Friday, May 27, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

No longer feeling neglected.
After the whole scare with Angelia's legs at the start of this month, her activity level seriously dropped off (for good reason).  A bout with bronchitis after that sure didn't help.  She still managed to do the swim leg of our family relay at the Classic Rock Sprint Triathlon which was great, but running and biking put more stress on the leg.  Her first attempt to run was a real struggle and she clearly needed more time to get well.  By this point, the fact that one leg was still sluggish was getting worrisome.  There was a new bike in the garage with some custom wheels added on Mother's Day that still hadn't been out for a ride.  Nearly 3 weeks later, after the Buffalo Creek Kids Tri, she ventured out on the inaugural ride of the Specialized Ruby with Julian and Jessica.  The ride went well and there were no problems with the leg even when needing to power into the wind.  This was a good sign!  Four days later she got up for an early morning run, ran about 3mi, and even though the pace was slower she was grinning from ear to ear.  Yep ....... she's back in the saddle again!

Selle Italia Flite Gel Flow, yellow
Out with the old ....
.... and in with the new.
When I got my road bike about a year-and-a-half ago one of the first things I knew needed changing was the saddle.  I tried a bunch of saddles and eventually settled on the Selle Italia Flite Gel Flow.  That was not a cheap saddle by any stretch but it just felt right so I went with it.  Recently, I've become more and more aware that it just isn't as comfortable as it used to be.  I don't think it's the saddle though - I think it's me.  I spend a lot more time riding in more aggressive positions than I did when I first started.  Throw in the physiology changes from weight loss and general fitness and I just require something different from my saddle now.  So it's back to testing out saddles but I'm hoping this will be simpler this time around.  I'm starting with the Specialized Romin which is a saddle I almost got originally.  I made a mental note at the time that when I was in the market again I would give it another try.  I installed it the other night but it didn't get a full test as I had high cadence trainer intervals on the agenda.  The next day has some tough intervals on the road and then there's the race-pace group ride on Saturday.  If I still like it then, I'll stick with it.  Even in the short workout last night I could tell the difference in some areas.  It's definitely a harder saddle than the Flite but I was feeling it primarily on the sit bones which is what you want.  There was more relief for the perineal artery (my primary pain point) and the less bulky nose of the saddle was an appreciated feature too.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Trying but not Tri'ing

The whole family has been working on their swimming lately.  Angelia has been doing well and is on target for her first triathlon in June.  It's one of those rookie tri's that will serve as a warm-up event for her sprint in August. I was planning on joining her for the tri next month but my swimming has a little massive ways to go.  For years my primary exposure to water has been via scuba diving.  In that time, my surface swimming ability has completely disappeared.  Body position is wrong, breathing is labored (where's my air tank?), and I'm just working too hard in general.  While I've made some solid progress the last few weeks it became clear that the tri would be a big struggle.  That was not the intention when I put it on the calendar.  It was just supposed to be an easy event to get my feet wet.  With that in mind I have decided not to do it.

How Julian pictures open water,
even if it's just a pond.
Meanwhile, Julian has been making great strides in swimming but there are still a number of demons to conquer which means no IronKids this year.  A 150yd open water swim seems doable for him but he's had rough 50m swims at 2 warm-up events, has issues with his face in cooler water, and has a lot of anxiety about what lives in the open water.  Just a few too many areas to address in such a short time for an event that would require overnight travel.

I don't want to neglect the little man here either.  Connor switched swim instructors and in the last couple weeks has started to show signs of the super swimmer he was last summer.  I think he's gonna really surprise some people by the time he does the Monster Kids Tri in October.  He'll be a completely different beast by then swimming the pool length with ease and probably no training wheels on the bike.

So with no triathlons for me, what's next?  Well, Julian and I are going to make this the year of the duathlon.  We've got 4 on the calendar.  Throw in some cycling events and as many as 5 kids tri's for Julian and we'll be plenty busy.  Next up though is some running at the American Heroes Race on Memorial Day.  It'll be a 10k for Angelia and 5k for Julian and I.  Have a safe and active holiday weekend everybody!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Buffalo Creek Kids Triathlon

So, I haven't done much any blogging this past week, but there's plenty of time to get to the details of another "race-pace" group ride failure on my part.  Besides, all the cool kids were at Ironman Texas - a BIG TEXAS SIZED CONGRATS to Shannon and Jeff (and props to Jason for volunteering)!

