Saturday, July 31, 2010

15.5 Hours to Go To My First Triathlon

Ok...  now its starting to get exciting.  Yesterday I was calm and collected and not really all that fussed about the race on Sunday.  Now I'm excited and nervous and ready to go and starting to dream of racing all out in hopes of a high place.  And no...  I'm not foolish enough to think I'll land a podium spot, but I would like to make the top 20% if I can.

But before I get into that today has been a good day.  This morning I volunteered at a local beginner friendly triathlon called the Deary Triathlon which is put on from the backyard of one of our club members David Deary.  Its an 1/8 mile swim, 14 mile bike, 3 mile run.  Most of the entrants are first timers or people who have only done a few triathlons.  However there were also a few local fast guys and gals too.  I spent a chaotic morning helping out with registration and then I helped out with timing.  I had a great time and got to see many club members and friends too.  Definitley a fun morning.  Perfect weather for the race too and it looks like I'll have the same weather for mine too which is great.

After the Deary I came home and got my bike prepped and then headed out for some mount/dismount practice.  I just headed to a somewhat quieter section of my neighborhood and did lots of circuits of one of the blocks mounting and dismounting my bike when leaving the shoes in the pedals over and over again.  I also again practiced getting in and out of the aerobars, corning tightly when in aero, and reaching for and returning the water bottle to the rear cage.  I just wanted to spend an hour reinforcing all of that.  My dismounts all went perfectly.  And I'd say 80% of my mounts went perfectly and the other 20% went very well.  Not perfect, but very quick recoveries, no panic, and no swerving.  So if I missed getting a foot in or on a shoe I calmly recovered and got it on the second time.  Even that will be much faster than the time I'll lose by running through transition wearing bike shoes and putting the shoes on while I'm not making forward progress.  I'm glad I spent that hour as that was very worth it and leaves me feeling confident in my decsion to go that route tomorrow.

So now its 430pm.  All I have left to do is shower and double check everything.  But really I'm all packed and ready to go.  So now all I have to do is relax, and eat dinner in a little bit and then try and go to bed very soon.  I have to leave the house at 430AM tomorrow.  UGH!  So I had better try and go to bed early.  But before I do here's my race plan for tomorrow.....

-Get there right at 5:30 and get registered, body marked, and setup in transition as soon as possible.
-Go through my checklist twice and make sure I'm all set.
-Get at least a ten minute warmup swim in.
-Start on the outside lane of my swim wave, try and keep clear water, but be aggressive and go for the first buoy pretty hard and then relax through the rest of the swim as best I can.
-Slow run out of the water into transition
-Wetsuit off, glasses on, helmet on grab bike and GO!!!
-Run towards the front of the mount area ahead of others.  Don't mount in the bottleneck area right in front of transition.  Put your shoes on while moving just like you've practiced.  DON"T RUSH IT!
-Go HARD on the bike.  Its only ten miles so go ALL OUT!  Even harder than you would on the TT
-Flying dismount...    I'm very good at this.
-Shoes on
-Grab Hat and Race belt and GO!!!
-If my legs can support I should absolutlely give it 200% on the run.  Shooting for 6:30s for three miles.
would LOVE to have my first sub 20 minute 5K on this thing.
-Cross the Finish Line!
-RECOVER, RECOVER, RECOVER!!!!  Stretch, Compression sleeves, Ice, Get some Protein in.  Whatever is needed. 
-Congratulate yourself on a job well done and then shift my focus right back to training again.

So thats the plan.  It was nice to see so many people from my club pretty much all of whom offered me encouragement on my first triathlon tomorrow.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Its gonna be a great day!  Wish me luck!

Friday, July 30, 2010

How To Not Taper For A Race

Ever wondered how not to taper for a race?  Here's how....

You have your first sprint tri on Sunday. And so you do the following...

