Friday, November 1, 2013

The Benefits of swimming AM practices w/Raiders

Benefits....? Of waking up before the crack of dawn to go jump in a cold pool? 

Absolutely, here are several benefits that come with swimming first thing in the morning. Some of these apply just for the Raiders athletes and some apply to every one. 

1. Swimming at the King George YMCA early allows the coach to be able to really see what's happening under the water. The YMCA leaves their lights off in the morning and only has lights on in the pool. This allows everything under water to be illuminated with out any glare on top of the water and allows a great view for the coach to see exactly what their swimmer is doing and needs to work on. 

2. Swimming early allows you to start your day off right. When you complete practice your body is releasing endorphins into the blood stream. Endorphins are hormones that helps you feel good. Also, completing practice early frees the rest of your day up to do as you wish! Athletes leave practice feeing accomplished and happy.

3. Swimming early may be a good way to get free food when coach brings doughnuts in!

4. Swimming early is not for the faint of heart. Raiders early practices are very low in numbers and eases up on the coach to swimmer ratio, giving the swimmers more one on one time and more feedback. 

5.Morning Practice preps you for Championship preliminaries. If you can swim fast at 5:30 in the morning, then 8:00am on a Saturday or Sunday morning should be easy. You HAVE to swim fast the morning in order to be able to swim fast at night!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Raiders Race in Pumpkin Plunge

The Rappahannock Raiders continue their season’s success in their second meet at the Poseidon’s Pumpkin Plunge. The meet was held at the beautiful Collegiate School Aquatic Center in Chesterfield, VA. The Raiders busted out immediately with 10 straight best times and would continue on to improve upon 65.9% of all times. Adding to the team’s success the team broke 11 team records and achieved 18 new “USA Swimming Standards”.

Gabby Thompson and Alex Poley set the tone for the meet when the two combined for 13 best times of 14 swims, 4 new team records, and 5 new “USA Swimming Standards”.
“Everyone raced really well this weekend. I saw our athlete’s make adjustments to their strokes and turns mid-race. It show’s they were really paying attention to what they were doing. We just had a lot of heads up racing.” stated Head Coach Brandon Hendrickson.
The Raider’s hope to continue their success in November as they head to Fredericksburg, VA to compete in Regency Park Swim Team’s Mini Meet. For more information on the Raiders, visit
New USA Swimming Standards Achieved: Ricardo Bonilla-Vazquez 100 Back A; Jonathan Dates 50 Back B; Veronica Declute 400 IM BB; Abby Elia 200 Free B, 200 Back B; Jenna Kapp 200 Free AAA; Lindsay Knoke 500 Free B; Zandy Knoke 500 Free BB; Taylor Mayros 50 Back B; Cannon Parker 100 Breast B; Alex Poley 100 Free AA, 200 Free AA, 50 Breast BB, 100 Fly BB; Deonte Teleton 100 Free B; Gabby Thompson 100 IM A; Carter Wasser 500 Free BB; Brandon Wofford 500 Free B, 400 IM B
New Team Records Set: 9-10 Girls Jenna Kapp 200 Free 2:21.00, 100 Back 1:13.09, 100 Fly 1:13.04; 11-12 Girls Gabby Thompson 500 Free 5:39.38; 13-14 Girls Emily Sizemore 2:59.68; 11-12 Boys Alex Poley 100 Free 59.02, 200 Free 2:07.10, 200 Back 2:29.09; Senior Men Ricardo Bonilla-Vazquez 100 Back 59.67, 100 Breast 1:11.15, 200 Breast 2:34.04.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Walt Disney World Marathon 2013

Wow... What a week! If anyone is wondering where I was last week, as I have been MIA from the pool deck. I was thoroughly enjoying my trip to Florida.

Wednesday. Katie and I left from Richmond Wednesday morning. We rented a car in which we received a white 2012 Chevy Cruze. It was a good looking mid-size economy car which had leather seats, seat warmers, and satalite radio. We thought it was a great car for the trip. Our butts would tell us otherwise by the time we got to Florida. The drive itself went smoothly and we made great time, about 11 hours. The car got great fuel mileage as well, about 37 mpg.

