Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Great way to end the season...

There is something about the Kirkland Triathlon that has such a draw for me. The early morning clouds with downtown Seattle skyline glowing in the back ground. I was feeling great and relaxed before the start, energy in the crowd was electric. I saw Chris Tremonte run by my rack and just thought, "this is going to be a great day"...
For this course, the bike is king. The hills and the handling on the descents make or break time loss and gain. Too much energy output or knowing how to sling shot up the kickers so you can leave the max effort for the big pushes and bigger gains.

The swim was by far one of the most brutal swims I've been in. I fought for position starting about 20 yards out and finally had open water with about 100 or so yards left. The middle part of the swim was two on the left, two on the right, one in front and one or two behind grabbing my legs. At about halfway I made a move with two other guys, but was swimming too hard for that part of the swim for myself so I went with them to get out of the pack we were in then let them pass me and settled into my planned pace.

At the last turn for the swim I caught the two I let pass and as planned gave a good estimated 2 minute burst of about 90%. This felt great, I cleared out of all the swimmers around me and started to quickly pass the wave in front of me, seeing a few white caps (my wave) in front and felt close enough to catch in transition.

Why it pays to recon and course, even the swim!

I knew from swimming there before you had to swim right up to the shore because it’s too rocky to run in, with the rocks being about the side of baseballs, up to about 5 feet from the run out. So as I got to shore, about 10 yards their were about 6-8 people walking out trying to balance their way as I, even through just in about 2.5 feet of water, swam up passed them all and ran like hell out of the water.

There is something, and I know I’ve wrote it before, about just running out of the water in an almost sprint. I love that! I must have passed about 15 people from the waters edge to the transition entrance.

My swim time was about 20 seconds off from what I wanted, I was a bit reserved on the swim and also having to fight so much in the water in the beginning took a bit of time out of me. Mostly though I was on the verge of burning out on swim training, only putting in 4 swims in the last 3 weeks.

Swim: 15:07

T1 - pretty uneventful, which is good...

As I jumped on the bike, swinging my leg over as I ran through the mount up area another rider just off to my right totally hit the deck and ate crap on his bike. Missed him by about a foot, whew....

I was feeling great on the bike, last year I lost focus on the bike and I know that cost me my overall goal of last year. However, I had all the focus this year and had been out on the course really pushing it for training.

In previous years I’ve told myself that the bike doesn’t start until the flat at mile 4ish. Before then you have about 4 really good hills, the last one of them being the longest and hardest. However, this year, I wanted to start on the climb before the flat part, so as soon as I passed the railroad tracks, it was on.

I had a good rhythm on the climb and was catching groups of other riders and passing them pretty quickly. At just below the crest I upped the tempo to the top and got in front of the last person in view. At the top there is a good downhill, but it ends with a really shape left hand turn. I figured, force the up hill and recover on the downhill to the flat.

Once on the flat I saw only two riders up and caught one quickly, but couldn’t close on the second. Not a surprise, flats aren’t my strong suit, but was still able to hold 23.5 MPH. I had great speed and was only using about 80% perceived energy, because Slater Rd was just around the corner, very hard uphill.

Going into Slater you have a sharp right turn and can’t carry too much speed with you because you’ll over shoot the lane into oncoming traffic. This was were I was planning to use the hardest effort of the day. I saw this interview with Chris Carmichael a few years back and he said “ You can rest when others rest, but you have to attack when others are struggling” I guess that has always stuck with me during races.

Starting on Slater there were about 15 riders about halfway up, I moved and just kept dancing on the pedals until one other rider and I hit the top before the pack. Legs were burning, but I stood up and forced the flat section to get back up to speed.

I had about two minutes to maintain before reaching the next important part of the bike course, the part I lost focus on last year, ggrrhhh! This time, I stayed tucked and focused, no one passed me, I sprinted the last part to reach the BIG downhill first and just flew down. Top speed 43 MPH

When I’m on the bike I usually have a song running through my head to kept tempo, yesterday was, “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups....

Bike: 38:53

T2 - ran into 3 people on the way back to my spot, felt like I was missing something, but headed out on the run...

