Wednesday, September 9, 2015


I probably shouldn't write about this, since it's kinda personal, but it’s been on my mind. 
 I have done 5 races since I started down this road.  Only 2 have I had anyone there to cheer me on.  I know Jen would be there with the girls if she could, but due to our financial situation we both work A LOT.  This last Sunday was her first day back working at the Campus so obviously she couldn’t get the time off.  Jen’s parents watched the girls for us.  It would have been nice to see them at the finish line, but there is no way that they would ever do something like that.  I probably shouldn’t call them out like that but it hurts that they wouldn’t go to the effort to have them watch their Dad compete.  The girls love watching us do these kinds of things. 
The other part of this that bothers me is before the race, seeing everyone with friends and family talking and laughing and encouraging each other, seeing all the signs out on the course and then cheering them on at the finish and hanging out.  I really don’t have any true friends.  And the only family that is somewhat local to me is Jen’s.  On Facebook I say a lot of stupid things at stupid times.  And in person I am shy, quiet and somewhat socially awkward.  So I get that it’s hard to like people like me.  I’ve accepted it and most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but its times like this that it hits me the hardest.

2015 Des Moines Tri race report


Time: 37.06

The water temp was 82 degrees.  Which made it a non-wetsuit legal swim.  Didn’t mean much to me since I don’t own a wetsuit.  After a 10 minute delay the Pro’s took off.  Then we all lined up for a wave start.  I was in the water by 7:30.  My goal was to keep an easy steady pace.  I always worry about the swim because I really can’t train properly for it.  The gym’s pool is 25 yards.  I don’t know how to do a swimmers turn so I get that 1-2 second rest at each end as I turn around.
I really like wave starts.  With only 4-5 people in your wave you tend to not have people swimming over you and getting kicked or punched.  The only time I had to contend with others was at the turn buoys.  I really felt good during my swim.  I found in my first tri last year that if you fall behind in your breathing or go to hard it’s easy to run short of breath and it’s very hard to recover since you can only breathe so much with your face in the water.  Although I had planned to go to backstroke if I ever needed to catch up on my breathing.  Luckily I felt good the entire swim and never had to do this.

I really only had two issues on my swim.  My right arm must be significantly stronger than my left because I kept drifting to the right.  I suppose this is probably similar for everyone.  It would make sense that your dominate arm is stronger.  The other issue is the last half of the swim headed directly into the sun.  With the humidity my goggles started fogging over and with the sun just rising it’s near impossible to see.  Even with tinted lenses.  I basically had to follow the people in front of me and hope that they are tracking a good line.

Overall I was very happy with my swim.  In the pool I had been averaging 40 minute miles so to come ahead of that by 3 minutes despite not having that brief rest before every turn and the slight added distance from getting back on course when I veered off really made me feel good.



Time: 3:45
I really need to work on my first transition times.  You come out of the water and you have to go up a hill.  I kind of do a fast shuffle, my legs are like jelly from kicking for the last 37 minutes and then you have to run on grass which can be slick from the water to your bike.
I also can find ways to cut time at the bike.  I sit, rinse my feet, dry them and put socks on.  This all takes a lot of time.  I would be willing to experiment going without socks, but I absolutely have to clean them off.  I’m like the Princess and the Pea.  If I have even a single blade of grass on my feet I would feel it and it would bug the heck out of me the rest of the race.  I also put my bike gloves on.  I could easily do without but if you crash on the bike the first thing you tend to do it put your hands out.  I guess I’ve always been willing to lose that 30 seconds to keep the skin on my hands.  J  I ate a Honey Stinger gel and headed out.



