Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2013 Age Group Nationals

I got this email today
Congratulations Jeremy Solt. You have qualified for the Olympic-Distance race at the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships on August 10 in Milwaukee, Wis., after finishing in the top 10 percent in your age group at the Maple Grove Triathlon: Dare To TRI.
That's pretty sweet, though I thought I had heard somewhere that the age group nationals weren't a qualifying event. So I looked it up
Any athlete who wants to compete at the Olympic Distance National Championship must qualify in their respective age group at a USAT-sanctioned event of a qualifying distance. This event is the only USAT National Championship for which athletes have to meet a strict qualification.
It is true though that the AG sprint nationals is not a qualifying event, you can just go.

There are all sorts of ways to qualify for this event, but I fall into top 10% in my age group at a non championship, but still USAT, event. Qualifying doesn't reserve a spot, the race fills up. For now we're planning on going, because that will be neat, though my wife did say "what are we going to do in MILWAUKEE!?"

So there we have it, that's pretty neat!

Friday, November 23, 2012

DNS or False Start

So let's see, my last race was at the end of October (Rev3 Florida) and since then I've been on break. No running, no biking, no swimming, no nothing really. Plenty of sleeping in past 5 and time with family.

This is what my break has looked like workout wise

So the plan was to get started this past Monday. It's about six months till my first likely race, and goals being what they are the plan is to start the season in great shape.

I woke up around 3:00 to the sound of my youngest doing her impression of a screamapillar (surprisingly the only screamapillar video I could find.) I ended up staying up after that. I had planned on going swimming, but had a killer sore throat.

Went to work, did the work thing, came home. I wasn't feeling all that great so I went to sleep at about 6.

Woke up feeling a little better but then my wife said she was sick. So I called in sick, and I "took care of the kids" for a while (meaning I got them breakfast and passed out on the couch.) I spent the rest of the day in bed. Apparently my wife recovered sometime while I was still on the couch.

Having slept the last 20 or so hours we decided that showing up at work and risking the spread of my plague wouldn't be polite, so I stayed home again (went back to sleep after the email to work.) Then sort of milled around the house with the family.

Thanksgiving. We did that.

Set up the christmas tree, took some of the behind the counter cold medicine and just hung around around the house. And that's where we are.

So last year I took off from the end of August to about the middle of November. And then I just did some light running till January when I really started to kick it into gear. That plan was shooting for a June 9th peak. So basically I took off three months.

This year I was all set to go on three weeks of off time. Sure, sure, if you look back through the various race reports I say that I was basically on auto-pilot and not doing that good on following through on workouts toward the end of the season (again this year.) So I've convinced myself that perhaps I jumped the gun. First of all, six months from November 19th is May 19th. And while my first race hasn't been settled on, I might do the Chain of Lakes traithlon again which is a sprint. Six months to built to a sprint... well that might be a little silly for little old me.

So the new tentative start date is the first week in January for official "with a plan" workouts and probably sooner for unofficial "just do stuff" outings.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tri Season Notes

This year I did eight races. Here's how they lined up.

Chain Of Lakes (Sprint)
Liberty (70.3)
Lake Waconia (Sprint)
Minneapolis (Sprint)
Chisago (70.3)
Lakefront Days (Sprint)
Maple Grove (Sprint)
Rev3 Florida (70.3)


Last Year for Comparison
Spring Training (Sprint)6:581:3531:4418.528:219:27
Egg Hunt (Sprint)9:052:0434:1417.529.489:35
Trinona (Olympic)23:111:251:27:3217.857.469:17
Lake Front Days (Sprint)6:411:3140:5819.828:068:30
Maple Grove (Olympic)25:591:351:22:3319.253:038:32

What I see

  • Chain of lakes is blazingly fast. It was a pool swim, I now know that I can sustain a much faster pace in a pool than in open water. 1:16 was still fast for me at that point of the year. At that point of the year my swim conditioning was at it's peak (sadly.)
  • The rest of the swims were pretty consistent, and most of the time I was feeling good getting out the water.


  • Rev3 is low due to the tire change. Oh well
  • Other than that speed is up overall for the year.
  • Those averages are still low compared to many other people.


  • I had some very fast (for me) runs this year.
  • The first two halves are pretty slow (comparatively) but the last one was better. It could be that I'm getting close to having this distance a little better dialed in so that perhaps I can go for my goal next year.
  • Hard to tell what happened at Waconia, I think I let that race get in my head. I might do it again this coming year just so I can see if I can do better.
  • I hit a good level of conditioning in swimming pretty early in the season, but then I started letting it slip.
  • I dropped a ton of speed in my running over the start of the year.
  • I also added some significant speed over last year on the bike. 

Next Year
So the goals for next season line up like this
  • Start the season in as good or better shape than where I finished.
  • Add another 1 or 2 mph on the bike. If I can get average speed up over 22 mph consistently that will help a lot
  • Bring the run pace down. I'd like to be under 8 minutes consistently, around 7 for shorter races.
  • Have a better plan for the swim training, times didn't suffer that much, but confidence did
This season is over for me. I am taking a shorter break than last year, but I will ease into it a little. I probably won't get totally structured till the start of the year.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Training Notes

This month my totals look like this

Swim22,000 yards7:20 hours
Bike271 miles15:30 hours
Run61.25 miles9:45 hours

Everything is up this month, I was scrambling to get ready for the Rev3 race. I'm going to take a couple of weeks totally off. And then I'll start building again for next season :)

Swim12,750 yards3:50 hours
Bike145 miles8 hours
Run30 miles4:45 hours

This month's resolution was no pop. I did pretty well at it. I did finally break down and have some pop on the way home from Florida. It was just too much concentrated non-pop too close together. I couldn't take it anymore. So two pops during that 30 hours of driving. Not too shabby.

November is a month of thanks. I'll probably tweet them.

Race Review : Rev3 Florida 70.3

Rev3 Florida, my second nationally branded event, the first one with Rev3. We were planning a trip to Florida in the fall anyway, and my sister's birthday is right around this time, and she signed up, so the stars aligned. This was my third 70.3 of the year.

The Training 
Training was pretty hit or miss, started out strong, got injured, had about two weeks of training before starting on vacation, got some workouts in with my sister while on vacation. Would I say I was fully physically in top shape? Probably not, but I was mentally there, I was pretty sure I could turn in a solid performance, it just wouldn't be optimal, or as close as optimal as I can get while writing my own training plans :)

Race Weekend (Packet Pickup)
Now, I could be wrong, but I think Rev3's idea of how to put on a triathlon is to pick a place where people want to travel to anyway, and then make a weekend of it. So starting some time on Friday they open the expo and you can pick up your packet and stuff, and the race is on Sunday.

We were staying in Miami with my sister, so we drove up (through amazing rain caused by hurricane Sandy) four hours to Venice where the race is. We settled into our hotel, and then headed down to the expo to pick up our packets. We had gotten an email earlier about how there had been a snafu, and race numbers wouldn't be available, and that we'd be able to pick them up later. No matter, we didn't have anything else to do.

We got a little lost, as the race site was actually pretty big, or maybe spaced out is a better description. They had said that Sharkey's was the race hub, but really the expo was the race hub, and you can't even see the expo from Sharkey's. A lady at the restaurant pointed us in the right direction. On the way there, we stopped and looked at the water, it was rough.

