Thursday, September 26, 2013

My always too late Race Reports - Toad Suck Tri

Well here it is September 9th, 2013 and I'm returning for another crack at my home town tri the Toad Suck Tri.  The Toad Suck Tri is an international distance race in Conway, Arkansas.  The event is run along with  CATS sprint tri.  The great thing about this race is that it is close to home.  No worrying about 1.5 drives and I know the course!  The race is a 1500m swim, 40k bike and a 10k run.

I woke up around 4:45 am for the race which was to begin at 7:00.  I had a PB bagel, some OJ, and a gel.  I usually eat smaller meals before shorter races.  I already had everything packed up, so I was onsite by 6 am.  Transition was already bustling and I got everything set up quickly.  From there, I relaxed and talked with friends that I knew.  Once it got light outside, I headed down to the lake and did a short warm up swim.  The weather was calling for a warm day.  The high for the day was to reach around 92, so it was already in the 70's. 

The goal for this was race was to hopefully do a 2:30:00. In 2012, I did a 2:34, so I knew had to swim around 30:00 minutes for this to happen. I have been feeling faster on the bike, and my run has held steady. 

This was my third year in a row to do this race, so I knew what to expect.  The first thing was the swim!


With the race starting at 7:00am, this meant that the sun was going to be directly in your face just coming over the horizon.  Sure enough it was bright enough to block out sighting pretty well.  The race started and I began my usual slow swim!  I couldn't see the buoys, but I was able to follow the pack pretty well.  I was comfortable through out the swim.   I came out of the water feeling pretty good and ready for the bike.  I do not keep time during the swim, so I didn't know my time.  It always leaves me to a guessing game.

2011 - 31:34
2012 - 31:03
2013 - 35:39 8/10 in my AG

I will say I was surprised by my slow time!  I did hear someone mention that they thought the swim my had been a little long, but still I was slow and it reminds me that I need to get into the pool more than twice a week and even get some more open swims.

Now comes what now has become my stronger suite over this year.  My bike has always allowed me to gain back some time.  Over the last two years, I've put a lot of work into the bike and now is the chance to see it pay off.

Knowing the course, helped me a lot.  I knew where the hills, and false flats were.  After hitting the flat in the Cadron Creek area, I was warmed up and ready to ride.  I was feeling great throughout the ride.  I was actually a little concerned that I may be pushing a little too hard, but I knew I needed to make up some time and this was a chance to do it.  The course is an out and back, so approaching the turnaround I was about 2-3 minutes behind the main group.  The second half of the bike went well also.  I backed off a little upon reaching the flats again and prepared myself for the run. 

2011 - 1:21:04, 18.6mph
2012 - 1:13:30, 20.5mph
2013 - 1:11:32, 21.1mph, 3/10 AG, 8th OA

Again over the last years, the course for this race has been exactly the same.  I've been really happy with my improvement and feel there is still much more room!

Just because you have a great bike, doesn't mean you finish the race well.  You need to maintain some control on the bike at this distance because you still have a 10k to go.  Some could finish 6 minutes behind you and if you were running 9:00min/mile pace and they were running 8:00min/mile, you will be run down.

The run course is fairly fast the first 2.5 miles are a gradual overall uphill with some rollers thrown in and then head downhill until the turn around at 3.1 miles and then return with the uphill and then gradual downhill to the finish.  Even though it is overall downhill to the finish it doesn't feel like it after all the work you've already put in.

The first two miles started at well with my paces at 7:40 and 8:03 min/mile.  I was feeling good and the pace was good.  Now was not the time to burn out.  The plan was to push hard to the end after climbing the hill following the turn around.  Mile 4 came in it at 8:25 min/mile which cleared the hill, so I knew it was downhill from there.  As began to push the pace, I felt that there really wasn't much in the tank.  I was able to hold the pace around 8, but couldn't get any faster! Mile 5 came in it a 8:12 and Mile 6 was 8:03.  I finished the final .2 with a 7:33.  Overall I was happy with the run, but wish it could have been faster. 

