Filtering by Category: Triathlon

The World's Toughest Half-Ironman

 This was my first real Trialthon since the Ironman Canada last year. I'd first heard of this race just before I'd done Wildflower for the first time a couple years ago, so this had been on list of races to do for a while.  Was it really the World's Toughest? I was going to find out. I arrived up there the night before with a teammate who I'd convinced to join me. It was a very early start to get ready, pick-up the race packets and drive to the start of the race. It was really done to the last minute, literally. The starting gun fired and I was just making my way down to the water. 

Before I knew I was swimming with the pack and getting appropriately knocked about. The water was calm and a good temperature. The course was a big loop so I wasn't constantly trying to site the next buoy. As swims go this was a long one. It turns out I wasn't only one who thought that, I heard others saying in transition the course had been mis-marked and was actually 1.5 miles long.

 Glad to be out of the water and on the bike I started up the hill. The course was a straight out and back, though finishing at point 8 miles uphill from the swim. Uphill was what this course was all about. The first twenty five miles were all cliombing, I was enjoying this is what I like. I wasn't far from there turnaround when I saw a rider screaming downhill in the opposite direction. There was also a car coming downhill about to turn across the road. I'd speed uphill so that wouldn't be in the way. I found what happened next to be startling, the car and bike now just behind me on the other side of the road had collided. The rider had gone into the side of the car as it was turning. It stopped and turned back to see what I could do. Others were on scene very quickily, I gave a report to the police of what I seen and continued on unerved by what I had seen. The rider was seriously injured but not critically, he was quickily taken to hospital. Trying to keep my mind on the race, though I was thinking more about safety than racing, I finished the ride.

On to the run course the temperature was now in the high 90's and I felt I was metling. It started on some trails and then on to a paved road, a two loop run with a number of short climb. The rest stops were passing out chill water and cold sponges. I hot and my legs were tired but I felt generally pretty good, at least relative to past races. The run course due to it's overlapping nature was full of people in both directions I had a chance to chat with a couple people as I ran long to pass time. Not my fastest run but I wasn't going to complain about 10minute mile in these conditions. I ran up the final hill with a burst of energy and finished the race. Despite everything I managed to place third in my age group!

 

Results:

Swim: 47:37.0
Bike: 3:43:08.5
Run: 2:16:29.6
Finish Time: 6:47:15.1

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
3hr 20Min (no incl. T1 & T2)
55 Miles
8,729 feet of Climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
155bpm Avg.
188bpm Max

 

 

Speed:
16.5mph Avg.
41.7mph Max

 

 

Run Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):

13.1 Miles
2hr 16 Mins
2,679feet of Climbing

 

 

Heart Rate:
159bpm Avg.
198bpm Max

 

 

Pace:
10:25/M

Ironman Canada 2007

A year of preparation and today was finally the day! It is hard to even try to put in day into words, the anticipation, excitement, fear and yes plenty of Gatorade.
I while managed to sleep a fair number of hours, I was restless with anxiety mainly of over sleeping and not the actual race. I awoke 4:15am and gather up all my remaining gear and joined the rest of the team on the shuttle over to race area. The street was only open for race participants, first I dropped off my special needs bags for the Cycle and Run then headed towards the body marking. It was still dark out and the street suddenly went from being crowded to gridlock with standing room only, as the lines for body marking began, it took 20 minutes to get through to the transition area. First I went to my bike pumped up the tires and filled the bottles,then over to transition bag area to put in last minute supplies. I also realized the one thing I'd forgotten was a towel to dry off after the swim, with quick thinking I decided to utilize my sweatshirt for purpose. I found the rest of the team and got into my wet suit.
Meanwhile the event announcer's were building the anticipation with music to pump up the crowd and the participants. The next thing I knew I was heading down the start line in the water for the start.

Standing in water with just minutes to go until start, what I had been talking about for the past year all suddenly became real. I was there in the waiting to begin with 2700+ people , ready to begin if nothing else would be one of the exciting days of my life. I felt great trepidation, would I fail to complete what I had set out to do, would I let down all the people who sponsored me? I just had way of predicting the outcome, with all the training in the world I just didn't know. However I been prepared well and remember the most important the coaches had said "Just go out there and enjoy yourself". It may have been race but it was also an experience you have to take every moment in, with this in mind began...

The swim start was like no other triathlon I ever done, a mass start with 2700+ people. I started close to front even knowing I would have a number of people swim over me, it also gave me the added motivation to swim faster, swim or be swum over. It was frantic, I was surrounded all I hear was the splashing of the water and everything else seemed to be a blur. I slow down and just look around it was an incredible sight and I was right the middle, trying to avoid being kicked or elbowed in the head. It should be noted that is is everything important to try and avoid concussion in this scenario.
The 2.4 mile course was a triangle beginning and ending in the same place, to be honest I didn't really examine the course in detail before starting. I just ask what I should sight for, on which side I should keep the buoys on basically just follow everyone else. After the first 30 minutes the gridlock traffic of the lake, let up some and I was now making my own way or did that just mean that I was going my own way? Well I look up and sure I enough I was dead on course about to collide with the buoy, I manged a quick correct and barely scraped by to should I say almost underneath the side (I'm glad it was not a metal one). Nearly two year at this whole swimming thing and I still haven't quite got the whole breathing down, this can lead to great deal of discomfort and lower performance, however I have learned how to burp while swimming which take care of things. At the far end of the swim there were large boats on which people were cheering from and before I knew I was was turning around and heading back to shore. The second half seemed to take longer everything still appeared to be a long way in the distance, but as I got closer I sped up and kicked more with my legs to getting blood flowing again. Finally I reached the shore which was lined with people all the way into the water, including the Ironteam staff in there instantly recognizable jackets with Green and Purple flames. I felt triumphant completing the swim as it is always one of the biggest challenges in my mind, though was still a long day ahead. I ran out of the water to the transition area, where the volunteers pull my wet suit off me. I the picked my transition bag and ran over to the changing tent. Generally I'm every quick at transition and all I really had to do was put my socks, cycles shoes, helmet and sunglasses and run out of there, however there was something in the tent I was not expecting to see which I was not prepared for. It retrospected was cruel and unusual yet every alluring, yes in the tent they actually had chairs! I would strongly recommend that no one ever sit on a chair during a triathlon, because you'll like it, especially after a 2.4 mile swim which leaves your legs feeling a lot like jelly. So I sat, relaxed a little contemplated the long line for the toilets, I quickly devised a solution to needing to pee and while maximizing my time sitting on the chair. It is amazing the things you'll do in race, compromises that you just don't make in everyday life, but I'll just say the I did make sure the chair was dry when I left it. Having lost a little time in the transition I ran to my bike and headed out on the road.

