Monday, October 26, 2009

Karsten Triathlon weekend!

This weekend was the Monster Triathlon in Keller, TX. Brady's race on Saturday, and Melanie and I on Sunday. It's a long one!!! Doubt you'll read it to the end all in one setting. Sorry, but I'm just so darn proud of Brady and Melanie that I want to talk mostly about them.

Brady's big day

Saturday, Oct 24, was Brady's first ever official triathlon! It was a 25 meter swim, 1 mile bike, and 0.33 mile run. In the days leading up to it, you could tell Brady was really nervous about it. We just told him that being nervous is normal, but it's nothing to be scared of or worried about. He did pretty well with that.

We go to start the swim; they used 6 lanes with 2 kids per lane. They didn't allow the next 12 kids to start until all of the previous 12 were out of the pool. The 4-6 year old age group was up first. First wave goes off, Brady's quiet. The only time he talks is to say, "I wish I could just start." Second wave goes off. I'm trying to distract him by talking to him and asking him random stuff. Again, the only words he says is, "I wish I could just go ahead and start already." Third wave. Now comes Brady's turn. Oh my gosh...I can't tell you how nervous I was for him. I was more nervous for him than I have ever been at one of my own races, and probaby 10-fold more nervous at that. He goes to get into the water and hang on the wall to wait for the start, but he won't go in all the way. I tell him he needs to get down in further, but he only wants to sit with his feet hanging over and not in all the way. I'm thinking, "Oh no, he's getting too nervous and is wanting to back out." I tell him I'm proud of him and he'll do great. The whistle blows. I hold my breath to see how he responds. Boom! He jumps off without hesitation ready to have at it! Whew, one obstacle down. I am watching him while walking around to the other side of the pool to meet him. My heart just sinks as I see all the other kids swimming fast and Brady is really struggling to keep moving forward. My heart sank because I didn't want him to get discouraged or upset by this. I get to the other end of his lane. The other 11 kids are all done and he's about 3/4 the way finished. Everyone is cheering him on. He's barely moving forward (he has a life vest on, so not sinking) and I'm just hoping he doesn't panic and want to quit. I have to admit that I started to get choked up; I just wanted to make sure he was going to have fun and enjoy this. At one point, it looked like he was going to stop and he grabbed onto the lane line. In only a fraction of a second, he let go as if to say, "no way am I giving up now!" He continued on and finished the swim in about 5 and a half minutes...I have never been so proud of him for his perseverence and determination. Hell, I'm even getting choked up now just writing about it.

It was very cold out, so when he got out of the pool, I dried him off best I could before going outside. We went to T1 and did a quick change to dry clothes due to temps in 50s, then got him off on the bike. A quick background note: Brady's outgrown his bike so fast. Rather than buy a new one for him that fits him better in the late fall--and then having him outgrow it by spring--we decided to make due with his current bike and get him a new one that fits him in the spring. Poor guy was out on the bike and was getting passed by everyone. But he toughed it out and worked really hard. I ran next to him the whole way. His major motivation for finishing the bike was so he could run and then get donuts at the finish line. Hey man, whatever works! He was glad to be done with the bike and his pace/mile on the bike is actually slower than his running pace/mile!! We really need to get him a new bike.

Now that his least favorite part (the bike) was over, it was time to do what he loves best. Running! That kid tore up the run!!! Most other kids by that late in the race were walking for most of the run. Not Brady. He passed a bunch of kids, ran the whole way, and ran at a pretty good pace for a 4-year-old (around 14 minutes per mile, if I remember correctly). He finished strong, with a finishing time around 27 minutes, and he got his medal for completing his first ever triathlon! He loved it, and more importantly to him, he loved getting the donuts at the finish! Not 5 minutes after he was done, he asked if he could do the race again. I said no, but then he asked if he could at least go do the run again. Gotta love that kid's enthusiasm and passion.

Brady the triathlete

The real reason he likes to race

The glazed sugar face

And here comes my proudest moment of the day. I asked him what part was the most fun for him. His answer totally shocked me: "The swim." I told him he did great on the swim and I was so proud of him for trying so hard. His response: "Yeah, I just took my time nice and easy and didn't worry about it." Awesome.

Sunday's Sprint Triathlon for the big kids

As most people reading this know, Melanie has already completed her first triathlon. But, she finished that race with a bit of a feeling of unfinished business since the bike was cut so very short due to weather. So I think in her mind, and in mine, this was her first real big test of doing a complete sprint triathlon. Since then, she's started to be a little more analytical with the sport; she's started to see the value of going over training and racing data to improve weaknesses and accentuate her strengths. She's added some things in her training to help her improve for this race, but I think one of the best things she did was realize that she did not push herself like she could have to reach her potential in her first race. That's normal for a first event, but sports like this are new territory for her. She was very athletic growing up, but she's never done a sport where she has to push herself to the brink of failure, and then hold that level of pain for as long as possible without crossing into the failure/exhaustion/bonking zone. It's not easy to do. She came to the realization that if she wanted to race faster (a goal of hers), racing faster hurts. There's no way around it. Now comes the test to see if she can do it.

