In my continuing battle to keep at a reasonable weight, stay in shape and enjoy life, the outdoor sports of running, cycling and swimming have taken center stage.
After a reasonably successful year of cycling accomplishments in 2012 I decided this would be the year of the Triathlon, and maybe even some running events (half marathon? marathon?). Also, more focus on different types of cycling, such as trail biking, cyclocross and time trials, as opposed to pure road cycling.
Road cycling is still a passion, and I intend to do several road cycling events this year.
I will race in the Lake Louisa road races, some Cyclocross races and do a few century rides. I missed out on Cross Florida, a ride from East coast to West in one day, totaling 168 miles. I was “drafted” to officiate a USA Cycling road race, the “Race of the West,” which happened on the same day. Some mountain road rides are on the schedule too, such as Blue Ridge Breakaway and Six Gap.
But the focus will be on variety, such as cross training in swimming, running, triathlons, and mountain bike events.
Race and Event Updates
December started out great. On the 1st, I ran my first marathon, the Space Coast Marathon, which actually came out to be 26.7 miles. I didn’t have a great time, but I finished, and I can now say I have completed a marathon. I was well under the seven hour time limit!
A lot of fun stuff happened in December, including parties with the Orlando Runners and Riders, Christmas lights rides, and some great time with my family. I finished the year with 6662 total miles in all exercise activities that I measured, which included road cycling, mountain biking, cycle commuting, running, swimming, indoor cycling trainers and even a little kayaking. Great year!
November was great. Since I am back running, I am going to attempt my first Marathon on December 1st, in Cocoa, FL. So far, I have run 10.4 miles without walking, a new PR. Completed the Horrible Hundred ride, staying together with teammates Bill Edgbert and Manny Espinosa. I also got to volunteer as a lead bike for a 5K race, part of the Florida Half Marathon – 10K – 5K event in Lake Louisa State Park.
October succeeded where September failed. A lot of “firsts.” Rode through Hal Scott Preserve before dawn in a thick fog layer, which was exactly the height of my head on the bike. Very cool. Got cleared to start running again, which I did. And at the Space Coast Intra Coastal Waterway Century ride, with teammate Bill Edgbert’s help, set a new personal record for a 100 mile ride, finishing 102 miles in 5 hrs, 52 minutes.
September started great and ended poorly. I flew up to NY to pick up our Ford Transit Connect, which will be of great use to the cycling club. While there I got to do a Bucket List ride that I wanted to do since my teens.
We put on the Second Annual Cowbell Classic Time Trial in Clermont, with an 8.4 mile course that finished at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain Road. It was a great event, and got rave reviews from all the participants. Also raced in the last NTC Short Course event of the season with my friend and coach Brock Brinkerhoff, and had a great time afterwards at Tijuana Flats with him, and Adam Baskin.
The rest of the month was taken up with training for Six Gap. On the last weekend in September, Brock, Christian Rowe and I drove up to Dahlonega, GA with high hopes. Those two had great rides but my ride ended prematurely when I broke a spoke shortly after completing the Hog Pen descent. The hardest part of the ride was over, but I was done as no one could repair it, and there were no spare wheels to be had. So I completed only four gaps this year, which was a huge disappointment.
August was mostly a training month, although I did win my age group in a Olympic Duathlon and a 5K Forest Run down at Moss Park. Also competed in a cross / mountain bike race out in Clermont at the NTC.
