Thursday, July 25, 2013

70.3 Racine Race Report

Coffee and Raccoon Lake...what more could you need?
Sorry, this is going to be long. I am currently sitting by Raccoon Lake (well I was when I wrote this), drinking coffee, and enjoying nature. I figured I better write this while the race is fresh in my brain. So, I left home Saturday morning and met my friends in Racine. Check in, expo, hotel, quick bike, quick swim (blah), drop bikes of—the usual. I was lucky that my friends Steve and Tom were racing so they let me sneak into their hotel room. We went to dinner at some Italian place near our hotel, and I had the usual pre race pizza and 2 beers. My pre race thoughts were A) Lake Michigan is awesome to look at B) the water seems pretty choppy and I didn’t enjoy my pre race swim C) I'm super excited to race (as usual) and I just wanted it to be Sunday morning. Pre race day is like Christmas Eve for me and race day is like Christmas.

Race morning 5 am rolled around and I was wide awake. The Radisson was about a ¼ mile walk to the transition area, so it was pretty perfect positioning.  My wave didn’t go off til 8:24, so I didn’t leave the hotel til close to 6. All I had to do was walk over, put a few things in transition, and make sure my bike was working. After that I had a while to wait…and wait…and wait. I ran into Jake, Kraig, and Danny in transition, and Robert who qualified for Worlds at Branson with me. I made the walk down to the start to wait some more. I talked to my new friend Alex from Kentucky and I found out this was his first half ironman. He looked much calmer than I did at my first! We sat and talked for a while, and then decided to go for a warm up swim. The water was a lovely 61 degrees.

Swim- 42:14
So finally at 8:24 it was our time to go. I lined up in the first 3rd row on the far left. I figured I could get some clean water to start and the water was pushing us to the right anyway. I don’t remember what the sound was to start, I was just thinking, “Fart in your wetsuit, it will you’re your back half float. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Get out decent and find some feet.” Well the first part of the swim was more of a jog, dolphin dive, high knees run—I felt like I was doing form drills. The start was frustrating as I felt like I would swim forward 5 feet, but get pushed back 6 feet by the waves. Somehow I finally made it to a place to start swimming. All I know is I hadn’t made it to the first buoy and I was already thinking, “It’s going to be a while before you exit the water.” When I finally made it to the first buoy I was not thrilled that I had to swim a long, straight line. Somehow I found myself leading a pack of 4 guys…wait, I wanted tp be the one drafting. My navigations skills are already pretty bad, and the waves were a lot bigger than I was expecting. I started feeling sick to my stomach (I had never had this happen during a swim before). I got to buoy three and I threw up from feeling “sea sick”—sorry to those behind me. At this point I knew it was going to be a long swim. I felt like I was being tossed around in a washing machine and I was not thinking happy thoughts at this time. I made it 4 or 5 more buoys and I threw up again. It was at this point that I swore I was never coming back to Racine (more on that later). I knew I was having an awful swim. We made the final turn to head back to shore and the choppy water was no easier to navigate than on the way out. I exited the water feeling like crap, probably low on calories, and full of lake water.
Land...Thank God!
T1- 3:32
My favorite part  of the swim was exiting the water to get to T1. It is a nice 150m beach run, followed by a sidewalk run. At least I can make up a few seconds on the swimmers here... I didn’t use the wetsuit strippers because it’s easier to just do it myself. It was really easy to find my bike, because it was one of few left on the rack haha.
I think this was heading out of town...or maybe back in...
Bike: 2:31:56 (22.1mph/204 watts)
The bike leg was actually pretty uneventful—just the way I like it. I got on my bike knowing I had a poor swim, but I can still have a great bike split. Coach and I came up with a power plan, but it quickly went out the window. I was very excited to be on my bike and wanted to pass a lot of people. I honestly don’t think I looked down at my power meter in the first 10 miles of the bike (shhh, don’t tell coach), because I was too busy trying not to get hit by other rides on the course. The bike course was very crowded and I spent a lot of time in the left lane. It really stinks when you see some pro men and women making the last 5 miles or so of their ride as you are starting your first few miles—they’re almost done and your day is just beginning. Some of the roads were great, some of the road were crap. I spent some of the ride thinking, “My poor brain, it’s already been shaken around enough.” There were some parts of the ride that people were riding 3-4 wide and not moving fast enough. I know you’re not supposed to go to the left lane to pass, but…you shouldn’t be riding 3-4 wide either. Around mile 40 on the bike I started to get bored. I had taken in enough beautiful sights, I was having fun, but I was ready to start running. This is why I probably will not do an Ironman for quite some time… Then around mile 45 I was super excited to be riding again as I knew I had 11 miles left to go. Unfortunately the roads were starting to be even more crowded as they were splitting lanes for bikers. Although the road conditions were poor and crowded,  the awesome spectators and volunteers made up for it. I decided that Racine isn’t so bad and I would like to come back. (Different thought than the swim haha) I was off the bike in 2:31xx for a new HIM bike split PR by17 minutes and I didn’t even have to pee on the bike. That put a nice smile on my face going into T2.
"On your left!"
T2- 1:31
In and out…that’s the name of the game
I look so happy to see people I know!
Run- 1:19:55

