Thursday, March 31, 2011

Du or Du Not, There Is No Tri

"Du, or du not.  There is no tri."
If you haven't read the recap from last weekend's 5k, go check it out.  It was a huge jump in performance for both Julian and I.  PR's were smashed and confidence is high but our biggest challenge is coming up Sunday - the Fast & Furious Duathlon.  The last time we tackled a duathlon was as a relay team at Texas Motor Speedway.  This time we are on our own.

The short course is a 2mi run, 11mi bike, and 2mi run.  I know the distances aren't much for all you experienced triathletes out there but I have no doubt this will be a grueling test.  The shortness of the course lends itself to a high intensity approach and it'll be interesting to see if I can find the balance that allows for a strong bike split while having enough legs for the final run.  For Julian, this should trump anything he's done before.  I'm not sure he fully grasps how tough it'll be.  He's used to his athletic efforts lasting less than 30 minutes.  Sure he's done much longer workouts with me before but race pace is a different matter.

I've done the best I can to prepare Julian for what is to come.  We've discussed the basic performance plan stuff like pacing and hydration, plus some possible scenarios like how to handle mechanical issues such as a dropped chain.  I also contacted Jack of Ironhead Race Productions and he informed me he would be out at the course on Saturday.  We were already considering going out there for an easy scouting ride and now that's a definite.  Jack told me to give him a heads-up call and he'd be glad to take Julian on a cart to check out the run course and transition areas.  That combined with a bike ride across the dam should help him feel more comfortable the next day.  Trying to absorb all that info in a 10 minute long pre-race meeting would've been too much to ask.

For me, I'm in fine tuning mode.  Add lace-locks to the running shoes, figure out the exact nutrition approach, things like that.  As a certain soda commercial says ..... it's time to "Do the Dew Du"!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Personal Records at the Green Door 5k

First, let's set the stage .....

For Angelia, this 5k would be the graduation run for a Couch-to-5k group out of Rockwall Running Center that she helped coach.  As such, she would be pacing one of the new runners and not racing it for herself.  I should also mention the group contained a few members of the staff from our boys' school.  Here's what Tri4SuccessMom had to say about working with the group:

    C25K started on January 3rd.  That’s right. In the winter.  Whatever Mother Nature threw at us, we were going to run in it.  After being asked to help coach this amazing group I really had to think about it. Did I have what it took to help other new runners?  I am still just a beginner myself.  I am still working on getting faster.  These are just a few of the things that I thought about before answering.  One thing I know for sure is I love the way I feel when I am running! Plus, if I could just pass on to just one person the love of running as Coach Barrett Hopper from Rockwall Running Center did for me, then I have succeeded.
Angelia and Coach Barrett Hopper
celebrating a successful race.

For Julian, we wanted to see what he could do.  Yes, he's run a 26:40 before but we all know he's actually faster than that.  We made it very clear he was to take off on his own and not to hang behind me until the finish line was in sight (much like our bricks and prior 5k).

For me, I had a series of hard cycling intervals the night before.  I really didn't know how my body would respond so there was no pressure.  Also, I had originally planned on doing a 67mi cycling event but scrapped that plan because Connor's 2nd t-ball game was at 11:30am, so I decided to join the family for the run but had no real goal in mind.  Heck, I even rode my bike to the event with my running shoes in my Rudy Project backpack.

When I arrived at the start line I chained the bike up to a tree, changed my shoes, and looked around for Angelia, Julian, and my mother-in-law.  They had pulled out of the driveway at the same time as me but were nowhere to be found.  Did I beat them on my bike?  It's possible but unlikely.  After meandering around for a bit I realized I had forgotten my race bib.  Oops!  A quick call to Angelia confirmed that they had forgotten as well.  I caught her as she was about to leave the house again!  Well, that explains why I couldn't find them.  Eventually we got our act together and it was time for The Green Door 5k to begin!

