Thursday, November 12, 2015


Yep, 8 months and 4 days after I broke my foot, I broke my big toe.  It was the left foot both times, and it was tripping on the stairs both times.  This one pisses me off, but it's probably not as demoralizing as the March break.

After the Murph, my right knee started giving my troubles.  I probably had it coming, the length of the trail run was asking a lot of my legs (which were not properly trained).  Anyhoo, I was thinking I was going to have to take some time away from running anyway, I just would have liked it to be on my own terms.

The doc told me its 3 or 4 fractures on the top bone of the big toe.  One goes across, one works towards the tip and on works back to the knuckle.  I couldn't see the fourth one.  She said it was lucky that it didn't break into the knuckle. That kind of break may have required a pin.  As is, I'm in the boot again for a few weeks until my followup appointment.  The doc said that normally it wouldn't be necessary to wear the boot, but the way it's broken could lead to a displacement fracture if I'm not careful. Also, I had the boot anyway, it was just a matter of digging it out of storage.

I'm not sure were this will leave me for a marathon in May.  Without complications I think I should be up and running by Christmas.  The doc also said no biking for the time being, so the new bike on the trainer in the basement will have to wait as well (more on that later). Swimming is a go, but we'll have to see if I can work up the motivation.  It's entirely possible I'm looking at a few weeks of empty beers and bags of chips.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Surf the Murph Recap

Surf the Murph
Saturday October 24, 2015
25K / 50K / 50 mile

Last year, I was an idiot to even try this trail run.  I added to a knee injury that would later take me out of running for more than six weeks, and I was coming off (what I would call) a slight concussion.  This year, I didn’t have any health concerns going in, but my training had been less than last year’s.  Going into the run, my long run was only 9.5 miles, my recent monthly totals were only around 45 miles and I had not done a trail run yet this year.  I haven’t ramped up the mileage yet this year; I am trying to take it slow and avoid injury.  My main goals for the near future are a healthy winter, lots of miles, a sub 4.5 hour marathon in May and a 70.3 triathlon in June.  At the Murph, I was hoping to do all three 16.7 mile loops for the total ultra of 50 miles, but that was going to ask of my legs. 

The Friday before the run it rained a lot.  The morning of the trail run it was raining a bit, but no steady showers.  However, the rain had accumulated and trail was quite muddy with a fair amount of standing water.  The 50 mile hopefuls went off at 6:00am; sunrise was not until about 7:30am.  The temp at the start was about 48° with about a 15mph wind.  With the rain, temp and prospective muddy/wet conditions I decided to wear dress warm.  I wore a sleeveless run shirt, a long sleeve compression shirt and a long sleeve loose shirt on top and run tights with shorts on bottom.  I also wore a winter cap and run gloves.  For the dark, I had a head lamp and a handheld flashlight tied to my water belt.  It may have been a bit much, but I was comfortable and have no regrets on clothing (on the first lap).   

The first five plus miles of the run are all hills; some are pretty steep.  Last year, I tried to run all the hills and was burnt up by mile 13.  This year, I walked just about every up hill and was cautious on the downhills.  This was my plan going into the race, the mud and wet just made the plan that much more reasonable. 

It took a mile or two before I could work out a spot for myself.  I wanted to run alone; I didn’t want to hear anyone’s crappy stories that early in the day (or at all for that matter).  After a bit, all the Chatty McListentome runners passed me or fell back, and I was left by myself in the dark.  Running in the dark, in the mud, with a flashlight was a blast.  It was slow moving, but I was having fun.  By the second aid station at 5.5 miles, the rain had stopped and the sun was lighting the way.  The course turns into a reasonable amount of flats after that point as well.  I ditched my long sleeve compression shirt, run gloves, winter hat and head lamp with my drop bag.  I picked up my earmuff headband, a banana, a Slim Jim and I was on my way.  I did the hills in about a 15 minute per mile pace; I was hoping to get back some of that time on the flats. 

The course is flat off and on for next 6 to 7 miles, and then the last third of the loop is somewhere in between the hilly hills of the start and the lesser hills of the flats.  I did this middle part at about a 13 minute per mile pace.  My overall pace dropped below 14 minutes per mile.  After the aid station at the 13 mile mark, I was definitely slowing down.  I wasn’t injured, but I kinda knew I didn’t have the legs to get around the course two more times.  Anyhoo, the last third of the first loop wasn’t too bad.  I wanted to do 4 hour loops, and I ended the first loop at 3:52.  I ended up running with a young lady from North Dakota for the last 2.5 miles, and we chatted on the walks uphill.  It was nice to talk to someone for a bit, and she saved my butt right before mile 16 when I missed a turn.  I lost her at the loop one finish; I would run the second loop by myself.

At the start/finish line I changed into fresh clothes, mostly.  I kept my loose long sleeve, but changed the shirt underneath.  Also, I ditched the run tights and got a fresh pair of shorts.   I did not change my run underpants, idiot.  I know it’s probably a little bit too much info, but there were chafing issues on lap two and it hurt.  Similarly, I got nipple raped by my shirt on the first lap and got to enjoy that for the rest of the day.  I suppose it’s better to find out these problems now instead of in a race where I care about my time, but it still hurt.  Anyhoo, after a change and grabbing some food I was off on lap two.

I knew right away that I wasn’t going to finish three laps.  I was already counting down the minutes to the next marker on mile two.  My legs were tight.  I probably took too long between laps (8-10 minutes) and sat down for too long. When I got going, I felt better, but the first third of the lap doesn’t lend itself nicely to any extended running.  As I went along, the downhills became downright painful.  At least I wasn’t injured like last year; my legs were just tired and my muscles were tight.  I was just asking too much of legs that weren’t properly trained.    See below for how ridiculous the 50K and/or 50 mile distance was compared to my training. The spike in October only includes the Murph and a 5K earlier in the week.

Blue = run miles
Red = Bike miles
Yellow - Swim miles
Only Run Miles

Blue = Run hours
Red = Bike hours
Yellow - Swim hours
Dark Blue = Stationary Bike hours
Black = Weights hours 

I averaged about a 14 minute mile on the first loop and about a 17 minute mile on the second loop.  On the second loop, my time at the aid stations increased, my time running drastically decreased and my pace dried up.  My garmin says that I didn’t break a 10 min per mile pace at any point in the last 8 miles.  Ouch.

