Archive for the ‘ events ’ Category

Houston Marathon Recap

It’s been quite the fall and winter for me. Both personally and with training. I opted to take a new job at the end of September. I was in need of more stability and less insanity. My family needed me to be present and not constantly traveling last-minute for work. With that change came a few added benefits. One major being that I no longer traveled for work. Which meant more time at home and with the family, and I would be able to finally capitalize on a consistent training schedule. I decided this would be the year that I would really tackle my key races. So I signed up with C4 Endurance Training. Coach Troy is a good friend and has tons of experience with marathons and triathlon, especially Iron distance so I thought it would be a great fit.

I had entered the lottery and signed up for the Houston Marathon backMarathonRightColumnLogo when it opened earlier in the year. I knew I wanted to target a sub 4 hour marathon to see where my fitness was. 4 hours sounds slow to the likes of some of my friends and uber athletes. But being my second full marathon it would be a great benchmark and a nice PR if I could hold it. Training went really well and the mileage started to add up quickly. It was nice having a coach to bounce questions off of and to truly not worry about what workout was next. I think there was only one workout I bombed and that was because I didn’t really understand what he wanted and didn’t ask. I used the Dallas 1/2 Marathon as a training run to test some of my fitness and goals for Houston. It was hard to hold back because I felt like I was in PR form for the 1/2 Marathon, but my ultimate goal for the off-season was the Marathon PR. The run went like clockwork with his plan. I continued to nail my long runs and even logged a total of 158 running miles in the month of December. Insane. And awesome because I was feeling good and knew I would nail my goals in Houston.

The wife and I opted to travel to Houston on Friday night and run the ABB 5k on Saturday (9) I would use this as a very slow shakeout run, and my wife Jillian would go on to set her own PR for the 5k! Weather was typical miserable Houston humidity. A cold front was moving in that night with rain, but the million dollar question was when would it hit? We went to the Expo, got some swag, picked up a couple of gifts and had a nice lunch. It was great since we were staying at the Hilton which was the host hotel. Oddly enough, the elite runners were staying on our floor and we bumped into quite a few of them. For dinner that night we met up with Matt and his family for some pasta dinner. This would be Matt’s first full marathon and another friend of ours was going to pace him through the day. Our biggest concern was getting to the start line and it not be pouring rain.

Fast forward through me setting out my gear options and going through my pre-race routines. It was going to be a great day. The cold front had come in. My pace band was carefully marked with my nutrition/hydration strategy. I walked over to the convention center to drop my dry clothes bag. I had hoped I would run into Matt & Ryan but with 20,000 people that didn’t happen. I make sure everything is set and I head out to the start line. Wow. It’s windy (15-20mph). And cold (40 degrees). And yup, there’s the rain. It was a miserable walk to the starting corrals. Once I got on my corral, I though to myself “at least I’m surrounded with people as crazy as I am, we’ll all be miserable together.” Fortunately the wait for the start wasn’t horribly long, but it was a long 15 minutes standing in the rain. The gun went off and it was game time! The first goal was to start slow, not succumb to the hype and excitement of everyone around me. There would be a time to go fast, and I would pass lots of them. The first few miles were pretty darn miserable in the cold rain. We crossed an overpass before mile 1 and the chill just went straight to the bones. But sure enough the miles started clicking off. I passed the 5k checkpoint pretty much right were coach wanted me to. Time to pick up the speed a bit. Legs felt fine and I was finally starting to warm up. As I reached for my salt tabs, I didn’t feel them. In a moment of panic I figured they had fallen off. I told myself not to worry, I don’t need them and I can just drink more Gatorade. A few minutes later I reached around the front of my SPIbelt I felt the dispenser. It had just moved! Whew. Back on track. I chucked my gloves off at mile 6 since they were soaking wet and didn’t do any good. Another checkpoint down at the 10k. Pretty close to the goal, now time to turn in the true race pace and see what happens.

