Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tri Wednesday?

Sometimes I just don't realize how things have stacked up.  Individually they don't seem like a bad idea.  Going for a swim...  sounds good!  Maybe a nice easy recovery ride the morning after the TT?  Sure!  And OH!  Theres a 5K trail run tonight...   it would be good to do something short and fast as I haven't been doing much of that.  But this evening just after I finished the trail run it occured to me that I'd done all three disciplines on back to back days with less than two weeks to go to my first tri.  Not exactly smart.  So mental note...   keep the big picture in mind.  That said it was a fairly succesful day.

This morning Nancy and I met up at GVP for a swim.  I was still undecided as to what the day's goals were going to be.  My first instinct was to do two 1/2 mile repeats with a rest in between again.  But I think that thought was coming from a place of fear and I was really annoyed about that mental roadblock yesterday.  So I started with...  lets just swim out to that buoy and figure it out when we get there.  The buoy is about .2 miles form shore.  So we swam out to there.  Once there we treaded water for a second.  Part of me really wanted Nancy to convince me to go for the mile continuos swim.  But Nancy is much smarter than that and she didn't say a word.  So the decision had to come from me.  And the brave part of me that lives somewhere way down inside said screw it!  Lets go for it.  So we started off toward the dock that marks the approximate mid point in a mile long swim at GVP.  Somewhere in the middle of that distance I had an epiphany as I settled into a lovely groove.  The first quarter mile of my swimming sucks.  I feel tired, uncoordinated and like I can't keep going.  I need to understand this, recognize it, and just move through it.  On a race day I need to consider swimming a quarter mile as a warmup and know that it means I'll have a lot better race.  Anyway... the funny thing about all this is that the swim to the dock pretty much follows the shoreline.  So theres no real need to sight much.  You just make sure that your close to the shore everytime you breath to your left.  So most of this took place as I stared down into the abyss.  Its kind of peacefull in those moments.  I'm learning to try and enjoy losing myself in thought as I swim.  It goes by faster that way.  Sort of like when you find that happy zone when running when the miles fly by. 

Soon enough I reached the dock which was the halfway point.  On the way out I'd swam .2 miles and rested while we decided what we were doing, and then rested about a minute at the dock...  maybe 2 minutes.  And on the way back I swam the entire .55 miles without stopping which was awesome.  I really found a good groove.  I ran a clock on the entire swim including the rest stops and I did 1.10 miles in 41 minutes.  Not super speedy, but I'll take it!  Even with the rest breaks that works out to 2:07/100 yards.  Not bad at all.  I was just generally really excited that I finally did it.  I was psyched!  Another mental roadblock conquered!  And another milestone on the long path towards finishing an Ironman.

So after the swim we thought it would be a good idea to do about a two hour recovery ride.  Something at a really easy pace to loosen the legs up after the TT last night.  This particular ride ended up being one of those workouts you'd rather forget ever happened.  It was just one thing after another....

-we were both really tired.  We had both ridden the TT good and hard and then ran five miles, and then had dinner and didn't get home till somewhere between 10 and 11.  And both of us had run around doing things once we had gotten to our respective homes that kept us up till around midnight.  And then up at 6ish to get ready to swim.  So sleep was in short supply.  So after the swim I think we were both a little tired and I know I personally was on the edge of being tired and grumpy.  I also hadn't had any coffee yet.  Sometimes  a dangerous combo.

-so the first bad thing to happen was that while innocently riding down a nice road I was attacked by a rock whale!  The thing just jumped out at me!  It was horrible.  But I was somehow able to recover and keep going.  Here is a picture of the attack in progress.

-so to this point we've ridden all of about 11 nice and easy miles.  Just some spinning and no real hard efforts.  Just trying to loosen the legs up.  We went down a road and then PSSSTTTTTTT!!!   Really loud.  Damn!  I flatted.  I looked at the tire closely and there was a lovely 1/2 inch slice in it.  Grrrrr....  not good!  So I replaced the tube and reinflated it with a CO2 cannister.  The innertube was now bulging out of the slice in the tire.  If I were to have ridden on it I would have flatted instantly.  So now I had to let the air out of the tube and remove the tire again.  Nancy suggested I try using some fix a flat sticky patches to patch the inside of the tire and see if that would stop the tube from coming out.  Brilliant!  So I did that and the tube bulged a little bit but it looked like it might hold.  So we rode off and hoped for the best.

-then I realized my rear brakes weren't really working.  So I stopped.  Ooops...  I forgot to close them after spreading them to allow me to remove the rear tire.  Grrrr....   that was dumb.  But now they are rubbing against the tire!  What the hec!  So I messed with that for a bit.  (Here is where I had one of those maybe humans aren't that bad after all moments.  A gentleman across the street in his garage saw me working on my bike and very kindly asked if I needed any tools or any help.  Nice guy!  Maybe people aren't so bad after all!)  So I mucked about with that for a bit and managed to fix it.  Now I was in a foul mood.  I was tired, grumpy, thought my tire might go flat at any moment and I just wasn't having a good ride.

-so then we start doing some descending.  I kept tapping my breaks.  I just didn't want the tire to go flat at high speed.  Which meant I wasn't keeping up with Nancy.  Which is my own fault.  But I was getting annoyed unjustifiably.  And then we started to climb a little bit and my legs exploded.  I just didn't have it in me.  So I was starting to drop back which pissed me off.  And for the record I was pissed at myself for not being able to keep up.  We weren't exactly riding hard, and we hadn't even ridden that far at all.  My legs just ran out of gas.  So I suffered through it and managed to catch back up....  but now I was really grumpy.  I just tried to focus my energy on internalizing my grumpiness and trying to keep it to myself.

Not much longer after that we reached the car and the end of our ride.  We were both pretty quiet at that point.  I don't think either of us had that great a ride today.  I actually sent an email to apologize later in the day for my mood.  I felt bad I was being so silly.  I mean really...   in the grand scheme I was just a little tired and I had some mechanical issues.  No big deal.  but mix that in with feeling tired and I turned into a grump-o-saurus.  Ugh.

So then I spent some time at home theoretically working.  I didn't get much work done.  Mostly I just felt tired and stared at the computer.  And before I knew it was time to run off to the 5K trail run in Colt State Park.  I have to say I was in no mood to do this race this afternoon.  I felt really tired still and very much beat up.  But I'd paid to do it so I was going to go.  I just hoped I'd feel better once I got there.  My logic behind entering the race was that I wanted to run some short and fast stuff as I really haven't done much of that lately, and with three sprint tris coming up soon I had better do some 5K stuff.

Its no secret that anytime you pin a race number to your chest you find energy you didn't know you had.  So once I got my number and pinned it on I went for a short warm up run with some quick sprint intervals in it to get the legs moving.  It didn't feel very good.  Hmmm....   oh well I'll find the energy when the gun goes off.

When I registered for this race I thought it was a road race.  But when I got the thing it said trail run on it.  Which it probably said on the registration...  I just wasn't paying attention.  All I knew of the course was that it was a 2 loop course (seriously?  its a 5K people... theres no need for a 2 loop 5K in a park with miles of roads in it!)  and that it went through the woods.  hmmm...  this could be interesting.... but whatever!

I decided I should start fairly close to the front.  So I was amongst the first 20 people the enter the course.  The start got a little funky as the trails are somewhat narrow so passing was very difficult.  So initially I got a little bogged down behind some slower guys and was fighting for position.  Once again I should have started further up.  Oh well.  The trail through the woods was very very technical.  Lots of rocks and tree roots.  I have done very little trail running so this course was really challenging.  It also turned 90 and 180 degrees a LOT!  So you were constantly taking these sharp turns and dodging rocks, roots, trees, you name it!  It made for an interesting run and finding the right moments to pass people were tricky.  It was also fairly up and down so there were some rooty hills to run up and down that were quite challenging as well.  I just did my best and went all out.  Although in my mind all I could think was "slowdown dumbass!  you're going to twist and ankle and blow your whole tri season you've worked so hard for!".  Of course telling me to slow down in race is like telling a snail to speed up.  Its not gonna happen.  So I went for it.  Multiple loop runs mess with your head.  Your happy when you complete the first loop but your miserable when you start the second.  I'd rather see stuff I haven't seen before.  I don't mind out and backs...  but I don't like multiple loops.  Anyway...   I was starting to struggle on loop 2.  Although after checking my watch I actually managed to hold a pretty damn even pace for the whole thing.  It just felt harder on lap 2.  I passed some more people along the way and kept telling myself there was only a mile to go.  keep fighting!  I felt really beat at this point though.

