Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The North Face Endurance Challenge - When Trails Meets Road

For going on 5 years, The North Face Endurance Challenge has been pitting runners against the trails of the US, with locations including Bear Mountain, NY, Washington, DC, Madison, WI, Atlanta, GA, and San Francisco, CA.  Each venue has varying distances from 5k to a 50 mile ultra-marathon.

For the first time ever, The North Face Endurance Challenge is leaving the trails for the concrete and is offering a road race challenge.  The site chosen for this even?  None other than our beloved Kansas City!  Anyone familiar with Kansas City knows that the hills are very challenging and is a perfect location for the inaugural endurance event!

The Kansas City road race will have 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon, Marathon, Marathon Relay, and 50K distances, as well as a 1k Kids Race!  The web site indicates that there is not a 50 mile ultra-marathon but may be considered for future events based on interest.  The event takes place on August 27 and August 28

For this race, I have put together a relay team of my brother Mike, Joe VI, and Kristen.  Team Stompin Sloppies goes marathon relayin'!

As with any new event in KC, we need to come out strong and make the race organization proud of their decision to have chosen Kansas City as the proving grounds for a The North Face Endurance Road Race Challenge!!!  If you want to step up to the challenge, click on the image below to register!!

Click Here to Register for The North Face Endurance Challenge

Monday, June 27, 2011

Half-Ironman Training Day 1: Four "Showers" In 30 Minutes

Rain gauges love it this time of year.  They get so much attention and last night didn't disappoint.  A couple storms flew through and one hit right about the time I went to the gym.  Determined to start my Half-Ironman Training (HIM) training, I hoped in the truck and drove to the gym.  Normally I park pretty far from the entrance but today I parked as close as I could but I still managed get drenched, including my work shirt.  Not a big deal as it would have plenty of time to dry off while I swam.

I then noticed another issue.  Most of the lights in the gym were off.  People were still in the vestibule waiting for the doors to be unlocked but the pool lights were definitely off.  Kent, the cheery eyed front desk clerk, informed us that the pool was closed due to no lights.  Crap.  I was standing there in my jammers with few other workout options. I quickly did a mental "audible" and decided to get to work early so I could leave early and do my swim after work. I would then follow it up with my bike ride.  Sweet... I'm getting my first brick session in on day 1!

I hopped in the shower and as I got out, I noticed another guy in his jammers heading to the pool.  He told me that the lights are on.  Sweet!  I can get my swim in. Crap!  My towel is wet from my shower!  Eh, I can deal.  I did my "quick" 1000 meters and then back to the showers.

While it was annoying that my plan was adjusted a minuscule amount, I got it in.  I'm so glad I have a plan now after the first 6 months of just floating between swim, bike, run.  I'm sure that I would have just skipped the workout altogether had no plan existed.

So let's recap:

Shower #1: Running from car to gym
Shower #2: First Shower in the locker room
Shower #3: 1000 meter swim
Shower #4: Second Shower in the locker room

In roughly 30 minutes.  Go me.

Schedule Change
I have officially added the Kansas City Half-Marathon in October to my race schedule.  I plan to run the half where last year I ran the full.  I'm hoping to do a large brick session with this race in preparation to Beach2Battleship two weeks later.

I also have officially added The North Face Endurance Challenge (well, it's been on my list for nearly a month) but I have finally registered. This time we are doing it as a team but more on that in a few days.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seventy Point Three

Last year I went from four to twenty-six point two in my first year of running.  This year, I'm making another big jump and just inked the last triathlon of my rookie season: PPD Beach2Battleship -- a half-ironman race!!!

This race has been on my mind since December 24, 2010 when Kyle brought it up while enjoying some Christmas Eve drinks.  I hadn't purchased a bike yet but I was almost ready to sign up for the race back then.  No, it wasn't the three whiskey and cokes (or Vodka 7's... I can't remember... wonder why?) but this race has many benefits.  For example, the race takes place in Wilmington, NC.  This geographical location is perfect:

  • 3.5 hours to Charlotte, where TKB's brother and sister-in-law live
  • 5.25 hours to Valle Crucis, NC where TKB's parents live
  • 3.5 hours to Greensboro, NC where Ken and Kyle live.
  • 30 minutes away from our favorite vacation spot, Topsail Island, NC.  We are turning this trip into a 10 year anniversary vacation for us!

Just like I did with my marathon in 2010, I have put a HIM (Half-ironman) training plan together.  I'm looking at an 18 week plan and will probably tweak it this week before it truly starts on June 27.

Even more important is the trip planning.  We hope to spend ample time with friends and family while in NC, so we are focusing on finding a great beach house for everyone to congregate.  Seeing that it will be off-season, the only trouble we may have is finding one that hasn't been closed up for the winter.

