HIBERNATION

Hibernation!  As of Jan 2016, this (mostly) triathlon blog is now officially in hibernation.   While I hope to stay in shape and compete in smaller triathlons for the next few years, there will be no Ironman efforts, and I doubt I’ll have much to share that anyone will be interested in.

I have a new blog about wildlife photography around our new house on the Mississippi River in Brainerd, Minnesota.  You’re invited to visit that:

https://mississippirivercam.wordpress.com/

 

HEART OF THE LAKES TRIATHLON 2015

The Heart of the Lakes Tri in Annandale is among my favorite races.  Well run, nice lake, lovely town, always well supported and attended.  Great day for racing today.  Sunny and mild.  HOLTRI is two races – Long course and Short course.  Long course for me today as usual – half mile swim, 21 mile bike, 5.3 mile run (this makes it shorter than an Olympic distance tri, so it is technically a “sprint tri” and not that long by most standards).  Cindy could not make this one, so I self-sherpa’ed.  Lots of comrades there: Pete Hagen, Jordan Roby, Deb and Christina Roberts, Steve Sander, and fellow AGers Jeff Gilmer, Tony Schiller, and Dale Forde.  Coach Derek and Mary Deeg also showed up to cheer.  Tony is truly a world-class triathlete, and age 58, he races Elite rather than AG – leaving AG awards to us mortals.  Classy guy.  As for Jeff, he is a very close friend – we often train together – and would no doubt be tough competition, but he’s nursing a knee injury that has slowed him some on the run, so I know he’s not at his best.

Also, doing the short distance race, were two heroes of mine – Frank Farrar and Bob Powers.  Frank is 86 and Bob is 91.  Hope to snatch some pics of them from the race website to post here later.

PRE-RACE

Before the swim, I learned that Jordan had been in a bike accident in pre-race warmups.  Collided with another biker that did not pay attention at an intersection.  Went head over bars, and hurt his shoulder.  Ohhh maaan!  He would not be racing.

SWIM

First wave was elites, 2nd was relay.  I was 3rd wave with the other young-at-heart folks (55+ maybe?).  Still, that was a nice change…often we’re the last wave, which can make for a large crowd ahead to push through.  One thing I learned about the swim today – the buoys are attached to concrete anchors that are permanent on the lake bottom.  So while I often say that swim distances are inconsistent because of buoy placement, that is not the case here – except that maybe high/low water levels can move the start line (always the water’s edge) up or back.  I had a good swim, first out of the water for the wave.  Jeff and Dale came out just over a minute back. (By the way, if those “permanent” concrete anchors somehow get moved further out so that the swim is mysteriously longer, it wasn’t me.)

T1

Long run to the bike rack, and I gained a few more seconds over Jeff and Dale.

BIKE

Steady and uneventful really. T2 Was racking Madison (my bike) when Jeff, who was racked right next to me, pulled in…meaning he gained about a minute on me on the swim.  Derek, Jordan and Mary were right there, enjoying the show.  “Two great friends there,” Mary said aloud to others in the vicinity.  Very true.  I got out of T2 maybe 15 secs ahead of Jeff.  Nice bike ride Jeff!

RUN

Here we go again.  Running scared.  I also knew that Dale was back there (how far?) and he is a great runner.  Jeff caught me at about mile 2, and I then followed him closely for a bit.  At about mile 3 I re-passed him.  His knee was hurting.  “Jeff, I know you’re not at your best now, and remember, it’s September [Ironman Wisconsin] that counts.”  Another mile later, I heard more footsteps behind me.  Jeff again?  No, Jeff has a faster cadence…it’s someone else.  Dale!  “Dale Forde,” I said.  “Your worst nightmare” he said as he passed me.  (Not really Dale, but I confess to not being happy to see you!)  Dale finished ahead of me by 24 secs and Jeff came in just over a minute behind me. |

Swim    T1      Bike     T2       Run       Total

1 Dale Forde       57     14:03   1:35    55:12   1:00    34:55    01:47:17

2 Scott Ransom  55     12:42   1:26    53:38   0:30    39:07    01:47:58

3 Jeff Gilmer       56     14:03   1:35    52:13   0:40    39:58    01:49:06

Full results here.

POST RACE

With so many friends at this race, the post race banter was a blast.  Jordan was still there, with a very swollen shoulder, wearing a makeshift sling…and also wearing, as always, that bright smile of his.  He’ll get x-rays tomorrow and we all hope it’s not serious.  Christina pulled out a great race and won the overall women’s race.  Jeff iced his knee and said it was feeling better.  (Hope it get’s totally better soon Jeff!)  Relayed my hearty respects to Frank and Bob and told them I’d see them next year.  Jerry McNeil (announcer and MN Tri news guy) stopped by as I was talking with Steve and overheard, with some interest, that I had a blog.  Maybe he’ll check this out – then I’ll know this little blog has hit the big time.