Julian and I lined up a bit closer to the front and I reminded him he was NOT to run behind me.  An older gentleman asked if he had done one of these before.  I told the man that he had and that he would do it in about 25 minutes.  His response?  "Well then I guess I'll be about 5 minutes behind you."  I laughed and said, "Yeah, me too."

When the horn sounded it was a bit of a jumbled mess as there was a narrow starting chute and a small bridge to cross, but we still took off like a rocket.  I immediately knew I had taken off too fast but figured "whatever, let's see how long we can sustain this."  You see, I didn't really care if I blew up and was toast halfway through --- there was no real goal I would be disappointed by missing.  Instead, I thought the longer I could sustain this pace the more Julian would push himself and we'd finally see what he's really made of.  It definitely tested him as he was behind me the entire first mile.

Mile 1 - 7:20 - AvgHR 173(96%max)
Yikes! Did I mention I usually average 9min/mi on a 5k?

I managed to hold on for another half mile before Julian finally got by me.  He was running as steady as ever and I was slowing drastically.  By the end of the second mile I was at more of a jog than a run.

Mile 2 - 8:56 - AvgHR 180(100%max!!!)

As one would expect after averaging their max heartrate the previous mile, I was basically done.  That's alright, I knew that was likely when I kept pushing early.  After another 4/10ths of a mile I finally stopped and walked for 30 seconds.  I have never walked during any training run or race, but I wasn't throwing in the towel.  I thought if I could just catch my breath and force my heart back into my chest I might be able to cross the finish line respectably.  Also, I knew I would be crossing paths with my wife soon and I didn't want to be walking!  That 30 seconds only dropped my HR by 11bpm but it was worth it.  I took off again at about an 8min/mi pace and even managed to "sprint" finish at a 6:10 pace.

Mile 3 - 8:47 - AvgHR 177(98%max)

Official time - 25:24, a new PR by nearly 3 minutes!

Julian managed a strong finish,
clearly sprinting in the photos,
and came in at 24:17!
He crushed his old PR too!
As usual, not touching the ground.Wincing in pain as a foot actually
comes in contact with Mother Earth.

No feet on the ground!
We grabbed some refreshments and watched others cross the line (remember, some people from his school were running).  Everyone was really coming in strong, enjoying the downhill finish.  As little as 5 minutes later, members of the C25K group were finishing their races.  One by one they came across.  Soon, Angelia came around the corner in a full sprint with the new runner she was pacing just behind (and well ahead of their target).  Now, Angelia has made some real gains in speed the last few months but hasn't raced a 5k for herself since the Superman 5k.  We'll see what she's got this weekend at the Lion's Dash 5k but for the time being, this technically ended up as a PR for her too!  Yep, you heard me, PR's for all 3 of us.

You may recall from the beginning of this recap that the only reason I did this event was because of a t-ball game.  Well, that meant there wasn't much time to hang around.  I changed my shoes, grabbed my helmet, and it was homeward bound on my bike.  Ideally after a 25 minute effort at 98% max HR you wouldn't ride up a 5% grade into a headwind but that's what happened.  The headwind all the way home meant I was at threshhold when I was just trying to take it easy.  By the time I got home it was literally jump in the shower, put on my baseball jersey, and head to the game (Angelia had picked up Connor from my Dad's house).

Check out those eyes still on the tee!Full stride into 1st base.

All in all, it was a very successful day.  We all learned a little something about our capabilities and I'm feeling confident my target event (the Fast&Furious Duathlon this Sunday) will go well .... even if I did have to pay for it the next day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Long Ride Fail

Well, it's clear I'm not this guy (hint: click on his image).  When he says, "shut up legs," his body listens.  When I say it my legs respond with a "screw you brain!"  Well, that's what happened today anyway.  After some hard cycling intervals Friday and a max effort at a 5k yesterday my body just had nothing left.  I've spent a lot of time at my max heartrate lately --- heck, my average HR at the 5k was only 3bpm below my max!

