Friday, April 30, 2010

Catching Up...

This one's gonna be quick....    I just got back from a few days in Washington DC for work.  I'm happy to say I got quite a few quality workouts in.  Here's how the week went.


Woke up in the AM and headed to McDermott pool to meet my coach Jacki for a swim lesson.  It was my first time at McDermott and I liked the pool.  It was nice and big and there were more lanes available which was nice.  Jacki and I spent the session continueing to work on body position in the water.  Still no arm movements.  We spent a lot of time working on refinining the rolling drill we've been working on.  I think I made some good progress in the class but it still feels like I have a long way to go before I'll have a complete freestyle stroke put together.  Which is ok, but I'm starting to worry I won't have it done in time for me to really get some distance training in with before my first sprint.  I need to be sure and ask her when she thinks we'll get to that point and reevaluate my training schedule accordingly.  I'm also desperate to learn some more drills so I don't feel like such a dork in the pool when I do my one drill and then leave.

I went straight from the pool to the airport.  And then once at my hotel headed down to the hotel pool which was easily 25 yards long and empty and practiced my new drill for thirty minutes and then sat in the hot tub for a bit.  So that was a good day.


Up at 445am and at the gym.  I did thirty minutes on the elliptical and then thirty minutes on a spin bike.  A nice cardio workout.  It was good to get on the elliptical and begin to feel whats its like to be in a running sort of motion again.  Speaking of which...   on Monday the third I meet with the podiatrist and hopefully get clearance to start running again.  Fingers crossed!

I then worked from 8AM-11PM.  long day!


Worked from 7AM-6PM, and then went to the gym.  I did an hour of injury free stregth training!  It felt like a 'breakthrough' workout!  It was the first time I have been able to follow a strength training workout in a while and feel like I didn't aggrevate or hurt anything which was great.  I followed a new strength training routine from a new triathlon book I just bought that I really liked.  It felt challenging, and more importantly it felt like it was really designed to keep all my muscle groups balanced, and build a nice strong foundation to work off of.  My whole reason for getting into triathlons is to be a better balanced athlete.  No more just running, running, and running.  I really enjoyed the workout in the book so I'm looking forward to trying to do it two times a week.  The book also has two other routines as well meant to build towards so I'm looking forward to trying those out in a month or so. 

After the gym I went upstairs to change clothes and then got in the pool for 15 minutes of the drill, and then 20 minutes in the hot tub.  good stuff!  All this was followed up with some stretching and some liberal use of "the stick" and I felt really good afterwards, and even felt good the next day.  The nice thing about a workout designed by a triathlete coach is that its designed to not leave you feeling thrashed and too sore to do other workouts the next day so that was great.

After the gym I headed out to meet up with some coworkers and drank far too much wine.  Considering I haven't had a cocktail since the two beers post marathon, and before that it had been months the wine went straight to my head!  But it was worth it as the company was great.  And we all have to splurge every now and then.  No more alcohol for me though till after my first tri.

Friday (today) was a long long day that started early and ended with me flying home.  So no workouts today.  But I did get my bike prepped for a 50 miler in Newport tomorrow AM so I'm looking forward to that.  So now your all caught up!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Theres a Bike In Them There Hills!

This is the way my crazy life works...

Saturday morning I rode 51 miles on the bike.  (see my previous post), got home and showered, and then headed north to Boston to go to work, picked up my friend and coworker Will at the airport and headed to the gig.  Went out for thai food, went for a nice long walk and then went to bed.  Worked 6am-6pm on Sunday, got dinner and went to bed.  Monday (today) I was up at 5:15, showered, packed, walked to starbucks, and then went to the gig.  Worked from 630am-10:45am and then left Boston headed to Providence.

Got to Providence at Noon and went straight to the YMCA and got in the pool.  Did a frustrating 20 minutes of drills in the pool.  Why frustrating?  because my swim fins haven't arrived yet and the only drills Jacki has given me to do all involve fins.  I'm learning that without them the drills don't really work as you just can't keep yourself properly balanced in the water without some form of propulsion beyond just your bare feet with no arm movements.  So that was almost a wasted workout.  In fact I felt embarrased as I had to keep putting my feet on the floor of the pool to stop and breath and who knows how silly I looked.  I can't wait till I can actually swim some form of freestyle stroke or my fins show up so I can get some real pool workouts in on my own and not look so silly floundering about in the pool.  Especially as it seems like the swimmers there are pretty hardcore and a tiny bit elitist.  So I want to get myself into that world quickly so I don't feel so much on the outside of it.

After that I went to City sports for some retail therapy.  I bought some Nike Lunar Glides to be my 5K / sprint tri shoe of choice hopefully as they have lovely cushioning and yet are very lightweight.  And then got some new swim trunks and more bike shorts.

Then it was home and into bike clothes and out my front door on the bike.  I decided today was time for a hill workout so I pointed the bike towards the hills of smithfield.  I wanted a hill workout and I got one!  Some giant hills on the road.  All of which I managed to fight my way up.  In fact I really enjoyed them in the end despite the effort it took to get up them!  Descending however I need to work on.  It freaks me out to be close to 30mph while cars are passing me a foot away going 40.  I just need to keep being carefull and trying to ride just outside of my comfort zone.  Not so far outside that I'm freaked, but enough that I'm slowly increasing the size of my comfort zone and getting faster.  My bike feels great at speed and it feels really solid, but it still worries me that I will hit a pothole and its all over at that speed.  That combined with the fact my health insurance doesn't start up till May 1st has me nervous not to get hurt till at least then!

Heres the speed, cadence, and elevation graphs for today's ride.

Not too shabby eh?  Certainly room for improvement, but a decent ride none the less.  And its nice that I recorded it so I can run the same route again and again and chart how I do.  Hard to see speed results though with traffic.  There were also two car accidents and a school letting out that had traffic moving really slowly and not much room to get around cars.  So there were some pretty slow bits in there.  Speaking of cars...    cars worry me!  Its amazing how little people notice runners and cyclists.  There were several times I put the brakes on mid descent because I knew someone hadn't seen me and I didn't feel like going over their hood when they pulled out in front of me.  There was another guy looking down at his cell phone and texting while he pulled into the road who totally didn't even look up to see me or any other oncoming traffic for that matter.  IDIOT!  A woman I made distinct eye contact with before turning onto the rotary at the same time as her who tried to run me off the road despite the fact I was half a bike's length in front of her.  Providence is going to be the death of me!  But at least I'll die happy.

Next up tomorrow morning is another swim training session with coach Jacki and then off to Baltimore for whats going to be a long week.  Speaking of long weeks...  Not being able to run is cramping my workouts on the road.  Its tough when your work schedule is 6am-8pm and the gym or pool isn't open 24 hours, or closes at 8pm.  Normally I'd fall back to running on those days, but not being able to run makes that impossible.  So its a tricky balance.  So I suppose it will be back to trying to do yoga in my hotel room again or something similar.  We'll see.

Oh and in other random news...    I really like "The Stick" massager.  It showed up the other day.  Seems to work really well and has been helping my calf/hamstring on my right leg after bike rides feel 100% quickly.  Hopefully it keeps that up.

And keep your fingers crossed for me.  May third is my appointment with the podiatrist where he hopefully gives me clearance to start running again!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

51 Mile Ride!

As a distance runner you sort of get locked into the concept that on the weekends you do your "long" run.  Traditionally done at a semi relaxed pace and for me the distances vary from 13-20 miles for the long run depending on where I am in the training cycle.  Not being able to run since the marathon on 3/20 means I've been itching to get that same endurance fix for a while now. 

So I've been looking to the bike to get those lately.  Mind you I've only had my bike for two and a half weeks or so now, and I was away for a week of that time.  But I did manage to progress up to the 30 mile mark before I went away.  Since getting back I've done a bunch of 17 mile rides to get my legs moving.  But today I wanted to go for a long sustained effort.  Something to give me the "long run" fix.

So I was up at 530AM and out the door and on the bike by 6AM.  Today was a good test for me.  I chose a route with some nice hills in it, but nothing over the top, predominantly flat, and with a mix of road and traffic conditions.  So it was a good all round ride.

I rode through the downtown area and towards India Point Park where I had to ride around for a bit until I figured out where you can gain access to the walking/bike path that goes over the bridge that houses Rt. 195.  I was surprised to see the bridge has this bike ramp thingy.  So you can actually stay on your bike and ride up the switchbacks and down the narrow path on the top of the bridge and it spits you out across the river right at the entrance to the bike path!  Very convenient!  You can see the bike ramp and the highway below.

