Another great day at the Georgia Veterans Triathlon (Sprint). I managed to put up a personal best for this race, despite sucky swim and bike conditions.
My previous posts for this race:
This may be my last prep race before Augusta 70.3 and then, Ironman Florida. My main goals were to test some recent equipment changes, some transition tweaks, and nutrition strategies. From those respects, everything went very nicely.
Down and Dirty
I really enjoy this race. It was my first triathlon. This is my third time doing it. The swim, swim transition, bike course, and run course are all very friendly, and conducive to the first-timer, or the vet looking for something fun. This time around, the weather was less than friendly with recent thunderstorms creating choppy lake water, and wet bike pavement. There was a slight drizzle for the swim start, but it was gone by the time we got out of the water. The roads were wet for the bike, making navigation on the older road beds tricky. However, the roads had dried a good bit by the run start. I put up a personal best on this course, despite these issues. It was a good day.
Distances: 400 yard swim, 13.6 mile bike, 5k run. With relay team option, also
Course: Loop 400 yard swim in Lake Blackshear;
13.6 mile loop bike, no aid stations;
5k out and back run, 2 aid stations (can hit them going each way).
Registration: $55, early mail-in, USAT member. I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .
Host: Georgia Multisport
Weather: I could see thunderstorms in distance on the road to the race. It had clearly recently rained, and the race start was delayed 30 min, due to the delay in clearing the course from the recent thunderstorms. (good thing too, because a tree had evidently needed to be cleared from the bike course roadway). It was drizzling as we waited to start the swim, but that ended before we got out of the water. The wind did, however, create the choppiest swim conditions I’ve seen to this point. Even more difficult than Turtle Crawl. Good training though–we can’t predict what race conditions will be for any future race, and it is necessary to train and be prepared for all sorts of things. Same goes for the bike. The road was wet, and at least one guy I passed got some road rash. He stated all was good, though. My front tire was skipping on the older eroded sections of asphalt. Perhaps I could have taken a few pounds of pressure out of the front tire, but then again it was fine on the smooth sections which make up maybe three-quarters of the course. Weather for the run ended up being ideal, and I was blowing past people at a high rate of speed.
- Swim–Start at a sandy boat ramp. A simple out for 150 or so yards, hang a right for 100 or so, and back.
- Bike–Fairly flat. The first third to half is twisty and mildly technical. A couple of slow risers on the second half. Virtually dead flat on the last stretch.
- Run–Fairly flat also, a couple of short rollers between mile 1.5 and 2.5. Punch it after the last turn.
Competition: Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers.
My results: Mid pack on swim, Mid pack on bike, and front on run. An improvement for me all things considered. My greatest opportunities still lie in the swim and bike. Need to work on muscular endurance for swim to better overcome tough swim conditions. Once warmed up on the bike, I was able to build speed and hold it. On the run, I kept my strokes short, and continued to build speed after first mile.
General Impression: I really enjoy this race. It is well organized. Safety, especially on the tricky portion of the bike is a priority. There is roadway traffic, but it is light with no jerks. Nice looking t-shirt.
Room for improvement: No complaints.
This time I made the three hour drive from home race day morning with no hotel stay. This year it is important that I control my expense with two very expensive races on the calendar. The previous two years I’ve spent the night before in a local hotel. Also, with more experience, for these shorter races, I can wake up early, make the road trip, bust a race, ride back, all in one day. Trick being, as with all races, to get a really good night’s sleep the second night before. How many races can you really get a good night’s sleep the night before anyhow?
My goals were to test some things in preparation for Florida.
- I had recently installed an new wheel set, which works beautifully, however the new gearing had some kinks to work out.
- I’ve been training in Vibrams, but don’t want to race in them for a couple of reasons, hence I recently bought some Saucony Hattoris and wanted to test them in a race scenario.
- New water bottle configuration, and homemade sports drink.
- New bungee swim goggle straps, which have been working great in the pool, also worked great in the lake.
I woke up about 3am, got packed, out the door, and on the road by 4am. Arrived at the venue right at 7am, set up transition, chilled out for a while. Got a good warm up swim. Bust the race. Ate some post race food. Saw I had no chance of medalling, and made the three hour drive to the princess’s soccer tournament. After the tournament, drove home one hour. Showered and made it to Keb Mo / Aaron Neville concert not too late.
Such is the life.
It was a good day.
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The last couple of months have found me riding and running new and unfamiliar routes. In the last week I’ve revisited some of my tried and true, if somewhat recently neglected, routes. I often desire to seek out new scenery, new stimulation in my training. Along with this, time constraints force me to closer, well-worn trails–Often with a sense of drudgery.
That sense of drudgery never lasts very long though. Once on the trail, I begin to relish in the training.
