3 weeks in one post

Yesterday I was feeling a bit down. I think it was the after effects of 4 weeks of living on adrenaline and a shoestring budget to support Rachelle’s transition to Colgate University. It reminded me how much more work I have to do to get us to a place where we can support just picking up and moving on short notice for Rach’s career, which until she works herself up in the industry could happen every year.

Thank goodness the work and the worry paid off. And frankly, it paid off IN SPADES.

After packing the whole house in North Carolina the day of my last post, we spent our last night in NC before heading to New York. While I’m sure I’ll miss the mild winters of NC when I’m on a trainer in January in NY, one thing I won’t miss is the long drive from Angier to my parents, especially those trips through the mountains of WV. Our first trip to our new home lasted exactly one night. After a 12 hour drive, we put almost everything we own in storage, and spent the night in a hotel I would only stay at again if all the makeshift roadside campsites in the world were occupied. On a lark we changed plans for boarding Stanley for the week and were able to find an affordable place here in New York so we didn’t have to drive him to Michigan for boarding on our way to Indiana.

Indiana you may say, what’s in Indiana? Well 2 weekends ago, my cousin married her longtime boyfriend/fiancee at the Basilica of he Sacred Heart at Notre Dame University. The only places I’ve ever seen churches that compare were in London and Paris. Such a beautiful bride in a beautiful church. And the reception was something to behold. Maybe not quite as amazing as having your reception in a castle (I have to keep reminding Rach how amazing that was because she wants to have us get married again so she can have another day like that), but pretty spectacular especially considering it went off without a hitch during a nasty thunderstorm and tornado warning.

I don’t always drink beer, but when I do it’s in a shirt and tie with my hot wife

After the wedding it was back to Michigan for a couple days at my folks before 3 days with my family at a cottage in Michigan. What could be more awesome practice for living in a lakeside cottage than by spending a weekend with your entire family in a lakeside cottage that sleeps 15? We had a fantastic time, swimming, playing games with the family and fishing. Thanks to my uncle John and my cousin Kyle, picking up fly fishing didn’t take me nearly as long as it would have. I’m no expert, but at least I’m catching fish already. In fact I caught my first fish, a 10″ Largemouth Bass, on my first full day of having my rod and reel.

me, Kyle, and the first fish stupid enough to fall for my fake fly

After the weekend with family, it was another full day in the car to camp, this time for 3 days on our own in luxury accomodations at the Lebanon Campground just outside Hamilton. Our move in date at the new place was 8/15, but Rach had to start work on 8/13, so we made due for 3 days.

Home sweet home?

I don’ mean to make it sound at all like we suffered, far from it; it truly was an adventure, and an enjoyable one at that. But after 2000 miles in the car in just 10 days and living out of a suitcase for 2 weeks, it was time to be home. Which finally happened last Wednesday when we moved into our new residence (at least until May of next year when it will change at least for the summer while the cottage is rented out by the week or used by its owners). That’s months off, and because the house is furnished, it won’t be nearly the work of a normal move to go somewhere for the summer. That small detail means nothing in comparison to the opportunity we have in living here.

The view from our back deck
Stanley and I cruising on the neighbors boat yesterday

You’ll notice I didn’t mention training yet. That’s because I haven’t been, at least not really. I rode about 40 miles at my parents house before the weekend at the cabin with my family, and finally rode a few times when we got here. But the 2 week hole in formal training gave me pause about tackling Rev 3 Cedar Point, even just the half aquabike. The cost of travel and entry made up my mind further. I’ve been swimming some, even doing a 3/4 mile training session the other day in the open water along the edge of the lake. And I’m still doing Rev3/Half Full Tri in Maryland in October. The Olympic Aquabike. I have a full month to finish adjusting to the elevation here, get used to the climbing on the local roads, and get my ride endurance back where it was in time for a challenging Half Full Course.

At first I was disappointed about Cedar Point, but now I’m becoming more comfortable with the decision that doing it would be less fun than not doing it, and giving myself time to get back into a schedule and be where I need to be for the next race is a really good thing.

Giant Eagle Olympic Tri Race Report; Or When Training Pays Off

In four years of triathlon, I’ve never had a race that went according to plan. Sure I’ve podiumed a few times in small age groups, and I’ve finished most of the races I’ve started. But I’ve never had a race where my training (and not the lack thereof) led me to set goals that stretched me, and I would have to put together a good day in order to reach them, and then I reached them. That is until this past Sunday at Giant Eagle Olympic

Race Setup: This is a point to point race that stretches from a Northeastern Columbus suburb and ends  just across from Nationwide Arena. A 2 loop counter-clockwise swim totalling 1500 meters. You exit the water to a semi-clean transition (they provide bags but let you set up like normal so long as everything winds up in the bag when you’re done) to the bike. The bike begins with 5 miles of mostly flat followed by 5 miles of slow climbing, which deposits you near the top of Columbus proper for a ~14 mile descent into the heart of downtown. A slightly less clean transition (especially if you’re one of the later folks to arrive) leads you to a slightly hilly run (lots of little ups and downs, but nothing as drastic as say Timberman’s course), which winds around the riverfront area of downtown before finishing under the old penitentiary arch.

