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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Downtown Columbia Triathlon Race Report

My friend Jason Thomas spent the night with us and we got to the race site fairly early, around 7:00 Am, to set up the FCA-E booth in the expo area. As we were carrying the ez-up down the flight of stairs that leads to the intramural field beside the Blatt PE center I had a bit of an accident. Somehow I didn't see the last step on the stairs and kinda stepped on it halfway. The ankle gave way quickly and down I went. Graceful!! Jason put it best when he said, "Not a great way to start the day"

At first I thought it wasn't too bad and wouldn't bother me too much. As time went on it just got worse an worse. The swelling was getting larger by the minute. I rounded up some pain meds and Biofreeze from Chuck and Jason and, after setting up transition, went back to the truck and set about trying to do what I could for it.

I sent an update to twitter about my misfortune and got to praying. "Lord, this is crazy ... what's going on here?" "Is it just a weird accident?" "Should I race? Should I pull out?" "What if I can't run?" "I expected to do well at this race .." "I wanted to podium at least ..." "This sucks!" "Maybe this is for the best ... maybe I was going to get run over by a car and this is saving my life" 'Maybe not ..."

I decided to just do the best I could and see what happens.

Chuck and I went out for a cruise on the bike around the course with a few pickups and then a short run. The foot felt fine on the bike but was pretty painful on the run, especially downhill.

Thankfully I had plenty of time to do a swim warm up. The foot was quite painful in the fully elongated position while swimming and my toes went numb.

I swam beside one of my competition and noticed I was faster. Good. Flip turns under lane lines were solid.

The start came quick and I was too discombobulated to reset and start my watch so I was racing without knowing my splits. My lane mate was a no-show so I wouldn't get or give any help ... fine with me.

And I was off. "I’m gonna fight ‘em off. A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back …" ringing in my head.

People lining the wall. I wonder what they are thinking? Find a rhythm. Strong a steady.

First flip turn under lane line ... perfect.

After a lap or two I start looking for my competition. Someone is gaining on me. Strong and steady. Someone is on my feet. Someone's tapping my feet. Be polite, do a touch turn at the next wall and let 'em go and then get on their feet and stay there.

Last lap already? Get out quick and get the suit halfway down before you get to the bike.

Dang, what's Herbie doing? I'll pass him in transition, that'll work!

Running out of transition with my bike I see David Hall up ahead. That's who passed me in the water. He's stopping at the mount/dismount line and mounting his bike . Flying mount for me and I get back few of those seconds he took on the swim.

Onto the bike and straight into some climbing. He's not climbing that well. I'll get him quick.

"Another one bites the dust …"

Sitting in second place now. I tried hard to put some time between David and myself on the climb. Once onto the flat section heading towards Gervais I can see Woody up the road a ways.

I noticed I'm gaining on him on flat part of Gervais into a headwind. I'm turning a big gear, head down, grunting with lots of snot and slobber coming out of my nose and mouth.

On Harden heading into 5 points I gained even more time on him. I'm not far behind him by the time we make the right onto Blossom. Cool, there's a motorcycle leading the way. I pass him on Blossom and tell him "good job". Now I'm in the lead. Looking down at the speedometer, it reads 31.5 mph on the flats. The headwind on Gervais is a cross/tailwind on Blossom.

Back by the Blatt for lap 2 and the motorcycle pulls off. Some age group athletes are coming onto the bike course now. I blast past them and up the hill again. This is fun!

Onto the flat section heading to Gervais, Woody has matched my pace and is not too far back. An SUV nearly runs me over as it pulls into the closed lane. I pass it on the right and waive my arms like lunatic. Woody is still back there.

Back to the flat section of Gervais with the headwind. Between here and Blossom is where I made time on him on the first lap. I'll put some time on him here again. By the turn back onto Wheat I don't see him back there anymore. Cool! I'll have a lead going into the run. But first I have to keep the throttle on for one more lap.

I wonder how Bryan is riding? He started 40 seconds behind me I think which makes it really hard to figure out how the race is unfolding at the time.

The last lap was blur, just trying to go as hard as possible, avoid traffic, and get as much lead-time going into the run as I could.

Coming back into transition the volunteers didn't see me until I was right there. Quick dismount and I see my father-in-law and son cheering me on as I run to my rack. My son is screaming and cheering ... very excited. That gives me a big boost of energy as I head out on the run.

The run starts out with an uphill section which doesn't feel great on the legs coming off the bike. It feels like I'm running really hard but very slow. I have no idea what pace I'm running - I need to get another Garmin!

Once I got up the hill and onto walking bridge I started to settle into a rhythm and began accessing how much of a lead I had on Woody. I could see him behind me about 20 seconds back. But he started 10 seconds in front so I figured I was 30 seconds ahead.

Foot was hurting with every stride but wasn't intolerable. After the turn-around I got a little better assessment of the field. It looked like Woody was gaining back some time but not much. I figured I could hold him off. I expected to see Bryan and David sooner, but it looked like Bryan was moving really fast. I figured I had done enough on the swim and bike to hold him off too.

