Monday, October 30, 2006

Suncoast Sprint Tri

Lesson 1 Learned: In very rough waters, it's best to pull swim cap over your ears. We started the morning with steady downpours as a cold-front was passing through. Those rains kept quite a few folks home Saturday morning for this race that had about 500 folks registered. Looks like about 375 actually competed - understandably, since the conditions were pretty tough. For the bulk of the competitors, the winds started as steady at 14 mph, gusting to 19, then as the front passed by, the winds picked up to a steady 21 mph, with gusts to 29.

Lesson 2 Learned: A gusty day is NOT a good time to try out your new wheel covers. Granted, at 245 lbs, it's going to take a heck of a gust to blow me off the road, cover or no cover, Hed Jet 90 front wheel or not. There were a few instances where I was afraid I was going to lose control, but it was more of a front end issue than the rear wheel covers. I had to bear down pretty hard on the bars to keep myself straight - but, I didn't crash, and more importantly I didn't cause anyone else any problems.

The Suncoast Tri is part of a series that is usually very well organized and a lot of fun. Even with the wind and rain, we managed to have a good time. Diana (my lovely bride) couldn't keep the camera steady enough to take a non-blurry picture, and she's pretty good with a camera, and it's too bad since I just got her a nice zoom for her birthday (sorry to fotojack for the cut and paste...).

Because the gulf was a torrent, the 1/3 mile swim was moved to the lagoon (which was just a little better...) and the distance shortened to about 1/4 mile. The water temp was about 75 degrees - wetsuit legal and there was plenty of rubber out there, but I did a little warmup and didn't really think it was cold enough for me to wear one. I should have paid better attention to the swim route - heck, Clydesdales were the last of 5 waves, as there was a pretty long and shallow sand bar at the end of the swim just inside of the buoy line. I was swimming amongst a big group of black caps and just knew I was having a decent swim until all of a sudden I noticed there were way fewer caps around. I looked forward and saw a bunch of people running in, but from water level it was hard to tell if they were out of the water or in. As I approached the last buoy, and since I normally swim a bit outside (to the left) of the line, I finally noticed that folks to my right were up and running! I changed my course and swam hard to the right - shoot, people were cutting inside of the last of the buoy to stay on the sand bar - well, that oversight on my part probably cost me a minute or so (based on where some of the other Clydes that I usually beat on the swim came in ahead of me) - but no biggie (see the folks behind me, they are not running in, they are running to the last bouy). The run to T1 was a hike - total T1 time was over 3 minutes but before I knew it I was out there in the wind on the bike.

Even with the control issues, the bike was a blast. It's an advertised 11 mile bike, but I'm consistently at 9.5 miles on the GPS for the course. On the "downwind" side I averaged over 25mph, but by the time I got done fighting that wind coming back, my average had slipped to an even 21mph. With a time of 27:08 there were only 30 other folks total that had a better bike split (23:53 was the best). The roads were newly paved, which made for a very comfortable ride - not really much faster, as the roads were not "slow" before, and since the place is about as flat as a pancake, the wind was the only excuse you could muster for a slow ride.

The run was typical for me - slow and steady. My 29:12 managed to get me a 5th place plaque for the day, and I know of at least 2 or 3 missing fast Clydesdales who usually race and around here and are consistently in the top 3 - but I'll still take my 5th and be happy about it. The GPS had the run at 3.18 miles, which put my average pace at 9:11 - a PR on a course that was out on pavement and back on the beach, into the wind.