The swim: The water was just barely wetsuit legal, but I had days before decided I was going without. I started at an easy pace to make sure I didn’t go out to hard, and I found I was able to sustain pretty easily. In fact for anything above a sprint, this is the first race I was able  to swim without rest stops every 200 or so yards. I only had a couple hiccups; I paused briefly a couple times to sight more clearly; I took a mouthful of nasty lake water that almost made me puke, and I took the worlds longest midrace pee right after starting lap 2. I shit you not, that pee cost being under my goal time because none of my other stops were more than a couple seconds. That pee was at least 45 seconds to a minute. And I had already gone twice before the start.

Swim Goal: 45 minutes

Actual Swim: 45: 46

Things to improve: Get wider goggles for open water swim sighting, practice swimming laps counter clockwise, keep pushing distance

T1: No wetsuit meant an easier recovery than normal from the swim, and once I found my bike, I was ready pretty quickly, but then I had to get all the swim stuff and morning clothes in the bag and tidy up my transition before leaving. I’m guessing that cost me about a minute.

T1 Goal: 3 minutes

Actual T1: 4:00 (this is a close estimation as T1 timing failed so it lumped into bike official time)

Things to improve: practice transition, getting shoes on without sitting, jogging with bike

Bike: We drove the bike course the night before the race, so I knew what to expect and once we got past the first 8 miles or so, I knew the roads pretty well from the years spent living in Columbus. Cycling is where living in North Carolina has really paid off; what used to feel like big climbs in the past, I now just gear down and spin my way slowly uphill. The first few miles were pretty easy, then the climbing came, and with one exception that felt pretty easy as well. There’s a .5 mile long climb at mile 7 that I geared down pretty far in order to make it up without taking too much out of my legs. It was during that hill that I passed maybe the first person I’ve ever passed (aside from Rachelle) going uphill.

A couple miles later, I started the downhill run to downtown. I felt like Chrissie Wellington, grinning like a crazy person. I put some good efforts in as the course wasn’t completely downhill, but I also was trying to conserve energy for the run. I had the cardio to thank a lot of the police and course volunteers (there were TONS! A felt safe throughout the entire bike even on main traffic arteries). Riding by OSU and many other places I’d visited so many times, before cornering right by the arena, was a pretty cool feeling. Even better was feeling fast and strong. Great bike course, fast but with enough bumps to make you work a little.

Bike Goal: 1:33

Actual Bike: 1:28:01 - Easily a PR for 24.3 miles, and a 16.6 MPH average! An exceeded goal, and by several minutes!

Things to improve: I still coast too much on flats, I need to keep building for consistent cardio to keep pedaling

T2: This felt a lot faster than it actually was. I had to find my bike rack, get all my run gear out of the bag, switch shoes, fight with laces, get out of bike gear and head out. I was walking in transition, and there was a long chute to get out of T2 to point runners the right direction. I went with short socks instead of CEP compression to save time.

T2 Goal: 3 minutes

T2 Actual: 5:10

Things to improve: the clean transition still flummoxes me. Dump the stuff, put it on and leave. Run, don’t walk, even if you’re tired. No excuse to waist time in transition.

Run: Things had to come back to reality after a strong 2/3rds of the race, which they did, but again my training showed itself. When I blew up at Belews Lake, I wound up with a 1:41 on a day that wasn’t that hot (though the course was hillier). I started the run pretty strong, alternating 1/4 mile run/walk intervals. I managed that through the first 2 1/2 miles when running started to feel really awful, so I just tried to stay close to a 15 min/mi pace as I walked up and down the little climbs of the course.

There was a point where I thought maybe I’d gone of course (you’d think I’d be used to being the only one out there after all these races). It wasn’t just me; a woman who had passed me came walking back towards me asking if we were still going the right way. We were but I certainly understood her concern. The heat and humidity were pretty intense by this point, and I was glad to have run in the Carolina heat this summer. As I crossed the finish line some of my Eleonore Rocks teammates were waiting for me with high fives at the ready and I actually jumped up and stomped on the timing mats as I went through.

Run Goal: 1:31

Run Actual: 1:36:21

Overall: I know it’s a slow time for a lot of people, but for me beating my goal of 4 hours feels like a huge success. I trained this summer with this and Cedar Point in mind, and the first half of that goal is now complete. I worked hard, but I know I can work HARDER. I didn’t focus much at all on my run, I didn’t do enough bricks, and I certainly have room for improvement in even the areas I did well. I will say that I thought I handled the bike quite well, and I beat 20 peoples bike splits, which is more than usual. But I know I should be able to do it all faster and I’m going to. A big thank you to my friend Chuck who was kind enough to host Rachelle and I for the weekend, put up with our early bed times, demanding food requests, and getting up early to be our own personal shuttle driver to and from the race. (More on Chuck tomorrow)

Overall Goal: 4 hours

Overall Actual: 3:59:20 ! (skin of my teeth!)

I missed the big group shot because I was still racing, but was lucky enough to get a picture with a few of my teammates who were waiting around for race results.