Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Larry Bower's Year in Review 2013


Year in Review (2013)

Larry Bowers

 

I can sum it up by saying it was by far my most successful year and by far my most painful year.  Which, obviously I find quite troubling unfortunately.

I completed one marathon and seven triathlons.  Had one full ironman event cancel on me and then I destroyed my foot (broke a metatarsal) 6 weeks before my final triathlon which was supposed to be the replacement full ironman for the cancelled one.  Oh well.

There was a Boston qualifying time and five podium finishes, but not without a lot of pain and body parts disintegrating apparently.

The season started off with the Shamrock Marathon as a last minute (month) thought.  Peer pressure, what can I say.  As expected, it was a painful adventure by mile 19 but I kept a constant pace and finished in 3 hr 27 min 47 sec, which qualified me for Boston.  Though I had no intentions on going to Boston, it looks like I will now (it’s only 9 weeks out as I write this).  Now whether I actually get to Boston, due to injuries …. well read on.

Next came two sprint triathlons which like a solo marathon, I am no fan of.  But to keep the family unit happy I decided to add a few “local” sprint triathlons to my mix for 2013.  The first sprint event was the Smithfield Sprint (58 min 11 sec with 4th AG).  The second sprint event was the Richmond Tri (1 hr 4 min 31 sec with 3rd AG).  Both were fun and fast paced, as expected.  My wake-up call was moving from two sprint races to the Kinetic Half as the next race.  This is one of my favorite races due to its setting and location near Fredericksburg VA.  I went sub 5 hours and was thrilled (4 hr 59 min 50 sec with 2nd AG and 66th OA).  Two weeks later on a gentle run, seriously, I blew out my left calf.  And then limped/ran home the last two miles to finish off the damage by successfully blowing out the other calf.  Crap, that hurt, a lot.  Swollen calves, and a very bloody ankle (internal bleeding), and a visit by Rob and a visit to a sports doc finally settled the issue – I had a 2 degree calf strain (deep muscle rip).  Felt like I was shot in both calves.  So I went into recovery mode, adjusted my running, bought some compression socks (so either I look real cool or like a dork … or maybe both) and did a lot of calf rolling and rubbing over the next few weeks (ice also).

Then more pressure arrived with the annual club championship being the Jamestown Olympic a few weeks later.  Don’t ask how, but I ran softly and was scared to death that things would get ugly with more muscle damage.  Anyway, I survived and finished at 2 hr 18 min 07 sec with 2nd AG and 26th OA.  Next up was Tri Rock Philadelphia (wife is from the area, hence the major kitchen pass to combine race with a family visit).  A very hilly bike course around a big city venue, way nice.  My time was 2 hr 22 min 35 min, good enough for 4th AG and 137th OA.  Then back to Tidewater for my last and final sprint, the Tidewater Sprint (1 hr 1 min 35 sec with 1st AG and 22 OA).

Alas, one more half and then a full, and then done for the season … so I thought.  About 4 weeks before the Patriot Half, I ran 17 miles with a new pair of Newton’s.  And when I finished, the top of my right foot hurt, a lot.  I thought I had the new shoe tied to tight.  Anyway, for the next few weeks before the Patriot Half, I throttled back my running.  Race time comes and I let er all out as I always do.  The Patriot Half has a 58 mile bike course vs the typical 56 mile bike course, so expect your times to be about 6 minutes longer.  I finished in 4 hr 58 min 13 sec with 1st AG and 22 OA.  I was thrilled, but …. I limped to the podium and limped A LOT back to the car afterwards.  Well, back to Rob and few doctors later, it looks like I have tenditis or possibly a stress fracture, no one knows and the X-rays can’t tell squat.  So, I am careful, seriously, and back off on my running.  Six weeks before the final race, a full ironman, I complete a 120 mile bike ride with Rob and Shawn (no drafting).  The next day, I go out for an easy run and get about 700 yards when I seriously hear and feel a snap.  I almost face plant into the pavement and I know I am in deep do-do.  I barely can walk to the curb and then quickly assess that I can’t even crawl back home.  After I see person number 3 go by, I call for help … and that was the end of my season.  Back to the doc and this time the X-ray sees a fracture … yeah, no duh was my thought.  So since  that early September day, I have been in rehab with a boot and crutches and a lot of limping.  And lots of swimming, lots of that.  And weight training.  On Thanksgiving, I climbed up on the treadmill and thought I would die after 400 yards (still not ready apparently).  Well, bit by bit, I am back running (90% capacity?) and the bone is healed though I did put those new Newton’s on again about 4 weeks ago and within 7 miles I reinjured the same foot but slightly higher above my metatarsal.  Crap was my initial thought. Not this again!  Though had a great season in Newton’s, apparently the new Newton’s I bought late in the season were just to firm with my forefoot push off.  So, no more Newton’s for me … for a while.

