Saturday, October 25, 2008

Do you RuBiRu?

Saturday marked my last multisport event of 2008. And for a second time in two weeks, I was racing in a benefit event upon the request of my friends, this time Lisa and Jin Woo. I use the term multisport because this was not a triathlon, nor a simple distance run. Held at the University of North Carolina Charlotte (which is in north Charlotte), RuBiRu is a duathlon (run-bike-run) to benefit the Brain Tumor Fund For The Carolinas. This organization was started by Lisa's father after her brother was diagnosed and survived brain cancer. Her brother is now a doctor himself and I had the opportunity to hang out with him at the NCAA March Madness Regionals last year in Winston-Salem.

This was actually the first duathlon I ever registered for - the only duathlon I had participated in prior was back in March of 2007. My friend Lat let me race in his place. It was at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police and Fire Training Center that I often pass on my bike rides when using Shopton road. The 5K portions were a mix of trails and roads on the grounds, while the bike portion was 16 miles on the road. I clocked in 22:45 and 24:06 for the running portions while holding a tough 20.9 MPH average on the road. I knew I was not quite in the shape for these numbers, but my relatively decent performance the previous Saturday at the triathlon indicated I could put up something I would be proud of.

Preparations began on Friday with Julie providing the pasta dinner. I brought some red cabbage to saute in olive oil (try it - it's fantastic!). When then watched The Good Girl which was rather - good! For some reason we were on a Jennifer Aniston kick with Derailed a few weeks ago. I was mostly amused by the "reincarnation" of Holden Caufield and the actor who played Delmar in O Brother Where Art Thou?

The impending rain (which was supposed to come in earnest on Friday but really did not) was the only hanging issue. I guess I just am spoiled with a relatively excellent track record of good weather when it actually came to race time. The journey from home to UNCC was not all that bad, eating some oatmeal along the way.

I really have not spent much time at UNCC. Recently I've come up for a time or two for professional collaboration of a remote sensing project that has analyzed the growth rates for the Charlotte area. Currently this study is getting a lot of attraction with the local media; I invite you have a look! My only other big memory was about four years ago when the Charlotte Ultimate community (really Scott Campbell, whose race I ran last week) secured UNCC as a location for UPA's Mixed Regionals. It featured our big team at the time, Kitchen Biscuit, and over two days I took lots of pictures. 99% of them stunk.

OCTOBER 2004: Christi and David Lee. Oh David, why did you take your bacon to Chicago?

OCTOBER 2004: Matt Smith marking hard

OCTOBER 2004: His redness Dan O invades CLT with his B-Plus team
OCTOBER 2004: Olstein doing what he does best

This wasn't the usual crowd, but that was fine. This event has a small homely field that I really, even more polar from Ironman Wisconsin than Take Flight last weekend. It was all on a grass field that was mostly saturated with water. I walked down to pick up my registration material then eventually made it down with my bike and gear. I was taking off my sweats when Julie arrived with Lisa and Jin Woo.

Prior to starting there were two individuals I spotted who (for the life of me) I could not remember their names. Both were women, and one was talking to me by name. She looked familiar, but really not. I really felt horrible that I didn't know her name! Even worse she was on a relay team so my chances of looking up a race number were pretty much nil. The other I knew from recent events, we played Ultimate Summer League together on the famed Seven Minutes Abs team. Before the start I also spotted one of my cycling friends, Axel, who had participated in Take Flight last weekend.

As I stood there with Jin Woo I realized it had been years since we ran together. So this was fun! The rain had mostly stopped by the time the air horn sounded.

It's time to RuBiRu!

The first 5K was just horrid! Despite Jin Woo's warning it was hilly, it was rather hard! The course was on pavement and basically circled around the main campus. I quickly became too warm with my hat and the technical Take Flight shirt (which had a normal arm-length for a short-sleeved shirt). Jin Woo slowly pulled away and there were only a few here and there that passed, including Lana, who shows up at every possible athletic event known to man with her husband Tom. This portion was my least-favorite of the three, especially the climb back up to the transition area, which featured a very wide arc around. I heard the race announcer call out Jin Woo's name as I was making that arc. I wasn't watching the distance my watch was pulling at the time, but I was frustrated that it would be in the 25 minute range! Maybe I should have noted the distance was 3.31 miles, way longer (over a thousand feet!) than a regulation course.

25:07?!? Feeling a little dejected at this point - maybe I should have noted the distance!

Given the simpler nature of the duathlon, the transition was rather quick (45 seconds). To get out of campus, the path followed a portion of the first run course, then came out on Mallard Creek. It really wasn't raining at this point, but with the wet roads one had to be careful and just assume you would get wet. And while I always pay attention to a lot of detail on the course, Jin Woo was disappointed I didn't notice the price of gas at the Petro Express.

