NYC Marathon

2013-11-03 05.53.27 I started the process of getting into the NYC marathon four years ago. Starting in 2010, I entered the lottery for race entry and was denied every year for three years. However, there was a rule that if you have 3 consecutive lottery losses, then you have guaranteed entry the fourth year. And though this entry method is being phased out, I was grandfathered in. Since the qualifying times are ridiculously fast, if I was going to run this marathon, it was going to be this year. I started training for it back in May, opting for a radically different training program called the 5-pace method, since my last couple marathon attempts didn’t work out as well as I wanted. More of the same just didn’t feel like a smart option. At the beginning, things were going OK. I was having trouble hitting goals on the fast workouts, but my marathon-pace runs and long runs were going fine. After a couple months though, everything seemed to be slowing down and I was feeling a bit defeated. It was starting to look like a 3:45 finish might be in my future. Around that time, my wife suggested I hire a coach and with the recommendation of a few friends I was able to get some quality help at a very reasonable price.  There was an immediate noticeable improvement in how I felt during and after workouts, as well as in my performance. The only problem that I had was that the training was so different from what I was accustom to, I didn’t have a really good idea of how it would translate to finish time on race day.  My coach was thinking potential for a personal record (PR), but I had no idea if I was capable of that or not (spoiler alert: I was not). Ultimately it didn’t really matter that much to me. In the past, I often felt like other things in life got in the way of training and racing. But since my wife and I found out we are having a baby boy in the spring, it has felt like training is in the way of life.  It doesn’t seem to matter to me any more if I PR a marathon or not. Nevertheless, I did want to do my best and I made the effort to make each workout count.

2013-11-03 06.55.21Race day came and I got up about 3:30 am in Manhattan, not by choice but because I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep (also it had changed from daylight savings overnight so it only felt like 4:30 AM). This gave me plenty of time to eat, stretch and take care of other morning business before catching a 6AM subway train down to Whitehall station to catch a carry to Staten Island at 6:45AM. The ferry ride was really cool actually, which is why I picked that as my mode of transport. There were plenty of great views of the city and we had an armed (as in 50 caliber machine gun, armed) Coast Guard escort. Once off the ferry, it was only a little after 7AM and my start time wasn’t until 9:40AM, so I took my time, made a pitstop, and eventually made my way around the area to where I thought the runners village was. What I failed to learn in advance (almost definitely my own fault) was that I still needed to take a bus to the staging area. So, I got on line, then on a bus and took a nauseating 25 minute ride to start. At this point it was about 8:15 AM and the wave one runners were instructed to be in their corrals 45 minutes prior to the start. So, I should have had about 40 minutes, but the announcements said 25 minutes until wave one corrals were closing. Now, I was feeling rushed, so I quickly found a bagel, wedged that, hit the bathrooms one more time, then got suited up for the race. Or unsuited as the case may be. I threw my warm up clothes into the bag provided, gave them to the volunteers manning the donation station and went into my corral with about 5 minutes to spare.

744293-1104-0050sNow, I could swear that they were announcing that all clothing had to be donated before going into corrals, but apparently this was not the case. A lot of people still were keeping warm in their warm up clothes, while I was freezing my butt of in the 43 degree weather.  Also, there were no announcements about there being bathrooms available in the corrals, but there were and fortunately there were no lines. I had almost an hour to hang out still, so I just sat down and hugged my knees to my chest to try to stay warm. After about 15 minutes though, they started marching us out onto the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to the start. With more than 40 minutes to go, we all moved out of the holding corral, past the conveniently located last-chance donation bins and onto the bridge. Once on the bridge, we all just stood around for 40 minutes, trying to make out what was being said over the PA system. I quickly figured out why they wouldn’t take any more clothing at this point. People were dropping unwanted clothing next to the busses parked bumper to bumper, and then people were peeing between the busses. So there was a line of urine soaked clothing along the entire length of the starting area.  Pretty nasty.

