Monday, April 2, 2018

2018 Know Your Craft 5K Race Report

This is the third year I've done this race. Last year I was sick with a cold, so this year I was hoping to run a much better time. The race was a week later this year and ended up working out pretty good time wise. One week before Ironman Florida 70.3 which has been my focus the entire offseason.

I've been doing this race because some of my friends do it, it is easy to get to for me, and there is free beer. Like good beer. It benefits Project2Heal that provides labrador retrievers to people with physical and emotional issues.
I arrived before 8am and was able to get a good parking spot on Youngblood. As I've mentioned before the only downside of this race is that there is no parking. The Triple C brewery provides a really good venue for the race otherwise. Their new barrel room and area out front work really well for a race of this size (700+ people).

I walked over to pick up my bib and saw my friends Paul and Shannon with Para-Guide. Para-Guide helps visually impaired people do more physical activities.  Then I went over and got my packet. I hung out for a little bit and then headed back over to the car. It was a little chilly as it was still in the 40's.

I put my bib on my singlet and then went for a warm up run.  I did 2 miles at my normal 8 min warmup pace.  I felt sufficiently warm so then I stripped down and put my shorts and singlet on. I hit a gel, then headed over towards the start. I did some striders and pickups then moseyed over to the front of the start.

Emily did her normal awesome rendition of the National Anthem.  They gave us a countdown and we were off.  I knew the first mile was mostly downhill, so I wanted to make up some time there. I started out pretty quickly.

When we made the turn onto Tryon Street and started uphill, the wind hit us pretty good. It was a little windier than I thought. Still, I hit the the first 1/2 mile at a 5:10/mile pace. I was in the top 5 at this point.  As we continued up Tryon, I definitely slowed some. Before the first mile, a pack of 3 guys passed me. I hit the mile mark in 5:32, and knew the wind had slowed me some at that point.

I tried to push and could see that the guys in front of me weren't pulling away that fast. I really slowed some in the 1/2 mile after the mile mark probably doing about 6:10-6:15 pace. About then we turned south onto the walkway by the light rail tracks. I could feel the wind at my back and I tried increase my turnover. I did speed up to about a 5:50-5:55 pace, but that was only good to give me a 6:06 split.  Killing my overall pace.

Last mile, so I tried to use the wind and push.  My pace was pretty up and down with the elevation.  A guy came chugging by me with a jog stroller and didn't even seem like he was working at all. That was depressing.  Another guy passed me with a half mile to go.

With 1/4 mile to go we make the turn onto Griffith Street, and it's mostly uphill from here. But I was able to push and pass 2 guys there and finish quite strong. I couldn't catch the babyjogger guy.  He beat me by 1.4 seconds. (Watch video of me getting beat by a jog stroller HERE). In hindsight I should have pushed more, as I split a 5:57 in the final mile.

So I came across the line in 18:22. I really thought I could break 18 again like I did 2 years ago.  I think the wind and zero speed work (less than 3 min intervals) probably sunk me.  I stood there with my hands on my knees for a minute or so to catch my breath before I went over and grabbed something to drink. They had some bananas, but I wasn't hungry at all.

I saw Paul and Shannon and talked with them some more. I grabbed my glass pint and headed back toward the car. I put a shirt on and then did a cooldown. I didn't really feel that bad. Not really sore or anything. After a mile, I changed and headed over to the finish to see my place.

I do like these Start2Finish races that (almost) always have a place setup that you can quickly see your placings.  I had hoped to win masters and I did, with a 9th overall place.  Full Results Here.

I saw my old friend Melissa that used to work at Inside Out Sports. We talked for a bit as we waited in the beer line.  I got a Goldenboy and it sure did taste good.  Soon they started the awards and I hung out with Paul as they announced my First Masters.  I got (another) $25 gift card to Omega sports and a cool crisp $20 bill.  Cash money, baby.

I hung out for a bit through the awards and then took off.  5K's are hard. You feel like you redline the entire time. Throw in some wind and hills, and it's a party.  It's a well run race, with free beer, and it was great to see some of my friends.  Now, On to Florida.
The courtyard in front of Triple C's Barrel Room

Thursday, February 15, 2018

2018 Sunbelt Swim Meet Race Report

I hate swimming. There, I said it. Well maybe 'hate' is too strong of a word. I severely dislike swimming. I've said many times that the only reason I swim is because the race starts in the water. Even though I 'severely dislike' swimming, I love my swim group. Joining Mecklenburg Swim Association (MSA) masters 3 years ago, was one of the best decisions I've ever made in triathlon.

