June 25, 2011

Photo Friday?

What do I call Photo Friday if I post it on Saturday, and it's not a photo but a video?

Short video clip of me made by Patrick when we were training for MR340.  The weekend before the river was closed to recreational navigation.

June 22, 2011

Goomna Adventure Race 2011

Once again the Goomna Adventure race came on with a bang, of course it was from thunder, lightning and pouring rain with just a few tornado warnings on top of it all. This being Goomna race day, I should have been prepared, out of the six times I have competed in this race, five of them were in these exact conditions. I quickly packed the adventure van and headed out of the driveway, stopping at the end of the driveway for a quick picture of the weather conditions.

I quickly made it to Korte Recreation Center in Highland where the start/finish would be.

I pulled the adventure van into a parking sport, Patrick pulled the adventure truck in and we had a quick chat with Mark Rosen the race director about a delay in the start of the race. All the while the thunder and lightning continued. Chuck pulled up next and we quickly unloaded and started setting up camp.

We hung around under the tent waiting for the weather to pass.

Mark called all the teams into the Rec center to pick up maps and give out pre-race instructions. Plus it gave us a chance to hit the bathroom another time, it wouldn’t be a race if I wasn’t in the bathroom at least ten times before the start, and don’t let my guys make you think they are any different, they go as many times as I do. So after a quick trip to the bathroom where I stood under the hand dryer for a while to try and dry off my rain coat, we headed upstairs to find out the fate of the race start. This just proves how much rain we had, our water proof jackets were wet all the way through. We did find a nice place to sit during the map pick up.

After picking up our maps, Mark told us the storm had about blown through, so we would be starting the race in 30 minutes. We quickly made our way out to base camp and plotted our maps using the master map and then highlighted our route. When we were planning our route, we had no idea we would be plotting for two teams, more on that later.

Mark called all the teams to the start, where one team member would have to run to the gazebo about 400 meters away and pick up the team clue, then run back to the transition area. Patrick took this task on since he is the fastest runner on our team. Since we did not know what discipline we would be doing first, Trek, Bike, or Canoe, he decided to run in his sandals rather than put on his running shoes.

The run was fast, but Patrick rocked it and made it back to camp super fast, where we tore open the envelope and found that we would be trekking first. I call it trekking because that is what it is in most adventure races, but in this race where it is so short 5 to 7 hours, we don’t trek we run, and we run as hard as we can, or as fast as the slowest teammate, which happened to be me. I think we did ok though, we were passing teams on the run. If we knew Highland better we could have cut some time off, but Chuck being the master navigator that he is got us right to every point.

Off to the first CP we went, when we arrived at CP1 we found that we would have to do a 2 minute plank before we could move on. Since we are probably the masters of the planks, this was one easy task. If you have been following the blog, you would have seen our planks in the past. After finishing our planks we grabbed a new clue and headed for CP2. During our run to CP2, we figured out the clue and decided to hit it after CP2. On arrival to the CP, we found out that each teammate had the task of carrying another teammate down to the end of the tennis court and back, we each had to carry someone. I went first and carried Chuck since he weighed a bit less than Patrick. Then Chuck carried me, and then I was lucky enough to get a second ride from Patrick. Even though Chuck has been accused of being a skeleton with skin, I still had a hard time carrying him.

The next CP was on “the unluckiest street with the tallest water fountain”. It was the water tower on 13th street. The challenge was a math problem, where we had to figure out what race number five different people had. We figured it out quickly and moved on. Next we ended up at the playground next to the fairgrounds, where we had to do 30 pull ups between all team members. Me and Patrick really sucked at this, so Chuck had to do most of them. Patrick and I are now starting a P90X club, so that we will no longer be an embarrassment to Chuck.

The next CP was at the pool at the fairgrounds, I had to run to the rock wall, get into the pool and climb up the rock wall, while Chuck and Patrick did a 1 minute wall sit. I quickly pulled off my jersey and shoes and ran to the wall, as soon as I stepped on the first few rocks I started slipping off the wall, Patrick yelled across the pool telling me, to take off my socks. It seems that even IceBreaker socks can’t take on a wet rock wall. As soon as I pulled the socks off, I scrambled up the wall even beating the guy next to me who had hit the wall the same time I did. I have to say, I did rock that wall. When I made it to the top, I just dropped into the water rather than climbing back down, it was faster and way more fun. I swam to poolside, Chuck pulled my jersey and pack over my head and we were off to the next CP in less than 30 seconds.