Still, I was supposed to get in about 3-1/2 hours in the saddle today.  I thought a 52 mile route similar to the one I did last Saturday would fit the bill nicely.  Then I got on the bike ....... Before I even got out of the neighborhood I knew I was in trouble.  The slightest little incline felt like a wall to climb but I gritted my teeth and hoped things would loosen up after awhile.  I should also mention the massive temperature drop we had overnight.  Instead of adding to my tan lines with more 80 degree days, I was pulling out all my winter gear again for temps in the 40's with a cold northern wind.  This ride never had "fun" written on it but that was beside the point.  My legs were a day ahead of me in the schedule.  In other words, they were ready to taper for the duathlon.

After several miles I came to realize this was as good as it was going to get.  I decided to ride to a gas station about 18 miles out and turn around there.  The portion of the route beyond that point gets hillier and has a tendency to include dogs at each crest.  My legs weren't interested in steep climbs or racing dogs, let alone both at the same time.  Also, I knew I would have a slight tailwind for the return route if I could just gut it out that far.

In the end, that's exactly what I did.  Took a brief pit-stop, turned around, averaged 3mph quicker with the tailwind, and ended up back home after 37 miles in 2:20ish.  Well short of the goal but more than I used to ride when I'd feel this way so I don't think it's a total loss.  Now ...... tomorrow's rest day?  That will get an all-out effort from me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

5k PR's for Everyone

The full recap will come in a couple days once I have some pictures, but today was a very fast day for the Tri4Success clan.  Julian and I raced the Green Door 5k while Angelia was pacing a member of the Rockwall Running Center Couch to 5k class she's been helping with (this was their graduation race).  The details will be in the recap but Julian smashed his PR by 2:23 with a 24:17!!!  I smashed my PR by 2:57 with a 25:24!!!  And as a bonus, Angelia even managed a race PR while pacing a new runner to a fabulous first effort!

In other news, I did a series of tough "all out" intervals on the bike yesterday, rode to and from the 5k today, and have a 50+ miler planned for tomorrow when the temps are supposed to inexplicably drop into the 40's after getting sunburned in the 80's the last few days.  Oy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Another Brick in the Log

Monday had another brick interval session on the slate and since I'm not the only family member with a duathlon looming in less than 2 weeks, Julian joined me.  Now, he can't keep up on the bike so while I would be hitting threshold out on the bypass he would be doing loops around the block.  For the runs, we ran together.  That is to say, he held himself back at my pace until we were in sight of the house and then left me in the dust (both times).  My wife snapped photos every chance she had --- almost 300 of them.

I started out with a nice 20-minute warm-up then hit 10 minutes at threshold.  It had been a full week since my last rest day and I felt surprisingly better than I anticipated, especially with the seasonal winds that just refuse to let up.  Julian, as planned, got comfortable on his new bike with 30 minutes around the block.

The plan for the run was race pace for 15 minutes.  In this instance that turned out to be 8:29min/mi - for me anyway.  Julian was on my heels for all but the last minute when he pulled ahead so effortlessly that my wife couldn't manage to fit both of us in the frame.  Oh well, it was a slight improvement on the 8:43 pace I had last time.

Transitioning in the garage again I head back out on the bike for 15 minutes at threshold.  I really like to make this segment count between the 2 runs and the 8bpm higher average heartrate compared to the first bike segment indicated that I did indeed push it a bit more.  I didn't overdo it as that would defeat the purpose and design of the workout.  I just stayed in the upper end of the target zone.

Check out the intense face.
Notice how I'm in front early on.
The last time I did this workout the 2nd run was absolutely brutal as my pace dropped to 9:28min/mi and I was fighting mentally the entire time.  I think that run was a big part of why I was less than enthusiastic about doing another brick workout.  This time was much better.  The pace still dropped off but to a more reasonable 8:51min/mi and I felt better overall.  My heart pounding from the end of the bike leg was very noticeable for the first half-mile but I settled in a bit after that.  Once again Julian left me in the dust at the end.