About the Race
Beach2Battleship (B2B for short but not to be confused by the other B2B race I did this year, Brew-to-Brew) is in its fourth year.  It is a point-to-point race with separate transitions.  The race starts in the Atlantic Ocean and ends at the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial.  In 2010 it received recognition from Triathlete magazine as the fifth top triathlon in the world.  It is produced by Setup Events.
  • 1.2 Mile Swim - Takes place in a channel in the atlantic ocean but the incoming tides can shed 5 - 10 minutes off of triathletes swim time.
  • 56 Mile Bike - Known for being a flat course.
  • 13.1 Mile Run - Also a flat course with a few nasty hills around the entrance to the battleship.
There is a full-iron component of this race but I didn't feel like I could fully dedicated the time for it.  I plan to train smart using appropriate heart-rate zones but I still need to learn what those truly are.  I hope to talk about those in future blog posts.

I'm going to continue participating in races for the next four months.  I want to get two or three more triathlons under my belt and I am planning another road race (or two) as well.

Before I go much further, it's time to call the doctor and do that all important yearly physical.  Better make sure he gives me the thumbs up first.

I'm extremely excited about this and I hope you enjoy following me on this journey!

Race Update: Kansas City Corporate Challenge - Team DST

Finally, the DST Team photo.  Many folks are not pictured that participated.

In my race report I mentioned Ron a couple times.  He was my fellow age grouper and is in grey in the front.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Race Report: Topeka Tinman Sprint Triathlon

For a race that was originally scheduled to be my first triathlon, this was now a relatively calm week leading up to Topeka Tinman.  I got a swim and bike ride in (commute to work) but I didn't get a run in.  In fact, I don't think I had gotten a quality training run in since before Hospital Hill.  Frankly, I am fine with that.

Friday night Shane came over for some tasty Zucchini Carbonara and informed us Heather wouldn't be carpooling on Saturday morning but rather joining us at the race with their kiddos.  Shane brought his bike over to speed up tomorrow's departure as we would be leaving at 5:00am.  I was driving so I put the bikes on the truck Friday night.

Go Team Felt!

Friday night we had a nasty storm come through during the night and it woke me.  I checked the radar at that time and it looked like another one was coming and might hit Topeka just about the time we would be setting up transition.  This was about to get interesting.

This was taken around 4:45am
The alarm went off pretty early at 4:15am.  Toasted Bagel with Peanut Butter and Banana for breakfast.  We made it over to Shane's house by 5:00am and then hit the road for the 1 hour drive to T-town.  The sky was menacing as the sun lit it up from behind the clouds; however, the oncoming storm was on the north side of I-70.  I checked the radar and it looked like Topeka had some invisible power that split that storm in half.  It looked like it was going to be a dry race.

We arrived around 6:00am and parked in a large grass field.  From the field we could already tell things didn't go well with the storm that came through around midnight.  Even though we were parked about a third of a mile from the transition area, we could hear the Race Director (RD) announce over the PA system "We have finally opened up the transition area but we do not expect a delay to the race".  This meant the race was 45 minutes behind schedule.

Shane and I continued our last minute prep at the truck when we heard the RD announce "If you see our finish line while on the bike route, please record the GPS coordinates and let us know when you return".  Oh fun.  Well, off to the transition area!

Our Tron backpacks are fully charged!! (Joke via TKB)
The RD also told triathletes not to pay attention to the buoys.  Apparently the storm really ripped up all the work put in on Friday.  The buoys had gotten blown from their original placement.

The transition area was grouped together by of bib number.  In some twist of fate that I have yet to figure out, Shane's Bib Number was 283 and mine was 284.  We setup our transition area together and then off to get marked.

Shane... don't fart.
I should have told her to write the numbers smaller so my arms look bigger.
After we got marked we picked up our chips and then found the 10 or so port-a-potties.

Chip Pickup
Since this was the first time either of us had participated in Topeka Tinman, we scoped out the swim/bike/run entrance and exists.  It was very confusing but we chalked that up to the storm moving around/knocking over the signage.  We took comfort knowing that there would be plenty of people in front of us during the race that we would just follow their lead.

Walking around I found Mark (YoungEnough2Tri) in the transition area and chatted about the race and discussed this being one of our first triathlons.  Mark was hitting the short course like Shane and me.

What Up Mark!
By now it was 7:45 and time to head to the swim start.  I grabbed the white swim cap and traded the glasses for my swim goggles.  While there, Shane and I ran into another Twitter Triathlete (Twiathlete?), Travis (tberkley).  Travis was participating in the long course.

That's Travis in the blue swim cap.  Tricia had already separated from us so she didn't get a good group photo.
Yes, I'm still getting rid of "the plague" as I hold my cough in.

Swim - 400 Meters

Our wave (Males 30 - 39) hit the drink at 8:06am in the 76 degree water.  I was trying to be a bit more competitive in my swim start.

