Sunday, July 31, 2011

Race Report - Creek Streak Olympic Triathlon

There's a whole bunch of stuff to discuss here so I'll try not to go on and on. Like eating an elephant: one bite at a time, that's probably the best way to summarize this one.

If you read my rant at race directors a couple of posts back, you'll recall that I was unhappy about the lack of information about whether or not there would be a pre-race equipment check. Shortly after, they did confirm that bikes could be dropped off the day before to avoid congestion on the shuttle buses.

On Friday afternoon, my brother and I arrived at the Aurora store of Runner's Roost where packet pick-up was organized and went quickly and easily. At the strong recommendation of one of the officials, we opted to do our body marking there rather than wait until the next morning.

Then it was off to Cherry Creek State Park and the staging and transition area by Smoky Hill beach. Judging from the aerial maps, this is the largest lot in the entire park and I'd guess it can accommodate somewhere between 300 - 400 vehicles. Of course, a large section of this was taken up by transition. Although the website indicated that there would be security personnel on site to ensure that there were no bike thefts, we didn't see any indication of that. There were nicer bikes than ours there, but in the interests of being safe, we both locked our bikes to the rack and left them for the night:

Early the next morning we arrived at Smoky Hill High School to catch the shuttle bus to the race. It was around 5:45 or so and we were on our way. A fair number of people had brought there bikes with them that morning and it made for kind of a crowded bus, but we all fit and so far, everything was going according to plan. As we left the school, I saw another bus pulling into the lot. We nearly took a wrong turn when our driver (who clearly had not been given a good set of directions) asked where to go to get to the staging area. A participant from last year--apparently unaware that the location within the park had changed--told her to make a left. The rest of the bus straightened that out. Fortunately, once you drive it, you don't need those directions again, so no harm done.

Arriving in transition, both of our bikes were there and now it was just time to set up. This was only my third time setting up an "official" transition area, but bricks and aquathlons had given me enough practice to know the routine reasonably well. Then it was just time to wait. And wait. And wait.

Turns out, the transportation strategy may not have been well thought out. The event website indicated that both spectators and athletes alike needed to shuttle into the park. Pretty clearly, estimates about how long that would take were far too optimistic. This was compounded by the fact that clearly the event organizers and park officials were not on the same page. When the bus carrying my wife and my brother's family arrived at the entrance gate, the guard actually refused to let them pass without paying the $9 entry fee. Seriously. It took, I'm told, about ten to fifteen minutes to sort that out. And keep in mind, it was not just the spectators on the bus, it was athletes as well.

All of this resulted in a delayed start. I can't say I was minding all that much at this point, but also keep in mind that late July in Colorado is normally about the warmest time of the year. In other words, the day was getting later and the temperature was going steadily up. More on that later.

I had time for a short warm-up lap in the water and then it was time for the sprint athletes to start. Given the delay, the times between waves were shortened so we started about 5 minutes after the sprint rather than 15 but this was still not a real problem.

I found myself feeling pretty nervous. I think all of the waiting had finally gotten to me and I just wanted to get going. There was a very long trek before me and waiting does not help ease the tension. At last we got going. Cherry Creek Reservoir, at least along that beach, is shallow for the first several yards so I was kind of wading until finally diving in and starting my stroke. The swim felt pretty good to me. Unlike some Aquathalons, this was one long 1500 meter loop with no run across the beach and so no laps. That made the long stretch of the course go for a while, but I just kept up a steady pace though not nearly as much effort as I think I would have put into a sprint. The crowd was pretty much with me all of the way and I bumped into a few people. Before I realized it, it was time to turn back to the beach. I was supposed to keep the last buoy on my right instead of left like all of the others which meant a short back-track to go around it. Since this was well within sight of the beach, I expect I would have gotten a penalty or possibly even a DQ.