I was able to finish in the Virginia Tri Serious number one in my AG which was neat.  But, I must admit, the scores on my three sprint races held me back from being in the masters final ranking.  At my age, I just can’t turn over certain body parts fast enough for a sprint … so I will stay with the Olympic and long course races.

As for all the injuries, I have no clue.  My volume was down but the intensity was up from 2012.  I am always careful and ensure I get full recovery.   But who knows, maybe my warm up and cool down events are lacking.  Maybe my mental push is stronger than my physical push.  Just don’t know.  But I do know I do not want to repeat those types/levels of injuries for 2014.

In closing, cheers to everyone for a stellar 2014 season!  

 

Friday, February 7, 2014

2nd Annual Superbowl Century. (Metric Edition)


It was a cold and foggy morning when our journey began.  Only three team members displayed the commitment and intestinal fortitude to brave such conditions.  I wasn’t sure anyone would show.  Larry and Mike had bowed out by e-mail.  Not sure what happened to Albee?   I was glad to see Jimmy there when I pulled up.  Within a couple of minutes Joe rolled up to join us.  After we chatted for a couple of minutes while getting things unloaded I realized I left my shoes at home!  A quick trip home for those and then we were finally on the road by 7:45.  Visibility was about a quarter mile-not good.  The roads were damp but mostly clear for the first few miles.  As we turned off Centerville we encountered a road still mostly covered with snow and ice.  We were able to cautiously find narrow patches of pavement and successfully navigated our way through it.  That would be the last encounter with the snow as the road cleared when we turned right onto Whittemore Rd.  We had pretty strong headwinds on the way out to Knott’s Island so I was thinking on the way back we would be rewarded with a nice tailwind.  Joe and Jimmy had some strong pulls on the way out.  I didn’t have a computer in front of me but I felt extremely slow and beaten down by the headwinds on my pulls.  Somehow it seems the wind was always worse when it was my turn to pull.  We finally made it to the turnaround at Knott’s Island Ferry landing and stopped for a quick snack and photo op for a selfie of the group.  None of us had ridden over 40 miles in months so the ride back was definitely a challenge as the wind seemed to shift and we were pummeled with strong headwinds for most of the return trip- so much for the payback!  At mile 51 Joe popped.  Jimmy pulled Joe back to my rear wheel and we slowed our already slow pace.  The last 11 miles were just a slow grind and we were glad to see our starting point.  At the end we were .2 miles short so Jimmy and I took a U-turn to get in the official mileage.  We worked too hard to come up short of the official mileage.  Joe got a pass on the U-turn since he rode to the start point and still had another mile or so to get home.  We were pretty beat at the end but it was great to get in another epic ride with a couple of the faithful STC members.  I’m glad we were a little more sensible and chose to do a metric century this year.  Thanks to Jimmy and Joe for participating in the craziness.  Also, a big thanks to Jimmy and his wife Jessica for hosting another Superbowl party later that evening!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rob's B2B HIM Race Report 2013

