#128 – Spring Duathlon

As some of you know, I’m working toward participating in the inaugural St. Louis Triathlon, taking place just a month from now. At various times, I’ve been exuberant and confident; at others, terrified and cowering under my desk. 🙂 Yesterday, the race director of the event was at the grand opening of the newly moved Swim, Bike, Run shop on Clayton Road, and I thought I’d go meet him. Now, I’d exchanged messages with him a ton on Facebook, and I even became the poster child for the social media impact of this race, which he mentioned in a podcast a little while back (about 21 minutes into the podcast).  However, we’d never laid eyes on each other.

I walked up to him, introduced myself, and he told me he already knew who I was. Well, how ’bout that?!

We talked about the event, and he gave me some much needed advice about different parts of it, and even came in SBR to help me shop for goggles for the swim.  And as we chatted, it was obvious to me that I needed to string together some events.  I can run 5k, and I can cycle 20k — the swimming is still a bit of an unknown! — but I haven’t done them back-to-back.

Knowing I had some training ahead of me, I found a virtual 10k/5k duathlon, and figured I oughta sign up.

This morning, fueled by dreams of a successful triathlon, I headed out on my bike.  Now, one big difference between the race course and my neighborhood is flatness.  The race course for the triathlon is pretty dang flat.  My neighborhood is replete with hills, and I think I found most of ’em.  I’d ridden about 7.5km, was passing the house, and thought about just calling it done.  Somehow, I squelched that voice, and rode on, putting in a little over 10km in the saddle.

Upon getting back to the house, I transitioned from riding to running, doffing my helmet, getting some fuel for the road, and ensuring I had water.  Frankly, I was surprised how easy the first kilometer came.  And then the heat started to hit me.

I ambled around the neighborhood, and eventually ended up walking the middle part of my distance, peppered with a little running here and there.  Once again, I was at the house, about 3.5km into the run, and once again, the voices in my head were trying to convince me to just be done.  I knew, though, that if I did that, I’d regret it all day, and even if it was slow, I could get through it.  I plugged along.  And just like a dog getting a treat for doing the right thing, I was rewarded with some kind of weird second wind, and I was running the last kilometer, taking me home.

This was probably the hardest race I’ve done since Gasparilla in February.  The difference here was that not only did I have to overcome the course, but I had to overcome the noise in my noggin.  With me passing by the house, I had the means to bail on the race — something that would’ve harder to do in Tampa — but had to find the gumption not to.

Neither of my times were stunning — about 40mins for the 10km ride, and around 54min for the 5km run.  I suspect my splits for the ride in the triathlon will be better due to the flatter course.  So, extrapolating, let’s assume 30-40mins for the swim (those are estimates I’ve been given), 70mins for the 20k ride, and about 50min for the 5k run, and that puts me right around 2.5hrs for the triathlon course.   Anything under 3hrs is fine with me, and if it’s closer to 2hrs, so much the better.

I only had two real issues.  The first was with my Garmin.  I set it up for duathlon mode, but there was obvious operator error, and it stopped tracking me after the bike ride.  I’ll have to figure that out.  The other thing that was a surprise was how sore my hands were from the handlebars.  I’ve got nice, new cushioned cycling gloves but I suspect there’s something else afoot — perhaps goofy positioning on the bike.

So color me more convinced that the triathlon in a month’s time is really, really achievable!!!

Race Courses

Cycling

Running

#127 – MoDOT Work Zone 5K

Saturday, I ran the MoDOT Work Zone 5K in Chesterfield.  I ran this race for the first time last year, and enjoyed it.  Like last year, this was a small race, with decent medals, really cheap entry fee, and a course that isn’t used on any other race I run… All good things!

Ready for the Start!
Ready for the Start!

We started with a cool morning — about 50° or so — and just milled about until time for the race to start.  I saw a co-worker of mine, and chit-chatted about how slow we were gonna be… and then he passed me on the first turn!  🙂

Since I’d run this course last year, I knew there were pretty decent hills on the course.  I vowed to chug up the first one, and was able to do that much easier than I remembered from last year.  I got my water at the halfway point, ran down the hill I’d just climbed, and then climbed the last hill heading toward the finish.