744444-1101-0020sFinally, the race was underway. About 10 steps in, I figured out that the problem all along was that I didn’t want to do the race. It’s not easy to get into this marathon and they are making it more difficult. I got in, so I kind of had to do it this year if I ever wanted to do it. But I think 7 years of racing with no real break, combined with reorganized life priorities finally caught up with me.  Nevertheless, the first 30K went at a pretty steady pace despite taking a pee break at mile 8, followed immediately by pulling my left arch, stomach cramps at mile 10, right achilles pain at mile 12, and pretty serious headwind the whole 2nd half. Around 20 miles in, I started feeling real muscle soreness which became very bad within a mile. Determined not to walk, I managed to maintain at least a jog through the finish, despite all the aches and pains. Everything hurt so bad at the finish, but pretzels in the recovery bag made me happy as did the free ponchos they handed out to those of us who donated our warm up closed instead of checking them through to the finish.  It was a very long walk (about 3 miles) out of the finish area and back to where I was staying, but that turned out to help immensely with recovery.

Time: 3:24:08 Pace: 7:47
Place: 3397/50062 Overall, 3029/30536 Men, 627/5005 M35-39
Age Graded: 63.2%

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Lavaman Triathlon (Olympic)

Argh, I keep procrastinating on writing this one up. Here’s hoping a lousy write-up is better than none…

Swim exit

Swim exit

There was a whole lotta training and fundraising that led up to this, and if you would like to read up on that, it can all be found at my TnT page. Assuming you are caught up, or just want to read about the race, here’s how it went. Despite near-perfect swim conditions on the days leading up to the race, on event day, the currents were strong and a fairly large swell (for a bay) picked up. The trade-off was slightly cooler weather and cloudy skies, which were both welcome for a triathlon on Hawaii in March. So, the swim was a little tougher than expected, but for once in my life, I had spent a great deal of time training for the swim, so it didn’t shake me much. Right off the bat, I swam over a sea  turtle, and I took that to be a sign of good luck. I tried to stay near the front of my wave, looking for someone fast to draft off of. The problem was that the part of the course we swam out on was hook-shaped for some reason and most people were swimming from one buoy to the next even though the shortest distance was a straight line to the turn-buoy (not cutting the course BTW). So there were not so many people to pick from to draft off of. On top of that, many of the swimmers in front of me were from the previous wave, so they were slow and in my way. Eventually, I gave up and just forged ahead on my own. If you look at the GPS of my swim, you’ll see it was pretty rectangular, while most people’s probably looked like a concave lens. This definitely helped me with my swim ranking because I’ve never placed so well in the swim, ever. Though I had wanted to break 27 minutes on the swim (and technically I did since I was out of the water in 27, there was just that minute long run to the timing mat), I still felt great about 28 minutes given the conditions.

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Riding uphill and into the wind

T1 was reasonably quick; I had no trouble finding my bike because I knew it was lined up with a “CycleSport” vendor awning just outside of transition, and the rows were clearly marked for age-groups. Since I was in the second wave and was 10th out of the water from that wave, there was very little traffic in the transition area, so I was able to get in and out without incident. Anyone who does triathlon knows that the bike leg is probably the most important, especially in an Olympic distance event. I had dreams of crushing the bike course in 1:05, but those were quickly dashed by strong headwinds and a lot of uphill for the first 10 miles out. My goal was to PR the olympic distance (<2:23:53), and with the way things were going, it wasn’t looking like that would happen. Though I was going slow, I was passing a lot of people, so I tried to keep my spirits up. Not PR-ing would be disappointing, but I’ve learned in the past not to give up! Right before the turn-around, everything sped up, and of course I had a nice tail-wind on the way back, so I was able to make up a bunch of time. It took me 37 minutes to get half-way through the bike course, but I made it back in under 31. That was a huge morale boost for me because that was a PR bike split and also put me within reach of that Oly distance PR!

