Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lacamas Lake Half Marathon--July 24, 2011

Lacamas Lake Half Marathon

July 24, 2011

Camas, Washington

Time:  1:58:50  (9:04/mile)

Validation!  Yes, I validated my ambitious desire to finish a half-marathon in less than 2 hours.  Remember this was a goal of mine to accomplish this year, which I did back in May at the Eugene Half Marathon finishing in 1:54.  Then I had a disastrous performance at the Vancouver Marathon when I tried to finish a full 26.2 miles in less than 4 hours a month later.  I had not specifically trained for this  half marathon, I did it just for fun and have been trying to focus more on triathlons with the short season I will have this summer.  But I had heard this was a fun event and I should do it at least once. 

Wendy and her sister Maija joined me on race morning.  It was really low-key and we arrived right at the time when the runners were lining up for the start.  I had about 2 minutes to warm up and then get on the running track at Camas High School for the start of the event.  “Just 13.1 miles,” I thought to myself.  Sounds so ridiculous.  That is still a freaking long ways! 

My strategy was to run on feel for the first few miles and then see where I was.  In the back of my mind I would love to finish in less than 2 hours, but this wasn’t my big, high-reaching goal for the day.  It was really warm, the sun was out and we would have to tackle two very steep hills, one at mile 6.5 and the other less than a mile from the finish.  Whatever strategy I employed, I would have to consider these obstacles.

Things started out well enough, I got into a nice smooth pace and tried to just take it easy.  There were lots of people at this local event and I like to people watch, it helps keep my mind off of the pain.  So many people….. so many stories.  Makes you wonder what they went through to make it to the starting line.  Do they do this just for fun?  Was this the result of a dare from a friend?  Are they running for a cause?  Do they do this to remind themselves that they are still alive?

About mile 3 I started developing a sharp pain in my right foot.  Not something I had felt before, it was rather weird.  This persisted off and on for the rest of the run.  I still don’t know what it was, but my body was really fatigued coming into this event.  My body was trashed from the 70.3 triathlon 2 weeks prior, then I did the sprint triathlon last Sunday in which I went all out for 75 minutes.

Up to mile 4 my pace was about 9:25, I was still just running on feeling, not too hard but not too easy, either.  Mile 5 was a blistering 8:05.  I don’t recall why I went so fast for this mile.  I think this was a slight downhill and I wanted to see how I felt.  I didn’t feel too bad, but I still had a big hill to climb at mile 6.5. 

As we ran along the northside of Lacamas lake, we made our way to the Camas Meadows Golf Course.  Pretty setting, but here came an out and back route with a very steep hill.  I sucked down a gel just before the hill and guzzled some of my Gatorade G2.  I tried running up most of the hill, but it was very steep and my legs were burning and my heart rate was over 150.  I had to walk.  Goodness, would this tank my pace?  I got to the top and there was an aid station there, I doused my cotton rag with water and drenched my head with cool water.  I guzzled some water and started heading down the hill.  My legs were feeling much better on the descent and so I really stretched them out and just flew.  Nice.

Gut Check Time

I came upon Mile 8 and did a quick calculation.  The time read 1:15.  With 5 miles to go, I need to average better than 9:00/min mile for the next 45 minutes to make the 2 hour mark.  Oh brother.  I have already ran 8 miles, my heart rate has been around 142 for a long time, I knew I was getting tired.  But I decided to go for it.  I wanted to see what I was made of.  Am I an Ironman or what? 

My strategy was to run hard for the next 3 miles to bank enough time to permit me to walk the hill at mile 12.5.  We had just entered the Lacamas Lake Heritage trail.  This is a beautiful gravel trail that runs along the southern side of the lake.  I have run this trail numerous times and it is one of my favorites.  The trail is about 3.5 miles long.  I dug deep and took off.  Mile 9 was an 8:36, okay super, I just banked some serious time, but what can I sustain?  Mile 10 was an 8:33!  Holy cow!  But now I was starting to hurt.  The thighs especially were on fire.  Mile 11 was a bit slower at 9:12.  Amazing, I had just ran a 5K in the middle of a half marathon and it was a very respectable time. 

But I couldn’t let up.  I wasn’t done yet.  The looming hill still concerned me because the hill is about a half mile long and if I end up walking the hill, it could take 7 minutes.  So I keep digging.  Mile 12 was an 8:47.  I was really, really hurting.  I was starting to employ some self-talk.  “come on, Mike, come on!”  “you can do this.” “What are you made of?”

The Hill

Okay, here it comes.  “Yes!  Here we go!”  I put my head down and concentrated on good form and fluid, effortless strides.  “oh goodness.”  The hill was gradual at first.  Then we made a turn into a neighborhood and it was steep.  It was really steep.  Some of the neighbors had their sprinklers going and their kids had water pistols spraying down the runners.  I signaled over to a dad and a little girl to hit me.  “Ahhhhhh, woooooo!”