Saturday: 2.5 Hours on a spin bike (45 miles?), followed by a five mile run
Sunday: 12 mile run
Monday: Off (fly home from Denver)
Tuesday: Swim 1.5 miles, Ride 28, run 5
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Swim 1 mile, Ride 60, Run 3
Friday: Swim 1 mile, Run 13.1
Saturday: OFF (volunteer at Deary Tri)
Sunday: RACE!!!! at the Naval Station Sprint.

So yeah...   good recipe for a lousy taper!

But in all seriousness this was completely on purpose.  After talking with several other traithletes in my club about it I've decided that if the FIRM 1/2 is my focus that it needs to be just that.  And any race between now and then needs to be looked at as a training day.  I just can't afford to miss getting in the big bricks.  In this case based on work travel I have next week I had to fit my "weekend" training in on thursday/friday in order to get it done.  So really I only have one day off to recover before the sprint.  And although I have no doubt I'm going to have a great fun day on Sunday, I won't be able to race at the peak of my ability.  But I will go out there and do my best and practice my transitions and get my first race out of the way so I can get back to focusing on training.

So today was a GVP swim with a good group from NE-Tri of Batla, Joe, Brad, Cass, Kellie and myself.  Joe and I headed out early and just did the dock swim.  Brad headed out at the same time for the 1.5 mile loop.  It seemed like he wasn't pushing all that hard and he didn't have a wetsuit on but Joe and I barely managed to beat him back to the beach.  He's fast!  In fact his last Ironman swim (2.4 miles) he finished in under an hour. 

After the swim I headed home to grab a quick shower and change and then I headed over to the east side to get my long run in.  I did a large 4.6 mile loop that encompasses angel street, the boulevard, and hope steet.  Its a nice challenging somewhat hilly route.  I looped it twice and then out and backed the boulevard portion to come up with 13.1 miles.  I was pleased to finish that in 1:53 which is an 8:40 average which for a hilly course on tired legs from yesterdays long ride is just fine with me.  I'll take it.  The run felt pretty horrible when I first started but once I hit the three mile mark I settled in nicely and found a nice groove for the rest of it.  And of course conveniently my run finished at Starbucks.

So now theres no more training between now and the Naval Station Sprint on Sunday morning.  Speaking of Sunday morning thats gonna suck...   Race starts at 7:30 am and its just about an hour's drive to the race from where I live.  Theres also no packet pickup.  And being that I hate rushing about that means I have to be at the race site at 5:30am when registration opens which means leaving my house by 4:30am, which means getting up at 3:30am.  YUCK!  I'm definitely going to need a nap after that one!

But before that I'm going to volunteer at the Deary Tri tomorrow morning which should be good fun.  The bummer is that I have to skip out on the Pot Luck BBQ they do after the race as I need to be careful what I eat before my race.  And speaking of food theres a huge pancake breakfast after the sprint tri, but I'm going ot have to skip that too.  Sprint's just aren't long enough efforts to deserve a splurge like that so I have to be good if I want to stay at my race weight through the end of September.  For those of you thinking that I should just splurge a little...    you should know that I'm not good at splurging without binging.  So I'll pass on the breakfast and instead eat a little protein, a bagel and a banana and head home.

Now its time for me to get some work done and try and get a good night's sleep.  Tomorrow I'll be at the Deary in the morning and then I think I'll do some bike mount / dismount practice in the afternoon and otherwise spend the day on the couch relaxing.

Oddly enough I'm looking forward to racing on Sunday but I'm not super excited about getting my first triathlon out of the way.  I've become so focused on the FIRM that its all I can think about.  Sunday just feels like a training day under race conditions.  I'll get excited once I'm there but right now I'm not all amped up about it any more than I get excited for a big training day ahead of time.  Rest assured that when I wake up at 3:30am I'll be all nervous and excited though I'm sure.  Should be an easy day though...  its only a 1/3 mile swim, 10.5 mile bike, and a 3 mile run.  Which is way too short.  Which is not good, as my body does not care for short and fast.  I'd rather go long at mildly fast any day.  I need to be really carefull and be prepared to reign myself in if need be.  It takes me a long time to recover from a short/fast effort and I don't have that kind of recovery time built into my training.  So I need to be careful out there.  I'm sure it will be fine though, but don't be surprised to see a pretty conservative time from me in this race.

