Sunday, June 17, 2012

Baltimore 10 miler Race Report

I haven't written a race report in ages but I figure an all-time fastest ever 10 mile running race deserves at the age of 40 and almost 11 months.  I signed up for the Baltimore 10 miler with goal of going sub 60 after the Boston debacle.  It had two things going for it, heat and the day before Father's day.  The planned course wasn't exactly PR friendly for most runners due to the first 4 miles being downhill and the last 4 miles being those exact miles in reverse.  The perfect go out white hot and burn out on the way home.

Leading up to the race my legs felt like spaghetti. They were just blah during the taper.  I just kept up hope they would feel good race morning.  The race started at 7:30AM so that's a 4:30AM nutrition start for me.  I've finally have a full proof race morning nutrition plan after numerous butterfly tummies.  I just get nervous so I've gone to a pure liquid nutrition drink 3 hours before with no fiber just basically sugar and electrolytes.  Since I was getting up so early, I started the 50 minute drive from the house to Baltimore.  I almost took the airport exit since I'm so used to the super early weekend drive to fly to Oregon.

I got to the race site and had a plenty of super choice parking spots to choose from and luckily I arrived early because parking was such a big madhouse that the race actually got delayed 10 minutes.  The wait was uneventful as I just relaxed in the car.  It was slightly cool but no wind at all.  I made my numerous nervous Honey Bucket stops and then with 45 minutes to go started my warmup routine.  I've been going even longer on my warmups lately and I think it's helped.  I ran almost 20 minutes at a super easy pace and stretched.  I drank my Infinit Napalm gel flask.

I decided to go with the new KSwiss K-Ruuz racing flat but this time with a thin dual layer sock.  I still got a massive blister on my left foot.  I just think my foot needs more upper structure as my foot is sliding around a bit.

I got to the start area about 10 minutes prior to 7:30 and started to do a few strides when they announced the 10 minute delay.  I went over my race plan in my head a few more times as I passed the time.  Basically the plan was to go out at a nice 5:45-5:50ish pace or easy and then really push the hills on the way back.

I always look like the biggest dork at the start line as I'm wearing my hat backwards and have a fuel belt.  I was taking a gel flask of 100 calories and 75mg of caffeine with me so I could get a nice pick me up at mile 5.  I just do better if I have the nutrition with me and I can just blow through water stops without worry but it's high on dork factor.

Finally we were set to go.  I positioned myself in the 2nd row as based on last year's times and my goal I figured to be top 20.  It was the perfect position as a bunch of folks just flew out of the gates.  I just kept relaxed but man that first mile felt like forever.  The really cool thing about this course was the openness.  We were all able to cut all the tangents and therefore my Garmin mile splits were almost dead on the course mile splits. Overall I got 10.05 for the course.  I hit the mile in 5:45..okay not bad mile 2 came a bit quicker and it read 11:30.  A 30 second cushion…sweet and I didn't feel dreadful.

The course would go down and I'd lose ground to those around me but when it leveled off I'd gain ground.  Stupid old man hamstring problems.  I have changed my race stride to high knee lift and less shuffle/overstriding to help them.  So far so good.   The downhill is basically over by the time you get to mile 4.  I still had my nice cushion but man mile 5 felt like a beast.  It just seemed to never come but as soon as you pass the mile 5 marker the uphill starts in earnest.

I immediately started closing on people as the road tilted up.  Mile 6 and some of mile 7 has a gradual uphill.  Nothing major by any means.  I just kept on the gas.  I really was focused here to really keep my pace high knowing that just after 7 we'd get a flat section before the beast hills in the last 2 miles.  You hit one just as you're approaching the 8 mile mark.  I really tried to stay strong but man that was tough.  I got to mile 8 and said to myself only 12 more minutes of pain.  No problem.

I had passed most of the folks that were really close but I was slowly gaining on one last guy.  If I got him cool but really I was focused on that clock and sub 60.  The last killer hill is a good steep one just before the 9 mile mark and it just SUCKED.  This is where those 30 seconds I had in the bank were being held up and robbed at gunpoint by the course.

I just kept telling myself that I had less than 10 minutes of torture and to push or fail yet again for like the 4th or 5th straight race going back to last year.  I hit mile 9 at 53:13 where you can see the finish but half to tack on this loop with some more up.  This is where my blister was starting to scream at me for not using enough Body Glide on my feet earlier that morning.  This loop is where the guy in front of me laid on the gas and left me in the dust.  I had probably close to about 50 meters but I didn't' even see him finish.

I got back to end of the loop as I rounded corner with the finish just off in the distance and looked at my watch.  It read 58:38…OH CRAP!!  I hope my hamstring is gonna hold up because I'm going in to full sprint mode now.  No way I'm missing that sub 60.  NO WAY!!  Again I'm sure at this moment the dork factor went up to 11 because there was no one around me at all but here I am in full sprint.

I hit the line as the clock was reading 59:something so sweet.  My official time was 59:18.  29:30 for the first 5 and 29:48 for the last 5.  Pretty even split which is a shocker for me.  I haven't PR with an even split ever in my entire running career.  I guess we get smarter as we get older.  I suspect it's I'm too old and slow to go out like a white hot bullet in those first 4 miles.  I was 3rd overall OLD guy or anyone over 40 and 13th overall with the youngsters included.  Not bad considering there were over 4500 male finishers so a decent sized race.

The legs feel alright not destroyed but my stomach still hurts after 12 hours as I write this.  Even with my nutrition I still have just an upset stomach after a hard run.  Now onto a bike taper this week in preparation for a 125 mile ride with over 16K feet of climbing next Saturday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Taper Begins...

I just finished my last long and/or hard workout.  It was 4200 yards in the pool or the actual 2.4 mile Ironman swim distance.  I was able to go faster than my time at Ironman Canada.  Just amazing since the wetsuit and draft really helped me go fast that day.  3 years since and I've actually learned how to swim somewhat so I can go faster without expending so much effort.  The goal of 63 minutes is in reach for sure.

As Lance would say, it's not about the bike.  That's so true in the Ironman.  The run is the toughest part not only because it's at the end but because it's a MARATHON.  Marathon's by themselves are tough affairs but after pedaling for 5+ hours become tougher.  My run was going great last month.  I had completed my first 18 miler at just a little over my goal pace and felt pretty good at the end.  I was injury free and feeling it was all coming together and then it happened on a cold afternoon in Oregon.

