Monday, October 05, 2009

We Did It - the Little Miami Triathlon

Dave, Molly, and I completed the Little Miami Triathlon yesterday.

Dave rocked the Kayak division for individuals.

Molly and I anchored the team HOT TOMOLLYS.

(Note the HOT TOMOLLY bracelets I made which combine the yellow of Lance Armstrong's Live Strong bracelet with the red of the Share The Road bracelets bikers wear - mixed together to look like a HOT TOMOLLY!)

HOT TOMOLLYS Support Staff
To be successful at anything - you need strong support. To support us - My parents were nice enough to have T-shirts made for our support staff! It was great to have Meghan's parents, Aunts Angie and Julie, and Cousin Casey there to support us!

The event was very well organized for it's size (1,200 participants).

It was my 1st ever triathlon and it was MUCH harder than I anticipated.
I finished in 3:43 (hh:mm) (official time) which is slower than I was hoping, though having gone through the course I know how this happened.

I also tracked everything on the iPhone - my parents were able to watch my progress live in Boston on the web!

The Race
I have to say I found the triathlon humbling, which is intimidating and exciting as I do like a challenge, and this is quite a challenge. There were specifically 2 instances where I just felt like I had nothing else to give - but I'll elaborate on those later. I think mostly what I will take away from the triathlon is that training to run 5.5 miles or bike 18 mi just isn't strenuous enough to mimic the triathlon, and I need to push my training much harder to really be able to enjoy the triathlon. Also the machines you compete against are from another planet - the planet endurance or something.

Canoeing 6 mi [~64 mins]

The canoeing turned out to take longer than I anticipated and it was much harder than I anticipated. I think Molly and I were pretty competitive with our time, not too many people passed us and we passed our fair share so while it was hard, I think our time was OK in this event. It was much harder than I thought because 2 miles in my arms were getting tired. I didn't do anything to train for this event and I feel like I did a good job of sticking it out and only resting for a few strokes here and there towards the end - I was most surprised by how tired I was afterward. I wasn't really too tired but since I was using a Hear Rate Monitor I couldn't do much running at all in the beginning without going over my HR limit. (I spent most of my time training in South Carolina by running 5.5 miles every day and experimentally determining what max heart rate I can maintain and still feel good enough to bike 18 miles afterward and it turned out to be 175 bpm).

1st Transition [~3-4 mins]
I took a little more time than anticipated by changing from canoe shoes to my running shoes. This is in case the canoe dumps you don't have to run in went shoes, though next year to save some time we may try the technique we saw below:

But we also saw a good number of teams dump their canoes in the freezing cold water! People were talking about the "carnage" on the river and I couldn't believe how many people went swimming! So it's not a bad idea to have the back up pair of shoes.

I also took a little bit of time at this transition removing the iPhone from my waterproof holder to my arm band:

Running 5.5mi [64 mins to killer hill]
In hindsight - the running section was probably the one I was most prepared for and went as planned - minus a bio break half way through. I'm not a great distance runner - and this is the event where I was getting concerned as people passed me fairly readily. I passed some of them on my bike later but in general running is an area I need to improve. As I get in better shape I hope to be able to run this faster while still feeling good afterward.

Killer Hill [4-5 mins]
I arrived at killer hill just under the time I practiced the course the week before - and I was feeling very good. So I decided to attacked killer hill.

I'm not sure what got into me, my mind is foggy with memories of people walking the trail moving over for me saying "we have a runner" and visions of me grabbing the railings of the flights of stairs and running up 2 stairs at a time. That was for approximately 1/3 of the hill. I then walked the next part of the hill while my heart rate monitor distinctly read 196 bpm at one point. I had clearly over done it, and on the hill there is no where to take it easy - it's hard just to walk. The final portion of the hill I remember leaning against a tree for 30 seconds as I was trying to catch my breath. A spectator walking down the hill said "you're almost there - keep going!" to which I replied, "this hill's a killer." She didn't seem to recognize my humor and said "I think they call it killer hill!" and I was so tired I only mustered an "I know" in reply. When I reached the top of the hill I lost a lot of time walking over to the bike transition area as I just felt terrible. This would be the 1st of the two instances where I felt like I could just give up on the triathlon and not even care. All of my conservative running to be fresh for biking was just lost in 5 mins or so!

Note to myself: walk killer hill next time!!

2nd Transition [3-4 mins]

I spent a few minutes getting water. One rookie mistake was not taking a bio brake before getting on the bike - but more on that later. I tried not to show Meghan and her family who came how terrible I felt. After biking conservatively for a bit I did start to feel much better - I also drank a lot more water from my water bottle than I thought I would.

