Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Race Report: I DID IT! Part 2 The SWIM!!!

Yes I have been neglecting gracing everyone with my supreme race report :-)  Since I am being long winded I broke it up, here is the swim portion, and I will add the Bike/Run shortly!
So where did I leave off? Oh yes, transition was closing and Paul and I made our way down to the water to watch the Elites head out.  This was the 10th anniversary of the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon, so they brought back the Equalizer (sounds like the Terminator, right?).  Basically instead of having a male Elite and female Elite winner there would be one overall winner.  To do this, they gave the women Elites a handicap based on the times of the men, which was 9 min and 41 seconds I believe.  So the Elite women hit the water at 7am, and wow, they can swim!  About 9 mins later the men lined up, Matty Reed is one tall mofo! 
Which one is Matty Reed? Oh yeah  the giant in the middle!
Matty's is kind of like a killer whale dive, not dolphin!

I bet about 6'4 or 6'5 and 180lbs, no ounce of fat on him, he looked lean and mean!  They were off and I watched more of the "normal" people take to the water.  I have a lot of respect for those people that did the international distance... almost 1 mile swim....no thank you (at least not yet for me!)
The elite women starting coming in around 19 min...wow. That's some fast swimming!
Alicia Kaye, who took 2nd place exiting the water!
The elite women were keeping their head start and continued on thru transition to the bike.  I missed them in transition but we got a good place to watch the elite men exit.  There were tons of people lined up screaming and ringing bells.  Pretty cool!  We then watched the elite men race out of the water and through transition, wow they are quick! And those bikes...geez worth 2X or 3X my own car!  After all the elites were on the bike course, we hit up the porta-pottys one last time before we got our wetsuits on.  25 mins later we got to use them!  The line was ridiculous, but so many people were trying to get out of their wetsuits/bibs/etc so I guess takes you longer. Paul and I found a nice grassy spot and got some body glide on and once greased up I put on the wetsuit (I did shave my legs to help the wetsuit get on and off easy, and that was a big help!).  I left my tri top on so I could rip of the wetsuit in transition and just throw my shoes on and grab my bike.  Plus I didn't want to have to try to put a dry shirt on when I'm wet.  Once suited up we went back to the swim start, ran into Teresa again who was nervous but I told her she could do it, hell I was going to!  I wished Paul luck since his wave was starting at 8:20 and whooped and hollered when he ran into the water and took off.

I had 30 min before my start so I watched some more people enter then wandered down to see if I could get in the water and see how it felt.  There were tons of people waiting for their wave in the water so i waded out just to get a feel for the water (and No, I didn't pee, but there were some suspiciously warm and cool spots in the water).  At this point at lot of things were going through my mind:  1.  Don't drown  2.  Keep swimming, take it easy don't go too fast 3.  You are doing a triathlon  4. Wait...I AM DOING A TRIATHLON!  5. I CAN DO THIS!!!!

As I was mentally preparing/psyching myself up, guess who I saw?  Blogger extraordinaire Steve Stenzel! I knew he was racing LTF and as luck would have it he was in my wave! (he's with the geezers now that he is 30) I love reading his blog and his race reports.  Of course he wasn't hard to miss with those tutti-frutti shorts, so I went up to him and introduced myself.  He was nice and we chatted about the race and I confessed it was my first tri.  he gave me some pointers on how to avoid the waves when breathing and told me I would do fine.  Great meeting him, having someone to talk to calmed me down.  We had to get in line and before I knew what was happening I was by the official who yelled "GO!"

