Saturday, September 26, 2009

Plymouth Firefigthers 5K Recap

This past Saturday I jumped into the Plymouth Firefighters' 5K Run/Walk which is held annually in our fair city. The Well Kept Wife works for the city of Plymouth as the Volunteer Coordinator so let's say I am motivated to participate. Actually, it is a great fundraiser as proceeds from the event benefit the Plymouth Firefighters Relief Association. Can't go wrong there.

Plus one gets to witness firefighters from Plymouth and Maple Grove battling for bragging rights as many of the firefighters run in full firefighter gear. Truly amazing.

I went into this race planning just to take it easy, but then the gun goes off and the competition bug tells me to get my ass in gear and away I go. This year was no different but I was bound & determined not to go out in sub-6 minute pace like I did last year (running to 5th place with a 19:37 effort). I wanted a more controlled pace, remaining consistent with my mile splits throughout. Plus, after a week of icing the Achilles all day long I wanted to really test out if the Achilles could remain supple through an entire run. I also wanted to see if I could increase my pace for mile two. So, let us go to the tale of the tape.

The course is relatively flat. Just a few minor climbs to separate the men from the boys (except for two as you will see). Lots of loops. We actually met the walkers a mile and a half into the event as we circled back near the start line.

Mile 1: 06:14

Two runners went out strong right away and you just knew they would come back to the pack. And they did less than 1/4 mile later. A pack of six runners formed and it was actually a comfy pace. I wasn't breathing hard and was able to jump around easily to find the best position in the pack. I was worried about going out too strong and some quick looks at the Garmin had me at sub 5:50's so I made sure to stick to plan and just eased off.

Mile 2: 06:10

Mile two was the race. The pack had splintered into a group of two and a group of four separated by 15-yds. I was in the later. As planned, I simply increased the pace which corresponded with a slight hill at the same time. I crossed the gap to the lead group and that was that. It was now the eventual 1 through 3 finishers and no one else was keeping pace. At this point I noticed that I could be grandfather for the two lads I was racing with.

I'll say this, for being ultra disappointed with the state of the younger athlete this days, these two youngin's had wheels and even a little if tactical fortitude.

Mile 3: 06:26

I'm come to this conclusion: The 5K is a young man's game. It is a fast race and at some point along the way it hurts like Hell. Really, really hurts. And you either suck it up knowing you have one lousy mile left or you fold like a baby.

I was really starting to sound like an Edsel climbing the Rockies. I even broke the cardinal rule and looked back not once, but twice. Each time after a 90-degree turn I glanced over my shoulder....could I keep third place at the very least?

The first time our nearest competitor was 300+ yards in back of the lead pack. The second time, he seemed to be closing. Yikes!

0.1: 00:40

As we rounded the last turn to the finish the eventual winner had opened up about a thirty second gap on us. The young lad in second had about 8-10 seconds on me. Thinking that someone was closing on me (voices in my head) I just opened it up for the last 200-yards. I actually started to close on 2nd but he heard my thudding foot steps and opened up again.

As I turned for the chute I peeked over one last time and saw I had third easily and basically walked in. The guy at the chute was yelling at me, 'just a few more steps!' but I was like, 'dude...lets see you do this!'

5K time: 19:31
Overall finish: 3rd of out 297

So, I bettered my effort from last year and ran consistent mile paces. I needed this to boost my confidence as I go into the fall season with some additional events tentatively planned. All in all, a nice race and I was happy that I had a good effort with relatively low mileage. This really has me thinking my training plan for the 2010 season. Do I really need to run as much as I think I do? Would it not be better to continue and put in more time on the bike, as I did this summer to much improved results from 2008? It's got me thinking to keep spending the majority of the time on the bike, then swim, then run. I certainly can't complain about the results of my last five events.

Now then, I can live with losing to a 25-year old young man. But take a gander at the race results and the age of the dude that grabbed second. Thirteen years old. OK, that's 8th grade. Yes, young Nichols Hackl who runs with the Wayzata XC team (currently ranked second in the state). I'm both happy that a young man ran great and, well, exasperated. How long before my very own flesh and blood....the Boy® beating me. How long do I have!!??!!

Take a look at the podium picture. Really, what is wrong with this picture. Young man, young man....old man!

