Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Englewood Triathlon Fat Tire Division

I like big wheels. As hard as I try I can't seem to convince myself to buy a road/tri bike but it turns out that I don't have to change. As my aspirations lean more in the direction of doing the Englewood Triathlon I started talking to people who have been there, done that. The owner of Real Bikes Englewood, the town's newest bike shop told me that the Englewood Triathlon has a Fat Tire division. Perfect!

I checked the results from last year's race and sure enough there was a Fat Tire class with 8 competitors, 3 men / 5 women. That makes this adventure even more fun. Not only do I get to test my endurance in swimming, biking and running but I can do it on my knobbies.

What makes me excited about this venture is that I love to time trial on my MTB. Last summer I did two of them with the Tempo Cyclery group and managed a 10 mile time of 33:40. It was some of the most fun I've had on a bike.

With this in mind I decided to go to the actual location where the race will be held next year - Englewood Beach. There I met Peyton "Shrek" Read, a BMX friend who cross trains on road bikes. Peyton has some monster legs and can pound out 30+ miles on skinny tires so I knew I'd be in for a serious workout.

Going north on Beach road Shrek lead the way into a headwind. He held the pace between 16-18mph which I could handle while drafting in my second largest gear. We reached Manasota Beach in about 24 minutes. Then we turned around and with the wind at our backs, we turned it on. Peyton shot up to 22mph and I moved into my highest gear pushing every muscle in my legs.

He was easily able to walk away and in fact waited a few times for me to catch up. We both picked up the pace when another rider decided to cruise past us. This is a 13 mile TT and my dream goal was to finish in 45 minutes, I did it in 46:15. Peyton could have done it even faster.

This was a good step for many reasons. First and most obvious is that if you train in the location of the actual race it builds your confidence. Second is that this was part of an amazing weekend of training that allowed me to set 3 personal records.

Bike 13 miles: 46:15
Swim 400 yards: 15:14
Run 5K: 26:54

Add those up and then build on it.
Who knows, I might just be competitive come next July.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Photos from the 2012 Turkey Trot 5K Race

The 2012 Turkey Trot 5K running race took place on Thanksgiving at Edison College in Punta Gorda, Florida. 540+ runners came to enjoy 50 degree fall weather, make space in their tummies for Thanksgiving dinners and to support a great cause. This Turkey Trot benefits Habitat for Humanity and boy did they make out well. In addition to the runners there were also hundreds of people walking the 5K distance.

The course created for the 5K never left the college grounds. They cleverly used each road as an out and back format adding in a lap around the pond. This was great because it allowed you to see the leaders and be motivated by their awesome pace. Timing was done by the Zoomers Run club, who always do a spectacular job. 

The first decision of the day was how to handle the 50 degree chill. Floridians are not comfortable in this kind of weather so each had to decide what to wear. Personally I arrived in my Charlotte BMX jacket, the only one I own but by race time I had to put it away knowing that the run would warm me up. However some people did race in their sweaters and sweat pants.

As always there is young and old, male and female, all types of runner from first timers to local legends. The youngest runner was Bradley Hensen who took 2nd in the Male 9 & Under class with time of 32:09. The oldest or Veteran Master was 81 year old Richard Quevillon who won his class with 23:27. The overall female winner was 40 year old Heather Butcher with 17:56. The overall winner with the absolute fastest time was 15 year old Tyler Fisher who ran an astonishing 16:38.

The race was well received which makes sense, how else could it hang on for 14 years? I'm so glad I made it. With great weather, nice people and inspiring runners how can you go wrong? 

This was only my second 5K but I had been practicing ever since the first one a month ago. My only goal was to beat my former race time of 30:45. I'm happy to say that I did it. I sprinted across the line at a respectable 26:54 and loved every minute of it.

After I finished I pulled out the camera and started snapping shots of runners. I also stuck around to get pics of the awards ceremony. These pictures are posted on Facebook so feel free to tag yourself.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

There are No Magic Shoes

A BMX friend who reads my blogs asked why I had suddenly become interested in running? As many of you now know my long term interest is that of competing in a Triathlon. Even a Sprint Triathlon has a short finishing run as part of the trio of sports. That's what started me on 5K running races. However, they have begun to fascinate me for other reasons.

I never imagined that this would be a part of my life. Having said that, my answer is simple: running is honest, local and cheap. You can't beat that combination of virtues. Allow me to explain.

Let's start with the costs. Most sports are pricey. For the past four years I have been competing in cycling races and they are very expensive. I paid $1,500. for my Fuji Reveal cross country race bike. I paid another $1,000. for all the parts to assemble my Sette Venom downhill bike. This didn't include hundreds of dollars in protective pads, spare parts and repairs. Mountain bikes break down a lot when you ride them hard. All of this adds up to thousands of dollars.

