Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Wheel-ly Happened!

Vindication is mine!

This morning I headed in to Athlete's Lounge (AL) to have them check my rear wheel. As I noted in my last blog (Ironman Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Going Flat Out!), I suffered two flats in my rear tube during my half Ironman and these were the 4th and 5th flats I'd had in 2 weeks in this wheel. The last couple of flats I changed, I noticed that the rim tape inside the wheel had folded over and Maddie Oldfield, the Australian pro triathlete who stayed at my house during Rev3 Portland, had been really concerned that this was causing my flats; in fact, she sent me an email about this after reading about my Vineman race on Facebook. Since I hadn't been able to find anything in my tires, I was pretty sure I was having some sort of malfunction with the wheel itself.

Circled area is rim tape bunched up against valve stem
Boy, did I ever have a problem! I hadn't messed with the tire at all after the second flat because I wanted AL to be able to see exactly what was happening. The tech removed my tire and started removing my tube until he reached the valve stem where the rim tape was all wrinkled and bunched up so badly against the valve stem that he couldn't pull the tube out--the valve stem was completely pinched between the tape and the pass hole through the rim! My rim tape was all dry rotted and cracked! He took the wheel to the shop so he could check the tube to confirm this is where they tube failure was and to cut the tube out of the wheel to remove it.

He returned from the shop again saying, "You never would have found this other problem!" The pressure on the tube pulled the nut threaded on the stem to pull through the top hole in the carbon section into the rim. So it was all kinds of screwed up! I'm very glad I made the decision not to take the wheel off and try to change out the tube with the second flat as I probably would've had trouble getting it back together and certainly wouldn't have gotten the old tube out.

Fortunately, none of these things caused any damage to my carbon wheel, which is still less than a year old. Riding the flat did not damage the wheel either and the tire was actually in great shape other than a little split on the sidewall that they superglued together.

To fix the issue, they removed the old rim tape and installed new cloth rim tape, which the tech said he automatically does when he gets new wheels himself as factory tape tends to have these kind of issues. I got a new tube with 60mm long valves so I won't have to use the thread nut on the valve stem in order to get my tire pump to fit on the stem--no more valve nuts for me! I will bring my front wheel in next time to have the rim tape replaced on it, as I didn't bring that with me and it certainly will have the same issue.

The best part of the whole trip was having Gary, the shop owner, say that he would've done the same thing in that situation--ride the flat the last 12 miles. It meant a lot to have someone with Gary's triathlon experience confirm that I made the right decision! And totally worth the razzing I got from him about "someone needs some lessons in changing flats!" when I walked in the door! :o)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ironman Vineman 70.3 Race Report: Going Flat Out!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Revving it Up!

It's T minus 6 days to Vineman 70.3 and I've been revving it up!

Several months ago, The Revolution3 Triathlon contacted me to see if I would be interested in hosting a professional triathlete coming to the area to participate in the 2012 Rev3 Portland. I had offered to do this last year when they contacted the Portland Tri Club for assistance with this, but was unable to host because it was the same weekend as the Seattle to Portland bike ride. This year, however, I was free, AND, was already scheduled for vacation to prepare to head to California for Vineman, so when I got the email, I responded with an enthusiastic YES! Late June, I heard back from Rev3 that I would be hosting a tri pro from Australia, Madeleine "Maddie" Oldfield.

I picked Maddie up from the airport Friday afternoon when she flew in from Boulder, Colorado where she trains while in the US. Maddie, who is 24, is a petite, soft-spoken, and very polite young woman and I was immediately impressed by her. We got her bike at the baggage carousel and headed to Vancouver to get her settled and figure out the game plan of what she needed for the weekend. 

After getting her settled, we headed to Portland to Athletes Lounge for a reception. Athletes Lounge was hosting a meet and greet for Terenzo Bozzone, a five-time 70.3 World Champion from New Zealand, and Meredith Kessler, an American who recently took first place in Ironman New Zealand, St. George, and Coeur de'Alene. Terenzo and Meredith were in town to race Rev3 as well.

