Thursday, May 9, 2013

Marble Falls Half IM

First of all, Sorry for the delay in getting this blog out, i had a busy week last week subbing for 1st graders and was very limited on time and energy as you can imagine...babysitting for 2-3 kids is fun and not too bad, but once you have a class of 20 of them, things get interesting, and you are on the move non-stop!

So I decided to sign up for the HITS Marble Falls Half Ironman in December because it was perfect timing leading up to TTT which is my only major focus race of this season.  The other reason I was swayed to sign up for this race is because it was $75!!!  A half ironman for $ cant beat that.

Let me just start off by saying HITS races are one of a kind!  First and foremost, their staff is hand selected and they are some of the nicest most friendly people alive.  Starting from at the top with the big dawg, Mr. Mark Wilson.  I met him the evening before the race at the athlete meeting, and I was blown away with his kindness and patience.  After the meeting all the athletes were huddling around wanting to talk to Mark, whether to tell a story, ask a question or just to introduce themselves...Mark gave each and every one of them his full attention and seemed more than excited to share those few moments with each athlete.  What a guy!

Secondly, the HITS races are hand selected in some of the most beautiful, remote locations throughout the US.  I had never heard of Marble Falls before, but am sure glad I do now because it is a beautiful little quaint town, but once you get a few miles outside you get very rolly open roads perfect for a triathlon!

So back to the race now, Iris and I got to our hotel Friday night (the eve before the race), added all of my last minute touches to my equipment and was off for a chilly ice bath!  The ice bath is one of those "Ancient Rituals" that I always partake in the nights before big races.  It calms me down, and always makes my legs feel like magic!

I didn't get much sleep that night, seemed to be up every hour or so tossing and turning, and decided to get up even before my alarm went off.  It didn't take me long to get down my breakfast and load up the car, and after dragging iris out of bed we were off to the race site.

This race was going to be my first triathlon since racing Ironman Austin 70.3 last October, so I was chomping at the bit to get things under way!  I got out on my bike for a quick little tune up to make sure everything was shifting properly and that I was in the right gear to start the race off.  Then I laced up the flats for a quick 5-10 min jog with some pick ups.  I usually like to run on a park trail or somewhere with trees, because this is the last time I will empty the bladder before I start the race!  After all those things were checked off the pre-race list, I was on my way down to the water with wetsuit in hand!

I got in the water and did another 5-10 minute warm up loosening up the arms, getting my breathing ready, and before I knew it the race was already under way!

I like to take the swim out hard and give myself some clean open water.  After about 200 yards, I did a couple breaths to both sides, and realized that I had jumped out to an early lead, and I had one guy in pursuit on my feet, but that was it.  I settled into my stroke and pushed on through the rest of the swim.

As we were exiting the water, the guy who was on my heels had pulled up shoulder to shoulder with me and we exited the water together.  There was a big steep incline to climb heading up to transition and the swim timing mat was at the top...I crossed that first and posted the fastest swim of the day (25:16), a pleasantly surprising split to start my day!

Over the last 100 yards of the swim I pictured in my head how transition was going to go and executed it to perfection.  I was in and out of T1 super quick and had the fastest transition on the day by almost 15 seconds.  I was out on the bike in 1st and all alone!

The first 8-10 miles on the bike include some serious climbs and rollers, and so my goal was to get through here with as little wasted energy as I could.  I tried to stay within my goal power ranges.  Right around mile 10 a car pulled up next to me and sure enough it was IRIS :)  She told me that I had close to a 5 minute lead on the 2nd place guy.  I couldn't believe it, I had put 5 minutes into the guy in the first 10 miles!  I was ecstatic!