As we turned towards the last hill before the descent into the finishing chute there was another runner right next to me.  He started to kick to try and pass me but I was having none of that!  So I kicked too and stayed even with him.  When we hit the hill he showed just the slightest sign of struggle so I swung my arms as hard as I could and fought my way up the hill just in time to line up with the best line for the descent into the finishing chute directly in front of him.  That was fun!  And then two seconds later I was in the chute and it was all over. 

My time is going to be somewhere around 21:00 even.  I haven't seen the official results online yet.  Although I was able to look at the printout after the race.  I THINK (I should really double check it) that I JUST missed getting an age group award.  They gave out 1st and 2nd to the 30-39 year olds and I beleive I was third in that group.  I came in 21st out of about 200 racers.  So thats pretty much top ten percent!  I'll take it!  especially considering how tired I felt, how much training I've done in the last week and how intense yesterday's workouts were.  I'm really pleased with that result.  I feel very confident that on a couple of days rest with a proper taper that I can easily go sub 20 minutes on a road race 5K.  I can't wait to try that.

So all in all a good day!  Next up for tomorrow is going to be NOTHING as far as training goes.  I just did two back to back days of all three disciplines which was dumb.  So I need to compensate for that somehow.  And I have a rule that says no three days in a row of anything.  So that means I can't swim, bike, or run tomorrow.  So its going to be a day off.  If I really get the itch to do something I may do some yoga or go for a walk, or call my ex and steal the dog for the afternoon.  We'll see, but no tri training till friday when I'm back in the water.  I also need to rest up as my race is less than two weeks away and this weekend will contain a 13 mile relaxed pace run to keep my long run tuned up and in order as well as an epic 82 mile ride on Sunday I'm really looking forward to as I also am trying to get into the habit of very long rides every weekend.  Great couple of days....    and I'm feeling stronger every day.  I'm so going to kick my first triathlons ass!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tri Tuesday Part II

Busy day of training today...

The second half of today involved the Providence Bicycle Tuesday Night Time Trial.  It was a great time as always.  The scheduling gods once again shined on us today and Nancy and I were able to meet up ahead of the TT to get a warmup lap in.  We rode a nice easy pace for the whole thing that was the perfect warmup.  I am definitely finding that I do better with a nice long warmup so it was the perfect way to get geared up.  The funny thing was that at a nice easy pace the TT course doesn't seem all that bad.  Even the hills felt pretty easy.  Apparently racing them is what makes them so hard.  I was also struck by how beautifull that area is.  Funnily enough you barely notice the scenery when you fly past it!  I saw stuff on that lap I'd never noticed before. 

When we got back from our warmup lap quite a crowd had started to show.  I think there were around 24 or so riders tonight which was great.  I do though wish things were a bit more social.  The regulars are all quite chatty but there were a lot of new faces who kept to themselves a bit.  Hopefully we can work on loosening everyone up.  Also odd tonight was how little anyone said to people as they passed.  Usually people are pretty encouraging or at the very least you get an "on your left!" but I got nothing today as the fastest guys passed me.  Weird.

But enough about all that nonsense...  onto the riding!  My ride tonight was very strong.  I was really pleased with it.  I felt like all the time I've been putting into the bike is paying off every time I ride the TT.  I wasn't really sure if I was going to set a new PR tonight for most of the course.  I felt really good and strong but I couldn't remember where my average speed was supposed to be at different parts of the course as I hadn't ridden it in a few weeks.  So it wasn't until I rounded the final turn and saw my average was still holding in the high 19's that I knew I was going to set a new PR.  I crossed the finish line at what I think will be a 42:58 which is almost exactly a minute faster than my previous best 43:59.  So I was very pleased with that.  I'm getting ever so close to a 20mph average.  Which would be awesome!  I would be so excited if I can pull that off.  Which I really do think I will by the end of the summer if I stay faithfull to my riding which I know I will.  All those long rides, intervals, and TTs are all beginning to pay dividends!

After the ride many of us went for a brick run of varying lengths.  In the end Nancy and I stuck together for the run and we did 5 miles.  We were orginally thinking 7 but a bit of a wardrobe malfunction had us cut it short.  Which was good as I was really beat!  We did however keep a nice relaxing pace on the run which was good as I just registered for the 5K trail run tomorrow night in Colt State Park.  I'm a little bummed its a trail run.  I originally thought it was a road race and I was looking forward to seeing what I can do.  But I'm still going to try and go all out and see what happens.  I haven't raced anything that short in a long time so I need to see what happens and get some speed work in before my first tri.

So next up tomorrow is another swim at GVP in the morning, followed by a two hour recovery ride with Nancy, and then the 5K race at the end of the day.  Oy!  I'm exhausted just thinking about it all.  But it will be fun, and I'm looking forward to it.  I'm too tired to figure it out now but I need to decide If I want to do 1/2 mile repeats tomorrow as practice for my sprint, or try and do the mile long continuous swim.  Something tells me Nancy is gonna convince me to go for the mile and I'm gonna do it...   not sure yet though.

Tri Tuesday Part I

Its Tri Tuesday again...      seems like the last one was yesterday.  Time is certainly flying by.

So the main highlight of this entry is that I've decided on my first triathlon.  As much as I'd really hoped it would be an Olympic length race I've decided its best to start with a sprint.  The sad part to this is its fairly unlikely I can find another Oly that fits my schedule.  So unless something changes I may just have to enjoy all the sprints I can find that fit my wacky work schedule which so far is three.  All within two weeks of each other.  So I'll be on an every other weekend race schedule from July 11th till its over.  Which will be great as that's just enough time to briefly recover, and then work on my weaknesses from each race and do my best to get stronger with each one.  The swim lengths however are a bit random with the order from first to last being 1/3 mile, 1/8 mile, 1/2 mile.  Runs and bikes are mostly 12-14 miles and 5K-4 miles. 

So my first tri will be on July 11th and its the Mill City Sprint Triathlon in Lowell, MA.  Its a bit of a drive but I'm just not willing to wait till the 31st to get my first one in the bag.  So I'm gonna go for it!  Its a 1/3 mile River swim with the first half being into the current which should be interesting, but I've been rocking 1/2 mile repeats so I will be fine at that distance.  I just need to push really hard into the current, and relax a bit on the way back.  This is followed by a 13 mile bike which will be cake (although I need to focus on short fast and hard efforts instead of longer rides in the next two weeks) and a 4 mile run which will hopefully be good and fast if all goes well.

Why am I doing the sprint?

Because my swim this morning was extremely frustrating.  I met up with some of the guys this morning for an open water session at GVP (Georgiaville Pond).  The plan was to knock my first mile long continuous swim out.  I got in the water and didn't feel all that comfy.  When I first started I was expending way too much effort, and it took me a while to slow down.  I would pop up to sight and then tread water for a second as the faster swimmers started to distance themselves from me.  I made it out about .35 miles or so and then sort of reconsidered.  I wouldn't call it panic, but I wasn't in a good groove, and it just didn't make sense to press forward and go for the mile swim.  I was out of my comfort zone and beyond the out and back buoy that's my usual swim there and my brain took over....  and I tried to fight it but the thought of turning around was overwhelming me.  Again... not panic... just stubbornness in my own head that felt like it was out of control.  Its hard to explain, and incredibly frustrating.  So I swam back to shore and that loop was about .60 of a mile.  So frustrating. 

I was also a little intimidated this morning.  There were a LOT of swimmers out there today.  There was a 5:30 group that was already in the water when we got there of about 20+ swimmers.  More people showed up while I was out so in the end there was what seemed like close to 20-30 people in the water.  The parking lot up top was full!  At 6AM even!  So as I was returning from my first out and back theres 15 or so people recovering from their much longer swim in the water at the beach.  And I'm the only swimmer still working his way back in.  And when I popped up to sight they are all watching me.  At least thats what it felt like.  So I did my best to focus on form and not look bad!

I hit the shore and rested for a bit...   I kept to myself and avoided the group of other swimmers which was a bit rude of me but I was pissed off at myself and wasn't in the mood to be social.  I rested for a minute or two, said hello to Shawn who was doing shorter repeats closer to shore and then headed out to the buoy and back for a no stopping there and back hard effort.  Well at least hard for me anyway.  That loop is .4 miles exactly (I measured it with my garmin in my swim cap today).  I managed to average 1:48 per 100 yards which I'm fairly pleased with.  Much faster than my usual 2:10/100 average in the pool.  So thats about 54 per 50.  I'll take it.  I felt much stronger on that repeat.  Maybe I need a long warmup in the water before heading out?  I dunno.  Food for thought.  Or maybe I just need to just shut up, spend more time swimming, and stop worrying what anyone thinks about my form.

