Sunday, September 23, 2007

Portage Lakes Triathlon

Well, my first triathlon season has come to a close. My final race this summer was the Portage Lakes International first oly. As I mentioned HFP did not get a time for me. I have some approximate splits that I've got from glancing at my watch and my bike computer.

With Portage Lakes State Park, the race site, close to home and having an 8:00 start I got to sleep in until about 5:30. I awoke and took my dog out and was greeted by some BRISK morning air. Temps. were in the low 40's. I brewed my java...Green Mountain Autumn Harvest Blend. I ate my bagel with strawberry jelly and a banana. Grabbed my bags, stuck Amaterasu on the roof and I was off.

I arrived at the race site just before 7:00 a.m. and the parking lot was packed!! As I was milling around, setting up my transition, etc. everyone had something to say about the cold morning. Some folks were wearing stocking hats and gloves. After setting up my typical transition I put my cold weather gear in a pile and contemplated what to leave out on my towel for T1. Final decision was arm warmers and full finger gloves (the liner hat, windbreaker, and leg warmers stayed in my backpack). Off I went towards the beach.


The course was 2 loops counterclockwise with a water start. Water temps were perfect, around 68 degrees. I took a nice long warm-up as all the sprinters started first. Soon enough it was time for my wave, the 2nd international wave to go. There were about 50 of us, the biggest wave start I've had all summer. I lined up towards the front and left of the pack. The horn sounded and we were off, swimming towards the rising sun (and 2 giant yellow buoys we couldn't see in the sunlight). The first couple hundred metres things were tight. Bumping shoulders. Hands and arms on my legs. As we were nearing the first turn the lake was full of some sort of seaweed stuff that was strange to pull through. Imagine a net that never seemed to tangle your hands up, but felt like it was about to. I wondered if this race was some trick to catch all the triathletes in some giant net and have a triathlete bake (you know, like a clam bake).

At the first turn buoy I found clear water and could really open up my stroke. For the first time in a race my heart rate didn't skyrocket at the beginning of the swim. Maybe it was my long warm-up. Maybe all the swimming I've been doing is paying off. Either way, it was nice not to feel oxygen deprived at any point of the swim. I felt so comfortable I tried some bilateral breathing for the first time in a race but didn't stick with it because I could feel my heart rate go up immediately.

As I entered into the surreal state of

murky water...breath...

that is open water swimming, I zig-zagged quite a bit and at one point was cut off by a lifeguard in a kayak who was pointing out towards the middle of the lake yelling "go that way." Note to self: need to work on sighting and swimming in a straight line. Before I knew it my hands were dragging on the beach and I stood (and stumbled) to head towards T1.

I took the run up the beach nice and easy. Since my HR stayed down so low during the swim I wanted to take advantage of that as best I could and get on the bike with it down lower yet. T1 was slow as I took my time and had trouble getting my wetsuit over my ankles. It could be that I remembered the timing chip fiasco at GCT, so I was sure not to lose my ankle bracelet. Little did I know it wouldn't have mattered anyways. My race was already a DNS (sort of). Unbeknownst of this fact I noticed my timing chip didn't beep coming out of T1 and asked the volunteer at the bike mount about this. She had no idea what I was talking about (what?? beep?? huh??) and I didn't worry about it as I didn't hear the mat beep for the guy next to me either.


Heading out of T1 I glanced at my watch and saw it ticking at 23 minutes and change...whoa!! Best swim of my life!! The swim course was short but I was still feeling great about my time. Hopped on Amaterasu to a brisk breeze heading out onto the bike course. The course was two loops of rolling hills around Lake Nimisilla. Immediately I noticed that the cold wasn't bothering me too much, except that my hips were really, really tight. They didn't loosen up until I had completed most of the first loop. Once I finally got loose I kept a nice pace and decided to open it up on the 2nd loop...get out of the saddle to crest some of the rollers, etc. I was feeling good. The front of my legs were a pink/purple color but they felt fine.

After I began to loosen up my mind drifted to the history of the area. I could envision the thick forest that once stood on these roads and thought of what life would have been like if a canoe on the water was the best way to get around (sans the 8 mile portage).

Whilst enjoying the scenery, I lost my chain going down to the small ring on a climb and was passed by 3 people immediately. I got pissed and hammered out the rest of the course. According to my computer the 40K (24.8 mile) bike course was closer to 23.3 miles. I finished it up in about one hour and 9 minutes for a 20.3 avg. pace.

Quick T2. Changed shoes and threw on my hat. The run course was 2 loops of more rolling hills. In the first mile I passed quite a few folks. My feet were cold for most of this stretch and felt bigger than the size 14 they actually are. I gained my running legs somewhere about one half to three quarters of a mile into the run, possibly my best run off this summer. I stayed steady for the first loop, and just before mile 4 I started to get fatigued on an ascent. At the bottom of the next descent I got passed by someone who looked like he did alot of running (i.e. skinny dude with a nice stride wearing running tights). I tried to hang with him, and did for about a mile, but he dropped me at the next ascent. The quickening of my pace kept me passing folks here, even after getting dropped. On the last ascent my quads were fed up and I was afraid I might start cramping. With just over a mile to go I slugged down some gatorade....I know, alot of good it's going to do me now.

The gatorade at least gave me a nice mental boost and I tried to open my stride down the descent towards the finish. I didn't look at my watch when I crossed the line and they didn't have a clock at the finish, but after leaving the finishing chute I saw my watch ticking at 2 hours 23 minutes and change. My guess is I finished around 2:22:??, making my run and T2 around 51 minutes. I was very happy with that time and how I felt throughout the race. My spirits were high and other than a little bit of struggling on the run so was my energy.

