Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hottest June on Record

After today, OKC will have recorded the hottest June on record.  Yep, it's been a scorcher.  We have officially logged all 30 days with high temperatures 90 or above.  Ten of those days also broke 100 with 106 being the highest temp recorded during the month.  Needless to say, it's been pretty brutal training.  Luckily, I had a week hiatus in Colorado and enjoyed a nice, cool week of mountain air.  I'd give just about anything to go back there right now.  The forecast looks like more of the same.  Basically we're stuck in a drought with a massive heat dome overhead.  I think the icing on the cake is the wind though.  The wind has been brutal.  It's like someone blowing a hair dryer in your face at 30mph every day.  Finally the last day or two it's eased up a bit, but we'll be back to the 20+mph winds for the weekend and beyond.  It's definitely made training a challenge.

As far as training goes, I think the injury bug has finally caught up with me.  I've been struggling with a lower calf/Achilles issue since Kansas 70.3 on June 12th.  I thought the week off in Colorado would help, but the hiking, climbing stairs, and just general activity didn't seem to do me any favors.   I wasn't able to fully rest it and now that I'm back in OKC I've been trying to be as kind to it as possible.  I've been doing hot/cold treatments, light stretching, foam roller, and anything else I can think of to try and nurse it back to health.  I've also stopped running completely and am focusing on the other two disciplines.  Unfortunately, biking also tends to make it flare up so I've had to be cautious about where and how much I ride.  Last weekend I got in 4 hours of riding, but the last 30 minutes or so were uncomfortable due to tightness/pain in my Achilles.  Hills definitely tend to aggravate it so I've been trying to be cautious of spinning up hills and avoiding them if possible.  I know I need hill work for Louisville's course, but competing at close to full health is more of a priority at this point.  Thankfully it's not getting worse, but unfortunately it's not getting much better either.  I have been able to get in a few extra swims and have been logging some time on the elliptical to help maintain some run fitness.  Basically at this point I'm going to try to survive and advance the next 8 weeks.  I know I still have time to get ready for Louisville so I'll do the best I can to minimize the impacts on training.  The good news is I'm keeping a pretty positive outlook on the whole scenario.  I know I'll find a way to make it work.  I always do.  I just hope the body cooperates and plays along with my plans. 

Nothing else really going on at the moment.  I'm definitely looking forward to a long weekend.  I'll plan on getting in a ride on Saturday and then will take Sunday/Monday off to enjoy time with family and friends.  My hope is that I'll be poolside on Sunday and spending Monday with my folks.  Unfortunately we are in a burn ban currently so it looks like we'll have to forgo fireworks this year.  Dang La Nina and your drought-inducing pattern!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kansas Review - Long Overdue

Well, it appears I decided to take a 2 week hiatus from blogging.  I apologize for the long absence, but vacation and then catching up at home has consumed my time.  Here is a long overdue review of Ironman 70.3 Kansas.

