Thursday, December 30, 2010

For your viewing pleasure

I just added a new page to the blog dedicated to my 2011 Trakkers teammates.  This has been a very active group from what I have seen in the past few weeks with a lot of helpful training tips, comedic adventures, cool giveaways, and just general good reading material!  I know there are a couple of broken links, but feel free to check out their blogs, you never know what one may peak your interest! 

 Trakkers Teammate Blog List

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 in Review

I have seen a number of Year-in-review posts on blogs, and everyone and their brother is doing a year in review of pictures from facebook, but I just got inspired after reading Colleen's recap and decided to take a look back at my 2010. I did happen to stumble on my 2010 Goals, posted in January:

Resolutions/Goals 2010:
  • 160 lbs by May 1 (8 lbs or so since I put a few back on during the holidays) - Yikes, not even close - May have made 164 at some point in the season
  • Find a good work, life, exercise balance - Well executed!
  • Do not stress about little things (also realize that most things are little) - Well executed!
  • Update the blog more often and include more pictures - Getting better
  • Start using my DSLR more - Getting better
 Tri Goals:
  • New Brighton Race (6/5/2010)
    • 1:30/100 yd swim over 1/2 mile - 1:31/100
    • 20 MPH Garmin Average on bike (<42 min bike, 14 miles) - 22.8 MPH
    • Sub 22 min run (3 miles) - 22:11
    • Overall time under 1:20 - Check
    • Ideally shooting for 1:15 - Check 1:13:50
  • Sprint course 21 MPH Average - Done at New Brighton
  • First "test" FTP = 260, Improve to 286 by race season - HAH Yeah Right

Well I missed the weight goal, but also did not approach it very well.  2011 is a new year!  Blogging and taking pictures is on the up, I just need to continue being active on both of those.  As for tri goals, I missed the swim by 1 second per 100 and the run by 11 seconds. I was close, but fell short, although my overall performance was good.  FTP... yeah that thing... I am not sure I had it calculated right (especially looking back at all my races...) Again 2011 is a new year.

Noteworthy Events:
- Amazing ski trip to Colorado
- Broken wrist in March
- MS150 bike ride
- 20 minute improvement at New Brighton
- Active Team Marathon 2010
- 20 minute improvement at Waconia Tri
- 8 minute improvement at St Paul Sprint Tri
- Set Half Marathon PR (beat goal by over 5 minutes) 1:39:34
- 4 AG podiums
- Selected for Team Trakkers 2011!
- Mission trip to Africa

I need some time to compose a new goals post for 2011, this will require some careful planning and thought, I know my schedule will not have as many races as last year (EPIC August was not good to my performances)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Apparently I did not set the post to upload at the right time, so I am manually uploading on 12/26, sorry it is late, but you get the point.  The holiday season is a busy time.  Time for food, family, traveling, and Christ.  We had all of this and more packed into our few day weekend.  What would some travel be without weather.  While going from one place to another, our plans to stay in a hotel overnight got cut short due to a threatening storm that was going to drop 8+ inches of snow.  We loaded our vehicles up and took off at 11PM to make a drive about 120 miles closer to home.  It started off well, then progressively got worse for driving. 

IMG_0503Interstate 35 was starting to look like another field in Iowa.  Luckily we arrived safely, but we did drive most of the time at 35-40 MPH.  It was about 2AM when we arrived! I have driven in bad conditions before, and this was stressful.  The good part is that you know the roads are bad, and people are mostly going the same speed, the occasional car would come flying past way faster than they should, but to each their own.  We saw a handful of cars in the ditch, but I was expecting to see more than we did.


With traveling and all the activities, I had a little trouble getting workouts in as scheduled.  Luckily I packed clothing to run inside on a treadmill or outside if I felt inclined.  I picked outside while it was still snowing the next day.  At the time I headed out, there was probably around 10 fresh inches of powder… what I would have given to be in Colorado skiing!  I headed out and felt good, the temp was perfect, and outside of getting some flakes in my eyes, I was very comfortable.  Since the sidewalks had not been plowed or shoveled yet, I had quite an amount of snow to run through, looking at my Garmin, I noticed I was still running 8:30 miles… that did not last long.  I got on the trail that runs by the river, and my heart was pumping HARD!  

At times I was in snow nearly up to my knees.  It makes you really pick up your feet when you run, that or pull them through the snow. At one point I stopped to snap some pictures.  I don’t mind running in a little snow, but that trail was brutal!  Intervals have nothing on trudging through snow on a trail.  I made it on the trail for about a mile and a half, then cut off on another trail to hit some streets or I would have possibly had a heart attack.  Once I got on the streets, I got some looks as a car or two would drive past or someone was shoveling. 

IMG_0515My route got cut a bit short of the plan, so I did a little out and back to get over 5 miles in.  I was feeling good toward the end, but running out of time, so I headed back although I really wanted to get another 2 or so in.  I have been craving a longer run, so I may try to get one in either Sunday or Monday.

We were home for Christmas Eve and got to attend our church.  Since we have only been in the Twin Cities a couple of years, we have always been out of town, but heard great things about the Christmas Eve service. 
  IMG_0517It was quite the experience.  They had live animals!  Camels, llamas, goats, ducks, cows, and donkeys.  Not to mention the sermon was also quite impactful.  We were blessed to enjoy the service with some other family members who were in town and then spent some time together that night.

I tried my hardest all weekend to be conscious about what I was eating.  Since I started to read Racing Weight  by Matt Fitzgerald, I am watching my food intake much closer than before.  Since making Team Trakkers, I am also wanting to improve my performance even more, and have taken a new stance on how I eat to better my performance and fuel my workouts.  I have steadily been getting back into a schedule.  This week is supposed to kick off a base week.  We will see what it has in store for me! 

