Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Omen

After MS's registration debacle at the Lifetime Fitness Tri I have been obsessively checking to make sure other friends are registered for their races.  CS is doing the Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor, MI this weekend and I found a message on a tri group website that the bib numbers were out.  "Let's see what CS's number is."  Oh my god!  She is #666.  

Monday, July 28, 2008

Poor Choice of Name

Saw this sign in Door County.  Apparently, Bea had a different profession before she started canning and baking.

Lifetime Fitness Olympic Triathlon

I almost forgot my other race.  I will have to write up a report a little later.  Needless to say, it went very well.  The bike again proved to be my weak point, but the swim and run were good.  It was a good warm up for the HIM the next weekend and I was able to try out my nutrition and pacing plans.

I will expand on my experience here.

The Lifetime Fitness Triathlon 2007 was the spark that lit the fire that has become a little bit of a a fitness obsession for me.  To recap for those who don't know the story.  I was talked into doing the swim leg of a relay at the firm I worked at.  Everyone is afraid to swim but it got around that I swam in high school and college and eventually I was pressured into agreeing to swim the .9 mile Olympic course.  To be honest there wasn't a lot of pressure, but I really didn't want to get back in a pool - I was resistant, but lots of people said how fun it would be.  

Well, I swam on my own at the aquatic center and later found out that some friends of my wife were also doing this race.  So I hooked up with them for some open water lake swims to get ready.  My leg of the race went great and as I watched other people complete the full race, I knew I had to do the whole thing.  Which brings us to this year.

The fun started before the race even got underway.  MS and I go to the convention center to pick up our packets.  MS is not listed for her age group and distance.  Long story short - SHE FORGOT TO SIGN UP!  To make matters worse, when I get my packet I am in the 40 - 44 age group.  I don't turn 40 until December!  I am still 39, DAMN IT!

No MS makes me a little nervous.  This is only my second full tri and my first Olympic distance and timing and getting my transition area set up without an experienced friend made me anxious.  Luckily, CS was there.  CS is also known as "Sleeper Cell" because she is pretty laid back and unassuming, but surprisingly very fast and competitive.  CS lives a mile from the course so we decided I would just park at her house and we would bike to the race.  I get to her house in plenty of time, assemble my bike and proceed to make sure my tires are fully inflated.  I was struggling to pull the pump valve off the tire valve when the tire valve snapped off and the tire went completely flat. Son of a Bitch!  CS grabs some tire irons and an extra tube and I change the whole thing surprisingly fast.  I gave CS my extra tube so now that means I will be biking without a spare.  I was anxious about that but luckily nothing came of it.

CS and I are able to set up our transition areas in pretty close proximity.  I am feeling better that someone with experience was around if I forgot anything.  We spent some time wandering around looking for friends and getting a lay of the land and getting body marked.  We got our wetsuits on and went to watch the pros and elites start.  

I got in and warmed up and felt good and loose.  When it was time to get in our groups for the waves, I realized that we would be going off individually every three seconds.  Unexpected, but at least I wouldn't have to deal with a shallow water scrum like last year.  I line up to start and am feeling pretty calm.  I take off and immediately pass three people who were leisurely wading into the water in front of me.  The swim was so much better than the year before.  First of all, I swam in a straight line - that saved me a couple minutes right there.  Second, I could see where I was going.  It was partly cloudy so I didn't have to deal with the glare off the water that blinded me for the first leg of the swim last year.  I was getting into my groove, but as I started to come up to knots of swimmers from earlier waves I realized the water visibility was so bad that I was literally on top of some of them before I knew it.  To make matters worse, the wind picked up and caused a light chop.  It was no problem for me, but it slowed a lot of people down and made for some panicky looks from others.  I finished strong, passing a few more people as I got out of the water and ran up the beach.

My transition was OK.  Better than the sprint tri I did earlier in the summer, but I still struggled getting my wetsuit off my ankles and then I had to run in my bike shoes.  I took probably the most round about way to the bike out and mounted my bike rather inelegantly, but I was up and rolling.  I really wished I would have practiced getting into my bike shoes while they were attached, so I made a mental note to get that figured out by the next week's race. (See my race report on the Door County Tri to find out how that plan worked out.)  Not really much to say about the bike.    It was my weakest leg and I knew it.  I concentrated on maintaining a comfortable pace and eating and drinking enough.  I ate and drank every 15 minutes or so as planned and ended up finishing almost all the fluid and food I had brought without any trouble or discomfort. The course was very nice and I was actually surprised by the pace I was able to maintain. I did see LF on the course which was a lot of fun.  It is great to have fan support. Coming into T2 I was having a mental debate about trying to get out of my shoes while on the bike to run barefoot to my transition area.  I decided that since I had not practiced it (although I felt confident I could do it) that I wouldn't chance it.  I found myself again taking the longest possible route through the transition area.