The location is awesome, the after-race refreshments were great: pizza, subs, fruit and BBQ chicken sandwiches were among the many treats. The volunteers did a great job - they even had someone giving out water bottles at the finish line, which is a pet peeve of mine as a race requirement. The shirt design was cool and was nicely missing all of the advertisements on the back. They had an option for a cool-max version of the shirt which I opted out of not knowing about the neat new design. Would have been worth it. If you find yourself in Central Florida this time next year, or are thinking about racing in one of the races in this series, go ahead and treat yourself - Ft. Desoto is a great place for a sprint. Now if we could only convince him to organize an Olympic here...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mac Attack

Ok, I’ll admit it – when Stadler blew up last year after not being able to change a flat, throwing his bike while on camera and having a hissy-fit, I decided I didn’t much like the guy. I’m of a mind that a Professional anyone – lawyer, doctor, soldier or ATHLETE – should set an example of behavior for the rest of us to follow. While I understand the emotional aspect of Stadler’s plight in ’05, I would have hoped for more from him. No, I’m not going to bow to the “you would have done the same thing if your year of training would have amounted to nothing….” argument, not because I know for sure what I would have done in that situation, but because I have an expectation of behavior of Professionals. As a Professional soldier, I experienced similar stresses and physical excursions (things like Ranger School, Special Forces Selection, etc…), and suffered a few defeats as well, and managed to maintain a professional image to my subordinates and peers as was expected of an Officer. I’m in no way comparing my level of fitness then to his now – just the level of stress in physically and mentally challenging situations.

This year, he raced the perfect race, and is crowned a champion of champions. Good for him – I respect him as one of the best athletes in the world. But yet again, he’s shown his lack of Professionalism in his actions and comments – from the throwing of the wreath, to use of profanity on the ramp, to his after-race comments. Now I swear like sailor sometimes (but not on national TV), and after 8hrs, I can understand not wanting a pointy, leafy crown on my head (but have been required to wear uncomfortable protective gear after some pretty long days and weeks). But what I don’t understand or condone is an attack of integrity on a fellow athlete that was competing on the same playing field and by the same rules.

Yes, he won. He proved that he could lead out and keep that lead and be the best in the world – and if he wants to rub it in, so be it. If he’s a poor sport, or if his personality is one, like many professional athletes today, that shows it’s backside more often than not, than there will be folks that are drawn to that and he’ll have his fans and people who are not his fans. Talking trash is all the rage and boosts TV ratings. Blasting a guy’s abilities that you just beat may be acceptable in some folks eyes – it’s poor form, but there’s some truth to it – on that day, you were better than him. Calling a man a cheater – questioning his integrity – is a totally different animal.

Clearly, Macca played within the rules of the race, rules derived from a scientific study where it was proven that a 7-meter draft zone provides negligable advantage to the drafter – the officials shadowed them for much of the race, as did the media, and if a violation had taken place, he would have been penalized. But that’s not good enough for the champ. Because he chose to play by leading out the entire race, and knowingly submitting himself to a harder bike leg without the pacing of other competitors, playing to his strengths, he has the right to question first the rules and second the strategy and integrity of fellow competitors? Physically, this guy is tough – but even with the win, Peter Reid was right, mentally, this guy is a wimp – a whiner and a cry-baby (and when confronted by Macca, denied his statements until a blackberry was thrust in his face - hmmm, add liar to the list?)

Accusing someone of cheating is huge. Cheating is normally defined as taking an unfair advantage. Cheating is taking banned substances. Cheating is cutting out part of the course. Cheating is drafting – breaking the 7 meter rule. Thing is, once you are found to have cheated, you are forever a Cheater. A level of trust with your fellow man dwindles to a point where people look at you differently, deal with you differently, and think less of you and your integrity. In a professional environment where cheating is becoming prolific and true professionals must take extreme measures to ensure they are in keeping with the rules – the flippant use of the term by a fellow athlete is, well, inexcusable.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Training Peaks

I just read Roman's new Post about using HR monitors and being super anal about keeping up with all that. Out of curiosity, I went to my retentive-satisfying training log and was curious, as I hadn't even looked for it before, if it keeps track of annual stats. It does. I was surprised by this year's training, only because I have never really paid any attention to it.

