Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Foothills Sprint report... training through a race.

So Monday was the Foothills Sprint Triathlon. There has been a fair bit of disappointment (and therefore much whining) this past week since Rev3 Knoxville, so I needed a race to help me get back in the swing and stop obsessing over a bad race. I wasn't going in with "too" high hopes, just a solid finish without any major issues. I was also training through the race, so I knew I wouldn't be in peak shape. The 3 hour ride on Sunday meant when I woke up early Monday morning, I was greeted with some fairly dead feeling legs.

My warmup was longer than what I usually manage... I got a couple of good accelerations on the bike, a long(ish) run and then a short swim in before lining up on the pool deck.

The only real scare of the day was when I pulled my bib out of the bag... 13! I get some odd looks when I request that they write the 3 backwards on my arm, and the announcer had a hard time at the finish line reading my upside down bib, but otherwise I think I steered clear of any ill effects.

Also, a rogue Mallard (duck) joined us in the pool at the beginning, but was disqualified for cheating when he took flight at the start of the race.

Anyways, on to the report.
Swim - 5:59

Getting passed at the end :/ So sad.

And so we're off. I line up about 10 people back and think I positioned myself about perfectly. I was passed at the end by a girl who had grossly underestimated her swim time, but otherwise it was a smooth time. I had planned on being right at 6 minutes, so I don't think it could have been much better. Before I know it I'm climbing the stairs and heading to the bike.

My swimming has been going pretty well considering I've been getting under 8k a week for the past few months. Someday I'm going to really learn to swim though!

T1 - 1:23

Buckets, buckets everywhere!

I hot foot it down the long trail to transition and find my way to my bike. I fumble with the seemingly tougher than most chin strap on my Bambino but eventually take a "woo-sah" moment and I'm out the gate.

Not a good T1. About 15 seconds slower than I was last year, which is no good. I really need to start practicing my transitions with a little more interest. There's no reason not to have the fastest T1 in a race other than laziness.

Bike - 28:04

Coming through the last turn to transition. Note the backwards 3 in 13 :)

And here we are on the bike again. After really paying for not racing my own race at Rev3 last weekend, I was a bit nervous to try and chase down the pace truck. I get low fast and start picking the few people in front of me off. I notice a few miles in that I've picked up a shadow... a relay biker who is BLATANTLY drafting me.

I know it's a try a tri, and I know that on a rolling course like this you get stuck in area's where "drafting" is sometimes tough to avoid, but this guy was full on bike race drafting me with no intention of passing. I give him the "elbow flick" a few times and eventually get so frustrated I turn and give him a few choice words... you sir should be ashamed of yourself if you are for some twist of fate reading this.

Eventually he's had enough of my pace and falls off and it's myself, the eventual winner and another guy all in sight of each other. We start hitting the end stretch which is very hilly and I content myself with just keeping the two of them in my sights. No need to gain a few seconds on the bike only to blow my run. (again)

Overall I was happy with my bike split for my fitness level. 2nd fastest of the day and faster than my split last year by a handful of seconds on 10 watts less power. (avg.) I'm back on the bike for real training now so hopefully that power gap is on it's way out. (or even better, on it's way the opposite direction.)

T2 - :35

T2 is tricky here, since the parking lot you come through is busted up pavement and massive speed bumps. I wait until the last second to flip my leg over and ride it through, but I'm on my feet running with no incidents. As I'm heading to my rack and removing my Kask, the visor launches and I have to turn around for it... problem of magnetic visors I guess. It costs me a second or two but I'm quickly off and running (with my upside down # belt)

Run - 17:10

On the long stretch home

Still no miracles happening here. Alan (the eventual winner) is a MONSTER of a runner (2nd place in the Knoxville 1/2 Marathon) and I knew going in that unless something crazy happened there was no way I was going to beat him, so as he exits t2 I can only wave goodbye. I battle off two other guys as long as I can, but my weakness shows in the last half mile and I have to settle on finishing 4th behind guys who can actually run.

