December 27, 2013

New Bike

Merry Christmas to me!  I went over to a local tri-shop as I was visiting the in-laws for Christmas.  I heard about this particular shop and wanted to check it out.  I was also going to start looking for a new bike.  It was time to get a real tri-bike and it wouldn't hurt to see what they had to offer.  The guy I worked with was great.  He had me fitted on a few bikes and then, went out to test ride about 4-5 different bikes.  We kept doing this, each time he would tell me to focus on some other aspects; how they turned, how they shifted, how they felt, etc.  We did this for a good hour and half until I found the one I like.  All of the bikes felt great; like I was riding a fine, fast piece of machinery.  But this one just felt like an extension of me.  It was a great deal, it felt amazing, it wasn't going to get any better than that.  So I'm now the proud owner of this...

December 10, 2013

BCS Marathon

My third marathon is now in the books!  I finished strong and missed my goal by only a few minutes, 4:07.  I'm happy with that considering the conditions and the fact that I was in the medical tent right after finishing.

The night before saw a lot of ice and winter storm.  In fact, I was introduced to ice fog and we apparently got a lot of it.  I had originally planned to drive up early that morning, since BCS is only 1.5 hours away.  I'm glad my wife talked me into getting a hotel room and that there were still some available.  It was a precarious drive over but I got there safe and settled in.

I woke up the next morning and, from everything I could tell the race was still on.  I drove over to the start and sat in a traffic line for a good 30 minutes to get in to park.  I made my way over to the start and, despite all of the trips to the restroom I took before I got here I had to go again.  Of course, the line was super long but I had to do it.  As I was in the port-o-can, I could hear the national anthem and then as I was getting out I heard the gun go off to signal the start.  I was not off to a stellar start.

It's 32 degrees, I'm getting on the staging line of my third marathon. A last minute cancelation of my planned race led me to this completely different race. I've got a bib with someone else's name on it, I'm prepared, focused, and excited. Let's do this!

I quickly ran down to the start line and to my relief, I wasn't the last one to start.  There weren't many behind me, but there were a few.  It was 7:00 AM. I was in a different city than I planned to be in 48 hours ago, a different race.  My race plan was pretty well out the window except for being a relatively generic one.  "Run the first third at this pace, second third at this pace, etc."  I was now off to chase down a major PR.

The cold weather felt great.  The first few miles I was a little ahead of my plan, a little faster.  I was basically running what I should run the second third in.  It felt so good I decided I would stay at that pace and just not speed up on the second third.  I would then get back on plan.  I just kept remembering my coach saying "bank energy, not time!"

We had one small bridge early on that had some black ice.  That was pretty scary.  Other than that, there was no ice or freezing precipitation to speak of.  My toes didn't thaw out until about mile 7.  I should have worn thicker socks, or at least doubled up.  Other than that, I felt great.  Base layer, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve over that, gloves, earmuffs, hat and shorts.  I probably looked goofy but I was practical and it was working.

I got to the second third and just kept on the same pace.  I had the half way point and I was right on plan.  Exactly where I wanted to be.  Everything seemed to be working and falling into place.  There was not much crowd support, which we expected.  It's a relatively small college town.  Everyone who is in to running was in the race.  There were some though.  A van full of about 5 people seemed to show up every 3-4 miles and they were loud.  I'm not sure if they were following anyone in particular or if they just randomly were moving along the route.  They were awesome though.  A good portion of the route goes through the Texas A&M campus.  The student organizations have a contest of who is the best support group.  We had winter wonderland complete with dressed characters, people dressed as cows, and just people being as loud, boisterous, and overly encouraging as they could.  One group was at the bottom of a hill (and I use that word loosely, it's a very flat course) and had person at the top of the hill.  He was reading bib name and communicating that via cell phone to the group below.  So, when you got to the group they were all cheering your name.  Of course, I had a bib with someone else's name on it so it took me a bit to understand that they were cheering for me.  I appreciated all nonetheless.

Getting through campus and hitting around mile 20, things started to get rough.  Of course, this is to be expected.  I kept on and pushed through. I focused on my breathing and got into a very hard, rhythmic breathing pattern.  Almost like a metronome that I was running too.  The breathing here was very forced and this would end up being my downfall.  Slowly, I started feeling a tingling in my arms and hands.  I started to get a little concerned but just kept going.  I felt myself slowing down.  It looked like if I was going to break 4 hours, it was going to be close and could go either way.

