Friday, July 18, 2014

Lake Hickory Triathlon

Andrew Fletcher (or, as he is more commonly known: "The Fletch Wound") doesn't race particularly often. Between working for The Bank, taking care of his farm and raising his prodigy (commonly known as "Whit") with his wife, he is a pretty busy guy. But when he does, he writes a sweet race report about it that gets posted on blooger, Facebook and Twitter.  

Like any other race day when you live down in Mexico (Waxhaw), the day started with a 4am alarm.  Having packed most of my things up the night before, I grabbed a quick breakfast and was on my way up to the race pretty quickly.   The drive was relatively uneventful except for the 30 – 45 minutes worth of rain I drove though all the while praying it wasn’t going to be raining during the race.  Thankfully I arrived at the race to rainless skies and comfortable temps.  I parked, grabbed my packet, and setup my transition area.

I got in the water about 5-7 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to warm up.  The race was wetsuit legal but I opted to go without one since I figured I would spend more time getting the suit off than what I gained by wearing it.  As we got out of the water from the warm up it was announced the race start had been moved back 10-15 minutes because there were quite a few people who could not find the race site.  I’m not sure how long the start was actually delayed but it was more than enough time for me to be shivering almost uncontrollably.  Finally, after the national anthem, we got in the water and the gun went off.

The picturesque swim setting; with ROCKS.
Swim – 6:23 (2nd)

I was sort of surprised to see the setup of the swim course had changed for this year.  Last year the course went from one side of the point to the other but this time it was setup in a rectangular configuration.  After the gun went off I took off pretty much as hard as I could.  There was a little bit of jostling around but for the most part I swam beside Carrie Andrews for the majority of the swim with the other folks in the open wave close behind.  To be truthful after the second turn buoy Carrie put a 15 yard gap on me and was out of the water first.  I beat her to the timing mat though because that’s what really counts, right?

T1 – 0:49

T1 was pretty uneventful.  Got my biking gear on and headed out of T1 in first.

Bike – 42:54 (4th)

As I came out of the park I put my head down and pretty much tried to hit threshold watts to get out of sight of anyone behind me.  As I passed mile 3-ish Sonny Dyer came riding by me and a decent clip.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the amount of traffic on the second loop of the bike was much lower this year than last.  Last year there were a few times where I just sat up and pedaled along at 10mph because traffic couldn’t pass the slower cyclists.  There was no problem whatsoever this year.   Sonny and I traded leads back and forth a few times until the final climb on the second loop where he put in a monster effort and gapped me by maybe 30 yards.  I was able to reel him in a little as we made our way back to the park but I was content to let him have the small gap as I had heard from one of his clients that he wasn’t going to turn in his chip after the bike.  Right as I entered the park I got passed by the eventual winner (Adam Weeks).

T2 – 0:39

I came into T2 a little hot and as I went to rack my bike I was carrying a little too much momentum and bumped it hard.  I was relieved it didn’t fall down but it definitely gave me a little scare.  Got my shoes on and headed out of T2 right behind Adam and Sonny (yes, he decided to run).

Run – 18:57 (3rd)

Out of T2 and running straight uphill!
For anyone who hasn’t done this race the run is a killer.  Straight up out of the park for a mile or so then up and down some pretty substantial hills on the out and back sections.  This changed too (slightly) from last year in that the short out and back was first rather than second.  On the first hill out of the park Adam, Sonny and I were pretty close together.  However, as we neared the top of the road into the park Adam pulled away.  I knew I didn’t have the energy to try to match him and continued to close the small gap on Sonny.  I passed Sonny just as we made the first turn out of the park.  From there I just tried to maintain a good pace and maintain a good gap on Sonny.  I came over the line in second place but was beaten by a UNC student who entered age group instead of open.  Overall, I feel the race went well and I’m happy with my performance.

(thanks to Jones Racing Company's Benji Jones for the pics!)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You protected??

