Friday, March 30, 2012

Papa John's 10 Miler Preview

Something's a little off. I've had a week full of bad workouts. My times for the sprint triathlon last weekend were not bad considering my condition, but every workout I've done this week has been horrible. In order to try and rectify things, I only ran once and biked once this week, while hitting the pool a few times more than normal. I also skipped my weight lifting sessions in favor of getting an extra half-hour of sleep each day. Despite all of this, I still feel tired and weak. I'm not really sure what's going on, but if things don't improve next week I'll have to start digging a little deeper.

So it's with all of that positiveness that I head into tomorrow's Papa John's 10 Miler. This is the 13th year for this race, but it will only be the fifth time that I've participated. Here's a look at my previous results:

2001 - 1:23:33
2009 - 1:23:23
2010 - 1:17:35
2011 - 1:14:00

As you can see, I've managed to improve each time I toed the line. This is my favorite road race because of the course. I takes you past Churchill Downs, the University of Louisville, down beautiful Southern Parkway and through Iroquois Park - which includes some pretty good hills. I grew up right next to the park and used to include Southern Parkway and the hills of Iroquois as part of my normal routine. Where I live and run now includes some decent hills, but nothing like I will see tomorrow in Iroquois.

I would normal feel pretty good about breaking 1:14 and setting a PR, but given the week that I've had, I really don't know what to expect. I'll take the first few miles pretty easy, push it on the hills (miles 3-6) and then see what I have left when I come out of the park for the last 4 miles.

My bib # has my lucky number "6" in it...which usually results in a good race. So I have that going for me.

No matter how the race goes, as soon as it's over, my attention will shift to the UofL basketball game. Actually, the race is an afterthought - my thoughts have been on this game all week. They are playing in the Final Four tomorrow night at 6:00. HUGE game...which I'm more nervous about than the race - which should tell you a lot about how big this game is!

Go Cards - beat Kentucky!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Shelbyville Triathlon Race #3 Report

So in my post last week, I indicated that if UofL won their game Saturday night, I would likely party all night and give up the idea of racing on Sunday morning. Well, they won; I partied all night; and I still raced Sunday morning.

It was a crazy afternoon/evening on Saturday. I got to the wedding venue around 3:00pm, game time was 4:30pm. We did pictures and were able to catch bits and pieces of the first half the game on various forms of video and audio (live game feed on my phone, an actual TV, and an AM radio). The wedding ceremony started at 5:30, which coincided well with half time of the game. Dana and Matt had a very memorable, but short ceremony and we were able to catch up with the game only a few minutes into the second half. We took some more pictures and then found a small bar in the same complex as the wedding and actually watched the last few minutes of the game live in a bar full of Cards fans - awesome atmosphere! They pulled off the upset win, which segwayed nicely right into the wedding reception...and LOTS of partying and dancing...until almost 12:00am.

When Jessica and I finally made it home and my head hit the pillow it was around 1:00am. I went ahead and set my alarm for 5:30am, thinking I would see how I felt when it went off before making my decision about racing. With about 4 hours of sleep, the alarm went off and I felt surprisingly good. I think I was running an adrenaline from all the craziness that occurred on Saturday. 

I hadn't packed up my gear the night before like I usually do, so I stuffed down a sweet potato and packed up all of my stuff. I was out the door by 6:45am. 

I was still feeling fine by the time I made it to Shelbyville and got my transitions all set up and ready to go without any problems. They only time I started to feel tired was right before the race started, when I was standing around talking with other triathletes...and waiting...and waiting. 

This race was done in the traditional order, swim first, then bike, then run. The previous two have been reversed due to the cold weather, but temperatures in the low 50's made for idea conditions this time around. We were seeded and started in time-trial fashion with someone leaving every 10 seconds. I registered early and gave an estimated time of 6 minutes for the 400 yard swim, so I was near the front of the line. 

I knew the guy that was starting directly behind me, and he's a very fast I expected to get passed pretty early on...and I was. He made up the 10 second difference within 75 yards. I never really felt like I got in a good rhythm in the water, but I was only passed one other the guy that ended up having the fastest swim split of the day. My time was 43 seconds faster than a sprint I did in this pool last year, so I can't complain too much.

Official 400 yard swim time = 6:18.7 (1:34 per 100yd)
4th out of 15 in my Age Group
19th out of 135 Overall

I exited the pool and ran outside to transition, fulling expecting to be freezing. But the combination of warm water and a hard swim had my body temperature pretty high, so the cool air felt good. I put on my socks (still not going sock-less on the bike and run), race belt, sunglasses and helmet and took off. No problems getting my feet in my shoes again this race. I've pretty much got this transition stuff mastered.

Official T1 time = 1:07.4
2nd out of 15 in my Age Group
9th out of 135 Overall

I knew the bike course well, so I just hammered down from the start. I only managed to pass two people on the two loop course, but felt the burn the whole way. It was a little congested with all the added swimmers that had made it out of the water by the time I got around to my second loop. I only slowed down for a few seconds to squeeze down a gel about half-way through. This was the exact same 12 mile course as the race last month...only this time it was done after the swim instead of after the run. It's amazing what a difference this makes. I shaved almost 3 minutes off of my bike split from last month...crazy.

