Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cycling the Atlanta Beltline

On Monday Susan and I took advantage of the nice weather and the Columbus Day holiday to take a trip to Piedmont Park in Atlanta. When we got to the park we met up with my step-daughter Lana and our grandson Jahshua. The plan was for Jahshua and I to take off on our bikes on the Atlanta Beltline and for Susan and Lana to walk.

Park Tavern
We started our adventure at the Park Tavern at the corner of 10th Street NE and Monroe Drive NE. As I prepared for the ride in my spandex tri-shorts Susan pointed out that Gay Pride was yesterday. Haha, she's so funny! She obviously doesn't know that the ladies enjoy seeing a 50-something year old guy in spandex. Note my new CliC glasses around my neck.

Me and Jahshua
Jahshua led the way as we meandered along the beltline among the throng of runners, walkers and dog walkers, mom's pushing strollers, and other cyclists. What an awesome asset for the city the beltline has become. We were cautious at the numerous street crossings as we stopped to take a picture here and there.

Waiting to cross Moreland Drive near Freedom Parkway
Jahshua going for some sprint points
A picture of me beside one of the larger pieces of art
As Jahshua and I rode around Susan took more pictures of the art.

More art
Art under a bridge
Still more art - DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE!
And more art
We ate at Pure Taqueria which is just off of the beltline in Inman Park.  The chips, salsa, and jalapeno cheese dip were great. My sandwich was a little bland. Susan said the same about her tacos.

Jahshua, Susan, and Lana
Cuban sandwich, rice and charros
Fish tacos and black beans
Fish tacos, rice and charros
Fish tacos, salad and black beans
After lunch Jahshua and I took off again as Susan and Lana stopped at some shops on their return trip to Piedmont Park.

Round two of our adventure after lunch
The Atlanta Skyline
After we returned home I hit the trainer again. I rode 21 miles, 5 easy miles, 5 harder miles, 5 easy, 5 harder, and a 1 mile cool down.  That's up from my previous trainer riders that I limited to one hour.
Baby steps folks, baby steps.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Kona Slot - Can I do it?

As the excitement of watching live streaming video from the 2015 Kona Ironman Championship passes, my thoughts turn to grabbing a Kona slot for myself. To do that I'll have to best a field of what will undoubtedly be a host of well trained and experienced triathletes.  All anyone can do is their best and that's what I plan to do. Not only is qualifying dependent upon ones fitness, but it's also a numbers game. Will my fitness put me in a position to receive one of the few available slots allocated for my age-group and will there be enough participants in my age-group to receive ample slots. 

The 2015 Ironman Chattanooga race, often referred to as IMChoo or IM Chatt, has just finished and I'm registered to race there next year. With that in mind I thought I'd try to find out who qualified for the Kona slots in the 2015 race for my age-group and if there was any rolldown.  A rolldown is when a finisher completed the race and qualifies for a Kona slot but chooses not to accept.  The slot then moves on to the next eligible participant. Each age-group is allotted a certain number of slots depending upon the number of eligible participants who finished the race in that age-group.  Ironman has a formula for the whole thing.  Some age-groups receive 1 slot and others may receive 3 slots.  Different races have varying numbers of slots.  In the case of Ironman Chattanooga there are 50 available Kona slots to spread across 12 age-groups and both genders.  Below is a list from the 2015 IMChoo awards presentation and Kona slots allocation ceremony which took place on the Monday after the race. The information was provided by an attendee at the ceremony and posted the slot information on the SlowTwitch.com forum. One must attend the ceremony to accept the slot. The folks at World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owner of the Ironman branded races, won't

