My First Boston Marathon

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I am a Boston Marathon finisher.  I never thought that I would be able to say that, but after running through some of the harshest conditions for a race I have ever run in, and possibly the harshest weather in the race’s history, I finished the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon.  It wasn’t easy getting there, and I should have known it wasn’t going to be easy being there.  But it made for a lifetime memory.

Here’s a marathon worthy recap of what got me there, the few days beforehand, and the race itself.

 

The Pursuit of Boston

When I began running in 1989, marathons weren’t even really on my mind.  I started to run mainly to keep my weight down, and because I was bored.  I bought a pair of MacGregor brand running shoes from Kmart and put on a t-shirt and gym shorts and started an evening ritual of running around the apartment complex.  A mile or two turned into five.  The crappy MacGregor’s were replaced with Nike’s.  It wasn’t long until  I entered a couple of road races and caught the competitive running bug.  I was hooked.  Within a year and a half, I ran my first marathon in 1991.  That lead to a few more, and I eventually came to know about the grand daddy of all marathons, Boston.  I wanted to someday run it.

But they don’t just let anyone who wants to run it do so.  You have to earn your way in, you have to qualify.  Oh sure, nowadays the fourth and final corral holds about 7,000 charity runners who don’t have to meet the qualifying standards that the others meet.  They have to raise a significant amount of money for a charity, which is a noble thing.  I will gladly run along side them and congratulate them as a finisher. But for those who want to count themselves as one of the select few, meeting the standard that the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) sets for it’s marathon is the only way to go.  It was the only way I wanted in, but there was a catch – I was no where near fast enough.

Getting in isn’t easy.  In order to keep the race competitive, the BAA has time standards which you have to meet.  In the early days, the standards were simple and very fast – only a very select few could do it.  As interest in the race grew, and the race itself grew larger, the BAA set the standards we have today, standards they could change any time they want to.  For me, a male runner in the 50 to 54 age group, I had to be under 3.5 hours.  Over the years I had perfected finishing marathons typically around three hours and 45 – 50 minutes, which meant a younger me probably had to run 30 minutes  or more faster than I was able to do.  It seemed impossible to me.  But as you age, the standards get a little bit slower.  As I neared 50 years old, the standard started getting closer to my ability.  I was now about 8 minutes away from qualifying, and I was also getting faster.

The possibility of actually qualifying for the Boston Marathon started to become realistic for me when I made some changes and additions to my running.  First off, I stopped winging it and started following a marathon running plan.  Concepts like periodized training, and building mileage gradually with the addition of speed work were methods I had not known of or I had ignored in the past.  I usually just ran and ran as comfortably hard as I could.  That only got me so far.  Training with purpose improved my times significantly.  Secondly, I became a triathlete and an Ironman.  Ironman training was very detailed and methodical as well, and the addition of the cross training activities of swimming and cycling made me more of a complete all-around athlete and runner.  Third, I started a running streak in 2015, running at least a mile every day.  It added more miles to my weekly totals, taught my body how to deal with a large workload, and how to adapt to tired legs and endure.  Lastly, after completing my first of three Ironman races, I started to believe in myself.  I believed I could do it.  I was very close.

In 2015 I finally qualified, running a 3:28:19 at a course known for being fast, the Chicago Marathon.  It was bittersweet however, because not only do you have to meet the qualifying time, there are too many runners who do so than the Boston Marathon can host, so they take the fastest of the qualifiers first until the field fills up.  I missed the cut by 28 seconds.  Disappointing, but I knew that after getting that rejection to my application in September of 2016 that I would be running Chicago again the following month.  Now I was determined.  I had finished Ironman Lake Placid in July 2016, which would also prove to be a wild card in my build up to Chicago.  I was a lean, mean running machine and ready to do it.  At the 2016 Chicago Marathon, we were given a beautiful day for a race and I improved my time to 3:25:08 – 4:51 minutes under the qualifying time.  I was in.

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Race Week – April 12 – 16, 2018  

Here are the pre-race week activities.

 

Thursday, April 12

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Trying to make the emotional rollercoaster fun.

Kari and I flew in on Thursday and I was already a bundle of nerves because of the forecasted weather, and the fact Ashley and Rebecca were flying on their own for the first time.  But thankfully I have the best life partner in the world, Kari, and I let her handle all of the side circuses that were occurring.  We tried to settle in and wait for the whole crew to show up.

The flight in will always be memorable because of this dope I was sitting next to.  He was definitely trying to prove he was the alpha dog, hogging the armrest in the manner he was doing.  He also wanted to be upgraded to first class and wasn’t getting the satisfaction he was seeking.  He finally got up and pretty much tossed his seatbelt into my lap.  I flipped him off as he went into first class, and took his seatbelt and fastened it back together.  I thought he was gone, but he got rejected in first class and made his way back to his seat.  I had already placed my elbow on the arm rest and decided I wasn’t budging.  He started pushing very hard.  I had to apply pressure consistently back until I decided that I’m a better person.  I moved and focused on my wife instead.

When we finally deplaned, I headed to the bathroom and the only urinal available was next to this jerk.  I waited for another spot to open.

We got our bags and took a cab to our hotel.  The slightly annoying rush hour traffic was only trumped by the fact that the trip from the airport to the hotel was mostly through tunnels.  Pretty boring, but we made it.

After check-in, we headed over to the finish line, which was about 2-3 blocks away.  I wanted to see Boylston Street where the race finishes, and visit the running stores there. Upon entering the store I was impressed with the history lining the walls.  Lots of old pictures, old running shoes and the like.  And then Boston Billy walked in.

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Maybe the most famous Boston Marathoner ever, Bill Rodgers.  I was too embarrassed to bother him, let alone let him see me take a fanboy picture!  

I couldn’t believe that multiple Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers was in the store at the same time.  He came in to drop of a framed photo to the staff, made some quick small talk with them and was gone like he was making a break from the lead pack for the win. Next time, I will assert myself and ask for a photo!

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At the finish line.

After some more finish line area sightseeing, Kari and I opted for dinner.  What do you want to eat in Boston?  Lobster, of course.  We inquired at the hotel and a local place was suggested, but when I saw the prices, this guy who grew up knowing money didn’t grow on trees opted for the lobster roll sandwich instead.  It was still lobster, and it was pretty good.

I had my first freakout of the weekend walking back to the hotel.  The restaurant was cold inside, and I was also cold from having walked around.  By the time we made it back to the hotel I was shivering.  If I was shivering now, how was I going to handle race day, with it’s cold and rainy forecast?  I got back and warmed up and watched some Bruin playoff hockey to get my mind off of it.

 

Friday, April 13

Upon getting up, I opted for a one mile treadmill run in the hotel gym to keep my running streak alive.  After showering up, we tried another suggested restaurant for breakfast that really wasn’t built for breakfast.  We should have opted for a Dunkin’ Donuts, as they are practically on every street corner in Boston.

My life long buddy Dave and his wife Carla were the first of the Cheer Crew to arrive.  Dave wanted to join in on the fun at the race expo and check out the excitement.  John Hancock, the major sponsor of the race provided a bus from downtown to the race expo and we took it over there.  As race expos go, this was pretty typical.  Stand in line, prove who you are, get your bib number, get your event shirt, walk through the expo and buy junk.  We did just that.  Kari was a trooper and stood in line to pay for the $300 worth of Adidas junk I wanted.  The must have at this race is the Celebration Jacket, which oddly enough people wear as soon as the receipt is printed.  I wanted no part of that until the race was over, but I did make sure I got mine.

After the expo, Kari and I met up with Dave and Carla at a burger joint halfway between our hotels for a late lunch.  My burger hit the spot and everyone was excited about the evening plans.  Kari had the great idea of taking in a Red Sox game, and fortunately for us we were able to get great tickets for the Sox vs. the Orioles on the nicest day of the weekend.  After a trip back to the hotel for a while, we all walked over to the oldest baseball park in the league, Fenway Park.  Not sure why I expected it to be more run down than it was, but it was a really great looking ball park.  The seats though were designed for the small people.  My 6’4″ buddy was a little scrunched, but we endured.  Red Sox won 7-3.  After the game we made the easy walk back to our hotels.

 

Saturday, April 14

I needed to burn off some energy, so the first thing Kari and I did was get dressed and run three miles around the area, including down by the banks of the River Charles.  Very nice riverfront they have there, with a nicely paved path.  Saw some serious runners doing the same thing we were doing, only doing it much faster.  The weekend also included a 5K race, and there were several runners heading there as we made our way through Boston.

Upon getting back, we opted for an overpriced breakfast at the hotel, which at least was better than what we had the day before.  Then we hopped into a taxi and headed to the airport to pick up our two daughters.  While waiting there I saw a girl carrying around an Ironman Louisville 2017 backpack and told her that I had done the race as well.  We shared stories of that race and talked about our nervous energy about the marathon.

With the girls collected and lunch finally consumed after a lengthy delay waiting for our food, we did some more sightseeing.  We walked the finish line area and went inside the Boston Public Library, which had some really cool old murals and stuff.

It had been 5 years since the 2013 finish line bombings in Boston.  Lots of events and memorials occurring over the weekend.

A highlight of the trip included a Boston Duck Boat tour, which I really enjoyed.  Our guide was funny and made sure we saw most of the important sights of old Boston.

Dinner was at California Pizza Kitchen, which was accessible by hamster trails from our hotel, meaning we didn’t have to walk outside.  I wasn’t expecting much, but the loaded baked potato soup was outstanding, as well as the pizza I had.

Back to the room to relax and turn in for the night.  I woke up around 2:30am with some acid indigestion, which I always feel like it is a heart attack happening.  Kari woke up as well and brought me some Pepcid or something which did the trick.

 

Sunday, April 15

Back to the hotel gym for a mile on the treadmill first thing in the morning.  We ate breakfast again at the hotel, and waited to meet up with the rest of my Cheer Crew, my in-laws Gary and Darla, and my buddy John.

We all ate at an Italian place near Paul Revere’s home and did a little walking around the area.  We also took the Trolley Tour, which also highlighted several great spots in Boston.  It’s a nice tour because you can ride and get off at various spots and hop back on at any time.  The only thing I wanted to do was to walk the Freedom Trail, a self-guided tour of Boston’s historical area, but I wanted to limit walking at this point, and the weather was getting cold, wet and crummy.  A sign of what was to come.