 

Me and My Buddy
Me and My Buddy

And as I got pretty close to the finish, I spied Darla, cheering me on with Roxy in tow.  I was stunned by this, and ran over to get a puppy-snuggle on my way to the finish line.  I finished the race, and found them again.  Roxy was an absolute doll, and was friendly with everyone she met.  Lotsa puppy kisses given out!

I did two things different — something you’re never supposed to do on race day!  I fueled a little differently.  When I was at Fleet Feet Friday, picking up my packet, it was time to re-stock my cache of Sport Beans, and I decided to shake things up a bit.  I’ve been wanting to get some honey into my races, and while I didn’t find honey, I didn’t find some Honey Stinger Waffles.  These are little flat wafers, with a moist consistency to them.  I talked with the salesperson, and found that she uses those right before the race starts.  I figured this was an out-and-back shortish race, so I’d give it a try.

The other new thing I tried was Gu Chews.  Now, I’ve gotta tell ya, I had good results using Gu packets last year, but the stickiness and consistency kinda caught up with me, and I stopped using them.  These were packets of four chews — about the size of a hotel in Monopoly — and were easy to deal with, and quick to down.  Did they do me any good?  Well, I don’t know, but my time sure was good!

Me and Barrel Bob
Me and Barrel Bob

And how good, you might ask?  Well, last year’s race was 55 weeks ago (a little later start this year), and 101 races ago.  Using the time from my Garmin (this race uses clock time for official time, so that’s a little inconsistent for me), I knocked almost five minutes off my time. FIVE MINUTES!  That’s a huge improvement across a year’s span!

So how’d I decrease so much?  Well, the story’s in the splits.  My first kilometer was almost the same between the two races — 8:36.8 vs 8:35.6, a negligible difference.  The last kilometer was pretty similar too — 8:41.6 last year, and 8:21.5 this year.  The real tale is in the middle.

Last year, kilometer 2, 3, and 4 were 10:27, 11:23, and 12:00.  This is were all the hills are on this course, and while they’re not particular steep, they are long.  This year, those same three km were 9:02, 9:36 and 10:40, which were vast improvements.

I was really pleased with my performance on this race.  What’s goofy is that I didn’t really feel like I did all that well, but some reflection has definitely spun my opinion.  Glad I was out there!

Race Course

#126 – Go! St. Louis 5K

Let me start by revealing that I have a love-hate relationship with this race.  I love what the Go! series brings to St. Louis — a buncha races, spread throughout the year, with events for everyone.  This weekend included a 1mi “Master’s Mile” (60+ year old runner), a bunch of dashes for kids, a 1.2mi race for school students, the 5K, the new 7K, marathon relay, half marathon and full marathon.  (Everything 7K and above are downtown, and held on Sunday.)  That’s a lot of events, and this weekend is earmarked on a lot of runner’s calendars.  That’s all good.

However, being a 5k runner is a little frustrating, as the race feels like an afterthought.  Looking in the 32-page Participant Program, there’s virtually nothing about the 5k, or any of the other races on Saturday. There’s no course maps, no info about parking, transit, etc.  Even the section for “Important Race Day Information” is all about the events on Sunday.

And to add another burr under my saddle, I went to packet pickup when it opened on Saturday morning, and was told there were no shirts in my size left.  The number of folks and the shirts needed shouldn’t be a huge surprise to the organizers — that’s part of the registration gig — but both times I’ve run this race, I’ve had this problem.  I was given a smaller shirt, and told that I could just give it away.  My guess is that someone who needed that smaller size didn’t get their shirt.  I stuck it in my bag, and lugged it around with me all day, putting it on the donation pile here in the house when I got home.

Despite the grumbles, I actually had a pretty good time.  The course was familiar, with stretches of it also used in the Undy a few weeks ago.  The nice thing with this course layout was that it doubled back twice, allowing you to get a sense for how far back in the pack you were.  I ended up being around ⅔’s mid-pack, and was very pleased with that.  While my time wasn’t exactly spectacular, it was pretty typical, and sub-50 — a perpetual target for me at “live” events.  And I ran most of the course, with only a breather taken going up one of the hills.