The Tri4Success family did have it's own event this weekend and that was the Buffalo Creek Kids Triathlon.  This was the event that started it all in September of 2009.
September 2009May 2011
The weather was overcast and Julian was prepared for this race - right down to the carb loading.
Complete with Ritchey cycling cap, Timex Ironkids watch, and Hooty's Kids Tri t-shirt.
The Swim - 50m
Like 2 weeks ago at the Hooty's Kids Tri, the swim was a struggle.  He probably covers a minimum of 600m in his lessons but for some reason 50m in a race is a different story.  The form completely disappeared and his head was fully above the water for the majority of the distance.  This time he said he was bothered by the tri top and felt like he couldn't breathe.  I think it was more likely the temperature of the water which was reportedly very cold.  Either way it mentally unraveled him and he was very aware he was not at his best.
(Unofficial) Swim time: 1:50

T1 - swim to bike
The swim carried over into transition which wasn't terrible but lacked his usual urgency.  As a parent you learn to pick up on the little things that indicate how things are going.  When he ran towards the mount line with both hands on the bike instead of the usual single relaxed hand on the saddle, I knew right then that the confidence and aggression he came into the event with was vanishing.
(Unofficial) T1 time: 1:28

Bike - 3mi
The bike course is unique as the first half is on a path, which of course offers less passing room as well as some tighter turns.  Gear selection and short accelerations are important here.  Julian's ridden it before but not in a long time and never on his road bike.  The second half is on concrete streets through a neighborhood with what can be classified as hills for the smaller folk this event caters to.  All things considered I expected to see Julian back in transition in about 12-1/2 minutes.  He came around the corner a bit later than expected and rode a bit casually coming into transition but word is he was making a lot of passes out on the course.  Talking to him later he felt like he had a strong ride but admitted he wasn't completely on top of his game (hence no pro-style dismount this time).
(Unofficial) Bike time: 13:44

T2 - bike to run
I was running with the camera and Connor during this and got there in time to see him go out on the run but missed the actual transition.  Angelia said he was very careful laying his bike down (no racks) but otherwise had a good T2.  It seemed that with each phase of the triathlon he was getting more and more into his groove.
(Unofficial) T2 time: Who knows?  I forgot to hit the lap button!

Run - 0.5mi
As Julian headed out on his run, we all chatted a bit about how it was going so far.  This is probably a good time to mention that he had quite a group of fan support.  There was my riding buddy Keith, his wife Barbara, Julian's teacher (Coach Johnson), my dad (Paw-Paw), and the Amusing Athena (Jessica).  Thanks to all for coming out to support him!  Before I could even really get into a conversation .... there he was!  He was already flying down the finishing stretch clearly on form and feeling good.  He completed the triathlon and got his medal while acknowledging the many Rockwall Cycling and team Tri-ProSoap guys that recognized him.
(Unofficial) Run time: No idea due to the earlier missed lap button.  However T2 plus the run was 4:39 so the run was likely less than 4 minutes meaning a sub-8min/mi pace.

(Unofficial) TOTAL TIME: 21:41

Julian summed this race up best by saying "the swim was rough but the rest was smooth - definitely better than Hooty's".  All in all it was a successful event that was well run and supported.  I know Julian appreciated all the fan support.  The back-to-back swim struggles in races does leave some things to be resolved before determining what's next for our junior triathlete (IronKids or not?).  Rest assured, there is a plan and Julian is eager to take on the challenge.  Look for details in a future post.  In the meantime, congrats to him on completing his 3rd triathlon (and 4th multi-sport event)!

Julian's favorite Athena, Jessica, joined us afterwards for some awesome breakfast at a local favorite - Chiloso's.  After the food had some time to settle, she went on a 14mi bike ride with Julian and Angelia (first ride on the new bike!).  I was glad to see Angelia get out on her new wheels and I know it was a highlight of Julian's day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Classic Rock Triathlon - Family Relay

So, it finally happened.  The family TRIed together.  Did we win together?  I say yes, even if the chip timing says we came in 6th (sorry, no bling this time).  Here's how it all went down .....

