Monday, June 25, 2007

Summitriathlon (Who's idea was this????)

Sunday morning on the 24th of June, 2007 and my alarm clock wakes me at 4:45 a.m. for my first triathlon. I push snooze and go back to sleep. At around 5:45 a.m. I awaken with the realization that I need to get my ass in gear and get over to the race. I start the coffee. While the coffee is brewing I lube Amaterasu. She was degreased the night before. I get dressed and load the car. I look around the kitchen for something to eat and there is absolutely nothing. I planned on picking up a bagel on the way to the race, but since I slept until almost 6 o'clock I don't have time. Transition opens at 6:00. The elite wave start is at 7:00. Gotta go. I grab an extra gel (nice freakin' breakfast) and head out the door.

Since the race took place only a few miles away I arrived quickly and with plenty of time before the start, although I really wished I'd have gotten at least a bagel. I racked my bike, set up my transition and talked with Paulie and Julia in between trips to the latrine and back to my transition to look everything over. Got body marked. Looked at my transition set-up again....and again.
I was glad when the elite wave started because I was tired of obsessing over my transition set-up. A few minutes before my wave's start I got in the water for a brief warm-up. The water felt great, warmer than the air. Paulie and I made our way towards the starting line in the chest deep water. Many thanks to Julia, Paulie's wife, for the pics, her impromptu volunteering, and picking up my race packet.

I lined up for my first competitive swim near the front. There was probably 30 or 40 folks in my wave. I shivered in the crisp morning air waiting for the horn. And we were off. I kept my eyes above the water for much of the start, because I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea of kicking feet near my head. My hands got kicked a few times. I kicked a few hands. The course was an out and back in the lake, around 460 yards. Halfway down the pack started to thin out. At the buoy we had to swim under the lane line that was still in place and swim back in the lap lane. I dove under the lane line and when I came up my heartrate jumped and I was looking for oxygen. I flipped on my back for a few seconds and continued to kick hard while taking in as much oxygen as possible. When I flipped back over things were better. Nobody passed me whilst on my back. Around the 300M mark I started to warm up. I felt really good. Everything was under control. Long smooth strokes. Then we hit the shore. I got out of the water towards the front of my wave. Suprise, Suprise....

T1 went smoothly. Dried my face and feet, grabbed essentials and was off. The bike course was rolling hills with quite a few turns, all at the beginning and end of the loop, and a long, straight, hilly section in the middle. My cadence pickup wasn't working, the only thing I was really concerned about on my computer, but I continued to try and spin a high cadence and forget about it. I took an Espresso Love GU gel halfway through the bike. I rose out of the saddle to crest many of the rollers in order than I could keep my momentum up. I started passing folks from earlier waves here, and I got passed by a couple folks here. On the back half of the loop I was dueling a bit with a young chap not in my age group. He was 22, will never be in my age group, and he'd pass me on the downhills or flats and then I'd take him on the climbs. OK, they weren't really climbs, lets say I'd pass him on the uphills. I felt o.k. about passing him on the uphills because my HR was staying down. Finally with a couple miles left in the bike portion I put him down and didn't see him again....on the bike. 11 mile bike portion in about 35 minutes with a 19.9 mph average pace.

Came into T2 feeling ok. Didn't feel really strong today on the bike, but no major problems. T2 went smooth. Shoes, hat, racebelt....go! A group of very young volunteers gave us water upon entering the run course and I took a cup to pour on the back of my neck and it felt great. I noticed as I was trying to settle into my run pace for this 5K that I felt a little....funny. My legs were a bit heavy, sure....but something else was off and I wasn't sure what...yet. I've done quite a few bike to run transition runs and did a duathlon last year so I thought I knew what to expect out of T2. Ha! right.

As I approached the half mile mark of the 5K run portion I noticed I was feeling a bit queasy. I had to slow my pace a bit as my body was telling me to slow down. I slowed a bit, then on the uphill portion of the run (the run was a bit hilly) big problems began. I felt a side stich coming on. I never get side stiches, but one was coming. It came fast and I continued to slow my pace. Got passed by one or 2 runners. The pain got worse and I kept slowing. The slow pace wasn't helping and the stitch kept getting more painful. So I started to walk and try and stretch. Never have I walked in a race, until today. I was suffering with this side stitch and I still had a couple miles to go. Whilst walking I got passed by a few people and I was trying to stretch my side out. Then, a woman running past me looked over and said "C'mon, you can do it. Just a bit more to go." Well, I kept walking for a few paces and thought I'd try to run slowly. My right side was still hurting, but she was right. I just wanted to get to the finish line. I was running very, very slowly. I got passed by the 22 year old cat that I was leapfrogging on the bike. Those in my wave that were passing me were putting space between us quickly, because I was CRAWLING along.

