Tuesday, September 17, 2013

YMCA Mini-Tri Race Report

Heats were color-coded. Blue means the sexy heat
I have found that I enjoy all levels and types of triathlon. I loved the intensity and busyness of the Half Ironman and, at least in the beginning, the Honolulu Triathlon. But the kicked-back, just for fun-style races have so much charm. No pressure, everyone is smiling and talking to each other, lots of new athletes with First Race Jitters at the beginning at The Swollen Chest of Accomplishment at the end. It's great fun.
The YMCA Mini-Tri last weekend was very much the second type.
First of all, of course it's kicked back. The Y isn't what you think of when you think of intense competition. I emailed the race director a few times prior to the race with questions and she was able to respond to me that day, sometimes within minutes. That kind of athlete service is awesome.
The race was only $25 and it showed. I do not mean that in a bad way. It didn't look cheap or feel cheap. It just wasn't an expensive race. It was a $25 race for which I got a t-shirt and lunch. That's the best deal for a race ever.
Because they didn't want us riding through busy streets the order of the tri was inside out. First we swam (they said) 500yds in the Y's 25yd pool. That's a first for me, I've never done a pool tri before. Then we ran the (they said) three miles to T2, where our bikes had been dropped off that morning. From there we rode (they said) 10 miles as an out-and-back, finishing back at T2.  Messing with the order was kind of nice for me, since it meant I got the run out of the way early before I wore my legs out riding. I've found it's easier to ride out of shape than to run. And out of shape I very much am.
The Y is a five minute walk from our apartment, and the meeting time was a wonderful 8am, with my actual start being at 9am. Which meant I could get up at a reasonable time and ride my bike out to T2 to drop it off, since it was only 3 miles away. Super Awesome Wife and Dirtbag Baby met me there and drove me back to the Y. This was nice because we haven't bought a collapsible bike rack for the car. We don't have a couch yet. Priorities.
The race meeting revealed how small the race actually was, with maybe 50 participants all together. That was actually a great thing because, spread out over three heats, it meant the pool wouldn't be too full while I was swimming. I'd probably have to just split a lane.
Nope! Even better, I got my own lane when my turn came. The swim was a planned 500yds, or as they put it, "10 laps." No, it's 20 laps, a lap is one way, but whatever. We had lane counters to double check us and keep times. I did a few warm-up laps, felt great, and was ready.
Cheering Daddy Dirtbag on!
And went out waaaay too hard. I don't know what I was thinking, but I took out that first 100 in probably a 1:05. I was cooking. I should not have been cooking. I should have been cruising. I don't know the last time I swam. And I immediately knew what I'd done. Everything started tightening up and I focused on maintaining a good stroke for the remainder of the swim. I hit the wall at 500yds and stood to get out. My timer said, "You have one (two) more laps." No, no I don't. I can count. But rather than complain I ducked back in to the water and did two more.
I know she was wrong and I'm not that irritated. It didn't cost me a win and it's not a big serious race. But the people in the last heat who were in my lane also had to do two extra laps. They came to me, I didn't come to them. So our counter counted wrong. Small grumbles.
Before the race we figured Super Awesome Wife would watch the swim, then get in the car with the boy and drive to T2 to see me off on the bike and at the finish. But then we talked to the race director and asked if I could run with the B.O.B. and the boy. She said sure, no problem. Yay! Baby's first triathlon! His fourth race overall. This kid can't stop doing races. So T1 was cap and goggles off, shoes, visor, and watch on, kiss wife, check boy (she put him in while I was swimming), and away I go with the stroller. Fun fun!
Doing my swim too fast too soon thing

Ready to race! Vroom!
 I like running with him, and he likes being in the stroller. Well, he falls asleep or chats to himself the whole time, but he likes it. He fell alseep by the time we got to T2.
I was first out of the water, and ran alone for about a mile before anyone caught up. I wouldn't have run fast anyway, but the stroller slows me down a little more. Luckily, the run was flat, so it wasn't that tough. We had a nice little run. My Garmin said it was 2.5mi. Informal races don't track distance exactly. Whatever, a shorter run is better for me.
I got to T2, handed off the now sleeping tiny human to the Super Awesome Wife, switched shoes, got my helmet, and got on my bike.
Here we come!

Racing is hard work

I mentioned the race was informal, right? This was T2
 The way out for the first few miles looked nice and easy. Then we made a left (which I missed and had to brake hard and turn around for because the volunteer wasn't easy to see), and suddenly there were rollers. Had I been in shape I would have loved this part. None of the climbs were long, they weren't terribly steep, I would have been pounding up. Instead, I'm out of shape and I huff and puff and get up out of the saddle for the first one and grumble through the others. At least they were rollers, which meant there was always a downhill to balance the up.
During the run I was passed by three people, and I caught two of them on the way out. I also kind of let me Garmin get in my head. I was expecting 10 miles, but we passed five miles and no turn around. I shouldn't be surprised, the other distances weren't exact, but I let myself be concerned I'd read the sheet wrong and it was a ten mile out and ten mile back, which would have been reaching into a little suck by the end. No, we turned around at about seven miles, at the end of one last bounce climb.
*EDIT- I just got a look at my Garmin data. Apparently, kept looking at the Total Distance reading, not the Bike Distance reading. The bike was 9.1mi. So...take that, me who doesn't know how is watch works* 
The ride back was more downhill, I guess the way out even when it felt flat wasn't, because the back end was easier. I also almost got hit by a car on the way back, which was nice.
I was heading towards an intersection at the bottom of a slight rise, so I was down in aero and zipping. The volunteer said nothing about, "Hey! Car! Watch out!" I didn't see him standing in front of the car to stop him. Nope, we got to the intersection at about the same time, the car deciding to make a right that would cause he and I to occupy the same space at the same time. I braked hard, swerved a little, and got around him with no more than a little fear pee. Put it out of my mind and finished the race. There was one guy in my heat I hadn't caught and though I could see him I was never able to reel him in. Still, finished hard, felt worn out afterwards, and had a good time.
Hard charging to the finish!

