Thursday, August 25, 2011

Splash Mash Dash and Cash

In my first triathlon earlier this month, I felt like I'd bombed the swim portion of the race...pulled a Gus panicking in the water. It wasn't exactly a panic, but I thought I was going to hurl. Not feeling quite satisfied, I signed up for the Highlands Ranch Splash Mash and Dash (SMD) triathlon a mere two weeks later. You don't suppose I have some healthy addiction issues do you?

My recovery from the previous Bec Tri was a bit of a non-event compared to how my body feels after a marathon so why not? The good part of the Highlands Ranch Tri was that it was on my "home court" with the start, finish and transition area a mere 1/2 mile away from my house. The first race I ever rode my bike to the start. At this stage of my early triathlon career (I only wish it was my career) I still have no idea what a good time is in a tri. Not a good time in the sense of did I crack a smile, but what's considered fast. I started studying the results from the previous year's race and realized my Sprint time from the Bec Tri was respectable and within range of the podium so I set two goals for myself; 1) improve the swim, and 2) go for it and try and grab some more hardware.

From SeekingBostonMarathon
Aside from studying the times, I also studied the course and in fact did a dry run of the bike portion earlier in the week. If you've ever run or rode in Highlands Ranch you would know that it's anything but flat. I once again used a borrowed bike from my brother-in-law (a 15 year old "classic") that was better than anything else in my garage. We're talking old school with the leather straps on the pedals. I should have worn a leather helmet to go with it. The bike portion was a steady climb for the first 1/3 which turned the corner into an even steeper hill and turned another corner into another climb. As they explained at the mandatory race meeting, "what goes up, must come down" and the second half was practically all down hill. Only tricky part with that was a 90 degree turn at the bottom of the hill (turning onto Broadway.) My practice run was 32 minutes and change.

At the race meeting (and packet pick-up and body marking) the night before they explained the course, and added some safety tips (including be aware of the speed bumps heading in and out of the transition area on the bike.) We were going to swim four to a lane (WTF????) based on our 500 yd times. Only problem, I've never swam four to a lane and I had no idea what my 500 time was.

I had an idea on my 500 yd time, but I'd have to check my DailyMile posts and get a calculator off Google to figure that out. Nervousness set in on the swim part again. Please don't "Ralph" during the swim I was telling myself and what's a circle swim? They had the meeting at BikeSource and I was dealing with some serious bike envy. Good thing I didn't have my leather straps there bike there--they're akin to the skinny snow skis I have in the garage--but effective.

As mentioned above, I peddled my bike to the race start and began setting up my transition area. I tried not to be obvious, but I was observing others on how they rack their bike and lay out their goods. I spotted a couple shirtless males and started to second guess what I was wearing...would my tri shirt slow me down in the water, should I go commando? Gulp. The swim was part indoor (11 lengths) with a short jog to the far side of the outdoor pool for another 9 lengths outdoors. I found three others to group with in our lane who felt we were about the same pace. I'd learned last night what the etiquette was for "passing" another swimmer...a tap on the foot and you'd allow them to pass at the end of the pool length. My pace was brisk on the indoor portion and passed one other swimmer. I clearly need to work on my swim pace/endurance as I slowed down a bit on the outdoor portion and got passed by a couple women with their fancy flip turns. I don't quite have the flip turn figured out (at all.) Another long run to get from the pool out to the parking lot transition area. Swim time was 11:04. Grrr....that felt slow.

Not having much transition experience, the first one felt pretty good. Unlike my last race, this time I didn't grab my running hat for the bike ride. I started to put on socks then decided to skip that and slipped on my running shoes for the bike portion. Transition time was 1:09...not bad, but coulda been better. I seemed to struggle a bit on the pedals then was off for the bike portion. I had discussed hand position on the handlebars with the experienced biker/triathlete at BikeSource the night before which I implemented and went into the climb. Just like my swim stroke two months ago, my handlebar grip was wrong in my last race apparently. With a staggered Sprint start and the Olympic distance race which started before the sprint athletes there were a number of cyclists ahead of me. Overall, I seemed to go back and forth with a couple of riders and passed a couple. The downhill portion was a blast as I was able to fly. Bike time over 9.5 miles was 31:40. I avoided wiping out on the speed bumps and flew through the transition area in 37 seconds.