Time: 1:24:26

17.6 mph avg
Exit transition and I’m on the bike.  In the briefing they said no passing while still in the park.  Well a person in front of me was doing about 15 mph and I quickly caught up to them doing about 20.  I wasn’t going to go the quarter mile or so at that pace so I called out and zoomed by.  Hit the road and was feeling good.  The first loop had you going east down by the Science Center.  After a short hill it’s pretty flat and you can hit a pretty good speed.  I don’t have a Tri watch so I have to guess but I bet I was easily doing about 21 mph average for the first 5 mile loop.  As you get back to the park you take a left into Water Works Park.  Again it was flat and allowed for some good speed.  About a mile into the park there was a few people sitting on the side.  Not sure what happened.  Since it was a group I figured they crashed but no one was showing any real concern so hopefully there were no injuries.
We exited Water Works and headed west on Park Ave.  A couple train tracks that were well marked and had carpet laid over then.  When we got to 28th we headed south.  This was really the only difficult part.  From Park to Army Post was practically uphill the entire time.  It’s not overly steep so it normally wouldn’t be a problem but there was a pretty stiff head wind we had to contend with.  I don’t know what the official wind speed was but I heard one person say it was about 12 mph.  A more aero bike or even just aero bars probably would have helped me out here.  I did my best to keep my speed up but unfortunately I was under 15 mph for this section and did dip down to 10 mph a few times.
At Army Post we turned east again till a turn around.  Right about here was also the half way point.  I ate another Honey Stinger Gel and tried to regain some time I lost in the wind.  This section had a few rolling hills.  I kinda hooked up with another lady in this section.  It was kind of fun.  Since she was much lighter and smaller she could power up the hills much easier than me.  But with my weight advantage my momentum would rocket me past her.  A few times when she would pass me she would say see you on the downhill and I would yell out as I passed her going down that I would see her going back up.  Sometimes we would hit the bottom together and would talk a bit before the next hill.
Coming back to Park it was time to crank it up again.  The final legs was on George Flagg Pkwy.  I really was not looking forward to this section at all because it is really rough.  Luckily there was not very many people around me and I was able to pick relatively clean lines.  I easily was able to do 22 mph.  I could have went harder but I’ve had trouble in the past with my legs cramping at the start of the run from going too hard on the bike.
Overall I was just ok with my ride.  If I didn’t have that head wind I probably could have done it a lot faster.  Aero bars would help a lot I think and I really need some new wheels.  The ball and cone style bearings are pitting pretty bad from the added stress of pulling the girls in the Burley (my weight probably doesn’t help much either if I’m going to be honest).  I’d really like to get a good wheel set with replaceable cartridge style bearings.  I was also bummed that the group that always fries up bacon and hands it out during the bike leg where not here this year.  I grabbed it last year and honestly it helped and was a fun addition to the ride.



Time: 1:59
I’m pretty happy with my time here.  Got the bike racked, change to my running shoes, and ate another Honey Stinger gel.  I did take about 10 seconds or so to look over my stuff.  I felt like something was missing.  Didn’t see anything so headed out.  About 100 feet outside of transition I realized I forgot my race belt.  It holds your race bib.  I was worried that I might get pulled off the course for not having it.  I almost turned around and jump the fence to go get it.  I decided to forge on and deal it with it later if anyone said anything.



