Monday, June 13, 2011

Stringing it all together...

So I signed up to run the Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon which is one of the longest running triathlons in Alabama. The race honors the life of Buster Britton - one of the Birmingham area's original triathletes that lost his life in a fun run after completing the Hawaii Ironman only a short time earlier. Buster was a true inspiration for triathletes as the sport began to take shape in Alabama. Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon will qualify the top male and female state of Alabama resident for the 2011 Best of the USA Amateur Competition.... so this guarantees some great competition!

Now... interestingly... golfing and triathlons have some things in common... much like driving, chipping and putting... there is swimming, biking and running... each discipline in the respective sport requires attention and dedicated training. You can over practice in one area and under practice in another... and let's face it... there are some days where you just never know which person is going to show up... the one that can drive (swim) or the one that can putt (run)... but being able to string them all together on the same day is the goal!

Goal: top 10 Age Group finish
Event: 400y OWS/13 mile bike/5K run
Location: Oak Mountain State Park (VERY hilly bike and run but same course as Powerman)

Saturday 11 June 2011

0415- Alarm goes off... shower... shave... don race kit.... prepare coffee (thanks love for getting up and doing that)... prepare oatmeal.... scurry around the house going over the checklist one last time just to ensure I am not forgetting something.
     Now the beauty of today is that Cassidy and Sydney are going to join me for the event... I cannot begin to tell you just how nice it is to have family there to cheer you on... the "GO DADDY GO!!!" gives me goosebumps and is a real motivator. Okay... the really amazing part is that my 16 year old and 10 year old daughters are going to get up at 0430 on a Saturday morning to go with me.... love you guys for making that sacrifice!

0500- out the door for the 1+15 hour drive... eat my oatmeal... drink water and coffee... mentally go over the transitions and bike course in my head... 

0600- Eminem "Lose Yourself" on volume 11... just to get the game face on... the girls think I am nuts... probably some truth in there... 

0615- arrive at Oak Mountain State Park... $7 to get in which... {grabbing soapbox}... really pisses me off that they stage an event in a State Park and you are forced to pay the entry fee to get to the event... charge me $5 more on my race entry fee and make the entry to the park free... one car per racer... sheesh... {off soapbox}

0625- arrive in Transition and begin the setup... everything goes as planned... 
0700- Pre-race meeting to discuss course layout... then we head down to the water... plan is to get in and do a short warm up swim prior to the start... 

0710- arrive at the water exit point... girls grab a prime seat on the bench located on the hill side and have a front row seat to the water exit area. I walk over to the swim start... DOH... forgot to put on my heart rate monitor strap... oh well... at this point I can sense where my heart rate is based on feel... no worries! I make my way into the water and realize that the entry.... which is a time trial start... is into a mucky lake bed filled with rocks, sticks, trash can lid, etc... racers are in there pulling out all of the debris to avoid people getting hurt on water entry... NOT GOOD TEAM MAGIC! I do a quick 50 yard out and back swim... I feel good!

0730- Time trial swim starts... I am #155... before I know it... I am next... "GO"... I run down into the mucky lake... and run by a couple of swimmers that chose to start swimming early to avoid the bottom... I dive in and start the swim... I quickly settle into a nice rhythmic pace and having learned my lesson at Peachtree... I come up for a buoy sighting every 10th stroke... first 3 are spot on... so I put my head down and decide to power swim for 20 strokes... low and behold... when I come up to sight... I have gone left and now I am inside the intended line... I hunker down and get back on track... I round the first buoy making a left hand turn and start a really nice pace... very controlled... I feel great... next thing I know I am approaching the second left turn.. around the buoy and headed to the beach... and I am passing people... before I know it I am in shallow water... I stand up and run to the waters edge... swim cap and goggles off...  and up the hill... I hear "GO DADDY GO!!" (cue the goosebumps)

The swim time did not click over to T1 until we were at the top of the hill... and by all accounts I have read... most believe the swim was a bit long... Swim time= 7:55... 6th best in AG...

