Monday, October 16, 2023

SGC R2R NS 2023

Another one from the list of things I always meant to do but hadn't done yet: see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and do a rim-to-rim hike. Based on how I still feel, I'm glad to know this was "an extremely difficult hike." With special solar eclipse fun, too. 11:30 all in, with all the rest stops and with hiking as a group.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

The (Increasingly) Old Band Returns!

We're back (more or less), and the undergrads (the "real Band") were great.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Humphreys Peak

Highest point in Arizona. I'd never been before, and now I have.

All downhill from here (as some would say, and as my birthday cake at 19 actually did say - thanks, college roommates).

Sunday, August 20, 2023

AZ Open Water Swim

Simon and Suzanne Percy, of Swim Devils and Swim Devil Masters, took over the AZ Open Water Series in 2023, after a 4-year pandemic hiatus - and the first race had to be cancelled due to the algae bloom this spring at Bartlett Lake. But the second race went off not-exactly-smoothly at Bartlett on August 19. 4000 meters, "more or less"; probably 4200 but they adjusted one of the turn buoys after our first lap, so we didn't get to 5000 after all.

I finished in 1:32:06.9. I'm not sure that kind of precision is warranted but 1:32 seems right; I had 1:35 on my watch but stopped only after getting out of the water. That put me 35/41 overall (35/43 with 2 DNFs), 17/22 men (17/24 with the DNFs) and 9/12 in men's masters (9/14 with 2 DNFs), but in swimming they lump everyone 45 and over in the masters category, and if there was a 65-69 age group (or even just 65+), I would have been 1/1. If there had been a 60+ age group, I would have been 3/3 (3/5 with the 2 DNFs). Not the best time, but not the worst, as 6 people finished behind me, and all of them were under 60. Results here for men's masters, and here for overall.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Maine 70.3

I hadn't planned on doing two 70.3 races this year, but after signing up last summer for Oceanside, I was one of the lucky winners of a complimentary entry to a IM 70.3 race (exclusions apply) at the Tri Scottsdale holiday party. Augusta, Maine was the farthest race from Arizona on the list, both in distance and in latitude north, so I picked it. And as it turned out, we picked about the best week of the summer to be in Maine. It was hot and sticky on the Friday we traveled and on the Saturday before the race, but that afternoon, it rained for 4 hours, and all the humidity went away.

The race was very nice. It just seemed nicer somehow than Western triathlons, with more spectators and variety of scenery. The swim in the Kennebec River was great, we weren't just swimming downhill, there was a pretty good current - so that my swim was 22 minutes faster than in Oceanside harbor. The water was also very warm; while it was wetsuit-legal, the temperature was about the same as the pool at Gainey Village when the place opens at 5 am, so I went without a wetsuit and saved another 5 minutes in transition not wiggling out of one.

The bike course was hilly, at least by Eastern standards; it actually had greater total elevation gain than Oceanside, but none of the hills was very long. The electronic shifters on my tri bike went out of tune, so I only had 6 gears, but it wasn't a big deal to power over the relatively short hills. The transition area seemed smaller and more manageable than other races I've done, and the run course was pretty nice. We were on a trail for much of the first half, and about half the race was in shade. The other half took us through downtown Hopewell and downtown Augusta (peaking at the former site of the state mental hospital), with diners out, toasting us with their beers, and urging us to finish to join them. I managed slightly more than a minute faster on the bike than Oceanside, slightly less than a minute faster on the run, 20 minutes faster on the swim, and 8 minutes total faster in transition, for a time 30 minutes better than O'side. You don't usually get 30 minutes faster at my age (or else I was really, really slow at Oceanside).

Of course, that made me 16/20 in my age group, those darn fast 65-year-olds again (16/21 if you count the DNF). But a fun day - topped off by driving from Augusta after the race to the Portland (Westbrook) REI to turn in the tri bike for shipping back to Arizona, then lobster rolls at The Lobster Shack at Cape Elizabeth, then a long drive north through Bangor (stopping for ice cream) to Gouldsboro, where we spent 3 days tooling around Acadia National Park, then a great day-and-a-half in Portland. Just a beautiful time, and each lobster and lobster roll we had was the best one of the trip. H/t to both Eventide for their lobster roll with brown butter and to Sarah for the recommendations for The Lobster Shack and Eventide.

Plus I got to have a beer and bar food at Coppersmith Tavern & Table in South Portland (walking distance from our hotel). Not a relative but the beer was cold, the fried pickles crisp, and the burnt ends very nice indeed.

Maine 70.3, July 30, 2023
Swim 20:48 (no wetsuit)
T1 9:55
Bike 3:28:14
T2 5:32
Run 2:46:07
Total 6:50:36, Div 16/21 (20 finishers), Gender 1046/1197, Overall 1455/1814, IM points 1657 (so Tri Scottsdale finished 161 out of 200 clubs).