Unlike the aquathlons or the Greeley Triathlon, this was a fairly long run from the beach to transition. By my estimates, it was nearly 0.2 mile to get to my bike. Also unlike Greeley, there were no wetsuit strippers so I had to do the honors myself. That was fine. I've been doing it at the aquathlon events so I was used to it. Transition went pretty well and I was ready to go:

And this is how I felt through pretty much all of the bike:

It felt really good. I didn't totally attack it considering the 6 mile run that was to follow, but I felt good. The HR only spiked on the one big hill. It was a two lap track that I measured at just under 11 miles each. Unlike my last two competitive bike events, this one felt great at the finish.

The bike also provided the highest entertainment of the event. No there were not any bands but other people on the course were entertaining enough. Less than a mile into the ride, a woman (a very important woman apparently) was shouting "on your left) at me and shouted it again when I didn't crash my bike to get out of my way. This has happened in all three events I've been in this year. As she went by me we approached an intersection and she didn't know if she was supposed to turn or go left. I went by her as she tried to figure it out. When she passed me again, she didn't say anything. Priceless.

Later, on the second lap, I came up behind a guy on a very nice looking Cervelo TT bike. Even though he was on the lighter, faster carbon bike, I was catching him and, mindful of USAT drafting rules, I picked up the pace and went around him. No sooner had I gained the lead then there he was, drafting on me!. And it was not subtle, borderline drafting. He was right in the zone. I looked back a couple of times in annoyance before he went around me and said, "don't worry, I'm not in the race." You've got to love it. On a triathlon bike, riding on the triathlon course, during, the triathlon, but not a participant.

Finally, as I neared the bike finish, I saw a woman riding ahead of me who appeared to be standing very high on her pedals. As I got closer, I realized she was not on a bike at all but an EliptiGO. Obviously she was not competing, but it was amusing nevertheless. My description can't do it justice so follow the link if you want to see more about it. Before I knew it, the ride was coming to an end.

I got out of both pedals and came to an easy stop at the crash line and ran into transition. I do think all of the practice with the mundane things has paid off. Items were arranged in order of need on my towel and I was out in 2:32 which is not my fastest, but this is also an Oly so I think a little more time made some sense.

Then it was time to go out and face the run.

I don't know the actual temperatures during the run, but I think it would be safe to say that they were well into the eighties and probably quite a bit warmer in the unshaded areas. As I approached the turn around, I was feeling not well at all. I had taken water at each stop and as I turned around I even dumped some on my head, but I could not cool off. By the time I reached the 4.25 mark, I slowed to a brisk walk for a couple of minutes until my HR had come back down below 140. Then I started up again until reaching one of the final hills. I walked up it and then ran down and continued again until the final big hill. Again, I walked until reaching that summit and then took one more slow walk before finishing the rest of the race at a slow run. There's not a lot of detail in this picture, but my wife tells me that I looked like I was either going to puke or pass out:

I would note, however, that the guy behind me did not pass me, so at least there is that. I still finished at just over an our which was only four minutes over my goal for the run. An ice cold bottle of water and an equally icy towel were waiting for me  as I crossed the finish line and rarely have I been so relived. I really don't recall the last time I finished a race with so little left in the tank.

I have no regrets on this one. I was in good enough physical shape to do it, but the heat on the run was just too much. Would an on time start have made a difference. Maybe, but I can't say for sure.

In the end, I still met my goal for the race and although there were only 7 people in my age group, I finished fourth. More impressive still, my brother got second!

Race Review:

I like to start with the bad and end with the good. I also want to say up front that the event impressed me enough to come back next year and do it again. Ultimately, there can be no higher praise:

The bad:

Pre-Race Communication: Information about parking, start times, early equipment checks and so on were not posted until very late. I don't know for sure, but I expect that State Park officials may have been a contributing factor to some of this, so I give the race directors a partial pass. Nevertheless, I've yet to see a triathlon that couldn't improve in this area.

