Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2007 Early Races

I did a couple of events this year leading up to Lake Placid. Naturally, I have no pictures from the NJ Devilman Half, the only distance race I've done more than once. So, you'll just have to take my word for it that I showed up again.

Devilman was a windy one this year. In '06 I PRed at the distance. This year... I did not. Although I had my fastest run ever. So that's something (a faster run, in fact).

I also joined in a half ironman relay with Phil (Hannah's dad) and Dan, a guy I know from work. I swam (quelle surprise).

Apparently late May in Harriman State Park in NY is really freaking miserable. I wore my full wetsuit (as opposed to the sleeveless) for the first time ever. I believe I had the warmest leg of the race.

Relays were in the second wave, along with most of the women and older men. I was one of the few people charging from the start horn, along with one other guy who I overheard telling someone else that he was in a relay. So, my plan was to hang with this guy.

That lasted about 200m. I'm a fairly fast swimmer (in the age group triathlon world), but this guy was unreal. It was taking everything I had to hang on his feet, so I downshifted to a more reasonable effort and swam solo the rest of the way. No drafting for Nick.

At some point during the swim, it started to rain, but I didn't notice until I came out of the water (2nd in the wave, 6th overall, there's something!). I ran to transition and handed off the timing chip to Dan (our cyclist), who was wearing every piece of clothing he owned. I then went to the bathroom to change and lose my breakfast and then had a long sit in the car, broken up by short trips to the bike course to cheer Dan on (it was a four loop course). I think about half the field dropped out on the bike, many of whom assumed that they would be okay in a tri singlet in sub-50 degree temperatures with rain and wind. Ahhh triathletes, we're a vain, stupid bunch.

Dan didn't drop out, what with some intelligence and clothes and all.

After the bike, Dan and Phil exchanged the chip and Phil was off. Hannah and I sat in the car again. Dan changed and tried to get warm in his own car.

It actually stopped raining for the run portion and Phil came back shirtless. At first I thought it was a result of the madness you hear climbers getting when they get lost on Everest. You know, when they go hypothermic and actually think they're overheating, so they take off all their clothes and end up freezing to death. I'm serious, I didn't make that up.

In any event, Phil was actually just hot.

We had a good race overall and finished fourth. First place had the fastest time of the day (uber swimmer was on that team) and beat us by over an hour.

It was nice to only have to bring a speedo, wetsuit and goggles to a race, instead of all the gear you need for a full event. However, the key lesson I learned is that while small long distance triathlons are fun to do, they are boooooring to watch. I think I'll throw Hannah a bone and only do short distance races next year (see I do care).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

These people looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined

That's the second time I've used that quote, the first is from IMWI in 2005. So what does that mean? It means I have a race number for Ironman Lake Placid: 279. There are 130 guys in my age group. I will be racing none of them (until the last few miles if there are any still around).

Monday, July 09, 2007

2006 Races - Musselman Half

I raced two long races in 2006 – both half ironmans (ironmen?). My plan was to take two years to build up to another IM in 2007.

Naturally, I can only find pictures from what was supposed to be my “A” race for the year, not the first one (at which I performed much better) -- Musselman in Geneva, NY. Thank RDM for taking these.

Since the IMWI posts were so long, I’ll keep this brief. Hannah and my brother came up to watch. Basically, I was having a really good race, right up until about mile 40 on the bike. I was actually passing people on the bike AND not too many folks were passing me. It looked like I might do really well (relative to past performance).

In fact, I remember thinking that exact thing right before I crashed. The crash was pretty bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I was banged up but nothing was broken. My bike was banged up but nothing was broken. I thought my race was over and while waiting for the neutral race support van to come by, I figured I’d have a go at trying to get my bike working again. After about 20 minutes, everything was somewhat functional, the van hadn’t come by yet and I was only 16 miles from the bike finish, so I rode in.

Coming into transition, it occurred to me that I was pretty lucky that I hadn’t broken anything and I had done a decent amount of work to get fit for the race, so why not go out for the run and see what happens.

I came across RDM and Hannah a mile or so outside of transition. Here I am pointing out my various bloody parts.

And here's me applauding for some reason. Yay!

RDM likes to take pictures of old people on benches. I don't know why.
Old people.

Old people.

Ahhh! Runner!

Old people.

I ended the day with an okay run, some road rash, some cuts and a nasty hematoma on my inner left leg that made walking a real pain for about a month. On the plus side, I got to treat myself to a sharp looking new helmet. If you're in the mood for grossness, here's a picture of the hematoma two days after the race.

IMWI '05 part 2

Two years later, all I really remember about the bike ride was that it was hot, I was really glad I had put extra sunscreen and chamois crème in my special needs bag for the halfway point, it was hot, I hated my bike, I hated Wisconsin, wondering how I was going to run 26.2 miles, it was hot, and being really, really glad to get off the bike, marathon or not.

I had a nice sit (a la Tupper Lake ’04) in transition. Lots of naked and nearly naked dudes in there, so no framed picture this time.

Now here’s the big reveal about the “fast” training guys. Some of them genuinely are fast – they put in the work in practice, and rock up on game day. A lot of the other “fast” guys do the big training, kicking ass all year long, and totally blow on race day. I think it’s because those pseudo-fast guys can't handle letting the real fast guys ride away from them.

I have an ego, I’m not blind to that. When it comes to sports though, I’d like to think I keep it in check. I think it has something to do with routinely getting beaten by girls daily when I was an age group swimmer.

