Posts Tagged ‘race report’

Race Report: Sprint Triathlon

June 3, 2009

My first triathlon of the season is now under my belt, and it’s the best T-shirt from all my races so far. This one I will wear. The key is that I like the color, dark grey, and more importantly it is not covered with sponsor logos. I hate paying for a shirt that is then a walking billboard for all the guys that gave you a cup of something to drink. I would rather pay for the cup of something so my shirt can remain wearable.

sprint tri distribution

I was waiting for the results so I could post the race distribution. I got the 39th percentile (that red bar is where I am counted) with a 1 hour 16 minute finish time. I was only able to estimate my pace for each leg, but they are pretty close. (1:39 per 100 yards, 18 mph, 9:40 min/mile)

The race went much better than I thought. I had fears of being passed a lot again. The swim was in a pool so they divided out the heats by speed. I apparently put down a fast enough time to get into the first open heat. The actual first heat was reserved for those that took the class at the college. So I was 13th or 14th out of the water of 16. I was not lapped by more than a third of the field so I was less than a minute behind most in my heat (out of the water, it only got worse from there). I really got screwed up in the water though. The pool is in an L shape, with the long side being 8 lanes and the L part being the deep end with diving boards and such. So the last 2 lanes once you get to the half way mark drop off. It is not even though. On one side it has only dropped to say 8 feet deep but on the other side of the lane it is more like 12. So the nice plain boring stripe on the bottom of the pool is tilted severely. Its from side-to-side, not swim into the deep and then back out like it is for most pools. Then the sucker (of course that was me) in the very last side of the last lane has the corner to deal with. There is no rope to the deep end, so if you stray off course, smack into the concrete corner you go. I didn’t but I spent extra time making sure I was not veering off that direction. I got a weird vertigo type feeling in my head from the tilted bottom coupled with the fact that again I started out too fast and felt like I couldn’t breath, it took me about 4-5 laps to shake the feeling. Problem is I am only swimming 10 laps. By the time I got it figured out the person in my lane had made 3/4 of the lap on me, but I held her off the rest of the way and basically stayed even. So I think I was in the right heat had had things gone well.

The transition was a long walk/run from the pool to the indoor track/fieldhouse (no running on the pool deck or the locker room even if you are racing). I had a good spot for my bike near the bike exit and right underneath a basketball hoop so it was very easy to find. I didn’t spend too much time thinking about the layout of my area, and I didn’t waste any time getting ready to go. So all is well on that front for the rest of my races. The key I think is to have a towel laid out and another to dry with and then have the clothes to wear as though helping a three year old get dressed. One more thing about the swim. I finally wore my speedo in public. Embarraressed? a tad, but faster for it, even if only in my own mind. I didn’t like the effect it gave my love handles and belly, but it was very comfortable. It had an internal piece that made it like a pair of shorts and attached underwear which is also comfortable for the run. I pulled on my padded bike shorts over it and then took them off for the run. This worked out so well I will be skipping the zoot suit or equivalent I thought I was going to buy this year for the longer triathlons. I just saved $80 and the elastic on the bike shorts comes off right over my shoes too, and that is a good thing cause that is exactly what I forgot to do during T2. I also did my normal swim routine this morning and the people I usually swim with that are faster than me were slower than me today. They had a long workout over the weekend, with their ironman tri coming up in 3 weeks, but none-the-less, I am never able to keep up with them for the workout and after a few laps they stuck me in the lead I was going so strong. That streamline swimsuit makes a world of diference on the speed thing. I think I am swimming 4-5 seconds faster per lap which is nearly a minute faster on a 500 yard swim, that is about 10% faster, just by changing my swim suit!

