The Off-Season Dilemma

Doran | November 30th, 2013 - 11:25 pm

Every off-season starts the same way for me.  I’m writing about it because I think it’s pretty common and many of you feel the same way.  The first few weeks are characterized by denial.  Yes, the season is over and yes I know I should be resting and take some time off of training. But I have so much fitness from the season and pent-up energy that I can’t help but go on a few more hard rides or runs to just enjoy going fast.  The next few weeks I finally accept it’s time for a break, but end up being grumpy the whole time, because I don’t get those exercise induced endorphins that even out my mood.  Side note: I really, REALLY don’t do well without daily exercise.  Anyway, for the next month I’m usually content to lift weights and get into some unstructured riding and running.  This year has been no different.  After a week or two with very few workouts, November has been a mix of some good long Saturday group rides, a few runs (including the Riverfront 5k), and lifting at least twice a week.  In fact, I’m up to 158 lbs; up about 8-10 pounds from triathlon season (probably half muscle, half fat).  Just recently stepping on a scale for the first time in a month, I couldn’t believe I’d gained that much weight so quickly.   This is about as big as I was when bulking up for the wedding/honeymoon a few years ago.  The Pull Up Challenge really has had a huge impact on my upper body size and strength. Anyway, for the past few weeks I’ve been debating the following three options.  I’ve given myself to December 1 to decide and begin training in earnest.  Now that December is upon us, I’m targeting a December 15th decision.  What’s an endurance athlete to do????

 

New Goal?  Not sure if this is necessarily for me.

New Goal? Not sure if this is necessarily for me.

Lift / Gain Size & Strength

Of course, if I followed my own advice in my Turning 30 post, I would choose this option.  It’s probably time to tone down my triathlon obsession and stay generally fit.  Ideally I’d add some muscle and all around athleticism with lifting and cross-fit type training, while still enjoying swimming, biking, and running more casually.  This would allow more time for work and family commitments, and who knows, maybe I could actually expand my horizons and find some culture with all this extra energy (…. nahhhh).

 

 

Run a Marathon

Somewhat surprisingly, I have never run an open marathon.  I’ve plodded to a few four hour and some change marathons to complete Ironman.  But that was NOT running a marathon.  Heck, that wasn’t even running.  It was surviving.  So the idea of training up specifically for a marathon is pretty appealing.  It’s a new challenge, and something I think I could be decent at.  If I took it seriously, I could probably go somewhere around 3:10 or 3:20 by this spring.  I like the idea of a new challenge, and a new personal  best, while still staying in the area of endurance sports; playing into my strengths and interests.  Another advantage is the training is not as all-consuming as triathlon.  However, there are a few major drawbacks, the biggest of which is it will probably make me even skinnier – it would be counterproductive in terms of lifting and getting more athletic.  Running is also hard on the joints, and doing long runs all winter isn’t exactly my idea of a good time (though I do have all the gear for it, so I can’t complain).

Run a marathon?  Maybe a good option.

Run a marathon? Maybe a good option.

Prepare for 2014 Triathlon Season

After eight years in the sport, I am under no false illusions; making gains in triathlon is very difficult.  I am as close to maximizing my physiology as I can probably get while still having a job and wife.  However, I did see some improvement this past year, and I still love to run, bike, and swim.  But do I really want to be killing myself every morning at 5am in the pool or on the bike, to basically get the same results of the past year or two?

Prepping for a 2014 marathon or triathlon season will involve some cold weather training...

Prepping for a 2014 marathon or triathlon season will involve some cold weather training…

Those are my thoughts, so what do you guys think?  Get big, run lots, or stay the triathlon course?

The Win That Would Have Been

Doran | November 23rd, 2013 - 10:43 pm
CJ, Bear, & her BF Admiral at the neighborhood Turkey Trot

CJ, Bear, & her BF Admiral at the neighborhood Turkey Trot

Last weekend, our neighborhood had a little 5k Turkey Trot.  After triathlon season ended, I took a good solid month with no running whatsoever.  The past few weeks I’ve been doing several short runs per week (3 x 3 miles usually) and I’ve been feeling like crap.  Also, I’ve gained a little weight (probably equal parts muscle and fat).  So I was hoping that a 5k would jumpstart my run fitness and get me moving faster than just plodding along at 8 minute miles.   Of course, I was also very cognizant that this was a small, family friendly event (about 200 people, most of whom were running with strollers and/or dogs).  So I did not want to be the ultra-competitive jerk who took it too seriously.  With this in mind, my plan for the race was to just stay near the front and see how things unfolded.  I wanted to get a good workout in, while not doing anything to make my new neighbors hate me.

At the start line, I was muscled out of the front row by some over-zealous 10 year olds.  I reminded myself it was all for fun and so I just sort of tip toed around them during the first few hundred yards. As we got underway, there was a sizable group and I just tried to hang back a little but keep in contact with the leaders.  As the first mile ticked by in about 6:10, we were only left with about 4 or 5 of us in a front group.  This teenage kid who looked the part of a cross-country runner was setting the pace and a few of us were behind him.  I felt really comfortable and was happy to be running fast again without laboring too badly.  Amazing how different it feels when you haven’t swam and rode before the 5k.  Anyway, as we made a loop and headed back into the crowd of slower runners/walkers, people started shouting “go Ted!” as we went by.  An unusual amount of people were cheering for him.  Which got me started wondering, who was this Ted kid who knows everyone in the neighborhood?  The next mile ticked off and now there were only three of us.  After the next turnaround we had about a mile left to the finish-line.  We were always greeted with shouts to Ted.

About halfway through the race, staying near the front

About halfway through the race, staying near the front.  The older guy is a few steps behind me.

So here we were in the last mile, with Ted the teenage sensation still leading, followed closely by myself and an older guy who looked about 50.  So many scenarios were running through my mind during the race.  I told myself there was no way I was going to just sprint past Ted at the finish line, and since he lead the whole race he deserved to take the win.  I wasn’t going to take it from a kid.  But, if the old guy made a move and passed him, I definitely would try to beat the old guy.  Well, with about 2-300 yards left, the kid picked up the pace, we dropped the old guy, and I just cruised in and finished about 10 feet behind Ted.

1st & 2nd coming down the final stretch

1st & 2nd coming down the final stretch

One of my better running pics.  Lots of thigh though.

One of my better running pics. Lots of thigh though.

