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Pre-Race
This race report is going to be relatively short.  First, it’s been a week since the race, and a very busy week at that, as I am starting up a new company and we are officially “launching” next week.  (More on that in a future post.)  And second, because this triathlon was on the same course and run by the same people as TexasMan, the Olympic I raced back in May.

That being said, this race was an interesting test of the factors that cause fitness/performance loss:

  • Training. Prior to TexasMan, I had trained fairly consistently for 3 months straight. Prior to Disco, I had one week of training and over six weeks of injury.
  • Weather. The high temperature on the day of TexasMan was 76 degrees. The high temperature on the day of Disco was 101 degrees.
  • Weight. I weighed 194 pounds for TexasMan and 199 pounds for Disco.

What was the end result?  My final Disco race time was 9% slower than TexasMan.  My swim was 13% slower, my bike was 4% slower, and my run was a whopping 16% slower.  The hot weather was certainly a factor, but still it’s amazing how slowly base fitness takes to build and how quickly it disappears!

Swim (30 minutes 30 seconds, 205 out of 273)
The swim was intimidating the first time around—it just looked so long.  But this time around I was much less nervous. I knew exactly where the buoys were this time and the water was quite calm.  I did have a couple problems once the race started, though. My goggles got hit by another swimmer and leaked a bit of water, which caused me to flip over on my back and empty them. And I swam off course at one point because I wasn’t sighting for the next buoy frequently enough. Despite those problems, the swim was relatively easy, and I actually found myself pushing a bit at the end to pass a couple of people in front of me.

T1 (2 minutes 55 seconds)
Coming out of the water, I noticed the sun was hiding behind some clouds. Nice!  As I ran up the path towards transition, some volunteers with hoses sprayed our feet and legs to get the sand off.  That was great.  My transition went fine and I headed out on the bike.

Bike (1 hour 21 minutes 32 seconds, 230 out of 273)
The ride was just as beautiful as in May, and amazingly the sun stayed behind the clouds for almost the entire ride.  Hemming Road was brutally bumpy like last time, and my piriformis muscles (muscles between your butt and lower back) were definitely aching on the final stretch.

T2 (2 minute 13 seconds)
Another good transition and I met my goal of approximately 5 minutes of transition time in every triathlon.

Run (1 hour 9 minutes 36 seconds, 224 out of 273)
More than a few people, include my wife Joanne, told me that racing a July Olympic in Texas was a bit silly. But with the new baby girl due on September 4th, I wanted to squeeze in one more Olympic. And the Disco race is really a blast. Many athletes dress in full disco garb, with afro wigs and gold chains and tie-dyed race gear. That being said, it was HOT. Oppressively hot. And humid, too, like running through warm soup. I paid close attention to my heart rate for the whole run, knowing that if I tried to run the 10K in under an hour I would “bonk” and end up walking. The sun came out in the first five minutes of the run, and when the route turned onto the unshaded road heading out of the State Park, I knew it was going to be painful. I walked through each water station, taking a cup of Gatorade to drink and two cups of water to pour over my head and my chest. By the last two miles, the path was littered with runners who had bonked, walking in a daze towards the finish line. I must have passed at least 20 people then, and at least half of them looked significantly more fit than I. It was a tough run, but it felt great to sprint the last hundred yards and then collapse in the lake.

Final Result: 3 hours 6 minutes 44 seconds, 225 out of 273
I didn’t have a goal time for this race.  I knew I would be slower than in May, and my time off to heal my ankle was the longest since I started triathlon, so I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of fitness.  The heat and lack of training made the race painful, but I have to admit that I was proud that I finished well. Overall, the race made me optimistic that I am starting to build a long-term base that will survive the new baby and allow me to build back up quicker than it would take to restart from scratch.

Well, after three weeks of no triathlon workouts, I finally made it into the doctor. My primary-care physician is also a sports-medicine specialist, and after a bunch of different exercises he identified the problem: a torn anterior talofibular ligament.  In normal language, that’s an ankle sprain—actually, the most common type of ankle sprain.  Here’s a diagram for you anatomy geeks:

Basic anatomy of a healthy ankle

Basic anatomy of a healthy ankle

My doctor gave me some exercises to rehab and asked me to come back in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, no swimming, biking, or running.  And that means no Playtri Festival Olympic-distance triathlon on July 5th. D’oh! Hopefully I’ll get at least one more race in this summer once I get better.

Here are some belated pictures from race day.  I’m still waiting for larger versions from the race-day photographers.  When I get them I’ll update this post with links to the larger shots.  These are decent in the meantime.

Coming out of the water and running to transition

Out of the water and up the beach to transition

My first race using aerobars went well

First race with aerobars went well, faster pace and easier run

Running the quarter-mile to the finish

Running the last quarter-mile on grass to the finish line

Pre-Race
I’m finally getting used to this triathlon thing. This was my fourth race, and I’ve finally shaken the nerves associated with packing the night before.  Racing three different sports in one day requires a lot of gear, and if you forget even one item—swim goggles or bike shoes, for instance—you are done for the day.  But packing was easy this time around and I got a good night’s sleep.

The race was held at Johnson Branch State Park on Lake Ray Hubbard.  It’s about an hour north from my house, but the drive was worth it.  The park was beautiful, with classic Texas country roads and blooming Spring-time flowers.  The weather was perfect too—around 60 degrees in the morning but sunny and 70 degrees by the race’s end.

This might have been my fourth race, but it was my first at the Olympic distance.  I have been ready to race this distance since I got sick at the end of the season right before my first planned Olympic, so I had more impatience than nerves about the coming day.  I knew that stepping up a distance meant racing against faster athletes, so I didn’t care as much about my placement.  But my target time was 3 hours 10 minutes, and if I could break 3 hours I would be thrilled. 

Swim (26 minutes 47 seconds, 197 out of 266)
The swim was just short of a mile: 1,500 meters or the equivalent of thirty laps in a pool.  Thirty laps doesn’t sound like much, but a mile of open water stretching far out into Lake Ray Hubbard is definitely intimidating.  I actually had to squint to see the buoys from shore.  But the beach start was awesome. I ran into the water with 40 or so other guys from my age group, dove head-first when the water was waist-high, and began a long swim in green, murky water churning with arms and legs. And even though it was a bit chilly at the start of the race, the water temperature was a perfect 70 degrees and actually warmer than the air.  Unlike my last race, jumping into the water caused only a half-second of shock and then I was in good shape.

I ended up passing a handful of swimmers, but I also got passed, including by the top swimmer of the younger men’s age group that started five minutes after we did.  It was windy today, and the chop on the water’s surface occasionally hit me in the face as I turned to breathe. I’m glad I practiced bilateral breathing so often in the pool, because I definitely needed it to avoid the chop each time I changed direction.  After circling a handful of buoys and heading back to shore, my hand hit sand and I popped up to run out of the water, up the beach, and to transition.

