Friday, July 29, 2011

A Ride of Silence

As some of you know my dad was hit from behind by a vehicle while riding his bicycle home from work on Wednesday evening.  Please let this be a wake up call for the state of MI that has a much higher than average vehicle-bicycle fatality rate.

The Ride of Silence...
Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight's ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride

I love you daddy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stumpy Creek International Race Recap

The Stumpy Creek International Tri was located in Mooresville, NC.   A good point between DC and Atlanta for Ryan and I to meet up - and for Ryan to get his first taste of an International Distance Tri!  The drive from DC to Mooresville was absolutely gorgeous along 81 and 77 and no traffic issues.  I am thankful I decided on this route in lieu of 95.  I hear 95 can be a mess during beach season.

Pre-Race: Friday Evening
A Saturday race meant a busy Friday - traveling, packet pickup, dinner, and getting everything together for the race in time for an early bed time.  Packet pick-up was not crowded at all and easy to find.  Ryan and I were a bit surprised that we couldn't see the water or transition from packet pick-up/finish-line.  Though, we were on pristine soccer fields, so I felt right at home :).   After getting our packets and scoping out transition we set out to find dinner.  I prefer simple Olive Garden with unruly amount of salad and pasta with marinara for pre-race dinners on the road.  No Olive Garden in the area so we found a local Italian joint which turned out to be quite good.  We stopped across the street at Dick's and picked up a bike rack for my car since I'd been needing one and then headed back to the hotel to get everything set for Saturday morning and get some rest.

Pre-Race: Saturday AM
Transition set and ready.  Treks hanging out.
Alarms went off rather early at 4:35 AM.  I had my usual breakfast of Special K Red Berried with banana and Almond Milk.  Got into race gear, loaded the bikes onto the car and set off for the race site - it was pouring rain!  We were determined to be early enough to have time to get in a warm-up swim.  Last month at Tri Latta parking was a hot mess and we ended up having just enough time to set everything up before transition closed - no time for a warm up.  We weren't going to let that happen again so we got to the race site super early!  We arrived around 5:45, luckily the rain had stopped, and started setting up transition, picking up timing chips and taking care of business.  Ryan and I were on the same bike rack, which was interesting.  The weather was....cold!  It was about 64 on race morning quite a shock since DC had been hovering close to 100 in the days leading up to the race.  The water temp was about 86 degrees so it felt very warm compared to the air.  We had more than enough time to get in a warm up swim.  This was good for Ryan - who's race started only 3 minutes after the first wave - at 7:03.  My race, on the other hand didn't start until 7:15, which meant I froze once I got out of the water and waited to get back in.

THE SWIM - 1500m
I was determined to do well in this.  My swim at Tri Latta was sub-par and I knew I was capable of better.  I took that energy to go better and put it into my swim at last weekend's training tri with the DC Tri Club.  I had had a great swim the weekend before this race and was hoping to ride the wave on into this race.  While waiting in the coral to enter the water I learned a few girls were college swimmers at Davidson and Columbia - great.  I bet they're better at swimming than a college soccer player...
I lined up on the inside just to the left of the buoy's, this start position workout out well.  I had a decent start, but I need to get more comfortable fighting through the first 100-200m instead of conceding to avoid being hit, kicked and swam over.  I was relaxed in the water and my breathing was going well.  I guess I was too relaxed though, because my final time was surprisingly horrible.  On a good note I did pass one of the college swimmers around 1200m, that's really the only good thing to come of this swim.  And the fire relit inside me to swim my butt off next weekend.  The final time was 3 minutes worse than my swim time at Nation's last year - and I know I am a better swimmer now than I was then.
Final Swim Time: 37:26

Beautiful Lake Norman.
T1 went well.  I felt great running out of the water, understandably so because apparently I didn't push myself very hard during the swim.
T1 Time: 1:26

The Bike - 27 Miles
The course was adjusted a couple weeks prior to the race and turned out to be slightly longer than your average International Distance Tri course would be.  It was a fun course with many hills and little traffic.  I took 2 PowerGels on the ride and felt good the whole time.  My Trek Road bike holds up pretty well to the Tri Bikes - but I am looking to get on a Tri bike soon.  Gorgeous mountain and nature views on a pretty shaded course.  The weather stayed at an overcast 64 throughout the ride.  My legs felt strong throughout the ride.
Final Bike Time: 1:25:33