Off to my strongest section...the run. As advertised the 5K run was not flat at all with climbs in the first two miles then "opened up" with the last mile downhill. I was hitting a sub seven minute mile pace for the last portion and finished the 5k in 26:40 and an overall race time of 1:11:11 (what a poker hand!) With a longer swim and tougher run course, this was a couple minutes slower than my last triathlon so there was no PR today, but for the second time in as many tris, podium! Second place in my age group and 10th overall male. Splash, Mash, Dash & CASH!

I was warned by many of my triathlete friends online (Morey, Skibba, and SugarMagnolia70) that I'd better be careful because these tris can be addicting...ya think?! I sense at least one more in the next month or so before I try and resume my marathon career as I'm still figuring this tri thing out.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Joe Runner

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hair of the Dog

Lloyd: What will you be drinking, sir?
Jack Torrance: Hair of the dog that bit me, Lloyd.

I have a good friend who's a running encyclopedia of movies quotes. We trade quips from movies which often relate to our lives. The "Hair of the dog" from the Shining movie just fits for two reasons;

1) Until two weeks ago, I'd never run a triathlon. I ran it and (imagine that) I was critical of what I could have done better so I signed up my second TRI in the month of August this coming weekend. I was warned this could be addicting just as Lloyd's libations were to Jack (Nicholson) in the Shining's hotel bar.
2) Luck of the draw stuck me in an older (and isolated) hotel in Chicago. As I was debating beers in the empty hotel bar or getting my swim in, I did the healthy thing and opted for the pool. Second reason? this pool was downright creepy.

I'll leave out the hotel brand name because it's where my Gold (almost Platinum) status resides, but let's just say it rhymes with Charriott. This one is in need of a face lift as it sports old furniture with that green and burgundy hotel flowered carpet that smells like your aunt's hope chest. ("I see dead people...")

I walked past the aforementioned hotel bar en route to the fitness center and
pool area. The cavernous path lead to a huge yet empty workout facility and pool. I was saying to myself, this place is kinda creepy.

I got my laps in as I've lately been packing a swim suit and goggles along with my running gear when I travel. My stroke and lungs felt pretty good and got 40 laps of the approximate 15 yard pool. Odd was around 8PM yet no one showed. This place was massive and I had it all to myself...had Delbert Grady (caretaker of the Overlook hotel in the Shining) disposed of the other guests?


At the end of the pool was some lattice-covered ductwork capable of concealing cameras, victims, or gushing blood. Next to that was the rescue hook...which slasher film had the creepy dude in the rubber fishing outfit that maimed his victims with a similar hook?

I escaped alive to write this in my hotel room (no it wasn't room # 237) and starting to get into my pre-race zone. Just like Jack Torrance who had a rough night and asked Lloyd for the "hair of the dog," I am getting back on the horse (or should I say bike) after half drowning in my last TRI and asking for the "hair of the dog" as I'm running my second Triathlon in as many weeks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Love/Don't Love

I borrowed this blog idea from RedHeadRunning (I only wish I'd thought of that blog name considering I'm a red-headed runner,) who borrowed it from Christy from 25 Before 25. What do I love/don't love?

Two and a half months without marathon training and no marathon on the calendar planned. Missing my second favorite race (Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half) due to my layoff. Not love.

From SeekingBostonMarathon

Newfound hobby of mine to temporarily replace the adrenaline rush of marathons? Triathlons. I was warned that they might be addictive. I have my second triathlon within a month planned this coming weekend. It just might be love.

Podium in my first triathlon. Love.

Construction project in my courtyard that has my hot tub under wraps and cutting into my physical therapy. It was supposed to be a one week project (yeah...right) that's now into the third week. Not love.

I have fallen in and out of love with the NFL over the last 12 months. I have to admit, with the prospects of Fall right around the corner, I'm looking forward to some football. What's better after a 20 mile training run than a little football on the couch. Love.

