Thursday, July 23, 2015

Race Report - Muncie 70.3 Team Triathlon

TKB, Kevin, and I took off Thursday morning and arrived in Anderson, IN around 6:30pm.

After unloading the car we went into Fisher (suburb of Indianapolis) for dinner at Rockstone Pizza.  It's a wonderful place to get stone-fired pizza.  If you are reading this to find some good pasta for your Muncie 70.3 experience, they have some great baked pasta options as well.  They have a great selection of local craft beer and a friend of Kevin's works there!

Corey and his wife Amy arrived a bit later and stayed at a hotel in Muncie, so we didn't meet up Thursday.  Erik and his buddy/sherpa, Patrick, were arriving Friday afternoon.  Erik is my team runner.

Check-in/Packet Pickup
Friday we arrived at the race site around 10am.  Probably the first 5 athletes we saw were all from KC (Reds Triathlon team, KC Tri, and some folks wearing other local race shirts).  Picked up my standard pint glass and the shirt that has all participant names on it in the shape of the M-dot logo on the back.  Being a team, I'm not sure if my name was supposed to be on it (versus our team name) but since I had been registered as an individual participant, my name was definitely on it (I couldn't find Erik's).

About this time Corey and Amy had arrived.  We reviewed the swim area and the transition area then listened to the athlete meeting.  We had some questions for the head ref so talked to Rosalyn for a little bit.  One concern I had was the fact that relays were the last wave.  That meant that I would be one of the final 25 people to hit the bike course.  Yes, I literally told the ref "I don't want to sound cocky, but I'm going to be passing a bunch of people."  Frankly, my concern was I would be spending a lot of time on the left side of the lane because I would have 1,800 cyclists in front of me with a two loop course.  She didn't give me the best feeling but had to go with it.  Rosalyn was pretty great as she told us some stories of some horrible participants in previous races.

Kevin, Corey, and I then headed out for a shake-out bike ride which proved quite beneficial for all of us.  Corey was having some malfunctions with his bike computer and this solidified his plan to just use his Forerunner on the bike.  Kevin found out his rear brake didn't work!  The brake was loose from its attachment to the bike and the techs were able to fix it.  What did I learn?  My previous single practice of doing a flying mount on my bike wasn't enough.  I pretty much embarrassed myself trying to do so Friday, as well as managed to scratch up my right thigh and causing my right heel to be sore the rest of the day.

Erik and Patrick then arrived we made it through the packet pick up process. Erik and I walked through the transition setup now that we were able to get in and review the relay boxes.

By this time it was four o'clock and we had figured out dinner plans and headed out to for a pasta place once TKBs parents arrived.

Amy, Corey, Erik, Patrick, Kevin, TKB, Dork, Susan, Mike

After dinner we finished prepping our bikes/gear and off to bed with a 3:30am alarm.  We wanted to get there close to after the transition opened plus there was a 30 minute drive to the race site.  Fortunately, Erik and Kevin both share my propensity for having time on my side and not the other way around.

Race Day
Even though the race offered Friday bike checkin, we elected not to have to deal with bike pumps and other worries, so we brought our bikes on Saturday.  It was nice knowing we didn't have to worry about rack placement since each spot was individually numbered.

Nice and tidy.  Only thing missing are running shoes, visor, bib.
I got my spot setup and then headed over to Kevin's and gave him some advice on transition.  We went over to Corey's spot but he wasn't to be found but he was all setup.  He was one of those lucky few with the first spot on the rack.

We took off for the first of many bathroom trips and then off for a warm-up swim, which opened at 6:45.  My wave was scheduled for 7:48 but no one I talked to knew when the swim area closed, so I hopped in the swim practice with Kevin and Corey, who were in the third wave.

As I was getting ready to get in the water, I ran into another KC Triathlete who works at the local Ultramax store.  I've talked to her a few times before as I stopped into the store.  She mentioned that the swim area would remain open so I just did a short swim.

We all agreed that the pre-race warm up was a good idea.  It helped calm the nerves and get the body ready to go.  It was soon ready for Kevin and Corey to go to the start corral.  It was the start of a big new experience for both since it was their first half ironman.  I was hoping they would both enjoy endurance triathlon as much as I do.

Now that they were off, I was still within myself.  My nerves were still pretty high considering this was my first race of the year and, frankly, my last.  I've done two half ironmans before, so I knew what I needed to do.  Part of it was some frustrations that I couldn't do the run and so it was just going to feel somewhat incomplete.  Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled to be able to compete and that wouldn't be possibly without Erik and I'm totally grateful for that!

