Monday, September 23, 2013

Triatomics Go BIG!!!!!!!!!!!!

From our club's Sport's Chair, Clay Moseley:

I've been meaning to post something about a couple of our own Triatomics members who have "ventured farther into the food chain" and laid it out on the line in some of the biggest races in the world.

First off, our own Liz Miller went big at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Henderson, NV. For those of you who don't know about this race, it is a very hard course (just click on that link and the picture of the competitors on the bike says it all).  Just finishing it is tough.  Liz had an awesome time of 5:39 on that course, which is fantastic.  

Her age group (F30-34) was incredibly competitive; the most competitive women's age group, in fact.  The gal who won that AG placed 1st overall for the women age groupers, and 11th overall, including the pros (ahead of such pros as Leanda Cave, etc.).  The next age grouper was over 12 minutes back!

Anyway, great job to Liz!

Laurie on the podium. Click photo to see it larger.
This past weekend, Laurie Goddard scored a huge victory in the M65-69 age group at the XTERRA National Championship in Ogden, UT.  He's been on the verge of so many age group podiums and victories, so this is huge.  All of you who know Laurie and how hard he's worked and progressed in the off-road triathlons, then you know how big this is for him.  It is fantastic to see that he finally got that big one!!!

Does this mean that Dr. Goddard will be going to the World Championship in Maui???

Here's to Liz and Laurie!  You two represented us well and we're proud of you!

Also, many of you may not have seen/heard, but we hosted another pro triathlete in early September for his final training block in preparation for Ironman Lake Tahoe.  His name is Kirill Kotsegarov, and he's from Estonia.  A big congratulations to him for his 4th overall at Ironman Lake Tahoe.  

He loved training here and will likely be back.  He may come back and train with Viktor for perhaps one last end-o-season Ironman.  We'll see.

Again, WAY TO GO Liz and Laurie!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lake Powell Open Water Swimming

We are back from a week on the ultimate open-water long course – Lake Powell. What an outstanding week!  I swam pretty much every day but my longest swim was 1.25 miles around a kidney shaped course with no walls or contact with anything other than the back of the boat and water!

Lake Powell backs up behind the Glen Canyon dam and is supplied by the Colorado and San Juan Rivers.  The main channel is marked by floating buoys.  Each buoy has the number of miles to the dam painted on it.  We parked the Royal Flush, our 70’ houseboat, around buoy 110. 

Surface water temperature in the lake is complicated but varied between 78 and 85 degrees.  After a couple of windless days the surface temp will reach 85 in places.  The water below the surface is much cooler and when the wind blows and churns the water the very top dropped to near 80.  The water at your fingertips while swimming might be about 78.  When the wind hasn’t blown for a day the water will warm up to 82 and in the small side canyons where the wind doesn’t reach and the heat reflects off the nearby canyon walls the water can warm up to a blistering 85 in places.  If the sun is up the air is hot at Lake Powell.  I was a little worried about overheating when then water temps crept up but the wind is a regular event there so the worry was short lived.

A view across the lake at sunrise on a still morning.  The other side is probably a mile away and the cliff is hundreds of feet tall.
We parked the Royal Flush in a small bay off the main channel.   There were additional small bays on either side of our bay.  My long swim started in our bay, over to and around the bay to our north back across the mouth or our bay, over to and around the bay to our south and back to our bay. The main channel could get busy with boat traffic and waves they generated but our group of bays were small and saw no traffic other than our boats and the neighbor’s boat and paddle board. 

The water is deep at Lake Powell and gradual beaches are scarce.  It is not a place to learn to swim.  The depth off the back of our boat was 40’.  The depth of the main channel was beyond our fish finders’ range of 450’.  In most places the bank is a steep cliff or difficult-to-climb rocks so it can be hard to find a resting spot.

The walls of Lake Powell are magnificent.  I think the coolest part of swimming in Lake Powell are the views.  Imagine sight swimming on a 400’ cliff or swimming under an overhanging ledge with water dripping out of the overhang.  Or swimming by cliffs some of the rest of your group is cliff diving from.

This is part of our cove.  The boat is docked to the right just out of view.
One day I swam intervals.   1/10 mile easy swim to a rock on the other side of the bay and then a hard swim back.  The swims back were extra hard because it was into a strong wind.  It was kind of fun to body surf through the waves.  It was surprisingly easy to come up for air but I did have a few misses.

This was the course for my interval swim. At the bottom of the frame is the railing on the top deck of the boat.  The "small" rock at the water line was the other end of my course.  The rock is 1/10 of a mile away from the boat.
I swam with one of the Club’s open water floaters.  It was pretty handy and gave my wife peace of mind.  It is bright orange and easier for a boat to spot than a plain swimmer.  It is half dry bag and half buoy. It has a strap you fasten around your waist and a short lead from the waist strap to the floater. I put my GPS, shirt, hat, shoes, camera, and/or water bottle in the dry bag side, inflated the other side and strapped it around my waist.  It was a very light drag when swimming into the wind.  When the rest of the group boated over for cliff diving I put shoes, shirt, and camera in the bag and swam over.   On a long swim or interval swim I would take water and the GPS.  It can also be used as a floater if you need a rest and there is no purchase on the side of the lake.

On a swim with the open water floater
I tried my GPS, a Garmin Forerunner 310XT, on my wrist at East Park pool before the trip and was disappointed with the results.  Apparently you need the next model to accurately track swimming from your wrist.  It worked perfectly in the dry bag although the time is a little bit off because you have to start it, and then seal it up and vice versa at the end of the swim.

Fish, weeds and other beings of the wild water were not an issue.  The fish don’t like all the noise a swimmer makes.  One of our group was hanging out on a floater had a fish bite her hard enough to leave a bruise.  Weeds are not an issue either.  Most of the banks are too steep for vegetation, there is very little dirt, and the water level drops as much as 4” per day after the runoff.