We ran the 5k in just about exactly 19:00, and I was really happy with the time considering how poorly I had been running and since I’d gained a little weight since triathlon season.  After the race, I started chatting with the older guy who took third.  He introduced himself as… TED!  He was the guy everyone was cheering for during the race!  He also told me that he had won the race a few times until last year he was beaten by…. THE KID IN FRONT WHO WON!!  So there I was, thinking I was being a nice guy to let this popular neighborhood kid win a race, when a) not everyone knew him like I thought and b) he had already won it last year!!

At the award ceremony.  Got a medal & Dick's Gift Card

At the award ceremony. Got a medal & Dick’s Gift Card

Obviously this isn’t a huge deal, but I learned a lesson, if it’s a race, I will race it.  If they keep time, I will try and do my best.  No more “gifts”.  If the idea of the race was to give someone new a chance to experience the sweet taste of victory, the winning kid should have “gifted” me MY first race win! Oh well, there’s always next year.

Neighbors hanging out after the race.

Neighbors hanging out after the race.

What would a blog entry be without post-race family pic?

What would a blog entry be without post-race family pic?

 

Riding & Running Around Seattle

Doran | October 16th, 2013 - 5:06 pm

It’s been a busy few weeks, and while the triathlon season has eased to a close, work and travel have picked up and kept things really busy.  However, I did have the opportunity to do some incredible riding and running while on a recent trip to Seattle, so I thought I’d share some photos.

Saturday I went for a jog on Elliot Bay Trail, which is just a few blocks from downtown and offers incredible views of the Puget Sounds, Olympic Mountains, and Seattle Skyline.  You can catch it from just behind the famous Pike Place Market and enjoy 5 miles of beautiful northwest scenery.

Seattle's famous skyline

Seattle’s famous skyline

Mountains and Puget Sound

A nice park with views of the mountains and Puget Sound

I was loving this view... even with the tanker

I was loving this view… even with the tanker

View of Seattle's shipyards/dock's with Mount Rainier in the background

View of Seattle’s shipyards/dock’s with Mount Rainier in the background

 

 

On Sunday, I took the ferry over to Bainbridge Island with a plan to rent a bike at Classic Cycle (a short walk from the ferry landing) and enjoy some riding on quiet hilly roads.  I gotta say, the terrains and the views did not disappoint.  The ferry ride itself was spectacular, with incredible views of Mount Rainier, Seattle, and the surrounding area.  I had a crisp cool October morning and the sun came out and warmed things up, well into the high 60’s.  A perfect day for biking.  I had planned on following the course of the annual Chilly Hilly ride that kicks of the season every February.  It’s a 33 mile loop of Bainbridge Island with 2,600 feet of elevation, I was really excited to ride up some hills. I had printed off the cue sheet and map, but about 2/3 into the ride got lost on the island.  Which was awesome because I saw more stuff, but also painful, as I accidentally ended up going up Toe Jam Hill towards the end of my ride (12.5% grade for the ‘steep part’ and 7.5% for about a mile.  Ouch. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

From the Ferry Terminal in Seattle

From the Ferry Terminal in Seattle

View of the City from the Ferry

View of the City from the Ferry

Reminded me of trip to Alcatraz

Reminded me of trip to Alcatraz

Right next to ferry terminal is "Bike Barn" were you can lockup your bike for the day or rent bikes

Right next to ferry terminal is “Bike Barn” were you can lockup your bike for the day or rent bikes

First stop, Classic Cycles.

First stop, Classic Cycles.

My trusty steed, a poor performing Raleigh road bike

My trusty steed, a poor performing Raleigh road bike, that’s Seattle in the background

Just a random shot of the roads, they were rough but nice enough & few cars

A random shot of the roads, they were paved w rough aggregate but nice enough & very few cars

Just a random stretch of road, beautiful views of Puget Sound

Just another random stretch of road, beautiful views of Puget Sound

The view from that road above.  Mount Rainier.

The view from that road above. Mount Rainier.

I got a little creative with the Garmin 910XT.  Very versatile GPS, love it.

I got a little creative with the Garmin 910XT. Very versatile GPS, love it.

Came across this little guy, so I quickly stopped and took a photo

Came across this little guy, so I quickly stopped and took a photo

After a hilly 36 miles, I was badly in need of some fuel.

After a hilly 36 miles, I was badly in need of some fuel.

 

 

Overall I have to say that I left with an incredibly positive perception of Seattle.  In addition to being really friendly, the people there appear to be very fit/active/outdoorsy, and really environmentally conscious.  I’d like to think I fit into this category as well, but won’t be too presumptuous.  I definitely strive to be friendly, fit, and care about the environment.  The city seems really walk-able and tons of people commute by bike, a huge plus.  The one negative is that there seem to be a lot of homeless and/or mentally unstable folks on the streets.  I hear this is because Seattle has social programs to take care of them.  It’s an unusual dynamic for a city with like 4% unemployment and a huge employers such as Amazon, Microsoft, Brooks, etc.  And of course, I got really lucky with weather, having two spectacular days on Saturday and Sunday.  However while I was working Monday and Tuesday it was pretty rainy and yucky out.  Anyway, hope you enjoyed the little mini-tour!

Product Review: Saucony Type A5 Running Shoe

Doran | September 23rd, 2012 - 10:44 pm

The Situation

At the start of this season, I knew I’d soon have to upgrade an important piece of triathlon gear, my racing shoes.  My Zoot Ultra TT’s were getting old.  But beyond that, I had been progressing to lighter and more minimalist running shoes over the past few seasons.  At 9.2oz these race shoes were heavier than my training shoes, with more heal to toe drop and a loose weave upper that I did not love (for more, check out my Zoot Ultra TT review post).

The ol' Zoot Ultra TT's have a few miles on them now

Saucony Kinvara 2's

Before going into my search for a triathlon race shoe, I should mention that I’ve been training in Saucony Kinvara 2’s for over a year now.  I absolutely love these shoes.  At 7.7oz, they are very lightweight (1.5oz lighter than the Zoot TT’s), yet provide good cushion and some light stability. The upper is a thin flexible “mono-filament mesh”.  This unique material keeps out dirt and provides good support with very light weight.  The shoe has a very small 4mm drop from heel to toe, which is fairly minimalist.  The Kinvara’s (they are now on version 3) are a great pair of shoes for every day training; and you can literally race any distance from 5k to marathon in this shoe.

