Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Half Ironman Analysis

The Steelhead Half Ironman was an excellent race. Triathlons tend to bring out the most serious athletes so I really don't stand a chance against most of the guys in my age group. This year's final participation was:

number of finishers: 1890
number of females: 511
number of males: 1379
average time: 5:14:30

I've always taken pride in a fast transition time. It gives me something to be best at, or at least better than most. When this race became a duathlon I had an even bigger advantage since I didn't have to change shoes like most serious bikers.

My transition #1 was good but could have been a lot better. I sprinted to my bike and threw on my helmet. I had prepared a peanut butter sandwich but forgot to unwrap it. Instead of just unwrapping it on the ride I stupidly unwrapped it in the transition area. DOH!! I had difficulties in my haste and it cost me at least 10 seconds. I needed it though. Here I am munching on the dry, very dry, but yummy sandwich.
My transition 1 time was 1:12, which was 154th place - not bad. Had I not messed with that peanut butter sandwich I would have been around 1:00, which was about 50th place. Some dude did it in 47 seconds. Only 3 people that finished slower than me overall had better transition 1 times, so I didn't give much up here.
Transition 2 was much better as I sprinted to my spot, dropped my bike and helmet, grabbed my cap, and took off. My bike was located on the outside aisle, so I lost time relative to most competitors because I had to run further. Either way, my transition 2 was 1:07, good for 53rd place overall! The best time was 38 seconds. This time NOBODY with a overall time above 5 hours transitioned faster than me. Sweet.
Now I should just focus on more important things, like running and biking faster.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008 PGA Championship

In early August we went to the Wednesday practice round of the 2008 PGA championship in the Detroit area. A major golf tournament only comes to Michigan about once every 10 years.
Since it was a practice round you were allowed to bring cameras and there was some interaction with the golfers. It was also a relaxed enough atmosphere for us to dare to bring Evie.
It turns out that Evie was easy to handle. She slept all day...and then slept the entire ride home...and then slept all night. I don't know how that happened and it hasn't happened since, but she basically slept for 24 hours straight. I was pretty tired that day, too so I caught a snooze with her.
We saw plenty of famous golfers but several of the best didn't practice on Wednesday or went out early to avoid the crowds. My favorite Tiger was injured. We did see Fred Couples (pictured below), Vijay, Davis Love III, the Big Easy, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, and Chris DiMarco.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baby's First Speed Boat Ride

All the Elenbaases gathered for an August weekend at the cottage. A month ago we put Evie’s baby life jacket and she was NOT happy about it. She was probably a little small for it. As I mentioned recently, she has grow a lot so we tried it out again.

This time she tolerated it. Evie had her first speed boat ride and was impressed by her mom’s sweet skiing skills.
The rest of the weekend was filled with tubing, golfing, eating, and hanging out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Evie at 4 months

Evie is growing up in front of our eyes. I am amazed how much she progresses and seems to learn every day. Physically, she is growing at an amazing rate. In 4 months she's more than doubled in size! Here she is today sporting her Michelin rolls.
A few weeks ago we introduced baby to her running stroller. She used to like our walks and roller blade rides but lately has fought it.
She has given a lot more smiles in the last month and 2 weeks ago she started laughing. I love the laugh of an infant because you can tell it is motivated by pure joy.
For the most part Evie is a happy baby, but she has plenty of crabby moments as well. She doesn't like to nap during the day so when she gets tired she usually puts up a fuss until she finally is too exhausted to fight it. One night at supper she collapsed in her bumbo chair as she simply couldn't hold her head up anymore.
We cherish the moments we get to snuggle or relax with our content baby.As Evie learns about the world around her I'm noticing a disturbing interest. She really likes watching TV. Today she happily held her head up to watch some daytime TV with Erin. Two nights ago she rolled onto her side to watch the Olympics.
Today Evie had a major accomplishment - she rolled over! Erin and Grandma Veldhof missed it but when they put her on her stomach she quickly repeated the feat. When I came home from work she showed me the skill as well.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wedding Weekend

Erin and I have moved out of the era where all of our friends are getting married, so we are thankfully down to 2-3 weddings per year compared to 8-10 weddings a summer those first few years out of college.

This past weekend happened to have two weddings. On Friday we saw my cousin Cheri marry my second cousin Darren. That sounds weird, but they are from different sides of my family and actually met on the dance floor of OUR wedding! Here is a much younger Darren making his moves on Cheri 4 years ago.The other wedding was Erin's work friend who is also named Erin Elizabeth.

Evie and her second cousin Max met for the first time at Darren and Cheri's wedding. Max is about 4 weeks younger and the two didn't seem very impressed with each other.
The new grandmas tried to steal some time with the babies but both were overwhelmed and needed to calm down outside for awhile.
Weddings are always good for family photos.
I had my first official father daughter dance. Evie enjoyed it this time, but I don't know how many years that will last. It was definitely a different feeling watching a father walk his daughter down the aisle and then give her away.
The other wedding was way up in Kingsley, Michigan. It was an outdoor wedding on an unseasonably cool August evening. Here are all the labor and delivery nurses.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

2008 Whirlpool Steelhead Half Ironman

On Saturday I completed my longest endurance race yet, the Steelhead Half Ironman. The official distances of a half ironman are 1.2 mile swim + 56 mile bike + 13.1 mile run, which is why it is also called the Ironman 70.3.

Shortly before the race started I was walking to the beach with Jason and Rob and we commented on how rough the water was. There was a strong northeast wind and waves were probably 2-4 feet. We figured the swim would be a little harder but possibly faster because of the strong current pushing us. As we were talking and gearing ourselves up, we were notified that the swim had been cancelled! We were all bummed.

