too.
BOP AGers = very inspiring
DNF the swim = sad (3 bikes left in T1 when we cleaned up)

Here is a pic of a couple pro women leaving T1. I had hoped to take more pics but I had to save the children :-).

Once all the bikes that were going to leave were gone, I helped clean up T1. There were three bikes left and I had to move one over to the fence so we could take down the racks. Kind of sad.

Overall volunteering was a great experience. Branson is a beautiful and very challenging course. If you raced it and finished, congrats! The hills were some of the toughest on an IM course and the heat was brutal. The run turned in to a death march for many. If I can get in good enough shape next year, I will race it instead of volunteer.

Anyway, my half marathon is a week from this Sunday and I'm feeling good. I missed my long run on the weekend but had a good 10k Monday night and plan 8.5 miles or so Wednesday night. My intervals last night were tough, but I feel like I'm on the verge of a step change in running speed. The trick will be keeping the volume up once the half marathon is done. I've never been able to keep it up over the winter before. My friend Ryan and I are still deciding what HIM to sign up for this spring. Hopefully signing up for one will give me the motivation to keep my running volume up as well as spend LOTS of time on the trainer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

3 weeks until the half marathon

Some day I'm going to blog that I'm running 8:30 miles instead of 9:30 miles. Today is not that day :-).

This week was fairly uneventful. Run volume was down a little due to things being busy at work and home. Still pretty good compared to my last half, though I am biking and swimming much less for this one. I decided to compare this vs. last to see how true that is.

Last 13 weeks this half run/bike/swim vs. last half marathon (in April)

The results were more interesting than I thought they would be :-). Training for this half mary I started in June thus the larger bike miles since it is summer. I'm going to have to make friends with my trainer and have some mental toughness this winter/spring. I also hurt my shoulders in July training for an Olympic tri, thus the drop in swim volume. Overall 20 percent more running, 3x the biking, and 25 less swimming.

I did get a new Ipod this week! My long runs were getting mentally challenging with no tunes. Apple went back to the square style shuffles (good move!). The newer style shuffles had the controls on the ear bud cable and broke after a couple uses if you sweat on them while exercising. The new ones are slightly smaller, hold 2 GB of music and are $46 (at least at the Walmart by me).

Oh, check back in a couple weeks. My friend Ryan and I are thinking about signing up for IM 70.3 New Orleans in April. I got the ok from Cheryl, now it's up to me. I haven't hit the pool in 2 months and I'm still in PT for my shoulders. They seem to be getting better so as long as I take it wasy on them the swim shouldn't be too bad. We'll see.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

4 weeks until the half marathon

I managed to get 30 miles in again this week and my legs are tired! My schedule wasn't ideal, it never really is. Life, weather, motivation, and fatigue cause me to switch all the time. So my ideal week (in miles is) 3-6-3-6-3-9-0. I've never run 6 days in a row and running Monday morning is really tough for me, so I miss at least one of those runs. This week, I got up at 5 something Wednesday and it started storming, then I felt like crap for some reason all day. Woke up at 5 something Thursday, checked the radar on my phone and yep, another storm so I went back to bed. Managed to run after work but cut it short because the humidity broke Friday and I took the afternoon off to do my long run so I could smoke a couple briskets Saturday. So this week was 0-6-0-3.5-11-3.5-6. Not too shabby (for me).

My legs are getting sore. I think I had some sort of bug Wednesday which made things a little worse. On my long run Friday, my legs actually started getting much more sore during the last 5 miles of my run. Usually they get sore after a run, not during. About a half hour out, I decided I would do my first ever ice bath when I got back. Yep, it was that bad. I got home, wobbled to the kitchen to drink a glass of water and a glass of milk with protein powder then started going upstairs with the ice box from our fridge. Cheryl was trying to show me the new faucet we are getting in 2 weeks and she was very excited, I was a hurting puppy and she could tell. I made my way upstairs, ran cold water in the tub up to about my hips, and dumped the ice in. I could have used more ice but it was cold enough. Stepping in was brutal, sitting down even more so, but after about a minute, my legs were numb and it wasn't so bad. I have Reynaud's and knew that my fingers would probably turn white with the rapid drop in body temp so I wore a shirt to try to stay a little warm. Well, the back if the shirt dropped in the water so while my legs were numb and fine, my back was freezing as the ice water wicked up the back of my shirt. I sat it the bath for a while and I think it helped. It took a good half hour to get warmed up. Lesson learned. For my next ice bath, I will take an old sweatshirt and cut it off, wear a hat, and maybe mittens.

The ice bath worked well enough to run a slow 5k Saturday. Sunday I was still sore but seemed to loosen up as I walked around. I read on BT that another way to recover is to do an easy recovery bike ride. The idea is to spin at a good cadence with very little strain. So I decided I would run my 10k training run then take a little spin.
It worked out great because I have neglected my mountain bike for two years since I started endurance sports. I've walked by my old bike covered with dust and cobb webs for too long so after my run, I cleaned her up, lubed the chain, and took of on a very slow recovery ride. I also used the opportunity to take pictures of my 11 mile run route. You didn't know you were so lucky :-).

I have miles and miles of paved trails with one of them right across the street from my house. I have a 2, 8, 11, 15, and 26 mile loop I can start from my house plus plenty of out and backs (of course). The trails are old rail lines and one still has an old water tower for the steam engines. They are fairly straight, fairly flat, and the trail people even tunneled under many of the main road crossings so the stopping is minimized.

Sorry about the formatting. It's not worth the extra time to make it look nicer.