Wednesday, November 23, 2016

70.3 Swim Comparison

This summer I did two 70.3 triathlons. Liberty was in June; it ended up being a hot day, but most people use a wetsuit when it's legal. Toughman was during a hot July stretch, and the water temperature ended up making the swim not wetsuit legal.  There were fifty seven people who did both races; nine racers opted to wear a wetsuit at Toughman and receive an unofficial time.

There were four racers that I consider outliers. Their swim paces at Toughman were 28, 29, 37 and 45 seconds slower per 100 yards than at Liberty. The next closest drop-off was 17 seconds. If you drop these outliers and those folks that wore wetsuits, the linear relation is quite clear.

The above graph has only the 44 non-outlier, non wetsuit swimmers. The yellow line indicates where the paces for the two races would have been equal; those dots above the yellow line indicate folks who were slower at Toughman (without a wetsuit). The blue-dashed line is the linear regression line for the scatter plot.

You can see that just about everybody was noticeably slower, and no one was substantially faster at the non-wetsuit race (Toughman). One possibility for this is that maybe the Toughman swim was set up long, or maybe the Liberty course was set up short. Both races should have been a 1.2 mile swim. These are well run races, so I don't think that was the problem. Also, the wetsuit times are telling.

The sample is small; there were only nine wetsuit swimmers at Toughman. Six of those wetsuit times were faster than Liberty (wetsuit legal), two were about equal and one was slower. This makes a lot of sense. Toughman was later in the summer, and everyone had plenty of warm weather to get in some good swim time before the race. In comparison, Liberty was in the second week of June, and a lot of places were just starting to warm up enough for open water swimming. I did a race the week before liberty and the swim was bone chilling cold.

So, what's the result? Wetsuits are faster; Duh. Everyone knows wetsuits are faster, but it's kinda fun to see some data. All this kinda assumes that most everyone used a wetsuit for the Liberty race in June. This isn't such a large stretch. Most of the folks that do two 70.3 races in a season are racers and not just finishers (present company excluded). Most racers have and use a wet suit whenever possible.

Overall, the wetsuits didn't make much of a difference in overall times. One wetsuit swimmer didn't finish the Toughman race, and another cut the bike course at the Liberty race. The other seven were pretty close to the regression line for the rest of the racers.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mankato Marathon Recap

Mankato Marathon
Sunday, October 10, 2016

I've decided that the easiest way for me to avoid hurting my knees is to only run twice a week. Leading up to the marathon, I would do a shorter run (usually six miles) mid-week and a longer run on the weekends. My long runs went 8, 10, 13.2, 17, 16, 20 and then 7.5 miles. The 16 mile run was actually a failed attempt at a 20 mile run. I cut it short due to knees and allergies. My average on my three longest runs was right around 10:40 min/mile (with a 10:42 average on the 20 mile).

Even though I assumed I was under trained, I was still relatively confident going into the marathon. The most difficult part for me is getting to the start line without any injuries, and that's exactly what I did. I didn't have any health complaints at the start of the race.  My pre-race break down of finishing times and reactions was as follows

5:00 +         = Failure
4:50 - 5:00  = At least I made it
4:45 - 4:50  = I'm kinda a big deal
4:40 - 4:45  = I assume Obama will be calling to congratulate me soon
4:30 - 4:40  = All are required to bow before the greatness that is Erik!
4:30 or less = Retire as world champion

This was actually a pretty small marathon, but we had a large starting group since we began at the same time as the half marathon folks. The marathon had 368 runners, the half had 1443 runners and the relay had 54 teams. The full and half runners shared the road for the first three miles, and then we turned opposite directions.

I drove down to Mankato the night before the race and stayed in a hotel. Race time was 8:00, and I figured a little extra sleep and a lot less driving would serve me well on race day.  I drove over and parked at the finish line in the morning. The race had buses to take you to the start line from there. On the bus, I started talking to a guy who had run the Chicago marathon with his wife the week before, and they were both doing Ironman North Carolina the next week. Crazy. They had previously done Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Texas, and he believed that he was going to finish Ironman NC in about 13 hours.  That was a fun conversation, and that was the last time I spoke until 0.25 miles left in the race.

At race time, it was 45° and a breeze was coming up out of the south east.  It was a little cool, but not bad.  I wore gloves, a long sleeve shirt, shorts and my water belt. I had gatorade in the water belt for a couple stretches where I knew the water stops were about 3 miles apart (as opposed to the other 2 mile intervals on the course). We were against the breeze for the first stretch, but I was running behind a thousand people so I didn't notice the wind.  There were a few spectators for the first mile or two, and I got in a few high fives to start out the morning.

I may not have had the best game plan coming into this marathon. My plan was to break it into four 10K runs plus some pain on the end.  I was thinking I could do averages of 10, 10.5, 11 and then 11.5 minutes per mile on the six mile splits and then just try to finish.

As usual, I couldn't help myself and I probably went out too fast. There are only two substantial hills on the course; the rest are rollers. The first hill is about five miles in. I was feeling pretty good, so I attacked it like an idiot. I've always been more comfortable going up hill than down. On the way up I kept thinking of the scene in Rocky 3 where he was getting his ass kicked but kept saying, "You ain't so bad."
( )
When I got to the top, I even said, "I ain't breathing heavy." At least that was fun; it probably was a poor idea for the long run, but it was fun at the time. On the second hill, at mile seven, I pulled pack and even walked a bit.