Back at the hotel I planned out my strategy for what to wear the following morning and for the race.  It took a while, but I finally decided on using various layers with the option to shed whatever I wouldn’t need during the race.  This is what I chose:  a sleeveless tri top, a very tight long sleeve cycling jersey with pockets, a long sleeve tech shirt, a polyester windbreaker for the top half;  a pair of track tights/shorts, long running pants, calf compression sleeves for warmth, and a pair of socks;  a pair of cheap liner type gloves and a pair of nicer Brooks gloves.  For my head I opted for a visor and a beanie.

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Not the most efficient marathon outfit, but I needed layers for warmth.

Before bed I had a good chat with Ben about pre-race nerves and then it was lights out.  One of the nice things about the Boston Marathon is that it starts mid-morning, so I didn’t have to get up super early.  That was a good thing, because I didn’t really sleep very well.

 

Marathon Monday, April 16

Even though it’s Patriots Day in New England, the locals and in particular anyone associated with the race refers to it as Marathon Monday.  The alarm went off at 5:20am, and I was already awake.  I got up and took a peek outside the window.  Yep, just like they had predicted for the past two weeks, it was raining and it looked cold and miserable.  If it had been any other race, I might have passed.  But knowing how much it meant to me to get there, the amount of cash I dropped on being there (!), and the fact that my Cheer Crew had also came to provide support, there was no chickening out.

After the bathroom, I started in on fueling myself for the race.  A banana, a bagel and a coffee was a good start.  I was concerned for my feet, as my fingers and toes will prune up in the shower.  I decided to coat my feet first with Skin Glide, a lotion form of Body Glide.  Then I hit the entire bottom of the feet with Body Glide.  Finally, I added copious amounts of Vaseline all around my toes.  That combo has worked pretty well in the past for most marathons and Ironman races.  I got all the aforementioned running junk on and then donned the rain gear.  The marathon is a point to point race and you are bused out to Hopkinton, Massachusetts and wait until the start.  That means an hour long bus ride to the high school there, and then an hour or two of sitting around waiting for your wave to start.  All of which meant, I was going to be doing that in the rain and cold.

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As we walked in the rain, the absurdity of it all started to make me laugh.
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Standing in line to enter the area to catch the bus.

To keep me warm and dry for the morning commute to the start line I was glad I layered up with a sweatshirt and pullover, along with a zippered/hooded rain coat.  For pants, I found a pair of “sauna pants” in Walmart for $8 which were perfect.  I covered my shoes with crime scene booties that I stole from work.  I hope my boss doesn’t read this far.

The bus ride sucked.  Having all that gear on made me warm, but I wasn’t going to complain.  School busses are designed for little kids, and leg room was at a minimum and was uncomfortable to say the least.  I tried to make small talk with my seat mate, but he advised he knew little English and told me he was German.  I told him that I had been to Munich, and he said he had qualified for Boston at Berlin.  He was eating “brot und wasser”, which are literally the only German words I know.  I should have said that, he might have been impressed.

We finally arrived at the high school and we were immediately met by the most friendliest of volunteers, cheerfully directing us where to go.  I’m still scratching my head as to why any of the volunteers or spectators showed up on such a miserable day.  I guess New Englanders are a hardy bunch, and they are definitely proud of their marathon.

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By 10am, that mass of weather would be at Hopkinton and stay for the duration.

It was raining pretty hard.  I made my way to one of the lines for the scores of portable toilets lining the field.  The wait was easily 20 minutes, but once inside I made sure I took my time and got the job done.  I hated to leave the shelter of the port-a-potty, but I figured one of the three large tents would offer some good shelter.  Wrong.

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Inside the tent on the baseball field. I felt like I was at Woodstock.
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The guy behind me in the blue was from New Jersey. He told me that. Twice.

It was pretty crowded, and the drier grassy spots were filled with runners from Wave 1.  Once they were called to the start, it cleared out pretty well, and I found a mat/blanket thing to sit on until it was my turn to head over.  I ate another bagel and most of a Clif Bar and drank a little Gatorade while I waited.

At 9:45am or so, the announcer made the dreaded announcement:  “Wave 2 Runners!  It’s your turn to start heading to the start line!”  I waited about 10 minutes and then made my way to a set of port-a-potties that were behind the tents that no one seemed to be using.  There was no wait.  I’m glad I made that last stop, and then I trekked through the mud to the street for the 3/4 mile walk to the starting line.

As we walked there were ample opportunities to shed the pre-race clothing that people had donned to keep warm.  I figured I would hold on to mine as long as I could.  I finally got near the corral entry point and decided to shed the shoe covers (NO!!!) and the vinyl rain pants I was wearing (NO!!!).   I kept the rain coat hoping to stay warm and a little dryer.  There was no turning back now.

Small talk was made, announcements were announced, and I felt the group moving forward.  We were starting.  And the wind, rain and now a wave of emotions hit me.  I was crossing the start line of the Boston Marathon.

 

Miles 1 through 5:  Hopkinton – Ashland – Framingham

“I’m finally here.  I’m running Boston”

We runners tend to have a lot of deep thoughts when running.  I’m certainly no exception.  Most of my ideas for my blog posts come from runs.  And I can tell you, I had plenty of deep thoughts on this run.  Mostly negative.  I’ll share what I can remember.

The first mile was exactly like I had been warned.  Yes, warned.  It’s a tight, two lane road that is all down hill.  Most of the advice from others was to not to start fast on those first down hills.  As I started, I gave some quick reflection as to my race plan for the day.  I had options.  I could try to run hard to justify my being there.  Nah.  The hard work was getting into the race, there was no requirement to justify anything.  I could run hard and try to re-qualify for next year.  Yeah, right.  Even though I would gain an extra ten minutes of cushion for qualifying just by turning 55 in the fall, I think I will take a pass on this kind of torture next year.  I could take my time and take a bunch of selfies, or even go live on Facebook.  In this downpour?  Not going to happen.  What I wanted to do was run faster than the Kenyans, and get this misery over with quick.  That is very definitely not happening, even if I wanted it to.  I decided to take it easy and run comfortable, keep track of the little nagging pain in the sole of my foot that has been an issue for a few weeks now, and just try to stay dry and warm.

“Puddles are everywhere.”

I spent the first mile also trying not to keep pace with those evenly matched runners around me and not get swept along at the groups’ pace.  Every once in a while someone would yell “PUDDLE”, but there were so many that after the first 5 minutes, my feet were soaked and I stopped worrying about stepping in any puddles.  I did try to stay in the middle of the road where the crown of the road meant less water, but it didn’t matter.

“My legs are getting soaked”

It was nice having the blue rain coat on at the beginning because it was doing its job of keeping me dry, but since the rain was running down it that meant my running tights were getting soaked.  By Mile 3, I stopped for probably a minute and struggled to get the rain soaked tights off of me while still wearing my running shoes.

“There’s running junk everywhere.”

People were tossing off all kinds of good running gear.  I had already lost my tights and I was contemplating tossing the rain coat.  By the fourth mile I needed an energy gel, and couldn’t get to it under the rain coat.  Bye-bye rain coat.

“This sucks.”

It wasn’t long after losing the rain gear that I decided to take off a pair of cheap liner type gloves I had on under my main gloves.  My hands were getting warm and I didn’t think I needed them any more.  I got my good gloves off, tossed the other gloves and went to put the main gloves back on and realized I only had one.  I had dropped one by accident.  I turned around and saw it laying about 10 feet back.  I would have to act like a salmon and swim up stream and get it.  How apropos.

I retrieved my glove and immediately the wind blew my visor off.  Time to back track up the river again.

 

Miles 6 through 10:  Framingham – Natick

“This quite possibly might be the worst thing I have ever experienced.”

It was getting real.  Six miles in and 20 miles to go.  In the worst weather I have ever run in.  I had really hoped to enjoy the crowds, the landmarks, and whatever other experiences the course would offer, but I spent most of it with my head down, shading my face from the 20 mph head winds and rain.

“Looking good!?  Thanks for shouting that to me from your sheltered front porch, lady.”

Somewhere in this section my watch alerted me to a text that Kari sent informing me that they would be near the 14 mile mark, on the left hand side.

Yay!  Something to look forward to.”

 

Miles 6 through 10:  Natick – Wellesley

“Welcome to NAY-TICK” said the guy on the side of the road as we strolled into the town of Natick.

“Now I know how to pronounce Natick.”

 

Miles 11 through 15:  Wellesley

After getting through some of the town of Natick, we ran through a pretty heavily tree lined area.  Lots of rolling hills but pretty boring.  Then I heard it – a distant roar, still probably at least another mile away, but I could hear it.  I was getting closer to the ladies of Wellesley College and the famous “Scream Tunnel.”

Right around the half way point you pass through the campus of Wellesley College, an all women’s school with notable grads such as Hillary Clinton, Diane Sawyer, and Madeline Albright, that comes out to the course and screams their lungs out.  Can you image Madeline Albright as a college girl screaming at marathoners?!  I didn’t know this as I ran through, but it’s kind of a right of passage for graduation for the girls to get kissed by a runner.  Had I known that, I might have spent a little more time there.  I’m just kidding.  I did high-5 many of them with a big smile on my face.  It was a huge pick me up.

“I’m half way there!”

Immediately after leaving the Scream Tunnel I remembered that Kari and the Cheer Crew would be somewhere around the 14 mile mark, so I started scanning the sides of the road.  Usually I avoid this because it drains me mentally, but I only had to look for them on the left hand side, so I slid over to the left more and kept looking.

“Damn, the town of Wellesley goes on forever.”

It wasn’t long until I saw the gang.  Another emotional moment for me.  Having Kari, Ashley, Rebecca, Gary, Darla, and my two best buddies Dave and John there standing in the rain waiting for me was such a great feeling.  I stopped and gave them all a big group hug.  I may have mentioned to John that this was the worst thing I have ever experienced.  I didn’t spend a long time there because I knew if I did I might get chilled or possibly cramp up.  So, I said goodbye and headed down the road.

 

 

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I was never so happy to see my family and friends.

 

Miles 16 through 20:  Newton

“Mile 16 – only 10 to go.  Only 10.”