 

The Search

With the Saucony Kinvara’s as my training shoes, I wanted to find something lighter and faster for the 5k-10k run in sprint and Olympic-length triathlons.   I now felt that my running form and feet were ready for a fast, minimalist race shoe.  Further, they had to be quick to don in T2.  I did not realize that I really had my work cut out for me.  I started my search with triathlon-specific shoes, specifically Zoot’s.  However, I quickly found that not only is their triathlon shoe line expensive ($110-$150), but they were also heavy (7oz to 11oz depending on style) and have a larger drop than I’d prefer.  After testing a few, I could not justify the cost or accept the level performance.  They are certainly triathlon-specific, but beyond saving a bit of time in T2 with their unique designs, I did not feel like they were very good for running, which is their main purpose (obviously).  I was extremely surprised that nothing else at Final Kick Sports (a triathlon store, for crying out loud) really felt great either.  However, after listening to all of my requirements, one of the sales guys suggested the Saucony Type A5, which he offered to order.  I turned him down and continued my search.  After visiting several other running stores, and still empty handed (or more importantly, barefooted), I decided to order two shoes that seemed to fit the bill.  The New Balance Minimus Zero , a close cousin of the Trail Minimus, which I wear almost daily for lifting, running errands, walking the dog, and even work sometimes.  I also ordered the Saucony Type A5 based on the recommendation of the guy at Final Kick.

The New Balance Minimus Zero

The Selection

When the two pairs of shoes arrived, I found them to be VERY different.  From the instant I put on the Type A5’s, they felt light and fast.  They had all of the support and cushion of a running shoe, but with a fraction of the weight.  The New Balance’s were definitely cool and light weight.  But they did not offer any structure, bounce, or really feel like they were running shoes.  It felt like the sole and cushion was just a piece of cardboard.  Definitely minimalist, but not quite what I was looking for.  I think they are stylish and comfortable shoes that might be good for a pair of sneakers to wear around town, but not racing.  The Type A5’s blew away any shoe I’d ever tried on.  Plus, they were bright green, and I didn’t mind a little bit of flare.  They were the clear choice after a few months of looking.

Side view of the A5's. Flashy shoe.

The Shoe and Triathlon Modifications

The Saucony Type A5’s are a great running shoe, and well suited to triathlon.  For example, they have holes in the sole and very minimal thin upper, which is great for shedding unwanted water or sweat during a triathlon.  The inside is not quite the sock-like ideal, but definitely comfortable enough to run in barefoot (a must for short distance triathlon).  They also have a little bungee on the back to help pull them on quickly. When I say they are light, I mean it.  The A5’s weigh in at a scant 5.6oz.  I can’t believe a few years ago I was racing in running shoes TWICE this heavy.  Despite the light weight, they still FEEL like a regular running shoe.  They provide adequate cushion for racing and a firm upper that secures the foot well (which was a drawback of the Zoot’s).   They A5’s are low to the ground (high shoes tend to promote heel striking), and have a 4mm heel to toe drop (about what I was looking for).

Bottom of the shoes and inspirational "Get Some" message

Note the pull bungee on the heel and the uniquely thin upper lining, the light shines through

However, the lacing system needed some work.  I’ve written a previous post on making regular running shoes faster for triathlon, namely by adding Yankz laces (or similar).  So I stopped by Final Kick, and they did not have Yankz, but they did have Speed Laces, so I picked up this very similar product.  Speed Laces are basically shoe laces that eliminate the need for tying and instead use a plastic spring thingy (pictures below, you know what I mean).  However, when I laced them up, there was too much friction in the eyelets to allow for a quick, secure, tightening of the elastic laces in T2.  This was highly unsatisfactory.  So I checked out the Speed Laces website and saw that they offer non-elastic laces and “zero friction fittings” to put in the eyelets of shoes and instead use the plastic fittings so the laces slide through easier.  “Perfect” I thought.  Wrong.  The zero friction fittings use a screw through the existing eyelet to secure them in place.  The problem is the screw isn’t long enough to catch each side of the fitting, so when I tugged hard on the laces, the fitting popped off.  Further, why would I buy a pair of shoes that weigh 5.6oz, only to fill them up with metal screws and plastic fittings.  Speed Laces were 0 for 2 in my book.  But then I found a hybrid solution.  I laced the non-stretchy Speed Laces through every second eyelet.  This reduced the friction significantly, so that one or two pulls would tighten the shoes, and also eliminated the extra weight of the fittings.  Finally, I had the ideal set of triathlon race shoes.  This trial and error process did make me appreciate the custom triathlon design and ingenuity that went into the Zoot’s, which easily pulled on (with a loop in the heel) and laced up (elastic laces with a gripping rubber top eyelet) without any modifications.

The various aspects of the Speed Laces and Zero Friction Fittings

I’ve now run in them for a few months, and have absolutely no complaints.  Just slipping them on makes me want to run fast.  I use the A5’s for speed days and race day.  At Sandman Triathlon I ran my fastest 5k ever.  When I go back to the Kinvara’s for slower longer runs, my feet feel heavy and clunky.  Ideally, I can get to a point where I run in the A5’s for every occasion, and I really don’t see anything holding me back at this point.  If you are looking for a lightweight triathlon  or running race shoe, I can highly recommend the Saucony Type A5!

Another glamour shot. Cant help it, I love they way they look

Intimidating pair of shoes. Note the lacing, I skipped half the eyelets to allow for quick tightening

 

Mid-Season Review 2012

Doran | July 10th, 2012 - 1:28 am

With the July 4th Holiday over, it’s time for an annual mid-year review.  July 1st is a good checkpoint for a few reasons.  It is obviously exactly half way through the year, and it’s also approximately halfway through racing season.  Do you stop and take a few minutes to consider how your overall season is going?  I’ll share a few thoughts on how I do it, and maybe it will give others some ideas.  Generally, I break it down into five steps/categories:  1) work-life-triathlon balance, 2) race results 3) training,  4) overall progress towards the year’s goals, 5) plan/adjustments to reach goals, or based on revised goals.  The areas of analysis are applicable to everyone, and I’ll view it all through my goal of a 2:10-2:15 Olympic-length triathlon at Nation’s Triathlon in September.  For me, this breaks down as:

          Swim (1500 meters):         22:00     (1:28 per 100m)

          T1:                                           3:00     (big transition area at Nation’s)

          Bike (40k/25 miles):       1:06:00     (22.7 mph, OUCH thats fast for me)

          T2:                                          2:00      (big transition area)

          Run (10k 6.2 miles):          40:00      (6:27 per mile)

          Total Time:                      2:13:00     (personal best by 4 min & 7 min off Nation’s 2010 result)

Work-Life-Triathlon Balance

I won’t spend too much time here with work-life-triathlon balance, but I can say that it is generally going well.  Work has been steady, requiring a few long days here and there, but mostly manageable.  Life in Virginia Beach is fantastic.  We love the beach life; CJ and I are spending more time together than ever and she recently finished her first triathlon.  The least important of the three (life, work, triathlon) is triathlon training, which we’ll go into in more detail. 

