Sunday, September 25, 2011

Volunteering at Redman

So, I haven't updated my blog since IM Lou.  A few things have happened in the interim, including getting sworn into the Oklahoma Bar.
(Try and find me.  Good luck)

I've also had some issues dealing with my left knee.  I took three or so weeks off to let it heal.  It hasn't really, but I'm working on it.  I've also started some strength training.  We'll see how that goes.

And, finally, this past Saturday I volunteered at the local Redman triathlon.  You may remember that Redman was my first Oklahoma triathlon and first half-iron distance race.  Since my season is done, I thought I'd see about volunteering for the race.  After signing up and attending Friday's meeting, I was all set to report in at 5:00AM race morning.

(All those bikes set up and ready to rock) 

Before the race, I had the chance to walk around and see the different ways people set up their transition areas.  I saw a lot of sweet bikes, too.  I also saw this:

 (Something doesn't seem quite right with this bike)

My job in the beginning was to help with body marking.  Pretty uneventful.  Soon enough, it was time for the swim.  
(Lake Hefner was a little low)

I then helped direct racers to their bikes after the swim.  After the mad dash to T1, this is what the transition area looked like:
(deserted transition area while everyone is out riding)

Once the 70.3 racers returned and racked their bikes, we helped direct them out on the run.  The masses started to thin out and I walked around for a bit.  I saw this guy's bike coated in spilt sports drink:  
(Bees like this guy's bike)

Before I left, I helped get the full distance racers ready for the run.  Once we knew what numbers were coming in, I'd grab their bag and get their gear ready in the changing tent.  It was a lot of fun.  I liked being able to help in a concrete and tangible way.  Plus, the racers were pretty tired from the bike and were thankful for the chance to sit down and rest.

All in all, it was a good way to spend twelve hours.  I met some good people, helped some folks out, and learned a lot from watching.  I'm glad I had the chance to help out.  I'm pretty sure Redman 70.3 will be an annual "A" race for me.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ironman Louisville 2011

This race report has been a long time in the making.  Because I don't anticipate attempting another Ironman in the near future, I'm probably going to be long winded in this blog post.  I want to capture my thoughts and experiences throughout the last five days.  It's been a whirlwind that has taken so long to get here, but has flown by so fast.  With that said, here's my race report for Ironman Louisville 2011.


Paula and I left OKC on Thursday night after work, hoping to make Springfield, MO by nightfall.  After a brief dinner with friends in Tulsa, we arrived at our hotel for a quick rest.  The cool Missouri air was a relief from the oppressive heat we've been experiencing in Oklahoma.  We hit the road the Friday morning, knowing we had to get to Louisville before 5:00PM for check-in.  We made it.

Check-in was quick and easy.  After figuring out where the expo hall was, we made our way to the tables. The process itself is quick.  Give your name, get a card with your BIB number and head on in.  Then you get wristbranded, grab your gear bags, activate your chip, and get on your way.  Smartly enough, the line empties out into the Ironman Merchandise Store.  We purchased a poster that has every participants' name listed in the shape of the M-Dot.  I'll have to take a picture once we frame it.  I debated purchasing "finisher" products, but didn't want to jinx myself.  I figured I could grab something on Monday in the event I finished the race. (Well, to spoil things a bit, there wasn't much there Monday afternoon after I finished).

After check-in, we headed to the hotel I booked ahead of time in Indiana.  Well, upon arrival, we determined we couldn't stay there.  The Galt House gave us an extra night at the discounted rate, so we headed back into Louisville to check in.  I highly recommend staying in the host hotel for the duration.  It takes the hassle out of moving around and keeping your belongings together.  I got my bags and bike ready:

We then headed to the dinner where we sat with a couple other thousand people.  See, I wasn't the only crazy person doing an Ironman:
I woke up around 8AM and headed down to the practice swim in the Ohio River.  It was a well-run affair with plenty of support.  The water itself was cleaner than the lakes I've been swimming in here in Oklahoma.  It was a quick 15 or 20 minute swim.  Paula and I cleaned up and went out to drive the bike course.  While stopping in La Grange, Paula stumbled upon a Yarn Store:

She was very excited to enjoy the town and the shops while waiting for me to come through town during the race.  When we returned to the hotel, Paula had to run a super secret errand, while I headed down to transition to turn my gear in.  I met a nice volunteer who had raced Louisville the previous year and he gave me some advice:  Enjoy the race.  It'll be over before you know it.

