Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chisago Lakes Half Iron-man

Well this post should be one of my longer ones, considering how new this experience was to me and how I would like to remember it. Also I received feedback saying my blog read like a foreigner had written it, so this attempt I will try out my good old American Engrish.
Things kind of started out with Tavis and Shanna signing up for the Sprint portion of this race pretty early on and the summer, and me not quite sure if my bike would be in riding condition, I held off registering until the last day (expensive as a mo). Jeremy had also signed up for the half and we decided to go up there together. We slept at his house in Stillwater the day before after a little bit of car trouble and a tow from Crystal out to his house.

Arriving at the site and check-in was pretty surprising seeing the people rolling their bikes to the equipment check in. It was actually intimidating seeing how nice their bikes were and fearing how fast they may be, but it was pretty comical to roll my bike up to my slot (774) and put together my equipment. Once organizing my backpack that I planned on carrying on the bike,I went over and talked with Jeremy for a bit. I was walking around in my spandex which I would be swimming in shortly. To my surprise, pretty much everyone had wetsuits which supposedly takes a good chunk of time off your swim. As I was standing in my little spankys waiting for my heat (16 and they were two minutes apart) I seen Tav and Shanna waiting across the beach for their race. We spent a little time talking together and then a few minutes before my heat was up I hurried over to the small line left of people waiting to hit the water. There was fog over the lake so we only could see the first few buoys before they disappeared into the middle of the lake. This definitely added more mystery to the longest distance swim I was about to do.
When it was our turn to get into the water, I was very ready after sitting in the cold morning air with just my spandex for almost an hour. The water was very warm due to the super hot week we had earlier and we slowly got into our swimming strokes. The first couple minutes, I was shocked by how effortless the swim felt. If I could have continued at that comfort level, the swim would have been very enjoyable but of course things had to change. Swimming with others around wasn't as bad as I had imagined. Initially, I pictured myself getting kicked and slapped all over the place, but people swim pretty conservative when they are out for 1.2 miles I guess. Started to get out of breath probably half way out to the turn around point and stuck my head up and heard another guy ask "is this the turn-around point?". This got me very excited thinking that we were halfway done but after I continued swimming to the real turn-around point, I think he was just joking to the lifeguard. :( Once reaching the turnaround point, I checked my watch and seen 00:00:00 and think I swore underwater realizing that I didn't hit the start button once getting in the water. At that point, I just figured I'd hit it at the start of the bike. Swimming back to the shore, I was super excited to just get out of the water and do something else besides clumsily swim through the water anymore. I remember at probably the 3/4 mark of the swim hearing the announcer on the shore and that giving me some energy to get my butt there quicker. Finally, finally, finally reaching the shoreline I was very happy to be done with the first leg of the triathlon. Breathing pretty hard as I got out of the water, I ran up to the transition area even attempting to pass a few people to make up for my poor swim performance. I dried off my legs and threw my shoes on socks on, put a shirt on, put my strap backpack that contained my 2 waterbottles, 2 ClifBars and a few gels and I was on my way.

