Thursday, November 4, 2010

Getting Back on the Horse

First off - I am using the new mobile blogging "app" from blogger, so
I am not sure what this will look like.

It has been nearly three weeks since I ran my half ironman. Panther
told me to take three weeks to just do what i want and to really think
about what I want to do next. With kitchen remodeling in full force it
hasn't been to hard to fill in the time that training used to. But now
it is time to make my decision and get back on the horse.

I have decided that I really do want to do a full ironman and to see
if I could possibly qualify for Kona someday. So at least I have a
direction. But it is amazing to me just how hard it is to get back
into the training regime even with a strong desire to get back at it.
I know I will, but it seems like once you let a few practices go, your
schedule just keeps getting booked with non-workouts. Is this just me?
Or is this pretty common?

Well, hopefully I will see y'all out there soon. Run friendly!

-T (Sent from the phone. Excuse all the typos.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Longhorn 70.3 Report

OK, I am only two and a half weeks late in getting this up. For me, that is not too shabby. For the average person, that is horrible.

The Texas Tri Series came to an end on October 17th at the Ironman 70.3 Austin, formerly known as Longhorn 70.3. This was in many ways a race of contradictions. I PRed, but had a bad race. The race was well organized, but not a good experience. So, with that I shall go into report.

For those that don’t really want to read too much, here is a really quick recap. My swim went pretty well am happy with it. T1 was a little odd as I felt a bit nauseous running to my bike, but it settled quickly. The bike started off well, too well. And instead of trying to slow down and conserve energy, I pushed it and was spent by the end of it. Ultimately my time was great though. T2 sucked as I couldn’t find my shoes right away. The run was horrible! I walked some of it. But I finished a little more than 30 minutes faster than my half ironman last year.

Sadly one of my fellow competitors in the Texas Tri Series got hurt and was unable to run Longhorn. But, that allowed me to move into 4th place in my age group. Not the way I wanted to move up a notch, but what can I do.

Now for the details...

I picked up my packet out at the Travis County Expo Center on Friday after work. This had to be the most steps I have ever gone through to pick up a packet. And somehow I missed the one that would give me my transition bags. Oops. OK, back into the assembly line of competitors to see where I screwed up. I found it without too much of an issue, and was able to work my way out.

Saturday I had to take my back down to Walter E Long (Decker Lake) to be prepositioned into transition one (T1). I actually like leaving my bike overnight as it is one less thing to lug around with you on rave morning. But, with this being a huge race, bike rack space was at a premium, and you had to rack by your race number. I can barely remember how to get to my office some mornings, so I always try to get to transition early and stake out a spot on the end of a rack so I just have to look for my bike. No such luck with this setup. Oh well. I’ll just have to try to remember where it is I am racked.

The worst part of all of this was that I do try to let air out of my tires overnight to avoid the risk of a flat the next morning. (Colin convinced me that this was a good idea. And he is quite right!) Typically it is not a big deal to pump up your tires in the morning, but for this race, we had bags that everything had to fit into. A morning bag for anything that we would need before the swim start, and immediately after the race, a bike bag, and a run bag. My bike pump does not fit into one of those bags, and I had no spectators at the race that I could hand the pump off to. I was at the mercy of the benevolence of my fellow competitors on race morning. This worked out perfectly fine, but, as I am sure is the case with most endurance athletes, I don’t like leaving things to chance or in the hands of others - at least when it comes to racing.

Race day! Traffic was backed up early. And only got worse later thanks to a wreck. Thankfully I missed that. This morning, I had to park at the expo center and then get on the school bus that would take me over to Decker Lake. First though I had to drop off my run bag at transition two (T2). Again it was by number and this spot was even more hidden than my bike spot. Ugh! Oh well. On to the bus I went and got out to the lake. Luckily there was a very nice guy racked a few bikes away that let me use his pump. After dumping the liquids on the bike and placing my bag on the handlebars I was ready to go chat with a few friends that were racing and just get ready for it all. Colin got trapped in the wreck that I mentioned earlier and barely made it out to the lake before the first pros were getting out of the water. He and I chatted a little bit and helped each other into our wetsuits right before his wave started. I was five minutes behind him.

Finally, nearly an hour after the first wave, it was my turn to go. The horn blew and we were off. The first 100-200 meters were great and I was hanging with most of the lead pack of my wave, but then I lost whatever wind I had and could not catch my breath. Instead of fighting it, I just started breast stroking for a little while and low and behold, within a minute I had my breath back. OK, back to swimming! I started passing different colored swim caps by the halfway point and just managed to keep trucking along. When I finally got to the swim exit I heard the announcer say, “And one of the first blue caps to make it out of the water, Tanner Hunt from Austin!” Holy crap, I had no idea I would be anywhere near a point to be one of the first out of the water.

As I trotted up the hill I started unzipping my wetsuit and looked for the strippers. (Side note: I think it would be hilarious if a local strip club actually volunteered to do this at a race sometime.) But the wonderful non-exoctic dancer wetsuit strippers did a great job of getting me out of my wetsuit and back on my way. As I was running up the hill I just felt my stomach lurch and had to start walking for a little bit. Not quite sure what it was all about, but oh well. I found my bike without much trouble and stuffed my wetsuit in the bag and was on my way. My stomach was already settled down a little.

The bike started off great and I was feeling wonderful. A little cold and drafty, but wonderful. Then I looked down and saw that my jersey had become unzipped to where it was just barely hanging on by the zipper start. I tried to pull the zipper up with one hand but quickly discovered this was a two handed task. Ugh! I do not have the best balance on the bike, so this will be interesting. The first 5 or so miles had a lot of hills, turns, and rough road, so I just had to suck it up and enjoy the breeze. Finally we got into the flat part of the course and I decided it was worth a shot. I rode my bike with no handlebars. And I got the zipper up! I was actually very impressed by the feat. I fully expected to have to pull over and stop to do this. Onward I went. I hit mile 20 in about 55 minutes and realized I was going a fair amount faster than what I had planned on doing. Instead of realizing that this was a sign to slow it down and conserve, I tried to keep it going. By mile 40 the stretches were very frequent and I was not a happy camper. Oh well. Gut check time. By the time I made it back to the expo center and T2 I was starting to fade mentally. I have become fairly good at getting my feet out of my shoes while on the bike so that I don’t have to run in them and save a little time getting my running shoes on. As I rolled up to the dismount line I realized that I was still securely clipped in. Oops! Luckily I didn’t fall and got off the bike before the dismount line.

