Friday, September 30, 2011

The Biggest, Little Update

So, I am married now.  My beautiful fiance has now officially become my beautiful bride.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Minneapolis Du - To Du or Du Not. Question Answered

My last post involved me musing about the possibility of attempting a Du and then running off to work a full day's shift.  For those that still follow my mostly sporadic blog, here is the race report.

The day started early, and I mean early.  I was up by 4 AM running around the house waking up roommates making sure that I had all of the things that I was going to need.  Race number, bike jersey, sweats, towel, 3 liters of water, and my newly acquired tri shorts. (I broke one of the primary rules of racing several times over during this event.)  I slung on my race attire before heading out: bike jersey (a stylish team jersey purchased the previous day at the expo that was pro Team Ortho), Tri-shorts (Pearl Izumi purchased the previous day as well when I was attempting to find size 12.5 wide running shoes.) with a pair of shorts over the top (not quite brave enough to go straight spandex yet) and my standard running shoes.  Also in tow was some Gu roctane, not in tow was my water bottle.

The morning was nice and cool.  I wore a sweatshirt over my bike jersey while setting up my transition area and stretching.  It was about 6 AM when I arrived at the race site and the place was already a buzz of activity.  Setting up the transition area was a breeze.  I had ridden my bike over from where I had parked and remembered to set the gears into a more favorable starting position than that of its highest gear.  I popped my helmet over the handle bars and went to set my water bottle into its holder....  only problem was my water bottle was waiting patiently for me back home on the kitchen table.  I knew that was going to bite me in the ass somewhere.

7:20 AM:  Race Wave 3 Start time.  After watching a Jeep that had been parked along the side of the road, dead center of the start corral, get towed off by one of the local tow companies, my wave began.  5k start distance.  The cooler morning temp hid one thing that was really going to suck.  It was humid.  Water wasn't until mile 2.4 or so of the 5k, so my body had plenty of time to regulate its temperature (a.k.a : Sweat!).  I am not a small man, nor do I freeze to death.  The combination of those two facts means I heat up quick and sweat a lot.  I took Powerade and water at the first stop.  I knew that my bike wasn't going to be the refueling station that I had planned.  I was already mentally kicking myself for my own stupidity.

7:50 ish T1 in sight.  I ran up a ramp that they had leading to T1 and high fived one of the volunteers that I knew.  5k down and only 35k left to go.  I grabbed and downed a water before taking my first Gu Roctane.  Mixed berry or something of the like.  It was tasty and didn't give me much for difficulties.  I knew the bike was going to be hard without water, so I grabbed a 2nd and 3rd cup of water after downing a 2nd Gu.  I drank on cup on the way to the bike and threw on my helmet and riding gloves.  I am still new to the whole multi sport thing, and I knew that the bike was going to be a mixed bag.  I knew that I had a decent enough bike to easily pass the commuter and mountain bikes, but the serious bikes were on a whole different planet.  I downed the third cup before running my bike to the bike out area.

Open road ahead of me I jumped on my bike and slid my feet into their cages.  There was a woman ahead of me on a commuter bike that was starting out and was already a block or more ahead of me.  My first goal of the bike portion pass her BEFORE the massive down hill at the end of mile 1.  I hammered down and over took her quickly.  My legs protested a bit but settled into biking quickly.  And quick it was. 20 mph leading up to the hill, and I wasn't used to the type of speed that was in store for me down that first hill.  Between timid glances down at the computer perched between my hands and shouting "On your left" at the bikers that had no intention of following the "ride right" portion of race etiquette, I managed to top out somewhere around 35mph.  Unfortunately on this course what goes down, must also go back up.

The bike portion followed West River Parkway along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.  It is a route that is know for a few things.  Gradual hills, beautiful scenery and tire swallowing pot holes.  I was cautious not to hit any and my average speed showed my caution.  After my rocket start down relatively new pavement, began my slower (avg of about 15 mph during the bike) trod through the pot holes.  Everything fell into a rhythm and the miles markers slid past.   Around mile 8 there was a slower u-turn along Minnehaha Parkway that was on solid tar.  Nice and easy, one could still take it at a relatively decent speed and not think much of it.  However, around mile 10, there was the U-turn in a cul de sac. This beauty is where my heart rate spiked.  Not do to the exertion that I was putting my body through, but because there was a bit of loose material on the top of the road way that my rear tire happened to find.  I don't know how, but I managed to pop my left foot out of its cage and kick it down to execute (had it been planned) a pretty amazing u-turn. I fumbled with getting my foot back into its cage and needed to look down to see what was going on.  A small adjustment to the cage while still in the saddle, and I was on the home stretch.

