Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lookout Mt. Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Did my second triathlon today! It was on top of Lookout Mountain here in Golden Colorado. 525yd pool swim / 10mi bike / 5K run

Had a good race. Won my division, but even happier that I was 10th overall in the men (out of about 100 men). It's always nice when you can place 'in the money' against much younger guys :-) I was 11th overall against 236 racers (one girl beat me ;-) - when you live in Colorado, you get used to that!

The swim was pretty uneventful. It's my weakest sport - but that's this winter's goal; to get faster and stronger in the swim. I was happy with how it went - my goal was just to put in an even pace, which I did.

The bike ride is SUPER hilly on this course. About 800ft of climbing over 10mi.I passed a ton of people on the bike. One climb in particular is about a 6% grade. There were a number of people walking up it, but I think part of that is there is a place where you've been climbing for a while, and then come around a corner to see the road just going up and up around another corner in the distance. It can be demoralizing if you don't know that it usually looks worse than it actually is. I tried to ride pretty strong, but on the last climb to the transition area I was just spinning down to loosen my legs up for the run.

The run was equally (in fact I'd say more) brutal. It's about 320ft of climbing over 3mi - almost all on the first 1/2 the course. I've never road raced a tougher run course at that distance. It's mostly on dirt roads and the first 1.7mi is pretty much all uphill. That makes for a tough combination (I'm generally 5-7s / mile slower on dirt than pavement - and uphill seems to give you a little more slippage than that).

When I started up the first hill, it was steep. I just felt like garbage. But it made me feel a little better that I was the only one running up it. I also knew that the legs would wake up from the bike in about 1/2 mile. At around the start of the second mile I had kind of settled in and the last mile of the course reclaims all that climbing - which was something to look forward to. A course marshall that wasn't paying attention cost me about 10s when I missed this one turn (the sign was in the weeds and hard to see) - but other than that, the run went great and I cruised in at what felt more like a tempo pace. My overall run split compared to the whole field was actually really strong - my overall run rank was 8th.

While were on the subject of rankings - my overall bike rank was 5th.

Swim? Uhhhmmm... 99th... Yep... that's the problem area for sure!

It was pretty hot out (probably in the 80's), but I didn't notice the heat until the run - and even then, at least there was a lot of shade on the roads.

So, even though it's a brutal course - I'd highly recommend the race. It was run REALLY well. Great sponsors - especially Kompetitive Edge (mine and Paige's favorite store). But the best part was the post race breakfast prepared by Mt. Vernon Country Club. Bagels and cream cheese of course, but there was also a HUGE fruit bowl with REALLY fresh pineapple, strawberries, melon, etc.. scrambled eggs with cheese and salsa, hash browns, bacon, sausage and a really tasty pork green chile that I poured over everything. My plate was a mound of goodness!

Next race is a 10K in a couple weeks on a course I've never run.

Then the Georgetown 1/2 marathon in mid-August, Bear Creek Triathlon in early September (right after my little sis's wedding!!) and then the Chicago Marathon in early October!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blender Love

A few weeks ago we pulled the trigger on a BlendTec blender.

This was my breakfast concoction this morning;

Whole banana
Whole carrot
Handful of spinach
2 strawberries
Unsweetened coconut shavings
Ground flax seed
1 scoop protein powder
Almond milk

Then just hit 'Smoothie XL' and let the blender do the work. Smoothie goodness. Tons 'o fiber, potassium, omega-3s, vitamins, minerals, etc.. And the fruit keeps it sweet.

A little more on BlendTec blenders:
For those of you that don't know about these things, they are workhorses. They will blend hockey pucks (literally). or search YouTube for 'Will it Blend' videos. Hilarious.

Luckily, our needs require less horsepower, but after weeks of use, I have to tell you that these things are awesome and live of to the name of blending things smooth with no chunks or grittiness. They aren't cheap, but you get your money's worth if it gets the kind of use it does in our house and ours came with a 7 year warranty.

One of my favorite quick dinners is tortilla soup - just throw in: A carrot, whole roma tomatoes, cilantro, an avocado, 1/2 an onion, 1/2 a red pepper, some seasoning (I use 1/2 a taco seasoning packet), low sodium chicken broth and hit 'Soup' on the program panel. Then pulse in a chicken breast and black beans. It's awesome and the veggies aren't cooked down to death (so they are healthier).

And to my sister's first question when I told her about the blender; "Yes, it makes good frozen margaritas too"

Friday, June 8, 2012

Failed hipster - fixie must go :-D

Another 'Failed Hipster' meets Craig's List..... So many sad stories.

If you work in any 'trendy' downtown area, you'll recognize the affliction. Denver is infested.

I tried so hard. I dated a girl from Portland. I criticized cheese. I applied the term artisanal to every inanimate object that went in or on my body. I burned and singed my forearms just to make it look like I was going to culinary school. I grew Carol Brady hair. I got itchy from the finest flannel and I cut off circulation from the waist down with jeans that made my ass look like an elevator button. 

. . .And I rode a fixie. 

No more. It's all gotta go. The hair, the macrame, the texting overages, the Netflix and Hulu Plus. The record collection (have you ever tried to box up and move an effin stack of LPs?!) . . .and the bike. Pictured below is the bike. It's beautiful. It's got red rims. Red chain. Red tires. Red handlebars shaped like devil horns -- because it's the devil. 

