Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Race Result: 2011 Sartell Apple Duathlon

Event: 29th Annual Sartell Apple Duathlon
Date: Saturday, May 28, 2011
Location: Sartell, MN
Hotel: Home, sweet home
Weather: 54F; sunny; wind from SSW at 8-10MPH
Official Results: Overall results

Personal Results
Official Time: 1:40.46
Overall: 36th overall (226 total); 27th in AG Males (146 total); 1st in 50-54 AG* (12 total)
* - Tri-geek God Charlie Roach won the AG, but since he won the Masters divisions was relegated from the AG awards

I woke up at 4AM Saturday morning to the sound of rain. But that soon cleared and the day turned out to be perfect for this edition of the Apple Du. The feared wind never really materialized so it did not factor in. The weather was there for people to blow away some fast times.

Dan Hedgecock, of St. Paul, did just that. Sporting his Gear West race kit, Dan won by nearly four minutes over Brooks Grossinger. With a opening 5K of 15:47, a 20.5 mi bike that averaged 25.6 MPH, and a closing 5K of 16:50 one can immediately see the domination. Dan probably will be favored heading into the Pigman Sprint event next weekend in Iowa.

Just as impressive was Suzie Finger winning on the ladies side. Suzie's margin of victory over Julie Hull was a little less than one minute using splits of 19:57 (5K), 22.1 avg on the bike, and 21:47 for the final 5K.

The performance of the day amongst us mortal age groupers easily fell to Charlie Roach (54) who took 10th overall and won the men's 50-54 age bracket by eight minutes over some also-ran named Brian Maas. OK, we know I'm not an also-ran which makes his performance that much more impressive. Roach opened with a 17:40 5K (5:42 pace), averaged 22.7 MPH on the bike, and closed with a 18:48 5K. Congrats to Charlie and it was great to see and speak with you again!

Time for the personal report.

On race day I was a full 12-weeks removed from the pelvic stress fracture. I had run a total of 19 miles in the 10-days leading up to this event. All smallish stuff of 2-3 miles. The most it seemed I could coax out of the body was 7:30 per mile pace. I was not too confident heading into this event. I decided to attempt it anyway, and just take it easy and use it as a speed workout and just use the event as a building block to late summer/early fall events.

I got to the event early and set up next to Chris Hawes. Chris is another multi-sport blogger and also fellow Gear West dude. It helps to calm ones nerves if you can chat with some people before the gun goes off. So, thanks Chris for allowing me to chat!

I don't know what it is, but when it gets close to gun-time the old mind kicks into another mode. Sort of Neanderthalish. I get focused, the adrenaline starts to pump and then no matter the condition of the body I am somehow able to coax out a better than expected performance most of the time. I suppose I've been doing this for so long that the bodies 'remembers' the race speed and the mind says to the body, "Hey, I've got this."

1st Run - 5K

Goal: 22:28 (7:15 per mile)
Official Time: 19:27 (6:16 per mile); 2nd in AG

What can I say? I lined up with Charlie and we just 'went'. The interesting thing about Apple is that there is a HUGE hill you have to climb right away. Probably 1/2-mile long. As I watch Charlie sail away, I'm glancing at my watch and its reading 5:15 and I'm freaking out. No way I can maintain that so I step into an easy glide and glance at my watch and its reading 5:45. And we're still climbing.

There are no mile markers at Apple so I believe I went thru the first mile under 6 minutes. After that it seemed that I was hovering around 6:07 to 6:20 pace the rest of the way in. I really eased up about a half-mile before T1 as I know I'm not in the sort of conditioning yet to maintain this sort of pace.

For the first run I used my new Mizuno Wave Universe 3's. All 3.7 ounces of them. I have practiced in them a few times now but this was my first race in them. They worked super. I felt like I was running barefoot.

