134DTR – Neutral Service!

Neutral Service!!

Just at the start of my 90 minute tempo ride, something sliced through tire & tube. Replaced tube, bulged out until it popped too. Had to call in the family SAG wagon. Finished the day on my trainer. Looks like a trip to the bike shop this weekend.

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170DTR – Chilling (literally) in Ruislip, easy run

Friday, 1/23

Working in Uxbridge this week, and staying in Ruislip. No bike, so up early for another run. I wasn’t sure if Ruislip was going to work for a stay while working here – my first run found me in a swampy mess. And Strava was little help – you can see people’s segments but not how they go there, or if they were good segments – or along a busy highway.

Via Google Earth I found this place called Ruislip Lido about a mile and a half up the road. It’s a small reservoir just outside of town with a small beach and a couple cafes. Best of all it has a tarmac path around it that doesn’t turn into a swamp when it rains.

Weather forecast before I left Arizona said it would just get down to freezing in the London area. I can take that in my running shorts so that’s all I packed. Turns out it was about 20 this morning. Sting!

RuislipLido_IceRuislipLido_Dam

30 Weeks to Roth!

I figured I was done with Ironman for a while after Kona. After all, how do you top Kona?

With Roth! Wouldn’t have thought so, but after seeing it last year, there’s now way I could pass it up. It’s nearly as hard to get into as Kona, but I got lucky 🙂 It is an amazing race, in a beautiful area (Bavaria) with tremendous crowd support (220,000 spectators)

Roth13-Selects-043

http://www.challenge-roth.com/

Training started of pretty light. Coming down off a terrible cold and jetlag, here in chilly London area. Did 20 minutes of rehab on my right shoulder which I dislocated 3-4 weeks ago, last time I was in London. Brought an old spare tube to use as an exercise band. She’s coming along – hope to be in the pool later this month. 

Water is Life Run Race Report

The Event

The Water is Life Run is on the Hopi reservation way up in NE Arizona – 4-1/2 hour drive from Phoenix. We start at the base of First Mesa, below the 1000 year old pueblo of Walpi. The course goes through the valleys and over mesas to visit several old springs which have fed the area for centuries. From the web site http://www.waterisliferun.org/

Bucky Preston stated: “This was something that I had always wanted to do for many years. We are forgetting our Hopi values. We are forgetting to help each other’s out. I want to see that effort return to our community. Putting Hopi life values and teaching at the forefront is the purpose of the run. Why are we taught to run early in the morning? Because running not only strengthens you physically, it strengthens you spiritually. A runner would take one of the many foot trails from the village in the early morning to a spring, take a drink from the spring and sprinkle himself with the cold water. This gave that person strength and provided healing for any ailments. Everything at Hopi involves water – Water is Life. Now, water is being abused and is depleting. In some places, it is gone and I want to bring awareness to the people.”

Run

The 50k started at 6, after a pre-race welcome from Bucky Preston, originator of the event, and a prayer. Myself, I didn’t go into this as a competitive run, but to do in remembrance of my sister, who passed away this year.

50k Race Start

50k Race Start

The course has some of the most beautiful and expansive vistas of any race I’ve done, with some fun rock-scrambling thrown in here and there as you go over the mesas. It tours around the springs that fed the community for centuries.

Spring

Spring

Dry spring

Dry spring

The course seemed to be about 2/3 sand. It had flat sand, uphill sand, and baked-hard-as-a-rock sand. Most of it was fluffy soft suck-your-energy sand. I kept the pace really easy and relaxed, and walked all the hills. I wasn’t out for time on this event, just to enjoy the day.

Uphill sand!

Uphill sand!

About 15 miles of fluffy sand :-)

About 15 miles of fluffy sand 🙂

Climb up the mesa

Climb up the mesa

Res dog tending the trail

Res dog tending the trail

Some light scrambling kept it fun

Some light scrambling kept it fun

Stairs carved in the sand

Stairs carved in the sand

I got into some hydration trouble later in the event. I had brought some salt tabs but fumbled and dropped them over a cliff at one point. Had a stonking dehydration headache the last 10k or so, and couldn’t seem to get enough water in. I should have stopped and hung out at one of the aid stations to get in a bottle of water and some salt in before departing again, but I was too focused on getting to the end to think straight I guess. Lesson learned

MesaTopTrail

Running along the mesa

Running along the mesa

Running through the old pueblo of Walpi

Running through the old pueblo of Walpi

Some light scrambling kept it fun

Some light scrambling kept it fun

Deep sand!