The last couple of miles were really tough.  The tingling was getting worse and had now also moved to my face and head.  I couldn't understand because I had been nailing my nutrition plan and felt fine from that perspective.  I pushed hard and finished with everything I had.  4:07 by my watch; a 33 minute PR from my last marathon!  Once at the finish, I got my blanket, medal, and tried to get as much carbs and sugars in as I could.  It was getting much colder.  I kept telling myself that I would feel fine in a bit and just relax and wait it out.  I went and sat down.  It didn't get better.

I decided that since I had to drive back after this, I should probably get checked out by the medical staff.  I walked into the medical tent, told them what was going on and they immediately rushed me over to a bed.  They wrapped me in more blankets and gave me a warming pad to hold to my chest.  Eventually, they explained that I had become over oxygenated.  I had too much oxygen in my system and my body was trying to equalize.  I can only think it was the forced breathing I was doing is what did it.

Regardless, I was fine in about 30 minutes and was able to walk back to my car. I had a great celebratory lunch and then headed back home.  I felt accomplished, cancelled race, adversity, and crazy last minute changes or not.

December 6, 2013

Dallas Marathon CANCELLED! WTF?

It's race week for the Dallas marathon and all week we've been monitoring the weather.  Last year we were afraid (and unfortunately right) that it would be too warm.  This year, too cold.  The forecast is calling for freezing temperatures and ice. We've been monitoring the weather all week and I've been hoping for the cold weather and no ice.

Then, on Friday before the race.  Just a few hours before I was due to leave.  We go the following update:


Safety of our participants, as well as our volunteers and spectators, is our primary concern on MetroPCS Dallas Marathon race weekend.

We met this morning with officials from the City of Dallas, Dallas Police Department and the Office of Special Events to assess the situation. Due to current weather conditions, and forecasted conditions for Saturday and Sunday, as of today at 12:40 p.m., the decision has been collaboratively made to cancel the 2013 MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.

We regret that the race will not go on as planned, but are confident this decision is in the best interest of our runners, volunteers, spectators and the general public.

Additionally, the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon Health & Fitness Expo for Friday and Saturday has been canceled.

Well that sucks.  Amazingly, the Bryan/College Station Marathon (BCS) had some last minute bibs open up that could be purchased.  I snatched one up and I'll be racing Sunday after all.  My coach says its a great race.  She actually won the half-marathon last year.  Now to arrange a hotel and work on getting over there.  It can't ever be easy I guess.

BTW, no refunds for Dallas but supposedly we're still getting our shirts!  Now to focus on this PR I'm going for at BCS!

November 30, 2013

Marathon Goal & Touristy Long Run

I've been feeling good about my training and I'm confident about my sub-4:00 goal.  I've been steadily getting faster and my runs have been feeling better and better.  I'm really looking forward to this race.  I was in London on business during what would be one of my last long runs.  I was scheduled to do 16-18 miles.  I decided that I would combine sight-seeing and my long run.

I got up early, mapped my route and off I went.  Best way to explore a city and prepare for an upcoming marathon is definitely a long run. My route this morning took me by The Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Harrods Department Store, Imperial College (where I worked last time I was in London), Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Parliament, Globe Theatre, London Eye, London Bridge, Millennium Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Awesome run, even though a bit cold.  Of course, I had to pause to take some photographs.

November 3, 2013

Formula Run

I just completed a 5K called Formula Run.  It took place at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack, where the Formula 1 US Grand Prix is held.  I was really excited about this race since I've seen auto racing here and really wanted to run on the track. Also, with all my training that I've been doing I wanted to see how well I could do in a 5K race.  Outside of triathlon, it's been a really long time since I raced a 5K.

It was a great race and had a good turn out.  It was one lap around the track so it actually was a 5.4K.  My time was  25:07 and I finished 8th in my age group!

October 6, 2013

Marathon Training Going Strong

Marathon training continues to move along strongly.  I feel like I'm getting faster and stronger.  I feel pretty good about reaching my goal of beating 4 hours.  The central Texas heat is still brutal, but we're finding ways to cope.  Popsicles work pretty well.

Encouraging picture to our coach who was running the Leadville 100.

September 8, 2013

Wurst Tri Ever

I had a friend from high school coming to New Braunfels (about 45 minutes south of me) to race the Wurst Tri Ever.  New Braunfels is in the part of Texas that was heavily settled by Germans and is famous for, among other things, their wurst.  Since this triathlon was just after TriRock (less than week) I wasn't sure I would be able to do it.  But the chance to race with an old friend and frankly, just do another triathlon, was too much to pass up.