While we were there, and really my primary focus, I needed to get new tires for OJ, my road bike. I recently had a long ride, got a flat...changed the tube, forgot to check for embedded objects in my tire before installing and riding on a new tube, and immediately had a second flat a mile later. I realized I'd forgotten to do that about two pedal strokes in and thought, well, maybe it'll be ok...not! Well, I dug out a chunk of glass from the tire when changing the second flat and figured that was it, I even finished the ride without a problem, but the next morning--another flat. I took OJ to work, checked the tire, dunked the inflated tube in water, but could not find anything. I decided the fear of having a slow leak and something sharp in my tire wasn't worth the mental anguish for Vineman and wanted new tires. Maddie even helped me in the decision and I ended up with some great road racing slicks without tread and are super fast! They are what she uses. Maddie examined my old tire while we were driving back to Vancouver later and finally found another hidden chunk of glass...brown, presumably from a broken beer bottle...grr!

We left Athletes Lounge and headed for VooDoo Doughnut, Portland's iconic "keep Portland weird" doughnut shop in OldTown Portland. I'd asked Maddie what she ate before races and she said "donuts!" so, off we went! We wandered down to Waterfront Park snacking on doughnuts and gave her a quick walking tour of downtown and the Willamette River. It was getting late and we needed dinner after our dessert, so we headed to Camas to have dinner on the Columbia River at the floating Puffin Cafe. When we returned home, Maddie assembled her bike, and we called it a night.

Saturday morning we headed out and drove the bike and running courses for the Rev3 Half. The 56 mile bike route is incredible, a complete change from last year, with 2500 feet of climbing! The majority of this route is in Gresham Fire's response area so I was very familiar with the roads and route. We then went to Blue Lake Park so Maddie could pick up her race packet, go to a mandatory pre-race briefing, and have the bike mechanics from Athletes Lounge adjust her gearing. I ran into one of our Deputy Fire Marshals checking out the site for their fire permit, and got to visit with the Rev3 Race Director, who was a very charismatic individual! He told me about some special things that Rev3 does, including:
  • They take your picture at packet pickup and display it on the Jumbotron and announce your name and stats when you cross the finish line
  • Provide childcare at the event so single parents or both parents can race
  • Allow family members to join you crossing the finish line, and will even bring your kids out of the childcare area to you for this. "If you want to carry a baby across the finish line, Cindy, you can totally do that here at Rev3!" He was a hoot! (Note: This is not allowed at Ironman events, apparently.)
We headed home, stopping quickly at the grocery store. Maddie went for a quick run, I made dinner, then I went out to do a 2 hour brick workout. The weather here has finally turned into summer, giving me only a week to do heat workouts to acclimate to hot weather in preparation for California. I was really concerned about how I would do, but my brick went fantastic, starting in 84 degree sunshine for a 1.25 hour bike and ending at 75 degrees with a 45 minute run.

I guess technically I'm old enough to be her mother...
I got Maddie to the park by 0630 Saturday morning. We asked someone to take our picture together and the woman exclaimed, "Oh, how wonderful, a mother-daughter tri duo!" We laughed and corrected that we were a "host-pro duo"! Crazy funny!

I caught up with Portland Tri Club friends and we watched everyone get set up in transition. The pros have their own area in transition, opposite Age Groupers, and each pro's spot is designated with a banner with their picture and race number on it! It was really awesome!

Women pros started in the second wave. There were 18 pro women competing in this event. Here is video of their start:


Maddie looked great coming out of the water, but I was terrified for her because the "Scary Stairs" of Blue Lake that I crashed on practicing running to transitions last year at the Open Water Clinic awaited her! (see Is that Poop or Pudding). The transition route wasn't marked the day before when we scoped it all out. I never dreamed they would have to run up those stairs to transition and had even told her the story of my crash up the steps the day before, and as soon as I saw them I was so worried that my story was going to psych her out heading to transition! She did beautifully though...she's a pro!

Maddie flew out of T1 like a gazelle! I wish I looked that good running WITHOUT a bike!