The downside is that two days removed from the du and my legs still feel beat up. Especially in the lower calf areas. This could be to the fact that the shoes are so minimal. On the other hand, it is not like I've been doing any intervals or speed work. My legs feel like I've just begun running again. All the same aches in all the same places when a person just starts to ramp up their miles and then has a hard race.

I think I will eventually come to like love the shoes. I'm not sure I would use them in any event over a 10K, though.


Goal: 0:50
Official Time: 01:09

I've not done this event since 1991 and its changed a lot since then. So I was simply guessing on my T1 time. I was really thirsty so I took a few seconds to take a good swig from the bike bottle before I grabbed the bike. As I exited, I heard Jerry MacNeil of MN Tri News explaining to the crowd that I was coming back from a fracture. That was a little incentive for me to have a good race after that.

Bike - 20.5 miles

Goal: 54:40 (22.5 MPH)
Official Time: 56:38 (21:7 MPH); 3rd in AG

Again, I was going into this event blind as I wasn't sure of what the course looked like. I did review the course video at the race website but one can't really get a feel for the hills from a video. Let me tell you, this course has some elevation:

Apple Complete Course Elevation
For me to take on a hilly course and be only 1 MPH average behind a person like Charlie Roach, I'll take that any day. A-n-y day. Because we all know how much I hate climbing. Maybe I'm getting better at it?

I felt really good through 12 miles and then the familiar calf twinges started in which was my signal to expect some calf related cramping. Sure enough, a few miles later and one calf locked up harder than granite. I had to back way off my pace, get it under control, and get the speed back up. Then the other seized up. So for about four to five miles I was dealing with this issue. A couple of minutes basically coasting along on the bike, trying to knead out these cramps followed by intervals of spinning like crazy to get caught up. Shampoo, rinse, repeat. But I expected this. Being out from running for 12-weeks, biking for 6 weeks, and then asking the body to perform as if nothing happened is too much to ask. That's why I'm trying to fit in more June/July events...to get back into racing fitness.

Had it not been for the cramps, I'm pretty sure I could have gotten it over 22 MPH average for the day. But I'm not crying over it. And despite the hills and multiple tight-tight turns, I did enjoy the course.


Goal: 0:50
Official Time: 01:31

This was bad. Right before I got to T2 the left calf cramped up again. I struggled to get off my bike and then hobbled to the rack. Immediately the left calf cramped up even more as if to say, "Listen Homey. I'm done and I ain't gonna run that second 5K." I was yelling the pain was so bad. More than one head turned my way. I managed to get the shoes on and started to hobble out with Jerry saying something about, "Brian is a walking pharmacy today."

Note - Dr. John Post recently wrote a nice blog entry on calf strains.

Run - 5K

Goal: 24:01 (7:45 pace)
Official Time: 22:03 (7:06 pace); 2nd in AG

Usually, I hate it whenever my pace exceeds 7 minutes per mile in any race. Today I would have taken 9 minutes per mile. But as I'm climbing that damn hill leading out of T2 on the second 5K I glance at my watch. I am expecting to see something like 8:45 per mile as I'm really hurting. I've dressed too warm (went with long sleeved Under Armor under my kit) and I'm overheating. My legs are cramping up. And I'm feeling like I will end up walking.

The watch is saying 7:03. Christ.

I crest the hill and just relax and get into a rhythm of picking people off. My mind is simply saying, "Relax, relax, relax" over and over. I think about stopping at the last aid station for some water but I brush it off, not wanting to lose any valuable seconds. I know Charlie is in front of me. I don't recall anyone in my AG passing me at any point (ages were marked on our legs) but I don't want to have to sprint for a podium spot. To even be thinking about a podium is blowing my mind. I've worked too hard this race to lose out last minute.

For the second run, I had brought along the ol' reliable Luna's. As mentioned earlier, I had opened with the Mizuno's and now my legs were hash. So I grabbed the Luna's and put them on for the second run and hoped that the ripped sides would hold for yet another 5K.

The super thin sides of the Luna's showing their age after nearly 300 race mile.