Transportation: Again, I expect that spectators and participants were required to enter the park via shuttle bus because park officials did not want the event overwhelming the parking lots. If that was the hand dealt to the race director, that sucks. But it is also their responsibility to make sure there is a viable solution in place. A clear plan about where on the somewhat large Smoky Hill High campus pick-ups were being done, where the drivers were supposed to go and how all of those people and their bikes were going to fit should have been though through well in advance. A meeting with the transportation company, assuming one even happened, should have had all of this addressed.

Rewarding Bad Behavior: I mentioned this in my rant against race directors. Out of concern for the lack of parking, my brother and I took the shuttle and told our families to do the same. Meanwhile, others, including plenty of athletes, parked in the lot right next to transition. We might as well have done the same for all of the enforcement of their own rules.

Overnight Security: I did not see any guards nor did anyone else I spoke to in transition pre-race. That's not to say they weren't there, but a visible presence by security is part of what discourages theft. Fortunately, I have not heard of any bikes being stolen, but there should have been people present to ensure that equipment costing thousands of dollars was well secured. If you can't do that, you should not have the previous day check-in.

Course direction: I personally believe that if you are doing any kind of a race, ride, swim, whatever, you should spend some time studying the course map. This event had maps available in both PDF and on Running Ahead. However, there was one particular intersection that was confusing and I saw some riders going the wrong way. I have no first hand knowledge of this, but was told that they were given bad directions by a volunteer. Four roads come in unevenly to this intersection and its easy to see how one could get confused if they had not ever been there before. I have to ask how hard would it be to get a big piece of poster board and make a sign that says "Cyclists: Do Not Enter"

The good:

Venue: With it's self contained roads, huge lake and abundant running paths, this is an excellent place for a triathlon. The grassy area by the picnic shelter made for a great location for the awards area. The huge parking lot also made for a good transition area while still allowing an easy flow for the finish.

On-course support: The one bad direction scenario not withstanding, I thought the volunteer crew at this one was excellent. There was lots of encouragement and the direction I personally received were good. They also were handing out bottles of water and Gatorade on the bike course which is a first. It's a nice touch. Though I had my own hydration and nutrition with me, the effort was appreciated. There also seemed to be adequate water on the run course (I think only a fire truck pacing me could have kept me cool) and it was always ready. In fact, at the run turn around, the volunteer was asking runners whether they wanted water or Gatorade as they approached and had cups ready.

Value: Entryy fees for the Olympic were only $25 and then each participant had to either raise or donate another $50 for their charity of choice. All in, that's $75 and two thirds of it is deductible. You can't find anything for that cheap anymore!

Fundraising Format: Offering reduced entry fees for raising money for your choice of charities is one of the cooler things I've seen anywhere. I was personally able to raise $325 for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
and the event itself raised $75,000 for various charities. It's a great idea and I hope we'll see more of it. Less important than the money I raised, though also pretty cool, was the insulated water bottle I got for my efforts:

In the time since my finish, I've been enjoying a lot of beer and pizza and doing little else (except writing this blog). I may do some lifting and an easy ride and then, weather permitting, do my final Aquaman on Tuesday. After that, I hope to have some pretty good posts up here. So stay tuned for the Italian Job!

Until then....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Finally! An Aquaman

Two weeks ago I rode my bike from a nearby parking lot into Cherry Creek State Park ready for the third race in the Without Limits Aquaman Series. The weather had been threatening but it looked like it might clear. Unfortunately, large bolts of lightning were spotted just west of the reservoir. No swim and I skipped the 5k. I was there for multisport or nothing at all.

Last week, I sat in my car in the same parking lot and watched very threatening weather move in. The lightning was like something out of a movie. I didn't even bother riding into the park. As the storms continued through the night, I guessed (correctly as it turned out) that the event had been cancelled again.

Yesterday, (now at the third Tuesday in a row for those of you keeping track at home) threatening weather moved in again. As I looked out my back door however, the really bad stuff seemed to be done south in my neck of the woods while the area to the northwest, near the park, was still looking okay.

