Monday, July 21, 2008

Prisoner of a Wetsuit - Tiger Triathlon Race Report

Originally, after Lake Stevens, I had planned on completing avoiding races until Coeur D' Alene Scenic Challenge. But I must say, I cannot not race. It's kinda the lifeblood of my training...if I don't have a race on the horizon, I live the life of deep fried twinkies and re-runs of The Office.

So despite a nagging hamstring injury, I woke up at 4am this past Saturday morning and ventured out to Colville, WA for the Tiger Triathlon Quarter Ironman. It's kinda like the Quarter Pounder, with none of the beef, but more of the hot buns. You can quote me on that for next year's t-shirt.

On my way up to the triathlon, I attacked my swollen hamstring with a bag of frozen peas, and another one of my new secret weapons, the Muscletrac, which is like a luxury version of those massage sticks that you rub on a sore muscle. As you can see, unlike the smooth muscle sticks, the Muscletrac has rotating cogs that actually work deep into the adhesions and allow you to really target a specific area. And it's a perfect size. I recommend adding it to your rehabilitation and injury prevention arsenal. Here's a picture:

Pretty cool, huh? Between that, the frozen peas, and a bit of Greyhound juice to warm the muscle, the hamstring felt OK by the time I got to Colville.

Everything went smoothly up to the final five minutes before the race, when I asked a race volunteer to "zip me up". As soon as they laid hands on me, I knew it might be a bit tricky for them to pull the wetsuit zipper down. Even thought the B70 Helix is the fastest wetsuit on the planet, you really have to be a bit rough zipping it down. Anyways, they gingerly tugged on the zipper and got it stuck halfway down. Not their fault! You just typically want a wetsuit-wearing person to zip your wetsuit, the same way that you would want a person with a driver's license to drive your car, or a person with a medical license to remove your swollen gallbladder.

So now, with 3 minutes left until the start of the race, I turned to my Tri-Fusion teammates to try and save the day. With 4 people tugging and pulling and squeezing on the suit, we finally got it to the point where it could be zipped down. As I sprinted down to the lake, the guy that actually was able to pull it up mumbled something about the top of the zipper, but I didn't quite catch it. If it wasn't about my gallbladder, I didn't care.

The swim was smooth. I drafted a bit off Michael Berquist on the first 1/2, since I wasn't warmed up and wanted to avoid "blowing up", then opened up and swam hard for the second half. Coming out of the water in 2nd place, just behind Joe Byers, I figured I was in a pretty good spot.

As I ran up the swim exit ramp and attempted to unzip my wetsuit, there was a bit of a snag. The thing WOULDN'T COME OFF. So I'm running past volunteers, shouting, "Someone please help me take my wetsuit off!" I could just imagine having to mount my bike in the wetsuit and complete the race wearing a big piece of black rubber. But I fumbled with it for what seemed like 5 minutes, which in transition is really about 2 seconds, then gave it one final pull and I was free.

In the meantime, Michael and Joe were riding away. I hopped on my Specialized Transition and gave chase. I caught Joe after about a mile, and caught Michael about a mile later. Typically when I pass, I really stomp for a bit to clear people off my wheel, but was unable to shake Michael. Despite what felt like a solid ride into a headwind, I came off the bike only about 5 seconds ahead of him. The few times I glanced back I actually kept expecting him to make a pass (due to his proximity), but it never happened.

My run felt decent. The Tiger course has a good share of grass and gravel, and even a track finish, so it keeps things interesting. But Michael ran faster and took the day with a new course record. I managed to snag the second place slot. But it was well worth the trip up to Colville, especially after eating a homemade bagel-peanut butter-cream cheese sandwich at the finish line. For those of you who read my advice at, you know that this meal has the nutritional value of a Krispy Kreme special. But hey, it was better than quarter pounder. And it felt good not having to eat it in a wetsuit.

We'll see if I keep up this habit of racing instead of training. It's fun. And I'm all about fun. Big thanks to all my sponsors, who make fun possible. Until next time...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Burning Balls & Turtleheads: Lake Stevens 70.3 Race Report

Before I fill you in on Lake Stevens 70.3, please do me a huge favor and add my new website: to your blog links. Share it with your friends! Hang it on the wall! Feed it to your dog!

I'll owe you one. This site will remain my race report site, but BenGreenfieldFitness will have more blogging, podcasting, and other freakishly cutting-edge content.

So Lake Stevens is an interesting little town. We (my wife and our twin chihuahuas) actually stayed in Bothell, thanks to the Steve and Tia Rupe family and their hospitality.

