The second Tri is a charm…..

The second Tri is a charm…..

Hey.. its Monday and my creative juices are not exactly flowing… Madison, our 8month old, has decided that the wee hours of the morning (2am, 5am, etc..) are perfect hours to wake up and play.. which equals a very tired momma…

So this past weekend was Eric’s second Olympic distance triathlon… We had a great time in Carmel and he put up GREAT numbers… and beat his goal time by 15mins… that being said… this was his next chance and he had even more aggressive goals for himself (what’s new..LOL)… of course, starting with the swim.  He was hoping for faster numbers as he wouldn’t be dealing with the Kelp but this is the one area that causes panic for him…. But he would be dealing with a 1/4mile run to T1.

I decided that on Saturday night… that the night before a race is like Christmas Eve… You prep, you plan and you execute – and if you live in our house… you get anxious… just like Christmas!….Of course… we do this to ourselves… but you can feel the anxiety in the air… I think this stems from Eric’s goals and the pressure that he puts on himself.. he wants to excel.. not just do.. and I think it’s hard for him to remember that he just started in this sport.. and that he has to master 3 very different disciplines AND put them all together.. and while he would like to have top 3 finishes in EVERYTHING that he does.. it takes practice to get to those podiums… and while I HAVE NO DOUBT that he can… he has to start with the DOING before he can move to the WINNING… and again… this time last year… he was still smoking 2 packs a day and weighed 60lbs heavier… so the fact that he is finishing in the tops of his age groups is remarkable (and he has really only been swimming for less than 6 months.. same with cycling)… but because of his goals and the pressure he puts on himself… the anxiety is high.. this is a NEW THING for all of us… so we, as a family, all work to support him and the anxiety becomes part of the deal… not to mention.. we have kids.. LOL

For this race – we decided to plan the meals for Saturday in advance… So Saturday was Pancakes with Peanut Butter (and Syrup for Mackenzie) and Egg whites … We took the girls to their swim class and then to packet pick-up.. We walked the transition route and looked around to assess parking… even though we live in Santa Cruz, we still scouted.. and even considered getting a hotel close by to make parking easier – we can be slightly over the top sometimes… luckily for us.. most hotels were sold out and the one that wasn’t was charging WAY TOO MUCH for a room…. So common sense took over and saved us from ourselves… We ended up back at home to relax and prep.

Eric’s training called for an easy spin and while he contemplated not doing it (our joke when he talks about changing his training is that “because he knows so much more than his coach”.. ya know the one.. who WINS his age group in just about every IM race he competes in… This is when it pays to respect and trust your coach).. So Eric worked on his bike and changed out his wheels and brakes (since he decided to go with the carbon’s for this race) and went for a ride to get his legs going and to check-out his bike…. I settled in to feed the baby and relax for a bit…. When 15mins later the phone rang… and when I see Eric’s name pop-up.. that moment of panic sets in and you wonder what has happened… I think it’s a fear a lot of us partners feel… especially when you hear about cyclists getting run over just about every other day… Thankfully it was just a flat… and when he used his CO cartridge – it blew out the tire…

So scramble mode kicked in… I loaded the baby up into her car seat while trying to get Mackenzie to put on her shoes.. of course when I looked up, she was stark naked… so I was waking up the sleepy, hungry baby, getting her into her seat… trying to find Mackenzie’s clothes and shoes – all the while, knowing that Eric was sitting on the side of the road… Fun times…

Of course.. in my scramble, I did not out on the bike rack and forgot to remember that the double stroller was in the back.. thank goodness for a minivan 😉

So we went to pick up Eric with his change of clothes and got his bike into the back… and off to the bike shop we went… All I can say is THANK GOODNESS it was early afternoon and NOT 6pm… and that the flat happened before the race… We headed down to Family Cycling Center – who are beyond good to us!  We found the tire, tubes, new CO and since the shop was quiet… they installed it all and FIXED a loose cable… of course… Eric tried on the new Tri-Vent shoes (looking at top of the line gear is never a good thing for us… because lets all remember that I have a thing for gear…), the good news was that they did not have his size in stock…. But for a guy who wants to place… gear that can actually speed up his 4th discipline (AKA: TRANSITIONS).. well.. its  probably an easy no-brainer…

