Tuesday, November 8, 2011

October Round-Up

I think this is the last post I need before I'm all caught up ...

While September wasn't good ... October was worse, I'm not going to lie. There's a reason Brandon wrote his last post. I really have no excuses for anything ... but here we go. Onward.

Running: 15.01 mi (average went waaaay up)
Swimming: 0 mi (boo.)
Cycling (outside): 0 mi (boo.)
Cycling (inside): 0 mi (boo ... kind of.)
Lifting: three sessions
Other: two yoga sessions, two hikes/walks (long enough to warrant a mention here), one belly-dancing lesson

I also did a guided meditation (and have done another this month) which, while not technically working out, was very calming in a spiritual sense and we all know our minds, bodies and spirits are connected.

In any case, except for some variation in the workouts, what few there were, there are really no positives to take ... except for the fact that I feel slow and fat and just ugh. Therefore, November's already off to a halfway decent start. So plus for that!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The excuses have to stop

As you have read in my two previous race recaps, I went into those races unprepared. Considering I achieved the biggest event of my life (getting married) I think it's a fair excuse. However, our wedding day was nearly a month ago, and I still haven't really got back in the groove of working out. I realize it's tough to get back into it after slacking for so long, but seriously, this is getting out of control. Keep in mind, I'm speaking purely for me, and not the other half of TBD.

When I lost about 30 lbs, I vowed to never go back to the life of slovenly hell. After all, that slovenly hell was over the course of 6 years of eating college crap food, drinking a ridiculous amount of alcohol, and the only exercise was playing hockey.

Our 70.3, which was clearly the culmination of our racing career up to this point, was nearly 3 months ago. Since then, my working out has been nothing short of absolutely awful. Combine that with a diet that has been mediocre to flat out terrible, you get what I am feeling today: sluggish, slow, and no longer like the athlete that crossed the finish line of Boulder 70.3 last year. When I look in the mirror, I see my muscles have dwindled, my stomach, which was built pretty solid by the end of summer is becoming a gut.

I know I'm painting this like someone who has lost everything he has gained, which I know is not the case. Realistically, I know it will just take some solid back on the horseness to get back into tip-top shape. We have a 4 mile Turkey Trot run coming up on Thanksgiving, which I really want to do well in. Here's the big thing we have coming up: we want to do the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon. However, given my recent race history, I cannot go into this race without some training under my belt. I am not coming out like I was for the Denver 1/2: battered, bruised, and disappointed. So the time to put up or shut up has come. It's easy to talk about how I want to do well; it's harder to actually man up and do so. So I need all of my readers out there to hold me accountable. Check up on me. Pressure me. Ask me if I've been to the gym or hopped on my bike. Without a system of accountability, I don't have a shot of regaining what I've lost, and at that point, Ironman Arizona will continue to just be a dream.

Race Recap: Denver Rock N Roll 1/2 Marathon

This was a race we signed up for on a whim. The plan was that after August and the achieving of infinity, that we'd have something to keep us motivated and something to train for.


With the wedding, the aftermath of 70.3, and just everyday stress, training went by the wayside. The excuses are not good and numerous. I'll get into that in another post here later. Anyway, we decided this race didn't matter and we would have fun, with T taking pictures and me tweeting (that's right, I'm on Twitter. Follow me at bgeist111.)

It was a cold cold morning. You can guess what we said when we woke up. When we got downtown, we found a decent parking space. T realized she forgot her sunglasses and would have to run with some ghetto ones she keeps in her car. We began the walk downtown to find the porta-potties and the race start. A side note - we picked up our packets the day before.

It took some effort to find the porta-potties, but once we did, we did our thing then had to go to the bag drop off. It took asking a volunteer to find it. Once there, we realized this process was not going to be efficient and we were grateful we were there early.

After the gear drop off, we went back towards the start. I grabbed a bottle of water and killed it. The National Anthem was played and then we waited for our wave to start. Due to the massive crowd, there was no way to work it back to our wave, so we just waited for it. It came by, and we wedged our way in. Hit the start line and off we went!

