Thursday, July 26, 2012

Google Earth Ironman NYC Bike Course

Here is a Google Earth view of one lap on the Ironman NY US Championship bike course.  Can't ride it ahead of time, so I guess aside from driving it, this is the next best thing.

I hope the trees don't block too much of the view, but I should be grinding out some serious watts over this course anyways.

Couldn't have an exact trace since its on a highway, but close enough.  One loop is about 2,000 feet of elevation gain.  Should be a great chance to hammer it too since there are no real big climbs, just long ups and down.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Racing, Injury and Life Updates!

After a good month off in May, some great training in June, and a few life changes thrown in the mix, life is better than ever!

#1 I think I have temporarily solved my heel problem.  I don't think anything can fix it until I take a few months off and seriously put some time into rehab and strengthening.  From my earlier post, my achilles tendinosis comes and goes with increases of run mileage.  Not quite the sharp pain I was feeling in the beginning of the year, but definitely a mental block keeping me from putting some hurt on my body while running.  Enter Hoka One One!  

Slowtwitch had an great review on these shoes last year, but at $170 and legs feeling great, I had not interest in trying them out.  Enter 2012 injury desperation and having them on sale and I was sold.  Getting the trail version first at a discount and running in them, I was sold from the first mile.  The extra cushioning was either a placebo, acting as the heel lifts recommended for my injury, or just held my feet better and removed much more impact.  I don't know and don't have anything scientific for you, but after putting in 10 miles with the Mafate 2, and then buying the Bondi B's the next week and getting a 16 mile day in, I was free of the second day soreness in my heel I had been experiencing.  This revelation lead me to be extremely excited for my race at Vineman 70.3!

#2 Always a great time up on the Russian River.  I have a perfect setup with one of my longest, best friends buying a cabin just west of Guerneville that I get access to.  Nice 5 mile warmup ride to the start.  Bike racked, business taken care of and ready to rip up the river.  Little disparaged about the late wave, 7:50 after a 6:30 start to the race, but everyone has to deal with the same, so I get over it.

Into the water for a little warmup, they guys in my 35-37 AG wave are definitely friendly for a change and some good banter while we wait for the start.  Waiting wasn't the right word as all we hear is this Charlie Brown teach voice say something, then "GO!".  Half the wave lets out a "Really!?"

Love my Fit2Race
Probably better that way, and keeps everyone honest.  I had clean water and kept to the middle of the outbound traffic for most of the upstream half.  Not much drafting, but clean water was suiting me as we encountered many people from earlier waves.  Some shallow spots where my long arms hit gravel too.  At the turns, people were wading, causing a log jam.  I navigated this fairly well and no standing.  Heading back toward Johnson Beach and I finally get some good feet to draft off and we make great time back, with good navigation as well.  Pushing hard to the finish and a good run up the beach I know it was a good swim, for me at least.

Swim Time: 30:36 - 250th Overall 37th AG - Full minute improvement over last year.

The bike went as planned from a race perspective.  Navigating wave traffic on my way out River Road, trying to be nice, but still having to yell "ON YOUR LEFT" a few times.  Luckily everyone except for one lady obliged with courtesy.  I won't repeat what she yelled back.  The course is a great one on the 70.3 circuit with the exception of 5 miles of really crappy 1960's concrete.  You have two big climbs and plenty of rolling vineyards.  Never boring with bends and it can be a task to stay aero at times with some of the 90 degree turns.  While overall the course is not "difficult", it can be a technical course with lots of gear shifting and turns to make bike handling skills a very large benefit.

One strange thing that I still can't figure out is the loud hissing I heard right before Chalk Hill.  I thought I had blown a tire from what it sounded like, so I even slowed down, but wheels were rolling true and no mushy feeling either.  Figured a CO2 popped, but both were sealed afterwards.  Nobody around me pulled over to fix a tire either.  Thinking back, there were a good deal of either live or dead snakes on the road there, and maybe I had a close encounter?