The list below is the age-groups followed by the gender and the finishing position at the 2015 IM Choo race for those participants who received a Kona slot.  For example for the 50 to 54 age-group male competitors, Kona slots went to the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th place finishers.  The 3rd place finisher either declined the slot or didn't attend the ceremony therefore the slot rolled down to allow the 5th place finisher to collect the 4th and final available slot. As you can see, only 3 age-groups rolled down, 18-24, 35-39, and 50-54 all in the men's divisions.  If one were to add all the 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s they would see they add up to 50.
2015 Ironman Chattanooga Kona Slot Allocations by Age-Group, Gender & Place
25-29w-1st, 2nd
25-29m-1st, 2nd
30-34w-1st, 2nd
30-34m-1st, 2nd, 3rd
35-39w-1st, 2nd, 3rd
35-39m-1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th
40-44w-1st, 2nd, 3rd
40-44m-1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
45-49w-1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
45-49m-1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
50-54w-1st, 2nd
50-54m-1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th
55-59w-1st, 2nd
55-59m-1st, 2nd
70-74w-only 1 finisher, declined slot, reallocated to 45-49w
75-79w-0-not sure which AG this was reallocated to
75-79m-0-not sure which AG this was reallocated to
The allocation of slots at IMChoo was further complicated by the fact that those who wore wetsuits for the swim segment were ineligible to receive awards or Kona slots. They were still eligible to received finisher's medals. Only those who swam without wetsuits were eligible for age-group awards and Kona slots. The decision to make a race wetsuit legal or not is solely dependent upon water temperature. A water temperature warmer than 76.2 degrees is the cutoff.
 *athletes who choose to wear a wetsuit in water temperatures between 76.2 degrees Fahrenheit (24.55 degrees Celsius) and 83.8 degrees Fahrenheit (28.8 degrees Celsius) will not be eligible for age Group awards, including IRONMAN World Championship slots or Rolldown slots.
In this race 601 athletes chose to swim with a wetsuit and 1653 athlete chose to swim without. That's a total of 2254 participants on race day including those that Did Not Finish (DNF) or were Disqualified (DQ). That total is only 84 percent of the original 2674 participants who registered to race. So, 420 people paid $700, or $1,400 for an Ironman Foundation slot, to register for this race but chose not to compete.

2015 Ironman Chattanooga Top 10 Finishers in the 55-59 Male Age-Group 
More specifically, these three participants all finished in the top 10 percent overall. You'll note that the difference in Mr. Lewis' finish time and that of Mr. Gutowski is over 50 minutes. Mr. Swartzel finished only 5 minutes after the second place finisher but since the Kona slots didn't rolldown he was out of luck.

2015 Ironman Chattanooga Male 55-59 A/G 1st Place Finisher Results
2015 Ironman Chattanooga Male 55-59 A/G 2nd Place Finisher Results
2015 Ironman Chattanooga Male 55-59 A/G 3rd Place Finisher Results
I post these results to remind myself what is required for me to gain one of these coveted Kona slots and that I won't know if I even have a chance unless I attend the awards ceremony. Unfortunately Ironman doesn't post the names of those who received Kona slots as they did in years past.  Now, those who are interested have to do a bit of investigative work. It's not a big deal. I just like knowing what to expect before race day.

I guess what I can glean from this is I need to finish the race in about 10:30.  Subtract about 10 minutes for transitions and that leaves 10:20 of racing. I'm not expecting my swim to improve much so lets go with a 1:05 there.  That leaves 9:15 for the running and cycling. I may be optimistic but I'm hoping for an average speed of 22 mph on the bike. That puts the bike right at 5 hours which leaves just 4:15 minutes for the run. It sounds so easy!

I give massive kudos to Mr. Lewis, Mr. Gutowski, and Mr. Swartzel for an awesome race. I hope I can do as well next year.

2011 Ironman Florida Results
2013 Ironman Florida Results
To boost my self esteem I've included my 2011 and 2013 Ironman Florida results.  For some reason my 2013 results don't show my swim time. They were combined in my T-1 time. I know I completed that wetsuit legal swim segment in just over 1:20:00. Taking into account that the Chattanooga swim is downstream and my swim pace at the 2013 Ironman August 70.3, also with  the current, was 1:29/100m means I could have a chance. If I could just use my run time from 2011 and my bike time from 2013 I think Susan and I could be on our way to Kona.

Everyone who has done an Ironman knows that these races are just and much mental as they are physical. Right now I'm working on the mental part by asking myself - Can I do it?

Maybe I'm over thinking this. Nah!!!

Thanks for reading.

Update: The World Triathlon Corporation has decided to reduce the number of available slots in next year's IMChoo race from 50 to 40.  Well that's gonna change things a bit!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

First Road Ride in Months

I completed my first ride on the road since July yesterday. That ride was an unimpressive 13 mile jaunt around Lake Spivey and Lake Jodeco with a side tour through the golf club. This ride was a perfect warm-up for my Chattanooga training.  My route had plenty of hills and little traffic considering the time of day. Unfortunately I messed up my Garmin and only captured a portion of the 35 mile, 2 hour and 15 minute ride. I know my pace wasn't what it once was but that just means there's room for improvement.
During a brief stop at a Rockdale County trail park I found a port-a-potty with my name on it. Maybe it's a sign.

The kind folks at Tara Garden Chapel and Sherwood Memorial Park & Mausoleum must have seen the results from my ride.  They sent a rush solicitation to my mailbox with an invitation to enjoy complimentary meal.

Dignity Memorial
I guess the folks at the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) don't love me anymore.

Today I walked 5 miles and rode the trainer for 30 minutes.

Trainer Ride
I'm feeling the pounds melt away (because I'm starving from this stupid diet).

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fat Fight!

