11.Twenty.20Eleven – Ironman Arizona

Posted in Ironman, Races, Triathlon on December 13, 2011 by spradley
Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays!!

Race Week
The week leading up to Ironman Arizona was supposed to be nice-n-relaxing.  I was well into my taper and took the entire week off from work.  However, with thoughts of my 1st IM (and all of the unknowns associated with that) and a two (2) day, 14 hour road-trip with a 5 month old (and all of the unknowns associated with that), I was a bit nervous.  Actually, that is probably understating my mental state quite a bit.  I am most often a very easy going person…I try not to get too high in good times nor too low in down times.  However, I was feeling the stress of facing the unknown and the uncontrollable.  How would I feel on the 3rd loop of the bike?  What will the last 16 miles on the run feel like?  What if it rains?

I tried to stay as relaxed as possible.  Molly, June and I packed up on Tuesday and started our journey to AZ.  We were hoping to leave by 10am to make Albuquerque around 5 or 6pm.  Of course, packing for a Jeep full of triathlon AND baby gear is somewhat of a major event in itself and we did not hit the road until 1pm.  We have not even started and we were already 3 hours behind schedule.  Oh well.  Thankfully, June road-tripped like a champ (i.e. slept 90% of the trip) and we were able to make decent time and arrived in Albuquerque, NM around 7pm.  We unloaded the essentials, got some dinner and then crashed.  The next day (Wednesday) we were able to get an earlier start and made our way to Tempe, AZ.  June, again, was a great road-tripper and we made good time.  As we neared Tempe, we actually found ourselves on the IM AZ bike course heading into town.  That got me excited.  Of course, in my excitement, I did not realize that that GPS app on my phone quit working and we missed our turn to the rental house.  Luckily, I was somewhat aware of where we were from previous visits and was able to not get us too completely lost while the phone rebooted and VZ Navigator was reloaded.  Shortly after 5pm, we arrived at the rental house.  We did a quick walk-thru, unloaded the Jeep and then I went for a short shake out run (i.e. nice-n-easy with a few pick-ups).  My run did not feel great…but I chalked it up to 14 hours in the car.

IM AZ Road Trip Cargo

Infant + Wanna-be IM triathlete + Road Trip = Full Jeep. Can you spot the 5 month old?

The next a.m. (Thursday), I woke up and was going to go for a nice-n-easy bike ride.  As I was airing up my tires, I noticed that I had two (2) spots on the sidewall of my front tire that was worn bald.  These were brand new tires and they had two (2) bald spots!  In trying to figure out what happened, I realized that the strap that I used to hold the wheels in place must have rubbed the tires bare during our trip…this was most likely due to the crazy wind we drove through.  Two (2) days before bike check-in and I have an inoperable bike.  I got on-line and found a local bike shop.  They were able to get my bike in today, install some new tires and have it back to me either this afternoon or tomorrow.  I asked if they carried my tire (Michelin Pro 3 Race) and they did not…but one of their sister stores did.  The person with whom I spoke had to make a trip to the other store today, so he said he would pick up some new tires for me.  I was stoked and thanked them profusely when I dropped off my bike.  I tried to relax as much as I could the rest of the day.  Molly, June and I went down to the race site and I did packet pick-up.  On our way home, I got a call from the bike shop and my bike was ready.  Sweet!  Thank you Landis Cyclery!!  On Thursday evening, my mom and her husband arrived from St Louis.  We relaxed with a nice salmon dinner.

GC and June

GC and June hanging at the lake (with the ducks) at the rental house in AZ

On Friday a.m., I met one of my MHM athletes for a bike recon mission.  Thanks (again) to Landis Cyclery, I was able to do the bike recon on my bike!!  John and I met and did an easy ride out to the Beeline Highway.  We rode out a little bit and then back into town.  The ride was nice to get a feel for the course.  On Friday afternoon, Molly’s parents arrived as well as my dad and his wife.  With all of the grandparents set to for babysitting, Molly and I were able to head back into Tempe and attend the Ironman Welcome Dinner.  I was told from veteran IM athletes that you should attend the welcome dinner at least once…and I would agree with that.  It was neat to mingle with other athletes and get pumped up by some of the speakers.  After dinner, we went back to the house, chatted with the grandparents a bit and then I went to bed…hoping for a decent night’s sleep (the sleep you get 2 nights before a race is actually more important than the night before).  Given that I was used to the frequent wake-ups that happen when you have an infant in the house, my sleep patterns of late are far from typical, but I was able to sleep a decent amount.

IM AZ Practice Swim

Max and June getting ready for the IM AZ practice swim in Tempe Town Lake

That brings this tale to Saturday…one (1) day before the race.  I was hoping to spend it with my feet up.  Instead I spent it doing the practice swim, packing (and re-packing) all of my bags, checking into a hotel close to the race site (this is where I would spend Sat night…to hopefully let me get a bit more sleep…but also not force the others to get up at way-to-early-n-dark on Sunday morning), doing bike check-in and running by the grocery store to pick up food for my prerace breakfast.  I was able to put my feet up for about 30 minutes and do a little reading-n-relaxing.  That was critical!  After my short nap, one of my sisters and her family arrived – they were staying with some relatives and wanted to say a quick “Hello.”  After our meeting, the rest of our crew went to a local pizzeria and had some delish whole wheat crust pizza!!  After dinner, Molly dropped me off at the hotel and wished me luck.

June With Grandparents

June With Grandparents

Saturday night I probably slept a total of 1 or 2 hours.  I was up late shaving my legs, checking (and double-checking) all of my race day gear…making sure my Garmin was charged, etc.  Finally, I was able to get in bed and relax with a book.  I would read for a bit, turn off the light and try to sleep for a bit…get anxious…turn back on the light and read for a bit…repeating this cycle 4 or 5 times until I went ahead and got up around 3:30 am (my alarm was for 3:45 as I was meeting “the John’s” at 4:45 to walk over to the transition area).  Upon getting up, I had some breakfast (granola cereal and orange juice), prepped my nutrition, got dressed and then headed down to the lobby to meet the guys.