Kansas, like many Ironman events, is a Sunday morning race so travel to the event is pretty flexible.  I decided to travel up to Lawrence on Friday to settle into my hotel room, check-in at the race site, and give my legs/hips a chance to loosen up after the drive.  Lawrence is about a 5.5 hour drive from Oklahoma City, manageable, but not enjoyable.  I got into Lawrence about 2 PM so I checked in at the hotel and then headed out to the race site to check in and do some shopping.  The "expo" area is out at Clinton Lake State Park and is an outdoor expo.  The expo is actually nothing more than athlete check-in, the Ironman store, and a few sponsor tents.  If you need to do some shopping for gear, I'd recommend heading into town to one of the cycling shops or plan on having everything you need before you arrive.  Athlete check-in was pretty seemless on Friday afternoon which was what I expected.  We received a Kansas 70.3 sling backpack, a white Kansas 70.3 tech shirt, and some sample products.  Nothing out of the ordinary but it's always nice to get a free training shirt.  After check-in I meandered through the Ironman store and bought an event shirt and a visor.  I passed on anything else, because my budget is pretty strapped right now.  I did like the bike jerseys though.  Friday night was pretty relaxing.  I ordered some pasta from a local Italian joint and relaxed in my hotel room.  I tried to go to bed early, but my mind was pretty occupied with the weather forecast and making contingency plans if the forecast panned out.  The forecast called for an 80% chance of thunderstorms so I was really concerned the race would be shortened and/or canceled.  Thankfully the forecast proved wrong and the weather turned out pretty decent on race day.  On Saturday I took my time getting out of bed.  I got some coffee, poked around the room, and then went for a quick 30 minute bike ride on the trail system in Lawrence before taking my bike out to T1.  One note for all of you planning on doing Kansas in the future, T1 and T2 are separate areas which are about a 1/2 mile apart.  It's not a bad thing, just something to make a mental note about when you are packing your race bags, planning on post-event gear pick-up, and setting up your transition areas.  Also, the parking area for participants is about a 1/4 mile from T2 and the finish area so you have to walk or ride your bike down to T1 when you are checking your bike in on Saturday.  After setting up my bike and covering my bottles, handlebars, and seat with plastic bags to shield from the predicted storms, I headed back to the hotel to try to get some rest.  Saturday night's sleep, if you can call it that, was pretty brief.  I had an awful time trying to go to bed and woke up at 3:15 to get going for the race.  When I woke up on Sunday, the radar showed a line of storms moving towards Lawrence, but thankfully the complex fell apart as it moved closer and the race started on-time and without a hitch.  Someone above was smiling down on the sport of triathlon that morning.

As you all know, the swim is my weakness in the sport of triathlon.   I went in with a loose goal of 45 minute swim and I ended up coming out of the water just under 45 minutes.  I did think I could swim a faster time, and given the conditions, I think I do have a faster swim in me.  The swim is a deep water start.  You make your way into the water from the loading docks and tread water for a few minutes before the gun sounds.  I placed myself towards the back of the pack because I'm not a big fan of fighting with the good swimmers at the start.  The first part of the swim was pretty uneventful.  After we swam for about 5-10 minutes, we made our way out of the cove and hit the open part of the lake.  It was unbelievably choppy.  The buoys were being blown off course and most swimmers were being blown off course.  I know I felt like I had to swim at an angle to swim straight.  It made for a pretty tough swim because it felt like you were fighting the wind/waves to stay in position.  I also got caught by a few of the faster swimmers from the wave behind me and they were pretty aggressive.  A couple of guys swam over me and I made sure they got a quick kick from me in the process.  It makes me mad when people purposely swim over you.  When I come up on a swimmer, I always go around.  It never crosses my mind to just swim over the top of someone.  After fighting the wind/waves/misplaced buoys, I made my way out of the water.  Note to self and anyone else racing in the future, be cautious at the ramp out of the water.  It's very rocky and can cause some issues getting out. 

T1 is pretty tight due to the location.  When you have athletes in the area changing out of wetsuits and putting on their cycling gear it can get pretty congested.  You really have to be conscious of where you are running with your bike.  I had a decent transition, but nothing great.  I highly recommend using your morning clothes bag and stuffing all of your gear into it before you leave T1.  The race crew will transport your gear back to T2 if you put it in the gear bag.  It saved me a walk back to T1 after the race and I was very, very happy I didn't have to make that trek post-race.  It probably cost me 30 seconds or so, but it was well worth it!  I had a few issues getting on my bike (odd, because that doesn't usually happen), but I'll chalk it up to the loopy feeling you have coming out of the water.  It took me a few miles to shake off the swim-head.