The cycle is without a doubt my favorite part of triathlon and I felt on top of the world as I started the ride. The streets were lined with people cheering, the adrenaline rush was immense though I tried to not let it take me over. I was cautious of the drafting rules in place and with so many riders out I had to be constantly passing people to adhere to a 4 bicycle length minimum distance. The first 5 miles were through town and with a few major turns I had to be careful, I didn't what to wipe out at any point during the ride especially not the beginning. A number of my teammates are faster swimmers than me but I knew I could make up the time on the bike. It was great to see my fellow teammates on the cycle course, it wasn't until midway through the cycle I catch up with some and of course there is always one or two you can't catch. I was reserved on the bike, I knew going out to hard to ruin my chances of having a good run so I worked on keeping a steady pace. The first 40 miles were generally flat or downhill which made of an average speed of 26mph, I felt great and hoped it would continue that way. However I knew the hills were coming and they sure came. I began the first climb and tried to keep a good pace and my heart rate low, but realized I had to slow down, the hills were just going to keep coming this was not a sprint. With the hills also came crowds of people to cheer everyone on which on a long hill is much appreciated.
After the first big climb on the ride there was nice decent followed by some rollers, my pace picked up again and soon enough I was headed on a long out and back to the special needs area at mile 70 where the bag of supplied I had dropped off had been taken. Inside the bag I had a spare inner tube, a bottle of Gatorade and variety of food including, a sandwich, Pringles, Oreos and homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies (with coffee as the special ingredient). I quick had a bit of everything and left within a 5 minutes. Coming away from the out and back I was hit with headwind which is very discouraging, will the road was mostly flat it felt like I was climbing. I got the chance to see a my teammates again heading in the opposite direction, it was great knowing I was not out there alone.
Back on the main loop of the course it briefly started to rain and I was about the start the biggest climb of the course. While the weather conditions appear to be worsening I didn't let that get to me, rain is not a deterrent for me having grown up in Scotland. I had been managing fluid and calorie in take well a long the course and was still feeling pretty good. The main climb sneaks up on you, it starts every gradually getting steeper and wearing your resistance down. At one of the water stops up the hill a couple of guy's were hold up a sign that said "Smile if you peed on your bike", although I hadn't reading the sign raised my spirit and I smiled. As I past by I heard "Don't worry your not the only one".
The next few miles to summit dragged on, but I was rewarded at the top with the support of Ironteam were on the top of the cheering in full cheering force, complete in one case with a wig and silly glasses :-) This was the best part of the ride and knowing I had a ten mile decent to on the back to the transition made it even better. One thing that was concerning my was an occasional some shooting pain I'd been having in my knees, towards the end of the climb. I had to take easy as I finished the remaindered of the ride. The decent was great and just what I needed, what came a as surprise was the rain in Penticton, where the roads were wet with some drizzle still coming down. As I got closer to the transition the Cycle course overlapped the Run course I could see what faced me next.

My Bike to Run transition quicker, but the seat did have me for a couple minutes again and I also took the time go the restroom as there was no line. With another heavy application of sunscreen for the volunteer staff, headed on to the run.

While I had been a strong runner earlier in year, injury through over training had kept me away from running, my longest run in the past few months has only been 14 miles. With some pain on the bike, I was mental preparing myself for a painful run which I may end-up walking to finish. As I started the run it was easy to put those thoughts to the back of my head albeit briefly as the crowds cheer everyone on, I knew I just had to keep smiling the rest of the no matter what my body was feeling and I'd be fine. The first mile marker I saw was for mile 25! Had blocked out the last 24 miles of running was it nearly over already? Unfortunately it was just the way the course was designed there were a couple of turns at the beginning which takes you to an out back and back which goes right by the finish line, which at least means you have accurate picture in your mind for the end. My pace was about 8mins 30secs per mile as I ran the first few miles through the town. I actually felt pretty good the first 6 miles, the people in the town were great and I even saw a few friends cheering as I went down the main street.

However the next thing I knew I was exiting the town to the long and lonely run all the lake. The temperature was good the made a appearance a couple of times but thankfully remained in it's place behind the clouds. It was just about taking things one mile at a time I was now on a 10 minute pace which was great timing from a hydration stand point, I got some Gatorade as I went through each stop, I also started switching off Gel to more natural foods, like Bananas and Oranges which were able at the stops. Towards mile 12 there was a large climb on what had appeared to be a mostly flat run course and my feet agitated like there was something in my shoes, the something was just blistering. At this point I was a couple of my teammates heading back from the turnaround I knew it wasn't far and I'd soon have my special needs bag, a nice reward for the hill. There were loads of people in the turnaround area cheering and I picked-up my bag and tried to eat food without stopping, it turned out I didn't really any "special needs" at that time, didn't really use much of the food in the bag and discarded it quickly.

