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Archive for July, 2008

I guess it’s been a while since I posted. I have been busy camping, running, biking, and just enjoying the summer. That and I haven’t had much to say. Marathon training is in full swing, and going well. Nothing too exciting there. Last weekend was spent camping at Long Lake, which was a blast, but I didn’t have the energy or time to do a proper picture-filled post. Now it’s too late, so I’m letting it go.

Noteworthy is the package that I received in the mail today. Every time I go to the grocery store, I curse myself for not having reusable bags. I hate wasting all of that paper or plastic, yet I was all talk (to myself, in my head) when it came to taking action. My intentions were good, I just lacked the follow-through. Last week I finally bit the bullet and ordered these:

They are called Envirosax, and they are pretty, which was the key selling point for me. I ordered the Set of 5 Flora Pouch, which came with 5 bags in a neat little pouch that could fit anywhere really. Here’s what the bags actually look like:

They also seem much bigger in person than they do in this picture. I think they will hold about the same amount as 2 regular grocery store plastic bags, and they are sturdy and waterproof. Just for good measure, I also ordered these:

I figured if I was going to do this, I was going to go all out and also eliminate the plastic produce bags from my life. Through this website, I learned that our society consumes an estimated 1,000,000,000,000 (ONE TRILLION!) plastic bags annually. Imagine all of the space that takes up in landfills!

I can’t wait to go grocery shopping now to show off my pretty bags (It’s the little things that please me). I also plan to use them at other places like Target or the mall. I think I will try and keep a few in my glove compartment at all times, so I am always prepared. The nice thing is that even out of the pouch, each bag rolls up into a neat little package with a snap, so they would easily fit in a purse.

Now if I can just remember to actually bring them into the store…

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Race morning started with a 3:45 am alarm clock. I had slept fairly well, and I got up to make my coffee. My race bag was completely packed the night before, so all I had to do was eat and get dressed. My friend James picked me up at 4:45 am, and we were off. We made good time down to the race (the roads are slightly less than congested at that insane hour of the day). James found a rockstar parking spot on the street about 2 blocks from transition, and we headed over to get set up. I was glad that the bike drop-off was the day before, so all we had to worry about was our bags.

The weather was extremely foggy, but it wasn’t raining. After getting set up in transition, we walked down to the lake.

As you can see, you can’t see the lake.
As we got close to the water, we could start to make out the buoys. The second buoy that you can barely see is the turn buoy. Because of the fog, the race was delayed an hour, so the pros started at 8:00 am. That pushed my wave back to 8:18. Here I am before the race and ready to go:

The Swim

38:56

The official water temperature on race morning was 55 degrees. When I was a kid, my grandparents lived on a lake. Sometimes in April or May, the kids would all dare each other to jump into the frigid water. We would jump in, scream, and jump out again with our bodies numbed after just a few seconds. I would venture to guess that water was warmer than 55 degrees.

The swim was a straight point to point, so we walked about a mile down the beach to the start. I walked part of the way with my feet in the water, trying to get a little bit used to it. FYI – you never get used to it. Once at the start, I waded in up to my hips. My legs really weren’t that cold, my wetsuit was doing a good job. Unfortunately, it is sleeveless. In retrospect, I should have gone all the way in before the race and felt what it was like to put my face underwater.

I didn’t feel nervous at all until my wave was 3 minutes away. I was calm all morning, and just excited for the race. I positioned myself towards the back of my heat, thinking this was the best bet for a slower swimmer. The siren went off and we ran towards the water. It was shallow for quite a ways, and we ran out for a bit before starting to swim. The second my face hit the water, it literally took my breath away. I kept trying to keep my head in, but I could not exhale under the water. I was a little bit panicked, and I started side-stroking so I wouldn’t have to put my head in. This was using up my energy fast, and I knew there was no way I would make it if I couldn’t start getting into a rhythm with a normal stroke.

I forced myself to calm down and put my face in the water. After a minute or two, I got into a rhythm of breathing every stroke. I was making progress. That’s when the men’s wave that started three minutes behind us caught up. There was thrashing, clawing, ankle grabbing, and the like. I realized that I should have positioned myself more in the middle of my heat to avoid this. Lesson learned.

It should have been easy to sight this straight course, but somehow I kept on ending up with a group of swimmers way closer to shore than we should have been. My goggles kept fogging, and a few times I had to stand up to clear them. Towards the end, I actually had to swim way back out to go around the final bouy. So while some people were complaining that the swim was slightly less than 1.2 miles, I’m sure I got the distance in by going off course. I was so happy to get out of that water. There was quite a long run up the beach to transition, then it was time for the bike.

T1

4:34

I could not for the life of me get my wetsuit off. I had it down to my feet and heels, but my hands were so numb, I just couldn’t pull the damn thing off. Finally I got it, put on my socks, shoes, and helmet, and I was off. A slow transition, but I wasn’t worried about time at all.

The Bike

3:14:51 (17.2 mph average)

Basically the story of the bike was me getting passed. And passed. And passed.

