Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 13; 3rd Edition 
17.35 miles run and 12.75 miles biked and 1050 meters swam in races in 2019 races
Race: Pro Football Hall of Fame Half Marathon
Place: Canton, OH
Miles from home: 1310
Weather: 40 degrees; rainy; windy

What makes racing so much different than running is the fact that there is a clock attached to it. I have long advocated that anyone of any talent level get out and run. I have also done the same for racing. But the difference between the two should be the effort given and the desire to give all you can give. That is why racing holds such a special place for me personally. One shouldn't put on a bib number and toe the line unless they are willing to give all they have that day. Granted, most days it won't be anywhere close to what you would like. But, for me, running a race just "to have fun" (which is always code for "to take pictures, give less than your best, and mess around") goes against what a "race" is about. Your views may differ (and I have no doubt for some of you they do as any time I have broached this subject, I get labeled as an elitist or that those at the back of the pack have more fun and blah, blah, blah) but to me, that is what separates a race from a run.

Because there are so many variables that can make a run good or bad, hoping that a good run falls on a race day is what makes each race such a wild card. It is what makes it extremely special to race well on the day of the event and not just during training.To show up, ready and prepared and then also have the fates play into your hands and give you what you need. Not simply collecting medals and accolades but doing the whole left, right thing as fast as possible.

I coach athletes and have gotten dozens to set new PRs in all sorts of distances. The first thing I tell them is how lucky they are to get to the starting line of any race.With so many variables that can stop that, sometimes it is a miracle. Second. as luck plays so much into how we do on race day, we cannot get too excited about the highs and, more importantly, do not get to let down about the lows. I try my best to listen to my own advice. This weekend in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame half-marathon, I had to deal with the "lows" portion.

Until two weeks ago I hadn't run a race since the first weekend of December. Given the downright pleasant weather we have had in Austin this year, I have been taking advantage and putting in some great training miles. When I ran an aquathlon and a triathlon last week, the run portion of both was about the best I could hope for.  As such, I was excited to see where I stood just running alone at this half-marathon.

I spent the day before the race at the expo, where I was apparently out of focus very often for people. Nevertheless, I got to see people I hadn't seen in years, meet others I had talked to but never had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face, and make new acquaintances as well. I would mention all the great people I met, but would undoubtedly leave out one and feel like a jerk!

When my friend, and running legend Bill Rodgers came over to say hello, I realized we had been friends now for eleven years. Bill gives so much back to a sport that loves him so much that it is always a pleasure to see him. Today's runners know less and less about our recent history in the sport and that is a shame. But Bill is one who sticks out in most runners' minds and for good reason.

Race Morning:


A windy Saturday turned into a windy and rainy race day.  There had been predictions that this would blow over by race time but as the clock ticked down, that showed it would not be the case. I sat in a invited athletes section, fortunately warmed from the weather. I finally met in person a runner and educator, Taylor Sowers, whose class I had Skyped with years ago. Taylor would end up running a 2:55 to take third overall in some serious sloppy conditions and setting a new PR as well. That was a stellar time indeed!

Walking to the start, I talked to two individual athletes; one, Eric, who would end up winning the half-marathon in a ridiculous 1:15 and the other, Barbara, who would take first in the female edition of the marathon in another fantastic time of 2:59. Interesting that in my sleepy morning time, two of the few people I would talk to ended up doing so well. Too bad it didn't rub off on me.

As we counted down to the start, I took off my jacket and asked Bill Rodgers if he could give it back to me at the end of the race. I know this is like asking LeBron James to hold your jock but Bill gladly gave it to someone else to make sure I got it back at the end. A cannon fired and away we went!

First 3 miles:

I can normally tell how a race will go for me, or at least in what direction, in the walk to the start.  Today I had no clues. I had slept just fine, eaten a decent meal, and felt sufficiently awake. But I neither felt tired nor did I have a spring in my step. I had taken the previous day off from running, which also was my first day off in 143 days. That running streak beat my previous streak of 48 days by quite a margin. One would think I would be rip roaring ready to go.

When we hit the first mile and I only clocked a 6:39, I was a bit disappointed. It felt so much faster.  My lungs, also, were burning. This, unfortunately, is mostly my fault. Suffice it to say that I have allergies that I know I have that I could have dealt with better and should also have not put myself in  place where there had been so much cigarette smoke the day before. I have sissy lungs that need perfect conditions to function properly and I didn't do what I needed to do to make that happen.  I have no one to blame but myself even if I did think that I would have them clear by the time the race started.  But, I thought, perhaps the mile markers are a little askew and by the second mile I will be back on track.