The four big blue spikes below are the stops at the start of the second lap and the stops at the first three aid stations on the second lap.  The lesser spikes are the sorter stops on the first lap and at the last aid station of the second lap.  At that point, I just wanted to be done.  There is also a little bump in mile 33 where I had to sit down and stretch because my legs were so tight.

But, I did finish two laps!  33.5 miles isn’t anything to sneeze at, and I am proud to have done it.  My total time was right around 8 hours 45 minutes for about a 15.5 minute per mile pace.  My time put me in 111th place out of about 143 people who finished the 50K.  I would have liked to come in about 45 minutes quicker, but I really can’t complaint based on my “training” and the 3400 ft of elevation gain (and down).  I don’t know if I’ll do this run again next year.  If I do, I should actually train and try to finish the 50 mile.  At this point I hurt, and I have no interest in planning out a year from now. 

This pretty my wraps up my race year.  I had signed up for a 5K at work earlier in the month, but I’ve become disillusioned with my job and blew it off for a longer run at home.  There is a mustache half marathon run in November, but it will probably be cold and I don’t really want to pay for a 13.1 mile run at this point.  I think I’ll try to get in a half in the next couple months, but it will probably just be around the neighborhood.   

Post Script
Many people asked me why I was limping on the Monday following this run.  If I tell them my legs hurt because I went for a run, they assume it's my first run ever and that I am quite feeble. If I tell them the length of the run then they think I'm crazy or bragging.  I think I prefer the former.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Comparison Graphs


So, there is a lot going on in the above graph.  Here are a few things of note.

Reading the Graph
For the swim and run paces, lower points are faster times.  
For the bike speed, higher points are faster times.  
Minnetonka doesn't have a swim, because it was changed to a duathlon due to lightning. 
Clearwater doesn't have a run because Bull and I did it as a relay.  
The times represented for Clearwater are from the individual sprint contestants (larger head count).
The Field and Male averages are basically the same for the swims, so you do not see much of the dashed line after Chaska. 

Outside of my first ever triathlon in Chaska, my swim times are a little faster than the field average, my bike times are at or below the field average and my run times are right at the field average.  I'm always slower than the male average on the bike and on the run, but it's not by too much (sprint). Since there is only a difference of a second or two in the field/male averages for the swim, I'm still a little ahead of the pack.  

The average on a sprint triathlon swim seems to stick right around 2:00/100yds, That doesn't help me too much since those are the short swims. If we assume a constant 2:00/100yds average, it would indicate that Chaska had a swim longer than indicated and Hopkins had a swim shorter than indicated.  That's kind of fun, because that's exactly what I thought of those races.

Olympic Distances
I'm clearly slow on the bike and on the run in the Olympic races.  

On the bike, I'm about 1 mph behind the field and 1.75 mph behind the make average.  I read on the Gear West website the other day that a properly fitted Tri Bike will often translate to a 2 mph increase in speed.  If this isn't just blowing hot air, maybe I can catch up to the average when i upgrade this summer.

On the run, I just need to put in more time on the road.  I tried to get by with two runs a week this summer, but that probably just wasn't enough if I want to be proud of my times (I'm never going to see a podium). Also, my broken foot in the spring probably didn't help when I was trying to build a base.  Hopefully I can get through this winter without and injury.  In the future, I'd like to be right around a 9:00/mile average in the Olympic races, and that would but me right around the field average.

On the swim, I think a 2:00/100 yds average is still a good estimate for the field.  That means Bemidji was wicked short, which is what I suspect.  Also, that makes Marion look a little long, but it's more likely that times were a little slow due to swimming directly into the chop for a third of the course.

Field/Male Comparison
As a math geek, I think the nearly fixed difference between the field and the male averages is pretty cool.  Irrespective of the race distance, it looks like the run has a male average about 20 seconds faster that the field average,  And on sprint bike courses, the male average  is about 0.75 mph faster that the field average (on the Olympic its about 0.5 mph).  There doesn't seem to be an advantage in the swim. 


There isn't a great deal of new information in these graphs.  I have an advantage on the swim, and I'm slow in the other two events. My biking is better than my running. For the most part, I stay in the 40th to 60th percentile for total time when compared to the field, and in the 20th to 40th percentile when compared to male finishers.  I guess that's good enough to say I'm "From the Middle of the Pack".  Also of note,  it appears that my finishing position in the bike appears to predict my finishing placement overall.  I suppose that's probably true for most people.

Compared to the Average

These last two graphs show a comparison to the average as opposed to the percentiles which (more or less) compare to the median.  The scale on these graphs is standard deviations; positive is faster than the average and negative is slower.  Not much new; just a different look.  I guess my biggest surprise on these is how fast my swims are, and how my good swims can partially counteract my terrible runs.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hopkins Royal Traithlon Recap

Hopkins Royal Triathlon 
Shady Oak Beach, Hopkins MN
Saturday, September 5, 2015
0.5 mile/ 15 mile/ 5K

This was the last race of my triathlon season.  I'm on the fence as to if I should consider this summer a fail or a success. As usual, I suppose it's somewhere in the middle.

My wife, Tina, decided to try the mini-sprint at Hopkins (100 yards/ 4.5 miles/ 1.5 miles). Going into this race, we were both mailing it in.  Tina had to skip out on the gym for the last week due to back pain, and I only got in one bike and two swims between Lake Marion and Hopkins (3 weeks). My excuse?  School started and I was just a little burnt out.  If Marion had went better, I may have tried to gear up for this entire race, but as it was I just wanted to get in a good run time. My running has been borderline embarrassing this summer. I've had a 10+ minute per mile pace in each of the last two races.  I suppose there is something to be said about my foot still hurting from when I broke it in March, but I don't think that has help me back too much.  My main goal this time out was to hit a 9 minute per mile pace or better.