This morning I ran in the Falls Natatorium 5K and have a new PR.....that is coming in my next post.

Happy Autumn Equinox everyone!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

International Car Free Day

Saturday, September 22nd is International Car Free Day. So, unless you support exploitation of natural resources, unhealthy air, noisy streets, and unjust wars you should do your best to leave your automobile where it sits when you wake up (if you own one :-) You should ask your friends to do the same. Here in Northeast Ohio the weather will be beautiful....perfect for walking or biking around. And if you have public transit available to you go on ahead and use it...take a good book to read on the journey, like this one. I find reading much more enjoyable than operating a car anyways. To read a little about International Car Free Day go here or here.

And if you are interested in less important things (like my Portage Lakes Tri race report) stop back.....I'll be reliving the day in my next post.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


My last triathlon this summer went well. It was possibly my best of the summer. I finished the International distance in around 2:21 or 2:22. I don't know my exact time because they have me listed on the results page as a DNS. But, I started....and I finished. The bib number they have listed for me on the results is not the bib number they gave I think that's the problem. Hopefully I'll either get some splits after calling HFP racing, or a race voucher.

I'll post a race report as soon as I get a little time....and hopefully I can get my splits from the race promoter. One more approximate number that I have (other than my overall time) is the air temperature at race time....probably in the mid 40's. Perfect for a swim......

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Long Weekend (And What's Really Important)

Holidays are grand. It's nice to get a "break" from all the chaos that has become my day to day grind. I'm taking 16 hrs. of classes this semester. Add in a full time job, my desire (addiction) to train, nightly walks with the puppy, and 3 (or 5) meals to prepare....I have hardly time for anything else....including blogging. But I'll find time for a little narcicism now and again, trust me.

My holiday weekend went something like this...

Saturday morning I rose out of bed around 5:30. Ate. Hit the road with Amaterasu around 6:30. Rode down to the STOMP Bicycle Adventure to meet Janet, JT, and a few other CTC peeps. What a perfect day for a spin on the bike. The morning was brisk. I set off with knee warmers and the windbreaker for the first time since the late spring. My ears were a bit cold on the descent into the Cuyahoga Valley, where the tour started. Met the peeps next to the coffee pot and we set off on the 100K route. After a short warm up on the valley floor we ascended the western flank. The first climb of the day was nice and long...about 2.5 miles (Everett Rd. for you NE Ohio folks). No more windbreaker after this one!!

The ride continued to the Southwest, never going too far from the valley rim. We headed into Medina County for a bit before turning to head back down to the national park. By the time we were done, it was hot. I got sunburned. I sat at the smallest picic table imaginable and ate a nice big lunch that included my first experience with Dragonfruit juice. Well, my drink contained less than 1% juice, but it was still named after the fruit anyways. I spent another hour or so after lunch lying under a tree and shootin' the shit with Craig and a couple other folks.

I hopped back on Amaterasu to spin home. Realizing that I'd be over 80 miles for the day when I made it back I decided to take a little detour. I turned the cranks until my computer read 100 miles, and by this time I was quite bored and happy to get off the old steed. After all the 50 plus mile rides the last couple years, I've finally crossed the century mark.

Sunday I was a little sore. I rested. I studied. I went out for about 20 miles on the bike with Julia.

Monday was the Labor of Love 5 miler. Met Julia and her family at the race, across the street from the University of Akron. I wasn't sure how I'd fare in this one after the century ride on Saturday and considering that I haven't been running regularly since the GCT. I lined up near the front of the pack and set off at a nice clip. The course was 2 loops of rolling hills on the roads surrounding the University campus, with a short jaunt onto campus after a nice spirit breaking hill near the turnaround/finish.

I felt pretty good for most of the run. The last mile or 2 (especially the last hill) were challenging, but shouldn't they be? I was feeling the effects of the sun as my heartrate went through the roof on that last climb and 1/4 mile flat to the finish. Final time 33:15 for a 6:39 pace. That put me @ 21st overall out of 372 runners. 2nd in my AG out of 31. Possibly my strongest stand alone run yet. It was certainly one I was happy with.

But, I have been hella sore since. My swim today finally helped to lossen up these old legs. Next on the list is the Portage Lakes Oly distance tri in about 10 days. My first oly.

But here's what's important. TriBoomer is doing IM Wisconsin this weekend. He has been raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. $50,000 worth of raising money!!!!! He created the 500 over 140.6 honor roll. He has collected over 500 names of cancer victims, fighters, and survivors (of any type of cancer) and will carry those names with him over the entire ironman course this weekend. We all know someone who has been touched by this unforgiving disease. Go on over to his blog and add a loved one to the list. Better yet, if you can, donate to the cause.

Boomer will carry the name of my sister, who I'm calling Ms. Fighter. Ms. Fighter was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma at the age of 19. She is turning 21 this month. She is a devout christian and is finishing up her Bachelors degree this year (just edging out her brother to this achievment, who is 10 years her elder might I add). Throughout her treatment, she continued to attend class. She was sick. Her hair thinned. She never lost sight of her goal, to get through her treatment and finish school in 4 years. After treatment she piled on the classes, 18 & 19 hrs. worth. She is in remission. Ms. Fighter, my sister, is one of my heros.

I admire those that face adversity, get knocked down, and stand up and keep fighting. Ms. Fighter, I may not know what it is like to go through all you went through, but I admire you.

Thank you TriBoomer. Hopefully Ms. Fighter, and everyone else who has been diagnosed with this terrible disease, knows that there are many of us out there who admire them for their strength, courage, and fortitude. These same attritbutes that Boomer will need to complete Ironman. Good luck my friend!