T1 (2 minutes 51 seconds)
It felt like a long run up the State park path from the beach to transition, but it gave me a chance to focus on the coming bike ride.  Everything went smoothly and I ran my bike to the mount line and headed out.

Bike (1 hour 18 minutes 54 seconds, 200 out of 266)
This was my first race riding in the aero position, with my seat moved forward, aerobars installed, and my body draped over the bike.  The wind was blowing about 10-15 mph but I barely noticed it.  It felt great.  The course was filled with rolling hills and almost no flats, but nothing really steep.  I only had to stand once and I only left the aero position a few times.  I ate a gel about 15 minutes into the ride and drank one bottle of water along the way.  About 6-8 miles of the bike route, along Hemming Road, was very rough pavement that made my whole bike shake as if I was riding on cobblestone.  My butt and lower back definitely took the brunt of the punishment during that stretch.  But overall, it was a beautiful route, with farm houses and horses and cattle scattered across the countryside. If I were on a training ride, I would have definitely taken lots of pictures.

T2 (1 minute 59 seconds)
Besides a slight problem slipping my foot into one of my running shoes, T2 went as smoothly as T1.  This was my fastest set of transitions ever.  If I can keep my total transition time to around 5 minutes in each race I run, I will be happy.

Run (58 minutes 33 seconds, 214 out of 266)
I’m really not sure what happened out on that run course today.  I mean, I did spend this winter focused on improving my run, and I did add an extra run workout into my weekly schedule this year.  But this course was hilly and I started it after hours of hard swimming and biking.  So how exactly did I set a personal best 10K time and a personal best average pace?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  I walked through all of the water stations as I always do, and I negative-split this leg quite nicely.  But this run just felt incredible.  I’d push myself up a hill and not need to recover.  I’d increase my speed at each mile and my heart rate stayed steady.  I’d temporarily speed up to pass someone in front of me and I still felt fine.  For the first time ever, I actually enjoyed the run more than the swim or the bike.  I ended up with a 9:27 average pace and and final time almost a minute faster than my last standalone 10K race.

Final Result: 2 hours 49 minutes 2 seconds, 205 out of 266
Wait, what?  I didn’t end up just under three hours, but way under three hours.  When I first saw my time I had to walk over to the finish-line official and ask him to double-check it.  I couldn’t believe it.  In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that the route was a bit short—about 5% short on the bike leg—but at my average pace I still would have finished well under 3 hours.  I guess I underestimated myself, which in my world is always a pleasant surprise.

My position relative to the field was definitely back of the pack—74% for the swim, 75% for the bike, and 80% for the run.  But I finally evened out my run placement and came in under three hours in my first ever Olympic-distance triathlon with only a year of training in all three sports.  I only really started exercising for the first time in my life at age 34 and triathlon has already helped me in all sorts of mental and physical ways, but days like today are what I look forward to for years to come.

Pre-Race
My sister Debbie is an accountant with a birthday on Apri 14th, so every year she travels down to Dallas after tax season is over to see the family and celebrate her birthday.  This year, we both registered for the King Tut Sprint Triathlon in McKinney so that we could race together for the first time.

Debbie rented a bike and brought it over to my house the day before the race.  On race morning I woke up and ate my normal pre-race breakfast of Honey-Nut Cheerios, skim milk, and a banana.  My mom drove Debbie over to my house and we all drove together in my car to McKinney.

When we arrived, the first thing Debbie noticed was the level of competition at the race.  There’s a fair amount of money in McKinney, and it definitely showed in the equipment on display in transition.  I saw more $5,000+ tri bikes at this race than at the two I’ve done before, and there were a number of athletes who definitely looked the part.

Now, although I’m a slightly better swimmer than Debbie, she and I are equal cyclists and she is a much better runner than I am.  So we were joking as we headed into transition about who would “win” the race.  I knew she would beat me but it was fun to be there together and be competitive.

We quickly set up our transition areas and Debbie made a critical error that ruined the rest of her race day.  She was borrowing my mom’s bike helmet for the day and she forgot to try it on!  More on this point later…

Swim (10 minutes 26 seconds, 160 out of 370)
The swim was a short 500 meters in a man-made, neighborhood lake.  The water was surprisingly clean, and although the race director had predicted around 70-degree water, the unusual cold and storms during the weeks prior dropped the water temperature to 62 degrees—frickin’ COLD!  Last year I swam a half-mile in the Pacific Ocean in water even colder than that, so I knew that it would suck getting in but that I’d warm up after the first 100 meters, so I didn’t wear a wetsuit for the swim.  But when I lined up for the swim start with my age group, almost every single one of the 25+ athletes between 30-39 years of age wore a wetsuit.  In fact, I’d say over 80% of the racers had wetsuits that day—a big rarity for Texas triathlons.

My age group started when Debbie was in the water, so I didn’t really get a chance to watch her swim or exit the water, but later she told me that when she jumped in she couldn’t catch her breath and had to swim with her head above water for the first third of the swim.  If you’ve never jumped in to really cold water, you probably don’t know what she explained, but when you first jump in your heart races and your body begins to “force” you to breathe at about double the pace that you normally do.  It’s quite unnerving to feel your body out of control, especially when you are trying to stay calm so you pace yourself during the first leg of the race.

Once my age group jumped in, we treaded water for a minute or so while we all got into position, and then someone yelled “Go!” and we all started swimming.  The tangle of arms and legs thrashing in cold, murky water was something I’d never experienced, as this was my first open-water triathon.  As long as you don’t mind a sense of mild panic in the water or a bunch of same-sex strangers groping you as they jockey for position, it’s a really fun experience.  I’m a decent swimmer so although I started towards the back of my wave, I slowly passed people and ended up near the front by the end.

T1 (3 minutes 41 seconds)
One negative of the course set-up is that this neighborhood lake actually has a dam along its far edge that forms a big hill overlooking the water.  Unfortunately, the transition area was on the other side of this hill, which meant that when we exited the water we had to run up a dirt hill and then back down the other side into transition.  My age group was one of the last, and so the dirt had become mud, and I had to run fairly slow to avoid slipping down the hill.  That probably explains my lengthy transition, because I actually moved fairly quickly on to my bike.

