Monday, May 31, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Anger the Pool Gods....

Apparently I have angered the pool gods somehow.  This morning I had a 40 minute session with my coach planned at the JCC starting at 10:20.  I went to get in the water around 10:15 to warmup for a few minutes.  The lifeguard stopped me and told me that the pool was about to close.  Ugh.  Jacki showed up right at 10:20 as the pool was closing.  The website says they are open till 11am today because of the holiday.  Apparenlty thats the gym part of the JCC, the pool mysteriously closes at 10:20.  LAME!  So both my coach and I wasted all that time.

So I went home....   did a few things and then called my local Y to see if I could get some lane time in this afternoon.  Nope.  They close at noon.

So its not looking good for swimming today.  Which is kind of a bummer.  Technically though today is a day off on which I allow an optional swim.  So technically I'm not missing any workouts.  Its so insanely nice out today that I'm daying to do SOMETHING.  My options are....

-bike...   well technically that would violate my no two hard days on the bike in a row allowed.  This is in order to protect my calves from tightening up like they did last week which cost me one run and a strength training session.  But I suppose I could just do some easy spinnging around the east side and enjoy the sun.

-swim...   only options are solo open water.  Bad idea.  Especially at my current swimming level.

-run...   nope...  already ran 7 miles on Saturday and 5 on Sunday.  So no running today.

-strength training...   thats a possibility as fitting in double workouts while on the road is always tricky so if I can get one of those sessions out the way this week that will help.  So I may do that later this afternoon.

For now though its back to printing out paperwork and other such excitement in my office.

Oh in other random news....   I contacted the local bike shop out on the island I'll be staying on for two weeks on my vacation.  Apparently they rent bikes.  Its a longshot...  but I emailed them and asked if they rent wheelsets.  Might be fun to try out some deep rimmed carbon wheels just for fun and race the same course with and without them and see if theres a difference.  Plus its just something fun to do on vacation.  I also found out that taking a bicycle on the ferries that go between islands is FREE!!!  Can you say island hopping bike tour!  I can't wait!  I also asked if they do group rides as that could be fun to do out there too.  So we'll see.

Ok...   back to work.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Summary

What a kick ass week of training!  Some great highlights this week....

-six x swim workouts, 3xrun workouts (2 as part of bricks), 3x bike workouts, 1 x strength workout.
-Two back to back strong rides on Sunday of last week and Monday of this week.  Both with new friends fromm the Tri-NE club. 
-a lackluster performance in the time trial on tuesday when it suddenly occured to me that you can't ride 80 miles in two days, do two hours of swim training in that time as well, and expect to perform at your peak on the bike.
-6!  Yes SIX swim workouts this week!  I really want to get up to speed on my swimming!
-my first open water experience in a wetsuit.  Loved it and can't wait to do it again.
-two brick workouts, and one long run.
-skipped one optional run workout on thursday as my calves were a mess.
-skipped one strength training session to preserve my calves and because I really piled on the volume this week and I decided to listen to my body and back off.  Thats why my swim volume is so high, when I shyed away from running and strength training for a few days I was in the pool for all of those days instead.

Lots of really great things happened this week.  My training volume this week was a bit on the high side though so I need to keep an eye on it.  Definitely the lesson learned this week is that its ok to tweak my training schedule to train with other people and be social, but its not ok to do that at the expense of overtraining too much.  I new to triathlons and I need to remember that when piling on the training volume.  Too much too soon is a recipe for an overtraining injury.  I also need to not ride my bike on Monday's prior to TT tuesday's.  Its not a recipe for success in the TT and I enjoy doing well in the TT.  Its a bummer though as I also enjoy riding with other people whenever I can.  I suppose its all a tradeoff.  But I'm getting all wordy again and this is supposed to be a quick summary so here are the details....

-6! pool workouts.  Which included two sessions with my coach and my first open water session.  Total of 4 hours and fifty minutes in the water this week.
-one strength training workout for one hour.  I skipped the other one schedule for this week as I was definitely on the edge of injury if I didn't behave myself.
-16.18 miles of running.  Three run workouts...   one being the TT brick on tuesday, a 7 mile trail run on Saturday that was lovely, and a 5 mile brick run on Sunday.  Average pace of all that was 8:47.  The two brick runs were both at low 8 averages and the long run was at 9:26 as we were in a group trying to line up everyone's pacing, plus I like to slow it down on the long runs anyway. 
-83 miles of cycling this week.  Average speed of 16.9 mph.  That also includes a slower group ride consisting of mixed pace riders where we tried to stay together as well as my warmup and cooldown rides going into the long ride with Nancy on monday and my super slow TT performance on Tuesday.  So all in all that average is still pretty respectable!  Total of 5 hours in the saddle this week.

Grand totals....

Thirteen hours of training this week!  Ooops!  That may be a bit much.  Or it may be just right.  I don't know yet.  On the plus side through I'm glad I really took advantage of being at home and went hard at it.  I won't be able to match those hours next week when I'm away with work in Columbus as I'll be away from the bike all week, and I have a tough work schedule to boot.  This week I burned 6000 calories.  : )  I love that!

Other highlights...  lets not forget reaching single digit body fat percentage!  Wahoooo!  So proud of that one!  I have to say though that it just doesn't seem as rewarding in some way...   I think I'm really going to have to consider getting the surgery in offseason.  Since losing 72lbs the skin around my stomach area just won't tighten up any further.  So I can workout a million hours a day, but you'll never see my six pack until I get the extra skin removed and tightened up.  And thats all they would be doing...  no fat removal or cheating or anything....  just removing extra skin that the doctor says will never tighten up.  And I kind of hate it.  So yeah...   I think I'm going to strongly consider doing that in January or somewhere around there.  It will depend on what I do in terms of trying to fit another marathon in this year.  Is that a bit vain?  Maybe...   but I don't want to have to keep feeling self concious when wearing tight fitting tri gear.  I want to show off all the work I've put into my body, not feel like something is holding me back.

So...  on that note... a very successful week.  I'm really thrilled with my progress.  Up next week is a trip to Columbus on Tuesday that will get me home just in time to publicly thrash my PR in the next time trial.  I was frankly embarrased by my performance last week in front of everyone.  So next week I'm on a mission to prove myself.  : )  Plus its just fun trying to continually improve my time.

Fresh Legs = Good

What a great day!  In fact what a great weekend of training!  This morning I met up with Dave and Luis again at the start of the PB Time Trial Course.  My goal for the day was to do two laps of the course followed by a 5 mile brick run on the second lap. 

Lap 1....    I set off on the bike and immediately felt the difference in my legs.  Initially my goal was to do the frist lap at a somewhat relaxed pace and then go really hard on lap 2.  But I was so psyched to feel like I had energy in my legs that I sort of went out a little hard on the first lap.  I behaved for the first few miles but when I looked down at my average speed and saw 18.3 heading into the dam section of the course at the halfway point I new I was right in line with my current PR on the course.  So I went for it a little bit.  The hills on the backside felt hard but good.  My legs felt so much better than last time when I did the TT after two long days of riding.  I haven't been on the bike since the time trial on purpose.  I wanted to give my legs time to heal up (my calves were insanely sore for a few days after the TT) and I focused on swimming for a few days mostly.  So...   coming out of the two hills my average speed was in the high 17's.  I needed it to be at 18.3 to set a new PR.  The only things I look at on the bike when riding the course are speed, and average speed.  I'm learning what the average speed should be on various parts of the course.  I knew if it was in the high 17's after the two big hills that I had a shot of matching my PR.  So I kicked it up a notch and really hammered my way through the last few miles to the finish.  I was feeling great.  Even after the hill when I reached back for a little more my legs answered with gusto instead of protesting like the last time at the TT when I was a mess.  I crossed the finish line at 46:35!  A new PR!  My previous best time was 47:03.  So I was psyched.  And that was only lap one and I knew there were spots I'd held back a little in the first few miles. 

Initially my plan was to do two laps back to back with no rest... but the social part of me interceeded a bit so I stopped to talk to Dave who had finished ahead of me as he's a stronger rider than I am, and I also waited for Luis who had already put in a two hour ride before he started the TT so was understandably a bit behind me.  So I rested for a total of about five minutes.  Said goodbye to Luis and Dave as they had to go and set off on lap 2.

