(Re)Living the Civil War

As you no doubt well know, there are things in life that are incredibly important that don’t relate to triathlon, running, swimming, biking, or endurance sports in general.  For me, my family ranks right up there.

I’ve written before about my three kids and how much they mean to me.  One of my favorite things to do is go camping with my youngest daughter.  See, we’ve had a daddy-daughter camping group for about five years or so now.  We typically camp four or five times each winter (which if you’ve ever been to Florida in the summer, you’ll know that the winter is the perfect time for camping….not July).  Our camping excursions have taken us canoeing on many of the spring-fed rivers in our corner of the state.  We’ve found fossilized starfish.  We’ve gone shell “hunting”.  We’ve hiked.  We toured some underground caverns.  Tremendously fun stuff.

This past weekend, we camped at Fort Clinch State Park.  This park is at the very northeast tip of Florida (you can literally see Georgia across the water), and is home to a Civil War era fort.  We’ve camped here before, but this was the first time that the fort was teaming with Civil War reenactors. 

We had an awesome time learning about what life was like in the 1860’s.  We saw some incredible sights (for instance, a dentist chair where the patient had to self-power the drill), learned about “hard tack” and how soldiers had to eat that.  We actually made horseshoes in the blacksmith shop.  We learned what it means to “sleep tight”.  The girls got admonished for having Jezebel fingers (painted nails) and for not wearing dresses that went from neck to ankle.  We learned that the song “Dixie” wasn’t just a “Southern” song – but that it was played at Lincoln’s inaguration too.

That, and I took a bunch of pictures too.  A few of them are below.

If you’ve never seen a reenactment before, I encourage you to seek one out.  The men and women who do this are more than just playing “dress-up” or “soldier” for a weekend.  They are reliving history.  They are universally highly interested in the time period they represent.  Quite frankly, they are fountains of knowledge and will help future generations remember what life was like back when our country was young (or adolescent).  I suspect that there are more reenactors on the east coast of the US than in other parts – just because that’s where the majority of Revolutionary War and Civil War battles took place, but you can probably find them no matter where you live.

And by the way, sleeping in a tent can be a really centering experience!

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In this picture, an adult fifer was teaching a child how to play.  I can only imagine this scene repeated 1000 times back in the day.

In this picture, an adult fifer was teaching a child how to play. I can only imagine this scene repeated 1000 times back in the day.

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No clue who this guy was, but he looked like he was having so much fun - sitting back & fishin'

No clue who this guy was, but he looked like he was having so much fun – sitting back & fishin’

Looking out a jetty.  I love the textures, the green algae and the birds out at the end.

Looking out a jetty. I love the textures, the green algae and the birds out at the end.

This is my crazy daughter.  I don't know if she was about to blow out the stick or if she was amazed that it was still burning.  Either way, her expression cracked me up.

This is my crazy daughter. I don’t know if she was about to blow out the stick or if she was amazed that it was still burning. Either way, her expression cracked me up.

We got to see this submarine as it was heading out into the Atlantic from Kings Bay Naval Station.  I had no idea how BIG these things were.  Very cool to see.

We got to see this submarine as it was heading out into the Atlantic from Kings Bay Naval Station. I had no idea how BIG these things were. Very cool to see.

The start of a beautiful sunset, looking over Cumberland Island, GA.

The start of a beautiful sunset, looking over Cumberland Island, GA.

The last vestiges of light...

The last vestiges of light…

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Winter? What Winter?

Many folks in the U.S. have been experiencing a spate of unseasonably warm weather over the last week or so.  This is absolutely the case here in Florida, where over the past weekend we saw daytime temperatures near 80 degrees. 

This wonderful weather certainly facilitated lots of outdoor swimbikerun over the weekend.  Tons of folks were down in Orlando for the Disney marathon and half-marathon.  Despite the warm temperatures, it seems that lots of folks had great races. 

Me?  I spent literally the entire weekend outside.

I was fortunate enough to do a little camping with my youngest daughter Friday night through yesterday morning.  We camped at a state park in St. Augustine, FL (otherwise known as the oldest city in the U.S.).  We had an amazing time:  ate like pigs, made s’mores, walked on the beach at night while stargazing (we found Jupiter, among other things), and took an awesome 4 hour boat ride.

After camping, I decided to hit the roads on my trusty Quintana Roo!

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My ride was relatively short – just 25 miles – but oh what a wonderful time!  To be able to cycle without winter gear on was such a treat!

Our forecast this week calls for continued warm weather…through Thursday at least.  That will mean I get to do quite a bit more stuff outside!

The only problem?  The unseasonably warm weather has tricked all the plants….some are starting to bloom, and the pollen is terrible right now!

Hoping you’re enjoying great weather where you are, too!