Once over the bridge and onto the bike path I was on my old familiar stomping grounds.  I followed the bike path with the exception of the detour I took to ride around Colt State Park that the bike path runs through.  Where I had to ride through a giant pack of geese who all took off as I rode through them.  That was interesting.  I've startled a few birds before, but not a couple of hundred of them.  Here are some shots of the birds, as well as me at Colt State Park.  At this point about 20 miles in and still smiling.

Then I followed the bike path into Bristol and then followed 114 to the Mt. Hope Bridge.  This is a one lane in each direction bridge that bikes are allowed on.  At the time it seemed like a good idea.  However once I was riding up it it became apparent that there was no sidewalk, no place to stop at all without being very much in the way of traffic, no place to take a picture (which is too bad as the view was great!) and there were also lots of bike eating giant teeth like expansion joints (with 2" wide gaps open to the ocean below) that kept trying to swallow my tires.  But I made it over without issue.  Unless you consider fear of cars being way too close for comfort an issue.  I can't blame them though... theres not a lot of wiggle room on the bridge and two cars and a cyclist barely fit.

BUT!  I made it over the bridge and into Portsmouth RI where I pulled over for a quick stop to take off the leg warmers as the intial 45 degree temps had climbed to mid 50's or so by now.  I promptly jammed the leg warmers between my seat and my saddle bag and headed back home.  I did take a moment to realize that I was 25.5 miles from my house.  I felt like that was pretty awesome.  I love that the I powered myself to being that far away.  I also love that the only way to get back was getting on the bike and getting going!

Back over the bridge where the evil bike eating expansion joints showed another talent.  They are also good at shaking your leg warmers out from where you thought they were securely stashed.  So they blew into the road (it was really windy at the top of the bridge) and into opposing traffic.  There was no stopping to get them.  Sigh.  There goes twenty bucks.  Worse yet they probably were blown right off the bridge and into the ocean.  Ugh.  Sorry!

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventfull.  I wasn't super speedy, but I did keep a nice steady cadence and enjoyed myself!  AND...   more importantly I got my endurance fix for the week.

And now my crazy life has me off to Boston for work, coming home Monday late morning just in time for some laps at the Y, then home for one night, swim session with my coach on Tuesday morning, and then off to Baltimore tuesday afternoon for the week.  Oy!  This is the craziness that is my life.

But moments out on the road like the one below are what keep me smiling.  I really do live in a very beautifull place.  I'm lucky I can wake up, get on my bike and ride to views like this one....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Its all starting to come together!

This morning I had another lesson in the pool with Jacki Hirsty.  Today was the first time things started to click for me.  Theres still a long way to go but the foundation we built in the first class is starting to make sense with what we covered today.  Still so much to think about though!  I find myself focusing on one detail of the stroke and losing concentration on another.  So I think about head position and then my legs start bending and sinking.  Its hard to keep it all straight!  BUT...   I was really happy that at the end of the class we worked on a drill that really is starting to feel like a freestyle stroke.  It doesn't have the full arm movement, and I still have to wear flippers to keep moving but its darn close to a real stroke and that feels like progress.  So before I forget heres what I need to remember to do during the drill.

Things to remember:
Head Position!  Keep my head looking down, not forwards.
Rotate at the Hips keeping my shoulders square
Chest out and pointed down at the bottom.
Back slightly arched
Glutes Tight
Feet Pointed


Deep Breath
Swim forwards with arms outward and angled slightly downwards
look down
kick while keeping legs rocked... almost more rocking back and forth at the hips than kicking
Slide one arm back and at my side while the other stays facing forwards
Rotate at the hips so that the arm facing backwards is raised out of the water.
Keep looking down, with shoulders square to the bottom
Slide backwards arm up the side of my body till it touches the arm pointing forwards
Only when my arms meet can I pull the other arm back and rotate to the other side.
To breathe keep both arms facing forwards, kick harder and raise head out of water to breath then resume stroke.

Ok...   so theres everything I can remember before I forget it all.

So essentially what that drill leaves me with is a solid practice of body position in the water keeping it level, rocking back and forth at the hips and some basic arm movement pacing.  Good stuff!  I suspect we will kepe drilling this for a while and the next step will be to introduce some arm movement and propulsion so I can lose the flippers.  We'll see though.

I swallowed a LOT of water today.  I need to get in the habit of exhaling through my nose over a long period of time.  I'm getting there, but I exhale too quickly and then when I rotate I'm pulling water in through my nose.  Not a pleasant sensation!  I feel like theres two gallons of pool water in my stomach and sinuses currently.  Its not a great feeling!  But I'm excited that I'm doing this the right way and learning proper technique.

In other news my bike is in the shop for its 150 mile tuneup for the shop to tighten and check everything now its got a little distance on it.  With any luck I'll pick it up tonight.

Tomorrow's challenge?  I'm thinking a 50 mile ride.  Or at least 40 to beat my longest ride to date of 30 miles.  Now I need to figure out where I'm going to do that.  Time is short tomorrow so I'll have to leave early and get back before I head to Boston for a couple of days for work.  But on the plus side the hotel has a gym with a lap pool in it!  Perfect!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Toys!

A nice box of goodies just showed up from

The most anticipated of which was my new wetsuit!  Forgive the blury photo...   and thats not my kitchen either.  My downstairs neighbor was kind enough to help me get it zipped up and take a photo.  Thanks Jen!

As well as that a new tri suit, new LG Tri style bike shoes and cleats, a raincoat to wear on the bike, a race belt, and some more yankz laces to fit on my running shoes.  I now understand why people slather themselves with body glide before putting a wetsuit on.  When your first trying it on you can't use any, and it was not easy getting that thing on!  Not to mention its like a rubber oven in there!  But it makes me want to get up to speed faster in the pool so I can get some open ocean swims in.  But thats still a ways off...   ok.  Back to work for me.  Sorry the photo is a little blury!

My First Brick Workout

Well...   ok maybe not so much a brick as a small paving stone...   or really more like a decorative pebble.  But technically it did involve two disciplines. 

This morning I got up at 4:50AM and was out the door headed to the Y Pool by just after 5.  I was in the pool by 5:30 AM.  Ok...   so I'm in the pool now what?  I was told not to do any freestyle until I had learned the full technique so thats out.  But I am allowed to practice the rolling drill I learned yesterday.  But my fins haven't arrived yet so that drill was tricky as the only propulsion is from the kick.  Which without fins is not terribly fast.  But I did three lengths of the pool with the rolling drill and then got out.  Only about a ten minute workout.  But the pool was filling up fast and I felt a little awkward doing this inneficient drill and weaving a bit from side to side in my lane as others were quickly having to share lanes as more people showed up.  In fact all five lanes filled up and some had two people in them by 5:40.  Ten minutes after the pool opened.  So I headed back to the changing room and threw on my bike clothes and then headed out on the bike.  Not a great swim workout but I really need to learn more from Jacki before I go too much further.  But at least I got in the water that has to count for something right?  Its a start.

On the bike I headed down to blackstone boulevard again.  I was warmed up and cranking by 6am.  It was nice being out as the sun was rising.  Very pretty out there.  I did the first lap of the boulevard as a warmup but I was up to speed by the back half.  On the second lap I started thinking I need to start getting some hill time in.  So every lap after that when I crossed Rochambeau I would turn and tackle the hill, and then head back down it and resume my lap.  I LOVE the way this bike feels on hills.  Not that I have much to compare it to.  But I like that feeling when you stand up on the pedals and fight your way up the hill.  It makes me smile.  So I did that hill three times and did four laps of the boulevard and then back to the car for a total of 17 miles.  Stupidly I forgot my garmin so no data beyond time and distance for me today unfortunately.  Oh well.  Clearly I'll have to be more carefull when packing up my stuff the night before as theres no way I'm going to remember anything at 5AM!

All in all a nice morning....   and getting up at 5am to go train makes me feel strong and dedicated.  I like that.

Heres a shot of the bike lane on the boulevard towards the end of my ride this morning once the sun was mostly up.

And lookie what came in the mail yesterday!  Its official.  I'm now a licensed triathlete in training!

I whited out the member number as it seemed like the smart thing to do.  Another good day, legs feeling good (although my right calf is always a bit sore after a ride and is the only muscle in my legs begging for a good stretch afterwards) and a nice stretch afterwards leaves them feeling fresh.  The thought of running a half marathon after a long ride is still a bit odd to me.  And really really appealing!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Legs Are Back!

Just a quick update to say I just finished a great one hour ride doing laps of Blackstone Boulevard today.  Other than having to deal with the traffic to turnaround every 1.5 miles its a nice loop with some subtle rolls in it.  I wanted to play with my cadence meter today.  Apparently I have a naturally high cadence.  At least assuming the meter is working correctly.  I was quite comfy in the 90-110 range without any trouble.  Granted I need to work on being able to handle harder gears at that same cadence... but still...  its nice to know I don't have to work too hard on a high cadence.  My running cadence is pretty high too so I was hoping that would transfer over.  Apparently it has.  My right calf is a tiny bit tight, but its nothing some stretching, icing, and foam rolling won't fix.  All in all a great little ride.  And a great day of swimming and biking!

