Thursday, March 31, 2011


Alright... so I orderd a TMAT PRO for this season to replace my golf towel that served as my transition area foundation... so what is a TMAT PRO?

  • It s a nice neoprene material available in multiple colors

  • Measures 21 x 30 inches*- fits compactly between bikes

  • Bright colors identify your transition space

  • Rolls up to fit in the side of a backpack

  • Clean-up is a breeze. Simply wash the mat with water. Apply Shout stain remover on tough stains.

  •      If you read my blog you know that this past weekend I competed in the PowerMan Alabama Double Oaks Duathlon in Oak Mountain State Park just outside of Birmingham. This was the inagural event for using my new TMAT PRO... as mentioned... it rolls up small enough to actually fit in the water bottle holder of my transition bag... which is really nice. Now... as I was setting up my transition area... the guy next to me asks me what it was and I proceed to tell him about it... he then thanks me for using it as it is going to serve as his visual clue for bike location.... 5 mins into this and there are already 2 happy people!
          Okay... at first I was not thrilled with the color but now in hindsight I am thrilled that it is bright yellow as it REALLY stands out in the congestion of the transition area. As it turns out... I end up having some of the fastest transition times in the entire event... partially due to practice and partially due to being able to quickly locate my area with complete ease.
        Please keep in mind that these mats can be used for a whole host of different things... you could put one in your gym bag or swim bag and use it for changing clothes in the locker room to ensure you know what you are standing on or for use in the shower... you could also use it as a stretching mat to avoid getting the morning dew on you before that early run... lots of options!
        Plus they are an Official Product Partner of Team In Training (TNT), the world’s largest endurance sports training and fundraising program.... and if you purchase a mat directly from their website they will make a $10 donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society... help yourself and help someone else in the process... win-win if you ask me!
         I am thrilled with my TMAT PRO so far and can highly recommend it at this point... I will continue to provide feedback throughout the season!

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Powerman Alabama Multisport Weekend

    A couple of months ago I signed Colby and I up for events this weekend... The PowerKids Duathlon (1/2mi/2.55mi/1/2mi) for him and the Double Oak Duathlon (2.5K/20K/2.5K) for me...

         Sherri, Colby and I headed up to Oak Mountain State Park in Birmingham for the PowerKids Duathlon. The weather was questionable with the expectation of rain and winds! Fortunately... it held out until we were done for the day!
         We discussed a race strategy for Colby, we walked the course and both of us knew he was ready...

         He started off super strong in what was a very competitive field...

    He proceeds to run the first run (1/2 mile) in 3:20... and I will tell you that the run was CHALLENGING... here is the elevation map! So he enters T1 looking really good and does a quick in and out...

    He hammers the 3 loop course on his new bike like a pro...look at that form!!!

    He has a quick T2 and heads out on the 2nd run... he runs a 3:41 for that half mile... and finishes with an amazing burst of speed... very strong!
     He ends up 3rd overall... 2nd in Age Group and we could not be more proud of him... what a great effort... there are more of these kind of events in his future! He has one speed... and it is all out!
         Following his event we headed over to pick up my race packet and then get some lunch on our way back home! Great way to spend our Saturday... 

        Pretty much status quo... up at 0511... BEFORE the alarm of course... head in for a shower and pre-race shave! Then brew up a cup of coffee and review the checklist again... because there is a chance it changed since I went to bed 8 hours ago! I load up the bike on the truck... review the checklist one more time... toast a bagel and top it with honey peanut butter as well as brew a second cup of coffee for the ride! It is funny how many times I went over the list given Duathlons require very little in the way of gear... but not having something will set a bad tone for the day and I don't want any distractions.
         Very uneventful drive up to Birmingham other than I cut the roof of mouth on the bagel... I over toasted it just a bit and the hard edge just caught me wrong and sliced me... DAMN! I went through some rain on the way up and was hoping it would stay away from Birmingham for a couple of hours... and it did! I arrived at Oak Mountain State Park and proceeded to the parking area... as soon as I got out of my truck I realized it was much colder than when I left our house... and I did not bring anything warm to wear... I sucked it up... put on my gear, pumped the tires up, strapped on my helmet, hoisted my transition bag and headed to the Transition area. 
         Once there I quickly found my spot and set everything up... my new T-Mat proved to be very helpful as the bright yellow made my area stand out very clearly... and the guy next to me actually thanked me for using it as he said it would serve as a great locator for him as well! The air was filled with classic rock music and pre-race anxiety but I had a distinct calmness about me... I head over to the body marking area... "How old are you?"... painfully I eek out "45"... USAT Age Up rule so this year I am in the 45-49 category. Now... an interesting thing about having your age on the back of your left calf... it allows you to see the age of people you are passing or passing you which serves as a great motivator along the way!
         I walk through the transition plan a couple of times to make sure I am ready... and then head out on a warm up run... I run an easy .75 miles to get the heart going and warm up the legs and then head over to watch the introductions of the Elite field. I strike up a conversation with a really nice guy from Denver that came down to race... 3X Kona Ironman finisher... his coach (62 years old and double heart valve replacement veteran) was from Atlanta and was racing for a USAT Long Course Age Group Championship... he and another athlete came down to cheer him on and race the event... another perfect example of the great people that are involved in this sport! They introduce the female Elites and we comment on how buff Michelle Parsons is... more on her later!

