Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thank You

Being an age group triathlete there are a lot of things that must fall in place in order to have a successful race.  For example, training must come together at the right time, gear prepped, nutrition tested, registrations purchased, transition bag packed, etc.

This can often be a solitary experience when you are running down a sidewalk at 5:00am on a Saturday morning or concentrating on your swim stroke on the 72nd round trip down the lap lane or nailing that 5th hill repeat on the bike before the sun disappears.  It can be easy to focus on what we need to do as athletes to reach that personal best time or hopefully a podium finish, which inevitably leads to more time in the swim, saddle, or street.

While the human brain does allow for multitasking capabilities, we can truly only focus our whole body on one task at a time.  Other responsibilities are put on hold.  The grass will get mowed later, finances will be reviewed tomorrow, the house will get cleaned... well, never.  Many of us are fortunate enough to have a support network in place that help out with that.

It's that support network that I want to shift the focus of this blog post.  I always talk about my accomplishments, or lack there of, but never really have taken the time to talk about the person that is there for me every day.  Sometimes even waiting for me on the porch to come home from a 40 mile bike ride or a long run.  This post is dedicated to that person, my wife Tricia.

At the very moment this post was published (through the magic of blogger), I should be somewhere around mile 10 on the bike portion of my first half-ironman distance race, Beach2Battleship 70.3.  Getting to this point has been nearly a year long experience.  Purchasing a bike, getting up early to go to the pool before work, spending 3 hours on a bike ride with Joe VI which may be followed by an hour long run.  She has always been there supporting me and encouraging me to push forward.  I greatly appreciate this especially during the time of nursing my broken rib.  She helped me get out the door for a run, even if it was 2 miles, just to keep my fitness and motivation going.

Tricia waits for me to turn the corner running to the finish chute or lumbering out of the swim exit or flying by on my bike.  She is waiting there poised with the camera for that perfect photo to add to my race report.  It's actually a lot of stress on a person!  She has done this all year when I know she would rather set the camera down and enjoy the event for what it is.  Not a photo op but watching me complete a 1 or 2 or 3 hour race that she helped me through by allowing me to get in 10 - 12 hours of training each week.

Our support networks should get a chance to enjoy the experience too as it is just an endurance event for them as it is for us athletes.  So Tricia, if you get a chance to read this while I'm spending 4 - 5 hours riding a bike and running, please put the camera down.  I will be looking for you, waiting to blow that kiss to you whenever I can.  Enjoy this race too.  You deserve it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Race Preview: Beach to Battleship 70.3

Things have definitely changed from when I registered for the race.  My training plan came together and I was rocking it for 10 weeks until the bike accident.  I'm not going to get into the bike accident again but it definitely derailed my plans.  So this is how I'm breaking things down:

Swimming has definitely been hit the most with the rib injury.  When it hurts to body roll and even turn at the end of the lap, I'm going to avoid  The thing with this race is I have the most to benefit from being a bad swimmer.  I've heard the current will cut 15 minutes off of people's swim time.  Not sure I will get that but I'm thinking it will keep my swim time at a normal 2:00 / 100.

Time: 40 Minutes

Word is that the T1 requires a about 1/4 mile run.  I'm just going to tag this with 5 minutes here.  No clue really.

Time: 5 Minutes

I'm feeling comfortable here.  I've gotten 90% of my long ride distances in but I didn't get that speed work in.  I am going to target an 18 - 19 mph here.  Since I decided that I noticed that the worst climb in this bike course is a 38 feet incline over a 6 mile span.  Scary.  So, I'm sticking with my 18 - 19 mph but hoping it will be 20 mph.

Time: 3:00 Hours

I'm going to enjoy some star treatments here as as we hand our bikes off to a volunteer and we are then off to our run.

Time: 3:00 Minutes (still no clue or justification)

Two weeks ago I PR'd my half-marathon at 1:45.  I surprised myself with that.  I'm going to shoot for a 2:00 hour run here.  I think the key to a successful run is nutrition, so I've got my plan set.  More on that later.

Time: 2:00 Hours

40 + 5 + 180 + 3 + 120 = 5 hours, 48 minutes

Pre-Race: Banana's and Bagels, Gatorade G1 right at the start.  Lots of water!
Swim: Hopefully very little water and toenails.
Bike: Eat every 15 minutes by switching off 2 chomps and 1/4 cliff bar.  Gatorade/Water.
Run: One GU every 4 - 5 miles.

