Monday, July 29, 2013

7 Mile Hill Road - The Gorge

Anniversary present from Robin.  Cannondale Slice.

It was a nice clear day (Saturday July 27, 2013) and we headed out to Hood River in the Gorge.  Robin took her Mom to see their old house and around the “Fruit Loop” farms for a day out and about.  They dropped me off in the middle of town in Hood River.  David was gracious enough to give me a route to ride on my new Cannondale Slice.  

I should have known that any ride he gives me has hills in them.  This one wasn't any different and actually wasn't too bad, just a 7 mile long hill with about an average 5% grade.  Not to mention a 20+ mph headwind to boot.  Along with crosswinds that were in the 30+mph range.  This made for an interesting and stimulating downhill ride.  However, with the heat, and wind, I figured it might be some good training for Arizona.  Also, gave me a feel for how the Slice would handle in windy situations.

7 Mile Hill Road ride profile

I was impressed with the bikes stability.  I, on the other hand, got a bit nervous, first time on a bike in a long time, in the crosswinds speeding downhill.  I ended getting off the aero bars and back on the handlebars a few times to ensure my safety with traffic speeding by.  I stopped along the way to snap a few photos as it was one of those picture perfect days.  I also managed to come across a few riders with numbers on their back.  When I asked if there was a race going on, I found that the 100 mile Gorge Ride was going on at the same time.  Part of my route intersected with theirs a few times which was nice.

Looking out over the canyon with Mt. Adams peaking over the horizon.

The Columbia River.  I-84 down below.

Heading up 7 mile hill road on the TT bike was a bit of a challenge.  Not very fast, just slow and steady.  About a mile and a half from the summit was a rest stop for the Gorge Riders.  I stopped and asked if I could fill up my water bottles.  Not a problem.  They also offered me bananas and watermelon.  I was about 30 miles into my ride and they were at the 80 mile mark for theirs.  What a tough climb to be doing that far into a century ride. WHEW!!!!  I do appreciate the refueling, Thanks folks!

I got back into town, found the car, gave Robin a call.  After we loaded everything up, we went for pizza down the street.  I found out from one of the locals that it was the windiest day of the year.  Figures!!!!

Anyway, it was a blast and a nice workout.  The new bike was great.  Can't wait to get it out on some straightaways to see how it handles.  I have a set of FLO wheels coming (I was lucky enough to get in on pre-order #7, that I will put a set of Continental GP 4000S's on them and slap those on the Slice.  Can't wait!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Longish ride on TT bike

I've done a couple of long rides on my road bike, but not on my TT bike yet.  So, I did a pretty flat 75 miles today on the TT bike.  The goal was to average 20 mph, and I was on track for 70 miles.  But, I really got worn out and dipped under that at the end.   That shouldn't have been that hard for me, so I don't know if I screwed up nutrition or water (I did run out of my one bottle pretty early!), or just am still lacking that fitness.   I have that Challenge Penticton bike leg coming up so hopefully I can improve over the next several weeks.   Already getting tired of my TT bike, though.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Another Thursday night practice swim

John couldn't make this one, but I REALLY need to start swimming more so I decided to go anyway.  It took me an hour and 20 minutes to get there in rush hour traffic.  And, I swam for 27 minutes.  :)   That was only .77 miles, which is officially my longest swim in a year.  No laughing.
I clearly have a lot of work to do, but I'm also pretty happy that I can swim along at my own slow pace without too much effort.  I think I could get through an IM swim right now, though it would definitely wear me out.   I can't make the next 2 weeks, so I might actually venture in to a pool somewhere.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens, Washington

"Secret Aaaaagent Man" 

What a beautiful morning it was as we approached the lake.  The fog hovering over the surface, the water was warm and the air temps were mild and cool.  With the water being so clear, I could see the rowing cable that rests about 10 feet below the surface.  This gave me a nice line to follow and allowed me to settle into my pace quicker.  However, I missed the turn and kept swimming toward the center of the lake.  One of the kayaks stopped me and asked where I was going.  I laughed, turned around and swam back to the buoys and followed the same line back to the ramp.  It only added a few minutes to my time.  I was feeling really good all the way back to the boat ramp where we exited and quickly headed to the transition area.  My bike was racked right next to a porta-potty which was very handy before and after the bike leg.