HOLTR-scott-jeff

Scott and Jeff post-race.  Picture by Mary Deeg.

IRONMAN COEUR D’ALENE 2015 RACE REPORT

PRE-RACE
We had known for a week that it was going to be hot. Very hot. Forecast varied between 103 and 107. Lots of talk about shortening the race, but in the end, to the surprise of many, and to WTC’s credit, it was a full IM.

Hydrate hydrate hydrate.  (Always before an IM, regardless of forecast!)  Up many times overnight to pee.

RACE MORNING
Race start for amateurs was to be 5:45.  Got up at 3am and started eating. Two hard-boiled eggs, yogurt w/ granola, banana, English muffin w/ butter. Got to the transition area at 4am just as they opened. Prep, then the usual fret, worry, pace while sipping on a bottle of sports drink.
• Good – everything
• Bad – nothing

SWIM
Rolling start. Self-seeded. I was near the front, maybe 4 rows back. Start was crowded and slow and full of banging. The first 400 yds was as crowded as any of the 3 mass-start IM swims I’ve done. It finally opened up, and was a fine swim. Two laps, crossing a mat at the beach in the middle.

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Midway…starting the 2nd lap

My three fresh water IM swims have all been 59 minutes and change. The surprise this time was that I did it with far less swim training. I rarely did more than 4000 yds a week, and did not have a swim partner to train with (miss you Pete!). Maybe my new long sleeve wetsuit (as opposed to the earlier short sleeve) made up for the minute I would have lost otherwise. But it does reinforce that shifting my training time/effort from swim to bike/run was smart.  Time – 59:15. AG place – 4th.

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Done. Headed to transition

• Good – everything
• Bad – nothing

T1
I tripped in the sand after hitting the beach. Only a few secs time lost, but my hands got all sandy and getting them cleaned up took some time. Put on socks and rolled on my arm coolers. At the sunscreen station I was asked where I wanted it. Face and neck please. (wish they had asked about legs ‘cuz I woulda agreed to that.)  Then off to the bike.
• Good – most everything
• Bad – A bit slow. And, forgot to get sunscreen on the legs.

BIKE
I wore my new T1 Stealth jersey. White and sleeved. Designed to be worn over another top on the bike only, but I wore it over bare skin on both swim and bike.  Added white arm coolers for the bike. Nutrition plan was:
• 1 Gu per hour (100 calories)
• 1 24 oz Gatorade bottle per hour (150 calories)
• 1 24 oz water bottle per hour
• 9 salt tabs over the duration
Aid stations were every 10-15 miles, so they didn’t line up perfectly with my hourly plan, but I think I stayed on track. I have two bottle holders on my bike…usually one for water and the other for Gatorade. At each aid station I would:
• Finish either the water or Gatorade bottle (alternating water/Gatorade at each station, though I exchanged both at one station)
• Toss the empty bottle
• Pick up a new bottle of whatever I just tossed
Officially, IM Wisconsin is hillier than IMCdA – with more total elevation climbed, but I’d say that IMCdA is tougher. Wisconsin’s hills are more frequent and shorter, and often you can take some momentum into them and get well up the slope before feeling the real effect of the hill. IMCdA has fewer, longer hills…you’re grinding up some of them for a looong time.
Heat started to take effect on the 2nd lap. Just constant hot…no shade anywhere. Made the hills even tougher. One oddity on this ride I’d never experienced: the soles of my feet started hurting/burning late in the ride…not from friction or pressure, but from the radiated heat from the asphalt heating the black carbon soles of my bike shoes. Ouch – but just gotta bear it.  As mentioned, I forgot to have sunscreen applied to my legs…80 miles in I felt the burning. Stopped at an aid station to have sunscreen applied.

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Total bike time was 5:44 for an avg speed of 19.48. Not bad considering the conditions.  6th in AG for bike alone…left me in 5th at this point getting off the bike.

• Good – Given the heat and hills, bike speed/effort was fine
• Bad – Didn’t pee on the bike.  Surprising given that I hydrated well.  Was I sweating it out instead?  Also, had I saved enough for the run?  (always a big question for me).

T2
• Good – not much
• Bad – Pretty slow. Kept shoes on (not thinking) as I dismounted the bike and that made for slow running to the tent. Full garb change was also slow.