In general, I've decided to do what I enjoy and training/results be damned.  Training plans always call for tempo runs and interval runs and similar things for the bike and pool. I hate'em, and I'm not doing them. I just like to go out and try to keep a pace for an hour or two. It's not good training, I'm not getting faster but it's fun to me.

The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. I would say the first 20 miles were fun, and the last six kinda sucked. My splits and total average pace are below.

You can see above that mile 22 was better than the surrounding miles.  Someone biked by at the beginning of that split and said, "Dedicate this mile to someone." That seemed like a good idea, so I dedicated that mile to the family. I thought of all the hours Tina gave me for training, all the hours I gave up playing with the boys and mostly I thought of the challenges that Fletch is going to have. I kept thinking about how hard he is going to have to try, and I tried to keep running for him.

That mile went well, but then I was spent. My times cratered after that, but I finished. With about a quarter mile left, a lady on a bike started riding next to me. She asked my name, if anyone was waiting for me at the finish, if this was my first marathon and mostly she just constantly said, "You got this." It pissed me off! No shit I got this, there is a quarter mile left. If you want to motivate, why don't you come see me when I wanted to quit a couple miles ago. Now, you are just bothering me and ruining my moment. Finally, I waved waved her off when the finish line was in sight. I poked my way in with a 4:56:04 total.

The following two graphs show the same information.  The first is a bit more informative, but the second is more pretty.

So the last thing is the question of which is harder, a marathon or a 70.3 triathlon. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but I think the marathon was harder. However, a lot of that probably has to do with me being relatively well trained for the triathlon and a bit under trained for the marathon. I just can't put in the run miles needed for a good marathon. As it is, I've only put on ten miles since the marathon due to knee pain. The marathon was harder, but the triathlon is more fun. Also, the tri training is harder and more fun. The scheduling to get in a long run, bike and swim in a week is tough. Anyhoo, below is a comparison of half marathon times for Liberty, Toughman and the two halves of the marathon. Naturally the first half of the marathon was the best. Liberty was the worst (hot, humid) and Toughman was better than the second half of the marathon.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Well, That's It!

I had signed up for the Maple Grove Triathlon which takes place in late August, but I decided to defer my registration to next year ($35). After Toughman in July, I took a little time off from training. Mostly, I spent my time catching up on some much needed yard work and drinking (yes, I meant to imply that the drinking was much needed). Also, the family and I did a bit of traveling in August. I had neither the drive nor the time to put in the training that was needed for a good showing in another race (i.e. good for my standards). So, we are going to call it a season for triathlons.  One sprint, two 70.3 races and one Olympic relay. Four races kinda seems like too little for all the work I put in, but I suppose the hours and miles are a better indicator of season length.

Anyhoo, here are the comparison graphs.  I recently noticed that my number have three repeats in the Toughman race. I'll recalculate at some point, but three entries will not change the numbers very much at all.

Next up: another shot at a marathon.  I'm hoping I can make the Mankato Marathon in October.  An October marathon will keep me out of Surf the Murph this year, but that's probably for the best. I've came out of the Murph hobbled each of the last two years.  The sign-up for Ironman Wisconsin is in week,. If I can get registered, then staying healthy and logging miles will be priority one for the next year.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Toughman Minnesota Recap

Toughman Minnesota
Paradise Park, Chisago MN
Sunday, July 24
1.2 mile/ 56 mile/ 13.1 mile

Whoa baby, what a race!

Let's start from the top.

This was a Sunday race. On Wednesday I did a five mile run, and I probably would have finished up the prep work with a short trainer session on Thursday. However, things went to shit after my Wednesday run. For some reason, my chest locked up and taking deep breaths started to be impossible.  By Wednesday night, it had spread to my back. The muscles in my back were knotted up worse than a monkey's fist. By Thursday morning, I thought I was out of the race, and I would have been if the race was on the day. I couldn't stop thinking of all the hours I had put in, and how I could have spent that time with my family. It felt like I had wasted my summer. I hit a maximum on the mopy scale.

I had a three and a half hour calc 3 class to teach on Thursday night, and that didn't help my body at all. On Friday and Saturday I spent time in the hot tub at the Y. My chest started to feel pretty good after a couple soaks. By Saturday night, I was feeling a little better and I was reasonably sure I could race. My back was still locked up, but my chest had loosened up. When my chest loosened up I could at least take some deep breaths again. It was a three day roller coaster of emotions, and that continued into race day.

Swim 1.2 mile
Goal:  Around 37 minutes
Actual:  No wetsuit = Slow
I was quite disappointed with my swim at Liberty. I was hoping to tear it up in this race for some redemption. However, when I showed up to transition on race morning the word was out that the water temp was 80°. So, it was not a wetsuit legale race.  I knew I was no where near podium speed even before I was laid up for three days. I could have went off in the final wave (wave 9 or 10, I think) with my wetsuit, but I didn't want to wait around. I went off as scheduled in wave 3 without my suit.

It was a big wave. I'd guess we had about 60-70 people starting the swim together. I got trampled a bit at the start and took on a fair bit of water. I think a major difference for the wetsuit is its benefit to sighting. I kept taking gulps when I was sighting. My only guess is that the buoyancy of the wetsuit usually keeps my mouth just a bit more high and dry.

Anyhoo, by the last turn (0.9 miles) my watch timer told me I was super behind my desired pace. I plugged away on the swim-in and braced myself for the extra time I was going to have to make up on the bike and run.  My swim time ended up faster than the overall average and the male average; I guess I can't be too upset.