The next town was Newton, known for a couple of things on the course.  First there is a right turn right by the big Newton Fire Station.  Lots of activity going on there.  The crowds had picked up again and you could feel the excitement.  The second thing about Newton are the hills.  They aren’t hard, but they just keep rolling at you.  And you keep thinking that the biggie is coming.

 

Miles 21 through 25:  Newton – Brookline – Boston

“This must be Heartbreak Hill.  Whatever.”

Between mile 20 and 21 I finally came to the most famous part of the the Boston Marathon course, Heartbreak Hill.  They say many a runner has lost the race here, but for a middle of the pack guy like me, I just shortened my stride and made it up in no time. It’s only about a half mile long, but I wasn’t attacking it like an elite runner set on winning would do.  There was this one old guy who passed me going up it chanting “YES, YES, YES!”  He was determined to kick Heartbreak Hill’s ass.  He did.

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Heading up Heartbreak Hill.

“This sucks.”

“I don’t think I can feel my quads any more.”

Somewhere around the 22 mile area I realized that I really couldn’t feel my legs any longer.  They were cold, sore and numb.  I had been seeing a lot of runners stopped along the course at this point walking or stopped and stretching their quads.  I tried to take a status check of my legs, but all I could determine was that they were still moving and I didn’t think they were going to cramp up.

“I think I’ll skip this last gel.  It’s only 5K to go.”

I thought about the fact that there was only 3 miles to go and that I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to skip fishing a gel out of my back pocket, which had been a hassle all race long.  Kind of a mistake.

“I wish I had eaten that gel.”

After getting by Heartbreak Hill, we had been going downhill pretty steadily with some pretty good drops.  My quads were killing me.

Around the 25 mile mark I was starting to wonder where I was, I knew I was now in Boston but wasn’t sure.  I had been watching my step quite a bit, as there were plenty of trolley rail type tracks in the pavement and lots of small lakes of water on the road.  I took a second to look up and there it was – the giant CITGO sign.  I almost missed it!  I had made it to Boston.  I looked over and saw Fenway standing there empty, not because the game on Patriot’s Day would have been over by now, but because the game had been rained out.  I knew it was just a mile or so more to go.

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Heading down Commonwealth Blvd.  The final stretch.

 

Mile 25 to the Finish:  Commonwealth Boulevard to Boylston Street 

Running down Commonwealth Boulevard reality was starting to hit.  We were almost there.  Along this stretch there were a few little jogs to the right and then back straight.  Not sure why, as they were slightly annoying, but the scenery was getting better.  It won’t be long.

“Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.”

As I said that to myself in my head, I repeated it out loud.  “Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.  The last and most notable of directions that this fairly straight shot course had, and I said them over again.  Once on Boylston, the crowds came alive.  The uninitiated may not have known, but it’s about a third of a mile down Boylston.  On one hand I wanted this race to be over, but on the other I wanted it to last a long, long time.

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“I am a Boston Marathon Finisher!”

 

The Finish Area and the Marathon Back to the Hotel

Emotionally, I was ecstatic.  I was smiling and very happy to have finished my first Boston Marathon.  But I was also ready to be done with being outside.  I felt really good for some reason.  Normally I would kind of pass the Medical Tent slowly until I was sure I was good, but I just blew past it.  I found the medals and had a lady put one around my neck.  My next stop was to get a mylar wrap to keep warm.  I was surprised however to be given a really nice and thick rain poncho with the marathon logo all over it.  A firefighter standing by the fence helped me get it on, and I then I saw the mylar wraps and wrapped one around my waist under the poncho.

My plan was to retrieve the sweatpants and sweatshirt that I had dropped off in the morning at the Gear Tent, but I said forget it.  I felt pretty good and I wasn’t shivering, so I decided to head to the family meet-up area.

“WHERE THE HELL IS MY FAMILY?!?!”

I made it to the family meet-up area, but apparently my family didn’t.  They weren’t there.  I figured that maybe they were having trouble getting through the crowds, and my path to the area was pretty short.  Fortunately, there was some shelter there and one of the volunteers helped me get my phone out.  Kari called and informed me that they weren’t back into Boston yet.  Uh-oh.  There was no one there to help me get back.  I was on my own.

I asked the volunteer to show me how to get back to the Marriott Copley Hotel, and she told me which way to go.  So I went.  I got about 2-3 blocks and then the phone rang again.  It was Kari.

“You’re going the wrong way.”

“What the FUCK!!!”

Kari was following me via the Find My iPhone feature.  I was lost, no one was there to help me, and I was starting to shiver.  Fortunately, I pulled my shit together and let Kari turn me around and get me going the correct way.  It wasn’t long until I saw a landmark I was familiar with, and I headed indoors to begin the walk through the mall that lead back to the hotel.  I got back to the hotel lobby at the same time everyone else did.  Hooray!  All was good again.

Back at the hotel room, it was a frantic scramble.  I was trying to get undressed to take a hot shower, but was too sore to be very efficient at it.  And Kari and the girls were gathering their bags to hop in a cab to get to the airport to catch their plane home.  We all figured our issues out, said goodbye and parted ways.

“The last thing I want to do is to warm myself up with more water.”

After being wet for the last four plus hours, I didn’t want anything to do with water.  But my best bet for a quick warm up was to take a hot shower.  It did the trick.  I toweled off, got dressed, including putting on my new Boston Marathon Celebration jacket, and cranked the room heat to 85 degrees.

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Managing a smile in my nice warm jacket and hotel room.

Kari got back from the airport and we headed back over to the California Pizza Kitchen.  I had some really good tortilla soup and split a pepperoni pizza with Kari.  Plenty of finishers in the restaurant reliving the race.  It was a good finish to the day.

 

THANKS

Many, many thanks to pass out to everyone who cheered me on.  My co-workers Carl (always my Number 1 fan!), Julie, Mary, Tracy, Micah, Lou, and all of the gang that took even a polite interest in my path to this day.

I can’t forget all of those friends on Facebook that offered such great words of encouragement and congratulations.  I have read each post and they are greatly appreciated.

Thanks to my daughters Ashley and Rebecca, for being brave enough to get on a plane by themselves for the first time, and miss some school just to stand in the rain to watch me run by for 10 seconds.  I’m glad we got to see some real American history in Boston.

A huge, huge, HUGE thank you to Ben for getting Ashley from school and making sure the girls got to and from the airport.  I felt bad that my number one favorite runner couldn’t be there, but I certainly carried his running spirit with me.  Let’s qualify at Chicago in October and run Boston together in 2020!

Gary and Darla – thank you for coming up from sunny and warm and dry Florida to watch me in that crazy weather.  I think you probably would have preferred a tropical storm to that mess.  Thanks for flying instead of driving as well.  Smart move.

Oh my God!  My life long friends – Dave and John – and Dave’s wife Carla, thank you so much for sharing this with me.  I can’t tell you how much it meant to me.  Your presence made for a fun weekend, as well as got my mind off of the impending doom that was coming.  I got through the race bolstered by your presence.

And finally, thanks to my awesome partner in life Kari.  She is by far the most important part of my journey in the marathon that is my life.  Thanks for carrying me through not only for 26.2 miles, but also for almost 26.2 years.  I love you.

“Thank You!”

 

 

 

Hot Cider Hustle Race Report

When:  11/05/2017

Where:  Danada Forest Preserve, Wheaton, Illinois

Distance:  8 Miles

Results:  56:33 / 5th Overall / 4th Place Male Overall / 1st Place M50-54 Age Group

This is the fourth time for me doing this race and it seems to have changed on me when I wasn’t paying attention.  The first time doing this race was back in 2011 when I did it with Ben, and I really enjoyed it.  8 miles is a unique race distance, so it was fun to tackle something that I was for sure going to PR in.  Race day in the past for this race has been sunny, frigid, windy and wet, thanks to a late October/early November race date.  This time around we had wet for sure.  The temperature was nice, in the low 50’s with not much wind, but it had rained the day before and early morning of the race and threatened to rain again.  Fortunately, the rain held off while we raced, although Kari said she felt some during her 5K.

Which brings me to the 5K.  They added one.  There never used to be one.  And that’s not all they added.  The added another whole day.  Confused?  So was I when I went to sign up.  I guess this little race that seemed to fly under the radar had become a little more popular.  You could choose to run the 8 mile race or the 5K on either Saturday or Sunday, or both if you are crazy enough.  Since we had some Saturday obligations, we opted for the Sunday race.  I’m glad I did.  Like I mentioned above, Saturday was rainy.  I heard a local runner on Facebook say that they hated the race, but I can only assume she hated it because of the weather.

So why did they add a whole extra day of racing?  1855 total participants for this formally quiet little race!  Saturday had 818 total runners and Sunday had 1037!  That is a lot for this forest preserve limestone path trail.  In comparison, in 2011 there were only 466 competitors in the 8 mile only race, 505 in 2012 and 640 in 2014.  In 2016, they had a total of 1059 5k/8mi runners.  Quite a difference.  Did they add the day to accommodate more athletes, or to make more money?  That’s a possibility because this race is put on by  a company that seems to hold races all over the area.  They do a good job for the most part, but you can tell by the way it is run that it’s just different.

Okay, enough with the details of the race.  Time for the report!  I told Kari that I was signing up for the race and told her that there was a 5K too.  She said to sign her up for it and that’s the story I’m sticking to.  I set my alarm for 5:45am and got up and ate so we could get there early and grab a parking spot in the spot limited lot near the race.  I’m glad we did get there early, because everyone else was stuck with the shuttle bus option.  Except for the guy with the huge tow truck.  He decided to make me very nervous by parking next to me.  The forest preserve police watch this lot like a hawk, and I thought this guy was there to tow people who violated the parking rules or something.  This truck was huge, but he was wearing running gear, so my fears weren’t needed.  Also parked near me was a guy in a black pickup truck with a Marine Corp sticker as well as a Brown University sticker.  He got out and I immediately keyed on him as a potential challenger, i.e. he was old like me, and looked pretty fit.  Kari said he was “ripped.”  Thanks, Kari.

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Sitting in our early bird parking spot. Look how packed it is.  She’s questioning my sanity.

I brought a few layers along but after a quick warm-up run of about 10 minutes with a long sleeve over my short sleeve shirt, I decided I’d be good without it.  I did put on a pair of cheap thin gloves to keep my hands warm and we walked to the start.  Others though, they were dressed like it was going to be 20 degrees, not 50.