The Event
The Classic Rock Sprint Triathlon is the first of 3 annual triathlons in our hometown of Rockwall.  The course is familiar with the swim at the fabulous Rockwall Aquatic Center and the bike route along a road I ride multiple times a week.  It's one of the few stretches of concrete in Rockwall and is fast but with a few 5% grades that can sneak up on those unfamiliar with it.  The run route was new to Julian but his Aunt Lesley took him out on it a couple days prior.  All in all, we were primed and ready for this event.

This is as easy-going as heading out the door to a triathlon can be.  The relay removes a lot of the challenges in transition.  Our clothing could be sport-specific which was a bonus for me.  While others were coming out of the pool into temps in the low 50s, I was ready to go in cycling gear with a base layer on!  Most of pre-race was about saying hello to everyone we knew.  The thing about a local race is friendly faces are everywhere.  Just to clarify, by local I mean that transition is a whopping 3mi from our house.  We did have a non-Rockwall friend participate as well.  Jessica, a fellow Cheesy Rider, came down to compete and unwittingly be the carrot for Team Tri4Success to chase.  She would get about a 6 minute head start in the pool but we knew if I could close the gap enough on the bike that Julian would be driven by the desire to pass her before the finish.  It was an extra little incentive on top of everything else.

The Swim
Angelia in the top lane.
The swim would be 300m in an olympic pool and would normally be no problem whatsoever for Angelia.  Of course, if you've been following this blog then you know there was a recent health scare.  While she's up and walking around, one leg is still a bit sluggish.  On top of that, she got bronchitis a few days earlier.  That ended up having the largest impact on her swim as she had to pause midway to catch her breath as well as include some backstroke.  There was an error with the timing chip so no idea what the official split was, but it was no more than a minute off of her original target - a valiant effort indeed!  She did a great job (read "better than I can do when completely healthy") and got us off to a solid start (read "within the gameplan for catching Jessica").

GU Sports Energy Gel - Box of 6 (Jet Blackberry)
Jet fuel for athletes.
The Bike
Truth be told, I had my sights set high on the bike.  Anything less than my best ever bike split was going to be a disappointment.  The results of my training have really been showing lately (thanks Joey!) and on a familiar course there were no excuses to be had.  I primed myself for a high-intensity effort with a Blackberry Jet GU 45 minutes before my projected bike start time and another 15 minutes before.  Angelia came running out of the natatorium, moved the chip to my ankle, and I was off.  I arrived to the mount line right behind cycling buddy Keith (on his new Cervelo P2!), clipped in, and began ramping up the speed.  There were a lot of overly cautious riders through that first stretch and Keith and I were zipping right by them.  Before long we were on familiar roads and I wished him luck as I passed.  Apparently the difference between a road bike and tri bike is equivalent to the difference between fresh legs and post-swim legs as we were within sight of each other for the duration.

Once on the concrete bypass, I settled in.  I was pushing it while maintaining heartrate and cadence in the right zones.  Usually at this point a number of tri bikes will occasionally pass but that wasn't happening today.  There were no riders coming by on my left with one exception - Keith, who passed me twice for two brief stretches.  Later, Keith said that passing me got him thinking he was going too hard.  After all, he had to run a 5k after this and I had nothing to save myself for.  Other than our back-and-forth that played out over a 3mi stretch, I was passing riders constantly .... and some rather swiftly.  It felt great and I may have gotten a little too comfortable for a bit but I definitely got the laser focus back for the last few miles.  Official split was 36:40 for an avg. speed of 20.6mph, a personal best.  Apparently that speed was too fast for me to be spotted by my father, Connor, or the official photographer.  Along with forgetting to take a family photo pre or post race (blogger fail!) there is no photographic evidence I was at this event.

