Sunday, November 28, 2010

Suck It Black Friday

The Origin of Black Friday (from Wikipedia):
The day's name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic which would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. Use of the term began by 1966 and began to see broader use outside Philadelphia around 1975. Later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that "Black Friday" indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or "in the black."
My Definition of Black Friday:

On my signal ....
This is the day after Thanksgiving that the public (mainly woman) Unleash Hell on retailers.  The chaos is usually caused because you have just been forced to spend countless hours with extended family members and you are in need of an outlet to vent your frustrations and they are still at your house.  Retailers take advantage of this angst by chumming  the waters with extremely discounted goods and thus cause a somewhat controlled feeding frenzy.  The participating individuals justify awakening at 2am to stand in line at Wal-Mart in freezing temperatures because they can get a flat panel TV for $298.97.   

Sooo ... Jeff why are you talking about Black Friday?  Because I want to tell you about the cool Tri Gear that I got while sitting on my couch searching the interwebz while all the crazies were out fighting each other for parking spots at the local mall.  I actually feel like I beat Black Friday because I still got some smoking deals but did so while watching college football (Hows bout that Bama/Auburn game?), eating cookies, and keeping warm with a blanket! (All the deals are linked if you wanted to take advantage):

Deal #1:
Giro Advantage 2 Aero Helmet (Black & White)
Original Price:  $149.00
Bargain Hunter Price:  $79.99 ($98 w/ S&H and Tax)

I've been looking for an Aero helmet for a long time now and this helmet has been on sale on for a couple of weeks but they did not have my size.  So when I noticed my size was finally available I jumped all over this deal.  And, as a bonus, my father told me a few weeks ago that, "Those pointy helmets look really stupid!"  -- This means even at the age of 35 I am still able to be a little rebellious!  

Deal #2:

Zoot Tri 6 Tri Shorts (Legs not included)
Original Price:  $60
Bargain Hunter Price:  $15.95 (73% Discount)

I already own a pair of these shorts and they are wonderful.  I have been looking for another pair for over a year but the cheapskate in me would not allow them to be purchased at retail price.  On a whim yesterday I checked the site and found this deal. Also found this:

Deal #3:
Zoot Ventilator Cap
Original Price:  $25
Bargain Hunter Price:  $5.95 (76% Discount)

I really have no need for another hat but it was so cheap that I may have been temporarily overcome by the madness that is Black Friday (I feel so guilty).  And the guy in the picture kind of looks like me a little so the hat made it to the checkout cart!

Deal #4:

Brooks T6 Racer
Original Price:  $85
Bargain Hunter Price:  $51 (40% Discount w/Brooks ID)

Okay, I have been running with the Brooks Glycerin 8's and they are good trainers but are slightly clunky for 5k's,10k's, and tempo runs so this little neutral racing flat was just what the run doctor ordered.  I am a big fan of my racing shoes having very minimal support, especially when I am as light as I am right now (154lbs) and these shoes fit the bill.

That was all my wife my pocketbook would allow for on this day of blackness but I also found a couple more deals that may interest some of you guys.

-  Garmin 305 @ Wal-Mart for $99.  This is a smoking deal!  We have two 305's and a 310xt and I am still considering getting a "Back-up" 305 just because this is such a good deal!

-  Reynolds Strike Carbon Clinchers 66mm for $799.  Now these are listed on the Performance Bike website for $999 (original of $1599)  but they were offering a 20% off entire purchase coupon on Friday.  I read on a message board that the 20% coupon would be available on CyberMonday (tomorrow) but this could just be a rumor.  If you are in the market for carbon wheels this might be worth checking out!

That is all I got tonight.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and was able to get in some workouts and I do not mean intervals from the kitchen to the couch!

Thanks for Reading,


Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Trot 5mi Race Report

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Before we get to the RR let's talk about how the day began but first we need a little backstory:

On Wednesday my neighbor Elizabeth and I went grocery shopping since we were all spending Thanksgiving together.  The grocery store was the normal controlled craziness before a holiday that was expected.  Elizabeth is a very good cook and extremely picky about the ingredients that she uses.  So after a careful selection process we picked out a nice 18-LB Turkey.  Since we would be doing Thanksgiving at Elizabeth's house we unloaded most of the groceries there and I was to take the turkey and store it in our fridge because we were going to cook it in our stove and then walk it down to her house.  Easy enough, right?

Fast forward to 5am Thanksgiving morning.  I wake up about a half hour before the alarm and sit straight up in bed as I just remembered something unsettling.  I notice Annie staring at me with a dazed and confused look?  At this point I say to her, "I have made a horrible mistake!" She sits up a little and I proceed to tell her, "I left the Turkey in the trunk of my car!"

Now most of you are probably thinking that this is not that big of a deal.  It is November and the frozen Turkey needed to thaw anyway?.  Well, the temperature was around 80 degrees and we purchased the Turkey thawed.  It is ruined.  And my car is going to smell awful!

At this point I jump out of bed and am in full damage control mode.  Annie informs me that Elizabeth is going to kill me and I should be fearing for my life. She then went back to sleep.  Now I could wait until after the Turkey Trot run and try and find a Turkey but Elizabeth was going to be at our house by 6:30am and if she was, in fact, going to kill me then I needed another solution.