That's me right in the middle.

What you don't see is the shoreline is about 30 meters wide and people were starting from all angles.
I'm getting tired of fighting through slower swimmers (and yes, I now feel confident in saying that); however, I apparently did not.  I almost immediately got stuck behind a couple guys doing some weird breast stroke/doggy paddle variations.  I think my hand actually nailed some dude's butt crack.  HELLO!  I never got comfortable in the swim and amazingly I hit the 200 meter turn around before I knew it.

After the turn around, I did get into some kind of groove trying a 2 stroke, breath, 3 stroke, breath rhythm but it wasn't long before I ran into another dude who apparently took off too strong too early.  I even passed a guy from the first wave (we were the third wave).

Time: 6:42 / 1:41
AG Rank: 21 / 33

Transition 1

Being almost blind (a bit of an exaggeration) I keep my prescription goggles on until I get to my back to trade in the prescription sunglasses.
Coming out of the water, I definitely felt like I went through a washing machine.  A little disoriented and queazy.  I was breathing hard and the long run from the beach to transition didn't help.  Thinking through my transition there are two things that slow me down.  One is putting on my bike shoes and the other being my race belt.  Because I like to do the GPS tracking so TKB can watch me on the course, I have my cell phone in the race belt's pocket.  I have a tendency to fumble around with the extra weight of the phone in the pocket.

I doubt I will ever stop the tracking, so I need to practice putting on the belt with wet hands.  I also prefer to have the belt on during the bike as it is one less thing to worry about during T2.
Fumbling on the bike.. need to get much better clipping into my pedals.  Also, see that guy in a red/black jersey on the right.  More on him later.

Time: 2:12
AG Rank: 10 / 33

Bike - 13 Miles
I was breathing hard on the bike.  My heart rate was in the 170s and I would really like to see it in the 150s for most of the bike.  Fortunately the route had few turns and was mostly flat or slow inclines.  I was able to get it back down but it averaged 164.  I tried taking in extra hydration due to the humidity picking up but the temperature was actually comfortable.

The route was an out and back.  The course was not completely closed to traffic but there were policemen at the main intersections.  It had some rolling hills but nothing too steep.  Being the third wave, I had plenty of males and females under 29 to pass and was doing a decent job of it.  I had a few people pass me on their expensive tri bikes and race wheels (hmmm... maybe next year).

The last half of the bike course was me playing leapfrog with another athlete (the dude from above).  He had a fancy tri bike and a storm trooper bike helmet (aka, aero helmets). I caught him on the hills and he eventually caught me on the flats.  We kept passing each other right up to the dismount.  He passed me coming up to it but I was more prepared for the dismount.

About to jump off the bike!
 My guess is I was going 8 - 9 mph when I jumped off the bike.  My feet slid a bit.

See ya, buddy!  (frantically trying to slow my roll)

Time: 40:29 / 19.3 mph
AG Rank: 6 / 33

Transition 2
Pretty straight forward.  Bike racked.  Socks, Shoes, Hat on.  GO!

Time: 1:10
AG Rank: 15 / 33

Run - 3 Miles
The run was an out and back with a small u-turn on the 8 foot wide path.  In T2 I really wanted to take another swig of gatorade but decided I'd get one at the first aid stations.  I poorly assumed there would be one within the first quarter mile.  In fact, there wasn't one until the turn around.

The humidity was picking up and I had a hard time breathing at the start because it was coming on thick.     At least it seemed like that to me.  The route starts on the road but then follows a path through the park.  You run past a campground (mmm....  campfire smoke) and then a golf course (FORE!).  The course had some hills to it but, again, nothing to steep.

I kept an eye on my Garmin trying to stay sub-8 for the course.  I really want to see that dip to sub-7:30 for my next triathlon but that will definitely take some work as it is a long distance.  The body was feeling good, I just didn't have the steam in me to chug along at a faster pace.

Woo Hoo!  Almost there!
Shane flying through the chute.
Time: 23:43 / 7:55
AG Rank: 13 / 33

I really enjoyed this race and I'm thinking that I would enjoy sticking with sprint distances.  We'll see.  At this point in my triathlon career, I'm feeling like I'm getting into a groove.  I see where I need to improve, such as the run after the bike, but I know everything could use work.  I know it's only been three triathlons, but I'm still waiting to have a better swim component so I can really find out what kind of swimmer I am.

For Tinman specifically, it turned out to be just a wonderful day considering the threat of storms in the morning.  The event was put on pretty well, but it was confusing with where the entrance/exists were.  We saw one long distance athlete leave the wrong side of the transition area on his run.

Follow-up on the dude on the bike.  He apparently made it out of T2 faster than I did because I passed him on the run.  The reason he made it out faster?  He was running in Birkenstock type of sandals.  I chatted with him after the race and he apparently only brought one of his running shoes.  Oops!