For now, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, enjoy the time with your families and safe travels!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Weekly ramblings

It hit me today that I often need a schedule to hold myself accountable.  Being it is nearing the end of 2010 and people typically make New Years Resolutions, I am not going to make my resolution to post more, it just doesn't work.  What I am thinking, much along the lines of my training schedule. When I have a calendar that says Swim 2400 yards on Friday, I am much more apt to do it.  I think a weekly ramblings post may be in order to compile a mix of thoughts from the week, be it about workouts, life, recent happenings, or whatever I feel like typing. 

Last week was the first week back from our trip to Africa (meaning I owe everyone a post or 2), and I got back into working out.  I did run frequently while in Africa, but only a few miles at a time and not real fast pace.  I can tell I have had time off, but it feels good to get back into the swing of things.  After no weight loss while in Malawi...I came back and ended up losing nearly 4 pounds the first week home.  That was partially negated by an amazing dinner at a steakhouse real close to home. Our meal included:

Drinks: Martini(me), Glass of Pino Noir (my wife)
Appetizer: Spinach, Artichoke, Asiago Cheese Dip with fresh baked bread
Main Course: Hawaiian Mahi Mahi over lump crab(me), 7oz Fillet(my wife) - both included bacon-mashed potatoes
Desert: Carrot Cake

This meal was probably the best meal I have ever had from start to finish, amazing service, incredible prices, great atmosphere, and reasonable prices.

Everyone has heard recently that the average American gains 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  Anyone who works in an office setting knows how much food is around.  I have been much better this year about selectively picking what I partake in.  I cannot flat give up eating sweets especially this time of year which has many of my favorite treats.  With some self-discipline and some exercise along with the treats, I have still been able to keep weight steady or trending downward.

Starting this week I got more into my loose schedule (as I start planning for the 2011 season) I got in some bike workouts, a couple of runs, and a couple of swims.  I will start 12/20 with a week of prep before starting in on my training plan to take me to the Rev3 Knoxville Olympic  This will be my first shot at this distance, and I want to perform well... who knows what well means and I know I have a long road ahead based on current fitness, but it helps having a goal and a plan!

My swim seems to be pretty good for as much time as I have been off.  Endurance is lacking, but my 100 splits are not too far from what I was at previously. 

Nothing terribly new on the front here, getting to know the team and finding more details about sponsors as the days tick by.  I am still back and forth about which way to go for my new Kestrel ride.  I know the Airfoil is very similar to the P2 in terms of stack and reach, so I would know the fit pretty well.  It may even allow me to go a bit more aggressive.  I also know the 4000 is a very popular model, many big name pros are riding on 4000s: Andy Potts, Michael Lovato, Amanda Lovato, and Cameron Dye are just some of the names.  I believe the 4000 is a more aerodynamic frame as the full seat tube acts as a faring to the rear wheel.

Since my time has been spent on shorter distances, the aggressive bikes work well for me.  While my longer rides(40-50 miles) do not stack up to the IM or even quite to HIM distances,  I am interested to see if how aggressive a bike can get is swaying my choice.  I know each bike has a range that it can be adjusted and the Airfoil will probably get me low for the shorter distances and could be adjusted up for longer races, I cannot help but think how so many pros are riding the 4000.

Final Thought:
I have a few closing thoughts for the post.  I have been talking with some people at ISM Saddles, and will have a road saddle on the way for evaluation and review.  It should be here next week, looking forward to it!  I also have another secret package that should be arriving soon.... stay tuned.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And people rejoiced...

As long as the Garmin Forerunner 310xt has been out, it has received praise and criticism across the board.  My main selling point to upgrade from the Forerunner 305 was the ability to receive ANT+ signals and thus act as a computer for my power meter of choice.  When I broke into the power market, I started with a HED Jet 60 rim laced into a Powertap SL 2.4 that had been upgraded to transmit via ANT+ protocol.  The Garmin 310xt picked up signal and away I went.  The ability to act as a head unit is what draws many people to the 310xt.  At the time, Garmin only had the Edge 705 out which would also read ANT+ signals and had the ability to do 3 and 30 second power averaging, a staple in using power.  Since then Garmin has released the Edge 500 and now the Edge 800 which also do rolling power averages.  Saris has also released the Joule 2.0 which does the rolling averages as well, thus putting the 310xt at the bottom of the list for ANT+ receivers and useability.

Why would one want rolling power averages?  Well if you are reading this, I am sure many understand, but for those who do not, let us dive into it a bit deeper.  Each data point records at a specific point in time, and that point has a reading from the power meter.  Most people are not 100% efficient in their pedaling, just as in lifting weights, they may have a dominate side.  Think about doing a bench press.  How many times do people push the bar up slightly higher on one side, and then use that as a pivot point as they push the other side up?  This would indicate that they have a dominate side.   Let’s take that and apply it to biking.  Since you have two legs and two sides of the crank, each leg can be considered individually.  A truly inefficient biker will use the pushing motion(down in direction) to generate power peaks and when they are in the recovery (upwards direction) they are not applying any force upwards. 

 When one leg is going down, the other is going up.  So overlaying the two waves that each pedal sees would result in something like this, taken from Metrigear blog as an example:

Since each leg generates a spike, if one leg is stronger or applying more force, you can see the black spike in the middle of the graph applying a higher force than the other leg ever does.

If your sample comes at one of these moments, you will see a higher number reported, but if the sample is taken somewhere towards the bottom of your weak leg pushing down, you may see a drastically lower number.  This results in your computer screen showing very different numbers at each interval.

Is the problem becoming clear?  If you are doing an interval set, and look down to see only 180 watts, the gut instinct is to get your behind in gear and push harder, often overshooting the mark. 

The 3 or 30 second averaging allows the computer to take samples across the selected interval of time and compute the average. 

Current Power
Average Power (3 Second)


200 (200+200+200)/3
202.67 (200+200+208)/3
205.67 (200+208+209)/3
206 (208+209+201)/3
203 (209+201+201)/3

You can see the smoothing that is done by taking the average, and it would be seen even more if we did the 30 second average.  The averages help to eliminate spikes or dips in power if they only exist for a second or two since the majority of the points are closer to the desired range. 

