Monday, July 25, 2011

Injury-free to Tri the Mountains!

Since my previous post, my calf/achilles injury has finally been settling down and becoming less and less aggravated through training.  Initially, I only noticed any pain when running, so naturally I thought this was the source of the injury.  Unfortunately, after taking a good 7-9 days off from running I was finally able to shake the injury... only to have the same pain return a few days later.   I tried thinking back to when the injury started, trying to make some sense of where from which this issue came.  Soon I realized that during the 7-9 day running hiatus, I also was not able to cycle much due to traveling to New Orleans and Houston.  Additionally, I remembered a slight discomfort in my achilles shortly after my bike fitting a loooong time ago.  After doing some research, I decided to try repositioning the cleats on my cycling shoes.  One of the more significant changes during my fitting was my cleat position... moving much further forward than previously.  In short, after repositioning my cleats to the furthest aft position as possible (this was my previous philosophy... Joe Friel's take), significantly less strain is being put on my calf and achilles... so far, NO MORE PAIN!!  :)  Stay tuned tho, because this is a pretty recent development and could quickly change...

I'll go on to a quick race report now from yesterday's sprint tri in Blue Ridge, GA called Tri The Moutains.  This was a 600yd swim, 18mi bike, & 5k run (I hate mixing units given my engineering background, but I've gotten over it through the years with triathlon) through the relatively hilly (not mountainous) north Georgia, Blue Ridge region that is very popular for hiking, outdoors, lake, etc vacations.  This was certainly a good sight-seeing race and caught myself admiring the views during portions of the bike.  Anyways, on to the race report...

BEEP BEEP BEEP... there goes another one of those annoying cheap hotel alarms that try to wake you up with a heart attack... I hate those damn things.  As many of my closest are aware, I have an obsession with being very early (or, in my mind, on-time) for all my races, no matter the distance.  I set my alarm early enough to easily be at transition around 5am (when it opens).  Turns out, I should have looked at the clock before leaving... I arrived at transition before a lot of the volunteers, around 4:40am.  In all honesty though, I liked it... I wasn't tired, I had the entire transition open to me alone, no line for the timing chip, and PLENTY of time for my pre-race prep and warm-up.  Ok... prep transition... stretch... warm-up... stretch... move on to swim start.
Swim  (11:03, 1:51 pace)
3..2..1.. GO!  And so begins the most violent swim start of the season so far... after being kicked in the side of the head once, constantly being shoved by the guy next to me (who couldn't seem to swim straight), having my goggles bumped multiple times till they filled with water (stop, clear, and get back to swimming!), legs getting tangled with other people's arms.... put simply, it was a very annoying and difficult swim start.  Eventually, I just said screw it and sprinted aggressively for the next 50-100 yards.... thank you Endurance Planner training for getting me ready for those speed intervals while still having enough juice for the long haul.  The rest of the swim went pretty smoothly, and before I knew it, I was spotting the swim out.  Swim as long as possible, get my land legs under me, and start running towards transition.
T1 (0:33)
T1 went very smoothly... not very much to say here.  Pop on the Rudy helmet and shades... get in, get out!
Bike  (48:14,  22.4mph)
Overall, the bike was my strongest discipline of the day... the course was filled with rolling hills and I've been working on my hill performance over the past 7-8 weeks.  I don't recall one flat stretch over the 18 mile out-and-back route, so I was very excited for this course. Starting the bike, I noticed I was immediately passing a lot of people on the first few hills, which really felt great as they seemed to be strong, well-fit cyclists (looking at bodies and their hardware... come one, we all do it!).  Also, I never knew this, but apparently, I am very strong at down-hills... I'm thinking that it's due to my weight compared to the other competitors (me = 175, others = ~140-150 generally).  On every down-hill I am quickly gaining on, passing, or increasing my lead on the other competitors.  Eventually, as I'm closing in on the mile 9 turn-around point, I noticed that there are only 2 other cyclists ahead of me!!  INASANE!  I was really excited to see this since I am not used to being in the position to compete for an overall top 3 finisher!  Eventually, I will learn that there were some guys in the second swim wave (>40 yrs male) who were ahead of me, time-wise.  On the return trip, a ridiculously fit 47 year old pulled slightly ahead of me, otherwise the final 9 miles went very quick and smoothly.
T2  (0:29)
T2 also was very uneventful... rack, de-helmet, slip on the Avia's, and off I go.  All in all, I had the overall fastest combined T1 + T2 time... which is very awesome in short races like this!!!
Run  (20:53,  6:44 min/mi)
Starting the run with a slight uphill sucked... especially with my lack of brick workouts (bike & run combo workout) so far this season (bricks start this week actually).  I felt very slow, but I knew that I had a long downhill upcoming... kicked up the cadence, shorten stride, and keep pushing towards the downhill!  From the start, the aforementioned 47 yr old was right in front of me keeping a good pace, so I decided I would keep with him unless he slows down or someone tries passing.  The downhill went fast, and was followed by a long gradual uphill... that sucked again, but I knew that I had <2 miles left and I had done hard run intervals longer than that under the Endurance Planner workouts.  Eventually, I saw the looooong finishing straight (~400 yards).  Feeling pretty spent by now, I looked behind me to see if anyone was closing and I saw a guy that seemed to be ~50-100 yards behind.  After thinking about this for a couple seconds and not knowing if he was closing quickly, I decided to pass the 47 yr old and pick up my pace to the finish.  Shortly later, I crossed the finish and learned that "the chaser" wasn't really chasing at all... in fact, I chatted with him afterwards and learned that he was quite exhausted as well and had no intention to make a last minute pass.

End result, I finished 7th overall, and 1st in my age group with a total time of 1:21:10.  I was hoping to finish in top 3 age group, but didn't expect to finish first and have my personal best overall place so far!  Before yesterday's race, my best overall finish was 10th.  Big thanks to Endurance Planner, Nuun, and Rudy Project for helping me in training and preparing for Ironman Hawaii in October.

Additionally, though details are still in the works, I have locked in another amazing sponsorship with Endurance Planner!!!  I've mentioned Endurance Planner in the past, but it is a self-sustaining triathlon training software that designs and guides you through a training program with the detail that is unmatched by most personal trainers.  I can go on and on about this program, but instead, I highly suggest all my triathlon friends and those aspiring to do their first triathlon to look over their website and seriously consider it as a future training upgrade that will last for years.  Let me know if you are interested in getting Endurance Planner and I'll share my 10% sponsorship discount with you  :)  :) 

I'll be very busy prepping for the Houston move, studying for finals, and training (of course) over the next two weeks, but I'll try to post something before I leave Atlanta.  If I don't... my next race is in Shreveport, LA at the River Cities sprint next Sunday, 8/7... I'll let you know how it goes!!!

Till next time......

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