Walden Pond (of sorts)

Nope, we didn’t build the house with our own hands.  Our closest neighbor is mere inches away.

But Goddess and I have made our retreat.

We’ve been in our home for a month now.  We finally received the last of our household goods a couple of weeks ago.  Most of the boxes are gone, although there’s still unpacking to do.  One musn’t rush these things, you know.  One of our most interesting dilemmas is that we’re going from a family of three (plus dog) to a family of two (plus dog), so we really don’t need anywhere near as much stuff as we do.  So we’re whittling stuff down a bit. 

Perhaps the most enjoyable part has been we’ve done a fine job of disconnecting from the world.  Don’t get me wrong.  We’re socializing quite a bit and getting out and doing all sorts of things in this beautiful country.  But we’re disconnected.

We don’t have TV, phone or internet in the house. 

It’s quite nice.

Really.

I did finally connect the DVD player to the TV the other night and we watched part of a movie, but that’s been it. 

I catch a bit of news on the computer here at work, do a quick check of e-mails and some very light browsing at moments like this when I need a break from work, but other than that, we are, for all intents and purposes, disconnected.

Now it won’t last forever.  We know that.  Daylight is rapidly shrinking towards those winter days where we have only eight hours of daylight, which just happens to coincide with the hours that I’m at work.  And it will be cold enough that we can’t sit out on the back porch for hours after sunset.  So we’ll slowly reconnect.

But one musn’t rush these things, you know.

2009 Clarksville Duathlon

Why couldn’t we have had this weather last weekend.

Overnight there were flood watches and warnings issued.  It pissed down rain pretty much all night.  When we woke up at 5 am, we were drying out, with all of the rain north and south of us.  By the time we left, the hole we were in filled in, so it pissed down rain again.  But no lightning, so all was good.

Transition was set up in the rain.  The pre-race brief was held in the rain.  The start went off in the rain.  And it was 52F.  Perfect.  But it must have scared some folks off.  I don’t know how many registered, but only 24 folks showed up to race – 20 individual competitors and two 2-person teams.

The course was a 2-mile run, a 13.1-mile ride and a 2-mile run.

Mind you, other than four quick 5-mile rides this week to make sure the bike worked properly, this was the first time I had ridden since doing this race a year ago.  I was banking on my running fitness getting me through the bike leg.  Of course, running fitness was highly questionable after last Saturday’s very warm Country Music Marathon.  Typically after a Saturday marathon I’m feeling fine by Tuesday or Wednesday.  Even during a short run yesterday my legs felt like bricks.  So I really had no idea how I’d do today, but that wasn’t a worry.  This is a fun race that is all about going all out.

So the start whistle blew and we were off.  The idea was to get out quickly and then settle down.  Mind you, settle down needed to be right at LTHR.  Actually it ended up a bit higher, with most of the run in Zone 5a:

image
Run Leg 1, Heart Rate x Distance (with Pace)

Both Goddess and I measured a touch over 2.1 miles for the leg on our Garmin 305’s.

So that was 2.1 miles in 14:59, for an average pace of 7:06/mile and a peak of 5:55/mile,which I used to get ahead of the start line melee.

Arriving at T1, I was fourth overall.  First was way the hell in front, while second and third were about ten seconds ahead.

I forgot how much fun it is to bend over to change shoes while your heart is exploding in your chest.

Out the gate on the bike and I settled in, making sure I didn’t put too much power to the cranks in the opening miles, knowing that this was a rolling 13.1-mile course with a few turns.  Those that pushed hard in the beginning would pay dearly near then end and especially so during the final 2-mile run.

A mile in, a cyclist flew past me like I was standing still, putting me in fifth overall.  He’ll become important later.  Two miles later, I passed the guy in front of me, so I was back in fourth.  By now the rain had stopped, so it was quite pleasant. 

There was a hilarious moment at mile 4.5 as we had to negotiate a hairpin turn onto a new road.  I saw a minivan approaching the stop sign as I was slowing to make the turn.  The lady driver had her window down and was telling the volunteer that he needed to do something about the cyclists, because with the mist in the air we were impossible to see.  Mind you, in my chosen field of meteorology, surface visibility is an important parameter to observe and forecast.  I looked off at the tree line in the distance that I could clearly see, which I estimated to be 1.5-2 miles away.  I couldn’t figure out why I could see those trees, yet she couldn’t see us in the opposite lane.  For the next mile or so I calculated that she must have been traveling in the neighborhood of 750 mph in order to not have the appropriate reaction time.

I want that van!