The bike course in Kansas is a one loop course through the countryside.  Most of the roads were in good condition and open to vehicular traffic.  I started the bike with the goal of 3 hours and 15 minutes.  I wanted to keep my cadence at 90 rpm at all times and try to keep my legs semi-fresh for the run.  I knew going in my run would be my strength so I just needed to not screw it up on the bike.  Kansas is a rolling hill course with very few flat stretches.  I was constantly shifting and coming in and out of aero position.  None of the hills were daunting and required me to come out of the saddle so I think this course was a great prep for Louisville.  My bike stayed pretty steady and consistent throughout the ride and I generally didn't get passed by other riders.  I think this was primarily due to the fact we were one of the last swim waves, but it was still nice to not get blown off the course.   As far as race conditions, there was a south wind of 15-20mph which is nothing new for me.  I heard quite a few people complaining about the wind post-race, but 15mph winds are a good day in Oklahoma.  I know I cuss the wind a lot in my training, but it really does prepare me well for windy conditions on race day.  Vehicular traffic was a concern on several occasions which I thought was odd.  There were several times when we had to pass cars on downhills so we wouldn't lose momentum.  There was also an instance where a triathlete and a guy driving a truck got into a yelling match over something.  All I saw were wild gestures by both.  I made sure to stay back and give them plenty of room to work out their problems.  I don't really understand why people choose to drive on a road littered with cyclists, but I'm sure they ask the same question about why we block their roads.  The bike ended up going pretty well for me.  I came out of the bike portion of the course about 11 minutes ahead of schedule and I felt really good coming off the bike.  I will have to say that I got kind of bored on the bike.  I was definitely ready for a change of pace when I hit T2.  I'll have to work on my focus and keeping my mind occupied on my long rides the next 2 months. 

T2 was quick and seamless for me. Nothing special to note here.  The racks are pretty spread out and I felt like I had plenty of room for all my gear.  My achilles was starting to show some signs of wear at this point which was of some concern, but I was pretty sure I could make it through the run without too much of an issue.

The run was a 2-loop course through the campground area surrounding the lake.  It's a winding course with only one short hill that you hit twice on the run.  The rest of the run was flat and there were a few areas of shade, but not much.  My only complaint on the run course was that I had to get 3 miles into the run before there was a port-a-potty available.  I had to pee really, really bad coming off the bike so the first few miles were pretty interesting.  My goal going into the run was 1 hour and 50 minutes.  I ended up finishing in 1:48:59.  I was very, very happy with my run.  I felt really strong coming off the bike and the first few miles I had my usual struggle with keeping my pace in check.  The aid stations were well-spaced and the volunteers were great in calling out what they were offering.  I did a great job of keeping my miles in the 8:00 to 8:20 range until I hit the hill for the second time.  Coming out of the hill at mile 9/10 definitely cooked my legs.  My mile splits for the last 3 miles were closer to 8:45 and I definitely felt like I was working a lot harder.  The best part of the run for me was counting all of the people I was passing.  I only got passed by a few people the entire run and I was constantly making up ground.  I knew my run would help my spot in the overall rankings, but I didn't realize I'd gain over 150 spots on the run.  All in all, the run course was fun, but I'd recommend an earlier bathroom break for athletes and more music.  I liked hitting the sections of the course where campers were blaring music and cheering on the athletes.

The finishing chute wasn't anything too crazy, but seeing the finish line is always a welcome relief after a long day on the course.  I ended up finishing in 5:44:25 which was much better than I expected and I was ecstatic for my first 70.3 finish.  The best part of the day was getting my medal from Chrissie Wellington.  She's such a tremendous athlete and ambassador of the sport.  It was an honor to briefly meet her and share my sense of accomplishment with her.   After my medal, I made my way to get some fluids/food and received a nice finisher's hat.  I made my way directly to the ice bath/massage area and enjoyed cooling off in a tub full of ice.  It never felt so good to submerge myself in ice cold water.  The post-race nutrition left a lot to be desired, but I did appreciate the free BBQ sandwich and drinks.  I would have preferred something different, but food is food when you are starving.

Overall I was extremely happy with my first 70.3 experience.  I ended up putting together a race that exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed racing this distance.  I definitely see myself doing several more of these races in the future.  I felt the training load leading up to this race was very manageable and is something that I'll introduce into my rotation as I progress as an endurance athlete.  I know have a lot of room for improvement on the swim and bike so I'm excited to see how much I can improve.  I would definitely recommend this race to those of you looking for a June 70.3 race.  Although it was my first 70.3, I feel like having Chrissie Wellington return 3 years in a row is a pretty good indication of the quality of this race.  If she keeps coming back, it must be a race worthy of consideration.  Now it's time to turn my focus to Louisville and try to survive the next 2 months.  I gained even more confidence in my fitness level at this race and can't wait to see where this crazy world of endurance sports takes me.  Endurance sports are hard to explain to people who haven't participated in them.  All I know is that I'm happier, healthier, and more confident than I have ever been in my 29 years of life.  To me, the hours of training are worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears I put into it. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Back in Oklahoma

Well, I'm back in Oklahoma.  I can't say I'm thrilled to return to the 100+ degree temps and 30+mph winds, but it is home.  I don't have much time to write tonight, but I did want to update a bit.

