Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Now for the Final Installement of Erich's Odyssey. The races has come and gone, and this is what he had to say.
Victoria International Half Iron Race Report.
"When I run by/lap you I am going to smack you as hard as I can on the ass" -Vincent Lavallee, raceday
[For clarification, the run is 2 laps of a 10km loop.]
Well, I will spare you the suspense and tell you that yes, I did indeed finish (Elspeth!). It was actually really fun, despite some, let's just say discomfort on the run. Pat and Vince made the trip over too, and Derek competed despite being sick, so it was a good time all-round. Without further ado:
5am, race day: The alarm comes awfully soon. On the run course there will be a "special needs" table where we can place any drink we want to before hand. My plan: pour a beer into a water bottle and start drinking it around 15km into the run to help take the edge off. This is my special need. Unfortunately in our haste I completely forget the beer.
6am: I get some last minute tips from my friends. Triathlon is all about looking good I learn (Note to self: keep doing what you're doing then:). I tape 6 power gels to my bike. There will be no bonking today. You don't wanna end up looking like that drunken n00bstick Julie Moss.
6:40 We gather in the water. This is it, the moment I've been waiting for
my whole life all week. Steph Dixon is here too, sweet! "Hey!" I call "Doing a relay?" What a stupid question, of course she's doing a relay you tool...
6:45 The gun goes off. 200m in I see Derek start to pull away. I decide not to go with. It's going to be a looong day, no need to be the hero now. I sing some Jack Johnson to calm down and settle into cruise mode. My ears pop out of my cap. I must look like a n00bstick. I'm breaking the cardinal rule of triathlon: you gotta look good. I stop to adjust my cap. A little while later my ears pop out again. I stop/adjust again. This happens 3 times.
I just follow the guy in front of me. His pace is a bit slow, but that's probably a good thing as I figure I'm likely to underestimate the race and go out too fast. I see Pat n Steph beside me. It's comforting being surrounded by ppl you know. All 3 of us emerge from the water about the same time. This is fun!
Pat & I leave the transition at the same time: "Spring Break!" I yell.
2km into the bike and Vince passes me: "heeeeey". Wait - what, already?!! I was hoping to get to 20k before he caught up. Either I swam slow or he had a good one. Turns out he had an awesome swim, good job Vince! I don't even try to keep up-those guys are fast! I settle into what will be my routine for the next 5 hours: watching other ppl's backsides as they pass by.
I seek a sustainable rythym. There's no point in going out of your comfort zone, or as I like to call it 'the zone of unsustainability' in a race this long, it'll come back to haunt you. My bike comp's busted, so I have no idea how fast I'm going. Pat zooms past on a downhill... but what goes down must come up! I catch up on the uphill. A little while later on a downhill straight he passes me again. A little while later on a hill I catch him again. Do I see a pattern emerging here?
Biker's keep whizzing past on their pimped out carbon-fibre machines. Damn it, I knew I shoulda invested that extra 4 grand. I'm like the guy who shows up for the 100 free final in a polyester speedo and everyone else has full body LZR's. They pass in packs, some clearly in the drafting zone of others. What a buncha jeerks. Superfastbikerjerks.
Two superfastbikerjerkgirls pass me. Since they're chicks I clearly have to try and keep up. Shifting on a steep hill one of their chains pops off. ha! On the next steep hill the other chick's chain pops off. double ha! Stereotypes are based on fact and clearly, chicks just don't know how to shift manually:P
I hold my own for a bit but start to die about 3/4 of the way in. 80 km now and this is about as far as my mind and body want to ride. Because of the improper fit of my bike, my lower back is killing and hamstring is tight. Good thing it's over soon. It's been raining. On one of the last corners I almost bail on the wet road... almost.
90km and I've just biked the furthest in my life! I whip out the mental checklist and tick off 3 goals (broke 3 hrs/avg'd over 30 kmph/started the run before Vince had a chance to lap me). The bike was actually really fun and went well. I only lost 15min to Vince and 7min to Derek which is a lot less than expected. Of course I don't know this at the time. The run? Ahem, well let's get to that...
Kym ran a marathon on a cup of coffee, so it stands to reason that I should do a half marathon on half a cup of coffee (observation courtesy of Callum). I don't see a Starbucks in the transition zone so I hit up the next best thing: a 25mg caffeine powergel. This one's for you Kym!
Going through the transition everyone cheers for you. You're the hero. You're feeling good, you're lovin' life. The cheers soon fade and then reality sets in...
500m in: HO-LY F-BOMB!! That didn't take long. My lower back/calves/shins are already on fire/tight as hell/basically fukt. I have to walk already.
