Saturday, July 23, 2011

My First Triathlon

So now this is where my running journey has taken me. After finishing four marathons I needed something new. Running 5 days a week according to a strict schedule just wasn't cutting it anymore. Enter the triathlon.

As I stated in a previous posting I am signed up for the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines on September 4th. I stumbled across the Crossroads Triathlon in the mean time and thought it would be a perfect way to break the ice and see what it's all about. Crossroads is a great beginners tri, it is a 200 meter swim, 8 mile bike, and 2.1 mile run. I knew the bike and run would go well, it's the swim that I was worried about...and rightly so.

The triathlon is located about an hour away and started at 7am. We were up and going at 4am, on the road by 5, and we arrived at the park by 6. I picked up my race packet, took my bike to the transition area and got everything set up.
My transition set up. Feel free to critique.

Ok, I made my first mistake when I registered for the race. They asked for an approximate time on the swim and I must have put in a pretty fast time because they had me starting SECOND! It is a pool swim where the fastest swimmers go first, they started us all off one at a time every 10 seconds. It is a 50 meter pool so we swam down and back twice. Sounds pretty easy right? Well let me tell you...when it's your first triathlon and you are the SECOND person in the water, not knowing what the hell you are's not so easy.
The calm before the storm...GULP!

 Nerves and anxiety got the better of me and I was struggling before I ever got to the end of the first 50 meters. People were passing me like crazy, I even stopped at the wall to let a couple of swimmers go by me. My anxiety elevated with every lap, I just wanted to be done! I finally finished the last lap mostly with a breast stroke so that I could breathe. I was 2nd to start and from what I could tell, I was 14th out of the water. That 200 meters was about the toughest swim of my life and I was never so excited to hop out of the pool and make for the transition area!

Blazing through the first transition.

The transition went smoothly, I wasn't rushed and everything came together just fine, I was on the bike and into my element fairly quickly. Once on the bike I was able to calm down and take control of things. I focused on keeping a high cadence and keeping things moving at a decent pace. The second mistake I made with this triathlon is that I forgot my water bottles. What?! Yes, I had everything set out except for the water bottle I was taking. I was trying to be smart and had it in the freezer. Lucky for me, it was a short bike and I had a bottle of Gatorade that fit into my bottle cage. I passed 3-4 people on the bike but had 2 pass me, not a big deal because I knew I would be strong on the run. Surprisingly the bike portion was over pretty quickly (maybe because it was only 8 miles). 
Finishing up the bike portion.

I transitioned to the run without any problems. The nice part of the transitions is that I found that I don't have to wear socks with the Newtons, this kept me from having to fight with putting socks on my wet feet. Once I started the run my legs were a little wonky but not bad. I think I was just running with my pedaling cadence (which is not a bad thing). During the run I tried to keep a smooth even effort. I was able to pick off 3-4 more people over the 2.1 miles. 
Start of the run.

Cruising downhill.

Finishing strong.

This was the first year that they had chip timing at this event and something went wrong. We waited for quite some time to see results and when they started reading them off they realized that it wasn't right. So the only time I can go by for now is the time I saw on the clock minus my 10 second start delay, which would give me about a 47:10 finish.

I finished 1st in my age group and 16th overall. I am pretty psyched about this I just need some improvements in my swimming. You can check out the results here.

I definitely felt strong on the bike and the run but the swim about killed me. To give you an even better idea of how the swim went, my wife was embarrassed for me! That's ok, I really can laugh about it. This just means that I need some more swim training before September. 

My triathlon hobby is certainly not over. I am thankful that I was able to get in a good practice tri before my the big show in September. In spite of the swim, it was a great day!

The End

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Camelbak 2011 Fairfax Review

Back in June, after a lot of research, I finally pulled the trigger and purchased my first Camelbak. I don't really enjoy carrying a bottle with me. I have a couple of versions that fit on a belt that work ok but still bounce around when full and at times have not been enough to get me through the run.
I had a lot of reservations about running with a Camelbak, I just knew it was going to bounce around and annoy me. I selected the 2011 Fairfax because of its smaller reservoir (50oz), it is listed as a minimalist pack for cross-training or cycling, and it came in a highly visible and cool looking green.

Right out of the box the Fairfax seemed to fit me perfectly. 

It is a small pack but has been great for hands free hydration!

