Thursday, November 20, 2014

TBT - November 20, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

Let's jump in the way back machine and set the dials to August 22, 1992.

Schmitty's first road race ever - The Crim 10 Miler in downtown Flint, Michigan.

I finished in something like 1:20:43. An 8:04 per mile pace. With little to no training. Ahhhh youth.

I was between my sophomore and junior years of college and was still living at home with my parents. Their home is located in a looped part of a subdivision -- .7 miles around. Occasionally I would head out late at night after school and work (but before Letterman) and I would get in three loops...and I thought I was some kind of something. A whole 2.1 miles. Sheesh, a 10 mile road race? Piece o' cake.

Occasionally I would even run holding my walkman and my summer jams mixed cassette tape.

Cassette tape.

One that I "mixed" together. Using multiple other cassette tapes.

I may have used a dual cassette recorder. But I also may have put one cassette player next to another cassette player. Pushing down the play button on one whilst also pushing down the play AND record button on the other.

Cassette. Tape.

I ran in Nike Pegasus. My first running shoe. Really my only running shoe. I have experimented with so many other running shoes over the years but I have always come back to my first love. I still wear Nike Pegasus. Go me.

And how about that race kit? With my Napoleon complex ("I am not a small!") three sizes too big for Schmitty tank top and cut off sweatpants. All cotton too. From the "whatever is in my closet" collection. You can run in it. You can go outside and mow the lawn in it. And everything in between.

Ignorance! I wish it were all still just that simple. No training plans. No coaches (except you, coach Liz). No sun block. No watch. No warm up. Nutrition? What's that? You mean, are we stopping at Taco Bell afterward? All right then sign me up.

-- HIM.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Race Report: Naperville Half Marathon 2014

Hey howdy hey. Let's see...the last time we spoke I just finished IMWI. Since then Schmitty took some time off (full stop for three weeks during which I wore out the snooze button) and took up knitting doggie tail end caps...kind of like those antenna toppers. It's an idea that was waiting to happen and I think I struck at the right time. Thinking of calling them Tail Tips (copyright The Triathlife 2014, all rights reserved). Just in time for the holidays.

But the blog is called The Triathlife not The Doggie Life....so what's next?

Schmitty has been spending the fall and early winter getting his running legs back. January 11, 2015 is circled in red on the race calendar...The Triathlife will be running the 2015 WDW Marathon. As part of our training we inserted the Naperville Half Marathon so coach Liz could assess our fitness. Glad we did. It's a new race (2nd year), it's local-ish, and it still sports a relatively small field (read: manageable). Flat. Fast. Yes a good test of how road worthy Schmitty's legs have become.

Lets review shall we.

PreRace: Sunday Morning
4am - yadda, yadda, early morning, yadda, yadda, coffee, gel, yadda, yadda, shake out run and all that pre-race stuff. Said goodbye to one very sleepy doggie then hitched up the horses and we were off to Naperville at 5am. Sleep on race morning is sooo over-rated. Team Schmitty arrived before the barricades and we scored free parking at the Naperville Library just a few block walk across the river to Naperville Central High School. No lines at the protapots and they opened the gym as a warming center in the wee hours of the AM. Score.

The one thing I did enjoy about this race is that everything was centrally located and easy -- the warming center, port-a-potties, gear check and race start...all in one general area. You can do that if you're not running with 45,000 people (looking right at you Chicago Marathon).

Like I mentioned, the Naperville Marathon and Half-Marathon is in it's second year. It's growing and it seems like the race organizers want it to expand rapidly. So I fear this really cool local/community race vibe may soon be trampled by tens of thousands of running shoes (sigh).