Then, around the 2 mile mark things started to get better. I was no longer in pain, just uncomfortable.
So, I picked up my pace a bit. I quit getting passed. I kept it here until about the last half mile when I picked it up in hopes I might see someone in my age group that had passed me while I was walking. Nope. My legs were feeling fresh as I approached the finish line from most of the run being taken at such a slow pace. I crossed the finish line at 1:07:??, good for fourth in my AG. For most of the run I was in pain. I attributed all of this to nutrition. I know what a bike to run transition should feel like and that wasn't it. I knew no breakfast was a bad idea, but I didn't think I would be subjected to pain and suffering because of it. Live and Learn. It was my first tri and what kind of experience would it have been if something didn't go wrong?

What does a rational person do after waking up at sunrise on a Sunday morning and inflicting pain upon themselves so that they can evaluate themselves against a clock? Register for the NCN Summer Triathlon on July 8th. Another sprint with a swim in Lake Erie. I've gotta see how I feel on the run if I eat breakfast.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Sun Sets on the Solstice....

I headed out to Emidio & Son's here in Cuyahoga Falls for a late night plate of homemade rigatoni. Looking out of the windshield of my trusty vehicle towards the western sky I noticed that it was still pale blue, not much darker than the midday 9:45 p.m. A visual reminder that I have just lived through the longest day of 2007. It is summer, the time of the sun, and I welcome this summer with open arms. I welcome those rays of light that make it through the holes in our ozone layer to warm me from the outside in. It has been a tough spring in many ways, although I am excited about all of the new beginnings that occupied my spring of '07.
My first triathlon season, my first swim in the Great Lake Erie, preperation for my first century with Amaterasu, my first year spending any significant time in Cleveland, and my first semester at CSU. This spring brought me to the end of the road at a couple of places where I had difficulty accepting the fact that those roads had ended. Today; the solstice, I am ever aware that there are new beginnings, new roads to travel to replace those old familiar paths. Welcome Sun!!!

The midday summer sun hung over me today at A.J. Rocco's in downtown Cleveland where I finally had the chance to meet Charlie, although because of bloggerland it seemed as if I had run into an old friend. He works at this fine establishment which offers good coffee, good food, good beer, and good company. If you are in downtown Cleveland near Jacob's field or the Q stop in, request some Grateful Dead for the radio (if you are so inclined), and enjoy the food, drink, and bicycle parking lot on the sidewalk out front.

Speaking of Jacob's field and sunshine, the Indians will be the first team in the American League to harness a portion of it's power for the stadium from the sun, once it's solar energy project is completed. The panels will be visible from I-77 and I-71 whilst passing by downtown. Don't you love Cleveland?

I love Cleveland. I love the sun. I love meeting new friends. I love good food and good coffee. I love sleep....and it's calling.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sprint 411

Any Nextel/Sprint customers besides myself out there? They've got their Sprint 411, and this is MY sprint 411....

I've been really busy with work over the last week. Not much time for blogging, after work and training. Last weekend was busy. Saturday I woke and headed out to the Jim Klett Memorial 10K. What a beautiful race course along the bottom of the Cuyahoga Valley, over the Everett Covered Bridge and past Hale Farm. This was my first 10K, I guess; although I ran a 10K leg in the Akron Marathon last year. I felt good for this run, reeled in a few runners over the last mile and a half of rolling hills, and PR'd with a 42:18. Since this was my first run over 5 miles since my calf strain I planned on going pretty easy.....which I can have a difficult time with. I went a little harder than I had planned seeing how my first tri is this weekend but have recovered well this week. Saturday night I HAD to spin over to Todd's house to ride out with him on his new (to him) Fuji road bike's innagural ride. We took a nice spin from Highland Square down to the bottom of the valley and back up to the square. Total on the bike that eve was 25 easy spinning miles.

Sunday called for a nice, easy and somewhat long spin on the bike. So I headed out to Portage County on the Bike and Hike trail, did a loop on the country roads and spun back. Total for Sunday was 42 miles....easy, and I felt fine. I got off the bike, reached for the buckle on my shoes and OUCH!!!! SHOOTING PAIN UP MY BACK!!! I have had back problems for the better part of my life and thus far have been doing pretty well to give my back enough love since I've begun running and cycling. My back was sore for the rest of the evening and next day but was not spasming, so I decided to go on with my Monday workout....

