COVID-19 v-2.0

What a difference another week makes.

My gym and pool have been shut down. This will officially last another week. It will certainly be extended.

Ironman’s post about it’s COVID-19 contingency plans have been updated with dozens of postponements.

Ironman Des Moines 70.3 and Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 aren’t affected…yet. I expect the official word to come down in a week or two. My hunch is that Des Moines (North American Championship) will be rescheduled and Wisconsin will end up cancelled. The season up here in the north is short, and there are only so many weekends available before it gets too cold. IM can only stage so many races at a time.

I have been busy getting ready for a prolonged shutdown. Freezer and pantry are full. Yes, I have toilet paper. No, I don’t have hand sanitizer.

I am a primary care physician. I will be on the front lines for the foreseeable future (unless/until I get sick). I need to care for my neighbors and my community while keeping my family safe. That will be tough to do when Personal protective Equipment (PPE) are already in short supply. Running, biking, and swimming are my escape, my time to decompress, my time for me.

That won’t be happening. Not for a long time. It would be selfish to even try.

My 2020 racing season ends now. I have a bigger fight to face, and it will take everything I have.

I won’t be signing up for Wisconsin. I’ll take the deferral to 2021 for Des Moines. Lifetime Triathlon Minneapolis might get pushed back. If life has settled down by then, I might just do the sprint (signed up for the Olympic, but I don’t think that will be realistic this year). Twin Cities Loony Challenge (5k, 10 k, 10 mile) is scheduled for October. That will hopefully be unaffected. Maybe I’ll actually get some run training in for that one…maybe.

Exercise will occur when I can fit it in (or when my sanity needs it). I can run on the treadmill or outside. I can bike on the trainer. Maybe, I’ll be able to bike outside at some point…but I doubt that maintaining the paved bike trails at my favorite park will be a priority and will likely remain closed. Maybe I’ll do some weight training. No swimming anytime soon.

Hopefully, this won’t be as bad as I expect it to be. Eventually, we will get to a “new normal”. With luck, it may look a lot like the normal we used to know.

Stay safe. Be kind. Take care of each other. Hug your loved ones. Appreciate all that you hold dear. Together, we will get thru this…

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COVID-19

What a difference a week makes.

When I last updated my blog, I touched on Covid-19 and the possible implications for the 2020 season. Well, those possibilities became reality in the past few days. Everything is being cancelled…NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA, NCAA…and Ironman.

To tell the truth, I had expected this weeks ago when the Tokyo Marathon was canceled. I was surprised when I first heard of it, but it made a lot of sense after I gave it some thought. It was actually the only reasonable option. I knew the virus was coming to the United States and I expected this response.

I had also accepted this likely outcome.

I had accepted that this might be a training year. I reflected on the WHY of what I do. Much of it is to stay healthy. Much of it is because of the community I share.

To protect these things I value, small sacrifices need to be made. I understand the difficult choices being made and respect those making them.

So far, Ironman has postponed 3 full distance events and 9 70.3 events. More will follow. My planned races are still on, but this may change. Both races are in mid-June (Wisconsin 70.3 and Des Moines 70.3). I don’t expect to see a status update until much closer to race day. June is a long way off, and the new reality we are in might be behind us…or not. I suspect late-season events will go on as planned. Early season events are more iffy…

Ironman has put forward a great plan about how they will handle this. If the event is postponed, athletes will automatically be entered into the new event date. Athletes can request a deferral to next years event instead if the athlete wishes. If the event is cancelled, then all athletes are automatically entered into next years event. If neither works (or if the athlete cannot attend do to illness), IM will try to make suitable accommodations.

Considering that we all sign a “no refunds” waiver, I thought that was a very positive response.

So, how do I move forward with training?

Well, I stay flexible. I remember that this is an exercise in my physical well-being, and that is the goal.

I have a plan with a target race in mid-June and I will stick with that plan. If the race is postponed, then I will recalibrate with the new date in mind. If the event is cancelled, then I will just stay the course and possibly do a solo 70.3 at home. If I get sick, I take care of myself (or my loved ones) and get back to training when I can. Whatever happens, I have the motivation to stay fit and active.

As for the specific workouts, most are COVID-19 safe. I bike on the trainer (and outside when weather permits). I run on the treadmill and outside. None of those activities place me at risk. I think the pool swims are safe (I’m not close to anyone, I only use my own equipment, and the virus doesn’t transmit in water). I just need to be careful in the changing rooms (don’t touch my face, wash my hands after I touch anything). I will skip my spin classes (too much close proximity and I don’t want to touch public gym equipment) so I’ll substitute more time on my bike trainer. I have a small home gym and I need to use it more.

Staying fit, and not over-training, are likely my best defense against this virus (along with social distancing and hand-washing).

Stay healthy everyone. Be safe and take care of each other.

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…and so it begins.

My 16 week training plan for IM Des Moines 70.3 formally began last week. I normally don’t do training plans. I typically just make it up as I go. But this one scares me. I’m a lot slower then I used to be (and I was pretty slow to begin with), so I honestly don’t know if I will be able to make the cutoff times. That’s when I turn to a training plan…when I’m a little scared. The only other time I did so was for Ironman Wisconsin in 2014.  “Be Iron Fit” by Don Fink got me across the finish line before. Hoping the 70.3 version of his plan does it again this year.

For the past two months, I’ve been working on base training. Goal was to work on general fitness and to make it part of the routine. I re-joined the gym and have been in the pool twice a week (even for the 2 weeks that the pool heater broke down). I tried a spin class and added that to my weekly schedule. I also dug out my bike trainer and have done at least two sessions a week. My efforts at getting on the treadmill were…less successful.

I’ll be doing a modified “Just Finish” plan. Basically, I’ll be moving around the workouts to fit my schedule. The recomended training sessions will be viewed as minimums. The program is rather light and I will shoot to get it closer to the “Intermediate” plan if I can. I just don’t want to risk burnout like I experienced training for IM Wisconsin.

The “elephant in the room” this year is coronavirus. Given how it just caused a complete shutdown of Italy, I expect disruptions to occur. The gym might be closed. The event might be postponed or canceled (look at the Tokyo Marathon). I work in the front lines in health care. These disruptions are the least of my worries about this pandemic…but this blog is about running and triathlon, so I will just look at it thru that lens for this blog. If Des Moines cancels large public events, I will accept that. If IM feels it is unsafe to move forward with the race, I will accept that too. I would not want to put the health of volunteers at risk, or place an additional strain on the health care resources of the host community. If this turns out to be a training only year, so be it. The goal is fitness. The events are the motivation. Ironman has put out a vague statement that they are monitoring the situation and will make decisions on a race by race basis. Plan for the worst, hope for the best…

As for the rest of my season, I am still considering doing IM 70.3 Wisconsin. It is 1 week before Des Moines. I will be trained, and I should be fully recovered from Wisconsin in time to race Des Moines. I have adjusted my work schedule and have reserved a motel (fully cancellable until the day before the race). The race does not usually sellout so I could register on site the day before. Weather is the other wildcard here. The lake is large and can be cold and rough. The bike is hilly and could be treacherous if it’s raining. Weather has not been kind to this event in the past few years, and I won’t sign up if it doesn’t look good due to weather (or coronavirus). Des Moines, on the other hand, I will be attending unless it gets canceled.

