Monday, October 10, 2011

Ironman Pocono Mountains 70.3 race report & beyond!

Race day – Fell asleep early but woke up too early. Around 1. Just excited I guess. I kept myself in bed until 4 and then it was off to the races! I got myself ready and got over to the high school to take the shuttle to T1 for the TT start. I actually had some traffic issues again. These single roads are just not able to accommodate the volume of an ironman for something to keep in mind for someone doing the race next year. They ended up moving the start time of the race back 25 minutes and I believe it had something to do with that. They said it was because of the sun but the sun comes up at 7. Exactly when the race started. Parked at T2 and got on the shuttle. The other athletes I was with were all in positive moods in spite of the cold temps and the wetness.  It did stop raining for the race but all of the roads were wet. It never really warmed up. Anyway, I had no problems getting setup in T1 – I was able to find a bike pump. We were not allowed to bring our own in and I was curious to see how that would work with so many athletes but no issues. The biggest thing going on was people trying to figure out what to wear because it was so cold. We were provided with morning clothes bags which were could throw anything gear in to be transported to T2 so we could pick it up after the race. I decided on gloves and a wind jacket. It was cold waiting for your turn to go off. They did the TT start in race number order with a rider going off every few seconds. In my opinion it actually flowed really well you basically walked your bike up to the bike out line where they gave you ready set go and at go you ran your bike to the mount line and were off. But you were never really waiting. It went pretty fast. I was impressed.  Once out on the bike they added an out and back to makeup for some road closure on the bike course due to flooding. This was done as an “English left” which totally messed up some of the riders. On an English left you stay to the left and pass on the right as there are riders on the opposite side of the road staying to the left and passing on the right. There was a lot of complaining from athletes yelling at people to right to the right so they could be passed on the left. Overall I hate seeing that kind of thing, don’t degrade your fellow riders but yelling things like “slower riders” etc. if you really that good of an athlete you can make up those few seconds it takes to tell someone your passing in a 56 mile bike course. Some people were really zealous about policing the bike course.  Everyone is other there doing their best so I try to treat my fellow competitors that way. The other issue on this stretch was people attempting to pass correctly on the right but saying “on your left” probably out of habit.  I would correct them so that no one got cracked into. Hopefully that section will be removed from the course in the future as it was just added to make up for the roads closed due to flooding. Then you got onto the actual bike course and it was quite a course. It was hilly and somewhat technical in sections. There was a lot of traffic on the bike course because of the TT start when compared to the swim. However, over 56 miles I doubt that really makes a huge difference in your race. It kind of broke up into packs a bit but I didn’t see real drafting.  I did however see people fall on the hills, drops chains, more flat tires then normal, and athletes just deciding to walk their bikes up the hills. I also heard plenty of complaining about the hills. One of my favorites was UGH my back doesn’t want this! As if anyone’s back was feeling all that great! I happily was able to climb all the hills. Walking was a bad options as with cleats on it wasn’t really any easier than riding your bike up some of these grades. I choose to ride my road bike. With the wet roads it was nice to have it but in the future I do think the course is doable on a TT bike. The technical sections were well staffed so by the time you got to it you knew you had to slow down.  Also a lot of the turns were country road turns. Not tight city turns so they were easier to negotiate. I am by no means saying this is an easy bike course because it isn’t. It is a challenging bike course but with Mountain in the title you had to expect the climbing. I had a few issues to overcome on the bike. I choose to wear my gloves and riding jacket because it was cold and damp. However a few miles in and I was way to hot. I zipped down for a bit but that just was not cutting my glasses were fogging up from climbing those hills so I decided to take the second and take the jacket and gloves off. Then I was pretty much freezing the rest of the way on the bike but I got through it. It also caused another issue where my jacket got caught in my back tire. So my bike came to a stop really fast from that. How I didn’t fall I have no idea. So I had to stop again and tie it on tighter this time.  Arm warmed probably would have been a better choice but too late for that now. It was cold but I got through it. I felt like I cracked toward the end of the bike where I slower down the pace and wasn;t hammering it as hard as I was in the beginning.  It wasn’t too bad though. I had some nutritional issue too. Right from the beginning I found the gel hard to eat and hard to sit in my stomach. Probably because they were frozen. Around 2 hours When I hit that gel I was basically ready to vomit so I decided to skip the food for a bit until my stomach settled down a bit. I started getting a little squirrely on the bike around 3 hours so I went back to eating. I may have to switch to more liquid calories over longer distance races. My saddle sore was tolerable during the race I basically just shifted my weight so I wasn’t hitting it too much. T2 was a disaster, muddy and my clothes that I put in my bag to wear on the run were wet. I ended up keeping my cycling jersery and sock on because they were drier than the clothes I brought to switch into. The bags then provided didn’t stay sealed against the rains so maybe next time I use my own bags inside the gear bags they give you. my sneakers weren’t too bad. I grabbed a hat to run in to try to keep some heat in my body. I also grabbed my arm warmers in case I wanted them but I didn’t put them on just threw them in my jersey pocket. My feet were completely numb so it was probably a longer transition time than I normally have. Out on the run course it took me at least 2 miles until I could actually feel my feet because they were frozen. I kept the hat on and I never used the arm warmers. It was good running weather.  I actually felt pretty decent for the 6 miles of the course but the next 7 were rougher. I started drinking coke and water as soon as I got on the run course.  