Lap 2....    ok this is it!  Time to put the hammer down!  During the hills in the first five miles I briefly questioned the strength in my legs.  Some of those uphills felt a little harder than the first time around and I was starting to wonder how the two big hills were going to feel.  But I pushed that out of my mind and just kept pedalling, paying attention to gearing and doing my best.  As I came to the first turn at the blinking light I see that theres a cop directly across from me.  Damn!!!  I figured blowing through the turn without stopping was tempting fate... so I mostly stopped and then rolled through the turn.  That definitely cost me a few seconds.  5?  Just before the damn I looked at my average speed again.  It was at 19mph which is a whole .7mph faster than it was on the previous lap!  So I felt tired but my legs were doing great.  So I pushed onward.  I was really strong up the first hill and then going into the descent leading to the big hill.  Up the big hill I could have done a tiny bit better I think initially, but I was really strong on the second half of it.  I managed to stay seated for the whole second half of that hill and had a nice high cadence going in the granny gear and a speed of something like 10-12 mph.  Which I was very pleased with.  As I crested that hill I looked at my average speed.  18mph!  A whole mph faster than the last lap.  Time to really hammer away and see what we can do in the last three miles or so.  I was starting to feel tired but I just pushed as hard as I could.  I had a few awkward shift that cost me a bit but I was doing well.  Right at the stop sign...  a mile to go!  I wish that last mile wasn't on such a crappy road.  Its hard to feel exhausted and want to hammer away at the pedal and stand on them when theres potholes everywhere that will swallow your whole tire.  Rushed through the finish...   36:14!!!  Another new PR and more importantly a negative split!  Perfect!  And if that cop hadn't been there I think that could have been even a tiny bit faster.  So it was a great ride.  I think I fell apart a little in the last three miles based on how my average speed slowed a bit but I'm still thrilled.  I shaved almost a minut (48 seconds) off my PR.  Definitely can't complain about that!

So...  blew through the finish line...  drop the granny gear... pull a u turn and pull up to the car.  Open the hatch, stuff the bike in it, off with the bike shoes, on with the sneakers, grab my water bottle with a gel in the pocket and off we go.  DOH!!!...   turn back, run the few steps back to the car, open the hatch, TAKE YOUR HELMET OFF DUMBASS!, lock the car and off we go on the run.  I really need to work on remembering to take my helmet off or I'm going to be the dork in my first tri wearing a helmet through the entire run.  I'll have to tell everyone I run so fast the helmet makes me more aero or something.  Anyway... off we go on the run.  I decided I wanted to do 5 miles today.  I don't like short runs.  Anything less than 5 seems counterproductive to me.  At least thats how I felt when all I did was run.  As a triathlete I'm starting to question that thought.  Man... the run course out there is TOUGH.  Its an interesting enough battle getting used to running on tired legs off the bike and going through that first mile where your legs go from feeling like jelly to feeling like they are supposed to.  But when that first mile is also up a giant steep hill it kind of sucks!  And its not the hill at all, I don't mind hills... its that the hill strikes right when you don't quite have your legs under you yet.  So I battled my way up it looking at my watch and sneering when it said I was only managing a ten minute per mile pace.  Yuck.  I should be doing low 9's on a hill like this but I just can't when my legs are all wobbly.  So I shuffle my way up the hill.  Around mile 1.5 it leves off finally and I can start to get my usual cadence going again.  I settled into my groove and let my mind wander and before you know it I had reached the 2.5 mile turnaround point.  And then back we go to the 1.5 mile mark and were off again downhill the rest of the way in.  Its kind of a long downhill.  I don't like to run long downhills.  Actually I don't mind them in races, but I don't like to train on them.  I prefer shorter downhills to train on as I feel like theres a higher risk of injury training on them.  I'd rather do short downhill repeats to tweak my technique and not do them for any length of time until its race day.  But I still plowed through it and kept my speed up to counter the slow miles going uphill.  In the end I averaged 8'15s for the run which is great considering how slow I did going up that hill. 

Definitely a great day!  I'm really pleased with this weekend's training and how everything is feeling, how my body is reacting, and how I did in my first open water swim yesterday.  If I can get my swimming distance extended I'm going to do really well in my first season of tris.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Open Water Swim!

So I decided it was time to get in some open water.  Despite the fact that I haven't managed a distance longer than 50meter sets of freestyle in the pool and 100 meter sets of drills in the pool I figured it was time to at least get the wetsuit on and start getting acclimated to open water.  Even if all I did was spend some time learning what its like to wear a wetsuit in the water and just how buoyant it feels etc.  I wanted to have the confidence to know that I could stop swimming, flip on my back, and it would support me no matter how far from shore I was.

So a random string of events occured that led to it. 

1.  I had a work trip cancel for late July.

2.  I noticed that there was a small sprint traithlon perfect for first times with only an 1/8 mile swim at the end of July.

3.  I noticed on the website of this traithlon (The Deary Triathlon) that they were having a "swim clinic" or training day of sorts right on the lake where the traithlon is held.

So once those three things fell into place I contacted Dave Deary the organizer of the race and the clinic and asked if it would be ok if I came over and splashed about a bit in my wetsuit to which he said sure.  Long story short...  turns out Dave is a member of my triathlon club as well, posted it as a workout, and Luis came along as well.  Even better than that...  turns out its Luis's first time in open water too and that swimming wise were fairly close in ability, and turns out we even have the same coach.

So we met up at Dave's house which is where the triathlon is held.  The Deary Tri is a very small race with only about 125 participants in it.  Its low key, and geared towards newbies.  Theres even a kickboard wave in it!  But I digress....   so we all suited up and hit the water.

Wow...   wetsuits are awesome!  As soon as I got in the water you could feel how buoyant it makes you.  Better yet flip on your back and you could take a nap in it.  Thats how much it supports you.  Right... time to flip over and try some freestyle.  At first I was a mess.  I was a bit thrown off by being able to see the bottom of the lake in the shallows and the weeds reaching up towards you is an odd sight when your used to a lovely black line at the bottom.  I was also just sort of getting used to the whole thing.  I was doing stupid things like kicking too much and breathing on every stroke initially.  But eventually I settled down and hit a groove long enough to do a few 25-50 meter swims and then stop at another shallow area along the shore and then swim that back to the start.  I did this a few times.  Finally I was starting to relax a little.  Its amazing how much easier the wetsuit makes things.  It really raises your legs up and makes you glide through the water so much better.  I found I did really well when I could just relax, stroke slowly, breathe every three strokes on either side and try and keep going straight.  Sighting I clearly need to get the hang of as of right now I can't do it without coming to almost a complete stop.  But in those few moments today when I found a good relaxed groove I was sort of thinking that this is what it feels like.  I need to remember this feeling and repeat it for a half mile and I'll have this traithlon aced!  So it was a good day!  I really enjoyed getting in the water and it was really gracious of Dave to open his back yard up to us for the purpose.  Not sure how long we swam for.  Wasn't super long and Luis and I were getting tired as we still need to build up our swimming fitness quite a bit.  So we called it a day in the water.  I can't wait to get back in the open water again.  I'm going to have to just keep trying to tag on to small groups of open water swimmers and see how well I can do.  As long as I do that and keep doing laps in the pool I'll be there in no time.  Ugh...  the pool.  After swimming in open water I'm not looking forward to getting back in the pool. Why would I when I could be swimming in places like this?

After the swim we got changed to head out on a run.  We went for a gorgeous 7 mile trail run through the woods.  I loved it.  I was initially hoping for 8 miles today but the loop just ended up being 7 so that was good enough for me.  We kept a relaxed pace of 9'30"s so we could stay together as a group and chatted all through the run.  It was great to run with other people as always as the miles go by that much faster.  So all in all a great day.  I really enjoyed it and had a great workout.  I can't wait to do it all again and I'm really excited that my first open water day was not filled with panic and that it was a great experience.  Dave was really great too offering up pointers.  I was pleased to hear him say that Luis and I had good form as well.  So apparently all that time with Jacki is paying off for both of us.  So that was great. 

Oh and one other thing...   Dale got new sneakers today!  This is the first step of many in Dale's transformation into a Livestrong racing machine.  Next up...   yellow bar tape to match.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Yesterday a new toy showed up!  My Withings scale arrived yesterday.  Essentially the Withings scale is a bathroom scale that very accurately measures both body weight, and body fat percentage.

You can find a fabulously detailed review of it here:

Ray's reviews are always worth a read by the way...  he is very detail oriented, and if he says its accurate its good enough for me!

So...  after reading Ray's review and hearing him say that the scale is accurate based on comparrison to several other methods he has had his body fat percentage measured that was good enough for me to order one.  It showed up yesterday afternoon.  I had it configured and ready to stand on within minutes.  Its setup is really easy, and its very nice looking too.

But here's the good bit....

After two very focused years that involved a complete and total lifestyle overhaul, nutrition overhaul, and training overhaul I finally made it!!!!