I had hoped that my work on the half marathon training would translate over better to my short course speed, but it has seemingly not.  When it boils right down to it, I just need to start doing more fast running and at least be able to respond to surges from other guys. As it stands my strong bike is offset too much by my weak run, and other guys who know me know they can easily catch me on the run. I need to be a faster runner to make them bike above their fitness and level the playing field.

Alas, time will tell if I'll ever be a "good" runner or not.

Finish Time - 53:09

Fall down here
All things considered (like having a 3 hour ride Sunday) things went pretty good on Monday. I was a couple of seconds slower this year than I was last year, but given I was training through the race I feel like that's acceptable even if it's not thrilling.  Afterwards we sat around and goofed off waiting on awards and I picked up some more series points for the Fleet Feet Grand Prix.

Jenny must be pretty funny since we're all laughing!

Hope everyone had a good Memorial Day, thanks so much to all who have served so that I'm able to write snarky blogs and boring race reports.

Until next time, thank you all for reading

-Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When a hard day at the office is a tough race (Rev3 Knoxville Olympic)

Some days are tough. If you race long enough, you'll end up with a  tough day on race day. Sometimes it's because of technical, sometimes it's training, and sometimes it's just "a bad day to have a bad day."

Rev3 Knoxville was Sunday, and it was a tough race. I'd say of all the races I've ever done, it was the hardest day I've ever had on course. (yes, counting a 140.6) I knew going in I wasn't in 100% race shape, but I was thoroughly punished on course for not accepting my limits beforehand. But enough of that, let's get straight on to the report.

-Pre Race-

I spent Saturday morning driving the course and putting the finishing tune up on the Cervelo. The online map of the course was a little off and I'm terrible at directions anyways, but all in all I thought I had a "pretty good" idea of where the Olympic course went.  Then I returned to Knoxville with the bike and got checked in. Heck, I even got the best transition space I've ever had at a big event (right on the corner on a side!) Afterwards I had dinner with my friends Jimmy and Sharon and headed home to get some sleep.

Maiden Voyage of the Cervelo

Sunday morning all goes fairly well, Jenny arrives and we head out to transition (arriving by 6:30) which was good, as my front brake had somehow gotten quite mushy overnight. After a quick freak out I get it set right and get my transition set. Then it's a long walk to the pier and a little work getting my wetsuit on. After a round of kisses I smirk and drop a cocky "See you guys in a little over 2 hours." (tsk tsk... cue bad mojo)

Jenny and my mom helping me get suited up

I jump in and do a little swimming around to stay warm and then get in position for the gun.

-Swim- 25:56 (8/33 49/268)

No problem seeing me right? I'm somewhere in the front middle.

With the wave being m40 and under, there's a fair number of us. Nonetheless I seed fairly far up and had pretty clear water the entire way. I still don't like swimming in a wetsuit at all (It rubs my collarbone plate) but it was a necessity in the cool water. I noticed at about 2/3 of the way through the course my foot and calf were trying to cramp up as I kicked, so I lay off a little bit. After what seemed like forever I was flopping up on the dock and on the run to T1. Honestly, Knoxville is a pretty "boring" swim (up, around, down) but it is a tough swim. I never felt like the current was helping no matter which direction I was going. I was lukewarm to happy with my swim time/placement, especially on the yardage I've been getting in lately.

-T1- 2:14

Swimming is fun, swimming is fun...

It's a pretty long run from the dock to the bike... which was a good thing in this case as I had a hard time fiddling with my zipper. Eventually I get it off and get glasses/helmet/bike ready without much incident. I'm quickly on the bike and into my shoes. Time to do work.

-Bike- 1:08:20 (2/33 12/268)

I really need to practice my flying squirrel.

