Thursday, June 30, 2011


It's no secret that running is my least favorite aspect of triathlon. That's mostly because I've done so much of it over the years. I ran cross-country and track in high school. When I was in college, it was my main mode of exercise. In the years since running has been my way to get back in shape and until I discovered tri's, it was also the one place I had to compete.

When I started biking and swimming, I really enjoyed the new sports breaking up my routine. Nevertheless, running is the third sport and it has to be done. So today, even though I was tired I dragged my butt out onto the road and did a long 7 miler. It was a rough one, especially coming on the heels of yesterday's 40 mile ride.

I also committed today, to run the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in October. It will be the first one I've run in four years. It means I need to keep building the running miles--especially after finishing the TriRock Olympic in September.

Another factor in deciding to do a half marathon is to use it as a gauge in determining whether I want to/can do a half Ironman. Obviously doing a stand along 13.1 is not the same as doing the full thing, but if the half is too much, it's probably safe to say that swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 before hand will be way too much.

In the meantime, I'm glad I'll be in the pool tomorrow where the bulk of the work is done by my arms (I'm not much of a kicker on the swim). Then it's the longest brick so far on Saturday. I'm also breaking one of my rules about running two days in a row. Monday morning I'm going to do the four mile July 4 race in Washington Park. It's really just a t-shirt race but hey, I like getting t-shirts. That will be followed Tuesday but race #2 in the Aquaman Series. Back to back, but more than 24 hours so I think I can manage.

For now, I really need to get some sleep.

Catching Up During a Busy Week

It's been quiet here for a few days here on the blog, but that's not because I haven't been busy. I did enjoy a nice day off after last week's Stroke & Stride but then it was back on the run Saturday followed by another long ride in the country on Sunday (hence the new header on the site).

Monday was my usual day off but yesterday I was back at it with the first race in the Aquaman Series.

This is essentially the same format as the Stroke & Stride with a few subtle but important differences. One of the pluses is that this series is at Cherry Creek so rather than a 90 minute drive through lousy traffic I had 20 minutes....still through lousy traffic but it was a lot closer and I didn't have to go through the usual rush before the race.

Cherry Creek State Park, I'm sure, goes back to a time when it was well outside the city limits. Nowadays it's bordered on one side by an interstate spur and a very busy thoroughfare on another. Nevertheless, the park is peaceful and a great venue for a race.

Unlike the Stroke and Stride, there are no timing chips. Your number is written on the back of each of your hands and your are instructed to tell it to the timers at various checkpoints such as between swim laps (you get out of the water briefly) after the swim, exiting transition and finishing the run. In essence, you are the timing chip. It works though I'd be curious about how well if things got bunched up.

I felt pretty good as I swam the course. I'm getting used to the washing machine and it was very present as we started. Even well into the first lap I was still bumping or getting bumped.

The run course was an out and back with the benefit of being mostly downhill on the return.

Overall I had a really good swim at 26:03 and a pretty good run at 27:48. I opted to swim with my jersey on and I think that saved me some good time.

Today I brought my bike with me to work. I didn't ride it, just loaded it in the back of my car and after work I drove out to Bennett which if you don't know sits out on the eastern plains about 30 miles east of Denver. It's a good place to ride because there is minimal traffic. It's also nice and flat which is nice after all of the hills I ride around home. I managed to hit 18.1 average which is as fast as I've gone on a long ride.

Tomorrow I'll be back on foot for a long run. Then it's back in the pool on Friday for a swim and then bricks resume on Saturday morning.

Yep, pretty busy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Race Report - Stroke & Stride #4

The bad weather held off so I was able to complete the whole race this week. Just like a week ago, traffic from the DTC was nothing short of lousy so despite leaving the office a little after 4:00, I did not arrive at the reservoir until after 5:30.

Fortunately, that was still enough time to get into my wetsuit, set up my transition area and get down to the water. I expect I had about five minutes or less to spare, but then again, it was that much less time standing around in a black wetsuit in eighty-some degree heat.

Considering the unpleasant "washing machine" experience I had last week, I decided to hang back. No way I was going to lead the pack in any case. So off we went and I stayed calm and took it easy as I had committed to swim 1500 meters rather than the shorter 750.