RUN
I had decided to outfit myself differently for this run in prep for the highest heat of the day.
• White sun hat – good decision
• Loose fitting, sleeved, white sun shirt – bad decision. Tight fitting would have been better. Heck, I was so often watered down that it was against my skin anyway.
• Gel “kool tie.” This gizmo is worn around the neck. It swells up when wet then the evaporation cools you – bad decision. Effect was minimal and I wore this heavy thing on my neck the whole way.  Shoulda tossed it when I realized it was no help.
• Loose, short, running shorts – a wash. Perhaps better for running but did take time to put on in T2. Also, the shortness exposed my milky white thighs against my otherwise tanned skin.
• Arm coolers – great decision. In the past I’ve taken these off for the run, but left them on this time

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Here started the real challenge. I don’t run well and the conditions (maxed at 105 degrees F) were not going to help. I started at a modest pace and planned to walk the aid stations and hills. At the aid station, I took in water, ice, cola, potato chips, some Gatorade. Also took in about 9 salt tabs over the duration.  I put ice into my hat and under my arm coolers so that the ice was pressed against my forearms.  Some GI issues on the last half of the run.  Gas bubbles causing gut pain.  Two porta potty stops.  Ugh.

Nearing the finish line, I looked back and saw some dude gaining on me.  I started pushing harder.  Looked back again and he was still gaining.  Rats!  Pushed harder.  Still gaining!  Damn!!  Why is he doing this to me?  Pushed harder.  I did stay ahead of him, but the near-sprint finish caused me some dry-heaving after crossing the finish line – as can be seen in the below pic.

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And I found out the dude was only 28.  @ssh0le.

Total run time was 4:42 for an avg min/mile pace of 10:47. Ugh.  7th for the AG in the run, leaving me with a total time of 11:39 and 5th place at the end.  (The pic shows 11:54 – still on “pro time” for the pros that started 15 minutes before the amateurs.)
• Good – Well, in the end I ran more than I walked.
• Bad – Will I ever be a good runner?

POST MORTEM
Given the heat, my 11:39 finish is about what I would have expected, and I am pleased with it. But I gotta say I am surprised that four other dudes in my AG beat me. 5 years ago I won my AG at IM Wisconsin with a 10:39. I think I was equally prepared for IMCdA, and, with the tougher course, the heat, and losing a bit of speed/endurance that comes naturally with age, the 11:39 was probably an equivalent effort. But it resulted in “only” 5th place. This reinforces what I had always thought – I got lucky with the competition I faced at IMW10. And maybe I was a little unlucky with the competition in this race. But if that’s really the case, I’ll take it.

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My admiration and gratitude to the volunteers, spectators, and people of Coeur d’Alene.  They made the race doable.  And especially friends Jeff, Mary and Paul and daughter Michelle for making the trip there to spectate and support.  And especially especially to head cheerleader and sherpa Cindy.

They took two KQs from from my AG, so no Kona for me this year. Well, I got over that pretty quickly.  I’ll focus on shorter races for the next year or two.

BUFFALO TRIATHLON RACE REPORT

First race of the season yesterday.  (Well…first triathlon of the season…I’ve done a few running races already.)  Buffalo tri is a pretty well-run, well-attended event around here.  I did the Olympic distance.  So here’s how it went.

PRE-RACE.  Got there early and promptly racked my bike in a good spot…in the wrong area.  Maybe I missed a sign or something, but I was in the Sprint distance transition area rather than the Olympic.  Someone noticed that I was marked with a wave number that was for the Oly, and set me straight.  So I sheepishly moved to the proper area and got a not-quite-as-good spot.  Oh well.  Shortly after that, David Goldberg set up right next to me.  David is a fine triathlete in my AG.  Over many years we have dogfought many races.  I’m always pleased to have good competition to keep me motivated.

SWIM.  First chance to race in my new-to-me longsleeve wetsuit.  It was great.  Oldsters like me started in the last Oly wave, so plenty of folks to swim through/around/over.  But I did, and had a fine swim.  First out of the water for the wave, with David about 10 secs behind.

BIKE.  Had a really good ride.  The long indoor rides at Jeff & Mary’s place every Sunday through the winter, plus the many outdoor rides this Spring really paid off.  Some of the course was bumpy and hilly, but the latter part was flat, smooth, fast, and with-the-wind…so really flew there.  My avg speed was 24.0 mph,  David came in  just under 2 mins behind me – though I didn’t know that at the time.