I had a 10 mile tempo run planned for Wednesday.  I arrived in Oregon on Monday night and went for an easy 4 miler Tuesday morning to loosen up the legs.  On that 4 miler, I had some serious tendon pain in my right ankle.  I've had this pain before so I knew what to do but man it was out of the blue.  I iced and took some Aleve to help it out.  I was thinking of moving my tempo to Thursday but the foot felt pretty good Wednesday morning so I'd just give it a go.  I warmed up or so I thought and it was pretty good so I started the journey of 10 miles of pure fun.

I was dialed into my goal pace and clipping the miles off.  The foot wasn't bugging me very much so it was all good.  I did my best to find the flattest loop I could but it still had a slight up for a good 2 miles and slight down for 2 miles per loop.  As I was cruising "down" towards the 8 mile mark, I was just trying to maintain a pace.  I took a stride and my left hamstring tensed a little.  This hamstring is been a problem each of the last 3 years so every time it even gives me a hint I back off.  I immediately backed off the pace and my stride but by the third step it "yanked".  CRAP!!  I stopped dead in my tracks.  There was no reason to try and "gut" it out.  I started walking back to the gym, cussing about every 5 step at my rotten luck.  It was October 26th.

The good news at the time was I still had just over 3 weeks to go and could still cycle and swim.  Last year, I took 4 days off and was back slowly and healed up for the Baltimore marathon.  My schedule and weather this time would allow 6 days of rehab before the first test.  The rehab consisted of rolling the crap out of it.  I had been rolling both hamstrings and calves every night for about a month but I gave the bad hamstring some extra roll-love. Ice and some more ice as well.  The thing I changed was I didn't stretch it for a full day.  Last year, I yanked the hamstring sprinting the end of an Olympic for like 37th place.  I immediately started stretching it.  Well, a bunch of folks on my favorite time waster site, Slowtwitch recommended not doing that.

Another thing I did was I changed my diet a bit.  I started really pounding protein so much so that I had to add some additional fiber to my diet, if ya know what I mean. ;)  Day 6 comes around, I go for a nice easy bike ride to loosen up the hammy and then hit the 4 miler.  It was good for about 1 mile and then it slowly started bugging me again.  Hmm...this isn't good.  I've taken 6 days off and my taper is suppose to start in another 5 days.  Ugh what am I going to do...

More stretching, more rolling and more ice.  The next day I'd figure to try it again but I barely made it to the half mile point before it was too painful to continue.  DOUBLE HOLY CRAP!!   This is what I was thinking.  This was Wednesday where I should be slogging out my last 18 miler and I can't even run 1/2 mile.

Injuries are brutal mentally especially for me as I've really focused 10 months of all my workouts for the Ironman.  Every workout has been geared towards Nov. 20th and now this.  Time to find something good to think about or I would be elbow deep in a super size Dorito bag.  The good thing was I had done an 18 miler already and had completed a 6, 7, 8, and 9 mile tempo runs.  I had done three 100 mile bike rides and one 118 mile ride.  I had done about two months worth of serious bike tempo rides as well.  As some say, a lot of the hay was already in the barn.

Just take some more running days off and come back fully healed.  Well I was successful in an easy 4 miles last Friday and I did 9 miles on Sunday.  I tried to dial up some speed to test the hamstring on Sunday but it still didn't like that.  I figure to put in a 4 mile tempo run at 6:30 pace on Tuesday.  That pace should feel easy and if it does my confidence will be BACK.

The taper has begun as I only rode 56 miles during the weekend total as opposed to 156 I had been doing for the past weekends.  That 9 mile run felt like I hadn't even really done anything.  I'm sure I'm going to get a little restless this week.  I'm starting to dial back the diet as well.  No need to keep trying to eat 4K calories every day just to keep up.

I fly to Arizona on Sunday and the rest of the family arrives on the 18th.  I'm feeling anxious already.  It's so close now.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

30 days of training

The final countdown has really started.  Just 30 days left til the Ironman in Arizona.  I have just over 2 weeks of hard training left before I start the 2 week taper.

I know I'm close because I'm constantly tired and constantly hungry. Even with all the hunger, I've been holding steady at 140 which is good and haven't busted into my Dorito stash.  I've been going through rice and pasta quick though to stay on top of it.  I'm cooking 3 cups of rice in the rice cooker which is about all I can handle for dinner instead of the normal 2.  I'll be buying another 25lb bag at Costco soon.  The Costco skinless chicken breasts have been going fast as well.  The big bike day on Saturday is the toughest to stay on top of the diet even with all the calories I'm consuming during the ride.  Sure I could eat a ton of junk food but that's not part of the diet.  Although, the pent up junk food cravings will be unleashed on Nov 21st and it's not going to be pretty.  I'll still be in Arizona for Thanksgiving so the real eating won't really begin until the end of November.  I need to figure out when I have to start getting serious again for Boston and the Ironman in August 2012.  I'm guessing day after New Year's is probably okay so a full 5 weeks of gluttony shouldn't be too bad, right?

I've been battling off and on the hint of a sore throat and cold.  I bought a big box of Emergen-C and have been using it often.  It's hard to tell if I should just get sick and get it out of the way or try to stay on top of it.  The goal is to be good to go race day.

Our bib numbers for the race came out this week, I'm 1875.  Seems like a solid number but it will take up quite a bit of arm real estate come race morning.  I'm getting nervous as it just seems that I'm not ready to tackle that day at the pace I want.  Perhaps if I break down all the training it will be sort of like some self-assurance.  So read on if you're interested...


I've just been doing a steady diet of 3 days a week with the long swim getting longer and intervals every other week.  This week I had a decent long swim of just under 65 minutes but man my Wednesday easy swim sucked big time.  I don't think I'm getting faster but I do think I'm getting better at staying my pace for the whole Ironman distance.  The pool is different than open water with 2500 of my closest friends so we will see.  The pool finally got it's heater fixed which was a big relief.  I'm totally frozen.  I have a big ladder interval set this Friday so we'll see how I can respond after Wednesday.  I guess I'm about 75% confident I can hit 63 on race day.  There's probably nothing that will increase that just because the wetsuit adds so much speed to my swimming.