Swim:  0.4 miles, Lake Nokomis

The part I was dreading, mainly because I hadn't really learned how to swim.  I started taking a beginner's Master's swim at the Lifetime by my house in Eagan in late March.  I knew enough not to drown, and couldn't even do freestyle for 10 feet.  After the lessons I could swim but breathing/kicking/endurance are the two things I still struggle with. Luckily I got to wear my wetsuit, which literally was a lifesaver.  I was prepared to do it without the suit but was glad I didn't have to.
I ran into the water (high knees!) and did a dolphin dive not once but 3 times to get out farther in the water.  I kept in control and started swimming not too fast but enough to pull ahead of two guys next to me that were too close for comfort.  I moved closer to the buoy line to get some space.  I felt weeds brushing my hands but I didn't freak out and kept going and then they disappeared.  Whew. I hate the weeds! I continued on and at the big buoy for the turn, disaster struck.  I got caught up with a tangle of bodies at the turn, and promptly got swam over and got a big lungful of water.  I panicked then and was sputtering and coughing and kicked past the buoy on my side and turned toward the next buoy coughing.  I flipped onto my back to try to relax but the heart was racing so I sidestroked some more to calm down.  My legs and arms were tired, and I was maybe halfway there, and I must have looked like crap, the nice lifeguard asked if I wanted to rest on the buoy so I did.  I ain't ashamed to admit it, but I was disappointed I had to rest, but I didn't realize the swim would take so much out of me (plus I think I was getting pretty warm with the wetsuit, the water was 82 degrees).  So I continued on after resting, freestyling and managing to rest when I was getting tired. After I turned at the second buoy for the final home stretch I thought "hey! I am almost there!" I was alternating back, side, freestyle at this point.  I passed one woman sobbing uncontrollably on the lifeguard's buoy. She was having a break down in the water and the lifeguard was trying to encourage her to keep going.  I took the lifeguards advice and kept going.  As I got closer I was wondering how soon I would be able to touch bottom, and then I bumped into a guy who was standing in front of me!  Then my feet touched the earth....OH YEAH!!!!!!! I was almost there!  You can see that in this pic:

What? Land....LAND!!!!!
So I won't lie I started doing the jump forward and glide thing on my tip toes until I got to about waist deep water and waded forward.  I was just happy to be done, plus I think I was a little loopy from being in the water/overheated, you be the judge:

Geez...I have no words for that look on my face...
 Then of course when I noticed I was being photo'd I did the obligatory thumbs up! pose:

I think the guy behind me was like.."who is this tool?"
 Right as my feet hit the sand out of the water, my right calf cramped up, but I kept going past the crowd and ran into transition.

Distance: 0.4 miles
Time: 31:32
Place: Not Last at least!

I hobbled into T1 with my cramped leg and had the top of the wetsuit and my googles and cap off.  I got to my area, peeled the wetsuit down to my knees and pulled my right leg out and free.  I then stepped on the left leg and pulled my left leg out, easy peasy (I watched a youtube video on how to do this like 20 times!).  I rinsed my feet with water to get the sand off, dried with my towel, and pulled on my socks and shoes, got my race belt on with my number, helmet on and I grabbed my bike and ran to the bike exit.
Time: 5:11 (not bad since I was all the way at the other side of transition by the bike exit).

Bike.....IS UP NEXT!

Whew...I sure can ramble can't I?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Race Report: I DID IT! Part 1

Well I am a little late with my RR but as soon as I finished the race we packed up and headed on vacation, so I was gone for the next 9 days for some fun in California!  This week coming back has been LOOONNNGGG and BUSY to say the least.  Plus it seems I always take longer to write my RR, probably because it takes me a long time to think of witty/funny things to say.  I'm slow :-)

I headed to the Minneapolis convention center downtown to pick up my race packet with my friend, Paul, who also was doing the Tri.  We parked ($10 for parking? really?) across the street and made our way inside and found the LTF Triathlon Expo and packet pickup, the doors were flanked with these pillars:

