Door County Sprint

Emily made a decision last year that she wanted to race the Door County Triathlon Half Ironman course.  When I woke up New Year’s Day, (she registered in the middle of the night) and we were talking about the trip up to Door County, I decided to register for the Sprint distance race.  This would give us something to do on Saturday morning of the weekend.  I’ll leave the weekend round up to Emily, but I wanted to talk about my race specifically.

I honestly didn’t have a lot of expectations for this race when I registered for it.  I really thought I would get out, have some fun, and then help Emily get ready for her race the next day.  I was a touch nervous the morning of the race and even had to go back to the hotel after we left to pick up my Garmin (if I don’t have it, it doesn’t count).

Water

The water was calm Saturday morning.  There were a bunch of people warming up in the water, but I decided to hang out and listen to music.  This is the first time I have done this and it helped out a lot.  I turned the volume way down so that I could hear what was going on around me, but the music helped to keep me settled.  About race time, Emily and I ran into a guy wearing a Chattnooga shirt from last year and we talked to him and his family for a bit.  He gave us some insight into the Chattanooga race.  This was his daughter’s first triathlon, and they were there to support her Saturday, the following day he was going to be doing the half distance race.

Waves were sent into the water, but mine was about 30 minutes after the race start.  When it got close to time, I pulled on my wetsuit, my swim camp, pulled my goggles on to my head, and made my way to the beach.  Lots of nervous folks out there gave me a bit more confidence.  I have done this before, there isn’t anything to worry about.

The swim was not too bad.  There was a bit of a current that pushed me around a little, and that caused me to have to redirect myself a few times.  The water was very clear, so I was easily able to see the lines that the race volunteers had painted the night before, so getting back on track wasn’t tough.  We had recently listened to the DC Rainmaker podcast where he discussed how you can lose your watch if you have the quick disconnect on it.  So I had that worry going through my head about every 20 seconds.  Ultimately, I didn’t lose my watch.

Getting out of the water, I made my way to the wetsuit strippers.  They tore my wetsuit off quick (after deciding who was going to do it), but they took something else with them, which I didn’t notice for a few minutes.

Transition went pretty flawless.  Helmet on.  Glasses on.  Run to the bike out.  I made it to the mount line, but there wasn’t a beep when I crossed?!?!?!?  I looked down and noticed that I didn’t have my timing chip on.  So, it was back to my rack spot to see if it was there.  After a little digging I was able to find it tangled up in my wetsuit. I put it back on and was off again.  Once at the mount line, and jumped up and spun off.  About a minute later I slipped into my shoes and got ready for the next 18 miles.

Em and I rode the bike course a few weeks ago, and I knew what to expect for the most part.  We had also discussed what we thought I could hold for power over the course.  Em thought I could hold 160 watts or so for the 18 miles, and I guessed 180.  I averaged 185 watts and almost 21 miles per hour, finishing the bike in about 52 minutes.  That’s pretty quick for me, and honestly, a new expectation for myself.

It’s a great bike course.  For a little while you are in the woods, then you get a view of the bay before getting to the beginning of the city and turning around.  One thing I really remember from the ride was a great banked turn.  I remember it because I felt like I was flying, which I guess I was, since Garmin shows me at almost 25 MPH.

Bike Fast

The transition to run was a little less stressful, having not lost my timing chip this time.  But I did bring newer shoes that didn’t have speed laces on them, so I did actually have to tie my shoes (poor planning on my part).

The run is a simple out and back.  I ran past the parking lot, then a corn field, then the corn field again, then the parking lot again, then finish line.  And it felt that quick.  At just over a 9 minute pace, I killed any effort I have ever put forward.

I kept thinking I was going to hit the wall at some point, but I just kept going.  At one point I wanted to walk, but remembered that I have been talking to Emily about pace management instead of walking, so I just managed my pace back a little for a few minutes, then off I went again.

Run Door County Nick

Finish time 1:35:03 (exactly one second behind the guy who placed 15th).  17 of 36 in my age group and 222 of about 1000 total athletes for the sprint.  This is now my effort to beat for sure.  I can’t really match this up against the Elkhart sprint since the bike distances are different, but I can say my effort was better.  I am definitely interested in doing this race again.