Vacation was nearly perfect.  I had such a great time hanging out with my family and disconnecting from the world.  It was nice to not worry about training, work, and other commitments for a few days.   I did do a couple of short workouts while I was in Colorado, but I mainly just enjoyed the time off and spent time with my family.  The weather was nearly perfect.  Highs were in the 60s and low 70s.  The wind was a little gustier than usual, but nothing compared to Oklahoma standards.  The snow melt was intense with swollen rivers and closed roads so the outdoor activities were a little hampered, but the snow melt did make for some awesome waterfalls throughout the backcountry.  I spent a day on the ATVs with my Dad and spent most of the rest of the time hanging out in town or at the cabin.  I absolutely love Colorado and could definitely see myself living there in the future.

On the training front, I'm back at it tomorrow.  It will be time to see if the Achilles has been given enough rest.  It's really started to bother me the past week or so and I'm hoping the extended rest after Kansas will bring me closer to normal.  I guess I'll find out soon enough.  I'm now under 10 weeks until the big day so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to make it through without too many injury hiccups.  I'm now touching mileage I've never touched before on the bike and swim so it's all unknown at this point.

I have to sign off for now.  I'll try to write a full review of Kansas at some point this week.  Run happy friends.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ironman 70.3 Kansas - Quick Review

First off all, I want to say thanks to Jeff over at for the encouraging comments this week.  The support from my blog, Twitter, and Facebook made it almost like I had a virtual cheering section on the course today.  Knowing that people were keeping tabs on me while I was out on the course pushed me to keep going.

I'm about to head to bed so I won't write a full report, but I do want to say that I had a great time out on the course today.  Overall I'm very happy with results and can't really fathom a better day for my first 70.3 race.  I ended up performing better than expected due to a strong day on the bike and run.  My swim was right at 45 minutes in a very tough, choppy lake so I'm happy there.  My bike came in quite a bit stronger than I expected and my legs felt fresh coming out of T2 so I knew I had a good run ahead of me.  I ended up gaining 154 spots in the overall rankings on the run.  I was passing people the entire run and am really, really happy with my effort.  My legs felt great for the first 8 miles and then fatigue started to set in.  The last 3 or 4 miles were pretty tough, but that's when you know you left it all out on the course.  To top it all off, I got my finisher's medal from the one and only Chrissie Wellington after running down the yellow brick road finishing chute.  It was a great way to finish off a memorable day.  Here are the official splits:

Swim - 44:58
T1 - 3:52
Bike - 3:04:37
T2 - 1:59
Run - 1:48:59
Overall finish : 5:44:25

I ended up blowing my expectations out of the water and even beat my "best case scenario" time I had in my head before the race.  I'm very, very happy with my race and now am ready for a week of relaxing with my family in Colorado.  I'll try to post a full report soon, but vacation will be first and foremost.  Thanks again for the support along the way.  We're now 11 weeks to Louisville.  Dream Big.  Work Hard.  Make It Happen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ironman 70.3 Kansas - Preview

Race weekend - all the buzz, the excitement, and the nerves all wrapped up into a nice package called athlete check-in.  One thing I've noticed about triathlon expos, albeit my experience is very limited, is that the lines are so much longer here than at marathon expos.  I've never had to wait in line to get my packet at a marathon and I even went to the big mammoths of NYC and Chicago.  I guess all the extra numbers, bibs, bracelets, waivers, and swag causes a backlog of people.  My initial impression from the check-in and buzz around the city is that this is a big-time event.  I guess it's big by default when you have the greatest female triathlete of our time, maybe ever, racing here.  It will be an honor to race behind Chrissie Wellington and maybe even catch a glimpse of her athletic abilities out on the course.  By my calculations she'll likely be finished by the time I get off the bike, but I'll at least get to see her come out of the water since my wave starts 44 minutes after her start.  Hopefully she'll be sticking around the finishing chute to greet all of us age groupers as we finish up our day.