OWN IT! It also reminds me of Picard, "Make It So..."
 I was expecting a big expo....what I saw was somewhat mediocre.  There were some vendors there selling Tri equipment, etc but not much of anything else.  We listened to a course chat, which was pretty informative, and then went to pick our bibs.  Here's where I nearly had a heart attack: I presented my ID and the volunteer went and returned with my packet, checked the ID again and said "Mr. Wood you are signed up for the international distance, correct?" Me: "Whaaa?" "Oh hell no I ain't!" Volunteer: "Well, you need to go down to the Trouble Table, they will take care of you." Yes that's right I was in T-R-O-U-B-L-E.  So I go down there and theres a younger guy there with some of his buddies, and I overheard he had the same issue!  The staff at the table were flummoxed and were pretty frazzled, but made a switch and put him in the correct short distance wave and gave him a new number.  As I waited for hopefully the same thing done for me, someone else came up to the table with the same problem....and another, and when Paul came by to ask what was going on, I told him, and lo and behold he also was signed up for the wrong distance! (His volunteer wasn't as good as mine I guess and inform him of it).  So there I was with 5 other guys all with the same issue, so at least I felt better.  The woman staffer, however was not pleased.  She started bitching to another staffer and was pretty unprofessional.  Again I was expecting more from Lifetime Fitness....but apparently signing up through Lifetime (one of their locations, not online) was what all 6 of us had in common.  They fixed me up with a new number, and wave time (8:48AM) and I was done.  I waited for Paul and we cruised quickly through the rest of the expo (no good deals unfortunately) and drove home and discussed what to put in our bags for the race.
When I got home I went and got all my stuff ready and went through my checklist. Got the shoes, got the body glide, got the baby powder, nutrition, gatorade, etc...check check check! I got all my tri gear out, got my bike ready, and I was set.  I then stared at my bag and gear and mentally went thru what I had like 10 times!  OCD yes!

Then I began getting all our stuff ready for our California trip!  After the race we were headed down to Iowa to drop the kids off with Grandma and Grandpa, then we were flying to CA on Monday for vacation! It was definitely a win win situation.  Race my first Triathlon, then relax in California!
I managed to go to by by 11 or so, and set my clock for 4:15am...and got some sleep (mostly).

Saturday: Day of race.
I got up at 4:15, showered slathered myself in body glide, dressed, and had a bagel with cream cheese and a banana.  I washed it down with a cup of coffee and some water.  Paul, and his daughter, Courtney, were going to pick me up at 5am, so I went to the garage and got the gear out and the bike ready.  When they arrived we loaded up my bike and we drove to Lake Nokomis.  Since we were early we got a great parking spot right by Fat Lorenzo's.  We unloaded our bikes and loaded up our gear and biked to the transition area. People were slowly tricking in, we joined them and showed our wristbands and entered into transition to find our spots and rack our bikes and then go get marked.  I was very lucky and was 2 racks from the bike out, Paul was in the middle, and our other friend, Teresa, was 5 racks down from me.  After we all got marked we each setup our transition area. One big question was the weather, their were some possibility of rain, and there was a strong wind as well, so it was blessedly cool, but the USAT officials said rain was coming soon.  So I left my shoes and other gear in my bag in case it rained. Once I had everything setup this is what transition looked like:
And that wasn't with everyone there! So many people racing.
I chatted with Teresa and her husband, then with Paul made my way down to the shore to check out the water.  I knew this would be my challenge today, I hadn't really swam ever until I started taking lessons 4 months ago.  The pic below is before they got the buoys setup, but there were some strong waves because of the wind.

Before all the madness...the buoys were being blown by the wind.

I was of course getting some jitters, but there were somewhat alleviated when they announced the water temp was 82.5. Whew! I could still wear my wetsuit! I didn't care if I wasn't able to place in my AG, b/c I knew I wasn't going to win anyway.  The wetsuit would give me some confidence that I at least wouldn't drown (those things are the best! and thanks to Urban Tri for the rental!).  So I gathered up my wetsuit, cap, and goggles, and left transition at 6:45 to see the pros line up.....

Part 2 coming soon!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Triathlon + My California Vacation= A great 8 days!

OK, first off I didn't expire during the LTF Triathlon on July 9th!  However, I did immediately leave for vacation to California, so I haven't been able to blog or post any of the cool photos that was taken of me during the Tri.  This will be a short recap of my last week:

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon WAS AWESOME!
The swim was my toughest part, mentally and physically can you tell?
Wearing a smile...but inside I was exhausted!

I was very happy to have that swim over!  Needless to say I need more practice! The rest of the race I will go in detail, but my proudest moment was crossing that finish line....with my kids!

I did it, and so happy to have my family there!  Emma looks like a born runner!
 Come back soon for my whole race report....once I get caught up with work and all that other stuff!  Goal is to have it up by Thursday!