Oh god, the bike.  I have 2 long rides left before the taper.  The long ride has been going well from a mental standpoint.  It seems before I know it I'm at the 50 mile turnaround and headed back.  Speed is a different story.  I'm getting better on the bike.  The miles and tempo miles are adding up but I just don't feel super strong.  I'm thinking I won't be as fit on the bike as I was in 2008 when I did a 5:39 on a hilly course.  The good thing is I know I can go pretty much all out in the half distance and still be pretty good on the run.  My hope is still to go at a moderate effort for this race and be on pace for a 5:15.  The good thing is its 3 loops so basically you just have to focus for 38 something miles and make it to that last loop when it starts to get tough.  The rides are getting colder out here in DC so I'm wearing more and more clothes which really makes me feel slower as well. 50%


My favorite part, where I excel and yet it's the one I'm most worried about.  I guess it's because I've put a definite reach goal in place, 3:05 and even more of reach, fastest run split in my age group.  The main reason for concern is that previous paragraph.  I just not as strong on the bike.  My long runs haven't been spectacular this training yet either.  I did my first real test yesterday with an 18 miler.  I was able to hold just a touch over 7s for the last half.  It didn't feel super hard but not super easy either considering I'd have to go 8 more miles and I didn't bike 112 right before either.  The tempo miles on every other week have been so-so.  I'm hitting my goal average of 6:15 but it's been some big time effort to get there.  The rest of the week's run miles are just easy runs to stretch out the legs.  I have two tempo runs and one more 18 miler left before the taper. 65%

The last discipline, nutrition has been going great.  I'm all dialed in with the plan for the bike and plan for the run as well.  Pre-race morning nutrition is set.  The only thing will be the tail end of the bike and if I'll cut back the calories a bit to let the stomach settle for the run.

I just gotta stay healthy to get that starting line in the best shape my 40 year old body can be in.

Friday, September 23, 2011

SavageMan Triathlon 70 Race Report

The first thing I have to say about the event is it's iconic.  It's a total bucket list event.  It must be experienced if you're a triathlete.  It sells out every year and this year was no different.  Here's the website for a jump on next year's registration: SavageMan.  It benefits Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation. You can raise funds and get cool swag.  This year 6 time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott was participating and speaking at the pre-race dinner.

I thought about doing this race last year but based on my run focus for qualifying for Boston I knew it wouldn't be fun since the cycling portion is probably the hardest half Ironman distance in the sport.  I put it out my mind as this year was all about Ironman Arizona until July.  In July, my diet had netted a lean 142 and during my visit to Oregon I almost PR'ed a cycling climb even though I was nowhere near in top cycling shape.  I got home from Oregon and went to was full already.  Bummer oh well maybe in 2012.

In early August, it was posted by the race director on Slowtwitch that they were opening up additional slots because they got permission to increase the size of the bike racking area.  I jumped head on in and signed up as did a few other ST'ers.  Okay now I'd have to hit every little hill in DC as hard as I could in as big of a gear as I could.  The lure of making it up the dreaded Westernport Wall without falling over and getting forever immortalized on the wall with my name on a brick.

Executive summary: 28:33 swim(PR but the course was a bit short), 4:46 T1(slowest ever due to putting on all kinds of clothes to stay warm on the bike course), 3:12:18(didn't fall on the Wall and just survived), 2:29 T2(slowest ever due to removing all the cycling clothes), 1:32:45(this includes a Honey bucket stop for being over hydrated).  Overall time 5:20:49, 5th fastest run split and fastest non-pro run split.  6th in the "elite" division out of 15 and 15th overall.

Pre-race dinner

With quite a few ST'ers coming to the race, a few of us decided to meet for dinner at a local brewery.  It was nice to associate faces with screen names.  Everyone had beers and pizza well I just had pizza.  We were all talking wall strategies and what gears we brought to hope to accomplish the feat.  I brought my 34-25 and one of the biggest gears of the bunch.  Hmm..I wonder what they knew that I didn't.  The only thing I had going for me was I was probably the lightest of the bunch.  I've never had pizza for a pre-race dinner so I was hoping it would be alright.  Overall this race was mostly a training one and I just wanted to experience it and not worry too much.


The race started at 8:30 and I was in the first wave.  I begged the race director to let me participate as part of the "elite" wave.  I figured the brick was more important than dealing with a ton of folks on the wall and racing in my 40+ age group.  I got up and started with my Infinit pre-race nutrition.  It was still dark, windy and maybe 50 degrees.  The weather forecast for the race was partly cloudy with highs in the low 60s.  Joy!! NOT!  I'd be putting on as many clothes as I could find in T1 so I wouldn't freeze.  So much for a fast T1.  I bundled up extra for the weather as well with two sweatshirts since I don't have an "inner sweatshirt" like some folks.

I got to transition and laid out my cycling vest, arm warmers, smart wool gloves, and knee warmers.  I also thought if I feel cold I'll put my socks on as well.  Usually I go sock less for the bike and then put them on for the run.  I was relaxing and chatting with fellow athletes racked next to me.  It was getting close to the start so I put on my wetsuit and made my way down to the water.  We were able to swim a bit for a warmup.  The water was warm compared to the air, 65 degrees.  It actually felt warmer than my LA Fitness pool that has a broken heater.


It was an in water swim start.  It was the pro/elite men and all the female athletes.  I positioned myself in the middle about 2 swimmers back.  There was lots of room as most of the athletes were waiting in the knee deep water rather than out by the buoy line.  I wondered if they had anticipated a tough scrum in the first 100 yards.  Hmm...I figured after the last race I'd go more with the faster swimmers and see if I could draft.

The horn sounded and we were off.  I hammered hard for the first minute or so trying my best to stay with the faster pack and get a real draft.  I sighted and had a few folks right in front of me so I did my best to stay with them.  That didn't last too long as for some reason I was all over the place.  I couldn't swim straight to save my life.  I usually not too crooked but something was different.  I ended up zig-zagging a bunch in the first 1/3 of the race.  This cost me any draft and I was by myself.  I moved right on top of the buoy line in hopes of trying to stay straight and rounded the first turn buoy.