On the way to the next CP we came across the Red Bull van, we had to stop for a photo opportunity such as this.

The next CP was a basketball toss, we each had to make two free throws, no matter what Chuck says, he sucked at this. He went first and it took more than a few tosses to make his two baskets. Next I went making my first basket on the second shot, too bad it took about a hundred more shots for me to make the second one. It’s just a good thing we had Patrick there to save our butts, he made his two baskets in about 5 shots. It’s a good thing there were 10 year old volunteers there to show us up, when we came in they were making shot after shot, but I have to hand it to them, they didn’t laugh at us once and encouraged us the entire time we were shooting baskets.

We had a longer run this leg, where we ended up at the Highland Bank. Originally we were to take a flashlight and navigate through a drain tunnel under the road, but due to the heavy rain, we wouldn’t be allowed to swim through the rushing water to get to the end of tunnel. Instead we got our passport stamped, grabbed our flashlight and ran back to transition. At transition we found out that we would be going to Silver Lake for the canoe leg next. After we all ate a Honey Stinger waffle and drank some Gatorade, we headed out on foot to the lake.

The wind was really starting to pick up, we hoped it wasn’t too bad once we were in the canoe. Chuck and Patrick drug me through some grassy fields and out onto the road where we ran to the water works and found out that we now had to do 60 jumps between us. Ok, so I know you think big deal, how hard can that be, well it’s not as easy as it sounds. We had to jump onto a concrete block that was about 2 foot high. Patrick was great at it, that Insanity training he had been doing really came in handy. Chuck was ok at it, but I sucked, I think I only did 10 out of the 60 jumps, Chuck didn’t do much more then me and Patrick did the rest. I guess you could say Patrick rocked the concrete block.

Adventure racing is a great sport for discovering your weaknesses, but luckily it’s a team sport, where not everyone has the same weakness. We are definitely a team that has better endurance skills rather then game skills.

We headed across the dam, where we chased off a bunch of geese and ducks, and then we ran through a bunch of geese poop, then slide around in some mud, finally making it to the canoes. Once at the canoes, we received our first CP location on the water. We pulled the canoe down into the lake where Chuck took the front, Patrick took the back and I sat in the middle on the bottom of the canoe. At first we really sucked at paddling, which was a surprise because Chuck and Patrick have been paddling for months in preparation for the MR340. We finally figured it out at the first canoe CP, we traded paddles around so that Patrick had the longest paddle and I had the shortest, then we were flying. We started passing other teams on the lake. At the next CP, I got out of the canoe and ran the trail to the next CP where I met the guys. I was having a great time running through the trails around the lake, but I came to a Y in the trail and didn’t know which way to go, so I stayed right, well come to find out both ways would have gotten me to the CP, but of course I chose the longer one, the guys had to wait about two minutes for me to show up. I jumped in the canoe and we headed for the next CP, we flew past 3 teams on this leg, and then headed back across the lake to the canoe takeout. The problem was the wind had really picked up and we were paddling against the white caps.

After some really tough paddling we made it back to the take-out and drug our canoe over a steep, muddy embankment. I kept slipping back down into the lake, finally Chuck yelled, “we have the canoe, go climb up the other side”. I was on the verge of a face plant into the mud, but don’t worry the guys said if that happened they would have been sure to get it on video for later use. Good thing I was able to crawl to the top without face planting.

It was now a fast run back to transition where we grabbed food and jumped on our Treks, me and Chuck on our 29er Superflys and Patrick on his 26er. I think it’s time for Patrick to move up to a big boy bike.