Leaving me in the dust.What happened to Dad?
The real secret:
Never let your feet touch the ground.
Apparently Connor has learned
the "no touch" secret to fast running.

Just two dudes chillin' on Felt road bikes.
Ah, my favorite part --- the cool-down.  Since there's no heartrate target for a cool-down I had Julian join me.  Besides, I hadn't had a chance to really observe him on the road bike.  This gave me an opportunity to see how he handles a headwind, riding position, new gear shifters, and much more.  The cool-down ended up being right at 4 miles and he did really well.

Overall, the workout was about an hour and 40 minutes long with 17+ miles of cycling and 3.3mi of running.  I have no doubt Julian and I can handle the duathlon that's coming.  It's more a question of what pace we can sustain.  My running needs work and he's not fully adjusted to the new bike.  It'll be interesting as he'll beat me on the 1st run leg (and probably transition as he won't be changing shoes), I'll no doubt pass him on the bike, then he'll make up some time in transition again and have me in his sight on the final run leg.  I'll be a giant carrot out there with Julian the rabbit quickly gaining on me.  All I can do is train to do my best.  All in all, it's just another brick in the log.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Week in Review

I just realized its been a week since posting any kind of update regarding my training as the last 2 posts have been a collection of photos of my 2 boys, Julian and Connor.  So without further delay .....

Monday - Rest Day!!!
This was badly needed after my long ride and brick intervals.

Tuesday - Running intervals with plyometric exercises
53 minutes at the gym, 35 minutes of that was on the treadmill for a total of 3.64mi.

Wednesday - Single Leg Trainer
65 minutes, not about distance but registered as 14.32mi.  This was a good workout.  Power numbers were up across the board and I managed a full 2 minutes on my right leg at one point.  Big win!

Thursday - Light Jog
30:01 for 3.04mi.  A poorly calibrated treadmill led to this being faster than planned.  Thought I was just feeling off when I backed off the pace a couple minutes in.  The data ended up showing that I was still quicker than the pace I had targeted.

Friday - Recovery Spin
Had 90 minutes on the calendar but only got in 52:11 for 13.75mi.  All I'll say is everyone's OK but there's now a rental car in the driveway.  Ugh.

Saturday - Long Ride
Around 3:50 on the road.  3:18 moving time for 51.08mi.  The rest of the time was tending to a fellow rider's flat tire and a pit stop around the 32mi mark.  Great ride on a new route for me and the 2 souls who were kind enough to join me.  I served as navigator which meant my Garmin stayed on the turn-by-turn directions and I ignored the usual stats for the vast majority of the ride.  Almost like being a kid again turning onto unknown country roads and just riding for the sake of it.  Well, except now I'm faster and it hurts more.  Similar to last weekend, the first half was a nice tailwind and the return trip was a bit of a sufferfest.  I handled it much better this time and didn't feel like a weak link in the paceline for once.

Sunday - Recovery Spin
1:25:38 for 17.44mi.  A nice, relaxed ride with Angelia -- as relaxed as it can be when in constant headwinds and crosswinds.  Very rarely got the benefit of a tailwind on our route.  Goal was simply spinning while maintaining a low heartrate - Mission Accomplished.

This week:
Bike - 6:41:45 for 96.6mi
Run - 1:05:06 for 6.86mi
Other - 17:44

Last week:
Bike - 7:13:11 for 107.64mi
Run - 59:17 for 6.12mi
Other - none

Friday, March 18, 2011

One Pictorial Deserves Another

No, my 4yr old didn't do a brick today (though he's done one before).  He did however have a t-ball practice.  As a bonus my mom is in town and was able to snap a few photos for me (thanks Mom!).  For those that don't know Connor, this boy has been waiting for baseball for 3 years.  That is no joke - you should see the videos I have as far back as May 2008.  Here's a shot of the little man back then .....