Swim: 130,848 yards
Bike: 2,507 miles
Run: 481.5 miles

My swim partner Luke said, "no way!" to the swim stat, but looking at it, it's only 73.5 miles, which in 10 months is probably lower than most of you out there. It's still neat to think about - I first started swim training last May, and now I'm thinking that 73 miles is probably a bit light for the year. Weird how your perspective changes over time.

Practice Half

I haven't been getting a warm and fuzzy about this 1/2 coming up in, oh, 3 weeks. I had to take a week off recently due to a minor calf tear, which has healed nicely, and I'm still sniffling from my annual end-of-summer cold. So instead of paying attention to triathlon coaches across America that recommend no more than an hour run off the bike for a brick, I figure I'll add my long run for the week in after an easy 50-miler.

I brought my new bike training buddy Greg along for the ride - this guy is a great training partner btw. We work together, and he switched his days off schedule to coincide with mine so that he could ride with me. He shows up when we agree to meet for a ride - on time - and hangs with me for as long as he can - he's up to 37 miles already for his longest ride with me, and we've only been riding together for about 2 months.

Yesterday was one of the windiest days I can remember on 2 wheels. It was too cold in the morning to head out - for us Floridians, 50 degrees is too cold for a bike ride - so we got started around 1pm. Greg hugs my wheel pretty good most days, but the wind proved a bit tough today for him, and by mile 25 he was done. I figured I should go easy since I had done that wicked Hilly Hundred-K 2 days ago, so I kept the HR under 140 for another 25 miles and finished the 50-miler at a 19.5mph pace.

But like I said, I've been anxious about this 1/2 coming up, so I figured I'd go long after the bike and see what kind of pace I could keep. 9 miles seemed to be a good distance. I figured that if I could keep the pace below 11/mile, I'd be doing alright for me. I didn't stop the clock for the 4 water stops I made, at about the 1.5 mile points along the loop - and worked hard to keep my run cadence as high as I could while keeping my hr in the 140's. The kicker to the whole day was the temperature in the 70's and no humidity. What a huge difference!

So I hit the 9-mile marker which coincided with a water stop right at a 10:52 overall pace. For me, that was a huge victory. Another 7 miles on the bike and 4 miles on the run, and I'll have the 1/2 licked. Shoot, I even practiced walking a bit, as it was another 2 miles to the car. This was the confidence booster I needed. I did the whole workout on just water - no Gatorade, no gels - just lunch and I figure that with support on the course and a couple of gels, plus the adrenaline from being in a race and having other people around (and using my race wheels), it should be a good time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hilly Hundred Ride Review

For the record, I want to make it clear that I did just a 100k ride, not a true Century. That being said, this one really kicked me square between the eyes. I may still be nursing the remnants of a cold, but I felt OK getting started. I really didn't want to ride with the pack, and it's a good thing, because they dropped me like a bad habit 9 miles in - just long enough to get good and warmed up.

Maybe you folks in traditionally hilly or mountainous parts of the country will scoff at 3,310 feet of climbing in 62 miles - but I train mostly at a place called "Flatwoods" with about 32' of elevation gain in a 12 mile lap. Weirdly enough, this ride took place in and around Dade City, FL, which was all of about 25 miles from where I normally go to ride - so just in case I get a hankering to torture myself again, the fun's only a hop, skip and a jump away.

For those of you not yet familiar with Motion Based, above is the link to where I've downloaded GPS information from the race, which includes Elevation, Speed, HR and other cool data. The "Player" feature they've just added is very cool - worth checking out. You can track speed and elevation while a little marker follows the route on a variety of different maps, and you can view it at different speeds or stop the action to if need be. You'll see that I didn't set the world on fire with this ride, chugging along at 18mph with stops included, but I was darn glad to be done with it! I even got over 50mph on one downhill - and that's a first for me.

