Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Epic Weekend

First, let me say that my admiration for Ironman training increased ten-fold after the weekend in Deep Creek. Ouch. The weekend hurt. (True triathlon people feel free to laugh at my whimpy weekend)

People like those in the photo above are monsters in how they train....and they do it week in and week out!!! This picture was of the group that did the Friday night swim. We opted to get dinner on the way down and ended up not swimming. But, don't worry, there was still plenty to come this weekend.

After the swimming, we went to this pizza place and the group ordered this HUGE pizza. Look at my arm for reference. No, this is not some sort of optical illusion, photo doctoring, or staged photo where my arm is 5 feet back from the pizza. My pinky could have touched this pizza. Yum!!! But, we had already eaten, so I couldn't indulge too much with the big day on Saturday. I did have one slice and it sure was good.

Onto Saturday...we load up the bikes and go out to the ride start area. We pick up the packets and load up the bikes and off we go. I opted for the 50-miler (not the 100 or 125) since I had logged a total of 140 miles in 2010 heading into the weekend.

Okay. The ride. Let's just say it was either up or down. Both of which were not good options for me. The downs were REALLY down. I was squeezing my brakes and crying MOMMIE!! down the curvy descents, some of which were laced with gravel from rain runoff. The ups were REALLY up. Like multiple miles up. Like really steep up. I find out throughout the day that there are different toothed gears depending on the type of riding you're doing. My bike was a '25-toother' or one not necessarily designed for big climbs. While I wasn't clenching my brakes up the hill, by the tops I was zig-zagging, pouring in sweat, and breathing really hard. But, thanks to Jen and Lisa, I survived the entire 50 miles with 5,000 feet of climbing, as evidenced by the photo below.

If that wasn't enough, us 50-milers went over to the lake to do a swim while the 100+ milers were still out there. Beth and Jen got in a good hour. Me, I embarked on my maiden voyage in a wetsuit. My $99 Xterra special Beth found on an internet deal for me last winter. I'll tell you what, those things sure do help out with the buoyancy issue (an area where my legs are lacking). I definitely am now pulling for a wetsuit legal race in Morgantown.

After heading back to the house to freshen up and catch the end of the US Soccer Match, we went back over to the bike area to see the 125 mile guys and gals finish (8 hours later!!!) and eat the BBQ!

After a trip to the local ice cream shop, we catch some Z's and back up Sunday for a run a swim. The run was a trail run and was great. While I know my abilities are VERY limited in the biking and swimming departments, I was hopeful to keep up with the big boys on the run. That lasted about 90 minutes until the big 3 (Chad, Matty, and Jeremy) put on one of their infamous surges. I was done and did my own pace in the rest of the way.

Back to the house to pack up and off to the lake for 1 more swim. I was hoping to stick with the group for the first portion out to this bridge. Yeah right. 4 strokes in I was way back. So, I did my own thing and waited up for the rest to finish.

MVP honors go to Jocelyn for doing the Friday swim, the 125 ride, and 2:30 run.

Thanks to Chad and Jen for putting the weekend together. It was great hanging out with some true athletes and get some great training in.

In other news:
*The Pirates are not doing well (especially the pitching), but I love what the lineup of 2011 is shaping up to be.
*The US got lucky to sneak into the elimination phase of the World Cup. I'm bummed they lost to Ghana, but not surprised. Maybe next time. I love the World Cup soccer. I'm a huge fan once every four years. It's kind of like the Olympics for me.
*We got a new car. Our old Jetta (that we've had since we got married) was piling up repair issues. We figured it was more cost-effective to trade it in while it still worked and invest the 'repair money' into the new car. Car dealers are on the same level as most polititians to me--sneaky, crooked, and will say whatever needs to be said in spite of the hope I had that it wouldn't be that way.
*Summer's flying by. XC summer workouts start Thursday for the boys. Where did June go?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Eagleman and The Big 33

Last blog entry I was reintroduced to my bike. This entry perhaps should be a reintroduction to the blog itself since it's been so long.

It's been so long that I managed to age another year! (Picture courtesy of the Big 33 Football Classic -- held each summer matching up the top high school football players from PA and OH). Thanks all for the birthday wishes on FB.

