Sunday, September 26, 2010

Race Report Flying Pigs Duathlon

Let me begin by saying that I do not like to criticize races. I don't typically ever have anything bad to say about races. I've done a lot of small town "podunk" races but the Flying Pigs Duathlon in Washington, IA this weekend made the Junebug Jog look like the Olympics!
On Saturday morning I drove to Washington, IA to participate in a duathlon. After talking with Dan White, my rehab guy we decided I could go ahead with this race as a "benchmark" race. The race was advertised as a 5k run, 20 mile ride, and 1.5 mile run. I would take the first 5k very conservatively and then race the rest hard if my achilles didn't hurt at all.
I arrived at 7:30 for a 9:00 a.m. race. I already was a little scared because I happened to read the waiver on the entry form because there wasn't much else for details on the entry. Maybe I never read waivers because they can be pretty scary. In signing the waiver I was acknowleding that riding a bike in this race on a course open to traffic is extremely dangerous and could lead to serious injury and potential death. I also thought it was interesting the waiver said that "I realize I am entering a public roadway without event control devices and that cars on this roadway will not be aware of my presence." This tells me that they won't have course monitors or protection at major intersections. Itwas a little afraid of this waiver but figured all races probably state that in the waiver...I've just never bothered to read them before.
When I first arrived I was thinking I may be in the wrong spot since I couldn't find any bike racks. When I asked the guy at sign-up where they were he pointed out to the street in front of us and said, "They are right there." What he pointed to looked like the bike rack at my elementary school but not near the size. They were public bike racks that were intended to hold at most 20 bikes total. He then said, "If the racks are full you can use your kick stand and put your bike in a parking stall." What??? A parking stall? A kick stand? He must be he was dead serious. I quickly realized I was in for a very interesting race.
I warmed up with a 1.5 mile run and a 6 mile bike ride and then tried to get my bike in their elementary racks but it would not stand up as I'm sure the engineer of those did not have triathlon racing bikes in mind when he or she designed them. I thought I may just keep my bike in my car and get it out after the first run but then I saw everyone else was laying their bikes against buildings, random items in the road...whatever they could find. I found a nice looking street light that held my bike up in a safe position and claimed that as my transition spot. My friends from the Quad Cities Judd and Monica Allbaugh had also come to this race and they were in as much shock as I about this race setup. You can see Judd below at his "bike rack" and I was next to him against the light pole. I was worried about whether or not the course would be safe since we left town through a couple busy intersections with stop lights. The race director announced they would be blocking traffic at the first intersection and there would be someone at the turnaround on the out and back bike course.
RUN: When the gun fired...check that when the lady yelled "go" I began the run very conservatively. I had on the GPS watch to monitor my pace and I was hoping 6:00 pace would feel comfortable. As we got out on the course I was checking it and was running 5:47 average pace at the mile mark. I couldn't believe how easy it felt. I picked it up a little but stayed very relaxed and by the time I hit the 2 mile my average pace was down to 5:42. There was still one guy really close to me so I slowly kept dropping the pace without letting it become uncomfortable and when I got to the 5k my pace was down to 5:37. My time was 17:30 for the 5k which shocked the heck out of me. It was a huge confidence booster that if I could run that relaxed with the minimal training I'm doing I should expect really big things down the road. The best news was that my achilles felt awesome.

