Monday, October 8, 2012

Race Report: Last Chance Tri

On October 7th, 2012 I participated in the Mattoon YMCA Last Chance Tri.  I initially signed up for this event to be another USAT Nationals qualifier, but having already qualified a few weeks ago, this race was going to be a fun race with the intention of finishing towards the top.

Here is a summary of my times:

Swim 275 yards - 0:05:11
T1                           - 0:00:38
Bike 12 mi            - 0:33:24 (21.6 mpg avg)
T2                           - 0:00:31
Run 3 mi               - 0:19:39 (6:26/mi)
Total                        0:59:23
Overall 1st/69
This is the first race that I have been the overall winner.  It was a really neat feeling being the lead racer on most of the bike and all of the run.  I have always wondered what those guys out front feel like when leading a race.  Now I know and what a feeling it was. 
Coming into this race I knew it was going to be a smaller event and really wanted to win it all.  I played this race through my head many times in the days leading up to it.  It’s funny because the way I envisioned it my head is almost exactly how it played out.  The only thing that didn’t happen was getting the fastest bike and fastest run time.  I have always heard that a key part of racing is mentally preparing yourself by visualizing in your head how you will run the race.  This mental preparation was the difference (along with my transitions).  It was a very close race as the second place gentleman finished 13 seconds behind me.

The 275 yard swim took place in the YMCA’s 25 yard pool.
This was a time trial start race with competitors jumping in the pool about every 10-15 seconds.  I was the third racer to get in.  My swim went pretty well.  Being the third in the pool I didn’t have any traffic to weave around.  I did get passed by the guy behind me who dolphin dove the entire swim. 

Once out of the pool you head directly out of a couple of doors, run around the transition area, then across the timing mat into transition.


Once in transition I was able to find my bike with ease and had a really fast transition.  They always say expect the unexpected on race day.  That was the case in T1.  When I arrived at my bike I noticed that between the time I went into the swim area and the start of the race another competitor decided to squeeze their bike and equipment next to mine.  Basically had their stuff on top of mine.  It was very frustrating and little rude.  The good thing is that it didn’t slow me down that much.  At this point in the race I was in 3rd position.


 The bike route takes you through town then out in the country.  It is an out and back  route.   There was a pretty good north/northwest breeze that day but the way the route went you weren’t going with or against the wind for extended periods. 

I past the 2nd place racer about 2 miles into the bike portion.  Then my sights were set on the leader.  I was noticing that he was taking turns kind of slow and that I was making progress on him with every incline we came to.  My strategy at this point was to power through the turns and be in position to pass him on the steep overpass.  I ended up passing him on the overpass and became the leader of the race.  This is the guy that passed me in the swim so I knew I had to distance myself in order to beat him.  Once I passed him I never looked back to see where he was. 
Since it was an out and back course I was able to gauge my distance from him when I made the turnaround.  I built a pretty lead but I also noticed another competitor was biking pretty fast.  At that point I tried to concentrate on maintaining a steady speed.

Once I got back into town I start thinking about my transition and the run.  I knew with couple of competitors pretty close to me that my transition from bike to run had to be fast and that my run had to be fast.

Really fast!  I flew off my bike at the dismount line, charged to my rack, and quickly put my running shoes on and headed out.  The difference between first and second in this race was the transitions.  Thank goodness for LOCK LACES.  Looking back, if I had bad transitions then I would have lost this race.   


The 3 mile route was basically through town on city streets and a paved bike/walking path.  It was a very flat out and back course. 

With the outdoor temperature being cool my feet were frozen after the bike.  The first half mile I could not feel my feet at all.  After the first half mile I started to feel better.

I did not want to look back to see where the competition was as I wanted to stay focused on my run.  I would gage my distance to the closest competitor at the turnaround.  About a mile into the run they had a water station and the volunteers said I have a sizable lead.  I am not sure how long sizable is but it made me feel pretty good. 

I got to the turnaround and realized that my nearest competitor was about a quarter mile behind me.  He was ever so slightly gaining on me.  I decided to keep my pace and save energy for the last half mile.  With a half mile left I quickly looked behind to see where he was then speed up to the finish.
I had a great run and was very pleased with my time.
It was really awesome to be the first person to cross the finish line.

I thought this was a great event and was well organized and directed.  There were volunteers and police at every intersection and turn.  The volunteers were energetic and supportive.