Recently, I’ve run a couple of my old standbys, and found myself remarkably stronger in certain dreaded sections. Over the years, I’ve steadily improved on these hills. However, the recent improvement has been dramatic and surprising. Particularly so, given the time away.
Hence, another, more practical benefit to familiar routes is their benchmark factor.
When you’ve been away from one certain dreaded hill for several months, and return to it, never quite hitting the wall, still strong as the hills begins to top out–you now have confirmation that the training has been paying off.
Another reason to Praise Familiar Routes.
Today will finish out Week 2 of a 20-week build to Augusta. The 20-week plan is actually a full Ironman distance plan. My objective is to build 20 weeks into Augusta, take a week off, and then repeat the last five weeks going into Panama City.
For the past several months my focus has been building muscular strength and power, as well as rebuilding my swim stroke. At some point in my final training stretch I need to cut down the heavy lifts and gym session frequency. A couple of weeks ago my right knee felt weird doing front squats, which precipitated a break from leg work in the gym. That on the heels of my back seizure incident, let’s me know the timing for this switch was right. With double sessions virtually every day, the recovery time needed from heavy lifts and three times a week frequency creates too heavy a training load.
Week one went well, and I capped it off with Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl Olympic Triathlon.
This past week, my local county pool was closed for routine maintenance going into Memorial Day, so that gave me the opportunity to get some extra gym work in. Knees are feeling better.
Right now I am as fit as I was going into Augusta last year. My specific race fitness isn’t there, particularly in the run. However, on the bike and in the water, with little race specific training, I am stronger than ever.
For the past several weeks I’ve been repeating the week one training going into the actual 20 Week build. However, my recent back incident and Life have made it slightly difficult. I have however, been able to reproduce the swim side for the past few weeks.
Additionally, those unexpected interruptions have left me feeling stronger. And if there were any doubt, today in the gym I was able to do five sets of power cleans, where my best to that point has been three.
Strength training wise, I’ll go down to twice a week in the gym, with a calisthenic & running speed session, for example Tabata protocol, or Crossfit-style “Helens”.
Given the past few races, and recent long sessions these are my emphases for this season:
- Swim–technique and endurance.
- Bike–muscular endurance.
- Run–Muscular endurance, Speed.
I just put my first triathlon of the season in the bag (I have a few more races scheduled)–it was the Spring Fling at West Point Lake, on the border of Georgia and Alabama. (West Point, Georgia, near LaGrange). This event actually consists of two races–the West Point Triathlon, an olympic distance, and the Spring Fling Sprint.
My selection of this race was that it was the first sprint distance scheduled on a Sunday. My Saturdays are impossibilities until after soccer season. In fact my next race will be the Turtle Crawl Olympic at Jekyll, the first Saturday after soccer season!
Down and Dirty
This is a fun race. The weather was great, the water temp was a tad cool, but I always feel the lake temps are cool. The people are fun, and the volunteers super helpful.
Distances: 600 yard swim, 15 mile bike, 5k run. With relay team option, also
Course: Out and back 600 yard swim in West Point Lake;
15 mile out and back (essentially) bike, no aid stations; 5k out and back run, water at start and 1.5 mile mark.
Registration: $65, early mail-in, USAT member. I hate online registration through those thieves at Active.com .
Host: Georgia Multisport
Weather: Weather was beautiful and warm. The water was still a tad cool–Wetsuit legal. I was able to test my new Xterra john suit. Weather stayed sunny and rain-free all day. I didn’t notice the heat until after the race.
- Swim–Start and end on a boat ramp, which is always slightly tricky in terms of toe scrapes. A simple out for 250-300 yards, hang a left for 50 or so, and back.
- Bike–Rolling hills. Somewhere this course was called flat and fast. It is not flat. No killer climbs, but don’t look for the flats. A Pit/Staffordshire mix came charging out on one uphill. Thank you to the sheriff who chased him off.
- Run–Again, not flat. Rolling hills, no killer climbs. I’m sure I negative split on the way back.
Competition: Mixed bag of super fast guys, and first-timers. The first olympic distance guy was out of the water in 17 minutes. The last olympic people were behind me.
My results: Back of the pack swim, mid-pack bike, front pack run. Mid-pack overall, back of the pack for my age group. My biggest opportunity still lies in the swim, but I feel that getting better with every training session. My next opportunity is in the bike, getting stronger and smarter there all the time.
General Impression: Fun race. Close enough to home to get up early and drive to, race, and drive home. Well supported during all legs, with nice post race recovery food (I did not try, and cannot vouch for, the pizza though)
Room for improvement: Swag period. We got our numbers before hand, and the t-shirt. No swag at all though 😐
I woke up at 3:30am to get ready and leave for the race. I had done minimal preparation the night before (which I regret). My aim was to be on the road at 4:30. I finally got going pushing 5am. From my house it was right at 2 hours to get there. Definitely load up all your stuff once your parked, and head down to transition in one shot. the closest parking is 1/4 mile. Where I ended up parking is 1/2 mile easy. You don’t want to make that round trip unnecessarily.