Unfortunately, I didn't see the second mile marker and given the very blustery conditions, it is entirely possible it was blown over. Regardless, I knew the projected times of some of those around me and regardless of mile markers, I knew I wasn't running what I wanted. Hitting the third mile marker I just divided by two and knew already that my desired goals for the day were out the window. I was going to come nowhere close to the 1:25 or so which I knew was entirely possible for me to get today. Now the question begins: what do you do on a race day when you know your race is over but you have miles to go before it literally is?

To Mile Six

The fourth mile had us approaching the boundaries of the small Evangelical Protestant liberal arts college, Malone University. The first boisterous crowd of the day was led by some vocal students here and it was greatly appreciated. Kudos to any and all who braved these less than desirable spectating conditions. I didn't mind running in them too much even if they weren't ideal, but standing around in near freezing temperatures in wind and rain required a hardy soul.

This also marked the high point of the course for us elevation-wise and a small downhill, with a wind at our back coming up, provided me with some of the best miles of the day for. We traversed some of the most beautifully laid brick roads I have ever seen in the Ridgewood Historic District which provided me with a little spark as well. (I also love how we ran up Yale Street and back down Harvard Street. Not sure if that is mocking the students of Malone or what exactly.)

The next turn had all of us front runners passing all those behind us on a mile-long stretch of Market Ave. I spent precious resources cheering on those behind me and they did the same for me. Yet in spite of all of this, I was showing no signs of picking up the pace. Granted, neither was anyone else which at least made me feel that I wasn't the only one struggling. However, as I read from many others, they were dealing with the rain and wind much more than I was. For the most part, while cold for sure, I wasn't too bothered. I just couldn't breathe.

At this point, I felt like I was rather locked into my position in the race. It didn't look like I was going to catch much of anyone and no one else seemed to be closing the gap on me.


Heading to Mile 10:

With a nice turn around right in front of the Stark County Courthouse, I saw Taylor on his way to his awesome finish. I could also see that here were a few people closer behind me than I thought but after that it was a long stretch of no people. One woman who would overtake me on the uphills and allow me to slip past her on the downs was right beside me. We would do this cat and mouse again for the next few miles.

We passed the Timken High School where the student band/dance/step squad was out performing for runners. That was beyond appreciated, especially given the weather. Normally, I would have whooped it up with the kidlings but I was too buy feeling sorry for myself.

At 7.5 miles the course rejoined the first 1.5 miles through a nice park area which could definitely lend itself to boisterous crowds as this race, in its third year, continues to grow.  Today, however, they were silent, save for our footsteps and the rain drops. And if your soul leaving your body makes a noise, it was about to make a loud one for me at mile nine. The above-mentioned woman drew next to me as we lopped back to pas under the start line and we began to run in lockstep. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I knew I was going to puke.I pulled off to the side, right in front of some Porta Potties and let go what could only be described as a slightly wet dry heave. I hadn't eaten anything since the night before and, for the first time, realized I hadn't drunk a single drop on this course. This expulsion and heaving was the nail on the coffin for me to even try to have a respectable time of sub-1:30.

I stepped into the Porta Potty and used it. Not sure what I was coming out of me given the dearth of foods and liquids but that's the human body. Coming out, I also grabbed a throwaway shirt. Why, you might ask. Well, let's just say I was having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction and was trying to be a bit modest. Unfortunately, I didn't resolve the issue. Fortunately, the crowds were sparse. That's all that needs to be said there.

On to the Finish:

Right when I was beginning to feel pretty damn low, the course took us past a quarter mile section put on by wear blue: run to remember. This national nonprofit running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military had put out picture after picture of fallen military members.  We hear the numbers all the time but seeing faces put to just a smallest of fractions to those numbers was sobering. We see those wonderful videos of military members surprising their family members by coming home early from their service. As wonderful as that is, I always say wouldn't it be even better if we weren't always sending soldiers to fight wars that are unnecessary or unwinnable?

*steps off soapbox*

Right after these pictures were dozens of people standing on either side of the road leading to the McKinley Memorial Park holding full 3x5 American Flags for runners to run through. It was, all in all, a rather moving sentiment and one that took my mind off my own personal suffering for a few minutes at least.

