Jeff’s Triathlon Blog

"I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom." -Thomas Carlyle

Houston Tri Recap

Posted by Jeff on September 28, 2010

9/26/2010

Swim:  1,500 Meters
Bike:  24.85 Miles
Run:  6.2 Miles

OFFICIAL RESULTS

Pre-Race

Thanks to an snafu with my iPod alarm, I woke up late.  Luckily, my wife woke up around 4:51 AM and woke me up.  I had hoped to be out the door by 4:45 and on site by 5:15, but such is the way.  Luckily I had fully packed the evening before, so all I had to do was make my coffee and breakfast (bacon, egg and cheese on toast) and get out the door.  On the road by 5:05, so not terribly behind.

I arrive around 5:40 and get a pretty great parking spot.  It still amazes me that some athletes tend to not show up until close to race time.  Transition area closes at 6:15, so you’d think everyone would be there when it opens at 5:30… but who am I to judge.  So anyways, I get marked up, find my racking spot (at the end of a rack… very happy about that) and start setting up transition.

Eagle in transition

My transition area all set up and ready.

I find my buddy, Kenzie, who is nearby and we go on a little warm up jog.  I wanted to have a look at the swim, so we jogged that way.  Little did I know, the swim was about 0.25 miles away from transition!  That was going to be interesting (as you’ll see).

After warm up and a port-o-potty pit stop, it’s back to transition for final prep and to get ready to head to the water.  As part of my final prep, I stretch, apply Body Glide and listen to one of my favorite pre-race songs on the iPod for a little pumping up:  “Amazing” by Kanye West.  Not sure why, but that song gets me in the race mood.

Now… off to the swim start!  I get over there and realize I forgot the banana I was going to eat before the race.  Oh well.  Unfortunately, my wave (Male 25-29) doesn’t go until 7:40, so I’m basically just hanging out at the start for an hour.  In the meantime I do a lot of stretching.  Some of it necessary, some just nervous.  Some to take my mind off the fact that I have to pee.  I also find Aaron (one of the guys I train with) and we chat for a while.

Swim

7:35 comes and my wave enters the water.  I’m a strong swimmer, so I don’t want to be stuck behind the masses, so I like to get in front of the pack.

The swim is oriented into a two loop 750 meter course.  Unfortunately, this means that swimmers from previous waves would be coming around and merging into us as we were starting.  This also meant that by the time I did my first lap, I would be swimming over the slow swimmers from the waves before AND after mine… ugh.  Oh well.  I can do it…

I positioned myself up front and on the inside, closest to the merging lane.  Probably not the best idea, in retrospect.  7:40, siren goes off!  As planned, being in the front of the group helps me break away from anyone around who may slow me up.  I do see a few guys from my wave keeping up, so it looks like this is one of those tris where I won’t be the only one who knows how to swim!

Everything about the swim was great, except for the crowds.  I wasn’t really able to just get in my groove and find a comfortable swim pace as I was continually having to navigate around slower swimmers.  On the second lap there was a good section of the course where I was finally spread out and could get swimming with minimal sighting/avoiding.  Then I was caught up in the tangle again.  A few times I had to have a burst speed to slip between swimmers and find open water.  In any case, I did it.  And it was a pretty solid swim, all things considered.  I can definitely see how a weaker swimmer or anyone with open water anxiety would just HATE this swim course.

OFFICIAL TIME: 26:37.1
UNOFFICIAL PACE:  1:45 / 100 m.

My goal was to pace 1:35-1:40.  Given the increased amount of navigation and swimming over people, I’m not at all unhappy about a 1:45 pace.  I was 5th in the swim.  Of the 4 guys ahead of me, 3 finished in the top 10.

Transition 1

As I mentioned before, there was a 0.25 mile separation between swim exit and transition.  About halfway into my jog to transition I got a calf cramp… not sure why.  Luckily there was a water/Gatorade station on the way, so I fueled with some Gatorade, had a 5-second calf stretch, and got back to jogging.

First thing I did when I got back to my spot was to eat that banana I forgot about.  Especially important now that there was already a calf cramp in the mix.

I then put on a sock (a fun feat with a wet foot).  As I reach for the second, I realize I forgot to put Body Glide on the balls of my feet.  I had a problem with blistering on one foot, so I wanted to be sure to BG it.  Off with the socks, BG on, back on with the socks.  A bit of a time waster…

Everything thing else gets on, but at this point I realize I forgot my racing sunglasses.  I knew I would forget something, dammit!  Luckily it was overcast, so the sun wouldn’t be a problem.  Unfortunately, though, now I wasn’t going to have a wind-block for my eyes.

Too late to worry about it now…

OFFICIAL TIME:  5:19.8 (this includes the 0.25 mi. run)

Even with the run, that T1 time is pretty slow.  I could probably cut a minute or two off that if I would do a practice transition a few times during training.

