Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ironman 70.3 - Buffalo Springs Lake success!

Six friends and athletes packed 2 cars and headed West to Lubbock, TX with high hopes of a great half-Iron distance race. The 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile half-marathon run is now part of the Ironman 70.3 Series. Our team was Roni, Joni, Jason, Gary, Bryon and I. A bunch of other friends had also traveled separately.

At 5am on the way to the site we were greeted with lightening bolts on the horizon and winds blowing chop across the swim course. The good news was that the swim would be downwind but a surfboard could come in handy! By race time the storms had gone away and we were ready for the unusual standing beach start. In my age group there was a disabled athlete sitting in 3 feet of water asking us to please not run over him at the gun. If we could keep from stepping on him he'd be off quickly. He wasn't kidding and at the gun he was in the lead pack of swimmers. THAT is a true Ironman.

The swim course was not really visible until you swam out of the cove. Then, instead of the single buoy to round there were about 5 more to the right before you could start turning left and downwind on the course. All seemed well but its impossible to tell how you're doing in a swim group. I got encouraged as I passed white-hats and red-hats that started early but discouraged as I saw green ones go by, and sometimes on top of, me. It turned out that, of 79 in class, I was 13th in the swim! Only in the last 2 triathlons has my swim turned out better in rank than my cycling.

A quick 3 minute transition and onto the "hilly" bike course. Now here's where my friends had me all worked up. "Oh man, its really bad..." they'd say, "big hills, and its soooo hot". Well, we train at Cedar Hill. Perhaps the 2990 vertical feet in that workout every weekend dampens the 1007 feet advertised for BSLT but I didn't think this course was bad. There were the 2-3 monsters but the rest of the course was long, straight and hot. My own problem cycling was self-induced; preparing for a 6-7 hour effort I tore into my foodstuffs... I ate a gel every 30 minutes, an Enduralyte every 30 minutes and most of my dried fruits from the bento box plus the Rice Krispy bar. At mile 40 I needed to stop and puke as nothing was digesting and the stomach had no blood for processing. I started thinking oh boy what have I gotten myself into, what a wimp, I feel awful, I'll never make it and I'm only 2.5 hours into this, yaaaaaa! I've not had that bad a mental anguish in a race. I resisted the puke because I thought "I really need that stuff to process" so I backed off to a Z1 HR and cruised for awhile. It worked. I came out of it and finished strong but I didn't know what would happen on the run.

During the bike I saw Bryon whiz by. He's had a great pace and I hung on for awhile (not drafting) as we went up the spiral staircase. As we headed up, a rider coming down locked up his brakes and skidded about 50 feet. When I looked back he had done and end-o and went out of site behind the hill. The bad news is that he bounced back in site for a moment but wasn't on his bike anymore. "Rider down!" and we warned oncoming riders screaming down the hill. One of those riders was Joni; 52 years old and did a sub-6 Half-Iron and is the envy of us all - WAY TO GO JONI!

Another 3 min transition and off to the run. I've got all the stuff I need, got the sweat rag (although it was so dry I got crusty instead of sweaty), got more Gu packs. After 2 miles I'm thinking I feel good, how odd. A hill and lots of athletes walking... and I can run it! Another big hill and again I can run it. Then the long "power company" road but I feel great. This thing must have been 3 miles straight out then you turn around and come back. The miles start clicking off. The support folks were great. On the return, one lady had a dish of ice and water and said "I can dump it on your head"; Wow! That was great! What a jolt and a nice refresher. I saw Roni on her way out and she knew by my "I'm not really a runner" running style that it was me and we high-fived in the middle of the road. She looked great and was running strong. The threat of seeing friends out there keeps you smiling and keeps you going because you can't be looking like the wimp you really are or displaying how you really feel. Miles keep ticking off and the hills came back and I kept running. Go figure... running the hills is faster than walking the hills. Things felt great and I did the math in my head about being very close to the "5-hour club" I didn't know exactly how close because I didn't start my clock until the bike. I picked it up anyway and must have run close to 8:30/mile at the end. Several runners I passed stayed with me as we talked awhile but couldn't hang. I couldn't believe how long the last 2 miles were. Energy was good and pace was as good as I could scrounge but I came up short for a 6:02 finish. I wish I'd known the deficit at 6 miles out and I might have been able to do something about it. As it was, I did not leave much, if anything, out on the course and I'm tickled with 6:02. That represents 45 minutes off of my last half-Iron distance. The confidence meter to finish Iron has now moved to the right!