With about 400-yards to go the body is shutting down. I am sure I look like shit as I approach the finish line. I appreciated the 17-year old telling me to, "C'mon, finish strong" as he passes me. But then he doesn't realize I also just beat him by seven minutes as the race had wave starts. Jerry is saying something about, "And he has every right to look beat up today."

And it is over.

Garmin Course Review

Afterwards, I sought out a massage for the calves. I'd like to thank the folks at Williams Integracare for kneading out those legs. They felt so much better afterwards.

Apple gives away some ├╝ber cool awards. These awards are made from granite, are really heavy, and will look nice on the mantel.

1st place AG award from Apple Du
Acquaintances Renewed

Always good to see familiar faces at the events. Just as much fun as the race itself. Those not already mentioned:
  • Bill Nevala - Rochester native, former race director and fellow tri-geek.
Acquaintances Made
  • Joe and Ann Moyer - Rochester natives and elite tri-geeks. 'Super' Mario Minelli had told me that Joe suffered a stress fracture in his femur. So Joe was on crutches at this event to cheer on his wife. In talking with Joe after the event, he will have a 12-18 week recovery time.
  • Wendy Nevala - Wife of Bill, Wendy had a great bike ride. She had the 5th overall fastest bike split of the day amongst 68 non-elite females. In fact, her bike split bettered three of the elite girls!
Next Event:

If I can recover in time (body feeling beat up day after Apple), I'll be at the Pigman Sprint Triathlon near Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Sunday (June 5). A 0.5K swim, 25K bike, 5K run triathlon which will be my first USAT sanctioned event of 2011. I have zero hopes of a podium finish here. The top four people in the 50-54 AG all return from 2010 and they are all fast. Plus, there are currently 41 people signed up within this AG so you know there will be plenty of additional fast people in there. I would be happy with a top 10, to be honest. I should know if I will be able to make the trip by Thursday evening/Friday morning. Just have to coax the legs into a speedy recovery. This is going to be a two massage week with my personal masseuse at Massage Envy with massages on Monday and Thursday scheduled.

And what does one do when they are sore and doubtful of recovery in time for the next race? Sign up for more races! I just added the Manitou Sprint Triathlon (White Bear Lake, MN) and Lake Waconia Triathlon (Waconia, MN) to my 2011 calendar (all my 2011 results, races, and tentative calendar can be seen on the right navigation area). My next few weeks look busy:

Sunday, Jun 5 (signed up) - Pigman Sprint Triathlon; Cedar Rapids, IA (USAT) - Swim .5K, Bike 25K, Run 5K

Sunday, Jun 12 (signed up) - 22nd Manitou Sprint 0.5mi Swim, 13.5mi Bike, 3mi Run

Saturday, Jun 18 - Bismarck Sprint Triathlon 500m Swim, 20k Bike, 5k Run. Bismarck is currently under severe flooding so whether this event takes place or not is up in the air.

Sunday, Jun 26 (signed up) - Lake Waconia Tri (USAT) 0.5mi swim, 20mi bike, 4mi run

Saturday, Jul 2 (signed up) - Minneman Triathlon; Oak Grove, MN (USAT) - 0.3 Mile Swim, 13mi bike, 3 mi run

Monday, May 23, 2011

Race Preview: Sartell Apple Duathlon

Event: 29th annual Sartell Apple Duathlon
Course: 5K run, 33K (20.5 miles) bike, 5K run
Date: Saturday, May 28
Location: Sartell, MN
Previous Results: 1992 62nd overall, 18th in 30-34 AG

We'll get back to that 1992 race in a bit. Nineteen years ago.....wow. Anyway, as of now I plan to do this event. Notice I did not say race. I won't be racing. My 5K runs will be jogs. The leg is coming along but I simply cannot accelerate at the moment.

Take this past Saturday, for instance. I had a nice brick: 42 mi bike (19.4 MPH avg) then 4 mi run (7:30 pace). The leg was OK on the run. I had zero pain in the butt where the pelvic stress fracture originated from. However when I try to open the throttle a bit I get a bit of pain in the front groin. So I think if I take all my runs easy I should be OK.