Biking [~90 mins]

I conservatively biked out of the park and after a few miles I began to feel a little better. I even began passing people quite regularly, in fact I was passing a lot of people. Only a very few people passed me initially. Every now and then someone who look like a blurry Lance Armstong would wizz past me. Sometimes I was going almost 20 mph and they were probably close to 30 mph. In hindsight I think I biked a bit too hard in the beginning once I began to feel better from the hill.

After about the 6 mi mark I'm feeling pretty good biking, thinking I have a shot at making it under the 3:30 mark I was shooting for. Then I was shifting and my chain came off! I lost maybe 5 mins stopping on the side of the road, trying to get it to catch, and then getting back up to speed from a stop. After this though I was biking at a pretty good speed. The occasional hill would come up and I usually could stay above 10 mph - I sometimes even passed people on hills while the Lance Armstrongs passed me even faster on the hills.

Somewhere after 12 miles I hit another wall. I don't know why - maybe it was the sudden stretch of hills or long slow climbs, or maybe it was the fact that every long straightaway seemed to be upwind. It was pretty windy. I think that was a legit factor that day as you felt like you could almost be pushed backwards if you didn't keep peddling. But (and I'm being serious) it seemed like I'd bike upwind, turn right and then bike upwind again. I an not very good with directions and tend to just bike with my head down - but the number of stretches upwind seemed ridiculous.

I wasn't feeling well, I remember a slow hill where I was going 8 mph (and most people were) and just feeling terrible. This is the second time I thought about just stopping the whole thing - but on a bike you can't (more on that later). I passed a woman who was puking on the side of the road as a chase car was coming to pick her up.

For most of the biking I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I was drinking a lot of water all day and I remember I should have done it before you egt on a bike. But I refused to stop because it wastes SO MUCH time when biking, you have to stop, get off, then start from scratch again to get your momentum. So anyways I ignored it - in hind sight I could have made it to the finish without stopping. But somewhere between feeling terrible biking and the stupid plastic racing seat that was raised a bit too high by the bike shop than where I had it - I just decided I was going to take a bio break and worst case I'd feel a little more rested when I was done. Well it's hard to estimate the damage to your time when you stop biking. I remember seeing people zoom by me and thinking of all the people I had spent so much energy passing earlier who are probably going by me right now.

Note to myself: No stopping while biking! I really look back at this as a moment of weakness because I probably could have made it - I combined my exhaustion and desire to take a bio brake into one really bad idea for a triathlon.

Biking vs Marathon
This bring me to a brief tangent as I was discussing my triathlon at work. Someone asked me if I would run a marathon next thinking it would be a tougher challenge, and while I am sure it is in a sense - the reality is once you are on a bike you are stuck.

In a marathon if you get tired - you walk. And you can reach the finish line eventually, maybe giving up 6-7 mph running for 3 mph walking (I walk at 3.3 ish).

When biking - the distances are multiples of running. And walking your bike is just not a practical alternative. You'll never finish. So I remember my second moment of weakness in the triathlon (the one on the bike) as one of my worst. Im not sure you can have as lonely a feeling in a marathon as struggling up a hill on a bike, peddle after peddle thinking you just cant go any further.

The Big Finish
Well like Dave - I don't remember much after mile 14 of the bike, but I remember rallying and keeping my head down and peddling - mostly in the pack this time. The last mile or so was easy so I cruised into the finish line at 3:43.

If you asked me during the triathlon if I would want to compete in one again I'd probably have said no. If you asked me after I crossed the finish line Id say that I would like to race in the one in June after more training. If you ask me today - I wish the triathlon were next weekend because I learned a lot about strategy and think I could run a better race after having run my 1st triathlon.

The Results
So that's how I was 13 minutes slower than my goal of 3:30. Molly kicked butt and finished in great time. Dave did an awesome job considering he just decided to enter the week of and hadn't trained (that we know of). I hope we all do it again in June. In the meantime it will be fun to keep training (I hope!)

Extra Pics:

Me and a celebratory coke!


Molly (she doesn't even look tired!)


Meghan said...

Great job out there husband! The cats and I are so proud of you! :)

Karen said...

i still think you are CRAZY for doing this at all. holy cow.

appreciated the honest reflection on the event - even the low points.

sure you want to do this in JUNE when it's hot!?

Martha said...

That's awesome, great job!

Good luck on your next one!

Anonymous said...

Awesome job guys and thanks for the play by play summary!


Michelle said...

I agree with Karen - you're crazy .. but on the other hand, thanks for excercising on our behalf - really appreciate it! Also LOVE the "HOT TOMOLLY" name and bracelet - sooo clever!

Anonymous said...

Great recap, great pictures, great job!! :)

-Cousin (Casey)