Time: 1:15:41

12:13 min/mile avg.
The biggest issue I have add in my last two tri’s was my calves cramping up at the beginning of the run.  Not a full on cramp but enough to know that if I stopped they would clench up.  They always pulled out in about a quarter mile but it still slowed me down.
This year I didn’t have that problem.  I think dropping a Nuun tablet in the water bottle on the bike helped.  Since I didn’t have much time to train and was heavier than last year my plan for the run was to try and keep a steady, easy pace.  In my two weeks of training I tried to run for endurance, rather than speed.  My goal was to at least run the first three miles and then run/walk the remainder if needed.
By the time I hit the run the heat and humidity was in full force.  I was relatively dry after the bike, but it didn’t take long before I was covered in sweat.
The beginning of the run was going pretty good.  However, I had to pee.  I actually had to pee since the beginning of the bike.  I considered just peeing in the woods along the trail but figured there would be a porta-potty at the mile 2 aid station.  I slowed up and realized it was occupied so I walked through the aid station and grabbed a water and Gatorade.  Probably walked less than 20-30 feet.  Mile three was right at Mullets. I thought about stopping again but that porta-potty was in the parking lot, which was about 20 feet away down a small incline.  I didn’t feel like messing with that so on I went.  While going over the bridge into downtown I just couldn’t hold it any long.  I stepped behind one of those large concrete planters and went.  Sometimes being a guy has its advantages.  ;)
I really was feeling pretty good overall so I kept on running.  Starting at mile 4 the aid stations also had ice.  I would grab an ice and two waters.  Pour once cup of water over my head, pour the other into the ice.  Take a few drinks and then pour the rest over my head.  Whatever ice was left I put down my top.  Since the top is skin tight it held the ice right on my chest.  Not sure it actually cooled my core down but it felt cool so I have the perception it did. 
Pretty soon I hit Locust and headed east.  As we got close to the Capitol we turned south for a block and then west again.  Did the same routine at mile 5, hit the turn around and same thing with the water at mile 6.  Immediately after mile 6 was Capitol Hill.  The only real hill on the run course.  It could have been Mount Everest, there was no way in hell I was going to walk any portion of that .2 miles after I swam a mile, biked 25 miles and then ran 6 miles.
Turned left at the top of the hill and was in the finish shoot.  The finish was really cool.  I loved the medal!  Turned in my chip and it was over.  My official time was 3 hours, 22 minutes and 56 seconds.  I fully expected to be closer to the 4 hour mark and if I was, would have been total happy with that.  The fact that I beat my expected finish time by 36 minutes was really awesome!  I know where I need to improve and I think with some more weight loss and proper training I think a sub 3 hour time should be easily attainable.  But this is a great baseline of what I am capable off.
I am upset about one thing.  I went to get a printout of my race results and they could not find me.  I was kinda freaking out that my timing chip didn’t register.  After searching for my name they finally found me.  I transposed my number!  This means along with forgetting my race bib, the number on my arm was incorrect which means any pictures of me by the race photographers will not reach me.  Hopefully I can contact someone at the photography company and see if they can search on my incorrect number.
On my FB feed I saw a lot of people complaining about the heat.  It was hot, Well into the 90's.  I don't know what the humidity level was though.  I do think I had an advantage in this regard though.  First I trained pretty hard the two weeks before.  Also, my part time job at the mill has me working outside.  I think my body is naturally accustomed to the heat so I was able to tolerate it more than others.
I have to take a moment and talk about the management and volunteers.  This was a really well put together race overall.  Everyone was really helpful and knew what was going on at all times.  And there is no way the run would have happened without the volunteers.  All the aid stations were well staffed and they were on their game at everyone.  They were out there in that heat handing out water, Gatorade and ice for probably 6 hours.  That can be just as tough as those of us doing the race!

I really had a great time!  The fact that I was able to knock this race out so easily with a minimal amount of training shows that I have a lot of potential to improve.  I hope to make this a yearly event and can't wait to see what I can do next year!

2015 Des Moines Tri pre-race

I had not intended of participating in any event this year.  Due to the birth of my daughter, Summer, I just didn’t have the time or the energy to train.  Also, ever since a medication change last fall I regained the 20 lbs. I had lost last year.  I just wasn’t feeling like doing much of anything.

I hadn’t even gotten out on the bike just for fun much either.  Typically I pull the girls in the Burley about 500 miles a year.  As of today I am just shy of 100 miles.  Sometime around the end of July I decided to work on my weight loss again so I started running a bit.  Usually only once a week, but it was something.  I had not been in the pool all year.

A little over 2 weeks before the Des Moines Tri, Jen got a message from a friend that she had won an entry though work.  Since she had no use for it she asked Jen if we were interested.  I figured since it was free, why not?  The DSM Tri offered both a Sprint and an Olympic distance this year.  Since Hy-Vee was shortened to Sprint due to weather last year I threw caution to the wind and signed up for the Olympic.  Go big or go home, right?

Since I had exactly two weeks to train I decided to go with the same plan I did last year.  Concentrate on swim and run.  In two weeks I swam 4 times, a mile each time, and ran 5, running 6 miles each time.  3 of those runs where with 2 of the girls.  Pushing 60 lbs. is good resistance training.  J  I also did one day of bike.  It was a 60 mile ride with a local group of people that regularly train for Ironman’s.  About 30 miles in I was unable to keep up and got dropped.  I was a little disappointed as this was supposed to be an easy, taper ride for them.  More than anything I hate riding alone on the road.  Too many a-holes in cars.  After a piece of pizza and a little pity party I continued on my own route and finished the ride.

It was a pretty difficult two weeks.  When you work two jobs, have three kids, one of which is a new born and working around Jen’s schedule (she teaches swim lessons a couple nights a week), made for some very long days for me and short tempers at home from everyone.

