Monday, May 21, 2012

Kinect Half Race Report

Kinect Half IM - 5/12/12
Lake Anna, VA
Weather - 75 Partly Cloudy

Larry collecting his hardware

 Larry "High Mileage" Bowers (HML), Shawn Buddenhagen, and Rob Reik travelled to beautiful Lake Anna, VA, to compete in the Kinect Half Ironman.  It was perfect racing conditions, and a great race venue. Everyone finished and lived to tell the tale. Race reports below:

Shawn Buddenhagen - 4th Cyldedale - 5:50.06

At the beginning of the season, I was not sure what races I wanted to do this year. I wanted to complete a HIM last year, but the Patriot HIM is too hot. Reviewing the calender I saw the Kinectic was in May, and I could do my run training when it is cool. Sign me up. This would be my big spring race. I rode some nice long brick workouts with Rob, and HML, and was feeling confident going into the race.

On Friday before the race, we met up at Rob's to get on the road around noon. Rob had just finished a major Mini-Van acquisition, but was ready to go. The bikes were carefully placed with painter's tape, and extra socks, on the rear rack of the Jeep. We bid farewell to Rob's wife, and promised to behave, and we were off. We shot double nickels (trucker term) all of the way up 95. It was a gorgeous day, so I decided we would take the more scenic route. I consulted Siri, and got off a few exits early. Then the adventure started. We took three wrong turns, and drove an extra 20 miles or so. Rob navigates on an iPhone the way I navigate an open water swim.

We arrive at packet pick up a few minutes off our planned time. I was really impressed with the venue, when we arrived. It has to be one of the nicest state parks, I have been to. There is awesome facilities, nice scenery, and a swimming beach on the lake.

Zen Garden Fail

One Star Goodness
As HML had a strict 8pm bed time, and we still needed to eat, we didn't stay long at the park. On the way to the official team hotel we drove the front side of the course, and confirmed our theory that the course would be hilly. Forty minutes later, we arrive at the Quality INN Thornburg. Let me tell you, this is the finest one star hotel in town. The hotel is complete with a 8 yard Olympic swimming pool, and a Zen garden (full of weeds and trash) right next to the interstate. The people in the Holiday Inn express across the parking lot were sending in donations to help us get out of our third world accommodations. The cool part was the place was packed with Triathletes. I chatted with some cool people before every one's early bed time.

Pre race meal provider was Angela's Italian restaurant. The hotel concierge recommended the place. The food was decent. Rob and I stopped at Food Lion next store for water after dinner. Checking out in front of me were two young ladies that may have been strippers. They were in full makeup, heels, sweatsuits, and buying screw top wine. You make the call.
Race Morning
We get up at 5am and meet at 5:30 to head to the race site. It was a bit chilly in the morning, but we knew it would warm up quickly. On the drive to the course I watched the thermometer in the Jeep creep from 54 to 56. As we drive down the last hill to the lake we can see this beautiful fog covering the lake. We head to transition, pick up our chips,  and let people graffiti us. The fog is still hanging around, so I take my time, because there will be a 15 min. delay.

The Swim - 41 min

I tugged on my wetsuit, and went for a quick warm up to check out the suit. It is the first time wearing it. I know you aren't supposed to try things out on race day, but those are things "they" say, and who are "they". Everything was cool, and my hips were pleasantly buoyant.

Rob and I started together in the purple cap group. We picked the outside lane. After listening to the typical remarks by others in the group about their lack of swim training, and the ensuing near death experience, we were off. In our wave there were only thirty people or so, and there was plenty of room to pick your line without being thrashed by the sea of humanity.

The first leg out was the longest part of the swim. It was 750M straight out. I was going along really well. My breathing was good, and I was actually swimming straight. As I came up to the first turn buoy, I am really enjoying the swim. At this time last year, I did my first OWS at Old Point, and it was a disaster. It took me 1:04 to swim 1000M. I spent all winter in the pool, and it really paid off.

The back side of the course, I pull my normal wandering Willy routine and swim about 50 yards off course. Noticing it was getting a bit lonely, I stop look up, and rejoin the race. I followed bubbles and feet for the rest of the race, and cruised in.

As I exit the water, I get the top half of my wetsuit off. On my way to T1, there are wetsuit strippers. The high school girl who helped me gave me a apprehensive look, and then helped me out of the suit. I guess I have that effect on women. Off to TI, I go.