Since this wasn't a USAT-sanctioned event, there weren't any referees so you could pretty much draft and block all you wanted. How fun. The off-campus loop featured a landmark I had yet to see in Charlotte - the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. I really got into the loops, and even though I didn't have the firepower of last week, I pushed some big numbers. The second loop went by much quicker, and it was there while passing the concert venue I caught up with Jin Woo. After that he was pulling some major drafting on me, but I really wasn't too worried there. Coming down Mallard Creek I was absolutely flying, passing by the mystery woman among others. Jin Woo was holding on at that point and as we came through campus we nearly plowed through a group of college-aged volunteers who were crossing the street and NOT paying attention. It was there I just couldn't hold him off, so he passed me but when we came in to dismount I was right there behind him. I was very happy to meet my goal of finishing under 40 minutes (39:56).

Jin Woo and I finishing the bike right after nearly plowing through a bunch of volunteers

Just about to rack my bike and be out of the transition area in a split! (split = 39 seconds)

My second transition was even faster and I left him in the dust to lace up his shoes. I knew he'd be back, as he was a better runner. I was surprised about the energy I had given how I was feeling in the last minutes of the bike. Before jumping into the woods it was there I passed the fields that brought back most of the memories from the 2004 Regionals. I had never been back in here, apparently the cross country team uses it to train. At first it was mostly uphill, and the trail was mostly muddy. Back in there brought back some quick memories of Uwharrie. The registration for the event is in about a week!! Up at the top I was holding a good pace. At the bottom we ascended again and that was a real killer. Around this time Jin Woo came up and held behind me for quite some time. The real tough pitch was an open area that briefly went up to Hwy 29 before descending again. I then spotted a very massive rock, perhaps the biggest I've seen in this area. Around then Jin Woo passed me and then goaded me up the final hill. I just couldn't hold as we prepped for the long arc.

I was really sucking wind after climbing the last hill

I then saw my Ultimate colleague standing with a friend by the side and remembered her name was Lisa. I called her out by name and that surprised her, but I seemed to recall she got my name right. Once in the chute Jin Woo turned on a sprint I couldn't seem to match, but I got close enough to where he slowed down so we could cross the line together. What a gentleman. I finished the "5k" course is 24:46, whatever that means. I had hoped to do the entire course in 90 minutes or less, and just like last weekend I came up short, clocking in at 91 minutes and 16 seconds.

Despite being a Tarheel Jin Woo is an all-around nice friend

I had a nice post-race hanging out with Julie and Lisa-Woo (okay Jin Woo, you're right, those names don't meld well).

Anyone have a good hybrid name for these two?

I introduced Lisa to the other Lisa, then told her about my adventures since Summer League. I talked a lot about my left foot issue, because after all she is a doctor. Apparently she did the bike portion on a relay team. It was great to see her again. She was one of the two women that really gave us critical lift.

They did have some initial results and I was once again pleasantly surprised with my placement among my peers, 23rd out of 94 finishers! (this includes the 11 relay teams). I almost felt bad about how Jin Woo was listed as 24th, only because he slowed to get the same time and then the software must sort by last name. The winning time was 76 minutes, and I barely edged out the winning female. I stuck around a little longer to watch all seven of my raffle tickets go down in flames. The gas cards would have been nice. No worries, it was for a good cause and I've been around these races and seen budgets to know that not a lot of the money goes towards the cause (most of it is spent for off-duty police securing the course). I then thought I might have a chance at age group, but that was a silly thought as the M30-39 was loaded with participants and I finished 8th!

Getting some quality time with the world-famous photographer!

The drive home was most pleasant, no doubt Winston was thrilled to see me home again. I was disturbed to see my Forerunner watch would not turn on. I don't remember bashing it with a hammer?

After a nice nap, some grocery shopping and laundry, the four of celebrated at Dish - a fantastic Charlotte institution. Afterward Julie and I went to Keith's Halloween party in the Eastover neighborhood. I was most interested in meeting his wife Mary Lee. I also would like to go on record in saying Keith's costume (and acting) as The Joker from The Dark Knight was perhaps the most disturbing thing I have seen in a LONG time. Even more disturbing than spending 24 hours in a van with Keith. My nose might argue with me on that, but the ensemble was rather creepy.

RuBiRu Results

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Should I Flush Or Not?

