Wednesday, October 27, 2010

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Friday, October 22, 2010

A funny thing happened

I think that is a title of an old movie or play, at least that is what I can gather from an episode of Mad Men (I'm on season 2) I watched on my way out to Austin.  Little did I know it was foreshadowing.

I left this out of my RR but remembered it yesterday and had to laugh (more on what sparked my memory below).

Out in Austin, during the final miles of the bike leg, just after catching up with fellow Blue rider, Trevor Wurtele, we came upon a little traffic. I saw a truck pulled over on the opposite side of the road, but until I got around a few cars, I didn't see what all the fuss was about.  Then I saw the driver of the aforementioned truck running down the middle of the street in jeans and cowboy boots.  This struck me as quite odd and I looked up the street a bit and saw the reason for the bottleneck.  A HUGE cow or bull had gotten lose and was running down the middle of the highway.  I couldn't help laughing.  Then it stopped, sideways, taking up the entirety of the lane in my direction.  I took a wide line around it, figuring no referee was going to give me a penalty for crossing the double yellow under these circumstances.  Just as I passed the thing started running in the same direction so I put in a little effort to drop him/her/it.  Just up the road I saw a cop laughing his ass off and taking a picture with his phone.  As I passed I laughed and said, "Only in Texas!"  On the run Trevor and I had a good little laugh about it as well. Good times.  

What reminded me of this was something I saw at the pool yesterday.  I have regaled you all with the funny/stupid stuff that goes on at my local pool.  Yesterday provided yet another instance.  A woman got in the lane next to me and at first I didn't notice anything.  It was only when I saw her swimming some unidentifiable stroke that she got my attention.  She was wearing a cap with a cartoon-ish shark on the sides, mouth open towards the front.  Then I saw her cap actually had a dorsal fin sticking up out of the top of the cap.  I stared in disbelief until she got to the wall next to me when I had to put my face in the water to hide my laughter.  She was like 40yrs old.  I'd be willing to bet this cap was bought in the pool toy aisle at a local Big 5.  What some people wear?!?!

Any funny things happen to you recently?  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Austin 70.3 Race Report

With my sites firmly focused on Ironman Arizona, Austin 70.3, like Tinley's, was another chance to race on short rest and a good amount of training running in.  I have come to expect that Coach's idea of a taper may not be exactly "couch time with Bon Bons" but the "taper" for this race was even more "eye-opening" than any before.  With some pretty tough workouts through Wednesday, I knew Austin was going to be a good day to build some mental and physical toughness.  If it was easy...

I landed in Austin after a painless non-stop flight and arrived at my Aunt's house mid day and HUNGRY! It was great to see my Aunt and cousin after many years.  I also got to meet my cousin's new wife.  First stop was the grocery store and Austin has one of the finest I have ever been to.  Central Market is RAD.

On Friday I got in a little run and a swim in one of the coolest "pools" I've ever been to, Barton Springs Pool.  A natural spring pool that is 50 yards wide and 300 yards long. Awesome!
Friday night I met up with old friend Greg out at his parent's pad for great food and conversation. Really good to catch up. And great to get to race with an old friend.

Onto the race.

Swim: 25:55
Despite some traffic getting into the venue and the slight hassle that a split transition presents, it was a beautiful morning.  I had less time than I would have liked to warm up and soon enough we were off.

Although my warm up was pretty much nil, I was happy to stick with the front group through the first 500m or so.  Then I had the misfortune of jamming my left hand and middle finger directly into an upkicking foot.  It hurt like hell and for a second I thought I dislocated my finger.  The pain of trying to pull water at that point was pretty bad so I took a few one armed strokes.  After that a gap had formed and I was off the back.  I had a little company to the first turn, but after that was pretty much solo all the way in. Adding irritation to injury, was the fact that the WTC has seen fit to allow wetsuits all the way up to 76 degree water even for pros!  I never saw any problem in having a different temperature for age groupers and professional athletes and cannot fathom a reason for this change.  I understand, sad and ridiculous as it is, that non-wetsuit swims strike fear in the hearts of Race Directors and some age groupers alike, but there really is NO legitimate reason that professional triathletes should be wearing wetsuits in water up to 76 degrees.  The water was about 73-74 degrees on race day and by the turn I was baking in my suit.  No reason we should have been in suits.  I was tempted to take a big scoop of water down my chest to cool off but knew it would be costly.  