Much to my dismay, the weather followed me up, flowing from southwest to northeast. By the time I rode to the starting area, the rain had started up and heavy winds were creating white caps on the lake. The buoys had also been pushed around and a couple had partially deflated. Not good.

The race director said, however, that they were going to keep waiting. Like a lot of us with smart phones, they were looking at the radar picture and there was some thought that the cell would move on and we would be able to swim.

So I waited. First I waited in the shelter, then I walked to the grassy area by the beach which is the transition. Then I donned my wetsuit and a light rain started again. Finally, I was about to step into the water and warm up with a few strokes when they called us back in. Thunder.

I kept waiting. I've never actually gotten to the point where my wetsuit was on and the race was called. Everyone waited some more. Then a little more. Finally, around 7:15, the race went forward. It's been three weeks since I've done an open water swim, but there I was in the washing machine along with all of the other long course participants and I actually felt pretty good. I had a decent swim at the local association pool on Sunday, but I often forget how fast you feel in a wetsuit. Almost like you're part fish!

I went through the two 750 meter laps and felt good, albeit just a little tired. I didn't where my watch and the Garmin is not waterproof so at the time, I had no idea how I did. Out of the water and up a slight hill back to transition. There's something about changing from water to land that just jacks my heart rate right up but I stayed loose and got into my socks and shoes.

Since I have the race on Saturday, I decided not to go as hard as I could but I still ended up at about a 9:30 pace on the uphill first half. Turning around I kept it to mostly under 8:30.  I finished strong and for the most part felt pretty good. The left knee is still a little sore but that's not news. It has been for weeks.

When it was all over, it was late, as in after 8:00 in the evening. This is a shot I took about five minutes or so after crossing the finish line:

That's right, it's a sunset.

Apparently, finishing late in the pack means you don't get any food because they were pretty well cleaned out. That necessitated a trip to Chik-Fil-A on the way home. Not exactly training food but I was cold, tired and wet and it hit the spot.

Today, I'm relaxing a little before riding a very easy 10 on the trainer. Then it's rest and hydrate for the rest of the week. There's not much between now and the packet pick-up and equipment check-on on Friday and I'll probably be fairly busy then. I'll post if I get the chance. Otherwise, the next one will be the Creek Streak race report.


Monday, July 25, 2011

My Rant at Race Directors

I am not a race director. I have never been one. Unless I take it up as a hobby after I retire in 15 to 20 years, I don't anticipate becoming a race director. Under all of that, I understand it's a little ballsy of me to direct criticism at these folks, especially because I freely acknowledge that they work very hard at what they do. Nevertheless, I think this stuff needs to be said and as a paying consumer of their product, I think my right to criticize is well established. BTW, I have to give complete credit for this idea to Ray Maker on the DC Rainmaker blog. He's done a similar post here which is worth a read. While my list is (mostly) different, the idea behind it is the same.

So hear goes:

What I don't like:

1. Poor communication: In an age when e-mail, social media and just plain old websites are almost literally everywhere, there's no excuse not to have frequent and complete communication. I'd love to see regular tweets on race day about my aquathalon. No one can control the weather, but sending regular updates (which take all of two minutes to write and post) would be a helpful. Likewise, any pending changes in race day directions. The upcoming Creek Streak said they might be allowing prior day equipment check-in to avoid the issue of taking both racers and their bikes on the shuttle buses. Check the website for more details they said. There are no references yes or no about this. If it can't be done, that's unfortunate, but SAY SO! I can't read your mind.

2. Meager course details: This one is part and parcel with poor communication. When there are several free mapping sites out there such as Map My Run, Running Ahead and my personal favorite, Gmap-Pedometer there's no reason not to have a detailed map of the course including an elevation chart. The Competitor Group who are responsible for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series and the TriRock triathlon series have been especially lacking in this area. The Denver event is in just over two months and there is still no course map. That's absolutely inexcusable.

