Saturday, May 06, 2017

Race Report: 2017 Lake Guntersville Olympic: I Was a Bonehead, but Didn't Drown, Crash, or Walk


Like last year, the race began the day before. The day before, I was in Vero Beach, Florida doing my job. But, this year John is off later to hike the Appalachian Trail in Georgia with his Scout troop. I am off to this race at 4:00 am. Unlike last  year, no doom, not nausea, just a little light on sleep. I was up preparing until 11:00 pm and out of bed at 3:00 am. But, all good.

The Race

The race felt good to me. I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly I settled in for the swim. The Aqua Sphere googles I was inspired to get after seeing them at last year's Ironman Florida worked great; no leak, no fog. And, I did not swim this route despite what Garmin says. It was a two-loop swim. I did not cut it short and swim to the middled of the lake. Technology!

Despite feeling good and thinking I did well, not to mention having just aged up to the 60-65 age group, I finished 5 of 5 in my age group. In fact, relative to the whole field I was 102 of 119. And, amongst the males 80 of 86. I guess that makes me old and slow. So be it; I did it. Details from the official results.

The Bonehead: I Locked My Car Key in the Car!

I usually put my car key in a pocket in my triathlon race bag. The bag normally goes under my bike on the rack. But, after setting up transition, I decided I was so close to the car, I might as well just put the bag in the car and leave my transition area a little less cluttered. And for good measure, I made sure I locked the car. I realized this sad fact about 10 miles in the the bike. I had to repeatedly tell myself, "there is nothing you can do until you finish this." The race director solicited help from the crowd and someone call AAA for me. All ended well, and I my hero was Donnie from Cullman. 

Sophia Lal stayed to make sure I was able to get on the road. She is so sweet and caring. Afterwards, she talked me into visiting Unclaimed Baggage. Which required driving all the way around the lake or so it seemed. But, it was beautiful; Alabama has some beautiful countryside.  I didn't buy anything, but it was hard to avoid. Cool place. A late lunch with Sophia at a BBQ place. She and I had really talked in months. Then, we hit the road; me to home, she to Oak Mountain. She was trying to get there before 7:00. She passed me on the highway quite swiftly. 


May 6, 2017: Lake Guntersville
Time: 3:28:33 (45 seconds slower than 2016)

SwimDistance: .93 miles (1.5K)
Time: 32:45 (10 mins faster than 2016)
TransitionTime: 3:38
BikeDistance: 24.8 Miles (40K)
Time: 1:38:09 (11 minutes slower than 2016)
Rate: 15.7 mph
TransitionTime: 3:40 (potty break included)
RunDistance: 6.2 Miles (10K)
Time: 1:10:23
Pace: 11:55
Temperature: 50-65°
Humidity: 100-59%


I knew they were Shooting
Thought it was done

Vulcan Tri Members & Friends

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Delta's Platinum Status Offers Cattle Car Privileges: A Rant and a Canned Response

My Emotional Delta Airlines' Rant

Upon discovering that booking flights with Delta shows these lovely benefits:

This was a totally new experience. I normally book and go to where I immediately select a Comfort+ seat if available, and if not at least select a seat. And, I frequently get upgraded to first class as well. And, this while selecting the lowest cost option when shopping on Expedia. I got spoiled and hate the change. And, yes, I am a whiner.

Updated Added this lovely gem that greeted me after I checked via the Delta mobile app and tried to select a seat now that I was checked in. So much for the first bullet.

From me to Delta Airlines:

I have 4 trips booked. I booked them just as I always have. And, now the benefits for priority boarding, economy + seats upgrades, immediate seat assignment, and priority based upgrades have vanished because without my awareness the class of tickets that show up at the low end of the price scale in Expedia are E class. As you know, E class tickets offer the same benefits a cow in a cattle car gets upon boarding.

And, apparently if I booked in Delta I could select a higher class and pay a higher price for the benefits I have historically enjoyed as a Platinum SkyMiles member.. This appears to demonstrate that while I understand loyalty and have been loyal to you. You are, on the other hand, only going to maintain your loyalty to me if I pay you more money. I was mistakenly assuming that the SkyMiles Frequent Flyer program was anchored predominantly on frequency of flying with you. Which I do 26 weeks per year and would year after year for the foreseeable future. This does not include other incidental trips like vacations, conferences, business trips, etc.

