Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Race Result: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon

Event: Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon
Date: Sunday, January 23, 2011
Location: Bear Creek Park; Houston, TX
Hotel: Omni Westside Hotel
Weather: 47 F, wind at 5-7 MPH
Official Results: Overall results not made available (weird!); Age Group results

Personal results:

Official Time: 1:12:51.6
Overall: 30th out of 257 (top 12%); 3rd in 50-54 male age group (19 total)

Nice plaque from my 3rd place (50-54) finish

The Recap

I departed the Tundra early Friday afternoon on the 21st. I left behind minus 21F when I awoke that morning and arrived in Houston later that afternoon where it was 63F. As in November when I attended a duathlon in Fort Worth, I was met at the airport by my Texas training partner from the late 1980's, Tim "Buckwheat" Carroll.

I had flown in to Houston to race in the annual "Frost Yer Fanny" Duathlon. The race site was located at Bear Creek Park in west Houston. The 3 mile run, 15 mile bike, 2 mile run duathlon was co-produced by Outloud! Productions and Bicycle World & Fitness, and sponsored by the SouthMidwest Region of USAT.

Saturday Tim and I ran both run courses and drove the bike route. The bike route was 3x5mi loops. The course was the best course layout I have ever seen as far as spectators go as your loved ones would be able to view you no less than nine times. From a competitor standpoint the course was super for us flat loving triathletes:

Elevation for the entire du

Let's go to the race segments.

Run One - 3 miles
Goal - 18:18 (6:06 per mile)
Official Time - 18:12.5 (6:04 per mile) 
AG (50-54) Rank - 2nd (19 total)

Wave one lined up, men and relays. I got my first look at the front runners. I had been told to look for Dana Lyons, an All American in 50-54 age group. His tri-career is solid and he holds many major titles such as 2005 Duathlon Short Course National Age Group Champion, and in 2001 he placed 13th overall and 3rd in his age group at the Duathlon World Championships in Venray, Holland. He now also has his own triathlon coaching site. So, I lined up right behind him.

The gun went off and I was amazed how fast the pace was. Per my Garmin, we hit the first mile at 5:40. I was stride for stride with Lyons and even went ahead at one point....and then I faded. Dana has a super smooth running form. I could see why he is so talented as his stride was so efficient. It was just a mental boost for me to be able to hang with him and not feel like I didn't belong.

Since I've been training either outside in the snow with very poor running surfaces or inside on a very short track, I knew my fitness would be suffering. People told me I would be surprised on how well I would be able to run and in retrospect they were correct. I was able to hold low 6 per minute pace the rest of the first run and had no issues. People were breathing very hard all around me and I felt like I was hardly breathing hard in comparison.

Transition One
Goal - 01:40
Official - 0:59.6
AG (50-54) Rank - 8th (19 total)

I like that they also ranked our transition times within the age group results. I know I have a lot of work here. But recall that because I use Speedplay pedals, I am unable to leave my bike shoes clipped into the bike. So in my opinion this transition time is good. And looking back at 2010 season I don't think I was under one minute for T1. So this was all good.

Bike - 15 miles
Goal - 40:10 (22.4 MPH average)
Official Time - 40:02.0 (22.5 MPH avg) 
AG (50-54) Rank - 5th (19 total)

Three loops of five miles awaited once we exited T2. Hardly any elevation change. Not much, if any wind. But the roads were narrow. There were hard turns where, especially on the first lap, I had to brake and lost speed. I had seen a lot of pebbles and sand the day before on the course and didn't want to roll the bike on the first lap!

Adding to the congestion, as you finished each lap you were now contending with merging athletes just entering from T1 plus slower riders plus USAT officials on motorcycles. Post race, I witnessed a very ugly scene in which an athlete felt the USAT motorcycles were causing more danger by braking and causing congestion on corners and also not passing when the course was best able to accommodate.

On the second lap I was really loving the new saddle I had purchased the day before. I got the Selle SMP Forma model. The gang at Bicycle World of Houston was fantastic in accomodating me. My tires were pumped up to 130 PSI and then the new seat was put on and I was fitted. All in under an hour. Thanks to everyone at the store, especially mechanic Cole Vogtman.