My wife has decided that we're going on a diet. For the next 30 days or so there will be no cookies, pie, donuts or even alcohol. I know, that's going too far! Coffee will be black or with a little milk and sugar but no Half & Half. We'll see how long this lasts.

To get this project started Susan and I did some grocery shopping at Your Dekalb Farmers Market in Decatur, Georgia.  We've shopped there for years. Starting when we lived close by in north Decatur. Now that we live 30 miles away on Atlanta's south side we make the trip about once every two weeks to stock up.

The shopping cart shows a host of veggies but fear not, we also bought some meat. We are not going veterinarian or vegan.
The reduced caloric intake from all these plants accompanied with increased workouts should give the spare tire around my waist a run for its money. I upped my training run distance 13% from 6.2 miles (10K) to 7 miles today. Just adding 0.8 miles burns an additional 60 to 80 calories.  I'll run this new distance for a few weeks until my pace improves.

Pomegranate mocktails
To celebrate our better dietary choices Susan made us some Pomegranate mocktails using Pom Hula, club soda, and lime.

Salmon dinner
Susan made King Salmon fillets w/pesto, fresh organic steamed spinach, brown rice, and a side dish of baked Roma tomatoes, with basil, and a Parmesan cheese crust.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 5, 2015

1 Hour Trainer Rides

I've seen some improvement in my four recent 1 hour bike trainer sessions.  My first three sessions, similar to my recent training runs, showed faster average speeds with each subsequent ride.  The fourth ride was done after mowing my lawn and an adjacent wooded area for 3 hours so I decided not to push it.

Last four 1 Hour Trainer Rides on Garmin Connect

If nothing else I'm increasing my metabolism and burning calories with no risk of getting killed out on the road.  I'm building a base and working toward losing those 20-lbs of extra fat that will keep me from being competitive.

Incidentally, I use a CyclOps JetFluid Pro trainer with the climbing block and training mat.  A Cyclops Bike Thong is also a must. I'm not one who sweats a lot but without a fan to cool me off I tend to sweat a bit more than is probably good for my bike.  I usually lay a few dry wash clothes over the thong to protect my bike even more and wipe the sweat from my face when needed.  That's usually how I knock my glasses off of my head.

CyclOps JetFluid Pro bike trainer
I'm on my way to a winter of fun filled trainer rides.

I'm still waiting to get into the water for the first time in months.  Unlike 2013 I won't be focusing on the swim for Ironman Chattanooga.  I swam over 100 miles in the open water that year with little improvement.  My mechanics are too far gone to worry about.  I'm a confident middle-of-the pack (MOP) swimmer so it's the bike and run where I'll put my attention during the next 12 months.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

CliC Reading Glasses

About a decade ago I finally succumbed to the first signs of aging. I started to lose my perfect vision. So goes the vision, then goes the memory.  I'll get to that in a minute. In May I was crawling out from under the cover of my little boat at the dock on Lake Spivey when my expensive pair of prescription Oakley glasses fell off my head and into the lake. I saw them hit the water and quickly grabbed for them. I was too slow. Fortunately I knew exactly where they went in and the water was only about 4 feet deep. I hopped into the water and felt around in what I found to be a maze of sticks, pine cones, rocks, and mud. I couldn't find them after about twenty minutes of searching. I gave up and vowed to return with a rake or some other tool to improve my chances of recovery. I returned two weeks later with a rake and waterproof flashlight. I jumped in the water and started my search anew. Neither of these tools helped my search. All I did was stir up the mud. I tossed the rake and flashlight aside and used my bare hands to feel around for the glasses in the mud. Eventually I found them about 5 feet from where I thought they should be.

Recovered Oakley Prescription Glasses
Only then did I realize that when I jumped into the lake I wearing my trusty CliC glasses around my neck.  Somehow while I was in the lake they came off of my head.  Now I had lost that pair of glasses. If only I had remembered I was wearing them. I didn't even look for them.

The CliC glasses fill a niche. I find that they're great for wearing on the bike trainer because they won't fall off when I'm sweaty and rocking to and fro.  And, I can't see my bike computer well without glasses.  I wrote about the CliCs in 2013 in my blog - Glasses for the Trainer.  If my regular style glasses fall off I've either got to stop to recover them or continue my ride without them.  Neither of these options are optimal.

Now that winter is coming (GoT reference) I'll be on the bike trainer even more. Especially since I've registered for two big races next year.  So, I needed a new pair of trainer readers.  The local pharmacy where I purchased my previous pair of CliC glasses doesn't sell them anymore and I wasn't able to find a local vendor so I turned to Amazon.com.  For about $30.00 I ordered a new pair of CliC glasses using the magnification specified on a pair of cheap and heavy readers I had laying around the house.