Time: 1:14:17
AG Rank: 8 / 33
Overall: 50 / 201

The Breakdown
  • The Good
    • Finishers Award - A pint glass.  I'm not a huge fan of the logo as it was etched in the glass but I love having a "free" pint glass to add to the collection.

    • Post-Race Grub - They had kids handing out PowerAde and cold water but Hy-Vee was grilling hot dogs and hamburgers.  While they weren't grade A meat, it was a nice switch-up from the standard fair.  They had Gatorade there with apples and bananas.  No chocolate milk though.
    • A suitable amount of volunteers to help out and cheer you on.  They all had their work cut out for them reassembling the transition and finishing chute from the storms.
  • The Bad
    • The Emcee on the microphone (which I am assuming is the Race Director).  I know it was a crazy day with the storms and he did a decent job discussing how things were going to take place but there were a few times he was making fun of the athletes (such as those short course athletes in wetsuits).  Not cool in my book... even if it was deserved ;).
    • Confusing transition area.  We eventually gave up trying to figure it out. For instance, if you see in the photo where I am jumping off the bike, the sign says "Bike Mount"; however, that was actually on the other end of the transition.
    • The swim exit (entrance into the transition area) was the same Bike In area.  This meant people on the swim (disoriented) and bike (exhausted yet speedy) were potentially crashing in together.
    • The post-race food was quite a ways from the chute.  This might have been by design because they were actually selling the food to non-athletes (which was poorly designed as I just grabbed an extra hotdog for the little lady while I was there).
  • The Standard
    • Packet Pickup. 20 minute wait for less than 10 minutes in line.  Seemed like they could use a few more computers.
    • Goodie bag.  Hammer Gel and Tech T-Shirt.  Nothing special.
    • Communication.  I registered a week before the event, so I only received one e-mail communication.  I couldn't find a twitter/facebook account other than the Ultramax social media.
    • Aid Stations: Only one on the short course.  Even KC Corporate Challenge had 3 and it was only 2.4 miles.
    • Post-Race.  I touched on that above.  Not bad.
    • Parking.  Sufficient for the size of the participants but a decent hike to the transition area.
    • Porties.  8 or 10 plus flush toilets near by.  I never noticed a big line.
    • Volunteers.  Sufficient.
The Proof
The Garmin Button Press and One Legged Pirate Pose -- Out of the water!

Shane out of the water!

Running out of the transition.

Shane readying his bike dismount.

Shane walking on air.

This is why TKB comes to triathlons... dog watching.

This is the GPS tracking that I do.  I'm headed back to the finish chute, so TKB better start watching for me!


Proof that the $5,000 finish line did exist at some point.  Apparently they found it half a mile away. Taken from the Ultramax Facebook page.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Update: Kansas City Corporate Challenge Traithlon

Note: I intended to post this on Thursday, June 16 but decided to wait for a photo to post with it.  Since I haven't gotten that photo yet, I'm not waiting any longer.  I will have my Topeka Tinman Triathlon Race Report up in the next day or so.

It can be satisfying when you put a lot of work into something and finally see some results, regardless of how arbitrary those results are.  Well, I got results on the KC Corporate Challenge Tri that just made my day.

I got 6th place in my Division/Age Group for the KC Corporate Challenge Triathlon!  
Now, a 6th place finish is definitely not podium worthy.  I didn't get some shiny medal or cash prize; however, the point of Corporate Challenge is to pit your company's employees against other like-sized companies' employees.  Each person who participates gets a point simply for finishing.  If you are one of the top 8 in the division and age group (AG), you get more points.  If you are in the top 3 of the division, you get even more.  Coming in 6th yielded an extra 3 points for my company.  So, yes.. I guess I did get a prize!

I don't consider myself that competitive in nature but of course I looked to see what it would have taken to even move up to fifth place.  I would need to shave off 98 seconds.  To have landed in 4th place?  117 seconds.  Yes... I do see why people spend many a dollar on equipment that will shave seconds off of their time.

So what can I do?
  • Planning to more competitively line up for the swim.  I definitely was slowed trying to get around people or waiting for the traffic jam on the curves.
  • Start looking at other options for tightening up shoe-laces and possibly going sans socks (for short distances).  Possibly a different style of running shoe.
  • Better mounts on the bike.  Getting my feet in my shoes while on the bike seems daunting due to the style of shoe I have, I can at least be more efficient jumping on the bike for the mount.
  • Hope that the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon is always on the same weekend as the Kansas Ironman 70.3.  I know multiple people who went to the IMKS that likely would have blown me out of the water/road/run.  My 6th place finish was out of 18 in my Division and Age Group.
  • The whole improved training plan might help as well.  Especially if it includes speedwork.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Race Preview: Topeka Tinman

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

When I first put my inaugural triathlon schedule together, this was to be my very first triathlon.  As it turned out, it will be my third.  That's probably wise because Topeka is over an hour away, and considering my incessant need to keep time on my side leading up to the shotgun start, that would mean I would probably leave at 2:00am for a 5:30am transition open if it were my first.