 

Running on the treacherous coral.

Running on the treacherous lava and coral

The pressure was definitely on now! I was at a little over an hour and 38 minutes, so I had about 45 minutes to transition and run a 10K, which I knew was  doable, but it was getting hot, it was definitely humid, and I had just killed my legs on the bike. At this point, transition was nearly empty, and as I ran my bike down my row to find my rack spot, I realized that the “CycleSport” awning I had used as my landmark had been packed up and hauled away. Fortunately, I was able to find my place without issue and managed to transition in just over a minute, leaving me a full 44 minutes to run a 10K in the heat and humidity and still PR. Right out of transition, there was an aid station along the crushed lava trail. I knocked my own glasses off my face getting a drink of water, and would have just left them there, but that would have been a penalty for littering. So I quickly snatched up the pieces (the lenses popped out) and ran with them in my hand for about a minute before deciding I could reassemble them on the run (literally!).  The first mile sucked hard, but I still managed to solidly break a 7-minute mile. Doing a little math, I figured I was actually within reach of of a 2:20 finish, I knew I just had to maintain my pace. I felt pretty good through mile 4, then I hit the Kings trail. This is a gnarly, narrow bit of trail that is overgrown and right on the edge of the ocean. There are plenty of things to trip over and if you fall, you are going to drop a few feet into a bunch of sharp lava.  I almost fell just getting on the trail, and every step felt like my ankles would roll. This part of the course is fairly short, but it really sapped my strength. After a short section of flagstone pathway, there was a mile-long section of loose lava and coral, but it was not that bad compared to the King’s trail. The last quarter mile was loose beach sand and that was no picnic either, but the finish line was in sight and I didn’t let it slow me down. I knew I had PR’d and I was at 2:20 and change! In the end I felt really good about my effort. I don’t think I could have done it any harder on that day.

 

To be honest, I’m still riding high on the results. Even though the bike and transitions were the only part I PR’d, I think I’m most proud of my swim. 10th out of 79 in my age group? In the past, if I came out of the water in the middle of the pack, that was good. I actually ranked better in the swim than on the bike (15th) in AG (run was still solidly ranked at #5). In the overall results, I had a top 10% swim, top 8% bike ride, and top 3% run. And, since I’m so competitively-minded, I went through the trouble of figuring out that I was second overall amongst all the Team in training triathletes. So that’s #9 for fundraising and #2 for the race. It will be very difficult to top this experience!

 

Place: 48/1077 overall, 41/512 Men, 9/79 men 35-39
Total: 2:20:49, swim 28:05, T1 2:30, bike 1:07:55, T2 1:01, run 41:18

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It’s gonna be a slow news year…

I’m spending almost all of my training time focused on Lavaman (3/24/13), to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team in training. i’m posting weekly training & fundraising updates on my fundraising page, so feel free to pop over there and check that out! Please also consider making a donation to the LLS, either through that link or right here on this page.

Thank you!


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Father Joe’s Villages Thanksgiving Day 5K

Since we couldn’t make it back east this year for Thanksgiving, I had to find a local race to run. A friend of mine told me about the 5K run in Balboa park and that seemed as good a race as any to me. Supposedly there were ten thousand people there but only about 2500 racing and the rest  walked (or at least opted out of getting timed). The crowd on the bridge at the start was massive (see picture to the left)! I hadn’t really been training for this distance, but I felt good warming up and was striding around a 6 minute mile, so I thought I might be able to keep up about that pace, or at the very least that level of effort. Well, I was able to maintain the effort, but the course was much hillier than I thought, so the pace was not maintained.  Still, I came in under 20 minutes and fairly high in the rankings. Can’t complain about that!

