Rain, Rain Go Away
I'll be heading up to Lake Delton tonight and competing in the Devil's Challenge triathlon at Devil's Lake tomorrow. I'm not sure I feel as prepared as I'd like to be for this one, but you go to war with the army you have. They keep changing their minds about what the bike course is going to be this year (mostly out of concerns regarding road conditions)... so adding rain to the mix would not be helpful.
Wish me luck.
Off to the Races
I'm not sure I'm as prepared for my first triathlon of the year as I was last year, but I'm feeling good enough, and I think it's going to be a gorgeous day. So wish me luck tomorrow where I'll be in Lake Mills. The first wave takes off at 7 AM. According to their email, the lake isn't as cold as I feared it would be... it's around 60 degrees. And if the air temperature is as warm as it is now, then it'll be perfect racing weather.
Update 6/1/2008: Well... to my surprise I actually took 3 minutes off my best time. That's right, another personal record at this race! If this is how well I do when I feel unprepared, imagine what I could do if I was actually ready! You can see my results here, and the results from the field here.
Mentally Preparing for a Cold Swim
It dawned on me today that with only a couple weeks left before my first triathlon of the season in Lake Mills, that there haven't been enough warm days this spring. I'm feeling like I'm physically prepared. My runs are strong, and I had a really strong bike ride today that has boosted my confidence. The problem is that with this being the first race of the spring, the swim is often times pretty cold, but is very dependent on the weather leading up to the race. Previous years have had a pretty warm lake when May was warm. This year... damn... it's going to be cold! Thank God for my wetsuit.
The War on Runners
There is an article in today's New York Times which discusses the supposed "runner's high" and that it's now being scientifically confirmed:
THE runner's high: Every athlete has heard of it, most seem to believe in it and many say they have experienced it. But for years scientists have reserved judgment because no rigorous test confirmed its existence.
Yes, some people reported that they felt so good when they exercised that it was as if they had taken mood-altering drugs. But was that feeling real or just a delusion? And even if it was real, what was the feeling supposed to be, and what caused it?
The runner's-high hypothesis proposed that there were real biochemical effects of exercise on the brain. Chemicals were released that could change an athlete's mood, and those chemicals were endorphins, the brain's naturally occurring opiates. Running was not the only way to get the feeling; it could also occur with most intense or endurance exercise.
But now medical technology has caught up with exercise lore. Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner's body pumps out, the greater the effect.
An artificial means to change your body chemistry and make you feel bliss? We can't have that! I expect to see SWAT teams breaking into people's homes looking for evidence of running shoes and Hammer Gel within the coming weeks. If we're not careful and stamp this out immediately, running could turn into the next heroine!
I've brought my bike inside for the winter, and have it on a cycling trainer. It's a great way to stay in good biking shape even when the weather outside is frightful, but it's sometimes hard to motivate yourself when riding indoors. When you're riding outside, you choose how fast you want to ride, but other challenges are presented to you without your choice. You can't move a hill... you can only go up it. When riding inside, the challenges you face are the ones you give yourself. It can be easy, and often tempting, to cop out and go for an easy ride.
That's why I have commercial climbs. I have my bike parked in front of my TV, and I watch a show while I ride to help the time go by faster. Then, whenever a commercial comes on, I crank up the resistance on the trainer really high and simulate a climb, and then keep it up until the commercial is over. It's a great way of working intervals into my workout and improving my climbing skills, and adds a challenge that "you're not in control of" to the ride.
Don't let yourself off easy just because you're inside.
You Know Winter is Approaching...
... when the bike comes in and goes on the trainer.
Today's Flickr Friday features some more vanity on my part. I've got some pictures from my last two races up. Here is just a sampling, and you can click on any picture for a larger version.
From last weekend's Green Bay Duathlon:
And from two week's before that, I was at Devil's Lake:
Tomorrow I will be at Lapham Peak in the Colorama 5K Run. The money raised from the race goes to support the park, and if you'd like to make a donation without racing, you can do so here.
Not Too Bad If I Do Say So Myself
That's four major races this year, and four personal records. I competed in the Green Bay Duathlon this morning, and beat my previous time on that course (from two years ago) by over 9 minutes. For those of you keeping track, I had my best sprint triathlon time at Lake Mills, my best Olympic time at Kenosha, and my best Devil's Challenge time ever, all this year. I averaged a 7 minute mile during the long run (my best run ever during a race), averaged 19.5 mph on the bike (close to my best during a race), and then 7:30 minute mile during the second run. I'm not sure I could have expected better, and it was a great way to close out the major part of my season.
I'll be heading up to Lambeau Field on Sunday... not for a football game (the Packers are playing the Vikings in Minnesota), but for the Green Bay Duathlon. Duathlons are similar to triathlons, but instead of Swim-Bike-Run, they're Run-Bike-Run. This is a 5k - 32 mi - 2k race, and hopefully the weather will be warmer than for the Devil's Challenge two weeks ago. I did this one two years ago, and it was a lot of fun. It's also got the longest bike leg of any races I currently do, which I enjoy a lot. Wish me luck!
