PostHeaderIcon Plan to Execute and Execute the Plan!

I have tried countless times to sit down and write a race report in the 2 weeks following my Ironman race. So instead of a normal race report I want to tell you about a journey.  This is a journey that started 17 months ago and continues to this day.  I have found that crossing that finish line in Madison Wisconsin was not the end of the journey but rather just another of the many highlights that I have had the opportunity to enjoy along the way. The best part about this journey is how many wonderful people I have met as I traveled the path that led me to that finish line. I have formed friendships that will last far beyond triathlons and races. When I started this journey I was focused on getting to that finish line to be done and be able to say that I did something amazing. Funny thing is that the highlights of my day were not until after I crossed that finish line. This is just a small part of the journey and a story about only two of the hundreds of friends I made along the way.

Long before this day as I was on one of the many training rides I rode with Julie I made her a promise. I said if I can still move once I finish this race I will come back out and find you and give you a big hug on the run course.   The night before the race as I was talking with Katie she nervously asked me to wait for her at the finish line. I agreed and told her I would. There were many more stories like these of friends I would talk to and encourage during the race however these two ladies had become like sisters to me over the course of the summer. We officially met at the MT Horeb Kwik Trip on the very first loop of my first trip to Verona for a training ride on the Ironman bike course back in May.  I finished that loop riding with them and we talked and laughed about anything and everything you could imagine. We rode another loop that day along with another friend Dell. From that day on we kept in contact almost daily for most of the summer. We would bounce ideas off each other and use each other for motivation to get out there and do the workouts even when we did not feel like it. We met in Wisconsin many more times during the year to train together and laugh and share cheese curds and a cold beer or two.

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Julie on left Katie In middle and Me on right

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Our first swim in Lake Monona Julie on left Katie In middle and Me on right

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Cheese Curds and Beer at Greys Tied House

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When you prepare for a race like an Ironman they tell you that you will have dark moments during the day and during those dark moments you need to have that “One Thing” you can focus on to get you to push through those moments. So as I get ready on race morning I was thinking a lot about the promises I had made to these two ladies. I was determined to keep these promises at all cost. So my “One Thing” was really “Two Things”. Finish the race with enough energy to still be able to walk and to keep my promises to Julie and Katie.

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Julie Katie and Me on Saturday before the race in Monona Terrace

 

I had a race plan and I was going to execute it. I wanted to swim the 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 20 minutes. I wanted to bike the 112 miles in 5 hours and 45 minutes and I was going to do the math when I ran out of transition to pace my run to finish my race in 11 hours 45 minutes. The overall goal was to not be in the medical tent or carried away from the finish line. I knew if I made these time cutoffs that I would have time to get back to my room and shower and change clothes and come back to the finish line and start tracking both Julie and Katie along with looking for the countless other friends I had still out on the course.

Race Day:

The Swim:

As I sat in the water waiting for the cannon to blast to start the swim portion of the race I was totally at ease. No stress at all. It felt like I had been there before and I was ready to take on this long training day. My mind was totally calm and I even found myself getting bored during the swim portion of the race. Sure I was getting hit and kicked by others swimming around me after all there were 2826 other swimmers trying to swim 2.4 miles as fast as they could too. The swim portion was awesome and I had tears in my eyes as I walked up the boat ramp through the swim finish arch in 1 hour and 20 minutes and 8 seconds. Part one of my plan was complete! Mission accomplished! I walked up the helix which is a four story parking ramp spiral where we had to run through a crowd of family and friends cheering us as we got ready to change clothes into our bike gear. As I got almost to the top I spotted my Son David and Friend Ann yelling at me. I pointed at them and continued on to the top where to my surprise I found Katie. She had finished the swim in about the exact same time as me and we shared a hug  as we ran into the changing rooms.

T1:

I spent 13 minutes and 20 seconds in the changing area and running out to get my bike. They call this T1 or Transition 1.  It was hard to get my clothes on over my wet body. I wanted to make sure I took my time and get everything I would need for the 112 miles on the bike.

