Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Learnings from Serving as a T1 Volunteer

Some things I learned in the transition tent while volunteering at Ironman Florida 2012 that I think will help me next time I do an Ironman:
  • Don't tie the bag strings in a square knot. Tie with a method that will be easy to untie in the transition tent.
  • Stickers (you know with your number on it) come off. Mark the bag with your number on both sides with big, bold numbers. I have seen complaints from folks decrying that they saw volunteers looking through people's transition bags. Yes, we did. So, we could find something with your number on it so we could ensure you get your bag back.
  • Put "butt'r" in a ziplock. Easy to open, easy to get a glob for applying.
  • Don't overpack! I could not believe the amount of stuff some people brought.
  • Be organized. It was clear that those that had a well organized bag and a clear plan for doning stuff got through more smoothly.
  • Be prepared to tell the assistant exactly what you need. For example, tell them "I have nutrition in my shoe, please remove it." I specifically asked each person "feel free to tell me exactly how I can help you". I took control of getting them organized if they weren't, in a polite way. I think all the volunteers had the same goal. Remove the worry from the athlete and do anything, and I do mean anything, to help. I rubbed on lotion, pulled down shirts, pulled up shorts, taped feet. Volunteers are there to help and want to. Take advantage.
  • Don't brag about your accomplishments from previous races to the volunteer. Focus on the day and the process of this race. It is actually a bit distracting to get into a dialogue about past achievements while trying to focus on ensuring this one is an awesome experience in my opinion, anyway.
And, for the volunteer
  • Be a force of positivity to the athlete. Reflect enthusiasm and confidence.
  • Take special care with people's stuff, especially sunglasses or other breakables.
  • Lots of people seem to like putting sunglasses in their helmet.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Triathlon Statistics


  • 8 Total
    • 2 Olympic
    • 2 70.3
    • 1 Ironman
    • 1 5K run
    • 1 15K run
    • 1 Century ride


  • Total miles: 4882.16 (1861.16 more than 2013)
    • Running: 855.04 miles
    • Cycling: 3,887.39 miles
    • Swimming: 139.73 miles
  • Other
    • Calories: 302, 844
    • Time: 514:45:31 (average 1:24:00 per day)

The Plan

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Race Report: I Can Go Quickly: Meadow Brook Runs 5K

The Highlights

I completed the 20th Annual Meadow Brook Runs 5K alongside fellow E3 Tri athlete, Amy Potter Higginbotham, pictured below. I saw a few runners I recognized, but that fact that it was but just a few, reminded me that I have really joined the ranks of the local triathletes and not so much the local runners anymore. It was a beautiful morning for a run. I have done this race approximately 5 times in the past. The course is gently rolling and finishes along the lakes by the office complex near the starting line.

The beginning of the race is always preceded by some religious words of encouragement and the release of a large number of doves that circle around the area for a bit then head on to their home. The words of encouragement this year were a bit verbose and vehement invitation to join or renew one's standing within the Christian religion. It seemed a bit over the top, but you can expect a little more than usual as this event is is a fund raiser for "The Jesus Video Project of Alabama". I don't mind offering my support, but am not personally swayed by such sermons.

I intended to run strong and did. In fact, near the turn around point I noticed that I was not very far behind Amy. I set my sights on reeling her in and passing her. And, yes, I told her so as we approached each other just after she made the turn-around. I was close to reaching that goal, but did NOT. She beat me with 1 runner between us. I did gain on her significantly, but could not deliver the killing blow. Trying to beat her served as a motivating pull from my second half of the run. Thanks,

It would seem that given this performance, I should be able to pull faster times for longer events. I used a pace prediction calculator from Runner's World, to get the following predictive paces based on this race:

DistancePredicted Time
5 Miles44:08
10 Miles1:32:01
1/2 Marathon2:02:36

I would be happy with those time!


