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Archive for July, 2009

I’m out

After my five hour bike ride this morning, we are headed to the wilderness for some camping fun. Ok, not really wilderness, but there will be tents. And campfires, and s’mores. If you need me this weekend, I can be found somewhere on the chain-o-lakes, on the boat, sunning myself (hopefully). The weather forecast is a little iffy, but I believe the sun will prevail. Have a great weekend!

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Penalized

Well, now my Spirit of Racine finishing time makes more sense. I re-checked the results today, and low and behold, I had a big fat 4 minute penalty next to my name. I wish it said what exactly it was for, but I am quite certain it must have been a drafting or blocking violation on the bike. (Or something like that). Though I didn’t intentionally break the rules, I can’t argue with the race officials and what they saw. So here are my official times:

Swim: 31:10

T1: 3:04

Bike: 3:01:49

T2: 2:02

Run: 1:56:23

Penalty: 4:00

Total: 5:38:26

Darn it. It would have been cool to officially break 5:35, but oh well. I guess I’ll have to be more careful next time.

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Last year in the days leading up to this race, I was pretty much terrified. It was to be my first half-ironman, and only my second triathlon ever. I ended up having so much fun at this event last year, and I was hoping I would feel the same this year, even though the “newness” factor would be missing.

The night before the race, I packed up all of my gear and took a relaxing bath in our whirlpool tub. I read a book for a little while, and then I fell asleep quickly around 9:45. I slept terribly, and woke up before my 3:45am alarm. I got up in the dark and made coffee, ate breakfast, and got ready. My ride came at 4:45 and we were off. We decided to stop at a gas station when we got off the freeway to avoid waiting in line for a port-o-potty at the race. Good decision. We made our way to the race site and found a parking spot, and then it was off to transition.

I got all of my gear set up and chatted with a few people around me. Here is all of my stuff set up:

IMG_2044

During this time, the race director announced that the water temperature was 64 degrees. This was great news, as last year it was only 55, which was ridiculous. Looking at the swim buoys, I noticed that they were definitely closer to shore than last year. The swim is a point-to-point, so we walked a mile down the beach to the start line. I made a point to get in the water before the race and get used to it. It was cold, but not too bad. I stuck my face in and practiced swimming for a few strokes, and I felt ready.

The Swim

31:10

This race has a wave start, so while the elites went off right at 7am, I had to wait until 7:12 to start. I lined up towards the back and slightly to the outside, and when the siren went off, I started my watch and ran into the water. The whole swim is really shallow, so we ran out quite a ways before anyone actually started swimming. Last year, the water was so cold that it literally took my breath away, and I couldn’t keep my face in the water. This year, though the water was much warmer, I still panicked and just could not stick my face in and start swimming. I had the same dreaded feeling of “oh my god I can’t do this.” Again, after a few minutes of flailing around and inhaling/swallowing mouth-fulls of water, I was able to calm down and start swimming.

After a short time, I saw a few people just in front of me walking. Then my hands started dragging on the bottom. I stood up and walked a little ways because it is a bit difficult to swim in such shallow water. Soon it was deep enough to swim again, and I got into a pretty good rhythm. Each time I would pass a buoy, the next one would look really far away, but before I knew it, I was there. I managed to stay on course, and the swim went by really fast. As I was running out of the water, I glanced at my watch and it said 28 min. That’s when I knew that the course was way short. I know I am a better swimmer than I was last year, but I am nowhere near that fast. Like I said, the buoys were much closer to shore this year, yet the start and finish were in the exact same spot.

I ran through the sand up the beach to the transition area, and prepared myself mentally for the bike.

T1

3:04

I got my wetsuit off, tried to get most of the sand off of my feet, put on my socks, bike shoes and helmet, and I was off.

The Bike

3:01:49 – 18.5 mph average

I really wanted to improve on the bike this year. Last year the story of my life was getting passed, and passed, and passed. Well, this year, the story of my life was pretty much getting passed, and passed, and passed. I am just not a super-fast biker compared to most triathletes. My goal was to come in around 3 hours, and I felt really strong in the beginning. I also wanted to really nail my nutrition and take in enough calories. My plan was to eat 2 Clif Blocks every 30 minutes, and also take in sports drink and water.

The weather was pretty chilly, so I knew it was going to be a struggle to stay hydrated. I just never feel like drinking a lot when I am cold. Thirty minutes in, I grabbed my first pack of Clif Blocks. I opened the pack with my teeth, and promptly dropped the whole thing on the ground. Doh! There goes half of the nutrition I had with me. I tried not to worry about it too much, and was able to grab a gel pack at the first aid station.