I was in the car by 5:15 and head to the grocery store. Luckily, the ruined turkey in my trunk was double bagged and none of the turkey juice had seeped out - disaster #1 averted!

Normally this grocery store is not opened this early but I rationalized that with it being Thanksgiving that they would be opened early.  AND they were!!!  I hustled to the same aisle we picked up the now rotten Turkey and found an identical one.  It was the last one they had left in this size!  I was back in my kitchen making coffee by 5:35 with the new Turkey awaiting to be roasted in my fridge - disaster #2 averted!

Now time to race!

The Turkey Trot is a 5miler in the Woodlands (which is where IMTX is located) and we ran it last year.  It was around 40 degrees last year and just perfect running conditions.  This year the weather was far from perfect as it was already in the low 80's and extremely humid.  We had a foursome doing the race of Annie, Elizabeth, my buddy Bobby, and me.  The fun thing about this race is that they always have an awesome pre and post race spread.  Bobby and I did some eating and hydrating before the race like good little triathletes! The girls looked on at us like we were idiots for eating this much before we ran (no foreshadowing here - I just like to eat and usually do not have GI issues when I eat before races).

Last year I laid down a time of 36:27 and my goal this year was to come in under 36 minutes.  I was a little concerned this race was going to hurt because of the unseasonable heat and humidity and also because I have run only 8 miles in the last 3 weeks!  Yes, I know, pathetic, but I am healing up for IMTX training and am nursing a sprained ankle - leave me alone!

Elizabeth and I started about 10 yards from the starting line.  This is one of those races that people start at the 5:30/mi pace corral and proceed to run an 11:00/mi pace and jog 5 people across elbow-to-elbow.  This drives me nuts so we said screw it and started at the front and just ran a 5:30 pace until the crowds thinned out.  Elizabeth is fast so she had no problems with this!

The race started and the first two miles went well as I held a 6:34 and 6:33, respectively.   At about the 2.5 mile mark my lungs were beginning to really feel the humidity and lack of run training over the last three weeks.  The mile 3 split was 7:09 and mile 4 was done at a pedestrian 7:38.  I kicked it in with a 7:08 for the final mile and was in an extreme amount of pain with about a half mile to go. I limped across the finish line and my garmin showed the course to be a little long (same as last year) at 5.12 miles and my final time was 35:45.  This was a new PR by 42 seconds and the most pain I have felt on a short run in a long time.

Results: 35:45
AG Ranking (M35-39):  8/140
Overall Ranking:  128/2266

- Elizabeth finished 6/146 in her AG at 38:00 even.  She is a new runner and keeps getting faster and faster.  She'll be running circles around me in no time!

- Annie finished 28/146 in her AG at 44:18.  She was a trooper because she worked a 14 hour shift on her feet getting ready for Black Friday and didn't get home until 10:30pm Wednesday night.  She is much tougher than me because I never would have run this race if I had to work like that!

- Bobby finished 42/140 in his AG at 41:22.  He has dropped a bunch of weight doing P90X and is becoming quite the speedy runner! I believe this was a PR for Booby.

Overall we had a great time and it is always awesome to get up early and be active before you go and stuff your face.

Enjoy your weekend everyone and Thanks for Reading,


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gobble, Gobble

The best thing about Thanksgiving this year is the FOUR days off of work!  I am a walking, talking stress ball right now and cannot wait to not deal with the daily grind.  Wednesday at 5pm cannot come fast enough.

It has been 2.5 weeks since the IronStar 70.3 and I have really been enjoying the time off from a scheduled training plan.  When I am in the middle of a training plan each and everyday is attacked with an almost reckless abandon.  This is how I am wired and really do not want to change.  I like the planned workouts and like seeing the results.  BUT I am learning that when in this "Training Zone" that my body and mind really take quite a beating!

Now that I have had unstructured time it is easier to reflect back on the previous 23 weeks and assess what went right and what went wrong.  Sometimes when in the middle of a training plan it is hard to make productive adjustments due to both the mental and physical fatigue.  This is probably when having a coach would really help.  That is why downtimes are the best times to use what was learned and to apply it to the future plan.

The Stats

Here are my weekly average numbers over the course of the Fitzgerald Level 10 Half Ironman Training Program:

Avg Monthly Swim Yards:  40,013
Avg Monthly Bike Miles:  502.05
Avg Monthly Run Miles:  105.58

I look at these stats and compare them to what my training plan asked for and it is spot on.  One of the reasons to keep the numbers and review them is so you can look back and see if the reason you under performed or over performed could be answered in the logs?

The Review

To look back at my race I gained 11 minutes on my previous 70.3 swim and finished 17th out of 62 in my age group.  When I began this training program one of my concerns was that too much time was being spent in the pool.  Just by typing the results you can see that was a foolish concern.  the funny part is that sighting was extremely difficult the morning of the race due to the fog and I probably could have knocked another couple of minutes off the swim in better conditions.

I gained 22 minutes on the bike from my previous 70.3.  This is not a fair comparison because the previous race was on horrendous road conditions and a screwed up my nutrition.  That being said I finished 13th out of 62 in the AG and felt extremely strong on the bike.  It was really cold and that limited my performance in the beginning as it hurt my lungs and throat to breathe and the head wind over the last 20miles crushed my average pace.  Despite those issues I still felt ready to run when I hit transition.