Deep sand!

Only shade on the course

Only shade on the course

From up on top of the mesa, there were some local Hopi shouting us in. From the mesa, their voice would echo across the whole valley (below). They were shouting, “Be strong!” in Hopi. And at all the aid stations, they said, “Thank you” in Hopi. They taught me how to say it, and I returned the thanks to all the great volunteers the rest of the race.

Valley from 2nd Mesa

Valley from 2nd Mesa

Just follow the flags :-)

Just follow the flags 🙂

The last 4 miles are the toughest on this run. There are these steep foothills around the end of the mesa, and it feels straight-up or straight-down until the finish. Head pounding and out of water (again), I just hiked them out. Overall, a great day. Kyle did the 4 mile run and tied for first. His prize was a brand new garbage can, wash towel, table cloth and shower caddy!

Kyle's first prize!

Kyle’s first prize!

Salsburg Half Marathon Race Report

I had registered for the Mallorca Olympic for the first weekend in May. This was going to be my main race of the Spring, and the one I had been training for since Christmas.  But I procrastinated too much on booking the air travel, so all the points seats were taken, and costs were crazy prohibitive to buy a ticket. So, I had to let it go and find something else to do 😦

Fortunately, I found that the Salzburg half marathon was going on that same weekend. I just did the Prague half marathon a month before and blasted my old 2:03 PR with a 1:55.  I had 1:4x in my sights, but thx to some asthma issues, I had to take a break at 20km because I started to get way dizzy, which cost a few minutes.

Salzburg’s a 4-5 hour drive from Prague. I found a deal on a car  and a cheap (37 euro/night) pension. I don’t mind a basic pension for this kind of travel – they are cheap, easy, and have a lot more character than a chain hotel – like this instructive note posted in the common bathroom.

Welcome to Salzburg. Take a seat.

Welcome to Salzburg. Take a seat.

The start was in the historic center of Salzburg, where 4000 half and full marathon runners queued up. Weather was in the low 40’s (PERFECT!!). It had been cold and rainy the entire weekend until about 2 hours before race start.

Salzburg!

Salzburg!

Miles 1-2
The first km was a little congested, which was OK because I was targeting just better than 9min pace the first two miles. Within 2 km we left the cobbled streets of the center, and were in a beautiful tree lined park on a crushed gravel path. The road was narrow, a little congested, and just a bit sloppy due to the rain. But it was easy to forget about that with the view! By the tree lined path were crayola-yellow fields of rapeseed flowers. And above, the massive snow covered alps, wrapped in clouds from last night’s rain. I had a grin on my face for the whole race.
I targeted 9:00 pace for the first two miles, and came in at 8:58 and 8:53
Miles 3-10
Most of the next 8 miles were through woods and fields. This was a beautiful course, start to finish. I had one hard candy (18 calories) at 5 miles, but otherwise had no interest in food. Doesn’t seem it it hurt.
(mile# -Pace / AHR)
3-8:23 / 146
4-8:28 / 148
5-8:10 / 151
6-8:14 / 151
7-8:31 / 151
8-8:28 / 153
9-8:24 / 154
10-8:23 / 155

Miles 11-finish
I felt pretty good at this point, so I kicked it up, 1:4x may be in reach, but it would be too close to call.
The course looped back around, across the river, and finished with a final km on the cobbled streets below Salzburg castle, on the Residenzplatz. Wow!

m11 – 8:09 / 160
m12 – 7:59 / 159 go, go, go!
m13 – 8:17 / 162 ouch! I thought there were no hills on this course?!
m13.1 – (7:31 pace) / 165bpm

Official finish 1:50:35. That’s a 5 minute PR! That’s like 20+seconds per mile
This race felt like it was paced right. Going into the last 5k push, my legs were a bit fatigued, but I felt strong. At the end of mile 12 I felt awful, mile 13 hurt a lot. And when I got over the finish, I felt like there was nothing left to give.

And at the finish? Beer and strudel. I love Austria!

I did miss 1:4x by a little over half a minute. I guess that’s a PR waiting at the end of another race.