We headed out eating, the boys were eating Honey Stingers, but I chose a hamburger, that was a mistake. Although in 12 and 24 hour races a burger is great, it doesn’t work so well as quick energy in a short race. I know that now, but it’s just a little too late, lesson learned. My energy level was just not up to par and the guys had to keep slowing down for me. I was doing ok for a while, but wasn’t on my usual pace. A couple miles into the ride, a team caught up to us, but they didn’t pass us, actually they sat back and rode our wheels. A couple times they pulled up to us and asked if we race much. At first we weren’t sure what was up, we thought they were just taking advantage of us and using us for the draft since the wind was so strong. We even slowed down to a really slow pace to let them pass us, thinking we would take our turn at drafting. After a while we figured out what they were up to, they didn’t know where they were going so they were just following us to all the CPs. We kept riding out front, we went through the flooded section of road then when we hit the gravel we tried to do a shake-n-bake by setting up a draft line, but they were staying on.

First they had youth on us at least 20 years, they were strong and we started calling them the meatheads and legs, because the guys were muscle bound and the girl had legs. We devised a plan to see if what we thought they were doing was correct. Patrick had broken a spoke, so we decide at the next intersection we would stop and look at his spoke then they would have to pass us. Guess what, they stopped right behind us and just stood there until we took off again and then followed us. We knew what was going to happen. They would make the last CP and then burn us on the way back, since the course was an out and back, there was no navigation on the return trip. That is exactly what happened, when we hit route 4 we stopped, let them pass us, because now they would since they knew the way back. We then took a risk on a different route thinking it might be a little faster, but ran into them at the next intersection.

I know that there are no rules against following a team around during a race, but it’s really poor sportsmanship. If you can’t navigate, learn how, don’t just follow another team. It really is poor racing etiquette. Not to say that I wasn’t part of the problem, had I been on my game, we would have smoked them even with the fact that they were riding bikes that were more of a hybrid than a mountain bike. Smaller tires go faster on the road. We followed behind them and about 3 miles from the finish they shook us which was about the same time I bonked as hard as I ever have. I was out of water so we stopped and Chuck gave me some of his. I was shaking and on the verge of puking and crying, I held it in, and Patrick and Chuck talked me into forcing down some sport beans. I got a handful of them down and we headed to the finish. What’s really incredible is, in just minutes I began to feel better and picked up the pace all the way to the finish line. We crossed the finish line to the cheers of the volunteers and the race director.

All in all it was a good day, we finished the race and found that it had to be a good day because I had blood, it’s always a good race if there is mud and blood, and we had both.

We also should feel a little bit flattered, I mean the meatheads and legs would have never beaten us without following us the entire bike leg, even though, we were all at least 20 years older and me being the oldest on the team probably had 25 years on them. They may have trumped us this time, but more often then not experience will trump strength in traditional adventure racing.

We all sat down and didn’t want to get up, it was so relaxing to be hanging out under the tent lounging in chairs.

Mark came by to chat and we had a volunteer take our picture with one of the greatest race directors, who pulled the race off in the worst of conditions.

We want to thank Mark and all the volunteers, this is such a fun race and without them, there would be a hole in our race schedule. Oh and Mark if you’re reading this, I have one suggestion, every year the volunteers have these great distressed t-shirts that are so cool, next year forget the tech shirts we have tons of them and give out those really cool t-shirts like the volunteers get.

One last picture or maybe two, this is me trying to look tough after the race, even though I could barely stand up. And the last is Chuck and Patrick looking tough before the race or maybe they were looking at "legs", I'm really not sure.

June 20, 2011

Expedition Impossible

Team ROCK Racing sent in an entry for Expedition Impossible early this year.  Unfortunately, we didn't get selected.    Here is a trailer of the coolness we missed out on:

Next year when we take more time and prepare our entry a little more carefully we will be in for sure.

June 15, 2011

Trek Mountain Co-op Ride & Superfly

I LOVE MY SUPERFLY! I know what you’re thinking, you just read a post that said I was almost in tears because I hated the Superfly. Well things change and boy they did for me. I planned a Trek Mountain Co-op ride with about 20 of my closest friends, and this ride was going to be my second test of the Superfly

If you read my last post on my new Superfly you will remember how I hated the tires, handlebars and seat. So I took the bike back to the Cyclery and told them about my misadventures with my new bike, that’s when Andy flew into action.

