Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Bassman Half Distance Tri

I knew that after these months of training I would need to test my progress. I also knew that the best way to do that would be to sign up for half distance races. A couple of months ago, I did some investigating and found a few options. As the weeks have gone by, I've narrowed down my options based on what's feasible and relatively easy in terms of travel.

Last week, I determined that the first of these would be the Bassman Triathlon at Bass River State Park in Tuckerton, NJ. It's not terribly accessible in terms of public transportation, but it is relatively close and soon. Unfortunately, it's also very expensive (as most half distance races tend to be). It took me the whole week to finally decide that I needed to do it. I mean, I already knew I needed to do it, but it took a lot of convincing to finally register.

So what have I gotten myself into? Well, the term "half distance" refers to the distance of a half Ironman. This means a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, followed by a half marathon. And actually, I think the distances here are a liiiittle different. Bike looks like it's 58 and run is 13.2.

This is a map of the two-loop swim course:

It's described as being "calm and clear" and temperatures are typically in the mid-sixties. I'll be wearing a wetsuit for this one.

Bike course:

I'm seeing some definition there on the altitude map. This worries me.

Run course:

The run is the least of my worries. I know as long as I can make it to the start of the run, I'll be able to slog my way through it. It's just making any cutoffs so that I can get there. This is what I'm most worried about, as I encountered this issue at my first half Iron attempt a couple of years ago.

So here it is. My first big test.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oh, The Indignity

Today as I sauntered up three blocks from my office to the gym, I relished the thought of finally returning to my beloved lunch run. Until I was confronted with a dreadful discovery.

I’d forgotten my shirt. I had shoes, socks, shorts and a sports bra. No shirt. My mind reeled and excitement ebbed. The thought of returning dejectedly to my desk, less 25 minutes of my day and with no workout to show for it was unappealing.

Let me give some context to this situation. I have always been that person who scurries off to change in a bathroom stall instead of in front of a locker. Don’t ask me why. Changing in public makes me uncomfortable. Yet I knew that a critical decision had to be made. I’m training for an Ironman, the very foundation of which is built on toughness and guts. Bailing because of minor discomfort (mental discomfort, not even physical) is the worst thing I can do. It was time to woman up. I weighed the options.

Sweater. No sweater. Sweater. No sweater.

Sweater. I felt that I could deal with being hot better than I could deal with being shirtless in the middle of the gym. I stepped out of the locker room in my goofy outfit and found a treadmill. I pressed the Quick Start button, set it to 7.5 mph, and hoped for the best.

Sometime during that first tenth of a mile, another realization dawned on me. Aside from the fact that I was overheating, I recognized that my sweater would surely be unwearable after almost 3.5 miles of heavy sweating. Then I’d be left shirtless for the rest of my workday. I knew what had to be done.

But first, I wanted to scope out the situation from all directions. Front: free and clear. Sides: one guy on the treadmill to my right. Back: two people on ellipticals, though I waited a little bit longer hoping one would leave. No luck. The situation deteriorated as a third joined the pack. Time to move. With shifty-eyed, sideways glances, I removed the sweater in one quick motion. The deed was done. And I was flustered.

So flustered, in fact that I ratcheted up the speed on the treadmill to 7.9 mph at mile 2, which is about half a mile sooner than I normally do. But my desperate move had emboldened me. I firmly believed that the hardest part of this run was over. Too much speed? Pfft.

It was a fair assumption. I killed the lunch run and improved my distance in 26 minutes to 3.37 miles. And somehow went from being the stall-changer to the shirtless person...and back to the stall-changer in half an hour.

Downside: I was THAT person at the gym.

Upside: Hell yeah I was THAT person at the gym!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Little Catch-Up

Oh, my goodness. Here we are already a month since I wrote about the NYC Half and I haven't bothered to post since. And now there are too many things to talk about and some of them aren't even relevant anymore. But whatever, here goes.


As a former twitter skeptic, I continue to be impressed and delighted with the site and the kinds of networks it helps create. I've met multiple people in person that I didn't know until I met them on Twitter! It's been fantastic. Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Christopher Brisley of for a 6 mile run in Central Park. Chris lives in the UK but was in New York City because he won a Shorty Award in social fitness. Only weeks prior to that, Chris ran the Thames Path 100, which is a trail race along the Thames from London to Oxford. It should be noted that Chris underwent a 5-year recovery period after being struck by a car while riding his bike in 2002. He's since completed multiple Ironman and ultramarathon events. I know there are a lot of links in this paragraph, but I want you to have a full understanding of what Chris has overcome and accomplished. Read them. Follow Chris (@takeachallenge) on Twitter.

We met bright and early (6am) for a nice sunrise run. I did my best to play tour guide and we made it up to the reservoir, did a loop of that and a loop of part of the Bridle Path and then continued along the east side of Central Park and back to his hotel on Central Park South. All the while we talked about all kinds of things. It was fantastic. And afterward, I got to take a picture with him!

Another twitterer that I got to meet recently is Libby Jones, race director of the New Year's Double series of races in Allen, Texas. It's involves a 5k, half marathon and full marathon on each of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. It's a pretty cool event and probably one I should do sometime in the future.

How did I meet Libby? Once again, the magic of Twitter. I spent last week visiting my family in Texas and ran the Big D Half Marathon on Sunday. Libby sent out a call for packet pickup volunteers. Since I'm a sucker for this kind of thing I was naturally all over it and spend last Thursday morning helping out with packet pickup at the Mockingbird location of Run On! It was great getting to meet Libby and other people who are active in the DFW running scene. You should follow Libby (@libbyruns) and consider doing one (or two, or three) of her races.

The Big D Half Marathon!

As mentioned above, I spent last Sunday morning running the Big D Texas Half Marathon. This is relevant in multiple ways, as you'll see later on in this post. This small paragraph will serve as a mini race report, since this post is already too long. I ran the Big D Half with a few friends. Marathon veteran Sharon, bootcamper extraordinaire Torch (Sarah), and newly minted race junkie Marilyn (who also ran the NYC Half). Not only did I get to run with them, I got to see friends Faith and Alex, who picked perfect spots to cheer for us along the course.

The most striking thing about this race was the weather. The night before, we were worried that it would be cancelled due to lightning. Although we woke up to rain on the morning of the race, it had subsided by the time we started, giving way to a wall of sticky humidity. That lasted for a good four or five miles before the skies became what I can only describe as apocalyptic and heavy winds started. THEN the rain came back and we spent miles 8-11 in heavy rain, which had slowed to a drizzle by the time we finished. It was definitely the largest weather spectrum I've experienced during the course of one race.

Sharon and I finished around 2:30, a little bit before Torch and Marilyn. Then we went into one of the buildings in Fair Park and I ate the best breakfast tacos I've ever had in my life. THEN I got to see friends T (of Choice Training, in Dallas) and Sue Ann at lunch right before I left for the airport. It was really the best possible way I could have ended my trip home. Here's a picture of us after the race:


Before I left on vacation, I wrote a very introspective post about the birth of my running career. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to edit and thus have delayed posting it. It'll go up soon, but it's too long to go here and I still haven't finished editing. So stay tuned for that. For now, have a fantastic Friday!