Bike (40 minutes 8 seconds, 168 out of 370)
The bike course was was made up of two 6-mile loops, and besides one big hill and one small one, it was flat and fast.  It was really windy too, blowing at 15-20 mph that morning, which not only made my wet toes freeze inside my vented bike shoes, but made for a tough bike ride without my bike set up for me to ride in the “aero” position (draped over the bike with my hands forward on aerobars).  I managed to pass quite a few people, but I was passed a lot as well, and most of the people who passed me were riding in the aero position.  I think the next triathlon purchase I’ll make will be aerobars for my bike.  Overall, it was a fast and fun ride, averaging 18 miles per hour.

Not so much for my sister Debbie, though!  She exited transition, hammered up the first hill passing folks left and right, and then… her helmet slipped off her head and started choking her!  The rest of her ride was spent trying to angle her head to either keep the helmet on or keep it from restricting her air intake.  She had to stop and unclip from the bike at least three times, and was screaming profanities for the entire 12 miles.  It was her first triathlon on a real road bike, so hopefully she exorcized all of the demons and will do great in the Door County Half in July.

T2 (2 minutes 7 seconds)
By the time I got back to the transition area, my toes were completely numb but the rest of me felt fine.  I yanked off my helmet, pulled on my socks and shoes, put on my race-number belt, and jogged out on to the run course.  My legs felt especially stiff since I have not run many bricks this year.  I’ll definitely have to squeeze in one or two before my next race.

Run (31 minutes 15 seconds, 242 out of 370)
The run course was much more difficult than I had mentally prepared myself.  First of all, the path passed underneath the street at least twice, which meant running down and then back up a steep incline and through a dark tunnel.  Second, it was generally hilly, with long stretches of “false flat” hills—not steep enough to wake me up that a big hill was coming, but not flat enough to keep me from feeling the burn in my thighs and lungs.  And third, running into the wind after swimming and biking is really just a kick in the pants.  The end result was a 10-minute run pace, a fairly average showing for me and definitely slower than I would have liked.

For those of you who were wondering about my sister, her run was great: a blistering 8:40 pace driven by her desire to make up time and the frustration of such a bad bike leg.  I can’t wait until I can break a 9-minute pace in a triathlon like she did!

Final Result: 1 hour 27 minutes 40 seconds, 201 out of 370
The final route was approximately 15.41 miles of Sprint-triathlon goodness.  I finished in a respectable top 43% in the swim and top 45% on the bike, but top 65% (ugh!) on the run.  Overall I finished in the top 54%, which still makes me a proud MOP’er (midde-of-the-pack).  And even though Debbie had a terrible morning, it was a blast racing with her and I hope to do it again soon.

My next race is the TexasMan Olympic Triathlon on May 18th starting in Lake Ray Roberts north of Denton.  Hopefully doubling the distance will double the fun! 🙂

6.20 miles in 59:10 @ 9:31 pace and 174/187 bpm for 907 calories

There’s something about running on race day that allows you to push the pace a bit.  Whether its adreneline or tapering or whatever, I enjoy racing almost as much as I enjoy training.  (And I’m slow!  I can’t imagine how fun it would be if I were actually competitive.)

Today was the run stage of the 2009 Texas Tough series, and it was a blast.  As I wrote a few posts back, the race benefits Children’s Medical Center.  The run stage is a 50K ultrarelay, with teams running four 5Ks and three 10Ks to make up the total.  Our team, called Hearts of Fire, was made up of employees and friends of the Heart Center at Children’s, the actual unit where my wife works.  All of the money we raise not only goes to Children’s but directly to the Heart Center, and as of this writing we’ve raised over $2,000!

The race itself was beautiful.  It was held on the field at the Cotton Bowl, with the run route winding around the Texas State Fairgrounds.  It was really cool to walk onto the perfect-green grass of the Cotton Bowl field and imagine the couple of times I’ve seen UT play OU there.  But today the field had been transformed for race day, with tents and a finish line and a well-marked route leading up the tunnel and out of the stadium.

The relay started at 8:00a, and it was sunny but just under 40 degrees.  Everyone was cold waiting for the race to start, but once it began we all warmed up.  The race was originally structured to have each runner take a baton from the previous one and run our routes serially.  But because the race is in its first year, it was sparsely attended (maybe 500 runners or so) and there just weren’t enough teams to make it worth stretching out the event for 4-5 hours. So the organizers decided to “collapse” the relay and let anyone on the team run after the first leg crossed the finish line.

Now although this decision seemed logical, it caused quite a bit of confusion. See, most people had planned to show up just before their leg of the relay began. Mike Bryan, one of my friends that ran on our team, was scheduled to run the sixth leg, a 10K. It would have normally started at around 10:30a, but since four of the other legs decided to run simultaneously that morning, I had to call him at 7:45a and see if he could get downtown sooner.  He’s a trooper so he rushed down and arrived just five minutes before his leg started, but not every team was so lucky. Most spectators, including my family, also decided not to come for the same reason: they didn’t want to watch four hours of distance running—they just wanted to see their runner’s leg and now it was impossible to know when each one ran.

The end result was a beautifully set up but near-empty Cotton Bowl for the race. I was scheduled to run the 5K leg before and after Mike’s run (for 10K total), but since we were allowed to start at any time, Mike and I ran together.  I use that word loosely, of course, as he was already ahead of me by the time we exited the tunnel and he finished over 12 minutes before I did.  But my run was great.  My pace was near the best 5K race pace I had last year, with the improvement due to focusing on the run during the winter and learning how to push myself harder on race day without worrying about “blowing up” (i.e. going too fast, running out of steam, and walking the rest of the race).  I definitely look forward to the swim and bike later this year and to a great race season.

5.73 miles in 58:55 @ 10:16 pace and 159/176 bpm for 824 calories

After a few weeks of recovering from a winter of inactivity and a couple of nasty blisters, I’m finally getting back to normal. My pace is back in the mid-10s at healthy average heart rate and my body isn’t tired at the end of my long swim, bike, or run. I have to admit that I enjoyed taking a break from training, but now that I’m back into it I’m loving it even more than I did last year.

I’m still taking it relatively easy, increasing my long bike and run by 10% each week, which should have me ready in plenty of time for my first Olympic triathlon in May.

13.33 miles in 2:26:32 (2:35:50 chip time) @ 10:59 pace and 165/184 bpm for 2,031 calories

With all of the good luck I’ve had with training and races (at least the races that I actually start), I was bound to have at least one bad event.  This was definitely it.

At least I enjoyed my company, though.  My day started early, in my hotel room with Joanne and Emma in Kingwood, Texas. I grew up with an “extended family”—the Larsons— that included two daughters: Nicole and Michele. Joanne, Emma, and I travelled to Michele’s house in Kingwood over the weekend to celebrate a late Christmas with the Larsons. Nicole is married to a guy named Mike, and my sister is engaged to a guy named Tim. Since we were all in Houston, we decided to run the Houston Marathon/Half-Marathon. Mike, Tim and I ran the half, and my sister ran the full.