Pre Race
The atmosphere at the Transition Area (TA) was somewhat subdued.  It was dark and I think everyone knew that it was going to be a long day, so they were conserving their energy.  I dropped off my special needs bags, filled my water bottles and pumped up my (new) bike tires.  Then it was wait-n-relax time.  I hit the porta-potty a few times and scoped the TA layout for both the T1 and T2 “flow.”  At about 6:15, I started to put on my wetsuit.  As the sun was starting to rise and the crowds were starting to gather, the energy was picking up.  I scouted the crowds looking for my family, but was unsuccessful.  HINDSIGHT 20/20 TIP:  If you want to see your family & friends pre-race, have an exact time & location.  The pros were let in the water and shortly thereafter, the age groupers started to get in.  As I got in the water, the cold temps did not bother me much.  I had done the practice swim the day before and knew that in a few minutes my body would acclimate and be ready to go.  I positioned myself on the far side of the swim lane/course (near the middle of the lake…both out & back) about 4 or 5 rows off the front.  I was surveying those around me and moved around a bit to give myself a little bit of space and get away from those that looked like they had a bit of the deer in the headlights look.

Swim
The cannon started and the mass swim start was absolutely crazy.  Due to my swim speed (or lack thereof), I was swimming along with a large group of people the entire time.  Although I was on one side of the swimming lane, there were people around me the entire time.  There were people in kayakers that kept yelling at us to “go right”, but there was no room to go right….only lots of flailing arms and legs.  I had some calf cramping very early on…which I need to investigate further.  Not sure if it was the cold water OR improper nutrition/breakfast pre-race or what, but it had my worried.  From time-to-time, I would go into a “pull” mode swimming and try to stretch my ankles with some ankle flexes (I did not want to stop completely less I get swam over by those on my feet).  I never felt super-tired nor did I feel my swim stroke deteriorated much due to fatigue – indications that all of those sets of 500s paid off and my race pacing was not too fast.  Upon exiting the water, I was concerned about cramping, but thankfully I did not feel any more.

Max Swim Exit

2.4 miles down...138.2 to go!

T1
When you swim right in the middle of the masses, you get to T1 with the masses.  I had decided to change into my cycling bibs & jersey…although it slowed me down a bit, I felt it increased my chance of finishing feeling “comfortable” (and w/o major saddle sores).  I did not, however, expect my T1 to take nearly 10 minutes…but there were no empty chairs and changing into cycling gear while wet & standing was a bit tough.  I changed my clothes and hit the porta-potty to unload some of the Tempe Town Lake that I must have been drinking during the swim.  I grabbed my bike and ran all the way across the transition area (my bike was parked just about as far from the Bike exit as possible…lucky Males 30 – 34!).

Exiting T1 on the Litespeed!

Exiting T1 on the Litespeed!

Bike
My primary goal for this race was to finish, so I think I “rode” the 112 miles more so than “raced” it.  My legs were tired, but I definitely had something left in the tank.  The 1st lap, the winds were rather calm.  The 2nd lap, they picked up a bit on the return to Tempe (slight downhill).  On the 3rd (final) lap, I could definitely feel it blowing me up the hill outbound and was rather concerned about how it would feel during the return…it was tough, but I tried to stay as tucked in my aero position as I could and take in my last few calories before the run.  It is an interesting situation to be really tired about 90 – 100 miles into the bike and know that you still have a marathon staring you in the face.  😉  Thankfully, no mechanicals.

IM AZ Bike

T2
Thankfully, T2 was a little less crowded than T1.  I did another full change into running gear as I wanted to be “cool” in running shorts & singlet.  Another molasses-slow transition, but again I was doing comfort over speed for this event.

Max Early On Run

Early miles on the IM marathon

Run
The run was basically a 3 part story.  The first part (first 6 – 7 miles) felt great.  I was expecting this as my Long Bricks included a 45min run of ~6 miles.  However, right after this period, my stomach went south quickly and I basically did porta-potty hopping for 7 – 8 miles.  At this point, I thought I could, if absolutely necessary, walk to the finish, but I was a bit concerned about dehydration from my pit stops and my inability to take in anything.  Additionally, I had absolutely no desire to be out there an add’l few hours.  When my stomach got sour I stopped with the Powerbar Perform sports drink (I drank Infinit on the bike, but was taking in the nutrition from the aid stations on the run as I did not want to run with a Fuelbelt).  At the risk of TMI, my last porta-potty stop around Mile 14/15 was no longer like a shower coming out of my butt…just gas.  Clearly I was in an “odd” mental state as this got me excited.  I got out of the restroom and was able to start running again!  It was nothing super-quick…mid 8s, then sub 8s.  I had a large “support crew” with me (Molly & June, my 2 sets of parents, Molly’s parents, one of my sister’s, her husband and 2 of my nephews) and they set-up camp on the run course where there is bi-directional traffic….you run by ~ Mile 3.5 and Mile 8.5 of each loop.  This really helped me break down the marathon as I knew that I would see them every 3 – 5 miles.  When I saw them on the 1st loop, I was all smiles & high 5s.  On the 2nd loop, I gave them a “heads up” that it would be a bit slow as I was having “issues”.  Upon starting the 3rd loop, I told Molly that my stomach was feeling better and in 9 miles, June’s dad was going to be an IM.  That got them (and me) excited.  With a mile to go I saw my MHM athlete (John Herring) up the path finishing up his 1st loop.  I ran up on him, told him he looked good and wished him well for the rest of the run.  He asked if I was finishing up my last lap and I said yes.  He told me to enjoy it as I’d earned it.  I ran on up the path and was passing people with conviction as I did not want any “tag-alongers” for the finishing shoot.  Just as I turned off the main loop to the finishing stretch there were 2 or 3 runners just up the path.  I decided not to kick them down as I did not want to lose my lunch at the finish nor did I want to interfere with their race finish experience.  I was going to break 11 hours, and I was OK with that.  The IM race finish was really cool…although I had known for a few miles that I was going to finish, it was still surreal to experience it…especially after being there exactly one (1) year earlier and seeing others do the very same thing and wonder if I had what it took to be an Ironman.  10hr 50min 19sec after the cannon sounded race a.m., I confirmed that I did and got to hear “Larry Spradley, you are an Ironman!”