 

The Bike:

I started down the Helix and out onto the course. There were bikes everywhere and we were on a narrow bike trail so I just sat up and pedaled with the pace of everyone. This was a no pass area as it was far too dangerous and you were not going to win the race in this part but you could certainly end your day with a crash here. Once we got onto open roads I got into Aero and started pedaling. I had a max pace of 20mph that I was aiming for on this the first part of the course. I wanted to do the first four hours at this pace. The goal was to slow slightly on the 5th hour to allow the legs time to recover and then push the last hour as I headed back into Madison and the end of the bike portion of the race. I would ride hard until I came to a big hill then I would sit up and shift to my easiest gear instantly and pedal at a high cadence up the hill. I got passed by many people as they pushed hard to get up the hills and then I would pass them and leave them behind as I was still pedaling on the crest and downhill portion after the hills and they were coasting as their legs were fried from the hill climb. I saw a few friends on the hills and Tiffany a friend from Iowa and someone I had logged countless hours training with was on the last big hill of the loops. She ran alongside me as I climbed and encouraged me and told me I was killing it. It was great to see her on the first loop as that gave me something to look forward to on the second loop. On the second Loop as I climbed that same hill I saw another friend John who grabbed my arm and gave me a nice shove on the rear as I passed him on that same hill. I remember thinking where were you on the other hills I could have used the shove there too after I pedaled away.  I rode back up the helix at the end of the 112 miles on the bike and was pleased to see that I had done my goal time on the bike. I finished the bike portion in 5 hours and 42 minutes46 seconds. I handed my bike off to a volunteer who was there to rack our bikes for us and heading into the changing area of T2.

T2:

I changed out of my bike bibs and jersey and changed into my running shorts and shirt. I grabbed my race belt and some gels for the run and headed out of T2 in 5 minutes and 23 seconds.

 

The Run:

I started the Marathon 26.2 mile run and headed up towards the capital. I looked at my watch and quickly did the math to figure out what I had to do to reach my goal to finish in 11 hours and 45 minutes. I calculated that I needed to average 10 minutes and 2 seconds per mile pace to finish in that time. I quickly decided to hold back a little on the first half of the run to save my legs and try to finish strong and still running. My goal was to get to the half way turn around and then to recalculate my time I had left to reach my goal. I finished the first 13.1 miles in 2 hours 12 minutes and 5 seconds at an average pace of 10:05 min/mile. I knew I had to speed up for the second half but did not want to push myself so hard that I crashed and had to walk. So I stayed at a steady pace and tried to gain time were I could without getting into that grey area. As I rounded the Capital for the final time and entered the finishing chute I started to sprint to get past a group of runners so that I could have this moment all to myself. As I crossed the finish line I looked up at the clock to see those magical numbers 11:44:09. My official chip time was 11 hours 44 minutes and 11 seconds. I hit every goal I had on the day to this point.

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Ironman Wisconsin 2014 Finish Line 11:44:11

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Finishers Medal

 

Dave and Ann were waiting for me at the finish line in the VIP area and we talked for a while as I ate pizza and chips in the finishers tent. I talked with a few other friends about the race too. David and Ann went to get my bike and gear and we met back at the apartment so that I could change and shower. They left to drive home as they both had to work the next day and I showered and headed back to the finish line.

 

I now started tracking Julie and Katie and heading backwards on the run course. Once I got to State street I waited there as I was finding many friends pass me and I would cheer for each of them as they ran by. I was the most anxious as I waited there looking for Julie to run out of the darkness on that street. When I saw Julie I yelled at her and she ran up and we had the biggest hug ever. I told her she was doing awesome and to keep going. I said I would see her at the finish line in a mile. I cut across the blocks to get to the finish line ahead of her and as she ran down the finishing chute she found me and ran over and gave me a high five.  She had a smile on from ear to ear. It was so surreal to fulfil that promise I made months before to find her on the run after I finished. I met Julie and her Husband Pat and two daughters and other family and friends at the finisher’s tent and I got another hug and you could just see the pride and sense of accomplishment as she smiled and talked to everyone.

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Julie and I after the Finish line!

 

 

 

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Julie giving me a High Five as she runs down the finishing chute. I am wearing the white finishers hat on the right.

Julie headed back to her room and I started tracking Katie again to see where she was on the course. I had a friend Kerri who was volunteering on the run course so I went out and found her so we could hang out and wait for others to finish. We were there watching for Katie when out of the darkness she ran around the capital and headed down the finishing chute. She was high fiving everyone and then stopped short of the finish to greet her parents for a moment. Then she turned and ran through the finish line.  I saw her parents waiting by the side so I stayed back for a few minutes to allow them to have their time to talk. I went over and we talked about the day and how awesome it was to share this journey. We shared a hug or two and I stayed and I talked with Katie and her parents for a while and then they went back to her hotel to get cleaned up.