In the past the start and finish were at the same place, located on the grass track next to the parking lot, but they moved it and I got a little confused.  I made my way to the front and waited for the start.  For the start you funnel through a very tight space and I didn’t want to get caught up with a bunch of others slow rolling through it.  I think when we started, I was probably in the same position as I ended the race in.

When the horn sounded we all took off and made our way quickly to the trail.  I felt like I had settled into a nice pace, but I was starting to get passed by some questionable people.  At the first mile mark I got passed by a girl who was not questionable at all and mentioned to her that she only had one other girl ahead of her.  She replied that she’d give it her best to catch her.  At the 1.5 mile mark, she did the 5K turn around and instantly became the top female, as the leading girl continued on to the 8 mile course.  I guess that’s one way to take the lead!

After getting past that 5K turn around, things got thin real quick.  Thanks to a meandering course through a wooded forest preserve, I quickly lost sight of the leaders and then the next person ahead of me as well.  It’s a good thing that the course was adequately marked and that I had run it before, because I was all alone except for the wheezing guy behind me, and I can only assume he was trusting me to lead the way.  Speaking of that guy, he was doing that breathing thing that runners do when they are well into Z4, and probably should dial it back a bit.  I give him credit, he did hang behind me about 200 feet back for most of the first six miles.  He was wearing a bright fluorescent green windbreaker and it was easy for me to keep my eye on him.

At the four mile mark I was just under 30 minutes and decided to start taking small portions of my gel.  I’m glad I did because it certainly provided some quick energy for me and made me feel better. Instead of downing the gel quickly, I nursed it from mile four through mile 6, providing me with just enough energy to get to the end feeling good.

I kept my eye on the green jacket guy, but was surprised to see a light blue dressed runner had passed him.  And if she had made up ground on the guy behind me, she might be making up ground on me.

But she wasn’t.  Nor was anyone else.  As a matter of fact, after that girl who passed me at the one mile mark and turned for home in the 5K, I passed no one and no one passed me.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  At the seven mile mark, I started catching runners walking the tail end of the 5K.  Looking at the 5K results, I passed about 23 of them.

I made my way off the trail and hit the horse track for the run to the finish.  I had done a warm up on the grass before the race, so I knew that there were some big puddles about halfway down the back stretch.  I made my way to the rail and paced my way in.  After a quick look back at the turn, I could see there was nobody immediately behind me that could catch me, so I coasted the last 100 yards into the finish.  Kari cheered me in, and I was glad to call it a race.

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Pretty good swag at this race.  Added another mug to the collection.

After a short walk cool down, we headed back to the car as it was starting to rain.  We changed clothes and grabbed an umbrella and headed back to the awards ceremony.  It seemed like the rain was starting to make everyone edgy, even the event hosts too.   I grabbed a cup of the “hot” cider I asked the guy with the microphone when the award ceremony would be, he told me just go tell the lady in the tent that you earned a medal.  I did, she gave me my age group medal, and we split.  Except for the runners still out there trying to finish the 8 miler, all of us were done with being there.

 

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Results and Analysis

Here is a link to the results:  http://results.itsracetime.com/Results.aspx?CId=17095&RId=339&EId=4

I was surprised to see that I had finished 5th overall.  Had the Saturday and Sunday runners ran together, my time would have been good for 13th place overall.  I still would have placed first in the M50-54 age group.  Looking at my previous finishes, I placed better even though my time was third fastest.

2011 – 57:05 (slowest time) / 17th place (out of 466, top 3.6%) / 3rd place A/G

2012 – 56:13 (2nd fastest time) / 19th place (out of 505, top 3.7% – lowest placing) / 1st place A/G

2014 – 55:56 (fastest time) / 18th place (out of 640, top 2.8%) / 3rd place A/G

2017 – 56:33 (third fastest time) / 5th place (out of 300, top 1.6% – highest placing) / 1st place A/G

So it seems that I am destined to get third place in the age group next time (lol).  With only 300 in the 8 mile field on Sunday, I moved up in placement quite a bit, finishing in the top 1.6% of finishers.  I guess that makes it a pretty good day.

 

 

Ironman Louisville 2017 Race Recap

IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2017

October 14, 2017

Ironman Louisville – What a day!  After 30 weeks of training, straining, and complaining I have finally crossed the Fourth Street Live! finish line!  And what a finish line!  And to finish my third Ironman with my teammates once again makes it all the sweeter.  Here’s the recap of my week leading up to and my experiences and memories of Ironman Louisville 2017!  (Brace yourself –  Tons of photos and tons of paragraphs ahead!)

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INTRODUCTION:  My four other Gunner teammates and I felt a little too emboldened after having a great race at Ironman Lake Placid in 2016, so we kidded around and prompted each other to do another in 2017 until we got serious about it.  Louisville kept coming up as a strong possibility.  I knew Ironman Louisville would fall around the same time of year as the Chicago Marathon, so I had to make a decision – Ironman Louisville or the 40th anniversary of Chicago’s premier event.  When the gang decided that Lou was a go, Alex, Dave, Jeff and I all applied and Ironman Louisville was on our calendars.  The only Gunner missing was John, who had just welcomed a new baby to his growing family and would have to opt out this time.  He was definitely there in spirit!

Once again, I decided to use Don Fink’s Be Iron Fit 30-week competitive training plan with one major change.  I decided that the swim plan was too exhaustive for me, with three swims per week that were mostly 2500 yards or more.  My swim technique is by no means something to be proud of, but I think it’s about as good as it is going to get.  And after swimming 1:18 at IMLP, I felt that I could cut it back and still do well.  So I switched to the Just Finish swim plan of the book until I decided that was too much as well!  I ended up doing most of my swim training at home in my own pool, two 45 minute swims per week.  I focused on good technique during those swims and figured that if I could swim 45 minutes without being drained, swimming another 30 to 45 minutes in a race would be no problem.  

With that major change to the swim plan, I also decided that this year I was going to gun a little harder and step out of my comfort zone in other areas too.  I had a full aero disc wheel for my bike, but had chickened out using it in Lake Placid and in other races as well.  I finally just said screw it, and threw the dumb thing onto my bike and trained with it.  I rode that thing all spring, summer and fall and quickly came to the realization that I was way too conservative of a Ironman triathlete.  I’m using the disc wheel, dang it.  I almost chickened out using it on race day with good reason, but I held my ground.  

The links to my thirty weeks of training can be found here:  Race Week is Here!

The call to the gate has been played!  Now, off to the race!

 

WEDNESDAY:  The plan was to caravan as a group down to Louisville.  Jeff needed a ride, so he took the train to Mokena and I picked him up and we waited until Dave and his gang pulled into town.  A quick trip to Mindy’s restaurant for a dinner and off we went to Louisville.

We arrived in the city sometime after 1am and started to check into our hotel, the Embassy Suites Downtown.  That’s when we were greeted by one of Louisville’s finest – 30 cents guy.  This guy was asking for money, but the strange thing is he was only asking for 30 cents.  “It’s ONLY 30 CENTS” was his request, which he made over and over again.  Funny thing is I had 30 cents in my pocket, but there was no way I was giving it to him.  Pro tip:  If you’re going to beg for money, be nice about it.  And don’t be weird and request some stupid arbitrary number like 30 cents.  What the hell do you buy with 30 cents anyway?  

 

THURSDAY:  After breakfast with the gang, I did a quick 3 mile run. We then all walked to the Ironman village to register and pick up our packets. Seeing that my birthday was coming two days after the race, I decided to treat myself to some early birthday gifts.  After buying a cycling jersey, tri kit, zippered hoodie, two t-shirts, a hat, a visor, a long sleeve tech shirt, and two coffee mugs, I decided that was plenty for now and to save some for the finisher’s jacket on Monday.  

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Walking to the Athlete Village

 

After exiting the Ironman store, we were just in time for the Athlete Briefing, a course talk that they say is mandatory, but it’s not like they take attendance.  It pays to go to it though, as each course is different, and there were some changes to the swim start at Ironman Louisville.  Not long into it, we encountered weirdo number two.  I wish I had taken his picture, but he appeared to be a somewhat inebriated version of Tulio from “The Road to El Dorado” and Dave Navarro.  

 

This weirdo’s M.O. was to stand on the outside of the Athlete Village and stare at us.  He later made entry and stood and listened to the course talk as well, like the drafting rule changes were the best advice he had ever heard.  Maybe he was considering a last minute entry into the race.  Last I saw of him, he was doing chin-ups on a parkway tree.  

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Watching the non-Mike Reilly voice of Ironman Louisville, Dave Ragsdale.  He did a great job.  Apparently Alex was too cool to wear his backpack like the rest of his Gunner teammates.

 

We did a little course reconnaissance, seeing that the transition area and the Swim Out was nearby.  I kind of wish we hadn’t looked at the water because we saw a bunch of floating logs and debris in the water, and of particular note a group of about six or so fish.  Yes, I know that there are fish in the water.  But these things were insanely HUGE!!!  They looked almost prehistoric, and moved their mouths super slow, almost like they were silently telling us that they planned to dine well on Sunday morning.  

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Their mouths were literally big enough to swallow a softball.  I’m not kidding.

 

After a late lunch at an Italian place on Fourth Street Live (I had the spaghetti pie), we decided to drive the bike course.  If looking at the water was a mistake, we should have also skipped the bike course drive.  It was not what I was expecting.  Rolling hills in Illinois must mean something totally different in Kentucky, because these things were relentless and looked horrible.  Nothing we could do about it at this point.  It was probably a good idea to see what we were dealing with, but it certainly didn’t look like fun.

 

FRIDAY:  I got up and ran a four mile out and back on the run course and thankfully found it to be pleasurable, i.e. no hills. Now it seemed like Louisville was being taken over by Ironman triathletes and their families.  It was getting crowded and the excitement was starting to build.  We attended the athlete welcoming ceremony on Fourth Street Live and were treated to a pretty decent band and a really inspirational video about some of our fellow Ironman competitors.  

Dinner was at TGIFriday’s, and I stayed up and greeted Kari and Ben who arrived late.

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Four Gunners enjoying the welcome ceremony.

 

SATURDAY:  Kari and I got up early and had breakfast with Jeff. He talked me into doing the optional practice swim and I’m glad I did.  It was a simple ten to fifteen minute dip, but it always helps me realize that the swim course isn’t anything to worry about.  The water temp was mild, free of debris and man eating fish. Upon getting out of the water, I ran a mile with Ben, who had just returned from his own run.