I'm planning to consume 350 - 400 calories per hour on the bike and as much liquid as I can carry. (which is about 80 fluid ounces of the water/Gatorade and probably more for what I live off the land).

The Trip
Joe VI and I left on Wednesday and we are currently in Greensboro, NC with Ken and Kyle.  It's been a fun trip but definitely long.  748 miles Wednesday and 318 miles on Thursday.  On Friday we pick up TKB in Raleigh and then caravan with Ken down to Wilmington.  Lauren (Joe's wife) will be flying into ILM airport where we will then do the expo and packet pickup.  I can't believe it is almost here!!

The most fun part of our trip occurred just after we passed through St Louis.  Once on the Illinois side we came up on this vehicle:

Three tri bikes on the back.  So we took a shot.  Joe put his B2B Participant Guide against the window as we passed.  The driver looked and gave us the thumbs up!  They then passed us a few moments later holding theirs!!

Joe then asked them if they are doing full or half by folding the guide in half and they answered by leaving theirs open "full".  It was a hilarious couple minutes.  We followed them for quite a while and then split off from them.  Talk about small world!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Race Report: Kansas City Half Marathon

Going into this race I dropped all expectations.  Had I not been in a funk with training since the bike accident, I probably would have targeted a sub-1:45 finish.  With the emergency room visit on September 30 with a painful "snap" in my back, I almost completely dropped out.  After two weeks of continued timid training, my back was feeling much better.  I even got a 2000 meters swim on October 7!  The plan was set, I was going to do a long run on October 10.  If I survive that run (which followed a 43 mile bike the day before), then the race was ON!

October 10th came and I hit the road at 5pm.  The first 5 miles were OK with an 8:15 average but it went downhill to a 9:15 pace.  At 10 miles I met TKB for her run as she was training for the 5K and went another 2.3 miles.  That was marred with walking, as well as a couple phone calls from work.  Those phone calls turned into a week long sufferfest in front of the computer.  The plan was this... the half marathon was suppose to be a training run from my half ironman in two weeks and so that's exactly what I planned.  Run it in the upper-Z2 range (aerobic) and have fun.  I was even planning to run with the 3:55 marathon pace group as a friend of mine, Ashley, and her twin sister, Melissa, were leading it.  That was the same pace group (and leaders) when I did the full last year.  Obviously, I would turn back at the 7 mile mark and finish it on my own.

I could tell I was going to have trouble sleeping.  I had not gotten to bed before midnight since Sunday and the stress of the work week was still settled into my body.  I hit the bed a little after 9pm and decided to down a melatonin to jump start the sleep cycle.  The 5:00am wake up call from my cell phone came quickly.  For the marathon last year I had a protein fruit smoothie but have since dropped those from my routine.  It's now a toasted bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  I've never been an oatmeal fan and this seems to work just great for me.  For some reason I took a shower before we left for the race.  I think it helps wake me up even more and maybe keeps the Scotty-stink down.  At 5:50am, TKB and I left for the race.

We have learned a nice little tactic for parking at this particular event.  Park in the Lydia's and Jack Stack BBQ parking lot.  There is a pedestrian bridge over the train tracks that leads directly into Union Station, which is a block away from the start. We got there around 6:20am and stayed inside the Link for a while before migrating to Crown Center and Westin to find a bathroom.  This was mostly to avoid the 46° temps.  With long lines in the Center, we eventually went outside but found long lines there too.  (This is one reason I get to events an hour before the start, to get in line and not keep searching for the shortest one... which we should have just stuck with the first spot, frankly).  At least during our hunt I found Mark (or rather, he spotted us) and got to say Hi and wish him luck.

Waiting inside before the start.  Trying to stay warm.
Eventually I decided that I was fine and, in desperation, I could stop at the on-course Port-a-Johns.  I took off for the start.

I eventually found the 3:55 pace group and chatted with Ashley for a bit.  I did feel a little self-conscious about hanging out with the hardcore marathoners but decided to get over it.  I was "accepted" when Melissa gave me a 3:55 pace band.  OK, she gave it to me before I told her I was running the half.  They want to get rid of those things before the start so they don't have to contend with them during the run, so I'm happy to oblige.

One thing I've noticed during the National Anthem as it really should be renamed as the "Acquiring Satellites Anthem" since you hear hundreds of Garmin "beeps" go off during the song.

The start was pretty anti-climatic as you are a hundred yards away from the start line.  I'm sure had this been my first marathon or half or whatever I would have more emotions into it.  After a few moments of shuffling, we finally got across the timing mat and on our way!