We got into my grandmothers in Lecanto, Florida about 8pm. She was expecting us and had dinner already on the table when we walked in! Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and salad. We ate like pigs!

Thursday. Katie and I got up and got a short run in. It was tough as we were stiff from the long car ride and we still had to adjust to the heat and huminity. Florida was having record breaking heat for this time of the year. Almost every day we were there it almost hit 90F.

That afternoon, my grandmother took us out to lunch to a place called Monkey Bar. A small local seafood restaraunt that sits on the water and overlooks a small island, called Monkey Island, in which 5 small monkeys play around all day. Again Katie and I pigged out and enjoyed watching the monkeys swing around their little island. Man, lifes rough sometimes! ;)

After lunch, my grandmother paid for Katie and I to go out on an air boat. Our driver's name was Captain Stuart. He was the owner of the small airboat which was powered by a 500 hp Chevy engine.

The marina we were in had both naturally made and man made canals in which people built houses around. Their only way to gain access was by boat. Great place to escape to as you don't really have to worry about getting unexpected guest. Captain Stu took us past a blue house on the water and said it was once used by Marilyn Monroa and Joe DiMaggio. I thought he had said they had spent their honeymoon there, but turns out several articles online say they were in Japan for their honeymoon. Either I missed something or its just a tail the locals talks about. Once we got out of the marina, Captain Stu dropped the throttle and he whipped the boat around some of the channels, stopping everyone once in a while to inform us of the area's wildlife or history. At times we would skim the shore line and the boat's back end would kick out. We had so much fun!

Stu then took took us out towards the Gulf of Mexico. We stopped just short of the gulf, in a huge bay area too shallow for most boats and then cut the motor. It was so quiet and peaceful. We were in the middle of no where, floating ever so slightly towards the gulf. When we looked in the direction of the gulf, you could see small islands that seperated the gulf from the bay.

On our way back in, Stu took us past a particular island. The Homossasa tribe had lived in the surrounding area.(They now live in southern Florida, running casinos and becoming very rich! As Stu told us) All the land in the area was made of limestone, so the trible was not able to dig holes and bury their dead. Stu explained that the indians would have to dig up oysters from the water and bury their dead in oyster shells. As we drove by we could see the mounds of oysters. He continued to tell us that it was the largest buryal ground in the area.

That night, my grandmother once again spoiled us. She cooked us Salmon, baked potatoes, and had salad on the table. We stuffed ourselves full!

Friday. Katie and I took off from my grandmother on Friday and headed to the ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Disney World for packet pick up and to explore the expo. The entrance opened up with a stock car and a Ferrari 458 Italia, one of my favorite dream cars. Katie had to pull out a tissue to wipe the drool from my mouth.

The place was packed with people picking up their race numbers and tee shirts for the half marathon, full marathon, and Goofy Race and Half Challange (where you run both races, the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday; within both days you run 39.3 miles!). We quickly picked up our packets and went over to the expo where we quickly got aggravated with the overpacked isles of people. It was shoulder to shoulder as we pushed our way through the crowds. It was quite exhausting. We didn't last long and the remainder of the day was spent relaxing at the hotel and looking up things to do for the next day.

Saturday.... simply put, was NOT our day. We were exhausted from the driving and putting up with the large crowds of people every where we went. We were in a bit of a funk and couldn't seem to shake it.

We had planned to get a short run in that morning and head back to the expo to buy gels for the race; hoping that the expo would be less crowded as the Half marathon was that morning and those runners racing the Half and the Goofy challenged had already picked up their stuff. WRONG! It was still jammed packed and to make matters worse all the "GU" gels were gone. They had a couple other gels from different brands but Katie and I had both trained with "GU" and we both were smart enough to stick with what we had trained with. You never try anything new for a big race. We ended up buying a couple fuel/number belts for the race and left.

Our next mission was to find gels by "GU". I thought for sure that the area had to had a running or cycling shop where we could find gels close by. I was wrong again. There was one bike shop in an extremely sketchy area. Katie and I looked at each other just simply said no. lol It took us about two hours before we found a sports authority that carried our gels. Next time we will just simply buy them here in VA and take them down with us!