Bike

To the bike mount line I run and on I jump!  As I mentioned, the weather is overcast.  Due to a incoming front, it’s a little windy too.  As such, it was a little chilly for the first 5 minutes, until my tri suit had finally dried a bit.

I’ve mentioned before that I really haven’t done much bike training… so I’m unsure of how well the bike will go.  The bike course is a two loop course, so you go out and back twice.  Well, this nice wind we had put a nice little headwind on the way out, which made cycling all that much more difficult!  All I could do was get into a low gear and stay low on my tri handles.  Luckily, the way back was with the wind, so I was able to gear up to almost my highest gear and really get some speed to make up for the loss.

I tried to be cognizant of my power as I didn’t want to overdo it and not be able to use my legs on the run.  I had two bottles of Gatorade/water mix on the bike that I made sure I finished before it was over, with the hopes of avoiding cramps on the run.

As usual, all the guys I left in the dust on the swim eventually caught up and passed me on their super-tri bikes with their clincher/disc wheels and fancy whatnots.  Interestingly enough, most of them didn’t pass me until the second lap, though.

OFFICIAL TIME:  1:20:22
OFFICIAL PACE: 19.3 mph

I have to say, I was really happy with my bike.  I got a little tired at the end, but made myself try to keep the pace up.  Obviously it paid off.

My goal was to race at a pace of at least 18 mph.  I think 19.3 isn’t too bad for a guy who has been on his bike a grand total of 5 times this season!  I’m sure the wind at my back helped, so I won’t take that pace as a true representation of my flatland speed.  (For reference, the guy in 1st went 24.8 mph).

Transition 2

I came into transition and got a little confused.  I was looking for racking spot #170… my number was 107.  Whoops.

After finding it, I racked up and immediately ate another banana (again, trying to stave off cramping on the run).  I also quickly downed some more water and put on my watch (I wanted to try to monitor my pace) and was headed out.  WAIT!  I forgot to take my Endurolyte pills (electrolyte supplements that help keep cramps away).  Pop ’em and I’m off (again).

Run

I jogged for a good 50-100 feet before stopping to quickly stretch my calves on a nearby curb.  I like to do this as a precaution.  Nothing worse that a locked up calf to start a 6 mile run.

For the first mile, I always try to keep my pace comfortable.  After that, I amp it up a bit to race pace.  At mile 2 I stop at the water station for some water and eat a Hammer Gel.

My watch shows I’m pacing at about 8:40/mi. which has me excited.  Given my level of fatigue, still being able to pull 8:40/mi. and feel like I have more to give was pretty great!

The run course was really nice.  A lot of running around neighborhood lakes and on gravel running trails.  Much more enjoyable than being on a road or sidewalk the whole time.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  I think it was about mile 3 where my right quad muscle started to disagree with me.  The pain was making it difficult to keep a pace (or to get power from my right leg).  I tried walking it off for a few seconds, but stopping seemed to make it hurt worse.  So, I figured, “Well, this is going to hurt either way I do it… I didn’t come this far let this stop me.  Just going to have to push through the pain.”

And I did.  And it hurt.  But that wasn’t slowing me down…

Mile 5 was interesting as it had us running through a sports complex (Berry Center) and up some ramps.  That certainly didn’t help the quad.  Again, though… just power through the pain.

Luckily, most of mile 6 was gravel, which helped it feel better.  I still maintained a nice pace.  By now the left quad was starting to act up as well.

The last quarter mile, I picked it up to “finish pace”, which was probably somewhere in the 7:30/mi. pace range.  By this time my quads were in a good deal of pain.  I knew stopping and walking wasn’t an option… so I just pushed harder.

As soon as I could see the finish line, I went into my dead sprint… quads be damned!

And I finished!  A quick stop to let them take my timing chip, give me a water bottle and throw an ice cold towel on my neck, and I hobbled off to the finish area to rest and attempt to stretch my spasmodic quads.

OFFICIAL TIME:  54:15.5
OFFICIAL PACE: 8:45/mi.

My goal was to do a sub-9:00 pace, so I am very happy with the results!  Especially with my legs feeling the way they did.

I was really really proud of my run.  I really feel like I pushed myself instead of folding or even taking it easy to rest my aching muscles.  I knew it was going to hurt, either way… so might as well go down in a blaze of glory!

OFFICIAL FINISH TIME: 2:48:47.9

Age Group Rank:  20th of 59

I’m really happy with that time and  I definitely enjoyed the race.  The course was nice and challenging and the weather really cooperated.  I achieved all my race goals (even beat Aaron by 2 seconds!) and feel like I left it all on the course with no regrets!

I can definitely see myself doing this one again in the future, but for now, it was a great race to end my tri season and begin my prolonged time off.

