Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ironman Chattanooga Full Recap – Warning Long

There will not be another first Ironman or one just like this, so before the crispness of these memories fade I want to get them down on paper.  
Me & my Mom

The Important Stuff: 
As I hope everyone knows I was doing this race in honor of Ray DePauw and to raise money for the ALS Guardian Angels Foundation, which assists families battling ALS.  It is not too late to donate but it soon will be.  Shortly I will be making my donation and ending this campaign.  We will surpass $7,000 and exceed my goal by 40%.  Thank you so much for everyone who has donated thus far.  Here is the link to the details to donate for anyone looking to get in at the last moment; every donation makes a difference:

The Numbers:
2.4 Mile* Swim:         48:15               1:14/100m pace*         16th in my age group
Transition 1                  5:21              
116 Mile Bike **     5:47:29               20.03 mph                   fell to 49th in my age group
Transition 2                  3:16
26.2 Mile Run          3:10:51               7:17 mins/mile ran myself up to 14th in AG

FINISH TIME         9:55:12               14 in AG 30-34           93rd Overall

*down river swim with significant current on race day
**4 miles longer than the traditional 112 IM bike

The Training:
I registered for IMChoo a year in advance after a solid performance in the Setup NC tri series, which was capped off by a 4:42 in the Carolina Half Iron distance triathlon.  I had a long time to get ready and for the most part my training went well.  The only issue was after running 2:43 at Boston I was stubborn and didn’t take enough time off and strained/tore muscle tissue in my calf.  It was one of the most frustrating injuries I have suffered because when it happened I was in great shape but I couldn’t run for the vast majority of my IM training plan.  I used that time to try and work on my swim and bike.  I was somewhat successful at that.  I made my own training plan and it got the job done. The hardest parts were staying consistent week to week, finding people to ride with and not running.  But my calf healed just in time to have a 5-week marathon-training plan with long runs of 8, 12, 16, 20 and 12 fast-ish. 

The Swim:
The logistics of an IM race are completely different from short/local tri’s. Thankfully I have had Danielle with me every step of the way to help get things organized and set up.  She was amazing in the months leading up to the race and even more so the morning of the race getting me to transition to do final tire inflate and put my bottles on my bike.  As it was a downriver swim there was a bus ride to the start.  The ride was longer than you would think and particularly anxious.  Then there was the wait from about 6am until the 7:30 start.  The swim start was just a long line of people jumping off a dock.  So once the pros went off I walked my way as close to the front as I felt I could get in order to have a decent starting position.  I had two simple strategies for the swim that went hand in hand.  One, protect my right shoulder and, two, get out toward the center of the river as much as possible in hopes of benefitting from the strongest current possible. 

Waiting patiently at the
swim star
            The swim start was glorious.  Shortly after the cannon sounded I jogged all the way out of the end of the dock and jumped in at the same time as maybe 5 others.  I immediately swam somewhat diagonally toward the middle of the channel while everyone else seemed to swim toward the first buoy.  I was pretty much alone on the right edge of the swim toward the center of the river.  Instead of sighting buoy to buoy I was looking as far down the river as possible and in so doing took some of the bend out of the swim course, essentially swimming the tangent.  The swim was long but I took it easy just trying to stay relaxed, long and smooth.  Only twice did I catch some feet to follow, and even then I wasn’t willing to leave my pace or line to follow them so the drafting was brief. 

            I was happy to swim under the bridges, along the boats and make my way to the stairs out of the water.  I had no idea at the time but the river current was strong and my swim strategy seemed to work as I had an incredible swim getting out of the water 14th in my age group.  I felt great. 

            As I ran along the water toward T1 the crowds were deep and loud but I spotted Danielle and my Mom, which was a great feeling; they were so excited!  There was a steep hill up to transition and I just took it easy and focused on being relaxed, deliberate and not making any mistakes.  All day long the volunteers were terrific, they found my bag of bike stuff, helped me transition and got me on my way efficiently.  I grabbed my bike and saw my family again before mounting my bike. 

The Bike:
            I was probably most concerned about the bike.  The bike is my weakness, this bike was 116 miles long and it was the one place where a mechanical issue could ruin or end my race.  Thankfully my bike had been thoroughly checked and tuned up by the good people at Inside-Out Sports (they even helped me with getting my rear wheel on and off, which was totally different from my road bike.  Without their [James’] help, a flat would have been devastating). 