After milling about for a bit, Paula and I went to Glassworks with the intention of making some glass art. Unfortunately, the employee didn't seem real interested in helping us while we were making magnets and a pendant.  What was supposed to be a fun crafting experience turned into a quick and frustrating activity. The shop will mail our final pieces after they've been fired and processed.  So, hopefully we'll have some classy mementos to remember our Louisville trip.

That night, we ate Italian food at Buca di Pepo's.  Fairly uneventful meal.  It sure is nice to have a reason to eat four plates of spaghetti and a bunch of breadsticks.

We headed back to the hotel and I tried to get some sleep.  I think I passed out around 10:30.  Four alarms and a wake up call were scheduled to wake me at 4:00AM.

The Race
Wake up call at 4:00AM.  Contacts in. Banana, bagel, OJ, and yogurt forced down.  Water chugging commenced.  Battle uniform on.  Final gear check.  Wife up and ready to roll.  Hoping Irene doesn't destroy South Jersey.

We headed down to transition around 5:15AM.  Paula took a quick shot of me on race morning:
The Swim
Ironman Louisville has a unique swim start.  While the pros have a mass start at 6:50AM, the commoners line up and start heading into the water at 7:00AM via two docks.  Your time starts after you cross the timing mat and shortly before jumping into the river.  As a result, you have to line up.  And I'm pretty sure I was toward the back of the line.  I met a couple veterans who gave me some advice.  Again, I was told to take a moment and enjoy the race because its over before you know it.

Once the line makes it to the piers, it gets exciting.  Your race is about to begin.  Paula grabbed a good shot of me just as I was starting my watch:

Once I jumped in feet first, I notice my goggles had dislodged.  I took a moment to adjust:

Then I was on my way.  The swim itself was very pleasant.  There was minimal contact; probably the least contact you'll get in an Ironman swim (or at least I'm told).  I kept my strokes long and smooth.  I wasn't trying to go fast.  I was trying to conserve. When nature called, I was graced with a sudden sand bar which allowed me to stand for a moment and take care of business.  Sorry to those behind me.  Face back down in the water, and on to the turn around buoy I went.  Once I turned, it was slow and steady again:

I'm pretty sure I swam further than I needed to.  The line of buoys marks the path to the swim exit, but I kept drifting left (south).  I wasn't immediately concerned because there were others further south.  Once I figured out where I needed to go, I took a direct route to the nears buoy and got back on track.  It got a little busier with all the other swimmers, but at least I was on track to the swim exit.

Coming out of the water, I looked at my watch for the first time and saw that I was right on schedule.  Paula spotted me coming into T1:
Time: 1:16:49
Pace: 1:49/100yds

Swim to Run Transition (T1)
Well, here's where my race went astray.  I was planning on taking my sweet time in T1.  I grabbed my bike bag from a volunteer and headed into the Men's changing tent.  Musty and warm.  Super.  No worries, though.  Found a clear spot and dumped my bag out.  Bike shirt, shoes, helmet, food, heart rate monitor: check.  Garmin watch?  Negative.  I left my Garmin in my hotel room charging.  I left the one piece of equipment I've used in every training session, every run, and every bike ride.  What to do?  Well, there wasn't much to do, but accept it and race without it.  I put my gear on and headed out.  A quick trip to the sunscreen tent and bathroom later, I was ready for the ride:

Time: 8:46

The bike route has three main sections.  First, there's a long flat ride along the river.  Then there's an out and back through some hills.  Next, the course takes you on a loop (which you do twice) that travels through horse farms and country, as well as the town of La Grange (see above).  Finally, you take the flat section back to Transition.

During the flat portion, I conserved as much as I could.  I didn't know how hard I was working (no heart rate monitor).  At the first aid station, there was a wreck right behind me.  A woman went down and took 3-4 people down with her.  Scary.

The hills weren't terrible, but they didn't feel great either.  Again, it was a matter of getting up them without using too much energy.  I think I did a pretty good job of riding them out.

I set my watch to tell me to eat every 30 minutes. Beep:  fig newton.  Beep: gel.  Repeat.  Water and Gatoraid throughout.

I was really looking forward to seeing Paula in La Grange.  When I got there, there were hundreds of people lining the streets.  It was so fun.  However, I didn't see Paula. On the second lap through, I caught a glimpse of her and said "Hey!" That was it.  Turns out the shuttles to La Grange were overwhelmed and she waited over two hours to board one.

At the special needs bag, I grabbed my spare tube and food.  I didn't want to leave it behind.  I also waited a few minutes to use the rest room.