So once the bike was all good to go.. we headed back to the house for some R&R… which really meant that we got the kids situated, dinner started and Eric got his gear bags packed and I started on laying out the clothes for the kids and I and making sure that we were packed for the day… because when Eric goes out to swim, bike, run… I am feeding, diapering and entertaining – all the while – positioning for a glimpse of our athlete (and capturing a photograph or two if I am able) 😉

We got everything situated and got the girls down to an early bedtime and settled in with a cup of tea and some TV time… by 10pm, we figured it was time for bed… I think the good thing about doing a race in your town is that you get to be home.. the bad thing is.. that you get to be home… A few weeks ago while in PG – we were all prepped and doing TV downtime and bed 2 hours earlier… there are less “every day” distractions when you are out of town… but it was nice… of course I STILL had trouble sleeping because of those “night before jitters”… but finally fell asleep for a few hours.. or until Madison was up at 2am and ready to play….

After a few minutes of trying to get her settled back down – I gave up and took her upstairs to baby jail… I have found that if I load the pack and play with baby safe toys, a few binkies and her lovey.. I can set her inside to play, while I snuggle up with a blanket in the lazy boy.. this has saved my sanity and lets me get a few moments of shut-eye – until she decided that she was ready to sleep.. then we spent the next 1.5hrs snuggled in the Lazyboy… We were up again at 4:30am, before the alarm… Just as Eric was coming upstairs.  Mackenzie was not too far behind him and I got the girls dressed while he ate breakfast and made our tea.  I got myself dressed and the last items into the diaper bag – we loaded the van and off we went to transition.

The Santa Cruz Triathlon was a bit different than Pacific Grove.. as I expect they all will be… we walked into the general area and everyone was yelling for Body Marking… you had to get marked before entering into transition – we figured it was for equipment control… the downside was that not everyone seemed to know what they were doing…I was thankful that this wasn’t our first tri… and that I have a keen sense of eves dropping skills.. because after Eric got marked on his left calf and hand (I thought it was odd they weren’t doing arms.. but heck.. what do I know.. I’m still a newbie).. he went to set up his transition area.. but because I overheard some conversations or the yelling of the body markers – once Eric came back out.. we also got his left bicep marked and his hand-remarked.. We then realized that we had some significant time to kill.. so we hung out for a bit and then made our way down the transition path to the Beach… We were both a bit surprised that the pathway had not been swept.. because in a few hours a few hundred people would be running barefoot through the ¼ mile bike path from the beach…

It was an exceptionally cold Sept. morning for Santa Cruz and I was happy that I had bundled up the kids and myself and that Eric had on a sweatshirt and pants… Those who know him know that pants are a rare thing 😉  We got down to the beach and purchased some hot tea for us and a snack for Mackenzie.. Who is becoming a little pro at these early morning races…

The fog was crazy on this Sunday morning.. and we are often used to the fog as well as used to seeing it roll out… on this particular morning.. it started to roll out and expose the wharf and it looked like it was trying to clear up.. only to have the fog roll right back in…. We were hearing rumors of the swim being cancelled but before long, it was time for the mandatory athlete meeting…. So Eric and Mackenzie made their way down the beach for the meeting and I stayed with the stroller and Madison… Mackenzie was out-of-her-skin-excited to be walking down the beach with daddy amongst all the other participants.. it was pretty special and these are the moments that make the long training hours worth it…. While they were off at the meeting my sister, BIL and twin nephews arrived to join the Team Connell cheering section… The support of our family and friends means the world to us… It’s not always easy to schedule time together between work schedules and the kids and training schedules – I am often telling them that we can’t participate due to a 4hr bike ride or because we are too exhausted on a Friday night… but to have them know just how important this is to Eric and I.. and to have their support and for them to still show up.. well.. its means so very much.. along with the texts and facebook check’s.. seriously.. every message and every sincere inquiry doesn’t go unnoticed.