As it often does, the trip out to the first buoy seemed to take a long time. Until you've swum a course, you just don't get a good feel for how far out it is. Nevertheless, I sighted reasonably well and was soon making the right turn on the clock-wise course. The distance between the first and second was fairly short making the course look a little like a tall, skinny trapezoid. The problem after rounding the second was that I was swimming west and looking back into the sun. Not directly, but still enough to make a lot of objects in front of me look somewhat silhouetted. That unfortunately included the intermediate tracking buoy. At the time, this did not seem like a problem because the big red flags marking the exit were easy to pick out. So I just pointed myself at them and swam and of course, sighted every so often.

After a while of this, I noticed I was by myself which seemed weird because even if I was at the back of the pack, the swimmers from the second wave--swimming the 750 meter short course--should have caught me. Strange but I kept going. Then I saw a rope in front of me that marks the normal swim area. Then I heard a lifeguard hollering at me from one of the floating platforms that I had needed to swim around that buoy I couldn't see before. So I had to swim around and it made my first lap look a little bit like this:

I actually have found I can sight reasonably well as long as I have some idea of where I'm going. So this was clearly a case of knowing that I really needed to find that buoy and keep it on my right.

The course here is unusually in that after getting out of the water and crossing the timing mat, you run along the beach and get back in the water at the same start point (the one at the top of the map above). Already feeling tired, I ran along the sand at what I thought was a fairly easy pace. Nevertheless, I was panting pretty hard when I got back into the water. I slowly eased in to that second lap so that my heart rate would come back down.

Lap #2 was not any easier, but it did seem to go by more smoothly and by this point, there really was not much company, just me and a few other slow swimmers. One of the things about doing a race in the Boulder area is that it draws out some of the best amateur triathletes in the state and makes average Joes like me look pretty weak by comparison. I also expect that a lot of the slower folks opted for the 750 meter swim.

I was not dead last out of the water, but I'm also pretty sure they reeled in the buoys not long after I stepped out and ran for transition:

Since the swim event last week was cancelled, this was my first experience with transitioning without any assistance. You my recall I took advantage of wetsuit strippers at the Greeley Triathlon. No such luxury here so as I made my way up the hill to the grassy area that served as transition, I managed to get the suit off down to my waist.

Getting out of the suit proved not to be too much trouble and then I was putting on socks and shoes and heading out. I managed to forget the wrist strap from my Garmin so here I am tucking it into my shorts:

I had no particular need to need to PR on the run portion of this my first aquathalon so I just went at the best pace I could. I knew the course having run it last week and I just went at my pace. After about a mile, it actually got a little better and I felt my pulse calm down a bit and my breathing steady. I got turned around and then headed back down along the dam with the finish line out of sight, but the PA system and music within earshot.

Considering I need to do a six mile run tomorrow, I saved a little strength and headed into the finish at a respectable pace but not a sprint either.

At least no one clipped me at the finish.

When it was over, my results broke down like this:

Swim Lap 1: 15:49
Swim Lap 2: 16:42

Total Swim: 32:30

Transition: 3:07

Run: 27:54

Overall time: 1:03:30

Given that the Stroke & Stride Series is not a full on event in the sense of a triathlon or even a running race, I won't be doing my usual list of good and bad. Overall, it's a very good event. I like that I can get timed for my efforts and they've set up at a venue that is host to some of the bigger triathlons in the state, including the Iron Man Boulder 70.3 which will be later this summer.

Once I had cleaned up a little bit and changed into some fresh clothes, my wife (who gets all of the photo credits) and I headed into Boulder where I enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Pizzeria Locale downtown. I've had one or two Neapolitan pizzas before, but this was really good. I highly recommend it if you find yourself looking for unique dining experience in Boulder.

Today I'm enjoying a day off from work with no more workout than some strength exercises. Tomorrow is back on the run for six miles and that will be followed Sunday by a long ride.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bike 2 Work

While I'm pretty sure I would not/could not do this every day, participating in Bike To Work day was actually a lot of fun.

Much like any other work morning, I left the house a little after 7:00. Unlike other mornings though, my conveyance was not my Volvo but rather my Cannondale!

Along the way a fairly extensive breakfast stop was setup along the Cherry Creek path near E-470. There were bagels, coffee and water. All very thoughtful though I was not interested in riding the rest of the way to work with a bagel sitting in my stomach like a rock.

It's probably best that the altitude at which I live is higher than the one at which I work. All in, it's a little over a 1000 foot drop between the two locations. It was also cool this morning and both factors meant I wasn't too sweaty (read: stinky) when I pulled up in front of my office.