For intervals, I still like to see actual power especially if they are shorter intervals. 

Larabar Giveaway

Take a peek at Megan's Larabar Giveaway, a fellow Trakkers teammate! If you have ever had Larabars, you will want to enter in this contest, and if you have not, trust me... you want to enter!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I am going GREEN!

“Going Green” is all the rage right now.  While I make sure to do my part, I normally do not go terribly out of my way to go green.  Today I took the plunge.  I am going GREEN!


trakkers That is right, I am now an official member of Team Trakkers!  I cannot even begin to express my excitement when I was invited to the team.  I have been following the team over the course of the last year and found the members to be active, friendly, and knowledgeable, not to mention a family. 

I was just looking at my 2011 schedule the other day and trying to organize my races.  Look for me at some of the Rev3 races around the country in 2011.  I was asking for a reason to expand into longer distance racing, and this came as a pretty clear sign.  I know an Olympic distance will be in the books, but I am thinking a half will also be in the books!

I will be parting ways with my ‘old’ 2009 Cervelo P2 to begin riding a Kestrel.  I am in the process of using their fit calculator to find the correct model and size.  Luckily I think I have a fair range of choices that will work, I just need to find the best combination for me.  Here is a picture of the Kestrel 4000 in Trakkers Green!

kestrel-4000-greenI want to thank Carole for putting up with my emails and questions through the process.  I cannot wait for the season to begin and meet some of my amazing teammates.  Watch for more posts and some changes on the blog soon!

As an FYI, I made it back from Africa in one piece, despite what my mother may have thought!  We had an amazing trip (pictures and some stories to come) 

Monday, November 1, 2010

I am not lost/missing/dead!

Life has been busy at best recently.  A slew of activities taking much of my time outside of a busy work schedule has kept me from some of the "extras" in my life.  I have even been slacking recently for workouts.  I may have been in the pool a hand full of times in the past month, and runs/bikes are not far behind that.  It is no surprise that on some recent workouts I feel like death.  A 16-mile bike ride that felt like I was climbing in the Alps last Friday put me in place to start working out regularly. 

We are prepping for our trip to Africa in a few short weeks, luckily I will be packing some shoes (probably the VFF Bikilas) to do some running while over there.  Although life has been busy, I am trying to stay in positive spirits and look at the many blessings in my life, a great family, a job, our friends, and our health to mention a few.  I have been sending out some applications for next season, and may have heard back from one already.... reserving comments until I get some more details, but let's just say this was the big one!  Again some more to come on that as I find out more (hopefully before our trip) 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Timex Global Trainer Giveaway

If you have not seen Ray is giving away a Timex Global Trainer. Hurry to enter!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wahoo!! Not just an exclamation, but a new product

Oops this page has move to my new webpage for Wahoo!! Not just an exclamation, but a new product

Monday, October 4, 2010

Helmet Giveaway

Go check out Mark's giveaway on his blog to win a Lazer Tardiz Aero Helmet.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chicago Triathlon – Part I

This will be my first two part Race Report due to how much there is to include about the whole weekend.  Part One will cover the journey to Chicago and the weekend activities.  Part Two will be the actual RR.

You may remember towards the bottom of The EPIC Journey Begins I mentioned adding Chicago to my race list due to my Lifetime Race Report I worked with someone from Lifetime Fitness and was given a chance for a race entry and passes to the Pro/Sponsor Pre-Party before the Chicago Tri, an opportunity too sweet to refuse.  We did some planning and booked the hotel and air.  This was the first race where flying was a feasible option, but I opted to drive and not hassle with flying my bike.  The girls flew out after work in Friday and I took off around 6:15 AM from Minneapolis on Friday.

It was a bit of a challenge to make sure I had everything since the trip would cover a few days.  I got the car loaded up the night prior and fueled up for a quick start on Friday morning.  Here is a quick shot I took before heading out, not too bad for having my racing gear, and stuff for two others so they did not need to check a bag. 

DSC03038 DSC03037

I was on the road and headed to Chicago, cup of coffee and water bottle in hand.  No the bottle was not to avoid an unexpected pit-stop... it did have water in it!  I can tell that the summer is slipping away from us, it is easier to be up and around before the sun comes up, it is a bit cooler, and trees are almost starting to turn colors.  

DSC03049 DSC03063 DSC03063 DSC03065

I snagged a few pictures around the MN/WI border.  I loaded up iHeartRadio on the iPhone after my station went out of reception and hooked it up in the car, it extended for another hour of driving until I hit Middleofnowhere, WI.  I think it is actually a location that should be on the map, because nothing worked, no cell reception, and hardly any radio stations, so a quick switch was made to the iPod part of the phone.  Ahhh music again.

Before I knew it, my bladder was telling me that we would need gas soon.  Isn't it funny how that works?  I stopped on the NE corner of Madison and hit up a Target for a bathroom, a few groceries including a case of water (never know what city water will taste like in a hotel) and a few miscellaneous items.  There happened to be a Starbucks, so I snagged another beverage and was on my way to fill up the tank.  Before I knew it I was back on the interstate and headed south on the other side of Madison, a city that was much smaller than I expected!  

South of Madison a ways is where the Toll roads begin.  I have only ever experienced toll roads a few times in my life while traveling to Florida, but had prepared and brought some change in a baggie.  I pay the first toll, something around a dollar.  Ok not too bad.  After a while I get on 88 into Chicago to avoid some of the O'Hare nightmare of traffic, and the tolls started to take a toll on my wallet.  I hit so many tolls I lost track!  80 cents, 1.80, .80, .60, etc etc.  Before I knew it, I was darn near in Chicago....and nearly out of change.  I made a few turns and ended at my hotel.  Whew!  I made it in one piece.