December 20, 2014: Birmingham, AL
3.1 Miles
Meadowbrook Runs
Distance:3.1 Miles
Heart Rate:162

Pictures (Courtesy of Suman Silwal from Marathon Runs mruns.com)

I'm the guy with the white singlet with the black stripe across the chest.

Amy finishing in front of me by just a few seconds. Although, I am nowhere in sight!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Race Report: I Did It All for Time: Ironman Chattanooga 2014

Ironman Chattanooga 2014: I Did It All for Time

The highlights

I competed in the inaugural Ironman Chattanooga on September 28, 2014. This was my second Ironman. I finished in 13:12:25 (13 hours and 12 minutes). My first Ironman was in 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. During that race, I broke my toe in the swim,

but finished in 16:22 (detailed results below). Chattanooga was my opportunity to try again and see if I could do better. I did.

I decided in the last few weeks before the race that I really should focus on time or, more specifically, I should focus on minimizing time on the course. Thus, I reviewed all of my plans for race execution and reduced and minimized all aspects that I could. I decided, for example, to wear a 2 piece triathlon kit for the entire race. Thus, eliminating any need for clothing changes in transition. Likewise, I used the same practice I now use for shorter races for footwear. Namely, I do not wear socks on the bike. I find that putting socks on wet feet is too difficult and I have no issues with bare feet in my cycling shoes.

I also dropped about 15 pounds in the last 2 months of race prep. Oh, and I shaved my legs!

During the race, anything that impeded continuous forward movement (thanks Travis Sherman for the phrase), was eliminated to all extents possible. The main place this was evident in my execution was the elimination of urine. I will leave it at that. Let's just say I did not stand in porta-potty lines. And, yes every porta-potty I saw on the cycling course had a line. I did use one during the run since there was no line. I will spare you the details. It's all about time.

The Days Before the Race

Unlike Louisville, I arrived in Chattanooga on the first day of registration. The lines were shorter and the process was fast. I found the race prep a lot less stressful as a result and will try to do this for any future Ironman races. I rode up with fellow, faster competitor Travis Sherman. His race was awesome too. I went to dinner that night with him and few other athletes too including Stephanie Farrington. This was her first Ironman and we had trained together with several other Birmingham triathletes from our Tri Club, Vulcan Triathletes. That was the last shared meal with fellow triathletes that I know personally. Everyone always seemed to be busy with prep and family activities. Or, I didn't plug in well with others. Sometimes I feel like I'm a bit anti-social and a loner. While I was not really lonely, my mental image prior to the race included more shared meals with local triathletes. Betsy, my wife, did not come up to Chattanooga until Saturday afternoon. I did have lot of contact in the Ironman Village, texting, and such with fellow triathletes from near and far.

I bumped in Jon Cochran, the husband of a work mate, Dawn Cochran. He and I ran our first Ironman at Louisville. He and several of his friends from South Carolina were also doing this race. I saw them on Saturday as I was completing a training ride on Saturday (or was it Friday, hum). It was good to see him. He looked super fit and it was great chatting with him.

I texted a few folks about dinner on Friday, the day of the Welcome Banquet. But, alas none seemed to be very interested in attending. So, I went alone. I was apprehensive as the same event at Louisville was awful. The food was blah at best and the acoustics were so bad that one could barely understand any of the speeches and such from the stage. But, Chattanooga's banquet was very good. The food, while not exceptional, was good and offered enough variety to be healthy. The presentations were inspirational and the visual and audio quality was good. I met 2 fellow Facebook acquaintances from the Ironman Chattanooga 140.6 group [note the race was actually 144.6 thanks to the longer ride]. Like all of these events, it always seems as if any place we gather, we are like pre-teen children meeting at a playground. We are instant friends and we begin playing together.