It was a good year--lots of good times, a solid marathon (with room for improvement), lots of great spectathleting escapades, and lots of great coaching experiences. Today, I had this crazy idea while Beth and I were out on our run to do a 3300 on the track for the 33rd birthday. It was a fun idea....for about two laps. But, I finished it--mile 1 in 5:28, mile 2 in 5:43 (11:11 overall) and the last 100 in 22 sec. I'll have to see if I can do this each year and maybe then find a 5k to run on the 50th birthday. Did I just mention a 50th birthday as though it was around the corner?

Anyway, last week I had this entry written out in my head about Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) and how it related to life (especially for me in the week leading up to Eagleman), but I'll save its application for another day. On to the Eagleman spectathlete report!

We'll start out with a gameday pre-race photo of what my co-workers have termed "Team Shutt" or "Team Beth" preparing for the day ahead. Beth with her game face on and me with my standard obnoxious yellow. Mental note for me, don't have the hat turned backwards all day if I'm going to be out in the sun for 7 hours. It leads to a definitive raccoon look and peeling skin on the nose and forehead.

(Photo courtesy of Laura's dad)

At the starting line, Beth's wave had just gone off (see her blog or FB for photos). Here's two of Pittsburgh's finest--Matt and Chad. Looking forward to hanging out with them later this summer.

So once Beth's wave (also with Jen H, Jen H, Jocelyn, Amie, ...) and the Men's 30-34 wave (Matt, Chad, Jeremy, Ben, Lucas, ...) went off, I wandered over to the swim exit with Ben's parents and in-laws. While waiting, I saw this really cute dog that has the color change right down the middle of his head.

I was telling the parents how Beth would probably come out in the 10-20 range since she was in with both the 30-34 and 35-39 and there's always ringers exiting the water way up there like the legend Jen Harrison and later we find out there was a girl by the name of Hillary Phelps (yeah that Phelps).

Next thing you know, out comes Beth from the water (good thing I didn't spend too much time playing with the doggie or else I would have missed her). I didn't tell her what position she was in because I had her in the 5th-ish range and figured (heck, assumed) I probably missed a few navy caps. Turns out she just had a heck of a swim setting the tone for a great day!

(Photo courtesy Laura's dad)

So, Beth leaves for the Bike and I wait around to see the men come out of the water and leave on their bikes. Okay, I've got 2 hours to kill. I catch up with Lindsey Jerdonek and then go out for an hour run. BOY was it humid. I can't imagine how rough of a bike and run it was going to be for the competitors. But, off they went.

This is Beth around 2 miles into the run. I would stick around this point and wait for all of them to come back past with two miles to go.

While waiting for Beth to come back past, the (what has turned in to be) standard snapshot of 6-time Kona champ waving to me. I'll have to see if I can get a picture of her again at a future race this season (this is foreshadowing--read on)

So Beth goes past me with two miles to go and I tell her she's in a solid 3rd place, but needs to finish strong. Once she passes, I cut back over to the finish (since I had laid out the optimal cheering locations and route) and position myself to snap a shot of her coming in to the finish. This picture below was not from me, it was from Ben's father-in-law because I had put down the camera and put on my coaching/cheering hat.

From what I saw around 2 miles to go, I'm expecting Beth to still have that comfortable cushion and giving her the standard "Way to go, Beth! Almost there! Finish strong! Great race!" and the like. However, just as I'm getting ready to lift the camera in preparation for the picture, I notice not too far behind Beth a person from her age group that I recognized from earlier in the run. This girl was charging hard with arms-a-pumping.

Uh-oh. Performing a quick parametric equation analysis in my head, if the two of them would continue at their current paces, it could make for a very dicey event at the finish line. The last thing you would want for Beth was to lose a place (and perhaps a chance at a Kona slot) by being outkicked in the last 400m.

So, what to do? I can't be obnoxious and just say, "RUN BETH, SHE'S CATCHING YOU!" That's just not polite and I didn't want to annoy the people around me. So, how do I phrase to Beth that she needs to kick it in with a PC touch? It came out something like this:


That's probably paraphrased, but it was something along those lines. And, the tone of my voice got the message across. Beth kicked it in (per picture above) and beat out that girl by a good 15 seconds. Whew!