Later, I took this off my list because I was planning to do the Kansas City Triathlon and Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon.  When you include Hospital Hill Half-Marathon, four events in five weeks seemed way too much.  Since the KC Corporate Challenge distance was pretty short, I decided to put it back on the list.

I will be participating in the sprint distance (400 meters swim, 13 mile bike, and 3 mile) run with Shane.  The plan is to carpool over with Shane, Heather, and TKB in the morning but I don't think I want to figure out what time yet.  Our wave won't start until 8:06am, so we probably don't need to show up right at the transition opening.

Note about Heather and Shane.  I ran Brew-to-Brew, Trolley Run, and recently Hospital Hill with Shane.  These are absolutely great people.  I have known Heather since I was in kindergarten and she introduced me to TKB while at college.  I'm stoked about finding yet another reason to hang out with them!

Temps are probably going to be in low-80s at the start, so it is going to be a hot one.  Not sure what the water temperature is but I don't think 400 meters will make it worth bringing the wetsuit.  Given the shorter distance swim, I think I'm going to line up more competitively and count the bruises and black eyes later.

Social Media EXPLOSION!
Per usual, I will publish a Glympse on my Facebook and Twitter (which you can find on the right side of the blog), so check those locations around 8:00am CT on Saturday.  It won't track me on the swim, but once I strap my race-belt on for the bike, it will show my location on a map.  When you tie the Glympse with Ultramax live video feed of the finish line, you'll easily be able to watch me cross the finish line of the triathlon, assuming I can find it.

Drinky Drinky
Lastly, what's with triathlons and pint glasses?  For KC Triathlon, participants received a pint glass as part of the goodie bag.  The finishers of Tinman receive an etched pint glass.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it.  I decided this year that as part of my "major" events I want a pint glass as a souvenir.  I'm kind of bummed that Hospital Hill doesn't have one because I would purchase it just like I did for Kansas City Marathon.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Race Report: Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon

Back in April I was asked to be a backup for the 30 - 39 Age Group Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon for my company.  Back then I still hadn't participated in a Triathlon and wasn't sure if I would even like doing one.  I eventually accepted the backup position and was soon put into an actual participant role once one of the two participants backed out.  He had already signed up for the the Ironman Kansas 70.3, which was to take place the same day.  This was to be a trial run of things that I wanted to improve upon after the Kansas City Triathlon but before my next "real" race.

If you follow me on Twitter or read my Hospital Hill Half Marathon race report, you will remember that I developed a cold and it really impacted my ability to train this week.  No swim, no run, no bike.  I've also been trying to catchup at work each evening, so my priorities were a bit out-of-whack.  Even still, I still have some residual effects today.

Pre-Race - Saturday
I pulled up my triathlon checklist and made a few changes related to my new toys (Garmin Forerunner 310xt and Edge 800).  Saturday afternoon was packet pickup and athlete meeting.  TKB and I took our bikes down to ride the bike route; however, I rode the route backwards.  Oops.

Pre-Race - Sunday
Alarm kicked off at 4:30am.  I was definitely still fighting some lingering effects of that cold because I was really comfy in bed.  I forced myself out and got dressed.  Bagel with peanut butter and a banana consumed.  By a little after 5:00am, TKB and I were off!

TKB was quite a trooper getting up early to go with me.  We parked in the Theatre In The Park parking lot where I hopped on the bike and TKB rested in the Trailblazer for another hour.

There were no preassigned transition areas.  The earlier you get there, the better the options.  I decided to setup closer to the swim transition entrance and run exit.  Transition setup, potty break, and went from a little jog on the run course.

Not sure what it means, but my front wheel always leans a little to the left on the rack.  Maybe I should have that checked out.

My transition area got smaller with the aero bars.  Thanks Aaron!
Around 6:15-ish, I ran into my company's other 30 - 39 age group participant, Ron.  TKB also arrived from the spectator bus about that time.  I took her to the marina's restroom to avoid the pit toilets.  At that point I took off to admire the water.

The swim is essentially a point-to-point race.  You start at the beach and end at the marina (where the transition area is); however, the only way to quickly get to the beach from the marina is to actually swim there.  Some might complain but it gives you a warm up swim. I met up with Ron around 6:50 and we chatted with a guy from Hallmark, American Century, and Wilson & Company.  The first wave started at 7:00am but our wave was at 7:50.  There was a 30 minute gap between the first and second waves.  The team triathlon were the first wave who swam at 1500 meters and then they removed some of the buoys for the individual triathletes (500 meters).