T1- I quickly make my way into Transition... find my bike... throw on my helmet, sunglasses, watch, cycling shoes and grab my bike... and run to the mount line... T1 time= 2:03... it could be a tad bit shorter but this included a lengthy run from the lake to the parking lot where Transition was staged.

FLYING MOUNT... I nailed it... passing several riders who stop to mount their bikes... I quickly start pedaling and once up to speed I click in my pedals... BEST ONE YET!!!

Bike- Now... I have ridden this course 7 times on several training rides as well as in the PowerMan Alabama race.. so I know the course and I have analyzed all the data... for some reason today was not my day on the bike... and for some other reason... I had my fastest average downhill speeds ever on this course and my slowest average uphill speeds... the result was a less than average ride... I am not really sure what was going on but I know I was very disappointed in the bike portion... I can only hope the guy that knows how to putt shows up today... 
     I get passed by several folks... all on triathlon bikes... I pass several on some of the climbs as well as a couple of folks on mountain bikes but that is less than satisfying... all in all it is a less than average ride.

T2- So I am coming into what I think is the end of the bike and the entry to Transition... I take my right foot out of my shoe and begin pedaling on top of my shoe... thinking I am about to make a left hand turn into T2.. but no one is signaling me to turn... I continue down the road and pass Transition on the left as I head back out into the woods the wrong direction... I panic... start pedaling harder... glad I have one foot still clicked in... I weave around the curvy, winding road... for what is a really scenic ride but there are ZERO people... and I do not see another rider anywhere... I make my way up the switchbacks... pedaling hard... in sheer panic that I am off course and missed a turn... I make it up the last switchback and realize I am heading back in the right direction finally... I can hear the announcer... WHEW... I am on the course... but this will serve as a serious lesson to double check the route and not assume it is the same as last time... I quickly take my left foot out of my shoe and pedal to the dismount line... 
Bike time= 45:03 (my worst effort by more than 4 mins; 17.3 mph avg; 10th in AG)

I quickly hop off the bike and start running with it to my spot... I find it easily... rack my bike, helmet off, hat on... Now... I pre-staged socks just in case I decided to run with socks although I had practiced without... it was only 0825 but it was already in the 90s and humid... I was soaked with sweat from the bike ride and decided to run with socks... this obviously costs time but I made my decision... 

Socks on... shoes on... grab my race belt... and I am off... I switch over my watch to running and will put my belt on as I run up the first hill... T2 time= 2:19

Run- now the run course was a mixed blessing.... it was on an unimproved road through the woods... so it was nicely shaded but IT WAS HILLY! the first 1/3 mile is straight up a hill... I feel pretty good but I am waiting for my legs to shift from biking... I get passed by a couple of dudes as well as two women... RUN YOUR OWN RACE... fortunately there were several water stations on the run and at each one I take a cup of water... a quick sip or two and then dump it on my head... I AM HOT... as we pass the 1 1/4 mile point we start a long uphill climb... but before I know it I am at the half way point turn around... a quick glance at the watch shows I am picking up speed... I settle into a nice pace with controlled breathing and based on my training I know I am running at the top of my aerobic zone... perfect... Now.. for some reason I feel REALLY good and pick up the pace... my stride length grows... my breathing is steady... and my plan is to keep this pace up for as long as I can.... I begin to pace people... LOTS of people to include one of the guys that passed me at the start as well as both women... one lady says "strong run dude... finish strong" as I go by her... I make my way up the last climb and as I make my way down the hill knowing the finish is near... I can hear someone coming up from behind... he is gaining on me... getting closer... then just as I exit the woods and head into the finishing chute... he slingshots around me... he had momentum but I decide that I am not going to get punked at the end... I start to run as fast I possibly can... a valiant effort but I am not going to catch him... 

Turns out.. he is 18 years old and finishes 20th overall... but I cross the finish line just behind him to great fanfare as they watched the pass occur... 