I decided it was time to speed up as I felt like I hadn't been going so fast.  I started to really push myself and as I finished probably the 2nd third of the course I saw a small group of swimmers ahead.  I told myself to surge to get onto their feet for some draft.  I put down some speed and reached a guys feet.  I relaxed and just maintained.

He was swimming perfectly straight and I had to keep adjusting to stay with him.  I was still swimming crooked for some reason. Doh!  It was also hard to see his feet so I'd sight to make sure I was still in his wake.  It felt easy to swim in his draft almost too easy.  I thought okay lets get out of the draft and try to overtake him to get ahead to the next swimmer just ahead.  I started swimming hard and was gaining no ground.  DOH!  Okay, back into his draft I went.  I stayed with him all the rest of the way.

I hit the timing mat and some yelled 28:30.  Holy crap!!  That's insanely fast for me so I'm guessing the course was a bit short like Rev3 was a bit long.  Based on everyone else's post race report, it was probably 1.1 miles instead of 1.2.  Overall still a tiny PR.  Yay drafting because I wasn't anywhere near as tired as at the end of the Rev3 swim.  I felt fine like it was just a short easy swim.


I proceeded to run up the first hill of the day from the beach to transition.  The swim was the only flat part of the course.  I got the top of my wetsuit off easy which was great.  My arms didn't get stuck.  Yeah chicken arms.  I hit my spot and was actually able to get off the legs easily as well.  I didn't feel light-headed so that was great as well.  I started to proceed with the slowest ever T1 time as I put on my vest, gloves, arm warmers, knee warmers and socks.  It was just cold and the first 18 miles of the bike course is all downhill.  I also practiced the plan for IMAZ by carrying my shoes out with me to the mount area and putting them on there.  It worked smoothly and was fairly quick.

The MEAT aka Bike

OMG! OMG! OMG!  That's the best overview of the bike course.  It's the hard 55 miles I've ever ridden as far as hills.  You hit the first hill at about a mile or so in and it's an 8% for a half mile.  The cool thing is each major hill has a sign with it's length and gradient.  The longest climb Big Savage has a sign for each mile after the wall.  After the first hill, you hit some rollers.  My legs weren't responding very well and I was worried that just didn't feel fresh.  After a bit you start a massive descent that takes you to the base of the wall.  It lasts for at least 13 miles.  You could really bomb this descent if you knew the road which I didn't so I was tentative in various sections.

You get to a light in a town and turn left.  Before you even get to the neighborhood in the helmet cam video above it goes up and you know it's TIME.  I crossed the timing mat and immediately got butterflies.  I shifted down and tried to relax.  You go about 200 meters and make another left and there it is the hill with the wall in the distance.  I shifted all the way down or so I thought more on that later.  I remained seating and started the lower portions spinning easy.  There was one larger guy in front of me about 20 to 30 yards.  He was going at a nice pace so I felt that he wouldn't impede my attempt at the wall.  Even on the "lower slopes" I could hear the screaming of the crowd gathered on the wall.  Right before the wall starts there is a cross street so the road flattens out for that.  I hit that point and stood up and started to drop the hammer to hit the wall as fast as possible.


I hit the stones that make for pavement on the wall and immediately popped my front tire off just a bit.  I settled that down and just kept cranking.  There were volunteers right up next to me sort of running with me.  It freaked me out a bit as I was worried I might run into one of them.  I guess that's what the grand tour riders feel like as they ride through the crowds on those climbs.  The middle of the wall started to tired out the legs quite a bit.  I just kept focused and then the last bit really was hurting.  The crowd was so loud in my ears that they willed me in those last 20 or so meters when I was almost coming to a standstill.  I hit it hard for the last push I had in me and made it.  PHEW!!

Video of my ascent and another one.

No relaxing though as it levels to a meager 4% and the aid station is right there.  I was pretty shelled and then as I bent over my top tube trying to find some air I saw my rear cassette.  I wasn't in my biggest gear(25) but in the 23.  I had another easier gear.  No wonder if was so fricking hard.  IDIOT!!

I shifted into the 25 and proceeded to start the 12% section that was right there.  I was barely moving and just trying to recover.  Luckily we hit a mile where the average was 1% grade.  This was because a good portion of it was downhill and the rest of that mile was only 8%.   Joy!  The last mile is a good clip of 12% average with that last 200 meters being in the high teens.  The 25 saved me getting up to the top.  Big Savage done only 2 major climbs left, Savage River and Killer Miller.

Even after a bunch of descending, the Savage River climb felt harder than it should.  It was on smooth pavement and only 4% but I just felt like I was a Matrix slo-mo effect barely moving.  It came and went.

Another big descent where it sort of opens up to a nasty hairpin turn which flattens out for 300 meters or so before the start of Killer Miller.  It starts you off at 12% for a nice 300 meter or so section.  I got my hopes up as it looked like there was a turn but we were at the top.  Well my perception was dead wrong.  You turn and it kicks to 22% for 400 meters.  The legs were so cooked that I had to give it everything I had in the 25 just to make it up without falling over.  The race director and course architect was right there in the steepest section taking pictures.  I wanted to SAY THANKS for the suffering but I couldn't even mumble.  The only good thing about Killer Miller is it's pavement is smooth.

Overall it was the toughest climb of the day for me.  I hit the top and was so relieved that I didn't even notice they were handing out Miller beer for anyone who wanted one.  Hilarious.

The last 12 miles or so are a gradual downhill with small flat sections.  I was just trying to recover and get the legs underneath as the half marathon loomed with some serious climbing.

I finally got to the point where the bike course merges with part of the run course and saw the overall leader just hauling ass.  I didn't know the finish very well so I got onto the top of my shoes a little earlier than I should've but probably only cost me a minute or so.

The tight dismount area made it quite interesting but I managed to get off without falling down.

All I can say in summary that the bike course was just EPIC.  This puts the event at the top of bucket list for triathletes.  It's just so different than anything else out there.


I proceeded to remove all my cycling clothes(vest, arm warmers, knee warmers, gloves, etc.).  This took some time.  I got the running shoes on and grabbed my hat and fuel belt.  The Honey buckets were outside transition so my pitstop was going to be added to my run split.  Oh well...