Looks pretty calm in the picture, this is what it looked like at the start of the race too. 
We hit the expo, talked to some very friendly Rev3 people. Picked up our packets, got our timing chip, got our goodie bags and then hit dinner.

More details: I'd like to know what the deal is with races putting up people's names with their bib numbers on a piece of paper and then having them get in a line based on that number, recite that number to someone and then having that person make sure you are the right person by reading your name off an envelope. I personally struggle with this. I wish it was just alphabetical order. I'm sure it has something to do with distributions of last names not being equal, but still.

When you get your timing chip they take your picture, that's sort of neat. I suppose its for when you cross the line exclusively, and I did see my picture when I crossed the line, so that was sort of neat. The people manning this booth were the super friendly people we talked to when we first got to the expo.

We got our goodie bags - they were quick to point out we'll get the shirt after we finish, so if you were just panning on picking up your swag and not racing all you'd have gotten was a visor, some goggles, and some food. All in all though, not too bad a haul.

The practice swim was cancelled, I wasn't out of bed yet when they called it so I just slept in. They cancelled it due to safety reasons. At this point I was pretty sure there'd be no swim during the race; though officially they said if conditions held there would be a swim.

After that we rode our bikes from the hotel to the expo for bike check-in. It was quite windy, and not the speediest three 5 miles I've ever done, but it did give a small feel for what the race would be like if the wind held, and according to the weather it would hold.

We got there, found out there wasn't bike check-in. Apparently they didn't want to have to worry about keeping 300 bikes upright all night long in the wind, I racked my bike on our car, and hurried back so my wife and kids could do the Little Rev race. The little rev race is a way to involve the kids in the weekend, they had a good time and so did my wife.

That's my super girl at the front, she took off and left my wife and her brother in the dust

About half way through, a slightly slower pace

Apparently he dragged that thing around for about 20 minutes.

Happy family!
We attended the athlete meeting - they said again that there was a good chance for a swim. I started to believe them. There were jokes about bad drivers, and super old people. Pretty laid back and easy to consume. They had live music afterwards, we didn't stick around for that. It was time to eat and my niece's birthday cake needed eating.

Race Morning
We elected to get up and meet in the lobby for breakfast at 5:30, that was pretty much everyone's idea. We ate, and then found out from someone down there that the swim had been cancelled. We checked Facebook, saw the announcement and decided to hang out a little while longer before heading down there since we now had till after 8 before the race started.

Side Note: I totally understand cancelling a swim on a triathlon due to bad conditions. I often think about weaker swimmers while swimming in good conditions in a large group. Swimming isn't like biking or running, if you decide you can handle a mile swim but can't really, you've taken a fairly large risk. There were plenty of people who wanted to swim even after seeing the water, me included, but honestly who wants to find out someone almost drowned because of a rip current?

We got bored in the hotel, so took off. We got there with enough time to get a small warm-up ride and mill around for a bit.

The Swim

With the swim canceled for the age groupers, the pros did a quick 1.5 mile run, and we got to watch them run into T1. Then we lined up in numeric order and did a time-trial start starting from the swim in. Rules were, no helmet and no shoes. The MC kept saying it was fair, I don't fully understand that, but it doesn't really matter. It worked and the transition area was pretty free from congestion.

Side Note: When the pros went by I remember thinking, they look like they're going pretty fast, but not blazing. I looked at the results later, the top men averaged under 5 minute per mile pace, that's fast.

The Bike
The bike was a single loop of 56 miles. With the wind coming from the northwest at 20-30mph and the bike course they had laid out, that meant we'd basically have a tail wind for the first 15-20 miles. And then the rest would be sort of on-again-off-again into the wind.

I knew my sister was about 7 minutes up on me (based on the time trial start) the plan was to try to catch her at some point on the bike. I also knew a friend Nick who was there, but I was pretty sure I would not catch or even gain on him during the bike. (Actually after they cancelled the swim I just put it out of my mind that I'd even be able to come close to catching him at all since our run speeds are roughly the same.)

So I took it out not super easy, but also not Sprint speed. We were regularly seeing speeds over 20mph, and I was getting passed like CRAZY! I think all the women were ahead of me, and just men were behind me. Guys came FLYING past me, and I was hardly passing anyone. Thankfully though I was also not just being dropped by the group, so I reasoned that these must just be the people who normally I'd have a 2-8 minute advantage over with a swim except now I have a 3 - 30 second advantage over due to the time trial start so instead of taking an hour to catch me they catch me in a few minutes.

Somewhere between 10 and 20 miles I thought my water bottle or something fell off. It sounded like I ran over a small piece of metal, or something metal fell off my bike. I couldn't figure out what it was, I was pretty sure it wasn't someone around me, because just then there wasn't anyone around me. Oh well, maybe wild metal throwing Flamingos or something.

I caught my sister somewhere around 21 or 22 miles. I gave her a little call-out and mustered on. At this point this ride is still very fast. Then we rounded the turn, 23 miles in it was time to start facing the music. Speed dropped considerably, but it didn't get really bad till about 30 miles, then I was under 20 consistently.

...And then... bump ... bump ... bump... it felt like I was riding over sort of rough road, but I wasn't. Then I looked down, flat tire. I stopped quickly to check, yep, mostly flat, but not totally, so I rode to the next intersection. Almost exactly 90 minutes in, I was changing my back tire. My sister was pretty close behind me, she rode by before I had my wheel off. Remember that noise I heard earlier? Broken spoke. So I wrapped the loose spoke around another, and changed the tire. I don't know how long it took, but it took a while. Based on the splits from the timing system it took me 30 minutes longer to do the second split than the first, and it was only three miles longer. So I'm going to say it took me roughly 20-25 minutes to change my tire.

Obviously a TON of people passed me. I went from top 50% to bottom 10% during that split. The rest of the ride was pretty lonely, passed a few people here and there. But I did what I said I would do and just made the best of it. I smiled at every volunteer I saw, said thank you to as many as I could. I chatted briefly with people I was passing and just made the best of it.

Toward the end of the bike my legs were T.I.R.E.D. I was ready to get off :) I saw my wife and kids at transition, I chatted briefly with a lady who finished the bike just in front of me and then headed out on the run feeling surprisingly good.

All smiles!
The Run

Heading out!
I was feeling pretty happy, I knew I was way behind where I'd have been without the flat, so I just put a smile on and made the best of it. I high-fived my wife and kids (I missed my oldest, but went back so she wouldn't be left hanging.)

It was basically the same story as the bike, just keep smiling and thanking all the volunteers. In the beginning I wasn't really passing many people, there were lots of people on the course, just not near me.

Side note: This is true for both the bike and run, the volunteers at this race were fantastic. These people were full of energy and smiles. Don't get me wrong, I've never really been to a race where I didn't appreciate the volunteers, but these people were beaming.

The course was a six mile out and back done twice, some time before the first turn around I saw my sister. I figured she was about two miles ahead. She looked great, and I felt great. I made it my little goal to try to catch her. I KNEW it was a long shot, but I thought it would be fun to try.

At this point I was passing lots of people, and not being passed at all. I was feeling great! I was getting lots of compliments on my smiles. I was walking through well stocked aid stations. I hit the half way point, and was feeling good. I saw my sister about three miles later, I was convinced I was only about a half mile down (which it would turn out was not even close to right - my brain doesn't always work right in races :) so I plowed on thinking I could catch her. I got some mild cramps near the end of the run in my quads, but just kept going.