I grabbed a little nutrition and headed out on the bike.  I was looking for a bike split of no more than 3:30:00.  I finished in 3:33:14.  Lots of hills with about a 4,000 foot elevation gain over the 56 miles.  Nothing but hills and steep ones at that. Very tight turns on some of the downhill treks made for a nice challenging and technical course. Some folks were actually walking their bikes up a couple of the really steep hills.  I am glad I left my climbing wheel on my bike.  It really helped on a couple of the short steep climbs.  I managed to hit 47 mph on one of the downhill portions.  It was AWESOME!!!!  However, I got hit by a wasp at around 35 mph.  Landed in the bend of my arm and stung me about 4-5 times before I could actually take my other hand off the aero-bar and very quickly swat it away.

I think this was the only flat spot on the course..... except for the swim.

The run was another series of hills.  Crazy!!!!!  But I found a nice pace and just kept going, hitting all the water stations, taking in Gatorade and water as I had planned while running through them.  No stopping until after crossing the finish line was the mantra I kept saying to myself. I crossed the finish line and was done.  My run was great, finishing better than predicted.  It was the 3rd fastest 1/2 marathon time for me this year.  And the other two were on fresh legs, standalone and on a flat course.  So I was extremely happy.  

I predicted an overall finishing time of 7 hours.  My finish time was 6:54:24, just under 7 hours. Created the plan, executed the plan, and followed through to the end.  It worked better than I could have ever imagined.  It was a very beautiful course and the folks of Lake Stevens were the greatest supporters.  All out in force cheering everyone on as we went by, calling out our name and telling everyone what a great job they were doing.  The hospitality of the town and it's residents was absolutely wonderful.

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!!!!

I had two things to celebrate that day, my first 70.3 Ironman finish and my 12th wedding anniversary.  I was able to share both with my lovely wife, Robin, who managed to get some great photos throughout the course of the day.  She’s the absolute greatest!!!

Up next, Challenge Penticton Iron-distance relay, swim leg.  Bring it on!

By the way, my wife got me a nice anniversary gift.  A new Cannondale Slice.  I'll be anxious to get it out on the road soon.  I'll give you a full report soon.


24 hour relay

While John was up north at Lake Stevens, I stayed behind and did a local 24 hour running relay on a work team.  It was actually a lot of fun.  They had fireworks, a big bonfire, music all night long, roller derby, a huge slip-and-slide, etc.  The laps were 4 miles long and we had an 8 member team.  I still ended up running 7 legs for a total of 28 miles.  The goal was to keep them all under 30 minutes and I succeeded with that so it felt like a pretty good workout.  I suffered more with the sleep deprivation than I did with the actual running.    However, that took a little more out of me than I expected.  Recovery has been slow.   Maybe I'm just getting old.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Open Water Swim #2

Last night's Open Water swim was much nicer than last weeks.  Or I am getting my proverbial sea legs back.  Open Water swimming is so much more different than pool swimming, especially the breathing.  At least for me it is.  I find I have to adjust my breathing technique a bit and LEARN to sight better.  I still must look like a salmon swimming up stream or a sailboat tacking up river.  I am probably the only person out there that can turn a 1 mile swim into 2 or 3.  Must be from my sailboat racing days.  :-)

It was another good turnout and the folks at Zing3 Endurance Training are the best.  They really help folks out, everything from zipping up your wetsuit to giving direction and confidence building for first timers in open water.  I feel much better about this weekends swim now.  Last night's session allowed me to get my open water rhythm back.