I couldn’t remember which row I was in for the life of me and had to look at the signs on the end of each row to see where my stuff was. Finally I found it and was able to get to my stuff. Got the bike racked and put all of my crap on, stuffed my bike bag with stuff and was on my way.

Surprisingly enough, I wasn’t feeling exactly fresh at this point, but new that my time was looking pretty good and if I could just keep it around a 7 minute pace for the first half of the run I would be doing great. And I typically start the run feeling bad but once I find my stride I can hold it. I hit mile 1 at 6:55 and was pretty happy with it. Right around the time I was leaving I saw Ginny and Padre (2 other runners from my running group, Riff Raff) not too far apart from each other as they were working on their runs. Mile 2 came up at 14:10. Not too shabby, we are on the trail part of it so I was fine losing a little bit of speed. I think I hit mile 3 at a little over 22 but was still doing OK. Then the wheels fell off. As I came up the big hill (Quadzilla) I had to do something that somehow I have managed to never do in a race before. I walked. After a few seconds I started to shuffle my feet again and made it to the top of the hill. Just then my quads started cramping on me. This was another first. Oh boy. And to top it off, my stomach was definitely not happy. After rubbing out the quads, I got back to doing a little bit of a jog, but my stomach was not getting any better. Finally, somewhere around mile 5, I pulled off to the side and forced myself to puke. That really helped and I found my stride again. It certainly wasn’t the 7 minute pace I was looking for, but it was something resembling running. And then I made it to the water stop manned by Riff Raff. As soon as they saw me they just erupted into cheers and there was no way that I could hobble through it. I found my stride, grabbed some drink (no clue what) and smiled big as they shouted. 50 meters later I returned to the hell that was going to be my life for the remainder of the race. My legs were fried. My resolve was withering into nothing and it just seemed like a long way to go. As I completed my first lap I realized that there was absolutely no chance of accomplishing my B goal of breaking 5 hours and what little spirits I had wilted drastically. But, I had a race to finish and dammit I was going to finish it. The quads kept cramping and there was more walking this time around than the last, but I tried to intermix a jog in there as much as possible. Shortly into the start of my second loop Colin saw me and said hello is his always chipper mood. Sadly all I could muster was a meek response, but his energy did make me feel a little better. Again, when I hit the Riff Raff water stop I found a spring of energy and tried to put on a show of competence and nearly pulled it off. Padre, was a little ahead of me and later said that he heard the cheers when I went through the water stop. How cool of a running group is that?! As I entered the Expo Center grounds I saw Padre was only about 20 meters in front of me. No sooner was I trying to catch him so that we could run in together that my quads seized up on me forcing me to stop completely and rub them out. Finally they released and I was able to start jogging again. As I made the turn up to the coliseum I started pushing if only to make myself feel a little better (mentally only that is - this increased pace did absolutely nothing good for me physically) and hammered my way to the finish line inside. I crossed the finish line. I finished it.

Final time was 5:27:09. A good 32 minutes faster than last years race (different course), but my run was a solid 15 minutes slower. Ultimately I am happy with the race as it is a huge testament to my training, coaching, and support that I have had that I can be disappointed by a 32 minute PR. But it is a tough pill to swallow knowing that I put myself in position to have a great race and then not be able to bring it home. Up next is the Rogue FAT ASS Trail Series - The Mule 30k on November 21st. Then, the Big Bend Ultra 50k on January 16th. Oh! And ironman prep. No rest for the wicked. Until the next time - run friendly!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Avia Austin Tri

Race report only a little more than a month after the fact!

The Austin Tri was on Labor Day in downtown Austin. It really is a lot of fun getting to race in downtown Austin. The quick low down on it was that it was a great race for me with a few hiccups. I bettered last year’s time by 17 minutes and bettered my 10k PR by a little over 30 seconds.

On the Friday before the race, I decided to play golf with my friend Nick after work. This is all well and good, but I decided that I would carry my bag and walk the course instead of getting a cart. I’m in decent shape so this should not have been a big ordeal. But, I woke up on Saturday with an incredibly sore neck and shoulder. It only got worse throughout the day and by Sunday morning, it hurt to breathe everything had become so tight and sore. I managed to get a few laps in at my pool and a tiny run in and it seemed to loosen up a little bit.

I started off the swim feeling OK, but after about 100m or so, my chest got really tight and I couldn’t breathe. Not sure if it was the cold water, the soreness I had been suffering from, the apprehension of what the race would be like, or most likely, a combination of all of the above. Well, I have had bad swims before, so I didn’t freak out, I just breast and side stroked trying to not kick anyone and keep my head out of the water. After about another 200-300m, my chest opened up and I could go back to free style. The rest of the swim, with the exception of being incredibly pissed off at myself, went really well and I made up some ground.

Once I got on my bike I became very grateful for the loaner pair of sun glasses I got from my buddy, Jimmy. I wear contacts so I have to wear sunglasses on the bike to keep them from drying out. This day was very overcast and had a good chance of rain. Jimmy lent a pair of glasses to me with yellow lenses as all of mine are dark gray. This was a tremendous help! For me, I felt like I was flying on the bike and making good time. I even caught up to Tenille (she was on her second or third lap by this time - I was on my first) and said hi. She didn’t recognize me at the time, but apparently this was inspiring to her as she quickly passed me back and that was the last of her I would see during the race. (She totally rocked the race and came in 3rd Overall for the women! Right after winning the San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz the weekend before.) On my third lap I became infinitely more appreciative of my yellow sunglasses; the skies opened up and we had a nice little down pour for a good part of the lap. I am not the most confident rider so I slowed WAY down at first to ensure I didn’t crash and see how Beva (my bike) would handle the slick roads. Luckily we made it through with no crashes!