Once I got parked, unloaded and down to transition, transition was technically closed. (One reason I recommend you stay the night if this is your first race.) I set up transition fairly quickly, copped a squat in someone’s chair, and squeezed into my wetsuit.
With a little time to kill, I hit the bathroom (no, not the port-a-potty). By the time that was over, the Olympic distance had already started. I slipped into my start wave and waited.
The swim was uneventful, except I need to work on my wetsuit adjustments. I had not hoisted the crotch enough, and it ended up pulling on my shoulders, chest and legs. I think this is an adjustment issue, not a sizing one. Although, I’m finding the triathlon sizing charts are made for skinner guys than I, and I’m not a bulky guy.
Bike transition went smooth. Slightly slow, as I carefully eased the wetsuit past my ankles. The bike ride was also uneventful, one Lincoln buzzed me and pushed my bike number into my wheel spokes and I had the annoyance of that flapping sound for the last six or seven miles. I passed some folks and lost them on the hills. The pit/Staffordshire mix came charging out right before the 7.5 mile marker. He had his sights set on a cyclist in front of me, but a deputy ran him off. I tested out one of my homemade Lara bars. The bar worked great, but my wrapping, and deployment needs some help. Definitely not as simple as ripping open a gel. No sports drink for this race, only water.
Run transition was super fast. Rack my bike. Take off my helmet. Slip on my running shoes. Zing my elastic laces. and I’m gone. Nothing else to it. I hit an espresso gel at the .5 mile or so. After the 1.5 mile turn around, the gel hit, I kicked it in a bit, and finished with some fast guys, making me look a lot better than I am. The finish line sneaks up on you a bit, and is in a slightly different spot than the transition area.
Muscle Milk, cookies, bananas, water and a Coke for my post recovery stuff. There was a ton of other stuff. I wasn’t really craving anything else, and those hit the spot. Talked to some local racers for a bit, and headed home.
Got home in time to help my buddy with his hot water heater, and my son with his AP Statistics homework!
It was a good day.
Yesterday, I finished my second Museum of Aviation Half Marathon, on Robins AFB, in Warner Robins, GA. It was a cold day, but not quite as cold as last year. I was hopeful, as last weekend was almost balmy, but then the weather took a turn mid-week, and I knew the weekend would be blustery.
My goals for this race were:
- benchmark the 5k to 50k (modified of course) running program I’ve been following.
- test out my pre-race & race nutrition changes
- test out some equipment.
From those perspectives, it was a successful run. I was about 30-40 seconds off pace from last year, but given my training volumes, some recent ankle twinges, I am happy with the result. (more in a future post)
Location: Warner Robins, Georgia
Gun time: 8 pm
Distances: 5k, Half-Marathon, Marathon
Course: 13.1 mile loop around airfield
Registration: $20-5k; $40-13.1; $50-26.2.
Host: Robins Pacers
Weather: Sunny, Clear & Cold (26 deg) Running shorts, Mid-length sleeve compression shirt, Short sleeve technical Tee, Arm warmers, Double layer Gloves (took outer shell off at mile 6), Fleece headband (took off at mile 6), Bandana, Nike Frees.
Terrain: Fairly flat, a couple of rollers, and a couple of creepers (inclines that don’t actually look like inclines). All asphalt with some nice looks at the airfield, for those with that connection.
Competition: It is a Half-Marathon, so most folks are going to be in decent shape. But it is a good mix with good company the whole way. Top men’s time was 1:16, top women’s was 1:27. Last year times were 1:12 and 1:23 respectively.
General Impression: This is a nice race. Definitely show up early because there is no early packet pick up due to security considerations, thus 1200-1500 people picking their stuff up at once can create some bottle necks.
Packet pickup and post-race recovery food is in the covered and heated Museum–very nice. Good recovery food. Nice folks.
Room for improvement: Water stations were a little behind the power curve. Would be nice to have bottled water at the finish line, just from a volume perspective.
Four years now at the ATC Resolution Run (my son and & I)–The Queen and Princess graced us with their presence this year. The race is basically in the same area as the past several years, but with a new route. I personally feel the new route is an improvement. Still true rolling hills, but with more variety in the hills, and interest overall. The biggest benefit is you don’t have to watch all the super fast runners coming back while your still going out on the old out-and-back section. I also feel the hill variety is better. However, both the start and finish are uphill–not super grades, but enough to notice on cold or tired legs.
