Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Am A Triathlete, Revisited (Race Report: Kansas City Triathlon 2011)

Just a warning:  This isn't just a race report but a recap of my entry into triathlons.  If you want to jump down past the exposition, scroll to "May 20, 2011 - Carb Loading".

Three or four years ago, TKB and I were invited to watch our friends Joe VI and Kyle participate in something called a "Triathlon".  We knew they were the active type and wanted to see them in action.  We knew we were going to have to get up at the butt crack of dawn but we were excited to see what this was all about.  Unfortunately, TKB discovered she had an even earlier wake up call waiting for her, an ovarian cyst landed her in the emergency room at 3:00am.  She went through a lot of pain and tears that morning.  Seeing our friends finish one of these "triathlons" would have to wait.

Fast forward a few years to summer of 2010, the year I went from four to twenty-six point two.  During an e-mail conversation with Joe VI, Kyle, Danny, and Ben regarding our marathon planning session, I made the following comment:

2010: Finish a Marathon
2011: Finish a Triathlon

That was the first time I ever referenced doing a triathlon.  Hopefully when people talk about me after I'm long gone they will say that "Scotty B was always true to his word".   The wheels were set in motion and the mental typewriter started producing a checklist of things I would need:
  • Bike - I could use my hybrid but decided a road bike was in order.
  • Wetsuit -  No, wouldn't need this because I wouldn't do a race in cold weather.  At least not the first few years.
Yep... that's it.  This would be easy!

December 2010 I purchased my Felt Z85 road bike.  Nothing too fancy with the aluminum frame and Shimano 105 components.  I really don't think I went overboard with this purchase and I absolutely love the bike.

January 2011 - Time to get serious
  • Started the blog and twitter account - I wanted to surround myself with other age group triathletes.  I loved reading race reports, so this was the next evolutionary step.
  • Setup a training plan (fail to follow it and incorrectly blame it on work)
  • Purchased Triathlon 101 by John Mora.  At first I thought I was a dork buying this but have read many other "startup triathlete" blog posts indicating this book helped them.
February - Time to Fine Tune

  • Being someone tied to corrective lenses, I realized that it would be much easier to see in Swim to Bike Transition (T1) if I could see my bike.  I purchased prescription swim goggles, as well as my first pair of jammers.

March - Getting Back At It

  • A major project at work had finished up and I found myself getting out on the bike more with open road sessions (previously I went around in circles at the downtown airport).  So now I was getting in a couple two-a-days a week.  This was also when I decided to change up my schedule and move my first triathlon to May 22.
  • This was also when the weird panic attacks started when I went to bed.  My best diagnosis was overtraining and they finally subsided about the first week in May.

April - Refining the Schedule Again

  • My overtraining concerns caused me to cut back my training. Instead of 10 - 11 hours a week, I went down to 5 to 6 hours with only one two-a-day sessions per week and a big brick session on the weekend.
  • Moving up my first triathlon to May meant a wetsuit will be needed.  I completed this within a timeframe in which I could return it if I didn't like it.  The triathlon related costs were increasing.

May - This Sh!t Is About to Get Real

  • Countdown is getting into single digits.
  • First Open Water Swim done!  I think this helped out with the panic attacks.
  • Transition bag purchased and checklist prepped!

In the weeks leading up to the Kansas City Triathlon, I started having my first issue. I've mentioned before that the "lap" button on my Garmin 405cx was getting stuck in the pressed position and even though I attempted to fix it, no dice.  My brother was obligated nice enough to loan me his for the race.  Hopefully this would be the ONLY issue for the race.

May 20, 2011 - Carb Loading
The race coincided with my wife's parents and older brother and wife visiting from out of town.  TKB, her parents, and I went to Cafe Trio for dinner on Friday night.  I've decided that carb loading should be had two days before the race.  I read that somewhere.  One order of "Mac Daddy" down and carb loading a success!

May 21, 2011 - Packet Pickup x 2
With the entire family finally together, we went to a museum in KC for some entertainment.  Eventually TKB's Dad and I cut out to go to Bike Source to pickup my packet.  The fun was really about to start.  A 10 minute commute to Bike Source from the museum turned into 45 minutes as the Google navigation on my phone somehow got confused and took us to a different Bike Source.  NEVER again will I neglect to move my Garmin Nuvi to the car when I know I'll need navigation.

Once we got there, I immediately knew I was screwed.  In my ever need to be prepared and having things laid out in advance, I decided to lay out my USA Triathlon Membership card as well.  Guess where it was when I was walking up to the sign-in table... at home.  #$*@#&!!!!

