Catching Up

Rain, rain, go away.

Well, not that I mind the rain, especially since the corn needs it. And I don’t mind the rain during runs and rides. It’s the lightning that’s a bitch. And the rest of this week doesn’t look any better.

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, but that’s life.

So what’s been going on?

Music-wise, we drove up to Evansville a week ago Sunday to see Tool in concert. Excellent show.

The warmup band was a Japanese noise band called Melt Banana. The best way to describe them is that you’ll have to imagine a band that combines the best of Discharge and Einsturzende Neubauten, fronted by Kate Bush on speed. Although you’d have to imagine that Kate would actually deign to let out dog yelps on occasion. Definitely too esoteric for the Midwest US crowd.

Tool played for right at two hours. Nice to see, given ticket prices. Now, I find the ticket prices to be reasonable; it’s the t-shirt prices that have gone insane. I guess it’s been 10 years since I’ve gone to a large arena show, but $38-$43 for a t-shirt is starting to gouge the fans a bit much. Anway, the music was solid and filled the arena well. We had general admission tickets for the floor, so for the first half of the show we weren’t but 20 feet away from the stage. After a while, we got tired of standing on the concrete floor, as well as having smoke (both legal and otherwise) blown in our face by the considerate ones that decided that the no smoking regulations of the venue didn’t apply to them, so we bought some sodas and grabbed some seats way up in the nosebleed section. Actually it was a much better view of the entire show and the sound was better. Imagine that. Definitely a worthwhile move.

Next concert on the schedule will be Alison Kraus and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas. My lovely bride and I are definitely looking forward to this show, although the 16 year old boy has opted out. We were about to pounce on tickets for the following weekend to go see Linkin Park‘s Projekt Revolution 2007 up in Indianapolis, but then realized that although the ticket prices were good for an all-day festival, we had no desire to see any of the supporting bands. Too emo for my taste.

I’m going to have to get a second job to support my music habit. On top of my other second job to support my tri habit. On top of my other job to support my (fill in the blank) habit. Ad nauseam.

Training’s going well. I’ve shifted my focus more to getting in time on the bike and on the run and cutting back on the swim. I can swim like a fish, so I really don’t need to grind out a gazillion yards. That won’t help my race. But higher bike and run volume will. So that’s where I’m headed.

But it’s been so bloody humid here lately. This morning’s 10.5 mile run was good, except it was 70F and 100% humidity at sunrise this morning. It was bad enough that I actually carried water for the first time on a run and drained the 20 oz bottle by the 7 mile point. And the bad part about my sweating out every ounce of moisture in my body is that the shirt gets soaked. That’s when I realize that I forgot to put bandaids on; now the pink stain on the shirt looks real yummy! Perhaps it’s time to buy some Nippits.

On top of all that, I had a 1000-1500 word essay due yesterday. And in fine Bill form, I started researching on Saturday night and wrote on Sunday while watching the four different Ironman-branded races. Got it done with time to spare. The worst part about it was doing the research on Physical Education classes in the US. Do you realize that on a daily basis, only 18% of all students actually partake in a PE class? And only about half of those actually participate? Is it any wonder that we’re getting so fat as a nation?

Ah well, time to knock out the homework for this week. Business travel at week’s end up to St Louis. Luckily it’s close enough that I can drive, so the family can go with me. What a deal.

Hope all’s well with you.


Water bottles and me

  1. When peeing on the bike, wait to swap water bottles until after you’re done. You’ve already had those electrolytes.
  2. After spraying the attacking dog with pepper spray, do not let the first thing you touch with your forefinger be the nipple on your water bottle.

I’ve been riding for about 20 years now. Always something new to learn.

Broken Bolts, Bonking and Papers

Not much of a tri update this time around.

As I mentioned in my last post, my parents were driving up from Florida; my dad was to help me rebuild the rear suspension on my 1964 Chevy Fleetside truck. And that’s what we did.

The front end of the trailing arms broke free pretty easily. Almost every other bolt had to be cut off, which took quite a bit of time on Saturday. Luckily I foresaw this situation and had ordered all new bolts and nuts, which were on hand before we started this project. By the end of Saturday, the only thing attaching my rear axle to the truck was one bolt on the rear torsion bar.