Or not. The bike started off with a short climb onto the exit ramp out of town. Immediately I was in my small chain ring and not feeling good. I mentally reminded myself to take it easy, drink some water (the Torhans 20 worked out quite well for this race) and not freak out the first few miles. Eventually I start to come around and feel "better," if not good. I am passed at about mile 12 by Andrew (who beat me at Storm the Fort last year.) and despite KNOWING that I'm not in shape to bike with him I decide to try and pace him, once or twice I even manage to pass him when I'm feeling strong. All good things come to an end though, and as we hit the "climb" of the course at mile 15 I am reminded (quite brutally) that I am not in the best shape on the bike. Goodbye guys, have a good ride. I do get a boost from Jimmy, who anyone there will know as the Pink Horse on the bike course... he went all out to lift my spirits. Going down the descent is where I get a little confused from the course "turn by turn" I followed the day before. It said turn right at the bottom of the hill, but the signs (all pink... would it have hurt to put green tape down too rev3?) pointed straight. With nobody around I forge one, but not at full speed...trying to find out if I'm off course. Eventually some volunteers tell me I'm going the right way, so I speed off back toward town. Like a fool it's almost the end of the bike ride before I remember my gel shoved in my pocket. I should have taped it to the top tube to remind me. I down it way too late in the ride.

As I cruise back down the exit ramp I bend down to unstrap my shoe and am hit with a terrible side cramp. I suck it up and get my other shoe off but end up riding sitting up for the last bit of course, trying to get a breath.

Looking back, I would say my bike was too aggressive for my fitness. My intensity factor was very near 1.0 which is just too high, especially having a weaker bike than usual from the get go. I think realistically I was in shape to ride a 1:12 - 1:15

-T2- 2:00 (ish) (t2 and the run were together on Rev3's website)

Riding in on one shoe... the one part of this race I actually looked cool.

I manage to swing my leg over and look pro coming into transition, but as I rack my bike and bend over to put on my Zoots, I'm again struck by a cramp. This one is so bad I have to sit down and take a couple of breaths just to be able to stand back up. In hindsight, I missed out on the podium right here, sitting in t2 trying to breathe. Nothing I could do and thankfully it resided fairly quickly. Time to go suffer.

-Run- 46:30 (ish) (4/33 23/268)

Don't mind me, I'm just heading out to suffer some more.

I've quit races before, both literally (when I was sick on vacation last year) and in spirit. (at Augusta 2012) Never have I wanted to truly quit a race so bad as I wanted to quit on Sunday.
I hurt.
That's the only way to say it.
It was like a snowball of soul crushing. The first few miles I was still struggling just to continue running thanks to my side reminding me that it didn't appreciate the torment I had been putting it through. Eventually I "smoothed" out and actually felt like I could continue on/wasn't going to keel over. Of course the real runners started passing me and it seemed like every one of them had a number on their leg between 30 and 35. I had told myself NOT to look at my watch (as I knew there was nothing I could do about it anyways) but nonetheless I took a look at mile 4 and saw that being around 2:05 had already came and gone with 2 miles left. I sulk a little bit as my pace continues to stagnate at mid 7's, but try to pull myself together and finish as strong as I can for the day. As I'm rounding toward the finish I can hear somebody sprinting on me and I try to pull out what's left...but there just isn't anything there. He cruises by me and I cross the line in an unceremonious collapse.

Toasted and unhappy about it

In retrospect, my run was primarily crushed by my overzealous bike split among some other issues on the day. It's possible my cramp came from too hard a bike as well, although it's hard to be sure. I should have ran somewhere in the 6:50-7 range per mile, and the best I managed was a 7:10 on a (thankfully) downhill section. For a flat course my run was embarrassing, but it's what I had to work with at that point.

I finished with a 2:25:05 (comically a PR at Rev3... considering it's been 4 years since I finished it)
4th in my AG and 23rd overall. Not the day I had planned on, expected or wanted, but the day I had. I came away immediately upset with myself, but having had some days to look back, I've had some lessons drilled into my thick skull that will serve me well come Nationals.

First... It's a triathlon, not a bike race. I have a problem integrating this, but it has to become second nature NOT to try to bike like it's the TdF Prologue. If I had biked even 4 or 5 minutes slower and ran to my potential my day would have been quite a bit better I think, and much less painful.

Second... I still have comfort issues in my wetsuit. My bum shoulder is just a problem it seems... not sure if a sleeveless would help or not, but I might try one out and see in the future.

Third... I can't forget my nutrition on the bike. That was rookie and bone headed. I have to get my head in the game before and during the race.

/ Race Report

So that was Rev3. Bad day behind me, no lingering on it, just learning from it and moving on.

