Sunday, July 26, 2009

Local Man Competes in First Triathlon

Local man competes in first triathlon

Coached by Olympic Center instructor, 46-year-old goes from his first 5K to Iron Brothers Super Sprint. By Pearl Cantrell Monitor Staff Writer GUN BARREL CITY–If you have ever thought it’s too hot outside, you’re too out of shape or too old to significantly change your level of fitness, this story is for you.Two years ago, Lance Vernon was just like most of us – in his mid-40s, working a regular job, overweight and underactive.But earlier this month, Vernon competed in his very first triathlon. Out of a field of 289 finishers, he came in 24th.

Courtesy PhotoLance Vernon (left) stands with coach William Ritter just before competing in his first triathlon.

In his age category, he came in fifth, just seconds behind third place.Two years ago, he had never run even a short distance. Now, he wants to know if he can compete again with a faster time.A year and a half ago, he quit drinking and thought, now what am I going to do?He turned to physical exercise. At 5-7 and 230 pounds, his knees hurt when he tried to jog. But this did not deter him. Vernon decided to seek help, so he joined the East Texas Medical Center’s Olympic Center, for fitness building.Besides using the weight room, he took a water aerobics class, and slowly began to try the other classes as well.It took him about a year to lose enough weight so his knees didn’t hurt anymore.While stepping up the challenge to a “fitness boot camp” session, Vernon followed instructions to run five times around the parking lot.“I’d never run that far before. I didn’t think I could do it,” Vernon told The Monitor. But he did, and that made him wonder – what else could he do?Water aerobic instructor William Ritter, 25, happens to be a triathlete himself, and that intrigued Vernon, so he asked if Ritter would be interested in coaching him.Ritter was ready for the challenge. The first thing he taught him was running.After one month of coaching, Vernon ran his first 5K, hosted by the Mabank Band Boosters in April, and his confidence grew.“He did better than I expected. I was just trying to get him to finish,” Ritter said.More than ever, Vernon wanted to do a triathlon, but he needed a bike. Well, he ended up getting a bike frame and building his own, he said. After learning the basics of bicycling safety, the training began in earnest, with a warm-up, followed by 30 minutes of hard pedaling, 10 minutes easing up and then five minutes at his very fastest.Once Vernon was doing well at riding, Ritter added running to the bike ride. Ritter calls this “a brick.”

Courtesy PhotoLance Vernon at the finish of the Jack Weiss Iron Brothers Super Sprint July 12.

He’d ride 60 to 90 minutes, and then run for 10 minutes. As his endurance grew, so did his running time.Ritter also coached Vernon in proper cool-down techniques, to elevate his legs after a workout and take ice baths or cold showers.He also taught him to eat foods with denser nutritional value.The pair of them also attended triathlon clinics that practiced swimming techniques, such as how to have a fast start.The two also trained at the Cain Center’s pool in Athens and in Cedar Creek Lake with the use of buoys. “At first, I swam just along the shoreline between two buoys before I was ready to swim out and around the third one,” Vernon said.Like Forrest Gump, Vernon was willing to take and follow directions. If Ritter said run, he ran. He didn’t question his direction; he just tried to follow it the best he could.Ritter’s coaching followed a similar pattern to the one his own professional coach used with him.“I’m glad to know that I can successfully coach someone,” Ritter said. He hopes to get a triathlon-coaching certificate in the near future.Though Vernon had lost a lot of weight in his first year of gym membership, when he began to train for the triathlon he lost 15 more pounds, and now weighs a trim 170.“A year and a half ago, I had a big beer belly,” he laughed.How does he deal with the heat? “I sweat a lot,” he answers.Vernon added his body became acclimated to the summer temperatures.“I stay outside most all the weekend. I just got used to it,” he said. “Running is my hardest thing.”Ritter’s coaching now is directed at helping Vernon build up more strength in his legs.How does Vernon feel having reached his goal?“I feel excited about myself. It’s still sinking in,” he said less than a week after the event.Vernon has already set his sites on two more triathlons, one in August and another in September.His first one, the Iron Brothers Super Sprint at Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie July 12, was relatively short, with a 400-meter swim, an 11-mile bike ride and a two-mile run.The next two are a bit more challenging. If he needed any encouragement, he has it in his fellow gym rats.Everyone at the Olympic Center seems to know about his training and his accomplishment. Perhaps it will even make his fellow fitness trainees wonder, what might they accomplish?
This week I am coming back to running and my legs are shattered, in other words walking is a chore. This week some key workouts include 3x(4x50m all out, 4x100 at race pace, 200m swim) that was tough, the 50 meter all out sprints took a lot out of me, then a 20K TT in 30:12 for 24.64 mph which beats my time of two weeks ag0 by 20 seconds when I averaged 24.37 mph, my calves were cramping up the second half and I thought I might fall over the bike because I couldn't pedal, haha, it was a lot of work trying to go up the finishing hill when both of your calves are cramped up. Then yesterday did a 6x1 mile workout on 6.30 min. send offs, I don't even wanna write asbout it. My running doesn't look good right now, but hopefully it will come back I have a race in less than two weeks.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cedar Creek Lake 70.3, Some, or Less

