Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ready to Withdraw...Race Time

Following 22 weeks of training it is finally time to make a withdrawal and let the races begin.  I've raced twice so far but the schedule really heats up now with competitive races the next three weekends.  This upcoming weekend I'll be racing in the Pigman Sprint triathlon thanks to Andrew Lestor.  Andrew saw on my blog that I was on the wait list and he was registered.  He could not make the race due to a wedding and graciously contacted the race director and transferred his entry to me.  I'll be racing on Sunday in the VERY competitive sprint.  This is not a race I've had much success in previously.  I raced it in 2009 and finished 11th and last year tried my hand again and placed 6th.  It is a race that pays 5 deep with the winner earning $600.00 guaranteed with the possibility of a $750.00 bonus payout.  The race is unique because they do a gender equalizing start between the women and men and the overall first person to cross the finish line earns a $750.00 bonus so someone is going to net $1,350.00 which is enough to bring in a number of pros.  The past two times I've raced this I have gone in thinking I could win the race and it has led to a lot of frustration so this year I'm going in with a goal of placing in the top 3 and knocking 90 seconds off my best Pigman sprint time.  This would give me a goal time of right around 1 hour, 3 minutes.  I'll have 6 days to recover and get a little training in and then I'll be on the start line next Sunday, June 10th for my first pro race of the year in Lawrence, Kansas.  It is Kansas 70.3.  The start list has been posted and the field has some of the top triathletes in the US entered.  I will go to this race with no pressure because the expectations won't be on me.  With names like Ben Hoffman, Chris Lieto, and Matty Reed (all winners of multiple Ironman 70.3 and full IM races) I will be out of the spotlight and looking for a chance to see how my off-season training has paid off.  After the 70.3 race in Kansas I'll have 5 days to recover before racing my hometown sprint triathlon on June 16th, a race I would love to win.  My biggest focus in the week before that one will be getting recovered so I'm able to take my place on the start line.  3 races in 3 weeks is something I've never done before.  It means I'll be relying on the fitness I've gained over the past 22 weeks hoping to make a big withdrawal.  I've always thought that fitness is built up over time and stored much like an individuals personal finances are stored in a savings account.  If the work has been done the money will be there when a withdrawal is needed.  I'll be making the withdrawals the next three weekends.  I'm excited about the challenges.  I haven't felt particularly good over the past month.  I've been sick the past week and a half and that really seemed to drain my energy levels.  Thankfully the last couple days I have felt like my energy is returning and I've been able to put out much better power numbers on the bike.  I had two great bike interval workouts last week to go along with a tough group ride on Wednesday and my longest ride of the year on Sunday.  I had a great 80 mile ride with Matt Davison and Jessica Imm as they prepare for Ironman Wisconsin.  It was windy out but having the company for the ride made it go by quickly.  I also had a good running interval session and followed it up with a tempo run so I had a pretty solid week of training although my volume wasn't quite as high as I had hoped because I opted to sleep a little extra rather than do some of my usual late night base mileage rides on the trainer.  I think it was worth it as my body is starting to feel stronger. 
I was inspired on Monday watching the QC Criterium bike race.  Local rider Jeff Bradley placed 16th of over 80 riders who began the pro race.  Jeff has really helped my biking the past few years with indoor workouts, hills repeats, and group rides.  Jeff is a former Tour de France rider and Seven Eleven pro who was an alternate on the 84' Olympic team.  Even at age 51 he was still able to compete with kids half his age in a stacked field.  It was awesome to see him race so well and it inspired me to believe that anything is possible...at any age. 
This past week I've been riding my 1998 LeMond Alpe D'huez road bike because the crank on my Shiv broke and it was sent off to Zipp for a replacement.  I'm not sure if the replacement will arrive in time for the Pigman Sprint but I know the guys at Healthy Habits will have something for me to make the race happen because as much as I've enjoyed riding the 98' LeMond it isn't a bike I want to race on.  I plan to see Dr. Kaminski for some ART work this week and also get in for a massage to get my legs race ready.  The key for me this weekend is how my legs are feeling coming off the bike.  They haven't felt particularly good running for nearly a month since I did the 1/2 marathon in Des Moines.  I need them to be there on Sunday or it will be another disappointing finish for me in Cedar Rapids.  If the legs are where they should be I should be in the mix for a top 3 finish. 
