Saturday, May 4, 2013

Front Runner Century, Saturday April 27, 2013

Front Runner Century

I am not traditionally a cyclist, so this was a bit of a stretch for me.  Officially not a race, but a well supported 100km (62 miles) ride, I was excited about the possibility of riding with a very large group of my team mates (Team Blonde Runner Triathlon as well as my coach, Lora Erickson (the Blonde Runner and two friends from my neighborhood (Chris Miller and Doug Sterner).

The race was sponsored, in part by the Utah Transportation Authority (UTA) and started at the Central Salt Lake City Central Front Runner (light rail) station.  It meandered along streets and trails to the north ultimately to end at the Ogden Front Runner station.  Transportation of a small knapsack or bag to the finish was provided (for a change of clothes, etc.) as well as a free ride back for you (on the train) and your bike on a CR England truck. The route was as follows:


The longest ride I had done prior to this was 40 miles (the week before) and I felt fine.  I knew it wasn't a race, but I didn't want to be slow either.

After meeting at our favorite KMart in Woods Cross, we drove down to the start.  We formed several loose groups with the intent of riding together.  At the start, the route meanders through Salt Lake City and makes its way to the Jordan River and then Legacy Trails.  There are a lot of stop lights, stop signs and turns as well as some narrow trails along the way, so it was hard to keep an eye on each other.  Plus, I was in the mood to get going... so, except for Doug, I seemed to lose track of most riders in the first 20 miles or so.  The first aid station (all the stations were well stocked btw, kudos to the FRC folks) was at about 20 miles.

I wasn't tired, so I decided to roll through and ran into Christopher Allen White and Don Hoover there as they were leaving.  These two are a bit faster than me but encouraged me to join them and a little group that formed.  This was a blast.  As a group we were really moving (22-24 mph at times).  Well at least that's moving for me).  But I had trouble holding that pace so after about 5- 10 miles, I had to drop off.

This was good though, because as a triathlete you really can't draft (unless you're a pro, which I'm not) so I got into a good aero position and pushed on.  The next aid station was at about 40 miles.  I actually stopped a few minutes there to refuel (gatorade, banana, gu) and ran into Doug Sterner.

Doug is awesome, if not a bit peculiar in his feelings about cycling.  He likes Gitane bicycles.  Apparently, in the day, Gitane was the brand to beat.  But now, you can only buy new ones in France.  The bike he rode, leather saddle and all, was circa 1970, but he managed to keep up.  So Doug and I stuck together for the last bit.  This part was harder, not only because it was well into the ride but also because, there was a bit of a grade to the finish.

Overall, I finished better than I expected, in about 3 hours and 26 minutes, some 17 minutes behind Chris and Don.  My average speed was only 18.3 mph, but I am still learning at this stuff.

I hung out awhile as Doug, Tracy, Coach Lora and Scott made there way to the finish.  I enjoyed a nice Jimmie Johns turkey sandwich as well.  After changing, I took the free train ride home.  All in all a pretty fun day.  I'd definitely do it again.

Finally, the race would not have gone well at all were it not for all the Winter training and coaching from Coach Lora.  Go TBR!

Jaclyn, Pam, Amelia, Melanie and Stacia

Me, Chris, Tracy and Don

Me and Tracy

Chris, Me, Tracy and Don

Me, Coach Lora and Tracy

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I just wanted to share the race review of my coach, Lora Erickson from San Diego this past weekend.  Great job Coach! Go Team Blonde Runner!