Coming in to the finish!
The Finish
I got to the end of the finish chute and ran down with my son on oldest daughter. It was fun, my daughter usually runs through finish lines with me, but this was the first race where they encourage you to do it. It makes a big difference. A great way to finish the race!

Me and my sister and our kids
The Results

Goal Actual
Swim 33:30 0
Bike 2:52 3:23
Run 1:57 2:03
Total 5:27 5:29

The swim – Cancelled due to poor swimming conditions.

The bike - 40 minutes over, close to 30 of those sitting on the side of the road changing a tire. The rest I'll chalk up to wind. It's possible that I could have pushed harder at the start or end, but given the flat it was more fun to just have a good time.

The run – A little slower than I wanted. It actually felt really good, it's another big drop in the run segment of a race this distance. It seems like I'm starting to dial in on this distance.

Overall I'd say the race went really well. It would have been easy to get discouraged and feel super down about the flat, but that's not what happened.

Closing Comments
This was a great way to end the season. Based on this race I'd say if you have a chance to do a Rev3 race you should. If you have family it's setup for a family visit. If you don't, it's a very well put together event. The people working it really like it, the competition is good and there's a great chance to see some pros in action.

We're already thinking about the Dells event for next year.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Race Preview - Rev3 Florida 70.3

I signed up for this race because my sister did, and her birthday is this weekend and so is my niece's. So the family and I made a vacation of it. We've been here for a bunch of days already, we've had a relaxing and fun time. Immediately following this race, like I'll probably jump in the shower and then the car, we are heading back to MN. We'll see how smart that logic is :)

Race Info
The swim course looks kinda like a foot in the water. It looks like we swim straight out, turn left, head out further, turn right for the long leg parallel to shore, then do the reverse on the way back in. We enter on one side of a pier, and exit on the other. The swim is in the gulf of mexico on the west coast of Florida, it may be very windy on Sunday, but the gulf is usually pretty calm, so even with some stiff winds the water will probably be alright. The current water temperature is 78, which is borderline wetsuit weather. The other key is that the longest leg of the swim I'll be looking into the sun. I'm happy I have some tinted goggles.

Edit: So I wrote the bit about the water before we went to the race site to check it out. Here's a quick video of what the water looked like this afternoon.

The bike course is 56 miles in one loop. It starts out 15 miles south, then 10 miles east and then meanders back in 2-5 mile stretches back to the start. It finishes with what looks to be about 2 miles south again to transition. The weather forecast is for windy conditions, likely from the north, so the first 25 miles or so probably won't be bad, then it will be nice to have a less direct route back.

The run is two loops along some body of water. For the a bit it's on the gulf, and then what I'd guess is a canal. I'm thinking the two loops will be nice, because that means that I'll get some support from family half way through the run which is usually where I start to wonder if I'm going to make it :)

I'm honestly not sure what to make of my current fitness. I had a very strong short tempo run yesterday, a great swim the day before. I am hoping to get out and do a quick tempo ride today or tomorrow. I'm feeling good. So, assuming the wind isn't horrible (currently we're seeing 20-25 mph with gusts over 35) I'm going to try for a PR.

Swim33:301:35 per 100 yards
Bike2:5219.5 miles/hour
Run1:579 mins/mile

Closing Comments
I'm ready, besides my time-based goal, I'm determined to have a good time. I may have to play around a little to figure out how to lift my spirits if they go down, but the goal will be to stay positive.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rev3 Sarasota - T-2 weeks

In just over two weeks I will do my third 70.3 of the year, and final race of the year.

A quick recap

  • Liberty - Swim went well, bike went well, run felt like death. Finish time 5:39. 
  • Chisago - Swim went less well, bike went about the same, run went better, but not as good as I wanted. Emotional low point for the season. Finish time 5:38
  • The last short race before this was a high note, won my age group at a Maple Grove. Started training for this race right after that, then bike crash, three weeks off.
  • Since then I've gotten some decent trainer biking in, one long run that didn't go so hot, I'll do a long cold bike tomorrow, and the swimming is fine.

The next two weeks.
On Tuesday we will spend 20ish hours driving to FL, we'll get there about the middle of the day Wednesday. I'll miss the Wednesday workout. Then we'll be on vacation, the plus side of this timing is that there are zero workouts longer than an hour, and I can hopefully squeeze those in very early in the morning and not get in the way of having fun with family. So I will probably finish off the training plan as I laid out. It's a different story if it was a good plan, time will tell :)

Where I'm at Mentally
At this point I really want to rely on the several months of base I put in this year, so a month off, while not ideal, probably just means that I won't be 100% on race day, but I'll probably be in the mid to upper 90s, and really that's good. So, now I'm trying to figure out if I'll have a PR in me. First, the course.

  • Swim - Likely no wetsuit, that will put me 3-5 minutes slower than Chisago. But probably not any more tired (here's to hoping :). It's in the gulf, which I think means no so choppy, though since I'm a stronger swimmer, chop helps me a little compared to the group.
  • Bike - F-L-A-T. I don't know about wind, but F-L-A-T for sure. Both Liberty and Chisago had comparable bike splits. the elevation profile, while different, seemed roughly equivalent. About 1,000 feet of climb in each. Sarasota - 282. I've heard that hills don't factor much into races, and I may actually place less favorably since I worked a lot on hills this year and I pick up places on hills. But it might also mean that without the hills I might have a little more in the tank on the run.
  • Run - F-L-A-T. Wind probably won't be a factor, shade won't be a factor, I baked in both of the previous races. The Liberty run had (according to Garmin) 935 feet of climb in it (that's right, about the same as the bike,) and the Chisago run had 450ish. Sarasota - 59. Hills demoralized me on the previous races, maybe no hills and I'll make it the whole way with a smile on my face.
The course seems favorable, so it turns to climate as I live in what is generally considered to be a colder place than FL. BUT - both Liberty and Chisago seemed ridiculously hot. So I looked it up.

On June 9th 2012, near Rockford MN

  • Averages
    • 69 (min temperature)
    • 90 (max temperature)
    • 80 (average temperature for the day)
    • Humidty 45%
  • Estimated During the Race
    • 8:15 (bike start) - 70 degrees
    • 11:00 (run start) - 80 degrees
    • 1:00 (finish) - 90 degrees
On July 22 2012, near Chisago City, MN

  • Averages
    • 66 (min temperature)
    • 86 (max temperature)
    • 76 (average temperature for the day)
    • Humidity 80%
  • Estimated During the Race
    • 8:00 (bike start) - 76 degrees
    • 11:00 (run start) - 80 degrees
    • 1:00 (finish) - 80 degrees
On October 28 2012, near Sarasota, FL (forecasted averages)

  • 64 (min temperature)
  • 83 (max temperature)
  • 73 (average temperature for the day)
  • Humidity - 80%

Assuming I'm physically going to be there, I could see breaking 5:30. That's probably best case, the run I had the other night wasn't pretty. The conditions look favorable though, it may come down to just letting go, because I think my brain might be in the way.

When I started swimming in high school I had taken a few years off swimming, and I swam in these pink and purple striped board shorts for practices. EVERYONE thought it was dumb, and I don't recall exactly why I sported these things, but I did. Anyway, every four or five Saturday's we'd put all the timing equipment in and do seven 100 freestyles off the blocks at race pace. For a swimmer a 100 race is an all out sprint, there is no need to conserve energy, it will be over soon, just push. So all out effort, and you'd get about seven minutes of rest between them. This is a true sprinter's workout, just go FAST and don't worry about rest. It was sort of a rite of passage, if you could manage to keep your average time below one minute for all seven, the coach would give you a kick-board with your name on it for use for the rest of the year. Motivation to go hard.