I stood and watched several more pros running their bikes out to the bike mount area. One woman took a horrible spill right behind Maddie, catching her toe on the edge of the asphalt roadway from the grass, losing her bike and sliding on her shoulder. It was horrible to watch, but she got up, brushed herself off and kept going. A male pro lost one of his shoes that had been clipped onto his pedals about 25 feet from the bike mount area and had to run back for it. These things happen to all of us, not just Age Groupers, and you have to roll with the punches.

I went back and cheered athletes coming into and out of T1, including five Portland Triathlon Club members doing the Olympic and HalfRev events. They looked GREAT!

Then I reported to my volunteer post on the Marine Drive overpass at 223rd Avenue, the Aid Station for 1.4/3.6 mile of the run course. The Portland Tri Club staffed a water station last year as well, and it was such a great experience! We handed out water, Gatorade, ice (very popular), gel, salt tablets, bananas, grapes, and power bars (not a single one taken). We also sprayed Age Groupers with super soaker water guns (we didn't think the pros would appreciate this!). It got super hot during the run, in the upper 80s/90 and everyone, pros included, was getting toasty and needing water to drink and to splash.

Portland Triathlon Club members at Aid Station mile 1.4/3.6 of the run course

This was a great location to be situated at. Athletes in the HalfRev came north on 223rd, under the overpass we were on and headed west down Marine Drive, turned back at 122nd Ave., and down the exit ramp at 223rd to finish the bike course in the park. The OlyRev athletes did a loop on Marine Drive and also exited down the ramp to 223rd, so we got to see everyone finishing their rides. The view off the overpass was spectacular and the perfect place to cheer and cowbell everyone from.

We all watched for Maddie and then we saw her fly beneath us. I tried to run to get a picture of her coming up the on-ramp to Marine Dr., but she was too fast! It was the same when she exited. But I got a picture of her running through the aid station. So exciting!

Maddie finished as the 8th pro woman with a time of 04:48:37.393! She needed to finish in the top 10 in order to earn points toward the 2012 Rev3 Pro Championship Leaderboard--her placement gave her 410 points toward her standings. They haven't updated the Pro Leaderboard yet, but I'm anxious to see if she moves up in the standings with this.

So how do you celebrate an 8th Place Professional Triathlon finish? With ice cream, of course!

Two scoops from Ice Cream Renaissance!
And, with a 12.75 mile bike ride! The highlight of my whole weekend was having Maddie join me for my training ride Sunday evening so she could do a "spin down" after her race. I was on cloud nine the whole time--I'm sure she didn't realize how awesome that was for me!

After our ride and dinner, we sat down and recorded a little interview. She and I had chatted a ton over the past two days but I wanted to capture some of that conversation to share with you all, because it was fascinating to get a glimpse into the life and training of a professional triathlete. I had intended to write the Q&A out on the blog, but we recorded 30 minutes, so I think it's going to be easier and better to share the audio (plus, she has that great Australian accent that doesn't carry over through text!). So the interview starts rather abruptly as it wasn't intended to be a podcast...but, here's my FIRST Trimazing podcast!

I am still trying to figure out how to embed a player in this blog, so please bear with just having a link. I also need to learn how to edit audio files, come up with intro music and introductions! This happened before I was prepared for it, but there's no time like the present to get this going!

Hosting Madeleine was just a joy! I learned so much from her and really, really enjoyed getting to know her personally. She is a class act, humble, sincere, polite. Maddie left me with some really special parting gifts, that really meant a lot and were completely unexpected. 

Orange BlueSeventy Swim Goggles--my signature color! I'm hitting the pool with them tomorrow to see how they fit and if they do, I'm TOTALLY wearing them at Vineman for good luck!

And her Rev3 Medal!!!! Completely blew me away and is something I will treasure always. I asked her to sign the ribbon. It says "To Cindy, Thanks for all your support! <3 Maddie" 

Maddie, you are always welcome back (and not because you gave me the medal!!). I look forward to hosting you again next year if you do, indeed, do Rev3 Portland again and, yes, I will join you in that an Age Grouper! Congratulations on a great race and I look forward to following your progress in the professional circuit.

