Monday, August 15, 2011

RACE REPORT - Mayo Lake Sprint Triathlon

The past two years for me were marked by injuries, the loss of my mother, and a work schedule that prevented me from participating in many of the triathlons I’ve come to love in the area, like FS Series Battle at Buckhorn, which was the last race I did. As a result, my Kuota K-Factor had been wasting away in my shed (I’ve been riding my road bike with triple chain ring - taking great advantage with the extra gears on all the hills here in Raleigh). A week ago, I bought new tires, pedals and arm rests, re-attached my bottle cage, and gave the K-Factor a little tune-up. That night, when I saw the Mayo Lake Sprint was only $30, I couldn’t say no - and I’m glad I didn’t!

Mayo Lake is about 1.5 hours from my house, a very reasonable distance for me to drive for a clean lake swim, which seems to be hard to find very much closer to Raleigh. Passing over one of the fingers of the lake, I was excited about how calm the water was - like glass. As the swim takes place in a pretty protected finger of the lake, I doubt you would ever experience much chop. Although I didn’t check the course maps prior to the race, the point to point swim (750 meters) including only one sharp turn, unlike the two you typically experience in a normal triangular sprint swim. Sharp turns mess with my navigation a bit! But, on the course, I was able to spot the buoys a long way off and keep my head down. I churned out a nice 12:36 swim, right on pace with how I’ve been training.

I heard that the swim exit was changed this year because of the water level, resulting in a longer uphill run to transition. I hit it pretty hard, put on my race belt, glasses and helmet and shoulder my bike for the run to the mount line, but would soon find out that my 1:37 transition wasn’t much to my benefit.

What time I gained in transition was quickly lost at the mount line for the bike when I immediately realized that I couldn’t remember how I normally did this - right foot in my clipped in shoes first? Or left? I punted and hopped on my bike and rode feet on top of both my shoes before I finally manage to snake the right foot in. But, I compressed the top of the left shoe so much and couldn’t get my foot in. I gave up, pulled to the side, dismounted, and on wobbly legs (funny, they didn’t feel that way on the bike - must have been the uphill run to T1!) put both shoes on, mounted, and even then had trouble clipping in to my pedals.

Once rolling, my lack of time on my K-Factor (rode it twice in past two years) showed through on the 16-mile bike course. I kept clicking through gears hoping to find the right one, but couldn’t seem to find one throughout most of the course, which is a shame, since the course is on very smooth surfaced roads, featuring all right hand turns. The consistent rolling hills kept me running through a variety of gears most of the ride. The course wasvVery well marked with orange arrows and police/volunteers at intersections. Early on the bike, the sky let loose. While it was warm and very humid early on, the rain brought in cool temperatures. Given my 50 minute bike split, I wish I could say the rain slowed me down, but honestly, it was just lack of riding time and a botched mount, which I’m know will come back with a practice or two. On this day, I think I preferred the cool wet weather to the hot dry weather we’ve been experiencing.
I normally shoulder my bike and dash through T2, but the botched mount was still in my mind and I opted to go easy and push my bike through. I still had a nice 42 second transition and managed to kiss my daughter who ran down from the pavilion in the rain. My son, on the other hand, saw two guys ready to pass me and refused to give me a kiss. Go! Go! He said. I demanded a kiss and he blew one to me and said “Now Run!”

With a max long run of 4 miles in the past year (injuries) I had no idea what to expect on the 3-mile trail run. I heard there would be lots of skinned knees on the course, but given my trail running experience, I felt that was an overstatement. While the course was endlessly undulating with steeps rises and drops, featured plenty of roots and rough surfaces, the majority of it was on soft and spongy dirt, turned wet this day in the endless rain, which created more than a handful of mud puddles to run through, but only a few truly slick muddy parts.

My hopes for this day was to finish strong (nothing to do with it being an FS aka Finish Strong Series race!) and comfortable. There will be days when I push myself hard again, but today wasn’t one of them. I wanted to have fun and not experience any discomfort at any point in this race, so I kept a nice even 9-minute per mile pace throughout the run. I tend to run faster off the bike then slow down later on in the run, so I was extremely happy at mile 2 when I was right on my 9-minute pace and feeling good. Just as I started to wonder if the course was long, I turned a corner and saw the finish, which I hit pretty darn close to what I expected for this race (minus the bike difficulties).

