It began with a cancellation. 2011 was my first year doing triathlon, and I planned to cap it off with an olympic distance event. Due to a serendipitous scheduling surprise, I was in Florida for a few days in November, and planned to race the 5150 Series “Season Finale” in Clearwater. Then it was cancelled. So, I made my own course at home, and did it all by myself. Instead of 51.5 km, my course came to 51.68 on mapmyride/maymyrun, and the Doughboy 5168 was born. The full race report can be found here.
This year, the distance goal was a half ironman. I almost made it in June, and earned the finish in October. But the season was not done on that day, because I decided to make the 5168 an annual event. I had hoped to do this on Columbus Day, a warm up before B2B, but a washing machine and plumbing issue kept me at the house all day. 11/12 was perfect, as this was the anniversary of what would have been the cancelled race in Clearwater.
There were a few modifications this time around. The first event was very autobiographical in the course, with a point to point to point structure. With Meg off work for Election Day, I had a ride home from the finish, as well as an on-course videographer/photographer.
This year, she raced with me.
Can you spot the new half-ironman by his car sticker? It is true: the longer it takes you to finish a distance, the quicker the sticker goes on the car. Mine was on before we left North Carolina.
Technically, I have to disqualify her for skipping the swim leg entirely, and shortening the bike leg. Luckily, she confessed, so I didn’t have to start a thread on Slowtwitch to out her. Cheater threads on slowtwitch are what I read instead of watching “reality” TV. Last week’s became an instant classic. Oh T3Girl, what were you thinking?
Anyway, it was a good brick workout for her, and I think she’ll be putting in some serious training before doing a tri of that distance, as anyone should. She was hurting afterwards.
The event began in the same place as last year, the Susquehanna University Pool. I hadn’t been in the water since Beach to Battleship. It showed too. I need to stop complaining about this and do something about it, but the truth is, even with a 5K OWS this year, I still swim terribly. I swam even slower this year than last year. I may have counted wrong and done some extra laps, as I didn’t use my lap counter. But even if that is the case, I am not happy with the time. I have heard swimming technique compared to a golf swing, in terms of learning it piece by piece, and never perfecting it. Well if the caricature of how frustrating golf is, is at all accurate, it’s no wonder I’m a mess in the water. But like terrible golfers who go out on the course anyway, I continue to hammer at the water with terrible form, trying to enjoy myself regardless of numbers.
2011 Swim time – 39:43
2012 Swim time – 43:41
Last year seemed to take forever, as I have to go to the locker room, and with November weather, I am not keen on doing this all in wet tri shorts. Each leg of the DB5168 requires a full gear change. I thought maybe I would do better this year, still needing the locker room, but this time using the back exit to get to the car, and Meg had the bike all ready to go. Still, somehow I managed to increase that time too. I think last year’s T1 and T2 were estimates, but even so…
2011 T1 – 17:00
2012 T1 – 17:44
Here is where I know I am stronger than last year, so I should see a big improvement in time, right? I did make one very small change in the course. When I got to the intersection of Fremont road and 35, instead of heading downhill to the church, I went uphill to the house for the transition area. It’s nearly an identical distance, but going downhill was a few seconds. Going uphill, at the end of the ride, and right after two pretty good other hills (small but steep) I was a bit lethargic in the last ascent.
Still, I was surprised when comparing times.
2011 bike – 24.92 1:47:26 avg 13.92mph
2012 bike 24.75 1:57:38 avg 12.6 mph
How was my biking weaker? I don’t train on it nearly as much as I should, but my bike training miles for 2012 were more than 50% higher than 2011.
Then I remembered a vital detail: wind. In 2011, the ride down route 15 was clear and calm. I cannot find the garmin data, but I recall averaging over 20mph for a couple of those miles, which is rare for me, but with a flat course, even some slight negative grade, I can certainly do that. Well, this year, the wind in the same spot was awful. I did have a couple miles over 17mph average, but it was like a wall for most of the ride. Meg confirmed that from her ride. She said that if she hadn’t had the experience of biking into the wind in Dewey Beach, she may have just given up entirely and turned into the more sheltered wooded roads for a shorter trip home.
Here I had to do better, since I wasn’t taking time to vote. Actually, again I estimated the T2 time last year, since I wasn’t using a multi-sport mode timing device. I know it was much longer than I listed it, but that was a side trip really.
2011 T2 10:00
2012 T2 4:11
Hey, finally a leg that went faster! I thought maybe I could break 4:30, but that was aggressive. I’ve have to run my usual standalone pace for 6 miles, then time travel the final .2.
No surprises here. I had to plot a new course, so I could loop and finish at home. The 2011 course took me past Olivia’s school and Jack’s preschool, beginning at one congregation I serve, and ending at the other. It also incorporated the majority of the loop that was my first run on 12-1-2010.
I considered using that loop as a repeat this time, as four loops would be just the right distance. It would also provide the opportunity to see Meg at some point. I knew I would bike faster, but she might catch up to me on the run if entering the loop when I’m at the right spot.
I ended up deciding on my usual 10k loop, which conveniently goes from my house out through a valley where many parishioners live, with a turnaround at exactly 3.1 miles where the loop meets the road. It’s spooky how perfect the distance is from my house to that corner. Anyway, it’s easy to remember, and a nice course.
Going by the Mennonite school, there is a familiar sight to anyone in Central PA. I thought their chosen theme verse was particularly appropriate for my day, though not at all what they meant.
I really wanted to push the run, and my legs were hurting. I slowed to a walk for two small hill climbs, but that was it. Strong and steady, if slow, still makes me feel like a diesel truck going uphill. Nothing quick about it, but I eventually deliver.
The weather was great for this, going over 60 degrees, not common for November in Central PA.
I was having a great time.
Once I made the turn onto Heister Valley road, I could see sections of Quarry Road from time to time. I never spotted Meg. She never did catch me. I bested her on the course by over 20 minutes, which has to be about 30 minutes or better on the bike, as she’s a stronger runner by far. I may have had a 40-50 minute lead on the bike.
2011 run – 6.35 1:40:52
2012 run – 6.2 1:35:10
2011 – 4:35:01
2012 – 4:38:27
This year’s finisher’s medal is still in production, but I am sure it will be a piece worth saving. The same designer is working on it, but wants to explore new medium. Cardboard and aluminum foil is so 2011.
I’m a bit disappointed but not surprised by the lack of improvement in time. With the wind, I’ll call it a slight improvement in effort. But I would like the 2013 benchmark to look like something has changed. I have hope. I dropped my time between my first and second half-marathons, significantly. I also dropped a huge chunk of the clock off of my TriRock Annapolis times, on the identical course. I know it will come with training and weight loss.
However, in the midst of celebrating the constant movement forward, a cautionary tale lies in these numbers. You can’t phone it in and always improve, even at the end of the bell curve where there is so much low-hanging fruit. My slowed half-marathon time at Bird-in-Hand shows that clearly. I was really dropping times early in this year. The last half, not so much. There is no mystery why. I DNFed Eagleman and lost some mental strength. That led to a loss of progress in weight loss. I’ve been determined to continue on, but not as fired up as I was early in the year. The time has clearly come to stoke the fire again. I have some motivations that will be fueling it in months ahead, but for now that’s a private matter, and not for the blog.
Relentless forward progress. That’s what it’s all about. We have one more race this year, as Meg and I will be doing the Rehoboth Half-marathon on December 8.
Also, this Saturday is the Girls on the Run 5K, which will be Olivia’s first. That’s the real victory this year: running with my daughter. All the rest is merely prelude.