Good thing we did this job too. Once we had things off, I found that one spring was broken and both U-bolts holding the trailing arms to the axle were badly worn and that one was cracked about 75% of the way through. What does that mean? If the bolt broke, especially at freeway speeds, the rear axle could have swung wildly and I would have had zero chance of controlling the beast. Not a good thing.

It was quite a bit of hard work. Trying to torque off rusted, frozen bolts that have been in place some 43 years tested my tri-shaped muscles in ways they weren’t used to. By Monday, I was completely knackered, almost worse than after some of my long bricks.

As with any vehicle work, injuries come and go. Luckily we both got out with minor scrapes and a few bruises. Although on Sunday it was touch and go for a minute as I was wedged up under the frame, sitting up with my back and shoulders pressed against the frame. I reached out for a tool and my left arm popped out of its socket, which happens from time to time with me. Unfortunately, it was stuck straight out and I couldn’t move it by myself to let it slide back into place; I was wedged in well enough that I couldn’t slide my butt forward to get the pressure off of my shoulder. Luckily, my lovely bride and mom (who went to nursing school way back when) were able to rush over, stabilize my arm and slowly rotate it forward enough for it to settle back into place. Just a few minutes later I was back under the truck pushing and pulling.

After two weekends with two different sets of parents, today was the beginning of my serious training for my Iron-distance race in September. And I started off in fine form. After a long run this morning and a small lunch, I was up to my old tricks of not fueling enough. Needless to say I bonked on my ride this afternoon. So I’ve been spending my evening trying to make up the deficit.

On top of all of that, I had to submit three topics to write on for my online English class. The topics were due yesterday, but I finally decided on three topics while on my ride today. Oh well, 24 hours late is better than not at all. The bad thing is that of the three topics, we’ll have to pick only one and then write our three papers this term on the same topic, writing from different perspectives. The exercises will be interesting, but like most of my classes, I’ll be bored with it only eight weeks into the 12-week course. Luckily the course will be done in mid-August, a full month before my race.

Twelve+ hours of training this week, my lovely bride’s birthday, and a Tool concert to end the week. All-in-all, good days ahead.

Why We Tri

Endurance Planet just posted a wonderful little video entitled “Why we Tri“. Click on the title to open the video in a new window. Unfortunately I can’t embed it here.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Last week was my first training week after my post-race recovery. My virtual coach had me straight back into high volume Base training with a 15-hour training week. Too bad I didn’t make that, but I’m OK with the idea.

My in-laws dropped in for a few days, which made training at that volume a bit hard to fit in. But that’s OK, family comes first with no reservations. This weekend my parents come into town and it’ll be the same thing. I’ll squeeze in a run or ride if I can, but I don’t plan on it, especially since my Dad’s coming in to help me rebuild the back end suspension of my ’64 Chevy truck. I know I’ll get plenty sweaty doing that. I’ve already managed to break a few bolts and I suspect I’ll break a few more. If not, I know I’ll be cutting a few off too.

One thing I’ve been amazed with is how fast the corn is growing. The back of the yard butts up against several hundred acres of corn planted by the Mennonite family that lives just up the hill. This weekend I walked back and looked at the corn, which was just barely waist high. Today, just a few days later, it’s chest high, perhaps chin high in places. And on today’s ride, I discovered the downside to the fast growth. Where I recently had wide open roads and fields which made it easy to see cross-traffic approaching, I now have a few blind corners on my favorite routes. Oh well, I’d rather have the greenery and scenery.

I hope all is well with you.

My Photography

One nice thing about taking the week off after a race is being able to catch up on other things. Lots of beer and lots of work on the truck.

One addition to these here parts is a new page with a few of my favorite photographs that I’ve taken over the years. At the moment, it’s mostly photos from the years that we lived in Japan. But I’ll add some from time to time, as long as they become a favorite photo of mine.

To have a look, please browse here or click on the tab at the top of the page.

Thanks for reading.

Taylorsville Race Miscellany

Since we traveled to the race, it’s not just about the race. We try to squeeze in a couple of other things if we can.

First off, you gotta love the t-shirt. This wasn’t the only one available for the race, but the one that made me and my lovely bride giggle. So it’s mine.

Our post race dinner took us to the Claudia Sanders Dinner House in Shelbyville, KY. If you follow the link, you’ll find that the house is where Kentucky Colonel Harland Sanders moved his operation to prior to establishing the Kentucky Fried Chicken chain.