Next it was a little jaunt around WaterWorks Park and circumventing West Lawn Cemetery. You didn't get to see nearly as much of them as one would like before skirting over Interstate 77 and beginning the final mile and a half to the finish. At this juncture the wind and rain were pretty bad, my shorts were turning me into a roving indecent exposurer, and I was just wanting to be done. When one final runner came up next to me and was challenging me for a finishing place, I wasn't in the mood to try and outkick him. He would be the only runner who had passed me while I was running since mile four but I just didn't have it in me to care.

Around the Hall of Fame Stadium we went, entering at one endzone, running all the way to the other, through the length of it like we are celebrating a touchdown before a quick turn to the finish. I was done and couldn't have been happier. My time of 1:32:16 was my 71st slowest half-marathon ever out of 104 I have run. That said, I was 27th overall out of 1,241.  I think that tells you how much the weather seemed to affect all of the runners. Plus I got to show everyone how svelte I looked in my high school track and field singlet. Wait, were we supposed to give those back? Is 25 years the statute of limitations on petty theft. (Joking. I was gifted this when I ran my 51st of 52 consecutive weekly marathons in 2006. Cool down, sad pathetic people who are always looking for something to snipe about.)

It can be difficult to assess how well a race is put together when you are in the middle of having a bad day. Yet, when you realize that you never once thought about how the race was run that tells you everything you need to know about the race. No race is perfect and after running over 500 races I have seen just about everything that could go wrong. This was far from an ideal day to run or put on a race but the organizers did a bang-up job. The medals were fun and the shirts were comfy. Moreover, upon finishing, each runner was given a lovely, huge fleece blanket to wrap up in. Given the weather, this could definitely be an almost literal life save for some. For me, one who loves to run in the cold but the minute I am done want to be warm, it was beyond superb.

Now I just need to sit back and figure out what my next race is and hopefully do it where my lungs work with me.

Monday, April 22, 2019

No Label Sprint Triathlon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 13; 2nd Edition 
4.25 miles run and 12.75 miles biked and 1050 meters swam in races in 2019 races
Race: No Label Sprint Triathlon
Place: Austin, TX
Miles from home: 131
Weather: 50 degrees; sunny; cool

*le sigh*

Going to cut to the chase and not bury the lede here: with a little over a mile left in the bike portion of this triathlon I got a flat tire. Well, that was when I realized it. I think it happened a mile earlierwhen I inexplicably started to slow down. As this happened when I was
1. only a mile away from transition
2. in a sprint tri
3. something I don't know how to do (change a tire) and didn't have a spare anyway

I was left with one decision: run in my clippity clop cycling shoes to the transition. That is not ideal in a triathlon. Or anything else for that matter.  But how did I get to this place, my first triathlon in 3.5 years?

Earlier in the week I competed in an aquathlon in Austin. It went FAR better than I expected as it had been six months to the day since I had swam a single stroke. Feeling jumpy, I searched and found the No Label Triathlon in Katy Texas which fit my needs of being relatively close, not being too long of a bike (I hadn't cycled one rotation since August 27th, 2018) and happening THIS weekend. I signed up and was excited to see what I could do.

The day before the race as I loaded my car and was pumping my tires on my bike, one the the tubes broke. Oh no. I don't have extras and I had to get going right then in order to make the packet pickup.  Luckily, I found a bike shop not too far from the packet pickup and acquired a tube. After they put it on for me and started to ring me up

*POW*

the tube exploded. They put another in for free and everything seemed OK. Of course, everything seemed OK when it was sitting on the counter as I tried to pay for it too, so there you go.

As the race started at 7 a.m. and I had to be up at 5 a.m. because triathlons are exhaustively involved with their setup, I went to bed at a super early time for me. I woke afresh as I possibly can at that ungodly hour and headed to the start of the race.

Swim: 4:15.4 (21st place)

The swim portion was a tad different with the 300 meters being swam in a pool where each swimmer would go up and then back down a lane before doing a flipturn under the laneline and into the adjoining lane. If you are a decent swimmer this is not too hard, just a little odd. Unfortunately, there were roughly 400 people who had to do this. The only way it was possible was for each participant to seed themselves according to ability correctly, then go off in roughly 10 second intervals.

I did just that and looked like I was about in the right spot beginning maybe about 20th overall. When it was my turn to leap feet first into the pool I took off with gusto.