A few fresh strokes of deodorant and a change of clothes later and I was ready for another day at work. I actually felt pretty good though as the morning went by, the need for some lunch was stronger than usual.

A little after 4:30 this afternoon I was back in my bike gear and on my way home. Since my office sits near the very busy intersection of I-25 and Dry Creek Road, I decided to take advantage of any opportunity to avoid riding through heavy traffic. Hence, I cruised over the highway on one of the pedestrian bridges that provides light rail access.

And it gave me the opportunity to appreciate the fact that I wasn't dealing with this:

The rest of the ride home was a mix of bike paths and streets but no problems. I had to add a couple of miles to ensure that I trued my mileage to at least 30 for the day.

 All in all it was a nice way to change the typical riding workout. It was no doubt easier than putting in a full 30 miles all at once, but still it was enjoyable. It also gave me a chance to practice my on-bike photography.

Okay, it still needs a little work!

Tomorrow is the Stroke and Stride. After last week's struggles, I'm still a little concerned about swimming the full 1500 meters (which includes a 100 meter run in the middle) but I'm also feeling the pressure to be ready for the Creek Streak in about five weeks. Probably still a game-time decision.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Feeling Better

Two days off, lots of rest, lots of water and yeah, I'm feeling much better. It also didn't hurt that today's workout was a swim rather than a bike or a run.

Better still, unlike my last trip to the local pool, this time, a swim lane was set up. It's amazing how much easier it is to swim when you're not swimming around people. I spoke to a life guard after the swim who told me that if the lane marker isn't there they'll be happy to set it up. It's the little things that make me happy!

Tomorrow is a ride workout of a sort. It's Bike-to-Work day so I'll be doing about 14 miles each way. Not the most strenuous work out but not bad either. I also don't mind being a little more rested ahead of this week's Stroke & Stride.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to post some pictures and talk about Bike-to-Work.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Forced Rest, Slowtwitch Muscles and Other Musings

I mentioned in my last post that my swim on Thursday was kind of rough. In truth, I wasn't entirely disappointed to have the 1500 meter event cut short. I did the run at a faster than normal clip and by the end, I was pretty fried.

Add to that, my Wednesday 30 mile bike ride left me feeling a little dizzy (after I got off the bike, fortunately) and on yesterday morning's run, my HR was up around 159 even though I was going no faster--slower in fact--than the BolderBoulder where it was lower.

So when the alarm went off this morning for me to go and ride 35 miles...well I rolled over and went back to sleep. I think I've hit something of a wall and indications are I need a couple of days off.

The list on Runner's World located here suggests I'm hitting around four of the ten warning signs with those being sleep, energy level, pain, and performance. As I don't own a pulse oximeter, I don't know where my oxygen saturation stands, but it would not surprise me to see that it is low.

Running has also been a particular struggle. With the exception of the BolderBoulder, my pace has been off and finishing longer runs has been a challenge. I expect I've been focusing a little too much on run shorter distances in shorter times. I won't go so far as to say faster because I am definitely not fast. However, my 5k time has been dropping quite a bit, and I think that my be to the detriment of my longer runs. In essence, the fast-twitch fibers have been developed but less so the slow twitch. That's a theory, but what I'm seeing seems to fit with it. My plan does call for me to start increasing the distance over the next couple of weeks so hopefully that will help.

Perhaps best of all, I don't feel too guilty about missing this morning's ride. I miss being out on the open back roads of eastern Douglas County, but they are not going anywhere. Having a day or two to rest my body actually sounds pretty good. My next scheduled work out is for 45 minutes in the pool on Tuesday afternoon so more than 48 hours from now. What's more, the pool is easier on my body, particularly my left knee and my right foot, than any ride or run.

If my time off does not re-energize me, then the problem may be bigger than I thought, but I'm feeling fairly confident that things will improve this week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Stroke & Stride #3 Race Report -- Kind Of...

Well, unlike the SOST three and a half weeks ago, I did actually get to get in the water today. Unfortunately, about 3/4 of the way to the first buoy, the lifeguards sounded the horn for everyone to turn around and come back. Lightning was observed and it's the policy of the Boulder Reservoir (a sensible one I think) to pull everyone out for half an hour.

For me, that may have been just as well. I was having a hard time of it in the water and I think I may have bit off more than I could chew this week trying to swim 1500 meters. I've also kind of forgotten that I can be pretty tired in the afternoon and the energy levels definitely dip. We'll see about staying with the distance next week. I was prepared to start again but in the 750m wave when they called the swim event completely due to more lightning.