Too fast for the camera!
 After the race we hung out in T2, cheering on other finishers and talking story with other athletes. A lot of the people weren't regular triathletes, they did this one every year, and maybe one other one and that's it. Cool to meet them.
Once the last triathlete passed the finish line Super Awesome Wife put tiny human in the car and drove back to the Y for food and prizes, and I rode the 2.5mi back. We hung out, met a couple of other people because the small boy is the friendliest and most adorable person in any room, and made friends. One of the women we ended up talking to for a while was a mother of six, 40-something, and had wanted to do a tri for a long time. She had signed up, then gotten injured and missed one a year ago, so this was her first. She was glowing. So happy with how she did. "It hurt, and I loved it." Her tiny people and our tiny person played on the floor.
I really enjoyed this race regardless of the weird distances and the CAR and I'm going to keep an eye out for more like it. I'll be sure to do it next year.
Happy family post-race

Athletes chilling out

Swim- 8:10
Run- 27:17
T2- 0:45
Bike- 33:13
Total- 1:10.29

Monday, September 9, 2013

YMCA Mini-Tri

I have registered for yet another I'm-Out-Of-Shape-So-I-Should-Race triathlon! Because I like racing and there aren't a ton of local tris. Also, the start for this one is literally a five minute walk from the house.
It's a sprint, but they are calling it a mini. I guess it is more mini than most sprints because the bike is only 10 miles instead of 12-15 like most sprints. The swim is still 500yds and the run 3mi. But it will be different for me for two reasons.
One- the order is screwy. It will go Swim, Run, Bike. I don't know if that helps me. I don't think I've ever gotten on the bike after a run.
Two- It's a pool swim. I don't know how this is going to work and I haven't gotten any emails yet detailing what the deal is. I registered for the Intermediate wave. Yes, I've done a ton of races and should probably be in the Advanced wave. BUT, I haven't been in the water to work out or race since...ummm, probably the Honolulu Tri I'm guessing? And my first bike ride since before we moved back to the mainland happened Saturday, it was 10 miles, and it was slow. So if Advanced means Advanced, I don't belong there. If Advanced isn't actually advanced and I'm out of shape but still too quick for Intermediate because I know how the race works then I'm going to feel bad. I'll ask when I get emailed by the Race Director.
You know what's really cool about the race? I'll tell you.
It's $25.
$25 for a sprint tri. With a t-shirt. AND they are going to feed the athletes afterwards. With food from the Olive Garden. So for a third of the price of races in Hawaii I get to knock out a short, easy tri. I'm excited. If my recent runs are any indication it's going to hurt. Not as much as the half marathon I have the weekend after will hurt, but it'll still hurt.
But in a good way.

OH! Hawaiian triathletes, one more thing- It starts at 8am. Yep, no dawn patrol for me! Now you say, "Yes, but you're swimming in some pool and we swim in the ocean." Then I say, "...shut up."

Friday, August 23, 2013

I Wrote a Book!

Hey everybody!
I wrote a book. It's called He's the Weird Teacher. It's not about fitness, though there is a metaphor involving triathlon. It's about teaching, and if you are at all interested in teaching, or are a teacher, or have a child who knows a teacher, you should read it. Please follow THIS LINK to the He's the Weird Teacher blog for more information about where to buy it. Also, if you look up in the corner of this blog you'll see links to the book as well. It's currently only available in ebook, but the paperback will be released soon.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

DF 2.0- Oregon Edition

I am running, I swear.
I'm not updating much right now. We do not have internet yet in our new apartment. We scheduled and it will take a week for them to flip the switch or plug in the whatsit or whatever it is that they do to make internet magic happen. So this update comes from my classroom, which has wifi. I'm taking a well-deserved break from set-up to let anyone who list reads this know what is going down in Dirtbag Fitness Land.
The Rogue Run 1/2 Marathon is hanging over my head, which is great because it keeps getting me outside on my feet. I finally unpacked my Box 'O Fitness Gear as well, so yesterday was my first VFF/Garmin run in months. I went about 3.3mi in about 33 minutes, because I'm not quick but I'm consistent when I'm slow.
It's freaking hot here right now. I went for my run at 5:30 at the phone said it was still 89*. Different hot from Hawaii though. Much drier here, and that is an adjustment. Even drier than where I was running in Washington, which was right on the water. I'm learning the area around the house, and running is a great way to do that. The bike has been put together too, so I'll head out for a ride on it soon and explore slightly farther out.
A lot of stuff is closer than it seems. We live pretty much right in downtown Medford, so the main drag isn't far from the house, and there is a mall and a movie theater and a bunch of parks within walking distance. That means I'm crossing streets and waiting at lights, so yesterday I would turn whichever way meant I didn't have to stop. Hard to get lost, because I'm not going far from the house yet. And it's crazy flat, so climbing will have to be searched out. There are running groups here that I'll probably hook up with once I'm not embarrassed by my endurance. Same with the cycling groups. I don't see myself riding or running with a big group often, but it will be a good way to make friends and meet people. And find events.
The worst part about working out here right now, worse than the dry heat, is the smoke. There are a bunch of forest fires all over the Southern Oregon area and some days the smoke obscures the mountains in the distance. Some days it obscures the trees down the block. I'm not all about running in heavy fire smoke, so we'll see what happens on the bad days. I think even the lower levels of smoke I was getting yesterday impacted my run.
Feel stronger though. I'm happy that I'm getting out, I'm checking the box, I'm breaking a sweat and bringing the soreness.
I won't have the mileage you're supposed to have by the time the half gets here, but I should have built up the mental toughness again that it'll take to suffer through.
Welcome to Dirtbag Fitness 2.0- Oregon Edition.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Rogue Run- Rogue River Half Marathon