I think its important here to also note and recognize how far my swimming has come in the last few months.  My first day in the pool and the first time I even attempted to swim any distance at all was April 21st!  Thats only two months ago.  So I should give myself some credit for making it from not being able to swim a single 25 yard length in the pool to now being able to continuously swim a half mile.  My swimming has come a long long way and sometimes I spent too much time being frustrated that it hasn't come further faster when really I should be pretty psyched at my progress.  I still suck in the pool without a wetsuit on allowing me to not kick so much (at all really) but I'm getting there.  I'll focus on joining a masters group in the offseason and be swimming 2+ miles a session sans wetsuit before I know it I'm sure.

So...    I got back from the swim, and ran out to one more store to finish my massive restock of all things food and fuel related.  In the last two days I've been to Target, Shaws, and Trader Joes to restock my empty fridge and cupboards (a side effect of all my recent work travel).  I've spent a small fortune (why the hell is eating so damn healthy so expensive?) but I now have lots of good yummy food to last me quite a long time.  I will say out loud that it just plain sucks that I have to spend extra to buy vegetables, fruit, and meats that are not processed, not covered in pesticides, not full of hormones, not stuck in a tiny cage, and not fed crap that they shouldn't be eating.  But I feel better putting that stuff in my body than anything else.  So yay me, boo grocery stores!  Organic, free range, grass fed etc...etc...  should be the norm.  Not the luxury item!!   And if your a longtime friend of mine reading this...  I know I know...   I used to eat the non healthy crap in ridiculous quantities...   but I've seen the light and am sticking to my Paleo-esque "Perimeter" diet.  With a few exceptions.

So on the recent theme of pictures that make me happy heres a couple that really make me smile.  Yay!  A full fridge, freezer and cupboard!  And theres 48 20oz bottles of gatorade too that are stashed away.  Which incidentally are on sale at Target currently.

And then after rushing back from Trader Joes I went right into a conference call with more bad news about a particular work project scaling way back.  Hmmm...   maybe the economy hasn't quite rebounded enough for my industry to stabilize yet.  Seems like the back half of my year is going form jam packed to not so good.  Which means more training time, but less money to stash away for that shiny new tri bike, the surgery I want to do in the off season, swim coaches, and perhaps money to travel to a December or January Marathon.  I may have to try and find something closer and cheaper than the Disney race I've had my eye on.  Especially as a sick and twisted part of me was considering doing the "goofy" which is a half and a full marathon on back to back days.  Which seemed like fun.

Ok...   time for me to do some work and then get ready to head to the TT which I'm really really looking forward to.  Its going to be a great day and I love getting to see everyone and race against them.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Rest Day and Weekly Summary

Today is theoretically a rest day.  However I had planned to do a swim today. Well sort of.  Swimming today is optional.  However after getting up at 5am yesterday and having a long fun day I was in no mood to be all that active this morning.  I woke up feeling pretty exhausted and incoherent.  And being that swim partner for the morning also wasn't all that excited about it we both happily let it go away.  Which is why I was excited when I got an email a little later from someone else suggesting we swim at 6pm today.  Perfect!  So I set about trying to get some work done throughout the day and right around 5pm the heavy rains and thunderstorms started.  Ugh.  Weather forecast has a thunderstorm warning in it for pretty much all night and it looked awful.  Of course its now 6:30pm and sunny of course... but I suspect it will start up again.  The radar didn't look good so cancelling the swim instead of being a 1/2 mile from the beach when the lighting starts was probably a good idea.  But I'm bummed as I was going to go for my first continuous mile swim tonight.  Oh well..   instead I'm going to try it tomorrow morning with the 6am group.

So now I'm just feeling entirely useless.  I stopped work at 5 and have done nothing but read tri junk and other facebook silliness online, and other such unproductive pursuits.  I haven't done any cleaning, unpacking, vacation photo organizing or anything else I should be doing.  And even worse I've been eating Apple butter sandwhiches all day because I have so little food in the house.  So really I shouldn't be writing this, I should at the very least be out food shopping.  But that seems exhausting too as I need to go to Target, Trader Joes, and Shaws to do all that.  I need a lot of stuff! 

Anyway, in the last hour I was reading an entertaining thread on about terms you would use when getting passed by people you wish hadn't passed you during a triathlon.  Such as...

geezered...   for getting passed by someone much much older than you
chick'd...   for getting passed by a woman.
elvis'd...    getting passed by a dude in an Elvis costume.  This one has lots of variations for all the crazy people who like to run 5ks mostly in costumes.  It sucks when they pass you.  At least thats what I'm told : )
Richard Simmons'd...   getting passed by anyone in an animal print speedo
junionred...   getting passed by a child
hot chick'd..   getting passed by someone you enjoy watching go by which then turns into my favorite term...

Pace Booty!   Which is for lack of a better way of explaining it...   a great piece of tail you can happily stare at while you hold a steady distance behind them letting them pace you all the way to the finish.  And yes...   I have been guilty of this.  During marathons's "pace booty" can get you through a lot of miles.  And don't think this just applies to men.  I know many women who are equally of fond of "pace booty".  I just hand't heard it called that before.

Ok...  so weekly summary.  I'm gonna make this quick and then go do some grocery shopping.

Last week I ran, I swam, I biked, and I didn't do any weight training.  but I did do some kayaking, hiking, and a whole lot of walking while on vacation.  Total training volume is down a bit as I had two rest days last week.  One after the weekend of a 13 mile run, 3 hour kayak paddle, 70 mile bike ride on monday which was needed and scheduled.  And one no thursday as I was travelling home from 5am-2am. 

Highlights...    great open water practice with Penelope where I learned some key relaxtion techniques and my new mantra...  "swim like the fat old ladies at the pool", and a fantastic olympic brick workout where I came of the bike running 7:30s initially for a 10K and settled into 8s on a hilly course.  I also had a great 50 miler on Sunday that I felt nice and strong through most of which was great.

Total Training Hours: 9.25

Running: 22 miles, 3 runs

Bike:  70 miles, 2 rides.  (thursday travel day would have been my third ride)

Swim: 1.5 hours  2 Open water sessions

Weight Training...   I lifted some spoonfulls of ice cream into my mouth.  Does that count?  C'mon!  I was on vacation!  Seriously... the weight training had to go... all the hiking, kayaking, and everything fun I was doing was just too tiring to double up on workouts at the same time.  So I took a couple weeks off from the weights.

so there you have it. 

Next up...   some quality open water swim workouts this week where I'll decide between the Oly or Sprint Tri for my first on the 11th, and a new longest ride planned for Sunday of 82 miles.  I can't wait!  Ok...  now I'm off to go get some groceries...   I promise.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nick's Big Day Out

Wow...   a lot happened today...   I'm exhausted!  But if I don't write this now its not going to get written!

Up at 530am and rushed around like a crazy fool and managed to stuff all kinds of gear, clothes, food and my bike in the car and get out the door by 6 when I headed off to Goddard State Park to go and watch the Oh My Goddard Sprint Triathlon being held today.  I went as I wanted to show support for my fellow club members as well as to go and watch a triathlon so I'll know what I'm walking into in two weeks.  I'll definitely be a little more calm now that I know a little bit more about what to expect.

When I arrived I managed to spot CJ and Luis and get a good seat to watch the first wave of the swim start go off.  I was pleased to see that it only looked like about 15-20 people per wave which wasn't so intimidating.  The swim course also didn't look too bad.  Although it did seem a little longer than what CJ and I swam yesterday.  I watched the waves all go off and then watched the first swimmers go through transition as I waited for CJ and Luis to exit the water.  I caught a shot of each of them running by and heading into T1 and then headed out to watch the bike course for a bit.  It was fun to watch the fast men and women rushing by on the bike course.  What a great sound as they go flying by. 

I feel a lot better having watched a small local race to get a feel for what those are like and I'm now looking forward to my first race in a couple of weeks.  I'm a bit jealous that some of my friends knocked their first tri out of the way today whereas I still have a couple weeks to go.  But I'm glad I've waited till the right time.  Speaking of my first...   I'm still deciding between the olympic and the sprint distance races.  Either of which I can knock the bike and run off no sweat, but the swim is where I'm a bit concerned, especially as the first half of it is into a moving current that means no resting or you drift backwards.  But I'll make that decision this week after I see how my swim workouts go.