I hope you all get a chance to visit and swim in Lake Powell. It is an awesome swimming pool (and a good fishing hole as well).

A crack in the wall we explored

Inside the crack



Saturday, August 3, 2013

This is Frank Cherne's One Run for Boston Experience.
On April 15, 2013, I was monitoring closely albeit remotely in New Mexico the progress of two of my friends who were running in the Boston Marathon.  The younger of the two, Joni I grew up with running as part of our grade school physical education program.  My other friend and former minister, Gary, I ran with during my first marathon in 2005 in Tuscon.  In a way I was running Boston marathon with them, this was as close as I was going to get considering my average running speeds would probably never get me a qualified berth for running Boston Marathon myself.

Then news of the blast filtered through the hallway at work and I sat there stunned and pulled up the athlete tracker for each of my friends.  Joni had crossed the finishline and from my best estimation Gary was near the blast zone.  My heart ached for knowledge of where he was at so Facebook was where I turned to.  Turned out he was 10 minutes from the finish line and he was stopped from finishing. 


With this background, I saw a posting somewhere on Facebook the opportunity to run in this epic relay the One Run for Boston.  I saw that the relay would take its journey through New Mexico not far from where I lived.  I then studied the map for each relay exchange very carefully and saw that the closest stages would be running through the night and were filling up fast.  Thanks to Hilary Lorenz and her crew of Santa Fe Striders. My procrastination in joining the cause meant I was going to have to travel a little further. The sacrifice was well worth it for the cause. The next closest stage available on a Friday, which I already had off, was Stage #93, all downhill by my estimation so I joined the stage and convinced the club president of the Triatomics Multisport to join me.  It was settled this was how I was going to participate in this epic cross-country relay. 


The relay started, my web browser was open to the One Run tracking page and occasionally the Facebook group capturing the progress through California and Arizona.  In studying the stages and seeing the relay was underway, on the 8th or 9th, I began to get nervous that the New Mexico stages were not going to be filled.  So in a plea on Facebook, I asked if anyone could help by signing up for the three remaining slots. Danny and Kate signed up for the longest stage left of 16 miles.  Then a Facebook friend request came from Will Allender and there we dialoged a bit about knowing that neither one of us felt that we would have the strength to perform a stage on Thursday and then the stage we originally signed up for.  There we made a pact to share in the burden for the remaining two stages. He had selected stage #76 and had Ronny Parks participating with him and I would do Stage #81 with his help.  I still needed to ask for the day off, if refused a sick leave day was going to happen for my mental health.  I could rest knowing that all of the New Mexico stages were covered.  Will and I exchanged numbers and there I not so patiently awaited okay I became glued to Facebook as much as I thought my work could tolerate.  So now I was signed up for two stages of the One Run for Boston, Stages #81 and #93.  The baton was on way to the way to the Land of Enchantment.  Tension mounted as to where the baton was in the poor cell phone coverage locations in Arizona and New Mexico and with my granted time off from work, I began studying the map.  Could it be that the start of Stage #93, Palo Flechado Pass would be the highest point of the relay? After studying the maps yes it was.  How great was it that I was given the chance to begin the “all downhill” from here to Boston.


After signing up, then I turned to a self-assessment of my body, my training had been very sporadic would I be able to run the equivalent of two half marathons within 24 hours of each other.  My weight had crept up as a result of spending many days on the road.  So I knew that it would be tough to maintain a 10 minute mile pace and not suffer a small amount of pain. Although, I knew deep down this pain and suffering was nothing compared to those who experienced the direct effects of the bombing in Boston.

The weather forecast for the Thursday was in the upper 90s with no relief in the forecast until late afternoon Friday.  With the uncertainty of the location of the Miles the now named baton, Thursday I set out very early for the little town of Cuba, NM mentally preparing to meet my new Facebook friend Will Allender. I texted Will while I was waiting for the road crew to let me pass.  His response was we are about 13 miles out of Cuba.  There went my plan of getting in a bike ride.  So I decided to make my way straight to where Danny and Kate were.  There I would join the caravan to Cuba and figure out the logistics later. 
Driving down the route, I spotted Danny receiving Miles and crossing the road dressed in the One Run t-shirt and his famous girlie Wal-mart special red shorts.  His skin was flushed.  After getting a shot of Danny passing, I introduced myself to Kate, Will, and Steve Bender. Sizing up this motley crew, I could see some of the warning signs of dehydration yet in spite of this plight each had a joy about them.  To make it through the hot high altitude desert they had chosen to do one-mile intervals.  Knowing that I had fresh legs, was used to the higher elevations, and fully hydrated I decided to jump right in with their intervals.  The baton “Miles” was handed to me and I felt inspired to show these heat-exhausted people what I was made of.  So I charged the first quarter mile at a sub-8 min/mile pace which is fast for me.  My heart raced and the effects of the lingering smoke from the Thomson Ridge forest fire of New Mexico hit me. So between the heat and lingering smoke, I began to wheeze almost uncontrollably, I was having an exercise induced asthma attack.  Slowing the pace and catching my breath reduced my heart rate where I could manage the remaining distance to the crew.  In spite of this asthma attack, this first mile run made me feel alive.   Running for the cause, running with people who cared about strangers, all of this brought back a child like joy to myself.

The next 4.5 hours spent handing off Miles Le Baton, flew by so fast and the smoke cloud of despair that had been lingering around me was totally lifted.  “Why the despair,” you may ask.  Eight months prior my life spiraled out of control when I found evidence that my wife the woman I loved deeply was cheating on me.  At the end of December, she packed her bags and moved to Bakersfield, CA.  The warmth and caring that was now surrounding me filled the love vacuum of my heart. It was a totally unexpected outcome of hanging out with Kate, Danny, Will, and Steve.