Next Event - Kickin' Leaves Duathlon in Grand Rapids, MN next Saturday (10/3). This duathlon consists of a 2.5 Mile Trail Run/ 10 Mile Bike/ 2.5 Mile Trail Run

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Very Expensive Pee

I have been using Hammer Nutrition products for almost two years now. I have needed extra nutrition and careful fueling due to my health issues (see My Triathlon Story for more info on that). I have experimented with just about all their products and have mixed and matched the best time of day to take each. And I think I now have it nailed. And I decided to add up just how much this is costing me each day. So, without further ado, here's the tail of my pee.

Premium Performance Multivitamin (Costco, $13.99 for 300 tabs) - Every one needs a good multivitamin that is not too heavy on the minerals. This one suits the bill for me.
Regimen: One each morning.
Daily cost - $0.05

Vitamin D 1000 I.U. (Costco, $13.49 for 300 tabs) - I live in the Tundra where we are lucky to see the sun every six months. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight. More and more reports are suggesting to take in excess of the recommended daily allowances. The RDA for children and men and women up to age 50 is 5 micrograms (mcg) or 200 international units (IU); 10 mcg (400 IU) between ages 51 and 70; and 15 mcg (600 IU) after age 70.
Regimen: One each morning and each afternoon.
Daily cost - $0.09

Citrucel (Costco, $21.19 for 220 tabs) - Citrucel with SmartFiber is smart fiber therapy that's been specifically designed to be less harsh on your system. It helps you get the fiber you need. As Americans, we don't get enough fiber. Fat, yes. Fiber, no. If you don't eat much veggies...add a fiber supplement to your diet.
Regimen: Two each morning and two at bedtime.
Daily cost - $0.39

Mito Caps (Hammer Nutrition, $24.95 for 90 caps) - This is Hammer's Anti-Aging formula with powerful athletic benefits. It improves energy production capabilities and aids in fat metabolism.
Regimen: One at noon, one in afternoon, one at bed.
Daily cost - $0.84

Anti-Fatigue Caps (Hammer Nutrition, $18.95 for 90 caps) - Anti-Fatigue Caps are designed primarily for ammonia reduction in long distance events, many of the nutrients in the formula are excellent for helping counteract everyday fatigue, even chronic fatigue symptoms (one of my possible health issues).
Regimen: One at noon, one in afternoon.
Daily cost - $0.42

PSA Caps (Hammer Nutrition, $24.95 for 60 caps) - The benefits of PSA Caps are to promote optimal prostate health and prevent or reduce prostate enlargement. Beta sitosterol, in addition to its prostate-related benefits, is also beneficial for helping lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Regimen: One at noon, one at bed.
Daily cost - $0.83

Boron (Hammer Nutrition, $14.95 for 90 caps) - The benefits of Boron Caps are to restore exercise depressed hormones, enhance bone health and osteoporosis prevention, and aid in prevention of prostate cancer.
Regimen: One at noon.
Daily cost - $0.17

Chromemate (Hammer Nutrition, $9.95 for 100 caps) - Simply put, this puts the end to the 3 PM fade. The benefits of are to enhance glycogen synthesis for superior recovery; improve cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels; and help curb sugar cravings.
Regimen: One in the afternoon.
Daily cost - $0.10

Race Caps Supreme (Hammer Nutrition, $47.95 for 90 caps) - These caps enhance energy and endurance. Idebenone, one of the cornerstone nutrients in Race Caps Supreme, is considered by many experts to be an important anti-aging nutrient, perhaps the most important one yet discovered.
Regimen: One in the morning.
Daily cost - $0.53

Endurance Amino (Hammer Nutrition, $29.95 for 120 caps) - Amino ammunition for your muscles. Endurance Amino is ideal to use after all workouts and races, and really shines (and is the perfect complement to Anti-Fatigue Caps) when taken hourly during training sessions and races that extend beyond two hours. Endurance Amino gives you a wide range of powerful amino acid benefits, without you having to break the bank.
Regimen: One in the afternoon.
Daily cost - $0.25

One Month Total Cost (30-days) - $110.10
Annual Cost - $1339.55

Yep, that's a lot of money. But I can't argue with the results. My last four events:

Waseca Triathlon - Waseca, MN
4th overall (134 total), 1st in 45-49 (6 total)

Young Life Triathlon - Detroit Lakes, MN
5th overall (215 total), 3rd in 40-49 AG (27 total)
Note - Top 5 overall were all over 40, all Hammer products users

Minneapolis Duathlon
35th overall (813 total), 1st in 45-49 AG (44 total)

West River Triathlon - Dickinson, ND
3rd overall (44 total); 1st 40-49 (5 total)
Note - Fastest bike split

If you are interested in Hammer Products and want to give them a try, be sure and take advantage of their referral program. You get 15% off your initial order. Contact me for more information on how to take advantage of that offer. Email Brian.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

West River Triathlon Recap

Saturday (8/12) found me 500 miles west of the Twin Cities only an hour from the North Dakota-Montana border. I was in Dickinson, NoDak for the 5th annual West River Triathlon.