As everyone knows, gas prices aren't cheap these days.  I had the option to pay $10 for a single day license or spend $15 in gas to go home and get it.  No question as to what I decided to do.... go get my membership card, of course.

OK.  So Garmin and now this.  These were my big issues for the race.  No MORE!

May 22, 2011 - RACE DAY
With my checklist fully sussed out, packing was really easy.  Everything was laid out and then packed the night before.

Everything is here!  Including my new transition bag.  Comfort in planning.

Let me just say this bag is HUGE.  I don't think it could be used as an airplane carry-on.
Alarm set for 3:30 am, 3:45 am, and 4:00 am (alarm clock, egg timer, and cell phone, respectively).  I woke up with the first alarm.  I slept surprisingly well.  Bagel with peanut butter and banana for breakfast.  I was out the door by 4:40am.  I realize that there is no need to show up that early, but with this being my very first triathlon, I wanted to make sure I was in charge of time and not the other way around.

Arrived at the beach around 5:15am.  I was able to park relatively close to the transition area (probably a quarter mile walk).  Your transition area was based on your bib number, so there was no benefit to getting there early simply to get a choice spot.  Being #42, I was real close to the swim exit but a far jog to the bike start.  No problem.

I racked my bike and set down my bag.  I surveyed the lay of the land/water.  There might have been 50 - 75 people there at the time.  I picked up my timing chip, hit the port-a-john, and walked down to the beach to checkout the swim area.  This is one thing I had NO idea what to expect.  What does 1500 meters look like?  There was no fog so it was easy to see the course.  Surprisingly, no panic set in.

Around 6:00am I started to get the transition area setup.  When I do new things, I like having a friend along for the ride to help tell me what I'm doing right/wrong.  I knew going into this I was on my own so I try to learn from what other people are doing but, ultimately, I stuck with my plan.  It provided a sense of accomplishment doing that.

I made a couple passes by Transition #154 where fellow twi-athlete, tberkley, was to setup but he wasn't there yet.  After another round of pacing I spotted Joe VI!  I knew he was going to be volunteering that day and he was assigned to the transition area!  Sweet!  Someone to knock down my competitors cheer me on from within the transition area.  We chatted for 10 - 15 minutes when I decided to hit the port-a-john a second time.

Around 7:00am I decided it was time to get things going.  I wrangled on the wetsuit and went for a practice swim.  The water was a chilly 64 degrees.  It felt good to have the wetsuit on.  I decided to stay on the beach until the start, knowing that I probably missed my opportunity to see tberkley (Travis) and my family, who were to arrive soon.

The olympic distance elites were to start at 7:30am with the male 30 - 44 age group (me) starting at 7:34am.  I strategically lined up in the back and to the right, as the course was a counter-clockwise loop.  I didn't really feel like getting kicked in the face the first time out.  As I stood there a gentleman took up position right in front of me.  Unlike me, he was wearing a sleeveless wetsuit so I could see that he was #154.  Travis!  So we chatted as the countdown was headed towards 7:34am.

Do you see me?
Once the horn went off it was a surge to the water.  I got as far as I could before I made that final commitment and dove in.  I was no longer training, I was racing.  My heart was racing as well.  I focused hard to use my normal stroke rate but it was left, right, breath, left, right, breath instead.  I was concerned I'd hyperventilate but I was comfortable with it so I just kept it up.

Due to my placement at the start, I really didn't have to contend with too many bodies.  I could tell I was on someone's toes as every few strokes I'd touch their feet.  Eventually, I'd edge to the side and pass.  I was breathing to my right and as long as I could see people too my right, I felt comfortable that I was on target.  Sighting wasn't too difficult but the sun was in my eyes.

I never felt that onset of panic that people mention simply because it's an open water swim.  At one point I did take in some lake water and had trouble breathing.  The nerves did go a little crazy when this happened the first time but I just slowed down to collect myself and took right back off.

When I did breathe left to look, I could tell I was quite a distance from the buoys and at one time got close to a kayak.  I eventually took a sharp angle to the course but still stayed away from most of the swimmers.  There was a 90 degree turn towards the north and I rejoined the pack.

About the time I was 50% done I decided to get back into my swimming form and take four strokes between breathes. While this did help, I still mostly went with a breath every two strokes.  As long as I was still content, I kept it up.  For some reason, I started focusing on my wedding ring.  I rarely take it off but it felt like it was slipping.  I might take it off for future triathlons, just in case.

