Friday, January 26, 2007

SMW Regional Board


This past weekend I was selected to be on the South Midwest Regional Board of Directors for USAT. I'm one of 12 board members. I'm pretty excited to help out with the region. Hopefully, I have some good ideas that can be implemented and I won't get swallowed by the politics.

Today I was appointed the Chairperson for Championships in our region. That means I'll be coordinating the selection of the Regional Championship race and National Championship qualifying race for 2008. There are some cool new changes coming down the pipe from USAT with regard to National Championships. Should be fun.



Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New ride!


It's finally here. My Kuota Kalibur frame/fork arrived last week just in time for the snow, ice, freezing rain, and freezing temperatures. I haven't been able to ride it outside yet, just the trainer. So I can still stay I've never ridden a carbon bike. Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway, it's cool. I also added a Visiontech base bar and Vision Tech brake levers. The levers are tiny, but very aero, so they were the obvious choice. I'm going to try and run the base bar without bar tape. We'll see how that goes.

Super thanks to Kuota and Steve at Bicycle Store Too in OKC for helping me out.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Running?

Uh, no.

Well, on further evaluation it appears I don't have ITB issues, but instead I have an inflamed lateral meniscus. Not much I can do except rest, ice, and take Advil. So, with that I swim and bike!

Speaking of swimming. After only 7 years of swimming I finally accepted the fact that I crossover on my hand entry and that this is hindering my speed. On Wednesday I actually found a spot to enter the water that was not crossing over and still doable. After several 25s to give myself some muscle memory of what good was I'm adjusting well to the new sensation. Today using my new found entry I managed an easy 33s 50 and a comfortable, but hard 2:33 200 at the end of the workout. I'm pretty sure those are lifetime bests for both distances. Maybe there is something to this (not) crossing-over thing. Here's hoping.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cat. 4 baby!

Woohoo! I upgraded to Cat. 4. This is getting serious now. I am officially no longer part of the "Crash 5" group and I can now do some of the 3/4 races. I also found out I can race Master's so I suspect I'll be doing that a lot since several of my teammates are master's as well. Better keep riding, eh?

ITB!!!

Phooey! The day after Fall Classic was supposed to be the start of our run focus for the winter. I was really looking forward to this. I really, really want to be a faster runner and we had a plan all mapped out to get there. Unfortunately, it seems I pushed pretty on Sunday at Fall Classic and smoked my quads. The result? My ITB on my right knee flared. I've not had problems with this knee before. Now 11 days later I've haven't been able to run, but things are looking up and I should be good to run on Sunday. In the mean time I put in a couple of good rides, so all is not lost. It's still October. Better now than later. No big deal. This is a good time to be social and we have social "stuff" for the next 5 days/nights.

End of the season? The fun never stops! (OKC Velo)

Well, you'd think with the end of season things would be winding down, but no, everything seems to be in high gear and I'm energized to train for next season.

One of the highlights of recent weeks was an invite from OKC Velo to ride for their race team. Considering I'm a relative newbie to road racing this is pretty cool. So apparently, I've now joined the "pirates"! With that a real schedule for races is already shaping up and I've put in a few good rides recently in anticipation.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Redman - Ever had a dream?

I finished the Redman Iron Distance Triathlon in Oklahoma City, OK on Saturday. This was my first Iron Distance race. I’m not going to give a race report exactly. I actually want to tell you about a dream I had before the race. It all started back in early summer. My wife, Chris, is also a triathlete and she would be racing the Redman Half-Ironman. We live about 45 minutes from the race site and our club Tri-OKC is the primary force behind Redman. Most of the race committee are Tri-OKC members. I got to thinking… How cool would it be if my wife and I both won Redman on the same day? A local race, surrounded by friends and family. I mean, how cool would that be? Surely, that would make an interesting article for the local newspaper, wouldn’t it? That WOULD be cool.

Of course I really didn’t have any business thinking such a thing. Let’s do a quick review of my athletic history. I have no background in any of the 3 sports. I’ve never entered an Iron Distance triathlon before. I’ve never won a triathlon of any distance. In fact, I’ve never even led a triathlon before. To top it off the 2005 Redman champion was back to defend his title. Obviously, just a crazy fantasy, but I enjoyed thinking about it. I never told a soul about my little day dream, not even Chris.