Back to that event in 1992. Back then, the Apple Du was held on September 12. It was a 2.5 mile run, a 20 mile bike and 2.5 mile run. My splits were (I would have been 31 then):

Run 1 - 16:14 (6:29/mi)
T1 - 1:20
Bike - 1:00.06 (19.3 avg)
T2 - 1:03
Run 2 - 18:23 (7:23/mi)

The male winner was Harley Hanson of Brookings, SD. Anyone wanna guess who won the gals? Yep, Jan Guenther. More importantly was my choice of race day fashion for the event. Ah, yeah. What was I thinking?

I must have dressed in the dark that morning
So, unless I have a bad week I hope to be toeing the line this coming Saturday in Sartell. Then, when the gun goes off I'll glide to the back of the pack and try to catch everyone on the bike.

Shout Outs!

Chris Hawes, for his PR at Gear West Duathlon on May 22. It was a ultra muddy affair at that event. Just take a gander at his shoes afterwards!

Or even worse, the guy the shoes belong to. Looks like a XC race in Oregon for crying out loud. And it sort of looks like fun.

Greta Simpson, for her 3rd overall (female elite) at the Oakdale Duathlon on May 14.

Mario Minelli, for his 36:45 10K performance at Stay out of the Sun Run on May 20.

Mike Fretland, for his 1:25.12 in the Fargo Half marathon on May 21. Mike took 2nd in the M 35-39 AG. 38th overall out of 6156 runners.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Race Result: 2011 Lakes to Pines Triathlon

Event: 4th Annual Lakes To Pines Triathlon
Date: Saturday, May 14, 2011
Location: Park Rapids, MN
Hotel: AmericInn
Weather: 41F; rain with sleet; wind from NE at 12 gusting to 20
Official Results: Overall results

Personal results:  Done as relay with the Boy® (age 11)

Official Time: 1:20.27
Overall: 1st overall in Male Relay division

It was more spectacular weather for the best kept secret in Midwest triathlons, the Lakes to Pines Triathlon in Park Rapids, MN. In 2010 we were blessed with sunny skies, race temperatures in the 60s, and light winds. Maybe it was the weather in 2010 that led to a record sixty-three people entering. Maybe it was the weather that allowed seven males to go under the previous course record. Five females went under the previous female course record.

In 2010, the male class was won by Mike Fretland of Bismarck, ND. The female class was won by Kailee Fretland, wife of Mike. But they could not make the trip this year. Kailee is preggers with their first child and Mike had nesting duty this weekend. Nesting as in tiling, painting and many other items on Kailee's wish list.

In 2011, we were greeted with sleet. Hey, sleet is spectacular....right? Yep, sleet. Rain. Gusty winds. Temperatures in the low 40s. Without weather, we'd probably have had nothing to talk about.

But despite the weather, the fantastic team of Park Rapids Swim Boosters (it is a money raiser for the swim team) once again made all participants feel welcome and at home. I love this race. It is one of my favorites. There truly is a personal touch at work here. And that cannot be undervalued or overstated.

I also want to personally thank all the volunteers and the law enforcement officials. This is one smooth run affair and one very safe event.

Major news flash: this event is moving to June 16 in 2012. That is the tentative date. So circle your 2012 calendar now.

With no Fretlands to dominate the field, the male division favorite immediately fell to David Lewis (Nevis, MN) while the female favorite fell to Noelle Andrychowicz (Blaine, MN). In speaking to David before the race, he cursed out Mike for not coming as he wanted nothing to do with a 'favorite' tag. David has been dealing with some muscle spasms in a trapezoid muscle for a few months now. I wish David a speedy recovery. Not that he needed it. He lived up to his billing and cruised home to victory.