Those who went off in the wetsuit wave (about 145 racers) were taken out of their group and gender rankings, but I went through and added their times back into the male averages. The average wetsuit swim was about thirty seconds faster than the non-wetsuit times.
Swim Time: 43:07 with a 2:03 min/100 yds pace
My Time is noted in green.
Swim Rank: 227 out of 510 swimmers
                   154 out of 309 males
                   17 out of 32 age groupers

Goal:  On the bike by the 40 minute mark.
Actual: Never had a chance.
As I approached the swim exit, I decided I'd run through transition if I was around a 40 minute swim, and walk it off otherhows. I figured much more than 40 minutes was kinda gunna kill my time goals anyway; no need to knock myself out. As I got out of the water I saw I was already near 43 minutes. I walked into and out of transition defeated. I even hit the bathroom on the way out. I figured this was another day of just trying to finish. The positive news was that my back, chest and breathing were all top shelf. What ever was beating me down for the last three days had passed.
T1 Time:  3:44

Position:  227 out of the water
                248 out of T1 (510 swim finishers)

Bike 56 Miles
Goal:  Better than 17.5 mph
Actual:  Nailed it.
Mounting the bike, I knew I was behind my goal times. I wanted to be on the bike by 40 minutes and then on the run by the 4 hour mark. Starting the run at 4 hours gave me a decent chance at beating my Liberty time and possibly Nic's Liberty time (6:50 and 6:45). Since I was around 7 minutes slow on my bike mount goal, my math geek brain was telling me I needed about a 17.7 mph bike to get on the run as desired. I had once done a long bike at a 17.7 mph average, but that was only 40 miles. A time I could be proud of seemed unlikely, but there wasn't too much to do about it besides getting on the bike and starting to crank.

For the bike, I brought two bottles of Infinite Go Far, a Cliff bar and three Gu packs. At the two water stops, I picked up a bottle of water and then a bottle of Gatorade. All together, I put on around 1100-1200 calories with about 150-200 carbs on the bike. I'm not a nutrition buff, so I'm not sure if those are good totals. I do know that this was a much better plan/result than Liberty.

The bike course felt pretty flat, but my watch had it at 1200 ft of elevation change. At least it was less hills than Liberty. I tried to stay in aero as much as possible; I though this would help my back pain from the last few days. It worked pretty well. My back was stiff by the end of the ride, but not beyond reason. The elevation map make it look like there is a big climb about 30 miles in, but it was a puppy. There are worse climbs on many courses. The down hill was a bit scary. I had the breaks on but still hit 30 mph. Many folks were flying down the hill and must'a been hitting 40 mph. They can have it; I'm fine riding the break and not fearing for my life.

After an hour of biking, I was averaging about 18.5 mph. After the screaming downhill, I was at at a 19.1 mph average over the first 30 miles. At this point, I knew I had a shot at some good times. I was feeling good and going fast (for my standards).

I lost plenty of average speed on a couple climbs and when we turned back into the breeze. My watch says it was about a 10 mph breeze, but I passed a flag at about the 40 mile mark which was limp. I convinced myself that there was no wind, and I was just being a bitch on the last hour of the bike. I tried to pick it up, and I finished strong. Easily a personal best.
Bike Time:  3:07:05 with and 18 mph average

Bike Rank:  326 out of 508 bike finishers
                   240 out of 308 males
                   25 out of 32 age groupers

Goal:  Around 3:30
Actual:  Pretty Good
My bike time was about the same as Liberty, but the Liberty course was about 1.5 miles short. I had this course at almost exactly 56 miles.

In T2 I had half a banana, changed my shoes, sprayed on some sun screen and got on my way. There was a volunteer at the run-out yelling, "Runner, come to me! This way to the run course!" He got me up moving; the volunteers for the race were awesome. It was a very well run race. Maybe I'll be back next year. I felt good starting the run. This wasn't going to be like Liberty; I was going to run this course. My start time on the run was around three hours and fifty seven minutes.
T2 Time:  3:02

Positions:  300 off the bike
                  292 out of T2  (508 bike finishers)

Run 13.1 miles
Goal:  Around 2:40-2:45
Actual:  They should write folk songs about me!
I had some legs left for the run! I'll never be fast compared to the field, but this was a great run for me. The course is pretty flat; I had it at 495 feet of elevation change. There are some rollers, but I only remember one uphill of consequence. However, that was at about the ten mile mark, so it probably felt like more climb than it really was.
After a couple miles I knew I could keep a pace. After that, I just tried to find a rate that would keep me running from one water stop to the next. I walked through the water stops, and I also stopped at the Porta John around mile five.

I was trying to keep my total average pace around eleven minutes per mile. After eight miles I was above that mark. I was doing some math and wondering how much I was going to fade when I realized that doing the last five miles in an hour would put me under a 2:30 run and a 6:30 race. Twelve minute miles were my new goal, and I probably eased up a little too much based on time instead of going for max effort. Anyhoo, on the finish I knew I was close to 2:30, but I also knew I wrecked 6:30. I would have juiced it if I had anything left, but the gas tank was empty. I also fought a side cramp for the last mile. It would have been nice to break 2:30, but 13 seconds can't take this feeling away from me.
Run Time:  2:30:13 with an 11:29 min/mile pace

Run Rank:  371 out of 485 run finishers
                  234 out of 297 males
                  27 out of 31 age groupers

Total Time 6:27:13
I could not be more happy with my total time. I cut twenty five minutes off my run time compared to Liberty. My best ever half marathon is around 2:15, and that's without the 4 hour build up. I really didn't think 2:30 would be possible for me. My swim seemed slow, but I beat the overall, male and wetsuit averages. And, my bike was another personal best. It's entirely possible that I will never be this fast in a 70.3 race again. I genuinely have never felt this good about myself in my entire life.