A little snafu during T2 slowed me down a bit, so I woulda/shoulda been about 30 seconds faster.  As I was bringing my bike in to re-rack two bikes that had already been re-racked across from each other in my row were practically touching - ie not enough room to fit a person, let alone a bike through.  I proceeded to knock into the bikes as did a runner coming out of  T2.  After getting by we both stopped to pick up the bikes before continuing on.  Other than this snafu T2 went well.
Final T2 Time: 1:50

This bike has been on my mind.
  Any reviews, thoughts, advice?
By far the best part of this race and my race.  I set a a new PR for the 10K.  The course was a 2-loop hilly course.  The weather stayed at 64 and there was heed, water, and cold sponges along the run course.  I passed Ryan about 1/2 way through the run, around the same time Rascal Flatts was playing over the speakers which made me happy and probably run faster.  The 2-loop course allowed me to scope out the course and know where to push myself during the 2nd loop.  I concentrated on picking off people 1 by 1 during the run.  It worked to an extent.  At the end of the run I caught a glimpse of someone I recognized as being in my age group.  I kicked up my speed to try and catch her - I gained on her but ran out of room and I finished 18 seconds behind her.  
Final 10k Time: 48:34

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Every race offers a new insight to my training, my mentality and areas of improvement.  Mentally I think I am in a good place for the bike and the run.  I am able to push myself during these two disciplines and generally finish in the top 3 in my age group (I was 3rd in the bike and 2nd on the run for this race).  Yes, I once again lost this race in the swim.  I am not comfortable pushing myself in the water.  I can swim fast enough to achieve a respectable time - such as last weeks 7:48 400M at the Training Tri.  I know I have the endurance to swim hard for 30 minutes.,  It's time to put it all together.  Sunday, at Mid-Atlantic Club Championships/Rockett's Landing it well be better.  I think I've made some gains mentally in regards to the swim since Saturday.  I am proud of the run.  It will be hard to be this time next weekend with the weather predicted to be about 100.  I will build on it use it as a confidence booster.

Mooresville, NC
A great little town.  Nice movie theater where we saw Harry Potter 7.2 Saturday afternoon.  Relaxed at a dueling piano bar on Saturday night lakeside.  State park in the area as well.  We left mid-morning in Sunday to get back in time to prepare for our busy weeks.  I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a challenging International Distance event at an affordable price.  The post-race festivities weren't much to write home about but we had a good time.

On Another Note - I few have inquired about the ultimate goal in regards to triathlon.  Trust me I've got them, I will share/post soon about these.  Everything is coming together quite nicely.

"Those who think only sunshine brings happiness haven't learned to dance in the rain."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Training to Tri or Trying to Train?

Is the race you're hoping for the race you've been training for?

After the DC Tri Club Training Tri this morning I know I am on track for my upcoming races.  I can confidently say that with the addition of the my new swim workouts from the DC Tri Club I am specifically training to tri and not just trying to train.  I had realized after my first couple races that my swimming just wasn't coming along as I had planned.  After taking a day to blame everything and everyone else I took a look at what I was doing.  I realized that I wasn't challenging my body to meet new challenges and get faster.  I was comfortable getting in the pool every morning and doing the same workout I had done the previous week.  All too often we become comfortable in situations and stop pushing ourselves outside our comfort zones.

The training tri was a great opportunity to push myself outside my comfort zone.  A pool swim with time trial start allowed me to focus on my stroke, my breathing, and pushing myself throughout the entire swim.  The thrill of catching the person that started 15s ahead of me was motivation too.  With no pressure I had the opportunity to push myself in each discipline harder than I've really pushed myself before.  I wanted to see what I could do on the bike and see how my legs handled the run after a hard bike.  The training tri was sprint distance so I knew the pain wouldn't last too long and that my body should be able to go hard throughout the entire race.

I surprised myself and pushed myself beyond limits I wasn't expecting I could.  The motivation of having a group of 100 people training together for the same purpose and cheering and pushing you (whether they know it or not) is a great atmosphere.  At official races their is a similar atmosphere of camaraderie among triathletes but within it exists even more so.  Having the opportunity to meet so many  other triathletes in the area and exchange info so we can start training together was great.  After the race we had a barbecue, yes at 10am, but the conversation, food and friendships was great.  Hearing stories of how others began their multisport lifestyle and why they enjoy it, also hearing that other people are called "crazy" by friends and family is something everyone needs once in awhile.