After that, Lifetime Minneapolis Triathlon (Olympic Distance) in July, and the Twin Cities Loony Challenge (10k, 5k, 10 Mile) in October. My application to the NYC Marathon was not successful, but I really wasn’t planning another marathon until next year anyways.

So, a bit more uncertainty on the table this season then usual, but I am actually eager to train for a 70.3. Didn’t think that would happen again. So I will focus on what I can control, and leave the rest to fate.

15 weeks to go…

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Inching My Way Out Of Long Course “Retirement”…Part 3

Last season ended badly yet I still have a grand plan to complete my first Half Ironman since 2014 (Ironman 70.3 DesMoines in mid June).

I have a lot of work to do.

For starters, I found my bike trainer and set it up for the first time since 2014. I’ve been getting 2-3 training rides/week.

I started doing brick workouts again(bike then run).

I rejoined the gym and started twice weekly pool sessions. I also started going to a spin class once/week.

I bought a Half-Ironman Training plan book by Don Fink and mapped out a training schedule starting in early March.

I am still struggling with run training (I hate the treadmill, and the roads are too icy and treacherous). I need to work on that.

Fitness and physical activity are starting to be a part of the routine again. That feels good.

My base fitness is coming along better then in any of my recent off-seasons. This is key since the race is so early in the year. I am really hoping for an early spring. I’ll be able to start on my training indoors, but the sooner I can get outdoor for runs and rides the better. Despite the train wreck during the second half of last season, I am cautiously optimistic about this race.

So, here’s the schedule I have locked in so far:

Ironman 70.3 Des Moines: June 21

Lifetime Triathlon Minneapolis (Olympic Distance): July 11

Twin Cities Loony Challenge (10k/5k/10 mile): October 3-4

Possible (but unlikely) Additional Races:

Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin: June 14

New York City Marathon: November 1st

I think my wife still reads my blog. She has stated that it is the only way she finds out about what shenanigans I’m planning. That last paragraph will be news to her… (Hi dear…love you…please dont kill me…)

So, a little bit of explaining about the two “possible” events.

Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin has been on my radar for a few years, but I have always been reluctant to pull the trigger. This was partially because of the very early race date (much easier for me to train during the summer for a late season triathlon). But the course also scared me. More specifically, the thought of doing that course in bad weather terrified me…and it has had lousy weather every single year. The lake is big, so it can make for a very cold/rough swim. My experience in Racine 2013 has made me very leery of those rough water swims. The bike is very hilly and technical. My bike skills are not great, but I can handle the course. But the thoughts of steep downhills with sharp turns and no breaks due to heavy rain is not something I am ready to risk. This race has had bad weather almost every year. Training for a race just to take a DNS is not something that I was motivated to do.

That said, I was about to take the plunge this year when Des Moines was announced. Smaller lake, flatter bike, warmer climate, a week later (helps with training). It was an easy choice.

But, I still have Wisconsin on my mind. It is one week earlier then Des Moines, so I will be trained. It’s a race that doesn’t sell out, so I could do a last minute sign up if the weather forecast looks good. I could drive down Saturday, register, stay one night, drive back home after the race. If the weather sucks (or if it did sell out), no big deal…I still have Des Moines. It is likely my only shot at this event. It is tempting (and it would be nice to have 2 chances at completing a 70.3 distance this season). I would say the odds of me going though with this hair-brained idea is about 1 in 4 (or less).

A return to a full marathon has been a goal for 1-2 years. I have been discouraged by my lack of speed and stamina lately. I just turned 50 and want to know if I can still do it. I got burnt out on running marathons (up to 6 a year) and they had lost their magic. But my last marathon was 2016, and I am getting the itch again now that I am 50.

If I did another, I would want to do something big and special. I would want to run a World Major Marathon. There are 6 of these. The 3 overseas marathons are not even an option (London, Berlin, Tokyo). I will never be fast enough to qualify for Boston. This leaves Chicago and NYC. Both are lotteries to get in. I was contemplating entering both lotteries in 2021.

Logistically, Chicago would be the better choice. It’s closer (I can easily drive there) and the lottery odds are pretty good. But, NYC is a very appealing race to me. I love NYC. The race goes thru all 5 burrows, and it is the biggest marathon in the world (over 55,000 participants). The odds of getting in by lottery is slim (about 12% by lottery the last time I checked). It’s a dream that likely will never become a reality.

Last week, someone posted on FB that the lottery has opened. It was also the 50th anniversary of the race. I didn’t plan on entering this year…but I did. If I get in, I will have several months to train after the early end to my triathlon season. Its a longshot, but it just seemed too good to pass up. Lottery results will be posted at the end of the month. Assuming I dont get in, I’ll start run training more regularly and look more seriously at Chicago 2021.

It appears that I have entered Midlife Crisis v2.0.

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Inching My Way Out Of Long Course “Retirement”…Part 2

Since my last post 8 months ago, I have been trying to keep up the momentum and returning to longer events in 2020.

Its been rough.

Since my post, I participated in my first Tour de Tonka bike ride since 2014. It was also the first time that I didn’t do the 100 mile century ride. I opted instead for the 57 mile route to mimic my upcoming Half Ironman.

I was a struggle. It was slow. It was painful. I have work to do…

I was then signed up for the Twin Cites looney challenge. This is a 10k/5k combo run on Saturday and a 10 miler on Sunday.

The Saturday Events were canceled due to lightning. The 10 miler was beautiful and I felt good (but quite slow…where did all of my speed go???)

A couple of weeks later, I did the Detroit Marathon Motor City Challenge (1 mile/5k Saturday, Half Marathon Sunday). This was an absolute mess.

It turned out that my College Reunion was that same weekend. It was a 3 hour drive from Detroit. It was also a semi formal dress event. No problem, I can do it all…

I showed up for the 1 mile, and the weather was cold but beautiful. I decided to go all out. I sprinted the race start to finish. I thought I was gonna die when I crossed the finish line (damn cold/exercise induced asthma).

Finish Time: 8:05.