Coming to the realization that my iPhone4 does not have Flash support like my previous Droid did. Further realizing that many sports sites are flash based? Not love and a little pissed.

Lawyers. Not love.

TrueBlood Episode 7. Getting the head scratch massage from my wife during the episode? Love.

If you have followed my DailyMile, you'd know that many of my runs have been on the road due to business travel this year. I have run some ugly routes and literally run the rubber off some crappy treadmills. Last week, I was able to catch one of my Chicago favorites running through the Herrick Lake Forest Preserve. Crushed path in a preserve? Run bliss. Love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Triple Play

Triple the work, triple the fun. This last weekend I completed my first ever triathlon in beautiful Avon, Colorado just outside Vail. What's wrong with this picture?...I am a runner, not a swimmer, and bike rides are my cross-training. Two weeks ago I literally still couldn't spell "T-r-i-a-t-h-l-o-n." The extent of my water experience was "play" swimming as a kid, the man-made lagoon in college for our annual Luau, and soaking my run bones in my courtyard hot tub. Due to the summer layoff from marathon training, I was in need of a fix and figured that a triathlon would do just that. Would two months get me ready for a Sprint Tri?

Race Week

Work once again interfered with my fitness world. I usually avoid travel the week of my marathons (except to get to them,) but the week leading up to my race I punished myself with meetings in Dallas and Phoenix. Only problem is that both were hovering 110 degrees and dry as a cotton ball in a desert. Did I drink enough? mmmm probably not, and beer doesn't count. I got home late Thursday, had to work Friday, and headed up I-70 to the Vail area Friday night for a Saturday race. Not one of my smartest moves.

Race Eve

The Bec Tri is a smaller race so there was no expo. R
egistration was at the Avon Recreation Center which was sat across from the Harry Nottingham Lake and Park which served as the open water swim, transition area and finish line. One of the internet tidbits I picked up was to walk around the open water swim to pick out landmarks to swim towards. I went through this walk through after grabbing my bib and marked my arm and calf with my number for the race. Given my somewhat "last minute" decision to train for a triathlon and my busy schedule, this was going to be my first open water swim, and first open water wetsuit swim. I know, I know...I knew better, (and you experienced tri athletes are laughing about now.) I'm not always smart when it comes to my passions. As I looked at the lake, the buoys looked awfully far away from the start. Gulp...

After a local dose of dinner pasta and a quick stop at the grocery store for my breakfast, the rest of the evening I used my instinctual habits as a marathon runner to prepare for the race by re-checking my gear more than once then laying out it out to put on in the morning with the rest of my transition gear in my swim bag. I "crashed" hard as I went to sleep mentally preparing for my big race.

The Race

I arrived early just as the transition area opened at 6:30 and set up my gear just as I'd learned to do on YouTube. I brought my "garage" mountain bike up, but opt'ed for my brother-in-law's road bike for the race. I figured, I'm swimming in the open water for the first time, why not use a bike I've never used before (other than the lodge parking lot the night before
.) I wandered across to the rec center to use the toilet and nestled into a lobby couch for 10 minutes of rest before I was told the rec center wasn't opened yet and I politely had to leave. You can't blame me...wet grass nap or nice warm leather couch? Nevertheless, an awkward moment.

I waited for the more experienced athletes to put on their wetsuits as my cue to put on mine. I used a combination of Body Glide and KY on shoulders, knees and lower legs to ease in the removal of my wetsuit in the first transition after the swimming leg. Not every day I put on a rubber suit lined with oil. I eased into the water and felt quite comfor
table in the suit and felt pretty good about things especially after "christening my suit" in the lake. Once you are zipped in, there's no getting outta that thing again until the transition area for a potty break. After a few more instructions, I was off with the first wave. I have to admit, the start was much like I'd expected. Kind of like when they yelled "shark" in the movie Jaws in the beach scene. Arms, legs, kicking, and shoulder-to-shoulder combat. The closest comparison was my Chicago Marathon which was shoulder-to-shoulder for nearly ten miles.

Ty's Start of BEC Triathlon in Avon, CO from Ty Godwin on Vimeo.