GU Energy has been a sponsor of mine for the past 3 years and they have really allowed me to get nutrition to make it through all these workouts and races.  I've been blessed to have their support.  They put together short bios on all their pro athletes.  Mine can be found by clicking here.  Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the summer...school is out and now I can train like most other pro triathletes and even better is that I can now recover like a pro triathlete should.  DREAM BIG!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bluff Creek Triathlon Race Report and Results

On Sunday I raced the Bluff Creek Olympic distance triathlon near Boone, Iowa.  I decided to do this race about a month ago when I found out a couple friends and fellow Live Uncommoners were doing the race.  I thought it would be a good race to do with a 1/2 Ironman in Kansas looming on the horizon.  I wanted to get a longer open water swim than I'll be doing in the sprint races so this was perfect.  I met friends and fellow LU'ers Aaron Maurer, Josiah Campbell, and Chad Uhde at Chad's house in Bettendorf on Saturday afternoon.  This was going to be the first triathlon for all three of those guys.  I decided to drive because I thought 4 bikes and all our gear would be tight in Chad's truck plus I had come down with a cold and I didn't want to be coughing on those guys for the 3.5 hour ride.  We made the trip just fine although at one time I thought I was going to get the three bikes on Chad's rack through the front window of my car when some crazy lady decided to come to a complete stop on interstate 80 to do an illegal u-turn.  Thankfully I was able to get stopped and there was no one behind me or my bike in the trunk may have been reduced to 1/2 its' current size. 
We got to Ames and picked up our packets and then made our way to the Pizza Ranch.  I had never been to Pizza Ranch before but it is an all you can eat pizza buffet that includes salad bar, dessert pizza, and even ice cream.  We put down plenty of food.  I had basically skipped lunch knowing I would probably end up filling my stomach at dinner and Aaron captured a good picture of one round of food at our table...there were 3 or 4 rounds for each of us.  After finishing off our food we went to the Super 8 in Boone and found out why Aaron got such a good rate.  We were located across the street from the Boone Speedway and the racing was in full session.  The cars were so loud you couldn't even hear the person next to you when trying to have a conversation.  Thankfully they were done by 10 pm and the hotel walls must have been built to keep the speedway noise to a minimum because I couldn't hear them from inside the walls. 
At about 9:00 Chad, Aaron and I got out for about a 20 minute run.  It was nice to get the legs loosened up after the long car ride.  When we laid down to sleep my big fears were lived out.  I had been feeling sick since Wednesday and it was culminating with coughing attacks on Saturday night.  I couldn't lay down on the bed without coughing uncontrollably.  I went to the Wal-Mart next door and bought a nice supply of cough drops and some nightime cough medicine I hoped not to use since that always makes me feel really groggy and hung over in the morning.  After trying to get the coughing to stop for about 30 minutes while those guys were trying to sleep I caved and took the NyQuil.  That didn't do a bit of good...I was coughing so hard and so often I could not even come close to settling into a sleep.  I was really worrying about keeping those guys up before their first ever race and this was not a big race for me so at 12:45 after about 2 hours of laying there coughing I decided I better move to my car.  I went out and reclined the seat and locked the doors and actually fell asleep pretty quickly.  I woke up at 3:00 am and decided I would try to move back to the hotel since I was no longer coughing.  The second I laid down the coughing continued.  I couldn't believe it.  I was coughing so hard I couldn't even keep the cough drops in my mouth.  I was worried one was going to fly out and hit one of the other three guys trying to sleep.  At 3:45 I moved back to the car and the next thing I knew the sun was up and it was 5:30.  I rushed from the car to the hotel room to make a quick breakfast of Wheaties Fuel and yogurt knowing those guys would want to be leaving soon.  My stomach was not feeling good at all.  The Pizza Ranch Gods were having a good laugh at how my stomach was feeling.  I relieved it twice at the hotel but the Pizza Ranch continued to swirl.