         Alright... 20 mins to go for my wave... off for one last nervous pee and then game time! As I make my way back to the start I realize just how calm I feel... still some pre-race nerves as you never know what your body is going to give you that day but I am confident from my training and I have a solid plan on how I want to execute the race...
    • First Run- 8:00/mile pace
    • Fast T1
    • Hammer the bike as hard as I can (I have ridden the course 4 times already)
    • Fast T2
    • Final Run- take whatever the body will give but watch heart rate
         We make our way into the chute.... hear the countdown... BANG... we are off... here is the run profile...
          As you can see... it is pretty much straight up the hill from the start but I had done the run a couple of times before and knew what to expect... so I hit it hard right from the start! A couple of quick glances at the Garmin shows sub 8:00/mile pace but I feel great and just go with it... I make my way down the hill to the turn around point, back up the hill we just came down, glance at the watch... still sub 8:00/mile... still feel great... the next time I look at my watch I realize I only have a 1/4 mile to go... I push the pace on the downhill and pop out of the woods and head into the Transition area... 11:43 for the first run (7:34/mile avg pace)... I quickly locate my bike... change shoes... helmet on... race number pushed to the back... unrack bike... and run with bike to the mount line... 47 seconds for T1... Now... this is where the old adage "Don't try something new on race day" comes in... I decide to do a "flying mount"... WHY? I don't really know... adrenaline... confidence... stupidity... probably a combination of them all... So I proceed with the prostate check by hurling myself up and onto the bike while running and WHAM... perfect landing... on the soft undercarriage... NOT GOOD... but I click into the pedals and start pedaling like a madman having just been kicked in the jimmies... so the first half mile or so was sort of a mental badminton match as my prostate cursed my brain for trying something new... that is a technique I will practice before trying again. But the pain quickly subsided and I got back to the task at hand. As we approached the bottom of the first little hill there was a 90 degree right hand turn that I had done previously and knew I could really keep my speed up if I swung wide... but a bunch of folks where heavy on the brakes and being cautious going into the turn so I picked a line and shot around them at twice their speed... knowing the course was already paying off. So I start to really get into a rhythm... and here is the elevation of the ride...
        Again... a hilly ride... so I am plugging along at what feels like a good pace when I get passed by 2 guys on tri bikes within about 30 secs of each other... just before that climb at the 2.7 mile mark... but as we start the climb I have them as targets out in front of me and realize I am gaining on them at a fast clip... I blow by them about 3.4 miles into the ride and they are never to be seen again... all of the hill training I have been doing is PAYING OFF IN A HUGE WAY! So I continue with the plan and continue to pass a lot of folks on the climbs as I make my way to the turn around point... again... as I near the turn around there are some riders slowing way down to make the 180 degree turn around... I come screaming into the turn around at 25mph... hard on the brakes... around the cone... then sprint acceleration back up the hill we had just come down... I passed easily 8 riders on the turn around. I continue with the plan and everything is going great... the miles are ticking off... I am completely comfortable in the new aero position and my legs are feeling great... as I pass the 11 mile mark I look at my bike computer and see I am clicking along at 25mph and feeling great when I hear that unmistakable sound of a high end carbon tri bike... WHOOSH... Michelle Parsons... buff girl mentioned previously... goes by me like I am out on a Sunday stroll... she had to be going 35+... SPECTACULAR effort and amazing to see someone with that kind of speed! Quickly I come up on the 90 degree left hand turn and know I am 1 mile from the finish... keep pressing I tell myself... as I near the Transition area I reach down and unstrap my shoes... and pedal the last 100 yards into the transition with my feet on top of my shoes... I come screaming to the dismount line and hop off my bike in a perfect running stride... 40:52 for the 12.52 mile ride (18.4mph avg and my best bike split on that course by nearly a minute)... I see my bright yellow T-Mat... quickly rack my bike... helmet off... shoes on... hat on... and out on the second run... 37 seconds for T2 (fastest T2 in the entire event)... 
           So I start back up that beast of a hill hoping my legs get under me quickly... they are a bit heavy but not too bad...  but I feel like I am barely moving... quick glance at the Garmin shows 8:20/mile pace... WOW... not bad for uphill I say to myself... at this point I realize there are guys coming back down the hill inbound to the finish line... I have got to push myself... I continue to run with my best effort... and as I make my way down the last part of the hill and can hear the announcer I get that rush... I am about to finish... I push through the chute... 12:22 (7:59/mile avg pace)... I am stoked... and really proud of the effort I gave... unfortunately no one came with me so I rejoiced internally and felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction on what I had just accomplished as I realized my training was working... my numbers exceeded my expectations!
          I headed into the Transition area to get my stuff... downed a bottle of Fluid Recovery Treasure Berry drink... and walked my bike back to my truck... it was at this point that I realized just how chilly it had gotten... I was sweaty and thought maybe that made it feel cool... but once back at my truck I checked the temperature gauge to find out that it was 10 degrees cooler than when we started... I really wish I had brought some warmer clothes... but I put on what I had which included a long sleeve winter running shirt and headed back up to watch the Elite racers come in on one of their 3 laps of the bike course... AWESOME... fine tuned racing machines... and they can truly hammer on a bike... spectacular to watch!!!
         So I make my way back up to the tent area to watch the awards  be given out for our event... when to my surprise they call my name as the 2nd place finisher in the "Beginner" category... anyone with 3 or less previous races was included in this category... and my effort was good enough to earn a 2nd place finish... I scored a great gift bag put together by Bike Link of Birmingham... what a deal!