As I said, I’ve run a few trail runs and given the shade this course would provide on a hot day, the run course is one of my favorite ever in a triathlon. I love trail runs and triathlons, but hate mountain biking - if you share the same interests, this is THE perfect triathlon for you.

Being able to throw in a fun excursion for the family is such a bonus for a triathlon, that I have to mention the nearby Rock of Ages Winery. Afterwards, the family and I detoured by the Rock of Ages Winery. We arrived at the beautiful winery and vineyard a bit early, but ran into the owner, Kevin Moore, a runner and former triathlete. He shared some stories of the early days of North Carolina triathlon and chatted it up with me until it started pouring again. When the rain stopped, the kids had plenty of space to run around and blow off some steam built up being cooped up in the pavilion during the rainy race. In a few minutes, the winery was open and we had a very generous and entertaining wine-tasting with a very unique creation of Kevin’s that pairs amazingly well with barbecue. Quite a surprise for a North Carolina wine.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Lake Mayo Triathlon

Big day for triathlon at my house. Got new tires, tubes and pedals for my tri bike. Also, switched out the arm-rests on my tri-bars. The bolts were rusted underneath the old pads, but luckily I had an old set of clip-ons from my road bike, so I just switched the whole arm rest assembly. Then, a few minutes before midnight, I signed up for my first triathlon in 2 years! It's the Lake Mayo Sprint - cost only $30. Even now (the price increased at midnight) the race is only $40.

While I've been logging serious mile on my bike (serious for me - except for the year I did IM Florida, I've never ridden more than 1500 miles in a year - I'm at 1200 now) but they've all been VERY slow. Swimming, probably on par with any other year for me. Running? I've got just about 3 miles in me on a good day. So... this race will be INTERESTING!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gone?

Really... I have been gone. I haven't raced anything since January 2010 (March 2010 if you count the half marathon I didn't finish due to injury). Funny, though, by the end of 2010 I logged a personal best in yardage swam for a year and second best in miles ridden on the bike. Despite not having raced in 2011, I'm on pace to crush my PR swim yardage and challenge my personal best bike mileage for a year. God-willing, I'll throw a couple late season races in the mix. Mostly, I've been focusing on family/work and health. I say "family/work" because no matter how much I focus on either, each seems to get better. That's the great thing about a lifestyle job.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Post Apocalyptic 40 Race Schedule

Catastrophe. I can best describe the effects of training on my body and my gear over the past year as a catastrophe. 40 has not been good to me. 40 will forever be remembered as a year of firsts. I turned 40 and experienced my first...

1. blister (several of them)
2. black toe nail (during the Richmond Marathon)
3. injury (torn piriformis during the Tobacco Road Half Marathon)
4. overturned ankle (severely on the Loblolly Trail - a few days before I turned 41)

My body and my gear feel and look a bit like Wall-E right now: pieced together by spare parts. My 2010 "season" was for the most part a wasteland. I'm hoping to find a little green plant and turn things around in 2011. To do that, I need a plan. I got one. I also have a race schedule.

Here it is...

June 5 - Kerr Lake (International)
PRIOR RESULTS: 2:37:51 (2008), 2:39:44 (2007), 2:47:15 (2005)
July 10 - Triangle Triathlon (Sprint)
PRIOR RESULTS: 1:27:09 (2007 - old course)
September 10 - IOS White Lake (International)
PRIOR RESULTS: none

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Season Update and Pumpkin Bomb

I wrapped up my Chi Running class with Pat's Personal Training last week with a pretty good idea of how I tore my piriformis earlier this year at the Tobacco Road Half Marathon. In trying to change my heel-striking form to a mid-foot strike, I was landing too far forward in my stride and too far forward on my foot resulting in overly tight muscles that couldn't bear the strain. In attempting to correct a style that never got me injured in 20 years of running - I got injured. For about half the Chi Running class, I thought I would just abandon the mid-foot strike all together and going back to my heel-striking ways. But, then I had a few "aha!" moments during the class. So, I have decided to continue working on improving my form.