Results were posted very quickly. 

Post race food consisted of pizza and fruit.  The awards ceremony got started pretty quickly after the last person finished.  They gave awards to the overall male and female top finishers and had age group awards.  They also had awards for the fastest swim, fastest bike, and fasted run.

I would recommend this race to anyone.  It is great for the competitive triathletes or those wanting to do their first triathlon.  Great race! 
I will be doing this race again.  Since I was the top finisher I got free entry to the 2013 race so I will be there to defend my title.

It was a great way to end my 2012 triathlon season.  No more triathlons this year but I do have one more 5k left to run.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Yo Mike, It’s Gotta Be The Shoes

Most of us have seen the Michael Jordan and Spike Lee commercial where Mars Blackmon emphatically tells MJ that his greatness is because of his shoes.  No it’s the shoes (the shoes?), it’s gotta be the shoes!
Well Mars, it’s not the shoes that make one better, but the shoes can have a positive impact.
Since I have started running I have gone through several pairs of running shoes.  Shoes that have got me through long training sessions,  shoes that have left me standing at the podium collecting medals, shoes that have recorded fast run times, shoes that have had bad runs, and shoes that have had bad races.  We all know that simply putting on a specific pair of shoes will not make you run faster or jump higher, but having the right shoes can make a difference in your overall comfort which could lead to more enjoyable experience. 
 Now, what if your shoes have a little flair and a little cosmetic pop to them?  Can that make you faster or better?  From a physical point of view the answer is no.  From a mental point of view I think it could provide that little extra confidence in a person.  I have been known to say that I prefer performance over fashion.  As I stared at my pile of shoes I noticed that with each pair I get there is a little more snap to them in terms of which color of LOCK LACES I choose or the color of the shoes themselves. 
 I don’t know why my running shoes' cosmetic appearance has changed from the run of the mill look to a more snazzy appearance.  Maybe, it’s to be different, maybe it’s to standout from the crowd, or maybe it does make me go faster.  When I switched from Brooks running shoes to Saucony running shoes in April I it was purely for comfort and performance.  Although I loved Brooks shoes my running style changed and I needed a different shoe with a 8mm heal-toe offset so that is how I landed with the Saucony Guide 5. 
What, they have blue shoes?  Sweet now I’ll just get some green LOCK LACES to compliment the blue.  It is out of my box to stand out and be different.  I generally like to blend in, do my thing, and go home.  This new look of running shoes was a change for me.  Not only were these blue shoes (with green laces) different from the crowd they for some reason gave me a little extra confidence.  That confidence drove me to being more mentally engaged in my training runs and races. 

So when the blue shoes were worn out it was time to get a new pair.  I knew I wanted the exact same shoe but the choice came down to color.  I had a few different options, including the same blue pair, but I went with Saucony’s new color ViZiPRO Orange/Citron/Blue.  Whoa these puppies are bright and there is no doubt these shoes present a little pop.  As always, I changed out the supplied shoes laces with a pair of green LOCK LACES.  As the running/triathlon season comes to a close and I head into a lighter winter training schedule it is hard to keep the motivation up.  Once I got my new shoes I was re-energized and motivated to not get into that late season slump. 

Yo Mars, maybe it is the shoes!

I mentioned LOCK LACES a few times in this post and they are on all of my shoes in the picture at the top.  This is a great product for any triathlete or runner.  You never have to worry about whether or not you tie your laces too loose or too tight and you never have to worry about them coming untied.  It’s a perfect fit run after run.  Another bonus is that they will save you precious seconds in Transition 2. Visit their website to learn more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Tri The Illini

1st Place Age Group Award
On September 23, 2012 I participated in the 5th Annual Tri The Illini triathlon.  An event hosted by the Fighting Illini Triathlon Club which is also the official triathlon club of the University of Illinois.  It was fun to come back to this race having done it last year.  It is one of my favorite races because it is close to home, it is well organized, and the course is nice. 

Since I accomplished my goal of qualifying for the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship race at last weekend’s race I had a slightly different mindset going into this race.  My main objectives were to place in my age group and try to run a sub 20 minute 5k off the bike.  I was also hoping for a strong bike with an average 23mph.  My week leading up to this race primarily consisted of run workouts, one swim workout, and no bike workouts.