My plan for the bike was also very simple: TAKE IT EASY.  I had previously ridden 3 laps of the two-lap course, I knew it wasn’t a hard course, but it was long.  If I was going to err, it was going to be on the side of taking it too easy on the bike.  When they changed the course one month before the race they actually made it easier/faster with more highway sections and better roads.  I had previously decided that based on my training rides on the course, 20 mph (in good conditions) was my upper limit and I wasn’t ever sure that would feel easy enough to maintain at my desired effort level.  This is all guesswork since I don’t ride with a power meter. 

            I left transition feeling good and taking it easy.  My only issue was dropping my flat kit as I went over a set of railroad tracks in the very first mile.  Picked it up and lost maybe a minute and I was on my way.  The bike was really uneventful; I took it very easy on the first lap, drank a lot, eat a good amount and was passed a ton.  I stopped at bike special needs at around mile 58 and swapped out two bottles and took a gel.  Danielle was there to cheer me on which was amazing.  I let her know that I felt good and that if anything I needed to slow down (as I was averaging slightly above 20 mph). 

Max & Otis cheering
me on from CLT.
            On the second loop there were bikes everywhere and intentionally or not many of the riders were in large packs, which were hard to avoid.  20 mph felt surprisingly good and I was content to stick to my plan.  After completing the largest climb on the course for the second time I made the turn on to the scenic rolling back section of the loop.  Here I was passed by a particularly large pack of riders, unfortunately they passed me just before going into one of the rolling hills and they promptly slowed down and I rode right into the back of them and had nowhere to go since they were riding 2 and 3 wide.  Ironically at this moment a course marshal came by and I was at the back of the pack.  He pulled up to me and gave me an overtaken penalty.  Thankfully it was a stop-and-go yellow card.  Technically it was correct and I took it in stride.  It was a long day, these things will happen.  I served my penalty around mile 100 and made my way toward the finish.  It is weird that with 15 miles to go (the distance of the bike in a sprint tri) mentally I felt like I was there and just focused on keeping it easy, eating, drinking and getting mentally and physically ready to run. 

            In the last 5 miles I was passed by a huge and constant mass of riders squeezing the last few seconds of advantage out of the bike course.  I was so excited to get off my bike, once on the run I knew that nothing could stop me from finishing and I felt shockingly good.  Dismount was awesome there was a huge crowd and I caught a glimpse of Danielle which was great.  I got off my bike and the next volunteer in a long line of bike catchers immediately took the bike from me; it was a rock star feeling. 

            Once again the volunteers were amazing.  After dropping my bike I ran through the T2 bags and the volunteers had mine in my hand before I got to it.  I wore my Castelli Body Paint tri suit throughout so a quick stop in the tent to take an e-gel, put on my Karhus, grab some water and my run belt with salt tabs attached and I was on my way.  It was a deliberate but efficient stop with no mistakes. 

The Run:
            I clicked my garmin into run mode and departed on the run.  The course took us back along the water by the swim finish.  Before going down the big hill I saw Danielle and my Mom.  Once again that gave me a big lift and I let them know that I was feeling great.  I felt like I was moving well and was cognizant that I needed to keep my pace reasonable starting out and not get too excited from the emotion.  I was shocked that a half-mile into the run someone smoothly started to pass by me.  I was relieved to see that it was pro triathlete, Patrick Evoe, starting his second loop.  I matched his pace as he slowed on the hill.  He gave me a look like “what is this guy doing?” so I asked him how he was doing, he responded to the effect of, ‘not great in 10th”.  He also accurately warned me of the difficulty of the run course and advised me to take it easy before picking his pace up and passing me.  I would later pass him back on the hills of the north side of the river. 

            Not surprisingly the run was my favorite part of the race.  The volunteers and spectators were incredible.  I don’t know that I have ever raced with my name on my bib so I was shocked initially to hear my name over and over again, but it was great.  The course was a loop on the south side of the river going out on a greenway along the river and coming back along the side of a highway.  The highway crossed over the north side of the river for a very hilly loop before coming back over the pedestrian bridge to do it again.  Starting the run I did some quick math and it seemed a 3:15ish marathon would have me finishing just after 5:30, which was 10 hours after the 7:30 am start.  I knew that if I finished by (or just after) 5:30 I would break 10 hours.  At this point I didn’t know how lightning fast the swim was so I just kept doing the math trying to figure out my mistake or why I was so far ahead of schedule. 

