Thursday, July 19, 2012

Race Report - Granite Man Triathlon - Clearwater, MN

"If You Thought Every Second Counts...You're Wrong"

I wanted to connect with my friend Chris Anderson around a race this summer so I drove up to Clearwater, MN, about 40 miles NW of Minneapolis to do the Granite Man Tri with him. Drove up Friday July 15th. 6 hours, 40 minutes. Checked into my motel and then drove the race course. I think it's important to "recon" a course before you race it...I've been known to take wrong turns and didn't want to do that here.

Then I met up with Chris and he set up his Fellowship of Christian Athletes tent by the registration area. We set up a mock transition area and put out my bike and gear to show first-timers how to do it and to answer any tri questions. Left there at 8:15pm and hit the sack early. Up early and over to the lake. Set up my stuff and went for a warm-up jog down the trail through the woods that was the run course. Saw a deer! Love it! "Lord, I want to run like a deer today" was my prayer.

We all walked a 1/2 mile to the end of the lake and then swam straight back up the lake, drag race style to T1. I've never done a straight swim before. I was in the 7th of 11 heats. I loved the straight swim up the lake and exited with a PR for 750 meters. Had on my new Xterra Vector Pro sleeveless wetsuit and LOVED it. I didn't have the smoothest T1 and took a few seconds longer than I should have. Boy was I going to pay for that later!!!

Hopped on my Valdora PHX 2 and took off. I immediately started passing other riders. In fact, I passed 60+ of them during the 15.5 mile bike course. Wanted to bike 37:something and nailed it averaging 24.3mph for the bike leg. I was having a blessed race for sure! Took off slowly on the run as I've been having a bit of a problem with my right, upper hamstring/glute. Eased into the run and slowly built speed. Every mile was faster and I felt like I was flying the 3rd mile. Out and back, first and last mile through the woods on a trail, middle mile on a highway. Was supposed to be 3.1 mile but I think it was 3. Ran 19:33. Very happy as each run this year in races has gotten faster...may it continue! :)

Pushed it hard the last quarter mile and finished strong. Since I was in the 7th heat, I didn't know how I did til they posted the results. There was an elite wave and I figured they'd take up the top slots. Saw the results and couldn't believe I was listed # 2 overall with the exact same time as the # 1 place guy - 1:09:18. Crazy! We tied and beat all the elites. Crazy again! I was thrilled with the results.

Came home thankful for my 14th tri win and 3rd of this season. Couple of days later, someone sent me the text version of the results and I learned I'd missed first place overall by 1/10th of a second. Are you kidding me? Imagine racing someone over a 19 mile course, swimming, running and biking and getting beat by 1/10th of one second. Wow. I thought every second counted. Guess not. Every 1/10th of a second counts.

This was a GREAT reminder to push every second of every race - especially sprints and olympic distance races. I can think of 10 different places I could have pick up a second or two, let alone a few tenths... So, no more messing around :) All out, every millisecond! Seriously, I was so blessed to get 2nd out of 316 finishers and win my age group and beat those who signed up as elites. God blessed my day for sure. Thank you Lord!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Race Report - Manitou/White Bear Lake Triathlon, St. Paul, MN

Race Report - Manitou / White Bear Lake Triathlon, St. Paul, MN

On my way up to spend a few days in the Boundary Waters of NE Minnesota, I stopped in the Twin Cities to do the USAT sanctioned Manitou Triathlon. This race has been going for over 20 years and has pros show up...all the way down the food chain to beginners. Very windy day and the wind was blowing straight on to the beach race morning. Very choppy!

My heat was everyone 50 and over. To my surprise, on the way out I found myself in first place in my heat. The chop made it very hard to see not to mention the aquatic weeds that came up to the surface of the water the first couple hundred yards. Every stroke I grabbed a glob of that stuff and pulled it back. Had some hanging on to my goggles as I swam. Due to the wind and weeds I started heading towards the wrong buoy. A kayak guy tapped me on the head and got me back on course. My swim time was slow but it's easy to understand why. Actually felt strong in the swim and paced myself perfectly. My wrong route added some time.

The bike was around 13 miles and the road surface was perhaps the worst I've ever raced on. Holes, patches, bumps, cracks, etc., made it impossible to get into a groove. Pretty course though. The Elite wave was the only one to go off ahead of my heat so at the turn around I was able to tell I was still in first from my heat. Had an OK bike. Have had better.

Was excited for the run because my run has been faster every race this year. I'm finally getting some good run training in despite plantar fasciitis and nerve damage in the same foot. Route was out and back. It was fun to watch the Elites flying by me on their way back. Hit the 2nd mile mark in 12:30 and knew I was on a sub-20 pace for the 5K. Ran hard to the end and hit the tape in 19:51 for the run, almost 30 seconds faster than my last race.

I was very thankful to the Lord that I ended up 6th overall after they removed the Elites and first in the 50-54 age group (and the two 40 yr. old groups too :) Very happy with my progression. Just gotta quit going the wrong way this season. Bike mistake in Havasu and swim mistake in this race. Oh well. I'll blame it on age! Overall, very glad to have done this race as it sharpened me a bit more and was a great workout!