Here's the deal-
I'm not training like I'd like. But I didn't have an event to train for. Plus we've been moving and moving and moving.
Well, we finally found an apartment in Medford, OR, where I will be teaching third grade. Which meant it was time to start digging for events. And, wouldn't you know it, it looks like there aren't ANY local triathlons. Everything will be a drive and probably an overnight stay. But there is a running club and a cycling club, so I'll be visiting them as soon as I get settled in.
To get myself some motivation the Super Awesome Wife saw that there was a half marathon upcoming and she suggested I register. Cost for late reg- $55. Coming from Hawaii, I'm going to be amazed at low prices of things for a while, and that wasn't something I could pass up.
I'm officially in training for the Rogue Run- The Rogue River Half Marathon. We'll see what I can get up to in six weeks. I'll be alright. It'll hurt. There will be walking. But it will get did.
More coming soon.
Also, my book will be out soon. Please head over to my other blog, He's the Weird Teacher, and check out all that good information.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Running With the Boy

 Roland and I went on our first run today.
We have the B.O.B running stroller and we've used it on plenty of walks and even a few races, but it had never been taken on a run. At first it was because the little boy was too small, and then because things got busy, so today I finally was able to get him into the stroller and get out on the road. I need to run more, he needed to be out of the house, it all worked out.
There's nothing special about getting the tiny human ready to run. I probably should have put socks on him because it was later in the day, but other than that its make sure he's changed, strap him in, and get to the gone.

There is a steep hill right at the end of the street we are living on and I admit, I couldn't run all the way up it pushing the stroller. I'm not in great shape right now, and I guess the extra 20lbs wasn't helping. But once the road leveled out (and by "leveled out" I mean "turned into shallow rollers for the rest of the first mile") I was doing fine and we were chugging along.
Roland loves the stroller and never complains. The front shade was pulled all the way down but with the way the sun was setting it got in his face anyway. So he closed his eyes and turned his head. Which put him to sleep. And he slept the rest of the run. Because dad is boring when he's running.

I even got to listen to music while I was running and he didn't care, slept right through it.
The hardest part of running with a stroller is adjusting to the single arm pump rather than the double. Gotta push the stroller somehow. I've seen people running with their strollers with both hands on the handle, but that's just not comfortable. It's like being on the treadmill trying to take your heartrate with the metal plates that never work right. It's not an effective way to run. So instead I alternated pushing with my left and right hands, though I suppose that will get easier as I get used to running while pushing.
The stroller didn't make running in general harder, save for the inclines and declines. Going downhill isn't my favorite thing anyway, but it is tougher when gravity and the stroller and pulling me down. Still, we did all right.
Not the fastest run in the world, but they never are with me. At least where I'm running is pretty. And the company was nice.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm Trying, Plus A Lot of Book Stuff So Please Read

I've been slacking hard here for a while now and I swear I'm going to get better at it again soon. Things have been crazy with the move and the baby and the job hunt and the excuse-making.
I am still training, though not as often or intensely as makes me happy. I feel slow and out of shape and the journey back to fitness won't be fun, but it will be good for me.
As I write this I'm in Southern California after a week in Las Vegas for the SDE National Teacher's Conference, where I presented a talk called Discovering Seuss: Using the Good Doctor in Your Classroom. So add that to the excuses- I wrote a presentation I had to give in front of a bunch of teachers at a national conference. It went great, thank you for asking, and I hope I got some networking done while I was there.
I did get a mini-workout in while in Vegas. I meant to get two or three but I spent the second night tossing cookies all night. No, I don't drink so it wasn't that. I think it was something I ate and it ruined me. Wasn't feeling up to a run for a bit after that. I did get to the hotel gym and got my run on for a tiny little bit. The dreadmill is worse every time I step on. So boring. I could have run outside, if you think running down The Strip sounds like a great idea before you take into account the 110* temps. So I got a short run in, then I felt weak so I rode the stationary bike for a while, then I did some pull-ups on the crappy gym supported pull-up machine. It was enough to get a sweat going, but not much else. At least it was something. Still love my Altra 3-Sums. Totally comfortable. Looking forward to more road runs.
I have been writing though. I've got a book 98% finished and itching to be sent to my indie publisher. It's not about working out, then I would have been talking it up here. It's about teaching and it's called He's The Weird Teacher and other things students whisper about me. It has a blog, because that's what I do, so if you go there the info is laid out as well as some excerpts. That's the biggest reason I've been slacking here. Any writing time I get goes to the book and the presentation. Now that the presentation is over and the book is just about put to bed I can spread my energy differently again.
I'm very excited about He's the Weird Teacher and I think it's really good. I'm not the best judge of my own work, so I also have it on good authority from people who have no vested interest in blowing smoke at me that it's good as well. I'll be, like I said, going through an indie publisher which means zero advertising. Which means I'll be talking it up huge all over the interwebs and I'll be asking for your help. The price point for the digital download is going to be crazy cheap, making it a no-risk buy for most people. I'm going to need friends to start the ripple and tell people who will tell people who will tell people. I'm going to be asking for lots of amazon.com reviews, because that moves books up lists. I'm going to be asking for tweets and retweets and Facebook posts and Google+ shares and pins and whatever else you can think of that will get He's the Weird Teacher out there into the world. It's still a few weeks away, but it's coming.
I never ask for money on this site, I just leave the donation button up there and don't mention it, but if you have a few bucks to drop in the bucket to help with the publishing costs it would mean a lot. I know we're all tight, and I don't like asking, but with the situation we are in right now it would be helpful. This isn't a kickstarter and I don't have special stretch goals and prizes, but I promise to do something awesome for anyone who can kick in a couple of bucks. I haven't put a donations link on the book website because it...doesn't feel like it belongs there. I want people going to that page to read about the book and follow links to buy it. I don't want people going there and seeing a donate button next to the page where I'm asking them to spend money on a product. But for the next little bit anything going into the Donate button up there will be split between triathlon stuff (which I still need, my tri suit is way old) and book stuff. I hate this paragraph, but it never hurts to ask for a little help with something and I deeply believe in. He's The Weird Teacher is good (I promise) and want to give it the best possible chance to succeed.
So I'm still swim/bike/running, just not as often as I should and it's making me soft around the middle. I'm getting back on that horse. I'm doing a lot of writing. And I'm hoping for lots of love when the book finally hits.
Thanks a lot!