The turnaround point really was a in way a turning point me in every sense, I knew I just had 13.1 miles to go I just needed to keep up the pace and what better way that to know you have people right be you. I must give notable mention to my teammate Brenna who was right behind me at the turnaround and that is when the chase began. Also as I reach mile 14 I saw another couple of my teammates who also good runners, I knew anyone of them could catch me in the remainder of the race. For the next 3 miles, every time I looked behind me Brenna was never too far off, although my body wanted to slowdown and was starting to tell me "Hey what the rush?", my competitive instincts were also at play and were edge out the exhaustion. Mile by mile now the end was getting closer and by mile 20 I reached Penticton again and proclaimed out loud "Penticton, the promise land of the finish line", very quietly of course I didn't want anyone to think I was delirious. As I hit mile 22 I met Coach Mike, who was out on the course on a mountain bike, it said I looked good "Slow and Steady", I said "Hey, not so much of the slow" as I picked up my pace a little, my heart rate picked up to at which point then slowed down again. As I reached the main street again, it was definitely quieter than before. There was also something I hadn't noticed on my way out, there was a small but definite incline on the main street.

I wasn't looking good or feeling all that great over the last few miles as the pictures show. On the final mile little did I know Brenna was now right behind me and about to pass me. I really didn't have much left in me at this point, but knew I was close it is was time to go all out and finish strong. With burst of acceleration I changed my pace from 11mins down to 7mins, that was just enough to catch and pass Brenna again, we passed opposite directions we high-fived other each.

 

With the end right ahead of me, a long year was coming to end, the experience had been a amazing and challenging from start to end. I ran in towards the finish line and finished triumphant, with a finish time of 12 hours, 26 minutes and 59 seconds.


 

 

 

I would like to thank my Coaches and Team for helping me train for this incredible event. I'd like thank my friends and family for understanding why I've been so busy this past year. Most importantly I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, in support for me, with your help I've managed to raise over $11,000 for research and patient services.

 

Final Times:
Swim: 1:30:46
T1: 0:09:11
Cycle: 5:54:40
T2: 0:07:30
Run: 4:44:53

Finish: 12:26:59

Swim Details:
2.4 Miles
1hr 30mins 46secs
2:24 per 100m

Cycle Details (Click here to View on Google Earth):
5hrs 54mins (total)
5hrs 46mins (ride)
112 Miles
7,423 feet of climbing

 

 

 


152bpm Avg. Heart Rate
187bpm Max Heart Rate

 

 

 


19.2mph Avg. speed
48.6mph Max speed

 

 

Run Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
4hr 44mins
26.2 Miles
2,333 feet of climbing

 

 

 

Heart Rate
158bpm Avg.
187bpm Max
135bpm Low

 

 

 

Pace (per mile)
10mins 47secs

A Year in Training...

Well I couldn't possibly imagine begin all that things I've experienced over the past year, here is a (fairly) quick recap of the past year:

August 26th 2006: In final preparations for my second Half-Ironman (Big Kahuna), I crashed my bike quite spectacularly on our team practice Triathlon. After a few hours waiting in the hospital, I found out I'd fractured my arm and would not be able to do my event which was in two weeks time.

September: Having missed my Trialthon, I was determined not to miss my next event which was my first Century Ride. I hadn't done any training and my arm was still not fully healed, being only four weeks since the accident. So against my Doctor's best advice I went ahead completed my first century, it left me very sore wondering how I would ever run 26 miles afterwards.

October: Ironteam kick-off and the training began, I started to get a lot of good runs in and I completed my first Triathlon since the accident. Just 6 days before Escape from the Rock, I was not able to swim with out pain in my arm, but come race day, I guess the water was cool enough to numb the pain.

November: Was a busy month with the Treasure Island Triathlon and my second Century Ride made for another busy month.

December: The weather was getting colder but I was still getting some good miles in the bike and the run. On day of over exuberance, I ran 29 miles and cycled 25 miles.

January: I did my first practice Triathlon with the Ironteam over at Treasure Island and more early morning runs and rides.

February: This was another great month of training, good rides and runs. Plus my first on my own, self supported Century Ride. I felt great and ready for Ironman but still had 6 months to go.

March: Perhaps one of the toughest months of the year filled with some regrets, I completed my first Double Century Ride (in Death Valley of all places), finishing in 10th place and feeling pretty good. Although I took some recovery time I hit things little hard on the Ironteam, practice Half-Ironman at Lake San Antonio, while I finished the practice well, I realized a week later I put some serious wear on my legs that do cost me dearly.

April: Was a low key training month, I did my best to continue all the workouts but it was impossible run more than a mile without pain. I started going to a place called SMI, where they specialize in treating athletes with injuries such as mine. There treatment is very effective though describing it as painful would be an understatement. Still managed to get some good training including the Ironteam Boot Camp weekend and hill repeats on Mount Diablo brought my heart rate to a new high of 203bpm.

May: It was time for Wildflower again, I was not fully recovered but decided to put in my best effort without damaging myself any further. I was fine until 5 miles into the run where I started having issues with my legs, I did my best to slowly jog the rest out with worsening things. I continued to cycle strong, hit a top speed of 54.9mph (obviously I would of like to have gone faster but the speed limit was 55mph).

June: A new month and different goal, I had been training with the cycle team for America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride, a Century Ride around Lake Tahoe. Training with the cycle team had been great though I'd only done a few rides with them, forgetting about that whole not being able to run thing was good. I completed the Century Ride strong and quickily, with a 5hr 10min ride time I was the fastest finisher of 1800 people, though I should point out it was not a race :-)
Just one week after Tahoe, I faced one of the Ironteam's toughest training weekends at Lake Berryessa, a 2 mile swim followed by 98 mile bike ride with 13,000feet climbing with a run the next day.

July: The madness continued, with another brutal Century Ride in the East Bay with 12,000 feet of climbing (plus i got lost and did another 17 miles trying to find my way back). Then racing tried at Vineman, completing my third Half-Ironman of the year and first with a sub 6 hour time. Not letting up for the month of July, the next weekend at the longest workout of the year, "The Triple Brick", a 9 hour workout, 2 hours of cycling and 1 hour running, repeat 3 times!

August: This is the taper month, the first weekend was a on your own Century Ride, known as a "Mental Toughness Ride" which I did up in Napa on the Vineman course. The following week I went up to Donner Lake for 2.7 mile swim, I just need a long distance to find a rhythm. Now in full taper with just short workouts.