We swam over in the 80 degree water to the start around 7:30 and waited until they forced us to move over to the actual starting pin. The air temp was around 63 degrees.   I took time to tighten up my goggles because my left side leaked in me during the warm-up.  The start of the swim was in the water, so we were about knee deep (everyone hunched down in the water).  I lined up in the back half of the group.

At 7:50 we were off!  I didn't protect myself as much as KC Tri and had to contend with quite a few people.  I felt like I was fighting way too much and may consider lining up a closer to the front for future triathlons.  I find it hard to believe that this was truly 500 meters.  It sure seemed a lot longer than that.  I apparently didn't have my Garmin setup for swim calculations, because it record .8 miles and the map was all over the place.

My understanding is that the watch wouldn't show actual route if it was set correctly.

My swim technique wasn't that great but I also didn't have my wetsuit.  I felt my legs dropping quite a bit but could never get in a good groove.  Two strokes and a breath pretty much the entire way.  I had some trouble sighting, so will need to work on it.  I did stay relatively close to the buoys though.  The first turn had plenty of traffic and had to tread for a few moments until things cleared up.

Can you see me?  I'm the one in the water.

Time: 11:30 / 2:18 pace
Rank: 90 / 215

Transition 1
No wetsuit to contend with but there was nearly a .1 of a mile jog to the transition area.  I felt like I did much better than KC Tri.  I didn't bother with eating chomps or fumbling with gloves.  I almost felt like I was forgetting something.

The ever important Garmin button press shot.
Time: 1:54
Rank: 54 / 215

My mount still isn't worth watching.  I'm not jumping on the bike but instead of fighting with the clips I start pedaling with whatever grip I can get and clip-in later.  This worked pretty well.  I tried to push it pretty hard and was passing people left and right (well, hopefully more on the left).  This course has some pretty nasty hills, no real long hills but a couple nasty short ones.  I powered through most of them and kept passing people.  As good as it felt, I always had two things in mind:

  1. Many people out there were going for participation points.  It seemed like 20% of the bikes were mountain bikes.  Being the last wave, there were plenty of people to catchup to.
  2. Ironman Kansas was going on this day.  I know of a few people that did that instead of Corporate Challenge.  That means good things for me :).
The bike course is 4.5 miles per loop and the individual triathletes do two loops.  I do want to work on hills simply to focus on the correct gearing and cadence.  Anyone have Lance Armstrong's phone number?

The biggest issue I had was on the second lap.  I dropped my water bottle putting it in the cage.  I've done this on training rides before and it isn't a big deal to stop to get it; however, mid-race?  I didn't even second guess it when I waved goodbye to it.  I just hope no one ran over it.  Fortunately, I was in a pretty open space when it happened.

Time: 30:23 / 17.8mph
Rank: 86 / 215

Transition 2
About .2 of a mile to go I slipped out of my shoes and prepped for a "flying dismount".  I put my bare feet on my shoes that were still clipped into the pedals.  About 40 feet from the dismount line I balanced on my left pedal and jumped off just in time.  I've practiced this twice before and its a keeper!  Ran to my transition.  Slipped on socks/shoes/hat and off!  Well, after I put another athletes bike back on the rack when it popped off after I mounted my bike.

Look Ma!  No shoes!
Time: 1:07
Rank: 106 / 215

This is a 2.4 mile route in which you travel with the bike course for a mile and then into the Shawnee Mission Park trail system for the rest.  Both miles were a 7:55 split with the last .4 at 8:16.  Much room for improvement with training.  There were plenty of hills on this course as well.  A 130 feet incline in roughly a 1/3 of a mile to start off.  Fortunately, there were plenty of downs and I even went "Pheobe" for a few yards on one (just having fun, right).

I wanted to push it pretty hard but just need to do more speedwork training.  I just didn't want to be passed by any other age groupers near the end, but that wasn't successful.  The last .4 of a mile is mostly all uphill.

Wow.  I sorta look like I know what I'm doing!

Time: 19:05 / 7:57
Rank: 79 / 215

Quite happy with my finish only because I know I can do better (which probably means I should be mad at myself).  I just need to space out my races so I don't give myself the excuse of perpetual tapering.  This was the third race in 4 weeks with Topeka Tinman this coming Saturday.  Once Tinman is over, I'll be returning to Shawnee Mission Park to participate in the Shawnee Mission Triathlon on July 10.

I can probably find this facial expression in a race photo for each race... which is unfortunate.

