Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Baton Rouge to New Orleans Relay Race - 2015

This is a race along the Mississippi River levy from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.  I have run a couple of races on the levy, in February, and they are always cold and windy.  The levy is raised (no-duh) and has not shelter or wind block. The river acts as a wind corridor.  I packed 5 changes of running gear including 3 long sleeved shirts for running at night.  I checked the forecast one last time and it indicated that the high, during the day would be 70 degrees and the low would only be 48 degrees.  I repacked and 86’d the long sleeved shirts.

There were 6 of us in a van.  Originally we had a driver but we overlooked the fact that the driver was not over 25 years old – not permitted to drive the van.  Oops.  It would work out for the best – with 6 in the van and all of our gear it was already tight.


Race headquarters.

Some of the Krewe 
(one of these guys would lose a couple of socks and gloves on the run - don't ask)

Charles started us out.  His strategy was to start out hard since we would surely fade as the night came.  Well, he went out hard and we each followed suit.  It was hot, while the levy is flat it is also gravel – this made for a tough run.  Miraculously, after about the first 20 or so miles, when Jason brought the fifth leg home, we were first overall.  We were elated and did not really know what to think.  This was a shot across the bow of the younger faster teams.  Unfortunately, they responded in spades.  We gradually slipped back a couple of paces per 10 – 20 miles.  Team fancy pants – a group of co-ed kids with tie-dyed running tights grabbed a bunch of time from Keith’s second leg.  We were now in third place.

The last bathroom I would see for 17+ hours.

Then the race got hard.  Day turned to humid night and in most legs we were all alone.  On my third leg Charles was neck and neck with Team Mercedes.  He handed off to me and I was 10 steps behind.  I paced the runner.  Our van roared past me on the river road below and ridicule was spewed from the open windows.  They were incredulous, how I could be behind.  Breathing hard I eased up to the runner and said that “yes, these were my friends”.  He understood – he has giving more than he had in hopes of not getting the wrath of his own team.  I pushed passed him and put in a very respectable effort – weight graded this may have been a new PR.  I arrived a couple of minutes in front of the disgraced runner to zero fan fair.  Jason had become the relay Sherpa – no one else was even getting out of the van at this point.  Half way done!  That'll do pig.

We were passed by Team Mercedes in the next 10 miles or so and were finally regulated to fourth overall.  We could not make up time on the front runners.  We just had to maintain pace to stay in fourth (we had all but wrapped up the masters division (40+)).

We called them Team Mercedes because they had one of these.

Keith ended up taking an hour or two powernap and holistically healed his broken body with sheer will and cold beer.  His last two legs would be his fastest of the night.

We were ahead of our predicted time by 20+ minutes but ended up giving about half of that back.  We finished the 126.2 + miles in 17:10:48 with an average pace of 8:10 minutes per mile.  We were 13 minutes behind 3rd and about an hour from first overall.

If I had to pick one word to describe this race, the first word in my mind is not fun.  It was a challenge and much harder than I thought it would be.  We raced hard, every one of us for every leg.  Once again, it was a challenge.  It was satisfying to finish the race.

We made a good team.  Thanks - Charles, Terry, Jason, Keith and Jim!

This would prove telling.  I caught a flight right after the race.  Southwest has open seating.
  No one sat next to me on either flight - go figure.

Good thing I had it covered!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cycling shoes are dishwasher safe?

Once again I started to notice that the cycling shoes were getting funky.  A couple of years ago I spent an afternoon defunkifing the shoes but this time it was late afternoon and I did not want to dig out the bucket (I briefly thought about putting them in the Jacuzzi tub).

I had read that you could put the shoes in the dishwasher (when your better half was not around). 

I checked over my should and decided to try it out.  I placed two pairs of shoes on the top rack.  I set the dishwasher to the non-heat setting.

I was disappointed with the results.  They were cleaner but not super clean.  I went ahead and got out the bucket and cleaned them the old fashioned way – you can read about it here.

After the next cleaning (and drying) the shoes were oh so much better.   The funk was gone!


Silver again!



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mighty Magnolia 2013 Race Report

As I mentioned previously, there were a lot of changes (2013 training and prep) since the last time I raced the Mighty Mag (2011 Mighty Mag Race Report).


Well, the equipment for the swim was the same and the starting lineup was similar.  I started at number 16 towards the very front of the 350+ line.  I had not been swimming much the past year but my times were close to where they have been in the past.  Without many people in front of me I just cruised the swim.  I was alone except for the 4 or 5 people that I passed.  I gave them a wide berth and did my own thing.  I ‘water jogged’ the swim 18 seconds faster than 2011 (2013 – 8:20 / 2011 – 8:38) and placed first in my age group, go figure.  That being said I was 1:13 slower than the fastest swim of the day – that is a lot of time in a third of a mile swim.

T1 -

I ran out of the water as soon as I could stand.  I unzipped my long john wetsuit and ran up the short rise to T1.  I had some trouble getting the wetsuit off of my legs and sat down in transition and pulled the legs off.  I felt like I gave back the 20 seconds I gained in my swim in T1.  I was actually 5 seconds faster (2013 – 1:11 / 2011 1:16).