So, I'm a freshman, I'm not getting below a minute on any of them, I'm not even that close. The last one comes up, one of the team captains walks up to me.

Cap: Take those dumb shorts off!
Me: There's nothing under them.
Cap: What!?! ... These are sprints, don't you want to go fast?
Me: Yeah
Cap: On this one, go under a minute.
Me: Ok.

I get up on the block - and off I go. Less than a minute later I'm done. First hundred under a minute. The lesson I pull from this - sometimes it's in your head. Sometimes you just need to let go and let it happen.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Year over Year Comparison

Last year I had my first committed triathlon training year. I kept very detailed records of my training and races. This year I did the same, and made a goal of doing my first two 70.3 distances (Liberty, Chisago.) My desire to do well at those races, as well as just improve overall lead me to break from my self-prescribed three month break about a month early.

With a full month left of training this year leading up to the last race I figured I could do an early assessment of where I stand, purely by the numbers, compared to last year.

Last year my season started in April and ended in August. So five full months - honestly I probably trained through the entire winter too to do my first two half marathons, but I don't have detailed records of those workouts, so for the sake of ease we'll just say those are accurate dates.

Last year's season totals looked like this

Swim yards26:40 hours
Bike1,207 miles56:42 hours
Run233 miles22:52 hours

I started ramping up into a fully structured program on November 21. The date-to-day numbers for that look like this

Swim yards79:30 hours
Bike2,100 miles124:50 hours
Run533 miles82 hours

Just for apples to apples, if I compare only the same dates
Swim yards41 hours
Bike1,600 miles89 hours
Run306 miles46:25 hours

 There appears to be somewhat of an anomaly here - the running. It looks like I'm saying that in just over double the amount of time I only ran 1/3 further. I'm thinking that may be because at the start (November - mid-January) I was doing some pretty easy running. Taking plenty of walk breaks, stuff like that.

At times this year it really seemed like I was working out a ton. I clearly put in more time, I'll dig into the fruit of all of the labor some time later. But when Ironman WI came along this year I saw a tweet go by "Since signing up for #IMWI last year, I have trained 733 hours (ave 2h per day). I've biked 7,309 miles, run 1,265 miles and swam 320 miles." He went on to finish in 10hrs got 16th in his AG and 62nd overall. But still, that's a TON of training. That is some major commitment.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Training Notes

This month my totals look like this

Swim12,750 yards3:50 hours
Bike145 miles8 hours
Run30 miles4:45 hours

Everything is down, this is not a surprise given the asphalt induced 3 week break.I didn't do any workout at all for 18 days, so those numbers reflect only 10 days. This month actually started out really strong, a quick look at August's numbers and you can see that I was on track to almost double those numbers this month.

Swim19,200 yards5:45 hours
Bike276 miles14:30 hours
Run34 miles5 hours

Accident Update
Instead of doing the standard 'how's the swim/bike/run going' update I'll just touch on the last three workouts which came in the last two days.

Saturday AM - Went for a short 3 miler, just to take it easy. For about two straight weeks I walked with a limp due to pain in my right knee. I waited till I had several days of pain free walking before trying to run. That knee felt fine, the other knee not so hot. I took it easy, overall pace 10:30 - quite a bit off par.

Saturday PM - Went for an easy bike, a quite ride I know very well. I had a couple of goals, first to make sure the bike was in decent shape. It's alright, it's possible the rear derailleur is a little out of whack, it sounds louder than I remember. Some other things needed small adjustment, not serious. The bike rides fine. My body felt fine, my mind was a little less "in the game" when I started. I noticed myself taking it easy over bumps and around corners, worrying a little more about cars driving past or coming up at an intersection. That faded after a while. Overall the ride went well, similar pace to other "easy" rides before the break. That's good.

Sunday AM - Went for another easy run, did the same route as Saturday except backwards. Both knees felt fine, overall pace 8:50 - more in line with my easy runs, not quite back to where I want to be, but I'll take it. I meant to try to get in an afternoon bike, but just ran out of daylight.

I'm going to give my elbow a few more days to heal before heading back to the pool, it's still secreting a small amount of stuff ever day, and bleeds easily if bumped. It looks like it's healing quite quickly though. I'm hoping to be back in the pool on Thursday as I'm expecting it will develop a normal scab here in a couple of days. We'll see, nobody wants Jeremy "bloody trail" in the water with them.

This month's resolution was to not eat out. My wife committed to helping meet this goal (and that was optional, but likely very helpful.) We/I did very well. I slipped up twice that I can remember. Once I went to happy our that happened to be over dinner. And today we scheduled a full day of activities and I figured, 28.67 days is pretty stinking good.

Next month is no pop, yikes I may have not been thinking clearly on this one. If I could write a poem about Mt. Dew or Monster I would. It's already reserved for occasionally. Oh well, I suppose if these were all easy that would defeat the purpose.

Monday, September 24, 2012

On The Mend

Another week down - things have improved markedly. Last week seems like an eternity ago, two weeks ago seems like the beginning of summer.

Saturday or Sunday was probably the hardest times mentally as I really badly want to be getting out there and getting ready to race a race. I've decided though that unless I'm going to further an injury I'll be in Rev3 at the end of October. So that helps.

The week highlights go something like this.

I did get a better chair at work, and got another chair to prop my leg up. Walking doesn't make the leg better, actually worse.

My leg is feeling better, I'm able to walk around without so much limp. Near the end of the day I notice though that perhaps I've been taking a little too many liberties with my leg. The lower half feels mostly asleep. I head out to happy hour with some out of town co-workers. It's a late night, the walk back to my car feels much longer than the walk in.

The bottom half of my leg feels perma asleep. If I put it up it feels like it's waking up, but never fully gets there. I skip the 2nd scheduled happy hour as I am not too sure this new development is great. At home my wife says my leg is swollen, she calls the nurse line. Their verdict: go into Urgent Care. Apparently you can't tell the triage lady your leg is feeling numb, that gets you into ER. Oops. The doctor comes in, says the leg wound looks good, so it's not infection causing a problem, but it might be a clot has formed. Get an ultrasound, they give me the all clear. Home without incident. The doctor does recommend taking the tagaderm off to let the wound breath. It has been on for 7 days and shows no sign of coming off on it's own. The packaging says max of 7 days.

Work goes as planned, leg falls asleep again, it doesn't seem to matter what I do. The only time it doesn't feel like that is when I'm laying down. I try to take some of the tagaderm off from places that look healed up. Super painful. I head out to the drug store in search of a safe adhesive remover, a few hours later and no luck I return to try the manual method again. Eventually my wife comes in and helps me, much to my surprise is hurts much less if she does it. She heads to sleep after being exposed to gross open wounds, I let them air out for a while and then re-apply tagaderm in two places. Everything else is basically done.

Skip renaissance festival to rest leg. Then I come down with the 24-hourish bug that's been going through our house. During the day I notice the wound on my elbow is draining a lot of fluid, it's leaking out from the tagaderm. Super nasty. Also it hurts to have your sensitive elbow stuck to the sheets due to dried body goo.