Beach 2 Battleship Half Ironman
10/26/2013
Wilmington, NC

Rob Riek - 5:14, 11th Men 45-50


I’m finally getting to a race report.  It has been a busy year and with everything going on my race season certainly lacked direction.  I had done a couple of long brick sessions with Larry and Shawn in late July and made the decision to commit to B2B while on vacation on early August.  I knew I would have many challenges with work, family and becoming a Grandpa in the lead up to this race.  Training went well except for the last month leading up to the race with a trip to NY to visit my new Granddaughter, Marianna, and bad weather every weekend after that.  Larry, Shawn and I did have a couple of our “epic” training sessions in the build up for the race and unfortunately Larry put in a few too many miles and was not able to join us at B2B.  In the spirit of Shawn’s top 10 list, I’ll try to create some type of list around the race;

Travel.  Definitely challenging with a 3 and 1 year old but we were able to make it to Wilmington in time for the 2 PM pre-race meeting and check-in.

Logistics.  It took from about 1 until 5 to get everything sorted out with check-in, pre-race meeting, special needs bag checks and getting the bike set in the transition area.  Made for a long day.

Sleep.  Kids were wound up so getting a good night’s sleep was not happening.

Mishaps.  (It’s costing me a kitchen pass to share this with you).  Amy double checked the back-up camera to make sure she wasn’t running over any gear and backed the van into a parked car on race morning when leaving to drop me off.  We also forgot our pillows after checking out from the hotel and had to have them shipped to the house. 

Temperature.  39 degrees when I arrived.  We were bussed to the swim start and had to sit around in the cold for over an hour.  Very happy to get in the 71 degree water.

Transitions.  Definitely decreased my chances of going sub-5.  I gave away 8 minutes in T1 but felt it was better to take the time to change into dry and warm gear for the bike.  Even with toe warmers over my bike shoes, I did not feel my toes until mile 4 of the run. 

Swim.  Felt like I was swimming pretty effortlessly and thought we had a current. A look at my time and the rest of the field revealed we did not have much of a current.  34 minutes still not bad.  I actually felt hungry during the swim which is something I have never experienced.  Must have been the extra energy spent shivering prior to the start.

Bike.  Seemed to have more headwind than tailwind but I kept a steady pace and was able to average 21.5 on the new Shiv and the legs felt decent coming off the bike.

Run.  Well, I cut 14 minutes off my Patriot half run but I was still a good 6 minutes over my goal of getting under 1:45.  Somewhere around mile 8 I just kept getting slower.  Felt like I was running 7:45 pace but my Garmin was telling my otherwise! Frustrating.  I think a good part of it was mental once I realized there was no way I was hitting the goal of sub-5 with the long transitions and battling the wind.

Family.  The best part of the race and what I looked forward to the most over the last couple of miles was seeing Amy and the kids at the finish. It was great to be done and celebrate with the family.

Lessons learned.  Never sacrifice toddler nap times – it will haunt you the entire weekend.  It was more challenging than we anticipated with 2 young kiddos.  I was planning to return to doing an IM next year but now it’s looking like we are going focus on a couple of half IM’s next year instead. 

Oh yeah, my final finish time was 5:14, 11th AG

Friday, November 1, 2013

Shawn's Beach 2 Battleship IM Race Report 2013 - Top Ten Edition

Beach 2 Battleship IM
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Wilmington, NC
29th Men 35-39 12:02.0


Instead of a long race report that drones on about the minutia of a really long day, I have decided to condense it into a top ten list. (i.e. David Letterman Style. )




North Wind
10. Headwinds. This was the story of the day. There was at least 70 miles of headwinds on the course this year. When we would turn into a tailwind, the road would turn, and the wind would become a cross. This made for a mental struggle. When you are putting out power that would normally net you 22 mph, and you look down and see 19.5 mph it gets down right discouraging.