It was a nice morning, if not cold. We took it very easy and enjoyed running in downtown Denver. We saw sights like the Blue Bear, Pepsi Center, and Coors Field. All this time, we were maintaining a crummy 11:20 pace, but we were still enjoying ourselves. We walked a bit, stripped down (damn cold making me overdress) and kept on going. There was a hill as we turned onto 17th that we destroyed, which in hindsight was probably not a good idea but felt good at the time.

As we ran down 17th, we cruised by D Bar Desserts, which is one of our favorite restaurants in Denver. I tweeted to them and said hello. We then got close to City Park, which we knew was the meat and potatoes of the run. I figured if we could survive that, we could salvage our times and somehow make this a respectable 1/2 Marathon.

This is where the story goes downhill...

I had to pee really bad. Poor hydration management. I saw some porta potties and ran towards them. I told T to go on and that I would catch up. Famous last words. I struggled through City Park, at one point even tweeting "the wheels are coming off the train."

I saw T at around mile 8 on the out and back, and told her not to wait. Not possible, apparently. She told me she would and kept her word. From that point on, which was around mile 10, it was just going to be a shuffle by me to the finish.

We shuffled through the final miles, and at one point, I actually called Kris, telling her my feet and legs killing me. She gently reminded me that I have already accomplished a lot this year and that my lack of training for this run could be forgiven for everything else that I had accomplished, including marrying my best friend. With T urging me on, we pressed forward. For her to hold back even though she could have done much better, she deserves kudos for that.

Crossing the finish line was a huge relief. We actually crossed together holding hands. Our time was lousy; the memories were memorable and ultimately, I'm glad I did this race. I learned some things for sure. I cannot B.S. my way through a 1/2 Marathon. A distance that large commands respect.

Official time - 2:39:52.

Race Recap: Crescent Moon Sprint Tri

I was reminded that I haven't even recapped our sprint tri from September OR the Denver 1/2 Marathon. So it's time to get cracking with this!

We woke up and mumbled something about why did we sign up for this? I swear, we do this every time we race. I was excited because I was going to debut my new helmet for this race. It's a more aerodynamic helmet then my old helmet. I guess when you start getting better at this sport, you get to upgrade your equipment. Woohoo!

We got to the res very early, and wheeled our stuff into transition. It was clear that this was not going to be as big as Boulder 70.3, but really, maybe we needed that. After choosing a bike rack, we went and grabbed our packets. After that, we hit the porta potties which were very close to our transition area, which was quite convenient. Then we got body marked. I got a K+M under my age to dedicate the race to our fantabulous cheer team from Boulder 70.3, Kris and Mark.

After trans was set up, we just kind of sat around and waited for the race to start. We scouted out the swim area and realized the walk from the swim exit to T1 would be ridiculously long. Either T1 would be really long or the swim would be really long. Regardless, I was not impressed.

The sun was up and running, so we got into our wetsuits and headed down to the swim beach. This was going to be a cold morning; my focus in the water was going to have to be excellent. I was in one of the first waves to go.

The Swim
I was right about the water. It was cooooold. Very very cold. It took awhile to get into a groove, and quite frankly, I noticed the lack of training in my stroke. By the time I hit the 1/2way point of the swim, I was feeling the fatigue in my arms and my breathing was getting shoddy. However, I kept the grind going and eventually felt like the shore was getting closer. Is it just me, or does the shore always seem really far away?

Regardless, my sighting today was quite solid.

As I said, the run up from the beach to transition took FOREVER! I was running for awhile, but then decided running wasn't worth it anymore and just took my time so I could catch my breath. I composed myself and found my spot in trans, stripped off my wetsuit and got into my cycling shoes. Also making its debut today was my new Pearl Izumi tri tank. It's green so I'm representing the Sioux, and also built a little bit better then my Sugoi tri tank. Furthermore, my Oakley Flak Jackets were debuted as well. Kris let me borrow her flak jackets at Boulder 70.3 and I was amazed at how awesome they were. So I bought a pair from Trisports.com and this was my first race they were used.

I was all set to head on out.

The Bike
The bike was going to be interesting. What was clearly a much improved leg for me this season would be tested on very little training.

I got out and quickly realized the pavement in the res sucks. It was bumpy and hurting my man-bits. Again, focus had to come into play. I toughed it out for awhile and downed a bunch of water and Gatorade. One thing I learned during the summer is that I cannot do too much Gatorade or I get sloshy tummy, so I made sure to take in more water.