At no point did I feel settled in this swim. I felt fine but never like I was swimming fast. About half
way through the swim I had a guy right on my feet.  I was perturbed I was so slow so I waved him past. Then I spent the next half of a swim right on *his* feet. I think he sorta shot his wad in the first half of the swim and I should have been less polite and simply stayed where I was. But it being such a short swim I knew it didn't make much difference either way. I was not here to win the race.

Transition: 1:09.2

I got out of the pool not knowing exactly what my time was as I had not started my watch. I knew it wouldn't get a signal in the natatorium so I just had it set to catch my bike and run. Unfortunately, I literally had THE longest run to make in order to get to me bike and THE longest run with my bike to leave the area. Nevertheless, my transition was fair. I looked at some of the others who cut my T1 time in half and figure that couldn't be ALL just bike placement. They definitely have their stuff down. I know I do not.

I struggled a bit getting my feet clipped into the bike which cost me a good ten seconds. Even though I was all the way over to one side some overzealous guy ran into the back of me with a "Jesus!" I said "Yes, he is risen tomorrow but I'm sorta stuck here for the moment. Not sure how you didn't see me."

Bike: 51:16 (239th - egads)

The weather was just perfect for this race. Absolutely wonderful. Next to no wind, barely above 50 degrees, mostly cool and relatively dry. And the bike course was extremely flat with basically four turns. It was well-marshaled by the police officers, the cars on the road mostly gave us a wide berth, and from all of that standpoint, it was good. In fact, kudos to the race directors indeed for how well they organized this race. It was well-run for sure throughout in what was definitely a bit of a challenge to put together.

Unfortunately, cycling on the shoulder of this one highway was kinda crappy. The road was rather rutted, with marbles for rocks in a lot of places, and not a smooth surface. When we left the highway for about half of the ride onto some other streets, it was much better. However, when I was barely 2 miles into the ride and saw one cyclist pushing his bike back, that tight feeling in my stomach hit me a bit. I haven't done many tris but I have never had a flat in a race. I sure hope I didn't have one today.

Most of the ride was uneventful.I had a few cyclists pass me but by and large they were riding those $10,000 per wheel bikes. ("Oh, but Dane, it's not about the bike!" No? OK. Trade me.) My speed wasn't exactly what I wanted it but at around 23 mph, I felt good. I passed a few cyclists and felt like it was an even trade for those who passed me and those who I passed.

Then, mere feet after seeing my third cyclist on the side of the road with a flat, I noticed the lethargy I expected to get but never felt in my legs was really getting to me. Soon, I realized it wasn't lethargy but a flat tire.

*INSERT SWEAR WORDS*

I debated trying to ride my bike for the last mile-plus but was certain that would do some serious harm to my rim. So I dismounted and stood for a second. What do I do? I guess I will run.

As fast as I could in these infernal cycling shoes, I horseyed my way along, doing my best to stay out of the other cyclists way. With about half of a mile to go, I took my bike off the road and onto the sidewalk on a narrow turn. When I bounced down on the other side over the curb my entire front wheel just flew off. I caught it in one hand and stood there: flat tire and frame in my left hand and a wheel in my right hand. To say I was a bit frazzled would be an understatement.

*INSERT SWEAR WORDS*

Triathlon has oodles of rules. I was certain me running in with my bike was allowed as long as I kept my helmet on. But I was unsure if I could carry my bike and have the wheel in the other hand at the same time. So I sat down to put the wheel back onto my bike. Thanks to Strava I can see I spent exactly 2:01 putting that wheel back on. But I finally got to the second transition.

Transition 2: 1:09.3

I am very intrigued by the fact that my two transitions were only one-tenth of a second off of each other. I also wasn't exactly in the fastest of moods either knowing I had lost approximately ten minutes to my flat tire and errant tire (Kenny Rogers voice: "You picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel!")  But I made the effort to get here, so I was going to run. Also, I say this is my first triathlon in 3.5 years. That's not entirely true. I attempted an Xterra off-road tri last summer that had me DNFing a third of the way through the bike after my umpteeth crash. So, surviving any calamity and getting to the run mean I could at least give it a go.

Run: 19:41 (11th place)

I immediately began passing people in front of me but given all that transpired I had no idea if that meant I was going fast. However, before I even felt winded I passed the first mile marker. Now it just became a hunt to track down and pass as many people in front of me as possible.

This was a very enjoyable run with just a few turns, a nice jaunt past the Katy City Hall building, and a mostly tree-lined green-visaged route. I made note of these niceties but for the most part I had tunnel vision wondering how many of the people in front of me I could put behind me. Each one I passed spurred me on faster and I wanted to snare them all. Like Pokemon!