Swim (0.5 0.4 miles)
Goal:     Around 1:40 minutes per 100 yards pace
Actual:  Might have over cooked it
Friday night, the weather said no rain but hot, humid and windy.  Saturday morning, it was thunder and lightning right up to the start time at 8:10am.  Also, after the rain the hot, humid, windy weather was still on its way.  It was a stinker of a day for a bike and a run, but at least the swim didn't get canceled.  We were about thirty five minutes delayed off the start, and the swim was shortened from 0.5 to 0.4 miles.  Shortening the swim seemed pretty silly to me, but at least we got in the lake.

What a lake!  That was the clearest lake water in which I have ever swam.  There were quite a few weeds in spots, but the water was as clear as the pool at the Y.  I had though the water was going to be too warm for a wet suit due to the hot weather we have had over the last month, but the rain and a cloudy breeze made it a perfect morning for a wet suit swim.  The wind kicked up a lot after the rain, but the lake was below it's surroundings.  There was no chop to fight this time around.

It was a time trial start, and I went off in about position 60 out of 270 finishers.  It was a short swim, so I tried to push it.  It seemed like I passed quite a few folks, and I even had to slow down to work out a pass a couple times.  Tina went off much later in the mini-sprint start, and she was watching from the shore. She said I went of around 60th and came in around 20th.  That feels about right.  I didn't leave much in the water.
Swim Time:    10:19 with a 1:28 per 100 yards pace.
Swim Rank:    41st out of 270 overall
                         31st out of 159 males
                         7th out of 26 age groupers

Goal:     About 2.5 minutes
Actual:  Not too far off
I was pretty pumped out after the swim. I ran to the transition mat, but then walked the couple hundred feet to transition.  My shoes were wet from the rain, but not too bad.  The worst part was having wet sunglasses with nothing to clear off the lenses.  Anyhoo, it was an uneventful T1.
T1 Time: 2:55
Position:  41st out of the water,
                 67th out of T1 (270 finishers)

Bike (15 miles)
Goal: 18+ mph average, hopefully closer to 19 mph
Actual: Fail
After the race, my wife and I were sitting on a bench next to another lady who also did the sprint course.  The lady said, "These websites always say rolling hills; that WAS NOT rolling hills."  Agreed; that was a tough bike course.

The bike was three five mile loops.  About a mile into each loop, there was a bitch of a hill.  I believe it's the second worst climb I've done; I only had two gears left at the top of the climb.  On the first hill of the Chaska triathlon (River City Days 2014), I only had one gear left (on the small ring).  Also adding to the slowness was the wet, new asphalt on the bike course.  It dried up by the third lap, but I didn't hit the some of the down hill as much as I could have due to what I thought was slippery conditions.  The final complaint (maybe) was that the wind was blowing about 15mph.  All this (and mailing it in since Marion) lead to a season worst bike.

I don't know what to make of the bike at this race.  My last two races were 17.8 and 17.5 mph averages, but they were also olympic courses.  The first two races of the season were 18.8 and 18.3 mph averages on sprint courses.  I guess I have plenty of things I can blame for the slow time (13mph wind), but maybe I'm just slow on the bike.  I suppose I have to put in more hours on in the saddle.
I put 300 miles on the bike this year and an additional 15 hours on the trainer/stationary bike, but I suppose I can always due more. Maybe I'll be more inclined to due so when I get a new bike this winter (hopefully).   Anyhoo, I doubt I could have given it much more than I did. Not much more to say.  Crappy way to end the season.
Bike Time:   52:54 with a 17 mph average
Bike Rank:  106th out of 270 overall
                      81 out of 159 males
                      15th out of 26 age groupers

Goal:  Under 1:00
Actual:  Just barely
Nothing interesting in T2.  I racked the bike and took off.  I grabbed a water from a volunteer, tried to drink from the cup, coughed most of it up, splashed the rest on my back and I was on my way.  Is there a way I can practice grabbing a cup of water and drinking on the run?
T2 Time:  59 seconds
Position:   90th off the bike
                  89th out of T2 (270 finishers)

Run (5K)
Goal: Close to or break a 9:00 per mile average
Actual: Slow loser
I like to think of myself as a runner, but my results this year seem to indicate that I'm a swimmer who tries to bike and run.  Again, this was a crappy way to end the season.  I really wanted a time that I could be proud of, but it just wasn't going to happen this year.  I suppose my broken foot and a lost six weeks in the spring cost me a little bit in my training, but that's not enough to take all the blame.  I think I also fundamentally monkeyed my summer training.  I did the majority of my workouts in the early morning, and avoided a lot of hot, humid afternoon runs.  Next year, I think I need to get out in the heat and try to beat it.  I shouldn't hide from it.  Also, I just gotta get in some longer runs.  Time is the problem there.  Getting in a tenner is rough enough. I then also have to get through the rest of the day without crashing and burning on my family.  If I can make it through winter without injuries, then maybe I can build a hefty base.  Hopefully, that will help when I try to hit it up again next year.

Anyhoo, the run was almost totally flat.  Mostly, it was on a hard pack trail, and the only climb was near the end where you run from the under to the over pass of a bridge.  No walking this time, but that's hardly a moral victory.  It was still so very slowy slow slow.
Run Time:    31:08 with a 10:03 per mile pace
Run Rank:    143rd out of 270 overall
                       98th out of 159 males
                       19th out of 26 age groupers

Total Time:  1:38:14
Position:        105 out of 270 overall
                       82 out of 159 males
                       14 our of 26 age groupers

Time Comparison
Below is a comparison of my accumulated time against the field and male averages.  It seems like this was probably a race without a lot of triathlon regulars.  Either that, or the wind (13 mph) really threw everyone for a loop.  The average times were slow.  I was actually a minute fast on the bike and only a minute slow on the run when compared to the male average. I guess I'll take it; it makes me look good.

Post-Race and Next Up
I met up with Tina after the race and found out that she broke and hour.  Great Work Tina!  Of course, she wasn't happy with her time, but who ever is?  Anyhoo, they had a pretty nice spread comprised of the post-race regulars with hot dogs and root beer floats.  They also had a pretty good band playing. It would have been fun to stick around for a bit, but we had to get back and relieve the babysitter.

