Tuesday, July 26, 2011

1st Annual Twin Cities Triathlon by OptumHealth Performance and Shamrock's Nookie Supreme Eating Challenge Report

So, I decided to challenge myself twice this Sunday.  First challenge, get up and do the 1st Annual Twin Cities Triathlon, after taking Jackie to the airport at 3:30AM.  Second challenge, go to Shamrock's (on West 7th in St. Paul) and complete the Nookie Supreme eating challenge.  I will cover both of those challenges, first to the triathlon.
I was up at 3AM to take Jackie to the airport for her two week trip to Nicaragua, part of getting her MS for PA school.  After that I came home and took care of the usual.  Shower, shave, get stuff together, and head down to the race site.  This would be another race where I am only getting about 4 hours of sleep going into it.  I actually felt pretty good.  As usual, on the way to the race I got a coffee and donut.  For breakfast, at home, before leaving, I had an oatmeal bar, and yogurt with granola and frozen fruit, plus a banana.
When I got there I parked next to a couple guys I know from OHP and walked into transistion with them.  The transition area is huge, and room to expand.  You can see there are expectations for a much larger race.    I took a short ride to make sure the bike was ok.  On Tuesday night, at the Tuesday Night Time Trial, I had trouble getting the front to shift from the small chainring to the large.  I did not want this problem today.  Everything was fine with the bike in warm-up, not the case on the ride......
It was a nice cool morning and the humidity was low, thankfully.  After organizing my stuff and chatting with people, I got ready to get on the school bus to head to the start.  It was announced that the water was 83 degrees. No wetsuit today.  No worries. 
Somewhat humourously (sp?), the driver of the school bus missed the drop off point and we had to come back around.  Just one of those first race issues.
The start area at the riverside is small and narrow, you could only do a TT start in such a place.  I dipped my toes in and it was definitely warm.  The start was about a half hour late.  It was a little chilly waiting for the start.  There was a lot of chatter.  Finally it was announced that we would start.  The starter announced that our order did not matter, since it was a TT start, so everyone just kind of lined up, with the Elites at the front.
As you can see by my 100 yard splits, the swim is fast.  The current is fast.  It did not feel as fast as it was, but it was fast.  The swim went pretty smooth.  I did make one mistake, I was swimming to close to the shore, I should have been more in the middle.  I saw I was swimming close to this pier, people were yelling at us to go wide.  I started to go wide, but not wide enough, and I got caught on a log, or tree, that was just under the surface.  I literally got caught.  I hit it, flipped on my back, and got stuck on it.  A couple of people ran into me and I had a moment of panic.  I settled and got off the tree and was able to keep going with no problem.  I had some scrapes on my legs and one on my arm.  No biggie.
I made the swim exit with no problem, I did not overshoot.  I later found out that some people made the turn late and ended up having troubles getting back.
Surprisingly, my buddy Matt was waiting along the side between the swim exit and transition enterance.  It was good to see someone that I know.  I got in and out of transition with no problems.
The Ohio St hill was a challenge off the start, but not nearly as bad as I thought.  Once up Ohio St, there as still some climbing to be done, not as steep.  The bike course is challenging as a whole.  The course had a number of climbs and a lot of rollers.  It is a very good bike course.  The road surface sucks at times, but that is what you get with a bike course in the city.  I need to improve my bike handling skills and confidence, I could probably drop 2-5 minutes off my bike if I was not so worried about some of those downhills with turns at the bottom.  Early in the bike, on a flat portion of the course, I guy went down on his bike.  It was a left and the bike came out from under and he slid on his side.  He got up quick and started going again.  I saw it coming up from behind.  It shook me a for a minute and probably made me a little more hesitant through corners. 
I felt surprisingly good off the bike.  The run turned out to be challenging also. The run up the Wabasha bridge is decent climb, but it is nice view coming and going on the run.  Once you are over the bridge you go right and immediately downhill, at the bottom of the hill you take to quick rights, and head along the river.  This is actually the hard part of the course.  Going out it is basically flat to a slight incline, a false flat, to a something of a defined uphill to the turnaround.  It is straight as far as you can see.  It is a mentally challenging run.  If it was hot and humid, it would be a death march.  There is no shade on the run.  I would recommend at least one more water stop on the course.  The run back is mostly downhill, except for the steep climb back up the Wabasha bridge.  It is a tough climb at the end of the race. 
It is a challenging course and I felt good finishing it.  I definitely will do this race next year.  I was happy with my final time and my splits.