 

Work/Life/Triathlon Balance? Check! Relaxing with Family before Philly Tri

 

Race Results

One of the easiest ways to check progress is through comparing year on year race results.  Unfortunately, I haven’t competed in any races that I have done in year’s past, so I can’t make a direct comparison.  I’ll have to dig a little deeper.  The Smithfield Sprint was a) a very short sprint and b) way back in March so it probably is not the best data point.  I definitely learned a lesson in pacing at Old Point Tidewater Triathlon, but given it’s unusual distances and my poor race strategy, it is not ideal either.  This leaves only the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon.  The swim was downstream, and swims vary so dramatically it is really hard to judge race vs race anyway.  However, the bike leg was strong (for me).  I have not put down too many Olympic bike splits under 1:10.  Doing so with a fairly low and controlled heart rate (158) was a good sign.  Clearly, I still have tons of room for improvement on the bike.  Running-wise, my watch said 41:30 at the 10k mark of the Philly Tri (prior to running an extra 150 meters), which is also right up there with my best performances.  My first two miles were on goal race pace (6:30 per mile) and I did not fade too dramatically, even on a hot day. The fact that this results came in June, rather than the end of the season, is a good sign.  I still have 2 more months of training before Nation’s Triathlon, my A-priority race.  Judging by race results, I believe I’m on track for a good season (as defined by my season goal of sub 2:15 Olympic Triathlon).

 

Training

Next, I take a look at training.   I am a complete data junky when it comes to training.  I’ve logged every training session since May of 2005 in an excel spreadsheet.  Yes, its color coded by sport.  Yes, it auto-calculates monthly and yearly totals and produces charts.  Yes, it’s the closest thing I have to a diary (I note events such as wedding, honeymoon, bowl games, trips, things like that. What? It affects training!).  It can be very easy to just look at training volume.  It is a quick calculation (my charts pop up by themselves!) and provides solid numbers that don’t lie.  However, this isn’t the best indicator of training effectiveness.  Particularly for short-distance triathlon, volume isn’t nearly as indicative of solid training as intensity.  The most important thing to consider is the amount of volume performed at race intensity or higher, which is usually the best way to get faster.  With all of that said, a first step is to add up the numbers and take a look when compared to past years.  The above chart compares my Ironman years (2008-2009) with the past few years. 

Swimming: This year, swimming volume has been consistent, and at a pretty good level.  Since I’ve been swimming for over a decade now, I can usually just look at workouts and my splits and easily know what kind of shape I’m in. This season, training in a meter pool for the first time ever makes it a little harder to compare workouts. I know I’m nowhere near high school or Ironman shape in the pool, but I also don’t need to be.  Now that I’m recovering from my little shoulder twinge, I’m confident I’ll be swimming as well as ever by September.  The great thing about swimming is that it is complimentary to biking and running.  Even after smashing my legs in a group ride or brick workout, it is still possible to get a solid swim workout the next day on dead legs.  For this reason, I’m not worried about building back up over the next few weeks.

Biking: The area I’ve really been focusing on the most is cycling.  I put in a lot of time on the trainer over the winter, and I’m making the bike leg a priority. This has started to show up in race results, but not as dramatically as I’d like. Volume isn’t quite as high as during the Ironman years, but that was all very long slow endurance rides.  This year I’m working to improve power, muscular strength, and muscular endurance with a lot more intensity and interval work.  Gone are the days of riding 60, 80, or 100 miles on the W&OD Trail (I have every inch of that trail memorized, all the way to Purcellville out in Loudon County).  Now, my rides are 15 to 35 miles and have a very distinct goal, such as increasing power (5 x15 second sprints with 3 minute recovery) or muscular endurance and strength (big gear work or 10 minute race pace intervals on 2 minutes recovery).

Running: Running volume is down slightly, and the lowest it has been in years.  However, this is mostly due to my focus on biking.  I find it difficult to really focus on improving the bike and run at the same time.  It is also hard to focus on cycling while putting in long miles running.  I know I can’t put together my goal triathlon without a much better bike leg, so I’m betting that I can hang on for the run with less volume and smarter workouts.  I’ve completely cut out “junk miles”, so most of that running is during brick workouts, an occasional long run (need more of these), or high intensity interval work (need more of this as well).

Progress Towards Goals

Although I have this close to the end, the overall goals for the season are an integral part of how you analyze the previous three categories.  I could have included “sanity check towards season’s goals” in with work/life/triathlon balance.  Basically the main point here is that the higher your goals, the more you have to sacrifice in other areas of your life.  If you are aiming to qualify for Kona, your definition of work/life/triathlon balance will be much different from someone going from couch-potato to 5k to sprint triathlon.  The midway point of the season can be a good place to adjust your goals slightly.  Have you already achieved your goal time?  Or, it may go the other way “is a 2:10 Olympic Triathlon realistic given I work 80 hours per week and have 2 children?” Personally, I believe that at this point a 2:10-2:15 Olympic Triathlon is achievable given my other responsibilities and priorities in life.  Further, the race results and training that I’ve put in thus far indicate that I have the potential to do it (at least in my own mind).  However, I do have some serious work to do.  

Plan to Reach Goals / Next Steps

After this bit of mid-season analysis, you can now look forward and plan the remainder of the season accordingly.  Examining your recent training and race results may have uncovered weaknesses that must be addressed, or reinforced the strengths and weaknesses you believed you had going into the exercise.  After some thought, and a few days to let things simmer in my mind, my plan is as follows: Focus on cycling during the month of July.  I’ll use the Tour de France as motivation and try to cram in as much QUALITY cycling as possible, while maintaining/slightly raising swim volume and including “smart” running volume.  In theory, this intense cycling block will pay dividends in the form of a faster bike split and less fatigued legs for the run.  I have not put in much run volume this year, and I realize I probably cannot split 40:00 in a 10k coming off the bike yet.  I’ll have to remedy this in August with a dedicated run block.  I’ll need some key sessions at or below race pace, and a few long runs to remember how to run on tired legs and improve my economy. I’ll look for a local 5k or 10k and use it as a hard training day and fitness test.   I also believe that the root of my main limiters right now is strength, so I am going to make strength training more of a priority and particularly do some plyometric work to build leg strength and power.  This is best accomplished in the off-season, but one or two strength sessions a week may pay dividends in both the bike and run leg.  Hopefully, this will all lead to a great race in September and a significant personal best Olympic Triathlon. 