The rest of day was spent relaxing in the hotel (again), playing miniture golf, and prepping for the big race.

Sunday. RACE DAY! Our alarms went off at 3:00am. I was already awake prior. We ate a small breakfast, the best we could at 3am, grabbed our stuff, and headed to Epcot. It was in the low 60's but very humid out. The roads in Disney World were crowded with cars as 25,000 runners and their friends and families poured into the park.

And then it hit us like a ton a bricks. The thought that we were about to run 26.2 miles. What were thinking? Why did we decide to sign up for something like this? The task at hand was daunting, but we pressed on.

Once we parked, we made our way into the pre-race area. The air was electric. You could hear the race director giving instructions on where to go, what to expect, what the weather was going to be like, what the course had in store for everyone. People were being interview on the big screen. Music was pumping. 25,000 runners were chatting nervously.

We checked our bag in and made our long walk to the starting line. Katie and I were in different starting corals. Mine was to start first at 5:35a and hers was to start 3rd at 5:49. We said our goodbyes and good lucks and went our seperate ways.

The corals were packed tight and people kept squeezing there way in. I was not sure where they were all going, but they kept filing in. I found a good spot and just went over my race plan in my head. My only goal was to just finish. Around Thanksgiving, I hurt my ankle and my training in December was pitiful at best. Up until the week before, I didn't think was going to run. This meant I had to take care of my body early in the race the best I could. Start out slow, keep the body cool, and keep up with my nutrition. Listen to my body.

Right before 5:30, Mickey, Donald duck, and Goofy all came out on stage. Some one sang the National Anthem and then the Disney gang counted down to start the wheel chairs at 5:30. Then it was our turn. Just before 5:35am, the Disney trio again started the count down... 3... 2... 1... GO! Fireworks shot up from over the starting line banner and from behind us on a nearby bridge and immediately after, flamethrowers spewed flames up in the air as we took off. Everyone bolted at the beginning from the excitement. I knew I had to stay in control. I felt so slow as people were flying past me. I kept my heart rate in Zone 1, between 140-146 bpm, I took my shirt off after mile 1 to stay as cool as possible while running. I had to utilize the cool air while we had it. The weather was suppose to get up into the high 80's that day and I wanted to prevent myself from hitting the wall as much as possible. I also took on Powerade at every aid station and took gels everyone 4 miles to continually take on calories through out the race.

The first 5 miles were pretty uneventful as we headed towards Magic Kingdom from Epcot. At mile 1 they had a DJ playing pump up tunes. A couple miles down the road we ran past the Disney Worlds 3/4 mile oval race track. I noticed people were inside the track peering through the fence. I thought it was odd, they had allowed spectators in the track for this race, but didn't think too much about it. I would find out later on. Down the road marching bands were playing and cheerleaders were cheering and running through their routines. As we entered the parking lot for Magic Kingdom, people were riding around on classic bicycles. The ones with the massive wheel up front and tiny wheel in the back.

Disney World made a few changes to their course this year. Normally, we run a loop through Epcot before making our way to Magic Kingdom which would be about 10-11 miles. This year they took the loop out and added the distance else where. This allowed everyone to enter magic kingdom just after mile 5 and while it was still dark. The castle was lit up with thousands of lights and glowed a teal blue or purple. It made for spectacle as you ran down main street with thousands of other runners.

After passing mile 8, the course took an unfamiliar turn towards the race track. Then I noticed we were all running onto the oval track. The track itself was littered with several cars from all decades and countries. There were Ford GT's, Lamborghini's, Ferrari (including my 458!), Aston Martins, stock cars, old school Camaros, Mustangs, Challengers, and more! We ran the full loop and every 10 feet there was another car. I was drooling! At this point, I didn't care if I had finished the race or not. That lap around the track had made my day.

The next couple miles were a bit dull as we made our way to Animal Kingdom. The sun was rising and so were the temperature. The course took us past the trash and recycling center in Disney. There wasn't much to see, and smelled pretty bad. They did place a couple disney characters along the course. There was Peter Pan and the lost boys and Captain Hook. Off in the distnace we could see hot air balloons rising.