Now it's off to California for my first half Ironman event...Vineman 70.3! I'm ready!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Triathlete or Swimmer...WHAT?!?

From the cover of this month's Swimmer magazine from USMS

This past weekend I tried a new event...a US Masters Swimming (USMS) Open Water Swim competition. My great friend, Alan, asked me a few months ago if I wanted to go see him swim at the 2012 USMS Open Water National Championships at Foster Lake just outside of Sweet Home, Oregon, and of course I said yes! Alan is an elite masters swimmer, competing and placing at the national level in both pool and open water, including marathon open water swimming. (Click here for a recent article on Alan's accomplishments at the Bay Challenge, an annual 10K marathon swim across English Bay in Vancouver, BC.) I've known Alan for several years but had never seen him swim.

Looking at my training calendar, though, I realized that this weekend would be very important for my Vineman Half Ironman training schedule, and I really couldn't afford to take time off from training so close to my event. I started wondering if I could run or cycle while we were there, and then thought, "Duh, I should swim!" So, I signed up for the 1 mile swim event! So, I am now a card-carrying member of the US Master Swimming organization!

Course map at the lake's edge

I had NO idea what to expect. This swim was a "Cable Swim" and I really didn't even know what that meant. For this swim, they float a quarter-mile long cable across the lake with small buoys every 5 yards. The cable itself is anchored on both ends and marked with large cylindrical buoys. There are floating course marker buoys every 110 yards alongside the course to help you keep track of your distance.

There is a rope strung between two posts in the water that marks the starting line and a touch board between two posts in the water that is the finish line. You start in the water after swimming out from the shore, so no mass shore start.

The course starts on the right at the Starting Rope and goes toward the left along the Floating Cable (Click to enlarge)

The National Championship event is 2 miles, which is four complete laps of the course, and wetsuits are NOT allowed. The 1 mile event, two complete laps, was not a championship event and swimmers could compete as Category I (non-wetsuit) or Category II (wet-suit). Alan signed up for both events as non-wetsuit, and I signed up for the 1 Mile Category II event.

I'm not 117 years old!
We were seeded by 1,500 meter swim time, which we had to provide at registration. I was thrilled that I was even fast enough to make the cut-off time to compete, which was 50 minutes. At the time of registration, I hadn't done a 1,500 meter open water swim, the last open water swim being 750 meters at the Stumptown Sprint Triathlon last September. I'd been swimming 2500 meters in an hour in the pool several times a week, so I knew I could do the swim, but I didn't know how to translate my time to open water. So when I registered, I doubled last year's tri swim time and added a couple minutes as a safety margin, and came up with 42 minutes.The week before the event we got an email with our seeds, wave start times, and starting position...Alan was seeded 9th in the 2 mile swim and 2nd in the 1 mile event; I was 117th out of 120! Gulp! Talk about humble pie...they body mark you with your seed place (I'm used to having my age as my body marking, not my starting position!). I started to wonder what I'd gotten myself into, but by the time of the swim, I'd had several 1+ mile open water swims, including a great 0.9 mile swim at the Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon with a time of 35:57, so I knew I could do it, I just figured I was just going to be very, very slow in an event of swimmers.

It was great to watch the 2 mile Championship swim before my event. These are some incredible athletes! There is something fantastic about being a spectator, and I think it's important for competitors to spend some time spectating events.

Swimmers lined up in their waves according to seed position. There were 12 swimmers per wave. A coin toss determined the direction of the swim, which was clockwise. The fastest person in the wave was given the "pole position" at the cable side and the wave lined up away from them.

The waves then entered the water and swam out to the start rope, lining back up in line by seed number.

Wave 1 lined up, awaiting countdown and airhorn to start.

                         And They're Off!

Battling it out for position. A brutal mass of pounding arms and kicking feet, as brutal as a mass start of a triathlon.

Alan making it back to shore after a great swim. He swam 2 miles in 45:39.02 and came in 12th overall, 9th male, and 2nd in his age group--that's IN THE NATION!

