Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Post Race Report

I had to sit around for an hour before I got some idea of my initial results. I saw them, walked calmly to the car, got in, screamed, and drove the 5 hours back to Nashville. Official results were posted today and it wasn't as bad as I thought:

9th place in my age group, 60th overall
15:28 - Swim time + Transition 1 time (20th overall, 1st in my age group)
109:43 - bike split
40:40 - run split (8:08 min/miles)
2:05:51 Total time
Total XTERRA points 36
9th - current rank in the southeast (top 10 at the end of the season make nationals)

It wasn't as bad as I thought, but that is almost worse because of what happened on the bike. I was 21 minutes off 1st place in my AG and 4 minutes off 5th place. Had I run the single speed and not had any chain issues I would have probably been AT LEAST 13 minutes faster and in second place. Suck. It was a learning experience, which is PC for no fun and I am super motivated to do it again. Right after the race I was thinking that wasn't the case, but a few days removed and I'm back to training with a whole new intensity.

Race Report

I know I'm going to have issues keeping up the pace on the bike because of the aforementioned bike choice/mechanical issues so my new plan is to go all out in the swim. Rumors had the water temperature from the 50's to low 60's, but in reality I don't think it was anywhere near that cold - wet suits were allowed, but not required. I lined up right beside Craig Evans and my plan was to stay with him as long as I could.
The race starts and 150+ people go from standing in cold water to laying flat. There is basic physics problem here in that there isn't enough space for everyone without some serious contact. I kept out of the mess, being in front, and trying to keep up with Craig Evans. I hang with him for probably .1 miles and then I think I'm going to die and have to drop off his pace. This guy is a freak in the water. I push myself to pull as hard as I can, not kicking, so as to save my legs for the bike/run. The water is dark brown and I can't see my hands in front of me, but I keep an eye on the Orange floats in the distance. The wet suit is constricting, but not nearly as much as I expected. I owe XTERRA for the great race suit!
At .25 miles I begin to question why I'm even doing this because it hurts and there is still a long way to go, I see Craig is now almost to shore, so fast. I get over the hump and before I know it I'm pulling my wet suit off and running into transition. By my count I was the 9th swimmer out of 150+ out of the water and the 15th to leave transition.
In transition I'm feeling fast. My wetsuit comes off easy and while I had to dry my leg to get my knee brace on I'm not too far behind the other early swimmers.
I leave transition, jump on the bike and start hammering to get up to speed when...the chain flies off. I'm 500ft out of transition. I'm still not over the emotional trauma of the 11 miles I spent on the bike Saturday, but here are some facts. The course was flat, fast, and my bike was not. Over 11 miles my chain came off 13 times. Yes, 13 times. Let's say it took me 1 minute every time I had to stop and put it back on, not including that when it was on I couldn't pedal with any speed. That's at least 13 minutes off my bike split. It was completely maddening.
I spent the last two miles of the bike mentally preparing myself to have the run of my life to stay in contention. Everyone was passing me like crazy and I knew I was far out of the top racers where I had started after the swim. Even worse mentally was that my legs were fresh because I was mostly coasting. All I could think about were all the hours spent training and now a stupid mechanical issue holding me back, My chain came off for the 13th time about a .25 mile from transition and I just picked the thing up and ran with it into transition rather than mess with the chain.
I came screaming out of transition on the run with fresh lungs and legs. I quickly started passing runners, but no one had their age on their calf so I was constantly wondering who was in my age group and who wasn't. I started having back spasms at mile 2 of 5 and was afraid I couldn't hold my pace, but a quick water station break up ahead gave me renewed strength and I kept pushing. In mile 4 there was a pack of guys about my age that I caught and one of them eventually made a move to up the pace. I left the pack with him, but over the next 1/2 mile he left me and I had nothing more than what I was already giving it. It was a relatively easy last 1/2 mile - the elation in almost being done, and no chance of catching the guy in front with no one gaining on me from behind. I cross the finish line to find plenty of people already finished and it is all I can do to keep from screaming because I was so upset about the bike portion. I walked my bike (couldn't bring myself to put the chain back on again) and the rest of my gear from transition back to the car and headed back to the staging area to await the results....
My hand post-race (after washing it). dirty, dirty chain. uh.