Since this is basically a hometown race my family was able to come watch the race.  Triathlon is not the best spectator sport and can be boring to watch in person as you can't see your triathlete all the time.  My family doesn’t get to see a lot of my events due to early start times and travel.  I really appreciate my wife being there and dragging my kids out of bed so they could be there too.  Even my in-laws made it.

Here is a summary of my times:

Swim 300M - 0:05:42*
T1                    - 0:01:45
Bike 14.5 mi - 0:40:11 (21.6 mpg avg)
T2                    - 0:01:00
Run 5k           - 0:19:50 (6:24/mi)
Total                 1:08:28

Age Group 2/27 (awarded 1st)
Overall 6/363
*The official swim time was 6:28 but that includes the very long trek to the timing mat.  I stopped my watch just after exiting the pool.
It was a great race as I beat last year’s time by 4 minutes, ran a sub 20 minute 5k off the bike, and had an ok bike
Temperature at race start 39 degrees.


The 300 meter swim took place in the 50M ARC outdoor pool at the U of I.  The pool was heated.
Everyone was lined up by your race number which was based on your estimated swim time when you registered.  Participants were sent off every 5 seconds.  The race director and volunteers were pretty adamant about going off based on your race number.  This was good.  I never got passed and I did a lot of passing of others.  Apparently I need to fib more on my swim time at these time trial starts.  I passed one guy in the first 50 meters and he drafted me the rest of the way.  I know he was drafting because he was constantly touching my feet.  I tried to move over in the lane but he kept following.  I really wanted to slow down a bit in hopes that my kick would hit him where it hurts.  However, having unsportsmanlike conduct and letting someone else dictate my race are two things I try to avoid.
Once out of the pool you run up a flight of stairs and do some more running to the adjacent parking lot where transition was located and where the timing mat was located.


Besides the shock of being wet with temps in the 30's, T1 was uneventful.  Everything went smoothly.  Mounted bike good and got up to speed quickly heading south with a slight tailwind.


The bike route takes you south of campus and back.  The first half of the 14.5 miles was with a tailwind.  The tailwind and the sun helped me dry out quickly.  By mile 2 I was completely dry and averaging over 25mph with the tailwind. 

After the turnaround at mile 7.25 the trip back to campus would be with a head wind.  I think I averaged around 18-20mph or so on the way back.  Lost some time on the last 7.25 miles which resulted in my overall mph average being below my anticipated 23mph average.

The course was generally flat. There were a couple of decent hills just before the turnaround.  All large pot holes and bumps in the road were clearly marked and the volunteers did a great job in letting us know of the hazards.  All intersections were manned by police and volunteers.

I got passed only once and I did a lot passing.  The guy that passed me was the one drafting me in the pool.

Again, pretty uneventful. 


The 5k run took you through the U of I campus.  It was a really enjoyable, relaxing, and scenic run.  There were a lot of turns but they were clearly marked and every turn had a volunteer pointing where to go.

As I started the run I couldn’t feel my feet due to the cool temperatures and being wet on the bike.  After a half mile into the run I was able to a least feel my feet again. 
I really had no game plan for this run except that I wanted to run it as hard as I could.  I started fast and was able to keep a consistent pace throughout the run.  My triathlon bike has made a huge difference in my run.  My legs feel 10 times better coming off the tri bike than I experienced coming off my road bike.

I was able to pick off runners one by one which really kept me focused. I even blew by the dude drafting me in the pool.   Around mile 2.5 my mind was trying to shut my legs down, but I won that mental battle and increased my speed to the finish.

I was able to finally get under a 20 minute 5k run off the bike.  It felt really good to do that.  After a slightly disappointing bike I was thrilled to end the race with a strong run.   

This was a great event, I highly recommend it, and will likely do it again next year. 

The race was well organized and had tons of volunteers.  The volunteers were very helpful and encouraging.  Great job volunteers!! 

Race results were posted in a timely manner and the awards ceremony was done shortly after the last participant had finished. 

Post race food was good.

Race swag consisted of the usual coupons & advertisements from sponsors, nutritional samples, and a very nice event tech t-shirt.  The overall and age group
awards were a drinking glass with the event logo on it.  It’s a little different than other races where they handout medals.  I personally like the medals that are unique and actually have your place and age group on them. 