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Katie and I at the Finish Line!

 

Both Julie and Katie had exceeded their expectations for the race and they both had awesome and well executed races. It was such a privilege to be a small part of their journeys to that finish line. Who would have known back in May that on this day I would feel more pride and sense of accomplishment watching these two ladies cross that line than I did when I crossed it myself.  What started out as a journey to find out how far I could push myself turned into so much more as I found myself more concerned with getting others to that finish line? Who would have known when I started training that I would share such an emotional journey with so many people I never even knew before I started.

Thank you all for sharing your journey with me! I look forward to where life will lead us in the future and feel confident that our paths will cross again many times!

Until then,

I will See You at the Finish Line!

Dave

PostHeaderIcon Raising Money to Support the mission of Above + Beyond Cancer

I have been trying to find new ways to help out with the efforts of Above + Beyond Cancer. This is something that is important to me and I would love some new ideas on how to raise money for their mission. I am finding that I am not very good about asking people to give money but I need to work on this.

https://www.crowdrise.com/IronmanWisconsin/fundraiser/davidrodda

Please click the link above to find out more about them.

See You at the Finish Line!

Dave

PostHeaderIcon 2013 IMT Des Moines Marathon results

 

IMT Des Moines Marathon 2013 Results: Today I ran my first Marathon. What an experience and I learned more than I could have ever imagined about myself. The day was cool and I was running close to an 8 min/mile pace for much of the first part of the race.

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I was on pace to beat my time I set out to run up until mile 17 when my body started hinting it was not happy with me. At mile 22 both calves locked up with cramps and I went into survival mode. I was no longer running but willing my legs to keep going. After I crossed the finish line every muscle in my legs decided enough was enough. My Official chip time was 3:48:07 and I am ready for a hot bath.

PostHeaderIcon First Marathon—-IMT Des Moines Marathon

Pre-Race rest day today: IMT Des Moines Marathon is tomorrow. As I sit at my computer today thinking about what I am about to do tomorrow I find myself looking back at all I have done in the last 7 months? It’s kind of surreal to think back to the day I bought the first pair of running shoes to start training for the Dam to Dam 20k race back in March. That was exactly 7 months to the day from tomorrow. 214 days that I have had so many amazing things happen in my life. Tomorrow I will find myself standing with many other crazy runners getting ready to start a 26.2 mile journey into the unknown. The Marathon will be my 11th race in 5 months since I decided to get off the couch and see if this old man still had anything left in the tank. I have lost 50 pounds logged countless miles on both the bike and on foot. I have swum miles upon miles in both the lake and pools. On March 22nd I went out for my first run and could not run a full lap on the track. My knees hurt and my body ached just trying to run ¼ mile. I went home that day thinking I would never be able to run a mile. Boy was I wrong! The Message I hope people get when they read this is not of me talking about all I have done but rather of me talking about what I could have missed this summer if I had not been inspired by a friend to get out of my comfort zone and push past the artificial boundaries we place on ourselves. If I can do this, then who can’t?  It all starts with the decision to take the first step. Get out and do something and live life like it was meant to be lived!

I will end this post with one of my favorite quotes about running a marathon:

“At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill.” Author Unknown

Start your journey today to find yourself and become the person you were meant to be! What do you have to lose? Nobody gets out of here alive anyhow so why not live today to the fullest?

See You at the Finish Line!

Dave

 

PS. If you are at the race look for me wearing my new Above and Beyond Cancer shirt. This will be my first race of many that I will support them in their fight to show that their is so much life still to live after Cancer has touched your life! Look for my new post explaining more about this awesome group and how I plan to raise money for them during this amazing journey to Ironman Wisconsin 2014.

If you would like to learn more about their mission please visit their website at http://aboveandbeyondcancer.org/ 

Above and Beyond Cancer

 

PostHeaderIcon Hy-Vee Triathlon 2013 Race Results

Hy-Vee Triathlon 2013 Race report: Today I did my First 5150 Olympic distance  triathlon. It consisted of a 1500 meter swim, a 40K  bike and a 10k run. The race was held at Grays Lake in Des Moines, Iowa.