This course, say what you will, is not too bad. There's one bad death hill, but otherwise, it's pretty fast. I was getting passed by people, yes, but I was also riding very well and surprisingly pain-free in the 2nd half.

As I got back into trans, I was feeling really confident.

Not much to report, just changed into my running shoes and off I went.

The Run
Running, for whatever reason this year, has been my Achilles (not literally). I just have struggled with it. I don't know why, but I need to somehow get my running groove back.

In the first mile, I was forced to walk as the temperature was steadily climbing and I felt my left calf was very tight. I pushed it though and made it to the first aid station where I grabbed some water. As I came into mile 2, I actually had to stop and stretch. Someone offered to help me, but I declined and thanked them.

In the last mile, I forced myself to pick it up. People were encouraging each other, and I fed off that energy. Coming into the transition area and nearing the finish line, I felt good and when I saw the official time clock, I was surprised at how fast I was. I crossed the finish line in my custom fashion, pointing at the finish sign while walking.

Swim - 19:30
T1 - 2:53
Bike - 40:54 (16.9 mph average)
T2 - 1:48
Run - 30:54 (9:54 per mile)
Total time - 1:35:44

I waited for T to come in and made small talk with a couple people around me, including a girl who graduated from Wisconsin. She was actually nice. As T came across, I tried to get a video, but didn't really pull it off.

We both realized after this event that we are better athletes then we give ourselves credit for.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Race #9 of the Season: Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half-Marathon

The lack of motivation in Casa Baby Dino has been evident this past month ... October hasn't been very good. But we'll get into that with the monthly round-up. But the lack of motivation has included blogging and, by default, this race recap. But I shall delay no longer - onward!

Very shortly after completing IM Boulder 70.3, we started regretting signing up for the Denver half. What with the hangover from that race and then focusing on our wedding. After the wedding and subsequent mini-moon ... it was about two weeks until the half. Yeeeah, not much time to train.

As a result, we decided well, we've paid our money, may as well go through with this ... but make it fun. I would take pictures and Brandon would be a nerd and tweet during the race.

So, that morning, we woke up, drove downtown to get a parking spot that we would be able to get out of easily enough despite all the blocked-off roads. We then walked the few blocks to the start area, took care of business and wandered around for more than we should have trying to find the damn bag check.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
City and County Building race morning ... with the top acting like a giant disco ball.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
Start line.

Starting the actual race was kind of a cluster as some 16,000 people all tried to funnel down a narrow downtown street into the starting corrals. Eventually, we just smushed our way to one of the barriers and when our wave came close to starting, we slid through the fencing and then walked on up to the line.

Then, the gun was fired and we were off!

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
Running under the start banner.

We started the race off at an easy pace, knowing we really hadn't put in the training. It felt super good to be running, though.

Within the first mile, we came upon one of the more famous points of downtown Denver - the blue bear:

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
The sculpture, I believe called "I See What You Mean," is outside the convention center.

We ran down 14th, hung a left on Auraria and ran past a building I spent a whole lot of time in.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
Pepsi Center, home of the Colorado Avalanche.

We looped past Pepsi and continued down Wynkoop, back into downtown. At this point, we were holding about an 11:20/mi pace. Super slow, yes, but we were running still. Going back into downtown is also where I ditched my jacket. I was hesitant on wearing it, knowing I'm a fairly hot runner, but I did anyway ... and had to tie it around my waist at like mile two. Oh well.

The first water station (iirc) brought a funny moment for us - the song playing from the truck there was "(Don't Fear) the Reaper" ... and some of the aid volunteers were playing a loud cowbell accompaniment.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
"I have a fever ... and the only prescription is ... MORE COWBELL."

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
Union Station was essentially across the street from that water stop.

Right around here I believe we walked for the first time ... but again, this was a month ago, so I can't quite remember. From Wynkoop we turned on 20th which meant we ran past our second sporting venue of the race.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies.

From Coors, the course wound around a bit more downtown. We hit the 5K point right before what we knew would be the worst hill of the course - from when you turned off Broadway on 17th.

5K split: 34:40

We killed the hill, running steadily up it ... but it killed us in return. We definitely weren't in the hill shape/endurance shape to do such a thing. Confidence booster, yes, but bad overall? Yep. We moseyed on down 17th, a road we've driven down a lot to get to one of our favorite restaurants.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
Mmmm ... D Bar.

