Category Archives: Ironman

Remembering, Racing, and Ramblings: Remember the Ten Race Report

Today marked the first official race I’ve done since my marathon in December. Why the long lull? Attribute it to training, a busy schedule, or a minor case of ADD; In either event, I’ve lacked focus. Maybe that’s the wrong choice of words. It isn’t that I’ve lacked focus, it’s more like I’ve been dealing with too much of it. After my marathon, I took a month off, only to start back half-heartedly, running aimlessly with no real goal. Cue the inception of the triathlon/Ironman dream and a complete 180 in training, and suddenly it’s April. (Actually, let’s be honest: it probably isn’t due to any of the reasons listed above as much as it is the financial issue. A part-time office job on campus has been known to change people’s perspective on money and side-effects often include the common use of the sentence “You want how much for a gallon of milk?!” [Yes, I realize how depressing this statement is. Don’t judge me.]).

Anyhow, it was great to toe the start line again. Oddly enough, according to my pace group (7:00/mile), I was only about ten feet from the start line. Scary stuff for a guy who only ran a 4:47:22 marathon. In any event, I woke up about an hour before the race to get ready and eat a light breakfast of half a cinnamon bagel and a GU gel. Let me take another side note here and defend my GU use for a 10K. I’m the first proponent for not using nutrition supplements for any runs lasting shorter than an hour and a half or so, but I was reading an article yesterday about racing and the effects of lactic acid. Supposedly, caffeine slows down the buildup of lactic acid and mitigates some of the soreness felt after a hard run. I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a try.” So after consuming my bagel and GU chaser, I trotted out the door of my apartment to the starting line.

The race was taking place less than a half mile from my apartment. Perfect for a person like me. Morning person, I am not. I found my pace group, unsettlingly close to the start line and then commenced my favorite past time: watching people before a race. The way I see it, you’ve got three types of people before a race begins: the stretchers, the talkers, and the fidgety ones.

The stretchers are a common species and can usually be found along the perimeter of the starting line. Typically they are embracing a pole or a wall (sometimes a third party) for support and will, well, stretch right up to the gun.

The talkers need no explanation other than the fact that many of them seem to feel the need to share their PR’s with you either a) In an attempt to impress you, or b) In an attempt to reassure themselves that they can indeed do it. (Either that or they just want to make sure that they are standing in the middle of the right street, with the right group of people, doing the right activity. You don’t want to get a race mixed up with a protest, although I’ve found the amount of spandex to be a good gauge (depending on what protest).

The fidgety ones are the ones dashing to and fro. Examples include, but are not limited to: doing twenty yard sprints along the side of the street, jumping up and down, or perusing the beginning of the course (as if they won’t see it in a few minutes).

I witnessed the full gamut in the ten minutes I was waiting for the gun to go off. I’m not asserting that my way is the right way, but I take an attitude similar to how I view tests: this close to the event, there’s not much I can do to make it go any better. So there I stood patiently waiting. Then the sixty second announcement was made.

Me: “Hm, I wonder how long sixty seconds is.”

Then my brain after a little while: “Seems like it should be shorter than this.”

Announcer: “THIRTY SECONDS!”

Me: “See you worried for nothing.”

Brain: “That was a long thirty seconds, my guess is this guy can’t tell time-”

*GUN SHOT*

Me: “Confirmed: he definitely can’t tell time. That was more like fifty seconds, then a ten second warning.”

This conversation actually took place. Shaking off the shock of what was first the longest thirty seconds of my life, followed quickly by the shortest, we were off. The 6:00/mile group in front of me shot off like bats out of hell and I knew for certain I was going to get trampled. To my surprise and overall elation, I didn’t though. The course began with a gradual up hill for the first mile and a half which I completed in just under 7 minutes.

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My goal going into this race was to average 7:00/mile and finish in about 43:00. So far so good. I felt great going into the first two miles. I was using the Virtual Partner feature on my 910XT set to 7:00/mile. I was about 11 seconds ahead for the first two miles, but then faded just a bit. It was extremely flat from about mile 1.5 to 3.5 so I was disappointed that my splits were slower than my goal pace. No excuse today, it was 50 degrees with almost no wind. I stepped it up just in time for a couple more small inclines, so my pace wasn’t really affected too much.