And fortunately I can move on pretty quick, as Memorial Day (next Monday if you didn't want to look at your calendar) is the Springbrook Sprint triathlon. I will be going for the win on the Fleet Feet Sprint series again this year so I'll be there looking to pick up some points.  I guess that means you guys will get two race reports in a row. Hopefully the next one will be a little more exciting.

Thanks for reading, I always appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Ohhh yeah, bonus. Here's a Picture of Jimmy in his pink horse getup. (and me riding him in aero. Yes we are idiots)

All we need now is a PD Lightning Stryke to make him a unicorn.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's good to try new things. (like a blog with a recipe!)

I must be getting older. I get super excited over things that once upon a time I would have scoffed at. Take, for example, my new rice cooker.

This thing was $35 at Target! Game Changer!

Holy #@%^ this thing rocks. It is completely possible I may die of rice poison before I get tired of it. Of course, it may have something to do with these tasty "energy bars" I read about on the interwebs.

There are a million ways you could vary it, but here's the tentative "perfect" energy bar so far.

What you need:
- Sticky rice (sushi rice worked for me too, and my local grocery store stocked it.)
- Powdered Peanut Butter (PB2 makes it. Works a lot better than *real* peanut butter.)
- Craisins
- Sugar
- Salt
- Cashews (or nuts of your choice)
- Bacon (it makes everything better...duh)
* Cooking spray
* Muffin tray / whatever you are going to shape it in.

Fill the rice cooker with water and rice. Let it sit for a while (an hour or so, makes it stickier) then cook to the directions of your machine. Once the rice is done spoon it out onto a board or baking sheet or whatever. Let it cook a bit (you'll regret it if you don't... burns are bad.) Next cook some bacon (I used that pre-cooked 10" microwave stuff.) let it get crunchy and break it up. Now dump all the other stuff (or whatever you came up with) onto your rice mound. It should look similar to this.

A gooey plate full of awesomeness.

Ok, Now get it all mixed up (coat hands with non-stick spray and mix. Make sure you don't burn the crap out of yourself.) and start scooping it into your muffin tray. (that's what I used. I assume any bread tray would work too if you don't mind chopping it into smaller pieces later.)

This is important... SMASH the crap out of it. You need to pack that delicious rice concoction TIGHT in there... otherwise it'll crumble later. use something to compress it more...put some weight into it for Christ sake. Now, shove it in the fridge and let it cool some more... you should end up with something like this.

Couldn't even resist long enough to take a picture!

And there you have it. Of course I'm certainly not done experimenting, but it's nice to have something other than the same old energy bars to take along on a long ride. You will need some of that sandwich foil (paper on one side, foil on the other) to wrap and take them with you, but other than that these things are quick, simple and CHEAP to make, and you can customize them to your specifications.

Ok, end of the Iron Chef talk... how about trying some new shoes out...

My butt is going to be so shaped.

Runningwarehouse had these guys on sale, and my curiosity got the better of me. I had been looking for a shoe to run in on my *easy* days (and to swap out from my Mizuno's every now and then) and these Hoka's seemed like the perfect thing. I've only ran in them a couple of times so far, but some takeaways I've had.
- They didn't revolutionize running for me or anything. I still prefer my Wave Riders for an everyday shoe and certainly my Zoot's or Adidas for race day.
- They are a legit running shoe. Much more responsive than I had given them credit for and plush without being spongy.
- They have a fairly nice (if cheapish looking) upper and tongue.
- They are EXPENSIVE (msrp was like $160 I think...) - although I suppose you would very likely get a LOT of miles out of them, so it might balance out.
- They are funny looking (but that's ok)

More about the Hoka's in the future after I get more miles in on them. I think that while they probably won't ever be my personal go to shoe, they are a real option for people looking for a bit more cushion without delving into marshmallow land.

Finally... this weekend is Rev3 Knoxville. Historically I've never had the best luck here on the home turf, but I'm hoping to change that come Sunday. It's going to be an important stepping stone towards Nationals... as I'll know just how close to hitting some of the bigger goals I really am. I am feeling pretty good about it overall, my swimming and running are both improved from last year, and I suspect my bike power is close to where it was at the end of last season. (finally...whew) With a good day and semi-good weather I am hoping for a nice PR.