Color Run 5k

Doran | May 6th, 2012 - 10:23 pm

The past two months have been pretty hectic at work, and the first thing that suffers when I get busy is Qwickness.  I’ve been managing to do a bit of training, and I’m hoping to get back into regular posts soon.  But until then, I had to share some pictures from the Color Run 5k in Virginia Beach.  Color Run is a new national race series with events in many large cities across the country.  CJ has been running in anticipation of her first triathlon (more on that coming soon), so when our friends came up with the idea, we immediately signed up.

Wow.  What an event.  It was huge.  There were literally several THOUSAND runners and even though they sent us out in very loosely organized “waves”, the course was very crowded.  Obviously, an event like this is not for competition, its purely fun. I’m not usually one for “fun runs”.  But even I could not help but enjoy this “race”.  I dont have too much else to say, except that if you do participate, wear throw-away shoes and clothes, or at least stuff you dont care if they come back permanently different colors.  Some pictures from the race are below, taken with an Olympus Tough TG-310 camera.  I wouldnt recommend bringing a phone, iPod, or camera, unless you have a waterproof version.

Ashley, CJ, and Katelyn - Pre-race and pristine white

 

This pic shows how long the start corale is; and this isnt even 1/6th of the runners

 

The girls, after two "color zones" - still a long way to go

 

You can see the cloud of a color zone up ahead

 

This is the Color Run in a nutshell... and also Katelyn in a nutshell

 

Team Glow Sprint, post race. We had an awesome time.

Doran’s 2011 Season Wrap Up and Reflections

Doran | January 5th, 2012 - 11:19 pm

2011 Virginia Triathlon Season Events

New Years…  The time when everyone reflects on the past year and looks forward to the next.    I’m no different.  This post will cover reflections on my own 2011 – with a bit of personal stuff, but mostly relating to triathlon.  However, as I’ve said numerous times, it is impossible for age groupers to separate personal from triathlon, since triathlon is only a small part of our life.  We aren’t professionals; our performances must be viewed through the lens of what is happening with respect to our other commitments such as work, family, etc.   I’ll start with my personal and professional life, which dictated the amount of time and energy I could put into triathlon (this year more than ever). 

I will forever remember 2011.  I married the love of my life in May, and spent a good portion of my time and energy trying to be the best fiancé, groom, and husband possible.  Activities related to the wedding were pretty time consuming throughout the whole year (Note to single/engaged guys: THE WEDDING DOES NOT END AFTER THE HONEYMOON.  Think “thank you” cards, wedding album, finding a place for all of your wedding gifts in your one bedroom apartment, and just general wedding related conversation).  I did very little triathlon-specific training prior to May (see Honeymoon Body to Triathlon Fit in 3 Weeks?), then entered some races without much preparation or training volume; I worked my way into shape over the summer by racing.  Professionally, it was also an incredibly successful and busy year (see The Ironman and the Businessman).  Early in the year, I completed a demanding internal leadership and development training program in addition to my regular duties.  This fall was extremely busy and in December we finally signed a contract on the project I’ve been working on for three years.  Throughout the whole year, I regularly spent a few nights away from home per week (a full week at the home office was a real rarity).  Extensive travel can make it difficult to manage training (access to equipment, facilities, etc), diet (eating out, airport food courts, added stress), and the time it takes out of your week.  I consider 2011 to be a tremendously memorable and successful year, without even considering the athletic component to my life. 

Now I’ll return to the real purpose of this blog, endurance sports.   As stated earlier, triathlon fell way down the priority list, but I still managed to have some success and see tangible improvement in several areas.   Unfortunately (and somewhat unbelievably) I did not race any of the same races in 2011 as 2010, so I don’t have any direct comparisons to triathlon results.  However, I can say the following:

  • DC (Sprint) Triathlon – 14th of 1313 Overall –Started the season with a surprisingly fast race.  The overall ranking looks great on paper, but with a pretty slow field, I was mostly impressed with how I performed given so little training.
  • Colonial Beach Sprint Tri – 9th of 258 Overall – My first Top 10 in a decent sized race. I really enjoyed the feeling of being in the front of the race.
  • Giant Acorn Olympic Tri – 2:17:05 – My fastest Olympic length triathlon ever, beating the time I went in my last race before Ironman in 2009 (the best triathlon shape I’ve ever been in).  Not bad considering I tapered for Nation’s Tri then didn’t race, and ran 22 miles and stayed up all night as part of Ragnar Relay the weekend before this triathlon.
  • Norfolk Freedom Half Marathon – 1:32:52 (7:06 per mile) – Greatly exceeded my “best-case race” and lowered my personal best by over 6 minutes, a big improvement!
  • Virginia Triathlon Series 25-29 Age Group Champion – I’ve always wanted to podium for the season standings in my age group.  This year it turned out consistency was more important than results, as only a handful of folks in my division met the 5 race minimum to be eligible.  But hey, I’ll take it (Link to VTS Results).   

    Virginia Triathlon Series Age Group Champion - Comes with some shwag!

 

I believe that achieving faster times and solid results with less focus and training is a combination of three factors:

1)      Consistent training over a number of years is the key to success in endurance sports.  I now have another year under my belt, and my times reflected that experience and cumulative training volume.

2)      Realizing my time and energy constraints, I trained smarter with less volume but more focused, intense, and race-specific sessions.  This included not wasting much time swimming (where small improvements would take a lot of effort), and ensuring I put in a very solid brick session (bike-run) every weekend.  I learned a lot about myself and really improved my fitness through these extremely race-specific training days during an unusually hot summer.

3)      Understanding how to race fast and maximize my potential.  I now have completed over 30 triathlons and a handful of running races.  I race within my abilities and usually avoid bonking at the end, but also understand how hard I can push myself.  This is an area that can always be improved, and I’ll continually try to stretch my current fitness to achieve the best results possible. 

