Thursday, January 31, 2013

Back to Training!

Triathlon season is here again.  I am taking the TRI201 class at Fleet Feet this year  The goal race is the Guntersville Olympic.  Our first session was on Tuesday.  We had to do a timed 5K to see where we are in our training and so we can be separated into groups.  My performance was dismal!  My time was 6 minutes slower than at the end of last year.  I was very disappointed.  Although, I should have expected it.  I hate to make excuses, but I did have shoulder surgery about 5 weeks ago, and have not done any training what-so-ever since then.  I don't know how it is going to turn out, but I will give it my all.

I am also a coach/mentor this year for TRI101.  I am really excited about it.  I just hope I can do as good a job as my coaches did last year.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Did a fun race this weekend.  It was called "Racin the Station".  It was a perfect race for the Rocket City.  It was a duathlon (run, bike, run).  It was sponsored by Nasa, so it was a little on the geeky side.  But being a geek myself, I could relate.  It was a pretty short race, 2 mile run-14 mile bike-2 mile run.  Actually, being a Nasa race, the runs were PI km (3.14) and the run was e*PI (23) km.  Gotta love it!  The goal of the race was to finish the race before the space station could complete one orbit which takes about 91 minutes.  Which turned out to not be as easy as it sounds.

I was not planning on doing the race, since I had something going on the day of the race.  But on Friday, it turned out that I could make it so I signed up.  I was glad I did.  A lot of friends from past triathlons were there.  We had a blast.  I did pretty good.  I did not beat the station though.  My time was 1:38:49.  I'll beat it next year!  I did manage to average 10:10 for the first two mile run.  That's 1:05 better that my fastest two miles so far.  I am still not endangering the podium, but I am getting better each time.  I am getting a little tired of being almost last in my age group though.  I hope bu next season I can at least make it up into the middle of the pack.

Of course, sticking with custom, the TRI-101 peeps went out to grab a bite to eat and get some "liquid" recovery.  Hey, I'm sure it was five o'clock somewhere.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monte Sano 10K and 5K

I am taking another Fleet Feet training course for a half marathon.  The Monte Sano road race was one of our training events.  We had to run both races.  I was a little nervous since 7 miles was the longest I had run.

The 10K wasn't too bad.  Actually, the first 5K was a PR for me, 11:02.  The second 5K was a little slower.  My time for the whole thing was 1:15:00.  My goal was 1:10:00.

The second race was awful, 0:45:00!!  My legs hurt so badly.  When I got home I filled up the bath tub with ice and just sat in it for about 30 minutes.  It is now two days later and my ankles are still a little sore.

I obviously have some work to do to get to 13.1 miles.

Rocketman Olympic Triathlon

The Rocketman was my first Olympic distance triathlon. I was singed up for the "aquabike" which is only the swim and bike portions of the race. I thought it was too soon to try the whole thing. I didn't think I was ready for the 10K run.

At the packet pickup I had lunch with Caneilia, Janet, and Rick. They were Tri101 coaches. It was great to see them again. We had a great lunch.

I got my packet, attended the pre-race briefing, and got body marked. This was my first time using the TriTat marking, so I let them put them on for me. Since I was also volunteering after the race, I also picked up my volunteer shirt. And, of course, the only sizes they had was XL. I have lost a lot of weight, but I still can't fit into an XL shirt. I have a closet full for race shirts that don't fit. Maybe some day.

I was a little worried about the swim since I hadn't gone that far in a race. I had swam 1800 yards several times in training, but that was in a pool by myself. I tried not to think about it and just do it. It turned out not to bee too bad. My time was 34 minutes. I am not a fast swimmer. I need to work on that over the winter.

T1 was uneventful, 1:45 or so. The bike was a little tougher than I expected. It was pretty hilly. Every race I have been in so far they say the course is "flat and fast". If that was flat, I would hate to see what they call hilly. I finished the bike in 1:29:00. A little slow.

I think I probably could have done the run before the cutoff time, but it would not have been pretty. My legs were pretty wobbly.

After the race, I hung our by the finish line and cheered on the people coming in. This will probably be the last time I get to do that since I will probably be one of the last ones finishing from now on.

When the awards started I went and helped tear down the bike racks and then headed out.

Huntsville Sprint Triathlon

It has been a while since I have written in this blog so I thought I would catch up.

The Huntsville Sprint Triathlon was our target race for the Fleet Feet Tri101 program.  This was technically my third triathlon.  The Wet Dog was my first and then Tri101 did the whole Huntsville Sprint course as a practice race the weekend before.  So I was pretty ready for it.

I arrived at 5:30 when the transition opened and set up my gear.  There was lots of excitement with all the Tri101 peeps there.  For a large number of them, this was their first.  It was fun to their faces, excited, nervous.  I kind of felt like a veteran since I had done it before.