It Is a High Intensity Sport
Madison psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Eimermann died while competing in a triathlon at Devil's Lake State Park Saturday morning.
The 55-year-old Eimermann was found unconscious in the water during the swimming portion of the Devil's Challenge triathlon, and was pronounced dead at St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo a short time later.
Sauk County Coroner Betty Hinze said an autopsy to determine cause of death will be performed today.
Schmelzer said another triathlete just finishing up the swimming leg "couldn't get out of the water" without assistance and was also taken to the hospital.
Since I was in an early wave, he was in the water after me, and I was on the bike before it happened. I heard something after about someone being taken to the hospital, but this is quite a shocker. My condolences to his family.
Update: According to this it was caused by artherosclerotic heart disease, which is a hardening of the arteries in the heart. It's the type of thing that you'd probably never suspect to see in someone who regularly competes in triathlons like Dr. Eimermann did. An unfortunate reminder that when you do high intensity sports, it's still important not to assume you're immune.
Another Personal Record
I really wish this global warming thing could have kicked in this weekend, because that was one cold mutha of a race. When I turned into Devil's Lake State Park, my car thermometer read 33 degrees... but at least it was above freezing. Foolishly I had left most of my cold weather biking gear at home. I had sleeveless Under Armor, and a sleeveless tri jersey. Things weren't looking good. I think it was around 6:45 AM that I stopped feeling my toes. But hey, who needs to feel their toes anyway?
Sadly I forgot my camera, because the view of the lake was incredible. The water temperature was in the 70's, but the air temperature still hadn't hit 40 yet, and so there was a fog over the entire lake. It looked like a Devil's caldron, but had finally cleared once the sun hit for the 8AM start.
My swim was solid, and the warm water was certainly welcome. But getting out of the water back into the cold air wasn't great, especially since I had to run barefoot on frosty ground. I took the unusual step of toweling off a bit, figuring that evaporating water on the bike would only get me colder. So my first transition was a little longer than I would have liked, but in the end I made up for the time.
Devil's Challenge has 4 difficult climbs you have to conquer, and I was amazed at how well I did on each one. I powered up each one, and passed people on all of them. By the time I had gotten to the second transition, I still couldn't feel my toes (and my arms were wind burnt), but I was doing well otherwise. When I got to the run, my feet felt like bricks attached to my ankles. I finally felt my feet about halfway through the run course. Despite this, I had my best run time ever. I have no idea where the energy came from.
My final result was to take 4 minutes off my personal record on the course. I was fairly competitive in my age group too. If I can only learn to descend faster down those hills, I could have taken even more time. But that's a skill for next year. But I'm thrilled with how well I did, especially on the climbs. Here is the break down on my time, and here are the results for the field.
I'll be up at Devil's Lake this weekend competing in my 5th Devil's Challenge. It will probably be a cold race, but I'm looking forward to it after bailing from last month's race because of the rain. I can't believe I've been doing this for 5 years to be honest. I think back to who I was then, and who I am now, and it blows me away. As always, the bike leg is the most challenging one I do, so wish me luck.
Rain Rain Go Away...
If it keeps raining like this into the morning, tomorrow is going to suck. God, do we need to have another conversation?
Discretion is the Better Part of Valor: So they delayed the race by 30 minutes, but I did not feel good about the whole thing. It was still raining, and forecast to continue for a while, with the possibility of thunderstorms developing. The roads were incredibly wet with lots of standing water to boot. So I decided to turn in my chip and leave before it started. It's not a DNF because I never started. I wouldn't have had any fun doing it, and it just wasn't worth it. There were plenty of other people who were making the same decision. I'm a little pissed that I had to rack my bike last night, because odds are that when I woke up this morning and saw the radar, I would've decided to roll over and go back to sleep if I didn't have to go pick up my bike.
There will be other races.
"A wise man once said the human spirit can overcome any obstacle..."
"... That man had obviously never run a triathlon." Sunday I'll be down in Pleasant Prairie competing in my second Olympic distance triathlon of the year. It's a brutally early start time at 6:30 am, but Lake Andrea should be nice and warm compared to Lake Michigan. Hopefully I'll do significantly better than this:
The Quotable Chiropractor
So while I was at the Carl Zach Cycling Classic yesterday, I took the opportunity to utilize the services of a race chiropractor who had setup shop along the route...
Her: So what am I working on today?
Me: Lower back. I had a race on Saturday, and on Monday it went into spasm.
Her: So what category are you?
Me: Actually, I'm a triathlete. I did an Olympic distance race Saturday.
Her: So I'm guessing you lost a lot of weight training to do triathlons then?
Me: Actually, I lost some of it before, and the rest training.
Her: I noticed the stretch marks, and that was my polite way of asking.
That's the one thing nobody ever mentions about losing a significant amount of weight. You could end up with more stretch marks than a pregnant woman. It doesn't offend me to ask though... its just part of who I am... though I wish it wasn't. But she did a fantastic job. I woke up this morning and got out of bed without an audible groan of pain for the first time since Monday. There's still some soreness, but that will gradually go away.
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