Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thats a Wrap!

Here I go again, slacking on the blog.  I just finished my 15th marathon (SOJO) yesterday and my legs are too sore to carry me off to some other excuse not to blog that I figured I should give an update on the last few months.  I've had a really fun year racing.  Not a ton of events, but I've stuck to the longer distances which I enjoy.  Over the past few years I've decided I really hate spending money (don't ask me how I got into triathlon)!  Don't know if it's the fact that I've watched my 401k steadily do a nose dive in this economy or the fact that I'm just a cheapskate.  I'd guess it's probably somewhere in between.  The fact of the matter is triathlon is not cheap!  So instead of shelling out $80 for a sprint distance event that will be over in around an hour I've decided to pay a little bit more upfront for a few more hours on the race course.  I'll be back to the shorter races again sometime soon, even if I have to cash out that 401k...maybe I'll get at least one event in with what's left of it at this point.  That being said, I have three really fun events to report on...The Utah Half (70.3ish), Stansbury Olympic, and SOJO marathon. 

The Utah Half
One of my favorites...probably because it's the closest long distance triathlon to our house.  Nothing like sleeping in your own bed and eating your own food before tackling a monster race.  I went into the race riding the wave of fitness from IMSG and Boise, so I felt like I'd have a pretty good race.  The course is about as flat as can be, so I knew it would be fast.  Before the race I felt pretty calm.  The pre-race nervousness is starting to ease a bit as I continue to get more experience.  Said goodbye to Michelle and Charley (our dog), wished some buddies (Rory, Andy, Spencer, and Cindy) good luck and then we were off. 
Charley getting his swim on

My swim has improved a lot this year, but I'm still have a long ways to go with it.  I try to push myself as much as possible and hope for the best.  My time was decent (31:29), but I think it was a few hundred yards short of the full 1.2 miles.  I felt good coming out of the water and zipped through T1 in 50 seconds.  My goal on the bike was to beat my time from last year (2:32).  I had a new bike and my fitness was much better, so I figured I could beat the time by a few minutes.  I pushed hard and felt great.  I've stopped wearing a watch during races so I can just go by feel, so I had no idea what my bike time was at the time.  Come to find out I crushed last years time with a 2:13:17 split.  I know I've improved, but realistically not that much.  The course was obviously a bit short, but I was still really pleased with my time.  As I hit T2 my body felt great and I was looking forward to a great run.  I've struggled mightily with the run at this race the past 2 years, so I was hoping to exercise some demons.  I've begun wearing compression socks for the longer races, and this really slowed me down in T2.  I just couldn't manage to get the socks on quickly.  I cruised out in 1:23 and hit the run head on, I had no idea what a beast this would turn into.
Utah Lake Swim.  Nice and calm

By the time we hit the run it had really heated up.  My body felt great, but I just didn't have it in me to really push it.  I really had to dig deep into my mental reserves on this run just to not stop and walk.  I battled those demons after only three miles, and it was tough to hang on.  I look back at the long days training for IMSG as building confidence and the ability to push through the tough times.  It's really inspiring to know what power the mind has over the body and how hard you can push if you dig deep.  I ended up having a decent run 1:34:04, and finished the total race in 4:21:00.  To say I was shocked by that time is a major understatement, but of course the race was not the full 70.3.  Regardless, I was really please with the overall finish.  I ended up finishing 8th overall and rolled up to 1st in my age group...I was actually 2nd to Spencer, but since he won the race outright I rolled up to 1st.
You can't see it but I'm holding a glass plaque.
All in all it was a great race and a really fun day.  Congrats to Rory, Andy, Spencer, Cindy, and all others who tackled this beast.  Also, a big thanks to Michelle and Charley for providing support...I needed it.  Another big thanks to the Duckworth's for the "special" attention I got in the aid stations.  My favorite part was the cups of  water to the was AWESOME!

Stansbury Olympic
My last triathlon of the year, and for Michelle it would be her one and only.  What?  Really, for someone as talented as Michelle to only do one triathlon this year?  Man she's taking this "being cheap" thing to a whole new level.  Of course, she's also finishing up her Master's degree, volunteering 20 hrs a week, and working another 10 plus hours at Costco, managing the household and the children's schedules on top of it all.  How would it be to have such a limited set of priorities as she does.  I mean not having to focus 100% of her attention on triathlon, how easy does she have it?  Seriously, get a hobby or something.

Anyway, back to reality!  This is one of the flattest and fastest races around, so we both decided to go zone 5 from the beginning.  I'd be doing the Olympic and Michelle would be doing the Sprint distance.  We carpooled to the race with the Duckworth's again as Courtney would be doing the Sprint along with Michelle.  Might have to re-think that strategy next time since we laughed the whole way to the race and got to the start line already exhausted.