Tag (inside)
Tag (front and back)
Close-up view of the glasses
Magnet at the bridge
Temples at their shortest
Temples at their longest
I know these are just reading glasses but they're the only readers that when you see a perfect stranger wearing them, in a restaurant for example, you're likely to offer an unsolicited comment about them.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Taking Advantage of the Downhills

8th Annual Lake Spivey Road Race
I would be lying if I said the Lake Spivey Road Race (LSRR) 15K was a flat or fast course.  Often race directors will describ a course as "fast" or "PR ready" to attract runners.  PR is runner lingo for personal record, also known as personal best (PB).  The LSRR 15K course is not that kind of race course.  The route has runners skirting around two lakes, Lake Spivey and Lake Jodeco, the course undulates up and down like waves on the ocean.  Runners accelerate down into the trough to just above the lake's waterline and then back up to crest the next hill, then down and up again for the duration.  It's a perfect storm of heart pounding uphill climbs followed by knee busting downhills.

The course has 597 feet of elevation gain in its short 9.3 miles around the lakes.  The worst of which, in my opinion, is the steep downhill at mile marker 2 on Lost Valley Drive at the marina.  The short 0.07-mile, steep 10.7% downhills grade should be approached with caution lest your knees will pay the consequences.  The worst uphill might be the 0.4-mile long 4% grade from below the dam at around the 3-mile point to the top of the hill just before Jodeco Road.  It's not a steep climb but the hill seems to go on forever.  Neither of these should discount the steady stream of ups and downs on Jodeco Drive and Emerald Drive, both roads are on the south side of the lakes between mile markers 4 and 8.

I've often thought about what is the best way to tackle such a challenging course and after reading an magazine article recently I realize that I've been doing it all along. The article in Runner's World magazine is Kill the Hills written by Alex Hutchinson.

What Mr. Hutchinson stated in his article and what I've tried to do when I run is to take advantage of the downhills.  Everyone suffers to some degree on the up hills but it's on the down hill side of the climb where some runners tend to maintain that slower pace and where runners that have trained properly can benefit.

To take advantage of the downhills I will 1) improve my fitness, and 2) stretch.  That should lengthen my stride and improve my pace by minimizing breaking as I go downhill.

As I raced in the Hill Country Trail Run 15K last year two weeks after the Lake Spivey race I saw some of the downhill racing improvements I've been looking for.  As I neared the 7 mile mark I could hear a runner right behind me.  He was there one minute as I climbed up a hill but then I'd hear him fade away as we descended.  This happened several times until he eventually passed me.  I gave him kudos to which he replied - you'll just pass me on the next downhill.  He was wrong.  I didn't see him again but it was still nice to hear.

The 2015 Lake Spivey Road Race is Saturday, October 10th, 2015.

Thanks for reading.

Seeing some Improvement

It's been exactly 3 weeks since I started training again.  So far I've only run 6.2 miles during each of my four recent outings all of which were on the same course.  My first run, post hernia surgery, was on September 23rd.  I ran that day at a pace of 9:31 minutes per mile.  During today's run my pace was 8:15 minutes per mile.  A significant improvement.  I've been wary of causing any injury and have started to notice a bit of pain in my right ankle.  My poor ankles are having to haul around a 20-lbs heavier me.  Today was also my first run sans spandex.  I wore a new pair of running shorts I picked up yesterday on sale at the local Nike store.  They get a thumbs up on my first run.

My one hour bike trainer rides are also improving.  It feels good to get back on the hamster wheel.  More on that later.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

2016 Ironman Chattanooga 140.6 Training Plan

Two weeks before my training for the 2016 Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 triathlon ends my training for the full 140.6 Ironman race starts.  My taper for the 70.3 race may suffer a bit but, as they say, it's better to be 10-percent under-trained than 5-percent over-trained.  This plan is 20-weeks in duration.  It starts on Monday, May 9th and ends on Sunday, September 25th which is race day.

If you perused through my 2016 Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 Training Plan blog you can see that there are about 230 total hours of training.  That gets bumped up to 306 hours in the 140.6 plan.  The least stressful weeks are weeks one and two of this plan which have 10 hours and 45 minutes of swimming, cycling, and running.  Week seventeen has a daunting 20 hours and 15 minutes of workouts.  A common joke among triathletes is if you're still in a relationship on race day then you probably didn't train enough.  I won't push the limits of my wife's patience to that extreme.

20-Week Workout Chart of Hours

Weeks 1 through 7

Weeks 8 through 12

Weeks 13 through 16

Weeks 17 through 20

Here's a link to my 2016 Ironman Chattanooga 140.6 Training Plan (Link removed) in .pdf format.  Feel free to download the plan and use it at your own risk.

Good luck to all my fellow Chattanooga Ironman racers.

Thanks for reading.