My weekend in Lawrence started on Friday afternoon.  I pulled into town about 2:30 PM and checked in at the hotel and dropped off my bags.  I basically brought my entire apartment with me on this trip.  Packing for a triathlon followed by a vacation in Colorado is pretty impossible.  I had to pack for the heat and the cold and for training on the road.  I basically could live out of my car for at least a few weeks.  After unloading the car, I headed out to Clinton Lake to check-in and grab my swag at the "expo".  I put that in quotations because all of the check-in and merchandise tents are set up in a camp ground near the lake.  It's a pretty small expo area, but I bought some souvenirs for myself and gawked at all the extremely fit people around me.  It's unreal how fit most of these men and women look at these races.  Lean and mean is definitely the look of the day.  My muffin tops sure are going to stick out on Sunday. 

After the expo, I drove the bike course so I could at least get some sort of feel for what my day would be like.  It's definitely a rolling hill course with almost no flats.   It looks like I'll be shifting quite a bit and trying not to burn out my legs on the ascents.  It's going to be great prep for Louisville and will be a nice gauge of where I'm at in my training.  Friday night consisted of a grocery run to pick up bagels, bananas, and fruit, followed by a to-go pick-up of pasta, chicken, and breadsticks from a local Italian joint.  I spent the rest of my night curled up on my bed listening to music and enjoying some downtime.  Today started easy enough with no alarm and a quick run for Starbucks when I woke up.  I ate some breakfast, iced my knees/Achilles, and headed out for a quick 30 minute ride on my bike to test out my positioning.  I tweaked my aero pads just a bit because on my ride on Thursday it felt like they were slanting out and down so I never felt really secure.  After a slight adjustment, it felt much better on my short ride today and it was off to check in my bike at T1.  The T1 and T2 areas are separate from each other at this race so getting around the race site isn't quite as easy as my other races I've done.  I'll have to make sure to be diligent about setting up both of my transitions in the morning so I don't forget anything.

Here's the real kicker for this weekend though.  Rain, rain, and more rain.  Unfortunately it looks like tomorrow is going to be pretty dicey.  The weather forecast is looking pretty grim for a timely start or even racing at all.  Today (Saturday) was absolutely perfect.  Light winds, temps in the low 80s, low humidity, and sunshine.  Perfect day for a triathlon.  Perfect day for bike check-in at this race though.  The buzz around the transition area was obviously the forecast for storms.  Transition was littered with bikes shrouded in plastic bags to cover the seats and handlebars.  Athletes talked about what they had heard from race officials and speculation was rampant on how long they'd delay the start before completely calling off the race.  This added element of uncertainty really has helped calm my nerves.  I'm not as fidgety as I was earlier in the week and I'm at peace with my readiness for this race.  I'm going into tomorrow with a focused mind, willing heart, and what feels like is just the right combination of training/taper to have a successful day.  The bags are packed, the race gear is laid out, and my feet are propped up, snugly tucked into my compression socks.  All I can do now is try to sleep and see what Mother Nature has in store for tomorrow.  The only thing I can control at this point is my attitude.  Tomorrow will be a good day.

As far as expectations, I'm going in with a few loose goals in mind.  I haven't nailed down anything concrete because I really don't know how the body will react at this distance.  My long brick days have been decent and I feel like my swim is stronger than last year.  However, I've never put it all together on one day so there's a lot of unknown for me at this distance.  Will my nutrition plan work?  Will my run suffer because of my bike?  Will my bike be strong enough to hit my goal?  Was my swim at Route 66 legit?  Due to my lack of racing in triathlon, I have a lot of questions still.  Until I race more, I think it's going to be really hard to nail down a time.  Here are my loose goals as of this evening:

Swim - 45 minutes (based on Route 66 I could go under 40 on a good day)
Bike - 3 hours 15 minutes (all my rides were windy in OK so I went conservative b/c I don't know)
Run - 1 hour 50 minutes (the biggest factor will be how the bike treats my legs and if I pace properly)
Transitions - 10 minutes total (I'm notoriously slow at transitions)
Total Time - 6 hours