Bike: 2:15:02
Onto the bike and I felt like death.  As usual my legs did NOT want to push for the first bit on the bike.  I was passed by seemingly half the field in the first 15-20mi.  At one point I got caught by a group of about 5-6 guys and Nicola Spirig riding a road bike!! I seriously contemplated just phoning it in the rest of the day as I thought the body was just not ready to go.  Brad Seng is a fellow pro I have had the pleasure to race and get to know this season.  I've also had the misfortune of getting to watch him catch me in the later stages of the run at IM LP and Wisc.  I know when he is in the field I need to have a good gap on him into the run if I want to hold him off.  Sunday he was in that group that caught me.  When he passed he asked how I was doing and all I could muster was  a sigh and grunt.  He yelled at me to "just push through and keep working."  That was really great of him and speaks to what kind of guy Brad is.  With Brad's encouragement, I decided to try and put my head down and just ride hard to hopefully salvage a decent bike split and get away from that group as penalties were being handed out right and left.  It worked. I got away and towards the end of the ride caught back up to Trevor Wurtele and we made a "Team Blue" entrance into T2. 

Run: 1:22:22

Heading out onto the run I knew Trevor was right behind me.  After running a bit with him at CA 70.3 this year I knew he was going to be tough to hang with, so I tried to get in some fuel and pace it easy, then try and stick with him as long as possible.  He passed me just shy of a mile in, and when we hit the cross-country style section of the course he got out of sight a few times due to the turns and put a gap on me that I couldn't close.  I was however running fairly well and felt pretty good. 

Keeping the man parts cool

Onto Lap 2
About a mile and a half into lap 2 Brad caught me and again I played the "hold on" game.  It lasted even shorter this time.  From then on I just made a point to run hard the rest of the way home and not lose focus.  I passed Charisa on my way back and could tell she was pushing hard as usual. She did and made up some spots on the run.  Seeing that kept me pushing.
Finish: 4:06:41, 10th Pro
I definitely had some higher hopes but the results were pretty in line with my realistic expectations given the depth of the field and my training going into the race.  Overall it was a new (Non-Clearwater) Half Ironman PR so that is something I guess. Still LOTS of work to be done.

Thanks to my awesome aunt and cousin for the hospitality and the videos. Catching up after all these years was great!

A big thanks to my sponsors.  I continue to be impressed as ever with the Zoot shoes. No socks, no blisters, no problems. Awesome!  The heat aside, I was glad I had on my new Zoot Prophet wetsuit as well as I have no doubt I would have been even further back if I didn't have such a great suit.  Despite my lackluster start, once the legs came around I was able to salvage a somewhat respectable bike split thanks in no small part to the performance of my Blue Triad SL.  The incredible wheels that Reynolds provides me with, helped greatly in that effort as well. PowerBar gave the the power to push and keep pushing and getting to meet some of the crew and feel their support on course was great. keeps me stocked up on all the essentials and makes racing and training just that much easier.  Last but certainly not least, a big thanks to PV Bicycle Center for all their help in keeping my Blue race ready and running smooth.

A few days to recover and then a couple weeks of big work. All guns set on IM AZ


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Race Day Eve

Well Austin has been more than I could have expected.

In no particular order, these have been the highlights thus far:

1. Getting to see and stay with my Aunt and cousin after not seeing either of them for probably at least 13 years, and getting to meet my cousin's wife for the first time.

2. Reuniting with old family/swim team friends from way back in the day while taking in some great views and grub.

3.  Having some great weather in Austin.

4. Finding that Austin has totally redeemed my opinion of Texas and the less than wonderful taste for the state that Lubbock left in my mouth.

5.  Swimming in a 900ft long "natural pool" sans wetsuit (on purpose) and goggles (not on purpose).

6. Finding an INCREDIBLE local grocery store (Central Market). If you're ever in Austin, hit this place up.

7. Meeting some nice locals on my morning run who were all training for NYC Marathon.

So hopefully tomorrow the trend will continue and all will go well.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tinley's race report

Prior to racing Ironman Wisconsin Charisa brought up the idea of racing Scott Tinley's Adventures Long Course Tri up in Arroyo Grande, CA. This race is part of the TriCalifornia Series of races put on by Terry Davis and crew, the same folks that put on Wildflower.  As is par for the course with TriCal, this race is EXPERTLY run and everything is top shelf.  From the SWAG bag, medals, awards, etc... all the way down to the individually marked transition rack spots, TriCal just knows how to put on a race. Even though it is my rookie year, I have raced enough to run across a few race directors and companies that seem less than thrilled to have professionals in attendance. We've even had a RD at a certain race tell us he "hates having to deal with our presence."  So, when I get to race an event where the race director and crew treat you well and seem genuinely happy to have us there, it is appreciated.  Everyone likes to feel welcome right?  TriCal goes above and beyond and really goes "all out" to complete the "race" experience for age groupers and pros alike.  I can't say enough about the team and their races.