CA was fun, and I have some pics of that too, but guess who I ran into on the street?
I am a huge Leno fan!

Full report and more on CA trip on Thursday! AND

Thanks to everyone for all their support and advice for my first Triathlon!!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Big Day is less than 24 hours away! Ready or Not Here I Come! UPDATE!!!

UPDATE:  Well I went to the expo (which I thought would be bigger) and picked up my stuff....and was informed that I was signed up for the Olympic distance. Needless to say I said some few choice words and said no way in hell I was!  So I had to go to the trouble table and see if I could get it switched.  Lo and behold, I wasnt the only one, 3 other guys had same problem.  They were able to switch us however.  My buddy Paul who is also doing LTF Tri too was waiting on me and asked me what the holdup was when I finished.  I told him and he asked how did you know that you were signed up for the Olympic.  The check-in guy told me and it was on the outside of my packet.  He looked at his, and also said some choice words, because he had the same problem!  So he had to go get in line again and got switched as well.  Whew...

Im off in a couple of minutes to Nokomis!  Wish me luck!

Wow....in less than 24 hours I will be a Tri-athlete!  No matter my time I will finish tomorrow, I won't give up!   I hope I can wear a wetsuit for the swim, but if I cant I will do my best (if it takes an hour so be it!) once I get past the swim I know I will be good!  I have my stuff for my transition bag ready and will pack that and try to get some sleep tonight and just be ready for an early morning tomorrow.  I am feeling very excited and that is winning over the nerves.  I am prepared mentally and physically for this....I CAN DO IT!

Thanks to everyone for their words of encouragement and advice through my journey, and I am sure I will be doing many more!

Best part is after I am done I will be going on vacation....to California!!!! What a way to celebrate!  Stay tuned for some posts next week on the 4th and of course, my LTF Triathlon Race Report!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

T-Minus 10 days til Triathlon! Any advice for a Tri newbie?

10 days til my first "real" triathlon, the Minneapolis Triathlon  Wow. I feel like it's been creeping up on me ninja style and today I realized that its just around the corner!  This summer seems to have flown by already, where has it gone?

Anyways, here is my gut reaction to my first Triathlon:

1.  Please be cool enough that I can use a wetsuit. Yes I know it's cheating (sort of) but I can use whatever I can get in the water to help me.  Tomorrow I am doing another OWS at Lake Nokomis, but sans wet suit so I can practice not having one on just in case it is too warm.

2. Don't freak out in the water.  DON'T. FREAK. OUT.  That is a problem for me, I freak out and lose all rhythm and panic.  The OWS has been a great idea to do, and I am glad I will have some experience in the water before race day.  Experience is a good thing. I just have fears of it looking like this:

How do you swim in all that?

3.  Swim. Needless to say you can tell I am a little nervous about the swim!

4.  Figure out what to put in my transition bag.  After reading several great blogs out there and other Tri articles, I know some items I should have in there (shoes, water bottle, sunglasses, helmet, Gu Chomps, Powerbar, socks, hat, towel, flip-flops) Any other advice?

5. No matter what, HAVE FUN!  I am in it to finish it, not to win it!  If anything that will be my mantra.  Finish, Finish, FINISH!  Plus look at the sweet medals they are giving out:

I haven't trained as much as I have wanted (injuries suck) but I have really worked hard at the swimming.  The Beginner's Master's Swim has been a great class that has helped me a lot, and I will continue to take it and maybe be a real swimmer some day.
I have at least ran the course, and biked half of the bike part.  I hope to do the whole thing this weekend so I wont be surprised come race day. 

I think this is going to be fun, and despite my nervousness with the swim, I know I can do it.  In 2009 I never would have thought I could run, but I did, and look at me now, 2 half-marathons and 1 marathon later I have done it!  Watch out triathlon, you are on my hit list!

Any ideas/suggestions for my upcoming race from the vets would be awesome!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Go Commando Adventure 5K Race Report: Mud, Fire, Water, Beer and FUN!!!