After unloading and letting the valet take the car, I checked in and was in the room with all my stuff shortly there after.  I settled in and tried to keep things organized, and then decided to hit up the expo, for the first time.... there were multiple visits.  I picked up my packet and opted out of body marking, I prefer not to walk around with my number plastered all over my arms and legs while enjoying Chicago! 

I took a walk north of the hotel along the lake.  What an amazing view.  Here are some of the pictures I snapped while walking around.  I just used my small digital camera, and did not tote the DSLR around the first day, I just wanted to soak up some of the city. 

IMG_0959 IMG_0961 IMG_0971

Back to the hotel and a quick change, I got ready to go for a run to acclimate my body to the higher temps since it had been so mild recently.  I got in a 5 mile run or so, but backed off the pace because it was much more of a challenge than it should have been.  I got back and showered then shortly after I heard from my wife that they had landed, so I headed to train stop where I would meet them.  Grabbing a quick bite to eat before returning to the hotel, and quickly getting ready for the Pro/Sponsor pre-party. 

Pro/Sponsor Party

So this was pretty cool to be invited to, and I had been looking forward to it since it came about!  I enjoy getting to know and have the opportunity to talk with some people who are at that level.  Although I initially had some feelings that I was out of place, it was quickly put at ease after talking with a few people.  It had said drinks and appetizers, so we ate before hand.  Little did I know that they would have a custom pasta buffet with chef!  How sweet is that?!?! I didn't partake in that, but it was pretty cool to watch him prepare different dishes.  The general consensus, Sunday was probably going to be hot and a rough day for racers. 

I had my first Zico drink, coconut water.  It was pretty good, nothing fancy, but supposedly some good benefits for the body.

We took a moment to step out on the balcony which overlooked Lake Michigan and Navy Pier.  It was an amazing view at night with everything lit up. 

IMG_0358 IMG_0367 IMG_0359

We got back to the room and tucked in for the following day.  Thanks for this amazing opportunity Kelly!


We were not up terribly early, but hit the expo again so my wife could look around.... dangerous for either of us to be down there.  Well we ended up spending some money.  I had scouted a pretty sweet Chicago Triathlon hoodie.  Now that its cooling down, its time to think about hoodies agaig, and I love my hooded sweatshirts in the fall!

I had also spoken with a rep from Zoot in one of the booths, and suggested they show up for the Lifetime Fitness Tri in Minneapolis, and he assured me they were working with Gear West Bike &amp; Tri to be there next year!  Sweetness.  I should have also mentioned that I would really like to be selected for the Zoot Team when they do their picks in a few months, but I restrained.   Well, I went back and unfortunately they did not have the Zoot Ultra TT 3.0 like I wanted to pick up at 20% off, but they did have the Zoot Speed.  Being a former Iowa Hawkeye.... I have a soft spot for Black and Gold.  Being an engineer, I have a soft spot for gadgets, and the Speed is one more piece of gadgetry that I *cough*need*cough*.

A pair of shoes later as well as a chip strap... because I was not going to use the plastic band they give you to attach the chip, UNCOMFORTABLE!!!!!!   We walked around some more, and then I found that I had missed an area of the expo the day before.  It was split into two rooms.  I realized I had missed my goodie bag and t-shirt, so I wanted to pick that up.  This was in the second room, a good way for people to have to visit the second area.  Looking around some more, I didn't find much I couldn't live without, so we headed out. 

After getting things up to the room, we set out to see some of Chicago.  We walked north on the lake, and walked to Navy Pier.  Holy cow was there ever a boat load of people!  It was hot, I was sweating, I was getting hungry, and not in the mood to deal with people.  Luckily we got something to eat and it got a bit better.  Not so much my scene that day, but here are some of the pictures I snagged throughout the day.

DSC03081 DSC03090 DSC03093 DSC03095 DSC03096 DSC03097

We then headed to Michigan Ave for a little more shopping.  After only a few stops and one Coach purse later, we decided to head back to the hotel, this time in a cab.  Was I glad to not have to walk back!  It would have been a long few miles, and my legs would have let me know about it. 

DSC03101  DSC03104 DSC03103

When we got back, we started getting ready to meet up with one of my wife's friends for dinner.  We headed out and grabbed some food at a pretty sweet sports bar just a couple of blocks away.  The inside was very modern, TVs everywhere, Cubs game, White Sox game, Bears pre-game, and UFC later that night... it was a great atmosphere!  We had some hummus as an appetizer with pita bread, and I ordered a Panini with mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and pesto.  The food was amazing, I would love to go back the next time I am in town.  Along with dinner went a beer, since the past two races I had a drink the night before, I figured why mess with something that has worked. 

Stay tuned for the race report to follow.....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lake Marion Triathlon - 2010

The Race:
Finally a race in my backyard.  Well technically it was about 6 miles from home, but that is easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy.  The purpose for this race was to do a race close to home so we could sleep in a little bit, well that sounds better than in reality.  My wife was also doing this race, so we had ridden the bike course a couple of times and found some challenging hills and turns, making this one of the most technical courses I have raced. 

Race Morning:
The normal morning, except rather than a flatbread with pb/honey... I changed it up, Greek Yogurt and granola!  Partially because we only had 1 flatbread and I deferred that to the Mrs. This was a good meal for me, as I would snack on a Marathon Bar before the race in transition.  We had loaded up the night before to give us as much time as possible.  This still involved us waking up at 5:30 AM so we could be out of the house by 6 and at the park at 6:15.  There was a pre-race meeting at 7:30, and I like to get settled in, and get a warm-up for all 3 sports done ahead of time.

The layout was not ideal, you had to park a ways away and walk everything in.  Even worse, spectators had to park much further, not ideal for my wife's grandparents to walk to the park when they would arrive.  We arrived and setup our areas after trying to figure out which entrance was which.  A quick bike into the wind to get my legs moving and a run to try and figure out where the run course took off from transition ended in a failed attempt, so I just kept running.  When I got back, transition was closing so I grabbed my QR sleeveless wetsuit and headed to the lake for announcements and a quick swim. 