More pics here; I've never been photographed in my tri bars as much as at this race. I may have to actually buy these.

Monday, May 01, 2023

Cactus Man Triathlon 2023

I completed a busy month of racing with the Cactus Man Triathlon in Tempe, Olympic distance. My times were almost identical to last year, I was 1:10 slower than in 2022 overall (1:15 faster in the swim, :36 faster in T1, 1:07 slower on the bike, :20 faster in T2, and 2:14 slower on the run), but instead of finishing 3rd of 6, I finished 10th of 15. So while 90% of life is just showing up, it now means who else showed up, now that I'm one of the older guys in my division.

The water was very cloudy, and there was a slight current because the lake is still getting runoff from the dams upstream, but with all the fresh water, the lake actually seemed "fresher" than in past years despite looking like it was thick enough to plow. The bike course was the usual Tempe route, with lots of turns, including 2 tight U-turns, so I used my road bike and not the tri bike. And the run was very hot, and not just my watch, but some friends also thought the course was longer than 6.2 miles. As it was the same route as last year, I'm not sure how that would have happened. (But if it really was 6.5 miles, then that would explain the additional 2 minutes for the run.)

I ran a very "technical" race, in that in finishing 10th in my division, I finished 11 minutes behind the 9th place finisher (no way to catch him), and 20 seconds ahead of the 11th place finisher (that's pretty close). Much better than the reverse.

Before the race started, and as I slogged through the run, I did think how grateful I am that I can still do this stuff with my friends. I'll never be great but it's great fun to still be able to participate. Results here, photos here.

Swim 30:37 (wetsuit)
T1 4:43
Bike 1:26:43
T2 3:18
Run 1:14:30
Overall 3:19:51, division 10/15, gender 184/240, overall 237/327

Monday, April 17, 2023

Arizona Road Racers Spring Cleaning 5K

ARR called it the "Spring Cleaning" race because with your free (with membership, of course I'm a member, I join everything) race entry you got a shirt, which was a leftover from a prior ARR race. So I got a 2014 race shirt along with the chance to run in my old neighborhood, starting and finishing at Arizona Falls and running along the ol' south bank of the Arizona Canal. I visited my old street and saw what the new owners are doing to the houses (short answer: McMansioning big time).

Results 29:12 (division 5/7, gender 37/50, overall 50/81). The 50 overall was nice, in that I was the last person on the first page of results. But I don't know about ARR, with 7 guys in the 65-69 age group; didn't everyone get the memo that no more than 3 are supposed to show up at an event, so everyone gets on the podium? And my time would have made me 5/5 in the 70-74 age group as well.

I did learn that waiting an hour after eating may be fine for swimming, but not so great for running a fast 5K (by my standards).

Monday, April 03, 2023

Oceanside 70.3

Post coming soon but a great day, a tough course, I finished, and I'm happy about it. 7:21:28.

More photos here.

Now for the post. Oceanside 70.3 is a big favorite of Tri Scottsdale, and we had a huge group again this year. Most people did a relay (and to them, congratulations, but relay people suck) but a large number of us still were doing the whole thing. It's a relatively easy drive, a very nice venue, and fun to see lots of people you know. I'd been a spectator once before, but now I've been a competitor and have much better memories.

The weather was good. The swim got moved back to the harbor instead of the beach start, apparently due to excessive currents. The harbor course seemed cramped and it was hard to get a rhythm with all of the other swimmers, plus after the turn, we were sighting into the sun, which made spotting the marker buoys difficult. A fair swim, not great.

About two thirds of the bike ride was on Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, which is a huge tract of much undeveloped California coastal property. It's a beautiful but hilly course, over 2,700' of climbing (some cyclists back with me had to walk their bikes up the steepest hill around mile 28), but where else are you going to see "Caution: Tank Xing" signs? A very good bike ride; I used my road bike and not the tri bike and was glad I did. We had wind on the final 8-10 miles after all the hills but it all worked out.

Finally, the run is two loops around the beach area of Oceanside, with lots of spectators showing as much endurance as the competitors. By the time I got to the run, it was clear this was not going to be a very good day, and any time there was a slight uphill grade, I started walking. Still, I had a lot of Type 2 fun and am proud of finishing.

Swim 42:39 (wetsuit)
T1 14:37
Bike 3:28:55 (very nice)
T2 8:09
Run 2:47:11 (not great)
Total 7:21:28, division 27/47 (42 finishers), gender 1483/1776, overall 1885/2301. Probably where I should be (have to be?) at age 68 in the 65-69 age group.

Chelsea Sodaro, who was the first American woman in decades to win Kona in October, finished second among the pro women, and donated her winnings to Moms Demand Action. Here's her post-race interview. Good for her, both for acknowledging her mental health issues earlier this year and for making triathlon seem a lot cooler by being right on the issues.