It was a very small race that takes place in a park.  The 400 meter swim is one of the most interesting I've done.  First, you start off going down a big water slide into a natural spring fed pool.  You could choose to skip the water slide and start out from the shore on the other side, but how much fun would that be?  Of course, since the slide is one at a time like a time trial start, it took an hour to get through the line and down the slide.  Down the slide and into the cool (~70 degree) water for one lap around the natural pool.  Then, you have a climb out and walk (they were very specific that you couldn't run or jog else incur a penalty) to the lap pool where you were to finish the rest of the swim.  The lap pool was shallow, uncovered, and very hot.  It was a stark difference to the 70 degree, non-chlorinated water we just left.  You had to snake your way through the lanes of the lap pool until you finally reached (what I can only assume to be) the 400 meter mark.

Then it was in to transition and on to the bike.  It was a little tricky getting out of the park and since we were in a river bottom, we had a steep hill to climb to get out of the park.  More on this hill in a bit. The ride was not too bad.  Roads weren't the greatest.  No traffic was blocked off.  Not too much in the way of support.  And, there were some pretty good hills, including the biggest climb which was at the turnaround.  Coming back as we were to reenter the park, we came to that same hill we had to climb to get out of the park.  It was a blind corner with a steep downhill, on a two lane road that was in bad shape, and was not closed to vehicle traffic.  All of this led to the most bizarre part of the race.  There was someone running radar there and if you exceeded 25 mph in this section, you got a 10 minute penalty.  If you passed anyone in this section, it was an automatic DQ.

Finally getting back to transition after slowing properly, dodging the stream of cars that were going into a beautiful park on summer Saturday morning, and dealing with potholes, gravel and train tracks, I was ready for the run.  The run was a 2.7 mile loop course around a golf course and through a neighborhood.  The run wasn't too bad.  Although I wondered if I was going to get hit by a golf ball as close as we were running to the fairway.

In the end, I finished in the 10th in my age group.  Being vegetarian, I couldn't partake in the sausage they were serving afterwards, but that seemed like a nice perk.  It was a lot of fun and an interesting experience.

September 5, 2013

It's Not About the Race

Having just completed my second TriRock a year after my very first triathlon and in the midst of my first full triathlon season, I'm doing a lot of reflection.  As I've talked about previously, I was really working to focus on enjoying the races and training and not putting so much pressure on myself.  Timely, I've been reading articles, looking through videos, and listening to podcasts about this type of thinking.  Recently, I came across an article from Chris McCormack on the soul of the sport.  He talks about how he, as a professional, is inspired and reinvigorated by local races.  It's an interesting perspective and one that we as local racers could easily lose.

I've also gotten into Zen and the Art of Triathlon.  It's the longest running triathlon podcast from a racer and coach who is based not too far from me.  I'm still going through the archives but I recently listed to a great episode about being a "soul triathlete".  He references the "soul surfers" who don't do contests and are not professional.  They just surf for the enjoyment of it and for the sake of the sport itself.  Brett, the host, talks about taking that perspective to what he calls the "triathlon lifestyle".  It's a great listen and I highly recommend his podcast.  You can find the episode I'm talking about here.  

Finally, here's a great video from Chrissie Wellington at Ironman Texas where she talks about this same topic.

September 3, 2013

TriRock Austin

I had a pretty good race at TriRock.  Most notably, I had the best swim I've had.  It wasn't great by any standards (other than mine) but I felt great throughout.  I was steady and consistent and didn't stop until I got to the swim exit.  I felt more comfortable and, by extension, was faster than I've been in any race.  All that work has apparently paid off.  My transitions have even gotten better.  The bike was relatively good.  I had some challenges with some road hazards.  While I didn't flat out, fortunately, but after the race I discovered my front wheel was out of true and rubbing the brake.  I'm not sure how long it had been that way.  I went over the same bad area of road three times.  That could have been part of the reason I wasn't as fast as I wanted to be.

The other could have been that I was focused on the run.  I kept reminding myself that I was riding to run, not for a good bike split.  I wanted to have a race where I didn't blow up on the run.  I didn't quite realize this goal.  I blew up on the last mile, but was able to dig deep and finish strong through the last stretch.  I was relatively happy with my time overall, especially my swim time.  It was a good race and good reflection of both how far I've come in a year and how much more I can go.

Me and training group partner Stacy.

September 1, 2013


I'm set to race TriRock Austin.  This is the race I did last year that was my first triathlon.  I'm doing the Olympic distance this year.  An added excitement this year is that Chris “Macca” McCormack will be racing the sprint distance.  Sure, it's no doubt for the appearance fees but it's still pretty cool nonetheless.  The day before, he led a shakeout run with anyone who wanted to join.  