BIKE: The bike is where the real fun began. A steady rain began almost immediately after we started the run so this would be a wet ride on wet roads. I was quick through the transition and my bike was waiting for me at my new favorite light post. I was out on the roads pushing the pedals hard but I approached that first intersection with caution. There were police officers there but I wasn't taking chances. They weren't really blocking traffic. They were just standing there and I slowed down and they waived me through. I was able to start pushing the pedals hard again in the pouring rain. My bike computer had stopped working due to the rain...I need to get that fixed. It came on a few times and I was riding anywhere from 24 to 28 miles per hour but didn't know how far I'd gone since it wasn't working half the time. The turnaround was supposed to be 10 miles out and I began to feel like I should be getting close but I couldn't find any volunteers to tell me I should turn around. Finally at the bottom of a hill I spotted a volunteer and when I got down there he told me to turn right. I asked him where the turn was and he said there would be people down the road to tell me when to turn. About 3/4 of a mile later the road turned to gravel and I still hadn't seen anyone. I couldn't believe I was about to take my Orbea with Zipp wheels on gravel but I figured with this race anything was possible. I've never done a triathlon that had gravel roads as part of the course. I slowed way down to accomodate for the gravel and after 2-3 minutes there was still no sign of a volunteer. I made the decision to turn around because the gravel was getting too difficult to ride on. I made my way back down the gravel road onto the real road and traveled the 3/4 mile back to the turn where the volunteer was. I still did not see any other rides. I stopped my bike and asked him where the turn was and he said, "There should have been a group of people up by that bait shop." Uh, no I'm sorry, no one was there. As it turned out I was supposed to turn before the gravel road so I had just added nearly 5 minutes to my time. I was pretty ticked off that they had no markings on the ground and no one there and I rode back in anger. I came to a stop sign where we made our only turn onto a highway and there were cars coming both ways. The volunteer there made no attempt to stop them so I stopped and waited...another thing to be pissed off about. I then made my way toward transition but just before it I had to go through that intersection with the stop light. This time there were no police officers or volunteers there and the light turned red just before I got there. I thought about that waiver that reminded me of potential death so I came to a stop and unclipped my pedal and waited for the cars to go and then for my light to turn green. I could see the transition area but I just sat there waiting. Once it turned green I rode into transition in disgust before dismounting my bike at the light pole and putting on the running shoes again.
RUN: The 2nd run was only 1.5 miles. I wanted to test myself on this one. When I began running I was getting small cramps in my hamstrings. It was awesome! I have waited a long time for my legs to have this feeling. I don't know why but I love brick running when my legs are trashed. On the way to the turnaround I was averaging just under 6:00 pace. On the way back the cramps were gone and I was able to get that pace down to 5:30. I averaged 5:45 for the 2nd run. I saw the 2nd place runner starting the run just before I finished so I'm guessing I won by about 8 minutes. I say guess because I doubt I'll ever see results posted for this race. I even heard from someone they allowed a biker to ride without a helmet. This event was not safe. The bike course was not well marked and there was no one at the turn. I will not be back for the Flying Pigs Duathlon for year 2 and I think if anyone ever gets seriously hurt or killed in this event their waiver will not hold up in court when they put on an event with so much negligence for safety. I was glad I survived and was happy with how I ran. I was even more excited to wake up on Sunday without any additional pain in my achilles tendon. I ran 27 miles this week in 5 days of running. Payton was excited to see me when I got home and she wanted to try on my race helmet. Some day I'd love to see her racing in one like it.
A big congratulations goes out to all who did the QC Marathon or 1/2 Marathon this weekend. I worked at the 1st GU station on the course and it was so much fun watching people go by. I know many people had worked hard for that race and it was great to see you doing so well. My younger brother Josh did his first 1/2 Marathon and told me afterwards the longest he had ever run before that was 7 miles! I was impressed he did the entire thing without walking and ran right at 9:00 mile pace. He is now thinking about doing the Hy-Vee Triathlon next summer and I couldn't be more excited for him. My wife Jen also ran a race on Friday night. She ran in Augustana College's huge home invitational against a lot of college girls...about 500 of them in fact. Against stiff competition and even some division 1 teams she placed 10th and ran like a champ. I'm amazed by how well she's been running on her busy mom schedule. Things are looking bright. I have lots of work to do beginning Nov. 1 and I look forward to it with great anticipation and enthusiasm. I can't wait for the long road ahead of me. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I can still do this...confidence growing

I've had another great week of pre-season workouts. I'm still keeping my volume pretty low so that I don't risk being worn down by next summer when I'll begin racing again. I am mainly focusing on maintaining base fitness with 5 bike rides and 3 swims a week while continuing to lift weights three times each week. My big focus is on getting my achilles tendon healed well enough to begin real training on November 1. The running is going quite well. I am currently running 2 days in a row followed by a day off. I began 4 weeks ago with 10 minutes every other day. I'm now up to 30 minutes five days a week. It has been going very well...well enough that today I was given permission to do my first interval workout. I ran with the Pleasant Valley high school cross country team and we did a 2 mile warm up followed by 4x 1200 meter repeats with about 2 minutes rest between each one. They were done on a grass loop that makes up part of their cross country course. I've been seeing my neighbor and local Rock Valley physical therapist Dan White about once a week and I've let Dan direct my return to running. Dan has been a friend of mine since we were high school cross country and track teammates. His knowledege of running and rehab to injuries is extremely high. I've seen tremendous improvements with the program Dan has me doing to prepare for November 1. I've been doing impact exercises to strengthen the tendon for the impact that comes with running. Dan is a volunteer coach for the PV cross country team so I knew this would be a great place for my first intervals since he could watch my form to make sure I wasn't favoring my injured side. Although it was hot here today (nearly 90 degrees and pretty humid) I had a great time running the workout. My times were 4:12, 4:12, 4:08, and 4:05. It averaged out to about 5:30 pace per mile. It never felt very difficult which was exciting. I didn't care that it was hot out...I was just enjoying the feeling of running again...real running. My tendon felt great through the workout and it was a huge boost of confidence to be able to run those times without too much stress. When I put the workout in context it leaves me knowing that I am still very capable of running fast next summer. It was hot, I am fat (+15 lbs. from my lowest weight of 10'), I hadn't done any hard running yet, my longest run has only been 4 miles, I'm only at 18 miles per week of running, and I have been on an extremely modest training regiment. I feel if things continue to go well I should be able to do this same workout in late November on 1 month of real training and be able to average 3:50-3:53 for each 1200. I felt so great in fact that I'm debating about competing in a pre-season race this weekend in Washington, Iowa. It's a duathlon consisting of a 5k run, 20 mile ride, and 1.5 mile run to finish it up. If Dan gives me permission I'd probably take the first 5k pretty relaxed, then ride as fast as I can, and do the 2nd run a little harder than the first assuming nothing hurts. I would view it as a hard workout to benchmark where my fitness currently is at. I am very anxious to be in a competitive setting. With each passing day I'm realizing this injury was a long setback...that's all...I will return and I will be stronger than ever before. It won't keep me down forever. I can tell the rest and therapy are working. I feel great every day. Ironman St. George on May 7 is constantly on my mind and it's becoming more obvious to me every day that this race is not just a's going to happen and I'll be ready when it does. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekly Goal Checklist