There were 556 athletes who finished and 2 DNFs. I was busy with my own race, so I didn't get to see her swim and only saw her as she came off the bike. But I can relay stats and numbers. I think she had a good swim...she met her swim time goal. She was ranked 119th out of 225 women in the swim overall, and 25th out of 43 in her age group. Not shabby for someone who has swam for only about a month. She had a great first transition (T1)! She had the 15th fastest out of 225 and the 3rd fastest out of 43 in her AG. She had a very good bike split: 50th out of 225 OA and 8th out of 43 in AG. And this is without any aero bars on a very windy day, which makes a huge difference!! We're going to get her set up with some aero bars this winter; she's going to be pretty darn high on the bike splits next year, I think. Her T2 was also pretty good: 74 out of 225 OA and 16 out of 43 in AG. I saw her in T2 and she said she'd been cramping all day, so I know she was feeling uncomfortable. But now came the run, the event that is most challenging for her both physically and mentally. Like T2, she also was 74th out of 225 OA and 16th out of 43 in AG for the run, which I think was really great. Not only that, but she pushed herself to that mental and physical pain barrier and stayed there the whole time. She exceeded what I thought she could do for her run split and she met her own personal expectations for time (on a very difficult run course no less!). She did really well. She finished with a time of 1:23:17 and placed 49th out of 225 overall and 9th out of 43 in AG. Awesome considering this was really her first full sprint triathlon. I think she did great. And she felt like crap the rest of the day, so she now knows what racing to her limits feels like. :) I'm very proud.

Another great time for me this weekend was that the newly formed TCU tri club, the Tri Frogs, had their first club race together. Unfortunately, I didn't get to wear my TCU jersey for the race, but I did get mine's sweet! Anyway, I really like this group because it's mostly young, college kids who are just now getting exposed to the sport. They are almost exclusively inexperienced, and this was the first race for nearly all of them except a handful of people. A lot of these students don't even own bikes...they had to borrow hybrids and other types of bikes from family and friends just to have something to race on Sunday. I love, and really admire, that type of enthusiasm. I'm sure that many of them would be perfectly willing to ride a kids bike with a basket and bell if it meant they could do a triathlon. That's a real love for the sport. Anyway, it was great to see them all get to enjoy this experience, and they had quite a few of them place in age group. Congrats to all of them!

As for me, it was a bit of a frustrating day. I didn't train from May-August, but when the TCU tri club named this as their event, I was motivated to sign up and get off my butt. Obviously, with only training for 6 weeks prior to the race, I wasn't going to race at my potential, but it's still hard to swallow when you come to the realization that you just aren't in very good shape yet. Probably more disappointing was all the little mistakes I made pre-race and during race...simple stuff that is usually just habit. I felt all discombobulated and the rust of not racing since April clearly showed. I'll expand more when I get to the bike.

I haven't swam much in 6 weeks, but I feel like I made the most of when I did. I was actually pretty pleased with my swim. I felt strong and I paced evenly. My time was slower than training times, but this always happens in a pool swim. I was okay with it. My pace for the swim was about as good as I get when I train regularly for it, so the fact I met that level of fitness in such a short time is promising to me. The sad part is that even if I train for 6 months or 6 weeks, I'm still slow. :( I had the 86th ranked swim out of 330 men overall, and 13th out of 42 in AG. I made a rookie mistake in T1 which cost me a little bit, but still didn't do too bad (you don't have to be fit to have fast transitions!): 9th out of 330 OA, 3rd out of 42 in AG. Now to the bike fiasco...I made a huge error in studying the course map for the bike; I thought I was supposed to turn left at one point but I was instead supposed to turn right. No one was at the intersection to direct me, but there was a sign pointing to the right. I thought this was a mistake since I studied the course and saw this as a left turn. So I turned left. I rode okay, but not great. I couldn't hold my target wattage for the ride, but tried to ride pretty smart. My legs just weren't up to the task to be peaking that day, but they were good enough to not suck. It's a 2 loop course, and when I start my 2nd loop I see all the people using the section I was supposed to be on by turning right instead of left. Oh $&!#. I just realized that I cheated and cut the course short. I'll touch more on that later. I was mentally sort of packing it in at this point, but continued to ride as strong as I could to T2. T2 was NOT good (by my personal expectations): 57th OA and 8th in AG. I start the run and the lack of training is starting to set in. I'm mentally really focusing on going faster, but my legs just will not respond. Post race data shows my HR much lower than it should be for a sprint 5K, which tells me that my body (heart/lungs/etc) wasn't experience the stress it should because my legs simply couldn't go faster. I'm okay with how I handled it mentally though, as my second mile did not slow from my first and my third mile was just slightly faster than miles 1 and 2. A very evenly run 5K for me at a pace that was as fast as my legs could go...that's all I can do. Had the 32nd run out of 330 OA and 8th out of 42 in AG. Finish time was 1:03:56 and I was hoping I could somehow magically pull a sub-hour out of my butt, but no luck. Took 10th OA and 4th in AG based on the timing company's results.

However, post-race, I searched for an official to report my cutting of the course. Unfortunately, I couldn't find one, but I have sent an e-mail to the Race Director requesting that I be assessed a 2:00 penalty for cutting it short. I measured the portion I cut and it was 0.3 miles, which takes me about 45 seconds at race pace to cover. But 45 seconds is a lot in a short triathlon, so it's not fair to the other athletes. Hopefully that penalty gets assessed. So, keeping that in mind, I'm currently listed as the 7th fastest bike split out of 330 and 2nd out of 42 in AG. However, adding in the 45 seconds I should have gone knocks me down to 11th OA and 3rd in AG. Similarly, I'm currently listed as placing 10th OA and 4th in AG, but the 2 minute penalty will knock me down to 17th OA, but my place in AG doesn't change...remain 4th.