Right...  time for me to get to work!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time to Get Aero

Today was a great training day.  It was also generally a lot better day than yesterday was.  Yesterday was a bit of a mess.  Not a great work day as I had to deal with some work issues and cancellations (Ugh!) and I was just feeling a little down in general.  In the end I decided not to go down to Narragansett for the swim.  My head just wasn't in it and my energy was too low to be out in the ocean.  So instead I took the day off.  However I did get up to some tri related fun.  I went to see Sean at Providence Bicycle yesterday to get some new toys for my bike.  For a while I was going back and forth as to whether or not it was worth buying clip on aero bars for my bike.  But after three straight weeks in the TT of having the same time again and again I decided it was time to do something about it.  Hopefully having the bars on my bike will allow me to get through the descents on the course just a little bit faster.  The other reason of course was for the FIRM 70.3.  Being more aero means less wind resistance which means less effort required to go the same distance at the same pace which means fresher legs on the run.  Granted aero bars aren't going to work miracles but this is about adding up lots of little time bonuses through a variety of methods.  Its also going to give me another position to put my body in during the long ride so I'm not stuck on the hoods for three hours.  The other thing I bought was a rear bottle cage system.  For now this is temporarily mounted to my road bike.  However as soon as I get a tri bike this offseason it will be moved to that.  My plan is to keep aquiring things I'm going to need for my tri bike so I'm not faced with buying the bike AND all the accessories I'll need at the same time pushing the price up considerably.  So here's what Dale looks like with the new additions....

The bottle cage inside the frame will only be there for long training rides in the heat when carrying three bottles is nice, otherwise I'll take it off.

So now I've got aerobars on the bike I need to try them out!  I was orginally planning on riding the FIRM bike course today, but Sean invited me along on a ride with he and Jill in Westport and I'll always ride with other people given the choice.  So this morning I was up at the crack of dawn and in the water at GVP with Luis at 545am for the mile out and back swim to the dock.  I was tight on time so I only did 1.1 miles today, figuring I'll do the 1.5 mile swim again on Friday.  Highlights of the swim were that on the way back I tried to stay really close to Luis and swim directly at his side for the whole way back.  For a long time we maintained this other than a brief spot in the middle when I lost him.  I think I've watched too many Total Immersion videos of people swimming in formation.  But it was fun and kept my mind occupied on the swim back to the beach.  I bolted from GVP and ran home to take a quick shower and grab my bike and then I was out the door again.

The plan for the day was to ride between 50-60 miles at around a 17-18mph pace for a nice steady effort.  In the end we got pretty lucky as the weather pretty much held out for us.  We rode through a few sprinkles, and a brief rain shower but it really wasn't that bad.  However the moments the sun came out were brutal, hot, humid, and gross.  Anyway...   Right out of the gate I let Sean and Jill head out first as I wanted to bring up the rear so I could mess around with the aerobars and get used to reaching for bottles in a new position without worrying about annoying anyone riding behind me.  So right away I got into the aerobars and started riding.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how much in control of the bike I felt.  I was anticipating it being much harder than it was.  In fact I felt pretty comfortable right away.  So much so I spent about 85-90% of the 60 mile ride in the aero position which was awesome.  In fact I found it more comfortable than riding on the hoods.  My neck will need some time to get used to it but my back and legs felt better I think than riding in the traditional road postion.  There were a few moments when I got a little squirelly such as when reaching for bottles and leaving one arm in the aero bars or when I was swerving around potholes and things but it never got hairy.  And those moments will be gone quickly.  It wasn't long into the ride that I was comfortable enough to get into the aero position and ride in any of the front, middle, or rear positions of our group.  I was very very pleased with how my first day with them went so that was great.