Good swim venue, good bike route, and a great run route through campus.  Great event!

I’ve got one more triathlon and one more 5k planned for 2012. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Fishers Area Sprint Triathlon

On Sunday September 16th, 2012 I participated in the Fishers Area  Sprint Triathlon (F.A.S.T) in Fishers, Indiana.   It is a 500 meter swim, 10 mile bike, and a 3 mile run.  This is an event I did last year so I was looking forward to seeing how I have improved.  My goals were to finish in under one hour, place in the top 3 in my age group, and qualify for the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship race.  I am happy to report that all three of these goals were achieved.

Race Summary
Swim:                 10:00
Transition 1:       0:53
Bike:                   27:47 (22.5 mph avg)
Transition 2:       0:52
Run:                    20:08 (6:44/mi avg)
Total Time:   0:59:41
Overall Place:   11 /314
Age Group:      2/21 
The company that did the timing this year was different than in years past.  Planet Adventure was in charge of the post race entertainment and official timing.  There was a lot of confusion with the final results as they changed several times.  There was an issue with the race chips transmitting in the pool area.  They completed a thorough review of the times with their backup system and got everything corrected.  It was a bit frustrating to have to wait for this but I appreciate Planet Adventure taking the time to make sure everything was correct.  The official times now match what my watch said. 

The day before the race I stayed at my older brother's house again which is great because his house was only 15 minutes from the race site.
I was one of the first few to arrive at the race site.  Once I got my packet picked up I began to setup my transition area and did my usual warm up routine.  I headed inside the high school where they were staging the participants to be taken to the pool in groups of 50.  Your race number was the order you started.  The race numbers were based on your estimated 100M swim time when you registered.

Finally my number was called and I headed off to the pool.  As you walk into the pool area you walk in front of the stands where spectators where sitting.  It was fun to look up and see my family there. 

The Swim (500M - 0:10:00)

It's a time trial start and athletes are sent off every five seconds.  Last year I swam this in 11:20.

The swim was 500M in the 50M indoor pool at the high school.  Congestion was  somewhat of an issue on some of the laps although it was better than last year as I believe I seeded myself better.
I felt great in the pool.  Maybe because I didn't push as hard as I should have.  My practice time trials at this distance have in the low 9 minute range.  Anytime you can take over a minute off your previous in one leg of the race it's not too bad.

At the end of the swim I climbed out of the pool and exited the pool area through the door leading to the outside.  The transition area was about 20 yards from the pool building.

Transition #1 (0:00:53)

Transition # 1 was pretty uneventful.  I felt like it went fast and it was.  It was my fastest swim to bike transition.  I didn't bother drying off and just threw my shoes, helmet, and sunglasses on and headed out to the bike course.  I tried to do something different this race and that was to wear my watch the entire time rather than taking it off my wrist and putting in on my bike.  I believe this saved me a few seconds.

Bike-10 miles (0:27:47 - 22.5 mph avg)

Once across the timing mat I mounted the bike with no issues and got up to speed good. 

The conditions were good.  The wind was generally light and the course was flat with a few inclines.  The only issue I saw on the course was some broken glass.  I was able to maneuver around it on the first lap and totally avoided it on the second lap.

Once I got up to speed I settled into my aero bars and hammered on.  My goal was to average 23mph and I came close (22.5mph).

The course was setup in a way that a mile from the school there was a 4 mile loop you did twice then headed back to the school to get the 10 mile distance.  

I never got passed and I did a lot of passing.

Once back at the school I had a good dismount heading into transition for the run. 

Transition #2 (0:00:52)

Pretty fast. 

Run - 3 miles (0:20:08 -6:44/mi avg)

I improved this run by 9 seconds from last year when my run time was 20:14. 
The run route was relatively flat.  The first mile was on the sidewalk (run/walk path) and it had a steady incline most of the way.  The second mile winded through a subdivision that was pretty flat.  Then the third mile was in the subdivision then around and behind the high school. 

There were two water stations on the course.  One right out of transition and the other about halfway through the course.  It would have been nice if the volunteers were actually holding the water for us.  It is much easier to grab that way.  Trying to grab a cup off a table while running fast is hard.  I took out an entire row of water on that table and a drop never made it to my mouth.

I was pleased with my run but I was hoping to average closer to 6:30 miles.