I posted on Friday about this fun 5K adventure race I was doing with friends this weekend and it didn't disappoint!  I and my friends had a blast!  Running IS fun, but add some obstacles, some mud, some fire, a waterslide, and beer for the finisher's and you got a fun race! It also coincided nicely with The Boring Runner's Sweat Your Thorns Off Virtual 5K so I decided to join in the fun. 

I decided to go redneck/WT for race as my costume (which were encouraged).  The family and I went to Good will where I dropped 10 bucks and got a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt, and added some shades and a bandanna and I got this look:

Sweet shorts!
 My friend Paul picked me up Sat. morning (and didn't laugh at my getup) and we met up with our friend, Teresa, from our Master's swim class, her brother Andrew, and her husband, Wade.  Shout out to Wade, who was just there as a spectator and with Paul's kickass camera got all of these photos!  Great Job Wade!  Anyways, we drove up to Stillwater High School where we parked and took a shuttle to the site of the race (that was the only negative that I can think of for the entire race, because once we where finished it took WAY too long to wait for a bus) Green Acres, a farm that has cross country skiing trails and tubing during the winter.  This was a 21+ event (sounds like a party at a club right?) so we had to show our ID and also sign a waiver stating that if we died or caught on fire we couldn't sue. Done.  My outlandish outfit was pretty tame in comparison to what some were wearing:

Mullet Brigade!

See? Jean shorts pretty popular!


Once we got our wristband for our wave (gold for the 9:15 wave) we lined up and jammed out to some music blasting from the loudspeakers.  Every 15 minutes they had approx 200 leaving the corral onto the course.  Here's us as the whistle blew,  and off we went!

That red bandanna was like a flag.....

Yeah, maybe the flannel also made me stick out
 Our first obstacle was jumping bales of hay setup near the loop we did by the start line.  We had lost Andrew at this point, but the 3 of us were pretty much sticking together. The bales were fun!

Hayfever Ridge! Jumping some bales!

The Water Crossing was next...2.5 miles and I was soaked from the waist down...jeans aren't very comfy when wet...

Bam! Right after the hay bales was the pond...and the 3ft+ water we had to jump in and wade across.  .5 mile in and I was soaked up to my crotch in cold water and I squelched squelched them on as water poured freely from my shoes.  Oh yeah!  I did like the "alligators" that were there to greet us.

Soaked, we ran on to the next obstacle which was some wooden barrows tied together that you had to jump up and scale and clamber across.  I used some Ultimate Warrior moves I had seen on TV and hopped up there and got over.  Not too bad, and we ran on back past the pond and around the bend:
All Smiles!!!
 At the bottom of the hill was the next obstacle, a rope bridge stretched (loosely) across a wooden frame.  Of course I hopped up and tried to use my Spiderman skills.....pretty awkward!  Lots of laughs as everyone tried to cross at the same time and the ropes were weighted down, so it wasn't too bad.

Got bail?  Well we did jump over some bales of hay....
 Once we made it across we ran on past the shed where there was this "watering" station.  I think they were playing on the Muscle Milk (who was a sponsor) with these streams of water, like from an udder. Weird. But I got some water.

Water udders?
 At this point maybe 1.5 miles in, we were all feeling pretty good.  Paul had tweaked his knee a little on the hay bales, but was otherwise ok, Teresa and I were regretting our attire.  She got soaked as well, and was lamenting her choice of loose shorts, and I was regretting the jeans, b/c those suckers were wet and generating some friction....surprised my pants weren't smoking in the above photo!

Next was the Serpent Hill/Ridge...ok I don't mind hills, but this one was steep and uneven as heck!  Most of the trail was to begin with (it is a field) but this was pretty severe.  All 3 of us pretty much walked up this hill, and at the top caught our breath and ran across the balance logs, and vaulted over the hurdles setup at the next obstacle.  At the 2nd mile marker was a water station which was nice, I was hot in the flannel even with the sleeves cut off, and I unbuttoned it some more hoping for some ventilation.  After the water stop we rand down a steep hill and headed into the pine forest maze.  String was wound through the marked trail so you had to crawl and climb through the maze up and then down the forest.

Where's Waldo?