Run time= 23:34 (7:52/mile avg; 6th in AG)

Total time= 1:20:53... good enough for 10th in AG... goal accomplished despite a poor bike effort!

Post Race- Fluid Recovery drink, water and great conversation with some of the guys there I know... then pack up my stuff and head back home.

Overall- I had what was a good swim for me... and a real confidence booster... a below average bike... and a GREAT run... one of my best runs to date... all in all it felt like one of those days on the golf course where you hit nearly every drive in the rough or woods but then sink some long putts for par... it is a grinder kind of day... a lot of effort required to stay mentally focused but in the end the overall score is really not too bad... maybe a beer cart in triathlons would help!
      HUGE shoutout to my family for once again supporting me in both my training as well as my girls getting up early to make the trek with me... a stop at Whataburger on the way home made the trip worth their sacrifice! GINORMOUS kudos to Cassidy for all the great photos along the way... I love you guys!

Attitude Trumps Pain!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Family triathlon day... what a Memorial Day!

This year's Memorial Day was a family trifecta on the triathlon front... but let me start this blog entry with this... I crashed my bike twice this past week during training rides... once when I threw the chain shifting... and suffice to say that when you are going 24.6 mph and fall onto asphalt... it leaves some nasty road rash... the first wreck resulted in mostly backside road rash and one nasty one on my right elbow. The result of the wreck caused some damage to my handlebars, shifter/brake hood as well as my pride as this was my first ever wreck.... but I picked myself up, dusted myself off, fixed my bike as best I could on the road and finished the ride. Now... one thing I noticed on the ride home was what appeared to be the front tire wobbling... I thought the wreck caused the front wheel to be out of true but upon some investigation I found out that the front tire was significantly damaged. So... I swapped out the front tire with a new one and prepped my bike for the next ride. A couple days later I mounted the mighty steed and headed out on my ride... but just as I went into the second turn and not yet even out of the neighborhood... the front tire went flat followed quickly by the bike and then me going flat... fortunately there was minimal damage to the bike but my front side did not fair so well... I pretty much landed on my palms, chest and right knee... my hands were bloody, my Navy cycling jersey torn and my right knee was a mess... but I walked my bike home... changed the tube... and went back out for what turned out to be a great ride!

Okay... onto the event... Colby and I were signed up for the Sterne Agee LJCC Super Sprint Triathlon being held in Birmingham, AL on Memorial Day. The race had a 0800 start time and consisted of a 200 yard swim, 8 mile bike and 2 mile run. I knew it was going to be an early morning given we had to drive 90 miles, get our race packets, get setup in transition by 0730 and mentally prepare for the race... and that meant we needed to hit the road by 0530. So Sunday night we packed up our bags, filled our water bottles, loaded up the truck with our bikes and secured our cheering gallery (Sherri and Cassidy).

Monday 30 May 2011
    Standard up before the alarm... shower and shave... put on the race kit... head to the kitchen for a nice bowl of steel cut oatmeal. Sherri was up early as well and started the coffee for the 1 1/2 hour drive to Birmingham. Colby and I scurried around the house making sure we had everything we were going to need... and checking the checklist one last time just to ensure we would not forget something. At 0535 we loaded up the truck with bowls of oatmeal in hand, water bottles and travel mugs full of hot coffee. The drive was uneventful... but the chaos would soon follow... we found the LJCC with no issues and quickly made our way into the Gymnasium to get our race packets... then t-shirt and swag bag pickup... then timing chip pickup... it was just after 7 am and Colby got the last Youth Large tech shirt and I scored a nice Women's large as I did not want the remaining XXL... so Sherri now has a keepsake from the event and she will put it to good use at the YMCA during her workouts. But I digress... by this time it is 0714 and bikes have to be in Transition no later than 0730... so we head back out to the truck to get our bikes and gear and make our way to Transition... queue panic... this race included temporary TriTats vice Sharpie body marking and the full monty numbering system... Now... this may not mean much to most but the numbering system includes a lot of numbers that have to be placed very specifically in various places... fortunately for me.. while Colby and I were getting our first pre race pee out of the way she was listening to a woman demonstrate the proper placing of all of the temporary tattoos and stickers.. and I will say this at this point... had it not been for her being there I am confident that I would not have been able to get Colby completely situated in Transition as well as my stuff... THANK YOU SWEETPEA for being there!