Isn't it amazing what a difference 10 degrees makes?? Temperatures in Charlotte have dropped from about 93 to 83 degrees and it feels amazing out. I know most of the people who read this blog are getting out there and taking advantage of the cooler temps but I seriously doubt the hot temps kept you off the road either. It is hard to stay hydrated when sweating profusely through a 4 hour ride or even a 45 minute run. Imagine how hard it must be for your sunscreen to keep protecting your skin from sun damage through all that salty sweat! Most athletes fail to wear sunscreen on a regular basis and the results are not only damaging but laughable . .

We have all heard and all used the excuses: "Why bother with sunscreen when I am just going to sweat it all off?" Or: "Sunscreen makes me sweat more!" How about: "I try to put on sunscreen but then I sweat and it stings my eyes!" One of the facts we have to face as consumers and athletes is that all sunscreen is not created equal and all sunscreens are not created to handle the demands of the swim-bike-run lifestyle.

When choosing a sunscreen for outdoor exercising make sure it: 1) is a broad-spectrum sunscreen, meaning that it will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays; 2) has a SPF of 30 or higher; 3) is water resistant; 4) is non-comedogenic.

Thanks to the generosity of Linda "I ain't scotch" Leiser  and Charlottesville Dermatology the members of ICE Racing received several different kinds of sunscreen to try.

Hands down the biggest hit was the EltaMD UV Aero Broad-spectrum bodyspray. It is a dry spray that absorbs quickly and outlasted some of our longest rides. You spray the sunscreen on, rub it into the skin, and forget about it.

While it should be reapplied every 2 hours to maximize protection (same is true for all sunscreens) it is kinda difficult to make that happen on a 5 hour ride in the mountains. We usually end up with some sun damage one way or another but this sunscreen continued to protect us through all the sweat and salt.

Lori had this to say about it:
“I'm obsessed with this sunscreen. Literally never ride my bike without it. And it works through serious sweat! 5.5 total hours on the bike at the beach this weekend in the baking sun!

EltaMD is only available through your dermatologist so make an appointment to get your skin checked and pick up a bottle. Your skin will thank you.

We just received a few bottles of MDSolarSciences Quick Dry Body Spray and this stuff is just as popular. It is available online by visiting the MDSolarSciences website. They have an amazing line of products from the body spray to tinted moisturizers you can use everyday.

Skin cancer is no joke and neither is looking old when you aren't. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

USMS Open Water National Championships

May 17th I was fortunate enough to travel out to Chattanooga, Tenn for U.S Masters Open Water Nationals.  It was my first time EVER in Tenn.  Let me start off by saying, OMG driving through the mountains during the sunset was quite the sight to see.  

Ok this was from last weekend but I am reminiscing about the sunset

But before that- We ( Mady and I ) had to wait till after her physical therapy session to leave that Friday.  Ended up around 4:30....UGH FRIDAY NIGHT CHARLOTTE TRAFFIC. :/  Here I am, sooo excited to do my first open water race.  And I am driving 3 mph... sighs.

After many of long hours, we arrive around midnight.  After getting settled I look to fall into pre race rituals.  I lay out all of my things for the next day, as to not forget anything.  Take a shower and have a nutritional shake, working on loosening up the muscles from sitting for 6+ hours.  I brought my foam roller, spent some time relaxing on it, working the legs and lats.  Not quite ideal, but hit the pillow around 1am.

Next morning, its cold.  That is the only way to describe it.  Not a little cold, not brisk, its wet and cold.  Luckily, I carry an extra 20lbs on my body for such certain situations, but it was still just, cold.  Up around 7 we grabbed a small meal from a midnight diner attached to our hotel.  We get to the check in, grab my number, my chip, and now I am ready to go.  On a normal day, I would have taken the time to suit up and go for a swim to warm up. With water temp at 70 and the air temp under 60, ''warm up'' seemed something of a myth.

Instead I sat in the car, heat and music blasting.  Once to the point of a slight perspire, I stepped outside and started some activation.  Muscles still felt stiff from the drive, so I made sure to get some stretches in to open up the hip flexors and shoulders.