The turnout for the ride was very good - seemed like at least a couple hundred folks there doing some manner of distance. They had a 18, 37, 62 and 100 mile course laid out, with much of it overlapping, so everyone went out together, then split off when their turn came up. The SAG stops (Aid stations, 'scept no-one's handing you stuff as you ride by) were well staffed and had good Gatorade and plenty to eat for everyone. I only stopped twice for fluids, which wasn't the original plan. Some of the roads were in pretty bad shape - a nice downhill had me scrambling for a clean line at about 40mph - I didn't find one and ejected 2 water bottles that remain where they dropped (deep in a ditch...)

Not much of a end-of-ride party, but the couple of chocolate chip cookies were good before I had to blast home and get ready for work. You gotta love retail - working on Sundays is always fun, especially during football season. Overall I was really pleased with the organization and support of the ride - I saw the guy from Bike Works where I bought my bike out there in his van helping with a flat - so the condensed and overlapping course helped to make it feel like you were never far from help if you needed it. I'll do this ride again next year, perhaps even the Century, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging ride.

Oh, yea, another cool deal - the T-shirt I got was a 2XL, just like I asked for - you don't see that too often.....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

T3 - Rookie to Vet

The heart rate monitor tells all, doesn't it (yea, I'm "old school" with my 301)? When you use it a lot, you get to know yourself, and your abilities, and it will tell you when you're not having a good day (I hate to be so blacked out - it tells you when you are having a good day too...). Now, I've had this cold going on a week now, and that's pretty normal for me - it's definatley in it's final stages.

So, Thursdays are my bike days, and I had a 37-miler at an easy pace planned since I should have done a hard 60 on Tuesday. I read somewhere that you should not try to "make up" lost workouts, just keep with your plan when you are getting over an injury or sickness - ok... Right out of the shoot today, my HR is 160, chugging along at 20mph. No breeze, cooler than usually and sligtly humid (this is Florida, after all), I'm usually at 132 - 135 when I start a ride at this pace. Darn. Maybe it will go down after I get warmed up. I think I saw 159 for about 2 seconds there on a slight down hill, but for the most part - it just kept going up. It was screaming at me, "ok, dumba$$, you're still sick, dial it back and go back to bed!!!". With all that noise, I had to listen, and cut it short at 25 miles. No run after (yet) as planned - lets see how I feel tonight.

In thinking about this, have I started training with advanced techniques? Does really training with a HRM or a power meter qualify for consideration to veteran status? At what point should I consider myself, or does the triathlon community consider a fellow athlete no longer a rookie? I don't want to be a rookie forever. I'm guessing that there's a time-limit alotted to being one. For pro football players, they have a rookie season, and than that's it, no longer a rookie. Play for a year, and then you have what it takes to be a seasoned vet. Or are you just a vet now? How long until you are a "seasoned" vet?

I've got 12 or so tri's under my belt now. I've raced in 3 Olympic distance races and a bunch of sprints. Does just racing in a tri or 10 magically transform me into a Vet? Or is it something else? What separates the rooks from the vets? Here are some things that I think would make me consider a fellow triathlete a Vet:

1) Vets know the rules. Vets embrace the rules. Vets help enforce the rules. Guess that means no Ipods, and understanding that Ipods on the course makes it unsafe for the person wearing them and more importantly for everyone around them. Vets don't draft. Vets don't block. Vets keep a neat transition area and stay in thier own space.

2) Vets train to a plan. It may not be a scientific plan, or a plan derived from a $150 / month coach or bought from on online guide, but it's a plan. Vets have some sort of training log - it may just be a calandar with the workouts sketched out on it, but they track what they do, and they know where they are going.

3) Vets set realistic training and race goals. Of course a tri-vet has came out swinging on thier fair share of races only to pull up lame before the finish line - this is something you learn from experience - it's really hard to listen to someone tell you how to race within yourself when you're a type-A and really hate getting passed.

4) Vets get good at all 3 sports. Now here's where you start seperating the rooks from the vets - just how weak is your weak discipline? Is your swim split way out of line with your bike or run performance? Now there are many of us who come from a running or bikeing or swimming (I really hate you folks, btw...) background, so they will naturally be great in those areas. The Vet works on thier weaknesses. This process usually happens in an off-season, so in your Rookie year, it would be pretty tough to be well rounded in all 3 sports since you haven't even had your first "off season" yet.