It's always disappointing when you underperform from your potential, but I took some positives away from my race this weekend. I went from couch (more like office chair!) to triathlon in only 6 weeks, and made a lot of fitness gains in a very short about of time. I found out a lot of things in training these past 6 weeks about my strengths and weaknesses; I think focusing on these over the winter is going to pay big dividends next spring. I also found some training strategies that made huge strides in short time, so focusing on those over longer term will be interesting to see how much I can improve as a triathlete. I'm going to analyze all those things in a separate, and much more boring, post later this week.

If you made it this far, it probably took you about as long as it took Brady to finish his triathlon. Sorry for making so long!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Clash of the Titans and other weekend fun

Busy, but fun weekend. Just a quick recap...

Saturday morning was the Clash of the Titans. Brady's soccer team is very good, with at least half a dozen very good players on it. Most other teams have 1 or 0 really good players. But Saturday morning they played a team that had 2 really good kids on it, and the rest of the team was fairly good, too. It was a close battle, with the score tied 0-0 after the first quarter (most of the time, Brady's team wins 20+ to 0 or 1). Eventually, Brady's team started scoring and took the lead. But they won only by a margin of 7-1. I mention this not because I care if they win or lose, but having a team play them that close actually made the first half really exciting!! It was great to watch. As for Brady, it wasn't his best game. For the first time in his young soccer life, he didn't score a goal. That's fine, but the reason it wasn't his best game was because he wasn't paying very good attention and was very timid about going after the ball. He seemed to be more content running around 10 feet away from the ball than trying to actually get it. I don't care if he scores or not, but I do like to see him try his best. Oh well, there are always days like this. :)

Later that afternoon, we went to Mainstay farms to look at the pumpkin patch. It was okay, but the boys were whiney and a little difficult to manage (it was near lunch and nap time). We cut it short, but got some good pics and got to see lots of pumpkins. The most fun thing for them was playing on the hay bails and jumping around, although Alex scared the crap out of me with his horrible balance! Even just a 3 foot fall is a lot for a 2 year old.

Sunday we went to do a fun race. The boys were set to race a 1K and then right afterward, I was running in the 5K. There weren't many kids in the 1K, but holy crap were they fast! I knew Brady started out way too fast (they all do) when I looked down and saw he was running 7 min/mile pace out of the start! He eventually realized that was not going to work and slowed back down to his normal pace. Brady came in 2nd to last, but ran a great time of 7:14! My running computer had it measured a little long (0.70 miles instead of 0.62 miles), so depending on which is more accurate, he ran somewhere in between 10:20 and 11:40 minutes per mile pace. Very good for a 4 year old! I was really proud. I knew he gave it his best effort because at the end, he usually kicks it in for a fast sprint. At this race, he barely sped up at the end, so I know he left it all out there. Really great run for him and like I already said, very proud of him.

Now, Alex's race, a little different story. He brought up the rear, but that was expected since he's 2! Unlike his first 1K race, he decided he didn't want to run the whole way through. So Melanie ended up having to carry him when he got tired and he cut it short. But hey, some days you just don't feel like running, and this was one of those days for Alex. He did eventually come through the finish line when we were about to start the 5K, and everyone gave him loud cheers. That's was fun, but he looked pretty tired.

I can't complain about my race. My time was nothing to write home about (20:37; 6:38 min/mi pace), but it was where I expected to be given my current fitness level. I can't expect too much on only 5 weeks of training. On one hand, I felt like my lungs were my limiter; like my legs could go faster if my lungs could just breathe better. But on the other hand, my legs were tired for the entire 2nd half of the race. I really think I went about as fast as I possibly could, so I'm happy with that. I went too fast for the 1st mile, but settled in and maintained even pace for miles 2 and 3 despite that I was really hurting at the halfway point. I tried to stay mentally tough and focus on my running form, to keep it from degrading as I got tired. I haven't gone over the data from my running computer, but I think there's a lot I can take away from it that was positive and a few things to improve going into the triathlon next weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The number triathletes in our house has now doubled!

Unfortunately, I'm just now getting around writing about this, but the weekend of October 4th was Melanie's first triathlon! She competed in the Women's Benbrook Sprint Tri. The weather was just plain awful: pouring rain, low 60s, and windy. Because of flooding on the bike course, the bike was shortened from 13.8 miles down to only 4.4 miles. The race director (RD) claimed it to be 6, but the times and Melanie's bike computer indicate 4.4. One option was to eliminate the bike and have a swim/run, but hats off to the RD for keeping the bike route even though it was crazy short...for many of these women, Melanie included, it was their first triathlon and he wanted to keep the bike route as much in tact as possible so they can say they have done an official triathlon. I know Melanie walked away a little disappointed with the distance reduction, but it was still a tremendous accomplishment.

Always smiling.

First off, 280 women registered, and only 196 showed (1 was a DNF). My hats off to everyone who showed up to race despite such awful conditions. Melanie was nervous about the swim, but she has really taken to the water quickly in just a few weeks. She has a natural swimming ability for someone who's never done it before. She had the 121st fastest swim overall and 26th out of 41 in age group. She had a pretty good transition: the 17th fastest in age group. Cycling is her strength, and she had 45th fastest bike split overall and the 7th fastest out of 41 in age group. Her 2nd transition was pretty good, but she fell to middle of the pack relative to her age group. She went out on the run and stayed smart on a difficult course in bad conditions. Although she's not a natural runner, she is getting better by leaps and bounds. I think she exceeded her expectations on the 5K run and finished with the 91st best run out of 195 and the 19th out of 41 in her age group. And she had a great big smile when she finished. She placed 80th out of 195 overall, and 18th out of 41 in age group with a time of 57:42.