Not what I wanted to see. My PR is 6:43. I once did a Half Marathon at an average pace of 7:57/mile. Again, very disappointed with my lack of speed.

The 5k started shortly after that. I just did a slow recovery run knowing I had a HM the next day. Even so, I struggled since my asthma was still flaring up.

After that, I went home and changed into my class reunion suit and new dress shoes (didn’t fit very well…huge mistake) and drove the 3 hours to my old alma mater. When I got there, I had a walking tour of campus (damn shoes were killing me) then a couple of receptions where I was mostly standing around.

I left the reunion around 1am. I could barely walk back to my car since my feet were hurting so bad. I then did the three hour drive to the starting line in Detroit. Along the way, I did a quick change of gear and drank a few gallons of coffee. By the time the race started, I had been up 28 straight hours, had blistered feet, and had to run to the bathroom every five minutes.

As you can guess, it didn’t go well.

I finished in just under three hours (PR: 1:44). But about 45 minutes of that time was spent in porta potty lines.

And, with that train wreck, my season ended.

So, I have a Half Ironman in June. I haven’t been to a pool in over 2 years, a 57 mile bike ride took me several hours (and almost killed me), and a HM took about 3 hours (and almost killed me).

I had a lot of work to do…

 

 

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Inching My Way Out Of Long-Course “Retierment”…

Ever since I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin 5 years ago, I have struggled with staying motivated. I had continued to run marathons and short distance triathlon, but without joy or motivation.

I was going thru the motions.

After last year’s final race (Twin Cities 10 Mile), I sat on the couch and stayed there for 6 months. I approached the upcoming (minimalistic) season with dread.

But a funny thing happened when I started running this year. I was enjoying myself again. I was doing longer runs because I wanted to do it. I found myself planing activities around my workouts (and not being resentful of those workouts). It had been a long time…

I’m not exactly sure what triggered this shift, but I have a few suspicions.

1. I’m turning 50 this year. Midlife Crisis v.2.0.
2. College Reunion – 25 years
3. A friend is training for her first 70.3. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
4. I haven’t seen any signs of any of the big dogs freely roaming the neighborhood this season.
5. There’s a new walking path leading out of my neighborhood, along the highway, connecting me to all of the running trails in town. Much more variety making the runs more interesting.

All of this has got me wondering about possibly tackling a longer event. Ironman Wisconsin 70.3 was launched 3 years ago and I occasionally considered doing this race as it is close to home.

I could never pull the trigger since it is a very hilly course, and I am not skilled on the bike. The downhills terrifies me and the race always had the threat of severe weather. But I was starting to consider signing up for 2020.

That is when Ironman announced the inaugural Ironman 70.3 – Des Moines (North American Championships). Event was closer to home, it would take place on a flatter course with a smaller/calmer lake. It was also 1 week later then Wisconsin would be which allows for a little bit more outdoor training for an early season event.

That was enough for me. I signed up for my first Ironman event since 2014.

The rest of 2013 is already locked in place (sprint Triathlon next week, Twin Cities 10 Mile in October). I don’t think I will add any more events this season (I was doing WAY too many races before), but 2020 already has me working on improved base fitness and proper nutrition again.

I’m also getting the itch to do another full marathon…but one thing at a time.

Feels good to be back!

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2018 Year In Review

Minneapolis/St. Paul, Maple Grove MN
Event #116-122
Triathlon #22-23

Changes in life happen. They are needed. There are times in life that you recognize that the current state of affairs cannot continue and that a change is inevitable…even if one has no idea what that change will look like.

I have been struggling with that since 2014 when I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin. Nothing kills a dream faster then accomplishing it…and the fastest way to do that is by crossing a “finish line”.

That dream motivated me and pushed me farther then I dreamed possible…and it was gone in a heartbeat. Of course, I pretended it was still there as I bounced around looking for something to take its place (another Ironman, more marathons, ultramarathons, cross country skiing) but nothing stuck. I was going thru the motions and not having any fun. I pulled back a couple of years ago and even further last year…but it was still a struggle. I decided to hang up the running shoes completely after last year’s final race.

I decided I would stop racing since my heart was not in it anymore…but I would remain physically active to maintain health and fitness without a schedule to worry about. That was the plan with my last blog entry over a year ago. How did that plan worked out?

In short…it didn’t.

I spent the next 4 months parked on the couch binging on Netflix. I never had any intention of running in the snow this winter, but I intended to get to the pool regularly (never happened), run on the treadmill (nope), do some weight training (nada), and get on the elliptical regularly (6 times…maybe). So, this wasn’t working, but it did give me a chance to heal up from the overuse injuries and the mental exhaustion that I had been dealing with. It also resulted in a complete loss of base fitness and provided me with extra “insulation “. Sigh…

I received an e-mail announcing the opening of registration for a few local events. For the first time since 2012, I had nothing to train towards, and it resulted in no training. So, I took the plunge and started looking at upcoming events.

There were a few things I knew with certainty:
1. No extreme or ultra-events. Short and fun events only. I would avoid everything with the words “Marathon”, “ultra” or “Ironman” in the title.
2. No traveling. It takes too much time, money, and planing.
3. No massive racing schedule. Just a few events that have always been highlights on my calendar that I would enjoy doing.

I ended up deciding that I wanted one running event and one triathlon. The choice for each event were obvious decisions. The best local tri is Lifetime Minneapolis (beautiful urban course which is completely closed to traffic), and the best local running event is Twin Cities Marathon Weekend (I again signed up for the Loony Challenge which gets me guaranteed entry in the Twin Cities 10 Mile as well at the TC 5k and TC 10k the day before).

That might be just enough to get me going.

It wasn’t. At least not right away. Winter was not going away…and I still had no treadmill motivation. We were well into May before I went out for my first run. I almost made it to the mailbox before stopping to catch my breath. Yeah…base fitness is a real thing. I slowly got back to running a little farther. The city put up some new paved trails last year and I started to explore them. It was a 5k run around the neighborhood and an 8 Mile run around the lake. That became my weekly running goal…one short and one long run per week (8 Mile being the new “long run” replacing the 15 Mile weekly long run that I did for years).

As the weather warmed up a bit further, I pulled the bike out and returned to Elm Creek. I used to do 4 laps during my IM training. This year, I planned on just doing one lap (32 Miles) weekly. I had a love/hate relationship with this park in the past, but I really did miss it. It is a beautiful urban oasis and a fun/safe place to ride. This got added to the weekly schedule.

I also made my way back to the pool. 1 Mile weekly swim. So, I had gradually made my way back to regular physical activity 4 days a week. I wasn’t pushing myself hard at any of this…just getting out there and re-engaging a healthier lifestyle.

