Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Topeka Tinman Short Course Triathlon Race Report

Well I ended up having a pretty good day at the races this last Saturday, despite my best attempts not too!  On Thursday before the race, I went and explored the area where I am coordinating a mountain bike trail on Fort Riley and came back with a tick or two!  Awesome!  Then on my training ride, I was descending a large twisty hill and had a rear wheel hop and went into a tree at about 20 mph, which hurt!  But after I got cleaned up, the crash wasn't too bad, some minor scrapes and bruising, nothing too bad.  Even the bike wasn't too bad, just a flat front tire.  But that was a heck of a way to "tune up" for my first tri of the season!

Ended up getting up at the butt crack of dawn for the race, which wasn't too bad, despite the wife was coming with me so she was a little sleepy to say the least.  Got the car loaded and we hit the road for the about 60 minute trip to Topeka and Lake Shawnee, the home for the last 33 years for the Tinman Triathlon.  We got there pretty well without getting lost much and got into the park nice and early.  Got my chip, packet, and shirt all without a wait (benefits of getting there early) headed to transition and got to my rack, and got the "pole position" on the aisle, which was a bonus.  After setting up transition, headed back to get Jen and drop off my extra stuff I didn't need, came back and went for a warmup ride to get to know a little of the course.

Well despite reports that the course was flat, the opening area in the park was a little hilly, nothing major, but enough to get the gears shifting a bit, so rode out 2 miles and came back, so at least I knew those miles for the ride.  After I got back, I racked the bike, and headed to the water to see how cold it was.  The lake wasn't bad at all, a nice 75 degrees, so I would get to go without the wetsuit, and race in my new 2XU Project X trisuit. Swam a little bit, and got out to get ready to roll.

This year, I aged up to the tough M40-44 AG, so wasn't sure how tough it would be, but was nice to have a slightly smaller wave to go off with, so that was good.  Turns out the race winner was a M40-44, as was 4th overall.  Yikes, got some fastys here!