Spend most of the morning in bed again mainly due to flu-y symptoms, 2 weeks of gimpy dad is starting to show signs on wear on my wife. She is such a trooper, apparently she had been sick during the week and didn't say anything, plus two sicks kids during the week. I start to move around the house, I can walk without limping, there is mild discomfort on the outside of my bum knee. We elect to take the tagaderm off my elbow, it's leaking all the time, we put some gauss on it to handle the flow of goo.

Take gauss off elbow wound in the shower, finish shower without it. Reapply band-aid, it's still leaking plenty. Leg feels very good, I feel like I can walk without a limp. Work goes well, the leg doesn't really bother me till work is almost done.

A quick evaluation of self:

  • Leg - Hurts a little, at this rate I could see myself perhaps jogging mid-to-late next week. The noticeable wound has gone from clean with a bit of yellow in the middle (apparently normal) to what appears to be scabbing over slightly. If you're a runner it feels almost like IT-band pain.
  • Elbow - A large deep opening still there, maybe as large as a quarter and probably deep enough to hold two. It's hard to imagine that healed up in the next couple of days. It's also sensitive to touch. The leaking tagaderm really irritated my skin, so there's a small amount of what I would describe as rash from that mess.
  • Arm - Mostly healed up, the scabs are being held in place by arm hairs, so they just sort of flake off throughout the day. There is a noticeable scrape though that looks raised, likely a small scar (2 or 3 inches long.) It's a little sensitive to touch. My muscles are feeling much better, no more soreness or stiffness.
  • Forehead - The scab fell off this morning after the shower, you can see where the wound was, probably over time it will fade to nothing. It feels fine.
  • Thumb - Looking pretty good, sensitive to touch, but getting easier to use it. I change the band-aid daily. Who knows how long it will take for the nail to grow back.

Where the head hole used to be

Regular sized band-aid on my thumb. Also in view a small scab.

Extra large band-aid on my arm

Leg wound, under tagaderm. You can also see some mostly healed road-rash

Back of my arm, everything but the line in the middle will eventually just flake off. Maybe by tomorrow or the next day

The rest is gone. In some ways it feels like I've come a long way in two weeks. In some ways this two weeks seemed to drag on forever. In some ways five weeks seems right around the corner.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Injury Update

It's been a full week. At this point last week I was on the ride that would eventually lead me to the hospital. Here's how the week has unfolded.

Spent all day in bed taking pain medicine, not really moving around much. I figured I might head back to work on Wednesday, the pain was pretty tolerable. Took a shower later in the day (no soap, just in the water long enough to get the bandages off - this pain wasn't tolerable.) Redressed the wounds since they were a little weepy. My wife washed my hair in the kitchen sink. Still planning on heading to work.

Woke up after 12 hours of no medication, OUCH. Did not got in to work, slept most of the day again.

Went to work. Many people told me to take it easy, perhaps go back home. Made it through the day with two pills spaced carefully around driving the car. Came home and passed out on the couch.

Headed over and met the bike group after their ride. Mainly just to say I'm ok, but it was also good to see them and talk a little about what happened. The guy who was in front of me Monday confirmed he hit the breaks pretty hard and that there was a little contact between our bikes, he said something about someone in front of him, but I didn't quite follow the story.

Woke up and took the bandages off in the shower replaced them with Tagaderm, the weeping seems to be done. My wife passed out once, perhaps as many as three times helping with that. Again the shower to remove the bandages was not tolerable. Came home, went to sleep again.

Ended up sleeping 13 hours overnight, mostly not taking any pain medication anymore, maybe one a day. My arm and leg are still very sore and stiff. Got the stitches out, the doc says its looking fine. Get the stitches out didn't tickle, came home and took some medicine to stop the throbbing.

Slept in a little, a normal night of sleeping. Took first real shower with soap and shampoo. Tagaderm protected me. It felt great to be clean again. Most of the rash pain is gone, now it's muscle soreness. I can use my right arm again. In order of worst to least pain (knee, thumb, shoulder.)

I took the bike out of the garage and looked at it. It doesn't appear to have any significant damage. The rear derailer has a large scrape, and the aerobar on the same side has a scrape on it. I checked to see if my SILs helmut will fit me. I am currently planning on doing Rev 3 at the end of October even if a PR is not within reach.

Another shower, took the band-aid off my old stitches site, it looks pretty minor up there now. All day in training at work. My arm is starting to itch under the Tagederm, but at least it's not pain. My leg gets pretty stiff during marathon sitting sessions. By the end of the day my leg basically doesn't bend, I might have to get a better chair tomorrow, or spend some time standing to keep it loose. The shoulder is feeling much better, the thumb doesn't throb, the head wound band-aid is off, and now the leg is the primary source of discomfort.

I've told the story a bunch over the last week. People are generous with their concern, I appreciate it.

For some reason I had thought I might be in a little better shape by today, maybe able to jog or take the bike out for a light (around the block) ride. Not today, probably not in the next few days. Do not worry, I won't push it, I had just sort of figured things would be on a little faster path. All in all, I'm on the mend, things are slowly moving back to normal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The big bike accident

If I remember correctly, since I've owned my bike I've been in three accidents. Once I ran into a guy head on who jumped out of line as two lines of bikes were passing each other on a trail. Once I ran into a car who passed me and then turned in front of me, and then on Monday. Monday's was by far the worst.

The Setup
So I ride with the local bike group on Monday's and Thursday's, it's a good group to ride with. I like the people I ride with, and there's plenty of experience and talent to go around so I feel like the group is good at pushing me.

We headed out on a pretty normal ride, nothing too long. I imagine maybe we'd have gone 20 miles or so by the end. It was a route I was familiar with and a group I knew fairly well.

The Wreck
We were coming to the home stretch of the ride. Riding on a large shoulder of a pretty nice stretch of road. We were clipping along pretty well, we had a stiff breeze at our backs and the group was lined up basically single file, we were probably doing 25ish mph.

Then...the guy in front of me slowed down suddenly. I remember thinking, what the heck! I bumped his back wheel, slowed and moved a little to side to get off his wheel, then the guy behind me ran into me. I remember him saying something to the effect of "oh no" and ... that's all she wrote.

I'm pretty sure I didn't pass out. Though I am fuzzy about exactly what happened after that till my wife showed up. Here's what I can piece together.
  • I got up and walked out of the road into the grass, at this point i noticed a large amount of blood coming from my head
  • I remember wondering why my head hurt so much, I thought "what is the point in wearing a helmut if it's not going to protect my head" then I hoped I didn't have a huge crack in my skull.
  • Someone gave me a sock to hold on my head to stop the bleeding
  • Someone else tried a sock to my arm
  • I showed someone how to call my wife
  • I showed someone how to take my picture
On a trail after the crash. A guy said "you'll want a picture of this if you survive" I was very thankful to have been with the group at this point. They handled everything, and I do appreciate humor at times like this
  • I heard the group talking to the other guy who went down. Apparently his shoulder looked pretty messed up. He elected to ride back. I'll note that I'm pretty sure nobody figured I'd be riding back. I don't think anyone hesitated to call for a ride for me.
Also, a woman driving by stopped and offered help. I cannot stress enough how important and good I think it is that people stop when they see something wrong. This time we didn't need help, but the next time we might. I made a point to look straight at her and tell her thank you.

