Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lake Padden Triathlon Race Report

This is going to be a two-part piece as I competed in the morning competitive division and also the run leg of a relay in the afternoon recreation race.  Firstly, I want to say "Hats Off' to Lance Romo, the race director, and all the the volunteers.  This was by far the smoothest local race I've competed in.  The fan support and small-town vibe let me focus on my best-executed race to date.  Let's just get into the thick of it already.

Overall 1:47:51  18th Place

Swim 800 meters-12:09 (1:31/100m) 47th
Being a small venue, the swim started in self-selected waves of 50 participants.  I knew I couldn't really hang with the top guns on the swim, so I opted for a later wave.  I used the facilities one last time and migrated down to the crowd funneling towards the water.  My lack of haste put me in the 4th wave.  The first 200 meters was somewhat chaotic as it seemed everyone on my sides wanted to swim on top of me.  I threw in a couple of hard bursts to get out of there.  After the turn-around I got into a good rhythm and found myself passing people from the previous waves.  I knew this because they were treading water.  A quick run up the grassy hill and it was go time.

T-1 1:03  9th
Prior to the start a spectator gave me a couple of rubber bands to hold up the heels on my pre-clipped bike shoes.  It probably saved me 10 seconds.  I did a flying mount for the first time and I was off.

Bike 21 miles - 1:00:15 (21mph) 23rd
This course is beautiful but challenging for the distance.  It starts and finishes with climb.  There's also one leaving Lake Samish right in the middle.  I've ridden this course a few times, so I knew what to expect on the hills.  I stayed aero on the flats and spun an average 100rpm cadence.  Even on the hills I hovered around 90.  I burn out quickly when I mash a hard gear because my legs aren't super strong but I can spin fast so that helps.  A couple weeks ago I lowered my handlebars to make a smaller wind target but didn't put in a lot of time in the saddle for my body to adjust.  I felt my lower back tightening up on the rolling hills heading West but it went away or I ignored it on the flat going back to the Lake.  At that point I thought I could make it under an hour but I wanted to run hard so I didn't push it.  Next year it's getting crushed.

T-2 1:04  84th
I'd never worn these shoes w/o socks before.  They say don't try anything new on race day. 
Dang socks.

Run 5.2 miles - 33:20 (6:24min/mi) 14th 
I left transition hard and didn't let up until the finish.  The course is 2 loops around the lake. The first 1.5 miles on the south lakeside of the 2.6 mile loop is hilly then it's flat coming back around to the start/finish.  I am the most proud of this part of the race.  I've been working hard on the run lately and it really paid off.  Below I highlighted the flat parts of the race.  I knew there was only a mile to go so I jumped on the pain train, kept my shoulders down and pulled every last drop out of my legs.  It hurt, bad, but it also felt great to finish strong. 

It should say Comp: 2 laps, Rec: 1 lap

As I said before, this is a two part report.  I met up with a couple of guys who also competed earlier, well one did, the other thought the races were the next day.  At least he remembered in time for the recreational race.  Tom swam the 1/4 mile and Jon biked the 10 miles before I got the timing chip.  My goal was to run another sub-17 minute lap but within 1/8 mile my stomach rebelled.  I could maintain 6:45 min/mi but anything faster and the bouncing really cut into my side.  I realized later it was probably the one hard-boiled egg white I had in between races.  It was still fun to be part of a team.  Also we were the first relay team to finish and fifth overall, so not a bad shot in my book. 

Now on to the next challenge.  Probably Ocean Shores 70.3 July 13.  Since I must have slightly rolled my ankle, it's time to jump back in the saddle.  With Summer finally here, I'm thinking some new bike rides are in order.  Mount Baker, I'll see you soon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

PR and Lake Padden

For those who don't know, PR stands for personal record.  I still use Strava as a training and motivational tool for my many of my workouts.  When planning a bike ride or run, I like to use certain loops and segments as fitness tests within the workout.  After downloading my watch data to Garmin Connect and Strava, I can analyze my effort on two platforms.  Both have unique positive characteristics.  For example, Connect has a calender of uploaded activities and planned workouts.  Strava has a network of running and biking segments where I can compare the day to my previous times and against others on a leader board.  Since I do most of my workouts solo, it brings out the competitor in me on days when I need that external motivation. 

Another aspect about Strava is the challenges section they offer.  I'll talk about the most recent which was called 10k Any Way.  The challenge was to run your fastest 10k (6.2 miles) and upload it to a leader board and see where you stack up.  The minimum distance was 10k but if you ran further, they would take your average time/kilometer.  In fact three ran fast enough half-marathons to get on the top 10.  In all 14,283 people from around the world ran at least 10k in one day.  I happened to be the 99th fastest of them.  This was me putting the hammer down and hoping for the best.  I planned to PR since it's been two years since my last stand alone 10k but landing in the top 100 was something I didn't expect.  It's the exact motivation I was hoping for, a week before this Saturday's triathlon.