Handing off the baton to Marisa and Hilary Lorenz, ended Stage #81. Kate and Danny had some business to attend to and Hilary had opened her home to them.  Having directions to Hilary’s house coming from the opposite direction I was going, I served as a guide. Some of the roads I was travelling I was aware of but had never travelled before.  The red rock canyons, which had been cleansed and cooled by the thunderstorm that had passed through the area minutes if not hours before, served as an allegory that was taking place in my life. 

At Hilary’s place, I lingered around Danny and Kate long enough to volunteer to drive into Santa Fe to pick up the magnetic signs from the filtered water company that sponsored the One Run for I’d see Danny and Kate the next day for I had another stage to run.  Driving back to my home, I realized I was whole once again.

On Friday, the day of Stage #93, I picked up Bill Dunn my companion for the day and drove to the highest point in the relay, Palo Flechado pass.  Knowing Bill was eager to run and that he had to get in a bit of a hill workout, I dropped him off at the last steep climb before the pass to run with Phil Blong who we had just past on the route.  At the top of the pass, Danny and Kate were busy tearing apart the car looking for the source of the smell that was filling their vehicle. Scotty Gallant, Stage #94 arrived to see the baton transfer and provide emotional support with his support crew.  The family circle of selfless people was expanding.    

The downhill stage was a great choice aside from the fact that my quads were not prepared.  My friend Bill Dunn talked the whole way telling me about his fishing expeditions and his desire to be ahead of some of the local guys in his age group. We even discussed making plans for our next adventure. 

Handing off Miles Le Baton to Scotty was easy for the satisfied exhaustion had set in.  While stood talking with Danny and Kate, Scotty’s wife handed a 20 to Bill and I for post run refreshments. A local store owner’s husband found out what we were doing and brought out an Eagle Nest skull cap for all who remained.  Then Danny and Kate exchanged hugs with us, my commitment to the One Run for Boston was over, so I thought. 

While Bill, Nicole (Bill’s wife), and I ate our recovery meal in Eagle Nest, Bill reflected on the day and the people we had met.  Bill was concerned over what was sustaining Danny and Kate. So the birth of the idea to have something delivered to them somewhere between New Mexico and Oklahoma.  Bill studied the route found an appropriate time and phoned in an order for pizza in the middle of nowhere.

A few days later, I thought how much would it take for me to get to Boston and run the final stage(s). Looking at my frequent flyer miles, I thought perhaps not much. I put in the route from Albuquerque to Boston and my 39891 miles were 109 miles shy of the required number.  So how much would it take to buy a few more miles? $70 for 2000 more. Is it worth it?  I resolved that I would have to put out thoughts of going to Boston and just donate the money the miles would cost.  A week past and watching via Facebook the progress of Kate, Danny, and Miles, I longed to make the sacrifice and run in Boston. So I checked the flight schedule and mileage requirements once again—32500 miles, I could be there at the finish.  So I suggested that I could come out to Boston probing for information.  In a matter of hours, I had three or four offers to stay with them.  After doing a small amount of cyber-stalking, I accepted the first offer given, Magen Dodge for she not only offered a place to stay was willing to provide logistical support so I didn’t have to freak out about being in a strange city not knowing where to park and how to get around.

As I now had a place to stay, I could proceed to get the plane ticket. While I was going through the process of getting the ticket, Magen’s enthusiasm for the cause she was supporting flowed out of her fingers in the form of text messages coming my direction.  So with this piece of distraction combined by the thought I had answered every question to purchase the tickets.  I proceeded with possibly two Facebook message windows going at the same time.  In one of the conversations, or perhaps on the One Run for Boston Facebook page, a dialog ensued encouraging me to participate in the three.  I knew I could do the last two stages at the 10 min/mile pace yet three I knew would be pushing it.  The rational that caused me to cave to Robin Hubley-O’donnell’s suggestion to do the final three stages came when I thought of the people who were involved in the bombing.  My suffering on the last 20 miles would be nothing compared to their suffering. Now I was signed up for Stages 317-319.  All the while I was waiting for the airline’s confirmation of my airline tickets in my e-mail box.  So in the early morning, I opened the airline website and proceeded to go through the process I had done the night before, the mileage requirement had gone back up.  Guess I was not going.  Then the airline website started acting funny not replying to my inputs while I was looking for different travel dates. A few mouse clicks later it started acting more normally and now the flight options for 32500 had changed for the better. I now would have time to prepare for my trip to Seattle on the 3rd of July plus my travel times would not be as long. So many details were falling into place. Only one thing remained, ask for July 1st off from work.  So that afternoon permission for time off was asked for.  My team leader being out of town did not respond with the okay necessary.  So I talked with my deputy group leader and she said okay.  It helped that her husband came ran Boston in 2012.

Magen meanwhile was planning the party for me her out of town guest, which soon became her out of town guests, namely, Scott Allender and Steve Bender.  One of the plans included going to a barbeque with her good friends which changed to making a reservation for a party of 15 One Run for Boston participants.  She arranged to pick me up from the airport.  Justin O’connell was going to meet me there as well. Magen was quite a busy woman that week.  The warmth and welcoming by her and other Bostonian’s I was meeting online was quickly eroding all my previously formed prejudices toward the north east.

On June 29th, I arrived in Boston to be greeted by Justin who gave me a hug.  He made me feel like I was a rock star when all I was a runner who cared about the people whos lives had been changed by a senseless act of violence. Magen arrived at the curbside and she was as hospitable in person as she was on my computer screen and in my phone. Apologizing for the smell of wine in the car. A bottle of red wine had broken in her trunk permeating the entire car with its scent.  I threw in my laptop and my bags into the trunk and we drove off to the sports bar to begin the One Run pre-run meeting.