The thing that probably surprised me the most was the amount of time I spent in the aero-bars. In training, I don’t use them too much because I am always afraid of the traffic and the bumpy roads throwing me off balance. During the race, I spent probably 95% of the bike comfortably in aero. This definitely helped me improve my speed over last year. The course has a lot of rolling hills, and they were starting to take a bit of a toll towards the end. My training rides have been pretty much completely flat, so my legs aren’t used to the rollers. I was glad when the bike was over and it was time to run.

T2

2:02

I racked my bike and quickly changed shoes. As I was grabbing my nutrition, I could hear the announcer at the finish line. “We should have our winner crossing the line at any minute!!”  The elite athletes just blow my mind.

The Run

2:00:23 – 9:12 average pace

As I exited transition, I glanced at my watch, and it read 3:38. I was really happy because I knew at this point that I would come in under 6 hours, which was my goal. I started out slow, knowing that there are two short steep hills right at the beginning. The run is a double out and back, so it is easy to break it into 4 sections. I took the first section really easy, and was feeling good. At the end of section 2, you come within about 100 ft of the finish line, but have to turn left for lap 2. At the start of the second half, I glanced at my watch. It read 4:37. Holy crap, could I break 5:35?? I picked up and decided to see what would happen. At the  last turn around, I was still feeling good, so I picked it up a little more. I was passing a lot of people, and felt strong. As the finish line approached, I glanced at my watch again and knew it would be close. I ran as fast as I could and had a great finish. I stopped my watch and it read 5:34:32. Woohoo!

IMG_2045

I was estatic. I couldn’t believe how much I improved in one year. I was also really happy that I ran in under 2 hours. Or so I thought. 

When I checked the official results online, my finish time was 5:38:26, and my run was listed as just over 2 hours. I know for a fact that my run was faster, so the only thing I can think of is that I somehow got a penalty on the bike that added a few minutes. I can’t imagine that I actually had a drafting violation, but the times just don’t add up. In any case, I am still thrilled with my time, which was approximately 35 minutes faster than last year.

I was able to accomplish this with no taper at all, in fact I had a really heavy training week leading up to the race. I did take off the day before to give my legs a rest, and they felt really good all day. One thing that was weird was my lungs got really sore. I think it’s probably because I inhaled so much water in the swim, and I wasn’t able to take a really deep breath during the bike or the run. They were still sore this morning, and even now over 24 hours later, I still have to tightness when I breath deeply. Like I said, weird.

So here’s a look at the numbers:

                                2009                    2008

Swim                      31:10                     38:56  

T1                             3:04                       4:34

Bike                      3:01:49                 3:14:51

T2                             2:02                        3:41   

Run                       2:00:23                 2:11:15

Finish                    5:38:26                 6:13:18

Overall a great race and I know I have a lot of room to improve, especially on the bike. Ironman, here I come.

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Holy PR Batman!

Spirit of Racine official results aren’t posted yet, but according to my watch, I PR’d by somewhere in the vicinity of 35 minutes. I obviously had an awesome race, so check back tomorrow or Tuesday for a full report. Now it’s time to celebrate with some good wine and food!

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Race weekend

Tomorrow is the Spirit of Racine Half-Ironman. It is my only race before Ironman in September, and it will be a good gauge as to where I’m at fitness-wise. I went over my race report from last year, and now I am excited for the race. My goal this year is to break 6 hours, and I think it is doable. More importantly though, I want to practice my nutrition plan on the bike and come off with plenty of energy for the run.

Bike check in and packet pick up is today, and my wave goes off at 7:12 tomorrow morning. I’ll be back with a race report hopefully on Monday. Until then…

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Downshifting

For the past few weeks, I have found myself starting to really dislike biking. Like almost to the point of hating it. I hate the terrible Milwaukee roads, I hate moronic drivers, I hate following a workout that tells me to spend 40 min spinning over 90 rpm. You get the picture. I felt any enjoyment that I have ever gotten out of biking just draining out of me. It was very disheartening, given the amount of time I need to spend in the saddle in preparation for Ironman. I found myself dreading the workouts, and just counting the minutes until I was off the road and back home. The 60 minute ride I had last week was no exception. I was on the backside of my out-and-back, just eager to be done. Then I stopped and thought about it for a second. It was a beautiful day and I was outside with the wind in my face getting exercise. I realized that I was actually in fact, sort of enjoying the ride. That’s when it hit me. I had to remind myself that I was enjoying myself. What is wrong with this picture?