I had no idea what place I was in coming off the bike, but I knew I was not on the podium for my AG. Coach told me to start out conservative and try to build the pace from there…if you call 5:51 conservative then I hit the nail on the head! Ha. Well, I just went with what felt easy and a mile in I realized I was running a bit too quickly. The pace felt easy, but I knew that would set me up for a big PR run. Well, I kept clipping the off sub 6’s like clockwork. The spectators were awesome, the zoo…not so much. As I was finishing my 1st loop I heard somebody say, “Dark Horse?! That’s Steve Johnson! Well, that isn’t Steve, but…” and I couldn’t hear the rest of the conversation. What? You don’t think I look like Steve? The run course was getting very crowded on my 2nd loop and I had to start making some decisions. Run on the far left of the run lane, or in the grass on the right side. I had planned on taking a gel at mile 6 along with electrolyte pills and water. I took the gel before the aid station, and it was pretty backed up. I now had to decide if I was going to try to sneak in and get some water or just pass it up. To wait for water would mean probably 15-20 seconds, honestly, or  pass it up and wait for the next one. My mind was screaming “Stop! Take the water!” but my body just kept running…right on past the aid station. Stupid. I quickly started to regret that as my mouth was dry, I just took a gel, and it was warming up.  The next aid station could not come soon enough. I ran a 6:xx mile and thought, “Hold on Nancy, this is where it starts to hurt.” The next aid station was super crowded also, and I meant to get water, but I got cola…sh*t. At this point I was sick to my stomach and really not a happy camper because I made another stupid/tired mistake. I saw my buddy Jake on the run course and he informed me that there were a few guys in my AG just making the turn around.  I knew I saw them on their way back in as I was on my way out—they looked like they were hurting, but I don’t think I was looking too hot either. I told myself just to go after those three and then get in. I put in a nice surge to get by them and “pass with authority.” (picture me saying that to myself). With about 2 miles to go I started to get in my happy place again. I just tried to pretend I was on another training run with Evan, or a long run with my Greenville teammates. I knew there were many more guys up there and it was going to be a dogfight for the podium. One of my fellow competitors yelled, “Your skinny ass is making this look easy—it’s not fair!” And I just thought, “Yes, I have a skinny ass!” With a mile to go I saw a sign that said FREE BEER AT THE FINISH LINE. That was the little boost I needed to get me going. I had not been passed by anybody on the bike, and if I could just finish this mile, I wouldn’t be passed by anybody on the run. With a half mile to go I said, “Okay Coree, there are a lot of people here watching...don’t crap your speedo and get across that line.” The spectators were awesome and I was feeling good again. I knew I had maybe 3 minutes of running left to do. With maybe 400m to go I picked off another guy in my AG. With 200m to go I picked off 2 more. I didn’t see anybody else that looked even close to my age with 100m to go—time to celebrate. There were a bunch of kids wanting high fives, so I ran down the side of the finisher chute giving high fives!
What I don't want to happen in a race. LOL
I crossed the line and went to lean down to get a rock out of me shoe and they thought I was passing out. I had about 5 medical people rush over to me to hold me up and ask me how I’m feeling and carry me to the medical tent and pack me full of ice. They were super nice people, but I wasn’t going to pass out, I just wanted to sit down for a second and get the rock out of my shoe. I then started crying in the medical tent—I was a mess. I was excited,  mentally tired, my feet hurt, thirsty, and it just set a nice 17 minute PR. So then the people in there are asking me what's wrong and the only thing I could say was, "I just want my candy bar and it's probably melting in the car right now." ...maybe it was a good thing they made me sit there for a while.
Both feet had some nice blisters after the race. Yummy!
4th AG, 85th OA 4:38:50