My transition, once I got to my spot, was fine.  It would have been great to not have to run in my bike shoes, but oh well.  I got into the run more quickly than I expected.  I had not done many "brick" workouts but I was surprised how fresh my legs felt.  I made sure to hold back for the first three miles.  My big fear was to go out too fast and blow up early.  It had warmed up but I had hydrated well on the bike and was able to go on quick sips at the water stops.  I picked it up pretty well on the second lap and felt strong throughout.  I found myself passing a few people who passed me earlier which is always encouraging.  The finish was uneventful and I came across the line alone, so I was hoping for at least a moderately flattering photo. Odds are against it though.

The race felt good and was a lot of fun.  I learned a lot of little things that I got to put into use the next week for the HIM race.  I hope I can do it again next year as I know I can chop off some pretty big chunks of time.  I also hope that my family will come out to watch.  Wandered aimlessly for quite a while waiting for friends to finish.  Ran into MS and family and friends and eventually found CS.  She had a great race and is ready for her HIM in Benton Harbor, MI.


We were watching "Back To the Future" as a family last night and there is the part where Doc Brown explains that he got the plutonium from some Libyan terrorists.  F. looks over at me and asks, "Why don't we like the 'phibians?"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Door County Half Iron Distance Triathlon - Sunday, July 20th, 2008

I got to the race site very early. I was the first person to set up in transition. I have to say the whole race was well organized. The transition racks were labeled with each person’s number so there was no issue of space and bike placement. I clipped my shoes onto my bike – I had practiced all week getting into them on the fly and had gotten it down. (This after I tried to do the trick where you put your left foot in your shoe, give a couple of pushes with your right leg to get some momentum and then throw your right leg over your seat and fell - HARD. In front of my kids. I scraped up my palm and knee and had two massive bruises on my inner thighs.)  I put some powder in my bike shoes – too much powder, because they flipped over and dumped powder all over anything near them and continued to dump powder every time I bumped them.  It looked like I was smuggling cocaine across the peninsula and hiding my stash in my bike shoes.  I sat around after I set up and people-watched. There was a lot of bike porn rolling around, but you can’t buy speed, right? It was pretty interesting to see some of the real exotics out there. I ate my pre-race Clif bars and drank. Then decided it was time to hit the water.

The morning was very foggy. They had huge blaze orange buoys which was helpful, but it was still hard to see them from the beach. I got on my wet suit and after I saw at least one person wade out in the water I decided to go as well. I took two steps into the water and really wished I had sleeves - and I was only up to my ankles. The water was COLD! I continued to wade out and then the water hit my zipper. The water was F******G COLD! (Official report - 62 degrees.  Wetsuits required.) It is amazing how quickly you make friends with strangers in freezing cold water as you all exclaim how cold it is. I decided the only way to get over it was to get in and start swimming. Well, I ducked my head and, while it took my breath away for a second, I found I could still move and once I got swimming it wasn’t too bad. I got out and waited around for the start, but then decided I didn’t get too warm so I got back in the water and proceeded to start shivering. I got lined up in wave five. It was still hard to see those buoys – I figured it would be easier when I was out there.

The start was in knee high water so there was no sprint out. I took a wide angle to the first buoy – a sharp right turn – and avoided the melee of the first few hundred meters. I made the turn at the same time as only one other person from my wave. From there the swim went great. I continuously passed swimmers from the earlier waves and was not aware of being passed by anyone from my wave or later waves. The foggy weather and slight chop didn’t affect me and I felt strong and fresh the whole way. In retrospect I could probably have done it faster, but that bike was still looming ahead of me. I ended up 5th in my age group and 36th overall for the swim.

The swim out would prove to be the most exciting part of the race. The swim out was up a boat launch covered with carpet, actually a pretty nice water exit. As a “courtesy” the race had volunteers lined up along the sides of the ramp to help people out of their wet suits. Basically, the drill was to pull your wetsuit to your waist before you get up the ramp and then flop down and a volunteer would pull your wet suit the rest of the way off with your feet in the air. As I am running up the ramp waving volunteers off – I can pull off my own wetsuit, thank you – a participant flops down and a huge guy grabs his wet suit and proceeds to pull with all his weight back into traffic – namely me! He hip checks me and I go down in a full sprawl, rug-burn my elbow and scramble to my feet. Another volunteer apologizes and asks if I want help with my wetsuit – I say no thanks and run on.