8 miles worth of home stretch.  While on the ride out after the first major hill, it had been a net elevation gain, and on the home trip was where I could make up for some of that speed that I lost getting my massive frame up that gain.  The last 8 miles of the bike were great.  I did more passing than getting passed and everything was going my way.  I made it back to that initial hill that I was able to fly down; this is where me and gravity got into a bit of a disagreement.  Gravity thought that it would be fun to keep pulling constantly.  Gravity has been know to do that in the area and seems to have the stamina to keep it up.  I am not one that shifts into those lightest gears easily, but I needed every single one of them.  After cresting the beast that was so exciting to bomb down and rounding a corner, the bike in was visible off in the distance.  Less than a mile before running again.  I finished off the bike where I was greeted by a volunteer shouting, "Dismount and run."

T2: The revenge of the T's
I never thought about how my legs felt after any one of my brick work outs BEFORE I listened to that volunteer's order, but I remembered quickly the second shoes hit pavement.  I have never jumped into a pool of Jello before, but I can now imagine that feeling even now while typing this.  My legs weren't just feeling like bricks; they just weren't feeling.  I shuffled my way towards where my transition supplies awaited.  I grabbed my final Gu and went towards the water table.  Downing the Gu along with 3 cups of water I walked out of the transition area.

The final 5k:
Hardest 5k in my life.  I know now what not to do for a Du.  Fill and stuff that water bottle into your race shoes if you have to, but DO. NOT. LEAVE. IT. AT. HOME!  My prediction of less water that I should have was about to bite me, but it bit me in the left quad instead of the ass.  I got about 1/4 mile in, I thought that some light jogging might help to wake up the needed leg muscles, but my left quad decided to cramp up.  Not in a small way either.  I stopped my jog and started to stretch it out.  I was finishing this thing.  I wasn't going to back down.  I managed light jogs here and there while pausing every 1/2 mile or so to stretch out the quad.  At the mile 2 marker of the run, I felt the effects of the Gu and water take full effect.  I was able to run more and made it to the final water stop.  I took in more water and dumped some over my head so I could cool myself down a bit.

The final portion of the run was filled with small challenges.  I had taken in what little water I had at the final stop poorly, and my body was telling me.  I got a small side stitch and walked.  My calves felt like they were on fire, but as I saw the finish line after a small turn I sprinted.  Pain be damned; I wanted to be done.  Personal congrats from the announcer on completing my first Du (that was a nice little bonus for knowing a lot of volunteers) and my spirits were lifted.  I walked through the area for post race goodies and grabbed my bag and an extra banana.  Muscle milk was there too and handed out a sample. 

I got my bike out of the transition area and started walking it to my car.  Now some of you readers might remember the 3 liter bottle of water at the beginning and realize I have yet to really mention that specifically.  That was how I showered.  I am not too proud of it, but I smelled respectable and felt much better after first sponging off using a wash cloth and then dumping the rest over myself to provide the final rinse.  A quick towel off, I was off to the nearest gas station to change into my work attire after loading my bike.  I made it to work in time and also had no complaints about smell or odor.  Most of them just looked at me like I was crazy for doing the event before work and still arriving early.

Reader participation:
What is the weirdest thing you have done after completing an event?

I am out of here before my battery dies on my laptop.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Best Laid Plans

In my life I have made many mistakes, normally, an eraser was all it took to correct them, but this time it looks like stupidity might be the solution.  Well, maybe not stupidity, but sheer grit and determination.  I signed up for a Du on Sunday, but I requested Saturday off because I had looked at the date from last year instead of this year.  Now, since the race starts at 7 and my shift starts at 10.  There is a possibility that if I destroy the course; I might be able to do both.  The other part is begging my boss to allow me to show up late, so I can squeeze in a shower as well.  My goal time would me anywhere from 2-2 1/2 hours, so it is possible, but getting from race to work while maintaining professional grooming standards might be difficult.  Well. Packet pick-up is later today, so I will have to check out what type of course and parking I will be able to use and also call around to see if any of my co-workers near the area would allow a quick shower if I decide to attempt this.

Quick edit:
I have decided to do the Du...  I start at 7:10 and will hopefully be showered and dress for work at 11.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A quick note on being away

I have been absent from the bloggy world for a little while now and would like to offer some small explanation.  I am getting married in less than 2 months (it has flown up from 6 months to 4 to less than 2) and generally busy with work and trying to train for all of my events squeezed between now and the wedding.  Seriously, I don't think that there is a week end where there isn't at least one day taken with a race or wedding related stuff (one with both.)