Race time!!!  So excited, its been right around 10 years since I have stepped in a open water setting.  At the start of the gun, I took off.  Lining up the buoy way down yonder, I take off.  Up to that point, I felt like I had been working fairly hard, so I had no fear of a simple 2.4 mile swim.  OUCH

I start cranking, fast hands, strong lats, take a nice easy lead.  I start backing off some to realize there is a man on my feet as well.  No worries, swimming with a buddy is much better then swimming alone.

He takes the lead and we trade off on work throughout the duration of the first lap.  Mind you, I HATE latex caps.  For whatever reason they do not stay on my head.  At the end of the 1st lap (of 2) the cap falls off for the last time.  I tuck it in my suit and keep going. Recently got a hair cut, but didn't take enough off the front end.  When I go to sight the buoy, all I see is...darkness -_-

Now I am struggling to see where I am going, the body is getting fairly fatigued, and I am still cold.  Not how I remember open water swimming.  We continue through the second lap, I seemed to have spaced out and the other guy pulled away.  No worry, time to crank the lats again.  I seem to have swam farther then hoped, it took almost the whole lap to catch up.  I can sense him tiring quickly, which is nice because I have a nice reserve in the tank for the last sprint.

We come around the buoy, I turn the legs on...within the same breath, my left thigh and right calf cramp.  This was no ordinary cramp.  My tiny calf felt like a boa constrictor.  Every time I tried to straighten it out, it got tighter.  I ended up swimming the last couple hundred meters breaststroke, trying to get my body in order.  Finished the race 2nd overall and 1st for age group.

This will be one of my most memorable races to date for a couple reasons.  It was def a reality check.  There is a huge difference between just ''swimming'' a workout, and working hard for 45min.  The latter was much harder on the body and I most certainly was not ready for a 45min hard session.

Also, you are what you eat.  Putting in crap, you body puts out crap.  I underestimated how hard the race would be on the body.  Lesson learned, eating more ''real'' or ''whole'' foods will be a major part of my diet from here on out.

Unless we are talking celebratory crap which is 100% acceptable

Within those 45min, I had a lot of experiences that I will need to move forth in my journey with Open Water Swimming.  I will take them, learn from them, make the adjustments and try again.  Next race is June 7th, I will be competing in 3 racs, a 5k-3k-2k all in the same day.  It is called ''Poseidon Race''.

I like that title, I want it.  Until next time, 

Happy Training!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Carolina International Triathlon

I was pretty excited back when the Jones' announced that the Carolina Half would be moved to early May and that [new for 2014] there would be an international distance race option.  I knew, due to the timing of tax season, that signing up for the half distance a couple of weeks after the deadline would not be in my best interest.  So with that I signed up for the shorter option. I had been looking forward to this race over the months leading up to it mainly because of its proximity (I’m a huge fan of the Davidson area) and I knew a lot of friends would also be racing in some form. Additionally, I had heard so many wonderful things about the prior year event and how well things went that I wanted to give it a try myself.  

Race week arrived and with it came the typical race nerves.  I probably wouldn’t continue the sport if these nerves were not present come race time.  I had toyed with running and cycling races already this season but this was my first full triathlon race so I was looking forward to opportunity to racing locally with some fantastic and fast folks.

In terms of the race logistics, I didn’t quite leave myself enough time to get to/from the different transition areas but luckily Woody was there to save the day for Tim and me.  He gave us a ride back to the swim start giving the two of us just enough time to squeeze into our wetsuits before our waves started.  I would like to point out that from a race organization standpoint the point-to-point process was very smooth and communicated effectively to the athletes; I just didn’t leave my house with enough time to get my stuff set up.

Swim – 23:57 (9th)

The swim started off and I quickly realized that I would be swimming solo for the majority of the leg as I was only able to hang with Ashely, Fletch, and Zack until about the first buoy (if that).  After losing contact with “the pack” the swim was rather uneventful.  I was concerned with the sighting difficulties after making the first turn as it would be directly into the sun.  Luckily I had mirrored lenses and other swimmers ahead splashing just enough for me to get a feel for the general direction I should be headed.  