5) Vet's give back to the sport. In some way or form, a Vet is helping out. They belong to a Tri-club, perhaps, or are part of TNT. Vets take other athletes, rookies or what have you, under thier wing and help them get better. Vets encourage other competitors at races, or when you see folks out training. Vets help rooks set up thier transition area, and stop them before they leave T1 without thier helmit on.

6) Vet's know what is really important. Notice what Vet's aren't - they aren't the folks with the ultra-sleek carbon or titanium bikes - they could be, they may want to be, but they don't have to be - more often than not, they are kicking butt on a conservitively priced bike and no wetsuit. Granted, they probably are the guys in the speedo's, and there's not much we can do about that, other than look the other way, but we'll have to live with that.

I don't know....I'm getting there. I'll never be a Pro, but I'd like to think I could be a Vet. I think that after this season, when in the off season I get my run splits more in line with my bike, I'll be a bit more apt to call myself a vet. I probably set too high a standard for that, but setting high standards has always been my bag, baby. Time for some more Vitamin C...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Clydesdale Run Philosophy

I was running last night and thinking about chasing down bumblebees (reference Roman’s blog about his Chicago Tri experience…), getting fired up about my sub-9 minute pace and it struck me that not a lot is written or discussed about the nuances of Clydesdale training. Let’s face it, big folks; we’re different than the average athlete, with different things to worry about. It’s hard for us to relate to the workouts and training plans described in Triathlete magazine or in these on-line training programs – but luckily, it’s really just one aspect of the triathlon training plan that could use some adjustment – that being the run.
The run is the bane of the Clydesdale’s triathlon existence. We’ve got knees tore up from being 300-lb lineman with replaced ACLs and scar patterns that look like a MapQuest printout. On the run, gravity works against us on every step, hill or no hill, up or down. Each stride threatens to tear up an ankle, knee or hip and not from stepping on a loose rock or twig – just from taking the stride!

So what do we do differently? Please keep in mind that I’m not a coach, not certified as a coach, have no sports medicine background or education, so I’m really just shooting from the hip here, and telling you what works for me. First, when it comes to running, when starting out as a Clydesdale endurance athlete, LESS is MORE. Most of us are on a path to lowering our weight and changing our physique. We look longingly at those lean runners with their easy strides and pencil necks and say, “that’s how I want to look” (well, not exactly, but sort of...). Running, by itself, could certainly go a long way towards getting to our weight loss goals, and of the 3 (swimming, biking and running) disciplines, running is the most time-effective fat burner. More importantly, however, running beats us up! It causes injuries! When you are hurt, you can’t train, and when you aren’t training, in general, you’re putting those lbs back on. LESS is MORE, when you are first getting started, keeps you healthy to train more, so that when you lose enough weight to better handle the stress of running, you can change your run training attitude to MORE is MORE.

How do you get to MORE is MORE? Bike and Swim – a lot! Spend the bulk of your training time biking and swimming, burning up the calories on non-impact aerobic training. Stay in your BASE heart rate zones, and burn off fat. You still have to run, and I can’t tell you what kind of time to devote to running each week – at some point you will look in the mirror and know you’ve lost enough weight to safely transition to More is More – until then, be very conservative. A couple of other thing for the big folks out there:

1. Change out your running shoes regularly. I keep a log with Training Peaks, and it tracks my shoe wear for me, and I don’t let it get over 300 – probably 250 miles is even better. At 245lbs, I’m sure I break down the stuff that makes a running shoe absorb road stress quicker than the average runner.

2. Run quietly! Maybe it’s my military background, and I even ran track in High School – but it really gets me to hear guys and gals running down the road slapping their feet against the pavement (or just as bad, dragging their feet). These are the same folks with lots of vertical movement in their strides – you want to keep from getting injured and run with good form – run quietly and as level as you can. When you are quiet, you are softer on your joints. When you are less vertical, you put less strain on your joints and put more force towards horizontal movement – the kind that counts!