Male Overall Champion: David Lewis

On the female side, not only did Noelle win. But she set a new course record in doing so. Noelle took almost a minute off of Kailee Fretlands previous record set last year.

Female Overall Champion: Noelle Andrychowicz

Relay teams were very few this year but that takes nothing away from their combined efforts. Winning the CoEd Relay was the WaHeHe team of Rachel Wallace, Rodney Helm, & Louise Helm. Winning the Male Relay was the Wile E. Coyote & the Road Runner team of Brian Maas and Graham Maas (aka The Boy®). More on that last one later.

The performance of the day easily fell to Neil King who took 4th overall and won the mens 60-64 age bracket by twenty-seven minutes. King (61), of Nevis, winters in Sedona and he and I got to chat about wintering in Arizona after this event. That's my dream some day....winter or live down in the southwest.

Time for the personal report.

I've been addicted to speed my whole life. From the time I first strapped on a helmet at age four and sat in my Dad's sprint car (see photo below) I have wanted to take my body and anything on wheels as fast as I can. Back in the early 1960's, my dad was the North Dakota Class sprint car champion. You might say I was born into speed.

My 1st speed workout. I'm wearing my helmet, safety first!
So, when I had my pelvic stress fracture setback in March it was tough for me to sit back and not do anything for weeks and weeks and weeks. I was miserable. And I did not want to miss this race.

I went to the Boy® and asked him if he would like to do a triathlon relay with me. I would swim and bike and all he had to do was to run a 5K. He thought about it for exactly 0.00014 seconds. The speed gene does not skip a generation, you see. He was in. Not only was he in, he wanted to do a double: Compete with the Old Man on a relay and then come back an hour later and do the kids events. To the tape:

Swim - 500 yards (pool)
Official Time: 08:32 (9th fastest swim overall)
Previous PR at this course: 07:49

I knew I would be a bit slower this year since I've only been in the water since April 13 after a 38-day layoff due to the fracture. So you know what? I'm happy with the result. It was just fine. My actual time was 08:12 in the pool. The official time is marked once you hit T1 just like any other tri. My goal was to go under 8:40.

Official Time: 02:16
Previous PR at this course: 0:52

Hey, it was cold. So I (and 98% of the others) stopped to put on socks, gloves, and a long-sleeved upper garment. Let me tell you.....it was worth it to lose that time.

Bike - 14.7 Double Loop Course
Official Time: 42:00 (21:00 MPH; fastest overall bike split of the day)
Previous PR at this course: 39:06 (22.6 MPH)

So, I'm into the second loop of the bike and my legs are completely numb. My socks and shoes have been soaked since twenty seconds into the ride and now my face is stinging. Why is my face stinging? I can't figure it out. Then it dawns on me. Sleet is hitting my face. White pellets from Heaven. Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick what did I get myself into?

But other than the gusty wind (up to 20 MPH), the sleet, the fact that my feet are blocks of ice.....I'm rather enjoying myself. The race director had one of those portable radar units placed on the back side of the loop as you descend a small hill and I'm trying to get it to read 23 MPH as I head into the wind. I succeed. Small victory!

Just as with the swim, I have only been riding since April 13 so to come away with the fastest bike split of the day in very poor conditions? I'll take it. Even though I know Mario & Adam & William are snickering!

Official Time: 00:26
Previous PR at this course: 0:51

This was a piece of cake. Ride in. Rack bike. Slap the Boy's® hand. Head inside, grab some dry clothes and go find the Boy® on the run.

Run - 5K
Official Time: 27:13 (8:44 pace)
Previous PR for the Boy®: 27:44

So my son (he's 11) does me proud by racing in poor conditions and runs a PR to boot. I had to get special permission from the race directors (Thanks Glen and Lori!!) to allow him to run as the adult event rule is 13 yo and over. Since the run is a closed course, they allowed it.

