Sunday, July 29, 2012

An Up and Down Week

This last week did not start out very well. I was on a planned 8 mile group run last Sunday and after a great first mile I rolled my ankle very badly. Without giving too much description here, I will just say that when I explained it to friends that asked about it, they always cringed when I described it--something which didn't make me feel any better about it! I spent the rest of the day icing, resting, elevating and compressing the area. When it kept feeling worse I was relegated to wearing a boot to give the area additional protection by mid-afternoon. I was starting to fear that there might be some sort of break associated with this injury and not just a sprain or strain.

 Well, by morning the pain was subsiding and it was getting easier to move around. I was still wearing the boot, generously loaned to me by my friend Karen, much of the time over the next several days as the injury continued to heal. From the point of view of a week later things are looking much better. The discomfort has lessened to just being a bit of minor background discomfort part of the time, and there was no pain or difficulties from the area on a 5 mile run today (The Sunday following this injury.). I'm still going to be mindful of allowing this area to fully heal, but at least I know feel like complete healing is going to be sooner rather than later.

By Wednesday following the injury, my spirits were picked up a but by a delivery from ClIF Bar! I had received my summer shipment as a CLIF Ambassador and got a few nice things.

This shipment included 300 mini CLIF Bars (200 Crunchy Peanut Butter and 100 Blueberry Crisp). Both are very good, though each has an entirely different taste. I also received a long sleeve CLIF tech shirt. Being that temperatures are around the 100 degree range this week, I will be sticking with my short sleeve shirt for a while but I'm glad to have this for when it cools off later this year. I also received a dozen drawstring CLIF bags and Chocolate-Peppermint CLIF Lip Balm to pass out along with my CLIF bars as I perform my Ambassador duties.

Finally, this weekend had another positive in store for me as I was able to pick up my packer early for next weekend's Bridgeland Sprint Triathlon. This is a big event with about 1,500 registered athletes and I have done this the last 2 years. I am looking forward to comparing my expected improvement with this year's time to the times from the last two years.
In the end this week had more up than down. My ankle seems to be well on the road to recovery and does not seem that it will keep me from giving a good effort next weekend at the Bridgeland Sprint Triathlon. Who know, it might even be forcing me to be better rested for this event. So far, next week seems to be starting out just fine as I am doing a lot of television watching, which is something I have not done much of for a long time. The subject of this increased viewing? The Olympic Games, of course!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Distinctly Different View: Texas Star Tri 2012 Race Report

My first serious thought of doing this race came right after completing the Y Freedom Tri several weeks ago. After months of working towards, and completing, Ironman Texas I was completely thrilled with doing a sprint distance triathlon again. While I don't consider myself particularly speedy, I loved the feeling of opening up and going all out. The Texas Star Tri is held in Montgomery Texas, which is the historical home of the Texas Lone Star Flag design.

Race morning began with me getting to the race site just before most of the volunteers and I was able to park about 50-60 feet from the transition area, which really made set up easy. Being a shorter race I had minimal setup to worry about and I was done fairly early. 

If you look right behind me you can see the exit from the aquatic center pool to the transition area, which was close and allowed for a quick move between the two events.

The swim was a 300 yard seeded swim done in 25 yard lanes and swimmers went off every 10 seconds from both ends of the pool and got out in the center lanes as they switched lanes after every out and back. I had listed 5:20 as my seeding placement time, which I thought might be a tad fast but I was hoping to feel motivated to go fast. As it was I was exiting the pool around 5:10 and officially finished my swim in 5:29.1, including the pool exit and run out the building.

T1: Although I had some minor fumbling with my helmet straps, this was of minimal concern and I was on my way in a T1 time of  49.5 seconds.

Bike: This was listed as a 10 mile course and I had about 10.1 miles on my bike (maybe a shade more) so this was pretty accurate. In a relatively flat area, they seemed to find some decent hills as we seemed to be going up or down a lot. My strategy was to go hard the whole ride--it was only 10 miles, right? Well, I did keep with this plan and passed a fair number of cyclists and was passed by none.I finished the bike in 29:41.6.

T2: I made an effort to be quick in transition and only had a minor issue with my shoes. Then I grabbed my visor and race number belt and put each of those on as I ran off, finishing T2 in 59.2 seconds.

Run: The run was a cross country run around the high school athletic property. Most of the first mile was on pavement but most of the rest was off road, sometimes on somewhat muddy trails. Finally, the last 300 yards or so were on the school track to the finish. My goal was to run as hard as I could for as long as I could, and hold on to the finish. I passed a fair number of runners and was only passed by two others. The first guy who passed me early in the run proved to be the eventual race winner and he ran a 3 mile time under 17 minutes. The other runner who passed me got by me around the half way point and though I was not able to catch him, I stayed near him for the rest of the race and was only about 40-50 feet back of him at the finish line. I pretty much accomplished my running goals and was able to finish in 23:36.3.

This gave me a final time of 1:00:35.9. I had previous supposed a perfect race for me could be done in just under an hour, and I came pretty close to that. What was more important is that this race felt close to the best I could have done in terms of execution during the race, and that made me really happy. I felt that I had run about as strong and complete a race as  had in me on that day, and that also made me feel happy. This was my 19th triathlon to complete since I began doing triathlons in May 2009 and this was definitely the most complete race I had run overall (with last month's race being a close second).

