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Friday, July 23, 2010

Like a rest week

I'm kind of messed up on my weeks but I'm treating this like a rest week.  I did a couple short 1/2 hour runs and three 1,000 yard swims but no biking to speak of.  I'll try and get out for a short one tomorrow.

Next week I'll hit everything kind of hard and then back it down the week after that and rest up for a 1/2 Ironman in Flagstaff. 

Pretty cool this morning I weighed in at 151 pounds.  That's the lightest I've been since shortly after my first Ironman in April 2007.

Monday, July 19, 2010

First Sprint Triathlon

Don talked me into signing up for the Mountain Man Sprint Triathlon on Sunday.  My hubris seems to have gotten the best of me these days - my whole, "it's only a sprint" attitude almost did me in.

A little bit of organizational disappointment first.  They've been doing this race for over 25 years.  This year they say that they had to split the sprint distance from the Olympic and half and have it on another day because of the crowds.  Not sure about that explanation.  It sounds like an excuse to get another entry fee out of people.

Anyway, their permit was for 650 entrants.  Don and I signed up on race day and we were race numbers 220 & 221 and there were 364 starters at the race but they didn't have any race t-shirts!  I kid you not, one of the things I most look forward to is getting a new t-shirt from a race.  This strikes me a very unprofessional.  They discounted our race entry by $5 but I think that what they should have said was that they would send us a shirt after the race.  As I said, very unprofessional.  It would be like running out of finisher medals at the end.

Another thing that they did wrong, and quite a few race organizers do this as well; they didn't have enough racks and transition stations.  I don't know what they accomplish by making people squeeze their bikes together so close.  I saw one woman threaten to smack a guy who spoke very little English because he moved her transition bag 1 foot so his back tire wouldn't hit it.

I had some very unusual problems in the swim.  I just couldn't catch my breath.  I'm usually bad in the swim but in this short 750 meter swim I was afraid I was going to panic and if I started to panic I was thinking that I was going to die because nobody was watching for people in trouble 100 yards from the finish.  What happened was that I wasn't feeling great in the first 250 yards, but that isn't unusual.  The second 250 were better but I still couldn't find a rhythm.  I was doing everything right, at least I though I was.  I was concentrating on breathing out in the water, rotating, catching, pulling, etc.  It just worked out that I couldn't swim more than 5 or 10 strokes without gasping for air.  I finally turned for the last 250 back home and the wheels really came off the bus.  I couldn't swim freestyle and it seemed like I wasn't getting anywhere with the breaststroke.  All of a sudden I totally started hyperventilating.  I kept trying to calm myself down but nothing worked.  Finally, in spite of how rotten it felt I floated on my back and just pushed my way to shore.  It felt like an eternity.  When I got out of the water I was totally disoriented.  Every step I took forward I fell two steps to the left.  I had to actually try and walk "right" into the water so that I could walk up the pier sideways. 

I went really slow into transition and crossed the mat.  I sat down and tried to take my wetsuit off.  Big mistake!  First of all, start taking your wetsuit off the moment you get out of the water because it comes off easier.  Second, never ever sit down unless someone is helping you take off the suit.  Use gravity, don't fight it.

Anyway, I finally got the suit off, and somehow got into my bike jersey and shoes.  I decided for this short race to go sans socks and see if I had any problems.  It went OK I guess.  I was still a little shaky as I left transition but felt good enough as I crossed the timing mat to make a flying mount of the bike.  The race organizer commented that it was a pretty cool mount.  I went pretty fast on the bike which is to say that I didn't relax at all.  I didn't really hammer it but I honestly don't know if I could have if I wanted.  Nobody passed me, that much I know. 

I was really surprised at how fast the 6 mile turn around appeared and a little disappointed at how long it took for me to get back.  I couldn't get out of my shoes while I was riding so I just unclipped and did another flying dismount as I crossed the timing mat.

T2 went a little better.  Again, I went with no socks.  I had to take off my right shoe once though to knock a stone out from the GC from the previous day's hike.

I did the run in just under 10 minute miles.  I walked through the one aid station and I had a pretty good kick at the end.  Legs felt good but sore.  We sat around talking with people for a little while and then got in Don's car and headed to:


Don commented that he never really rides hills and wanted to try one.  How he picked this one I don't know.  I tried to dissuade him since he had his tri-bike and really expensive tires and wheels but he wanted to try.  I honestly didn't think we would get very far.  I was only afraid that I was going to be the one to cry uncle.

Here's Don on his $5,000 bike, $2,500 wheels, and $25 helmet (which is broken and needs to be replaced)!
A couple action shots taken on the climb.