The Go! folks have started a three-5K series this year, encompassing this race, the All-American in June, and the Halloween race in October.  I signed up for all of ’em, and should get a fourth “challenge” medal in October for that.  They were races I would’ve been doing anyway, so bundle pricing and an extra medal was pretty easy to take.  🙂

So, #126 is in the books… and I’ve already got another “live” race slated for next weekend!

Race Course

#125 – Comb the Desert 5K

Hi.  My name is Colin.  It’s been ten days since I’ve run.  And boy did it show.

My intent was to do 10k last night.  I mean, how hard could it be?  I’ve done it before, the weather was perfect, and I had a boatload of time available after work.  Easy-peasey.

I started out, with a mission to “go long”, and hit a trail that’s about 3km from the house.  It’s a short trail, but it’s kinda like a victory lap for me — I’ve only done that one a few times, and there’s loads of hills getting there and back, but the payoff is beautiful wooded scenery — and yesterday seemed like the day to tackle it again.

But in truth, I wasn’t really feeling it as I laced up my shoes.  I haven’t been sleeping well, and it’s really sucked the life out of me.  I spied David Johndrow’s book, ICU to Marathon, on my desk, however, and knew I needed to get out, and put my feet on the street.

I set out, and the first 3-4km were great.  The body parts were in motion, and working well.  However, around the time I got to my happy trail, things started to fall apart.  My pace fell way off, my feet were beginning to bother me (just tired and sore — no blisters!), and I knew the return home was gonna be miserable.

Time to Turn Around!
Time to Turn Around!

I exited the trail, and returned to the sidewalk that would carry me home, knowing that I had a tough 2-3km ahead of me.  I climbed the hills, and slowly made my way home.  At one point, Darla passed me on her way home from work, and I was so done, I tried to flag her down for a ride back, but she didn’t see me.

Along the way, I met this beautiful Landseer, Mr. Jibs.  He’s barked at me a gazillion times on one of the back trails through the neighborhood, and it was great to finally meet him.  He’d been sheared for the summer, leaving only that monstrous head and fluffy tail looking like they’re supposed to.  And, his owner drives a Wrangler.  Good taste.

I waddled home, short of my 10k distance, and felt like I’d been hit by a truck.  My body was beaten, my brain was questioning why I’d ever chosen to engage in running, and I began this awful death spiral of “what ifs” and “whys”.  I went to bed early, feeling considerably better this morning, and having some welcome clarity of thought.

At the end of the day, running is a couple of things for me.  One is consistency.  If I keep myself regularly moving, and not allowing myself to have excuses not to go out, it’ll come easier than it did last night.

It’s also mass across a distance.  The less mass I have to carry through a distance, the easier that’ll come.  And again, that’s just commitment, dedication and keeping my eye on the prize.

I don’t know that I’d say last night was any kind of epiphany for me — there’s nothing there I didn’t already know.  However, I do believe I got a dope slap of reality concerning my commitment to this, and to my future self.  I wanna still be doing this ten, twenty, maybe thirty years from now, and the changes I make now are critical to ensuring that’s possible.

This event benefitted the Testicular Cancer Society.

Race Course

#124 – Run Dog Run 5K

After a great sunrise Easter service in what Reverend Lovejoy would call the showiness of nature, I had just enough time to get some miles in before the rains set in.

After yesterday’s run, I knew that today would just be a walk, so I headed to my beloved Greenway, and set out.  While it was warmish, there was an ominous wind blowing from the south, and having looked at the maps before I left, I knew this was a hint that the rain was on the way.

Ya know, there’s not much to say about a walk, other than that I did it, and got in before the rains began.  I guess that’s the important part!

This event benefitted Running for Rescues.

Race Course

#123 – Honduran Street Party 5K

Ordinarily, this race is scheduled right on top of the Undy, so this was the first time I’ve had a chance to run in it.

I got to the site early yesterday morning (big surprise, eh!), and found a little breakfast at Picasso’s Coffee.  I’ve had the coffee at Picasso’s in old town St. Charles, and this one was every bit as good.  Nothing like a good cuppa joe on race day to get me started.

The race site is about thirty minutes from the house, so while I coulda picked up my race bib on Friday, I elected to wait until Saturday morning.  The race organizers got things set up pretty quickly, and I had a little time to kill.