Game On
Mayor of Naperville?
  • Prior to the gun, the running folk gathered and were gregariously greeted by the mayor - WELLLLCOMMMME TO NAAAAPERVILLLLLE! Now, I couldn't see the man but if the resonance of his vocal timbre were any clue (not to mention a pre-race speech punctuated with every mayorism imaginable), I pictured him as the very caricature of a mayor. You know...the top hat, the tails, the spats...the big MAYOR sash. Remember Mayor McCheese? Yeah, that. I suspect that Mr. Mayor also finds himself in the last float during the Naperville Christmas parade...all clad in the red suit.
  • The plan was to "warm up" the first two miles and then start to gradually nail it back. Since this is both a half and full marathon there were pace groups for the latter. I decided to use the 3:15 marathon pace group as my barometer...staying just off the back until I felt like it was go time.
  • Ran into Matt Halpin from the Salt Creek Tri-Club within the first two miles. If I'm honest I only noticed him because he almost spit on me. I believe his words were "at least I almost spit on someone I actually knew." Well sure...I suppose so. Saw Matt again after the race. Since we both hit our goal times I wanted to give him a Triathlife salute - SAAAA-LUTE.
  • To the dude I passed at mile five with the gravity stricken shorts. Either your waist band isn't rated for 5 pounds of gels or you seriously need to replace that draw string.  Regardless, plumber butt has no place in an orderly society, let alone a road race. I would thank you to rethink your running trouser strategy before your next race -- Schmitty.
    Cookies!
  • Mile 6 I FINALLY passed Cookie Monster. Schmitty was not going to get beat by a guy in a big Cookie Monster head/hat thing. He must have been a teacher or coach or maybe just a lovable local celebrity (Naperville public access TV weatherman?)....anyway...lots of kids on the side of the road very entertained by seeing Mr so and so. Plenty of pics being uploaded to the Snapgram or the Instachat or whatever the kids use nowadays.
  • Mile 12 spectator dude grilling bacon at the side of the road. Hmmmmm bacon.
  • Runner know thyself. I told Jen I thought I was in 1:35 shape and well, yes...1:35:26. Good foundation but lots of work to do in the next two months if I really want to attack the marathon.
Post Race:
Got my bag out of gear check and was able to get myself into some warm, dry clothes. Skipped the post race goodies to hit the finish to see Jen come in. I positioned myself on a bank so I could see down to the finish and still be close to the finishing shoot for after Jen crossing the line. Jen has been working incredibly hard to finally secure that elusive sub 2 hour marker for the half. I was keeping a close eye on the "real time" clock as it edged over 2 hours...fingers crossed not knowing how far after the gun that Jen crossed the start. Then I saw her. Then she crossed the line. Then the double fist pump. Sweet fancy moses, she got it :) GO JEN GO!

Outside of some crazy post race gear check issues after Jen finished (see below), I'd have to give this race The Triathlife seal of approval. It's still got a localish feel to it, the Napervillians came out in droves to cheer (a lot of running through subdivisions), the time of year is seemingly almost perfect and the race organizers seem intent on putting on the best race they possibly can.

Case in point:

This race has a great social media presence. They communicate a lot...but not just AT users...they really are intent on creating dialogue and are serious about the feedback they receive. They strike just the right tone with their communications...I don't know who that person or team is...but having been in and around the comms game for a very long time I have to give them kudos. For example...there were some major issues post race that overwhelmed gear check as the masses rolled in. This was the race response on Facebook.




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Race Report: IMWI 2014

(apologies for the following novel...writing mostly for myself so I can review later and because it's my blog and you're not the boss of me). 

Ironman Wisconsin 2014: Schmitty Strikes Back

Ironman Wisconsin 2012 will forever be my Favorite. Race. Ever. It my first Ironman and I crossed the line hand in hand with Jen. Epic Team Schmitty goodness all around. "Ironcouple" indeed. But last year when I decided to do Ironman Wisconsin again, I did so with a bit of vengeance in mind.

With Jen taking another year off from Ironman,  I was free to train how I wanted...to decide when I needed to go up to Madison to ride the course....when to go downtown to swim....when I needed to spend a few more minutes (or 10 or 20 or 30) at the pool in the morning (Jen waiting patiently in the gym lobby on so many early mornings). To her unconditional Ironspouse loving credit, Jen pretty much gave me a hall pass to train the way I felt I needed.

