Jul 14, 2014
I did it.
I finished my first triathlon: The Pacific Crest Olympic-distance Tri, on Sunday, June 29, 2014.
(What? I thought you were doing the long course.)
Yes, I was, but on the advice of my TnT coaches I switched to the shorter Olympic distance; mostly because my swimming wasn't getting to a point where I'd be able to finish the long-course (1.2 mile) distance in a reasonable time.
Swim (1500 meters [0.93 miles]): 55:45 - that's a little bit faster than my open-water training average for that distance, which was usually in the 60 minute range. A diamond-shaped course was marked with buoys and the Olympic-distance racers went around twice. The lowest moment of my entire race came as I made the fourth turn, i.e. the closest point to the start/finish but only halfway done. I came very close to aborting the swim. I'd have been allowed to continue the race, but wouldn't have received a finish time for the swim.
But I somehow kept going, and that led to the best moment of the race: rounding the fifth turn, and suddenly getting the realization that I could finish this. And I did, and I wasn't last out of the water.
Finishing the open-water swim at Wickiup Reservoir. Photo by FinishShots.com
Bike (nominally 40K [24.8 miles], actually 46K [28.75 miles]): 2:06:00 - I was not aware that the ride course was nearly four miles longer than regulation, which came as a shock to me when I passed the mile 25 marker with no end in sight. But I finished, and I wasn't last. There wasn't anything particularly special or inspiring about the ride; it was a ~ 30 mile ride with some hills, and I'd done that plenty of times in the last five months of training.
By the time I got out of the water and onto my bike, the vast majority of the field had already left, so there was never a large group of riders to deal with. I did pause once to take some nutrition and catch my breath. No flat tires or other mechanical issues.
On the bike course. Photo by FinishShots.com.
Run: (10K [6.2 miles]): 1:34:44 - I never really found my running groove, so just kept trudging it out until I was done. Not a lot to say about the run. It was hot. I wasn't last.
Looking better than I felt at the time on the run course. Photo by FinishShots.com.
Finish: 5:04:55 - I finished my first triathlon in just about exactly the amount of time I thought I would, based on my training and pre-race estimates. I was, needless to say, exhausted, but triumphant. I don't know if or when I'll do another one of these; my emphasis will be firmly on the running side for the rest of this year, at least. But it was definitely worthwhile and, at least at some points, fun. And I wasn't last.
I could never have done it without the support of my TnT coaches, staff and teammates. And let's not forget the reason for all this: blood cancer research. My friends and family (and friends of family) raised $3,200 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and my team raised a whopping $341,468 overall.
In the finish tent. #Selfie
Practice Makes Perfect(?) - A Progress Report
Apr 21, 2014
Progress report: Week 11
This past weekend, just a little more than halfway through the training season, we did our practice triathlon at Gunderson High School in San Jose. Starting with a swim in the large pool, we then ran a short distance on the track before heading out for the long bike ride. Then, several more miles run on streets and trails.
Activities of the day, per RunKeeper.
Swim: 0.74 miles, 46:20. This is around my average swim pace, but was made a bit more interesting by the removal of the lane markers; we all swam in a giant circle around the perimeter of the pool to simulate a long open-water swim. I did the 150-meter loop eight times for a total of 1,200 meters or approximately three-quarters of a mile.
Track run: 1.14 miles, 12:40. A completely normal, average mile; perhaps not so average considering I'd just finished the swim - literally got out of the water, jogged to the transition area, put on a tech shirt and shoes, and took off. My lap pace of 11:09 is actually a little quicker than my historical average.
Bike: 25.77 miles, 2:09:49. Check out the hill profile on that ride. I'm very pleased with nearly 26 miles in around two hours on that course. Teammates and coaches remind me that doing a triathlon on a mountain bike, even one fitted with road tires, is necessarily going to be more difficult than with a standard road bike. But to paraphrase the former Secretary of Defense, I'm doing the triathlon with the bike I have, not the bike I might want or wish to have at a later time.
Street/trail run: 4.57 miles, 1:09:43. This was the only real disappointment of the day for me. After getting back from the bike ride and another few minutes in transition (changing shoes, downing a protein bar and some fluids), I set out on the run - a mile or so on sidewalk, 1.5 miles on a fire road/bike trail, then turnaround and return. By this time (I was one of the very last to start the run) it had gotten quite warm and I was, of course, feeling the effects of everything I'd already done. I decided to run/walk this section, running half a mile and walking a tenth or so, and managed to keep that going for most of the distance. Though I did stop for a few minutes at the aid station and again at the turnaround.