Taking Chalk Hill hard, flying down the hill and my one tragic event occurs.  My last bottle of water violently ejects off my back wing.  I'm down to maybe a quarter bottle of perpetuum for the last 10 miles of the bike.  I pretty much say screw it, and drive my body into dehydration for those last few miles because I wanted a stellar bike split.  Hammering away at 300-320 watts the whole way, I wanted to close hard as running was not going to be the strong suit for the day.  Hoping I had kept up on my drinking I was expecting the worst when I go back into transition and off my bike.

Bike Time: 2:22:42 40th Overall 7th AG - 1:30 improvement over last year

Slow transition because with my new Hoka One Ones, I haven't had a chance to dial in the speed laces, so having to tie them up took a minute.  Up and out of T2, slamming down as many cups of Gatorade and water I could gram and I'm out on the course.  Amazing friends Stefan and Virgilio are waiting half a mile down screaming and I'm feeling good.  Definitely a lot left in the tank, but since I hadn't tapered for this race, my bike suffered slightly, so I couldn't put myself into the red out there, or on the run.  My heel puts a mental limiter on my for the run anyways, so off on the road and I'm clipping away at the miles between 6:30 and 7:00 pace on the way out.  Rounding La Crema Winery and still strong running at sub 1:30 HM pace.  The route home was changed this year to "Help Traffic".  I guess its neighborly, but I love seeing everyone on their way out and cheering for people I know.  Now you run a short downhill/uphill out and back, where I can see my competition eating up time on me.  Definitely the 1st place AG'er from two waves back charging.  The legs are cooperating and letting me drop the hammer a bit more for the last three miles.  Virgilio was out on his bike yelling for Mike and me, giving splits to where our competition was.  I knew I was 3rd or 4th in my wave at that point, and so a near miracle for a podium.  Still wanting to push and get a good time I see Stefan cheering, and some other SF Tri Peeps along the finishing mile so I'm stretching my stride and pushing all the way in.  Eric Gilsenan gives me a great welcome over the PA and I'm happy with a new Vineman PR!

Run Time: 1:27:16 50th Overall 5th AG - 7 sec improvement over last year

Total Time: 4:27:10 28th Overall (removing Pro's) 8th AG

Very happy with the result as this was a test race to see where I was and make sure everything was a GO for IMNYC.  Happily, two weeks later, my heel has been holding up, and another great training week is in the books.  One last weekend, then its on to some taper and recovery before the big race.

#3 Amazingly as a triathlete and the world of Ironman, something even bigger has happened in my life recently.  The girlfriend has been creeping into posts, we moved in together, and she is an amazing person in my life.  On a beautiful summer day up on Mt. Tamalpais while hiking up to West Point Inn (site of our first hiking adventure), I proposed to Whitney and I was lucky enough to receive a yes.  Full story here.

There aren't many things to compare to some of our adventures in racing, but this tops anything I've done in life.  Whitney and I are looking forward to a long, healthy life together.

Sorry for the shackiness, but I asked some random MTB'ers to act like they were taking a picture with my camera, but I had it set to video.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2012 Season 1st half and catching up

Totally flaked on this post, but I'll finish it anyways 2 months later.
Last year put quite a beating on me, so I decided 2012 would include a bit of a break before the big push for IMNYC in August.  My girlfriend appreciates it, so we are both happy and it falls right while we were looking for an apartment together in SF, which is a harder task than you would think (thus the delays to blogging).  All the apartments we looked at had a line of people waiting.  Nearly two months of looking, and we finally found one!  The owner said she rented to us because Whitney was just "so nice, but persistent".  I think she just wanted us to stop calling her.  We'll get settled in and ready for the summer months.  Whit is happy because moving won't interrupt her summer vacation at all.  I'm sure that was the highest priority;)

Racing and training had finally all come together into May as well.  Wildflower became my early season A race as there was some disappointment in Oceanside with some mishaps and training blunders.  The ramp up and response to training was awesome over April and I could feel a good race coming on.  With a Double Mt. Diablo climb, highly place Presidio 10, hard raced Metro Tri, and amazing Lighthouse Ride, I had the confidence to go attack Wildflower Long Course.

The swim!