The Bike - 2:41

We reconned the the beginning of the course the day before and knew it was uphill for the first 6-7 miles. I took it easy for the first few miles to get my legs, and not blow up. HML caught me at mile 5 or so. I figured I would pace with HML, and enjoy his wonderful company from a draft legal distance. HML and I traded pace during the course, and had a nice bike leg.

Highlights from the bike:
1. At mile 10 a female pro, comes by and shouts me to the right so loud I almost lose bladder control. She then blows up five miles later when we pass her back.

2. In the side jersey pocket, I had my brand new gel flask with 6 gels in it. The flask launched itself from the pocket at mile 25. No more gel for me.

3. About six miles from the finish, I get stuck behind a convoy of cars going 15 mph. There is a lady in a Honda who is too scared to pass the riders on the course. I was stuck behind this nervous nelly for four miles. The motorcycle ref had to ride up to her and plead with her to go around.

The Run - 2:20

I hit the dismount line feeling good. I made the bike shoe shuffle to my rack and throw on the shoes of awesomeness. I chuck a deuce to HML, as we pass on the way out. The first 1.25 miles of this loop are uphill. Halfway up the first climb, I am winded. I tell myself to chill out, it will be a long run. The rest of the time was a mixture of running and walking, mostly dictated by the hills.

Highlights from the run:
1. I got cramps in my quads from the hills during the second lap. Note to self: train on some hills.

2. On the backside of the course a lady complimented me on my running form. She of course flew past me. She didn't know these legs were for show and not go.

3. At mile 9 I got really hungry. I looked at the aide station like the Old Country Buffet. They had the most delicious chex mix known to man there.

I descended the final hill coming into the finish line, and saw HML and Rob cheering me on. (I will have to finish before them sometime, so I can do some cheering.) They draped the finisher's medal around my neck, and I was happy and proud. It is an awesome feeling to set a plan, train and complete your goals.

Post race meal
Overall it was a great race, and a better time. The venue was amazing, and the weather was perfect. Travelling with Rob and HML, made for a  fun and entertaining adventure. I will definitely do this race again.

I think is it IM time now.

Rob Riek - 5:26.13 - 16th Men 45-50
Kinetic ½ IM Race report
May is not an ideal fit in my plan for ½ IM training but since we are expecting in September, I needed a whole new plan for this year.  Shawn and Larry were in so I was inspired to join them.  I was not able to build the base I know is necessary for a strong bike due to my schedule but thought I could at least have a decent showing with a few well planned long bike/run sessions. This was definitely not the high mileage Larry (HML) plan, which by the way yields better results as you will see later.  Shawn, Larry and I devised a few well-planned, epic sessions that we tweeted about previously. 
                The day before the race we met at my house to start off our road trip with Shawn at the wheel.  We had great weather and due to slight navigational difficulties, took the scenic tour to Lake Anna State Park.  After checking out the very scenic race site, we tried to drive some of the bike course but were under time constraints to get checked in, have dinner and get Larry back for his 8PM bed time.  We had a decent Pasta dinner and good company.  A quick trip to Food Lion for water on the way back to the hotel added to the local flavor as Shawn spotted a couple of lovely ladies that fit the stereotype of stripper (see Shawn’s report for additional details).  Now that we have had the full small-town experience it was back to the finest one-star hotel in town that Larry chose.  Located just 50 yards from the I-95 exit, it provided an ideal setting for a good night of sleep with the lull of tractor trailer noise throughout the night.  After a quality night of sleep, it was up at 4 AM for the pre-race meal and coffee.  The best part of the stay was that they started the coffee early so I could get my pre-race caffeine fix.
                We timed things about perfect getting to the race site but had a little extra prep time due to fog. I think our start was delayed to 7:27.  Shawn and I were off in the 4th or 5th wave with Larry starting a couple of waves behind.  I actually paced myself well at the start and fell into a good rhythm swimming with the lead group in site.  I swam through many of the previous 2 waves so it seemed like I was swimming as well as I thought I was (for me).  As I exited the water I was still feeling good and a quick glance at my watch showed 33 and some change, 34:07 by the time I crossed the timing mat. ½ IM swim PR definitely a great way to start.  On to the bike was not quite the same experience. The legs were not feeling the love with the uphill climb at the start.  About 10 miles in the legs are starting to feel good  until I hit the mountain climb in the middle of the first lap.  There is always a payback for a 30 mph downhill.  Unfortunately, this is a 2 laps course so I knew I would have to climb that thing again- not good for the psyche. Climbing it the 2nd time was much harder but I was still feeling decent after the climb and averaging the 22.5 I needed to meet the goal time.  Around mile 35 I got “chicked” (term meant to be entertaining, not to offend the dudettes on the team) by a large, broad shouldered woman that appeared to be of East German descent (more on her later).  I went back and forth with her and some of her male friends that were cheating (aka, drafting).  I gave them some “friendly” advice to keep 3 bike lengths.  Around mile 42 my race was pretty much over.  I made a rookie mistake of trying something I did not do in training. I put my gel packets in a gel bottle and the gel was too thick to come out of the bottle.  I went from feeling really good to not being able to put decent power to the pedals for the rest of the bike.  I “survived” the rest of the bike and finally got there in 2:42 which was well off the game plan.  I really wanted to opt out of the run since I knew there was no way I was going to have the legs for run but couldn’t bring myself to take the easy way out.
                Readjusting my goals, I ran a quick calculation and decided to try to soldier on and keep Larry behind me until at least mile 4.  I actually made that goal but HML was motoring by me like I was standing still around mile 5.  Larry ran a 1:40, very impressive!  My goal for the last lap of the 3 laps was not to walk (I had to power-walk a couple of hills on the first 2 laps). So back to my East German lady competitor, she and her male friend spend much of the last 2 laps sprinting ahead of me and then walking, then sprinting past me again.  I keep my steady and turtle-like pace of pain and suffering while they continue this annoying practice.  With a little over a mile to go I start to feel better and pick up the pace to catch them after they sprint past and we come in to the last water station together.  I’ve had enough and skip the water and as they slow for refreshments, I start hammering the final part of the run hard enough that there will be no chance of them passing me again.  If I could have only run the whole race at that pace……with my final sprint I finally made it to the finish in around 5:26.  Larry had an awesome showing (3rd place AG) and was looking well rested by the time I crossed the line.  Shawn also had a great showing for his first ½ IM.
                After collecting Larry’s hardware we finally got on the road home, exchanging war stories from the course and discussing the greatness of marriage.  A big thanks to our families for all the love and support to make the training and this race possible.  It was a great race weekend spent with great teammates.  This was a great race venue but I will definitely make sure to focus on hill training if I do this one again!