I noted that after about mile 4 I began passing people that had passed me in the beginning. I may not be very fast, but endurance is one aspect I’m decent at. I began picking off people, one by one, all the way down to mile 6 when Blue Lightning passed me. I’m referring to him as Blue Lightning because that’s what it looked like. This guy had to have been pushing a 6:00/mile pace. Not wanting to give up my spot that easily, I got a great angle on the second to last turn and passed him. I felt like my race was against him at this point because you had the crazy fast people about 50-100 yards ahead of me, which I knew I couldn’t make happen, and the rest of the pack behind me. We dodged through the 5K walkers that were finishing up and I almost took out a little girl (not on purpose!) that decided she wanted to run in my space at the last minute. After a good fight lasting about a half mile, Blue Lightning truly lived up to his name and mopped the floor with me the last 0.2. I kept up as best I could squeezing out a 6:19/mile pace for the last portion. I crossed the finish line in 44:36 which was enough to earn me 7th out of 29 in my age group and 26th (out of about 500) overall. I was pleased! Coming off of an entire training season last year where I trained around 9:30/mile, I was elated that I was able to average 7:07/mile for the 10K distance.

The proof is in the puddin’, as they say…

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The overall winner finished in 32:33. I thought at that speed you were supposed to travel back in time. The Fiancee was able to snap a few pictures of me as I approached the finish. In the below pictures, I would just like to point out that the 5K and 10K courses merged. I wasn’t being beaten by a 70 year old. (Although, that has happened before. That’s a story for another time though.) I’m the one that’s not a woman.

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I think I inspired her to run with me…
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Okay, in the picture below you can see the culprit. Young girl, pink pants. In about a second and a half (as I’m passing) she darts out in front of me and nearly get’s taken out by a man on a mission to catch Blue Lightning.
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All in all it was a great race! Plenty of participants and a good number of spectators. It was a lot of fun to participate in a race again.

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Next week The Fiancee and I will be running the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon. Expect plenty of pictures and probably a few stories to highlight her first “official” foray into the world of long-distance running!

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Goals, Safety, and Road ID: Day 16

Today I want to talk about goals. Personal goals, specifically. It’s easy to throw out race dates and distances as goals, but deep down most of us have expectations of our performance that we are unwilling to admit to others. Maybe it’s the fear of embarrassment of not reaching these goals. If we keep them to ourselves, no one can ask, “did you finish in such-and-such time?”

As I’ve said before, I’m not a fast runner. I blame genetics. The Fiancee is 3 inches shorter than me, yet my knees fall below hers. Seriously, when I see pictures of myself in jeans, I’m often reminded of Yoda. All kidding aside, I’m guilty of the subject of today’s post. My goal last December was to finish my first marathon in under 4:30:00. All of my training up until that point indicated that it was possible, yet I never stated my goals to anyone other than The Fiancee. When people would ask, I’d say, “I’m just hoping to finish”. While this was true, in the back of my mind, I was hoping to break the 4:30:00 barrier. This didn’t happen though. I crossed the finish line in 4:47:22, elated, but ever so slightly disappointed in my performance.

There are two things I propose we all start doing. Number one: write down your goals. Hold yourself accountable. It’s easy to go into a race with a goal in the back of your mind, only to miss it, and then think, “well, I wasn’t really going for that anyway”. Embrace the challenge. That’s what I’ll be doing through this blog. In the near future, I’m going to post goals for each race listed in the Race Schedule.

Secondly: be specific with your goals. Instead of saying, “I want to finish in under 4 hours”, give yourself a finite goal and post it where you’ll see it daily. For runners, a goal might look like this: Finish the Oklahoma City Half-Marathon in under 1:30:00 and place in the top ten in my age group. For triathletes, set goals for each leg. An example at the Iron Distance might be: Finish the swim in 1:15:00, the bike in 6:00:00, and the run in 4:30:00 and finish in the top ten in my age group. Holding yourself accountable begins with holding yourself to certain standards. Don’t let the fear of embarrassment cause you to miss out on potential group of supporters just because you don’t want to be specific.

