Sunday, March 18, 2012

2012 Shamrock 15K Race

Shamrock 15K Run
March 18, 2012
Portland, Oregon

Time:  1:27:21  (9:23 pace)

Big running event in Portland.  This year it boasted 32,500 entries.  OMG.  And about 7,000 in the 15K event alone.  Very cold weather race morning and threatening rain.  It becomes tiresome running and cycling in the rain.  But I heard from my sister in San Diego and her triathlon was cancelled due to high winds and a small craft advisory.  Ooooh goodness.

Got warmed up and then lined up.  The race start was delayed due to a late Amtrak train that would be crossing the course.  That was considerate because it is rather frustrating to have to wait for a train with the clock still running.

Race started and I tried to keep it pretty easy and relaxed the first few miles until we got to the big hill.  I kept about a 9:00 minute pace although it felt more labored than I’d like.  But I have been taking some time off from training so I wasn’t as fresh as I should have been. 

Lots and lots of people in this event.  People dressed up in various costumes and stuff.  The 15K has more serious runners so not so many crazies as the 8K and 5K.  I was wearing my CDA finisher hat and IMCDA shirt.  I got lots of “way to go’s” from others on the course.  I did get one guy who asked some silly questions.  This was towards the end of the race and I was hurting pretty badly so I wasn’t as chipper as I could have been.  He asked if I had done an Ironman.  I said, “yes, CDA.”  He then asked, “the whole thing?”  Duh.  I said, “well you don’t wear the shirt unless you did the whole thing!”  Do people really do that?  Wear a gaudy Ironman shirt and they didn’t really do it? 

Speaking of shirts, I am not sure what it is about the Portland Triathlon Club but they continue to be some of the least cheerful participants I have met.  In many events I have given them cheers or “way to go’s” and only to get no reaction from them.  Here I am wearing my IMCDA shirt and hat and saw several of them pass right next to me in their Portland Tri Club shirts and nothing…. No words, no looks, nothing.  Other teams are always vocal or give you some kind of gesture.  But nothing. 

At about mile 2.5 we started the long climb to the top of Terwilliger.  Oh baby.  This is what did me in last year.  I didn’t realize how long it was and it just kept going and going.  It was a ball buster.  This year I knew what to expect and just kept my head down and kept plugging along.  My pace dropped to 10:30, but there were several stretches that I was under 10 minutes per mile.  I got super hot and had to take off my hat.  Luckily I carried my hand towel and could wipe the sweat off my head. 

It then started raining and I was pretty wet to begin with.  Oh well, you can get only so wet.  Finally I reached the top of the hill and we started our descent.  I was expecting to kick it up a notch on the way down, but I was really spent.  My hips, legs and knees were taking a beating and I could only must about a 9:00 minute pace on the way down.  I was getting passed left and right.  I sucked down a gel hoping that would give me a boost, but it didn’t.  I just had to slug it out.

With 2.5 miles to go, I had to go into mind-disassociation techniques.  Taking my mind off the pain by thinking about other things.  I tried to follow other runners or think about races from the past or races in the future. 

Finally made it to the finish line and rolled on in.  Glad it was over.  Very congested finish area, racers were backed up just after the finish trying to get their timing chips off and collect their medals.  Saw Wendy in the crowd.  Always great to see her at the finish.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

20-week Out Season Ironman Training Wrap-up

Ironman Training Update
March 4, 2012

End of 20 week Out Season Ironman Training Plan

Whew!  This adventure ride officially started way back on October 17, 2011.  That was right after returning from the Big Island of Hawaii and experiencing the Ironman World Championships.  A memorable experience that I will never forget. 

Training for an Ironman is a long road.  People must be dedicated to the training and make time for it.  Especially when trying to train over the winter.  The darkness, the cold weather, the rain, the snow, the wind can all prove challenging to getting your butt out there just to suffer.

During Ironman CDA 2010, I identified that my weakest discipline of the three was the bike.  Even though my marathon time was well over 6 hours, it was my poor bike fitness that contributed to the poor run.  I needed to focus on the bike.  So that became my #1 priority. 