Position:  336 out of 485 finishers
                228 out of 297 males
                23 out of 31 age groupers

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Graniteman Clearwater

Graniteman Relay
Clearwater MN
0.9 miles/ 28.6 miles/ 6.2 miles
Sunday, July 10

I think I took too much time off between races. It seems like Liberty was an awfully long time ago. I guess this gave me plenty of recovery and training time, but it's been a little boring.

To get some heat training into the rotation, I've started doing a swim/run workout on Wednesday afternoons. It's usually around 2300 yard in the pool and then a six mile run. Beyond that, things have been similar.  Bike, run and strength training twice a week and swimming once a week. I ran 13 miles the day before Clearwater, and it took the ambition right out of me.  When I woke up to thunderstorms on raceday, I really wanted to just skip the race. But, I made the hour + drive for Bull and it ended up being a nice dry race.

Once on site, my race prep was actually a little interesting.  I couldn't get my bike pump to work on my front tire.  It only needed a little top off, but I couldn't get any air in.  I did, however, let plenty air out.  After about five or ten minutes I finally got it to work, and I got my tire inflated. Unfortunatly, I also busted off part of the valve. I did the same thing to the rear tire about a week earlier, and it held up for 40 miles. I hoped/figured this time around it would hold out or the 29 miles for the race. (It was fine.)

Busted on left, replaced on right.

After I met up with Bull and set up transition, I stopped be the bike guys and had'em take a look at my tire and my gears. He said the tire should be good for the race, but I should replace soon after.  He adjusted my gears for a bit of slipping. I did not notice that when I got my bike back, it was left in the hardest possible gear.

Swim 0.9 miles
Goal: Under 30 minutes, 1:40 min/100yds
Actual: Better than it felt

I think my Liberty swim will haunt me as my big fail of the summer. I was hoping to go much faster at Clearwater and then again at Toughman in a couple weeks. I went off in the third wave with the other relays and the 50+ crowd, and those cats cat swim.  I was thinking I could out-pace the old guys, but I was even with a couple folks the whole way and a few of'em blew up my time pretty good.  My shoulders were sore the entire swim, and I thought that meant I was going slow.  However, I ended up with a pretty respectable time.  I can't complain.
Swim Time: 26:00 minutes, 1:39 min/100yds

Bike 28.6 miles
Goal: Beat the 18.8 mph time from last year
Actual: Everyone else was faster

I ended up biking scared most of the first 14 mile loop, and that probably cost me a bit of time. Transition was quick and clean. I hopped on after the mount line and finally noticed that my bike was in the hard gear.  The start of the bike is also uphill.  I gave it one go, and hopped off when I slowly swerved off the road. I gave it a second go, and fell over/crashed, while standing still, clipped in. I felt like a pretty big ass at that point. Some ladies where cheering the bikers and told me I was doing great. I get that they were being positive, but if I fall after going ten feet and then walk my bike up a hill, just go ahead and shut your mouth. I am not doing great.

Anyhoo, I walked to the top of the hill and was on my way.  My first mile was a 12 mph.  About 3 miles in, the guy ahead of me swerved onto the dirt shoulder and crashed hard. He was up quick so I didnt stop, but he took a shot.  He did, however, pass me a few miles later. He was cut up a bit and had some road rash, but he was faster than me.

So, I was a little gun shy for the aero position on the first loop of the bike.  I rode upright and cost my self a bit of time.  The second loop was pretty lonely. I passed one guy early in the loop, and I don't know if I was anyone else for the rest of the course. I was pretty happy with my time, until I compared other to everyone else.  I did an 18.4 mph bike, and the average was over 20 mph.  There were only 64 olympic racers, so that means I was nearly the slowest.  The only person I passed on the bike was a 64 year old man.   I was passed by 25 people, almost half the field.

Bull did the run and he broke and hour for the 10k.  A pretty good time that I'm sure I could not match.  We were the only male relay team for the Olympic course, so I guess we won and also got last place.  That feels about right.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fun with Standard Deviation

The graph above shows how many standard deviations from the field average my event times were for each of my triathlons (z-score). Negative is slower and positive is faster than the average. As you can see, my first race in Chaska was a turd. Since then my sprints have been above average, my olympics below average (but respectable) and this graph makes my 70.3 look like a fail.

Look at the graph a bit closer and you'll see that my total time for my last two sprints we almost the same with respect to the field average.
Hopkins:     0.368 standard deviations = 64th percentile and
New Bri Tri: 0.330 standard deviations = 63rd percentile

Similarly, the rankings on my two Olympic length races are nearly the same.
Bemidji:        -0.341 = 37th percentile and
Lake Marion: -0.374 = 35th percentile

Each of those races had their own quirks (length, wind, humidity, hills, give-up factor (Marion), holding back factor (New Bri)), but the numbers are too close to resist.  So, I had an average drop off of 0.706 standard deviations from my sprint times to my my Olympic times.  If I had the same drop off going from the Olympic to the 70.3 length, that would have put me at -1.064 = 14th percentile. As it happens, my time came in at -1.309 = 19th percentile when compared to the average.  It's more so the back of the pack instead of the middle of the pack, but I'll take it.

