Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Often when you ride by yourself you know where the tough routes are and ways around them. There are those few occasions that you seek out those tough routes early on just to stretch your legs, and lungs, out. White Rd. is one if those roads. At 1 mile in length and 15% grade, it isn't a hill I will seek out too often. I just happen to be in the neighborhood.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
|The Calm Before The Storm|
After driving over the night before with Greg and Natalie, we stayed at the Swansons. It sounds like a resort, and in a way, it was. Tim and Andi treated us to phenomenal hospitality, a phenomenal dinner, and phenomenal accommodations in their phenomenal new home. Tim likes it when I use the word ‘phenomenal.’ Staying with the Swanson family was a lot of fun and afforded us an opportunity to catch up and step out of “race mode.”
But, race morning came and we were up before the sun and at the race venue before the sun as well. The morning was cool, and forecasted temps were in the mid 70s. A typical early fall day.
The swim was in the Willamette, which is a river with minimal current. But based on the swim times, there must have been more current that I suspected. We went off in waves and I was the 3rd of the 4 waves for the men. I didn't mind because I like racing from behind. Though the swim is a little chaotic, it’s nice to see people on the bike and run. At the start, I was able to catch up with some athletes I had not seen for a bit, who would also be likely the most competitive people as well. A couple of the guys were super cyclist David Gettle, and all rounder Craig Dean (who also writes for racecenter.com). Gettle was finishing his long season here in Portland, and Craig was just coming off a first time Ironman finish up in Canada in a smoking time of 9:50. I knew there would be others that I didn’t know that would pop up as well. Gettle started 2 minutes ahead in wave 2. So I could use him as a marker for my race.
The swim was interesting. Right when the horn sounded, I took one step and dove in. On my first stroke, I felt a hand/arm hit my face and my goggles immediately shifted to a 45 degree angle on my face. I understand that you can easily adjust your goggles when swimming, but trying to do that in the first 100 meters of a race would be stupid. So I swam by feel a bit for the first 300 yards to a point where I felt there was a little separation. I rolled over on my back, did a quick flip of my B70 goggles, and was on my way. We swam directly into the sun, and with the multiple waves ahead, there was really nothing to spot off of. I just kept plodding along, not really “working” too hard. I eventually made the turn at the far end and was heading back. I have found that when you cannot really see where you are going, it is better to relax and swim smart rather than going hard in the wrong direction. I used people as my guide as well as the shoreline.
|Heading Into T2|
I exited the water and felt relatively good. I was running quite well up the ramp and to T1. I could hear some cheers for me and figured they were from the Swansons. Nice to hear that. When I race away from home, and my family isn’t with me, I miss those cheers from Jessi and the tiny, yet enormous, voice of Emma. Owen might chime in too by setting off the car alarm with the remote. T1 wasn’t a short run, but not too long either. I peeled off my B70 Helix and was able to get on my shoes quickly. I decided to put on my cycling shoes in T1 since the start of the bike was immediately up hill…like a 15% hill. If I were to wait until I was on my bike, it may not happen. All was going to plan. My QR CD0.1 was running smooth as always producing the power I needed. At the top of the hill, about 1k in, I passed Gettle, and he knew it. I could hear him pick it up to match my pace. I decided to ride a little harder than I normally do for the first bit, but no later than 2 minutes, Gettle came by me. I decided to see what kind of ‘relative’ watts he was pushing to see how far off I was. It seemed he was lower than what I was doing, but decided to stay behind for a bit. After a mile or so, I made the pass. After 4 more miles, I saw that I had about 10-15 seconds on him. Hmmm…not too much. But after another 4 miles the gap grew to about 30 seconds. I think I was starting to put some time into him now. I kept it steady and rolled into T2 feeling ready for the run and the…gulp…hill.
|Finishing The Run|
This run was all over the place. Steep ups, downs, paths, roads, sidewalks, bridges…you name it. It never got boring. Right when I left T2, Greg said, “It’s steep at the start.” Darn, it must be bad. But I just settled in and kept on moving forward. The top came and I was back up to full speed. I was told that I was in 2nd. Hmmm…in all reality I knew he did not really know my “place” but he did know that there was one person ahead of me. I eventually had him in my sight, and I could see the lead bike for him as well. I passed him near 2.5 and was now the ‘leader.’ I kept telling myself to relax and settle in. No reason to reach for anything right now. Get to 5 miles. I was running across the St. John’s bridge and was feeling good. It was nice to see all the others out there too. I gave people I came up on a little pat on the back, and a ‘nice work,’ when I went by. The last kilometer is pretty much downhill and I tried not to kill myself. I came into the finish and saw the Swansons, and Gallaghers. Again, friendly faces. I gave the lead bike rider a high 5, and made the turn to the finish. I snuck in under 2 hours on a good course. Nice!
The rest of the day was spent eating post race food and waiting to awards. This is always a nice time to catch up with people and hear about the day’s events. I was able to talk with the director who wanted to know what changes could be made, which is always nice to hear. But in the big picture, they did very well. Just under 1000 people at a new race site in a city. That alone is a tough one. They did amazingly. I walked away with a cool trophy and some prizes. Fruits of a hard 2 hours work.
|I Never Had A Bowling Trophy...|
Thanks to all the amazing staff at TIMEX, and TIMEX Multisport, for outfitting the team, and giving us the support we need to perform at our best.