I had raced the olympic distance at this event 2 years ago and it was a disaster (obviously nothing to do with race direction, but rather, the rain and the fact that I committed a comedy of errors in setting up my bike and transition).  So, especially given my poor performance in Wisconsin, I was eager to try and redeem myself after those performances.  However, given the proximity to Wisconsin and with Austin & IM AZ training to do, this race would be "trained through" with no real taper.  So I knew I was in for some hurt.

The views on the bike course though, were anything but painful.

Swim - 1.5mi: 32:20
Catching everyone by surprise, the USAT wetsuit cutoff temp of 68 meant we would be swimming sans neoprene as the water was allegedly hovering right around 70 (it felt colder).  So many of us ended up going old school and sporting tri shorts and furry (for some of us) chests.  I got off to a decent start but got out of the draft and lost the lead group.  I ended up finding a replacement in Emily Cocks (girl can SWIM) and gladly accepted a tow around the 3 loops but still had to work to stay with her.

Bike - 49mi: 2:06:19
Immediately on the bike Wisconsin and the lack of taper had my legs screaming at the effort.  I just tried to focus on my watts and keep pushing.  However, early on I was passed by 2 guys, one being Nick Thompson who I have raced several times this year.  Nick is a cool, stand up guy, a solid athlete and I really enjoy racing him, except for the fact that he has beaten me every time.  Each race has followed the same script, I beat him out of the water, he catches and drops me on the bike, I catch him right at the tail end of the bike, then he passes and drops me on the run.  So when he caught and dropped me on the bike, I figured it was par for the course.  I continued to try and push my watts and took note of the gaps at the first turn around.  At the second turn around, I noticed I had closed it down somewhat and a few miles before the finish, I caught back up to Nick.  I then tried to just put as much time as I could into Nick before T2.

Run - 9.3mi: 58:05
I now had my goal in mind, run steady, try and reel someone in, but most of all HOLD OFF NICK!  There is a big, vicious beast of a hill on this course that we must do twice, so I knew I had to have a good gap on Nick going into the hill on the second lap in order to stay ahead.  At the turn around on lap 1, I saw the gap was not that big, so when I started lap 2, I tried to put in a little surge and try to keep/extend the gap.  I focused on Dan McIntosh in front of me and tried to reel him in.  By the top of the big hill I had closed the gap from about 40sec to about 15, but that was as close as I would get, he let his long legs roll on the downhill and dropped me.  I gave it the gas on the one last little bump but Dan was too strong.  So I cruised it home on the downhill and enjoyed the finish.

3:38:05 & 6th place.

Thankfully TriCal, in addition to putting on a great race and treating ALL athletes like champs, additionally sees fit to pay the top 10 pros, so a paycheck was earned.  This is even more handy since I managed to leave my Garmin 500 in transition and someone picked it up and either didn't realize it wasn't theirs, or has yet to turn it in.  So if anyone that raced knows of anyone finding a Garmin, please let me and them know.

Once again thanks to Zoot, I was able to have one of the fastest T2s in the race and the TT 3.0s worked awesome (get yours at & save some $$ with coupon code IMIKE-S at checkout).  As always, the reliable Blue Triad SL performed flawlessly and delivered me to T2 ready and able to run.  The speed with which it did so was helped greatly by Reynolds wheels (SDV 66 front and Element disc) again proving their merit and reputation.  A few athletes flatted out on course and had their days ended when Pitstops failed to fix their tubulars. I was happy to be riding my Reynolds carbon clinchers knowing I wouldn't have that problem.  One mistake that could have hurt me was failing to bring gels out on the run course, however, the PowerBar gels and Ironman Perform I took in on the bike fueled the engine just fine all the way to the line.