Ironman Training Day 1 Bike Test Video

Run Test #1 Video

As my training started I was scheduled to be on the road travelling for work.  So for the first time, I brought my bike along.  I got to enjoy some great training rides along the Oregon Coast and even rode my bike all the way to the California Border (well, from Brookings, anyway).  Taking my bike to Seattle for Fish Expo week sounded like a good idea, but Seattle is not a great place to bike train.  Too many stops, pot holes, weird routes and such.  I spent most of my time, just figuring out where to go.  And then I got a flat tire while crossing the Ballard Bridge.  That pretty much did it for me and didn’t ride anymore in Seattle.

I set up the bike trainer in my bedroom so I could train indoors and watch TV.  This should be pretty good.  I despise the bike trainer.  Don’t know what it is about it, but I find it too boring and it is pretty noisy for the apartments.  So in December I joined LA Fitness so I could get in on their spin classes.

I enjoyed the spin classes.  They were high energy and I like working out with other people.  I seem to feed off of their energy.  When I see someone else pushing it and giving a lot of effort, I want to do the same.  I liked the puddles of sweat that would pour off of me and seeing the mirrors steam up during the sessions.

Week 4 Update--First Swim Workout

December Bike Test #2 Video

January Bike Test #3 Video

During the out season my coaches don’t recommend we spend any time in the pool.  The return on investment is very little when it comes to spending countless hours in the pool just to improve your Ironman swim time by a couple of minutes.  That’s why they focus so much on the bike and run.  But, I did have an opportunity to take an Adult Swim Clinic at Lacamas Heath Club that was taught by triathlon coach Denise.  OMG!  She basically re-taught us how to swim.  First, we swam only on our backs to get our head position right and to kick properly using fins.  Then we rotated to our sides and then with our heads down, then strokes.  Drill after drill after drill, building upon what we had just learned.  It was amazing.

January Swim Lessons Video

After about 7 weeks we got to have a swim meet with the Masters swimming class.  This was so much fun.  I had never done a swim meet before.  This was the real deal with timing boards, announcer, big reader board and everything.  We were entered in the 50 meter freestyle and the 50 meter back stroke.  I was in Heat 1 against two other swimmers.  I had never done a swim platform start, so I chose to start from the side.  I took off and swam as hard as I could finishing second in 35 seconds.

Then came time for the backstroke.  I had never done a swim start for the backstroke.  I lined up with my feet on the wall and my hands on the bottom of the swim platform.  I pictured in my mind what I had seen during the Olympics.  Swimmers would lurch backwards with their arms straight out over their heads, back arched and dolphin kick while underwater until surfacing and then doing the backstroke.  That wasn’t what happened.  I lurched backwards with my arms over my head, but I arched my back too far and ended up doing a somersault underwater!  I came up staring at the swim platform and everyone else 15 meters down the pool!  I laughed and then proceeded to do my back stroke.  Crazy times.  I finished, but placed 5th out of 6.

Our class was technically done, but I asked if I could race the 100 meter freestyle with the Masters.  The coach got me into the first heat.  This time I was going to do the start on top of the swim platform.  I would be racing against 5 other swimmers.  I was ready, I was going to rock it!  The horn sounded and I dove in.  My goggles slid down my face a bit, I could still see and they weren’t leaking, but it was a bit uncomfortable, but I didn’t let it bother me.  Glide-stroke-glide-stroke-glide-stroke.  I was on a tear.  I tried to focus on smooth strokes and proper form.  I hit the 50 meter mark and it looked like I was in the lead, but I was only half way.  I started getting tired just before hitting the wall at 75 meters.  I remember taking an extra gasp for air at the wall, but then got my head down and kept going.  I was going to go for broke and leave nothing behind.  I was really tired and could feel my form starting to slip.  I just visualized good form and powerful strokes, soon it would be over and I could rest.  I dug hard the last several strokes, skipping my breathing stroke and powered to the wall.  FIRST PLACE!!!  My time was an impressive 1’11”.  As I got out of the pool, still dizzy from the effort, the Masters swim coach came running over from the other side of the pool and gave me a high five, “dude! That was killer!  I thought you were wearing fins!”  That was pretty cool!

For one of my long runs on Sunday, I did it as part of a running event.  I was slated to run for 90 minutes with 2x1 mile at 8:12 threshold pace and 2xhalf-mile at 8:12 pace and the remaining time at about 8:45 pace.  I decided to enter the Heartbreaker 10K, but that would only last about 55 minutes.  Just so happened they had a 5K that started 30 minutes prior so I did that event first, finishing in about 29 minutes, then I lined up for the 10K.  Wouldn’t you know it, I finished that event just one minute from my personal best!  Pretty amazing if you ask me.