The rain stopped just as I was getting off the bike and it started to get quite muggy. Oh well. It beats running in 105* weather. This was the first time I decided to run without socks, so the wet shoes were not too comfortable right off the bat. However, had I had socks, they too would have started off wet. As I passed the first mile of the run I saw Kelly and Steven from my running group which gave me a nice little perk. A little before mile two, I saw Roger, my first running coach. handing out water bottles and gels. Despite the inspiration I started to fade a little bit, but then one of the nicest things happened to me. The pro that I had been right behind since the start of my lap called back to me, “Come on! Pick it up. Do it now while it is easy and help bring me in.” Somehow I found another gear and managed to pull ahead of him and hopefully be a little bit of a rabbit. Even with the increased pace, I still never felt like I was really managing all that great of a pace, or form, and my stomach was just screaming at me to stop eating sugar. When I finally came to the finish line I looked at my watch and saw a time of 42:45 for the 10k portion. This was much faster than it felt like I ran so I was ecstatic. Later when I looked at the results, I discovered I missed starting the watch after transition, and that my actual run time was 40:58! Overall time was 2:21:20.

Now there is just one more race - Ironman 70.3 Austin (formerly Longhorn). That is this Sunday and I am more than a little nervous about it. I feel ready and know that I am prepared for it, but for some reason that isn’t instilling me with a sense of calm. But I am certainly looking forward to it. I promise to be much, much more punctual on posting that race report. Until then, run friendly!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Moonlight Margarita Run

Last Thursday was the Moonlight Margarita Run benefiting The Trail Foundation. Lauren, one of the members of my running group, managed to land 8 passes to the gala for our group. So, after a little pleading on her part, several of us decided that we would go ahead and do the run; and of course the margaritas at the end. Our coach, Panther, was going to be doing the race with us and thought that it would be a great idea for us to do this as a costume run.

I am a fan of dressing ridiculously (life is too short to be serious all of the time) so costume to me means just looking like an idiot. In February a friend and I were planning on doing a Valentine’s Day themed pajama run only to have it canceled due to weather the day of. Sadly, I had already purchased my “pajamas” for this great event and have not had any opportunities arise in which to wear them. This seemed like the perfect occasion to break them out! So my pink night gown with orange hearts and orange frilly collar was called to duty! Along with some orange and white tie-dye knee high socks and my incredibly short race shorts.

Panther showed up decked out as Elvis, JJ came in a coconut bra and grass skirt, Lauren as an island girl, and Fitty in his fat Hawaiian tourist getup. A running group has never looked to distinguished. So after a few pictures with strangers we started to work our way to the start line. For whatever reason, I had decided that I wanted to try to actually race this thing. It was still 98* and I had done 8.5 miles in the Barton Creek hills that morning; obviously everything was setting up for a great race. So I amble up to the front of the starting line and get a lot of weird looks from the other runners. All of their eyes were saying the same thing, “Great, someone that I will have to try to dodge because they want to get right up to the front of the line to run 15 minute miles.” Oh well.

The air horn sounded and off we went. It was certainly warm, and my incredibly tight cotton gown was not as breathable as my typical no shirt running style, but for the most part I was feeling OK. That feeling quickly disappeared, my mouth got dry and I started to think that I might have started out a tad too fast. As I approached the Mile 1 marker I looked at my watch and confirmed my thoughts; 5:35, fastest mile ever. Gulp! I refused to be the idiot in the costume that took off like a bat out of hell only to finish it off at a crawl. Too make matters worse, the first water stop was unmanned so I had to forgo it. OK, I run in the heat all the time and cut-down workouts are painful, but I can do those. Let’s rock this!

I made the turn and started to head back down Cesar Chavez and took advantage of the downhill to just pull me down without pushing too hard. Mile 2 at 11:32. OK, I have slowed down, but still sub 6. This last mile is going to suck! And my downhill was gone, but there was water. Oh thank you merciful volunteers and your sweet elixir! By this point in the race I was starting to see some of my friends going the other way and really owe them a lot for the cheers they gave me. The cat calls from strangers helped too. ;) By the time we made the turn to Austin High I was completely spent, but I had been going back and forth with this one kid for most of the race and had just pulled ahead of him and was not wanting to give that up. (This guy is actually Taylor that I had met a few days prior at Jack’s Generic Tri where he got 2nd in our age group.) Gut check time.

As we made the curve around the football field I tried to start kicking with everything I had knowing that I had about a quarter mile left. Finally the finish line was in sight and never, with the possible exception of the Austin Marathon, has a finish line looked so welcoming. As I came down the stretch I heard Evil say, “Nice top!” which brought a smile to my nearly permanently grimaced face. As I looked down at my watch I saw that I had crossed in 18:17. Nearly a 3 minute PR and the first time I had managed to average a sub 6 minute pace for a race! Oh my 3 miles can be painful!

As I was chugging my water and enjoying my ice towel I saw Elvis (Panther) cross the finish line in a sub-20 minute time. Pretty damn impressive for someone wearing polyester long sleeves and pants. Plus a black wig! We watched and cheered in the rest of Riff Raff and even gave an interview for some UT student. Once everyone was accounted for we started making our way to the gala for margaritas and Mexican food. Great race and even better times!

(I will try to put more pictures up as I get them.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Jack's Generic Tri Report

Hey, a race report not too terribly long after the race - what a concept!

Jack’s Generic Tri was somewhat of a breakthrough race for me I believe. My placing in my age group wasn’t outstanding, but my overall place floored me and I finally feel like I can hang with these guys.

My goal was to flirt with 1:10:00 - I finished in 1:08:28; good for 19th overall and 7th in my age group. (8 of the top 20 overall finishers came from my age group.) After my typical warm-up jog with a few strides put in, I actually hopped in the lake for a little warm-up swim as well. I have never done this before, but think that it might be something to start including in the pre-start activity. Swim starts have never been my strong point, but my awesome swim coach, Tenille, has been working with me to start out hard the first 50 or so meters and then find my stride. And my friend Ginny has been hounding me too to have more confidence in my swimming. Somehow I managed to wiggle my way to the front of the line at the swim start so that I had fewer bodies to beat up (and get beat up by) so when the horn went off it wasn’t as painful as normal. After a few strokes though I was getting a bit winded and started to worry a little bit about a Rookie Tri repeat, but then Tenille and Ginny got in my head and told me to suck it up. So I did, and managed to find my own little place in the stream of stuff and kept on trucking. I got out of the water in a respectable 8:17 and headed off to T1.