I gained 34 minutes on the run from the last race.  My rank was 23 out of 62 in my AG.  I had severe cramps in my quads at a half mile into the run.  I estimate the cramps cost me close to 15 minutes overall on the run as I had to sit down on the side of the road to stretch out 3times.  Over the last couple of weeks I have spoke to quite a few veteran Triathletes to help determine why the quads locked up on me?  I did a ton of bricks in training, nutrition wasn't perfect but my electrolyte consumption was okay,  I did not push too hard on the bike as I had done the same route over 12 minutes faster a few times in training, albeit in better conditions?  So what happened?  The consensus seems to be that I ran too damn hard the first half mile off the bike and didn't let my legs get used to the transition.  I went back and reviewed the Garmin data and my first half mile was run at a 6:18 pace.  This is ridiculous to even attempt and I had a major brain fart here.  Of course my quads resisted,  I never practiced at this pace and never gave my legs the chance to adjust and the cool temperatures probably didn't help in letting the quads loosen up?  Extremely boneheaded maneuver.

Moving Forward

Taking what was learned will be applied to the upcoming Ironman training plan that begins on 12/6.  Fortunately for me I will be using the same Fitzgerald Training Program only the Full Ironman one.  I will continue to log the large amount of time in the pool that the plan asked for and try and keep a 5 to 1 ratio of bike to run miles.  The previous plan worked well because I felt great during the entire race.  It is important to notate this so when I look back again next year this will be uploaded to my mind one more time!

What I am going to do differently is practice in shitty weather conditions.  In the past if it was raining , too cold, too hot, or too windy I would take my workouts indoors to the trainer or treadmill.  Moving forward this cannot happen.  My body and mind need to be prepared for any type of conditions that race day may throw at me.  Ironman Texas is on May, 21st.  The previous May 21st recorded a temperature of 95 degrees with pea soup humidity.  A few years before that it was a high of 60 and a low of 42 - this means I need to be ready for it all and training in less than ideal conditions needs to occur more frequently.


So what am I going to do up until the Dec 6th training begins?

Well, on Thursday Annie and I are running in The Woodlands 5 mile Turkey Trot.  I am going to try for a new PR.  Here are my splits and time from last years race:

Mile 1 - 7:25
Mile 2 - 7:14
Mile 3 - 7:17
Mile 4 - 7:17
Mile 5 - 7:08

Total Time - 36:27
Then on Dec 5th Annie and I are running in the La Porte Half Marathon.  It goes over and back of this big ass suspension bridge in La Porte, TX.  It is the inaugural year for the race and I am not sure if I am going to run or race yet.

Here is the Bridge:

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and that no one gets trampled at Wal-Mart on Black Friday morning!

Thanks for Reading,


Monday, November 22, 2010

San Antonio Rock n' Roll Weekend

Annie set a PR by over 6 minutes!  

Even with a freaking TRAIN that halted  runners  5 minutes into the start!  Here is a picture our friend Suzie took with her iPhone as they all stood around an waited:

hmmm ... might be a bit of a SNAFU?

According to her Garmin she lost a little under 2:00 minutes waiting for the stupid train.  The RD sent out an apology and so did the train company.  They said they will be adjusting finishing times.  Annie submitted some online form so her time should end up being even faster!

Annie and her Sherpa Pre-Race - lots of gear hanging from the Sherpa!

Elizabeth, Annie, and Ruth Ann displaying their Bling!  This was Elizabeth first half and Ruth Ann's second.  As you can tell from the smiles they all had a great time and a great race!

Annie in front of The Alamo!

Some Texas Love!

This is the Brooks Running area at the Expo. Do you see the little blue booth on the right?  I stood in that for 8 hours on Friday having people fill out raffle tickets.  My feet felt like I ran in a marathon later that night!  The Brooks folks were a lot of fun and all are enthusiastic about Running and make the sport fun for everyone. 

Overall, we had a great weekend and a ton of fun.  The weather was perfect for running and even more perfect for eating and drinking - which I did my far share of!  This was a tune up race for Annie as she prepares for the Houston Full Marathon on January 31st.  She has been working very hard and logging the miles in the bank and is on track to have an awesome marathon.

Annie and Elizabeth on the "Tomb Raider" ride!

Thanks for Reading,


Saturday, November 20, 2010 Review

Many of you may have noticed the sexy looking Zipp 808 Carbon Wheels that were on my Felt B14 during the IronStar 70.3 two weeks ago:

Dressed up for the Big Day!

Now this carbon wheelset can be found on for around $2300.  I did not purchase these wheels, I rented them!

So where did you rent race wheels from Jeff?  Glad you asked!

This was an extremely hassle free experience and I will walk you though the steps in case you are interested in using this service.

Step #1:  Figure out what race wheels you want?  RaceDayWheels offers Zipp, SRAM, and FFWD options.  You can get anything from a 50mm 404 to a disk in the rear or any other combination.  For IMTX I am planning on using a 1080 Front and Rear Disk (unless the wind says otherwise).  Click Here to see your wheel options.

Step #2:  Submit a Wheel Availability Request (Click Here).  You will need to let them know what date you are racing and what wheel combination you want to run.  I filled out my request while literally watching the Kona live feed.  I was thinking that the RaceDayWheels folks would probably be very busy and would take a few days to respond.  I was wrong because they had responded to my request within a few hours confirming my wheels selection was available.  Excellent service.