Time: 0:19:50 Pace: 6:24
Place: 65/2495 Overall, 57/1275 Men, 6/134 M35-39
Age Graded: 67%

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Remission Rocks – 5K (again)

This one is an LLS fundraiser my friend Brad puts on. I made really reasonable goals since I’d only run a handful of times since destroying myself at the DDR marathon. What I didn’t count on was the rain and being hung over. For the record, I don’t recommend being hung over for a race. It had rained all night, so the course was wet and there were several extra “stream” crossings, but it let up right before the start of the race. I started out in 5th place behind three young kids, probably 14, definitely track and/or cross-country runners – and an old guy, probably in his 40’s. I managed to keep 2 kid in my sights and gained a little at pretty much every stream crossing and downhill. Caught one of them with about a quarter mile to go, but didn’t quite catch the other one. I felt slightly better after being done. It started raining again almost immediately.

 

Time: 0:21:00 Pace: 06:46

Place: 4/41 overall, 4/18 men, 1/5 M30-39

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DDR Dirty Invitational Marathon

2nd bridge crossing, 21 miles in.

After a brutal 2011, I decided to keep the number of events for this year to a minimum. I  Started the year thinking that I’d do a short triathlon or two, but mainly get back to trail running, with the idea of doing the Noble Canyon 50K again. This led to a couple of half marathons as training milestones, put on by Dirt Devil Racing. As it turns out, DDR decided to put on a full trail marathon wherein the participants would need to qualify by running one of their half marathons in under two hours. Since I qualified twice and received and invite, I just had to do it. Not to mention the start was 4 miles from my house. The problem was that the event date was one week after Noble Canyon. Originally, I thought I could do both, but for once in my life, I allowed reason to prevail and decided just to do the DDR marathon.

A really unique aspect of this race was the divisions. Since the event was limited to 50 participants, the standard age/gender groups would have resulted in having only a few people per division, which would mean most runners would place. Instead, the race director decided to have five groups of ten participants, grouped together by qualifying time. This way, runners are competing against other athletes of similar ability, regardless of age or gender. I was placed into the second fasted group. Looking at the other runners finish times in others races we had run, the ability levels were all very close. Based solely on the finish time data, I was about 4th or 5th fastest in the group of ten, but the times were all so close it would really be anyones race to win. On another note, this is technically a first for me – though I’ve run many trail half marathons and several trail ultramrathons, I’ve never done a trail marathon before.

Training had gone pretty great, even with the 90 and 100 degree long-run days. Tapering also went properly, yet race day morning, my heart rate was too high (this has been a theme as of late). I don’t know why this keeps happening on race day. It wasn’t nerves at all. Maybe I was just excited to get going. The conditions started off  off cool, probably low 60s, but the sun was barely up. Within a couple of miles, the temperature got into the 70s and the trail climbed up out of the canyon, but it was still fairly cool for the whole first lap. Due to the proximity of my house to the race course, and the fact that the course was two 13 mile loops, I had been able to train on the course for most of my runs. However, there was an unannounced last minute course change that I missed (though well marked) and so I ended up taking a long-cut on the first lap. Later on I missed another turn, but a fellow runner alerted me of my mistake, so I was able to quickly correct it.

By the end of the first lap, it was getting pretty warm. Starting the second lap, I was in 4th place in my race group (and probably 11th overall), but the 3rd place guy was putting more distance between us, and the woman in 2nd place and man in 1st place had a huge lead. However, I had a good lead on the 5th place guy. I realized that I had gone a little too fast on the first loop (1:48), but in retrospect, it was probably the right strategy because it suddenly got really hot and sunny for the second lap. About 4 miles into second lap, I saw the woman who had been in 2nd place and she was walking. This was good motivation for me and I passed her, moving into 3rd place for my race group. I knew I still had a good lead on the guy that was behind me, so I probably only had to maintain to finish 3rd in the race group. 1st and 2nd place runners were still far ahead from what I could tell since I could never see them when the trail flattened out and opened up. Shortly after that, I passed a guy from the fastest race grouping and he was hurting bad. But again, passing people gives me a lot of motivation.