For the first time on the bike I really started to feel comfortable. Typically the run is the only part of the race where I feel in my element, but by that point you are so tired I am not so sure that element is all too comfortable. But I was off on the bike and not instantly being passed by everyone and their brother which is quite a new experience. About halfway through the race I saw a group of cyclists a decent ways up the road from me and I told myself to just keep them in sight. As soon as I thought that, it occured to me that I was gaining on them. Why wait for the run to try to pass them? So I focused on my pedal stroke and started my chase. Low and behold, I passed them up and continued to find more people on the ride to pick off. On the final set of hills I was passed by one guy in my age group, but I knew that I had passed more people than had passed me so I was pretty confident that I had at least held my position since the swim. As I was coming towards the end of the bike course I managed to get my feet out of my shoes before getting off the bike and avoided having to un-clip at the line. Miraculously I did not fall on my butt while doing this and came off the bike after averaging an astounding (for me) 21.7mph.

Alright, the run! Yeah, my legs were feeling the pushing I was doing on the bike, but if I can survive Panther’s, my run and tri coach, horrendous cut downs and hill repeats, I know I can belt out a fast 3 miles. The first half of the run course is up a gradual hill and definitely makes you feel all that you have already done to your legs. But, what goes up must come down, so the turn around point almost serves as a slingshot. I had managed to pass 2-3 guys in my age group on the way out, but had been caught by one guy right before the turn around. I passed him up in the turn around, but knew it was going to be really hard to hold him off. As we picked up the pace going down the hill I could hear him just settle in behind me. So I slowed the pace just a little figuring that I wasn’t going to do all the work and then have nothing left for him at the end. No sooner had I settled on this strategy than we came up on another guy in our age group. With less than a mile left strategy was being thrown out the window. The three of us all started to speed up a little and jockey for position. Kevin, the guy that had been following me, passed the two of us just as we made the turn around the lake and found a stride that I just couldn’t match. But I did manage to fall in behind the other guy and pull ahead with about 200 meters left and just barely managed to out sprint (that might be a generous word at this point) him to the finish. Somehow I managed to run the 3 miles in 19:37, good for the 9th fastest run of the day.

My standing in the Texas Tri Series will not change after this race, but I certainly walked away with a sense of belonging. Perhaps it was just a great race day for me. Perhaps it was my first week of transitioning to being vegan. ;) Or perhaps it was culmination of the training, coaching, and support that I have been getting over the past year. I will certainly be marching into Austin Tri with a little more confidence.

Sadly, shortly after I finished I heard volunteers talking about a bike rider that had fallen and was being transported to the hospital. A little while later I got a call from a friend saying that it was our friend Stacey that had crashed. Stacey suffered a broken clavicle and is pretty banged up, but she will be fine. In the midst of phone calls, talking with race officials, finding Stacey’s gear, and filling in friends it occurred to me just how small, and wonderful, the tri community really is. Everyone knows and loves Stacey. She is incredibly out going and is that person that turns training partners into friendships that last well after the program. While I was trying to talk to people to get information, they either knew me, or at least knew that I had been around for a while, and tried to help in whatever way possible. Jack, of Jack and Adam’s, was wonderful and got Stacey’s bike and transition bag for me so that I was able to load it all in her car and take it back to Austin for her. I don’t know if this would have even been remotely feasible in a larger, less familiar environment. A large shout out to Jack and the rest of the Jack’s Generic staff. Also, there were no fewer than 20 people that told me to pass along their best wishes to Stacey and to let them know if there was anything they could do. Most of us do endurance sports to learn more about ourselves in some form or fashion, and the depth that this community has really came out yesterday. Thank you all. In the light of a scare, it really made me (and Stacey) feel good.

OK, that’s it for now. In the meantime - run friendly.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Texas Tri Series, Training, and Vegan

Blogging frenzy!!!!

Well, it seems that the Texas Tri Series has posted the standings for the season through the first two races. Miraculously I am 5th in my age group and 18th overall. There is about 8 minutes between me and a podium position, so we shall see if I can’t close the gap over the next three races.

Speaking of races, the third race in the series and the last sprint distance, Jack’s Generic Tri is this Sunday. I don’t really think that I will be able to make much of a move in the standings on this one, but can hopefully just maintain my position.

With the quick turn around between races, being on-call for work one weekend, and a trip to Fort Worth, my training has felt sporadic at best the past three weeks. But I did manage to crank out a good brick workout in Fort Worth and my swimming seems to be getting better, so perhaps sporadic works for me. I guess we shall see.

Now for the big news...I have decided to go vegan. I had been throwing around the idea for quite some time, but never thought that I was close to pulling the trigger. But my nutritionist called me out for eating too much cheese and I realized that I am really bad at reining myself in and that the dairy and egg industry is really the same as the meat industry, so I decided to go ahead and go vegan. This is only day four of it, but so far it is going OK. It will be interesting to see how it affects my training. I’ll try to keep you posted on the progress, or digress.

OK, this was just a quick little update. In the meantime - run friendly.

Couples Triathlon Report

I figure that I should probably post my race report before my next race. So here we go...

Several Sundays ago marked the second race of the Texas Tri Series, Couples Triathlon, and my first chance to truly measure my progress as a triathlete. Last year was my first venture into the tri world and Couples was my first race. While my final time was not as fast as I had hoped, I still walked away with two PRs and probably my best raced race.

Like all tris, the morning came way too early, but the butterflies were starting to flutter so the sleep cleared my eyes relatively quickly. Two pieces of peanut butter toast, some Ovaltine (yes, I eat like an 8 year old), a banana, and a glass of orange juice and I was ready to start loading up the car and getting race drinks ready.

My friend, Ginny, and I had decided to carpool to the race and as luck would have it, she was right on time getting to my place at 5:30 while I was running a good 10 minutes late. Oh well, this is the beauty of planning on getting there insanely early; you have time to run late. But we still managed to get on the road slightly after 5:45 and made it to the parking lot just after 6. The racks were largely unpopulated at this time and it was easy to get a prime spot and get your transition area set-up without having to shoe horn it in someplace.