This race was well ran and organized.  Planet Adventure did a nice job with the finish line entertainment and commentary.  Live results were available on screens for participants to view after they finished.  The accuracy of those times and rankings initially were debatable, but they ended up getting them right in the end.  The awards ceremony was held near the finish line which was a lot better than in the gym like it was last year. 

The post race food had a wide variety of hot and cold foods and various types of drinks including my favorite, chocolate milk.

For the most part the volunteers did a wonderful job in directing the athletes on all corners of the bike and run routes and were energetic and supportive.  My only recommendation is that they all wear similar shirts.  It was hard to tell who was who was suppose to be directing traffic.

Great event, great race!  Yes, I would do this event again.

I am very happy that I have qualified for the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship race.  It takes a lot of pressure off my final two races for this year.  Now I just have to wait and see where Nationals will be held in 2013.

Other Pics:

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Goals

The best way to achieve your goals and aspirations is to put them in writing and then share them with others.  I am a firm believer that if you share your goals with others it not only holds you accountable, but also invites support from those around you.  I have many goals for different parts of my life.  There are the family life goals, the financial goals, the spiritual goals, and the career goals.  Although those are very important to your life balance I will not dive into those goals here.  Instead, I would like to share with you my goals and aspirations and it relates to my fitness and racing. 
Some of these goals are broad and some are specific, but in the end they are attainable and in touch with reality.  I am getting older but I feel I am getting better.  Age should not be an excuse to marginalize your goals.  I want to be that 75 year old guy that I see at races that is still out there pounding the pavement and loving life.
These goals are as of September 2012 looking forward (updated May 2013). 
1.       Run a half marathon in 90 minutes (best time is 1:32:23)
2.       Run a 5k in under 19 minutes (best time is 19:25)
3.       Qualify for USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship race every year
4.       Actually race in the USAT National Championship race at least once
5.       Complete a marathon (COMPLETED APRIL 2013)
6.       Complete a half ironman race
7.       Complete a full ironman race
8.       Give back

Number eight is something I think about every now and then and wonder how I could give back to the sport of triathlon or how to give back to one of the three disciplines (swimming, cycling, and running).  There are a number of ways to give back to the sport through volunteering at events, introducing a younger generation to the sport, being a mentor, or being a coach.  I continue to think of ways to achieve this goal and hope that I can find a way to do that.
Triathlon is a sport that is results oriented.  However, there is much more beyond the results.  Completing a triathlon or an endurance event (at any distance or discipline) is very rewarding.  Between your first training session and the moment you cross the finish line there are a lot of setbacks, bad training days, physical & mental exhaustion, thoughts of doubt, and a lot of sacrifice to other parts of your life.  We keep chugging along because we know the rewarding feeling experienced when crossing that finish line.  That feeling that gives us a lot more than we could have ever imagined.  That feeling is really hard to explain and that is why I would like to help others experience that too.
No matter what you do always keep striving for more.  You don’t have to be the fastest or take home all the awards.  The main point is to get out there and do something.  Be your own hero.  It’s hard and it is a lifestyle change.  However, it’s a change that could change your life.  You will be amazed of what you can accomplish if you just stick with it.

Train.  Race.  Repeat.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Mahomet 5k

On Saturday August 18th , 2012 I ran in the 17th annual Mahomet Area Youth Club 5k.  This is a hometown race for me and it is a challenging yet fun event.  Being a hometown event it is nice because you know and see a lot of familiar faces.
Race day couldn’t have been better as the temperature was in the low 50’s with no humidity.  This was probably coolest it has ever been for this event.  Usually it is hot and humid this time of year.  It is also nice to not have to drive to a race.  Just rolled out of bed and my warm up run was the mile to the start line. 

Time: 19:25 (Personal Best)
Overall Finish: 12/450
Age Group Finish: 1/16

This was my second time running this 5k and my goal was to run it in under 20 minutes.  Last year I ran this race in 20:23.  The course is slightly challenging.  The first mile or so is downhill to flat, the second and third mile include about every hill Mahomet has, then you finish with a lap around the high school track.

To get a sub 20 minute time I knew I would have to conquer the Turkey Farm Road and State Street portion of the race.  This is the part of the race that is primarily uphill with rolling hills.  I run these roads all the time, but I have trouble maintaining a good pace on this stretch of road and it is a mental barrier to me.