8.2%!!!!   Single Digits Baby!!!  I'm so excited I can't stand it!  I was thrilled to stand on the scale and see it report that back to me.  I love it!  I've worked so damn hard and reaching single digit body fat percentage has been a long term goal of mine.  So its another one to check off the list!  Now I just need to maintain that number.  This now confirms that I've pretty much met my ideal weight, or at least my ideal body fat percentage.  I could still do with another pound or two of muscle.  But I'm getting there.  Anyway, point is I'm really really pleased with that.  That percentage by the way is with the scale in "athlete mode" which is designed to more accurately measure those with lean bodies.  I love that word by the way.  "Athlete".  It took me a long time before I could use that word to describe myself.  But now I can say it with extreme pride.  I am an Athlete!  And my body only has 8.2 fracking percent body fat!!!  LOVE IT! 

So yeah...   congratulations to me!  I'm really proud of myself today.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New First Triathlon!!!!

I just had a work cancellation.  So it now looks like I'll be able to do a different traithlon as my first!  I'm going to sign up for the Deary triathlon which is tailored for first timers.  Its only an 1/8th mile swim, 13.1 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run.  No sweat!  I think it will make a for a fantastic practice session for the Bayside Tri on 8/14 that I'm doing thats a half mile swim, 14 mile bike, and three mile run.  So I'm psyched to be doing that one first to get all my first race jitters out of the way.

In other news....

This particular tri is run out of another NE-Tri club member's back yard who lives on a lake.  And he's hosting an open water swim this weekend.  So I emailed him and asked if I could put my wetsuit on and flail about a bit in the open water to start getting acclimated even if I'm not a very strong swimmer and he said absolutely come on out!  So this weekend will be my first open water swim!  I'm psyched!

So despite my calves still screaming at me...  its a good day!


So this morning I woke up at 530am and went to stand up and I felt insane tightness in my calves.  Way more than I felt in them yesterday.  During my strength training routine at around 5pm they just felt a little sore which is understandable after the TT where I really had to reach back for whatever was left in the tank.  During the calf excercises I did yesterday they felt fine and I know I was keeping a close eye on my legs during that part of the workout as I knew they were a little sore.

This morning my left calf feels like a rock its so stiff.  Even walking is cumbersome.  My right one is a little sore but otherwise ok.  So after walking around my appartment for five minutes trying to loosen them up a bit I decided I was going to have to bag the run today or risk further injury.

I did however still get my swim session in with my coach and then followed that with 30 minutes of drills.  I love that when my legs are hurting the pool is still an option and most times it actually helps loosen me up.  The good news is I forgot all about my calf when I was in the pool until I had to walk back into the lockerroom.  The bad news is that my calf is still really tight so its unlikely I'll be able to get the run in later this afternoon which was a thought as well.  Some other good news is that despite all my hamstring woes with running my hammy's feel great.  In fact better than they have in a long time.  I'd say 100%.  And for the first time in years its my left leg hurting instead of my right which has traditionally been the weaker of the two!  So all that strength training is paying off!

So...   going forwards I need to keep resting and icing that calf until it loosens up a bit.  I'll try a little massage later maybe but right now its insanely tender and hurts to the touch.

Tomorrow I have an optional swim and a strength training workout.  So I think my plan will be to see how it feels.  If it hurts I'll do just the swim.  If it feels a tiny bit better I'll do the swim and most of the strength training workout but I'll skip some of the leg excercises.  And if it really hurts I'll just swim.

I really hope it loosens up before the weekend though as I have a pretty intense workout scheduled for Sunday and I had hoped to run 8 miles on Saturday.  So we'll see.

I need to really start reading more about training plans.  I've been going at this a little too hard I think and I think I can ease up some.  I wonder whether I need to do more than one bike/run brick a week?  And how many miles and days I should be on the bike?  I'm thinking two bike workouts (one short with intervals, one long), two runs (one short + fast, one long), one bike/run brick (ideally on the TT course), three swim workouts, and two strength training sessions a week.  Now I just need to put that into a schedule and I need to figure out how to make my workouts more flexible so when I want to train with a friend I can do that, but instead of adding an additional workout to my schedule I'm adapting my schedule to fit that session in.  It was awesome to ride on Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, but it hurt my calves and my TT results.  So I need to instead say no to one of those workouts despite how much I'd rather do them all.  So I need to get better at finding that balance of workout goals, social goals, still having fun, and balancing everything else in around it too.

In other news...   its a Tri-Xmas here today!  Lots of new toys and outfits showing up from UPS and Fedex.  Including a new Livestrong Giro helmet to complete my Livestrong bike outfit ( I'm a huge Livestrong fan and I've always run any of my races in Livestrong gear.  Speaking of which I can't seem to find a Livestrong Tri Suit) So yeah...  I got a new helmet, a new Cannondale Red bike outfit, Some new Tri Suits and tops from, and a new fancy schmancy scale!  The scale will actually live on my wireless network at home and it will automatically update my training log files with my daily weight and body fat percentage!  Which is awesome.  I'm psyched to get that thing up and running.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TT Results are in....

So the TT results are in...    I've removed the names other than my own.

Not pleased!

1 M 39:24 (21.8)

2 M 39:29 (21.8)
3 M 41:08 (20.9)
4 M 41:59 (20.5)
5 M 43:58 (19.5)
6 M 46:28 (18.5)
7 F 46:59 (18.3)
8 F 49:25 (17.4)
9 F 49:26 (17.4)
10 Nick Wisdom 50:59 (16.9)
11 M 52:10 (16.5)
12 M 53:02 (16.2)
13 M 53:52 (16.0)
14 F 56:14 (15.3)
15 M 1:04:30 (13.3)

Total of 15 riders and I came in 10th.  My best time on the course so far is 47:03 which if I could have matched it would have put me in 7th which would have made me much happier.

I will now admit that my vanity and competitiveness makes me very unhappy that the results are published publicly on the NE-Tri site.  I just need to channel that frustration into doing better next time.  Although the next time I can officially run the course on a tuesday night is going to be maybe the 8th but thats going to be tough as I fly home from Columbus that day and land at 2pm.  Which means getting home at 3pm and having only two hours to turn around and head out for the TT. 

EDIT!!!   Just got my work schedule and managed to change my flight.  So now I'll be home late on Monday the 7th and ready to kick some serious TT ass on the 8th!  Wooohooo!
Actually what kills me about the results page on the NE-Tri site is that only week three results are listed.  Weeks 1 and 2 are not.  So my good time of 47:03 isn't up there.  I know...  its lame.  I know...   I admit it.  What can I say?  Apparently theres some sort of competitor inside me working its way out.  Who knew?

I just wish I could have matched my time or gotten closer than almost FOUR minutes away from it.  ugh.  No excuses...    just need to train harder and get stronger.

Heres a pic of my better side from the TT thats up on the NE-Tri site.  I'm the one in the sleeveless red top with his back to the camera.

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming....

Last night after getting back from the TT, stretching, a little massage with "The Stick", getting cleaned up and showered, prepping my swim bag for the AM, ate something despite my stomach's protests, transferred the data from my garmin to the computer, updated my workout log, emails, and my blog and double checked the front tire rotation of my bike....   after all that I was TOAST!  I got into bed around 11:30pm and was passed out minutes after that.

This morning I was up at 5AM and at the Y and in the pool at 530.  It hurt.  But I knew if I didn't do it right at 530 it wasn't going to happen.  And my wednesday pool workouts are really important as when I'm in town I typically work with my swim coach on tuesdays and thursdays.  So practicing what I learned on tuesday on wednesday before I see Jacki on thursday is kind of important.  Otherwise I'm throwing my money away.

This morning I got in the pool with two goals.

-try to keep your legs relaxed as much as possible and don't kick too strongly.  This is for two reason... one being my legs are still very sore from yesterday, and two being its just good technique!

-to swim 18 x 50 yards of a one armed stroke drill switching arms every two strokes and breathing bilaterally. 

I tried to mentally focus on...

-staying relaxed
-really reaching forwards with the arm in the water when breathing
-really rotating my hips almost vertical on every breath
-trying to breath in the bow wave as much as possible.

I'm happy to say I did manage the 18x50 set with about 10-20 seconds of rest between sets.  Do you know what that adds up to?  Yep.  A 1/2 mile!  So if I had to swim the triathlon tomorrow I could do it really inneficiently in about 35 minutes with just a one armed stroke drill and 20 seconds of laying on my back between 50 yard stretches.  Which would not be pretty... but the point is I did it, and its really the first time I've hit the pool with a distance goal instead of just doing drills for a certain amount of time.  Considering how tired I feel this morning I'm quite pleased.