This is another great story of an effort by Gene Meyers who lives around Cedar Creek Lake who coordinated a 70.3 event, a midway training point of his quest for the iron distance triathlon at Redman in Oklahoma later in September. He invited friends out to help him complete it. They could either could do some, all, or just parts of it. We were blessed with great starting temps for the morning. I just did the bike ride for 3.75 hours with my 62 year old buddy Jim McCan from Athens. We took turns pulling each other for 2.75 hours or so then I did the last hour with a good effort by myself. There were about 9 particpants total who did all, some, or just parts of the s/b/r 70.3 distance. Gene also had a few volunteers on hand which were a great help as the weather got hotter to pass out water, powerade, and gels...

and let me not to forget to mention a great cook we had on hand who cooked some great hamburger patties and links on the grill. Gene finished in just under 8.5 hours a bit shy of his goal due to some cramps but he got through it with smiles on in the end.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Way to Go Lance!

From a former beer guzzler and former gym quitter, congratulations Lance Vernon you are a triathlete

! This weekend my buddy Lance did the Iron Brothers Super Sprint triathlon this weekend in the DFW area one of Jack Weiss races of Ironhead Race Productions. It was a 400m swim, 11 mile bike and a 2 mile run. He finished in 57.46 after 5 weeks of specific training under my guidance, in that time he lost 12 pounds in 5 weeks so he is down after a long plateau of 185 to 173. He will lose more weight too, because he will have some big bikes coming up in a couple of weeks. His girlfriend's brother n law was out there too and said he mounted that bike like a "wild cowboy". Anyways he came out strong after the swim and mounted the bike like I taught him, like a "wild cowboy" he had a good bike of 21.6 mph, the run hurt but he got through it with a good sprint at the end. He was competitive in his age group of 45-49 finishing 5th in it and he wasn't far behind everyone else in it and 24th OA out of 289 people. He has worked very hard, he even pretty much built his bike all the way up, so now I have bike mechanic in the area ;)

I've been on bummed foot since BSLT 70.3, but it is better now. Lesson learned is to never run without your orthotics. I've done a few water runs in the lake and I'll start running again this weekend. This week has been a lot of biking with a 20k TT earlier this week, finished in 30.32 of 24.37 mph and some VO2 intervals on Friday and long hard bikes on Saturday and Sunday in the heat. Sunday's ride I put down 8+ bottles of fluid. I called Tab half way through the bike and said it would be really nice if you brought some cold water out here. Then she followed me for another hour to make sure I was gonna be alright and I guzzled more water.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Recovery Ride Blowout

The other day I rode with my good buddy Lance who I have been helping get ready for his first triathlon next week in Grand Prarie, Tx (DFW). I was on a recovery ride and he had a 60-75 minute hilly hard ride. So I figured I could stay easy if I just draft behind him the whole way. Well, I was wrong he dropped my tried BSLT 70.3 legs like a bad habit and I was on spinning very slowly and in the granny ring to get up those big hills. I turned around early so I ride even slower getting back and going up this hill my mental speed radar said I was about 0.5 mph and BOOM! Sounded like a small beebee gun was shooting at me. I had a flat.
I should have chunked this tire long time ago (like a year ago) but I rode it past it's death.
It was a long walk so I got bored and starting moo-ing at cows.