My last triathlon of 2008 was on Saturday. Not originally part of my plan for the year, I was asked by Scott Campbell, a friend from my early Ultimate years in Charlotte, to participate in the Take Flight Sprint Triathlon. This event was conceived to raise money for an organization he and his wife created, Garrett's Wings, in memory of their son. I was honored to participate in this great event!

These types of triathlons involve the complete opposite strategy needed to complete an Ironman, a task I accomplished 41 days ago. A sprint triathlon, especially the ultra-shortened Sprint version presented on Saturday, is an all-out leave-nothing behind in around a hour of pushing out extreme performance. Additionally I have not been recovering well from Wisconsin, especially from a strange left foot injury I received playing Ultimate back in June. Still though, I was far from being hurt enough not to compete.

After being the absolute last person to leave work on Friday (for five straight weeks now) I rode home in the rain and went straight to pasta preparation mode, whipping up some of my quasi-famous spaghetti that had everything except meatballs. It was a cold rainy night and I was happy to finish watching Becket, an old movie from the 1960s that was surprisingly good. While it had the usual "made for movie" additions and skewness, Thomas Becket remains one of the most amazing people to have walked this earth, due to his firmness in what he believed.

Who will rid me of this turbulent swelling in my feet?!?

I then started to assemble the gear and thread my Asics GEL-Foundation 8s with elastic laces, a feature I have not used in several years (with my focus on longer triathlons). Before going to bed I read the penultimate story in T.C. Boyle's excellent compendium of short stories, After the Plague. I did not sleep all that well, having a mildly disturbing "dream" about the negative ramifications of staying a cheap hotel in the middle of the woods and having to share a big room with about 10 people.

The alarm clock was not necessary this morning as I rose around 6AM. I left at 6:30 and had to stop at work to load all the maps I had been slaving on the previous day. The road was quite clear to the NOMAD Aquatic Center in Huntersville. The field we parked in had some mud, so I carried my precious Holman to the pavement.

After picking up my packet, I promptly left my numbers on the table upstairs and descended for bodymarking. About ten minutes later I couldn't find what I needed but thankfully it was still waiting for me. This would be my second triathlon without the use of socks. It was bloody cold out, but thankfully mostly clear and looking to be a good day! Before the start of the race I ambled around - the only person I really knew was Lamperski so I chatted a bit.

I have a very important etiquette question to pose to my gentle readers, but before you proceed with the next paragraph I would suggest that the gentlest of readers, such as Hogeboom, who get offended with "TMI" to jump ahead.

The aquatic center has a PA system. And naturally when it came time for the Star Spangled Banner to be sung they put it over the PA system. Here was my dilemma. I was on the can when the nice lady started to sing. Now, I am pretty familiar (and digusted by) the practice of those that talk on their cell phone while vacating their bowels. What should I have done? Stand and not disrepect my country? Or simply wait to flush? (there was a long line in the locker room). I noticed at least one other stall-dweller flushed during the song. I waited, then hopped out. Fortunately no photos exist to document my fervant patriotism.

The one thing I dislike about these pool swims is the long wait to start. Unlike Wisconsin where 2000 people start at once, every ten seconds a participant is released to snake their way to the other end of the pool. And I'm not a particularly strong pool swimmer (and I don't know how to flip-turn), so I usually have to wait. The first swimmer who started at 8:00 finished the 250 yards 2 minutes and 47 seconds later - very impressive! From there I had to wait until 8:42:20! I wandered around some more, then went upstairs and saw another friend from Ultimate. I was surprised to learn this was his first triathlon, and wished him well. By that time Julie had arrived, and as she predicted, her two companions had not made the trip.

Originally the plan was to compete using my normal swim trunks, but they are quite tight especially around the thighs and show a little more back than I'm comfortable with, so I did switch to my usual bike shorts, which I used just for the bike portion Ironman Wisconsin. I swam a few laps in the warmup pool then ambled over to the line. All the sudden 8:42:20 came up quite fast!

Minutes before GO time

The distance is this competition was 250 yards. I have only one comparison, which was the Valdese Sprint Triathlon back in March of 2004. There I covered the distance (don't forget a portion of running to the timing mat is added, so it wouldn't necessarily be my actual swim time) in 5:05. No doubt this would be the part that would hurt the most, since the amount of effort needed for a marginally better time is great compared to the other disciplines.

"Blessed be the Maker and his Water, Blessed be the coming and the going of Him, May His passage cleanse the world." -- Liet Kynes

I quickly found out my bike shorts (which have been used to the point of sagging along the thighs and waist) were near "wardrobe malfunction" when jettisoning off each wall into the next lane. Good thing my shorts didn't come off! I ended up passing one woman and then found a strong man in front of me. We came out of the pool at the same time. I had 4:32 on my watch, an excellent 12% improvement. I officially ran over the mat at 4:47 while around the back of the facility. That put me at 155th overall from the 466 finishers. This was the only discipline where a sizable number of women (48) bested my time.

