Monday, August 20, 2012

Matt's 2012 Timberman Race Report

Heading into this year’s Timberman was kind of strange.  I suppose it was because both Genine and I knew we hadn’t done the training we should have done to make this a successful race. Which I suppose took the pressure off in terms of expectations. On the other hand, I had no desire to suffer through the cramping I dealt with at Mont Tremblant 70.3. So even though there were lowered expectations, there were some goals in place, and there never seems to be a lack of lessons learned during each event. I’ll start off with one of them.

We had to check in our bike the day before the event. No problem, except we were meeting the McFadden’s for dinner at their place and I felt we were running behind schedule. So I checked my bike in leaving all the taping of equipment into place onto my bike for the next morning. Not a big deal. Except that the next morning I was doing my tape job while it was packed in the rack. 6 GU’s on the top tube, it looked good but I found out on the course that I didn’t tape some of them low enough. So when I ripped them off, I only got half of the opening, which leads to much longer than twice the time to consume the GU while on the bike. Lesson learned.

Swim: I knew this wasn’t going to be a good swim for me. (haven’t put in the laps). I still planned on focusing on a few things. At Mont Tremblant, I was way off line and had to swim like crazy to get back on track. After that race was when I realized that because I tend to go left, I have to pass people on the right, otherwise I’m going to be going off track. This worked very well other than for the first 300m or so. Because I’m so slow, I put myself further back in the pack for the start, almost last in fact. I started on the buoy line because it was a clockwise swim. Unfortunately, someone nearly the same speed as I was to my left and he kept drifting right, to my drifting left…. We were hitting each other so much I was expecting an elbow to my ribs or a punch thrown at any moment. I backed down. I let him swim ahead and I watched him swim to the inside of the buoy line. After that it was a pretty good swim, meaning I found feet when I could, I swam a good line and I wasn’t killing myself aerobically. On the way back to the shore, I spotted a cap from the wave behind us. I jumped on his feet…. For about 4 strokes.  I kept his kick in sight as long as I could for a directional aid tho’. I ended up using about 3 or 4 people from the wave behind me as a guide on the way to shore. The best news, when I stood up to get out, my legs didn’t cramp on me. Finally!!!
Swim: 38:00 for comparison in 2009 I swam a 33:27. This year IMMT 37:44.

Wetsuit stripping: I hope the kids weren’t offended that I didn’t go to them even tho they were waiting. I waited briefly for the only adult male I saw there. It went smoothly and I was headed for my bike. 
Running into T1
Bike: I plan to go really easy on the bike today. If I have the cramping issues I had at Mont Tremblant, I’ll likely never do another 70.3. I told Genine I planned to stay in my small front chain ring as much as possible.
I was in the 7th of 12 waves starting today. The later waves were equal to my age or younger so there were people passing me like I was standing still. I had read about how when racing an ironman, your bike ride should feel like the easiest ride you’ve done all year in terms of effort. Well, considering my training, I figured this was a good strategy to follow. So I kept my ego in check and watched what felt like 100’s of people pass me. I was being more than courteous to people that were approaching. I’d wait to pass until the really speedy people were around me. Which I thought was going to lead me into taking a penalty. We were on the way out, approaching an intersection, which had cones  out to separate us from the cars. I was looking to pass some slower riders and I looked over my shoulder to see others approaching. Well I think it was a group of 5-8 riders…. And a motorcycle with an official on it. When we reached the cones, it got really congested. I was definitely close to the slow cyclists who where ahead of me and to my left was this peloton of 5-8 going by and I’m watching the official on the motorcycle write down numbers onto his clipboard. I felt that he looked right at me as he wrote it down. At which point I thought to myself, this is going to be my slowest 70.3 bike and they are going to give me a penalty on top of it! Ah well, the group that was passing deserved it. If I got caught in the slow lane in a “draft” waiting to pass, that will teach me a lesson. (I didn’t get a penalty).
Shortly after that, I heard a siren behind me. Up ahead, I see a tangle of traffic and people off the road tending to someone. That always makes me nervous. A good reminder that safe is better than fast. (at least for me).
I spot Ed who started 15 minutes ahead of me just before I turned off of 106 towards the turnaround. I note the time and see how long it takes me to reach where he was. It was a bit of a guesstimate, but I was about even with him. That was encouraging. I really expected that he might beat me by 10 minutes or more today.
This next statement might give light to my lack of intensity. I think it is important that friends point out to THEIR friends, when it is time to replace their bike shorts or Triathlon bibs, as it is unlikely that they will be in front of a mirror in full sunlight. There were several people on the course today that their shorts, in full sun, were presenting a full moon to the people behind them. Not pretty. I know it’s a tough topic to bring up people but I’d appreciate it if you’d mention to them that it’s time for some new shorts/bibs.
 Once I got off of 106, I knew that I could probably get away with pushing a bit harder. As I was climbing the connecting road to 107, there were 2 kids on BMX bikes (or 20 inchers as they are called, I think). As I climbed by, I said “Race Ya!”. The younger of the 2 said “All Right!!!”. The older said “Noooo, you can’t do that”. Could have been a funny race to the top of the hill!
107 is a downhill bomb on somewhat iffy pavement. So perhaps a blessing in disguise, I had a few bikers ahead of me that were overly cautious and a car between them and me, there would be no bombing of 107 today.
Next we climb across Frank Bean road to 11. I passed quite a few people here. I started to feel good about my pacing decision. Then when I started to climb 11, I knew I wanted a clear road to bomb the downhill if possible. I passed enough people to create a gap ahead of me, then eased off a bit. At which point a couple people passed me but not very convincingly. So I passed them back as we neared the top an then FLEW down the hill. I don’t think I was passed again until I was in the no pass zone just before transition. That’s right. A QT2 person passed me, and the person ahead of me in the no pass zone going into transition. I get that we should have been going faster here but seriously, we are talking maybe a 5 second difference. I hope that was the difference of a podium for him….
3:08:18 .   2009 Timberman 3:06:36 (with a flat). Mont Tremblant 3:02:16
Liked the new Lizard Skins bar tape and CeeGee's aero pads!

