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2010 Possum Trot Race Report

Today marked my 3rd or 4th running of the Possum Trot along the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Ga. The course is fairly flat and fairly fast, and is a qualifier for the annual Peachtree Road Race. This combination makes for a large turnout for the charity race that supports the Chattahoochee Nature Center. My day started with crappy sleep overnight. Guess I have a lot of stress going on right now and that affected me. When I woke up I wasn’t really hungry either, but choked down a peanut butter bagel to get some energy flowing. A large americano from Starbucks about an hour later really awakened me and got me ready to run.

This was the 32nd running, and included chip timing for all participants. The d-tag system makes chip timing easy and affordable for race directors and gives everyone¬†a finish time as if they ran a personal time trial. Many events use “gun time” which stinks if there are 1000 people and it takes you several minutes to even see the start line after the gun goes off. This makes this race even more attractive. There seemed to be some logistical issues with the placement of the mats. There was a fun run before the 10k and I think some 10k folks were too close to the finish mats and tripped the timing. We also had to avoid the finish mats in the first 1/4 mile of the race – leading to a bottleneck of runners as 2 lanes were reduced to 1. These are things that should be easy to iron out for next year though.

I can speak for the last 5 years and say the course has remained unchanged. I’ve included the map and elevation profile¬†below and it is the same route that I’ve seen run since 2006. As I mentioned before, the course is fairly flat. When you turn onto azalea drive and pass the 1.5 mile mark, the sun hits you in the eyes and on a warm, humid day like today can really wear you down. I pushed through this section and was averaging 8:15 miles through the first 3 miles. I walked the 2 water stops that were out there to hydrate and turned in an overall time of 54:02. This is good enough to get me in the time group 1B section of Peachtree if I do no other qualifiers before next year’s registration (unlikely as that may be).

In all it was a great day. Not a PR for me but probably the best 10k I have run since starting to work at McKesson. My weight is back to where it was when I interviewed there, and I think I have finally found a balance that lets me get in ~10 hours a week of training while still taking over the world. The next 2 months will be the test as I prepare for several big races on my Fall schedule.

Thanks for stopping by!

Update 6/20/2010: Official results are found here. They have me at 54 minutes even. Makes sense – I can’t start and stop my watch exactly on the timing mats. I was 30/62 in my age group. I’m pretty happy with that considering I had a couple of gears left in me that I didn’t use.

2010 Possum Trot Course Profile

Weekly Training Review

This week marked the continuation of my ramp up. Yes, the athlete awakened a few weeks ago – but there are a couple of metrics that still need to come into line. Here are the totals for the week:

Swim – 4000 meters. I had 2 days of 1500 meters and the Monday after the race I only did 1000. I need to get some form fitting swim shorts from Tyr or someone because the ones I currently swim in have a lot of drag. The key is for them to be chlorine safe. I have ruined a number of pair in the pool already.

Bike – 43 Miles. This was all in one ride. I need to work on getting my routine back of at least 1 weekday ride so that I can ramp this mileage up better.

Run – 19 Miles. I’m pretty pleased here. All of these runs have been around the 12 noon hour. Not one was under 80 degrees. I’m definitely getting heat trained. The calendar says Spring but the thermometer definitely says SUMMER.

Weights – 30 minutes. Worked on my back and shoulders. Need to get some more core work in.

So that’s the week looking back. A total of 8 hours and 40 minutes of training. My goals for next week are to 1) Cross the magical 10 hour threshold, 2) Get at least 1 brick in during the week, and 3) Get a 2nd weights workout during the week with some core work. 

Easing My Fear of Ocean Swimming

I am looking to race in a few events that have open water swims in the ocean. The only time that I have swam in the ocean has been on vacation – and it was more play time than actual swimming. Clearly one of my concerns is in navigating the open waters and staying on course. The other major concern is being stung by jelly fish.

I don’t know why this worries me so much. I have never been stung by one before, and have really only seen them in dead form on the beach. It probably has something to do with my mother’s worrisome nature and the tales of my brother being stung while on vacation when he was younger. Either way, it does weigh heavily on my mind. 

Enter pantyhose. Evidently, the nylon forms a protective barrier that protects the body from jelly fish stings. I guess I don’t really need to cover my arms and legs in pantyhose but rather by a nylon skin suit that I could wear while practicing. This is definitely something worth looking into.

The attached article goes into more detail, and also has handy info on what to do if you get stung:

If you forgo the suit and end up getting stung, bust out the blow dryer—assuming you were stung by the irritating and not life-threatening kind of jellyfish— and use a trick a friendly lifeguard taught me. Fire up a blow dryer and hold it as close to the site of the stings on the hottest setting you can stand (don’t burn yourself) and then fan it back and forth over the affected area. The blow dryer dries out the stingers without activating them—like drying to rinse them off with fresh water would. Once you blast the area with heat you can use a safety razor or credit card to scrape the stingers off.