July 12th was my birthday. I didn’t celebrate much as I was scheduled to do a Moss Park Sprint Triathlon the next morning. Wise decision. No getting out of the swim this time. I was about to swim .75K in open water, or just under a half mile. I was terrified and couldn’t sleep at all the night before. So how did it turn out? It was every bit as terrifying as I expected. The water visibility was about 18 inches. I could see my wrist, but not my fingers, as I stretched out each stroke. I was fighting panic the first two-thirds of the race. I could not get my breathing under control. I did side stroke, back stroke, dog paddle, you name it, every stroke but the crawl stroke which is most efficient but involves holding my breath with my face in the water. I even held on to one of the buoys for about 15 seconds in an attempt to catch my breath. Finally, on the last leg of the triangular course I was able to do a normal crawl stroke for a few seconds before bursting out of the water to breathe, and to see where I was going. Amazingly, the timer shows I completed the course in 19:19. It seemed more like an hour. The bike went fairly well, as I started to regain control of my breathing, and ended up with a 19.6 mph average. Respectable. The run was a little slow but not terrible. I took a quick porta-potty break at the start but then ran the rest of the way, taking 32 minutes to finish a 2.95 mile course. I’ve done worse!
Podium for Sprint Tri. I finished 2nd in the Clydesdale division, for men over 100 kg. The winner didn’t hang around to get weighed … hmmm
Sundays this month are going to be spent in Clermont, practicing hills, in preparation for the Blue Ridge Breakaway and Six Gap.
On July 24th it was time for another Clermont NTC CX race. Patrick Welch and I headed out there on a very hot summer afternoon. I did not set my expectations very high, as it was really hot. I was also fighting some sports injuries, like a bad knee. All the running I’d been doing was causing the right knee to act up again. Still, I was unpleasantly surprised at how much slower I was, and certainly did not expect to finish last in my division. I lost nearly a minute on each lap. Results aside, it was a lot of fun and I posted three videos on my YouTube channel.
On Father’s Day I was scheduled to do an Olympic Triathlon at Moss Park, which would involve swimming in Lake Mary Jane. I have not done an open water swim since 1989, the last year I did a Triathlon, and the length of the longest swim I ever did was 1/3 of a mile. Was I ready to swim 1.5K (about .95 miles) in a Florida lake? As it turned out I was not to find out, as the water quality was declared below minimums the day before the race, so once again we did an Olympic Duathlon. 3 mile run, 12 mile bike and a 6 mile run. I didn’t do very well. It may have been the recent bout of flu I was fighting, or maybe just the heat, but I ended up walking a large part of the last run. I ended up at just under 3:03, or about 14 minutes slower than 2 months prior. I did get some nice photos of me on the bike though, with the Zipp front wheel and my Father’s Day present, a new Giro Air Attack Helmet.
The bike portion of the Father’s Day Olympic Duathlon. I did the bike in 1:13, which was not my best but not my worst either.
The first two weekends of this month were taken up with road riding. I went on the Florida Freewheelers overnight ride from Clermont to Inverness (and back the next day) called the Wild Wild West ride, for a total of 144 miles. The next weekend I did a century ride on Saturday with the ESCC group and good friend Brock Brinkerhoff, down to the St. Cloud area and back for 101 miles. The next day I did a 55 mile “recovery” ride out to Fort Christmas and back. I guess it was because I wanted to break in my new Zipp wheels …
Advanced Cycles gave me the ESCC discount for these Zipp “404s” which are actually 60 mm deep. They are a handful in a cross wind
The National Training Center in Clermont starter an open series featuring a mountain bike / cyclocross race on six Wednesday evenings throughout the summer and fall. I entered for all six although I will miss the June 12 race out of town on travel.
Technically the first race was on April 24th, but for writing continuity and “poetic license” I will include both races in the May report. The first race involved 2 laps of a difficult, 1.2 mile course over rough, bumpy ground with a lot of elevation changes and a few sand pits just for fun. I completed the two laps in 19:14, which landed me in 5th position out of 15 in my division. I was happy with those results.
The climbing began right away, with this terraced back breaker right after the start of each lap
The second race, on May 22nd, was in much hotter conditions, taller grass on the course, and a recent, fresh rain to make it just a little harder. In addition, the organizers added another lap. My first two laps were faster than the two laps in the first race but I attribute that to knowing the course, and a little smarter riding. I certainly didn’t feel any stronger. I ended up with 29:00 overall for the three lap race, which still landed me in 5th position, but only out of 13 riders this time.