Larry Bowers - 5:03.50 - 3rd Men 50-55

K Half Race Report
Larry Bowers (aka HML)
Endurance training seems to be, at least for me, such a solo sport.  It is difficult to coordinate schedules with training partners and the duration of the practice typically is very long (several hours).  So for the K Half, I found the training to be quite a change of pace for me because I had the company of two friends for many of the workouts.  Rob and Shawn were great during our very early morning Saturday push offs.  We would meet at Rob’s house and start cycling at 630AM (we have since moved that up to 6AM).  Each of us would push one another and learn from each other.  Rob was precise with his training regime (like an engineer) and I was so imprecise with mine (unlike the engineer I am).  I always took up the tail of our strung out (no drafting) 50 to 70 miles rides.  A quarter mile would usually separate each of us.  Occasionally we would trade lead for a change of scenery.  After the ride, we would lace up our shoes and kick out some more miles, this time much slower and more deliberate, off the bike.  The only event we could not coordinate our schedules with was swimming, though Rob and I did have one lake swim in our dusty wet suits, compliments of Jimmy, one week prior to the big ole race.  I have more training stories but little time to tell them.  Well, just this one … how about when we all got back late from the run and sort of put Rob in the dog house.  So much for the promised breakfast at the Broken Egg Amy, oops.  I tried to make up to Rob and Amy by helping him move a bunch of furniture the next day.  I guess it worked because Ms. Amy invited all three of us for breakfast after our extensive workout the next weekend.  Rob flipped pancakes, and we had scrambled eggs and turkey/apple sausage after a 40 to 60 mile work out.  Yum.
Road Trip
On the Friday before the K Half, we met at Rob’s (our sacred training grounds) and loaded up Shawn’s jeep with our bikes.  My bike was last on the rack … see what happens when you don’t own the rack or drive the vehicle … your bike goes on last.  The bikes were secured but I kept thinking during the 3 hr trip …. I hope these bikes really hold on.  The last thing I want to see is my relatively new tri bike flipping down the road at 60 mph.  If it was my 6 year old aluminum framed Fugi with 22K miles on the rack, I would not care … actually I would have pushed it off the rack.  It was a nice trip that allowed me the opportunity to read one of Rob’s tri magazines and to listen to some music from a generation apparently foreign to me.  What happened to Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel (and the BeeGee’s, Olivia Newton-John, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Steve Miller Band, Elton John, Donna Summer, the Eagles)?  We finally arrive at the race site, Lake Anna State Park, and what a gorgeous site it was.  Very nice lake, beach, rolling hills, clear skies …. And we are early … absolutely perfect.  We pick up our race packages before the race day which was a first for me.  No early morning mayhem package pickup.  Another good start for all of us.
Friday Night
Shawn’s race report says it all.  We chowed down at a local Italian restaurant which was really good.  I just wish I could have eaten there post the race so that I could have pigged out.  For Friday night, I played it safe and had grilled chicken salad.  Carb loading would not help that late in the game (it would just add to a big gut and possible GI distress).  The Quality Inn in Thornburg, I would not recommend.  It did not pass the barefoot test (carpet was so gross; you need to keep your combat boots on while in the room).  And it certainly would not pass the wife test.  I picked it out to save cost but knew that the adjacent Holiday Inn Express was newer yet about $30 more.  I checked out the lobby of the Holiday Inn and it was very nice.  At least we had company at our crappy hotel.  It was packed with all the other cheap athletes.  Anyway, I knew I would be in the room for barely 9 hrs so we all gut it out (and hold our noses).  I did as predicted and that is why I roomed by myself, I tossed and turned for several hours before passing out about midnight.  Wake up time was less than 5 hrs away.  Time to get the heck out of that toilet of a place.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t need a high end snobby hotel.  I just want a clean place, that is all.