Race Report: ITU Omegawave World Triathlon – San Diego, CA

April 22, 2013 by   
Filed under NewsPrevention & SafetyProduct ReviewsRaces,Weight Loss
This was a highly anticipated race for me since it was my first race back after my concussion in August at theUSAT AG National Championships. This race would also my first ocean triathlon which made me really excited and nervous. I have wanted to do an ocean triathlon for some time and I was thrilled to finally be able to cross it off my bucket list. As with any triathlon there is a lot of preparation work that goes into it but this one was particularly complicated. I would be facing the ocean swim which I had very little experience with growing up in Colorado and the swim is the portion of the event I sustained a concussion in my last race; I guess you could say I like to face my fears. I would also need to make arrangements for travel and be able to break down my bike and put it back together again. This is something I have done before so it wasn’t too difficult but there is always the chance of something getting lost or damaged in transport and having limited resources to fix it far from home which added some anxiety. So I bubble wrapped it best I could and prayed it would be safe.
903908_10201012387221885_2097722793_oI decided it would be fun and a good experience to have my oldest son go on the trip with me, so we packed up and headed to the airport.  It was fun to know we’d be going somewhere warm while it was cold in Utah. The flight went well and we enjoyed the interesting sights at the airport like the cool birds in the lights and petpotty. LOL
533974_10201017561551240_1905848284_n931262_10201029443928292_131585830_n387997_10201019556801120_680992600_nOne thing I didn’t anticipate was dealing with some allergies. I’m not sure what was in the air but my body didn’t like it so I found myself sneezing almost immediately coming off the plane. The good news is that it wasn’t as noticeable at the race venue by the beach.
We especially loved the brand new black rental van (literally had 4 miles when I turned the key) as we navigate our way to our destination. I was thrilled to see and catch up with a long-time friend and stay with her cute family. They would very generous to us. I was also pleased to be able to put my bike back together and have it running smoothly for the race (no transport damage). This was a huge relief.
400660_10201026855383580_1867090005_n(So happy to have this sweet ride from Bountiful Bicycle)
When we headed down the next day to the Mission Beach area for packet pickup, to check in my bike and browse through the expo booths; we found it difficult to preview the course. This is a large event with over 1800 athletes (many world-class elite athletes) so the venue had limited access and I was unable to preview the entire route as I usually do before an event. I also knew there would be no chance race day morning since they would be shuttling all the athletes into this International Triathlon Union event because of road closures. It makes me a little uneasy not to see the race route in its entirety before an event and have to rely on a well-marked course but it’s what I had to do so I studied the maps the best I could and went through my usual race preparations.
Endurance Films national team gear – check
Emergen-C to boost my immune system – check
Elete in my water for the race – check
New Skin spray coating to protect my barefeet – check
On race morning the weather could not be more perfect for the event. After setting up transition I headed to the water just before my wave started.
The ocean water felt great. This event was a beach start so I practiced a few running/dive starts and swam a bit to get my body ready. As I was waiting for my wave to start the announcer warned us that there was a strong side current that would be pushing us to the side. It was easy to see its strength as many of the previous waves were completely off track, so I made sure to start on the far side so it was more likely to push me on track. Soon the horn went off and we were on our way. It took a bit for us to spread out as we had 181 athletes in our wave starting at the same time. It was different to smell and taste the salty sea water in my mouth but I felt strong and worked well against the current. The swim seems to go quickly and I focused on my form finishing up with some dolphin dives as I swam into the shallows to surface on the sand. I ran out with quick fast steps out of the water pushed through the deep sand up to the transition area.
The transition area was quite large with 1800 plus athletes representing 41 US. States and 15 countries participating in the event so I knew I had to move quickly to speed up my time. As I made my way to my bike I worked my wetsuit off and geared up quickly for the cycling leg. Unfortunately the first part of the ride was narrow and didn’t allow passing so I really had to hold back. The cycling leg had more hills than I expected but I was still able to move past people fairly quickly. Since my wave was second to the last to start I had a lot of people to work on but found myself having slow down frequently as many narrow sections restricted movement “no pass zones” and there were many hairpin turns where we slowed down to nearly a stop. Overall this slowed my average pace significantly and would undoubtedly not indicate my true potential on results but I did what I could. The middle portion of the ride took us on a loop around historic Fiesta Island, the site of the first-ever triathlon held in September 1974. It was fairly windy on this portion but I felt strong so I continued to push past as many athletes as I could and was only caught be a few small groups of men. At the end of the ride, when I was coming into transition as I put my feet on top of my shoes and started to dismount my shoe unclipped and my bare foot smacked the asphalt really hard. When I ran back to get my shoe it was very painful and I also could feel every step to my assigned transition area. I was happy to get my cushioned shoes on. I slowed down the first mile to take it gentle hoping my foot would feel better and after a while it seemed to go numb so I just pounded the rest out. I hit the two mile around 13:50 (6:55 min/mile) so I was going a good pace. I remember thinking how beautiful the run was along the path beside the bay and what a great opportunity I had to be in this event. I continued to pass people and worked my way to the finish. I noticed it seemed to take quite a while to get there. It was clear the run was much longer than a 5K and after talking to other athletes my suspicions would confirmed. It was probably over a half mile long which was reflected on my results. I would guestimate my actually 5k time to be about 21:40/50. So, nothing too speedy but good considering my foot was still hurting. It was inspirational to see many paratriathletes competing; many with only one leg so I really have nothing to complain about, after all I had a foot even if it hurt.920564_10201023064488810_103778585_o

As always my favorite part of the race is coming in for the finish. It’s always a thrill to hear your name announced over the loud speaker and have people cheering you in as you are surrounded by banners and music and all the festiveness of a race. I ended up with top ten in my division and met my goals for this race. It was especially great to stay with a good friend and have my son with me to share this experience with.  As always I missed the rest of my family and was happy to be back home (home sweet home) and was greeted with a cute welcome home chalk sign made by my children.
Happy Training,
Coach Lora Erickson

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Friday, April 12, 2013

"Tri the Beach" Huntington Beach Sprint Triathlon

 My first triathlon.... Spring Break 2013

Elite swimmers battling the surf and current, some more successfully than others.  