Also, on the drive home, road signs warned drivers to beware of the dead. Or my Czech is a bit off.

Beware the dead

Beware the dead

ITU Stockholm Olympic Race Report

I was stuck (once again) in UK over a weekend for work. Not wanting to sit around the corporate apartment or in a pub stuffing pie and ale in my face, I found something more amusing – ITU Stockholm Olympic Triathlon. http://stockholm.triathlon.org/site

ITU (International Triathlon Union) is the international governing body for Triathlon, and helped make it an olympic sport. They run a series of tri’s all over the world. Their format is a weekend festival, with a men’s and women’s elite races, and they’ll have a bigger amateur/age-group race, which usually includes Olympic and Sprint distances. It’s a great combination, allowing participants to take in the elite races and get inspired to go and do their own.

ITU Stockholm was the second to last event in the season for ITU. It also had over 3000 participants, making it the largest triathlon ever in Sweden. It also claims to be the toughest race on the ITU circuit.

Due to a lot of travel over the last couple months, I knew going in that my form was not going to be stellar. In fact, over the past 3 weeks, I’ve had 4 trans-Atlantic flights and all the jet lag that goes along with them. But, hell, this is all for fun, so let’s do it!

Stockholm

I had never been to Sweden before. At first, Stockholm seemed almost sterile in its cleanliness. But, everyone I met was really nice, smiled easily, so soon the place grew on me. I stayed in the “2 Kroner” guest house, a hostel 600m from the main train station. Good thing it was close, too, because I had to drag my bike in its case over the cobbled sidewalk (padump, padump, padump…).

Registration

Registration was straightforward. Though, I did get quite confused. The starting waves looked like this –

Time Wave Class/distance

08:00 A Olympic – Race license required

08:30 B Olympic, Men

08:40 C Olympic, Men

08:50 D Olympic, Men

09:50 J Olympic, Men…and so on for 9 waves of “Olympic, Men” then women and so on.

I noticed I wasn’t registered as “Olympic Men” but as a “licensed” athlete. This being my first ITU, I was concerned that somehow I’d gotten registered as elite or some other classification. At registration, they asked for my race license. I explained as best I could that I am not in any elite class, do not have a “race license,” I am just a registered member of USAT (which you need to do for insurance purposes at most US tri’s with an open water swim).

They took my USAT number and said, “Ya, all good. Ya.”

I said, “I am just an age-grouper, yeah?”

They looked my paperwork over again. “Ya, all good, ya.”

I said, “I am just a regular guy, not fast or elite.” They nodded and smiled. “Ya. Try hard to win!”

Well, that was that. Later I was to find that “race license” supposedly only means you are in a tri club of some kind. The “non-licensed” racers were “recreational” athletes. Judging by my position among the “licensed” athletes in my AG, I’m guessing European licensed athletes are a pretty serious group!

ITU Elite Women

After registration, I stuck around to watch the women’s elite. This was a top-end field including London Olympians. Their swim and bike course were a little different from the age-groupers. Swim started just of the city center, then the bike was an intense 9 loop criterion up and down hills and over cobbles, all in the center. The run course also went around the center, and was almost the exact same course as the age-groupers would take.

Involvement of the elite races, with all the media coverage, really elevated the level of the event. Plus, how could you watch elite’s like this crush it on the course and not be excited to get out there the next day, and do the same on that very course?!!!

ITU Elite Women

ITU Elite Women

Check In

Morning check-in was limited to a quick check of brakes and helmet strap as we entered Transition Area (TA). It was my first view of the TA, and it was a bit stunning. TA was setup next to the Stockholm city hall, a big imposing brick structure. TA stretched along the waterfront for a full 500m (1/3 mile).

Start waves went on from 8am until 12:40, so the only time requirement was a suggestion that you show up 90 minutes before your wave starts. At 6:30, TA was vacant except for us “licensed” athletes. There was some confusion because the racks were numbered, but not in order. So, everyone just picked a spot regardless of the numbering scheme.  Other than that, organization was pretty good. 

After a light warm-up running up and down TA, I got my wetsuit on and went for a little paddle in the water to warm up for the swim. The pre-race briefing was limited to one of the officials standing on a bench, shouting about the swim course. “Start by the yellow buoy, swim past two orange, turn right at the red and come back. OK? Any questions?”