I'm jogging out to meet up with him on the course and everywhere race volunteers and marshals are telling me, "Graham was flying when he went by" and "Graham was looking so strong" and of course the girl volunteers were saying "Graham was running really fast and he is SO cute". He has been growing his hair out, Justin Bieber style. So I teased him afterwards that the girls were really excited that Justin Bieber was in the race.

Afterwards, the Boy® had about 75 minutes to recover prior to the kickoff of the kids event. He is waiting at poolside when the announcements for the adult race begin. When they announced us for winning the male relay division, he was on cloud nine as he walked by his fellow kid competitors to pick up our plaques.

Now then, no one tell the Boy® that we were the only male relay in the event. All he knows is that he was part of the Big Boy and Girl event and he brought home the victory for his dad who is hurt. This is one of the special memories that last forever. I encourage all Tri-Geeks with kids to plan a few races each year to do a relay with your child and/or spouse. It is special and something you will never forget and neither will they.

Note - Tri-Geeks have strong offspring. Take note Of Jace Minelli's 23:50 5K recently.

The Boy® did well in the kids event. This year they split the kids into two age categories: 9 and under and 10-12. The bigger kids swam 100-yards instead of 50-yards and biked 1.10 miles instead of 0.48 miles. The Boy® was 2nd overall out of the water and that's the way he finished. He had a PR split of 1:26 in the 100 yard swim, looked real good on the bike. On the run, he ran tactically which pleased me. He knew he could not catch the lead boy and kept a watchful eye on the next runner behind him. He had used up all his legs in the 5K so he ran a smart kids race.

Maas Family Hardware from Lakes to Pines

Next family goal: We will get the Well Kept Wife™ involved in a multisport event within the year. Either solo or as a family relay. Alas, she had to remain home for this one as we had a niece graduating from Macalaster on the same day. But she is still running and has the bug in her since placing well in her first two events last year in Fargo and Arizona.

As for me, I was surprised that I was able to run a mile with the Boy as he finished his 5K. So......if I can start running soon I plan to still keep Apple and Pigman on my calendar and do them to try and get back into run shape. We'll see. If you see me at these events, that will be a good sign.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Race Preview: Lakes to Pines Triathlon & Shout Outs

Event: 4th annual Lakes To Pines Triathlon
Date: Saturday, May 14
Location: Park Rapids, MN
Previous Results: 2010 Overall Rank - 5th (63 total); 2009 Overall Rank - 3rd (35 total); 2008 Overall Rank - 3rd (28 total)

Main Triathlon
Swim: 500 yard swim held in the Park Rapids H.S. Pool
Bike: Double Loop 14.7 mile ride on paved roads
Run: 5K run on a fast, out-and-back course finishing on the H.S.Track

Kids Triathlon
Ages 9 & Under - Swim:  50 yard swim. Bike: 0.48 miles. 0.30 mile run finishing on the H.S.Track.  Ages 10-12 - Swim:  100 yard swim. 1.10 mile bike, Run 0.30 mile run finishing on the H.S.Track.

Last year's event had stellar weather. The top seven (7) males, including myself, went under the previous course record. Five (5) females went under the previous female course record. Back to defend his 2010 title will be Mike Fretland of Bismarck, ND. This will be Mike's first event after his 3:11 marathon at Boston.

I know what you are thinking. How am I going to do a triathlon with my pelvic stress fracture? I can't run yet, so what's up? Simple: Often talked about but never done, the Maas family will be doing its first triathlon relay. Well, two of us anyway, as the Well Kept Wife© has to remain behind due to family obligations (graduation of a niece).

For this event, I will be swimming and biking before tagging off to the Boy® who will then run the 5K. He is pretty excited about his first 'adult' triathlon event. And then he figures if he has at least an hour to rest, he'll then compete solo in the kids event. Me thinks I have created a monster. Train and race everyday like it's your last on Earth. Wonder who he got that from?

So, while this injury could have sent me into a deep, dark funk I have accepted it and am dealing with it in the vein of the old adage. When life gives you lemons.....