The nice part about the bike was that there were 3 people behind me from my heat (I beat one person out of transition) and then the 10 minute swim leg separated me from the next guys. So I only got passed twice in the start and then again twice near the end of the 10 mile bike. I rode in the aero position for everything but turns and hills at the start and end. I felt like I was cruizing, but my bike computer was not something I could get figured out. So I had to deduce my time by estimating it for everything else. I had finally gone for my first outdoor ride the day before my first triathlon. Yeah, I got procrastinator written all over me. I found that I was able to take what I have learned from my spinning class and triathlon coach and it transfered to the outdoor bike perfectly. The only thing that didn’t transfer, cause it was never a concern, is getting out of the damn clips at a moments notice, without having to think about it, as easily as lifting your foot off of a normal pedal. The foot is stuck there and you got about say 50 miliseconds to get it figured out or the ground is going to welcome you. Yes it happened the day before during my first ride, and no it didn’t happen during the race. Although my dismount at the bike dismount line was a close call. Let’s just say that a lot of eyebrows were raised as I fought with all my will to not be caught dead lying on the ground still clipped to my bike. To buy myself a little more than the 50 miliseconds I hit the front brake as I was twisting my left foot. I had already swung my right foot over and so as the twist finally worked I was standing on solid ground still moving, my front brake still engaged the back tire had no reason to stay put and jumped up above my head. The bike is so light I just grabbed the whole thing and set it back down. And to avoid any further gawking I calmly, yet quickly, walked back to my transition spot. It is safe to say that the bike, as of yet, is not an extension of my body. I shall be much closer if I can get a couple of rides in per week.

The transision to run went well only because the bike shorts can be removed over my shoes. If not, I would have had to take them off again. So it’s a good thing. This is part of the reason I think I have found my gear for the year. I started the run quite unlike all of my other runs this year. I always read other people race reports and they often comment that it takes a while to get the legs into gear. This was not the case at all for me. I was fine to run right from the start. The problem is I was tired, all the races so far just included running so I was always fresh. There was no starting fast and then slowing as I went. I actually started slow. I am pretty sure I beat 10 minute miles, but only barely. I had started my watch a couple hundred yards into the run and stopped it after I had stopped and wandered over to to the water and fruit table and ate a banana. So I think I was dallying around for about 2 minutes which makes the run about 30 minutes. Ten minute miles would be 31 minutes, so I am certain I beat that. I was starting to feel that my foot was going to be sore again but I don’t think that made me do anything differently until today. My shoes I normally wear to work actually make the problem worse. I figured out that between yesterday in running shoes and today in work shoes. So that is why my foot had the long delay in healing, the work shoes are not helping. I will wear my running shoes for a few days and see if that gets me well faster. I ran pretty consistant the whole way. Right up until the end when I sped up. A person that was run/walking but managed to stay ahead of me from the halfway point and back. I would gain and she would start running again and pull back out, then walk and I’d get close. She finally took off running with half a mile left about the same time I sped up to catch her. The end result is we just finished faster but with her ahead. I also heard someone pounding the trail behind me with about 500 yards left. I was not about to be caught after all that and took off basically sprinting a little downhill section and then running the few hundred feet at a 7 minute mile pace. I came blazing around the corner and down the final stretch looking good and impressive. I was probably running the speed of the people that were a heat or two behind me but strong in the run. So that was nice to finish strong. The person behind me fell back after I kicked it in gear.

I don’t think more than 4 or 5 people passed me during the run. Again this is because of the structure of the start. How ever you slice it though, it is nice not to get passed by a constant train of people.  With how much time I have spent getting good at swimming I am destined to get passed a lot at mass start triathlons. This will just allow me to mumble under my breath as they do go by, “slow swimmer”, and they can wonder how the “chunky” guy got passed them all they want.

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Race Report: Half Marathon

May 19, 2009

I finished and I ran the whole way, except for the water stations to drink it without sloshing it about.

I did the race in 2:14 and change but with a very huge positive split because of my plan to run it under 2 hours. I had some timing issues because I was expecting to run across a starting matt but instead it was a wire and I missed it in the crowd of people. So I started it about 40 seconds late, but thought I had started it a minute or two late. So I still don’t even know where the official start was.

In the crowd of 618 people I sort of ran even faster than I had planned because they were too and it didn’t really feel like work and it was a little downhill. I hit the first mile mark and hadn’t even felt like I really started yet. This was in around 8:10 as best I can estimate. The next mark I remember glancing at my watch was at 3 miles where I was on a 8:43 pace. I hit the 4 mile mark without knowing my exact time but there is a strong likelihood it was under my best time for running 4 miles which was 35:24. This is slightly faster than I wanted to start out but I just felt so good I had no urge to slow down at this point. But a couple of little uphill sections, and I mean little, had me starting to slow and this is about the point where I started getting passed slowly at first.