Good food and a fun atmosphere, with folks wearing anything from t-shirts and shorts (me) to a wild but formal wedding reception in the next room (except for when they did “The Train” through our dining area).

The day after the race, we traveled about 30 miles south of the race course to what is a Mecca of sorts for me, the Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, KY. Now that’s one fine bourbon. The tour’s free and I highly recommend it if you happen to be in the area. The distillery and tour is not as long nor as widespread as the Jack Daniels Distillery tour, but every bit just as good. Better yet, Maker’s Mark is not in a dry county like Jack Daniels. And Maker’s Mark is in the process of building a taster’s bar, set to open this September. We’ll be back.

Instead of buying a bottle of Maker’s Mark, which is the same as I can pick up at any other store, I picked up a couple of glasses and a jigger with the Maker’s Mark distinctive wax seal. Quite nice if you ask me. And more glass to add to my distillery/brewery collection.

Taylorsville Race Report

Bottom line – I finished!

My planned time, not my goal, was 6 hours. I based on that total time on where I expected to be based on my training so far. Here’s how it panned out:

Swim (1.2 miles): 35:19 (4th of 22 in my Age Group)
T1: 1:30
Bike (56 miles): 2:55:14 (5 of 22)
T2: 1:52
Run (13.1 miles): 2:32:04 (19th of 22)
Total: 70.3 miles in 6:05:38 (12th of 22)
or 49th of 73 total finishers

So I hit my planned time pretty close. My number one goal was to simply finish. Everything else was gravy.

I didn’t do too good of a job researching the race beforehand, only to find out last week that I was facing over 5400 feet of climbing during the ride. Since I don’t have too many significant hills in my area, this was a shock. And since I’m a heavy rider, I knew that it was going to be quite an experience.

The quick recap -Wait, wait, wait; start, swim, swim, swim, splash, swim, swim, swim; run, peel, run, peel, pedal, pedal, pedal, coast, pedal, pedal; run, run, run, walk, run, walk, walk, walk, run, walk, run, Finish!

The long recap:

Thanks to a very cool night (47F) and a warm 71F lake, visibilility was zero. Apparently this isn’t the first time it has happened for this race, so the start was pushed back 30 minutes to start at 8:30am.

Swim – Very comfortable. I didn’t push the pace and kept right at a 1:40/100 yard pace, which is my normal pace during my long pool intervals. I know I could have gone harder, but didn’t want to since I didn’t know how the rest of the day was going to play out. So I was quite surprised today to see that my swim was 4th in my age group.

With only about 100 people in the water (there was an AquaBike event at the same time), the jostling was fairly non-existent, although there was one jerk who decided he needed to swim over me hundred yards or so into the swim even though there wasn’t anyone else withing 10 feet of us; a couple of well-placed elbows got him to move along.

The course had buoys set up in a curved line, with the turn-around buoy about 1/3 mile out; we had to do two laps of the course. Since the buoy line curved to the right during the out leg, I’d end up a bit wide and have to correct, but nothing serious. What I couldn’t understand was that on the return leg, folks were sticking right next to the buoys instead of taking the straight shot from the turnaround back to the start buoy. But everyone has to swim their own race, right?

Transition 1 (T1) – With a 100 yard run up the boat ramp into the transition area, the wetsuit came off quick with no problems. I set up on the far end of the transition in the very first rack, so I had the furthest to run, but only feet to carry my bike out and back in. Wetsuit off, gel in pocket, helmet on and bike off the rack. Done in under 2 minutes.

Bike – Straight out of the transition is about 150 yards of gradual uphill in the parking lot, then a steep climb of 120 feet in about 1/10 mile. What a nice way to wake the legs up after swimming. Like I said above, 5400+ feet of climbing to come in the next 56 miles and the start was one of the worst. Not the worst, but one of the worst.

The worst was at the 25.5 mile point, where we climbed about 150 feet in 1/10 mile. With my wide load, I was passed by six guys on that climb. It took me the better part of the next 20 miles to catch half of them.

For me, the best part of the hills is down. I’ve got enough extra weight that gravity is my friend. And in the flats and small rolling hills, I’m a locomotive. It’s just the short and steeps uphills that really knock me down. Luckily those were few. I passed about as many as passed me and heading out to the the turnaround point on an out-and-back leg, I counted that I was in 12th place overall. But that was right before that steep hill at 25.5 miles.