There was a fairly strong WNW wind which would be in your face the first section of the bike loop.  Temperatures were amazing though, a cool low 60 degrees made almost ideal race conditions especially with the heat we have been experiencing recently.

Not and out and back, not a rectangle, some combination of the two for a half a mile.  Since there were higher winds, the lake was choppy, nothing like what it had been the days we biked the course when it was like glass.  There was an occasional whitecap, but it paled in comparison to Lake Waconia 2009  The waves were rolling from left to right as you started the swim, thus pushing you towards shore. 
A picture of the GPS track will give a better example...

(GPS Swim)

This event was different than many in the past, my wife and I, both in 25-29 range would start in the same wave, 3 minutes after elites/relays.  They took off and after about 100 yards some people who I assume to be relays were stopped and treading water.  I am not sure what came of this, but I think the chop may have taken a few people off guard.  That being said, for as much rain as we have had recently... the water was still shockingly warm.  I was glad to have gone sleeveless, the wetsuit helped in the chop to keep me horizontal, but I would have been roasty-toasty in my full suit. 

We took off, and I made a hard effort to get out front early.  This came with a price.  I had noticed the shore was sand for about 12 or so feet then turned to pea gravel which was a bit rough on the feet.  Somewhere in there, I think I cut my toe a little, or maybe it was on my way to transition, but after getting home and examining it closer, there looked to be a very small grain of clear sand or glass in the joint/knuckle of my big toe.  Luckily this did not affect my race at all as I only noticed after the race was done.  I decided to dive in a bit earlier as running on the gravel was a bit uncomfortable, well I dove with too much speed, pop goes the seal on the goggles, both eyes full of water.  I tried to swim and see if it was manageable, but it was not, so I stood fast and cleared them up, and started swimming. 

I expected the way out to be rough with the waves forcing me away from the buoy and back to shore from my left side.  As odd as it sounds, I took in more water when breathing on my right side than on my left, although the waves were coming from the left.   I felt strong on the way out, passing some of the relay pink caps, and never seeing a green cap on the way out. 

002 003
I was a bit thrown off by this since I am not normally the FOP swimmer.  I was afraid I was significantly off my line, which made me sight more often, which actually was a good thing, my line was pretty good on the way out. 

I turned around and headed back for the long "half" headed back in.  This is the section I started to swim a bit crazy on.  Still not seeing any green caps, I did not know what to think.  I found myself going left and right much more, possibly due to the waves, possibly due to me not swimming well, who knows, but I kept moving, feeling comfortable and strong. 

As I got close to shore, I still had not seen a single green cap.... ok well I must be the first out of the water, as I ran to transition I did not see any caps ahead of me, so I kept moving thinking I was in first. Looking at my watch, I was slow of what I expected which made me think the course was long and people just had issues with chop.  Who knows?

Transition 1:
A long run to transition, I peeled out of my top and had the wetsuit off my waist before I got to the bike, and would you guess it.  I still got it stuck on my ankle.  I got out of the suit and into my bike shoes, shades and helmet on, and away I go.  After taking a couple seconds to put my race belt back on the rack since it had blown off from the wind. 

This two loop course was the first multi-loop style race I have done.  Heading out of the park there was a short stint on a road before heading west into the wind.  The stretch had some elevation, but nothing terribly exciting, just the wind in your face which caused it to be much slower than I would have wanted.  It also took a bit more pedaling than I would have picked right off the bat, but all in all it went pretty well.  Another right turn to head north on a frontage road with a strong cross wind due to the interstate being right next to us.  I made good time here and made a lot of passes, mostly of relay racers, but I did manage to sneak up on a few female elites. 

The next segment is where the "fun" begins... A right turn into a dead end street, with some boards making a ramp up and over the curb at the end of the cul-de-sac to put you on a windy bike path.  I was glad to be out early and get one lap done before it got congested.  At the end of the path, a post in the middle of the trail which required some attention to not cause a mess.  It pops you out in another cul-de-sac and you see the hill begin.  At this point you are going slower due to the windy trail and post, to have to start climbing a pretty steep hill.  I made some more ground here the first lap, going past some more relay teams. 

Through some residential neighborhoods and then back out to a main road for a short descent before another large climb.  Unfortunately there was construction at the end of the climb which made me spike my wattage to pass and not get pushed into a sign.  The next segment was mostly downhill with one roller which got me some good speed, but was very short lived as it drops you back towards the park and a few tight corners followed by railroad tracks. 

Right after starting the second loop, I caught glimpse of a 29 marking ahead of me and realized I was not number 1 out of the water, turns out he was about 2 minutes ahead of me on the swim, but as I passed feeling good on the bike he yelled out a "Yahooo!" or something to that effect.  Feeling good that I caught someone ahead of me, but still not knowing who else could be ahead of me.  I had a bit more difficulty on the hilly section the second time as it was more congested, but managed to get back to the park in fair time, only getting me a 21 MPH average on the bike.  I suppose for the course it was alright, but I know I could have raced harder.

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Transition 2:
Nothing real eventful here, a quick stop to rack the bike and grab the race number and I was off. 

I had no clue what to expect, outside of hearing some people say that it was hilly.  I took off and as I rounded the first corner coming away from transition, I looked back to see who was following me.  One guy that I could see, and he caught up to me quickly, but said "Relay" when he passed me.  This was nice, obviously he knew I was scouting to see what I should be worried about. 

The course starts off fairly flat and then goes into some smaller hills which seem to grow as you get further away from the park.  I hit mile 1 right around 7 minutes and felt pretty good, but wanted to back off pace just a little to not blow up as I did not know what to expect the rest of the run.  There were more hills!  I hit the turn around and felt solid, right about 10:30 I think.  As I headed back I was able to try and assess the situation of who was behind me and how they looked.  Having only seen a hand full of guys who were obviously elites and a few ladies moving at a solid pace, I had a strong feeling I may have been in the lead for my wave. 