Heres a shot first of CJ, and then of Luis heading to T1
And here's a shot of everyone getting the swim course instructions Pre-Race

I left the Tri at 8:30 and rushed north to run a couple of errands and then meet up with Nancy.  After Luis didn't show at the afternoon swim workout yesterday I had a strong hunch that he was going to have to bail out of our afternoon ride plans on Sunday, especially as he had his first tri that morning.  Right around that same time I got an email from Nancy about her plans changing as well and a plan came together for a long sunday ride together. 

So we met up and loaded up the bikes on the car and headed off to Westport, MA.  We followed one of the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen's 50 mile rides out there.  What a great place to ride!  It was beautifull out there with the exception of the heavy fog at the beaches.  In fact when we rode past the beach you could barely even see the ocean it was so foggy.  Fortunately we didn't stay in the fog bank too long which was good as visibility was really bad which I'm sure meant drivers wouldn't see us until pretty late too. 

The weather otherwise was pretty hot and humid for a lot of the ride although there were some nice breezes along the way.  Nancy and I have done a few long rides together and I always enjoy them as we do a nice mix of paces along the way, some chit chat, and some nice long moments of serious effort too.  So its a well balanced ride.  Somewhere around mile 40 we stopped at this little general store.  It was a seriously odd place.  There is one little fridge in it though that had a bunch of cold drinks in it that I was very happy to see so we were able to restock on fluids.  Other than that it seemed to be filled with lots of musty funky smelling oddities. After a brief rest we headed off again.  Which is right around the time Nancy said something about her legs being sore.  Which I thought to myself...   oh thats good, maybe we can take it easy pace wise for a bit as I'm kind of starting to tire out a bit.  Apparently this soreness only lasted about 60 seconds and then we picked up the pace.  Personally my soreness lasted about five minutes so it was all I could do to hold her wheel until I loosened up again.  And then a chunk of time after that apparently I was feeling much better and I took a turn pulling.  Fortunately for me that time also coincided with the longest descent of the day.  Which wasn't that steep, but it was good and long so that was nice.  At this point we were only about 3-5 miles away from the car and Nancy grabbled the lead and did her best Mark Cavendish impression almost leaving me in the dust.  This time I was really struggling to hold her wheel and I slipped back a good three feet before I managed to fight my way back.  But it made for a fun end to a great ride.  In the end we averaged 17.8mph which was perfect considering the mix of relaxed and hard efforts during our ride, and it will also leave us both fresh to slaughter the PB Time Trial on Tuesday night where we're both hoping to set new PRs which is going to be tough for me after such a strong outing the other day.  I'm just hoping for a 20mph average over my previous best 19.5 average.

Definitely a great ride today followed by a nice visit to the very grey and foggy Horsneck Beach to lay around and recover, and a nice dinner on the way home to end the day with.  Great day!  Sadly the end to this day though means that tomorrow reality must once again set in and I have to bury myself in work.  Ugh.  I'm not looking forward to it.  But rather than dwell on it I'll instead share this one last image that makes me smile just looking at it.  Today was one of those days where I think Rhode Island heard me talking about wanting to move again someday and how much more beautifull riding out west was, and how much I enjoy being around other athletes.  So in order to convince me to stay it arranged for good company, a great ride through a beautifull area, and some relaxing time at the beach.  So what is this a picture of?  a beach?  a rolling landscape?  wildlife? two very hot, humid, and sweaty riders?

No its much more simple than that.  Its just two bikes racked on top of my car at the end of a great ride on a great day with great company.  And as far as I'm concerned Sunday's don't get much better than that.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Its Good To Be Home!

I had a fantastic time out west, and I put in some great training out there...   but most of that was me flying solo.  Today has been just the opposite I'm happy to say.

This morning my goal was to run 13 miles.  A couple of weeks ago I had already promised a buddy of mine new to running that I would run 3 miles with him, so my plan was to do ten before meeting up with him and then do a 3 mile cool down type run with him as he runs at a pace about two minutes per mile slower than my norm.  I've come to realize that I just can't say no whenever anyone asks if I want to train together.  In fact sometimes I say yes too often and put too much training in.  But when Nancy asked if I was interested in running together this morning I was more than happy to have company on my long run.  Logistically it took us a bit to work out but in the end it timed out perfectly with me leaving the end of our run to head to the start of the next one in my car and making it there with a minute to spare.  Which was perfect as there wasn't enough time for my old legs to get all stiff and uncooperative.

Nancy and I ran a nice ten miler that wound through Lincoln Woods.  It was interesting running in 70 degrees temps with humidity after training in 60 degree weather with cool breezes and no humidity for two weeks.  I definitely need to get used to running in the heat again.  After so many solo miles of running you forget just how fast ten miles go by with good company and conversation.  The time flew by!  Before I knew it I was on my way to the east side to meet up with my friend.

This particular friend will remain nameless.  As I think new runners can be a bit sensitive about their pace and how good or bad their runs are...   so its only fair to protect the innocent should someone we both know be reading this.  Anyway...   we set of with the intention to run at least three miles but possibly stretch his longest run done to date out to 4 miles.  Sadly at about two miles in his back was really starting to bother him and we stopped to stretch.  Unfortunately at that point he just wasn't able to run any more without pain so I happily suggested we walk it in.  I felt bad as I think he was definitely annoyed that we weren't running, and to some extent perhaps a bit embarrassed by it, but I did my best to reassure him that it was all good, and then change the subject so we didn't dwell on it.  I tried to explain that running at our age is all about healing one injury or weird pain only to discover its moved to somewhere else on your body.  In his case shin pain has gone away and been replaced by lower back pain.  I just hope I did my best to stay positive, and reassure him.  I'm really proud of him!  He's lost 35lbs and looked great!  I hope we can do it again sometime soon when he's feeling better.  I know I'm new to all things active, but being able to run with people newer to running than I am is great fun.  Its a shame some of my friends get all sensitive about pace.  I can happily run or shuffle all the way down to 12 minute miles with good company.  But some people just think I'll get all annoyed at their pace.  Nope...     so I was psyched my friend wanted to run together.  I'm sure we'll nail a new furthest distance for him next time.  I'll be looking forward to seeing the smile on his face when we nail his first four or five miler together.

So after all of that we stopped for coffee at Starbucks and chit chatted and caught up for a long time.  Its funny but we mostly used to see each other at cigar bars.  We would catch up by sharing a few drinks and a cigar.  But now I don't smoke cigars any more and I rarely drink so all that went away so I haven't seen him in quite some time.  So it was great to catch up over coffee and chat about running.  I can certainly talk anyone's ear off about all things to do with training.  So hopefully I didn't yammer away too much!

After that for whatever reason on the way home I wanted more coffee.  Maybe cause I'm still on west coast time and getting up at 6am this morning was a big shock to my system.  So I went into Dunkin Donuts near my house to get a coffee.   There was a rather large gentleman in line in front of me.  He ordered his coffee and a donut.  They put the donut down first.  The dude grabs it out of the bag and starts mauling it right there in line.  As he shoved the last bite of it into his mouth he reached into his wallet to pay for it.  Yep...  he finished it before he had even paid for it.  It was a mix of horrificly tragic, sad, and funny all in one.  I felt for the guy to some extent...   but seriously dude.  Theres no need to eat your donut while your still in line.  And being that in my fat days I have eaten shamefull amounts of bad food I feel like I can in fact comment on this poor guy.  I can only hope he sees the light like I did one day.

Speaking of all things weight related....

Announcing things publicly makes them harder to avoid...   so in the end on my vacation I managed to put on 4 pounds.  I left at 138 and came back at 142.  Now I know EXACTLY how I put on the weight.  I cheated a lot and ate a LOT out there.  Partly because I overcompensated on my eating as I increased my training volume out there and also because I was on vacation in a house with ice cream and all sorts of other deliciousness that doesn't exist in my own home.  I have the willpower to not buy bad foods, I do not however have the willpower to not eat them when they are in front of me.  So yeah...  I put on 4 pounds.  So its time to get serious!  My goal is to get back down to 138 by the 11th of July and with any luck maybe get that down to 135.  Between that and plenty of training I will be a hill climbing machine!

