What I’ve been up to

Training leading up to the Pocnon’s has been going just ok. My swim was really starting to take some steps back so I had another swim session with my coach and worked out some flaws and it seems like things are back to normal again.

Every since Luray I’ve had some nagging knee issues that have limited  my running a bit. But when I’ve been running the paces have been great and I’ve been issue free for a few days now so hopefully that is in the past. The bike has been mixed as well. I’ve been doing a lot of LONG hilly rides out at Skyline drive to get ready for the hills at the race. The climbing and distance has gotten easier each week but I’ve been having trouble getting to the intensity levels called for in the second half of the ride each week.

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But with this Sunday’s long ride done it’s time to start tapering down for race week.

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Around the house I’ve been doing some decorating. I hung up some pictures in the basement. I’ve decided to go with a sports theme and have all my baseball stuff behind the TV.

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I hung up a lot of my medals over the sofa.

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And then along the wall I have my first marathon, first triathlon,

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first half ironman, and first Age Group win at a race.

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And my bike set up on the computrainer where it stays during the week

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I’ve also been doing some cooking. It’s a good thing it’s still triathlon season because once I realized how easy it is to make homemade ice cream I’ve had a constant supply ready to go.

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With the cooler weather this week I was going to try pumpkin ice cream out of my Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream book. But then I realized I didn’t have nutmeg but decided I would try anyway.

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But more of a problem was my lack of can opener to get the pumpkin out. So improvised and went with peanut butter ice cream with some chocolate swirl and it turned out great.

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I was also happy with some buffalo chicken burgers and old bay fries I made last week.

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Pictures from Luray

Here are some pictures from the race. You can find my race report: here

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getting the bike ready in the morning

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getting ready for the start of the swim

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I’m somewhere out there

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finishing the swim

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out on the bike

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getting ready to finish climbing up a big hill on the course.

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end of the bike

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coming back to the transition area at the lake

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starting the run

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out on the course

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running so fast there is no time to focus

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walking around to cool-down after the finish

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demolishing an ice cream while waiting for the awards to start

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getting my award

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A nice engraved wine glass

Making a Dent

A couple weekends ago I had my long 5 hour ride out on Skyline Drive which I was suppose to follow up with biggest training week of the Poconos build, getting close to 20 hours. But by Thursday it was clear the long ride had a big impact on me and I hadn’t really recovered based on how I was feeling and the times for my workouts during the week.

After talking with the coach we did some schedule rearranging and last weekend turned into a recovery weekend with only a short run and bike on Saturday/Sunday and this weekend turned into the planned long ride/run. This worked out well for a couple of reasons, I felt a little bit of knee discomfort on my run Thursday and this gave me some extra time to recover and make sure I didn’t wind up with an injury. And getting out for a long ride with the impending hurricane wasn’t really much of an option.

With less then 2 hours of workouts for each day this gave me plenty of time to make a dent in unpacking and putting things away at the new house. I spent most of Saturday morning hanging my new TV on the wall and installing some shelves. This was more of a pain then I thought it was going to be but I’m happy with how it turned out.

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I also got a bookcase for the office and finished unpacking a few of those boxes. Now I just need to find/buy a new desk to put in there.

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I’ve gotten everything unpacked but now my place looks really empty so it’s time to do some decorating. I know what pictures I want to hang in the guest room it’s just a matter of printing them out and putting them in the frames.

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For the basement I’m going to go with a sports/awards theme and have some ideas for that.

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For the living room I was thinking about putting up a couple of framed bike posters behind the sofa.

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for my bedroom and the dinning room I’m not really sure what I want to do so I need to think about that a little.

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Long Day on Skyline

With my next big race being the Poconos 70.3 I have been doing most of my long rides at Skyline drive and today was the longest ride I’ve ever done, coming in just short of 5 hours.

Like usual I was out there early to try and beat the heat and potential for afternoon storms but mainly to be done before it gets too crowded on the roads.

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It was a beautiful morning out and perfect for riding. It was such a nice day out some wildlife decided to join me.

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Coming down one of the descents around mile 17 I came around a corner to see two deer standing in the middle of the road. Luckily I was riding with hands near the brakes instead of the aerobars and I was able to slow down and they ran off.

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I continued climbing and descending until I made to the Skyland rest station which happens to be the highest point on skyline drive.

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And then it was time to turn around. On the way back it started getting windy and the bad storms that were forecast for the afternoon loomed in the distance. This picture doesn’t do it justice because it looked nasty out.