Before we get into the happenings of that Saturday evening, I have a confession to make. I am normally fairly cautious in groups of people sometimes feel socially awkward.  People began filtering in for this meeting, wish I could tell you the order, but their names were Elizabeth and Joe Dias; Magen Dodge; Skip Mann; Emily Matthews and her two sons Axel and Zeke; Elizabeth Miner; Justin O’connell; Sara Sanchez; Alex J. Silberman; Suzanne Webster; and myself.  The four hours we spent talking, eating, drinking, and getting acquainted flew by quickly.  Skip and I were the veterans who had met Kate and Danny, so we both shared our experiences plus the full feeling we had taking part in this small epic journey of runners across the country. Never once did I feel that social awkwardness that often arises in situations like these.  There I learned Sara had family in the Espanola valley, which is less than 20 miles away from my house. A moment after we took the group photos, it was amusing to watch Skip responding to all the new Facebook friend requests.  The uniqueness of this meet and greet experience was that there was no pressure to impress the people by our income, our employment, our successes in life, we were there for the express purpose of showing our support for the Boston bombing victims. We were a small part of a bigger epic journey across the United States.

June 30th, the run was running late but the atmosphere was one of excitement, joy, and support.  On this day Steve Bender and Scott Allender arrived around noon at Magen’s house.  With the delay “Momma” Magen taking care of her boys, Justin, Steve Bender, Scott Allender, and myself found a place to eat in Framingham where Steve and I would begin our run.  There I met many other people and I listened to the stories about their experience with the bombing.  The most memorable story emanated from Lynda Cowin Nijensohn, where she told of how her dad an orthopedic surgeon worked on many of the victims.  Getting these first hand experiences relayed to me made the trip more than worthwhile. 

The buzz of excitement exploded when the small gathering got first site of Miles Le Baton approached the small gathering of runners getting acquainted with their family.  Danny arrived in the pack sweating profusely but a quick hug was in order for besides him only Steve did I know longer than a week.  Miles handed off and we were off.  The pace being set was going to hurt me big time.  So I settled into my own rhythm.  Lynda knowing the area asked that we not get too far away.  So Elizabeth Dias and I stayed close to Lynda as we proceeded into Wellesley.  Lynda was only running to Wellesley so here Elizabeth and I were alone.  No we weren’t Justin was jumping out of his mom’s car to give us encouragement and directions.  Justin upon feeling confident that we knew where we were going, hops back into the car, and proceeds to ride on up ahead.  Elizabeth and I stayed together.  Elizabeth began to be fearful of missing out on the experience so we called to her husband Joe to head back and retrieve us.   He was Elizabeth’s night in shining armor and he drove us to along the course. There we saw Magen running with the yellow grass skirt Mia had given her.  The trio ran together up heart brake hill the fatigue was setting in.  My stomach began to cramp because of the food I had eaten earlier. So I tried to walk it off.  Magen and Elizabeth proceed on ahead of me while I tried to solve this gastrointenstial distress. Things had solved themselves when at least three ladies directed me down Massechusets Avenue. One of the ladies and I struck up a conversation and I found out her husband was one of the bombing victims I had come out to show my solidarity for.  How does a sensitive man hold back his emotion during a story like that? My silence was out of respect but also attempting to regain a sense of composure.  She carried a “Miles” across the finish line on Boylston Street. 

At the party in the Rattlesnake bar, I got to meet more new running friends, Cheryl Greeson where I was given a copy of the Boston Globe and a Boston Strong Duck (since named Miley B-Stong Ducklove after Miles Le Baton).  Seeing my friend Will Allender once again.  “Momma” Magen took her three boys, Steve, Scott, and myself to her place.  By the time each of us had bathed the sun was rising.  None of us had slept yet and having an early morning flight. Magen took me to the airport.  In my exhaustion the boarding call for my flight almost wasn’t heard.  Upon boarding the airplane, I sat down next to a lady heading back to Sacramento. In spite of my tiredness, I shared with her about my joyous experience.  She understood for she was a marathon runner and wish she had known about it so she could have participated too.

Since my first run with Danny, Kate, Steve, and Will, my life has been transformed in such a way that I still can’t stop talking about it.  The transformation I’ve seen in myself is I am reconnecting with my fellow human beings instead of being a recluse.  There was a rediscovering of the positive benefits of hugs. I became a Patriot’s and Boston Red Sox fan (please don’t tell my biological family this who are die hard San Francisco Giants and 49er’s fans).  I find myself sharing my experience with One Run with every person I can.  On average, I have talked about the experience with at least 4 people per week.  It is like I have become a One Run For Boston evangelist, in fact my experience will be woven into a sermon to be given in the future.  The following quote sums up my experience:

"Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible; it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.” ~Barbara de Angelis

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back at it...

I was pretty tired after the Storrie Lake Tri, but not as bad as I had expected.  We had a neighborhood party to get to once I got home, so I figured I'd just be hammered on Monday.  I was pleasantly surprised to not be so bad, but I did get a lot of headrushes and had to be outside for my work a lot (I'm a project manager for our county municipal utility department).  It was a busy day, but I did get a quick swim in just after work, right before having to rush over to Mila's pre-school to get her before they called child services.  No, I made it before the "overtime" charges start, but just barely.  Then, I felt tired.

We were so tired in the evening, and the kids just didn't want to get to sleep.  That is when all of this extracurricular triathlon stuff gets tough.  I have to step back sometimes and be sure it's not taking away from my family.  When I think it is, then I back off.  There are times when I get selfish and head out for a long training session, but those are getting few and far between now.  It is mostly quickie 45 minutes to 1.5 hour sessions.  Luckily, most races are only around 2 hours.  I'll have to figure something out before the two long races later this year.