Time: 1:03:56
Rank: 73 / 215
Division: 21 / 65

  • Good
    • It's pretty well organized.  I don't know how many Corporate Challenge Triathlons have been at Shawnee Mission Park but they seemed to know how to keep people from getting lost on the routes.
    • It helped to go to the orientation on Saturday, which made up for the lack of communication that is normally provided in e-mails and websites.
    • Post-race Food was good with chocolate milk, yogurt, bananas, water, pop, orange quarters.  I was pleasantly surprised consider the money that goes into this
  • Bad
    • I believe there were only 8 port-a-potties with 2 of them on the west side of the transition area.  I noticed them when I went for a warm-up jog.  There were flush toilets at the marina but I got there early enough it didn't matter to me.
    • I guess it's somewhat difficult to design a course inside of a park that doesn't require runners to cross the bike course but it was only slightly annoying.  I was in the last wave, so there really weren't any athletes on the bike course.
The Proof

Yeah.. I'm still wearing my swim cap; however, the purpose of posting this photo is the lady off to the left.  I really want to know what she doesn't want to see.

I will eventually start running without socks.

Headed back to my transition area to see if my Edge 800 is still on the bike. 

Very artistic, thanks TKB!
Check back again as there is another photo I plan to take, which is the DST team photo!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Race Report: Hospital Hill Half Marathon 2011

Leading up to this event, I knew I was in trouble.  I didn't follow a training plan like I did in 2010.  In the three weeks prior to the event, I had logged 22 miles running.  All other training was focused on swimming and biking.  I knew I had the cardio to slog through 13.1 miles but I didn't know if I had it in the legs.  During March and April, I had some long-ish runs (6 - 7 miles) at an 8 minute pace, so I foolishly picked up a pace band for a 1:45 finish during the Expo.

To further shoot myself in the running shoe, I went to a concert the night before the race.  I knew this was going to hurt my performance, but it's not like I was going to podium. This is currently my favorite band (Mumford and Sons) and, being a band from the UK, they don't make it to the US very often.  The concert came with a handful of opening acts, so we showed up only for Cake and M&S.  To give myself more time to sleep, we got a hotel room a block away from the start line.  This easily saved 1.5 hours of sleep.
Everything packed to go on Thursday. Got use out of my Transition Bag again.
Something I had not planned on (or, rather, provided contingency plans) was the fact that Thursday night I started getting that cough going that only indicates one thing... a brand new cold was entering the body.  Vitamin C and water were thrust upon the system.  I got to a point on Friday that I wasn't very productive dealing with the cold so I left an hour early to check in to the hotel and sleep.  I barely got an hour of sleep before I had to pick up my packet.

Met Joe VI and completed Packet Pickup by 5:30pm.  I picked up my tech shirt, bib, and pre-approval for post-race brewski.  No bag was given, which I thought was awkward.  After packet pickup, we joined Jennifer and Aaron for dinner prior to the concert, where Ben and Kristin joined the crew.  We got to the River Market in time for Cake and subsequently Mumford and Sons.  Concert was over around midnight.  I tried to stay off my feet in between sets.  Two bottles of water downed as well as one beer.

As for actual, pre-race nutrition I drank as much water as I could and had some pasta for lunch on Friday.

 Race Day

I slept surprisingly well, considering the oncoming cold.  The alarm was set to go off at 5:45 but I woke up a little after 5am and evaluated the "machine".  There was definitely some extract lubrication in the nasal passage and some labored breathing.  I never really considered dropping out of the race but I decided to throw out any time goals. Once I finally got up and showered I was feeling much better.  I was probably at 90% at that point. 

I ate my bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  Continued taking in fluids.

TKB and I finally made it down to the start around 6:30 where I met RunWithDrew for the first time.  We had a little Twitter meetup before the race, unfortunately MikeDial and DrDial weren't able to get there.  I also met up with Shane and Heather, as well as Dustin and his friend Heather.  Drew and Shane were doing the Half and Heather, Dustin, and Heather were doing the 10k. 

Shane and I about to run 13.1 in heat and humidity.
No need for a potty stop as I was in good shape just before leaving the hotel.

At roughly 6:50, we split up. I took one Gu packet to get things going. Shane and I started towards the mass of humanity and we ended up hanging out in the back around the 2:40 pace group.  It took nearly 4 minutes to reach the start line.

Hospital Hill is named after one of the segments of the course.  There is a hill downtown that contains the Children's Mercy Hospital (well, this is MY assumption as to its namesake).  Even so, there are a bunch of nasty hills on this course.  Some are 60 feet inclines in a tenth of a mile or 140 feet over one mile.  (Both of those hills are in the last 2 miles, by the way.)  My Garmin registered 750 feet of total elevation.  In addition to the hills, this race was HOT.  It was probably 75 - 80 degrees at the start.  The humidity levels were up as well.  The race required good hydration planning and having my hydration pack with me was a nice security blanket.  I only had water with me but took in Gatorade at the aid stations whenever I cold.  I generally took in one cup of water, poured another on my head, and then sips of gatorade.

Shane and I stayed together for the first three miles (which included the first major hill).  During the second aid station, I appeared to have lost Shane, so I just kept trucking.  Feeling pretty good, I set my goal to catch-up with the 2:00 hour pace group and go from there.  I knew by being behind roughly 4 minutes from the shotgun that I'd be in decent shape for a sub-2 half marathon.