Step #3:  Now that the wheels I wanted were available it was time to secure my rental.  This is the point when you fill out the Rental Agreement (Click Here).  The cost to rent the Zipp 808 Wheelset was $150.  I also choose to insure the wheels for an addition $20 and also pay $25 for a return shipping label.  Total cost - $190.

Step #4:  Wait for FedEx to deliver wheels.  I was very surprised when my wheels arrived an entire week earlier than expected.  RDW sent out tracking info so I could follow the movement of the shipment - very nice touch since us Triathletes tend to be rather irritable leading up to race day.  Usually the wheels will arrive on the Tuesday or Wednesday before your race weekend.  This gave me a chance to get in a couple of rides on the wheels.

Step #5:  Race. Set PR.

Step #6:  Return Wheels.  This was rather simple too.  RDW will email you a return label and you will use the same box you received the wheels to ship onto the next athlete.  I shipped my wheels to someone in CA.  I had no problem shipping the wheels onto another customer as opposed to shipping them back to RDW.  My assumption is that this keeps costs down for the end users (me) by eliminating the redundancy of double shipping.  Smart business model.  I just made sure to polish up the wheels so the next person would receive the wheels in as good condition as I did - Karma is real in this sport folks!

Pros VS Cons of

- Solid Brand Selection (Zipp, SRAM, FFWD)
- Ability to mix front and rear combos
- Cost is very reasonable, especially when compared to purchasing wheels
- Fast and personal service

- You have to return the wheels

Overall I was extremely pleased with and would highly recommend them to any of my friends.  The wheels arrived with tires (Continental 4000)  and tubes so all you need to do is inflate.  You will need to use your own cassette so make sure you have a Chain Whip and a Cassette Removal Tool OR if you are mechanically challenged have an appointment scheduled with your LBS to swap the cassette for you.  Another tip is to make sure you take your cassette off before returning.  

Please feel free to email me (jeffirvin AT with any questions.

Thanks for Reading,


(Disclaimer:  This review is entirely my opinion and my opinion alone. I am not affiliated with or any of it's partners in anyway.  I did not receive any compensation for this review and paid for the entire cost of the service myself.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Worst Company in the World

Yes, I am still alive!  Thank you for your concerned emails!

It has been almost NINE days since my last post.  That is a no-post duration record here at the Carrot and an explanation is surely in order right?

Well sit back and relax because it has been almost 9 days since I have vented on my little slice of the interweb and I am in full RANT mode!!! (and yes, I am poking fun at Keith Obermann in the header).

We returned home from San Antonio RnR Marathon on Monday (will tell you all about it later) and we had a box from Comcast (aka: Worst Company in the World or WCITW) on the front porch.  The accompanying letter in the box explained that this was a new modem to replace the outdated modem that was currently being used.  Sweet!  Is what I first thought.  This was very un-Comcast-like because they are by far the least proactive company ever (this is not an exaggeration).

After work that evening I followed the instructions and promptly received an error message that said I needed to contact Comcast Customer Service.  Now this is the Comcast I am familiar with!! Game on!! Oh,  I  like to refer to Comcast Customer Service as: The Precipice to Hell.

Now I proceed to enter The Precipice to Hell of the Worst Company in the World.  As you have probably already keenly sensed, much like Spiderman,  this did not go well.

After 25 minutes of hearing that I should continue to hold because my call is very important I finally get to speak to an actual human being.  We spend another 15 minutes actually verifying that I am in fact Jeff Irvin and not someone trying to impersonate Jeff Irvin.  Seriously, my bank has far less security than Comcast?  Must be a huge ring of cable modem account thieves out there.

So I begin to describe my problem to the young lady on the other line:

Jeff:  "I received a new cable modem from you today, followed the instructions, and an error message popped up on my computer screen saying, I needed to contact you."

Hell's Minion #1:  "Are you by the cable modem right now?"

J:  "Yes, and please tell me you have something more substantial then unplugging it for 10 seconds and then plug it back in?"

HM#1:  "Well, have you already tried that?"

J:  "Yes, many times.  So lets just skip that step and move to the one that is going to allow me to have actual internet service."

HM#1:  "Sir, can you please hold?"

Ok, now I am once again on hold.  Must have really threw them a loop with my advanced cable modem problem solving skills and crazy ability to operate a plug.  At this point she comes back on the line and says she is going to escalate my call to someone else.  I do not argue with her as this seems to be a good idea to me as well.  After another 5 or so minutes I get to talk to Hell's Minion #2 and my mood is becoming even more sour with each passing minute:

HM#2:  "Hello Mr. Irvin, can you please give me your phone number or account number so I can verify your account?"

J:  "No, I have been through that with the last girl.  I know you have the information right in front you because you called me by my last name.  You have already wasted enough of my time now tell me how to make the internet appear on my computer."

HM#2:  "um....sir is your account number ********?"

J:  *Deep Sigh* "Yes"

HM#2:  "Sir, why did you request a new cable modem?"

J:  "I did not request one (my voice is getting louder)! You sent me one because you said my old one was outdated? .... The old one was working fine and as I was waiting on hold I tried to hook the old one up again and it is no longer working either."

HM#2:  "Sir, I am not showing that you have a new cable modem can you read me the Mac number on the back?