I was hoping the coke would settle my stomach but sadly it wasn’t actual flat but still carbonated so I had to be careful with how much of it I was drinking.  On both the bike and run I did 1 salt tablet an hour as I didn’t feel like I was sweating all that much.   I had no muscle cramping or issues. Since the run course is an out and back I was hoping to see some other people I knew that were doing the race but it never happened. My Crossfit Endurance jersey got me a lot of attention on the run course. I had people running up to me and asking me where I do crossfit. Telling me where they do crossfit. Asking me what kind of Crossfit Endurance training I was doing. I was very surprised as it was at least 10 people. There were also a few that weren’t doing it themselves but it was at least on their radar that they knew what it was. I know 10 – 20 people out of 2,000 isn’t a lot but it was more than I would have expected. Nice to see though. I also saw someone with a vegan t-shirt on. I yelled vegan at him and we slapped hands while running. I love my vegan athletes! The run was also a challenge as it was rolling hills most of the way only the mile out of t2 and into the finish is flat. I’d done the course before and I didn’t remember it being so difficult. But I didn’t have 56 mile of biking hills on my legs at that point either. I think that is what really made the difference. Of course my run training hasn’t been the best either with the knee injury. The roads on the course are also a little off camber because you are running on the side of the road so my lower legs were taking a beating adjusting to that. I told myself to just keep running and I held it together to the end. I didn’t think I was going to have anything left to pick it up at the end but when I got to the crowds line the street near the finish I was running faster than I thought I had in my. Funny when that happens. It was nice coming up to that finish line. It was a great race and happy experience overall especially when considering it was their first year putting it on and they had a lot of challenges from the weather this year. I plan on doing this race again next year because it is so close to my house and it is a late season event so it won’t interfere with much else. I hope they are able to have the swim next year. It was the right decision to cancel it for sure this year as the water looked really dangerous. Not only was it high and fast moving there were objects in the water like logs/trees being carried downstream. Not too many people would have been able to do that swim. The food after the race was subway which was crap.  So I basically had water, did my medal and picture and began looking for the way back to T2 so I could get some food.  I wasn’t too happy to hear that we had to walk to T2 from the finish. It was only about a mile but a mile when you’re tired hungry and cold wasn’t that appealing. But I just started slowly walking to the car and eventfully I got there and got my bike and morning gear bags and packed up the car. It is almost like a three transition race since they don’t end it near T2. If I wasn’t by myself and had someone with it probably would have been such a big deal but I was tired and hungry so I get crabby.  I stayed for a bit of the awards ceremony. The pros that talked mentioned what a challenging course it was which in some ways made me feel good. Especially since when I was running out of T2 the male winner was finishing. As I did the first couple of miles the other pros were finishing. That’s a little depressing when tired too. A guy next to me on the run goes I know it is supposed to be motiving to see these guys killing it but I kind of feel exhausted knowing this guy is already done.  I was like me too!!! But overall I am happy with me race. It would have been nice to go under 6. I ended up being 6 hours and 44 seconds.  My bike split was 3:22 which I was happy with. (well for now!)my run I was proud of because I hung in there and didn’t check out on it when the going got tough. I need to get healthy and get some more run training in next year. I did better than I did at eagleman so that felt good. But mostly I am happy with the race because I kept going. Yes I kept going on at eagleman too but I checked out and majorly slowed down then. This time I put forth a better effort. Sometimes I still question if I am a short course racer because I really love racing Olympic and Sprint Distance Tris. You can hammer them. The intensity feels great and when you done you don’t feel like crap for 2 days afterward.  Next year I’ll probably do a couple of half-ironmans in addition to Ironman NYC. Mostly because I want to understand what a full ironman feels like and experience that because I am pretty sure nothing comes close to that sensation. But overall I am will continue to do a lot of short course racing throughout the season because I like it and because it doesn’t beat me up too much so I can do a lot of it and enjoy it.  Sunday night after the race my knee and lower legs were killing me. That pretty much continued through Monday and Tuesday although it got progressively better each day. By Wednesday I started to feel much better. It has basically been a recovery week since then. I tried to get some extra sleep but even the day after the race I was up at 4:51. Monday I took an easy hour spin on my bike to freshen up the legs a bit. It was really cold out so it was rough but I did it. Tuesday morning I took it to the pool.  200 swim, 200 kick, 200 pull to warmup then main set of 400 at 7.43, 300 at 6.31 , 200 at 3.25 and 100 at 1.34 all on 20 seconds rest. Cool down was 100 with fins and paddles.  Tuesday night I took a Yin Yoga class to start stretching out. “yin” yoga is great for post race situations because it isn’t a vinyasa or flow class. It is the opposite where you are holding poses for minutes at a time. Literally depending on the pose you can hold it up to 8 minutes. Sometimes even 15 but generally not in class or we wouldn’t get too much done. So it is a deep muscle kind of stretching. Also good for when the energy is low as it is restorative in nature. Wednesday I went back to the water again – warmup of 300 swim, 200 kick, 100 pill. Main set of 5 x 100 on 20 seconds rest. This was supposed to be a moderate set so I did them in 1:44- 45 range. Followed by 4 x 50 catch up drill and 4 x 50 fingertip drill all on 30 seconds rest. Then the fun stuff. 2 x 100 fast on 15 seconds rest. Went 1:40 on these and then cooled down with 50 as backstroke 50 as breaststroke. Today I started the day with a yoga class. This really is helping my knee so much I can feel it during and after the class.