When nearing the turn back towards the shore, I noticed that I had been passing quite a few people, which made me feel pretty good.  As part of my swimming technique, I rarely move my legs.  In the pool I really only kick to keep the lower half of my body afloat.  I do this to save my legs for the rest of the event but it's nice to have if I need to power by someone.  By the time I got roughly 500 meters away, I did start using them more but that was mostly to get blood moving through them so they'd be ready for the bike.

I could see the shore getting closer and closer and thinking, in two minutes you will be out of the water.  I tried to visualize my transition: wetsuit off 50% during the run, goggles and swim cap off, sunglasses on, wetsuit off 100%, helmet, something, eat chomps, something else, grab the bike?  Eventually my fingers started brushing the sandy muddy floor and I pulled myself up and started running!

Time: 29:45 / 1:59 Pace (minutes per 100 meters)
Position: 27 of 54

Transition 1
I fumbled around for the zipper cord on my wetsuit and started pulling it down just as I was getting out of the water.  It was AWESOME hearing the crowd cheer people on and even better when I saw my family cheering me on as well.  Some high fives and off I went to the transition area.  Joe VI was near the entrance and shouted out my time sub-30 minutes!  Holy crap!  I was easily expecting over 30 minutes.

I do not remember having a problem taking off my wetsuit.  I ate a couple chomps during the process and grabbed my gloves.  All of a sudden I heard "GET MOVING SCOTTY!!".  Joe VI keeping me in focus.  I decided the gloves were unnecessary.  I wasn't wearing socks so why gloves.  Maybe in a longer race.  Helmet on, bike off rack and "GO, SCOTTY, GO!", as Joe VI yelled.

I love the space age aero helmets (dude on the right).  Maybe someday I'll look that cool.

Is this guy putting on hair spray?

Photo Credit: Mike K

The first malfunction of the race occurred in T1.  I put on my race belt and "rrrripppp", one hole on my bib ripped and so only one side was connected.  

Time: 2:56
Position: 43 of 54

I knew my mount was going to be horrible.  I didn't practice a fast mount.  I just tried to get off to the side so I didn't impede someone who knew what they were doing.  I completely met my expectations and ended up having trouble getting clipped in and just started pedaling.  I clipped in during the ride.  I guess in reality that is what I should have planned on doing.

My next course of business was dealing with my bib.  I didn't want it to fly off so I stuffed it under my belt and miraculously it stayed. The wetness from my bike shorts kept it glued to my body but I spent some of my ride deciding how to handle it for my run.

The bike course was one full lane of road plus the shoulder.  Being a strict follower of rules, I road as far to the left as possible on the shoulder.  I had followed a guy out to the bike course, who was riding in the road.  He wasn't going very fast as he was messing with something on his bike.  I eventually noticed I had passed him... on the right.  Crap.  I looked back at him and I could tell he was watching me, so I throw out a weak "sorry!" and kept going.  I knew the guy would be flying by me in a matter of minutes.

The bike course was relatively flat with a few monster hills.  Wind wasn't too bad but you could definitely tell it was there at times.  People were flying by me but I didn't mind.  I'm trying to just take it all in!  For the most part, it was pretty thin of athletes.  I figured I had a pretty good swim time and people were going to be flying soon.  The route travels through a neighborhood section and there were people out cheering athletes.  By now I started passing people on the bike course.

On the south side of the bike course, there is a nasty hill.  I'm in the easiest gear and struggling up the hill but what goes up, must go down. Flying down the hill, I yelled out "Let's go 40!", trying to hit 40 mph.  I got close.  The rest of the first loop was flat.  I saw one guy drop his water bottle, wonder if he knew?

For those who follow me on twitter or friends on Facebook, you'll know I posted a link at the start of the race that allowed you to follow me on the course.  This software, Glympse, will display a map on your screen with a little arrow showing my location.  I set this up to run on my phone with GPS and data. It reduces a lot of stress for my wife as she knows when I'll be crossing the finish line for that all important finish line photo! I also use it on training runs/rides so TKB can keep tabs on me.  If you did follow me, you probably have noticed that I stopped on the south side of the lake.  Or rather, I heard my phone reboot on me, which meant my Glympse stopped transmitting.  Oops.

Knowing that this had stopped, I knew my wife would have a sense of panic for the rest of the bike course.  What compounded this even further is as I passed the entrance to the park I just missed a Fire Truck pull into the park, sirens blaring.  This might have freaked out TKB even more.

The second loop had more people on the bike course as I picked up the later waves, including the sprint distance athletes.  This made me happy since I could pick-off more riders.  There were a few sections of the ride where we had a bit of a traffic jam.  If I were truly competitive, I would have been yelling at people to pass but instead I stayed back until it cleared out.