I woke up just before 5:00am, changed and snuck quietly out of the hotel, and piled into my mom’s SUV and headed downtown. Finding a parking space with all of the streets blocked off was a nightmare, but mom got us there and we all made our way to the start line.

I should mention at this point that due to a mix-up, the race actually sold out before we were able to register. But my crafty sister Debbie used craigslist to buy 4 race entries from injured runners. So that day, I ran as 39-year-old Susanna Jacobvik (at least the last name was close!).  Now, it seems that Susanna is a pretty speedy lady, because she was signed up in the front group of runners. Tim (Anna) and Mike (Horacio) actually are fast runners, but they obliged me by lining up in the back of the front group. We chatted while we jumped up and down to keep warm in the cold pre-dawn breeze, but when the gun went off I promptly waved goodbye and started a slow but steady pace. See, if you’ve followed my blog you know that I’ve never run 10 miles before, and I definitely didn’t want to blow up before I hit 13. I planned a 10:30 pace and hoped to surprise myself with something closer to 10:00.

A little over 3 miles into the race, my plans changed. I started to feel a “hot spot” on the arch of both of my feet. Now I have never really gotten blisters before, even on very long runs in heat and humidity, so I figured I was just imagining it. At 5 miles the heat I felt turned into pain, and I decided that I probably had the beginnings of a blister but that no matter what I was going to finish.  I stopped at the next medical tent and asked for advice–they said to slather vasoline and keep on using it throughout the race. Now, the vasoline did get me through the race, but it added 11+ minutes to my race time and made for one heck of a mess. By the end of the race I had a bad blister on my left foot and a really bad blister on my right foot (the size of the bottom of a coke can).

But I did finish, and I even got to see Joanne, Emma, Patty, Bruce, Nicole, Michele, and Adrian at the finish line!  I missed seeing my mom Sandy, as she was out on the race course cheering on my sister, who ended up finishing in just over 4 hours.  Tim and Mike finished with great times as well, and Mike even talked about running another half-marathon later that year.

I must admit that I didn’t really enjoy the race itself. Music wasn’t allowed on the course and I spent most of the race with my mind on my blisters rather than all the fun and energy of a typical big half-marathon.  So if you asked me today, I don’t really want to run this distance again, either on its own or as a part of a half-Ironman. But I’m sure when the blisters heal, I’ll get the urge to try it again, if for no other reason than to finish the distance healthy at least once.

3.12 miles in 29:21 @ 9:25 pace and 172/194 bpm for 443 calories

Early Saturday morning, Phil and I drove way south (i.e. south of I-635!) to run the 2008 Jogger Egg Nog’r 5K.  The race is a Dallas tradition, typically run in cold weather, and the big draw is the three different types of egg nog served at the finish line: regular, with whiskey, and with rum. If you don’t like egg nog anyway, drinking it at the end of a race hardly seems appealing. But if you are an egg nog fan, you’re probably like most people and still a bit skeptical—who wants to drink a thick, creamy beverage after a hard run?  Well, I love egg nog, and now I can say definitively that I love it even more after a race.

It was not particularly cold when Phil and I arrived, but a huge crowd had already gathered, including a junior-high boys cross-country team in full uniform and seriously warming up.  Phil and I jogged for a half-mile or so to get loose, laughed at the guy wearing nothing but a huge cardboard Christmas present (he was fast!), and lined up to start.  The race itself was relatively uneventful. Phil and I ran together until the very end, where he really pushed the last 100 yards or so and I couldn’t catch up.

After the race, I had three plastic cups of egg nog (1 regular, 2 with rum), a banana, and a cup of gatorade. When I was drinking my egg nog, another runner commented about how he could never drink egg nog after a run, and we joked about it a bit.  Later, when Phil and I were walking back to our car, that other runner (Phil, do you remember his name?) chased us down (“Hey. Hey! Hi guys!”) and persistently engaged in conversation the whole way (“Yeah, I work for Mary Kay, and they’re really into running there. Do you guys run with your coworkers? Really? Interesting!”).

I’d definitely run the Jogger Egg Nog’r again.  It was a good end-of-season race and fun to run it with Phil!

8 miles in 1:20:27 @ 10:03 pace and 165/195 bpm for 1,193 calories

After almost 20 years of hearing from my best friend Curt Brewer and his dad about the infamous Turkey Trot, I finally got a chance to run it this year.  I originally registered when I first started exercising in the Spring, and back then 8 miles seemed an impossible distance.  Fast forward to today and 8 miles is slightly less than my typical weekly long run, but this morning when I woke up at 6:30am I was still just as excited as I was on the morning of my first triathlon.

After I woke up and put a groggy Emma back to bed so that Joanne could get a bit more sleep, I had what is becoming my typical pre-race breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and skim milk and I dressed in shorts, a long-sleeve running shirt, and a black wool cap for the race.  I drove downtown and parked a little more than an hour before the race began.  It was remarkably empty when I walked over to Dallas City Hall to meet Joey Martinez (Curt’s brother-in-law and my running buddy for today), but by the time Joey and I hooked up and found our way to the start line, it was packed!

Starting line crowd at the 2008 Dallas Turkey Trot

Starting-line crowd (photo by travelcodemonkey)

It took about three minutes for us to cross the start line, and once we did the road was clogged with walkers, jogging strollers, dogs, and runners with all sorts of crazy gear—everything from a woman with a backpack full of clothes and food and who-knows-what-else to a group of girls in pilgrim outfits.  It was fun to run through downtown and Deep Ellum with thousands of other people, and I will definitely do it again next Thanksgiving.

In terms of my performance, I finished 4,622nd out of 7,174 runners in the 8-mile race, which put me in the top 64% as compared to my last triathlon finish in the top 40%.  This result confirms to me that running really is my weakest triathlon discipline, and I’m enjoying spending the “off-season” focusing on it.  I honestly could have tried a bit harder to keep up my pace, but I was thinking of negative splitting the race and enjoying my time with Joey.  I did manage to increase my pace throughout the run, but not very evenly.  I really need to work more on this aspect of my race.  Here were my mile splits:

  1. 10:21
  2. 10:31
  3. 10:00
  4. 10:28
  5. 10:21
  6. 10:00
  7. 9:08
  8. 8:32

Finally, here’s a cool graph from SportTracks, the open-source software I use to process my GPS/HRM watch data.  You can see elevation, pace, and heart rate.  The spikes in pace were my walking through the aid stations to stop for water and the dips were running down hills.