What I was not pleased with was the jackass in the Jeep!  We spent our time riding a mix of a tight paceline and also leaving about 10-15' between all of us.  At this point in the ride we were coming into a small town and we were in a fairly tight line.  Sean was in front, I was in the middle, and Jill was in the rear.  This idiot in the Jeep who is coming up the road towards us on our left suddenly turns left into a parking lot directly in front of our path.  However something causes him to stop half in the road, and half in the parking lot.  Essentially he not only cut us off, but he's now stopped sideways directly in front of three riders, all in a tight line, all in the aero position.  It happened REALLY REALLY fast!  Sean broke left and managed to just get around the Jeep.  Jill also broke left and got around him.  In the split second I had to react I looked left and I knew if I went left I was either going to collide with Sean or Jill.  But I knew I had to go right.  Except there was nowhere to go to the right except into the side of the Jeep or a curb too tall to get over.  So I grabbed both brakes and prayed pretty much.  I really thought I was going into the side of this guy.  I tried to not lock the brakes up but since it had been sprinkling rain for the last hour my tires started to slip on the road.  I pretty much just unclipped my right foot and braced for impact.  I was pretty fricking shocked to realize I managed to stop just a few inches shy of colliding into his door.  I was in such shock I didn't even yell anything good at the driver who was now looking right at me through the passenger side window.  I just clipped back in and rode around him.  That was close!  Lets not do that again!

Other than that it was a great ride.  I'm really pleased with how it felt in the aerobars and I also really liked having bottles behind the seat.  I found reaching for them and returning them to be much easier and much more comfortable.  Plus that setup is a lot more flexible in terms of allowing me to add various accessories and expand the amount of stuff I can carry on a really long ride.

In the end we rode 60 miles exactly in pretty much 3.5 hours exactly at around a 17.5mph average.  I think something just a little faster than that will be my perfect half iron pace that will still leave me feeling plenty strong on the run.  Speaking of which when we finished the ride we added Sean's girlfriend Jen to the group and then all went out on a quick three mile run.  Which was HOT and HUMID! as the sun had come out again.  But was nice as we all got a chance to chat a bit more than on the bike.

All in all a great training day.  After that I went home and got to work, ran a few errands and then made a huge 1300 calorie dinner of brown rice, unprocessed organic, hormone free chicken sausage, cranberries, and a little sesame oil.  It was AWESOME!  Definitely hit the spot.  And now that I'm done writing this I'm about ready to pass out and crawl into bed even though its only 8PM.  Tomorrow I have to be back up at 445am to swim at GVP at 6 followed by a 13 mile run and a busy work day.  Lots to do!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tri Tuesday Part II / Another Rest Day?

Yesterday was tuesday which means of course its another round of the Providence Bicycle time trial / brick workout.  I was feeling great going into the day and I made it to the TT course around 4 to get a warmup lap in.  I met up with Nancy and Joe was there too so the three of us headed out for a warmup lap of the 14 mile course.  I'm still experimenting with this warmup lap.  I've done it slow, medium, and mildly fast.  Seems like the important thing so far is that I always do better after a warmup lap than I do without one.  That much is known.  The question is how hard to go on the warmup lap?  Yesterday I went out pretty slow with an average of something like 16mph for the lap.  Very relaxed, not a lot of pedalling on the descents, and as relaxed an effort on the climbs as possible.  The week before this one I did the lap at an 18mph average.  Although I don't have the times for this week vs last yet I'm pretty sure they are about exactly the same.  So maybe the point is just to get the warmup lap in?  Or maybe not....

When I started my official lap of the course off I always try and start in the big ring and get up that first little hill as fast as possible and then get down that first descent with some speed into the second roller.  Going up the second roller my breathing felt funny.  But I pressed on.  The first five miles are all rolling hills.  Which are deceiving.  I think that section of the course is harder than I think it is at times.  By mile three I was struggling to breathe.  I think I got thrown off by some of my competitors too.  There are certain people who often start before me on the TT and I typically pass them at the same place on the course.  But this time those guys went out a little harder (sometimes I forget they are improving too!) and it took me much longer to pass them which meant I felt like I was lagging behind so I worked harder to catch them and then struggled even more to breathe.