Iris continued to drive up the road and give me updates and to keep me company, which was a major morale booster!  Close to halfway through the ride, she pulled up and asked how I was doing and to give me another update.  She said I had over 10 minutes now and that I was doing awesome!  I still felt very strong and that I could keep up the pace I had been setting but I told her I was starting to get bored!  We were approaching the 2 hour mark in the race and I had been all alone the entire bike ride...she laughed and drove off.  I thought to myself after telling her that "I have gone 25-30 miles and put a 10 minute lead into the rest of the group!  I have never been one to run away with the fastest bike split, so for all my hard work on the bike to be paying off really kept me mentally with it.  I kept dialing it into my goal power, and pressed on.

Approaching T2 I had continued to add to my big lead.  I also was in tune with the fact that I had just posted my new fastest half ironman bike split.  I had outbiked my Austin time by over a minute on a much more difficult course!  I had swam great and now put together a very solid bike...all that was left to do was PR in the run...or so i thought.

Coming out of T2 I was feeling pretty good, and thought the race was locked up and all I wanted to do was hammer the run to give myself a new 70.3 overall PR.  I had gone 4:25 at Austin, and ran a 1:26 to bring it home...if I were to run a 1:30 i would be right in that ball park.  My run training had been going very very well though, so I was expecting an even better run that what i put up at Austin!

Through the first 2 miles I had climbed this big hill and made it to the relatively easy rollers that were left before the turn around for home.  I was feeling good, and decided to try to stretch the pace a little bit.  I started to hit sub 6:30s and my body was responding nicely.  I thought for sure I could run a new run PR ultimately leading to a new 70.3 best.  That quickly turned south.  After passing through the aid station at mile 3 the wheels fell off.  I was feeling sick to my stomach, my hammies started to cramp...and i still had 10 miles left! 

After suffering big time for the next mile and a half, I ran into iris again and she was trying to cheer me up...but i was in DEEP!  I felt horrible.  After getting to the next aid station I started on my customary helpings of Cola.  Whenever i start to go south on the run in a full or half ironman, coke has been my savior. 

It seemed that it would indeed again be my savior.  I was starting to settle into a good pace again, and over the next 2 miles I was clicking off sub 7:30s and finally making progress again.  Iris told me when i was at mile 7 that i had nearly a 20 minute lead and to just keep taking my time.  Within minutes of hearing that it seemed like the lights had been completely turned off for me.  The hammy cramps came back with vengeance.  I was screaming in pain, unable to move forward, I tried to stretch things out, but that only led to other areas cramping and I was miserable.  I had just under 6 miles left, and I was locking up!

With 5 miles to go i started to get the feeling that I was so bloated from taking a bunch of coke and water, which was causing my stomach to be upset again...before I knew it i was hurling on the side of the road.  After a few quick evacuations I was back on the course trying to shuffle home. 

My hamstrings and calves were in such pain and each stride i could feel them wanting to lock up on me and shut me down for good, but I wasn't going to let that happen.  I knew my lead was dwindling, but I focused on what I had in front of me.  The final 3 miles.

Nothing changed much over those last 3 miles, I was miserable, wincing in pain, hoping that each stride was followed by another one and not a debilitating cramp!

Making the final turn for home and seeing the finish line was a huge relief for me.  I had fought so hard out on that run course to stay upright and keep moving forward, and to get to the end victorious was quite a feat for me.  Without Iris's support I may still be out on the course!

Overall I finished in a time of 4:52:37, with a 25:16 Swim, a 2:27:20 Bike, and a 1:57:24 Run.  I had a stellar race going up until the run, and it was tough to see how it ended on paper, but I learned a lot about myself and my nutrition plan.  I need to make sure I dont make the same mistake in 2 weeks at TTT!