The above summaries are just the tip of the iceberg, the past year has been tough physically, mentally and emotionally in all aspects of life. While it has had it's challenges it has been an incredible year!

Vineman Triathlon 2007 (the tired race)

Vineman is held in Napa and is part of the official Ironman 70.3 Series (Half-Ironman). I had the chance to ride the cycle course a couple times and still fresh in my mind from yesterday. I felt relaxed going into race knowing it was not race, but really just another day of training, albeit with timing chips, competitors and of course photographers.

It was a early start to the day, my wave started at 6:54am, the hotel we were staying was about 45 minute drive away which meant a 4am start to the day (talk about racing tried:). The race begins in Guerneville and the Bike to Run transition is in the town of Windsor about 10 miles away.

After getting my transition area all setup I went down to the water to get warmed up. Unlike other Triathlons where the swim is in a Lake or the Ocean this was in a river, the Russian River to be exact. It was the first time I'd swum in a river before and knew that water would be shallow enough to walk in some places. The race began and as it such such a narrow start it was a crowded swim, I got jostled a bit but no injuries, however I did choke down some water and spent the rest of what turned out to be a slow swim trying to recover. This the first time I can say I actually had to walk some of it :-)

Glad to be out of the water I geared up for the bike, the exit out of transition was a very short but steep hill, I found myself stumbling to get on to my bike and up the hill at the same time, so I did what the smart people were and run it up, then jumped on. The cycle course was mainly flat with only a few hills to be concerned and my goal was the same as on yesterday's ride to keep a consistent pace and my heart rate steady. Of course at the beginning my adrenaline was high and I'll wanted to do was pass people. With the starting Age Group waves being random and my swim being a little slow there were already a large number of people out on the course. I managed to catch up and pass a couple of my teammates who I started the swim with alongside me, with average speed of 21mph this was the best ride I'd ever had on a Triathlon. I managed to keep my heart down as much a possible on the ride, only hit my peak on the final hill. The course was great though a couple tour buses did prove to be an obstacle on a narrow part of the road.

Off the bike a quick transition to run, I took some salt tablets to prevent getting dehydrated on what was becoming a very hot day. As headed out on the run Coach Mike, kindly reminded me to pace myself and not go all out, with that in mind I attempted a 6minute my pace (no not really). At the beginning of the run my pace stayed steady at 8 to 9 minutes per mile and there was thankfully a some good shade for the first 2-3 miles, but as I got further out it was more expose and the hills felt a lot longer. A long the road people written things in chalk to encourage people, one said "Keep going Michelle!" I thought that's close enough I'll take it. At the turn around point we had the chance to run around a scenic Vineyard, the turnaround also meant I go the chance to see my teammates who were heading out and back so we cheer each other on as we passed each other. The run continued to go well though the 80F temperature was starting to takes it toll. As I came into the final mile I picked up my pace again and let it all go as came into the finish :-)


Race Times:
Swim 00:45:16.5
T1 00:05:25.5
Bike 02:42:27.9
T2 00:03:08.6
Run 02:07:57.4
Finish 05:44:15.7

Course Details (Click here to view on Google Earth Bike & Run)
Bike:
56 Miles
2,577 Feet of Climbing

Run:
13.1 Miles
9.42 min per mile
728 Feet of Climbing

Wildflower 2007 - the Long Course

It was the 25th Anniversary of the Wildflower Triathlons this year, two days of racing, three events and 7,700 athletes competing, on no average course. Wildflower boasts on of the world's toughest Half-Iron distance course (the long course), along side a Mountain Bike and Olympic Course.

There was one important thing I had to remember going into the race, unlike last year this was not the race I was training for, in fact the race was now just part of my training. With that in mind I had to be careful not to do any further damage to my legs that were still recovering, having not run in the past three weeks I didn't know how I was going to feel.

I wasn't as nervous the night before as I had been the year before, that is not to say I got a good nights sleep though, still that is part of the challenge of Wildflower. I was up at 5:30am to make the last minute preparations, fill-up my water bottles and double and triple check all my stuff was with me for transition area.

Never change anything before a race, is what anyone will tell you. Having done the whole course twice before I knew that what I had done the previous two times hadn't worked in terms of race nutrition. It is always best to change one thing at a time, but what the hell it is not like I was going to do this again and again, so I changed everything I could and thought I make my best judgment on what worked or not. So I switched from GU to E-Gel, Gatorade to Accelerade and even changed the wheels on my bike to a set of Zipps for the day, a move that made me nervous.

Roll on to 8:15am the race is about to start and I tried one other thing in my Wetsuit that I hadn't done before, and then I knew it was going to be a good race. My goal in the swim was to try and pace with the other swimmers in my wave and draft as much as possible. Drafting definitely was it advantages, but you can also get kicked in the face, which I can now tell you isn't nice, I felt me goggles embedded on my face when it happen. The first half of the swim went well, however the return was tough, it was choppy and nauseating. I made my triumphant exit from the water feeling rather ill, but with the energy of the crowds I ran to the transition and prepared for the next leg of the journey. I changed in my bike gear including my new pair of socks, neon pink with "Hottie" written on them, I got cheers from my friends shouting "Hottie" as I got ready :-)

Out on the bike and my name was called out by the race commentators as I cycled by, that is a great feeling. I was careful on the first miles to not crash out, and made it up the first hill without issue. Over the first hill I was struck by the wind the as I tried to make a quick exit from the park, going forward was taking considerably more effort than it should of been. A couple of downhills leading out of the park helped build speed and confidence. The first 17 miles of the ride were a battle against wind and my stomach which hadn't recovered from the swim. On to Jolon Road things became better and I had a good stretch all the way to Nasty Grade. The ride up Nasty Grade was not too bad but I was sure glad when it was over. Of course the biggest uphill leads to the biggest descent a few miles later, the descent was a dangerous one and the prevailing winds did nothing to improve it. I took it slowly and avoided the cross winds the best that I could. From then on just a number of climbs back to park. I managed to pass a Pro Female who started a couple of waves before me, while I no illusion of maintaining my lead on the run but I had the bike course down.