Rev3 Florida Race Report

The inaugural Revolution 3 Florida race was held this past weekend in Venice, Florida.  The race, a 70.3 distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) event, was the capstone to Rev3’s series – and as such had a pretty large crowd of professional triathletes.  Venice is on the southwestern side of Florida, about an hour south of Tampa.  Typically, this quaint little town has beautiful weather, and the Gulf of Mexico is typically as calm as a lake.

That was not the case this weekend. 

Hurricane Sandy blew up last week, and passed close to Florida on Friday evening, bringing not too much in terms of rain, but a significant amount of wind.  And when I say wind, I mean W I N D.  Saturday brought sustained 30-35mph winds with higher gusts.  On Sunday (race day) the winds dropped to a “gentle” 25mph sustained breeze, with gusts approaching 40mph.  These winds had a huge impact on the Gulf, turning the “lake” into an angry, swirling mess.

Sort of hard to tell from this picture, but the Gulf was really choppy and rough on Saturday afternoon. Conditions did not get better on Sunday, resulting in a canceled swim.

I made the drive to Venice from Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon, arriving around 4pm.  I got checked in to the race, wandered over to take a look at the Gulf, and ran into a few of my Team Rev3 teammates.  We met up at Sharky’s by the Pier for dinner and fun.  It was really outstanding to get to finally meet a few folks that I had only previously met online!  After dinner, I headed over to the hotel and watched a little football while wearing my NormaTec boots.

Beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Mexico from Sharkys by the Pier.

As luck would have it, I awoke on Sunday to an email from Rev3 that the swim had been canceled.  This didn’t really bother me too much – given how bad the Gulf looked on Saturday.  The benefit of the swim being canceled?  Transition was open a little later and I didn’t have bust a move to get out there at the crack of down.  So…..I took my time getting ready, went down and enjoyed a custom-Fairfield Inn breakfast (waffle and peanut butter on a bagel), and headed over to transition around 7am.

I rolled into transition and easily found my spot (thanks to the amazingly cool Rev3 name tags at each rack).  I was racked near other old dudes in my 40-44 age group.  Without the swim, the start for the race would be a time trial start, with us lined up outside of transition and then running in “as if” we’d just come in from the swim.  We were not allowed to run in with our helmet on or bike shoes or anything like that – so I set up my transition just like I normally would.

After I set up, I wandered out of transition and watched the pro men and pro women take off.  Here’s a general observation – it appears that one of the pre-requisites to being a pro triathlete is that you must be tall!  I think most of the guys were easily six feet.  Even most of the women looked 5’6″ or better.  There were NO short pros there.  And they were all rail-thin.  Once they pros started, I headed back over towards transition and found several of my Team Rev3 teammates.  We hung together right at the opening to transition and watched the men and women come in from their run and head out to the bike.  Following that, we all got in line (numerical order….just like grade school) and waited for our chance to start.

Once we were allowed to start, we had to run into T1 “as if” we were entering following the swim. I had no issues running in and finding my spot. I did struggle a bit with my aero helmet (somehow it seemed to tighten itself — or it could be that one of my kids had played with it and screwed it down so it would fit their head). After trying to squeeze that thing on my melon, I got my shoes on and ran out to the mount line. I contemplated trying a flying mount – but it would have been the first time doing it in a race, and I just wasn’t comfortable with that yet. Time in T1: 1:17.

The bike course was a big loop – starting out heading south along the Gulf for 25 miles. At 25 miles, we made a left turn and started heading back north and then west. The road surface was generally pretty good. Most was on 4-lane highways with a bike lane. The roads were open, but police and volunteers were at every intersection. I didn’t have any problem with cars at all. In fact, some folks in cars were cheering us on.

My plan heading in to the race was to do the ride in just about 3 hours…most of my solo training rides have been in the 18-19 mph range. I knew going in that the first 25 would be fast with a tail wind, but that the way back up would be brutal. And guess what? Mother Nature didn’t let us down. I went out pretty strong. My average speed over the first split was almost 22 mph – quite fast for me. That said, I could have gone faster. I purposefully didn’t push a huge gear and just spun easily. I didn’t want to burn my matches. I think I was about the only dude who took that approach. Guys (and gals) were out like they had rocket packs on. More than one dude passed me like I was in reverse.

Once I made the turn at 25, it was almost as if I ran into a solid wall of wind. The winds were sustained 25mph with gusts up to 40mph. I honestly think this was the most harsh wind I’ve ever ridden in….and since I live in Florida, I ride in wind a lot! I was blown all over the road a couple of times, and I don’t ride with deep dish rims (my aero wheels are about 50mm). 

I did see quite a bit of drafting going on – especially as we fought through the wind. It was so difficult not to get caught up in it. That said, I didn’t see an official until almost mile 40 – and once I did see him, I probably saw him 10 times. I didn’t see anyone get carded though.