We had our Tuesday night time trial tonight.  It was again quite breezy (unfavorably), dry, and "hot" for Los Alamos.  We used to get some cool evenings with some moisture starting about now, but dry, warm, and windy has been the rule more often than not these past 3 or 4 years.  Ugh, I'm tired of it.  I could go for a month of rain about now.

The TT went better than the two previous ones.  I had to change my gears on the back.  I was trying to use my "in shape, tough guy gears" before, but I put on a much easier cog for the climb out of the canyon this evening.  It worked.  I didn't turn into a mess of lactic acid so badly and had something to give on the rollers from the ski hill turn-off to the finish at the back gate.  I didn't have the big-11, but with the headwind, I didn't really need it.  If our conditions get more favorable, I'll put the tough-guy gears back on.

Great to see people turning out.  The "nooner" (as Dina likes to call it =) is also well attended.  Great job to all of you.  I'll get the results posted here and on the email lists sometime tomorrow, I hope.  I'm in charge of that nasty construction project (among other things) in the Western Area, so I'm not as on top of things as I would like to be.

But, life is good and I can't complain.

Get registered and get to training for the rest of the open water series races!  The course at City of Lakes is just so AWESOME!  You all gotta go do it if you can!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Storrie Lake(+Billy the Kid) Race Report - June 23, 2013

Ha ha!  Here I thought I was getting the ball rolling for new reports last year when I put the Storrie Lake and Billy the Kid Tri race reports up, but it seems we have all run out of blogging steam.  I think the usual tri club bloggers have all had some big things happening, and that is likely why no one posted anything since I did about a year ago.

Anyway, here is a repeat of the same two races, one year on:

Billy the Kid Triathlon - Ft. Sumner, NM
Once again, the "BtK" Tri has featured in the Chasing3 Open Water Tri Series.  Once again, it was not the best run race, promotionally speaking.  This year was lacking a lot of organization, but it is a beautiful venue and an interesting course, so it was still worth it.  This year's version was more or less a DIY tri, with just some folks turning out to go through the motions of a regular triathlon.

I'll leave out the gory details of poor organization.  But, everything was affected.  First off, the swim was totally wrong in it's distance.  It was quite long - probably exactly what a 70.3 swim should be.  That's OK, we need the practice.  The bike is not a 40km, but the course is challenging an consistently bumpy, so it still takes a while.  The run is long, and for some reason, they added more to it.

If you haven't heard me whining about it, I've had an ever-increasing back problem over the past few years that is really beginning to bug me, especially when I run.  Something happened late last season that made it worse, and I had a horrible start to my run training.  I've had to go see doctors, but you know how that is...mostly disappointing because they aren't really sure about anything.  They just tell me not to run and go get therapy.  So, the upside is that I have been getting some great PT and have become very aware of what is happening to my muscles and nerves due to the collapsed disks and injured facets of my lower vertebrae.  I've had to completely change the way I run, and do many other things, and it seems to be working, but I can't run "fast" like I used to.  It's frustrating, but at least I'm not all in pain like I had become there for a while.

The run at BtK was a bit frustrating.  I had done two XTERRA races the week before, both with less than fast runs, and the BtK was rough.  I also took a wrong turn (or rather, missed a turn) and had to double-back, but it didn't really matter.  I had been holding 2nd throughout the race, but with a very strong Frankie Benavidez always behind within striking distance.  This guy is fit and strong this year, and it didn't take him too long to dispense with me on the tough run.  I watched with envy as he sped up the road away from me.  Rance Irvin had the race locked up from the gun, with dominating performances in all three disciplines.

Lots of other folks out there had solid efforts on that tough course.

OK, on to the Storrie Lake Triathlon-turned-Duathlon:

By now, you've probably heard that there is a drought in the Land of Enchantment.  Storrie Lake just looked sad.  There was enough water to host a full triathlon, but the water was very turbid and we would have had to wade through knee deep mud and muck to get in and out of the water.  They made the right call in changing it over to a duathlon.

Poor Angie at Chasing3...she's had a rough year this year.  More on that in a later post, but she's been beaten up with some of the great events she has promoted over the last couple of years, and she just hasn't caught a break this year.  Now, this deal with the drought and having to alter the race to a duathlon.

Quite a few NM folks rallied though, and for that, I applaud you.  I am not quite sure why some people have issues with Chasing3 and the Open Water Series.  Again, more on that later.

Anyway, the day dawned beautiful.  I mean, very pretty, with the big moon and totally calm winds, and even a little chill in the air.  What a day for a race!

I was very concerned about my back for that first 5km opener.  I haven't been able to train well this year, and certainly have no speed in my legs.  I knew it was going to be ugly, and somehow, I had to keep my form and not get hurt.  I think I did a very good job, without losing too much ground.  But, it is still very frustrating to see where I could/should be, vs. where I am.  I was impressed with the speed of the leaders, and especially Danny Montoya, who put in a wicked 5km opener with a 15:11 or something like that.  Very fast!

I suffered a bit, but got better after the first mile.  Mile 2 improved, especially with the big hill we had to climb.  I still like running uphill, so that's good.  I also ran downhill fairly well.  The flats are more difficult.  I came in with a 16:38, about 9th, including teams.  I had some ground to make up on the bike.

Once out on the bike, it took a while longer to find my legs than usual, but it's probably because I had just run, not swum.  Thankfully, I did find my legs to some extent.  They were good, not 100% great.  I'll complain about my lack of training again, but keep it brief.  I've barely ridden my tri bike this year, and just don't have a lot of time in the saddle period, compared to years past.  Lots reasons for that, but I can tell that it is affecting my road tri power and speed.  Hopefully, I'll get a little better before the season is done.