Ahh and the Cervelo gets to come out and play! Maiden Voyage in a race!

Sadly I can't take the C5 ;)
So hopefully I'll have a positive race report for you guys next week!

Thanks so much for reading! Hopefully you'll try the rice cakes!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pictures from Paradise

Part Dos (hey, Cinco de Mayo was Monday... or it was Revenge of the Fifth for you Star Wars nerds...)

Before I finish up talking about my vacation, I wanted to mention a movie I saw over the weekend.

The posters are some of the coolest for any film...ever.

The fact that this movie exists is pretty sweet. Check out the Wikipedia page on it and check out some of the covert ops that went into making it.

As far as the movie itself goes, it's...surreal... I think that's the best way to classify it. After reading (but before seeing) about it, my mind placed it first as a horror movie (it's not) and then as more of a "clockwork orange" style (not that either.) film, and finally as a parody (nope). What it actually is is tough to nail down. I liked the movie, but it doesn't fall into any category I can think of. I suggest watching it, but do your best to go into it without any pre-conceived notions as to what to expect. I think you'll be happier that way.

Anyways, back to the beach (I wish)

Nothing near as story worthy happened once we arrived on 30a. So instead of a play by play, here's some pictures I managed to snap with a little musing.

On my ride one day I snapped this picture, entering Alys Beach, which none, one of the most beautiful "urban" spots to ride that I've ever been to. It's also really fun to chase cars at the 25mph speed limit.  You can also see the trail that lines both sides of the road if you don't want to be battling traffic.

This picture does nothing but prove that you can't take a picture on the Internet at face value. Not pictured are the 50+ times I tried to do a handstand and either fell on my face immediately or didn't get the picture taken before face planting. This made a slick facebook profile picture though ;)
Of course, no trip to the beach is complete without some culinary expeditions. This year was absolutely no exception. Normally in my day to day routine I follow a pretty boring eating schedule. I eat, basically without fail, the same thing for breakfast and lunch 99% of the time, and generally don't branch out too far for dinner. That doesn't mean I don't love different (and, terrible for you) food though.

Bacon, Eggs, Frito chips, a soft tortilla shell, some leftover shredded chicken and rice. Breakfast of Champions.
 Of course breakfast, despite being the most important meal of the day, isn't the most fun. That's dinner.

Salad, Grilled shrimp skewers, barbecue peel&eat shrimp, Scalloped potatoes, Sirloin and grilled Cobia with Pineapple. If you didn't walk away from this meal full, there was something terribly wrong with you. Also, this was my first experience with Cobia fish... which is now in a tight arms race with Tuna as my favorite fish to throw on the grill!

The "awww" photo of this post. She's pretty awesome... even if she did over stuff the washing machine. (which resulted in a broken washer and me doing laundry by hand... the horror.)
I tried to get the sun in the picture, but I'm just terrible at selfies. I thought it was a good picture of Jenny in her gangster hat though. I somehow managed to bungle every picture of the sunset this year. Alas.
Of course none of my trips to the beach are truly finished without talking a little about vices. Cigars and Booze... is there a more manly way to finish off a trip to the beach.
The last night on the patio Wes and myself spent smoking good cigars and drinking expensive Whiskey. That's how you know a trip has been successful... finish it off with all the vices.

That was a little look into my trip to the sandy gulf. I hope you enjoyed my recounting at least a portion of as much as I enjoyed making the memories.

Play time is over though... Rev3 looms (next weekend actually) and following hot on it's heels will be Nationals. Fortunately my power on the bike has quickly returned (I'm hitting numbers similar to the end of last year.) and my run is much improved. Swimming is holding steady (which is good considering the little I'm managing to get in the water.) so I'm hoping to have some big days coming up.

Don't forget... Mother's Day is SUNDAY. Get your momma a card you bums!

As always, thank you all so much for taking the time to read through. Despite this blog being a "triathlon" blog in name, it's truly more about the "triathlete" and my life, so thanks for sharing in the journey!

Until Next Time

-Christopher Morelock