Around mile 8 I finally took off my rain poncho as most of the rain had cleared and my shirt was wet from sweat (10) I stuck it in the back of my shorts fearing that more rain would come. The 15k and 20k checkpoints came and went without much ado. When I arrived at the 13.1 halfway checkpoint, I was pumped. My time was 1:59:16. As long as I could at least match what I did for the first half I would meet my goal. But the goals didn’t stop there. We wanted a negative split. Prior to training with coach Troy a negative split was something like a unicorn to me. I’m sure they exist somewhere, but not around me. With his guidance and my prep work it was time to make it happen. Miles 15-18 were not so much fun. I was able to hold the faster pace but was suffering a bit as we were traveling into the wind some. I kept pressing on longing to see the 20 mile marker. Some say a marathon is two races- 20 miles and then trying to hold on to another 10k (6.2 miles). This can be fairly true as the mind starts to play some tricks on you. The plan was to open up a quick steady pace, then empty the tank the last few miles. As I picked up the pace a little more, I quickly realized that was going to be about it. There would be no insanely fast last few miles it would have to be just steady. I start to notice that I’m passing quite a few runners. Just like Troy said I would. This was crazy awesome. I was hurting and ready to be done and couldn’t believe I was actually pulling it off. Where so many runners had gone out to fast or emptied the tank early, I was making up time. Every second I went faster it was more time off that I would beat my goal by. I start to notice a bit of uncomfortable rubbing in my shorts, uh oh. For anyone who’s ever run you know that once you feel chaffing it’s too late. I apply a bit of lube on the run and know I’ll have to pay for that later.

As we reenter the downtown area my GPS goes haywire and drops the signal. I had been warned about that by others photo (11)who have run downtown Houston. I didn’t worry knowing that I just had to friggin’ run. I wouldn’t know what pace I was holding and it didn’t matter at that point. I give it everything I’ve got and round the corner near the hotel. One last turn and I was home. I could hear the cheers from TONS of people who had braved the cold rain to support their insane runners. I take one last glance at my watch and know that I’m going to come in at 3:55. Amazing feeling! I was so relieved! It’s hard to describe, but I felt justified for lack of a better word. I ‘felt’ like I had it in me but I wasn’t sure I could finally pull it out. I got my finishers medal, tshirt and beer mug and head off to get my dry bag. I can’t remember doing that in a race before but I felt like a million dollars after changing into dry clothes. I highly recommend it! I go find Jillian who gives me a huge hug and was almost excited as I was that I hit such a good time! With the excellent weather we decide to forego any finish line festivities and go get cleaned up in our warm hotel room. A quick stop for some fajitas on the way home and I was set. Time to recover.

By the numbers-

Finish time- 3:55:42
13.1 first half- 1:59:16 (negative split)
Overall place- 1,722 of 6,521
Average pace- 8:59/mile (6.6 mph)
During the final 4.5 miles I passed 269 runners, only 2 passed me.


Kerrville Triathlon – Race Recap

It’s been a while that I’ve written a race report, and for a myriad of reasons. But after reading some of my friend’s recap of Kerrville, I thought I’d chime in.

The last few months were not how I had envisioned my Tri season wrapping up this year. Early in the season I had some great results, PR’s and personal course records. It was building up to be a great finish with the Olympic distance Tri-Rock Austin then the 70.3 Kerrville Tri.

As many athletes know, life can get in the way. Work became extremely busy with tons of projects in the queue. I also began traveling more, and irregularly for work. Once again I also hadn’t put to paper a solid training schedule. As I began building for the end of season races I found out that our office would be moving the weekend of Kerrville. Totally bummed. I tried to work it out with different scenarios, but there was no way I could make it work. So Tri-Rock Austin would be my season ender. Completely disappointed and mentally defeated I had a less than spectacular race.

Less than a week later we decided it was time for a life change. It had been way too hard on my wife and kids with my irregular travel and 12 hour days when I was at home. I had a couple of interviews and found a great job with a local company and no outside travel. My start day would be Sept 28th. That meant I could still race Kerrville. I hadn’t done the volume required for 70.3 but already had paid race fees and a hotel booked. So I downgraded my entry to the Quarter distance. This is a unique distance because it was a 1,000 meter swim, 29 mile bike, and 10 k run (I thought).

We packed up Saturday morning to head to Kerrville sans kids, picked up some rental wheels and enjoyed our drive to the hill country. Saturday was a bit hectic because you had to rack your bike after packet pickup as well as drop off a back for T2. The bag was really the challenging part. I wanted to have a bottle of cold NUUN and maybe my Trigger Point Cool Point, but that was impossible now.

I opted for a quick swim with my buddy Corris who had just purchased a wetsuit. I hadn’t been in the water very much lately, so it was good to warm up. Three families went out for dinner and we found a fabulous little local Italian restaurant. Let me tell you this place was great, and I’m sure they made their monthly number that night alone from all the tri geeks in town!