Back at the Blatt I once again caught the volunteers off guard. Thankfully Al from Go Tri Sports popped out the booth and kept me on course up the stairs and over the last foot bridge and around the block. I cruised it home and when I entered the intramural field my son was waiting to run it in with me. He kept the sub 6 pace for the remaining 100 yards or so and we crossed the line together. What a feeling!! Simply awesome.

What a start to 2010 ... first race and first win!

Friday, March 12, 2010

It IS about the bike

Well, this post at least. With all this talk about running lately it is easy to forget that my strongest discipline has historically been the bike. We'll see if that holds true this season! I've done an awful lot of work on my run and it's undoubtedly brought me to whole "'nuther level", which was the goal for the offseason and preseason.. And the past few weeks my swim partner and I have been seeing our benchmarks drop steadily in the wake of bringing big intensity to our workouts. Anyway, back to the bike. A true work of beauty ...

A HUGE thanks to Harrell's Bicycle World!

Matching color schemes for the boys' race bikes (excuse the messy garage):

Monday, March 8, 2010

PreSeason Update

Is once a quarter too infrequent to blog? Are there still any readers out there?? Lol. I wish I could commit to a weekly post but I fear I couldn't hold to the promise as busy as I seem to be all the time. It's crazy ... a true balancing act.

The priorities are:

1. Faith: This is the glue that holds it all together. Everything falls apart if I don't maintain certain level of closeness with the Lord.
2. Family: My #1 love and responsibility is being Hubby and Dad. The "Dad" part is challenging at times! My only hope is that my kids look back on on their childhood with fondness and know that I've always loved them more than anything.
3. Triathlon: my passion. It drives me to strive to excellence.
4. Work: provides for #2 and #3. I enjoy the creative side of architecting software but abhor the political side of corporate life.
5. Friends / Coaching: I love my friends and really wish I had more free time to devote to spending time with them (especially training together). For the ones who are also dedicated to triathlon I provide triathlon coaching / training at no charge. I enjoy the process of getting fit for racing and like sharing this experience with my friends.

On the training/racing front things have been good. My last post was over a month ago and I'd just ran the state 5k champs race in Greenville with a fast (for me) sub 18 min 5k and beautiful, hard and epic Caesar's Head ride. Unfortunately I turned up injured shortly thereafter with a sprained ankle.

I did the typical "wait a week and give it a try" thing with no luck. Reluctantly I went to see an orthopedist where I learned what the injury actually was and that I would need to take 2-3 weeks off running. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise as I really needed to put some focus on my bike fitness! In addition to my typical trainer riding, and as yukky as the weather was, I made a point to get out for a really solid 70 mile ride with some friends over challenging terrain during this time.

Luckily, with the week I'd already taken off, it only took another 1.5 weeks before I was back to running again. That gave me a whopping 2.5 weeks to get ready for the Lexington Race Against Hunger 10k. LRAH is a challenging race with a ton of short and steep hills. So much so that most people I've talked to consider it 1+ min slower than your typical 10k. It is also the team showdown against the dreaded Blue Cross Blue Shield and Westinghouse.

We (Colonial Life) had won the past 4 years and intended to make it 5! But I also had an ulterior motive I was calling "operation coup d'etat". A little background ... About 3.5 years ago I decided to put down the smokes a try to get in shape. Just today I was thinking back to 3 years ago on my 32nd birthday when I ran 4 consecutive miles for the first time. Anyway, since then I've always been considered Colonial's #3 runner behind a couple of friends that are talented runners ... true runners, dedicated runners, collegiate team runners, not triathletes. These guys typically win or podium at every run race around here. But my aim was to take them both down ... to become Colonial's #1 runner (and a triathlete at that - a hard pill for most pure runners to swallow).

When all was said and done we failed to win the team race (placed 2nd) which was a shame, but I was still smiling inside because operation coup d'etat was a success!

Not that I had a stellar race (38:16) but it was enough to get the job done (by 4 seconds - Steven and I pictured) and good enough for 7th overall and 2nd in M35-39. It was a hard race. My friends and I ran together for the first 3 miles before I surged to get a gap on the guys. I should say that one of them, Randy Finn, has run well under 38 minutes twice on this course but just didn't have the goods this year. But it's all about what you have on the day, and for now I'm the reigning king of Colonial! Lol, how ridiculous that sounds!! But you have to celebrate the little victories in life! Yep, I'm competitive.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that I'm ABSOLUTELY LOVING my new Scott Plasma. Thank you so much Harrell's!!! That is one awesome ride! I could never afford a bike of that caliber for myself. I just had my Zipps re-badged to match better so I'll post pics of the whole setup when I get them back from the shop.

Can't wait for the tri season to kick off later this month. I'm getting really swim fit and running should be better than ever, still some work left to do on the bike . Only 3 weeks until my first race!