Race Recap – Rock and Roll 1/2 in San Antonio

(Note – I fully intended to pepper this post with photos of my race, but seeing as how the “water resistant” FuelBelt pouch I bought at the race expo woefully under-performed, my phone was toast.  I do not have a MicroSD card reader, so I’ll have to come back and add the few photos I managed to take.)

I spent the evening hours on Saturday carbing up.  I saw this tweet from Bella on the Riverwalk:

 

I figured that I would call it in, and then walk over and bring it back to my hotel room.  When I called, David the proprietor, he “shamed” me into eating at the bar and not eating in solitude in my room.  I’m really glad he did, as the restaurant was literally right on the Riverwalk in a secluded little pocket (almost hard to find due to some construction).  I had the lentil soup (first time for me, and I’ll be totally cloning this recipe at home), “Pasta Bella” (pasta of the day, sauteed Texas Gulf shrimp, red sauce, artichokes, shrooms, spinach, and red pepper flakes).  In addition to copious amounts of ice water and fresh bread and olive oil, I also enjoyed a single glass of Cab.  The wait staff was gearing up for what appeared to be an onslaught, but they took time to chat me up as I ate at the bar.  I really need to become more social, because it is so easy to retreat into what’s uncomfortable, even when the decision to do so is borderline anti-social behavior!

I headed back to the room and walked briskly  as I wanted to get a read on my legs.  I felt 100%, and I was confident that my lower body would answer the bell on Sunday.  I laid out all of my gear for the morning (the less thinking the better), and running races is so much more simplistic that triathlon!

I was amped up, to say the least.  The evening before I made the mistake of hydrating using a new Nuun flavor I picked up at the expo.  I love Nuun and have used it quite a bit in training, along with my normal go-to mix of 1/2 strength Gatorade and Blox, but this particular flavor had CAFFEINE!  Oooops.

So I turned in early, and I was completely packed except for shower stuff post-race and the clothes I would wear home on the plane.

 

RACE MORNING

I woke up on time and showered/shaved.  I watered-up and had a handful of smoked almonds along with a PowerBar.  I filled my bottle with 20 oz of Nuun (with the caffeine) and headed out the door.

I can’t wait to trim that belly fat off!

I was in Corral 15, and the corrals were very packed.  The crowd was a bit quiet, and everyone just did the cursory “dance” (back and forth, calf stretches, hammy stretch, etc – this really resembles the “Pee Pee Dance” to the untrained observer).  We’ll I did have to dash to the porta-john and I ended up just jumping back into my corral in time for our start.

We set off and I felt fine.  The temp was maybe a little warmer than room temperature.  My goal was simply to run very consistent splits, hold back at the beginning, and not walk (unless the conditions at the water stops required it).  I was also hoping to stay under an 11 minute mile pace.  I was keeping an eye on my heart rate, and I was happy that in the first four miles my HR never reached 169 and my pace was right on.

 

Some observations:

  • Mile 1 was my quickest mile (makes sense), and then my next was mile 13 (head scratching), but I wasn’t consciously trying to kick in to the finish.
  • I took some GU gel about 15 minutes before the start, and then gels at mile 5 and 9. This worked extremely well for me, as I never felt deprived or weak.
  • This was my first run of any significance wearing compression sleeves, and I thought they felt fine.  I didn’t notice any significant improvement in performance with them, and it’s probably not fair to compare my post-race discomfort in the days after since I’m pretty certain I would still be sore without having worn them.  Who knows, but lots of runners swear by them and at least I’ll have another recovery aid if I choose not to wear them on the road.
  • The sun came out around mile 3, and that changed the hydration strategy quite a bit.  I began taking water or Gatorade whenever it was offered, and dumped water down my tri-top.  It got hot out, and since our season changed up in Delaware it was a bit of a shock.
  • My iPod shuffle died about mile 10, so I ran the rest naked.  This is a bit new to me, but I was fine with it.  For 2013 I need to get away from the audio-assistance with the longer races anyway.
  • I remember passing mile 3 thinking, “OK, this is just like a 5K warmup to the (10 mi) Broad Street Run (I ran back in May).  When I passed mile 10 I had a similar thought, “This is just like a 5K warmdown after running Broad Street”.  The difference is that I felt like I was going to spin off the panet after crossing the finish at Broad Street in May.
  • The finish line was incredible chaotic, and the long winding chutes they make you walk through is almost like another race expo.  “No, I don’t want PF Chang coupons right now, I want a banana, chocolate milk, and a Gatorade.  Yes I’ll take that cold towel, but if you ask for me to sign up for anything I’ll scissor-kick you in the throat…”
  • One very small criticism is the water and energy stops on the course.  I wish they could make them clearer as you approach, as there was a lot of congestion with bobbing/weaving runners getting caught off-guard and not aware that a station was up ahead.  Broad Street in Philly does this really well, and with almost 40,000 runners it was very smooth.
  • I will say that the folks at Rock-and Roll run an awesome event.  The pre-event communication was tremendous, and I felt very informed and clued into what to expect as a first-timer.  I would whole-heartedly recommend the race series to anyone that is looking to tackle a distance race.