After the 35 minutes of that I tried doing some freestyle.  I was really tired and unfocused and after doing that drill for 35 minutes I was doing silly things like breathing on every single stroke which was goofy.  Then I started getting sloppy from being tired and I called it quits.  So it was only about 40 minutes in the pool but the important thing is I worked on the stuff that I needed to prepare for tomorrow's session with my coach.

Next up today...

Strength training in the afternoon.  I'm going to have to be really carefull with the legs part of that.  I may reduce weight loads or reps on those sections if needed.  I don't want to hurt anything or do anything dumb.  Or I may feel better by then and do it up 100%.  We'll see.

But on that subject....   my legs are sore... but they are NOT hurt!  I haven't felt that my right leg is weaker than my left leg feeling in a week, and my right foot feels even stronger too and almost back to 100% normal.  So all this training and cross training is really starting to pay dividends.  AND!!!!  I'm doing a much much harder training load than I ever did when just running.  So I'm pretty psyched.  And on top of that the scale this morning read 10.6% body fat.  I'm getting awfully close to single digits!  Woohooo!!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Providence Bicycle Time Trials

I just got back from the Providence Bicycle Tuesday Night Time Trials / Brick Workout.




Apparently I am not superman.  Apparently there is a price to pay for piling on the workouts and not taking many rest days.  In the last month I've taken only two days off.  Which in triathlon terms is certainly not unheard of.  But my previous running only training schedule had me running 4-5 days a week max with two rest days a week.  Since switching to Tri training I've been working out 6-7 days a week, and typically at least 4 of those days are double workout days.  I should add that I'm loving it... but its beginning to take a bit of a toll energy wise and today I really felt it in the time trial.

But first the good stuff....

I was really pleased to see such a great turnout today.  There was somewhere between 10-14 people out today.  It was hard to tell just how many as several riders showed up after I was already on the course and some left right after finishing, although most of us also did the brick and tagged on a run afterwards.  It was great to meet a lot of new people and there was a nice mix of ages, fitness levels, paces, men, women etc...etc...   so it was a good varied group.

Sean from Providence Bicycle lined us all up on the side of the road and we started 30 seconds apart.  Sean guessed paces pretty well so there was some passing, but not a ton.  As soon as Sean said go I was off and running.  I was a little worried I was going to feel really tired but the first mile of hills felt ok, and on the descents I was doing great.  Until around mile 2 when I hit this big bump in the road that slammed my front wheel pretty hard.  I was fine but I swore I heard something rubbing on the tire after that.  The rest of the hills on miles 2-5 were horrible.  I felt much slower than my usual pace but I was doing ok.  The frustrating part was trying to attack the hills and my legs were just saying...   we'll attack...   but maybe not quite that strong of an attack ok?  So despite my mind screaming at my legs to go harder my legs mostly said stuff back like... ummm...  maybe.... if you respected us.....    you wouldn't have logged 80 miles on the bike in two days and then expected us to work miracles on day 3!  (I don't think the two one hour pool workouts on Monday and this morning helped much either!).  Anyway...   Around mile 5 I decided I was just going to give it my all and do my best but I knew in my head that I probably didn't have a chance to beat my best time which was set on fresher legs.

Miles 5-8 of the course are mostly subtle descents you can hammer through.  I did well on the descents, but on the flats I definitely could have done better... but my legs just weren't there.  At this point I can clearly hear something rubbing on the front wheel too and that wasn't helping at all.

Mile 8 is the start of the two last big hills.  Halfway up the first hill I pulled over.  The noise from the front tire was not in my head.  So I took weight of the front tire and spun it.  And it was rubbing.  So I loosened the front brakes and that fixed it and I started back up the hill.  Fortunately that only cost me thirty seconds or so.  I was pleased with how I did on the two big hills.  Not as fast as I could have been, but pretty good.  I really reached back and hammered as strong as I could and gave it my all.  So I can be proud of that.  I also had a nice carrot on the hills in the form of a rider up in front of me who I managed to pass on every single climb.  However he's a bigger dude than me and he managed to pass me on every single descent between the climbs which was driving me nuts!  This guy just wouldn't give in!  Fortunately that battle helped push me to go harder in the last few miles and I did finally manage to shake him on the last climb into the finish.

Oh!  and I set a new personal best fastest descent speed of 39.2 miles per hour!  I'm getting braver which is great.

My final time was 50 minutes and change.  Not good.  My best time on the course is 47 minutes.  50 minutes is what I rhode the course in the first time I did it when I didn't know it.  So I was kind of dissapointed with that, but its the price I have to pay for not letting up on the training at all which I don't want to do anyway.

Some other highlights of the ride are that I managed to pass 3 or 4 people although I think at least one of those people then passed me later in the race.  I did really enjoy the fact we had riders of so many paces out there as it really does push you to go harder when you hear them behind you or see them way ahead in the distance.  So that part was great.

Right...   so off the bike, chuck it in the car as quick as I can, throw some sneakers on and set off for the run... wait...  don't be a dumbass.  Take your helmet off and NOW set off on the run.  I was pleased to see lots of other people heading out at the same time so there was going to be other people on the run course.  I round the corner to see this giant hill in front of me.  Oy!  Apparently there is no mercy on this course.  So up the hill I go with my pace eventually slowing down to 10 minute miles on the worst of the climb which is somewhat steep at points.  About a quarter mile into the run my calves started SCREAMING!  I've never felt anything like it.  Its like they were throbbing and bouncing about and complaining really loudly at me.  So I sort of slowed my pace a bit and tried to relax them and they eventually recovered.  About a mile into the 5K course I realized that it was pretty much going to be uphill for 1.5 miles, and then downhill for 1.5 miles.  So I just kept plodding along.  Then heres where it gets funny.  Ahead of me by 200 feet or so were two other runners and another runner (Erin) was only 20 feet behind me or so.  The guys ahead of me eventually come to a point where they are running towards me.  So I figure great the turnaround must be coming up soon.  I'm told theres a spray painted mark in the road you can't miss that says to turn around.  My garmin watch says I've run 1.75 miles at this point.  I start to wonder if I missed the mark.  But I didn't want to turn around in case my watch was off.  As every now and then it will get an errant GPS reading and the distance will be wrong.  At 1.9 miles I turned around to Erin and shrugged my shoulders.  Apparently we both missed the turnaround point.  So at 2 miles we turned around and joined up and ran the last two miles back together.  A half mile later we see the turnaround mark on the road.  On the WRONG side of the road!  This is what happens when a cyclist marks the turnaround point.  He puts on the side you would see if you were riding a bike, not running against the flow of traffic!  I found out later that many of us had all missed the turnaround point.  In fact over half of us did.  Which was pretty funny. 

Anyway...  Erin and I had a nice chat on the way in and in the end I managed an average pace of 8:13/mile for the run which I was happy with considreing my legs felt like hell.  On the downhill my stomach started to feel awful but I managed to fight it off.  Racing at 6pm is tough.  I had already put in an hour in the pool and my body wanted calories.  So I ate.... albeit it carefully.  But I still suffered a bit.  I'll have to keep playing with what I eat and when on TT days till I get it right.

So all in all a great workout, but a bit of a disspointing finish race wise.  I think they are going to post the results online at some point so I'll be able to see how I did in comparrison to the rest of the pack.

Oh another funny bit...   I left the house with all my water bottles and post race snacks in the car but I forgot the bottle of gatorade I had planned on sipping before the race.  So I stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way to grab a gatorade.  When I was paying for it the guy behind the counter says to me...  "if you need to sit down for a bit you should".  I gave him a funny look.  He said I looked dehydrated and I should sit for a bit.  I'm not sure why he thought I looked dehydrated other than I ran in there (literally) to buy gatorade in a hurry.  But I wasn't even remotely sweating or anything.  Weird.

Time for me to go to bed.  I'm exhausted.  Tomorrow brings another pool workout in the early morning and a strength training workout in the afternoon.  And then Thursday is back in the Pool with Jacki as well as a run workout.  And the double workout days keep on coming!

Hooray For A Great Pool Session!

Finally a great session in the pool.  Seems like lately for a variety of reasons such as:

-general exhaustion from trying to cram too much work and training into the same day
-too much stress from giant nasty huge work projects
-bad unfocused mental days
-trying to do too much at once instead of properly focusing on piece at a time
-too many rugrats in the hotel pool swimming across the short length of the pool creating an obstacle course to swim through

I've had some pretty bad or un-noteworthy pool workouts.  They have been ok, and have all served a purpose.  But I've left many of them feeling pretty lackluster and not feeling like I made a lot of progress.  I read on BT ( the other day something about how frustrating swimming can be and how it can just plain suck until you figure out how to make it suck less. 

Today I had a great session with my coach that helped me figure out how to make it suck less.