Knowing there was 56 miles ahead of me, I knew it would be stupid to start out fast, but I couldn't resist trying to pass people in the first few miles. I remember looking at mile marker number 3 and being seriously worried what I would feel like at 20 miles, nontheless 56 if I made it there. A few more miles after seeing mile 3, I decided to eat a ClifBar and down some Accelerade Jeremy had graciously hooked me up with. It felt good to get some calories in me and thought it was time to try and get in a rhythm since there was still 50ish miles left. From the start, I was able to pass many bikers because of starting in the last heat of the race. This meant that all the slower people would be trailing on the bike course, and even more on the run later which kind of gave me a false sense of accomplishment. Contiuing on the bike, I was just hoping that nothing would happen to my tires not being able to fix them, or also my chain that had fallen on 3 times earlier on in the week. It felt pretty funny to be riding with my oldies bike compared to all other peoples expensive looking things. Although I can't think of how I could be more happy knowing I was passing people who's front tire cost more than my entire triathlon equipment. This thought was what continued to push me on the bike and want to pass more people. It was kind of tricky to keep a steady pace because the Sprint Tri was also on the same course and those guys were flying. I ended up hooking up with a few guys who were throwing down a pretty good pace until we separated into respective courses. I noticed myself waiting and anticipating the turns which took the monotony out of going along the loooong straight roads. Also I feel that most of the bikers were timid going around them, so I made sure to throw down even harder on then. It was funny receiving comments from people that took the time to actually say something about my goofy presence on the course.  One guy asked me while I had been fooling around in my draw-string backpack if I had my lunch inside. I thought it was funny just because I had been keeping up with him riding no hands as he was in arrow position with his fancy helmet. It was nice getting waterbottles and gatorade from the volunteers but without having much room in the backpack I would just slam whatever I was able to grab and then get back to pounding the peddles. The miles went by pretty slow and I remember just waiting to get to the 28 mile marker and be able to think that I was halfway done. As I got closer to the finish, I found myself to keep putting the remaining miles left in marathon terms, for example, I remember at 40 miles thinking that there was just a marathon left. I'm not quiet sure if this was helpful or not. Getting even closer now, I began getting worried how I would be able to run after completely frying my legs and trying to show off to all these people on fancy equipment. Putting blind faith into my running endurance, I continued to burn what energy I had left for the remaining miles of the bike. It was awesome coming out a tunnel at the end of the bike course and seeing Tav and Shanna cheering me on. T-bob said it was pretty funny seeing me come around the corner with a chicks helmet, a bike from the 80's, a backpack, and wearing tennis shoes and makes me happy that my dysfunctionalness could bring smiles to others. I wouldn't have it any other way actually.

After hopping off the bike, emptying out my backpack to take the things that would help me out on the run, talking with Tav a bit about the race earlier, I started heading out for the run. Accidentally, I started running the wrong way, but quickly turned back to the run exit end of the transition. It was super exciting seeing Tav and Shanna and the bike transition and they definitely helped bring out some energy that I didn't know I had left. I remember Tav saying something about how this was my part of the race, and knowing that this was the part of the race I was most comfortable with, I tried to not think about what I had done earlier and just head out and do the part I had been thinking about 95% of the previous 3 or so hours. Jokingly, I told Tav I was gonna get sub 1:30 as I headed out, thinking that it would be impossible to get considering how tired my legs had been. It definitely took some time to switch my "biking legs" back over to legs that felt comfortable running again. Even at the start, I was surprised at how many people I was passing. It felt like I was fishing with dynamite, reeling them in by the dozens mile after mile. Again this is largely attributed to starting off in the last heat, but heck I was enjoying it still. Mile 1 and 2 I remember seeing 6 and 12 minutes on my watch and I wasn't sure how this was happening. I figured I better try and slow down before I burn the only energy left up in my legs that was there. Around mile 3 or 4 I seen Cody Schultz pass by me and I couldn't believe the caliber of people that had passed by me just before him. Nice work! Jeremy would also pass me not much after Cody did. Also, it was pretty surprising to see how fast the miles went by on the run. In some ways, it felt like they went by even faster on the run than bike which is pretty odd. I think just being comfortable running and knowing that I was capable of the distance help keep me relaxed. The sun had come out for this portion of the race and the heat from the sun started to beat down pretty hard. The aid-stations were helpful cooloff spots always dumping a couple cups of water on the head. People also had set up their sprinklers right at the edge of their driveways so that we could run right through it(thankyou!). My pace started to slow down quite a bit around mile 11 as I didn't have much energy left. I was too worried to try and stomach anymore gels so I just stuck with gatorade at the aidstations. It was pretty relieving getting the finish line. Post race food was super good and the sun was shining. Hmm

After race went to Famous Daves for some ribs and beer.mmMm

I'm not super sure why I write these post-race reports. Mainly, I think because I look back at old races on Athlinks and almost forgot everything that happened at the event. Pretty boring typing it out though and I def struggle at writing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Voyager Marathon-Duluth