I hit mile 2 and dropped the hammer, telling myself to not get passed by a guy running 6 minute miles in the 3rd mile.  I had seen one guy that looked strong and did not look that far back from me at the turn around.  Turns out he was probably a bit further than I realized (not really doubling the time since turnaround in my head)  I pushed and dropped it down the last stretch when I hit the trail that lead back to the park.  Slightly uphill on grass is not a great way to end a race, but I kicked it in and crossed the finish line feeling good. 

Swim: 14:54 (1:42 / 100)  A tad slow, but distance looked accurate
T1: 1:51
Bike: 39:51 (21 MPH)
T2: 0:33
Run: 20:54 (6:44/ mile)
Overall: 1:18:01 (3:01 shy of my goal) Good for 16/242 Overall and 1/10 AG.  There were 3 others in my AG registered as Elite that took 5/7/15 overall.  I was quite happy with the placement, which was a good offset to my overall time.  I had a solid run that was the highlight of my day.  I have less than a minute to go (in a tri) for my 20 minute 5k goal. 

My wife had a solid effort as well, she was also a few minutes slow of her goal, but ended 6/14 in her AG, only 3 minutes away from placing third.  Had she actually trained more than a couple of times, she could have made that time up pretty easily.  What a great race!  The bike was technical and challenging, the wind added to that factor as well.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Urban Wildland 1/2 Marathon Race Report

The Race:

My first ever half marathon.  If you do not count the 4 halfs of the 2 full Twin Cities Marathons I have run previously. This is  the first time I have really looked at the results from those races and analyzed my splits…. Yikes.  The first year, talk about pacing issues, I knew I went out hot, but adding 40+ minutes to the second half, ouch!  In 09, I ran with a pace group so pacing was much better… but I digress.  My best split happened to be from the first half marathon segment I ever ran, 2:05:25.


1 – 2:05:25

2 – 2:46:39




Well I signed up for this race because a discount was offered through work, and it was supposed to be my wife’s first half marathon.  Unfortunately she got a nasty virus about a month ago, which took her our, and when she tried to run again it knocked her back down.  She decided that it would be best to skip the race and run one later in the year.  It was the right call!  We did some of our training together for this, mostly on longer runs.  Our longest run prior to the race was 8 miles and at a pace that was significantly off what I would typically use for long runs.  I have been doing speed work for shorter distances, running 4-8 miles on these higher intensity workouts.

One of the 8 mile runs I did, I aimed at hitting an 8 minute a mile pace and was a bit slower.  Based on my previous marathon times, and my best marathon being 4:12:xx, I have grown a good amount in my run this past year, but without proper volume and training, I was not sure what my endurance pace would clock in at.  My thoughts were that I improved 35 minutes from 08 to 09 to reach my 4:12 marathon, and with another year of gains, I thought a 25-30 minute range would be a possible improvement.  Using the handy-dandy *McMillian* Run Calculator, I plugged in a 3:45 marathon and it spit out 1:46 for the half marathon pace.  Since it was a race, I figured I could set a goal of 1:45, all while still knowing that I did not properly train for this race.

I could tell my heart was not in this race, probably due to my lack of training, and thoughts that I am so far from a runner, that I was just doing the race for myself.  As I have been having a great year in my tri races, running is still not my strong suit, and there are some seriously fast runners that would wipe the floor with me.  I had not planned very much, heck  even the night before I did not really know what time the race started.  Also since my wife and I were supposed to both do this race, I was also down a bit that she was not going to participate. 

Race Morning:

Up and at it early in the morning, hey at least this was on a Saturday!  I had the typical pb and honey flatbread, snagged a bottle of Gatorade on the way out the door as well as my Marathon Bar, Shot Blocks, and Hammer Gel Packets.  I ate the Marathon Bar as I got to the race site, and sipped on the Gatorade while walking and stretching out.  After a visit to the port-a-potty, I went back outside and got attacked by 3 or 4 kamikaze mosquitoes.  Great now I would have these bites that itch, one on each leg, and one on each arm… really? 

I stretched out a bit more and went for a warm-up run to get my legs under me.  I was standing around waiting for the race to start and heard someone say my name.  As I turned around, I saw Mike and Tony.  Mike works at the same company as I do, and is involved with the Miracle Kids Triathlons, and Tony is the race director for the tris.  After talking with these guys, we figured out that Mike and I were aiming for the same 1:45 mark, so I hopped in with them for pacing.

This would be a good point to add that Tony is an extremely accomplished athlete.  He ran a 2:18 marathon in ’84 for the Olympic qualifiers, has raced at Kona 4 times, professional triathlete, many race wins and awards to go along with that.  He is an outstanding guy with a very sincere heart. 

The Race:

Well I have never paced a half marathon, so having Tony was a plus.  I knew that a 1:45 was right at an 8 minute mile.  We started off and I immediately felt settled in to our pace which happened to be faster than what we needed, but felt good.  From someone my wife works with, who was running this race with her husband, she said that this was not a great course to PR on due to some narrow paths, trails, and just the overall layout (a lot of switch backs on roads.)
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I was feeling good and just shy of mile 4 noticed that Mike had dropped back a little and had taken off his shirt.  He was working harder, but we slowed at the water stop and got back together.  Around mile 5 he told Tony to keep with me as I was looking strong, and he was just not feeling it that day.  I popped a few Shot Blocks before a water station, washed them down, and hit the 10k point in 48:16. 