Not much is on the schedule for the rest of the year.  I have a charity 5K at work in a month and Surf the Murph in a couple months.  Timing on both of those really doesn't matter to me and training is similarly no longer race specific from here on out.  I've been reading up on heart rate training, and I may look into that this winter.  Outside of that, my only goal is not to get injured through the winter. When March/April outside running comes back around, I would like to be hitting 15-20 mile weeks pretty easy on the treadmill.

Tina and I after the Race

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lake Marion Triathlon Recap

Lake Marion Triathlon
Antlers Park, Lakeville MN
Sunday, August 16, 2015
1.5k/ 40k (+1 mile)/ 10k

Well, ffffff.......

I took a lot of negative energy into this weekend. I don't know how much it hurt my race, but packing up the night before the race has never been so little fun.  From Saturday to Tuesday of race week, the family and I were at a family reunion of sorts.  It came packaged with beer, late nights, bad food, drama and hard feelings (on my side at least).  Up through packing up on Saturday night, I still was contemplating skipping this race. If I could have got a refund, I would have passed.  What a bummer, I could not have felt more ready for the race than I did the Friday nine days before.  On that Friday, I did an 18/6 brick and felt great.  It all went downhill from there.  It's a shame; I had been looking forward to this for months. It was my longest race of the year. 

Anyhoo, on race week I only made time for one short workout in each event. In total, I only got in about two hours of work.  It was the least amount of work I had put in since I broke my foot.  The week before race-week, I had gotten in just about six hours training.  I had been trying to get in some longer workouts, but with the boys it was hard to get away for two hours or more.  Maybe my workout schedule also hurt me on race day, who knows.

My goal for this race was to break three hours.  I had hoped for less, but heading into race day, I felt that the predicted wind was going to hold me back a bit.  Also, due to construction, the bike course added a mile and now included a 40 meter dismount and run over gravel.  If I broke three hours, I would sign up for the 2016 HITS Waconia 70.3 race.  The sale price was $100 for Sunday only.

Swim (1.5K)
Goal:     Under 30 minutes, hopefully around 1:40/100 yards
Actual:  Got it half right.
The race site (Antlers Park) is only about 20 minutes from my house.  So, I got to sleep a little later than some other race day,s and I made it to transition by about 6:30.  The water temp was pretty nice, mid to high seventies.  It was nice enough to drop the wetsuit, but I kept mine on in hopes of swimming a little faster.  The lake had some patches of weeds, but it wasn't too bad.  After the disgusting lake with green water at our family reunion, I was just happy to be in a lake that didn't look diseased.  The swim is a triangle, the first and last legs were a cross wind and the middle leg seemed to be square into a little chop.

At the go, I really didn't want to be there.  It took me about five strokes to resign myself to an over three hour total and an over 35 minute swim.  It was just a bad mental day for a race.  At the first turn buoy, I peeked behind me and saw nearly no splashing.  I figured I was near last place for my wave (elites and all males). 

However, as I neared the second buoy (swimming into the chop), I realized that I must not be doing that bad. I had set my watch for a notification at 20 minutes, and I was hoping to make it around the second turn before that time.  I have no perception of time in the water. Without my watch alarm, those first two legs could have taken an hour for all I knew.  But, as I approaching the second turn, I still hadn't felt my watch buzz.  Either I had lost my watch (which Mopey McSourpuss contemplated for a while), or I wasn't doing that bad.  I received the 20 minute buzz shortly after the second turn.  I figured I still had a shot so I tried to punch it, but I did not have another gear in the water that day.  A few strokes later I had convinced myself that the last leg was going to take me 20 more minutes.  My internal voice was a real bitch this day.  Finally I reached the shore and could check how I was doing. At the transition mat, I didn't see the exact split, but I did see it started with a two.  I had broke a half hour; hopefully that would shut-up that asshole talking in my head. 
Swim Time:     29:43 with a 1:49/100 yards pace
Swim Ranks:   18th out of 60 overall,
                          16th out of 47 males,
                          3rd out of 5 age groupers

Tall guy in back

Goal:      Under 3:00
Actual:   Nope.
It's a longish run up to the bikes after crossing the T1 mat at this race.  I ran on the grass most of the way and then walked at the paved parking lot.  My new 910xt Garmin came with the triathlon quick change watchband and bike mount. I had put a sign in my bike helmet to remind me to switch my watch over to the bike mount. Without the sign, I definitely would have forgotten to make the switch. A handy trick to remember next time.  Anyhoo, I got out of there as fast as I could, an took off on the bike leg.  As it happens, my T1 time was exactly the same as the Lake Marion race last year.
T1 Time:  3:35
Position:  18th out of the water,
                 19th out of T1 (out of 60 finishers)

Bike (40K +1 mile = 25.8 miles)
Goal:  18mph average or better
Actual:  Never got close
Now I was having fun!  Now I wanted to race; now I wanted to have a great bike. I thought my watch said it took about 32:30 to get out of the water and out of T1.  That was right around my goal ( My reading was off by about a minute).  I needed an 18mph bike and a reasonable run and I was off to a 70.3 (in 2016). 

The first three miles were easy going.  I passed some sprinters and tried to tick it up before the head wind.  The turn to go south put us mostly against the wind for the next seven miles.  There was another right turn after that, and that felt like it put us into the teeth of the wind for another four miles.  At the halfway point my average was 16.5 mph.  The course is mostly flat for about the first seven miles, then you hit some rollers until the ten mile turn, and after the ten mile turn you have a few more hills with a couple substantial climbs. 