Today we took my one armed stroke drill that was all done on the same side and tweaked it and tuned it and then worked on doing laps with two strokes on each arm and then switching.  So it was all still a one armed stroke drill but I was switching arms every two strokes and (heres the good bit!) breathing bilaterraly on each stroke!  Why breathe on every stroke?  Because when your only stroking with one arms and focusing on really extending that arm when it reenters the water theres a long delay between breaths and I like to breath a lot.

So we worked on that for thirty minutes and then I did 50 meter repeats of that drill for the 30 minutes.  In the end I think I managed somewhere between 6-10 x 50 meter repeats with rest periods of 10-20 seconds between them.  By the end of the hour I was exhausted and my form suffered a bit so I called it quits.  Tomorrow morning I'm going to hit the pool and see if I can knock off 18x50meter repeats (a half mile!).  Thats my goal.  But I'm not going to be upset if I come up a bit short as I'll be pretty tired after the TT/Brick tonight I'm sure.

The other thing we worked on was getting my head position right for breathing.  I'm lifting it too much and I need to keep it lower.  For the first time today I experienced breathing behind the "bow wave" a little bit.  I need to get a lot better at it but that will come with time.  When I managed to pull it off and relax my kick I felt way less tired in the water.  I need to keep trying to do just that.  Stay less tired, relaxed, smooth, and efficient.

For the first time today I really felt like a complete decent freestyle stroke is within reach.  I'm even considering joining up with an open water swim this weekend.  Not so much to swim the distance, but to just run some drills in a wetsuit in the open water close to shore and see what that feels like.  Not sure if its too early or if thats a good idea yet.  I need to think on that one.  And if anyone is reading this I'll gladly entertain opinions on the matter.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Good Things Come in Threes

So yesterday I did the group ride with the NE-Tri club.  Which was a great way to reintroduce myself to Dale and get back on the bike.  And It was great to meet some members I haven't met yet too.  But the reality of trying to get everyone's pace together is that we went out a bit slower than I'd like.  So it was a nice ride, but it wasn't super challenging.

Fortunately after chatting with Nancy who led the ride it turns out we both ride at about the same pace.  In fact I'm fairly certain she can kick my ass on the bike if she wanted to, but I do think that we can ride at a pace that feels challenging to both of us.  So we met up today to get another ride in.

So we met up at Providence Bicycle which is conveniently about 2.5 miles from both of our houses and then headed North.  I have no sense of direction.  I only know its north because I've seen the post ride GPS map.  We rode for 35 miles with an average speed of 16.8mph (moving speed of 17.2).  Considering we had to escape the city, ride through a slow construction zone twice and several other obstacles I'd say we managed a pretty good pace today all in all that isn't reflected in the data.  The route we took had some nice rolling hills and some niced mid sized hills too without anything too massive or any hills that make you wonder if anyone will know if you turn around and find a different way home instead of riding up them.

We rode through some great neighborhoods full of trees and shade, empty rural highways and all sorts of other lovely stuff on a gorgeous sunny day.  It was a great ride and a great workout.  I was really pleased with how I felt considering the ride the day before and the fact I haven't been on my bike in two weeks before yesterday due to all the travel.  It was also great to have someone to ride with and I'm psyched to keep meeting new training partners through my triathlon club.  All of which are always so kind to answer any and all training questions I throw their way as we ride or run.  Notice I didn't say swim.  yeah....  not about to do that anytime soon in front of any other members.  Unless of course your desperate to know what I look like when I swim.  In which case watch a nature documentary of a wounded animal in the water.  It looks kind of like that.

So whats the good stuff that comes in threes?   Riding!  Because today was day 2 of three days of consecutive days on the bike.  Which before I say that I should probably add that I also spent 40 minutes in the pool this morning starting at 530am.  Which was semi succesful, but not noteworth.  Anyway... back to threes.  Tomorrow I have a session in the pool with my coach (coach seems so formal...   its more like a lifeguard who instead of saving you suggests different ways to flail your arms about to make it to the end of the pool).  After that I have to do some work and then its off to the Providence Bicycle Time Trials to try and beat my time of 47:03 from two weeks ago and then do a 3-5 mile brick run.  I haven't decided what length to do yet.  I may just do the three and try and go out hard and fast and see what happens.  I could potentially have all the intentions of going out hard and fast and yet my legs are a mess and I can't.  Or maybe I can make up some time against those fast guys on the bike by getting it back on the run.  Although really I'm a distance runner.  So unless I can convince anyone for a long distance suffer fest after the bike I may not make up much time.

And because I'm apparently getting so good at double workouts this week Wednesday is also  Strength Train/ Swim day.

For the record I feel I should also note that I was rocking my new cannondale outfit on the bike today.  I think I just like triathlons for the clothes.  I may not be fast... but at least I look the part.  : )

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekly Summary

In the last two weeks I was away for 11 days.  I completed one of the three largest projects I work on every year which is extremely demanding and very stressfull.  And yet I still managed to workout on 13 of those 14 days.  I'm very pleased with that.  How could I not be?

Heres the basic summarys of the last two weeks....

Week of 5-10

Running: 17.15 miles, 2:19, Average pace of 8:09
Swimming Two Hours
Strength Training Two Hours
Cycling 1:47

Total Workout Hours: 7 Hours
Thoughts...   clearly cycling suffered as I was away from almost all of this week and only had access to hotel gym at certain times to get on the stationary bike.  But at least I got some time in on it.  I also didn't get to swim a lot either.  But at least I logged some workouts and got those done despite some long hours.  I also came a long way in getting my running up to my usual pace and pushing the distance to 6 miles comfortably now.

Week of 5-17

Running:  13 Miles, 8:46 Average (had two runs with 10+ mile running friends)
Swimming: Two workouts, 1:50. 
Strength Training: Two Hours
Cycling: 2:17, 35 miles.  Only one group ride as I had no bike access except for one day.

Total Workout Hours 8 Hours
Thoughts...  conisdering this was Medco week.  I'm psyched I got this much in.  If I can get this much done on a gig of that size I can do anything!  So I'm really pleased with this.

Overall thoughts... 

Demanding two weeks of work, so getting in workouts on 13/14 days and getting 15 hours of workouts in during that time is pretty damn good.  I also feel stronger.  The strength training is working!  And its developing my muscle tone too as my friends have commented about that so thats great too.  But more importantly my legs are feeling stronger every day and its helping me handle the increased training load.  Which is about to get a lot harder as I really start to push my swimming and get in some harder rides with some new friends to train with that are all better riders than I am.  So yeah...   good things are coming! 

Still worried about that swim though...  so far to go.  But I did make some good strides with my stroke in the last two weeks so lets hope it keeps up.

I'll Never Leave You Again Dale! I Promise!!!

Ok...   so my bike is a Cannondale.  And I sometimes call it Dale.  Lame...   I know.


After being away from my bike for almost two weeks I was really excited to get back on it this morning.  One of the members of the NE-Tri club was kind enough to organize a group ride this morning.  So that was my first outing on a bike of any kind in two weeks unless you count the one day I managed in Chicago on a stationary bike in the hotel gym.  Other than that I had to deal with just running, swimming, and strength training while I was away.  So I was looking forward to getting back on the bike and getting going again!

We all met up on the east side and headed over the Henderson bridge towards the Seekonk and Rehobeth area.  Who knew there were such beautifull roads to ride on out there?  Not much traffic, nice wide roads, and a nice variation of terrain.  No huge hills to speak of, but enough rollers to keep it interesting and get you out of the saddle.  We stayed together as a group for most of the ride and for the first time I got to experience what it was like to get "pulled along" by another rider as I was able to stay pretty close to Nancy's wheel for most of the ride.  Pace was pretty light today so it was nice to get to chat with a lot of the other riders and still be able to easily breathe. 

I was also really happy to feel so comfortable back on the bike again.  Although one funny thing did happen to me.  Which noone noticed...  so hopefully noone from NE-Tri reads this post!  At one point we took a sharp left turn and Nancy and I had gotten a little ahead of the other riders.  So as we turned around to check Nancy saw Bill cruise right past us.  So she went off to catch him and bring him back to the turnoff while I waited for Diane to come up and point her at the turn.  So I'm waiting there by myself with one foot unclipped.  And I don't even know how I did this.  But I was mucking about with something and managed to put all my weight on my left foot which was still clipped into the pedal.  And before I knew it I tipped over onto my left leg.  I sprung back up to upright as fast as I could and just as I got upright Diane came around the corner.  So my secret was safe!  Nobody knew the better of it.  Still it was pretty funny.