Official 12 mile bike time = 30:58.3 (23.2 mph average)
3rd out of 15 in my Age Group
13th out of 135 Overall

I came into T2 feeling pretty good. I dismounted my bike and ran it to the rack. I pulled off my helmet and went to slip my running shoes on. As I pointed my toes to put my right foot in the shoe, my calf immediate cramped up. I stretched it for just a second and then went to put my left shoe on...same thing - another cramp! I took another few seconds to try and stretch it out to relieve the pain. Needless to say, this was not a good way to start a 5K run. Both calves were very tight as I started the run...I guess I was a little dehydrated from the festivities the night before.

Official T2 time = 00:40.2
4th in my Age Group
18th out of 135 Overall

I started the run out pretty easy, trying to loosen up my calves. They weren't cramping anymore, but they were definitely tight. They were on the verge of locking up the entire time. This run was brutal. The lack of sleep and bodily abuse finally caught up with me. I struggled the entire run. It was only a 5K, but I had to break it up into shorter segments in order to mentally get through it without stopping or slowing down. There was a guy in front of my that I was trying to catch, but I just couldn't close the gap. Good news is that no one passed me either. I ran the first half of the out-and-back course in 10:41, so I knew that I need to dig deep to keep from posting an embarrassingly slow time. I did the second half in 10:17 and finished with the tank on E.

Official 5K run time = 20:58.3 (6:44 min/mile pace)
3rd out of 15 in my Age Group
10th out of 135 Overall

This obviously wasn't the ideal conditions for me to try and race in, but I wouldn't change a thing. The wedding and celebration on Saturday night was awesome. The added pain it caused was well worth it!

Overall Race time = 1:00:02.9
3rd out of 15 in my Age Group
11th out of 135 Overall

Friday, March 23, 2012

Revised Race Schedule

The third race in a four race Sprint Triathlon series takes place this Sunday in Shelbyville, KY. I've raced the first two and planned on doing all four...however, a few weeks ago I noticed a wedding on my calendar for Saturday night. Not just any wedding, the nuptials of a good friend of mine, Matt. I'm in the wedding party - it's going to get pretty wild...and I'm supposed to race the next morning?!?!? I'm not really sure how the evening will go, but I expect that I will have a few adult beverages and will be out very late - neither of which translates into being race-ready at 8am the next morning. At this point, I'd say I'm about 50/50 on whether I'm going to race. 

Although I don't mention it often on here, I'm a huge sports fan - especially college sports. I follow two schools very fanatically, Purdue University and the University of Louisville. I grew up and still live in Louisville, attended both schools and have a degree from Purdue. For those of you that follow college basketball, you know that UofL has unexpectedly made it to the Elite 8. Meaning they are only two more wins from playing for the National Championship! They play their next game this Saturday night...yeah, the same night as the wedding. I'm thinking that if they win this game and make it to the Final Four, the wedding reception will turn into an even bigger party and I will have no choice but to sit out the Sunday morning race. If they lose, I'll probably feel like getting out some frustration in the water and on the road. So we'll see how things go...


An email last week brought an unexpected change to my 2012 race season. I had planned on making the June 17th triathlon in Washington D.C. my "A" race for the year. It was a race in it's second year and was being put on by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), the same group that own the Ironman brand and do all Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races. I was really excited about being able to swim the Potomac River, and then ride and run by all of the national monuments. The family was going to come with me and we were going to stay a few days after the race to do some sightseeing. As you can probably guess from the tone, this race is no longer happening. Here's the email that I received last Wednesday:

Hi Luke

The Washington DC Triathlon LLC regretfully announces the cancellation of the June 17 triathlon to be held in Washington DC .  The event, which is held on National Park Service property, was recently denied the required Park Service permit for the 2012 race.  We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Event organizers will work with you by transferring your registration on request to one of six races listed below or provide you a registration refund.
Please note that race transfers and refunds are available only until March 28 when registration fees become non-refundable and non-transferrable.

We appreciate your understanding and hope to see you at an event soon.

Washington DC Triathlon Staff 

I understand not being able to get permits. What I DON'T understand is leading all of the registered racers to believe that everything was in order for the race. Nowhere on the race website did it mention that permits were still trying to be obtained. Nowhere did it warn out of town participants that there was a chance that the race would not be held. A full refund for the race was offered and granted (as far as I can tell), but the bigger issue for me is the hotel. I waited until a host hotel was named on the website, which was just about a month ago. At that time I did some searching and found the best deal I could for three nights in a downtown hotel - close enough to the race venue that my family could walk to meet me there. Needless to say, despite my efforts, this room was not cheap. Total for three nights was $826.00! The problem with using online services instead of booking directly through the hotel is that they are non-transferable and non-refundable. So while I saved a decent amount by booking this way, it ended up biting me in the end. So now I'm stuck with a hotel in D.C. and no race to do. 