Race - Miles 1 - 3
I chatted with a couple guys during the first two miles.  I actually started getting concerned about my race at that time as I was actually having trouble keeping up the conversation with labored breathing but I had to reinforce that it was just the warm-up miles.  I stayed in front of Ashley and Melissa during this time.  When I hit the aid station I had the choice to either slow down, continue my pace, or pick it up.  Looking at my heart rate, I decided to pick it up as it was in the lower-Z2 range.  Before the turn onto Pershing, I caught up with the 3:50 pace group and then heard "Scotty!".  I turned around and it was Drew from Twitter!  He had told me earlier that he was running 3:50 and I had forgotten to look for him.  We chatted for a few minutes and then I was off to go up Kessler, a 150 foot ascent in half a mile.

During the ascent I decided, per my usual mid-race M.O., to forgo the plan and just run.  Sure, I'll run by heart rate.  If Heart Rate > 0, then keep going.  I was in the 170s during the hill and feeling good.  My plan then changed to see if I could catch-up with Mark.  Unfortunately, I wasn't sure if he was in the 1:40 or 1:45 pace group.

Pace - 10:00, 9:21, 8:33

Race - Miles 4 -7
This section of the course is pretty much downhill or flat and I picked up some great time with splits of 7:46, 7:23, 7:24, 7:09.  By the time I hit mile 7 I had already passed the 3:35 marathon pace group but had only caught up to (and passed) the 1:50 half-marathon pace group.

I was beginning to feel the pains of my faster than normal pace while on 47th street through the Plaza.  Cardio-wise I was doing well, mechanically the legs were starting to speak up.   I took a Gu in the 5 mile area.

Race - Miles 8 - 10.5
The last major hill of the course as you are pretty much ascending nearly 200 feet for this entire 2.5 miles.  There are no flats or downs, you just have to do it. I began thinking about the "Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional" quote to get me through it.  The heart rate was actually lower than I thought it would by being in the upper 160s (upper Z3 for me -- anaerobic).

Pace: 7:32, 8:09, 8:16

Race - Miles 10.5 - 13.1
Finally, pretty much all downhill.

I figured by now I would see the 1:45 pace group and I think I saw the pace sign waving in the distance.  I didn't figure Mark would be with this group anyway, regardless if he started with them or not. So I just kept focus on my breathing, which was surprising calm.  I wasn't breathing like it was my last breath but my legs really weren't happy with me.  I'm sure if my legs could control my arms they would have slapped me.

During one of the sections I saw Coach Eladio Valdez of The Runner's Edge.  He was also the designer of the course.  He had a megaphone and actually congratulated me by name (because it was written on my bib... outside of meeting him at Hospital Hill in 2010 for one of his speeches, he wouldn't really recognize me).  I'm thinking that Joe VI and I might want to participate in the Runner's Edge next year.

After the final turn I could see the finish line and tried to take off.  I crossed the finish in 1:45:51 minutes!

Kickin' it!
Pace: 7:30, 7:15, 7:37, 7:23

After getting my timing chip cut off by some kid who probably held his breathe the entire time, I ran into Mark in the finish chute.  He had finished a few minutes ahead of me with 1:42.  Pretty darn good for a first half marathon time! We walked up through the food area and I grabbed whatever I could, 'cuz I'm greedy like that.  Mark took off to watch his girlfriend Rachael cross the finish line.  She was also running her first half as well.  Congrats to both of them!

After catching up with TKB and Megan, we walked around a little bit and then took off for home.  After showering and then a cat nap, we discussed lunch options.  We had a friend who was running the marathon and we realized that if we left pretty soon, we could actually catch him finish.  Hopped in the car and back down to the finish line.  We were able to watch Ben finish in 5 hours and 35 seconds.  Congrats Ben!

Of course the real post-race meal was about to commence as we went to Oklahoma Joe's for lunch.

Considering I wanted to go sub-1:45 before my training trailed off, I'm pretty happy.  Joe VI and I are planning a 55 mile ride on Sunday.  I plan to follow that up with a 2000 meter swim on Monday, so that should be my last big training push before the Half ironman on October 29.  I'm in great spirits for it now!