My wife showed up sometime later, they loaded the bike on the back of the van and I hobbled over and got in. At this point the guy who ran into the back of me came over, he looked pretty upset. I said something to the effect of "don't worry about it, this type of thing happens, and we're all going to be ok"

The Hospital
Not surprisingly when you show up looking like this
There's not a lot of waiting around. Also, I was having trouble not shaking. Here's the quick visual overview my wife got while waiting to get to the doctors
Damage to the jersey. Thats my right shoulder

Small scrapes on the heel of my right hand

Right arm

The major source of blood, that new hole in my head. Everything else on there washed off.
So they took me to the ER, a guy came in and put some numbing stuff on all my wounds, the doctor came in and said they'd give me a shot of morphine and then do some extra stuff around the thing on my head and my left thumb
It's hard to see here, but basically what happened is  that entire bloody part is where my thumb got ground down to nothing during the fall. This is by far the most painful injury I got.
The morphine was to help with the pain. The pain is hard to describe, it's basically like a constant burning/buzzing sensation and the pain would ripple through from the left to right in waves. It was to help that, but also to help numb me for the cleaning.

The Cleaning
An EMT came in soon after the morphine shot, she said something like "it's going to hurt no matter what, so I'm just going to get started." She was sort of no nonsense but also had a good sense of humor, so while I LISTENED to her scrub my wounds we had a little bit of laughs. Before she went to clean my thumb the doctor came back in and numbed it with more local pain killer and my forehead in preparation for stitches.

Right leg, just below my knee

Right arm just below my shoulder

Right elbow

Right side - there's quite a bit on the back too

After the extra blood was cleaned up, apparently this started bleeding again. By this point I can feel hardly anything
During the various cleaning stages people would ask me if we were riding in gravel. They'd say something like "I can't tell if this is dried blood or rocks" and my wife would say "I think those are rocks" and they were.

The Treatment
My right leg, elbow, arm and thumb just got bandaged. Anything that wasn't "open" didn't get anything. The hole in my head got 11 stitches. At some point my wife asked if we'd be getting prescribed pain killers when we left, the guy literally laughed and said "you'll get getting the good stuff."

By the point the doctor got to the stitches, I was pretty far gone. I probably would have fallen asleep if he wasn't using my face as a storage location for tools.

The Aftermath
So it's been two days, the pain killers are very effective. The first day I basically just zombied around, slept a ton. Toward the end of the day I figured I could stop taking the pain medication, the lesson there is if you think your painkillers aren't working, stop taking them. Yikes, I was in a world of hurt this morning. We've changed from the original dressings, we got some tagaderm using advice from my wife's uncles.

The good news is that apparently the road rash will heal quickly, and while I'll still have some muscle soreness for a while I'm very thankful that the worst thing to happen was some stitches.

I heard from the other guy who went down, he's got some sort of separation with his clavicle, but he's going to be alright too.

The stitches come out Saturday

Bandaged elbow and arm

Thumb wrapped

Leg wrapped
When I think back to what caused this accident I'm pretty sure there was an abrupt speed change ahead of me. When I think about my style of riding, I don't really like to follow too close, because people sort of weave and there's a natural pace change when you hit hills or grab for water or whatever. I don't feel like I was distracted or trying to push harder than the group was going. I did survive the bump with the guy in front of me, the guy behind me says he had been distracted a little, but honestly had we just been able to hold pace I think everything would have been fine. I've ridden with that guy a lot and I trust his riding style.

So my takeaway will be to try to be a little more vigilant about holding my line and pace. I did pop out of line a little bit when I hit the guy in front of me to avoid going down, who knows if that caused the second part of the crash.

The group of guys I was riding with handled every single thing for me. All I did was get myself out of the road, they fixed my bike, called my wife, found my stuff, fixed my sunglasses, came to my house and closed the garage door, stopped by the next day, sent emails, called. All in all, it was great. It's a great group to ride with, and to my knowledge this is the only crash they've had in the three years I've been riding with them. I will go back out with them (assuming it's not my riding that sucks and the don't want me back.)

Also to my wife who has let me be basically a sleeping zombie the last two days. It's not easy taking care of three little kids on your own and a gimpy husband. She sat for five hours in the hospital with me, she went and got me medicine, new bandages, changed my bandages, even washed my hair. I'm super lucky. She's fantastic!

Friday, August 31, 2012

August Training Notes

This month my totals look like this

Swim19,200 yards5:45 hours
Bike276 miles14:30 hours
Run34 miles5 hours

I hit a little bit of a motivation lull this month. So I ended up taking just about a full week off, from the 12th-18th I just did two bike rides. This month I also did two races, and both of them went well.

For reference here are the last couple of months:

Swim29,250 yards8:30 hours
Bike353 miles19:15 hours
Run60 miles9:30 hours
Paddling10 miles4:20 hours


Swim26,200 yards7:35 hours
Bike363 miles20:00 hours
Run66 miles10:45 hours

So you can see the fairly drastic decline overall. But I feel like the rest really felt great, and I think had both a positive physical and mental impact.

So the swimming is way down, for racing it's been ok, but when I go to the swimming club I get wrecked. It's clear that I have been slacking.

Most of my biking is coming from the bike group, and it's a lot of fun. At the end of the summer the group gets pretty fast, and in general it's just fun to ride with them.

I did only one run longer than four miles this month, and when I did that run my knees hurt for like two days. So, lets just say, I need to be running more.

The month's resolution was to read two books, and I did that. And I wrote book reports, but I have to say it took a lot of mental strength. I just don't like carving out time to sit down and read a book, even the books I read that are mostly pictures (not an exaggeration.)

Next month is no eating out, oh boy, that's going to be a tough one.

Book Report : Doing Ironman Wisconson

The per-month goal this month was to read two books. I chose two books I got for Christmas last year, and they both revolve around Ironman, either training or racing.

The author of this book has raced about thirty triathlons, five of which were at Wisconsin. He's a speedy guy and has qualified for Kona a few times at IMOO.

Overall the book is fine. It has a sort of dairy feel to it, and it could be that he admits that early on. The result of that is that chapters start off with a sort of goal setting or motivational piece, and then the middle and end is a story telling piece. The author's writing style is pretty decent and I found that I could page through chapters pretty easily.

Two sort of nit-picky things about this book. First is that it feels like it was not edited, there are typos, and misspellings. All photos are in black and white, and while I don't really care I get the impression that was because he only had a black and white scanner :) Second, there is a chapter in the middle, which is a just an excerpt from another book. It felt pretty lame.

The first few chapters are stories of the first few times he did IMOO. The formula goes like this:
  • I just did some other Ironman last month, and I'm doing Kona next month, I either need to take it easy and not ruin Kona or push hard to qualify next year for Kona. I'll push it.
  • The swim is the same as any Ironman swim, I like to line up on the side.
  • The transition area at this Ironman is unlike any other, I'll comment on it, but tell you not to think about it
  • The bike course is grueling, I know that because I've done it, but you won't know it until you do it. Don't underestimate it.
  • The run is a run, I'll spend almost no time talking about it except that I like running through the campus a little.
Then there are a couple of chapters about when he went but did not compete. It's basically the same story, he goes to the places on the bike course he knows are hard, then watches as people cruise by. He heads to end of the race and watches people cross the finish line and is inspired by that. I'll echo that, it's neat to stand behind the finish line and watch people right after the finish.

There is a chapter that consists solely of charts and graphs. Except for the first page or two where he describes the page layout and tells you that if you want the rest of the charts to buy another book there is no writing. I flipped through this part pretty fast, every page represents one mile on the bike course, I didn't think it was clear why these miles were chosen, but I assume they are around the hills he always refers to.