Next up in my day was to go home and get a little rest.  Contemplate cleaning my house and unpacking for a couple of hours and then head out to meet some of the boys for an open water swim on the course of the Oh My Goddard triathlon that some of my friends are racing tomorrow.  I plan on going out there tomorrow too to show my support and take some photos and watch the transitions, swim starts and other parts so I'll at least have watched one tri before doing one.  Anyway...   the original plan today was that I was going to meet up with quite a few people from my tri club to swim the course for the Goddard Sprint tri that takes place tomorrow.  I suspect it was due to the world cup soccer game going long or something but only CJ showed up.  Really?  Soccer is more important than a workout?  Whats wrong with you people!

Anyway...   CJ and I waited till about 5:15 and then we said screw it and did the swim.  Swimming in the ocean was very interesting.  I can't say I loved it, but nor did I hate it.  The water at Goddard tastes AWFUL!  Its also really cloudy.  I can't beleive that this is a good thing.  And I know its been opening and closing lately due to bacteria levels.  So I was a little hesitant.  Originally I thought it would be a good idea as I thought that the buoys for the course might be out already so it would be a good practice but they weren't.  Fortunately CJ had attended the clinic the tri offered a couple of weeks ago so he knew the course layout so we just swam the rough layout.  So we swam out from the beach.  Weird!  What a strange sensation when your bobbing around in the small swells in the ocean.  A bit odd to get used to.  We went out pretty far and then made the left turn.  Thats when it got weird.  There were little jellyfish everywhere!  I could see them through my goggles as little white blobs and my hands were constantly touching them.  Yuck!  At first they freaked me out but then I realized that they didn't sting.  I still didn't like it, but at least I wasn't worried about getting stung.  Although I didn't flip onto my back at all I did tread water once or twice very briefly to get my bearings.  The salt water was a bit disorientating at first and it took me a bit to get comfy.  Eventually I settled into my groove.  All that work with bilateral breathing keeping me swimming straight has certainly helped but in the moving ocean I'm definitely going to have to sight more often than in a calm lake.  Good to know.  Before I knew it I was swimming back into shore.  Thats kind of a fun sensation.  The waves were super small, but there were still little swells you sort of surfed in on as you approached the beach.  My fingertips hit sand and it was over.  I don't think it took us very long.  Definitely a good first open ocean swim experience.  But the bacteria thing kind of freaked me out so I went home and gave my wetsuit a super long cleaning, same with my swimsuit, then scrubbed with antibacterial soap and used antibacterial mouthwash too.  Can't be too careful!  I'm sure I'll be fine but like I said..   water that tastes that bad against your lips can't be good for you.

Oh one other thing....    as I reached the shore and stood up and CJ came in behind me and did the same there was a woman in the water next to us.  I can't remember exactly what she said but it was something like how impressed she was we both were able to do that swim.  Definitely a rockstar moment.  I felt pretty bad ass.  Definitely made me smile.  : )
Next up tomorrow is that I'm going to go and watch the Goddard tri in the morning and take some photos for fun and to support my tri club members and then I'll go get a long ride in afterwards.  Should be a good day, and in a way its my last day of vacation before I have to start cranking away on monday.  So I had better enjoy it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

.4 + .4 = .8 Miles in Open Water!

So I'm back in RI and thanks to the ever busy discussion board I managed to jump on a 6pm open water swim at Georgiaville Pond.  I decided I'd do my usual .4 mile loop out to the buoy and back.  In my head before I headed out I was thinking two things....    swim like the old ladies in the pool (slow, smooth, and gracefull), and for goodness sake don't embarass yourself.  I'm still embarrassed from that open water day when I'd swam too many days in a row and I spent most of the one half mile circuit I did on my back in front of everyone as I had no energy left.  Anyway...    in the end 5 of us showed up for the swim tonight.  Three of them decided they would go for the big one mile loop and two of us opted for the shorter .4 mile loop out to the buoy and back.  My hope was that I could do two circuits to the buoy for a total of .8 miles.

Once in the water I managed to settle down quickly.  In fact much faster than I usually settle down.  It was fun starting off in a group, even if it was a small group.  The faster swimmers pulled away fairly quickly and soon enough it was just me headed out to the buoy.  I felt really strong and relaxed though which was great.  I just kept going...  one stroke at a time, nice and slow and relaxed.  It felt great.  In the end I didn't stop at all.  Well sort of.  The sun was really low and very bright and it made sighting very tricky...   so there were a couple brief moments I had to tread water when I lost my bearings and was trying to make sure I was going the right way, but I never flipped onto my back which was awesome!

When I reached shore after the first circuit I caught my breath for a couple minutes and then headed out for another circuit.  This one was even stronger and I suspect faster than the first although I didn't have a watch on.  When I reached the buoy I swam around it like I was in a race and headed right back into shore.  I did ok with my sighting today... not great, but not bad.  I need to keep practicing it and I'll be fine.  Its kind of funny, but I tend to swim fairly straight.  Which makes me not all that fussed about sighting.  So I have a lot of conversations with myself underwater that go something liket his.  Ummm....   dude.   Yeah?   You should probably check to see if your going the right way....    Nahhh....     Are you sure?   Sort of.  Yeah, maybe you should look.   Umm....    Ok I guess.  And then I pop my head up for a quickie look and then get back to sticking my head in the water and forgetting about it.  In a way I kind of like it when your staring down into the darkness of the water.  You can't really hear a whole lot, or see much of anything other than your own hands cutting throug the water in front of your eyes.  Its kind of peacefull.  I'm starting to find my zen swimming place.  I'm not there 100% but I can see it in the distance.  I feel like a one mile continuous swim is in my very near future.

After the swim Erin and I went for a quick 4 mile run.  I got a chance to chat with her a bit about Team in Training which is something I'm interested in looking into further.  It sounds like a great group to get involved in, and the cause is very important to me as well.  I'm a little hesitant though as my work travel means I would miss so many of the workouts.  But it was good to hear a little bit about it.  I think I may look into joining up with them next year and doing an olympic and then my first half iron with them.  Definitely something to think about.  Either way I'd like to do something with either Team In Training or with Team Livestrong next year.  I haven't decided which yet.  Its hard as the Livestrong organization holds a very strong personal tie for me on several different levels and I really want to do something as part of that organization, but Team In Training offers up so much more in terms of coaching that its also a great choice.  Still I have plenty of races in my future so perhaps I'll do both in the coming years.  We'll see.

Anyway...   a good day today!  Next up...   a ten miler in the morning before meeting up with an old college friend of mine who has just started to get into running and then were going to run three miles together after that.  He's also considering running a five miler for the first time too.  So who knows...  maybe tomorrow will be a 15 mile day.  We'll see!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Farewell San Juan Island... I'll miss you.

Farewell San Juan Island.  Tomorrow I'll be leaving your friendly shores.  Thank you for sharing all that is yours and for allowing me to come out here and swim, bike and run along your rolling hills and crisp cool waters.  The two weeks I've spent out here have been some of the most focused and best training I've ever done.  I managed to block work out completely and really just focus on each day's training.  My final brick the other day I felt so strong.  Each day out here I worked harder and each day I reaped the rewards.  Waking up each morning and knowing that the only things I had to do were put in my workout and then enjoy the rest of the day with some of my closest friends was so amazing.  So good for my soul.  Before I left for here I felt like work and life and were reaching this giant crescendo of unpleasantness.  I was burning out...  not on training, but on everything else in life.  Two weeks here away from the world, from work, and from the chaos that is my life has completely restored me.  I feel like I'm ready to head home and continue my final month of training before heading into my first traithlon and to dig into the second half of my busy work season.

When I left San Juan Island last year I was 100% positive that I wanted to move out here.  And my plan coming out this time was to confirm that belief.  And I almost would have...   had it not been for that amazing day of training in Redmond, WA where I experienced what it was like to train in a place with so many other serious athletes around.  As much as I love the beauty of this island I know that I'm meant to be around other athletes.  I know that it will motivate me to train harder and become stronger and stronger.  In a way that group of athletes called to me in much the same way as this island did.  I don't think I'll move to Redmond but this training vacation has me thinking that perhaps I should do more vacations like this to other areas where athletes tend to train together like Asheville, NC or Boulder, CO.  Or perhaps the budding Tri-NE club in Rhode Island will provide the same thing.  The truth is I always think I'll move and I feel like its becoming time to think about it, but who knows if I ever will.  As long as I'm surrounded by good friends and good people to train and compete with I'll be just fine.  Who knew that I would feel so drawn to a large group of athletes?  just a few short years ago I was more drawn to a bag of chips and a sofa... and now listen to me!  Now I want to go somewhere where there are tons of other athletes of all levels to train with, lots of coaches, massage therapists, gyms, trainers, bike shops, and lots and lots of triathlons, running and bike races.  Lakes and ocean's to swim in year round and 50 meter pools everywhere.  Who knew that I'd be so drawn to Triathlons so quickly?  I guess in a way I'm not surprised at all.  I still haven't completed my first one and yet I know 100% that I'm on the path to completing a Full Ironman in the next two years or so. 