The race was a 450 yard swim, 12 mile bike and 3 mile run. I'll be honest: the bike course was short and the run course was long. I'm estimating the bike was 11.5 miles and the run was 3.25 miles.

I had no particular goals heading into this event. With a long drive to the event, we broke it up by staying in Fargo on Thursday night, I was not sure how I would respond. I had also put in a ton of bike miles the week before and the legs were feeling a little tired.

The results:

Swim (450 yds)
Official Result - 7:36 (1:42/100 yds)
Overall Place - 2nd (44 total)
Age Group Place - 1st (5 total)

Notes - Dickinson's Community Center is very nice. The swim was indoors. I felt good during the swim and hit my pre-race target of 7:10 for the swim, the extra 21 seconds coming from exiting the pool and then running to the exit doors to cross the timing mat outside. Question: Why do we seemingly have to always exit on the deep end of the pool? The arms are tired, and with no pool bottom to push up and out it always makes for an ungainly exit. In this case, I also ended up slightly skinning a knee.

Official Result - 1:38

Notes - It had been raining since the day before. And it still was. So we ran across wet grass...which was actually nice....only to arrive to soaked shoes and bike. I had laid towels over my shoes and bike seat thinking that might help. Nope, shoes were already soaked. No biggie. Can't do anything about being wet.

Bike (12 miles)
Official Result - 30:13 (23.8 MPH)
Overall Place - 1st (44 total)
Age Group Place - 1st (5 total)

Notes - This was western NoDak. So it seemed as if we were constantly climbing. The course was two loops and I swear the first 3/4's of the loop were climb-climb-climb before ending on a long descent where we could wind it up. The roads were wet so a lot of people were tentative. I just laid caution to the wind. As a result, I entered into T2 in first overall. Again, this was not 12-miles. Based on my drive the night before, I estimate at 11.5 miles which puts my speed at a truer average of 22.8 MPH

Official Result - 1:15

Notes - While I held the lead, the top three all came into T2 close to each other. We basically left T2 at the same time. As I rounded the corner 600-yds into the run I held up three fingers to my wife and son. As the other two were already showing themselves to be stronger runners.

Run (5K)
Official Result - 21:35 (7:12/mile)
Overall Place - 4th (44 total)
Age Group Place - 1st (5 total)

Notes - Eventual race winner, Daniel Molnar, is a European seasoned marathoner. He went flying out of T2. He quickly became a blip on the never-ending horizon of NoDak. I was right behind eventual 2nd place winner, Michael Fretland, but he too was establishing an early brisk pace. I knew I was solidly in third place. The ham was feeling just fine but the Achilles was not. So, I made an effort to stay with Fretland in the first mile and then just shut it down. I want to try two more events this season and I knew I wasn't going to do those future events any favors by pushing it for no reason. Again, the advertised 3-mile route was 3.25 miles. I know this as I drove it the night before. So Molnar ran 5:18 pace, Fretland 6:18 pace, and I ran at 6:38 pace. Not bad for shutting it down.

Official Result - 1:02.15
Overall Place - 3rd (44 total)
Age Group Place (40-49) - 1st (5 total)

Summary - It was a nice road-trip for us. Despite sixteen hours on the road, we had a very good time. We visited with family all along the way. We were able to spend time with one of my high school classmates and XC/T&F teammate....1982 NCAA Division III national steeplechase champion..Brad Braunberger who now resides in Dickinson.

And the scenery was spectacular. Western NoDak is wide open country and something straight out of the canyons of Arizona. It is my favorite part of NoDak. I'm not sure when I will return to this event, but we probably will.

The Results

Next Event - Plymouth Firefighters' 5K Run. After driving 1000-miles for my last event, I have a four minute drive for my next one!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Go West Old Man

Thought about it and talked about it so much I finally decided to do it. I signed up for the West River Triathlon in Dickinson, North Dakota this coming Saturday (9/12). It's going to be a long road-trip for a sprint triathlon. A round trip of 1030 miles not counting stops for coffee. As I told the Missus, just the craziness aspect alone is what is so alluring...if that makes sense. It's like telling a toddler, "No! You may NOT have that cookie." What does the toddler end up doing? Wanting it more.

