Monday, November 28, 2011

In the beginning

One of my friends asked me how I got into triathlon and it got me thinking. So here it is...

I was a late bloomer of the latest degree. In fact, at 26 I am just now figuring out exactly how to shave and I get carded like I'm Justin Bieber begging for margaritas at an Applebees. My golden years of athletics were elementary school. But damn, they were good. I was dominant at soccer, the mile run, and just about everything you could imagine... I was like the Michael Jordan of North Creek Elementary. But it couldn't last. The testosterone of an 8 year old can't compete in modern high schools and I was left in the dust. But I simply couldn't let sports go. I bounced around from tennis, to golf, to soccer, searching for dominance but the well had run dry. I was pissed and turned to candy as my escape from my sporting woes. I ate more candy than you could possibly imagine. I regularly scarred my taste buds with the strongest candies. Altoids and warheads were consumed by the gross. 20 dollars worth of candy in one sitting was a Saturday morning routine. Turns out I have an addictive personality. Chubbiness soon followed. Meanwhile, my little sister was completely ruining the state at cross country. She was a scrawny little baby and was making everyone look stupid at these races. She was also getting faster than me...
As any prideful big brother would do, I took up running. I ran in the dark because I was completely ashamed of both my blubber and my waddling speed. Seriously. I kept running at night and soon I was enjoying it. I ran for two years and still sucked at soccer, but I was starting to do ok at the practices where we ran.
I decided to forget about soccer and see if my sister's mojo would rub off on me. I joined to cross team. I got so excited and I was running pretty well in the summer. I put in a huge running summer for me and totaled 500 miles in something like 2.5 months which was astronomical compared with my usual running.
I ran well in one meet and then overtrained myself and was completely mediocre. But I had gotten just slightly faster than my sister and I had found something that I liked.
Then came the fateful day. My friend Jessie and I were sitting at her computer talking about Michigan State and surfing around on the internet. She found this thing called triathlon and taunted me saying, "I bet you can't do this". Bullshit. I would at least try.
I figured it would at least be a good way of meeting people and so I went to the first practice of the MSU triathlon club. It was then that I discovered I could ride a bike pretty well and I hit puberty. The perfect storm. I had found my sport.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Big Day

Caitlin ran her first half marathon and here's the tale!

She has been training for around 4 months for this and pushing her mileage up slowly to the point where the next logical long run would be 13.1 miles. On Friday, we headed up to Santa Barbara to register and crash at a hotel. We got her checked in and ready to go. I saw a bucket of sample lara bars and took roughly 50 of them for later indulgence. Then we headed to get a massive meal of barbecue turkey and brisket. Food coma ensued which made our musty motel 6 room much more appealing.
Race day came and it was clear, comfortable, but windy as hell. No worries. We headed to the start and Cait prepped her Ipod with Dave Ramsey podcasts of all things...

Who the hell listens to financial podcasts as motivation in a race?
The race blasted off and Cait got rolling. She was super nervous so the plan was to cruise through mile four imagining it was a training run. I was biking on my Quintana Roo which would help me play sag wagon/ race support for the day. I saw her at the mile and she was comfortable and smiley. Good sign. I took off to catch her at another point and promptly got lost. My race issued fisher price map was of absolutely no help as it just showed toilet icons and water icons instead of useful things like street intersections. Dumb.
I found an overpass around mile three and waited but she didn't pass by. I missed her so hopped on the bike path and missed her again at another point. The marathon and half marathon had merged so it was impossible to gauge the pace of the runners. 6-8 thousand people or whatever made it like a horrible game of where's waldo. I took off again and rode on the course ignoring chastising comments from race officials and police officers alike. Just as I saw the lead men for the marathon hauling ass up a hill, I found Caitlin. She was at mile 6 and blasting financial podcasts. It was hard to get her attention but she looked good, relaxed, and still smiling which was a good sign.

I biked with her for a bit and then she got annoyed with my hovering and sent me up the road. I proceeded to become a human mile marker and cheer for about a mile's worth of runners while waiting for Cait. The course was tough with wind and some massive uphills, but there was live music on the side of the road at around 5 different spots which was distracting and pretty cool.

Cait was clipping off the miles and I saw her at mile 10 which was the toughest part of the course. It was a half mile long climb at about 8-10% gradient. If that doesn't mean anything to you, just imagine something you don't want to run up. Cait and I had talked about this point in the course as basically the end as it was all downhill from that point. She tore into the hill just chewing it up and staying relaxed. She really made it look easy while all around her, people were crumbling.
Good illustration of pink lady running with marshmallow form and Cait looking like Craig Alexander. Mercenary.

She crested it and rolled down the huge slope to the finish line and even had enough to out kick a college age guy with 200m to go. It was hilarious. Cait actually has ridiculous footspeed to the point where when she is kicking it pushes me to stay with her. I have seen her finish a run at 5:20 pace up hill! She unleashed her patented kick and this guy foolishly tried to counter. He was shown a clean pair of pink nike heels as Caitlin finished her first half marathon in a time 6 minutes faster than expected! Awesome.

She also earned one of the largest blood blisters in history for her efforts. Look away if you are a cry baby and the human body makes you tremble with fear like a coward.
BOOM goes the dynamite

Friday, November 4, 2011

American verification

So my last update included a 400's workout in which I, in theory, ran much faster than ever before. Suspiciously faster. Usually my absolute fastest 400's are around 69 seconds. In that workout, I hit 63 seconds for a 400. I felt great but 6 seconds doesn't just come off like that so naturally my first thought was to blame the track for being inaccurate. It was a dirt track with no lanes so I thought maybe it wasn't quite up to snuff.
Naturally, I couldn't leave it alone so I promptly set off to confirm the accuracy at a trustworthy American track. I had some 1 minute fartleks scheduled so I changed the route to end at a track and had some of the intervals changed to 400's just to check. I hit 66, 66, 65, 63! I was wrong to doubt the Finnish track. It was bigoted of me to think that 400m is somehow less in Finland and for that I am deeply sorry... but I had to be sure.
I am so pumped with that speed. Cutting 6 seconds in a 400 over one season really is getting me geeked.
And with that, I am definitely in for the Ironman in December!