When the swim is cancelled the race is changed to a duathalon. A duathalon is a run, bike, run. So the swim was changed to a 2.1 mile run, and then we completed the normal 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. Now we were going to attempt an Ironman 71.1, but running 2.1 miles is much different than swimming 1.2. Oh well, what can you do about mother nature?!

With the last minute course change, my heat didn't start until about 9:00 am. Rob and I ran the first 2.1 miles in a fast 17:05. I had a quick transition and then jumped on the bike. The transition area is crazy. There are approximately 2,000 bikes in a small organized space and everyone is switching gear as quickly as possible. This is how each bike is racked, with the seat resting on a metal bar.
The bar stretches a few hundred feet and bikes are crammed together.
And there are a whole slew of rows just like this. What a scene.

My bike ride was great. The first half of the ride was into a decent wind and more uphill than downhill. The course was very good with nicely paved roads and rolling hills. I was able to stay comfortably in the aero position for a good 40 miles. As a reward for the tougher first 30 miles, we had the wind at our back for the ending and a nice downhill stretch. That really helped me rest my legs in preparation for the run.

At mile 40 of the bike I suddenly had sharp pains in my toes and rear end. I could hardly stand it and wasn't looking forward to the next hour of biking with that pain. But, as quickly as the pain came, 2 minutes later it left and I was back to "normal" (as normal as you can feel after biking for 2 hours).

My bike goal was 3 hours and 15 minutes, a 17 mph average. I crushed my goal with a 2:56:44 and a 19.01 mph average!

My legs felt like rocks as soon as I got off the bike, but by the time I was out of the transition area they were loose and felt fine to run on.

The run started out well and I had a great pace for the first 5 miles. I was probably averaging 8:00 to 8:30 miles. At mile 5 I felt the fatigue starting to set in and slowed. By mile 8 I was in trouble. My energy was draining fast and the mid day heat was getting to me. I didn't want to disappoint my cheering section at mile 10 so I forced myself not to walk and I steadily continued on.
After seeing my fans at mile 10 Erin rode on a bike next to me to make sure I made it to the end. I generously walked through the mile 10 and 11 aid stations and was in rough shape. Erin tried to encourage me but at that point, the motivation must come from within. It was all willpower the final 2 miles and I didn't stop at the mile 12 aid station because I didn't think I would start again. There was a big downhill at mile 12 and I had talked myself into walking when I got to the bottom, but by that time I could almost sense the finish line so I kept moving my legs.
As I approached the end my adrenaline picked up and I was able to semi-sprint the final quarter mile. The finish line was at the beach and we had to run through a couple hundred yards of loose beach sand, which was miserable but it added to the jubilation of finishing. I didn't quite hit my running goal of sub 2:00:00 but finished with a respectable 2:05:46 for a total race time of 5:21:53!!
My other thoughts on the experience:
Fans: I literally had the loudest cheering section out of all 2,000+ athletes. Erin, Evie, Tom, Lisa, Laura, Stacy, Nate, and Sarah all came specifically to watch me. They positioned themselves along the run course so that they could see me 4 different times and every time they yelled encouragement as loud as they could. Several of the other athletes made comments like "who is this Randy guy?" One guy got sick of it so he told them that his name was Rob so that they could cheer for him...and they did.
Run Course: The run course was pretty crummy. It was 2 loops around the Whirlpool campus which was frustrating because the whole 1st lap I was dreading the 2nd lap. Also, several sections of the course we ran along the shoulder of a road with car traffic.
Companions: It was great to have a couple friends competing as well. We had to arrive at the transition area by 6:00am but our race didn't start until close to 9:00, so it was nice to have people to hang out with to pass the time. Rob and Jason both did very well. Rob finished in 5:08:13 and Jason in 5:32:41.
Eating: For such a long event, you need to figure out how to get food into your body. Your body's accessible energy stores run out during a race this long, so you need to replace some of them. The best time to do it is the bike. I figured I'd eat as much as possible during the bike, but I didn't realize how hard that would be. I had a peanut butter sandwich at the start of the bike and was able to choke down 2 power bars, some gummy-bear type energy snacks, and a gu pack. I had more food packed but by the end of the bike the thought of eating sounded so bad it made me want to throw up, so I couldn't eat any more. During the run, eating sounded even worse so I only had 1 gu pack. I'm sure more calories would have helped, but I just couldn't stomach the idea at that point. I hadn't expected that to be a problem.
Overall Time: I'm confident I could have beaten my stated goal of 6 hours and am disappointed I didn't get the chance. I figure my swim would have taken about 40 minutes (23 more minutes than the first run ended up taking) and my first transition would have been about 2 minutes longer. Factoring in another 5-10 minutes for added fatigue at the end I would have finished in 5:50 +/- 5 minutes. I guess this just means I'll have to do another :)
Comparison to a marathon: I felt this race was harder to train for than a marathon, but easier to complete. With 3 long and unique events, you have to put a lot of training time in for each. With marathons you can run 2 or 3 times a week and be ready in 3 months. With a half ironman I had to train for each discipline 2-3 times a week, meaning I regularly did two of the events in a day. I did 7-10 hours of training a week compared to 4-6 hours of running per week for a marathon. The actual race, however, spreads out your muscle usage. At the end of the run I wasn't dying because my legs had nothing left. I was dying because my body was out of energy altogether. My running muscles didn't shut down like they do at the end of a marathon.