Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kure Beach Double Sprint Results and Reflections

Race #3 completed this morning. I was up at 4:30 to load the car and get some oatmeal and coffee down before leaving. I got to KB just before 6, got my timing chip and marked (they write your bib number on your arms and legs), and headed to the bike transition area for tech support. Tech support was the usual pumping up tires. It's sort of amazing to me that triathletes aren't generally more bike savvy. I'm no genius, but I can pump up a tire. I was on the beach by 7:45 to set up my beach transition area before the 8 am start time. This race is unusual in that there are two transition areas rather than one. The beach TA is used for transitioning from the swim to run, and then back from run to swim at the end of the race. There I place a bucket of water to rinse my feet, my running shoes, and socks. The bike TA just housed my bike and helmet. I didn't get really nervous until right before the race, which went like this:

Swim 1 (375 meters): The water temp is a very comfortable 80 degrees. The wind wasn't bad, and the Frying Pan Shoals buoy predicted 2' at 7 secs, so I planned on decent swim conditions. Despite this, there was a fair amount of chop on the water, and the waves were 2-3'. I still had my best race swim yet though. I was in the second wave, which started at 8:04. My coworker Covi and I stood at the back of the pack to avoid being run over by better athletes. At the buzzer we all ran out into the water and started pushing through until it was about waist deep, which was a bit out. I think there was a little bit of a rip, because before I knew it I was rounding the first buoy. I still sidestroked a lot, but there was more crawling than previously, so that's good. I eventually made it back onto the beach, where I dragged my ass through the soft sand to the TA, dropped my swim cap and goggles in my water bucket to await my return, and put on my running shoes.

Run 1 (1.5 miles): I'm a slow runner, especially after a swim. My legs felt like dead weight. It got better the further along I went. There were lots of nice folks standing on their lawns (the run went through a residential area) cheering us on and spraying hoses into the street for anyone who wanted to cool off. It was a very hot run. Volunteers did a good job distributing water at 3 or 4 points on the run course. Covi and I ran the last half mile or so together. Arrived at bike TA and slapped my helmet on.

Bike (20k or 12 miles): The bike course was almost perfectly flat and smooth and very fast. It ran out and back in 3 mile legs, and so was done twice to get in the full 12 miles. Heading out there was a little headwind, but not bad. Covi and I jockeyed for position. A lot of people passed me. I drank my bottle with electrolyte replacement and snacked on GU Chomps. Overall the bike went pretty well, but there isn't a lot to say about it. I checked my computer when I got home and I averaged 19 mph (its probably a little higher because my ride to and from the TA and any walking around with the bike is included in that average). The bike is still my favorite part. Into the TA, racked the bike and stowed my helmet.

Run 2 (1.5 miles): Out of the TA and back to the water the way we came originally. Not far into this run I had to stop and stretch my legs for a minute, which wasn't good for the rest of my race. Second run was hotter, because the sun climbed higher while I was biking, and there wasn't much breeze in that neighborhood. Finally got back to the beach, stripped the shoes and socks and picked up my cap and goggles, which I put on as I ran up the beach to the swim start (about 250 yards on soft sand, brutal).

Swim 2 (375 meters): I kept telling myself that the last swim would go fine, and mostly it did. It felt sooo good to get in the cool water. Once again I was around the first buoy in no time at all. I sidestroked very little this time, I think because my nerves were settled and I was almost done. Usually the swim is first and I think I get psyched out by the fact that I'm racing and swimming in the ocean. This time I relaxed and just freestyled along at a comfortable pace, breathing every other stroke and checking my heading every now and then. I felt cramps looming in my legs, so I trying not to use them too much. They set in after I rounded the second buoy and turned towards shore. At first it hurt a lot, but it didn't really matter because part of my swim training has been with a float in the pool so that I don't use my legs at all and I use my upper body to pull through the water. But when I got to where I could put my feet down I did so because I was exhausted, which exacerbated the cramps. I bodysurfed in as much as I could, but I had to run up the beach about 20' to the finish line, which was very hard and very painful because my thighs were locked up in a continuous cramp. Still, I managed across and just got out of the way and started rubbing the muscles to relax them. I hobbled over to a water table and sat down and kept massaging my thighs and drinking water until I could walk.