So this was to be my year of redemption...to see what the wee man could do with the glacier carved hilly farmland of central Wisconsin.

Pre-Race: Thursday
Left mid afternoon arriving in time for dinner. The Great Dane for cow meat (when in Wisconsin...). And just like 2012, the Packers were playing the NFL Thursday night season kick off game. Oh and we stayed again at the Best Western Inn On The Park. Sure the four night minimum is a lot of Benjamins but it's walking minutes from everything all weekend. Put the money on the barrelhead, walk away and don't think about it. Paying for the peace of mind.

Pre-Race: Friday
Morning:
Up early...keeping my body used to early wake ups....no sleeping in. Jen went out for her run and I ate in the room and walked myself to registration around 8:15am. First in line (winning!). Part of registration is the weigh in...weird but I realize this is the baseline used in case you rock the med tent come Sunday. Not going to tell ya'll what the scale read but got a judgmental gasp from dude writing it down. Well buddy I have chunks of guys like you in my stool after spinning up Old Sauk Pass, Timber, and Mid Town. Punk. Oh and props to the IM peoples on the race goodies this year. The back pack is very swagadelic.

Afternoon:
We went shopping for clutch bags on State Street. I'm looking right at you. Team Schmitty needed a clutch bag so Team Schmitty is getting a clutch bag. Team Schmitty got a clutch bag. Plus we found a new place for Saturday morning's pre-ironman carb load. Win, win.

Evening:
No athlete dinner this year. Schmitty made certain efforts to minimize time dealing with all pre Iron craziness. So the Ironspouse of Awesome found us a place to dine out like one of the locals -- "Jacs Dining and Taphouse" Just a couple miles away from Camp Randall. Location, food, bar? Outstanding. Service? Terrible. But this is The Triathlife not Yelp so I'll leave it at that.

Pre-race: Saturday
Morning:
Early morning workout with a 20 minute swim and a 25 minute bike. With everything sorted and working properly, I packed my transition bags and we headed over to Short Stack Eats on State Street. A steady stream of patronage (game day, and hungover tired from studying all night students) but they turn tables over quickly. Short Stack is open Thursday starting at 7am until Sunday at 11pm...yes the ENTIRE time. And all they serve is breakfast - brilliant. Next time Schmitty is in Madison I want to go to there.

Afternoon: 
Bike and bags to transition. Really nothing to it. Just like 2012 I was fortunate to be given the end spot on the rack. Not a huge deal since the volunteers get your bike for you but it sure makes it easy to pump tires and sort your nutrition in the dark at 5am on Sunday morning.

Evening:
To Chipotle! Where we met up with the Ironman Party Patrol (Anne/Matt Baker, Megan/Kevin Chandler, Jeff Holmquist). Made our way back up State Street to a bar to make merry and watch some football. Schmitty had half a glass of some bavarian elixir to calm his nerves then politely excused himself for early wrapper time. I settled in with The Grand Budapest Hotel on my iPad (Bravo! Wes Anderson). Despite the terrible band playing at the bar across the street I was able to get a pretty solid 5 hours of sleep ;)