It IS crazy to think about, but there were a few small “crumbs” of possibility that I could cling to. Redman is a fabulous race and everyone I talked to after the race had a great time, but this was no Kona qualifier. There would be no washing machine at the start of the swim. There would be no drafting on the bike because with 125 IM racers that sort of thing was just too easy to avoid. All of us were just people with a dream and the desire to do something extraordinary. Also, Chris had been having a great season, winning a few shorter triathlons earlier this season, so hey, maybe at least half of my fantasy was realistic. Still, I was a first-timer. Then again, this was my 6th year of triathlons. In fact, this was my 15th triathlon of the season. I’d finished 5 half-ironmans previously including the Triple T earlier in the year and CATS 1/2IM in August.

About 2 weeks before the race I started day-dreaming about the race. It was a mental race rehearsal. I went through the entire thing from start to finish. In my mind I showed up to the start relaxed. I swam easy, starting out slow and relaxed, then getting out of the water in the top 5-10. I love transitions so I planned to go through T1 just like any other race. Wetsuit off, helmet on, sunglasses on and I was off with shoes clipped to my pedals. Not rushed just simple. I imagined some people would use the changing tents so I would move up a few spots before getting on the bike. Onto the bike and I would get straight down to my target HR of 135-140 bpm. Feeling great, loving my Hed Jet 90 and diskcover in the Oklahoma wind I would start passing people. Early on the bike I imagined myself moving to the front. Keep in mind, I’ve never led a triathlon before, but this was my day-dream and by golly I was enjoying it. Once in the lead I imagined my lead growing as I stuck to my HR targets, staying comfortable, never pushing. I would get off the bike feeling fresh and start the run very, very slow. I wanted to feel like I was crawling the first few miles, but my HR would be right at 150bpm. I won a Timex GPS earlier in the year and I planned to use it on the run for reassurance because I knew from training that I could feel like I was crawling at the beginning and still be running faster than my goal average pace. The run would become an exercise in holding back. I didn’t want to feel like I was pushing for as long as possible. I knew I wasn’t the greatest runner, but I thought if I paced myself right on the swim and bike that at least I could run the whole thing except the aid stations. I admit I even carried my little fantasy right to the finish and there I ran through various scenarios of what I would do when I crossed the finish line. Still in the lead I imagined lots of fist pumping and celebration. I thought about what it would feel like to win an iron distance triathlon. It was a great feeling (in my head), but I enjoyed thinking about it and it made me smile. Again, I never told a soul about my “race rehearsal”.

So that was my crazy, ridiculous dream of how I won my first iron distance triathlon.

I didn’t stop there however. I used my dream to make a plan. I wrote down a very detailed race plan. I wrote down how I would feel in each leg, how I would avoid “racing” early, my HR targets for each segment of the bike. My HR target for the run. What and when I would eat throughout the day. It was all on paper.

Then I really got crazy. I mean what was I thinking here? My parents were in town to watch, so I gave my mom a list of times that I thought I would complete each leg or lap (each leg was two laps) of the race. It started with a 5 minute window and increased to a 15 minute window by the finish. I know this goes totally against conventional wisdom for a first IM, but I did it anyway. When pressed by close friends and family I even threw out a nice round finishing time. It would be wrong to call these goals though. They weren’t goals, they were just times I though were realistic if I followed my plan and executed to the best of my ability.

Then Saturday, race day, arrived and it all went something like this…

I stood ankle deep in the water on the front row waiting for the start. Whitecaps washed across the lake. The sun had just barely creased the skyline. The start gun fired and I started my first IM. The water was rough and I loved it. After the first turn we swam with the waves and I found I was quite good a catching little surfs as each wave passed under me. For the first time ever I took a whiz while swimming. Kind of proud of that. When I exited the water I heard I was the 5th full-distance swimmer out of the water. I felt fresh as a daisy. This was fun so far.