I spent the entire time on the course feeling like I couldn't breathe.  I'm not sure why that was.  Part of me thinks it might have something to do with going from a week in Denver at 60-70 degree training temps and zero humidity to last night's 80 degrees and high humidity.  In fact the more I think about it the more I think thats what it was.  But last night was a struggle.  I was dying out there.  There were several moments when I thought about standing up on the bike and just casually pedalling my way to the finish.  It felt that hard.  Its never felt that hard before.  But then I looked down at my average speed and at that point on the course I was on track for a new PR so I refused to quit.  I just hoped when I got to the long descent / flat in the middle I could recover a little.

Somewhere in the early rolling section of the course I'd passed my friend Luis.  As I approached the dam in the middle of the course Luis passed me back.  That hasn't happened before and I was bumming as I felt like perhaps that was a sign that not only my breathing but my ride was falling apart.  (Turns out Luis set yet another PR on the course that day and had a fantastic ride)  I kept Luis about 4 lengths in front of me while we rode over the damn as thats a lousy place to pass anyone as the road conditions are awful and theres not a lot of room for cars and bikes there.  I knew once the climb started the advantage would fall back to me.  Sure enough once the climb started I managed to get back around Luis and also to pass several other riders.  The hills are always when I start reeling people in.  The combination of a fairly lightweight bike and a lightweight rider means the hills are one of my stronger points on the course.  Plus marking other riders and passing them on the hills pushes me to ride the hills harder.  My breathing finally came back under control on the hills remarkably.  Not sure why...   although it fell apart again once the hills were gone.

On the last section of mild rollers and descents I saw Joe up ahead and used him to help pull me forwards.  It took me what felt like forever but I finally passed him on a descent.  Which I was psyched about as I struggle to pass anyone on the descent.  In fact I took a bit of a risk in trying but at that point I either had to try and pass him or hit the brakes as I was close enough to be considered drafting if I didn't make a move.  After that I just did my best to keep it together and make it to the finish.  Joe surprised me in the last stretch to the finish and passed me back right before the end.  It was a nice move!  Apparently he had been hanging behind me about four lengths back and waiting for the right moment to pass me back.  Nicely done!

I finished the TT somewhere around the 43 minute mark right around my usual.  I won't have my official time for a bit.  I was gasping for air like I've never been before.  I felt pretty awful.  I'm really glad it took us a while to get our acts together to get the run started as I really needed those five minutes to gather myself and catch my breath.  Again I'm not sure why I was so out of breath but its a good lesson that if this ever happens in a race I'll know to dial back my bike speed to not destroy my run.

We set out for the five mile run with Me, Brad, Other Nick, Nancy, CJ, and Gary.  Its nice to do that run in a group.  Makes it go by nice and quick.  Had a nice run although I felt pretty beat up.  Towards the end I had an awful stitch in my right side and my stomach wasn't all that happy.  I have to say results aside that was one of the worst feeling TTs I've done to date.  Only one worse was the day my legs were completely dead and I did the course in 50 minutes or something awful.  I've ridden faster than that on a warmup lap!

So last night I got back to my house and went through my post TT routine.  Its amazing how long it takes to unpack the car, wash all the water bottles, hang up sweaty stuff to dry and throw in laundry, put everything away, stretch a little, take a shower, use foam roller / massage stick, put on compression sleeves on my calves and hamstring (which really seems to help my recovery).  All that nonsense seems to add at least an hour after I get back.  Anyway as I was doing all of this I felt awful.  The funny thing is it wasn't muscle soreness awful, just really tired and beat up and my stomach felt awful.   When I went to bed I had stomach cramps and I felt like hell.

This morning I have to say I feel a little better.  My stomach certainly feels a lot better.  Technically today was supposed to be a swim day.  I think instead I may take today off.  We will see as the day goes on though.  I may go down to Narragansett and swim down there.  But it will all depend on how I feel.  Ideally I would like to swim today though, and I really do need to get in the water in Narragansett.   First up though is a shopping trip to Providence Bicycle to go an get some aerobars fitted to my bike!  Should be good fun.  I'm looking forward to it.