All in all, I was pretty pleased with my bike. My overall bike time was 3:07:23 (17.9 mph average).  I took 19 minutes off my bike split at Rev3 SC, and still felt OK as I came into T2. I did a flying dismount and ran into transition thankful that the ride was over.

I’ve really practiced my transition this year, and have been quite pleased with my results in general. Whereas I used to put on my shoes, visor, race belt, etc. while in transition – now the only thing I do before I start moving is put on my shoes. I take care of the rest while I’m running. Same approach this time, but the key difference is I was running sockless and needed to spray my feet with TriSlide – and guess what – I forgot to set it out at my spot. So I had to run over to my transition bag, dig it out, spray my feet and then get into my shoes. Wasted precious time doing that.  Time in T2:  1:50.

The run at Rev3 Florida is a 2-lap run that is actually quite nice. The first two miles lead you out of transition and pass the finisher’s area, then down a road that is literally right along the Gulf. That part of the run was the windiest, too, as there was really nothing blocking the winds coming in from the Gulf. The run then leads out onto a causeway for an out-and-back on a concrete sidewalk type path. The view was fairly nice – waterway on one side and an airport on the other. The run was pancake flat (as you’d expect) and all of it, save maybe 1/10th of a mile, was paved or concrete.  There were aid stations at almost every mile – the one exception was on the causeway.  There was an aid station right as we turned onto the causeway, and one at the turn-around…something shy of 1.5 miles down the road.

I actually started the fun fairly poorly. My legs were just spent from the bike. I literally had to walk 3x within the first mile just to get my heart-rate down and some feeling in my legs. After that, I went along with my plan of running and then walking the aid stations. The first couple of miles were among the most difficult, but I really started to get my legs by about mile 3. I hooked up with a guy and gal and ran about three miles with them. It was great to have someone to chat with, plus their pace was right on where I wanted to be.

I took a lot of fluids at every aid station. Water. Gatorade. I poured water on my head at every station as well so I could keep cool. At mile 5 and again at 8 I took salt tablets – which were really helpful.

All-in-all, I was not too displeased with my run. I wanted to run about 2:15 – clearly I was off that a bit with a total time of 2:25:28. That being said, my PR for a run segment in a race of this distance is 2:24 – so I was pleased to be right at that mark again.  My overall pace was something like 11 minutes per mile, but that takes into account the walks.  When I was actually running, I was keeping a 9:30 or so pace.

After I crossed the finish line and gave up my chip, I grabbed my finisher’s medal & shirt, a water, and a Gatorade and wandered around a bit. I made my way over to the NormaTec tent and signed up for a session there. While I waited, I watched the pro awards ceremony. That was cool to see (except for the fact that almost all of them looked like they had gone back to their hotel and showed up & then came back). I then experienced 25 minutes of pure bliss wearing NormaTec boots. After that, I cruised through the post-race food area, decided I couldn’t eat any of it (even though it all sounded really good – jambalya, Mahi-Mahi, etc) , saw some friends and teammates, and then left so I could make the 4 hour drive home.

OK – I’m partial to Rev3 races in general (given the fact that I’m on the AG team), and this race certainly lived up to the Rev3 promise! The venue was beautiful, the volunteers were absolutely amazing, and perhaps surprising, the locals were totally in to the race as well! I saw lots of folks out in their yards watching us go by on the bike. People cheered us on from their car. Sharky’s at the Pier was a great restaurant with an outstanding vibe.

Rev3 certainly couldn’t control the weather – but they did their absolute best to make the best out of the conditions. This race will absolutely be on my race calendar again next year.

I certainly owe a debt of grattitude to my sponsors.  First to Revolution 3 for having a great race series and for putting on a top-shelf race in Venice.  To PowerBar for outstanding nutrition products that really kept me going (I’ll write later this week about how effective my nutrition strategy worked out to be), to Pearl Izumi for amazing cycling shoes (Tri Fly IV Carbon = my weapon of choice) and run shoes (Iso Transition).  Additional thanks go SBR Sports, the maker of TriSlide – an aerosol lubricant that kept me from rashes and blisters and all other sorts of discomfort, and to NormaTec – who makes an active compression pump that really works wonders (and without which I probably could not have made the 4 hour drive home).   And while I didn’t use their products during this race, I love and really appreciate Blue Seventy and Swiftwick for their support.

 

 

My Nutrition Plan for Rev3 Florida

We triathletes are planners, right?  We can’t go into a race without a list or ten of things that we need to do, need to take, or need to consume.  Over the next couple of days, I’ll share with you my preparations for this upcoming weekend’s Rev3 Florida race.

Today, I’ll be sharing my “going-in” nutrition plan.  Tomorrow, I’ll share my packing list.