1st Day in the Pool!!!

Yay!  First day in the pool!  I've been waiting for this one for a while and it was exciting to get going!  I had my first session with Jacki Hirsty today who will be my swim coach so I can learn proper and economical form so I'm not exhausted after an hour of dog paddle going into T1. 

I must say I really had no idea what to expect today.  The best part was right out of the gate she asked me to swim to the other side of the pool (25 Yards) to see where we were starting from.  This was kind of fun for me as it reminded me of the time I first stepped on a treadmill forever ago and just how hard that first 1/4 mile was.  Today swimming one length made me realize that swimming 40 lengths (roughly a 1/4 mile) was not going to be easy and that every bit of economy I can learn in swimming is going to be worth it.

That was the only real bit of freestyle I swam today.  We spent most of the time together working on kick form and body position.  Let me tell you it gets confusing quickly!  Theres so much to think about already and the arms aren't even involved yet.  Remembering to:

-keep your knees locked in straight (mostly)
-head pointed down
-shoulders relaxed and back and sticking out of the water
-core firm
-glutes tight

isn't easy.  Then try and put all that together so your swimming in a straight line nice and level in the water without sinking and it gets harder.  Then add to that drills where your rolling onto your back and then back again all with your hips while your arms stay straight ahead and it gets even harder.  As soon as my brain thinks about one thing it seems to lose track of another and my legs bend and my form breaks and I'm sinking again.  Its a lot to think about!  Still...   I definitely think working with a coach now is going to save me a LOT of frustration down the road and leave me a lot fresher coming into T1.

So all in all a good day.  I have another session with Jacki on Friday and then I'm away again for a little bit.  Hopefully there will be a pool wherever I'm going so I can keep doing these drills.

In other news my hamstring is feeling really good today.  No problems at all in the pool.  So hopefully the swimming is helping.  I think I'm going to try and take the bike out this afternoon for a quick relaxed ride to get my legs moving and because I don't really feel like I got a good workout in today yet.

Then tomorrow its back to the pool in the morning by myself to practice and then a bike ride I think.

It was nice to get in the pool today.  I can't wait till May when I'll hopefully be running again and working on all three disciplines in earnest!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Home Again!

So Saturday was a tough day...    as the day went on my hamstring got worse and worse.  To the point it felt like I was walking with this giant knot on my hamstring toward my inner thigh.  It was quite painfull and I was really bumming as there wasn't much I could do about it beyond try and stay off it and load up on ibuprofen.  As soon as I got back to my hotel room I iced it and took a really good look at it.  My leg was really swollen.  Not good!  But at least I could now get some ice on it and elevate it.  I did that, then soaked it in a hot bath and then back to icing again.  Somewhere around 1am I then went to bed.

Sunday I got proactive about it.  I sent the "runner" out to the store to buy me a ton of disposable ice packs.  And all day at work I used those to ice my hamstring every hour.  That definitely started to help, and once I got back to my room at the end of the day more ice, elevation, and hot baths definitely helped.

Monday I had to work "load out" which is when we take everything down.  Its very labor intensive.  My hamstring was feeling much looser but still stiff.  Fortunately we finished the load out by 2pm and I spent the next ten hours massaging, stretching, resting, icing, and soaking my leg to the point when I woke up on tuesday morning it felt much better.

Its now tuesday night...   and it feels ok.  Not 100% but back to around 85% I'd say.  I decided it was good enough to not cancel my appointment with a swim coach tomorrow to get started in the pool.  Mostly as walking on it feels good and the motion in the water will be good therapy to get things going again.  If it hurts I'll stop and I'll turn the session into more of a Q+A than an in the water class.

As soon as I landed today I also went out and bought a compression sleeve for it and that seems to be helping too.  That and more icing and with any luck I'll be able to get back on the bike soon.

Speaking of the bike...   lots of fun toys arrived while I was away.  More bike clothes, but more importantly a speed cadence sensor for the bike, a bento box to store food and gels on the bike, and the kit that allows me to mount my Garmin 310XT GPS watch on the bike to monitor everything.  Heres a pic of the 310XT mounted and the new Bento Box.

The 310XT is set up now so that I have a quick release watch band shown below that the watch can be released from and then clipped into the bike for easier viewing.

and here it is with the watch clipped in.

And here is the speed / cadence sensor installed on the bike.

The Sensor is that bit strapped to the chain stay with the arm sticking out.

Its a nice system, and the 310XT has many triathlon friendly features.  Which is part of the reason I chose this watch when I wanted one to track my runs.  I sort of always knew I wanted to get into triathlons at some point.  The 310 will come in handy in races as it can change modes to report different info for each disciplines as well as help me track how long my transition times are taking.  Add to the mix all the heartrate, distance, speed, pedalling cadence, running cadence, and all the other bells and whistles and its all the data you could ever want...   well ok...   I'd REALLY love a power meter for the bike that would talk to the watch... but those are very expensive.  Essentially the cost of a whole new bike, or a new set of pricey racing wheels.  Maybe someday though....

I'm also glad to add the bento box.  I'll only use it for training or long distance races, but its nice to have somewhere to easily store some powerbars, a camera, my keys and whatnot as my saddle bag is mostly full of bike tools, CO2 cannisters, and a spare tube.

I also got a new race belt, swim cap, covers for my bike shoes on rainy days, and my USAT license showed up while I was gone.  Good stuff!

And theres still more toys on the way including a special pair of tri bike shoes, and a wetsuit!

Anyway...  thats enough about the shopping....

In 12 hours I'll be taking my first steps into a lap pool in...  well EVER!  I'm excited!  Especially as for now I can't run, and I can't quite bike yet although that should start up again soon as my leg is getting better rapidly.  So starting swimming will be good fun.  I have a session booked for wednesday and friday so with any lucky I'll have a good enough initial foundation to start getting some laps in on my own.  I'm anxious to see what it feels like.  And just what a distance like swimming a 1/4, 1/2, and full mile will feel like. 

I spent a lot of time today reading Joe Friel's Triathlon training bible.  I'm starting to formulate a training plan.  I want to start off pretty slow as I really need to break this cycle of injury I've been suffereing through lately.  Its time to get completely healed and stay that way!  More on this later...   but its starting to come together.

In other random injury news... my foot still feels funny.  Not as bad as it was... but I'm still getting the sharp pains in the morning although not as bad.  And it still can feel a bit off from time to time.  I just hope it fully heals before May or its time to go down the road of cortizone shots and other bits of fun.  But one day at at a time.  Fortunately biking and swimming will have no effect on it.

Right...  time for me to go check on my swimming gear for tomorrow and make sure I'm ready to go.  I can't wait!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

More Setbacks...

So since the marathon on March 20th I've been resting my foot.  As well as that I decided I would try and rest up my right hamstring as well which has been something that has always been an issue with tightening up from time to time.  Fortunately I've been able to manage it by being carefull, not running more than 4 days a week, and a massage or two from time to time.

Biking doesn't seem to bother it which is good.  So really since the marathon biking, yoga, and a little bit of strength training is all I've done.  That was almost a month ago.  Even when I've done strength training I have avoided anything to do with my legs.  I've been really carefull and I was taking advanatage of the time to let my legs heal. 

Yesterday I had a major setback.  For the first time I figured I would do some work on my legs at the gym.  I did ONE excercise that directly involved my legs.  And they felt really fresh before I started.  I did a walking lunge to one legged press.  Nothing too traumatic on the hamstring, and its nothing that has ever caused me problems before.  I did two 25' length of them.  At the time the only pain I felt was in my arms!

I got back from the gym and showered and then blogged about it yesterday.  I felt a little sore but not that bad.  Maybe an hour after posting to my blog my right hamstring really really tightened up.  It was really bad yesterday and is still really really sore and tight.  I'm now limping.  Not awfully, but enough.  It hurts to sit down on it initially.  It hurts to move it...  it just plain hurts.  I think I may have pulled or torn something.  Which is really really not good.  I'm really sick of this.  I just want my body to behave itself and let me train and stop working against me!  I've babyed it and done all I can to let it heal.  This is just getting really really annoying.  AND I have a session to train with a swim coach slated for wednesday and friday that I'm really looking forward to.  And now I'm wondering if my leg will be ok in time for that.  Hec it feels bad enough I'm wondering if it feels ok enough to train at all for another month.  But maybe I'm just overreacting and panicing a bit.  This injury thing is just getting old...  really really old.