I decided to make another trip to the porta-potty and I'm glad I did.  I may have gained 5 watts on that restroom trip (if you don't know what that means, just move along).  I then put the wetsuit back on and did a few laps of the warm-up area.  As I watched the first swimmer exist, I noticed  the last buoy had a number "8" on it.  Good information to know, since all buoys were numbered.

After saying goodbye to TKB, Erik, Patrick, and Amy, I was off to join the final wave of relays, about 25 of us.

Joyce from Ultramax was with the relays as she had a similar story to mine.  She was going to do it as an individual but injured her hand in a fall, so was doing this as a team of 3.  I also met another KC triathlete while wading in the water.  Considering it was only 25 of us, we had plenty of room to line up.  At 8:03 (race was delayed 15 minutes due to parking problems), we were off!

I immediately got in a groove and felt great.  Having all that room was awesome.  Even though the previous two waves were the young gun females and males, I knew that room wouldn't last.  About buoy number four, that ended as I started swimming with the previous wave.  I felt like I was doing pretty good with my line.  The buoys were huge and so I could spot them easily.  Swimming westwardly definitely helped with the sun behind us.

Turn one was crowded but I manage to hit turn in open space on the turn but the washing machine was now in full effect.  I will say that being in the last wave was great.  If anyone was going to pass me, it had been done as we started.  There was no wave behind me to have people catch me. I was passing a bunch of people and seeing people in three to four waves in front of me.  It's always a confidence booster.

I hit turn 2 with a bunch of people and was happy to start counting up to buoy number 8 (the numbers restarted halfway through the swim).  I was still feeling in a groove but I noticed my left arm was getting sore.  When I put my wetsuit back on, I remember working on the left sleeve quite a bit and so might have put it on so it strained my left arm movement more than usual.

I passed buoy number 8 and just kept swimming until I felt ground.  Got up and took off!

Time: 34:30
Pace: 1:47 / 100 meters
Relay Rank: 5

Transition 1
This race had wetsuit strippers and so I sought out a couple people after pulling my suit down to my waist.  It took them a bit more time than I had hoped but still faster than by myself.  I then took off running the quarter mile to my bike.  Throw my wetsuit down by my bike, put on my sunglasses, helmet and shoes and then off!

Time: 3:00

My validation to not doing a flying mount was validated as there was no room with about 6 people spread about the mount line.  I quickly got on my bike, clipped in, and took off!

My fear about the bike course was quickly realized as people were all over the road.  I passed as within rules and within common sense as possible but there were multiple pelotons in action.  The quality of the roads in the first 7 miles weren't that great but no issues on my part.

The course reached out to State Route 35 and did two loops before heading back in.  My heart rate was pretty escalated for the first 10 miles as I was trying to get into open space.  My wattage averaged the zone I was hoping for but I was burning some matches trying to get around the groups of people.  I felt happy with my pace around 22 - 24 mph but I didn't have a run to worry about.

They had four aid stations on the course.  I've been in races with aid stations but those races had plenty of room on both sides of the road.  The roads here were two lane with no shoulder, so it was a tight squeeze.

The route had some elevation gain but no huge hills, especially compared to what we see in Kansas City.  You'd find yourself working hard and then you'd realize it was because you were on an incline.

I didn't keep track but had about 5 or 6 people pass me total and most to those were race leaders on their second lap of the bike course.  I did play leap frog with a couple people and that was a little frustrating.  For one thing, I don't like to play leap frog with the same people over and over and two, they were definitely drafting off of each other.  One was drafting off me for about a minute when I finally got done with it and pushed on.  I should have left him there for a ref to see him and save me from burning another match.

I tried to stay within my wattage zone and felt I was doing a pretty good job of it but I knew eventually my time would come to hammer.  Not having to run meant not needing to conserve energy.  Don't get me wrong, I was't holding back that much from the first mile but still wanted to pace myself.  I had been using my nutrition plan quite well so I had decent energy.  My finicky hip was cranky but I knew I wouldn't hurt it.  My right leg was also sore at a few spots that made me question the healing of my stress fracture but the biggest concern was on my calf.  I attributed this to riding in my triathlon shoes instead of my road shoes that I normally use.  I should have stuck with my road shoes since I decided to not do a flying mount.

About 10 miles to go, it was time to time trial to the end.  Not sure why I chose 10 miles out as my time to hammer but it was similar distance to the downtown time trials that I have done in the past.  Not too  long before this point, the couple guys who were playing the drafting game had past me again.  Now I had some fun flying by them at 29 mph and hoping I'd sweep them up trying to catch up with me not realizing I was done in 10 miles.

My miles 45 - 50 average 25.7 mph, which was a nice flat and open road but last split was slower at 22 but also had hills, turns, and "traffic" to it.  So miles 45 - 55 were in 25 minutes, 15 seconds.  My last split included some of my transition, so I don't have a good split of my last mile.  I do enjoy the bike!