J:  "******"

HM#2:  "Please hold sir"

At this point my wife and dogs are able to sense the rage coming from my office.  They all wisely avoid that section of the house.  After about 10 mins on hold HM#2 comes back and says, "Sir, it appears the modem was never commissioned to you and we now need to do that.  It should only take a moment.  Will you please hold?"

J:  "Wait, wait, what the hell does that even mean?  Does that mean you idiots never turned it on?"

HM#2:  "Yes"

J:  "Wonderful, just go do what you need to do."

I'm cutting out a lot of the inane dialog to spare you the painful details and partially because it was all so stupid that I  have tried to strike it from my memory. Now At this point I am a good 1.5 hours into this call and Comcast basically told me that it was not activated before they sent it to me?  I am seething at this point.

HM#2:  "Sir, I am unable to reset the modem and it is not registering here.  All of you light are on so this is highly irregular ..." *I interrupt*

J:  "... Listen, I understand you are doing everything possible and it is clear we have reached your level of expertise.  I do not say this to be mean but rather because it is true.  Now if you tell me that you need to send a technician out to my house I am going to tell you that is unacceptable.  So lets skip all the bullshit and let me talk to the best tech you have in whatever call center you are in ... okay?"

HM#2:  Ummm? Sir, um, please hold."

30 seconds later ....

HM#3:  "Hello Mr. Irvin.  My name is James, lets see if we can figure this out for you?

J:  "James, if you ask me to verify my account information my head might literally explode."

HM#3:  "No sir, we are good let's figure this out."

At the time James seemed very competent.  I was actually wondering out loud to James how such a competent person could work for Comcast?  James did not try to dissuade my line of thinking and I actually  had a glimmer of hope that the World Wide Web was once again going to flowing freely in my home in no time at all!  James was the Ice Man and he was going to solve my problem.  Right up until the point when James said,   "Sir, we really need to send a technician out to your house."

Since this is a PG-13 Blog my reply to James cannot be posted, but by this point you probably know how it went (-:

Three hours, zero results.  Comcast is the Worst Company in the World.

Soooo .... best part of the story.  I take every thing apart again at 7am this morning (3 days later) and the modem miraculously begins to work?  Just starts pumping out the internet?  No rhyme, no reason?

And yes, I did call to cancel the technician.

Suck it Comcast, Suck IT.

To answer some questions before they are asked:

-Comcast is the only option for cable service in my neighborhood.  I'd love Fios or Uverse - we have over 100,000 people who live in my area and yet we cannot receive these awesome services?  I would leave Comcast in a heartbeat if another option was available.

- Yes, I do have a 4G aircard but when I am at home it only receives 3G service.  Which is slow.  I cannot blog at 3G speeds, just ain't happening.  I am dedicated to the Carrot, just not THAT dedicated.

- Yes, I have heard the expression that, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar!" In the case of Comcast it does not matter if you are nice or not.  The only way I am able to communicate with them is through large doses of sarcasm.  If you have ever dealt with those asshats you'd understand.

- If Comcast is the Worst company in the world who is the runner up?  Glad you asked!  Here is my list of the Top 3 Worst Companies in the World:
#1: Comcast
#2: Sprint
#3:  DirecTV

Thanks for Reading,


Ps - that drained me.  I will get to the San Antonio RnR Weekend on Sunday.  Annie did awesome and set a PR in the 1/2 Marathon by over 7 minutes.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Rock N' Roll Weekend in San Antonio

My wife, Annie, is running in the San Antonio Rock n' Roll 1/2 Marathon this weekend.  We are leaving tomorrow and spending most of our time down on the Riverwalk.

I am really enjoying not being on a training plan right now!  I have had pizza for the last four days and it has been glorious!

On Friday I am going to be at the Marathon Expo at the Alamodome working the booth for Brooks Running.  If you are going to be there make sure to come over and say hello.

On Saturday Annie and her running friends are all going to the expo and I am planning on spending the afternoon with beer and wings watching college football.  I will probably be at Mad Dogs Pub which is underneath the Hyatt.  If you want to get a beer send me a direct tweet:  My Twitter

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thanks for Reading,


Monday, November 8, 2010

IronStar 70.3 Race Report

Swim Start 

Little did I know that on the same day I was scheduled to compete in the IronStar Half Ironman Triathlon that myself and 600 other athletes had also signed up to take The Polar Bear Plunge!


As you can probably gather from the intro the theme for the race can be summed up in one word:  BURRRRR!  

Wake up was at 3:30am.  I staggered out of bed and started the coffee and grabbed a bagel and headed to the computer to check Accuweather for the current temperature in Montgomery, TX:  33 Degrees.  OMG! 

Now I live in South East Texas and surely this could not be accurate so I decided to check the temperature the Old School way and walk out the back door!  This little bit of sleuthing confirmed, that in fact, it was freaking cold outside.  At this point all I really wanted to do was jump in a lake and swim 1.2 miles (not really).

My parents, sister, and her 3-yr old Daughter were in town visiting and all staying at my house.  We decided to take two cars to the race so everyone didn't have to be up at the butt-crack of dawn.  So Annie and my mother decided to take the red-eye with me and the others would come up a later.

We got to the race and I ran into my buddies Bobby and Dave.  We were all dressed like we were ready to participate in the Alaskan Iditard instead of a Triathlon.  Transition was pretty funny because none of us fair weather Texans had any idea on how to dress after the swim?  We all sort of walked around and looked at each other.  Still really undecided I just left a bunch of layers of clothes laying on the bike and decided to make the call when I hit T1.