My first trial run went off without a hitch, I was impressed! There is not any significant bouncing while running with this pack. I did learn right away to tuck the bite valve out of the way under the front strap while running. It flops around quite a bit which gets annoying but is easily fixed. 

Note the hose and bite valve. 

This pack has plenty of storage room for me also. I can easily keep my cell phone and much more in the upper center pocket that also has a handy key fob. I am a sweaty beast when I run, many times I have to put my cell phone into a sealed baggy to keep it dry. This pocket eliminates the need and keeps everything in good shape.
If you need more storage, the bottom pocket is quite generous too. You could likely fit an ultralight rain jacket, or other items in this pocket.

I have used the Camelbak on several runs now and on the bike. Sure I have bottles for my bike but it's pretty handy drinking from the bite valve.
The reservoir has a wide and easy to use fill opening that allows me to dump ice cubes into it and also helps facilitate the cleaning.

The only downside that I can see from using a Camelbak is that it takes a little extra time to clean it out. I don't do anything special other than rinse it well, run plenty of warm water through the hose and the bite valve, and hang it to dry.  Not quite as handy as a water bottle, but very manageable. On one of my cycling adventures in the rain the Camelbak had muddy tires streaks up the back of it. I pulled out the bladder and washed the shell on gentle cycle. It came out as good as new.

The 2011 Fairfax has been a great pack for me so far. It has put to rest my negative assumptions about wearing a Camelbak while running. The 50oz capacity is more than anything else in my hydration line up and I can safely carry my cell phone, energy bars, keys, and more. The minor inconvenience of cleaning it is really nothing when you consider everything else. This pack definitely gets my recommendation!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tri - Update

Triathlon training update.
The Swim
I have to say that I am actually enjoying the swimming. It's not easy, but I am making a little progress each time I go out. Today I swam a total of 1,000 meters which included a couple of straight 200 meter swims. I still can't swim freestyle all the way but getting closer. I have learned to mostly stay relaxed in the water and not fight it which makes things much better.
I will say that I am still not 100% comfortable walking around in my tri shorts but they are pretty awesome while swimming.

The Bike
Being a runner, I never really thought much of biking, but since I started my training I enjoy it and it can be a nice workout too. One thing about biking is all of the cool stuff you can buy, or somebody with lots of money (not me). But...I did make a new purchase this week which should be arriving by Monday and they were really fairly inexpensive thanks to Amazon!
The Garmin Forerunner bike mount kit.

The Garmin Speed and Cadence Sensor
The Run
Actually now that I am only running 3 times a week instead of 5, I am enjoying it a lot more. I even had one of those dream runs where everything is just awesome earlier this week.

So....I know have 8 weeks to go before the Hy-Vee Triathlon.

I am seriously looking into a sprint tri coming up on July 23 to test the waters a bit ahead of time. I still have some serious swim work to do, but with 8 weeks to go I think I can get in another 16-18 practices including some open water swims.

It's a lot to bite off in that time but screw it, I will float on my back if I have to.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I must be crazy...

I have started and deleted several posts since my last one...but here it goes.
I was a little lost after Fargo. I had a lot of ideas about how I was going to proceed this year. I tossed around several thoughts including a revenge marathon, or doing something amazing like trying to run a marathon per month for a year. Lucky for me, I came down with a nasty case of bronchitis which definitely kept me from any revenge thoughts. But being sick also allowed me to do some deeper thinking. I am not convinced that the marathon is for me. Yeah maybe I am a little slow coming to that conclusion, I have already run four of them. Seriously though, in all of my running, I just don't get much enjoyment from any runs over 2 hours. I have not totally sworn off marathons or anything crazy like that, but for now, I am going to keep the runs shorter and mix up my training between swimming, biking, and running.

With this being said,  I have now officially signed up for my first triathlon!
Yes, this runner is now in training to become a triathlete. I waited until the last possible minute and then I did it, I will be doing the Hy-Vee Triathlon on September 4th.

As a runner, at least recently, I never really gave the triathlon much thought. This was mostly because I am not much of a swimmer. To put things into perspective, I am lucky to swim from one end of the pool and back without gasping for air, and's not a long pool at all. I can bike and I can run, but I have some serious work to do in order to be able to swim in open water for one mile by September 4th. I might be the guy doing a back float and doggie paddling just to finish. I am currently taking some swimming lessons and watching YouTube Videos, we'll see how that all shakes out. Wish me luck!

Looks interesting doesn't it?