The Run
Only 1/4mi before the turnaround point on the bike I had spotted Jessica so I knew that the gap had been closed to where Julian could succeed in the one thing he set out to do this day ..... beat her to the finish.  He took off out of transition as a man on a mission.  This was a very good thing.  Julian is only at his best with an outside source of motivation and Jessica, whom he finds "amusing", fit the bill perfectly.  The plan worked and Julian delivered a 24:24 with an avg. pace of 8:00min/mi!  Overall official relay time: 1:10:22.  I could say more but I think the photos tell the tale better.

So many friends, so little time (or attention span apparently).  There was a lot of conversation to be had and everyone had a great event.  Somehow I completely missed Jessica and Keith crossing the line but witnessed many other familiar faces finishing (Lexi, Kelly, Tim, and more).  The atmosphere was very upbeat afterwards and I really don't remember hearing any competitors with a complaint.  It truly seems everyone enjoyed a great race.  That's good seeing as we plan on returning to this venue in August for Angelia's first sprint triathlon!

Oh, and about that Amusing Athena ....... she took 1st in her division by nearly 9 minutes!  Congrats Jessica!
She's touching me!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Bully, the Blogger, and Those That Tri

The Bully & the Blogger
Oh, Blogger, how you managed to screw this up.  As most everyone in the blogosphere is aware, Blogger was down for a full day.  In the process they rolled back to an earlier version of the site and had to restore any posts or comments made after a certain point.  Well, I had one of those posts so if you haven't seen it (and with only 2 views prior to the outage and 0 since the restore I'm guessing you haven't), then check it out here - The Bully Computer.  To make things more interesting, those that subscribe by email received an email featuring a post from early March!  Really?  That makes no sense in the context of the outage so no telling what other symptoms may arise.

Those That Tri
Tomorrow is the Classic Rock Rotary Sprint Triathlon, a local event for me with a lot of familiar faces participating.  You know that little tagline at the top of this blog?  The one that says "The family that tri's together, wins together!"?  Well, we're putting that to the test.  Angelia will take on the 300m swim, I will do the 20km bike, and Julian will finish it off with a 5k run!  A true family triathlon!  And yes, Connor is aware of his role as cheering spectator.  We're looking forward to the race and wish luck to all of the competitors, especially Keith, Jessica, and the many we know from Team Tri-ProSoap.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Bully Computer

Some days your heartrate just won't elevate no matter what you do.  This is quite common the day following a hard workout but there are a lot of potential triggers.  For whatever reason, Wednesday was one of those days. The workout called for 10-minute threshold intervals with 5-min recoveries.  This is one I've done many times and already have programmed in my Garmin Edge 500.  Sometimes I wish it wasn't.

I took off towards my chosen road for the intervals which is the perfect distance away for a short warm-up.  I could tell my legs were a little tighter than usual but nothing excessive.  I also knew that as soon as I made the turn and began the interval I'd be fighting an intense headwind the whole way.  I was prepared for this.

Garmin Edge 500 Cycling GPSI made the turn and hit the lap button on my Garmin to end the warm-up and begin the interval.  As is typical, the Garmin beeps at me because I'm below the target HR zone.  No problem, the heart always lags a bit behind the effort so in a few moments I'll be golden ..... except this time I couldn't get past threshold.  Here I was down in the drops pushing a big gear into a strong headwind, feeling the legs burning, and my Garmin dares to tell me I'm not working hard enough?  WTF?!?!?  I push harder still and occasionally manage to hit the elusive zone 4 but never for long.

I quickly recognize it's just one of those days where the heart won't elevate.  No problem, I'll crank out the effort and complete the workout as planned even if the numbers look off.  That works for a little while, but let's not forget ..... this is a workout ..... I am suffering ..... AND THAT DAMN COMPUTER KEEPS BEEPING AT ME!  Now I'm not just riding hard, but I'm busy cursing at a tiny electronic device that I paid good money to have.  Thankfully I'm on an empty country road because I doubt I'd appear sane to anyone who happened to hear me.  In the back forefront of my mind I'm envisioning grabbing the computer and tossing it angrily into the brush.  I can't though.  I know if I did I would just as quickly hop off my bike and be on my knees searching for it in the tall grass, telling it I'm sorry, begging it to let me find it ..... and that would be the moment a farmer walking his dog would pass by.  We cyclists have enough public image problems without me adding to it.  Oh well, time to HTFU, finish the workout, and get home.