"OW" or "SLOW" - take your pick.
Overall, I finished this practice triathlon in 4:45:43 start-to-finish including transitions. As it was a practice event, the distances were shorter than in the real event; around 60% of the 1.2-mile swim, 46% of the 56-mile ride and 44% of the 13.1-mile run.
With ten weeks to go in the training season and more intense workouts to come, I'm reasonably confident that I can get my endurance to the point of finishing the event. Right now I predict a finish in the eight-hour range.
And that brings me to the most important part of this progress report: fundraising! To date, I've raised $1,983.02 (62%) of my goal of $3,200. This is through a combination of donations from friends and family (and friends of family!) and sales through my Amazon storefront - some of that Amazon money is also indirectly from donations, as I've collected surplus books from friends and teammates to add to my storefront for sale.
How can you help? You can donate directly, via this page, using your credit card. Money donated this way is tax-deductible. If your employer matches charitable donations (many do), you can double the impact of your donation. Even if you've already contributed to my fundraising goal this season (and thank you!), there's still some distance to go and I would really appreciate your additional support.
You can also browse my Amazon storefront and purchase books and other merchandise. I send all proceeds from Amazon storefront sales, less Amazon's fees and my shipping expenses, to LLS. This is not, however, tax-deductible for you, because you're making a purchase rather than a donation.
Remember that this is all in service of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's mission to fund research into cures for blood cancers and related maladies. LLS-funded research has already made a tremendous difference in the lives of many, many cancer patients.
On behalf of LLS and Team in Training, I appreciate your support for my training and your generous donations to support the LLS cause.
And away we go! (Again)
Feb 19, 2014
"Hey Andrew, isn't it around time for Team in Training to start up again?"
Well, yes, actually, it is. Thanks for asking.
"Gonna do another marathon? That was pretty awesome last year."
Yes it was, but this year I'm looking for a new challenge. So I'm going to do my first triathlon -- the Pacific Crest Long Course Tri.
"A triathlon? I've seen those in the Olympics. That's swimming, cycling and running all in one event, right?"
Yep. The "Long Course" involves a 1.2 mile swim, 58 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run. I'm not entirely sure that I'll be able to do this as my first triathlon, but by registering for the "Long" event, I can drop back to the shorter "Olympic" distance (1.5K swim/28 mile bike/10K run) if necessary.
"Swimming? But I don't think I've ever seen you in a pool except on cruise ships. Can you really swim that far?"
To be honest I don't know. Team in Training has the best training program and coaches, and I discussed it with the Tri team coach before committing to the event. They're ready to get me into the pool and teach me what I need to do. And if not, I can always drop the swim and do the Duathlon (bike and run only) instead.
"And this is all in support of blood cancer research?"
I'm so glad you asked. Yes, my training for these events with Team in Training is part of fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which raises money to find cures for blood cancers. Their motto is "Someday is Today," and their goal is cures today -- not someday.
"And that means you're going to ask me for money now?"
Well, yes. My fundraising goal for this season is $3,200 and I'm going to need lots of help getting there. Donations to LLS, a 501(c)(3) organization, are tax-deductible. You can donate right from this page. Or, if you want something tangible in return for your contribution, you can check out my Amazon Storefront -- all proceeds from sales of my books and other merchandise, after shipping and Amazon's fees, go to LLS (but are not tax-deductible). Another option would be to pledge based on my training/racing miles; you could donate, say, $1 per mile that I train and race.
This is going to be an amazing athletic year for me. At age 44, I plan to run the Pacific Crest triathlon; a marathon (Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas); ten half-marathons (nine with the Rock 'n' Roll series, plus the annual Giant Race in San Francisco); and a few 10K and 5K races here and there. Plus lots and lots (and lots) of training.
"Well, this sounds terrific. I'm going straight down to Western Union and wire you some money right away."
You don't have to do that! Just click the "Donate" link on this very page and LLS will take it from there.
"Isn't this question-and-answer format a little hokey?"
Worked, didn't it?