For someone who picked up swimming on a whim 3 weeks before her first race, and someone who didn't grow up as a runner, she did really, really well. Having a shortened bike course really penalizes someone like her that bikes well, but despite this inherent "penalty," she still placed rather high all things considered. The boys and I are really proud of her.

Below, the boys were playing with their new found friend during the run. I asked Brady what his name was, and he replied, "Wiggly Worm." It was funny to see them build up the courage to actually touch it, then scream, "Eeewwww" when it moved at the touch.

Coming up next for us will be a fun weekend Oct 24-25, after which 75% of our household will be triathletes. Brady has his first, real, official triathlon on Sat and Melanie and I are racing on Sunday. Should be a great weekend. As much as Alex is anxious to do a triathlon, too, he'll have to wait 2 more years...they don't let too many 2-year-olds do triathlons. He'll just have to settle for his 1K races in the meantime. :)

One last story before I'm done. The day prior to this race, Brady had a soccer game. He hadn't been able to play goalie yet and he thought that looked cool and fun since they get to use their hands, so he wanted to try. The problem is that the goalie on the opposite teams gets all the action because we have so many good kids on our team; our goalie just stands there playing with the net. So he is talking to me while he's in goal. "Dad, I'm bored. I don't want to play goalie anymore." I tell him to just wait for his turn to get the ball and he can get it with his hands like the other goalie. So finally, the other team gets a breakaway and comes down trying to score. Does Brady finally save the ball with his hands? No. Instead, he sees this as his chance to get into the action. He charges out of the net full steam and steals the ball in full stride, dribbles around everybody and cuts in toward the net and put a great shot by the goalie and into the goal. After the goal, he matter-of-factly sprinted back to his own goal and stood in net as if that is exactly how you are supposed to play goalie. The giggles among the crowd was so funny; no one quite knew how to respond to that one!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just an update

Haven't blogged anything down in a while, so thought I'd offer an update of the family and I over the last few weeks.

On Labor Day, Brady and Alex ran a 1K race. This was Brady's second race and he's getting faster each time he's done one. He's really getting the hang of pacing and racing. Didn't get his final time, but he's getting pretty quick. And Alex did his first 1K...ran the whole thing and didn't even walk once! Not bad for a 2 year old!!

Melanie has gotten the triathlon bug. She's picked up swimming pretty fast, which was her biggest unknown. She's quite good on the bike, but the run is her limiter. She just didn't grow up as a runner, but she's getting much better for someone who hasn't/doesn't run a lot. I like that she's getting into it, and she's been able to keep a great balance between work, family, training, and finishing her last 2 classes before sitting for the CPA exam. I think the hard part for me is to sit back. I'd love to just tell her what to do and when to do it, but I'm only offering up advice if she wants it. Her first race is coming up next weekend, October 4th, and then we'll do a race together: the Monster Tri on October 25th in Keller, TX.

Our race together has prompted me to start training again. Wow, am I out of shape! But I'm having fun and setting realistic goals. I'm trying to get in 3-7 hrs of training per week, which I don't think is too much to ask of myself. Bike and run are going okay, but I have yet to swim since April!!! Swimming is on my list this week.

Brady and Alex are getting hooked on running and riding bikes. We usually go out every Sunday and ride around Lake Benbrook with me toting the boys in the trailer. They love it and it gives Melanie and I some time in the saddle. It's definitely a good workout for me...not so much for Melanie as she has to slow down to wait for me a lot. Hauling an extra 100lbs up hills is hard! In addition to our regular family ride, the boys ask to go ride bikes or run around the neighborhood a lot. Brady will run a mile with me around our neighborhood, and our neighborhood is pretty darn hilly. Brady is signed up to do his first real triathlon on October 24th!! He's done a small, mock one I set up for him in our neighborhood before, but this one will be the real deal. He's so excited, and I'm excited for him. It's going to be so much fun.

Brady started soccer back up again. He's not quite as much of a standout as he was last season. Last year in the games I kept track of goals, he scored 12 of his team's 18. He was a force to be reckoned with! This year, he's got about 3 or 4 other kids who are all really good. But he's still the fastest of the bunch!!! The coach said to me after his 2nd game, "Wow, he is really fast." I don't know what to say...that kid loves running. But he's done well in his first 2 games so far. Scored 3 goals in his first game, but I wasn't happy with his attention span. I mean he was twirling all over the place in la-la land, falling down just to fall down...sigh. Surprised he even scored at all! I don't care how "good" or "bad" he plays, all I ask of him is to pay attention and try his best. Saturday's game, his second, was much better. He put real effort into paying attention and he was outstanding. Scored 6 goals and came back on defense to steal the ball numerous times. I think the other team only scored 1--maybe zero, actually--and Brady's team had about 20 (told ya he's got a bunch of good kids on his team!). I felt bad for the other team, but they still looked like they were having fun, which is all that matters. Their goalie was so cute...everytime he made a save, he'd run over to his dad with the ball and say how many times he's stopped the ball so far. "Dad, that's the fifth time I stopped it!" Too cute. And he was pretty damn good at goalie, too. Made some really good saves.