Oh did I mention a triathlon?  That's right folks, my first of the season and right in my backyard.  Lake Padden, Bellingham, WA.  It's gonna be a blast because Amanda and Chad are coming up to race too.  I have to give big credit to Amanda for how I've come to this point.  We ran XC together in high school and when I got back from Europe, she was leading track workouts for West Sound Tri Club.  After just a few nights of being around triathletes, hearing their stories, I knew I had to give it a shot.  Thanks Amanda for the introduction!

This Saturday's morning race starts with a 800m swim, a 21 mile bike and 5.2 mile run.  The bike leg will be a challenge for people who have neglected hills because there are 2 climbs that are nothing to laugh at.  The run leg is two loops around the lake.  There is also a recreational race starting in the afternoon.  It's more or less half the distance.  Somehow I got wrangled into doing the run leg as part of a relay.  Our name is Team Second Wind, because all three of us are doing the competitive in the morning.  I'm curious how well I am going to run after giving it all in the morning.  Like Lance Romo, the race director, said to me this morning,"It is only one lap."  With some downtime and lots of recovery fruit, I'm sure I can hold my weight for another 18 minutes.
It should say Comp: 2 laps, Rec: 1 lap
With all that being said, I'm excited to kick off the season and some.  I've been feeling strong, even though finals and landscaping has really cut into my training time.  There is less than a month before Ocean Shores 70.3.  I get a little anxious thinking about my lack of consistency but I'm hoping the century training will let me ramp it up here for the next two weeks.  One week of tapering should be just about right to dial everything in.  On that note, I'm off to the pool.  Catch ya next week with a race report.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

It's All About Your Perspective

It's funny how we as Western humans tend to focus on the negative.  The local news is filled with up-to-date segments on the bad happenings in the area and anyone can spend hours watching "Fail" videos on Youtube.  It's no wonder that I was feeling down about my lack of training the last few days.  For one thing, it is not at all in tune with my "70.3 Plan" and that is always a concern because it's planned out with specific purposes.  But then again, I don't have a typical nine to five job and listening to the body is important.  So after a look into my training log, I realized I didn't hit the trails or jump on the bike because my back and legs were asking for a break.  Well that and I've been putting in 6-9 hours of landscaping in everyday for two weeks.  Back to the point, I'm slowly bringing the bike back on-line after a major break.  That century training really made me miss running.  Here's a photo breakdown of what I've been up to since my last post.

May 30 Thursday
The original plan was to ride the Padden Triathlon course but after a dropped chain on the hill coming into Fairhaven, the wind left my sails.  I just cruised on home past Boulevard Park in the late afternoon sun.

 May 31 Friday
The swim was uneventful, really just going through motions there.  On the run I wanted to explore some of the outlying trails at Lake Padden.  I was not disappointed.  I'm putting this area on my top lists in the area.  Soft trails, mud pits and silence make for a lovely time.

June 1 Saturday
I called this 14 Herons because that is exactly what I saw during the section where I turned north on Lummi Point.  Most were standing around but a few must have been disturbed by me and made long swooping arcs away over the water.  They are quite graceful birds.  Then I dropped my chain and I was pissed but also bonking.  I was not a happy camper when I walked in the door.  Reminder: don't bonk on any ride, nonetheless 30 miles.

Jun 2 Sunday
Since I always find my HR hovering in Zone 3, I thought I should work on my pure aerobic system while building a stronger foundation in my legs.  Prior to the run I was dreading this long, slow run w/o music but it allowed me to focus on my breathing and form.  I usually up my effort on hills but this time I made a conscious effort to keep the HR low. 

June 3 Monday
This was the first time I swam with anyone all year and it goes to show that it should happen more often.  I saw a post on FB Bellingham Tri Club and thought it a good chance to meet some new folk.  I love open-water swimming.  There are no excuses to quit when in the middle of a lake and I have no discipline in the pool by myself.

June 4 Tuesday
I was craving a test on my climbing ability so I rode over the campus and did three laps up to through the arboretum.  First lap was in the lowest gear and I stayed seated throughout.  Second lap was lowest gear but I stood up on some of the steeper spots.  Third lap was in second gear and shifting up/down when necessary.  No HR but I was breathing hard on every lap.

June 5 Wednesday
This was by far the most fun I've had running.  Fitting for National Running Day.  No shirt or HR monitor, split-shorts and cool temps in the shade of the trees.  See that big hill in the middle.  It was tough and I loved every minute of it.   I was even able to knock some quick miles out afterwards too.

 June 9 Sunday
I really wanted to do a long ride the day before but after shoveling dirt most of the day, all I could think about was food and resting my back.  So this morning I squeezed this in before another day of back-breaking(stengthening?) work.

Overall I am happy with my progress the past few months.  I'm chocking it up to the fruits, veggies, and stretching.  Even with all the landscaping, I've been able to keep inflammation in check.  Self-massage and hearty doses of vitamins help me put in work w/o getting burned out.  It's a feather-light balance of too little and too much.  The key is listening to the body and pushing it when it is able but backing off at other times.  It is difficult to describe the relationship between mind and body and expect others to understand because we all have our own way of communicating.  What I'm trying to say is, focus on how you feel, quiet your mind and tune into the unspoken language of your personal energies.  Too often we are distracted by external forces and fail to see the signs of over-training.  So, have some tea, sit on the ground and chat with your body.  You may learn something.