Max IM AZ Finish

Larry Spradley - YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!

Thank Yous

I owe a lot of people a lot of Thanks…

Molly – Thank you for all of the support and encouragement during my Ironman build-up & race.  I know that doing IM training with a newborn in the household can be tough on everyone…but your help (and many late nights & early mornings) made it possible.  I know I still owe you quite a bit for all that you did…and I am hopeful I can return the favor in the not too distant future.  Love you!!

Molly and June

My Support Crew

June – Although you probably will not be reading this blog entry for quite some time (if ever), you were absolutely my inspiration during many of my long bikes & runs.  Your dad is an Ironman!  You may not remember what happened on Nov 20, 2011 (or that you were there), but I will never forget.  Love you!!

June Smiling

June enjoying the sites at IM AZ

Family & Friends – Thank you for all of the prayers, well wishes & positive vibes…in person, phone & email!  Your interest and enthusiasm in this journey has meant a lot!  Love you all!

STL Folks

IM Max Support Crew

Pete Alfino (and the entire Mile High Multisport family) – Your “nudge” to get me to register for the Ironman event helped to kick-off this journey and your advice helped to keep me going in the right direction.  I learned a lot during my IM journey about myself and the sport of triathlon and I think it will help me be a better father, husband and endurance coach!  😉

To my sponsors – wait…an opportunity!!  If you are looking for a slightly faster than middle of the pack grouper (with lots of potential ;-)) who blogs once in a blue moon about an event that occurred more than three (3) weeks ago…you have found your guy!!  This is especially true if you have connections to the Blue Triad SL LE.

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7.Ten.20Eleven – Loveland & Boulder Peak Triathlons.

Posted in Races, Triathlon on July 13, 2011 by spradley

The first half of my 2011 triathlon season is in the books.  For those that have been following along, my 2011 racing season was going to be divided into two (2) segments:  pre-baby and post-baby/IM.  This past weekend I competed in what was to be the culmination of the first half:  the Boulder Peak Triathlon.  However, my “pre-baby” racing segment was shorted a few weeks (3 weeks and 1 day to be exact) when Molly and I were introduced to June Frances Spradley on June 12th.  The birth of our 1st child deserves it’s on blog entry and I will save that for Molly to detail (after she has a few minutes to recover from the whirlwind of the birth, becoming new parents, and introducing June to various members of our families).  I will say that the addition of June to our family has been incredibly exciting and we have enjoyed every precious moment (although, we would not mind enjoying a few more moments of rest-n-sleep ;-)).

Team 7.Eleven

Team 7.Eleven's newest member: June Frances Spradley

With the early arrival of June, I “tweaked” my training schedule to try and do my best at both the Loveland Lake-to-Lake Triathlon (June 26th) and the Boulder Peak (July 10th).  Basically, this meant that I stopped adding any volume into my training load, incorporated a few add’l rest days and focused on race-specific speed workouts.

June 26th, 2011 – Loveland Lake-to-Lake Triathlon

The Loveland Lake-to-Lake triathlon is an excellent local race.  I *strongly* encourage everyone to consider this race when setting their race schedule.  The location is excellent:  nice lake swim, bike course with a bit of everything and a flat-n-fast out-n-back run course.  The competition can be quite strong as it is often a USAT Age Group Nationals qualifier.  The race atmosphere just has a cool vibe to it…seriously mellow.  This year’s race was also a bit extra special for me as I had several Mile High Multisport (MHM) athletes competing.  For one athlete, Mike, it was his first Olympic distance triathlon.  MHM founder, Pete, was making his return to racing with the aquathlon (Swim + Bike).  Mike and I had done some course recon a few weeks prior (including 2 loops of the 30mi bike course) and were ready. 

The swim was a bit washing-machine like for me.  I lined up on the far right…but apparently, a large number of athletes had similar ideas and the initial section leading to the 1st turn buoy was crowded.  It thinned a little bit after the 1st turn and I was able to find my stroke a bit better.  Shortly after the 1st turn, I was passed by an athlete pulling his physically challenged “partner” in a raft.  After chiding myself for getting passed by someone PULLING someone else, I decided to make the best of it and got on their feet (err raft) and was able to enjoy a nice draft for a bit.  This also helped with sighting as I only had to lift my head minimally to ensure I was still behind this big yellow raft (vs searching for the orange turn buoys amidst the horizon).  Alas, after a bit, the raft pulled away from me and I was on my own to sight.  I felt solid coming out of the water and stripped my wetsuit shortly after exiting.  The run from the beach to the transition area (TA) is approx. ¼ mile and I did not want to do it with a quick-drying wetsuit clinging to my body.