Pace, elevation, and heart rate by distance

Pace (blue), elevation (brown), and heart rate (red) by distance

Here are some pictures from race day!  (The linked images are courtesy of the race-day photographers.  If you want copies of any of those shots, please click on the picture and order directly from them.)
Riding out of transition

Beginning the ride

Pushing through a turn

Pushing through a turn

Last mile of the run

Last mile of the run

About to cross the finish line

About to cross the finish line

Celebrating with a cute fan

Celebrating with a cute fan

Pre-race
As you may have read in an earlier post, I got sick and missed the Olympic-distance triathlon for which I had been training for six months.  I was bummed.  At the time thought about ending my “season” and just waiting until next year, but when I started feeling better I decided to try to find one more race before the cold weather arrived.  I looked online and found the Plano Blackland Triathlon, a Sprint-distance, inaugural event held at Oak Point Park in East Plano benefitting Plano ISD Athletics.  I decided to give it a try.  (For more basic information about triathlon races or a recap of my first race, to which I refer in this post, read my previous race report.)

The morning of the race, I woke up a few hours beforehand and ate a breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios, skim milk, and a light banana smoothie (bananas, ice, skim milk, vanilla, and cinnamon).  I had packed up my duffel bag with all my gear the night before, but this time I brought a much larger bag than my last race so that I didn’t have to squeeze everything in.

The transition area was extremely tight—the bikes were almost touching and the rack was too low to park the bike facing front.  One thing I forgot to bring was my painter’s tape, which I’ve found is great for fastening gel(s) on your bike without leaving residue on your paint job.  Because my triathlon suit (i.e. “onesie”) has no pockets, I tried to stuff the gel underneath my bike’s race number, but it fell out when I started riding.  Luckily I didn’t really need a gel in this short race.

One difficult part about triathlon for folks like me who wear glasses is that you cannot see very well when you’re leaving the pool and heading to transition. I don’t put on my prescription sunglasses until I get to my bike, so between my bad eyesight and being soaked and slightly disoriented from swimming, I have a hard time seeing where I’m supposed to go.  Luckily in my first race the volunteers helped steer me in the right direction.  For this race I decided to walk the path to transition a few times before the race started.  As a result, I didn’t have time for a warm-up, but it was a very short swim so I wasn’t too worried.

Surprisingly, they did not sing the national anthem before this event, they did not explain why the event was called “Blacklands” (my dad later told me it was because Plano has always had dark, rich farming soil), and they did not mention what group the event benefitted or how it was going to help.  The event also got started a bit late which is a big no-no in race direction, but I cut them some slack because it’s their first year.

Swim (5 minutes 51 seconds, 115 out of 409)
The Oak Point pool is an indoor, salt-water pool with 6 lanes of 50 meters each.  The pool was overly warm, which I normally don’t like—swimming laps in a warm pool is a lot like running on a treadmill in a hot room—but given the brisk temperature outside, I was actually happy with it this time.

In my last post, I wrote, “I don’t think I would race another sprint triathlon unless it had a swim of at least ½ mile.” And here I was again, racing a super-short swim distance.  I guess I felt different about it in that this race was really the only one I could choose without travelling somewhere.  I still wish it had been longer but it wasn’t as annoying as it was the first time around.

My race number was 278, and since the numbers started with 101, that meant I was seeded 178th out of 409 based on my reported swim time.  As I waited the 20 minutes or so for my turn to get in the pool, I watched the usual people who report a blazing swim time but then end up breast-stroking the entire swim (yes, literally) and forcing dozens of people to pass them.  What are they thinking?  I also waited next to a couple of members of the UNT Triathlon Team, who were all wearing the same green uniforms.  I thought it was really cool to see college triathletes at a local event, and I wished there had been some UT-Austin or even UT-Dallas representation.

When there were only 10-15 people left in front of me, I suddenly felt the need to empty my bladder once more before the start.  Unfortunately I didn’t have time to do it and I was worried about not keeping my place in line.  In hindsight, I should definitely have stepped out, told the race director I was going to start late, and made a pit stop.  But instead I started the race needing to “go” and knowing I couldn’t while I was exerting myself.  (More on this issue later.)

I started off too quickly and actually got a bit winded after the first 50 meters, but at the wall I reminded myself not to get too excited and I settled down into my Total Immersion style and swam well for the rest of the short swim.  I passed four or five people and was actually passed by one.

Just like last race, I “moved up” from my seeded place with my overall swim finish of 115th.  My 100-meter pace for this swim was 1:57, just under my 2:00 target and 19 seconds faster than my first triathlon swim pace.  And most importantly, this time around I remembered to put on my goggles before I jumped in the water.  At the end of the swim, two volunteers helped pull me out of the pool at the ladder, and I jogged the long distance up to the transition area—without getting disoriented this time.

T1 (2 minutes 44 seconds)
One annoying thing about the sport of triathlon is that there is no standardized transition area set up or distance from swim to transition.  I can understand why this type of rule is not possible, but what it means is that it is impossible to compare overall times from two different races, because even if the distances of each leg were the same, transition would not be laid out in the same way or be the same distance from the swim and the bike mount.

In any case, T1 went very well for me.  I sped up my transition time by not sitting down or drying anything off except my feet.  Putting on gloves was still a pain, and next I won’t wear them when racing a Sprint-distance event.  I did not leave my bike shoes in the pedals (i.e. no flying mount) and instead ran in them to the bike mount, got on slowly, and headed out.

Bike (44 minutes 47 seconds, 116 out of 409)
It wasn’t until about 10 minutes into the bike course that I realized how badly I needed to “go”!  I suddenly became jealous of those Tour de France guys who teach themselves how to “pee off the bike,” but there was no way I was going to try that in my onesie!  I also wasn’t going to stop, unclip, and go on the side of the road.  So I held it in and kept reminding myself that the faster I finished, the faster I got back to transition and the port-o-potty.

Maybe my full bladder contributed to my great bike ride or something, but on a hillier course than my first race I managed to slightly decrease my miles-per-hour pace, and in this race I actually finished in the top third on the bike instead of the top half in the last one.  I felt really strong throughout, pushing through a headwind during the first half of the out-and-back course and passing about 15 people, including three or four while going up hills.  I was also passed by two riders, both who flew by me with impressive form and really cool bikes.

As I wrote last time, riding on a closed course with policemen directing traffic is so great.  But through a couple of intersections, the traffic was really backed up (10+ cars on each side) and in one particular intersection dozens of cars were laying on their horns and yelling out the window at the cops.  They seemed in disbelief that the cars were not getting right-of-way over the athletes.  Part of me felt great that for once a car had to wait for a bike to pass, but most of me felt bad that triathlon might be getting a bad name here and worried that the situation might actually get violent.