Matt & Corris were both racing the 70.3 so we decided to all ride together then allow the wives to come a bit later. My start time was about an hour after theirs. It was also odd because I was the absolute last wave to go out that day. My one thought was that I didn’t want to be the last person out of the water, and that I needed to make the swim cutoff. It was a very odd feeling for me, but after my swim time at Tri-Rock, it could be a reality.

There was some nasty drizzle while everyone was prepping T1. Knowing I had some racing wheels on my only thought was that I didn’t want the roads to be wet. I could handle the cold or the wind, but please no rain! I was shocked to find my bike moved in T1 when I arrived, and slammed between other bikes. But that’s how those things go…

It was kind of fun getting to watch all my friends start and finish their swim before I began. It also brought joy watching Andrea “Fish” and Jamie Cleveland exit so fast. Not just watching their expertise, but seeing the pain cave on their faces close up! It was time for my swim. I jump in, relax and the horn goes off. I stay to the outside these days as my speed sucks. First couple of buoys come and go, and I’m still mid to back of pack. Feeling good, but not wanting to force it. The pack slowly pulls away, but I notice a few racers still around me. Not too long later, I notice more kayaks than swimmers. Odd I thought… then I realized, I must be one of the final few swimmers. Crap. Reality sucked for a few minutes, but then I thought who cares if I’m last out? Enjoy the moment because it’s a blessing I’m able to be out there. Fortunately there were a few (maybe) swimmers behind me as I exited the water. It was a nice uphill climb to T1 and my bike.  I had made it through the swim, so all that was left was some fun!

The kind gentlemen with bikes next to me had knocked my shoes off the clips that held them open, so it took a little longer to get strapped into my shoes. Then I was off. The first 10-15 miles came very quick, and at a nice pace. Ease into it I thought, you want to truly RUN after this. After making the turn outside of town, I realized the pace was due in part to a nice tail wind. We were now faced with a headwind, and horrible chip seal asphalt. I continued to press on and pass tons of riders. It was a moderately flat course, with one ‘bump’ in the road. When I arrived, it was the only time I shifted to my small chain ring. There were at least 5-6 people walking their bikes up! As we approached town, it started to drizzle some more. My only thoughts were staying upright, and not crashing. I was still able to pass a few more riders.

Once we arrived back in town, it was awesome riding downtown with the crowds. There was a spot where those who were doing the 70.3 looped back in, so it was tons of fun. I arrive into T2 and head for my shoes. I grab my bag off the rack, throw on my shoes and visor, grab my NUUN and off I go.

The run was a very odd format of an out and back U shaped course. Twice for the Quarter’s and 4 times for the 70.3’s. This meant lots of traffic and getting to see the other racers quite a bit. Awesomesauce. I started at a pretty good pace, and felt ok. As I round the U shape, I arrive at the ‘offroad’ section. This was going to be a bit tougher than I thought. I slow the pace a tad to protect the heart rate and make sure I had gas for the final lap. My friend Troy Clifton powers past me. He was holding a steady 6:30 pace on his way to top age group finisher for the 70.3. As I make my way back on the first loop, I start to see more faces I know coming in off the bike. As I get back on the pavement I also encounter that head wind again. Great, ¾’s of each lap aren’t fun. I see some of our support crew as I near the turn point and smile and wave. As I turn I hear the announcer call my name and Big Pistachio affiliation J

Time for lap two. One of my mini goals was to literally run the entire run. I know it sounds silly. But the Olympic distance is somewhat of a beast in disguise. My legs are starting to feel fatigue. I drop the pace a bit, and tell myself just to make the turnaround point in the woods. Then I could walk 30 seconds at the water stop. I had the pleasure of getting to see Andrea & Jamie many times on the loops as well. Let me just say this. As nice of a guy that Jamie is, I would not want to run down face to face with him. There are people who have hard core game faces, and he’s one of them. I hit the turn and walk while grabbing some water briefly. Okay this is it, time to finish strong. Only 1.5 miles left. The legs were feeling the pain, but I pressed on. As I got to the asphalt again I received warm comments from Adam and Matt about looking good and finishing strong. I get closer to the crowds and notice the 6 mile marker. Only .2 miles to go! I try to pick up the pace. Wow, that was a really really long .2 miles. I hit the finish and I’m done. Wow, what an event! I find my wife and several friends at the finish. Later on as the times get posted I notice the official run distance was 6.4. No wonder it felt so long after 6 miles!

All in all it was a great event. High Five and Jack & Adams continue to solidify who knows how to run a Triathlon. It was awesome to meet lots of athletes from Houston, Corpus and San Antonio who all came in for the race. I was able to meet several of my mini goals and have now ended tri season on a much happier and healthier reflective note. Now it’s time to get in full gear for the Houston Marathon.