Race Morning
Cold, to me that is.  The lake water is warmer than the air but I knew that by time we got on the bike and certainly by time we started running, the air temp would be much warmer and acceptable to this native Floridian.  No mad dash with package pickup so everything went smoothly setting up our gear in the transition area.  An early morning fog is hanging over the lake so the race director delays the race by 15 minutes to allow the fog to burn off.  I was hoping we would start in the fog, it was so neat.
Five minutes before the swim, I have breakfast, a Hammer Gel.  Yep, no eating 3 hrs before the big event which means fasting basically.  A difficult Hammer Nutrition tenant to apply, but it has been proven by elite athletes and it works.  I eye the swim course and know that currents/tides will be a nonissue.  I decide to stay far left away from all the thrashing and not to start too fast.  I will not get winded on the start is my mantra.  The start goes well and I let all the nut cases thrash ahead / away from me.  I get into my groove, start humming and grunting, and then start really long stroking pulls in the water about 30% into the course.  My new goggles are great, I can see everything and they don’t leak, I am happy.  First turn buoy has some congestion but I get around it and swim over/under a few people and take another line-of-sight to the next turn buoy.  Surprisingly I am not all over the course as I usually am.  My dead reckoning is working; I am passing other swimmers in other colored caps.  And some are passing me but I don’t keep count.  Yeh!  But now I feel a stupid arch cramp that eventually goes away.  Where do these things come from and why?  I circle the last turn buoy and start pouring more energy into the swim.  This time I am truly grunting on strokes but I try to stay smooth also.  I hit the beach and try to check my time but I can’t even get to my watch which is under 10,000 pounds of pressure below my wet suit wrist.  Oh well.
As I enter the transition area, I see Shawn departing it.  He looks fired up.  Another good sign.  Rob is nowhere in sight because he has already cleared out of the transition area.  More good signs.  I rip off my wet suit.  Well not exactly like that.  I put a boat load of effort in getting that stupid thing off.  My legs are lubed, my arms are lubed, but it still feels like I am trying to peel my skin off.  I agree with Ashley, I really dislike wet suits regardless of any advantage they provide.  I finally get out of T1 and head up gradient. 
As expected, the lake is at the lowest elevation, everything else is at a higher elevation.  It is about 7 miles up gradient until the double loop starts for the bike course.  Climb, climb, and climb.  Alas, the loop starts.  Shawn and I trade places several times on the loop.  And it seems that every time that Shawn passes me, I am fueling or adjusting something on my bike.  I about take him out twice.  The bike feels good and I promise myself to keep the effort even and not toast my legs.  Based on previous tri’s, the run is ALWAYS the hardest segment.  I see a few other riders fixing flats on the side of the road and am thankful I am not in their shoes.  I suck at changing flats.  The double loop is finally completed and I know it is 7 more miles and this time, downhill.  Yeh again!  About a half way into the slow descent I see three vehicles totally blocking the route.  Riders are behind the cars, some are passing them.  A truck with a mattress and some other furniture going less than 20 miles per hour on a winding road that is open to opposite lane traffic.  Not a good situation.  And going downhill.  I take a chance when I see a clear angle.  I sling shot pass all 3 vehicles while I cross the double yellow line (a USAT no no).  As I approach the transition area I see all these runners going the other way, uphill.  I am on my brakes.  And I think, oh this is going to hurt as soon as I get off this bike.  It is all uphill after the bike and I am not talking about a minor hill.  Time to suck it up big time.
Rack the bike, change socks (yes, I actually do that), lace up shoes; grab all my other stuff (hat, sweat rag, sunglasses, running belt/number) and GO.   And I got to pee.  But where?  I see some porta johns and head that way.  The new tri suit is a tad difficult to unzip low enough to do your thing.  I am hunched over trying to force at least 24 ounces of urine OUT.  Finally done, blast open the porta john door and keep running.