Oh one other thing....

This morning I officially got back to my race weight.  Now I just need to hold it.  I was 137 this morning with a body fat percentage according to my withings scale of 7.8%.  Love it!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rest Day / Tri Tuesday Part I

So yesterday (Monday) was a travel day home for me.  I decided that since I hadn't taken a day off from training in two weeks that I would take yesterday off.  I could have gone for a swim in the pool in the morning but I want to do three open water swims this week plus my race so swimming a fifth day in one week didn't seem like a good idea.  Plus I'd already biked and run quite a bit over the weekend, and wanted to do well in the TT on tuesday so a rest day seemed prudent.  So I had pretty much an uneventfull trip back home with the exception of some speedwork I did in the airport when getting through security took us 40 minutes so I had to sprint to grab something to eat on the plane and catch my flight.

This morning I was up at 445am to get ready to head out to GVP.  It hurt, but not as bad as it could have as I stayed on east coast time as much as possible when I was out west by getting up by 5am every day out there.  I met up with Luis, Kevan, Joe and Batla at GVP and we headed out for our swim.  I tried to convince someone to do the 1.5 mile swim with me but there were no takers.  So instead I tried to head out first thinking that I'd return not long after they did and I trusted that one of those guys would wait to make sure I came out of the water.  (Its a great group of guys like that).  So I took off first and headed straight out for the dock.

The swim out to the dock felt awesome.  I started with a really really relaxed stroke and just eased into the swim.  I wanted to make sure I left enough gas in the tank to get back.  I think the rest of the guys started not long after me.  I never saw any of them in the water except for Kevan how I saw just behind me on my left at one point.  I just kept going at a nice even pace.  The 530am group was swimming back towards me so I tried to sight a little more often and keep an eye on them so we didn't collide.  I was swimming along and all of a sudden I saw a pair of legs vertical in the water and stopped.  There was a dude treading water from that group right in front of me.  I laughed and said hello.  He really startled me!  So then I kept going and saw more of those swimmers headed my way.  I managed to keep an eye on them.  At one point I swam in one direction directly between two swimmers going the other way.  Looked pretty cool underwater.  I like GVP when there are lots of swimmers in the water.  I think it makes it more fun.

Evenutally as I was breathing to my left I could see the dock that marks just beyond the 1/2 mile point.  I smiled and kept going knowing I was waiting for my garmin to beep to signal I'd reached the 3/4 mile mark and it was time to turn around.  The 1/2 to 3/4 mile mark was interesting.  I'd never swam out that far before.  The water there is a bit more shallow and has a lot more plants growing in it.  Some of them are tall enough where you graze your fingertips against them in the pull which is just plain weird.  I can't say I liked it!  Some of them are even taller and you sort of have to dodge around them.  Considering I was by myself at this point it was a bit weird and freaky but I just kept going till I heard that beep.  I passed a buoy not far from the end of the pond and my garmin beeped to say it was time to turn around.  I was really happy to hear it as the weeds were getting even taller at that point and I have to say I don't care for swimming through those.

So now I'm on the way back.  I still felt great so I picked up the pace a little from my relaxed easy pace to a slightly stronger effort.  It wasn't long before I'd made it back to the dock.  Being that I swim with a fantastic bunch of guys they were actually waiting at the dock for me to make sure I'd made it back.  I really appreciated that.  I stopped initially when I saw them there to ask if they were all ok as I was surprised they weren't headed back already.  But then they said they were just waiting to make sure I was on my way back.  I thought that was pretty awesome of them so I said I was good and kept swimming.

The rest of the way back went really quickly.  I felt really strong and kept a good pace going the whole way in.  I was smiling underwater as I knew I had my first 1.5 mile swim in the bag.  I love reaching new distance milestones.  They really make me happy.  Not to mention the more distance over my race distance I cover in practice the easier and more confident I'll be covering a lesser distance in a race.  I'd like to do a two mile swim before the FIRM at some point too.  Then 1.2 miles will feel much shorter! 

