Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spring Fever: Tulsa Kicks Off Triathlon Season

This past weekend was the Spring Fever Triathlon in Claremore, OK. It is a nice little race that kicks the season off here in the Tulsa area. This race is great for first time triathletes. It is a time trial format with an indoor snake 400-meter pool swim, which makes it a little less intimidating for the beginner. The other distances included a 12-mile bike and a 2-mile run. The bike course, on the way out, is downhill and the return is uphill and usually into the wind. This course definitely favors the strong cyclist. We had a great turnout with more than 300 competitors. The race filled up quickly. Some folks who tried to register later were turned away. Above is a photo of Dana. She led the peanut gallery as they heckled the athletes as they left T1.

I like to use the race as a tune up for my upcoming race schedule as it allows me to work out some of the kinks before I take things out of town. However, this year I had four of my coached athletes racing which made it less of a selfish endeavor. This race would be the first test to see how the training programs I designed performed. The guys have been pretty dedicated and loyal to the programs and I was expecting some good things. They didn’t disappoint me.

The pool was very hot. I got the honor being number one and went off first. By 200 meters into the swim, I was burning up. It wasn’t surprising that my max heart rate for the entire race was just after coming out of the water and running to T1. I have a new position on the bike, more forward and with a 19 cm drop from saddle to elbow rests. This race gave me an opportunity to see how it worked in a race situation. I felt that the position was great while I was riding downhill and with the tailwind, but when I turned around and went uphill and into the wind, I felt that I lacked power. I was too low. I should have been able to answer to the cyclists who passed me but I couldn‘t. The entire effort, including the run, was at Olympic distance pace and I felt it went very well. I placed 6th overall with a time similar to my past few years but with a significantly lower heart rate average. This bodes well for St. Anthony’s next week. Things should be better on the bike when I raise the bars up a bit.

I get pretty excited about the energy level of my athletes. Everyone is so enthusiastic. It keeps me motivated.

Sean Stevens had a great race and went by me on the run. “Hey coach”. I had the opportunity of coaching him on the fly. I was able to yell some words of encouragement and help motivate him as I ran behind. Sean was trailing the leaders but was in contact and looked like he could run them down. He looked great and ran smoothly. Sean ended up besting his previous time by a huge margin and placed 3rd overall. He just missed second place by one second. That was tough for him. I told him not to worry about it; no one remembers who gets second anyway. Sean’s next race coming up is Memphis in May. He should do very well there. He is currently running lifetime bests, and having a breakthrough season.

Doug Leib won the 50-54 age group and he had a great race. He just purchased a new Cervelo P3, the day before the race, and is starting to get more serious about the sport. He didn’t ride the bike in the race, but he should be pulling it out pretty soon. His goals this year are to qualify and compete in the Age Group National Championships in Portland, OR. He is well on pace to meet this goal. Hotel reservations have already been made.

Eric Lundt recently ran a half marathon personal record in February, and he and his wife just had a baby. Eric continues to juggle training, work, and family. Achieving a balance during this transition is difficult, but Eric felt good about his race. He seeded himself very slowly on the swim and was the 92nd athlete to go off. He was caught up with slower swimmers in the pool, which led to a slower swim time than he expected. This was his first Spring Fever Triathlon and he had no idea that this race was so popular. He is currently targeting Buffalo Springs 70.3 in June. His progression is coming along quite nicely.

Steve Scace is a relative newbie and he improved his time by 7 minutes from last years effort despite being ill all week. He continues to become fitter as he becomes a “triathlete”. Steve is targeting Kansas 70.3 and Vineman 70.3 this year. An Ironman will be in his plans at some point in the future.

This race demonstrated a surge in interest in triathlon in the Tulsa community. I hope that all of the newcomers caught the bug last weekend and this sport continues to grow here.
Special thanks to Whitney Mackellar-Stevens and Robert Flagor for the photos

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Trophy Time Capsule

Recently, my work schedule forced me to put too many intensity sessions back to back, which, unfortunately, resulted in a pair of fried legs. Therefore, to get my snap back, I took a few days off training and, instead, took to the garage, which needed some serious attention and cleaning. There were boxes still piled up from our move in October and, frankly, it just looked like hell. Most of the stuff we hadn’t used in years. There were items piled everywhere. Bike travel boxes were lying open with tools strewn out, and leaves which had blown in over the winter added to the clutter and mess.

It looked like a triathlete’s garage, as my wife puts it…..Neglected. My yard used to look like a triathlete’s yard until I hired a yardman.