The Olympic racers started about 30 minutes before the Sprint racers. I really tried to settle in and swim comfortably. What I didn't plan for was the longest stretch of the swim being straight into the sun. I couldn't see a thing, and and to "hope" I was going in the right general direction. Fortunately, I slogged my way through the two laps and came out of the water in 27.55. An average time, but still puts me 5 min behind the lead guys. I've got a lot of work still to do on the swim, but at least I continue to improve.

As I headed out on the bike I decided to see how hard I could push.  I was with two other guys and we kept passing each other back and forth.  It was motivating try to keep up with these guys, and I could tell they we're really solid cyclists.  For some reason my body just wouldn't let me push as hard as I wanted.  I was able stay with the guys for most of the time even with a near crash at one of the turnaround points (need to pay a little closer attention to the volunteers I guess).  I came into T2 5th or 6th place with a bike time of 50:08. 

I knew the run would be mentally challenging as it was starting to get really warm, and my body didn't initially feel like pushing too hard.  I set off on and hoped to hang on as much as possible, and pick up the pace on the second lap if I was feeling good.  Thankfully, after about a mile into the run my body started to feel better and I was able to push pretty hard.  I saw Michelle just before the turnaround and set a mental goal to try to catch her before she finished.  She was running fast, so I knew it would be a stretch, but fun to try anyway.  As I made the turnaround I had moved into 4th place, but I saw the 5th place guy pushing hard on my tail.  The beauty of this two lap course is you get to see the immediate competition at the turnarounds and gauge how you're doing in comparison, and that worked to my advantage big time.  As I was nearing the turnaround for the first lap, I noticed the guy in 3rd place.  As I approached he turned and saw me...he immediately picked up his pace, but quickly slowed again.  Just as I was passing him I noticed Michelle was right there...I had just barely caught her before she finished...with a quick slap to her butt I was off to lap #2.  As I made the turnaround I saw the guy who was chasing me down had made up a lot of ground and was gaining quickly.  I decided I needed to push to get this done and put some distance between us.  It hurt a lot, but I was able to do just that and finish the race in 3rd overall.  I was really pleased with the finish.  If I can just get the swim down a bit I'll be right there with the overall top guys.  My run time was 37:18 (6:01/mile).  With an overall time of 1:56:42.

Michelle, of course, had a fantastic race as usual.  She came in cold for her only triathlon of the year and still finished 3rd overall with a time of 1:18:44.  Nice work babes!  You continue to inspire.

Congrats to Courtney Duckworth as well on her nice race you can read about it here

SOJO Marathon
Last year Michelle won her age group at this race and the prize was free entry to this years race.  How cool is that?  Apparently they award the top 3 racers in each age group free entry to the race the following year.  I decided to give it a go and see what happens.

The race started at 7:15 AM, but for some strange reason we had to catch a bus to the start line at 5:05.  Seemed a bit early, and it turned out to be way too early.  We ended up waiting at the start line for an hour and 40 minutes.  I guess that's what you get as the race directors iron out the bugs on a two year old race.  No worries though, it was fun hanging with Michelle and chatting with the other racers too.  It wasn't too cold either, but we were able to stay warm under the heaters they provided. 

As the race began I pushed hard.  Probably too hard at the start, but the temperature was nice and I felt great.  The first 8 miles of the race is by far the most difficult section of the course.  There are several moderate to steep climbs, and it just happened that they were into the wind as well.  I didn't want to push too hard up and zap all my energy, so I sat back and embraced the hills.  I do a ton of hill running as a part of my training, and I've grown to love it so it wasn't too bad.  The race was going fine up until mile 20 or so when my stomach decided to give me a little trouble.  I took a potty break and then got back to the running.  I was able to push through it mostly, but could definitely tell my pace was probably a minute slower than what I wanted it to be. 

As we hit the Jordan Parkway trail at about mile 24 I was ready for this beast to be done.  I don't care how many marathons you do, miles 20-26 still hurt...BAD!  I really wanted to push through the end, but the body wasn't willing to keep up with the mind so I eased my way into the finish.  One last push for the last quarter mile and I was done with a final time of 3:18 (11th overall).  Not bad, but not great either.  Fortunately I was able to secure 2nd in my age group, so I'll get another chance to conquer this beast next year. 

As for Michelle, she had another really good race.  She ran hard for the first 20 miles, but then her stomach demons showed up again.  She spent the next 6 miles running through some nasty spells of vomiting and dehydration.  She's so freaking tough though that she'll never stop until the task is done.  She finished in 4:26, and gave her "never again" speech after the race.  So we all know what that means...we'll see you next year at the start line babes.

So there you have it...2011 race season is a wrap!  It's been a great year, and here's to 2012 being even better.

As always, Tri Hard!