Onto the bike and heading north into the wind, I passed a young guy, then another. My HR was right near my target most of the time. Early on it would get up over 145 occasionally and I would scold myself and get it right down near 135. The miles ticked by and I didn’t see anymore full participants, but it was hard to tell because I was catching the tail end of the half participants. As I approached the turn around at 28 miles I watched the riders going the other direction for signs of any full participants, but no one stood out. When I finished the first 56 mile loop I stopped at special needs, picked up my bottles, took another whiz, and asked the volunteers if any other full people had gone by. They I said I was the first. Heading back out to start the 2nd loop I really started watching the riders finishing the first loop, but there were a lot of half people and it was too hard to tell who was who. On the 2nd loop the wind was stronger. The forecast was for 13-17mph winds with 28 mph gusts. I didn’t mind. It was just like our training days in the spring. For the last 11 miles out to the far turnaround the course heads west and the wind was out of the northwest. My arms started to get tired from countersteering that Jet 90 on the front, but I kept thinking how my wheels were best when the yaw angle was high and soon I’d be at the turnaround and get to head back with the wind to transition. My back, butt, and legs still felt great and my HR was right on target even pushing into the wind. Finally, after the turnaround I was able to see where the other riders were. It was 5 minutes from the turnaround when I saw 2nd place. Because I had a tailwind and I was riding at 28-30mph I figured I was going almost twice as fast as the guy still fighting the wind to the turnaround. That would make the gap almost 15 minutes. After 3 miles the course on the return makes a right turn and uses different roads for awhile so I wouldn’t be seeing anymore oncoming racers. When I made the turn only the one guy had gone by the other direction. The rest of the return was uneventful. I felt fine, but decided to be a little more conservative and keep my HR down at 135 or a little lower.
When I racked my bike at T2 Chris was standing just outside the transition fence. While putting on my shoes and grabbing my race belt I asked her how her race had gone. She was first female in the Half…

Starting the run was the crucial moment for me. I knew I had to stick to my plan. I had to be conservative starting out and I was. My HR immediately settled around 150bpm while my pace was about 30 seconds faster than my goal average pace. Near the first turnaround at 6.55 miles I resisted the urge to pick it up a little. It felt so easy, but my pace was still just under my goal pace. After the turnaround I met 2nd place heading out to the turnaround after about 10 minutes. 3rd place, the 2005 champion was not far behind. Back to transition to finish the first loop my pace was still right near my goal pace and my HR had started to drop just slightly. When I passed by 2nd as I started my second loop the gap was about 17 minutes. As expected the 2nd loop got more difficult, but I just stuck to my plan. Run from aid station to aid station. Walk for a few seconds to drink at each aid station. Wash, rinse, repeat. At the far turnaround the gap was about 11 minutes. 6 miles to go… Run to the next aid station, walk and drink, run again. I was getting slower, but I was still running. Nothing hurt, my stomach was in good shape, just my quads and feet were getting really tired. 1 mile from the finish I looked back for the first time. Nobody. I had a mantra early in the run. It was “you don’t have to run fast, you just have to run”. For the last few miles it became “the faster you run, the sooner you can stop”. I don’t remember thinking much else towards the end. As I approached the finish line I started to celebrate just like I had done in my dream. I raised my arms in the air



and then it hit me… I had just finished my first iron distance triathlon. I had just won my first triathlon. I was the 2006 Redman Iron Distance Champion. Me? My celebration became a simple collapse onto the ground.


Some interesting tidbits from the race:

My splits were 1:07, 5:25, 3:48 = 10:24

I got off the bike 20 minutes ahead of 2nd place and 29 minutes ahead of Lee Hunt, the 2005 Champion. Lee ran an amazing 3:20 to finish only 1 minute and 10 seconds after me.

I’ll be the first to admit my run is weak, but I honestly don’t believe I could have biked easier and made up the time on the run. The reality is I have a 3:33 open marathon PR from 2005 in perfect conditions with good pacing. I averaged only 23 miles of running per week this year and my longest run of the year was 16 miles. Giving up only 15 minutes for my first attempt? I’m pretty happy with that.

http://www.triathloncalculator.com predicted my splits would be 1:04, 5:13, 4:24. Which lends some credence to my claim that I paced the swim and bike well and that I have no business running faster than 3:48 right now.