It was a long walk back.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon 70.3 Ironman

Nowhere, West Texas, USA on the way to Lubbock

Thuggin' out in my passenger seat
I decided to grow some hair for this race.
Tab helping me prep the Spanish Beauty
Out of T1 after my picnic 'bout to head up a huge hill
(courtesy of Aaron Patel)
Out of T2 onto a half to do a hilly half marathon

Paul Matthews, Overall Winner 4:01.26, 26yo Aussie living in Boulder, CO

The band at the awards banquet, that girl could sing

Top 6 Pro Men

Top 6 Pro Women, Overall Winner was Amy Marsh ,31 yo out of Austin, TX (husband Brandon was 4th)

'The' Voice of Ironman, Mike Reily

As you may know by now this weekend I competed in my final race for this half of the season the Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon 70.3 Ironman. I was competing for a spot to the Foster Grant 70.3 Ironman World Championships this year in my 25-29 age group, I did get a roll down spot but however after finishing 6th and a slower time than I was going for I decided to turn it down and get faster next year. So with that said....

We made it to Lubbock and followed the VP of East Texas Triathletes, Steve Farris around in circles and out and back with multiple U turns scouting out the race site, finding the hotel, and a nice LARGE Spaghetti and Meatball (and lots of breadsticks) dinner at Olive Garden.

Race morning was off to a bad start already instead of waking up at 3:45 a.m. we should have been up at 3 a.m., because parking at the park was a pain to get into. Then as I am about to warmup I forget to put my timing chip on, so I had to run back to the car barefooted, up the huge hill you bike up put the timing chip on and run back down.

The water was 74 or 77 I think. Anyways it wasn' that cold but it was wetsuit legal. I thought I might overheat in my wetsuit but never did. I was warm but didn't feel too hot. I thought I had got off to a good start. I was passing people left and right but never could find someone consistent to draft off of. I got out of the water in 36.30 something a lot slower than I was expecting, but some peope say there was a lot of chop, but I didn't really notice. I was focusing on a good long stroke. Coming out into T1 I passed my rack up twice. I finally saw my bike and went under another rack to get to it.

On the bike there was a huge hill you bike up. I took my time going up that hill and then it was on. A pack of four of us broke out but I got dropped early. My legs didn't respond fast enough, but that's ok we still had like 50 more miles to go. I did sorta baby the first half of the bike more than I probably should have. There 8 huge long climbes from like 7-10% grade or so. The wind was constant around 15 mph or so I heard and then it started raining pretty good midway through the bike and we had to go back down a lot of these hills too that had pretty sharp turns. I didn't wreck but I thought I was going to crash into these other guys going up. Near the last 10 miles or so of the bike a pack got together (sorta legally). I was in the back when the lead guy dropped all of us. I put on a gutsy surge to catch him, but never did but had him very close in site was we flew by other cyclist. I could have caught him at the end but I didn't wanna wreck going down that huge hill at the end and I was stretching my legs and in a lighter gear getting ready for the run. I finished the bike in 2 hrs 34 min with a 21.8 avg.

In T2 my running shoes were soaked from the rain and I realized I only had put one orthotic in my shoes so I tossed out the one and ran without them and now my arch is hurting but hopefully it will be better in a few days. The first 3 miles of the run I was right on the pace I wanted to run about a 6.10 a mile, about 18. 28 at 3 mile mark. However, right after is when the first huge hill started and that took a lot out of a lot of people. My times then became 7 minute miles. There were 3 steep hills in this run and one not so steep but real long and gradual it was around 6-7 miles. The last hill I took it easy and stayed behind this 41 year old guy then I "took off" to a 7 minute mile pace again for the last 3+ miles. The 41 yo almost came back with a good chase but I used what speed I had left in the last mile to hold him off. When I stopped running I almost fell forward but the volunteers caught me so that was good. I finished the run in just under 88 minutes.

The end result was 52nd overall/901 finishers and 6th/71 in the 25-29 age group. Overall time was 6 and half minute PR 4:42.30. Why is Joe Thorne not in the pro division?

I owe a lot of thanks to Jesus Christ for getting me through the hardest half I've ever done. To my girlfriend Tab who did A LOT for me, driving, taking pictures, carrying things, standing in the rain and not worrying abouther hair. Super job!!! Duke Gill for the room and the guys at Colonels for getting me hooked up in the last few days. Shirley Green for making me a huge good luck card! To my coach Brent Poulsen (he finished 12OA in 4:17), without him and his guidance I probably would have ended up on crutches before the starting line. I'm still finalizing the next half of the season schedule, I'll post it soon.