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Luckily it only started to drizzle the last 3 miles of my ride and then started raining and lighting after I had already packed up the car. I was suppose to get in a run but didn’t feel safe running on the road given the weather so I decided to bail on that.

Next weeks ride calls for an extra 8 miles before I turn around so it’s looking like it might be a close to 6 hour ride. 

Luray Olympic Distance 2011 Race report

I’ll update with some pictures later this week but here’s how the race went.

Overall (2:23:01, 2nd AG, 20th Overall)

I have some mixed feelings about my first race since Eagleman. I’m very happy with my overall and age group place and was 10 minutes faster than the last time I did this race and that was a wetsuit swim. But I’m not happy with how my swimming has been lately and as noted by the 99th overall place compared to 19th and 16th on the run and bike.

Swim (29:30, 11th AG, 99th Overall)

The water was 78.5F in the morning so it missed the wetsuit cutoff by .5F so I was expecting a slower time but not this slow. I don’t think I took any bad lines so I didn’t add much extra distance to the course, no excuses I just didn’t have a good swim. I know courses are inaccurate so comparing the time might not be the best way to go but my placing is far behind where I need it to be.

The course was unique because it wasn’t a simple triangle or square but a combination of the two to get the total distance in without having to make loops around the lake. It seemed complicated when first looking at  because they didn’t use the traditional yellow = turn buoy but once you realized what you were suppose to do it was easy to navigate and defiantly help reduce congestion in the water which would have been caused by a two loop course.

T1 (1:47, 7th AG, 62nd Overall)

A little bit slow since I had some trouble getting on my heart rate strap and needed to put my shirt on since I didn’t feel like doing the whole race shirtless like some people did.

Bike (1:10:51, 2nd AG, 19th Overall)

This was a great bike for me, I nailed my race plan heart rates almost to the number and my watts looked great as well. I was over 22mph which I’m very happy with for such a hilly course.

The course was an out section with two loops and then back to the lake. I thought it was a challenging course and enjoyed the descents and climbs. It was nothing like the rides I have been doing out on Skyline drive but was a nice change from the pancake flat Eagleman course at my last race.

I did have a little adventure on the first loop, I over-shifted going up to my big ring in front and dropped the chain. I didn’t freak out and was able to avert a disaster and downshift to get the chain back on without having to stop and fix it. The second loop was more good riding but it got crowded because I was catching up to people in later waves and people still on their first loop. Some people had issues staying to the right and it was a lot of “on your left” but it wasn’t too much of a hassle. The last 5 miles back to the lake were mostly empty and fast until the little climb to the ridge the lake sits on and about 26 miles later I was ready to start the run.

T2 (0:52, 3rd AG, 16th Overall)

Another quick T2 with a successful flying dismount.

Run (40:03, 2nd AG, 16th Overall)

I just missed a sub-40 10k, I’m very happy with this time but it could have been even better.

I got out of transition and started running and felt great going downhill in the first half mile with a low heart rate and was flying along. Then I tried to up the pace and get my heart rate to where it was suppose to be and felt the onset of stomach cramps coming so I backed off and it felt better.

The rest of my run was like this, trying to up the effort feeling cramps coming on and then needing to back off. About ¾ of a mile from the finish I tried to up the effort and trying to ignore the cramping feeling and was rewarded with a cramp in my hamstring but I was able to run through it and loosened up. After that I just backed off the effort and brought it to the finish.

Post race

I stuck around to get some awards and it was a nice had engraved wine glass that goes great with my bottle of wine from Lake Anna earlier this year.

Overdue Update

I haven’t updated the blog since Eagleman. On the triathlon front I decided to regroup from the Eagleman disappointment and did not do any races in July. My next race is the Luray Olympic Distance Triathlon in the middle of August.

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I’m doing the Olympic distance in my build up to the final “A” race for the year, the Poconos 70.3 the first week of October. Poconos is about as different from Eagleman as possible. The race takes place in Strousburg PA and is a hilly course so most of July I have been doing my long bike rides at Skyline drive in Front Royal VA. The weather is also extreme opposites, the average temp is in the 50s/60s and might be in the 40s at the start of the swim.

IronMan Pocono Mountains

Getting out to Skyline is a bit of hike but is great riding with tons of climbing that I can’t get riding close to home.

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Skyline is a 100 + mile park road that runs along a mountain ridge, I think it’s the blue ridge mountains. It’s nice for riding because there are no stop signs or lights, it’s just constant riding.