The events were doing what I wanted them do to…get me active again. But another thing was becoming clear…I had no interest in aggressively competing at these events. That drive was gone. This was a hobby. What I was doing before was like a job. I never had a DNS or DNF in the past 6 years…but now, I was ok with that possibility. If I was sick or injured (or if the weather was dreadful) I felt fine staying home. I would feel just fine with finishing last…and I would still have a sense of accomplishment for finishing. I would place the medal on the wall with the others, toss the shirt on the pile and likely never wear it again, and still keep the bib and finish time printout in a binder with the others. I would not buy extra swag, or photos, or hoard all the stuff that came with the race (swim cap and wristbands for example). And I would not write extensive blog posts detailing in excruciating detail the training or race I had just completed. This was a hobby. This was for fun and fitness. And it got me on a regular (if not very intense) training schedule.

Once I saw my training was back on track, I signed up for another triathlon (Maple Grove Tri). This was usually a good event, although it’s a boring course. It is a late season triathlon that would keep me in my training routine for an extra six weeks, it is close to home, and my employer was sponsoring the event meaning that I would get perks and discounts.

With a commitment to a second triathlon, I took the plunge and bought a new wetsuit. The old one was…old. It also had a bunch of holes and was way too tight when I bought it 6 years ago (when I was at my absolute thinnest). A small would not fit. Looking at the size chart, I was right in between a S/M and a Medium. I decided to size up, and it was the most comfortable I have felt in a wetsuit ever. I could move. I could breath. I could put it on in under five minutes. It wasn’t cutting off circulation to my feet. I could not wait to try it out at my first triathlon of the year…which turned out to be a non-wetsuit event.

Eventually, race day came Lifetime Minneapolis Sprint Triathlon. It was a beautiful (but hot) day. It had been over nine months since my last event. For the first time in a few years, I was excited as I arrived. I even felt a few butterflies in my stomach. As I arrived, I saw that the water temp was 79.1F so it would be a no-wetsuit event. I expected this, and had left my wetsuit in the car. Got my transition spot ready and had to wait a couple of hours before my wave would start. While waiting, officials announced a yellow flag warning due to high heat and humidity. I kept jumping back into the lake to cool off.

I finally made my way to the start line. The swim was perfect, warm, calm, without much bumping with other racers. T1 went smoothly and it was a gorgeous day to be cycling. Despite my light training volume, I was keeping a decent pace and passing more people then were passing me. The run, on the other hand, was brutal. The course was red flagged by this time. It was hot, humid, with no breeze or shade. Dumping water over your head had little impact since it was so humid. But, I was still able to run the whole way to the finish line.

 

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After I left the race venue, I realized that I never bothered to look at my results. It just didn’t matter to me anymore. This was a victory for me since I always fretted about finish time and position, then micro-analyzed what I could have done better. This time, I didn’t even think of checking (or looking at my Garmin for that matter). Eventually, I did pull up the results. I was slower then average but I wasn’t back of the pack either. This is typically where I finish in triathlon events and I was please to see that I did so well considering my “non-training” training this year. I also picked up a few race photos since they were free.

The training mostly continued until the Maple Grove Triathlon (except swimming never really got off the ground). The weather was cooler, but dreary. The swim was wetsuit legal (my first wetsuit swim in two years). The perks were nice (especially the special section in transition with personalized nameplates). I wasn’t as excited for this event as Lifetime Minneapolis. I had to wait around awhile for my swim start, and everything went ok. My knee had been bugging me for the last few weeks (resulting in no long training runs) and it was giving me grief here. Other then that, it was an uneventful end to my Triathlon season. I again left without bothering to check my finish time (again…middle to back of the pack).

With Triathlon season behind me, I had to work on my run since Twin Cities Marathon Weekend was coming up…and this would include two consecutive days of 10 Miles of running (10k, 5k, and 1 Mile on Saturday, 10 Miles on Sunday). If had not run more then 8 Miles in one day in almost a year (with no back-to-back long runs). Minor injuries plagued me that last month. I strained a rib muscle and that completely sidelined me for three weeks. I ended up running only two times in September (and never over 5k). The weather was particularly bleak and rainy heading into marathon weekend. Fortunately, the rib improved and the rain stopped just in time for race weekend.

As usual, I had signed up for the Loony Challenge. This is a 10k/5k combo on Saturday and the 10 Mile on Sunday. For the Saturday races, they start the morning with the longest race (10k) starting at the marathon finish line. We run on the Marathon course for 5k, then turn around and come back. They then use the same course for the 5k, Family 1 Mile, kids 1/2 Mile by just bringing the turnaround point closer. It’s rather efficient, if a little repetitive. I got there early, got my bibs and shirts, and went to the corporate team tent.

One of the challenges I always face at this event is weather…and layering. I am acclimated to warm weather throughout the summer and this is usually one of my first cool weather runs in months. I pull out all of the cold weather running gear and try to figure out what to wear. I usually end up overdressed. This year would be no different. Temps were in the low 40’s (I would have preferred low 50’s with a light wind. It would be overcast but minimal chance of rain. I ended up going with a long sleeved thermal top with a light zippered windbreaker and long tights. When I got to the start coral, it was windier then I anticipated and I instantly wished I had grabbed some gloves and a head beanie to cover the ears…but it was too late to go back for them.

The races were familiar. I was cold the first mile or two, but warmed up adequately. My hands still got cold when we got a bit of wind. My rib was behaving but my knees and ankles were both stiff and achy. I fell into my normal pace (middle to back of the pack). When I crossed the finish line, I had just enough time to grab a snack, stuff my finishers medal into my zippered coat pocket and get to the 5k start coral. Repeated this again for the family fun 1 Mile Run (always feel weird about this one since it’s a kids race, but I can’t leave bling behind…especially since I run so few races now).

Speaking of bling, I’ll bring up my biggest pet peeve for the weekend…bling. Medals has never been a strength of the Twin Cities Marathon…but they have been getting better. They used to use the same medals and finishers shirts for the 10k and 5k. When they started the challenges, they started creating unique (but very similar) medals for the two races. Well, they went back to using the same medal for the two events. This is fine for smaller events and organizations, but it just comes off as cheap and lazy here. It is especially inappropriate here when a challenge event signs you up for both races. And the medal design was so plain. There was the race name on a plain background with a small emblem on the lower left of the medal (that I have no idea what it is supposed to be). C’mon TCM, you charge a lot for these events! Don’t be so lazy and cheap with these….