This race is a “Half-Rev” – a half “iron” distance race.  1.2 mile swim.  56 mile bike. 13.1 mile run.  Weather conditions look to be about what I’ve been used to here in Northeast Florida.  Moderate humidity.  Highs reaching into the mid 80’s (maybe 30 degrees Celsius).  Additionally, the forecast is calling for moderate chop on the water and fairly breezy conditions, with winds in the 15-20mph range coming from the northwest (which could significantly impact the last half of the bike).

I am a moderate sweater.  You might say that I’m even more than moderate when the humidity is high.

My plan is that I’ll wake up around 5am for breakfast.  I’ll very likely go back to bed for an hour or so to continue resting, but I doubt I’ll sleep.  Breakfast for me on race days – especially races of this distance – always consists of a peanut butter and strawberry jelly bagel, a Powerbar (I personally like the Harvest Double Chocolate Crisp) and a bottle of water.  That’s around 760 calories, depending upon the size of the bagel I bring and how much peanut butter I put on.

When I arrive at the venue and begin setting up my transition area, I’ll be sipping on a bottle of water non-stop.  My plan all week has been to super-hydrate, and I’d like to go into the race as hydrated as possible.  I’ve been drinking in excess of two liters of water daily, not counting what I take in when working out.  About 10 minutes prior to the start, I’ll take a Powerbar Gel.  My current favorite is the Kona Punch flavor.  It is sweet, but not too sweet.  The consistency is great, and I have tolerated the gel really well during my training.

When I hit T1 after my swim, I’ll grab another gel, and may or may not take it while I’m still in transition.  More likely, I’ll take it pretty much as soon as I get up to speed on the bike.

My plan is to take the bulk of my calories for the day while I’m on the bike.  During my training, I have taken a gel every 45 to 50 minutes, and I have generally been averaging 18 to 19 mph, meaning I’ll be on the bike for roughly 3 hours.  That means in addition to the one I take right at the start of the bike leg, I’ll take three additional gels during the ride…at 45 minutes, 90 minutes, and 2 hours 15 minutes.  To facilitate my consumption of gels (and to eliminate waste), I’ll put my gels into a flask that I can easily carry in my tri top.  My strategy for consuming liquid is that I strive to take in quite a bit.  I set my Garmin to beep every 10 minutes to remind me to drink, and I’ll go through at least three bottles.  Two will be straight water, and I’ll go through one bottle of Ironman Perform (lemon-lime flavor).  In all, I’ll take in about 540 calories on the bike.

I’ll take the same approach in T2 that I did in T1.  I’ll grab another gel, and most likely take it as soon as I’m running.  Again – Kona Punch.  Although I might take a Vanilla down with me, as I like that flavor as well.

Finally….the run.  I’m not the fastest runner normally, and when it comes to running after biking and swimming, I’m pretty slow by comparison.  I’m expecting to do the run in about 2 hours 15 minutes, give or take.  Again, my plan will be to take a gel every 45 minutes (planning on two gels during the run, not including the one I take coming out of T2).  If needed, I’ll graze the aid stations for salty stuff.  I will absolutely take water and perhaps Gatorade at every aid station.  If the weather is in fact as warm as it looks like it might be, I’ll probably take more than just one of each.  I’ll also soak myself down with ice sponges or cold water poured on my head.  Florida gets hot, and I don’t want to overheat.

All-in-all, my plan is to take in just under 2000 total calories on Sunday (including breakfast).  I’ve followed this plan previously in my other half-iron distance races, and this approach seems to work really well for me.

So that’s my plan.  It’s worked for me – but don’t infer that this type of plan will necessarily work for you.  As they always say, make sure that you’ve tried your nutrition plan during your training and don’t experiment with something new on race day.

All Access Pass

We triathletes often love to bitch and moan about how expensive races can be.  We often drop hundreds of dollars up to a year in advance of a race.  Some folks fork out well over a grand to a certain race company to secure a “community fund” slot to a race.  That same race company talked about charging $1200 for a race in the Big Apple (which was subsequently “suspended”).

So what would $1200 buy you?  For those other guys, you might get one or two races.  Bargain?  Hardly.

Enter Rev3 Triathlon to save the day (and your wallet).

For $1200, Rev3 will give you a 2012 “Season Pass”.  The Season Pass gets you entry to any and all 2013 triathlon races.  You read that right.  $1200 for entry into 12 races at 10 venues.  That’s $100 per race, folks.  Now, THAT is a bargain!  And here’s the REALLY cool thing….you can share your “season pass” with friends or family.  Let’s say that you really can only race half of the venues.  You can give the pass to a friend to race the other venues.  Or, you can go in with a friend to buy the season pass together.

What venues apply?  Knoxville, Quassy, Williamsburg, Portland, Wisconsin Dells, Maine, Cedar Point, Maryland, South Carolina and Florida. 

Want more information or want to sign up?  Head on over to Rev3’s website and read up on it. 

Just act fast – there’s only 100 Season Passes available, and they will go fast!