Thanks again to HITS and Mark Wilson for such a wonderful race, to Iris for supporting me and being there through the highs and lows, and to Evotri and all our kick A$$ sponsors and for all you do for us, Q-Roo, Hub Endurance, Zipp, Sram, Cycleops.  All my hard work and results are to show my appreciation for what you guys have done for me and will continue to do for me in the future!  Thank you so much

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Viking Fun Run 5K: Growing Up Even Before My Own Eyes

So I decided to sign up for a 5k when i got back from Chattanooga with the Evotri gang, and chose the Viking Fun Run because I figured it there was going to be awards for the overall winners, they had to be sweet viking trophies or goblets or something!  Usually I am lured into these types of races for prize money or cool awards, its the little things :)

So Chattanooga was a huge training week for me, and the following week again was also another massive week.  I was shutting it down at work because it was my last week with Terex, and was going to be transitioning into teaching.  So having completed most of my finishing tasks with Terex, I had a lot of time to train...and that I did.  Piling 2 huge weeks with solid intensity I figured I would be in for a rough week the following, but surprisingly my body was responding well and wanted more punishment.  I had gone nearly 18 days without a full day off, and surprised I was still firing on nearly all cylinders.  I wanted to try to get in one last big week, and then roll into a recovery week before my half ironman coming up on April 27th.  Well, midway through the week the wheels fell off.  Its amazing how well you can feel one workout, and then wake up the next day and be flatter than a pancake!  I talked to Andy and strategized the plan leading up to the half, which clearly included a couple days off!

So I took the day off leading into the 5k, and went in with the mentality that I would run with the leaders for the first 2 miles, then pull away in the last mile, finishing 15-20 seconds clear of the field.  Sounds easy on paper.

I woke up feeling good race morning after the day off, and thought if im going to run pretty comfortable in the race I might as well rack up some miles before the i went for a nice easy 5 mile warm up, ran the course and checked out some of the local area before getting back to the start line, stretching and toeing the line.  There was a 1 mile kids fun run, and a 5k that were starting at the same time, and sure enough, every 7 year old kid wanted to be starting right on the front line haha, which was fine with me because I was going in just to have fun with it and hopefully win a cool trophy!  They shot the gun and the kids and I were off.

after about 200 meters of little kids screaming and sprinting, I weeded my way through them and noticed another kid, bigger than the elementary kids, but still a "child" way out in front and looking very fluent.  I figured he had to be about 13-14 years old, and definitely in the 5k, so I opened it up a bit and closed the gap.  Took me about 3/4 mile, but I comfortably closed the gap and greeted the kid.  We ran together shoulder to shoulder up until the mile then he started to drop back...we hit the mile in 5:39.  At this point Im thinking ok this kid got out hard and is clearly talented for his age, lets do a little coaching and see how tough he I started to give him some words of encouragement, telling him to stay right on my tail and ill block the wind etc.

When we hit the turn around I could tell the kid was hurting, but a true fighter.  He was not letting go of me without giving it everything he had, and I respected that big time!  The fact that he didnt quit and say that guy is way older and coming second to him is good, ill just run comfort zone the rest of the way really stood out to me.  He was gritting his teeth, breathing heavily...he was All In!

There was a short steep incline for about a minute after the turn around, and I let the kid know that if we are going to really push the pace up the slope here, then its all flat/downhill the rest of the way.  I started to turn it over and with each stride he was hanging tough not letting me get out of reach.

Once we crested the hill I settled back into our early pace and kept yelling at the kid to hang tough, 1 mile left, anything to encourage him for a great race up to this point, but to make sure he finished it and wasnt satisfied with 2/3 of a great race.

His pace started to slip after cresting the hill and I was gaping him.  At this point I thought to myself, what would I rather do, really lay the hammer down and go get my sweet trophy?  Or do I continue to pace this kid to probably the greatest run he has ever had?  I have always enjoyed coaching that age group of kids, and it was a no brainer at that point.  I pulled back on the reins a little bit and let the kid close the gap and get within reach this point in the race we were probably averaging just over 5:40s through 2 miles and change, and the last bit of the race was gradual downhill.  I again gave the kid some encouraging words, and he was back into the stellar pace he started out at, he came around quick and was really moving now.