It was a pretty cool experience.  We did an easy 3 mile run and got to chat with him during and after.  I found him to be a super nice guy and I was really glad I go to have that experience.  I'm excited about the race to come!

August 30, 2013

Refocusing on Austin 70.3

I'm now all signed up for the Ironman Austin 70.3.  I'm shifting my training slightly to focus on this as my "A" race along with the Dallas marathon.  I feel like my marathon training should have me in good shape for the run portion.  I need to focus on ramping up my swim and bike.  I'm following a training program from a training book I got.  I think it's working pretty well.  I guess the race will tell.

August 24, 2013

Recovery and Over Training

This week I had a super hilly 16 mile long run, including the biggest hill in Austin called Ladera Norte. The "Run From Hell" is aptly named.  Through this, I feel like I might be overtraining a bit.  I'm exhausted and sore.  I don't feel like I'm recovering as I should.  I took a couple of days off and caught up on rest.  It's made a HUGE difference.  I got to where I neither physically nor mentally could get into my workouts.  It was a struggle to start, really hard to get through the workout, and didn't feel like I was getting fully back to square one after the workout.  I'm feeling better now and will continue to keep an eye on this.  I need to learn to listen to my body.

August 21, 2013

Time Trial & Brick Workouts

A couple of updates from this week.  As part of marathon training, we have to do a 2 mile time trial.  We're supposed to run this as hard as we can consistently for those two miles. This allows us to establish a baseline for which we can predict what my target goal pace will be for 10K, half-marathon, and of course the marathon.  I pushed really hard and finished in just under 16 minutes.  I felt really good about that.  I'm getting faster and stronger and might be able to set a good PR for the Dallas marathon.

The triathlon club I'm a part of offers free brick workouts every Wednesday night.  I joined for the first time this week.  It was good, tough workout.  We had timed bike, followed by a timed run.  The bike time got progressively shorter and faster while the run stayed the same.  We practiced the transition between each.  It was tough and probably not the best idea to do this the day after my time trial.  But I really enjoyed and am looking forward to doing more of these the rest of the season.

July 28, 2013

Preparing for Jack's Generic Triathlon

Having recovered from the Marble Falls Triathlon and getting into marathon training, I'm now gearing up for Jack's Generic Triathlon.  This one will be an actual Olympic distance race back at Lake Pflugerville.  I've been talking to my marathon coach about what happened during the Marble Falls race and she suggested trying salt tablets.  As I am a heavy sweater, she suggested that I may be losing too many electrolytes during exertion and this might be a good way to supplement that.  Especially with the heat we're dealing with.

I bought some and have found that they make a difference.  I started looking for a better way to carry these during a race, especially on the bike.  My research lead me to the Salt Stick dispenser.  It carries 6 tablets, dispenses them with a twist, and can be carried, mounted, or even inserted into a bar end.  I think this might be a game changer.  Guess I'll get to try it out soon.

July 23, 2013

Marble Falls Triathlon Race Report

Well, that was one of the more challenging races I've done...And that's why I do multiple races in a season. It was a tough race.  For some reason, the swim was challenging.  I guess I'm still not quite comfortable in the water.  The bike wasn't too tough by itself.  However I think I expended too much energy attacking the hills and wore myself out.  I was trying to maintain a certain average speed and I think that caused me to go hard on some of the hills.  And there were a lot of them.  I felt like I had rode pretty hard and when I got into T2, my legs were already cramping.  Not good.  I knew the run was going to suck.  It did.  I had a decent pace for the first couple of miles, then everything started to fall apart.  I was having serious cramps in my quads and I was just worn out.  I was able to slog through the run that wound through a residential neighborhood and ended with a steep hill up to the finish.  After a little active recovery massage at the finish, I started the hour long drive back.  Overall, the results were not great.  I was toward the bottom of my age group and overall didn't feel great about the race in general.  Oh well, I've got more races to come.  I earned some good food, beer and a nap. Oh yeah, and an ice bath.


July 19, 2013

Marble Falls Triathlon

I'm preparing for the Marble Falls triathlon.  It should be an interesting race.  It's a 1K swim, 23 mile bike through the hill country, and a 4.4 mile run.  Not sure how/why they came up with this distance. But, I'm looking forward to it.  Looking to build on the momentum I had from the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon.  I just registered and the race is Sunday so I'm thinking it might be a small race.  I keep stepping up the distance to each one is a challenge.  Looking forward to it.