Then I was done. I got my stuff and packed up and drove home.

Swim 1 (375 meters): 11:00
Run 1 (1.5 miles): 15:11
Bike (20k or 12 miles): 36:14
Run 2 (1.5 miles): 16:33
Swim 2 (375 meters): 13:46
Total Time: 1:32:42
Place Overall Men's: 229/289
Place Men 30-34: 32/33
Still not last in my age group! Not the improvement I was hoping for, but that's ok. TRAIN HARDER. This may have been my last tri for this year. We're moving to FL in August. So now I'll go into a long term training mode, and hopefully by the time I pick it back up again I'll have something to show for it. Either way I'm having fun and getting fit.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kure Beach Double Sprint Triathlon

Sunday morning I'll be in my third race, the Kure Beach Double Sprint. Once again, the format is a little unique. It begins with a 375 meter ocean swim, then a 1.5 mile run, a 12 mile bike, another 1.5 mile run, and finishes with a repeat of the swim. It's called a double sprint, but the distances are actually the same, so it's really just a normal sprint with more transitions and wacky order. I've been training with some intensity, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. Right now they're calling for warm weather, light offshore breeze, and small seas, which is good for me. I'll post my thoughts on the race on Sunday afternoon/evening.

Good luck to folks paddling around Bald Head tomorrow. I'd join you if I weren't racing the next day. Cheers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Geezer's Exercise Loop

Today I paddled with the Geezer again. We did his fitness loop, which begins at Wynn Plaza at WB and heads N up Lee's Cut to the ICW to Shinn's and back up Bank's Channel, with the option of going out Masonboro Inlet, which we took. We took a short break at the swimming hole to refuel, put a skirt on, and practice a re-entry or two. Then we fought the current out (incoming mid-tide). At the end of the jetties I decided that it was rough enough for me there without heading out, so I waved Mike on and he did the trip around the sea buoy while I screwed around in the chop at the mouth of the inlet. The wind was pretty stiff from the S, and there's a few feet of swell in the water (boding well for my early morning surf sesh tomorrow), so it was pretty rockin' out there. Mike told me after that he wouldn't have gone out in a decked boat either (he paddled a surf ski). We didn't see any remarkable wildlife (pelicans, terns, gulls, oystercatchers, and great egrets all made appearances), but it was a good trip due to company and the challenging conditions. Paddling twice in as many days; that's pretty good. If I get some quality waves in the morning I'm going to call this week very successful. About 8 miles in ~ 3 hours? Cheers.

Night Mission on the Cape Fear

On a recent evening walk along the riverfront near our house I observed how lovely and smooth the water looked at the end of the day once the wind calmed and the air cooled off. I thought it would be great to do some sunset paddling, especially since the put-in is so close to where I live. I mentioned it to the Geezer and he said that he'd been wanting to do that for a long time and had just never gotten around to it. So we hatched a plan to look for the right night, and last night worked.

I got off work at 6, rode my bike home, and loaded my gear on the car for the 6 block drive to the launch (I know, driving 6 blocks is a little ridiculous, but it's too much to carry that far solo and I don't have a paddle cart). We were on the water a little after 7. Tide was about two hours into falling and the breeze was light out of the S. We paddled against the current about 3 miles up river to an old rice marsh and explored that a bit. The tide was ripping out of there, so the paddle out of the marsh was fun because we were really hauling ass. The grass in there is really high, almost double the height of cordgrass at the beach. At one point there was a loud noise, like something crashing through the marsh right next to us. I thought that a gator would come flying out at me at any second, but it ended up being birds lifting out of the grass. It's amazing how much noise little creatures can make (ever thought there was a bear running through the woods only to discover it was just a squirrel?). As we got out of the marsh and back into the river for the return trip, the last light was just disappearing, and we were soon in complete dark. It was really nice and the lights twinkled and the air was cool. There was almost no boat traffic. When we got back towards town we paddled along the edge of the riverwalk. Wilmington is a pretty town from the water. It was funny to watch people react to us. Due to current we were moving pretty fast, so to them it must have seemed like these two people in boats just appeared from nowhere, silently gliding by, and then disappeared back into gloom.