Into the last mile I could only make out two runners in front of me and I didn't have a chance to catch them. Then suddenly I had a chance to catch one of them and did. Then with .3 of a mile left I suddenly had a chance to catch the other one. I turned on the jets running right around 5 minutes per mile but it looked like I was running out of real estate.  He heard my steps and picked up the pace himself and as I dodged a pot hole and ran into a narowing chute, it was obvious I wasn't going to be able to catch him. I ended up just about one short of passing the guy. I wasn't too bothered as who knew how far he had been behind me before my bike incident and he might have finished minutes of ahead of me on his chip time anyway. Furthermore, it was about my individual effort on the run here that mattered most to me, not the placement. (As suspected, when I saw th results later he finished 3:30 ahead of me anyway.) When I later saw my time for the run (6:30 pace for the three miles) it pleased me exceedingly.

All told I finished in 1:17:32 which was good enough for 85th overall out of 381 finishers.  If you just removed that two minute stoppage to put my wheel back on I would have finished 62nd. Now, subtract another 8 minutes at least for my flat tire. (I say that number based solely on one cyclist on Strava who started a little behind me, fell a little bit further back, and then when I really started to get a little tired, but now realize was my tire going flat, passed me.  He did his bike in 41:33. As we hit that last straightway he was over 30 seconds behind me. So eight minutes is conservatively the time I lost running instead cycling that last mile-plus.) That alone puts my 1:07 time 26th overall and tied for second fastest in my age group.

Like I said, *le sigh*.

My biggest takeaway from this event are I am glad I didn't crash and that I am in the best racing shape I have been in for a very long time. To do so well in the swim and bike with zero training makes me very happy. To run some of the best speedwork in a race at the end of a triathlon I had already sorta given up on was even more stellar. I am extremely excited to see what the rest of the year has in store for me.

Hopefully my tires stay full of air.

Fun Fact: The Overall female winner and third overall male are from a relatively small town in Germany which just so happens to be the same town one of the athletes I coach resides in. Was a bit of a shocker to see that!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Lifetime Splash and Dash 1 of 6 Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 13; 1st Edition 
2 miles run and 750 meters swam in races in 2019 races
Race: Lifetime Splash and Dash Series
Place: Austin, TX
Miles from home: 13
Weather: 78 degrees; cloudy, windy

This is now the third straight year I have done this series here in Austin. When Lifetime Fitness bought the gym, and quarry, I guess, which this event took place in I wasn't sure they were going to have the series again. But they did (with the respective price hike) and I figured I would sign up and test my monthly mettle.

The weather looked about the best it could for most of these races with a cloudy 78 degrees with a slight breeze and relatively low humidity. That all made me rather happy. I was extremely curious, however, how this race would go for a number of factors. First and foremost, I have not swam one single stroke since I finished the last of this series in October of last year. Not one lap. The vast majority of the reason behind that was the second factor - I am currently in the middle of the longest streak of running I have ever had in my life, by a long shot. I wrote about surpassing the 100 day mark and that was more than a month ago. Keep in mind my previous longest streak was 48 days.

In previous iterations of this race, I had rested the day before the event and taken it easy the day of.  On Sunday I blasted out a 12.5 miler at 7:10 pace and then Monday I ran another 8.3. The morning before the race I did a leisurely four mils but it was four miles nonetheless. Basically, here I was in the middle of no rest, 133 days into a running streak, and taking on a race.

That said, I have lost upwards of 15 pounds this year with a new way of eating, new running, and a few other life occurrences. Now I simply had to go do the race and see how it all fell into play. So many new factors to have fun and obsess over.

Swim:


With no swimming lately, I was curious how it would feel in the water.  As the temperature was 68 degrees in the quarry, I was pleased as punch we wouldn't be swimming in soup. Unfortunately, I swam fairly poorly when it came to sighting. My goggles fogged more than they should have and I found myself way off course on a few occasions. Obviously that bummed out a bit. But other than that, the 183-day layoff from swimming didn't seem to hurt me any as even with the non-straight-line swimming, I swam my fastest swim ever. Not by much, but a 12:11 swim and transition was one second faster than I had ever done before. I can say I was definitely surprised by that and have to attribute it to both the cooler temps and the wight loss. I easily lost ten seconds swimming off course and with exactly half a year since my last swim, I cannot complain one bit how this went.