Part of me wonders if this has something to do with doing Yoga the day before.  My legs have been somewhat stiff in general the last few months and maybe Yoga was a bit to much for them?  Or perhaps strength training the day after yoga was too much for a potentially weakened leg muscle?  I'm starting to wonder what the hec to do about it?  Do I stop training for a month and see how I feel?  try and build strength in that leg again as soon as it heals?  I'm starting to go crazy here.  This is supposed to be a blog about training for a traithlon...  not a place for me to whine about not being able to train....

So frustrated!!!!  GRRRRR!!!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


So last night I got a nice surprise.  One of my clients came up to me and told me he had arranged for us to be able to workout in the gym here at the venue this morning.  The event is at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando.  Which is also the training grounds for the Atlanta Braves in spring training, and some of the Tampa Bay Buc's players as well.  The staff here at the venue was kind enough to let two of us into their gym this morning to get a workout in.  I was psyched to be able to get some strength training in.  So today I did...

15 Minutes on a Spin Bike for Warmup
25x2 Swiss Ball Crunches
25x2 Swiss Ball Crunches w/ Arms Crossed
25x2 Swiss Ball Crunches w/ 15lb Weight on Chest
25x2 Swiss Ball Crunches w/ Arms Raised overhead
25x2 Reverse Swiss Ball Butterfly Crunches
15x2 Swiss Ball Press's w/ 25lb Weight
3x20 Plank Rows w/ 20lb Weight
2x25' of walking lunge to one legged press's w/ two 15lb weights
10 Minutes on a Spin Bike for Cooldown

All in all a nice one hour workout...   but my right hamstring felt good and tight at the end of it.  I've been really really kind to it the last three weeks and pretty much stayed off it except for being on the bike which doesn't seem to bother it.  So I'm a bit annoyed it feels tight.  But I'm just going to have to keep an eye on it and keep training through it and do my best to strengthen it.

I'm thinking of either going back to the gym tomorrow for some cardio (although their cardio selection is surprisingly poor).  They do have some spin bikes though...   so perhaps I'll just do an hour on the bike.  Either that or Yoga again to keep working on staying loose.

My routine this morning to fit this in around my work schedule was that I was at work at 630-8AM, Gym, 8-9, and then back at work at 945am-Midnight.  Not the easiest schedule to train around and keep at it for several days in a row. 

I'm definitely in good spirits after a good workout though.  I'm glad to be surrounded by good people who know that I'm much happier when I get my workout in!  : )

Friday, April 16, 2010

On the Road Again

So I mentioned that in this blog I was going to try and discuss what its like trying to get training in with all the travel I do for work.  I'm away close to 20 weeks a year.  Which is a lot.  Sometimes its a few weeks back to back, and sometimes its a week or two a month.  Its rare I have an entire month off.  Last year was the first time I had tried to do anything beyond just getting some good gym workouts in.  I managed to train for two marathons while travelling.  It wasn't easy, and I had to be creative with my schedule.  At times I had to do 15 mile runs on treadmills.  I even did a 17 miler on a hotel outdoor 1/4 mile track at 4 in the morning.  Sometimes thats the only way to do it.

Now however I'm going to be faced with the unique challenge of trying to train for traithlons while on the road.  Its not going to be easy considering I don't always have access to a pool.  When I do its not always the most suitable thing for lap swimming and its often not open early or late enough to work with my schedule.  So that leaves running and biking.  Biking is sort of out as the best I'll find is an upright stationary bike.  Not the best simulation, but doable.  So for the most part I'll be running and strength training while I travel other than the few work events I drive to where I'll take my bike along as well.  But I'm determined, and I'm not going to be on the road forever as eventually (hopefully soon!) I'll be getting off the road and finding something fulltime and local.  Currently the only work I do at home is in my home office.  Everything else I get on a plane to go to work. 

Currently I'm in Orlando...   at a hotel with no gym.  And I can't run until May 1st according to the podiatrist.  So yeah...   what to do?  I spent the first two days "loading in" which is intense physical labor for a couple of days as we setup all the lighting equipment.  Its a good workout in itself and the days are long so training has to wait on those days.  But this morning I woke up and did an hour of a fast paced yoga routine in my hotel room between the beds with a towel as the yoga matt.  Not ideal...  and not quite enough space, but a good workout none the less.  So at least I got something in.  The way my schedule looks this week and with the lack of gym for the most part its going to be a mix of yoga, lunges, pushups, and things like that this week.  Really thats not so awful as it just gives my foot more time to heal which is coming along well.  But starting May 1 I want to hit the ground running in all three disciplines and really go for it.  I'm really looking forward to it.  In fact I'm dying to get started. 

But on the front of progress some good things have happened in the last week...

I ordered a bunch more fun stuff online so I now have what I think is a complete set of kit to do my first tri.  Including a wetsuit which will show up soon.  More importantly however is that I setup two out of four training sessions with a swim coach so I can get my swimming started off with proper technique.  My first session is next wednesday and I'm really looking forward to it!

So thats all from Orlando for now...    I can't wait to get home and get back on the bike.  As it is when I get home I'll be out on the bike path within two hours of when I land in order to get a ride in as soon as I get back.  I can't wait!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm Going To Miss My Bike!

Went out for another ride today...   I had only planned on doing an hour this morning as I have a lot to do for work before I head out of town for a week.  But once I got on the bike and the sun started to come up there was no way I was going to turn around at 30 minutes in.  So I did the whole length of the bike path today (26.56 Miles).  It felt really good.  I did it in 1:44:10 which is a 15.3mph average.  That also factors time in for stopping at lights, dodging large groups of mom's blocking the path and other obstructions.  I wonder if somewhere theres a nice place to ride TT style for a nice long distance with no stopping so I can really start to set benchmarks and note my progress.  Anyway... it was a beautifull spring morning on the path today.  I really enjoyed the ride.

I did some more reading of the Tr-NE message boards today, and I think I'm certainly ready for either a group ride or joining up with some folks for some longer rides.  I think I can manage a 16mph pace without too much trouble, and as long as the course isn't super hilly I should be able to keep up.  Not that I'm afraid of hills, I just haven't done too many of them on the bike yet so I'm sure I'll have a lot to learn about the best way to pace myself up them. 

In other news...  my calf felt better today again so the massage definitely helped.  So that was good.  I think the fact I'll be away from my bike for a week and also can't run till May 1 means that it should heal up nicely.  I think I just sort of upset it when I went all out on the bike right away.  But its returning to normal.  I can't wait till May when hopefully I'm entirely injury free and can really get cracking!

So some upcoming short term goals...

-join some group rides, or find a riding partner for a ride or two.
-force myself to join up with some slower runners for my first May runs.  No fast stuff.  I need to find a 10 min/mile runner and let them pace me for a while as I build my distance back up.
-sign up for a 5K and slaughter my PR from the only other time I've done one.
-get some private swimming instruction scheduled
-setup an initial training schedule.

For now I think this week while I'm in Florida I'll focus on strength training and some yoga.  I'll likely do some elliptical stuff as well as try and do some one legged pedal drills on a bike if the hotel gym has one.  Normally I'd focus on running... but that will have to wait till May.

I'll close by saying I am really psyched by how much I'm taking to the road bike.  Its feeling more and more comfy every day.  I love how the miles fly by.  I'm going to miss it....  

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Every Sunday Should Be Like Today

What a great Sunday!  And it isn't even over yet! 

I had optimistically laid out everything last night in case my calf was feeling up to a ride today.  I was pretty excited when I woke up feeling good.  My calf was still a little tender but nothing to keep me from riding.  So off I went to the bike path.  I meant to get there for 7am but I'm still having trouble transitioning back into my early morning routine after having to switch my schedule around for work to the other end of the spectrum.  But I was on the bike and going by 8am so that wasn't too bad.

I did 30.09 miles today in 1:56:30 which is a 15.5mph average.  That includes all of the time I spent waiting at intersections, traffic lights etc.  I probably averaged closer to 16mph without the stops.  It was a really great ride today.  I felt strong and I was excited about the thought of riding for two hours and continueing to push the distances I've covered on the bike.  Not to mention it was nice to tap into that edurance zone again for the first time since the marathon.  Despite the somewhat relaxed pace on the easy flats of the bike path it still felt really good, and I had plenty of gas in the tank after the ride was done.  As I get used to the bike I'm having a greater and greater apprecitation for the traithletes that can get off a bike in a full ironman and start running at world class paces.  How their legs do it I don't know.  I'm looking forward to getting into some brick workouts once I'm cleared to run again at the end of the month and seeing what that feels like.

I did my first riding with traffic today as well as the end of the bike path hits at around the 13 mile mark and I wanted to head out for 15 before turning around so I rode through Bristol for a couple of miles before turning around including heading up a nice long hill at the end of that.  I felt fairly confident for the most part.  Although when descending down that hill its a little nerve wracking when I could have reached out and touch someone side view mirror.  But I'll get used to it eventually.

