September 28, 2010

Race Report - XTERRA Utah!

Okay. I only did the XTERRA short course. Work has been nuttier than squirrel poop so I've been missing all sorts of workouts since Vikingman. I've been tired, also. Instead of stressing about the workouts I was missing because of work and recovery I tried a new approach consisting of rest and flexibility to prepare for XTERRA. It worked out pretty well.

Except the swimming part.

The flexibility idea was borne of necessity. I've been trying to stretch frequently, at least every other day, to loosen my legs and avoid the knee problems from Vikingman. The rest part of the plan was mostly what I told myself I was doing because I was going into work early and couldn't get to the pool and missing lunchtime runs because of location shoots. Fortunately, I did just enough and don't think I lost much fitness.

Except the swimming part.

The nice thing about this race is the ability to register the day before. You know what the weather will be like. What the water temp will be. Things that might preclude one from entering an event, especially if it isn't a goal race. My original plan was to race the long course and get a little redemption from bailing in 2007. As the race got closer the unknown knee, lack of mountain bike training and a real lack of desire to beat myself for the extra time all played out. With 10 minutes to spare I entered the short course.

Another great thing about this race is the start time. 9:40 am. HOLLA! I was able to get up at my regular time. Poop at my regular time. Leave the house at my regular time. There was still plenty of time to stand around and chat while shoehorning my bike onto a rack. Yeah, it was crowded when I get there. See, I do things in reverse at this race. Rather than set up my t1 at the lake, then drive to Snowbasin to set up my T2 and then take a shuttle back to the lake, I drive to Snowbasin, park the truck, set up my T2 and then ride my bike down to the lake to set up T1. I'm a rebel ... and I get a nice warm up.

Again, I was surprisingly calm (for me) before the start. I was even trying to help other people get themselves in order. The pros started at 9, and the long course racers started at 9:20. I moved down about 9:30, wetsuit on, and got straight into the water. No hesitation. The water was about 65°, which is just right for wetsuit swimming.

I went to the far left, just to avoid some of the scrum. At the start, there were about 350-400 people in my wave, plus those still in the water from earlier waves so it was a little crowded. Instead of swimming a triangle, I swam more of a lazy circle. I just didn't want any part of the mess. Of course, it slowed my swim time. Or my lack of swimming was responsible. But my swim was a distant 19:42 (106th), well off my pace at Vikingman. But it was still good to do it and not freak out.

Transition was also pretty slow. I really need to work on them. I'm not sure where the time goes, but it is literally the quickest time that goes by in my life. It wasn't without it's drama either. while tightening up my right shoe the buckle on my Sidi broke. I chucked it into my bag and tucked the strap into my shoe and got out of there.

I have no idea how many people I passed on the bike, but it was a LOT. I know I got passed a few times and caught all of them but maybe 2. I had a really solid ride and felt really good still heading into T2. Really uneventful. 1:21.

T2 was much faster than T1. I was in and out under 2 minutes. This run sucks. It is up and up and a little break and up and up and then straight the hell down. And I ran the whole thing for a 22:53.

Overall I ended up 19th out of 308 and 4th AG. Total time 2.04.24. I'm pleased. I'm not sure what is going to happen next year. But LOTOJA might be on the horizon, and that will pretty much own my training time. But maybe the long course XTERRA. I'll have the endurance for it...

September 27, 2010


Off the bike and into T2, I was feeling good. Surprisingly good. I had a few things on my mind, mostly blister prevention. In T2 I changed to dry socks and slathered Blister Shield onto my still numb-from-cold toes and took off. My time was about 4 minutes. It was about here that I realized that while my Garmin 305 was running, I had forgot to put it into multisport mode and things would be weird when looking at the data. Alas, it certainly wasn't a day ender.

On course my legs adapted fast to running. More brick workouts and a tips like standing and pedaling the last mile of the bike course to pull blood from my quads and put it into my hamstrings must have helped because I had zero of the usual leg heaviness I usually experience. Sticking to my bike nutrition plan meant I was well hydrated and ready to run. My heart rate was where it needed to be, my legs felt fine and I was still moving past people. I settled into about an 8 minute mile average.