Since I’m venting, I’ll mention my other pet peeve for the weekend. The free race photos. In theory, this sounds great. But they had no photographers. They just had high speed cameras taking wide angle photos every second or so. The result is a big group photo with most runners hard to identify. The photos were linked with runners based on a nearby timing mat. There was an issue with that calibration since most of the pics didn’t have me in them. There was only one photo station on the whole course and another at the finish line. No post race photos either. For me, this wasn’t that big of a deal since I have thousands of race photos and most of these start to look alike after awhile. But I felt bad for the first time marathon runners who were denied the option of getting good race photos.

Anyways, I got my gear, walked a half mile back to the car then headed across the street to the expo. I always love this Expo! For the first time, we had to go thru security and a metal detector before entering (sign of the times I guess). The expo was mostly similar to what I was accustomed to…but it seemed smaller then before. It was in the same hall, but official merchandise, TCM booth, Medtronic Booth (title sponsor), and transportation info booth all had much bigger footprints with a lot of wasted floor space. Despite this, some booths were unrented and they set up a bean bag toss or hoopla hoops just to fill the empty spaces. I got the feeling that the the decline of interest in running events that has been occurring over the past few years was starting to be felt here as well. I checked the race numbers and Marathon finishers was down by a couple of thousand people from a few years ago…but 10 Mile participation was up by the same amount and the short events had stable participation numbers. Still, the expo seemed somewhat smaller. The absence of Cariboo Coffee was the most glaring omission (as the free coffee was always a bonus at the expo). Anyways, I got my bib and shirt, and went on my way back home to rest up for day two.

I was up again in the middle of the night the next day. I was really feeling stiff and sore from Saturday’s events. This was going to be a painful run. The weather was the same, so I used similar gear (but added gloves and a beanie). The marathon and 10 Mile start in downtown Minneapolis (near the new US Bank Stadium-home of the MN Vikings) and finish at the state Capitol in St Paul. It starts an hour earlier than the marathon and is a straight line between the two points. The marathon takes a much more scenic tour of Minneapolis before heading into St Paul. The two races share the same final 7 Miles. The race was fine overall. I struggled with the aches and pains that I earned yesterday by competing without enough training. The course was familiar. The support was amazing, especially since we were coming thru about 3 hours ahead of the marathoners and it was not ideal spectating weather. The course was, as always, beautiful. The rain held off and the wind was pretty light. It wasn’t long before my short season came to an end.

37335711-E425-4BC4-842E-B2ED003A87B9

41B38928-2181-476C-B332-AA3A33A44497So, looking back, was it a successful season? Yes and no. The events were spaced out more and I looked forward to them again…so that was a victory. It did motivate me to stay active, but not as consistently as I would have liked. Now that it is over, my motivation is gone and I will need to figure out a way to stay fit during the off-season. These events are some of the best events in the region and I can’t imaging sitting out the Lifetime Minneapolis Triathlon or Twin Cities Marathon Weekend as long as I am even casually involved in running and triathlon. So, yes, I will be back for more next year. I already registered for Lifetime Minneapolis and waiting for early registration to start for another Loony Challenge.

Who knows, I may blog about it too…

 

 

Addendum

The week after the TC Marathon Weekend, I participated in a 5k charity run in support of a friend whose family has been affected by brain cancer. It was a 5k run/walk and I was the only one in my group that decided to run.

That was a mistake.

You see, I had a massive tree fall in our backyard the week before. As always, when I pull out the chainsaw, my wife tells me that I should hire someone to do it. It’s like she thinks I don’t know what I’m doing.

She’s right.

Fortunately, I still have all my body parts but I hurt almost every muscle in my body 2 days before the event. Mostly, I strained a bunch of rib and back muscles. It took me 5 minutes to crawl out of bed the morning of the event. Getting out of the car at the race venue was another significant accomplishment.

Waiting around at the starting area with our team, it felt like I was loosening up. I was registered to run, but I could have just tossed the bib and entered the walking coral.

But, I’m stubborn.

Less then a 1/4 Mile into the run, my back just knotted up completely. Somehow, I kept running, but it was not a pretty sight. Very happy that there were no race photos for this one. I finished in just under 35 minutes…not bad under the circumstances.

This event was a nice way to end the season…supporting others and helping raise money for a good cause.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to get load up on ibuprofen and warm up my heating pad…

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Race Report: TC Loony Challenge

September 30 – October 1/ 2017
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Event #112-115

“Hey! I know you!”

Deer in headlights…

I was walking back from the 5K finish line towards the corporate team tent at the time. I didn’t know anyone that would be at the race. So, I was caught off guard and frantically rummaging thru the mental Rolodex trying to connect the face to a name. No luck.

“I follow the blog that you write! Just wanted to say hi…”

This may have been the highlight of the weekend. First, someone out there actually reads my ramblings. Second, someone recognized me in a crowd of thousands of people and third, he took the time to introduce himself. I was rather tongue tied and didn’t really know what to say. But, if you are reading this, thanks for making my weekend!

The weekend was the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend…easily the premier running event in Minnesota (apologies to fans of Grandma’s Marathon). It is a highlight in my race calendar every year and it is often the season finale before the Minnesota winter settles in.

This year, I was doing the “Loony Challenge” again. It is basically every event over the weekend EXCEPT the marathon. I run the 10k, 5k, and 1 mile fun run on Saturday, and the 10 Mile on Sunday. The Saturday events start and finish at the state Capitol as a series of out-and-back runs on Summit Avenue. On Sunday, the marathon and 10 mile start on neighboring blocks in downtown Minneapolis (next to US Bank Stadium…home to this year’s Super Bowl) and end at the State Capitol (all events share the same finish line). The marathon takes a scenic tour of Minneapolis’s chain of lakes and the Mississippi River before crossing into St Paul. The 10 mile route is a beeline to St Paul and the 2 races share the last 7 miles of the route. About 8000 runners are registered for the Saturday events (including the 1/2 mile, toddler trot and diaper dash) and about 25000 combined for Sunday events. The TC Marathon is the ninth largest marathon in the country and has been named “The Most Scenic Urban Marathon in America”. Having run several, I do find this course to be exceptional…and it is the only Marathon that I have completed more then once (three times total, with the 10 Miles three times as well). I was excited about this weekend. Unfortunately, this excitement did NOT translate into a regular training routine. Life events, lack of motivation for the past couple of seasons, and a general apathy about my finish times have resulted in a inconstant and uneven training cycle. This is not to say that I don’t stay active and have a healthy lifestyle. But the training plans dictating me to do a certain number of miles at a certain intensity have worn out their welcome. So, I came into this weekend with the mindset of just enjoying myself and to let whatever happens happen.