It was a longer walk than I expected from the other side of the Alamo Dome to the hotel area, but I made my way back to shower and catch a cab to the airport.  In hindsight I should have bought or brought 2 sets of compression sleeves – one to run in and the other to wear home.  My shoes were sopping wet, so I went the flip-flop route, and my full compression socks wouldn’t have looked right!

 

So I finally made it home about 9PM.  It was my birthday and my wife/kids had a little impromptu party set up for me which was nice.  I was away since the previous Wednesday and I was really missing home!

So all-in-all I am resting and recovering.  I plan to swim tonight and then lift tomorrow night while the girls have swim team practice.  I have a 20 week half-Ironman training sequence that I am reviewing now that I received from BeginnerTriathlete.com, and it looks extremely well-suited for my goals in 2013.  More on that later.

 

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A lot going through my mind today…

This has been an emotional week in my neck of the woods.

  • While my home and family in Wilmington, DE was left alone by Hurricane Sandy, my father’s house in Ocean County, NJ is really wrecked.  I spent part of last weekend helping to gut it.
  • In the midst of all of that turmoil, my father put his 15 year old Yellow Lab down today.  15 years ago I was living with him “down the shore” for the summer when we bought her, and I took primary responsibility for her early training.  I’m going to miss her.
  • My sister and her husband live in the Philly burbs.  They were without power for 9 days, and they lost an SUV (pancaked by a massive tree in her driveway) and sustained damage to their 40 foot boat that was blocked up on LBI.
  • My mom was without power for 7 days, but their backup generator held strong.  My sister and her family ended up crashing there.
  • A good friend of mine has been a big inspiration to me, and our families have hung out together a few times.  He’s a two-time cancer survivor, and his wife beat breast cancer WHILE he was fighting testicular cancer.  His 7 year old son was just diagnosed and has some sort of aggressive sarcoma that is un-treatable by chemo, so he’s endured 2 surgeries this week to excavate and remove tumors in his leg/groin.  I rode and run as a part of his LIVESTRONG team this summer.

 

So just about everything above, while dreadfully unfortunate, is unavoidable.  You put your head down and fight through everything you can, but at the end of your day it’s out of your control.  It doesn’t mean, however, that it’s pity party time.

I jumped into running in preparation of a 5K last December (2011) being heavily inspired by people that have battled cancer.  My Aunt Debbie.  My buddy Derek.  My high school classmate Dom.  My former student Sue.  My buddy Joe and his wife.  Bubba and the family he left behind.

So I’m feeling a little dark today.  My plan is to rest tonight and focus.  I’m going to do my damnedest to put a hurting on this run tomorrow.  Komen is a big beneficiary of this race, so there is a lot of pink cancer awareness around here.  It bugs the crap out of me that we haven’t beaten this thing called cancer yet, and I’m just going to let it flow tomorrow.  All of the work I’ve put into this run in 2012 is going to show up tomorrow, so help me….

Fun at the race expo – t-minus 24 hours…

So this time tomorrow I’ll probably be about halfway through the race.  I am equal parts excited, terrified, and confident – I know that makes zero sense, but not much about any of this exercise does!

Seriously though, my business week here in San Antonio wrapped up really well yesterday, and as soon as I was free from obligations I shot on over to the convention center to hit the race expo.  The only other large race I’ve participated in (Broad Street Run in Philly was over 40,000) I skipped the expo and just grabbed my number.

Publicly, “Rock-and-Roll” events seem to carry a pretty positive opinion of their race operations, and if the race is supported as efficiently as the expo then I think I’m in for a good time.  It was a big event with tons of vendors and exhibitors, some running workshops, and something for everybody.

I did a little shopping for myself:

  • I grabbed some GU gels since I didn’t want to chance taking them through TSA
  • I grabbed some Nuun tablets for my hydration – I’ve been accustomed to Gatorade with a little BLOX silk amino acids added, but my system seems to function fine with either.  The Nuun is easier to transport home through TSA.
  • Shades – I grabbed a cheap pair of sunglasses – I forgot mine.
  • Fuel Belt pouch – I normally leave my cell at home, but I want to grab some photos.  Additionally it’s just a good idea while away from home.
  • CEP sleeves – I’ve work some inexpensive compression socks post-workouts, but I’ve never actually run in them.  I went for a short treadmill run yesterday and they felt nice, kind of like my shins and calfs are getting a nice hug!  I’m going to wear my full socks home on the plane tomorrow, but I’m going to give them a shot in the race.
  • I grabbed the 13.1 finisher shirt in addition to the freebie they gave away (which is a bit crappy in my opinion).  The finisher shirt is much nicer.

 

I grabbed some other freebies as I cruised through the expo.  I really wish my wife and kids were here with me, but there’s a ton going on at home and it just wasn’t feasible.  The one thing you don’t notice when travelling for business is that there is generally something ELSE to do next, and clients or colleagues to do it with.  Out here I’m solo this weekend, and dinner all by myself really sucked last night.