Streets of St. Charles
Streets of St. Charles

I hadn’t been in this part of St. Charles before, and I was impressed.  It’s a new “urban living” area, with lofts above first floor shops — really neat concept.  This particular incarnation has everything you could want… except on-site grocery shopping.  I suspect there’s something close-by, but that’s the thing that’s a deal breaker for me. Even the revitalization of downtown St. Louis seems to have missed this small detail.

Racetime quickly approached, and we started to line up.  There were only about 600 folks in the combined 5k/10k event, so lining up was quick, as was the start!  In a big race, it’s not unusual for it to take more than a few minutes to get through the start line.  For this race, it was about 30 seconds.  🙂

We started out, and the first thing we were greeted by was a nice downhill slope.  That was great, but I had a funny feeling that I’d see that slope again, and not from its best side.

Cow on the Trail!
Cow on the Trail!

In no time, we were on the Katy Trail.  This is a wonderful rails-to-trails conversation that spans about 250 miles.  Needless to say, we didn’t cover nearly that much of it!  We spent about 3.5km on the trail, which was a nice flat part of the race.  And on again, it had a nice “pass it twice” water stop.  And at that water stop was a big ol’ cow, advertising the Mo’ Cowbell later this fall.

Post-Race Bliss
Post-Race Bliss

I got back to hill again, and sure enough, it was a climb.  I’ve gotta tell ya, some of these race course designers are real cruel folks.  Why would you finish a race on an uphill climb????  I got to the top of it, and finished the race, gathering up another medal for the wall.

This was really a nice race, with good support, and a huge medal.  Assuming they stay away from the Undy, I think I’ll be back!

This race benefitted Just Because We Care and Timmy’s Mountain.

Race Course

#122 – Celebrate Life 5K

After the events that unfolded in Brussels last week, I knew which virtual event I needed to undertake on Friday.  I know this one was in honor of Paris, but it just made sense to be thinking of Brussels.  When work was done, I took off to roam the neighborhood.  I just needed to walk, and reflect on all that had happened.

It still just baffles me that people — any people — can be persuaded to commit such terrible acts upon their fellow man.  As Mr. Gump would say, that’s all I have to say about that.

The walk was good, the new shoes are doing wonders for my feet, and it was awesome to log some miles on a weekday — one of the nice side effects of daylight savings time!

This event benefitted the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Race Course

#121 – Undy Run/Walk 5k

It’s that time of year.  It’s time for the undies to fly.

Yesterday was my fifth Undy race.  I’ve been running these every since I was diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2011.  Only three months after successful surgery to cure me, I ran my first Undy, still sporting bandages from my surgeries.  And I’ve run and fundraised every year since.

This year, the event felt a little smaller to me.  The MC announced that there were 1500 runners and walkers, 250 of which were fundraisers.  Our event in Da Lou has historically been one of the largest in the country, and this year, it raised over $130,000 for the Colon Cancer Alliance.  I’m always thrilled to be a part of those numbers, and I couldn’t do it without the generosity of family and friends that support my Undy races.  This year, y’all helped me raise $750 for the cause, which put me just outside the top ten individual fundraisers in Da Lou.  THANKS!

The other thing I noticed this year was a much larger number of kids, strollers and dogs.  Pre-race, I petted every dog I could (that’s one of my race rules!), and tried not to get tripped up by kids underfoot, or run over by strollers.  Once we got on course, this wasn’t too bad, but in the expo area, this was a bit challenging.

We all took a moment of silence for those that’ve been taken by this disease, and I said a quick prayer of thanksgiving for my situation, and the fact that I could be out there, helping others.  We were quickly routed to the staging area, and after a little crush just before the starting gun, we were off.

Anyone who’s read my rambling about my rambling knows my feelings about running in Forest Park.  It’s just not my cup of tea.  The park is beautiful, and early on a Saturday morning, it’s quiet and peaceful, even with 1500 runners traipsing through it.  However, it’s a tough surface, with lots of breaks in the pavement, places where the crosswalks are made pretty by use of uneven bricks (which I *hate* to run atop), and the occasional pothole where the surface material changes.  It’s just hard for me to enjoy the run when I’m having to watch my footing so closely.  However, the new shoes did really well, so that’s a plus!