Toward the end he talks about prepping for any ironman race as far as packing and supplies and stuff like that. He also touches on race nutrition, but these are generic chapters not specific to any race I think.

Should you read this? It's worth reading if you're going to do the race. It reads well, and despite the overall low production value feel of the book has a good amount of content.

He is clearly a gifted athlete and it's written from his perspective, so I sort of got into the mode of glazing over some of the stuff. For instance when he "took the ride easy" and still achieved an average speed I'd be thrilled with, you can maybe take what he says with a small amount of "but you're awesome." He does share some "human" stories though where he demonstrates that even the guys at the top can have off days or off hours during a race.

Book Report : Training for an Ironman

The per-month goal this month was to read two books. I chose two books I got for Christmas last year, and they both revolve around Ironman, either training or racing.

This book was co-authored by four guys who appear to have a good set of credentials to be able to write a book like this.

I liked this book, it is almost entirely about training for an Ironman, it's a 26 week program that they say is geared toward making you faster, but then they describe ways you can tailor it to your own needs.

The first few chapters talk about the principles of their training ideas. They talk about the key ideas they think are critical to success at ironman. This covers everything from the value of weight training, to the value of making sure you have good form.

The middle section, the majority of the book, is a week by week detailed account of the training they recommend broken down by phases. At the start of each phase they give you general guidelines to follow (like, 'up until now the schedule has been pretty flexible, but you should stop skipping workouts now if you have been') as well as a brief description of the weeks including when rest is coming. At the end of each phase they do a little Q&A portion which covers everything from what to do if you're feeling like you need more work in a specific area to how you should pick a new bike (just get one you like.)

Then there is a chapter that is a much more condensed version of the previous chapters.

The end chapter goes over getting ready for race week.

Should you read this? I have not executed this training plan, so I have no idea how effective it is. If you choose to do all the workouts it can get pretty busy, there are a couple of weeks that have more than 20 hours of training (mostly on the weekend.) But they do offer a barebones plan where you only do key workouts, and that is a much reduced plan. They say that will get you to the finish.

The tone of the book is playful, there were even a few times I thought it was witty. The read is pretty quick because basically it's a training plan and when it comes right down to it there just isn't that much text in it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Race Review : Maple Grove Sprint Triathlon

Maple Grove "Dare to Tri"- I did the Olympic distance last year, the race went well, but I said I wouldn't do the race again unless the stars aligned. And they pretty much did, plus I have had a pretty good racing year this year, so I wanted to squeeze in one more sprint before it gets cold.

The Training 
We're quickly approaching the end of the tri season in the north. I've been in full swing since January, and my brain is having trouble staying focused. So I basically just took the last two weeks off. Two weeks ago I just did two bike rides, last week I got in some swims, some rides, and one run. But things are going well, and I think my body responded to the rest well.

Packet Pickup
Last year I lamented the packet pickup process. You have to park at least a quarter mile away and then hoof it over there. This year was no different, except I didn't have my kids or wife with me, and I didn't feel the need to scout the race site since it was largely unchanged from last year. The process itself was pretty painless, the people manning the tent were very friendly. Overall, I'd say it wasn't different than last year.
The little expo, I didn't stop at any of the shops. Perhaps I should have but I needed to be getting home

No wind, I was hopeful for a non-windy race day

Not really related to the pickup process, but later that night when I finally took a close look at my packet. Much to my surprise, my running bib said "Olympic" on it... The one thing I'm sure about my training is that my lack of running lately has left my legs not really used to runs of any distance much past four miles. I was not up for just doing an Olympic distance for the fun of it. I shot an email (probably after 10:30) to the first email address I found. I fully expected to not hear anything and just try to resolve it in the morning. Much to my surprise I got a response around 15 till midnight. Apparently they just ran out of sprint bibs, and I could pick up a generic bib if I wanted in the morning, or I could race the sprint with my Olympic bib and that would be fine, she did warn me that volunteers might be confusing though when trying to direct me... foreshadowing. So I'll give props, that was pretty surprising, and helped put my mind at ease.

Race Morning
The race started at 7:30, transition closed at 7:00, we live about 45 minutes away so I was planning on getting up just after 4 so I could be there a little before 6.

Sidebar - I've gotten a new phone recently. Samsung Galaxy SIII - long story short, I do not recommend this phone.

So I use my phone to wake me up, and it did, and I hit snooze, as I often do, and then in my sleepy haze I turned it off. But I knew that, so I set a count-down timer for 10 minutes and went back to sleep. I jolted awake at about five after five (a cool 45 minutes later.) Apparently the phone's alarm will wake you with an audible tone if it's on mute (which mine always is) but not the countdown timer, no it will just buzz quietly at you forever. Needless to say I was in a slight panic. I woofed down my breakfast, jumped in the car and headed out.

I got to the race site just after six, got one of the last "close" parking spots, unloaded my stuff and headed over there. At this point I was settled down, I was only a few minutes off my original schedule.

Ahh, no wind. Going to be a great race
A truck, parked right in the middle of transition. In real life it wasn't blurry. The picture is blurry because I was overwhelmed by how silly it seemed to have a truck on display in an active transition area and was giggling.
After I got all setup it was about time for the pre-race meeting. I sat through that and a pretty good rendition of the national anthem. So now it's about 7:24, and I'm in wave FOURTEEN! Based on the advertised schedule that means I will be sitting around for another hour. So I settle in for a little wait, it was a cool morning so just sitting in the grass watching and listening made the the time go by. Eventually my friend Tony came by and we chatted a bit. That was nice, he wasn't racing, just lives nearby. I think it actually calmed my nerves a bit, so thanks Tony!

The Swim
The water temp was 78, so wetsuits allowed. I contemplated not wearing one for two reasons. First, because I didn't really want to fuss with it in transition. Second, because they requested that we wear the ankle chips on the outside of the wetsuit, and that reinforced me not wanting to mess with it in transition.

Side bar - If you're thinking about putting a race together, and the people you choose to do timing say "oh by the way our chips might not work if people wear wetsuits over them" you might want to push a little harder on some different chips.

Anyway, I elected to go for the wetsuit. I didn't really want to feel like I was at a disadvantage time and energy wise, and it was in my bag anyway :)

So I lined up in the middle in the front, we took off...and I'm pretty sure I never saw anyone in my group after that. I ran right out, did some dolphin dives and just took off. I settled down after about 50 yards into a fairly strong pace.

Around the first buoy I started catching the wave in front, by the second buoy I caught the bulk of that group and came out the water with the leaders of that group and some stragglers from the groups before them. The swim felt great, and this will sound strange but, even the water tasted good. I came out of the water feeling pretty good.

The run to transition is pretty long, maybe a couple hundred yards, but I felt pretty good during it.

Side bar - the transition area is setup by wave. I really like it, I like being able to gauge where I am in relation to other people I am competing with for awards.

So I get to my rack and confirm that I came out of the water first, I struggle with my wetsuit for what seems like forever and then get on my way. I actually probably didn't have to mess with my wetsuit for as long as I did, but I tried to not use my hands, and then the suit, not surprisingly, got stuck on the chip and I waited a bit before I reached down and just used my fingers.

On the way out I did a first, I ran with my bike holding it by the seat. That was a ton of fun! I even successfully navigated not one but TWO people coming in from the swim. I'll also note that by this time the SUV had been moved.