I was forced to walk, it was just too much.  I looked at my watch, goodness, this will be close, I can’t give up now.  I really amped up the self talk, started swearing at myself, saying stuff you really shouldn’t say to yourself, but sometimes you need to find motivation somehow.  I decided to walk 20 steps and then run 20 steps and repeat.  I did this about 5 times as I got to the top of the hill.  I liked this, it helped. 

The Finish

I got to the top of the hill, I could see the high school, I checked my time, I knew I was going to make it!  We entered the running track and I had just 300 meters to go.  I stretched it out and finished strong.  Yes!  I was so thrilled to come in under 2 hours.  Yes!  I saw Wendy and Maija and I was so glad for it to be over.  Yes!

So, wow!  I proved a lot with this performance.  I didn’t give up, I didn’t wuss out, I dug deep, I showed some good mental toughness and mind-over-matter techniques to get the job done.  Sweet!  I will have to file this away in my catalog and pull it out again if needed.

Thank you all for your support!


P.S.  One thing to remember next time, take note of the location of the safety pins that hold the race number to the shirt so that the pin protruding inside the shirt does NOT match up with the same location as one’s nipple.  Uh, yeah.  That really hurt.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Girlfriend's and Dude's Sprint Triathlon--July 17, 2011

Girlfriends and Dudes Sprint Triathlon

July 17, 2011

Frenchman’s Bar, Columbia River, Vancouver, WA

0.5 mile swim, 12.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run

Time:  Total--1:15:49

The calendar reads 'July' but it was more like a morning out of April.  As I laid awake in bed I could hear the rain on the carports outside and the water trickling through the downspouts.  "Oh goodness," I thought.  "Why do I do this crazy stuff?"  If I weren't so dedicated to this new lifestyle, I would have rolled over, hugged my pillow, and gone back to sleep.  But if I did that, then what would I write you all about? :-)

It was a wet day and before the day was over, it would be recorded as one of the wettest days in July on record.  To top it off, the rain must have driven away some of the event sponsors and entertainment because there was no PA system in the morning and Tommy O's, one of the food sponsors, did not show so all they had was bagels and grapes.  Bummer.

But I try not to let things like this dampen my enthusiasm to push myself and see what limits there may be to my physical abilities.  This is a sprint distance triathlon at Frenchman's Bar on the Columbia River.  It has received lots of praise in years past as being one of the funnest events in the region.  I am coming off of a half-ironman distance event just a week ago and typically a person should take about 3 weeks off, but I need to get in as much racing as I can before Ironman Coeur d'Alene in 2012.  Racing experience, just like the training, is important so I can experience a number of things and issues that only racing can bring about.  Remember my forgetting the liquid nutrition last week?  Yeah, that's the kind of stuff I am talking about.

SWIM  0.5 miles, down current 10:53 (6th out of 33 M40-44)

One of the big draws to this event is that the swim is with the current of the Columbia River.  We walk a half mile up the beach to the starting line and then swim with the current.  Swim times are usually very fast and this was no exception for me.  Although there wasn't much current and the water was FREAKING COLD!  I don't know what was colder, Lake Coeur d'Alene last year or this.  I started in the Men 40 and over and the Relay Team wave.  After about 100 yards I looked up and I was in 4th place overall.  Cool.  But certainly faded after that since I was getting pretty winded.  The swim was pretty easy except the Columbia was very murky.

BIKE  12.5 miles, 36:28 (20 mph avg  9th out of 33 M40-44)

Came into transition and hustled up the hill and tried to be as quick as possible.  With these short events the transition time is just as important as overall time.  Although I had trouble getting my wetsuit off.  I was really dizzy and almost fell over twice.  I had to steady myself on the bike rack.  Got my shoes on, helmet, race belt, Garmin and glasses and I was off.

I started in the last start wave so there were a lot of people in front.  It was fun blasting by them, made me feel like a rockstar.  Whooooosh!  This was only 12.5 miles on a very flat course so it was going to be an all out effort.  Hold her at threshold as long as possible.  I could feel my legs burning from the start.  They were ragged from last week's event, bike ride to work and long hike on Friday.  Oh well, keep going.

I had just 2 people in my age group pass me that I could see and I think it was less than 10 bikes passed me the entire route.  I kept it plugged and averaged right at 20mph for the distance.  A first for me.

RUN 3.1 miles, 25:46 (8:17 pace  17th out of 33 M40-44)

Came into transition, pulled my feet out of my clipped in shoes while still on the bike, dismounted and sprinted to the bike rack.  Slammed my bike on the rack threw off my helmet and glasses and put on my runners and was out of there in 1:02.  Pretty good transition time looking at everyone else's.