My friends at swim keep me coming back. Coach Patty does a great job keeping everyone engaged and encouraging them. Coach Patty has only known a life of competitive swimming, so every year she wants us to sign up for the Sun Belt Swim meet. Now in it's 44th year, this is my 3rd year of doing it.  I like to do some events that are more challenging. Part of that is because I can't be competitive in any of the events. Not one.
My First Sunbelt T-Shirt
On Saturday of this 2 day meet, I decided to just sleep in and not work out.  I had felt pretty tired earlier in the week. I went to the Hornets game Wednesday night, then got up and ran 11 miles Thursday morning. I was just exhausted Friday night (translation: old). I just decided to rest Saturday morning.

I Left about 10:30 am, and parked on the other side of Stonewall Street from the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center.  As I walked up, I saw Aislin who I had been swimming with in the same lane. Not sure why she's in that lane, as she should really move up. Anyways we came in and they had a check in table this year (they didn't last year). This year they had t-shirts if you signed up early enough. So I got my long sleeve t-shirt and headed into the pool area.
New Pool Configuration
I walked around some and talked to a few of the MSA people. Warmups had just started so people were getting in and out of the pool.  They had the lane oriented 90 degrees from last year. Instead of going from left to right from the main stands there were starting on the opposite side of the pool and coming toward the stands.  This gave them 10 lanes at once instead of 8.  They said they had a record number of people sign up.

I didn't do any warmup until 20 min before it closed at noon. I only did one dive, but it was good. My goggles stayed relatively water free.  I had gotten a new pair of goggles for diving and had put them on super duper tight.  Too tight to be comfortable to train, but ok for racing.
Back of T-Shirt (Jerry Clark, Sunbelt Meet Director for 20 years)
Soon the meet started. I signed up for 10 events, 5 on each day. I figured you pay the same entry for 1 event as you do 10 (not including relays). More suffering per dollar!

50 Back 45.23 [Last year 46.39 open, 43.39 relay]
I had a good start. I felt like I was really flying.  I felt like I had a good turn. I came back and hit the wall. Turns out that my 'really flying' is just slow AF.

100 Fly 1:48.69 PR
This was my first time ever doing the 100 Fly, so PR! Thank you, thank you very much.  But, wow that 2nd 50 was really tough. I felt good the first 50. I made good turns, but fly-fly turns are easy. I got the 'piano on the back' syndrome the last 25 and just tried to finish. 2 stroke breathing went out the window and I was sucking oxygen every chance I got.  I finished and crawled out of the pool. I went over to the wall and just leaned against it for a minute. Man, that thing wiped me out! I did get my highest placing of the meet with a 5th.  I just barely missed 4th by 39.38 seconds.
Supa Fly
400 Free Relay 4:58.45 (Me 1:21.04 [1:16.51 relay last year], Rick M., Kevin P, Brad E).
I led off. That, of course, put us in last place. And we stayed there. But what the hell, relays are fun anyways. I tried to go fast, but taking 3-1/2 weeks off in December from swimming really showed here. I got cut on my forearm at work in December. It required 7 stitches, but didn't quite heal right. It took that long to get cleared to go back in the water. Yeah right in the prime time of training for this meet. I guess that gives me a built in excuse, right?

100 Breast 1:41.79 PR
Another fist time event for me.  I kinda had a funky pullout out of the dive, almost did the double DQ kick.  After that it was just breast stroke. Sloooow breast stroke. You try to push, but then you realize that you are still doing the breast stroke.

50 Free 35.04 [34.26 last year]
The splash and dash. I tried to swim as crazy hard as I could. So of course I had a bad turn and almost missed the wall. You're like stroke-stroke-stroke then flip-push, then nothing. Oooooof. This was one where I just wanted to get out of the pool

400 Free Mixed Relay 5:24.82 (Brad, CarolAnn, Jamie, Me no split)
This was fun, not fast, but fun. Lots of cheering for my 'mates. It was a 100 so I felt tired. I swam with CA and Jamie a lot last year so it was cool to do a relay with them. Even if I was the slowest one.
The 400 Free Mixed Dream Team
100 IM 1:32.89 PR [1:33.16 last year]
I like this event. It's fun.  The fly felt easy, well cause you only swim like 15 yards of fly. Good turn but came up a little short on the end of the backstroke. I coasted a little bit before turning to breast.  I tried to push on the free but you're just tired.  I did beat Coach Patty by like 0.20 seconds. So there's that. She wants a rematch next year.