Once at my bike, I dropped my wetsuit, buckled my bike helmet, grabbed my bike and made my way to the bike mount line.  Once passed I hopped aboard and started pedaling (NOTE:  still need to work on the flying mount).  Shortly into the bike I passed Pete (we started in the same wave) and wished him well.  The Loveland bike course has basically three (3) main sections:  12mi of relative flat (slight climbing), 8mi of up-n-down (with a few steep UPs and DOWNs.) and 10mi of rollers back to town.  During the 1st section, I tried to focus on nutrition and staying aero.  During the 2nd section, I tried to not go too hard on the uphills and push my limit on the descents (NOTE:  still need to work on descending).  Typically, the 3rd section back to town has a tailwind and you can just fly.  In fact, during my course recon I was hitting speeds 24+ mph w/o much effort.  However, on this day we faced a decent headwind and that slowed folks.  Again, I tried to focus on staying aero and taking in nutrition to ensure I was well stocked for the run.  Once I entered town, I focused on spinning my pedals to ensure my legs would be ready for the run.

T2 was a quick racking of the bike and on w/ the neon green running shoes.  After having dealt with a headwind for the last 3rd of the bike portion, I was not sure how my legs would feel on the run.  Thankfully, they felt pretty solid.  My mile splits were pretty steady for the first half and once I passed the turnaround point it was just about holding on.  I was passed by two (2) athletes during the run (one in the middle and one late) and tried to go with them as best I could.  I was unable to reel them back in, but did pass a steady stream of athletes throughout.  The finish line area is full of spectators and they definitely gave me a boost as I kicked it in to the finish.

Race Stats:

1500m Swim – 27:58 (148 / 724)
T1 – 0:51
30mi Bike – 1:20:32 (41 / 724)
T2 – 0:41
10K Run – 38:55 (21 / 724)
TOTAL:  2:28:58
32nd Overall;  4th in Age Group (M 30 – 34)

After the race I cheered on the other racers and was excited to see several MHM athletes compete well.  Mike finished his 1st Olympic distance triathlon with a HUGE smile on his face!

July 10th, 2011 – Boulder Peak Triathlon

The Boulder Peak Triathlon occurred four (4) weeks after the birth of our daughter, June.  My training during this time was a bit haphazard as we were sleeping in 1.5 – 3 hour chunks at night thanks to June’s feeding schedule (and a tendency to stay awake for a bit once fed).  Additionally, we had several visits from our family during this time.  However, I think my biggest limiter heading in to the Boulder Peak was a nagging ankle/achilles soreness that began after the Loveland triathlon (likely due to the fact that my race shoes have absolutely no support nor cushioning in them and racing 10K on the asphalt and concrete has a price).  Regardless, I was excited to race and give my best on the day.  The Boulder Peak is a special triathlon for me as my wife & I raced it on our wedding day last year (she ran with a veil attached to her visor and I had a bow tie).  Last year could not have worked out better as she had a 50 minute head start on me (thanks to the wave starts) and I was able to catch her with about a ½ mile to go on the run and we finished together…hand-in-hand across the finish line (before zooming back to Denver to get ready for our wedding).

Again this year I was in the last wave of age group athletes…there would be athletes starting 1hr 5min before me (and every 5 minutes in between).  This “delay” can play with your head a bit…on one hand, I would likely be racing in slightly warmer conditions & have quite a few athletes to pass.  On the other hand, I was in absolutely no rush to finish my TA set-up and do my warm-up.  One advantage of having a newborn in the household is that you get practice at waking up at 3am.  I arrived in Boulder at 5am and racked my bike – I got a pretty decent spot on the bike rack.  I unloaded my gear (which was pretty minimal:  bike shoes in the pedals, bike helmet & glasses on the aerobars, bottle of water & sports drink in the cages;  running shoes & race belt on the ground).  After my set-up I realized I had ~ 2 hours before showtime.  I tried to relax as much as I could and made my way over the Mile High Multisport tent and said hello several MHM athletes. 

Finally, 6:30 came around and the first wave started.  Shortly thereafter I started my warm-up…a couple of easy miles of running on the bike course.  Unfortunately, my Achilles was talking to me.  I tried to run “gently” and put the pain out of my head.  After my run I did some stretching, sunblocked myself to all get out and then put on my wetsuit.  As soon as I was in my wetsuit I headed to the water as I was feeling H-O-T.  The water at the Boulder Res felt nice and my swim warm-up went well.  I was able to watch several waves start and had identified a good starting position on the right side (near the buoys vs near the dock).  Finally, it was time for my wave to get lined up for the start and I found my spot.  The horn sounded and off we went.  I was pleased with my starting position and the line I swam as I had only limited traffic.  I was able to get on a few feet and get a bit of a draft, but I found myself moving up through the crowd a bit (NOTE:  Need to start my swim faster to get on faster feet!).  I had to go wide around a few swimmers who were doing breaststroke and I nearly swam over a girl who was doing a lazy man’s backstroke (arms came out to her side vs coming out of the water…thus she was hidden by the water and I did not see her until I was right on her).  All in all, I felt relaxed with my swim.  Swimming is tough because you want to push yourself, but you do not want to “fight” the water…it is a balance to stay relaxed, but also move powerfully through the water.  Judging by my recent swim times in the pool (vs previous seasons) and at the Boulder Peak (vs previous seasons), I feel I should have pushed it a bit harder.  It was my fastest swim at the Boulder Peak, but I know I can still go much faster.

Once out of the water there is a decent run up to the transition area.  During this run I could still feel my achilles and tried to convince myself that it was just “waking up” because it had not been used during the swim and it would be OK once it was primed from the bike and on to the run.  Once at my spot in the TA, I slipped out of my wetsuit, buckled my bike helmet, grabbed my bike and ran to the Bike Mount Line.