I started the run which starts out on a trail for a bit.  I was just sort of easing into the run trying to conserve for the heinous fire road hill that in my mind was going to be a mile long in each of the two loops.  I got to the pavement section and just kept turning the legs over.  The mile splits for the first miles were all under 7.  Perfect and then I hit the first major climb which is into the neighboring campground.  You do get a nice downhill after that so it all evens out.

I hit mile 4 and then you turn onto the fire road which looks like it just goes straight up.  I was doing my best to keep some turnover but not much.  I kept going but then all of sudden it was over.  WOAH! It was only like a quarter mile.  I came back down and was just so relieved and happy.  This wasn't going to be so awful.

Throughout the run since it was two loops and lots of out and backs, I kept seeing folks from the ST gathering and wishing them well.  It definitely helped break up the run.

I kept cruising and then I sort of started feeling my hamstring.  Uh-oh, well that really makes it just a cruise run.  Mentally, I kept telling myself to be careful on all the downhills.  This is where it would bother me most and there was no way I wanted to get injured.  Just not worth it.  I pick up the pace on the hills and flats and just be tentative on the downs.

I made it up the campground for the last time and hit mile 8.  Wow, it didn't even feel like I was out there that long.  During the Rev3 half in July, mile 8 seemed to take forever and started a death march.  Sure I was hammering at Rev3 but it's good to feel in better shape now.

The last fire road ascent was pretty slow as the legs felt slight cooked as it comes at mile 10.  I took it real easy on the descent and then hit the 12 mile marker with no more downhills.  I decided to up the pace and just see how I could finish.  My last mile was 7 which was just fine and I finished.

This was best I felt at the end of a half marathon run.  I was tired but not completely shelled.  My run split was 1:32:45 which was 2:45 slower than what I had thought.  I think if I would've pushed hard I could've hit my 1:30 goal.

Being old allows me only one A race per year so oh well.  My run split allowed me to catch and pass the overall female leader so in the end I didn't get chicked.  Plus my run split was faster than Dave Scott(6-time Ironman World Champion) but he is 57. ;)


Some other interesting tidbits, my swim was 42 overall, bike split was 30th and the run was 5th.  That's more normal with the bike being better than the swim.  Another interesting thing was they timed the Big Savage climb and I was 10th overall as compared to my 30th overall bike split.  I guess being light lets me climb but kills me on the descents.

The volunteers were awesome.  There were some serious remote areas on the bike but there were vocal and enthusiastic volunteers at every potential turn and intersection.  If you watch the Wall videos, you'll see volunteers going up and down the wall with reckless abandon helping participants as well as screaming their lungs out.  A++

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2 months til the taper

Yep, I'm already counting down the days til the taper starts and I've just started putting in some hard workouts.

Elena and I had a great time at Universal Studios with Orion in late August for 3 fun filled days.  Elena absolutely loved the The Forbidden Journey ride in Hogwarts Castle.  We rode that 8 times over the 3 days.  Thank god for the single rider line as that's how we got to ride it so many times.  The castle was totally cool and ride was just great with the interactive screen and real castle stuff.  We had numerous butter beers with the frozen butter beer being the best.  Think vanilla cream soda slushy.

My favorite ride was The Simpsons ride.  It was awesome starting with the queue to the actual ride.  Elena absolutely loved it even though she has never seen a Simpsons episode.  This says something about how great the ride was.   Of course now she's on me to let her watch Simpsons episodes.   I might have to start renting the old seasons and have a go although it still might invoke more questions from her than laughs.  Overall, we went on the ride 5 times for the 2nd most of the weekend.

The weather is shifting from super hot summer to more mild days with even some rain here and there.  This makes it a little more difficult but not impossible. Just 2 weeks ago, I ran 12 miles in absolutely pouring storm rain prior to Hurricane Irene. The only positive was it was over 70 during the run. I successfully missed Irene by riding my miles early the day it arrived and then flying to Oregon for work.
And of course 12 miler today in the mist of another massive downpour.  Ugh.

The diet is going well even though it seems more and more difficult to stay away from the chips. I'm dropping pounds and streamlining. I finally got a digital scale with body fat measurement based on reviews by blogger, DCrainmaker. The best tri-runner geek equipment blog I've ever read.  Anyway, I had planned to spend big bucks but after reading his review of all types of scales, I went with the mid-level one from Target. This scale will come in handy post Ironman to track how many pounds I'll be packing on for the winter.

Speaking of gadgets, I'm still trying to find a triathlon watch that does GPS pacing that's not as large as Flavor Flav's clock. It will just take another season before we get a normal size watch I guess. Quick side typing note.  The whole just "one space" after ends of sentences is almost impossible to get used to. I guess it shows my age since I learned to type on an actual typewriter where the rule was two spaces. Now with the computer it's not needed.

My last tune up race that just happened by luck is coming up next weekend.  Savageman 70.0. It's an epic event with some serious climbing especially on the bike highlighted by Westernport Wall.

It's really gonna bring all the diet sacrifices to the forefront with all the climbing.  I'm in better shape than the July Rev3 Half but with the hills who knows how the time will compare.  In preparation for the event, I hit the hills as hard as possible in Oregon.  I didn't think about doing it until late July but it was full.  All of sudden, they opened up some more transition space and voila I had to sign up.  I think the biggest takeaway will be the suffering for my race preparation.

Football starts for real on Sunday but I'll be in a hotel in Oregon so I won't get to take advantage of the best channel ever the NFL RedZone.  That channel is the only way to watch Sunday football especially when your team stinks aka my pathetic Raiders.  I guess the bonus of being on the West Coast is I'll actually get to see the Sunday night game as well as the Monday night game.

Counting the days...

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Last Day

Yep, it's my last day as a 30 something.  Ugh...the agony.  My daughter laughed at me this morning as I was bemoaning turning 40 tomorrow and told me I was already old at 39.  She decided to point all my gray hair as evidence of being old.  It's nothing for a 9 year old to tell ya like it is.  I just have to laugh every time she does this.  Good times.

Do I feel old, well I definitely have been feeling old the last couple of weeks.  I think the half took a lot of my legs especially the running legs.  I finally had a decent run earlier this week in which I was able to average just around 7:30 pace. least the legs felt somewhat responsive.  The one plus side this month has been the cycling.  I can slowly feel myself improving.  I just need to keep the slow increase until September and October when I sharpen the edge.