Turned out that the ride went rather well.  Because of the road conditions at the top we went to the signs at the top instead of the lodge 1/2 mile further up.  We rested for a moment and then turned around and did a descent.  I think I had about 3 minutes on Don with a mile to go.  I wanted to time it but the only thing I had was my phone and so I spent the last mile coasting and trying to get the stopwatch ready for when I crossed at the bottom.  He ended up pulling back almost 2 minutes on that last mile.  Good times.  I really scared the heck out of him on the downhill.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rim to River to Rim - Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon has never really held any kind of special place in my heart.  I've only been to the South Rim, what everybody thinks of as "The Grand Canyon", once and that was probably 10 years ago.  I've hiked some other easy trails in the canyon but never this one.

The idea struck me at some point this year to do a Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim hike in a day which is something like 40 miles.  I was thinking late October and that would coincide with my Ironman training pretty well.  Doug and I were throwing the idea around, but obviously he won't be making the trip.

Never having really hiked in my life I decided to do a shorter Rim-to-River-to Rim hike.  It's 16 miles.  You go down the South Kaibab Trail to the Phantom Ranch Campground and then up the Bright Angel Trail.  South Kaibab is 6.5 miles and really all descent.  Bright Angel is 9.5 miles with some flats which turned out to be lousy because they are all sand trails.

Got up at 2:45 in the morning and I was on the road by 3:00 am.  I arrived at the canyon at 4:35.  I didn't have to be that early as the bus doesn't leave until 5:00 am sharp.  There was a small bit of panic when I got off the bus and realized that I did not know where the trail started.  Fortuneately someone appeared out of the restroom and pointed me in the right direction. 

5:12 - Just got off the bus. I love these posters.

5:13 - I begin

5:35 - First place worth stopping for a look.  People were setting up to get pics of the sunrise.  I'm not going to sit around that long.

5:55 - I think this is where I'm heading.  At this point I'm trying to run.  Originally I figured that I would get down to the bottom in 60 minutes.  It is 6.5 miles and downhill after all.

5:56 - Better picture.  You can make out the river at the bottom

5:57 - Switchbacks that I will be decsending soon.  The problem is that in order to prevent errosion, they have put railroad ties on the trail.  The dirt and sand between them has washed in away in many places and the ties are spread further than one of my strides so I end up either jumping over them or pushing off them.  Either way, I can tell that this is going to tire my legs out in a hurry.

6:17 - River is getting closer...

6:27 - Closer...

6:33 - Closer... I don't have to climb over those rocks :)

6:42 - River level.  I am really starting to get a good pace going at this point.

6:42 - Look a tunnel

6:42 - Nobobdy said anything about crossing a bridge

6:43 - Over the river!

6:44 - Mules carry stuff down

6:44 - And they have the right-of-way.  And they stink!

6:48 - Good!  Another bridge.

6:56 - A quick water stop and I'm well on my way back up.  Which means of course, another bridge!  This one goes over some rapids and has a mesh bottom.  I started to jog over it and realized that I hadn't zipped my pack shut and a couple things fell out and scattered over the grid.  Good thing I thought to clip my keys.

7:01 - Another mule train.

7:20 - Dear Lord!  Is that where I'm headed?

7:51 - The trail is pretty deep sand at this point.  Kind of sucky and slow but after 30 minutes I've climbed quite a bit.

8:15 - 4.5 miles up the trail (about halfway) I've reached Indian Garden.  I've been climbing for about 90 minutes I guess.  At this rate I'll get out in an hour more than I predicted.  Don't let the thermometer fool you.  It may be 110 in the sun but right behind me is one in the shade reading 85.  It's still early enough that the sun isn't baking everything yet.

8:21 - I've screwed around for a bit getting water and I'm just about to leave.  The squirrells practically walk up to your feet and beg for nuts.  The guy sitting on the right was there with his family and they were trying to convince him to start hiking.  I don't know if they had come down from the top or up from the camp ground but he knew how hard the next few hours were going to be and he was in no hurry.  Little does he suspect how hot it's getting out there.

8:40 - I think I'm another mile-and-a-half up at the next rest area.  Katie tells me that the patch of green in the middle between the two peaks is Indian Garden.

9:28 - I am right around the last rest stop around 1.5 miles from the top which means that it's taken me the better part of 50 minutes to climb 1.5 miles.  At this point I'm running every other switchback.

10:03 - I'm out!  I don't think I stopped the clock until I got to the lodge a few minutes later.  I originally thought I had done it in 5:05 but it turned out to be 4:50.

I really feel pretty good.  We'll see how tomorrow goes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Got home safe

What a terrific ride home.  It was really hot but I made sure I had a lot of ice water with me and I made sure that I was drinking enough that I went through a bottle every half hour.  I figured that way I would have to stop at the Super Pumper by my house and refill.  Resting and staying hydrated and holding my threshold ride to below LT I figured would work out and leave me fresh for tomorrow.

I was right, except....