  • Perfect weather for running.  I almost put on my Under Armour base layer shirt for extra warmth (it's actually not for cold weather so it's pretty thin) but I think I would have over-heated.
  • Health Expo - I think they do a pretty good job with the booths, although it's pretty standard stuff.
  • Packet Pickup - Quick and painless.  If you forgot to print off your receipt before arriving, you may have had to contend with a pretty long line to get one there.
  • Post-Race - Lots of fruit, yogurt, chocolate milk, rolls, pretzels.  They had beer but I don't know what kind as we decided to skip that.  This was much improved than last year.
  • Course - This is a challenging course but it's well stocked with aid stations.

To be honest, I couldn't think of anything bad.  I know I complained earlier about not making it to the port-a-potties because of the lines, but I think that was my fault for not getting there soon enough.  They had a bunch of port-a-potties, plus the Crown Center holes.

TKB (right) and Megan (left) waiting for me to finish.
Yeah, it's upside-down.  It's an artsy photo, you figure it out ;).
I feel sorry for the rest of the world who doesn't get to enjoy Oklahoma Joe's BBQ.  Beef Brisket Z-Man, Fries, Burnt Ends. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Half-Ironman Training - September

It's amazing how things turn around so quickly.  I was going from a nearly sub-20 minute 5k performance to planning the 2012 season as my Boston Qualifying season.  My Half-Ironman training was ramping up pretty hard.  I was feeling great... feeling like a svelte runner/triathlete.  I was ready to finish the remaining two months with confidence.

Then some kid took a dump in a pool.

I took September 1st off from work.  One reason was actually triathlete related, but I'll get to that at a much later time.  I knew I could get a good workout in.  I decided to ride my bike to the gym at 5:30am for a swim and then do a 25 mile bike ride since the sun would be out to light my way; however, the gym's pool was closed due to Cryptosporidium.  I took off on my 25 mile ride anyway.  To make a long story short, I wrecked my bike.  6.5 hours into the month of September and I was in trouble.

The rest of the month of September pretty much sucked.  I skipped 90% of my workouts due to various reasons.  My goal was to still get in my long workouts and I was successful with that.  The midweeks workouts stopped.  My knee was really scrapped up and took a couple weeks to look decent.  I stayed out of the pool due to my knee and also because the ribs were sore enough to make body rolling painful.  I tried to keep midweek runs in and trainer rides but work was also getting in the way.

I did visit the doc early on and he gave me some medicine to help with swelling.  It was still sore all the way to September 30, so I went in for x-rays.  The phone call came and the verdict was a fractured rib.  It's been over a month and still a fractured rib!  Well, at roughly 5:30pm on September 30 (6.5 hours left to go in September), I was sitting in traffic when I felt a "pop" in my back.  Within seconds I had a wave of a nausea and lightheadedness.  Something wasn't right.

I was meeting up with TKB and Heather for dinner before they went to a play and decided to call TKB to come get me as I pulled over in downtown.  Heather arrived first and then TKB arrived to take me to North KC Hospital.  I was concerned it was fully broken.  I could feel every bump in the road.

So here we go, ANOTHER set of x-rays for the day.  And the results?  A fractured rib 7th rib on the right side.  Duh.  I already knew that.  I'm just not sure how bad it is compared to earlier that day or back on September 1.  My plan is to call the doc on Monday and see what his thoughts are.

So, what are my race plans?  Unchanged but I'm willing to adjust.  As I texted my half ironman training/race partner, Joe VI: "It may mean I just start drinking 6 hours before you." I do have a half-marathon training race on October 15 that I might cancel.  I'll make it a race day decision.  As long as I can a get a good run in next weekend, I'll still go for it.  My real concern is getting my mileage up for Rock'n Roll Las Vegas Marathon.  We'll see.

So, let's review:

Swimming: 0 meters ->  This may be a big issue for Beach2Battleship.  Thankfully I can just ride the current in my buoyant wetsuit for most of the swim :)
Bike: 125 miles / 8 hours, 19 minutes
Run: 48 miles / 7 hours, 27 minutes
Volleyball: I think I only made it once this month.  Probably going to put myself on the PUP list.
Weights:  Why do I even bother putting this on here?

Overall I probably missed 50% of my planned miles due to making most of my long runs/rides but missing the planned speed work.  I will say that I likely used my back/rib as an excuse to spend some more time in front of the computer as I have started working on my long planned iPhone/iPad app for a website I help run.  (OK, I said in my opening post that I might geek out in non-athlete stuff... don't worry, I'll keep it at a minimum).

Well, we will see how the month of October turns out.  It is my favorite month of the year, plus it's our 10th Anniversary month!