At about mile 18, I stopped to let a mountain biker pass on a downhill section. Then, I took about 3 strides before tripping and falling hard, unable to correct my footing. That sucked, and hurt, but nothing seemed broken and I wasn’t bleeding badly from what I could tell. I was just really dirty. The fall took a little bit of my stamina away but I managed to keep up about a 9 minute pace or better for most of the rest of the race. At the final aid station (mile 21), the person checking bib numbers confirmed I was in third for my group, which was reinvigorating. In the next 2 miles, I passed 2 more wave 1 guys and saw a third one up ahead that I thought I could catch. With about half a mile left to go in the race, I was just about to pass him when I tripped again. At this point, I was just too exhausted to react and I fell like a sack of potatoes. I could feel all my ribs and my spine get pushed around as I hit the groud. Immediately, both calves cramped up. The guy in front of me stopped and asked if I needed help – probably because of the terrible sounds I was making. I started yelling at him to just keep going. I didn’t want to tell him I was trying to beat him and I definitely didn’t want to beat him by having him stop for me. He started going again, and I got up, then caught him quickly. Once we got to the last uphill though, I just couldn’t run it and he could. I still tried to catch him in the last 2 tenths of a mile that were left and closed the gap quite a bit, but just couldn’t quite do it. It didn’t really matter though since, I finished faster than I had planned (even if it wasn’t a negative split), and I took 3rd in my group. They gave out sweet bottle-opener dog-tags for finishers medal too!

Time: 3:49:19 Pace: 8:58
Place: 8/48 Overall, 3/10 Race group #2

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Carlsbad Triathlon

I’m not really sure what compelled me to sign up for this event, other than to get in another triathlon for the year. It is absolutely not geared towards a triathlete such as myself, as it has an unusually long swim for a spinet distance. Nevertheless, I signed up, so I was gonna do it. Sticking with my training plan for the year thus far, I did almost no swimming at all since the last triathlon, opting instead to lift weights a few times a week and count on being well rested come race day. This turned out to be not such a bad strategy, as I eased through the 1K swim in a “brisk” 22 minutes. That might not sound very fast, but my rule of thumb is 20X the distance in Km +/- 2 minutes for a swim time window. So, 18-22 minutes would be my normal guess-timate and I made it within that window with almost no training – not to mention the minute long jog on the beach to get to the timing mat makes the swim split longer. It also bears mentioning that the swim course must have been set up by a certified genius (no sarcasm whatsoever in that statement (seriously)) because each marker buoy had a large, red helium balloon tied to it so you could see them easily from the water. Seriously, every open water swim course should be marked like this.

Moving on: the first transition went off without a hitch and it warrants mentioning that the transition area is in a parking lot down a steep hill from the Old Coast highway (101), and the bike mount/dismount line was practically in the transition area. This all means that the very first thing you do on the bike is climb a pretty good hill (while trying to avoid hitting/getting hit by other athletes). The bike course was significantly harder than I had expected. For some reason, my quads were very tired, and though the many hills on the course were not particularly steep or long, they still slowed me down more than I would have liked. A small headwind on the way back was also rather unhelpful. Still, I managed a decent bike split overall – just not a course crushing one.  The official bike split had the transition times rolled in, and though I did not wear a watch, I did get my bike split from my bike computer and estimated my transition times (this is what is shown below). This makes a big difference when calculating average speed on the bike, as does the extra 0.3 miles ridden.

The second transition was also smooth and, fortunately, the run course went out around the transition area on a sidewalk for a while, rather than going straight back up the hill. The run started out pretty rough though. My hamstrings and calves felt ready to cramp at any second, but I was still passing lots of people right away, so that kept me going. After about a mile (up the stairs up to Old Coast highway), I started to feel pretty good running. I tried to stay focused on staying light and floaty, rather than letting my form fall apart from fatigue and adopting a jarring heel-strike stride. Right up until the end, I felt like I gave a good, consistent effort. The last quarter mile was uphill, but with the finish in sight, it was easy to find the will to push a lot harder. One young guy passed me with about 15 seconds to go, but other than that I only got passed one other time on the run and I’m pretty sure I caught back up with that guy.