Now to see if I screwed my race strategy or not.  Let's see how long I can keep my running at threshold.  I should be able to do a 5k at 140 bpm threshold and that should be about an 8 minute pace when rested.  I kept chugging along and while the rain was coming down, I could taste the sweaty salt from my face.  I was pretty hot and pretty tired.  Kept a solid pace and slowed to a 9 minute mile for about 200 yards, otherwise I was go, go go.  Just before the finish, two guys in my age group go whizzing by me.  I tried to keep up but after 5 steps there was no way, they were going a full minute faster than me.  Oh well, I'll get em next time.

Came into the finish and was happy to cross the line.  Great to see Wendy there waiting for me.  So awesome.  I finished in 1:15:49 a great PR for this distance by 7 minutes or so and was 10th out of 33 in my age group.

Amazing how I consider this such a short event.  I remember 2 years ago this was the BIG EVENT!  And it was, I won't take that away, but after doing much longer distances, this one was over about the time it got started.  I was pleased with my performance, finish and effort.

Next is a half marathon this weekend.  Going to go out and do this for fun, no real time goals, but would be nice to validate that sub-2 hour mark, you know? :-)

Thanks for your support.

Rev 3 Half Ironman Triathlon Report 7/10/2011

Rev-3 Half-Rev Triathlon
July 10, 2011
Blue Lake Park, Fairview, OR

Time:  Total--6:22:09

The Revolution 3 triathlon series is a popular series that competes with the Ironman-brand triathlons and draws top triathletes from all over the world.  This year they decided to have a Half-Rev in my own backyard in Portland.  With the new venue being at Blue Lake Park, the event was going to be flat and very, very fast.  And with my friend Scott doing it as well, I couldn’t resist throwing down my name and signing up.

Now, folks, if you recall, I have been training specifically for a marathon the past 6 months.  I haven’t been doing very much biking or swimming.  This is a half-ironman distance event (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 half marathon run).  Nothing to sneeze at, last year I did this distance and had trained for 10 weeks leading up to it.  I pulled off a perfectly executed race that time, but it was certainly the hardest physical event I had ever done taking me 6:42:19 to finish.  For this event, my plan was to go out and have fun, still execute a good race plan and keep a solid effort the entire 70.3 miles.

Race Day

Couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions.  Beautiful sunny skies, very little wind and the temp were perfect for most of the day, although it got hot in the afternoon.

Shortly after arriving at the race site, I realized I had made a bonehead mistake…I FORGOT MY LIQUID NUTRITION!!!  Ugh!  I had my gels and snicker’s bites for the bike and run, but I didn’t have my special EnduroMax protein/carb/electrolyte mix and my G2 gatorade for the run.  These are very specially selected nutrition items that I have trained with and have dialed in to give me the energy I need without turning my stomach inside out.  Without these items, I would have to make due with what the event had to offer.  Two products which I had not trained with at all—Gu gels and Gatorade Perform 02.  I don’t tolerate sugar very well which is why I use G2 and Gu gels are way too thick and they taste like crud.  Oh brother.  I had many offers in my support crew to run home and get them, but there simply wasn’t enough time and I knew I needed to ‘learn my lesson’ from this bonehead mistake.  I would have to change my race plan.

Swim  1.2 miles 36:14

What do you know, my swim time was 30 seconds faster than the last time I did this distance.  Holy cow! 

My swimming hasn’t been the best lately.  I have done a couple of open water swims at the local pond and felt like I just flailed around in the water.  No rhythm, no gliding stroke, poor breathing, etc.  But I just tried to focus on keeping it smooth as I could and draft off as many feet as I could.

Before I get to that part, I have to tell you about the start.  Since I was going to be taking it easy this time, I started way in the back.  It was a beach start and after the gun went off I leisurely entered the water with the masses.  Well, this made for some difficult swimming because of all of the arms and feet and bodies everywhere.  I had to breaststroke/doggie paddle for the first 40 yards to get to some clear water.  Mental note to not do this again.  Whether I am going for it or just taking it easy, I need to line up in the spot where I always do and that is the 2nd row.

The swim went pretty well.  I was able to bilateral breathe for most of the distance.  I took it easy and tried to focus on form.  What is silly is that on the way back, about 300 yards from the finish, there was a dock that came out into the lake and for some reason I stopped and looked up and there I saw my mom standing on the dock about 30 yards away from me.  I waved and she saw me!  It was so funny because I don’t normally just stop in the middle of the swim to look around, but I did this time and there she was.