Saturday Events:

The weekend’s weather looked a little unpredictable. A cool front came thru a few days prior to race weekend. Until then, all of my running for the past several months was in shorts and t-shirt. It always gets cold just before this event and I always have to try to figure out cold weather layering (and I ALWAYS end up over layering for the first few brisk runs in the fall). Saturday would be the nicer but colder day. It would be sunny, breezy, and a starting line temp of 45F (about 15 degrees colder then I have run in for almost six months). It looked like it would warm up slowly, but stay in the 40’s until I was done running. Fortunately, I had access to the corporate team tent (heated, snacks, private bag check). I decided to wear shorts, but a long sleeved shirt and windbreaker. I brought a few more attire options to do a last second swap if it became clear that I was over/underdressed. I got down there early and it was already about 50F. I elected to start with the long sleeved jersey and windbreaker anyways since the wind still made it feel pretty cold.

Race start was a little earlier this year for the 10k (7:15 am instead of 7:30 am) and was the typical out and back run on Summit Avenue that I have done several times. The run goes from the Capitol to St Paul’s Cathedral (the Twin domes that dominates St Paul’s skyline) and along summit avenue and its 100 year old mansions. I started slow and got slower (as expected) and the air warmed up nicely. Hands and ears were fine by mile 2 and the jacket was unzipped by mile 3. With the turnaround came the bright morning sunlight on a truly glorious day. The overlook onto downtown St Paul was breathtaking. Before I knew it, I was back between the twin domes and headed to the finish.

With the early start of the 10k, I had plenty of time before the 5k start at 9:00 am. Although it certainly wasn’t warm, it wasn’t cold either (it was just right!) I didn’t need the layers anymore. I ditched the jacket and swapped out the long sleeve shirt with a short sleeved. Had just enough time to do all this before heading back for the 5k start. It was well into the fifties by this time. Oddly, the 5k course had changed this year. Usually it follows the 10k route and the turnaround is closer. This time, we went out on a different road and eventually looped back onto Summit for the return trip. I don’t know why they did it, but I appreciated the change of scenery. Once that race was over, I was headed back to bag check when I had met the only person that admits to reading my blog (pretty sure my wife doesn’t read it anymore either) before heading back for the 1 mile family fun run. I probably shouldn’t do this event (it’s a kids race and they organize the corals by grade level), but it has a nice medal that complements the 5k and 10k medals (and I NEVER leave bling behind…). It was a quick run from one dome to the other and back. Get medal, get back from bag check, and I walked about a 1/2 mile to the expo. Saturday races bibs can be picked up Race morning at the race site. Sunday events have to be picked up at the expo. That’s how I started racing the Saturday events…I wasn’t going to drive all the way to St Paul just to pick up a bib. If I was going to drive that much, then I would get a couple of shirts and medals at the same time. I was doing the Loony Challenge before the Loony Challenge even existed!

The expo was as great as always, but I just didn’t need anything. I looked around for a bit, got my bib, and headed home.

 

Sunday Event – TC 10 Mile (The Retirement Race)

Saturday was certainly the better weather day of the weekend. Sunday would be warmer (high 50’s), but with rain and gusting winds. It was looking like it would be a washout all day. By Saturday, the forecast improved with the rain looking like it would hold off until late morning (the marathon runners would get hammered but the 10 mile runners start an hour earlier and are obviously done quicker). I was cautiously optimistic.

I was getting a ride with a co-worker on Sunday morning. She lives much closer to the race than I do. I just drive over to her house and her husband drives us to the start and picks us up at the finish. That was really helpful this year since the Vikings and Twins had early afternoon home games in downtown Minneapolis on Saturday as well ($50+ for event parking???)

The drive to their place scared me. Torrential downpours and strong winds for the whole drive. The car thermometer was showing high 40’s instead of mid 50’s. This was not what the weatherman had promised! The rain was slowing down when I arrived at their place and the radar showed the rain clearing out for the next few hours. By the time we got to the start line, it was dry (windy and colder then expected, but dry at least).

That didn’t last.

About 20 minutes before the start, the sprinkles started. It wasn’t bad, and my windbreaker was water resistant, but there was a definite chill. I headed to my coral and it felt like I was in a wind tunnel. There was still a few drops but the wind was the worst. Once the race started, the wind turned into a very strong headwind. By mile 1, the rain started to come down a lot harder (not like earlier in the day, but I was getting very uncomfortable in a hurry).

Fortunately, it didn’t last. By mile 4, the rain had stopped and the wind started to relent. I was drying off by mile 5. The rain held off until after the race (I have no idea if the marathoners got hit later but the rain got bad again for the drive home).

The rest of the race was fine. The air temp came up a bit, it was dry, and the wind calmed down. My legs were wet noodles however (that will happen when you don’t actually train for back-to-back races). I didn’t really worry about it. The goal was to enjoy myself and to take it all in one last time. Downtown Minneapolis. The riverfront parkway. The ALARC wall. Summit Avenue. The Twin Domes. The downhill to the finish. The giant flag suspended between fire truck ladders. The finishers chute.

And, just like that, it was over.

I got my post race food, got my medals, lingered in the finish area one last time, and headed off to meet up with my crew.


So, what now? Not sure. But I need a break from racing events (and I honestly don’t know if I’ll be back but it seems unlikely). I got burnt out about halfway thru last season (100+ events in just over 4 years can do that) and I just tried to get thru the rest of that season. I almost called it quits then…but I qualified for USA Triathlon Nationals and I had deferred a 15k early in the year. I had to give Nationals a chance, and I wanted to do a warm up Olympic Distance triathlon in preparation for it. So, a mini-season was developed.

I figured a much smaller season focusing on a few quality events (over quantity) may rekindle my passion for the sport. It did the opposite. It reaffirmed my original decision. Even though I enjoy an active lifestyle, I no longer enjoy building my week around training plans, or my year around my race schedule. With age and lower training volume (nothing will come close to matching Ironman training) my speed tanked too. My chronic and lingering ankle injuries were getting worse and the knees were getting grumpier with every race. Races became a chore that was robbing me of time that I could use to do other things (like spending time with my family).

I came to the realization that I got what I needed from the sport a long time ago. I got the self confidence to try new things. I accepted the fact that I can be an athlete and that I can be successful at something new if I just dared to put myself out there and give it my best shot. I redefined myself and my view of what’s possible. And that’s pretty amazing to me.

I may do a race here and there, just for fun. My office usually puts together a team participating in a midsummer 5k. That may be the only race next year. I might throw my name in the lottery for the TC 10 mile in a year or two. Or maybe not.

Time will tell.

As for the blog, I think it’s time to retire it (again). It went on hiatus for 6 months last winter but returned as I had a few more stories to tell.