First thing he did was a sit test, so he could figure out just how large that seat was going to have to be to make sure my junk was comfortable. When he showed me the seat, I gave him the “there is no way I am going to like that seat, it isn’t the same as the one on my Top Fuel” look. He told me to trust him, he was a professional after all. Against my better judgment I decided to try the seat, knowing that he was wrong and I was going to hate it. It’s kind of like when I program my Garmin to go someplace then tell the Garmin lady, better known as Australian Karen, that she is wrong, drive a different route and end up lost. This has happened several times or well maybe, possibly more times than that and every time it happens, my kids tell me “mom you have to trust Karen, she is a professional”. So I chose to trust Andy and get this, he was right, I loved the seat, not one time during my ride, did I complain about my big trunk hurting.

Andy took the handlebars I had on my Giant and swapped them with the stock bars on the Superfly, and then I sold my Giant. That’s Right! I am now a completely Trek Mountain Girl, no more Giants in my stable. I love those handlebars too, Andy cut them to fit me perfectly when I bought the Giant a few years ago.

Last and probably most importantly, Andy ordered some rim strips from Trek and put a couple of my favorite tires, the Kenda Slant Six, on the Superfly and made it tubeless. Now I can ride it with very low tire pressure, which helps the tire grab, which keeps me on the bike.

I thought a Trek ride would be the perfect time to take a second shot at riding the Superfly, I had no preconceived notions that the bike would be good or even great, in fact I had it in my mind that it was going to suck and I would be crying by the end of the ride. I kept telling myself, just give it a chance.

We met at the mound at Weldon Springs, Kate, Patrick and I carpooled from Edwardsville together and it was such a beautiful day, I couldn’t help but be in a great mood and ready for some mountain bike action. We met, Mark, Chuck and Bill there and there were tons of cars with bikers at the mound, there were only six of our group at the start of the ride, but I thought we may come upon some late starters once we got on the trails because I had 10 or so replies from people saying they would be there.

We zipped down on the Hamburg Trail and turned onto the Lost Valley trails. LV starts out with a steep, long, gravel covered downhill, it’s fast and sketchy. We hit it fast and bombed down it. Kate hung back riding her brakes a little because she is new to mountain biking and was being a bit cautious. At the bottom of the hill we headed straight up a hill similar to the one we came down, it was tough, but the Superfly was beating this hill. When we made it to the top we stopped and waited for everyone to get up the hill so we could regroup. This was a no drop ride so we stopped at every trail intersection and regrouped.

This was also the place where I realized my gloves smelled really bad. The first time I wiped my face with them, I got a wiff of the awful girl sweat from at least a few past rides, it almost knocked me off my bike. Yeah, those gloves went in the wash when I got home.

We rode through the first big dip, it was short, but steep, but it was dry so riding it almost felt like being on a roller coaster. At the top of the dip was a rocky area where on our last ride at LV, Patrick blew a tire, a rock sliced into his sidewall. The good thing was he booted it with a Honey Stinger package and was able to finish the ride. Chuck and I both yelled watch the rocks to Patrick on our way through. The picture is a little blurry, but this is Patrick jumping out of the dip.

We rode for a while then I rode past an intersection where the gang was waiting and shot a cool picture of them coming down a hill toward me.

We started flying through the trails and all was well, I made a quick pit stop and pulled out just as Patrick and Kate were coming by.

I got on behind Patrick and in a tight rocky spot, he had a bit of a problem and ended up on the ground, it’s a good thing I was camera ready and was able to get the shot before he got off the ground.

Patrick is such a trooper, plus he crashes more than anyone I know, he has it down and he doesn’t crash because he doesn’t have skills, he crashes because he is trying some crazy stunt. He isn’t afraid to try anything, so we always try to talk him into everything. Most the time he will try it too. Once he was off the ground, we caught up to the others, I was bringing up the rear and we had to move over for a gang of about 15 riders coming through, I knew some of them, they were the GORC guys and some adventure racers.