July 13, 2013

Starting Marathon Training

Marathon training has now started in earnest for the Dallas marathon in December.  Hard to believe I'm starting training now for something that's 5 months away.  Also hard to believe that it should actually be cool when I race.  It's definitely not right now.  Hot, sunny, and humid.  It's great to see a lot of familiar faces again as well as meet some new people.  We've got a big and diverse group.  Should be fun!

June 18, 2013

Lake Pflugervile Race Report

Well the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon was a success overall.  I had a decent swim, not great but not terrible either.  My bike was pretty good, although I kind of faded at the end.  I'd like to be a little more consistent on the bike.  My run was not as good.  I started strong but faded in the end.  I kind of blew up about 2/3 into it.  Gotta work on that.  Overall I had a pretty good time and it was really exciting and invigorating to be a race environment again.


June 13, 2013

Lake Pflugerville Triathlon

I'm back and refocused, ready for the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon.  This is a sprint distance race at a great location.  It's a small, man-made lake that has a permanent 500 meter swim course for practicing open water, lots of open roads for biking through much of the same route I had on the Rosedale Ride, and 3 mile granite trail around the lake.  I've done some training out there and it will be fun to race there.  I've also got anther race there in August.  I feel good and don't have large expectations going into it.  Just enjoy the day and get comfortable with racing again.  A good bounce back after Kemah.

June 3, 2013


I've come up with a new mantra for racing.  I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to finish with a certain time, maintain a certain pace, be in a certain percentile in results, etc.  All of those are good goals.  However, when I'm focusing just on that and the success or failure of the outcome is based on those criteria, it can be really stressful.  I can easily lose sight of why I'm doing this in the first place how much fun I'm having.  I recently read an article about how to deal with anxiety during a triathlon.  Or, rather it was about how to relax and enjoy the moment.  There were a number of things that resonated with me.  Two of the key points that have stuck with me have been:

  1. No one cares about your time but you. - I've been so worried about my overall time that I'm losing sight of the bigger picture.  No one cares what time I finished it.  Did I finish and have fun is all they really care about. I learned that with marathon training pretty early on.  Not sure why I didn't translate that well to triathlon.
  2. You deserve this and to do well. - This is a big one.  So often I can easily feel intimidated and feel like I shouldn't be there; that I'm out of my league.  When I see people who are faster than I am, stronger than I, more fit than I, it's hard not to think this.  But, like my high school football coach used to say, "that's 'stinking thinking'".
It reminds of me of a quote I read years ago, from Jimmy Buffett of all people: "If you ever get a chance to run with the ball, count on fumbling and getting the shit knocked out of you.  Just remember how much fun it was to run with the ball."  So, to remind myself of all of this and to relax and enjoy the moment, I have my new mantra: JFET - Just Fucking Enjoy This!

May 27, 2013

Vacation and Training

I'm off to enjoy our annual vacation on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  It's giving me a time to level set and regroup for the season to come.  I'm enjoying running on the beach at sunrise and swimming laps in the pool.  I should be in pretty good shape for the upcoming Pflugerville Triathlon, provided I don't over do it on the rich seafood and beer.

May 23, 2013

Ironman Texas, My Next Goal

I had set a goal for myself that I would do an Ironman before I'm 40.  I figured that Ironman Texas would be the most obvious choice.  Knowing that these events tend to sell out quickly, I wanted to get in on the registration as quickly as I could.  So I did.  I am now registered for Ironman Texas 2014.  I've got a year to get ready.  I feel like there is so much further that I have to go before I'm anywhere near being remotely ready for that.  But it's happening. I've registered, called my shot, and laid down the gauntlet. Bring it!

May 21, 2013

Splash 'n Dash

As a final training session of my triathlon group, we participated in the Splash 'n Dash.  It's a 750 meter open water swim, followed by a 3 mile run.  It's a USAT sanctioned, timed event.  My swim was not good.  I'm just uncomfortable in open water.  Not nervous or scared, just uncomfortable.  I'm not sure what it is.  I think I get intimidated by the distance and focus on how long it is rather than what's right in front of me. I'm not sure but it's definitely something I need to work on.  I survived. It was tough but fun and I was glad that I was able to do it with a lot of new friends.

May 18, 2013

Real Ale Ride

Keeping the training going by participating in the Real Ale Ride.  Sponsored by a local bicycle shop and micro-brewery Real Ale, the ride takes place in Blanco, TX and is a very hilly ride.  "Up the hills and down the beers" is their slogan.  It was a fun 50 mile ride that I got to do with a coworker.  It was a lot of climbing and the heat was a little brutal, but it was a great ride followed by some great beer.