3. Disorganized Race-Day Logistics: Like it or not, there is very much a cat herding aspect to running a race on race day. Directors are responsible for marshaling both their volunteers and competitors alike. The average crowd of people is just not that bright which means instructions have to be made clearly and often. Pre-race meetings are a really good idea (especially for triathlons) but telling people where they need to be and when is an absolute must. At the Greeley Triathlon in June, a call was made to line up the first half of the swim group for the time-trial-type start, but I never heard a call for the second half. Additionally, when you have several different races going off in rapid succession, which wave is starting needs to be both visually (as in unique bib color) and audibly (as in announcements from a bull horn) clear. I nearly started the wrong wave of the Pueblo Spring Runoff due to this confusion.

4. Slow Results: Electronic timing systems are nearly ubiquitous nowadays, but even if a race can't afford one, there's no excuse not to have results of a morning race posted by the end of the day. Period. Better still is to have preliminary results printed and posted in an easily accessible location at the venue as they come in. The excuses not to have this ready are getting thinner every year.

5. Rewarding Bad Behavior: I'm sure race officials are doing all they can to enforce USAT rules, but there are a lot of things they could do that prior to a race that would reward those of us who make their jobs easier. For starters, give priority parking to those who show up early. We're the ones that have our cars clear of your race course hours before the start. Don't give a priority parking place to the slacker who shows up 30 minutes prior to the gun. I've also seen runs where pre-registered runners get the shaft on their t-shirt while "day of" registrants get the prime pick. Horrible, just horrible.

What I like:

1. High Quality Volunteers: Getting people to come out and give away their time for free is, I'm sure, no easy task. So I'm really impressed by engaged, enthusiastic and helpful volunteers. No doubt, offering incentives like food or a free race entry helps in this department.

2. Tech Shirts: Given the choice between a cotton shirt that my wife probably won't let me wear out most places and a tech shirt that I can use in workouts, I prefer the latter. My guess is so do most people.

3. Finishers Medals: I know there is something to be said for finishing in the top three of your age group or even more impressive, in the overall race. However, most of us don't fall into that category and if we've devoted the time along with the mental and physical effort to complete a triathlon, half marathon, or marathon (fun runs and 10k's are exempt on this one) it means something to have a little piece of hardware to take home.

4. Easy Packet Pick-Up: Whether its on race day or at multiple venues around a larger city, being able to get my packet without driving forever or only at a narrow window makes a difference. Probably no one can come close to the BolderBoulder which allows you to select the nearest Dick's Sporting Goods store, either offering multiple pick-up locations or race-day pickup is a nice thing and I encourage it.

5. Post-Race Entertainment: Whether it is live music, or just an expo with vendors giving away plenty of free stuff, an after-race party supports the notion that you've accomplished something and it is time to celebrate.

So there you have it. My guess is that most people would agree with this list as well as have a few ideas of their own. Race directors should keep this in mind. None of it is too suggest you don't work hard enough, but perhaps one or two of these suggestions will indicate how you can work smarter.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Running at Altitude

I've always prided myself on knowing that most of my runs take place around the 6000 foot mark where my home sits. Denver may be the Mile High City, but I know that unlike most of the city, in Parker I'm always running higher. As a result, when I go somewhere to do a race--even to Boulder, I'm always competing at a lower altitude.

Well today, none of that meant squat. I did a six mile run here in Red Feather Lakes where the minimum elevation was 8200. In addition, hills here in the mountains are, well, mountains!

My parents home up here is surrounded by some particularly steep hills and with the Streak just over a week away, I wanted to avoid anything that would break me down too much. So I drove a few miles down the road to a local elementary school and parked there to start out.

The terrain was variable. I began running on the shoulder of a paved road like this one:

but I also spent more than half of it on dirt roads like this:

By the time I got to less than two miles to go, I was feeling it. In addition to thin air and hills, it was also pretty warm for the mountains, a little under eighty as I ran about. Jumping into a lake like this sounded pretty good.