OH! One more thing-

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Altra 3-Sum Shoe First Take

I'm going to go ahead and start by saying, Wow, I'm so far behind and I've been really bad at keeping up the blog. I have excuses! We moved from Hawaii to the mainland last week and there has been lots going on. I've got a relay to write a report on still and the packing of my bicycle, though I may wait on that and do a massive packing/unpacking post.
But today I'm going to jump right into the present with my newest piece of tri gear- The Altra 3-Sum.
I can hear you asking, "But Dirtbag, you're all about the super-minimal. You love and worship your Vibram Bikilas." That's still true, my attentive reader. However, I've been feeling for a while now that variety is good and occasionally a little more padding would be nice. The last few months I've been in shoe search mode, looking for the best possible option. I thought I'd found it with the New Balance Minimus Road, but those turned out not to be for me. Good shoe, not for me. Then moving got moving and I put shoe shopping on hold until we hit the mainland. That was a better choice anyway, since there is one shoe store on the island I like (Runners HI). While Runners HI is great, they don't have the widest selection in the world. Shopping online is great too, but for shoes it's difficult since I'm very particular about what I put on my feet. My online go-to shopping solution is OptimalRun.com. They are crazy friendly and very helpful.
Like I said, I'm particular about my shoes, and I didn't know what I wanted. Optimal Run has an awesome feature where you fill out a form and they get back to you within a few days with shoes recommendations. So I put in that I'd be doing triathlons predominantly, I want zero-drop, light, and minimal. I told them I'm used to the Five Fingers but want a little more padding, not Nike-levels, but some cushion for the longer runs. I also mentioned that Van Halen was better with DLR.
Shortly an email from Optimal Run came in with two suggestions, including a YouTube link to a suggestion video. Optimal said I should try the Altra 3-Sums or the Inov8 Road X-treme 138. I hadn't heard of the Altras so I hit the googles. They have kick ass reviews, and that got me really excited. I was nervous about the stack height, since it's so much bigger than what I'm used to at 18mm, but I wanted to give them a shot. As for the Inov8's, that's a brand I've been looking at for a while. Looks like Optimal knows me well.
I didn't buy the shoes from Optimal Run. I strongly suggest you go check them out when you're in the market for new kicks. I feel kind of bad I didn't give them my money, but like I said, I want to put the shoes on my feet before I buy them. "But Dirtbag," you say. "Why didn't you try them on, figure out if you liked them, then buy them online?" That's an excellent question with a two-part answer. The first part is that like the genius I am I packed both pairs of Bikilas.
Like in a box.
That is on a boat.
I have no running shoes. I need running shoes. Which brings me to the second part of my answer- the store I went to was also awesome.
Runners know that specific brands of running shoes aren't easy to get. You can't, as many in-laws suggested, just go to Sports Authority or REI and pick up a pair. You must go to a Running Store, run by runners for runners. I went a Altrazerodrop.com and used their fancy handy dandy store locator to locate a store near me. Bam, store 28 miles away called Born To Run. Hey, that's the name of the book that started this whole thing!
Actually, it's a store started by one of the guys in the book! Wheels within wheels. We went in and I said to the nice lady working there, "I want to try on Altra 3-Sums, do you have them?" She said, "Yep, what size?" And like that we were off. Such a friendly store. Mary (I think that was her name) was crazy helpful and friendly. She let me take the shoes for a short test run around the block.
I was in love. Immediately. There was no hmmm about it. These kicks are kickin'. Comfortable, flexible, some ground-feel, good padding, no shifting. I got my size right on the first try. AND the colors are killer cool.

The Altra 3-Sums are built for triathlon specifically. I didn't wear socks when I went to the store because I wasn't going to be running all the time with socks on, so I needed to know how they felt. Felt great.
They have the pull tabs in the front and on the heel for a quick T2, along with zip laces. During my first run yesterday after I brought them home I had to stop and loosen up the right foot. I had the zip much too tight. Didn't want any rubbing and I over-compensated.
My stride from VFFs to 3-Sums didn't have to change at all. I'm pretty good at the mid-foot stride by now, and it felt natural in the new shoes.