Real life or time for
a salt tablet?
            Around mile 2 I caught up with Charlotte triathlete Michael Greene.  I chatted with him for a minute before pulling off for a quick porta-pottie stop.  I was back running in under a minute and kept a steady pace around 7:15, which felt good and easy.  Much of the run is a blur.  I knew if I kept it easy I would break 10 hours (thanks to the swim).  So my mantra on the run was “easy, easy, easy.” The long stretches of calm and concentrating on staying smooth and easy were punctuated by the moments of seeing familiar faces cheering me on.  I saw Danielle and Heath multiple times and the Ice Racing crew was out in full force winning the spectating battle as usual.  The first time I saw Tim in his unicorn getup I figured I was losing it and needed a salt tablet. 

            The course on the north side of the river did not disappoint as the hills were ridiculous and it was nearly constant climbing or descending.  On my first lap I saw Frank on his way in and we exchanged high 5’s as I wondered how far the loop was and how far ahead of me he was.  I did my best to stay easy up the hills and claw a little time back on the declines knowing that next time they would hurt a whole lot more.  I crossed over the pedestrian bridge and looked down into the water thinking it was an eternity since I was down there swimming.   Thankfully we didn’t have to go right by the finish before starting the second loop.
Heath captured this great shot.

           I had been waiting a year for this second loop and I was feeling good.  I was 100% under control all day to have something left here.  I felt good; my only concern was the occasional shooting pre-cramp.  To fight off the possibility of cramping I was taking a sip of water and perform at pretty much every aid station.  I was also taking a salt tablet every 40 minutes or so.  I had no nutrition plan for the run and just began grabbing a gu at about every other aid station and either taking it or carrying it a bit depending on how I was feeling.  By the second loop there were people everywhere and I was flying by them.  Off the bike I was in 411th place, I passed over 300 people to finish in 93rd overall.

            My confidence on the run increased with each mile.  I was tiring but I was holding pace very well.  I have tracked a lot of ironman’s and almost everyone comes apart in the last 6-10 miles, I wanted to avoid that.  Crossing back over the river I knew that I just had to survive the last 6 or so miles in 7:30 pace and I would definitely finish under 10.  The hills of the north side definitely hurt and took their toll the second time around.  I passed Frank as he was stretching and patted him on the backside and told him to get moving. Once he realized who it was he shouted encouragement to me and I returned the support. 

            I gutted out the last of the miles and hills and made my way to the pedestrian bridge where I could see and hear the finish.  By this point I was starring at calves as I passed people looking to move up in my age group.  I still didn’t understand just how fast everyone’s swims were so all I could think to myself was sub 10 with a bike that was 4 miles too long maybe that gives me a chance…  My goals coming in were:  (1) finish, (2) have fun, (3) Sub 11.  I had previously said publically that I thought sub 10 was possible but after the bike course became 116 miles I figured that dream was dead.  Also, I wanted this to be as great an experience as possible so I didn’t want to blow up chasing a relatively arbitrary goal.  But now I wanted to pass everyone I could. 

With my beautiful wife
in the finishing chute.
      I ended up not being close to anyone in my age group at the end and was able to savor the finish just a little bit.  I heard Mike Reilly declare me an Ironman and glanced down at the word “Ray” written on my left forearm as I crossed the finish line.  There was a quick fist pump and then the emotion of a year’s worth of training and 10 hours worth of racing hit me all at once.  I did it, I demolished my goals, I broke 10 hours.  Some glorious volunteer wrapped me in a space blanket while another took my chip and strap off my ankle (pro tip:  not the job you want).  The first volunteer walked me through the chute asking what I wanted or needed.  I just wanted Danielle.  She was there immediately and was going nuts; she is the best Ironmate ever!  Then I wanted to know my time and place.  First the good news:  9:55:12!!  Thanks to the swim I was still able to bust under 10 hours even with the long bike, which ended up being a much easier/faster course than expected. 

Then Danielle told me I was 14th in my age group, 93rd overall, and I was shocked, I was too happy and relieved to be disappointed, but I was shocked.  Pretty much at that moment I knew I was doing another one.   The shock quickly faded away and I enjoyed what I had done.  It never really felt like a long day and with all the things that could go wrong I definitely felt like I had someone looking out for me that day. 

Post Race:
Don't I look happy?
Danielle helped me back to the hotel when I took one of the happiest showers of my life.  After that we celebrated over pizza and beers together, just sitting with Danielle was one of the greatest feelings in the world.  I couldn’t have done any of this without her and she deservingly shared in the celebration and accomplishment.  After the shower and food I was feeling almost human and we packed up all my stuff and took it back to the hotel so we could get back to the finish to watch the evening finishers. 