T1 – 3:04

In pre-race thoughts, I had planned to exit the water and immediately remove my wetsuit before the long journey to T1.  However, what actually happened was that I ran to the top of the hill before stopping to strip.  I finished the running to my bike at a very modest pace to avoid the unnecessary spike in heart rate.  

Bike – 1:06:50 (2nd)

I jumped on the bike knowing that I had some catching up to do but I was unsure of just how far ahead the other open men were.  I was given some wise coaching advice to build my pace over the bike leg so I tried my best to hold back the urge to time trail it up to the leaders.  Eventually I caught Andrew and then shortly after saw Zack in the distance.  Knowing that it was still early in the bike I didn’t push too hard/rush to make the pass.  Zack and I traded positions a few times before I was finally able to pull away.  I wasn’t quite sure where Ashley was…I kept hoping that he had taken a wrong turn or that I had already passed him and just didn’t realize it because I never saw him in the distance.  He. Was. Just. That. Fast.  I should have known.  I just put my head down and continued to build my effort for the remainder of the bike course not knowing the time gap.   At some point, as we were making our way through the neighborhood, a bystander said that he was 40 seconds ahead.  I wasn’t too confident in this dudes calculation as I still could not see anyone; but I suppose 40 seconds was just far enough to keep him out of sight.  As I approached the last hill to exit the neighborhood I saw a blue tent and thought that I was about to be at the transition area so I decided to get out of my shoes to prepare for dismount.  However, I was way wrong and still had a solid .5 of a mile to go before reaching the dismount line. 

T2 – (:32)

I was pulling my ride into T2 as I saw Ashley heading out onto the run course.  I quickly estimated that he had about a minute on me so I knew I would need a quick transition if I wanted to make up any time on him.  What happens next is a big rookie mistake and isn’t recommended at home.  I went sockless in my new Pearl Izumi Tri N1 kicks (more on this later).  I was really excited to try out this triathlon specific shoe so I made the decision to pass up on my previous racing flats and run with these instead.  I was very impressed with the ease of installation and as a result was out of T2 in a flash.  Which is all that really matters, right? 

Run – 39:32 (3rd)

Having previewed the run course the prior weekend at the end of the bike course preview ride I was prepared for the rolling hills I would encounter.  I didn’t really have a run specific goal for this race so I just tried to take the first little bit on the conservative side in an effort to save a little for the end.  I never saw Ashley until the turn around so I could not really gage how much time he had on me or if I was making up any time.  Knowing that he is a strong runner I knew that it would be difficult to catch him but I didn’t let that deter me from trying.  So just before exiting the greenway and making my way up the mountain (aka Patrick Johnson Ln) I could tell that blisters were forming on my left foot.  In fact, it was starting to get pretty painful.  Luckily I had the steep climb to take my mind off the pain in my feet.  Shortly after reaching the top and making my way towards to turn around I saw Ashley coming.  He looked pretty strong still so I asked him to slow down a little so that I could catch up.  Unfortunately he did not take me up on this offer and continued to run away. 

I checked my watch at the turn so that I would have an idea on how far back Zack and Andrew were.  If I recall correctly, it was approximately a 1:30 before I saw Zack so I knew that I needed to keep my pace strong since I didn’t have any time to waste.  Running back through the hilly hood my feet really began to hurt.  Typically I don’t feel these sort of things during the race so I knew that things weren’t going to look pretty when I removed by shoes (and believe me, they didn't).  Anyway, by the time we climbed out of the neighborhood and made our way back onto the flat section that would lead us into the finish I was certain that I would not catch the Honey Badger.  I crossed the line second to a very competitive field and was very pleased with my performance.  

To top off a great day of racing a group of us headed to the Ackerman abode to participate in some more pizza eating, sun bathing, and collaborating fun. This was a perfect way to seal up a great day of racing.