So there was basically no transition and probably just as well because I forgot to attach my timing chip before the swim...oops!

I got out of the wet suit (harder without strippers) and put on my running gear. By now the sun was back out and it was still in the mid to upper eighties. I was well hydrated (maybe too hydrated) so it was not a problem, but it was still kind of a rough run. I wanted to push myself to run a little faster than I did in Greeley on Sunday and I did that, but it was starting to take its toll in the last mile. I still finished at 26:21 which is an 8:32 pace and I can live with that.

Overall, its a nice setup. There's a little less formality than a lot of races, but it is still definitely a race which is kind of cool. My wife is coming out with me next week so, weather permitting, I'll be doing another report with some pictures to go with. For now, you'll just have to make due with this map from the run.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Last night I was looking again at the results and saw that my swim time and overall place had been updated and appear to be accurate. I am ghettoes retracting my negative comments toward Flatirons Timing and will be removing the comments from that post.

I am relieves that I have a full time an a place.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Race Report - Greeley Triathlon

The first race is in the books! After something like eight months of waiting, I finally know what it is like to do a triathlon. I'm pleased with how I did and very anxious to put more under my belt.

The pre-race set up was at the race sight and included a meeting which was more of a Q&A session. This was particularly nice because, this course, like all courses, had its own nuances. We were briefed on a couple of particularly tight turns and the safety risks associated with them (things like crashing or pulling out in front of cars doing 70 on the highway). We also got a summary of how the swim course would work. Unlike the more typical mass wave start, this race used a time trial start due to the relatively small size of the lake.

Once that was done, we were free to roam around the lake and transition just to get a feel for the place:

The transition area sits empty in anticipation of the next day's race

Giant rubber duckies mark the swim exit

My bro and I agree...Chamois Butt'r is no good on toast!

Once we were set we did a spin around the bike course just to be familiar with the hills, turns and twists. I've been over it a few times on Google street view, but seeing it first hand is helpful. Then it was home for rest, more water and pasta for dinner!

Race morning started at 5:00 am. Since my parents live less than 5 miles from the course, it was a nice short drive and it was time I was able to spend sleeping rather than driving. That's always a plus.

We were at the site before 5:30 and though it did not officially open until 5:45, we were able to get into transition a little early and set up:

Then it was off to body marking. Since the last event was a duathlon, this was a new experience, but no problems. Both upper arms were marked with my number along with the back of my right hand. My USAT age was written on my right calf.

Earlier, I had mentioned the decision to forgo the wetsuit given an anticipated water temperature of 70*. However, a couple of factors lead to a change of mind. One, a group of volunteers would be serving as wetsuit strippers. That's something I've never heard of outside of an Ironman event. All I'd need to do was get the suit stripped down to my waist, sit on my butt and let them pull it off of me. Then get up, take the suit back and run to transition. Additionally, the guy there setting up the buoys recommended it for the sake of speed. Decision made, and it felt like the right one.

So after loitering around transition and making the requisite bathroom stops, I put on the Body Glide and pulled the suit halfway on. It was a little cool still at this point, but it would have been too warm to pull the suit all the way on.

It was shortly after this that I noticed my ankle strap containing my timing chip was missing the chip. It had apparently come loose from the strap. Not good. I found a coordinator and she and I went to the tent for Flatirons Timing where the guy running the show there was good enough to do an exchange. I was given a new chip and he scribbled down the change on a sheet of paper. Hmmm...well he's the pro at this, not me so I figured he'd get it covered.

This year's race was the site of the Rocky Mountain Region Junior Championship and that race, along with a shorter version for 13 - 15 year olds were set before us. Due to some issues on the bike course, the start was delayed. Finally, after about 30 minutes, the younger kids did there version. Once the last of them was out of the water, there were a few minutes to spare before the championship race went. All of this gave me the benefit of watching the swim course before my start.

Not long after the last swimmer in that wave went, it was time for our group to start. I had heard a call a little earlier for higher numbers to line up near the finish line, but my number was lower. The time trial start was in sequential numerical order which meant reverse age order. The first guy in the water was 82 years old! After he went I realized there was only about 50-some numbers between his and mine. But I had not heard a call for our number group. I suggested to my bro that we head over and sure enough, there were all of the lower numbers lining up. We made it, but with less than five minutes to spare.