So, what about you fellow endurance athletes?  Ever have the urge to destroy your computer/watch while working out?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Hooty's Kids Triathlon

Saturday was a big day.  It was the Hooty's Kids Triathlon which would mark Connor's first ever tri and serve as a warm-up event for Julian.  This is 1 of only 2 triathlons I've found that allow the under 6 crowd to participate and the other isn't till October.  This one was in Decatur, TX, a solid 90 minute drive, which meant the boys got the full triathlon experience complete with 5am wake-up.  They did really well though with nothing beyond standard 5am fussiness.

Then we arrived ....... and the one stumbling block I didn't plan for reared its ugly head.  You see, Connor doesn't like markings on his skin.  Stickers are OK but no temporary tattoos or writing and what's the first thing they do when you check in for a triathlon?  Yep, mark your bib number and race age.  The idea of that led to a lot of crying, some screaming, and Connor walking back to the car.  It wasn't until all of Julian's stuff had been unloaded and set up in transition that he finally calmed down enough to get marked so he could race.  In this photo, they're listening to the pre-race briefing with Tri4SuccessMom behind them and Shannon (IronTexasMommy - Good luck at IMTX!) next to her.  Shannon's daughter was the youngest competitor in a field of almost 40 kids and Connor was likely the 2nd youngest (there were four 4-yr olds).  Check out her race report here.

Connor was one of the first kids in the water.  Swimming has been a struggle for him this year as he grew quite a bit over the winter and is nowhere near as buoyant as he was.  When asked if he wanted his mom in the water to assist he declined --- prepared to take the 25yds on.  Once in the water it was much as we expected with him fighting just to stay afloat.  The fighting spirit shined through, he fought his absolute hardest to make it work, and did eventually make it across.

As Connor was exiting the pool, Julian was beginning his 50yd swim.  I didn't witness this part but apparently it was a struggle too.  Whereas we expected that with Connor, this was a surprise.  His warm-up in swim lessons is more intense so this should have been a piece of cake.

Julian runs to transition where I'm still helping Connor.  I helped him push his bike to the mount line but once again he declined any help on the course, embarking on a 1mi ride alone.  The course was 1/2mi long so the little ones did 2 laps while the older kids did 4.  Check out Julian as he exits and re-enters transition with his bike.  This is one area where he showed his experience and excelled - total pro.  The ride itself was unfortunately a bit rough with a lack of confidence in the turnarounds and just more laborious than it should have been.  Connor meanwhile would coast occasionally as his focus would drift but he completed the route with no problems.

Once in from the bike, it's run time.  This is Julian's natural strong suit and the area I initially was most concerned about Connor with.  One mile for Julian is nothing, but 1/2mi for a 4yr old is not a distance to take lightly.  Julian took off on his first of 2 laps around the hospital before Connor came in on the bike.

Once it was time for Connor to run though, he took off!  This is the one stage where I accompanied him though he did a great job following route signs.  The pace was solid, frequently around 11 minute miles (I checked my Garmin just for grins).  The last 1/4mi was mostly on grass where the pace slowed a bit but he kicked it in for a strong solo finish to the line.

TRIATHLON FINISHED!  Connor crossed that line and got his medal right away.  He asked me if he won to which I replied, "Did you finish?"  "Yes."  "Then you won."  He also gave the classic answer to the question of whether or not he wanted to do one again --- "No ..... eh, yes!"

Julian crossed the line shortly after looking completely exhausted.  Not sure what happened but the event just didn't go as planned for him.  It was a struggle from start to finish even though the distances were all relatively short.  Needless to say, it was a bit of a wake-up call for him in a number of ways.  He's very focused on IronKids in June which will be a MUCH tougher event so I think he's ready to learn from this and move on.  Connor is so proud that he wore the event t-shirt and medal for the rest of the day.  He's also very eager to do another.  Unfortunately I don't know of another event for him until October.  In the end, both boys did a great job completing a multisport event that the vast majority of their peers would never attempt.  A big congratulations to both!