In April I entered the Spring Fling Triathlon series, same course as the Wildman, selecting the Olympic Duathlon as my event (again.) Even though I didn’t feel as good as I did a month earlier, I managed to improve my overall time by 2 minutes, from 2:51 to 2:49. I gained about a minute on the first 2.8 mile run, and almost 4 minutes on the 24 mile bicycle portion, only to lose nearly 2 minutes on the second 5.6 mile run as I ended up doing some walking.
Comparison of Wildman vs Spring Fling results
On March 9th I was scheduled to swim, run and ride in the Wildman Olympic Triathlon in Moss Park. Upon arriving at 6:30 am I discovered that the lake was 58 degrees, and I had no wetsuit. Fortunately, Epic allowed me to switch to a Duathlon, which is run-bike-run. At 7:36 we started our first running loop, a 5K. My goal was to finish the 5K run, the 24 mile bike and the 10K run after in under 3 1/2 hours. I gave myself 30 minutes for the first run, 1 hr 20 minutes for the bike, and 70 minutes for the 10K. That adds up to exactly three hours, so allowing for transitions of 5 minutes each I was hoping to make that goal without too much difficulty. I managed to exceed my expectations and finish at 10:27, for a total time of 2 hours and 51 minutes (!) I even managed to win my age class, 55-59.
On the top step of the podium for my age class. I missed the first call so the other guys had already left. Photo by Epic Sports Marketing
In February I entered the Xtreme Half Marathon at Orlando Wetlands Park, put on by Epic Sports Marketing (who does a great job at events by the way.) It is a trail run, but not anything horrible. It’s mostly a hard packed dirt road with some sandy spots. The scenery is beautiful, as the course takes you around two lakes. I managed to go 7 1/2 miles before I had to stop running. I couldn’t hold it any longer and ran in to a porta potty :) After that things got difficult. About mile 9 my feet started hurting really badly. I was wearing some new sneakers that I thought were broken in. Was I wrong. Turned out they were way too small and tight for me. After mile 11 it hurt to walk on them. Still, being stubborn, I walked/ran the last two miles and even managed to run as I crossed the finish line, ending with a time of 2 hrs 52 minutes. Hardly a blazing speed. There are some advantages to being OLD however, as I finished third in my age class! A podium.
The pain in my feet was excruciating, and then I recalled, that I still had to walk nearly a mile to my car, parked out in a field to the south. It was definitely the worst part of the whole day. The pain lasted for a few days as well. I hurt in places I had never hurt before …
Barely moving at the finish of my first half marathon
In January I entered my first cyclocross race in Clermont. Now I do not have a “cross” bike, so I just brought a mountain bike. They were more than happy to let me compete. They even let me enter a mountain bike division. Cyclocross is more controlled than mountain biking, where the course is clearly defined and set up before hand. Using police tape and fencing, a course is designed around a small area, which is great for spectators. It was possible to see the entire course from several, comfortable vantage points in Clermont, for example. I can see this becoming quite a popular spectator sport. Obstacles are put in by hand, or used naturally. In this course there was a railroad tie that went across two sections of the course, and there was also a very steep, sandy hill that could not be ridden up. Riders had to dismount and either push or carry their bikes up the hill. I chose the push method as my mountain bike was pretty heavy. I didn’t finish anywhere noticeably in the standings but I had a blast. The people were great, the other riders very friendly and helpful and the course was just challenging enough to make it very interesting. Here are some photos from the event, courtesy of Stuart Beal and Leslee Mitchell:
Dismounting to push my bike over the railroad tie. (Stuart Beal)
Climbing up the slippery sand hill, which was not ride-able. (Leslee Mitchell).
Descending the other side of that hill. I had never gone down anything that steep before (Stuart Beal)