Annie and Jeff
Swim 1.2 Miles:

The swim started on the east side of the resort.  My wave was the 2nd to take off.  Due to the large amount of fog on the lake they started the race 10-15 minutes late.  This was a good call by the race director because you could barely even see the buoys.  The bad part was that we were all standing around FREEZING in 38 degree temperatures.  The water was 30 degrees warmer than the air and was much more comfortable to be in then standing on shore.

I could be at home in my warm bed!

Great pic of the craziness of the swim start.

Once the gun sounded I decided to start off at a sprint to get ahead of the pack.  This worked well as I was up with the lead pack of about 15 or so guys and aside from a couple of kicks to the head I stayed out of the washing machine.  But this is when the swim got fun!  We hit the first turn buoy and made the 45 degree maneuver to the East.  So now we had the sun right in our eyes and the fog was extremely thick at this point.  I actually stopped for a second because I had no idea where the next buoy was and so did about five other guys.  We all sort of looked at each other and just swan forward?  About another 200 yards I noticed the next buoy but I had ventured off course a good 30 or so yards.  No big deal, just angled back and hit the next turn buoy perfectly.  

At this point we were swimming parallel with the resort and I used the shoreline to sight.  I really was feeling great at this point and actually started to catch a lot of guys from the first wave.  The water was a little cooler this far out in the lake and my face and toes were starting to sting some, but this just motivated me to get out of the water sooner.  

We made the final turn and headed for the swim exit.  I was extremely please with my swim:

1.2 Mile Swim Time:  36:14
Age Group Rank:  17/62
Pace per 100 yds:  1:43/100
Time Behind AG Leader:  3m 47s

Check out these great pics Annie got of me coming into the swim finish (green cap, center):

I was telling the teenagers to "Man up" and yank these suckers!

Transition 1:

Normally Transitions would not get a header in a race report but due to the significant amount of time I spent in my two transitions I figured some splanin' was in order.  Well, once my wetsuit came off something happened that I have never experienced in triathlon before:  I was absolutely freezing, like seriously cold!  At this point I decided that I needed some layers, lots and lots of layers.  The problem was that I was soaking wet and the clothes did not want to go over the wet body.  So I toweled and then tried to place the bike jersey over me again - no luck.  More toweling needed.  Finally I got on the jersey and next came the wool socks and the shoes and the head band and the gloves and then I did my taxes, washed the dishes, and made a sandwich.  Finally it was time to roll.

Transiton 1 Time:  7m 17s
Age Group Rank:  49/62
Man points lost for shivering like a wet dog:  MANY

56 Mile Bike:

I have been on this course about a half dozen times over the last few months and have become very familiar with it.  The first 23 miles are though the state forest and not a glint of sunshine will be present at this time of morning.  It is extremely cold on this section and on a cold day it is even worse - today was no exception because it was bad.  Most cyclists were bundled up pretty good but I felt sorry for the ones who were not - you could see the pain in their faces.  I tried to give them some encouragement because it had to be miserable.

I was about 30 minutes in and reached back into my jersey to take the first swig of my EFS Liquid Shots  AND it was not in my jersey pocket?  Seriously, I took a vacation in transition and forgot to grab my gel?  This was going to be fun!  At least I had my Infinit so it really wasn't that bad.

Overall my first 30 miles were uneventful  My plan was to hold a pace around 20.5mph until I got to the 5 mile out and back section.  In all my training rides this section always had wind, never blowing in the same direction.  Today it was a cross wind coming up from the south east.  With my bike big pimping in the rented Zipp 808's I did get blown around some.  A couple of the bigger gusts moved me a little but I got used to it real quick.

After I got back to the main road after the turn around the route begins to head back towards the south east.  Yep, you guessed it - headwind, and a pretty stout one at that!  The last 15 or so miles back were really rough!  It is mostly up hill on the way back and that combined with the wind made it fun.

My average speed with 15 miles to go was 20.5mph.  My finishing average speed was 19.2mph. Glad I pushed the pace early.  Only 8 guys in my AG finished averaging over 20 MPH - the wind and cold beat us all! I was moderately happy during the race with my time but after seeing my AG Ranking I was very pleased.

56 Mile Bike Time: 2:54:44
AG Bike Rank:  13/62
Average Speed:  19.2 MPH

Transition 2:  3:00:06
AG T2 Rank:  32/62

Ok, T2 does not deserve a header.  It was still about 2minutes too long but it did take a little time to get the layers off to go run.  Oh, and my EFS Liquid Shots were laying in the grass in front of my station.  It must have fallen out when I was struggling to get the jersey on over my wet body.

13.1 Mile Run:

Hi, Thanks for your Cheers!

I drifted into transition, racked the bike and started to go.  At this point my legs had a lot of life in them and my plan was to try and hold a 7:30/mi pace for as long as I could.  This plan held for about a 1/2 mile and both of my quads cramped to the point that I could not walk.  I sat down on the curb and rubbed the heck out of both of the quads.  I finally stood up and made it about 200 yards and they locked up again - this was not good.