He spent a lot of time practicing alongside his older brother.
Check out that throwing form.
And helped out the Moms side in Julian's end of season Mother-Son Game.

Including some moments of glory.
3yrs old here.

Now he gets to play catch and run bases for real.

Sure, he gets help from Daddy (Coach) sometimes ......

But the determination is all his.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Pictorial Brick

This afternoon Julian did a quick brick workout as the Fast & Furious Duathlon is only 2-1/2 weeks away.  It ended up being about a 3/4mi run, 5mi bike, and 3/4mi run --- about half the 2mi/11mi/2mi event that is coming.  As he's still perfecting his post-athletic endeavor interview skills (every answer is, "Good."), I'll just share some photos.  Enjoy!

No pics from the first run but here he is about midway through the bike ride.
Coming up on the end of 5 miles, rounding the corner with nice form and a race-like focus.

Towards the end of the second run leg.  Looking a bit fatigued here.  We're working on eliminating that sideways arm movement.  Oh, and check out his new Nike Free running shoes!

Yep, he's pooped.
Time to rehydrate.

If you think he's looking tough now, wait till he gets comfortable on his new ride ---

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Real Training Weekend

The kids are out for Spring Break so I guess I couldn't put it off any longer --- time to put some real miles in.  Saturday called for 3-1/2 hours in the saddle and I happened to be invited to join a new group of riders on a 56 mile training route for BikeMS.  I figured that should fit the bill perfectly.  So even though it was a 45 minute drive each way, I opted to take on some different terrain than my usual haunts and join them.  Sunday called for my first brick interval workout.  That should be interesting!

Wind was straight out of the south.
I got up, had some oatmeal and egg whites, and hit the road.  I ended up being the first to arrive at the meeting spot and after awhile began to wonder if anyone else would show.  I guess I was expecting a larger group but as the time to ride approached there were only 4 of us.  Then as we were clipping in another 6 riders arrived.  Sweet, now we have an actual group. I should mention this was yet another day of steady 15mph winds with gusts around 25mph.  Several riders were getting dropped regularly early on which meant the group would be even more fractured when we hit the crosswinds and headwinds.  So just as quickly as the group numbers had increased, 3 of us pulled ahead on our own.

The route was fast for the first 20 miles heading north as it was all concrete with a tailwind.  Man, that felt good after the previous day's "recovery" ride.  Then we turned east.  Suddenly we're leaning into the wind on chipseal - a double whammy.  After a quick nature break at a convenience store (where we lingered just in case any others from the group were near) we got back on the road.  It was clear it was going to be just the 3 of us the rest of the way so we picked up the pace a hair.  Not too much, but right around threshhold.  Before long we turned south and it was going to be headwinds for 20 miles.  The nice thing about these long rides on unknown roads is you have no choice.  You have to hang with the ride leader and you have to finish the route.  I was the weaker of the riders in this case but I never lost contact by too much and the majority of the time we were able to share the load - so very important in a headwind.

After 3 hours 40 minutes and 57 miles we pulled back into the parking lot.  This was by far my longest ride so far this year.  In fact it was my longest since the Livestrong Challenge back in October.  It would've been tough to get it done on my own mentally with all the wind so I was thankful for new scenery and some new riding buddies, even if it was for just one day.  With that, I loaded up and headed home.

Zoot Men's Endurance Tri Race Suit, Shadow Pure/Yellow, Medium
Not me but my Zoot suit.
First brick workout = first time in my tri suit.  I have to admit, I was concerned with how that minimal pad was going to feel the day after my longest ride of the year.  I also had some challenges regarding how to record my workout data.   I decided to capture all the bike intervals as laps in a single file on my Garmin Edge500 and to do the same for the runs on my Garmin FR60.  Even though the data wouldn't be contiguous I figured it would be easy to sort out in the end.