At this point I had been running pretty slow and people were still passing me. I knew around mile 10 I could probably pick my pace up to a Zone 2 (150-156 bpm). Prior, I was running Zone 1 and holding an 11 min/mile with walk breaks every 9 minutes. Once I picked up my pace, I started averaging 10 min/miles with walk breaks every 9 minutes. I was no longer being passed and was running pretty close to the same pace with everyone around me. I was still taking in Powerade and gels at every 4 miles. Just doing whatever I could to take care of my body.

At mile 12 we entered the back gate of Animal Kingdom. They had a hawk, a monkey, and a sheep that waved to us as we entered. Inside we passed trains, more animals, disney characters, bongo music, and most of the attractions. It went by pretty fast. I don't recall much of Animal Kingdom. Probably due to the large number of people around and the narrower course.

Once we left Animal Kingdom, so did a our shade from the sun. We were now running through the huge parking lot. The tempurature shot up immediately and the next 5 miles were like this as we made our way back onto the highway.

At mile 17 we entered the ESPN Sport's Complex where we had originally obtained our race packet. We ran all around the complex's property, between their various athletic fields, onto their rubber track, and the course even took us into their baseball stadium where we ran a around the field along the warning track. The whole complex added a good 3-4 miles and we exited the complex at Mile 20, where Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy were standing on a stage taking pictures with runners who had stopped.

Through out the park, I started the feel myself winding down. My heel was starting to give me some trouble. I stopped to stretch during one of my walk break and found a huge knot forming in my left calf. I quickly disposed of it by digging my thumb into it and rolling my foot around. It hurt for the moment, but allowed my ankle some mobility to continue on with out discomfort. After exiting the complex, I all of a sudden found my second wind. The heat had picked up and my heart rate was now in a Zone 3 (about 160 bpm). I couldn't get it down any lower, but it didn't matter, I was feeling good.

At mile 21, toy solders from Toy Story were on the side of the road shouting humerous and encouraging words for us. "Just remember, you signed up for this! You paid to do this to yourself! Now quit walking, and get to that finish line!"

At mile 22, we approached Hollywood Studios. Again we entered the park through the back gate and immediately ran through a tunnel. The tunnel has windows on either side where people were inside making costumes. All of a sudden I got a third wind. My heart now was around 166-170 bpm but I felt great. My legs were a little tired, but my run felt strong. So I went with it. I was now passing people left and right. Runners were falling apart all around me. Some of which I had seen and remembered from that morning flying past me at the beginning of the race. My pace was now approaching 9 min/miles and I was enjoying weaving my way through the crowd of runners.

After mile 23 we exited Hollywood studios and I hit the boardwalk for a couple miles. Again, there was limited shade. The heat caused my heartrate to rise again and I was now between 170-172 bpm but now holding 9 min/miles.

At mile 24 we entered Epcot. The final park on the race. All I had to do was run around the lake and get to the front of the park. At this point, I am flying past people. My legs still feel strong. There was epic music playing all along the park. I felt like I was in a movie running down some elite runner. Of course, I knew that the winner of the race had finished two hours ago. But hey, I was enjoying myself.

Between the music, me passing people, and the realization that I still had A LOT still left in the tank, I got excited and had yet another wind. Adrenaline was pumping through my viens. I hit mile 25 and was determined to run my fastest mile yet in the race and I picked up my pace. My heart was beating at 174+. I knew I was close. This was my third marathon and I had never felt this good, this deep in the race.

It only took me 8:30 to run my last full mile. At mile 26 a church choir was singing praise songs. I couldn't help but smile as the lyrics had "praise God" in them. I thought everyone running past them are thinking the same thing. The last .2 miles went by pretty quickly. More disney characters were waiting at the finish line. Announcers were talking non-sense and spewing out random numbers as people were crossing the line. I made a mad dash on the final stretch and cross the line in 4 hours and 31 minutes. I slowed to a walk. I could feel my quads starting to scream abit and the heat starting to rise from my neck and shoulders. I didn't care. I couldn't wait to receive my finishers medal. I have been looking forward earning this particular medal ever since I had signed up for the race in July. Countless hours had gone into this race. Early morning runs. Aches and pains. Cold and hot weather runs. Good runs and runs that left you fustrated. It all came down to that moment I crossed the line at 26.2 miles.

