Monday, August 18, 2008

Thursday Night Twilight Trail Run

So it's Thursday the 14th and I've had three days to recoup from the festivities on Sunday. Let's do a little recap Sunday night after passing out in the car on the way home from Mentor - we had just gotten on the highway (good think Bridge came to watch and cheer me on... I would have had to nap at the park and then drive home) I woke up as we exited the highway - about 35-40 minutes later. It was a nice nap. Bridge was stopping to get me some food. We got home we ate laid around watched TV and went to bed at 9pm.

Monday upon waking up I pulled myself out of bed and boy was that fun... all the cramping Sunday had put quite a hurtin on my legs. I was walking like Frankenstein all day. Bridge got me to try the stairs down to the basement... I was doubtful, however with the assistance of my upper body I was able to negotiate the stairs down and up again. By the afternoon I was walking better, but if I sat for more than 20 minutes I was back to starting point one. Icing my legs for the second day in a row was helpful.

Tuesday I was hobbling around better than Monday, but not "well" yet. After a rough day of work and sitting all day I went for a walk... thought it would be a good idea to stretch them out and work the soreness out.... since I was signed up for a race on Thursday. So I went for a walk around our block about 1.5 miles. It took me about an hour. THAT'S RIDICULOUS! But I did feel better after. So back to sleep... Icing once again.

Wednesday I took some time during the day and spun... put in about 20 miles.... it was good for my psyche. I was afraid I would be completely sore and unable to keep up on the ride on Saturday and Sunday (MS-150). I felt quite good and surprisingly without pain pushing the pedals. That made me feel good about the weekend and better about Thursday.

Thursday, rough day at work.... left late to meet bridge at the Twilight Trail Run because of a conference call that went late. Traffic happened to actually cooperate and I made it there with almost no issues and quickly as well. I arrived and met Bridget there - she was sitting on the ground stretching talking to a girl she knew form high school (first time I met her - Lindsey I think). She had already checked me in and picked up my packet. We pinned on our numbers... I paced around the field a while and she went for a warm up run with E-speed and Solar Squirrel, and Daisy Duc. When they came back we headed for the start. This may have been the strangest start to a race I have ever been part of. The women all started waves based on age... and I assume there was some elaborate statistical analysis done to come up with these start groups and spread times... I assume this is the only way one could come up with this seemingly convoluted set up. Ok so here's how this works if I understand it right.... your time really doesn't matter. If you finish first you win. The age groups and spread times are meant to level the playing field. You can also register as a single person or as a team... male-male, female-female, or male-female. Winning as a team you take your finishing places and average them... and who ever is higher wins. Ok so your sitting there going..... seems pretty straight forward so far. Well the convoluted sounding section is the age groups and the start times... I'm going to try to find them and add them later to this blog... but some age groups got 1 minute head start some got 2 minutes. some categories were like 35 to 45 year olds and 14 to 18 year olds (or something like that). Like I said must have taken some very extensive statistical analysis feeding into some nonlinear second order differential equation. You'll see if I can find it.