Every one of our group had a great race. Roni, my Wisconsin training partner, rode a phenomenal ride and had a good swim for a 6:13 total. If she works on that run, then we'll be finishing together in Wisconsin. GO RONI! Bryon, at 200 lbs and half an ounce qualified to run Clydesdale and won 1st place! Another phenomenal bike ride at over a 20 mph average. When I finished, I saw him in the Med tent with an IV in his arm and a big smile. "Dude, I won!" And I said "Dude, you're on a stretcher with an IV in your arm!" A 5:09 would put anyone on a stretcher. Jason ran a 4:56, the fastest of the bunch. I saw him coming in from the power company road and asked how he was feeling; like James Brown, he said "I feel good". Joni, was looking for a Hawaii spot and came close but was 1 place away from getting there at 3rd in her age group. Even if she had not taken the wrong turn on the bike course and gone 3 miles out of the way (after getting all disturbed about the rider down) she would not have gotten 2nd but Joni had a phenomenal swim. From Masters practice I've seen Joni get faster in the last few weeks. She'll be in Hawaii soon. And Gary, apparently having stopped for a beer, trotted in for a 6:44 having not lost a step from last year.

Results from the race are at but there's a much better form at at this link:

  • On the way out there was some road rage. Apparently, becoming upset that we're ALWAYS in front of them, the birds were flying! Obviously, a bunch of cyclists.

    If you're ever in Abilene, don't miss Harold's (World Famous) Pit BBQ! Triathletes are picky about what they eat. Sonic, Wendy's, DQ, Cracker Barrel and the like just won't do. So, we relied on the GPS... according to my wife, always a sure way to GET FREAKING LOST. It said go off the freeway about 3 miles, turn down 13th street and, Viola! Uh, oh, this looks bad, industrial, unmowed, broken down cars and nothing around here open.... except Harold's. This was the best BBQ I've ever had and it was served by Harold himself.

    Next week its the Triple Bypass in Colorado
  • TripleBypassMap
  • for a 120 mile training ride with 10,000 vertical feet of climbing. Uh, I hope some of its downhill.

    This weeks mileage (a recovery week???):
    Swim: 8920 meters (1.2 mi, 3400mt, 3600mt)
    Bike: 110 miles (56, 32, 22)
    Run: 22.6 miles (13.1, 5, 4.5)

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    The Metroplex Sprint Triathlon

    The Sprint triathlon over the weekend was a workout with the intensity of a race and a cool occasion to see a bunch of friends. Lisa Taylor did her initial tri of the Triple Challenge, Terry Bunker's 20 year old son Nathan did his first triathlon with some friends and Gary Zimny, like me, needed the workout. Lots of supporters came out; Patty, Scott, Terry and MaryAnn didn't have to wait too long for this one to be over. Starting at 7:15, everyone was pretty much done by 9am.

    Warm water was whipped a little by heavy wind chop but I worked my way treading water to the imaginary start line. Taking off for the 800m with at least a hundred swimmers of 3 or 4 age groups all in yellow hats it seemed like I was in a crowd but the first mark rounding was pretty easy. Cross-wind I was glad to be a right side breather because the chop was heavy. At the final turn I was just starting to get happy with the swim when WHAM!!!, right in the kisser. Punched hard enough, I thought the fat lip was going to cause water drag and it hurt! But it made me mad enough that I passed the guy and kept up a hot pace all the way in. That last few hundred meters might have helped get my 5th place of 43 in age group that I was really happy about.

    The ride was uneventful though short. I was able to push for 22.8 mph which I was also very satisfied with. My run, as usual, stunk the place up. An 8:46/mile average is slow by any measure. I'm taking some steps this week to try to fix this. Terry's clinic in Tyler has a staff coach specializing in running form evaluation and they're sure they can offer me some assistance. This might be just the thing I need so I'm very appreciative and taking up the offer this Friday.

    Lisa and Nathan finished the MST with 1:45 and 1:41, respectively. A good showing for both. I know that Lisa is disappointed with her swim because of her swimming history but triathlon is different... its kinda like a cross between boxing and swimming. Nathan, I can tell, just got his interest piqued. I've already heard he's looking for a new bike. You go, dude!

    Check out these athletes... (sorry Nathan, they didn't list any pics for you).

    The training program is peaking for the Buffalo Springs Lake Half-Ironman next weekend. This is a tough week with over 10K in swimming, 30 in running and 150 cycling with a slight taper next week.

    My next log should be a positive result from Lubbock. I remember my last race of this distance..... and it wasn't pleasant. I need to remember its an endurance race and I just need to finish. It'll go great this year.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    PR'd the route and PR'd the Heartrate!

    Tonight's Tuesday group run started in 99 degrees. It didn't feel that hot. The heat index was less than the temp.... must be a dry heat. The group took off for the 7.25 miles with 2 new additions, Matt's wife Lindsay (they're training for a Sprint triathlon this weekend) and Adam (a Y regular new to our running group).

    My plan was 4 pickups of 4.5 minutes at heart rate zone 4 followed by 1.5 minutes easy. All this started at 10 minutes into the route. Helene always does my pickups with me because she's training for Hood to Coast (197 mile relay, 24 hours, 12 runners... do the math!). Jason, Todd and Bryon took off at their warp speed and very soon Patty and Adam has left me with the girls. Actually, not a bad place to be ;-). Soon, Lindsay dropped us as Helene and I got separated by traffic. About halfway into the 2nd PU we caught Lindsay and Adam. Helene is usually very strong and ahead of me but tonight her foot and a host of other issues wern't going her way. It was hot and magnified problems. At the end of the run we took the car to get her. Knowing when to stop is so important; I abandoned last week with knee soreness, I understand.

