Sunday, June 29, 2008

Results - McMinnville Triathlon

Well, not quiet sure what I was expecting and I'm not quiet sure what to think. I do however, now know where to go from here and where I need to improve.
My official times for the McMinnville Triathlon are:

Swim; 9:52 (slower than expected)
t1+bike: 1:03:07 (about what was expected)
t2: 2:32 (much slower than would have liked)
run: 29:43 (about what was expected)
total time: 1:45:13 - not sure what I was expecting.

Where I need to improve: I need to learn to swim "around" slower swimmers. Need to find a better and more comfortable swim pace.
Also, transitions killed me. Really need to practice these.
Additionally, I need to work on getting my heart rate down a bit prior to the end of the bike to ensure a smoother transition into the run. If I can get the run pace at or around 8 min/mile, I could possibly cut five to six minutes off the run time.

Would really like to cut some ten to fifteen minutes off the bike as well. This will require becoming more proficient at managing the cadence.

All in all, I'm pleased. I came in 144 our of 173 men.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

In the books!

It's official, I am now an bonafide, genuine triathlete! But no need to worry, Sports Illustrated will not be knocking on my door anytime in the near future asking for an interview, so anyone out there worrying about a new tri-king being born today... ah, that didn't happen!

What did happen, however, was an experience like no other. The adrenaline, the nerves, the jitters, they all found a common place, right about when it was time for me to take my place in line.

"Number 202" the announcer called, and ready or not, off I went. Into the pool, off to the races. 350 meters (seven lengths of the pool) later my biggest question mark had been answered. Not sure what my time was because as of this writing, the official times have not been posted, but it felt good, really, really good, regardless what the official clock tells me. One of my biggest concerns was that would interfere with younger, faster swimmers. I did not want to be in the way, I did not want to make any waves... no pun intended. What happened instead was just the opposite. But thinking about it closely, that was probably a good thing. It gave me time to catch my breath, and catching it needed.

First transition went okay, just okay. Stumbled a bit getting my gear on for the bike portion of the event. But off I went. The course was nice. Rolling hills, all manageable, none overpowering. Cadence was up, a bit higher than I've had it a practice, close to the 80 rpm. Remember the goal is 90-110. It felt good as well. Actually it felt good because I was overtaken only by a few bikes, all of which were ridden by athletes 10 to 15 years younger than me. If you're wondering how I know they were younger than me its because when the race officials do the body marking, they write your age on your left calf, for they world to see. I did manage to overtake a couple myself. That felt even better. I remember thinking and maybe even telling a few folks that time really didn't matter for me in this event. Well, when you're out there, pedaling your tail off, time does matter, and it matters a lot.

Second transition went bad, really, really bad. I think it took me over two minutes (goal should be seconds, just a few seconds) to change from my biking gear to running gear. This I must practice. It felt like I was stumbling over my own feet just to get myself ready. But finally out I went, off to the run course. As usual and as it has happened during training, the first couple hundred yards were tough. Body needs to get adjusted, legs need to figure out that you have changed gears. Once I got in the rhythm it was smooth sailing. I figured I would take it easy, again... Wrong! There's no taking it easy when someones got a clock on you. I was very thankful for the fact that this was the run course and not the bike course. Let me explain it with just one word: hills! The mother of all hills throughout this course, well at least they looked like they were the mother of all hills and I remember thinking: me, my bike and these hills... not sure that would work!

Was this all worth it? As you approach the finish line and the announcer calls your name... you know at that very moment that yes, it was all worth it!

A few things I learned today. One, I am not as bad as I thought I was in the water. Two, my comfort in the bike is growing. Three, the running still my strongest and last but not least: I suck at the transitions!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Just hours away!

With God's grace, tomorrow at this time I should be either finished or near the completion of my very first, ever triathlon! And as luck would have it, today I find myself in a state of "jitters". I guess the expectation of the unknown is what's most nerve racking. The swim... how will it go? will the countless hours in the pool pay off? Have I done enough? Could I have done more? The transitions? This is totally unknown territory to me. Although I have practiced a few times, it has obviously not been the same; in my driveway vs. the real world! The bike? will the 200 miles plus I've logged in the past three weeks pay off? How about the run? Although a short one by comparison, will my body, specifically my back, hold out? Do I have all the equipment needed to complete the race? I have been gathering all in a pile next to my bike for the past week or so. But have I forgotten anything? Jelly Beans or Gu Jell?, Water or Gatorade? I must trust what I have done in practice and not change for the race. There can be no surprises!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Back On The Saddle Again...