Since there were a number of dudes up the road, I got to see how they ride and what all was going on.  There were some shenanigans with riding too close and etc., but whatever.  It happens sometimes and I don't think about it unless it is really bad.

Again Rance Irvin was crushing it and us.  I thought I was really having a fast ride because I was slowly grinding up to Marty Moriarty (who was competing in a relay) up the long hill past the Sapello turn-off, but at the turn-around, I saw that Rance was way out in front and going away further.  I kept at it, and slowly ground my way up to Danny Montoya, who was having a stellar day and a great ride on the bike.  I don't think I've ever seen him ride so strongly, so big kudos to him.  He was really giving it hell!

Unfortunately for me, Danny is a really fast runner, and it didn't take him long to whip up on me on the run.  He ran so fast that he actually got out of sight by the later part of the run.  That is hard on the mental aspect, knowing you're getting the tar beat out of you and there's nothing you can do.

But, I do have some positive feelings about that run, and the opening run.  Overall, they felt better and more natural.  It's been exhausting to go out running and have to think about posture and "neutral spine" on every single stride.  I was able to run during the race and not think about it quite so much.  So, I was not all that disappointed.

I had worked up to 2nd place, lost it quickly on the run to Danny, then held 3rd until the very end, when a hard-charging Tchad Leeds came pounding up behind me.  I was already pushing my back's limit by that point and could not accelerate to beat him at the line.  So, he took 3rd at the finish.  Later, he would receive a double penalty:  one for drafting and one for littering.  Those refs are serious when they warn you at the start about that stuff.  I've had to learn the hard way more than once myself.  The final result was that I got 3rd and he was relegated to 5th.

Angie had lots for the racers afterward, with prompt awards, food, and just plain fun post-race atmosphere. It was a great day to out at a race!

Big thanks to Angie and Chasing3, and all of the volunteers they found, and the Storrie Lake rangers and state police and volunteer fire fighter folks, etc.  They all made the race safe and fun.

Next up for most of you...the VERY awesome City of Lakes Triathlon in Santa Rosa.  You don't want to miss it.  Those courses are so cool.  I will have to miss it due to family vacation obligations, but will be back for the Cochiti Tri...woohoo!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Storrie Lake Race Report (from Clay)

Well, it's about time we started putting this year's race reports on the blog.  I've been meaning to, but man I've been busier than usual this year.  It just so happens that I found some free moments thanks to getting sick from something that Mila contracted somewhere and now I'm here at home in the middle of the day suffering in our overly warm, un-air-conditioned house.  

The Storrie Lake Triathlon is such a cool race.  The course is fantastic and the organization is superb.  It is definitely one of the best races around and at the top of the heap as far as New Mexico is concerned.  In my opinion, anything that is produced by Chasing3 is going to be one of the best races we have.  Just as a side-note, I'll rank my favorite local triathlons like this:
Race Director, Angie Kandalaft (owner of Chasing3) putting on one hell of a great race!!!

1.  Storrie Lake, Cochiti Lake, Elephant Man, XTERRA Four Corners (tie) [all open water, great courses]
2.  Milkman, Dam It Man, Bottomless F-1 (tie) [all short distance with great open water and great courses]
3.  Socorro Chile Harvest (great course, outdoor pool swim)
4.  Billy the Kid Tombstone Olympic (needs some improvements, but lots of potential), Grady Williams in Farmington (now cancelled, was a cool race)
5.  Patriot Tri & Candyman (sort-of repeat races at the Rio Rancho pool, but well-organized with great courses)
6.  Spring Fling (yet another pool swim at Rio Rancho, good for an early season tune-up, but you have to watch out for traffic on the bike course...some improvement needed there) & Jay Benson (kind of a boring course and lots of trouble with the base, etc.; this one is a must for an early-season tune-up with it being the Abq World Championships.  It's also very well organized and promoted by my sponsor, Sport Systems)

Sorry, that was a long side-note.  I just wanted to give some perspective on how great the Storrie Lake Triathlon is.  And another early apology here...I'm going to vent about my less than expected result in every painful detail (as Dina describes it).

This year, as in many years previous, the water level was low.  It was VERY low this year, but just fine for putting on a race in the 2-loop format of 750 meters per lap, which I quite like.  The bike course is fantastic, but unfortunately the DOT put in those huge drunk strips that causes some issues here and there.  At race speed, I just have to ride in the lane because of space issues passing other riders, etc.  It works out well most of the time, but I did get crowded and honked at by a big truck right at the sprint race turn-around.  The run course is so cool with a mix of quiet back roads, some dirt roads that are scenic, and a challenging section coming back to the finish along Hwy 518, which is also scenic.  It is a great venue for a triathlon.  Add in the nice camping at a well-kept state park and you have everything you can ask for.

Looking out over Storrie Lake from T1, with boat ramp exit in the foreground.  It's a pretty setting for a lake.
Las Vegas is also an interesting town.  It's a bit different, yet also very familiar New Mexico.  It's a quirky place with two universities, so there are lots of modern amenities, but also with that rough-around-the-edges feel of most New Mexico towns.  We ate at El Fidel restaurant, at the historic hotel of the same name, and just loved the awesome food there.  What a treat!

At last year's race: Bear, club prez Bill Dunn, Timo
This year's weather was also a 180-degree difference from the year before.  It even showered nicely the evening before, giving a fresh feel to the morning.  Race day weather was just beautiful, though it got a bit hot by the time the race was finished.