Wow, is this saddle comfortable. And I think it also provides more power to the legs in my own warped thinking but I was able to actually push from my butt down through the whole stroke due to the contour of the saddle....if that makes sense.

On the bike course at Frost Yer Fanny

Finishing up the second lap I was really starting to feel comfy on the course and had increased my speed to 22.7 average and was going to push to try and approach 23 MPH. But as I lifted to make yet another tight left hand turn both calf muscles seized up. It was very bad. I would pedal one stroke, stretch that calf while the other cramped. Then pedal another stroke, stretch the other calf while the previous cramped back up. This went on for at least 3/4 of a mile. I thought I might have to stop to get off and rub the calf muscles down. But just at that point they loosened and I now pedaled even harder to make up for lost time. I actually caught the group I had been jockeying with previously, and passed them.

Transition Two
Goal - 01:30
Official - 1:06.2

AG (50-54) Rank - 11th (19 total)

I know, this was slow. Should have been in the low 40-second range easy but as I tried to put on each racing flat the calf muscle would seize up. I was in a lot of pain and literally just forced the foot in while the cramp was at its zenith for each leg. I then hobbled out of T2.

Run Two - 2 miles
Goal - 12:40 (6:20 per mile)
Official Time - 12:31.1 (6:16 per mile)
AG (50-54) Rank - 4th (19 total)

It took me about 1/2 mile to get the legs to the point where I could actually run normal stride. Then I just started to pick people off. No one passed me which I was rather proud of. I was very pleased with this run since both calf muscles were basically shit.

Finishing up

Next Event: 

February 6 - Hamel 5K; Hamel, MN

Monday, January 17, 2011

Product Review: Swiftwick Socks

The Well Kept Wife™ stuffed my Xmas stocking with two pairs of socks by Swiftwick. These were also recommended to her by the good people of Gear West Triathlon. Since I don't start a new pair of socks until I wear out a previous pair, last weekend was the first chance I had to try this brand.

I have been very happy with my SmartWool socks. So this gave me a good baseline comparison. The only thing I can say about SmartWool is that I can usually get about six months of daily use out of them before they wear through. But they are comfy. So off I went on two runs this weekend. A 10K run indoors and a 5 mile run outside when the temperature was 12 above F.

The first pair of Swiftwick socks that I tried were the Four Pursuit Merino. These retail for about $18.99. The product is 60% Merino Wool, 30% Nylon, and 10% Lycra. The product name has 'four' as the sock has a 4" cuff. So it sits three-quarter-calf.

I really prefer a sock that rides my ankle. So I was not sure I would go for this high of a sock. But the company touts its sock  as being constructed to create managed pressure on the legs, ankles, and feet. Compression cuffs on each sock prevent unnecessary movement and supposedly promotes blood flow to the feet, actually improving your circulation in the lower part of your legs, thus increasing performance while you compete.

I used this sock inside for my 10K run on a small indoor track at the Plymouth Fieldhouse. Certainly not the greatest running surface, and packed with tight turns, it can be a bear on your lower leg and feet. At first, the cuff was noticeable. Again, I typically prefer no cuff but after a few laps I did not notice the cuff at all. It was only one run, so I cannot tout its ability to promote blood flow, etc. But the sock didn't bunch up. The cuff didn't droop. And it seemed to provide outstanding padding without being overly cushy.

The next sock I tried was the Swiftwick Zero Pursuit Merino. This sock retails for about $14.99. It is 60% Merino Wool, 30% Nylon, 10% Lycra. It has a no-show cuff, which sits below the ankle.

I wore this sock with a thin sock liner to run 5 miles in slushy conditions when the temperature was 12 above F. This is a great sock and rates right with the SmartWool sock. My typical SmartWool sock, by comparison, has 74% Merino Wool, 23% Nylon, 3% elastic. At times, that can be too much wool for me as my feet can really heat up. The Swiftwick sock seemed to have more compression qualities and fit really well around my heel. I have small feet so it is hard for me to find a sock that first from heel to toe. My foot stayed warm and I had no issues with wet, cold feet despite running through some slush runoff from our salt laden roads.