A little after 11pm we were back at the finish enjoying cheering in finishers.  I then hobbled back up to the pedestrian bridge to look for Herb Brown, the oldest competitor (78) in the race.  Herb was right on schedule with under a mile to go and over a half hour to get there.  I think I was more excited about his finish than I was my own.  He ran down the final hill, into the chute and across the finish line as the late night crowd went wild. I was concerned about the late start and long bike course jeopardizing his finish but he confidently strode across the finish line with time to spare.  His finished earned him his second Kona slot of the year (Lake Placid), which he passed on once again.  He says he will go back when he is in the 80-84 age group, what a boss. 
Herb finishing strong.

Thank Yous:
            There are so many people to thank for making this dream come true.  Clearly, first and foremost is my beautiful, wonderful, caring, compassionate, patient, supportive wife.  There is absolutely no way I could have done this without her help and support.  She tolerated me when I couldn’t run, she rode with me when she didn’t want to or have to, she handled all of the logistics and details that would have derailed me.  She made this possible and I am very grateful to have her as my teammate. 

            I also have to thank Ray and Nancy DePauw for inspiring me and giving me strength on the days my strength alone wasn’t enough.  In the same vein, I also have to thank each and every one of the individuals and families who supported me and donated to the ALS Guardian Angels in Ray’s honor.  Your generosity is overwhelming.  Special thanks to my Mom and Jim for coming down to see me and my sister for understanding my absence this summer- I can’t wait to get home for Thanksgiving.  Thank you to all the people who trained with me and made the hard days easier.  Thanks to Inside-Out Sports for making me feel like a pro and setting me up just as well (in spite of my bike ignorance, and making me a little less ignorant along the way).  Finally special thanks to Max and Otis for always being willing to nap after a long morning bike. 

Epilogue (yeah this recap it so long it has an epilogue):
Beer tastes extra good.
            I said throughout that I would be one and done at the Ironman distance.  No one believed me, but I insisted.  I was wrong, they were right.  I could “retire” my sports career today and this year alone would be enough of a success (2:43 Boston Marathon, 9:55 Ironman).  But I am left with the overwhelming sense that if I could figure out the bike I could go to Hawaii.  Although relatively satisfied I am left with more questions than answer:  How is my bike so much worse than my run?  Can I get 1mph faster on the bike?  2mph?  Do I want to do another Ironman? [Yes] Do I want to train for another Ironman?  Can I find a half an hour?  Placid or Mont-Tremblant?  Try to steal a slot at Lake Tahoe?  Power meter or trainer?  Kickr or Computrainer?  All I know is Danielle is spending more time on the Ironman website than I am and she sent me a text today that read:  “Mont Tremblant is only $640 registration fee, $715 Canadian!”  Looks like I am gonna take a swing at Kona, either way I owe Danielle a Hawaiian vacation.   

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Relay


All ready to go pre-race.
On October 20th I particpated in the Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Relay.  Obviously, I was recruited for the run leg.   My plan was to start easy and stay around 6:40-6:45 through 20. If I was feeling good after 20, pick it up.  I was hoping to feel good throughout and use this as a good training run for Philly/good assessment of my current fitness.  The course appears to be a bit short, but it's hard to tell since there were a lot of turns, which the garmin does not like.  It does not matter either way, as this was just a training run not a race.  I felt very good and only really worked hard the last few miles.  Surprisingly enough, my legs felt pretty good afterwards and I was able to walk around without issue.  On Sunday, Dee & I did a very easy 8 mile run to shake the legs out- something I'm not always able to do post marathon, so I'm cautiously optimistic about my fitness for Philly.

1 6:32.0
2 6:58.7
3 6:44.7
4 6:43.9
5 6:40.0
6 6:38.3
7 6:44.2
8 6:38.7
9 6:43.0
10 6:41.5
11 6:43.6
12 6:41.4
13 6:29.9 (good bit of downhill)
14 6:16.5 (big downhill & crowd at the turnaround)
15 6:41.1
16 6:38.5
17 6:32.2
18 6:33.9
19 6:32.1
20 6:37.9
21 6:24.8
22 6:22.7
23 6:26.9
24 6:19.0
25 6:06.1
26 5:59.3
27 :07.2 0.02  (5:27 pace)

Overall, our team crushed it.  Our total time was 8:14:30, which was well under our goal of sub 8:30.  Our swimmer cruised in 45:34, our biker dominated the field in 4:34:10, and I ran a race best 2:50:58 (3:49 of transition time).  It was a lot of fun to be a part of such a fast team and get to see an iron distance triathlon in person.  Kind of makes me want to do one myself...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

3 Months in Arrears

It's been 3 months since our last update, despite it being prime racing season, which can only mean one thing- injury!  Right after the Triangle Triathlon, Chad injured his right calf.  He was out for a month and then slowly started back running.  Here's a quick recap of what we've been up to (good and bad) since the last update.

