Friday, January 31, 2014


As a lot of triathletes, a big focus of mine in the "offseason" is on swimming.  It is especially true since I am slightly faster than a 59 year old Grandma.  (It's true, she swims right beside me in the next lane at the Masters group swim).  Also, a lot of mornings when it is 16 degrees outside or 34 degrees and raining (my fav!) it is just easier to go to the pool and swim.

So here I am plodding along this January, getting some "volume" in.  That's in quotes because volume is all relative.  Pretty sure most of my workouts would only qualify as a 'warmup' for Jenny.  Last year I worked on technique.  It still stinks, but it's a lot better than last year.  I was actually afraid to throw some volume in there because my technique was so bad.  A lot of real swimmers (affectionately known as 'fish' in the tri community) will tell you to just swim more.  Volume, volume, and more volume.  A lot of times they do not quite realize how incredibly awful someone's form could be.  So bad to the point that your shoulders hurt (and not in a good way) when you swim too much.

I Kinda Felt Like This
So this January I jumped in with both feet as much as I could.  I set personal bests for a single workout yardage, weekly yardage, and monthly yardage.  I actually got the swim bug a little bit and looked forward to going to the pool everyday.  I swam every 5 days in a row one week (and 8 out 10 days).  This barely qualifies as news to a fish, but we're talking about me. I'm the slowest swimmer in the History of Ironman Triathlon ever to qualify for a World Championship. (Look it up.)

Garmin Don't Lie (don't judge the time, people)

My highlight workout of the month was on my birthday.  I've always heard people talk about birthday workouts, so I decided to do one.  It may have been the first time I actually looked forward to a swim workout.  Seriously, like for 2 weeks I was looking forward to it.  I swam 42 x 100's in the pool that morning. My longest single workout to date.  It was kind rough in the middle, almost more of a mental thing than physical.  Especially when you're on number 28.  You're tired and you're thinking, man I'm not even in the 30's yet!  But it felt awesome when I was done.  The significance of 4,200 yards is not lost on me as it is 2.4 miles.  Well, technically 4,224 yards is 2.4 miles, but I'm gonna round 2.386 miles up to 2.4 (ok we're kicking the engineer off the blog for a while, sorry about that).

Ah yes, 2.4 miles.  The Ironman swim distance.  It is what scares me come September 28th.  It is the biggest reason why I am doing the 2.4 Mile OWS race in Chattanooga in May. #faceyourfears

Hopefully Not.

The week of January 6th, I just kinda got the swimming bug.  I just felt like swimming every (week) day.  I logged 16,150 yards.  It definitely could have been more, but the Masters workout on Wednesday was only 2,350 yards.  So I still averaged 3,230 yards every time I jumped in the pool.  My previous high week was 15K.

So, overall, for the month of January, I logged 64,150 yards.  That blows away my previous monthy high of 50,100 yards.  For the month I averaged 3,376 yards each swim.  Feels good to get a good solid month in, and I still look forward to swimming.  I do believe the Masters swims have helped.  Anyways, my efforts got a "thumbs up" from this guy:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Racing Just to Finish

As regular readers of my blog know (ok, let's just say I do have regular readers, and leave it at that), I am signed up for my first Full Ironman distance triathlon in 2014.  It's been posted on the ST message boards that for your first full, your goal should be to just finish.  Sounds reasonable.  Smart even.  I just don't think I can do it.

Oh I have no doubt that I can finish.  Quite honestly, with the fitness level that I was at last year, I'm sure I could have swam 2.4 miles, then biked 112 miles, and then ran 26 miles and 385 yards in 17 hours.  What I can't do is race just to finish.  I've never done it.  I have never toed the starting line at a race where I thought in my head: My goal today is to just finish.  This goes back to the beginning of my racing.  Back when I was 12 years old and my dad took me to run my first 5K.  Even the rest of the way through grade school, college and decades later.  (Yeah, I'm that old.)

Case in point: New Years Day 2013.  My wife and I did a fun trail race here in Fort Mill.  She did the 5K, I did the 13K (year 2013, get it?).  There were only 70 people in the 13K.  It was quite laid back, and most of the people were there for the beer.  There were no awards.  No prizes.  No ceremony.  So taking that all in, I had a strategy and mapped out exactly what I needed to do to win.  I executed the plan, won the race, grabbed a beer, and went home.

Some people are just wired differently.  I don't have a problem with people who just race to finish.  In fact I think it's great when anyone does a race.  That includes anything from a 5K to a 140.6.  I like seeing people participate instead of staying on the sidelines and telling me how crazy I am.   It's just that racing to finish is something that I can't do.  Maybe I'm in the minority according to a Wall Street Journal article. With the explosion of the all the color runs, glow runs, mud runs, and obstacle races, I may be outnumbered.  And that's fine.  For me, personally, I don't see the point.  Maybe I'm too competitive, but I don't think so.