We talked briefly as they came through, we were headed down through the creek and they were coming up the other side. About half of them made it, while the other half put a foot down or pushed up the hill from the creek. It is a kind of squirrely little section that is hard because you have to ride across some flat rocks then through the creek, to a steep little climb into narrow single track over a large root and around a big tree. It’s not as easy as it may look at first. We got the chance to try it on our second loop. Chuck, Bill and Mark seemed to make it without a problem, but I didn’t make it, so I wanted to try it again. As soon as Patrick came across I went back across the creek to try it again, Patrick pulled out his camera to get a video, I think he was waiting for a spectacular crash, which is exactly what I thought was going to happen.

Can you believe it, I made it, I was so happy. Next Kate came across, but she opted to take the safe route and hop off not wanting to give Patrick a chance at the video of the year award. Smart thinking Kate!

We finished the first loop and decided to do a crazy eight loop, I call it that, but it’s really just a figure eight with a killer climb. We started up the climb and I was in front with Bill and Chuck, and Mark was right next to me, they soon rode away from me, and then Kate just rode past me like I was standing still, then Patrick came around and by the time we got to the top of the hill I was chanting I love hills, trying to make myself believe it, but the gang was way ahead of me and my only saving grace was that the GORC crew was coming through and everyone stopped to talk, so I finally caught up. We then realized the reason so many people were out was because it was Mountain bike weekend in Missouri. LV, Mattson Hill and Klondike all had rides going on. At first I thought maybe GORC was having a work day and that’s why all the riders were out, but it was just a have fun riding mountain bike weekend and having fun was just what we were doing.

I was having so much fun, I loved chasing the guys down on the single track and chasing Kate down on the double track. Its funny no one was chasing me down, but then again, I always have the excuse that I had to stop for blog pictures. I’m not sure who was the fastest in our group, Mark, Chuck and Bill seemed to always be upfront, but the position kept changing at every stop. I think everyone was just having fun. At one stop we looked for blood, you know its been a good day if there is both mud and blood, we all had mud, but Patrick won the blood contest, he out classed Bill’s bloody knuckle with his knee puncture.

Although, we had made a couple stops to eat Honey Stinger waffles, I was starting to get hungry, I looked down at my computer to see we were almost 17 miles in, so we decided to finish the loop and head back to the van for some lunch.

We rode some more single track where we went under some low hanging branches, I hit my head pretty hard on a limb, but lucky for me I had on my Hardnutz Rock Hard helmet which has a visor and the visor prevented me from being smacked in the face by the limb. Next it was on to some double track then we made a stop to discuss which trail to take back. When we were stopped the bugs were starting to bite and that was after we had all doused ourselves in bug spray before we started. I think my ankles were starting to show vampire mosquito bites all over them.

Our choices to head back was some fun single track or a long steep climb on double track, we opted for the single track. As we rode through the trails we came upon the place where I once crashed and Chuck yells, “I think I know someone who crashed there once” that would have been me. It’s funny how I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can remember every single, stop, crash, sound, or comment made on every mountain bike ride I have ever been on. I’m sure I am not alone in this skill, I know everyone riding with me can probably boast of the same skill. Sometimes I think I spend more quality time with Mark, Chuck and Patrick then I do with my own family, they are like my extended fun family. We just have all the fun together without all the responsibility. The only responsibility I have on the trail is too make sure I tell their family that they died with a smile on their face or in Patrick’s case he died taking a dare we challenged him to. That is the promise that all mountain bikers make when they ride together.

We headed back to the van and had lunch on Trek, it was Subway sandwiches, chips and assorted drinks, and although it was just sandwiches we were so hungry that if felt like a feast, I was going to offer some to the GORC guys in the parking lot, but we pretty much devoured it all.

I know you are waiting to find out about my final thoughts on the Superfly. This is why I now LOVE my SUPERFLY

1. It rolled over every rock and root, like they weren’t even there.
2. I flew up and down the hills as well as on the flat, it just rolled smooth as butter.
3. I never once felt the seat, it was like I was sitting on air, thanks Andy!
4. The handle bars felt like they were made specifically for my build.
5. The tires grabbed the dirt and just took me where I wanted to go.
6. It was the bike that everyone told me it would be. I was almost too happy for words by the end of the ride.

So it might not have been Love at first ride, but it was definitely LOVE at Second Ride.