Next up was run, before I headed out I made sure to correct one of my biggest mistakes of last year. I took some extra time and reapplied my sunscreen, last year's sunburn was not good, an extra minute would not be missed. I made my way out on the run and took things easy, things were going great until mile 4. I had planned to walk at this point to save myself for rest, but as I approached mile 5 I was feeling dizzy, and I could swear I saw things on the run I was not expecting. I reached the top of hill and could see mile 6 down below, the thought of running down the hill seemed like crazy move with the way I was feeling so I took it slowly. After mile 6's rest stop I was feeling better, though my IT band was flaring up again. I met one of my teammates along the run and chatted with him of while before I dropped back to my not quite running, not quite walking pace. As I reached the campsite the only thing I could do was run, all my TNT friends lined the side of the roads and were cheering, this as was last year was the best moment of the race.

By mile 8 of the run, I knew I needed to walk to not damage my legs and undo all the work I done to improve them in the past month. Walking was hardest thing, when you have people cheering and saying things like "Run", "Keep going", "you can do it", while the cheers are great you sometimes wish they would leave you alone, they don't know the pain. I continued the walk/run with more emphasis on the "walk" element :-).

There was just 1 mile left to go and I realized despite the slow run I could still best last years time, so I gave the final downhill what I could. To prevent injury and increase speed, I ran sideways down most of the hills, I did get a few strange looks. I made a final but painful sprint through the finish shoot. It was a great feeling to have completed the course again, although my legs weren't good shape, I was feeling a thousand times better than the year before. I think the key to feeling great at the finish is to walk the run, so to improve my time more next year I will really need to focus on improving my bike time :-)


So what was the results? Well I was the first to finish in my age group wearing pink socks which said the word "Hottie" on the side!

Overall Time: 6hr 37mins
Swim: 40mins
T1: 4mins
Bike: 3hrs 4mins
T2: 2mins
Run: 2hrs 46mins

The Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):

193bpm Max Heart Rate
153bpm Average Heart Rate

A Story of Post Race Stupidity (PRS)

I had a bad case of PRS after the race, I collected all my stuff together from the transition area and headed up to the Expo to return the nice Zipp wheels I had for the day. There was a good mile of walking between the Expo and the campsite with a long climb for good measure, but for some reason I thought return the wheels now was a good idea, "my bike is light and it will be even lighter after I take the wheels off". Halfway up the hill with my bike on one shoulder and my Tri bag on the other, I realized this was the toughest part of the day :-) What helped naturally were people comments, "What happened to your wheels?".

The Half-way to Ironman Triathlon

This was to be my second Half-Ironman Triathlon, back at Lake San Antonio where I completed my ever first Triathlon back in May 2005. The weather was truly amazing, at the same time last year the it was be raining and cold, but this year was different in many ways the and weather was just one factor. At last year's practice weekend, I had never even ridden 56 miles before I started out, but with a whole year of training and nearly 3000 miles under my belt since then I ready to tackle the cycle course again, plus a I had a shiny new bike to put to the test. The coach went over the details of the course, despite listening carefully and having already cycle the course before I was to get lost the ride.

I got up at 5:30am on Saturday morning, had breakfast then headed down to the lake in my car. All my stuff was jammed into the boot of my car with my bike beneath it all, it took much longer than I expected to find everything and get my transition area setup and I needed every last minute to get ready.

The water was a good temperature for this time of year and the lake was calm this made for a better than expected swim. I managed to swim mostly straight and get out of the water in an acceptable time. After I left the water I ran back up to the transition area, the Tri Team were in the car park getting ready for there swim and my friends cheered me on went by. I transitioned at a casual pace and headed out on the bike, their was some initial confusion on where the bike course went to begin with and despite the fact I done it twice before I found myself taking wrong turns and going in circles, I lost a little time but soon got back on track.

Soon enough I was out of the park and on Interlake Road, I started off easy gradually speed up as I continued, I refilled my water at the first stop at Interlake and Jolon Rd. I continued power through the next stretch with an average speed of over 20mph. I passed the second water stop, without refilling and went towards, "Nasty Grade". For the past 10 miles I had been experiencing some pain in my left leg, the previous two weeks (Double Century and then an 80 mile ride) were catching up with me quickly but didn't let this get to me. Managed to get "Nasty Grade" at a steady pace.

The payoff after climbing "Nasty Grade" is some some great views and an even steeper descent. This was the part of the ride that had been praying on my mind the most, would I fly-off the road or take a bad turn like I had down last August. I went as fast I could while still maintaining complete control of the bike and managed to 45mph on the decent. From then on there are a still several good hills to climb to get in to the park. I reached the transition area, applied a lot more sunscreen, took a quick bathroom break and continued out on the run.

I started the run with memory's of last years painful run flooding back, I knew I needed to take it easy so aimed for a 10 minute mile pace while trying to keep my heart rate low. Keeping my heart rate low wasn't really working, it seemed to only want to go up and settled at 173 just below my lactic threshold threshold. I took the hill on mile 4 easy, walking some of it this did help a lot but the feeling I had when reached the bottom on the other side was exactly the same as last year. My stomach felt weak and bowels undeniably distressed, luckily a water stop was just up a head at mile 6. Unfortunately a much needed facility was not available at this location and a tree was recommend, I really needed more than a tree but when push comes to shove (such a bad choice of words) I had to make to do. I still had 7 miles on the run to go and my heart rate remained high, I kept drinking and eating what I could as I went a long.

As I ran through the campsite and remembered the music and cheer from the year before. The next few miles down to the pit seemed to last forever. As I reached the bottom of the pit, I could tell from the look my coach's face, I was not looking too good. But I got some more water and some food and continued on, 3 miles to go. I always like to tell myself at this point that it is really only 2 miles, as the final one it downhill and therefore a freebie :-)

I let gravity carry me down the hill faster and faster, as my heart rate rose quickly as sprinted final 100 yards. When I arrived that the finish it took me a minute before I could speak as I caught my breath. To speed my recovery went to soak my legs in the lake.