July 19th

Chad goes down with an injury to his right calf.

July 21st - Beat the Heat 5k

This is a very fast race up in Winston-Salem, NC.  Chad was not able to run.  I ran, but despite being in great shape, I bombed big time.  BIG TIME.  18:54.  I was hoping to take a run at sub 18, but instead I ran my slowest race of the year. 

August 4th- Stumpy Creek International Triathlon

Dee- 2:50:13; 5th AG, 20th OA

The calm before the storm- usually
the swim is my most treacherous leg!
Chad was still out injured.  I had a good swim and was rolling pretty well on the bike when disaster struck.  I was passing a line of people when the girl at the front whiped out right across my path.  My options were to crash into her, crash into oncoming traffic (a huge truck), or crash into the other bikes I was passing.  I ended up crashing into her, flipping over my bike and hitting my head on the pavement.  It felt awesome to say the least.  With a bike that was all sorts of messed up (seat was knocked all the way down, but was pointing upwards- felt great), a sore head, and a thumb that appeared to be broken, I continued riding to the finish simply because I did not see the SAG wagon.  I got off my bike, talked with TJ and Tiffany about my crash, then trotted off to find Chad so I could DNF.  To make a very long story short- I never found Chad.  He was busy biking the course backwards looking for me.  He heard I crashed, but missed seeing me come in because he was busy searching for a bike to borrow to come find me.  By the time I finished the first 5k loop, I decided to just finish the run, so I picked it up and ended up with the #2 run of the day; clocking in at 43:00 for 10k.

Much to several doctors' surprise, my thumb was not broken.  I had simply sprained all the ligament so it looked broken, but wasn't.  Success? 

August 25th- Lake Norman Sprint Triathlon

Chad- 1:18:46; 2 AG, 7 OA; #1 run split- 16:53

Mike Dannenburg proved to be a miracle worker once again and had Chad back running in time for this race.  We were very excited to both be back racing.  Until the Wednesday before the race, when I learned that my 94 year old Grandmother had passed away.  Off to Long Island I went on Thursday evening.  Chad was unable to come with me for reasons unrelated to this race, but it did provide him with a chance to race.

He had a good race and finished 2nd in his age group, while again clocking the #1 run.  Interestingly, Chad actually tied with third place in his age group. The person who finished third had a goggle issue, so he had to start 2 waves back.  So Chad did not see him until after the race was done.  Pretty impressive to have the same time after nearly an hour and twenty minutes of racing.

September 15th- Belews Sprint Triathlon

Chad- 1:09:25; 3AG, 9OA; #1 run split- 17:18
Dee- 1:20:14; 1AG, 5OA; #1 run split - 19:51

Holy cow!  We both raced!  No one crashed or died.  A miracle.  Remember how Chad tied in his last race?  Well... yup it happened again.  This race had a time trial start and Chad started ~2 minutes behind his friend and fellow age grouper, Chris.  Once the results are posted after the race we come to find out that Chad & Chris had the exact same time!  So, again, despite not seeing Chris the whole race, they ended up with the same time. 

I had a solid, if unremarkable race. My bike should have been better, but I'm still a bit skidish on the triathlon bike as a result of the crash.  It's amazing how something like that can scare you!  I refused to ride in the aero position until (literally) the start of the race.  I have no idea why, but I was absolutely petrified.    Hopefully I've gotten over it- but we'll see next time I take out the tri bike!

September 22nd- Wilmington Sprint Triathlon

Chad- 1:13:34; 3AG, 27OA

All smiles as the Giants win big.
As the IOS Series was very tight and Chad had a slow first race, he decided to head over to the Wilmington Sprint Triathlon to see if he could end the year on a high note with lots of points.  Chad's father was also in town to see the Giants-Panthers football game, so they made it a boys weekend trip and headed out Friday at lunch time for the beach.  This race is unique in that the swim is 1500m.  It's in the Intercoastal waterway which, allegedly, has a very helpful current.  I wasn't buying it, so I stayed home with Max.  For the first time all year, Chad had a bad swim.  Of course with a long swim, this was possibly the worst time to have a bad swim. 