2011 OptumHealth Performance Twin Cities Triathlon Results   
Swim (2112 yards) - 19:46 (0:57/100 yards)
T1 - 1:46
Bike (25.1 mi) - 1:12:36 (20.8 MPH)
T2 - 1:06
Run (6.2 mi) - 51:19 (8:17 min/mi)
Total - 2:26:30
Overall - 51/118
AG - 8/15
Pace - 4:30 min/mi

After the race I went to Shamrock's on West 7th and met Jackie's brother, sister-in-law, and thier two kids.  I had been planning throughout the week, to attempt to complete the Nookie Supreme eating challenge, but I was going to make a game time decision.  The Nookie Supreme is like an oversided, and much better tasting, Big Mac.  Bigger patties and better, thicker rolls.  The cheese is more like a liquid cheese than melted slices.  Along with eating two of those burgers, you have to eat the servings of fresh cut fries that go along with them, probably less than a pound of fries between the two combined baskets.  I asked the waitress if I could start to eat one basket and decide later to order the second.  That plan is acceptable.  I started into the first basket, and it went quick and I was not getting full.  So, I ordered the second basket.  The second basket went pretty good, until I got to the last quarter of the burger.  Then I started feeling it.  Also, I was getting tired of eating and I was thirsty.  The second burger seemed saltier and the cheese was getting to me.  I did get through the whole things and initially I did not feel that bad.   After I got my picture taken and my shirt, I went out to my car and sat down.  Then I started feeling it.  Really, really uncomfortably full.  The drive home was really uncomfortable.  I didn't really feel like I was going to barf, just super uncomfortable.  I got home, was able to take care of cleanup, and then I get the hiccups.  Then I thought I might barf.  I laid down and fell asleep for two hours.  When I woke up I felt much better.  Still a little uncomfortable.  I don't think I am ever going to do an eating challenge again.  Picture below taken by Jackie's sister-in-law with my phone.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 Chaska Sprint Triathlon Race Report

I woke up about 3:30AMish and it was raining hard, with thunder and lightning.  I went back to bed until 4:30.  First thing, check the weather, since it was still raining and lightning in South Minneapolis.  Weather.com indicated that the storm was passing and would pass Chaska.  I got ready to go.  I had only about 4 hours of sleep the night before, my brother and girlfriend got into town about midnight for a weekend visit and I stayed up to greet them. Thursday night I went to the Twins game and did not get a lot of sleep, and not much good sleep.  I was not expecting much today.  I did get two days of rest in from working out, because I did not workout Thursday and Friday, so maybe that would help me a bit.
On the drive out it was raining pretty hard, but as I headed west and got past 494 the rain subsided.  It still looked pretty nasty, but never turned into anything but a humid day.  Thankfully, the sun did not come out and make it miserable.
This race turned out to be more competitive than I thought and a pleasant surprise to me.
I setup and checked out the area around transition.  I had not done this race before so I wanted to get an idea of the transition enterance and exit, swim finish, and run path through and out of the park.  I did a short warm-up to checkout the bike.  I made a decision to go without a wetsuit.  It was very humid, I was just standing there sweating before the race.