Pre-race Report

Uneventful drive from Nashville to Winder, GA with plentiful sunshine and some quality time for self reflection before a big weekend and even bigger week. I just enjoyed the trip eating carbs and staying hydrated. I arrived in early afternoon, ate lunch, checked into my campsite, and made my way to the course start to hear Craig Evans, a former college swimmer and current XTERRA Pro, 8th in the world last year, give a presentation and answer questions...backing up for a minute, I first saw sections of the course when I drove in the park's main entrance and instantly knew I made a mistake in which bike I brought. Look at the pictures and it is clear I could have taken both bikes in the van and decided which one to ride when I was down there, but I'm an idiot. A huge idiot.
So Craig answered questions about training, nutrition, and swimming in a wet suit (something I had never done before). It was still light out, and plenty warm, when Craig finished so I decided to pre-ride the bike course for a couple miles to get a feel for it. Here's what I learned. The course was SUPER flat and SUPER fast and my single speed was geared all wrong for the course and SUPER slow. The course is amazing, perfect, unless you are on a single speed. Imagine being in a car with one gear on a Nascar track. Well, it wasn't quite that bad except I was again plagued with major bike mechanical issues. Chain issues.
I had a pretty ugly incident on my MTB two weeks ago when my chain flew off in what I thought was a freak occurrence. Then it happened again on my last ride before leaving for ATL and I considered taking out a link in the chain, but didn't want to mess with anything right before the race. In my pre-ride the chain came off twice...in two miles of riding. Again, in retrospect, I should have bought/borrowed a chain tool and taken a link out, but I feared screwing up the chain the night before the race and not even having a bike to ride, how bad could this problem be (see actual race report).
I finished my pre-ride angry that I brought only the single speed and angry that not only was it slow but I was having chain issues. I went out for dinner, came back and set to work on my bike. I tightened up the brakes and considered what action I could take without chain tool to keep the chain on the bike...nothing that seemed like a truly good idea came to mind. I had calmed down and was just excited to get this event rolling in the AM. I threw in some earplugs and was out...until 3:30 AM when I woke up anxious about a cold water swim and a bike that didn't work. 4:30 AM still up, still anxious.
Breakfast at 5:00 was somewhat of a relief because it was progress. I planned on eating cold oatmeal and some Powerbars, but I left the water in the car so I mixed oatmeal with fruit punch Gatorade, raisins, and a banana. It wasn't that bad. I went back to bed for a couple minutes and then woke up to pack up the campsite and drive over to the race start to setup transition.
I setup my bike and wet suit, went back the car, drank a Redbull, and then brought the rest of my stuff to transition. Triathlons require LOTS of stuff. Craig Evans had setup his bike right next to mine and it was so strange to be around so many athletes I had read about and see that they were regular guys, well, REALLY fast regular guys. I got my gear all setup, my wet suit on, and listened to the pre-race directions before everyone headed down to the water. My season was about to start. I could hardly believe it was happening.

The van with room for another bike

Pre-race dinner
Breakfast (notice the pink tinge)

Transition area

Friday, April 25, 2008

It starts now

The car is packed (with a lot of stuff) and I'm 300 miles and 23 hours away from my first race.  My 2008 XTERRA season starts right now.  I'm out of here.  Race results and write up upon my return.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Decision Time

Race Day is getting closer and I am having a hard time deciding what bike to ride on Saturday. I bought a new bike for racing this year, made upgrades, and tried to ride it as much as possible, but I kept coming back to my singlespeed. I feel more comfortable on the singlespeed, which could be important as I will not have a chance to pre-ride the race course prior to the race, but I worry that the singlespeed will trash my legs for the run. Take the poll on the right to help me decided.

This or That?

Race Week

15 weeks ago I started my focused training plan for XTERRA, with my first race being XTERRA Ft. Yargo in Winder, GA. At the time (January) it seemed like the end of April was a long way off and that I had all the time in the world to get ready. The counter on my blog now shows only 4 days and some combination of hours and minutes until the race at Ft. Yargo. Where did the time go? This week I will taper my training and try to get comfortable in my wetsuit, dial in my bike, and practice my transition plan. It feels like I should have done all of these things before now, but with the level of training peaking over the last couple weeks there hasn’t been time for any additional fine tuning. I’m sure having practiced some skills (getting out of a wetsuit, putting on shoes, socks, and a race belt in a hurry) would make me faster, but I’m not sure I would have sacrificed the time away from family, friends, coaching, and work that it would have required. While I look to do well in the race this weekend I think it is equally important to remember that I’m doing this for fun. Winning is fun, particularly for someone as competitive as I am, but I have worked too hard over the past 15 weeks not to enjoy the race experience this weekend. Something tells me that if I go out there to have a good time and enjoy myself in the race I’ll race stronger and faster than if I spend the whole time worrying about my final place in the standings.