          After watching all of the Age Group winners claim their prizes... I grabbed a banana for the road and headed for my truck. I rode most of the way home in total silence... simply reflecting on the event... what went well... what I can improve on... and realizing how I would not be as prepared as I was without the support of my family and friends... then WHAM... it hits me... if I don't pick it up some... it will not be long before I hear Colby saying to me... "On your left... old man!"

    Attitude trumps pain!!!

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Grease Monkey Wipes Review

    Alright... I ordered some Grease Monkey Wipes as they are one of our sponsors... both a canister as well as some of the individually packaged wipes for traveling. Here is the website...

    Grease Monkey Wipes are multi-purpose cleaning wipes that use an all natural citrus formula for heavy duty cleaning. Each wipe easily removes grease, grime, oil, paint, marker and other messes from skin and surfaces.

    I have used these wipes twice now... once after swapping the rear cassette on my bike from my training wheel to my race wheel... and then again today after changing the oil in my truck... THESE THINGS ROCK!!! They really work... 

    Both times I have been truly impressed with how well these things work... not only did they clean my hands but they also cleaned off my bike parts... PERFECTLY every time!

    Things I like about them

    • They work as advertised
    • Clean citrus smell
    • Fabric like material
    • Durable- don't fall apart when scrubbing hard
    • Cleaning power
    • Individually wrapped for easy travel
    Things I would change
    • Maybe a bit larger in size but that is being picky
    Bottom line: Highly recommended... you will love having these in your garage, car,  seat bag, purse, diaper bag or transition bag.... you name it... and they work!

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    First Duathlon- New Park Family Duathlon

    Montgomery Multisport, our local tri store, hosted a family style duathlon in conjunction with the newest YMCA in Montgomery to raise some funds for their kids programs. Since Colby and I are signed up to compete in the Powerman Alabama Duathlon at the end of the month I thought it would be a great opportunity for both of us to get in the racing spirit and work out any kinks in our plans.