Upon getting back to the hotel, I double checked my gear bags.  

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After debating about what to wear last week, I decided that I would stay true to the Gunner team and wear the team tri kit.  I brought the water shoes so that I could walk without stepping in triathlete piss that covered the path to the Swim Start.  I’m glad I did.
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Nothing special here.  I opted for the white arm warmers made from tube socks over the black long sleeve cycling shirt.
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The weather looked to be cool and possibly rainy, so I threw in this windbreaker that I bought at Dick’s on Friday.  Once again, I’m glad I did because I grabbed it and used it later on the run.
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I added a short and long sleeve team shirt in case I wanted to change, but I ended up staying in the kit.  I drank some of the Gatorade, and to my surprise had only enough of the baby powder to put in one shoe.  I opted for the visor over the hat.  I need to make this simpler.  There’s too many choices.
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Stopping traffic to take a group photo.  Jeff, Alex, me and Dave (l-r).

After packing up, our group walked to transition to rack our bikes and drop off our bags.  About 3/4 of the way there, I realized that Ben was carrying the Bike Gear Bag, and I had thought Kari had the Run Gear bag.  She wasn’t carrying it.  Oops.  Just like that I had my first freakout of the day.  Did I leave it in the hotel room?  On the elevator?   In the lobby?  On a street corner?  Kari was kind enough to walk back to the hotel, find it in the room and grab it.  All was good with the world again.  It’s a good thing I am married to one of the greatest sherpa’s of all time.

My gear bags were in a great spot, third row deep and all the way down at the end, thanks to the row ending with my bib number:  2400.  That made it super easy to find.

We stopped at a pizza place for dinner and then headed home to get off our feet and chill out for the night.  It was race day eve!

 

SUNDAY RACE DAY!

The alarm went off at 4 am, and I got up and took a shower.  I don’t usually do that, but I took Dave’s advice and let it wake me up.  I felt pretty good.  I got dressed, ate a bagel and some banana and gathered up my Morning Clothes bag and headed down to the lobby to meet up with the crew.  

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Looking mostly awake, but slightly terrified.

 

We shuffled our way to transition and checked our gear – added water bottles, checked the tires, made sure our gear bags were still there – then it was off to body marking.  I think body marking is somewhat strange and useless.  I guess it makes it easier to identify our bodies if we drown, crash off a cliff, or have a major grabber on the run.  Oh well, I try to have fun with it and I requested my usual smiley face on the calf.  That’s about as close as I will get to getting an Ironman tattoo.  

Louisville had somewhat of a unique rolling swim start that underwent a change for 2017.  It was still a rolling start, but instead of a first come/first serve method of getting in line, you self-seeded yourself into a grouping based on your predicted swim finish time.  I was overthinking this too much, because my swim PR from last year at Lake Placid would have put me in the 1:20 group, but I also knew and expected that the Louisville current aided swim would make me faster, and I should possibly get in with a faster group.  That morning Dave opted to go into the faster group and I played it conservative and stuck with the 1:20 to 1:30 group with Jeff.  My thinking was that I would rather swim around and pass others than have faster swimmers swim over me.  

As we approached the dock where we enter, I could hear Ben yelling for me even with my ear plugs in.  I ditched my water shoes and Jeff and I opted to join the line of the swimmers jumping off the closest dock.  “Why should I swim an extra 10 yards?” was my thinking.  I waved to Ben and Kari and then jumped in and started my journey.

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Jeff and I acknowledging our superfans.
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I hesitated before jumping in because I didn’t want to cannonball the girl in front of me.  Looks like Jeff beat me into the water!  I’m already in fourth place!  Geronimo!

 

THE SWIM

2.4 Miles > 1:09:18 > 78th in M50-54 A/G > 716th Male > 957th Overall

Equipment:  Blue Seventy Reaction wetsuit > Speedo Rx smoke goggles > Hearos swim earplugs > EPIX Custom Triathlon Kit (all day) > Garmin Forerunner 910XT (all day)

As soon as I was horizontal in the water I felt at ease and in control.  The water was slightly cooler than it had been the day before in the practice swim, but it felt perfect.  I reminded myself to dial it back for about 10-15 minutes and make sure I don’t get above a perceived Z2 effort.  The course has you swimming upstream around Towhead Island and then a little further into the Ohio River until you reach the turn buoy.  Just as we passed the island, it seemed like the water temp dropped about 5-10 degrees.  I saw another athlete post a similar reaction, so I know I wasn’t misperceiving that.  A little after I made my way over to the turn buoy I felt it warm up again.  Not sure what was going on with that.  There was a little bit of choppiness to the water in the last third of the swim, but I just made sure to rotate in the water a little more and had no issues with it.

After a little contact turning around that first buoy, I began the remaining 2/3’s of the trip back.  I’m terrible when it comes to sensing slight changes in the wind and apparently the current as well, but I could tell that I was quickly closing in on the bridges we had to swim under.  It was no time until I got past the last bridge and could spot Joe’s Crab Shack, which was near the Swim Out.  I started swimming a little harder in that last 10 minutes and was amazed when I saw my watch time of 1:09, a PR by almost 10 minutes.  

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My Garmin swim map.  I’m amazed at how “straight” I swam.  Most of the jagged parts were due to me avoiding groups of other swimmers.

 

The Ironman Louisville swim was without a doubt the most painless, cramp-free, quickest and most enjoyable of the three Ironman swims I have done.  There were no fish, no logs, no odors, and nothing that was unexpected.  It was awesome.  

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SWIM > BIKE TRANSITION – T1

11:14

After getting out of the water I immediately saw Ben and Kari and most of our cheer crew.  I jogged up to the wetsuit strippers and let them do the job.  Then it was off to T1 and find my Bike Gear bag and my bike for the next part of the race.  

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On my way to T1.
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Found my pile of money (bike) and headed to Bike Out.

 

THE BIKE

112 Miles > 6:12:14 > 78th Place M50-54 A/G > 698th Place Male > 840th Place Overall

Equipment:  Specialized Shiv Pro Triathlon Bike > Specialized Trivent Expert Cycling Shoes > FLO aero wheels 30 front/Full back > Louis Garneau Superleggera Aero Helmet > Garmin Edge 500 Bike Computer > Feetures Mini Crew Light Cushion Socks > Homemade Tube Sock Arm Warmers > GU Salted Caramel and Vanilla Bean Energy Gel in Two GU Energy Gel Flasks > Salt Stick Dispenser with Salt Capsules

The bike ride had been on my mind since driving it on Friday.  We had seen the hills on the two looped portion and they did not look all that friendly.  But the main player of the day would not turn out to be the hills, it was the weather.  

We had been keeping an eye on the weather for a couple of weeks, and it was shaping up to be a hot day in the 80’s until the last few days prior to Sunday.  The temps were predicted to be much cooler, which was welcome, however that also meant that a cold front was expected midday, bringing gusts of around 30 mph and strong sustained winds for the day, as well as the chance for rain and thunderstorms.  The thunderstorms didn’t materialize, but we did have light rain and strong gusts.  

I had made the decision much earlier in training that I wasn’t going to wimp out anymore by not using my full disc aero wheel, and I had racked my bike with that full disc wheel for the race.  And even though I managed to somehow stay upright in strong crosswinds, it was not easy.  I found myself several times leaning very aggressively into the crosswind, hoping not to get blown off my intended line.  It was hard.

Heading out of Louisville was amazingly gentle, a fast ride made possible by a flat road and a super strong tailwind.  The first ten miles I had averaged about 21 mph and it was easy riding.  

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Flat and fast along the banks of the Ohio River on River Road leaving Louisville.

 

I finally got to the turn for the loops and felt the crosswind for the first time.  And then the hills started.  After riding them a little I realized that they really weren’t all that bad.  Compared to Wisconsin and Lake Placid, these were not as bad.  The climbs were pretty short in duration, and there were plenty of screaming down hills thrown in as well.  My Garmin registered a top speed of 41 mph, and there were several descents in which I hit 30+ mph.  

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Heading through LaGrange for the first time and being greeted by the gang.  I was feeling pretty good here.

 

Upon getting to LaGrange, the weather was warming up.  I had tossed the arm warmers in the transition in town and could feel myself sweating a little more.  My Garmin said the temperature had risen into the low 80’s, but I don’t think it got that warm.  I would say mid to upper 70’s.  It lasted maybe thirty minutes and then it clouded over, got cooler and started to sprinkle.  

The rain was pesky, never really completely wetting the roadway to the point were I felt it was a concern.  But now that it was raining slightly, and the temps had dropped, I went from being slightly warm to being uncomfortably cool.  It wasn’t unbearable, but I did regret not keeping my arm warmers.  

At Mile 45 I found myself riding mostly alone and got a little concerned that I missed the second loop turn.  I finally caught up with the next rider, who was standing and pedaling, and I asked him if he was on his first or second loop.  He said he was on his first loop and that the turn for the second loop is still ahead.  Immediately after asking him the question though, I realized why he was standing – he was urinating.  I almost laughed at him while he was responding to me, but I was able to contain myself.  Triathlon is weird.  

The turn for the second loop finally came and off I went back toward LaGrange.  I stopped at the aid station there and found the toilets (I don’t pee myself, although there were times I considered it).  Upon exiting I was greeted by a volunteer who had a table of miscellaneous stuff – pretzel sticks, chips, grapes, and other stuff.  But it was the Vasoline that caught my eye.  I had forgotten to apply some Glide in T1, so I grabbed a stick full of the goo and stuck it in my pants.  I rode pretty comfortably after that.  The volunteer said the Vasoline was pretty popular.  No doubt.  I also stopped at the Bike Special Needs and grabbed the little yellow jacket I bought.  I thought I might need it again, seeing that I had already seen the temps drop once.

After getting through the second loop and turning back west, I could see that the weather ahead of me looked awful.  And it was really windy at this point.  Around the 90 mile marker I passed Jeff and said hello.  He said hi back, but didn’t appear to be in the mood to talk.  We must of rode a similar pace back because he later came out of T2 right after me.  

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Finishing up the final mile or so of the ride.