I want to give a big THANKS to Trek for allowing me to be part of a great program. The Trek Mountain Co-op is a fantastic way to promote mountain biking to all walks of life not just the pro riders. And it’s always nice to have free food and drinks after a great ride. And thanks to Andy for making me fall in love with my bike and of course a big thanks to all my friends that came out to ride with me on such a beautiful Sunday morning.

June 14, 2011

Icebreaker Sock Review

I am not an environmentalist (I love my 3/4 ton crew cab 4x4 truck), but I recently started thinking about where some of my workout gear comes from.  Take something simple like socks.  When I started running, my local running shoe store put me into Balega socks.  Decent socks that I’ve got a lot of miles out of, but I found out they are made out of poly-something-nylon-stuff with a fancy trade name.  It only takes one Google search to find out that poly-something-nylon-stuff is terrible for our planet.  And it’s really not just socks I’m talking about.  It’s shorts, shirts, compression gear, hats, gloves, baselayers, anything made from ‘tech-fabric’.  We’ve practically been brainwashed into thinking this is the only acceptable alternative for workout gear.

Poly-stuff is made from petro-chemicals, these synthetics are non-biodegradable, so they are inherently unsustainable on two counts. Nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Making polyester uses huge amounts of water for cooling, along with lubricants which can become a source of contamination by themselves. Both processes are also energy hogs.  The main raw materials are described as follows:
  • Purified terephthalic acid – PTA – CAS-No.: 100-21-0
Synonym: 1,4 benzenedicarboxylic acid,
Sum formula; C6H4(COOH)2 , mol weight: 166.13
  • Dimethylterephthalate – DMT – CAS-No: 120-61-6
Synonym: 1,4 benzenedicarboxylic acid dimethyl ester
Sum formula C6H4(COOCH3)2 , mol weight: 194.19
  • Mono Ethylene Glycol – MEG – CAS No.: 107-21-1
Synonym: 1,2 ethanediol
Sum formula: C2H6O2 , mol weight: 62,07

The raw materials are produced by large chemical companies which are sometimes integrated down to the crude oil refinery where p-Xylene is the base material to produce PTA and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is the base material to produce MEG.

WTF?   I don’t want some long-chain petro-chemical mad-scientist experiment on my feet or next to any of my skin.  Look at those ingredients again:  Acids and glycols.  Nasty.  Probably looks like this:

Give me something simple like Merino wool.  It works like this:
Sheep eats grass, farmer shears sheep, Icebreaker sews it into socks.

Icebreaker does something else cool.  They sew a tag in your shirt or pants that has a unique code printed on it.  The code is used to trace the clothing through the manufacturing process all the way back to the sheep farm that produced the wool. (I wonder what oil well my poly socks started life in?).  I decided to test the BAAcode:

My shirt came from the Branch Creek Station in south western New Zealand.  I watched a great video and found out these interesting stats:
LOCATION:  Cardrona Valley, South Island, New Zealand.
STOCK NUMBERS:  9,000 merino, 200 Hereford cattle.
AREA:  6,700 hectares (16,556 acres).
ALTITUDE:  600m at homestead.
MERINO FIBRE PRODUCTION:  30,000kg (66,138lb).  “It’s a typical high country station: not much of it has been developed, so the sheep are usually roaming the back country.” 

I also learned about the Stations rancher: "My grandfather bought Branch Creek after he came back from the First World War. Issi and Glen's four kids, including five-year-old twins, are the fifth generation of the family to live here. Running this farm has always been a family affair. The grandkids love being out on the property, and I think they're privileged to be growing up on a farm. They're feral kids, really - they need all this open space."
So, now I’ve convinced you that wool is the simple, sustainable, and clean way to go.

That leaves us at THE BIG QUESTION:  How do they work?  Robin will tell us:

Chuck is an engineer and he knows all this technical stuff, he lives for the details and tech data, me I’m more of a try it and see if I like it kind of girl, So I’m going to tell you the story of many socks, and you can make your own decision on wearing wool socks for all weather extremes.
Let me start by saying, I’m somewhat of an Imelda Marcos of socks, especially technical socks.  I have about every brand of technical cycling and running sock made, Defeet, PI, Sock Guy, Champion, Smart Wool, Wigwam, you name it, I have it.  Until recently I had never tried IceBreaker socks.  