Towards the end of the race, I encountered a “rabbit” like I had in my first race—a rider I wanted to pass who was riding at my speed or slightly faster.  This guy was on a bright-yellow bike with no shirt and riding with terrible form: legs splayed, body rocking, and back crooked.  But as I’ve learned so many times in the past, looks are deceiving in endurance sports, and every time I tried conservatively to pass the guy (i.e. increasing and then holding my pace to get by him without sprinting) he would pedal with all his might to stay ahead.  I was impressed with him, and although I didn’t ever pass him he definitely helped me push my pace.  I unfastened my shoes during the last minute of the ride and pulled my feet out so that I could hop off my bike and run barefoot into T2.  It turned out my rabbit was racked one space down from me!  We congratulated each other on a good bike leg and he headed out on to the run as I pulled on my running shoes and made a beeline for the port-o-potty.

T2 (3 minutes 29 seconds)
Ahh!  As I exited the big blue box, I knew I had lost at least 1.5 minutes between the detour and the deed, but I felt so relieved I really looked forward to the last leg of the race.  Hopefully I won’t make this same mistake again and this transition will be the longest of my triathlon career.

Run (28 minutes 34 seconds, 203 out of 409)
What an incredible run!  It was a flat course and sunny outside, but cool with a nice breeze that I hated on the bike but loved now.  I had almost no problem with stiff legs running off the bike, which I attribute to my near-weekly brick (i.e. bike-to-run) workouts that have made me much more comfortable with that awkward feeling.

I started off at a fairly fast pace of slightly under 9-minutes per mile, but then I reminded myself of my negative split philosophy and slowed it down.  Four people passed me almost instantly after that, but because I picked up the pace with each half-mile or so, I actually passed them all but one in the end.  That really felt good.

I’ve been training much longer distances for both the Olympic triathlon and for the upcoming Turkey Trot, and so the end of the run came way too soon.  Despite a 9:13 minutes per mile pace and finishing less than a minute off of my fastest 5k run time ever (which occurred in a normal running race without a bike and a swim!), I really felt that I had a lot of energy at the end of the race.  In hindsight, I should have tried a 5k prep run before the race to try out a 9 minutes per mile pace and see how it felt.

The final quarter-mile was up a hill along the back of the Oak Point Amphitheatre, which meant that I had to basically run a tight U-turn right before the finish line.  The positive of this setup was that I finished in front of a live band, but the negative was that I couldn’t judge how close the finish line really was and the spectators couldn’t see athletes coming before they suddenly finished.  Joanne still snapped a cool picture of my form as I pushed through the finish, and I ended the race with Emma running up to me for another big post-race hug.

Final Result: 1 hour 25 minutes 29 seconds, 163 out of 409
It was sad that I couldn’t make it to my Olympic-distance triathlon this year—and it especially stung when some of the other athletes had triathlon shirts and other race gear from that event—but this really was a nice end to my triathlon “season.” I ended up improving my finish spot from the top 56% in my first race to the top 40% in this one, so I’m still officially a MOP’er (i.e. middle-of-the-pack athlete), but slowly getting better—and still enjoying training even more than I do my races.

Speaking of, my next race is the Turkey Trot 8-mile on Thanksgiving.  My Dad and Rebecca are going to walk the 3-mile course that morning so I will have family joining me in addition to the handful of friends I know who are running it.  After that, I hope to run the Houston Half-Marathon in January.  My Mom and the Larsons would be spectators there and if all goes well I’ll run it with Debbie, Tim, and Nicole’s husband Mike.  Finally, barring another case of strep throat, I’ll race my first Olympic-distance triathlon in the Spring—I’m leaning towards an event in South Carolina so I can go visit Curt—and then the Olympic-distance race I deferred which will happen again in October 2009.  Thanks for reading and please let me know if you’re ever in Dallas and want to swim, bike, or run!

2,000 yards or 40 laps in 40:42 for 375 calories

Today I went for a quick swim and pushed my pace again.  When I showed up the pool was packed with the Plano kids swimming program, but luckily within 5 minutes almost the entire pool emptied and the rest of the swim was relatively uncrowded and felt great.

Afterwards, I confirmed my registration for two upcoming races.  The first race is the Blackland Sprint Triathlon benefitting Plano ISD.  I guess it’s a replacement for my deferred US Open Triathlon, except this race is a lot smaller (~500 athletes instead of ~2,000) and a lot shorter (Sprint distance instead of Olympic, pool swim instead of open water).  Still, it’ll be nice to squeeze in an end-of-season triathlon since I have spent most of the year training.  The second race is the 41st Annual Dallas Turkey Trot.  This was the original race that my friend Curt and I were going to do before he moved to South Carolina, and outside of triathlon it has been the race to which I have most looked forward.  It’s an 8-mile race on Thanksgiving morning with over 30,000 runners!  There’s also a 3-mile fun run for folks not interested in working up their metabolism too much on Thanksgiving.  If you’re interested in doing either race with me, please comment and let me know.

After six months of training, I am not racing the U.S. Open Triathlon this Sunday.  More accurately, I’m deferring my participation until 2009.  How did this happen?  Well, it’s been a long week.

As you probably read in my earlier posts, my trip to Minneapolis was awesome.  But I arrived home feeling a bit under the weather, and by the time I woke up the next day I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.  My body was sore, my sinuses ached, and although I had no drainage I had a 101.7 fever.  I cancelled my business trips to Seattle (Microsoft Partner Advisory Council meeting) and Chicago (EMC Consulting training event) and got my doctor to squeeze me in for an appointment.  I tested negative for influenza and strep, and so he decided that I likely had a rare sinusitis bug and put me on a very powerful antibiotic called Avelox (in the quinolone family, along with the infamous Cipro used to fight Anthrax).

Avelox quickly killed off whatever I had.  Within two days, I was feeling a lot better.  But I found myself getting progressively jittery, and soon I was back in full-blown anxiety mode for the first time in over five months.  I was up all night, pacing back and forth, arms shaking, mind racing, brain chemistry totally shot.  I did manage to get a few hours sleep, but not near enough to make up for how hard the week had been, and without getting into details, the morning was absolute hell.  (Thanks to Joanne, her mom, my mom, and Nicole for helping me through it.)

Luckily, in my “mental” state I got even more obsessive than usual (I know, imagine that!), and I decided to research my antbiotic.  I found that for a small number of patients, the quinolone family of antibiotics causes extreme anxiety and other psychosis.  Wonderful.  I immediately made another appointment with my doctor.

He again squeezed me in, collected a detailed history of the week, and concurred with my findings about Avelox.  He took me off the drug immediately and prescribed Augmentin—which, interestingly enough, was the antibiotic I should  have had, as my initial test was a false negative and in fact I had strep throat instead of sinusitis all along.  The half-life of the Avelox is 12 hours, so it’ll take a while to get out of my system, but just one day later I’ve managed to get almost 9 hours sleep and I have no more anxiety symptoms.