My first race of the year (obviously), having this race on the calendar keeps one motivated during the dietary and activity disaster zones that are Thanksgiving through New Year’s.
Location: Kennesaw, Georgia (exit 269 Barret Pkwy)
Gun time: 11:10 pm (11am–5k, 10:30–fun run)
Distances: 5k, 10k, kids fun run
Course: Two separate 5k loops throughout office parks. Twice round for 10k. True rolling hills.
Registration: $25–5k & 10k; one-mile fun run–$10; Tiny Trot–Free
Host: Atlanta Track Club
Weather: Perfect weather. About 56 degrees at start. Showers had just passed before we showed up at 9:45 or so.
Terrain: New route has more variety than last year. Rolling hills. Often courses are described as rolling hills but are really Hilly. This one is actually rolling hills that some may not notice much. One or two hills to motor up, but not bad. Office parks and industrial lawns. Some insignificant traffic.
Competition: A little for everyone. Walkers, midpackers, and the usual speedy ATC crowd.
General Impression: Port-a-Potties were abundant, with a moderate line only just before the 5k start. Not a soul in line just before the 10k start. The wave start was good in the respect of removing the initial crush between pure runners, joggers and walkers. New route is an improvement.
Room for improvement: Recovery food was better than last year (thanks), with good bagels, Powerade, and some type of fruity granola bars. Still would have liked bananas. The largest issue (as it is in many races) is I think more emphasis can be made on asking people to observe some race etiquette–not seeding yourself up front if you know you’re going to go slow, check over shoulder before you step out to pass someone, check behind you before you decide to come to a dead stop in the middle of the road.
I love this race. Will be back next year.
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And your comments are always welcome below.
I recently read a post by balancedcleveland on her disappointing new running shoes and reflected on my own running shoe progression, and ongoing barefoot running transition. For the few years, I’ve been progressing towards barefoot running. I was initially inspired by an article I read in Men’s Health magazine by Ted MacDougal. Still not quite there.
My initial impulse was to give a long description of my barefoot running journey, but I’ll limit this to my shoe selections–with a better debrief on the whole experience in a later post.
Historically, I buy the lowest cost, quality running shoes I can find. This is an odd set of criteria, but cost is a major factor. As a result, I’ve never had any real running shoe convictions or consistent experiences.
However, with my interest in barefoot running (an its connection to warriorship), I’ve taken a decided turn. I still do search out clearance items, though.
My first move was to switch to ultra-light running shoes. At the time Nike Frees were still fairly novel, actually not selling too well, and hard to find retail, but I found a pair on clearance. Running in those required a major change in my running stride. No details here, but I will say take the recommendations about to working up to running in ultra-lights and minimalist shoes seriously. I took the progression seriously, and it still required some time to adjust.
Shortly after, I found a pair of Zoot running shoes at Marshall’s. Whereas, the Zoots were not technically ultra-light, they were, let’s say, very light. Additionally, they are designed specifically for triathlon racing, with special modifications for the bike to run transition. These have proven very handy in sprint distance triathlons (see my Georgia Vets Sprint Triathlon report).
My first pair of Nike Frees finally became super-stinky and nasty after a week of canyon running at the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas–brutal runs, by the way. So, I found another pair of Frees. The Frees had become popular as a style statement amongst non-runners, and were now more easily found in retail shops (also at regular retail price.) I was able to find an out-of-the-box pair for a discount. Those shoes are still in service.
In fact, all three pairs of ultra-lights are still in service. As I mentioned to balancedcleveland, I severely question the typical 30o mile guideline for replacing running shoes. I find that 300 miles comes awfully quick, especially when training for longer distances.
I have repurposed each pair. My first, rather stinky pair, I keep at my office, for those days when I need to go run, have brought my shorts, gym bag, but have forgotten my shoes (I guess that only happens to me), or those days when the weather is already particularly nasty. My second pair, I ran with recently in the Augusta 70.3 Half-Ironman, and now use for cross training & gym workouts. The Zoots I use in shorter distance races, where the zip-ties and other tri-specific features are especially helpful for quick transition times.
I now have a new pair of shoes. A few months ago I bought a pair of Vibram Five Finger KSO Treks. (I found them on clearance from REI, hence the wacky orange color.) Again, it took a train-up period to adjust to running in them. My calves were smoked for about three weeks. I dropped my mileage way down, and rebuilt about one mile or so per run. I’m still sort of adjusting. I did not race Augusta 70.3 in them. I trained in them, but went to my Nike Frees for the race. The 70.3 was a new distance for me. That distance run off the bike was too big of an unknown, and I didn’t want to chance it. Turns out, that was the right choice.
Alas, I am not quite barefoot running yet. But I am almost.
Your comments are very welcome. Also, please find me on Twitter @Old454.