Some additional information on the socks, straight from the horse's mouth:

Our socks are knitted at 200 needles; the highest density you’ll find in socks. The higher the needle count, the tighter the knit. Our socks are so tightly knitted that no trail debris or foreign material can penetrate your sock causing irritation and blistering. This structure creates a second-skin feel, prevents shifting or bunching, and eliminates the risk of friction blisters while making your shoes fit more comfortably. Our high-gauge construction produces a softer, denser, and more durable garment with outstanding graphic detail. Wear Swiftwick, and you’ll buy fewer socks. It’s that simple.

Superior Climate Control

Swiftwick socks, named for their outstanding thermal properties, are available in two distinctly different blends — Merino Wool and Olefin. Both fibers have advanced wicking properties that when combined with our design will manage moisture, allowing easy evaporation of the sweat that travels along the surface of the fiber. Swiftwick’s combination of synthetic and natural fibers are up to 10 times more hydrophobic than cotton, preventing water absorption and moisture retention in the sock’s structure. Optimal foot health requires keeping feet dry and blister-free in all weather conditions.

Compression Technologies
Swiftwick uses finer grade, stronger materials – Olefin, Merino Wool, Nylon, and Spandex­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­—with a 200-knit construction to create managed pressure on the legs, ankles, and feet. Our compression footbed cradles your foot’s arch. Compression cuffs on each sock prevent unnecessary movement, making the sock the most form fitting on the market. It also promotes blood flow to the feet, actually improving your circulation in the lower part of your legs, thus increasing performance while you compete. Improved vascular performance and blood flow also means reduced leg fatigue, which speeds recovery after a long run or ride.

Engineered For Performance

Swiftwick socks provide your feet’s 60 joints, 200 ligaments and 35 muscles with the support of engineered performance in mechanical construction, fiber, and compression technologies. From the sturdy y-heel contour to our signature chassis—a thin, channeled upper—to our ‘window seam’ toe closure, our team constructs each sock for optimal breathability, durability, comfort, and support. We understand how to deliver a sock capable of dissipating damaging forces with high quality textiles, the right fiber composition in the right place, and construction techniques in manufacturing and finishing that make us confident when we say --

Swiftwick is the best you’ll ever wear… GUARANTEED.
You can't go wrong with either brand. If you are looking for a good sock that will also give you a bit more compression, then by all means try the Swiftwick's. If you are looking for a bit more cushion or a bit more wool then try the SmartWool socks. Having worn SmartWool while biking all last season, I am pretty sure the Swiftwick socks will serve me well in that sport as well.

Have fun!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Race Preview: Hamel 5K

Event: 8th Annual Hamel 5K
Date: Sunday, February 6, 2011 - 9:45 am. Entry Form.
Location: Hamel, MN. Map.
Previous Results: 2010 - 5th overall, 20:14 (252 total); 2009 - 22:06 (injured hamstring)

Add the Hamel Lions 5K to my list of events this year. The event is hosted by the Hamel Lions Club and will take place on Super Bowl Sunday, February 6, at 9:45 am. You may register at the Hamel Community Center Located at 3200 Mill Street. Mill Street is a new road located between the Hamel State Bank and the Hardware Store in Hamel, MN. Look for the signs on Hamel Road directing you to the Community Center. Advanced Entry Fee: $20.00. Day of the Race: $25.00.

Pancake Breakfast takes place from 7:30 am - 1:00 pm. The Pancake Breakfast is included with registration along with a "Freeze Your Buns Run" long sleeve shirt. There will also be free Child Care during the event. Pets on leashes are also welcomed.

This is really a fun run event that is not officially timed. Each year I have used this event with one goal in mind: Get in a speed workout and come away injury free. And I love the race T-Shirts at this event. They are one of my favorites. I especially like the previous years temperatures displayed on one sleeve:

The 2010 shirt

Brrr! 2007 must have been a joy to run in.
This could end up being a Maas family fun run as well. We will keep an eye on the weather as the date approaches but the Well Kept Wife™ and the Boy® are considering this fun event as well.

The course is basic.

Elevation is not too bad.