Door County Tri really puts on a great race.  Everything about this was great (including volunteering the next day).  The food was good.  Beer was vast and they had music or a live band all day.  It makes me wish that Ironman would put the same effort forward for their races, but I realize they host a lot more athletes and are a bit more spread out.

Triathiversary (Elkhart Lake Sprint 2016)

Happy Anniversary, Triathlon!

It’s been such a great year, even though you tried to kill me once and on a few occasions made me doubt my abilities. I haven’t always been good to you either. I have skipped you at times. I have mistreated you. I have over trained and under trained for you. I promise that this year I will do better, but I won’t always be perfect. Just remember that I am trying very hard and I expect you to do the same. No more, “I’m going to change the course”. No more, “waves are fun”. And for the sake of the relationship, no more DNFs, those make me feel really bad.

Anniversary

Seriously though, this last weekend marked my first full year in Triathlon, and we celebrated by returning to the race where it all began, Elkhart Lake.

Elkhart Lake Sprint 2016 Race Report

My goals this year were to improve in every discipline, but more than anything, I needed a PR on this race. Coming away from a great race in Galveston just a few short months ago, I had everything going my way. Then I got sick to the point where I had a hard time breathing. I was measuring the miles by how much snot I had collected on my shirt. And generally, I haven’t felt well. Even still, I am battling some serious muscle pain (fatigue and stress related).

For some reason I got really nervous about the race, something felt off about racing and not traveling (because I didn’t have to prep a week ahead of time) and not staying in a hotel (having to re-prep once I check in) and not having to rack my bike the night before (one less thing to think about race morning).  All of those things seem to make everything a lot easier for me (counterintuitive, I know).  The morning of the race wasn’t great either, but I made it through with only one port-a-potty stop before the race started.

Elkhart Lake

My swim wasn’t great. I was breathing every other stroke (always on the left). I think this was the water temp taking my breath faster than normal, but who really knows. It could have been anxiety also. Really it was a great swim and I took 52 seconds off my time from last year. Not bad for a 400 meter course.  Having completed several 1.2 mile swims, I was sort of surprised at how stressful this 400 meter swim was.

T1 sucked. Because of where transition was this year, Sprint racers had to run about a 1/4 mile to their bikes. Still, I took 1m20s off my time.  I think the reduction has something to do with having gone through transition many times now and know what to do and what not to do (and honestly not worrying about anything since the bike is so short).

My bike effort was awesome this year. Some of the hills beat me up a little, but there was something different this year (I’ll explain in the run section). Rules weren’t followed well on the course, so I was passing people on the right and was getting stuck behind groups of riders. The night before the race, the course changed, but it wasn’t very significant, just a u-turn vs. a turn around on the roads. Overall, I was 4 minutes faster on the course.

T2 sucked. Again, an extra 1/4 mile to get to the run start from my bike . . . BOOOOOOO. Still, I made up 40 seconds in T2.

Finally, the run. Last year Elkhart’s hill of honesty killed me. The hill lasts for over a half mile and it sucks. More than that, the whole course killed me last year. I walked more than ran. This year, that wasn’t the case. I had a few drop outs to drink water and eat a gel, but ran the majority. The hill didn’t even kill me. I credit this to all the work I have done on the bike in the last 365 days. I was able to hold a high power number and still run a 5K at the end of it all. Overall, time savings on the run was 1m30s from 2015.

Nick Elkhart 2016

All said and done, my first year in the sport has been awesome, with incredible improvements in every discipline (I’m looking at you swimming, seriously you aren’t my best, but I have made you work). Nailing a workout makes the rest of my week seem great. Finishing my first 70.3 on a tough course validated my decision to change from running to triathlon. My PR at Galveston and at Elkhart in 2016 have really shown the progress I have made (thanks to the coach’s insistence that I make progress and not just be happy with my current paces).

It’s been a good year, triathlon, let’s see if we can have another good one.  Chattanooga is less than 100 days away and I plan on knowing that I can complete that distance.

sub-30 5K

Sunday, I set out with one goal in mind: sub-30 PR for my 5K.  I’m pretty much an 11:00-12:00/mile runner.  I never thought running 3.1 miles under 30 minutes would even be possible, as I had accepted my running pace.