While each event seemed like I maybe only did a little better than mediocre, I still managed to hit my A goal overall. Given the utter lack of real triathlon training this season, this was actually a decent performance for this race. And reasonable goals!

 

Place: 129/648 overall, 119/486 Men, 20/68 men 35-39
Total: 1:32:16, swim 21:55, T1 2:16, bike 45:25, T2 1:25, run 21:15

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Cougar Run Half Marathon

Oh man, this one just started off bad. But even a bad trail race is still pretty good. For starters, I forgot my race bib at home. I was about 15 minutes into the 30 minute drive (and planning on getting there plenty early) when I saw a mini-cooper drive by with the windows all painted up with things like “Go Misty! #34”. I started thinking it would be cool if someone’s friends did that for a trail race. There was no real reason for me to think that person was doing the race, but that’s where my mind went for about 3 seconds and then I was thinking, “what’s my race number?” which quickly turned to “where’s my race number?”, followed immediately by the dreadful realization that I left it at home.  For a nano-second I considered leaving it behind and just getting a new one when I got there, but I was just about to pass an exit off the 15 where it would be easy to turn around so I decided to go back for it after all. The next 45 minutes felt very panicky and rushed until I got to the parking area for the race and saw the gigantic line of cars waiting to get in. The county was supposed to have sent someone to unlock the gates at 5:30 am, but no one had shown up and it took one of the race volunteers 45 minutes to basically bust it open. Eventually everyone got parked and the race began with only a 40 minute delay.

This race, like the Foxy run half marathon, was a qualifier for an upcoming trail marathon in the Penasquitos Canyon, which is very close to my house so I feel like I have to do it. Qualifying time is sub-2 hours, which I did at the Foxy half. For this race, I intended to qualify again and figured it was pretty doable but I had some concerns about the weather (sunny and warm predicted) and the hill in the middle of the course. Lately, I’d been feeling a bit run down from all the long distance training and this was manifesting itself while standing around waiting for the start -my heart rate was up around 100 bpm (normally about 60-70 if I’m up and walking around). In order to finish and not be totally destroyed for the next two weeks, I knew I’d have to go out extra slow. So, I just found a comfortable pace that kept me in zone 2 and tried to take in the scenery.  The big hill started at mile 4, and climbed for about a mile. It was pretty tough, but still run-able and I was able to move up in the ranks significantly in this section. Likewise for the 3/4 mile decent. The turn around was close to 7 miles out and since the return trip was just the reverse, it was pretty obvious the course was long. Couple that with a slow start (and not so speedy middle really) and re-qualifying was starting to look pretty iffy. Nevertheless, the hill on the way back didn’t slow me down much (I did walk for about 10 seconds, but that’s the rule when it gets really steep: if you can walk faster than you can run, walk) and I really started to warm up and feel good at around the 10 mile mark. Overall, I managed to to negative split the course by a little over a minute and finished in the top 50, so I got to pick something off the prize table (went with some quarter-length running socks). Oh, and I did requalify for the upcoming trail marathon. While my finish time left something to be desired, given the conditions, the extra-long course, and the hills, it was actually a pretty decent time. In fact, the winner ran it in a “slow” 1:36 and looking at other racers who did the Foxy run, this course was at least 7 or 8 minutes slower for sure.