In the end we went for a 35 mile ride at just above a 16mph pace which seemed appropriate for the group we had there.  Nancy picked it up on the last 10 miles or so and it was nice to crank away for a bit.  Once we got back to the cars we stashed the bikes and Nancy, Bill, and I went for a quick 3 mile run to turn it into a brick.  My legs felt surprisingly good and I had to keep slowing myself down as I was raring to go.  But its good for me to do some slower miles with a group.  I should really do it more often!

All in all I was really happy with today's ride.  Met some great people, had a lot of fun, got to chat a bit and get a nice ride in. 

Next up....

a 530am session in the pool tomorrow where I had better do my best to perfect my one arm stroke drill before my tuesday session in the pool with Jacki and I'm going to go out for a ride with Nancy tomorrow.  I suspect with just the two of us we'll pick up the pace a bit.  Hopefully I don't have any trouble keeping up, but I'm excited to get to ride with someone who is faster than me as I know it will only make me a stronger rider.  Plus its damn nice to have some company on a ride instead of putting in all those miles by myself all the time.  Which is probably a good time to also say that I'm really enjoying getting to meet people from the Tri club.  Its nice to start building a network of training partners.  Speaking of which I'm also looking forward to the tuesday night TT.  Although I'm a bit concerned that putting in 35 miles today, and probably another 30-40 tomorrow is going to have a detrimental effect on my TT time on tuesday.  We'll see.  Hopefully it just makes faster!

And yeah...   Damn it was good to get back on the bike!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sometimes, things just don't go to plan...

So friday was a particularly long workday...    I was out my hotel room door at 545am heading into work which meant no workouts before that.  I'm happy to get up at 5am and sometimes even 430 to workout.  But I refuse to getup any earlier than that.  So if I have to be in the shower getting ready by 5am to go to work, then working out ahead of that is not an option.  Friday was the big day so it was a long day and we ended it by taking everything down and loading up all the trucks to send all the gear back home.  Which meant I got back to my hotel room around 6:30pm feeling pretty damn exhausted.  But I forced myself to shower, and wake up and head to the gym for some strength training.  Once into my groove I really enjoyed the workout, but it was a bit labored as the long 5 hour takedown had taken a toll on my energy level.  But I still not only got the workout in, but I upped the amount of weight used in several of the excercises as well and got in a greaty workout.

The next part of the plan was to go get in the shower, change, and then head to the pool for a swim workout.  I did all of that... but the pool had way too many people in it and it made doing any sort of lengths or drills near impossible.  After 20 minutes I gave up.  I did get some quality pool workouts in during the week, but this was definitely not one of them.  All this one really did was frustrate me a bit.  So instead I just did a few bits and pieces in the pool which really served more to loosen up my muscles after the strength workout than anything else.  So at least some purpose was served.

Then I went to bed around 11pm after packing.  My alarm went off at 445am.  My plan was to try and run 8 miles before going to the airport.  I woke up wide awake at 4am and started thinking about it.  I was EXHAUSTED from a brutal week of intensely long stressfull hours.  I was tired and all running 8 miles was going to do was beat me up.  Then I looked at my training log.  I haven't had a day off in almost three weeks.  I've been planning to take one day off a week, but my schedule keeps making me have to shift a workout into that day off so it just hasn't happened.  And also since I haven't been able to bike in orlando I have already done plenty of run workouts there so I didn't really need the long run other than to continue to stretch my distance in that regard which I can do another day.  I also decided that it made a lot more sense to rest up and get ready for the 40+ mile group ride / brick workout I'm going to do on Sunday with some memebers of the Tri-NE group.  So thats my plan.  Unpack, get ready for tomorrow morning's workout, and sleep and rest.  I don't think thats a copout...   its a good plan as I think any run today would have been an excercise in fighting off exhaustion and not a productive training session.

In other news....   a VERY large box showed up while I was away.

My brand new Pro Bike Case!  ITS HUGE!!!  I'm told that Southwest will ship this thing for just 50 bucks each way.  But I'm suspect of this.  I may do a dry run past their counter with it to be sure.  If they won't then I'll use the box to ship it.  As its official!  I will definitely be headed out to San Juan Island for two weeks in June to visit my friends, run, bike, and swim all over the island.  Conveniently my friend Penelope out there is a swim instructor.  So she's offered to help me with my stroke and throw me in a lake or two out there with a wetsuit on to get some OWS experience in as well.  So I'm really excited about that.  Its insanely beautiful out there and its also the place where I learned to love distance running as the scenery is so gorgeous you don't want your runs to end out there.

As well as that some new bike Jerseys showed up including a new Livstrong one!  and sadly a new Livestrong helmet showed up but its too small... so that one is going to have to go back sadly.  Oh well.  I'll just have to order the next size up.

Time for me to finish unpacking and tidying up.  I'm looking forward to training with other folks this week.  Tomorrow's group ride, and Tuesday's Time Trial.  As well as that I have two more sessions in the pool with Jacki this week and lots of other fun stuff too.  And fortunately work isn't too bad this week so I'll have lots of training time now that monster project I just finished is behind me.  I'm looking forward to it!

And just a quick note to say I'm really loving the benefits I'm starting to see from strength training twice a week.  Not only is my muscle tone visually improving, but its making me less sore every time, and its making me feel less sore after long bike and run workouts too.  So the benefits of it are really starting to be obvious so I'm definitely going to keep that up twice a week.  Plus it will help me get down to that single digit bodyfat percentage I'm so close to already!  At last check I was between 11 and 12 percent.  Almost there!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Catching Up from Orlando

Its now a week after my last post and I'm currently in Orlando.  Its been a very very busy week with lots going on workwise and trainingwise.  So heres the catchup...

First of all....   below is a photo of what brought me to Orlando.  Which is that I am the scenic and lighting designer for a large corporate meeting here.  So I'm essentially responsible for the entire visual look of the room.  This is one of a few very large projects I work on every year.  It took us three days to set it all up and those days are often long and tiring and very stressfull as all the pieces start to come together.  So training around this is not terribly easy, but I'm proud to say I haven't missed a day all week.

All that said its time to get back to the training....

Saturday I'm quite happy to say I headed out with a six mile goal.  And managed it at a nice relaxed pace and had a great strong run.  My legs are finally starting to feel like they are coming back after the layoff to let my foot heal.  I'm pretty confident I'll be back to double digit long runs in short order.  I have an 8 miler planned for tomorrow and I have no doubt I'll be able to do it injury free which is great.  So Saturday involved a great run through the rural suburbs of Chicago.  Technically we were in St. Charles.  I found a great route that ended up following some farmland around and it was a perfect sunny morning for it too.  After that I went right from the shower to the airport to Orlando. 

Sunday I got up at 5am and headed to the gym to get in a long bike ride on what I hoped would be a stationary bike.  But the only bikes in the gym were recumbent bikes.  I don't like those as I don't pedal laying down so why would I ride that way on a trainer?  So instead I went for a five mile run as I wasn't sure what else to do and I wanted to do something.  And the best bit was there was no ill effect from running on back to back days.  Perfect.  Then I when I got back to my hotel around 6 I headed to the pool to try and get some drills in.  I worked on the TI drills for 45minutes to an hour and then called it a day.  The pool session was mildly successful.  Theres a nice pool at my hotel that even has lane marking on the bottom of it (although no ropes to divide lanes) but I'm in Orlando which means despite the fact my hotel has multiple pool there are always kids in every one.  Who swim sideways across the lane markings.  And frankly they should.  Its Orlando which is a family place.  So I can't complain, I'm just saying it makes it hard to do drills when your dodging kids and trying to look forwards all the time and mucking with your body position all the time.  I was also getting weird looks from everyone which I should just get over... but I can be a bit self concious at times so it was a bit weird.

Monday I was up before the Sun again for a swim workout again.  Which got cut short when the Mickey moust police tossed me from the pool for swimming in it before it was officially open.  Theres no fence around the pool, and no gate, and no lifeguards, but the pool is technically closed from midnight to 8am.  I was surprised they tossed the lone swimmer from the pool, but I respectfully got up and left.  I did however manage to get in a swim workout at the end of the day to make up for it.  But it wasn't a great one.  In fact it was a bit lackluster, unfocused, and a victim of the current stressload I'm under on the project I'm working on.  So monday was not such a great day.

Tuesday I went for a 5 mile fartlek run in the AM which featured a 6:15 average as the fastest mile, a7, 730, 8, and 830 mile if I remember correctly.  It went well, and I was encouraged that I was able to put in a mile at my hopefull 5K race pace without any issues or pain.  I'm slowly buidling confidence on my running legs again.