Went up to Duluth this weekend to run the Voyager Trail Marathon. This event was set up to raise money for the Voyager Ultra 50mile race which is two weeks later. Was able to run this for $10 committing to volunteer at the Ultra. What a deal! That's how much these events should be costing. Only thing that has held me away from Tris so far(although might be doing Chisago Lakes half-ironman this weekend).
Drove up with Kayla and got iPod hookup so we could jam the whole way up. Stayed at Kyle's house and got little Ceasar's pizza, icecream and beer the night before. Watched Harry Potter Deathly Hallows pt 1 and ended up going to sleep around 1am. Woke up just before alarm went off and got ready. Weather wasn't too bad, although a little humid.
Felt like was running this race on a whim, without having a watch, gels, or any idea of where the course went and what it was like. Seen Brian P. at the start, watching a buddy of his and had come up to do some training runs.
Was fun starting out not worrying about pace and mile splits. Just kind of guess what kind of pace I could hold based on what the runners around me looked like.(kinda shallow?) Trails started out not too bad and was taking it super slow on the hills knowing how much they can burn you out early. Tried to keep pace down because Chris Lundstrom who wrote my 50mile training plan specifically wrote "TRAINING run" on the notes for this race. Was nice to keep HR down more than usual and just take deep breaths and relax. Was cool to run right through the Spirit Mountain ski resort that I had gone to earlier on in the year for snowboarding for the first time. Nothing too excited until was gunning it down a pretty steap hill with legs spinning quick until my left shoe got caught in the muddy pit and the bottom of the hill and ended up sticking in place while my momentum keep me rolling and was not able to stop left foot from squishing into the muddy mess. Had to put shoe on over mud-filled sock which felt pretty nasty but couldn't help but laugh over it. The more I do these runs, the more I realize that the unexpected things are the things I actually look forward to and make these events what they are.
The course had 6 aid-stations with little goodies at them. Had a few pretzels at each one. Hardest part of the race was running through the powerline sections of these giant hills. Was pretty hilarious to see a monsterous hill ahead of us and being pretty worried, only to find out that there was a huge dip in the land right ahead of us which made the hill almost double in size. Hiked alot of the hills and calfs would be on fire at the top. Heartrate would spike quite a bit during these climbs but felt like the legs would get a semi-break from the quicker cadence of the flatter sections. Was an aid-station handing out popsicles, frozen grapes and ice right after the powerline section which was rejuvenating. Was about a 3/4 mile stretch of bike trail path that we ran after that hilly mess which gave me a chance to stretch the legs out again and gain some ground on the others. (makes me wonder if I'm more of a road-runner than trail-runner) Caught a guy who was doing a funky climbing style on hills. He would almost shuffle sideways and I asked what kind of climbing style that was. He said that it was a style he adopted a few years back after reading about how it takes stress of the same muscles and activates the lateral gastrocs and other muscles that aren't used as much while doing the same running style. Tried keeping up with him in some other climbs only to get burnt out and falling back. Ended up catching him in another straightaway though. Ran with a few other guys here and there but also had some stretches of trails where I was running solo for over a half hour. Got to final aid station and was told there was just a 5k left. Was super excited to hear that and decided to start trying to catch some people. The surroundings were just insane and I remember running across a rope bridge in those last few miles and just screaming like an animal. There was rapids rushing down on either side and ahh man, gotta make it back to the spot sometime. Heard the last 5k was super technical and I got a little big headed running the first 10 minutes of it thinking this wasn't bad at all. Felt like running the the BW's trails with the rapids on our left. Trail seemed to get more technical as it went on and found myself crawling down rock ledges and wondering if this was the actual path. Wish I could have been a volunteer and sat out and watched some people maneuver through some of those last few sections.(kinda sadistic, I know) Finished on a bike path and was sure nice to be done with those last few miles. Met up with Kayla and Kyle right after and drove back to D-town.  Of course had to eat at Burrito Union after. Almost no cramping though which is a good sign!