I did my final bike test during the Jack Frost Time Trial.  A 12 mile all out effort at Vancouver Lake.  Just so happens that that is where I do all of my bike tests.  It was a cold and wet day, but I finished and improved my lactate threshold heart rate from 138 in October to 144 in February. 

The final running event I chose to do during the Ft. Vancouver 10K.  I hadn’t been feeling too well leading up to the race.  I think I was coming down with a cold or something nasty.  As of Saturday afternoon I was resolved to walking the 6K, but after a good night’s rest I decided to stick to the 10K and give a good performance. 

I kept things pretty steady and was always pushing throughout the run.  The first 5K was a 26:30.  I had to walk up the land bridge just a bit, but quickly got back to running when I reached the top.  Towards the end I poured it on strong and hustled in to finish in 54:16.  Not a PR, but still very respectable.

This is the first time I have completed an out season training plan.  The training has been intense at times.  Each session the coaches have us pushing ourselves in our various training zones.  Then every 4 weeks we doing a fitness test to measure improvements, but the downside is that it then boosts your training zones for the next sessions.  I did not shirk my tests and even when I didn’t want to, I tried very hard to keep with the training zones.  During the 2010 training season I didn’t do that.

My nutrition has been taking a hit though and that is something I really need to dial in during the 12 week build up.  I have eaten way too many Kit Kats and drank too much Pepsi and Coke.  I have also reacquainted myself with the McDonald’s drive thru opting for the Egg McMuffin and Hashbrown in the morning and the McChicken meal at other times of the day.  Plus Taco Bell seems to be a favorite.  I have to remember that food is fuel and I must do a better job of fueling my body with the good stuff. 

At the end of this training plan I purchased a Kestrel TT aero bike that I hope will improve my bike performance.  I am anxious to get out on the road with it, but first I am going to invest some money into a professional bike fit so I can utilize optimum body position for optimum power and aerodynamics.

Jack Frost Time Trial February 26, 2012

Jack Frost Time Trial
February 26, 2012
Vancouver, Washington

Time:  0:37:08 for 12 miles (19.5 mph avg)

Woke up to a cold and rainy day and seriously thought about blowing off the bike race, but this was the start of the last week of the Out Season Ironman training plan and I knew I needed to complete a bike test this week.  After checking the forecast, it looked like it was going to quit raining later in the morning and I needed a good excuse to get my butt out the door. 

Arrived at Vancouver Lake Park and signed up.  Chose to enter the Cat 5 class and got a start time of 11:43.  That was about 3 hours away so I called Wendy and we ended up going to the 9am church service, all decked out in my bicycle gear and everything.

Back at the venue I pinned my number onto my jacket, installed the rain fenders and lubed my chain.  Brrrr, it was cold.  The rain had stopped but there was water puddled on the road.  I started warming up, spinning easily at first and then building the cadence and resistance to open my legs up.  I was wearing a balaclava hat that also covered my face.  When I stopped to adjust something on my bike, my glasses fogged up.  I couldn’t wear this thing during the event so I hustled back to the truck and put on a different hat.

I had about 3 minutes left so I quickly got over to the starting line as I heard them calling out my name.  “Here,” I answered.  The stager got me lined up in the proper order.  A rider was leaving every 30 seconds and there were about 3 guys in front of me.

As I approached the starter the gals at the scoring table advised me that my number was pinned upside down to my coat.  “Are ya kidding me?”  I have been riding around for 20 minutes and no one noticed or mentioned it to me until now?

“5-4-3-2-1-GO!”  The starter game me the countdown and I took off.  I started my GPS on my wrist and also the MapMyFitness app on my iPhone that I had in a new waterproof case and cradle mounted to one of the aero bars. 

My goal was to give an all out effort for the distance, but also go the full 40 minutes.  I knew I would complete the 12 mile course in under 40 minutes, so I would have to continue pushing it for a few minutes after the finish.  My strategy was to negative split the 20 minute segments.