Wednesday I managed a strength training session for an hour in the morning and a swim workout in the early evening.  This was a very successful workout in the pool.  In fact I was really psyched.  I managed to put a few lengths of freestyle together that I felt pretty good about.  Still lots of room for improvment but I'm getting there!  It was the first time I felt like I just might survive the swim on August 14th.  Although if I don't find a way to relax more in the water I'm going to be exhausted for the rest of the race.  Must work on that!

Thursday started way too early workwise to get a workout in ( I had to be at work at 6am ) but I did end the day in time to get a run in outdoors at the end of the day.  The sun was even still out.  Except it was 90 degrees with insane humidity.  So it was a very very sweaty run!  But the nice part of it was I had some company with two of my coworkers who also run.  They aren't big distance guys, and their pace is a bit slower than mine but we managed to shrae some laps together which was great.  I never carry water on short runs but it was so insanely hot yesterday that I'm glad I did.

Today (Friday) I had to be at work early again, but theoretically I'll be back in my room by 5-6pm after taking down the show this afternoon and I'm hoping to get in a strength training workout followed by another pool workout.  So we'll see what happens with that. 

Next up after this will be an 8 mile run tomorrow and then fly home, and on Sunday I'm meeting up with some club members from the NE-Tri club for a 40 mile bike / 5 mile run brick workout.  Hopefully I still have some energy left after this week combined with all the training.  It hasn't been easy but I've kept up with it well.  So there we have it...  all updated.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Catching Up From Chicago

Its Friday here in Chicago and despite being very busy between sleep, workouts, and travel things are going well.  Thursday morning I was up at 530 and in the hotel pool by 6am.  And here is where I'm starting to have a bit of a quandry.  So let me run some backstory first.  The short version of this story is that I'm not a very good swimmer yet and have decided that rather that do even one length of "survival" stroke and start imprinting bad habits that I will work with a coach to learn proper technique.  Now this is all well and good except that the only sprint tri that fits my work schedule is August 14th.  Which is getting closer every day.  And it has a 1/2 mile swim.  So I had better have my act together by then.

Now my coach thinks I can do it.  It won't be fast, and it won't be perfect, but it will be decent and moderately efficient so I won't be wrecked for the bike and the run.  The problem lies in the fact that A) My work travel schedule is awful limiting the amount of time I can spend with my coach.  B) I don't have an unlimited budget to meet with my coach and can probably swing it 4-6 times a month and C) I'm planning on going out to San Juan Island to visit some friends of mine out there for a week or two and get some training in out there as well.  So between work and my vacation that limits the amount of time between now and then that I can work with my coach.  So I need to continue to improve without her.  So I bought the Total Immersion DVD/Book Box set with a great book about training to swim for traithlons and a great video demonstrating all the drills and technique.  I really like this.  And it means I can continue to train and improve on my own (although I will be missing the outside eye while doing so).

So my quandry happened in the pool at 6am when it opened.  Do I work on the drill my swim coach gave me?  or do I try some of the TI ones?  I decide to do both and I start playing with the TI balance drills.  I really liked the drills.  And I liked that as I got better at them they started to make sense, and I started to feel faster and in control and quiet in the water.  Very quickly an hour had gone by and I hadn't done any of the drill I was supposed to be working on.  But I still felt good about my workout.  And afterwards I started thinking, am I better off trying to do this on my own?  do I develop a hybrid approach doing both at the same time?  the TI drills and my coaches drills?  (which seem to be similar, but not quite the same approach).  So right now I'm not sure what to do.  Other than the fact I want to continue to pursue the TI approach as I'm taking quite well to it and its the best course of action for my travel schedule.

Speaking of travel I'm happy to say that my friend I'm visiting in SJI is a swim instructor who is also a fan of the TI method.  So my swim training will continue out there as well.  On top of that I ordered a bike case today so I can bring my bike with me out there so ALL of my training can continue out there which is awesome.  So as much as that trip will be a vacation from work it will not be a vacation from training and all of my mornings out there will be spent doing workouts out there which is great.  She is also a traithlete which is great!

So the question now is what to do with my coach?  keep it going?  talk to her about a hybrid approach and get her opinion?  I like my coach a lot, and I bet she's really really good at what she does.  But I'm having a hard time working with someone who is not in the water with me and can only go so far as to show technique from the side of the pool.  So the books with lots of pictures and the DVD demos make a lot more sense to me.  So I dunno...   I'm considering just trying to go out on my own and hope for the best.  Then of course the problem becomes how do I tell my coach that?  So for now my plan is to go through the next two workouts we have planned together and see what happens.

In other random news...   I started this morning off with a one hour long HIGH intensity workout on the spin bike.  I set it to 75% of the available difficulty level and did an hour long ride on random hill workout.  It was a really challenging ride and I was sweating buckets on the bike but it felt great.  And as a plus I got right off the bike and did two miles on the treadmill for a mini indoor brick workout.  But that was all I had time for today.  Anyway...  when I came into work one of my clients approached me and said the nicest thing!  She said that she saw me on the bike when she walked into the gym and I was still there when she left almost an hour later and I was still going at the same high intensity.  She said she was so impressed with how I was able to work that hard for so long.  It was a really genuine compliment and it made my day!  I love when stuff like that happens. 

Tomorrow its a 5 (with the option to add another mile to make it 6 if I'm feeling good) mile run and then off to the airport to head to Orlando for a week there on another show.  Right...   time for me to get back to work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Morning Run, and Travel Prep

This morning my alarm went off at 530am.  My plan was to be out running by 6.  My legs however said otherwise.  They were still pretty tired from the TT so I snoozed my alarm instead.  In the end I didn't start my run till close to 10AM.  I'm still not quite used to doing workouts within 12 hours of each other and since I had time today I didn't feel rushed to start my run super early.  I drove down to Starbucks on the east side and parked there and did my out and back to the end of the boulevard 4.4 miler.  I decided to run whatever pace my legs decided to run on their own today and ended up with a 7:45/mile average.  Not bad...  I need to just keep relaxing, focus on form, and build up my mileage again without thinking about speed.  I should focus more on getting my legs healthy and not taking any backward steps in that regard.  Speaking of which my legs felt better after today's run that last weekend's 5 miler so that was good.  My right knee was sort of letting me know it was there after the run.  It didn't hurt or anything, just felt a little bit tight and was sort of making its presence known to me.  And that usual spot on the back of my right knee (maybe a tendon?) was a tad sore as well, but nothing too bad.  Its still too early to tell but it seems like that soreness is reducing post run and post bike.  Pool workouts seem to do wonders for making my legs feel better too which is great.

Today I'm off to Chicago for a few days and then directly onto Orlando for a week.  This is my first trip as a traithlete in training so it will be interesting to see how I manage to fit my new training schedule into my road schedule.  I'm optimistic it will go well.  I have almost an entire extra suitcase of training gear with me which I'll do a post on soon.  Between all the clothes, shoes, pool gear, and everything else its a lot of gak to carry around!

I'm really going to miss my bike.  I'm growing quite attached to it and leaving it behind makes me sad.  Part of me wants to buy another road bike and stash it in Albany, NY in the warehouse where most of the equipment ships from to the shows I work on.  That way they could throw it in the truck and I'd have a bike with me most of the time.  Its certainly a though...  but I don't really have another 1500 bucks laying around to do that with right now, and if I did I'd want to put it towards a new TT bike instead of another road bike.  Its going to be really hard to hold off on my desire to buy a TT bike till next season.  But I think my plan to learn as much as possible from my road bike is a good one.  We'll see if I make it.

Right... time for me to go finish packing and get on my way.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Providence Bicycle First Time Trial.

This afternoon was the first official time trial in the Providence Bicycle summer series.  I was initially a bit nervous as I was expecting more riders and was thinking I'd be way out of my league potentially.  In the end it was just Jon and Sean (from the NE-Tri club) and myself.   So I was put at ease right away which was nice.  We decided that we would stagger our starts based on guestimates as to our times.  So I left first, Jon three minutes behind me, and Sean six minutes after me.

As much as I'd just ridden the course on Friday I was a bit tentative on the uphills.  I think I could have attacked a little harder on those first few hills in miles 1-5.  Not much harder, but a little.  I did however descend really well today and I was very pleased with how I did on miles 5-8 as I was hammering away on the big gears and cruising setting a new fastest descent speed for me of 34.4mph.  It felt really good too.  More stable than last time.  I'm slowly getting the hang of this.  I felt like there were several moments of poor shifts or wobbliness I need to work on though as every one of those costs me a bit of time.

I was surprised that Jon caught me on the dam at mile 8.  He had mentioned he might be slow on the hills so I was hoping I might be able to hold him off a little longer.  But alas it wasn't meant to be.  I think I eased up a tiny tiny bit on the dam too.  I remembered it as being rougher than it actually was.  Either way though even if I'd pushed hard there he still would have caught me on the first hill.  I hoped I might catch him back on the climb but he managed to stay in front of me and I saw him a few times but then lost him towards mile 10.