Next, I see Ben and Jen coming in together. That was neat to see them each pulling the other in at the end on a very nasty weather day. SO HUMID and HOT!

Great job to Ben on finishing his first 70.3. He's now recovering in Italy (lucky). I think this former D1 football player is getting into this whole triathlon thing. We found the perfect shirt for him at the expo. Looking forward to bigger and better things for him!

And, as I'm sure anyone who reads this blog would know by now, Beth earned a Kona qualifier slot! We're off to the Big Island in October! And, it's great to see all the friends from all over the country that we have met due to this whole triathlon thing. In this picture you have North Carolina/Canada, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Philly represented. What a great group of gals that I'm lucky to have have latched on to through Beth.

So that's it from here, more updates on the World Cup, the woeful Pirates, BABIP, and other training endeavors in the near future.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hi Bike, My Name is Oscar. What's Your Name?

Cervelo, it's nice to meet you.
Now that track's FINALLY over, I'm back to training.

Before the training, there was the Hershey Youth Track Meet Thursday and Friday. With some GREAT help from my jumping crew, things went very smoothly in the standing long jump area (picture from last year's meet to give you a visual aid).
The only rough spots are when some overzealous parents get very concerned about the measuring judgements of the student volunteers. I'm all for being accurate, but at the same time these are 10-year-olds for crying out loud. Let them compete, have a good time, and go get ice cream. Save the intense competitions for high school when we're going for a section championship.

Now, for the training. Saturday, Beth and I got in an hour run before I drove her in to work. Today, I got in 1900yds in the pool (2nd time in the pool in like a month and it showed!). We came home and the rain FINALLY moved on and we got on our bikes. Due to track and stuff, I hadn't been on my bike since the weekend of my spill.

For the most part, things went without incident, but the legs sure weren't ready for it. Beth dropped me in the first 5 minutes. But, I got in 27 miles and I'm looking forward to getting back into the SBR training. Since I went shorter than Beth I figured I'd turn my bike into a brick and did 4 miles at a little under 7:00 pace. I'm fearing how this whole running thing is going to feel in an actual triathlon off the bike.

Finally, my other adventure for the weekend involved mustaches. When the Pirates returned from their most recent road trip, Bobby Crosby (not to be confused with Sidney) suggested everyone grow mustaches to rally the team.

Well, it was working against Jen Harrison's Cubs. I told Beth that if the Pirates swept the Giants over the weekend, I was going to grow a stache in support of the team. I went to bed Friday night with Zach Duke and company up 4-0 but woke up to a 6-4 loss.

Bummer. So I thought that maybe if they take two of three from the Giants and beat the Cubs Monday I'll still do it. Well, today's comedy of errors took care of that. But, I had to a least go to the stache on the way to going clean-shaven for entertainment purposes. This picture took about 10 minutes to take because Beth and I couldn't stop laughing long enough to snap the shot. So long mustache.

While on the topic of the Pirates, I was recalling my preseason predictions about the season:

My Pirates sleepers this season are Lastings Millege, Charlie Morton, and Akinori Iwamura. The flops I'm worried about are the shortstop position (fill in the blank), Zach Duke, and Jeff Clement. I'm encouraged that the bullpen looks stronger and I'm encouraged that there are legitimate prospects knocking on the door (Alvarez, Tabata, Lincoln) not just because the major league team has holes, but because they are actually good.

Hmmm. Let's break this down--
Millege - still without a homerun in June and plays TERRIBLE defense in left field. Jose Tabata can't get called up soon enough.
Morton - He of the 1-9 record and 9.00+ ERA before some 'shoulder fatigue' landed him in the DL. Brad Lincoln can't get here soon enough.
Iwamura - hitting below .200 and terribly slow due to knee brace and ankle sprain causing him to lose his starting job. Good thing Pine Richland's Neil Walker has come up and provided a spark. And Pedro Alvarez is right around the corner.

I think I should stick to my day job.