Pre-Race Report: The race was delayed 45 minutes due to a thunderstorm that came through at 4am. The water temp was 86.5 degrees so the race was not wetsuit legal. I felt good about the race and was confident heading into transition to setup my gear. I met up with some of my morning swim group and a couple other Zoom athletes in transition and walked together to the beach to the swim start. My wave was third from last so I had over 1.5 hours to warm up in the lake. I actually warmed up three different times to try and stay loose.

Swim Report: The swim start was a time trial start. We lined up with three others in our age group and were sent running into the water to start our race. I lined up with two people I knew were faster than myself so that I could swim behind them and have some room at the start to get into my rhythm and get comfortable. The swim went great except for one minor problem. My goggles were fogged up so bad I could barely see the turn buoys. The Turn buoys were bright green and the line buoys were orange. After I turned at the first turn buoy I sighted something green off in the distance and started swimming towards it. The waves were hitting me in the face when I looked forward to sight as we were swimming into the wind. After what seemed like way too long I noticed I was swimming all alone so I stopped and took off my goggles and looked around. I was way off course and what I thought was a turn buoy was actually a volunteer in a green t-shirt the exact same color as the turn buoys riding a jet-ski. I had to swim back onto the course and head to the actual turn buoy which added some time to my swim. When I got around and was almost at the finish line I hit ground with my hand and stood up and ran a short distance before going back to swimming. All in all it was a great swim for me as I was totally comfortable and kept a slower pace so I would be fresher for the bike. I finished the 1500 meter swim in 40 minutes and 30 seconds. I had done my first swim without any panic and it felt great  to get over that brick wall.

Transition 1 Report: When I got out of the water I sprinted up the hill to get into transition. This short sprint left me gasping for air a bit more than I wanted. When I arrived at my bike I sat down and drank a bottle of my energy drink and changed into my biking gear and grabbed my bike and headed out to Bike out. Putting socks on wet feet is a time consuming thing. I will correct this next year so I don’t have to have socks during my races. The time it took for me to catch my breath and get out of transition was way too slow at 4 minutes and 47 seconds. I really need to work on this part of my race as I am giving free time to the others by taking so long. I tend to forget this is a race and I talk to others around me far too much.

Bike Report: The bike portion of the race was very windy. While waiting for the swim start we could see the pro cyclists coming in and many of them had bloody legs from falling. So I told myself to take it very safe and not push the turns too hard.  I started out passing people from the start and only got passed by two people on the bike. The wind really cut down on the time but I was very happy with my pace of 20 MPH and finished the bike portion in 1 hour 14 minutes and 29 seconds. During the bike ride my left leg started cramping and it was a concern for the run so I took the last mile really easy and really spun my legs to try and wake up my left leg. When I got off the bike my left leg was almost totally numb.

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 Transition 2 Report: I ran my bike from the bike dismount area into the transition area and placed it on the rack. I removed my bike shoes and put on my running shoes. I put on my visor and grabbed my handheld water bottle and put on my number belt. I finished another bottle of my energy drink and headed to the run out. I am not sure where I lost so much time in T2 but my time was far slower than I had hoped. This was by far the largest and busiest transition of any race I had done so far. My time was 3 minutes and 3 seconds.

Run Report: We ran along the trail that went downtown and then looped back. I started out conservatively as I wanted to make sure my left leg was able to get me to the finish line. I overcompensated with my right leg and this caused my right leg to start cramping also. Once this happened I was in survival mode on my run rather than racing. I just wanted to finish now so I stayed at a slow but comfortable pace and just kept going. As I came over the bridge that took us close to the finish line the crowds were amazing. I started running faster and could see the finish line. As I got onto the finishing carpet about 200 meters from the finish line another  runner flew past me and next thing I knew I was in a dead sprint trying to beat him to the finish line. I had planned on running slowly across the finish line so that I could get a good finishing picture. My sister was there waiting on me to get my picture. That plan went out the window when the competitor in me took over. We sprinted past at least 20 other runners and I passed him just before the line. We ran so fast that my sister did not even see me cross until the announcer said my name. I finished the run part in 53 minutes and 44 seconds.

Summary of results:

Swim 1500 meters: 40 min 30 sec

Transition 1: 4 min 47 sec

Bike 24.8 Miles (40K): 1 hour 14 min 29 sec

Transition 2: 3 min 3 sec

Run 6.2 miles (10K): 53 min 44 sec

Total time: 2 hour  56 minutes  32 seconds

 

I finished 350 out of 827 and 29 of 70 in my age group.