We learned that they were delaying due to fog and because of all the uncertainty.. Eric changed into his wetsuit, grabbed his goggles and lid and went back down the beach to wait…. Meanwhile, I took advantage of the extra hands and ran back to the car to get the carrier, since I figured that Madison would not last all day in the stroller and with the delay also came an adjustment to the girls schedules in terms of eating, etc…

Nice morning for a swim…

Mackenzie and the boys had a blast playing and really did amazingly well… you put a 3.5yr old and two2.5yr olds together – with nothing really to do but stand around and wait.. well.. it can be a parenting nightmare.. the kids played together, had snacks and it was nice to have the support in our cheering section… we walked down the wharf a bit to try and get a better visual on the swim start – as it was about 1 mile down the beach… and as the heats took off we watched the progress around the wharf… This event was a little tough because there was NOT any announcing.. so I couldn’t tell when Eric’s age group started in the water.. which made the timing a little bit difficult… My sister and her hubby decided to watch Kenzie so that I could walk down to the beach and find a section to try and capture some pictures of Eric transitioning out of the water… and I was on purple cap duty (his color for his age group)… as soon as I saw the first one I texted my sister so they could keep an eye out… and soon afterwards I saw Eric running up the beach.. he was smiling and looking strong… which is always good – as open water swimming – is not his favorite…. I watched him start on his 1/4mile run up to transition and went back to get Mackenzie (Madison was passed out in the carrier on my back)… We said goodbye to my sister and her family and walked back around to see if we could catch Eric coming out of T1…. Turns out he was super quick!  My sister’s family saw him ride out at the top of the hill and my step-sister, who was volunteering at First Aid captured some behind the scenes footage in T1 for us… I then ran to the nearby Mexican stand and grabbed a soft taco for me and a quesadilla for Mackenzie… I figured we would have about an hour before Eric rode back into T2.  We grabbed our food and maneuvered the small restaurant – taking our snacks to go.. we walked back up the hill and found a spot that I hoped would give me adequate time to identify him and snap a few photos.. This is always a challenge since many of the athletes wear the same colors and have similar builds… its often comical watching Mackenzie start to yell “GO DADDY GO.. GO!!” for anyone wearing Red and Black… and sometimes any color.. She LOVES cheering on her daddy (as we all do) and often makes everyone near her smile with her enthusiastic chanting…. I had a difficult time with this race keeping time.. probably because I was managing the kids and my glancing at the clock was not spot on… This is usually where I start to worry… Wonder if somehow we missed him (almost impossible), or if he got a flat or worse yet – had an accident… I was texting my step-sister to see if she could tell if he had transitioned yet… and she figured he would be a while out… Soon we spotted Chris (He and his wife Janice own the Treadmill in Carmel, CA and are absolutely awesome – Go check them out for your shoe or multi-spot needs.. we met them during the PG Tri and they were so encouraging and shared some great tips on Ironman Mont Tremblanc)… and I knew he had gotten out of the water about 10mins before Eric.. so Chris became my timing guide.. little did we know at the time – but Chris had just gotten wiped out by a car and completely split his helmet.. watching him ride by – I had no clue…. And is yet ANOTHER lesson as to why you ALWAYS wear your helmet and right gear….and also probably why the worst possible scenarios always venture into my mind… and then..just a few mins later – Eric went zooming past and we did our cheering thing and then quickly made our way to the run course… as we were crossing the bridge we could see Eric running out of transition and I ran (pushing the stroller and baby on my back) to catch him at the top of the hill… Kenzie and I cheered “Go Daddy Go.. Go!!!” and then went to find a spot for his return to the finish…. We made our way up the course and past the fencing a bit to carve out our spot… we chatted with other folks on the side line and as I figured the time was closing in… I heard those words that can instill panic in a parent “Mommy… I HAVE TO PEE”..I asked her if she could hold it as daddy would be coming soon… and with a frantic voice and tears starting to come she told me ABSOLUTLY NOT! …. I knew we would never make it down the hill in time to have her do her business and return to see daddy cross the finish.. I also figured we would never find Eric in the sea of folks if we left… (and yet again.. we didn’t have a post race plan… LOL).. so I parked the stroller in a spot that I could see it… and walked Mackenzie up some stairs and behind some bushes (while still keeping eyes on the stroller, baby and camera)… sidenote: teaching a 3yr old to pee in bushes is not all that it is cracked up to be… also known as messy… but what are you going to do?  LOL… we got her all put back together again.. and back down to the sidelines.. just in time to see Chris pass on by – which told me we had 5-15mins before seeing Eric… and before too long… there he was.. looking fast and awesome.. we cheered loud and then scrambled to make it to the Finishers transition… We made our way and it was actually open enough that we were able to meet up pretty quickly.. we also met up with Chris and his wife Janice and 1yr old… and he told us about his close encounter with a car…