Before the race started, we all gathered together to stretch and get ready. Then we got lined up.  We were not able to warm up in the pool for some reason, so will all just milled around outside the pool and talked.

The race itself was pretty uneventful.  I did lose my goggles on the first lap which was kind of a bummer.  Apparently the strap came loose.  So I had to swim the remaining 7 laps with my head out of the water.  I think my time was about 14 minutes.  Not what I was hoping, but I made it through it.

The bike and the run went well.  My overall time was 1:16:00.  Which wasn't too bad.  If I hadn't lost my goggles I think I would have been close to my goal of 1:11:00.

After each Tri101'er got done we all went to the Fleet Feet tent and cheered all the others on.  It was so much fun.  I hung around until almost everyone had left.  I didn't want to leave.

The Tri101 program was the best thing I ever did.  All of coaches and participants were such great people.  It really was a great experience.  I am a little sad it is over.  I am taking another Fleet Feet training course, Half Marathon, but it isn't the same.  For some reason, the camaraderie isn't there.  Maybe it's the difference between runners and triathletes.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer Sizzler Super Metric Century

Had an excellent ride on Saturday.  I did the Summer Sizzler Super Metric Century in New Hope, Alabama.  There were three routes, 75, 45, and 25 miles.  I did the 45 mile route.  It was my longest ride so far.

The first section was about 12 miles.  It was mostly flat and pretty fast.  A friend of mine that I ride with during the week war riding with me.  When we hit the first rest stop, I was feeling pretty good.  I filled up my water bottles, got come nanners and a oatmeal pie.  The volunteers were great.  I stretched a bit, and hit the road again.

The second section was a little hilly.  Actually, it was A LOT hilly.  Aside from not being physically ready, as most of my training has been done on mostly flat roads, I was not mentally ready.  I had not driven the course ahead of time, so I didn't know what to expect.  The hills were not especially steep or that long, there were just so many of them.  Everytime I turned a corner, I was at the bottom of another hill!  I was able to climb all of them, but there were draining me and I was getting frustrated that they were slowing me down.  It wasn't a race, but I did want to try to maintain 16-17 mph.

I guess my friend got tired of waiting on me to climb the hills because he took off and left me about half way through the second section.  When I fianlly hit the second rest stop, my friend was there waiting on me. I filled up and grabbed another banana, and then we took off again.  There was a pretty good hill leaving the rest stop.  I managed to climb the hill pretty well, but then we hit all the small hills again and my friend took off.  It kind of sucked because I had waited for him on the first section, but whatever, I just kept plugging along.  I was getting a little tired of riding by myself so I stopped on the top of one of the hills and waited for some of my TRI101 peeps to catch up.  I waited for about five minutes, and was starting to get stiff, so I started decided to start going again slowly and let them catch up.

About 40 miles into it, I started feeling a little tightness in my quads.  Within a mile, I had full on cramps in both quads.  For a second, I thought I could push though it, but I was soooo wrong.  I finally had to stop, get of my bike, and lay down and try to relieve my cramps.  I thought I had put some Endurolytes on my bike, but I was wrong.  I tried to drink some Gatorade, but it didn't do anything.  Someone drove by and gave me a couple Endurolytes.  Two minutes later, the cramps were gone and I was back on the road.  Amazing things.  I will not forget them again!

After my little "break", a couple of the TRI101 people passed me, so I caught up to them and finished the ride with them.  When I got about 1/2 a mile from the finish, I saw one of the TRI101 coaches RUNNING the other way.  I thought, you've got to be kidding me.  My legs were still cramping there was NO WAY I was going to be running.  Turned out I was wrong!

When I crossed the finish line, my friend was there eating pizza.  I got some pizza, water, Gatorade, and a couple more Endurolytes.  My legs still had the post-cramp soreness, but over all I was doing pretty good.  I ran into another TRI101 coach, Edd.  He said he just got back from a mile and a half run.  I could see where this was going.  Then I was talking to a couple more coaches about the ride and they said "did you bring your running shoes?"  I said yeah, but I couldn't run right then.  Of course they shammed me into running with them, so I put my shoes on and we started running.  I made it about a mile and I was done.  My legs were cramping and I was about to throw up the pizza I just ate.  I had to walk the last 1/4 mile, BUT I was able to run a little.  I was kind of impressed with myself.

After the run, I decided it was time to go before someone found a pool and wanted to swim laps!  Of course, as it turned out, I ended up swimming about 400 yards in a lake a couple hours later!

It was a great day!  Needless to say, I slept VERY well Saturday night.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Tri-ed!