Run: In my head I had 2 hours as my time goal. I realized that this would be difficult but I was hopeful that I might make up for time lost on the bike. (I was surprised that I finished my bike in 3:08:18, I was kind of expecting 3:15:xx).
Very early into my run, I see a pro woman approaching. Heather Wurtle. People are applauding and yelling. I figure she must be in first. Moments later I spot Cait Snow. She is FLYING. I shout “You can catch her!” I had a feeling that I’d like to see this finish line. (Cait came up 13 seconds short)
Back to me.
I didn’t have my footpod to track my pace. Nor did I bother to hit the lap button along the way. I just kept looking at my HR and it was low 170’s. Could I hold that for 13.1?
The first aid station I came to had a sign up. Pancakes and Bacon Ahead! Seriously, There was a 18” tall pile of bacon and dozens of pancakes on a table. I was very tempted to try the bacon but it was too early in the run. Not long after that, I came upon the best aid station in all of triathlon. (at least in my limited experience). The have a pile of ice shavings from the ice rink. So you can grab a snowball or two and put it wherever you think it would help the most. This is why I make sure I have a hat and not a visor at Timberman. The snowball under the hat is awesome.
As I was approaching the first turn around, I knew I should be seeing Ed soon. I saw him just as I left the highway and was heading into the neighborhood. I noted the time to see if I’ve made up anytime on him since the bike. I believe I came up with 10 minutes down with about 10 miles to go.
The way back to the park has some climbing. I was pushing along nicely right up to when you are about to leave the highway at mile 4. My right quad cramped. Not nearly as bad as what I dealt with at Mont Tremblant. I was able to start walking within a few seconds. I took this as my cue to dial the intensity down. That also meant that I decided to powerwalk the steepest hill on the course. Not a big deal, better than cramping up.
I get back to the park and am met with cheers from the McFaddens as I head out for loop two. I was tempted to ask how far ahead Ed was but figured I’d be better off just managing myself and not trying to push it.
As I reached the Pancake and Bacon table…. There was no bacon left on the table. The price you pay for being slow I guess. Fortunately, the snow pile up ahead was still in full operation. I can’t remember who I saw first heading in for lap 1 Ed’s son Dan or Genine. I think it was Genine. She was just pushing through it. Then when I saw Dan, he looked like he was doing just fine.
As I got to the end of the highway heading towards the final turn around, I figured I would soon be seeing Ed again. Only  I never saw him. I figured I must have been over confident in my pace and didn’t start watching for him early enough. I could have easily missed him at an aid station. Just keep running.
I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I had just run the entire way out once again without cramping, but the scene of the crime was just up ahead. Instead of tempting fate, I power walked that section. Kind of a bummer, but I’m going to call it game management. In golf you can go for the green and possibly drop it into the pond for a penalty, or you can lay it up and leave yourself an easy chip. There is a time when each of those decisions are the right choice. I took the easy layup. Then I was back running again. Oddly enough, just as I was approaching the steep hill again, I thought I saw Ed just up ahead on the hill. I knew running was going to be a bad choice. Fast walked the hill. The whole time thinking I’d be upset if I didn’t catch up, because at this point it would be fun to run to the finish line with him.
Once I got to the top of the hill, I couldn’t see him, I did see Genine headed the other way. I finally asked, “Have you seen Ed?” She said no, he’s got to be behind you. Now I’m really confused. Maybe Genine just missed him.
I get to the finish, no sprint down the chute or anything. I actually didn’t seem to have anyone nearby in front or behind me. The McFadden’s were cheering and I made it to the finish.
Run: 2:09:19   2009 2:09:54    Mont Tremblant 2:22:14