I know those who have been reading for a while hear me say it often.. but triathlete’s are a crazy bunch of individuals.. whose physical and mental abilities really and truly amaze me… and I am constantly blown away by what Eric does… and I was reminded by that as Chris was telling us about his encounter that had him sideways on his bike, rolling over the back of the car and landing on the pavement so hard that he cracked his helmet… and not only was Chris okay… he got up.. got on his bike, transitioned and then went for a short 6.2mile run….

So please… when you are out there driving around in your cars… keep an eye out for those other folks on the road… they are someone’s family….

After we finished chatting with Chris and Janice we headed back over to transition so that Eric could collect his gear and we made our way back to the van to load up the girls, and all the gear… and we headed home… another successful race under Eric’s belt.. We got home and got the girls situated, Alex arrived from a weekend with his dad and we re-capped the race for him.. he was bummed that he missed it but such is the difficulty of sharing children…. Then Eric began the results stalking process J.. How he finished compared to the entire field and his age group, etc… Over-all.. The participants in Santa Cruz were faster than Pacific Grove.. we also determined that in terms of safety and athlete safety support… Eric would give The Pacific Grove Tri a 10 out of 10 from start to finish – He ALWAYS felt safe.. and he would give Santa Cruz a 6 out of 10… while we know that it is difficult to shut down streets and such… it really is dangerous to not fully protect your athletes….

So.. Now we start to prep for the IM 70.3 in Austin Texas at the end of October.. We can already see the ramp in training for the next 2 weeks and I anticipate that it will continue to increase….and we will adjust to seeing him even less..

I will now share with you Eric’s post-race recap that he wrote up for his coach… I think it shows some insight.. J

“Chris,

So I feel like I had another solid day.  We had an hour delay to the start because of fog, so there was some down time just hanging out on the beach waiting to see what was going to happen.  Well obviously the sun came out and we got under way.  When my wave was up, I chose to start at the front of the pack, wasn’t really sure how it would turn out but I figured what the hell, what’s the worse that could happen.  The horn sounded and off I went, I hit the water and really told myself to relax and swim and try and have some fun, so I just went, it was a really nice day for a swim, very little swell, and the water was around 60 degrees.  I really focused on my stroke, and like I said just trying to relax in the water.  Before I knew it I was around the wharf at on the beach.  One note the last 200 yards or so my arms felt a little fatigued, I think as I got tired my hand entry in the water was a lot further out than usual.

The transition area was up the street about a quarter of a mile, I walked it the day before and knew that it was gonna be a little ways and tough on the bare feet, I got to the transition area, rinsed my feet got my wetsuit off ( without any issues this time) got my cycling shoes and gear on and off I went a very clean and fairly quick T-1.

