Saturday, September 28, 2013

Illinois highpoint / Ironman Wisconsin

Several years ago, when I was on a road trip through the midwest, I attempted to visit the highest natural point in Illinois (the Willis/Sears tower, which I have climbed, is actually higher), not realizing it's on private property, and they only allow access four weekends a year. It's been on my list to go back on an open weekend ever since. When I was considering this year's dates, September 7-8 was the only weekend that would work with everything else I already had planned. That date seemed familiar, and I eventually realized that was the same weekend as Ironman Wisconsin in Madison, which is not far away. I decided to make a weekend of it: Fly to Chicago, rent a car, visit the highpoint, volunteer for the Ironman, and sign up to race next year.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Marathon Relay

For the third straight year, I raced on my company's team for the Marathon Relay. The format was quite different this year from previous years. Instead of five legs of different lengths (12k, 10k, 10k, 5k, 5k), it was six equal 4.37 mile legs. Or at least it was supposed to be. There was some mixup, and the first leg was short, about 3.9 miles. I spoke with an official, and apparently they moved the turnaround cone on Cesar Chavez once all the first-leg runners had been through. I had the good (or bad, depending how you look at it) fortune of being first for one of three teams fielded by my company, the "fast team."
The course was the same as many other downtown races, along Riverside, across the South First bridge, down Cesar Chavez, and back. One other change made this year was to have an actual baton to pass, with the timing chip inside of it. Having never run track (at least until an all-comers meet this summer), let alone relays, it was kind of weird to me to carry a baton. I was a little worried it would slip out of my hand, especially once it got really sweaty. It didn't slip out, and other than a brief second to find my next runner, the handoff went smoothly.
I had a goal pace for this race of 7:15. Thanks to superb fall weather of 65 degrees, and finding a good pacer for the final miles, I surpassed that goal, with a 7:02 overall average (at least according to my watch). Not bad for less than a week after climbing Mt. Rainier. The guy I found to chase/pace off of for the back stretch is a guy I see around all the time, but don't actually know. He dropped me in the final quarter mile, but I don't think I would have maintained my pace through the whole race without someone to follow. My pace tends to be somewhere between the really fast people and the moderately fast people, so at some races I start to feel like I'm all alone. I was grateful for some company this time.
After my race, I told the other team runners the course was short, then had to go back once I found out the distance had been fixed. I stuck around a little while to cheer some folks on, then went for some breakfast. I've been meaning to go to this place Bacon for a while, which has chicken & waffles, a favorite post-run breakfast I haven't had in a while. It was pretty darned delicious, with strips of bacon in the waffle. I have a friend who advocates bacon as a recovery food; I'll have to take him there next time he's in Austin.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ride Americas / TriRock Austin

With a long Labor Day weekend, I had a chance to get in more events than I do on a normal weekend. On Saturday, I participated in the inaugural Ride Americas at the Circuit of the Americas (Formula 1) track. It was not a race, or even timed, more of a fun ride, but I considered it as something of a gran fondo, seeing how many laps I could do in the three-hour period. I think 16 is a respectable number, the same as a guy I happened to run into the next day wearing the event shirt. However, I payed for it a little when I raced TriRock on Monday. The Olympic-distance triathlon went okay, but I was a bit disappointed to end up 10 seconds slower than the last time I did this race, two years ago, when it was still called the Austin Triathlon. I felt those 16 times up turn 1 of CotA biking up Congress Avenue. But the worst part is probably that my splits were all slightly quicker than last time. Basically, I lost to myself in transition.