Here is a happy me at the end of my ride today.

I have to say I love cycling gear.  The cyclists have their act together much more than the running world does when it comes to cool clothes to train in.  That and fun training outfits motivate me to get out there and get moving!

After my ride I came home and cleaned up, showered and then headed off for a massage!  An hour with Lou Ann (who is also a distance cyclist) was great as she really worked on my calf and we got to talk about bikes and other fun stuff.

I followed that up with a shopping trip down route 2 and came home with a car full of yummy organic food from Trader Joes.  Time to clean up a little and then make something delicious!  Definitely a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

For The Record....

For the record...   the amount of time it takes to forget that eating too much Kashi Go Lean Cereal is never a good idea is two months.  Don't ask me how I know.

That said...

Today wasn't too bad all in all. I woke up in a bit of a funk over not being able to ride (calf was still really sore and stiff this morning) but on the plus side I managed to snap myself out of it and did a bunch of strength building stuff here at home.  This morning's routine consisted of

2x25 Swiss Ball Crunches
2x25 Swiss Ball Crunches w/ Arms Crossed
2x25 Swiss Ball Crunches w/ 15lb weight on chest
2x25 Swiss Ball Superman Crunches (arms stretched out overhead)
2x25 Reverse Swill Ball "Butterfly" Crunches

2x15 Swiss Ball Press w/ 25lb freeweights
30x2 Plank Rows (15/arm/sets)
30x2 One arm curls w/ 15lb weights (15/arm/set)
10x2 Lift Arms up to the side w/ 15lbs  ( I forget the proper name for this one!)

And then I ran out of stuff to do that didn't involve my legs that I was trying to rest up.  So I did some Yoga and Stretching for 20 minutes and did some foam rolling as well.  I tried to foam roll my calf and that just wasn't going to happen.  Theres a giant knot in it and it was screaming.  So instead I emailed my massage thereapist and setup an appointment for Sunday.  I'll let her fix it instead!

After that I met up with a friend of mine and checked out the bike sale at Casters...   thought about buying a bike trainer...  but I've spent enough money this week!  but instead walked away with some chain cleaner and lube and a set of Yakima locks for my roof rack.  Speaking of my roof rack, I finally got around to installing the second bike rack on the roof today so I can now transport two bikes.  Consider it me being hopefull I'll find someone to train with / compete with and may need to transport two bikes at once someday.

On the plus side my calf is feeling a little better after being rested so I'm optimistic I may be able to ride tomorrow.  Plus whatever damage I do will be undone by the massage hopefully.  So I'm going to try and do a nice slow relaxed two hour ride tomorrow if I can.  We'll see how I feel though.

All in all a good day in the end.  And now its off to go and slice up my double layer tortilla spinach and cheese pizza I just made.  Hopefully it tastes as good as it looked coming out of the oven.

Happy Training

Friday, April 9, 2010

How Much For A New Right Leg?

Before I get into today's latest injury...  heres a bit of back history as to the others I've had and been fighting with.

After my first marathon in Oct 2009 my right hamstring was pretty tight.  I never really gave it the time to heal as I started running again three days after the marathon and ramped back up to where I was in a couple of weeks.  So I also fought through that one again throughout my training for my second marathon.  If it weren't for Lou Ann Botsford my sports massage therapist I swear I never would have made it to the starting line.  She has magic hands that seem to heal and repair all.  I highly recommend her services!  Worth every penny and her knowledge of athletes and anatomy is pretty impressive.  She's quite good at what she does.  Which is getting athletes back out on the field.  But I digress....     so after the second mary in March of 2010 just a few weeks ago I said I was going to rest for two weeks before I did anything.  I was going to let my leg heal properly and then start training again.

And then my foot started acting up.  Which I think I covered here already...  but the short version is that I was told by my podiatrist that I have a Morton's Neuroma as a parting gift from the DC marathon in my right foot which is essentially a swollen nerve between two bones.  But the plus side is the doc cleared me to bike, swim and do anything else except run for a month and then if all goes well I'll be fine to start running again.


So I went out and bought a bike so I can get back to excercising regularly again.  I've since had two rides on the bike.  A 16 miler and a 21 miler.  Both at mild to moderate effort.  Nothing crazy.  Mostly me getting used to the bike.  Yesterday after the ride something in my calf area was really tight.  I stretched it and iced it and it was stiff but ok.  This morning it felt stiff but ok and I decided to head out for my ride anyway and see what happened.  If it hurt I would stop.  It didn't hurt, and I didn't stop.  Now it feels even tighter and is quite sore.  So I'm back to icing it. 

I can't say enough how frustrating this is.  All I want to do is start excercising again and get moving on my quest to get into Triathlons.  And yet everything I do seems to cause an injury.  Ok...  not really... but I'm at the peak of my frustration currently.  I think all athletes have days like this one.  Where your just mad at the world.  All you want to do is workout and be healthy and your own body is fighting you.  Its aggrevating!

So now I'm not sure what to do.  Stay off the bike for a couple days?  I'm thinking I'll wake up tomorrow morning and do yoga and see what happens and how my top of calf/back of knee feels.  Actually its kind of hard to tell where the tightness is.  It feels like its centered on the back of my knee, top of the calf bottom of the hamstring.  I think its the calf though based on how tight it feels when I stretch it.  If it feels ok during yoga then I'll go for a relaxed ride with a friend of mine tomorrow.  If not were off for coffee and the tent sale at Casters bike shop.  I suspect we'll both end up at coffee somewhere complaining about our injuries as she has been fighting her fair share of them lately too.

Oh well...   I'll be happy to lay off the bike and lay off the running if I can swim without injury.  Really.  I just want to be healthy enough and injury free enough to start training in earnest, and I want to be able to do SOMETHING in the meantime.  I want to do this right, and I want to do this injury free.

If anyone has made it to this part of the post...   thanks for listening to me vent.  Much appreciated....   and if you've ever been an injured athlete you know exactly how I feel right now.

Oh on the plus side..   this morning there was no shooting pain in my foot which means the neuroma is hopefully starting to heal nicely.  We'll see though...   still its encouraging.

Rain Schmain! I'm Going Riding!

This morning I woke up and snoozed the alarm for far too long.  Which I never do.  I didn't get out of bed till 7 which was an hour later than I wanted to.  I was doing so well on the get up at 530 or 6 thing for so long, but that one work project that kept me up till 130AM for a couple of nights has really wrecked my sleep schedule.  I need to work on that...  but I digress.

I checked the weather and it said rain showers were expected.  I looked outside and it was grey and clear.  For a brief moment I thought about the fact that my bike is brand new and I didn't want to risk getting it wet.  But then I figured its gonna get wet sometime...    I bought it to train on, not to baby it.  So off I went.

As soon as I pulled out of the driveway the rain started.  Awesome!  Hmmm....   maybe I should have bought a rain coat suitable to ride in.  oh well.  Screw it.

So to digress for a second...   deciding what to wear to train in outdoors is a tricky matter.  You want to have just the right balance of clothing on so that theoretically you never have to shed a layer, and if you do its easy to trasnport with you.  You want to be cold at the start of your training so that once you've warmed up your just right at the peak of it.  Its a delicate balance of trial and error.  Its kind of amazing how little you want to wear to go running in 20 degree weather.  You get kind of hot quickly.  Anyway...  all my experience is with running.  Which I'm quickly learning does not apply to cycling.

So...  off I went on my merry way in the rain wearing bike shorts, a long sleeve base layer to keep warm, and a cycling jersey over the top of that.  I was cold.  Quickly.  And then wet.  And then wet and cold.  I'm learning that with a mild to moderate effort long ride your core only heats up so much.  Nowhere near as much as it does when I'm out running oddly.  I think this must have something to do with the wind, and wind resistance, and all the air rushing past you as you ride.  So yeah.  I was cold today. I need to get a lightweight rain coat to ride in thats easy enough to fold up and stuff in the back of a jersey pocket.

Today I focused on a few things on my ride...    clipping in and out.  I stopped at every single little crosswalk, cross street, squirrel crossing, you name it.  I unclipped, put a foot down, and then got going again.  I was doing really well for a while.  I may have overpracticed though as I got sloppy towards the end and it was taking me three tries to get my foot in.  But I didn't tip over this time!  So thats an improvement over yesterday.  I also practiced unclipping ahead of an intersection and then rolling through it and clipping back in without stopping when theres no traffic.  But at least I'm prepared if I have to stop and won't be in danger of tipping over again.