Training Update:
Wed. – 1 hr on the bike, 3 mile trail run
Thur. – 1.5 hr on the bike
Fri. – rest
Sat. – 800m swim for time (12:18), coached the Vanderbilt women’s Ultimate Team, played with my old high school Ultimate team Brutal Grassburn in Monkey Bowl - the local Ultimate tournament
Sun. – 5 mile trail run
Monday – 7 mile MTB (hopefully no chain issues)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Quick Update

Life is busy. A quick training update:
Thursday – brutal track workout, 6 miles in total distance. I really felt the benefits of track work in my 15k race, so while it was tough, I know it is good for me.
Friday – rest
Saturday – Bike/Run (8/2 x 2) brick workout. Too muddy so I stayed on the road for the bike and run.
Sunday – Pyramid swim for time 60’
Monday – Rest and shopping for a new tri suit. No luck. I need a tax rebate to afford one.
Tuesday – Work responsibilities limit me to just a strength session today during lunch

Wednesday and Thursday will both be big training days with brick workouts leading up to my last big weekend of training before tapering for my 1st race of the year. I’ve still got to get in the water with my new wet suit, decide on a new tri suit or my existing one, and decide which bike to ride. I bought a new one, built it up, but I just love my SS and feel so fast on it that’s it is a toss up. More to come soon!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It Has Arrived!

Yesterday was a tough day of training. I’ve been fighting a cold/allergies since Monday and have had a hard time keeping up the pace during training. Monday was a 60 minute swim for time and Tuesday was a 14 mile ride on the bike at Lock 4. As much as I love the freedom of riding DH platform pedals instead of clipless, my calf has come to hate me for it. Tuesday I took a nasty fall where my pedal managed to catch me across the back of the calf. Nothing like feeling the metal rods puncture your skin and then rip it. I came home after riding feeling pretty worn down and lethargic until I saw what was waiting for me - a big red box with XTERRA on it. I opened it up to find my new XTERRA Vortex 2 wetsuit. I tried it on and found it to be a perfect fit. A big thank you goes out to XTERRA. I can’t wait to hit the water in this thing!

I miss that feeling

Something that I have come to miss in training for XTERRA (compared to Ultimate) is the ability to “play”. What I mean by that is that in Ultimate while you do your conditioning, drills, and strategy sessions you almost always get to the play the sport during some of your weekly practice time. I never understood how much I enjoyed the ability to line up against someone and play at 100% - sprinting, playing D, or making the big throw. Playing is different from practice like racing is different from training. The problem is that during training I never get to race. Most of my sessions I have to do solo, because no one is ever doing the exact training I am, and it is counterproductive to go all out 100% during training sessions. There are intervals to keep, HR requirements, and just some long haul endurance swims/rides/and runs which are nothing like racing. The thought of only competing in a couple of races a year feels like far too few right now. I have an intense desire to put my training to the test and measure where I am in my training, but I have two weeks until that happens down in Georgia. In Ultimate, you can always push yourself in a scrimmage and measure your progress. I find that I really miss that opportunity in my training now. Perhaps I’m just missing how to do that in endurance training and it takes time and a different set of measuring sticks; I hope that is the case. Until I figure it out I’m just going to have to deal with all the competitive energy flowing through my veins.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Where in the world?

So I first decided to start a blog after reading other athlete’s blogs like Trevor and James. I thought it would be a good way to secure sponsorships and that it would be fun to keep a log of all my training for review at the end of the season. There are definitely times when I don’t feel like updating the site, but more often than not I look forward to it. At first it was my own private journal, but then the site started getting more hits day by day. Yesterday was the biggest day yet, as you can see from the map above, the site got a lot of traffic from all over the world. That’s pretty exciting.
I continue to rest this week. Nice easy session on the bike this afternoon and then a relaxing weekend to spend with family and friends. 3 weeks from now I’ll be on the road to Ft. Yargo!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thank you XTERRA Wetsuits!

I’ve accomplished one of my goals for this rest week and decided on my wetsuit for the season. This season I’ll be racing in the XTERRA Vortex 2. XTERRA offered an incredible deal on this wetsuit and with Ft. Yargo in only a couple of weeks I needed a quality suit that would be here for race-day. My wetsuit should be here next week, which gives me some time to get comfortable in it and practice getting in/out of it prior to my first race.
My hamstring continues to be a problem even with daily RICE treatment. I may look into getting some massage before the end of the rest week so I can go into my last two weeks of training before the race as close to 100% as possible. We have flood warnings in affect for Nashville and all surrounding counties because of the heavy downpours today and forecasted for Friday. That makes it a good week to be catching up on sleep and the other parts of life that I miss out on while training. It has been nice to sleep in every morning, getting my recovery workouts in during lunch and after work.
Tonight I coach the Vanderbilt Ultimate teams for one of the last times this season. It has been a different season coaching the men’s and women’s teams, only doing conditioning, and not traveling with the teams. I wish I had the time to devote more to the teams (at tournaments and during the week), but this year was a realistic compromise of what I could actually offer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Recovery Week

The soreness from the weekend's races is fading quickly.  Ran an easy 3 miles today after work.  My right hamstring is still really tight, an old injury that has reared it's ugly head.  The good news is that it only ever prevents me from sprinting, which hopefully I won't have to be doing in Xterra.  I'm really hoping that a rest week takes care of it.  Swim in the morning, maybe a short ride on Thursday.  I'm trying to get caught up on non-racing life this week.  On the to-do list for the week is buying a wetsuit and racing shorts.