I am not a fast biker, and I have never felt totally comfortable and completely in balance on a bike, especially since I have started riding with aero-bars. I will never average 20 mph on a long ride, biking is  just not my greatest strength. I have been pushing and pushing on the bike, and yes I have gotten stronger, but my progress is slow. It’s frustrating to be out there pedalling away for over 3 hours, bored to death and feeling like it will never end.

This past weekend I had a 2:15 run on Saturday, in which I managed to cram 16 miles. My legs were tired and sore on Sunday morning, and the thought of riding for 4 hours was less than appealing. I started out spinning easy to try and loosen my legs up a bit. I told myself it was ok to take it slow for a bit, to just downshift and take it easy. It wasn’t a race, and I didn’t have to push if I didn’t feel it. A funny thing happened about an hour into the ride. I realized I was loving it. Once I got far enough north of the city, it was peaceful. I peeled my eyes off of the road in front of me for once and took in the scenery. I could see rolling farmland and Lake Michigan in the distance. I actually got a little overcome with emotion, a lot of which was relief. I was enjoying the ride, something that hasn’t really happened since I started training for this thing.

It took me 10 min longer than usual to hit Port Washington, and I allowed myself not to care. I hopped on the Ozaukee County bike trail and just kept going. I felt like I was flying down the trail, and instead of counting down the minutes until I could turn around, I ended up going farther than I had to just because. It’s amazing what happens when you stop and smell the roses, to be a bit cliche about it.

On the way back, I started to reflect on my Ironman journey thus far. I asked myself why I wanted to do it in the first place, and the answer was not only that I wanted to push myself to the limit, but also because I enjoy it. I had gotten to the point with biking where I was no longer enjoying it, and that goes against why I am doing it in the first place. I took a step back decided that I want this journey to be fun. If that means averaging 16.5 mph on the bike and enjoying the scenery, then so be it. It’s not like I’m out to win the thing. Of course there will be times when I have to force myself to get the training in, and I won’t love every workout, but that is just the nature of endurance sports. It’s a fine line to balance between being dedicated and becoming obsessed. This journey is as much mental as it is physical, and it’s a huge learning process. This breakthrough on the bike put me into a great place mentally, and I am excited to see what lies ahead in the next 8 weeks.

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We came, we stormed

One of my favorite local runs every year is the Storm the Bastille 5k, kicking off the 4-day Bastille Days festival downtown. The run starts at 9pm, which always makes for beautiful conditions. Last night I went and met up with a bunch of runners, including my brother who was running in his first ever 5k. Before the run he said he was going to try and keep up with me, and I was skeptical. He barely ever runs, but by the time the race started he was so pumped that he was talking about training for a marathon. Woah Mike, one step at a time.

The start was very crowded as usual, so it took us a while to get any speed going. I hopped onto the sidewalk to start passing people, and assumed I had left everyone else behind. A minute or two later, I heard “hey sis,” over my shoulder. Mike was still with me. We picked up the pace and ran together. About half way through he was breathing pretty hard. I asked if he was ok, and he just said “gotta do it.” We slowed slightly and pressed on. I decided at this point that I would not take off on him, I wanted us to finish together. The last mile is a gradual uphill, and he was definitely struggling, but he dug deep and held on all the way to the finish. We ended up crossing the line in 22:56, for a 7:24 average pace! I was so impressed and proud of my little bro. Here he is shortly after the big finish, clearly on a runner’s high:

A few minutes later my new sister-in-law Omoleye met up with us, she also had a great run. Here’s a crappy camera phone pic of the three of us:

And yes, I did say new sister-in-law! They tied the knot in DC a couple of weeks ago, and are planning a wedding celebration for family and friends next summer. They had photographer Abby Jiu meet them for breakfast the morning of, and captured some great shots, shown here. I get to hang out with them for a couple more days before they head back to DC.

After the run, I just need to mention that I ate the most amazing crepe at Bastille Days. It was stuffed full of mint chocolate chip ice cream and smothered in chocolate sauce. My friend Cammie got one stuffed with vanilla ice cream and covered in strawberry sauce, which was almost equally delicious. I may have to go back to Bastille days just to try another flavor. So good.

Now I am gearing up for another fun-filled weekend full of running, boating, eating out, biking, and likely more boating. Man I love summer.

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