I made my slow walk through the final aid tent, picking up fluids, snacks, and other goodies. Got my bag out of the baggage claim and called Katie. She was just passing mile 20 and hurting. I gave her a few encouraging words and then let her be to finish the race. I have been there before, you don't want to be bothered when you are struggling through the wall.

She ended up crossing the line in 5 hours and 51 minutes. I gave her a hug and kiss and we found an area to sit down away from people to talk about our race. We were both very proud of our finish.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the hotel room, eating, and sleeping and eating some more and hobbling around the hotel room.

That night we made our way over to Downtown Disney to explore (aka hobbling around) some of the shops and to get a couple souviners to take home. The weather was perfect that night, low 70's with a gentle breeze. Between the cool shops and street shows performing, it made for a great last night in Florida.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

He who chases two rabbits, does not catch either.

Since I started coaching, I have found that over thinking plagues a lot of youth athletes. I see it all time at swim meets. More times than not, its pressure that the athlete puts on themselves. "I want to make this cut," "What if I don't make it?" What will my friends think?" What will my coach say?" "What will mom and dad say?" "Why can't I perform as well as Timmy?" "I suck at sports" ”I don’t want to race against her, she’s so fast!” etc. These are often the things that are spiraling in our athletes head

Some times pressure is caused from over bearing coaches and/or parents. Most of these coaches and parents don’t mean to be over bearing, but simply wants their child to succeed and are not sure how to help. Some times it can be caused by a swimmer that was given two totally different race strategies, one by mom or dad, and the other by their coach, and now the athlete has no idea which one to follow and is stuck asking themselves “Do I do what coach says and disobey mom and dad, or vise verse?” Either way, all these scenarios cause the athlete to think too much about their race instead of focusing on the right things.

I want to start instilling the right focus into our athletes when they go into swim meets. I want them to have the best possible experience, which is to be successful and happy. Dr Alan Goldberg, a sport psychologist who works with elite athletes, say’s that “Practice is 95% physical, while meet performance is 95% mental.” You have to do the work at practice in order to train the body, but once you get to the meet, all that work can go down the tube with out the correct perspective and mental strategies in place.

As I mentioned above, over thinking is a huge performance hinderer. Often athletes think about the “UCs,” or uncontrollables. “UCs” can consist of a swimmer’s opponent, water temperature, or anything else that they can not directly control.

Another big topic on their mind can be their goals and swimming cuts. Goals are great to set and achieve. They are great motivators for practices and give you something to work for. However, at a meet, all they do is add pressure to the athletes. Earlier in my swimming career I had a goal of breaking the minute in my 100 free. It was my last shot of the season to break the minute. I had to drop 4 seconds. I was so nervous and it took everything in me just to calm myself, and even then I still had few butterflies in my stomach. I ended up dropping 3 seconds and going a 1:01, a good swim, but the point is that the only good all that nervous energy did was tense my muscles up. When we leave the goals at the practice pool and go to meets with the perspective of, “Let’s just see how fast I can go this time,” racing becomes a lot more enjoyable and can cause the seconds to fall off personal bests.

John Leonard is one of the founders of the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA). I had the privilege of hearing him speak at the Eastern States Coaches Conference in 2008. One of the most memorable lines he quoted was “He who chases two rabbits, does not catch either.” Meaning when giving athletes pre race advice or tips, you should only give them one thing to focus. Coach John would only give his athletes one thing to focus on during their race. “Johnny, just focus on getting your hips up after every stroke of your 100 fly.” “Just do this.”” Just do that.” When a coach or parents gives the child too many things to focus on during the race they tend to over think their race and end up adding time. I have always tried to give my swimmers just one rabbit to focus on, but have caught myself in the past of giving 2 or more things to focus on during their race.