I’ve said it before, there really is no feeling quite like crossing the finish line of a race and really feeling like you pushed it to the max and gave it your all.  The sense of pride and accomplishment is such an amazing feeling… one which I hope everyone gets to feel at some point in their life!

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New Tire, No Added Bike Speed

Posted by Jeff on September 24, 2010

I put on my new tire a few days ago and finally got Eagle (my bike) on the road this morning to test it out.  Luckily, no blowout or wobbling or anything… so I suppose I did it correctly.

Sadly, the tire didn’t add 2-3 mph to my bike speed.  Not that it was supposed to, but it would be nice if it would.

I can’t decide if I want to keep this bike after this tri.  I’ll be going on a tri hiatus for a while, so I’m thinking of throwing it on Craigslist and buying a better one when I get back into it.

Nick, a guy I work out with on occasion, saw my bike yesterday.  He called it “vintage”.  I don’t think that inspires confidence.  It’s not that old.  I don’t think.  Then again, he just spent a nice chunk of change on a brand new custom bike, so maybe he’s the wrong one to ask if my bike is worth it’s salt…

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T-Minus 3 Days

Posted by Jeff on September 23, 2010

Three days until the Houston Tri!

Picked up my packet yesterday.  I was disappointed with the shirt.  The design is great, but they opted for a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend, which isn’t even that great for a t-shirt.  Most races I’ve done give you tech shirts which are so much better.  I figured with a title sponsor like Memorial Hermann and an organizer like OnUrLeft that the shirt would be a little higher quality.

But hey, if a bad t-shirt is the worst thing about this race, I’ll consider it a good investment!

So technically, I was supposed to start my taper on Wednesday, but I kinda went a little harder than I should have with my run workout that day.  I’m going to try to keep the swim workout today under control and tomorrow I’m going to do an easy bike ride.  Obviously Saturday will be a rest day (and I’ll be at the UH Football game anyways…)

I finally put a new tire on my back wheel.  The old one had a bad gash that was just asking for a blowout.  I’m hoping it will hold up alright (my first time changing a tire… remarkably).

Aside from that, I’m working on my race nutrition strategy.  Usually I go with a Hammer Gel right before the swim, a half a banana just before jumping on the bike, a bottle of electrolyte drink and a bottle of water while on the bike, the other half of the banana before starting the run (trying to stave off cramps) and a final Hammer Gel after about a mile on the run.  We’ll see how that goes.

Oh, and I guess I’ll be carbo-loading from tonight until Sunday.  Wife made spaghetti for dinner!

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Goals for the Houston Tri

Posted by Jeff on September 13, 2010

You have to train and race with purpose.  You just have to, otherwise, what’s the point?

I know I’m not racing to win this thing.  I don’t have the time or dedication to put into the training I would need to really be a competitor and try to trophy up.  I know this because I train with some people who do train to win… their dedication is insane.

Not to say I couldn’t do it, I just don’t want to.  I’m a casual triathlete, not a competitive one.

Anyways, back to the point… you don’t always have to compete to win, but you have to compete for something.  You have to have some goals to make it all worth it, in the end.

So, without further adieu, here are my goals for my upcoming Houston Tri:

1) Maintain race effort.  No taking it easy.  Attempt to complete entire run without stopping/walking (except at water stations).

2) Finish swim with a pace of 1:35-1:40/100 m.  Ideally, 1:35.  If I finish 1:30, I’ll be ecstatic.

3) Finish bike with a pace of 18 mph.  I’d like to get 20, but since I haven’t been diligent about bike training, I’ll keep it conservative.  Anything higher than 18 will be a delight!

4) Finish run with a sub 9:00/mile run pace.  This one will take some work.  I’ve been doing a lot of work on my run, so hopefully it pays off!

5) Finish tri in under 2 hours, 45 min.  My last oly tri I went 2:42:15, but this one has a swim that is broken up in two parts… which may add a minute or so.  If I break 2:42:00, I’ll go nuts!

6) Beat Aaron!  This is a friendly rivalry.  He’s the guy I swim with.  I think we will be fairly even on the swim, then he’ll destroy me on the bike (he says he wants to pace in the high 20’s!) and I’ll have to come back and catch him on the run (he hasn’t done much run work, so he isn’t confident in that leg of the race).

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2 Weeks Until Houston Tri!

Posted by Jeff on September 13, 2010

I was just flipping through my calendar and noticed that the Houston Tri is next weekend!  Very stoked about that!  It’s been a long training season (I haven’t done any other tri’s this year) and I’m feeling good and ready to race!

I’m still not 100% sure how good it will be… I have really slacked on my bike training and I’ve only done 1 quasi-brick.  I may try to do some two-a-day workouts this week to try and get some biking in.  I say that, but we’ll see.  On the plus side, the bike workouts I have done feel good and I am pacing around 17-18 mph, which isn’t terrible.  Ideally I want to race at 20 mph, but I’ll be happy with 18.