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Summary of the day: Now that I am swimming more comfortable in the race I need to really work on getting some speed into my swim. That will take lots of time in the pool this winter but I am confident I can get my swim time down by about 10 minutes which will make a big difference in my finish time. The swim is the first thing you do and it sets the stage for the rest of your day. I am determined to become a swimmer not a triathlete that survives the swim.

I still need to get some speed in my bike however I am really happy with my progress so far. I maintained the same MPH average in this race as I had done in the shorter sprint races. I have to keep telling myself that 5 months ago I did not even own a racing bike. I am still at the beginning of this journey and I have so much more I want to do.

I need to work on my running a bit in the race. My focus this race was the swim and my run showed it. I need to keep pushing instead of running with the pace of those around me. Getting out of the water with a slow time and starting in the rear of the swim puts me on the run with many good swimmers that run slower. So I don’t really have a rabbit to pace me or to try to catch. I find myself running with the others in the race and let my pace slow when I do.  This is something I will work on for the next race.

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Final note: Even with the issues and things I need to work on I finished the day with a great sense of accomplishment. I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon in under 3 hours and I did it with a smile on my face from the time I went into the water till the time I crossed the finish line. This race was so much fun and getting to join my swim group at the finish line for the awards ceremony was really cool. Many in our group got medals for finishing in the top three of their age groups. It was really great to see all the success our group had.

Scott Avitt my swim coach and me as I finally caught him in the race of all places on that bridge we had done laps under som many mornings at 5am in the dark.

My swim coach Scott Avitt and myself as I finally caught him in the race of all places on top of that bridge we had done laps under swimming from the beach to the bridge so many mornings at 5am in the dark. The things he taught me while treading water under that very bridge helped me to get past my swim panic issues. I would have never made it to that bridge during the race without his encouragement.  It was so fitting to see him on the bridge and to find a picture of that moment was priceless. He has become more than a coach and I am proud to call him a friend!

Side Note:  If you read my last race report from Bluff Creek Triathlon you read about a young lady I stopped to help on the run. Since that race we have trained together and she is part of my swim group also. It was incredible to see how far she has come in just three weeks from that race. She had a big smile on her face as she sprinted across that finish line and she looked very happy as she stood on the podium at this her first Olympic Distance race with a second place silver medal around her neck for her division. Tiffany is going to do some remarkable thing in her life. Her drive, determination, and willingness to put in the work to get to where she wants to be motivates me to push myself harder every day.

Tiffany and me at packet pickup before the race.

Tiffany and me at packet pickup before the race.

 

 

See You at the Finish Line!

Dave

PostHeaderIcon Hy-Vee Triathlon 2013 Pre Race full course workout

Hy-Vee Triathlon 2013 full race workout: Today we did most of the course for the upcoming Hy-Vee World Championship 5150. I will be competing in the age group division of the race next Sunday. I was with a coed group of 20 people and we did the whole swim except we finished back at the beach where we started instead of the transition area on the south of the lake. Once we finished the swim some of us got on our bikes and we did the 25 mile loop of the bike race portion of the race. Then we got on the trail and ran 4 miles to get our run in. The actual race is 6.2 miles.

It was a great day to test out the different parts of the race and get a few last minute preparations out of the way.

Now I start my taper into Race week. All my training is mostly complete. I have done the hard work now it’s time to go do it in a race next Sunday. My training for this week will be less intense and I will have more rest days. Sometimes taking rest day sis the hardest part about training for a race.

See You at the Finish Line!

Dave

PostHeaderIcon Hy-Vee Triathlon 2013: Saturday Morning Course Preview

Hy-vee Olympic Distance Triathlon 2013: Just finished a 1300 meters swim a 25 mile bike and a 2 mile run all on the Hy-vee triathlon course. I only have two more weeks until my first Olympic distance triathlon.

I was feeling fatigued from a late night 8 mile run last night that did not get done till after 11pm. I have to pick up my kids on Fridays and by the time I had a chance to do my run workout for the day it got late. When I started the swim I had to roll to my back and regroup a bit but got right back in and finished the swim without any problems once I got into aerobic breathing. I did look around and see where everyone was quite a bit as this was the largest training group I have trained with in the water. I did the 1300 in 28 minutes. We had 14 people in our group this morning and it was a beautiful morning to swim. The lake was calm and the water is still warm.