 

I pushed a pretty hard pace between 90 and 105 miles or so, but then decided to relax a little on the rougher River Road and spin my legs to recover for the run a little bit.  I was pretty glad to come back into Louisville and get off the bike.  It was a great ride, especially considering the brutal weather and the challenging rollers, but I was glad to be heading in for the run.  Had I not stopped in four of the aid stations, I probably would have saved 10 minutes on that ride.  In all, the bike course is challenging and technical, but plenty of fun to ride.

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BIKE > RUN TRANSITION – T2

9:03

I was amazed to once again see Ben yelling for me there at the end of the ride.  He really did a great job making sure to be loud and get my attention and cheer me on.  Every time  seeing him and the others was a big emotional lift.  

I dismounted and started the walk into transition, where along the way I handed my pile of money (bike) off to some kid who couldn’t have been more than 10, and continued my post-ride shuffle into the change tent.  I could see the amused look on many of the spectators getting a good chuckle at our hunched over and hobbled walk.  I was even laughing at some of the others as well.

In my bag I had packed a large baby wipe and used it to towel myself off.  Even if it was just for the refreshing smell, it made me feel better.  I grabbed my bib belt, shoved my feet into my shoes, and opted for the visor instead of the hat.  I kept the rain jacket in my back pocket, and I am very glad I did.

 

THE RUN

26.2 Miles > 4:05:07 > 24th Place M50-54 A/G > 341st Place Male > 434th Place Overall

Equipment:  Boco Visor > Nishiki Weather/Wind Resistant Cycling Jacket > Hoka One One Clifton 3 > Fuel Belt Bib Belt with Pouch

When I came out of the change tent I was surprised to see Jeff.  I had passed him on the bike and never saw him pass me back, so he must have been right behind me.  He was trying to determine if waiting for a portable toilet to open up was in his best interest, and I saw him jog off to a set further up from Run Out.  But he was right there with me, and I knew he was going to be chasing me down soon.  

I was barely out of T2 when I saw Dave’s son Maxwell, who was cheering like mad.  He was telling me that I only had a little run of 26 miles to go.  Funny kid.  Kari and Ben saw me again and I advised them that Jeff was right behind me.  They took this bit of information somewhat nonchalantly, and it dawned on me they new exactly where everyone was at.  “Yeah, we know he’s behind you.  Now get going!”  

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Already tired of running and I haven’t even left T2 yet.

 

Kari and Ben had discovered that Louisville has a bike share program and decided to hop a couple of bikes and chase me around the first part of the first loop.  I would get up the road a little and then out of the blue Ben would yell “GO Papa!” which usually took me by surprise.  He even caught me once coming out of the porta-john, at which I just shook my head.

Right after that potty break, I saw that Jeff had caught up with me.  It was then he said he had crashed on the bike!  No wonder he wasn’t up for small talk out on the bike course when I had seen him earlier.  He said that some dope had passed him and then stopped right in front of him, causing him to crash and being tossed over his handlebars.  He ended up with a pretty good sized bump on his forehead, but seemed to be doing okay.  

Jeff and I jogged together for most of the first four miles of the first loop out, but my desire to walk the aid stations and multiple porta-john breaks caused him to gain a little distance on me.  I had been passing some gas quite a bit, a common occurrence which many of the other racers also experienced from the sound of it.  The saying in triathlon is “Never Trust a Fart,” and I had already “trusted” about a half dozen of them, so I was playing it safe by continually wasting my time in the toilet.  But after awhile, I must have gotten most of the gas out of me and never felt the need to go again other than pee breaks.  I was staying hydrated pretty well, and was content with my hydration and nutrition plan on the run.  I was hitting the Coke and chicken broth, and eating the pretzels/potato chips and bananas when I felt like it.  I kept up the gel intake at every 30 minutes as well.  I never ran out of energy on the course.  

Jeff knew that one of his former bosses was in the race and they met up on the run course somewhere around the 7 mile mark.  I had started to creep back up on Jeff, and when I saw them jogging together and sharing their experiences of the day, I decided to try to sneak by and pass them unnoticed.  But Jeff saw me and gave me some well wishes for the rest of the race.  It was at that point that I thought he might be struggling a little.  

Up next for me was seeing Alex, and I jogged with him for a little while.  I came to realize that he was about 5 miles from being a two time Ironman and I was still on my first loop.  We didn’t stride together for long, and he was off to finish.

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Alex was gunning for the finish, and I was hamming it up on the first loop.

 

It wasn’t long until I was also near the finish; however, I had to make the turn for my second loop.  It’s somewhat of a sickening feeling when the halfway turnaround point is very close to the finish line.  I was feeling really good at this point and figured that if I was still doing well with 10K to go, I would probably start my kick.  And that’s what I did.  I got lots of “great pace, Chris” and “nice run” from the spectators, who could read my name on the front of my bib.  I did like the fact that the fans along the course could cheer for you personally.  It freaks you out the first time, and then you figure it out.  

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Another picture of me running, just because I kind of like this one.

 

The turn at the end of the out loop was near the 20 mile mark and it was now go time for me.  I felt really good. I picked up my pace and was running just under 8 minute miles and passing a good number of runners.  Around the 22 mile mark I drank a little chicken broth and it wasn’t long after that that it seemed like it wasn’t settling so well.  I started to get slightly nauseated, and I burped a couple of times, which seemed to alleviate the nausea.  When I hit the 24 mile mark, I was now pretty comfortable.  I had ran this out and back on Friday, and had done this run back once already in the race.  It was time to hit it.  I had set a goal for myself pre-race that I wanted to try to break 4 hours in the run.  I knew it would be close because my half marathon split was a little over 2 hours.  But I knew that I had pushed pretty hard the second half, and was kicking to the end.

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I was dueling it out with this girl for the last mile.  She “chicked” me in the chute.  Maxwell was the first to see me approaching and was yelling for me to get to the end.

 

As I approached the finish chute I took a look at my watch and noticed that I was clearly going to be under 12 hours, far exceeding my goal of being sub 12:30.  The emotions of finishing started to hit me.  I can get a little emotional during the race – finishing the swim, and the start of the run both got me a little choked up.  But coming in to this finish line was amazing!  It was supercharged with excitement, and I was flying high on adrenaline.  As I came down Fourth Street Live! to the finish it was almost a blur.  I couldn’t hear any music, or even the announcer introducing me and saying the words “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”  Just as I was crossing I almost got tripped up on the rug and almost did a complete faceplant!  But I was able to collect myself and finish the race, even if I was an emotional wreck.

The Ironman Louisville run course couldn’t have been better.  Flat and fast and the volunteers were awesome.  A four hour and five minute marathon after biking and swimming 114.4 miles seemed impossible to me.  4:05 is quicker than some of the stand alone marathons I have run.  Even I’m impressed.  Just like the slogan says, “Anything Is Possible.”  

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THE FINISH

140.6 Miles > 11:46:55 > 43rd M50-54 A/G > 479th Male Overall > 600th place Overall Finisher

Equipment:  A cot, a blanket, a bottle of water, Base Salt, and an Ironman Louisville Finisher’s Medal

I ended Ironman Lake Placid 2016 in pretty good shape.  I was able to walk, talk, and do other stuff without much effort.  This time was the complete opposite.  I was a blubbering mess.  I wanted to keep moving, but the finisher chute was quite short.  My finish line catcher was amazing, and stayed with me while I tried to figure out what the heck was going to happen to me.  At some point I saw Ben and Kari and walked over to greet them at the fence.  I let it out.  The catcher asked if this was “normal” – lol.  I handed my hat and finisher’s shirt to Kari and tried to collect myself.  But I could tell I was starting to get chilled in the low to mid 50 degree temps.  I asked the catcher to walk me to the medical tent.

Once inside the medical tent I was directed to a cot, had my blood pressure taken (110/70, 80 bpm) was told to lie down and had a blanket placed over me.  I was now in full shiver mode and from my prone position could see that there was IV bags hanging all around.  As I laid there wondering when they were going to give me the IV, I came to the conclusion that they probably weren’t.  They had provided me a water bottle, and I still had my Base Salt container, so I figured I might as well start getting my electrolytes up on my own.  I started licking the salt and trying to absorb it sublingually, and kept pushing the water.  I suppose I laid there for thirty minutes and finally sat up.  The shivering was over, and I was feeling better.  My nurse Stacy walked me to the porta-john and I knew at that point I was doing much better.  

I was allowed to keep the blanket and was very thankful for that as it was 50 degrees out and the wind of the day had not subsided at all.  As I walked out, I took a look over at the recovery tent where there was more food and drink, but I could see that Ben and Kari were waiting for me on the other side of the fence.  The area where the Morning Clothes bags were being held was nearby and I went over and retrieved mine.  I met my wife and son and said lets go back to the hotel.

After a shower and a change of clothes, we walked back to the finish area and had dinner at TGIFriday’s.  I needed some salty carbs and protein, so I ordered some soup, a steak and fries.  I ate what I could and was feeling much better.  

Since this race didn’t have a hard finish at midnight, and the fact that it was cold and my left leg was getting super sore, we decided to pack it in and not watch some of the final finishers.  I kind of regret not sticking around for what is usually the highlight of the day, but I had no more to give to the day, and my crew was also tired of chasing me around.   It was time for bed.

 

MONDAY

I was anxious to get up and get breakfast so we could get over to the Ironman store in the Athlete Village.  I wanted to get that finisher’s jacket that Ironmen seem to covet for some reason.  Kari and I flagged down weirdo number 3, a cabbie who was done with his shift for the night, but decided he could drive us to the Great Lawn where the Athlete Village was located.  He was a little strange with his conversations about once owning a yachting jacket like the America’s Cup guys use, but at least he could give us a lift.

I expected that there would be a line and wasn’t let down.  It was pretty long, and since we had gotten there late I figured all of the jackets were probably sold out by now.  But we decided to stick it out, and since the awards ceremony was about to begin, we had something to occupy our time while we stood in line.  

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The line to get into the Ironman Store tent.  During the days leading up to the race they didn’t seem to give a damn about how many people were in the store.  But post-race, they would only let about 10 people in at a time.  Dumb.

 

Once inside the store, I found my jacket in my size and we bought a couple of t-shirts for the girls and made a beeline out of there.  It was time to check out of the hotel and hit the road for home.  