I ran as far as I could in my "onesie"!
Waited for my wave, wave 5 and lined up towards the back right, as the course was a trapezoid shaped course with all left hand turns.  Too bad my goggles kept fogging up with the humid air, but oh well, I was going to find toes and draft, which I did and then something happened that doesn't happen all the time; I passed people.  Lots of people.  Not that I was that fast, just that I was less slow.  So instead of getting run into, I was running into people (thanks goggles), but nothing too bad, and no panic attacks in the water either.  Just a bit slow, but I moved my way thru the crowd pretty well, only had to "otter" over to catch my breath two or three times, which is a big improvement!
Wet and a little tired, but still moving fast!
But I came out of the water about 17th in my wave, and mixed with the other 4 waves, so I was tired, but not tired enough to walk the hill to transition like a few in my wave were.  Hey, T1 is free speed and time in my book. But hey, if they want to walk, no problem, I'll run it and pick up places!
Swim - 8:32 / 400meters (17th in wave / 90th overall)
T1 - 1:32 (13th fastest overall) - This was my Achilles heel before!
Now with the non-fun stuff out of the way, now I can get to one of my strengths, the bike!  I have been working harder on the bike this year, which has seemed to carryover to the run and a little bit to the swim, which is great.  As I ran from transition, I ended up passing 3 folks who stopped at the mount line and mounted their bikes.  I chose not to do that and did the flying squirrel mount and stuck the landing (nailed it!) and started to motor.  With 4 waves ahead of me, the traffic was mighty thick and I was saying "On your left" a whole lot, so that I didn't cross the centerline.  But I started to put the hammer down early in the park, knowing I would have to power through the wind on the outbound leg of the "lolly pop" shaped course, and could get the tailwind on the way back in.  I was making sure that I was putting in a good, metered effort and tried to look a little more fresh when I passed guys in my AG who were fast in the swim than me.  I ended up passing 4 from my wave in T1 and was hopping to make more ground up on the bike, which I only caught another 4 on the bike, the rest were from the other waves, since I passed a TON of people out there (hmmm, now if I can get some aero wheels and helmet that would mean more fast! LOL), but still was moving up until I got to one guy who was in the 45-49 AG and we passed and re-passed each other.  Got a little annoying as he got me on the hills, but the downhills and flats I outpowered him.  After a few of the "cat and mouse" games I decided to put up a big effort to get hime away from me (don't think he was drafting me, but again, I don't look behind me when I race).
Sorry for the language, but this is funny!
So after we made the turn back on to the "stick", I put in a nice hard effort (around 27-28mph) for about a mile or so.  That seemed to do the trick, but I really had to pay attention to the road because most other folks were slower and objects in your Oakley's are closer than they appear!  Yikes, it was like in those video games when you hit the "turbo" button, you catch up to things a lot quicker!
Nice and low, getting ready for the dismount
I figured I was done with the dude, but just towards the end , he caught me and passed me, but I was going into power-down mode to get the legs ready for the run, so I figured I'd see him soon in T2 or the run.  I don't completely stop riding hard for the last two miles, I just stop the low RPMs, and get a higher cadence to get the legs ready, which translates to a few MPH slower, but worth it to have "good" legs versus "dead" legs.
Bike - 36:35 (21.3 MPH) 16th fastest bike split - not bad, could be better
T2 - :59 (still scrolling, still scrolling, ah 75th overall, ugggh, still not too bad)
Heading back in from the run.
Ah, on to my meat and potatoes, the run.  I wasn't sure how I would do after running the 10 miler this week and with the heat, but I was going to give it my best effort for the first race of the year (at least for triathlons).  But after a semi-quick transition (need to go sockless for the run), I was out and running and started to pick off folks right out of the gate.  I even found Mr. Cat-and-Mouse and passed him and just kept the pace up and keep my splits in the low to mid 6:00s, but the heat was a factor in that.  At least it was an even player out there and factored in to everyone's runs as well.  Despite the black trisuit, I was still in good shape and managed the heat well enough not to die, so I kept going and passing folks.  I did get passed by the eventual female winner, she came out of no where and passed me, which woke me up and I pressed hard the last 1.25 miles (the run was about .15 long, but still had a good run), and overall had a good run.
Thinking about icecream, icebergs, Ice Cube, Ice T, anything cool at this point!
Run - 22:09 (13th overall) and not too bad for a little long and a lot hot!
Overall - 1:09:44 (2nd in AG, 16th Overall)
Overall, not a bad day, I did get to move up to 2nd in my AG, since the race winner was in the AG (and 7 minutes ahead of me!), but this is a good measuring stick for the rest of the season I hope.  Incidentally, if I was still in the M35-39, I would have won by over 4 minutes, so woulda, coulda, shoulda, but that is ok.  I know that I have to work on my swim, or switch to a duathlon, but right now I am good with my first of the season, but know I can improve on a few things.
Next race up is the Gull Lake Triathlon, and hopefully cooler weather up in Michigan.  I get to vacation up there for a few weeks and going to sneak in two races (GL and a 5 Miler on the 4th!), so I will have to keep the mileage up and lay off the cake and ice cream!  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Victory Week 10 Miler Race Report

Well this past week was Victory Week here for the mighty 1st Infantry Division, the OLDEST active duty division, and each year at around the Division's birthday, we celebrate by holding a Victory Week were the units in the division compete against each other in many different sports, like water polo, basketball, flag football, soccer, and other team events (little known facts: People think that Kansas is known for being a basketball state; WRONG, water polo!  Yup!).  I am not sure about that fact, but hey, why not!
LTC(R) Ted Leblow (center in Big Red One singlet) was the team captain last year.

Well as part of the sports extravaganza, there was a 10 mile race, which serves not only to see who has the fastest battalion level team, but to select the always competitive and fast Fort Riley Post Army Ten Mile Team that races in Washington DC at the Army Ten Miler (Last year was the 8th team, and 3rd Active Duty Army Team!), so the team has dudes who can FLY.