So now I'm set. I'm standing in line with guys about my age, nearly all of us in wet suits and a line that is moving up one position about every five seconds. There was no mat at the start, just a race official and the time who had brought some kind of manual key-punch device with him. More on this later, but keep in mind that the number that was being read to the timer by a race official was the one on the right hand.

Probably not going to win any awards for this dive, but it my goggles and cap stayed on and the shock of the cooler water was minimal. I easily got into my rhythm of bilateral breathing every third stroke and siting on the buoys by looking forward every 9 -12 strokes was proving to be pretty easy. Then something really surprised me. I started catching the guys who had started in front of me.

Through all of my swimming, I've almost always been the slow guy in the pool or the lake. I've been able to swim since childhood, but swimming with form and technique are new to me and it's probably never going to be my forte. Nevertheless, there I was catching a number of people with relative ease. I went by several and there may have been one or two passing me, but not many. Granted everyone I went past was older than me or at the oldest, my age, but still, I was cutting through the water with ease. The wetsuit made me feel like I was the keel of a boat and I seemed to glide through the lake.

I finished the swim strong, was helped up onto the finish ramp and ran for the wet suit strippers. I was fumbling with the velros strap on the neck to strip down to my waste when one of them helped with that. Within 14 seconds or so, I was out of the wetsuit and running into T1.

I had decided to leave my jersey on the bike rather than swim with it. I was wet and it didn't go on cleanly. I probably lost 15 seconds messing with that. Otherwise, I got out of there with relative ease and clocked a 2:27 T1.

My feet did not go into the peddles all that easily but after a couple of tries, I was in and peddling out of the bike start, heading for the series of turns and traffic circles that made up the early part of the course. After completing those, I was out on to the business route of US 34 and crusing through a flat to downhill section.

Going back by the transition area on my way out to the highway

I had hoped to be faster through here, but I was putting a fair amount of effort into it all the same. My cadence was about 92 rpm which is faster than a lot of training rides, and, from my understanding, fairly close to the ideal range. I figured I was still over the average pace I anticipated so I'd just roll with that.

About four and a half miles in I hit the first serious hill, but I went after it fairly well. I had to balance my desire for a good bike time against the need for energy on the run.

Unlike SOST three weeks earlier, drafting rules were more applicable. The former was a three loop course so were always in the process of passing or being passed. This was a single loop course so there were lots of both, but it was more spread out. As I made the turn back west off of 83rd Avenue onto 20th Street, I came up on a guy who was a little slower than me, but not a lot. I was also passing him as I went by a group that might have included an official. At the speed I was going, I had to attack the pass more than I would normally be inclined to do. So I kicked up the cadence a little bit and went by him. It felt pretty good. More so as many more guys on high end TT bikes blew by me.

To this point, my pace was pretty good. I had a couple of slow spots, but overall, I was riding right about where I wanted to.  Then came 95th Avenue. Until a few years ago, this was just a dirt road and today it's the next best thing, A somewhat paved road with no lane markers, very narrow and pretty bumpy. It also represents some of the steeper, albeit shorter hills on the course. It definitely threw me off my pace. In addition to that, it features a U-turn on a narrow road that is the next-worst thing to coming to a stop. However, everyone has to deal with it and I did as well.

Turning off 95th Avenue to the US 34 by-pass route was the danger turn we had been warned about. Cyclists had to stay within the cones or they would be pulling in front of highway traffic and would also be disqualified on the spot. That proved to be no probem for me. I was moving, but the turn was easy at my speed. The climb up on the higway was long, but not very steep and even had a slight downhill section. Then it was up back into the business park where the race was being staged. This too was a steep hill and I knew despite best intentions, my bike pace would be slower than I hoped for. I did manage a little speed as I rolled in to T2:

The T2 was typical of a lot of my bricks. Unlike the SOST Du, I had to put on socks. I just can't run without them and a few extra seconds means no blisters so I think it's worth the trade off.

That said, I feel like I did okay with it and soon was running out. I worried about putting the Garmin on the wrist strap as I went and I'm sure that saved time. This run started out like they all do after a bike--I felt exhausted. More specifically, I felt like my heart was pounding out of my chest and I could not catch my breath. Fortunately, past experience taught me that my body would catch up and after about a quarter to half a mile, it did.