Notes for the off-season- Swim. Get swim lessons from Fish. Run faster. Get a coach. Nut Up.

Ironman 70.3 Austin Recap

I have had lots of thoughts swirling in my head following the 70.3 Ironman Austin race on Sunday. But due to the lactate still swirling through my veins and lack of sleep I’m having trouble actually getting them out in a coherent fashion. So bear with me as I’ve taken all week to collectively finish this post and recap!


While it was nice being local for a big race, it also meant still getting up at 4am to get some breakfast, prep and drive down to the race site. We had dropped off our kids with my parents the night before so Jillian could join me for the day. We were out the door shortly after 5 on our way to Decker Lake. As we arrived there was already a large number of athletes, spectators and volunteers at the site. We got parked and found Matt & Nikki right away. We made our way to T-2 in order to drop off my run gear bag. We loaded on shuttles and headed towards the lake. I got my body markings and was off to T-1 to finalize my preparations for the day. I borrowed an air pump, mixed my bottle of Perpetuem, applied sunscreen, and made sure everything was in order. Restrooms were definitely an issue on race morning as every set had long lines. Being a guy I was able to venture off on a warm-up run and take care of things pretty easily. We met up with Troy and Corbin who were also racing. The wives picked out a good spot to spend for the swim portion.


I was very unimpressed with how the swim waves were scheduled for this race. Normally they lead with pro’s and go in age group order after that. I have also seen where they seed ‘faster’ age groups towards the end in order to give everyone the most time on course. I couldn’t really make out how they decided on waves for this race because I was one of the last, yet the 30’s males were mid-way through the waves. I had been telling myself for several days not to worry about it, because there wasn’t anything I could do about my 8:25 start, it just meant I would have to pay extra close attention to electrolytes and fluids. It was cool having the canon send off the pro’s then seeing Michael Raelert lead the men out of the water. One by one the waves kept going, and it wasn’t long before I was on deck. I hugged and kissed my wife one last time and got set. I spent a minute of prayer and quiet reflection before heading in the water. I’m notoriously slow in the water, so I did my usual count to three after the gun before swimming. Depending on the course, I like to stay a little towards the outside as to avoid uber chaotic swims. It worked pretty well this time as I didn’t have to battle with a lot of folks. It felt like forever before we finally hit the first turn in our giant triangular swim. The back side of the course seemed to move a bit quicker. I felt like I was holding a pretty steady pace and could tell there were still some of my age group around me although I could see the caps of the wave behind me already. I didn’t go so great on spotting for some reason and really did some nasty zig zags almost the whole course. There was a couple of times that a kayaker pointed me back on course. As I got close to the end, there was noticeably more traffic as we were squeezed in a smaller place to exit the water.


I was on dry land! What relief! As I ran up towards the wetsuit strippers (which was freaking awesome by the way) I scanned the crowd for the pink shirt of my wife and spotter her near where I got my wetsuit yanked off. I continued on into transition, applied some additional sunscreen, put my bike shoes and helmet on, and I was off.


As I crossed the mount line and got on my bike, I knew something was wrong immediately. There was mud in my cleats preventing me from clipping in. Not again I thought! We had the same problem last weekend during the LIVESTRONG Challenge. I made it about a mile before stopping and grabbing a stick to get some of the dirt out of my right cleat. I got it clipped in and continued. My left foot however would still not clip in. I danced on the pedals and decided I would stop on the back side of the lake because I wanted to get out of some of the heavy traffic. I kept working my cleat, and it finally clipped in around mile 5. The first 5 miles had flown, most likely due to the fact I had to deal with my clipping in issue. I finally got settled in and played yo-yo around Decker Lake with a couple of other athletes. Before getting to the first major checkpoint, I looked at my stats and was fairly pleased averaging 17.1 mph. The plan was to take it easy for the first 30 minutes or so to settle in. Mission accomplished. I turned up the pace a bit after grabbing a Gatorade bottle from the Tough Cookies at the first aid station. I made quick work of the next section which had most of the ‘rollers’ for the course. When I checked my average next it was 19.2! I was feeling great and almost halfway done with the course. As I turned south suddenly things changed. Part of my accelerated time had been due to a solid south/southeast wind. I knew my average speed would suffer some from this point out. What I didn’t expect was how bad it would. I’m still not really sure what happened but from that point forward on the bike course I really suffered. I wasn’t able to pick up a quicker pace and it was a slow grind in, much more so than should have been. I kept on my nutrition and hydration plan and opted for a pit stop after about two hours to use a port-o-potti. I thought it would be better to take a quick break on the bike and recover than have to do it on the run. While there I popped some endurolytes and another racer asked if I had any extra as she had dropped her container on the course. Knowing it was a long day, and I had a separate container for the run I helped her out. The return section of the course was mostly flat and through our training rides determined it would be a great place to pick up some speed & time. However with the cross S/SW wind we had, it made it very difficult. I still managed to pass a few more riders on hills before heading into transition.