Since IceBreaker socks are all wool, I was leery of trying them in the hot, humid Midwest weather.  I love the wool socks that I have, but they are all thick and hot and have only been good for use in the winter months.  I have tried them in early spring and late fall and they were still too hot, so I was not enthused to try the IB socks in the summer time. The IB socks are much thinner than any of the other brands that I have, so I thought that maybe they would be ok. They have been my favorite socks for the last few cold months, but I still was not ready to give them a try in the heat.  Then something happened that encouraged me to try them in the hot weather.  I have been having foot problems for over a year and I finally may have found a cure.  My doctor had some orthotics made for me and he thought that if I used them religiously in a few months my foot would quit hurting.  The good thing was the first time I wore them, no foot pain and again the second and third time no pain and even better, no foot pain ever when I wore them.  The problem was the pain was gone, but I kept getting a giant blister on the bottom of my right foot, it was the size of a half dollar and it really hurt.  I tried body glide, Vaseline, and every brand of sock I had, still I got blister after blister.  Soon I was limping around with blister band aids on my foot.  So the only thing left to do was to try the IB socks, I was not optimistic, I knew they wouldn’t make a difference.  So I put them on one morning and went out for my morning run.  I ran a mile, no problems, two miles still no problems, I knew by the third mile my foot would be hurting and by the forth it would be bleeding.  Three miles came and went, I soon passed the 4 mile mark, still no blister, then it was mile 5 and 6, no blister, I finished the 7th mile and my foot felt good. I couldn’t believe what I was not feeling.  I sat down on the curb and took off my shoe to look at my foot, no blood, no skin hanging off my foot, it was perfect, no problems at all.  My foot felt great, it didn’t hurt and my feet weren’t on fire.  At this point, I thought, this has to be a fluke, I can’t believe I didn’t get a blister.  So the next day I put on my IB socks and went out for another run, guess what, no blisters and no hot wet feet.  That is the story of the day when IB socks became my favorite socks ever. 

I now have a drawer overflowing with socks that are not being worn and I keep wearing the same few pair of IB socks over and over again.  My next test for the socks is to see how long they last when they are the only socks I wear for all my workouts.

June 6, 2011

Tri-Shark Triathlon 2011

Training for long races, like an Ironman or 50K trail run, takes its toll on the body. The long endurance training wears your body down and it also makes you slower. If you haven’t done a lot of long endurance training you probably don’t believe this. When training for long races you slow your pace down because you need to be able to finish the workout, not go fast. So you never train your body to go fast, just to go long.

Well, this is the root of my current problem. I have spent the last year and a half training for long races, now when I want to do a few short triathlons, I find out that my body doesn't want to go fast. It doesn’t care that it’s a short race, it is used to going slow for a long time, not going fast for a short time. And let me tell you this, when my body decides it doesn’t want to do something there is nothing my mind can say to make it do it.

Here I am, ready to compete in handful of short triathlons this summer and I can’t talk my body into moving fast enough. So this is the story of a slow body and a fast race.

I have completed in the Tri-Shark Triathlon 11 times now. The race is a very popular, it’s held in a small town near Bloomington, IL. The race always fills in just hours and draws many big Tri Clubs from, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa. Let me say this, those big city clubs have really fast racers. I have never placed better than 4th at this race, but they go 5 deep in the bigger age groups, so I have won schwag in the past. I was once again hoping for a top 5 finish, but with the speed problem, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. I just went to the race and hoped for the best.

The day started off hot, it was 80 degrees at 6:30 am when I was being body marked and racking my bike for the race.

I found a good spot on the end of the rack and I was close to the run out and to the swim in. The announcer let everyone know that the water temp was 71, so wet suits would be allowed. After setting up my gear at the bike rack, I went back to my car to rest for a few minutes in the shade, I had gotten a really good parking spot under a tree, unfortunately is was also right next to a couple port-a-johns, so it was cool, but didn’t smell so good.

It didn’t take long for the smell to get to me, so I walked down to the water and got a picture of the swim course, it sure looked like a long way around the buoys, but the race director swears it was only 600 meters. I climbed into my wetsuit, which took forever to pull on since I was sweating so much it was sticking to me, but I finally got it on and went for a short warm-up swim. Things seemed to be working well and the cold water felt good. We were called out of the water for the pre-race meeting and then the life guards took their kayaks out to man thier post along the swim route.