Bad races happen and at the end of the day, Chad accomplished more this year than he had hoped for.  At the beginning of the year, Chad was just hoping to make the top 5 in his AG in the IOS series and he ended up finished 3rd.  That's pretty darn impressive and Chad was happy with the way his season turned out, even if every race was not perfect. 

September 29th- Salem Lake 30k Trail Run

Chad- 1:58:48 (6:23/mile pace) 1st AG, 6th OA

Oh hey, triathlon season is over, it's time for marathon training!  Chad is scheduled to run the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18th, so his calf injury in July came at a terrible time.  But, in true Chad fashion, he was up for the challenge and began increasing his mileage (with Mike's blessing) in early September.  To be safe, Chad did not run a single speed workout, and just focused on increasing his mileage and long runs.  12.5 miles on September 8th, 14.5 miles on September 16th, and 18 miles on September 23rd.  After the 18 miles, Chad decided to run the Salem Lake 30k Trail Race, figuring he'd try and run all 18.6 miles at sub 7 minute pace.  Needless to say, his first mile was 6:25 and he never looked back.  This was a fantastic training run for Chad and gave him a lot of confidence for an upcoming relay race...

October 14th- Kasey Kahne 5k

Chad- 16:57, 1st AG, 3rd OA
Dee- 18:53, 1st OA
Raising my hands up to
celebrate my victorious
champagne shower long
before I actually won
the race.

After taking a week off of racing to visit Thomas & Michelle in Raleigh (and Chad getting in a great 22 mile long run with Michelle), we were ready to take a stab at a 5k for the first time in several months. Chad had won a free entry and I decided at the last minute on race morning to stop being a baby and just register. I was very glad I did!  From the start my legs and breathing felt fantastic.  I loved the course and felt strong throughout the race.  Thomas & Michelle were at the halfway point with champagne, so I ran through a champagne shower; which was awesome.  My time was nearly a minute faster than I was expecting, so that was a pleasant surprise. 

Chad had a solid race as well.   He knew from the start that he would not win.  "Fam," a two time Olympian with a 5k PR of 13:11, showed up.  So, Fam ran a 14:22 and dusted the field.  Chad started too slow and ran out of room to close on 2nd, finishing 3rd in 16:57.  A good time on a rolling course.  We hung around afterwards eating bagels and apples and collecting some awesome prizes.

Next up:

Chad trying to determine how
many minutes up Fam is.  The
answer was a lot. 

October 20th- Beach2Battleship Ironman Relay

Yup, that's right.  Chad is racing the marathon leg of the Beach2Battleship Ironman Relay in Wilmington, NC this weekend.  His team is looking pretty darn good and they are hoping to set a new course record for the relay.  Chad is going to use the marathon as a long training run and is hoping to run somewhere south of 3 hours. 

The Philadelphia Marathon is quickly approaching and while Chad may not be in PR shape, due to the short build up thanks to his calf injury, he certainly appears to be in shape to run a fast enough time to secure a coveted spot in the first corral at Boston.  Only time will tell of course, but we're both cautiously optimistic.  I'm very excited to cheer him on at Beach2Battleship and see an Ironman in person. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Triangle Triathlon- Recap to Follow

2nd AG; 18th Overall; 8472 points (highest so far this year)

Swim: 15:03
T1: 1:39
Bike: 47:15
T2: 0:56
Run: 17:42

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tri the Midlands Race Report


Last year Chad & I decided at the last minute to head down to Columbia, SC for Tri the Midlands.  We had an absolute blast and decided to race again this year.  The location is fantastic, the post race spread is plentiful, and Team Schmitz always does this race, so it was pretty much a no brainer.   Of course, nothing is perfect and the run course is an absolute beast, but you have to take the good with the bad.  I decided to race open, Chad stuck with age group.

Going in, we both wanted to beat our times from 2011.  Chad set a goal time of 1:07:15 and I set a goal time of 1:15:15- both looking for about a 4 minute improvement.   The race is a 500m swim, 14.8 mile bike & 5k run.  We both had good races and hit our goals.