So what should our swimmers be focusing on? When the mind thinks, it thinks in linear sentences and neural activity takes place in the front part of the brain. Dr. Goldberg states that athletes should not use their thinking part of their brains at all, but should use their hind part or the part that senses feeling during their races. Athletes should keep their focus between their lane lines and should be feeling out their strokes through out their race, one stroke at a time. “Does my stroke feel like it does in practice?” What they successfully grasp this perspective they are no longer thinking about what they should be doing. They know what they are doing, because they know how it feels from practice.

When athletes just focus on that one rabbit, keep their focus inside their lane lines during their race, and there is nothing left to think about, all pressure flies out the window. With out any pressure holding them back, athletes will begin to drop more time and begin to enjoy swimming even more. Swimming becomes a lot more enjoyable and a passion for the sport begins to develop or become stronger. They will gain a perspective that racing is FUN, and that’s the way it should be.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Florida to spectate the Disney Half and Full Marathon... Again.

Yesterday, my cousin and I drove down to Florida. We left at 4a. Way to early, we both barely got any sleep the night before and she almost past out an hour into our travels. I took over and after about 3 hours, I even began to doze. She napped and then took over where I began to nap. The great thing about leaving so early is that we get here early. We made the trip in about 12 hours. With a 30 min stop for lunch and about 3-4x10 min stops for gas and restroom stops. We arrived about 5p, checked into the Radison resort. The same resort I have been to every time for this event the last 4 years now.

We managed to run over the ESPN sport center here at Disney for packet pick up. The excitement was in the air. A nervous, excited, and anxious tension in the air that you can't really explain unless you were here or have been to a big race expo. We grabbed our goody bag which had three tee shirts in it. That's when it hit me, and hard. I'm signed up for this huge two day event, a Disney Half-Marathon that's tomorrow and Disney's Full marathon on Sunday, but I am not running... Practically every one else here picking up their stuff is running, but I have to sit on the sidelines again once again. It was quite depressing and all I really wanted to do was go back home. The feeling just sucked. I'm here for my cousin though, she's running her half marathon tomorrow. She's quite stubborn, which makes her very difficult to coach. I love her to death, but it's frustrating. The full is on Sunday. She is quite nervous about the whole thing. I tell her to just focus on tomorrow. We'll worry about the marathon when we get there. The weather this weekend here is predicted to be perfect running weather with a low in the mid-40's rising to upper 60's/lower 70's. I'm a bit envious...

Afterward, we still had time so we ran over to Downtown Disney. There were some really cool shops, including a new one where you can build your own remote control car. I wasn't so much into the RC cars as I was the real cars they had. There was a competition Corvette (drool...), a Corvette pace car, a beautiful Dodge Viper, and two black pick ups, a suped up Dodge Ram and Ford F-150. They were all gorgeous. I'll post pics later.

Today, we've practically done NOTHING! We woke up, she went out to starbucks and walgreens to run errands, while I went for a mile run to test my knee out. I haven't ran in over a month. It felt good, but my knee started feeling sore after a mile. So I stopped, iced up and did some mobility work. Later we ate lunch and relaxed some more. I did some tri coach work and she read and talked to her boy. Later dinner at Ihop where we played the IQ Test game, those games you typically see at Cracker Barrel with the golf pins, we both got down to two pins, niether could complete the game completely.

I love the weather here, but I'm already looking forward to getting back home. I have class starting on Monday, which I'll miss day one for the drive home. I want to get back to my coaching, both swim and tri. I have some potential clients that I am meeting with this weekend here in Florida and at home once I get back, so I am excited to get things going. Championship week is right around the corner for swimming too. I've got a big couple of months ahead of me and I'm ready to tackle it one day at a time.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Odyssey Half-Marathon Adventure Race 9/18/10

By far one of the most challenging race I have ever done. I went into this thinking it was just another 13.1 mile race and I would breeze right through like it was another training run. WRONG! The first 3 miles went straight up to a peak of a mountain, topping out with a 1500 ft elevation gain! I was able to run most of it, but had to walk on several occassions as the legs and lungs were burning. I averaged 11:20 miles going up.