A race of this hilly nature, I take the ups fairly slow and take advantage of the downs.  The first place I really sped up was by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  Around that point I saw Kristen's husband, Jeff, as a course marshall.  I gave him a high-ten and went on cruising by.  About a half a block later, I could hear the sirens of a firetruck.  I quickly had to hit the breaks though at the intersection as it cruised by.  I blame that for my end results :).

The evidence of the heat was starting to kick-in.  One of the next major hills was at UMKC, roughly 5 miles in.  I saw two women sitting on the curb, one of whom was leaning over, and then I heard that guttural rumbling noise no one wants to hear coming out of their own body because the next thing that follows is that morning's hydration.  In fact, this girl must like the lemonade flavor of Gatorade because it was a yellow-y fountain.  We have more fountains than Rome, right?

A mile later I saw another woman laying on a driveway with the homeowners holding an icepack for her.  Possibly a leg injury.  I few minutes later and ambulance went flying by.  This was not a good day for some people.  You just hope they keep going.  Maybe not on this day but for the next race.  By this time I had caught the 2:05 pace group.  "Only" five minutes to go!

The last half of the race was tough.  I remember it being tough last year and it didn't change in 2011.  I'm sure my training plan had a lot to do with it.  The course was slightly different than last year.  The start was a block or so further towards downtown Kansas City, so that distance had to be made up somewhere.  They added a two block detour just after you turn north on Brookside.  This detour included a nice incline as well.  Now that's a cheap way to add another hill.  Ugh!

So the last few miles included a nasty long hill plus a short, even nastier hill.  I tried to push it and push it and push it but my legs just stopped listening. I had created some distance between myself and the 2:05 pace group but that gap was shot by the time I hit the last mile.  I just stayed pace with them all the way in.

Almost there!!
They had wet cold towels waiting, water, and a huge medal.  A big complaint last year was the water wasn't cold and it looks like most of the cold water was taken by the better trained runners.  With as hot as it was, the warmer water didn't really matter; however, I did hear they actually ran out of water bottles about 30 minutes later.

The post-race food was decent.  I found chocolate milk, cheese sticks, frozen fruit bars (which was AWESOME), a bag of various crackers/pretzels, and Gatorade.  I also found Shane, who had finished just behind me.  Also included in your registration is Flip Flops, beer (Michelob Ultra, bleh), and a plate of BBQ.

While I still don't quite know how he did it, a runner stopped me after I acquired my Flippie Floppies and introduced himself as Kyle from Twitter.  He was with Brian (bsparks71).  I must have tweeted my bib # but talk about eagle eyes!  It was great meeting everyone from twitter out there!

After I finished I had one thing on my mind.  I knew I didn't make a sub-2 hour race, which I was fine with.  I was looking for Joe VI.  The guy had been working his butt off training for this and I heard he made a sub-2 hour race.  Good Job, Joe!  OK.... I'll just out right and say it, he finally beat me in a race.  Now can you do it in a triathlon?  *nudge nudge, hint hint*.

Chip Time: 2:01:22
Overall 881 / 3169
Gender 121 / 278

  • Good
    • Weekly e-mail communications, ample aid stations, good post-race grub.  The best organized race I've competed in.
    • Happy with having the BBQ option but not KC's best (I went to Oklahoma Joe's for lunch).
    • Good medal.  This year's medal is a puzzle piece that connects with the next two year's medals.

  • Bad
    • Goodie bag was better last year.  They gave out water bottles instead of a hat and socks.  I'm not a fan of that kind of water bottle, but that's just personal preference.
    • I preferred last years beer choice of Boulevard Beer, but I'm not going to complain that much.  It's good to have sponsors to make this event affordable.
    • There is a typo on the ribbon that holds the medal for the half-marathon finishers.  Oops.  (who am I to complain about that... if you can't find 50 typos in this post then I'd be surprised).
  • Lessons Learned
    • Train better - I have 4 races scheduled in 5 weeks.  Three triathlons and the half-marathon. Need to stretch those out.
    • Don't attend a concert the night before.
    • If you can afford it, do the hotel thing.  It's sooooo much easier.

The Evidence

Shane finishing strong.

Even though he finished first, I'm putting his finishing photo last.  Take that, Joe VI!
Also.. the heart rate monitor will provide an interesting tan line.  Human pin stripes?
Scotty B, the dork. 
We look much different in this photo than the pre-race photo... about 5 pounds of water weight lighter.

Beer... where's the BEER!
FYI:  Girl in the orange tank, might want to choose darker colored running shorts.

BBQ Pulled Pork -- NOT from a gas station.

Joe VI enjoying his lead.  FREAKING HILARIOUS!