9. Cold Start. The temp when we were waiting at the swim start was around 38F. There were a bunch of people huddled around a couple of heaters. I pulled up some curb, and chatted with a few fellow athletes. The first 45 minutes, I was ok, but then I started shivering. By then, it was time to start. Once we dove into the warm water, everything was alright.

8. Good Swim - No Current. Last year we had a great incoming tide to push us in. This year the current didn't materialize, and a light headwind made some chop. My form was much better this year, and overall I was happy with my swim. Even if it was 13 minutes slower.


T1 6am
7. Shrinkage (aka T1). The friendly volunteer stripped my wetsuit in one quick motion. I thought, its not too cold right now. That only lasted for about 30 secs as I was running to the T1 bags. That changing tent was like an oasis of warmth in the distance. That is until you get in the tent, and it is a sea of humid, stinky, and naked men. I changed quickly, and was off.

6. What to wear? I'll just bring everything. I went back and forth on what to wear on the bike, the whole week before. The temps at the start would be in the 40's, warming up to the 60's slowly. I ended up wear tights, jersey, vest, and arm warmers. My selections worked out, I was comfortable the whole time, took my arm warmers off for the last 30 miles.

5. Downtown Wilmington. The run course through downtown Wilmington is awesome. Along Front St, there are restaurants and bars lining the course. All afternoon through and the night people line the course, and they are the most supportive crowd I have seen. The race puts your name on the number, and I must have heard people shout my name in encouragement 100 times. Also, the downtown race makes it easy for your family to hang out during the day, while you drag your slow self around for 140.6 miles.

4.  Run Course Miles 11- 13 (My Pain Cave). As I started the run, I was feeling great. I was happy to be off the bike, and keeping my effort level steady. All of a sudden my stomach went south at mile 11. If I tired to increase my effort my heart rate would rise, and my stomach started doing backflips. This meant I had to walk the one mile false flat going back to the finish line. My strategy changed to a walk/run for a couple of miles, until special needs. I downed couple cups of broth, put on a fresh long sleeve shirt, and was a new man. I ran the second lap much stronger than the first.

3. Fantastic volunteers. The volunteers on the course were fantastic. On the bike course, I stopped twice. A volunteer grabbed my bike, another one filled my bottles, and a third one grabbed my food order. First class service.

2. Goals - Smoals. My goal for this race was to break 11 hrs. I may have been too ambitious. My fitness was good, but everything would have had to line up perfectly to meet that goal. The 70 miles of headwind on the bike crushed those dreams. At mile 40 on the bike, I knew my goal was gone. Mentally, I think I shut it down a bit. I was still pushing, but not with the same urgency and intensity.


The Kiddos and I at the finish

1. Finishing. Finishing is always the overall goal going into an IM. The journey through training and the race is filled with challenges. Meeting those challenges and continuing to move forward is my biggest take away from an IM. I'm proud to be a two time IM finisher, and look forward to doing more.

Final Thoughts.

My overall experience with B2B this year was fantastic. The weather made things challenging. Setup puts on a great event. The local community really embraces the event, and make us triathletes feel welcomed. My family really enjoys being downtown, and walking around to the shops, and cafes. They were already talking about what they wanted to do next year, so I guess I have the green light to race again. I still have that sub-11 hour goal, so we will see. I hear the tide push will be better in 2014.



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shawn's Beach2Battleship IM Training Report - 3 Weeks to Go.


Me and Sophie. This is how I spend 5k,
with a 4 year old on my shoulders.
Its taper time!! I actually started tapering a bit early. My Achilles issue is getting much better, and I didn't want to push the running this week. I held back on the running early in the week, and it made a big difference. It wasn't easy to hold back on the running, and I think I may have an addiction to running. By Friday evening, all I wanted to do was go for a long run. I even considered getting up at 3am and going for a 15 mile run. The last couple of weeks, I have been listening to some Ultra  Running podcasts, and all of the running talk got me giddy. I've decided I want to run an ultra next year, most likely a 50 miler.