This was a great course to run since the first three quarters of a mile are on a gentle downhill. That allowed me to run a sub 8:30 pace which was great. I was hoping I had a good swim, and seemed to, but I also new I had a few minutes on the bike to cover. After that first stretch of down hill, I made a right turn and headed up a fairly steady and drawn out up hill. It was nothing like the monster on the SOST runs, but it was enough to push my heart rate back up and slow down my pace. However, I was still running ahead of my goal.

It was an interesting course in that it wound back inside itself so as I was going out, others were coming back in the opposite direction. The field was pretty thin however, so there were no traffic issues. In addition the bikes were still coming in, but they were well separated on the left side of the road so again, no issues.

The turn around was near the finish line which can be a little frustrating since you're hearing the finishers called but you still have nearly two miles to go. Fortunately, it's at this point that you get to go back down hill for quite a stretch and I felt better as well as saw my pace improve. Before long, a left turn put me back on the same hill I had run down at the start, along with a little in and out loop and then I was running around the swim lake on my way to the finish. I had wanted to finish stronger than I did in Longmont three weeks earlier and though I was breathing pretty hard at this point, I also knew I could stride out the finish. I did and it felt good:

And this is the very cool finish line that was set up:

Right between his legs and then you're done. There were refreshments and iced towels and that was most enjoyable as it had gotten pretty warm by this point.

Upon looking at the results, we also learned that my bro had not only placed, but won the 40-44 age group. He beat the next closest person by a comfortable 21 seconds. As for me, well it should have been about 9th out of 16, but more on that in a second. Given my brother's win, we stayed around for the awards ceremony. Then it was home for some much needed/desired beer and a barbecue!

Race Review

I have some criticisms, but I want to say up front that I think the race organizers did an excellent job. This was a well-run event and I had a blast. I'm glad this ended up being my "official" introduction to the sport and I plan to be back next year. I would also, without reservations, recommend it to anyone who is looking for a sprint early in the season.

The bad:

**Timing -After initially not getting a swim time, it later posted so despite having run with a replacement chip, all was well. What's more, I was actually the second fastest swimmer in my age group.
Pre-start communication - The call for everyone with number 238 and higher to line up lead me and my brother to believe that there would be a second call for lower numbers. I might have missed that, but I don't think so. There were a lot of participants and spectators about. You need to make those calls clearly and probably repeat them.

The Good:

Pre-race communication - The days leading up to the race included multiple e-mails with details, water temperatures, etc. I like being kept up to date and this was helpful. I never felt out of the loop.

Venue - A great sight for a race. The lake was small, but a short swim course is kind of cool and great introduction to rookies like me. In addition, the transition area was spacious and the run and bike courses offered great scenery, interesting challenges and above all, a good location for our family to watch us race. It means a lot to have your own cheering section.

Course support - There are apparently close ties between the Greeley law enforcement community and the race. As a result, several off-duty officers showed up to man the turns on the race and keep us all safe. They did this voluntarily for no pay. That's one of the more commendable things I've seen at a race and I tip my hat to all of them. There were also a lot of volunteers manning the run turns and of course, the wet-suit strippers. That was a very nice touch!

Race-swag - Not a ton of stuff, but what I got was pretty cool. It included a big red reusable grocery sack, the iced towel (suitable for transition) and a  pint glass from the local Crabtree Brewery. There was no beer on site, but they did give you a coupon for a free glass at the brewery.

Door-Prizes - I didnt' win any, but they had some pretty cool stuff including Rudy Project sunglasses and Road ID gift certificates. There was also a lot of it and several people got a little something extra for hanging around after the race.

Overall, I think this was a great race. While I look forward to the challenge of longer Olympic distance events coming up, I still plan on coming back next year. As I mentioned before, this is a great one to check out early in the season.

Today's a rest and recovery day and tomorrow morning I'm back in the pool. Thursday is a quasi-race as I'll be in Boulder for this week's Stroke & Stride event which is a 1500m swim followed by a 5k run. Lots more swimming, biking and running ahead in the next six weeks so plenty of posts coming up as well!

**A side note, even though I'm no longer a first-timer, I'm keeping the blog name for now. Although not official, I may have one or two followers out there and I don't want to lose anybody with a URL change. Next year, I'll see about an update and will do so with plenty of advanced warning.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ready to Go!

It's been quiet in these parts recently so I apologize for going so many days without a post.

I've had a fairly easy week after the big ride on Sunday. I got one more short 15 miler on the trainer Tuesday and that's been about it. My attempt to swim laps on Wednesday got skunked by lightning--they would not let me in the pool, and on Thursday between a sore knee and hamstring, I decided a three mile run was really not going to do any good.