RUN.  Off we go for my weakest of the three disciplines.  David is generally a better runner than me.  How fast is he this year?  Heck, how fast am I?  Did I spend too much on the bike?  Why do I always feel like I have a target on my back during the run?  Hunted.  I’ve been caught on the run more times than I care to think about.  Running scared.

Within about a mile I am overtaken by 60 year old Greg Taylor.  Greg is the #1 grandmaster triathlete in the world.  The WORLD.  So I guess I’m okay with him passing me.  In looking back on the splits, I can be proud that at least I swam and biked a little faster than him.  But geez can he run!

The run course is an out-and-back.  I’m trying to keep 7:25 pace.  Falling off a bit, especially on the hills.  At the turnaround I run back towards those following me, so there is the chance to see who’s where.  After about a minute I see David…so he’s about two minutes back.  But how much has he gained already, and how much more can he gain?  Plus, there are others in my AG out there…including youngsters that are 50-51 that I don’t even know…where are they?  Just keep running.

I do manage to stay ahead of David, and finish fine, and well spent (as it should be).  My run pace was 7:28, and, in the end, it’s an AG win.

Bib Name Sex Age City State Overall SexPl DivPl Time
656 Scott Ransom M 54 Golden Valley MN 24 / 266 22 / 191 1 / 17 2:13:35
265 David Goldberg M 54 Minnetrista MN 28 / 266 24 / 191 2 / 17 2:16:02

I have enormous respect and appreciation for the gents in my AG that have provided both competition and comradery over the years.   David Goldberg, Jeff Gilmer, Charlie Roach, Brian Holthus, Andy Clark, Brad Johnson, Thomas Krenz, Dale Forde, Kirk Vesterstein.  Not everyone is at the top of their game every year…including me…but we keep each other motivated and sharp.  Always great to see you at the races.  Thanks guys.

FEBRUARY FTP TEST

My third FTP test in five months today.  Continuing with my promise to incent myself by publishing the results, whatever they may be….here’s how it went:

  • Conditions:                                        Indoors, mild
  • Physical Condition:                            2nd low intensity week, but not exactly feeling fresh and springy
  • Mental Attitude:                                 Why do I do this to myself?  -and-  I really hate my coach!  -and-  PK, watch out!!
  • Accompaniment:                               Large box fan; Spinerval DVD with coach Troy Jacobson yelling at me.
  • Av Power over 20 mins:                    264 watts
  • Av Heart Rate over 20 mins:             145 bpm
  • Av Cadence:                                      83 rpm
  • Post-Ride Recovery/Hydration:         Protein shake, Pringles potato chips (sour cream and onion) and a brandy coke

The bottom-line number in there is 264 watts.  Since this was a 20-minute test, multiply that by .95 to get FTP (which is defined as what you can do for an hour if you all-but-kill-yourself-from-effort) = 250 watts

So —  250 watts.  Up from 233 in Oct and 244 in December.  Nice trend.  But still down from where I was a few years ago (when I was a young, tough 50/51 yr old).

DECEMBER FTP TEST

Another FTP test today.  Continuing with my promise to incent myself by publishing the results, whatever they may be….here’s how it went:

  • Conditions:                                        Indoors, mild
  • Physical Condition:                            Fine
  • Mental Attitude:                                 Let’s do this!
  • Accompaniment:                               Large box fan; Yes playing STARSHIP TROOPERS live from the Yes Symphonic DVD (replayed the same song when it ended too soon)
  • Av Power over 20 mins:                    257 watts
  • Av Heart Rate over 20 mins:             144 bpm
  • Av Cadence:                                      84 rpm
  • Post-Ride Recovery/Hydration:         Ginger Cat cookies and a brandy coke

The bottom-line number in there is 257 watts.  Since this was a 20-minute test, multiply that by .95 to get FTP (which is defined as what you can do for an hour if you all-but-kill-yourself-from-effort) = 244 watts

So —  244 watts.  Higher than the 233 watts from my last power test in October (see here).  That’s good.  But now all future bike workouts will be based on that new number…so it means I just made things harder going forward.  Ugh.  Maybe I’ll just tell my coach I did a 230.