As I exited the Super Pumper with my fresh ice water the wind kicked up and I got caught in a wicked dust storm.  It was blowing cars around pretty good so I was careful, and slow.  The wind was right in my face and there had to be 40 mph gusts.

The sand finally stopped blowing and then it started to rain.  It was OK, I made it home safe and happy.  Just about to leave to go up north.


Last night I didn't run but I did ride to work this morning.  Have a 23 mile ride home in this 115 furnace that we call Phoenix.

Here's the plan:  Go up to Flag tonight and get to sleep in time to bounce out of bed at 3:00 am and get moving.  I'm going to drive to the Grand Canyon hopefully in time to get on the 5:00 am bus for the South Kaibab trail.  It's 6.5 miles or so down to Phantom Ranch and then 9.5 miles back up the Bright Angel path.  Don't ask me why but that's the order everybody does this hike.  I think Bright Angel is longer but there's water on it.

Pretty much all the advice I've gotten on this sounds like, "OK, but bring plenty of water."

After I get home my buddy Don is coming up and we have to go to register for the Mountain Man Sprint Triathlon.  That goes off Sunday.  I hope I feel ok.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More about this weekend

Every single website I go to advises NOT to do the hike that I am proposing.

This weekend

I'm looking forward to training this weekend.

I'm hoping to start with a 1 hour threshold run tonight followed by a ride in to work tomorrow.  Heat advisories all over the place.  Ride home should be miserable but fun.  Friday night I'll head up to Flagstaff.

Saturday morning I'm going to hit the road about 3:00 am to get over to the Grand Canyon by 5:00 am and hike to the river and back.

Sunday I'm going to do a sprint distance triathlon in Flagstaff.  My first time at that distance.  On August 8 there's a half that I might do as well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A new pic from Alcatraz

South Mountain

I really like South Mountain in Phoenix.  It's a fun ride.  It's nowhere near as hard as Snowbowl in Flagstaff or Bartlett Lake North East of Scottsdale but it's very scenic.  When you get to the top you can see just about everything in the valley.

I had planned to ride to work today but then the dentist called and reminded me that I have an appointment today.  I was kind of disappointed until I woke up at 4:30 this morning and decided to drive down to work and ride to the mountain from work.  I got to work and realized that since it's about 7 miles to the mountain from here and it's 7 miles up the mountain that I would get a better workout if I just drove down and rode the mountain twice.

It starts with 2 miles of just a slight rise and then 2.5 miles of some tough climbing followed by a mile of downhill and then 1.5 miles up and and down but mostly up with a lung-searing 1/2 mile uphill finish.I went up the first time and just stuck my heart rate at 3.5 and never wavered much from there.  It turned out to be a very easy climb at that rate and I got up the hill reasonably fast.  I went down pretty fast. 

Evidence that South Mountain is not as hard as Snowbowl:  I can go up Snowbowl to the top in about 45 minutes and it takes about 10 to get down.  It takes about 30 to get up South Mountain and 15 to get down.

My first descent went rather well.  About 3/4 of the way down I decided that I wasn't going to touch my brakes the next time.

On the second climb I just hammered it from the start.  I red lined my heart rate almost immediately.  Every time I felt myself slow down or I noticed my HR drop a touch I'd stand and try to get a little more out of myself.  As I passed mile marker 6 my body just quit.  No bonk, I had a lot energy but I couldn't make my legs turn over.  I gave back a lot of time on that last mile.  I did manage to hit the last 1/4 to 1/2 pretty hard.

The second descent did go a lot faster although I admit that I did feather the back brake a few times.

Friday, July 09, 2010

You Wouldn't Know it From Talking to Me...

But I am actually training pretty hard right now.
It doesn't feel like it.
It feels like I'm really being a lazy bum.
Example:  I really like running.  When I'm running I am totally enjoying myself.  After I run I have a feeling of euphoria that takes hours to pass.  The problem is I just can't force myself to get out on the road in the morning.  I end up running on the treadmill at night during the week and I ran a very nice 12 miles in Flagstaff last Sunday afternoon.  I feel lazy because I can't force myself out in the morning to run.
Example:  I like riding my bike to work in the morning.  Yes, it's hot in the afternoon so the ride home kind of sucks but, again, I feel so good when I get home that it doesn't matter.  Lately I just can't make myself get out of the house in the morning to ride.  Yesterday I skipped my ride because I had a bad dream and a feeling of dread but usually it's just because I am lazy.  I did some really great intervals on Monday afternoon in Flagstaff but so far this week, nothing.
Example:  I've really gotten to where I like my swim workouts.  Yesterday I did a great hour at race pace but I skipped Tuesday and Wednesday.  I might get over to the pool today after work.  We'll see.
Tomorrow no ride because Katie is going hiking.  I might try to get out and run for an hour before she leaves and then do another hour on the treadmill and then ride on Sunday morning.
We'll see.