Back on the bike I went.  The rest of the ride was uneventful.  My left knee started to really ache around mile 75 or so.  Also, my right toe would alternate between hurting and going numb.  By the time I made it back to Transition, I was ready to get off the bike.

Time: 6:17:57
Average: 17.8 mph

Bike to Run Transition (T2)
I walked to my gear bag and the changing tent.  I sat down next to a guy who needed medical because he was overheating.  I got my act together and changed into my running top.  I grabbed some more sunscreen and headed out for the run.
Time: 8:35

The run begins with a trek out of transition.  Paula caught me right before heading out onto the course:

We chatted for a bit.  At this point, I was feeling great!  My legs felt steady and my stomach was solid.  I knew it wouldn't last.  I thought I'd make it to mile 5 or so before I fell apart.

I headed out onto the bridge and made the turn around.  On the way back, there's a really cool view of downtown Louisville.  Again, I saw Paula:

Still feeling good and trucking around a 9:30 pace while walking the aid stations.  Sure enough, I began to fall apart.  However, I was doing well until mile 10 or so.  My stomach began to disagree with me and didn't want to take any more Perform or Gels or Bars.  On top of that, my left knee really started to hurt.  At this point, I started to walk.  I didn't have a lot of motivation to run because I knew I'd finish even if I walked the rest of the marathon.

Here's a shot of me walking towards the end of the first loop:

Then I notice there's a camera, so I fake some running for a little bit:

At the end of the first loop, you can see the finish line.  It's such a tease.  I made the right turn away from the finish, and headed back out for a second loop.  There was a lot of walking.  I met some people that had just started their first loop and they were concerned about making the time cut offs.  I knew I could make it, so I didn't really hustle all that much.  I tried running four cones and walking one for a bit.  That worked.  Then I would run for five minutes and take a break.  All the while, I ingested Coke and water.  That's about all I could handle.

Towards the end, I bumped into some guy and we started chatting.  Turned out we had a lot in common.  We used each other for motivation and ran a good portion of the final part of the race.  After the last aid station, he met another friend he knew and I decided to take off running.  I only had about a mile or so left, so I trucked it in.

The bright lights and sounds of the finish line were awesome.  The crowd was cheering a bit louder for me because I was hauling it in.  Paula caught a quick shot:

I think I heard my name.  I think I was told I was an Ironman.  That was really cool.  I sort of wished I took my time finishing so I could remember it a little more:
Run time: 5:14:57
Run speed: 12:01min/mi (eek!)

Final time: 13:07:04.  

Once I finished, a volunteer congratulated me and gave me my medal.  Awesome.  He then grabbed me by the arm and wouldn't let go.  He kept asking if I needed medical attention.  No, sir, I'm OK.  Can I go hug my wife?  Thanks.

Here I am after it was all done:

Here we are eating a well deserved meal:

Paula surprised me with some local cupcakes (the super secret errand from Saturday) and my birthday present she's been (and continues) working on:  A scrapbook of all my triathlons since I started way back in 2006.  So cool.  I will share it on this blog once its ready.  Such an awesome and crafty wife:  

Overall, I'm really happy and pleased with the Ironman experience.  My training allowed me to complete the race in relative comfort.  Apart from some knee pain and a briefly upset stomach, I made it through great.  I raced "blind" (without my Garmin watch and HR monitor).  I didn't hit my time goal, but I'm not so worried about that.  It looks like my result is right on average with the mean time of all IM Louisville finishers.  So, I truly lived up to my "Medium Guy" name.  Average in all respects.

I have so much more to say about the race, but this entry has gotten out of control. Thanks for reading, and please leave me a comment if you have a chance.

Its hard to believe this Ironman journey is at an end.  I have no plans to complete a 140.6 triathlon in the near future.  I'm ready for the next challenge, endurance related or otherwise.

Thanks again for reading.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tune up ride

I squeezed one in before the massive pack for the trip out to Kentucky.  Easy hour or so out on the lake.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunday Sunday Sunday!

This weekend will be the pinnacle of my triathlon journey thus far.  On Sunday, I will attempt to complete Ironman Louisville. I thought, in the free time my taper has thrust upon me, to document my journey to this Sunday's race.  For me, completing triathlons is not about the actual race.  Rather, the race is a means to an end.  Having a race is motivation to get out there and train.  It encourages me to eat healthier and get more sleep.  The race itself is a celebration and enjoyment of the hours and miles put in during the previous months.  Therefore, I thought I would document the past few months of training and see what I've accomplished.  Whether or not I finish (in 12:00 hours?  fingers crossed!) IM Louisville, I've already achieved my goal.