Which was my first open water swim in Lake Erie. The tri club put together a wonderful newbies open water swim out on the West side (with accompanying dinner afterwards, thanks Sara!!!) and I got the feel for swimming in the lake. The water was VERY calm and clear. I could see the moss covered ivy on the floor, no matter the depth. Gotta love watching fish swim under you during your workout!!! The lake temperature was perfect, probably near the mid 70's. No back spasm's in the lake....thank goodness. I didn't drown, and I realized that I enjoy open water much, much better than the indoor pool. A visit to my chiropractor yesterday for a little help setting things straight and now I'm feeling almost back (no pun) to normal for my lunchtime swim @ Monroe Falls and evening spin with New Vision Cycling (my first with the group). Then.....

a mini-taper for my first triathlon, this Sunday. The purpose of this blog; my sprint 411. I'll be competing in the sprint distance at the Summitriathlon @ Monroe Falls metro park. 500M swim. 11M bike. 5K run. I hope to be under 1:10 and will be pretty dang happy if I break 1:05. I'll finally learn if I'm as slow of a swimmer as I think I am on Sunday. Good thing my run times keep improving.....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Turn the cranks. Look around...

What a nice afternoon!!! Amaterasu is being fixed up a bit so I headed out after work on my yet to be named specialized hybrid. It's my city bike/commuter...set up with rear rack for lugging things. I spun it over to my LBS to check on Amaterasu, then down to the towpath heading south into Akron. Multi-use trails are not my favorite way to travel, but the towpath is as nice as they come. Well, after the rain I have to say that the limestone surface of the trail gunks everything up a bit. I now have this white dusty paste on my water bottles and drive train. Other than that it's a pretty nice way to travel. It will be great when the towpath is connected all the way to New Philadelphia. I rode into downtown Akron, past the pubs and ballpark, then back to out the north side of the city into Cuyahoga Falls.

Once in the Falls I headed to my favorite local pub, Dominic's, for a bite to eat and a couple Commodore Perry's. From the pub it was a short spin home. Rarely do I ride so leisurly anymore and it was a nice, easy 30 mile evening. Next Wednesday, assuming Amaterasu is up and running I hope to make it to New Vision Cycling. Maybe some intervals and hill workouts will make me fast???? Well, I'm sure they will at least make me fast-er. I am also sure that they will be painful.....but who doesn't like a bit of suffering??

Monday, June 11, 2007

Eagerly Anticipating the Solstice

Hello bloggerland. I have been gone a while. I have had a rough go of it, emotionally over the last few weeks, but life is moving it always seems to do. I have learned some hard lessons, which I guess are the ones that have the biggest effect on you. My advice to you is to give a hug or a kiss to everyone you love the next time you see them. Yes, I know you see your wife every day.....but give her a giant hug and a kiss and bask in that moment. Yes, I know you only see your drinking buddy and old comrade once a month on a barstool and you don't like the idea of hugging another man in a public place, but hug him and absorb that moment. Some day you'll be glad you did.

I missed the Sunday in June ride, unfortunately, but was able to spend a bit of time in Chicago last weekend. What a great city. I put in a 5 mile run on the shores of Lake Michigan and I came home with a couple of cases of Fat Tire and lost something that is worth more to me than all of the beer, bikes, and perfect runs in the world. Sorry, you don't get details. As far as my planned first century ride, it has been moved to the Sweet Corn Challenge.

Sunday I headed over to Monroe Falls Park for my first "open water" swim and all went well. I'm not sure exactly of the distance...maybe 1100 or 1200 yards I put in and felt great. The confusion caused by not being able to see whilst swimming in the murky water is great. My body adapted well to the longer and slower sets. No doubt, I would prefer to do anything outside as opposed to the same activity inside. Later that evening a bit of spinning on the bike rounded out a nice day.

The calf has been holding up well, although it hasn't really been tested with any distance, to speak of. I felt great for a 4 miler today and am planning on doing the Jim Klett 10K this weekend. Then the weekend following will be my first triathlon out @ Monroe Falls Yahoooooo!!! OK, it is a very, very short sprint but perfect for my first one. A longer tri will follow at the end of the season, more than likely Greater Cleveland out on the east side. Something about swimming around in Lake Erie for about a mile is very exciting. My other option is the Portage Lakes Tri about a month later, which is very close to the Akron Marathon so I think Greater Cleveland will work out better. I've had my season's fill of physical and emotional injuries and it's only June, just over a week to the solstice. I can't wait.