After the swim we jumped on our bikes and headed out to ride the 40K route of the triathlon. Traffic was very busy and we heard some words of encouragement as the cars went by. A few even thought we were number one. A short distance into the ride one of the guys had a pedal come loose so Scott and I stopped to help him with his bike. I got the pedal back on and fixed and then Scott and I formed a line as we leap frogged each other to catch back up to the group. We were cruising at a good speed and caught them before they got out of the park on the route. That was fun to ride with another person who can set a good pace on the bike.

Once we completed the bike ride a few of the group stayed around to run the trail loop around the lake. We did a short run to get our legs used to running after the bike ride. We ran 2 miles at a comfortable pace and the trail was quite busy with runners and bikers.

It was nice to get out and preview the course for the upcoming triathlon and it was a great group of people of all ages and abilities to train with. I got my but chewed by Scott about looking around too much on the swim but I was expecting this and would have been surprised if he never said anything. He tells you when you do great and he tells you when you suck. I like that about him and his way of coaching you. He does not expect you to do anything he isn’t doing right alongside of you.  

1300 Meter Swim

1300 Meter Swim

25 Mile Bike Ride

25 Mile Bike Ride

 

2 Mile Run

2 Mile Run

See You at the Finish Line,

Dave

PostHeaderIcon Hy-Vee Traithlon 2013: More Swimming

Today I went out with my swim group at Grays Lake which is the site of the 2013 Hy-Vee Olympic distance Traithlon. I wanted to test my theory of the start slow and taper slower without doing any kind of warm-up. I had a great swim and swimming with others allowed me to swim a bit faster once I got into my calm breathing. I started out so slow everyone left me in their wake. I was behind the pack for most of the swim however I did do 2130 yards in just under 43 minutes. That is an average pace of 33 minutes for 1500 meters. So the moral of the story is that the slow start actually took time off my mile swim and not just seconds but it cut more than 10 minutes off my mile from yesterday.  Starting out very slow and getting into your rhythm is the key to the rest of your swim. Most in the group only did 2000 yards however due to my lack of swimming in a straight line I got a little more distance.

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Today was the closest I have come to simulating an actual triathlon start with no warm-up. I felt good even though I had some worries about going without the usual time to get used to the water.  I was surprised that my time was that fast as it felt like I was just taking it easy. Just over two weeks to go until my first Olympic distance triathlon and I am feeling really good about my swim.

See You at the Finish Line!

Dave

PostHeaderIcon Hy-Vee Triathlon 2013: Open Water Swim Progress Report

I went to Grays Lake alone today to swim around the buoys. This is the site of the upcoming Hy-Vee Olympic Distance Triathlon on Labor Day weekend. I was not feeling good about my swim however I did 1800 yards but only 150 yards at a time and then I would stop catch my breath and go again.

I finally decided I was going to force myself to turn the corner and continue or it was time to go home. So I did and I got into a rhythm and my breathing slowed and my stroke felt easy and next thing you know I had gone 1830 yards in 49 minutes. I did 1328 strokes and averaged 27 strokes a minute. I know I am not fast by any stretch of the imagination. However I think I could have kept this pace up for another mile at least as when I stopped I was not even breathing hard. I stopped because my curiosity got the best of me and I lost count on how far I had gone and wanted to look at my Garmin 910. I just got the Garmin before the Tri last weekend and I love that I can now see exactly how far I have gone in my swimming.

Today I passed two very important milestones in my swim. I did over 2 miles in open water and I did my first continuous nonstop mile plus freestyle in open water. Two weeks until my first Olympic Triathlon and 1500 meter swim so today was a big psychological boost to my training.

 

See You at the Finish Line!

Dave

PostHeaderIcon Bluff Creek Triathlon 2013 Race Report:

Bluff Creek Triathlon 2013 Race report: Today I did my second sprint triathlon. It consisted of a 500 meter swim, a 15 mile bike and a 5k run. The race was held at Don Williams Lake in Ogden Iowa.

Pre-Race Report: I woke up at 4 am with a right eye swollen shut from an eye infection. I spent some time wiping the eye with a warm damp rag to try and get the eye to clear up enough to see. I used eye drops and took a shower and finally got the swelling to go down enough to see out of the eye and got the car loaded and headed out for the 1.5 hour trip to Ogden.  I had loaded most of the equipment the night before so I got out of the house by 4:45am. I arrived at the race site at 6:15 am and got my bike out and aired up my tires and then rode my bike to the transition area with my backpack on my back. I got everything setup and went for a 2 mile run to warm up. I then put on my brand new wetsuit and headed to the line to the bus to take us to the beach starting area on the other side of the park. While in line my wetsuit was only pulled up to my waste to keep from getting too hot.