So, one way of looking at my progress is to look at the actual training numbers.  I signed up for IM Louisville on 10/31/2010.  Since then, I've:

  • Run 1,127 miles in 161 hours and 48 minutes (7 mph)
  • Biked 1,963  miles in 143 hours and 19 minutes (14 mph) [This includes my bike commuting]
  • Swam 92 miles in 52 hours (1.8 mph).

At least, that what I recorded in my Garmin account.  I'm sure I've missed workouts.

Another way of looking at my training, is to document the various events I've completed in training.  So, I:

  • Ran the Cowtown Marathon
  • Ran the Oklahoma City Marathon
  • Completed a few Splash and Dashes with TriOKC
  • Biked the Tour de Meers
  • Biked the Tour de Pain
  • Biked the Norman Conquest
  • Biked the Spin Your Wheels Ride
  • Raced the Route 66 Olympic Triathlon
  • Raced Buffalo Springs 70.3
  • Raced Arcadia Sprint Triathlon

But wait, there's more!  What do you do when you train all alone with no one to talk to?  You listen to Podcasts and free Audio books from the library. So, in the past few months, I've listened to:
Many many episodes of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, Zen and the Art of Triathlon, This American Life, Left Right and Center, and Car Talk.  I also discovered Filmspotting. As for books, I listened to: Moby Dick, Thunderball, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a few Sherlock Holmes books, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Great Gatsby.  I also maxed out my free Pandora subscription listening to the Tool station.

Oh yeah, I also took the Oklahoma Bar Exam in July, but that doesn't really fit into things.

Well, if you've made it thus far, I think you have the stamina necessary to complete an Ironman yourself. I suppose the point of this post is to confirm that my personal triathlon experience is much more about the journey itself, and not the destination.  I'll try to remember that 10 hours into Ironman Louisville.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Arcadia Triathlon RR

I've been fairly busy trying to squeeze in as much time on the bike, in the pool, and on my running shoes as I can before taper time.

I went on a long ride out to Jones with the good people of BikeHers.  Paula's spin instructor led the ride and I was able to meet a couple of good people with a lot of biking experience.  I also met a fellow triathlete who has participated in many, many Ironmans.

This past Saturday, I rode in the Spin Your Wheels 62 mile ride.  I rode 10 or so miles to the start, and another 12 or so back.  In all, I got in about 90 miles.  I highly recommend the ride.  Well staffed and supported.

Quick aside, though.  Do groups of triathletes draft each other when out on training rides?  Unless they're training for the Tour's Team Time Trial, I don't really get it.  Train as you race, and drafting is a no go.  I ask because on each of these rides I've done, I've seen pacelines full of TT bikes.  Seems dangerous. /rant

Yesterday, I raced the Arcadia Triathlon put on by TriOKC.  I signed up on a whim, thinking an extra open water swim would do me good.  Paula was also able to join me, which made it all the more fun.  Here's a quick race report:

I warmed up by swimming the course twice, putting in 1000 meters before the race.  Since today was a training day, I wanted to get my money's worth out of a supervised lake swim.  After setting up my bike, I headed down to the water.
The swim was a clockwise triangle that started on the east side of the beach.  The swim was pretty uneventful.  There was a little bumping and grabbing, but nothing substantial.  I exited the water feeling pretty good.

(Very quick video of exiting the water)

I took my sweet time in transition.  Again, not racing but getting everything together.  Once on the bike, I decided to see what was left in my legs after yesterday's 90 miler.  I was a little sluggish up some of the hills, but felt solid overall.  My Garmin wouldn't turn on and I took that as an excuse not to pay attention to my heart rate.  I'm sure it was through the roof.

Just after the turn around, another racer and I would exchange places.  I was faster on the flats and descents, and he was quicker going up hill.  After cresting a modest hill, something happened to his bike and he pulled off the road.  I slowed and asked if he needed help.  After stopping and seeing what was going on, I handed him my bike tool.  I wished him luck and said he could return the tool after the race.  Back on the bike I went and pedaled into T2. I figure I lost about 45 sec to a minute helping him out.  But again, this was a training day.  Right?

I managed to catch 4 or 5 racers that passed me when I pulled over.  Heading onto the run, I was right behind another guy in my age group.  I figured this 5K was going to be a battle royale, but he wasn't up to the challenge.  I settled into a 6:45/6:50 pace or so and just kept grinding.  I picked off a few people, and kept it steady into the finish.  Before I knew it, the race was over and I was eating Oreos and sipping on Gatorade.

