Monday, October 26, 2009

Longhorn 70.3 - taking my own advice

In an entry about a week ago, I wrote about how you have some control over your performance goals, but there are a few factors you can't control (e.g. weather); and that once you do your best performance, you can't control the actual outcome (i.e. how you do compared to others). I concluded with this remark:

"In the end, you just do what you trained for and hopefully can be happy that you gave it all you had..."

Today, as I was contemplating my race on Sunday, I found that I needed to take my own advice and be happy about my performance for that given race on that given day. I really had done well, and was able to complete in 5:07, which is very close to what I thought I could do. No use worrying and wondering about if I could have done better on the swim, or why my bike time wasn't quite what I expected... I gave it my best and had a good race. And if you can't be happy with that, maybe you need to think about why you are racing!

So, sports psychology aside, I'll dig into the full race report... and don't forget to check out the Hope for Kidz link!

As I mentioned in my last post, I had been sick for the last few days leading up to the race; so I ended up doing absolutely nothing after a short swim on Wednesday morning. Another one of those "be happy for what you have" considerations, as if I had been sick one more day I wouldn't have been able to race at all! The only negative was that I ended up pretty wired by Saturday night after laying around all week, so I had a hard time getting to sleep. Ended up with less than 4 hours of sleep, but drank some coffee, got ready, and headed to the race site. Got things ready for the race without any issues, did some warmup sprints, and it was time to go!

Dumb mistake number one. I *always* hang back a bit and to the side to start the swim, because getting tangled up with a bunch of other hyped up males ends up doing more harm than good (at least for me). This time, I started to the side, but too far in the front. The first part of the swim, I paid for that, as I got clocked pretty good a couple times and in general had a rough time. Finally got into my own space, and was able to settle into a good rhythm. The winds were unusually strong for that early in the morning, so there was a lot of chop in the water as well; especially on the way in. Thank goodness it was a wetsuit swim! I was very happy to get out of the water, and ended up with a swim time of 36:40. I knew I'd lose time from last year's swim, when the swim course ended up being short, but that was about 2 minutes or so slower than I hoped. Oh well, no worries :)

Transitions were very different in this race, in that we actually had two transition sites; one for the swim to bike; and then a different location for bike to run. In order to facilitate that, we had to take all our swim gear (including wetsuit) and any loose items that weren't going on the bike - and stuff them into our T1 bag before we headed out on the bike. The race folks grabbed those bags later and brought them over to the race finish. Ended up working out great, just slightly more confusing. Got through it fairly quickly, though, and headed out on the bike.

I am not a power biker, I like to get the longer flatter sections where I can really wind up my cadence and fly. So, this course is a little tougher for me than a flat course like the Lonestar triathlon in Galveston. A lot of up and down, a couple good hills, and fairly rough road surfaces. And a pretty good wind as well, so the bike ended up being a challenge. I could track my average pace on my Garmin, so I could tell I was not going to make up any time on the bike. I actually had to work pretty hard just to keep in the same range as my bike time from last year. I didn't want to overdo the bike at the expense of the run (classic and most common triathlon mistake), so I just kept chugging along and trying to keep as close to 20 mph avg as I could. I completed the bike in just over 2:48 (19.9 mph avg), and have to admit that I was a little frustrated at that point. I knew breaking 5 hours was no longer achievable, and hoped that I still had a good run in me to keep it close to that 5 hour target.

As mentioned earlier, the transitions were in different locations. I had left my running gear in a bag at my T2 bike spot the day before. So, I pulled into transition, racked the bike, and pulled my shoes and hat out of the bag and took off. Pretty simple and quick.

The run course was 3 loops, which was a nice way to break up the half marathon distance. Each loop was a do-able 4+ miles. I started out on the first loop, and I could tell I was going pretty fast; but my heart rate was OK and I wanted to make up some time - so I didn't back off much. After a couple miles, I started settling in and could tell that I would have a pretty good run; barring any unforeseen issues. The sun had come out to play, so it was warming up into the 70's (ended up in upper 70's I believe). At the end of the first loop, I saw my wife Susie and my mother-in-law; who had shown up to cheer me on for the last part of the race. For the friends and family that do this - THANK YOU!!! You just can't believe what a boost it is when you know you're going to see some friendly faces cheering you on, especially on a loop course like that.

The second loop I was still holding a pretty good pace, and feeling pretty strong. Perhaps that "forced taper" I referred to in my previous blog entry was helping me out, or maybe having done nearly 1300 miles of running this year, or both! :) I came across one guy my same age that had just exited a "pit stop", and ran with him for about 1 1/2 miles. He was going a good pace, and it helped me to just focus on his feet and not think about anything else. Eventually, he seemed to fade slightly and I moved on ahead.