It was amazing how fast the miles went by. I got off the section I had never run to the point I ran a few weeks back around 5 miles and it was nice to have the familiar terrain. The third point I remember my time is at mile 7. I got there in about 1:06. I knew I was off my pace, 9:27 miles which was only 2 minutes lost at that point, and the only way I could make it would be to pick it up that minute. So I tried a bit. I had been running and making sure my heart rate never went over 170 or if it did I slowed down. Between mile 5 and 7 I got some pain in my chest. It was likely indegestion or whatever but that made me nervous, so I slowed down till it stopped which coincided with a heart rate more like 160. So that last try at mile 7 to speed back up brought the pain back so I decided to slow down and just finish with no chest pain no matter how slow. It made it hard to push myself to my limit with the worry about was I really ok or not.

Somewhere between mile 7 and 10 I started to get the feeling of lead legs I read about but never experienced. A mile after that I felt my muscles getting real tight and felt like it was constricting my natural form. I was fine to slow down a bit it was a mild pain. If I were out an a morning run and started feeling like that it woud be the point to stop. But in a race I have been looking forward to it wasn’t even an option. I also felt like I was getting a blister but at that point it was mild as well and I knew I would make it before it got too painful so I just ignored that. The first 7 miles I averaged 9:27 and the last 6.1 was 11:09 to get to the overall average of 10:17. I was out fast enough at mile 7 to finish in 2:04 had I held the same pace. So there was a parade of people passing me judging by finish times from 2:04 to 2:14 there were 98 people between those two times. Sure some of them were ahead and slowing down too and so never passed me but it sure felt like I got passed by 100 people.

The last 3 miles were on the trail where I ran all my 4 mile runs at lunch with the group from Sept to April, so I felt good about knowing all the bumps and turns, though it didn’t speed me up any. I was just happy to finish and stop running. My legs were very tight as soon as I stopped and I had to walk slowly to the runner hospitality to gobble down bagels and bananas and oranges and grapes and grilled chicken and soup and HEED and water. I was hoping for a bin of hammer gel to grab a few extra packets but there was none. I had taken one at mile 10 and it didn’t do anything for me except taste good and give my mind a boost for about 1000 feet or so.

My wife and kids were there to cheer me the last 100 feet and the kids had a fun time wearing my finisher’s medal for me. my half marathon distributionHere is the distribution of finishers by minute, I am in the yellow bar. The peak bar was 2:04 with 19 people finishing that minute.

I now have my first half marathon under my belt and can make improvements the next time I do one.  My first thing to improve will be how to not feel like I am walking on a broken foot the next day limping around like an old man. The answer to solving that one is to log more miles and lose more weight.

And if this race report didn’t quench your appetite for race reports, I have been checking out this adventure race that is ongoing from the RacingThePlanet Series. You might be interested in reading about it. I know it sounds like quite the chalenge and in reading some of the blogs on the site it is amazing how many of the people are just normal people looking to challenge themselves. The race is 250 kilometers in stages like they do the big bike tours, except you carry everything including your food for the whole trip the whole way. No I am not doing one any time soon, they are just fun to read about.

http://www.4deserts.com/beyond/namibia/

My First 10k

April 20, 2009

OK, I entered a popular 40,000+ entrants 12k race when I was 10 and ran most of the way. And I entered it as a walking participant or walk/jog participant a few times since as a fun thing to do. But never, other than since I was 10 years old, have I actually entered a running race with the idea that I was going to run the whole way. And not until today did I succeed.

The race was a trail run, and I thought I knew the park it was in well enough to know that the hills wouldn’t really be a big deal. I didn’t. I did two full length practice runs. One practice 10k on a flat road back in the snow 13 weeks ago I finished in just over an hour. Three weeks ago on my treadmill, which is stuck with a minimum of ½% incline I was able to do in 72 minutes. I can never run fast on that thing with the slope!

So here I am at the start watching the 5k race finish about 15 minutes before I go. I was truly inspired by some of these runners coming in. The first overall female was a girl in the 10-11 range by my estimate. She was likely just out of the top ten overall. That little girl has determination and drive. We almost entered my daughter in it this year but for a scheduling conflict that put me there all alone waiting for the start.

I started to figure out how to put my key in my shoelaces and decided that I should not have brought the little remote along too. So with exactly 5 minutes to start I find myself jogging back to my car which must have been almost a quarter mile. I was thinking this was very stupid, but hey maybe being extremely well warmed up will give me something to compare to the next time I race when I avoid doing just that. As I am running back I hear them announcing 10 seconds to start, I won’t even have to stop cause I am 20 seconds away. But then they have a timer chip malfunction and they backed everyone up and I had 30 seconds to rest and another 40 seconds to shuffle to the official start line, there must have been 300+ people.