Please note that next year, this event will be have new race date as they are moving it to June. June 16, 2012 to be exact. Capture it on your calendar now. This is one of the best kept secrets out there for Minnesota triathlons. Although, it might not be so secret any more.

Shout Outs!

Only one this week, and it goes to the Boy®. He had his first long course (meters) swim event of the season at the U of M Aquatic Center and he did super. We went in hoping for 2 C-Qualifying finishes out of his six events and he ended up with four. And quite nearly six. In order of finish, on Saturday he swam:
  • 50 Meter Back in 51.43. C Standard is 54.29
  • 200 Meter Freestyle in 03:24.35. C Standard is 03:36.99. His 50-splits were 47:35, 54.22, 52.98, 49.79.
  • 50 Meter Freestyle in 43.44. C Standard is 45.69. He was a little gassed, but survived.

On Sunday he swam:
  • 100 Meter Freestyle in 01:31.14. C Standard is 01:40.09. His 50-splits were 42:86 & 48.28. Note how his opening 50 was faster than his 50 open from the night before. Amazing.
  • 50 Meter Butterfly in 51.08. C Standard is 50.79. Missed by a mere 0.29 seconds. He was bummed but pretty happy and is confident he'll get it next time.
  • 400 Meter Freestyle in 07:45.72. C Standard is 07:38.29. Missed by 7.43 seconds. For his very first attempt, I thought it great. His coaches loved the fact that he did bilateral breathing on every 5th stroke the whole way. He swam his last 50 in :52. He didn't complain about the distance afterwards. I did give him pause though when I asked if he felt he could immediately bike and then run after such a swim. He just smiled and said, "Sure, Dad. No problem."
The team overall swam great. So, I have changed my mind and am giving a second Shout Out! to the entire team and coaching staff of the Plymouth Piranhas. You all did awesome and you all did a fantastic jump cheering and supporting your teammates!

The Boy® & Champ swimmer Sam H.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Product Review: Shimano TR70 Cycling Shoes

My old cycling shoes have been bugging my feet a bit lately. I get off the bike, and the outside of my foot is sore/numb and I can barely walk for a few minutes after dismounting. I account for this, I believe, due to the shoe having stretched over nearly 5 1/2 years of steady service and thousands of miles of riding. I figured it was time to invest in a new pair of cycling shoes.

I headed out to Gear West to pick up my racing bike, which had just been shipped back from wintering in Texas. There I met with Drew Frakes and we started to look at shoe possibilities. I finally settled on the Shimano TR70's.

In the triathlon market, this shoe was used by Craig Alexander on his way to his 2008 victory in Kona.

However, it was not as easy as simply selecting my size and then whipping out the credit card. Oh, no. For these are heat moldable shoes. Some of the key features include:

•Heat-moldable, Custom-Fit technology: a Shimano innovation

•Ultra-light uni-directional carbon sole for the perfect balance of strength, rigidity and maximum power transfer

•Structural, vented synthetic micro-fiber leather adds upper support

•Composite temperature control honey comb mesh

•Reinforced heel cup and outsole pads for added protection

•Addtional top-strap closure for added support and stability

•Oversize entry target strap design for fast transitions

•Seamless, quick-dry interior for comfort without socks

Shimano actually calls their technology "Heat Moldable Custom Fit" and makes it available in several high end shoes. By fully moldable I mean that the upper of the shoe as well as the insole is moldable. Moldable insoles (or foot beds) have been around for quite some time with reasonable success. I personally find that custom orthotics, moldable insoles (made for cycling) or even some standard aftermarket insoles can significantly improve rider comfort, by providing additional arch contour to mostly flat soles. Nevertheless, Shimano's molding of the upper part of the shoe is an industry first, and this is done at the retail environment with minimum wait.