After getting Beva, my bike, put in place and everything laid out for the race it was time to chit-chat with my teammate, Padre, Stacey, and some other friends and training companions that I ran into before going out for a mile jog to warm-up before heading down to swim start. On the warm-up jog I quickly realized that I had made a tactical error in wearing my Brooks T-6 racing flats. The run course is on grass and dirt roads within the park and were still quite soaked from the recent rains and my shoes were struggling mightily to find traction. Oh well, it wasn’t like I was going to be the only person with this problem.

As I was heading back into transition to put my now slightly soggy shoes I saw an old high school friend that has been doing tris for quite some time. Outside of Facebook, I haven’t seen Coop since high school; so it was great to chat briefly after all of these years.

With the shoes back in transition, I headed down towards the lake with my disposable water bottle, a packet of salt tablets (part of my nutritionist’s new game day plan), and plenty of butterflies. No matter how many times I race, I still get nervous at the start and I seem to get more and more addicted to the feeling. With 15 minutes to go I popped the three salt tablets and started sifting my way down to the start line with Padre and got ready for the mayhem that was to come. Finally we were let into the water and then the gun went off...

At The Rookie Tri in May I went out really hard on the swim only to find myself stuck with a bunch of people doing the same and ultimately had a freak out resulting in me having to back and side stroke for a bit to regain my breathe. This time around I decided that I would just go out at my pace and let the lead pack go, and just pull away from the bulk of the group as the swim progressed. As I approached the first buoy I could feel my chest tightening up, but I was able to reassure myself that I am a very strong swimmer and that I can swim this distance in my sleep. Just relax, find your stroke and trust it. Miraculously this little pep talk worked on my ever-cynical self, and low and behold, I started to pull away from everyone around me and feel more relaxed. As I rounded the second buoy my goggles had become fogged to the point that I couldn’t see the buoys ahead and sadly the pack had thinned to the point that I couldn’t rely on them to bring me. So I just raised my head up further out of the water and was able to make out the finish line and figured if I swam straight at it I would probably manage to stay on course. Luckily this plan worked as I refound the buoys and made my way to shore. Out of the water in 14:46. Not too bad.

Transitions have never been a strong suit of mine, but I keep trying to improve them. So I ran a little faster than I would like up the hill and into T1, grabbed a cup of water from the volunteers and dashed towards my bike. Typically I try way too hard to clean my feet before putting on my shoes but this day I decided I’d settle for just knocking off the major clumps of debris. What do you know? It helped! Got my sunglasses on, strapped on the helmet and started to trot to the bike start. T1-2:10

Bike has always been the weakest of the three sports for me, but I have been working on it a lot this year. So as I was getting everything adjusted for the ride I heard the distinctive griding whirl of a carbon wheel bike coming up from behind me. “Great, already starting to get passed by everyone!” I thought, but alas, after I got settled, I passed that bike up and never saw him again! Of course several bikes did ultimately pass me, but I think that I passed as many, if not more. Finally, I was holding my own on the bike. The loop around Decker is known for its hills, and particularly this nasty little gem on Blue Bluff Rd that starts immediately after a 90* turn. Luckily I knew of this hill and put my bike in an easy gear before I even got to it and was able to attack it without frantic shifting or falling off. The rest of the ride went by uneventful expect for the end when I went to grab my water bottle to take my second round of electrolyte capsules. It wasn’t there! So, I either littered or gave someone a very nice insulated Camelbak water bottle. But I was out of Accelorade so I had to forgo the electrolytes. Oh well. Unclipped and headed into T2. Bike-32:58

Racked Beva, threw on my socks and shoes, grabbed the race belt, and started working on the bandanna. As I headed out of T2 the volunteers were advertising they had Pure Sport so I grabbed a cup of that in hopes that it would make up for my lost electrolyte pills. T2-1:24

As I finished swigging down the Pure Sport and adjusting the knot on my bandanna I started looking for my stride. It really was a lot like a trail run in that watching your footing was a premium. I could feel my stomach starting to foam from all of the Accelorade I had consumed on the bike and started to get a littler nervous about what might be in store for me, but I kept pushing along. As I approached the first water stop, I was passed by a few people that had names on their tri jerseys and realized that the pros were closing in on me. Instead of demoralizing me, it actually gave me a little bit of a pep and I now had fast runners to try to keep up with. Eventual Women’s 2nd place overall winner, Natasha Van Der Merwe, passed me just before Mile 1. She seemed to be going at a good pace for me so I just latched on to her for a few minutes. As we got back to some of the more technical trail running type terrain I started to feel my stride and passed her up, but she never got far behind me and was definitely pushing me all the way in. The better part of the last half mile of the run course is up a fairly steep hill that starts at the bottom of the dam. My legs were feeling none to fresh by this point, but I could see people struggling up ahead of me and tried to pull them in and make my charge to the finish line. Finally the hill was crested and I had the flat stretch to the finish line! Run-21:01

I was honestly a little surprised to see the clock when I crossed. I had stopped paying attention to my watch so really had no idea where I stood for the race. My goal was to break 1:10. The swim had gone well, my transitions were reasonably quick for me, and I really felt that I had pushed the bike as hard as I could. So when I saw the clock read 1:12 I was a little disappointed. But after I got to think about it for a little while I realized that I had ran my race exactly the way I had wanted to. Perhaps I could have pushed a tad harder on the swim, maybe I need to learn how to leave my shoes on the bike; but I ran this race smartly and did everything I could to do my best. And I walked away with two PRs! Last year I finished Couples in 1:25:46. This year I did 1:12:21. That is not too shabby of a boost. And, I have only raced one 5k in my life, but it was a 21:37 at the 2008 Jingle Bell 5k.

I know that I still have a lot of work left to do if I am to continue to achieve my goals this year in the Texas Tri Series, but this is probably one of the races that I am the proudest of. I just raced well. Hopefully I’ll post more about training and life in the coming weeks. In the meantime, run friendly!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I swear I'll be better...

I am quite possibly the worst blogger ever. It has been far too long since I have posted anything on here. So here goes a little catch-up entry. (This will be slightly glorified bullet points.)