The swim is short and the time improvement with a wetstuit would be offset by the time it takes me to take it off.  Also, the water temperature was in the 70s and the air was humid, so I thought no wetsuit would keep me cooler and I did not need to be overheated getting onto the bike.
The AG swim start is a time trial and I was in the last dozen or so people in the entire race field.  The wait went by fast.  When I got out in the water it was crowded and there was some bobbing and weaving to get around people.  I took an aggressive line and I think it helped me get through pretty fast.  I think I literally passed a hundred people on the swim.  At least if felt that way.
I had no idea what the bike course was like.  I had heard it was filled with rollers, and it is.  It is a good bike course.  I took the first 5 minutes or so "easy" on the bike, so I could get some fluid and get organized on the bike.  I then picked up the pace and started to go hard.  I felt pretty good overall.  I passed one person in my AG initially, and then maybe 10-15 minutes in I was passed by a guy in my AG.  He did not pull away from me like I expected.  We went back and forth for awhile and then both of us were passed by a third guy in our AG.  Then the three of us went back and forth.  I was minding my distance so as not to draft and I believe the other two guys did the same thing.  It dawned on me that I might have been racing for the top three spots in my AG.  If this was the case, it was the first time for me in my racing history to be knowningly racing for a top 3 spot.  I had finished 3rd in my AG twice before, but I had no idea where I was with regards to my competition.  It was kind of fun to be in this position, to know where my competition was in relation to me. 
I think the other two guys knew the course, because within the last 2-5 miles they took off on me, one guy took off, and then a little later the other one did. 
Into transition I was only a little behind one of the guys, the other guy was out of sight.  I passed the guy in sight at the first water stop, so briefly I was in 2nd in my AG.  I started the steep hill and long hill at the beginning of the run.  It is the longest and steepest hill I have encountered in a race, I think.  I could see the guy who was 1st in my AG running up the hill.  Not long after I started the hill, the guy I passed, passed me.  I was in 3rd in my AG.  As we progressed up the hill, I started making ground on the guy who was in 1st and the guy in front of me was also making ground.  As we got to the top of the hill and onto the flat portion I could see I was making time catching the lead guy and so was second place.  By the time we started to head downhill, about a mile out, the guy in 2nd was now in 1st and I was moving on the guy now in 2nd.  On the steep downhill in to the finish, I passed the guy in 2nd, I was not going to catch 1st.  I was hurting, in a good way, and my legs were starting to feel like they were not going to give me much more.  I was not sure I how much space I had put on the guy I passed, apparently it was not enough.  With the finish in sight, he sprinted by, cheering me on to stay with him.  Props to him for being a good competitor and looking to have some fun.  I tried to turn it on to stay up with him, but my legs would not have it.  I think I used to much to catch him.  I could not get them to sprint enough to catch or stay up with him.  Should I have stayed on his tail or matched him to the finish for a sprint?  Maybe.  You have to race your race at the time. 
In the end, I lost 2nd place by 13 seconds and first by 40 seconds.  In a race that has 4 sections, swim, bike, run, and transition there are many areas that I could have taken that 13 seconds back, and 40 seconds, for that matter. 
After the finish I congratulated both guys on a great race.  It was a lot of fun.
It was a great race and I put up my fastest 3.1mi/3mi pace and one of my fastest run paces of all time.
Unfortunately, this is one of the only races where only 1st and 2nd get trophies.  That is a little disappointing.  It is always nice to get hardware.  Again, I am super happy with my race and the race as a whole.
It is a challenging course, reminds of the Eau Claire triathlon course in many ways.  Both have short swims, rolling bike course, and challenging runs.  My average speed on both bike course was the same.
As I understand it, if I do this race next year I will be an "Elite" because my race time this year is under 1:25.  Not sure I will do it next year, but if I do it, being put into the "Elite" wave would be interesting.

2011 Chaska Triathlon Results
Swim (587yards) - 9:40 (1:46/100 yards) no wetsuit
T1 - 1:32
Bike (16mi) - 44:33 (21.5MPH)
T2 - 0:56
Run (3.1mi) - 22:49 (7:22 min/mi) - Fastest 3.1mi/3mi pace off the bike, fastest pace for run greater than 3 miles
Total - 1:19:29
Overall - 21/259
AG - 3/18
Overall Pace - 4:06 min/mi

Next weekend will be the first annual OptumHealth Performace Twin Cities triathlon.  It will have the Mississippi swim and the run through downtown Saint Paul.  It should be a very interesting race.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