I have been feeling a little down since last week's open water swim.  This is week 11 of my training plan and a lower volume week (4th week in a 4 week Build Phase block).  I have been pushing it the last three weeks and this dropping the volume is a hard thing to do.  It's also been hard trying to get the needed rest to absorb the last three weeks efforts.  I feel a lot better today.  I am packed and ready to head out tonight.  We decided to head up to Lake Stevens tonight instead of Saturday morning.  Hopefully this will allow me the opportunity to do all the check-in after a good nights sleep instead of rushing on Saturday.

Here we go.  First 1/2 Ironman............

"Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will."
Mahatma Gandhi


Friday, July 12, 2013

Practice Tri at Hagg Lake

Our first practice Tri of the year at the local, somewhat local, lake was a blast.  It is primarily for folks wanting to experience or see what all is involved in a triathlon without the high cost, all the training, and long distances.  It is also for some of us that want to clear out the cobwebs from our time off and early training regimen for the new season.

Athlete's Lounge hosted this great event and there was quite a turnout.  I believe somewhere in the 80+ participant range.  The swim was a 300 yard out and back.  The water was warm enough to actually complete the swim without a wetsuit.  But also great experience for those not use to a wetsuit.  The mass start was its usual craziness.  I started out great then peeled off out of the crowd and took the long way around the course.  One of those days I wasn't into the climbing, kicking, elbowing, etc. so I took it easy and enjoyed myself.

The bike was a nice 10 mile trek around the lake.  It was in the early evening so most of the road was in the shade which made it very pleasant.  Some nice hills on the course and you saw every kind of bike from Mountain Bikes, to Road Bikes, to Daily Commuters and even some really nice TT bikes.

The run was a 2 mile out and back mostly through the woods on trails up and down and very narrow in places, which made it interesting when passing in either direction.  I haven't done much trail running this past year so with the unevenness and darkness of being in the woods allowed me the opportunity to roll my ankle.  Nothing drastic, but a moment of sheer panic with IM Lake Stevens just around the corner.

Once across the finish line, we headed directly to the buffet line where burgers and assorted condiments were served along with lots of door prizes and free stuff to be had by all.  Athlete's Lounge puts on such great events and really does a great job promoting the sport.

It was a fun time for all participants and I was glad I could participate.  A nice way to spend an evening after a crazy day at work.  The next day's event was the first Open Water Swim practice through, yes, Athlete's Lounge.  It is a great opportunity that is offered every Thursday night starting in early July, in preparation for the Portland Triathlon in September.  I always try to get down there after work, throw on the wetsuit and get a few laps in, to the bridge and back.

IM Lake Stevens is this Sunday and I am anxiously looking forward to it.  This will be my first official IM of any kind.  Tell you all about it when I get back.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Practice Tri #1 in the books

John and I went out to Hagg Lake for a "practice" tri last night.  Athlete's Lounge does such a great job with these!  It is really low-key, and they cater to the true beginner.   And the swim is only 300yds, which is the real reason I like it.
For my first swim of any kind in over a year, I was just hoping to survive.  It was just a busy mess out there and 5 minutes later I was back on shore.   I guess I probably was right in the middle when starting out on the bike.   The bike went fine.  It was only the 3rd time riding my TT bike with the new cockpit and drivetrain.  I lost my chain once and over the last few miles I had to hold my lever in place to keep it in the large chainring.  Didn't cost me much time though.  Cycling is my strong sport, so I ended up passing all but 2 people.  I would have caught the 2nd guy in another quarter mile.  The first guy was so far ahead I never even saw him.
I came out of transition in 2nd, but was passed right away by one guy.   One other guy passed me just before the turnaround.  So, I got 4th overall.  5th was several minutes back.   Good times!  I hope I can do another one next month.
Hopefully John will post his race recap as well.

Monday, July 8, 2013

John's Weeks 8 & 9

Okay, it’s been too long since my last post.  As usual, life steps in and eats up a good portion of any free time you have between home and training.  The past couple of weeks have been great.  Week 8 produced just over 120 miles on the bike with one ride at 75 miles (longest ride I have done so far).  And all of them were indoors on my Rock and Roller.  Crazy!!!!!  My wife is a great support team.  She kept my water bottles topped off, changed out DVD’s (Spinerval Kona) and even gave me a dry shirt at mile 55.