Also, my Liberty long course bike didn't drop off at all when compared to my Olympic effort.
Bemidji (20 miles):  -0.562 = 29th percentile
Marion (26 miles):   -0.515 = 30th percentile
Liberty (55 miles):   -0.562 = 29th percentile

I kinda laid an egg on the Liberty swim, but we'll try to get'em next time. Anyhoo, even without the numbers I'm happy with my first 70.3 effort; the numbers just make it a little more fun.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Liberty Triathlon 70.3 Recap

Liberty Triathlon
Rockford, MN
Saturday, June 11, 2016
1.2 mile/ 56 mile/ 13.1 mile

Ooff, where do I start?  It was a long day of racing, and it was a long span of training to get to this race.  Now that it's all done, I suppose I'll call it a success.  It didn't go quite as well as I  hoped, but it was a good first effort at the half-ironman distance.


In the five weeks leading up to this race I was averaging about 7.5 hours a week for training. I didn't use a training plan, I just kind of go with what feels right on a given day. My long bike in training was a 40 mile/ 10 mile brick.  My long run was a half marathon, which I did a couple times.  I often swim the 1.2 miles or longer in the lap pool.

I did this race with my sister.  She's done many sprint and olympic triathlons and a couple marathons. Her strength is the run, and she kicked my butt on that leg of the race (more later).  I met up with her on the morning of the race in the transition area, and prepped our stuff for the day ahead. The race site was only about 50 minutes from my house, so I just drove up race day morning.  

The weather predictions for race day were the same all week: hot, sunny, humid, no wind and no rain. The predictions were right on.  The temp started around  72° and it was over 90° when I finished.  It was pretty uncomfortable, but it still was better than rain and wind.

Swim 1.2 miles
Goal: Under a 1:50 min/100 yds average, hopefully under 38 minutes
Actual:  Not really even close. 

I'm not really sure what happened on the swim. It was a beautiful morning for a swim.  It was in the low 70's and no wind.  The lake looked like glass it was so calm.  The water temp was in the 70's as well, and with a wet suit on it couldn't have been a better morning for a swim.  

I went off in the second wave with age groupers 39 years old and under. It was a pretty big group; we probably had 50 people or more.  This was the roughest start that I seen thus far. I gave and received kicks and hits. After a hundred yards or two, things started to thin out.  I had a swim in the pool a week ago where my left arm and hand fell asleep, and it kinda freaked my out.  Since then, I stopped a lot of my upper body strength training and dialed it back a bit on the swimming.  I'm not sure what was up with my arm in the pool, but everything felt fine on race day.  

After the first couple hundred yards, I got into what I thought was a good rhythm.  I felt like I was working similar to the previous week in New Brighton (1:44 min/ 100 yds).  I had set my watch to alarm when I hit 17:30 into the swim; I figured this would be a good gauge for my pace.  When the watch went off, I was a bit short of the halfway point.  However, I must have covered the first half of the swim in 18 to 19 minutes.  I slowed way down on the swim back to shore.  It didn't feel like I slowed my pace, and I had plenty left in the take.  I guess I just underestimated my speed.  It wasn't a big blow to the time, but my ego took a hit.  Usually I can hang my hat on my swim time, but this time around I didn't even beat the male average.

Swim Time: 40:10 with a 1:55 min/100 yds average
Swim Rank: 115 out of 225 swim finishers
                       83 out of 144 males
                       17 out of 22 age groupers                       

My time is noted in green.

Goal: On the Bike by the 40 minute mark
Actual: Never had a chance
I knew that if I was on the bike by 40 minutes, then a 17 mph bike and a 11:30 run would break 6:30 for the race. As it was, I figured 4 minutes in T1 would put me around 44 minutes at the start the bike.  By my race day memory, that would mean I needed 17.3-17.4 mph to start the run by the 4 hour mark.  I had forgotten to take the wrapper off my gatorade before the race, so I had to frantically work on that in T1. That probably cost me about half a minute; not a big loss for a long race.  I threw on my shoes (and socks), walked my bike out and mounted after the line.
T1 Time:   3:52
Positions:  115 out of the water, 
                   129 out of T1

Bike 56 about 55 miles
Goal: At least 17mph, Hopefully closer to 18mph
Actual: Pretty good

My plan was to eat a couple cliff bars in the first couple hours, and then switch to Gu for the rest of the day. I think the temp got to me, because my gut didn't want the cliff bars. After about 10 miles and half a bar, I knew is was going to be just a Gu day. My lost carbs probably hurt me a little bit, but the water was a bigger problem.

I knew I was going to spend more than 3 hours on the bike.  I figured I was going to need at least three bottles of water/gatorade.  My bike carries two.  My plan was to drink my two and then pick up a bottle at the mile 42 bottle exchange.  The guy ahead of got the last bottle, I got nothing. They temporary ran out of water at the bottle exchange (My sister got some water when she passed by later).  Let's go ahead and repeat that: THEY RAN OUT OF WATER ON THE 55 MILE BIKE COURSE ON A DAY WITH A HEAT ADVISORY!  I'm sure it was just a miscalculation, or some sort of lag in communication, but that is straight up bullshit.  This meant I was stuck for about the last 12 miles (40 minutes), during the hottest part of the ride, without any fluids.  This one definitely cost me a little bit of time.

