Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shelbyville Triatlon Race #2 Results (Revised)

The errors on T2 and swim times have been corrected (some people were in the wrong age group also). It didn't change my final placing in my Age Group or Overall, but my transition and swim times moved up in the ranks.

Revised Results:

5K Run:
4th out of 7 in Age Group, 12th out of 66 Overall

1st out of 7 in Age Group, 6th out of 66 Overall

10th Place Overall out of T1

12 Mile Bike:
1st out of 7 in Age Group, 7th out of 66 Overall

6th Place Overall after the Bike

1st out of 7 in Age Group, 3rd out of 66 Overall

6th Place Overall out of T2

400 Yard Swim:
1st out of 7 in Age Group, 10th out of 66 Overall

2nd out of 7 in Age Group, 6th out of 66 Overall

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shelbyville Triathlon Race #2 Report

Forecast all week long called for rain overnight Saturday turning into snow Sunday morning. I never trust forecasts! I woke up Sunday morning and immediately got on the computer to check the radar. Since I do all almost all of my running outside year-round, I like to think that I'm pretty good at reading a weather radar. I was not happy to see a line of green/pink/blue heading towards Shelbyville. This indicates a mixture of rain, freezing rain/sleet and snow. The air temperature was right around freezing, so this all made sense. I also saw that the radar indicated that it was currently raining in Louisville...which a quick glace outside refuted. So I surmised that the precipitation must be evaporating before reaching the ground. See, I sound like I know what I'm talking about with all the big words, huh?

Turns out that not a single drop of rain or a snowflake had fallen overnight in Shelbyville or would fall during the race. This is a prime example as to why I never trust an extended forecast.

As usual, I had packed up all of my gear the night before. So I woke up Sunday morning and downed a sweet potato with some almond butter (my new standard pre-race meal). I loaded everything into the car and headed out. 

I had some problems coming out of T1 last year and during the first race of this year. I have my shoes already clipped in to my pedals and then slip my feet in them once I get going. The problem that I've had is that one or both of my shoes would flip over while I was trying to get my foot in. The shoe would then hit the ground and would make it necessary to stop the bike and get it flipped back over. This has cost me precious seconds enough times that I was determined to get it right this race. I was early enough that I had time to stop in to Walmart in Shelbyville to get some rubber bands. The ones that I had used before to keep my pedals horizontal (see example below) were too short and would break as soon as I moved the pedal. So I found some longer ones and they did the trick. No problems coming out of T1 this time!

This race was the same as the one last month in the fact that it was in reverse order. We ran first, then biked, then finished it off with a swim in the indoor pool at Clear Creek Park. 

The race starts with us all lined up on the road for the 5K run. I started near the front but knew that I couldn't hang with the really fast guys. So once a group of 10 or so broke away early on, I let them go and tried to keep my pace. A 5K is a weird distance for me. I don't feel like I can go all-out, but it shouldn't be comfortable either. I was passed by two guys about a mile in and made it a point to not lose touch with them. This is a challenging course that has rolling hills over pavement, gravel, some grass and even a short run over a bridge. It's an out-and-back route, so I was able to see that I was in 12th place at the half-way point. My legs were heavy the entire time and it was hard the whole 3.1 miles. Perhaps the 7+ mile run I did with the Kids Center training group on Saturday had taken it's toll. I closed the gap on the two guys in front of me during the last half mile and went into T1 just behind them in 12th place...VERY thankful that the run was over!

Official 5K Run Time - 20:51.4 (6:42 min/mile pace)
5th out of 9 in my Age Group and 12th out of 66 overall

I was excited to see Jessica and the kids standing by T1. I gave some waves and smiles to them while putting my helmet on and taking off my running shoes. I got out of T1 in a little over 34 seconds...4 seconds slower than last month. I had some trouble getting my helmet on, so that's probably where the difference was. I did manage to get out of T1 faster than the two guys that entered just ahead of me off of the run.

Official T1 Time - 00:34.5
1st in my Age Group and 6th overall
10th place overall coming out of T1

I was very happy to be on my bike and even happier that I had no issues getting my feet into the shoes coming out of T1. I immediately started to hammer down and chase. I really enjoy catching people on the bike. I see a "rabbit" up ahead and focus on catching and passing them. I pushed it hard on the bike the entire time and it felt good to get my legs burning and get Flash up to 30+ mph a few times. The wind made handling a little dicey a few times, but I chalk that up to only being out on the road once this year. I passed 4 guys during the first 6 mile loop and didn't see anyone else up ahead. I sucked down a gel at the start of the second loop for a little boost in energy. I was excited to finally see a cyclist up the road after finishing my gel, but I quickly realized that it was someone that was still on the first loop. I never could find anyone else to catch and came into T2 in 6th place overall.

Official 12 mile Bike Time - 33:51.1 (21.3 mph average)
1st in my Age Group and 7th overall
6th place overall coming off the bike

I was really proud of my T2 time last race. I had the quickest transition in the field and was able to move past 4 people before entering the water. I had a very similar transition time on Sunday, but some other guys figured out my secret - they wore shorts on the run and bike. My T2 was around 57 seconds, and I was all alone in T2, so I wasn't able to move past anyone. The T2 times are a little messed up on the official results, so I'm not sure if the the places in my age group and overall are accurate for T2 or the swim.