I came out of the water and saw that two of the swimmers in front of me were still putting on their shoes. I do something different than most by wearing socks during a swim. I hate running without them and trying to put dry socks onto wet feet has always confounded me. One of these swimmers got going and soon thereafter another did as well. I had designs on tracking them both down but it all depended on how fast of runners they were. Having done this series numerous times, I have seen some extraordinarily swimmers who can't run at all, some who are middling, and some who are good swimmers but better runners. I can't keep track of all of these younguns that live here in Austin, especially as some of them have sprung up half a foot since the last time I raced them, so I did not know which these boys were.

We crossed the timing mat and now was time to see what I had in these running legs.


Lap One:


As I took off after the two runners, it became clear the latter out of the gate was faster than the former. He also appeared to be faster than me.  But I knew I could catch the other runner and it was just a matter of real estate when I would.

This first lap is always the most enjoyable as there are no other runners to run around.Well, there are no others in the race. There are other people on the course as it s not closed to the public, even if the public is only Lifetime gym members. To be honest, if I am paying for a race, I'd like for it not to be open for the public, especially in a tight space like this. It is just half an hour or so once a month to close it down.Shouldn't be that hard to ask. Especially when someone was out walking their damn dog on one narrow part on the south end. You see everyone else, right?

I closed the gap on the one runner as we closed in on the end of the first lap. I crossed it in 4:19 and was beyond excited. In all of these races, I have never broken 4:20. Did I try too hard on this first lap? It didn't feel like it. I could only wait and see.

Lap Two:

This is not an "easy" course as I have stated before. It is relatively narrow path for half the course, with uneven footing, roots, and twists and turns. Low-hanging branches threaten to knock heads off and when you hit the second lap with all the other participants now on the running path, it gets kinda dicey. Without fail there are some people who, time after time I can count will run directly in the middle of this path, regardless of the fact that they MUST know people are passing them. Alas.

I used a surge to pass the one runner in front of me at the midway point of this second loop and kept surging. Don't pass until you are ready to make it stick, I always say. As a slight tailwind helped up up the backside hill, it appeared that this was where I was going to stay overall in the placing. I crossed the mat for the second loop in 4:17 and got very happy. What could I do on this final lap?

Lap Three:


Unfortunately, it was even more crowded now and with slightly tired legs once had to be more careful not to stumble while avoiding people. As I hit the midpoint of the last loop I saw two guys in front of me. I had a feeling one of them was a loop behind me but the one in front of him gave off the vibe of a runner who was almost done. I began to push hard and with a quarter of a lap to go passed the one guy. The second was coming closer but it was hard for me to want to push past someone who I was unsure of whether they were about to be done or not. Nevertheless, as we hit the final straight away, I began to throw down a little bit but I think he felt my breath. Even though I was gaining, he kept a small margin between us. He passed the finish and stopped.

Drats. He WAS on the lap with me. I passed four seconds later and stopped my watch. I had ran a 4:15 final loop and my overall time was 25:04. I couldn't remember my previous times.Was this good? Bad? Somewhere in between? I had convinced myself so many times of what I know I could do on this course that what I HAVE done gets mired in the mists.Upon checking my past results I saw that I had run my fastest time ever by 41 seconds!

I was a happy bunny. I ended up winning the Masters Division, placing 9th overall in the men. Three women beat me and while two of them beat me handily (90 seconds by one and 40 seconds by the other - the third just by 20 seconds, all ) it really is hard to race people you don't know you are racing. (All finished behind me because we did wave starts and it was their chip times which were faster.)

All told, this bodes well for me in the near future. I am aware it is going to only get warmer here in Austin over the next few months but with the construction of a new pool in my neighborhood, I am planning on really improving my swimming. I know that in my prime I swam nearly as good as the top overall swimmer whose combined swim and transition beat mine by 2:33 today.  Let's say I can't get back there but if I just cut that in half I am now about where I thought I would be in these races and that doesn't even count if I improve in the run. In other words, after my first race in nearly five months, which might be the longest drought I have gone without racing in thirteen years, I might be onto some good times.

In fact, just to test that out, I am entering a triathlon on Saturday which will test me for sure at the No Label Triathlon.With just a 300 yard swim, 13.9 mile bike,and 3 mile run, this is a sprint which is not in my wheelhouse. But hey, just because I haven't biked since August 27th and haven't completed a triathlon in 3.5 years doesn't mean I don't expect to excel.

I like being foolish that way.