I had high hopes for this race, as I have been feeling great and training pretty well, or at least as much as my life allows these days.  Unfortunately, Mila got very sick the week prior, as did Dina and so things started to get a little messy around the house.  We bailed on our original plan to take the camper and make it a family camping trip, so I had to go solo, which isn't as much fun as it used to be, especially when Mila was so upset and Dina was very tired when I left on Saturday.  That made it hard to leave.

I was lucky to hook up with my buddy, Keven Kandalaft in Las Vegas, and we scoped things out with a couple of his buddies from Boulder.  One of his friends is a wicked fast swimmer and was the first out of the water for the swim prime.

On to my own race:  race start was an early 7am, so Kevin and I got up at 4am to get breakfast down and get out to the lake and get set up and warmed up with time to spare.  It was all so easy and I was very ready to go with even some time to fiddle with the brakes on my new Felt DA.  It's a great bike, but it's a little tight with the brakes under the stays.

Normally, I would have been so amped up and ready to go, but I was feeling a little lethargic.  That is not normal for me on race mornings but I ignored it and did everything I could to get my mind on the game.  I went and got a good swim warm up, but just didn't feel spunky.  We meddled around a bit for the timers to get set and for the kayakers to get into the water and in that time I felt a wave of something "not quite right" but didn't know what it was exactly.

Last year's swim start
I actually got off to a pretty good start on the swim, but was hurting far too much and too early.  I stuck it out as best I could and found a couple of feet to follow toward the end of the first lap of 750 meters.  I just focused on following those feet the whole second lap (I think it was Kristin Moriarty and Philip Sunderland, with Chris Werth touching my feet from time to time).  Overall, the swim was good without the usual bloody scrum at the front and some good open water, so I hoped for a miracle out on the bike...

The women's wave starting in the 2011 race
Once out of the water, I felt super gassed.  I was all full of acid and didn't feel good on the longish run up the boat ramp.  In comparison, I felt awesome running up that same ramp last year...I remember it well.

Out on the bike, I messed around WAY too long with my shoes, and Kristin Moriarty had to ask me if everything was all right as I left T1 just ahead and she had to get around me messing around.  I finally got them on and barely could get past her for the longest time.  I watched as my main competition, Randy Arriola, pulled away from me with some authority.  It was not a good feeling and it only seemingly got worse until I just finally got angry with the situation and went all-out over the first climb in a do-or-die attempt to jump start my body.  I had hoped that I was just "blocked up" and needed to blow it out of my system to get going, but the weak feeling never really subsided.  It did get a little better once I got some recovery on the descent into the Sapello valley, and I motored with everything I had up that long, gradual hill to the turn around.  Things didn't seem too out of hand when I saw both Randy and Rance Irvin at the turnaround, only about a minute and some change ahead of me.  I figured if I could find my legs on the way back, I might have a chance if I could also keep things on the mend in the run.

But, there was no miracle to had on that day.  I did gain a little time back on Randy on the return, coming in less than a minute behind him at T2 (which I suppose is a miracle considering how I was feeling).  Rance flatted just ahead of me, so that variable was taken out of the equation.  He has not been running his best this season with some sort of foot problem, so I had figured I had a chance to catch him if my run held up.  Randy runs well, so with him able to kick my butt on the bike, I figured he was really gonna give me hell on the run.

Since Dina can't race this season, I thought it would be nice to add her to the  blog.  Here she is leaving T1 at the 2011 race
One of the main problems I was having, besides feeling super-weak, was that I wasn't able to ingest anything without it making me feel sick and wanting to come back up.  I didn't take in nearly enough fluids for the event (less than one water bottle), much of which DID come back up while out on the bike.  That wasn't good.

Coming into T2, Randy was just about leaving and was about 30+ seconds up on me.  I tried to hustle through, but I realized I was in trouble when all my muscles were cramping while trying to put on my shoes.  I sucked it up after taking a few extra seconds to stand straight up and grab my abdominal muscles that had seized up on me (and are still sore right now) in order to make one last big attempt at bending down to get my other shoe on.  Once my shoes were on, I hobbled out of T2 and did my best to find a quick rhythm.

I did manage to relax and find a comfort zone for a while, the problem was that it was slow and I just didn't have anything more to give.  I just locked into that and focused on doing everything as efficiently as possible.  Again, I could barely take anything at the aid stations, yet I was dehydrating rapidly and knew I needed fluids, so I mainly just threw water on myself and used it to re-hydrate my lips.  At one point, I just decided to turn my mind off to the situation and see how far that got me before I started thinking about the situation getting more critical.

Somewhere at the far end of the run course, I was feeling downright ill.  I wanted to quit, but there was nowhere to quit.  I would have just died out in the middle of nowhere so I kept on I was miraculously still in 2nd.  I looked down and realized I wasn't moving that slowly and that I had a long way to go before I was walking, so I kept it up.  I managed to make it to with about 1/4 of a mile before a hard-charging Richard Sena came flying by me.  Needless to say, I had no response and that final 400 meters felt like an eternity!

I was bummed about the whole thing, but really, I'm also a little amazed that I ended up 3rd.  I had a feeling that I had been getting stronger and should have been quite good, but something caught up to me right during the race and knocked me down a few notches.  I was pretty ill afterward and just did what I could to get myself home and to take a nap.  I was sick all through the night but slept well anyway.  I still felt crummy today too, but another long nap has helped.  I'm gonna rest for a couple of more days before doing any light training.  It'll also help me get caught up on some things, so it's not all bad.

The cool thing was to log on today and see how everyone did in their IM and 70.3 races.  Congratulations to all of you who did those events!!! 

