Monday, May 11, 2015

Heroes Memorial Climb

I raced in the inaugural Heroes Memorial Climb, twice up the Reunion Tower in Dallas, benefitting first responders. I wound up finishing third in the competitive wave. According to my watch my climb times were about 6:11 and 6:52, but my official combined time came out to 13:12. I had maybe five minutes of recovery between climbs, waiting for the elevator back down. After the second climb I went outside for the opening ceremony, afterward following the firefighters and police back into the building. The event organizer had said we could climb as many times as we wanted, so I followed everybody else right into the stairs. My third climb was about 7:20, and I went right back up after coming down the elevator for a time of 7:22 by my watch. I took a longer break after the fourth to take some pictures at the top. I went most of the way up the fifth time with my friend Robert, who was doing his ninth climb. Five was my limit, with a final time of 7:55.
The stairs were quite confusing to me the first time up. Most of the way it's a pretty standard flight, landing, 180-degree turn, next flight. However there's a second stairwell entwined going the opposite direction. With the poor lighting and open-backed metal stairs my mind was confused. Also, since it's a tower with no occupied space until the "pod" level, there aren't regular indicators of progress. There is an occasional spray-painted "20" or "45" to indicate the level, but they're easy to miss. Eventually you get close to the pod and the top treads have been painted. The stairs change in the pod to a triangular formation, brightly lit, clean, and much nicer materials than the rest of the stairs.
The event in general was a good one. It was cool to see so many first responders climbing in their gear, and to be able to climb with them (later climbs, they weren't in there during the competitive wave). The stairs are super wide so there was plenty of room for everybody. I have no idea how good of a fundraiser it was, there weren't a ton of people, at least not that I saw. Probably fewer than 200 people did the event, maybe 40 of those were first responders. There are things they could improve, but it went pretty smoothly for a first-time event.

The Rookie Tri

My third time doing the Rookie Tri was my slowest yet, but I have a pretty good excuse. Whereas last year I did this race a day after doing a 100-mile bike ride, this year I did it one week after a 45-mile hike/run across the Grand Canyon and back (aka Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim or R3) in 19 1/2 hours. Considering my quads were so sore I could barely walk down stairs the two days after and a bad blister on my left big toe hindered walking on flat ground, that I was only 30 seconds slower is pretty good in my book.
After getting home late Monday night, I did some light workouts through the week. A bit of swimming and biking was fine, but the two attempts at running did not go so well. I didn't manage more than a couple miles, and not a very good pace. I picked up my packet on Saturday and my only goal for the race was to have fun.
When I set up my transition Sunday I made the unfortunate discovery that I didn't have insoles for my running shoes. That's definitely something I should have checked after barely getting over a bad blister. I briefly considered doing the run barefoot or use my only other footwear- flip flops. I decided the shoes would be the best option, and hopefully it wouldn't be too bad for two miles. I was feeling a little pressed for time, but kept running into friends and had to say hi. I had plenty of time in the end, and of course I like seeing my friends, but I was a touch frazzled.
Like most triathlons seem to be doing, this race has changed from a wave start to a time-trial start, so there was some clear water at the start, but even over 300 meters there's plenty of overtaking. I didn't really pay much attention to the other people in the water other than a bit of a pileup at the second turn and again at the exit. My swim time was slower than slower than previous races. I would say it might be because the swim exit timing mat was closer to transition, rather than being right at the water's edge, but that would mean I was slower getting on my bike because my T1 time was slower as well.
Somehow I had my best bike split, however. I'll give credit to my fancy bike and to chasing my friend. This was my second sprint tri with the bike I bought from a pro triathlete after Ironman Wisconsin last fall. I'm sure its aerodynamic advantages over my old bike make a miniscule difference over 11 miles, but it is lighter which does make a difference on a rolling course. My friend David passed me as I was getting strapped in coming out of transition, but didn't just zip away like every other race. I actually caught up and passed him briefly before he passed again. He never did get too far ahead of me, and psychologically dragged me along with him.
My run was my slowest yet at this race, but I amazed myself by running a steady 8-minute pace for two miles. I did get a small blister on my left instep, but it hasn't been problematic.
I hung around for quite a while after the race, long enough to see a few friends and teammates get awards. I could have used a nap in the afternoon, but wound up going to my friend's house for a post-race party.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CF San Antonio Run/Climb / Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Half Marathon

After two weekends of disappointing racing, I had a good weekend of back-to-back races in San Antonio, very unlike each other, and both a little different than anything I've done in the past. Saturday was a stair race, but starting with a 1-mile run (actually it was a little short due to construction); Sunday was a half marathon but on trails and a fair bit of elevation, a bit steep in a couple spots. I finished 17th overall in the combined run/climb, but I was ninth quickest on the stairs, a far sight better than last week in Dallas. While my time Sunday of 2 hours even was a little quicker than two weeks ago at 3M, the course was probably a mile short, so it would have been slower; it still was much better in that I put in a consistent effort throughout the race. While my weight hasn't dropped appreciably, it has been trending in the proper direction. Altogether, I feel this is a good indication my fitness is finally heading back in the right direction.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Big D Climb

I had one of my worst stair races yet this past Saturday, at the Big D Climb in Dallas. Probably the biggest factor was residual fatigue from 3M half marathon a week prior, plus of course the things that made that go poorly (lack of training, excess weight). It wasn't an entirely negative experience, however. My West Coast Labels/X-Gym team was well represented, drawing racers in from around Texas and around the country, and even as far away as Denmark, so I got to hang out with my "step siblings." And of course this is a charity fundraising event, benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which has become more relevant to me since Austin pro triathlete Amy Marsh was diagnosed with AML.
While the race this year was in a new building, it was about the same height as last year's race (finishing on the 53rd floor of a 62-story building) so it was very disappointing to be 2 minutes slower, at 9:34. While 34th (out of 1387) may not be my lowest finish in a stair race, it is really disappointing for the level of competition.

Monday, January 26, 2015

3M Half Marathon Race Report

If the 2015 3M Half Marathon went poorly for me, I really only have myself to blame. Arriving super late, just before the start (and being in the port-o-potty line when the gun went off) was obviously my fault, as I somehow got it in my head that the start time was 7:30 and only realized at 6:15 that it was actually 7am. I certainly can't blame anyone else for my lack of training that led to a slow time and sore legs; this race was only my fifth run of 2015, and was twice as long as the next longest. I could attempt to blame lousy weather and allergies for the lack of running, but that's just an excuse. Plenty of other people were out running in the same cold rain and with the same cedar fever. I'm not sure I could have fully prevented the horrible blistering I got on my left foot, but I could have taken steps to mitigate it. If I had been properly prepared, it would have been a good day for a good race- the weather was mid-forties, sunny, with mostly favorable winds. As it was my 2:03:43 just barely cleared my lowest performance benchmark- quicker than my best run in a Half Ironman (a 2:05 at Galveston 2014). I finished in 2493rd place, which means I probably passed 3000 people since I started almost at the back of the 5485 recorded finishers. If you add up the number I passed miles 0-4 and mile 13 and don't subtract the number that passed me miles 4-12 it could be substantially higher.