2011 Timberman Triathlon Race Report

One of the few out-of-town races this year is about three and half hours north in Grand Rapids, MN.  I did this race last year for the first time.  It is a very challenging course.
We stayed at the Country Inn in Grand Rapids.  The room was a non-smoking room, but it had that stale smell.  It was either a smoking room at one time, or someone smoked in it, either way, it smelled bad.  Also, the room was an ice box, surprisingly the a/c worked better than most hotel rooms.  Had to leave the a/c on all night to keep the air moving so it would not get so stale.  The room was freezing.  I don't think Jackie or I slept that well the night before the race.
I forgot my wetsuit.  First time for everything.  The night before and the morning of, I was a little worried.  I knew I could do it without a wetsuit.  I was a little worried about how much slower I would be and how it would affect my run and bike.  Well, I was only 38 seconds slower on the swim than last year, so not having a wetsuit did not harm me that much.  I also had a slightly faster average bike speed (bike was a mile shorter than last year) and a faster run.
Got up in the morning, took care of business, ate breakfast in the room, and then headed out.  It was sprinkling on and off, it seemed like it might be ok.  Setup transition, hung out, and went for a short warm-up ride.   I headed down to the water for a warmup swim and it started to rain, then started to pour, and then about start time it backed off a little.  The swim start is in the water and higher than knee deep.  The start line is wide, which is nice, not too much crowding.  The start went off well, and then probably about 5 minutes into the swim it started to pour.  It rained hard.  It rained the whole rest of the swim, through transition, and through some of the bike.  The air temp was low 60s and the water temp was low 70s.  The water felt good and I was not cold during the swim.  Actually, pretty comfortable on the bike too.

Transition was easier without a wetsuit, but the soaking socks made getting them on much more difficult.  My shoes had puddles in them.
It rained on and off during the bike.  There was a nasty headwind at times on the bike.  Timberman has a very challenging bike course, with rolling hills and a couple steep climbs.  There are also some pretty fast downhills.  It makes for a very interesting bike.  One of the few bike courses that I shift into the smallest front chainring and get out of the saddle a few times during the bike.
No rain on the run, but my shoes were soaked from the rain and my socks were still wet. The run that is a mix of asphalt and gravel.  There are some hills on the run, both on the asphalt portion and gravel.  There was no sun on the run, thankfully.  It was warm and humid, if the sun came out it would have been hot and miserable, like in 2010.  I attribute my faster run partly to the cooler weather.  I am really happy with my run.  It was a painful run, not the kind of pain that is bad, but "good" pain.  I felt like I was sucking wind the whole time, but, of course, made it through.
Timberman went better than Minneman.  Timberman is longer and much more challenging than Minneman and I would say I had a much better race at Timberman.  Not sure what happened last week at Minneman, I guess I was just tired.  Next week I will head to Chaska to do the sprint triathlon there for the first time.

2010 Timberman Race Results
Swim (1760 yards) - 23:41 (1:21/100yards)
T1 - 1:54
Bike (23.8 mi) - 1:10:01 (20.4 MPH)
T2 - 1:56
Run (6 mi) - 51:50 (8:39 min/mi)
Total - 2:29:20
Overall - 60/122
AG - 7/13
Overall Pace - 4:51 min/mi

2011 Timberman Race Results
Swim (1760 yards) - 24:19 (1:23/100yards) - No wetsuit, forgot wetsuit, but only 38 seconds slower than last year
T1 - 1:44
Bike (22.9 mi) - 1:06:41 (20.6 MPH) - Shorten bike course a little less than a mile due to road construction, a hair faster on average speed
T2 - 1:26
Run (6 mi) - 48:34 (8:06 min/mi) - much faster run!
Total - 2:22:43
Overall - 45/115
AG - 8/16
Overall Pace - 4:46 min/mi

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011 OptumHealth Performance Minneman Race Report

The weather was fantastic, could not ask for a better day.  The course is short and flat, could not ask for a better course to have PR splits.  The race was very well run and things appeared to go off perfectly.