I’m working from the hotel room this morning, and then I’ll go for a walk to loosen up the legs a little later.  I’ll get a good stretch in, then apply some BioFreeze to help with some last minute recovery.  Lots of carbs and water today is the name of the game!

Touchdown in Texas

My flight miraculously took off on time from Philly and I landed in San Antonio without incident.  This pleasantly shocks me seeing as the East Coast and the Philly area once again had the scourge of inclement weather to deal with.  Thankfully despite the sleet falling I managed to get out ahead of the bad stuff.

I’m here in Texas for work.   A big part of my job is managing the relationships my company has with professional associations, especially those in healthcare human resources and recruitment.  I actually don’t present until Friday morning, but there are some meetings and social things going on this morning (Thursday) so I need to be here.

Of course that’s all well and good, but the presentation is one I’ve given about 25 times this year.  What’s really on my mind is my first half marathon on Sunday – also my 40th birthday.

I really starting running with purpose last fall, gearing up for a 5K in early December of 2011.  It took a lot of work to run for 30 minutes without stopping, and my goal for that first race was to not throw up, walk, or cry (and I was successful!).  Even before I warmed down from that 5K, I decided to find a race on or about my 40th and run 13.1 as a “stretch goal”.  Along the way I ended up falling into a bike purchase in June and I became completely obsessed with triathlon.  This was mainly at the inspiration provided by a buddy of mine who, as a cancer survivor and hart transplant recipient, is tearing up 70.3s, marathons, and is scheduled to do two 140.6 events in 2013!

I wouldn’t say I’m totally prepared for this race on Sunday.  I pushed it on the treadmill on Tuesday evening and ran some hard intervals for 30 minutes and the result is that I feel a little “twingy” in my shins.  It’ll be ice and friction massage later in my room, for sure.  I do feel that I can monitor my HR zones well enough to get through in about 2:15, so that’s the time I’m shooting for if all goes well.  We’ll have to see about that, but I really just want to have fun, suffer a little bit, and then head home to Delaware for cake and ice cream!

So I plan to blog a bit on my downtime – I’ve got lots to keep me busy (like a late expense report from October a mile long) but I’ll be here Friday night and Saturday for the race expo flying solo, so I’ll be bored and filling the time no doubt.

Fixing a Broken Fence

So this morning after I drop my kids at school, I head to my dentist to receive the LAST of my 21 Invisalign appliances.  If you’re not familiar, Invisalign is a different way to fix crooked teeth through the use of plastic molded retainers that snap down and put 360-degree pressure on your teeth.  Since conventional braces only put pressure and torque on the bracket cemented onto the tooth surface, the Invisalign treatment tends to move along quicker.

If you look at the About section of this page, you’ll notice that my blog has morphed into something other than what I originally intended.  I guess that’s a healthy progression, an I’m pretty certain that it’s happened to others at well.  We tend to talk about the things that drive us and inspire us at those moments.  For a great deal of 2012, it’s been fitness and triathlon, but on entering 2012 the prospect of fixing my teeth and restoring my smile was too awesome to comprehend.

I’ll share some before/after photos when the treatment is complete.  Also, this was a lot less expensive to do than going the veneers route (would have required a 2nd mortgage, and maybe a 3rd).

I leave for Texas tomorrow to speak at a conference in San Antonio.  I then stay the weekend for my first Half Marathon (Rock-and-Roll San Antonio).  The only thing that diminishes the excitement is that I’ll wake up on Sunday morning for the race and I’ll be 40 years old, and my family will be 1,700 miles away.  It sucks, but I’ll have cake and ice cream with them Sunday evening after I arrive home.

Setting goals for 2013 – Just Registered PhillyTri 2013

I’m pretty excited this morning on the heels of some disappointment yesterday.  It was announced (recently?) that the WTC and Ironman have disconnected from the Ironman 70.3 event in the Pocono Mountains of PA.  PhillyTri, the local sponsor, will try to have some sort of event in the area, but it obviously loses some of its cache without the infamous logo.

PhillyTri does have a nice event in the city in June in both Sprint and Olympic distances, so I went ahead and signed up for my first Olympic race!

The swim is in the Schuykill River, and while it doesn’t really appeal to me, I’ve heard from others that it’s not bad at all.  The sights are beautiful, and the course is actually fairly fast. My main goals for the race will be:

 

 

 

 

 

  • A good, solid swim under control (no spazzing out like a freak)
  • A bike leg with average speed between 18-20mph (need to look closer at the course)
  • A 10K better than my LIVESTRONG 10K (sub 60 minutes)

So, my offseason training will be gearing to this as a first major milepost in the season.  I’ll throw some shorter stuff in before June for sure, but this race is real and I plan to take it serious.  If I can rock the Olympic in June, then the HalfFull in early October ought to be fun.

 

How’s your offseason planning and race scheduling coming along?