As we turned on the very last road and headed home we were just over a half mile to go in the race...and I thought to myself "What do i do? Do I kick it in and drop him here?  Is this race really worth anything?  If I do kick it in and finish with a 17:25, do I or anyone else really benefit from this?  What about my trophy?

Meanwhile I am filling this kid with everything verbally I could to keep him on pace and to finish strong.  I was so stoked at how he was fighting out there, and when I looked back to see his face, the pure grit and determination to hang on, to not let the race go, to take a huge risk and stand by that point I knew what I was going to do...the kid had earned the race and he absolutely deserved the glory!

As we approached the final 300 meters, his family was in the distance and they were going ballistic!  They were so happy for him, and that's when I told the kid you have less than one minute left in the race...Finish It!    And that he did...he took off, I countered him stride for stride, and I looked down at my garmin...we were ticking off 4:40s over that last 300 meters...unbelievable!

Over the last 40 meters I took my foot off the gas and let him enjoy the moment.  I could still hear his family going berserk behind me.  I came in a few strides behind him, and its a good thing I shut it down when I did because the overall results showed him with a 17:41.2, and me at 17:41.7!  And if that time isnt impressive enough, the Garmin clocked it at 3.19 for an avg pace of 5:32s!

The kid came up to me after the race and thanked me for pacing him, which showed a lot about his character.  An appreciative kid who laid it all out on the line...I hope my kids are like him because that is picture perfect!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Favorite Workouts by Discipline

Over the years I have accumulated many miles swimming, cycling, and running.  Below are my favorite workouts from each discipline.

SWIM: For me, picking my favorite swim workout was pretty easy.  Growing up as a swimmer I have had the luxury of having many coaches with many different training philosophies which in turn provides many different workouts.  My favorite of all time is 10 x 200 on a given sendoff.  Back in my prime in high school I could hold a 2:20 interval, coming in between 2:05-2:10 for each 200, but as I aged and picked up 2 other sports to train for, my interval has gone up a little bit, but could probably still hold 2:40-2:45.  Maybe it’s time to give this workout a go!

BIKE: Biking is a hard discipline to pick a favorite workout because there are so many varieties of sets.  If I had to pick one it would have to be my frequent freshman year in college workout.  Get back from class, jump on the trainer, turn on the PlayStation and spin and play Madden.  It sounds tacky, but playing video games while biking on the trainer helped big time for me.  It kept me on the trainer longer than if I was just watching TV or listening to music.  Playing 2 games would have had me on the trainer for 90 minutes, which would feel like an ironman bike to me without the distraction of the game.  As funny as it sounds too, playing sports video games really has indirect intervals built into it!  Whenever the ball was snapped I would find myself with a higher cadence and power because I felt like I was in the game actually running the ball.  It seems outrageous, but these trainer video game sessions back in the day really kick started my cycling career!

RUN: Similar to biking (minus the video games) I have had a lot of coaches with lots of workouts to choose from, but there is nothing better in my mind than repeat miles at the track.  Anywhere from 3-7 of them with an 800 easy recovery jog between.  Repeat miles are grueling but so rewarding in my eyes.  Especially because I am constantly converting all my runs into my min/mile pace.  So what’s better than to see your true min/mile pace than run hard miles on the track.  Bring it on!

Enjoy, and let me know how these workouts rank on your all-time favorites!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rooster Run 5K: FINALLY CA$$$HING IN

This post will be shorter than most race recaps because I don't have any cool pictures from the race :(  However please don't be discouraged to read because the ending is a real tear jerker!!  Just Playing...

Ok, so the morning started off with a mildly early wake up call, and i popped right up out of bed (usually a rare occurrence).  It was a chilly 29 degrees, but I relished the conditions because they were frigid for the locals in Dallas, but more than comfortable for a northern boy from the mitten with thick blood.  I felt right in my element.