Speaking of form, after about six week of four days of riding per week, I'm pretty sure I need to be re-fitted for my Kuota. I got my old road bike back from Sonny last week and after a few adjustments, spent 3 hours on the road including a jaunt on the bridle paths at Umstead. Super fun ride and practically no discomfort. Generally, in 2 hours on my Kuota, I'm pretty restless in the saddle and itching to finish up. But, I also need new tires. I just shelled out nearly $100 on two tires over the summer. One got a huge gash on only my second ride (I replaced it with my 4-year-old Vittoria I saved for emergencies) and the other tire is seriously worn. I've been doing a lot more riding than normal but, am pretty disappointed in the tires I just bought, which wore faster in 3 months than my VIttoria's did in 3 years. So, in short, I need new tires and a fitting.

Considering the incompleteness of my change in running form and my bike issues, it doesn't appear that I'll compete in a triathlon at all this year. I kind of knew that would be the case which is why I was training in hopes of competing in cyclo-cross but, there's just not money in the budget for a new bike. I considered selling a bike but, I just can't come to grips with selling the road bike (my first which I used for IM Florida) and I can't bear selling my Kuota - a gift from my sister and family. In dry conditions, I think I could pull off a cyclo-cross event on the road bike but, it was pretty squirrely on Turkey Loops descents. It would be crazy to risk another injury since this one has taken so long to recover from.

So, for the remainder of the year, it looks like I'll just be running, cycling and swim for the health benefits which sadly, doesn't offer enough motivation for me to workout when I'm not in the mood. You can read my editor's note in the October issue of Endurance to understand that more completely. On the other hand, skipping a three-hour ride in exchange for a hike with the family and a Pumpkin Bomb - pumpkin spice beer and goldschlager in a honey-spice-rimmed glass - is much more mentally rewarding!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cyclo Cross & Chi Running

It's nearing the end of summer here in North Carolina and as usual, I've been thinking about getting into cyclo-cross this year. I've done a fair amount of cycling since tearing my piriformis at Tobacco Road and a few weeks ago started a Chris Carmichael Training Plan for "time-crunched" athletes. It's basically intervals on Tuesday and Wednesday (which I do on the trainer) and "endurance miles" on Saturday AND Sunday. As a triathlete, it's a bit weird to have two substantial rides on consecutive days but, I'm enjoying the training and seeing results only three weeks into it the training. However, I'm not sure cyclo-cross is going to work out because a new bike just isn't in the budget at the moment. So, I'm trying to keep some semblance of run and swim training going so if all fails, I can squeeze in a triathlon this year. So, in addition to cycling, I typically work in one day of running for about 25 minutes and one day of swimming for about 45 minutes. The triathlete in me wants to do more, but work-wise, my schedule just won't allow it and there's a little voice in the back of my head is telling me to be happy with what I'm doing otherwise I'll do too much and get injured again. Guess I'm a little gun-shy after my first-ever injury. With that in mind, I'm taking a class in Chi Running through New Balance Raleigh. I had my first class last Wednesday and will have three more each Wednesday. So far, I think I've identified a few errors I made in trying to teach myself to be a mid-foot striker, which may have led to my injury I suspect. Finally, at the bottom of my "to do" list is posting a few pictures my mom took of me and Sandi and the kids at Ironman Florida in 2006. Memories!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Calico Toast

When I was a kid, my mother would do anything for me. I remember once when we were camping, she offered to cook my favorite breakfast - two eggs over easy - on the green Coleman camping stove. But, for me, it took two pieces of buttered toast to make the breakfast complete and we were without a toaster. So, my mom cooked up the eggs and set the bread on the stove to toast it for me. We laughed at the finished product, which was burned, toasted, and uncooked in a manner that made it look like the coat of a calico cat. The cold butter wouldn't spread well and she tore a few holes in the toast trying to do it.

Last weekend, my son wanted to help make homemade pancakes but, we didn't have any syrup. I thought of the calico toast and rummaged through our cabinets. A few years ago, my wife and I were avid readers of Cooking Light, which has many amazing recipes - all of which require at least one ingredient we didn't have at the time. As a result, we wound up with a lot of spices and vinegars and other such things we have used only once. One thing we still have is... corn syrup. I found it way back in the cabinet, cooked it up with some sugar, brown sugar, water and a little bit of vanilla. Voila! Pancake syrup.

As I often do, before I served it to him, I told him the story of the calico toast.