Total 6:01:31  2009 5:55:44 (with a flat).   Mont Tremblant 6:10:53

I’m going to say that Mont Tremblant is the more difficult bike course. Even so, I find it interesting that my slowing down by 6 minutes on the bike, made an enormous difference in being able to “run” without major cramping. Which saved me 13 minutes.
At first I found it surprising that my total time is only off by about 6 minutes compared to 2009. I think I weigh 15 pounds more than I did in 2009 and my swim was about 5-6 minutes slower this year. To be fair, I should subtract another 6 minutes from 2009 for the flat I fixed on the bike.

That may be it for triathlons in 2012. I have no inspiration to race Buckman or Skylands. I’m just not in the shape I should be in to make it really fun. Which is the big lesson for the year. If you want to see improvements, you’ve gotta be at race weight. Diet is going to the top of the list. It’s going to be more important than biking or swimming for awhile. 

NYC Marathon attempt is next. Maybe my pacing lesson can carry over to Marathon.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Working on the bikes.

A couple of weeks back I went into the bike shop where I typically have my work done. I certainly don’t go often, so it’s not like they know me. I’ve just been happy with the work they’ve done for me so I just kept going back.
This time I had a few easy things I wanted done. Replace the rear derailleur cable on both of our bikes and the rear brake cable. The housing may need to be changed on the brake cable.
As he was writing up the work order, he says “Alright so a tune up and a couple cables for each bike”.
“Tune Up? What is involved with that?”
“Oh we clean the chain, true the wheels… that type of stuff”
“And how much is that going to cost?”
“$70 per bike”
“Right, well that is unnecessary. In fact make a note that I don’t want to you make any adjustments to the Front Derailleurs as mine can be problematic and it’s working great right now”
“So just the cables”
“Well since you are just having cables done, I won’t be able to get to your bike until a week from…”
“I’d like to buy 2 derailleur cables and a brake cable, I’ll do it myself.”
“Alright, it’s just that we are really busy. There are only 2 of us”
“Not a problem”

So I leave with 3 cables costing me less than $15.
The thing is, I’ve never replaced the cables on my bike myself. I’m fairly certain that I could do it, but when I do something like this, I like to know all the details.
This is where I’m should be posting links to all the great videos on youtube showing how it’s done. Well, I didn’t look very long but I never found anything that was very good.
I’ve got a bike maintenance book but it didn’t have anything for bar end shifters…
The good news is we were headed to our hometown for a week off. I decided the best plan would be to go to the shop there to get some help. I might even be able to go in and do the work and have them give me pointers along the way. Except that it’s race week, so they are going to be busy. I stopped in anyway. I explained that I wanted to try to do the work myself but needed a backup plan in case I ran into trouble. They scheduled me in to drop by so they could check my work. Perfect!

I started by taking apart the shifter on my bike. (If I’m going to make mistakes, I’d feel better if it was on my bike and not Genine’s) Of course when I pull it apart, pieces have to fall out… I suppose the good thing is that I’ve now seen the entire shifter apart and I was able to put everything back into place. I then sent the new cable through and tightened it into place… a couple times until I got it in the right place.
Next the brake cable: I ran the new cable through and noticed it was still slow to release. So the problem was with the housing. The housing was catching, right where it enters the brake. Trimming off a small bit of that housing fixed that problem. The only other problem was that the cable end at the brake lever wasn’t the right shape. So I was going to have to buy another cable and run it again.

Now to Genine’s bike: I had to swap her rear derailleur cable as well. It was going to go easier than mine. Because once I had the shifter all pulled apart on mine, I realized that you don’t have to take the shifter apart to change the cable! Just shift into the smallest cog, release the cable from the RD. I cut it because it was so frayed and didn’t want to damage the housing when I pulled it through. Then just send the new cable through the front of the shifter.

Then her brake cable: It was also just a housing issue. A quick trim and she was back in business.

