First Timer Success (St. Paddy’s Day 5K) – 3/10/18

As I’ve said many times in the past, I am not a strong runner. I didn’t really start running until 2014, and that was after almost 20 years of not doing it. But it’s part of the Triathlon, so I can’t just avoid it…

Knowing that I need to get better prior to the main season starts, and knowing that running by myself isn’t always the greatest (mostly because I end up doing a 11 min 1st mile and are drained for the rest), I went looking for a plan B. This was and is to do multiple 5Ks starting in March. I figured that this would not only give me someone to run with but also force me run, hard.

Having not been able to find guides to run with me through my friends, I reached out to Achilles Chicago. They did an amazing job with finding guides for me. I believe that within about 24 hours of my initial e-mail, they had found guides for all 3 March races/runs for me!

My guide for this race (Jen) was just starting out her guiding career. She did an amazing job for her first time! And for those who might be thinking ‘I’d like to do that, but I can’t because I’ve never done it’, I encourage you to still try. If you can run, if you’ve got a good attitude and you’re willing to give up your race to help someone else, you meet all the criteria. If you have an interest in doing it, reach out to your local Achilles chapter or running company for help on getting started!

While Heed was in my bottle as usual, the real help for this race was Endrolytes. During a really bad Half a couple years ago, one of my guides told me about starting them 3 days out to help minimize issues. I’ve been doing that since and it’s worked well.

As we started the race, we were greeted with a nice long uphill. For those of you who are wondering, no I don’t intentionally choose to run hilly races (see Columbus). The hills just know where I live; they stalk me and try to see if they can break me. So far they keep losing… We were able to keep the pace and I was able to keep going throughout the hills (up and down) for about 1.75 miles before I had to walk to catch my breath.

As we made the turn at mile 2, we were greeted with a really nice surprise… more hills! What goes down (into mile 2) must come up (towards mile 3). At about 2.5, the normal numbness that I sometimes get came up and I had to walk for a little bit until it relaxed enough to run. Remember those lovely hills at the start? We got to finish going down them, and I thought the finish was just around the turn. So I was giving it everything. However, it turned out to be around the corner and down a few blocks. Quite an interesting .1 to run when you’ve already kicked it. Even with very little left, we still finished strong and in the right pace area. That happened mainly because Jen’s counting, which I was focusing on during that last .1.

I had such a great time, and am grateful to both Achilles for the connection and Jen for running with me. I wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise!

Eagle Convocation (Arnold Indoor Tri) – 3/3/18

As I started planning my path to qualify in 2018, Columbus seemed like a great place to start. And with family there, I thought it’d be a great double dip of business and pleasure. Having found a guide through Team RWB (Robin) and getting all the logistics set, I was ready to go.

After arriving and doing the course walkthrough, we got in a bit of practice on the swim and spin bike. Things seemed good, and I was confident going into Saturday even with an updated run course (to ensure funeral processions didin’t interfere with us or us with them). Even without being able to fully see the lane markers at the bottom of the pool, it still felt straight.

On Saturday morning, we did the race meeting and then got everything prepped. With how things were set up, lane lines were much easier to see, so I was feeling really good about hitting a qualifying time (1:25:21 or less). Especially since during warmups, I was in the right range for the swim for 50s. I realized post race that we should have done it including walls.

With the wall time, I was about 3 minutes behind where I planned to be on the swim. And the up-and-down staircase route that was T1 was 2 minutes more than anticipated. But getting to the bike, I was confident that I could make up time. Especially since during practice, 20mph had been an ‘active recovery’ speed.

Good music has always helped during workouts, and the race was no exception. Knowing that I was behind my goal by at least 5 minutes going in, I was doing everything I could to get that time back. I believe the overall average was 22-23 mph. But when music like Welcome to the Jungle came on, I was able to just focus on that and pump out 29-30mph. The much larger TYR water bottle from the January camp (filled with Heed) helped tremendously as I was pushing through this. I would have been out of fluid if I had gone with one of the smaller bottles given how hard I was pushing it.

As we left the bike, I knew qualifying was starting to slip away. I believe I had 35 or 36 minutes left when we hit the run course. A stretch, but not impossible if it was a decent run course. And it would have left me collapsed at the finish line. However, the run course was very challenging.

I think the best way to describe it is: Get on a treadmill and set it for 3% grade. Run that for a 1/3 of a mile. Then set it for -1% grade and run that for 1/3 of a mile. Then set it for 6% grade and try to run that for 1/3 of a mile. Repeat 3 times…

While the first part was a challenge, I was still optimistic until the back 1/3 of the lap. At that point, it became about just grinding through as quickly as possible (for rankings). What helped make that happen was the Eagle cheerleader from Cincy (Kris) that appeared during the first lap of our run. Big, big thanks to her for that continual support. Even though that back 1/3 was no fun, knowing that she was up there waiting to cheer us on made it a little easier… And even with the hill issues, it was still a respectible 5K time in the range I expected.

For those of you who are wondering, I missed the NQ cutoff by about 13 minutes. Even though I didn’t qualify, there were a lot of positives out of the race and out of the weekend. It also gave me a ‘starting point’ to work from and work things out for the remaining chances to qualify.

It was great to see family throughout the weekend. Big thanks to my parents, who drove almost 700 miles round-trip in less than 72 hours so I could race.