I reached the beach first out of the bunch but the rest of the guys were not long behind me.  In talking to them later they had decided that I would be tired from swimming further so they gave me a bit of a head start from the dock and thought they would catch me and we would all finish together.  They thought wrong.  : ) 

In the end I did the 1.5 miles in 49 minutes even.  Thats a pace of 1:52/100 yards.  Thats awesome for me!  I'm thrilled with that.  Granted thats not very fast compared to stronger swimmers, but for me thats a strong pace.  Great start to the day!

After a quick visit to an online race calculator with that pace plugged in for the swim, 2 minutes per transition, a bike average of 17.5 mph and a run average of 9:30 that just gets me a sub 6 hour half ironman distance race which is my goal for the firm.  I'd really like to go sub 6.  In reality I think I'll do more like 1 minute per transition, an 18mph pace on the bike and a run average of 8:30 for a finish time of 5:40.  I'll know more though after I start doing workouts on the course in the next couple of weeks.

So a great start to the day...  now its time to crank through some work and then head out to the TT tonight for two loops on the bike and a five mile run.  Should be good fun!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It is Official....

I am now registered for the FIRM 1/2 Iron length Triathlon on September 12th.

: )

Last Day in Denver / Weekly Summary

So today is my last full day in Denver.  Its going to be a busy one...  but so far its been a pretty great day.  In keeping with my plan to stay on east coast time I was up at 5am to get ready to head out for my long run.  I have been wondering what this one was going to feel like.  Last week's long run was a death march in the heat.  So I was curious to see what my pace was going to end up being in cooler weather after still doing a large brick the day before.  I was out the door at 5:30 and on my way.

My plan for the run was to head towards the Sand Creek Regional Greenway which I ran past an entrance to during my brick run on Saturday and then googled it later in the day.  Turns out its a hard packed gravel trail through a park that runs through Aurora / Denver.  Perfect!  After a little research it looked like it was going to be just long enough for me to do a 12 mile run as a 6 mile out and back.  So I ran to the trailhead and then turned onto the Greenway.  What a great find!  Sometimes dumb luck gives you a gift and that was the case today.  It felt so great to leave this strip mall suburbia where my hotel is behind and head onto a trail through a wide strip of parks and untouched land.  It was gorgeous... and at sunrise it was even more beautifull.

Seriously...   as far as random runs out the front door of your hotel goes...  this one ranks right up there.  The rest of the trail followed the creek for several miles and then wound into some large fields on the outskirts of Aurora, CO where my hotel is and then I was welcomed via a nice sign into Denver as I continued along the trail.  Most of the run passed uneventfully.  Highlights were that I actually listened to music on this run which I never do.  But since I had to carry my phone with my anyway on an armband I figured I might as well listen to music at the same time. 

I'm happy to say I managed my long run back at my usual 8:30 average.  Which is what I would normally do a long run on fresh legs at.  So it was nice to see me be able to manage that on much more tired legs.  Speaking of which I felt a bit sore at the start but I loosened up nicely for the first 6 miles or so.  Once I turned around though I didn't feel quite as strong but I pushed through it.  In looking at the elevation profile afterwards though it explains that a little as the front half of the run was a 6 mile slow downhill grade and the return is the opposite of that.  The profile looks like someone took the letter V and opened it up really wide to make a much softer angle in the middle.  So the way back was slightly uphill the whole way which explains a bit about why it felt more challenging than the way out.  But I did manage to hold my average so I'm happy with that.  All in all a great run through some beautifull terrain.  I'm really glad I stumbled upon that trail as I was beginning to think I was not going to get to experience Denver's beauty at all while I was out here and that kind of bummed me out.


Weekly Summary.