After dinner, I spent my evening reviewing my checklists and prepared my event bags. We get the following bags:

  • Morning clothes bag: we put in the stuff we need at the swim start, then once there we put in the stuff we take to swim start that we don't swim with like flip flops, sweat pants, etc.
  • Bike gear bag: The stuff we will don in T1 (Transition 1) as we transition from swim to bike
  • Bike special needs bag: Stuff we would like to access at the mid-point of the ride. Mine had a PayDay bar, a Crustable peanut butter and jelly sandwich, additional nutrition for the rest of the ride (GU's and my homemade energy balls), and a zip lock of chamois cream in case I had any chafing concerns
  • Run gear bag: The stuff we will don in T2 as we transition from bike to run
  • Run special needs bag: Stuff we would like to access at the mid-point of the run. Mine had a PayDay bar, a Crustable peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and additional nutrition for the rest of the ride (GU's and my homemade energy balls), and a zip lock of chamois cream in case I had any chafing concerns

I spent the rest of my time getting in short rides, runs, and swims to stay loose and prepared. This included a group ride with Stephanie and others on Saturday morning, the day before the race, and a short 15 minute run. I surprisingly met Teresa Jones, a long time friend, along the run. She was in Chattanooga as volunteer on on the bike course and to support me and other friends during the event. It was a chance encounter that made my morning. I also participated in the practice swim. Like the race, it was a point-to-point swim, but much shorter all from Ross Landing. I swam it 3 times to accumulate 15 minutes of swimming per my plan. I observed the time report from my Garmin 910XT and noted that I was about 25% faster than usual, a premonition for the next day's swim.

I contacted Betsy and we agreed to get a reservation for The Easy Bistro, a favorite restaurant for us, early in the evening. We ate at 5:00. Then I was off to the room for final preparations and sleep. Betsy met up with Teresa and they went off to check out a wine festival on a local bridge. I quit smoking in 1994. I began running with Teresa and we agreed to compete in Cooper River Bridge run in 1995. Betsy, Teresa, and I went there in 1995. Teresa and I ran and Betsy supported us. This turned into a few more than a dozen return trips with an ever widening group of friends for this same event. We plan to return for our 20th anniversary next year. It was interesting to see Betsy and Teresa take off to visit a bridge in connection with an athletic event in Chattanooga. Teresa has taken on triathlon too. Last year, she and I competed in Augusta's Ironman 70.3. Personally, I think there is an Ironman in her future. During our runs in preparation for the bridge run in 1995, she frequently referenced watching a friend of hers that had competed in a triathlon in Charleston. Here we are 20 years later and both of us are living the lifestyle, the triathlon lifestyle.

The Day

I was up at 3:15 am after going to sleep watching some concert event on MSNBC that included No Doubt and Sting; it was motivational. Upon waking, I ate my prepared breakfast from a pint sized mason jar. It contained blueberries, quinoa, greek yogurt, and walnuts. I donned my tri kit, applied chamois butter, grabbed my MyAthlete tracker, bike pump, frozen crustables, and headed to the transition area to update the contents of my gear bags and drop off my special needs bags. I got marked with my race number and age. I aired up my tires and realized I had forgotten to place the MyAthlete tracker into my bike gear bag. So, I just put it on the bike. I returned the bike pump to the room. While they provide pumps in transition, I learned at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh that using a foreign pump can create issues. When I used a foreign pump there, my tire was over inflated and rubbing.

I left the room, grabbed a mocha from Starbucks in the lobby, and proceeded to the bus to the swim start. To my surprise, the swim start was not overly crowed with folks that showed up at incredibly early hours. There was a lot of pre-race chatter about concerns for not having 17 hours to finish the race since the swim would not start until about 7:40 for age group athletes and the start would be a self-seeded start where 3-4 athletes exit the line and enter the water. First-come, first in. I was in line at transition to air my tires when it opened, I did not show up excessively early. And, at swim start I was near the beginning of the line. The finish clock read 13:21 when I crossed it and my time was 13:12 so was in the water about 10 minutes after the start.