Time: 2:27:36
Pace: 22.76 mph
Relay Rank: 3

I had the 3rd fastest relay split and so we moved up to 4th place.

Transition 2
Sometimes you have that perfect day and sometimes you have that perfect day with something that annoys the crap out of you.  Today was the latter.  I ran to my transition spot to put my bike on my rack and, boom, some idiot draped their wetsuit over my spot.  I simply racked my bike on it and started taking off when I hear a crash and turn back.  My bike fell off the spot because of the wetsuit and some official yelled at me that I can't leave my bike like that.  I agreed (even though I'd be back in a minute to fix it anyway) and ran back, grabbed the wetsuit and told the  official that this wetsuit wasn't mine and I threw it and re-racked my bike and took off.... again.

Erik saw me running up, kneeled down and pulled off my chip, placed on his leg, high five and took off!

Time: 1:16

Seeing Erik take off made me happy to have him on my team.  Erik has had an amazing weight loss story the last few years and enjoy participating in races with him and love having him on my team.

I anxiously awaited Erik to arrive and watch him run through the finish chute.  As soon as he came through we high fived again and I ran around the finish line to see him out the chute.  Erik killed that run with a half marathon PR!

Kevin and Corey
Let's back up.  After Erik took off I found TKB, Amy, and Patrick.  We walked around a bit and got to see the first two male finishers cross the line.  I had left a few things at my transition that I wanted to have with me, so I walked back to my bike and cleaned it up a little bit more and had it essentially ready to go.  I saw Joyce again and chatted about her swim while she waited for her cyclist to come in.  I then went over to get some food that was set aside for athletes while Erik, TKB, and Patrick bought some lunch.

After finishing my plate, I decided a trip to the bathroom was in order.  Apparently while I was off, Jason Parr who I raced with at Pigman Tri in 2013 had just finished.  TKB went over to say hi and then I did too after I got back.  I went looking for him but when I came back to the finish chute there was TKB, Amy, Patrick... and Kevin!  He had just finished and we missed it!  I was so bummed but I blame him for it... because he rocked his race!  He finished in 5 hours and 17 minutes!  Based on what he thought he'd finish, we didn't expect him in that soon.

We walked around a bit and then went a bit further down the run course to see Corey and Erik arrive.  Not too much longer and Corey came flying down to finish in 6 hours and 1 minute  Another amazing finish for a first timer (just a few minutes past my first half ironman).

These guys seriously did amazing for the first half ironman and was happy to be apart of it.  Looking forward to doing a lot more races with them!

Definitely had a good experience at Ironman 70.3 Muncie.  Good post-race experience with athlete food options (quarter chicken, applesauce, cole slaw, veggie burger, and pop).  Plenty of race merch to purchase.  On the non-race day side, I was able to easily get a refund when I registered as a team.

I was a little annoyed that I couldn't run through the chute with Erik at the end.  I will say that considering the size of roads we are riding on, there were way too many people on the bike and borderline unsafe.  Not many races in the world offer a completely closed bike course like Muncie and so I doubt they would be able to do that with wider roads.

I'd definitely consider doing this race again.

As for our place, we finished 7th out of 21 teams (1st of the three Kansas City teams ;)) with a finish of 5:34:11.

Just put that right back in the truck, please.

Don't put your wetsuit on my rack.  This is where you will find it.

Enjoying the pay-off
Someone commented that the road crew marking the bike route for potholes wanted to ensure no one harmed this sleeping rodent.

We got caught leaving the scene of the race.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Been a While

I haven't fallen off the face of the blog-o-sphere.  I just haven't had the motivation to write.  This has probably been the longest since I've taken off from posting.  New PR?

Taken at the Airport in Phoenix on April 20.  I was headed to California for work instead of running the Boston Marathon that day.

The healing process has been slow but as expected.  After I got the boot, I kept to swimming for a few weeks.  Then swim and bike for a few weeks and stayed there until the boot was removed.  Around 4 weeks I attended a half ironman training camp which gave me the opportunity to swim in a 50 meter pool, open water swim, and then did about 40 miles of the 56 mile ride.  Obviously skipped the run.

I did a handful of aqua running workouts.  Not as horrible as I thought it would be but didn't do more than 30 minutes at a time.

I started weening off the boot after 4 weeks, per my doc.  At 6 weeks I stopped wearing it altogether but didn't start running for another week.  My ankle seemed weak, so I wanted to give it a chance to manage normal walking.  Running consisted of short, slow run and then a walking break... repeat.  First week was not great.  Leg was sore.  I knew right then and there that any hope to run at Ironman Muncie 70.3 was out.