Lastly, I want to share a very important aspect of training with you all. Whether you’re a runner, a cyclist, or combine all three in triathlon, safety should always be first an all of our minds. This week I purchased a Road ID that includes all of my personal information just in case an accident occurs while out training. I used to carry my Driver’s License with me on long workouts, but I kept forgetting to take it out of my Camelbak or running jacket. Of course, I’d always remember the next day while out driving around (not good). This should alleviate that issue. All this is to say, they sent me a code for $1 off any Road ID, good until the end of the month. I realize it’s only a dollar, but hey, there’s most of the shipping ($1.49)! The coupon is good for 20 uses and I receive no incentives for any subsequent purchases. I just wanted to share the opportunity.

Just enter: ThanksZach24548268

I hope everyone had a productive and safe week! On the long training days I’m sure everyone will be doing this weekend (wink wink) take some time to consider what the goals are that you have for your performance. Whether they’re short or long term, don’t be afraid to write them down and don’t be afraid to share.

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Snow: Days 12,13 & 14

Well, I wish I could say that the reason I’ve missed a few days of posting is because the Oklahoma blizzard knocked out my power, sealed my door shut, and I’ve been living off Chewy Bars and Goldfish. Unfortunately, I can’t. In reality, the “blizzard” wasn’t much of blizzard at all. Here in good ol’ Stillwater America, we got about 2 inches. That’s it. At least not for us. 100 miles west of us, it’s a different story. There were parts of northwestern Oklahoma that received over 20 inches. That’s what I’d envisioned and had been hoping for. I suppose I’ll need to move farther north to make that dream a reality. Oh well.

My absence has been largely due to a shift in my focus. I’ve felt pulled in a hundred different directions lately. Between flying, running, triathlon, school, there’s not enough hours in the day. Monday and Tuesday school was canceled due to Oklahoma’s impending doom (blizzard). This gave me some time to do something I haven’t done in a long time: read.

I picked up Be Iron Fit and read about 3/4 of it over the last two days. It’s a great read, and actually, my first Ironman related book. I was afraid the information it would provide would be over my head (the first time I read about VO2 max I decided running might be too complicated for me), but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s absolutely perfect for those beginner questions that you “always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask”. At some point in the near future I’ll post some of my favorite tidbits of knowledge from this book.

In related news, I registered for my first triathlon! In June I’ll be participating in El Reno, Oklahoma’s Route 66 Olympic Triathlon. For those of you who don’t know, there are a few distances of triathlon races:

Sprint: 0.5 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, 3.1 mile run

Olympic: 0.93 mile swim, 24.9 mile bike, 6.2 mile run

Half-Ironman (70.3): 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run

Ironman (140.6): 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

I’m extremely excited about this opportunity because I’ve been looking for a race between the half-marathon in April and the full in October. This seemed to be the perfect distance and gave me time to complete a short 12 week training program to prepare. Expect some good updates as I get my feet wet (literally and figuratively) in the sport of triathlon. The only downside thus far is that I’ve found my excitement has carried over into my shopping habits. A few minutes after registering for my first triathlon, I was ordering a tri-suit. That said, it’s fuel for the blog and for my motivation.

Speaking of shopping, the FedEx guy delivered two packages of running/triathlon related goodness to my doorstep today: one running singlet, a tri top, and a bike pump. The first two aren’t too exciting (yay clothes, right?), but the bike pump I’m pretty excited to share with everyone. I got Lezyne Road Drive CFH. The pump and accompanying CO2 canister attach directly under the water bottle holder on the bike, making them available on either side of the water bottle. Without going into too much detail, I love it so far. Look for the review either tomorrow or Friday.