I was inline around 5:00 am, so now for a 2.5 hour wait just hanging out with strangers in swim gear. I relaxed and chatted. At 6:00 I drank my 22 oz bottle of OSMO pre-hydration and ate a banana. My aquacell bottle included a chamber filled with OSMO hydration. Jon and Stephanie came by separately and I chatted with each for a bit and we wished each other luck. Jon choose to wear a wet suit so he had to start after all of us swimming without one. The race was not wet suit legal, but if you didn't podium you could wear one without penalty. 

Ironman is months of training and preparation and 1 day of execution. So far, execution was on plan and I was ready.

A special thanks is due out to John Hanna and E3Tri for coaching me and helping me with nutrition planning, and execution strategy. Other than my hard work, this was the most significant ingredient in my pre-race activities that led to an awesome result for me.

The Swim Start

At 7:30, the cannon blasted and the professional athletes started. I was not close enough to the water to see them start. Ten minutes later, the age group race began and I began my gradual approach to the water. I placed my morning clothes in the bag, donned my goggles and swim cap, dropped off the bag, and made my way to the water. I pressed the start button on my Garmin 910Xt and got in the water. The race is on! Swimming for me is sort of like a necessary evil. I am not very good at it as shown in my swim ranking, 2,131 out of 2,439. This means, of course, that I got swam over, A LOT. Given the staggered start, it was as bad as it could have been. I swam steady and simply focused on technique and getting done. I crossed the finish, glanced at my watch and saw 1:09. That is a phenomenal time for me.


I exited the water and ran up the sidewalk and stairs to the changing tents. I was handed my bag along the way. I applied the chamois cream, donned my helmut, sunglasses, stuffed my tri top pockets with nutrition, and ran to my bike. I started the MyAthlete Live tracker, put on the tracker, donned my shoes, and headed for the exit. The ride was on.

The Ride

I immediately drank some OSMO and water. I ate one of my energy balls and pedaled away. John Hanna had planted a seed that I should push the ride a bit with a target of 17.2 mph. I pushed it alright to the tune of 19.1 mph. I did pass people fairly frequently. I moved my placement in the race from 2131 to 1151, gaining 980 positions. I saw Teresa at the aid station she was working at. That added a boost to my spirits.

Like Louisville in 2012, some lunatic had placed tacks on the course and a number or riders were impeded by flats. I was fortunate again. Of course, since this race was in Tennessee, that invited tons of "rednecks" comments from fellow participants. Since this has happened in a number of races, Ironman and others, I don't think we can blame "rednecks". It is the work of jerks; I prefer a pejorative term associated with a portion of the human anatomy responsible for the elimination of solid waste. The sabotage didn't end there. Someone had also dumped oil on 2 portions of the route. Personally, I think there are 2 likely possibilities or explanation for such behavior. It could simply be a prankster that finds joy in the misery he can cause others. Or, it could be a protest against an event that has brought cyclists to the area as we prepared for the race or for the disturbance of the race day itself, or both. Some people are just selfish and mean. Not necessarily "back woods" and stupid as some would seem to associate with "redneck". This is not a dumb hick in the south problem. It is a mean person problem, IMHO.


Again, I had minimized as much as possible. I removed my cycling shoes, helmut, and sunglasses. I donned my socks, running shoes, cap, racing bib, ate a crustable, put more nutrition in my rear pockets, and hit the run course.

The Run

I left T2 in 1151st place and ended the run in 1439th place, out of 2233, the 36th percentile (up from the 5th percentile in Louisville 20120. So, I lost 288 positions on the run. In fact, for the first few miles of the run, there seemed to be a steady stream of runners passing me. But, I soon seemed to settle into a position where I was essentially running with the same folks. I managed to never really walk except for the aid stations and on the last climb of the run when I noticed I was being passed by walkers. I was able to end that by walking briskly as well. I did nearly leave the course once. There was a short, like 2 car lengths, in/out loop that was an aid station. I tried to skip the u-turn. The volunteers gently grabbed my shoulders and steered me in the right direction. I ran steady.