After another less than stellar flying mount (NOTE:  Need to look into using rubber bands on my shoes…my pedal turned upside down and my shoe got stuck in the ground forcing me to dismount, flip the pedal and try again), I got moving on the bike.  As I have a tendency to just race without thinking about eating/drinking, I focused on taking in nutrition throughout the ride.  Every few minutes I would drink from my bottle of Gen UCAN lemonade.  Once that was gone, I took on two (2) gels (washed down with water).  This course is known for the hill at Old Stage…a 15% grade (600 ft. of ascent over 2/3 of a mile) between the 6 and 7 mile mark.  Many riders have to get off their bikes and walk them up the hill.  As I left the Boulder Res and made my way towards the hill I was passing a steady stream of cyclists.  As I approached the hill I shifted down from my big ring to the little one…only to lose all power.  I looked down and my chain had fallen off.  Argh.  I hopped off my bike, put my chain back on, remounted and started back up the climb.  I could not help but think of Andy Schleck at the 2010 TdF.  I re-passed the cyclists who had passed me while I dealt with the mechanical and then hit the steep part of Old Stage…although this year, it did not feel as steep.  In fact, I never had to get out of the saddle to climb.  I kept a decent tempo up-n-over the hill and held on for dear life on the descent (and braked enough to obey the 35mph speed limit imposed by race officials).  Once off the steep descent, there are about 10 miles of riding bliss…slight downhill allowing you to absolutely fly.  After that section, there are a few rollers and then you are heading back to the Boulder Res.  As I entered the Res, I got out of my cycling shoes and did a decent flying mount.

I hit transition and ran to my area, racked my bike, took off my bike helmet and slipped on my running shoes.  I was off.  Unfortunately, I was also “off”…my Achilles pain/soreness was still present.  I hit the first, slightly uphill, mile around 6:10 and thought that if I could maintain this pace, I would do alright.  I would fair even better if I was able to negative split the run.  However, my Achilles issue did not diminish and each mile slowed gradually.  I was able to pass quite a few people on the course, but I was not moving at the same pace at which I had been training.  Regardless, the finish line soon neared and I was able to put in a bit of a sprint and nip a few people just before the line.

Race Stats:

1500m Swim – 27:26 (347 / 1300)
T1 – 1:41
42K Bike – 1:09:12 (85 / 1300)
T2 – 1:05
10K Run – 39:57 (68 / 1300)
TOTAL:  2:19:21
7th in Age Group (M 30 – 34)

Post Race.

I am now enjoying a couple of weeks off to rest (and heal) before I get back into training for my next ‘A’ race:  Ironman Arizona.  I know I have lots of training to do between now and Nov 20th, and I want to make sure I start that training block mentally fresh and healthy!

 

6.Three.20Eleven – Metro Brokers Triathlon.

Posted in Races, Triathlon on June 9, 2011 by spradley

This past weekend I participated in the Metro Brokers Triathlon.  This is a pretty low-key (i.e. small) event in Cherry Creek State Park (CCSP).  I raced this event two (2) years ago and like it for several reasons:

  1. It is very close to our loft, so I was able to bike to the race site as part of my warm-up
  2. It is a bit of a “home course” for me as I do quite a few bikes & runs at CCSP
  3. It is a good early season “test” to see where I am fitness-wise with regards to swimming, biking & running.
  4. It occurs on a Friday evening…so there is no need for an early a.m. wake-up call

This was supposed to be my 2nd triathlon of the year.  However, thanks to Mother Nature doing a number with our weather, the Littlefoot Triathlon (my planned 1st tri of the season) was turned into a duathlon (Run – Bike – Run).  Therefore, this would be my first true triathlon test of the year.

As race day approached, I was feeling pretty fit, but had some lingering concerns about my hamstring.  It has been a problem spot for me the past couple of years, and I had been seeing a physical therapist doing various strengthening and stretching exercises.  Although this has helped, I still do not feel 100% and from time-to-time have to deal with hamstring tightness.  Would this be an issue on race day?  I would find out on Friday evening.

The Metro Brokers Triathlon was a ‘C’ race for me.  Basically, this meant that I would not alter my training schedule drastically due to the race.  I would “train through it.”  The fact that this race fell on a recovery week allowed me to keep my “normal” routine for the most part.  The only modification I made to my typical recovery week schedule was that instead of doing a Long Run on Thursday, I moved it to Sunday.

Due to the timing of the race (Friday evening), although I did not have to set an early a.m. wake-up call, I did have to pay a bit more attention to my eating during the day.  On a typical day, around 6:00pm I start to get a bit hungry for dinner.  So…on race day, I had a slightly bigger lunch (Noodles & Co.) and a decent sized snack around 3pm.

After work, I headed home, put on my race attire & warm-ups (which were just a tee-shirt on this day as the weather was beautiful), aired up my bike tires (thanks Molly!) and headed to the race site.  It was about a 25min bike to the race site and I was feeling pretty good.  Thankfully, there were still some decent spots available in the transition area (TA) and lines for packet pick-up and body marking were relatively short.  After getting all of my race goodies, I unpacked my stuff.  As this was a sprint triathlon (i.e. short race), I did not have a lot.  I had a bottle of Gatorade on my bike and another bottle of water on the ground near my bag (to sip on prior to the race).  I pulled out my swim bag that had my wetsuit & goggles and set it aside.  I had left my cycling shoes in my pedals, so I only needed to set out my bike helmet and glasses.  For the run, I only needed my run shoes.  After getting my TA set-up, I noticed that I was across the aisle from one of my Mile High Multisport athletes – Mike Jean.  Mike had gotten there early and was all set-up and ready to go.  This was his first triathlon and he was excited.  We chatted a bit and scoped out the various TA entry & exit points (Swim In, Bike Out, Bike In, and Run Out).  Satisfied that we knew where we were to go, we headed out for a short run warm-up.  The run felt OK…initially I felt like my breathing was a bit labored, but that subsided after a mile or so.

Pre Race

Prepped to race my first tri of 2011.

