Monday, August 26, 2013

Red Top Mountain Triathlon 2013

August 25, 2013
1500 meter swim, 27 mile bike, 6.2 mile run

Swim: 29:27 (1:58/100m) - far further than the advertised 1500m
T1: 1:31
Bike: 1:24:30 (19.3 mph)
T2: 0:35
Run: 47:06 (7:35 / mile)

Pre-race:  I raced the first annual version of this race last year and found myself 2nd overall.  Despite my hatred of hills, I knew I would be back this year for a chance at redemption.  Besides, I love any excuse to travel home and hang out with my family.  Making this race even more special was the fact that Dad, Royce, and Erin were doing their first triathlon relay.  I'm doing my best to slowly convert them to die-hard triathletes - the just don't know what's coming!  Breakfast was the usual peanut butter toast and banana on the drive to the race site.  Everything was going according to plan until I turned on my Garmin - fully charged just 2 days before - and the battery low alert chimed.  Fantastic . . . guess I'll be racing without any data.  That was a first.

Racing together!
Erin (swim), Royce (bike), Dad (run)
Swim: There was far too much drama on race morning for what should have been a simple 1500 meter swim.  The two loop course was an awkward shape and turned out to be much longer than the advertised 1500 meters.  The time-trial start is my favorite, but within the first 25 meters I caught an elbow to the eye, filling my goggles with water.  After a brief panic that my contacts would fall out, and a brief roll onto my back to empty the water, I was on my way.  It was a rather uneventful swim otherwise.  (3rd/50)

T1:  An uphill run from the water brought me back into transition.  I took a few extra seconds to strip my swim skin and put on socks. (1st/50)

Bike:  In the past, I've had a great hatred for the bike, but this season I've made some improvements and am much more focused and mentally "in the game" on the bike leg.  The seven mile stretch from the park out to the highway were exactly what you would expect for a course with "mountain" in the name.  It was one of the most technical race courses I have done, with several significant climbs and steep curves.  I made the pass to move into second place within the first few miles.  The stretch on 41 was going very well until I attempted to shift into my small chain ring for a climb and noticed that it wouldn't drop down.  In many races, this wouldn't be a problem, yet I was about to make the turn back onto the roads that featured several challenging climbs.  Without any other choice, I climbed in my big chain ring for the remainder of the race, trashing my quads as I hammered up the hills.  Nutrition on the bike included a bottle of Heed and one Hammer Gel with caffeine.  (3rd/50)

T2:  In and out in thirty seconds. (3rd/50)

Run:  From the start, I felt very focused for this run.  I knew there was some major climbing to do over the course of six miles, as well as several minutes to make up if I had any chance on fighting for first place.  The first half-mile was a brutal climb, but then transitioned to gentle rollers for the next mile.  I found my cadence and settled into a good rhythm, slowly passing several men ahead of me.  At the turn around at mile three was the first that I caught sight of the first-place female.  The best I could tell she had a minute lead on me.  Mile four to five was non-stop climbing.  I was struggling to maintain pace and felt my heart rate climbing.  I elected to change to a fast walk for two twenty second intervals in order to conserve some energy.  Fortunately, I could see I continued to gain ground on the lead, and ultimately took over the lead near the five mile marker.  The last mile was smaller rollers and I continued to build my lead (ultimately a minute and a half).  The finish came within sight, only for the run path to diverge for one additional loop before truly crossing the line.  Minus my Garmin, I had no idea what my run split was, but thought for sure it was slow.  I later discovered I made up 4.5 minutes on the run, averaging 7:35/mile , which for the course, was better than I expected.  (1st/50)

Post-Race:  I was thrilled, yet also surprised to have taken the win.  I have a constant battle between work and training, and often become frustrated that I'm not able to train to the level that I wish to.  Fortunately, however, this season has been shaping up to be very successful, with multiple overall podiums.  The best part of the day came when I got to cheer my Dad around the last loop of the run and then cross the finish line together with Royce and Erin.  Watching other people accomplish athletic feats is always exciting!  It was a great treat to race at "home" with so many familiar faces, and I enjoyed chatting with many of them as we cooled down and waited for awards.  Thanks to PT Solutions and Georgia Multisports for another terrific event!