If you are in the area, come out and join us on this run!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Official 2010 USAT National Ranking

The numbers are in. I'm OK with my results and national ranking. This was the first year I purposely competed in enough USAT sanctioned triathlons & duathlons to qualify for a national ranking. It was really a feel my way process as the whole rankings system is sort of complicated. Let's revisit the ranking system.

How are USAT rankings calculated?

1) Determine which participants received an overall ranking in the prior year, and therefore received a pacesetter ranking.

The pacesetter rankings are embedded in the rankings system and once a race is loaded, the rankings system automatically pulls all of the pacesetters in the race and uses their times to calculate the par time. Although possible, it can be very difficult to manually calculate the rankings due to the large number of pacesetters in every race.

2) Convert the times into minutes so they can work in a mathematical formula.

3) Multiply each participant’s time in minutes by his or her pacesetter ranking and divide by 100. This tells us how quickly a pacesetter that is ranked at a 100 could have completed the course.

4) Drop the top 20 percent and bottom 20 percent of calculated times. This solves the problem of extraordinarily great performances (a pacesetter significantly outperforms their ’07 pacesetter ranking) and extraordinarily poor performances (ex. flat tire or dehydration).

5) Average the remaining times to come up with the “par time.” The “par time” is what all times will be compared to when calculating individual rankings. Competitors are racing against the “par time” as far as scoring is concerned. The par time is mathematically what we believe the fastest amateur athlete in the country would be able to complete the course in.

6) Divide the par time by each participant’s finish time and multiply that by 100 (same calculation as that used to determine the par time). An additional 10 percent will be added to the female participants’ scores for “gender grading.” This is done to allow women the ability to crack the 100 point score just as men do.

A minimum of three scores is needed to be ranked in the sport of on-road triathlon. However, only two are needed in the sports of duathlon, off-road triathlon, and aquathlon. Finally, the top five percent of members in each age group receive All-American honors, and the next five percent receive All-American Honorable Mention honors.

In the male 45-49 age group (I was 49 in the year ending 2010) for duathlon I ended up 48th out of 193 athletes who qualified for a ranking. So, the top 24.9%. I was sort of torked because the race results from the Nebraska duathlon were never sent in despite the best efforts of myself and USAT to contact the race director. I did really well in that race, and I'm sure it would have elevated my par score. But being 48th in the country ain't so bad I suppose.

In the male 45-49 age group for triathlon I ended up 434th out of 3012 athletes who qualified for a ranking. That equated to the top 14.4%. That surprised me to be so near a national honorable mention (top 10%). Bottom par score for a HM within this age group was 84.11098. It gives me a goal for 2011.

My 2010 USAT sanctioned race summary:

How did everyone else do? I hope you all met or exceeded your goals. Best of luck in 2011!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Totals: Month Ending December 2010 and Year End

A bad month, but a good year for total numbers. December, in retrospect, I should be happy with the numbers considering I missed fourteen (14!!) total workout days. Weather and the Real Job© just killed me. So if I double the numbers that pretty much fits with other months this year. But man, I lost a lot of time.

For the year, it was very, very good. No major injuries save for a minor flair up of one Achilles in June. But nothing like 2009 when I had like 40 total running miles during June-July-August. I'm happy with my 2010 workout totals and hope that carries into 2011.

December 2010 Total Numbers

Total Workout Hours: 21:47:40
Swim Miles - 8.05
Bike Miles - 181.75
Run Miles - 54.82 (7:53 per mile avg, friggin' snow)

Compare to last year -

December 2009 Total Numbers

Swim Miles - 13.02
Bike Miles - 150.9
Run Miles - 36.58

Compare to last month -

November 2010 Total Numbers

Total Workout Hours: 24:49:27
Swim Miles - 4.20
Bike Miles - 206.15
Run Miles - 84.69 (7:30 per mile avg)

Year-Ending (2010)

Swim Miles - 125.5 (108.1 in '09)
Bike Miles - 3266.58 (2812.79 in '09)
Run Miles - 1140.4 (459.82 in '09)

Next Event -

Jan 23 - Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon; Houston, TX (USAT) - 3mi run, 15mi bike, 2mi run