 
Metro Brokers Triathon - Transition Area

Racers setting up their transition area (TA)

Upon returning to transition, there was a short meeting going over race details.  Mike and I then grabbed our wetsuits and headed down to the beach.  Our cheering section (Molly and Mike’s wife and dad) walked with us down to the water and laughed as we struggled to put on our wetsuits.  😉  After we (finally) got in our wetsuits, we did not waste any time to get in the water as it was rather warm out.  Although some people were taken aback by the cold water temps, neither Mike or I were phased as we had been swimming in the open water at Grant Ranch for several weeks…and trust me, early May in Grant Ranch was MUCH colder than this.

The swim was a ½ mile (880 yards).  It was basically a triangle shape, but there was one buoy about 30 yards into the water that you were *supposed* to go around during the start & finish.  Unfortunately, the sound system was not sufficient so I do not think this message was heard by all of the racers because once the horn sounded to start our wave, 2/3 (or more) of the competitors made a straight-line for the first turn buoy (bypassing the start/finish buoy).  Not wanting to be DQd, nor tempt fate, Mike and I splashed into the water and went around the buoy.  No matter how many triathlons you have completed, the swim start is always “interesting.”  There were 100 adrenaline filled guys jumping into the water and trying to get their swim stroke going.  It is a bit like a washing machine.  Although I was trying to find my line and get moving, I was also concerned about Mike.  The swim start can be intimidating and this was his first experience swimming with a bunch of other people in a relatively small space.  I knew if we both could manage the first part of the swim, we would be able to get into our stroke and be fine.  Unfortunately, due to my decision to go around the start buoy, I had to swim around quite a few people.  I thought I finally had semi-clear water, but then everyone bunched up at the first turn buoy around 200 yards into the swim.  Once turned, I was able to get into a decent stroking & sighting rhythm.  Although I am not the fastest swimmer, I have improved a bit over the past few years and the fact that I was passing people was a testament to that.  Once I got around the last turn buoy, I knew I had about 200 yards to go and so I started to incorporate a bit more kick into my swim stroke to ensure my legs had some blood in them and I could stand up and run up the hill to the TA.

Metro Brokers Triathlon - Swim

Out of the water...on to the bike!

I got out of the water, lifted my goggles and started to take my wetsuit down to my waist while I ran up the hill to transition.  It was a bit like running on hot coals as I have tender feet and the “path” was full of sand, small rocks, and twigs.  I got to the TA, found my bike and pulled off my wetsuit.  It didn’t slip off as quickly as I would like, but I was able to get it off.  I then took off my swim cap and goggles (and chided myself for not removing those during my run to transition).  Grabbed my bike helmet, buckled it, grabbed my sunglasses and bike and ran towards the ‘Bike Out’.

Upon exiting T1, a volunteer said I was in 15th place.  I had some work to do…but that is nothing new for me as cycling & running are my strengths.  I attempted a very poor “flying mount” and due to my lack of momentum weaved a bit back-n-forth before getting my feet on my shoes and starting to pedal.  Once up to speed, I was able to slip my feet into my cycling shoes and off I went.  The start of the bike had a bit of a climb – making the transition from swimming to cycling that much more difficult.  My legs started to come around and I began the “hunt” for those in front of me.  I typically push the bike leg relatively hard due to the “head start” I give to those with a swimming background.  The fact that this was a sprint triathlon made that OK as you generally go full throttle the entire time.  I made it up the climb, down a fast descent and then the course turned pretty flat for the middle portion.  Scanning the course in front of me, I was a bit concerned as I did not see a lot of cyclists.  It did not look as though I would be able to pass many people.  I tried to stay focused and chalked it up to the fact that those in front of me were in the top 15…so they were likely strong all around triathletes…there would be no “freebies” to pass.  That was fine, I would push on and see what I could do.  After approx. 2mi, I rounded a bend in the road and (finally) saw a few riders up the road.  I was gaining…but not super-quick.  About 2mi later, I passed a couple of guys.  At the turnaround on the bike, I had moved up a few spots and saw that there were a couple more people within reach.  I kept pushing and made it up the final two (2) climbs on the bike course.  After the last pseudo-climb there was a fast downhill back to transition.  It was during this section that I slipped my feet out of my shoes and prepared for my flying dismount.  After navigating the last ¼ mile (which included some sections on a small semi-paved sidewalk), I hopped off my bike and raced into transition prepping for the run.

In T2, I racked my bike, took off my bike helmet (inadvertently taking my sunglasses off in the process…but I left them as the sun was not blazing) and slipped on my running shoes.  I then bolted out of T2 and was told that I was in 6th position.  I passed 9 people on the 12mi bike – not too shabby!

Metro Brokers Triathlon - Run

Running in the green shoes

The first ½ mile of the run felt un-gazelle-like.  😉  Having done quite a few Bike-Run brick workouts I knew this sensation would pass…and it did.  Of course, the fact that I was racing a 5K meant that as soon as my legs started to feel semi-normal, my heart rate was pretty much pegged.  I was able to pass one person relatively quick and saw two (2) more a ways in front.  The run course had a turnaround point a little over a mile into it.  I knew that I could use that to determine the gap to the guys up ahead.  As I passed the mile marker, 1st place went roaring past me the opposite direction.  A short time later, 2nd place went passed (Tim Hola….IM Kona qualifier…with a wife & kids…and a job…much respect) and looked strong.  As I grew closer to the turnaround, 3rd and 4th were heading the other direction.  Although I had closed on them, there was still a gap of 20 seconds or so (of course “running math” is tricky…and rarely accurate).  I knew I had less than two (2) miles to go, so I tried to push harder.  There was a small climb as we approached the 2mi mark and my legs-n-lungs were burning a bit.  After cresting the climb, there was an extended downhill and I was making progress on 4th place, but 3rd was looking strong.  With just over ¼ mile to go, there was another 180 turn.  Just after this turn, I was able to pass a guy and move into 4th place.  I pushed up another slight incline to the finish and crossed in 1:05:18.