We made our way to the race venue and set up in transition.  The race had a sprint and Olympic distance.  Josiah and Chad were competing in the sprint while Aaron and I were doing the Olympic race.  The transition area was first come first serve so I found a spot Aaron and I could both put our bikes not knowing that racking next to Aaron would later nearly lead to sabotaging my race.  After setting my stuff up I went for a 1.5 mile run and then waited in line for the porta-johns because the Pizza Ranch was giving me a really bad feeling again.  After that I put on the wetsuit and asked a race official if I could swim to the race start.  They were taking athletes around the lake to the start by shuttle bus even though it was only about a 400 yard swim to the spot they were shuttling to.  He told me I could not swim to the start but I went down to the lake and when I saw people warming up nearly half way to where I was standing I jumped in and swam my way to the start rather than wait for the shuttle.  This turned out to be a great idea since Aaron, Josiah, and Chad didn't show up for about 25 minutes.  I got about 1,000 yards swimming in but I had a major problem brewing.  Pizza Ranch was swirling around in my tummy and it felt like a ticking time bomb.  I knew it was only matter of time before Pizza Ranch came out and it didn't care if I was in the middle of a race or not.  My options were limited.  There was no bathroom that I could see on the side of the lake we were starting on.  I decided to think I would use a bathroom at an aid station on the run but Pizza Ranch continued ticking away and I knew I would not have that much time.  I kept thinking about professional triathlete Jordan Rapp who had to take a DNF at Ironman Arizona after admittingly pooping his pants during the race.  I did not want the same fate so I made the decision to unload right there in the lake.  I unloaded first and then took my wetsuit down while hiding in the deeper waters of the lake away from anyone else.  I washed everything out and made my way back to shore so I could put my wetsuit back up...this was not a pleasant experience nor is it something I ever want to happen again.  Pizza Ranch is officially off my pre-race menu...NEVER AGAIN!!

SWIM:  I went out in the 5th swim wave.  The first 3 were sprint waves and then there was one wave of collegiate club men and women doing the Olympic distance.  When the horn sounded I took off at a good pace on the outside of the group.  I wanted to get out hard because I know the pro starts get out super fast and I wanted to simulate what Kansas will be like.  After 100 yards or so I looked around for feet I could get on and saw some to my right.  I made my way over and connected on.  I stayed on the feet for about another 400 yards when we were joined by a 3rd swimmer.  He was moving a little faster than us so I wanted to make sure if he pulled ahead I could switch feet.  We swam as a group of three until just after the 3rd bouy which was about 1/2 way into the swim.  At that point the 3rd guy that had joined us took off.  I was able to see it before the gap was too big and I focused on breathing every three and kicking a bit harder and was able to make the gap up.  I stayed on his feet until about the last 100 yards when he started to get away.  He got out of the water 4 seconds ahead of me.  I was thrilled with my swim.  I knew the time wasn't good when I got out of the water but you never know how accurate swim distances are in open water especially on a windy day like we had...oh yeah I failed to mention this was a very windy morning...15-20 mph with gusts over that.  When I got the results it was confirmed to me I swam really well.  My swim was ranked 4th and the fastest swim was less than 3 minutes ahead of me and he was a guy who swam for the University of Iowa.  After that the gap was 1 minute to 2nd fastest time and 4 seconds to 3rd.  My swim time on the long course was 26:16 and that included about a minute run up to the transition area. 