Chad                                         Dee
Swim:  8:58                               Swim: 11:10
T1: 0:45                                     T1: 1:02
Bike: 39:14                                Bike: 41:42
T2: 0:37                                     T2: 0:55
Run: 17:45                                 Run: 19:19
1:07:18                                      1:14:07

My new P2! 
I was the 3rd Open female and the 3rd overall female.  Going in, I thought I was locked in for fourth due to the fast ladies racing, but surprised myself by passing one last woman with 400m to go to sneak into 3rd.  My time was 4:59 faster than 2011.  I broke out my brand new favorite toy for this race- the P2!  Despite having her for one whole week, I couldn't resist the chance to give it a go.  She did not disappoint.  Fast is an understatement.  Once I get comfortable on the bike, I know much faster bike splits are in my future.  I also finally ran a really good 5k off the bike.  I know this is the kind of time I can and should be throwing down, so it was nice to finally hit it.

Chad was 1st AG, 6th overall.  He jumped up 9 spots from last year and improved his time by 4:05.  He beat several of the Open Masters, which is always impressive.  The run up to transition from the swim was rather lengthy (30-40 seconds), making Chad's swim time even more impressive.  He's been working very hard in the pool and it is definitely starting to show in his swim times.  The biking just keeps getting better as well.  This is a slower course than Latta, but the time improvement from 2011 was substantial, showing that lots of progress has been made. 

The awards were bottle openers
with the race logo- pretty sweet.
Again, we had a great time at Tri the Midlands and will be sure to put it on the schedule for 2013.  It is just such a fun race, despite the fact that the run contains one monster hill that makes you want to walk.  That just builds character, right?  We now have a couple weeks off from triathlons, so we can focus on training (and rest!)  Chad is off until July 14th when he races the Triangle Triathlon and I'm off until August 4th when I tackle my first international triathlon at Stumpy Creek.  Definitely nervous, but looking forward to trying something new!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Latta: The [Charlotte] World Championships – A race, A results.

Chad’s Recap:

In addition to being a big race in the Charlotte scene, this would be the first time that we had raced a course that we had raced previously and an excellent opportunity to measure our progress.

Danielle’s goals:
(1) Improve all splits
(2) Sub 1:31
(3) Beat Chad’s 2011 Latta bike time
(4) Place in age group

Chad’s goals:
(1) Improve all splits, especially bike and swim
(2) Improve age group ranking
(3) Respectable bike
(4) Sub 1:21
(5) #1 run

Because I didn’t get to see a lot of Danielle’s race I will give you the numbers compared to 2011. In 2011 she finished 32nd overall and 5th in her age group. This year she did considerably better on ostensibly the same course. Swim: improved 1:40, T1 improved :11, Bike improved 2:08, T2 improved :22, Run improved 1:17. Her 2012 finish time was 1:29:09 shattering her goal #2 and a total one year, same course improvement of 5 minutes and 38 seconds. She improved every single split and went from 32nd overall to 11th. Her super secret goal was to beat Jackie Savage (1:31:54 in 2011) and win her age group, but Jackie bettered her 2011 result by 3:25 to hold of Danielle’s hard charging run. Still, second place in a very competitive age group is an excellent result and Danielle is very excited by her progress. For the record, she did hit all of her official goals, including beating my 2011 bike split (and she was on a road bike w/o aero bars).

My race: triathlons are still very new to me and I have a love/hate relationship with the anxiety that I feel before the swim start, it still seems like such a foreign and absurd way to start a race. In any event, I placed myself near my One2Tri Racing teammates, Ross TJ and Story, all of whom are stronger swimmers than I. I thought I got out well and this was confirmed when I noticed Story’s speedo’ed backside alongside me about 100m into the swim. Knowing he is a good swimmer I just stuck we him and relaxed and let him lead me to the first turn. I lost him somewhere between the first and second turns and made the turn home alone. The second half of the swim was much worse as the sun made sighting very difficult and I had to swim through slowing people from my own wave and the slow swimmers from the preceding wave. It is a great feeling to be back on land knowing you didn’t make any major mistakes. I heard people cheering for me as I made my way up toward transition. What a boost it gives you to hear people cheering for you by name (especially coming out so early in the morning!). I notice Dalena in particular and did my best to smile as she snapped a picture, thanks DMC!

I had an efficient T1 and made my way onto the bike where I had my first little snafu. As I went to tighten my shoes I had a massive cramp in my abdomen, it made getting the shoes just about impossible, but they eventually went on and I didn’t hurt in the aero position so off I went down Sample Road. I made it all the way off of Sample before Chris came flying by me per usual. I tried to keep him in sight for as long as possible but it wasn’t long before he was gone and I settled into a rhythm on the bike. I can’t overemphasize how great it was knowing the course. It is well known that I am not a very strong biker so knowing where the tricky or difficult portions of the course were, how long they would last and where I was relative to the finish of the bike course were HUGE helps for me mentally. Also, riding a little faster and being in the second age group wave meant that there were more people around me to focus on and pass or try to catch. There were two other guys in tri suits that were near me much of the first half; they were a good gauge and remainder not to let up, eventually I pulled away from then in the second half (a new experience for me!).