I shuffled my bike into transition and made the long jaunt to the other side of the racks where my assigned spot was. I had originally liked the spot, but after realizing I had to trek my bike all the way across, I was less enthused. I racked my bike and got my run gear out. I had made the decision several weeks ago that I would put on compression socks in T-2 in order to get a ‘fresh’ feeling in my legs for the run. They went on easy enough, along with my awesome Brooks PureProject Flow shoes, I grabbed my visor and was on my way.


As I left transition I scanned the crowd desperately looking to get a glimpse of my wife. I didn’t see them in the turn-around where I thought they would be. Slightly deflated I continued up the hill where there were tons of spectators. Not long after cresting, I spy the pink shirts and hear some screams. I was elated to see the cheering squad! I gave them a big wave and a smile as I set out to complete the 13.1 mile run. I knew it would be a long afternoon because my quads were already feeling tweaky. I settled into a descent pace and hoped it was just the initial transition for the discomfort. After almost a mile my legs felt a little better. However the near 90 degree temperature did not. Aid stations were supposed to be every half mile, but during the first of three laps I discovered two stretches that were almost a mile before stations. At each stop I would get Gatorade, ice water and dump ice down my shirt. Let me tell you, ice down the shorts have NEVER felt better than I did on that run during the heat! There were cold sponges at some of the stops which I stuck in my top to hold some cold water. It was very apparent that the name of the game would be trying to keep my core temperature down as much as possible. I opted to get some coke at a couple of the stops for a quick pick me up as well. Although I took in a lot of fluids on the run yet still felt like I needed to drink more. I liked the 3 lap option because it let me spend some time with my wife more on the run. When I was completing the second lap she walked with me for a bit to check on me. I told her I was hot and my legs were cramping some. She said “it’s just hot out, you’re ok, only one more lap, you’ve got this!” I told her what my pacing was and she would see me inside the arena at the finish. The final lap was much harder than I had hoped. Before the race, my plan had been to try and hold 9-9:30 minutes for the first two laps and then see what I had left to open up on the third. That was not the kind of day I was having. It quickly became a game of finishing. Mile 11 was extremely tough. I had been taking walk brakes on the rest stops. But most of mile 11 saw me walking due to my calf cramping so bad that my toes curled in my shoes. I kept pressing on, just excited to finish the day. Nothing would get in the way now. There was quite a bit fewer people on the third lap and most were taking extended walk breaks. When I hit the mile 12 sign I decided it was time to finish strong. I picked up the pace and pressed on to the arena. It seemed like the longest mile of my life, but finally rounded the corner preparing to enter the arena. I could feel the cool breeze of the A/C pouring out of the opening and the dark shade approaching. Spectators were lined deep on the arena floor and the air was filled with cheering. I hear the announcer yell my name and I’m overwhelmed with emotions.


I cross the finish and darn near collapse in a volunteer’s arms as my legs wield one final big cramp. Another volunteer puts a finisher’s medal on me and hands me a hat. I see Matt, Troy & Corbin all cheering and hear my wife yelling my name. A volunteer asks if I need to go to medical. I decline and say that my legs were just cramping. The boys give me lots of smiles and congratulations and I get a big hug from my wife. Let’s just say that isn’t normal. I’ve been racing for almost 7 hours and soaked with sweat and water. Any wife will tell you it’s less than desirable to touch someone after that! They all ask what I need anything- water, medical, oxygen, etc. I get some water and slowly walk to the med tent to see if they’ll give me oxygen. They were pretty swamped so I opted out and got my name on the waiting list for massage. I find a picnic table and sit down with Jillian for a few minutes. I’m overcome with emotions. I had no idea what this kind of race would do to someone, both physically and emotionally. Everything finally settles down and we decide as a collective group to hit up Pappasito’s for post race recovery/celebration since it was Tanya’s birthday as well. Let me tell you I’ve never enjoyed it so much. I had to wrestle with internal conflict about finishing and the time it took me. I had expectations and planning on finishing about 45 minutes earlier than I did. Race day during long distance events is a horse of another color. You can plan, but there’s no telling what will really happen on race day. Playing back everything, I felt I gave it my all. And on that particular day, during that particular race, I did what I could and there wasn’t anywhere that I could have made up more time. I’m proud to have notched my belt with 70.3 and look forward to the next race.