I focused on smooth pedal strokes and keeping the power on.  I was surprised to see my heart rate up in the upper 140’s.  Although it was hard, I didn’t feel like I was ‘dying.’  For my gearing I tried to keep it in the big ring on the crank, but I could feel my legs getting pretty tired.  So I dropped it back down to the middle ring to keep a higher cadence and it seemed easier although I was maintaining the same speed.

Speaking of speed, my big goal is to do one of these and average over 20 mph.  That seems to elude me every time. 

Oh my goodness, what’s this?  I am gaining on the rider in front of me.  Holy smokes!  The last time I did this event I passed only one rider and it was an old man who was making his way to his favorite fishing hole and had nothing to do with the event!  This rider was a female that started a few minutes ahead of me.  Whoosh!  Nice.  Oh, there’s another one!  Whoosh!  Sweet.  All in all I passed 4 or 5 riders during the event.  Of course, I was passed numerous times.

I hit the turnaround and my GPS read 6.8 miles.  Groovy.  Back to town we go.  The wind wasn’t much, but there was lots of water.  I tried to stay out of the puddles since I could feel them slow me down.  My feet were covered with road grime.  Luckily I was wearing my boot covers and my feet were dry.  The bottoms of my legs were covered in gunk and the shoulders of my jacket were covered in snot from drippy snot-rockets that missed their mark to the side of the road.

Since this was the return trip I tried to keep the pressure on.  Get that negative split.  But I was getting pretty tired and was lacking some motivation.  I just felt flat.  No fire in the gut.  ‘What is my issue?’  I need a boost.  Not sure where to get it.

Here came the finish and I powered across the line, shouting out my race number to the timers since it was pinned upside down.  I had about 3 minutes left to go the full 40 minutes so I kept pushing it a bit and then hit my timer at 40 minutes.  I did not negative split the event like I wanted but managed to average 19.7 the first 20 minutes and 19.3 the last 20 minutes.  But even better was my lactate threshold heart rate increased to 144, a sign of improved fitness. 

Ft. Vancouver 10K Run 3/4/2012

Ft. Vancouver 10K Run

Vancouver, WA

March 4, 2012

Time:  54:16 (8:37 pace)

Energy Events always put on top notch events and I aim to enter every one that I can.  These are the same folks who host the Vancouver USA Marathon in June.  This event was held near Ft. Vancouver Historic Site and offers a beautiful course.  I chose to compete in the 10K race.  Other choices were a 15K and 6K.

This was also the end of my 20 week Out Season Ironman training plan.  This is a rigorous 20 week session that builds an athletes speed and functional threshold heart rate in the bike and the run.  I have seen amazing gains since October and I am in far better shape now than I was 2 years ago when I first did IMCDA. 

I have been feeling a bit under the weather lately; I think I was getting a cold or something.  I just didn’t feel right and as of Saturday afternoon I was planning to just walk the 6K.  But when I awoke on race morning, other than feeling a bit tired, I felt pretty good and looked forward to a fun event.

Got warmed up just a bit by running around the Fred Meyer parking lot.  Then lined up at the start.  A pretty good turnout of about 500 runners.  The 15K had already started 30 minutes prior.  The race started and off we went.  I tried to keep a comfortable pace, but also keep pushing it as much as I could.

First mile was about an 8:37 and the second was 8:16. 

I love this route as it takes us down to the Columbia River and along the water.  Then it crosses the Land Bridge into the Ft. Vancouver Historic Site.  I had to walk a bit up the bridge over Highway 14, but got back to running as soon as I reached the top.

I started checking my time.  For the first 5K my time was about 26:30, if I even split this then I would finish about 53 minutes and set a new PR.  I was getting tired, so it was hard to do the math in my head, so I decided to just leave it all out there on the course.  This race would summarize all the hard work I have done the past 20 weeks.  My pace quickened to less than 8 minutes/mile.  My heartrate went from 154 to 159!  It hasn’t been that high in a long time.  I was determined to finish with a good time.

About a half mile from the finish, my mouth was dry and my tongue was swollen and I honestly felt like I was going to vomit.  But I didn’t care.  If I hurled, then I would hurl like a true champion.  Luckily I kept the gurgles at bay and dug deep as I crossed the finish line.  54:16.  A respectable time but almost a minute from my PR.  It was super great to see Wendy at the finish.  She walked with me as I cooled down.  Whew!  What a race.