I got to the monster hill again and I was ready this time.  I hit 45 mph this time.  Love it!   Pulling into transition 2 was interesting.  The dismount was not as comical as the start but I came to a complete stop.  Better to be safe this time.

Time: 1:17:41 / 19.2 mph
Position: 43 of 54

Transition 2
Run the bike to the rack, shoes off, get yelled at by Joe VI for, uh, encouragement (Thanks!), heckle from Mike (Brother) and Mike (Father in law), socks and shoes on, hat on and GO!!

Once I turned around my bib it just stayed in the position so I decided to leave it as is.

Photo Credit: Mike K

Photo Credit: Mike K

Photo Credit: Mike K

Action Shot!
Photo Credit: Mike K

Dear #68 - Don't wear the shirt until you finish the race, noob.

Time: 2:01
Position: 45 of 54

My legs felt OK for the run.  Definitely sluggish but not wobbly.  In the first mile I did feel pressed to breathe, almost asthmatic.  It was fairly humid out that morning, but by the time I reached the top of a fairly nasty hill at the end of mile 1 I was back to normal.

70% of the course was on a trail which was small gravel/dirt/mud.  It was nice to have some cushion but  possibly slowed me down... a tiny tiny bit.  I was going a little slow.  How slow?  Well, we will get to that in a bit.

Olympic distance participants travel the loop twice, just like the bike course.

Aid stations every mile.  Supposedly each would have water, gatorade, and gels; however, I only saw gels at the first station.  I had planned to pick one up at the second station but alas, none.  By the time I the second loop, the gel would have been pointless.

Second Lap!

Watch out for the puddles.  It rained on Saturday and some of the previous week.
Photo Credit: Mike K
Joe was timing me on his cell phone and showed me I was around 2 hours and 17 minutes coming around for the second lap, which meant I had an opportunity for sub-3 hours.  It would have taken a lot NOT to get sub-3 hours.

Time: 54:19:00 / 8:55 minutes per mile
Position: 38 of 54

Coming around the final turn, I knew there was a guy behind me and I heard people cheering for him to pass me.  I don't think so.  I kicked it up a notch and finished strong.  Now that I think about it, I should have done that much earlier because that really energized me.

My goal was to finish, so it was success!  It was an amazing experience!  Looking at my times I do see a ton of improvement in training.

Time: 2:46:43
Position: 37 of 54

Lessons Learned
1. I decided a long time ago that I would put the Garmin 405 on the bike mount and then move it to my wrist for the run.  Well, check out the results of that plan:

Well, at least it would register my heart rate once during the run as I ran by my transition area.

So my plan is to replace my broken Garmin Forerunner 405cx with a new Forerunner 310xt that I will wear from the start of the race to the end.

2.  Race Belt - In the long run I didn't mind the issue with the bib tearing but I did put it on my belt upside down.  Oops.

3.  Mount/Dismount - Maybe not for the next race but start practicing more fluid mounts and dismounts.  Obviously I'm on the second half of the finishers, so saving 10 to 15 seconds there isn't going to blast me up to a higher finishing position but the more competitive I get, this will be on the list.

4.  Better nutrition management.  I had originally planned to take some Gu with me but left it at the last minute.  While I did eat chomps during my transition, I didn't take anything on the course.

Race Critique
So this race report is more or less about my experience, so here are my critique of the actual race:

  • Communication: Being my first race, I would have appreciated more information about the event.  Hospital Hill is my gold standard for this.  I believe I got two e-mails leading up to the event with nothing more than copy and paste from the website, which I had devoured 15 times over.  They have a Twitter and Facebook account but rarely use it to convey information.
  • Event: I didn't know what to expect from my first triathlon.  I had nothing to compare it to but there weren't any big surprises or situations where they did something different than what was on the web site.
  • Course: There were a couple hills on both the road and run but I didn't find it too challenging.  If I had more hill experience with the bike I probably would have had better times.  While I don't blame my run time on the lack of watch but I think I would have been up to tell myself to harden up if I saw my heart rate.  I shouldn't rely on it.
  • Post-Race Grub:  The food was provided by Hy-Vee.  Yogurt, Oranges, Energy Bars.  While the Yogurt was great, the oranges weren't pre-sliced.  No bagels or donuts which I thought was lame.
  • OK t-shirt and great participant medal.  According to the web site, the first 700 participants receive a tech t-shirt.  There were 608 finishers, so I'm pretty sure I registered as one of the first 700 participant and it was a cotton t-shirt.
  • Swag Bag - Energy Bar and Gels.  A very nice pint glass, which is something I would have paid for.