I finally made it to the 1 mile rest stop and a lovely volunteer helped me pour ice water on my quads.  This really helped and I was able to stumble through the next mile and the quads were starting to loosed.  My Garmin vibrated at the 2 mile point and I looked down to see that I had covered 2 miles in a painfully slow 26 minutes.  At this point the quads were still sore but not to painful to run.  I kept moving forward and was able to keep between an 8-8:30/mi pace for the rest of the run.  

The run itself was a 3-loop course navigating through the resort.  When I say, "navigating" that is to be taken literally.  Seriously, this run course looked like a NYC Subway Map - utter chaos.  We ran through 2 different little neighborhoods, across the deck of the hotel pool, across a gravel parking lot, out and back on the rough surrounding a golf course, and then through a waterfall and up a cliff - ok, I may have made up some of that.  

The "grass" parts of the course were uneven and I saw two different people trip and fall.  I should have worn my trail running shoes instead of my racing flats - but I was moving so damn slow that it didn't really matter.  My ankles and sides of my knees are really sore today because of the trail run portion of the run.

13.1 Mile Run Time:  2:01:48
AG Run Rank :  23/62
Average Pace per mile:  9:18
Time Behind AG Leader:  :48 minutes

Overall Results:

70.3 Finishing Time:  5:43:05
Overall AG Rank:  17/62

 My cheering squad: Front - Erika, Bonnie, Me, Carol (Mom), Ava (legs up), Liz, Elizabeth, and Baby Walt
Back - Rick, Bruce (Dad), Jim

My niece Ava!


This was a real fun and extremely well organized race.  The course lived up to it's billing as one of the more difficult Half Iron Distance courses in Texas and I would highly recommend this race to anyone.  It was also very cool to have my family and friends come out and support me. It is amazing how much some positive words of encouragement can give you that extra boost to keep moving.   And a big thank you to all of the blog readers who were out there cheering - it was very cool to hear, "Go Carrot!" a few times!  Thanks everyone!

My overall performance was about what I expected.  I spent close to 11 minutes in transitions and this was because of the cold - nothing that could be done about that except add it to my overall time (or only race in the summer from now on)!  

I am kind of at a loss as to why my quads cramped like they did?  I have done much longer swims and rides in training and never had quad cramps.  I left my EFS Shots in transition but grabbed extra Gatorade at the handups on the bike to get in extra calories and my intake was right were I had been practicing.  And physically, my body felt great during the run, except for my quads.  I could of held a much faster pace if my quads would have been right.  The only thing that I had never done before was race and/or train in these cold temperatures.  And I saw a large number of other guys on the run course having quad issues as well.  Now this could be normal because this is only my second half ironman, but everyone else seemed to be attributing it to the cold too?  Weird.  I just wish I could pinpoint the problem so it does not happen in the future.

But the part that gets me is that between the quads and lengthy transitions I easily left 20-25 minutes on the course.  My time was good but could have been much better.  Guess I have my motivation for the next race!

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

IronStar 70.3 Goals and Annie's LTF Results

Below is the time goals that I am shooting for on Sunday, November 7th.  I added a little extra time to Transitions because it is supposed to be cold and some drying off and clothing changes may be a possibility.  If it is cold the bike split could be a few minutes slower but the run split would be a few minutes faster:

Swim:  40:00 Minutes - 1:53/100 Yds
T1:  5:00 Minutes
Bike:  2:52:00  -  19.5 MPH Avg
T2:  5:00 Minutes
Run:  1:50:00  -  8:24 min/mi Avg
Goal Time:  5:32


This is a wetsuit legal swim and with all the training in the pool I have been doing I'd like to do the swim faster than 40 minutes.  However, from the race reports I have read the swim is about 200 yards long so I figure a few minutes extra is about right.


This course is a lot of fun and I have ridden it maybe a half dozen times now.  It is also a very hilly course with over 2000ft of climbing. Not many people consider this a PR type of bike course but the cool part is that it is not boring like a lot of the other flat tracks around the area.   The section of the course that is in Montgomery County has some nice concrete roads on which to ride.  However, the roads in Grimes County are all chip sealed.  My estimate is that maybe 20 miles of the course is in Grimes.  The chip seal is not awful but it definitely will slow you down a little.  If the weather stays as forecasted then the last 30 or so miles of the course will be into a headwind.  Hopefully, it is not a strong headwind!


The run course has been changed to 3 loops all contained inside the resort.  This should be a lot of fun because we will get to see our friends and family on each loop to give us a boost.  I plan to redline the run.  A 8:24/mi pace is my goal but if I am still feeling strong a 7:30/mi pace might be where I start and just try to hang on.  I know that I can maintain a 7:30/mi pace or even lower over a 13.1 mile run but this is all going to depend on how smart I am on the bike (ie: pacing, nutrition).


My main goal is to just go out and have fun and finish strong.  With IMTX coming up in May this will be an excellent chance to dial in my nutrition and work on pacing.  It will also be a learning experience as to where my fitness level is in terms to the amount of volume that was done.  If I am feeling good throughout the race then I will know the training volume was good and will be able to adjust accordingly to IMTX training.  Now if I am toast throughout the race then this will also be barometer of my fitness level.  Either way I will learn something.

Be back on Sunday evening for a Race Report!