I took off on the bike for a warmup and was surprised that while my sit bones were predictably sore, the minimal chamois in my Zoot Tri Suit was more than adequate.  In fact, I was as comfortable as I could've hoped to be.  After warming up I hit a threshhold interval which was challenging in a way I didn't expect.  I actually had trouble getting my heartrate up to LT, and I never have trouble elevating my HR.  It's usually the HR recovery part I have a problem with.  As I'm typing this I've received an email from my coach saying this is common the day after a hard ride.  Guess I won't sweat it.  1st bike leg: 7.73mi.

Now it was time for the first run interval.  I did the typical brick newbie thing and took off way too fast.  Of course, I was aware of this tendency so I got control of my pace quickly.  I actually felt fine the first mile but the legs got heavy .... fast.  My pace was decreasing very steadily and I was not enjoying the run at all.  1st run leg: 1.78mi @ 8:43min/mi.

Back on the bike and all is well.  HR still not in its normal range and speed is a bit lower but I feel better.  2nd bike leg: 4.8mi.

The second run was even more brutal than the first.  Nothing pretty about it - not my form, and definitely not the thoughts in my head.  Still, I didn't get to this point in the weekend to throw in the towel now.  I had to put on a raceday mentality to finish it off.  2nd run leg: 1.44mi @ 9:28min/mi.

Ah, back on the bike for a cooldown.  Nothing to complain about here - back in my element.  Final bike leg: 3.16mi.

Total Brick: 15.69mi bike and 3.22mi run

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recovery Is Hard Work

Anyone who's ever followed a training plan has been there.  The calendar has active recovery on it and like many others, I have to make a conscious effort to not push too hard and take it easy.  I get ready for 90 minutes of easy spinning on the bike and then ...... the world happens.  Perhaps it's Mother Nature throwing elements at you like rain or wind.  Perhaps it's other people, cars, or animals on your route.  Perhaps it's your own foolishness exploring and finding rougher pavement or a hill you didn't know existed.  Either way, it's gonna be hard work staying relaxed.

The way the wind felt.
I just had one of these rides.  Part of it I knew to expect - after all, it's been windy out every day this week.  Still, whether you expect it or not, any ride in steady 15mph winds with 30mph gusts is going to require a little work.  Frequently I found myself riding on a lean fighting the crosswinds.  I even managed to keep my heartrate down and stay fairly relaxed on a couple mile stretch directly into the wind.  Well, that is until I got to the end of the street.

You see, on a recovery ride I don't ride anywhere new.  Familiar streets and surroundings usually means I can relax more.  On these streets I'm very aware of where all the dogs are and which ones give chase.  On this street I had already passed the only potential problem spot.  There's a dog kennel at the end that sometimes has a dog laying out front but she never even bothers to get up when I pass.  Today for some reason there were 4 dogs out front and they all wanted to chase me.  Add in the fact that I had been fighting a headwind for a couple miles and therefore was not moving at a great rate of speed plus the fact the kennel is on the corner by a stop sign and I was in a precarious spot.  Luckily, the dogs seemed content to chase and not attack and the traffic was clear so I was able to get out of there.  Lost in that was my nice, calm recovery heartrate.  So now I've got to let myself calm back down while still clenching the handlebars fighting a gusty crosswind.  There was relief ahead though - I'd soon be turning left and have the wind at my back for a short bit.

With my heartrate recovered thanks to the brief tailwind, I turned left onto one of my favorite farm roads to bike down.  It's fairly flat, scenic and only one house that ever has dogs loose.  The dogs at that house tend not to chase except for the collie.  Only problem is if the collie chases then the rest will follow.  Everything keys on that one dog.  Before getting there I pass a house that has 3 monstrous dogs, all of which reside behind nothing more than a low to the ground electric fence wire.  It can be a scary site sometimes as these 3 beasts run quickly towards you but they never cross the fence even though they wouldn't even have to jump to get over it.  Today something was different ..... one of the beasts was outside the fence.  By the time I noticed one was on the wrong side I had no choice but to ride by.  He didn't do anything until I passed him and then the chase was on.  As he waited so long to make a move I thought I would probably be fine just continuing my pace and that he'd give up quickly.  I was wrong.  No need to look back - that monster was gaining on me!  Darn it, gonna have to push it again.  He finely backs off as I round the corner to the house I mentioned earlier ..... and there's the collie watching me approach.