 

POST RACE ANALYSIS

Ironman Louisville was awesome.  It produced another personal best for me and a time that I am really proud of.  I’m amazed that I went from being in 992nd place overall after the swim, to 840th overall after the bike, to 434th overall after the run.  I had moved up hundreds of places after that awesome run.  600th out of 2,273 finishers is also pretty awesome.  

I highly recommend Ironman Louisville for anyone looking to find a fast and contact free swim, a challenging but interesting bike course, and a flat and fast run with an awesome finish line like no other.  

 

THE GUNNERS

Alex:  10:14:57 > 5th Place M18-24 A/G  PODIUM FINISH > 155th Place Overall > 2 time Ironman Finisher

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The kid is a natural.  Look at that smile – HE LOVES THIS SPORT!!!

 

Dave:  11:40:20 > 41st Place M50-54 A/G > 548th Place Overall > 3 time Ironman Finisher

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The All-Time Undisputed King of Ironman.

 

Jeff:  12:14:27 > 107th Place M45-49 A/G > 802nd Place Overall > 2 time Ironman Finisher

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A legend at overcoming bad luck.  I’m pretty sure he PR’d all three disciplines at Ironman Louisville.

 

THANKS

As usual, I have many to thank.  My friends at work, who probably regret asking about my training once I start answering.  Thanks Lou, Micah, Jeff, Julie, Mary, Tracy, and the others, and especially my Super Fan, Carl!  I’m still not getting the tattoo, Carl.

Thanks go to the Mueller’s, who like us had to sacrifice to make sure Jeff could get his training in, especially with moving to Downtown Chicago, and having a recent high school graduate off to college in late August.  Jill, Emma and Charlie, thanks for coming to the race and supporting us and chasing us around.

Without Carla securing our hotel needs for every race we do, and doing such a great job at it, we would probably be staying in a dive hotel an hour outside of town.  Instead we had wonderful suites in downtown Louisville, right next to the finish line.  Carla, you are the best.  And to the other DeForest’s, Max and Zach, and Lizzy and Alex’s girlfriend Kennedy, thanks for cheering as loud as you did.  Seeing you guys was great.

To my son Ben, it was a great relief having you there.  Thanks for chasing me around the course, running with me before the race, and going and retrieving my pile of money (bike) and gear bags, and putting up with such a long day of Gunner racing.  I really appreciate it.  

And lastly, a huge thanks to my endurance partner in life, my wife Kari.  Thanks for keeping me on task during training, allowing me to go do those crazy long rides all the while we were loading our lives with a new home, a recent college graduate, a second year college student, and a busy high schooler in a competitive marching band who was also learning to drive.  Thanks for being there for me as always.  I love you.

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Beauty and the Beast, (r to l).

 

Thanks for reading!  On to my next adventure – my first Boston Marathon in 2018!  

 

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P.S. – I was searching the lost and found photos and was surprised to see a picture of weirdo #2 walking on the bike course.  Tulio and Dave Navarro, am I right?

 

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Ironman Louisville 2017 – DAY DONE!

2017 Manteno Sprint Triathlon Race Report

When:  07/29/2017, 8:00am

Where:  Manteno, Illinois

Distance:  Sprint:  400 yard Swim, 11 mile Bike, 3.1 mile Run

Results:  1:02:40 – 9th overall, 1st place M50-54

I expected to be underwhelmed with this race a little.  There wasn’t much information to be found online as I looked into this race.  The club that hosted it doesn’t really have a website or Facebook page that I could find, the host location (Manteno Sportsman’s Club) had just one post on their FB page, and the sign-up website didn’t list the race distances or provide a course map at all.  I was kind of in the dark about it all.  I ended up emailing the listed contact on the registration site and asked for info.  A day later I was emailed the athlete guide.  At least I now knew when packet pick-up was and when transition opened.  When I did sign up for the race I asked my wife Kari if she would be interested in doing the duathlon.  She committed and we joined the field.

I set my alarm for 4:30 am, but had a really restless night of sleep.  I got up and got ready, while Kari groaned.  We hit the road around 5:30 am and drove the 25 miles or so to Manteno, Illinois.

After arriving, we picked up our packets and walked our junk to transition.  It was a rack it where you like transition, so I chose an end rack location not far from a large tree for ease of finding the bike.

I decided to burn off some race anxiety and ran a couple loops of the run out course.  After that, Kari and I walked around trying to stay warm on a somewhat cool 63 degree summer morning.

Race day water temp was 80 degrees, so no wetsuit.  I did see one guy with one on, but he also had a white swim cap and I remembered hearing that a guy with a white cap would be in the water helping the unsure beginners in the water.

There were four swim waves – Men 39 and Under / Men 40 and Over / Ladies 39 and Under / Ladies 40 and Over.  I was in the second wave and sized up my competition.  I didn’t really see anyone in the M50-54 age group, but I knew there had to be a few.  There was a guy in transition who was a first timer and I answered a few of his questions in transition.  He approached me on the beach and asked more questions.  I was glad I could offer him some advice.  He was a little nervous.  I hope he did okay.  I didn’t see him at the finish.

SWIM:  400 Yards, 9:07, Average pace 2:17, 3rd in A/G, 58th Overall

The horn blew and I waded into the water as others ran.  The water was perfect.  Smooth and a comfortable temp.  We got to the one turn buoy in fairly good time, and I was feeling pretty good.  There was some bunching up, and some minor contact, but it settled down and we all began swimming straight back into a blinding morning sun.  I felt like I had a great swim, but was surprised to see my time in the results.  I guess that includes the run to T1, but I know I swim faster than that.  I got to T1 and spent 1:16 getting ready for the ride.

BIKE:  11 Miles, 30:14, Average speed 21.8 mph, 2nd in A/G, 10th Overall

I got to T1 and decided to go without socks.  I got ready as fast as I could and took off running out to Bike Out.  Once on the bike I took off.   I hit 27 mph leading out of the event site and was amazed how easy it felt.  A few turns later I was out of the town and in cornfields, passing numerous first wave starters and most of the duathlon competitors.  I got passed by one guy on the bike, right around the 0.5 mile mark.  He and I left transition together, but he mounted his bike before the bike mount line and the referee told him to dismount and mount after the line.  I wonder if he got a 2 minute penalty.  But he blew by me, and I was still doing 25 mph at that point.  He must have been ticked.

The course had two hairpin turnarounds, which weren’t that big of a deal.  I had to slow for a slower rider at the second one, but I ramped it back up quickly.  The day had started to become slightly windy, but there were enough turns where you weren’t dealing with a headwind for a long stretch of time.  There was a cop standing at the bottom of the hill with a radar gun.  I went by him at 27 mph.  Later on at the awards ceremony, they crowned the faster rider at 35 mph I think.  They gave him an award.

I hustled back to T2 and made the quick change to running in 1:14.

RUN:  3.1 miles, 20:46, 6:42 per mile pace ave., 1st in A/G, 8th Overall

I started running and immediately wondered if my heart was going to explode.  It didn’t and I quickly settled into race pace.  I passed a guy about 1/2 mile into the run and he said I was crushing it.  He probably thought I was crazy, because I certainly did.  But I just started going and picking off runners one by one.  It wasn’t until about the 2 mile mark that I saw two guys running together in my age group.  They said I should join their old man group and run with them, but I gracefully declined.  I kept my pace going and they didn’t try to match it.  I’m glad they didn’t, because the results showed that I beat them both by 19 seconds.

FINISH TIME:  1:02:40, 1st in A/G, 9th Overall

After finishing, I recovered with some water and walking around.  I found friend Brian Swift, a para-triathlete who had done the swim portion of the relay, while his kids did the bike and run.  Very inspiring to watch him do the swim.

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Not long after that I grabbed my camera out of transition and went to watch Kari finish the race.  We cooled down and had great conversation with a few others we knew and some new triathlete friends we met.

After getting some pizza and a banana, I decided to check the results and was shocked to see that I had finished 1st in the age group.  At the awards ceremony, I took my place on the highest podium, a first for me, and received my award, a drinking glass etched with 1st place on it.

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I’ve won 1st place in my age group before, but never got to stand on the top tier of the finisher’s podium!

CONCLUSION:  

Even with my questions about how well run the race would be, it turned out to be a great day.  The venue was more than adequate, the lake was very nice, and the bike and run course was all on pavement that was in great shape.  And Kari confided in me later that she actually had fun!  I would definitely do this one again.

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Two happy campers ready to head home.

RACE RESULTS:  http://results.itsracetime.com/results.aspx?CId=17095&RId=276

 

Short Run on a Long Day 2017 Race Recap

When:  6/21/2016, 7:00pm

Where:  Frankfort, Illinois

Distance:  5K

Results:  20:45 Official, 20:42 Garmin watch – 16th overall, 3rd place M50-54

I went into the my fourth running of this race with low expectations.  I haven’t really focused on any sort of short speed work due to training for Ironman Louisville, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give a 5K a try.  And by try I mean gunning as hard as I can.  But the race ended up being somewhat educational for me.

For this race I decided to wear my heart rate strap and monitor my heart rate through the 5K to see if my max HR is anywhere near the 220 bpm minus your age.  This method is an easy way to determine your max heart rate, which you can then use to set your heart rate zones to train in.  However, many don’t trust the calculation for some reason.  I’m 53 years old, so using the 220-age formula I should have a max heart rate of 167.

So if you are going to use a 5K to see where your max heart rate is you should do a little warm up then go all out at max effort for 5K.  So I strapped on my Garmin and the heart rate monitor strap and let it rip.  Here’s what it told me:

 

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Not sure why there is a 10 second difference in the moving time and the elapsed time.  That may explain the watch time vs. the official time.  Maybe I lost a little satellite connection somewhere on the run.  I did not stop for anything until the finish line.

 

And the 5K field test revealed a peak max heart rate of 169 bpm, with an average of 163 bpm.  And the times that I glanced at my watch during the race I usually saw 166 bpm staring back at me.  I guess the 220-age is accurate enough for me.

 

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I was also surprised to see that the Garmin nailed the 3.1 mile distance exactly.  

 

Okay, enough of the scientific stuff.  Back to the race.  I got there much later than I usually do and parked in the neighborhood next to the park where the race starts and ends near my friend Dian’s house.  Lo and behold, Dian was actually outside!  We chatted up ourselves a little bit and she thought the race had started already.  Silly Dian.  I explained that the runners will warm up prior to the race.  She thought that was nuts.  Gave me a chuckle though.