Yes, that's my finger in the frame. Like I said, I was feeling it.

It was a slow day. I didn't have my HR monitor (I was using a borrowed Garmin FR205) but I worked hard not to exert myself too much. I just wanted to burn off some calories and stay ready. 

I was pretty spent afterwards. But with scenery like this, it's also hard to complain. I've not been a big fan of the weather here in Colorado lately (I did not even try going to Tuesday's Aquaman because the lightning was so bad), but today made me appreciate what a I great place I live in.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Brick# 8

Considering the heat I encountered during last week's brick, I decided I needed to get an early start on Saturday morning. That was before I didn't fall asleep until after midnight. I had to decide between being tired and hot and I chose to be hot. As a result, I was not on my way until about 8:30.

In preparation for the Creek Streak, I did this brick out at Cherry Creek State Park along the same course that the tri will use. I was very pleased to find that while not hill-free, the climbs are significantly easier than what I have been working on near home. There were also a couple of nice flat stretches where I could spin away making good time, but not spiking the HR. I came back into the transition area feeling much fresher than I did a week ago.

Transition went a little slower, but that had more to do with logistics. Specifically, I had to load the bike back into my car before proceeding. I probably could have gone a little faster, but I'll just worry about that on race day. In truth, my delay may make more sense because it's a longer run from the water to the transition area. I think it may take at least a minute from the time I exit the water until I get to the bike.

As I mentioned last week, I started strong, but heat killed me in the end and I ended up running 4.5 of the 5 miles I intended. This time I decided to fight back against the heat by bringing water with me. Same as my long run on Wednesday, the CamelBak came along on this one. It made a difference. Although I was not super thirsty to start out, I started taking water after about 3/4 of a mile and then took it at roughly that interval going forward.

By mile 3.5 or so, I was feeling the same fatigue from a week ago. My pace slowed, my heart rate increased and I began to flirt with the idea of walking (though I knew I had to finish the full distance). While I think my pace got so slow as to be not much better than a walk, I kept going and got back to the six mile point. I was pretty fried by this point (and it was about 85 degrees so no surprise) but I did manage to run the whole thing.

I'm planning on the Aquaman actually happening this Tuesday and on Friday, I have a six mile run in the mountains planned (if I don't pass out from the lack of oxygen). More on that later....

Brick 8 Results:

1) Bike : 22.27 miles, 1:14:27, 17.9 mph average
2) Transition: 3:29
3) Run: 6 miles, 57:55, 9:39 ppm average

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who'll Stop The Rain?

Bad news/good news story today. The bad: another afternoon of heavy rain and severe weather alerts. The good: I got my 45 mile ride in all the same. However, that ride was indoors on the trainer. On the plus side of that, I was able to watch the Tour de France while I did. Kind of cool watching those shots of the riders going over the summit. On a big screen T.V. it almost felt like I was riding along with them. Fortunately, I didn't have to climb those mountains.

Doing a ride outdoors where you have to deal with hills, wind, curves, an so on is definitely my preferred method of training. However, the weather hear in Colorado, especially in the afternoon, has been horrible. It's either ride out in the storms (including lightning--uh, no thanks) or take it inside.

I really need to get my swim in tomorrow so I am keeping my fingers crossed for a break tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

8 Mile

I had to go with that title for this blog. I've also been listening to Lose Yourself on my iPod when I run. That, however, is about where the similarity between Eminem and me ends.

Given yesterday's forced rest resulting from yesterday's cancellation of the Aquaman swim, I had been enjoying three days off from aerobic activity. That was no doubt a contributing factor in the success of today's run.

I'm not a big fan of running in the rain but I do enjoy the cool it provides. So it would have been better to have yesterday's weather today. Not the case, however. It was warm and worse, it was really, unusually humid again. Given those factors, I brought my CamelBak along this time and was glad to have sips of cold water at my disposal.