After a quick bite to eat I jumped in my car and headed to the race site.  The race was about 30 minutes north of me in McKinney.  I had run multiple races in the area before and knew the terrain and more or less each block very well.  Ehh, maybe I take that back, maybe I didnt know every block very well, I got lost on the way to the race and ended up in some 1700s half broken down shed, with no other athletes around...I couldnt be in the right spot!

After a quick GPS adjustment I realized I was only a couple blocks away.  I pulled up to the race site about 40 minutes before the start of the race, and for a little local 5k, that usually gives me plenty of time to get in a little warm up, stretch, and put on the racing flats.

I haven't run a 5k in quite some time, probably close to a year, so i was excited to see what I could bust out purely on Base Ironman Training.  I have been throwing in some solid intensity, but it is nothing that prepared me for a 5k, more like hour long tempo runs.  But regardless of my preparation, I was still excited. 

As the race director lined us up on the starting line and wished us good luck, she gave a quick schpeil about the first annual Rooster Run 5K.  The race benefited The Texoma Emmaus Community which is a community that has sponsored an annual Walk.  This walk is a movement intended to strenghten local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches, and daily lives.  I have never been big into devoting myself to a religion, but have always enjoyed doing races that benefit a cause, and try to schedule my races based on that.

After the briefing about the cause we were off.  My goal in the race had been to get out strong, and just keep pushing  the pace as long as i could until I dropped.  I wanted to see what I was capable of in a 5k, and thought there was no sense in going through the motions out there.  So I stuck to the plan.

Coming through the first mile in 5:26 I was a bit disappointing because i had thought that a sub 5:10 first mile was reasonable and more or less expected.  I felt like i was giving a good strong effort, but the time wasn't there.  Sometimes the race doesn't go as planned, even from the beginning, so i had to adjust and keep focused, keeping the pedal to the metal until i crossed the finish line. 

The next mile was pretty windy and through a very nice neighborhood/golf course.  I found myself peeking at the course and staring at the nice houses that lined the course, but before long I realized I was there to run, not sight see!  So I kept my eyes on the road, focusing on my turnover, keeping the pain of the race as high as I could.  Came through the second mile just over 11 minutes, and realized hey, not too bad for consistency!  5:26, 5:35, and with the bulk of the course coming home a false flat downhill, Im setting myself up for a solid race!

Once I got out of the neighborhood, and came around the big swooping bend before repeating the last 3/4 of a mile home, I realized that there was nobody in sight.  Knowing that I had the race locked up, I convinced myself to take it deeper and deeper. 

As I rounded the final curve and closed the last 200 meters on the finish line I realized that my hope of running sub 17 was all but a hope at that point.  I pressed hard down the final straight and finished in a time of 17:10.  After looking at my garmin to see how far it clocked the race at (3.15 miles) i realized that i really ran a strong last mile!  I closed the last mile equally as fast as I had taken out the first mile, if not slightly faster!  Even though I didnt break 17 minutes, I was very pleased with the consistency of my splits, and can tell that all the long miles I am putting in for Ironman are really paying off.  They are allowing me to hold on late in races even when the wheels feel like they are falling off.

Shortly after finishing I see Iris coming around the final curve and heading home down the straight away...She is in first overall for the women!!  I didnt quite know her time, but was super excited for her to be first woman overall!

After we caught our breath, recovered, and put on some warmer clothes, the award ceremony was about to begin. The race director called up the male and female overall winners, and presented us with our big gold (olympic sized) medals, and then told us we had a second award for winning overall...A CASH PRIZE of $50!!!!  I had raced countless races in my days, and almost every time found myself the first runner up to the cash!  I thought I was never going to crack the code!  But I had finally done it!  I was so pumped to finally hold a cash prize in my hand, but knew that I didnt truly "NEED" the money, so I decided to donate it back to the Texoma Emmaus Community.  It wasn't  easy giving away my first Cash Prize, but before the race I knew that the overall winner got a $50 cash prize, and said to myself "If I win the race today, Im going to donate it back" and that I did :)

 (Dolla Bills)