Swimsuit? Check. Improved 250 yard time? Check. Ready to bike? I hope so.

Both of transitions were particularly good, for T1 because I went without socks, my loose grey running top went on easy, and I didn't both to towel off (save stepping on the towel to help dry the feet). I went through with a 1:01 transition, which is quite impressive.

Julie claimed I was running too quick to be seen - thank goodness for photographic technology!

As I left some of the stronger bikers were already coming in. The ride featured some strong cold winds, something my body was not used to! I lost my bike number right away, and at the turn on to Ellenwood I was personally greeted by a volunteer who must have been Kevin (it's really hard for me to distinguish people when I'm on the job). If so, thanks Kevin for asking me to mind the turn!

This was one of the few courses where I had not done my homework and driven the 10.2 mile course. I had asked Lamperski and he had relayed some other comments, which actually turned out to be the reverse. It was NOT flat and the worst hills (IMHO) were in the first half, especially the monster shortly after the first mile that made me want to cry. I was still huffing badly trying to force my body into bike mode, but mostly it was not happening. To break my hour goal, I needed a consistent 20+ mph effort and this was NOT helping. Relatively speaking though, I was passing riders right and left. And let's also be clear this is not Ironman-grade talent. This race is in the TrySports Triathlon Development Series, many of these people are racing for the first time. It seemed very lonely out there compared to Wisconsin in terms of people on the course. There were some people cheering here and there, which was nice.

The highlight of my ride was known before I even started hammering the pedals. Right before Mile 4 the course comes south on Beard Road approaching the Conservancy's Ridge Road Nature Preserve (on the right). This is a rare upland depressional wetland where we have done salamander counts for many years. It was also the site of a memorable workday for some Queens University students back in September of 2005. My job was simply to assist the unmentionable UNCC grad student who was running the project, but she was totally late. In addition, some neighbor must have called the cops on me as I waited. So when the students came, the police showed up and I had to talk my way out of trepassing/being a crazy person. Apparently the neighbor saw me and thought I was a delusional crazy person. I do recall sitting there with my head down because I was tired! (I had ran the previous Wednesday and Thursday, swam Friday, and then gone for a walk with Bob and Jan Marx that evening). The timing made it embarrassing.

Back to 2008. I then knew the turn onto Ridge Road would be extremely sharp. It was then my lone nemesis, a guy I had started to play the leap-frog game (this happens when you get aligned with an evenly matched person but you have to obey the drafting rules) passed me for the final time and started to edge out an advantage I could not match. At the halfway mark I had lost seconds I would need. Then it was more suburban hell on Highland Creek Parkway. That was the lone person that passed me. It was just a struggle at that point, especially the frustration on Eastfield with the strong gusts. I could see the end far away, but also saw my hopes for a 30 minute split fade alongside the rural landscapes that once defined this part of Mecklenburg county. Nonetheless I came in at 30:59 (19.4 mph average), a time at the moment pissed me off but what I didn't realize then was the strength I showed in comparison. I came in 37th out of 463rd, bested only by ONE female.

Just because it took me six hours less to complete this bike leg doesn't mean it was less painful.

Given that I set my laces last night and my plan to use them on part of my Wednesday industrial firestorm lunch run did not materialize, I was nervous about them slipping on. Another factor was that my feet were frozen from the ride! Getting around the back of the center was very tricky too, as there was quite a bit of mud from the previous night. That was the only complaint I had about the course. I went under one minute by a second for T2 - awesome!

I wasn't concentrated on that though, as a glance of 37:44 on my basic watch told me breaking one hour would not happen based on past performance. I would need to run a 22:15 (7:10 minute mile pace) 5K time. In my previous twelve triathlon 5K performances, my average time was 24:06 (7:46 mmp). My best was 22:29, so it would have to be a PR kind of day. The course was not suited to such an endeavor, a micro tour of Skybrook subdivision hell that featured a big depression shortly into the course and several more mini-rollercoasters further down. Still I clipped along a decent pace without the assistance of my Garmin Foreunner.

As on the bike, I was mostly passing people right and left - ony two of three determined males passed me. This was not just because I was a better runner, it has a lot to do (as with the bike) due to my misplacement at the swim start. The bib numbers correspond to participant's projected swim times. You can sort the swim rankings to easily see most people (including myself) over and underestimate their abilities. For example, I had bib 216, but finished 154th in the swim. On average, the field underestimated their abilities relative to the field by 26 slots. Those underestimated did so by an average of 90 places , and those that overestimated did so by 60 positions. I underestimated my swimming abilities so on the bike and run I go through the process of attempting to align myself with my true abilities relative to the strength of the field.