Other than that I just tried for a steady pace, experimented with whats its like to ride in the pouring rain because it did start to rain quite hard once I hit Barrington.  (those wooden bridges are scary slippery when wet!) I went for a longer distance today.  I did 21.5 miles.  I also remembered my heartrate monitor today.  Which was at a surprisingly low number for most of the ride which says I have a lot of room for improvement and I'm not pushing hard enough yet.  But I'll get there.  Wearing it also gives me a better idea of calories burned... which on todays ride was 800.  The hill at the end seemed harder today...    so clearly the extra miles had a small effect on what was left in the tank for my attempted sprint up the hill.

Other significant achievements today?  I managed to pull a powerbar out from my jersey pocket, unwrap it with my teeth and eat the whole thing without stopping.  Which now officially makes me ready for the Tour De France.  Well..   as long as I can skip the Alpe D'huez part...    and most of the other hilly bits too.  The fun part was looking at the intersection approaching in the distance and trying to scarf down the rest of the bar, tuck the wrapper in my pocket, unclip and stop in time. 

I need to go and start reading up on proper bike training and getting a proper routine going.  But for now I'm just enjoying putting some saddle time in.  I'm also thrilled to be back excercising again.  Those couple of post mary weeks off were killing me!  Sadly though now my right calf is starting to tighten up.  I'll baby it and see what happens.  Sometimes I'd like to cut my entire right leg off and replace it.  Its definitely my weakest link.  I have to think about that more and fix it.  But thats for another day.  Surprisingly my ass seems to be getting used sitting on a popsicle stick faster than I thought.  So thats promising.

In other Tri related news...   I cancelled my membership at BSC the other day and signed up at the YMCA.  So I now have pool access!  Next up is to line up some private swimming lessons so I don't start teaching myself bad habits in the pool.  I'm determined not to step foot in the water untill I get at least a cursory overview of proper stroke technique.  At least thats my plan.  Really though its that I don't want to get in the water in some fancy streamlined bathing suit and goggles and then dog paddle back and forth for 50 yards and get out exhausted.  If your gonna look the part you might as well learn the right way to do things!

Oh I also learned a new trick today....   although my bike doesn't have a bell on it.  I have learned that pulsing the breaks makes enough noise to alert the 4 shoulder wide walkers hogging the entire width of the bike path that your about to run them over.  Works really well.  As does barking "Heads Up!" as politely as possible.

And one last thing...  speaking of bike path dangers...    So far my greatest risk of injury on the path are the squirrels!  They are everywhere and they love to dash out in front of you!  its like that insurance commercial.  I can't decide whats more dangerous...  my last minute swerving and braking to dodge them, or holding my line and hoping they move.  I might pretend to be a tough guy at times...  but I can't run over a squirrel.  Thats just wrong.

On that note...  time to go finish drying the bike off, go buy a rain coat to ride in, and find out what sort of post riding in the rain maintenance (chain grease?) I should be doing

Thursday, April 8, 2010

First Ride!

Today I went for my first ride on the new bike.

I headed out to the bike path this morning to see how it would feel to go for a longer ride on my new bike since I'd only done some short rides the day before when I bought it.  So I figured if I headed out to the bike path nice and early there wouldn't be many people (or clueless stroller gangs, rollerbladers who like to take up the entire width of the path, dogwalkers with 20' leashes, people who don't get the walk/run against bike traffic rule, or other nuisances) around for when I was getting used to the new bike.  Turns out I was wrong...  annoying people get up early too apparently.

I started the ride nervous about two things. 

1.  Getting used to having my feet clipped into the pedals which isn't hard to get used to.  The hard part to get used to is getting them OUT of the pedals when you need to!
2.  How far out should I go?  How long should I ride for?  would I be up for it?  should I take it easy?

The first point I was just going to have to get over.  And with time I'll get better at it.  The second one is an interesting quandry.  Almost all my training runs/rides are what are called "Out and Backs".  Meaning you head out half the distance you want to cover, turn around, and then retrace your steps ending up at the total distance you were headed for.  I'm not so good at loop courses.  Mostly because I have ZERO sense of direction.  If there are too many turns I get lost.  Its one of my weaknesses, and I know it and avoid it.  Its part of why most of my longer runs are on bike paths.  They are easy not to get lost on.

So now you get the out and back bit...    heres the other thing.  When you have no idea how long you can ride for out and backs can be dangerous.  If I ride out for 10 miles, that means I'm committed to riding for 20 miles today.  I dunno if I can do that being that I've never done it.  So I decided I would head away from the car for thirty minutes and then turn around and that would be the distance.  If I didn't pedal like a maniac that should be an easy enough ride to manage.

So now I have a plan and a bike... time to ride!

I headed out from the parking lot on a nice slow descent which was nice to get myself acclimated with the bike again.  Following that is a quick but steep descent which sadly had too many walkers on it.  So it was more an excercise in braking and swerving than descending....    after that bit its all straight and level.  I spent some time climbing up and down the gears and seeing how they felt till I found a comfy spot to get a groove going on.  With my trusty Garmin 310XT telling me how fast I'm going I settled in at a nice 16-17mph pace for most of the ride with the exceptions of having ot slow down for when real roads cross the bike path.

I will say that this bike seems to hold its energy well.  Once you get a pace going it stays there....  and it doesn't seem super hard to hold that pace.  Granted thats not all that fast...   but still...   I liked how easy it was to hold a groove on it.  I definitely need to work on my pedalling though.  Theres a lot of potential energy being wasted as I'm not used to pulling UP on the pedal on the backside of the stroke.  So I'll have to work on that bit.

I spent some time doing some accelerations and those were great.  Standing on the pedals and letting it rip was really fun.  The way the shifters are integrated right behind the break levers is SLICK!  Its so insanely fast to rip through gears as you accelerate without having taking your hands away from where they should be. 

After that I practiced taking my right foot out of the pedal as I knew I was coming up on the first cross street.  As I approached it I braked and snapped my foot out of the pedal.  Leaned on my foot, waited for the road to clear, and then clipped back in as I crossed the street.  Nicely done!  What was I so worried about?

Now I'm about 4 miles in to the ride.  Wow...  miles go fast on a bike.  Way faster than when running!  A few more intersections go buy and every time I clip out, wait, ride and clip in.  It still takes me a few tries to clip in and I still look at the pedal when I do it... but I'm getting better at it.

I made it about 7 miles out at the 30 minute point and decided I should probably think about turning around soon.  I waited for the 8 mile mark and took a quick break to grab a powerbar from the seatbag and take a long drink.  Drinking from the water bottles while riding I need to work on.  I was OK at it, but not great, and it took me forever to get the bottle back in the cage without looking and I was swerving about sometimes when trying to do this.  Definitely not something I want to do on a group ride.  So I need to work on that one.

Somewhere around mile 12 I came up on an intersection.  It was super quiet which meant theres probably no cars there.  So theres no need to clip out.  I'll just crawl up to the intersection, look again real quick and then ride across it.  Well I crawled up to the intersection and looked right and nothing and then left and CAR!  Damn!  I was going super slow and I hit the brakes.  Uh Oh.  In that split second I realized my feet were still locked into the pedals and I had ZERO forward speed.  I tried to get my right foot out but it just wasn't going to happen.  All it did was lean me to the right.  So yep...  slow motion tip over to the ground.  SMACK right down on the pavement.  You might be thinking OUCH!  At the time I was laughing.  The guy in the bike shop warned me it was bound to happen once or twice.  And it was damn funny.  Well at least it was until this cute young woman jogging I'd just rode by came up behind me asking me if I was ok.  Yeah...  I was a little embarassed to say the least!  I was hoping noone had seen that!  Oh well.  Just makes for a better story I suppose.

From then on the rest of the ride went really well.  The last mile of the bike path is mostly uphill with one big steep bit and the rest a gradual uphill.  I really went for it and the bike just tore up the hill.  I had visions of running out of forward speed and tipping over again but I managed to grove a nice pace up the steep bit without any trouble.  Nice!

Then its just a quick half mile of flat back into the parking lot. 

All in all a great ride!  My right knee is a little sore and I'm not sure why.  Could be one of many things...   thats the leg with the forever tight hamstring or calf so it could be from that, it could be from falling on it, or it could be I'm just not used to the bike yet.  We'll see how I feel tomorrow.  Hopefully I can get another ride in.  If its hurting I'll opt for Yoga tommorrow morning instead. 

So all in a all a great ride.  It was just over an hour long and if you take out the stops I held a 16mph pace nicely.  So thats promising.  I'm looking forward to logging many more miles on it!

The Wheels on the Bike Go Round and Round!

Below is a post I put on the Tri New England discussion group about my my new bike.  It pretty much says it all....   the bit thats missing is all of everyone else's posts telling me to make sure I shop around at SEVERAL different bike shops and try out lots of different bikes....

"Confession time!

A lot of people have given me some great advice in this thread. Its at this point I'll let you know I didn't follow all of it. I had the best of intentions to do just that...