Metro Brokers Triathlon - Finish

Attempting to finish strong.

All in all I was pleased with my race.  This was my 1st triathlon of the season and I felt like I competed well.  My time was about three (3) minutes faster than 2009 (primarily due to a faster swim & run). 

Race Stats:

1/2mi Swim – 15:38 (25 / 165)
T1 – 0:46
12mi Bike – 30:03 (3 / 165)
T2 – 0:29
3mi Run – 18:20 (2 / 165)
TOTAL:  1:05:18
4th Overall;  1st in Age Group (M 30 – 34)

2011 Metro Brokers Triathlon - 1st Place Age Group

4th Overall - 1st Place Age Group

5.Twentythree.20Eleven

Posted in Baby on May 23, 2011 by spradley
25 Weeks Pregnant

25 Weeks Pregnant

With best intentions I keep meaning to update the blog with notes and pictures of our upcoming arrival… just as I keep meaning to get things in order for the

34 Weeks Pregnant

34 Weeks Pregnant

baby at home.  BUT time keeps passing and now the Baby Center (that sends me weekly emails about the details of my pregnancy) tells me there are only 42 days left until my due date!  WHAT?!  How can that be?!  So soon?!

Though there is still plenty to do, much to purchase, many hours to catch up on sleep, we are very excited and anxious to welcome our babe to the world!  Our last post was almost 9 weeks ago when I was only 25 weeks along.  Today, I am 34 weeks pregnant!  The weekly website compares the baby’s size to a “hefty cantaloupe” – close to 5lbs in weight and 18 inches long.  At this point they say the baby will grow close to a 1/2lb per week until delivery.

As it has been so many weeks and much has happened I will summarize with photos… The biggest event was my Baby Shower which was a lovely affair hosted by my sister and friend Sadie.  I cannot exclude my mother as she did lots to make it a wonderful day too!  We celebrated with a brunch… spinach and cheese quiches, spinach salad with strawberries, muffins, and beautiful fruit salad!  Oh yeah… cake too!  (That is usually a given at parties that include me!  Cake is a must!!)  All of my guests were extremely kind and generous with many gifts, support, and advice!  Thank you to all!

Baby Shower - May 14, 2011

Baby Shower - May 14, 2011

Baby Shower - May 14, 2011

Baby Shower - May 14, 2011

Baby Shower - May 14, 2011

Baby Shower - May 14, 2011

Such kindess... so much to be thankful for!

Such kindess... so much to be thankful for!

Baby Shower - May 14, 2011

Baby Shower - May 14, 2011

With one of my lovely hosts... Sadie!

With one of my lovely hosts... Sadie!

My other lovely hosts... Annie and Diane (mom)!

My other lovely hosts... Annie and Diane (mom)!

My mini-host, Sarah!

My mini-host, Sarah!

Loving hands...

Loving hands...

Fortunately, as I sat down to write this today I feel good… as other days I feel like “The World’s Biggest” complainer.  Max has done an excellent job encouraging me and making me feel good on these days.  (Thank you Max!)

Mom & Baby Daddy (33 weeks)

Mom & Baby Daddy (33 weeks)

For the most part I have been able to keep a steady fitness routine.  Though, my positioning on the spin bike is getting a little uncomfortable as my knees interact with my belly and I can no longer lean over the handle bars much (meaning I have to do my best to sit straight up).  As for the elliptical which I have used in substitution for running is still a good fit; however the extra weight is noticeable on my back and other joints.  Yes, swimming is the answer but I find it so hard to motivate myself to go to the pool.  Case in point, I had my bag packed, swim suit and all, for this afternoon… no go.  Just couldn’t do it.  Thankfully the outdoor pools will be opening soon and I think the extra sunshine will encourage me!  Anyone interested is welcome to join me!!

Max + Molly + Baby

Max + Molly + Baby

3.TwentyThree.20Eleven

Posted in Baby on March 23, 2011 by spradley

The endurance challenge continues!  With Max working very hard in his IM triathlon training and Molly making the best of her growing body (and baby)!

It has been awhile since either of us have posted a blog update, so we are tag-teaming this one.

Baby's Profile Week 23

Baby's Profile Week 23

On the baby front… We are now in Week 25 and the “babe” has grown to the size of a rutabaga.  What every that is?!  Okay… it is a large yellow turnip type root.  But I guess it may be close to 13 inches long and weighs about a pound and half (yes??).  Two (2) weeks ago, we went in for another ultrasound (previous one was six (6) weeks ago) and everything seems to be progressing well as all of the measurements were within the normal ranges.  And supposedly the gender of the “babe” still remains a secret, even to the doctors!  We will have one more ultrasound in about a month… we’ll see if we can get through that appointment without seeing or not seeing something.  Of course… if we continue to get the same kind of photos from the ultrasound there shouldn’t be a problem.  Can you really see feet in the week 23 photo?! 

Baby's Face Week 19

Baby's Face Week 19

Baby's Face Week 23

Baby's Face Week 23

Baby's Head and Feet Week 19

Baby's Head and Feet Week 19

Although Molly’s belly continues to grow making her feel sluggish, she remains active via swimming, spin class, walking & prenatal yoga.  In the past few weeks, we have “transformed” our office into an office/nursery and erected a crib and dresser/changing table.  We also did some cursory investigation into day care providers.  Oh man… why does it pain us so much already to have to consider daycare? 

Baby's Head and Arms Week 19

Baby's Head and Arms Week 19

Baby's Feet Week 23 (?)

Baby's Feet Week 23 (?)