Course Preview and Training

Since joining Team Blonde Runner (TBR) in January, I had looked forward to doing my first triathlon with the team.  Unfortunately, the race fell on the day I was leaving for California for Spring break with the family.  So, I tried to find an alternative event.  To my surprise and elation, the the city of Huntington Beach had scheduled its first triathlon in many years while I would be their visiting family.  Both my wife and I are from southern California originally, and my parents live less than a mile from the transition area for the race.  So.. I was sold.  Only a half mile swim, 10 mile bike ride and 2.5 mile run. No problem.. right.. well wrong? I'll get to that soon.
We arrived in HB, on Saturday evening, and enjoyed a day off and Easter with family.  Did some scouting, training during the week.  Of note, 3 miles into my first ride since getting fitted to my bike and having it tuned up, I got a pinch flat.... Grr

Changed that and finished a short 14 mile ride.  Learned another thing that day, the wind coming off the ocean was strong.  Easy to go 21mph away from the beach, harder to go 18 on the way back.  Yes, I know, slow, but hey this biking thing is relatively new.  Aero position made all the difference though.

A nice sand run the next day and then an ocean swim with my coach (Lora Erickson, aka The Blonde Runner) who just happened to be in California as well, the next.  Of noted on the ocean swim, the waves were big (4 foot) and blown out (it was the afternoon) and I got washing-machined on the way in.  The southward current was strong as well.

Utah Tri Dad with Coach Lora Erickson Huntington State Beach

Next day was the race.  Had a party at my in-laws and left early meaning to go to bed.  My experience swimming was in my brain though, and I couldn't sleep.  Because waves for race morning were predicted to be 5 feet and current strong.  The course was to be an out and back around 2 buoys (about 0.5 miles).  I wasn't worried about going out.  Just coming back in.  At least swimming out you can sight the waves and dive through or under.  I am an experienced ocean swimmer.  Lived in southern California for 16 years.  The majority of my teen years were spent at the beach.  But swimming back in, not looking at waves and getting pummeled is not my idea of fun.  I lost sleep...

Race Day

Transition set up

Arrived for transition set up at 630 am when it opened.  Had to pay to park, wasn't expecting this, so bring cash if you plan on doing the race next year.  I had to go up the road a bit to Magnolia because I didn't have cash and the Brookhurst entrance had not been open in the off season.  Anyway, set up my bike, etc and went to check out the waves


Spent a good deal of time talking to lifeguards about the current, waves, swim strategy, etc.  The HB lifeguards are not pool lifeguards.  These folks are experts.  This was time well spent.  After a prerace briefing we were set to go.  A sand to ocean start.  First wave, red caps, elite.  I was yellow, the next (largest) group set to go in groups of 50 swimmers.  


Another key positive, I watched the elite swimmers-- and the current.  The south current was strong and many elite swimmers were swept south of the the first buoy, having to work really hard to get back.  And, a set of 4 or 5 huge waves hit them on the way out, pummeling them.  I decided to go with the first yellow group.  This was earlier than I had planned but, hey we were between sets, so I took advantage.  See the picture on top.  Of note, there was the yellow lifeguard boat and, I think, 2 lifeguards with buoys in the surf and 2 or 3 personal watercraft, around 9 lifeguards watching.  It was safe as any ocean swim could be.

I got off to a good start, running to the left, dove under a few waves and got out pretty much unscathed.  The current pushed me around the buoy and, though tired, I rounded the second and moved in.  My return wasn't as fast as it may have been, but I looked back a lot and tried to get a ride in.  Never caught a wave, but didn't get pummeled as many did.  Total swim time including a run across the wide sand beach was about 14 minutes.  Not bad for a neophyte triathlete swimmer.

I must say though, I was tired.  And this impacted my bike ride.

Transition 1

Hmm, rubbery legs, tried to find my spot, wasted a bit of time finding it.  Pulled off the wetsuit quickly and changed.  Forgot to clip my shoes to the pedals and couldn't get my right foot in quickly.. Grr  .. 2 and a half minutes


After the ride, coming up to transition
Ride was easy for the most part, flat, along the Santa Ana River trail.  It was well staffed, because the path is narrow and traffic was two way.  There is also a turn over a, well used, wooden bridge.  But I felt safe.  My speed wasn't fast, maybe 18mph overall, I was a bit toasted after the swim.

Transition 2

Easy, out of shoes, on top of pedals, put on running shoes.. pick up hat and put on hat and race big as I head out of transition.  About a minute.  


Across the beach, harder sand, toward but not in the water out and soft sand, other side of lifeguard towers, back.  Very tiring.  But at the finish, I was feeling great!  Picked in up and pushed it in picking off 2 or 3 people in the last few hundred yards!  

All pictures near finish.  Had to post these.  I never look good in running pics.  These I liked


Well it was my first tri, so I had family and friends there.  There was ample food, drink and great booths, good job race team.  Anyway, got to meet Chris McCormack (2 time Ironman World Champion) and he signed my race number.  

With Chris "Macca" McCormack


Great race, scary waves, well done, tons of great pictures, highly recommend.  May make it an annual tradition.  Oh and this from an email from the race team after the race, LOL.

Team Blonde Runner

A shout out to my team and Coach Lora Erickson, who did a great job preparing this neophyte for the race.  Even a surprise ocean swim the day before. :)  My first tri and in the top 1/4 for my AG; not bad at all. Thanks Coach