I made the decision to not race on my race bike due to lack of conditioning.  I am a better cyclist this year.  The course is tough with lots of rolling hills.  I was out on my own for the entire ride passing only a couple of people that were ahead of me.  I also got passed twice, I think.  The bike was uneventful except that being in the aero bars and the slammed stem I was not able to produce the amount of power that I should have.  There is a compromise between aero and power and by not practicing or adapting to the position I think I left a lot of time on the table.  I finished the 16.5 mile bike 92 seconds faster than 2011 (2013 - 46:10 @ 21.4MPH / 2011 – 47:42 @ 20.8MPH).


Me on the bike testing the position.

T2 -

I grabbed my running visor and race belt and headed out.  A volunteer noted that I had my swim goggles in my hand as well.  I dropped the goggles prior to leaving the transition (a great volunteer put them back next to my bike – super cool).  I was 5 seconds slower than 2011 (2013 – 53 / 2011 47).


Running has been my strong suit.  Not during this race.  I blame a lack of bricks (1), low run mileage (15 – 20 miles a week) and being heavy (10 lbs).  I remember running this in 2011 and while it hurt I was running well.  I was charging through the few people ahead of me.  This year I was over cooking the run and not moving as fast as I wanted.  I had to back off and actually walk for 10 seconds around mile 1.  Looking at my heart rate average (after the race) I really was working hard – I just wanted more.  In 2011 I ran the ‘3 miles’ (it is a little short) in 19:01 (4th best overall for the day).  This year I gave up a whopping 2:41 – almost a minute per mile (2013 – 21:42 @ 7:14/mile / 2011 19:01 @ 6:21/mile).

I finished the race in 1:18:19 (57 seconds slower than 2011).  However, I did legitimately win my age group (Sam was the only 40 – 44 male that was faster and he won the overall). 

In my age group I was 1st in the swim, 2nd in the bike (behind Lance) and 4th in the run.

Not a bad overall showing but there is definitely room for improvement.  I feel like this race was a high school test – sure I got a B but what if I would have studied?


Friday, October 25, 2013

Mighty Magnolia 2013–Training and Prep

Congrats on your come back – Ginger – Living the Tri Life

Don’t call it a come back, I’ve been here for years – LL Cool J

Before the race, the last triathlon I did was the Mighty Magnolia (clears throat) 2011 and I did not do any running races since RnR NOLA 2012 (half PR).  Well, there was a trail run that I ran in a banana suit last fall (Rattler Ramble).  It is not like I have been sitting on my duff – it is just I have not needed to toe the line.  My bike volume has been the biggest ever (I have averaged 130+ miles per week since March), the run volume has been low to moderate but consistence and the swim – well, I got in the pool some before this race.


Packet pick up the night before

I signed up for the Might Mag way back early in the spring.  I made a commitment.  I put down my money for accountability reasons (and the race is much cheaper the earlier you register).  You also get to start earlier (time trail start based on when you register – I was number 16).

I ended up having a good race, not a great race but a good, solid race.  I generally only sign up for races (triathlon, running or otherwise) when I can do my best.  I like to push myself, test myself and reach for PR’s.  I have a good track record of achieving these because I don’t race every weekend.  I am not interested in doing a training race – training is training and racing is racing.

But this race would be different.  I haven’t exactly been sitting on the couch the past year (remember, lots of biking) but I am at the very upper limit of my comfort zone in weight, which is defined as all of my clothes still fit me just fine but they might be a little snug.  I’m not hitting the big and tall racks but I could stand to lose 10 pounds (and 15 to get to my absolute leanest).  And when it comes to racing light is right – nowhere around that fact.



I often say that I am a proficient swimmer – I’ll get through the swim but I’m not going to win any races in the water.  Looking it up (well advanced in an art, occupation, or branch of knowledge), proficient that might be too strong of a word.  I am more of a confident swimmer.  I am a water jogger and like most triathletes the swim is just a way to get to the bike.  I am not a line watcher and I would much rather being playing water basketball or water volleyball than swimming laps.  I tallied my swim training sessions for the year the breakdown is nothing to brag about.