On ST one time Jordan Rapp was talking about racing.  He's like (and I'm severely paraphrasing here):  "I may think you're a good guy, hell I might even want to go drink beers with you after the race.  But when the race starts, I want to destroy you.  That's racing."  I have noticed that some triathletes don't have that killer mentality.  Maybe it's something I've learned because I've done so many running races over the years.  In most races in high school and college your time didn't matter nearly as much as your place.

So my goal for Ironman Chattanooga is not to "just finish".  My goal is to destroy every male out there aged 40 to 44.  Hopefully I'll position myself in the middle of the pack coming out of the water.  I plan to "bike angry".  On the run I'll use the hills to my advantage.  Is it overambitious?  Surely it is.  Am I an idiot?  Probably. (My wife would say Definitely.)  I just don't know any other way to race.

As the great Steve Prefontaine said "To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift".  At the end of the day, if I don't put it all out there, I will regret it.  That's just how I roll.  So look for me at the finish line.  I'll either be celebrating or in the med tent.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ring in the New Year Race Report

This is the second year in a row, I've run a New Year's Day Race.  This year I opted for the shorter distance as I hadn't logged many miles in December.  As last year, this was also a trail race, but at a different venue.  The Rock Hill Striders put on the "Ring in the New Year" 5K and 14K trail runs at Anne Springs Close Greenway.  I used to run the trails out in the Greenway a lot, but not as much anymore.  Morning runs in the dark are a wee bit difficult on the trails for me these days.

PreRace: Me, Kary, Jon, Beth, Ann, Thomas, and Ransom (Reece with the Photobomb)
We had a good group with us as a couple of friends that ran the Kiawah Half Marathon this past December with my wife were on hand.  So three kids of one of the ladies and my eldest son also ran the 5K.  It's a pretty low key race.

Rush Pavilion for Check in and Post Race
The cost was only $14.  No T-Shirt, but it was very well organized. 14K started at 10am and we started 15 minutes later.  The course was excellently marked with volunteers at every turn that might possibly give you trouble.  We got a few instructions and then the gun went off.

Satellite Map
There were 3 water crossings that you could use a bridge on but took more time. I opted for the bridge on all 3 crossings.  I loss a good bit of time in the first mile with 2 crossings, but quickly made it up.  The water looked pretty cold and I didn't want this to happen:
Are we having fun yet?
I just hung with the leader for the first couple of miles.  I kept hearing this jingling behind us, like Santa was making a New Year's day delivery.  After a while I remembered that they had a table with free bells so you could run "Ringing in the New Year" the whole way.

Bells to wrap around your waist or whatever
So then another guy caught up with us around 2 miles and pushed the pace a little bit.  I just hung on his shoulder.  He thought I wanted to pass him, but I told him "You're good!" as I was content to sit in his hip pocket until we made it to the other side of the lake.

Not exactly his hip pocket, but close enough
Once we made it to the far side of the lake there was a little clearing and a mini causeway to get across.  I told greeny that we only had a 1/2 mile to go and it was time to take off.  He mumbled something, but didn't really go with me.

I took off hard that next 1/4 mile and dropped him pretty quickly.  Then it was time to hang on.  I definitely wasn't in the running shape I was a year ago.  Plus I had gotten up early that morning and did an easy 20 miler outside on my bike.  It was kinda like a warm up.  Yeah.  I rode my bike before a race.  But I really like riding and I knew I wouldn't be able to ride the rest of the day.  I wanted start the new year off right, ya know?

I didn't exactly feel awesome the last 5 minutes of the race, but I wasn't looking for anything here but the Win.  And I did get that.  Full results here.

So the results here are pretty old school.  No timing chip on your ankle or integrated into the bib.  Just plain old hit the button when someone crosses the finish line and tear the bottom off their race number.

Old School Timing
Like I said, what do you want for $14?  Well, I'll tell ya', I was pleased with the post-race food, though.  Cheese and Crackers, bagels with cream cheese, potato chips, pretzels.
Post Race Spread
They even had marshmallows and a warm fire going.

They did have awards.  Also if you got an award you got to pick a bag or an old race t-shirt from one of the other races that the Rock Hill Striders put on (Pumpkin Run or Greenway Trail Half Marathon).

In keeping with the "Ring in the New Year" theme, the awards were bells.  I liked it because it was different and I already have almost any kind of award you can think of (wait, did that sound egotistical, or just conceited?).  Our Group came away with quite the haul.  The boys swept the 14 and under age group and Ann won the girls 14 and under age group.

Ring your Bell!
We had a lot of fun at this race.  Next year I may try and get in shape to do the 15K.  I like these trails at the Greenway better than Baxter as the Greenway's are more established and little bit easier for this old man to run.  So just like in 2013, One race = one win.  Good way to start the year!