Now it’s just waiting for the marathon invitation. There’s still some probability I won’t get in since it’s limited to 50 entrants and they’ll likely be giving preference to the fastest qualifiers. If I don’t get in though, the back up plan is the Noble Canyon 50K. I just need to be sure I don’t miss the window to sign up for that while waiting for an invitation for the marathon…

 

Time: 1:55:50 Pace: 8:51
Place: 36/268 Overall, 29/141 Men, 9/52 M30-39

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Foxy Run Half Marathon

Last year burned me out on road-running, so this year, I thought I’d get back on the trails. I’ve been focusing mainly on distance, going up to 18 miles (mainly on trail) before this event, so I figured a half marathon should be more than doable as long as I didn’t go out too hard or try to kill it. The endurance training is hopefully for the Noble Canyon 50K in September, but registration doesn’t open up until July, so there’s no guarantee that I’m in yet. In order to stay uninjured, I knew I’d have to dial it back some for this race, so I made it the middle of a 20 mile training run. A 2-mile warm up helped set a reasonable starting pace for the 13 miles of racing – for which I planned to slowly ramp up speed and negative split the course. The plan also included a nice long 5-mile cool down, not just to hit my mileage goal for the day but also to help prevent muscle cramping and injury.

Things went mostly as planned, however I ended up forgetting my GPS watch, so I used my phone with a GPS mapping app to get the distance for warm up and cool down, and just believed that the course was about 13 miles because I didn’t want to carry my phone for the race. The only real problem with this is that I had to go purely on feel to gauge pace and effort. Interestingly, the race had two start waves, which is pretty unusual for trail races. I was in the first wave which was for runners who expect to average 7-9 minute miles. Since I was aiming for sub-1:45 finish time (<8 min mile), I figured starting in the middle of the pack for my wave would be a good way to keep from going out too fast. Just before the start of the race, the director announced that the first 50 runners would win a prize that they could pick off of the prize table, and I figured if I could manage my goals, I’d probably be in the top 50. This of course lead to a rather undesirable race mentality. Ideally, when I run I like to zone out – this is what usually happens when I’m just training. However, during races, I tend to get caught up in any and all metrics of my performance. For this race, I ended up doing a lot of accounting. At the first hard left turn, about a 1/4 mile in, I counted off runners and figured my position to be about 47th. My pace felt good and I figured I’d more than likely do more passing than getting passed, so a top 50 finish was likely. I stuck to the plan and slowly worked on moving up in the ranks, keeping track of my position as I passed (or got passed – it happened a couple of times).

I was holding about 35th place by mile 5 and I couldn’t see anyone in front of or behind me. The course is an out and back with a lolly-pop turn around and is actually a little bit shorter on the way back.  At that turn around (about 7 miles), I saw one guy in front of me and one guy behind me. Slowly, I caught up to and passed the guy in front and saw another target up ahead – but knew the guy behind me was gaining.  I stuck to my plan of slowly speeding up, but I guess I don’t know that for sure since I had no watch – I was definitely trying harder though. The guy behind me caught up just as I caught the runner in front of me, so I just maintained 34th position. There was a pretty long section of uphill where the guy who just passed me gained a bit more distance, but I caught him on a steep downhill where he went wide and I cut close to the inside of a turn in a sort of controlled fall. We ended up chatting for a bit and it turned out he wasn’t even entered in the race – so, I was #33 at that point by my count. That guy made for a good pacer, so  I just stuck with him as much as possible. When we got to the last hill with about a mile to go, I passed one more guy, but fell behind my pacer a bit. There was a little more downhill where I mostly closed the gap again and could see two other runners just up ahead. I kind of thought they weren’t in the race either though, since one was male, running with a dog and the other one was female and looked to be running with the guy and his dog. When my “pacer” got right up behind the other two runners, he waved me up. He was maybe 10 yards in front of me and I got inspired to kick it into high gear, blowing by the other two runners (and the pacer). Then I heard the guy telling his dog “c’mon, c’mon!” and I knew he was trying to catch me, so I sprinted to the finish and avoided getting passed back (see photo to the right).