  • Would I do it again?  Likely.
My orange swim cap.  ORANGE!

A few of my cheer squad!  Ella, Sam, Amanda!

Cleaning up my transition area.  Luckily #41 didn't show up.

Joe "Mr Volunteer" VI

My body markings.

Trying to exit the transition area.

Finally applied my USAT Sticker!  It's official!

One of two new bondiband, TKB bought me.

The sign was my visual check-off to find my transition location.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Goal Route #1: Commute To Work

When I started going to the gym in the morning, that meant I would be getting ready for work there and then driving the 10 - 15 mile commute to the office.  On many occasions I would see the same cyclist  riding his bike (presumably) to work on the route to the office.

I often thought to myself that it would be a great way to get exercise in and save money.  I was already getting up early to go to the gym, so I knew I could handle that aspect of it.  There were too many excuses though.  The first being I didn't have a good bike, well that excuse went out the door with a wad of cash back in December when I bought my Felt road bike.  Other excuses included dealing with bringing in clothes, where to leave the bike, the safest yet quickest route, and a myriad of other things (the workflow, remember).

May is National Bike Month and, specifically, this week was Kansas City's Bike Week (that might have been national too).  I decided to figure it all out and commute to work on Wednesday.  Weather was going to be perfect (if not chilly) for the morning commute and possibly sprinkling rain for the evening trek home.  My evening schedule gave me plenty of time for the ride, so I put it in digital ink.  Those who know me probably aren't surprised to learn that I spent more time working on my checklist in preparation than it took for the actual commute.  With help from Jill, I had it pretty well groomed.

Just as with pre-race jitters, I was a bit nervous Tuesday night.  I had a little trouble sleeping but managed to get in a good amount of sleep before the alarm went off. By 5:50am I was on the road with my 11.8 pound backpack.

This was with the iPad but I accidentally left it at home.

Not necessarily the best backpack but it held all my junk.

I did stop to enjoy the sunrise for a few moments.  I have definitely seen a lot of beautiful sunrises when I train in the morning.  I wish I would take pictures more often.

I took a route which required a little backtracking (about a mile) but the road is a bit safer... and, frankly, fewer nasty hills.  For those local, this is 9 hwy through Parkville.  Because 9 highway gets pretty ugly around an interchange to Interstate 635, I use a side road that takes me by the Argosy Casino.  This safer route actually adds 2 miles to the commute, but I'm OK with that.

Eventually, I hop back onto 9 and dodge cars by the 169 exist ramp and then though some residential and business districs of North Kansas City.  The next tricky part is how to cross the Missouri River.  Fortunately, MoDOT built a bike/pedestrian specific lane over the Heart of America bridge to make it extremely safe to cross (granted, it can get bumpy at times).  Here is a simulation of the bridge.

As I am riding through North Kansas City and turn to get on the bridge, I see a truck and four people sitting out by the path and they start applauding me as I come near!  They were people from the city and group that designed the bridge.  They were handing out bagels, juice, coffee, and fruit to those commuting to work on bike.  It was great!  I chatted with them a bit before heading on my way the last two miles to work.  I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of/with them.  I'm still new to this blogging thing.

A few minutes later I was at the YMCA a block away from my office.

After showering, this presented the next problem. What to do with the bike? I don't agonize about leaving my Trailblazer parked on the street but my bike.. of course.  I elected not to bring up the 8 floors to my cube and went with the bike rack on the parking garage next to the building.  Not sure why this seemed like a big deal but it was like dropping the kid off at daycare for the first time.  Well, I guess I assume it would be.  I only checked on it once during lunch :).

There was no such accolades about riding into the office when I got into the office as I did before the bridge.  In fact, just the opposite as I had an e-mail waiting me from Jill:

Thanks Jill.  I can alway count on you for support.
The ride home was questionable from the beginning of the day.  I had TKB drive the Trailblazer into work just in case.  Fortunately, the clouds parted and it was a nice sunny ride home.

There is one slightly annoying part of the ride home in which the exit off of 9 hwy that will take me by Argosy Casino is closed. I have to take 9 hwy all the way to Parkville, forcing me to contend with the Interstate 635 interchanges.  As I'm driving through this construction zone I hear someone yell at me.  Do I really look like a woman riding a bike?  What's with the cat call?  I decide to see and there was a guy riding a bike a few yard behind me!