"Is this about a 50min (per 10k) pace?" [the pace I am hoping to hold] I ask a guy running beside me. He laughs. Clearly I need to readjust my concept of 50min pace. "Have you done this before?" I ask the second guy who passes me. "Yup, it's a long ways, pace yourself." Point taken. I pace the fuck out of it.
1km: Oh my god! That's only 1k?! At this point my focus shifts from "What pace can I hold?" to "Let's just finish". The first few kms are the worst. I loosen up a bit, but the pain never goes away.
3km: The leader laps me. Man is he movin'. I'm expecting Vince to come up at any moment. I pucker up.
5km: My left foot goes numb. One km later my right foot, feeling left out, decides to go numb too. It's like the dentist stuck their freezing needle into my feet. I wonder if it's a nerve somewhere getting messed up, but hope I just tied my laces too tight. At least I can't feel the pain in my ankles anymore.
6km: My strides must be only about 1ft long. It's all I can do. Baby steps I repeat. My Borg scale Relative Perceived Effort (RPE) is only about 8, less than warm-up effort. HR maybe 110. But I can't go any faster, everything from my waist down is just hooped.
8km: Vince hasn't lapped me yet. Maybe I can make it without him lapping me at all! Encouraged, I increase the tempo of my hobbling and swing my arms harder.
9km: My achilles feels like it's going to blow up/rip apart. I reeeeally want to walk, but can't. Vince could be coming up at any moment.
10km: VICTORY IS MINE! No lap-age for Vince. I've now "run" (if you can call it that) further than I have in my life. I hear the announcer calling in the 5th finisher.
Ppl continue to pass me at an alarming rate. No longer superfastbikerjerks, everyone is uber friendly/encouraging. I must look as bad as I feel tho. Besides the usual "keep it up, you're doing great", this is a sample of some of their actual concerned comments:
"You look about as cramped as me"
"Busted a calf?"
"You need my powergel? Salts?"
17km: Let's try this running thing. I try relaxing and lengthening my strides.
18km: A chick passes me going really fast, #740. Fuck it, I decide to pace off her. My legs are already screwed anyways. RPE slowly climbs into the double digits: 10...11...12. Man she's movin' (I find out later she's on a relay). RPE 13. If my legs actually worked I guesstimate this is a little over the max pace I should've been able to hold. For the first time I'm passing ppl. My first 18k were at 5:41/km pace, these last 2k are at 4:32/km pace.
5 hours 7 minutes and 11 powergels later I cross the line. High fives all round. Where the ice bath be at?
At the finish I'm introduced to the best part: the post-race snack table. Later, a 5hr nap is in order. I wake up sore as hell & with a sprained ankle. I have a new found respect for the full Ironman that Pat did.
Would I do it again? Ya, but not any time soon. And I think next time I'll train for a little more than a week and a half. Like, maybe 2 weeks.
Monday, July 6, 2009
1.5hr bike, 2km run immed after, 1.5k open water swim, 90s night at the bar.
Days till: 6
I think, if I concentrate hard enough, I can vaguely feel one or two running muscles. The beginning stages of adaptation. Just in time? Nope, way too late!
I need this.
Training day 7:
1hr bike, 3km swim
4 days to go!
My strategy for this race has gone through several revisions lately. First, it was draft off the other guys like there is no tomorrow on the bike. Well, apparently drafting is illegal. Fuck. Next up was the strategy of going hard for as long as possible to keep up with them aka the "balls to the wall" method. I learnt my lesson last friday. The lesson is: that can and will only end badly.
After my day off I think I've come across the perfect strategy. Flawless and nearly foolproof in it's simplicity. Lower my expectations. Or as I like to say, set the bar low so that one can step over it!
40 min bike, 6km run
3 days to go... just like a boat, this shit's fo real!!!
Taper time. ooooooo yeeeah. After all the hard training, then endless miles, the gruelling workouts I've endured alone for the past, oh lord how long has it been?... Oh that's right, for the past week, there's still nothing like taper time. Puts that extra lil' spring in your step.
Also being introduced today: the carb load. And let me tell you, I can carbo load with the best of em. At the moment I'm so full of pasta, ice cream and strawberry shortcake I'm reduced to waddling like a duck around the house. Now this is some training I can get used to!
Sunday, July 5, 2009
1 hr bike, 8k run immediately after.
Days till half iron: 8
My hamstring is so tight you could string a bow with it... a mythical bow that shoots lethal arrows, piercing the hopes and dreams of any try-athlete who thinks they're gonna beat me a week from now.
Training Day 4.
3 hr recovery hike. 3km swim. 1 hr broken bike ride. 6k run immediately after.