I will now be shopping around for a real loyalty program and reconsider my choice after 15+ years. I expect my rewards for frequently flying with you to include priority boarding, complimentary economy + upgrades, priority based first class upgrades, and seat assignment on booking without purchasing a premium class ticket. This reward should be based on frequently flying, not paying more. I am not going to expense additional fees for additional rewards for a frequently flyer program to my employer and I am not paying them either.

You have taken a big step towards losing a loyal, frequent flyer. I am extremely annoyed and disappointed at your apparent greed. If I am going to be a cow, than any airline at any price is simply as good as another. As a cog in the wheel, I am sure my opinion matters little. My shopping practice will now be to simply select the lowest priced airline with the most convenient itinerary. I will no longer select the Delta only checkbox. My loyalty has been dismissed as a value by you. SkyMiles is now a pay more, get more program. Frequently flying with you offers little benefit on its own.

Delta's Well-Crafted, Canned Response:

Thank you for your email concerning our recent changes to Delta Comfort+ seat selection. My rant concerned much more than just "Delta Comfort+ seat selection.

We do care about our most valued customers and recognize you are certainly one of these. I'm not feeling the love. We are disheartened to hear about your displeasure with the new process. While having options to choose the type of seat to be selected when upgrading is not currently available, feedback from our travelers, especially high value customers like yourself, is constantly being monitored, tabulated and considered. Acta non verba. No guaranty can be made about the result of this review, however many Delta processes and policies have been modified or changed because of feedback received from customers. Iterum, acta non verba. 

Mr. Evans, thank you again for your support as a Platinum Medallion member and for trusting your business to us. Be assured, we will make every attempt to serve you well; we are focused on the future and look forward to our continued business relationship. Translation: we look forward to more of your cash because we are sure your choices are limited.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Race Report: 2016 Mountain Lakes Triathlon: Play like a Child


  • 2:00: Out of bed
  • 2:00 - 4:00 Cook, eat, pack
  • 4:00 Depart for Guntersville
  • 6:00 Pick up race packit and set up Transition
  • 7:30 Start race
  • 9:15 ish finish race
  • 9:15-10:15 socialize and eat
  • 10:35 depart for home
And, the Army does more than whom before 6:00 am? OK. They would have been out the door at 2:05. But, a man's gotta eat. I got to see a significant number of Vulcan Triathletes including Sophia Lal and Travis Self. I am horrible with names, so I won't list many. And, of course, my buddy John Hanna was there participating with a relay team. He does a great job leading us E3Tri athletes.

I feel much better about these results as compared to Lake Guntersville Olympic from 2 weeks ago. I pushed the ride and the run. And, felt good at the end.

I met Stephanie Farrington's mom who did her first triathlon today. Mom and daughter both got on the podium. I walked by a couple in their 50's at the last race and he was ecstatic about having just completed his first triathlon. I have to say, I just get a kick at of seeing people near my age taking on life very much like children on a playground. Get together, jump in the water, swim; jump on the bike, ride; and grab the shoes and run. Makes for a fun day.

May 21, 2016: Mountain Lakes Tri
Guntersville, AL - Sprint
Time: 1:35:46

SwimDistance: .600 Yards
Time: 14:41
TransitionTime: 2:03
CycleDistance: 16.2 Miles
Time: 48:08
Rate: 20.2
TransitionTime: 1:45
RunDistance: 3.1 Miles (5K)
Time: 29:07
Pace: 9:24
Temperature: 64-66°
Humidity: 100%



Saturday, May 07, 2016

Race Report: 2016 Lake Guntersville Olympic: A Good Excuse


The race begins the day before. The day before, I was in Vero Beach, Florida doing my job. Betsy and John were preparing to head to Decatur, Alabama for the annual State Cup soccer tournament. They leave for Decatur; I leave for home. They're in a car and I'm in a Jet. I pick up my car at the airport and swap it for the family car in a parking lot at the Colonnade in Birmingham. I sleep in an empty house despite not seeing Betsy or John for 12 days. He's got a tournament and I have a race.

First Omen of Potential Doom

I wake up before 2:00 am with an urge to use the restroom. But, while standing there doing my business I have to grab the wall because the room appears to drift below my eyes and I don't seem to be able to volitionally control it.  It looks like the video below. The video is safe for work, but if you can put yourself in my head at the time, it was disturbing.