Overall, I am very happy with the race. There are a few things I need to work on, a few mistakes I need to NOT make, and some good things to take away and use next time. As usual, I would like to thank Coach Steve for helping me improve, one day at a time. And thanks to my family and friends--I couldn't do it without all the support from y'all.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Evergreen Lake Sprint Race Report

Evergreen Lake Triathlon weekend always promises to be an interesting weekend…this year did not disappoint.  Somehow I convinced Matt and Adam to come along for the weekend. I’m not sure if it was the possibility they may get to go disc golfing, camping, or beer…but either way, it is always fun to have more people come along. So Friday afternoon Matt and Adam came to my house to pick up Wyatt and me. We made the hour drive down to Hudson for packet pick up, all the normal stuff that goes with packet pick up, and then I did a quick workout. While I was working out, they set up the tents….we finally figured out we were going to have 6 people, but only tent space for 4…possibly 5. Oh well, that was an issue for a different time—we all just wanted dinner. We ate at Firehouse Pizza in Bloomington, and I had my pre-race beer: Dark Horse Imperial Stout. YUM! Went back to the campsite, talked forever, goodnight….much later than I would normally go to bed, but we were having fun.

These are the two I trusted to set up the tent...
Race morning was the usual: up before the sun, stumble around like a zombie for a few minutes, our noise makers may or may not have opened a beer at 5 something in the morning, and we got ready for the race. With packet pick up the day before and camping 200m away from the race start, it made race morning pretty simple. Pump up the tires, walk bike into Transition, and sit around for a while. The water temp was 81.1 degrees, so not we wetsuit legal. Dang! Oh well, I only had to swim a 500m. They Olympic started at 7, and the sprint started at 7:30…I had a while.

Swim (500m): 9:16

I was hoping to swim in the 8:30-8:40 range, so when I saw 9:16, I was instantly disappointed. Then I remembered that A) this swim course is usually set long B) I still had a 40k bike ahead of me C) It was meters, not yards, so it was so bad. Anyway, I just used positive self talk—Coree, you’re awesome…you swam so well…you’re doing great—and started running for T1.
Not only can they make noise and set up tents, they can take pictures too!

T1: 1:08

This was an absolute mess. Normally my T1 is flawless, but I struggled to get my helmet on this time. I also was not taking a bottle cage on my bike this time, I just planned on holding a bottle in the back of my speedo…since I ride with 1-2 back there on training rides anyway (yes, I wear bike shorts when training).  I was stupid though, and tied my speedo too tight before the swim and couldn’t get the bottle in there. SO, I held the bottle in my mouth, did ran out of T1, flying mount onto the bike, and started to ride…still could not get the bottle in—I hadn’t realized my speedo was tied too tight yet. And, I forgot to loosen the straps on my shoes, so I could not get my feet in my shoes. This little situation ended up probably costing me :15…stupid mistakes.

Bike (40k):  1:02:56

I don’t have much to say about the bike course, besides it is a giant lollipop, and it can fun or miserable, depending on the wind. I honestly couldn’t tell you what direction the wind was blowing, but I was feeling good. It was a rather uneventful ride, and I was only passed by one person on the bike! I just remember being about half way tough the ride, looking down at my watch and thinking, “uh oh, I’m going fast…this can’t be good….but I feel great.”