This is the first run race that I had a specific game plan for.  I broke the race down into 3 sections or checkpoints.  To get under 20 minutes I knew I had to be at those checkpoints at a certain watch time.  I wrote what my watch time needed to be at these checkpoints on my hand before the race.  This would either mentally defeat me or really motivate me. 

I ran the first mile at a really fast pace of 5:54 which is faster than I really wanted to.  Shortly after the first mile, and before the uphill portion began, I started to slow down just a bit.  That is when a 13 year old, who I know and we always finish close to each other said, “come on man we got this, let’s go”.  I was thought to myself, “that’s great man see you at the finish you go get it”.  After that split second thought I was like alright man here we go.  I hit my first checkpoint faster than planned which was very motivating.

The hardest part of the race for me was just around the corner.  A mental battle that had to be won today.  With the first checkpoint successfully completed I tried to keep focus by picking off runners that were doing the half marathon ahead of me.  This kept me mentally focused.  Made up Turkey Farm road at a fast pace. 

Then State Street.  I run on this road everyday and I cuss it every time.  It’s a street that brings down my average on every single run.  There were two hills in front of me before I got to my next checkpoint.  Knowing if my time is below the 2nd checkpoint time I would have a great chance to get a sub 20 minute time.  Bam, I am ahead of schedule!  Take that State Street.  Today I beat you.  There were was one more hill after my checkpoint but it wasn’t that bad. 

My final checkpoint was at the gate where you run into the track at the high school.  Looked at my watch and was still ahead of my expected time.  In fact, at that moment, I realized that I have a chance to get a personal best 5k time.  Onward I went for  the last 400 meters in a dead sprint.

 Stopped the watch and it read 19:25 and I was pretty pumped up about it.  My previous 5k record was 19:31 on a very flat course.  So to get a personal best at this race that was a little more challenging is  awesome.

This is a great race that seems to grow every year.  It is well organized, well executed, and supported by the community.  Race swag included an event t-shirt and other various items from the sponsors.  After the race there was plenty of water, Gatorade, and numerous food options.  There was a DJ playing music near the finish line which is nice.  Results and awards were done in a timely fashion.

A great hometown race for this homeboy.  Mission accomplished.

Two more missions to go for this year.  First is to qualify for the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship Race and run a sub 20 minute 5k at the Run For The Library in November. 

Train.  Race.  Repeat

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Race Report: Tri Indy 2012 Olympic Distance

My first Olympic distance triathlon with a unique venue.  On August 5th, 2012 I ventured away from my normal sprint distance races and did Tri Indy Olympic distance triathlon.  This was my longest triathlon to date and the race was a success as I beat my goal time by nearly 4 minutes.

This triathlon is a 1500 meter open water swim, 24.85 mile bike, and a 6.21 mile run.  The venue took place in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.  It was definitely a unique venue with the swim being in the canal, the race site in downtown, and the bike and run through the city.  The main race site area was located in the White River State Park in front of the NCAA Hall of Champions in the shadow of the downtown Indy skyline.  The race was delayed by 30 minutes.  About 5:30 that morning a big storm pushed through the area with a lot of lightning and heavy rain.

Race Summary
Since I have never done an Olympic distance triathlon there was no personal record to beat.  My goal was to finish in 2:30:00 which was estimated on how my performances and training rides have been during the past 30 days leading up to this race.  Here are my official times:

Swim:               31:54
Transition 1:       1:30
Bike:              1:05:12 (22.9mph avg)
Transition 2:       1:47
Run:                 46:17 (7:27/mi avg)
Total Time: 2:26:39

Overall Place: 65/430
Age Group:      15/50

The Swim
The swim takes place in the four feet deep  canal in downtown.  After I got my transition all setup I made the 1 mile walk up to the swim start.  The canal area was really nice and made the walk enjoyable.  Every once and a while on my walk I wondered how “clean” this canal really is.  I was assured the canal was clean and safe to swim in.  I would again have the same thought after the swim when I noticed my swim cap changed colors.  As of today, I haven’t grown a sixth toe or anything so I think I am ok.
Once I got to the start area I did a little stretching and got in the canal for a quick and short warm up.  It was a time trial start with racers going off about every 2-3 seconds.  The bottom of the canal had a lot of little rocks on it which made for an interesting landing when my heel landed on one.  Ouch! 
I was able to get up to speed and maintain a steady pace throughout the swim.  Sighting wasn’t difficult as I used the canal walls to be my guide.  With this canal swim your friends and family can practically walk the swim with you.  It was definitely nice and encouraging when you came up for air to see your family right there cheering you on.  I never really encountered a lot of congestion.  There was some traffic I had to fight through but it wasn’t that bad.
Overall, I was happy with my swim.  It was nearly 3 minutes slower than what I do 1500 meters in the pool, but that’s expected.