Overall, my fitness is excellent right now. The next couple weeks, my is goal is to sharpen things up, and not get hurt.

Week recap:
Monday - X-training with 4 miles of running worked in.

 Tuesday -  Bike Intervals - 5 X 2min/ 5 X 1min. At the end of this workout, I did a heart rate measured LT test. My is LT is somewhere around 168bpm. For the IM bike, I will try and stay 20 bpm lower than that, in zone 2.

Wednesday - Swim - Drill work, and easy swim. (2500 yds)

Thursday -  AM- Bike Intervals - 3 X 5min - 2 X 10mins

Friday - Rest day

Saturday - Slowest 5k in recorded history 1:35. Walked the Susan G Komen 5k with the family. My original plan was to run the 15 miles home, but didn't want to push the mileage.

Sunday - Super YMCA Tri - Planned to get up for a ride, but the weather was stilling sucking. Journeyed to the Y for a 3000 swim, 1.5 hours on the spin bike, then ran 5 miles home. I actually enjoyed the workout. We should put together an indoor tri this winter for the team.



Friday, October 11, 2013

Todd's OBX Sprint Report


OBX Sprint Todd Holwick  1st AG  8th overall  1:11:56

 With a few minor nagging injuries all summer, I decided to cut back on the training intensity and just focus on the sprint distances for the end of the season. After missing out on the weather perfect day for the Sandman Tri due to a conflict in my schedule, I decided to do the OBX Sprint. This year, instead of driving down on race day to Manteo, my wife decided to come along and we drove down Saturday afternoon.  We get to packet pick up late afternoon. The weather is great, but a little windy making the water a little choppy.  Storms are forecasted to roll in later that night. Several weeks of no rain and of course, since I am doing the race, it is going to rain.  I wouldn't know what to do with a warm, sunny  race day.

 

Well, we get checked into the hotel, get my stuff together and go to bed wondering what type of weather  the Triathlon Gods are going to deliver to me in the morning. Alarm goes off, I look out the window and there is a heavy rain. I sat in bed for several minutes debating  if I really wanted to do the race or just go back to bed.  If I don't do this race, I am done for the season, so off I go in the pouring rain.

I get to the race and to my surprise, a lot of people are there.  The heavy rain has slowed to a light rain and the wind is somewhat calm.  The race is a go, swim included. Never found out what the water temperature was, but I heard it was in the low to mid 70's. At this point I am just irritated with the weather  and I decide to skip the wetsuit. I am just ready to just get this thing over with.  I run into Jeff and Laurie and we head down to the water in our new STC  Tri kits.

 

The Swim 12:15  2nd AG and  36th OA

While gathering for the swim start, I run into Steve Matulewicz  from the swim across the Currituck. As Larry describes him, "The big lean and mean looking guy. " He is there doing the sprint with his daughter.  The first two waves go off and just like last year, you can still walk, if you want, out to the first buoy.  My wave goes off, a few dolphin dives and I am quickly swimming towards the first buoy. The water is perfect.  Not too cold and calm. I settle into a decent pace and for the most part, just cruise to the end. Twice, I ran into packs of swimmers from the first two waves and things  got a little hectic trying to get  around them.  Oh, and by the way, it is still raining.

T 1

Not quite the mini run, like the Jamestown race, to get to the transition area, but still a good ways from the water. T 1 is uneventful, and I am off on the bike.

 

The Bike 33:22  13.5 miles  24.3mph 2nd AG and 7th OA

Shortly after leaving the mounting area, I find myself in a mass of people all over the place. As I am trying to get around several of them, I am forced off the road. I hit a big bump and my torpedo water bottle shoots out, literally like a torpedo, several yards off the road. It is my only source of fluid, but I decided not to go back to get it. It is only a sprint, so I figure I can do without it for the short distance. I never drink on the run, so if I get desperate, I'll grab some then. I quickly pick up my pace on the bike but am a little cautious due to the wet, bumpy road and slick expansion joints on the bridge.  I am trying to keep my pace at 25mph, but have to keep slowing down to either pass a few slow moving vehicles or the groups of riders that just can't seem to stay to the right. Oh, and by the way, did I mention, it is still raining?