But I lined up this year at 0600 in the morning to take an outside chance for the team (didn't want to go too hard since I have a race this weekend too), but as we started out, I could tell, top 15 was not in it for me.  My first mile was 06:31, and I was about 45-50 people back, yeah, not happening, but will use this as a nice endurance/speed workout for the week.  I am in good shape, but my focus was short, fast races, so the 10 miles didn't hurt too bad, but if I maintained sub-7 minute pace, it would hurt.  With a capital H.
 My two photos near the finish line. Amanda got both with both feet off the ground!  Good timing!

My splits slowly slowed down, which was good, and I kept them in the mid-7 minutes thru 7 miles, and topped out at 08:07, so kept the average for the 10 miles at 07:29, which was good for me, for any distance.  Biggest thing was the wind.  Wind at your back on the way out, everyone was flying, but once they turned back into the wind, the big guys started to shrivle up.  After the turn around, I started to organize "pacelines" of runners to take turns breaking the wind and that really helped, either physically or mentally, but my groups started to move up on folks, where I may have been in the top 50 at the turn around, I finished in the top 30 or so.  Was nice to keep picking people off, but most times, my drafting buddies were shelled out the back, so sometimes I gapped up solo to other runners.  Only one big guy didn't want me to draft him and he ran all over to make sure, so I left him in my dust and told him "See you at the finish line".

But I finished up nicely (route was 10.3, so a little long) but I still PR'd my 10mile time, my 15K time, my 10K (post college) and 5K (post college) times, so overall, it wasn't a bad day at all.  Now on to my notes:

1.  The kid who won the race, WOW, was flying big time.  I think I heard he hit the 5 mile turnaround at 27 minutes or something.  I hit it at 37 and change.  So he put 10 minutes on my, in 5 miles, in a 10 mile race.  Wow, out of my league.
2.  It was hot and windy, water stops were a must, mainly for cooling on the head, not so much drinking.
3.  I figured that we would have about 100 folks out there, Nope!  it was 300 and possibly closer to 400.  Nice turnout!
4.  Wish I would have worn my running stuff, instead of my "PT" stuff.  It breathes better, is lighter, and just feels faster.  Oh well.

Overall, I am happy with my run, shows that my fitness level is good going into these next few races, so I should make some noise this year in the sprints and be good to move to fewer, longer races next year, if I keep my volume up (mainly the swimming).

But looking forward to racing on Saturday in Topeka in the Tinman Sprint Triathlon, in my new age group, the men's 40-44 (I'm still 39 right now, but the age-up rule means I race at 40!), so I am the new kid on the block for this year, good times!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Salina Road Race (Bicycle) Race Report

Or "How not to ride a road race" or "Don't write checks your butt can't cash" or any number of funny slogans.  Well, I decided to venture once again into the world of bike racin', since last time I straight up raced was about 3-4 years ago in a criterium (think NASCAR / F1 racing, on bikes, with folks that CAN crash you), which ended, ironically, with me getting crashed, but I got up, sucked it up and raced the last crit and ended up in 3rd overall, so, meh.

But this was going to be my first road race, sort of like a nice group ride, but with everyone thinking "STRAVA SECTION!!!!" all the time.  But as this was my first RR, I of course had a half baked plan going in, but with luck, I knew one of the riders in my Category, Alex Ardussi, who drove a long way to race.  We said that we would work together since bike racing is not only an individual sport, but team tactics really plays out in these as one team in the CAT5 swept the podium (out of 4 riders on their team) so smarts plays into it and being a one man band isn't that cool.