I did ok up the big hills, better than in practice and they didn't seem so bad after Sunday's Alpe D'Huez recreation with Joe in the group ride.  So that was nice.  Miles 10-13 went well for me and I was really pleased.  For a brief moment I thought I might just might hold Sean off until the end.  But he managed to catch me right around mile 13.3 or so.  Damn!  So I chased him to the finish as best as I could.

I managed a 47:03 which is exactly three minutes faster than my practice time so that was great!  I still think I have a 45:00 in me though so thats the next goal.  I love the idea of racing this course all summer long and guaging my improvement.

Sean mentioned that if we train hard on this course that its much hillier and harder than any sprint tri course were likely to ever encounter so speed on this course is going to translate well to any other course.  Were also going to start doing brick workouts and doing 5K runs after the TTs as well.  So I need to look at and reshuffle my training schedule to accomodate that as I like that idea.  I think it will be better to do them on the TT course than on the weekends as I'm more likley to push harder on the bike against the clock than I am by myself in training.  Plus it was fun.  A good day!

Heres the link to the garmin data...

Hey Look! Arms!

So this morning in the pool my coach Jacki and I at last reached the point of acknowledging that I do in fact have arms and it might make sense to involve them in my stroke.  Which after weeks of working on nothing but balance position and kicking felt pretty good.  However after finally finding and imprinting my balance position we then went and screwed it all up by starting to introduce arm movements and hip rotation.  Which of course once again has led to my front half's desire to sink.  Its a shame you have to breath while swimming really.  I'd do quite well swimming freestyle three feet underwater. 

So for the next two weeks while I'm away I'll be working on kick drills of escalating difficulty and speed, and my new one armed freestyle drill with an exagerated hip and leg rotation while trying to keep my shoulders as square as possible and my body as level as possible in the water.  If I happen to manage to get that one side correct then I can start working on the other side, and eventually on rotating back and forth between the two.

The exciting bit about today though were two drills we worked on briefly.  The first being a "water polo" drill which involves keeping your head above water and propelling yourself forwards by doing a sort of freestyle arm movement.  Which once we got that right we did the same thing only with my head underwater.  Which was the first time I really felt the sensation of a vaguely freestyle like form with ok body position.  It was pretty cool to feel the sensation of propulsion and it sort of felt like a brief glimpse of what is to come.  But I think those drills were just to show Jacki where I was at with arm movements and perhaps strength.  I got the impression that I was not to do them on my own, and that I should work on the other drill.

So after Jacki and I finished up I did another twenty minutes in the pool trying to get the one armed freestyle drill correct without too much success.  I've found sometimes its best to give up for a bit and start fresh another day.  In fact I think my pattern in the pool to learn and imprint something new is as follows...

-try it with Jacki and sort of get it right, doing my best to focus on listening to what she says and remembering it as closely as possible.
-sort of getting it right with Jacki's help.
-practicing it directly after class and then getting all aggrevated I can't do it properly.
-trying it on my own in a day or so and getting annoyed I'm still not getting it right and trying way too hard.
-trying it again another time and relaxing more, stressing less, and doing much better at it.
-one more time on my own and I finally start to feel like its working.  Usually just in time to get it mostly right before I work with Jacki again.

So today I knew when I gave up that I would get it eventually, and that I need to stop trying so hard.  Swimming comes with relaxation and technique, not brute force and frustration.  So when I reach that point of frustration I'm learning to take it out on the kickboard with a couple of sets of 3x50 meter kicking acceleration drills and then go hit the showers.

Next up this afternoon is the Providence Bicycle informal Time Trials.  Which I suddenly find myself all nervous about.  Mostly as I suspect it will be a small group....   and odds are I'll be the slowest of the bunch.  But I need to simply focus on beating my own time from the other day, attacking the hills hard, descending as fast as I can, hanging out on the big ring as much as possible, and saving a little something for miles 10-14.  My optimistic goal is to finish the course in 45:00.  My first somewhat cautious attempt I did it in 50:00 so heres hoping I can go out a little faster today.  Although I'm not exactly rested up for a spectacular effort.  Considering I haven't had a day off from training in a week and a half or so, spent an hour in the pool today a lot of which doing kick drills, strength training yesterday followed by a late night at Fenway Park, and I'm not exactly rested up and fresh to attack the course.  But I'm just hoping not to dump my bike, not to embarass myseld, and to go out as hard as possible and be happy with my performance.  Heres hoping I do well and don't get passed!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Once again the world has decided to try and conspire against me getting my training in.  This morning I got up at 4:45 and was at the Y waiting for the door to be unlocked at 5:25am.  When they unlocked the door at 5:30 we were instructed that the pool was chemically imbalanced and that the earliest it might open was 6AM with a strong emphasis on the "might".  I explained that I was already chemically imbalanced but they still wouldn't let me in.

Time for a new plan...

So based on the shaky "might" I decided I'd switch up my plans and get a strength training workout in instead.  Which I was planning on doing early this afternoon anyway.  So I got that in, and then went to work.  Which I'm currently burried in as I head out on Wednesday for a two week business trip so theres lots to do and get ready for.  I even managed to get ahead of the game today...   for a while I contemplated trying to sneak a swim in this afternoon but theres only a couple of lanes open in the afternoon and I honestly don't really have the time to get it in.  And if I had to skip one workout today thats the one as today was going to be a bonus swim just to continue to imprint my newfound successful balance position.  But I'm in the pool with Jacki tomorrow anyway as well as later this week so no harm done.

So I thought it would be perhaps be of interest to see some of the quirky day to day items that are part of my training.  So lets whirl through a few....

Below is a picture of my fridge.  The top half bears the all important white board.  Always written on the top of it is my weight from that particular morning.  Currently at 140.2.  Theres nothing worse than when you have to erase one number to write a larger number down.  Keeps me motivated to keep it as close to the same or lower.  Ideally I'd like to have that number a tiny bit lower, or really I just want my body fat percentage to fall from its current place of 11.2% to 8 or 9%.  Below that number are two other numbers.  On the left is always my current calorie intake on that particular day, and on the right is the rough amount of calories I've burned during workouts that day.  I try and keep to 2000 calories a day and allow myself some portion of workout calories to go towards additional food, especially on long workout days.  In this case I did a 30 minute swim drill workout and a 5 mile run.  Worth about 600 calories.

I often cook large amounts of food and then portion and freeze it.  So on the bottom right you can see that it says Tuna 700, and Chik Pasta 600 meaning that the frozen portions of that have that many calories in them.  That way when I eat it a week later I can still remember how many calories it was.

As well as that on my fridge you'll find my recent race number from the DC marathon, the pool schedule at my local Y, and a really clever bicycling map of Rhode Island where all the roads are color coded based on how bicycle friendly they are.  Theres also info as to where the steep inclines are, and where all the bike paths are.  Very handy!  I found it online, and I have a large format printer for work stuff that comes in handy for things like this.

Now heres whats in my fridge.  I travel so much with work that theres never all that much in here.  I tend to shop in small bursts and try and buy frozen and dry goods in bulk and fresh stuff in small purchases so that I can eat it before I go away again.  So as you can see there isn't much fresh stuff as I'm about to head out of town.  Most of what you see are bottles of cold tap water and gatorade for long bike and run days.  Hydration is not a problem of mine...  I drink more water than most people I think.

And now for the secret cabinet of endurance goodness.  Ok...   so its not really a secret.  But it is my favorite cubby in the kitchen.  I always have a massive stock of balance bars on hand.  They are my current favorite energy/nutrition bar of choice with a good balance of ingredients.  I start most of my days with two of these.  On the plus side I can eat them and then go for a run ten minutes later and they don't even remotely upset my stomach.  The gold boxes on the right are powerbars for long bike days as the balance bars tend to melt on the bike, Clif Shot Blocks electrolyte chews for long run days, and some Clif Shot Gels as well that I still haven't quite aquired a taste for, but I do get a nice jolt of energy from them so I keep torturing myself with them to see if I can get used to them.  I eat probably way too many energy bars in general.  I need to cut back on it but when I'm travelling all the time the balance bars are my savior as eating a couple of those for a meal sure beats eating nasty fried catering or whatever fatty calorie dense food my client is trying to feed me on that day.

So theres a quickie whirl round round the kitchen.  And just to show I don't JUST eat energy bars and drink gatorade all day long here's a shot of dinner from the other night.  Diced albacore tuna over brown rice with asparagus in a thai peanut sauce.  Delicious, nutritious and full of good carbs and protein.  Good stuff!