ITU Stockholm Course

ITU Stockholm Course

Swim

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/365414066

Perhaps it’s my typical American ignorance of geography, but I expected the water to be salty. But, we were far enough inland from the Baltic sea that it was fresh water. Well, maybe not “fresh,” but not salt water. It was 19c, which was a nice improvement over the 14.7 the women’s elite had to swim in the day before.

My swim was not great, but not terrible either. Due to all the travel for work and vacation, I’ve hardly been in the water at all this summer. So, 35 minutes is fine! And no Jellyfish like in Aarhus, so bonus!

T1: 5:34?!

That T time was as long as for an Ironman! J

From swim exit to bike out was a distance of over 1/3 mile running in bike shoes, plus wetsuit extraction. I really need to learn to mount/dismount leaving shoes clipped in.

Bike

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/365414083

The bike was a 3 loop course along the waterfront and through the center of Stockholm. It had some nice technical sections and was beautiful throughout. A lot of times when a race is hosted in the center of a city, there will be some part of the course (especially the bike) where they will send you out in some no-mans-land to make up a few miles. But this course was all urban, all beautiful, and all interesting. It started with a climb up a pretty high bridge (~100 feet elevation) then decent to a set of tricky turns to a straight shot up the other side of the channel. Then some more tricky turns, ins and outs, ups and downs, then through the center, turn around and go back.

In one of the more technical sections, I was going through a tough pair of corners in a “z,” I heard a frightened shout behind me. Some guy shot up on the inside of the turn from me, just missing my front wheel. And behind I heard the sickening smack of meat and carbon fiber on asphalt. I turned and saw two guys tangled up laying on the ground. Fortunately, they were at the feet of two race officials. So, while they were probably torn up a bit, help was right there.

Overall, it felt like HR was a bit high for the effort I was putting in, so I relaxed a bit (maybe too much) to save a bit for the run. Had some stomach –ick in the morning before the start, so thought I might be at risk for low glyco later on.

Run

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/365414099

The run went up across the bridge back into the old-town, then did three loops around the center. It was a really great course, complete with cobbles and one really savage hill that we had to cover 4 times, including the final finishing leg. Spectators lined nearly the whole course – it was enough to make you feel like one of the elites!

I started to get a bit low-glycogen in the run. I noticed that my RPE was a full zone higher than what my HR was showing. I chomped on a couple hard candies to get me through, and just pushed. First 4 miles paced OK, but mile 5 I started to feel a bit crap. After I saw my pace drop by a minute, I picked backup and pushed hard to the finish. The organizers must have gotten a good chuckle out of putting the finish at the top of that hill 🙂

ITU Stockholm Finish

ITU Stockholm Finish

Conclusion

  • GREAT DAY!
  • Not a great race result, but for where I was in training, and for being a recreational triathlete in a “licensed” class, that’s OK 🙂
  • Stockholm is a great city. I will definitely be back!
  • This ITU event  was a blast. If they do another one in San Diego in 2014, I’m definitely going to see if I can get the family up there.
  • Olympic distance takes some time to master. This was only my second one, and I can see that there’s lots to learn still. It seems to be a real balancing act between going all-out and just sucking up the pain (like in a sprint) and having some pacing finesse (like long course).

POST SCRIPT:

So, I reviewed my performance with my coach. Though it was a great day and I wouldn’t trade it for anything (except maybe the same day with a faster time 🙂 I was wondering why my times were so slow. He looked at my HR data and said it was quite interesting – and postulated that I was just really fatigued from stress and travel. At first, I thought, “Nah, I didn’t feel stressed and fatigued! Must have been something else.” Then I did the math. In the 3 weeks leading up to this event, I have traveled over 26,500 miles and lived/stayed in 6 countries. Hmm. Maybe he’s got a point 🙂 Will plan for a more relaxed schedule next time I want a really strong showing!

Ride in Mallorca

After a great Olympic tri yesterday, decided against prudent advice and skip recovery to enjoy a nice long ride through the countryside. Ended up totally wiped out but it was worth it! Pics below. 20130505_113632 20130505_114953 20130505_115305 20130505_115634 20130505_120339 20130505_123347 20130505_124215 20130505_132333 20130505_132508 20130505_133701 20130505_133730 20130505_133901 20130505_144408 20130505_173051