Triathlon in Your Later Years - How I Do It

(Written for the blog site)

No hiding my age.(BTW, this is NOT me pictured here. It's me in 25 years) I'm 55 years young and having more fun athletically than at any other time in my life. Granted, I wasn't a great athlete growing up. I was cut from the the 8th grade basketball team. I got in a total of five plays in only two games the whole season of 9th grade football. Never played a varsity sport in high school. Once, in a JV basketball game, when the ref handed me the ball as I stood out of bounds so I could throw it in and start play, I actually just took off dribbling inbounds from out of bounds. (I still have no idea why I did that.) I once was lapped in a track meet running the two mile race. That's only eight laps...and the leaders came around and finished their last lap while I still had more than one to go. Pretty embarrassing!

Fast forward 30+ years and I'm very blessed to say that I've completely three Ironman Triathlons including Hawaii, qualified for USAT Team USA three times, finished 20th at the ITU World Championship in '07 at the Olympic distance in Germany and finished 8th at Worlds in the Sprint distance in Australia in '09. I've been racing triathlons for 20 years and have gotten faster and faster almost every year. I've even been blessed to have won 12 in first place overall.

Now, at 55 I may not set any new records but I've not really slowed down any. How is this possible? Ever notice how the number of age group athletes drops off as the age groups go up? That's because our bodies tend to quit cooperating as we age. We need to be really wise as age. There's a big difference training and racing in your 30s from your 40s. More so from your 40s to your 50s and I can only imagine that grows exponentially each decade into one's 60s, 70s and 80s.

Here are six ways I've been able to keep going and not slow down. I'll quickly add that I've had every injury one can have doing triathlons and running and have often had to learn the hard way.

1 - Change Your Mindset - As You Age Here's the crazy thing...our bodies "age" much faster than our brains. I'm 55 but think like I'm 25 most of the time. So, I can try to train like I did when I was younger and it'll get me injured every time. My mind tells me I can, but my body just can't. My brain is writing checks that my body just can't cash! If I don't change my mindset and approach my training and racing to a "real time" 55 yr. old perspective, I'll break down physically over and over and pretty soon just give up. Train your real age, not your brain age.

2 - Allow More Recovery Time - After training and racing, even at a high level, as we age, we must allow our bodies more time to bounce back. Part of aging is the often frustrating fact that it just takes longer to recover from a hard workout or race. I run every third day. Period. No exceptions. That means I get in 10 runs per month. That's a whole lot less than when I was 30, but it works for me. After 72 hours, my legs are fully recovered and ready to go. Less recovery time and I risk injury. Been there done that. Zensah compression gear helps with my recovery and so, while I'm taking a bit longer to recover than before, Zensah helps me bounce back wonderfully!

3 - Aggressive Injury Prevention and Injury Treatment - If something hurts during or after a workout...I immediately treat it. It might mean ice and almost always does, but also the foam roller, The Stick, massage or a visit to my PT or Chiropractor. EMS devices also work well in this regard. I do all of the above along with gentle stretching and wearing Zensah compression wear. For me, if it hurts even a little I aggressive ice it as a first step and this often takes care of it. When it stops hurting, I still wait an extra couple of days to jump back into normal training and continue the treatment(s).

4 - Longer Warm-up - I need longer and longer warm up time before a race as I age. Before workouts I warm up a little but mostly just start my workout VERY slowly. Circulation is not what it used to be in my mid-50s, but a gentle, slow warm up with gentle stretching helps to lower the risk of injury during the race or workout. I often stop running to stretch in the middle of my runs - most often as a preventative. Get this...I always walk 30 seconds out of every 5 minutes during my training runs. Two weekends ago I went 19:51 for a 5K off the bike in a sprint triathlon, so I'm racing pretty fast for an old guy, but, I still walk 30 seconds every 5 min. every single training run just to be safe.

5 - Creatively Adapt - It's taken me a while to dial in my shoe insert / foot support issue but I have a combination of three different shoes that I run in - all in one shoe. Long story I won't go into, but I've had to be innovative to figure out what works for my feet and legs so they don't get injured. I've cut a slit in the side of my running shoe with a razor blade to relieve pain I have on the side of my foot. Who takes a blade to a new pair of $150 running shoes? I do! It's part of creative adaptability that we must implement as we age.

6 - Weight - Touchy subject maybe, but as I've aged, I've worked harder and harder at keeping my weight where it should be. I once read that 5 extra pounds adds 30 seconds to your 5K finish time. In many races that's the difference between winning and not making the podium at all. Being at the right weight takes a great deal of pressure off our joints and as we age, our bodies really appreciate that! Dialing in my food intake and eating "clean" is something I really have to pay attention to the older I get.

These are a few things that I have to keep in mind and practice to "stay in the game" and stay competitive as I age. They really do work! And, don't forget your Zensah compression clothing/gear because they help a ton...young, or not-quite-so young.