I saw Betsy and the Vulcan Triathlete support crew several times on the run and they provided an awesome boost to my spirit. I also saw Dawn Cochran under a bridge just after special needs. I was walking as I ate my crustable. She yelled out that I was doing awesome. I, because I felt compelled to explain why I was walking, yelled back "I will run again as soon as I finish eating". To which, she again reminded me that I was doing great. Soon thereafter, Stephanie passed me. She was looking great. I saw Al Schlosser near the end of the race.

As I approached the finish line knowing that I had just cut over 3 hours from my last Ironman time, I was ecstatic. I entered into a sprint then realized that if I were to continue sprinting I would blow by the 2 people in front of me right at the finish line. I realized that this would ruin their moment as they crossed the line, I backed off and each of us got our moment in the bright lights of the finish line.


September 28, 2014
Ironman Chattanooga
Time: 13:12:25

SwimDistance: 2.4 miles
Time: 1:09:03
TransitionTime: 7:50
CycleDistance: 115.76 Miles
Time: 6:04:35
Rate: 19.1
TransitionTime: 6:33
RunDistance: 26.2 Miles
Time: 5:44:24
Pace: 13:08
WeatherCloudy / Some rain
Temperature: 63-76°
Humidity: 90-56%

Details from Ironman's Published Results

Bob Evans

Overall Rank: 1439
Div Rank: 55
Gender Rank: 1103

General Info
Race Summary
SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 92
Total2.4 mi01:09:0301:09:0301:47/100m9215192131
BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 45 [The distance and pace are wrong]
Total112 mi06:04:3507:21:2818.43 mph459411151
RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 55
Total26.2 mi05:44:2413:12:2513:08/mi5511031439
Transition Details
T1: Swim-to-bike00:07:50
T2: Bike-to-run00:06:33

Ironman Louisville 2012 Results (for comparison)

Bob Evans

Overall Rank: 2124
Div Rank: 42
Gender Rank: 1627

General Info
Race Summary
SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 50
Total2.4 mi01:45:4801:45:4802:44/100m5016852216
BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 42
Total112 mi07:08:3809:09:2915.68 mph4215261959
RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 42
Total26.2 mi06:54:3716:22:4215:49/mi4216272124
Transition Details
T1: Swim-to-bike00:15:03
T2: Bike-to-run00:18:36
Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/louisville/results.aspx#ixzz3FGreUOjI

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Race Report: Toughman, Alabama (Half-Iron Distance): It Earned the Name

With a 6:30 start time and nearly an hour of driving time, I had an early start to the day. Up at 3:00, cooked quinoa for one of my staple breakfasts (quinoa, blueberries, greek yogurt, and walnuts). I was out the door at 4:00 and on-site at 5:00. I was the first one to pickup his packet. I felt like I stayed busy setting up transition, sunscreening, going to the potty, lubing up the nether regions to prevent chaffing, and such, but after my second potty visit, I noticed transition was TOTALLY empty of people. So, I walked towards the swim start and heard, "Two minutes to swim start!". Wow, where did the time go. And, then I noticed I did not have my Garmin 910XT on my wrist! So, I said to my self, "Self, you are going data blind today." Earlier this morning, when I grabbed the watch off of its charger and installed it on my wristband, I put it in my bag and momentarily thought, "should I just put it on...." The correct answer was "Yes", but I got it wrong. First time I ever did an event without a watch.

The swim went steady and reminded me of the obvious truth (I am a slow swimmer), but I am steady. For me, there is a special joy exiting the swim. Yes, I think "Thank God that is over, Now, I can move!" I immediately begin passing people as I run up the chute to transition. Shoes on (skip the socks), helmet, glasses, belt, and GO! The ride was comfortable and good. I passed a number of people for the first few miles and then settled in. I had my usual pass someone going downhill, get passed by them going uphill. But, they dropped me good between mile 28 and 30, a good long steady climb. Towards the end of the ride I got stuck with two women riding side-by-side (you are not supposed to do that). I didn't care that they were breaking the rules, but on the downhills when I would ride faster than they were, I had to squeeze between the yellow line and the outside edge of the line filled by the woman on the left. ANNOYING.