After Strawberry's early departure from us, I quickly put her memory aside and replaced her with a younger woman - Snowflake. She is a gorgeous white Haro commuter bike and is doing a great job at getting me to swim practice and to work occasionally. Speaking of which, yesterday was the first time I got yelled and cussed at while riding to swim. Bikes have the right to take the entire lane on Pleasant Valley as you cross the dam, apparently this gentleman didn't read the sign. Oh well.

(OK the picture is crappy, but she really is pretty.)

Training is going well. The heat has certainly taken paces down a little, but I am sure that they will start to climb back to normalcy once I get fully acclimated. I have had to go out to my parents a few times over the past few weeks so have managed to get some good rides in out there. But, there is one road that looks incredibly innocent, but I swear it just shreds my legs every time I go down it. By summer's end, I will master you, Ranch Road 1900!!!! I have meant to do two loops out there but my legs are always down after one for whatever reason. Oh well.

Since I am already signed up for the Big Bend 50k in January, I am having to augment my triathlon training with trail running. I LOVE TRAIL RUNNING! it is beautiful, infinitely harder, and you cannot drift off while doing it or you fall. I am trying to start using my long trail runs as my long runs, but this is a new strategy and have yet to really implement it...stay tuned.

Last week I met Panther, my coach, at Gold's Gym and for the first time in my life, am entering into a weight training program. I have no intentions of getting big, but am tired of having pathetically no upper body strength. Today at lunch will be my first trip back to the weight room. We shall see...

That is the jest of the past month. I promise to get back on my blog post and get at least a post or two out per week. Colin is kicking my ass both in training and writing!!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Long Time Coming

Wow! I had not been planning on taking two weeks to make my next post. Sorry about that. I'll try to sum it all up fairly quickly.

Two weekends ago I went up to Fort Worth to see Sam and help him get ready to move into his new house. Well, the painting had not been going at the expected pace, so there wasn't much to do. But we did manage to ride our bikes from the house to his office so he could see if it will be a manageable commute; it is. But on the way back to his apartment, the straps holding my bike rack to the trunk snapped sending both bikes tumbling into the median. Thankfully the bikes and rack did not hot any other cars. (My knots holding the bikes to the rack held.) We were able to pull off to the side, back up, and pick up the bikes. Sam is still trying to decide if his is worth saving; my bike, Strawberry Shortcake, was going to cost $150-200 to repair, and even then it might have needed more. So I have ordered (and received) a new bike.

Last week there wasn't too much of excitement to report in the world of training, but I did make it out to my parents' for the long weekend. Thanks to my friend Mike, I managed to get a new bike rack and took Beva, my tri bike, out to the country. Saturday I was able to get about a 45 mile ride in. There were a ton of bugs out that day and by the end of the ride, my shoulders were speckled black with gnats. Sunday I wasn't able to get out early so I settled for an 8.5 mile run that evening in the heat. Monday morning I got up in time to get out on the road for a 20 mile ride and a 5 mile run for my brick. All in all, it was a great weekend for training. It was also nice to see the folks. :)

This week has been a blur, partly because it is short and partly because I am just busy as can be. Tuesday evening my group did hill repeats on Mesa in NW Austin. Not an easy run and even harder with the heat. Yesterday I got to go pick up my new commuter bike, Snowflake, and then do about 11 miles of trail running on the Greenbelt. We managed to get off the trail just before the storms hit. The storms came and went and this morning I crawled out of bed way too early and met my group, Riff Raff, for fartleks at the track. All I can say is that my legs are not feeling to fresh after all that. We shall see if I make it to swim this evening.

Oh! Last Thursday, Stacey and I ran the Rogue Raffler and had a blast. To top it all off, we both won some goodies! Stacey won a gift card to a restaurant and I won a pair of Adidas running shoes. I walked away with a pair of Adidas Marathons that feel great! Looks like I just made the Sweedish Olympic Team.

That pretty much catches you up. I'll try to stay on top of this blog a bit better in the future. Until next time, run friendly.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

The Road to Wellville

Well, this week has been a wash out for exercising. With the exception of failing miserably at hula hooping and running down the halls at Rogue trying on some new shoes, I got not exercise in. Today I have the most energy I have had all week, but the throat is still a little raw and it has been joined by some awesome congestion. I am in Fort Worth this weekend to help a friend get his new house ready to move into; I am hoping just getting away for a weekend (allergies and just escaping) will be good for me. We shall see.

The training related things that I can write about are that I met with a nutritionist today and that I bought new running shoes. As many of you know, I am not exactly the healthiest of vegetarians and that I have recently been told that I have high blood pressure. So this was a long time coming. I signed up for a 6 session program with her and am eagerly looking forward to working on it. Today's session was spent focusing on my current habits and what I need to start changing. Primarily I need to stop eating processed foods and start eating more fruits and veggies. Giving up my salty snacks will be hard, but I am pretty sure I can increase the fruits and veggies. I'll keep you all posted. For my drive up here I brought a cooler full of fruit and berries. Not too shabby for road trip food.

As for the shoes-my current Brooks Launch are probably getting to within 50 miles or so of being done. So Rogue had tweeted today that if you buy new shoes and say that you love Rogue, you get a free shirt! Figured that this was pretty good timing. Of course they did not have any size 13 Launch in stock and would not be getting any in until late June. Not so sure that would work, so I tried on a few more. Ended up getting a pair of Brooks Racer ST4s. They are a little closer to flats than my Launch, but not true flats. This should be fun to try out! That's about all I got. Until next time, run friendly!

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Down and Out

As I was getting ready for bed Sunday night I noticed that my throat was getting a little sore. No worries, I thought...But Monday morning rolled around after some pretty bad sleep and my throat was as raw as could be. Made it to work and was quasi-conscious through the first half of the morning, but by the time staff meeting came about I was starting to fade. Apparently my office was less than stoked with me showing up with whatever it is and sent me home around 11:30.

So, since last night I have been camped out on my couch slowly going insane. Since running and triathlon has essentially become the bulk of my social life, it really is hard just going a few days without doing something. Oh well, I am getting through a bunch of Netflix. Surprisingly, The Proposal is not nearly as bad as you want it to be. Yeah, I just admitted that on here. I really need to get out and go running.