I had a couple of good strength days, but the tri training has been very light. I think I'll be better off for it.

In about an hour or so, I'm heading up to Greeley where I'll attend the 2:00 pre-race meeting and pick up my packet. My brother and I are also going to drive the bike course just to get a first hand look. We grew up in Greeley, but didn't spend any of that time around the course which lies mostly along the western town limit.

Pre-race e-mails have indicated a 70 degree water temperature so I'm still planning on swimming sans-wetsuit but it's going to make the trip just in case I change my mind. Not wearing will probably shave as much as a minute off my T1 and that seems like it's worth it.

Other than the meeting, there's nothing much to do but wait--not my favorite thing. However, I'm excited, I'm ready and by the time I make my next post, I'll no longer be a First Timer triathlete.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Ride in the Country

I was up before 8:00 this morning to get out for a 30 mile ride on the back roads of Douglas County. In truth, I should have been out much earlier, but my wife and I went out to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary last night and it was a late bedtime.

Nevertheless, I knew I needed to get out there and work off last night's steak au poivre and duck-fat-fried fingerling potatoes (those are really good by the way)!

So a little after 8:00, off I went. Many may think of the area east of the front range of the Rockies as being essentially flat. In most cases you would be correct. However, my little stretch of the Front Range is the exception. Eastern Douglas County is characterized by rolling hills and a fairly high altitude. In fact, my average altitude for the ride was over 6300 feet. In addition, it was one of those rides where I felt like I was always going up hill. As you can see from this profile, there was definitely a lot of up and down:

Despite all of that, traffic was light and the cars I did encounter were always courteous enough to give me a wide berth. What's more the scenery was fantastic. My iPhone does not do it justice but these may give you some idea:

Looking back west at one of the rolling hills I just climbed

Looking southeast toward the town of Elizabeth.

Some of the climbs were steep enough that I actually went into the small ring and still pushed mightily to ascend some of the hills. It's a sure sign you're climbing a steep one when it's about all you can see in your forward view.

Having completed the ride, I feel pretty good. In addition to the training, I got a chance to test out Gu Brew Electrolyte drink. Unlike the much-too-sweet Powerade I had along during the Summer Open Sprint, this was much more diluted and went down without any trouble. I have an extra packet so I'll probably be bringing it along in Greeley next week.

I have a much deserved day off tomorrow and then light workouts Tuesday through Thursday. I think I'll be feeling nice and rested on Sunday morning and ready for my first "real" tri.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Good Morning on the Water

So maybe it's the fourth time that's the charm. Today was my fourth trip out to Bowles Reservoir Number One and by far the best of my four open water swims. I think a couple of factors contributed to that. First, the water felt much warmer. There have been no official postings, but it makes sense given the string of warm weather we've had over the last week. It wasn't balmy but it was not nearly as shocking. I also think knowing the buoy course a little better.

Given that I wasn't freezing, I felt more comfortable and went out with a little less intensity than usual. Knowing that my swim was a long one also helped me take it easy in the early stages. Having a good swim like that gives me more confidence going into next week's Greeley Triathlon.

Speaking of which, I got my first communication from them this week. Indications are that the lake at the course site will be about seventy degrees. Much as I enjoy the buoyancy and speed I get from the wetsuit, I think I'll be swimming in just my tri shorts. It's only a 500 meter distance and given the water temp, I think the benefits would be negligible.

Planning a long ride in the country tomorrow and then I start easing up a little bit in anticipation of the race.

It's been really nice the last few days and that's been a real benefit to the training. Hopefully that keeps up because after next Sunday, the pace really picks up!

A fairly close approximation of the mile course.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Outdoor Swimming

Today was my first attempt at swimming at my local outdoor pool. It's 25 meters as opposed to the 25 yards I've been swimming at the indoor pool at the rec center. That being the case, I was a little off about what would constitute a "normal" lap. The other challenge was swimming around people. Unfortunately, there was no lap lane set up and the mass of people there on a hot afternoon seemed a little oblivious of me.

Nevertheless, it went pretty well and a little over 40 minutes later I had put 1600 meters behind me. It was not my fastest swim but the dodging and weaving didn't help. Next time, I'm going to try later.

For the next swim, it won't matter. I'll be back at Grant Ranch on Saturday morning and folks who go out there are more interested in swimming than splashing around. Fifty some degree water will have that effect!