A great day of training with the team, thanks to coaches and volunteers for putting this event together!

(Above me some of my team mates)

Triathlon Details:
Total time: 6 hours 14 minutes

Swim:
About 1.2 miles with a long transition, I didn't get my exact time for this somewhere between 30-40mins.

Cycle (click here to view in Google Earth)
3 hours 2 minutes
159bpm Average Heart rate
188bpm Max Heart rate
18.2 mph Average Speed
45 mph Max Speed

Run (click here to view in Google Earth)
2 hours 35 minutes
173bpm Average Heart rate
139bpm Lowest Heart rate
188bpm Max Heart rate
10:48 Pace (when moving)
11:11 Pace (including stops)

6th Annual Louie Triathlon

Today was the 6th Annual Louie Tri, it used to be known as the Iron Team Olympic distance Practice Triathlon, however 6 years ago a few days before the event, Louie Bonupa passed away after losing his battle with Luekemia. Now is held every year in his memory.

I had a very early started to the day, I carpooled up to Treasure Island with Trista and Sandy arriving just around 6:30am. The weather was actually very good, though cold it was clear and sunny. I had been dreading the swim, having already done the Tri California's Treasure Island Triathlon, back in November i was not looking forward to going back into that water. As it happens the water was deemed to be too cold at a very chilly 48F, not wanting have people end-up with hypothermia the swim was cancelled, though this was a great disappointed to us all, we made the best of it. The swim was replaced by an extra 3 mile run.

Following the first run was a 6 loops around Treasure Island with many, many, many turns. I managed to keep a quick pace on the ride and both the runs, leaving me with a finish time of 2hrs 37minutes.

Click here to view route on Google Earth
34.93 miles
171 Avg Heart Rate
193 Max Heart Rate
3900 Calories Burned

Treasure Island Triathlon

The Treasure Island Triathlon or "the course with an endless number of loops" was my forth Triathlon.

As with every event I was up super early by 6:30am I was at Treasure Island to pick-up my race packet and get my transition area setup. As I was getting set-up I met a number of friends from Team in Training, Treasure Island is one of the events that the Fall Tri team were training for.

The morning was overcast and the water did not look every inviting, but the swim was still requirement of the Triathlon. I got in the water to warm-up and that very quickly cooled me down :) the water was chhilly 58F. The swim course was two loops while it was only 1.5K it felt like a long swim. It was hard to sight and easy to go off course, I'm sure I got a little extra distance from all the zig-zagging. Soon enough I was out of the water, my feet were number and I was running into the transition area.

Then on to the bike, 6 laps around a very technical course, overall there is a total number of 176 turns! The course is flat accept for a one small hill. My biggest concern was simple, would I lose count of the number of laps? To make sure I didn't keep going around the course indefinitely I kept careful track of my mileage. The turns were sharp and there were a number of pot holes and with a large number of people on a small course I had to keep my wits about me to avoid an accident.

There was some occasional drizzle and some head wind also, no apparent sun light due to efficient use of clouds in the sky.

One advantage of course like this is you always know what to expect next due to the fact it, you've already it done several times, but this does allow you the chance to improve every lap and get a rhythm going.

I generally like a good long bike bike but 40K in circles was quite enough, I was glad to get out on to the run course! The run course was four loops of an out and back course, when I started the run I thought that meant going out and back four times, luckily I confirmed my assumption was wrong on my second out and back before I started off on a unnecessary third and forth run. Please and surprised that the run was over sooner than I expected I sprinted into the finish!
(If you look closely at the pictures below, you'll see the water shooting out of the bottle I was carrying)


Final Finish Time: 2 hours 48 minutes

Course Details (click here to view on Google Earth)

Swim 1.5K:
36 minutes
T1: 3mins 23secs

Cycle 40K:
1hr 17 minutes
19.1 mph Average Speed
T2: 1min 59secs

Run 10K:
49 minutes
7min 57sec per mile

Escape from the Rock...

It had been just seven weeks since I hadn't broken my arm, I had tried swimming in the pool this past Monday, to get a feel for the water again and see how the arm felt. After a few laps, in the pool I realized it was pretty painful but I still had six days to go so I thought I'd let it continue to recover, hope for the best come today.
A very early start to morning I and arrived in San Francisco around 7am, to get my transition area from Swim to Run setup. Escape from the Rock, is a unique Triathlon, the distances are different to others, it starts with a 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco, then a 2 mile run to the Presido, where a 13 mile, 3 loop cycle course begins, followed by a 6.5 miles (10K) run.

I started off on ferry out to Alcatraz, it was a very dark and grey morning (as you can see in the picture on the left). The waters were choppy and I was quickly coming to the realization this was not a good idea. I had commented to a friend earlier this week that is seemed silly to jump off a ferry and then swim to furtherest shore and not the closest :-)

To start off people were jumping off the ferry 3 at time then all gathering at the start line for a mass start of over 900 people. At 8:30am the swim began as the gun fired, I tried not to get trampled. I kept going at a fair pace and did my best to site towards the city and most importantly, not think about sharks..

I made it out of the water! In 48 minutes I completed the 1.5 mile swim (ok, there may have been a current). Some of my friends were waiting for me to come out of the water, which was great! (thanks for making the early morning drive)

I went to my first transition area for the Swim to Run, quickly got off my wet suit and got into my run gear. My feet were still numb from the water and this caused a issue on the run. I was half-way through the run when I realized I had a little "GU" packet inside my shoe under my foot. I thought about stopping but only had another mile to go until the bike, so I kept running hoping it wasn't going to burst, causing one awful mess :-)


Next on to the bike for a short but hilly course, the course looped around the Presidio, if your not climbing your descending. I'm generally good on climbs and managed to pass a few people on every up hill; however on the downhill I lost just as many spots if not more than I had gained. Still my goal was not to any records simply to survive falling on my arm again would be a very bad thing. In just under an hour I managed to complete the bike course and move on to the run.