 

 

 

OCTOBER FTP TEST

My sadistic coach will be forcing me to do 20-minute Functional Threshold Power (FTP) tests on the bike periodically throughout the long Minnesota winter.  These tests, using a power meter (I have an old PowerTap meter on my bike) are used to baseline your power output, determine efforts for other workouts, measure improvement, and make you miserable for 20 minutes and worthless for the rest of the day.  They are very “mental” in that you have to really be up for it.  And oh yeah, I’ll be doing them indoors on the trainer – which is not nearly as motivating as being on the road or with others.  So to incent myself to perform, I have decided to share the results, whatever they may be.  Here’s how it went today:

  • Conditions:                                        Indoors, mild
  • Physical Condition:                            Fine
  • Mental Attitude:                                 Oh Gawd, do I really have to do this?
  • Accompaniment:                               Open windows; large box fan; Yes playing RITUAL live from the Yes Symphonic DVD
  • During-Ride Fueling/Hydration:         Nothing
  • Av Power over 20 mins:                    246 watts
  • Av Heart Rate over 20 mins:             143 bpm
  • Av Cadence:                                      87 rpm
  • Post-Ride Recovery/Hydration:         Granola bar and a brandy coke

So the bottom-line number in there is 246 watts.  Since this was a 20-minute test, multiply that by .95 to get FTP (which is defined as what you can do for an hour if you all-but-kill-yourself-from-effort) = 233 watts

So there it is —  233 watts.  Almost four average-power light bulbs.  Woo.  Hoo.

By the way, that 233 number is:

  • Lower than what I’ve done on the road in races this year.
  • Lower than what I’ve done on the trainer in previous years.
  • Always lower than what I “really” do.  I estimate that my Power Meter, being old, reads about 100 watts too low (wink).
  • Gonna go higher.

2014 SUMMARY

This has been a “gear up” year for me after two years off.  Here are the highlights:

  • Signed up with a coach – Derek Lindstrom of Beyond Performance.  Some other friends use him and he is especially good at run coaching – which is my biggest need.
  • Got a bike fitting from Chris Balser, the Bike Fit Guru.  Sure, I had a fitting done years ago, but I’ve changed with age, and so it was time for another one. A great investment.
  • Got a running gait analysis from Wendi Morin at Gear West.  Great help leading me to ditch my old orthotics, add a heel lift under my right foot, and select the best shoes for me.
  • Signed up for Ironman Coeur d’Alene (IMCdA) next year.  This race is in Idaho on 28 June.  I picked it for many reasons including the destination – it’s a beautiful area and we’ve never been there.  Cindy and I will be taking 2 weeks off to get there (driving), settle in, sight see, acclimate to the altitude (2188 ft vs 830ft in Mpls), race, and return.
  • Have trained consistently…especially at running.
  • Got a few new “toys” to make me faster.  New Speedplay Zero pedals (the old ones were pretty worn).  A used-but-great-condition Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit that I got at a great price.  My old one is sleeveless and this full-sleeve one will be both faster and warmer in the cool waters at IMCdA.  And a new Rudy Project Wing57 aero helmet that I managed to get at a great price through secret-but-legal means.
  • Raced the Manitou Triathlon – a small sprint tri.  Won my AG (though a small field).  Race results here.
  • Raced the Heart of the Lakes Triathlon.  I have raced this race many times in past years, and it was nice to return to it.  Not as many participants as past years because triathletes have more races to choose from, but still a great event.  I placed 2nd in my AG.  Race results here.
  • Raced the Graniteman 10k.  Yup, that’s a foot race, not a triathlon.  A pretty small race (competitor-wise) but well run, a nice course, and a great day for it.  Won my AG and 4th overall.  More importantly, it was a great benchmark race for me.  I did a 44:12 for a 7:07 per mile pace.  That’s pretty good for me.  Results here.
  • Raced a little local bike time trial event four different times.  It’s a 12.8 mile loop.  Same moderately-hilly course each time.  I did it in 33:16, 33:13, 32:08, and 32:36.  That’s a range from 23.1 to 23.9 mph.  Looking forward to doing more of that series next year and seeing faster speeds.
  • Spectated at Ironman Wisconsin.  Went to watch friend and training partner Jeff Gilmer compete.  Unfortunately, after great swim and bike legs, on the run, a recent Achilles Tendon injury returned and he was forced to drop from the race.  I was there at mile three as he stopped, in severe pain, and discussed the situation with Coach Derek.  It was heartbreaking, but he made the right decision to stop racing at that point.
  • Developed my own Achilles Tendon injury.  This came at a particularly bad time as the Twin Cities Marathon neared.  I laid off running and tried to let it heal.  Improvement, but not enough and I made the decision not to race.  Jeff’s IMW experience was a factor in the decision – even if near-fully healed, re-injury is possible.  TCM was never an “A race” for me – it’s mostly a step on the way to IMCdA next year.  So the decision to skip it was easy.  That race is tomorrow, and I will be spectating.
  • In another week or two I should be okay to get back into running.  Biking and swimming training have not stopped, but I’m eager to get back (slowly) to running to continue the improvement I’ve seen in that discipline.
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