By the numbers-

Total Time- 6:57:48
1.2 mile swim- 48:46
T1- 6:17
56 mile bike- 3:28:39
T2- 7:15
13.1 mile run- 2:26:52

Marble Falls Tri- Race Recap

It’s been 3 weeks since the race, but I haven’t been able to devote the time to sit down and finish writing my recap until now. Early this spring I signed up for the Marble Falls Tri as a challenge and break from the usual Austin area Triathlon venues. My best friend Matt & I were going to race, and decided to make it a long weekend of relaxation for the wives in Marble Falls. The distances were unusual and it was touted as a challenging race because it’s ‘the one with the hills.’ Having come off of finishing the Ride the Rockies, I was excited for a challenge on the bike. What I wasn’t ready for was the tough Texas heat and not logging enough swim/run hours due to my Colorado cycling experience. I also wasn’t really prepared for losing my job a month before the race, but it’s life and we play the hand we’re dealt.

We arrived in Marble Falls mid day Saturday, with enough time to get our packets, drive the bike course, relax and take in some poolside relaxation. All of which were awesome. When deciding on dinner, we stayed at the resort and opted for their dinner buffet which happened to be a fajita/Mexican buffet. So awesome. So much food. Slightly incorrect choice for pre-race meal. We got back to the hotel room to go through the normal evening before race rituals as my wife calls it. When inspecting my bike, I wasn’t comfortable with the state of my front tire. I had brought a spare, so I grabbed a tube, the new tire and proceeded to change it in the hotel room. Something wasn’t sitting just right, and I was a little nervous about it. I aired it up and left it in the room. Sleep was so-so, as is usual before a race. Then about 2am we here a POP!! As I had feared, the new tube blew in my tire. Now I would have to change the tube when I got up. Great, that’s just what I wanted to do on race morning.

Aside from changing the tube, it was a pretty usual morning. Got my nutrition in, water bottles filled with NUUN and car loaded to head to the start. It was a small field in the race, so that’s always nice not having to worry too much about rack space in transition etc. While getting everything set, the wives headed off to patron the local Starbucks, which much to their dismay didn’t open until 6:30 on Sundays. What gives? Matt was having some stomach issues, and didn’t really have an appetite. Since we were so close to the start, I told him to forget the bagel and just have a Gu.

We proceeded to the swim start, found the wives for kisses and approached the water. My group went off first, and I started towards the first buoy. It was a simple triangle swim of 1,000 meters, but the first buoy was against the current of Lake Marble Falls and seemed to be forever before I got there. I kept plugging along, and didn’t really have many issues with other swimmers until about half way through when I was caught by the group behind me. There was a fair amount of jockeying going on in the water and at one point a strong grab on my left arm. This is where I wear my Road ID bracelet, which I felt get ripped off. How does that happen? I  was really upset, but kept plugging along. Thankfully I had recently ordered the new slim version of Road ID. Finishing the swim with sighting was a little difficult due to the rising sun. I finally exit the water and run up the hill to transition to the cheers of my wife.

I get set and off I go on the bike. Out & back, 23 miles with some nice rolling hills. Interestingly enough, within the first mile we started a Category 5 climb. My legs felt money, and passed quite a few folks going up the first climb. I settled in at a solid but steady pace. I kept expecting to see the lead pack soon, but they didn’t pass me till a few miles from the turn around. Most athletes did well with following passing and drafting rules, but one chump tried to pass me on a hill and I called him out. I don’t want to be mean about it, but if you can’t make the pass, don’t try! I don’t want to get penalized either. About a mile before the turn, I saw Matt coming the other direction and yelled at him to keep it up! I hit the turn right at 40 minutes. I wanted a negative split and knew there was some nice downhill at the end, so just needed to keep the pace I had set. When I made the final turn a few miles out I knew I was in good position to make my goal. I kept pressing and finished the bike with a solid effort.