Tony dropped back to check on Mike, and during that time I lost pacing a bit, partially because I was still feeling really strong.  Miles 7 and 8 were both at 7:16 pace.  When Tony got back up to me, I was slowing just a bit from this effort and mentally I was slipping.  I got confused at mile 9 thinking I had 3 miles to go, wrong!  I knew I would hit a block somewhere around 8-9 due to my long run distance.  I got to mile 10 and reality struck realizing that NOW I had 3 miles to go.  Somewhere around mile 9 or so the rain started, a light sprinkle, but it slowly grew as I progressed.
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At this point I was a bit fuzzy but realized that mile 10 would be 80 minutes if I was on pace, well I was somewhere around 1:06, meaning I was up by about 4 minutes.  Tony also computed this quickly and asked if we should shoot for 100 minutes, a 1:40.  I said I will do my best, but I was slipping in form and effort had gone up.  My HR was around 177, so I focused on trying to bring it down. 

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Interestingly enough, these pictures progress from me saying eh we will see, when asked how I was feeling, to a big smile. I must have been enjoying myself!

Here is where the

race pushed me!  Mile 10, I managed to get through pretty easily.  Mile 11 I was slipping, thoughts of slowing the pace significantly for a little to recover started appearing in my head.  I told Tony that I had to back off the pace just a little, so we dropped to a 7:47 pace or so.  I had many voices in my head wanting to stop as I was UNCOMFORTABLE!!!!!  Yes Jeff, remember this feeling, this is what you need to push for in the tris.  I hit mile 12 and knew I had my work cut out for me.  Tony had kept pace and ended up a few yards ahead.  I aimed to keep him within 5 yards, and eventually caught back up.  I knew I was pushing my reserves because my HR was well into the 180s, and I kept looking at my watch ticking down the moments I had left. 

Well with about ¾ a mile to go, I felt like I was going to yak.  Ok Jeff, you are at that point now, this is where you just push through it, if you puke, do it and keep going.  Your effort is strong, keep it up! As we neared the final stretch, Tony paired me off with a lady who we had been following for the majority of the race and told us to go get 1:40 together.  He went back for Mike.  We pushed it to the end, and was I ever glad to hit the finish line. 

Final time: 1:39:34 A PR!!!!!!!
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I was spent!  The volunteer had to help untie my shoe and get the timing chip, because I was afraid to bend down for fear of blacking out.  The rain was enough to be noticeable.  I quickly grabbed some water and an orange slice and saw my wife and her aunt and my niece.  After visiting and finding them some cover to get out of the rain, I walked back to meet Tony and Mike.  Mike ended up finishing in 1:48 only a few minutes off his goal.  The picture above on the right, I look a bit like a deer in headlights, I was probably mid-sentence when it was snapped.

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After meeting back up with my wife, our niece, and her aunt, I let them go home to get out of the rain the 3 of us stood around and talked a while, got massages, and then headed home.  During this time the rain significantly picked up and I started getting COLD! 

I did a quick clothes change at the car, and even when I got home I was shivering.  Great… what a great way to get into an ice bath.  Cold water running, I emptied the ice maker bucket into the tub and prepared a couple of warm water towels to make it more manageable.  I plopped down and let my legs soak a while. 

After that was compression pants, and some elevation as I caught up on Shark Week for an hour.  I ended up suggesting lunch at PF Changs with my wife and her mom, and shopped with them a while to help keep my legs active.


I learned so much about myself this race, and have Tony to thank.  He pushed me within my limits and offered some great advise.  I appreciate everything he did to help get me to the line in less than 100 minutes!  My nerdy side went home and plugged my time into the McMillian Calculator and got out a 3:30 marathon estimate.  Wow!  That means I am 20 minutes away from my Boston Qualifying time… things are looking up.  I think with run focus next year I could qualify if I really tried, but I may continue on the tri path for another year, and see where that takes me and then look to qualify in 2012.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Camp Courageous Tri

This was the first year for the Camp Courageous Triathlon located just outside of Monticello, IA.  I grew up about 30 minutes from there and was excited to do a race out of state and close to "home" so my parents could easily watch.  I was a little nervous going into the event because there was not a whole heck of a lot of information on the web and I do not always deal with uncertainty the greatest.  The logistics of the race perplexed me since there would be two transition areas, and questions quickly filled my head. After a call the week before with the race director, my nerves were eased as I found out more about the race.

The race would start in Central Park and then travel 16.7ish miles to Camp Courageous via bike, where the run would be an out and back.  Sounds simple, but the little things such as "What happens to my goggles and swim cap/towel from T1?" get in your head.

I woke up before my alarm... 3:56 AM and immediately thought to myself "Your wife is correct, you are crazy..."  I snuck out of bed and shut off my alarm to start getting ready.  Race morning consisted of a flat-bread with pb and honey, and a mug of coffee before heading out the door at 4:30.  It was still very much dark, very much humid, and very much foggy.  The drive through rural Iowa took me between many corn fields and bean fields, patches of fog, and even a city or two.  I arrived at Camp Courageous and parked the car.  Logistic step 1... park the car where you will finish the race.  Since I left my bike at the park over night (while under security) I had to go setup my T2 area.  I dropped my shoes and race number on a good rack spot and hopped on the shuttle bus that would haul me and the other type A's who arrived super-early to the park where our bikes were hopefully located.  Sure enough when we arrived, they were there, covered in a heavy coat of dew... actually looked like heavy rain because it was so sticky. 

I dried off my handlebars and aerobars, some of the components, the seat, and some brake track as best as possible and started to settle into my spot.  I chatted it up with a bunch of people, handed out some Marathon Bar samples, and even helped a lady who was having some tire issues.  Some how she tore out the entire valve core on the rear tire and it went flat instantly.  It was a very easy tire to remove and was done in short order. 

As time got closer, I hopped on the bike and took it out for a spin, up and out of the park, out the first road and onto the country road we would ride for a few miles.  The park had a nice climb starting about 100 yards away from transition.  It traveled much easier than it looked, and I was feeling good on the bike despite my seat feeling a bit off the day before.  I have to do some checking, but either the seatpost slid down, or more likely the seat angle got bumped, as when I measured on Saturday with my phone, it was -7 degrees or so.  Much lower than I have ever set it.  That being said, I felt comfortable riding and not like I was falling off.  This week will be some analysis of what the heck happened to it and where it needs to be. 