Saturday, 7/21/2012.
Beep, beep, beeeeppppp.  My alarm clock goes off at 4:00am.  Normally, I would have rolled over and gone back to sleep, but today is my first triathlon.  I was surprising alert at the early hour.  I hopped up an executed the plan I had gone over in my mind before going to bed.  Everything had been packed, unpacked, rechecked, and packed again.  I went into the kitchen and made some breakfast; an egg, ham, and English muffin sandwich and a glass of water.  Then off for a quick shower.  I was feeling great, not nervous, no discernible pain, aside from my usual post-sleep stiffness, no stomach issues, I was ready to go.  I put on the tri kit that I had laid out the night before, grabbed my stuff, and I was headed to Decatur.

The drive to Point Mallard in Decatur is about 40 minutes from my house, so I had plenty of time to think.  I ran through every part of the race in my mind, tried to think of everything that could go wrong.  What was I going to do if my goggles were knocked off?  What if I had a flat?  One of absolutly favorite quotes is "The body cannot take you where the mind has never been".  I don't know the origin of that quote, or even if I quoted it correctly, but I thoroughly believe it.

I arrived around 5:30am at the park.  There were about 30 people already there setting up in the sea of racks in the transition area.  I parked, got my bike and backpack and headed to the racks.  I looked the transition area over to figure out where the best place to set up would be.  Most of the people were set up close to the "bike-out" exit from the area.  I assumed these were the people that were actually trying to get on the podium.  Since this was my first event, I decided to stay out of their way and find another spot.  I knew I wanted to be on the end of a rack somewhere that was easy to spot.  I found one of my coaches just off the center of the group of racks and decided to setup next to her.

I had practiced transitions several times in Tri-101 and I had even built my own rack to practice on my own, so I was some-what prepared.  I set up my stuff as I had practiced and was ready to go.  I walked around the transition area to the two entrance/exit gates and made sure I could locate my bike.  I brought the brightest yellow towel I could find so it would be easy so see.  And it worked, I could see that towel from anywhere.  I saw several of the Tri-101 coaches and lot of my fellow-trainees while I was walking around.  This wasn't our goal race for Tri-101, but several of us thought we were ready.  And I for one, just couldn't wait anymore.

I went down to the river where we would be doing the swim.  They had not set up the buoys yet, so there wasn't much to see.  But I tried to picture the course and visualize myself swimming.  I hung around until the Tri-101 group picture, then headed off to the body marking tent.  Since I hadn't done this before, I wasn't really sure what the procedure was.  I just followed everyone into the tent and did what they did.  I think next time I will bring a Sharpie and mark myself and save myself a trip to the tent.

I decided it was time to go warm up.  I went down to the swimming area again to swim a little.  I have been having a problem with a bone spur in my shoulder and I wanted to make sure it was warmed up so I didn't tear anything.  I didn't want to have to finish the race in pain.  I swam out a little way, nice and slowly, paying attention to my form and breathing.  Everything was going great.  I turned around and looked at the shore to spot where the exit was.  I had swum in open water a couple times before, so I was ready for the limited visibility.  I thought to myself, "well, I think I've got the swimming part licked".

I got back to the shore and got out of the water.  It was almost 7:00am, so I just milled around waiting for the start.  As time got closer, the coordinator started talking over the PA.  The system was very poorly designed.  The speakers were way behind us and I could not hear anything she was saying.  I hoped it wasn't important.  I did hear that we should start lining up in number order.  I was number 209, so I just moved over to the side.  I figured when I saw 150 go in the water I would start lining up.  As I got in line, I adjusted my swim cap and goggles.  When there was about 5 people in front of me, I put my goggles on and got ready.  My heart was beating a little faster now and I was getting a little nervous.  I tried to push all the thoughts out of my head and just concentrate on listening for "GO".  When the starter said "GO", I hit the water.  Immediately, my left eye cup started to leak.  I thought "no problem", I had planned for that.  I just lifted my head and reseated it...still leaking.  Tried again...still leaking.  Ok, I didn't plan for that.  So the whole swim I had to stop every once in a while and empty my goggles.  I still don't know why it was leaking.

As I was swimming, I was watching the guy in front of me, the guy on my left, the guy passing me on my right.  I could feel someone hitting my feet and I noticed I was hitting the guy's feet in front of me.  I was paying attention to everything EXCEPT my own swimming.  My arms were flying, I was kicking like a mad man, and I was breathing pretty hard.  I pulled up to empty my goggles and I saw that I had only gone about 100 yards!!  I thought "Oh crap, I'm not going to make it".  My form was out the window, my arms and legs were flying in all directions, I was sucking in water every time I took a breath.  I had totally lost control.  I started swimming breast stroke, party out of exhaustion and partly to collect myself.  I calmed down, had a little chat with myself about form, and started off again.  I was so caught up in the "race", I forgot the basics.  After, I got my head back on, I did much better and had no problem finishing the swim.