BIKE: I knew it was going to be a windy bike ride.  I had looked at the forecasts ahead of time and decided to ride my brand new Zipp 808 Firecrest wheels.  I opted to go without a water bottle and filled my Specialized Shiv Fuelselage with GU Roctane Tropical Fruit drink.  I also wanted to practice filling the Fuelselage since there was one bottle exchange on the course.  The ride was windy as expected.  The gusts made it very difficult to get comfortable.  In the sprint distance race Chad Uhde crashed after catching a huge gust of wind.  Thankfully he was able to get up and keep going.  I had riders from the wave ahead of me to catch so that was nice to have out in front of me.  I put out a big effort on the bike.  There was one HUGE hill going into a valley.  I topped out at 48.6 mph going down it which scared the Pizza Ranch out of me considering the wind gusts that could come at any time.  Up the other side I was barely able to hold 10 mph.  I had passed all the guys who started 3 minutes ahead of me by the turnaround except for one...the super swimmer from Iowa.  After the turn the ride got very tough as we were mostly into headwinds.  Going back down and up the hill again was torture.  I was biking at 9 mph going up it into the wind.  Despite that I was making up time on the rider ahead of me.  My legs did not feel particularly good and I felt like I was riding very slow.  I passed the last rider ahead of me with about 3 miles to go.  I finished up the bike leg with a split of 1:03:23 which was the fastest ride of the day. 

RUN: I was quick to get my helmet off and shoes on in transition.  I then went to put my race belt on and I didn't see it.  I picked up my wetsuit to see if it was hiding under there but no luck.  I picked up my transition gear bag...no race belt.  I looked in my transition gear bag...no race belt.  I saw Aaron's belt laying there but could not find my black Xterra Wetsuit race belt with #407 on it.  I left transition and yelled to volunteers that my belt was nowhere to be found hoping they would not DQ me for not wearing one.  My legs did not feel very good on the run.  I was hoping to run 5:45's...goal pace in Kansas but they were not wanting to do that.  I knew I had a big lead so I kept thinking "just run tempo pace."  My tempo pace runs have been in the 5:45 range lately and that has felt so easy but this was not feeling as easy as it should have.  I don't know it it was the sickness or that I didn't back off at all for this race.  I did a longer bike ride in the wind the day before and maybe that was it...not sure but it wasn't a pleasant run and by the time I finished I was pretty disappointed in how I felt about the race.  I ran 37:08 which was the 2nd fastest run of the day.  That pace was barely under 6:00 miles and it should not have felt as difficult as it did.  I ended up winning the race with a total time of 2:08:39.  I probably should have felt better about the race but I just kept thinking if I race like this in Kansas I'll be lucky not to finish last in the pro race.  I felt much better about the race after getting home and seeing the results as well as looking at past results.  It really put things in perspective for me.  I learned my swim ranking was 4th and other guys who did this race in the past were 2-3 minutes slower on the swim this year so that made me realize why my time was so slow.  My bike time was the fastest ever on this course and only 1 minute slower than professional triathlete super biker TJ Tollakson's split a few years back.  This made me excited to think I could ride a good time even with my legs feeling tired in the windy conditions.  My run sucked but I also went in with the mindset that I was not going to run hard unless I had to because I want to have a great week of training.  Complete race results with splits can be found by clicking here.  This was my first race in my new Kiwami Prima top and bottom.  I loved the new jersey.  The front zipper is very long so on hot days at Ironman branded events when you can't take the top off I'll be able to open it up and I can even pull it up if needed since it's a 2 piece suit.  The pockets were easy for me to put my GU wrappers in on the bike. 
I was super excited to watch Aaron finish and find out how Chad and Josiah did.  I learned of Chad's crash but then heard that he still managed to win the Clydesdale division of the sprint race and Josiah finished 3rd in the Clydesdale division.  Aaron finished AWESOME!  He went 2 hrs. 32 minutes and won the Olympic distance clydesdale race by 30 minutes.  He ran a 7 minute/mile pace on the tough 10k course.  He had one of the worst bikes at the race...sorry Boris (name Aaron gave to his bike) but I have to be honest here.  I was saying prayers for Aaron and Boris when I went down the huge hill on new Zipp Firecrest wheels that are 100% true because I saw the wobble on Boris' wheels the day before when I spun them.  I can't imagine that wobble at 40+ mph.  Aaron's blog is a hilarious read and is here.  I was most excited that those guys had a blast in their first triathlon ever and I was glad I could share the day with them.  By the way...my race belt...was around Aaron's waste when he finished.  He put on MY belt before getting onto his bike!  I told him with my luck last year the time I spent looking for it would have cost me the race.  Half the fun of the sport is getting in great shape.  The other half is enjoying the training and seeing it pay off.  These guys have gotten to experience both of those.  Up next will be Pigman Sprint if I hear about getting in by the end of the week.  If I don't hear I'll scratch it and train like crazy next week since Friday is my last day of work for the next 3 months.  I can't wait for summer training and racing to begin.  2 races in and 2 wins but the level of competition goes to a whole new world in June.  I am excited to see how I stack up. 