On the day of packet pick-up I had to work at the mill in the morning.  That was the deal I made with Jen’s parents so they would watch the girls while Jen worked and I participated in the Tri.  After work I grabbed lunch and headed down to packet pick-up.  Race briefings were every hour.  Since I have about 30 minutes to kill before the next meeting I headed up to the Expo.  Since Jen likes to do some of the more popular running races I have been to many Expo’s all over the Midwest.  They tend to be very large with lots of vendors and free samples.  I had been to the expo several times back when it was Hy-Vee and now this one and they have always been very small.  I would guess maybe a dozen tables?  Surprisingly Bike World was the only bike shop and the guy manning the table seemed very put out that he had to spend his entire day there.  I figured Discount Tri Supply would be there since they are local.  I left with an empty bag and proceeded down to the briefing.

After briefing I headed back to check-in to get my packet and swag.  Again the swag was a little disappointing this year.  Last year we got a kick-ass backpack, a bike jersey, sunglasses and all kinds of product samples.  I’ve actually started using a lot of those products because I got to try them out first.  This year we got a long sleeve dry-fit shirt (I hate long sleeve) and a pretty crappy bag filled with advertisements.  I’m probably complaining to much for getting a free entry but it’s the same management company so the bar was set pretty high last year.  It just kind of adds to the fun and excitement I guess.

During the briefing I started to get nervous.  I was 20 lbs. heavier than last year, I did about 1/100th the training of last year, it was forecasted to be in the 90’s with humidity and I was going to do double the distance of last year.  I was a little worried about finishing.

I then drove down to Gray’s Lake to drop off my bike.  I always like walking around the bike corral.  I like to drool over the fancy bikes.  It’s probably the only place you will see a $20,000 full carbon tri-bike sitting next to a $150 rusted out Wal-Mart special. 

I went home, mowed the yard and had dinner.  Hit the bed about 9 pm.  I really had a hard time sleeping.  My phone was soon buzzing at 4:45 and I remember why races are not really my thing.  I hate getting up in the morning.  I’m not sure if it’s a proper pre-race meal but I had two hard boiled eggs and a Bonk Breaker bar that I had gotten for free along with a large glass of water.  I had packed up my bag the night before and was already in the truck so I wouldn’t forget it so I filled up three water bottles and another glass of water and was out the door.

I left about 5:30 and it was already 80 degrees according to my truck and you could feel the humidity. I got to Grey’s lake much earlier than last year when we had to park about as far away as you could and had to rush to get my stuff set-up before transition closed.  It was so nice to be able to take my time to set up all my stuff at a leisurely pace.  I had my stuff set up by 6:30 so I sat down to relax and eat my banana.  About 6:45 I headed over to the start.  Due to the heat they had extra water so I grabbed one and ate my Honey Stinger waffle.

Am I back?

So I kinda figured this would happen doing a blog.  I would start out strong, get busy, loose interest, blah, blah, blah....

I'm really not a writer.  I can string some words together in a halfway intelligent manner, but I really don't enjoy it.

I did think about doing a write up of the races I ran, mainly just so I had something to reference back to or if my girls ever were interested.  But I never got up the energy to do so. 
Anyways, I just did the Des Moines Tri so I figured I would write that up at least.  Hopefully you enjoy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Weather Teaser

I feel a little weird writing about this now that it's back in the 30's but we finally got some awesome weather.  Sunday and Monday were great.  I think it got into the upper 40's or low 50's on Sunday and high 60's on Monday.

I wanted to get out on Sunday but I really needed to get the cars cleaned up also.  I also had to be at work by 2:30 and Jen got off at 2 so I really didn't have any time.
So Monday was going to be the day.  I really wanted to get on the bike but the kids had swim lessons at 6:30 and there just wouldn't be enough time to get everything ready and still have time to get in any decent mileage.  So I decided to do my first real run outside.  I've been kind of worried how I would do since outside is on pavement and has inclines vs. the cushy and perfectly level track.

I stopped at home because Jen needed her sandals and also changed.  Then I drove to the gym and was going to start from there.  I'm not exactly sure of my distance because I don't have one of those fancy GPS watches but Jen claims I ran about 3.5 miles.  For the Altoona people I ran from the Campus to the bridge on the Gay Lea Wilson trail and then had to run home.   I forgot Jen's sandals.  Opps.  We live in Eagle Ridge and the trail connects to the back of our subdivision.  It's pretty awesome having a trail entrance right off our back door.  Sandals in hand I ran back to the campus.  Did all that in about 40 minutes.  If the distance is accurate I ran about a 9:30-10 minute pace.  On the track I was doing a 9-9:30 pace.  So not to bad for my first time out.  I will say that the route I took was pretty flat.  The only real incline was the street behind my house.  I'll need to start running some sections that have some hills.