The times I estimated for my parents? Swim 1:05-1:10. Bike 5:20-5:30. Run 3:45-4:00 and then a general 10:30 overall time. Actuals again were: 1:07, 5:25, 3:48 = 10:24

Remember my first little dream? That crazy, ridiculous dream that I had no business thinking… Sunday morning there was article in The Oklahoman about the race. Here’s the link to the story:

http://www.newsok.com/article/2852946/

I have a bunch of thoughts on why I think my day worked out so well, but I’ll save that for another time. The simple answer is: I had a dream that I used to make a plan and I executed that plan to best of my abilities.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

OKC Velo Criterium - End of the Series

I did the 2nd criterium of my lifetime last night. This was much more exciting than the first. Let me try and set the stage. This was the fourth and last race in the Summer Series. The series champion would be based on best 3 out of 4 races, with 3 races needed to be considered for the series. Going into this race I had 23 points. 11 points for 1st in the first crit, 11 points for 1st in the TT, and 1 point for the circuit race where I finished out of the top 5 (read last!). Points are awarded as follows. 11 points for 1st, 9 pts for 2nd, 7 for 3rd, 5 for 4th, 3 for 5, 1 for everyone else that raced. 2nd place for the series, Greg, had 21 points. He finished 2nd in the first crit. Out of the money for the TT, and 1st in the circuit race. With only 2 points separating us, basically whoever finished in front of the other would win, unless neither of us finished in the top 5, in which case I'd still get the series. Technically, if I finished right behind Greg in the top 5 we would tie, but I didn't know how they would break the tie and really didn't want it to come to that.
So I had exactly 4 strategies that I could use for this race. All were designed to either finish in front of Greg or for both of us to finish out of the top 5. Before the start a guy approached me to let me know that he and his buddies were going to try and break away early and that if I wanted I could join in. I thought that was nice. It meant they were at least on my side for this race, even if our goals were different. I explained that actually I'd be happy if a big group got away as long as Greg wasn't in the breakaway. Strategizing already...
So the race starts. There are 18 of us. Immediately I pull out plan A. Plan A is to sit on Greg's wheel and hope a big group breaks away. I would being doing very little work sitting in the group in case plan A didn't work and I needed my legs for later on. So the laps tick by, a few breaks go and come back. One large break gets away and that leaves Greg at the front of the chase with me on his wheel. He is forced to chase down the break on his own. That is a good thing. He is already working more than he has in previous races and I'm not working at all. In fact, I'm getting rather bored tooling around at the pace of the group, but at least I get to see more of how the group dynamic works in a crit. The race is 30 minutes then 3 laps. We are well into the 20+ minutes and nobody has managed to get away for more than a lap or so. By this time I have totally eliminated Plan B. Plan B was to just sit on Greg until the final sprint and try to come around him at the finish. Ya know, just like Robbie McEwen would do... There is a serious flaw in this plan. First, I'm not Robbie McEwen! I don't really know how to sprint. I can TT pretty well, but I have no sense of timing and I don't really have a sprinter's intensity. Greg on the other hand, is currently a Professional BMX racer. He just raced World's in Columbia a few weeks earlier. His races are typically 30 seconds to 1 minute long. Greg weighs around 200 pounds and has thighs about the size of my waist. After sitting on Greg's wheel and trying to stay on his wheel when he was chasing breakaways in became quite obvious that Plan B was doomed from the beginning. Pretty much we are talking about me trying to out duel a top fuel dragster with a diesel truck, and not a very big diesel at that! Well, on to Plan C then!!!
Plan C, as I had so carefully calculated exactly one week earlier while I laid in bed awake wondering how in the world I was going to beat this guy now that everyone knows who I am and he knows that he is only 2 points behind me for the series, was to breakaway on my own just like I did in the first race. There was one problem with plan C though. First, now in the 4th race of series I was THAT guy. The breakaway guy, the guy that can TT, and the guy that pulled everybody around the Draper Lake loop. Nobody would be letting me go 6" off the front much less a real gap. But I didn't have any options left. Greg was riding exactly like he needed to, to make sure he finished in the top 5 and in front of me. So I start looking for an opportunity to breakaway. I need a point where I could surprise Greg and the group and there it is… Greg starts to reach in his back pocket for a little flask of Enervitene. It's like a gel, but more high powered for a short burst of energy. Just the sort of thing a guy like him would need to crush me in a sprint. :( Is that my opportunity? I hesitate for a moment as I reflect upon the unwritten code of cycling of not attacking while your opponent is "pre-occupied"... Or did I just make that up? What would Lance do? Am I supposed to attack now or not? Crap, I don't know. Oh well, the moment passed. He finished the Enervitene and I was still sitting on his wheel contemplating the universe.
Now I'm getting antsy. I need a little time if I try a breakaway and it doesn't work to then recover for the finish. Then it happens. We come around the corner at the top of the course. We're 27 minutes into the race. I'm on Greg's wheel about 10th spot and-all-of-a-sudden the Red Sea parts and I'm sitting in the middle of the road with 5 riders down the left side of the road and 5 riders down the right side of the road and nothing but clear blue sky right-down-the-middle. I don't think, I just go. Hammering. People start shouting "there he goes". I think half the group had that sitting on their tongue just waiting to say it. Probably, was starting to taste bitter they’d had to wait so long. I just ride as fast as I can through the corners trying to get a gap. I don’t look back, I just ride. I make it through 1 lap and start to check my progress. I see the group way back. 200 maybe 300 feet. A long ways for just one lap. But, there is a front wheel right behind me! I look again… Disaster! It’s Greg. I’ve managed the breakaway. I’m well clear and could probably stay clear for the remainder of the race, but what good would it do me? Greg is just going to sit on my wheel and out sprint me at the finish. Time for Plan C-1… I DON’T HAVE A PLAN C-1!!! How many scenarios could I possibly run through laying in bed based on my wealth of experience from one crit and hours of watching the tour on TV? They don’t even have crits in the Tour! So while I try and whip Plan C-1 out of my butt, I just keep riding hoping that Greg the sprinter will just get tired before I do. I do a few more laps hard and he is still stuck to me like glue. The draft is so significant that he probably isn’t even working very hard. Even though I’ve managed the breakaway, I decide to scrap all variations of Plan C. I ease off. One guy catches on. I ease off some more and just before the group catches us the new guy scampers off the front and goes solo. The group, now down to 6 or 8 riders, catches on.
Now, in my dreams the group catches up and somebody fresh hits it hard, there are only a few laps left, Greg is now too tired to chase and is unable to sprint into the top 5. Did I mention that was a dream? Inexplicably the group just files in behind us. So here we are with 3 laps to go, right back where started. I’ve executed Plan A, B, C, even C-1 as well as I was able and here we were setting up for the dreaded sprint finish with maybe 8 guys, some who are just barely hanging on. Time for some verbal encouragement to the group. I start yelling to the group (nicely) to GO! I tell them he (Greg) will kill them in a sprint so if they want any chance of finishing up front they need to go NOW! There were two realities taking place at that moment. One, we were riding at roughly the pace of a 5-year old on a big wheel. Two, the guys were wiped out. Gone, done, finished… They were trying to go, but they had no go left.
The bell lap. One .75 mile loop around the course is all that is left between me and 2nd place for the series. Remember one guy is still off the front. Doesn’t really matter. I’m not trying to win the race, just win the series. As we cross the line for the last lap I’m 3rd wheel behind Greg who is behind one of the group that managed to drag himself to the front for one last gasp. We are approaching the first turn and in a moment of perfect opportunity I invoke Plan D! Yes, as matter of fact, I did have a Plan D and by golly I was going to use it before this race was over! 50 feet from the corner I hit it. Full tilt boogie, white knuckle, into the corner. I was easily going 5 mph faster through the corner than the lead guy, maybe more. See the plan was to hammer into the corner at the last minute and fly through the corner. Greg by the time he realized what I was doing and following another guy would be unable to accelerate before the corner, he’d end up going slowly through the corner and then have to accelerate after the corner. By that time I’d have a gap and then there is another corner only 200 feet further. Hopefully, I’d be able to carry my speed through the second corner and arrive at the back straightaway with enough of a gap that it would just be a long top speed drag race around to the finish. Of course, the folly of this plan is that the distance remaining was pretty much exactly the time and distance of the typical BMX race! Rut ro! So I fly through the 2nd corner. My tires are actually chattering slightly as I fight to maintain grip on the road. I’m going much, much faster than any of the previous passes through the corner. Did I mention it rained approximately 1 hour before this race? Did I mention there were still puddles in this corner? Did I mention someone crashed in this corner during the A race? Well, all of the above are true, but not particularly relevant before now. So I squeak through the corner, starting flying down the back straight like my ass is on fire and I take a peek back to see if my efforts amounted to anything more than a leadout for Greg. Just as I look back I see Greg jumping the curb, flying up onto the grass, with one foot out the pedals. Sketchy corner + 200 pound dude + trying to catch up do not a smooth corner make. Now at this point you probably think I just cruised around to the finish for my 2nd place on the day. Not exactly. I kept the pedal to the metal just in case Greg saved the corner and managed to get back on the road without losing too much time. So I’m almost to the last corner, pretty tired by now, thinking more about the people than the road and I run straight into this huge pothole that I’d gone around every lap before. My bike makes a sickening crack and for a moment I thought I’d broken my fork or destroyed a wheel. Still upright, I gingerly navigate the last corner, bike still beneath me and soft pedal to the finish to take 2nd place for the day. Holy cow! That clinched the series and yes I admit I pumped my fist when I crossed the line! I could be wrong, but I think that is what crits are all about…
Chris ended up taking 3rd for the series thanks to her outstanding TT. I think the loud crack I heard was just the bars rotating in the stem when I hit the edge of the hole.
Fun stuff!

