Monday, August 27, 2007

Woo hoo! Look at me, I'm a triathlete!

Well, I got to Sierra Vista late at night and my plans to bivuac just outside of town seemed to be dashed as it was raining and lightening all over. When I found out the cheapest hotel was full and the expensive ones were, well, expensive. I decided to go back to plan a, which unbeknownst to me included getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Anyway, I didn't have a problem waking up in time to go to the race.
I got checked in just fine, I got my bike racked and my stuff in the transition area and then I remembered I needed my waterbottles. Soon I would realize I would also need my keys to get the water bottles as they were sitting in the back of my locked Jeep (Doh!). So, I found a guy that thought he could help and he said we should try the keys on his ring in the off chance that it somehow worked. Incredibly it did work! So I had my keys and water bottles and was back in business.
I saw on the window that I was in heat 2. I thought someone must have made a mistake as there was no way I was a fast enough swimmer to be in the second heat out of 6. Well, it turns out the slower people go first! So, back in my humble old mind again I prepared for heat 2. I missed the warm up as I watched the heat 1 swimmers struggle through their swim (800m by the way). Having been coached by my niece for the last few months and working on my stroke I found myself analyzing the strokes of the swimmers in the pool. It was amazing how many of the bad habits that I had recently trained out of my habits I saw people using and thought if they just worked on form they would likely be swimming in my heat.
My heat, hmmm, well I sat down on the bulkead waiting for them to start us and I find out the lady I will be sharing a lane with is shooting for 24 minutes and she is surprised to find out I am shooting for 18 and am still in this heat. Then we started and I did flip turns for the first few laps before I decided I was not getting enough Oxygen that way and stopped with the flip turns. Somewhere in here I noticed I was getting a lot of resistance from the other swimmer in my lane being slower and creating chop in the water. I ended up lapping her twice before finishing in the first few in my heat (at least there was only one other guy at the rack when I got out there and I didn't see anyone coming back from our heat on the bike leg). I managed to soak up a couple of minutes in Transition (I don't know my swim time since my lap timer reset but it was around 17-18 minutes). I had a bit of trouble getting my tri top on but didn't lose too much time on it.
So, on to the bike leg. I passed a Lady like she was standing still not too far out (I think she was the first one out of the water in our heat). I managed to keep the speed up in the 23-25 mph area most of the way to the turn around. I had been worried about sun in the eyes but it was a nice overcast morning and I just thoroughly enjoyed the cooler temperatures of Sierra Vista. One guy passed me nearing the turn around but I think he just wanted to pass me as I kept on his tail most of the race from here on out. After the turnaround we kept 15-17 mph most of the way back (uphill and into a bit of a headwind). During this stretch we passed most of the previous heat including a 10 year old boy (someday he will be way out of my league, I was no where near doing on of these at that age). The fields were all green and the morning was just gorgeous. I kept checking my Heart Rate monitor and I was keeping it between 82-85% which was sustainable for this length of race. The guy in front of me got into the transistion about the same time as me and we were out together after a quick change into running shoes and putting the helmet and bike shoes by the bike.
We started running and I felt like I had someone pushing me but it was only imagination and muscles transitioning from cycling to running. The guy in front of me would get a little ahead and then he would have to stop and stretch. He was having a hard time transitioning to running. I was amazed that I didn't have so much trouble. After a mile or so my shins started to hurt (muscles), I knew they were just being cranky and wouldn't stop until the end though so I just kept on going. During the run I was passed by 3 people (I expected that as my run is the weakest of the 3 disciplines). I was happy it was only 3 though as I was expecting a lot more to pass me. Anyway, after halfway most of the course was downhill and I found myself nearing the end of the course when one guy passed me and got in behind the guy I had been following. With a 1/4 mile left I looked behind me as I determined I was not going to get passed in the last 1/4 mile and there was a guy 100 yds back so I picked up the pace and threw heartrate to the wind finishing strong and not getting passed.
Grabbing a Bananna and an orange I walked around waiting for them to post my tag on the board. I was happy to see that I was not the last guy in my group, in fact there were several behind me. With the last heats still on the course though I knew my name would move down the board. Around this time I realized that the last heat was still swimming! They were cruising! Some of those guys did the swim in around 10 minutes! I can't even imagine swimming that fast! Anyway, it was a good day for a race and I learned a lot. My time was 1:38:54. Around 33 minutes for the run and 41 for the bike with an average speed of 19.2. I wasn't quite as fast as I had hoped but I was in the ballpark so I am happy with it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Big swim BIG hill

Well, finally a Saturday rolled around where the Arizona Tri Club had a open water swim workout that I could attend so I was eager to get up there and show them all my new swim moves that my niece had been coaching me on. Of course I was the slowest one there but hey, you can't become a competitive swimmer in 2 months. Well, I guess competing with myself I am a pretty fierce competitor. Anyway, we swam under the bridge pictured above. Between the "no wake" buoy and the rock buoy down the canyon it made for a 900m lap. I was a little intimidated at first wondering if I could do it but 52 minutes later I got out of the water having swim 1900m averaging 2.5 minutes every 100m. Not to bad for a greenhorn I figure. Anyway, it was the first time I had swim that far and interestingly enough I enjoyed it. The swim was just the first part of the day though. The second part of this "little" workout included a ride to the end of the pavement and back via tortilla flat. Well, some of you I know have ridden back to Tortilla Flat with me on permanents. Well, lets just say there is a dirty little secret hill behind Tortilla flat that makes the hill on the way in seem like childsplay. I had a hard enough time getting my legs to pedal after the swim climbing the hill to Tortilla flat but I thought they were on the verge of rebellion upon starting the killer climb of the day. Just a few facts. The ride is a little over 18 miles, the first half of which features nearly 3,ooo feet of climbing. Yes, the ride features 3,121 feet of climbing of which almost all of it is in the first 9 miles. So, lets start in Tortilla flat with the start of the "REAL" workout, never mind the fact that my legs were not happy with the climb to Tortilla in the first place. I had climbed the first part of this before so I knew what was in store. There is a rather scenic little climb around an outcrop.

And then... Could this be the top of the hill? No, it is merely toying with your mind and is but a small dip into a wash and then, the horror of the hill is upon you. Each new corner brings a view of unrelenting 10 degree climbing torture, although torture is not really a word you are thinking about until you are on mile 2 of the hill and your legs are not happy with you and even the triple chainring guys are suffering. Then, you can see it! Is that a flat spot up ahead in a saddle? Is that the top? Can it be? So you climb harder knowing that after three harsh miles of climbing you are at last having the hill letup, but no, the flat spot is but a breath extracted from the unwilling landscape. Expletives are heard as cyclists are informed that there are still 3 more miles of this. Eventually breath is once again used for powering the legs as the backbreaking hill returns with no mercy. About a mile from the turn around another breath of easier grade is enjoyed and not too far later a short flat stretch and then, there it is, the edge of the pavement! After an hour of struggle you are there! Now it is time for the 10-15 minute ride back down hair raising hills and pray your breaks don't fail flight! 3 28 ounce water bottles later my thirst is almost satiated.