I'm getting a bit off the subject here...    oh and by the way the above photo was taken at our picnic dinner tonight at Lime Kiln Point park.  Some wine, cheese, a baguette, crackers, and the company of close friends and their two fantastic kids.  I couldn't help but raise a glass to the island.  This place is so endlessly beautifull that you almost have to pinch yourself to know its real.  This island brings joy to me in a way that no other place ever has.  Riding and running along its rolling roads has been amazing....  I feel so lucky to have been able to run away to this oasis for two weeks.  So fortunate to have been able to come out here with my bike and train away as if the rest of the world didn't exist.  Well tomorrow I have to reaquaint myself with the real world and its problems, tall buildings, and lack of greenery.  But just knowing this place is out here waiting for me somehow makes that all seem bearable.  I know Rhode Island also holds so much beauty though, and I think its time I reaquaint myself with it.  Its time to really put together some rides in the more scenic parts of the state and remember why I live there, and start getting in some open ocean swims instead of swimming circles around some ponds.

My mind is really all over the place tonight.  Really I should go to bed considering its now 11: 15 and I have to getup at 4:45 to get to the ferry on time to start the long slow journey home.  The thought of standing on the back of the ferry and watching the island grow smaller makes me sad indeed.  But as Willy says...   "Its better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all".  And I am deeply thankfull to have had the pleasure of falling in love with this island once again. 

Open Water in the Great Northwest...

This morning I went downstairs ready to head out to the pool and ran into Penelope in the kitchen.  She asked if I thought I could do a pool AND an open water session later in the day.  I said nope!  But I CAN go take my bike apart and pack that up and do an open water session later.  So that was the new plan.  So I spent the morning packing my bike away and got ready to hit the open water.  My friend Andrew came with us and offered to take pictures and watch the kids and we all headed out to a small local pond.  It was really a beautifull little pond with crystal clear water.  Almost too clear.  In fact I had my frist case of the open water heebie jeebies when I first got in as I could see a little too much of the bottom and I wasn't used to that.  It was a bit creepy!

The water in the lake was very cold initially.  Definitely colder than what I'm used to back home.  But once we adjusted it wasn't bad.  I can't say I would have been able to do it without a wetsuit, although Penelope took her wetsuit off after a while and said it was ok.  But I dunno...   I kept mine on the whole time.

Initially I wasn't doing all that well...  lots of short bursts of unfocused energy.  But then Penelope swam over and the two of us worked on putting together some lengths of relaxed swimming.  It was really fun trying to draft off of her and keep her legs in sight to my right or left and follow her without actually sighting.  I finally then managed to relax and we put together my new mantra for all of my future triathlon swims.  The two of us were joking the other day about whenever we go to the pool there are these rather for lack of a better way of saying it...   ROUND women in the pool doing the worlds slowest freestyle laps.  They float so well that their balance is excellent but their arm movements are UBER slow.  So my new mantra is to swim like the old lades in the pool.  Slow, relaxed, effortless and like I can go forever.  And when I focused on trying to swim like them I actually did quite well.  I even started to enjoy the swim.  Crazy huh?  So it was a good day today.  Even better as I got to swim with Penelope.  The two times we managed to swim together out here have been great as her comments and tips have been very helpfull.  I'm looking forward to getting in the open water once I get back.

Its become a joke here that I have the "wildlife mojo" meaning that wherever I go the wildlife comes out to see me here.  And today was no exception.  After 30 minutes or so in the water as we started to get out a bald eagle did a majestic lap of the pond all around us fairly low to us too.  It was beautifull.

Having Andrew with us today meant that he was able to take some pictures of Penelope and I in the water.  Some of which came out quite good.  So heres a few of the better ones....  or at least the ones I'll show as my form looks good in them, although my head is still lifting out of the water too much when I breathe...  I have to keep working on that.  But my bilaterall breathing is still rock solid.  At this point trying to breathe only on one side is actually harder for me than both.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Why stop at just three sports in one day?  Lets go kayking too!

My friend Andrew and I signed up for the sunset kayak trip with one of the local kayak guide places.  The currents are pretty strong here and combined with water you can only survive for about 8 minutes in before hypothermia sets in means you really should only kayak out here if you are in a group, and you are with someone who knows and understands the tides and currents.  Turns out Andrew and I are the only one's who signed up for the tour so it was just us in a tandem kayak (noone out here rents solo ocean kayaks unfortunately) and two guides.

I did this trip last year and it was amazing....   this year's trip was really beautifull...  but unfortunately our guides were pretty lackluster.  We had a new woman who was training to take out her own groups who said about 4 words, and the annoying guy who called everything "rad" and made lots of bad jokes, and would constantly make up facts and tell you them, and they say...  no not really.  It was pretty lame.  But I still made the best of it.

Kayaking out on the water at sunset is really beautifull here.  Its breathtaking... and the silent moments listening to the ocean and the wind are what really recharge my batteries.  At least in the moments when captain rad boy wasn't yammering away. 

Wildlife wise we saw bald eagles, lots of harbor seals, an otter, and a Minke Whale Mother and Calf that was pretty amazing.  Sadly though no Orcas from the kayak.  But it was still a great paddle.  The water was so calm that it reflected the sky and it was just breathtaking.  It realy is so beautifull out here.  You really have to experience it but hopefully the pictures below do it some justice.  There really is no better way to end a day than watching the sun set from a kayak.

Next up...  Tomorrow is my last day on the island.  So I'll start it with a swim in the pool, and then I think we may go out on my friend's boat, and probably end up at Lime Kiln park one more time to watch the Orcas swim by, and then were all going out to dinner tomorrow night.  Somewhere in there I have to pack my bike back in the case too.  Its going to be a busy, but good day.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tri Tuesday!

Once again its Tri Tuesday....

Started the morning with an 1100 yard swim.  Not my best swim workout and I'm kind of dissapointed in myself.  I expected better after a few days off from swimming, and a complete rest day on Monday.  I did manage a bunch of 100's and one 200 today so that was good.  But I really wanted to do a 250 and I was beyond the turn after the 200, got distracted, and then managed to not rotate enough and suck in a mouthfull of water, gag, and then put my feet down.  So I was annoyed at myself.  No big deal right?  So I rested for a couple of minutes and then tried again.  Twice.  Both times I never got beyond a 100.  I either couldn't relax enough in the water today for long enough, or I was just fighting mental blocks today.  But I was annoyed afterwards.  Not the greatest workouts.  I really need to think hard about what my swimming plan is going to be going forwards from here.  I need to be able to swim a half mile continuously and I need to put the best plan forward to reach that goal by the end of July.  I have just over a month.  Now I know I can get through the distance with some breaks, and I'm not worried about anything happening...  I'd just rather swim the whole thing without stopping, getting run over, and without it taking me thirty minutes!  That would suck!

Anyway...    finished the swim, did ten minutes in the hot tub to relax my shoulders and then headed back to the ranch where I got ready for my brick workout.  Actually I made a quick stop at the bike store for an LED flashy light to go on the back of my bike because it was really foggy out today, so I figured I'd play it safe, and I left mine at home.  Oops.

My plan today was to do an olympic size brick.  14 miles doesn't seem like a long enough ride to me, nor do 5K runs.  So a 30 mile ride and 10K run seemed appropriate.  By the time I got my gear ready to go the sun was out in force.  I kept the flasher on just in case I ran into fog elsewhere on the island (I did) but I managed to only have to wear a tri top and bottom it was so nice out which was great considering how cold my long ride was the other day.  The bike today felt really good.  I only averaged 18mph for the route which wasn't great, but I'll take it.  I'm not trying to make excuses but I do think the road surface here is coming into play.  So much of it is this nasty chip seal stuff.  Its like someone spread gravel all over the road and then poured tarmac over it.  So its like gravel glued to the road.  Its not very smooth and it vibrates the crap out of you on a fast descent.  Its kind of annoying.  I suspect on smoother roads my average speed would have been higher, but whatever.  It was the usual island full of rollers today but I did well to attack the hills and hammer the descents as best I could.  The ride was really fun actually.  The weather however was crazy!  Felt like about 70-75 degrees in the sun and HOT! and then I got to the west side of the island and the fog was still there.  You would ride into the fog and the breeze and it felt like the temperature dropped twenty degrees.  It was freezing!  And then you would pop out in a sheltered part in the sun and it was hot again.  Weird.