I may be turning 40 tomorrow, but I feel really lean.  The LoseIt diet is working great, almost too good lately.  The last few nights I've been starving and basically just cramming as many healthy snacks into my pie hole as possible.  I think I'm down to 140 which is probably the lowest since my exclusive running days.  It's kindof cool to be able to see all your tendons and muscles.  I'm not a bodybuilder or anything so it's quite amusing to see my little chicken arm muscles.

With the latest hunger pains, I've made plans to quash all of this with one visit to the Golden Corral, an all you can eat buffet.  I plan to eat as much as humanly possible.  On top of the massive food that will be consumed at the buffet, I'll be making another Costco trip.  I've run out of my 25 lb bag of rice and will be up-sizing to the 50lb this visit. I'll buying a bunch more broccoli and other healthy snacks that.  I'm hungry right now as I'm typing out this blog but I'll be pasta loading tonight in preparation for the special birthday workout.

Here's the plan.  I'll be swimming 40 minutes and then I'll bike 40miles out and 40 miles back with a 40 lap or 10 mile run to finish.  This will be great and take a good 6 hours to complete or so.  I'll be able to test out some more nutrition stuff as well even though T1 will involve driving from the pool to the start of the bike ride. ;)

It's been ungodly hot since I've returned from the Oregon trip.  It's been above 90 everyday with a few 100+ days as well.  The hottest day so far was 117 on the heat index.  This is the first time I've ever been super hot riding the bike.  Usually when I'm riding the wind keeps me sortof cool but not that day.  It was brutally hot.    It won't be 100+ tomorrow but high 90s and humid.   Just constant sweating while working out.

Well I'll be saying goodbye to this young nubile guy today and hello to the old man tomorrow.  I'm not a youngster anymore.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Portland Rev3 Half...the details


The park/race site wasn't going to open till 6am and my wave(the new 40+) wasn't going till 8:40AM.  I decided to wake up at 5AM to start getting ready.  For this race instead of having your number and age put on you via a sharpie on race day, this event gave us temporary tattoos.  Like kids use…the only problem is I needed Elena to figure how they work at 5AM.  I read the directions but missed a key step.  Remove the clear plastic.  So my first race number was glue to this clear plastic instead of my arm.  Oh great…but I successful got one of my race numbers on my arm.  I was also successful with the "4" to start my age of "40" but screwed up the "0" because again I'm a moron.  I guess I won't be offered a "Race Number Ink" show. First thing to do after arriving at the race site is try to get some additional tattoo numbers. I had lots of time so I decided to drive the speed limit.  Its my way of building of up good car karma.  Speaking of karma, imagine if you had the 9 arms of that Hindu god.  You could be blogging, drinking a latte, shaving and still have hands at 10 & 2 on the wheel.

Pre-race breakfast

I spent so much brain power over the last 3 or 4 months trying to figure this one thing out that it deserves it's own heading.  I have been using just a chocolate chip Clif Bar since my old running days in the mid 90s.  I remember the race I first tried a Clif Bar, the Lake Tahoe relay.  I had my brick hard Powerbar that tasted like sawdust and one my team mates had this new bar called a Clif Bar.  It looked like a normal granola type bar.  He gave me a piece.  I was like WTF…let's see eat compressed sawdust that was so chewy I believe it could replace the super glue on those commercials with guy hanging twenty feet in the air OR eat a tasty relatively normal granola bar.  Tough choice I know.

Fast forward to August 24th, 2008 4AM in a hotel in Penticton, Canada.  I started eating my tried-and-true chocolate chip Clif Bar but barely made it through halfway.  My stomach was like one of those butterfly rooms at a zoo.  The same thing also happened prior to the Baltimore marathon last October.  Nutrition is always called the 4th discipline of triathlon so I've been trying to figure out the best way to deal with pre-race calories.  I decided why not use the same thing I do post race, LIQUID.  After a hard effort, I can only stomach liquid calories to consume in that critical 30-60 minute window when your muscles will suck glycogen like a sorority girl doing a keg stand at a party.  I dialed up Infinit Nutrition(I'll be speaking about them as awesome throughout this report just like when I did Canada in 08).  I talked to one of their nutrition consultants and we built a custom pre-race formula.  It's basically 24 ozs with 340 calories.  I got the bag of powder and I had tried it in training with excellent results.  It wasn't thick or anything and tasted good.

I started drinking the formula as I drove to the race.  I arrived at the race site and was there early enough that I got an executive type spot.  My legs would love me when I had to schelp all my equipment post race doing the Frankenstein walk.

I made my way over to the registration tent and got some replacement tattoo numbers.  Luckily, I wasn't the only one who had tattoo malfunctions.  I started laying out my transition area.  Just by chance the person who had the spot next to mine didn't show up so this made extra space available.  The air was a little chilly so I laid out arm warmers and a newspaper and it wasn't for reading.  I'd be stuffing it under my shirt to start the bike in order to keep the wind off me and stay warm until everything dried out.  The sun was out but it was just a bit chilly plus this would be my plan for the cold Arizona bike start as well.  It's more convenient than a vest that requires zipping, unzipping, stuffing in a jersey pocket and finally removing at T2.

I finished a Honey Bucket stop and was all set.  I figure why not head down to the swim start and if I got cold just put on my wetsuit.  In the information, they said the swim exit was a good four tenths of mile from transition.  It was all pavement except sections here there line by the park and grass.  They would have a rack for bags at the swim exit to hold shoes for the transition run. I've done about 200 meter barefoot transition runs on pavement in previous races and they always hurt.  I would hope that it wasn't major carnage at the rack when I finished my swim.  We'll call this T1a and then the bike T1b.  I was going to use my training shoes for T1a and leave my racing flats for the actual run.

It was a little cold as there was some wind already.  Uh-oh…that's one thing Marine Drive is known for is some brutal winds.  I was hoping that it wouldn't be crazy for the bike.  I decided to put on the bottom part of my wetsuit to stay warm as well as self warm.  That's wetsuit talk for christening your race.

The pro men and women went off sans wetsuits because the water temp was 72. The fastest male finished in just over 24 and a few of us noted that perhaps the swim was long.  I was bummed as I hoped I would be able to really throw down a good time.  I figure just swim as fast and if it's long oh well it will be a good excuse.