Sunday: Game On!
Up at 3:40am for a quick shake out run around the Capitol Square then coffee, oatmeal and saltsticks back up in the room. Out the door at 5:15am to drop off the one bike special needs bag and then to body marking, tire pumping and port-a-potty line standing. I met Jen down on the helix where she had secured a spot waiting for the Party Patrol to arrive. She was stalling me a bit but I wasn't in that much of a hurry to get down to the water. Then round the corner they came...a pack of North Carolina blue shirts -- "Schmitty Strikes Back" over a picture of the Millennium Falcon. Ironman meets geek couture! Lots of hugs, high fives and pictures. Waited a bit longer for my brother Joe to arrive but it was getting close to game time so I had to leave to go down to the water where I ran into Dave Clough...nice to have someone to hang out with while they cattle corralled us into the water. IMoo indeed.
Party Patrol
SWIM -- 1:14:08 | 3862 meters | 1:55/100 meters
  • Positioned myself right along the buoy line but back off the start line...ended up floating to the front after jockeying for position. Not really the place where I wanted to be. I started fast due to the pack I was in and held feet for the first 150-200 meters. 
  • Slowed to get into my rhythm but was completely over taken and quickly received a couple of kicks to the head and got rolled over twice...which set into motion a full blown panic attack.
  • Too many bodies and I was in full freak out - total spaz attack. 8 years in this sport and I have never gone for a kayak or a lifeguard. 
  • Spotted a raft about 20 meters to my left inside the buoy line. In full blown survival mode I did whatever it took to get me there -- mowing over more than a handful of swimmers in the process.  Lifeguard assured me I was good and that he was anchored. 
  • Not sure how long I hung out but seriously thought my day was over. Thankful for the Jedi Obi Wan voice in my head..."you have to let go and get your face in the water" I closed my eyes, took some long slow breaths, hit the reset and off I went. 
  • Inside the buoy line at this point and remained there since it was the cleanest water. I was able to "get normal" over the next 200-250 meters. 
  • At the first turn some dude shouted "it looks like we're swimming to heaven" and it did. Sighting was impossible heading right into the sun but he perfectly described the scene. 
  • The back side of the course feels so long....especially because you swim past the finish the make a sharp left and angle back to shore. And you can hear Mike Reilly announcing the pros and first wave of age group finishers as you pass and well before you're finished. But once you round that last turn it's a drag race. 
  • Even with my freak out I still finished a full minute and forty-five seconds faster than in 2012. Wonder what might have been.  
T1 -- 13:26
Nothing to say. This is a long transition (including the run out of the water and up the helix) and I was a minute faster than last time. Included a trip to the bathroom and a turn back to retrieve forgotten gloves under my chair. Other than my tri-shorts (which I wore on the swim under my wetsuit) I opted for a full cycling kit...just like in training. Seeing if being in more of a cyclist frame of mind translated to a better bike split.

BIKE -- 6:19:51 | 112 miles | 17.7 Mi/hr
  • Beautiful day to be on the bike. Cool in the AM and in the 70s by the afternoon with a WSW wind at 4-5mph. Fresh legs. Optimal Schmitty conditions. 
  • The first loop - text book as far as plan execution. Almost party like. I made quick work of the three dreaded sisters (hills at Old Sauk, Timber and Mid-Town). Doing a lot of passing up the hills (excuse me, excuse me, pardon me, coming through...). 
  • Saw the Party Patrol out on Timber :)
  • Second loop was all business. Stomach started rejecting nutrition around hour 5 but I kept on my saltsticks and continued to down a lot of fluid and really didn't lose any power. 
  • The parties and spectating seems to have grown in volume and has spread out more along the course as opposed to being isolated to the areas around Verona. Seeing more locals too. Maybe it was the weather. 
  • The creepy-ass field clown was out again before Mid-Town. Literally - a dude dresses up in a clown suit and honks at you from the corn field. 
  • My bike computer actually read 6:14:50. I refuse to pee on the bike so two potty stops (one stop included refilling bottles) and a short pause at bike special needs. 
  • It was a solid effort and I felt I left myself with fresh enough legs for the run. 
T1 -- 13:27
Um. Wow. Not sure what I was doing. I stopped at the water table, I changed out of everything but my shorts. I stopped to load my Fuel Belt bottles on the way out. I stopped at the portapotty. I didn't think I was waisting time. I guess I just need to do what I did faster. This should really be like 5 minutes tops.

