Saturday, June 26, 2010

Run Around Hell

Actually, it was called the Run Around the Lake. We try to do this race every year. It's a challenging 4 miler. It's never a completely flat race. You are either running up a hill/incline or down an incline. There are no real downhills here. Each year I think "this is the year I will conquer the hill at mile 3" and each year that hill owns me.

So this morning the Wingman and I got up early and had breakfast. Last night my GI system was 'upset' so I made sure (at least I thought I made sure) that I had enough water this morning prior to the race. I didn't want to go into the race in the heat already dehydrated. I brought along a 20oz bottle of water to drink. I probably should have made it a bottle of Infinit. We got to the race and picked up our packets. The last few years they had a nice technical shirt in the bag. This year they went back to the cotton shirts that are the most hideous colors known to man. I joked before we got there about hoping to get a nice bright orange shirt this year. Well, when I looked in the bag, I wasn't far off the mark. It was a yellow-orange color. They must get a discount on the shirts if they pick ugly colors.

The only other thing in the race bag (besides the flyers) was a small box of Wheaties Fuel. We dropped the stuff back off in the car and watched the start of the kids 1 mile fun run. After that we began the walk to the start of the race. We hung out in the shade and I was still optimistic about my race. The last two weeks my workouts have been really good. I can feel my speed improving and I owe it all to the negative energy generated by my clinical affiliation. Every time I have a bad day, I have a great run. So Friday started out good and ended kinda bad. And when I say it ended bad, it's not that I screwed up with a patient, but according to my CI, I didn't do things exactly the way he would have done it and he let's me know about it. I take in his comments, filter them, and extract the information that is useful to me and chuck out the rest. So this morning I tried to relive that conversation in my head.

When the horn sounded I got stuck in some human traffic. I decided instead of burning some extra energy weaving in and out, I would just wait until the road widens a little bit and then get some room. About half a mile into the race is the first hill. I eased up a little to save some energy for the other hill later. Also, this is the last section of any kind of shade. The rest of the run from mile 1 to the end is out in the sun. When I cruised past the mile 1 marker, I looked at my watch. I was right on pace. At this point I was actually thinking I could hold it. I also started to notice I was soaked. I was sweating heavily today. And I have just begun to run in the sun.

At this point I am out on Portion Road heading towards the now defunct Bavarian Inn. I am still feeling decent, but the heat is wearing me down. I am drenched and in desperate need of water. Another aid station won't be coming up for another mile. I tried to hang in there, but I suddenly started feeling lightheaded. I eased off the pace and it still didn't help. I noticed that I was no longer running a straight line. The wobble run had begun. I decided to walk for a minute just to collect myself and let my heart rate come down. When I started running again, I noticed on the median the sprinklers were on. And I wasn't wearing a white shirt. BONUS!! No wet t-shirt contest for me. I ran up onto the grass and through 8 sprinklers. I felt like I was 4 years old again. What a wonderful feeling. Problem was it was short lived. Once I was back out on the road, I was suffering again. I hit the aid station near the drug rehab facility. For some reason, they always have the best water on the course. The other 2 stations have hose water, but the addicts have some good water. Plus it was very cold. I don't know what their secret is and I don't want to know. I just had to hope that the USADA would not be at the finish line. I grabbed two cups and drank them both. I got to the mile 3 marker and started feeling better. Problem was, my nemesis hill was looming. It's not a big hill, but one of those slow inclines that wears you down, beats you into submission.

The hill had me early. I felt like I was dying out there. Some guy ran by, looked back at me and said "Come on." I did my best to follow, but my legs were having none of it. All I kept thinking was "every year this race gets hotter and the hills get bigger." When the top of the incline came along I started to pick up my pace. I knew there was about half a mile to go. I wanted to salvage something out of this race. If I could finish strong, it would make up for the 1.5 miles of hell that I just went through. 

Then, a great song came on and the beat was perfect for me.