Anyway, as I said, the course had some rolling hills.  Here’s a shot of the Garmin-calculated grade, with a curve of my speed (blue line) overlaid:

image
Bike Leg, Grade x Distance (with Speed overlay)

Between miles eight and nine, I was passed, putting me back in fifth.  The much older gentleman that flew by had some speed.  Immediately thereafter, the guy that I passed between miles three and four passed and asked if this was a drafting race.  I found it interesting that he was able to catch and pass me, since he was a couple of hundred yards behind me when I passed the lady with the amazingly fast van and fell ever further behind with each mile after that.  I replied “No, it’s a USAT-rules race”.  He should have known what type of race it was, since they handed out a USAT rule crib sheet with every registration packet.  I passed him a second time about a half-mile later.  I don’t know if he was drafting; only he knows that.  But his bridge up to me was while I was maintaining a 22mph average through that stretch is pretty impressive.

T2

In the last mile, I saw first and second heading out on their last run leg.  Soon after, a woman went flying by too.  Turns out that the guy who flew by me at mile one of the bike leg was part of a team.  So that meant I was fourth overall in the solo division.

And to the right I am on my (archaic by triathlon standards) Softride with old, old-school Spinergy’s as I dismount going into T2. 

I am quite upset that they no longer make those bikes and I can’t have another for my next bike.

Considering that I had only 20 miles in my cycling legs for the past year, I was very, very pleased with my bike leg.  Goddess and I both measured 13.33 on our Garmin’s.  I covered the distance in 40:12, for an average speed of 20.37 mph.  Not too shabby.

I hit T2 in fourth overall and flew through.  The much older gentleman that rolled in to T2 in front of me arrived at least a minute before, but I exited right on his tail and passed him within 100 yards, putting me in third.  Then I settled in to work.  This time I knew I’d be cranking the legs as hard as they’d go.  I focused on my turnover and tried to keep the cadence high.

image
Run Leg 2, Heart Rate x Distance (with Pace overlay)

We were running out one mile, turning around an orange cone and heading back in.  At about 3/4 mile, I heard feet behind me.  Turns out it was the guy that asked about drafting.  He had some wheels on him.  Much more than I had.  We hit the turnaround at the same time and he pulled steadily away after that.  At this point I settled in for a bit, waiting to see if he would tire.  With a half-mile to go, he did slow, so I ratcheted up the pace.  He turned around and saw me coming, so he picked it up and held me off through the finish line.  So I finished fourth overall amongst the solo racers, first in my age group.

For the last leg, since the exit to transition was in a different place than the start line, I measured the advertised 2-mile run at 2.15 miles, covered in 15:52, for a 7:22/mi average.  Not as evenly paced as the first leg, but still not too shabby.  Especially with the 6:17/mi pace as I crossed the finish line (below left).

Finis

This was the second edition of the Clarksville Duathlon.  If you read last year’s race report, you’ll recall that they had some issues, which are to be expected with a first-run event.  I can guarantee you that they more than overcame those issues and put on a high class event this year. 

I also have to give the organizers a huge congratulations for picking such a great cause to give all of the proceeds to – Fisher House.  As you may recall, I ran a donation drive for Fisher House last year as I was preparing to run my 40-miler in Baghdad.  And if you come to this post from my blog’s main page, you’ll see that the link to Fisher House remains in the upper left.  I maintain that it’s a great cause to support, so if you’d like to, please click and donate.  I get nothing from it (I already got my t-shirt), so don’t worry, all of your donation goes directly to Fisher House.

So if you are anywhere near the area next May, I highly recommend this event.  The timing, one week after the Country Music Marathon, is perfect.  It forced me to get out on the bike and spin my legs to loosen them up.

—————————————–

Now it’s time to look forward. 

If you stayed awake through my post about planning and Training Load, you’ll recall the segment on Training Influence.  If you didn’t stay awake that long, the gist of it is that based on my personal recovery rate, the training that would have the most influence on my next race would typically be approximately 28-32 days prior to the race.  After that, there’s diminishing influence until the my taper date, which is typically 10-12 days prior to the race.  After the taper date, no amount of training will have a positive influence on the race, so that’s the time to back off and let the body rest.

Anyway, since my next race is on May 30th, my calculated max training effect date was yesterday.  But I clearly didn’t go out and crank out a 20-miler.  No way.  Not after last week’s very warm marathon.  However, the marathon, even though it took a lot out of me, could have a huge positive influence on the outcome of the race at the end of the month.  Much like the 60K I ran in mid-March had a huge positive influence on my ability to survive last weekend’s very warm marathon.

So if you are in the Paducah, KY area at the end of May, meet me for a fun run, otherwise known as RUTS.  Run five, 13, 26, 50 or 60 miles.  Your call.  But having fun is mandatory.

Driving Tempo

It was rough to get out the door today.  For some reason the stomach was feeling off early on.  Then Goddess made a game of making it difficult.  She’s good like that.