Finally some excitement can be had for a swim!  The past two years have brought nothing but disappointment for swimming in my races and Wildflower finally brought some joy to it.  Pushing out hard with the leaders, I had to slow a little to keep from freaking out, but then found a good rhythm, and a draft for a good portion of the race.  Exiting the water with a 30 for the first two digits was all I wanted and it finally happened.  A huge burst of energy helped me sprint up the boat ramp and out onto the bike. 

Swim time: 30:43 - 305th Overall

New helmet and all, I was pumped to be on the road with some slightly altered objectives for my bike.  The past few races, I've underperformed on the hills.  Trying to contain myself on climbs, I was going a little overboard and losing too much time.  Hitting the hills harder and leaving everything on the road was the objective, then relying on my training to have good run legs was the hope.  Wind blowing, but not as bad as last year, just the direction was worse as its angle, kept it a steady headwind out of the lake, until we made the turn off Jolon into the farmland.  Not sure how many people I managed to pick off, but it was a good race from how I was feeling.  Nasty Grade approaching, and it was HOT climbing.  Making sure things didn't fall apart, but also keeping some good pressure, all I could think about.  Climbing with and old friend who moved to LA, Ivan, was a lot of fun too.

Descending from the top of the course and into the rollers was still a task with winds picking back up.  Another top guy in my age group picked me off on Nasty, and I was hoping to reel him back in.  I knew he was a good runner, and I needed a gap to be able to have any hope of holding him off.  Stefan was also still ahead having an amazing bike.  Somehow his tiny little body puts out HUGE watts and I can't catch him.  Not knowing where I was in the race, but feeling good it was still time to push it into the Lake.

Through the gates, and down the hill, I find transition empty!  Such a great feeling being able to count the bikes in transition for who is in your age group.  A sweet P4 (naturally David Condon who is off the front and un-catchable), two others I don't recognize and Stefan's yellow Felt.  Rack the bike, shoes on and I'm off to see how my legs and heel are willing to cooperate. 

Bike time: 2:34:56 - 17th Overall - 302 Watts - Wahoo!!!!

Quickly out of the crowd I get to hear a friend Renee screaming for me.  "Stefan's got 2 minutes on you!".  Wow!  He crushed the bike, but I made up time on him in Kona, so lets see what I've got.  Feeling good along the lake and into the hills, everything feels good.  Heel holding up, not fatigued (as much as I can hope), and head ready for some damage.  All the sudden, this string bean comes blowing by on a hill that was in my age group.  I scream a bit of sarcasm and hate for the lightweight, but cheer him on for the good run.  Crap, 6th!  Time for some work.  I know I can't make up time without really hurting myself on the hills so some patience was in order.  Cresting the last big climb and into the steep trail descent at mile 6 and the legs fly! 

The run through the campgrounds was awesome.  So many people cheering and yelling, always a big push.  Climbing to the top of the pit and down I finally see Stefan climbing out.  He has some distance on me, but there is a chance.  Turnaround point and climbing out, Ritch Viola comes by and offers some encouragement as he is another lightweight, cruising up the hill and seeing the labor of me charging up.  All I can do is hope to keep the 20 yards between us as we run the final 2 miles home.  Thought of my Grandmother (funeral was the same day as Wildflower) filled my head and my energy tank and I know she was with me.  (Ritch is just a stud, making up 10 minutes on me from 2 waves back)  Coming up on the final mile downhill and I can crush it with strong legs left.  Absolutely pain in the quads from the pounding, but the legs can take it and the heel is holding up.  Finally in one of the turns I can see Stefan and he is not taking the hill as fast.  Flying to the bottom of the hill I take him, but slow to finish together.  I had the race, but Stefan has been a driving force in my training and sharing the finishing shoot was a treat.

Run Time: 1:33:21 55th Overall
Total: 4:43:44 5th AG-22nd Overall

So many emotions went into this race with recovering and managing my injuries, to my Grandmother passing and racing in her honor.  I wanted to be there for the family back East, but my father told me to stay and race.  Knowing she was watching was a godsend and I was happy to have the race of my life that day at Wildflower.
My reward!