In any case… ready to BUST IT!  I guess this week I’ll get some balls-to-the-wall high intensity training in and next week get my taper on.

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DailyMile.com

Posted by Jeff on August 18, 2010

For anyone really interested in my day-to-day training, I’ve created an account at www.DailyMile.com.

Here’s a link to my profile:  CLICK HERE!! ZOMG!!1!!

I usually post my workout there daily.  It’s a nice way for others to see what I am doing and a way for me to get some motivation and workout ideas from others.  Really a great training tool, so far.  And it’s fun to brag a bit about my hard work!

Log on.  Be my friend.  I need validation.

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Ouch. Shots hurt.

Posted by Jeff on August 18, 2010

Had to get an immunization shot yesterday (DTaP).  Apparently there is a raise in cases of pertussis (whooping cough), so anyone expecting to be in contact with a newborn baby has to get immunized.

The shot was fine.  Went in to the shoulder and didn’t even feel it.  Had the nurse not put a bandaid on it, I wouldn’t have even known she poked me.

Until a few hours later.  My shoulder felt like I had been doing 100 pound shoulder presses.   To make matters worse, it was a swim day, so that evening I was supposed to get an hour worth of swim in… superb.

Well, I did make it through, but it hurt.  Obviously my power was diminished, but I tried to grit my teeth and power through.  By the end of the workout, I was pretty much done using my left arm for the rest of the night.

Here was the workout, in case you need a good swim set:

Mini Pyramids – Total Distance: 2500 m.
Warm Up:  200
Main Set:  5 x (50, 100, 150, 100, 50)
50’s on 1:00 – Fast Pace
100’s on 2:00 – Cruise -:05 Pace
150’s on 3:00 – Cruise Pace
Extra 1:00 rest between each set.
Warm Down: 50 easy.

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She’s a BRICK! Hooooouse!

Posted by Jeff on August 12, 2010

Gonna do my first brick of the season tomorrow.  I’ve been putting it off on my last few rides.  Time to put up or shut up!

Going on my Firethorne route for a good 1 hr – 1.25 hr ride, then try to run at least a mile.  Maybe more, if time permits.

Riding/Running with a training partner, Kenzie DeLaTorre.  Let’s hope he keeps me motivated!

I was planning on running some sprint work tomorrow, but I guess I’ll move that to Saturday.

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Training Update – 8/6/10

Posted by Jeff on August 6, 2010

The Houston Tri is a mere 7 weeks away!

I went on my first bike workout of the season last weekend.  I know, I know… I’m a little late getting started with the bike.  I can’t help it.  I do not enjoy cycling.  In any case, it was a nice slow pace, high cadence ride for about 2 hours or 36 miles.  I used it less as a workout and more as a chance to get reminded of how it feels to ride.

Hate it.  Neck kills from having to look up the whole time and the pain the ass from the seat is so miserable.  I really wish I could go spend a few hundred bucks for a fancy new seat that is a little more comfortable, but alas, with a baby on the way, it’s not in the budget.

I’ll be going on another bike ride tomorrow morning.  Going to shoot for at least 2 hours again.  Probably do the same route as I liked it well enough.  I’ll probably try to pick up the pace and get a little more of a workout this time.  I may also go ahead and get some running in afterward seeing as how I haven’t done a single brick yet this season.

I’m still getting up in the morning 3 times a week and getting in 6 miles, so that’s good.  And, typically, I’m still swimming twice a week for a total of around 5,000 meters per week.  Not bad.

I’m contemplating starting dual workouts as early as next week.  I really need more bike work, so I think I’ll start biking in the evenings of my run days.  Meh, we’ll see.  There is a good 12 mile out-and-back route right here by work which I could do for speed work once a week.  That’s a possibility.

In any case… that’s where I’m at.  I know you care…  🙂

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Race Schedule Change

Posted by Jeff on June 28, 2010

One quick note…

I’ve decided NOT to participate in the 2010 Half-Full Tri.  The race date is too close to my pregnant wife’s due date for me to be comfortable with leaving the state.

But, so as not to waste my training or end my season on a non-competitive note, I’ve signed up for a local race, instead!  I still wanted to do a half-iron, but the only one locally would be the Iron Star, which is the weekend AFTER my wife’s due date.  I assume I’ll be busy, so I decided not to sign up for that one…

So, I went with the next best thing (and my favorite distance), an Olympic.  So, it looks like the culmination of my training this season will lead me to the Houston Tri in September.

I’m officially registered and ready to go!  I will be compiling a list of my race specific goals sometime soon.  As soon as I do, I’ll post them.

Train hard!

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