I'm sooo roooonry!
Things started out nice, got there, warmed up on the first stretch of road and headed back to get ready and lined up for the CAT5 race, of which 11 brave souls signed up for.  As we all looked each other up and down, I noticed a few things about my competitors; A: They are all taller and leaner than me, B: They have nicer bikes and better wheels, and C: They all know each other, making me the odd man out.
Well as we started to roll out the first half mile was "neutral", meaning, the race was not on, but after we crossed the finish line area, it was on and our pace went from 18 to 22 mph, so a nice start to this hilly, windy, 30 mile race.  We stayed in a nice double pace line for the first 5 miles or so, with me tearing ass up a hill to see who could climb (answer: all of them), so I settled back in to the pace line, feeling a little dumb.  But about another mile later, one guy launches out on a break, and he gets about 30 secs up the road, I think to myself, "Hey self, we should chase him down" which was the WRONG answer!  Sure I caught him, but as the rest of the peloton absorbs me, chews me up and spits me out.  Being "off the back", "dropped" or "loosing a wheel" is the worst feeling in the world.  It seems no matter how hard you try to latch back on, you are toast.
So at the 10 mile mark, that was me, off the back.  It sucked.  No, it more than sucked!  It was lonely (as you can see from the picture up there, courtesy of Lanterne Rouge!).  It took me a while to get back any semblance of speed going and by then, I was out of sight, especially on the hills.  So, that was how I "raced" the last 20 miles.  Ugggh!
If you look hard enough, that was they guy I was chasing, waaaaay down there!
Well, to make matters worse, I had to contend with a bit of a head wind on the way back, so I just kept plugging.  I will fast forward to the end, because, no matter what I did, that speck on the road never got closer.  I did sprint the last 2 miles to the end, to get some good intervals in, but I ended up about 10 minutes down to the winners and 2-3 from Alex.  Overall, I was 10th of 11.  And the guy I "beat" was in his 60s, whoohoo!  Uggh, well my lessons learned are here:
1.  Stay patient for as long as you can.
2.  Stay with the peloton.  It saves energy.
3.  You will always overestimate your own fitness.
4.  The wind is not your friend when you are alone.
Could I have done better?  Yup, but I got all antsy in my pantsy, and before I knew it, BAM!  Done and gone!  But at least I learned a little more from this, now if I remember those lessons come next time!  And this catches me up on my race reports and all, but I have a busy next few months up ahead.
Next race up: Victory Week 10 Miler, tomorrow (Wednesday 12 June), to try to qualify for the Ft Riley Army Ten Miler Team, which last year was stacked.  I am looking to break my 10 mile PR tomorrow, so I have an "A" goal of 1:08 and quicker, "B" goal of 1:12 or quicker, and the "breakeven" goal of 1:25.  It is a pretty rolling course, nothing too major out and back, but we will see how this turns out.
I'll be back tomorrow with another RR!

* All photos for this post is courtesy of The Lanterne Rouge (Roger Harrison) (Thanks Roger!)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fort Leavenworth CGSC Triathlon (Duathon) Race Report

Finishing up Run1 of the DU

Well, since I am on a roll here, might as well get my second race for the season race report out (this one was ONLY a month ago), so I can get back to posting a little more regularly and all.

Well, sorry to confuse folks with the title, but due to weather, the CGSC Tri became a Du, and they dropped the swim and modified the bike (less hills because of wet, possibly icy pavement).  Yeah I said possibly icy, game time temp was a brisk 38, hence the RD didn't want to have folks come from the nice warm pool, and freeze their butts off, get sick, and maybe keel over and have to crawl inside a Tauntaun (token Star Wars reference)!

But really, I was a bit mad because was going to try (no pun intended) my new 2XU trisuit out for the full triathlon, but guess it'll wait til next time.  And I was a little mad about the last minute change to the format, but found out that I actually like the no-swim kind of thing, hmmm, might do some more of these Du's!

