Friday, April 25, 2008

Season Wrap-up: $94k raised by FW Team

Our Fort Worth Triathlon Team Coordinator (a truly awesome person who excels at her job) sent a final wrap-up for our Team:

You'll be happy to know that our team of 35 triathletes collectively raised $94,7 61! That's enough money to provide 189 families with monetary assistance through our financial aid program! So the next time you see one of your fellow alumni, be sure to say congrats to each other on helping The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society get one step closer to finding a cure!

You Trained, You Endured, You Achieved and You Mattered!

Thank you for making my job so much fun and rewarding!

Thank you Misty!

And thanks again to all of the Team Goodman supporters who made the real difference this season! You all rock!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Run

Team In Training brought something like 175 athletes to the Lone Start Triathlon. Seemingly, an equal number of TNT coaches, mentors, staff, and participant family members rounded out our numbers.

All of us running in the green and purple have a distinct competitive advantage. Because we're running in support of a cause that every one can get behind, we get support from voices known and unknown all along the way.

At no point in the race did I need the motive force of the "Go Team!" cheers more than I needed them on the run.

I came out of T2 as my watch chronograph ticked past four hours. I can do this, I thought to myself. A sub six hour race was within my reach.

Watch time was now 11:30 AM in the morning. The day was heating up. The forecast called for a high of 85 degrees. It was humid.

The run course was amazingly well supported. Stations with Gatorade, water, cola, chips, pretzels, and gels were set about a mile apart. A few wet sponge stations were put into the mix - volunteers took thousands of sponges, soaked up cold water out of rubber trash barrels, and handed them to red faced runners.

This was welcome relief for my sweating head which was also crusty from saltwater and sweat residue.

I continued to concentrate on my nutrition for the first run loop. My cramping stayed confined to the bike. If I stayed hydrated and well fueled, adding in some sodium intake according to my original plan, I had a shot at pulling this off.

It was not to be. A different set of circumstances conspired against me this time. My sweat from the heat and the humidity, the wet sponges, and the cold water I poured on my head all seemed to find a comfortable home in my shoes. My feet were strapped into wet and squishy messes.

By the time I realized I was blistering and tightened my laces hard to adjust, it was too late.

First the left foot. Then the right.

Looking back now, I feel like a bit of a blister wimp. My mind's eye imagined horrible sores forming into festering and bloody messes. In actual fact, I've got a quarter coin sized poofy pad of fluid on my left foot and a dime-sized pad of fluid on my right.

But like the cramp on the bike, it was distracting enough to alter my run pace and intensity. I tried to 'run around' the blisters. I shifted my stride in order to strike more toward the outside of my foot with each step. Boy, I'm paying for that two later as my feet are the sorest part of my body. The cheers of encouragement from Coach Rodney and all of our supporters helped me immensely.

All in all, I ran 20 minutes slower than I needed to and knew I was capable of doing in order to hit the finish line before the clock ticked past six hours.

It's easy for me to be all "woulda, coulda, shoulda" at this point. I can tell myself that my heart, lungs, and legs were up to the challenge, it was just my feet that had a bad day. Maybe that's true, maybe not.

In any case, it's all got to come together on race day. And this is how it came together for me on this day.

Run time 2:17:51.

You know what? The finish line still felt damn good.

The Bike

Fort Worth, Texas has a strong bicycle scene. We've got long, windy, and winding roads. We've got parks. Bike shops abound. I've been lucky enough to ride with a group of new friends outside of TNT with much stronger bike legs than I have.

Cyclists seem to age well. I've got something to look forward to, as my hairline recedes, my quick-twitch muscles will continue to develop.

Up until Sunday, the last time I rode more than 45 miles in one-day was back in 2002 when I did the MS150 from Houston to Austin over two days.

Fortunately, this ride at the Lone Star Triathlon in Galveston is flat. The path follows the shoreline for most of the distance. The wind was to be the x-factor. But it applies itself more or less equally to all.

This was not to be my day for a great ride. I got passed... a lot. To be expected, I told myself. "That guy has a $3,000 Cervelo for Pete's sake..." It's a fun game to check out the other bikes as they whiz by. Always shopping...

Our coaches did an admirable job of beating into our brains the importance of race nutrition. Fuel, hydration, and electrolytes all must be maintained in order to maintain oneself upright in the race. So nutrition was my primary objective during the first quarter of the bike. I popped a gel. I drank water. I nibbled on a Clif Bar. I drank more water. Every 15 minutes or more I hydrated. By mile 23, I had to pee. A portable pot parked by an aid station was free as I slowed down to take a bottle of water from race volunteer (an awesome group of people, I must say!).

I made a sudden stop and hopped off my bike. Something in the combination of the inertial forces and the particular chemistry of my legs conspired at that moment to create a cramp. I completed my pit stop. Crap, I thought, as I peddled back onto the road.

I've dealt with leg fatigue before, but never an outright cramp. My left hamstring (I believe) was the offending muscle. It was not very bad though. I could still peddle. Mentally, it was a distraction. I had to work around it. Find a motion that did not further aggravate it. Pull back my effort as it began to tighten harder. Pick up the effort again, but not so much. And so it went for the next 30 miles.

"How is this going to feel when I get to the run?", was my other thought.

I wanted to finish the race in under six hours. I did some calculations. I was still within range if I could finish the bike at the four hour mark. I believed I had a sub two-hour half-marathon in me.

I did all I could to consume electrolytes until the finish in order to help the cramp. It wasn't getting worse. I found a pretty good pace through the last 10 miles so.

Going into T2, I was just under four hours with just a half marathon to go. Plenty of time...

The Swim

The morning alarms (I set two plus the hotel wake-up call) sounded at 4:30 AM. The in-room coffee maker served well enough to prepare my pre-race meal of organic oatmeal with berries and almonds.

Mike and I met the rest of the Team in the hotel lobby at 5:30 so we could walk as a team to transition.

Note: 'transition' refers to a large penned area with three gates where the athletes park their bikes and gear. It serves as a hub with the spokes being 'swim-in', 'bike out/in', and 'run out/in.' With three legs of the event, we have two transitions, noted as T1 and T2.

The national anthem completed over the loud speaker, our first wave was in the water and swimming shortly after 7:30.

We were the wave with the green swim caps. As planned, I quickly fell to the back of the pack. I'm a slow swimmer and I was not about to defy expectations today. By the first tetrahedral pylon indicating our turn to the left, the blue caps were upon me. Waves were being sent four minutes apart. Halfway to the final turn, the yellow caps were in the mix.

I was not the last greenie to finish the swim though - and my time of 45 minutes was right at what I expected to swim. And much improved over my 30 minute time at half the distance last year.

Running up the carpeted path toward transition, I was well within my race plan. I waved to Mike, Tiffany, and the TNT gang watching us all come in. The wetsuit strippers helped me out of my wetsuit.

Into to T1 and the bike...

Triathlon Song

I am still pretty new to the triathlon sub-culture. The 'Triathlon Song' sums it up as well as anything The first 1:10 really hits the mark...