When, I got back to the shore, I felt really good.  I wasn't at all dizzy which sometime happened when I was training.  I ran up the beach to the transition and had no issues getting on the bike and taking off.  The bike portion was, of course, a breeze.  I was a very nice ride, mostly flat and very low traffic.  I pushed it a little more than I had planned.  I was going to push for about 7 miles and then backoff the last two miles to let my legs recoup, but of course it didn't work out that way.  I did let off about half a mile from the transition.  I got my feet out of the shoes and got ready to dismount about 200 yards from the line.  I remember thinking that there sure were a lot of people standing there, I hoped I didn't bite it doing my flying dismount.  But it all worked like I practiced, and I hit the ground running just like I was supposed to.

I got back to the bike rack and went to rack my bike.  I was standing at a weird angle and lifted the bike to put it on the rack and felt something catch in my back.  "You have got to be kidding me!!"  I thought, maybe it will be ok.  I had some trouble getting my socks and shoes on and when I stood up, pain shot down my leg.  "Yup, threw my back out!!" I stood there for a few seconds, trying to figure out what to do; do I go on, or do I quit?  Well, I was still breathing, so quitting was out of the question, so I started running.  The pain was pretty bad.  I was ready for the tight calves that I always have getting off the bike, but I wasn't ready for the pain everytime my left foot hit the ground.  It was like someone shoving a knife in my back.  As I was running, I passed Stephanie and the girls.  I tried not to look like I was having any difficulty, but after the race she said she could tell I was in pain.  I toughed it out until I got into the woods, then I started walking.  I was almost in tears, not from the pain, but because I so mad that I thought I was going to have to quit.  I ran/walked for about a mile.  By then, at least my calves had loosened up.  I finally settled some strange gait that was a cross between a limp and a hop but it was a little easier on my back, and I managed to continue.  I stopped occasionally and tried to stretch my back.  I knew it wasn't going to help, but I figured it was worth a try.  I was really getting discouraged and I was about to stop at the next water station and have them drive me back in.

The trail opened up briefly onto the road which was the return portion of the run.  When I hit the road, I heard Janet, one of the coaches who was also running the race.  She was on the road on her way back.  All she said was "You can do it, your almost there".  She of course, had no way of knowing that my back was killing me, but for some reason I believed her and I kept going. 

When I made the turn onto the road, a kid, probably 10 years old, went sprinting passed me.  He got about 100 yards ahead of me, then stopped and started walking.  When I got up to him he started sprinting again.  He got 100 yards ahead again and started walking.  We kept this up for the last mile and half.  It was actually kind of helping me, it kept me going.

When I got to the turn onto the home stretch, there was Janet again, cheering us on.  I don't know if my back was just totally numb from the pain or what, but it all of a sudden didn't bad.  I passed Janet and picked up a little speed then there was Edd and Noel.  They were yelling "almost there, finish strong".  I turned the last corner leading to the finish line and there was Caneilia, Rick, and some others, all cheering us on.  I made the last few steps and crossed the finish line.  I just finish my first triathlon! 

As I was walking back from the finish line to the Team Rocket tent, all sorts of things were running through my head.  Images of me sitting on the couch five months ago, 65 pounds heavier; getting out of breath walking up the stairs at work; the first swim workout in the pool, not being able to swim two laps without stopping;  my whole body in pain after running a mile; stumbling through my first transition practice.  I really have come a long way.  I don't think I could have done it without the Tri-101 program and the great coaches.  And it's not so much that they are telling me things I didn't know or couldn't have found on the internet.  The concepts for endurance training are well known and all over then internet.  But having the constant encouragement, seeing the passion that they have for the sport, and them genuinely wanting to help you, not because they are paid to, but because the want to, really goes a long way toward motivation, at least for me.  It's almost like I want to do well because I don't want to let them down.

I know it is hard, if not impossible, to identify life changing events while they are happening.  Usually, it takes benefit of looking back at things in the past to identify them as a point where something changed.  But, it sure feels like this could be something that changes my life.  I guess I will have to wait and see what becomes of it.  I want to believe I will develop a lasting passion for this sport and will continue it as long as my body will let me. I hope that sometime I will have the opportunity to share that passion and get to encourage someone else on their journey to change their life.  Only time will tell.  Until then, I am having a blast!  I have meet some great people and maybe a few of them will become great friends.

As a side note...I just got back from the chiropractor and after a few pops and cracks, my back is much better.  So, BRING ON THE NEXT ONE!!!