I have two talents in triathlon (interestingly enough, both derived from my swimming days):
1) I’m a faster swimmer than 90% of the field
2) I can go slow for a long time.

In Tupper Lake the year before, I was continuously passed throughout the entire day after the swim. In Wisconsin, I actually got to do some passing.

Another cool thing about Ironman – it’s a mass start, so if you’re in front of someone when you cross the line, you beat them. So I got to pass about 400 people that went too hard on the bike. Granted, some of those folks had honest problems with the heat that they couldn’t have prepared for, but not most of them.

See, I'm starting to pass people here.

The dude on the right is realizing I'm passing him, and is likely thinking to himself, "man, I wish I had rode a little slower, then I wouldn't be getting passed by this guy." (That, or he has an artificial knee or something.)

I didn’t have a fast marathon. At just under 5:10, that’s almost 12-minute miles. You’d be right to figure I didn’t even run the whole thing. And the bits I was running in the last half were more of a shuffle.

My personal belief is anyone can complete an Ironman with a moderate amount of training. You just have to know your fitness and race to it. (And be prepared to run past guys with weird pirate banners. Seriously, I think he was a course marshall -- that would be the "no parrots allowed on course" flag.)

Overall, it was a great experience. I don’t remember much about the finish, except I was not hungry at all for about 30 minutes, then I was very hungry. It also was somewhat anticlimactic; I didn’t realized I had moved back up through the field so much on the run, so I wasn’t really pumped at the finish.

I think I might have said I never want to do another one too, I’m not sure.

Retrospective - Ironman Wisconsin '05 (Part 1)

I decided to sign up for Ironman Wisconsin after talking to my friend Mark (from my Nereid rowing days). He had moved out a few weeks before the 2004 race and we ended up goading each other into signing up (“I’ll do it if you do!”). That’s what I tell people anyhow. In retrospect, I think I was looking for an excuse to sign up. I think Mark was just looking for something to kill some time (it is Wisconsin after all).

So, I spent the year “training.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned about ultra-endurance sports, it’s that there’s always somebody else doing a heck of a lot more than you (actually, that’s probably true for pretty much all sports).

For example, my biggest week was 10.5 hours of total training, about five or six weeks out from race day. Most weeks were about six to seven hours. There are a lot of folks that complete my average monthly totals in a week. Those are the people that are commonly referred to as “fast.” Unfortunately for a large group of the “fast” people, that much training doesn’t always equal a decent performance on race day (oooh, foreshadowing).

So, off I went to Wisconsin with my 15.5 average-monthly-hour fitness in the bank, knowing that I hadn’t done anywhere near as much training as I could have done, but knowing that I had done the training that I did do (oooh, philosophical).

I flew out a few days before the race. My parents flew out. Hannah flew out (from San Diego I think). I hung out with my friend Mark. Had a good time. Got exceptionally anxious. And it was time for the race.

Everything about the Ironman is big. You pay a lot of money and you get treated like you paid a lot of money. So that’s pretty cool. The transition area is in the Monona Terrace, quite possibly one of the coolest looking hotels I’ve seen in a city. Here’s the bike corral the day before the race (you drop off your bike a day in advance). Lots of very, very expensive bikes here (and at least one not-so-expensive, but very well-liked bike). Mark and I estimated at least $5 million of equipment. They had it gated. And I assume there was a security guard somewhere.

The swim is the crazy mass start that you’ve seen on TV. I don’t remember much about it, except that you go straight for a while, turn left, turn left, go straight, turn left, turn left and then do it all again. The swim is in the lake parallel to the Terrace, and the hotel is so big that you swim next to it for at least 2.4 miles. It’s a little demoralizing because it feels like you’re not going anywhere.

After that, it was off to transition and the long, slow, hot bike ride (I remember it being 137 degrees that day). A unique (to me) demoralizing factor of my previous swimming background is that more or less the entire field passes me on the bike leg at races. So, I finished 108 in the swim, and then 1113 on the bike. That’s a lot of those “fast” people coming past me (and some not-so-fast -- but definitely faster than me -- people). Actually, it wasn’t so bad. At Tupper Lake the previous year, I was second out of the water in the first wave and had experienced the train of passers, so I was expecting the parade to come by.

It may appear that I'm faster than all of these other folks (I'm the one in front in yellow). However, if a picture was taken 10 seconds later, they'd all be a mile up the road, while I would only be reaching the post with the yellow banner.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Retrospective

So, with Ironman Lake Placid coming up, I thought I'd do a series of photo retrospectives from some of my "racing" highlights. Actually, I was going through the old iPhoto and figured I'd throw up some of the races that I have digital pictures from. Fine way to start this thing off.

My first half iron - Tupper Lake Tinman '04. Pretty sloooowww. But I finished. For some reason, the only shots of me are of the run. Which is odd, because Hannah took one of my favorite race pictures of me in T1 having a nice sit. Ah well, you don't get to see that. You'll have to come over and visit. It's framed (seriously).

This is me starting the run. Note, there are other competitors nearby. Also note, I never saw these two dudes again for the rest of the race.

And here's the "run" finish. There was a fair bit of walking in there, even as recent as 1000yds previous. But you can always muster something for the end, right?

And here's me looking in the direction of my watch after the race is over. However, I'm not actually reading the time on my watch. If you asked me at that instant what my race time was, I wouldn't be able to tell you. One of my quirks is the compulsion to stare at my watch for the 30 minutes or so after a race. I think its a reflex after checking it (what seems like) every minute on the race course. I've taken to removing my watch in the minutes immediately following a long race. I tell people that ask that my wrist is hot.