If you have never trained with a group, even just every so often it can help take you from trying to train to training to tri.  Official word has come through that I got my final internship placement at PT Solutions in Acworth, GA at the Acworth East location.  I am most excited for this placement because they have a Multisport team, host clinics, and co-host a race series in Georgia.  The weather will be great for outdoor training in the "winter".  It will be hard to leave DC and the DC Tri Club and my "usual" routes but alas change is necessary to make us grow and push us out of our comfort zone.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Busy Living in a Perfect Day

An early start to the day with a great breakfast of Special K with fresh strawberries and frozen bananas set me up for success.  I made the trip out to Front Royal, VA to join some fellow members of the DC Tri Club for a Skyline Drive bike ride.  I am not from around here and wasn't familiar with Skyline Drive, except for the exceptional views and surrounding nature that I've read about.  The drive out was not bad - the traffic around DC is quite tame at 6am on a Saturday.  I ventured out to Spelunker's in Front Royal to meet up with the crew.  This was my first ride, workout, for that matter with DC Tri so I was going in blind.

Do you have a go to Breakfast, what is it? 

When I pulled up to Spelunker's DC Tri members were easily identifiable - bike shorts, jerseys, assembling bikes, etc.  I met a few nice people and decided to head out with them at our previously decided wheels down time of 7:30am.  As we road up the road to enter Shenandoah National Park a couple people who had ridden the route before filled me in.  It's all hills, you'll love it!  Oh boy, it surely was all hills.  The first 8 miles were up a mountain!  We didn't stay in a group for too long and just spread out along the road with some of the guys catching us on the uphills.  Riding up a mountain slows you down, but it's a good workout.  I decided I would ride for about 4 hours.  I hadn't ridden much over 3 previously and nothing over 45 miles.  Many members were setting out for 80-110 miles - but I had to came it tame at 50 miles, especially after the wake up call of the first 8 miles!  Turns out the 110ers are training for Ironman Wisconsin, when I'm training for Ironman Wisconsin I'll ride 110 miles in the mountains too, someday.
The peace and serenity was great.  As I rode through the mountains and the mostly shaded road it was actually a little chilly.  Especially when speeding downhill!  The scenic overlooks every mile or so gave a gorgeous view of the valleys below.  It was so great to be out of the city, not riding circles around Hains Point and to be surrounded by people with similar goals - even if we all didn't ride in a pack.  I started to doubt weather or not I'd even be able to make it 50 miles as we just climbed and climbed in the beginning.  Every time I hit a downhill it was awesome, but felt so short in comparison to how much time I put in climbing to the top.  I settled in around 15 miles or so and was quite comfortable and starting to realize that I was going up higher every time a new climb came along.  I figured this meant the ride back would be better.  I pushed on climbing and racing down the mountains.  Traffic was minimal and Nature's surrounds made every bit of hard work worth it.

Where's your favorite place to ride?

The worst thing that happened on my perfect day - well while going about 35mph a bee/wasp/large bug got caught up in my helmet strap and hair near my ear.  I heard the buzzing and when I was comfortable enough I tried to swat him away only to realize he was stuck.  So I slapped and grabbed at him, but he was quick enough to sting/bite me before I got rid of him.  It hurt like the dickens and it still hurts.  The price of such gorgeous views and surroundings I guess.

I made it 25 miles out and decided to forego the rest stop that most were stopping at and just turn around and head back the other direction as I wanted to get a run in as well.  The ride back was awesomesauce.  A bit faster than the ride out due to the overall downhill of it but it still had some nasty climbs.  I took a PowerGel and made sure to hydrate.  Saw a lot of cyclists headed out on my way back.  The chilly morning mountain air was slowly being replaced by ridiculous heat as I headed back toward Front Royal.  While on Skyline Drive and in the shade the warmest it ever got was 75, as soon as I headed out of Shenandoah National Park and back into Front Royal it was a roaring 90!  Great running weather.

I headed out for a run around town.  I was instantly reminded of my running days in Statesboro, GA.  A nice cute town with an element of Southern Charm and plenty of mom and pop shops and diners!  I felt great on the run as well! Great things are in store for Augusta 70.3! I grabbed and ice water and frozen lemonade from Spelunker's before trekking back into the city.

A perfect recovery lunch was in store when I got home.  Peanut butter & Jelly and Chocolate Milk.  Lunch of champions.  Chocolate milk is arguably the best recovery drink out there.  More races need it at the finish line/athlete food tent.  The day is not even close to over but I can't help but thank God for the strength and ability to accomplish such a workout and for providing such amazing scenery.  "We'll Sing and Dance to Mother Nature's song."  His works are amazing, open your eyes and look around you.

A perfect day, and the day is yet to be over.  I can honestly say if there was a way to have such perfect days everyday and not work in the hospital for 8 hours everyday I would sign up now.  I guess I'll have to wait until I get that dream job.

What is your Perfect Day?