3. Shorten your stride. This really works well for me. I run with my Garmin and when try and lengthen my stride like when I was a kid, I can immediately see my HR rise and my speed fall. Shorten my stride (increasing run cadence) and the effort goes down, my HR drops and my speed shoots back up. Try it – concentrate on it – it works. At first it feels unnatural – especially for tall folks – just work on it over time, and soon you will notice how much easier it is to run this way (the way that all the great long-distance runners do it these days…). And here is where you can see the difference between the suggestions from the Mag’s and Clydesdale reality – I read an article in that suggests a cadence of 90 (that’s 180 left-right steps in a minute…). Go out and try that – HA! That’s 3 steps a second – 1-2-3, that might be a 6:30/min mile pace runner’s reality, but for my 9:00 pace running large bottom, I just can’t (yet) move my feet that quickly. But, it gives us something to work toward. Get your pace now, use it as a starting point, and work toward making it quicker. That’s all you can do!

4. Walk to increase your mileage. I ran a marathon in November ’05 at 275lbs and in getting ready for it; I’d mix a lot of walking into my long run days. The following week, I’d try and hold off the walking longer than the previous week, and increase the run distance while keeping the walking distance about the same. It worked well, and while I didn’t set any records with my 4:55 marathon, I felt good for the distance and didn’t get hurt.

Granted, the Less is More approach isn’t going to get you to the podium. Let’s face it, more often than not, the good RUNNERS win triathlons, and at some point down the line, if you want to be a FOP Clydesdale, you’ll have to decide to become a runner. In the mean time, while you are losing weight and just enjoying your new-found sport, concentrate on Swimming and Biking, get good at those disciplines, and when you are ready, you can transition to More is More running.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I was hoping to write a nifty race report of my Olympic test at Longleaf today, but this cold has got the best of me, and instead I have my first "Did not Start". I'm not sure what would be worse, a DNF or a DNS. At least in a DNF you gave it a shot, and for one reason or another, usually a darn good one, you had to drop out of the race. Me, I just got sick.

I was ready to go, too. Bike was clean and mounted in the truck. Race gear in the bag; I was carbo-loaded like all good Clydesdales do, but feeling the beginning of the sniffles and congestion that usually mean my annual cold is coming on, I went to bed last night just hoping that the Vitamin C and Echinacea (that's what the plant looks like to the left) would be enough to kick it out of me. It wasn't.

And that's the real cruddy part - man, I was ready to go and looking forward to this race! A small tri with only about 150 competitors, just 45 minutes from my house, an 8am gun and a nifty time-trial swim start made this, for me, a must-do event. It was, however, a "C" race - I did not taper, save for a day off on Saturday for a Sunday race - it was going to be essentially a big brick. My end of season "A" race has only 2 more "big" weeks of training left, then a 2 week taper for my first 1/2 Iron-distance race - Miami-Man - on November 12th. Stretching and warming up this morning, I had to tell myself to keep my eye on the prize - and do what you can to kick this cold quickly in order to put in some quality training in the upcoming weeks. This race would have undoubtedly lenthened my recovery, and I keep telling myself that, but I sure do feel like I missed out today.

To reward my exceptional decision making, and since we were already up, a trip to IHOP was in order where a large class of cold-fighting orange juice, and other things which just helped to cheer me up, were waiting for me. I was back in bed before the first racer toed the swim start line - and with any luck, I'll be hitting it hard again tomorrow with a nice little morning run and a lunch swim. Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday morning Bonk

How many times do I have to go though this until I learn? I mean, really – I read all the articles and I know better. Most humans, me included, obviously, have about a 2 hour reserve of carb-like-substances stored for an endurance event, right? At least that’s the general consensus. So, if you don’t add any calories or carbs to the body, you run out, your legs get noodle-like and weird things start to happen to you. Cramps. Stuff like that.