On Thursday after the Well Kept Wife and I are home from work and the Boy® is home from school we will be out the door. That's right. Bad parent that I am, the Boy® gets to play hookey the very first week of school. We'll drive as far as Fargo and bunker down for the night. The Boy® will be allowed test whatever hotel pool there is Friday morning before we continue westward. A quick stop over lunch in Bismarck to visit some family, then on to Dickinson.

This is the 5th year for this event but my first stab at it. I really enjoy trying new venues and then seeing if they make the cut when I decide which events I want to do in ensuing years.

I have traded e-mails with the race director, Eric Kittelson, who currently has a little over forty athletes signed up. People are coming from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho in addition to me representing Minnesota to join the North Dakota athletes. So I get to take on some mountain tri-geeks. We'll see how I fare.

This triathlon is a 450 yard indoor swim, 12 mile bike and 3 mile run. The latest course map now indicates a 11 mile bike and 5K run but who's quibbling? The bike course is suppose to be fairly flat and fast. And the weather looks good, depending on how the wind plays out. As we all know, there are no trees in North Dakota (inside joke).

I hope to provide some updates along the way. And while I am heading west, the majority of Triathlon-dom is heading east to the land of cheese curds. Wisconsin, for the IM event. Good luck to both William Jenks and Jeremy Dunbar as they compete this Sunday 9(/13).

Monday, September 7, 2009


We all got temporary Henna tattoo's at the state fair last week. Five days later still looking good. Maybe I'll have to make this one...on back of one calf...permanent.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wow! Plymouth (Minnesota) Takes Honorable Mention as Top Tri Town

Did anyone read the Triathlete magazine article about America's 20 Best Places to Live if you are a tri-geek? There are a few at the top of my list: Austin (#4), Tempe #17), and Tucson (#1). All places I would not mind retiring to (or go to NOW!) if I have my druthers. I lived in Texas for three years and loved the ability to train year round OUTSIDE. I dread the thought of another winter riding the trainer or running on the treadmill, all the while staring at a wall waiting for the snow to thaw.

And before any of my Texas buddies start harping on my short memory of the heat and humidity....I'd rather have that than frozen toes, fingers, and ears for six months of the year.

I kept reading the article. I wanted to see what other places were named. I literally spewed the Hammer Perpetuem I was drinking when they named Plymouth, Minnesota as an honorable mention. Holy shi....iskobob. Um, that's where I live.

This comes on the heels of Plymouth being named Best Place to Live by Money magazine in 2008 (Money's list of America's best small cities).

OK, we have great trails. No doubt, but the majority of those are chock full of the Hen Clusters. You know what I mean. The lady power walkers who can only walk three or four abreast talking to each other. The only decent trails where a guy can muster up some speed without fear is the Luce Line (the majority of which is limestone and not great for your components) or the Dakota Rail Trail, which is wonderful as long as you aren't riding it on the weekends (see aforementioned reference to Hen Clusters).

But just west of Plymouth, on the outskirts, is a wonderful area of rolling hills and open roads in Baker Park. This is where Gear West sponsors the Tuesday Night Time Trial series. This is where I spend the majority of my time training.

Recent Dakota Rail Trail workout, Garmin style.

Recent Baker Park workout, Garmin style.

There are several lakes in which a person can train in open water, but there are local ordinances so unless you have a boat/kayak/canoe spotting you it is not advised. We do have the local Life Time Fitness indoor swimming facility which is shared with Wayzata high school.

Finding a place to run is fine. There are many local trails, both on- and off-road. The off-road trails, such as at French Regional Park, offer great trail running for those who need to take a break from pounding the concrete. Just be sure and end your trail running before the Minnesota State Bird (mosquito) emerges in early summer. Once the first frost hits, you can once again go off-road without fearing of being 'swarmed'.

There is Gear West, one of the best triathlon shops in the country. Officially located in Long Lake, so Plymouth can't officially claim it. But close enough (10-mins from my house) to claim it.

While Plymouth doesn't host any triathlons, there are no shortage of first-class events all within 90-mins. If so inclined, a local could certainly race twice each weekend there are that many events during our shortened triathlon season.