The process is simple and from start to finish takes about 30 minutes. After determining the correct size, the insole is removed and "baked" in a Shimano specific oven for a couple of minutes. Then, it is inserted back in the shoes and worn by the customer for a few minutes to allow the mold to settle. The same process is done for the other foot. Next, it's time for the shoes themselves to be "baked" for 2-3 minutes each. Once removed from the oven, the customer puts the shoe on (with the insole inside) and foot and shoe are fitted into a boot- shaped plastic bag.

A hose is then inserted in the bag and the plastic boot is sealed at the calf with a tight Velcro strap. A machine then sucks all the air out of the bag, creating a vacuum and ensuring a really snug fit. It helps to smooth out air pockets in the process and to use the hands to completely mold the shoe to the foot. After a minute or two, the machine is turned off, the strap is released and the bag is removed. The result is custom, uniform, snug fit. The process is then repeated with the other shoe. Note that the shoe can be molded up to three times in the life of the shoe, which should be enough to get the desired fit.

Gimmick or good process? I think if it was just heating up the insole I would classify as gimmick. But with the vacuum process, you could feel the shoe adapting to your foot. And the shoe felt instantly comfortable like a old pair of jeans.

If you want to see what this process looks like, here is a video:

I have had a few rides in the shoes and they feel great. Stiff and responsive. The only bitch I would have is that one of the straps kept hitting a crank and coming undone. What I have done for now is add an extra layer of Velcro to make sure the strap stays in place. This is discussed in the early minutes of the following video. This person actually cut one of the tabs from his strap.

Price - $349.95. A bit high, but then bike shoes last for a long, long time. So, a good overall investment.

Monday, May 2, 2011

April Numbers & Shout Outs!

It may be a bit before I return to the usual monthly totals as I work through the pelvic stress fracture. I've lost a bunch of training time. But, it could be worse in many ways. The race season is just underway here in the Tundra. And I'm at least back to biking and swimming.

The dates between my previous swim workout to when I got back into the water was March 16 to April 13. 28 days missed there.

The dates between my previous bike workout to when I got back on the saddle was March 6 to April 13. 38 days missed there.

Right now, I have yet to be able to run. I gave it a "go" on April 25, and lasted 0.4 miles before realizing I simply cannot run yet. I'm not going to push it.

I'm surprised at how well my swim and bike is responding after significant time off. The thing I'm most concerned about, other than when I can return to running, is my weight gain. I was not smart enough to change my eating habits during my layoff so I am currently seven pounds heavier than I was prior to the stress fracture. I'll have to work on that.

April 2011 Total Numbers

Total Workout Hours: 17:59.05
Total training days missed to planned rest day or injury: 15
Swim Yards - 25000
Bike Miles - 175.48
Run Miles - A big, FAT, zero

Those 25,000 yards in the pool is a one month record for me. And that was just over two weeks of swimming, basically, since I didn't start until April 13. That's all I can proud about for the month.

It was great to be back outside biking. Yes, untypically cold. Wet. And windy. But it is outside! And that is a good thing for us seasonal affective disorder types.

Hey, with the season underway, I have Shout Outs! to dispense:

Mario Minelli - Fellow blogger Mario took 4th overall at the Cannon Falls Duathlon on April 30 and won the 40-44 AG.

William Jenks - William ran a 1:29 at the Drake Half Marathon on April 30, placing 5th in the 45-49 age group.

Kevin O'Connor - Gear West owner places 6th overall at the National Duathlon in Tucson on April 30th, placing 2nd in the 40-45 age group. What is really cool is watching the race unfold via Zum Tri. Note- David Warden (he of Tri-Talk fame) placed 15th overall.

Chris Hawes - Fellow blogger Chris went all the way to Florida and raced St. Anthony's on May 1. He finished 111 out of 240 in his AG and 749 out of 2004 males. Holy crap, that is a big race! And I am sure he had better weather there than we did here.

Tim Litzinger - Fellow blogger Tim fought heavy winds and cold-cold-cold temps at the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon on May 1 to finish 1313 out of 2381 with a time of 2:01:57. That's being brave! I would have stayed in bed.

Congrats, all! Wish I could have joined the party.