I've only run about three miles so far. I, of course, packed my Garmin too so I'm not positive about the distance, but that feels right. I look forward to lots more runs in the 3-Sums.
I paid $130 for them, thank you Background Profiles, most awesome sponsor! That might seem like a lot to you, but according to the Grey $130 for a threesome, let alone a pair, is pretty cheap.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Honoulu Tri '13 Race Report

Here we are, my last and final triathlon in Hawaii. Also, the only race I've done three times as a solo. Also, the worst run I've ever had during a race (save maybe 2011's Ko'Olina Sprint). But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I registered for Honolulu ages ago, back when the early registration price was still reasonable. I figured I needed to do it, even if I wasn't trained up. This was before Dirtbag Baby was born, so I didn't yet realize how much my training was about to be impacted. Which was a lot.
I barely trained for this race. Barely barely barely. I hadn't really been in the water. I'd done a few rides over 25 miles, but not much over and not often. I hadn't run further than 3.5 miles since probably the Honu. I was not ready. If you went back and told 2011 me how I was preparing for this race he'd have freaked out. I was training like crazy back then. Not so much.
That meant mentally I was in a completely different place come Sunday morning. I talked about this in my last two race reports- I felt no pressure to perform at all. I was putting no expectations on myself other than finish the race and try to enjoy it. I knew it was going to hurt. I also knew that as far as courses go it is pretty easy. The swim is in a protected lagoon (basically, it's not really a lagoon). The ride is as flat as you can ask for, and not in a typically windy part of the island. The run is even flatter than that, and there is pretty decent shade. I can get through this on minimum training as long as I do it right. The big question was how long would it take for that lack of preparedness to catch up to me? Hopefully not until the run, because if I bonked on the bike I'd be miserable.
Dirtbag Mom was on island to visit with us and (mostly) Dirtbag Baby, so she drove us down to Ala Moana park Sunday morning, dark and early. Tiny human was so good the whole day. It was crazy early for all of us and we weren't sure how he would react to getting up and going in the car like that but he was great. Slept, no fussing, just a good boy.

I was feeling good, found Diesel and The Grey prior to the start, so we got to chat a little. Nice to have friends at the race with you. The Grey was complaining about his Achilles tendon, saying he'd probably have to walk the course so he didn't injure himself before the Honu. And Diesel was at the tail end of a cold that had knocked him on his ass all week. We were a couple of right strong triathletes, us. 
There were technical difficulties before the off, so we didn't get to hear the national anthem or Hawai'i Pono'i, the Hawaii state song, and I thought that was a bummer. I'm not a big fan of nationalistic chest thumping, but those songs start big events. They just do. We did get thirty seconds of silence for Boston, which I liked. And which was almost observed in silence, but not quite. Not quite because, well..ok, let's do this now.
The Honolulu Triathlon has become quite the travel race for Japanese triathletes. More and more visitors come every year to compete with us. Probably because the course is beautiful. Probably because they like coming to Hawaii anyway. Probably because they get some kind of deal- there are entire sections of the race staging area set up specifically for Japanese athletes. And I have no problem with Japanese athletes, I don't. I have a problem with the race becoming geared away from the people who live in Hawaii and towards the people who fly in for the race. This isn't a complaint about having everything translated into Japanese- I don't care. I really don't. America doesn't have a national language and I want everyone to know what's going on. But I no longer feel catered to when it comes to the Honololo Triathlon. I'm not the target athlete, but I'm the one who lives here. I'm the one here doing every other event the race director puts on. So when Japanese athletes do a cheer during the thirty seconds of silence for Boston I'm a little irritated. Don't believe me that the race is becoming more focused on Japanese imports than locals? Here is the race shirt from this year-
See? Look closer.
 Really look at it.