The run was not flat either with over 1,000 feet of climbing the highlight of the course is the in famous "Sand Stairs", this is a tough climb at around mile 3 after a run along the beach. Overall the run went very well and managed to power through the last couple miles and one of my friend joined my for the final run across the finish line (by the way I didn't crop the photo, blame the event photographers :-)

Finish Time: 03:01:40.0

Course Details (See entire course on Google Earth):

Run 1 (View on Google Earth)
00:25:18.1
2.8 miles
736 feet of climbing

Cycle (View on Google Earth)
00:50:05.4
13 miles
1,644 feet of climbing

Run 2 (View on Google Earth)
00:53:36.7
5.3 miles
1,144 feet of climbing

San Jose International Triathlon

My second official Triathlon! Just 7 weeks since Wildflower, the most part I had been taking it easy I hadn't even ridden my bicycle for the first 5 weeks after Wildflower. I had done some running but not much, as for Swimming? Well I remember Lake San Antonio :-)

I woke up way too early and my 5:30 am I was already unpacking my car and getting my stuff over to the transition area. Unlike Wildflower where your transition area is assigned this was a free for all, so I just looked around to find the most expensive bikes, if nothing else they be out of the area before I get there. As I got setup I meet a bunch of my friends from the TNT Spring Tri team, great to see many familiar faces!

Soon enough it was time to start the race, as I stood to the beach staring at Lake Almaden (a big duck pond), I started to think "Why I am doing this, I would I want to swim in there?". I tend to only question things once then go ahead and do it, so I got into the water ready for the gun to fire. I made it through the start without concussion, which is always a good thing. The Lake is not that big so there were a number of buoys to navigate around. On one part of the course, I nearly ran ground as the water depth was very low. Although had people trying to point that out, is was a little late for some others. Finally I reached the last turn and then quickly headed out of the water, in many ways this is always the best part of a Triathlon for me :-)

I ran to the transition area got out of the wet suit and on to the bike for the 40K cycle ride. The course is overall fairly flat which makes for some good speeds. A lane of the road was coned off and all the stop lights were taken care of so just a matter of going straight ahead. The first 10 miles is on Santa Tersa Blvd, which leads out to Bailey Road, continuing out on Hale Ave for an out and back then turning on Bailey Road. It is around there the wind becomes a issue, a strong head wind followed by a tail wind, follow by a cross wind. Hale Ave, was completely closed to cars, this was no longer a road but a race track and there were times when people passed each other on both sides, it is a little disconcerting when you hear "On your right", so move over, immediately followed by "On your left" as your passed on the other side :-o

Overall the cycle ride was great giving me one of my fastest ever times on the bike in a Triathlon. Next up was the run, what did do wrong? Well I left my race number in the transition area, costing me a few minutes on the at the beginning of the run to go retrieve it. The run is a flat course with a couple of out and backs, the nice thing about that is seeing all the people you know on the course running the opposite direction, I high-fived a few people I knew as we past. By the 4 mile of the temperature was starting to get to me so at the water stop I got some ice and put it in my hat to cool me down. I was watching my heart rate things were not good there it was 192bpm at mile 4.5, so I slowed things down a bit and continued the final couple of miles. The end finally in sight less than a half mile to go, also in sight was the restroom, preferring to finish strong rather than a very comfortable final run I did take that break. I then sprinted in the rest :-)

Finish Time: 2:47:30.8

Course Details:

Swim:
1.25K Swim
Swim: 28:18
T1: 4:38

Cycle (click here to view course on Google Earth):
40K
1 hour 14 minutes
20mph Avg Speed
T2: 1:40
923 Feet of Climbing

Run (click here to view run course on Google Earth):
57 minutes
9:17 per mile
195bpm Max heart rate


Wildflower 2006 Long Course - Event weekend

This was the day I had been training for since the end of January, I felt well prepared but it was still very daunting, my first Triathlon a Long Course (Half-Ironman) no less.

I arrived down at Lake San Antonio on Friday, so I could get my campsite setup and pick-up my registration packet. One of the things that worrying me was swim, after a truly awful experience on the practice weekend, so I went down to the lake with a couple of my team mates and for a quick swim. The water was much warmer than it had been back in March and that made all the difference, this was a good confidence builder for the race.

All the TNT teams from across the country gathered for dinner we had a couple of speeches from Honorees. The speeches were very inspirational a women described her continued fight with Leukemia and despite the fact she was still undergoing treatment, she was there to do the Long course along side everyone else. Then coaches gave us some final advice on the race.

After dinner there was still one thing I had to do, learn how to change a tire. I had some how managed to avoid changing tires the whole season, but it was on my list of things to do. I came prepared with a spare wheel to practice on, I was taking no chances with my race bike. I took a while but I figured out how to do it best, a good tip never take the tire completely of the rim :-)

I got very little sleep tossing and turning, brimming with anticipation and nerves.

Race Day

5:30am up for breakfast
6:00am start the long walk down to lake with my Tri bag and bicycle.
7:00am I was setting up my transition area getting all gear in place.
8:00am On swim ramp watching the first wave start
8:15am My swim starts!

I managed to start the race without getting concussed in the mass start, I kept my swim pace steady, a triathlon is not won in the water (not that I was planning on winning). Swimming and sighting, swimming and sighting, swimming and sighting, it was monotonous and seemed to go on forever. My arms were tiring towards the end and desperate to be out of the water, I saw the final buoy and then turned towards the finish, I came of the water looking like I had drowned.

Once I was out of the water I started to run towards the transition area to get on the bike, there were many of my team mates over were racing the next day there to cheer me on. I got out of the wetsuit and in to my bike gear and started to walk my bike out of the transition area. At the mount line I jumped on to my bike, but a small slip made for a very painful land on the saddle.

I took the start of the ride easy, there are sharp turns, pot holes and steep climbs at in the first few couple miles. Sooner than I had thought I was up at the top of Beach hill and there were some crowds and couple people cheering "Go Team", this spurred me on and I speed up as I left the park. I went past the first water stop which was at the corner of Interlake and Lake San Antonio Rd and headed along the rolling hills. I past a few people as I went a long and every so often, I was past by some much more expensive bikes with experienced Triathletes upon them.