So then I was done for the day. Everyone is getting ready to head out and then Karen says, hold on a second. She breaks out this chocolate peanut butter cake for my birthday. Very rich and heavenly.  Everyone thought it was really good, but it's the kind of cake that you can only have about 1 piece a day.   I took the last couple of pieces home with me.  I left the MCAC about 4pm.
Pairing the cake with peanut butter chocolate stout
The next morning, I left about 7:20 and again parked across the street in the other lot.  I did a real short warmup. I figured that I wasn't going to feel any more ready than I already was.

50 Fly 44.29 [41.06 last year]
This race is actually fun. It's over quick. In the lane next to me was Mark. He is visually impaired. He's been training with the help of Para Guide in the MSA pool. After I made the turn I glanced over and saw that Mark was killing me.  So not only am I DFL, I get beat by blind people. #iheartswimming
Mark (visually impaired), Trista (craft beer impaired), and Me (swimming impaired)
200 IM 3:25.07 PR
Another first time event for me.  Last year was my first 100IM, so I felt like I wanted to step it up a little bit. I mean I'm not going to ever be competitive, so why not do some challenging events? I am glad that fly is first.  When you make that turn and start backstroke, there is some relief. I just wanted to stay relaxed. You really have to focus in this race.  You basically have every turn: fly-fly, fly-back, back-back, back-breast, breast-breast, breast-free, then the free flip turn. I made them all! When you get to free, you're like, OK freestyle, let's do this. But then you're so freaking tired, it is rough. But I finished, and I felt good about it.

200 Free Mixed Relay 2:03.2 (Karen K, Me 33.55 PR, Kirsten M, Steve B)
I got thrown in this relay at the last minute. One guy didn't show up, and then Judd is like, hey how old are you? Yup that'll work.  I should be very grateful, as this was the only event that I participated in that actually beat someone.  Karen and Steve are freakin fast.  I did swim a PR 50, so there's that!
Backstroke start (not me)
100 Back 1:42.62 PR
Another first time race.  Not much to report here, other than I found out that I really don't know how to do a proper backstroke flip turn. I thought I did, then I started watching people in the meet. Then I thought maybe I was taking two strokes instead of the allowed one. So then on the second turn I ended up taking none, and coasted quite a while into the wall. I'm gonna have to work on this for next year.

100 Free 1:19.83 [1:15.69 last year]
Here is where I really realized how much taking 3-1/2 weeks off of swimming in December slowed me down.  High effort, but slow speed.
MSA Crew in Full Cheer Mode (including me in the towel)
500 Free 8:23.23 [8:05.07 last year]
And here we also saw how much slower I was than last year.  Plus I did muchos more events in this year, so I'm sure I was more tired. Then I just raced stupidly: too fast first 100, and then really slowed in middle.  As I approached the final 100 (Meredith was nice enough to be my lap counter) I saw that I was just behind Sarah.  No shame in that, but I couldn't let her beat me.  So then I had a much faster last 100.  Yeah, I'm never doing that stupid race again.
Organizing Relays
There were only a couple of heats of the 500 left, so I grabbed my bag and headed to the locker room.  Showered and dressed and then cheered on the last heat of 500.  The team competition wasn't close this year. We scored a lot more points than last year, but Swim MAC almost doubled their points. If only I hadn't missed those weeks of swimming . . .
The Crew at Unknown Brewing
I went over to Subway at the Metropolitan, and wolfed down a footlong.  Then headed over to meet everyone at Unknown Brewing.  It was a really nice day, so we hung out outside.  Friends were buying me birthday beers, so that was awesome.  We hung out for a while and had some really fun conversations! I really enjoy hanging out with my swim people.  I headed home about 4pm.  Went out for dinner that night with my 11 members of my family to celebrate. I was a great way to cap off Birthday Week.

During the competition on Saturday, I actually thought that I had a chance to beat someone. Anyone. I even eagerly awaited the posting of the results on the wall by the bathroom. I quickly scanned the event and the age groups to see where I placed. Yes, last place in my age group in all 10 individual events that I entered. This is the 3rd straight year. #consistency So next year I'm not worrying about that crap.  I'm just gonna do events I feel like. Ones that are challenging or fun. Why the hell not? DFL for Life, Baby!

Not sure what's going on here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

2018 Joe Davis 10K Race Report

I did the Joe Davis 10K two years ago.  It's a local race that is right near my house, so I wanted to support it.  I really didn't like the course, so I didn't run it last year.  I did come out last year to support my wife running the 10K. The course seemed a lot better, so I thought I would give it a whirl this year. They also have a 5K

It's obviously cooler in January, but this time it was much cooler than usual.  The average low temp in January in Fort Mill is 32 degrees. On this balmy morning it was 11. But it was plus 11, so we had that going for us.  I debated what to wear, but finally went with compression sleeves, shorts, long sleeve t-shirt under my BSR jersey, gloves and head warmer. I considered a short sleeve t-shirt, but decided to err on warmth. Just cause I'm old, I guess.

