Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover" - Kearney (NE) Triathlon, May 19

Kearney hosted it's first triathlon and a USAT Sanctioned one at that! I make the 3 hour drive the night before the race and stayed in a Motel 6 that had bed bugs...I found out later with red welts on me. Nasty!!! Anyway, the next morning I was setting up in transition and checking out the competition. You know what it's like. Everyone is sizing everyone else up, checking out their bikes, their wheels, their physiques / fitness appearance, etc. You try to not psych yourself out by doing this but, it happens. I notice 5-6 guys who looked fast, were younger than me and who all had top of the line bikes/wheels. They looked fit, lean and ready to fly.
I was texting my wife Jen telling her there were fast guys racing and that I hoped I was able to beat some of them. This race had a 500m swim, a 10.5 mile bike and a 5K run. Came out of the water right where I thought I'd be and was happy with my time. I ran, hard, to and through T-1 and had a quick transition time. We biked an "L" shaped bike course with the first part and last part dealing with very strong crosswinds and on the longer portion, went straight into the wind then back with it. I was very happy to average 23.3mph with those winds blowing the way they were. Again a quick transition and headed out on the run. One big hill on this course just before the 1 mile mark. I put my head down, leaned a bit forward, shortened my stride and looked 3 feet in front of me as I chugged up the hill. Got to the top and started to loosen up and let it go a bit. Ran as hard as I dared, not wanting anything to tighten up. I took another 30 seconds off my last race's 5K time, averaging 6:30 miles running 20:15. Very thankful for that.
There were several heats so I really didn't know where I stood til the results were posted. Walked over and took a look, knowing I'd done my best that day and would just take the results however they came out. There, at the top of the list was my name. I won. First place overall. Wow. What about all those other fast bikes and intimidating athletes I spied before the race? Well, they were fast, good athletes but, I was a little faster that day. I could have easily "given up" even before the race started and just hoped to maybe go top 5 or 10. I was reminded that you can't throw in the white towel before the race even starts. Instead, before I hit the water, I said to myself, "Let's do this and see what you guys got!" One of them was wearing a K-Swiss / Trek racing outfit and looked, honestly like a pro. I thought he was a young pro. I really thought he'd win. Think again. I'm blessed to have won my 11th triathlon since I stared doing these almost 20 years ago. Thank you Lord!

"Change Things Up" - SiouxperMan Triathlon Race Report, May 5

Sioux Center, IA is a beautiful place for a triathlon in NW Iowa. This race has an indoor pool swim of 400yds. then a bike of 15 windy miles and a 5K run. I did this race three years earlier when I was a young spring chicken at only 52 yrs. old. I'd gotten 7th overall in that race and was surprised by the fast guys who came to this race. This year was cool, foggy and we were all waiting for it to start raining, which, it never did.
Had an OK swim, hammered the bike hard through bad cross winds and took off on the run. I was interested to see how much faster I could run this 5K than at Lake Havasu. Well, I cut a minute and a half off going 20:45 I think. Very happy with that and a 4th place overall and first in my age group finish. Lesson learned in this race - at the 2 mile point in the run my left hamstring started to tighen up...badly. I thought I might need to stop and try to rub it out. Instead, I slowed my pace and tried to change my stride. I started praying hard for the Lord to help me, and, as I kept after it, more slowly, it actually loosened up vs. getting tighter and tighter. SO thankful for that. So I learned to change things up - if you start to cramp up or a muscle tightens up, before stopping, change your pace, chance your stride, change something...maybe it'll allow you to keep going and maybe, it'll loosen up! I was able to finish the run, running hard which, a few minutes earlier, I would have not guessed was possible.

"Am I Going The Right Way???" Lake Havasu Triathlon Report

In March I did a very early season triathlon in Lake Havasu City, AZ. I've only missed one year out of the last six so I know the race course really well. About halfway through that run of races, I once took a right hand turn up a just wasn't the right hill. I turned too early, up the wrong street. I was in 2nd or 3rd place when I made the wrong turn. I was in 18th when I came back down the hill and got back on course. Figured that I'd gotten that rookie mistake out of the way never to do such a foolish thing again. Well, my buddy Randy and I rolled into town late afternoon the Friday before race day. We registered and heard the water in the lake was super cold, so before dinner we grabbed our wetsuits and went for a short swim. That water was really COLD! Glad we did it because it helped us to start the swim slow and build into it. Had a good swim and took off on my bike and felt really good. Since this was an early season race I was doing it mostly off of base training with little speed work at all. It felt good to get out there and (try to) go fast.
The bike course took us into a residential neighborhood and wouldn't you know it, I took a right hand turn too soon down the wrong rode. RATS! I went a couple of blocks before I realized it, turned around and headed back on course. How dumb! I'd done this course six times! No worries. Back on course ready to make that right I did, again, too soon. Wrong turn # 2. I couldn't believe it. Chewed myself out really good and got back on course. Passed a guy that I'd already passed earlier. He did a double take wondering how I'd gotten behind him after being ahead of him. Rode really hard to make up for my mistakes. The run went well. I didn't push it at all and cruised in for a 5th place overall finish. The wrong turns cost me 4th and probably 3rd overall. Won my age group - the one for old men who's brains no longer work. It's a bad feeling to be going the wrong way. I went the wrong way in my life for 22 years. Then the Lord helped me to get my life on track and on the right course. I've made a couple of wrong turns since then, but God has always been faithful to help me make a course correction. Is you life on course? Hope so!