The last loop ended up being the gut-check part of the run, not surprisingly. I started to slow a little, but was determined to keep pushing and finish it strong. When I got past the 11 mile mark, I got that "smell the barn" feeling where you get that extra push of energy knowing that you are (finally!) almost done... I finished with a run time just over 1:35, which I was very happy with. Nearly the same run time as I did at Lonestar in Galveston earlier this year, but on a tougher day and course.

The finish was very cool, by the way. As you can see in the video below, we finished with a half loop inside an arena (I'm the third one in that group). Very nice for the fans, and a lot of fun for the racers. Thank you Keith Jordan and Endorfun Sports!

So, my total race time was 5:07:47. That put me in the top 10% of my age group (over 140 in my age group), and I was very happy to achieve that with such a competitive field. There are always things to work on and pick on, but as I discussed at the top of this entry; for now it is time to enjoy the feeling of having given it all I had. I set out this year to do over 500 miles of racing, and I am down to the last race on my agenda (Ironman Cozumel on November 29th). No matter what happens there, I've been blessed with some great experiences and fun times, and that is why I do this in the first place.

Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link

Race Schedule:

January 11: RunTex 20 Miler (20 mile run) -> COMPLETED

January 25: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon (27.2 miles run/bike/run) -> COMPLETED

February 15: Austin Marathon (26.2 mile run)-> COMPLETED

April 5: Lonestar 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles swim/bike/run) -> COMPLETED

April 20: Boston Marathon (26.2 mile run) -> COMPLETED

July 19: Marble Falls Triathlon (28 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

Sep 07: Austin Triathlon (32 miles s/b/r) -> COMPLETED

September 19: Redman ironman distance Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED

October 25: Longhorn 1/2 Ironman Triathlon (70.3 miles s/b/r)-> COMPLETED

November 29: Ironman Cozumel Triathlon (140.6 miles s/b/r)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Forced taper

Been a little sick for the last couple of days (began Wed afternoon). Nothing major, but keeping me from doing any type of exercise. So, assuming I'm back to full health on Sunday, we'll see if this "forced taper" ends up being a good thing or a bad thing! :)

Going to be an interesting race - first time I've done a race with 2 different transition areas, and the first time to finish inside an arena. Good times...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Getting ready for another race

Next weekend (Sunday) is the Longhorn 70.3 half ironman. Usual mix of excitement and nervousness that precedes a race... I guess that will never change. I feel pretty well recovered from the Redman triathlon 4 weeks ago - we'll see how true that is about 2 or 3 hours into the race, though.

I was just reading through some of my coaching materials, and it talked about performance goals vs. outcome goals. Performance is how you actually do in terms of your time, and outcome is your actual placing in the race. They made a good point that you have much more control over the former vs. the latter. So, it's healthier to focus more of your energy on your own performance; and then see where that leaves you in terms of the outcome. For example, if I broke 5 hours in this half IM, I would be thrilled. That may put me in the top 10 of my age group, it may not (there will likely be over 100 in my age group). That part I can't stress over. Even the performance goals can be affected by things outside your control - weather, inaccurate distances in the events, mechanical issues, etc. In the end, you just do what you trained for and hopefully can be happy that you gave it all you had :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not loving the weather folks...

They just can't seem to get it right. My report from the Redman triathlon 3 weeks ago outlined some rain issues that the forecasters completely missed; and things seem to be continuing along those lines. This past Saturday, they all said it would be mid-50's in the morning and overcast; and then clear up and warm to low 70's by the afternoon. Great day for a long bike ride, right? Well, they got the first part right, but the second part never happened. Stayed mid-50's and overcast the entire day, so after 5 hours on the bike I was a bit of a popsicle. I know that for the northern folk and those inclined to like cool weather that sounds ridiculous, but for my southern blood and reptilian nature (can't keep myself warm); that was not pleasant.

The next day they had a 20% chance of afternoon showers. I luckily decided to get my long run in early, because I was done around 9:30 am, and 5 minutes later I looked out the window and saw it pouring down rain, which continued for most of the day.

So, here's my question... If these people can't even give you an accurate weather forecase one day out -> how in the world can anybody take them seriously when they try to predict weather patterns over the next 50 or 100 years?!?

Please see this website to read more about the HFK program and to make donations:
RMI Hope For Kidz Website Link


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Must allow for fun!

I did a 5K run this past weekend, and was reminded that these events can be a lot more fun when you take the pressure off yourself in regards to performance. Since I didn't have any particular goals or specific time that I was shooting for, I simply showed up for the race and had a great time! I did very well (for me); so it wasn't a matter of how hard I raced; it was just the mental perspective of not being overly concerned with how I did. I really need to take more of that perspective into my goal races... I've done the training and preparation, so now go out and give it my best shot and let the chips fall where they may :) Easier said than done for the big races, but worrying doesn't help your time any, that's for sure.