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.