- Didn't do as well as I could have (2:01:53)
- Under-ate the day/morning before & bonked after the first hour. Ate raisins, and a gel and felt good for the last 30 minutes, but lost time through the middle...
April 29: Road Ends 5-mile (Trail Run)
- Finished last in my age group, and 309 out of 341 (1:09:15.9)
- Ate & prepared well.
June 17: XTERRA Torn Shirt (1/2 Triathlon)
I started, back in March, running VERY short distances. I haven't run in years. I started with 3 minutes, and whoa was it a strain (don't laugh, well only a little please, and to yourself). Two days later 2 sets 3 minutes. Two days after that, 12 minutes, with a few walking-rests. Then, after a week in Missouri cycling on some hilly roads, and trails, I ran 24 minutes. Then 3 days before my race (above), I ran for an hour.
After that "warm-up" and before my race, I read up on efficient and injury-free running form(s). Apparently there are a few that share some aspects, and differ in a few. I bought the book and DVD for "Evolution Running." Generally, what I've taken from it, and am practicing, so far is:
- Keep a high cadence - 180 steps per minute, to get optimal energy from your springy tissues
- Land, softly, on the fore-foot, with your foot under your hips
- Lean slightly forward - feel more like falling forward, than jumping/landing
- Limit vertical motion
- Proper motion is more like sweeping the leg fore-aft, pulling the foot into the ground with your glutes
This is where I think I've progressed the most. Day 1, swam 400 yards in 20 minutes (but each 50 yards was a killer, with 20 seconds, or so, of rest on the wall). Two days later, 500 yards in 20 minutes - progress, but felt slow, flailing. I decided to read-up on swimming form, and found the "Total Immersion" series of books & DVDs by Terry Laughlin.
The focus is on practicing efficient forms and motions, slowly and patiently, and never practicing "struggle" until you develop competence in the drills. I only drilled for about 3 weeks (2-3 20-30 minute sessions per week). Tonight, I decided to drill for 4 lengths, then complete 10 laps (20 lengths) without stopping at the wall (though I would kick along in "sweet spot" taking several breaths - practicing my open-water rest). It took maybe 8 laps for it all to come together (I won't say I'm a master), but when it did, I felt like I could go on for an hour. I completed 15 laps, only stopping to allow other swimmers in the lane to move along. I "lapped" one guy 3 times.
These days, biking is done before running or after swimming. Due to time constraints, I'm doing mostly hill repeats in the neighborhood (followed by running or jump-rope). I'm riding to and from the pool - about 3 miles away. I'll add on some more distance on the ride home, as I get into it. On weekends, I plan to do a 1-2 hour road ride, or 1 hour trail ride.
August 11: Ore to Shore (48 Mile Hardrock)
- Following the xterra, will have to return to a "Time Crunched Cyclist" plan (likely combined with a strength program, like this spring)
It's August 12, 1 day after the race, and it's all a bit of a blur - well a blur with some clear bits. First of all - I did pretty well. Well, not really in a competitive sense. I finished in 4 hours, 18 minutes, 21.4 seconds. 628th out of 707 total entrants, 543 out of 595 men, and 105 out of 114 men aged 35-39.
I finished well in terms of:
- Feeling I trained as well as I could have, and sufficient to complete the race feeling good
- Feeling I was riding well among who I perceived as my peers in the race
- Feeling my bike was well tuned, oiled, inflated, etc.
- Front tire 28 psi, rear tire 35 psi (kind of low for a big guy)
- Chain cleaned in warm mineral spirits, and then soaked in warm White Lightning Wet Ride chain lube (a thick, synthetic chain oil)
- Shock at 103 PSI (I like plush)
- Feeling I had the right amount & type of food & drink with me
- About 2000 calories the previous day (and for breakfast) in the form of a sweet potato, raisin & honey race mush in addition to that day's meals.
- 8 Honey Stinger Ginsting Gels
- 3 Bottles Gatorade with protein (4:1 carb/protein, 2 carried at a time, family swapped me 1) + 3 bottles filled at aid stations + 3 little aid station cups
- Feeling I rode at about the right pace. There were times I felt I could have pushed harder, but there were times I cramped up and was thankful I rode the last hill at the pace I did...
Got to the starting line a little more than an hour early. For 700+ racers, and not much explanation about the starting process, things were very calm, there was plenty of room to park (within blocks of the start), and the seeding/line-up process was very self explanatory. Made a trip to the port-a-johns, and the playground (for the kids), back to the starting line to set my mind at ease, then back to the port-a-johns, and back to the start just in time for an announcement, downing a gel, the star-spangled-banner (I sang), and the roll-out.
Now, when I got to the starting line, I was the only bike behind the 3:50+ (finishing time) sign. By the race start there were hundreds of bikes behind me... So when the gun went off, I spent the first few miles of the race being constantly and rapidly passed. I focused on cadence (95-100 RPM) more than speed. I didn't want to be panting early in the race. I can't even really saw what I saw, until the sign that said "48 miles to go" ugghh.
A guy at the start warned me that in the first climb a lot of people walk because they're not expecting it. I was doing pretty good, until the girl in front of me grabbed her brake for no apparent reason, so off the bike I went.
At the beginning the signs every mile calling out the distance remaining were a drag... Every 5 miles might have generated an "all right", but every mile: "uggh". I know why (so you can report a downed rider's position).
Generally, I do very well on climbs. I'm fast to hit the granny gear switch on the left, and I just spin up, so on the "reasonable" climbs I rode past people. Many passed me back, but I wore a few down.
I'd say I do very well on descents. At the beginning I didn't think much of it - pass a few people here and there. Toward the end of the race, I yearned for the "Warning Fast Descent" sign - I really craved gravity's aid in making it through each next mile. I bombed down some rocky, sandy downhills.
...to be continued
...to be continued
November 3: Iceman Cometh (29 mile)
Not much to say between Ore to Shore and Iceman. I quit my job, took a new one, and moved from Detroit to Chicago. A priority was maintaining my training and racing schedule. There were some hiccups and frustrating weeks, but I felt pretty well trained, fueled, and rested for the Iceman. Here's a photo near the finish. Still in good spirits. Some hints of cramping in the last 10 miles (lost a bottle of EFS - had to drink Heed, which I think has less electrolytes). Yes that's snow.
Overall, my first full season was great. I learned the importance of eating enough the day before and morning of a race in Barry-Roubaix. I rode a 4+ hour race. I lost some weight, and generally had a lot of fun. My wife and kids were at all of my races. Either my parents or in-laws were at each race. Pretty nice, at "middle age" to have "grown-ups" in your cheering section.
Early in the season, I had grand plans to "upgrade" the race machine to some new/light carbon full suspension race bike for next year. After contemplation, I just decided to get a new frame for the 2007 Cannondale Caffeine 29er that's served me so well. I got a large, 2009 frame for just over $300. I needed BB30 cranks (another $150), and a new rear wheel ($200). I think this bike will serve me well another 5 years. It's light, strong, stiff, and just plain comfortable.
Next year I may do as many triathlons as bike races. Conditioning for swimming and running will better address my fitness weaknesses... As an old guy, weight bearing exercise is good. As a fat guy, what it takes to become more competitive as a runner (not being fat) will serve me well all-around. Next year, I think I'll do the Barry-Roubaix in March, the Ore to Shore in August, and the Iceman in the fall, but I think I'll find a 1/2 Triathlon to do in the spring, a full triathlon to do in the summer. I think the Chicago triathlon is in the fall - so that would be a season to look forward to.