By my count, I was around #30 overall and the race director sent me to the prize table to take my pick. There were a lot of socks, and gels, etc. and I went for an 8-pack of Nuun, easily worth $45. That offset the already reasonable entry fee quite a bit!  There ended up being a chip read error on my finish time and they had me coming in closer to 2:15 rather than about 1:42. After speaking with the race director and the timing guy, they were able to approximate my finish time as 1:41:54, just in front of the 3rd place female finisher. Upon seeing the corrected results, my accounting sucks, because I was 16th overall. They actually have me at 17th, but that guy I beat in the last few seconds is listed at 16th and I have the photographic evidence that I was in front of him. Also, I was never passed by a guy and his dog during the race, so he crossed the start before me as well. I’ve petitioned to have the results corrected, but I don’t expect that to happen and it doesn’t really matter anyway. My finish time below is based on the guy and his dog’s time – it might be a second or two faster, but I suppose I’ll never know. All in all, it was a pretty solid performance, especially considering it was just part of a 20 mile training run.

 

Time: 1:41:33 Pace: 7:45
Place: 16/255 Overall, 14/139 Men, 5/57 M30-39

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Kendra Payne Memorial Triathlon

Four years ago, the Kendra Payne Memorial Triathlon (a.k.a. UCSB Triathlon) was the second tri I’d ever done. Last year, I decided to do it again, but got rained out. So, I thought I’d give it another go this year! Prior to this race, I swam exactly one time since the Carpinteria Triathlon – 800 meters, in Hawaii, a month ago. But that went OK and I didn’t even have a wetsuit on, so I figured a 500 meter swim with a wetsuit should, at the very least, be doable. I didn’t realize until well after the race that it was an 800 meter swim (in hindsight, my swim split wasn’t that bad). On account of the lack of swimming, months of only biking short distances at a relatively slow pace, and focusing on long, slow runs, I wasn’t sure what to set for goals, but figured having fun should be high on the list.

The swim was even colder than I thought it would be – probably about 52 F – but the first half went pretty quickly and smoothy. After that my arms started getting  tight and tired, but I didn’t have any real difficulty.  Also, there were surprisingly few collisions with other swimmers.  There was a large section of the swim that went through some kelp beds which would normally freak me out, but I remained calm, potentially due to mild shock from the cold water. Once out of the water, we had to run up a couple flights of stairs to get to the transition area at the top of the cliff. This turned out to be quite draining, but getting switched over to biking gear still went quickly. I should also note that the transition area was on grass instead of asphalt, which was much appreciated.

Once out on the bike course, I was passing a lot of people immediately. That is always a good motivator, and looking at my speedometer, I was just a hair under 20 mph. I knew I’d feel good about the bike leg if I could average over 20 mph so I  put in a little more effort and found it to be pretty easy to maintain. The second half of the bike leg went faster too, which helped my average pace quite a bit (note that the course is actually 16.5 miles, so the average is a little more than 20 mph).  I have to give props to the old guys – I got passed by at least four 50+ year old dudes who were cruising! Those old dudes can ride!  The odd thing is that I was passing dozens of collegiates and younger age groupers who had 15 and 5 minutes head start respectively.

T2 was also very fast, but while I was swapping shoes, I realized my feet felt like ice blocks. The running felt rather clunky at first, due mainly to the numb feet. My pace felt very slow, and was. Nevertheless, I was passing people left and right, and not getting passed, so that all fared well. About half way through, my legs loosened up and I was able to pick up the pace quite a bit. My feet were starting to feel better too, and by about 2 miles I was feeling normal and running smoothly. Too bad there was only about one more mile to go.  The overall run time was slower than I would have liked, but the course was a little long and in the end I finally placed in my age-group in a triathlon!!!.  I’ve come close before – frustratingly close – but it finally happened! That’s right, I took 3rd place of men 35-39. Interestingly, the medals they gave out are belt buckles (pictured above).

This seems like a good start to 2012!

 

Place: 91/311 overall, 79/205 Men, 3/137 men 35-39
Total: 1:29:22, swim 16:10, T1 2:07, bike 48:24, T2 1:13, run 21:28

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