RUN -- 4:53:35 | 26.2 miles | 11:12/Mi
  • Got a full blown Party Patrol welcome on the exit from transition. I saw that I was at exactly 8:00:00 into the race. I was pumped to see everyone and my stretch goal of a sub 12 was in reach. 
  • Policeman just outside the capitol square around Mile 1 was posting and updating NFL scores on a whiteboard next to his squad car. Nice. 
  • First couple hours went pretty well but hit the half way point 10 minutes slower than expected and my stomach started a slow decent into the uneasy queazies. 
  • The Party Patrol was all over the course. Total rock stars. But Jen wouldn't let me stop -- not for even a second. I have video evidence posted to my FB page from late in the first loop on west State Street. Everyone is all "yay!" and Jen is all "get going!" But she knew I wanted that sub 12 and she was trying to keep me on task. That's why she's Ironspouse of Awesomeness.
  • After the second hour I totally bailed on my on-board nutrition. It wasn't going down. The iron foggies (head) started coming on and my stomach had just about had it....I was continuing to take on fluids while at the same time trying to settle my gut...all on the fly. Instituted the old walk/run strategy so my splits were all over the place. When I was running I was about an 8:30 pace without feeling anywhere near the limit -- so my legs were really good but my insides were just having none of it. 
  • Pepsi seemed to work ok for me along the way and I was still drinking a lot of water and pumping the salt sticks. Nothing else I tried worked. At every aid station it was some combination of Pepsi water, ice and salt sticks....that was it. 
  • When I finally got to Jen on the second loop on west State Street I needed to stop for a second and I needed her permission to take it easy. I needed her to tell me it was ok if I shut it down. I can't remember what she said or what anyone else said for that matter. She let me pause and made sure I was ok and then sent me on again. But as soon as I walked away I was attacked on course by "The Schmizer" -- dude pounced on me like an over caffeinated Tony Robbins. Scott "ran" with me up to the turn and back down the street. It got me out of my head for a bit. Still laughing about it now. Don't ever change Scott :) Glad someone caught it on camera.
FINISH -- 12:54:27An hour and forty-two minute improvement over 2012. 
  • A minute and forty-five second swim PR
  • 50 minute bike PR
  • 43 minute run PR. 
  • I even PR'd the transitions -- slow as they were if you can believe that. 
Schmitty Strikes Back? Maybe. My good, better, best goals were in reverse order -- sub-12 hrs, 12:30:00 and then anything that started with a 12 in it. So I achieved my baseline goal. And I did it by ticking off all the little goals I set for myself during the day. Building blocks for the future I suppose.  

Looking back I shut the run down too soon. I got nervous with everything happening to my gut and my head I went into hyper preservation mode -- especially the last 10k. In the days that have followed I have gotten infected with a bad case of the coulda, woulda, shouldas -- I really think I still could've preserved a 12:30:00. Bugger. 

While watching the live feed online my Dad said I looked upset when I finished. I told him that I didn't recall feeling upset...it was more a feeling of relief. In the finishing straight when my name was called I remember giving a double fist pump and I looked down at the carpet and I could see the IRONMAN logo across the finish. I remember gesturing down to that with a singular thought -- "finally." And not the kind of finally with regards to the day....the kind of absolute "finally" like hitting a release valve after 10 months of built up pressure. And all I wanted in that moment was a slice of pizza and a sprite.
And...I'm...spent.
To bottom line the day -- I had fun. I smiled a lot. I thanked and talked with volunteers. I had the Party Patrol (Jen, Anne, Matt, Megan, Kevin, Jeff and my brother Joe - you guys are the best!!!). I got cheered on by Chris and Laura. I was attacked by Scott Schmieser. I saw Coach Keith and I heard Coach Liz. I passed and was passed by Dave Clough. I caught a glimpse of Jeremy Topin.

That, my friends, was a great game.
Attack of The Schmize (l) and with my brother Joe afterward (r)
Finally to my Ironspouse of Awesomeness...you know that I am absolutely bat-shit crazy for you and not to sound trite but -- thanks. You stepped aside and let me do what I needed to do and stepped in when I needed you most. We are, Team Schmitty.