If I have more stories in the future, I may revive this blog again. But the stories may have nothing to do with running or triathlon. It may be about a new adventure that I have not even considered yet.

Time will tell…

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Race Report: USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships – Sprint Distance

August 13, 2017
Omaha, NE
Triathlon #21
Event #111

The alarm again went off in the middle of the night. I stumble out of bed and get the coffee going. I then attempt to get today’s set of temporary race number tattoos properly applied. I get all 4 on me without any screw ups. Hooray for small victories! This day was off to a good start!
Then I opened the weather app and groaned. This was headed right for us.

Well, it is what it is. I had arranged for a late check out from my hotel, so I had plenty of time in case of race delay. It was also just a sprint. I wouldn’t be on the course long enough to care about a bit of rain.

I get my gear together and head out to the race venue. I’m early (again) and the first one in the parking lot (again). I get the closest spot to transition. Then, instead of playing angry birds, I keep refreshing the weather app. Looks like the storm is heading right at us and should hit right at the starting gun. The rain is already pretty steady. It wasn’t a downpour, but a steady drizzle. It would be a sloppy race.

Transition opens and I go get my gear set up. After yesterday’s race, participants doing both events were permitted to just move our bikes to a back rack and leave them in transition. I found my bike, swapped out the race sticker and found my new racking spot. I then got my gear set up. Organizers specifically prohibited any bags from being left in transition (including clear plastic bags). So, I had to leave my running shoes, cycling shoes, and socks out in the rain. They would be soaked by the time I needed them.

Water temperature was even warmer today (82.5F), so wetsuits were again prohibited. This was not a surprise. My wetsuit was in the trunk of my car just in case, but I hadn’t used it all season.

Even though this is a huge triathlon (1184 participants, 1083 finishers), it felt small. This was mostly because it was being held the day after a race that was over twice as big. Half of transition was empty. There were a lot less athletes so far fewer support crews, volunteers, and spectators. The weather didn’t help that. It was still a big event, but it was obvious that the main event was yesterday’s race.

 

I headed back to the car and followed the weather updates. We got lucky. The system started to break apart and shifted north. The drizzle would continue, but no lightning or rain delay. The race got underway on time. I had a bit of time to kill since my wave didn’t start for another 80 minutes so I just sat by the waters edge and watch the other waves start their race. The drizzle and the wind was keeping me uncomfortably cold. The air temp wasn’t bad, but the combo got unpleasant quickly. It would by nice on the run, but cold on the bike. Finally, it was my turn to line up.

The Swim:


Once again, we lined up on the dock, got a quick warm up swim, then lined up with one hand on the dock for our in-water start. Again, I let everyone have a 3 second start so I could (mostly) stay out of the chaos. Again, it worked. The waves were spaced out enough that I was mostly on my own out there. It was quite calm and serene. That said, I was surprised at how sore my arms were from the day before. They had no energy at all. Still, it was only half of the distance today and the turn buoys came quickly. Before I knew it, I was at swim exit. The ramp was very slippery and a couple of volunteers were there to help haul me out on the water. The water temp was much warmer then the air temp and I could feel the wind cut into me instantly. It would be a long bike ride.
Swim Split – 20:32 (2:31/100 yd)

 

T1:
Windy, drizzle, and sloppy. That was transition in a nutshell. Wet socks going onto wet feet and into wet cycling shoes. Delightful! Another slow transition.
T1 Split – 4:39

The Bike:


Well, the good news was that we did not have to deal with “The Hill” today! The bike course was the same out-and-back course as yesterday except that the turnaround was at the halfway point of yesterday’s course. “The Hill” was just past the turnaround so was omitted from today’s race. That was a very good thing. The Hill was terrifying enough in good weather. I can’t imagine riding it in strong winds, slippery roads, and wet brakes.

The course would be bad enough with a lot of slick spots and poor riding conditions. The rain was continuing but the wind wasn’t a factor on the ride out. What was obvious was how much less crowded the bike course was. Less then half the riders, few spectators and less volunteers made this feel almost lonely at times. Just as my arms were fatigued on the swim, my legs had no energy on the bike. Every mile was a struggle. I was happy to see the turnaround again…but was then treated to pretty significant headwinds. I had warmed up by this point so the wind and rain were not overwhelmingly cold, but it did make the ride back uncomfortable. I also noticed the smaller hills today with the leg fatigue. I have to say that I was pretty happy when I spun back into transition.
Bike Split – 1:47:34 (15.9 mph)

 

T2:
Starting to get the hang of transition again!
T2 Split – 3:05

The Run:


The run course was the same as yesterday. This part of the course was not as deserted as the bike, but was much quieter then the day before. It was a simple out and back which we did once (instead of twice yesterday). With only half the participants doing half the distance, it was much quieter. There were fewer volunteers and no spectators once we left transition. The legs were as wobbly as ever leaving transition but found their form quickly enough. The cooler temps were welcome for this stretch of the race (although the ice-towels that were so welcomed yesterday were ignored today). The run course was perfectly flat with 4 aid stations along the way. Overall, an uneventful 5k.
Run Split – 32:28 (10:27 min/mile)

 

The Finish:
As I got to the finishers chute, I was all alone, the racers were very spaced out and I had nobody around me. The red carpet and the finish line beckoned to me but it didn’t look the same as yesterday. The rain and dreary skies made it look a little less special. But it was still something that I wanted to savor. Again, there were a lot of photographers and I lined myself right down the middle. Head up, bib straight, tri top zipped up, and a big smile. Who knew if yesterday’s photos looked decent. I wanted to have a few photos to remember this moment. I was ready for my closeup. I started down the chute and crossed the finish line.
Finish Time – 1:47:34

 

Post Race:
Water, medal, chicken salad sandwich, and a copy of my results were obtained while waiting for transition to open.

It had been a good weekend. I looked at my results and I wasn’t dead last in my Age Group today…so I’ll take that as a win. I knew that I would likely never qualify for this event again, so I let the memories of this weekend sink in. Yes, I had been invited to this event. I may have been out of my league but I earned my spot at the starting line. I may have been one of the final finishers, but I still felt that I earned my spot fair and square and that I belonged here…at least this one time. From where I started six years ago, it still seemed to be an impossible achievement. I took a few more moments to remember the details. I then grabbed my bike for one last photo and I loaded my gear for the long drive home.

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Race Report: USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships – Olympic Distance

August 12, 2017
Omaha Nebraska
Triathlon #20
Event #110

Race Day was here, and the alarm clock went off way too early.

I got my coffee and applied my temporary tattoos. These theses are surprisingly complicated a 2:30 am without sufficient caffeine on board. I managed to screw them up…all four of them. You would think that I would have figured it out by number 4. Nope. I got my racing chip on and triple checked all of my gear. Once I was set, I headed to the race venue.