I was able to run to the beat and accomplish my goal of a strong finish. I was able to escape the clutches of hell. I crossed the finish line and went straight for the water area. I reached into the bucket and grabbed a bottle of water. Then I went back in for some ice. I put a few big cubes in my hat and on my neck and was feeling much better. I downed my bottle quickly and went back for another for the Wingman. There were none left. Uh oh. I ran back to the car and grabbed his bottle and then ran back to the buckets with ice, grabbed a few cubes, put them in his bottle and shook it. I saw him coming down the finish chute and handed him the bottle. He downed it in no time. We swapped race stories as we made our way over to the BBQ area. This is something they started last year and decided to continue it. If you are registered for the race, you are entitled to the BBQ. We were one of the first ones on line as Wingman said he was hungry. They had cole slaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, hamburgers, hot dogs and a bunch of sodas. It was only 10am, but that burger was good. 

While I didn't have the race I wanted, at least I got myself to finish strong. I'm not a good hot weather runner no matter how much I try to get used to it. But next race in the heat, I will be sure to choose a different prerace drink. On the ride home I told the Wingman that perhaps we should decide at the last minute next year if we should do this race again so we could see what the weather would look like. But he said we should just do the race anyway, no matter what the weather is. So, let's cross our fingers for a cool day next year.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

No Regrets

That was my mindset going into the race this morning. I didn't want to get to the end of the race and think "I wish I ran faster" or "I should have swam harder." I just wanted a nice solid effort. Yesterday the Wingman and I decided he would stay home for this race. He is still dealing with his infection and has had trouble sleeping. I figured he would be more comfortable staying home. So I was going without my Wingman.

Last night I was asleep around 9:30p with my alarm set for 4a. I learned my lesson last year about not eating much for breakfast so I wanted to be sure I was up in plenty of time to eat. So at 4a, I hopped out of bed, ate, then jumped into the shower. When I got out of the shower, Wingman was up. He said he would help me pack the car for the race. What a guy!! I kissed him goodbye and then was on my way. I put on some good pre-race music to get me 'in the mood' to race. Before I knew it, I was at the marina. There weren't many cars there yet so I picked a good spot and backed in. I unpacked the car, dropped my stuff of in transition and made a bee line to the bathroom. The nice thing about getting there early is you have a choice between the porta-potty and a real bathroom. Obviously I chose the real bathroom. Took care of business then went back out to setup my transition.

My setup doesn't take long. After I finished I went over to the water to check the temps. The water felt great. I decided to only wear my wetsuit bottom and ditch the top. I also noticed the water had a chop to it. The wind was kicking up the water and I also noticed that we'd be swimming against the current. It didn't look too bad so I decided not to give it another thought.

I went back to transition and grabbed my wetsuit, cap, goggles, shot blocks and an ear plug. I felt an eerie calmness come over me. Usually I have some butterflies, but today I didn't. I climbed into the water to warm up a little bit and wound up cutting my toe on the big blocks in the water. I took a look and saw that it was along the side of my toe, not the bottom so I would be OK for biking and running. Phew!

I was in the 4th wave so I watched the others go off. I tried to stay focused on the swim start and finding a good place. When the horn went off so did I. The chop got to me a little in the beginning. When I would turn my head to breathe, the water would drop me down from a swell so it would make me a little nauseas. Great, at this rate I'm ready to puke in the water. I got to the first buoy and made the turn unscathed. I noticed now that I was up on people from the previous wave. Between the 1st and 2nd buoy was a lifeguard on a surfboard. I almost laughed out loud when I saw 8 men hanging on. No women, just men. Really guys?!?! The swim wasn't that bad and it was still early. It picked me up and I felt a little stronger now. I got to the final buoy and made my turn into the final stretch. I was now swimming into the sun and misjudged where the swim finish was. The lifeguard got my attention and I corrected my direction. It got a little tight near the swim finish and I may or may not have gotten a little too familiar with another swimmer near me. He wasn't wearing a wetsuit (just a tri suit) and when I went to begin my next swim stroke I can say with confidence that he does not have an enlarged prostate. Phew, I am sure he'd be relived to hear that. I should sent him a bill for a copay.