Well the wife and dog and I made it a small little vacation the two and a quarter hours from Ft Riley for the race, and it was good to get back to my old stomping grounds at Ft Leavenworth, and no, wasn't in the "joint" there, just the one year school (which was almost the same!).  But got up on race morning a bit later than usual and drove to post and of course, got a crappy rack location, but oh well, I can ALWAYS use a good excuse in case I have a crap day!
Me at my rack, looking bewildered
Well, got my bike racked (brought the Jamis since I knew it was going to be wet and nasty) and laid out my transition, I got kinda smart and laid out my racing shoes (Nike Zooms) for my Run2 run shoes (the race was 2.25 mile run, 8.25 mile bike, and 2.25 mile run) and wore my regular shoes (Asics) for the Run1, that way I could kick them off, put on my bike shoes and roll out!  So my transition area kinda looked like Imelda Marco's shoe room, but it worked pretty good.  Plus my rack area was between the Run In and Bike out, but for the Bike In to Run Out, I had to double back, oh well.
Well, it's easy to pick me out (hint short guy in red)!
Well after the pre-race brief indoors, went back outside and got lined up for the run, which as always a good time, so I lined up about a row back so that the tall guys would block the wind a bit.  I love that every race I go to, I am about the shortest guy there, but that just means I have a lower center of gravity (which doesn't matter in running!).  But took off at the gun, and kept in the front area with the tall, lanky folks, and latched on to someone who was about my pace.  The course was a loop on sidewalks around the Ft Leavenworth golf course, with a few nice hills sprinkled in at the beginning and end, just to keep you honest.  But my legs felt good, and kept a nice pace and passed a few folks, mainly running up the hills at the end and got into T1 in good shape, and despite this having no swim, yeah I was wet from the drizzle / puddles, so I can kinda count that, right?
 Finishing Run1, not ready to puke yet!
Run1 - 14:54 (10th OA / 3rd AG)
T1 - :53 (10th OA / 3rd AG)

The benefits of being small: I can draft a gnat!
On to the bike, which I will say, fortune favors the prepared!  Being a guy, I rarely read instructions, but I was bored the night before, and read the rules for the race here.  Tucked down in the bottom of the rule book, was THIS IS A DRAFT LEGAL RACE (not sure if it was in bold but, that is how I read it!).  Hmmm this could be fun, and yup it was, since not everyone read the rules.  But after putting on my bike shoes, I ran past the mount line, flying mounted my bike and was off, looking for a wheel, which I promptly found.  Another guy on a road bike just left T1, so rode behind him for a bit and kept finding someone better and faster until I found a dude who was cruising on a TT bike, so bang, on his wheel.  Which was not an easy chore, we were moving at a good clip, but being small I could tuck in nicely.  We picked up another rider, and became a little train o' pain, I took the 3rd position since I figured I could hide from the wind better back there.  Well despite taking out the REALLY BIG HILL, there were still plenty of rises to keep you honest, but the pain train kept on rolling.  We all hit the turn around, a nice 180 turn, and boogied on back down the hill.  A little after the picture above, we lost our middle man, so it was a two-man show for a bit more.
Our little pain train.
After we were down to two, and with about two miles to go, I looked down for something, looked back up and my TT was about 20 feet ahead of me.  Just a little lapse in concentration, and boom, lost the wheel.  Well, guess I would solo back, trying to bring him back, but I didn't want to kill my legs for a few seconds on the bike when I might be able to run him down on the second run.  So I still was cranking it out, just not at max effort, since I wanted to have something in the tank for the Run2.
Bike - 24:26 (5th OA, 2nd in AG)
T2 - :57 (35th OA, 9th in AG)
As you can see, not too big of a gap!
It takes a little skill to run in cleats!
Again, I look lost in transition
As I mentioned before, my rack was not the best place for the rack-the-bike-and-run-out, but it was a nice quiet neighborhood!  My T2 was a bit sad, but I caught my breath here, put on fresh shoes, and headed out for the money-maker, Run2!
Well Run2 was a bit like Run1, but I was alot more tired this time around, but 2nd in my AG (oops, he was in my USAT aged up AG) was just ahead of me, maybe about 15 secs up on me, so I worked on closing the gap early to try to demoralize him.  Not sure it worked because over the entire route, I would close to about 10 secs or less and he would open up to 15-20 again.  I knew he was toast because he kept looking back for me, but I was just not getting the "jump" from my legs.  We cat and moused the entire run, and it was a bit frustrating.  I knew I didn't have anyone behind me, the race was in front of me, but didn't have the gas to catch him, well, maybe if it was 2 more miles, but it wasn't.
The gap early in Run2.  Guy behind me is the speck on the far right.
But despite not catching him (behind him by 20secs at the finish), I still finished nice and strong, placing 6th overall in my first DU, and love the fact that my run has really come along after a year of "training only" while in Afghanistan.  But I really think that I like this run-bike-run thing, it eliminates my worse event!  But I still like the swim, somewhat. ;)
Run2 - 15:59 (9th overall, 3rd in AG, see a trend?)
Overall results - 57:06 (6th overall, 3rd in AG) with a gap to 5th at :20 and to 7th at 1:12.
But I'd like to thank whoever took the photos, was a nice surprise to see so many photos, and to the Leavenworth Tri Club (just might have to join, they are a good group of folks) for putting on a nice race, as always.  And the brave volunteers / voluntolds (CGSC students) for helping make this a great event.  I keep telling myself that I'm going to have to volunteer a few times, to pay it forward/back so might just not race some weekend and help out, we'll have to see.
But I am on a roll for these race reports and almost caught up, next one is my disaster in bike racing next, then I can get back to posting how my training is going and other funny tips!  Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 7, 2013