And then there’s the heart rate guideline; “X” percentage of LT heart rate will buy you some more time before you run out of your stores. Of course, there’s the old hydration thing as well – as you dehydrate, your performance suffers. So how many mistakes in training did I make today? Had to have been all of them. Every mistake you could make, I made today.

First, this morning, I left the house without my Garmin. Of course, that’s my only cyclecomputer and it’s my HR monitor. Got out to the place where I ride (a 20 minute drive) and couldn’t do a 50-mile ride and get to work on time if I went all the way back home. I also forgot to grab my tub of Assos cream – now, I can get through 50 miles without some lube, but it’s certainly not as much fun.

Already mad, I start setting my bike up and realized I forgot to bring any tape. I run tape across the top of my Profile Design aero bottle – that sponge-like item being ejected long ago – so now I have NO lid for my primary hydration unit. Nice. I’m forced to fill it about half to ¾ full, which comes back to haunt me, sort of, later. I put my cell phone in a plastic baggie and since I know the mileage by heart, I can use the clock on it as a timer.

My plan was a nice, base-type 50, since I had done a 21m “time trial” on Friday (a good one for me, finishing up with an average of 21.8 without aero wheels), and I decent 6-mile run on Saturday evening. For me, a nice pace was going to be in the 19.5 to 20.5 range. I get out there about 6 mile in, probably already going along too quickly, and my boss comes riding towards me about 1 mile from the turnaround. I figure he’s got 2 miles on me, and my adrenalin picks up a bit.

Still feeling good, at the 12.5 mile end of the loop, these two posers hop on my wheel – of course I’ve got to try and impress them (read: drop them) so I pick up the pace to about 22mph or so, totally bringing my HR into LT. They fall off on another path after 4 or 5 miles, but the damage is done. At 19 miles, I pass by my boss again and see I’ve picked up almost ¾ miles on him – so I’m psyched again. At the 25m turn, I know I have him; he’s right up there about a quarter mile away. He’s in my sights now. He, I find out later, has other plans than to let me catch him.

I pick up the pace to get up there and ride with him – my intention is to finally back it down to a reasonable pace once I reel him in. 2 miles later, it’s time to refill the aero bottle, so I reach back behind my seat for the bottle of Gatorade and get crushed with a cramp that seems to be deep in my core. Holy crap this thing hurts; not your average, everyday side stitch by any means! I slowly fill the bottle and spin to recover, watching my boss pull away. Who comes up behind me? The two wheel grabbing posers again, and while I’m limping, they zoom by me. My recovery was quick after that, and at mile 30 or so, I push it hard and catch my boss and them (they were on his wheel) before the magical turn at mile 31.5. I’m still feeling pretty good – probably from catching the head honcho, and keep the pace, whatever that is. I did the first 25 in 1:13, so I was averaging 20.5 – which was about a half mile per hour faster than I would have liked. Doesn’t seem like much when you say it fast….

I get back to the beginning of the final loop, at mile 37.5, and it all starts crashing down. My boss has since dropped back, but now I’m waiting for him to pass me as I’m no longer riding aero, I’m down a gear and spinning noticeable slower. Where is everyone?!?! I could have used a bit of motivation at that point, but realistically, I doubt I could have answered any challenges. I see a friend in the parking lot turn at mile 43.5, and he rides fresh with me back to my truck at the other end of the loop. I come in, according to my cell phone clock, right at 2:30 – which at 20mph is a pretty good time for me, considering that last 12.5mile lap was done at least as slowly as 18 mph average.

So, from now on, I don’t forget my equipment, I drink more (I only drank the aero bottle down the first time filled with water, and then the one time filled with Gatorade – about half as much as I usually drink), I practice eating – bring a gel or two and start at 25 miles, then again at 37. Oh yea, on long, slow days, ignore everyone else and ride my own ride! If that would have happened on my up-coming ½, I’d be in serious trouble for 13 miles of running – my weakness.