It was little odd watching the under 40 wave take off without me.  Oh well, it's time for a new chapter in my life right.  40 is the new 30 right…;)  If you read this far, the free code for a $10 Amazon gift certificate is 1285-847G-YE98-WQ02


The swim was going to be a beach start which would be my first.  Hmm…I guess I should've practiced dolphin diving but when the pro wave went I noticed that only a few them did it so hey if the pros aren't doing neither am I.  Luckily, we were able to get into the water and take some practice.  I swam about 50 yards and got past the adrenaline crush of that first stroke.  I decided to line up way right as I figure most of the big swimming guns would be front and center.  I figured I'd be all alone but was surprised by the number of people who had the same idea.  I was about 2nd person back when they said "GO!".  I trounced into the water and got to about knee level before I commenced an Animal House worthy belly flop.  I hit and immediately started hammering just in case someone was behind me.  About the 10th stroke, I had just a bit of water in my right goggle.  I was surprised since my post swim goggle eyes remain for hours.  I wasn't worried since it's just lake water but man I had a bright red eye when I got back to the hotel at the end of the event.  I swam hard and then took a sight to see if I was hypotnusing to the first turn buoy.  You see a^2 + b^2 = c^2.  Yes not only do get read triathlon exploits but you a Geometry refresher course at the same.  It's a learning blog. As I sighted I noticed that I was about 4 or so body lengths from the knife edge of the swim wave.  Sweet if I can just stay with this group, I could get a nice draft all the way.  I made my way around the first buoy without much turmoil.  The next time I sighted I was basically looking right at the sun.  The direction buoys were contrast enough that you could barely make them out.  I was sitting behind a group but then I felt I wasn't going hard enough so I started powering and everyone was gone.  I was in no-mans land.  I'd pass a few swimmers from the previous waves here and there but pretty much it was just me.  I like being by myself on the swim as I can really pace myself.  When I'm in a draft I have no idea if I'm going hard enough.  Maybe in the next couple years, I'll be able to feel pace.  This is worse with a wetsuit though because personally I don't feel the water at all on my arms.  I basically have to go by pure exertion(try spelling that word right with the help of a spell checker).  The swim seems to take forever and staying focused has been a problem for me.  I made an effort to keep pushing hard the whole way.  I finally reached the point of sighting the swim exit archway.  It looked about 400 yards away so I kicked it into high gear.  As I approached I took a couple extra sightings because swimming full speed into someone standing up and walking out of the water would suck big time.  My fingers touched the bottom and I stood up and bounded up to the exit.  I remember to hit my watch split and saw 31:12.  Not since my Ironman Canada swim time have I've been as excited.  On top that if the swim was a bit, I had just really obliterated my swim PR.

T1a - a wetsuit adventure

I made my way up a few steps gingerly and proceeded to take off the top of my wetsuit.  I always have a little trouble because my arms are super tired getting out of the water so trying to yank them out is tough.  I got them out and took off my cap and goggles.  Now is when the fun er fun for spectators watching begun.  I went to remove the bottom portion of my wetsuit and it got hung up on my left leg and the timing chip.  I yanked and grabbed but not luck in the standing position to get the leg out.  Since I was bent over my leg, I got a super head rush and basically fell down on my ass.  As I was falling, I was like oh well let's try this sitting.  Thank god, I didn't fall ass over tea kettle.  I wrenched and wrenched and finally got the chunk hung up on the timing chip by and off.  There was a staff/volunteer that had my bag and said he'd put away my wetsuit and re-rack the bag.  I asked him if that was allowed since triathlon rules state no outside assistance and then I noticed the staff/volunteer shirt.  Phew..that save some time and then I was off the T1a races.  I absolutely hammered that 0.4 miles to the transition area.  I passed barefoot competitors and people in shoes all the way to transition.


The wetsuit incident had cost me a ton of time but I was able to get to my rack and just shake off.  I was efficient and got my newspaper stuffed without problems.  I did a flying mount and proceeded to get up to speed.


We turned onto Marine Drive for the start of 2 out-n-back loops.  I immediately felt a slight tailwind.  Perfect way to get going.  I grabbed my half concentrated Infinit and gave it swig.  It went down easy without feeling to heavy or sweet from blasting on the swim as the tummy wouldn't have been able to handle anymore.  I was trying to maintain a good pace when a fellow athlete passed.  I immediately upped the pace as he got to legal draft distance in front of me.  We had just turned west into the headwind and I was able to hit about 23-24 behind him legally and it felt just a little harder.  Excellent, I'll just hold on for as long as I feel possible.  I had been practicing legal drafting on my training rides with just random cyclists.  It's definitely a good .5 to 1mph difference in my perceived effort.  This is great for me as I was planning to ride just on the bubble the whole way and see how the run went.  Not so good was most athletes are quite conservative on the bike especially with the warmer temperatures coming during the run.  The guy in front of me is doing his "easy conservative" 23 into a headwind.  Once he goes to pass another athlete his speed increases to 25 with no extra effort on his part.  Well there's a whole lot of extra umph on my part to maintain that legal draft distance without getting shed like a Siberian Husky's winter coat during a Phoenix summer.  This would be the theme of the bike for me.

As I was struggling to hold 21 in various places especially during the 2nd loop, I just kept telling myself I've got four months to average 21.5 for 112 miles and then run a 3:05 marathon.  NO PRESSURE to get my ass in shape by November.  My glutes or in layman terms ass cheeks were hurting big time.  I'm guessing it was from the super effort I put in early in the ride.  Hmm…ease into it the next time.

I approached the last notable section of the ride and just thought man I miss Oregon where you can easily find a flat consistent 50 something miles without many if any stopping.  I still have no idea how I'm gonna get my body ready to be aero for 5+ hours.  As with all triathlons, I keep telling myself as I'm suffering at the end of the bike that my event is coming up.  This is where I shine and put the hurt on people, the RUN.


As I was getting ready to do an awesome flying dismount, the cyclist in front of me decided it was time to lose his balance and swerve toward me.   I was eyeing him anyway so I was able to avoid a potential crash.   Just additional mental notes to keep track of always be prepared for anything as you mount the bike in T1 and as you're ready to dismount going into T2.

