Thursday, April 30, 2009

Test time. Let's see where I'm at.

This weekend I will have a real chance to see how my training is going as I prepare for the upcoming Ironman. I'll be heading down to the White Lake Half-Ironman Friday afternoon with my buddy Jerry. It was here in 2004 that Jerry and I first became friends. I had been a regular at the NCRC club meetings for a few years and had met Jerry but never really talked to him before. At the club meeting a few weeks before the race Jerry announced that the race needed volunteers for the Half-Ironman which is held the day before the sprint in which he would be doing his first open water swim. I was also doing the Sprint Tri on Sunday so I told Jerry I would volunteer to take my kayak and help with the swim on Saturday and then race on Sunday.

I learned as we made our plans that Jerry was late becoming a swimmer after having a near drowning experience in his youth so we decided that I would go with him with my kayak out to Falls Lake and let him practice while I paddled along beside for safety. These practices helped boost his confidence and afterwards we had a great trip together down to the races and have since become great friends sharing many marathon and triathlon trips over the years.

White Lake is a great venue for the events with a calm, clear sandy bottom lake for the swim and flat, lightly traveled roads for the bike and swim. My first race there was in 1999 and it was staged at Goldston Beach. My younger son Jeremy and I went and spent a great weekend there together and I did the sprint. The following year the race moved to the FFA camp on the other side of the lake where it has been held ever since. The camp makes it even more special and is one of the reasons for the races popularity. Many athletes and their familys make a weekend out of it staying on site.

I did the sprint again in 2000 and 2001 and then in 2002 I finally entered my first Half-Ironman. It was a real learning experience for me. I wore a wetsuit for the first time and had leg cramps early in the swim. It was also the longest swim I had ever done and I was so glad to finally get out of the water. I was struggling to get out of the wetsuit and as one of the young lady volunteers was trying to help pull it off my legs I cramped in both calves. Despite the troubles I still had a decent swim time and was right at my goal pace.

I efet good on the bike early and was cruising along at a better than expected pace but at 5 miles or so I reached for my flask of energy gel and noticed it had fallen off my bike. So for the next 51 miles I had no source of calories to replenish what I would be burning. I still pedaled along at a great pace, even better than I had hoped until the last 10 miles. Then the wheels seemed to become made of stone and I struggled as I began to bonk badly. My longest ride leading up to the race had been 30 miles and I had just ridden nearly twice that far and my body was depleted. I was soooo happy to finally get my butt off that bicycle seat and start the run. But again I had only missed my target time by 5 minutes so I was still hopeful I could reach my goal with a good run.

Unfortunately I didn't have a good run. My legs were dead from the bike and I was never able to recover from the glycogen depletion from having no calories in the first 4hours of the event. It was also very hot and humid so I had to do a run/walk the entire run portion and ended up with my slowest half marathon ever before or since. My goal had been 6 hours but due to the slow run I didn't even break 6:30, finishing in 6:30:47. I then decided that I never wanted to do an Ironman. I just didn't like riding the bike that far and going twice as far seemed like the last thing I would ever want to do. I also didn't care for being in the water that long. Maybe if I could run the 140.6? Anyway I continued to compete in shorter sprint and olympic distance tris for another 3 years until I quit to focus on my ultrarunning. Which brings us back to last summer when I began riding and swimming again for the first time in 3 years and in a momentary lapse of reason, signed up to do the Ironman this summer.

I look forward to the weekend. Bill And Margo will also be competing in the half so I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun no matter how the race turns out. I'm feeling good and confidnet I will do well even though I have not tapered for the event. It is just a stepppiong stone in my training for the big one but I still hope to do well. My training ids going ok. I'm confident on the swim and the running is going ok. I still have not ridden the bike nearly as much as I had hoped up to this point but I have been riding strong. Just not long.

Look for a report soon.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Riverwood Golf and Athletic Club Sprint Triathlon

On Saturday April 25th I traveled the short distance over to Clayton for this sprint triathlon for a workout in my preparation for my upcoming Ironman in 7 weeks. I had never participated in this event because I usually find myself running a couple of ultra's in April. My main reason for choosing this one this year other than needing to get in some practice and have some fun is that my friends Bill and Margherita Scott live in this neighborhood. I knew it would be a fun event and I'd get a chance to visit with my friends.