As I approached the finish, instead of standing up when my hand touches the bottom, I started standing and walking when the water was about waist deep.  I have been having difficulty with dizziness after standing up and I read that this would help.

I ran up the beach and to the ‘bag rack.’  Well, we had to run 4/10s of a mile to the transition area so they had a bag rack where we could put on our runners for this long jaunt.  I saw Erik and Wendy and it was so cool to see their smiling faces.

I got into the transition area, got my bike and headed out.

Bike  56 miles 2:58:21 (18.8 mph)

Okay so onto the bike.  The bike portion of a long distance triathlon is where execution and nutrition really come into play.  A person must properly pace themselves on the bike so they don’t blow up during the run.  And as for nutrition, a person needs to properly hydrate and fuel for not only the bike, but also for the run because it is so hard to process stuff while running.  Remember I don’t have my special nutrition bottles with me.  In fact, the only bottle I had on my bike was the aero jug between my aero bars and I had a little bit of water in there.

I have done 2 triathlons at Blue Lake (a sprint and an Olympic).  Both times my bike splits were about 18-19 mph.  After the first 5 miles or so, I could see that my bike pace was on fire, I was at 18+ already and feeling great.  I decided to keep chugging along for the first lap and then see how I felt.

My pace for the first 28 miles was about 19 mph!  Woohoo!  Very nice.  I was feeling pretty good and decided to keep up that pace for the 2nd loop.  Except we started getting a bit of a wind coming from the west.  That’s okay because it meant I would have a tail wind on the way back after the turnaround with 12 miles to go.

Everything went well on the bike, I got to see Wendy and my mom a few times and that was great.  Wendy made me an awesome sign.  I loved it.  As I got closer to the finish I wanted to come in under 3 hours.  I kept mashing and pushing and crossed at 2:58:21.  Sweet!  Now time for the run…. Oh brother.

Run  13.1 miles 2:40:25  12:15/mi pace

Okay, just 13.1 miles to go.  I remember when I did Ironman Coeur d’Alene I was cursing outloud as I headed out on the run thinking this was so stupid, to be starting a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles.  Well, I wasn’t cursing, but I was really worried what kind of shape my body was in.

There was an aid station right outside of transition and I stopped and grabbed some Gatorade and water and chewed on a piece of banana.  As soon as the banana hit my mouth, my stomach started cramping.  Ugh.  Spit, spit, spit that banana out.  Not a good sign.  I took off running.

Remember pacing is important?  Yeah, well, I didn’t pay much attention to that because I neaded out WAAAAY too fast.  The first 2.6 miles I was at a 9:28 pace.  But I was in so much pain.  My stomach hurt, my legs hurt and I developed an awful side stitch that lasted til mile 3.  I usually don’t get those (side aches) but this was a bugger.  I tried to push through the pain. 

At mile 3 I was in trouble and knew I had to get a grip on my strategy for the remaining 10 miles if I was going to avoid the medical tent.  I stopped at the aid station and chugged some water and Gatorade and ate pretzels and also a gel.  I must have stood there for 5 minutes or so just chilling.  I made a deal with myself, that I was going to run from aid station to aid station and I could walk/stand when I got to one and take my time.

I got to mile 4 and used the bathroom.  While in the porta-loo I got dizzy and thought I was going to fall over.  Oh goodness.  The heat was taking its toll and out on Marine Drive there is no shade.  I had a hand towel with me that I doused with water and tied it around my neck.  This helped cool me down a lot and I kept it there for the remainder of the run.

I kept the pace going, keeping it nice and steady until about mile 7 and then I had to walk between aid stations.  I walked about 2 times in between, but still maintained a 12 minute pace.  After mile 9 though I was really hurting and it was very difficult to run.  I had to dig into the bag of tricks to keep my min off of the pain.  I decided to count my steps, I walked 30 right foot strikes and then ran 30 right foot strikes.  This progressed to 50 and 50.  While running, I could easily do a 9 minute pace, but I just couldn’t keep it for very long.  And if I tried running slower I still couldn’t make it much past the 50 steps.  At a aid station I found a bag of Lay's potato chips that was part of some volunteer's lunch.  Well I didn't care and scarfed down the salty goodness slices.  Mmmmmm, I felt much better.


Yay!  Finally the finish!  A cool thing about this race is that they allow family members to finish with you.  So Erik was there waiting for me and we ran through the finish chute together.  It was really cool and Erik loved it; so did I. 

Wow!  I finished a half-ironman distance triathlon beating my old time by more than 20 minutes!  Incredible.  But I was really tired and depleted after this event.  It took me about 5 days afterwards before I started feeling ‘normal’ again.  Lesson learned---DON’T FORGET YOUR NUTRITION!!!

Thanks for your support everyone!