On the bike, took a few minutes for my legs to get acclimated but I didn’t think it was bad, headed towards Highway 1 via some very rough city streets.  Made it out to Highway 1, and although I’ve done this ride many times I’ve never done this ride at a race pace, towards the tops of some of the hills my legs burned like hell but I pushed through knowing there would be some down hill portions that I could pedal my ass off but not be working quite as hard.  I felt pretty fast and was passing a lot of folks so I felt pretty good.  It was a little bit windier than I had hoped for and the
passing was a little sketchy with the road being open for vehicular traffic.  Got through the ride, legs were burning pretty good as I got to the end of highway 1, but again pushed through it and got back for T-2.

T-2 felt really good, legs were a little wobbly getting off the bike and running in to the transition area.  Got my bike settled, my running gear on and off I went.

I felt good on the run from pretty much the start of it, took a few minutes for me to feel like my legs were under me but I didn’t feel like it slowed me down at all.  Based on our training plan I knew I was gonna go as hard as I could “pukin hard” as you put it, and so that’s what I did, my only complaint was that I had my cycling shoes on to tight and my feet were asleep (numb), it was bothersome but I pushed through it. The miles clicked off pretty fast and I was back to the finish line and had completed my second tri…….again it felt awesome.

As far as nutrition goes, I had a good breakfast and lunch on Saturday, with some healthy snacks throughout the day.  I had a serving of pasta and a small grilled chicken breast for dinner.  On race morning I had my typical Kashi cereal and whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter for breakfast.  I drank my tea up until we got to the venue, then I switched to sipping Gatorade up until the start.  During the race, I had 8 oz of Gatorade and on the bike, had two cups of water on the run.

I felt like overall this was a much cleaner race, from beginning to end, getting the experience from Pacific Grove really helped with this one.  On top of it I was able to not screw up my watch this time, so I was able to retrieve the data off it

On the swim, the only data it shows beside the calories burned and the overall time was the stroke count which was 1081 total strokes.  Is there any significance to this number?  I see it during my training, is there a stroke count I should be working towards? I’m assuming that the more efficient of a swimmer one is the lower the stroke count is? I just noticed that it also has strokes per minute (39), and Eff(44.15).

For bike data we have the following:

Lap1 2:58/mi, 151hr, and an average cadence of 89
Lap2 2:31/mi, 156 hr, cadence 90
Lap3, 3:17/mi 156 hr, cadence 83
Lap4, 3:04/mi 155hr, cadence 91
Lap5, 3:13/mi 149 hr, cadence 79

Run data:

Lap 1, 7:08mi, 156hr, cadence 90
Lap2, 7:07mi, 160hr, cadence 91
Lap3, 7:22mi, 159 hr, cadence 91
Lap4, 7:20mi, 157 hr, cadence 90
Lap 5, 7:22mi, 159hr, cadence 91
Lap6, 7:20mi, 160hr, cadence91

The following were my splits:

Swim: 28:11 (a little over nine minutes faster than pacific grove)
T-1: 4:48 (the quarter mile run obviously made the time longer, felt faster once I got there)
Bike: 1:14:51 19:90 pace ( I was pretty happy with this as it was a much hillier course, but I was able to maintain a good race pace)
T2: 1:14:51 (much quicker than pg)
Run: 44:46 7:17 pace ( didn’t leave anything on the course ran pukin’ hard, and was almost three minutes faster than PG).

Overall time 2:33:50

So I was tired as shit when I crossed the finish line, I was pleased with my performance and felt good knowing I didn’t leave anything on the course, but most of all I was fuc$ing stoked with my swim time, and overall performance.

One more quick question, any tips on things that will help with recovery, just want to make sure I’m doing all I can do.  Right now I really just do the active recovery workouts you lay out, some time in the hot tub, foam roller, massage here and there, and extra sleep when life allows for it 🙂 as far as nutrition, I typically eat how I normally do during training. No over eating, lots of chicken, fish, fruits veggies, whole wheats, healthy fats, and lots of water.

Thanks for pushing me on the run!!!!

I look forward to hearing your feedback, good and bad.

Eric”

Until next time!!! Thanks for reading!

Photo by Yauni Smith – “Transition”

Eric and the girls…

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