The other is to announce a quick plug for Leah @ Chasing Atalanta and her amazing give-a-way of an Allied Medal display!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Go Commando! - Post Race Debriefing.

The lead up to my running the course was pretty long since I had arrived at the course around 6 AM and actually ran the course closer to 4 PM.  This does not mean that I hadn't been to almost every corner and nook (or pond or mud pit) of the course at least twice if not three times.  It did mean however that when the Volunteer and Staff Wave started that I probably had 10+ miles in that day not to mention plenty of crawling, crouching and standing to get the near 800 photos that were trimmed to 330 or so for the Team Ortho FB page HERE and HERE.  (Remember it is important to bracket your shots.) 

I started near the front (next to one of the guys from MarathonFoto) since there wasn't that many actually in the wave (40 or so).  The horn sounded and we took off, and I mean took off.  One of the staffers set out with a sub 7 minute mile which really pushed the pack.  Most of us were blissfully unaware of this accelerated pace until the first obstacle "Hay Fever Ridge".  My legs protested as I bounded up the small bale to get to the top of the larger round bales, but the jump down to the smaller bale section in the middle is the first time where I saw gravity over power my leg strength as I tried for some style points while in the air.  Recovery was easy with a quick roll and then climb to the next round bale section.  I did take more caution with stepping down at the end of the bales since there was fewer bales to land on. 

The path soon went through a shallow pond.  This is where the devilish side of me came out and an impromptu belly flop was performed near a pack of cautious wading commandos to be.  This seemed like a good idea until I realized that the cargo pockets in my shorts didn't have any means to drain out the water let alone the sand from the bottom that found its way in.  The hill that let  out of the pond had been turned to mud by the 3000+ runners that had traversed it before me while dripping wet. 

More running brought me to the 1st mile marker and then another obstacle.  It was some larger wooden spindles that had once contained some type of industrial wire stood up on end so runners would need to go under or over.  Due to my height the "over" option was the easiest and most logical.

More running to get to the hardest obstacle in my opinion, the cargo net climb.  The net was only secured around its edges and not to any other of the support structures in the center, so the entirety of the net would shift when the other participants went into another section of the net.  While challenging, it also allowed for more rolling and general flailing as I used the support structure to fling myself into the next sections.

The path the zigzagged its way up a hill and led us across some logs to the next major obstacle, hurdles.  That is correct, immediately before the 2 mile flag, they had set up hurdles of varying height.  I am not sure about you but my legs don't like jumping when they are used to pumping blood for running. (kinda like that feeling you get when you get off of a bike and try to start running.)  The lower ones were easy due to my size, but the taller ones did require gravity to yield to my leg muscles for a brief moment.

The "Mile 2" marker greeted us soon after as well as the only water stop.  Luckily the water stop volunteers hadn't gotten the memo about the staff wave and were still diligently on duty.  Although, I know that I had gotten photos of at least half of them on course earlier in the day.  A short run later there was a nasty steep down hill that I chose to walk down so I wouldn't loose my footing (it was muddy from people skidding down it earlier in the day).  Three built up dirt ramps awaited runners after the down hill.  (This is where most of the stylish jumping happened earlier in the day as well as a rumored front hand spring.)  I chose to run them with only a small jump before the crest to take them with the greatest efficiency (photographing here earlier allowed me to scout various techniques).

A sharp right then led to the next challenge.  Switch backs up and down a stand of pine trees on a hill.  This seemed like torture.  2 1/2 miles in your going to have us do sprints up and down a hill?!  It wasn't that bad because it spread the little pack I was in out enough for the slide that followed.
 Earlier in the day the bottom of this adult slip and slide had been grassy and green.  6 hrs worth of racers later it looked more like something you would expect to find a pig wallowing around in.  I decide to go for distance and laid down fully after grabbing the top of the tube to fling myself down.  Distance however I didn't get, but a hefty splash down and some "ooh's" from the crowd at the bottom were definitely in store.  I recovered quickly and ambled away now thoroughly caked in mud.

The next portion was a naturally sandy portion of hill.  Perfect for those who had just doused themselves in mud and were nice and receptive for sand to cling too.  I left this section looking like I had laid down on the beach sans a towel after swimming.   After rounding a corner a section of tires were waiting to be ran through. I mean what type of obstacle course would be complete with out car tires to run though.  They posed little challenge and were completed without any stumbling.

