Blogs tagged with "spring"

Race morning sunrise in Brighton, MI

And just like that, my first triathlon of 2014 is done. And forgotten. OK, maybe not forgotten. But it's done. And lessons have been learned.

As my first triathlon of 2014 - in fact, my first tri since London last September - I chose one close to home (only a three-hour drive) on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in order to allow two more days of training without having to be at work. The race that fit the bill was the

Do you believe this guy?

And then it happened. No, I didn't get caught by the women. I got caught by a pack of guys drafting the entire race. At every turnaround, I noticed a pack of about five men who were riding just like that: as a pack. Like, in a diamond shape. All within about two feet of each other. They caught me with about three or four miles left, when the bike course passed by the start for the final short out-and-back.

At first, it didn't bother me. I wasn't racing them, I was racing the women. But when they slowed down, and I got caught up in it, I had to pass them again to keep it legal (which I did). The next thing that happened made me angry. At least one of them stayed in my draft zone - he never dropped back far enough (breaking the USAT rule) before reattempting to pass. I kept glancing back (he was on my left side) as if to say "drop back." But he decided to hang out at my side - not passing - just drafting away. It was then that I saw Jim with the camera, so I pointed to the guy (see photo) and yelled "do you see this?" At that moment, another drafter started to pass me on my right (unbeknownst to me, and not legal either). The guy on my left started yelling at me to get over to the right so he could pass - and I came within inches of crashing into the guy on the right.

THAT'S when I lost it.

I started screaming at all of them for drafting. I think I must have carried on screaming for about a half mile (Jim said he could hear me). I don't remember what came out of my mouth but it wasn't pretty. Or ladylike. (The words "idiot" and "jerk" come to mind - I sincerely hope I didn't resort to flinging cuss words.) As each one passed, I do remember saying "you're ALL CHEATING." I suspect some of my verbal outburst was inspired by the girl who called out another girl in London for drafting off me. I mean, seriously, if refs aren't going to do it, someone has to.

I came into T2 still ranting, and Jim apparently felt the need to calm me down. He told me to focus on MY race and let it go. I tried. But I was determined to chase them all down.

And after a short struggle with my running shoes (it was a shakedown race!), I was off. I forgot to hit the lap button on my Garmin on the way INTO T2 (because, as you know, I was ranting), But I remembered to hit it on the way out.

I thought I hit it.

First loop of the run, still smiling

What I actually pressed was the stop button. And I realized it about a half mile into the run. Too many watches with too many buttons in too many different places. I wanted to scream but instead I settled for 5.5 miles of splits.

And even though I wasn't running as fast as I could because there were no women to chase, I managed to hunt down and pass all the cheaters. Quietly. I wish I were bold enough to have laughed as I passed them knowing I started three minutes behind them. But I just ran and didn't look back.

In the end, seeing I had a good lead at the turn-around, I kind of lollygagged (Jim's word to describe my run) my way through the 10K - again, a two loop course, some cross-country, with a few substantial hills. I wasn't completely satisfied with my time, but it was hard to argue against a fun race with great weather and a nice course for a first race of the year. And the awards were awesome: a bottle of two-buck Chuck, a couple gift certificates and a really nice New Balance tech tee. Despite my issues with drafters, you can't beat this race venue for an early-season triathlon in the midwest.

And after the race, we had a chance to meet up with some friends we've not seen in several years. A great start to a holiday weekend.
Gotta love a race with wine awards.

Falling on ice is nothing compared
to falling on pavement.

It's been almost two weeks since my last blog entry but I've really not had much to say. Spring 2011 has brought several weeks of continuing cold rain and snow to the Cleveland area and I have had to remain on my bike trainer for most of my rides. I've also been spending extra time at work in the evenings which translates into very late workouts and no time to write about them. The most significant things to report about the last two weeks are an increase in anxiety about Ironman St. George and a couple near-disasters during my runs in the dark.

I've been focusing on the bike-run transition -- which basically means I've decided that anytime I have bike and run workouts on the same day, I'll do it as a brick. The first one of these short bricks (and by short, I mean 2-4 hours) came a couple weeks ago in the evening. After a longer-than-average work day, I got on my CompuTrainer for two hours and followed it up with a one-hour run.

Everything was going especially well during that run. Temperatures - at night even - had reached near heat-wave status at 38 degrees, and I took off out the door in shorts for the first time in months. My legs were surprisingly "springy" after the ride, so I continued to run hard for several miles around the back roads in my neighborhood. In the dark at night, I usually stay on sidewalks because, not surprisingly, I've found that drivers don't expect to see runners out on the roads at 10 pm. (Seriously, why else would they be driving 50+ mph in a residential area and blowing through stop signs?)

So, yeah, I was running on the sidewalk.. when a forgotten dimension of winter's damage tripped me up, literally. The sidewalk pavements had shifted badly, and I ended up almost doing a face-plant on concrete. I felt more stupid than hurt, and I got up quickly, surveyed the damage to my knee, and started running again. By the time I got home, my leg looked like the photo above.

Six days later, the same thing happened. AGAIN. I went down the same way, on the same side. The only thing that wasn't the same was the sidewalk I was running on. So now I have scrapes and bruises on top of scrapes and bruises, and my arms feel like I've been doing heavy lifting. My right elbow is so badly bruised I can't lean on anything. (The bright side is that it keeps me alert and in good posture while at my desk at work).

The other equally-ridiculous thing I've done in the past two weeks was a 100-mile ride on the CompuTrainer - most of it on the IM St. George Real Time course. It gave me yet another data point in the IMSG analysis. This one was the best yet, although it wasn't as good as I had hoped after all the hard training I've done. The most important accomplishment of this ride wasn't the power output anyway, it was the mental fortitude I had to stay on the trainer for almost six hours - a personal record.

Here's a plot of my best three finishes on the IMSG course (and yes, it does bother me that one of my best rides is from waaaay back in February):

My best three rides on the CompuTrainer IM St. George Real Time Video Course
The darkest line is the latest ride and best average power.

This week, I'm planning a time trial on the CompuTrainer to determine if my FTP (Functional Threshold Power) value has changed at all from January after completing the 12-week CompuTrainer challenge workouts my team was taking part in. After all the training, I'm expecting it to be higher, but lately, I've gotten the distinct impression I'm never going to get any stronger on the bike, no matter what I do. But I'll let the proof be in the TT.

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