The only difference with run this year was that they had the turn around at the intersection which mad the run a true 6.2 mile.  The previous years were coming in closer to 6 miles. 

2011 - 48:10
2012 - 47:26 
2013 - 49:58, 3/10 AG

Overall I'm seeing a pretty steady pace for the run with no overall improvement.  I will focus a little more on running this winter to gain a good base before the big event next year!  Overall I am happy with this race.  I finished 11th overall and felt that with some work I could really have a great year next year!

2011 - 2:43:50, slow bike
2012 - 2:34:42, overall great paced race
2013 - 2:39:41, the difference was the swim, slow swim, fast bike, avg run.

Next up may be the Heber Springs Tri on Oct. 13th, but I'll see how I feel.  I will be doing the Big Dam Bridge 100 this weekend and will see if I can get a sub 5:00:00 ride! The goal is beat last years time of 5:14:00.

A big 2014 announcement is coming next weekend so stay tuned! 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pikes Peak

Last weekend I got the chance to hike Pikes Peak.

The trip came about with a friend that lives in Colorado Springs inviting a few of us out for some hiking.  The minute I saw the emaill I jumped all over the opportunity.  

The first suggestion was to hike up Grays and Torreys peak.  This would have allowed us to hit two 14ers in one day.  This hike was an 8.5 mile round trip with about 4000 ft of climbing. 
As the trip got closer another friend brought up hiking Barrs trail to the top of Pikes.  This would involve 7000 ft of climbing with a 12.8 mile hike up.  Well how do get back down, you can hike, take a train, hitchhike, or have someone pick you up.  There is a road to the top.

We all met up on Friday ans the decision was made to hike Pikes.  The weather did call for some rain in the afternoon so it would be best to start early.

We arrived at the trailhead for Barrs at around 7 am.  We figured the hike would take 6-8 hrs.  The trail starts at an elevation around 7000 ft.  Right away, I could tell the difference in breathing before we even got to the trail.  I knew the hardest part for me would be the altitude.  I also wanted the experience also.  One of my dream trips is hiking in Nepal.  

In reading about the trail, I found that technically it is not hard.  The distance and elevation are the challenge.   The first 3 miles seemed to have a pretty good climb.   The trail then flattened out a little before Barrs camp which is the half way point. Heading up to this point was not that bad.  We took hiking slowly knowing we still had a was to go.  The key for me was keeping a steady pace while focusing on breathing.  This helped keep the heart rate under control.  

The hike up was beautiful with views of Colorado Springs and the landscape changes from a drier desert to more alpine as you climbed.

We reached Barrs camp in about 3 hours.  Upon arrival we were talking to some people and they mentioned the road may be closed for the weekend because of movie being filmed.  Our plan was to hike to the top and have my friends girlfriend pick us up.  Luckily there was minimal cell phone coverage and we confirmed that the road was open.  We were also told to double our time from there.  6 hrs more, no way.  I was figuring 4 but we got going just in case.

Barrs camp is at 10000 ft, so the trek got a little slower from there.   The terrain for the next three miles were a stepper grade through more Alpine forest. Once you reach 12,000 ft you enter the no tree zone.  At this point you have a little less than 3 miles to go, but still have 2000ft to ascend.  The first mile and half are not that bad in terms of incline, but once you reach the final mile the really climbing begins.  Now, when I say climbing, I just mean a stepper slope and more switch backs.  No technical skills are needed, just endurance at this point and an extra set of lungs if you have a set.  

My lungs could feel the elevation at this point.  I was continuing to focus on an easy steady pace, but even with that I would feel dizzy at times.  I joked around at one point and did a short run, mistake.  I was sucking wind for a couple of minutes and felt like my head was going to explode.  The views at this point were amazing on the clear day we were having.  

After 7 hrs, we finally reached the top!  It was just in time also because you could see some storm clouds moving in.  We conqured Pikes Peak. I would love to go back and try again on day, but I think I'll hit some more mountains first.