When I finally turned out of the headwind (around a 10mph wind give or take), I tried to kick it up and catch some time.  It was fast and fun with a couple rain drops.  The average mph ticked up, but then I hit the gravel corner.  You had to dismount and walk/run the gravel, and then it was back into the wind for a mile.  After that we were with the wind to the end with a couple rollers.  I couldn't make up the time though.  I did 16.5 mph on the first 13 miles and 18.6 mph on the last 12.8 miles.  Fun note, the race listed the bike at 25.8 miles which is the exact distance I hit on my watch.  However, the printed race stats had the race at 24.8 miles (40K), so all their speeds are off.
Bike Time:    1:28:43 with a 17.5 mph average
Bike Ranks:  31st out of 60 overall,
                       27th out of 47 males
                       4th out of 5 age groupers

The Bike starts off riding through downtown Lakeville.
Goal:     About 45 seconds
Actual:  Almost exactly
I almost forgot my watch on my bike in T2, and I started to run away after racking my bike.  Again, I was lucky that I had put a sign in my run hat to remind me to put my watch back onto my wrist band.
T2 Time: 46 seconds 
Position:  31st off the bike,
                 26th out of T2 (out of 60 finishers)

Run (10K)
Goal:     Under 10:00 pace, Hopefully under 9:45
Actual:  Nope, not even close.
My wife, boys, mother-in-law and her sister were just outside of the transition area.  They saw me come in from the bike and start out on the run.  It was a nice pick-me-up to see'em out there and get a little bit of cheer to take on my way.  My watch said I had been on the course for about 2:02 and change.  Some quick estimating told me that I needed under a 9:30 min/mile average to break three hours.  I thought it unlikely, but I was going to give it a shot. 

The 10K course is two loops of the 5K course.  I ran the sprint last year, so I knew the course.  I figured 9:30 pace was possible with 9:00 on the first flat mile, 10:00 on the second mile with most of the uphill and 9:30 on the third mile (repeat for miles 4, 5 and 6).  And, that is almost what I did for the first 5K.  I ran 9:07, 9:53 and 9:41.  There is water on the turn around at about 1.5 miles. I tried to drink some water, but the magic of cup drinking while running still eludes me.  I ended up splashing most of it on my face and chest, which wasn't that bad a result. 

I saw the guy who writes the NowIAmDoingSomething blog coming up the hill on his second lap as I descended on my first.  I thought about saying something to him, but figured he didn't need the distraction.  He finished about a half hour ahead of me, 14th place, pretty cool. 
At about the 3 mile mark, there was some more water and what I presume was HEED.  I got the HEED (by mistake), and wore it all over me (sticky) the rest of the race, sigh... 

There was also a kid with a hose and spray gun nozzle standing there.  As I neared, his mom asked who he was spraying.  He said, "Whoever wants me to spray'em."  That sounded like a good idea, so I told him to give me a shot to the head.  It felt quite nice.

I'm told that my wife was at the half way point cheering me on again, but I did not notice her.  I was fading fast.  I had tried to keep up the pace for the first 5K, and my efforts had the wall coming on fast.  With a 9:30+ pace for the first three miles I knew breaking three hours was out the window.  I looked at my watch as I approached 3.5 miles and it said my pace was around 11:30 min/mile. Thinking back now, that probably was a mistake by my watch. The pace on the Garmin 910xt jumps around and gives erratic readings sometimes.  Anyhoo, the readings had me thinking that I was actually that slow, it made me mopey, and I used it as an easy out to start run/walking.  My run went to hell from there.  My last three miles clocked in at 11:51, 11:58 and 11:29.

It would have been nice to cut about two minutes of each of those miles, but my legs just wouldn't fire up again after I gave them a break.  On the last bit of a mile to finish line, I came in at a 9:39 pace.  I like to pretend that there wasn't any give-up in those slow run/walk miles, but that's probably not totally true.  At the end of the race, it really didn't feel like I had anything left in the tank; maybe I'm too hard on myself. I guess I'm proud of the race as a first full Olympic effort, but the last few miles were a downer. 
Run Time:    1:06:11 with a 10:41 min/mile average
Run Ranks:  48th out of 60 overall,
                       40th out of 47 males,
                       4th out of 5 age groupers

Someone get me a beer!

Total Time:  3:08:55
Position:       36th out of 60 finishers
                      32nd out of 47 males
                      4th out of 5 age groupers

Time Comparison
Below is an accumulated time comparison graph.  Similar to Bemidji, my faster swim just about balanced out with my slower bike to make my time about average at the start of the run.  Coming out of  T2, I was 1:30 ahead of the field average and 58 seconds behind the male average.  The run blew up my time.  Also of note, it appears that my T1 time is usually slow and my T2 time is usually fast when compared to the average. Transition results in this race are similar to previous races.  Overall, my total transition time looks to be a bit faster than the average.  

Post-Race and Up Next
I have to stop hoping for a nice spread at the end of races.  Those few races that have had more than bananas and cookies (i.e. sandwiches, pizza, protein drink, etc.) are the exception and not the norm.  The funny thing at the end of this race was the finisher's medals.  After last year's race, the director emailed out that the price was going up a bit this year (only $5) to improve swag, finisher medals and give-aways.  I didn't stay for the give-aways (hungry and tired), but the finisher medals were exactly the same as last year.  Not a big deal, I don't care about the medals, but it's kinda funny. 

Up next is the Hopkins Royal Sprint Triathlon on September 5.  My wife is also doing the super sprint; hopefully she has a good time (maybe this leads to other races).  That will be the last triathlon of the season, and then it's probably just running and some sporadic cross training.  I signed up for the Surf the Murph race again this year (85$, Saturday, October 24).  I signed up for the 50 mile (idiot), but we'll see how things go.  I'll have to pack on some miles in the next couple months, but I'm certainly due.  I want to kick up my run training for next year (Lake Wobegon Marathon is only 38 weeks away).  I just didn't have it for the Bemidji and Marion runs.  If I can make it to, and through winter without injuries maybe I can get back to being a runner (at least as much as I was last fall).  Last year my knee cost me seven weeks over winter and then my broken foot cost me another 6 weeks in the spring.  Without an improvement in running, I'll probably put off the jump to a 70.3 until 2017.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Paul Bunyan Triathlon Recap

Paul Bunyan Triathlon
Bemidji, MN
1 mile/ 20 mile/ 5 mile
July 18, 2015

It took a lot of effort to get to this race. Originally, I had registered (and paid) for the Annandale Heart of the Lakes triathlon but a family get-together and a Monday meeting up north made this race a better fit.  Also, I almost backed out in the last week. The weather looked like it was going to be stormy, and I had no interest in running another converted duathlon. But, the weather predictions cleared up, so the family and I piled in the car and made the trip up north. In order to make the trip, we also had a hitch installed on the car ($200) and purchased a bike rack ($60). We stayed with my folks, and my brother's family came up for the weekend as well.  Since the house was crowded, I stayed in a hotel the night before the race ($190).