Swim Report: Once we arrived at the beach I finished getting into my wetsuit and had another person help me zip it up. This was my first time swimming in the new sleeveless wetsuit. I noticed it was a little tight when I went for a warm-up swim in the water. The collar was actually choking me but I thought it would loosen up a bit once I got it wet and filled with water. We lined up on the beach and the horn sounded and I started to swim. After about 100 feet I had to roll to my back and pull on the collar to allow my neck to breath. I was not really having a panic attack this time but I was having a wetsuit issue that was not allowing me to swim any length comfortably. I would swim about 10 strokes then roll to my back and pull on the collar. This made the swim take way longer than I had hoped although I did keep moving the whole time and never had to stop or rest.  I know better than to try something new on race day and I had my other wetsuit with me but wanted to use the sleeveless one I had just purchased to keep cool. I should have gone without a wetsuit in hindsight. The swim took 13:30 and that time included the 200 meters run to the transition area where the bikes were parked after we left the water and ran up the boat ramp and across the park.

Transition 1 Report: I ran in to get ready for my bike ride next. Transition was like a giant maze and it was easy to get lost in the confusion. I arrived at my bike and had issues with getting my very tight wetsuit off my legs. I had taken it off down to my waste as I ran up to transition but could not get my feet out of it. I finally just laid down on the ground and worked my feet loose. I dried my feet with a small towel and put on my socks and bike shoes and then put on my glasses and helmet and grabbed my bike and headed for the Bike mount area. Transition 1 time was 2:36 which is slow for a sprint triathlon. I was hoping for 1 minute or less.

Bike Report: As soon as I left transition with my bike in hand I ran across the bike mount line and got on my bike.   I immediately knew that my front tire was totally flat. I got off the bike and went to the ditch to fix my tire. I removed the old tube and installed a new tube and aired it up with some help from a couple spectators. I installed the tire on the bike and got on and started my bike race with over 7 minutes of time gone from the clock. I was in the back and had plenty of people to chase as I went down the road. I passed people for the entire ride and finished the bike portion in 49:44 for the 15 mile ride including the tire change. They called the course flat but it was typical rolling hill countryside of Iowa. No big hills but many small ones and you were either going up one or going down another constantly. There was a headwind on the way back in from the half way turnaround that made the ride back in fun also.

Transition 2 Report: I ran my bike from the bike dismount area into the transition area and placed it on the rack. I removed my bike shoes and put on my running shoes. I put on my visor and grabbed my handheld water bottle and put on my number belt as I was running towards the exit. You had to run towards the swim in area to go across that timing mat then make a sharp turn and head back the way you just went to get to the trail that leads to the 5k run area. Once again it was like a maze of blue fencing.  Transition 2 times was 1:34. I was hoping for 1 minute or less. 

Run Report: You had to run on a nature trail for a short distance that leads to a gravel road that took you up to the paved road for the 5k. My legs were tired as I started the run due to going too fast on the bike to try and catch up on the flat tire time that I lost. I was not running my best pace but it was a decent one till I hit the turnaround of the 5k and headed back towards the finish line.  That’s when I quit racing as I had something more important calling me to take action on. 