Outside of feeling like I was not getting full (proper) extension on the bike, I got back and racked the bike to do a warm-up run.  Again I headed out of the park up the hill and was holding a good pace, but I started to sweat instantly due to the heat.  Some stretches at the top and a nice descent into the park and I found my family had arrived on a bus that I ran past on my way out. 

We talked and I handed off some of my extra stuff for them to take back for me, and then it was time for a swim warm-up.  Nothing exciting here.  Race announcements, the Star Spangled Banner, and then chaos of trying to have 200+ people line up according to swim times by their estimated completion time.

The Swim:
The water was a warm 84 degrees, but it broke some of the humidity, so I was ready to go.  I lined up behind 15 people, so I was number 16 to go in.  In the first 100-200 yards, I made good effort passing people, despite losing my line slightly and doing some additional swimming.  The course was not the normal square with right angle turns, they were much different as seen by my GPS route below.

swim route

So you can see where I went off track a few times, but these turns were a bit more of a challenge, we all know what right angle turns feel like, but making a turn that is only a few degrees or almost a 180 is quite different to get used to.  On the final stretch, I got a glimpse of a swim cap about 10 yards ahead of me and pushed to swim up on them.  Once I caught up we were neck foot the whole time in. 

I don't know what position I came out of the water, but I saw a sub 8 on my watch as I took it out of my cap, right on target.  By the time I hit the transition mat, it was just over 8. Take a look at these phenomenal swim pics.  This photographer was amazing, more to come on that later.
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Transition 1:
Nothing terribly eventful here, my bike was about in an ideal spot as close as possible to the exit, outside of this layout making multiple people to rack on the same side of the rack, I got out and left my cap/goggles/foot towel in the bag to be picked up (hopefully!)


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I got on the road and straddled the bike, tried to pedal backwards to get clipped in and my chain dropped.  I quickly try to fix that and get on the bike to get moving.  I climbed out of the park pretty easily, got on the first road and was having some issues getting my HR to settle, so I backed off the pace so I could focus.... Well that focus came with a price, I was focusing on breathing and getting regulated, not the rumble strips that rapidly approached.  Ouch!  I rolled over the three sets and took a right hand turn, time to hammer. 

I saw some people ahead of me, but could not get a good view on how many were there, so I pushed, and pushed, and could not get my wattage to where it needed to be, despite flying down the road.  I got on a main stretch that looked into a longer climb, and I could see a ways ahead of me.  Count them, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  people in a string, and 1 guy way up there.  I About half way through the course, I hit my peak speed of 33 MPH.  I did what I could to close the gap on the string of people ahead of me, passing some, and then I found my match.  A guy in my age group, I passed him while passing another person, and then it became a leap frog fest.  He would pass me on some up hill climbs, but blow up towards the top, so I would crest and power through the flat making good headway, but a few minutes later he would pass again.  This happened I don't even know how many times. 


I ended up hitting transition first, but first a moment about the photographer.  As I came in on the final stretch into the camp, they had a section for no pedaling.  I used that as opportunity to get out of my shoes, as I see a race photographer.  My first thought, great another horrible picture with me hunched over trying to get out of my shoes.  COME ON!  Well I will take that back.  The race pics were amazing... again more on that at the end.

Transition 2:
Well if you want to see a classic example of what not to do, watch me.  I fumbled into transition, racked my bike, got my shoes on, helmet off, and headed out.  Wait you may say, that sounds good, but I forgot my race belt.  I realized it half way out of the area, but went back for it.  I love Garmin showing this, and with a little work, I see from the point I stopped and turned around, until when I got back there, was no less than 10 seconds, sure not a lot, but I wanted every second. 

On my way out, I saw the green guy, AG'r that was near me on the bike.  I exited transition first, but was distraught from the race number.

I tried to settle into a pace, but was not feeling like things clicked.  Sure enough only a few minutes in, he comes zipping past.  Ugh, I am not feeling it, knowing the run is not an area I typically make up time, but rather hope to lose as little as possible to some of the faster guys.  I was pushing to hit a 20 minute 5k since it was USAT sanctioned, but quickly realized when my 7:00 pace felt like I was running 6 flat, that was going to be a stretch.  I held on to what I could as I saw the guy in green slip away.  The run was an out and back, so I got to watch people (and count) as they came back past me.  The leader was flying with ease, and ended up dominating the competition.  At the turn around, I was the 9th person, but quickly saw that there was someone on my tail, and I was hurting. 

My goal for the race was to be uncomfortable, well I got my wish.  The heat beating down on me was uncomfortable along with the humidity.  After the turn around, it was ugly.  I managed to pass one person, and then get passed, so net nothing.  I was able to dig down the last 6 minutes and keep building my pace, but it was not enough to make up for the rest of the run.

run1 run2 run3

Overall I hit a 7:13 average, not bad for the heat/humidity, but a ways from my goal still.

Overall: Not too bad of a day. 
I finished with a breakdown as follows:
Swim: 8:06 (1:38/100 yd) 13th Place
Transition 1: 0:39
Bike: 43:45 (22.9 MPH) 205 Watts 8th Place
Transition 2: 0:49
Run:  22:21 (7:13 pace) 18th Place

Overall:  1:15:38 (11th Overall, third AG, but 1st took first overall, so I got 2nd)

Considering I predicted a 1:15 goal time, I am pretty happy with the results.  The weather made it tough.  By far my favorite bike course this far.  It was challenging, but fun.

As for the race photos.  I was thinking bad things about the pictures as all the times I saw them, they were in bad spots, but after seeing the results (must have missed a lot of them out there) I am shocked.  I never get good pictures.  The swim pics are amazing, wish my bike photo was more in focus/brighter, but I wont argue.  The run pics, wow, I do not look like I am going to die. 

Overall it was a good race, with good results.  There are a lot of take-aways from this race, but a solid effort all around.

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