I'll obviously be happy with any time tomorrow as long as I cross the finish line.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some good weather, fresh legs, and cooperative digestive system.  I'll see you guys tomorrow night after I soak it all in.  Run happy friends.  Don't forget to send some good vibes my way tomorrow.  Track me live at :  Bib #955, Last Name : Sloan

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Final Tune-up

You know that feeling you get when you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands and you have an important event coming up soon?  The glances at the clock, the tapping of the foot, the restlessness, the boredom, the impatience.  That pretty much sums up most of this last week/weekend.  I'm ready for Kansas.  I'm ready for my first half-Ironman.  I'm ready to keep training.  The last few days I've backed off on my training volume to nurse a sore Achilles and taper for Kansas and it's been driving me mad.  It's sad that I don't know what to do with myself when I'm not training.  Most of my friends assume I'm training all weekend so the calls to go do stuff are pretty limited.  I'm also trying to save money so I've been trying to not eat out or blow money on stuff I don't really need.  My level of boredom stooped to a new low and I went to a movie on Friday night.  I'm not a movie guy so the fact I went to the theater is a pretty good indication I'm bored.  I'm guessing the week ahead isn't going to be much different.  I'm heading out for Lawrence on Friday.  I'm hoping work goes smoothly and I can head out without too many issues looming.  It never seems to work that way, but I'm keeping my hopes up.

Amidst the training break, I did manage to get in my first aquabike race this morning.  It was a perfect distraction from the taper madness and allowed me to test out my open water swim and bike nutrition again.  The race started at 7:30AM so it was a pretty early wake-up call to get out to El Reno by 6AM to set up transition before it closed.  My triathlon experience is very limited (I've still only done 1 triathlon) so I wanted to get out there early enough to make sure I had enough time to get everything set up and feel good about my race.  The weather turned out awesome for this morning's race too.  Light winds, temps in the 70s at the start, and sunshine.  The water in the lake was just barely wetsuit legal so I opted to wear mine because it looks like Kansas will be right on the cusp of being legal too.  There weren't any wave starts for this race because only about 200 people competed, but the swim was surprisingly physical.  I got hit a lot more than I did in Austin for my first triathlon and felt like my first loop was pretty lackluster.  When I hit the beach to run for my 2nd loop I noticed I had gotten out of the first 750 meters in under 15 minutes.  I was shocked.  That's really fast for me.  The 2nd loop was much easier on the swim stroke and I settled into a nice rhythm.  I only got hit once or twice and easily brushed aside the contact without upsetting my rhythm.  I ended up coming out of the water in 28:48!  I'm highly suspicious of this time though.  I don't think I should be swimming 1500 meters in under 30 minutes.  I'm guessing the course was short.  I'll only believe that swim time if I somehow replicate that next weekend in Kansas.  If I come out in under 40 minutes I'll know I've made a ton of improvement in my swim.

The bike leg for me wasn't anything special.  I've had an abnormal amount of soreness in my legs after my Wednesday weight session followed by an hour ride.  I've learned my lesson there.  I'm not doing that again.  I'm still sore believe it or not.  I'm hoping that I'll get this soreness flushed out this week.  It's like I ran a marathon or something.  Crazy sore.  Due to the soreness, it really took me a while to open my legs up and and I still don't feel that I rode as strong as I should have given the fact I didn't have a run on the horizon.  I finished the bike leg in about 1 hour and 14 minutes for about a 20mph average.  Fair, but I think I could have done better on fresh legs.  Regardless, I came in for my dismount and my coach told me I was the 3rd aquabiker to come in which was pretty cool.  I ended up winning my age group and came in 3rd overall.  All the really stud triathletes were actually competing in the triathlon so my competition wasn't too thick.  It's still nice to walk away with some hardware.  Given my finishing time of 1:46, I guesstimate my time for the Olympic distance triathlon would have been about 2:36 or so based on a 50 minute 10K.  On a good day, my run would be stronger, but my legs wouldn't have let me do that today.  The only reason I tell you this time is because it really shows my progress in triathlon.  Last year I logged a time of 2:55 at the CapTex Triathlon in Austin, Texas.  Once again it's great to see the work paying off in races.  I feel like I'll keep improving too.  I'm hungry to get better.  I'm still a newbie at all of this and I think the only way to go is up.