As I approached T2, I almost rear ended another rider who had stopped right before the dismount. I smiled at my wife cheering and was on to grab my running shoes. HEAVY LEGS. I immediately knew the 4.4 mile run was going to be a challenge. It was hot, and I could tell that the lack of time training was about to pay off. I set off, my new goal just to finish solid, regardless of run time. I decided that I would take 10-15 second walk breaks at the aid stations to help keep my HR down. By the time I hit mile one, my stomach was not my friend. I took my final Gu of the day, and just about sent it heaving out on the road. I saw Matt heading in for the finish and signaled to him that I was out. I continued on the not-so-fun-run and when I hit mile 2-3 finally felt like I should be out there. That feeling went away, and I was ready to finish the run. The run course was actually really nice as it stretched through some neighborhoods and offered quite a bit of shade. I made it through the park, and up the approach to the finish line. I could see my wife, Matt & his wife in my peripheral vision and hit what was left in the gas to make the finish. Exhausted and relieved the race was done, and I came in under my ‘realistic goal’ time. We regrouped and headed back to the hotel so that we could enjoy the rest of the day relaxing by the pool. As with every race these days, there were good points, not so good points and lots of lessons learned.

By the numbers-

1,000 meter swim- 26:16 (crazy slow!)
Transition 1- 2:04
23 mile bike- 1:15:48
Transition 2- 0:53
4.4 mile run- 42:12
Total Time- 2:27:15
Overall Place- 135/210

Is it 70.3 or Half?

It’s been on the horizon for quite some time. Probably since the first time I got in the water to compete in a triathlon… The desire to race in the ‘long distance’ courses. There are two distances 140.6 and 70.3. The longer is the traditional full ironman length distance. The latter has been called a half ironman, but is becoming more affectionately known as just 70.3 ironman. For perspective, it’s a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 56 mile bike ride and simply a 13.1 mile run at the end of that. Not much, just a swim bike & run. 🙂

Anyway, my best friend Matt & I have kicked around ideas of what 70.3 races we wanted to do first. I had thoughts of maybe doing 70.3 San Juan in March, but logistically would be really challenging. Living in the Austin metro area we’re blessed with an abundance of triathlons and just a generally active community. We have several friends who had signed up for the 70.3 Austin race in October. The more we looked at the calendar (and our wives) the more it began seeding itself in our minds as a great opportunity to race. So we’re both taking the plunge, literally. I was a little apprehensive about finally registering for a long distance course, especially remembering the pain of the two half (there’s that word again) or 13.1 marathons this spring. But after lots of support from my wife and knowing that pain is temporary and finishing times are posted online forever, I’m in.

A funny thing is actually reading the waiver you have to sign when registering. Lots of you have called me crazy, and this pretty much solidifies it, take a read-

“I understand and acknowledge the physical and mental rigors associated with triathlon, duathlon, or other multi-sport events, and realize that running, bicycling, swimming and other portions of such Events are inherently dangerous and represent an extreme test of a person’s physical and mental limits. I understand that participation involves risks and dangers which include, without limitation, the potential for serious bodily injury, permanent disability, paralysis and death; loss or damage to property; exposure to extreme conditions and circumstances; accidents, illness, contact or collision with other participants, spectators, vehicles or other natural or manmade objects; dangers arising from adverse weather conditions; imperfect course conditions; water, road and surface hazards; equipment failure; inadequate safety measures; participants of varying skill levels; situations beyond the immediate control of the Event Organizers; and other undefined harm or damage which may not be readily foreseeable, and other presently unknown risks and dangers (“Risks”). I understand that these Risks may be caused in whole or in part by my own actions or inactions, the actions or inactions of others participating in the Event, or the acts, inaction or negligence of the Released Parties defined below, and I hereby expressly assume all such Risks and responsibility for any damages, liabilities, losses or expenses which I incur as a result of my participation in the Event.”

Anyhow, here’s to ramping up my training during this unusually cold Texas summer… it was 105 yesterday.