Ok so the race... I'm in the last group (assumed to be the fastest group)... I was worried leading up to the start of the second to last heat... you see there's something else you can do in this race.... you can buy up one age group to put yourself into a better position to win... and I heard a bunch of guys my age buying up... so I was worried that I alone would be starting 16 minutes behind the first group... BUT I wasn't there were about .... 10-12 of us? So we started out across this big open field and had to run a Z shape to the opening in the trees where the Bridal trail was. We entered the trees... with yours truly in DEAD last. Legs were pretty heavy and I didn't warm up much at all... I was afraid that my legs being so tired already wouldn't make it through any extra miles. 5 miles was going to push me to my limit as it was. Once you entered the trees you had about 20 feet and then a creek crossing. There was a guy taking pictures and you can't puss out and run the rocks when there's a camera to capture the moment. So there was a little mostly flat run followed by a hill... and I would call this a heck of a hill. Quite the height gain... so I passed on guy just before the hill. I was following another up the hill. Just before Mile 1+ water stop I passed the second guy in my group. Feeling ok so far.... kind of surprised that my legs are feeling this good. I'm moving quite well... we pass mile 2 and there's a guy who keeps bouncing between walking and running quite a bit faster than I... and there are two guys that I'm keeping my eyes on trying to keep up with. so we running and running and running and running through the woods, and we come to this...hill.... now this hill is some of the steepest grade I've ever run... and certainly the most steep I've run on loose gravel. After making my way down we popped out by Squires Castle. As I run up to the water stop the woman tells me that I'm almost to mile 4.... my head starts to race... Mile 4! I haven't been out here long enough to be at mile 4.... have I? Did I just run right past the mile 3 marker with out seeing it? Oh well maybe she's wrong and just miss understood where we were.... we ran around the castle and I passed the my second woman of the race.... and as I headed to the trail again there it was mile 4 marker. I picked up the pace a bit to try to reel in the two guys in front of me... however I think that they had a similar game plan... once we hit mile 4 they sped up as well. As we headed down the last mile - they pulled away and I lost sight of them.... however, I was still feeling pretty good and moving well for me. I came across a road and recognized it as the entrance to the park were we started, which went I was really close... time to turn on the kick and push to the finish.... yeah ... so that's what should have happened... about 6 steps at a quicker pace and longer stride and my body revolted it said "Um... no, no thanks.... you're going back to this comfortable pace now or you're walking through the field"... so I slowed back down.... till I hit the opening heading back into the Z shape run back to the finish. I picked up the pace and finished as strong as my legs could pull off. I was hoping to break 60 minutes which was my last 5 mile trail race time..... as I got closer I could see the clock I could see the the time 1:04:something. I had two minutes to get to the finish and I would be right around 50 minutes... yeah that's right FIVE ZERO! Ten minutes faster than the last one! Sure hope I can keep that up for a while and get my times down.... but over all fantastic job based on my ability to walk on Monday and Tuesday. I felt good about this old man bouncing back so quickly.

Ok... so it's late and I need to sleep. So later kids!
see you on the roads.... I'll get you an update on MS-150 soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sunday's Half Ironman.....

Sunday Morning... The weather was less than for cooperative us the morning of the Half Ironman. The winds kicked up quite these wonderful waves causing the coast guard to strongly urge the race director to cancel the swim portion of the race... For me this was very disappointing. I was shooting for finishing the swim in about 20 minutes, giving me a nice start and should have given me a lead over at least a few people. The start would be delayed for 30 minutes while they prepared to start us with a run instead. However, running 1.25 does not help me either get ahead of the field or keep my legs fresh for the bike portion.....GRRRRRrrrrr. So with no swim do to danger we had a uneventful start right? Well that would not have made for a humorous story now would it? So. we are all lined up at make shift start which was an inflated arch....and with about 30 seconds to the start.... the arch began to deflate..... so this was a funny site.....look at our legs as the arch falls.... I guess when you're running a gas powered generator to inflate the arch you should be sure that there is enough gas in the generator to at least get you through the start. Unfortunately the racers commentary was not recorded, we were having very detailed discussions about not knowing removing the swim meant having a"Limbo" start. There was a woman standing next to me and as the height of the arch fell to just below the height of my head she turned and look over (she is about only up to my armpit in height) and says "well that's it for you...but I'm still getting through fine". After about 5 more minutes of playing around the start arch was re-inflated...most of us had already moved to the other side of the arch for the start, but there were a few stuck on the back side of the deflated arch... so we waited for it to completely re-inflate after some additional gas was put into the generator.

I completed the 1.25 mile run in 10:42. Transitioned out in 1:35.... I probably would have been out a bit quicker BUT I decided to try to change into Amie's stuff... which as you can tell from this picture.... would not have worked out so well....I mean seriously her stuff would have been falling off of me right?!? What on earth was I thinking. She has the same size shoes, and same size bike and I really do think she might have copied me when she bought the pink helmet... Ok so yeah there's no way any part of that was true, except I did run up to her bike and take my shoes off.... I missed my rack by one.... one rack too early.... so I got to run over to my bike in my socks. So I'm not disappointed in the 1:35 transition at all.... I guess I could have cut 30 seconds off if I had went straight to my bike and had a clean transition. Oh well. At least Amie didn't beat me for trying to steal her bike. Now that would have been a funny story for the paper... 33 year old man in stable condition after being beaten by 29 year old woman... the altercation began at the Greater Cleveland Triathlon where the man accidentally missed his bike rack by about 8 feet.... but as I said luckily that didn't happen... thanks Amie. So now were off and biking.... Amie and I exit the corral at just about the same time... and got some bad news about Janet... she blew a tire exiting the corral, how about tough start? Janet made a great come back as she flew through the bike.