Again, sorry for all the gory details.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Billy the Kid Tombstone Olympic Tri

I'll add a quick blog about this "new" race at Sumner Lake near Ft. Sumner.  I think this was actually the 3rd year for this event, but it has been a relatively small affair and it never fit into our schedule, so we hadn't gone to it before this year.  Chasing3 added it to their "open water series," so it got put on my schedule right then and there.  They also have a sprint version of this race that was quite popular.  So, there's something for everyone.

The trip to the lake is not so bad, as Hwy 285 gets us down to I-40 so quickly, then it's just a quick trip to Santa Rosa (also a great place for some training with all of their lakes, and one of the venues for a new open-water sprint race in August).  It's about 38 miles from Santa Rosa to Sumner Lake, so it's quite easy to stay there where there are far more amenities.  But, Ft. Sumner is kinda cool with the Pecos River flowing through it and there being some very nice quiet and scenic roads to ride on.  I love riding down to Bosque Redondo and Billy the Kid's grave from town and back.

Mila playing on the cool rocks that ring much of the lake.  It's a pretty venue.
Anyway, this race is directed by the local school superintendent.  It's a great venue with LOTS of potential.  As is somewhat the case with many rural areas of NM, the roads are less than smooth, so that is the main drawback of the venue.  It's not that bad, but the road is a little rough, much like NM-4, actually.

The lake is on the Pecos River, so it's a little murky but nice water.  It's also not all that chilly.  The swim course needs to be altered.  They ran it as an out-and-back style course with one buoy on the far end and one on the near end.  That caused a lot of messes with the two-way traffic.  One more buoy just a little off of the swim line would have helped tremendously.

Racers getting ready for the swim.  They didn't provide any swim caps...not a big deal, but kinda different...
A wider angle shot of the random swim start staging
I had a somewhat crummy swim for me -- my back had been bothering me from before Jay Benson and I aggravated it the week before.  Otherwise, the rest of me felt pretty good.  I was just off in the swim due to the tender muscles and didn't pull 100%, nor evenly.  I ended up in a not-so-great group that didn't sight well and so we didn't have a very good swim time relative to the leaders.  This would affect the entire race for me.

This shot says it all.  That's me all locked up and trying to move after a lousy swim.  My back bothered me pretty badly that day.
The exit from the swim is up a typical NM boat ramp, but not as steep as some of the others.  The transition area is in a nice, although rough-pavement, parking lot.  The state park is not that big, but nice and scenic.  The roads are rough with some speed bumps that are a minor nuisance but not that bad.  It's important to use good tires at this race.

Out on the bike, I put the hammer down (I had made a mistake in getting out of the park and it cost me probably 20 or 30 seconds overall).  I was going WAY too fast over a roller that led down to a sharp curve going over the dam.  I nearly didn't make the curve, twice actually, before getting my mind in the game and getting over the dam.  The road is narrow and open to traffic, so there were some cars behind some of the other racers who were faster on the swim than I was, so that was a little sketchy getting around all of that.  Then, it was open road.  I felt good, but saw that I had a HUGE gap to make up on the front-runners.  I didn't panic and just did what I had to do.  Fortunately, my back wasn't bothering me on the bike and I was able to really crank it out.

Coming back to the lake, we made a turn-off of the route out to an even narrower road that went down and around a curve that many of us nearly missed, as there was a dirt road leading off the apex of the 90 degree bend.  It looked like the way to go, so I over-cooked it and had to skid and hook a tight, slow turn to get back on course.  I think a lot of folks did that.  It was a bummer, as I was just about to catch the 2nd-place guy (Ken Corigliano) at the time.

Coming in from the bike.  I felt good and hammered hard on the bike.  I forgot my racing suit at home and had to race Tarzan style =)
I finally got off that little road and passed Ken and hauled it back into T2, where it was a bit confusing as to where we dismounted.  My back was bugging by that time and I had a slower-than-usual T2, but not too bad.  I was really locked up and my whole body was reacting to the tightness in my back.  I tried to find a comfortable position to get my rhythm, but it was a significant uphill in the first mile of the run.  I heard footsteps and knew Corigliano was a fast runner.  He passed me with authority and I shuddered to think how much time he was going to put on me if that situation kept up.  I fought hard mentally to not think about it and just focus on getting my body to come around and find a comfortable running stride.

Out of the park and over the first big hill, I watched as Corigliano strode away from me.  But up ahead, I saw Rance Irvin not making any progress on me at all and in fact, was seemingly coming closer into view.  I was heartened by that, so I worked on getting my effort going even better.

There was another hill up to the first aid station and so I was able to get two good cups of water.  I had hydrated well on the bike, so I didn't need to drink too much, even though it was hot without much of a breeze.  I put most of the water on my back and legs, and that did something to help my back relax quite a bit.  I suddenly felt myself becoming more comfortable and moving faster.  I was pleased to see that Corigliano was not advancing his gap as quickly as before, and that Rance was also getting closer.  I just increased my tempo and overall speed as my body allowed, and before I knew it, I was really running and feeling not so bad as before.

The return home was great, actually.  I ran well and got closer to Rance and even ran faster than Corigliano for a time, but when he caught Rance, there was an increase in both of their speeds, so I started running out of real estate to move up.  By the end, they both had over a minute in hand on me, but it had been much more earlier.  My bike/run time was better than Corigliano's by about 40 seconds or so, and well over a minute faster than Rance's, even though he had a great bike too and we were basically even (I think I nipped him by one second =).

What started out as a disaster of a run turned into a pretty decent run...I still lost a lot of time at the beginning, but pulled it out by the end.

 So, it wasn't a win, but I was actually not bummed about it.  I fought the entire way and without such a sad swim, it would have been a great race for me.  I like the venue and everything, but there are definitely some details that need to be attended to and some major improvements made overall.  It has a lot of potential as a really good race.  We'll go back if they have it again in the future.  It's a fun event overall in a cool part of the state.