So... Sherri tells me to go get my stuff set up and she will take care of Colby... So I head up to my spot and start the assembly process of sticker placement.... I get my stuff laid out how I like it... "5 mins to Transition closing"... AHHH SNAP.... I am way behind... and not completely set up yet... I throw on my HR strap... find my goggles... flip off my flip-flops... step on my half consumed GU Roctane (read: GU now all over my Transition mat and shoes)... can I mention that this stuff is appropriately named... GU is gooey when out of the package... but  I quickly make my way down to Colby's station... I quickly help him finish setting up his gear... verbally go through the process of each transition... he is ready and getting nervous about not heading to the pool as there are only a few left in Transition... Sherri quickly puts on my number tats... and we are off to the pool..
     We walk through the Community Center to the pool... find someone in charge and ask how the swim is going to work... it is a serpentine swim starting at the far end of the pool... swimming up the lane then under the lane marker and back down... for a total of 6 lanes... then after the last lane we shoot off at a 45 degree into the shallow play portion of the pool and swim around a buoy then straight line to the stairs... not ideal but a great option for Colby's first event. I am number 29 and he is 92... ying and yang... they call out on the PA that we need to line up by number... everyone gaggles around trying to sort it all out but eventually we all get in order... we are ready!

     The person wearing #1 is a 14 year old boy on the US Junior Olympic team... he ends up winning the entire event... the kid was a stud!
     SWIM- So the plan is to get in the water on the edge, working your way to the corner and each swimmer will go in 5-10 second intervals... at 0800 they send off #1... and so the race begins... standing in front of me was a guy that did 10 years in the USMC.... we idly chit chat while we wait... he tells me that he will swim to one side as he knows I am going to pass him... within 60 yards I am tickling his feet and eventually pass him on the 4th length... the swim is going great... I feel really good despite the mayhem at each turn... I quickly round the buoy and make my way to the stairs... I exit the pool and start the long run through the Community Center and out into the parking lot out front... it was a long run...

     BIKE- I find my bike... throw on my shoes, helmet, glasses and Garmin (read: I really wish I had at 310xt at this point)... I run with my bike and THIS TIME I execute a flying mount with perfection... quickly lock in the cleats and I am off... we exit the parking lot and make a right hand turn up the road... where right at a mile there is a 180 degree turn around... I pass several folks to the first turn... once I make the turn I get out of the saddle and accelerate as quickly as possible... back into the aero position and settle in for my attempt to really ride as hard as I can.. the course had some rolling hills but nothing like my training rides... I pass several more people on the bike and then eventually get passed by a guy on a tri bike... ARRRGGHHH... I end up in a position where there were 3 of us and we end up trading positions for the entire bike ride... they pass me on the flats and downhills and I pass them on the climbs... fortunately for me the last mile was all uphill and eventually I pass them both on that last section... at 5 miles there is the second 180 degree turn around... and a quick acceleration back up to speed follows... as I am approaching the 7 mile mark of the ride I see Colby coming the opposite direction and he looks great... I yell out to him "GO GET EM COLBY T"... he smiles as he heads out... as I approach the parking lot I unstrap my feet from my shoes and pedal in on top of my shoes... I come screaming up to the dismount line and execute a perfect dismount into a quick run with my bike... I rack my bike, slip on my shades, take off my helmet, put on my race belt (stupid) and then left shoe... perfect... then right shoe... NOT PERFECT... the shoe gets stuck on my wet skin and curls under... it costs me a few extra seconds but I am now off on the run...