I had to stand in the sun with my wetsuit on for about 25 minute before wave 6 started. When I found out I was in wave six I thought that was going to be a good thing, but soon found out that I was wrong. Six was the second to the last wave and it seemed to have hundreds of people in it. Really there may have been about 60, still it felt crowded. Standing in the cool water waiting for the start felt good, because for the last 25 minutes I had been melting in the sun in that wetsuit. The horn sounded and we were off, this was my first open water swim of the year and I was not having fun. I think 10 people swam over me in the first 200 meters and I was hanging to the outside, I would have hated to have been in the middle. I was kicked and hit too many times to count, I think I was on the verge of hyperventilating. I had to start breathing every stroke to try and get my head back in it. After about 400 meters I started to feel better and finished strong, the problem was I had lost so much time in the first 400 meters that my swim time was really going to drag me down.

I came out of the water and ran up the hill where a volunteer stripped my wetsuit off me in about 5 seconds, it was fantastic, I have to thank that guy! I ran to transition quickly put on my shoes, helmet and glasses and headed to the bike out. The bike out was way at the other end of transition, it seemed like I ran in my bike shoes forever to get to the bike mount line. Finally I was on my bike, the rest of the race would be gravy now. HAHA, I really wanted to believe that, but somewhere in my mind, I knew it wasn’t true.

The wind was really strong and I had a cross wind or head wind for most of the race, but I was keeping a good pace. A beetle flew in my mouth at about 3 miles and I hacked up about half of it then washed the rest down with Gatorade. I was passing people, tons of people, trying to get back what I lost in the swim. The rule is once you are within 3 bike lengths of the person in front of you, you have 15 seconds to pass, otherwise if you get caught you will get a penalty for drafting. Sometimes I would have to put the hammer down and pass 3 or 4 people in a row, but I felt pretty good and just kept passing people. A motorcycle with a referee was zipping around the course writing down numbers for drafting penalties. I didn’t get any though. I finished the bike strong, changed to running shoes, grabbed a Honey Stinger waffle and ran out.

I got about half of the waffle down and couldn’t eat anymore it was just too hot to eat. I grabbed two cups of water at each water stop. I poured one over my head and drank the other. The run was an out and back all in the hot sun on rolling hills. I wish I would have grabbed my visor to put on, I don’t know what I was thinking when I forgot that. I started passing people right away and kept passing them for the entire run. I really thought my run was going to be fast, but when I finished, I found out just how slow it really was. I was not very happy about it. I looked at the preliminary results and saw that I was 7th. I figured since everyone in my age group started in the same swim wave, my place wouldn’t change. Not top 5, that is what I was really shooting for, but hey, the sun was shinning and I was outside, way better than being on the couch watching TV.

I hoofed it over to the massage table and the poor guy had to put his hands all over my sweaty, smelling body, I really did feel sorry for him, but not enough to forgo the massage. I bet he worked on other people who smelled way worse than me, so maybe it didn’t bother him much. I bet he took a long shower when he got home from the race.

After the massage I headed for the food, grabbed an Avanti’s sandwich, if you don’t know what that is, it’s only the best place in all of Bloomington to eat. They have this great bread and the sandwiches are love at first bite. I also got a couple cookies, an orange and a diet coke. I was so hungry, it felt like a feast. I grabbed all my stuff and headed to the car to pack up and head into Bloomington.

It just so happens that the Edwardsville High School baseball team was playing in the IHSA sectional game there, and my girls were at the game, so I headed over to watch. I took some great pictures at the game and they won, which means they are now headed to the super sectionals and if they win they will go on to compete for the state title. Good Luck Tigers!

My niece just happened to be in a basketball tournament across the street from the baseball field, so I was able to run over and see one of her games also, I took more great pictures there.

Oh, and on a good note, when I got home, I checked out all the race results and found that I had the 6th fasted bike time and 4th fastest run time for my age group. Even with a horrible run time, I still did ok, which means that everyone was struggling with the heat, not just me.