In reviewing my workout log, I can also track training volume from 2008 through 2011.  Obviously, 2008 and 2009 were big volume years, as I prepared for Ironman.  2010 and 2011 had much less volume, but as I said previously, my focus shifted to more intense quality sessions to maximize time and efficiency.  The bar chart below has bars from 2008-2011 moving left to right, grouped by discipline.  The swimming is expressed in terms of thousands of yards, while the biking and running are in miles.

Triathlon Training Volume from 2008-2011 by Discipline

 My results are solid but by no means spectacular, and my training volume is laughable in some triathlon circles.  However, I am extremely proud of the season I had given the frantic pace of my “real-life” responsibilities.  It took a lot of dedication and commitment to acheive these result with so much time and energy being spent elsewhere (and rightly so).  I often did not feel like getting up at 5:30am to swim or running on the treadmill at 7pm then going back to work, but I’m very glad I did.  Now then I’ve put a bow on 2011, I’ll use the experiences I’ve gained and look forward to 2012, both in sports and life.

Freedom Half Marathon Race Report

Doran | November 16th, 2011 - 1:26 pm

Start Line of the Freedom Half Marathon in Norfolk

 

This past weekend I participated in the inaugural Freedom Half Marathon in Norfolk, VA.  My employer was a main sponsor of the event, so I got a free entry (sweet!).  Two other co-workers also participated.  Mary was doing her first race in quite some time, and Andy (the neo caveman barefoot enthusiast) was looking to improve on his time from the Woodrow Wilson Half Marathon last year.  This was my goal as well.  In 2008-2009 when I was in Ironman shape, I finished my 70.3 races with half marathons of 1:43 and 1:40.  Last year I completed the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in 1:39, which although a PB, was nothing special. This year I had a few more long runs under my belt and felt that a 1:35 would be a really good time. In the few weeks prior to the race, I tried to run at 7:15 minute per mile pace (to run a 1:35) and I had great difficulty staying at that speed.  I would naturally sort of drift down to 6:45-6:55 per mile.  I figured that this was because I mostly race shorter, faster 10k’s in olympic triathlons.  The last thing I wanted to do was take off at this pace and blow up completely by mile 10.  I could only hope that on race day, 7:15’s would feel more natural and comfortable.

The three colleagues walking to race start. Yes, Andy wore those sandals for the race

I know Norfolk pretty well, and the start/finish line of this race was visible from the hotel I stay at every week.  CJ and I drove down the night before the race and stayed at the usual hotel.  I’ve never had such convenient accommodations prior to an event.  Race morning was a very stark contrast to the typical triathlon pre-race preparation.  Usually I am up at 4:30, drive for an hour or two, set up for an hour, warm up, then race.  This time, I woke up at 5:30 for the 7:00am race, for the sole purpose of eating a bagel and giving it some time to digest.  Although I could see the start corrals from my window, it still didn’t FEEL like a race morning.  At 6:15 I met my colleagues in the lobby and around 6:30 we headed over to the start.   It was a cool, clear morning. The temperature was about 47 degrees at race start, and maybe warmed to 50 over the next two hours.  Therefore, I had some layers to warm up, and started with an extra long-sleeve shirt over my short sleeve shirt and arm warmers.  Before long, I began to enjoy the familiar pre-race excitement.  This included a visit to the port-a-potties.  And given the fact it took me so long to “get the pre-race feeling”, I was still standing in line for the restroom during the National Anthem!  Afterwards I jogged towards the start and entered the corrals from the back.  After sifting past about a 1,000 or so runners, the gun was about to go off and I was still behind the 2 hour pacer.  This made me a little nervous, because I was hoping to run 25 minutes faster than these folks and knew I’d spend the first few miles weaving through the crowd.  Obviously, this is not an ideal situation; it wastes energy, prevents you from finding the right pace, and usually results in traveling much further than the race distance, as outlined in this great post by DC Rainmaker.

I battled my way through the corral, but did not get far enough before the gun went off

Although I was not positioned where I’d like the be, they somehow decided to start the race anyway.  After a minute of doing the penguin walk/jog up to the actual start line, my race began.  I started easy and tried to avoid wasting energy by veering left and right constantly to pass people. I started off conservatively, hoping I could settle into my goal pace of 7:15.  The first two miles were spent picking through the crowds and warming up a bit.  I passed the 2 mile mark and saw 14:40 on my watch, so I knew I had to pick up the pace a little bit.  At this point, I took off my extra longsleeve t-shirt and decided to go with how I felt, even if it was a little faster than 7:15 pace.  The next 3-4 miles ticked off uneventfully as we headed out on the rectangular course.  Just before the 6-mile mark, we turned right for a quick mile before heading back towards the start/finish.  At the waterstop just before half way,  I took a gel and assessed my body.  I was feeling extremely comfortable, still reigning myself in a little bit and appreciating the gorgeous day in Norfolk.  At some point it did cross my mind that there was very little wind, which is unusual for the area.  I decided with 10k to go I was feeling great and could push harder on the second half.  Before I knew it, we made the turn and WHAM! There was the wind.  I don’t want to exaggerate, the wind was not terribly bad, but it was definitely a steady breeze directly in the runners’ faces.  Despite this wind, which some folks around me were complaining about, I continued to push harder.

As with all endurance events, I like to break half marathons up into manageable distances.  I look at the first half as just setting up the second half.  From there, I think of it as a 10k.  At the 10 mile mark, I re-assess myself again and determine how fast I can run that last 5k.  I started pressing while running into the wind, but decided not to really open it up until 5k to go.  Soon I was at the 10 mile mark, feeling great, knowing I was well ahead of my goal pace.  From there I said, “ok, run this like a 5k at the end of a sprint triathlon”.  By this point there weren’t many runners around me, and I would just see someone in the distance, catch them, then move onto the next.  The last three miles were my fastest of the entire race (6:45, 6:52, 6:36).  I was digging deep and coming home strong.  Because I started a bit back in the corrals, and negative split the race, I was never passed during the whole run.  This is a huge mental advantage, because passing people just builds more confidence and positive self-talk, leading to a better race.  I crossed the line in 1:32:52 and completely surprised myself.  I was thinking 1:35 would be a great day.  To run significantly faster than that, PR by 6 minutes, and negative split the run into a headwind,  left me completely satisfied with the race.  Andy came in a few minutes later and also PR’ed by several minutes.  Our times were good enough for 26th and 84th place, respectively, out of 1200 participants.