 T 2

I make it to T 2 safely, just barely. The dismount area is not marked very well and I have two volunteers pointing at two different lines. Which one???  As I brake,  suddenly,  my rear wheel is lifting off the ground and I feel my body heading over the handle bars. I managed to keep control and safely enter the transition area.  Could have been a possible YouTube video.


The Run 23:05 Not the fastest of my runs, but 3rd AG and  25th OA

In anticipation of the rain, I brought an old pair of running shoes. They managed to stay dry in a plastic bag prior to the run. T 2 is uneventful, and I am off and running. I am just barely out of the transition area and my nice dry shoes are already soaked. Shortly after leaving the transition area, the run enters about a 3/4 mile path that goes through a field behind the airport. Last year, it was just a path that was mowed low to the ground. This year,  they decided to semi pave this path with a mixture  of dirt and gravel. Well, with all of the rain, it all turned to mud.  So, you had to play the " dodge the mud hole" game for 3/4 miles on the way out and then again for the return.  On the return, someone even lost their shoes in the mud.  I guess they finished the race barefoot.  By the way, did I mention that it is still raining?

Finish

Finished strong. To my surprise, 1st AG and 8th overall.  1:11:56  Shaved off about 4 mins from last year. Packed up the car, waited for the awards, and headed back to the hotel for a hot shower before heading back to Chesapeake. As I am leaving the race site, out of the corner of my eye, I see a water bottle a few yards  from the road. Could it be mine? I stop to grab it, and sure enough it is mine. Great! It was one of those insulated Camelbaks. I'm glad that I don't have  to replace it. Still raining.....

 

The Return

Worst part of the race, the drive home. It was the first weekend that the main bridge heading in and out of the Outer Banks was closed to only one lane in each direction using only the Southbound bridge. The entire Northbound bridge is closed until May 2014. After taking 1hour and 20 minutes to only go 3/4 mile, we decided to turn around and go all the way back past Manteo and through Edenton to get home.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention that it is still raining out?  NOT!  It was now sunny for the drive home. Go figure.

 

Todd

Monday, October 7, 2013

Shawn's Beach 2 Battleship IM Training Report - 4 weeks to go.

Sunrise shot from my Sunday morning ride.
The alarm on my phone goes off at 5:15. I need to make those four steps to turn it off, before it wakes up everyone else. In my head I think, "Is this going to hurt?". This is the story of my week with my sore Achilles. Those first few steps in the morning are the barometer of how much running I can do that day. The IM is in 3 weeks, and I am going to decrease my run volume to let this Achilles heal up.

Other than the Achilles issue, I feel really good. The heavy volume training is done, and I can feel the benefits. I set two PR's in the last month in shorter events. This is the best fitness I have had, and I can't wait for the race.


Monday - 2 mile run/ Strength Work.

Tuesday - AM -Track work (Fail) - 4 miles. During the warm up my Achilles was screaming. It finally loosened up, but I didn't want to push it. Instead I worked on some walking lunges, and stairs.
                  PM -  Bike intervals.

Wednesday - Rest day. Had to travel for work.

Thursday -  AM - Bike Intervals - Different sets @ 2:1 Work to Rest ratio @ 85%. My legs felt fantastic.
                     Noon - 7 Mile Run in the heat. I thought it was Fall, why is it still 85F. My Achilles was much better.

Friday - Noon - 1.6 mile ocean swim against a slight current.

Saturday - Started the day with two flats in my garage. 70 mile bike ride. Started to bonk a bit at mile 65. 60 miles seems to be where I am having issues with my nutrition. During the race I need to get in more calories early.

Sunday - Brick 30/5. My legs felt tired on the ride, but came around nicely on the run.