Next I headed to the bike shop to have them check the indexing and to get a few pointers.
My bike was up first.
First he swapped out my brake cable for the right barrel end. Then he checked out the rear derailleur. I had the indexing set well. The only part I missed was to “center” the barrel adjuster before tightening the cable down. This would assure me that I’d have adjustment in both directions.
As he was checking the indexing he noticed that the chain line was bad. This had been pointed out to me at 2 other bike shops in the past, but no solution was ever offered. I always figured the previous owner obviously crashed the bike badly, seeing how it had been repainted and the original derailleur was not on the bike. Well today, they pulled out a derailleur hanger adjustment tool and went about bending the hanger/frame back into alignment. It probably took less than 2 minutes. My guess is my chain catcher isn’t going to see much action now. (not that you can ever tell when the chain hits it). Good as new! He did warn me that bending the frame is trickier/more dangerous than adjusting a removable derailleur hanger.

Then Genine’s bike: Quick brake cable adjustment. Indexing looked good other than I didn’t center the barrel.  It was good to go.

I talked with him briefly about the squealing brake issue I’ve been having since I’ve put new brake pads on. He showed me how the front of the pad should hit should touch first at a very slight angle. It might be that I’ll have to take some sand paper to the one pad.

Total cost in parts + what they charged me to take a look at my work. Less than $40.  Money well spent seeing how I now know how to cable our Tri Bikes. 
The one tool I need to buy is a decent cable cutter. The cutters I have in my toolbox will be destroyed if I continue to try and cut bike cables with them. They can barely cut the cables. The money I saved will go towards buying this tool.

I also put new bar wrap on my bike. Yellow Lizardskins. I’ll admit that my cutting of the wrap wasn’t too fantastic but I can hide that under the tape. I'll revisit that step again when I have some time. I think my bike is going to be in better shape than I am at Timberman. Ha ha!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Matt's Kinzua Country Tango 2012 Race Report

The lead in to this year’s Tango was a bit crazy. Largely because we kept thinking that putting together a women’s relay team was possible. But there were also some injuries that limited the options of what everyone was going to be able to do.  I think I may have caused some stress/confusion because of this uncertainty. I guess because I was ready to do as much of the race as was necessary, I didn’t think of the fact that everyone else would feel better knowing what they were going to do and who they were going to be racing with. To give you an idea of how in flux the teams were, Genine’s team picked up their 4.5 mile runner a day or two before the race. The good news is that everything worked out. We also introduced 3 new people to the Tango.

Matt’s Team:
Chad Burns 13.1 (new to our teams but has run the Tango before)
Craig Cerra 20 Mile Bike (6th Year that Craig and I were on a team together)
Claudia 2.5 Mile Swim (Todd’s Daughter, 1st Tango Event)
Todd Olson and I Orienteering (Todd’s 2nd year, 1st year orienteering)
Christian 4.5 Mile Run (Todd’s Son, 1st Tango Event)
Craig and Todd 8.5 mile Canoe

Genine’s Team:
Marty Durnell 13.1
Scott Ferguson 20 Mile Bike (1st Tango Race)
Genine 2.5 Mile Swim
Jerry Johnson / Genine Orienteering
Amanda Costagnino 4.5 mile run (2nd appearance on our Tango team)
Scott/Jerry 8.5 Mile Canoe.

Marty was signed up to be Jim Robert’s support team. In order for Marty to help us out and run the 13.1, I had to jump in and help support Jim up until my event started. I was more than glad to do this. It turned out to be a good learning experience. There are a few things I would do differently had I the chance to do it over. I’ll speak more on that later.

I didn’t sleep well at all. Not sure if it’s because we had heard that the orienteering would be challenging this year, or because depending on how closely Jim races in comparison with my team, would determine how difficult it would be to support him.

Day started off low 70’s and very humid. It’s going to get hot fast today.

13.1 Run:  This is going to be a good race. Jim and Chris running the whole race today are shooting for a 1:45 run. Chad hopes to do better than this. Marty figures 1:50-2:00 range.
Chad was in the lead at the 9 mile mark which is right after the crossing of the dam. At the finish, Chris and Jim were there first at 1:47:00, Marty at 1:48:00 and Chad at 1:53:00.  This was a good start and set up the bike race well.