With that said I should also make you aware of two things...

1. I'm a very fast typer.

2. I'm long winded.

The above can be a dangerous combo!

So since a couple of you asked... heres an update on my bike search.

I went to Providence Bicycle as my first stop in my search today at 2PM. I got home at 8PM!
I walked in and asked for Joe. He was out racing today so instead I was helped by another salesman whose name I can't quite remember as I'm awful with names unfortunately. Great guy though! We started by heading for the Felt S32 which was the bike I wanted to see. As he was showing me its features and talking about it he started asking me questions about my bike experience (very very little beyond being able to pedal one) and what I was hoping to do with it. We talked for a bit about this and he asked me about things like group rides. To which I said yes absolutely I'd like to do those... but I'll have to buy a road bike as well to do those with. So we started talking about the road bike vs. tri bike issue. We spent a LONG time talking about this. We stepped away from the bikes and talked about it for maybe an hour. It was a long and involved conversation. I went into the conversation feeling like I was absolutely going to buy a tri specific bike. I left it by starting to look at road bikes.

The short version as to why I switched to road bikes was a talking point that none of the research I did brought up. Safety. Other than when I was a kid I haven't spent a lot of time on a bike. I have a mountain bike, but I've only used it here and there as an adult. So my bike handling skills are very much those of a beginner. Add to this that I haven't used clipped in pedals before. Also add to this that I live in Providence and there is traffic everywhere on all my running / and what will be my the beginning of most of my biking routes. When we started talking about riding in the aero position and having to leave the aero extensions to get to the hoods and brakes all the time I found this part a little disconcerting. I've had way too many close calls in the past year just running near my home. And I'm really carefull and I don't listen to music when I run and I try and be uber aware of whats going on around me at all times. That split second to move my hands from gear lever to brake hood is going to matter where I'll do the majority of my riding.

We also talked about future riding goals to which I said I'd like to do some century rides, maybe the MS 150, group rides etc. And that I had planned on having to also buy a road bike at some point to do this.

So what we eventually decided on was that perhaps it makes a lot more sense to reverse the order of my purchases. So I move towards road bikes to hone my handling skills and once I'm comfortable there if I still want a tri bike then we can go down that road.

So with that decision made I decided to have a fit done. I'd never been through this before and it was very cool to experience. They measured lots of different things and then we started to look at bikes that could be sized to fit me.

In the end we narrowed it down to two that were in my budget range and had all of things I wanted. They were both cannondale bikes. One a 2008 and the other a 2010. The 2008 model was an almost entirely carbon frame (90%), had upgraded components, nicer wheels, and a nicer seat, whereas the 2010 frame was aluminum and the components although very solid, were one model down from the 2008 model. But they were both the same price. So the mechanics took these two bikes and fitted them to me.

Which speaking of the fit... that was very interesting to me. They printed out three different fits for both bikes. A sport beginner fit, a racing fit, and a tri style fit. We talked for a bit and they suggested that due to my fitness level they thought I could handle a nice compromise between the road race fit and the tri fit although it would lean more towards the road race fit. They took the time to really explain this to me. They also explained all of the things that I can do to the bike down the road to change its fit as I progress as a rider. How I can make it more agressive, and how I can change the fit to a more tri style one and add aerobars once my bike handling skills improve and I build confidence. I really liked that they took the time to explain how I can grow with the bike.

So then we went out and rode them. They fitted standard pedals to the bikes so I wasn't also dealing with clip ins while riding a new style of bike to me. Being that the last thing I've ridden is my clunky heavy pig of a mountain bike these racing bikes felt very different to me. But very good! The acceleration on them is ridiculous. As in ear to ear grin ridiculous. I've never felt anything like it. The fact they both weigh 17lbs didn't hurt either. After tooling around the parking lot till I felt a little more at ease with the brakes and shifting (I love that you can both brake and shift at the same time on these bikes with the SRAm components) I decided to give the hill on Woodward a try. I was stunned at just how easy what I would have thought was a massive nasty hill was to get up on one of these bikes. Granted I'm in better shape now that I've ever been... but still... it was a HUGE improvement over my old bike. I also enjoyed just how well the bike handles on the way down the hill too. I'd never ridden on wheels that skinny before and I expected it to feel squirelly but it didn't at all.

So after a while on the first bike I switched to the second. As far as performance goes it felt completely equal on all fronts except for comfort. I felt really natural and locked in on the first bike, but the second just didn't feel as good to me. I was really feeling drawn to this first bike. But I figured maybe I just love it becuase its the first time I've riddeon a bike in this class before. So I took it out agian for a spin. Nope... I loved it just as much as I did the first time.

So then i hear a voice in my ear that says walk away and go try more bikes at another shop. But then the other voice in my head said... BUY IT! YOU LOVE IT AND IT FEELS GREAT! So yeah... my potential rookie mistake is that I bought it. And I do love it and I'm very very pleased with it. I'm really excited to go tear up the bike path tomorrow morning with it. Why am I waiting till tomorrow? Because by the time I left PB it was DARK! I was there for six hours! We used up the last bit of daylight to teach me how to use my new clip in pedals. Maybe it was just my excitement... but in those shoes I really felt like every bit of power I generated was going into the pedals. It felt much better than when I was just wearing sneakers. Acceleration was even better it seemed.

It at this point I have to stop and say how great the staff at PB were to me. Everyone there listened to my endless questions and never once rolled an eye. My salesman spent hours just talking about bikes and helping me make as educated a purchase as possible. Nooone ever rushed me or got frustrated with me. The mechanics all stopped whatever else they were doing to fit the bikes to me and then get my new bike ready for me to take home. I haven't had as positive a buying experience in a very very long time. Maybe ever. And I'm thrilled that I managed to find a bike at the shop thats only a quick ride away from my front door. Is it possible a better bike for me is out there somewhere? sure... but I really think I may have lucked out. Of course all beginners probably think that too!

So I'm sorry I didn't quite manage to listen to everyone's advice, but I do appreciate it, and at least I can admit it! : )

If your curious I ended up buying a 2010 Cannondale CAAD 9 D4 with Rival SRAM components and the BB30 crankset, Shimano pedals and SIDI shoes. I'm thrilled with it. Its currently all flat black with white tape on the handlebars. But as soon as that gets all dirty I'll have to switch it to yellow bars. I always race in livestrong gear so a black/yellow bike will suit me well!

I can't wait to get a little more comfy with my new bike and then I hope to get in some nice training rides with all of you soon! Thanks again for all the help!"

And here are some pics of my new pride and joy!

So you want to be a triathlete eh?

Ok...  so decision is made that I'm going to be a traithlete.  If your like me in order to motivate yourself you need goals.  But first you need to know more about the sport to know what those goals are.  I've been thinking quietly about triathlons for sometime now.  In fact a steady stream of cycling and triathlon magazines and books have been in my grasp for the last month.  I've also read half the internet on the subject.  With all that said it was time to lay out some goals.

1.  Apparently all of these triathlons start out with swimming.  In the ocean.  Where its deep, and you had better know how to swim less you risk the embarassment of some guy in a kayak rescueing you and wondering how you ever thought you were going to get to the bit with the bikes and the running.  Being that I haven't tried to swim more than 10' in any direction since I was a kid I need work in this department.  And since I was always too fat to want to wear a bathing suit I'm way out of practice.  So first order of business is to change my gym membership to the Y (oh how I will miss you lovely BSC!) so I can have access to pools.  Next up after that is to find a swimming coach.  Which I have a couple of names written down for I just need to reach out to them and line it up.  So thats swimming covered.  I have pool access, I'll get some lessons, and I have a training partner lined up too who wants to swim together.  That and there are also some organized training groups I'm starting to hear about that I'll join when I know I can keep up with them.

2.  Then theres the bike bit.  I now have a bike.  I'll cover that purchase in another post.  And although I have lots of room for improvement with this bike, I know I've picked the perfect tool for the job.  So now I just need to progress from being able to pedal from point A to point B to learning how to use my legs for the entire pedal stroke (not just the bits where your feet are pressing down), get more efficient, get more aerodynamic, and get comfortable on the bike.  I also need to get used to putting my now boney ass on a seat the size of a teaspoon.

3.  Then theres the running bit.  Which I'm so not worried about.  Well ok...  I'm a little worried about my foot injury but if what the doc says holds true after a month off it will be fine.  Really I'm just worried about how my legs will react to running after they have just gotten off a bike.  But that will come with time and after lots of "brick" workouts where you do more than one discipline at a time so those transitions start to feel more natural.

So I've got good training goals for my initial progress.  And I've got enought books and training manuals here that I can build a comprehensive training plan for myself once I get the basics down.