One nice thing the race organizers have done is starting and finishing the race at the lower Muny lot, rather than the upper lot.  Using the upper lot means the last half kilometer of the race is a big, big uphill climb.  Construction in the upper lot last year drove the race to the lower lot, and I was glad to see that course used again this year.  It’s a huge difference, and keeps the last part of the race from being so draining.

While watching my footing, I ran a reasonable race, tackling the rolling hills when needed, and enjoying the folks around me.  That’s probably the nicest thing about this race.  Most of us are out there for the same cause.  Everyone you bump into is either a survivor, patient, family memory, or care provider, and they’ve each got their story to tell.

I finished up, and hung around for the survivors’ ceremony.  There were 71 of us running in the race, and after a medal ceremony for each of us, we gathered for a group photo.  I’m always so uncomfortable with this part of day.  I know my story is inspiring, and may help someone someday, but having so many people focus, photographing and cheering… well, it’s a little overwhelming.  Good thing I was wearing sunglasses.  🙂

This race benefitted the Colon Cancer Alliance.

Race Course

#120 – Mad Love 5K

I know that on St. Patrick’s Day, I shoulda been doing a shamrock/leprechaun/Irish themed race, but I had this one hanging around, and needed to get ‘er done.

For me, this was a warm day, and I knew I had the Undy coming up in a couple of days, so my goal was to just take it easy, and not do anything that would threaten my run on Saturday.  I was gonna just walk, and continue to break in my new kicks.

The Greenway was the Greenway — a constant place for me where I can go, try new things, compare notes from outing to outing.  It was crazy difficult not to run along the trail, but I’d committed to myself that this was gonna just be a walk.  And despite the animal in me (ha!) wanting to break into a run, I kept the beast at bay, and kept true to my plan for the day.

The new shoes are really doing very well.  I had no toe box issues on the right foot, and my blister on the bottom of the left foot is healing, and not agitated by these new shoes.  I’m very encouraged.  The one thing that might be worth nothing is my socks.  For this outing, I wore a pair of my thinner socks, and I’m beginning to wonder if those are a little too thin for me.  These are supposedly great socks for hot days, when wicking is important.  However, I think I get a little softening of the ride with slightly thicker socks.  I also think I like socks that have a little more climb up my calf.  Kinda sounds like I’m becoming a little bit of a sock snob, eh?

So, another event down, another medal on the rack (once it arrives next week!), and I didn’t injure myself.  I think I’d call that a success!!!

Race Course

#119 – Magnum Pi 5K

Yesterday was Pi Day.  And to a running geek, that means you need to put 3.14 miles in the log.  This was also a chance to put my new kicks on the road.  By the time I’d finished, I’d put 3.16mi in the log — a slice of Pi, plus a few crumbs.

Once again, I visited the Wildwood Greenway.  It’s a great place for me to try new things, as I know the course, and what to expect from it.  And frankly, if I get into trouble, it parallels Highway 100, and I know I can get help quickly.

Yesterday was glorious!  The sun came out, and the temps rose through the 50’s and 60’s throughout the day, and made for a beautiful, albeit humid, race course.  They always tell you to dress for 20° warmer than the temps when you’re running.  That made it feel like the high 80’s, which is well above my wilting point.  🙂

I took it slow, given the new shoes and my not being accustomed to the heat.  I was really surprised at just how well the new shoes did.  No impact in the toe box on the right foot — which had been a growing problem with my Hoka’s — and just a little aggravation on the blister site on the bottom of my left foot.  I think that’s resolvable with a little padding until the site completely heals with new skin.  But on balance, the New Balance shoes really did well, and were plenty comfy on my run.

Once I’d decided to run yesterday, I had to find a Pi Day virtual race to sign up for.  Given the mathematical geekiness of the day, there were plenty to choose from.  Most of ’em are math-centric, or pie-centric.  I found this one, which was Magnum P.I.-centric, and knew I had to sign up for it.  Can’t wait for the medal to arrive!

This race benefitted the MIND Research Institute.

Race Course

can·a·peel (noun) ˈkan-ə-pēl – A meal with a lot of variety, where each participant finds and cooks their own food.