    Friday 04 March 2011
          After work on Friday I headed over to MMS for race packet pickup... I picked up our stuff and we scored a couple of really nice shirts. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon... which will not be the case in 12 hours.
         Now... as I have pointed out previously... my pre-race dinner tradition consists of pizza and a beer... but Friday nights are our family night at Mexico Tipico... our local mexican watering hole... like creatures of habit we go there nearly every Friday night... sit in "our" waiter's section (Thanks Chris)... and rarely have to look at a menu or order drinks... he simply shows up at the table with 6 waters, 1 orange soda, 1 lemonade, 1 frozen margarita and 1 Negra Modelo... along with chips, salsa and chori-queso... that's right... browned up bits of chorizo sausage covered with velvety smooth white queso... let the weekend begin! Okay... normally I could have persuaded the family to swap nights on the mexican food for pizza but given the girls missed out last Friday because of their trip to Memphis they were not in the mood for anything except Mexico Tipico! SO... here was my dilemma... get pizza by myself or suck it up and put tradition aside to have dinner with my family... of course I chose family...
         Okay... I had the option of going easy on my menu choice realizing it was going to be an early start on Saturday... beans were out for obvious reasons... but under the pressure of ordering I caved and got my "usual"... Tacos De Pollo... scrumptious grilled chicken chunks served on soft flour tortillas with a bowl of pico de gallo and "Tipico sauce"... now the pico is fairly benign with the requisite tomatoes, onions, jalapeƱos and cilantro... but the sauce is a house blend of a dozen different peppers... AND IT IS HOT! It is one of those dishes I simply cannot get enough of... picture the scene from Along Came Polly when they are eating at the Indian restaurant... Reuben covered in sweat... that is me on Friday nights! Anyway... we have an enjoyable evening as a family and life is good... but much like the weather... that too will change in 12 hours!
          After dinner.. I introduce my son to the "Duathlon Checklist" ... a systematic packing, repacking, checklist following insanely anal retentive process I subject myself to before every race... and just as you would expect a 12 year old boy to do... he grabs his bike helmet, race belt with number and calls it a night... done! For the next hour I obsess over making sure I have everything... once, twice... possibly even a 3rd time... and pack, unpack and repack as I visually go over the transition area setup... and T1/T2 process... I take another look at the weather for the morning as I try to decide what clothes I need... 100% chance of precipitation and high winds! Now... MMS sent out an email on Friday stating... short of lightening... we are racing... so game on! I decide on a game plan and then hit the rack as I have the alarm set for 0500.

    Saturday 05 March 2011
         0430... I am up... no alarm needed... race day jitters??? Nope... go back to Along Came Polly... now I don't have IBS... clinically speaking that is... but much like Reuben in that scene following dinner... I can actually hear the Tipico Sauce screaming for attention... I decide to get up and make some coffee... then at the Mission Commander's discretion I proceed to the "EMERGENCY JETTISON AREA"... let me just say this... from now on I will eat pizza by myself if required.
         Okay... I am back on track... I make a double portion of steel cut oatmeal for Colby and I... with peanut butter and wildflower honey... of course he has to add chocolate chips because he is 12 and needs the extra sugar... NOT! I have a cup of coffee... some oatmeal... a glass of water... then get back to my pre-race routine and take a shower and shave. Now... it is raining when I get up... I have mentally conceded that we cannot alter the weather and I am prepared to deal with it head on... we finish up our morning routine... I load the bikes on the rack... we gather our stuff... review the checklist one more time... and we are out the door at 0615.
          We arrive at the YMCA at 0655... it is pouring rain... Colby and Sherri sit in the comfort of my truck as I unrack the bikes and take them into the transition area... the race starts in 30 minutes and I can tell already that the weather has kept a lot of folks away... only the die hards are out and that is readily obvious by a review of the equipment hanging on the bike racks... I get us set up and then make my way to the pre-race meeting... now... this was a family duathlon... parents were encouraged to complete the event with their child so there were a bunch of Dads running and riding along side their kids... WAY COOL! We get the safety brief from the race director and a 10 min warning...
         I go back to my truck... give Colby the overview and pep talk.... "run your own race"... something I have preached to him over and over again... we grab an umbrella and make our way over to the starting area... I go over the transition plan with him one more time... helmet, bike, computer on... he is ready! We gather at the starting line... give him one last word of encouragement... and BANG... they are off... his event is 1 mile run/4 mile bike/ 1/2 mile run... the plan was to let the kids get started and once the last one was on the bike... the adult event would start. So.. as Sherri and I stand there huddled under the umbrella.. me shivering nonstop... it is 55 degrees, windy and raining cats and dogs... we hear them announce that the first runner is making the final turn  back towards the line... no surprise to us... we see his bright orange/yellow shirt...