I tried not to worry about it, and just settled into a comfortable pace. I didn’t want to push it too hard, because I wasn’t sure how I would feel for the run. The course was nice, pretty flat with some rolling hills. A few of the roads were terrible with bumps and potholes, and I saw several people with flat tires. Luckily, mine held out. I couldn’t believe how fast the bike went by. Every time I would glance at Garmin, I was amazed by how far I had already gone.

The aid stations were kind of fun. You had to slow down and grab bottles from the volunteers. I was worried about this prospect at first, given my lack of coordination, but everything worked out fine and I didn’t cause a crash.

The last few miles were a little rough, due to the fact that the tri shorts I had on sported virtually no padding. By the time I rolled into transition, I was so ready to get off that saddle.

The main thing I learned from the bike is that I really need to learn to use aerobars. I think I am going to set up a professional bike fitting, and see what I can do to make my current road bike more suited for triathlon. I wish I could buy a beautiful triathlon bike, but alas, there is no way our current funds situation would allow it. I will have to make do with what I have.

I also have to give a shout out to all of the Police officers on the course who were controlling traffic. They did a great job, and many of them were cheering for the racers!

T2

3:41

Not much to say here. Running shoes, hat, nutrition, and off.

The Run

2:11:15 (10:01 pace)

By the time I started on the run, my bladder was about to explode. I had to pee since the start of the race, and had fully planned on doing so in my wetsuit to keep warm, but something about the cold water must have put my body into some sort of shock and I couldn’t do it. I didn’t really see anywhere to stop on the bike, and I wasn’t about to pee all over the bike as some people do, so I held it. Thus, I was forced to wait a couple of minutes at the start of the run to use one of the most disgusting port-a-potties I have ever been in.

With that taken care of, I started out super slow. I wanted to see how my legs felt, and was expecting them so be incredibly sluggish. Usually when I run off of the bike, it takes me about a mile to get going. I was surprised then, to find that my legs felt great. The run is a double out and back, so it was easy to break it into four segments. I decided to take it slow for a few miles and then re-evaluate.

By this time it was getting hot and sunny, so I did my best to stay hydrated and kept dumping cold water over my head. The end of the first loop is such a tease, because when you get near the end, there are two signs on the path. One pointing you towards the next lap, and one towards the finish. I could hear people being announced as they finished, and I could see the finish line, but I was only half way done.

I still felt surprisingly good at the start of the second lap, so I decided to pick it up a bit. I still walked through all of the water stops to make sure a was consuming enough, but throughout the last 6 miles, I was picking people off left and right. At the last turnaround with a little over three miles to go, I really picked it up. I wish I had the exact split, because I think I probably ran the second half of the run about 15 minutes faster than the first. I heard my name announced right before I crossed the finish line, and I ended with a huge smile on my face.

Here’s a post-race pic:

Official Times:
Swim  38:56
T1  4:34
Bike  3:14:51
T2  3:41
Run  2:11:15
Overall I am completely happy with the race. I had an awesome time, and enjoyed every minute. I learned a lot about what it feels like to go that distance, and I know now what I can do to improve. Judging by how strong I felt at the finish, I know I had more to give. I think I took it a little too easy on the bike, because I didn’t know what I would feel like on the run. I also could have gone out harder on the first half of the run.
This experience was a great starting point for me. I know what I am capable of, and I know I can improve. I am pretty confident that with a little bit more focused training and effort, I could easily go under 6 hours. The week leading up to this race, I was excited for it to be over so I could focus on training for the Chicago Marathon, but now I am a little sad. I may have to find a shorter tri to enter later this summer just so I can keep with it. They say this sport is addicting, and I think I am hooked.

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I Made It!

My first ever half-ironman is officially in the books. The day was absolutely awesome, and I loved everything about it. Well, maybe except the fact that the official water temperature on race morning was not in fact 66 degrees, as I mentioned in my last post.

Ready for it?

It was a balmy 55 degrees. Now that’s chilly! Thank goodness for wetsuits.

The official results aren’t posted yet, but according to my watch, I think I finished somewhere around 6 hrs 13 min. I literally had so much fun, I noticed myself physically smiling during parts of the race (not the swim). I will do an official race report later, but for now I am happy to report that I had fun, finished strong, and I am not nearly as sore today as I thought I would be!

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Race Weekend

So this is it. On Sunday I will compete in my first ever half-ironman. I am pretty much scared shitless right now. I am also really excited and psyched to see what happens. I feel like I am under-trained for sure, and I don’t really know what to expect.

My main fear is drowning in Lake Michigan. I was doing so well with the swimming throughout the beginning of training, but when things got hectic with the wedding and the summer, the pool was the first thing to go. It also doesn’t help that the last two times I have gone to the Y to swim, the pool was closed. What really worries me most, though, is that I have done exactly zero open water swims. I am afraid that once I get into the 66 degree water with all of the other people and the waves, I will forget everything I know about swimming and just hang on for dear life. I know I need to just stay calm and find a rythm, so that is what I will focus on.