I checked the tenative results, and I placed 3rd in my age group.  Sweet.  Check out the prize.  I love practical awards:
(I've always wanted a pull buoy.  Honestly.)

Paula and I ate some breakfast at Pops and then continued on with our day.  All in all, it was a good race and experience.  Would race again!! A++

So, with less than two weeks until IM Louisville, the taper has begun.  But not before I completed 4250 yards (2.4 miles) at the YMCA tonight.  Slow and steady and finished in 1:16:18.  

Now, time for all the chores around the house I've been putting off during training.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

First hill climbed - second fast approaching

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, I took the bar exam in Oklahoma City.  See:
(no rules were broken in the taking of this picture)

Here's a quick video I made on the run the day before the bar exam:

Needless to say, my workouts suffered from the studying.  In the grand scheme of things, I really needed to put my best effort into the bar exam.  Passing it allows me to take a job that I really want.  Failing it means Paula and I have to scramble.  I can afford to DNF IM Louisville.  I don't want to, but given the choice, a DNF is preferrable.  As a result, I missed a buch of workouts.  I was able to swim here and there.  I even participated in the Norman Conquest in Clevland County, OK.  I also ran some, but with the heat and my studying schedule, I need more miles under my shoes.

I'll find out my bar exam result in September.  Fingers are crossed.

In other, but sad news, I had to retire my favorite water bottle:

This was my first water bottle I purchased when I started riding in 2004.  I used it on nearly all my rides and many races.  Well, during the Norman Conquest, I was coming down a hill going about 35-40mph.  The road was a tad bumpy and the bottle ejected itself.  I immediately stopped pedaling, and waited to see where it fell on the road.  Weird thing was, it hadn't hit the road.  It was balanced between my chainstay and my left pedal.  At this point, I was going around 25-30mph with a line of dudes on my back wheel.  Gracefully, I pulled out of the line, trying to keep the bottle where it was, when all of a sudden it fell into my rear wheel's spoke and locked the wheel up.  The water exploded and I was able to come to a complete stop.  Luckily, no spokes were broken.  Unfortunately, there was a small hole in the base of the bottle.  Bummer.  That bottle has been with me since the beginning of my multi-spot journey.   Next time I'm in New Mexico, I'll have to pick one up.

So, back to the training without my favorite bottle.  I'll survive.  I'm pretty sure I have accumulated 15-20 other bottles in the interim.

As for the training, I went on a 5 hr ride with a quick brick run yesterday.  Here's an unlucky fellow I met on the way back:

(Bummer.  Looks like he just had a meal.)

Today, we're in Dallas and I squeezed in a two hour run.  So hot.  I'm going to try and squeeze a swim in tomorrow and maybe another spin on the bike or a run.  Can you tell that I'm struggling to get in as much training as I can?  IM LOUISVILLE IS LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!!!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Norman Conquest

Just a quick update.  I'm knee deep in bar studying notecards and MBE practice questions.  Workouts are suffering, as expected.  I was able to squeak a long run in this morning

And yesterday, I completed the Norman Conquest.  I felt a lot stronger this year over last.  I pushed the pace a little more than I will in Louisville, but I didn't have time yesterday to go for a 5-6 hour ride like the training plan called for. 

I've got my work cut out for me in terms of bar studying for the next few days.  I'll see you on the other side. 

Monday, July 04, 2011

Tour de Payne

I completed my first century today.  I then I rode 4 more miles.  This morning was the Tour de Payne.  Here's my Garmin data:
Moving time: 5:43; Avg speed: 18.1 mph

It was a good ride.  There were a bunch of rolling hills and it got fairly hot toward the end.  There were well-stocked aid stations.  As for the ride itself, it was crowded until the 60 and 100 milers split off. Afterwards, it was fairly lonely out there.  One thing I learned - roadies don't like getting passed by solo triathletes.  Nearly every group I passed decided to crank it up a bit and repass me a little later.  That's fine and all, but it got annoying when those groups would then slow down in front of me.  No big deal though, everyone was friendly.

I was planning on going for a quick jog after the ride, but I was feeling pressed for time (and my legs wanted the afternoon off).

So, century completed. Now, more bar studying and triathlon training.  But first, being the Fourth and all, it's time to drink beer and blow up cheap Chinese gunpowder. 