I blaze through my transition, get my wetsuit off quick, helmet and sunglasses on, grab my bike off the rack with shoe powder flying (I am sure it looked like I was literally "smoking" out of the transition area) and run to the bike mount area. All of the practice to get into my shoes --was for shit. I had the worst time getting into those fricking shoes. But I did finally get into them as I was peddling and was off. The bike felt pretty good – I kept reminding myself that I would pass people and people would pass me and that was OK (thank you, Stuart Smalley.)  The course was rolling with a couple of pretty big hills, but I stayed within myself and kept thinking about the run and making sure I had enough left in my legs. Miles 30 to 39 were the longest miles EVER. They felt like they would never end. All the miles up to there seemed to just click right off and the miles after that seemed to pick up speed as well, but those ten miles in the middle seemed to be measured in a different dimens
ion – like the Twilight Zone. The bike-in was great, I got my feet out of my shoes no problem and got my running gear on and was off.

The run felt great from the beginning. I kept very close tabs on my splits and made sure I didn’t go out too fast. I kept drinking and eating regularly and felt strong through out. I ran with an older guy for about half the race. His family kept coming by and they were really funny and he was a nice guy. Just after the halfway turn there was a fairly substantial hill. I geared down and got up it without too much trouble. The course flattened out and I picked up the pace for a few miles, then came “The Bluff”. The tag line for this race is “Can’t bluff the Bluff” 
and “Tough enough to conquer The Bluff” - how tough can it be, right? Well I was about to find out. At about mile nine you make a left turn and the volunteers say the bluff is right around the corner. Well, you run down a road and then make another left and there it is. This hill was steep to drive up, much less run up. To make matters worse, the road curves pretty tightly so you can’t see the end. (These pictures don't do it justice, but it was tough.)  I was determined to run up that fricking hill. So I geared down again and took running baby steps up that whole thing. I pretty much red-lined my heart rate monitor. When I got to the top I got a surprise. That’s right, another hill. It was nothing to write home about, but after the monster I just hoofed it up it was an unwelcome sight. It took me two miles to recover from slogging up that hill. My legs felt OK, but my lungs needed some time catching up. Those two miles made the run feel much longer. Then I was on my way to the finish. The last mile cuts through a golf course. Ah, to be riding in a golf cart and chasing a little white ball – and I hate golf. The finish is down a steep winding road. I tested my quads at the top and after a woman jetted by me I just let it go. I freewheeled down the hill hoping I wouldn’t have to stop fast or trip. At the bottom of the hill you have about 400 yards to the finish so I just went with the momentum. Everyone said I looked fresh and seemed to have a lot left at the finish, but I was pretty much on empty.  The race was over, I felt good - no Bataan Death March feeling like after the marathon - and I had a good showing for my first 70.3 dista
nce.  When I took my shoe off I realized I had slammed the big toe on my right foot so hard into the front of my shoe on the down hill that I damn near broke it - ouchy otter.

That cold water that was so painful five hours and twenty minutes earlier felt so good right after the finish. I hung out in the water up to my waist for about ten minutes with a few other finishers – again, cold water makes fast friends of strangers.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Perfect Storm

Here is the transcript of an email I wrote to myself to keep from going crazy while on vacation:

The "Crazy" arrived today and I am already out of my mind. In the first four hours of "crazy's" arrival she recounted twice how she got beaned with a softball and cut her forehead. She went on to compliment the rather expensive sunglasses she got in Italy for saving her from more damage when in fact they are more than likely the source of the cut and more than likely she would have simply had a bump if she wasn't wearing them. Then she proceeded to warn one daughter about playing with a toy near her eye and the other about possibly splitting open her chin, again. To make matters worse, it is rainy and gross, I just ate a big dinner and I can't go for a run. My father in law is deaf and alternates by giving me updates of the weather or the various channels he has "discovered" on the cable TV. The kids are all playing together nicely - which is a good thing. Ann, "Crazy" and my mother in law are swapping stories of ailments, treatments and beauty procedures gone wrong. Actually, Ann isn't swapping much, but she is encouraging somewhat and listening, bless her heart. So I am hiding and getting anxious and edgy and wish I still drank so I could go for a full on stupor.  

The worst part of it is SHE NEVER SHUTS UP! She talks ALL THE FUCKING TIME! I need the weather to be nice so I can get the hell out of here.

Heaven help me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hillbilly No More

F. finally lost his remaining front tooth, which is a good thing because with it hanging out of his mouth he was looking a little like a Hillbilly.  (The red hands are not the bloody nightmare caused by losing his tooth, they are dye from tie-dying at the park program today.)


"The most important part of your clothes is your underpants cause that is where your privates go."  No arguments there.