From 17th, we turned on ... Park Avenue West, I believe, to work our way into City Park. We passed a guy who had a sign for a marriage proposal (which, we found out later, that she accepted, so yay). As we entered the park, we split up. Brandon had been needing to use a port-o-potty for a while so he ran off to use one and said it was fine for me to go ahead. I did, thinking he'd catch up soon.

When we first saw the course map, we figured City Park would be the hell miles - 6-9, the grind, the place where I first saw the wheels come off in Vegas. In Denver, this really didn't happen. I actually felt pretty good ... but I didn't want to pick up my pace too much because I was waiting for Brandon to catch back up. In no time at all though, I hit the 10K point.

10K split: 1:10:45

I kept looking back over my shoulder for Brandon, but no luck. I started walking a bit more, even though I didn't feel like I needed to, waiting for him. Since we didn't really train for this, we said we'd run it together and I still wanted to do so.

At right around the 8 mile marker, there was a little out-and-back, and that's where I saw him. He didn't look too good.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
He's in a bit of pain.

Since I didn't think he was too far behind me, I really slowed my pace and started walking more, just so he could catch up. In the meantime, I saw these guys:

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
Love. It.

There was another out-and-back section on the City Park Esplanade (right near East High School) and I kept looking for him, but no dice. At the end of the out-and-back (straight, turn left for out-and-back, then turn left again and continue), I stopped running to wait for him. I think he was kind of upset, knowing I was having the better day, but dangit, we said we'd run the race together and I was determined to do so.

Our progress from this point on was slow. Brandon's feet were killing him and he was having leg soreness and he was thinking about bagging it. I told him no how, no way and to run when he could. I was experiencing some soreness myself in my hips, but I was ignoring the pain so I could help Brandon through his race. Besides, I hesitate to use the word pain because it wasn't stabby. It was definitely uncomfortable, but I could run through it.

10mi split: 2:00:08

Right around mile 11, we ran into Cheesman Park.

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon
Big inflatable dude that's at all RnR events.

Cheesman was surprisingly crappy with the rolling terrain. We passed the marathon split-off and kept on rolling. Brandon was running when he could and I was sticking with him.

After Cheesman, we got back on 13th and it was pretty much downhill to the finish. We ran past one of our new favorite breakfast spots, Jelly (I know Liz was happy to see them ...). I was hoping to run it all without stopping from the 12 mile marker to the finish, but that wasn't in the cards.

From when we made our turn to the capitol and down to the finish, though, we ran. I made Brandon do my customary sprint across the finish with me, with us raising our arms as we did so.

Final Numbers:
Chip Time: 2:39:52
Overall Place/Total: 7213/8957
Pace: 12:12/mi
Sex Place/Total: 4605/6013
Division Place (F25-29)/Total: 1021/1222

We hugged, grabbed water, food, our medals and blankets and then headed off to gear check ... to wait in long lines at one of the more inefficient operations I've ever seen. Argh.

Once we got our stupid bags, we remembered to take a picture:

Rock 'n Roll Denver Half-Marathon

Then we had a very enjoyable rest of the day ... home to shower, one of our favorite bars for nachos and so Brandon could watch the Vikings game and then to the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield for a pumpkin festival. Brandon had to commute out later that night and I ended up getting called into work, but still. Good day.

Final Thoughts:
- Vegas was put on much better. I don't know if it's because it's a bigger race, or because this was Denver's second year under the RnR banner, but this race didn't seem quite as well-organized.
- I carry my own gels with me, but I overheard quite a few other half runners who were upset that the first Gu table wasn't until mile 9 or 10.
- The start line funnel was not organized well. I know they're kind of constricted by the downtown layout, but it wasn't pretty.
- I came damn close to being able to BS my way through this race. I don't think I could have beaten my Vegas time, but I think had I actually stayed separate from Brandon, I may have been able to do a 2:20, 2:25. Still not "good," but not bad for no training.
- While next year's race schedule is being devoted to short course racing and speed, I want to run this again for redemption to see what I can actually do on this course. For Denver, it was actually pretty flat. With proper pacing in the hillier sections, I feel I could rock this course.