Well, that's some of the highlights over the last few weeks. More to come I'm sure now that soccer season is in full-swing and Melanie and Brady have triathlons coming up. Poor Alex gets so frustrated because he wasn't to do a triathlon and play soccer, too. Maybe when he's 3 he can get started.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Enough is enough...

I had a life changing event in 2004. Prior to that, my life priorities were straightforward...outside of family, my entire life revolved around my research. After that experience, I came to the realization that although I truly love my job, I wasn't completely happy with life. There were many things I wanted to accomplish and life was too short to focus so much on just one thing. I started doing triathlons shortly thereafter. Since then, triathlon has been a constant reminder to me of that life changing is short and I need to maximize my happiness while I can.

Fast forward to 2008-2009...

I trained sporadically from Jan-Aug '08 because I was busy with work. I took 5 months off from Sep '08-Jan '09 because I was too busy with work. I started training for triathlons again in Feb '09 and once again felt happy and complete...reminded about that life changing event. Then I took 4 months off from May-Aug '09 because I was busy with work. See a pattern? As I finally got off my out-of-shape butt the other night to go on a run, I realized enough was enough. I was becoming the person I didn't want to be again. I love what I do for a living, but having it consume my life isn't what I aspire to do.

I am going back to being true to myself and the resolution I made in 2004. I am finding that balance again. More family time. Starting back up in triathlons. I still plan to be productive and do my job well, but the 55+ hour work weeks (and a few 75+ over the summer) have got to go. I'm going to do my job well, but I can only do so much. If this pisses people off that expect me to do more work, I'll feel bad about that. I don't want to disappoint anyone. But I'm just going to do what I can do from now on without sacrificing my personal and family time. And people are just going to have to deal with that.

My 3 mile run the other night was one of the slowest runs I've ever done, but I was as happy as could be.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tri-Benbrook Sprint Triathlon race report

Well, if you remember my 2009 resolutions, one of them was to not have gaps in my training due to life/work getting too busy. I wasn't asking for much: just 2x workouts per sport per week at the minimum. After Lone Star, I had a planned week of rest, but for the last 2 weeks, I've fallen into my old trap of skipping workouts due to crazy work schedule. Sigh... Anyway, I wasn't too keen on doing Benbrook after having done nothing for 3 weeks, but I just kept telling myself I was well-rested! The course for this race is in an area that I train in a lot now since moving to Ft. Worth, so this is a bit of a "backyard" race for me.

Swim was a pool swim, which I absolutely hate pool swims in races. Never fails that the people in front of me put down the wrong times for their seeding and I'm stuck behind slower people, and then there is always someone behind me who put down too slow of time and is plowing over me to get by...much rather just swim in open water. But this swim actually went well! I was seeded #45 and the girl seeded in front of me was at the right pace and so was the guy behind me. I was able to relax, and although only a 3oo yard swim, I was happy with my time for as little as I've been doing. I had the #46 ranked swim out of 239 men.

T1 went pretty well and I was in and out in 42 seconds (#8 out of 239). Got on the bike and tried to stay relaxed until I got into the groove. Wind was pretty strong, which combined with a hilly course with lots of winding turns, was sure to make for a slow bike split. Unfortunately, I never got into that groove and just felt pretty flat for the whole ride without a lot of zip. Going back and looking at my wattage numbers post race, I was a good 20-25 watts below where I should normally be for a sprint. Oh well. The bike course, being hilly and winding, is quite fun. I've grown a fondness for this route and train on it regularly, so I was really familiar with the course and knew exactly where to punch, where I could push my limits, and where to be cautious. It's only a 13.8 mile course, but there are a few challening parts. For instance, I was already hurting pretty good when I came up to the aptly named "Nice hill" at mile 6. Nice hill is short, but really difficult. It took me holding 400 watts to get up over it at only about 10 mph. For reference, I can do a 26+ mph time trial holding only 255 watts on a flat course. If those numbers don't mean anything to you because you aren't a wattage dork like me, the punchline is this: it's real steep and takes a lot out of you. Coming up the backside on the way in isn't as bad, but still hurts. I chugged along doing my best and averaged a pretty slow 22.4 mph, but because of the course difficulty, was good enough for the #7 bike split out of 239. I know, I should be happy with that, but I'd just be happier if I felt like I was on my game for that ride. That's what not training for 3 weeks will do to ya!!

T2 also went well and I was in and out in 38 seconds, #17 out of 239. Started the run, and I knew this was where I was going to do the worst. Anytime I take gaps in training, the sport that suffers the most is my run. I can go a while without swimming or riding and still do okay, but I just crumble without continual run training. First mile did NOT feel good, but time was better than expected. Slowed a bit for the 2nd mile, but was able to pick it back up again for the 3rd mile. The run is advertised as flat, giving the impression it's a fast course, but I thought this was a really difficult run. High winds coming off the lake, which I know it's not possible but it seemed like the wind was in my face for 75% of the time. It's also not really that flat...there is an ever-present incline or decline, even if slight. And lastly, there are lots of turns and turnarounds. The wind, inclines, and turning all make for a challenging run. I did okay for having such a long training layoff: 22nd out of 239.