I have realized that I am horrible at putting pictures on my blog, so I am including a lovely picture of my couch. I'll try to be a little more photo friendly going forward. Until next time, couch surf friendly!

Monday, May 17, 2010

I am a litterer!

Yesterday I went out for a little ride and really had no idea of how far I was going to go or how it would go. So, after I crawled out of bed at the crack of 10:30, had a little breakfast I hopped on the bike and headed east. For whatever reason (perhaps it was the 11 hours of sleep) I was feeling good and just kept riding until I came upon Manor. When I pulled into the Dollar General on the outskirts of town, I looked at my watch and it had only been about an hour and 15 minutes to get out there. Once I got home I found out that my route was a little over 21.5 miles. While this might not come off as astounding speed, I was very happy with it. The better part of the first half of that journey was through Austin and involved a fair amount of stop signs and traffic lights. Perhaps I am being a tad optimistic, but I think I was probably averaging over 20mph once I got out on the open roads. (20mph or greater is my arbitrary barometer of what I need to do at a minimum in my races.)

After my last race, I realized that I do not spend near enough time in the big chain ring and then shift way to early on hills and kill all of my speed. This ride I tried to not be afraid of dropping it into the big ring and gain the speed whenever I had a chance. The other real tri geek tidbit of this is that I mixed two bottles of Pure Sport Workout drink. It is an electrolyte powder that also contains protein in it. The initial taste is a tad different than what you expect from a lemon-lime drink, not really sure how to explain it, but it didn't take too long to get used to it. But it certainly seemed to keep me going for the duration of the ride. I took one Hammer Gel in Manor and then one when I got back home. Somehow I managed to make the return trip in just about the same time. Though as I was sitting at the light at Wickersham and Riverside I realized that I was one water bottle light from what I started with. Crap! I littered somewhere along the route. I AM A LITTERER!!!!

Oh well, as I dragged my guilt ridden butt into my house I realized that I still had a fair amount of energy. I had thought about making this a brick workout, but was not really thinking I would feel as good after the bike. So I grabbed my fuel belt and two water bottles and headed out. As I took off I decided that I would try to run down to the hike and bike trail and do the four mile loop and head back. It is about a mile and a half down to the trail so it would be a 7 mile run. My surprising amount of energy managed to stick around until I crossed the river at I-35 and reality started to catch up with me. By the time I left the trail and started heading back to my place, reality decided to really put me in my place. It felt like the end of a race just to get back to my place.

Alas I made it home. After a short stint in the pool to soak, I started to feel back to normal. I did try to wave to the other runners on the trail, but apparently an overly sweaty dude decked out in Lycra is even more frightening than just a typical waving runner. Oh well, I still tried and I will continue to do so. So - run friendly!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Rookie Tri

The first race of the season is under my belt. It wasn't the best race I have ever raced, but it was my first top ten in my age group! The Rookie Tri is a sub-sprint distance race and is the first of the five races that make up the Texas Tri Series.

Padre, a friend from my training group, picked me up insanely early and we headed down to New Braunfels together. We got there just as the parking lot was opening an got a great spot near the front. As we unloaded the our bikes it tried to rain a few times but nothing too bad. After we had our transitions areas setup, we had about and hour and a half before race time. So we sat in his Forerunner for about an hour before going for a brief mile long warmup run. After that, it was time to head to the start.

I dipped my toe in the water and felt that it was actually pretty warm, so I felt comfortable not diving in for a warmup swim and settled for just swinging my arms around to loosen up. Perhaps this was a mistake; I don't know. My swim wave was the second one to go off. After swimming all winter, my swim has become very strong so I was looking to devour this 300 meter swim. The gun went off and I took off hard trying to get in the mix of the lead pack and then just draft my way to the finish line. Apparently I was not the only person to have this idea. After about 100 meters, the pack was still incredibly dense and there was no stride not draft to find. I was out of breathe and couldn't seem to catch it no matter what I tried. I started to panic. After a few attempts at taking a stroke I realized I wasn't going to be able to just shake it off. So I struggled to make it out to the outside of the swimming "lane" and started to side stroke. I was still paniced and could not settle down. Somehow I managed to make the turn around the buoy and finally started to calm down. I decided I would try to get back to freestyle and see if I could bring it in. Outside of going horrifically offcourse, I managed to bring it in fine. After the race I was amazed to see that I did the swim in 7:02 or somethig like that. It felt like 20 minutes.

Transitions always suck for me and this was no different. Nothing bad happened, but just like all aspects of my life; smooth is not something I do. OK, I'm on a bike.

At the suggestion of my coach, Panther, I set out to go as hard as I could on the bike. Of course, my ineptitude in transition is only surpassed by my cycling capability. But off I went. Typically I get passed left and right but this day I only got passed by a few folks. Nothing exciting or eventful happened other than realizing that I am not fast going up hills; something to work on. Finally in right around 35 minutes I came up on the dismount line of the 11.2 mile bike ride. I unclipped without falling (which did go through my mind) and strayed trotting to transition.

Now this transition was by no means speedy, but for me it went pretty well for me. Grabbed some water at the gate and headed out to run.

Running is by far my strongest event, but for whatever reason, I was not feeling quick at all heading out. I had forgotten to look at my watch when I started the run so I didn't really have any idea what my pace was like, but I kept coming up on people and passing them. Finally we made the final turn to go run around the lake for the finish. I gave it all I had and managed to cross the finish line in just under 58 minutes. The run had taken me 12:39 which was good for the 3rd fastest in my age group.

After my poor swim I still managed to come in 9th in my age group. All in all I am very happy with the race. Hopefully I learned a little from the swim and can avoid having anymore panic attacks. Until the next time, run friendly! -Tanner

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Another Running Departure

For those of you that know me well, you know that I am a very political person. But, I try very hard to not bring politics into this blog as it really is a very divisive topic and this blog is really supposed to serve as a reminder of the things that bring us closer together - not further us apart. While political in nature, this article really seems to fit with that attitude.

So when I read this article, it echoes a lot of what my thoughts and feelings are right now with politics and the world in general. At the end of the day we almost all want the same things; a feeling of security that tomorrow the sun will rise again and for that to happen to our neighbor.