At the track, starting my first run in 2 months.

It was a couple more weeks before I got comfortable running at my normal form.  TKB and I went to Chicago for about a week and I got in a few good run/walk sessions on Lake Shore Trail.  I started extending my runs with good form.  Things were feeling pretty darn good. So after I got back I did a 9 minute run, 1 minute walk for 30 minutes.  It felt good to run long but my leg was sore.

At the same time, my hip was still bothering me like it was back in early February.  My foot neuroma was flaring up again.  During the previous few months I had started putting metatarsal pads in all my shoes and by now I had finally put them in my cycling and work shoes.  About the same time as my leg hurting after the run, my foot was really bothering me.  I got to the point of pain where on a 50 mile ride I stopped in the middle and ripped out the met pad I had installed (poorly).

I was through with the pain.  It wasn't massive pain, but it was there and caused me trouble sleeping. My stress fractures were on the mend but without fixing the hip and foot neuroma, I was surely going to end up in a boot again.  I was done.  I started noticing that with the neuroma on the left foot, I would walk "around" the pain.  Had a conversation with Kevin at work about it who mentioned that his hip/lower back pain was resolved by orthotics in his shoes.  I came to the conclusion that maybe the neuroma is causing my hip issue.

I talked to my physical therapist and agreed that may be a connection.  So back to the drawing board and back to my foot doctor.  I was happy to go back to the foot doc because he is a triathlete and knows how I think.  He and I had a great discussion and when I mentioned my hip he mentioned that it could be caused by the neuroma without my prompting.  So I bought some orthotics per his recommendation to put in my cycling shoes since that's where I started noticing the neuroma.  Even leading up to the appointment with the foot doc, I had become more vigilant at putting met pads in my shoes (correctly) and had noticed the neuroma wasn't as painful anymore.  That being said, it was hard to objectionably determine if my hip was doing better.

Armed with my new orthotics, I went out for a 3 hour ride this past Saturday and my neuroma didn't peep once (it usually starts around 20 miles in).  My hip isn't as noticeable but occasionally it is sore.  I do think it is getting better.

Shining Light
Given all this, how do I see the light at the end of the tunnel?  Small victories.
  • Working on race karma I volunteered with the MTC team to help at a run aid station.  I ended up course marshaling with Mark at the top of a nasty hill.  I brought my JAMBOX to blast music and we had a blast cheering people on.  Talked to participants days/weeks after the race and they appreciated the support at the top of the hill.
  • Knowing that I couldn't run the half marathon at Muncie 70.3, I asked my buddy Erik to participate as a team and he agreed!  Erik was already planning to attend Muncie as a spectator and is currently training for his first marathon.  Hopefully this worked out for him and his training.
  • The short runs I did in Chicago weren't super fast but did show me that I still had decent fitness.
  • I have been having trouble with my Garmin Vector Power Meters on my triathlon bike.  It would read low, although it was fine on my road bike.  I found out that I had not configured my Garmin watch and bike computer correctly for my triathlon bike but I had for my road bike.  This was awesome because it has a big impact on my Performance Management Chart on TrainingPeaks.  Happy to see it be accurate.
  • Had a good conversation with Kevin who was going to participate in Beach2Battleship with me.  We both decided to cancel.  Neither of us had registered yet.  Kevin wanted to train for KC Marathon and I was still the middle of figuring out my hip problem.  I know this seems weird to consider canceling a race as a positive but it gave me the relief to not try to train for something when I wasn't 100% yet.  I've still got a long road to returning to form.

Looking Forward
I feel that I have a good plan to get the hip issue resolved.  My neuroma hasn't flared up in a few weeks.  So after this week I want to get back into hip focused strength training and stretching.  Coach keeps putting yoga on my plan and I keep conveniently not finding time to do it.  Maybe it's time to look up the Yoga place in Parkville.

Why focus on it after this week?  Well, it's race week!  We are leaving for Ironman Muncie 70.3 tomorrow morning.  This is going to be a blast.  Not only am I registered as "Two Tall Tri Guys" team with Erik, but Kevin and another co-worker, Corey Hunt is doing it too. My other race buddy/co-worker Kristen was planning to make the trip but couldn't.  She'll be there in spirit!

TKB pointed out that I missed the opportunity of calling our team "Too Tall Tri Guys" but whatever, still works.

So hopefully I'll be back on the blog with my race report soon.

A while back my coach sent me the below link and I actually just read it finally after finishing this post.  A lot of great advice and you might notice some similarities in what I said/experienced to what she wrote:

OK... going to bed.  Good night!  Got an 8 hour drive tomorrow!