Craig Dean, racecenter.com writer, did a race report for this event too. I, personally, like it a lot. If you read it, you will see why. It can be found HERE.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
When someone asks me about this race, the first thing I say is, "It is only $35, it's chip timed, and us USAT sanctioned." Really, what else do you need to say?
Par for the course, I got into the water about 3 minutes before the race start. It is a current aided swim which means that for a warm up, you can swim against the current.
I came into T2 and was out of there quickly. I tried to settle into a solid run and keep a quick turnover and good form. There were 2 people up ahead. I hit the turn and took a split. I caught one of the teams and wanted to run with them for a bit, but they slowed down too much. So I pressed on. I saw the second individual and knew I had a good lead on him. But you always need to run an honest run. That way you know what you can do.
I neared the finish and made the gradual uphill to the finish. I saw the clock (with my feeble eyesight) and saw that clock change from 1:49 to 1:50. Ah, man. I was so close to going under 1:50! That's crazy! All in all my bike and run went well. My swim is coming along, but does not seem to be killing my race.
Here is a link to a newpaper article in the local paper: HERE
Thanks to Natalie (pictures are all from her), Greg, and Dave for coming along and making it another memorable day.
This is a must do race that takes place in northern Idaho on a phenomenal lake. The directors do an amazing job improving it each year and taking feedback to heart.
This year Jessi and I decided to drive up there the day of the race...about 1:30 drive. After the race, we planned on heading up to Canada to watch the last IM Canada in Penticton and cheer on many friends racing. It was to be a VERY busy weekend.
The water temp was beautiful and the water crystal clear. The swim start was fast, but I soon found myself leading my wave. I knew that I had a couple near, but they were not interested in taking the lead...which I am fine with. After exciting the swim, it is a bit of an uphill run to T1. My B70 Helix came off quickly and I was already grabbing my Rudy Project helmet and glasses. Jessi had put toe covers on my shoes since it was so cold, which I appreciated. I took off quickly and tried to settle into a sold pace. But, for some reason, things didn't feel right. I was working hard, but I felt 'off.' I had a hard time getting in nutrition. But I pressed on. I later realized that the bike was a couple miles short I suspect. But that was okay.
The run is out a dirt road that wonders up hill, rolling most of it. I hit the turn and was headed for the finish. I took a split and knew I had a decent lead. I pushed all the way to the finish and felt I ran well.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Race start, Wave #2. I am the one in the white cap and black suit...with goggles.
Photo by James Richman
Photo by James Richman
Before I even start this post, I must give credit for the pics to the generous people, with their talent and time, who took them. Without them, this blog post would be, well, boring. Thanks to James Richman, Bryan Rowe, and Tanya O-Keefe. Great pics, and ones that I could not have taken myself…for obvious reasons.
This post is mainly about the Cda Scenic Challenge triathlon. One which I have written about on a few occasions. The 2011 post HERE, the 2009 HERE, 2008 HERE). This event is near and dear to me. It always seems to teach me something…something that I must overcome in some facet or another. It challenges me physically as well as emotionally. I feel so much pressure when racing this event... not from others, but from myself. I try and downplay it, but no matter what my fitness level, I have never been able to go into it saying, ‘Ah, it’s just another race and I want to have fun.’ I think it’s the history from the first time I raced it. I have raced 3 different courses here. And no matter the course, it has always been a challenge on multiple fronts.
1997- My first Oly tri. Just get it done…and I barely did.
1998- I was done with my triathlon season in June.
1999-2002 No triathlons at all.
2003- I was sick, and wondered why I was even there. Suffered through but wasn’t happy.
2004- I was racing well, but never really did ‘well’ at Cda. This year I ended up 2nd overall to Matt Seeley, and the first time I beat Cda uber triathlete Brian Hadley.
2005- I was at Nationals, which was cancelled the day of the race. I tried to fly home to race Cda…but couldn’t make it happen.
2006- Focus was on IM Canada and Kona and did not race.
2007- Focus was on IM Canada and Kona and did not race.
2008- I was in great form, but fell apart late in the bike after a few mishaps. (Later to find out that I was under-fueling on all Oly races).
2009- Nailed it. First time I won Cda Tri. This was the greatest ‘personal’ race for me.
2010- Did not race any triathlons because I was hit by a car in May.
2011- Training was focused more on family. This would be a test to see what would happen when triathlon was a 3rd tier priority. Result, overall win. Crazy.
2012- read on…
This year would be no different than the other years…a few hurdles before the race even started. Of course, the one mentioned in the prior post (HERE) regarding the vertebral dissecting artery, and to add to that, I strained my calf the Sunday prior. As a result, I did not run at all the week and focused recovery which included 2 massages at Elements Therapeutic Massage, icing, heat, electro stim, stretching…you name it. It was a part of the training each day. The question was, would I even be able to race? Even the day before the race I was limping around a bit favoring the calf. I did a little pre race run, just to test it a little for about 5 minutes, and determined that it bothered me a little, but didn’t seem to as much at harder efforts.