Within 1 minute I notice a guy running next to me and recognize him. We chatted it up for a minute. He was running it because his wife was, not because he himself trained, so has no hopes of having a good time. He is just doing it for her sort of thing. I asked him what he thought his time might be and he said 1:15. That just about ended the conversation for me. I was thinking oh crap, I need to lose him fast and pick up the pace, because I want under an hour. Although my real goal was simply to never stop running.

So I start passing people and latched on to the shoulder of a girl that had a slightly faster pace than everyone around. I was huffing down her neck for a good mile and a half till the big hill where I had to slow it up. So I thank the girl in the long sleeve orange shirt for helping me. My extra weight has certainly dwindled but it is still there as I am sitting around 191 still wishing the 180’s would sneak up on me one of these days. That weight up a hill makes for more work, literally, as in work from the physics equation (think dragging a spare tire up a hill). I only had a vague idea of the mile 1 and mile 2 markers because I had estimated them on google maps with the distance measurement tool. And, “its simply the westernmost point on this large curve” works great on a map, but I didn’t have a compass or the desire to figure out which way was north, so all I knew was that I think I did the first mile in less than 9 minutes and the second in 9 ½. As we hit mile 3 they had a sign and I passed it at 28:02 so I had averaged 9:21 for the first 3 miles. I was pretty stoked cause I was thinking this under an hour thing has a slight chance after all.

The loop finally turned around and headed back at about 3.2-3.3 miles and I got a drink of water. Somehow that water was very refreshing and helped me push it for the next few minutes. The next water station must have been set up for placement on the other longer races the 25k and 50k. Cause it was way too soon for another one. I heard them say they had Gatorade but I had already grabbed the water. I still think I should have taken the Gatorade cause I needed a little boost. I got stuck behind a string of people headed down a rocky trail to the river’s edge. This sucked because I typically make up for the slow uphill by actually running downhill. Without that I get to the next uphill and get passed by a few people. After mile 4 which was somewhere around 37 and some unknown number of seconds I started thinking I was going to start my kick with 1.2 miles left.

By now I was almost certain I had the under and hour in the bag, although I also felt like it sure would feel good to walk for a bit. But my real goal before the race was to not walk at all so I kept myself from doing that. The trail was skinny at this point and I stared getting passed as we hit some rolling hills. I would slow on the up and get stuck behind others on the down. Finally, on what seemed like the last downhill it widened out and I moved to the left and passed all 10 of the people that had just passed me running what seemed a full minute per mile faster pace. Then to my dismay we stared up the last uphill section. I again was caught by most of them and the last flat section that was only a half mile long was not enough with the extra kick everyone had in mind to get back ahead. I still had my uphill heart rate spike in full effect.

The last older lady to pass me was about 30-50 yards ahead on the final stretch and there were two girls behind me by about 15 yards for the last stretch. I thought in my head I was going to out kick the lady in front of me, but I could hear the two behind me. One girl was egging her friend on pushing to the max. We had all picked it up quite a bit and she was really putting her all into it. I was very tired and my brain decided it just wouldn’t be fair to go and sprint by that lady at the end and those girls behind me were doing absolutely everything they could to catch me. I think I could have pulled it out and really hit my max to do it, but, mentally I just sort of decided I had already picked up my pace, if they can catch me then they get that much of a boost and I already have my goal in the bag. I don’t want to say I gave it away or anything, if you reason in your brain that it’s the right thing to do to not pick it up if you can, well then that is the definition of not being able to. They passed me with about 10 feet to go and I had my finish in 57:26. This is an average of 9:15 per mile for a hilly trail which is faster than I would have thought I could go.

Oh and the guy that I started the race with? He passed me by mile 2 and beat my by 3 minutes. Sandbagger. I was eating the snacks and drinks, checked the prize board to be sure I didn’t win anything, and saw that my time put me at 118/136 men. All I can say is that is one fast group of people that decided to show up to this race. It was a lot of fun to be a “true” member of this “wacko” group of people that have the spirit of competition inside themselves and with each other.

So I have to finish it off pointing out that I now have a PR. Everyone else talks of thiers so now I have mine set. Two weeks I do the 12k, running beside my wife, something we need to do together to get her more into this stuff. Then two weeks from that I will be doing a half-marathon. Then, it is on to the triathlons.