The Bike

The bike starts with a short but decent climb. I just sort of shot up it, passed a few people and then turned on to the road and settled in and got into a pace I felt good at. About three seconds later a girl in front of me dropped her water bottle. Here were my three thoughts, in order.

  • That sucks for her, she's going to get thirsty
  • I hope she doesn't get the littering penalty, because that would suck more
  • We're two minutes into the bike, you probably could have waited a few minutes

She apologized, and I told her to not worry about it and just keep going. I shouted "have fun" as I rolled off. Hopefully she did.

BTW - remember the shot of the lake at the top where there aren't any ripples from the wind. Well that's apparently because the lake is protected. At least in one direction it's sheltered by a large hill with trees on top. On the bike course that day, wind. Not a ton, but considering I wasn't expecting it, a little surprising.

One of the cool things about the way this race lined up this year was that the last wave of Olympic distance athletes was a group of college kids trying to qualify for some sort of national team. And I ended up near a bunch of them on the bike. They were super competitive and really didn't like people passing them. So me and about four of them (girls and boys) spent the better part of five or six miles passing each other. I'd pass one, they'd pass me back, I'd pass them again, they'd pass me and say something like "I'm here again." Every time they'd repass me the language would escalate "not this time", "I could do this all day", "see you later!" It was a ton of fun, and then we hit a hill and I dropped all of them, and then, of course, they went on to ride ten more miles than me and run twice as far, but who's counting :)

Over the course of the bike I got passed (permanently) twice and I did a bunch of passing. It was a good feeling. I got to transition, pulled my shoes off as I rode down the hill toward the dismount line and hopped off and headed straight to my rack. A quick survey and it looked like I was still in the front. I didn't spend a ton of time evaluating the 60 or spots, but it did look pretty empty.

The Run
I tried to make good pace out of transition, I passed a few people right out of the gate and then ... cramp. My calf was cramping like never before. I sort of hobbled up the first little hill and finally stopped and reached down to touch it. I just wanted to feel it, it didn't feel super tight or anything, and the break made it feel better. So I started up again, the two people I had passed repassed me as I got going again. After fifty feet or so I decided that maybe the hobbling wasn't actually helping, I tried to take a few "normal" strides and sure enough the cramp started to work itself out. All in all the whole cramp thing took less than a quarter mile.

The run is a little hillier than I remembered, but it was a cool overcast morning so I wasn't baking in the sun or feeling super thirsty which made it all the easier. I hit the first mile at 8 minutes, which considering I at one point was literally stopped I was pretty happy with.

During the second mile a lady passed me, but she kept looking back, at one point she yells to some woman "hey <insert name> get up here" then she dropped back to just behind me "the girl up there in the black sports bra, she's the last one, go get her" <indistinguishable> "I've already had one this year, go get her" Then the second lady ran by, and I never saw the first one again. I thought two things, first how on earth did she know who was left to beat in front of her. Second, man I would love to know if there was someone in front of me that I needed to pass. The second mile ticked off, roughly the same pace as the first. I had been passed several times so far, and was not really passing anyone.

The final mile has one or two hills near the end, but I was feeling good. Near the end the crowd from the park spills out onto the course, and it really starts to get fun. One sort of humorous moment (remember the bit at the top about my running bib, here's where it comes into play) is where a volunteer directing runners says "Olympic runners keep going, don't turn here" he picks up that clearly I am going to try to take the turn toward the finish "OLYMPIC RUNNERS, KEEP GOING" I start slowing for the roughly 172 degree turn "OLYMPIC Runners..." I couldn't help but laugh. I looked at my final split later, I did the last mile in just about seven minutes, so pretty awesome!

The Finish
After the, basically, 180 degree turn you head down a little hill that ends up down a finishers chute with people lining both sides. It's a lot of fun, most people are really pushing the pace, it's a great way to finish, they even did the thing they did at Trinona last year and reset the finish tape for people. That is a lot of fun, I really liked it. I even saw someone I knew on the side lines, that's always fun!

I staggered down the lane a little, some guy took my chip, I got a medal and some water and then just sort of wandered around for a while. Because I thought I had a chance at placing, and because I picked up my individual splits and saw I basically made my goal I wanted to wait to see what the overall placement was. More than an HOUR later they posted them for the first time. I had run into a guy who was also thinking he maybe had placed, he said it felt like they were keeping us hostage. I agree.

The Results

Goal Actual
Swim 7:45 6:48
Bike 39:00 40:06
Run 23:00 23:09
Total 1:13 1:13:31

The swim – Much faster than I expected, based on finishing times I'm going to say that the course isn't .3 miles, it's shorter. It's hard to tell comparatively how well I did, the results say 6th overall, but the woman who got first's time is 48 seconds, so I'm guessing that once again the timing is a little messed up for this race. The other times were pretty believable though, so there was a good mix of fast swimmers out there.

The bike - A minute over, but the garmin says the course is about a half mile longer than they do and I didn't start it till I got to the top of the hill so I am very happy with this. According to the garmin that's 21.5 mph. I was talking to a guy who placed way better than me after the race and he said he got new deep rimmed wheels this year. He says it's a free mph or maybe 1.5. Yikes, last year he was doing my speed, then bought new wheels and sometimes averages 23-24 this year... I was really hoping I'd never find a reason to spend a chunk of change on a set of race wheels. He also sounded a little sad that he didn't go for a disc wheel. Apparently at 24 mph is when the disc really shines, but he thought he wouldn't be there this year, but he is.

The run – Basically right on pace, the watch says the run is a little shorter than they advertise. So they say I did 7:45 average, the garmin says closer to 7:50. Considering I stopped and stood for 5 seconds at the start, I'm happy with it.

Overall I got 27th overall, and FIRST in my age group! Obviously I'm super happy by that. I placed well at Lifetime, but not quite podium, I thought I had a shot at Lakefront days but missed, and in this race I thought I had a similar shot, but didn't focus too much on it. What can I say, I loves me a good sprint.
First place schwag! It's a bowl.
Side shot to give some perspective. It's the size of an oversized soup bowl.

When I look at this race from the numbers, because I led the swim I led the entire race. Best swim in my bracket by 2:45, but then 7th on the bike and 20th on the run. Second place was 4 seconds back, third place was 7 seconds back. I guess it's a good thing I pulled 7 minutes from my hat for that last mile, that was the difference between first and fourth.

Closing Comments
I had a great time at this race. My family couldn't make it out there to see my race, but it's been a busy year of races. This is the eighth race for me this summer, and there is one more coming up. Obviously it is fun to win, and the best part of it is that this doesn't feel like a "everything went right and things just clicked into place" it's more a sign that the effort I put in is amounting to what I wanted it to, and so I have a sort of renewed drive.

I enjoy a big race, they had 1200 entries over both distances including 700 in the sprint. That means there is room for all sorts of people of every ability level. I met and chatted with more than one person where this was their first race. It's fun to talk to them and see their perspective, to see what they think is strange or confusing about triathlon, one guy even had a sort of inspirational story. I also had a chance to talk to some people who finished quite a bit faster than me. I know I'm talking to someone who's fast when they say they're a slow runner and still average minutes per mile faster than me. I'm not the fastest pig in the race, but I'm not exactly slow either. It's fun to see meet people with so much talent.

Next up is likely the Rev3 70.3 in Florida with big sister where she says her goal is 5:30. If you've been keeping up on my record, you know that is faster than me.

It's on big sister, it's on... Tell your coach to pull out all the stops, cause I'm coming for you! :)