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Twas the night before . . .

the Tour de Payne.  I'm going to do the 104 ride tomorrow.  It'll probably be hot.  The most I've ever ridden is 70 or so miles.  So, first century!!!

I might even try to follow up with a quick run to see how bad my legs will feel on race day.  Then it's beer time in celebration of our country.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

70.3 Race Report

This blog entry is going to be a good ol' fashioned race report.  Nothing fancy.

Last weekend was the Half-Ironman in Lubbock, TX.  I picked this race as my tune-up for Ironman Louisville because it was relatively close, it hit the calendar at about the right time, the conditions are similar to IM Louisville, and I am familiar with the lake.  I raced the course in 2009 as part of the University of New Mexico Triathlon team at College Nationals.

The race was on a Sunday, so I headed down Saturday morning.  I planned on camping to save some money and hassle in the morning.  Paula stayed in OKC and enjoyed her weekend to herself.  The drive was uneventful, and I ate some really bad for you road food on the way.

After paying my camping fee and setting up my tent, I headed to the expo.  It was fairly understated and smaller than I though an M-Dot event would be.  Back to the campsite to get my gear ready for the next day.  After some bar exam studying, I decided to go to bed around 10PM.  Little did I know there'd be a few loud and late parties out on the lake.  It was hard to get to sleep, and before I knew it, it was time to get up.  A quick meal of oatmeal (during which I had to fend off four raccoons) and some tea got me ready for the morning.  I loaded my gear up, and rode my bike off to the start.

Setting up transition was uneventful, except for some fire ants that disrupted some racers a few rows over.  I hit the bathroom, sipped my gatorade and downed a gel 20 or so minutes out.  I threw the wetsuit on and headed down to the beach.

Here's where things get a little confusing.  I was given a green swim cap for the 25-29 age group.  My time was registered in the 30-34 age group.  If you look at the results, my swim time is off by a few minutes.  Turns out the 30-34 age group left a few minutes before the wave I was in.  So, that accounts for the discrepancy.  Not a huge deal, but the posted time is off a little.

As for the swim itself, it got off to a weird start.  The gun went off before I was ready, so I started near the back.  I threw my goggles on and tried to start swimming.  It was a little rough out there.  Unfortunately, my googles were totally fogged up and I couldn't site at all.  A few times, I stopped to tread water and wipe away the fog.  It was temporary.  So, instead of sighting, I just swam where everyone else was going.  I also took a good shot to the face at one point.  To top it all off, I dropped my goggles in the water just before hitting T1.  Not a good swim at all.  Poor sighting and tentative swimming with all the bumping out there resulted in a time of 35:30.

T1:  I thought I went real slow, and I did.  Jogged up the carpet, grabbed my gear, and walked my bike out.

Bike:  The plan was to go real steady with low to moderate effort.  I ended up going too hard at Redman and suffering for it on the run.  So, I tried to keep my heart rate about 140 and just relax.  I also had a new aero bottle that helped out.  The plan was to take a hit off my GU flask every 30 minutes, electrolyte pills every hour, and Gatorade/Poweraid throughout.  I stuck to that and felt good.

The beginning of the ride involves two pretty sharp hills getting out of the lake onto the county roads.  After exiting the park, you head north for a mile or so, and then east.  We had a wind from the Southeast, so you could really haul if you wanted to.  Plenty did.  I did not.  We turned south and hit a sizable hill. Again, I just spun up the incline.  I was surprised at the people I was going by, but knew they'd catch me on the flats.  Around mile 30 or so, my back started to ache a bit, but that was really all the discomfort I had.  I stayed aero for nearly all of the ride.

The highlight of the ride (apart from hitting nearly 50mph on a downhill) was seeing the pros absolutely flying on the course.  Those guys (and girls) can ride hard.

The very end of the ride involves the earlier hills in reverse, including a final quad burner just before you get back to transition.  I came in feeling pretty good.

Time: 3:00:52 - Slower than Redman for sure, but wind, hills, and patience accounted for the slower time.

T2:  Don't really remember much about it.  I didn't have to change socks.  Grabbed my nutrition.  As I was heading out, I still had my GU flask. I put it down near a fence, hoping to remember where I put it on the way back.