T2: :48.2 (Fastest)

Quick and simple. In and out. So, 1 for 2 on transitions today.
Hoping for a cleaner dismount than the last time I was here..

Run (“5k”): 16:54 (Fastest)

Earlier this year, I got to run the 5k course for the Tri Shark Du. I ran 17:21(5:27/mile) and was angry that I didn’t go sub 17 there…only to find out the course was 5.2 miles…so I felt much better about that. Well, same course this time and I was 16:54 (5:17/mile) 6 weeks later. I had no idea what place I was in starting the run, but I knew I had some work to do. I knew Stephen passed me out of T1, and some guy passed me 15 miles into the bike, so there were at least 2 ahead of me, along with Litowitz and Alexander. So at best I was in 5th for the sprint, but with my weak swim I figured there would be more out there. My first mile was a 5:18 and I thought, “Oh, Sh*t! I can’t hold this…but it kind of feels easier than some of my workouts…just keep pushing.” I could see Stephen up ahead nearing the turn around. I knew I was in 4th. I’m pretty sure Stephen flipped me off as he passed me on his was back…this was playing out just like Tri Shark. Sure enough, a little after the 2 mile mark I passed him, and was pretty sure I had 3rd place. There were few athletes on the course ahead of me, Litowitz and some of the elite Olympic guys, at this point it the goal was just to push it in. Mile 2 was 5:18, mile 3 was 5:24, my last .2 was :54 to run 16:54, good enough for the fastest run split of the day.
Hey, there's Thomas Gerlach!

Finish: 1:31:04. 1st Collegiate, 3rd OA.

Thoughts on the race:

     -Swim split—Not what I wanted, but really not awful.

     -T1—I just fumbled…A lot.

     -Bike Split- 1:18 in 2010, 1:09 in 2012, 1:02 now

     -Run- :10/mile faster now than 6 weeks ago on same run course

     -Bringing friends to the race—most fun I have had at a tri in a while.

Thanks to Coach Steve for making me fast! Thanks to Matt and Adam for coming along and making some noise…when I do an Ironman someday (a long time from now), I will hire you two to be my noise makers. And thanks to the NIU team (and some of the SIU team) for making it a fun weekend!
Here we go NIU...I don't know why I'm not smiling...or wearing pants...

Next up? 70.3 Racine! What’s next for you?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Little Bit of Everything...

What a crazy two weeks it has been. I have quite a bit to cover.



Random Thoughts

Well, here we go…


Training has been fun, but I seemed to be riding the struggle bus for a bit. I come from a running background, but I still struggle on run workouts from time to time—or for a week at a time. I think I was just frustrated with myself for not being able to complete the workouts as well as I would have liked. Luckily things made a turn for the better at the end of this week and things started to come back. Coach told me, “Nobody said getting fast was going to be easy.” I think that was his nice way of saying suck it up and run. Haha. I finally had a good long run (thanks to Wyatt riding along with me carrying fluids for me) and it is definitely a confidence booster going into races the next two weekends. 
Biking was also a struggle for a while, or I just wasn’t super motivated to hop on the trainer after swimming at 5:30 am and doing data entry all day. Data entry is monotonous enough (but I am thankful to have a job!) but then to have to ride the trainer a few nights was my breaking point. I started wondering if I would be ready for Racine, or if I even made the right decision signing up for it…and then one day I finally had a great ride and everything seemed to be back to normal.
I'm such a happy camper...
Swimming…well, my swimming is always hit or miss, but I have been having some decent workouts. Actually I don’t even know if they are decent workouts, but I am feeling good in the water, so that is a plus. I have been working on the catch/pull with my left arm since I really just didn’t have much of one, and it has been helping…now I just need to keep my legs up in the water. I can only think about so many things while swimming, but I would love to get to the point someday where I do not have to think about anything! Although, on Saturday I had one of those moments where everything just felt "right." I'm not sure what "correct" swimming really feels like, but  I think that may have been it.
Overall, I love training, even when I struggle. It may not always sound like I love it, but I really do. I think the hard/struggle weeks just make the weeks that seem easy just that much sweeter.  Over the past few weeks I’ve really had to learn to let go of the bad workouts before going into another workout, and just focus on the task at hand.