If you've ever ever been somewhere surrounded by tourists from that little island nation you know light blue and pink (PINK!?! ON BLUE?!? WITH YELLOW!?! WTF?) is their jam. It's the ugliest race shirt I have.
Anyway, there are a lot of Japanese racers here. They race differently than American racers do. They bunch. A swim start is always a washing machine mosh pit of bodies, and I like fighting through that and finding open water. But the numbers of guys in my wave made that very difficult. Not to mention (ok, this and one more complaint about Japanese athletes- I hope I don't sound racist because that's not it) they all wore their wetsuits. Now, according to USAT rules the water temperature was a wetsuit legal 77*. Except there was no way the water was that cold. I think the race director fudged the numbers because all those paying customers flew their wetsuits all the way to Hawaii and he didn't want to tell them to take 'em off or be ineligible for medals (not that we got medals, ohh I have so much to complain about I guess. Quick version in this tangent within a tangent- The Race Director, who nobody likes, has decided the event is going green. That means no awards for anyone but the overall winners. If you won your age group he will email you your certificate and personalized picture. Yeah, fucking digital awards for a race you paid nearly $200 to register for. Fuck that guy.). Anyway, wetsuits make crappy swimmers better because they float. That means crappy swimmers get in the way more.
I seeded myself near the front of my wave on the beach, mostly because I didn't want to get stuck behind too many people. Fidget, wiggle, shake, check goggles for the 12th time, wait- GO! The elite wave got a gun. We got a guy yelling at us. Whatever.
And I immediately got converged upon. This mass start was much more full than I remember from the last two years. Maybe because the last two years I was more confident in my swim so I charged harder right away. Either way, lots of bodies dropping to swim right in front of me, then standing back up, then dropping again. In my way. Come on, fellas, get on with it. There was probably 75 yards of this foolishness before we actually were able to get under-weigh.
It took longer than normal to find open water, and I spent quite a lot of the swim out right next to a dude who liked me a bunch. He didn't swim straight, so we kept bumping into each other. There's a difference between drafting and actually sitting on someone's hip, but he didn't know that. We were friends.
I chilled the swim out for the most part, concentrating on keeping a strong, steady, smooth stroke. Not spending too much energy, just get it done. Keep the heart rate under control and swim straight. The turn-around came quicker than I expected and I was feeling good. But I had forgotten about salt water chafing. Oh, the chafing. Right in the armpits it grinds and grinds, making the skin there raw. I normally put some type of Body Glide on my skin to prevent that, but had forgotten because it had been too long since I'd done a long swim. My bad. That stuff hurts, man. I couldn't wait to be done with the swim, not because I was tired but because I was raw.
Hit the beach and cruised to T1. I'm not in a hurry, I will take my time. No stress. Didn't see Wife, Mom, and Baby on my way up the beach  but that didn't mean they weren't there. The Grey and Diesel were in a wave way behind my own, so they hadn't been through transition either. I wondered if I would see them on the bike or not until the run. Expected Diesel on the bike. Changed, trotted out to the line, mounted and got to the going.
Even cruising the swim I was still pretty fast. You can do a lot with good technique, and I do.
The ride was smooth sailing. Because I was slightly slower on my swim than normal I was out on the road with a few more people. Last year and the year before I didn't have any friends for a while. I was out of T1 this year with two or three other guys, who left me in the dust pretty quick.
I had no illusions about how badly under-trained I was for the bike, so I was determined not to go crazy. Got down in aero, tucked in, and found my rhythm. I did pass one or two guys and played leap frog too, but mostly it was pass pass pass the Dirtbag. Still, I felt surprisingly strong out on the road. I knew I didn't have any sudden speed in my legs, there would be no sprinting, but I had a constant strength. Smooth and steady, that's the way to do it. Felt completely different from last year, when I had a great big distance engine. But it would do.
Since I'm all about complaining it seems like, here's another one- Where were the course marshals stopping the drafting and group riding? Our races are non-drafting events, meaning you need x number of bike lengths between you and the guy ahead of you. If you're passing then pass and the person passed has gotta drop back. There shouldn't be a massive peloton. There shouldn't be a line of three guys drafting off each other like they do on training rides. There was so much of that going on. I passed massive groups of riders clumped together. At the risk of sounding whatever, the biggest clumps were the Japanese riders, taking up the entire road and making passing impossible. No race awareness at all. No consideration for the athletes around them. Where was the people zipping around on motorcycles who are supposed to flag and fix that? Totally and completely frustrating.
 The one part of the course that normally gives me trouble, the out-and-back on Lagoon Dr. wasn't a problem. It wasn't any fun either. You see, normally there's a strong tailwind on the out and a strong headwind on the back. I was looking forward to the tailwind. You hit Lagoon around mile 19 and by then I was ready for a little natural boost. Twas not to be. On the plus side, that meant no headwind.
Pulled my feet out of my shoes for my amateur take on the flying squirrel dismount the super-fast guys use and rolled into T2 feeling ok. I knew there was pain ahead. I could feel it in the legs. I took my time in transition, got set, tried to get a but more water in me (thought I'd hydrated well on the bike, but it never hurts and the sun was hotting up).

The last time I looked happy on the run (15 meters in)
 The run fell apart pretty damn quick. I knew two steps in that it was going to be bad. How bad I wasn't sure, but bad.
It was worse.
It occurred to me not long into the 10k that I hadn't run more than 3.5mi since...oh probably the Honu last year. Crap. Swimming is easy. Cycling isn't hard, not on the flats (I'd have died if there were any significant climbs on the ride). But running, for yours truly, that's brutal in the best of situations.
I walked. I walked so much. I bonked like nobodies business. It was the hurt. I hadn't fueled well the morning of the race and I hadn't used my brain and bought some Gu before race day for during the race. What I had done was found a Hammer Gel from last year and stashed it in my back pocket in case I needed it. But I didn't know if those things go bad. What would they do? By mile 3 I didn't care. I needed calories. I took the Hammer. It was kind of gross. Still prefer Gu. I walked all of mile 3, waiting to see what the tummy made of the gel. Would I feel better or feel sick? Better, it turned out. Well enough to trot more than I walked for the last two miles. But I was miserable in the middle there. It was swiftly becoming a hot, windless day. Probably the worst run leg I've ever had. Lots of walking. Lots of fighting the negative. It didn't help that the run course is pretty dumbly laid-out. Lots of loops and turns and double-backs because the race director is too cheap to reserve the park next to Ala Moana as well, so it's a mess.
The Grey met me for the last quarter mile, having finished well ahead of me (and having run most of the race, contrary to what he said he was going to do). Actually, he and Diesel didn't catch me until the run, which was cool. They started with the old guys, waves and waves behind me, but still. We trotted to the finish line together, then he peeled off and I got to do something I've been waiting to do for five months.
The Grey, mocking me into the finish
 I took my son from his mom and held him in my sweaty, stinky, gross arms and ran through the finish.

Pretty much the coolest way to finish a race ever
 When they handed me my finisher medal (plate) I had them put it around the boy's neck. That was a pretty cool moment. Tiny human's first triathlon finish.