Of course, I’m bummed about having to miss my triathlon, but if I’m honest I must say I’m a very lucky guy.  Back in March, my initial anxiety produced far more silver lining than cloud, and if I look back I have to admit that I’ve probably enjoyed swimming, biking, and running more than I would have enjoyed any actual race.  God clearly had a plan for me back then and I know He does again this time around.  Although it was nice to lose a pound a day and finally hit my target weight of 188 (40 pounds lost from my max!), I honestly would not wish those 48 hours on my worst enemy.

Pre-race
On the day before the race, I left work at around 3 o’clock to drive to McKinney and pick up my race packet.  When I arrived, volunteers were setting up the bike racks and marking off the course.  I picked up my packet, which included my run and bike numbers, race instructions, a t-shirt, and some other minor freebies.  I wanted to check out the course but unfortunately the race organizers had forgotten to print maps, so I headed home.

Later that night after helping put Emma to bed, I squeezed all of my equipment into a duffel bag and went to bed early.  I slept well and woke up at 5 o’clock to eat a breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios, a sliced banana, skim milk, and two glasses of water.  After breakfast I inflated my bike tires, installed the bike rack on my car, and racked my bike.  Even though my bike is new, I gave it a quick wipe-down and then taped an energy gel on the main tube with blue painter’s tape.  I put on some Body Glide and my triathlon suit (a black singlet, or as Debbie calls it, a “onesie”), grabbed my duffel bag, and headed out.

The roads were empty on the way to McKinney until Preston and 121, but after that I began to see cars and trucks with bikes of various shapes and sizes attached to them, all driving in the dark towards the race.  I pulled into Craig Ranch and was directed to park in a big field of prickly weeds that had died in the summer heat.  Just to be safe, I carried my bike on one shoulder and my duffel on another through the parking lot and to the street leading to the transition area.  (I later heard someone mention that her friend got a flat from a thorn in the weeds and had to change her tire before the race.)

The transition entrance had about 15 volunteers armed with thick permanent markers.  I showed one of them my number and she quickly wrote it on my shoulders and legs and put my age on my calf.  I walked to my race number’s bike rack and racked my bike with the front wheel facing outward.  I put my gloves and sunglasses inside of my helmet and balanced it between the corner of the rack and my bike seat.  Then I put my running shoes, visor, and rolled-up socks in a neat little pile on the ground next to my bike.  Finally, I had to decide what do to about my bike shoes.  I had practiced a technique earlier in the week where you clip in your shoes before the race starts, remove your feet from them, and then slip your feet in and fasten them after you start riding.  This sounds precarious but I was able to do it with 30 minutes practice on the street in front of my house.  For this race, though, I decided against it, because my bike was on a rack very close to the exit and I didn’t need to avoid running in my bike shoes for such a short distance.  I put my bike shoes on the ground and a hand towel over the top of them and headed barefoot across the transition area to the pool.

Hundreds of athletes had gathered around all four sides of the pool.  There were about 20 people swimming warm-up laps and I decided to join them.  But first I needed to pick up my timing chip and stretch a bit.  Unfortunately, the timing chip line was slow and by the time I finished stretching, the race referee told everyone to exit the pool for race announcements.  The announcements included a brief rundown of the rules; the most interesting was that “drafting” on the bike, or riding directly behind another rider to reduce your own effort, was not allowed.  This meant that you had to maintain distance between you and the rider in front and that if you wanted to pass you had to do so in 15 seconds.  Since the energy you save drafting is significant, the race referees drove up and down the bike route looking for offenders and giving them a time penalty of two minutes.  Anyway, one of the volunteers sang the national anthem (she was good but it seemed to take forever), everyone cheered, and Dr. Cooper announced the start of the race.

Swim (7 minutes 56 seconds, 235 out of 422)
The outdoor pool was beautiful, 82 degrees warm and 50 meters long, with 6 lane markers defining 7 lanes.  Each athlete swam a snake pattern: down one lane, under the lane marker, up one lane, under the lane marker, et cetera, for 7 laps (350 meters).  I had never swam under a lane marker before, but since one person entered the pool every 5 seconds and my race number was my swim position, I got to watch 334 other swimmers before it was my turn.  Most of them were kick-turning or open-turning diagonally under the rope and into the next lane, so I decided to try that as well.

Your race number (and thus starting position) was decided by the time you estimated you could swim 350 meters when you registered for the race.  I reported a slightly slower swim time (I wanted to take it easy during the first race leg), but I was amazed at how many people reported a much faster swim time than they could actually pull off.  Many early swimmers were slow, and during the first 50 swimmers there were some lanes where people ran into each other or swam 3 abreast.  Perhaps they were overconfident or wanted to start the race early before it became too hot to run?

In any case, it was 45 minutes before I swam, so I took the time to drink 4 more cups of water, eat a energy gel, and use the restroom before I had to get in line.   Finally I was lined up to swim!  The lady in front of me seemed nervous, telling me and another guy that it was her first triathlon and that she hoped she could actually finish.  To put her at ease I told her she would do fine and joked that she could use all the extra time when she finished before me to cheer me on when I finally limped in.  She laughed a bit but still looked anxious as she jumped in the water.

I, however, was feeling calm and confident – or so I thought.  I pulled my swim cap on and put my goggles over my head, and when they called my number I jumped into the pool and started to swim.  Five seconds or so passed before I realized I forgot to pull my goggles over my eyes!  I laughed out loud underwater and rolled over on my back to empty my goggles and put them on.  I rolled back over and resumed my swim, starting a steady rhythm and quickly regaining confidence.  I reached the first wall and performed a nice open-water turn under the lane marker, which made me feel even better – until one of my goggles popped off my eye and filled with water.  D’oh!  I guess in my hurry I didn’t get them back on right.  I didn’t want to stop swimming again, so I decided to swim pirate-style with one eye closed inside my goggle (“Argh matey!”).  I passed the girl in front of me and 4 or 5 more people over the rest of the swim.  It wasn’t until my final lap that my other goggle popped off my eye and also filled with water.  I was just 30 meters or so to the finish, so I opened both eyes inside my water-filled goggles and made it to the end of the pool and out onto the deck.

Despite all of the that trouble – or possibly because of it as I couldn’t really push myself – my heart rate coming out of the pool was actually lower than I expected.  (In fact, I almost felt like the swim was a bit of a waste as it was so short.  I don’t think I would race another sprint triathlon unless it had a swim of at least ½ mile.)  One thing I forgot, however, was that without my glasses I couldn’t see to which bike rack I should run.  Luckily, a volunteer noticed the number on my arm and guided me to the correct area.  I thanked her and headed to start my first transition (called “T1”).