Finishing the bike leg was welcome. I still felt quite strong, but could feel the onset of fatigue. At this point, I was 3:30 into the race. I was pleasantly surprised to see that if I ran my expected 2:00 half marathon, I’d finish right around 5:30, which would be great for my first 1/2 IM distance race.

Transition 2 (T2) – A quick dismount and then scattering to grab my water bottle that I kicked off the back of my seat. Since I had the first rack, it was just a few feet to my area. I had planned on standing and putting on my socks and shoes, but ended up on my butt, which took extra time. No big deal. I was still out in under 2 minutes.

Run – No problem getting the legs moving. I never do after a long hard ride. Up the parking lot and straight back up that steep 120 foot climb. Now that didn’t feel good. Not at all. I started to feel some pain in my stomach, which is odd, since I never had problems with my food during training and I hadn’t introduced anything new. Midway up the hill, a lady passed and asked how many times we had to go up – “Luckily only once”. She took off and blazed her way to a 1:33 half-marathon and Overall Female win.

At the top of the hill, my lovely bride and son had jumped in to help out at the aid station. That’s where they caught me, still looking fairly strong. As you can see in the background, that’s Taylorsville Lake and the spot in this picture isn’t but a 1/2 mile away; that’ll give you an idea of the climb. Luckily they didn’t take any more pictures until the finish, because soon after this is when it got quite ugly.

My normal pace after a long, hard 80 mile ride is a comfortable 9:00-mile. A 10:00-mile is my “go all day long” pace. If you do the math above, my average for the 13.1 miles is 11:36.

With my stomach giving me fits, I knew to slow down and let it work itself out. It took until the 4.5 mile point before I was comfortable enough to take in some water. 2 miles later at the next aid station, I took in some Heed and some water. I kept running, but the pace was slow and I knew it. But I kept working through it and never got discouraged.

By the 8 mile point, I gave up any plans of a 5:30 finish. I was still confident on a 6:00 finish, but that confidence was waning with each stride. By the 9 mile point, I realized that I could walk faster than my shuffle was moving me. But I didn’t let myself walk long, more for the mental aspect. By the time I hit the aid station at 10 miles, I knew that I was well on my way to finishing and hoped that knowing that would boost my pace. It didn’t. I walked the first 1/4 mile after the aid station and got to shuffling again.

A couple of more walking bouts and a few more shuffles and I got to the final aid station at 12.5 miles, only to find that my lovely bride and son had left to meet me at the finish. Normally you’d think that would get the legs moving, but mine wouldn’t have any of that. Luckily the steep downhill was coming and that got the legs moving. A sweeping left turn into the parking lot and a long gradual downhill to the finish and I was done. Not far off of my original estimation of total time – 6 hours, 5 minutes, 38 seconds.

Post mortem – In hindsight, the bike leg was my downfall. I felt good throughout that leg, but I wasn’t hammering hard. I kept my heart rate under control and never overexerted myself. But the total climbing was a good 4,000 feet more than any other ride that I did during training. But that wasn’t the whole story.

During the ride, when it’s easiest and best to fuel, I only took in a total of 800 calories! I thought I was doing a good job of keeping on top of my fuel and feeding consistently, but when I’m burning 800+ calories an hour, taking in only 800 during the 3-hour ride certainly wasn’t going to be sufficient to get me through the 1/2 marathon at the end. By comparison, during a 4-hour bike/run training session I’d typically take in 1300 calories, and that’s with 4,000 less feet of climbing on the bike.

And with the stomach issues that I had on the run, that just served to push me deeper in the hole. Once I was able to drink some HEED, the small cups only gave me, at best, 50 calories each. By the 8 mile aid station, I grabbed a single Fig Newton, but that certainly didn’t do much for me.

I made it across the finish without getting wobbly, so I can’t say that I completely bonked. But I was almost there. Once back at the hotel, I weighed myself and I was 5 pounds lighter than I was before the race that morning. So it definitely took it out of me.

But I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. And that’s all that mattered.

Now I’ve got this week to rest and then start up again. In just four months I’ll be tackling a full Ironman-distance race (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). And I’m ready for it.