Run:  The plan was to run as long as I could and improve on my Redman time.  I started with a few fairly quick miles which slowed accordingly.  There were two long hills in the early going.  I kept moving up them.  Once out of the park, we ran on a long, straight road to the turn around.  It was agonizing.  I kept thinking I'd soon see the turn around, but it took forever.  Once I turned, I thought about pushing the pace, but today was a training day.  I kept my HR right where I wanted it, around 160/165.  Back into the park, I started thinking about walking.  Mistake.  I started to walk.  Whoops.  Eventually, I got back into it with the encouragement of another racer.  We pushed ourselves to the finish.

One quick note:  the aid stations were awesome.  Ice, ice water, coke, ice towels, and more.  Also, along the way, houses turned their sprinklers on for us.  It was so nice.

Time: 2:05:13 (not great, but an improvement).

Total race time:  5:48 and change.
I cooled down with two cans of Coke and a dip in the lake.  Many people got an IV, which struck me as peculiar.  Did that many people actually need and IV, or is that just what triathletes do when they finish a long hot race?  Not this guy -  unless a medical professional tells me to do so.

Afterwards, I mulled around for a bit.  I couldn't find my gel flask. I gathered my stuff, and rode over to my campsite.  I had already packed up, so I threw on some clean clothes hopped on the road back to OKC.  A couple tanks of gas and a Braum's trip later, I had returned to OKC.

Reflections on the race:
Overall, I thought the race went well.  I wasn't trying to go hard.  The purpose was to see what IM Louisville might feel like.  I think I got my pacing and nutrition down.  I gained some confidence for the race.  I also had a modest PR of 5 minutes over my Redman time on a tougher, hotter, windier course.

 Maybe I'll try to put in a proper showing next year.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A brief return to the Land of Enchantment

Paula and I visited New Mexico to see my mother for her birthday.  It was a quick trip, but we managed to squeeze in a few of our old habits.  Friday morning, I was able to hop on the bike and ride the Jemez Dam route.  I wanted to ride some hills and get some miles in.

Here's a quick video I shot:

Then, I drove on down to ABQ proper and met up with Dave for a morning run.  We had a good few miles in the gloriously beautiful Sandia foothills.  Too bad I didn't bring my phone to take some pictures. And in proper New Mexican form, we followed up with a Golden Pride breakfast burrito.  So good.

It was good to see my mother, sister, her husband, and my cousin and her fiance.  We had a real good dinner in Santa Fe and spent some quality time together.  Its rare for multiple members of our family to congregate, given our various geographic locations.  

I managed to hop on the bike for one more ride up to the Jemez Dam and a short run before jumping in the car for the 8 or so hour drive back to Oklahoma.  

Back to the relative grind.  Next week is Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake.  I'm hoping for a solid, injury-free finish.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

El Reno Races

In the past week, I raced in El Reno twice.

Last Tuesday, I competed in a "Splash and Dash," which as the name implies, involves a quick open water swim and a run.  It was a 470-480 meter swim (a little short of 500m) and a 2 mile run.  I did reasonably well.  I finished 4th overall out of 55 people and I had the second fastest run.  My transition time killed me. Wetsuit, socks, and tying shoes - it takes a while.

I also ran a 21:04 practice 5K after a day filled with bike commuting and a swim workout on Wednesday.  I plan on doing this each Wednesday night.  Sub 20 minutes, here I come.

On to today (Sunday).  I raced the Route 66 Olympic Triathlon in, again, El Reno.  Paula was unable to make it, and I still don't know anybody here, so I was all by my lonesome.

The venue is about 40 minutes away, so I left around 5:30 or so with breakfast in my belly and coffee in my cup.  I arrived around 6:10 or so, parked and made my way to transition.  After I pumped my tires, I noticed that my front carbon HED wheel was losing air.  So, just before transition closed, I grabbed my spare practice wheel and threw it on.  I'm anxious to see my pics on the course because my TT bike will look a little silly with mismatched wheels.  After a mandatory meeting and potty stop, I waded into the water ready to start the race.

The swim was a two lap 750 meter swim with a triangle buoy set-up.  I started on the left and was right up at the front of the crowd.  The gun went off and we started.  There wasn't too much bumping and thrashing.  I had some difficulty sighting, but generally it went well. I kept my pace even and steady, breathing on every stroke.  I felt good.

I finished the first lap in around 13:30 or so.  I jogged it around and got right back in the water.  This time I could hug the buoys and draft off some faster people that sighted better than me.  Nothing much happened on this loop.  Again, I took it easy.

The water was pleasantly warm and clean tasting (you can't help but inhale / swallow some during a swim). It was very cloudy and I couldn't see past my elbows when I was swimming.

I finished in 26:08 (1:35/100 yds) (fastest yet!)