He was headed to Parkville as well.  So I followed him into town.  He was a real nice guy and said that he had been commuting for four years.  I could tell from his bike setup that he'd pretty well fine-tuned his checklist too.  He had the fenders with saddle bags.  Headlamp on his helmet and bike.  Taillight on his helmet and bike as well.  He might have had a third taillight too.  I then realized, this was the same guy I had seen in the morning!

I consider this route a complete success.  I would love to see that exit open up soon.  It may add 2 miles to the commute but that is probably a good thing when you are in training.  I know the hunger is there as I drove to work Friday morning from the gym and had wished I was on my bike.  I think I'm going to try to commute at least once a week.  It'll be a great addition to my training.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

In my industry, any major event requires multiple tests/mocks of the event and then within weeks of going "live", we do one final practice.  Coincidentally, the terminology we use in the IT industry was stolen from my wife's industry:
dress rehearsal is a rehearsal or series of rehearsals in which the ensemble dresses as they will dress at the performance for the audience.
Basically, mimic the entire event from start to finish without actually doing the event.  Why not do this in my new multi-sport life as well?  You are supposed to practice your transitions, practice brick workouts to get your body acclimated to changing from swim to bike or bike to swim in one workout session.  Why not put them together just like the real event?  So this became the Scotty B Invitational Dress Rehearsal Triathlon!

I did have some reservations doing this 8 days before my first triathlon.  You wouldn't run 26.2 miles a week before your first marathon.  Heck, I wouldn't even run 26.2 total miles the entire week before.  However, I decided that this upcoming week is going to be very light on the workouts, except for maybe one day of the week.

So, I kickstarted my planning.  I built my spreadsheet of things to pack, a workflow of how each transition should go, things left to buy, questions left to research/ask, and a timeline of the overall dress rehearsal (surprised I didn't have conference calls setup as checkpoints with my wife, swim partner, bike partner, and running partner to talk about how things are going... my coworkers will appreciate this reference).

By Friday evening, I was all set and started to pack:

Click to enlarge (that's what he said)
I can be somewhat fanatical when it comes to preparation.  I enjoy that as much as the actual event.  My checklist:

I will plan to share this once it's finalized.

Everything in its "Transition Bag".  Can't believe I got the bike in the bag.
My Transition 2 (T2) items were staying home, so didn't pack them.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had set up a time to meet with a coworker to do the open water swim. In addition, I was planning to meet a friend halfway through my bike to join me for the ride, and then at home, Joe VI was to be waiting for me to join me on my run.  Not only was I doing a dress rehearsal, I lined up a pseudo-relay team as well!

Dress Rehearsal Day - Pre-"Race"
The plan was for me to get up at 4:45am (er... 5:00am).  Breakfast of bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  Setup T2 at 5:30am at home and on the road at 5:45am.  Arrive at the lake for the open water swim (OWS) at 6:30am.  Everything after that will just happen as it happens.  I'm not a fan of allowing others to control my pre-race timeline, if you remember from the race report on my marathon

T2 - Waiting for me to arrive 3 to 4 hours later.
Getting more use out that deep freezer in the garage.
Open Water Swim
We arrived at Smithville Lake (a man-made lake) around 6:30am and finally met Scott P. in person.  He is a great guy and I appreciated his patience and words of wisdom.  He has 3 years of experience and about 20 triathlons on me.  I slipped wrangled on my wetsuit and off to the swim area as TKB went for a run.  I had hopes of setting up a T1 area but it was going to be unsupervised, so I elected to just work out of my transition bag when the swim was over.

Air temperature was at 47 degrees but the lake temperature was 65 degrees (according to the US Army Corp of Engineers).  This must have been helped by the spat of 90 degree days we had earlier in the week.

Members of my family will probably remember the YEARS of going out on my parents boat and me refusing to get in the water.  I couldn't stand the idea of getting into water that was too murky to see the bottom.  I did eventually get over this with age but still have hesitation jumping into a lake.  I MUST have a life jacket (it's the law, right?) and typically won't be the first one in.  Now, open water swims don't start in the middle of the lake but it was still weird voluntarily getting into the lake to swim.

The wetsuit was amazing!  With the buoyancy and the warmth I could barely tell a difference in temperature when I got in the water.   We did laps from one end of the swim area to the other.  It took about 200 yards to get back to my normal form.  Not seeing anything in the water was as creepy as I expected.  Sighting was still a challenge, so I may do a few short swims this week either at the Y or meeting up with Scott again and work on it at the lake.

We probably barely did 500 yards before getting out.  I hope I didn't cut it short for Scott but I was ready to get on the road.