OK, so the thing that I learned from Lake Stevens was that I didn’t do enough bike to run bricks. The thing that I realized as soon as I got on the run was, “ I haven’t done enough bike to run bricks”
Out on the run I immediately saw Alley and the rest of the posse in full gear running towards me, cheering me on. I was thinking, you’re all running faster than me, one of you finish this up for me : )

The thing I was feeling like I was missing as I left T2 was my inhaler. At mile one I had a crushing feeling in my chest and knew instantly this was going to hurt, at the same time it wasn’t getting any worse. I was running in a group of about 5 people and the guy I targeted as my rabbit was slowly pulling away. I figured, legs hurt, lungs hurt, why the hell not! I went from 7:20 pace up to 6:55 and dropped the group I was with. I held this for about 2 minutes and realized, I can hold this, let’s start hunting : )

I had two friends on bikes meeting me along the run course cheering for me yelling for me to keep bridging the gap and hold pace “you’re reeling him in” my lungs, legs and stomach were completely on fire as I saw my pace steady at 6:25. Had to push, season over in less than a quarter mile, crested the last rolling hill back to the finish and heard my gang “PICK IT UP” “CATCH HIM” - I love it............

Run: 20:09

Overall - 1:17:00 - 71st overall

The race was great, left it ALL out on the course, great friends, family and support. Beautiful day and not one regret about prep or effort used.

I had a goal of placing top 50, but ended up in 71st place. I feel OK about that, because I still PR’d over last year’s time. I had a different focus for the majority of this years training, from sprint to half-iron, so I knew there would be a little rust on the faster harder pace of a sprint.

The most important take away from the day was that I didn’t lose focus on any part of the race and kept pushing even when I wanted to stop because I hurt.

Also, let’s not forget that it’s just so much damn fun! All Photo's by Alley Kloba

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Was it really a month ago...

"The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa

For most this statement means to “compete” or just get to the starting line.

It’s taken a few weeks to really think about the lessons learned from Lake Stevens 70.3. Did the work leading up to the race amount to what I was expecting as a result? Did plans work out w/ energy, nutrition and pacing?

The day before at the expo I was mostly calm, figure I’d have plenty of time the following morning to be really nervous, and trying not to get too excited over helmed. I can’t explain the relief I felt when we made it out to the lake and saw the buoy’s set up of the swim. It seemed small, my first thought was, “I’m going to hit the bike just fine”

Morning of....

Getting to Stevens was fine and the urge to throw up was just below the surface so I just went into an auto pilot mode of steps to get ready. Days before I visualize how transition set up is and how the bike will be set up. I go over it, over and over again in my head so it becomes like a picture, then on race morning instead of trying to figure out transition placement I just recreate the picture w/ very little thought needed. Like coloring by numbers...

Talking w/ the gang before the start was great, several had recently done their first 70.3 so it was very calming to hear their stories and advice before the start. I walked out to the swim w/ Joe Tysoe and he talked about relying on my training and not to panic in the swim. Stay to the outside and not to get caught up in the sprinters at the beginning of the start, that die out in the first half mile...

In short the swim went well and was uneventful, perfect! At one point I was right in the middle of the pack and had to tell myself not to panic. Although with about 20-30 people swimming to my left and right sides and just a sea of caps in front of me I was right where I should never be, right in the middle. I made my way to the left side and tracked by the buoy line about 4 feet under water. The fog had not cleared and you couldn’t really see more than 15 yards ahead of you. Creepy, but kind of calming.

Swim - 40:21

T1 went well, I wanted to slow in up a bit and make sure I didn’t forget anything for the long bike. Coming out of the water the legs felt great and I run hearing the cheers of the gang supporting. So much fun...

T1 - 1:55

The bike had lots of levels to it, I looked at it as the main course to deal w/ for the day. The plan was to ride the first loop like a training ride, no aggressive moves, just steady and make sure to take advantage of the down hills so as not to make too much work for the up hills. Second loop was going to be the same accept I was going to rush the last three hill sets on the course.

Energy was great on the bike, my paper number on the bike came loose early, about mile 3 and started to cut my inner thigh on my right leg. It felt like a razor blade hitting my leg every 3-4 pedal strokes. OUCH!