For the record, the Top Twenty Cities were:
1) Tucson, AZ (voted best terrain as well)
2) Boulder, CO (voted best place to find a training group)
3) Carlsbad, CA (voted best climate)
4) Austin, TX
5) Santa Barbara, CA
6) San Francisco, CA
7) Bend, OR (voted best quiet roads)
8) Clermont, FL (voted best facilities)
9) Alexandria, VA
10) Park City, UT (voted best small town)
11) Maui, HI (voted best big climb)
12) Reno, NV (voted best trails)
13) Madison, WI
14) Wilmington, NC (best place to find a race)
15) Barrington, IL
16) Believue, WA
17) Tempe, AZ
18) Providence, RI
19) Cary, NC
20) Bloomington, IN

The Honorable Mentions
- Boise, ID
- Chattanooga, TN
- Columbia, MD
- Coral Springs, FL
- Des Moines, IA
- Little Rock, AR
- Omaha, NE
- Plymouth, MN- State College, PA
- The Woodlands, TX

So, I guess in my case I should not be complaining too loudly. The grass is pretty green on my side of the fence. To be sure, the grass dies from November to mid-April. But then if I have to live in a city where cabin fever is a real disease, it might as well be Plymouth. That is, until the Boy® is off to college. All bets are off then!

Does anyone have any thoughts on places they've lived (inside or outside the U.S.), and how conducive the atmosphere was to triathlon? It'd be nice to hear anyone elses thoughts on the cities mentioned...or not mentioned.

Special thanks to fellow triathlete Steven Schurtz of Mason City, IA for the heads-up on the article. A few weeks back, Steve tripped and fell getting off his sailboat - caught his foot on a "safety line" fracturing the tibia and fibula. And here I'm complaining about a bad ham and nagging Achilles. Speedy recovery Steve!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Minneapolis Duathlon Photos

Click on the thumbnail for larger view. Click here for or here all the race photos. For my race recap, click here.

The Elite Wave takes off.

It was a sea of bikes in the transition area.

Yours truly during the first 5K.

My NDSU freshman roomie, Bill Poganski, on his first 5K run and looking a lot more fresh than me.

Yours truly taking off from T2 onto the bike course

Bill Nevala, local race director for WinMultiSports, participated for a change.

Yours truly out on the bike course.

Yours truly out on the bike course.

Yours truly coming in off the bike and into T2.

Birds eye view at how it was on the West River Parkway.

Yours truly showing his age during the second 5K.

Bill Nevala on the second run.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Drool & Slobber Gear of the Week

As some of you know, I've been looking into getting a road bike. Currently I just have the Cervélo P3 for my triathlon/duathlon events and a Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra which is akin to a city bike.

The Cannondale is what gets the most mileage and I really like it....but I do need a road bike. Need being defined in this economy as I am able to wait until I can justify the expense beyond the monthly bills and mortgage.

I have been looking at the Wilier line-up of bikes. I've become quite enamored with their craftsmanship and reasonably low cost when compared to other brands on the market. The Wilier Izoard is what I've been looking at.

The '10 models have just started to come out. Take a look at their time-trial bike for 2010. Make sure you have a towel handy to wipe the drool off your chin.

This is the Wilier Cento1-Crono. I think it is just stunning. MSRP is $4499 for frame/fork. I think that is a very reasonable price for an high-end machine. Not that I'll ever own one. The Cervélo is paid for and set up perfectly for me. But, if money were no object...this Wilier would get some serious consideration from me.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Marathon Bike Day with The Boy®

How do you get your nine-year old to ride 26-miles and think it was fun? For starters, you head to the Dakota Rail Trail (my full review from June can be found here). About 6-miles out you stop at the Minnetonka Drive-In and enjoy a burger and a malt. Then you continue out to St. Bonifacious where you challenge him to a motocross race. On the way back, you stop at the same drive-in for a refuel which means an extra large root beer. OK, we didn't set any speed workouts. Except for those sprint intervals I tricked him speed of 17.4 MPH on a single speed bike that weighs more than twice my time-trial bike.

The Boy® was all smiles on the dirt track. Huge smiles. And he hit the dirt a few times (note - bring band-aids the next time out). When I was a lad...these many 40-years ago....we had gravel dead-end roads where boys could develop their emerging cycling skills. Yes, all you helicopoter mommies, bloody knees and skinned forearms happened. And we lived. I still have a dandy scar on my right knee when I went down on a gravel rode defending my 'hood in a bicycle race.

We need more of that today. Dirt paths and off-the-road trails for these youngin's. Little dirt under the nails. Sweaty hair. Skinned knees. They'll thank us for it. Trust me on that one.