In the second half the Referee on the back of a motorcycle went by me and I watched him sit in and watch another competitor up ahead. I didn’t get a great look at the riders but he was definitely giving out a drafting penalty and pulled alongside after watching for about a minute, wrote down the number and then drove away. As I caught the rider in question, and saw that it was Adam who exclaimed, “I just got a drafting penalty” and I responded, “yeah ya did!” I tried to pull away from Adam, but I just couldn’t shake him (must have been drafting…jk.) He passed me back on the downhill before the turn back onto Beatties Ford Rd and I thought I dropped him for good on the incline after the turn onto Beatties Ford Road. I finished up back onto Sample Rd. and pushed toward the park feeling good about my ride, but then snafu #2. As I reached for my shoes I got a horrible abdominal cramp once again that nearly knocked me off my bike. I went from cruising 20+ MPH to alternating between trying to ride doubled over and standing up to workout whatever the heck was going on. A quarter mile from the finish Adam cruised back by me, and gave me a look that confirmed how ridiculous I must look. I struggled to the dismount line, got my bike in without further incident, grabbed my shoes and number efficiently and took off on the run.

Although I am getting more comfortable in the water and on the bike, it is such a relief to come out of t2 and start cranking. Everyone seems to hate the Latta run course, but there are some things I like about it. (1) the two turn points allowed me so see where I stood with the competition and my progress toward them; (2) early hills play to my run strength, (3) the things everyone else hates about it slows them down more than it slows me down.

Heading into the trail portion of the run I saw James coming home strong with another win in hand. I tried to settle in and set to a good hard pace. I had no idea where I stood in the age group but I knew if I had a good race I could be competitive, although I knew Story, Chris and Patrick Armeen were all in my age group and out in front of me. I had an easy/taper week going into Latta and my legs were repaying me, I felt strong and was moving by people. I noticed Story and Ross coming back from the first turnaround nearly together, both looking very strong and well out of reach for me as expected. They finished 6th and 7th respectively and each made HUGE improvements from the previous year. I didn’t notice Patrick before the first turnaround, but I did see Chris and he said something about me coming after him. I hope I replied, but at that point I was very focused on getting to the turnaround so I could get an estimate of how far back I was. Once I finally got there it seemed I was quite a ways back, but it is hard to tell exactly.

Coming into this race I thought I might have an outside shot at an age group award but with Story, Patrick and Chris all racing in my age group I figured I was racing for fourth. That is until I was approaching the second turnaround, this time I looked for Patrick and saw him, with Chris not too far behind. I had closed the gap considerable and while I wasn’t sure how much race was left I knew it was at least possible to catch someone. Coming out of the trails I caught and passed Chris with maybe a quarter mile to go. Passing him was a weird feeling; he has helped me so much in my transition to the sport of triathlon. I remain a neophyte on the bike but he has helped my biking immensely saving me from having to learn a lot of lessons the hard way. Thanks to his help I am probably a year ahead of where I would be otherwise (and thus in a position to pass him). But such is the way with competition, I expect that it will fuel him and I fully expect him to come back and try and stomp me at Stumpy.

I wasn’t able to get Patrick, but from Jetton to Latta I closed the gap from a minute to 20 seconds. I may not always get there on the run, but they know I am coming…

The numbers:
1:19:48 Finish time, 12th overall, 3rd age group.
Swim: 13:39 (1:49/100m) 35th
T1: 1:46
Bike: 45:43 (22.3mph) 61st
T2: 1:32
Run: 17:10 (5:32/mile) 1st

*distances are approximate as is the norm with triathlons
From 2011 I improved by 4:46, went from 41st overall to

I improved all my splits (except T2), my bike improvement was by far the largest which it needed to be. I am still looking for more from the swim, but sub 1:50 pace with the run up is not bad. I would say my bike is much more respectable now, although 61st is nothing to get excited about. I crushed my sub 1:21 projection and I had the number 1 run, I will take it and call that a very successful day. The best part is finishing up and heading back to cheer Danielle in. I was so excited to see what a great race she had as well, her ceiling in this sport is very high!