I don't think my feet hit the ground the last few hundred yards

 

Garmin GPS splits from the race. Runing 13.2 miles isnt too bad.

Andy and I post race. Twinsies. Check out those huge medals.

 

The crew, post-race. Thanks to CJ for being our sherpa and photographer!

Running Tour of Nashville

Doran | October 29th, 2011 - 8:51 pm

This past week I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Nashville for work.  I’m convinced that the best way to get to know a new city is by running.  I stayed at the Hilton downtown, right near the touristy section of Broadway.  It was only a few blocks from the river, which had the stadium on one side and a bike trail on the other.  I found Nashville to be fairly conducive to the active lifestyle, with a decent trail network and bike share.  I spent a little time near Vanderbuilt University, but did not explore enough to get good feel for that area.  There was a great pedestrian bridge to get to the stadium, I used the incline to run sprint intervals one day.  Trails were clearly marked and seem to lead to residential areas, allowing for a run/bike commute to downtown.  However, during my runs (often between 5-6pm), I did not see too many people taking advantage.  Below is a map of the Cumberland River Greenway (on which I did a fair share of my running) and some pictures from my jog around town.

Map of Nashville and Cumberland River Greenway

 

View of Country Music Hall of Fame from my hotel room

 

Stadium and Pedestrian Bridge, from the Broadway St side of the Cumberland River

 

A nice shot of the pedestrian bridge

 

Wide open on pedestrian bridge, the grade eased towards the center, steeper on sides

 

These signs were all over downtown, very helpful

 

Eventually I started to follow these markers on the trail

 

Some cool statues along the way, I wont post them all

 

Where else would you see a horse-drawn carriage randomly?

 

The trail goes past a little history, Fort Nashborough shown here

 

Up north the trail gets a bit more industrial

 

Back near town the views are great though

 

Nashville, as seen from pedestrian bridge

 

It was getting dark as I passed Nashville's first public school, just a few hundred yards from all of the honky tonks on Broadway. Impressive building.

 

Bike Share station, at a very central location. Nice!

Ragnar Relay DC: Race Report

Doran | September 30th, 2011 - 12:12 am

The full team at the race start at Rocky Gap National Park, near Cumberland, MD

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was participating in Ragnar Relay’s Washington DC race.  The post focused on a few of my teammates’ preparation, in order to compare which types of people hold up best during such a challenging event.  In the next few weeks, I’ll follow up on that post, and likely another with some lessons learned.  Ragnar Relay is such a huge event, it can’t be contained in one post.  First, I’m going to write a little about the event and overall experience.

As I write this the Tuesday evening after the race, my body is pretty much fully recovered from 36 hours without sleep and 22 miles of running.  However, I still have not fully sorted through my feelings with respect to this event.  Did I love it or hate it?  Honestly, I can’t decide.  Hopefully this recap will help me collect my thoughts.

Background

For those of you not familiar with Ragnar Relay, I’ll quickly cover the basics.  It’s a running relay race, in which you field a team of 12 people (or less, if you desire) to cover about 200 miles, running in a relay format (one at a time).  To accomplish this, each of the 12 team member runs 3 legs.  The 200-ish miles are broken down into 36 specific legs.  Ragnar organizes the course in advance and provides a race bible with a description of all of the legs, directions to all of the pre-determined exchange points, race rules, etc.  A team of 12 rents two vans, and each van will run all six people in a row, then hand off to the next van for the following six legs.  In this way the two vans leapfrog each other, which provides a van with several hours off while the other van’s members are running their legs.  You continue like this start to finish, handing off an 80’s style snap bracelet at each exchange point.  Many teams choose a funny name and run in some sort of costume or at least similar clothes.  We chose a patriotic theme, which you’ll notice throughout the pictures.

Friday

The van is packed and the boys are ready

We departed Arlington at 8am and set off for the race start, in Cumberland, MD.  Our van contained 6 guys, with $200 worth of food and snacks, several changes of clothes, towels,running gear, and lots of water and Gatorade. At this point the van was clean and odorless; it wouldn’t stay that way for long. We arrived at the race start shortly before 11am, checked in, listened to the race briefing, and started at noon.  Ragnar sets off 15 teams each half hour, starting with the slowest and ending with the fastest, in an attempt for all teams to finish close together on Saturday.  Our team was seeded on the faster end of the field. The start was at the VERY scenic Rocky Gap State Park and Resort.  I would love to do a triathlon here, it was the perfect site, and I’ll have to check out the YMCA Rocky Gap Triathlon, though it doesn’t appear to be very big or competitive.  I digress.  It was a foggy and rainy morning out in the mountains, and remained very damp all afternoon.

Beautiful scenery and the perfect site for a triathlon

Since I was in Van 2, we watched the first leg run around the lake and hand off to the second runner, then we got in the van and went to await our teammates at exchange 6, in which Van 1’s last runner handed off to our first runner.  This occurred around 4pm, and the pressure shifted to us.  Finally, after being in a van driving for 8 hours, we got to run!  We carefully and quickly navigated from exchange to exchange, often stopping halfway to cheer on our runner and give him some water/gel.  Then we’d go to the exchange point in time for the next runner to put on his gear and warm up properly.   I won’t get into the details of individual performance here, but after so many hours of anticipation and the feel of competition, most of us ran very hard on our first leg.  In many cases, we didn’t have much choice of holding back, as we were out in the Shenandoah Mountains and had some very hilly routes.

One of the exchanges from our first leg - Bryce to Garrett

At this point morale was very good.  We were all coming off runner’s high and were very excited to support each other and show team spirit.  Navigating and driving was a little stressful, but at this point the team was energetic and sharp.  My van (2) finished our legs around 10pm and handed off to Van 1 – which left us at a major exchange point on the course.  It was nice to see the other van for awhile and exchange war stories from the day. This stop was at a local high school that offered a spaghetti dinner, showers, and space to lay down in the gym or hallways. It was great to be out of the van for an extended period of time, as well as clean up and stretch out after our first run. As an extremely light sleeper, I did cuddle up in the hallway for awhile after dinner, but did not even get close to dozing off.