Otherhows, the bike course was pretty nice.  The nine miles from the lake to the loop was pretty flat. The first corner of the loop has the most hills and the rest of the loop is rollers.  My watch clocked it a 1400 ft of up hill; that's very similar to my long bike ride route at home. Most of the course is on pretty nice roads, but there was one stretch where the shoulder was loose gravel.  I just stayed on the road for that part, and it was fine.  

I had the course at 54.6 miles.  I may believe a story that it was 55 miles long, but there is no chance it was 56 miles.  The official results used 56 miles to calculate average speed, so all the speeds are inflated.  My speed on the official results is listed at 17.9 mph, my watch had me at 17.5, and I recalculated everyone's speed for my table based on a 55 mile course.  Eight people didn't finish the bike, and an additional nine people finished the bike but did not log a T2 split.  I don't know what's normal for a 70.3 race, but we had 24 out of 225 people (more than a 10%) dropout after finishing the swim.

Bike Time:  3:07:30 with a 17.6 mph average.
Bike Rank: 159 out of 217 bike finishers
                     121 out of 140 males
                     19 out of 21 age groupers

Goal: Start the run by the 4 hour mark
Actual: Time to spare.
Having the bike course be a mile short made the 4 hour mark easy to hit.  I started the run at 3:54:57. Even with the full 56 miles I would have been pretty close to the 4:00 goal. I hosed myself down with sunscreen in T2.  It turned out that I got a pretty good sunburn from the bike. That might have hurt me on the run course as well. Otherhows, T2 wasn't too interesting. I walked in, changed shoes, grabbed my visor and water belt and I was on my way.  I had a phone in my water belt so that Tina could track me from home and come see me at the finish line. 
T2 Time:  3:26
Positions: 153 off the bike out of 217 bike finishers
                  146 out of T2 out of 208 racers with a T2 split

Run 13.1 miles
Goal: 2.5 hours
Actual: Not close, but still proud

I didn't have a whole lot left in the tank by the time I came to the run start.  It was probably a combination of the heat, failed water stop on the bike, failing to eat much on the bike and minimalist training.  

I have decided to only run twice a week.  I was getting in three (maybe four) runs a week in before I hurt my foot in March, but after that I cut back.  In place of additional running, I now do strength training twice a week (about 40 minutes each time).  I do a lot of hip and thigh stuff with resistance bands and some upper body stuff with some hand weights.  It seems to do the trick; my knees have felt much better since I started this routine in March.  Two runs a week really isn't enough to build any speed, but I'll take slow runs and minimal pain over the alternative.  

Anyhoo, coming out of T2 I walked for the first few minutes. I ate a banana and hit the first water stop pretty good (plenty of water there, what a shocking plan).  I wore my water belt, but the gatorade I carried was quite warm from sitting in the sun for four hours.  I'll have to put some ice in the bottles next time.  The run course has a fair amount of hills.  A couple of the climbs are tough, but it's no worse than my 13 mile run at home.  I gave it a shot for about three miles, and then I had to pull back. I genuinely contemplated walking off the course at that three mile mark. There was no way I was going to be able to keep any sort of reasonable pace for the entire run.  Having a DNF would have killed me, so I pressed on.  I started walking all of the up hill parts. This put me at about only a 13.5 min/mile clip, but it was all I had in the tank. There was a good amount of shade on the run, but the heat was killing me. The water stops were well stocked and no one minded if you took a cool cup shower at each stop.  After about 9 miles I had to stop the splashing because my shoes were getting water logged.  

I saw Nic at the turn around and noted that she was only about 10 minutes behind me. That meant she was going to beat me.  Her swim wave went off 12 minutes after me. I tried to use that to get my legs to fire again, but they were shot.  There were points where I really didn't think I could even make it up some modest uphills at a walking pace, but I managed to keep going. The only stopping I did on the run portion was at the water stations.  After seeing Nic and noting how fresh she looked, I figured that she was going to pass me at any minute.  That would have bothered me a bit, because that would mean she bested me by over 12 minutes.  As it worked out, she never physically caught me.  She beat me on the run be 26 minutes, and overall she beat my time by 5 minutes.  I'll take it.  She's a monster, I didn't expect to beat her.

At the end of my run the temp was into the 90's and the heat index was pushing toward triple digits. At least I got through the entire course; 16 people finished the bike but did not finish the run.  Out of those 16, there were 11 people ahead of me before the run.  I'm sure some of those folks had already completed some 70.3 races and it just wasn't worth it to finish in these conditions, or maybe this was just a warm-up race and not worth getting injured.  Either way, it was tough conditions and I was happy to move up a couple spots by completing the race.

Run Time:   2:55:36 with a 13:25 average
Run Ranks: 169 out of 201 finishers
                      115 out of 129 male finishers
                      17 out of 19 age group finishers

Which way to the gun show?

Total 6:50:32
Positions:  163 out of 201 finishers
                   115 out of 129 males
                   17 out of 19 age groupers

Stacked Time Comparison
Here's a look at my times compared to the male and field averages.  It's not too impressive, but I hung in there pretty well until the run. I have Toughman 70.3 in July, maybe I can knock off a couple minutes on the swim and 10 or 15 minutes on the run.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

New Bri Tri Recap 2016

Thank god, race season is finally here!

I did the New Bri Tri (0.5 miles/ 14 miles/ 3 miles) as a warm-up race for Liberty 70.3.  The two races are a week apart.  I had never actually tried doing a race where I cared more about staying healthy that posting a good time, but this went pretty well.