Overall, I placed 10th out of 239 with a time of 1:04:45 (but I think the #1 guy was racing as an Elite even though lumped in the Age Group results, which means I'd bump up 1 spot technically). I really expected to do a lot worse, so I guess I really have no complaints. Post race, I felt good physically and mentally about my effort, it just wasn't quite as pleasing as I'd like because of feeling flat. What I was most happy about was that I felt smooth and comfortable on the swim, and did a respectable time for me. But after having done 2 races now in my new age group, I HATE racing in the 35-39 AG!! (Sidebar: my triathlon race age is my age on Dec 31 of 2009, which makes me 35 in tri years.) These guys are just way too fast. I was 4th out of 29 in AG. But as much as I say I hate it, I actually like it. Racing against these fast guys all the time will make me better, and I like that.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lone Star Half Iron Race Report

Brought the family down with me to Galveston for the Lone Star Half Iron-distance race so that we could enjoy Moody Gardens and also for Brady to run the Kids 1K on Sat. He was excited for his first big race. We spent Sat. at the aquarium, which the boys loved. Then Brady ran his race in the afternoon. He did a 6:20 for the 1K (10:11 min/mi pace). I was pretty impressed and he didn't walk not even once. First thing he said after the race was "Can we race again?" He carried around his medal all day and was quite proud. So were Melanie and I. Post race we went to the aviation museum, but the boys were so tired I'm not sure they got as much out of it as they normally would if not so tired. Okay, onto more race specific stuff...

This race was a comedy of errors in the truest sense! I won't elaborate all the things that happened in the 2 weeks leading up to the race, but I wasn't feeling too well and wasn't feeling it on race day. But that's way too long a story to get into, so I'll save it. Onto the race. I wasn't able to get in a warm-up on the swim, but I at least wanted to get used to the salt water and the coldness...I have a really hard time catching my breath when the water is so cold. They said water was 62 degrees. Yikes! Wave starts were delayed so they could reset the turn buoys after the last wave of the quarter iron went off. Took much longer than anticipated, but finally the first wave went after around a 20 min delay or so. I was in the second wave and as we entered the water, I was getting everything set and trying to get to the start line when the announcer started counting down from 10. Oh crap!! That snuck up on me. I franticallly try and get toward the start line but only made it to the very back of the wave when the gun went off. Starting back there was a little annoying, but I [unfortunately] can't blame my crappy swim time on it. It probably only cost me 20-30 seconds max. No big deal in the grand scheme of things. Finally got out of the water...I felt really fresh and my time showed why. My swim split was 39+ minutes, which was just awful. I don't have it broken down by gender, so including both males and females, I was the #235 swim split out of 638. Yuck! Oh well, couldn't do anything about it at that point.

Not even a mile into the bike I hear the horrible sound of one's own water bottle skidding across the pavement behind him. I look back and sure enough, one of my bottles of Infinit had already ejected. I checked my 2nd bottle and to my shock, it was gone too but nowhere to be seen. Great, lost all my bike calories not even a mile into the ride. There is a long line of halfers behind me, so I pull over and stop to wait for a gap to cross back across the road. The quarter iron racers are coming into T2 from the opposite side, so I had to wait for a gap in them too before I could turn around. I headed back up for a block and got off my bike to get my bottle that had skidded into the grass. Sure, going back and getting it cost me a lot of time, but it would have cost me a lot more if I didn't have at least some partial resemblence of my nutrition plan in place. It was well worth the time penalty. And speaking of time penalty, I am fully aware that I deserve a 2:00 for not being able to find the first bottle that became dislodged. But time was ticking so I gave up looking for it. Anyway, back onto the bike. I developed an alternative nutrition strategy on the fly. I was going to space out my 1 bottle twice as long as planned and fill in those gaps using Gatorade Endurance handed out on the course. The problem is that Gat. E has fewer calories and less salt than my Infinit and it doesn't sit well in my stomach at all. It wasn't optimal, but would have to do. Then I realized another problem. If my bigger bottle ejected, the skinnier Gat. bottle surely wouldn't last. So what I did was hold the gatorade bottle in my hand with it resting on the aero bars. Over bumpy parts I had to reach my left hand back to secure my behind the saddle Infinit bottle and hold the gatorate with my right hand and steer my aero bar with my right forearm. It was dicey to the say the least, but I only had to do this in 5-7 spots max. It was doable and totally worth getting the calories. Bike pace is going okay at this point, but not stellar, then at the halfway point of the bike I go to downshift and my rear derailleur cable snaps. I drop into my 53/11 gear for the rest of the race. At this point, I actually chuckled out loud because my wife and I had been joking in the week leading up to the race about how things kept going wrong and we kept asking what's next. I just thought "she's going to love this story!!" Oh well, couldn't change the fact that the cable snapped and couldn't magically repair it, so no point in whining about it; just had to figure out a way to work around it. I considered different options but what I ultimately came up with was to increase my wattage so that I didn't have to mash at too low of cadence. The advantages were that 1) I'd get done faster and 2) well...can't think of another. I considered downshifing to my small chainring, but was worried I'd be spinning out or worse yet, have that cable snap. So I opted to stay in the 53/11 the rest of the way. I went really hard on the way in, with a slight tailwind. My cadence was still really low because I was in my 53/11 the whole time (around 60-70 rpm), but it was at least higher than if I went slower. I knew I would likely blow up for the run, but seemed like the only option at the time. Oh, and it was really fun doing my bottle balancing act on the rough parts while mashing out at 60 rpm. Get close to T2 and thinking "thank goodness." My legs are complete toast, feel like I'm going to vomit from the gatorade, but hey, I made it in and was happy with my bike split time all things considered. A new personal best bike time for the 56 miles of 2:22 (23.6 mph). That was the #31 bike split out of 638.