Uphill.  And up and up and up.  Maybe a ¾ mile climb altogether (this is only the first hill on a triple loop course).   I finally see Rob on the initial climb out hill and grunt my way past him.  Alas a plateau and time to catch my breath.  All is going well, no problems.  Steady pace, steady effort (other than the darn hills).   I got a little confused during the first loop of the 3 loop run and then almost started to panic.  I thought, Larry don’t pull a Patriot Half mistake and run a few extra miles in the wrong direction.  I keep following the pack in front of me and pray we go the correct direction.  Lots of hills.  And yes, going down actually hurts more than going up (heel strikes).  I did not expect this level of hills at all.  We did not train for these bad boys and they hurt.  The first two loops take about 33 minutes and I calculate that I am on my way to a 5 hr (maybe sub) Half.  Then I get some signals of pending cramps. What the???  I have been dosing with Endurolytes for the entire race, 3 capsules/hr which is on target for my body weight.  I have also taken other Hammer Nutrition supplements each hour and have really dialed in my nutrition plan with other goodies (Gel and Perpeteum, Amino Acid Caps, Anti-Fatique Caps (fights ammonia build up), etc.).  Anyway, the cramps are not as bad as what I experienced in my two previous Half’s but they are still taking a toll on my pace none the less.  And they greatly worry me.  I feel good otherwise so now I am getting a bit PO’d at the cramps.  The alarming thing is that the cramps are NOT impacting my calves or hamstrings as in the past (when I was clueless about the proper nutrition plan).  These cramps are directly targeting my quads and I now firmly believe the unexpected hill work was the culprit.  The cramps were not caused by the lack of water (I was on target), or lack of electrolytes (I was on target) or lack of fuel (I was on target).  So now I start to wobble a bit in my gait and I even try strange things like changing my pace routine and marching high with my legs.  Anything to keep the stupid quad cramps at bay.  I have plenty of gas in the tank for a good 2 to 3 mile kick but now I just want to make sure I don’t go into full lock up mode like my previous two Half’s.  I didn’t.  I keep a steady, but not increased pace (that sucked), and hobbled it in.  Without doubt, the quad cramps were the results of the hills (up and down) and it cost me about 4 minutes.  Oh well, a definite improvement over my previous leg cramps that actually pulled me off the course in Williamsburg as I beat on them.  It felt great to pass the finish line, though I felt as if someone hit both of my quads with a baseball bat a hundred times.  I downed my Hammer recovery drink (premixed recoverite) within 5 minutes of completing the Half.  It felt great.  I then watched for Rob to come flying down the final hill and ditto for Shawn.  Rob, like me, had a grimace.  Shawn, unlike Rob and me, was all smiles. Go man go!
Post Race Food and Thoughts
It was very good and I thanked the supervisor of the feeding team.  Shawn has a picture of it on his race report.  Wraps – chicken mango and 3 other types.  And side salads (black beans, pasta, fruit).  I went back 3 times (yes, that is 4 meals).  I did share my last one with Rob though.  I was very fortunate to have a podium finish for my AG.  I finished third but the two gents on front of me were WAY in front of me (at least 15 minutes).  How they do that?  And the 4th place finisher was just a few minutes behind me.  I was blessed, simply put.  I took an ice cold shower before we departed the area.  What a super feeling of accomplishment.  I was on a natural high for at least 3 days after that.  On the other side of the planet that is.  Within 20 hrs of finishing the Half, I was on a plane to Guam for the week.  In an aisle seat of course. Lots of standing and walking and stretching for me during the 26 hr jaunt to the South Pacific.  I will certainly be at the K Half next year (but minus the Quality Inn in Thornburg).  What a fun event and what a fun group of guys to train with.

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