I took it slow and steady tonight but I think that helped me stay relaxed the whole time and finish the full distance without visions on quiting early dancing in my head. The real test will be tomorrow when I go for a long ride. We'll see how my recovery went.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rained Out!!

For the second time in five days and the third time this summer, the swim portion of my aquathlon has been called on the account of rain--well lightning to be more specific.

This afternoon I was ready to do the third in the Aquaman Series out at Cherry Creek Reservoir but as (bad) luck would have it, lightning was seen in the area. I don't blame them for calling the race, but the lousy weather makes it tough to get my swimming in.

It also wreaks havoc on my training schedule which is now going to be redone and will include only one swim instead of my preferred two.

Fortunately, it looks like things are going to dry out around here in the next few days so I'll be able to run long tomorrow and ride really long on Thursday. That leaves a Friday pool swim and then the third and final brick before the Streak on Saturday morning.

Here's hoping that the weather holds for the next couple of weeks and that I'm truly ready for my first Oly.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Brick # 7

It's been another busy week but less so than the one before. My plan to do the Stroke & Stride on Thursday was aborted by very heavy rain all up and down the Front Range that night. I knew there was trouble when I saw the buoys had not been set up less than 20 minutes before the start. Sure enough, the swim was called. Shortly there after, the rain started coming down heavily so my brother and I decided to bag the whole event.

I managed to get a 1500 meter swim done at the community pool on Friday so that left yesterday for the big work out of the week.

Having done another 40 mile ride up in the Bennett area on Wednesday, I wasn't too concerned about doing the 22 plus mile ride that made up the first part of my brick. It was a local ride so that meant some very big hills again and speeds that ranged from the single digits to just under 40 mph. There was also a stiff breeze blowing out of the south so that made for some difficult stretches.

I was back home in just over an hour and twenty minutes. Not exactly flying but not terrible either considering there were some very long, steep uphills.

I got home and felt like I transitioned reasonably well. I was out in two minutes and if I can do that in a race, I'm feeling pretty good about it.

As usually, I took the early part of the run at a short stride and I felt pretty good. My HR was down in the high 130's and I didn't feel any heat exhaustion. No doubt the breeze was actually helping in that regard.

Making the turn back toward home I began to feel the effects of the heat and the humidity. Folks living near the coasts or in Midwestern states may not think this is much, but because of all the rain we've had here, humidity levels were in the upper 30's which is much higher than most of us around these parts are used to. I was also running back into the sun and my black tri shorts started to get warm along with the rest of me.

By mile four I was sucking wind and feeling pretty lousy. Though I had set five miles as my goal, I allowed myself to stop at 4.5 which is 90% and I think close enough. Had I known how warm I would be, I would probably have run with my CamelBak so I could stay better hydrated. I also think I would have brought two bottles on the bike rather than one.

So another week in the books. While I don't think I'm going to tear things up at the Creek Streak in three weeks, I'm also feeling reasonably good about my ability to do it and to do it in under three hours. Weather is going to be the factor in training again this week. There are storms in the forecast again for Tuesday so we'll see whether or not I get to swim at the third Aquaman. I was fortunate enough to do so last week but the folks swimming the longer distances ended up being called in from the water some time after I had started the run. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Here's the summary of Brick #7:

1) Bike : 22.55 miles, 1:25:09, 15.9 mph average
2) Transition: 2:01
3) Run: 4.5 miles, 42:38, 9:28 ppm average

FYI: barring any unforeseen events, I'm planning on doing next week's brick on the Creek Streak course. Ought to be helpful to see it all first hand.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Race Report - Liberty Run 4 Mile

There was typical July 4th weather for the Liberty Run this morning which is to say it was warm. With yesterday's high in the mid-nineties, it's hardly a surprise that it was still pretty warm this morning. Nice thing about a holiday is that there 's almost no traffic so I got from Parker to Washington Park in short order.