Transition 1
T1 -- Yes, I still had my swim cap on.
There was no rush during this transition.  I did try to get my wetsuit off pretty quickly and it did come off faster wet than dry.  As mentioned above, it was 47 degrees and cloudy.  There was wind coming from the north.  If it had at least been sunny, it would have made a lot of difference; however, I elected to put on my bike jacket for the ride home.  I still went with the Tri Shorts for the ride/run.  I probably would have slipped on tights if I brought them, but glad I didn't.  Besides the jacket, I also opted for wearing socks in my bike shoes. I normally don't.

Hoping many all drivers see this and decide to avoid it...
One thing I've noticed when preparing for my rides and mentally grabbing a hold of what I'm about to do that I always get nervous with the feat; however, once I'm in it I absolutely love it.

The ride was uneventful but I did experience a few things:
  • My Garmin can get wonky and so it kind of jacked up my first part of the ride.  It was saying I was riding 35 - 40mph through the parking lot.  It eventually self-corrected.
  • Unfortunately Aaron wasn't able to meet me on the route but he made quite an effort to do so. I applaud him for that!
  • The route was mostly through farmlands.  At one point I was riding along a section of farmland with fenced in livestock.  There was a dog on the inside of the fence running step for pedal with me.  Nearing the end of the property I was expecting the dog to slowdown before it hit the fence.  10 feet... 5 feet.. 1 foot.... still full speed!  I then quickly realized why...  the fence was open and the dog came after me!  I kicked it up and when I started reaching for the water bottle to spray him I guess it decided I didn't have enough meat on this lanky frame of mine and gave up chase.  Whew.
  • Around mile 16 I saw another cyclist on the road.  Finally, a fish to reel in.  After a couple miles I caught up with him but only because he stopped on the hill before my next turn.  At the bottom there was a public safety office with flashing police lights on his car and neon green cones set out.  There was obviously a ride/race going on.  I told the Public Safety officer "I'm going this way" and he didn't stop me, so cool.  I did a little research and this was called the Jack and Coke Bike Ride.  I can get behind that!
  • I love the camaraderie of cyclists.  I love how they always wave at you when passing on the road.
The ride itself was very good.  I tried not to push it too hard.  The temperature did not bother me at all and it was nice having the tailwind most of my route.  I averaged 16.3 moving pace but that is probably inflated with the couple miles of recording my pace of 35 - 40 mph at the start.  I tried to hydrate as much as I could but with the weather as cold as it was I had more snot dripping from my nose than sweat.

Time: 1:38
Distance: 26.8 miles

Transition 2
This went as planned.  I asked TKB to leave the truck out of the garage and have the door up.  I popped off my bike, changed shoes, changed head gear, and off Joe VI and I went!

While I might not have held off speed on the bike I more than made up for it on the run.  We averaged a good 10 minute pace on the run.  I plan to go 8 minute or better next weekend, which more mimics my brick runs.

Time: 1:03
Distance: 6.22 miles

Following the ride, my right foot felt weird.  Almost as if my sock had a wrinkle in it.  After a mile, that all went away and I was back to normal.  The heart rate was definitely running a little on the high side the first mile as well.

I was VERY pleased with how the day went.  My planning proved out as a total success.  Not once did I  regret missing something, nor did I think I brought too much.  While I couldn't fully set up my transition area since T1 and T2 were 27 miles away from each other, I do plan to be minimalistic in the actual layout.  I'll set it up in my living room this week to confirm.

Getting my first OWS out of the way is such a major stress relief.  I hope to get out to Smithville once this week and hopefully get in 700 - 800 meters in.  This OWS was more getting acclimated to the suit and so I didn't really do a good full swim on.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Things Move Quickly

With my first triathlon only 10 days away, I've been working through my checklist of things to do/buy before the event.  A couple items on the list for this week:

  • Bike Tune Up - Completed Monday
  • Read USA Triathlon Rules - Still to do
  • Tri Shorts/Tri Jersey/Tri Suit Purchase - Purchased Tri Shorts and Jersey on Wednesday
  • Wetsuit Tryout - To Do
Since I purchased my wetsuit, I have tried it on once.  It was very tight!  According to my online research, it is suppose to be tight and it is likely the tightest it will ever be before it gets in the water the first time.  Since I feel like I'm close to getting that vein popping out of my neck, I was looking forward to getting it soaked; however, when?   Yes, I could throw it in the tub but I wanted something a little more real.  I was resolved to making sure I had plenty of time ahead of the start of the KC Tri to go for my first swim during my warm-up.