Run course was 4 loops which was really nice. I got to see my wife and 2 boys frequently and even at multiple spots on the same loop. And with such a small loop (~3.25 miles), it was packed with spectators. I really liked it. But my legs were cramping from my 28 mile mashfest and my stomach felt just awful from the Gatorade on the first lap, so I took it very easy. I was okay with this. I decided to do the entire first lap like this and re-evaluate strategy starting the second lap. I very quickly sucked down some of my Infinit run formula from my fuel belt and even took some extra salt tabs to get rid of the cramps. The calories and salt helped as I started to feel slightly better after the first lap. I decided that pushing it and bonking wasn't a good option, so I stayed disciplined and went easy for the 2nd lap too. At the halfway point, I was at 55 min into the run and starting to feel better. I felt like at this point, my risk of blowing up and DNFing was low, so just freakin' go for it. I focused really hard and went for it. My Polar shoe sensor fell off during the run (I told you it was a comedy of errors) but pace didn't matter. Just had to go as hard as possible regardless of what that number on my watch said. I ran the 2nd half in 48 min for a negative split, which I was quite pleased with once I got into the groove for the last half. I ended up with a 1:43, which was #63 out of 638.

My finish time was a 4:49, a new personal best (previous best was 5:05). I'm very happy with this since it's so early in the year and I haven't trained a whole lot...really only started up in January after a 5 month layoff. Overall, I placed #46 out of 638, #42 out of 412 among the men, and #11 out of 84 in my Age Group (which is now 35-39 this year).

I was very proud of this race not just because of my time(s), but because I had a good day of being mentally tough overcoming obstacles (pre- and during race) and being able to mentally push myself to suffer on the run (one of my weaknesses). I can't ask for much more than that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brady's first soccer game

Brady wanted to play soccer this year so we signed him up for a league at the YMCA. They had a few practices and clearly his favorite part is running, but we weren't sure how the actual game would go. Last weekend, March 21st, was their first one!

Getting on the shin guards, getting game face on

They had a scrimmage at practice the week of the game and Brady did well. The only thing he didn't do very well was kick the ball in the correct direction. But given his newness to the game, we were pretty impressed with how well he did. At this age, the kids who can outrun the "pack" are the ones who get to touch the ball the most, so it was going to be interesting to see how he did (he is one of the faster kids). His friend, John Michael (the son of one of our friends, Elizabeth, who also happens to be a marathoner) is really fast and scored a lot at scrimmage, so it was going to be fun watching he and Brady run around and try and score goals. Now comes game time...

Brady before the game. Goofball.

The morning of the game, I asked him if he remembered which direction he was supposed to kick it toward before he kicked it and he said yes. So I asked him why he would kick the wrong way sometimes and he said, "I don't care where it goes, I just want to run faster than everyone else to get to the ball." So I asked him to try and kick it to the right direction and put it into the goal during the game and he said, "Okay, dad." That was easy!

We would be proud of Brady no matter how well (or bad) he did, but he did such an amazing job! We were so proud of him. He scored the first 3 goals of the game before getting subbed out in the first half. He came back in at the end of the 2nd half and got one more. He scored 4 of his team's 6 goals (or maybe it was 5 of 7). John Michael and a boy named Nicholas got the other 2. What I was really proud of was how well he grasped what he was supposed to do. When the other team would breakaway to score a goal, I would yell for him to go get the ball and not let them score. On 3 breakaways, he ran down the kid dribbling the ball and kicked it away! How awesome is that? (Of course, I'm leaving out the part when he leaned down and stopped it with his hand! But he only did it once.) The best one was when Brady was the absolute furthest away from the ball (standing by the goal he's supposed to score in) and the other team got a breakaway. All his teammates didn't know what to do, and really, neither did Brady because they broke away so fast. I yelled for him to stop them from scoring and I've never seen that kid run so fast!! He went from the back of the group to all the way in the front and kicked the ball away from crossing the line at the very last second. Wow! :)

Trying to breakaway for a score

Goal #3 (I think?)

Goal #4

Riding the pine in the 2nd half

"Good game"

It was a really proud moment, especially hearing all the comments, even if just jokingly. Some of the ones I remember the most (but there were others):

  • "Wow, Brady is a ringer!"
  • "I haven't seen a kid that fast. Is he running track already?"
  • One parent came up to me after the game and shook my hand and simply said, "Congratulations. He's phenomenal."
  • On the other sideline Melanie heard the parents from the other team saying "Oh my gosh, there's no way we could stop that #5."
Anyway, all we want for Brady is for him to have fun and learn some basic skills...all this was just a nice bonus.

One of Brady's biggest fans enjoying the game

The day after his game, we decided we were going to do some run 'training.' I signed him up for a 1K run the day before my race in Galveston, so I asked him if he wanted to train with dad to get ready for it. Asking him if he wants to run, are you kidding me? Of course! So we ran a half mile on Sunday together and I tried to teach him about pacing himself so that he doesn't get so tired that he can't finish. He did awesome again and picked up the concept really fast. He ran the half mile about 14 min/mile pace, so not too bad. But there were 3 funny moments that stood out to me.