The reason I do events such as these is for reasons of health and fitness, as well as for personal satisfaction. I'd never won awards, nor did I think I would ever expect to win any--although, I would have expected it would be good to win something at some point--but not in any way that made me feel like there was something I needed to prove anything to myself, or to others.

However, this day held something else in store for me. When they called out the name of the winner of the Men's 45-49 age group, the name they called was mine. It did not take me long to get over to the Race Director for my prize (an iTunes gift card, with a more formal award to be sent later after my name is added to it). 

For once, I had the distinctly different view while standing next to the race official and of looking back at the crowd while the cheers were for me---and that really was very nice. Hopefully, I will be able to win another award or two at some point.

However, that still is not the reason I do these races. I do them because I enjoy them and they help me be a better person by keeping me healthy physically and probably also mentally--and I hope I will always do these things for those same reasons for a long time to come.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas 2013

After close to 8 weeks of delays the registration for Ironman Texas 2013 opened at noon EDT yesterday. I was ready to register for the 2013 race at the original date registration was to have opened (the day after this year's race), however there were some unanticipated conflicts that had to be resolved......and apparently they were resolved. During the time since then I've been working on other plans, such as considering a later year Ironman race for 2013 and planning a late 2012 marathon for my beat possible race effort. Recently, work has intervened and I will not be able to make the Marine Corps Marathon this October due to scheduling conflicts. I'm currently looking at whether I reschedule to a race in Texas in November for that marathon or if I switch back to a fall triathlon schedule because if I'd do follow through with a fall Ironman next year then it will be 2014 before I can do some of these other races. At the moment Ironman races in Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona are the leading candidates for a group trip with my triathlon training group for fall 2013. However, this post is about Ironman Texas 2013, which opened registration at noon EDT yesterday (11:00 am CDT here). My registration confirmation email arrived 12 minutes later. I'm looking forward to it already!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Y Freedome Tri 2012 Race Report

I was coming into this race with high hopes and set some seemingly (at least to me) ambitious goals for the race, as follows:

Swim: 6:15
Bike: 31:25
T2: 1:30
Run: 24:30
Total Race Time: 1:05:00

So, just how did I do:

Swim: 6:33.2
I had some minor issues with a couple others crossing over the swim lanes but overall it seems I was on the mark with my estimate, if just behind my goal for the swim. Perhaps, I just didn't quite push hard enough, though since this was a seeded race and I neither caught the guy ahead of me, nor was caught by the guy behind me, then I must have been seeded correctly.

Transition 1 1:07.9
I had a good spot near the bike out location and made the most of it with a quick time here. I really didn't think I could beat last year's 1:11 time, but I did.

Bike 31:01.1
I kept a good quick pace, pushing hard but not too hard. Well, maybe a bit too hard at times, but this is a race after all! I finished with an average speed of 21.3 mph and beat my goal time and cut 1:39 from last year's time.

Transition 2 0:59.2
I had the second fastest T2 time in my age group so I don't know how I could of been much better than that.

Run 24:12.6
I did what I set out to do with this run. I started quick, but not too hard. Then I increased the pace a bit as time went on. My mile times were approximately 8:26, 8:10 and 7:35.

Crossing the Finish Line!

Below is a comparison of my times at this race over the 4 years I have done the race, I think it is fair to say that this chart shows how my fitness has continued to improve over those years.

Swim....7:25......6:43.......6:30..........6:33    (swim times include a run to transition)
Total.1:33:08..1:18:06.......xxxx.. 1:03:54

As far as this day went, where could I have improved? Well, I had some issues on the swim from other swimmers that slowed me and I swam decently hard but probably not really at a "race hard" level for the whole swim. I was happy with both transition times and maybe could shave a couple seconds off. Doing the relay last year gave me the luxury of going all-out on the bike without having to run. This year I kept something in reserve for the run. I definitely could have gone faster, though I can't say for certain whether I think it would have hurt the run or not to have gone much faster. On the run I probably could have pushed a bit harder earlier, but it was with the same thought about needing to be sure I was able to keep the pace and improve throughout the run. So, maybe I could have been a bit faster, and maybe not in the end, or at least not much.

In the end this netted me my best overall finish by far for this race, and for any other triathlon. In 2009 I finished 19th out of 22 in my age group and 291 out of 380 overall. In 2010 I finished 18th out of 28 in my age group and 218th out of 443 overall.  I finished 4th out of 21 in my age group and 32nd out of 397 overall. I'm just overwhelmed that I could have ever accomplished this considering where I was when I started this sport. In 3 years, I've cut nearly 30 minutes off my time in a sprint triathlon (nearly 1/3 of my time from that year!). I've had a lot of support from family and help from friends and some fantastic coaching advice over the years, but the truth is I don't know that I ever really thought I could be truly competitive in this sport until today.  While the success was mine today, my thanks goes out to any and all that have given me support over the last 5 1/2 years as I have sought to improve my physical condition.

One of those friends was last year's relay partner, Karen, who also did the race today. She finished 7th place in her age group and is already plotting her improvement for next time. Good work, Karen! The theme for the race this year was one of honoring veterans and supporting the military service members. As part of that the finisher awards were replica "dog tags", which you can see on the photo below.

Finally, I ended the triathlon adventure with a well-earned treat for lunch. I had the Darn Good Burger at Black Walnut (their actual name for burger). It was most definitely well-named and quite filling. Tomorrow I can go back to my normal mostly healthy diet but for today, this was my lunch....(and it was great!!!)....