Right from the start I found myself in 4th, as I climbed, me another runner exchanged positions from 3rd-4th as we were forced to walk occassionally. This allowed for another runner to come up and overtake us, but as he pulled away, he was also forced to walk. I continued to exchange position with this guy, while also keeping 3rd place in sight, until we got to the top. I checked in at the first aid station at the 3.5 mile mark in 5th place. 3rd n 4th had pulled about a 100 ft lead by that point. They stopped for water at the station after checking in, and then took off. I checked in and took off, cutting that 100 ft deficit completely(I already had a water bottle in hand). I thought with the climb out of the way, I should be able to pass them and pull away going down hill! SOOOO not the case. In fact once we started the descent they were pulling away from me. I couldn't keep up and I was pushing my pace as hard as I could! I was flying down the mountain and my next 5 miles coming down were 8:18, 7:17, 6:55, 7:14, 7:47, and they were still running faster miles.

During mile 6, the one I ran a 6:55, was obviously where the steepest descent was. I was running fast trying to catch 3rd and 4th and all of sudden, the ground almost dropped out from underneath me! It took a dive bomb and I had flail my arms and sprint down this sudden descent to keep my balance. All the while shouting curses! haha I almost bit the dust, literally!

I never caught them, but pulling up to mile 8 I was still happy that I may finish 5th overall. I took a quick peak over my shoulder and they're was 6th place coming. He would catch me by the time we got to the aid station at mile 9. The trail afterwards turned into road and I was able to hang with him for a time. At least, until the road turned back into a trail and up more hills. My tank was running low at this point and I couldn't go with him.

By mile 11, I hit my last aid station and check point. I was hurting. The check point was in a camper site and I couldn't find the trail that led back to the finish line. I spent 3-4 min trying to figure it out until I ran into a spectator that was nice enough to point me in the right direction. The last 2 miles were hilly and painful. I finally finished, Exhausted and sore with a final time of 2:04:01 (unofficially). Meaning I might have broken 2 hours if I hadn't gotten lost! Bummer! The course record was a 1:48. I probably wouldn't of been able to break that, but coming within 12 minute of a course record would of been nice to be able to brag about! haha

Saturday, September 11, 2010

70.3 Patriot Half 9/11 Race Report

The taper leading up to the event felt awful! Nothing felt like it should have. Everything was stiff and achey, and even sore at times. Not to mention I had a developing soreness in my achillies tendon. When tapers don't go well, it messes with your head. Its quite frustrating and the day before the race, I really didn't want to do it. I had two major concerns going into my race. 1. How would I fair on the run? I have a history of blowing up half way through the half-marathon and I don't even feel 100% to be running 13.1 miles after a long bike! 2. How would the achillies hold up? I've never had problems with the tendon before and I didn't want to strain it. I really had no expectations going into this race. My primarily goal was to get through the run with out blowing up, and it wasn't looking likely with the way I was feeling.

Friday, I drove down to Williamsburg with these doubts and questions in mind. I got there early, so I decided to drive part of the bike course. The course description said it was flat, and it was. Very flat with a few rollers here and there. I would definately PR on the bike. Later I picked up my stuff at packet pick up. I got a cool gray tech shirt, my race numbers (217), and a couple other things. Then I headed down to Rory's to crash for the night.

Saturday: I didn't sleep very well that night, so I wasn't a very happy camper getting up at 4am. I forced myself to eat a thin bagel with peanut butter. I loaded up my car with my bike and gear, and headed back up to the race site. I got there around 5:30a. Got my race chip, body markings, and got my transition set up and was ready to go by 6a. It was still dark out and the temp was just under 60 deg. My cuz showed up to support me around 6:35 and we pretty much immediately walked down to the water for race start. There was a lot of walking between the parking alot and the water!

SWIM: The water was a cool but comfortable 74 deg. I found a good spot up front and waited for the horn. The first bouy was so far out that you could barely see it standing up on shore, let alone see it from in the water. The horn went off at precisely 7a and we were off. It was tough pushing through the current and it kept pushing everyone to the inside of the course. I don't think anyone swam on the outside of the orange buoys like they were suppose to, but we all did manage to get around the outside of the yellow one where we made the sharp left and headed down to the next buoy. Again, the buoys were so far apart, they were tough to spot and I had to stop a couple times through out the swim and pull up my goggles to see it! I eventually made it through the swim. None of the splits have been posted yet online, but once they do, I'll update.