I headed over a little early and after some coffee at the Scotts, we rode our bikes the short 1/4 mile over to the race site at the Athletic Club. Heat had finally arrived with Spring in the area and it was already a warm morning, but very pleasant for hanging around waiting for the start. This one had a pool swim and my start time was 8:46 so I had a little time to kill while I waited. Bill and Margo were doing a relay with their daughter Stephanie doing the swim and she was going to start about 2 minutes before me.

There was nowhere to warm up for the swim close to race time so I was going to go in without a chance to get adjusted. I felt smooth in the water but was wondering if I was taking it too easy. I had predicted I would do the 300 yrds in 5:30 and after I climbed the ladder out of the pool I looked at my watch and it was at 5:36 so I was dead on with that prediction.

I was quickly in and out of transition and started on the bike. I was happy to feel good right from the start. One really good thing about the bike course is that the 1st 5 miles or mainly flat and slightly downhill making for easy pedaling and also it allows you to get your legs warmed up. I felt I was making good time and as I passed the 5 mile mark I was averaging 19.6 mph.

The next 5 miles would be a little more difficult with a few hills but no really steep or long climbs and a bit more of a head wind. My average at 10 miles had slowed to 19.0 but I still felt great. The course saved the worst for last though. The biggest hills including the toughest one in the last half mile slowed me to 18.4. I made a mistake and shifted too quickly into a bigger gear near the top of that one and had a sharp pain shoot in my hip at the ITB connection causing me to have to stop pedaling and lose my momentum. Fortunately the pain subsided after about 30 seconds after I finished the climb and would not bother me the rest of the day.

I knew as soon as I climbed off the bike that I would not be running well today. As I ran my bike through transition my legs felt completely dead and I was moving so slow. I was regretting not doing any bricks since the Azalea Festival Tri 6 weeks ago. All I had to do was rack my bike and take off my helmet so I was quickly out on the run course. The good part was it was mainly downhill to start allowing me to get the legs moving and control my breathing. The bad part was I would have to come back up that hill.

I was a little surprised at my one mile split and the 2nd mile I actually picked up the pace a bit. But then I hit the hills on the return and reality set in. I just do more hill repeats. And bike riding.

But overall it was a great day, a lot of fun and nice to hang out with the Scott family. Unfortunately I have no photos from this one.

Here is a link to the race website

Monday, April 20, 2009

Umstead 100 volunteering and photos

Yes, I'm a little behind on my writing and not much to report here. It was a pleasure to once again be in attendance at the Umstead 100 miler. I love the atmosphere of the event and it is so nice to have a weekend with so many runners that come year after year to race or help out. So many volunteers come from the NCRC as well as quite a few MTC folks. And there are always some from the clubs in the races to cheer on. I think it is so neat to see new volunteers and pacers that come out for the first time and see them become excited about the event only to return as an entrant in later years.

I started my volunteering a little later this year. I knew that I would not be pacing my normal 37.5 with Anita Fromm this year since her husband Tim would be sharing in that duty so I decided to go ahead and run my normal workout with Karla Saturday morning. It was a gorgeous day and we had a good run while watching the race and cheering on the familiar faces as we made our way through the park. Afterwards, about noon I headed over to Camp Lapihio to check in and begin my day of helping out at Sally's Asylum aid station. We had plenty of hel;p during the day so there wasn't too much to do but it was great to watch the race and give out the occasional assistance to the runners.

About 6:30 I changed clothes and prepared to meet Anita to begin her 6th lap. She had been having a good day but was a little behind her hoped for pace. She seemed in good spirits when we went out but she was already tired and not feeling too well and knew that today was not going to be a pr day for her so we just planned on having our usual good time running together and get her to the finish as comfortably as possible. We did have some fun and it was nice to get caught up since we hadn't seen each other in a year and it had been two years since last I paced her. But apparently she had been running too much too hard recently and her energy was fading fast. I hoped to keep her motivated and moving but after a break at the end of the loop she called it quits so I only got to pace her 12.5 miles this year.