WTC has been getting a bad wrap over the last few years for various decisions that a lot of triathletes seem to think are based strictly on business without keeping the customer (triathletes) in mind. They have continued to raise entry fees, cancelled several races with very short notice, bought up local races and turned them in to profit centers, offered early entry into races that are historically sold out for a $1000 fee, etc. 

I have defended WTC in many arguments; after all, they are a "for profit" business. I have no issues with capitalism and getting whatever price the market will bare for your product. What I do have a problem with is withholding information from customers. I'm in sales. I know that not telling a customer a piece of critical information is the same a lying; and when you are called out on it, there should be consequences. For WTC, there are no consequences for cancelling this Washington DC 5150 Series race. They refund the money or give you entry into another race and go on about their business. I'm the one the suffers. I now either have to forfeit over $800 that I had planned on using for a destination race or continue with the trip without racing. I was excited about doing a destination race this year - now that won't happen. We can't afford to shell out another $800 for a hotel room to race somewhere else. 

If it weren't for all of my friends doing Ironman Louisville this year (a WTC race), I would probably withdraw my name from the volunteer list. I don't want to come off as a hypocrite, as I know that I will someday do another Ironman race, but I am a very unhappy customer right now!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Anthem 5K Race Report

Official Results:
Avg Pace Per Mile: 6:29
Division (M 30-34) Place: 37th out of 465
Gender Place: 171st out of 3678
Overall Place: 192nd out of 8495
 This is the first race that both Jessica and I have run. So we had to get the kids to her Mom's house and get down to the start line by 8am...not an easy task. Those with kids know that it always takes longer than you expect to get out of the house. So we were running a few minutes behind all morning. We got downtown so late that we ended up having to park a good 8-9 blocks from the start line. We jogged a little bit and by the time we got down near the start, the National Anthem was almost over. So I hustled up to the front and tried to push my way through the crowd. I knew that in a race with 8500 people, I wanted to be near the front. I was constantly trying to squeeze closer and closer to the start line and was still trying to move forward even as the race started.

I obviously didn't have time for any sort of warm-up, so my legs were very tight right out of the gate. I wanted to break 20 minutes, so I had a goal of maintaining a 6:25 pace for each mile...thinking if I could get close to that pace, I would be able to finish strong and get my goal.

The first mile was spent weaving in and out of traffic. I get very annoyed with slower runners starting up at the front...I'll save that rant for a different post. I got to the 1 mile mark in 6:23, but my legs were already heavy. It usually takes me a good 10-15 minutes of running to warm-up and feel good, so not having a chance to jog or do any dynamic stretching before such a short race was not good. My average heart rate for mile 1 was 159 bpm.

The second mile has a little bit of a hill and that's where I really felt my legs burning. It's like they were asking me what I was thinking trying to push them this hard without a warm-up. I was wearing my Garmin, so I was able to glace down several times and see my current pace. After the hill, I was holding steady around a pace of 6:30-6:33 per mile - not good enough. I did the second mile in 6:32...I was now 5 seconds off of my goal pace after two miles. My average HR for mile 2 was 171 bpm.

My breathing started to become labored at this point and I had to dig deep just to maintain my current pace. I was still passing people and never really caught up to the runners that were running my pace. The constant running all over the road to get around people didn't do me any favors. I was now incorporating my arm swing more than usual, trying to use every bit of energy I had left. I ran the 3rd mile in 6:30, but it was too late to make up the now 10 seconds I was behind my goal. My average HR for the 3rd mile was 177 bpm.

I ran the last tenth of a mile at a 6:06 pace, but by this time I knew that breaking 20 minutes wasn't going to happen. My heart rate jumped up to 182 bpm as I crossed the finish line. Believe it or not, this heart rate tells me that my cardiovascular system wasn't maxed out. My legs were the limiter. I have a feeling that a proper warm-up would have made a difference. 

While I was disappointed in my race, I was impressed beyond words at the performance Jessica turned in. Her goal time was 34 minutes and she knocked it out of the park with a 30:22! I'm very proud of her and can't wait to see her running continue to improve!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Anthem 5K Race Preview

Tomorrow is my first road race of the year. It's going to be weird for me to just run 5K and then not have to bike and swim...but that means I can leave it all out on the pavement!

This will be my 4th year in a row running the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic. Here are my previous results:

2009 - 24:28 (7:52 min/mile)
2010 - 21:23 (6:52 min/mile)
2011 - 20:03* (6:27 min/mile)

* Last year's route was changed at the last minute due to some flooding. The course ended up being a little short (0.07 miles to be exact). So while this is my official 5K PR, it requires an asterisk.

My goal is to break the 20 minute mark tomorrow. Due to the shortness of last year's race, my actual pace per mile was  6:37. In order to break 20 minutes, this pace needs to get down to 6:25 per mile. Based on my speed work, I think this can be done - but it will involve some pain.

Good luck to all of the members of Team ABILITY that are running tomorrow! I've enjoyed helping you guys train for the half marathon next month and I'm sure you will all have an awesome race. See you at the finish line!!

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