Last night I read a great thread on slowtwitch about a recent accident a pro was involved in with a car that he's recovering from, and then another similar thread on BT about the same thing.  So bike accidents were in my head today.  I was determined to be more aware and to be carefull to not do anything dumb on my last ride on the island.  But never the less I almost had two accidents today.  One where I came round a corner and there was a momma racoon with two babies in two right in the middle of my lane.  We both looked at each other like AHHHHHH!!!!!  (I was descending at close to 30mph at the time!) and then they ran right while I swerved left.  Yikes!  That was close!  Caught my breath and then laughed it off and kept going.  The other one I as hammering down a very slight descent and a pickup truck passes me and then turns right into a driveway in the distance.  As I reach the driveway he BACKS UP back into the road!  Apparently he just pulled into the driveway for a U Turn.  I yelled, he stopped, I swerved and lived instead of going into the back of the pickup bed and over the top of it.  Ugh.  That one was close!  Too close!  The dude didn't even look, and I thought he was going to keep going up the driveway or had stopped to get out and get the mail or something.

So those were two close calls....   in retrospect however I did do some stupid stuff today.  The downtown here is really small and my ride went through it twice.  Both times I FLEW through the town and the stop signs and the intersections.  Granted I looked, the intersections were very open with great visibility, but is keeping my average speed up worth being stupid?  no.  Its not.  Mental note...   stop riding dumb!

Now here's the good bit....    so after all that I was about three miles from the house.  I had put my tri shoes on the bike and went without socks.  My plan was to try the 30 in no socks as well as the 5K and see how my feet took it.  So as I'm hammering away towards the house it occured to me that I could try a flying dismount.  After all theres noone here to see me fall over!  So without thinking about it too much I went for it.  Lifted one foot up on a descent and stopped pedalling, opened the velcro, pulled my foot out and put it back on top the shoe and kept pedalling.  Pedalled a few strokes and then did the same to my other foot.  Then I approached the last hill on the way to the house.  An UP hill.  Hmm....  hopefully I can climb with my feet on top of the shoes.  Yep.  That wasn't bad at all!  Rounded the turn into the driveway of the house and headed to the grass in case I dumped and then did a flying dismount...  one foot over the top of the bar onto the top of the other foot, hit the brakes, jumped off, grabbed the saddle and ran towards my transition area.  Put the bike down, threw my shoes on, took two steps, remembered to take my helmet off and then off I went on the run.

When I first started the run I thought my watch was off.  Really...  7'30s pace after the ride?  My calves actually felt great in the transition and usually they are jelly.  Maybe I didn't ride hard enough?  I was afraid I'd ridden TOO hard.  Apparently not!  I was flying.  I felt great.  No leg issues at all really.  Best transition yet by far.  I settled into my stride very quickly and in the end I averaged 8'09s for the 10K on a hilly course.  So that was awesome.  The 10K run felt really good.  And I even managed to down a GU and keep my fluids up during it which is something I'm trying to get accustomed to.  I'm not so sure I like GUs but I'm going to keep trying to use them as I know they will help. 

All in all a great great brick workout today.  Sadly my last bike ride on the island.  Tomorrow I have to pack my bike back up and get it ready to go home on thursday.  Great workout day.  I've been home resting for about a couple of hours and soon I'm headed off for a three hour sunset kayak trip to hopefully see the Orcas from a kayak.  Which is awesome and an amazing experience as I did that last year.  Fortunately I'm going with my friend Andrew and they will be providing tandems so I wont have to put in too hard a workout during the paddle.  I'll make him do all the work.  : )

Only one more day left on this fabulous island away from all the realies of real life, work, and all that entails.  Its been a fantastic escape from reality, and some of the best quality training I've ever done.  I'm really proud of all the work I put in out here.  Time for me to go get ready to paddle.  I hope my fellow tri club members are having fun at the TT tonight.  I'm looking forward to racing it next week and seeing everyone again.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rest Day!

So I keep hearing about these rest day things.  Apparently they are good for you.  And although I had originally planned for an open water swim today that sort of fell apart and I opted to do nothing instead.  When I woke up this morning I don't think it was even 50 degrees out.  Its also been cold or cool for a few days out here.  So the outside air temp, and the water temps out here are pretty cold so we opted out of the swim.  Here in the Northwest at this time of year the highs are only in the 60s.  Its not like back home where its in the 80's this week.  I was bummed we cancelled, but it wasn't worth freezing our asses off for.

So then I laid down on the couch with a book thinking about what I would do today.  I felt pretty sore and beat up this morning.  And then the couch felt so comfy and warm and I just didn't want to leave it.  And I haven't other than to eat or get a drink or whatever.  I've been on this couch since about 9AM.  It feels good.  And once noon came around it was pretty clear this is what my body wanted.  So I've spent the entire day replying to emails, goofing off on facebook, reading blogs, online forums, and I finished my "First Traithlons" book and got pretty deep into a mix of Gale Bernhardt's "Training Plans for Multisport Athletes" as well as Joe Friel's "The Triathlete's Training Bible".  Although I feel fairly confident in my current training methods after I finish the pair of sprints I have planned for August I want to get serious about laying down a giant foundation of training for a half ironman next year.  I also want to get much more serious about my training, and start paying much more attention to intervals, heart rates, and hopefully a power meter at some point.  I'd love to do more tri's this year, but my work schedule seems to have me out of town on all the good race weekends which is really bumming me out.  Frankly its one of the many reasons I keep considering a change of career or jobs.  I'm tired of work travel getting in the way of my training and race plans.  Its damn frustrating.  Not to mention it makes things like friendships and relationships challenging as well. 

I only have two more days out here on San Juan Island before I have to make the long journey home.  Thursday is going to be a brutal travel day which starts with getting on the 6am ferry to the mainland, a two hour drive to return the rental car, then to the aiport, connect in Chicago and get into providence just before midnight.  Ugh.  Anyway...   only two more days out here on SJI.  Tomorrow will be a full brick day.  I'll swim in the morning, go back and change clothes and then do an olympic length bike/run brick.  And then after that I'll have to dissasemble and pack up my bike.  Wednesday will just be a swim and run day.  With any luck I'll also fit a sunset kayak trip in out here tomorrow too if the weather is good.  I hope to see the Orcas from a kayak again.  That was amazing when that happened last year.  The sound of their breathing and the giant dorsal fins rising out of the water seen from kayak level was unreal.

Wow this entry is really all over the place today.  Much the way my thoughts are today.  Part of me is bummed that I burned a vacation day doing nothing...  and part of me thinks thats exactly what you should do on a vacation day.  Anyway...  here's hoping I have a good day of training and fun tomorrow after a solid day of rest.

There was one other thing I wanted to touch on today though...    When I started my journey to start working out and get healthy my friends were very supportive and they really helped drive me.  So I always said to myself that I wanted to do the same for others.  So when I can I try and be as encouraging and helpfull as I can be.  I try also to set a positive example where I can and remind people that if I can do it and come from where I was to where I am now that anyone can do it.  I'm very very proud to say that I have been told by several of my friends that I have inspired them to start running, or do their first 5K, or join a gym, or eat a little more healthy.  I can't say enough how much joy that brings me.  This is a note I got from a friend of mine yesterday...  this particular person is referring to how all my facebook comments about my journey helped spur their own mission on to start training to run their first 5K.

"But I'll tell ya man, you really have made me think in all this time I've been watching you. All your posts and your "no excuses " attitude ,.. really has been one of the things that got me thinking. So Thanks. "

These little notes make it all worth it to me.  They push me to go further, faster, and harder.  Much in the same way that my facebook posts and this blog being out their publicly makes me accountable to my friends, fellow athletes, and any other random person that may stop by and read this.  Knowing that I've inspired six of my friends to run their first races or take on a new challenge, or start a new workout routine that they otherwise wouldn't have is pretty special to me.  More than any PR will ever be.  Its just a nice thought to reflect on during a rest day.  Believe me when I say that me helping those people out is the least I can do for all the amazing and positive encouragement that you they provided me with along the way.  Truly I am rich in friends.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekly Summary Week of 6/14 "Vacation"

So I'm going to put the word "vacation" in quotes...   as really I should call this something like a training-cation.  Or something considering that I haven't slowed down one bit....