Thanks to Mom for serving as my triathlon sherpa, photographer, dog wrangler (Bailey loves to attend triathlons) and cheerleader!  Even with a boot on her gimpy leg, she managed to tough it out all morning.

My next race is Tri for Abbey here in the Charlotte area on September 22nd.  Until then, it's back to being an 80 hour-a-week doctor, training at every spare moment possible, triathlete.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

An Iron-Size Decision

As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed on Thursday morning, I came across a very exciting announcement.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2014
2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

"IRONMAN Chattanooga will begin with a point to point swim in the Tennessee River with ample spectator vantage points alongside the city's famous Riverwalk. Athletes can look forward to a fast, down-current swim. The bike will be a two-loop course with scenic farmland and mountain views. The two-and-a-half loop run course will showcase beautiful downtown Chattanooga, the South Side, Riverview and the North Shore. 

Registration opens September 4th, which leaves me with seventeen days to assess the pros vs cons, risks vs benefits, insanity vs exciting challenge, and overall proposition of racing for 140.6 miles.  My thoughts, in no particular order are:

1. Forth year of residency is likely to be the most conducive to dedicating every second of spare time to training.  

2. I need a coach and a structured training plan again.  If I'm really going to take on this challenge, then I'm in it 110%.  While finishing alone is a remarkable achievement, I want more than that.  I've always been a competitor, and there's no doubt I'm going to let that change now.  

3. 112 miles on the bike is far longer than my butt has any interest in spending on a bicycle.  

4. I'm already drooling thinking about all of the extra food I can indulge in to fuel 15+ hours of training each week.  Yes, I'm food obsessed!

5.  This is going to be a major hit on my wallet - $650 race registration, race wheels, aero helmet, massages, food, equipment maintenance, travel, etc.  

6.  I've never run a marathon.  Last week I moaned and groaned through every mile of my eight mile run.  

7.  Lazy weekend mornings will be replaced by a six hour bike followed by an hour run.  Who needs sleeping in, drinking coffee, and pancake breakfasts while watching the news?

8.  A point-to-point swim downstream in the Tennessee River = best possible swim scenario.

9.  If not now, then when?  

10.  "Crystal Perkins, you are an Ironman."  As a triathlete, I can't help but feel the absolute need to hear that at least once in my life.

And so with all of that being said, I'm 95% sure that I'll be signing on the dotted line when registration opens on September 4th.  My heart jumps into my throat just contemplating the commitment.  Hopefully between now and then I can begin to wrap my head around the idea a bit more.  

Any words of wisdom?  Anyone else want to jump in and join me on this crazy adventure?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Post-Call Ramblings

Last night was pretty calm at the hospital - at least as far as consults were concerned.  Unfortunately, that didn't keep my pager from obnoxiously beeping at what seemed to be 10 minute intervals from about 12:30am to 4am.  Obviously, I was not meant to get any reasonably deep sleep.

A run through Myers Park with music blasting is the perfect remedy for post-call blahs.  It's never easy to get going, but after six miles I was a whole different person.

Post-call pancakes in all of their glory are a requirement in my world.  After, of course, I proceed immediately from car to shower and vigorously scrub away all of the nasty hospital germs.

An hour-long midday nap could easily become a daily habit if I had the schedule that allowed for the peaceful block of time.

"Summer melon" was my adventurous purchase at the farmer's market last weekend.  It's the sliced fruit in the above picture and tastes like a combination of cantaloupe and honeydew.

Eggs scrambled with a random assortment of fresh vegetables has come to be one of my favorite lazy weeknight dinners.

I love supporting all of the local farmers and vendors in the Charlotte area.  Last weekend Whole Foods had a lunch and learn with the local vendors and I enjoying hearing about their passion for food and locally cultivated and crafted delicacies.  Bonus that they surprised us with an elaborate lunch spread featuring all of their products.

Dinner eaten al fresco on the deck while enjoying the last hour of sunshine brings the day to an end in a very enjoyable way.  Now if only it weren't for the 100% humidity and mosquitoes trying to eat me alive.

And  last, but not least, climbing into bed the  night after missing sleep is a fantastic feeling.  Too bad there's and alarm clock set and ticking for morning.