May 15, 2013

Training Group Ending

The triathlon training group I've been with for the past 8 weeks is coming to an end. They'll all be racing the Capital of Texas Triathlon while I'll be in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on vacation.  It's been a great experience.  I've learned so much and made a lot of new friends and training partners.  I feel like I'm now starting to become part of the triathlon community.  Slowly and in a very small way, but it's happening.  I'm very thankful for the experience and think that I'll be much better prepared for my future races.

May 5, 2013

Midnight Moontower Run

Rogue Running was hosting a free, supported half-marathon (with other distances) starting a midnight. The course went through east Austin, campus and south Austin stopping at the majority of the moontowers (cue Dazed and Confused reference).  At the end, there was to be beer and breakfast tacos.

I think this was some of the most fun I'd had on a long run.  We started out going through the hip east Austin bar district where everyone, both on traffic and foot, were in shock/awe/surprised curiosity of the mass of runners decked in glow strips running through the streets.  Then through the neighborhoods where some parties were happening and we got some curious and enthusiastic reactions.  As we made our way over to the UT campus, the city was going to sleep. Everything was shutting down. We went up to the UT tower around 1:00 where we discovered a game of cricket being played on the plaza.  We watched that briefly before setting out again.

As we went through the heart of campus, we passed numerous parties where we got a lot of cheers.  Coming back into downtown, we lost some members of our group as they turned off for the shorter routes.  Just before 2:00, when most of the bars close, we were on west 6th street dodging mass groups of drunks on the streets and sidewalks. As we crossed the river, it was as if we were in a different city altogether.  A city that had gone to bed a long time ago.  It was so quiet.  It was like that through the rest of neighborhoods.  We saw animal control slowly chasing a dog up and down a street. Other than that, it was pretty deserted.

When I finally finished, I had run a half marathon.  It was around 2:45.  I was looking forward to a beer and breakfast tacos.  Unfortunately the beer was gone and the tacos, almost gone and cold.  Oh well.  It was still one of the most fun runs I've had.

April 30, 2013

Kemah Triathlon

Well, the Kemah Triathlon was quite an experience to say the least.  I drove down to Kemah, about 4 hours, on Saturday.  The sprint race was on Saturday and the buzz was that it was a good and successful race.  I had read in the race guide that there was a 1.25 mile run from the swim exit to transition and they suggested you bring an extra pair of shoes to leave there and run to transition.  I was skeptical of this but I packed an extra pair of shoes anyway.  I learned during the race briefing that the road from the swim exit to transition was rough and would be hot on bare feet.  I quickly put together a my bag of extra shoes and dropped it off.

I got settled into my hotel, went for a shakeout run around the boardwalk, and settled in for an early dinner and final preparations.  As I was getting everything ready, some big thunderheads starting rolling in.  The thunder was getting louder and then it started raining.  It started pouring.  Soon it was an all out storm that didn't look like it was going to let up. I was checking for updates and got an email that said they were monitoring the conditions and would continue to update.  I figured there wasn't any more I could do tonight except rest and I would see where we were in the morning.

I awoke at 4:30, had my juice and started getting ready.  The rain was still coming down and it appeared it had never stopped. A little after 5:00, I got an email update that said they were canceling the bike.  We were going to swim, run to transition, then have a 10K run.  The triathlon had become an aquathlon.  That sucks.

I went down to the swim exit and replaced my transition shoes with my actual run shoes.  Good thing I did.  My transition shoes were completely soaked from being out in the rain all night.  The bag didn't offer much protection.  I then walk up to transition to set up the rest of my run gear.  Transition was a rough lot underneath an overpass.  The run off from the overpass was running right down onto transition.  The guy next to me looked at me and said "What a shit show!"  Yeah, exactly.

I made my way over to the finish area, which is where we were to get on the boat.  We were organized on the three decks by age group.  It seemed like forever that we were waiting to take off.  The water was rough and choppy and the wind was still blowing, though the rain had quit.  We finally got out to spot where we were to be dropped off.  They made some announcements and then had the national anthem. The pros on the first deck were to go off first.  Then, the middle deck, which I was on.  The pros were able to dive off the boat, while all the age groupers had to jump feet first.  There was to be someone there where we jumped off to tell us to jump right or left.  I had no idea what to expect of all of this.

I was in a line that slowly meandered through the middle deck, down the stairs, and then trough the first deck toward the door that led to the outside deck.  It was uncomfortably quiet as we moved slowly toward the door.  I couldn't see past the door but I expected that it would lead to the outside deck where the line would move toward the edge and we'd jump off.  Again, it was uncomfortably quiet.  As I reached the door, it was like a scene from a war movie where the troops are about to jump out of the plane for the first time and the instructor gets right in their face screaming "Now! Now! Now!"  As soon as I got to the door, I was greeted by this screaming face that said "JUMP RIGHT!".