I rinsed my feet in the kiddy pool and then was stripped by a couple of ladies.  Threw my gear on and off I went.  I took my time in transition, electing to run in my cycling shoes and clip in after the mount line.
Time: 1:26

The course involved two loops about 12.5 miles each. It was the flattest course non-sprint course I've done.  During the first loop, I hammered a little too much and had my heart rate up pretty high.  I traded places with a few dudes.  I don't really have much to report on this ride.  It was a nice course with some scenic farm views; and some pungent manure smells.

Towards the end of my second loop, I started passing some people on their first loop.  I passed this one lady that yelled at me for not announcing I was approaching on her left. That was odd.  I passed (and was passed) by a bunch of people and not one of us announced it.  This wasn't the trails at Hefner Lake. This was a race. Expect to get passed.

Bike portion finished in 1:10:15 (21.35mph)

I changed socks, couldn't find my rack, and took my sweet time.
Time: 1:25

It had started getting a little windy at this point. So, running south on the two 3.1mi looped course was a little tougher.  I wanted to average about 7:00 min/mi and see what I had at the end.  Secretly I knew that if I ran a 50 min 10k, I was on my way to a PR.  So, I didn't have a real sense of urgency out there.

I slipped into cruise control after the first 6:45 mile.  I was clicking them off around 7:15/7:30.  It felt good.  After the first loop, I was going to pick it up a bit, but I never really did.  Maybe I didn't have anything in the tank. I dunno.  Still, I felt solid, if not a little fatigued.  I didn't kick or sprint at the end.  I kept it smooth and eased on to the finish line.
10k time: 44:41 (7:11min/mi) not too shabby.

Total time: 2:23:54
23rd out of 135 males (there were some seriously fast dudes out there).

Post race
Grabbed some water, hot dogs, brownie and sun chips.  Then waited for about an hour and a half for the awards. I placed "First" in my age group because (1) the first place 30-34 year old placed first overall; and (2) there aren't a lot of fast 30-34 year olds.  The award was a really cool license plate with the race logo and events on it.  Too bad I had already gotten one at the earlier Splash and Dash.  Oh well.  Its nice.  But what do I do with two?

Post race thoughts
This was my fourth olympic distance race (College Nationals; Elephant Man; Grady Williams).  Because each course is different, its difficult to compare times.  Still, this was the fastest race I've had by far.  My training is paying off.  I feel smoother and faster in the water.  The bike is better, but not where it needs to be yet.  As for the run, I'm maintaining what I have.  There is no way I'll be able to maintain these speeds for longer races.

The race itself was planned and executed very well.  The weather was nearly perfect and the organizers had everything in order.  Apart from waiting a little too long for awards, it was a real fun race.  It doesn't hurt that its so close to Oklahoma City, too.

Next up - Buffalo Springs 70.3

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bottom of the Hill

Do you know that feeling when you see a long, steep hill approaching on a bike ride? Usually, you're coming down a little downhill awaiting the incline of the rise to take your speed away. Soon, you're going to have to start pedaling. Worse still, you'll have to downshift and put a little extra effort in to get over that hill.

Well, I'm just about at the bottom of the hill. You see, I'm about to begin studying for the bar exam while continuing my Ironman Louisville training. And, I'm working a 40 hour a week job. Doubtlessly, the next 8 weeks until the bar exam is going to require downshifting, getting out of the saddle, and cranking up the effort.

I think I'll be OK. My job has allowed me to put in 4 ten hour days, thus freeing up one day. I've also put together a schedule that should allow me to manage my time. I've gotten pretty good at getting early morning workouts in.  Plus, I've got the NM bar experience under my belt, so I know exactly how ugly the test will be.

I should be up the hill in no time.

Speaking of hills, Paula and I climbed our fair share of climbing this past weekend during the Tour de Meers.

Paula completed the 22 mile route, while I did the metric century. It was hot and a little windy.

(Wind farm in the distance)

The route was a scenic tour through the Witchita Mountains in Oklahoma.  The organizers did a good job ferrying us over cattle guards and supplying watered down gatorade.  I would have finished strong except for my miscalculation.  I thought the ride was 62 miles, but it was 68.  So, pushing it hard around miles 58/59 was not a good idea.  Still, I know I need more time on the bike.

Here's a quick (and windy) video after the finish.

Up next: A Splash and Dash at Lake El Reno, the Route 66 Olympic Triathlon, and Buffalo Springs 70.3.  Oh yeah, and a whole lot of studying.