Once I made it out of the water I ran to transition to get my bike. The wetsuit came off easy and the transition went smooth. I grabbed the bike from the rack and was on my way. My goal for this race was to go out hard on the bike and see what I could do. Only problem was I got caught up at times in packs of beginners. The race people went out of their way to educate racers about proper bike conduct. It was in the race packet and mentioned again at the pre race briefing. You have to stay to your right. So many riders today were riding all the way to the left and at times riding two abreast and chatting. Hello people!?! This is a race, not a social outing. There'll be plenty of time to talk later. This only fueled me to ride harder and faster at times. I could hear the Eminem lyrics in my head:

No more games, I'ma change what you call rage
Tear this motherfucking roof off like 2 dogs caged
I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed

I started to worry that I would blow myself out before I got to the run, but I had to get away from them. Then one woman almost brought me to a grinding halt. I was coming up on her so I said "On your left" as I was about to pass her. She decided to move left as well. I was now near the double yellow line and kept saying "on your left." Dumb bitch never gave me room and even had the balls to say "I heard you. Why don't you move more to the left." Oh no she didn't!?!?! I wanted to stop and beat the crap out of her right there. Instead I just picked up my pace and got out of there. The final half mile was rough because the road is narrow and you really can't pass anymore.

I made it to T2 and thought about how my tri almost turned into an MMA event. I think I had enough rage to take her down!! But now I had to run first. Got into my running shoes and made a mistake before leaving T2. In my anger/rage, I pulled my laces waaaaaay too tight. I didn't realize it until halfway into the run.

The run is a super flat out and back course. My goal was to just be comfortable out there. I started running as soon as I exited transition. I made my way down the boardwalk and out of the marina. I ran in fear of that woman tracking me down. I also ran in fear of my competition. I saw her in T2 and wanted to get as much distance between us as possible. I knew if I walked at all, she could possibly pass me. SO no walking today!! I made it to the turnaround and looked for my competition. When I made it back to the main road I saw her. There was a good distance between us, but now I wanted to put the hammer down and bring it home. No regrets today. At this point I could feel my foot going numb. Dang nab it, my laces were too tight. I made a quick stop to loosen them and the continued on. Didn't really lose any time over it. I was now nearing the marina again and could hear the finish line area. I just focused on hanging on. The last 1/4 mile is on grass. Great, nice unstable surface for me and my numb foot! Actually I got the feeling back in my foot by now, but really didn't want to run on the grass. As I crossed the finish line, I felt good knowing that I executed a good race plan. I knew right away that there wasn't anything I would have changed about the effort I put out today.

I got out of the finisher's area and went over to look at the results. Mine wasn't posted yet so I went to the car to get my post race recovery drink. By the time I made it back the times were posted. I shaved 7 minutes off my time from last year. Gotta say I was pretty happy about that. I was proud of what I did today. I was able to stay in the moment and not think too far ahead. It really fired me up for the rest of the season. My next race is the Montauk sprint. I'll take a look at last years results and review it with Jen to come up with a good game plan to take some more time off.

But for now, I get to celebrate my victory today:

Who cares about the hardware, I won some cookies!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Swimming in a fog

This morning I got up early to swim in the lake. Wynn & Teresa wouldn't be there since they were heading up to NH for a race this weekend. Ian would be there, but I can't keep up with him. He's fast in the water. He'll do laps around me so he keeps me in his sight, but I was hoping someone would come down that was somewhat my speed in the water. Wynn's friend Dave came down. He's slightly faster than me, but enough that I have someone to stay near. I certainly needed it this morning. This was by far the craziest swim I have ever done. There was a little chop in the lake from the wind, but the fog was super thick. I couldn't see anything. Ian pointed out the general direction for us to head in. You could throw sighting out the window. All I saw when I looked up was white. I could see along the surface of the water and a little bit ahead so I could see Dave, but Ian and John swam ahead of us and were out of sight. I finally made my way over to the other side and they were waiting for me. We chatted about the ridiculousness of the fog and laughed. Then we were on our way back. This is where it got strange.