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It makes for some awesome views while riding and I get out there early in the morning to be done before it gets too hot or crowded which makes for some good wildlife sighting. In my trips I have seen a black bear and cub about 20 yards off the road. But the most interesting was a buck that was in the other lane of the road and decided he didn’t want to move when I was going by.

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And on a personal front the big news is I’ve finally taken the plunge and bought a townhouse. I go to closing on the July 29th and will move in the 8th.

Eagleman 2011

This was my third, and what will be my last time at Eagleman. This was my most disappointing race and first Did Not Finish (DNF) of any race I’ve done. I think I’ve decided that I don’t race well in the extreme heat/humid so why keep doing it when I have plenty of other races in cooler weather to choose from?

Swim (40:00)

The swim was a non-event. It was a non wetsuit swim so I wasn’t expecting a low 30s swim but thought I might have been a few minutes faster, but all in all not to bad. I was 3 minutes faster then last years also non wetsuit swim, but it’s hard to compare times since it’s a river swim with varying current and chop. But I moved up a few places overall and in the AG compared to last year so the swim is getting better.

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The start had some contact and pushing but settled down quickly and I took a good line around to the first turn buoy. The water was very calm this year without much chop and I didn’t have any trouble sighting. After the first turn I started catching up to stranglers from the earlier waves and had to do some weaving but it wasn’t to bad.

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One thing about this year was the water was very shallow. In fact if you really wanted to you could have walked in the last leg of course. I choose to swim in most of the way and only start walking about 20 yards from the finish.

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T1 

Was quick without having to worry about getting a wetsuit off and I was on my way.

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Bike (2:29)

The bike was what I expected. I had three section according to my race plan. The first section was 10 mile to get the HR back down after the swim and settle into a good rhythm. This section went well and I was right on plan and average 22 mph.

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The next and longest section was a bump up in HR for the next 30 miles. I was trucking along for this section still feeling great and average 23.4 mph for the this section.

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The last part was another bump in HR for the last 16 miles. This section didn’t go as well as I couldn’t sustain the higher HR but was only a couple of BPMs below where I should be so I wasn’t to concerned. The speed dropped a bit down to 22.2 mph but that was more a result of riding into a headwind during a long stretch and being on some bumpier roads.

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What I’m more interested in is the drop of 30 watts average power during this section. I have noticed a lot of drift in the power #s during my longer training rides and I think something might be wrong with my powertap or could be an actual drop-off in power, but I find it hard to believe I averaged over 22mph on only 206 watts.

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T2

In and out quickly with no issues

Run

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This is where it all fell apart. On the bike I followed my nutrition plan just like I have been doing on my long rides and I’ve never had issues in the past. But I was a little worried how the run was going to turn out because around mile 50 I got a little cramp in my foot while biking but it managed to work itself out.

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The run started with heavy legs as expected but I started moving along at just under an 8 minute pace which was where I wanted to be at this point. I got through the first two miles fine and was starting to feel better until getting near the mile 2 aid station when my legs started to feel really tight in my hamstrings and both sides of my knees (IT band?).

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I slowed down to pick up some water and my legs locked up and cramped really badly on me. Remembering my med tent adventure from last year this had me really worried. I grabbed a banana and some Gatorade and kept walking for 2-3 minutes and my legs finally loosened up so I could start “running” again but now my stomach was mess. I made it two more miles before my stomach was on the verge of revolting and starting to cramp. My legs didn’t feel too bad and my HR wasn’t out of control but my stomach just wouldn’t let me run. I was reduced to running until my stomach wouldn’t let me and then walking until I could start running again. I did this until about 8 when my stomach just wouldn’t let me run anymore. I walked for the next 2 miles but I started to feel some cramps in my calves coming on so I made the decision to drop out of the race and end my day.

Post Race

Obviously I’m very disappointed in my race. I’ve done a number of 4 hour rides with race intensity for the last hour this spring and hopped off the bike to run sub 7 min per paces without feeling wiped out so I know I was in great shape for this race. It’s just tough that my body decided to quit on me today. This was especially disappointing because my run has been the most improved and consistent part of my races so far this year; I got off the bike in 15th place in my age group and really thought I was capable of running my way into the top 10. 

But after my med tent trip last year and disappointing race this year I think I have finally learned my lesson that I don’t race well in the heat and humidity and will not be back at Eagleman next year. I’m leaning towards doing Mooseman or maybe another race. I’m also going to stay away from heat and go to the other weather extreme and do what is sure to be a cold race at Ironman Poconos this October.