Today The Fiancee had a 4 mile run. The wind was gusting to 25mph and because she’s a princess (I mean that in the most loving and sarcastic way possible) she wanted to run inside. I wasn’t feeling another 40 minutes on the track (and I have tri-fever) so I decided to test out a short brick. Side note: a brick is two training segments back to back. Most of the time it includes a simulated transition. So, I hopped on a stationary bike and rode a little over 6.2 miles in 22 minutes, trying to keep my cadence over 100 RPM. I jumped off the bike ready to race up the steps to the track. Then I remembered: I forgot to wipe the bike down. Crap. I snatched a Wet Wipe and cleaned the machine like someone was chasing me. After taking twenty seconds to avoid being “that person”, I ran up to the track. It was super weird having no time between the two activities. I suppose during an Ironman you have time to mentally prepare for the coming event, but for me, after exiting the bike, my legs were still in circular motion mode, not horizontal. After a lap or two of feeling like a new-born giraffe, I finally started to settle in to the run. To my surprise, I was still able to maintain a 7:45/mile pace. I did 11 laps (1 mile) and called it quits. I walked for a while, taking inventory of my body. You know, I had to make sure the legs still knew their function and that my heart had gotten the memo that we’d stopped. I told The Fiancee afterwards that I was a new kind of tired. Which is funny because the workout only equated to about 30 minutes in motion. It’s true though. Two (or three) sports are certainly harder than one.

I left the gym feeling good, but slightly worried. If I was that tired after less than a Sprint Distance Triathlon, how on earth will I complete an Ironman in a little over a year? That’s a question that will be answered later, though. After all, you don’t complete a marathon after one training session. I’ll take it one step at a time, one mile at a time.

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Inauguration: Day 1

Valentine’s Day. I never understood why this innocuous day in February got such a bad wrap. Even when I was single, I never hated the day. I suppose it’s because I’m a fan of love. Not the public display, no-one-wants-to-see-that type of love, but the happy naiveté of youthful relationships. It wasn’t all that long ago for me, but I still look back on those times with a twinge of nostalgia.

Now, here I sit, a senior in college. Engaged. Moving in a matter of months to a new city. A new state, for that matter. Trying to make some semblance of making that new “place” a new “home”. I’m sure you’re very cognizant of the difference. The thought of moving doesn’t terrify me. Nor does the fact that I’ll be attempting to find a job for which I have no qualifications. (ADD Aside: Most people don’t realize how little you can do with a Commercial Pilot Certificate. There is literally, almost nothing. It’s the aviation equivalent of getting a Bachelor’s in Pre-Cold War Russian Literature. Rant over.) No,  the weight on my mind has been the impending challenges. The Certified Flight Instructor practical test before the end of May. One marathon in October and another in December. Throw in a marriage and a move and you’ve got your plate full.

I’ve also had this nagging feeling that I need to start writing. I don’t know what yet, or why. My senior english teacher told me that if I majored in anything other than english I’d be wasting my time. She expected me to become a writer. I suppose that’s the beauty of modern-day technology. Anyone with an agenda and an ISP can espouse their thoughts to the masses. Maybe that’s my goal with this blog. Trying to fulfill someone’s expectations, albeit without all the grandeur and apparent pretentiousness of the literary elite.

All jokes aside, I wanted this inaugural post to explain my attitudes and my goals. As far as the first point goes, I hope you’ve realized that overall, I’m a fairly jovial person, but a critically deep thinker. Two qualities that I feel society lacks today. The second point, my goals, is a much more broad subject. My goal for this blog is to chronicle my training and accomplishments. Any of you who have trained for an endurance event can relate to the number of hours you spend by yourself. Before my last marathon I peaked at about 40 miles per week. That’s a considerable amount of time to spend by yourself. You never truly know yourself until you’ve spent three hours alone on the country roads of Oklahoma. Self-reflection inevitably follows, followed either by self-loathing or  self-actualization. The latter was the case for me and I found that I was pretty comfortable with myself. Some of the most personal and awe-inspiring  moments I’ve experienced have occurred in the middle of a 20 mile Saturday run. It’s these moments, these flashes of perfection in an imperfect world that I want to capture and examine.

That’s really the heart and soul of this blog. “IronTry” is my attempt at giving a play on words deeper meaning. In May of next year I will be competing in my first Ironman. Hence the “iron” and “tri”, but it’s not really just a “tri” that I’m attempting. It’s the attempt itself. The “try”. The months of endless training. Pulling myself out of bed every morning, doing the work, and against all odds, finishing the race. I hope the metaphor is apparent in that last sentence because really, the hardest thing we do every day is wake up and get out of bed. Anyone can run 26.2 miles. It’s a test of endurance not commitment. That’s the point I want to make very clear in this post and on this day: that I am going to try my hardest in my training, and in my life, to finish the race. After all, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

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