Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Born to Tri and a Different Kind of Butt Issue

The other weekend I did the Born to Tri Sprint Triathlon, another tri in Asbury Park, NJ.  This one was a 500m ocean swim, 15 mile bike and 3.5 mile run.  It was also the same day as the NYRR Club Team Championships, which is usually a big race for Front Runners.  My running has been kind of sucky / nonexistent lately, though, so I decided to skip the race for the tri.

I went with my friend Andrew, who some of you might remember did the Jersey Shore Kickoff Triathlon with me in May.

The swim was a point-to-point swim, and the start was in the ocean (not on the beach).  I had mixed feelings about the start.  On the one hand, it meant that I didn't have to start the swim by diving into the crashing waves, a la Baywatch, which always makes me nervous.  But I also hate wasting all my energy treading water before the race even starts.  And the ocean start made the treading water even worse because the waves  kept making everyone crash into each other, and that meant getting kneed in the stomach a million times.  Very annoying.

The swim itself went very smoothly.  It was so short that it was over as soon as it started, and I was with the pack pretty much the whole time.  The bike ride was pretty uneventful, except that my bike is full of problems.  For one thing, my cyclocomputer is a piece of crap; the little sensor thing that registers how fast my wheel is spinning is held in place by just a little zip-tie, so it seems like every time I go over a small bump, it gets all out of alignment and stops telling me how fast I'm going.  Also, I've been meaning to have my bike checked out because I think there is a gear shifting problem.  When I shift from the big front gear to the small one, half of the time my chain shifts too much and falls off the gears.  Because of that, I usually just stay in the big front gear the whole time.  I'm guessing this is an easy alignment issue, so if someone knows how to fix it, please let me know.

At the end of my bike ride, I remembered advice that Chris Stoia had given me.  For about the last 20 seconds or so, I shifted my bike into the lowest gear and just spun my legs as fast as I could.  Apparently this gets your legs ready for the run by loosening them up and changing the blood flow or something.  I'm not sure I noticed a big difference, although I guess it didn't hurt.

The run for me was actually quite tough.  I haven't been running at all recently.  I was just hoping that I wouldn't have to walk--my last fun "run" the previous Wednesday turned out to be a disastrous 3-mile jog/walk (although it was around 90 degrees and humid).  However, I was happy that, as hard as the run was, I did pass a bunch of people, maybe 20 or so.  That was a good self-esteem booster.  But I did get passed by two people.  The first one was a woman.  She was fast, and just whizzed by me within the first half mile of my run.  I figured she was probably the first place woman, so I didn't really mind getting passed by her.  The second guy who passed me, though, I was annoyed about.  I passed him about 100 meters from the finish line; he looked like he was in bad shape.  But then, like 5 seconds after I passed him, he gets this burst of energy, sprints to the finish like it was a 60-meter dash, and leaves me in the dust.  I could sense that he was trying to humiliate me for having passed him.  But I didn't have the energy or desire to play his my-penis-is-so-big-because-I-smoked-you-at-the-finish game.  In retrospect, I should have just kicked his butt.

In the end, though, I was pleased with my performance.  I actually placed in the top half of my age group.  My bike and swim still need a lot of work.  But I'm getting more comfortable with both, and with practice, I think I'll see my times go down.  Here are my splits:

  • Age place     14/31
  • Overall place 81/273
  • Swim rank     23/31
  • Swim time     11:27.9
  • Swim rate     1.73
  • T-1           1:16.4
  • Bike rank     16/31
  • Bike          42:41.5
  • Bike rate     19.7
  • T-2           0:50.4
  • Run rank      11/31
  • Run time      22:45.4
  • Run pace      7:15
  • Total time    1:19:01.6

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I mentioned in my earlier post that a group of us Front Runners spent the weekend at Derek's parents' house in Lockport, NY for the 100-mile relay.  What I forgot to mention was all the tasty food Derek's mom cooked for us.  Mrs. Petti is a whiz with the Crockpot, and had prepared for us a bunch of delicious slow-cooked dishes, including a tasty barbecue pulled pork.  It was so good that it inspired me to make my own.

I had never made pulled pork before, but the recipes online all made it sound really simple.  (1) take a big-ass piece of pork, (2) cook it for hours and hours, (3) shred it, (4) add some barbecue sauce, and (5) cook it a little more.

So, I started by going to the place I always go to whenever I want a big-ass hunk of meat, Western Beef.  Despite its name, they also have every cut of pork imaginable.  I ended up getting a pork shoulder (also called a "pork butt".  It was about eight pounds of meat.  For under 10 bucks.  Wow.

When I got home, I discovered that my eight-pound butt was about four pounds too big for my crockpot.  So I broke out my ginormous 22-quart stock pot, the only thing I had that it would fit into.  Other than a chopped up onion and some bay leaves, I pretty much filled up the pot with water, threw in the butt, set it on simmer, and just forgot about it for the next six hours.

Six hours later, the meat was pretty much falling apart.  It was soooo tender.  The skin was barely any firmer than Jell-o.  (Despite being tempted to turn the skin into some tasty Chinese deliciousness, I ended up just throwing it out.  So sad!)  The meat pretty much shredded itself.  

With the meat shredded, and the bones and skin disposed of, my pork butt was able to fit in the crockpot for one final cooking, this time slathered with lots of barbecue sauce.  I cheated, and just used sauce from a bottle; it was fine.  But now that I know how easy it is to make pulled pork, and how much of the taste depends on the sauce, I'm going to make my own sauce the next time I make it.

I paired the pork with some homemade coleslaw--another first for me, but it was so easy!  Shredded cabbage and carrots, mixed together with a dressing of vinegar, lowfat mayo, salt, sugar, ground celery seeds and dry mustard.  Also, I had some cheesy grits, which were just grits boiled with some and parmesan cheese (I think chedder would have been better, though).  It turned out to be a great barbecue meal, which was almost as good as Mrs. Petti's.

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This past Sunday I did the Ray Licata Memorial Swim in Long Branch, NJ.  It was a one-mile ocean swim.  I'm becoming quite comfortable with ocean swimming now.  

The swim was pretty uneventful except for one thing: before the swim even started, I almost wound up breaking my nose.  It happened right before the race, as I was trying to get into the water for a little practice swim.  Just as I was getting in, and before I realized what was happening, a huge wave started coming right at me.  I hesitated, not knowing if I should stand or dive underneath it.  At the last millisecond, I decided to go underneath.  But it was too late.  I'm not sure what happened next, but the wave came crashing down on my head and before I knew it I had kneed myself in the face.  Ouch.  I seriously thought I broke my nose.  It hurt!  And I was bleeding a little bit.  But the shock, numbness and blood soon subsided.  Amazingly, I did not freak out about the waves after that.  Instead, I turned around, faced the waves, and went right in.

Still, not very fast, though.  I finished the one-mile swim in 34:59, which placed me 193 out of 225.  One of these days, I will break out of the bottom 25%.  Or at least the bottom 15%.

One nice thing about the race was that I ended up seeing and meeting a bunch of Team New York Aquatics people who were also doing the swim.  Afterwards, we all went to Chat & Nibble, one of my favorite breakfast spots in Asbury Park, where we celebrated our achievements with a nice cold bottle of Veuve Cliquot!

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This Saturday I'm planning a 65-mile bike ride from Newark to Asbury Park with Mike and Rachel.  We're going to stay overnight and then on Sunday morning do a one-mile ocean swim in Sea Girt, NJ.  Let me know if you'd like to join us!

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