I went back up to the lodge and changed clothes. I considered finding someone else to pace but there were plenty of volunteer pacers waiting for runners when I got up there and some had been waiting for an hour for someone to come in to run with. I had already run 25 miles for the day and since I'm not really in ultra shape right now I decided to just hang out in the lodge and offer any help as needed. If a friend had come in wanting a pacer and no one was available I'd have gone out. It was a lot of fun hanging out in the lodge watching the runners come in after finishing and others that were preparing to head out for another loop in the night. It was all the more pleasureable since Laura The Trail Angel was working the night shift. It has been way to long since I'd been able to see her too.

Here is a link to the few photos I took.

And here are some Laura took in the lodge

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Raleigh Rocks ! Half-Marathon

With my focus on getting ready for the Ironman this summer and the fact that my running is not yet back to where I want it to be, I hadn't planned on running this race. I was looking forward to another wonderful long run in Umstead Saturday morning with my usual training partner , The Marathon Princess and possibly The Ultra Angel who joins us on occasion. I went into work at my part-time job Thursday at The Athletes Foot CV which is one of the race sponsors and saw that two free entries were not being used so I called Karla and asked her if she would rather run the race Saturday and after a few hours deliberation she called back and said sure.

So on a warm and muggy Spring Saturday morning we found ourselves preparing for the race with no real plan other than to have some fun. I knew I was in no shape to race a fast time so I was just going to run it with her for the fun and training. On Friday, I had decided I wanted to get back started with some speedwork so I had done some half-mile repeats thinking they wouldn't have much effect on todays event. Karla wasn't sure how fast she wanted to run so we decided to take it easy the first mile, then try and settle into 9 minute pace and see how it felt and go from there.

We lined up in the middle of the 1,600 or so starters and as planned took off easy. The course begins with a big loop of downtown Raleigh and is fairly flat and we hit the first mile in 9:05. That felt fine so we just settled in for the long run. I was already drenched from the high humidity but it was not too hot and was comfortable enough. We were having a lot of fun and chatting away as is usual on our training runs.

As the course turns away from downtown and heads west along Hillsborough St it begins a long steady climb and our pace had slowed a little as the effort stayed the same. Around the 4 mile mark , Chris Damico joined in with us. The three of us shared the next several miles enjoying the music from the bands along the way and our conversation. At around the 8 mile mark the course turned onto the greenway at the NC Museum of Art, a very pretty area but also hilly. I was still feeling good as we made the long descent and I snapped a few pictures along here. But then as we hit the first little hill I could tell I was not feeling strong and felt I was giving out too much effort for the pace we were running. I think I was feeling those repeats from Friday and I realized I had not been drinking and was probably getting dehyrated from the warm muggy conditions.

We made the final big climb and then over the I-440 pedestrian bridge onto the Meredith College campus at 9 miles and I could tell Karla was pushing the pace now. I was struggling a bit to keep up and fell a few steps behind her and Chris as I tried to recover from the hills. Mile 10 was just past the College and I stopped to take a gel and drink some water thinking with my leg speed I could catch back up on the predominantly downhill of the next 5k. I took off in pursuit feeling a little better and running a good pace on the slight downhill, slowly gaining ground on Karla. After a short time I realized that she was also picking up the pace some more. I would make up some of the gap and a few minutes later look up and see the gap had widened again. This went on for another mile and a half and I finally accepted the fact that I was not going to catch her today. The rubber band broke and I backed off the effort. And then by mile 12 the wheels came completely off and I shuffled my way to the slowest half-marathon time of my life.

Karla went on to run a strong finish and Chris pushed it in for a good time for him. We stayed around watching finishers and listening to the rock band at the finish line stage, Airiel Down until I had to leave to get ready for work. Other than a disappointing time and not being able to hang with Karla the last three miles it was still an enjoyable morning. The race went off very well I think and is a great asset to the Raleigh running community. My old friend Butch and his staff have a winner in this event.

Here are the few photos I took including a couple courtesy of Brad Broyles, NCRC President who was a spectator on the course today