One week till doomsday.
It's a scientifically proven fact that there's an inverse correlation between the amount of training you've done and the amount of trash you talk (American Journal of Science, Vol. 276, November 1976, P.1096-1119). So it's no surprise that I've been spewing competitive filth a mile a minute whilst my buddies/competitors, aka those I will soon CRUSH, have been relatively quiet. So at the moment, according to "science", it appears Derek is going to be the man to beat. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some garbage to type on other peoples' Fb walls...
Friday, July 3, 2009
I'm taking the rest of the day off from training and I'm hoping that by tomorrow I'll be feeling GREAT! YEAH!
4 hour bike, 15 min run immediately after.
Days till race: 9
"In 12 days you won't be able to improve your existing fitness so no point in doing anything super hard..." -P Dub, 3 days ago
These words haunt me. I decide to reconnoitre the bike course today. From a triathletes perspective, swimming is a power based sprinting sport. My 4 minute race is considered a "distance" event in swimming. It will be 5-6 hours before I cross the finish line in this race.
30 km into my ride. I'm haulin' around corners at high speed, tucked into my aerobars. Laying the hammer down, feelin good. Although swim races are short, we train long hours (~5 hrs/day, the same time-wise as this race will take). But rarely is it in longer than 2 hour blocks and it's stop and go, sprint and rest. Not once in my tri training have I been close to V02 max, even on hill climbs. But this event uses a different energy system. So, just over 2 hours into my ride, I crash. Hit the wall. All systems down Capitaine! (Note to self: when going on a 4 hour bike ride, bring more than a water bottle and 1 granola bar). In swimming you don't really "crash". It can happen in workout, but usually it's almost done by then anyways. You can "die" due to lactate, but that's different. I text my colleagues the good news. "Get some sugar in you ASAP" says one. "Find a store and get something to eat" says the other. (Note to self: when going on a 4hr ride, bring some form of $). FML. I think I might be in over my head with this tri. Let me rephrase that: I know I'm in over my head. If 90km seemed as far on paper as it feels in RL I might've given my decisoin second thoughtsbeforehand.
I'm a long way from home. I feel like Armstrong in the 2000 Tour after Pantani broke him on the Col de Joux Plane. It's gonna be a long hour and a half getting back. I fantasize about anything edible/drinkable as I ride past the smell of backyard BBQ's. Although light for a swimmer, it's clear my upper body is too heavy/muscular for this sport, I need to shed 20 pounds to be legit. I stop for a break in the grass. My head pounds. Vision not 100%. Arms and legs tingle. Hands are cold in the afternoon heat. Guess my stingy body is saving the blood for places that need it more. Who rocks the hypoglycemia at the party? Apparently me.
I feel embarrassed, in my race gear, creeping along at a snails pace. I see a commuter up ahead. It seems like I'm barely making inroads. There is NO way I am stooping to the level of bike-commuter. Plus it's a chick, are you kidding me?! Man up. I blow past her at the bottom of 6-mile hill and don't look back till I get to the top. She isn't even in sight. At least I still have my pride.
Get home, quickly throw on shoes, grab some cash money and run down to the corner store. About the only thing keeping me going at this point is the knowledge that corner stores are full of sugary goodness. I scarf down Reeses, wagon wheels, a couple butter tarts, 5 cent candies and 1L of Gatorade faster than you can say "The ladies go crazy for my sugarlumps".
I read the label: glucose-fructose. Might as well say nectar of the gods.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
8k run, 4k swim, 1.5hr bike (might as well start with a bang).
Days till half ironman: 10
I am a serial hobbyist. It's not my fault, there's just too many awesome things to do. Surfing, guitar, stock trading are just a few, although with, ahem, varying degrees of proficiency. Even my swimming would fall under this category when you consider that I've only trained 20 out of the past 58 months (a 4:22 400im doesn't seem so bad when you look at it that way). Which brings me to my latest "hobby": long distance triathlons. Or perhaps I should change that to singular as it appears one is going to be enough.
"Why not do a triathlon this summer to stay in shape?" I thought. By the time thought became action, I found myself entered in the second longest race in the sport with exactly 10 days to do some sort of "training". Of course, my original intention was the much more reasonable Olympic distance, but since my buddies were all doing the half iron, I wasn't gonna be the one to miss out on all the fun. (Note to self: there is something to be said for being reasonable.)
60 seconds into my first training run and two things are obvious:
1) Despite sitting on my ass for the past 3 months, aerobically this will be no problem. 14 years of swimming will do that to you.
2) The real problem: I have no strength whatsoever in the muscle groups required for running. Did I mention the run is a half marathon? (21k)