So now I know what I want to do with training...   its time to start gearing up!  I had heard the phrase "If you thought running was expensive you should try getting into Triathlons!".  They weren't kidding.  Today I heard another triathlete say that the 4th sport in triathlon's is shopping!

So far I've had to purchase:

Swim goggles (two pairs, primary and backup)
2 Fancy form fitting bathing suits (no, not speedos...   more like bike shorts)
Gym Towels as my new gym doesn't have towel service  : (
Air Pump
CO2 cannisters for on road tire inflation
seat bag to store bike stuff in while riding
watter bottles
multi tool to fix said bike with while riding
spare tube
5 biking outfits (if your gonna do it, do it right, and look good doing it!)
helmet x 2
bike shoes
biking gloves
emergency tire patch kit

And of course theres the steady supply of energy bars, GU gels, cliff shot blocks, Whey Protein, and gatorade that fuels all these workouts.  And also of course the ridiculously expensive grocery bills.  Is it me or does eating healthy non processed food not shot up with homones, fillers, and preservatives cost three times as much as eating junk?

I think thats it so far...

Still left to buy are:

Trisuit. (a hybrid type outfit that you can wear to swim, bike, and run in without having to change clothes)

Most of the shopping trips have been uneventfull, but the bike one was rather good...   so there will be a seperate entry for that one.

So...   we've got some intial goals, and we've got enough gear to get started!  Time to get moving!

Welcome to my blog!

Right...   first post. 

Lets get down to business.

So why blog at all?

If you know me personally, then you know I spend way too much time on facebook.  And if you've known me long enough then you know that I've been on a long journey these past few years and most of it is chronicled in little snippets of one liners and photos on facebook.  My journey from overweight slacker, smoker, road dog to just about single digit body fat percentage athlete who also happens to travel a lot was a long one.  And I never could have done it without all of the support from my network of friends on facebook who supported me throughout.  But facebook limits me to one little sentence updates.  And thats not enough for my fast typing long winded self.  Hence this blog.  I should also credit Nancy Gillooly from the TRI New England Club for giving me the push to start a blog after reading a long winded post of mine on their discussion boards.  Thanks Nancy!

That said I think it only makes sense to start this journey with a recap of where I started.

In November of 2008 I weighed 212lbs.  I was a 16 year smoker.  I was overweight, eating very poorly, and spending way too many late nights on the road at hotel bars drinking beer and enjoying the fried appetizer du jour.  Not good.

Heres a Before and After pic for comparisons sake.  The after shot was taken at around the completion of the dieting phase.

And heres a shot of me in my old fat jeans.  BOTH of my legs are in one of the old legs in the second picture.  The first shows the waist size difference...   38 to a 29!

When the market tanked and the economy took a dive much of work started to cancel.  In fact I suddenly found myself with a four month vacation.  So I had to make my money stretch and hope that the work would return.  So I started looking at what I spent in a day.  And the first thing that hit me was $7.00 per day on a pack of cigarettes.  That adds up fast.  And smoking is stupid.  Every smoker knows it.  Ok so its time to quit.  But if I quit I'll put on another 20lbs on top of already being overweight and hating it.  Ok so I need to quit smoking and start dieting.  And I should probably stop drinking too.  Ok...    so off we go.

This bit is going to go fast...   as I'll just stick to the highlights....

I started by just walking a friends dog and trying not to think about cigarettes.  Then I started dieting as well.  Then I bought an excercise bike.  Then I joined a gym.  Then I started working with a personal trainer.  And then before I knew it I had lost 70lbs in six months, felt great and was loving every minute I spent at the gym.  Ok...  maybe not those minutes where my trainer said lets spend an hour on your core today. 

So yeah...  goal achieved!  I was skinny, I was HEALTHY! and I was making great food choices.  I had ENERGY!  Those 14 hour workdays wizzed on by without feeling exhausted all day.  My balance was amazing and I could easily monkey around lighting trusses in the air with no effort.  The benefits were everywhere.  But now what?

Time for a new challenge.

So I picked a day at the gym when it was almost empty and timidly stepped on a treadmill.  Probably sometime around April of 2009.  I tried to run one mile.  At a quarter mile in I was sure the distance guage on the treadmill was broken.  Surely I must have run a mile by now!  I didn't make it.  I made about a half mile until I was short of breath and dying... but I did walk that last 1/2 mile before getting off.  A few weeks later I was up to two miles and feeling better about it.  I told my dad who is a 60 year old marathon runner and triathlete (and quite an inspiration!) and he said great!  Lets do a 5K together when you come and visit.  So I said SURE!  By this point I was up to about 10 miles as my longest run but I stopped the long stuff for a bit and focused on running 5Ks for practice.  I went down to New Jersey to see my folks and spent the day before the 5K preparing for it like it was a full marathon.  I ate carefully, I rested, I stayed off my feet.  My dad found this quite funny.  Now I know why!

Next day we head to the race.  I was super nervous but excited.  Gun goes off and I sped off.  I started WAY too far back and had to fight through people for the first 1/2 mile.  But once I was out in the open I went for it.  I was either going to give it my all, or explode 3/4 of the way there.  In the end I ran a 21:17.  Which now seems slow to me but at the time I was thrilled.  I've since run a 5 mile race in 34:04 with a BIG hill in the middle of it.  So at some point I have to get around to slaughtering my best time in the 5K.  I think I can now definitley manage a sub 20 minute time.  Anyway...   point is I had a HUGE grin on my face at the end of that race.  And so did my Dad.  He was thrilled that I did that with him and that I really trained hard for it.  Not to mention he was very proud of me.

So...   after my first 5K on Saturday morning my Dad suggested we do a long run with his running club on Sunday morning.  Sure sounds like fun!  The way my Dad's club runs is that they all head out together for the first five miles to the stone church as a warmup.  And its quite a warmup as theres a big hill at about mile 2 or 3.  At the church everyone stops for a water break and decides what they are going to run that day and at what pace.  So the group splits into people doing 12's 15's, 20's and at all sorts of paces.  My dad and I went out with one other runner (Jeff) saying lets just do a couple more then turn around and call it 12.  Sounds good!  And then that male pride kicks in...    so when my dad and Jeff asked if I could handle 15 miles I said SURE!  In the end I did manage it....  and better than I thought I would.  When we were within a half mile of the clubhouse Jeff said to me "always make sure you finish strong" and he picked up the pace.  So I followed going as hard as I could for that last 1/2 mile.  That really stuck with me.  And its how I've tried to finish every race I've ever done....   leaving it all on the course.

So after that we went back to my folks house and I ate anything healthy I could find for about an hour, and then took a 4 hour nap.

When I woke up I was hooked.

Within a few days I had signed up to run the Amica Marathon in Newport about 4 months later.

So now we fast forward to today.  I've now run two marathons (The Amic Marathon in Newport Oct 2009, and the DC National Marathon in March of 2010.)  My marathon PR is 3:39:22.  I think I have a 3:30 in me though.

After the DC marathon I planned to take two weeks off of running and let all those overuse injuries heal up properly.  Well about a week after the marathon I realized there was something wrong with my foot.  I had numbness in some of my toes on my right foot and this weird tingly sensation.  And every morning I woke up there was sharp shooting pain in my foot during the first steps out of bed.  Fast forward a week later to the podiatrist and he confirms its a Morton's Neuroma.  Which is what I thought it was.  This is essentially when two bones in your feet rub together with a nerve inbetween them when you run.  This aggrevates and inflames the nerve and causes the neuroma.  I'm lucky...  I caught it early.  It can get so bad that you have to have it surgically removed and can cause you a lot of pain even in every day walking.  But the doc said I have to take a month off from running, but I can do just about anything else.  bike, swim, yoga etc.

Which coincidentally happens at the same time I had already started to entertain the thought of doing a triathlon.  So perfect!  I can bike and swim for a month and then start running again hopefully.  I've been wanting to increase the amount of crosstraining I do to strengthen muscles in my body other than just the ones used in running so triathlons seemed like a great way to do that.

So much of what you'll read after this is about my journey to becoming a triathlete.  I hope to work my way towards completing a full ironman (2.4 mile swim, a 112 miles bike and a marathon 26.2 Mile run all one after the other) at some point.  But I have a long way to go before I'm ready for that.  Which is perfect.  As I THRIVE under long term goals.  I feel like a training path for the next five years has been laid out for me and I love it!  Throw in some more marathons, a faster 5K, and some more half marathons and we've got an endurce sport junkies dream all laid out on the table.  Starting with my next race which is my first "Sprint" Tri in August.  Which will be a .5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run.  I'm not too worried about the biking and running bit....  but the open water swim bit has me terrified considering I don't know if I've ever swam more than 10' in any direction currently! 

So there you have it...   I hope you'll enjoy my journey and that you'll feel free to leave comments, questions, and other foolishness behind as you read.