Going into the race, I was hoping to break 2.5 hours and not finish dead last. Twenty nine people ran the long course; so dead last was a distinct possibility.  The times needed for a 2.5 hour race seemed possible based on my training times. However, this was going to be my first 2+ hour race, so I had no idea how my body would react to the time and length.

Pre-Race Pic
Swim (1 mile)
Goal:  Under 2:00 per 100 yards
Actual: Crazy fast; maybe too fast.
I wore my wet suit again, and my swim times in the suit are fast. All the long course racers went off in one wave. It was a little thick in the water at first, but it thinned out after a few hundred yards.  I sight terribly while breathing to the right, and I veer right due to the terrible sighting. All is well on the left side, but I have to switch sides once and a while due to shoulder fatigue. In the lap pool, I breath the same side for an entire lap, and then switch sides on consecutive laps. Works great in the pool, rubbish in the open water. Something to work on before Marion (4 weeks).  Anyhoo, it was two laps around the markers and I zipped around pretty good.  I saw some ass clown cut a corner on the first lap. That made me kinda mad, but it's not like I was going to be fighting for a podium spot.  My time was fast; it was probably too fast. Either I went out too strong and hurt myself for the rest of the race, or the distance markers were off.  I think the latter.
Swim Time:   25:48 with a 1:28 per 100 yards pace
Swim Ranks:  14th out of 28 overall
                          11th out of 24 males
                          4th out of 5 age groupers

Swim Course

Goal: Under 3 minutes
Actual: Who knows?
The timing system for the "swim in" failed. So, there was no official T1 time.  That, by itself, is not a big problem. However, this race's organization left something to be desired. The T2 timing was also wrong, though the race claims it is accurate.  The sprint awards started before I finished (I get it, I'm slow). Also, when I did cross the line and finally found a volunteer, I was told the finisher medals were in a box by the bananas. Anyhoo, I think I timed out T1 pretty well with my Garmin.
T1:  2:04

Bike (20 miles)
Goal:     18.5 mph
Actual:  Slowy, slow, slow
Comming  out of T1, I knew that I was about 10 minutes ahead of a 2 min per 100 yards swim. Also, I knew I had won about a minute  in T1.  I had driven the bike course the night before, so I knew it was a relatively flat course with only a couple climbs around miles 6 and 14.  It was mostly an out and back course, and just like in Clearwater it was tail wind at the start and then head wind on the second half.  I thought if I held back a bit on the front 10, then I'd have something extra left for the back 10. Nope. When I made the turn, I had nothing in the tank.  It wasn't a strong wind, so maybe my training just sucks.  Either way, at the turn around I could see that I had about 20 minutes on last place, so that was one goal achieved.  I think there were 8 racers behind me.  So, I struggled into T2 with a 17.3 mph average on the back 10 miles (19.4 mph on the front 10).  I didn't hit the lap button on my watch when I hit the T2 mat, so I have to believe the official bike time. It sounds about right.
Bike Time: 1:07:22 with a 17.8 mph average
Bike Ranks: 21st out of 28 overall,
                      18th out of 24 males,
                       5th out of 5 age groupers

Elevation for the entire race; the last five peaks are the run.

Goal:  Fast
Actual: Who knows?
My official T2 Time is posted as 1:24. What a pile. Even more silly, my time is listed as the fifth fastest in T2.  This transition area was tiny. There is no way it took me a minute and a half to rack my bike and run out.  No chance.  The T2 times are all wrong. By my watch, I think the run and bike times are correct, but both transitions are goofed up. I'm not sure how that happens.
T2 Guess:  30-45 seconds

Run (5 miles)
Goal: 9:18 min per mile average
Actual: Not even close.
Again, I had driven the run course the night before, so I knew there were a couple hills. I didn't have much in the tank for the run.  You start the run on a wooded hill climb, and then we did an out and back of 2.5 miles on the road. I fought a stomach cramp for the first couple miles, then decided to walk it off.  At that point, I was only at a 10 minute mile pace anyway, so a little walking wasn't killing a personal best.  At the turn around, there was a street cone and writing on the ground  in chalk that said "Turn Around".  Seems like that would have been a good place for a volunteer.  After I walked off my cramp, I ran a couple more miles then walked through the water stop and up a hill.  I ran the last mile and change.  A lady passed me with about half a mile to go. She had a great pace, no chance to catch her.  Driving back after the race, I saw her again running down the road for some extra miles; crazy. Anyhoo, the family was at the finish line and it felt good to get cheered to the line.
Run Time:   51:14 with a 10:15 pace
Run Ranks: 22nd out of 28 overall,
                      19th out of 24 males,
                      5th out of 5 age groupers

Total Time:  2:26:46
Position:       22th out of 28 finishers
                      19th out of 24 males
                      5th out of 5 age groupers

Time Comparison
Below is a comparison of accumulated times. This has to be taken with a grain of salt because the transition times are all screwed up.  It still gives a good idea of a comparison to the field and male averages.  In both cases, my faster swim almost evened out my slower bike to make my time about average going into the run. Leaving T2, I was 39 seconds behind the field average and 3:22 behind the male average.  After that, I blew up my time on the run.

My watch time and the official time were exactly the same. The transition times were messed up, but tech will fail once and a while. There were plenty of volunteers, and they did their assigned tasks very well.  However, the organization of this race left something to be desired.  I probably won't be back.
Lake Marion is 4 weeks out and I will be running the olympic course. I don't think there is any way the swim course at Bemidji was actually a mile, so I'll have to keep up some training to see if I can swim a good time at Marion. I got a new watch (an impulse buy from my wife, $300), the Garmin 910xt.  Lots of bells and whistles.  It can be set up specifically for a tri, with planned timing for transitions.  Sounds fun. We'll see if I can figure it out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Graniteman Clearwater Recap

Graniteman Triathlon
Clearwater MN
0.44 mile/ 14.34 mile/ 5K (Relay)
July 11, 2015

This weekend, I ran the Clearwater sprint triathlon as a relay with a buddy from college.  I did the swim/bike and he did the run.  As a result, it wasn't so much a race day as it was a workout day.  It was good to get in a swim/bike workout before my longer race (Bemidji, 1 mile/ 20 mile/ 5 mile) next weekend.  Also, this was the first time I got to use my wetsuit, and it was my first open water swim of the year.