     RUN- I head out of transition... grab a cup of water as I did not do a good job of drinking on the bike... and head out on the out and back run... it was on the sidewalk and at this point there were very few in front of me so there was little traffic to contend with... the legs were a bit heavy early but I tried to manage a good pace... just shy of the 3/4 mile mark we made a hard left turn and headed into the woods on a trail... straight up a 60 foot climb.... my calves did not care for that... but the shade was a welcome sight.... as I make my way through the trail section I can hear someone coming up from behind... it turns out to be Mary Rosser... the only woman to finish ahead of me... she is over 6 feet tall with an inseam of at least 5'9"... she blows by me (she ends up running 6min/mile avg)... we make a 180 degree turn and a slow descent exiting the woods where we entered it... then a right turn and 3/4 miles of sidewalk to the finish... now.. at this point there is a ton of traffic outbound and the congestion on the sidewalk was significant... but I pick my through and head up the last hill... near the finish there was a slight jog to the right and a short run up a grassy knoll onto the finish line... I cross the finish and think... alright... that felt great! I grab a bottle of water and stroll out of the chute...

     I quickly find Sherri and Cassidy... we head back out to the road to wait for Colby to come back by on the bike... after just a couple of minutes we see him coming... he is powering up the hill and looks good... we make our way over to the outside barrier of the Transition area... Sherri positions herself across from his bikek location... I walk up towards the entry point... as he comes in... he is walking his bike... I can tell by his body language that he is tired... I ask him "Great ride... How you feel buddy?"... to which he replies... "I'm tired"... in a really weak tone... head down... I think to myself... he may be done... I encourage him as he walks his bike down to his spot... trying to pump him up... Sherri is praising him for an awesome ride... "How are you doing Colby T?" she says... "I'm tired Mom... and thirsty"... he racks his bike, takes off his helmet... gets a drink, puts on his shades.... grabs his Sport Beans... and heads for the run start... ALRIGHT.... he is headed out... we cheer him on!
     I tell Sherri that I am going to get my prescription glasses from the truck... as I make my way to the truck I look at my watch... 0858... OH WAIT... is that right... it has been several minutes since I finished... my goal was 55 minutes... turns out it was the right time... I finished in just under 46 minutes... awesome feeling! So I get my glasses and head back over the finish are to cheer on Colby as he finishes.. we see him coming... one last small climb up the grassy hill and through the finish... he is a Triathlete!!!! What an accomplishment... we could not be more proud of him... simply spectacular to see him push himself through to the finish! We quickly meet him on the other side and congratulate him... then I remind him... you are now a Triathlete.... he simply smiles as big as he can and says... "That's cool Dad!"

    POST RACE- we make our way into Transition and gather up our stuff... then head to the truck... put our bikes on the rack... grab our change of clothes and head for the showers.... after a quick shower and wardrobe change we head out to the pool area where the post race festivities are going to take place... we grab some food and drinks... when Sherri comes over and says... "I think you finished first in your Age Group"... WHAT? I walk over to where the results are posted... well I'll be damned... I DID!!! What a great feeling given I was not at my peak having taken an entire week off after the Peachtree Olympic as well as trying to heal from the two bike wrecks... just goes to show you... on any given day... well you know the rest!

    Colby becomes a Triathlete... I get my first AG win... my Brother runs a spectacular race in the CapTexTri Sprint Triathlon in Austin, TX honoring me and remembering our Dad for Memorial Day... not sure it gets much better than that... love you man... what a memorable day!

     This event taught me a couple of things but also reminded me that having family support is critical to the individual success... yeah it is you against the course come race day but without the understanding and love of your family you cannot be properly trained to execute at your best... huge kudos to Sherri and Cassidy for getting up early and being our biggest fans on Monday... it meant a lot to both Colby and I to have you guys there.
    So.. What I learned is this... you need more time to get 2 people settled in Transition when you don't have the luxury of picking of your race packets early... and don't... DON'T ever put your half consumed GU down... hold onto it until you done with it!

200y swim- 3:07
T1- 1:40
8mi bike- 23:51
T2- 58 seconds
2mi run- 16:15

Total time- 45:50

Attitude trumps pain!