On the side portion that was done twice, I saw race organizer Scott Campbell a number of times and exchanged positive reinforcement. I also spied Lamperski out for a cool-down runner so I had to inquire. He and his companion told me (my pace) looked strong. That helped. After my last patented spin turn at Northgreen I headed south towards home. I knew by a look at my basic watch this was not going to happen, although I felt deep inside this was going to be a "better than average" 5K effort. Normally I come down the gate charging, but I really didn't this time, splitting this race with a 23:53 5K time. So yes, I did do better than average, but certainly not well enough to PR and slice in under an hour. 62 men and 14 women bested my 7:42 pace on the run.

Total time 1:01:37. It even says so on that watch.

So this was not the shortest triathlon I have finished; that award goes to the Valdese race as the bike course was only 9 miles (just awful mountainous hills that made Take Flight look like a joke). I averaged 15.5 miles per hour on that ride! If you assume the same pace for the additional mile my time would have be 1:09:17. So really an improvement of 12% by slicing off seven minutes and forty seconds.

In the end I didn't make my goal, but I would naturally later learn that I did quite well and should be proud of my accomplishment given my difficulties in recovering from Ironman Wisconsin and that I have not specifically trained for this particular race, most notably the discipline itself. In the male category I finished 34th. I was really stunned to learn only three woman bested me overall, and only Kelly's sister broke one hour.

Until I return for 2009 - some Gatorade Blue Ice for the road

Super thanks to Julie for cheering me on and providing the great photos!

And for the record, I'm glad I didn't flush.

Geeky Splits

Total Time 1:01:37
Male 34/269 [0.127]
M30-34 7/39 [0.179]
Overall 37/465 [0.080]

Male Swim 107/271 [0.395]
M30-34 19/39 [0.487]
Overall 155/466 [0.331]

Male Bike 36/269 [0.134]
M30-34 7/39 [0.179]
Overall 37/464 [0.080]

Male Run 62/267 [0.232]
M30-34 12/38 [0.316]
Overall 76/462 [0.163]

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Video of Subject in his Environment

Hmm, the YouTube video is pretty grainy. Here is a screenshot as well.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Winston goes to work

Yes, Winston does occasionally pick up the doggie briefcase and head off to work. This morning on his way in he was not quite as excited as his owner to spot Deloitte Walking Man. Since we left a little early, he was spotted walking north on South Boulevard once again near Greystone. The timing was consistent with the Monday sighting.

Once we park in the back (I am the sole full-time remnant of a bye-gone era of back-building parkers) Winston gets out and gets all excited about spotting the cats that he has seen many times. Unfortunately for Winston, I haven't told him they are long gone. The mother died several years ago and the fate of the daughter is unknown; I know she was evicted during the last round of building renovations (better known as junk removal).

Every day I drive the back entrance await me. It's like "Return of the Jedi" but without the Ewoks.

Winston then runs straight up the rickety metal stairway to the door. Using my usual dexterity, the door is opened and Winston always rushes in, eager to greet EVERY member of the Conservancy. He is known by all and never leaves any of his friendly tendencies at the door.

On most visits his dad has to spend about 10-30 minutes preparing materials for field work, but today that lasted ALL the way to 1PM. How lame is that?!? Thankfully several staff members got him all riled up, and yes, I did throw the Kong a few times!

Winston was so bored waiting for me!

Our destination this sunny afternoon was north of Lincolnton on the Catawba/Lincoln border. My task was to establish new line for the surveyor coming in tomorrow. It turned out to be a lot more brutal than I anticipated. After crashing into the woods I received one of the most painful yellowjacket stings of my life! Seeing how I was in fragile health to begin with, I then got an amazing acute headache. Still I stumbled on, marking with my pink.

Now we're talking!

We then faced a precipitious descent to the wetland below. While I was getting the life (blood) sucked out of me, I took some nice shots with the sun and beech trees.

I died a little so you could enjoy this

After tying up to existing line, I hightailed my little behind out of the wetland and into the even worse recent clearcut. Anyone who has walked the woods can tell you this is the most dangerous and difficult type of walking. It was even slowing down Winston! From there I marked some points for the irrigation easement, then tried to make a call.

Why won't anyone talk to me?!?

Leave a comment about the tagline that should go here

After an equally long 50 mile drive into the office, Winston was actually showing signs of being tired.

Another great day for Winston!