After the race the boys, my mom, and Super Awesome Wife hung out in the shade for a while. We rinsed off in the ocean, getting the sweat clear. And we watched the millions of tourist triathletes roam.
Final race thoughts-
Swim- 27:22
T1- 1:50
Bike- 1:15.07
T2- 2:07
Run- 1:18.36
Total- 3:05.20 
My splits, aside from my run, weren't that far off last year's. I didn't get a ton slower by not training like a crazy person. I did lose a lot of the confidence I'd gone into the previous races with. I didn't ever feel strong. I don't like racing like that and I need to fix it.
I am very disappointed in what the Honolulu Triathlon has turned in to. The digital awards, the massive medals, the hideous shirts, the overly fancy number tattoos, the blocked up and over-crowded bike course, the ridiculous run course, the lack of Hawaii Pono'i or the National Anthem, it's just not a fun environment to race in any more. And the parking. For a price you can get cherry parking, something I like taking advantage of. The website said passes were $10. Diesel picked one up for himself and one for me. They charged him $15, said there had been a change. Later we found out they cut the price back down to $10 the next day. I don't know what's up with that, but it smells fishy. No announcements were made about, "Hey, if you over-paid for parking we'd like to refund you your five buck." Just screw you, sucker. I don't think I would do it again next year. Which is too bad, because it's the only Olympic-distance race on the island. I'm not a fan of the Race Director, who's other race is the Ko'Olina Sprint, another poorly organized and over-priced event. I'm sorry this report focused so much on the negative, I don't like to do that and it isn't what this blog is about, but that's the taste that the whole race experience left in my mouth. I'm finally finishing this race report weeks after I crossed the line and I'm still put off by the whole thing. I know it's not just me, at least The Grey and Diesel feel the same.
We are moving to the mainland at the end of this month, where I'm looking forward to new races and new challenges. I want to thank thank thank Background Profiles for their incredible continued support. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Race Report- MCBH Sprit Tri

Two thirds of this race course is fantastic. It's fast and the roads, being held on a military base, are well maintained. The swim took place right off the runway, in the bay.
The swim was gross.
I knew that going in. I've raced here before with the Super Awesome Wife. The water is full of airplane fuel and oil and who knows what else runs off an airfield. All the more reason to get in, swim fast, and get out. The Grey signed up for the race too and we basically followed each other from Mililani all the way to the base. It's fun to race with a friend, even though we only saw each other briefly on the course. Super Awesome Wife and Dirtbag Baby stayed home. She wasn't feeling good the night before and he'd been kind of a grumper. I wish they had been able to come. I didn't realize until after I finished and they weren't there how much I missed having her at the end of the race. But it was a better parent choice.
This race also had a bike safety check, the first race I've ever been to with one. The local bike shop, IT&B had guys out checking every single bike for a tight chain, good brakes, properly inflated tires, and the like before it went into transition. The Honu didn't check my bike this closely. It did answer a question I've been having though. Turns out my brake cables were way loose. That explains why I didn't feel like I was having much stopping power. I figured the pads were going. Nope, way loose. Loose enough that Frank, the owner of IT&B, laughed at me when he gave my bike to their mechanic to fix. The mechanic tightened the cable down. Remember that.
 These last two triathlons have been great as far as pre-race jitters go. I know I'm out of shape, I know I'm not going to be hammering any part of it, I know I need to not go hard or I'll totally fall apart, so I'm not stressed about having a good race. I am focused on having a good time and enjoying myself.
I got a short warm-up swim in because I hate swimming in the washing machine cold, and then got ready to race.

 The swim was a triangle right buoy, left buoy, back to the entry. The key to mass swim starts to to either get out in front or get wide. When I'm fit getting out in front isn't much of a problem. I'm not swim fit. I was concerned about getting kicked in the face. Especially because this was a Marine Corps Base and a lot of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children were participating. The race director went out of her way to tell us triathlon is not a full contact sport. Some of the guys around me laughed. I'm going to get drowned by Marines.
The Swim (not pictured- how gross the water felt)
 Or not. Swimming 500m is just short enough that I can fake it with what fitness I have and my technique. I found a good starting position and at the gun (which scared the crap out of me because oh we're using a gun today) got underway strong. I concentrated on keeping my stroke long and getting to the outside. The outside is important in the swim where there are buoy turns. Inexperienced swimmers try to cut the corners very close so as to swim the shortest possible distance. This is a bad strategy. When you swim directly to the buoy you're setting yourself up for two slowing things. The first is the angle you need to make to get pointed in the right direction again. A complete right angle turn, and that's a pain in the ass in the water. You basically lose all forward momentum. The other problem is that everyone else has the same idea you do and there is a massive crush the closer you get to the turn. I swim wide. Yeah, I swim a few more meters further than everyone else, but my turn is more gradual and faster and I don't get kicked in my pretty face.
Until I space on the long leg and somehow get to the inside from the first buoy to the second. I drifted and realized too late that I was headed to the inside with no time to correct. Damnit. Oh well. I also noticed that it looked like I was further back in the pack than I wanted to be. I know, I know, I haven't been swimming, no pressure, blah blah blah I'M A BETTER SWIMMER THAN THESE PEOPLE! Still, I kept it together, didn't swim stupid, and got crushed at the turn. Then something wonderful happened. Either I misjudged how far ahead the main pack was or they faded hard en masse, but by the time we were halfway back on the last leg I'd caught the main pack. From there a swimmer has two choices, go wide, motor hard, and be out of the water a few seconds before everyone else but blown out or settle in, grab a wake, and cool it off for the last 100 yards. I chose option two, of course. I was in the back of the front group, that's plenty good enough for me. Had I been fit I probably would have been out of the water in the top 20 overall.
Coming out of the water there was a soldier holding a high pressure hose spraying athletes off as we ran into T1. That's never happened before. Frankly, it's a little disconcerting to exit the water to have the race director decide I need to be hosed off as soon as possible. Just what was I swimming in? I resolved to rinse and shower as soon as I crossed the finish line.
I sauntered through transition. Why hurry? And cruised out onto the course.
I love this bike course. I think it's my favorite sprint bike course. It was two laps, each lap about 5.6mi. The lap was a loop around the airfield, so that meant it was clean road the whole way. No Dodge the Pothole! There were some climbs, but only one of any remark. If there had been more of a headwind it would be been a harder ride, but as it was I really enjoyed it. Lots of turns, and my motorcycle sensibilities enjoy going round a bend. Slowed everyone else down too. Remember how my brakes got tightened? I near went ass-over-teakettle on the first turn because I jumped a little too hard on my newly tightened brakes. Whoops. Stopping Power! I kept down in aero and tried not to care about all the guys blasting past me. Whatever. I pretty much hooked up with another dude, tall guy, and we played hopscotch the whole eleven miles. Right at the end of the lap was a little climb, dip, steep short climb section that was kind of a challenge, but the climb was so small that I feel silly spending any more time talking about it. Had I been better fit I would barely have noticed it. I bet The Grey cruised up it stronger than I did. I wouldn't know, he hadn't caught me yet (mock taunt and otherwise).
I felt pretty strong overall on the ride, which was a pleasant surprise. I kept it together and rode smart and everything came together nicely. Right at the start I got some good burn in my thighs and glutes as my legs adjusted from swimming to riding, but that went away after a few miles. I'm sure that happens to me every race and I forget every race.
I did nearly die on the bike once. The runway is made up of concrete plates. Between each plate is maybe a quarter inch groove. They warned us during the pre-race to be aware of the grooves. I forgot. Right near the end I went to pass my buddy and put my front tire right into the groove, which dragged the back tire into the groove and the whole bike threatened to go down when I tried to pull it back out. Thanks to my amazing bike handling abilities I saved it and didn't die. I did make eye contact with the other guy who gave me a, "Woah! Nice save!"
I cruised back through T2, taking my sweet sweet time. I can't hurry getting my feet into the toe shoes anyway, and I knew there was lots of getting passed to come, so why race?
Like last time, the run was slow. I didn't feel as terrible during it as I did at Lanikai, but I by no means felt fast. I was expecting, because the Grey had warned me, there to be a brutal climb on the run. Apparently the course used to go up the same side of Radar Hill that we rode up during Lanikai. That would have suuuuuucked, and that's what I was thinking was coming the whole. Most of the first half of the run was uphill, but it was a gentle uphill and I spent it wondering what the hell The Grey had been on about. He finally passed me pretty early into the run. Him and half the damn field. I run slow.
Cruised through the turn-around at the top of the climb feeling ok, and thinking it was much shorter than the mile and a half it should have been. I was right, by the way. The run was just under three miles, which is the opposite than the just over three an a half Lanikai was.
I had an ok run. I have only one gear right now and even when I want to pull it into more than a trot it's an effort. My head isn't in it and I don't have the legs. I probably could be running faster, I think a lot of it is in my head. I'm not sweating it. Hit the finish feeling like I'd worked hard and that was good enough for me.
Fun race, good run course, great bike course, disgusting swim. I rinsed off with my spare water bottle and changed out of my race kit immediately. No skin rash on me.