T1 (2 minutes 1 second, 212 out of 422)
Because I had passed people in the pool, my transition area was empty when I arrived.  I pulled off my swim cap, threw down my goggles and cap, and sat down on the curb to dry my feet and pull on my shoes.  Then I stood up next to my bike and put on my sunglasses, gloves, and helmet.  Finally, I grabbed my bike by its stem, pulled it off the rack, and jogged awkwardly in my bike shoes to the mount line.  Although in hindsight there are some things I could do to speed up my transition time, it went fine for what I had planned.

Bike (40 minutes, 196 out of 422)
I was determined to continue my modest pace throughout the bike leg to save my energy for the run.  Plus, I was unfamiliar with the course and didn’t want to make a wrong turn.  Luckily, the course had volunteers and policemen at every turn to guide us and stop traffic.  It was so cool to ride without a single stop sign or traffic light!  Throughout the race, I followed my triathlete friend Eric’s advice and kept my heart rate at or under 165 beats per minute.

At about three miles I began to pass people, and I ended up in a slightly inclined straightaway that caused me to slow my pace to keep my heart rate down.  That’s when the first person passed me, a 31-year old woman who looked far less tired than I did.  We exchanged places for the rest of the bike leg, with me leading out on downhills and straightaways and her catching back up on inclines.  It was helpful to have a competitor (called a “rabbit”) to push my pace and I ended the bike leg with my fastest average speed (18 miles per hour).

Along the way I saw a 44-year-old woman who had crashed on a turn and was limping and pushing her bike.  Because I was unfamiliar with the course, two of the turns caught me by surprise as well and I had to break quickly to avoid the curb, but since the course was two loops of a 6-mile route, I slowed down the second time around.  About halfway through the ride, I ate the energy gel I had taped on my bike, and shortly after I was passed by a 61-year-old man on an incline who flew by me effortlessly and turned to wish me good luck.  I said thanks to every volunteer or cop I saw and they all seemed to appreciate it.  And the end of the second loop, I rode to the dismount line where there were a half-dozen volunteers holding up their hands and yelling for riders to stop.  I unclipped both feet, hopped off my bike, and jogged it back to the rack and my second transition (“T2”).

T2 (2 minutes 17 seconds, 339 out of 422)
I racked my bike and sat down on the curb to take off my bike shoes.  I rolled on my socks and was about to put on my shoes when I realized I had put one sock on with the heel at the top of my foot.  D’oh!  I pulled it back off my foot, turned it outside in, flipped it over, and pulled it back on.  Then I pulled on my shoes and tied them, which took longer than I would have liked.  (Next time I’ll pre-tie my shoes and just slip them on.)  I took off my helmet and tossed it down, left the sunglasses on my face, put on my visor, and started jogging towards the run exit.

Run (30 minutes 33 seconds, 266 out of 422)
Running immediately after a hard bike ride is a funny feeling.  Your legs are used to moving in controlled circles; now you’re asking them to move laterally and they don’t want to oblige.  It doesn’t hurt but it definitely feels awkward.  (Try it sometime: ride fairly hard for 30 minutes on the exercise cycle and then immediately jog on the treadmill for 15 minutes.  Be careful not to stumble!)  By the end of the first half-mile my legs felt great and my energy level was high, so I picked up my pace to 10 minutes per mile and began to pass people.  One person I passed was walking and leaning over as if he had stomach cramps, but when I passed him he looked more tired than ill.

I remembered reading that it was easy to get overheated coming off the bike in hot weather because you lose your source of natural air conditioning at the same time that you increase your effort.  So I took more advice from Eric and walked through both of the water stations, grabbing two cups of water, drinking one, and pouring the other on my head.  This helped a lot, as the first two miles was a slow incline with no shade.  My heart rate stayed above 170 beats per minute for the entire run and by the first mile I was sweating a lot.

All of the run volunteers were focused on keeping us moving, giving us words of encouragement as we passed.  But one volunteer in particular was more fired up than the rest.  She was sitting in a lawn chair on a street corner, but unlike the other volunteers, when you got about 50 yards away, she started clapping and screaming at you to keep going, pick up the pace, drop the hammer, push yourself, et cetera.  Whoa!  Maybe she was a spin instructor like Debbie?  Anyway, I thanked her for encouraging me to keep up my 10-minute pace right when I was feeling like slowing down.

After the 2-mile point, the route turned onto a path through some shady trees on a surface made of track material.  It felt great to get a break from the sun and the concrete, and after another half-mile I reached the end of the slow incline I had been on for almost the entire run route.  A volunteer there told me it was all downhill from then on, and as I turned the corner I saw the finish-line banners and picked up the pace to 8 minutes per mile.  But when I got to the base of the descent, I realized I miscalculated the route and actually had to run another quarter-mile around the fence of a park, through a gate, and across the park on a winding path to the finish line.  8 minutes per mile is a very fast pace for me, and I was tiring quickly but determined to finish without slowing down.  I saw a 12-year old boy ahead of me, and by maintaining my pace I actually passed him about 50 yards from the finish line.  Most of the crowd was cheering him on, and even though I barked, “Great race little man!” to him as I went by, I immediately became the bad guy.  I heard one man yell, “Don’t let him pass you!  Catch him!  Catch him!” but I did manage to finish ahead of him.

As I crossed the finish line some people did cheer for me (“Way to go 335!”) and two volunteers came up to me to take off my timing chip, hand me a cold water, and squeeze a wet washcloth on my neck.  That’s when I saw Joanne and Emma and jogged over to them.  Emma looked reluctant to hug me as I was breathing heavy and sweating everywhere, but I knelt down and she ran up, gave me a big hug, and then made a face and said, “Daddy, you are all wet!”

Final Result: 1 hour 22 minutes 50 seconds, 235 out of 422
Thanks to everyone who has supported me as I’ve droned on about triathlon – especially Joanne who not only had to deal with me disappearing for 90-minute runs and bike rides, but then had to suffer through all of my heart rate and GPS data on her laptop.  I have registered for the U.S. Open Triathlon on October 5th in Dallas and you’re invited to come see if I can make it across the finish line!

Milestones

  • Highest weight: 228 pounds
  • Lowest weight: 187 pounds
  • Current weight: 216 pounds
  • Started training: March 17, 2008
  • First Sprint: June 26, 2008
  • First Olympic: May 17, 2009
  • First Half: TBD 2011
  • Longest swim: 2.05 miles
  • Longest bike: 63.57 miles
  • Longest run: 13.33 miles

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