Race day I woke at 4:05 am, and the calf was definitely tight, and a little sore. But as I walked around a little, it seemed to feel a bit better. I was counting on a swim and bike to help with blood flow to loosen it up to run.
I got to the race site at 5:30am. Found a spot on the rack, and placed some of my stuff there. Immediately I realized I was next to someone I knew and we chatted a bit. Then I saw Brad Vanwert, a local legend and USAT official, and chatted with him a bit about races, bikes, airplanes…really just about everything. I told him about my calf and he gave me some really good advice…don’t race. I figured if my calf acted up, I would stop. I saw so many other people there, that I had to catch up with, before the race. I eventually had to get ready and sort out my transition area.
Not the most organized Transition Area...better work on that
This race has 3 different start times: 39 and under, 40 and over, and teams/Clydesdales. They are all separated by 10 minutes. Since I am an old guy, 40 years old, this meant that I started at 7:10. To me, this is a nice spot to start. Though it is a little congested on the swim, once I start catching the wave ahead, it’s fun to see other people out on the course, e.g. the bike. It also gives me an idea as to where the competition is. As long as I could keep the gap less than 10 minutes by the end, I would be ahead.
I pulled from my bag my brand new B70 Helix…still in the plastic bag. I know, ‘never try something new race day,’ but I have raced in this suit for years. Why not? I noticed there has been some significant changes to the suit over the past few years…I was hoping they would help me.
Pre Swim in my new B70 Helix.
Photo by Mike Winnett
I rolled down to the start and got in a 1 minute warm up…pointless really. I looked around to see some familiar faces. With goggles and swim caps, it is tough to spot ‘familiar faces.’ But I did see one. Gulp. Matt Seeley. Matt is a legend. 2nd at IM Cda and countless other high caliber victories. He is a true competitor and ALWAYS a favorite in ANY race he does. Back in 1997, the first year I did this race, he won it. We are 1 year apart in age, so would be racing in the same 40+ wave. Cool. I was bummed I was not in top form to test myself against him, but I doubt he was either. I knew he was having some foot issues, but injured or not, unconditioned or not, he is always ready to race.
The gun went off and we swam. It was pretty uneventful. I started to drift off mentally from time to time and then I started running into slower swimmers. I knew I was near the front of my wave, but needed to swim hard since I had not been in the pool too much the past 3 months. So even ‘hard’ would result in a time that I would not be too excited about. I ended up swimming a 22:21, yikes, a tad slow for my liking (it did include a short run to T1).
Exiting the swim into T1
Photo by Bryan Rowe
Photo by Ryan Rowe
The end of the bike
Photo by James Richman
I ended up finishing 1:03 behind Matt. Not too bad all things considered. But no matter what place you get, 1st to 2000th, you have to look at ‘your’ race. Did you do what you wanted? Did you control what you needed to? Did you meet your goals? I really did not know what to expect on this day. My bike and run were faster than last year when I won. My overall time was as well. So does that mean that I am in better shape now? Not likely. My swim was sub par. My bike felt good, but I have not looked at, or compared, power numbers. I suspect that my Quintana Roo is simply ‘faster’ than the Orbea was…aerodynamically speaking of course. Over 1 hour, it does add up at 25 mph. My run was a little faster this year, but the course was a tad different. Just a flat out and back. So it is comparative…but not truly the same. Bottom line, a decent effort and I was surprised with the result. Happy with it too.
Now that is one big mug. Great for iced coffees I suppose.
I can’t say I was out there alone. I had a lot of cheers that kept me going and Jessi, Emma, Owen, Greg, and Natalie were following the race a bit. I saw a ton of familiar faces, and heard voices out there too. Always a little push. Weeks leading up to these 'emotional' races seem to require a bit more from my family...especially Jessi. She is so in tune with me, and does everything right. I am so fortunate to have a wife that knows me and supports me in what I do. Also, my mom. She normally gets put on 'Owen Duty,' which she says she loves. But I know she does it just as much for me as well.
Owen and me post race
Photo by Tawnya O'Keefe
So, what was the hurdle? This was a race that I was truly not too sure if I would even be able to finish because of the calf strain. A calf strain isn’t an injury that you can just ‘power through.’ So the days leading up were uncertain and I was so close to throwing in the towel. The ’09 win was accomplishment. The ’11 win was about prioritization (family first). ’12 second place was about accepting the unknown and still race like you know. That goes beyond the calf, but to my fitness level and the hurdles with the paralysis in my right arm and the vertebral dissection. A little more complicated. I am not some unique or special story, we all have hurdles and other parts of our lives that create challenges. The ones we know about, we can generally manage. It is the ones that hit us from the side, or from behind, that put us on our heels and make us juggle things. Then comes the subsequent problem, or question, ‘What should I do now?’ Rarely are things ever perfect…but they can always be worse.
Next race on the schedule will be Priest Lake Triathlon. Hopefully my calf will be back to 100%...or even 80% would be good.