Then my favorite obstacle was up!  The waterslide!  They had 2 giant pipes that they had cold ass water running through with soap added to make it slick. The pipes ended on a plastic tarp which would then let you slide into....MUD! Wahoo!

Looking good, nice form.

This is where I lost the form...

and I landed in the mud legs up in the air!

Almost slid into the hay bales!

Two Words: MUD


WTF? How did Paul make it down without mud on that white shirt?

So I landed as the above pictures show legs up, and when I hit the mud I skidded across it splashing it everywhere, and my shirt rode up so I got mud all the way up to my neck!  I would give that an 8 out of 10!  Teresa and Paul came right after and miraculously he had no mud on the front of that white tux shirt, but a little on the back, and Teresa got an atomic wedgie!  Muddied but in good spirits we ran on, the sand dunes were up next!

 The Sand Dunes/Hills were awesome, there were 3 of them, each time you ran up and then down, you had that roller coaster sensation where your stomach drops and you almost feel weightless.  I chickened out on jumping at the apex of the hill, I break easily :)
Continuing on, we followed the path to the tire run, which I had a blast with, it's like those army movies where you run through the tires, except some were a little dangerous b/c of the mud, I saw someone sleep in fall, ouch! We were in the home stretch now, finish line was in sight!  We had to jump over the fire and then run through the swamp/mud and we were done!

I am no Michael Jordan, but I got some air going!


And I'm earthbound again
 Together we ran on to the last obstacle, the swamp! 

The end is nigh!
 We slowed down approaching the water, and took stock of what lay in store for us:

I decided to try to carefully walk in...not a good idea, as I almost slipped and fell in head first:

Smooth move!

Not very graceful, but I managed to catch myself before I took a nice stanky bath.  We all got going and went thru the water and hit the mud.  I thought I was going to lose a shoe!

Almost there!

 I decided to plow through the mud and picked up my feet and charged to the finish line! Wahoo!  I did it!  Wasn't very fast, a little over 45 min, but I had so much fun!

Muddy and loving it!

As we finished we got our race medals: a set of dog tags that said Go Commando, pretty sweet!  Andrew had finished before us and was at the finish line so we got a group photo in our mud-spattered awesomeness:

We went Commando!

My shoes were white at some point...and my shades stayed on the entire time!

The last member of our Team, Ethan, came through the finish about 6 minutes after we did, he missed the 9:15 wave and went at 9:30 instead.  We grabbed another photo op with him at the official finisher's station:
Our official finisher photo
 Then it was time to get cleaned up!  The Lake Elmo Fire Dept was there hosing down the people covered in mud.  It was cold!!!!!! But it was a great way to get clean of all that mud.

Whew! Glad it wasn't on full blast!

While I was waiting in line some people in front of me where having a good time with the water. Especially these girls in front of us, there was music blasting in the finisher's area, and I swore there was some Pour Some Sugar on Me playing b/c they started dancing and gyrating as the water hit....maybe there was another reason the event was 21+????  Hmmmmm....you be the judge...I will say the fireman was having way too much fun with those three.

Dirty girls getting clean?

Or clean girls getting dirty?

Anyways, we grabbed our checked gearbags and went to the changing tent and got cleaned up, and headed over to the food tent and got a hot dog and a pint of Finnegans Irish Amber Ale!  We toasted our 5K finish and watched others going down the waterslide. Here are some post-race drinking/happy photos:


Fun times!

1, 2, 3, Drink! Ok, Paul didnt get that one...

Thanks to Wade (pictured to Teresa's left) who took all the photos!

 After scoring some free Muscle Milk (I love the Light version) we headed back to the shuttle area (which took about 20 minutes).  Again, the only negative I had with this race.  Otherwise it was a blast!  I enjoyed the haybales, waterslide, fire, mud,....well everything except the serpent ridge/hill.  I would definitely do it again! Thanks to Teresa for inviting us to join her Team!

So that was my adventure 5K and also my 5K for The Boring Runner's Sweat Your Thorn's Off Virtual 5K.  A great fun weekend!

Anyone else do something crazy fun over the weekend?