T1: It was about 1/3 of a mile between T1 and the water. OK maybe not that far, but it was a long run to get there. I made my way in and the cold air was already bugging me, not to mention I was a bit dissoriented from being horizontal for the last 35 min-ish. I did my best to stay calm but stay quick as I placed my number belt, helment, shades, and bike shoes on, and took off. T1 felt strong, but probably not as quick as I could of been.

BIKE: The bike was the hardest part of the day. I was shivering from riding in the mid 60's air temp and while being soaked from the swim. It took me till I got to about mile 15 before I actually began the slow process of warming up. It took that long to crack into the 70's. At mile 20-25, the road was extremely rough. On these kind of roads, your body has to act like a shock absorber, sapping your energy quickly. While all this was going on, the cold temps were trying to cramp up my legs. I could feel my hamstrings and calve muscles getting tight. At mile 40, I hit a low, mentally mostly, but also feeling a bit fatigued. I still had a nother 16 miles on the bike and then I had to run 13.1 miles, and I was already hurting. I thought I was going to blow up on the run for sure. I decided to take a gel and within in the next 5 miles, I was starting to pull out of the slump. The last 15 min felt alright. Couple people that I knew past me on the bike. Holly blew by around mile 12, Craig past me around mile 42-ish, and Paul past me around 50. There was no touching Holly, she was gone, and ended winning overall in the women with a 4:55. Craig looked strong as he passed and with still 16 miles to go, I didn't expect to catch him on the run. Paul also looked good, but didn't get to me until mile 50. I knew I could run him down, but could I place a big enough lead on him to win?

T2: My 2nd transition felt great. I slipped my feet out of my shoes way before the dismount (probably way too early too!) so I could have a quicker time. Ran in, and swapped my helment for a sunvisor, and running shoes for bike shoes. Also grabbed 4 gels to take with me. The real test was on now. How long would I last in the run? How would the achillies hold up?

RUN: The run course it flatter than the bike course. My first 2 miles were both sub 8 min/miles, but they were achey. It wasn't until after mile 2 did I start feeling relaxed. Afterwards, my legs just felt better and better! By the end of the 3rd mile, I couldn't even tell I had been on a bike for 56 miles, it took me completely by surprise! Especially being that I had been hurting on the bike. I got my first glimpse of Paul at mile 4. He had already hit the 1st turn around just pass mile 4 and was heading back to the start/finish where he would begin a second loop. I clocked the time and found he was 2:40 ahead of me and judging by his pace, I felt like I was running a bit quicker. With 1/2 mile to go of the 1st loop, I spotted Craig heading back out for his 2nd loop. I still didn't think I had a chance but I wasnt sure. Soon after, I spotted Paul again. I was slowly catching him. I started my 2nd loop and was still feeling pretty good. I ran down Paul around mile 7.5 and gave him a few encouraging words asI passed. Now all I had to do was create a 9 min lead. Closing in on mile 9, I spotted Craig, and he was walking! He was blowing up and I made sure to also give him a few good words as I passed. Both men had started in the 3rd wave, which was 9 min after my wave. So, to beat them overall, I would needed to cross the finish line 9+ min ahead of them. I kept pushing hard. I was still holding sub 8 min/miles. It wasn't till mile 11 did I begin to hurt. My mile 12 pace had slowed to an 8:30/mile. I made sure to push even harder on the last 1.1 miles and ended up clocking a split of 7:51. I finished with an overall time of 5:23:36 and PR'ed by 36 min! I did the math on my watch, and if I am correct, ran a 1:37 half-marathon...AFTER a 56 miles bike! I was very pleased with my self. Soon after, paul came in. He had beaten me by about 3 min overall. Then, Craig pulled in with a 5:30.

Overall and surprisingly a great day. The achillies tendon didn't bother me, thanks for the prayers everyone! And I didn't blow up on the run! And now here I am, exhausted and can barely keep my eyes open. My bed is calling and its time for a very restful night. I'll update racing splits when I receive them.