  • We got the results of the Indoor Tri we did on Sunday.  Annie finished 9 overall out of 25.  She also had the 4th best run split.  She is already talking about doing the LoneStar Sprint Tri in Galveston on April 9th.  And even asked me about wetsuits today!  We all know that once these small thoughts enter your mind that it is all over and the addiction that is triathlon takes over.  
  • The new Nikon SLR camera is working out well.  Annie has learned all the neat features and is ready to put the camera to the test at the IronStar.  That means this blog will probably become a lot more picture focused (insert sarcasm here please
  • ELECTION DAY was quite the spectacle to watch unfold.  The GOP took 65 seats in the House and gained 6 seats in the Senate.  Many of the Governor races ended up swinging to the right as well.  I was happy with a lot of the results.  Pennsylvania really surprised electing both a Republican governor and Senator to take the old Spector seat.  
  • Disappointments:  New York,  Nevada, West Virginia, and California.  Collectively they voted for the likes of Reid, Pelosi, Boxer, Rangle, Manchin, and Jerry Brown.  The common ground these states share are ginormous debt and unemployment. And yet they choose to reelect the same folks who helped get them to this awful place?  Good job - now don't come crying to us to bail you out. 
  • This will be my last post until after IronStar.  Unfortunately no one will be able to stalk me online.  This is a smaller local race and they do not have the capabilities to track us on the course.  I will send out a Tweet and Facebook update after the race.  Here is my TWITTER and FB if you want to follow.  Thanks to all of you for the positive support and comments along the way.  It has all been very much appreciated.
  • Another solid interview from Joel @ TriMadness.  This time he interviewed the Rev3 Race Director.  CLICK HERE to check this one out.
  • Good luck to Bob (@OneHourIronMan) who is racing Ironman Florida on Saturday.  If you want to follow his prograss at Ironman Live his full name is Robert Shuler.
Thanks for Reading,


Monday, November 1, 2010

Annie's First Triathlon and Taper Time

Yesterday my wife, Annie, and I participated in the LifeTime Fitness Indoor Triathlon.   This was Annie's very first Tri!  Not only did she do awesome but she had a great time!  I am very proud of her because she kicked some ass with a respectable swim, solid bike, and an excellent run.  When we were driving home she said she would like to do that Tri thing again -- we have hooked another one folks!

The way the LTF Tri works is like this:  10 minutes swim, 10 minute transition, 30 minute bike, 5 minute transition, and then 20 minute run.  You basically go as hard as you can in the given time and the distance you go is your score for that leg.  For example:  If 30 people participate in the swim and you swim the most lengths you receive 30 pts.  If you swim the slowest you receive 1 pt.  Then all the points are added together for your total - highest point total is the winner.

We do not have the results yet but we think we both did pretty good.  The results should be posted by Wednesday and I will post them up.  A big thank you to Coach Kt White for organizing the event, it went off without a hitch!

  • We just got a new camera.  Annie has been talking about getting an SLR camera so we can get better pictures at our races.  According to her the point and shoot new camera that she needed last month is only good for posed type of pictures.  We got the new carbon race wheels Nikon D3000 with a Tripod and some 200x Lens.
Taking a picture of Annie taking a picture
Annie's New Toy
  • I did a long rather slow ride of the IronStar course on Saturday - it was 42 degrees when we started and it was freezing!!! Might have to bring arm warmers and gloves for the race on Sunday.  This dude does not do well in the cold ...buurrrr!!! 
  • Taper Time has Officially begun!
  • Sunday was the LTF Tri.  I took it easy on the swim - 23 lengths in 10min (1:44/100 avg).  Didn't kill myself on the bike but held a steady pace  - 15mi in 30mins (30mph avg -- yeah for spin bikes!).  Then ran a little harder than I should have on the run - 3.14mi in 20mins (6:20/ mi pace).
  • The 5K time was 19:43.  This is the first time I have gone sub-20 for a 5K.  Well, I have only really raced one 5K hard and did a 20:48 and that was in February and I am in much better shape now. The next goal will be sub-19 because I think that is possible. My first mile was at a 7:00/mi pace yesterday which is why I am pretty confident I could go harder.  I held a 5:56 for the last mile.  This little test will probably have to wait until after IMTX!
  • Here is my little girl pug, Bailey.  I just stood up and she took me seat:
Move your feet, lose your seat!
  • They just filmed the CompuTrainer video on Sunday for the Ironman Texas bike course.  Here is a really cool write up by the dude who did the filming:   Click Here - he gives a warning to all non-Texans about the possibility of melting?  Pretty sure we are going to melt too buddy - we live in Air Conditioning like 11 months out of the year.  My A/C just kicked on like 30 seconds ago (-:
  • My Dad, Mom, Sister and Niece (3yr old Ava) are all flying in from Pittsburgh to visit this weekend to cheer me on for the IronStar 70.3 on Sunday.  Annie and I haven't seen them since Ava's birthday in May and we are really looking forward to the visit.  I really miss my family and wish we didn't live 1800 miles apart sometimes!
  • I will be back on Wed or Thurs to post my game plan and goals for the IronStar.  I am a little beat up right now: sore right knee, sore right hamstring, and sore left ankle - but hopefully the next few days of short, intense workouts will be just the cure to heal me right up.
  • The New Bike officially has a name!  A big Thanks goes out to Kevin @ IronmanByThirty for saying, "your bike looks like a Zebra!" in my last post.  Ever since I have read that, "The Zebra" has stuck.  So when you hear me reference "The Zebra" it is my Felt B14 TT Bike and not an NFL Referee!

Thanks for Reading,