As I began this week of training I knew it was important to continue using a weekly goal checklist that I created and have been using over the past year and a half. I have been given a number of PT exercises I'm supposed to do three times a week. I have also been cleared to begin doing my form running drills and strides three times each week. Combined with all the other small things I do in training it helps to have a checklist to make sure I get everything done. I fill in the mileage and yardage goals before I begin the week. At the end of the week I put in parentheses what I actually accomplished. I also write in any additional or extra things I do. It definitely helps me to keep the checklist of things I need to accomplish each week. Most of these things are small and take less than 5 minutes to do but without the checklist they would be easy to skip. The importance of these small things was reminded to me this week when I was directed to a website on the Iowa Hawkeye football team. The Iowa football team uses a phrase, "Break the Rock". The metaphor is that a rock takes a long time to break when you begin chiseling away at it. The rock is much too strong to break with one big swing. It must be broken over time with on hit after another. What this implies is that breaking the rock is the goal to be achieved over a long period of time. Workouts completed each day are only one small chip into the rock. By chipping away day after day the rock becomes weak and ultimately breaks. I think about this because all the small things on my checklist are small chips into the rock. I know that one day of lunges or core work is not enough to get into the shape I need to but doing these small things week after week will make all the difference come May 7 when I attempt to finally break the rock at Ironman St. George. If you're finding it tough to ahchieve all your goals in training each week try making a checklist for yourself. It's a good way to hold yourself accountable. At the end of the week if you left some things unchecked you'll know. If you were able to check everything off it will help your confidence grow little by little. Soon enough you'll be breaking your own rock.

This was a solid week as I'm progressing in the running category. I'm now running two straight days before taking every third off. 14 miles for the week is lightyears away from where I want to be but I'm beginning to chip away at the rock and my achilles feels great while I'm running. I was able to ride 50 miles this morning and I did 5x 10 minutes of it up tempo and averaged 22.4 miles per hour for the ride. It felt great. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fantasy Football Draft Week

This week was especially exciting with the annual Labor Day weekend Fantasy Football draft. This really has nothing to do with training but I'd like to think the success of my team could boost my confidence and we all know that confidence is perhaps the most important factor in success. Now if my team fails miserably I'll have to be sure to remind myself it's just a game and not let it affect my training...I had a pretty decent week of working out. I met my goals by riding 5 days, lifting weights 3 times, core work 5 times, lunges and speed drills and strides once, and swimming twice (I revised my swim goal to 2x when I realized how busy we were going to be over the weekend). Next week the pool hours increase on the weekend and it will be easier for me to get in the water on Saturday or Sunday. For the week I rode 112 miles with a long ride of 42 miles. I'm enjoying riding just to maintain fitness. All the miles have been easy with the exception of a few fast intervals when I feel like speeding up. The most exciting thing for me is that I ran 3 times this week and I am still yet to feel any pain. I went 10 minutes the first two days and then 15 on Saturday. Today I ran a 5k really easy in 20 minutes still with no hint of pain. I'm hoping to continue slowly progressing the running time while continuing to strengthen the achilles.

Jen won two more races this weekend, first a 5k cross country run and then a 5 mile road race this morning. It was the annual Run With Carl, a memorial run for a friend and teammate of mine who was tragically killed when a drunk driver ran a red light back in 1994. Carl and I were the only freshmen on the cross country team that year. His parents do a tremendous job of putting on this annual Labor Day tribute to their son. Jen won the women's 5 mile in 30:48. I was happy to run easy and feel no pain while running 20:20 in the 5k. I think Jen's now won about 15 races this year.

As for the draft...we have a 10 team league with 2 Quarterbacks that play and I was happy to get Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers with my first two picks. I was really shocked that I was able to get Ryan McMahon, the Chargers rookie running back in the 3rd round. I'm excited for the first matchup next weekend. I'm more excited for November 1st however when I will begin real training to get myself ready to compete for a podium finish at Ironman St. George on May 7. It's a super hilly course which I'm excited about because I've had good success riding tough courses. I think I visualize that race in my mind about every time I'm out on the bike. I have so far to go but that's the fun of this sport...getting in great shape...suffering through workouts, watching my body transform into something I never thought I could be. Dreaming every day of that success makes working out fun. That fun is what keeps me inspired. Thanks for reading. DREAM BIG!