Then it started.

About mile 4 I noticed that my knees were aching. Not hurting, but aching. It was like this for about a mile and then it mostly ceased. I ran up the bridge over the Snake river at a sub-8 mile and passed a couple of people. I flew through the park, looked at the cute picture Smarty Pants had drawn for me, and started the second half of the run feeling awesome.

Then it continued.

At about mile 7 my right knee really started to hurt. Really hurt. By mile 8 I was limping and really slowing down. I was gonna finish, but the 8 minute miles were over. It was a good time to finally take that poop break I'd been needing and thought some rest would help my knee. Now, I have a storied history with GI issues and racing. Without going into detail, it's bad and can last for days. Not this time I am happy to say. Just a good ol' fashioned crap. The one my body wasn't prepared to do before the race. But enough about poop. . . The break did not help my knee. But I was going to finish and thus began the longest 5.5 miles of my running life.

Not only did my knee hurt like hell, but this section of the course was an out an back. Literally down a seemingly endless false flat two-mile long straight road to a turnaround and back. And it sucked balls. I could see the guys in ahead of me, some looking much more worn out than I was. But I couldn't go any faster than the 10-12 minute miles I was hobbling out. I got passed by one guy. But I passed three more struggling with stomach cramps - my usual nemesis. Still, it was a bitch knowing that I was so close.

Eventually I finished. Below are my numbers.
5:31:38.237 - Total
32:02.844 - Swim
6:48.143 - T1
2:50:18.365 - Bike
4:25.205 - T2
1:58:03.680 - Run
5 of 10 AG
19 of 73 OA

Despite the knee issue, I have nothing to complain about and there is no use lamenting what could have been. I achieved every goal I had for the race. I finished the swim under challenging conditions under 40 minutes, Sub-6 overall time, Sub-3 bike, Sub-2 run. I paced well. I ate and drank for nearly spot-on nutrition. And I learned a lot. Because of the bad knee luck I am stretching more and that will have nothing but positive benefits in the future.

What's next? Well, I'm writing this post two days after I solid XTERRA Sprint race. But long term I am not sure. An Ironman is the next logical step. I also want to ride LOTOJA again. They sort of go together, but I am not sure I could do them both unless I did an IM early in the year and, living in Utah, that's tough to do unless you really like training indoors (I don't). But an IM is a life goal that I'll get around to. Maybe not 2011. But maybe 2012, you know, before the world ends.

September 17, 2010

Vikingman! - The Bike

2:50. Not bad at all.

Honestly, that's all that I can say about the bike ride. Nothing of note occurred. I drank a bottle of HEED and sucked down a gel every lap. I got passed three times. Those guys were faster and had way cooler bikes and wheels and shit than I do. They also had on aero helmets that made them resemble the creatures in the Alien movies and made them just look a LOT faster than me.

I'm okay that I got passed. I passed at least one of them on the run. I think two. And that was with the calamity that was forthcoming.

T2 went much faster than T1 at about 3 minutes. In and out baby.

I know, lame post. But nothing happened. I rode well. My back got a little sore. Nothing out of the ordinary, though I'd say it was a better than ordinary ride. It was cold though. Being wet, my toes went numb immediately and stayed that way until about mile 2 of the run. My fingers too went numb, painfully numb, but thawed by lap 2 of 4 on the bike. I couldn't think of many songs to sing. But I did keep thinking that I couldn't believe that I still had a half marathon to run. Which is next time.

September 14, 2010

Race Report: Vikingman!

And it's over. At last. And I made it.

Saturday, September 11 was the Vikingman Triathlon in Burley, Idaho. This was my goal for the year. Not necessarily Vikingman, but a half-iron distance triathlon. All that I can say is that I met every goal I had in the race. Granted, it was a small field, but I still made it. The weather was ideal, though a little chilly. I wish this race report was more exciting, but for once, not much went down. I'm breaking the report into parts so the posts won't be ponderously long. Here it goes...