20 mile  Bike: Scott left about a minute before Jim and 5 minutes before Craig. Scott is on a fat tire 29er. Jim is on a fat tire mountain bike. Craig is on a Cyclocross bike but has an injured calf muscle.
We had to drive over to T2 which meant there was a chance we would see them out on the course, and we did. We saw Craig. Then very shortly after, we see Scott and Jim. Jim was directly in front of Scott just about to turn up to the road to Jake’s Rocks. Close race so far!
Jim arrived at the boat launch first. 1:43:00 split. Then about 5 minutes later Craig arrived with a 1:44:00 split. Claudia is going to get a head start on Genine for the swim.
Scott arrived about 12 minutes later with a 2:01:00 split and Genine starts her swim.

2.5 mile swim: Genine and I have not put as many laps in the pool this year, so I was curious to see where she would finish. 1:04:00 was her previous time. This being Claudia’s first year, I really had a hard time guessing how she would do. I had guessed a range of 60-90 minutes.
Genine finished in 1:04:00 again!! Claudia showed up about 8 minutes later having swum a 1:24:00! Which sounds similar to what most of us swam our first time. She should be pretty happy with that.

Orienteering: Genine and Jerry headed up the hill a few minutes ahead of us. She had to get out of her wetsuit and get into her running shoes, so it was less than an 8 minute lead.
Todd and I got our map. It was obvious which direction we had to go to start. As we went down to point 1, I was already concerned for my ankles. We passed Genine and Jerry on the way to point 2. I kept looking at the map deciding where to go after point 2. As we climbed our way through the rocks to point 2, I had decided I was going to take the easier route and go to point 3 next, rather than going through the woods.
Point 3 was on a steep slope near route 59. Getting down and back up from there was a challenge. Todd did a great job finding this point.  I just had to follow his lead. I did better going up than down. At this point, I was warmed up and moving well. Now it was time to run the trails!
We made good time running to point 4. We kept rolling towards point 5. As we reached the point where you’d leave the trail to find the point. I think we had just caught 3 or 4 other teams. It sounded like many of them had yet to do point 3 tho’. I wanted to stay ahead of all of them if possible. So on the way back out, we tried to push the pace.
I figured we’d see Jerry and Genine on the way back. They must have been on the other trail as we went by, so we didn’t see them. As we approached the rim rock parking lot there was a team ahead of us that I figured we needed to be in front of before we reached the stairs. With random sightseers, there was always a chance they could get between us on the stairs and they could gain time on us there. So we sprinted to the stairs and…. Of course there were 4 or 5 people walking down slowly. (it wasn’t awful, just feels like it when you know you are on the clock) Then to make matters worse. I was impatient at the bottom and cut across what I thought was the start of the trail. It wasn’t. So we had to jump down from a few large rocks to get back onto the trail to the beach. The tough part here is not to trip on the way down. I felt like we did well. Very little wasted time. We finished in 1:34:00 (1:22:00 was fastest time for the day Officially)

Now is when the day gets kind of crazy. We waited for about 2 hours for Genine and Jerry. They along with many others had a really hard time with point 5. They finished in 3:27:00 and that was not the worst time of the day by any stretch. There were 15 teams with times over 4 hours!! People were coming out of the woods Very dehydrated. I started to get very concerned for Jim. He was still out there as well.

4.5 mile run. Christian ran for our team and ran it in 39 minutes. Amanda ran for Genine’s team. (She gets the super patient award for the day.) She knocked out a 37 minute run.

I didn’t see the start or finish of either of our canoeing teams. I stayed up at the beach waiting to make sure Jim was alright. When he came out he was like so many of the others. Dehydrated! So he sat down and started to down fluids and get calories in. Eventually he decided he would keep going and we were headed down to the boat launch. (I’m hopeful that Jim will write something up on the blog).

When I got to the race finish. I saw that Jerry and Scott finished the canoe is 1:26:00 and Todd and Craig finished in 1:31:00.

Matt’s Team Total time: 8:45:00  About 12th place of 42 open relay teams unofficially
Genine’s Team Total Time: 10:23:00 About 30th of  42 open real teams unofficially

As always, it was a very fun day. It would be interesting to know how much fluid we went through in total. Our cooler alone we went through 14 32oz bottles of Gatorade and a 24 pack of 16 ounce bottles of water.

It’s also great to hear everyone already talking about next year. I have a feeling that our fastest times are yet to come!

I apologize for the lack of pictures. I didn't take the camera out of the bag the entire week I was in Warren. Which is quite disappointing considering the great weather.  Genine will have some photos or videos on her iPhone. Maybe she will post some of them.

Here is a link to the pro photos.

2012 Kinzua Country Tango Results. Unofficial/Partial. Hopefully full Tango results will be posted soon.
Final results update can be found on their website Click "official times" will look much better than my image here.