Official T2 Time - 00:57.1
3rd in my Age Group and 12th overall
6th place overall coming out of T2

I felt good getting the water and immediately took a look over to see how far back I was from 5th place. I noticed that he was about 2 lanes ahead of me. I didn't think I would be able to make that much up in only 400 yards, but I tried anyway. About halfway through the swim, I could tell that I was making up ground. I also glanced back the other way and saw that there was no one on my tail. I made it a point to try and get a good push off of the wall at every turn and I think that made a difference as my swim time this race was almost 20 seconds faster than the one last month. The swim just wasn't long enough for me to catch 5th place.

Official 400 yard Swim Time - 6:53.2 (1:43 per 100yd)
1st in my Age Group and 11th Overall

Last race I finished 2nd in my age group to Troy Shellhamer (a very accomplished ultra runner). I knew that he was somewhere in front of me again because I saw him leading the run at the turn around and I knew I hadn't passed him on the bike or in the water. After the race I found out that Troy was the guy that I was trying to catch in the pool. He dominated the run and had a 2 minute, 45 second lead on me heading into T1. I made up 80 seconds during the bike and another 50+ seconds in the pool, but it still wasn't enough to make up for the run deficit that he created. He finished 45 seconds ahead of me. Until we have a race with a very short run and a long bike, I think I'll be stuck behind Troy!

Overall Time - 1:03:07.3
2nd in my Age Group and 6th Overall

I beat my goal time of 1:05, so I'm overall pretty pleased with this race. I'm disappointed in the run and if I had turned in a 20 minute run like I had hoped for, it would have been a very interesting last few laps in the pool!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Shelbyville Tri Series Race #2

This Sunday will be the second of four sprint distance races held in Shelbyville, KY. While it was a little chilly for the first race, the weather was really not a factor. The forecast (depending on who you trust) is calling for temperatures right around freezing Sunday morning and a 30-50% chance of rain/snow overnight Saturday into Sunday. So it could be interesting out there!

If there is snow on the ground I assume that the bike portion of the race would be cancelled since this is what has been done in the past. I really hope that the forecasts are incorrect and it's just cold. I really don't want this already very short race to become even shorter. Plus, I consider the bike leg to be my strongest of the three, so eliminating it wouldn't do me any favors.

Just like the race last month, this triathlon is in reverse order. It starts out with a 5K run, then a 12 mile bike, followed by a 400 yard swim.

The hills on the bike really took their toll on me last time out, so I've done a few more hill repeats in the last few weeks, but I don't expect to see a big change yet. I'm planning to suffer. It's a sprint, so there's really no pacing or heart rate monitoring involved. It's pretty much go as hard as you can from the starting gun (or yell) until you hit that pool wall on the final lap.

I'm going to shoot for a time around an hour and five minutes...we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Running Form - Arms

The position of your arms while running might not seem important. After all, you run with your legs, right? For me, the only thing that I've ever focused on when it comes to my arms was to keep them bent, relaxed and to not cross my centerline. I figured that if I did these three things, I had it covered. Wrong.

As part of the training/fundraising group that I am leading this year (feel free to donate by clicking the FirstGiving button to the left), we have had several free workshops for our running team. This past weekend our workshop was on Cross Training. To my surprise, we ended up spending a lot of time discussing running form - specifically the role that your arm swing plays.

We were fortunate enough to have a Personal Trainer from Body Evolution that has lots of experience with runners. He currently works with middle and high school track and field athletes and had some really interesting insights.

Apparently, I keep my arms up too high, my elbows are bent too much (around a 45-degree angle) and I do not take them back far enough when I run. My shoulders were also a little tight. Take a look at this picture of me from a recent 5K:

My left arm is being held at an angle much less than 90 degrees
My right arm is closer to 90, which means that I'm moving my arm at the elbow with each swing - not good.
My right hand is up way too high, it should be down at my hip during this portion of the arm swing.
My elbow isn't back far enough either.
Good thing I see here - I'm sporting my Ironman finishers hat!

So what should your arms look like and do during an efficient arm swing?

Step 1: Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle through the entire motion. So once your arm is locked in at 90 degrees, leave it there. Never let your hand go above your shoulder or below your waist. Your arms should be tucked in close to your body, even letting your hand brush your upper hip with each swing is a good idea when first learning proper arm swing.

Step 2: Keep your shoulders loose. If your shoulders are sore after a long run, this is a sure sign that you are too tense in your upper body (I've had this happen before). Shoulders, arms, hands and everything else from the waist up should be loose when running. Keep a constant mental check-list when running to make sure nothing is tight.

Step 3: Push your elbows back. Focus on your arm swing being a backward push instead of a forward pull. I try to image that there is a string tied to my elbow and with each swing, someone standing behind me is pulling on the string. I've noticed that when I do this, my arm natural comes back forward on it's own.

I tried to incorporate this new arm swing with my speed work today. It feels a little awkward and I fell back into my old form a few times when I started to get tired...which is the worst time to do this. Taking my arms back further than what feels natural is going to be the hardest thing for me to do. But I know that proper arm swing will lead to a more balanced and efficient running stride, which is what we should all be striving for!

Take a look at this video on elite marathoner Ryan Hall. Specifically watch his arm swings. Do a run in front of a mirror on a treadmill or have someone take a video of you running...see what you are doing wrong and try to imitate what you see in this video.

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