Not to be deterred, I returned to bed grab another hour of sleep. I'm up just after 3:00 am. I prepare my staple breakfast (steel cut oats, blueberries, yogurt, and walnuts). I pack up the few things I had not packed 12 days ago. I eat. I load the car with stuff needed for the race, the weekend with the family at the soccer tournament, and the stuff I will need to hop on a plane the next day. I may, after all, not have enough time to go home again before I board the next jet to return to work in Vero Beach. We have a vendor coming in and I need to be there.

Preparation Continues

The drive is uneventful and I jammed to Chicago all the way. I arrive, get my packet, prepare the bike, and setup transition. I see a few Vulcan Triathletes including Matt Jaeh and Sophia Lal. I chatted briefly with Sophia. I popped up my changing tent, got into my triathlon kit and donned my wetsuit. And, bang it is time to get in line for the swim. So, far so good, and I feel okay.

The Race

The younger olympic males started in 2 waves and the old guys like me were called forward. Here I go:
Nearly time to get in the water...
The water had just a bit of a nip thanks to it cool temperature, but not bad. Right off the mark, my googles started leaking and I had to rotate on to my back for an adjustment.

Adjusting leaking goggles

But, it didn't take long to fix them and the leaking stopped. However, I did feel just slightly nauseous for most of the swim. Nonetheless, I pushed on. Swim done, I always love this part. I'm glad the swim is first. I am glad I can swim long distances, but I have to admit that during a race, the swim feels like a necessary evil.

The weather is perfect. I doff the wetsuit with the help from race volunteers, don bike shoes, helmut, sun glasses, and off I go. 

Ready to ride
Riding the Lake Guntersville Olympic Course
The nauseous feeling dissipated fairly rapidly during the bike and was gone when I started the run. The run is pretty hilly and mostly on a trail. 

Hilly run course
Running the Lake Guntersville Olympic course
 Judging by the smiling faces on the run and near the finish (below), perhaps I could have pushed harder. I don't look like I am suffering enough.

Nearly Done

Distance Differences

My Garmin Forerunner 910XT registered the swim and the bike as long.

  • I swam an additional 484 yards, but I path doesn't look that extreme on the map
  • I rode .7 additional miles for a total of 25.5
Looks like a reasonably accurate swim path


May 7, 2016: Lake Guntersville
Time: 3:27:45

SwimDistance: .93 miles (1.5K)
Time: 42:44
TransitionTime: 2:11
CycleDistance: 24.8 Miles (40K)
Time: 1:27:23
Rate: 17.0
TransitionTime: 2:28
RunDistance: 6.2 Miles (10K)
Time: 1:12:40
Pace: 11:55
WeatherPartly Cloudy
Temperature: 54-75°
Humidity: 94-50%


I was 17 minutes slower than last year. But, I have some good excuses. The distances went long and I had signs of illness. Wait, back it up, NO EXCUSES. It was a good day.

I had just enough time to clear my transition set up, load the car and hit the road to arrive at the soccer field in time for John's next game. I had hoped to have time to stop by and visit my friend Stephen McLamb. And, I didn't have time to enjoy the post race camaraderie and view the Vulcan Triathletes that earned podium places get their on-site recognition. But, long distance triathlon can sometimes be a selfish endeavor. I need to turn my attention to family time and go support my son's soccer performances. Off to Decatur where John's team ultimately finished in 2nd.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

2016 Statue 2 Statue: Race Report

The Race

I have done it again. This race is one of my annual events that I do if I am in Birmingham. We got back from Spring Break in New Orleans yesterday. So, I am here; I did it. I had a good race.  I saw a few of my running buds and it was nice to have a good chin wag.
The Bus Ride Over: I'm Ready
Thank you for the finish line photo.
The Finish, I'm the Guy in the Hat

The Details

April 2, 2016: Birmingham, AL
The Ellis Porch Statue to Statue
15K, 9.3 Miles
Distance:9.3 Miles
Time:1:39:44 (my watch)
Heart Rate:150
71% Humidity

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Race Report: 2015 Lake Guntersville Olympic

No frills report since it is a year later....

May 2, 2015: Lake Guntersville
Time: 3:10:34

SwimDistance: .93 miles (1.5K)
Time: 35:04
TransitionTime: 2:05
CycleDistance: 24.8 Miles (40K)
Time: 1:24:12
Rate: 18.1
TransitionTime: 3:23
RunDistance: 6.2 Miles (10K)
Time: 1:07:20
Pace: 11:03
WeatherPartly Cloudy
Temperature: 53-68°
Humidity: 94-64%