    I'm not sure what I had going on but I cooked through all 4 of my pick-ups and saw Patty and Matt at the water stop. We regrouped and 4 of us left the water stop together but Matt and Patty took off again and Lindsay dropped off for her home and a shorter run. M&P were 1 minute ahead (I timed them) and in my sites. So, I shifted gears, I've got 2 miles to reel them in if I can. By 1 mile to go I had reeled in Matt and my HR was cooking in Z4... this is supposed to be a Z2 run. But, hey, I feel good and my rabbit is still out there. Closing this gap was happening but happening VERY slowly.

    Matt stayed with me and we compared HRs. He was at 185 and I was at 170 and he finally had to drop off. Matt normally leaves me and I can normally never catch Patty. But Patty's gap is closing. I shift gears again with about 3/4 miles to go. The HR hits 183 but I can hold it there and I'm making a hell of a lot of noise. She's not going to make it easy with a 1/4 to go I had to hang on to that pace for a lot longer. With 2 feet to go to the stop sign I tagged her. She was tickled because she heard me coming and knew what it was going to take for me to get her. I had to turn around and run another couple of blocks to get the HR back down to something reasonable. I was "done".

    Tonight, Jason and I both ended up with a personal record on the route. He was 44 minutes (6:07/mile) and I was 58 minutes (8/mile) and I hit the highest HR I've ever recorded at 183. No wonder I feel kinda tired right now. But I'm excited at the progress. Tomorrow morning I'm doing my Wednesday brick since I have to work tomorrow night. 32 miles riding followed by 45 minutes running. Good thing I had a lot of pasta at Avanti tonight.

    Today: Swim 3400m, bike 2 miles (to swim), run 7.25. Woooo-hooooo, onward!

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    "You're Not Finished Yet! Keep Going!"

    That's the refrain I heard at the finish line of the Cap-Tex Olympic distance triathlon from spectators yelling. I had just managed two "kills" (passing someone in my age group) in the last mile of the run after kicking up the pace from about a mile out. I saw those guys, one with 46 on his calf and the other with 45, pass me and I resolved to keep them within reach. When I got to where I thought I could sustain a push I caught them too quickly and thought "great, now I'm in their sites and they'll be gunning for me." But I held them off with a good kick and ran the finish stretch, turned the 90 degree right turn under the Finish line arch and crossed the red chip timer pad. I thought, ah, done, oh man, stop running and stretch the arms out…. Then the yells came from the crowd that I WASN'T DONE YET! Apparently, the initial chip pad lets the announcer know who's coming to the finish before you get there. I still had 40 yards to go and I immediately kicked in the longest, fastest strides I could manage and held off any overtakers. It turned out that one dude in my group was 3 seconds back, another was 10 seconds and 4 more were within 1 minute.

    My final time was 2:37, 8 minutes off of last year's time and I've never felt as good after a triathlon as at this one. The time came from 3 minutes off the swim and 5 minutes off the bike. I felt that I went real hard on the bike and that may be why I only equaled last year's run, but running is still a challenge. Even though I was faster this year, I dropped 1 place from last year at 25th of 75 in a much faster field.

    Our friends at the event did great with Jim Mosely gaining 2nd place in our age group (2 of 75) with an awesome performance. The dude in 1st must be lying about his age with a time almost 5 minutes faster than Jim. Jason Soria took 7th of 147 in class with another awesome run (and he was disappointed about it) and Gary Zimny beat 3 hours.

    This was a rather hot race and it was steamy from a pathetic attempt at rain during the bike portion. The swim in Town Lake was uneventful, although the pre-race instruction said keep all the bouys to your right and neglected to say that the last one was to be to your left. I accidentally went too far inshore and was diverted back out to mid-river for the final mark rounding but lost only 30-40 yards.

    At T1 I grabbed all my gear and was pretty quick getting out but forgot my Hammer Gel packs. I knew I needed that nutrition for the run so I turned against traffic and went back to my rack to collect 2 packs. Because of that I went hard for all 4 loops around town with rain on loop #3 that dried quickly and didn't slow me at all. By loop#4 the different class's starts were really starting to crowd the lanes and passing other riders was constant.

    Going into the run I had enough energy to pass runners taking the steps out of T2 by leaping the wall around them. I felt good and kept a solid pace up to the last mile where I found the kick. All in all, a very fun event and no injuries.

    Next up, a light workout June 11th at the Metroplex Sprint Triathlon here at Joe Pool Lake. Then, a big one, the Buffalo Springs Lake Half-Iron Triathlon in Lubbock. This race will determine where I am in my training. My friends got me all worked up about "the hills" but after seeing the profile, its half of what we do on any Saturday workout. I think it'll go well. We will have a very large group heading West, it should be fun!

    Mileage for this week:
    Swim 6.4 miles (1500+2950+3000+2800) strong
    Bike 146 (25+32+19+72) good
    Run 17 (3.1+1+3.3+4.5+5) weak, due to knee on Tuesday after race