We got off the water around 9:30. We covered around 8 miles. It was a really good time and I'm looking forward to doing it again soon.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fun Day

Last night Aimee and I decided that today would be a play day. So this morning we got up at 7 and made a pot of coffee and breakfasted on leftover ham and cheese casserole (delicious and made up as we went) before loading the bikes up for a trip to Wrightsville Beach. We were on the road by 8. I called our good friend Barb to see if she wanted to join us, which she did, and we all rode up to the north end of WB where there's limited parking and plenty of space on the beach (a directly proportional relationship). After a couple hours of sunning, swimming, and bodysurfing we were joined by her husband Colin for lunch at my favorite local pizza joint (her treat, thanks Barb). Then we rode home, with a brief stop at the market to wait out an abrupt summer storm. The rain began slowly in big portentous drops before we got there, and afterwards there was a wild fog from all that water evaporating off the still hot pavement.

We rode 26 miles all told, which was Aimee's biggest day yet. Bikes rock. It was fun to ride down, there's absolutely no headache at all to find a place to park, and it's free, both in respect to gas and parking (a whopping $1.50/hour and friggin' stupid).

It was a good day. I spent the rest of it reading and watching surf movies (Sprout, by Thomas Campbell, an old favorite for its art house eccentricity and admirable departure from the surf film norm of the same pros riding the same waves on the same equipment to the same pop punk soundtrack) and eating pork tenderloin braised in milk, bolognese style. Now I'm going to have a rum and ginger soda with fresh mint and beat Aimee in dominoes. Cheers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eagle's Island Solo Circumnavigation

After some hemming and hawing over where to paddle this morning I decided to launch from the closest possible place, which is the foot of Castle St., about 6 blocks away, into the Cape Fear River and paddle around Eagle's Island. I did the trip with the Geezer back in March, so I felt comfortable enough with the distance and the route to go it alone. Tide was high in Wilmington at 12:46. I launched on the incoming at about 10 am and paddled to the S end of the island, against the flow of the river (due to tidal influx). Once I was in the Brunswick River I was able to just float with the current and light S wind all the way to the Cape Fear. The last leg I was going into the wind, which picked up a little, but not bad. I never did see the tide top out and turn around, despite being on the water until almost 1:30. All the crab pots were still pointing N. Go figure.

I saw one smallish alligator; we cautiously regarded each other for about two minutes and then went our separate ways. The birds were pretty good: several osprey, great blue heron, green heron, snowy egret, great egret, one lucky little blue heron, cormorant, gulls, red-winged blackbirds, etc. All very handsome right now. The birds seem a little more vibrantly colorful at present, particularly the little blue heron was a very rich hue and the epaulets on the red-winged blackbirds are striking. I saw one osprey that looked perfectly black and white in all the proper places.

It was interesting to be on the water for almost 4 hours by myself, just observing and thinking about music and books and food and whatever came to mind as I paddled along. Good trip, but better to time it so that you hit the S tip of the island as the tide hits dead low.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Local Sessions

The second image is my article in the new issue of our SE NC surf pub, Local Sessions. See for the full story. It took almost ten years of surfing, but I've finally gotten my photo in a surf mag. Super cool.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Shakespeare on the Green

Aimee and I went last night and it's pretty good. Support your local arts scene (by going to free shows!).