This triathlon is huge. There are 2403 triathletes registered for today’s event (1990 finishers) and 3587 registrants over the event weekend. Wandering thru transition was a spectacle on its own.

 

I got there an hour before transition opened, and was the first car in the parking lot (again). I have a habit of doing that. Access to the the parking area was poor. The size of the lot was insufficient (2500 participants, 1000 parking spaces…you do the math).  The shuttles were a problem last year. I knew I would rather be sitting around in my car (and playing Angry Birds) then stressing in a traffic jam. I’m glad I did. There was a traffic jam. The parking lot was filled to capacity. People who couldn’t get in the lot were rerouted to a distant lot and had to take additional shuttles. Race start was pushed back by 30 minutes.

During the chaos, I got my gear set up and just took wandered about taking pics with my phone. The weather was glorious. It was a cool morning without any humidity or wind and the sky was clear. Water temperature was 80.6F (no wetsuits permitted). I could talk about the scene, but the pics tell the tale better then I ever could…

The Swim:


The lake was small, shallow, warm and calm. There was a temporary dock installed and we started in waves based on age group. When it was our turn, we walked out to the end of the dock and could jump off the left side for a practice swim while the wave ahead of us were sitting on the right side of the dock. Once they were off, we were called back to the dock to sit on the right until 2 minutes before our wave start. We would then slide back into the water and hold onto the dock until the horn started.

 

 

The water was warm and fairly still. The waves were spread out enough that there was minimal congestion (or contact) on the course. Getting to the end of the dock was another matter. This was a temporary floating structure and it bounced around a lot from the waves and having a couple of hundred people on it!

Finally, the horn sounded. I had seen enough from watching the other waves starts (and from watching the practice swim) that I knew that I would be one of the slowest swimmers. There was no point fighting it. I just hung on to the dock for an extra 3 seconds and the rugby scrum was already well ahead of me. I just found my rhythm and didn’t worry about what everyone else was doing. I actually found the swim rather relaxing. One marker buoy after another ticked by. Interestingly, I caught up with someone from the previous wave just before the swim exit (older lady doing the breast stroke). I passed her just as someone from the wave behind us passed me by (and he definitely wasn’t doing the breast stroke!)

They had a ramp and volunteers in place to help us out of the water and into T1.
Swim Split – 41:21 (2:32/100 yd)

 

T1:
I was as disorganized as ever. I was halfway to T1 exit when I realized that I didn’t take off my swim skin. Yeah, it was bad…
T1 Split – 5:30

 

The Bike:


The bike course was completely closed to traffic. Impressive feat since one of the roads was the main access road to Omaha Airport. The course was mostly flat and not the most scenic…of course I had two wheeled missiles disguised as $10,000 tri-bikes flying by my left ear every few seconds, so I really had no time to do any sightseeing. The course had a few small hills…and one monster. Let’s talk about that shall we? Here’s the course elevation map.

It’s an out and back course so we would hit it twice.The front side of the hill is MUCH steeper then the back side, so I got to climb it on the way out. Maybe I should say that I TRIED to climb it. In six years, I have never been forced off of my bike to walk a hill. I’ve come close, but it never happened…until now. I was about a third of the way up when I saw the writing on the wall. I unclipped while I still could. I kept pushing thru another third of that hill (which hill twisted and turned so much that I could never see the top…it just kept going!)

I finally bailed and started walking. The riders on that hill of all ages were in amazing shape since I didn’t see anyone else bail out (RESPECT!!!) As I got to the top of the hill, volunteers were yelling at passing riders “You got this! You’ve concurred this hill!” As I walked up they looked at me and I told them “I didn’t get this, the hill got me!” and they started to laugh. I remounted and got close to 40 mph on the way down. As I kept going, I could feel how badly that hill shredded my legs. They were jello. I had nothing left in them at all. Fortunately, it was flat until the turnaround…which is when I got slammed by the headwind. It would be a much tougher return then I had expected.

The minutes ticked by and I was back at “The Hill”. It is longer but not as steep on this side with a brief flat in the middle. It was still a struggle but I got to the top in granny gear. Then I got to fly down the other side.

Or, more accurately, I rode the brakes all the way down the narrow steep winding strip of pavement as stronger cyclists flew past me within a few inches of collision.

It. Was. Terrifying.

I honestly didn’t think that I would get to the bottom in one piece. Even riding the brakes, I could not get below 15 mph. My bike skills are ok, but I was not up to this challenge. When I got to the bottom, I could not feel my fingers since I had gripped the brakes so hard. After that, just kept battling the small hills and strong headwinds back to T2.

Bike Split – 1:34:36 (15.8 mph)

T2:
Not as embarrassing as T1, but still a mess…
T2 Split – 5:52

 

The Run:


The run course was also closed to traffic. It was a 2 loop out and back with 2 aid stations that we would hit a total of 8 times in 6 miles. By this point, it was getting hot. The sun was high in the sky and there was no shade to be found. Despite liberal use of sunscreen pre-race, in T1 and T2, I still managed a pretty good sunburn. Ice water and ice towels were in plentiful supply. The legs were wobbly for the first mile, but still worked. The pace was slow but steady. Volunteers and spectators were great and helped keep me going. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty but I eventually got to the finish line.

By this point, the traffic on the course had thinned out a lot. I looked around me and I was pretty much all by myself for the run down the red carpet to the finish. The feeling wasn’t quite as overwhelming as the Ironman finishers chute, but it was close. After all, I had been looking forward to this moment for almost a year.

Run Split – 1:14:38 (12:01 min/mile)

Finish Time – 3:41:55

 

Post Race:
I got a bottle of water and my medal and headed off the get some food. The meal was pretty good (chicken salad on ciabatta bun with coleslaw and fruit salad.

After that I decided to face the music and check my results. I knew that I would be at the back of the pack at a local triathlon. Here, only a catastrophe for one of my age-group companions would keep me from last place. It didn’t happen. DLF (Dead Last Finish) in my age group (but not overall). It was expected and I was more then ok with that. I had qualified and gave it my best at one of the most competitive amateur triathlons in the world. Being here was a thrill and the memories will last a lifetime. You can see it on the smile on my face as I crossed the finish line. I still got here. I still finished. I still got the experience. More than I could have dreamed possible 6 years ago, when I was obese and sedentary. It has been a long road, and I’ll take this as a victory.

I headed back to transition and grabbed my gear. The bike could be left there overnight for tomorrow’s sprint triathlon. But I had to haul off the rest of the junk and get ready for tomorrow’s race.

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