Going into the weekend I had been getting in some longer workouts.  My runs were around six miles, I had done a 23 mile bike and I had done a mile or more in the lap pool a few times. Early in the week there was a prediction of rain on race day, but it stayed away until the evening and we ended up with a nice sunny day for the race. 

I didn't have much in the way of expectations for this race.  Looking at the relay times from last year, I knew we were going to be slow.  My only hope for an overall time was that we wouldn't finish dead last in the team standings.  Outside of that unpleasant likelihood, I felt like it was going to be a fun day irrespective of our performances.

Swim: 0.44 miles
Goal:      Under a 2 minute per 100 yards pace
Actual:   That wetsuit is fast.
The race started about ten minutes late; the MC just kept going on at the pre-race meeting.  The weather was nice, so at least there wasn't any rush to beat the rain.  There were three Olympic waves and then I was in the first sprint wave with the rest of the relay participants.  The Olympic course looked long, but not as scary as last year at Lake Marion.  I think I can make that length, and we'll see if I'm right next week in Bemidji!  Anyhoo, on my wave start, I walked in and started at the back of the pack.  I wasn't sure what to expect with the new wet suit and with no previous open water swims yet this year.  Turns out, I should work toward the front of the pack next time.  Wetsuit swimming is so much easier!  It felt like cheating.  My suit is buoyant enough for me float without effort.  swimming is just paddling, I don't have to worry much about balance or keeping my body up at all. 

During the swim, there was this person next to me who was going at about the same pace.  However, every time they looked up to spot, they would take off on a line across my path.  I got her feet a couple times, she got mine a couple times and there was at least a couple body checks.  Weird.  I suppose it could have been me that was wildly changing my lines, but I don't think so.  In any event, my watch at the end of the swim said 13 minutes, but I hit the lap button before the run to transition.
Swim Time:  13:31 with a 1:45 per 100 yards pace
Times based on individual sprint racers.

Goal:     Under 3 minutes.
Actual:  Made it.
The mat for T1 must have been pretty close to the transition area.  It was 30 seconds from when I got out of the lake to when I crossed the mat.  It made my swim time look a little longer, but it also made my T1 time look a little quicker.  I guess that's probably always true.  Anyhoo, my wetsuit came off easy.  My shoes went on easy, and then I was on my way. 
T1 Time:  2:53

Bike: 14.34 miles
Goal:     19 mph average
Actual:  So close.
I started the bike course like a shot out of a cannon.  My average speed over the first 7 miles was 20.4 mph.  The entire course is reasonably flat, my garmin only counted 208ft of uphill (same for downhill).  But after the first seven miles we turned back into the wind.  The wind was not strong; it was about 8 mph.  But, by the second half of the course my legs were burning and the wind was hurting me.  I kept up as well as I could, but the second half of the course I averaged 17.4 mph.  It was a let down.  I knew my spits going out, and I checked the first few coming in.  I knew it was going to be ugly.  At least the race photog got a pic of me on the bike.  Again, I shouldn't be disappointed, my average mph was a personal best.  I had some crazy numbers running through my head for the first half of that ride; it sucks coming back to the realization that you're slow.
Bike:  45:41 with and 18.8 mph average
Times based on individual spring racers.

Run: 5K
Goal:  Get some food and rest.
Bull took the run portion of the relay.  He did pretty well too.  He cut a 9:30 pace with a 29:25 time.  His goal was to break half an hour, so congrats to him.  Well done.  The post race food was lack luster.  I like a banana or two after a workout, but I would also like something a little more filling.  There was a burger truck for pay, but I cheaped out.   A sandwich or something would have been nice.

Total Relay Time:  1:32:19

Time Comparisons
Below is a comparison of my times against the field (same as the distributions above) and male averages of the sprint race.  It may not seem like a fair comparison, but it's not like I ever hold anything back on the swim or bike to save for the run. You can see that I was a little ahead of the field average on the bike and the swim.  Compared to the male average, my fast swim just about evened out with my slower bike to put me pretty near the average total before the run. Who knows how the run would have gone, maybe I'l tri this one solo next year.

Post-Race and Up Next
Based on last year's times, I was just hoping we wouldn't finish dead last in the relay.  Well, you can only race those who show up, and I guess the rabbits didn't show up.  We took 1st place (out of 7 teams) in the all male relay category.  Our time would have only been good enough for 3rd in the all female category and 11th in the coed relay teams, but a win is a win.  We'll take it.  We had a great time.

Up next is the Paul Bunyan Triathlon in Bemidji next weekend.  This will be my first long race.  It is a mile swim, 20 mile bike and a 5 mile run.  I think fueling is going to be the hard part.  I haven't tried a two and a half hour workout yet.  We'll see if I can get it right on the first try.


Race Comparison

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lake Minnetonka Triathlon Recap

Lake Minnetonka Sprint Triathlon
Excelsior Commons June 20, 2015
0.5 mile/ 15 mile/ 3 mile

Well, this was my first race back from hurting my left knee in the fall and then breaking my left foot in the spring.  It would have been nice if everything had went to plan, but mother nature got in the way.

Leading up to the race, I was usually getting in 3 or 4 hours a week of training. My time breakdown and predicted reactions were as follows:
      Over  1:50       Failure
      1:45- 1:50        At least I did it.
      1:40- 1:45        Great Job
      1:35- 1:40        Above Expectations
      Under 1:35      Able to retire as champion of the world

Specifically, my top shelf goal was a 2 min/100yds swim, 18 mph bike, 9 mile/min run, and I wanted my total transition under 4 minutes.

I did not have the time to drive the bike course or practice the run course.  My summer schedule is terrible throughout my first five week course.  I have class at 8:ooam and 6:oopm on MTH.  It makes for some long days.  Anyhoo, I had no idea what to expect as far as hills on the course were concerned. 