I did my flying dismount like I do after each training ride and was jogging into transition toward my rack.  I unclipped my helmet during this time and came to my rack without incident.  Racked the bike, took off the helmet and proceeded to put on my socks.  They went on fairly fast and then the shoes.  Hmm…even with a good pull on the quick laces a little lose.  I'll have to fix that before the next race I use the racing flats.  I grabbed my racing hat and fuel belt and was off.  This would be my first race with Infinit run nutrition.  In all the previous races, I had used PowerGels.  My post mortem on the Baltimore marathon and the massive cramping I had led me to do something different.  In Baltimore, I went with HammerGel the whole way because I found a flavor that I could stomach and had 50mg of caffeine.  The double caffeine really gives me that extra boost.  The problem with HammerGels as opposed to my go to PowerGels is there's no sodium.  Again Infinit to the rescue.  A custom formula when mixed would have about 50mg of caffeine per 8 oz(size of one fuel belt bottle), 110 calories and a good amount of sodium and electrolytes.


With the fuel belt, the plan was to use it's race number attachment system instead of doing a simple race belt and fuel belt.  I did the race belt/fuel belt combo and got a huge strawberry on my hip from them rubbing together.  However, this required a on the fly attachment of side of the race number.  My thought was this would slow me down out of the gate as without even trying my first mile is always lightening fast.  The problem was the footing for this races first half mile was all uneven grass terrain.  I'm bumbling along and look about as graceful as a Biggest Loser contestant on a Wipeout obstacle course.  Mental note, do something different at the Ironman.  I got the number attached and I was off for real.  I downed a full bottle of nutrition as I always start the run with a gel.  Hmm…that didn't feel comfortable in the stomach.

I finally got off the grass and onto the asphalt trail that would be the first 4 miles or so.  I hit the first mile mark and clicked my watch 5:48.  Hmm…mile marker must be short.  I didn't know at the time but saw once I reviewed all my mile splits that while I was getting the race number attached I had clicked my watch split.  So my first mile was 6:30.  I kindof wish I would've known that because I just kept the same pace and hit mile two with a 6:08 split.  Hmm…another short mile maybe I thought?  I relaxed my pace just a bit and came through mile 3 at 6:21.  It was at this point I had the inklings of side ache forming.  Elena has been getting side aches all the time during our runs and I just tell her to be tough and run through it.  Now it was my turn to walk the walk or in this case run the run.  I backed off on the my nutrition schedule to prevent putting more sloshing liquid into my stomach.  I had settled into 6:30 pace which was the plan for a 1:25 run split.  I was zooming by people and on the look out for fellow 40-44 age competitors.  Since there was a slight headwind heading out, I would ease up just a touch when I saw one and then put a burst to go by.   I passed a couple of my age group guys this way and it was going good.  I came up on a 45 guy and just was cruising by when he asked if he could hop on for a bit.  I said sure since we weren't in the same age group.  He said he had just been passed by a couple of guys in my age group.  It was pretty cool that he mentioned that to me.  He finally dropped off and I was cruising waiting to see those fellow age groupers he mentioned.

I started to slowly gain on a 41 year guy.  Okay time to give the plan a go.  I eased up just bit and then upped my pace and gave a burst as I went by.  He immediately responded.  I was like good for him.  Let's see how this goes.  I just kept my pace and he hung on.  Hmm…time to give it a little gas to see what happens.  I put in a good 200 meters of 6ish pace and he couldn't hang.   Just then I came upon another guy in my age group, probably that 2nd guy that I was told about and came around him.  He grabbed on for a bit but it didn't last long and he was gone.   I hit mile 6(burst), 6:24 and mile 7, 6:32.  Then it hit just like watching the movie Titanic and thinking TURN, TURN!! You can avoid the iceberg and well you know how that turned out.  The side ache hit in full.  Crap.  Since the debacle at 2009 Florida 70.3 where a side ache basically reduced to a walk, I've gotten more side ache treatment tricks up my sleeve.  This has all been practiced on my little guinea pig, Elena.  We've done all kinds of things to alleviate her perpetual side aches on runs.  I slowed down quite a bit and relaxed my breathing.  I walked about 10 steps while I dug my fingers into my side and then I started hobbling again.  Just then we hit the turnaround and I saw the 2 guys I passed running together about 100 meters behind me.  Uh-oh, how embarrassing.  They're definitely gonna pass me back with my pathetic side ache pace.  Sure enough they did but were quite nice about it.  After about another half mile or so the side ache was gone, sweet.  Time to get back to it.

Okay the mind said let's go but well the legs said wait just a minute, we don't have enough long runs in to be doing that crazy 6:30 pace anymore, we're tired.  Damn you legs…damn you.  The positive is I would get to do about 3 miles on legs which had given up…good wall training for the Ironman.  Then a light bulb flashed, I hadn't been taking in enough nutrition.  So I downed a whole flask of my nutrition and my legs started feeling a little better.  Not 6:30 better but 7:10ish better.  Again that's perfect wall Ironman pace so I was mentally storing this away.  One of my passers, had started to walk aid stations and I was able to pass him back.

I was dreaming of just stopping.  I wish the miles would come faster and where the F is mile 11 anyway.  I finally saw it.  Okay, I just got to get to mile 12 and then it's pretty much home free.  Again more nutrition and I was slowly snapping out of my funk and feeling like this pace was manageable and just keep going.  Mile 12 was at the last aid station and I figured why not try something different.  I grabbed a cup of cola.  It tasted pretty good and my tummy wasn't unhappy with it being there.  Cool, let's give a little push and then I saw the turn for the final 400 meters or so.  Wow that was quick, so I'm guessing mile 12 was a little off.  I finished and clicked my watch, 4:37:50ish.  Sweet a half ironman PR.  I was wondering how sad my run split was because of those side ache and sucky last miles.  The cool thing about Rev3 events is they have a timing booth that you can get live stats right there on the race site.  I wandered over there and they called up my info.  I ran a 1:26:30.  I was shocked that I was that close to 1:25.  I was a little disappointed because if I was in a little better shape I may have been able to go even lower than 1:25.

If you've read this far, the next blog is free.  Oh and you can see which event I'm most interested in...Bike gets a measly 3 paragraphs and the Run gets 5 monstrous paragraphs...