My swims are going great averaging about 5 to 6 miles a week now.  I am working on trying to get my pace down around 1:45/100.  My last 4000 yard swim I averaged around 1:50/100, getting closer, but still a long way to go. 

The 4th of July weekend was really nice with cool early morning temps warming later in the day.  So getting outside early and putting in some miles on the bike and running was really nice.  This past weekend I capitalized on this nice weather pattern and hit the water early in the morning on Friday.  Got in a nice 3,600 yard swim, headed home from the pool, hopped on my bike and went for a nice ride.  Put in 40 miles before heading back home and a quick off the bike 2 mile brick run before the temps started climbing.  It was a very nice morning of training.

40 mile ride.  Tried simulating a part of Lake Stevens a bit.

I found a street not far from my place that had a nice short hill, perfect for some hill repeats, and a nice 2 mile warmup run getting to them as well.  I added a few laps to my run yesterday to try them out, as hills are my weakest part of both running and riding.  Lake Stevens ½ Ironman is in a couple of weeks and is a somewhat hilly course.   I will be anxious to see how I do.   My running has improved.  The early focused training for the Eugene Marathon this year I think really helped.  Not to mention, I am down 16 pounds since the start of my program.  And the Hoka One One Bondi B 2's I picked up have been great!!

Hilly LSD 14 mile run with 1,362 ft elevation gain

This week has a mini tri at Hagg Lake on Wednesday evening (300 yd swim, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run), should be fast and fun (David is also participating).  Then the Thursday night Open Water swims start at Cathedral Park through the end of September or the week of the Portland Triathlon.   I did these weekly swims last year and they were a lot of fun and great open water experience.  Also, it is on the course for the Portland Triathlon, so if you are participating in the Portland Tri, which I highly recommend, as Athlete’s Lounge puts on a fantastic event, then this is an awesome opportunity.  Depending on the crowd that shows up, they sometimes will emulate a mass swim start for those that want to participate.  Otherwise, you head out from the boat ramp, turn and swim along the shoreline to the St. John’s Bridge and back.  It’s about 500 yards each way.  They have kayakers on the swim course to help you if needed and keep you from veering off course and into the main part of the river and boat traffic.  It is also a great opportunity to meet some new training partners.

This should be a fun week for training with the mini tri on Wednesday night and the open water swimming on Thursday night. I'll definitely get some swimming in this week.  I have to make sure I get a lot of riding in also this week.  I should get a 60+ mile bike ride in as well.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hagg Lake Duathlon

I hadn't done any multi-sport races in over a year, so I thought it was time to get busy.  I haven't been swimming at all so I entered the duathlon at Hagg Lake.  It was a 5K run, 40K bike, 5K run.  If you know Hagg lake, then you know it is a tough course.  
I have been working on my TT bike and didn't get it done in time, so I had to use my road bike.  And, I can't even use TT bars on my road bike so I went totally old-school and just rode a standard road bike.   
There were only 34 racers in the duathlon.   Most of the fast guys obviously do the triathlon.  I ended up 4th overall, and 3rd in my age group.  The top 5 guys were over 40, and 6th place was 15!

4. David Hopper 43 M 1:54:51 3 0:20:40 6 1:35 1:08:07 3 1:15 4 0:23:14 8 

I last did this duathlon in 2010, and did a 1:59 and change, so I was over 4 minutes faster this year, mostly due to not falling apart on the 2nd run. Super happy with that! And, my bike split would have been 8th best in the triathlon out of 156 racers. I bet nobody on a road bike was faster!
I got a nice bronze medal for my efforts:

After the race, I had to wait around for quite awhile for the awards ceremony, so I went for a swim.  Wow, that was an eye-opener.  I swam out maybe 100yds and my arms were already in pain!  Then, I got super dizzy and for awhile started wondering if I could make it back to shore.   I had to slowly breast-stroke it back in.   Hmmm.  I think I better get serious about this swimming stuff.  That was crazy.