       He quickly makes his way into T1... and heads back out in the lead for the bike ride..

         We watch as more and more kids come into T1... knowing that when the last one gets on their bike we will start our race... so the last little one heads out of T1 and we get a "5 min warning for adults".... but wait... the race director announces... "change of plans... here comes the first bike rider back into transition"... and here comes Colby...

          He is jamming at this point... he completed the ride with a 14.5mph average and 88 average cadence... and given the high winds and rain... AMAZING effort! So as soon as he is off his bike and out for the final run... they quickly gather the adults and BANG... we are off!
          I quickly settle into a nice pace... the plan was to run the first leg at a 8 min/mile pace... as we make the first turn I see Colby headed back in... I yell to him that there is someone closing on him and he quickly looks over his shoulder and turns it on...

    And the overall youth winner is...

          COLBY ASKINS... he led from start to finish... and we could not be more proud of him... especially when you consider he did very little training... ah yes... to be young with flexible hamstrings...

    I digress....
          Okay... at this point I am fairly confident he will win his event as I make my way out on the run... a few glances at the watch show a steady 7:50/mile pace and low heart rate... I feel great... and despite the weather it is actually keeping me cool. I continue to maintain pace and cross into T1 at 15:47... 7:53/mile average... I quickly swap out shoes, put my helmet on and head out on the bike... 38 second transition... nice to be at one of the first bike racks!
          So I head out on the bike... I crank out a max effort sprint to get up to speed and quickly realize that the water on the road is incredible.. I make my way out of the neighborhood and out onto the main road where we end up going straight into the wind... okay.. the National Weather Service issued a high wind advisory... 12-15mph winds with gusts to 25+... for the next 4 miles we are headed straight into the wind and I was quickly wishing for the light drizzle as the rains REALLY picked up in intensity. I push with a steady effort to the first turn around looking forward to the tailwind I know is coming... during the first portion of the ride I pass 6 other bikes and I am feeling very confident... we then make a right hand turn back into the country and I settle in on a comfortable pace and finally relax on the aero bars which up to this point I had a death grip on... AHHH... my shoulder blades breath a sigh of relief. I end up getting passed by two guys on this portion of the ride... they get a couple hundred yards out in front of me but then never any further... I am able to maintain my speed. I complete the loop through the country and make my way back out onto the main road and the tailwind... I pop a couple of GU Chomps and swig down some water... still feel great.... I make my way back to the transition area... 33:18... 19mph avg... and at this point I am 100% wet... I rack my bike... put my running shoes back on and at this point they feel like they weigh 10 pounds from the rain... throw on my hat... Sherri asks... "feel okay?".... "Yup... just wet"... Colby says... "Run your own race Dad... remember you have trained for this"... and back out on the course I go... 42 second transition...
         Now... coming off the bike and into the run... the legs are always heavy... and given the water logged shoes... they feel extraordinarily heavy at this point... I don't really feel like I am running but a quick look at the watch and I am running a 8:14/mile pace... OKAY... let's see if I can keep this up... as I hit about 3/4 mile I hear a guy coming up from behind me... I passed him out of T2... he settles in next to me.. we exchange comments about the wind and rain on the bike... he says to me... "I keep thinking about what your son said... run your own race...."... then BAM... he takes off... running what has to be about 6:30min/mile pace... I let him go and settle into my own groove. I make the turn and head back home... at this point I can see the folks behind me and realize I am about 30 seconds ahead of my nearest competitor... I settle into a nice pace and my HR looks fantastic... as I make the second to last turn I can see the guy behind me is closer... so I pick it up just a hair... then as I make the final turn I can hear him... I pick it WAY UP... we end up in an all out sprint for the last 200 yards...

          And I finish just ahead of him... GREAT RACE... 15:59 on the 2nd run... 7:59min/mile average... I am thrilled with my overall effort... especially given the conditions... and I am still smiling when done!

    Overall... 1:06:24... 21st finisher... 9th in my AG... and despite the smaller than signed up field... the competition was tougher!

    To the victor go the spoils... Colby was handsomely rewarded with a "First Place" plaque and brand new 4th Generation Ipod Touch... my boy... proud Dad!