2013 Eisenhower Half Marathon Race Report

Well since I just got back from Afghanistan in March and promptly went on 30 days leave, there is nothing like waiting until the day before a race to sign up, especially if it's a half marathon and you hadn't run more than 7 miles at one time prior to racing it.

I'm that guy.  But I did have a good year base from my time "downrange", so that helps a bunch.  Well now I have to knock out this race report, as it was "only" two months ago, so let's get this party started shall we?

Well signed up late for this race, and I made the one hour trip on race day to Abilene, a beautiful little town in Central Kansas, and boy, was it chilly.  I stripped down as much as I was going to and warmed up a little here and there, and headed over to the line a bit early.  i did duck in to the Greyhound Museum right across the street and was greeted by two nice grayhounds, so have much ear rubs (which I hope "channeled" some speed to me), I headed back out to the line and got in the "8:30 per mile" pace area.  I figured I'd be good there, but who knows.  Got a little National Anthem in, and off we went!  Went out in the first mile moderately fast and settled in for the long haul. 

This course was pretty flat as it is an out and back with a little loop in a park in the middle.  As I was running, each mile that would tick by, I would tell myself "only x miles to go!"  Since I started somewhat slow, I mainly passed people and didn't get passed, so that was good on the old ego, and about the halfway point ran up to a younger guy who was from the K-State ROTC unit in Manhattan and struck up a nice two mile conversation, which I didn't know pushed my pace to about 6:50s per mile.  Yikes!

This race started the marathoners and the halfs all together, with the full marathoners doing two times the route, which I think is cruel as they get to see the finish line and have to run away from it.  Bummer.  But as I was talking to him about running, the military and things, I noticed that he was going the full, and he had been running right around 7 min pace the whole way.  Wow, to be young again!  But after a bit I slowed my pace as I was heating up a bit in the park on the way back through and didn't want to blow up within 5K of the finish line.

The last 5K zoomed on by and the runners as we got closer to town, started to mix with the 10K runners, so I couldn't tell where I stood, so I just let loose with everything else I had and crossed the line (and NOT puking!) in a new PR of 1:40:39, which was 6 minutes better than my only other half marathon.  So bonus!  And on little to no training up to the race.  I hung around at the finish line for a bit and thanked the volunteers and then went to the pancake breakfast for some post-race yummies!  I am glad I did, because as they posted results, I figured that I was far enough back not to place, but ended up in 3rd in my AG (M30-39) even though in tris I would be aged up (which would have gotten me 2nd in the 40-49, but oh well), so I got to hang out and get a AG medal.  Very cool, as I wasn't really expecting it and was using this race as a nice long fast workout, but I'll take it.

Ended up 24th overall, which was another surprise, so overall, I give my effort a nice B average, with a better grade if I would have trained up more, but it is early in the year.

So not a bad start to the racing season, especially since I skipped a few races early, like the Dallas Rock n' Roll Half, but I think it will help me overall this year.  If I can find some photos, I'll post them later!