But heres the summary....

Total hours of training this week: 13.5

Strength Training - Zero!  Yep...   that is the one thing I skipped during vacation.  I just didn't have the energy to do that as well as all the walking, hiking, fun stuff I've been doing.  Oops.

Running:  26.68 Miles total.  Average pace of 8:17/mile

Cycling: 114 miles, split between three rides, a 14 as part of a brick, 30, and a 70.  Average speed of 15.1mph which is lower due to the 30 mile recovery ride at a pretty slow pace.

Swimming: 2.5 hours.  Split via three sessions, all in the pool.

All in all a great week.  Add in all the hiking and walking I've also been doing and even despite all the food I've been eating out here I may not have gained any weight!  We'll find out on Friday morning.

Next up this week....

Open water swim tomorrow, swim/bike/run brick on tuesday, swim/run on wednesday, and then fly home on thursday.

Long Ride Day

So today was my long ride day...   and boy did I ever do a long ride. In fact it was my longest to date.  But before I go into that...  here's a quickie catchup to the silliness that happened after my long run yesterday.

So I ran 13 miles in the morning and then got cleaned up.  Then my friend Andrew and I headed into town to go get some lunch and browse the shops.  At least that was our initial plan...   but then it turned into lets go for a walk.  Ok I thought...  how bad can it be.  I'm a little sore but so what.  Well....  the walk turned into a long walk on this very rocky beach.  Which meant it was a lot of work to get from point A to point B as you were constantly off balance.  It was actually quite a good workout.  Problem being I had already gotten one of those already!  At the end of this rocky beach we took a different trail back to the car to avoid having to go back over the rocks again.  This trail was a very steep one.  So with every step my right hamstring was screaming as it was already sore after my run and all this vertical climbing wasn't helping it any.  And then after we made it back to the truck we drove around the island to the lighthouse on Cattle Point and then walked about there for a while.  Which was about the time I cried uncle and asked if we could stop walking.  My legs were done!  But really though it was all worth it...   as the pictures will show.
So that was the end of yesterday...  on to Today!

I was out the door and on the bike this morning by 930.  A bit of a late start but I allowed myself to sleep in so I'd be well rested for the long ride.  I was hoping to do a 70 mile ride today.  But I allowed myself the option to do only a 50 if I wasn't feeling up to the 70.  There are only so many miles of roads on this island, and sadly they are redoing some of them so instead of a big loop around the island I plotted an out and back course.  The only downside to the course was that part of the out and back also included an out and back to Cattle Point.  Cattle Point is the point on the bottom right of the map.  So essentially I left the house, went through Friday Harbor, around the point and then down all the way to the bottom of Cattle Point and back, and then continued on my route.  So it meant I did the Cattle point out and back twice.  Fortunately that part of the route is rather beautifull.  Even when the weather sucks.  Incidentally the pictures of the lighthouse and the tall grasses above were also taken at Cattle Point.  Heres the map of my route today.

As you can see a lot of it was right on the coast today so there were some amazing views.  I felt really strong on the first 20 miles of the route despite the hills and despite the fact I knew there were some tricky hills and winding roads coming in the later half of the ride.  I think the first twenty miles were also the easiest.  There were plenty of rollers but they weren't that bad.  However after that it got a lot harder.  I headed back out of Cattle Point and towards the western side of the island.  The winds by the way starting at Cattle Point and all the way westward were brutal!  Lots of headwind and crosswind conditions.  As I rounded a corner around mile 30 I was greeted by this massive hill.  In fact I suddenly remembered this hill.  Last time I was out here Penelope and I ran up it.  Its the kind of hill that after you run up it you throw your arms in the air in a victorious manner.  Its a long long hill.  At least a mile, and its dead straight so you can see what lies ahead of you the whole time.  Riding up it was not as bad as running up it but it was a slow grind by the time I hit the top of it.  Fortunately the top has a nice flat bit on it to recover before you start going down again.  And as I was recovering and catching my breath a small group ride of 4 or 5 riders passed me.  Which had I known they were behind me I would have been riding harder.  Anyway...   I chatted with the lead rider and exchanged good mornings and then I sat up and let them pass.  There was a rather cute rider at the back of the pack who rode alongside me long enough to compliment my riding clothes and then they headed off.  I was wearing my Cannondale Red and White racing ensemble today.  Mostly so I could be super visible (its pretty bright!) on the narrown winding roads on the west side of the island).  Anyway she said something about how nice I looked in my Cannondale team outfit.  Its possible she was teasing me... but I'd like to think of it as she was flirting with me.  And since I'm telling the story thats going to be the official version.  I let that group get 20' ahead of me and then I followed their pace.  I didnt' want to hop onto her wheel as I felt that was rude.  Their group then pulled over at one of the scenic overlooks just down the road and I waved goodbye as I carried on.

At this point the roads get really narrow and really windy and you descend for quite a bit.  Its quite tricky, but I had a lot of fun bombing down the hills as much as I dared and leaning the bike over left and right around all the bendy bits.  At this point I was at 30 miles.  I was hoping that this far would get me to 35.  So the last five miles I had to work my way inland to make up.  And there were some obnoxious climbs on those five miles.  Each one followed by a quick descent so that the way back would be just as bad.  I was starting to feel a little tired and the rapid succession of tricky climbs did its best to slow me down and tire me out.  But I persevered.  I was so happy when my watch said 35 miles and I knew I could turn around.

So on the way back I had a bailout location that would cut my route to 50 miles.  But by mile 40 I knew I felt well enough to carry on and go for 70.  The only problem was fluids.  I only had two bottles with me.  So rather than try and wind my way back into town and then out again I decided to just carefully ration my fluids.  Which worked out ok.  I was a little thirsty at the end, but not too bad.  All those lovely descents towards the 30 mile mark meant I had quite the long series of climbs to get back to the Cattle Point out and back.  I fought through those and then I had a blast flying down into Cattle Point.  I knew those roads pretty well by now so I had no fear and really went for it.  New max descent speed of 38.2 mph!  That was FUN!  Theres a fast descent with some nice corners in it with good visibility so I took them nice and wide and FAST.  I was having fun!  Of course this fun turned into suffering when I had to climb back up that descent, but it was worth it.  The rest of the ride passed without too much fuss.  I was pretty tired by mile 60 but knowing there was only ten miles to go helped.  I was really thrilled to reach 70 miles today.  I had considered trying to do a century ride out here, but I think I've decided to save that for the NBW ride.  That way I have a carrot hanging in front of me to reach for that day.  So 70 it was.  Great day today and great ride!  I'm really pleased with how I did.  Of course right now I'm all sore and stiff....  but at 37 I've come to realize this is the price I have to pay for hard workouts.  All in all I averaged 16mph.  Not spectacular, but considering the headwinds, crosswinds, technical route, and the HILLS!, I think thats quite acceptable for my first 70 miler.  So heres a snapshot of the elevation profile.  As you can see theres not a lot of flats out there.

Weatherwise today it was grey and cold.  I was in a bike jersey and shorts but I had arm and leg warmers on and I was borderline cold the entire time.  More so when I was on the exposed west side of the island.  Of course now that I'm inside and typing on the computer the sun is out.  Figures.  Oh well at least it didn't rain.  So here are some pictures from the ride today... the route was so beautifull.  Today was well worth the price to get my bike shipped out here.  So here are a couple shots from today's ride.

The rest of today has been spent eating and resting.  Amazing how hungry burning close to 2000 calories makes you.  Even after eating loads while on the bike.  Keep in mind I'm on vacation but here's what I've eated today so far....

three balance bars 600 calories
4 Powerbars 960 calories
4 Gatorades 500 calories
1 banana 100 calories
2 Cups of homemade granola with milk 250 calories
4 spoonfulls of ice cream! 150 calories
6 Oreos 150 Calories
2 Cheese Quesadillas 700 Calories

Total Calories so far...  3,490
Total Calories burned today 1800

So thats a net of 1690.  Still have 500 calories left for dinner.  Although I'm not even remotely hungry.

Ok...   thats enough rambling for one day...    hope everyone else had a great weekend of training too.  And no...  I don't usually eat oreas and ice cream.  They are never in my house.  But I'm not in my house...   and they were left unattended!