The bike I think I can handle. It won’t be fast, and I will probably be the only one there without aerobars (I don’t have the coordination and balance for that), but I know I can make it. I do have an irrational fear of getting lost out on the bike course, but I’m sure that is nearly impossible. My other fear has to do with the whole grabbing of the full water bottles while riding situation (see above about the coordination). I feel like I got in a good number of long rides, and I can go the distance.

The run is sort of a crapshoot. I did do one 56 mile bike to 5 mile run workout, and it went ok. I felt like I could keep up a slow running pace for quite a while. I also did one 13 mile run and felt pretty good. If I can manage to take in enough calories on the bike and not get sick, I think I will be ok. It may not be pretty, but I am confident I will cross the finish line, and hopeful that I will learn a lot about myself. I have no expectations when it come to finish times. I have an approximate time in my head that will be doable if everything goes well, but I will not be disappointed if I don’t make that time. It is really just an estimate, not a goal. My goal is to finish and have fun.

I tend to be scared of the unknown, hesitant to try new things because I don’t know if I will be able to do it. In these situations I’ve found that I just need to get over myself and go for it. I am not the only one who will be doing this for the first time, and everybody has to start somewhere. I keep telling myself that I don’t know what I can accomplish until I do it, and I oftentimes end up surprising myself. I will return early next week with a race report and hopefully a finishers medal.

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Dinner

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LC

As of today, I am officially no longer LW. I spent the entire morning at the SS office, the DMV (awesome!) and the bank. From this day forward, I guess I will be known as LC.

The SS office was painless. There was only one person ahead of me, so I only had to wait about 5 minutes. I handed over my documents, got my receipt, and was on my merry way.

The way became less merry right about the time I walked into the DMV (aka hell on earth). Over the past few years, I have spent entirely too much time in these establishments. Two summers ago I got my motorcycle license (that required two trips). Then at the end of 2007 my license expired, so I had to go again. It is worth noting that during that trip, the fire alarm in the DMV went off no less than three times, once after I had actually made it up to the window and was in the middle of my transaction. Each time all patrons were herded outside into the parking lot while we waited for the fire trucks. THREE times.

I digress. Upon entering today, I promptly checked the scrolling sign, which notified me that the waiting time was 21 minutes. Not bad. I filled out my papers and sat down. I looked at the board and was elated when I saw my section was on number 230. I was 234. I waited. They called number 231 fairly quickly. Sweet! I waited some more. 25 minutes go by before they called 232. I was getting pissed. 21 minutes my ass, douchbags! A child was screaming at the top of his lungs non-stop. A woman from the DMV went over to the mother and let her skip everyone and go next, for the sanity of the other 950 people in the room. 50 minutes after I walked through the door my number was finally called. I took care of business, got my photo taken (why does my face always end up looking like an oil slick in these photos?) and got the hell out of there and into my eleventy billion degree car that was baking in the 90 degree sun. Ahhh, air conditioning.

I headed to the bank, which was quick, and with that, I was LC. For the past three weeks, people have been asking me if it feels any different to be married. I always reply no, it doesn’t at all. We’ve been all happy and giddy, but we have already been living together for the past few years, so what would be different? The name thing though, I have to say it’s a little weird. I had a pretty cool last name, in fact all of my past nicknames have been based on it. Lot’s of people actually call me LW. LC doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it. Not yet anyway. And let’s talk about my new signature. It sucks, to put it mildly. I always mess it up at the end, and it looks like perhaps a third grader wrote it while practicing cursive in their penmanship workbook. I will get used to it, I know, but for now I am entertaining the idea of getting a cool tattoo that somehow incorporates a “W”, just so it can always be a part of me. Lame? Maybe, but I like the thought.

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I believe I have mentioned before my extreme dislike of swimming. Laps that is. In an indoor pool.

I am very much a fan of “swimming” that involves a beach or lovely outdoor pool complete with lounge chairs and a daiquiri. Swimming for fitness? Not so much.

On the days when I have a swim on the agenda, I usually wake up around 6:00 am or so and the arguement begins in my head.

I need to swim today.

Screw the pool, go back to sleep.

Ok, maybe just for 30 more minutes. I really need to swim today.

6:30 rolls around.

Nooooooo!! I don’t want to get up.

Get your lazy ass out of bed and go to the pool.

Screw you.

Must swim. I don’t want to die in open water during the triathlon.

Fine. I hate swimming.

And so it goes. I would say I actually get up and go to the pool about 50% of the time that I’m supposed to. That’s not very good odds, and it makes me fear for my life next weekend, where I will be battling it out with a bunch of crazy people in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.

So this morning I was rather proud of myself for winning the argument against, well, myself. I headed to the pool telling myself that it wouldn’t be too bad, it’s only a 45 min workout.

Imagine my dismay upon arriving at the local YMCA where I was greeted by this sign:

The pool and whirlpool are closed until further notice due to high chlorine levels. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Part of me was glad (no swimming, woohoo!!), but mostly I was just pissed. I woke up at the butt crack of dawn (for me anyways), dragged myself all the way there, and had to turn around and drag myself home again. Do they know when the pool may be open again? Of course not, I should just call back later to check.

I am going for a run instead.

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