The unfortunate thing for the event was that the water temp had cooled to 66 degrees the last several days and the ambient weather was really cool that morning. About seven swimmers were treated for hypothermia after the event, and several were transported to the hospital for treatment. I was concerned that they might cancel the 1 mile event, and actually expected it, but the sun came out and warmed everyone up. I'd donned my wetsuit early to keep warm and was starting to feel too warm by the time my race started.

There were two people seeded after me for the 1 mile swim...both in their late 60s! We had a lot of fun in our line up! We were there to complete!

I went sleeveless in my swim and I was very comfortable. The water was just 2 degrees colder than Blue Lake for my recent tri. We swam out and lined up. I was 6 away from the cable, which was to my left as this race was going to be in the opposite, counter-clockwise, position from the first event. The horn sounded and we were off, starting from zero momentum. I started swimming an angle toward the cable and quickly came out ahead of my whole wave...whoa! I worried that maybe I was swimming too fast at the start, checked my pace, and determined I was going ok. Cool!

Alan and I talked about race strategy before my event and my plan was to stay one-person-width off of the cable so faster swimmers could stay on the cable and not swim over top of me if they needed to pass. Everyone was talking about how brutal the swim had been, that they'd been hit and kicked and swam over, and while I am used to that in triathlon swimming, it is better to avoid as much of that if you can! So I hit the cable and then moved over to leave a gap. However, I soon came upon the previous wave's swimmers and had to pass on the left against the cable! Everyone was wearing caps with their seed numbers on them so I could see I was swimming in amongst the mid 90s! I moved through much of this wave.

The swim itself was pretty uneventful. After the second turn I settled in with a swimmer from two waves ahead of me and drafted off to the side of her. At one point there were three of us swimming side-by-side and the outside swimmer pushed me into the inside swimmer several times, causing me to strike the inside swimmer pretty hard accidentally with my stroke...she yelled and I apologized and tried to stay away from her as much as possible after that! Yikes!

The last 110 yards I swam hard, working to pass the swimmer two waves up that I'd swam with for most of the race. I knew I was already 40 seconds ahead of her since they started waves 20 seconds apart, but it was great motivation to finish hard. I even remembered to hit the touch board at the finish to stop my timer (something I've never had to do in a swim before--your time doesn't stop until you hit the touch board, even if you swim past it!!). They handed me a popscicle stick with the number 56 on it, indicating that I was the 56th swimmer to finish..56?!? Wow, I've had a great swim!

And a great swim, indeed! I finished with 34:39.62, 54th overall, 6th female, and 2nd in my age group in the Wetsuit Category!

I feel so ready for Vineman 70.3!

What's even better, I totally could've done two more laps...that's nearly the swim for a full Ironman!

Triathletes are Swimmers Too
My first issue of Swimmer, the magazine for US Master Swimming members, arrived two days before the cable swim, and I was intrigued to see Triathletes are Swimmers Too on the cover. One of the main articles of this issue was about how swimmers and triathletes see swimming differently, how they train differently, and some of the controversies that have arisen in some masters swimming teams. It made me a little nervous about showing up for this swim, quite frankly, but gave me some valuable insight about etiquette for a non-triathlon, swimming event. Alan was helpful in calming my nerves about this as well. The important thing was recognizing, which I already do, that my swimming is to completion, generally the first part of an overall competition, whereas most of the people I was swimming with this day are primarily swimmers and have been swimming most of their lives and are there to compete. I have, Adult-Onset Athleticism, a phrase I learned from my running friend, Cindi...this is all new for me, I go to complete, and it's important to not get in the way of those who are there to compete. I'm a guest! I will say, though, that my reception and introduction to US Masters Swimming was so much better than the magazine article gave me an impression that it would be. I felt welcome, I felt invited, no one made me feel unwanted. So, thank you, USMS!

I did love two things from the article, the table showing the differences between swimmers and triathletes:

and this video, Swimmer Guy and Tri Girl

So it's 12 days and counting to Vineman 70.3. Still have lots of exciting things happening, including hosting a professional triathlete from Australia in my home while she's in Portland to compete in the Rev3 Triathlon this weekend! Look for a post next week all about it and my Q&A with her.

Until next time,
Train Safe and
Remember the Joy!