The Fun Run

The day before the race, a one-mile fun run was held. Wifey and Smarty Pants took on the challenge while I took photos and stared at the cold river. Smarty Pants ran the whole mile, other than a 10 second break. Not bad for a four year old. Chip off the sorta old block...

The Swim

It is well known that I dislike the water. I hate cold water. And I get terrified by dark water. I even wear clear lens goggles on sunny days to keep things bright. So the idea of swimming in murky 60° water before the sun even comes up had me going. Unlike other years, I've spent a fair amount of time open water swimming this summer and felt more prepared than ever for a 1.2 mile swim, even with the challenges of cold and dark.

I didn't sleep much. Just couldn't relax. Unlike the usual anxiety about swimming, I was more anxious about the cold and just wanted to get rolling. I was in and out of sleep until the alarm sounded at 4:30.

I set up transition in the dark, except for my handy clip-on flashlight. A good idea if you know you will be setting up in the dark. Then Wifey and Smarty Pants dropped me off at the swim start. I wandered down and waited in the 42° air for about 15 minutes until they finally let us into the water. It actually felt warm compared to the concrete boat ramp! I stuck my face in the water and started trying to blow bubbles to get used to the cold. It wasn't working well. I'd stick my face in the water and gasp. Before I was ready, the order to start was given and we were off.

It was a relief to go, like an anchor was dropped. I took off and had a tough time keeping my face in the water, but I settled down after a few strokes and found a rhythm. I also noticed that A LOT of other swimmers weren't handling the cold as well as I was. Bobbing heads were all around. I had one guy stop right in front of me and I swam into him. We apologized and I kept going. I whacked a couple of others as I swam by them and finally decided to move out farther into the river to get away from the others and make it easier to sight the buoys. The steam coming off the river made it tough to see. I finally started looking higher and found the bridge not far from the end of the swim. It gave me an idea of the amount of swimming that remained and let me pick up the pace the closer I got.

When I finally reached the dock. I pulled myself up. I didn't want help, I was afraid they'd pull me up too fast and I'd get dizzy. Wifey and Smarty were waiting and told me I was one of the first out of the water. SHOCKING! I was about 20th.

Other than one small moment of panic that I can't explain and some major brain freeze, the swim was great. Mat to mat time was 32.02. A little high considering the before and after time lag. But even that time is fantastic for me.

My transition was less than ideal. Sunscreen. Arm warmers. Chatting to Wifey. It was a long transition. 6:48. I needed about half that. Ultimately it ended up not mattering, but I need to fix that.

Next time is the bike!

September 7, 2010

As Ready as I'm Gonna Be

Five days out from Vikingman, my first half-iron distance triathlon.

I'm as ready as I'm gonna be.

I have no delusions about the race. 5-6 hours if I'm lucky. I won't be winning anything. My training hasn't exactly been to the letter. Still, I feel prepared for a good race. I'm swimming solidly. My bike is okay. The run is decent.

If I have any worries with the swim, I am always a little concerned with anxiety. I deal with it with most open water swim sessions. But I am now able to push past the fear and keep going forward. I'm confident my swim time for the 1.2 mile distance will be between 35-40 minutes.

The bike is usually my strong discipline in a triathlon, but lately it has been giving me some difficulty. I have a tough time getting comfortable and my quads don't cooperate, getting achy far too quickly. It could be nutrition-based though, so I am going to really be cognizant of eating and drinking during the race. Time should be around 2:50-3 hours for the 56 mile ride.

Running is the big unknown. How will my body respond after 3 hours on the bike? So far, my brick workouts have been positive, with runs following rides of 20-30 miles starting strong. After my last long run in my Lunarglides left my toes blistered, I'm having a debate on shoes. Maybe the Nimbus would be a better bet even though they are old. Or the Lunars with lots of BlisterShield on the feet would be better. Still, if the feet hold up I think a run of 1:50-2 hours is a good possibility.

Add in transitions and I really think that I am capable of a six hour gig. Provided I can stay out of the porta-johns, of course. Could I do better if I had trained harder? I'll know soon.