Transition #1
 Once out of the canal there is a short run to transition.  You were assigned racks by your race number.  The rack I was in was in a decent location.  I got there early enough that I was able to get on the end.  I was able to get my bike shoes and helmet on pretty fast and was on my way out to the bike course.  Since I put my bike shoes on in transition I had to weave around the transition area in an effort not to get mud all in my cleats from the heavy rain 2 hours prior.

The Bike
The bike course was flat with some nice paved portions and some areas with small pot holes and cracks.  The course is a two loop course which takes you over railroad tracks in each loop.  The first railroad track was a real issue.  The organizers had mats covering the tracks and a volunteer there warning you to slow down.  The issue was that with the rain before the race the mats were wet and slippery.  On both of my loops there was a wipe out by at least one racer.  The second railroad track wasn’t much of an issue.
There was a part of the course that was kind of rough.  I think it was the stretch between mile 5 and mile 8 (loop 1) and mile 17 to mile 20 (loop 2).  From what I remember it was the area around the golf course.  There was a lot of potholes and cracks in the pavement.  It was a very bumpy ride.  I was pretty fortunate to make it the entire bike portion without any issues.  There was a lot of racers that were on the side of the road fixing flat tires.  Except for this stretch of the race I thought the bike route was pretty good.  There were a lot of turns but there were great volunteers and police at every turn and intersection.  For a urban bike route I think everyone did a nice job.
This was my first race with my new tri bike that I got a week before the race.  I was excited to see how it would do in race conditions.  I had my highest mph average to date.  I felt very good and controlled on the bike.  I was able to maintain a steady pace on my tri bike than I ever have on my road bike.  The turns and avoiding a couple of wrecks brought down my average a bit but I was really pleased with how my bike portion went. 
One cool part is the end of the bike route coming back to transition.  There were a lot of spectators lining the shoot which was pretty cool.
 Transition #2
 T2 didn’t go anywhere near as I planned it to.  It started when I tried to rack my bike.  From the time I left on my bike and when I got back one of my rack mates screwed up the entire rack.  My first attempt to rack my bike resulted in the entire rack practically falling over.  Keep in mind there were a few other bikes on the rack as well.  So I got the rack back up and tried again.  Complete fell again.  Then I figured out that the A-frame portion of the rack wasn’t in the correct position so I fixed it and successfully racked my bike.  By this time I was beyond flustered and a little pissed off.  I got my running shoes on and headed out to the run.  Just as I left transition I reached to push the lap button on my watch and realized my watch was still on my bike.  The issues from the wobbly rack distracted me enough that I didn’t grab my watch. 

The Run
I always run with my watch.  It tells me my current pace which really helps stay focused.  When I run without a watch I tend to slack off slightly.  With no watch and 6.21 miles to run I had to do it based on feel.
The run is a two loop course.  It was a nice and scenic run that took you behind the zoo and around the river.  The temperature was pretty good but the humidity could be felt on the run. 
I felt slow the entire run.  I kept thinking about my watch that was back in T2 ticking away and how I wish I had it.  I didn’t know if I was running 7 minutes miles or 9 minute miles.  After the first couple of miles I settled into a pretty rhythm and pace.  Since I was running based on how I felt I had to go back to my 5 mile run I did two days prior that I ran at a 7:25 average.  Since that training run was still fresh in my mind I was able remember how I felt during that run and was able to mimic that same pace in this race.  It was my only option. 
I knew this run wasn’t going to be at a 5k pace and was happy with finding a good and steady pace.  I was wanting to average 7:15 per mile, but with watch issue I was pleased with how I finished the run.