What Rabbit Ears? – Day 5

As each day progresses it’s a bit harder to get out of bed & climb on the bike knowing what lays ahead. I was a little anxious last night knowing the climb over Rabbit Ears pass awaited plus a full day in the saddle.
We were pleasantly greeted with temperatures in the mid 40’s. Unlike yesterday where very few rolled out early, I would say most folks left way early today. It was a fairly neutral 5 miles before heading into the pass. I know I’m fatigued because I can no longer read a map properly. I was under the assumption that the first rest stop was at mile 8 atop the first pass. Well it turns out the 2,500+ climb went until mile 14! Although it dragged on, I felt pretty solid upon reaching the top, but I was soaked with sweat. I was hopeful to beat my wife & kids to the top, but they had already passed on their way home.
So I headed out for the second part of Rabbit Ears Pass. And this is where it gets funny. I know the local Colorado readers will laugh heartily. See I assumed the two passes were the “rabbit ears.” So I texted my mother in law when I made the first ear. She responded what ear? Little did I know there was a rock formation at the top which were indeed the ears. When approaching it, I thought it looked like a great photo opp. Another rider asked if I wanted him to take my picture with the ears. I said “what do you mean? I thought the two passes were the ears?” It was the source of good chuckles from nearby riders.
All week we have enjoyed the climbs because of the amazing views and unreal descents. However today things were different. We started into a headwind on the descent off rabbit ears which didn’t end till mile 52 rest stop. I was in a serious pain cave during those 30 miles like most riders. About mile 45 someone had spray painted on the road “Live STRONG.” Wow. I had neglected to think about those who I was riding for. This was enough to lush me to the next rest stop.
We had logged over 300 miles and my body was really pissed at me. I began to really question my motives & driving force to be out here with the wind we were facing. I grabbed a snack & more water while overhearing other riders mention we were about to turn & get some relief from the wind. Ok I thought, if the wind isn’t in our face I can do this.
Not only was it not in out face, but we were blessed with a strong tailwind for a while. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I pushed it. I was holding 25mph for quite a while & quasi enjoying life again.
We finished out the last stretches into Granby through a beautiful canyon & some rolling hills. But not before one last nasty little climb heading up to the school.
It was a relief to get in, and be done with the final long day. Now to mentally prepare for the final day of the tour with one last mountain climb. So here’s me & my angry body checking out, going to get some recovery food. Seeya in Georgetown tomorrow afternoon.

Bring the Pain: Day 3

From the stories I’ve heard of years past, we’ve been extremely fortunate with the weather this year for the ride. The early morning riders today were surprised with a light rain shower leaving Edwards. I decided to wait till the small cloud past and rolled out just after 7 a.m.
We had looked at the weather the night before, and once we rolled out our fears were confirmed. We would have a headwind for most of the 80 mile day. Moods were a little grime as we began our first climb of the day. But getting to do a fun descent is always a just reward for climbing. Things only got tougher as we headed into the second & longer climb. Having a headwind while climbing can just be demoralizing. We finally finished with another awesome descent, but not before a few more short climbs into the next rest stop.
Lots of riders were pleased with the food offerings at the halfway rest stop (especially the homemade pie), but I decided to press on to the next stop. I had to spend some extra time so the bike mechanic angels could adjust my deraillur & fix my left cleat which wasn’t clipping in. Mile 52 was a pinnacle point in the ride for me today. I was tired, my body fatigued by multiple days of tough riding, and my spirit was just generally low and knew there were almost 30 miles left. Fortunately I was in cell range and texted my wife my status. She responded with “dig deep, finish strong, finish for us.” My bike was ready so I ate a banana & headed out.
It was challenging for the first few miles finding the strength to press through the wind. I caught a pace-line for a few miles which eased the pressure. Then the drive hit me. Thinking about my wife’s text & the fact my family was waiting in Steamboat Springs my inner competitor & triathlete nature came out. I got in my drops, hit the big ring and started laying out bodies on the route. I have no idea how many riders I passed the last 20 miles but it was a lot.
Looking at the route profile, you would have expected the last part of the day to be a nice gradual downhill ride into town. Not so much. It was filled with more than plenty rolling hills to push everyone to the brink. About 10 miles left and still mashing the gears I angrily slammed one final Gu. Normally I take my time rolling the package to make sure I get all the gel out, not this time, one big squeeze & the package was back in the bento box. I could feel the presence of a rider on my back wheel but didn’t know who it was. At the top of one roller he pulled aside and said “man your pulling really strong, I’m just a 52 year old hanging on for dear life!” I replied that I was tired and anxious to see my family.
We finally made the approach into Steamboat & over to the high school. I rounded the corner & saw my wife & daughter waving. At last. Well, almost. Once you arrived at the school, you still had to climb the hill & ride to the back lot where the bike corral was. After leaving my bike & grabbing my bag, I found my girls. There was a cute sign at Meadow Gardens & I told my daughter to sit in front so I could take her picture. Wanting to seize the opportunity I went beside her so my wife could take the picture. Before I walked up, my 5 year old daughter said “well just don’t touch me in the picture, you’re all dirty daddy.” Classic. She’s so much like her mother. 🙂
So here’s to a powerful and demanding third day. Excuse me while I go replace my calories at Beau Jo’s Mountain Bistro.