One of those (the weekend before the Mighty Mag) was actually an open water swim.  I also wore the wetsuit for the first time on race day since the last time on race day (2 years).  I tried it on the night before and hoped that it would fit (I did have to get some help from a big strong man to zip me up – thanks Chris).
I have been biking a lot this year – more than ever AND better than ever.  I have travelled to 3 large group outings (century rides and the type) and I have been training with a lot more focus.  I have embraced the training with intensity and concentrating on longer power efforts.  This has meant that I have participated in fewer group rides.  I have found that when I am in a group ride I am very rarely riding where I need to ride.  Depending on the group, I am either coasting along in the draft or in fear of being dropped.  A lot of my rides have been solo (early morning) and at my intensity level.  Guess what?  I am riding better than I ever have.
Last year I rode my race bike twice, for a spring time trial on the trace (I got a PR - 30:21 @ 23.33 MPH (for 11.85 miles)) and for a fall (late summer) time trial on the trace (I got another PR and finally broke 30 minutes – 29:46 @ 23.78 MPH (for 11.85 miles)).  I did not ride my race bike at all this year – all miles were on my road bike (even a hilly Epley Road TT – road bike no aero bars – results).  I also got a new road bike in mid September (a Litespeed C1 – I will tell you all about it in another blog post, promise).  I brought my race bike and my new road bike out to the Mighty Mag race site the weekend before the race.  I wanted to do some aero testing.  I have a powertap power meter and with a careful consideration for details you can extract the difference in CDA (coefficient of drag) using the Chung method (pdf and calculator).  I used the same wheels and tires on my race bike and my road bike.  I did a couple of test runs to establish a base line.  After about 30 or 40 runs (8 combinations tested) I determined that my HED-3 wheel (with Bontrager Aero TT tire) and my Rocket Air aero helmet is the fastest combination on both the road bike and the race bike.  The race bike was a good deal faster than the road bike (riding in the drops).  However, the race bike was very uncomfortable (soft tissue issues – in fact I wondered to myself how I could have ridden this bike in an IM – oh yeah, actually riding the bike more than once a year, that’s how).  Even though the Mighty Mag is only 16.5 miles I decided to stick with the road bike (it was not as fast but pretty fast for a road bike).  I then sent out the call to triathlete community to see if I could borrow a set of clip on aero bars.  They responded, in fact Lance even brought me two pairs to my house.  I slammed the stem on my road bike and bolted the bars into place.  I only got a short shake down ride of about 10 minutes the morning before the race with the new set up.
Road bike in race trim
Slammed stem
I went out to the race site two weeks before the race to ride the
course with some friends.  After riding the course and a slow transition I ran most of the run course (skipped the little out and back sections).  This was my first brick in two years (since the last time I did this race).
So that was my training and prep for the race – lots of things were not optimum -
  1. Very little swimming and zero practice in the wetsuit
  2. Changed everything on the bike (including the bike)
  3. Running mileage way down, weight up and zero bricks

This started as a race report but ended up being a short training / prep / triathlon year in review.  Stay tuned for the race report!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tour d'Oconee - Tame The Lion!


The Lion

We left in the pouring rain at 4AM from Hattiesburg.  We were off to visit our friend whom had moved to Georgia.  The forecast called for rain the entire weekend and during the entire 62 mile ride. 

The rain let up a few hours into the drive and by the time we had made it to Watkinsville the sun was out and the weather was perfect.  We ate a quick lunch and went for a quick 20 mile tune up ride.  After the ride we made our way to the Terrapin Brewery!






The crew



This was a hilly area.  Of course, everything is hilly when you live in Mississippi. 

Although this was just a ‘ride’ it took off at 27 MPH – and that is not an exaggeration.  Our goal for the ride was to try and hang onto the front group as long as possible.  I am the weakest of our little group but I am pretty good at dodging the wind (I <3 drafting!).

But I was out of position, in the front middle section of the riders (not the racers).  The group accelerated and took off quick.  I was red lined from the first 10 seconds of the ride just trying to bridge the gap.  It took me a couple of minutes but I was successful!

Right after I was on the back of the front pack they made a hard right turn.  The pace line was like a slinky I was off the back again.  It took almost everything but I battled back to the tail end of the front pack.

But too many matches had been burned too quickly.  I was blown up, failing back and loosing ground rapidly.  This was at mile 6.  Bear in mind, that this was a 62 mile ride.

I ascertained that I was in ‘no man’s land’ and there would be few riders around me of a while.  I rode solo for a couple of miles – still working hard but not red lined at 27 MPH. 

A couple more guys popped off the front group and drifted back.  I was able to regroup with 4 others.  Later another joined our second tier group.

Since we would be with each other for a while we introduced ourselves to each other.  I was from MS, Bill was traveling from FL to New England, Chris, Johan (from Germany) and Jason were locals.

We took turns at the front and made good time.  While the front group made zero stops on the ride we decided to take on water at mile 30ish – I also need to pee like a race horse.

This was a hilly, windy ride and as the miles at intensity racked up I could feel the fatigue.  I was not alone.

On a particularly long hill as Bill and I crowned the apex we looked back.  Jason and Johan were near but Chris was not to be see.

Bill asked aloud, “Where is Chris, the guy in yellow?” 

Johan replied in the best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation that I have ever heard, “He has capitulated!” I laughed out loud.  That is the best term for dropping off of a bike ride!

ca•pit•u•late (kəˈpɪtʃ əˌleɪt)
v.i. -lat•ed, -lat•ing.

1. to surrender unconditionally or on stipulated terms.

2. to give up resistance; yield: to capitulate to someone's pleas.

Lance and Keith stayed with the lead group until mile 15, Sam until 40 and Raland the entire ride!