Race morning weather was rain and thunderstorms.  This was the first time I have seen the 10-forecast be exactly correct.  Everyday, the forecast said morning thunderstorms, and that's exactly want we got.  I was up around 4:50am and got to the race site (Excelsior Bay) at a little after 6:oo am.  Lots of rain, but the lightning had mostly stopped by that time.

When I got to the site, I didn't see any buoys in the water; I kinda figured I knew what was coming next.  I'd say it was around 6:30 when the announcement was made that the swim portion of the race was going to be canceled.  What a bummer.  I still haven't used my wetsuit.  It was probably a bad idea to try it out for the first time on a race day, but like I said, my schedule sucks right now. 

Anyhoo, the race was converted into a Run, Bike, Run (1 mile/ 15 mile/ 3 mile).  That meant all of my goal times were shot.  So, I decided to run as fast as I could on the mile.  When am I ever going to run just 1 mile again?  On the bike and the run I was going to stick with a 18mph / 9 min/mile goals.

The rain really started to come down in the few minutes before the race started, but once we got going I didn't really notice it.  By half way through the bike,  the rain had stopped.  By the time I got to the run, I had to take off my long sleeve shirt because it was getting hot.

Run 1: About 1 mile
Goal:       Fast
Actual:    Good Enough
We were sent off in the same waves that were planned for the swim.  We ran on a narrow sidewalk out of the park. You were kind stuck in order for a little bit, unless you wanted to try to use the soggy muddy grass for a pass.  Once we got to a road, I tried to increase my pace a bit.  It was a short run, and I was just going to try to go fast, so I didn't even look at Garmin for the pace until I heard the lap tone.  By my watch, I ran the first mile in 7:26 minutes.  Either I took a long route, or it was a bit more than a mile for the first run ( I had it at about 1.1 miles).  I'm guessing the latter, since the route  had to be worked up at the last minute. 
Run 1 Time:    8:15 minutes
Run 1 Ranks:  143rd our of 372 overall
                          116 out of 239 males
                          16 out of 36 age groupers

Goal:     Absolutely None
Actual:  Not Interesting
T1 would have been interesting if I had to change out of my wet suit.  As it was, I just walked through transition and hopped on my bike.  The run did take a little out of me.
T1 Time:   1:52  minutes
Position:    143rd out of Run 1,
                   159th out of T1 (372 finishers)

Bike: 15 miles
Goal:     At least 17mph, Hopefully more than 18mph
Actual:  Over 18mph
On my training rides I had been averaging around 16.5mph, but I usually bike on a kind of hilly loop with a couple stop lights and a few stop signs.  I was hoping a little flatter route and not having to stop/slow so often would tick me up an mph or two.  Both of the runs were basically flat. The total elevation gain (equivalent to elevation lost) was about 430ft.

I'm just slow on the bike.  There were times when I was at my max cadence (couldn't even make the highest gear catch), and folks were passing me like I wasn't moving.  Maybe I'm too big and cause too much wind resistance, maybe my bike is crap or maybe I just don't practice enough.  In any event, my average was 18.3mph, and I guess I can't ask for much more.  That is the extent of my abilities.  The stats page says that 76 people passed me on the bike portion.  It felt like more.  I should be happy with a personal best for average speed, but it was a let down to see everyone speed past me.  On the bright side, I don't believe my tri-shorts are sheer.  A lot of folks should bend over and take a look in the mirror before they suit up for race day.  I saw the equivalent of bare ass far too many times on Saturday.
Bike Time:    49:17 minutes, 18.3 mph average
Bike Ranks:  200th out of 372 overall
                       164th out of 239 males
                       21st out of 36 age groupers

Goal:     Absolutely None
Actual:  Not Interesting
In T2 I racked my bike and took off the long sleeve compression shirt that I had put on during the rain before the race started.  The clouds were breaking and I run hot.  Again I walked out of transition; a quick turnover just wasn't of interest to me this time around.
T2 Time:  0:58 minutes
Position:   189th of the bike
                  186th out of T2 (372 finishers)

Run: 3 miles
Goal:      9 min/mile average
Actual:   Killed it.
Again, the loops I run at home are on a bit of a hilly route.  The run for this race has basically no elevation change.  On training runs, I was averaging about a 8:50 mile.  On the race route, the official stats have me at an 8:30 per mile average.  I had the course running a little short on my Garmin, about 2.9 miles.  If that is the case, then I would have been at about an 8:40 per mile.  Either way, I was very happy with my time.  This was an out and back on the same trail.  There was a water station after about half a mile where I foolishly tried to drink from a cup on the run.  I think some water may have gotten in my mouth, but most of it was on my face and body.  Maybe I'll get a water belt for my longer races coming up.
Run Time:     25:29 minutes, 8:30 per mile
Run Ranks:   205th out of 372 overall
                       160th out of 239 males
                       27th out of 36 age groupers

Total Time:  1:25:49
Position:        194th out of 372 overall
                       162nd out of 239 males
                       25th out of 36 age groupers   

Time Comparisons
A graph of accumulated times are below.  I was just under the field average on everything except T2 (missed it by 2 seconds).  Compared to male finishers, I was right on average for run 1 but slower on the bike and run 2.

Post-Race & Up Next
The finisher medal for this race was quite nice; the same goes for the t-shirt.  The food at the end was plentiful.  Pizza, muffins and apples.  Although, I think the pizza or apples may have made me explode.  As it is, I had a big muffin and some water and felt fine after the race.  I had a banana and Gatorade in the car, and I felt well enough the rest of the day to go do some renovating on a rental property that I own.

Next up is a tri-relay with an old college buddy in a few weeks.  It's a shorty: .44 mile swim and a 14 mile bike.  He is going to do the run.  It will be a good work out, and (weather permitting) I'll get to have a swim with my wet suit before the long races on my calendar. 

After that, I'm going to skip the Annandale race on July 19.  It sucks because I already paid for the race. However, I have to be up north on July 20 and I just don't want to stack driving 3.5 hours and racing on the same day.  So, I'm going to pay through the nose and do the Paul Bunyan Triathlon
($95, 1 mile/20 mile/5 mile) in Bemidji on July 18.  It's going to be a hassle trying to get my bike up north with my family in the car, but we'll try to figure it out.