This is all less true for BMX racing. I never paid more than $250. for a bike. A one year membership is $60. The fixes are easier and the race fees range from $8 (local) to $45. (National). It's not bad but one solid season can still be a $900. punch to your wallet.

Running, by comparison, is practically free. I spent $55. on a pair of Adidas trail running shoes and $15. for a one year membership to the Zoomers Running club. The race fees vary but are usually $25. and you only race when you choose, maybe twice a month.

The next issue is travel costs. Racing XC or DH in New England I would have to travel up to 5 hours to reach an event. Racing BMX in Florida some tracks are even further away. The closest BMX tracks to me are 45 minutes in either direction. Not a big deal when gas prices are low but again, just pull out the calculator and put it all together. Even an economical car like my Toyota is starting to get tired.

Running races, by comparison, are right around the corner. My first race 'Howl at the Moon' was a mile and half from my house. I could have run there. I guess there is a lot to be said for enjoying your local organizations.

Better yet, the road is outside your front door. No matter where you live in Florida, you don't have to travel in order to go for a run. You don't need a track or a trail head.

Lastly, running is honest. I know that sounds like a strange virtue to focus on but stick with me. In America the advantages go to the athlete who has the strongest connections, the best equipment and the most opportunities. All of which are afforded with wealth. The athlete who can spring for every race, buy the best bikes and socialize in the right circles, is more often than not, the athlete who wins.

In addition, the cycling sports have loopholes that allow advanced athletes to race at lower skill levels. It's called sandbagging and you will find a lot of it in XC with some in BMX racing. Add to this the politics of track management or sanctioning bodies and even best of athletes get frustrated. These minor offenses can discourage new riders from further participation. When basic unfairness goes unresolved long enough it can drive people away.

By contrast, in running competitions there is no way to sandbag and there are no politics. There are no advantages that can be bought with wealth. Money can't make you run faster. Social connections won't improve your time. There are no magic shoes. 

Sorry about the long explanation but I want people to be aware of all the options they have. No matter what sport you pick there are certain realities best understood by experience. Every sport has its upsides and downfalls but you should know what you are getting into.

Having recently been involved in a range of sports I was happy to find one that is clear of such obstacles. Running has more benefits than most and at a lower sticker price. The equipment is minimal, the atmosphere is relaxed, the costs are reasonable. The field is wide open, the competition is fair and the road is always waiting.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Inspired by a Revolution

At 35 years old I fell in love with the sport of cycling. Since then I have raced Mountain bikes in cross country, downhill, Super-D and time trial competitions. I've even crossed over to BMX racing but it wasn't until very recently that I paid attention to another sport that shares the same spirit as cycling but adds the benefit of developing a more complete athlete.

The sport I'm talking about is Triathlon. Now when I pictured Triathlon, my mind filled with images of runners and swimmers traversing incredible distances in crazy short times. What I forgot was that the cycling portion of these races would now be my strength. Most everyone who tries Triathlon comes into it with at least one strength so I'd be no different.

So what about the other two parts of the race? Most recently I competed in a 5K race and completed it in a reasonable time despite an almost total absence of training. It's a start I can easily build upon. The big challenge for me would be the swimming.

I didn't learn how to swim until I got into high school. There I only learned the basics which would allow me to enjoy the water and stay alive. I never learned proper stroke technique, training methods or even breathing. This would be a huge weakness in what is considered the mother of all race types.

Out of curiosity I looked up the distances and times of my local race - the Englewood Triathlon. This race takes place once a year during the summer and is what's known as a Sprint Triathlon. A Sprint is the shortest type with a 400 meter swim, a 13 mile time trial and a 5K run.

Suddenly my eyes were opened wide. I can do a 5K run in 30 minutes flat, I can do a 13 mile Time Trial in about 45 minutes but the swim? Here is where the doubts creep in. Luckily I live close to the beautiful Oyster Creek public pool where I can practice under the watchful eye of well trained lifeguards. So, now came the question of motivation - how bad do I want this?

When the Revolution 3 Triathlon came to Venice, Florida on Oct 28th I gave it a walk through. Just visiting the Expo and seeing the finish line, the gear, the timing systems and especially the athletes made me feel those stirrings of wanting to be a part of it. I came home and starting marking my calendar with a steady training system appropriate for next year's Englewood Triathlon.

I have an idea of just how hard this is going to be. I'm reading all the articles online and reviewing books by Andy Holgate and Chris McCormack. I'm hitting the pool twice a week, riding my bike in the Time Trial style and planning out my 5K runs. I have 8 months to train but my wheels are already turning. This is my next great goal.