I came upon a fellow racer and she looked like she was having a really hard time. I won’t mention her name here but she was a person that I have talked to many times as we have been to the same training clinics and practice swims together in the past and we always exchanged small talk. I knew this was her first triathlon and I knew how hard she had worked to get to this day. She was walking on the road and looked like she was not having a very good time of the run. I stopped running and ask her how she was doing. I could see by the look on her face that she was hitting the wall. She told me she was overheating and that she was done. I asked her if it was alright for me to spray her head and neck with the water from my bottle I was carrying. She said yes so I started cooling her with my bottle and you could see the color come back into her face almost immediately. We started running and we ran side by side for a short distance talking until we arrived at the water station. I told her to grab two cups of water. One to drink and one to pour over her head to cool her off. We walked a short time then started running again. We ran until we could see the turn to head down the gravel road towards the finish line and she told me to go ahead that she would be alright. As I left her side I could hear the runners behind her start encouraging her to keep going and I told her I would be waiting at the finish line to watch her finish. I ran ahead and finished my race in 26:18. I crossed the finish line then went back down the course to yell as she ran past. Her husband and daughter were waiting for her at the finish line and I could see the tears in her eyes as she greeted them. I walked away feeling like I had just won the race. You know the funny thing about this was that until the announcer at the finish line called out her name I had no idea what it was. It’s funny how you know people by face and talk to them and greet them like old friends because you see the same people at the races and group training sessions each week. I think this friendly culture of the triathlon group is what makes doing triathlons so addicting.  You see people at their worst. Hair messy, no makeup, sweaty and smelly, wearing next to nothing and you become friends anyhow. We all know how hard the work is to get to the finish line of a triathlon. The respect and admiration I have for each and every triathlete whether they are the first to cross the line or the very last is overwhelming. Today, in the blink of an eye I made a decision to do a simple act of kindness to help another person out and in the process I realized that the finish line is not the goal, experiencing the journey is the real goal. Perhaps my flat tire on the bike was meant to happen to put me in the exact place and time to reach out to another person who needed a little boost to keep going in her journey.  We met up again at the food table after some time and we exchanged a big sweaty hug and she thanked me for everything. We talked and laughed about the day and I could see she was hooked and she will be back for another try in the near future.

Summary of results:

Swim 500 meters: 13 min 30 sec

Transition 1: 2 min 36 sec

Bike 15 miles: 49 min 44 sec

Transition 2: 1 min 34 sec

Run 5K: 26 min 18 sec

Total time: 1 hour  33 minutes  45 seconds

 

I finished 108 out of 176 and 12 of 13 in my age group.

 

Summary of the day: I still have tons of work to do in the open water swim. However today I felt I worked through the difficulties and actually was in some control of what my mind was thinking about. I did not have a good swim but I did finish it with face in water and freestyle. I found out why you don’t introduce a new item into your race on race day. This goes for nutrition as well as clothing or other items.

I felt I had a good bike ride. I had such a good bike ride I felt I needed to give the others a 7 minute head start to be fair. Stella has failed me a couple major times here lately and I need to figure out if this is random or something I need to work on with upkeep and maintenance. I was happy when her chain broke and left me stranded 10 miles from my car in the dark a week back as it was not on race day. Stella and I have to have a heart to heart I guess before the next race.

The run started off with tired legs from the bike but I got into a good pace once I hit the pavement. I need to work on spinning my bike more as I come into the end of the ride to get my legs ready for the run. As for the rest of the run I would not change a thing.

Transitions were slow again. I will work harder on this before Hyvee. I was faster from bike to run but slower from swim to bike so it was about the same as my first triathlon for times. I shaved 10 seconds off the total time but should have shaved 2 minutes at least. This is free time that takes no energy to gain just practice.  I have been practicing the bike to run but I felt I should have shaved more than the 35 seconds off my time that I did.

Final note: After the race I walked up to the run area after putting my bike in my car to cheer on the People who were doing the Olympic distance race today. They were running a 10K at the end of their triathlon. That is where I met my second new friend of the day. Her name is Cathy and she is 67 years young. She was just starting the run and she was suffering badly from charley horses and cramps in her legs from the bike ride. She was the very last person to start the run and she was determined to finish. Her son was waiting there with us for his mother to arrive and when she did her son Jason and I walked with Cathy for the entire length of the run course. We talked about everything from triathlons (which she did her first at age 59) to grand children to riding her bike in Ragbrai and even across the Untied States. She is quite an inspiration to listen to as she walked ever so slowly and we even stopped a few times as you could see the cramps in her legs. She was determined to finish and she did. She walked over 6 miles and I was cheering along with a couple dozen others that waited at the finish line as she crossed the finish line. I could see the pride in her eyes as she got a hug from her son who walked with us the whole way. She talked the whole way around the course and she was even talking as I left to head to my car. She will be at the Hyvee triathlon and I look forward to watching her cross another finish line in a few weeks. When I asked her what her plans were for the rest of the day, she told me she was going to take a nap in her truck under a shade tree before she left the park for home.

I woke up this morning thinking I was going to a race. I ended up getting a lesson in life and what it means to be alive. Sometimes your time at the finish line is not the most important thing you get from the day!

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See You at the Finish Line!

Dave