Over at the park, the usual suspects were there:  Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club made a strong showing, Tinley Track & Trail was also present.  Mr. Mustache Runner guy was there, with his shirt tucked in as usual.  And many more familiar faces.  It wasn’t until the race was almost ready to go when Nate Troester showed up at the start line, and I knew our eventual winner was finally here.

The guy that starts the race stands right in the middle of the road, orders us not to run him over, tells us not to start until he says “GO!” then proceeds to say “Okay, let’s go” prior to saying “On your mark, get set, GO!”  Park district run races can be really strange. In the old days, races were run by runners who kind of knew what they were doing, and these park district guys don’t look like they run much.  Anyway, at GO! we all took off and tried to avoid the dumb cherry picker thing in the path of the race route that has a guy up there with a camera.  So dumb.  You never see the pictures on their website or Facebook page, but damn, they got to have a cherry picker right on the road with a camera guy taking pictures that no one will ever see.

I had picked my mark, a guy named Chris S. who is in my age group and started just in front of me.  I decided to hold his pace for as long as I could.  That didn’t last long.  I might have held on to him for about a half mile before I could tell I had maxed out my heart rate without even looking at my watch.  I watched him pull away.  That move of trying to stay with him got me through the first mile with a 6:18 split.  NO BUENO!  So much for the negative split strategy.  He kicked my butt again, as usual.

After the first mile I decided to dial it back a touch and find my race pace comfort zone and found myself running with a guy wearing a Ironman Racine 70.3 t-shirt.  We were pacing together pretty well.  We turned off the path together and on to the side street to head back and about 1.5 miles into it we got passed by some kid.  “Damn kids” I muttered, and Racine man agreed.

We ran together until the 2 mile split (6:47 min/mile) and he started to pull just a little bit ahead.  I tried to match pace but I had spent too much energy on that first mile.  He pulled ahead about 50 yards with about a 1/2 mile to go and that’s how it ended.  The third mile split was 6:53 min/mile for me.

I checked the race results and learned Racine man was in my age group.  He got 15th place overall, 2nd in the age group.  Since this park district run race only awards the top 2 finishers in each age group with a medal, whereas most races go three deep, I knew I wasn’t going to add a medal to my medal rack this time around.  You win some, you lose some.

Here is page one the results:  Shortrun

Overall, it was a good race for me.  I found that the 220-minus age max heart rate calculation is nearly exact to my actual field tested heart rate.  I got to race some good competition.  And there was pizza at the finish line.

 

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A tie dye participant shirt.  Yay.  

 

2017 ET Batavia Triathlon Race Report

When:  6/11/2017

Where:  Batavia, Illinois

Distances:  400 yard Swim, 14.7 mile Bike, 4.1 mile Run

Time:  1:19:01

Back for the fourth time to do the race in Batavia.  I really enjoy this one.  It’s a quick swim, rolling hills bike route with plenty of time to go fast, and a flat and fast trail run.

This week I experimented somewhat with pushing my limits a little.  I decided to use my full disc aero wheel on the bike, something I chickened out with a year ago.  I also decided to swim without the wetsuit, thanks to the water temperature being just warm enough for my comfort level.  I’m glad I didn’t have to fight with it to get it on and off.  That is a chore.

The temperature of the morning was comfortable, but the day would get warm later.  It wasn’t bad on the bike, but I did start to feel it somewhat on the run.

 

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Satisfied with my pre-race transition set up.  

 

SWIM – 7:16 minutes, 208th overall

The swim started well for me.  I felt like my pace was good.  I got to the turn and made it to the backside of the swim and kept swimming.  It is pretty shallow in this part of the man-made, sandy bottom public swimming hole, and most people walk the back side of it.  I decided to keep swimming until about 10 yards from the turn for the second lap.  Once swimming again, I found myself in a much crowded field of swimmers, as more had joined in on the fun, thanks to a time trial type start.  But I made it through and started walking the back part of it earlier, just like everyone else.

T1 – 1:44 minutes

Getting to T1 was quick, no need to fuss with removing the wetsuit.  Grabbed my bike gear and bike and was gone to Bike Out.

BIKE – 40:58 minutes, 21.5 MPH average, 36th overall

There is a sharp climb right away which sent my heart rate into the red, where it would stay for quite a while, most of the ride actually.  I really pushed myself on the ride and it paid off with a quick ride.  There was some cross wind, but it didn’t last long.  I ate a gel just into the first mile, and one more just before getting back to T2 to fuel for the run.

T2 – 1:18 minutes

RUN – 27:43 minutes, 6:46 average per mile, 27th overall

There was a slight deviation to the final mile of the run as the trail near a public works facility was under construction.  Fortunately, the detour had a nice downhill leading back to the bridge that takes you back over the Fox River and the trail on the other side to the finish.  The run was going well, but I was feeling the heat a little even though it was almost completely shaded.  I took water at the water station twice and splashed it on me and in me as best as I could.  I passed a lot of younger racers and not seeing hardly any in my 50-54 Age Group.  That’s because they were ahead of me!  There was one guy with 50 written on his calf.  I decided to pace with him for a little while and then pass him in the last mile if I could.  He had is bib on backwards, and I realized his bib was white, which meant he was in the duathlon (run/bike/run) race and not in the triathlon.  So, knowing that I wasn’t really competing with him, I decided to push tempo again and pass him.  He must of saw my 53 on my calf and he reacted.  Once we got to that downhill at about 3.25 miles, he took off.  I started to chuckle because I knew he was racing me even though I wasn’t competing with him in his event.  I slowly worked on catching up with him, but I knew that I didn’t have to worry about him.

When I got back to the finish, I cooled down and got some fluids in me.  I knew it would be a while before the award ceremony, so I decided to walk back to transition, take a shower, gather my bike and junk and take it to the car.  I then drove back to the VFW where the finish line area was located.

I decided to grab a couple pieces of pizza and check out the results.  Fourth in the age group – no award this year.  I was kind of expecting to finish a little higher than the 3rd place I won last year, but just didn’t have it in me.  Upon review the posted results online later in the day I realized my swim time did me in.  It was a full minute slower than last year!  I’m not really sure why that is.  It could be the wetsuit I guess, but I really did feel like I swam pretty well.  Oh well.  The swim ranking had me 208th overall.  That is really sad.  I also dropped in the overall ranking from 2016, from 23rd to 37th.  The guy that beat me for 3rd place beat me by 7 seconds.  One glimmer of hope, the 2nd place age group winner was a 50 year old, so he is the newcomer to the rank, whereas I am starting to age into the next group.  Not my day, I guess.  Maybe next year I will be kicking butt in the 55-59 A/G as the young gun.

 

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Still proud of my medal.  Glad to add it to the rack.

Here’s the link to the race results:  http://cc247.raceresults.space/2017/2017_ETBatavia_OA.htm

 

 

2017 Summertime Stride 5K Race Report

When:  6/3/2017, 8:30 am

Where:  Mokena, Illinois

Distance:  5K

Results:  20:57 Official, 10th overall, 10th Male overall, 1st place M50-54

http://www.thtiming.com/images/2017_stride_overall.pdf

When I show up for a 5K I tend to start scanning the people gathered around, looking for the usual suspects, the people I will key on as my competition.  Since school was officially over for the high schools, I figured I would see a handful of high school age runners, fresh off of their track seasons, and there were a few.  I also saw this kid who looked about 9 (the results indicate he was 11), and he had the “look.”  Short running shorts, a set of wrap around sunglasses, and New Balance shoes that looked like racing flats.  It was about 40 minutes until start and he went out for his warm up.  I knew a runner when I saw one.  I also saw a guy wearing a Calvin College Track Team singlet who looked fast as well (he was the eventual winner).  It wasn’t until I saw Nate Troester, a local guy who wins every race, that I knew for sure that I certainly wasn’t going to win this race!

My wife Kari joined me in this race as it is walking distance from our house.  We walked down to the park about 3/4 of a mile away and signed up.  It was starting to get warm, and the race start time of 8:30 am was not helping.  Much too late to start a summertime race, in my opinion.  I tried talking Kari into gunning from the start, but she’s happy to run the race her way.  I was already starting to build adrenaline for the start time.

I did some easy warm up and then headed to the start line.  I’m always amazed at the number of slow people and kids at the front of the line.  One guy said he’s staying back to let the rabbits go, but this guy was in the front as well.  I dislike the tight corral type starts.  They are too crowded, and filled with too many slowpokes at the front of the pack.

A couple of minutes later a horn sounded and we were off.  I was surprised that many of the kids were holding tempo pretty good at the beginning, but by the time we got a half mile into it the first small climb appeared, and they started to drop off.  It was also in that first half mile that I was surprised to see Nate Troester standing there clapping for everyone.  I guess he was just hanging around.  I was happy to see that I had just picked up a finisher’s spot!

At the first mile, a local kid named Merrigan was running along with me and not far off the first place female.  We went through the first mile in 6:25 pace and I thought she would be good.  But later I found out she had a sore knee from an earlier mishap and ended up dropping out.  I kept pace behind the first girl for the next mile, as I also chased the one grey haired guy up ahead of me.  He was moving pretty well and not showing any signs of letting up.

After the turn around, we climbed the few remaining hills and settled in for the last mile.  I caught the first place girl and passed her.  I could see the grey haired guy up ahead, but he was pulling away, as was the kid with the sunglasses.  That kid knew what he was doing, running the tangents and basically picking off more and more runners.

I tried using the last downhill to pick up pace, using it to pass an 8th grade kid, and then accelerate through the last turn for the last 10th of a mile.  I couldn’t catch anyone ahead of me, and there was no one directly behind me to worry about, so I glided in across the finish in 20:57.

I grabbed a water and dumped it over my head to cool down.  I then walked back to the turn and waited with my daughter Rebecca for Kari to finish.  She came by looking very strong, but I tried to tell her that she was getting out-kicked by a 5 year old!  She didn’t care.  To get beat by a 5 year old would have killed me.

When the results were posted I was surprised to see that I finished 10th, and first in my age group.  I would have bet that the grey haired guy ahead of me was in my age group.  It turns out he was 58!  Smoking fast for 58!  I also checked the results for Kari and learned that she medaled as well, taking 3rd in her a/g!  Well done!

In all, it’s a fun local race, and I thoroughly enjoyed the run with my wife.