The guys at the hipster store don't tell you fixes don't stop. So I will. Fixies don't stop. Stop sign? Fixie don't care. Car coming turning in front of you at a three-way stop? Fixie laugh. Want Chipotle? Nope. Fixie want protein powder/beet/purple carrot/bee pollen juice and won't stop till he gets it. Fixie has a mind of his own.

Yesterday, Fixie got pulled over twice by SLO PD in three hours. In six months time, Fixie collected more tickets than a scalper for a Radiohead show at Hollywood Bowl.

I'm selling this badboy and tipping the dregs of my last PBR tall boy in his memory.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Swim, Bike, Run, REPEAT!

How do you know someone is a triathlete?

..... They tell you.

Today I did my first triathlon and had a total blast! I'm hooked. It was a perfect 'first-timer' race in that the event hosted a 'mini' sprint as well as the sprint distance. I still don't feel comfortable with the swim, and this let me really practice the whole event end to end in more of a complete time trial fashion. Make no mistake - I still made all three components 'hurt'.

I had heard before that triathlon is 'one sport' not just a combination of three. I finally 'got that' today while I was racing. I've raced bikes for a number of years (although I haven't slapped a bib on my seatpost for about 13 years now). I've also been a competitive runner now across a variety of distances. While both the bike and the run had that familiar feel to them, there was something different. It was more than just fatigue - it was about how they blend together into a 'single' effort. Still have to work it all out in my head. For now, I'm just digging being back on the bike again.

Transitions were a new thing for me so I practiced them with Paige's expertise on Friday night. Set up in the driveway and went through them until they felt pretty automatic. Even with that, I got into T1, a little blurry from the last 50yds of the swim and felt a bit confused. It sorted out in about 5 or 6 seconds, but it's a whole different thing to do them in your driveway, and then during a race.

My goal in the swim was just to swim a solid, even effort - which I did. I ended up a bit faster than my predicted / practice time and felt good throughout. Had to breast-stroke a couple times because there was a   teenager in my lane that kept drifting down the middle. Just wanted to let him slide by - no reason for any collisions. Other than that, the swim was uneventful. I think I was most worried about counting my lengths properly, but that turned out to be pretty straight-forward as well.

On the final 25yds of the swim, I just started drooling for the bike. I knew once I hopped on it, I'd feel 'home' - and I did. As I rolled out of the winding parking lot chutes and wound up on the first descent, I was grinning ear to ear. At the bottom of the hill, there was a big sweeping left hand turn. The cop was waving me through and I never touched the brakes. Just buried the outside pedal and swept through at about 35mph. Almost carried me to the top of the next little rise. Man it felt good to be racing on the bike again.

The bike course was VERY hilly - which actually worked to my advantage. I love the hills and seem to thrive in them; mostly going up. I would see a pack of riders plastered against a big hill in the distance and I would just start chasing. Once I hit the hill I buried it further. Kicked over every crest and on the backsides. By the turn back towards the start/finish area, the road was pretty clear in front of me.

The last 3/4 mile is a steady uphill back to transition. I was out of the saddle most of the way. I could feel that familiar burn in my quads, my mouth wide open and tongue wagging in the air as fast as my lungs would process it.

I wound to the dismount area and executed a pretty clean moving dismount to run without slowing down too much. That's a familiar move from my mt. bike racing days where we used to practice cyclocross style dismounts - only this time I didn't have to shoulder the bike in one move. But I'm not sure I could safely running mount my road bike, even if I tried. On the way out I had just mounted it standing still and clipped in. No reason to add risk.

A little slow in T2 - not sure why. Then out on the run. I knew from my brick workouts that running off the bike has that 1/3mi rubbery feel to it. This run course was a little cruel in that you climb a pretty decent hill right from the get go. I knew I was running slower than I normally would be able to - partly the swim/bike behind me, partly probably Boulder still hanging in my legs.

When I hit the loop around the lake I only saw one relay running in front. I could see around the lake and didn't see another soul. That wasn't surprising because of the way they let the swim waves out (slower ones first). I knew I had to keep pushing because there were other runners behind me that were technically ahead of me. I passed the relay runner and made my way around the lake and back towards the finish line. The hill I had to run out was now a descent, and I felt a little less animosity towards it in that direction than I had with rubbery legs heading up it on the way out.

I heard Paige shout, "Go Kevin" and that gave me a little kick up a slight hill to cross the finish line. In fact, the whole course was peppered with a bunch of Paige's team mates that knew this was my maiden voyage and cheered me on.

So on to the results. I was second overall, about 20 seconds behind Paige's coaches husband who had the second fastest swim split (mine was 13th). I had the fastest bike split overall (1:15 over him at #2) and he had the faster run split on me by 3.5 seconds. I noticed that I left 20 seconds exactly in T2 to his time. That's close. I won my age group. I think that's pretty good for a first attempt - even for a 'min-sprint' distance.

The coolest thing, is that the 3rd place overall was an old guy like the two of us as well. So the top three overall racers were 50, 48 and 51 respectfully. Number 4 was 32. Old guys rule :-)

Anyway - it was a small race, and I know I have my work cut out for me, especially in the swim. But I'm pretty geeked about my next race which will be a full sprint on June 30th. Lots of hills again on the bike and run - just the way I like it. I'll then have my first open water event on Sept 9th - a month before Chicago.

Sitting on the porch at dusk, watching Luke play in the grass with the dog while I'm drinking a glass of wine and feeling my muscles starting to let down and relax - I realized how lucky I am to experience the life I have.

I could not be happier.