Swim (~500m)- 8:45
Bike (10.46mi)- 32:31
T2- 1:59
Run (2.95mi)- 29:12
Total- 1:13.32

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Balance Minimus Road 10v2 First Run

I have been in the market for a new pair of running shoes for a while now. I don't want to completely replace my Vibrams, I love them. But I've been feeling like a shoe with a little more padding, a little more something underfoot, might be nice too. My feet get sore on runs sometimes and I think that is impacting my stride, which is why I have occasional knee issues.
After some research I settled on the Minimus Road 10v2, New Balance's newest road shoe. I had requirements- I wanted a zero drop shoe (zero drop means the difference between the heel height and the toe height is zero). I didn't want too much shoe, just a little padding. And it needed to be triathlon-friendly, which means sockless friendly.
The Minimus Road is almost all of these. It's actually a 4mm drop, which is barely anything. I'd rather a zero, but after my first run I really couldn't feel too much of a difference as far as heel height goes. What I could feel, what I couldn't feel rather, was the road. I had forgotten just how much road feel I get in the Bikilas. And these are by no means thick shoes. It's just that what I'm used to running in is way thin. Still, some padding was what I was looking for and that's what I got. The shoe is still plenty flexible so there was no adjustment to my stride needed. Forefoot/midfoot strike, figure four, and all that. The Minimus' are heavier than I'm used to too, but literally everything on the market is heavier than what I'm used to so that's not saying much either.

 I bought quick zip shoelaces but haven't put them on yet, so I don't know how that's going to work.
My initial impressions while running, and this is only after 3.6mi so I don't know what's going to change, is mostly positive. The shoe acts like I wanted it to. I realized very quickly that I haven't run in a "normal" shoe is over three years, and I'd forgotten what it felt like. The toe box is huge, which means my feet get to spread like they do in the Bikilas. They padding was just enough once I got used to not feeling every little pebble in the road.
 My only complaint right now is probably a user error issue- I was having a lot of float in the shoe. That is to say, I felt like my feet were moving around a lot. I think I bought the right size, they felt right in the store, so my problem is probably one of lacing. I'm going to have to fiddle with how tightly I can lace the shoes up and see if that fixes the floating. I do have two or three tiny baby blisters, but again that's due to the float so hopefully that's something I can fix. Otherwise look for a discounted pair of slightly used shoes for sale here soon! I need to go for a sockless run too, and I must get the movement issue puzzled out before that because I know that'll rub the crap out of my feet if I don't, and no one wants that.
The plan is to wear them during the Honolulu Tri, but if I can't get them to work out like I want I still have the Bikilas. Those won't be going away by any means. I'll rotate between the NBs and the Vibrams while training. That's probably better for my feet anyway.
The tongue is connected, which will make T2 quicker and easier, which I would care about if I ran faster

Every minimalist shoe review requires the Balled Up shot. Otherwise they take away my membership card.