I almost forgot...the most exciting news of the weekend is that Super Mom traveled to Rockford, IL to run a 1/2 Marathon on Sunday morning.  She drove up the morning of leaving the house at 4:00 am and won th race earning her a paycheck of $350.00.  Her time of 1 hr. 22 minutes was well under the course record earning her a bonus $175.00 so her total pay day was $525.00 which is a new Paul family record.  She told me afterwards she eased up in the last few miles so she wouldn't have a difficult time setting the record again next year!  She has taken a commanding lead on me in terms of race income earned this year...my $50.00 at Bluff Creek didn't compare.  Jen is selflessly donating all her race earnings this year to her newly engaged sister Shanna's wedding fund so Shanna was pretty excited the result.  I really need to place high in a pro race if I want to catch Super Mom on the money list.  She's incredible.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Week 19 Summary

It's hard for me to believe it's been 19 weeks of training already.  I started training later in the year than I ever have (December 26th) and thought it would be mid-summer before I rounded into great shape but I was wrong.  I felt I was in great shape after 8 weeks and it's continued to get better.  This past week wasn't anything big to report on.  My left hamstring was really tight from running the 1/2 marathon.  I never felt like I was going to the well during the race but I think sitting for 3 hours on the car ride home hindered my recovery a bit.  I was unable to run on Monday still after taking Sunday off of running so I made and appointment to see Dr. Lake at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care
That helped tremendously and I was running on Tuesday.  I did continue to take the week easy running only 3 times and having my lowest mileage of running in a week since I began training this year.  I decided it would be best to get a bigger cycling week and make sure I let my running legs recover so I can put in some good training before the race schedule gets really busy in a couple weeks.  I biked 240 miles for the week and had a solid swim week with 16,300 yards.  I've been feeling really good in the water again after taking a week off swimming a few weeks ago.  I had my first open water swim of the year on Thursday in my new Xterra Vendetta wetsuit.  I love it.  I swim so high on the water in that suit.  If you are looking for a wetsuit for 2012 and you follow this blog you can e-mail me for a 60% off discount code.  The water was perfect for my liking at 62 degrees.  I also had my longest bike ride this year on Saturday as I went 70 miles.  I decided not to do as many 100 mile rides this year and I'll probably wait until school is out before doing my first one.  I don't believe there is anything magical about 100 miles and with two kids I have to manage my time wisely and a 100 mile ride takes a good chunk of the day.  I'm not doing an Ironman until Septmeber or November depending on how races are going.  Next weekend I'll be racing a small Olympic Distance triathlon in Boone, IA.  I'm traveling to the race with some friends so I'm excited about that.  Then I'll have a week off of racing before things get super busy starting with the Pigman Sprint on June 3rd.  The following weekend I'll be racing my first pro event of 2012 with Ironman Kansas 70.3 and then 6 days later I'll be doing my 3rd race in 3 weeks with the hometown QC Triathlon.  I know it will be tough to get a lot of quality training or much volume for a couple weeks between those races when I'll mostly focus on getting recovered after each one.  Following the QC Triathlon I plan to take 2 or 3 days off and then get geared up for 1 big race every month for the next 4 months.  I have only had 1 day off in my first 19 weeks of training so I'll be overdue for a short break to let my body adapt to some of this training and early season racing.  Thanks for reading!  DREAM BIG!!