The race start is 1 mile from my house, and I could take a paved trail all the way there. But considering the temperature, I decided to drive over. I parked at the top of the hill. I jogged around for a bit just to check everything out. At this point, I had long pants and a pullover, as it was pretty freaking cold.

I saw one of my friends, CarolAnn, doing a little warmup as well.  We jogged for a little bit, and I got a good 2 mile warmup in.  I went back to the car to strip down to my race clothes.  I headed back down to the start and did some pickups while everyone was assembling.  They played the national anthem and the Boyd's talked about their brother and Keystone Recovery Center.  We all just kinda huddled and listened, trying to stay warm.

They let the wheelchair people go first. Several people started running as well and had to be called back.  I recognized Ethan, Fort Mill High School's top cross country runner, at the front.  I asked him if he was doing the 5K, and he was. I think I could probably take him in a 10K, but definitely not a 5K.

I put myself near the front as well.  As we took off I felt pretty good.  The first 3/4 of a mile is flat and downhill, so that's nice.  I hit the first mile in 6:07 and was pleased with that, as I felt I wasn't pushing too hard.  Several guys were quite well ahead of me already.  You really couldn't tell who was running the 5K or the 10K at this point.
Heart Rate and Elevation
After that fire 3/4 mile, we're on the paved trail.  We loop around Walter Elisha Park and then head down the trail the takes you Harris Street Park.  Once you get past the big dip just past the Elisha parking lot, you can really zoom down that trail. It's a good 65 foot drop over a 1/2 mile there. I felt smooth through there and then made the turn at the bottom to start back up hill. I split a 6:10 there, as I started the climb.

I wasn't really running with a lot of people. There was one guy at the start that dropped back by 1.5 miles.  Then another guy who dropped back by 2.5 miles. Other than that I was pretty alone.  The climb for mile 3 wasn't as bad as I thought. 90 feet of gain in that mile, but I split a 6:30.  Originally my goal for the entire race was to average 6:30.  So suddenly I'm thinking I can blow that out of the water.
Walter Elisha Park
Pace and Cadence

At about the 2.8 mile mark, the 5K people split off.  At this point, I really can't see anyone at all.  I was truly in no man's land and had no idea what place I was in.  I just tried to keep it smooth.  Just past the 3 mile mark, you go back through the start and begin the second lap.  My miles 4 and 5 were not nearly as fast as on the first lap with a 6:22 and a 6:14.  Definitely wasn't dying and was pleased with the 6:14 for sure.

Now we come to the final mile and the final climb. 100 feet of gain in the last mile. I really tried to push and I was passing a lot of the walkers that were doing the 5K.  I was warm enough that I took my gloves off at that point. I started doing the old math equations in my head, like what do I have to run here in the last 1.2 miles to break 40 minutes.  Confident I had it in the bag, I just relaxed and went.

After really doing a lot of hill repeats in training the last few years, and then still really sucking on running hills in races, I have embarked on a new strategy.  Hills are mental. You wanna run hard up a hill? Run hard and don't be a namby-pamby about it. It's all in your head.

That training strategy seemed to pay off as my second time up that hill was only 0.8 seconds slower than the first time.  As I got to the top, I just tried to push the final 1/2 mile to the finish.  I felt good, not great, but still kept the turnover going.  The course is a little short at 6.1 instead of 6.2 miles. The last 0.1 mile I had a 5:46 avg pace, so pretty good finish.

Right after I crossed the finish line, a woman asked my bib number. I think she was with the timing crew.  I felt pretty warm at the finish, and walked around some. I wasn't really hungry and didn't grab any food. I talked with some of the tri guys Keith (who won the 5K) and Matt from Fort Mill. I did grab some coffee and that tasted really good. I just hung out and talked for a while. Being a local race, I knew quite a few people there.

I saw CarolAnn finish and talked to her and her husband.  Then they announced there would be no awards because the computers were all frozen up.  That was a new one on me.  They did announce the top overall male and female for both races. Not top 3, just the overall winner for each.  So I just headed home to warm up.
3rd Overall Twinsies

They did have the results posted that afternoon.  That's when I found out I was 3rd Overall.  I gotta say I didn't think I could hold that pace for the entire race.  Maybe that 2 months I took off after Chattanooga Worlds to heal my hamstring actually did some good. Maybe letting my body recover some was a good thing.  Anyways, glad to support a local race, especially one that is on trails and roads that I run every week. Always happy to make the Overall Podium, because, well, #iheartpodiums
Me in the middle, snuggly