This is what all roads seemed to look like.
My friends Ross and Rosie got married a week ago J I wish I could say I remember the moment, but I don’t… let’s rewind. A few months ago Ross asked me to be a groomsman in the wedding—I said “let me think about it” because I really wanted to race 70.3 BSLT. In the back of my mind I knew saying yes was the right thing to do, but BSLT seemed like fun. So I came up with about 10 different plans on ways to be in a wedding on Sat afternoon in IL and make it to Lubbock to still race on Sun…none of which were actually possible in real life—but they were plenty possible in my mind. Anyway I finally told him yes, but said I wouldn’t be mad if they changed the date.
Now it is June 29. I was supposed to have a 35ish minute swim and 3ish hour ride in the morning…giving me plenty of time to eat, rest, and get cleaned up for the wedding. I felt great swimming in the lake, and Grandma Dot had breakfast ready for us, so I ate, and then went out on the bike. My workout tuned south pretty quickly, and I was practically driving the struggle bus. I ended up calling the ride at 2.5 hours, and didn’t feel so great.
Lunch was waiting for me when I got off the bike, so I ate and then started to get cleaned up. Once we were all ready, we went to the church to get dressed and take some pictures. I must say for a group of runners/athletes we clean up pretty well! After pictures we sat around for a little bit, and then it was show time. Josh and I have had a running joke going for the past few months of who was going to be the star of the show; after all, he was the best man (even though we all know I am always the star). So before we went on stage some of us were joking that we were going to lock our knees and see if we pass out—I mean nobody actually does that…do they?
We clean up pretty well!
 Now we’re on stage. Literally 10 minutes into the wedding I get a weird feeling in my stomach, and I got all hot and sweaty. Great.  I have one job to do…stand there and look good. I decided to try and shift my weight a little bit to get more comfortable, and as I was shifting I got all light headed. Oh joy. I went to move again and I went tunnel vision on Ethan’s shoulder. The next thing I know there are people hovering over me asking me if I can hear them, my shirt is half unbuttoned, and I am laying on the floor in the back of the church. Apparently I passed out on stage, and no, I did not lock my knees. Guess I really did steal the show haha. So, I don’t even remember much of the wedding, but I know it was good! And congrats Ross and Rosie! I guess I was just so filled with emotion that it moved me to the ground.

The happy couple! Congrats!
 (PS— I’ve been checked out since then and I am okay.)

Also, Rosie’s Grandparents are the best! First, you have to be a saint to put up with 10 college guys staying at your house for a few days, but they loved having us. And we all had a great time hanging out with them, and Dot cooks up a storm! They should open up a tri camp at their house. We could swim in the lake, ride out country roads, and eat at “Dot’s Diner.”
I wouldn't mind training here!

I applied to be a part of Hawk Racing and didn’t really expect to hear anything back. I had applied to a few other companies and they politely said “thanks, but no thanks” or something along those lines. Well, on Monday morning I got an email saying I was picked up as one of the Hawk Racing sponsored riders! I am pumped. I need to replace the bottom bracket on my bike—it has been making noise, so I can’t wait to try out a new Hawk bottom bracket. I have heard they are awesome, so I can’t wait to use it!

*I always seem to have good long workouts the day after a dark beer or two.
*Sanjay and Craig could quite possibly be my new favorite TV show.
*Casey’s (gas station) has the best smiley face cookies!
*I am super excited for 70.3 Racine!
*I never used to like blueberries, but this summer I can’t stop eating them!
*If you say, "Wear your swimsuit to the pool party," I may show up dressed like this…
Happy 4th of July!

Have a great week y’all.