After some discussions with TKB earlier this week, we decided to beg my dad to get the boat ready for the summer (a full month earlier than normal) and go for a swim at Smithville Lake.  In preparation for him saying "no", I started doing some research and talking with people at work.  I finally noticed that the beaches at Smithville Lake are open this early in the year (not the case for Shawnee Mission Park -- the host of the Corporate Challenge Triathlon).  After mentioning this to the person in charge of organizing my company's triathletes, she quickly put me in touch with another gentleman (his name being Scott as well) wanting to do an open water swim this weekend.  So Scott and I connected on the phone and planned our swim.  6am Saturday morning!! I informed Scott this was going to be my first time out in open water with the wetsuit.  I'm hoping he translated this into "I hope you know CPR".

All of this occurred within 30 minutes.  The coordinator then e-mail blasted out to the rest of the company's corporate challenge participants to see if anyone wanted to join us.  No takers so far. 

Now this is working out perfectly!  Not only am I getting that Open Water Swim (OWS) in but the beach is roughly 26 miles to my house; therefore, I've decided to practice Transition 1 and ride my bike home (TKB is awesome enough to get up WAY early and go with me so she'll drive the truck back home).  At home, I will have setup Transition 2 and plan to go for a 10K run.   Even better, Joe VI will be meeting me at home to run with me.  Now if I can only get Aaron convinced to meet me at Smithville for the bike ride.

If you are in the KC area and would like to participate, please let me know.  The more the merrier.  If you want to participate in the Bike/Run, we can work something out where we carpool up to the lake from my house.  (FYI -- Murders need not apply).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Day Has Finally Come...

...that I have finally POSTED!

Actually, it's more related to the fact that the one concern of riding a road bike came to fruition yesterday.  I had my first flat tire on the road!  I got really lucky too as it happened while I was traveling about 35 miles per hour.  I remember looking down in front of my tire and seeing something go right under it.  It looked like a pebble but it could have been the screw of all screws.  I finally heard that "wooooosh" that every biker dreads hearing.  Unfortunately, I now know what it sounds like, too.

Let's take a step back five months to Cycle City when I bought my Felt.  The people at Cycle City and my friend Aaron helped me accessorize my bike with things like tire levers, CO2 cartridges, bike pump, patch kit.  I didn't realize that the tire levers came in two as I almost took back one to Cycle City.

Actually, the one thing I didn't get was spare tubes.  That came a few months later.  The need to take bike maintenance courses was also on the to do list... but is still on the to do list.  The one thing I did do was research how to use the CO2 cartridges and the bike pump.

So back to the "wooooosh".  I managed to go from 35 mph to 0 with no "Scotty fall down and go boom".  I hopped the guard rail with the bike and went to work.  The tire came off just fine.  I inspected the tire and there were no tears/punctures.  The tube, on the other hand, was not in such a great shape.  I didn't even think to try patching it and just went to a new tube.  Slid it in and reseated the tire.  So now it was up to the CO2 cartridge.  The last time I had to deal with CO2 cartridges was in 10th grade shop class when we built  little race cards powered by the cartridges.

So attach the CO2 cartridge to one side of the pump and pump to the presta valve.  Slowly open up the pump valve and viola!

It only took a couple seconds to fill up the tire with the CO cartridge.  I decided not to push it and try topping it off with the manual pump action (and by push it meaning trying to pump manually but only succeeding to deflate the tire); however, I have a feeling that's partially why I got the flat... my tire was not properly inflated.

The rest of my ride I felt much more connected to my bike.  It's like debugging your first program.  Or, for those less geeky, cooking your first meal.  Or, for those less culinary included, ordering your first pizza.  I felt just a bit more capable.

I finally purchased the wetsuit.  Ordered on Tuesday and arrived on Saturday.  I didn't get a chance to try it on until last night.  Tight.  VERY tight.  I did some research today just to make sure it was the right size and it sounds like it will loosen up some the first time it gets wet, so I think it's a perfect fit.

Superhero pose!
Apparently Xterra didn't get my request to sculpt 6 pack abs  in the suit.
Schedule Change
I'm going to take Topeka Tinman off my schedule for this year.  This was supposed to be my first triathlon but instead it would have been my third.  I was suckered asked to do the corporate challenge for my work and will do the sprint triathlon on June 12.  Surprised that a company of this size relies on someone who has never competed in a triathlon to get a participation point.  Since I am already scheduled for KC Tri on May 22 and Hospital Hill Half-marathon on June 4, I have a feeling doing the sprint on June 12 will wear enough on me.  After June 12, I don't have anything on the schedule until mid-July.  I've decided to use the Corporate Challenge triathlon as a free practice for things I screwed up on May 22nd.