With just a little less than a week before my first tri and with last weekend's experience behind me, I wasted no time to get back on my bike. On Wednesday this week, I rode about 10 miles followed by about a mile running. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday... it was pool time.
This morning, I got up at the crack of dawn... well for me, on a Saturday it was the crack of dawn. Put on my gear, got my transition stuff ready for the run after the ride and off I went. I managed to ride a total of 17.5 miles on a course which I would rate, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being easy, 10 being tough), about an 8. An 8 because of the hills, one of which went from an elevation of 501 feet to 622 feet in .6 miles! Remember the story of the Little Engine that Could? Well, that was me when I first approached the hill and while I was going up the hill: "Yes, I can... Yes, I can.... Yes, I can" and when I reached the top: "I did, I did"!
The rest of the ride went smoothly, I average cadence was 70 rpm, well below the suggested 90-110, but well within my comfort zone. I stayed hydrated and life was good.
My transition time was exactly 58 seconds. For those of you not familiar with what a transition is, it's the time in between on event to the next. In a triathlon, there are two transitions; T1 and T2. T1 is the time between swim and bike, and T2 is the time between bike and run.
I drank plenty of water, changed my gear and off I went.
The first quarter mile, give or take a step or two, was pure hell on earth. Your body is trying to adjust from one event to the next. You've been on a bike for and hour and now you're asking you body to run! Just imagine! If there was ever a time when you begin to think "why am I doing this to myself", this would be the time. Again, that Little Engine came back: "I know I can, I know I can".
Once the adjustment period passed, it was all good. Not going to tell you that it didn't hurt, 'cause it did, but it was bearable, doable and well within my realm of ability. I was able to get 3.3 miles in. I was happy, very happy with that.
I am extremely excited about next week Saturday. It's off to the McMinnville City Triathlon. A new experience, which I'm looking forward to.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

OH my gosh! What was I thinking!

Today I learned a valuable lesson. When you decide to go ride (bike) with a group, make sure, absolutely sure, that you are at the same level they are. Cannot express how important this is. Let me explain.
Got an email yesterday afternoon. In this email they were inviting folks who wanted to ride today (Saturday) at 7 in the AM! Well, wanting to do a ride with a group, I decided to tag along. In this email it said that there would be a ride for beginners; that would be me!
So I get there, and all's looking good. Some 15 folks are getting ready for said ride. Am looking around and I know no one! No big deal. I was there, I could do this with these folks. After all, being so new in the sport, I haven't met everyone yet.
One of the riders comes up to me an introduces himself. Asked if I had ever ridden with them. I said no. He said OK. Off we go.
Immediately out of the parking lot, we turn right. So far so good. We're all keeping pace with each other, "this is good" I remember thinking. Then I find myself in the back of the pack. "Being in this position has to have some sort of responsibility" I thought. "Do I need to warn the pack when there's a car coming?" Well, I thought I would catch up to the bunch and then ask. HA! catch up, famous last words.
Things were going okay, felt good about myself for the next 15 or so...feet. Then a hill. The first of what seemed a thousand hills. And I was dust. Didn't get much better after that.
I quickly realized that I was with the wrong group. I am sure at this point they were asking themselves: "who is that new guy, and what is he doing here?"
You see, as far as experience and ability levels I was here (image me pointing to the floor) and they are here (imagine me pointing my hand three feet over my head). Two of the riders, felt compelled to stay back and keep pushing me. For this I was thankful. Well, I was thankful mostly because if they hadn't I would have been lost. Really, really lost. I had no idea where we were, how we got there, or where we were going. Nothing looked familiar.
At around mile 15 we stopped for a break. Thank goodness. I remember thinking. We must be half way through our course. Wishful thinking. Off we go, I would try to keep up. Really I did, I tried to keep up, for about half a block, give or take half a block.
One of the riders keeping up with me, or rather staying back to keep track of me, mentioned that I should really practice my hills. Duh! what gave it up? But I didn't say that. I just agreed, because I now know I have to. He was nice to me and wanted to keep my spirits up. I didn't want to come off like a weenie, but I really wanted to ask how far this ride was. I did anyway. He said: "48 miles". Just about knocked me off my bike. I looked at my gps and we had only gone 29 miles at that point. He must have seen the shocked looked on my face because he reassured me that I would be alright. Define "alright".
We finally reached an area that I recognized and from here on out I knew how to get back to my car, or get Monica to come and get me. I told my two new found friends that if they wanted to go on ahead, they could, I was okay, I now knew my way. Now it was my turn to see his expression, relief would be a good way to put it. "you sure" he asked. "Yeap" I said. Off they went.
The last several miles of this ride were my most enjoyable. Mostly because up until now I felt like I had been a burden to these nice people. I don't like being a burden. I rode at my pace, I went up, yet another hill or two, at my own pace, not trying to keep up.
When it was all said and done, the ride was 43.2 miles and it took me 3 hours and 26 minutes. Would I do it again. Yes I would, but with one exception. I would it either do it alone, or with a group at my level. That would be hard to find. So I guess alone it is.
I've got my work cut out for me. I know what I lack, I know what I need to do.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

And after vacation...

It has been almost a month since my last post. A lot has been going on in that time; lots of swimming, lots of miles on my bike - which by the way include my first wipe out! Fortunately for me, it happened just as I was taking off the other morning. Didn't get enough of a push and while I clipped the shoe to the pedal... pow! lost my balance, hit the pavement. My first and only thought at that time was; "oh my, hope the neighbors weren't watching, and laughing"... and a little bit of running. Took a week's vacation last week, literally a vacation in which I traveled with the family to the land of Mickey and Shamu. No training during that period. This week, I am making up; two a days since Monday. Early in the morning - weight training or bike riding, late afternoon swimming or running. We'll see the payoff this Saturday. Plan to do a long ride 30-40 miles followed by 3-5 miles running. Crazy? We'll see. The great thing is that this week I feel like a million bucks! A little soreness in the back, but heck, what's new?!