As I have said before, and will continue to do so; when you see another runner out there on the trail, give a smile and a wave. Even say hi. At least you know you have something in common with them. In the mean time, run friendly! -T

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Texas Round-Up 10k Report

This morning I awoke to run the Texas Round-Up 10k. I had not been planning on running this race until about a week and half ago when I found that my employer offered free entry to it. Well, who can argue with free?!

The last 10k race I ran was last year's Round-Up and my standing PR, 42:36. Now, I have certainly become a stronger runner over the past year, but with the exception of a 12k leg of a marathon relay last September, I have done no speed events, all triathlons and the Austin Marathon. And most of my training has been geared to more of the endurance events, so I really had no idea what to expect. My pipe dream of a goal was to break 40 minutes, but just bettering my PR would be great too.

I got to the race about an hour early to get a good warm-up in, drop off my clothes bag, and just not be rushed. Well, the warm-up was a little harder than I would have liked. I didn't do anything that I don't typically, I just felt more winded than I would have preferred. Oh well. Off to the portajohn, grab a sip of water, and head to the start line. Apparently I was not the only one that thought of this agenda. I got to the starting gates with about 5 minutes to go, this left me well back in the pack. I was about 10 yards behind the 11:30 pace sign; my goal pace was about 6:30. My work of weaving through the masses was set. The gun went off and a little more than a minute later I finally shuffled across the starting line and punched the button on my watch (my free entry fee was not for a timed bib).

Just as expected, it was a mad house and I was trying to running back my way through everyone without bumping or cutting them off. Things had thinned out a little bit by the time I hit the 1 mile marker at 7:08 according to my watch. Not as bad as it could have been but I definitely had a hard race in front of me if I wanted to pull of anything near 40. Luckily I found my stride and was able to hit mile 2 at about 13:30 and the 5k split at 20:45ish.

OK, breaking 40 was now out of the window, but a good race and a PR were easily in sight as I was still feeling pretty good and maintaining my pace. Miles 4 and 5 came and went without much ado, my pace still seemed fine. As I was making my way around the State Cemetery I came up on two guys wearing Rogue shirts. As I gave them the typical, "Go Rogue!" shout one of them shouted back to "Take it home!". That was the motivation I need to pound up the hill and turn towards downtown. Then there was the hill going up to the Capitol that is a killer. But I made it up that and realized that I was sitting at about 37:30. I wasn't sure how far I was from mile 6, but knew I had to be pretty close so I tried to pick it up a little and give it everything I could. Finally we worked our way around the Capitol and I knew I was close so I tried to pick it up another notch and just kick as hard as I could.

And then there was the final turn onto Congress and the straight away to the finish. As I crossed the line and stopped my watch I looked down to see 41:34 frozen on the display. I PRed by a minute! It wasn't the time that I had hoped for, and my time was certainly hampered by getting stuck at the back of the starting line, but still - I PRed!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Departure from running

I just finished reading an article on the new iPad and then a follow up article on the death of the book. A couple of years ago I remember there being a similar series of stories on the death of the CD and the iPod and iTunes. It prompted me to write a post on a now deleted blog and I guess I feel obliged to write again about this.

The post that I did before was about the death of the CD at the hands of iTunes and the mp3. I am a huge fan of albums and CDs. There is something about just putting on an album and letting it play all the way through and just listening to it. Not on shuffle. Not as background noise. But to simply sit down, listen to it, and let it engulf you. And if you play it on a decent stereo, the sound quality (noticably bass) is so much better than that of an mp3. How can we allow the CD and the album to die? There is such an experience to be had that we are losing.

But then I started looking at my CD collection and noticing its sheer size. The amount of CDs, the cases, and the liner notes. All of this...material. And it dawned on me. I need to try and embrace the mp3 not for the convenience factor but rather the environmental impact it can have.

I think the same argument can be made about books and ereaders. There is definitely an experience that is to be had flipping the pages of a book. The smell of a book store or a library. Even the black smudges that get on your fingers from reading a newspaper. But think of all of the trees that have been harvested over the years to bring us this. Are the words any different just because they come on a screen relative to a leaf of paper?

All this being said-I don't know if I will be looking at getting an iPad. Yes it is cool and pretty and can be a fine vessle for all that I mentioned above. But I am not so sure that I want to sail down this river in the exact fashion that Steve Jobs tells me to. Apple makes great products, don't get me wrong on that, but they are not open by any stretch of the imagination. If I want a laptop/netbook replacement I think I am going to want something that can surf the entire web, not just the Flash free portions. And if I want to download pictures onto my tablet, I don't want to have to go back to my computer to sync them on. And if Apple's history is any indication, it will be quite some time before they open their products up to this. I would like some choice as to where I buy my books and songs from. So I think I will hold off on getting a tablet.

It should be noted that I wrote this post on my iPhone. I never said I wasn't a hypocrite. More running posts to come; just felt like writing my thought down. Until next time, run friendly.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fatigue or Illness?

Yesterday morning I woke up after over 8 hours of sleep feeling as if I had hardly slept a wink. As I tried to go through my morning routine I become more exhausted. So I decided to call the office and let them know that I would be running a few hours late-thinking that all I needed was a little rest. Well, I never seemed to get any more energy. So I decided to just take the day off.

My training has not been as consistent as I would like it, but I have been getting more time in the gym in addition to my run and swim workouts. Today I made it into the office but am feeling only moderately more energetic. As I don't have any other symptoms I am hoping that this is just a simple case of fatigue, but am getting a tad worried.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tri it again

Once again I have been horribly remiss at blogging. And once again I shall make what by now is merely an empty promise to do better.

Since my last post I completed the Austin Marathon. It was my first and a very good experience. Despite being under-trained and dealing with a personal ordeal that left me quite ragged and sleep deprived, I finished in 4:09. All things considered I was pretty happy with it.

Now tri season has come around. My goal is to do as well as I can in the Texas Tri Series and see if I can't possibly break 5 hours at Longhorn 70.3. We shall see. I started my training regiment last week and will do my best to keep this posted with my progress.

OK, that's it for now. Run friendly!

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