I did have one thing that kind of slowed me down at first.  Stuff in my pockets.  I love my shorts but they have very deep pockets.  That means if you have anything with any weight it will flop around and is very annoying.  I had my iPhone in my left pocket and my keys and a knife clipped to the right pocket.  I don't like holding onto it but I can carry the phone.  It's easier to skip songs if I get something slow and need something a little more conducive to running.  The keys were another problem though.  I tried to find a spot on my car to leave them, but they make car keys so bulky now and with the other keys I have I just couldn't find a hiding place that would work.  I eventually just tucked the car key into my underwear and left the others hanging out.  I probably sounded like Santa Clause with the jingling but it's the only solution that worked.

I'd also like to mention that the City of Altoona does a fantastic job of maintaining the trails.  They routinely run a sweeper down the trail and it was built right so tree roots do not break through.  You can defiantly tell when you cross over into Pleasant Hill.  It's always littered with leafs and twigs and walnuts.  There are several sections where the drainage is poor and it runs over the trail and several areas where roots have pushed up the pavement.  If your not a biker or runner you might think big deal, but stepping on a walnut while running can break an ankle and hitting one at 20 mph on a bike can send you right over the handle bars.  Twigs and sticks can puncture tires.  And broken pavement is just as annoying as potholes when driving a car.

This weekend is supposed to be nice again.  Sunday looks like my best chance.  I might take the girls to the Zoo though.  We will see.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Taking a break from training really sucks.  Depending on how long the break is it can feel like your starting over.

3 weeks ago illness ran through the house.  First it was my wife and daughters, which meant coming straight home after work and taking care of them.  Then later in the week I wasn't feeling great.

Last week I got back to the running.  It was tough going though.  After being out just a week I lost all my motivation to even go to the gym.  I think the only reason why I forced myself to go was because my girls had swim lessons and I needed to waste time between work and when it started.

I ran my typical 5 k and surprisingly I wasn't any slower than I was before but it was rough.  I was tired, got shin splints, etc.  by mile two I was ready to quit.  Somehow my body always goes into automatic mode once I hit mile 3 though.  It wasn't until this past Monday that I really was feeling ok with my run.  I think I could have gone a lot farther but I had to get to lessons.

Again I'm on a bit of a break.  I have not been back.  I was either busy and starting Wednesday night I was not feeling well again.  I really hope I can get back soon.

Surprisingly I have not gained any weight back.  I have lost 3-4 pounds and really have been eating pretty badly the last few weeks.

As I mentioned above we have been sick a lot the last few weeks.  Poor Libby, our 9 month old) has had a constant cold just about all winter.  Normally I enjoy winter, but I'm so ready for it to be over if only so the four of us can get healthy.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Training plan

So I have been actively training for about three weeks now.  Jen has been on me to come up with some kind of plan.  She is the type of person that when she develops a goal she wants some kind of structure to obtain it.  Me, not so much.

I have done a little bit of searching on the internet.  I found a pretty good site at beginner triathlete.  It has a lot of articles and training plans.  The only problem is most training plans require a subscription. They do have a basic plan available for free.  It matches pretty close to what I am currently doing however.  Right now I am trying to loose some weight.  Once it gets nice out I will probably start doing something a little more formal.

Since I am already pretty strong in biking I have pretty much cut out the spin classes.  Currently the only class I am attending is Thursdays.  The instructor that night is a racer and his classes tend to be geared towards conditioning and strength.

Right now I have been concentrating on swimming and running, switching up every other day.  I'm also doing some weights.  I'm swimming about a mile and 5k running.  My next step is to start combining swim and run.  Last Monday I swam a mile and than ran a 5k. I was pretty surprised that I was able to do both still keep my average times.  Since I had extra time yesterday I decided to run a 10k. Again I was able to hold my 10 minute mile average.  I was pretty surprised with myself.  I was a little sore for the rest of the day though.  I was smart and took some aspirin before bed.