Dave and I stayed together for the swim back. We were constantly stopping to orient ourselves. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I have no idea where we are. Do you know which way?
Dave: Not too sure. I think it's this way.
Me: Do you see a white house? That's what we need to swim towards.
Dave: Are those road signs over there? That's the road.
Me: Well, if we can't find the shoreline, we can swim to the signs and get out and walk back ;-)

I laughed the rest of the way back to the beach. I swear I didn't even see it until I was ~50 meters out. I just followed Dave and hoped for the best. I have to say it was probably the most memorable swim I've had. I've been in that lake dozens of times to swim and it's not that big. But today it was huge. Amazing what a little fog can do.

When I got home I took a little 'power nap' since I didn't feel like I slept well last night. Once I got up I changed for my run. Once again I completely forgot I have a race Sunday and wanted to wear my new DS Trainers (running shoes) so I had to break them in. I wore then today for a 4 miler and man, I love the way new sneakers feel. It was a little humid out, but there was a nice breeze blowing so I felt comfortable most of the time. It was a solid run and I'm feeling great about Sunday. My goal is strictly to use it as a training day and will not go into it with the mindset of racing. It's the first tri of the season for me and I want to gauge where I am at. I definitely feel better than I did at this time last year. My only goal for Sunday is to not fall apart on the run. Last year was a miserable run and it looks like a lot of it was due to barely eating prior to the race. Got that under control now so I'm hoping for a solid effort.

A "Good Luck" shout out to Wynn & Teresa up at Mooseman this weekend. I did that race back in 2006 as prep for Lake Placid. It's a great race and they should do well. Wynn is doing the half and Teresa is doing the olympic. Good Look Warriors!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Kickin' Ass, Takin' Names

That sums up my ride this morning. I got up early and had something to eat. Then I made my way downstairs to replace the xlab brackets on my Cervelo. Once that was done, I changed and went out for my ride. On the schedule was a moderate 1 hour effort with a few 90 second bursts thrown in. I can tell these workouts are having an effect on me because I am faster much earlier in the season than I was last year. I also feel like it's less effort to ride as well.........unless I am pushing for the green jersey of course. 

I cruise for my warmup and then I hit a nice patch of straightaway. Someone might have well been waving a green flag because I was off and flying.

I felt really good out there. The only downer was Wingman had to go to work so I was riding solo. I was doing our usual out and back ride. I made it to the turnaround over a minute faster than normal. I was looking down at my speed from time to time and saw some nice numbers. My goal was to maintain speed for the 2nd half of the ride. After I turned around it felt a little difficult to get that intensity up, but then I saw something ahead. Another rider on a tri bike. It was as if I smelled blood in the water. I get so competitive at times when I am riding. 

All I could think of was "reel him in." The goal of the workout was gone. There was a new goal. I knew I wouldn't be riding hard for too long - maybe another mile - so I went for it. I came up behind him and noticed he slowed down. I waited a second then passed him on the left and said good morning. Then I dropped the hammer. I channeled my inner Fabian:

Every once in a while I would drop my head to look back to see where he was. DOH!! He was still right behind me. I guess he was using me to pick up his speed as much as I was using him. I flew down to the next intersection and waved goodbye. The TT was over and I won.....well, can't really say that if he didn't even know he was racing, can I? I used the last 15 minutes of the ride as an 'easy' cool down. 

I made it home and had another breakfast. Legs are feeling good and I'll head out to take some pictures today. I took a few yesterday and put them up. Let's see what today brings me.