There was one bridge that was marked well as having a dip with bright paint. It was littered with water bottles and the road side was littered with people with flats. Fortunately, I have ridden this route quite a few times and was familiar with a good line and had no issues. I did have an issue with the water bottles distributed. They did not work well for filling my Aquacell on the go. I had to stop and take the lid off the bottle and open the top of the cell to fill. Typically, I am able to bite the lid on the water bottle, remove it, and poke it into the top of the Aquacell. I think squeeze until it overlows, toss the bottle, all before leaving the water stop area. I was annoyed at first, but after reading the race info site, I would say that the bottle pretty much matched what was described. I should have been more prepared.

The run started off well except for my urgent need to pee. I left transition and immediately turned to the right. The volunteer attending the transition exit said, "no, the course is that way". I said, "the potty is this way." He said, "yes, it is GO!" I met Al Schlosser there. We ran near each other for the whole run. Cathy Pagani was with us for most of the second half too. I saw two people end their race in the run. The first was having trouble on the edge of the road ahead of me and was being attended to by two other runners. They stopped traffic and encouraged a driver to take her for assistance. He was very happy to. I thanked him as I passed. The second was a person Al knew and I am familiar with [name left out as I wouldn't want my name mentioned]. He apparently accepted a ride from a police person due to exhaustion. As for me, I ran through the first few water stops, grabbed a cup, pinched and drank. I began stopping and drinking several cups of water, coke, and gatorade. Right choice! I ran a slow, but steady pace. With the exception of the water stops, I never walked. I have to admit though, that I NEVER thought I could run this slow. I'm not sure what to think. I remind myself that this includes time in the water stops and without the hydration, I would have had issues.

Post race, I hopped in the ice cold baby swimming pool. The Travis's (Self and Sherman) strongly suggested it and it was a good idea to aid recovery. Then, I chin-wagged with a couple of other IM Chattanooga trainees for 10-15 minutes. Then, I spent some quality time with Travis Sherman, Travis Self, Sophia Lal, and Cathy Pagani. At one point, I was really ready to leave, but the posted times did not include my total or run times. So, I waited. I witnessed the awards ceremony. Travis, Travis, and Sophia won podium spots as did Janie Davis. We all ride together in various rides and I see them a lot. I think Janie has podiumed at every race I have seen her at. After awards, I asked about the times and was directed to where the timing person was. She was very nice and wrote down all my info for me.

The Details

August 16, 2014: Toughman Alabama
Time: 6:42:15

SwimDistance: 1.2 miles
Time: 51:09
TransitionTime: 3:00
CycleDistance: 56(ish) Miles
Time: 2:58:19
Rate: 18.8
TransitionTime: 2:46
RunDistance: 13.1 Miles
Time: 2:47:03
Pace: 12:45
WeatherPartly Cloudy
Temperature: 67-89°
Humidity: 84-40%

Friday, July 04, 2014

Race Report: 2014 Peavine Falls Run

I completed the Peavine Falls Run for the fifth time today. Everything went so well, it is hard to say much. It was good to see a few of the folks I know from the community. I ran well, best in 3 years. As a reminder, I have included the elevation chart. This is a hilly course. Hard up, cool coming down and you get to do the last 1 to 1.5 mile stretch on a trail. Love this run and I'm pleased with the results.

The Details

July 4, 2014: Birmingham, AL
Oak Mountain State Park, 8.2 Miles
Peavine Falls Run
Distance:8.2 Miles
Heart Rate:159
Weather:Scattered Clouds


Personal best at this race in red.