The first was when we were running on the sidewalk and were about to cross the entrance to the elementary school parking lot (across from our house), a place where he knows there are moving cars (on weekdays, anyway). As we're running, he slammed on the brakes right at the sidewalk edge and looked up at me as if asking "Can I cross this daddy?" I came back and told him that if he's with me and I say it's okay, he can go across it. The second funny thing was when we got to the halfway point and turned around into a very strong wind. As soon as we turned around, he said "Oh man. It's slowing me down dad." I chuckled and told him to just keep trying. He did, all the way to the end. The third thing was when we got back into the house. He fell on the floor on his back, sprawled out as if doing a snow angel and said "Man, I'm tired."

What a great weekend! I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Great moments in Dad history

I've been meaning to get this up for quite some time now and am finally getting around to it. At his school/daycare, Brady got to make a "My Wish" project (with teacher's help) for his birthday. Here is what he wanted for his cool is that?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Cowtown Half Marathon

I signed up for this just to make it an enjoyable, fun, up-tempo training run. I knew the weather was going to not be good, but when I woke up and saw wind chill in the 20's and north winds at 23 mph, I really was not looking forward to getting out there. I bundled up to the hilt (by runner's standards), but still got cold just even walking from the front door to the car.

Parking was a nightmare, and the place I wanted to park wasn't accessible (street closure), so had to find a new place on the fly. I waited in the car as long as possible, then went to the starting line. I wore running tights, 2 base layer shirts, jacket, 2 pairs of gloves, and a facemask. I was freezing still! My objective for this was to go easy for 2 miles as a warm-up, run hard for 10, then take the last mile easy. My primary goal was to not get hurt as I've been having some hamstring and iliotibial band issues lately.

Gun went off and first 2 miles were straight into the wind. Holy crap was it cold. But after the initial shock of those, the course turned and we had crosswind or tailwind for the rest of the day. At that point, I had to start shedding layers. It's a pain in the butt to carry all that crap for the entire race, but I was sure glad I had dressed that warm for the first couple of miles. [Note: marathoners and half marathoners usually wear old, disposable garments to just toss at the stations when they get too hot. I wore my nicer, non-throwaway stuff which was warmer, which is why I had to hang onto it for the race.]

Everything went well and I ran pretty good during the 10-mile stretch I wanted to work hard. Given where I am in my training, I figured a 1:40-1:50 range was feasible. I ran 1:41 and change (pretty much a 1:42) so I was happy. My knee and hamstring were starting to hurt on that last cool down mile, so good thing I didn't push at the end. It was a fun race, fast course, and if weather cooperates, I'd like to keep doing this race year-to-year. They have a very cool medal that can combine with the medals for years 2010-2013 to form a huge star; I'd like to get all 5 if possible.

Training is going well, just need to stay consistent and focus on Lone Star.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Brady's 4th Birthday Party

Oh man, this was one of the most fun things I've been able to do as a dad so far. We held the party at a large building that has all kinds of air slides and bounce pits. Normally, Brady is pretty cautious when it comes to things like this so I didn't know how well he'd take to it. As soon as we opened the door, he bolted with his friends like a madman set loose from was a joy to watch them play with so much enthusiasm.

There was a separate play area for the "littler ones" but Alex wanted nothing to do with that...he went onto the big kids stuff with passion! One of the most fun parts of the day was playing in the bounce pit with Alex. He would stand up and all I had to do was bounce to knock him off balance...he'd fall over and laugh so hard that he could hardly breathe. Then he'd get up, stand still, and wait for me to do it again...over and over! My face hurt from laughing so much. I also took him up the biggest slide in the place and he liked that too. His favorite was probably the dinsosaur slide, which he did repeatedly. He could climb and slide down that one all on his own.

Brady was bouncing all over the place. He would do the big slide, then go to the bounce pit, then hop over the long obstacle course with climbing wall. All in all, it was an awesome day and lots of Brady's friends from school showed up.

Being a parent shouldn't be this much fun!

Lake Benbrook Half Marathon

Oh man, talk about worried. Here's how all this came about...

My friend Elizabeth talked me into signing up for the Benbrook Half on Jan 31st a long time ago. I figured why not, it would help get me motivated to start back with run training again. Well, on Jan 30th, I realized I still hadn't done squat for training! I had only ran a total of 17 miles for the entire month of January, and to top it off, here was the course description I was given for Benbrook: "the hills start before mile 1 and end after mile 12." Needless to say, I was a bit worried about just jumping in and running this.

My goals (in progressive order so that I must complete the first to move onto the next):
1. Don't get injured
2. Finish...seriously
3. Finish without walking
4. Negative split (2nd half faster than first half)

The race is great; where else can you do a half marathon for only $15? The views and scenery were really nice and they weren't kidding about the hills. One of the hilliest runs I've ever done. But I'm happy to say that despite my lack of training, I accomplished all 4 of my goals. The best part is that I actually am back running again since then and am really having fun doing it. My time was a good 20+ minutes slower than my PR and placing was not good, but c'est la vie. I had a lot of fun at this race.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Damn fire ants!

Well, it was inevitable living in TX. Brady and Alex got their first experience with fire ants the other day. Brady got stung 6-7 times before we got them off. The frustrating part was that it was dark outside so we had to run in the house to see to get them off. Then had fire ants on the floor, so while Melanie was comforting Brady, I was trying to kill as many as I could between my fingers. One got on Alex's shoe and crawled up his leg. He only got stung once, luckily. It was pretty traumatic for Brady, but once he got over the shock of it all, he sucked it up pretty good even though it stung for most of the rest of the night. It's looking good now after a few days so both boys are back to normal. Well, sort of...colds and allergies kicking in!