I jumped in and I was off.  Just swim toward the shore.  The water was rough and I could only breath to one side.  It was cold and windy.  I just kept moving.  While it was slow going, I finally made it to the swim exit.  With the assistance of the wetsuit strippers, I was out of the wetsuit and proceeded to get my running shoes.  I couldn't find my shoes.  They were not where I left them and set them up earlier that morning.  I called a volunteer over and after a few minutes, we found them a couple of rows over.  As I was moving out of the swim exit and starting the mile and quarter run to transition, I pulled off my googles, swim cap, pulled out one ear plug, then the other but pop...  I just had a piece of the ear plug and the rest was still in my ear.  The more I tried to fish it out, the deeper it got.  I guess I'd have to leave it in until the medical tent at the finish.

I made it transition, dropped off the wetsuit, grabbed the race belt, and was off for the run.  The clouds had burned off by now and the sun was beating down.  It was now hot with the gulf coast humidity in full force.  The first 3.5 miles were pretty strong and I was moving at good pace. Then things started to come apart.  My feet were blistered from the wet shoes and feet.  I was pouring from the humidity.  My leg was starting to hurt.  I then decided that I would ease off and no longer treat this as a race.  It was a "shit show" as the guy had described it earlier.  Let's just call this what it is, finish, and focus on the next race.

I finished somewhere in the bottom third of my age group, I think.  It wasn't important.  I went straight to the medical tent and had them remove my earplug.  The medal was pretty cool.  The swim was interesting.  I later learned I went 1700 meters instead of the 1500, due to the boat drifting. I got through it and was better for the experience.  On to the next one I guess.

April 18, 2013

Preparing for Kemah

I've been both anxious and excited about the upcoming Kemah triathlon.  I'm nervous about the swim.  It's an open water, point-to-point swim in Galveston bay.  They take you out on a boat and you swim back in. I've never done that distance before and it will be my first wetsuit swim.  I feel like I'm confident on the bike and run.  If I can just make it through the swim I'll be good.  My swim training has been good, by my standards, but I'm one of the slower people in my training group.  I'm not planing on setting any records or contending for a podium spot.  I would like to not be below average though.  I'll give it the best effort I can and we'll just see what happens.  I've got a good season planned and, while this will be the first race of the season, it's not my "A" race.  Just stay positive and have fun.

April 16, 2013

Spokes 'N Spurs

I did another organized ride that I've done in the past. The Spokes 'n Spurs ride is a multi-distance ride through the Texas hill country.  It also has a supported brick run after it with the ability to practice transition.  I chose the 26 mile bike and 10K brick run.

I had a pretty fast and solid bike.  It was my first time with my new aero bars, so it took a little getting used to.  There were parts of the course that were bad roads with a lot of loose gravel.  Overall, I felt pretty good about that bike.

I had pretty smooth transition into the run and I was off.  It was a pretty solid run at a good pace.  It was getting hot by then and I was starting to feel it.  By mile 5, I was starting to slow.  I kept pushing through and was able to finish strong.  This gave me a lot of confidence going into my first Olympic distance triathlon.

March 26, 2013

CapTex Tri Training Group

I've gotten into a triathlon specific training group.  It's in the same place I've been doing my marathon training, Rogue Running.  It's an eight week, four times a week training course led by professional triathletes Brandon and Amy Marsh.  It's training specific to the Capital of Texas Triathlon on Memorial Day, which I won't be able to participate in.  Regardless, I think it's going to be great for me to have more structured training and coaching.  So far, it's been great.  I've met a lot of great people and have a much better sense of some of the nuances of triathlon.  I can't wait to see how much better I'm going to be come the end of the eight weeks.

March 24, 2013

Rosedale Ride

To ramp up my training on the bike, I participated in an organized ride that I've done a number of times preparing for the MS150.  The Roesdale Ride is a great organized rid that benefits the Roesdale school here in Austin.  It's got distances of 26, 42, and 62 miles.  In the past I've done the 62, preparing for the MS 150.  This year, I decided I'd do the 42 and see if I could do the whole thing without stopping.

It was a great ride.  A little hot and windy, especially when we got into the open farm country.  I had a pretty good ride and was able to maintain a pretty good pace throughout.  I had to stop at the last rest stop, about mile 33.  I had run out of water and nutrition and had to pee.  Interestingly, I saw my boss from 12 years ago at the rest stop.  The company I worked for then was sponsoring it and he was volunteering.