The weather was predicted to be thunderstorms for much of the week. If the swim had gotten canceled, I would have skipped the race.  I had no interest in doing a wet bike/run like in Minnetonka last year.  As it worked out, race morning was a little chilly, but there was no rain in the morning forecast.  The sun poked out while I was in the lake, and the bike and the run were quite pleasant for temperature.  There wind never kicked up throughout the race.

Swim 0.5 miles
Goal: Don't get hurt, and less than 1:50 per 100 yds average
Actual: Nailed it.

The lake was cold, but my wet suit kept my body plenty warm.  My head was a different story.  I had some issues adjusting to the cold on my face and head. I was in the water before the race started, but that didn't help the shock once I got to my wave start.  In the first two hundred yards, I almost went to my back because my freak-out was making me breath like a maniac. After a while, I decided I just had to slow down. After I paced myself a bit, things fell into place.  I got into a nice rhythm and started to breath easy.  By the half way point I passed some folks from the heat that went off before us. I set my watch for a ten minute reminder before the race, and when that went off I could see that I was on pace for a pretty reasonable time. It seemed like this swim was mapped out pretty well.  My watch had it at 0.52 miles, which is closer than most races.

Swim Time:  14:54, a 1:42 per 100 yards pace
Swim Rank:  52 out of 164 finishers
                       40 out of 105 males
                       5 out of 17 age groupers

My time is noted in green.

Swim Exit

Goal:  Don't break my bike cleats
Actual:  Good enough
I'm still not really sure how I want to run transition with my new bike.  I'm not wild about the idea of running with my cleats on, but I'm also not confident in a start where I hop on my bike with my shoes already on the pedals. I'll have to get in a little practice before next week at Liberty.  As it was, I walked out of transition with my shoes on and started my bike time slowly. A lot of folks passed me in T1. There were 13 people who I beat out of the water that then passed me in T1, and I never got close to them again.

T1 Time:  2:33
Positions:  52 out of the water
                   66 out of T1 (164 finishers)

Bike (14 miles  about 12.5 miles)
Goal:  Don't get hurt, 18 or 19 mph
Actual:  Nailed it.

I screwed up my watch at the start of the swim. I wanted to use the setting that times the race as a multisport event, but I started it as just a swim. I figured this out once I got on the bike.  So, I coasted the first minute of the bike while I jacked around with my watch trying to get things right. After that, I was off like a shot.
It was a pretty flat course; I got a fair amount of practice on the aero bars. I slowed down quite a bit to cross the railroad tracks 3 or 4 times, but the volunteers and cops did a great job at the intersections to keep my speed up the rest of the way. There wasn't much wind, and only a couple drops of rain. I had a drafting pair/team pass me at about 10 miles which seemed pretty silly. If you don't care or know about the sport's rules, I guess that's your problem.
The race is billed as a 14 mile bike, but there is no way that is true.  Using the gps on my watch, I estimate the bike course at about 12.5 miles.  There's no chance that I cut a mile and a half on tight corners. The results sheet had the averages based on 14 miles, so the speeds are all inflated.  I only captured about 12.4 miles on my watch after all my troubles.  For those 12.4 miles I clocked in at 18.9 mph.  With the added length and the time from the race sheet I dropped about half a mph.  I also recalculated the speed numbers for everyone using a 12.5 mile bike. One lady was still at 32mph after the adjustment; the second fastest bike time was 25.5 mph.  I assume the 32 mph is a tech error or a cheat. Either way, I threw her out of my results.

Bike Time:  41:22 with an 18.3 mph average
Bike Rank:  79 out of 164 finishers
                      64 out of 105 males
                      11 out of 17 age groupers

Don't fall of the bike or break my cleats.
Actual:  Nailed it.
The "it" that I nailed was a tent set up over the "bike in" mat at T2.  I guess it's made for short people because I nailed my head on the canopy.  Luckily, I was still wearing my helmet. Anyhoo, T2 was otherwise uneventful. I dismounted at the line, walked into T2, changed shoes and was on my way.  I only drank a little Gatorade on the bike, so I had one more hit before the run.  My total transition was about 30 seconds slower than the average total.  I'll take that.  I can try to speed it up a little next week, but I'll take a 30 second deficit all day.

T2 Time:  1:21
Positions:  71 off the bike
                   73 out of T2 (164 finishers)

Run (3 miles)
Goal:  Don't get hurt, under a 10:00 mile average.
Actual:  Nailed it.
I guess I started off a little over cooked on the run. About four minutes in I realized I was huffing like a water buffalo and my heart was racing. The last thing I wanted to do at this race was overcook it and hurt my knees. I pulled back on the reins and found an easy pace.  After that, it was easy going.  I suppose it was too easy.  I was passed by 12 people on the run, and I passed no one. However, I was going at a pretty good pace for me, so I just tried to breath easy and enjoyed the run. It was great to see my family at the finish line, and I very much enjoyed this race.

Run Time:  27:27 with a 9:09 per mile average.
Run Rank:  100 out of 164 finishers
                      72 out of 105 males
                      11 out of 17 age groupers

Total Time:  1:27:35
Overall Ranks:  85 out of 164 finishers
                            68 out of 105 males
                            11 out of 17 age groupers

Time Comparison
Looking at my times, I had the average male racer beat before the run.  Of course, that blew up on the run, but we're going to call it a win.  Even if I did try to over-cook the run, I don't think I could have dropped 30 seconds per mile. For a "B race" this was all pretty good.  I didn't get hurt, I had fun and I went at a pretty good clip. I always wish I could run faster, but right now I'm just happy I can run without too much knee pain.