On the second loop going up the “hill” I guess most people call it I was surprised to see my gang cheering me on up the hill. Cow bells and screaming and even a giant Deviled Egg! I was maybe too focused I seeing them really cracked me up and reminded me what great friends and family I have !

The bike was going well until about mile 52-53, the last kicker hill back to transition. I could feel a change in energy and a feeling in the stomach that this was about to be a long day.

Bike - 3:00:36

T2 I slowed up a bit because I could feel something coming and ready to jump on the system. I was really hot coming off the bike so opted not to put socks on for the run. Figured it was a bad choice, but was willing to live w/ it.

T2 - 1:14

Running across the transition zone to the out gate was where I felt the slipping start. I hit the street and heard my name being yelled and the adrenaline rushes forward and you forget about the aches of the body for a few seconds, it’s great! I got about 10 minutes into the run and was hitting 8 minute pace and just tried to keep my mind off of the meltdown that I knew was going to happen. The legs left heavy and the lack of any shade the run pretty difficult, I hit the 3 mile mark and left a wave of dizziness wash over and wondered at first way it took so long to hit. That sort of left the door open for the wheels to start coming off...

I walked for a few and at mile marker 4 picked up a jog and started again, which was good cause I saw Tony seconds later and told him a was doing OK and about 2 minutes later I rounded the corner and saw the gang screaming and cheering and egging me on. I ran by giving a thumbs up as my stomach was in full revolt and the dizziness was creeping back. Down the road from them only about a half mile was the water station that my team was working.....UGH! Can’t stop and walk here either....Big smile and thumbs up here too...

The run is a loop course so I’d have to go through the same area again, but at least I knew where I could walk and not be seen. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to walk plenty of hard races before, I just didn’t want to worry any of gang out cheering and having a good time. They come out, early, and cheer for you, that’s amazing, I just don’t want them to worry and have their day of cheers turn to concern and survival reports.
At mile 8 or 9 I saw Tony again and told him I was in bad shape, I joked a bit, but I think he could tell I was down in a hole. I kept tell myself, “energy is coming back, stay in there and this could pass and you’ll get your legs back”. The truth was my legs were feeling better every 5 minutes or so because my pace was down to 10 minute miles and I was walking every 100 yards or so, my stomach just wasn’t giving it up.

I saw joe out on the run about this time and he waved and said something quick like “ stay in there” At mile 11 after the last big hill on the run course and it was just back to the finish. I had a plan to ease down the hill, don’t make the legs work, walk the turn about 20 yards, then let’s see what’s left.

I could see the mile 12 marker coming and went from a walk to a job. I closed my eyes for a while and just told myself to be calm and breathe. I hit the 12 mile mark in full stride, the stomach started revolting the legs felt great, I was focused. I looked at my forerunner (watch) and had pace at 7:40. Legs left light and I was feeling great! ...Just stay in there... I hit the last turn and saw Joe again, done w/ his race walking down the sidewalk w/ a piece of pizza and he said “ hurry before the pizza gets cold “. I cracked up, but seeing Joe and remembering what he’s done for my running over the last year I went into track mode and just focused on leg turn over and form.

I hit the finishing shoot with my forerunner reading 7:04 pace, 7:40 for the last mile. 9:06 ave. for the overall run.

Run - 1:59:05

Overall - 5:44:01

Lessons Learned -

There are plenty of things to learn from and build on.

Swim - just get in the water more, I should of gotten to the point of 1.5-2 mile steady rather than just 1 mile swims 1-2 times a week. Also, more swim/bike bricks...

Bike - Much more time on the bike, no questions. Rode the course 4x and that was my longest rides. never when over 60 miles.

Run - I throw so much at the bike and swim in the last 5-6 weeks that I let the run go down to just 3 runs a week of about 6 miles each. Have to keep the run miles up to at least 30 miles a week.

All in all, it was my first one and I can’t beat myself up too badly. I know where I fell short and where I can be proud of, sometimes they are the same things...Go figure...

Thanks to everyone that came out to support and sent well wishes. Crossing the finish line takes so much more than just you being out there by yourself...

I'll post pictures in a few days...