Overall, it was great ride and I felt pretty good about it.  A good experience and I think it's got me prepared to start the season.  I've got my first Olympic triathlon coming up in less than a month.

March 5, 2013

Swim Stroke & Efficiency Clinic

Swimming has been my weakest and most angst ridden leg of my triathlons.  I don't feel comfortable, I'm really slow, and it wears me out.  I had an opportunity to get into a swim stroke and efficiency clinic.  It's two sessions over two Sunday mornings.  It's been great.  I've been able to learn proper technique, better form, and a lot of drills to help it all be more routine.  I'm beginning to feel more comfortable and confident.  Like I might look like I know what I'm doing.  If you have the opportunity to take a clinic like this, it's totally worth it.  I never realized how much technique was so fundamental to swimming.  I made the mistake that I think a lot of triathletes do, that I could just power through the swim like I do on bike and the run.  That my physical strength would make up for bad technique or form.  While that can be the case on the bike and run, I'm learning that is definitely not true on the swim.  I'm so glad I'm doing this.  It's been a big breakthrough that I needed.

February 20, 2013

Planning the Triathlon Season

Now that I've finished my marathons, I'm ready to start up with my first full season of triathlon.  After completing my fist sprint at TriRock Austin last year, I've got the bug.  I'm hooked and want to do as many triathlons as I can this year.  I'd like to keep pushing the distances and lead up to my first half-Ironman by the end of the year.  So, here is the tentative season I have planned:

  • Kemah Triathlon - April (my first Olympic distance)
  • Lake Pflugerville Triathlon - June (Sprint)
  • Marble Falls Triathlon - July (quasi-Olympic)
  • Jack's Generic Triathlon - August (Olympic)
  • TriRock Austin - September (Olympic)
  • Ironman Austin 70.3 - October (Half-Ironman)
  • Dallas Marathon - December

That's the plan at least.  It's a full plate but I think I can do it.  I really want to do it.  I guess we'll see.

February 19, 2013

Austin Marathon

I've finished my second marathon!  While overall I had a better experience than I did in Dallas, it was not any easier.  The Austin course is super hilly and very challenging.  I took a break after Dallas to enjoy the holidays and recover.  Training has been going pretty well and I've just completed the Rogue 30K, which while not a stellar showing, gave me a good sense of where I was at both physically and emotionally.

I had a good plan, was feeling pretty good, and was prepared.  I started out well, sticking to my plan and not starting out too fast.  Everything was going pretty smoothly for the first 10 miles.  Around mile 10, I had to pee.  I had passed by every other port-o-can at the aid stations because I didn't want to wait in any line.  By this point in the race, we were still in the urban, non-residential area that didn't afford anywhere to stop and relieve.  Finally, I found this bank of port-o-cans positioned on this hillside on the side of the road just before mile 10.  There were a couple that had no line.  I veered off and went straight to an open one.  My momentum that carried me into the port-o-can also enabled me to realize that it was not firmly situated on this hillside.  As the door closed behind me I felt the whole thing start to tip and I had this moment of panic.  Was this how my race was going to end?  Upside down in a port-o-can at mile 10?

Fortunately, it didn't end there.  It, along with my help, righted itself and after a brief stop was back on the course.  As I approached the half-marathon split (where the half-marathoners turn off) I knew that my race was just about to start.  It was here where the hills were to begin.  I got myself in the right frame of mind to handle one of the most talked about stretches of the course, Exposition Blvd.  My strategy was just to maintain and get through the hills.  If I didn't maintain my pacing, it wasn't a problem.  I'd be able to get back on pace later.  Just don't let the hill beat you.  You still have a ways to go.

I got through Exposition pretty well and was feel pretty good.  As I turned off of Exposition and on to 35th street, I started to feel not so good.  Things started to go downhill from here.  I started slowing down.  The IT Band started getting tight and painful again.  I struggled through the next 8 miles as best I could.  I was losing my momentum and the pain was increasing.  As we made our way back into downtown, I decided I would push it and try to finish strong.  I was going to leave it all out on the course.  I saw my parents at one of the turns.  A passed a couple (in the race) who had just gotten engaged about a mile back.  I saw my coach at the top of the big hill leading up to the turn to the finish.  As I made the turn to the finish, I felt empowered by the energy of the crowd, which lined the street.  I was running with all I had.  As I was making the final turn, I saw my wife.  I gave her a high five and she gave me some encouragement.  I crossed the line strong and feeling accomplished; like I had left it all out there on the course.  In the end, I finished in 4:40.  As 17 minute PR!