The race time was a ungodly 6:30AM. But since the bikes have to be checked in the night before, you just kinda show up, put on your wetsuit, and race.

I made sure to use my special Greyhound muscle warming cream and in my haste of preparation, put it on *before* applying vaseline to the rest of my body. Yes, vaseline is what I use when I don't have any Bodyglide handy. It helps prevent chafing and keeps the wetsuit slipping and sliding off your body as you slip and slide into transition from the swim.

So anyways, I also put vaseline on other more intimate places as well to help with chafing from the bicycle seat. But my muscle warming balm was still on my hands when I did so. So about 5 minutes before the swim, my testicles were seized with cayenne pepper fury. Nothing to make you swim fast like the feeling of little piranhas nipping your crotch.

The pros started 5 minutes prior to the age group waves. Lake Stevens is unique in that the buoy line can be seen under the water, so you really don't have to sight or look where you're going. It's just like staring at the bottom of the pool, except without random lost goggles and sunken YMCA membership cards. Just dead fish and rotting seaweed.

So I was a bit scared going into this race that I wouldn't be fully recovered from Ironman Coeur D' Alene 2 weeks ago. I've had no hard workouts since, not because I didn't want to, but because my body simply wouldn't cooperate. So this would be the first time I really pushed myself outside what my body wanted to do, other than when I smoked the pack of cigarettes last Monday and tattooed my Grandma's name on my left inner thigh while I was still on my nicotine high.

Off we go. The swim felt OK, but I experienced that breathlessness you get when you haven't been working out hard, and then say, "Hey lungs, time to get really big, really fast." That feeling stayed with me the whole swim, but from what I could tell, I came out of the water with the leaders, for the most part. Of course, there are always a few Mermen up ahead. This is what I call the triathletes who have great big upper bodies and swim like mermaids, but get out of the water and hey, guess what, no legs!

So I came out onto the bike all excited and hot under the collar to go hard, but it wasn't to be. It took about 20 miles before my legs felt even slightly warm, and twice leading up to that point I nearly quit and limped back into transition, thinking I was completely smoked from Coeur D' Alene. But I kept pedaling, and eventually the legs came around.

I rode up on the back of the pros by the end of the first loop and finally encountered the first water station after being out of water for nearly 15 minutes. As I zoomed past and attempted to snag a water bottle, I missed the first, missed the second, finally grabbed the third, and was 50 yards away from the station before realizing it was about 1/4 full.

I spent the next 5 miles of the second loop riding up on fellow cyclists and asking for water. Some female age grouper (bless your heart, you know who you were - me, the guy on the black-red Specialized pro, you, the woman on the grey bike with the yellow shorts) gave me a full bottle. Amped up that I was no longer going to dehydrate, I pressed on.

To my amazement, I came off the bike strong, and in first place among the age-groupers. I think the bike course was slightly long, but I didn't mind because it's easier to bike after Ironman than it is to run! As a matter of fact, I passed many of the pro men and headed out on the run with confidence that I need to throw down a conservative half-marathon to qualify for the World Championships in Clearwater.

3 miles down the road, however, I thought back to the swim dock at 6:30am, and how I felt like I had to go the bathroom while I stood there in my wetsuit. Not a warm-me-up pee, but a nice big number Two. I had managed to hold it in the whole swim and bike, but once the body starts jarring up and down during the run gait, stuff doesn't stay tucked up inside very long. As Fat Bastard would put it, I had a turtlehead poking out.

With no porta-potty in site, I made a beeline for a group of trees in a field, yanked down my pants, and let 'er rip.

60 second later, I was off and running, with very little time lost, all things considered. Besides, I run much faster when I'm not massively clinching my butt-cheeks.

It felt really, really good, people. That's why I'm blogging about it. Probably the highlight of the weekend, really.

My run was a bit slow. If you scroll through the results, it's obvious that I really need to work on my half-marathon pacing. I was passed by one age-grouper from Argentina at about mile 10 (he beat me by well over a minute, so he was obviously flying), and ended up 11th overall, 2nd amateur, 1st in my division.

Here are my splits:

Total Time: 4:24:03.64
Swim: 28:47
Bike: 2:24:45
Run: 1:28:11

So anyways, that means I get to go race Half Ironman World Championships in Clearwater, Florida in November!

Hopefully I'll be able to hunt down some pics of this race and get them up. In the meantime, remember to go to and PLEASE link to it from your blog if you get a chance. Thanks!