Before I reached the first buoy, I had something happen I've never had in a race and didn't see in any of the YouTube videos I watched; nausea. I wasn't that nervous, and hadn't swallowed any lake water. I threw in some breaststroke with my freestyle to try and get more wind into my body to calm things down. What felt like 15 minutes was actually 8:52 for the 400M swim portion of my race--far slower than the times I did in the calm tranquity of the local pool. At least three times, I wasted strokes as I veered off my trajectory. Did I mention I'm new at this? There was
also no pool stripe below me to guide my path, just murky lake water.

As I literally tripped getting out of the water, I headed towards the toughest transition (from water to bike.) I felt like I was running in slow motion as the nausea was still there and I headed towards my transition towel and bike. My wetsuit came off just like it did in practice and as I'd learned on the internet. I sat on the towel to compose myself and put on my socks and shoes. Slightly delirious, I grabbed my running hat with my Amphipod belt (which had my banana gel) and bib number attached. Why did I grab the hat? Instead of tossing it aside, I tucked it into the belt. I jogged the bike up to the street and still didn't seem to have my senses, and slowly hopped on for the spin section.

As awkward as my swim was, I started to regain composure on the bike on the 15Km leg. I had studied the course which had a "moderate" hill climb of 400' in a neighborhood over a 1.7 mile stretch. Note to self and visitors to Colorado, one man's moderate hill is a
nother man's mountain especially when described by a mountain local. Despite studying the map, I found myself climbing the hill without knowing I was on that portion of the route and muttered to myself, "this must be it." Kind of like "heartbreak hill" in Boston. I did pretty well, but had a few experienced bikers pass this rookie on this portion. The fun part was once I'd hit the apex, we got to fly down the hill. I don't think I've ever gone as fast as I did down a hill on a bike, and nervously tapped the breaks a couple times going into some corners.

My only regret or mistake on the bike was my awkward Garmin moment. I'd attached the Garmin to the handlebars of my bike and figured, I'd move to my wrist along the route. At one point, I took both hands off the bars to move the Garmin (which I'd already started) to my left wrist. On my own bike in my neighborhood would be fine, but with wobbly legs on a new bike with highway 6 construction just before railroad tracks was just plain stupid. I avoided calamity.

The second transition was much more graceful as I didn't have to deal with
bike to running shoes since I went with running shoes for both biking and running legs. Ditch the bike and helmet, grab the hat from my running belt and I was off in to my comfort zone--running a 5K. The run route had an out-and-back element, so I could start to see how many men were ahead of me. My legs were a bit wobbly, but I once again got into a groove. This was the fun part of the race as I was able to pass three men on this portion and didn't allow any men to pass me. As I got down to the final stretch near the lake and finish line, my son was waiting on his bike and egged me on to turn on the jets. I found my fifth gear and blew past a younger woman who had just eeked ahead of me moments earlier.

As I passed the finish line mat, they removed my ankle timing chip and I dropped to my knees on the grass, and tried to hurl. I'm sure the onlookers looked at me like I was some kind of frat boy "laughing at the grass," but this was no laughing matter
, as I tried to regain my composure. I moved to the results table and t.v. screen and realized I'd come in third in my age group. This reminded me of the Steamboat Marathon last summer which was another tough mountain race and also yielded a 3rd place. I guess good things happen in threes and summer mountain races agree and disagree with me.

So for all my TRI friends on DailyMile, Facebook, and twitter, you're probably wondering, "how did you like it?" and "will you do another?" The best answer would be, what did I do for my Sunday after rest or workout? I went to the pool for an 800 meter swim. I'm considering another Sprint Tri before the end of the summer to prove to myself that I'm not Gus Grissom* in the water and now that I have one under the belt, it's time to go for a PR!

As far as the race and organizers, I'd have to give them two thumbs up. "Bec" Yarberry was a local triathlete who lost her life in a tragic car accident in 2007. They host the annual race in her honor. I would recommend the race to beginners like myself as I loved the city, the course and the volunteers were "top shelf!"

* Gus was an astronaut who flew in Project Mercury. Upon landing in the ocean, he was accused of panicking in the water, blowing the capsule door hatch, and sending a very expensive piece of gear to the ocean floor.

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine