Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Olympic Tri Training

I decided to use this weekend to be my "official" start of preparing for a late summer Olympic distance triathlon, which will either be in Austin on Labor Day or in Clear Lake City (home of the Johnson Space Center, aka NASA) 2 weekends earlier. The final decision on which I will do will be based around my work and home schedule, at the moment each is somewhat convenient for several reasons. So I started by doing each event's distance (or greater) on one day this long weekend--even if I did go out of order for my convenience.

An Olympic distance triathlon is a 1500 meter swim, 40 K bike and a 10 K run (or in English measurements, approximately 1640 yard swim/24.8 mile bike/6.2 mile run).

Saturday, I did my weekly (more or less) longer bike ride and did 26.5 miles. Sunday, I met with my local running club and did 6.3 miles. Finally Monday, I went my gym and swam 1700 yards, which was my goal for the day. I did think of doing more for a while, but it was getting near to the start of a water aerobics class and they would have chased me out soon, so I chose to stop at 1700 yards, which is easily my longest swim of the year (I have done 1200 yards several times this year.).

I am planning on spending a big chunk of time on Memorial Day doing some work around the house. My family also enjoyed lunch (and maybe dinner to come) grilled out on the backyard deck today.

I will also find some time in there to remember the real meaning of Memorial Day. I would like to express my thanks to all my fellow U.S. military veterans for their sacrifices to keep this country safe.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hog's Hunt 25K

Today was the Hog's Hunt 25/50K Trail Races in Huntsville State Park. I ran the 25K race this morning, even though I really hadn't quite properly trained for this distance I have been looking forward to this event for the last two months. Last year I ran this race in 4:46:45, a lot slower than I might otherwise have run due to a foot injury which caused me to walk about half the course. My PR for 25K trail runs was set in the Rocky Raccoon 25K (same course for a November race date) at 3:46:26.

This morning I started out walking the first mile with a friend who was walking the complete event. We walked this mile in just under 16 minutes. Then I started running the event on my own. Starting out slow gave me the opportunity to pass quite a few runners steadily during the event. My general goals was to do a run 4 minutes then walk 1 minute schedule, while also walking on the steeper uphill portions. Overall this worked well for me as I ran a comfortable 12-13 minute per mile pace for the first 10 miles. In mile 11 I was running low on water as I got to a water cooler only aid station. Unfortunately, the cooler was nearly empty and no one was around it. I get a few ounces of water and knowing another aid station was about 1.5 miles ahead, I pressed on. (I would later learn they were in the process of bringing water back to the cooler at this time.) As I ran out of water I reverted to my backup plan which was to only walked until I reached the aid station to resupply, which I did after about another half mile. I was feeling pretty good again--for about a half mile--when I get a bad muscle spasm in my inside right calf. I looked down to see a big tight ball of muscle and an "empty" spot between the spasming muscle and the next muscle. I spend some time massaging the muscle and then start walking for a bit, when I feel up to it I start running some more. Another quarter mile and I get another spasm on my inside right thigh. Again stop, massage, walk, and resume running some. I took it a bit easier on my running, but another (maybe) half mile later the calf spasms return stronger. Again with the stop, massage, walk, and start to run. At this point I mix in walking and running based on feel so as to not overstress the right leg muscles any more than I need to and definitely only walk up all hills. That (slowly) gets me to about the 14.5 mile point. From there I try to push my pace a bit to keep up with some runners who had caught me--and I did stay with then for most of the rest of the race until they sprinted to the finish.

I finish in 3:37:48 on my watch, although the official time will be a bit longer as I took my time to pass over the start line (not a chip-timed race), so I figure I came in around 3:39:00. This is a 1 hour plus improvement over last year's injury-affected time and a 7 minute or so PR for me for 25K trail race course.

All in all, I am a bit disappointed in having the muscle spasms keep me from beating 3 1/2 hours, but I can't really complain too much when I set a new PR. Today's weather was fair to warm, but not too warm. The race staff and volunteers did a good job and things seemed to run pretty well. I suppose I am already starting to think about how I can improve for the next time. After the race, I got to sit with some friends (both old and new friends--new friends always add so much to the experience!!, and one special friend who I've known for a short while but only today got to meet in person) from The Woodlands Running Club for a while and root for the rest of the finishers.

To what do I blame my cramping issues? Preparation - meaning I had not run more than 10 miles since February, although it's not like I haven't been training at all, just not for that distance. Nutrition - My race nutrition consisted of taking 1 Cliff Block every 1.5 miles, excepting where I got to an aid station, and then taking in a variety of food at the aid stations. I drank mostly water on the run and Gatorade or Heed at the aid stations. Even with taking in all that I estimate I lost 4-5 lbs during the event. I also chose not to take my Endurolyte capsules with me since it was not quite as warm as I was originally expecting, and in hindsight I expect having them would have helped me out. I suppose I will learn form this and be a little better prepared for next time by keeping more stuff with me (i.e. extra gels, E-caps, etc... in my running bad). I have noticed it seems I bring more stuff with me to each trail event I attend, and if what my friends brought is any example that trend is likely to continue for me as well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

YMCA 5K Trail Run

I made a late decision this week to run the 5K Trail Run at one of the local YMCA's.

This morning was quite warm and humid, and I was sweating well before the race ever started. I decided to only put out an easier level of effort on this race and not push myself too hard. Even so I was still pressed to run a slower, but not too slow, pace today. I felt so worn down by the heat and humidity, I ran this 5K about 30 seconds slower than the 5K at the end of last week's triathlon.

I'll start looking forward to taking an easy pace on next week's Hog's Hunt 25K in Huntsville (TX).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

CB&I Triathlon

First off, this was the 6th year for this race and it appeared to be well run and well coordinated with the local community.

I racked my bike in the transition area Friday evening with no problems. (Doesn't my bike look a little lonely at this point?)

I also arrived early race morning to set up my stuff in transition, also no problems there. I found some friends from some races last fall and winter, and chatted with them for awhile before finishing my preparations

I was in the second wave and started out slow so I didn't get caught in the mass of swimmers in the lake before I really took off with the wave. I did have an occasional problem with contact with other swimmers, but nothing serious. The transition area was well-organized and caused no issues for me, I also had what I felt was a good transition area location and had no problems with the exit/entry points. The bike route was good and traffic control was excellent, I never once had to so much as slow down for or worry about road traffic. Another rider from my wave and I were pretty much moving at the same pace and leapfrogged each other every couple miles, finishing the bike at the same time. The run was a slightly new course this year (although I hadn't run this event before I had volunteered for it) but it was a nice out and back, looping through a new community. I saw several friends of mine volunteering during the run portion, so I was well-cheered for during the run.

Here's a photo of me snapped by a friend just after I entered the run course.

I'm not one to be confused with a speedster, and I finished well back in my age group, but I did beat my personal goals for each of the 500 meter swim, 15 mile bike and 5K run events. My stated goal for the race was to be under 2 hours, and I had really hoped to beat 1:50:00. In the end, my official finishing time was 1:43:54.5!
Afterwards, the post-race food and party was definitely better than average (at least the average of my experiences), and I got to sit around with my friends some more and discuss the course, future events and other stuff like that.

Looking back over the whole event, I am really excited about moving forward into other triathlons. I have generally not been very confident of my swimming skills, but I did just fine in my first event with a (somewhat) crowded open water swim. I really had not been quite properly prepared on my bike, but I still posted a time better than I expected, and I have certainly have lots of room for improvement on the bike. I felt strong on my run and was able to run and maintain a solid pace for the run, I hadn't expected to still feel strong by this point. I feel good about this as part of my overall endurance and expect my triathlon run time to improve as I also improve my run time in general.

I had a great time at the CB&I Tri and I can't wait for my next one!