In the end my 90 minutes of "recovery" riding consisted of lots of 30mph wind gusts, 15+mph headwinds, and 3 separate chases by a total of 8 dogs (all large).  I managed to end my ride with an average heartrate of 143bpm (79% max) so I did a good job managing the excitement, but it was hard work trying to avoid working too hard.  So what elements challenge you on your recovery days?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Trinity River Levee Run - Bling!

Oh my, where to start?  The first 10k for Angelia?  The first 5k for myself?  Bling for 2?  Nope, the story of the Trinity River Levee Run put on by Dallas Running Club starts with the weather.  Old man winter had moved along and we had started to acclimate to nice 70 degree days, but apparently he felt an additional challenge was needed.  Temps plummeted and winds accelerated overnight leaving us with race-time conditions of 43 degrees with 20+ mph winds.  Ugh.  This provided an extra challenge for me as I only recently started running and had only run indoors or in nice weather .... and in just shorts and a tech shirt.  Suddenly I was pulling out the tights and a base layer I used during winter cycling and hoping I could run comfortably in them.  Being cold was not an option and if I ended up too warm I figured I could gut it out for the relatively short duration of a 5k.  Angelia had done plenty of cold runs so she had a grasp on how to handle it herself but like me she has a distinct hatred for the wind.  This was going to be interesting.

There was no wave start at this event - 10k'ers and 5k'ers lined up together.  Even though we both tried to convince Speedy (aka Julian) that he and I should start nearer the front, he was dead set on starting next to his mom.  Naturally, as he'll learn, this created a very awkward start for us as we had to do a lot of horizontal weaving around other runners.  Actually I had lost Julian for a bit and found out later that another runner had stepped on his shoe popping it right off his foot.  Apparently he ran alongside Angelia with shoe in hand before getting it back on and catching up to me.  The first third of a mile was basically a traffic jam running uphill before we spread out and found our groove.  As we ran down Levee Road the wind was at our backs which was nice, but this was an out and back course for the 5k so we all knew what was coming.  I kept telling Julian he could run his pace, that his Grandma and brother were at the finish line, but he seemed content to stick by my side.  I was fine with that for the moment but I saw some kids ahead and didn't want Julian to miss out on awards because he was pacing Daddy so I reminded him from time to time.

These babies will need some lace-locks before the duathlon.
As we approached the turnaround the race was going pretty well, my pace was decent but left some room for me to push harder on the back half.  Except the wind meant that pushing harder didn't exactly equate to going faster.  I essentially maintained my pace after the turnaround but my heartrate elevated a fair amount.  Around this time my shoe came untied.  I ignored it at first because I spotted Angelia running the opposite direction.  She seemed to be running well, waved, and announced to Julian that were 2 kids ahead of him.  Once again I told him he was free to go catch them but he hung back with me.  At least he kept going while I stopped to tie my shoe.  Oops! That was 15 seconds lost.  I had thought to rip one glove off while running before stopping to tend to my laces but I really should have taken off both.  The simplest tasks are slowed by the wearing of gloves.