Un-named teamates catching a little shut-eye at the high school

Saturday

Shortly before 1am, we got a text from Van 1, it was time to drive 45 minutes to the next exchange and be ready to start running again at 2:15am.  The next few runs took us through Frederick, MD.  We were still a long way from the finish at National Harbor.  For me, this meant my first two legs of 9 miles each were at 8pm and 5am, both in complete darkness.  I think this leg varied greatly for each of us.  While personally this was my best run of the weekend, others were very stiff and sore from the first leg.  Our van’s last runner finished as the sun came up on Saturday morning.  As our van arrived at the exchange, Van 1 was nowhere to be seen.  In the night they had driven to the next stop, rather than the correct exchange spot.  We alerted them of their error several minutes before our runner arrived, but they still didn’t make it in time for the handoff; the team lost about 5 minutes due to this mental error.  The team was definitely feeling the effects of two long runs and 24 hours straight with no sleep, much of it spent in a van.  Inside, our chariot was now a complete mess, with food and dirty clothes everywhere.  We didn’t smell great either.

Flying high sometime in the early morning hours on Saturday

Upon finishing our second legs, we decided to drive to the next exchange with Van 1, which would occur in Friendship Heights, very close to DC.  It did feel good to finally be back in civilization.  However, as a group we seemed to fluctuate between slap-happy and cranky, with each of us in a different place at any given time.  We also started to break down physically, with teammates testing their bodies to determine if they could even complete the next leg.  But these decisions did not come easy, as everyone had a different view.  Some wanted to finish in the best possible time, while others didn’t want to miss their leg despite some difficulty, and nobody was jumping at the chance to run another leg or switch to a longer leg.  We probably should have eaten a big breakfast somewhere to re-charge and get out of the van.  Instead we sort of half chilled, half slept for a few hours between 8am and 10am at the exchange point.  Eventually, we sorted out who was running which legs, and got word from the other van that we’d likely see their runner coming in around 11:15am. Finally, the last 6 legs of the race!  We were in the city and there was a ton of people and energy in the air.  As the race went on, the teams began to group together more.  By this point there was a steady stream of runners and a lot of activity around the exchange point.  So there we waited… and waited… and waited.  Now in regular contact with the other van, we were informed that our runner, Ryan, was lost.  After about 30 minutes of waiting, we decided to start our runner without him.  More on that story in my next post.

Getting ready to finish it out on Saturday - the foam roller was our best friend

As the afternoon grew warmer and the sun poked out for the first time all race, we ran our final six legs through DC, into Crystal City, down the Potomac River, and across the bridge into National Harbor.  It was a pretty cool experience, I must admit.  After I handed off to our last runner in Old Town Alexandria, we quickly got back in the van and made our way to the finish line at National Harbor.  This is where teams usually meet up with their last runner and cross the finish line together.  Van 1 would not be meeting us, due to the lost runner incident and some other afternoon commitments.  So it was up to us six to make a big splash at the finish.  We dealt with some traffic in Alexandria and had to park way out in a gravel lot, then gather our gear and hurry to meet Andy as he finished the race.  We made our way down to the finish and there he was… walking towards us, having finished 5 minutes ago…  We missed him.  Very disappointing.  However, we quickly re-grouped and triumphantly crossed the finish line with the few of us left standing.  All in all it was a slightly disappointing ending to a pretty epic race.

What remained of the team, bringing it in as strong as we could. Hard to see, but we're holding sparklers

Overall Experience

In general, Ragnar Relay is an “experience”.  There are aspects of the event that I perfectly suit my personality and some that are just not for me.  We’ll start with the negative.  Riding around for 36 hours in a van generally isn’t my idea of a good time.  The logistics can be pretty stressful, but in general this is a strength of mine – staying organized and managing time well.  So for our van it wasn’t a big issue except missing Andy at the very last leg (worst possible time).  We had a lot of great personalities in our van, so that was good, but I saw other groups who were really at each other during the race.  That would have been tough.  If I want to have a big weekend of running (or training, or racing), I would rather do it from the comfort of my own home or a hotel room.  For some reason, the idea of staying up all night just didn’t sit well with me and looking back, is really what drove my negative thoughts towards the race.  I just love to sleep a good 8 hours and need a dark quiet place to do so.  Also, I was concerned that missing this much sleep while stressing the body with activity could lead to illness, a tough week at work, or spoil my triathlon the next weekend.  In retrospect, this was actually the major reason why I had mixed emotions.  Without any pressure to race fast this weekend at Giant Acorn, I would have been much more care free and probably enjoyed myself a lot more.  Unfortunately, too little too late, and I was unexpectedly put in this position due to my decision not to race Nation’s Triathlon.

Despite these drawbacks, Ragnar Relay appeals to me in several ways.  I thrive on competition.  And this is a race.  So automatically I know it will bring out the best in me.  I really enjoyed being around other teams and tracking our time gaps after each leg to see if we had gained or lost time.  Obviously, the endurance aspect is perfect for me.  It’s a good way to push your body and get a few long runs crammed into a weekend.  I love events like Ironman and Ragnar Relay, which really test what your body is capable of us. In today’s modern society we are really never forced to push ourselves to the limit.   Ragnar Relay tests not only running endurance, but also sleep deprivation and ability to focus and navigate for 24 hours or more.  Although you wouldn’t have known by my semi-difficult attitude during the race, it was kind of nice to be on a team as well.  Triathlon is so individual and I rarely have anyone come to my races.  Seeing the guys in the van at the start and finish of each leg was great, and even better when they’d stop and cheer in the middle of my run.  I also appreciated sharing the experience with friends, feeding off their energy, and supporting them during their runs.  As I said before, I enjoyed calculating potential and actual split times, and the logistics of getting from exchange to exchange didn’t really bother me.

Overall, I’ve decided I actually like Ragnar Relay.  At the time I was half having fun and half complaining about it.  Afterwards, I proclaimed that I’d never do it again, without question.  Through writing this post, I realized that nearly all of my poor attitude and negative thoughts were due to my desire to not ruin my chances at Giant Acorn this weekend.  I would definitely like to do another Ragnar Relay, this time with better scenery (maybe Florida Keys or Napa Valley) and nothing to do the next weekend!

In case you were wondering, our team, Huschka and Friends, finished 19th of 261 teams.  It took us 27 hours and 5 minutes to cover 198 miles.  That translates to a pace of 8:12 per mile.  Without the botched exchange and lost runner, we may have broken 8:00 pace.  Checking out the results, the first team finished in an incredible 20 hours, while a majority of teams finished in over 30 hours.

Van 2 (minus Bryce) at the finish. Not too much worse for wear, considering.

 

Most of Team Huschka and Friends, in the middle of the night Friday