My legs were burning at this point as I was pushing myself the entire way wanting to beat my previous time of 34 minutes from the year before (not to mention carrying the added weight of water and mud that had collected on my shoes).  As well as possibly break 30 minutes for the first time in any time of 5k event.  They weren't the only thing burning as around the next corner was the fire jump.  A new standard in 5k adventure races.  It was only a single line of log and was burning only 6 or so inches off of ground level so the challenge wasn't that great, and I barely could feel the heat though the layers of sand and mud on my legs.

The final obstacle was a water pit with rope strung over the top.  It was meant to make people actually dip and crawl through the water, but most people just lifted it up and waded through the last little pit.  Not me though, upon entry I immediately dove in and started to crawl.  I wanted to use the opportunity to get the uncomfortable sand off of my legs, and I wanted to stay true to the intent.  A quick few steps after the water pit the finish line greeted the now Commandos. Dog tag finisher medals, a free cup of beer and some chow also greeted the finishers.  I also opted for the quickest way to get clean, the fire hose.  That is right.  They had the local firefighters come out with one of their hose trucks to hose down finishers to wash off the mud.  The water was freezing cold, but it did the trick.   The best part though was a new personal best of 31 minutes for the course.  I lounged around the finish area watching others finish their slogs and grab their finisher swag.  I gave away some of the extra beer and chow tickets that I had collected throughout the day from people trying to bribe the course photographer to make their photos look better.

It was a long operation, but it was well worth it.  Both participants and volunteers had great times, and I, for one, cannot wait to do it again next year!  Who knows.  If I am still blogging at that point,  I might have to have a Give-away for a comp entry so one of my bloggy pack can experience it as well.

Reader Participation:
Have you done any type of race like this?  What did you like or dislike about it?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Long March Home - Volunteer report

The Go Commando Adventure 5k that I was looking Forward to ALL. FREAKING. WEEK (Might steal this every once and a while from EMZ) was today.  It did not disappoint.  The early morning sucked.  Seriously, who knew that they also made 4 in the AM variety and not just the PM.  BUT I was soon reminded that I was not the only one that sacrificed cozy bed for the sake of a sport that I love.

The dedicated volunteers at 6 AM.
We went to the race site on buses since there was little parking available at the site.
The morning was cool and the dew on the grass soaked through my shoes early on and that was the last time my feet would be dry the rest of the day.  This gave me free reign though to go ANYWHERE my little shutter bug heart desired though. (I mean my feet were already wet, so what would standing in that pond hurt?)
Volunteers work in the background to get the participant swag bags set up.

The morning went on, and I started to chat with various volunteers that I knew from previous races.  Most asked about my missing better half, but were understanding when they found out she was in her home town.  (Later found out to be taking 2nd in her age group at a 5k in her home town. Congrats babe!) She is also the one that suggested that I post a few of my favorite photos here.  So, I will follow that advice and let the photos tell the story (with the help of captions).
Teams were encouraged and could garner a discount if large enough.
Individuals were also welcomed though (as well as creative costume)
Two participants navigate the Hayfever Ridge (The first of many obstacle, especially for those with asthma or allergies)
This pond was the 2nd obstacle (2 1/2 mile left in soaked shoes.) Style points for good entry though.
The next obstacle I didn't get a photo of (mainly because I forgot about it), but it involve climbing over large spools that once held heavy cabling.
This obstacle proved hard than it looked, but also allowed for some artistic flair if you were trusting of the participants footing.
After a winding run up a tubing hill (the race site was a local cross country skiing area and tubing hill), they came to the next obstacle.
They weren't terribly high, but after nearly two miles they seemed like they were!
Sand dunes came shortly after as the final mile was packed with obstacles.  Style points can shave of time right?
Pine trees and rope formed a hilly switchback.
This next obstacle deserves multiple photos.
This obstacle increased everyone's pace!

Yep there is a person causing that.

This one too!
A sandy ascent.
No adventure course is complete without running through tires.
Or the jumping of fire.
Then the final challenge.

 Remember time doesn't matter when you run.  It is most important that you are out there!

Let your imagination run wild with what this one made people look like.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Final prep before Going Commando.

Just shaved, picked up some protection and something for a little refreshment.  I want to have some 5 o'clock shadow tomorrow when photographing Team Ortho's Go Commando! Adventure 5K tomorrow.  Also, judging from my friends that were out there setting things up today sunscreen is a must.  And we all know that proper hydration is the key to good performance, so I am the proud owner of a  2 liter camel back now. (that will need to be filled a couple of times tomorrow)  My camera batteries are charging and soon I will be off to bed so the 4AM revelry tomorrow will seem more "normal".

I will probably have a race report and photos (none of myself since I am the photographer for most of the day) coming in the following days.  Also be sure to check out the Go Commando FB page HERE as photos are sure to be posted there as well.

Lights Out!