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.

Elkhart Lake is Coming (2016)

It is with great pleasure that I announce that this weekend is my first anniversary in Triathlon!

Last year I registered for and subsequently raced my first triathlon. Elkhart Lake promised a great atmosphere and a short distance event that I was sure I could complete with the training I had done. I was given a sense of accomplishment leading up to the event and even following the event. I was sure that this was a sport I was going to continue.

The race was a bit tough for me. I was a first timer getting in the open water for the first time (the day of the race) and was grossly under prepared for the swim. On a 400 meter swim, I stopped several times to catch my breath and re-compose. I probably stopped as many times in Austin and Galveston and they are 5 times as long! Either way, I completed the swim. This year I don’t plan on stopping at all.

The bike was a bit rough as well. I remember the hills killing me, again, I was under prepared for what the race was going to be. I only really remember, vividly, one particular hill that I went up and on the back side coming down gained an enormous amount of speed. At the bottom of that hill was a greater than 90 degree turn where I hit my brakes and slid a bit due to the roads being a little wet. I was lucky enough that my bike recovered and I didn’t hit the ground. This year I plan to be a few MPH faster than last and have a much more successful bike.

The run was the killer for me (though even my time doesn’t reflect accurately how I felt). I was warned of a hill on the back side of the course. I went up the first hill and thought for sure I had overcome the challenge only to find that there was yet another, steeper and longer, hill. I am now prepared for that. I don’t plan on letting the run eat me up again this year.

All in all, I am super excited for this race and to improve my year on year results. Last year I finished in 1 hour 40 minutes. I plan to be a bit quicker this year. My time was good for 3rd from last in my age group. I don’t plan on being there again this year. The top competitors in my age group last year finished in just over 1 hour 10 minutes, I also don’t think I will be there. I only aim to be better than 2015 “Elkhart Lake Nick” and finish with a higher ranking (though this all depends on who shows up on race day).

Congratulations to all of the All in Racing athletes that raced last weekend and to those who will race this weekend with me and in other races.

Training Update

So I am getting myself ready for IM Texas 70.3 in Galveston and training has been anything but easy recently.  Some of that is because it is cruddy outside, some of it is because I was a sick for about a week (still am a little), and some is because training is hard and who wants to do it.  Today I had a text conversation with my coach who told me it will be impressive to PR my half having only done indoor training, but I have to say that this is probably pretty typical of any athlete that lives where we do.  There isn’t a lot of ways to train outside right now even if the occasional run isn’t out of the question.  The thought of getting on a bike in 30 degree weather and creating a wind (since I will be moving about 18 MPH) that will bring the temperature on my face down to 15 degrees.

Recently, we began using Training Peaks to plan and track workouts.  I was really disappointed to see so much red when I was sick.  Too bad I can’t go back and make those up.

Training Peaks Screenshot

The Snow is Melting

Today was the first time, in what seems like forever, that it was comfortable to be outside.  Don’t get me wrong, it was still cold, but I didn’t feel the need to bundle up like I was trekking through the snow in North Slope, Alaska.

This morning Nick and I ran a few errands, came home, and cooked lunch.  After we ate, we relaxed and may have taken a short nap.  Around 2pm, we took the dogs on a 2 mile walk.  They were excited to be outdoors for more than a few minutes.  The weather was nice, the snow had mostly melted, and the sun was shining.  Whoohoo!

After our walk, we completed our 2-hour bike ride with drills on the trainer, followed by a 15 minute easy run on the treadmill.  I can’t wait for warmer weather to be able to do some of these workouts outdoors.

Emily on the Trainer

Swim Canceled

Today’s swim was canceled due to unpredicted snowfall.  HOORAY!!  I mean, we really shouldn’t drive when the roads are icy….it’s a safety hazard.

Wisconsin Snow

On the way home, a car passing me lost control and drove into the median.  Nick and I both made it home safely, ate an extremely early dinner, played with the dogs inside, and are now vegging out on the couch.  Sorry, Coach, but I don’t think I have the motivation to do anything beyond sitting on the sofa, cuddled in a blanket, drinking hot cocoa.

Weekly Activity Report 01/10/2016

With the unbelievable cold weather lately, Nick and I were very happy to run outdoors on Saturday.  We brought Lou along for the run; hoping to tire her a little.  The air was crisp and a little breezier than I would have preferred, but it beats running on the treadmill.  Here are a few pictures from our run.

Emily and Unhappy Lou   Emily and Nick January 2016 Winter Run

And now for the fun stuff…our weekly activity stats are below.

Weekly Activity Report ending 01/10/2016:

Emily –
84,400 Fitbit steps (daily average 12,057)
Run 8.3 miles
Bike 14.4 miles
Swim 800 yds
Strength 30 minutes

Nick –
99,117 Fitbit steps (daily average 14,160)
Run 7.7 miles
Bike 14.6 miles
Swim 500 yds
Strength 30 minutes