From packet pick up to crossing the finish the line I thought this event was well organized.  Volunteers were encouraging. 
Race swag included a cotton event shirt and a finisher medal.
The results were posted in a timely fashion and there was a lot of post race entertainment, refreshments, and food.  I particularly liked the chocolate milk that is served after the race.
The event site appeared to be spectator friendly.  While participants were on the bike and run there appeared to be a lot of things happening in and around the transition area to keep spectators entertained. 
It was nice that my parents and my younger brother with his family were able to come out to support and watch me.  Seeing a familiar face or hearing a familiar voice on race day can make a huge difference. 
I would definitely recommend this race to anyone. 

Train.  Race.  Repeat.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Race Report: Decatur Triathlon

On July 8th I raced in the 2012 Rodney T. Miller Decatur Triathlon.  A great event that honored a guy who put his life on the line everyday protecting citizens.

This triathlon is a 1200 meter open water swim, 19 mile bike, and a 4.5 mile run.  I have done many triathlons, but this race would be my longest one so far.  I was a little nervous because I didn't know how the race would go and I didn't know how I would pace myself in a longer race.  The reason I signed up for this race was because it was a step up from the sprint triathlons and would be a good learning race as I get closer to competing in Olympic distance triathlons and half Ironman. The field was stacked with some fast racers.  In the end, I learned a lot about doing a longer distance triathlon and had fun at the same time.
Race Summary

Swim:                 29:37
Transition 1:          0:55
Bike:                   55:22 (20.6mph avg)
Transition 2:          0:51
Run:                    34:28 (7:40/mi avg)
Total Time:    2:01:14

Overall Place: 27/112
Age Group:      7/14

The Swim

It was another open water swim.  My open water swims to date have not been that stellar.  The furthest I have swam in open water thus far was 500 meters.  So doing 1200 meters looked intimidating as the swim course looked huge from the shore.  Before we started my goal was to swim this longer distance at a steady pace and practice my sighting.  I projected my swim time based on what I have done in previous open water swims and I finished the swim within my target range of time.  My swim time including the long run from the lake to transition.  I was not real excited about my time but was happy I didn't completely suck on the swim.  I know I can swim a lot faster, but between getting punched in the face, my goggles leaking, and going slightly off course once, I learned a few things about open water swimming.

Transition #1

Once out of the lake you run about 100 yards or so to transition.  I found my bike with ease and was on my way out of transition and onto the bike course.

The Bike

The bike course was generally flat with a few hills and lots of turns.  Right out of transition you have to climb a pretty decent hill, but after that it was a lot of up and down hills and turns.  The course eventually straightened out but we had a headwind all the way to the turnaround.  After the turnaround the ride bike to transition was fast and exiting.

Volunteers and police did an excellent job with directing racers and also blocking traffic.  The streets and the corners were very clean.  

It was a really nice bike course that had enough hills to keep everyone honest.  I was pleased with my bike time because once off the bike I knew I was within reach of getting my goal race time of less than 2 hours.

Transition #2

When you come back to transition from the bike you come down a big hill.  You have a lot of speed and have to get your bike under control.  I did pretty well dismounting and finding my bike.

The Run

The run was hot.  The 2 weeks prior leading up to this race temperatures were close to 100 degrees everyday.  I did not have my normal run routine in these two weeks.  Race day was a little cooler but it did not feel like it on the run.  The course was generally flat but there were a few little hills along the way that made it a challenge.  Since this was my longest run in a triathlon I wanted to come out of the gate with a steady pace and pick it up the last two miles.  Sounded like a good plan at the time.  I was consistently slow the entire run.  I tried to go faster, but I just could maintain a fast pace.  The lack of running in the weeks prior coupled with the heat are the main reasons for a slow run.  A lot of mental battles were won on this run.  There were a few times I just wanted to stop, but I kept going.  About halfway through the run I knew I wouldn't reach my goal time, but I had to stay focused.  Thankfully there were some other competitors to chase.

I wasn't real happy with my run and lost a few age group positions because of the run.  However, I know what I need to do to get back to my sub 7min/mi pace.     


This race was well organized and competitive.  The volunteers were excellent and encouraging.  For my first longer distance triathlon I believe it was a success.  Though I didn't place in my age group it was a beneficial race as a lot of lessons were learned in doing longer events.

The 2013 schedule may not permit me to do this race next year as I plan to do Muncie Half Ironman, but I look forward to doing this race again in the future.

Train.  Race.  Repeat.