A half-mile to go, pace is holding steady, heartrate in the 170s, and we can see one of the other kids ahead.  Julian still refuses to attack.  Suddenly, we see the other kid come into view and they are side by side.  This time I make it very clear - "Julian, see that turn there?  That's the last turn, then it's over the bridge and down to the finish line.  If you have anything left go get them now."  And with that he starts to pull away from me.  Not in a hurried sprint but in a very controlled fashion.  As he makes the final turn he is gaining but still clearly in 3rd.  Then up the hill he makes the pass.  For a brief moment all three boys are running abreast.  Julian crests the hill ahead of them and they can't match it.  In the span of a quarter-mile he goes from third place to a win by 33 seconds!  After running with me for about 2.7 miles he still ended up beating me by 47 seconds.  Show off!
Julian had just passed the kid behind him before the crest of the hill.  Look at that gap now!

At this point I had no idea about our times as I forgot to stop my watch and neglected to look at the finish line clock.  Oh well, we hydrated, I had a breakfast taco and a banana, and we went back to the car to warm up.  Smartly, we had packed some warm-up suits so we were able to add on a layer before checking on the awards ceremony and watching for Angelia's 10k finish.  There was a lot of excitement around the finish as the local police and fire departments were having a battle for bragging rights (the firefighters took home the prize).  Then a case of unfortunate timing --- the 5k awards were being presented and I expected Angelia at any moment.  I spot her coming over the hill as they are announcing the Girls 14&Under awards.  No doubt Boys 14&Under would be next but I wasn't going to let Angelia finish her first 10k with none of us there to greet her.  I jogged over to the finish just in time to see her cross the line.  She looks down at her watch and is a combination of exhausted and excited - a feeling many endurance athletes can relate to.  She took 6 minutes off her time - a full minute per mile!  I congratulate her and in the same breath tell her to hurry and follow me.

As we make our way back to the stage the announcement is made for Boys 14&Under with Julian taking the expected 1st place honors.  Official time was 27:34, good for 26th overall out of 169 5k'ers.

So there we were - Angelia smashed her 10k time, Julian took home some bling, and I had completed a 5k in respectable fashion.  No expectations of bling for me as Men's 35-39 is a tough group.  Still, we hung around for a second because I was curious about the times.  First place was announced with a time of 22 minutes flat.  Not quite as fast as I expected but it still crushes me.  2nd place was then announced with a time of 28:21.  Wait a minute ..... that's in my range ..... that is me!  Wow, how did I end up with bling?  Well with 528 finishers in the 10k and only 169 in the 5k I'm guessing the majority of the serious runners were doing the 10k.  Fine by me.  I'm not delusional, I know my opportunities for bling will be rare.  With that we walked back to the car, off to get a real meal, all happy with our races.

Post-race stat review: 28:21 wasn't quite what I was shooting for (was looking for sub-27), but considering the intense wind I was pleased with that result.  Now, I am fully aware that a 5k race never ends up being exactly 5k because of things like navigating the crowd at the beginning, being unable to take perfect lines through corners, etc. but that also means that 28:21 is a bit nebulous.  There's no real basis for comparison.  Thankfully my stat-hungry engineering mind has SportTracks to turn to, and more specifically - the Record Book plug-in.  Here's what I saw:

Columns are Speed, Pace, AvgHR, Start Time, Distance, Time
Yep, over an actual 5k distance I had crushed my previous best and even succeeded in meeting my sub-27 goal (and that still includes my 15-second shoe tying stop).  You'll notice 2nd and 3rd on this list are classified as jogs.  This was the first time I sustained a higher effort running for any longer than 5 minutes (heck, including this race I've run a grand total of 35 miles).  I really had no idea what my "race pace" would be.  In the end I think I got it just about right.  Heartrate was at 172 (95% max), cadence was steady at 86.4rpm, and pace was slightly higher in the last 1.5 miles - even with the headwind.

I'm curious to see what I could do with a stronger start and more cooperative weather, but that will have to remain a mystery.  My sights are now set on the Beauty and the Beast ride on March 26th and the Fast & Furious Duathlon on April 3rd.  Angelia and Julian will be running the Green Door 5k while I'm riding up the Beast and we're all doing the duathlon.  Should be a fun month!