I am trying to break my “pack rat” tendencies, so I intended on trashing and giving some of this stuff away.

During my cleaning, I came upon a box labeled “Trophies“. We had been carting this big box around for over ten years and three moves unopened. I did not even remember what was in it, so I got out the box cutter and opened this big trophy time capsule. The trophies were carefully wrapped in paper individually. Most of them were won from races in the early to mid nineties, during my last triathlon and running fling. I looked at them and thought, “Why am I keeping these?” I do not even remember winning some of them. I am not really into displaying this stuff. Most of my medals and awards that I win usually go into the bottom of a drawer or into some dark corner in my closet. These trophies weren’t even attractive.

There have been some cool awards in the past, like those we won at St. Croix last year, and Dana’s most recent carved stone award she won last week at Lonestar. The little iron Buffalo from Buffalo Springs is neat. The “Timmy” (It looks like an Academy Award) from age group nationals is also cool. We have quite a collection of acrylic pyramids from Memphis in May. I think we are starting to build quite a bit of “pyramid power” from them.

I really wanted one of the hand carved Hawaiian Koa salad bowls they give to the top five age groupers at the Ironman World Championships. If I won one, I was planning to have a big meal in it the next day. Shucks, just missed that one. Anyhow, I got the big meal and got to keep a Lava Java coffee mug as a consolation.

I wish there was a place were you could donate these old trophies to where they could possibly be recycled. They could be given to kids or used for other races. Someone might appreciate them. I hate to fill up the landfill with them.

It seems like every race nowadays has a finisher’s medal of some sort. Maybe one or two people wear them on the plane home, but what happens to them when the race is a long forgotten memory? The world is slowly being cluttered with all these awards being delved out. There should be a check box on the race entry if you what a finishers medal. To some folks just finishing is the major goal and these medals are a big deal for them.

I do not know what other folks do with these things but I suppose at some point in time they eventually find their way into the trash. Maybe race directors should put more thought into the awards, make them unique to the location of the race, like the Hawaiian bowl or the Texas star carved from the Texas stone. These would be something worth keeping. If they do not want to invest in an award like this, giving a cash award or gift certificate is a good option.

Anyway, with these trophies, I think I will just take a picture of them and store them digitally on my hard drive. It sure frees up the space in the garage, which, now, looks a lot less cluttered without this big box around.

Now, what about race T-shirts?…Ahh,now that is another story.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Let The Racing Begin

This past weekend my wife and daughter competed in events and had great results. Sean Stevens, an athlete I coach, competed in his first race of the season and performed fabulously.

Dana traveled to Galveston, TX to compete in the Lonestar Half Ironman, as prep for Ironman Brazil. She had a great race, placing 2nd overall and went 4:57. She felt the swim course was long, which was an advantage for her since she is such a good swimmer. I had an opportunity to look at her power file and she maintained a steady heart rate and wattage. Her intensity factor was an even 82% of her Functional Threshold for the entire ride. She ended up negative splitting the second loop of the bike course. Her run was just 4 minutes slower than her personal record for the distance in a stand alone half marathon, meaning that she executed this race flawlessly. Her comment after the race was “I don’t even feel like I did anything”. She is scary fit now! Here’s a photo of my trophy wife with her really cool trophy. It is a Texas star carved from Austin Stone. It weighs about 5 lbs.

Paige, one of my twin daughters, the swimmer, accompanied Dana to Galveston for the race. She ran in a 1K kid’s race and was 3rd overall. She has some talent for distance, and I’m sure there will be some triathlons in her future.

Payton competed in the Oklahoma State Gymnastic Championships. I was on hand to cheer her on. Oklahoma has a lot of great gymnasts and coaches and it is really competitive here. The meet was held in Oklahoma City at the Dynamo facility. This is where Olympic great Shannon Miller trained. Payton ended up finishing 10th in the floor and the on the beam, and 11th in the overall for level 7. I was so proud of her. I can see her progress with each meet I attend.

Sean Stevens traveled to Oceanside, California for Ironman 70.3. Sean reported before the race that he “felt good but different“. He’s had a good solid month of training behind him. This event was a “C” level race for him, but I added a bit more rest just so it would be a better experience. Sean ended up going 4:53 and finished 22nd in the competitive 30-34 age group. He has done this race before, but never has broken 5 hours. Saturday he bested his personal record by 15 minutes or so. His 1:34 half marathon was his personal best for the distance outright. Awesome!

2008 is off to a great start!