Next Up

LIBERTY 70.3!  My long race of the year is this week and I think I'm ready. If not, I believe I couldn't be more ready.  My foot is completely better from the injury I had in March. Besides a small amount of knee pain and some shoulder trouble recently, I really couldn't feel better going into Liberty. It looks like it's going to be hot; it might get into the 90's.  I haven't done any training in heat yet this year, but that's only because we haven't had any heat. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Missed Again

Well, I missed the the marathon again. Two years in a row. This time, I hurt my right foot on a run about six weeks out, and I was out of running for a few weeks. It felt the same as my break last spring, but the x-rays were negative. The doc said it may have been a stress fracture, but only an MRI would have confirmed that. As it was, I was off running for a few weeks, and actually came back stronger. In my time off, I started doing twice a week leg and hip exercises with resistance bands. Before, I had been doing it maybe once a week. Also, when I got back on the road I started doing a short bike (trainer) before each run. I don't know which is doing the trick, but my knees and feet haven't felt this good in a couple years. My foot Injury also took me out of the MN ironman bike ride. Now, we're 3 weeks out from the Liberty 70.3 race. I feel pretty good. I did a half marathon this weekend in 2:16. Not a terrible time for cold and windy. I'm never going to be fast. I did a 35 mile road bike a couple weeks back at a 17.2 mph average. Again, not too fast, but I felt good at the end of it. I did a two hour trainer and a 7 mile run the week before that, and that went great. I had a 9:40 pace on the run. My last big brick is going to be this weekend. Probably about a 40/10. We'll see how it goes. It's finally warming up outside, so I need to put in some more road miles on the bike.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

2016 Plans

We did the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics last weekend. Tradition dictates that it's now time to finalize the race plans for the summer. Incidentally, this year our team raised a total of $1900. A lot of that was due to my sister in law, Mindy.  Lots of dough, lots of fun.

My toe has healed, and my knees are finally getting back into the running.  I put on around 20 miles in January, and I think I'm over the hump.  I'll try to start ticking up the mileage again, and we'll see if the body can take it.  The six weeks off for my broken toe cost me about 10 lbs.  Some of that is the usual winter/off-season weight, and some is beer/chips weight.  Plenty of time to drop some bills, but I kinda feel like a tool for over doing the lazy.

Once again, I am signed up for the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon on Saturday, May 14 ($55).  I signed up in the fall before I broke my foot.  I had hoped it would be a long slow build to the race, but once again I am under a time crunch.  I'll give it a shot, but this isn't my top priority for the summer.

My sister and I have decided to tick up the triathlon length and try a 70.3 race.  We are signed up for the Liberty Triathlon at Lake Rebecca on Saturday, June 11 ($90+$12 usat, 1.2 mile/ 56 mile/ 13.1 mile).  I don' like the idea of putting all the training on one race, so I am also going to sign up for the Minnesota Toughman Triathlon in Chisago on Sunday, July 24 ($120+$12 usat, 1.2 mile/ 56 mile/ 13.1 mile).  This will put me in a marathon and two 70.3's in the span of ten weeks.  It's a bit ambitious, but it's what I want to do.  Might as well give it a shot.

I'm going to try to prep for the 70.3 race by doing the Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride ($35, 60 mile bike ride).  I'm not really sure how they get away with calling it the Minnesota Ironman, I would guess that they may have had the name before Kona blew up.  It's the 50th year for the ride.  Anyhoo, it's an untimed, noncompetitive, organized ride. I figure its a good way to tick off some miles and feel a bit more safe on the road.

The week before the Liberty Triathlon in June, I'm going to do the New Bri Tri.  It's a sprint triathlon in New Brighton ($70, 0.5 mile/ 14 mile/ 3 mile).  I figure it will be a good way to get in the lake before the long swim.  Also, if I can't pull off a hour and a half workout by a week before the 70.3, then I'm in super trouble.

Two more are on the schedule.  The Granitman Clearwater Olympic relay on Sunday, July 10 ($55 each, 0.9 mile/ 28.66 mile /6.2 mile).  I'll be doing this with Bull again this year.  I'll take the swim/bike and he will take the run.  I'm pretty sure this will be his first 10k, hopefully he has some fun with it. Again, this will mostly just be a workout day.  It's not often that I get in a swim bike, so this will be  a nice workout before the July 70.3.

Last on the schedule is the Lifetime Fitness Maple Grove Olympic Triathlon on Saturday, July 27 ($115+$12 usat, 0.93 mile/ 23 mile/ 6.2 mile).  I really wanted to go back to the Lake Marion Triathlon, but it is on the same day as a family event that I have in Wisconsin; bummer.  Anyhoo, this will wrap up the season and see if the long course work helps tick down my Olympic time.  It's almost two miles short of the 40K on on the bike, so I'm thinking 3 hours will be my time to beat.  This will give me three races with the $12 usat one day membership.  A yearly membership is only $45, I may just kick in the extra few buck to be a member this year.

I'm probably going to stay away from Surf the Murph this year.  It seems like that race always ends up with my knees injured.  The big day this year will be Monday, September 12.  That is the day that registration opens up for Ironman Wisconsin 2017.  That's the plan.