But I was on a tight schedule for the day and had to get it done. 

The run.

Not Goddess.

That’s later.

It’s warm today, in the low 60’s.  Too warm for my liking, especially with today’s workout, which was a long warmup followed by three miles at 10K pace plus for the tempo.  Besides the temperature, the wind certainly wasn’t going to help.  When I headed out the door, it was in my face at 20mph, gusting to 35mph.  I took no time at all to warm up, since it was everything I could do to get to and maintain a 9-minute pace.

Then it was into the trees, where the wind was completely blocked and I was quickly on my way to overheating.  But it was a nice stretch of road.  And after the first three miles were done, it was time to get to business.

I planned on using the wind to my advantage and heading north, with the wind to my back.  But for the first mile I was still in the trees, so I had to get back out into the open.  And the only way to get into the open was to get out of the holler that I was in (yep, I said holler, although we aren’t between mountains).  Here’s the profile:

Running  KY 3-31-2009, Elevation - DistanceNeedless to say, the heart rate was appropriately through the roof at when I hit the 4-mile mark, so I had to throttle back a bit once the terrain flattened out.  Then it was time to cruise with the wind to my back.  The breathing was steady and the sweat was flying.  Everywhere.  I was constantly having to squeegee the sweat out of what little hair I have just to keep it out of my eyes.

At about 5.75 miles, I was impressed that I was flinging sweat behind me, against the wind, so far that it was making it down to splatter the backs of my legs.  Then I realized that it wasn’t me.  It was raining.

I’m good with that.

So the tempo ended at six miles, as planned.  It coincided with a turn that now gave me a 30mph crosswind.  And 1/4 mile down the road, another turn made it a 30mph headwind for the last mile home.

And that’s when it really started pouring.  My forward motion, coupled with the wind, made for a driving, driving rain.  It felt like I was getting shot everywhere with BB’s.  But I was smiling. I LOVE IT!!!

I probably looked something like this guy:

Rain Runner by Sam Javanrouh

Except I wasn’t wearing pants (shorts, silly) and I do not run with headphones.  And I was grinning.

BTW, that pic was taken by someone who’s photos I enjoy daily.  If you’d like, browse over to Daily Dose of Imagery and have a look at life in Toronto, Canada.  Some beautiful shots there.

Hopefully your run, or other chosen activity today, was just as enjoyable.

Rockin’ Weekend

Unfortunately, no concerts were involved.

Friday was a beautiful day.  Cloudy, a bit of drizzle, temp in the low-50’s.  A gorgeous day for a long run.  And that’s what I did.  A 20-miler, my last “long” run before next month’s Country Music Marathon.  The plan was go out with the race in mind, negative split the course and keep my overall average pace within 30-seconds of my goal pace for the marathon.  And that’s exactly what I did.

First was figuring out a course the replicated the CMM, which is fairly hilly during the opening miles, then flattens out as the course winds its way along the Cumberland River.  I think I did that pretty well, although I know this 20 mile course is a bit tougher.

On top is my course, on bottom is the CMM course that I ran last year.  This year they’ve made some minor changes to the course, but nothing drastic.

 

At the risk of jinxing myself, I am now confident in a significant PR for a marathon.  Now it’s just a matter of managing my fatigue, tapering well and avoiding a last-minute injury.

Saturday was a day at work.  It started out slow, then turned into quite an interesting afternoon as we issued a tornado watch for the area and then watched everything blow up around us.  It’s one of those days of mixed emotions.  You don’t want it to happen, but when you lay it all out there and forecast it when the day is nice and bright and sunny and there isn’t any activity anywhere near, you sure do hope that it does; y’all abuse us weather folks enough, remembering only the times that we get it wrong (which really isn’t that often). 

But this guy got it wrong:

  

So very wrong.

Once the storms blew up around to our west and headed our way, we kept our fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be any significant damage and ideally no injuries. 

It rolled through and we had reports of hail and wind damage in the area, as well as one highly questionable report of a funnel cloud, that, if the spotter was correct, would have put the funnel directly over my head as I was standing outside.  A good look at the radar afterwards confirmed that there wasn’t any rotation. 

But the real worry was up north, out of our area of concern.  An EF-3 tornado rolled through a rural area of Kentucky.  We were interrogating it pretty hard on the radar and shaking our heads, but had to turn our attention to those storms that were still coming at us.  Luckily there weren’t any reports of significant damage or injuries in our area of concern.

Sunday turned out to be much, much colder.  Everyone out west got the snow, we just got the cold.  So after work it was an easy 5-mile run in tights and doubled up long-sleeves.  And that run took me over 60 miles for the week. 

And that definitely puts me on track for a marathon PR.

But we shall see.