I got some good speeds going along Jolon Road, then it was on to "Nasty Grade". It didn't seem nearly as bad a practice weekend, when I got to this point on the course there were many people bunched up all struggling up the hill, it is true misery loves company. I even managed to pass a few people going up it. After "Nasty" all I had to do was keep it going the next 14 miles, the downhill was fun but I knew I then had a lot of climbing to do as I went towards into the park.

Back in the park there were people cheering again as I headed down Lynch hill, I kept my speed down for safety and arrived back in the transition area. One of my coaches was there we spoke about something but it was pretty a blur. I headed out on the run hard determined run the course the way I had on practice weekend, this was a mistake....

There were a couple of important differences between practice weekend and the actual event, firstly I was doing the run right after the cycle, not the next day and secondly the weather was around 15F degrees hotter. I powered towards mile 4 and past a few people going up the big hill, however as I got closer to the top, I was burnt out. Going down the hill I was walking and everyone who I past was flying by.

Now on to the flat and exposed area I felt like I was melting and having serious stomach issues, one of my team mates flew by and said "Why aren't you running?", before I could curse, I mean answer he was in the distance. The next couple miles were really tough but then I caught with Berend, a mentor on the team I had run with a lot over the training season. I joined with him until we reach the campsite at mile 7.

The best moment of the race was passing through the campsite seeing all my team mates who doing the Olympic course the next day. They played the "Chariots of Fire" theme tune as I ran through!
This gave me a burst of energy for the next mile, but when the campsite was out of site, I couldn't keep up the pace. Berend continued on, I need to stop on the mile 8 rest stop get food and water.

The last 5 miles are indescribable, one thought that came to mind was "I should off raised far more money for the LLS to endure this kind of pain". There was the long decent and accent in and out of the pit to contend with, I kept trying to run but to the untrained eye it looked like I was walking :-)

The last mile was down Lynch Hill, I let gravity do it's job and carry me through. All I could think about was not the finish line but putting my legs which were burning, into the cool lake at the end of the race. As I turned the final corner, I could see the finish line!

It was over and I was still alive, even though I felt like I could drop dead at any moment. I made my way towards the the lake to soak my legs, there were a number of stairs leading down there, which proved to be quite the challenge as I very slow made my way down, a stranger someone offered to help me, this was much appreciated. I soaked in the lake for about 15 minutes then headed back to the finish line feeling slightly restored to cheer others in.

Final Time: 6 hours 42 Minutes

I had told myself and others that if I completed a Half-Ironman, I would attempt a full Ironman next year, and so the story continues....

Practice Weekend - Wildflower Long Course

It was a very grey and cold Saturday morning down at lake San Antonio when started out our very first open water swim. The previous weekend we had test out our wet suits in the swimming pool (75F) so we were indeed very warm in them. However someone had forgot to switch on the heater in lake! This meant the lake was around 48F, if your going to swim in open water for the first time to get the best possible experience the water should really be as cold as possible :-)
I walked into the water and soon lost all feeling in my feet and then my hands, the only thing between the water and my head was a thin swimming cap, not a neoprene cap (which I later found it was essential in this conditions). I found it all most impossible to swim with my head in the water, which meant I had a very slow pace. To complete the experience the water was nice a choppy :-) I was in the water for about 45minutes or a lifetime depending on how you look at it.

After the swim it was time to get dried off and onto bike for the 56 mile bike course that takes you around Lake San Antonio. Up until now are longest bike ride had been 35 miles, so this was to be a jump in mileage also this course has about 4500feet of climbing, which a fair bit.

The first taste of climbing is early on in ride, the climb up Beach hill is not without it's challenges, but then there is a a couple of rolling hills lead out of the park. From there you continue north going clockwise around the lake. Unfortunately while I had just got a new cycle computer for my bike, I hadn't yet fitted it so knowing how far long I was in the ride was going to be difficult. It turned out there was the occasional mile marker on the road, but they could be easy to miss. I just kept going at the pace I could, the road was mostly rolling hills which made for a fast ride. When I had gone about three quarters of the way around the lake the climbing really kicked hard as I approach the famous stretch of the course called "Nasty Grade", this is the 900feet of climbing that occurs at 40 miles when your legs are good and tired.

By this point in the ride everyone was very separated, I could occasionally see someone head in the distance or far behind, but at the hill I felt all alone. There are many turns going up and around each turn is more climbing, there was a bit of wind to keep things interesting also. Without any way of gauging my speed I it seemed it would be quicker if I got off the bike and walked up the hill, but I stuck it out on the bike not admitting defeat. Finally I thought I had reach the top instead right around a sharp bend was the steep part of the course an 8% grade climb, this was luckily short and ended the toughest part of the ride. Mostly down hill from then on and oh what a decent to start with, it is possible to get over 50mph going down this hill if you don't fear for your life. As I had no cycle computer, I'm not sure whether I feared for my life or not. :-)
At Mile 50 I was definitely feeling tired, but luckily there was only a couple miles to go at this point, one final hill entering the park on which I drop my chain so had to get off to fix it, apart from that is was smooth sailing. The final descent down to lake on "Lynch Hill" is a nerve racking experience, last thing you want to wipe on final corner.

Ride Details (Click here to view on Google Earth):
3hours 46minutes
3200 Calories (approx)
Heart Rate unknown
14.9mph Avg Speed

Sunday morning it was time for run course, 13.1 miles with a few more climbs of course :-) We started at 10am and unlike the previous day the weather was gorgeous and not too hot for the run either. The first few miles of the run were flat and I kept a good pace going, at mile 4 to 5 the real climb begins. Shortly after that we had a water stop at mile 6, that is when you realize your not even half and there is a still another 7.1 miles to go. The course goes through the campsite and then on to the road, a quick out and back into what is called "the pit" and then it is straight with a nice steep downhill to finish it off. I completed the run in approx 1hr 55mins.

Copyright Nick 2013. All right reserved.