I had a performance I was not particularly happy with.  I did finish 5th, out of 28th, in my AG, which is pretty good.  Of my three attempts at Minneman, this was my slowest.  It was my slowest 5K/3mi off the bike since early 2009 and my bike was ok.
I just could not turn over my legs.  I felt tired before I even got out there.  Not sure what happened.
It was a good day and I am glad I could get out there.  I am not really that unhappy, just slightly disappointed that I could not get moving that day.
As usual, I had my coffee and donut on the way there and I got there early.  I got to chat up with some people and, as usual, it was great to do that.  It was great to see people before, during, and after that I know.
I have a new OptumHealth Performance tri kit for this race and it is a good kit.  It fits well and is comfortable.  I will probably be wearing it again.  It is a two-piece kit, I would prefer a one piece, but it fits and it is comfortable, so it will do.

Even if I had gone my fastest, I still would not have cracked the top 3.  My AG was just too fast.

2011 Minneman Race Results
Swim (587 yards) - 8:20 (1:35/100yds)
T1 - 2:51
Bike (13mi) - 36:15 (21.5MPH)
T2 - 1:10
Run (3mi) - 24:30 (8:10 min/mi)
Total - 1:13:03
Overall - 68/342
AG - 5/28
Pace - 4:29 min/mi

2010 Minneman Race Results
Swim (587 yards) - 6:54 (1:19/100yds)
T1 - 2:15
Bike (13mi) - 34:57 (22.3MPH)
T2 - 1:30
Run (3mi) - 23:54 (7:58 min/mi)
Total - 1:09:29
Overall - 60/414
AG - 6/19
Pace - 4:16 min/mi

Injured in 2009 and could not race

2008 Minneman Race Results
Swim (587yds) - 10:19 (1:58/100yds)
T1 - 2:27
Bike (13mi) - 35:01 (22.3MPH)
T2 - 1:16
Run (3mi) - 22:32 (7:31 min/mi)
Total - 1:11:46
Overall - 35/350
AG - 3/30 (First podium finish)
Pace - 4:24 min/mi

Brian Keith Maas has a great write up of the race at his blog at:

As an aside, at this week's Tuesday Night Time Trial I had my fastest TT of the year.  It was my fastest time of the year by 30 seconds, which is huge.  I got a flat before the race and was lent a wheel, Zipp 1080, by fellow racer Jey Carlson.  So, I did not run a disc.  Am I faster without a disc?  Am I faster after 3 days of picnics and beer?  Was it 3 nights in a row of 8+ hours of sleep?  Something I probably have not gotten since I was in Mexico for vacation earlier this year.  Was it a slight tailwind?  I am going to do my next couple races and my next couple T'N'Ts on 808s and see what happens.

Friday, July 1, 2011

June 2011 Racing and Training Summary

This June I was a little light on the swimming.  I was having trouble getting up to swim the morning after Tuesday Night Time Trials.  The last time I swam less than 20,000 yards in a month was Feb'09.  I had a couple other days were I just had trouble getting out of bed.  Bike was over 10 hours and pretty intense, since it includes TNT and races.  I added a snapshot of each month, starting in Feb, for 2011. I am averaging 25+ hours a month, which seems pretty good to me. Overall I am feeling pretty good about things.
This month there were two TNTs and two triathlons.  I had my fastest time of the year so far at the second one of the month.  Still off my fastest ever, set in '08, by more than 1 MPH.  That seems so strange to me that I am that far off.  Maybe later in the year it will pickup.
At the Eau Claire Sprint I had my fastest 5K off the bike, 23:14 (7:30min/mi), on a challenging course.  That was a good sign.
At Lake Waconia I had a course PR by 3min.  The swim was as fast as last year, the bike was a hair faster than '08, and on the run I finally went under 8min/mi, 7:54min/mi,. on probably one of the most challenging run courses around.  Another good sign.

TNT Results (11miles) for June 2011
6/7/2011 (over 100 degrees at race time) -30:14 = 21.83 MPH
6/21/2011 - 29:25 = 22.43 MPH

For comparison, TNT Results in 2008 (both over 23MPH) and 2010 in June
6/10/08 - 28:40 = 23.02 MPH
6/24/08 - 28:14 = 23.38 MPH

6/8/10 - 29:55 = 22.06 MPH

2011 Month-to-Month Starting in Feb

June Comparisons Since 2007

Since 2007 Totals and Averages

Since 2007 and YTD Totals for 2011 

July should be interesting with four (4) triathlons and two (2) TNTs.