There was no problem picking up my packet and technical shirt (though I wish they would tell you in advance if the shirt was technical so I could get the right size). They were also distributing HydraPouches as this was a cupless race. If you're not familiar with then, they are small pouches that hold about two small cups of water and clip onto your shorts. They are refilled at any water station using a spout that hooks up to a standard water jug. It fills the pouch in a couple of seconds. More on that later.

I managed to arrive early enough to have time to pick up my stuff, but not so early that I had to stand around for a while. That's the way I prefer it.

Wash Park is a great place for a fun run type of event like this one. The scenery is nice, there is lots of shade (important on a day like today) and it's large enough that you can run a four mile race in four loops. It's also adjacent to South High School so that means plenty of parking.

I felt good through the whole race. I wasn't trying for a PR (I still have tomorrow's Aquaman and I'm going to do a Stroke & Stride again this week) but I still kept my pace consistently under the 9:00 mark without having to push it too hard.

There's not much more than that to tell. It was a four mile run, I was in, I was out and it was a good way to start my July 4.

Here's my review:

The bad:

Clarity about shirts - Unlike some other races, this one actually had a decent website including a course map which for some reason seems to be hard to find for certain events. And by that I mean a good, big map (I'm talking to you Rock and Roll Marathon). What the site did not say was that the t-shirt is actually a technical shirt. I'm more than happy to get a shirt I can run in, but I also get them a size smaller than the usual cotton shirt. It would be nice to know in advance.

HydraPouch - Not to be all un-earthy, but for a shorter race like this, the pouch does not make much sense. I'm not a speedster, but I don't want to sacrifice time filling up a pouch to take water (or worse waiting in line to do so). I think this technology makes a lot of sense for longer races (particularly marathons and half marathons) where a few seconds of stopping does not really impact the overall time.

The good:

Timing bibs - My timing chip was a metal strip covered by a foam pad on the back of my bib. No chip, no hassle, just an easy way to be electronically timed. This race was using an outfit called Hallucination Sports for their system. As of this writing, results aren't up yet, but I expect they will track pretty close to what I have on my Garmin. It's a good idea and my guess is you will see more of it in races.

Course - The internal streets in the park are a good venue for a race and they were properly conned off with turns clearly marked. I've done one other race there and it really is a nice place to enjoy a race. It was worth the drive.

Post Race - I've come not to expect too much from smaller races on the post race front but this one had plenty of food and beverage available. No, there was no beer like after the BolderBoulder, but that's kind of a rarity at a race anyway. I did get one of those reusable grocery sacks with some goodies in it and the sack itself has some utility.

I'm usually not around town for this holiday so it's hard to say if I'll be back next year. I may find myself up north. If not, though, I may very well be back for this one. If you live or are going to be in the Denver area on the Fourth, I give this race a recommendation.

Happy Fourth of July everyone and talk to you soon!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Brick # 6

It's been several weeks since I did a brick work out. At least if you define a brick as a bike followed by a run. While it's true I have done a duathlon and a triathlon in between (not to mention a couple of aquathlons) it's still been about two months.

I've been feeling a little tired again this week. Enough so that I scrubbed yesterday's pool swim from my workout. I think that was the right choice. This morning I felt well rested--even if my enthusiasm was not there.

Unlike my last ride up in Bennett, today was around my own neck of the woods so that meant hills. It was a good ride, but I did climb a couple of monsters. The profile looks like a roller coaster:

Considering how hard my Thursday run was, I had some concerns going into the five mile run-portion of today's brick. Fortunately, I felt pretty good. I stayed to a relatively flat course and that helped. I also slowed my pace quite a bit from my usual faster rate for the 5k distance. That helped even more.

Certainly not my speediest day, but it did give me cause for optimism for four weeks from today when I'll be doing the Creek Streak. Tomorrow is just a strength day and then I have the t-shirt run in Wash Park on Monday. Until then....

Brick 6 Results:

1) Bike : 15.62 miles, 58:00, 16.2 mph average
2) Transition: 2:18
3) Run: 5 miles, 48:28, 9:41 ppm average