During my off-season, my coach has been giving me what seems like endless running drills.  Most of which were completed on the treadmill; which makes them even more dreadful.  I knew the day was coming when we would put all of that hard work to the test….and Sunday was that day.

I did it!  I totally rocked my 5K PR at 28:59!!!

5K PR 28:59

Here’s to getting faster and stronger, and continuing to break records!

Christmas Morning Run

This year we had the most amazing Christmas Day run.  Christmas morning Emily and I were 6 days in to an 11 day trip to France and we had recently gotten back to Paris having taken a trip to Bayeux.

That morning we woke up and had a cup of coffee in the room.  We walked outside for our run and spent a few minutes re-acquiring satellites, since GPS watches don’t appreciate when you move around a lot and when you are surrounded by tall buildings.  After walking about a half mile waiting for this acquisition, we were off on our run.

The first half mile lead us to the base of the Eiffel Tower, then we got to run under a basically abandoned monument, as no one in Paris wakes up until at least 10 AM.  Once past the tower, we ran through a park adjacent and up to the Paris Military Academy.  Since both of us were pretty tired and Emily was fighting a bit of foot pain, we cleaned up a 5K and decided stop.

2015ChristmasMorningRun

It was a super fun run and a great add to our collection of Garmin Activities from “different places”.

2013 Hangover Run Virtual 5k

Just finished my first virtual run.  In an effort to complete 13 races this year and because the weather is so awfully hot outside, I decided to sign up for The Hangover Run.  I ran this race on the treadmill at my convenience.  It was actually quite nice.  

Emily’s Race Time:  36:52

The race is based on the honor system.  You sign up, complete the race on designated dates, submit your race time and photo (optional), and after the race closes your medal is sent to you in the mail.  Proceeds go to support a charity.  Simple enough!  I may do more of these races in the future.  

2013 Rhythm & Blues 5k

On February 10th, Nick, Kellie and I ran the Rhythm & Blues 5K.  There were several bands scheduled to play along the course, but the weather threatened, so many of the bands canceled.  The course had several inclines, so music along the route was a great way to keep me motivated.  

After our race, there was a half marathon.  While snacking on post-race goodies, we became spectators of the half marathon.  It was fun and entertaining.  The course made three laps, so we were able to watch the front runner and cheer for him.  

Official results for Rhythm & Blues 5K held on Sunday, February 10, 2013: 

Emily’s Official Time:  34:06

– 525 of 1174 finishers

– 67 of 159 females aged 30-34


Nick’s Official Time:  30:20

– 296 of 1174 finishers

– 36 of 62 males aged 30-34

2013 Color in Motion 5k

Color in Motion 5K was my first “color” run.  I have to say I was a little disappointed that it is advertised as a 5K, according to my Nike watch the course was a little over 3 miles.  That aside, it was a pretty fun run.

The race started at 9am.  We got there early so we had time to walk around.  They had heats every 5 minutes, we chose to run in the second heat. At the starting line, there was a dj playing music and tossing promotional items into the crowd.  There were a few overzealous runners, who used their color packets prior to the race.  We were able to remain clean until right before the race began.  

There were 4 color stations along the route:  red, purple, red green.  There were a few uphill spots along the route, which made me glad we’ve been running on a pedestrian bridge during our workouts.  I saw several people with strollers, pushing little ones.  I was surprised how many people were running with kids.  

At the end of the race, the route narrows to about two people wide.  There were plenty of people cheering at the end.  Kellie and I finished the race together, she caught me on an uphill.  By the end of the race, we were pretty “colored”.

We ran with a few friends, and met up with one another at the post-race party.  

The post-race party included the dj playing music and sponsors handing out more goodies.  If you didn’t have enough color from the race, the dj encouraged the finishers periodically to throw their color which created huge clouds of color!  And if that wasn’t enough color for the color enthusiasts, there were buckets of color scattered throughout the dance floor.

Once you had all of the color you could handle, there were two “blow stations”- two guys with leaf blowers that will blow the color right off of you!