On the IM AZ front… Max has had a couple sound months of training.  As the weather warms, Max is excited to take his cycling and running outdoors.  In a little over a month (Sunday, May 2nd), Mile High Multisport’s Open Water Swimming will open at Grant Ranch, so he will take some of his swimming outdoors as well!  As for upcoming races, Max will be taking to the trails around Boulder for the Boulder Spring Half Marathon this weekend.  He will then be running the GO! St Louis Half Marathon as various members of his family will be participating in weekend events (5K Walk, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay, etc.).  And thankfully after a difficult registration, in mid-April, the Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial (TT) series will start up on Wednesday evenings at Cherry Creek State Park.  Max’s Lightspeed and disc wheel are tuned and ready to go.  Racing season is upon us!!

Contenders
Contenders

Our Stats:

Molly is finding it harder and harder to be clever about her statistics.  I guess the most noteworthy commentary would be that Molly has now over taken Max and moved into the “heavy weight” category.  We’ll see if Max can hang on as a contender in this endurance challenge of mind and body!

2.Six.20Eleven – Week 19

Posted in Baby on February 6, 2011 by spradley

Week 19

Week 19! I sure feel more pregnant than this photo shows…  soon I expect to expand much more and maybe even feel some little kicks or flutters.  I can’t wait!  Then I’ll know for sure there is something growing inside me.  Actually, Max and I have our next ultra sound this coming week so we’ll know if everything is moving along as it should be very soon.

My stats:

Weight – Closing in on Max…  😦

Body Fat – Although I haven’t been in the pool in a while I know I would definitely float…  😦

Run: Have been able to do some walk/jog intervals but very slow… and I am nearing a point where I should probably stop the pounding on my body as the weight inches upward.  My poor hip doesn’t like the extra weight…

Bike: I still love spin class!  It is a good burn and it just feels good to be moving and sweating!

Swim: As running comes to an end I suppose I’ll get back into the pool but the question is what kind of swimming suit will I wear?!  I suppose the only thing that will fit is a bikini… but that certainly doesn’t sound very attractive.  Yikes!

Additional exercise… Prenatal Yoga!  I found a small little studio that offers the prenatal version.  For some reason I thought it would be a piece of cake… MY GOODNESS!  It is tough!  I can barely hang… hopefully I am getting stronger in mind and body!

More to come… hope to have a new ultra sound photo, but those of you that can read them well please keep the anatomy of the baby secret… we are going to wait until the birthday to find out!

-Molly

1.Eighteen.20Eleven – IM Training Update.

Posted in Ironman, Races, Triathlon on January 18, 2011 by spradley
Max Spradley - 2011.01.18

Max Spradley - 2011.01.18

So now most readers of this blog are aware of two (2) major events coming this year:  my wife (Molly) is pregnant and due in early July and I am hoping to race my first Ironman triathlon in Tempe, Arizona in November.  We are both very excited about these two (2) events.  We are also both aware that our “typical” day will be changed drastically come July (and, likely that we will not have a “typical” day for quite some time thereafter).  Both raising a baby and training for an IM are time intensive tasks, and I am hopeful to manage my time in a way that allows me to be a good dad-n-husband (priority #1) and still perform well at IM AZ (priority #2).  Can this be done?  I hope so & think so…but as this will be our first child, I suspect Molly and I will encounter many new experiences & challenges along the way.

To that end, my plan for training & racing this year is to divide up the calendar into two (2) parts:  pre-baby and post-baby.  This was already in the works somewhat as I knew that I would need a mid-season break to allow me to “recharge” before diving into the “real” IM training leading up to November.  So…I hope to get in some quality training leading up to late June/early July and race the Loveland Lake To Lake and Boulder Peak triathlons.  Ideally, I will get in some very good shape between now and then, race well, and be able to take some time off from training to welcome “+1” to the Spradley household.  After a bit of “transition” time, I hope to be able to get in another quality training block leading up to IM AZ.

So…how is my training go thus far?  Quite well – thanks for asking!  😉  In the last six (6) weeks of training, I did three (3) weeks of “Prep” work (relatively easy training getting my body back into the swing of things) and another three (3) weeks of Base work (gradually building volume focusing on endurance and speed skills).  I have been feeling my fitness level progress and was even able to not go too crazy with Holiday indulgences.

Training highlights:

  • Going for a swim on a random Friday evening (Molly was out with the girls) and coming back with a 3000 SCY PR!  This was motivating and proof that the previous week’s swim lesson played dividends (Thanks Pete at Mile High Multisport!).  It also re-emphasized how important relaxation is during the swim.  I was not worried about splits…just enjoying a nice, easy swim.
  • Attending Spin Class with Molly.  It is not often that Molly and I get to work out together, and it has been nice to go to spin class with her on Monday and Wednesday nights.  This fits well in my schedule as I am working on various speed skills (spin ups, etc.), and allows each of us to go our own pace and still get to spend time together.
  • Swim – 1000yd TT Improvement.  As you will see in my “stats” below, I was able to improve my 1000yd TT time by approx 20 seconds in three (3) weeks (that is ~1 second a day…think what I can do by November!  ;-))
  • Run – LT Improvement.  I did another Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR) test and my LT pace improved to 6:19ppm (vs 6:35ppm back in mid-August).
  • It was also really enjoyable to get outside for a lot of my runs during December.  Some mornings the temps were a bit chilly, but all-in-all the weather made for some invigorating runs.  Of course, 2011 has brought with it some “real” winter weather…so, I have had to spend a bit more time on the treadmill.

Current Stats:

  • Weight: 170.5
  • Body Fat: 12.0 %

Swim

  • 1000 yd TT (2010.12.22): 15:41.4
  • T-Pace: 1:34

 Bike

  • 20min TT (2010.12.25)
  • LT HR: 148 bpm
  • FTPw: 267 W

 Run

  • 30min TT (2010.12.21)
  • LT HR: 160
  • LT Pace: 6:19ppm