So, now it's the countdown to my 2nd triathlon.  Six days from now I'll be toeing the line for the Kansas 70.3 race on Sunday morning at 7:14 AM.  Here is my info for those of you who want to track my progress next weekend:

Bib : 955
Swim wave #13 - 7:14 AM Start - There should be a red box in the middle of the page for Kansas 70.3 and a link for Athlete Tracker.  Click the link and then enter my bib number or last name to see how I'm doing.

I'll be traveling solo for this race so I'd appreciate all the good race vibes you can send my way next weekend.  It'll be my first big race without anyone with me so I'll draw on the fact knowing that my family and friends will be thinking of me during that time.  I'll also wear my bracelet in honor of Mitch Whitaker to remind me to overcome the pain and embrace the moment :  Keep Fighting.  Dream Big.  Work Hard.  Make It Happen.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Route 66 Splash and Dash

After a great Memorial Day weekend, I started my work week with a Tuesday night race out in El Reno, OK.  It was the state's first officially sanctioned aquathlon and served as a warm-up to this weekend's Route 66 triathlons.  I really needed to get in an open water swim so this was a perfect excuse to get out and swim with a group.  I would say there were about 60 people total at this race so not too bad of a turnout for a Tuesday evening event.  The race consisted of a 500 meter swim in Lake El Reno followed by a 2 mile run on the roads near the boat docks.  Water temps were about 70 degrees so it was wetsuit legal and I say about half of the people wore wetsuits and half did not.  I opted for a wetsuit swim because Kansas 70.3 will likely be wetsuit legal next weekend.  I needed to make sure the wetsuit fit still and it was nice to remember how it felt to be so buoyant and "fast".  Swimming is so much easier when you have 5mm rubber all over your body! 

The race for me was really good actually.  My swim was surprisingly smooth and a bit faster than I expected.  I ended up getting out of the water in 9:23 which brought me in 18th overall.  I was pretty pleased considering how average my swim is most of the time.  Transition was basically just having someone rip my wetsuit off me and then putting on my run shoes.  In and out pretty quickly and it was off to the races.  My run started off a little sluggish as I shook off the swimming uneasiness.  I always come out of the water a bit disoriented so it takes me a little while to get my bearings back.  After about 1/4 of a mile all was well and it was time to run.  My legs felt great and I knew 2 miles would be over pretty quickly so I let myself run a fast pace for myself.  I passed 7 people on the run and ended up logging the 11th best run of the night.  I was very happy with my run and still believe it will be my "strength" in triathlon if I don't sabotage myself on the swim or bike.  Best of all, I ended up placing 3rd in my age group for my first ever age group award!  I've never placed at a race before this week.  I guess I need to either get faster or start going to more of these small events to get some hardware.  I took home a cool license plate and put it in my office at work for display.  The best part is I beat a guy who normally places ahead of me in races.   He may have not considered this a race, but I did and it was cool to finally finish before him.  I'm still very happy to see my progress at races.  I feel like I'm getting faster all the time and the hard work is paying dividends when it counts. 

Sunday will be my first aquabike event and I'm really looking forward to it now.  At first I was a little indifferent, but now it's something I'm excited about doing and hope it goes well for me.  The race starts at 7:30 AM on Sunday so the wind shouldn't be an issue on the swim and the bike should be over before the heat and wind decide to show up in full force.  I know I need the work in the heat, but I won't complain about a little reprieve from time to time.  It's been nasty hot here that last week or so.  Temps in the mid-90s and very high humidity for Oklahoma standards.  It's been good prep for the months ahead. 

Unfortunately I had to take an unplanned rest day today.  My left Achilles is starting to get mad at me so I'm laying off my run for the next few days and will focus on swimming/biking.  I'm hoping a few days off will take care of it before it gets too bad.  Right now it's just achy so nothing too crazy.  I'm trying to prevent that full-on pain from showing up anytime soon.  At this point I'm not gaining anything on my run for Kansas 70.3 so I'll focus on getting healthy.  I'm outta here for now.  Time to finish up laundry so all my race day gear is clean for this weekend.  Run happy friends!