I would’ve never thought of that. Going through these scenarios in my mind is really helping to coax me back to the beach. I always feel more comfortable when I have a plan in my mind and have thought through what could go wrong. 

Read More -> Use Pantyhose to Protect Yourself From Jellyfish Stings

Building a Platform – Reductive Feature Design

I have spent a lot of time over the past year (really over the last 20 years) looking at the keys to success and failure that have been experienced by certain technologies and platforms. Many product organizations take a kitchen sink approach to delivering features in their product. This can lead to a “jack of all trades, master of none” perception in the marketplace. It can also confuse users as to exactly a product should do. On the flip side, you have groups that release products that seem to be incomplete.

Right now I am a fan of Apple and its approach over the past decade to personal electronics. They seem to have taken the approach of delivering a chunk of value, letting people adjust to it, and then have the customers say “it would be really nice if this thing did x.”  iPhone OS 3 gave us the ability to cut / copy / paste. This function point has been ubiquitous in computing for the past 2 decades, and yet Apple decided not to include it in the original release. The same is true with multitasking – even the Palm platform in the mid 90’s allowed a form of multi-tasking (such as it was) and yet Apple it’s waiting to the 4th generation of it’s OS to make it available.

When you first look at this, you may think “Gee, they just wanted to lock in a monetary stream of upgrades.” But if you think further, they have really been delivering fully baked features at the time they really become needed. When the iPhone app store first opened, there weren’t enough apps with functionality that would make you want to multitask. Who knew how quickly apps would catch on that people would want to copy / paste? Apple has done a great job of delivering features at a pace that allows the ecosystem to adjust, and the customers to understand how to use it.

Hopefully, on the next generation of our intranet platform, we can duplicate this success. For now, I’m calling it reductive feature design and I think that it can be viewed through the lens of technical and organizational readiness. If either of those two factors truly aren’t ready to introduce the feature, it should be removed from the version stream and placed into the backlog. Now to pitch it to the rest of the folks and see if it flies…

2010 Macon Rock N Rollman Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Threatening skies over the transition area
at the Macon Rock & Rollman triathlon

Originally uploaded by Iron Mike Schubert

Today was a great day for racing, unlike yesterday when the attached photograph was taken. The water was a warm 81 degrees, the skies were partly cloudy, and I felt prepared to race. My pre-race routine was uneventful, and I arrived at the race site with plenty of time to lube my chain, air up my tires, and make a couple of trips to the port a johns.

I wasn’t doing the half iron distance for a change this year, so I had plenty of time after transition closed to get to the water and warm up. During this time, two small things happened. First, the race start was delayed by about 20 minutes for some unexplained reason. I think this hurt me a little early on the bike because I had timed out my nutrition needs based on the published schedule. Second, I was bit by a fish twice. It’s nit uncommon to feel smaller fish bumping into you in the water trying to figure out whether you are food, but this was a bigger fish that could actually grab onto my calf. No big deal in the grand scheme of things, but an interesting side story.

Swim 750 meters. I completed the swim in 13:09. I’m very happy with my execution in the water. My sighting was almost perfect and straight. I passed a bunch of folks and although my wave was big I never felt crowded. My water position was close to textbook. Again, water temp was 81 degrees so that meant everything was up to me, there was no wetsuit helping my form out today. This leg was over before I knew it and I had my cap and goggles off in one motion and ran up to T1.

Bike 15 miles. My ride time was just over 45 minutes, with an average speed of 19.6 mph. I’m very happy with my execution on the bike. I had to eat a little earlier than planned (18 minutes in instead of 30 minutes) but that probably worked out for the best. It just came on an uphill where I lost some momentum that would have otherwise kept me at a 20 mph pace. I was aero somewhere around 70% of the time, probably due to tight hamstrings. I need to work on those over the coming months. Before I knew it, I was back at transition and flew through in just over a minute – another well executed segment of my race.

Run 5 kilometers. By the time the run started, the temperature had reached the 80’s and the sun was starting to beat down. I don’t think it had much effect on me based on miles 2 and 3, but the first mile really stunk. I had to run / walk to try to find a good rhythm and could feel my race slipping away. Fortunately, by the time I reached the turnaround point I had found my stride and was able to turn in a 29:40 run segment. It wasn’t the best executed run I’ve ever done, but it did the trick.

My overall time was 1 hour 32 minutes. The best case scenario I had in my head was 1 hour 35 minutes so I’m very pleased to have beaten that. This was the first triathlon of my 2010 race season and I don’t think it could have been any better. I’m really looking forward to getting back into my summertime swim, bike, run pattern that has shown so much success over the past few years. There are at least 3 more tris on the calendar, with 1 or 2 at the half iron distance, so it will be great to measure my progress at the end of the season off today’s baseline.