Monday, August 21, 2006

CATS 1/2IM

Arkadelphia, AR
1.2 mile swim / 56 mile bike / 12.75 mile run

5:05:35 - a PR barely

So close, but not quite...

Had a solid swim (33:14). For a non-wetsuit swim that is pretty good for me. The bike starts out mostly uphill for 6 miles or so. It was very hard to keep the HR between 150-155 per plan and I ended up riding a good deal of that section above 160. Probably dug my hole right there. I got out of the water in 20th, by the time I reached the top of the climb I was around 10th. I was definitely gaining a lot of time at the bottom of any descents as I pushed to keep my speed up as long as possible. Once on the flats my HR did settle in nicely between 150 and 155 and by the turnaround I was in 4th. The way back was fairly uneventful as I played tag with another guy that did the first half at a similar pace. Still my HR was mostly near 155 and not 150. Ended up with the 4th fastest bike split, but my average HR for the bike was 157. Just a little too high. Swim average was 170 which seems really high, almost unbelievable. This the first time I've ever hit the split on the swim, so I am curious to see if that continues. I only drank 2 bottles of Infinit plus a little water from the course. This was another mistake. Next time I'd like 3 bottles of Infinit plus 3 gels. That would get me almost 1500 calories for the ride and should set me up nicely for the run. Bike split was 2:25:08. I'm thinking I was 2-3 minutes too fast. The run started out fine. I had my cold fuel belt and felt okay with the heat. The fine part lasted about 5 miles and then I really started to feel everything. My HR was stuck over 170, I was hot as hell (high of 102 on the day), and my breathing was completely whacked as "asthma" kicked in mid-way through the loop. I finished the first loop in 5th and Steve passed me shortly after, but I knew as I was finishing the loop that I was done for. The hill starting the 2nd loop was just too much and I guess I gave up. Too hard on the bike, not enough nutrition, heat, high HR, and breathing issues all conspired to effectively end my race. I ended walking half the 2nd lap with a pathetic 2:05:03 run on a short course. Not what I was hoping for, but I learned a lot. Now hopefully by writing this down I won't make the same mistake again. We are definitely looking for a cooler 1/2IM to do next time. Ralph's 70.3 sounds like a good option. I'd like to get a solid run split in a 1/2 for a change.