Thursday night was cyclocross practice. That wasn’t as good on my knee with all of the mounting and dismounting. I am sure as I get better at both of those my knee will  fair better from it. It was mostly a skills session working on mounting/dismounting while riding, carrying my bike over barriers while running, shouldering my bike to run with it. All the riding was done in grass. Also did some work riding through a sand pit. Amazingly I didn’t fall but I had to fight to get through it. I used my mountain bike for all of this since I did not have a cross bike.  I was really tired afterwards. Cross is an amazing workout not only are you going crazy aerobically it works skills too. This is going to be great for my biking in the off season provided I don’t break a leg or something like that. Friday, totally beat I slept in and had a hard time getting up for work on Friday. Bike 5 minutes to warmup then did 3 x 30 second 30sec off increasing intensity. Workout was 20 minutes of 30 seconds on 30 seconds off. I found a hill that took me 30 seconds to climb if I hauled ass up it so that became my 30 second on and the descent was my 30 seconds off. Did this 20 times.  Cooldown – 10 minute easy ride.  Saturday – yoga class in the morning. Then I went and bought myself a cross bike. I wasn’t planning on picking one up but it would be so much easier to do cross with an actual cross bike than a mountain bike and I  found a great deal on it. The owner of the bike shop I go to bought it for himself and wasn’t using it and decided to sell it as a demo. It has had extremely light use and is in great shape. He probably could have sold it as new. It is a KHS CX200. It is a good starter bike for cross. The components are lower end (shimano 105s front and reart derauillers with tiagra shifters). The frame is aluminum and the fork is carbon. The cross tires are going to be better than my mtn tires for sure as well as it just having better clearances than my mtn bike too. The handlebars feel a little bit big to me but I’ve been told that is good for cross handling.  I didn’t do any real riding just played on this during the day.  Its a 54 frame so it is slightly bigger than my other bikes but at that price I had to scoop it up. If I really got into cross and upgraded my bike I could always keep this as a pit bike or use it to commute. Sunday - Started the day with yoga again. Then I actually went mountain biking. That was interesting as I don’t really have mountain biking skills. I went to moon lake park. I am happy with how I did for my first time but there were sections I felt were too technical for my current skill level and I dismounted and walked my bike. Mostly that was when I refused to jump my bike over anything. While that is kool and fun to do I wanted to not break anything while improving my current skill level and I was mostly successful at that.  I did fall at slice my finger open on a rock when my tires got locked up on a  rock jutting out of the ground and I fell onto a big boulder. I was probably going to slow over the rock and that is why I got locked up on it. Overall for the first time in my life I was actually better at climbing than descending! Climbing was fun because I was just muscled over stuff. Descending I don’t have the technique to be able to corner fast on rocky unsteady terrain so I was taking it easy. Mountain biking is definitely much more of a total body workout than road riding. Your out of the saddle so much when going over rocky terrain.  Because my mountain biking wasn’t the best Dave and I went for a hard road ride afterwards to hammer it a bit, Since I know they were riding the trail slower to wait for me.  The road ride was awesome. We climbed all the way out the back mountain and then looped around for a ridiculous descent off the back. It was super fun.  Because some of the roads are still closed out there from flooding damage there was little car traffic. We had to bike over some dirt mounds closing the roads so that we could get on them but it was worth it. It was about a 25 mile ride I didn’t start my garmin in the beginning. I will upload the garmin file for both the Pocono mountain bike course and yesterdays ride. I am def going to do more riding in that area because it was great climbing.  Monday – sorry this update took so long. It was a weird week last week just busy and trying to catch up on so many things. I am hoping to be back on schedule for this week.  Swim – 300 swim, 300 kick, 300 pull, 50 kick to warmup. Then 3 rounds of 200 fast, 100 catch on 20 seconds rest.  3.22, 3.24, 3.20.  cooldown 100 easy free, 50 easy breaststroke.  Took the cross bike, King Henry, to work today.  I actually found a few spots I can ride off road in grass, rocks, dirt on my way so off road we went.  Got to ride outside at lunch. Hit a 5 minute warmup, then did 20 minutes building in intensity every 2 minutes. Cooldown, 5 minutes easy, I did most of this on road but I did throw in whatever sections I could off road just to get used to riding that way. It slows your speed down but it demands greater leg strength as well as handling.

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