You can see Amie in her pink helmet at the left of this picture and me in my bright yellow jersey off to the right.

It took me about 8 miles to get my legs into the ride, well leaving the park and hitting some head winds didn't help anything... but I barely broke 16 miles/hour for the first 8 miles or so... just after mile 10 there is a wonderful set of hills (the only real climbs on the course).... so after completing the climbs it was down hill almost all the way back to the start/turn around. I held over 20 miles/hour all the way back to the start (topping out at 38 miles/hour on one of the hills). I was finally feeling like all the hours I spent on the trainer at lunch almost everyday were paying off. I made the turn to head back out on to the course for the second long lap of the bike course and once again that head wind came on strong, however, with warm legs I held almost 18 miles/hr all the way back out to the hills. as I came upon the hill there were two women right behind me. we were up the straight part of the hill easily, then we were left with the winding portion, however, this time the one and only rain cloud had settled just over top of that hill... as I was standing to climb the hill the rain made the pavement slick and the tar patches even slicker... and well you might be able to guess what happened ..... I was pulling up with my left leg and pushing with everything I had with my right and the back tire hit one of those tar patches and shot out from underneath me and down I went. The woman right behind me fell trying to not run me over and the woman behind her fell trying to avoid the two of us.... after checking that we were all ok we walked up the hill.... this was not enjoyable for any of us either. Making it back to the start/turn around areas was as uneventful as the first loop. When we hit the turn around for loops 3 and 4 (much shorter loops, just around Heisley road) I was completing loop 3 when what I think was a wasp based on color and size decided that hitting my arm at over 20 mph was serious injustice.... and decided to sting me on the inside of my right thigh... right through my tri shorts. NICE! thanks! exactly what I needed. As I pulled into the transition and dismounted my bike I noticed my legs were a little crampy.... I completed the bike portion 56 miles in 3hours 9minutes and 52 seconds - (17.68 mph average) - not too shabby. I think I would like to hold closer to 19 next time so more saddle time I guess.

I left the transition to begin the run and something was wrong.... My quads started cramping at mile one. and when I say cramping I mean charlie horse every muscle in my quad completely balling up into a knot of pain and amazing amounts of discomfort. Bridget was very helpful running and walking with me to keep me company and keep my spirits high.... I was hoping to finish the 13.1 miles in 2:30... when the cramps started at mile one I gave up that hope and was shooting for ....... finishing.

The run was incredibly painful and had me questioning what went wrong the entire time I was out there. I stopped at one point to try to stretch my quads and as I stretched my left quad my left hamstring disappointed that I had been ignoring. It cramped up so tight that I was yelping and trying to stand and stretch it out now. Bridget was very concerned that asking if there was anything she could do, however, I do not think there was anymore she could do. She was already being so supportive helping me through the run that was just happy to have her with me.

I completed the run portion in 2 hours 49 minutes and 12 seconds.....for an over all time of 6:13:18. The question people have been asking is well what do you think your time would have been had conditions been ok for swimming... well I would say add no more than 10 minutes on to my time. I think that I would have crushed the 1 mile swim in no more than 20 minutes... why so confident? The two mile swim I did the other week with out a wet suit I finished in 49 minutes. I can swim MUCH faster with a wet suit and only swimming one mile I would not be holding back like I did during the 2 miles swim. I was trying to
swim "quickly" but not kill myself so.... there ya go. So I'm pleased with my time and very very very happy that I've completed this goal and it gives me an idea of where I am for the Ironman goal.. I still need to work on the running.
So some other thoughts on the race... IF you state the course will be open for 8 hours and you know for a fact that there are still people on the course...DO NOT PULL UP THE TIMING MATS AT 6 HOURS!!!!!! I'm a little disappointed in how they ran the event. The support personnel on the course were FANTASTIC, the volunteers on the course working the water stops and giving directions were wonderful. I do not think that we as athletes could have asked for more from the volunteers. I do expect more from the race director and those making the decisions. If the article in the paper was correct the decision to not swim was made at 6am, we should have started the run at the same time we were to start the swim not 40 minutes later. Maybe have a little more of an event after the event... so people stick around. I hear that Amie won an age group award... guess what when she finished (an hour before me) they had already done the awards ceremony.
Well that's all for now.. at this point I'll see you all as I hobble around trying to get my legs working again.