Another week of training has come to an end and I'm another week closer to the Firm 1/2 and only a week away from my first triathlon.  Speaking of which I'm going to have to really be carefull on these next two sprints to remember that they are really just training on the way to the half and not something I should destroy myself on to finish super fast.  I still need to figure out how to fig my big weekend workouts in around the sprints as I don't plan on skipping them.  I just need to shuffle them. 

So how was this week?  All in all it felt really good.  I'm really pleased that I was able to fit in a lot of quality workouts in around my travel schedule.  So that was great.  I've also finally completely committed to the notion of doing the 1/2 after two weekends of large bricks.  I'm now convinced I can do it.  Now its just a matter of logging the rest of the training and going for it.

So what did I do this week....

Swimming : 2 Hours, 2 Open water sessions, 1 pool session.  Total distance in open water is 2.2 miles.  Not sure of distance covered in the pool.  I lost count of laps, but swam for 40 minutes.

Biking: 5 Hours, 92 miles 4 rides.  Mileage is an estimate as two of those sessions were on a spin bike with no computer.  But it was the best I could do out here.  But they were quality workouts as I pushed pretty hard on the bike.  Also includes another PB TT where I was 12 seconds off my PR.  Not bad.

Running:  3.75 Hours, 26.8 Miles, 4 runs.  Two were part of brick workouts.  Average Pace 8:23

Totals:  10.75 Hours

Great week all in all.  I'm pretty pleased with it.

Future Goals...

Continue to train for the Firm, and find ways to be able to train around upcoming business trips and the two sprints between now and then.

Join in with either some of the SSS or Fred's swimming group in Narragansett.  The more I swim down there the more comfortable I'm going to be.  GVP is nice and convenient but its become too comfortable.  I need to be out in the swells and covering the mile out in the ocean so there will be no surpirses or anything new on raceday.  So thats my goal for the next two weeks.  Get in at least one swim with one of the Narragansett groups.  I'm going to try and get more info about them to see how well I'd fit in with those groups and see which one would be more suitable for me.


So now with my long run out of the way all I have to do is work till about 6pm and then take this gig apart and stuff it back in the truck till around 9 or 10pm, go to bed, and then fly home tomorrow.  I haven't taken a day off of training in over two weeks now so I think tomorrow will be a real day off.  I could get up at the crack of dawn and hit the pool but I don't think that makes sense as I plan on swimming tuesday and wednesday already as well.  And I can't swim three days in a row.  So tomorrow will be an off day.  Although I reserve the right to go for a walk in the morning at least.

Also up this week I'm going to go and visit Sean at Providence Bicycle.  I'm going to add some clip on aerobars to my bike and start training with those as I'm hoping they may speed up my TT time a little bit, but more than that they should help me out on the 1/2.  I'm also going to add a rear seat cage system so I can start carrying 4 bottles on my longer rides and then lose the interal frame cages for the TT/races.  I'm realy struggling on these hot training days and I would much rather be able to carry the extra fluid than deal with planning stops into my route.  Besides...   training with a little extra weight on the bike can't be a bad thing right?   And hopefully I'll be able to transfer the rear cage system to my TT bike if I'm able to add one of those to the stable for next season.  I also want to talk to sean about bike trainers.

Actually speaking of purchases...    I need to keep my eye out for a used road bike.  I need a size 52 with SRAM components.  I want to try and find something cheap I can store up in Albany at the warehouse where all the gear for most of the shows I work on comes from.  That way they can throw the bike in the truck for me and I'll be able to have a bike and a trainer with me when I travel so I can ride anywhere.  I can even stick it backstage and get in workouts around my schedule.  But thats a longterm project...   I just want to start keeping my eyes open for something cheap.  But it needs to be of high enough quality I can still log some great workouts on it outside as well.

Ok...  thats enough for this week!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Life on the Road Part III

So the thing that seperates my job from most other people's are the hours, and the attitude.  I tend to have to work extremely long days.  When you attend an event, a tradeshow, a corporate sales meeting, conference whatever you just sort of walk in and watch, explore, experience it and then leave.  But behind the scenes there are people like myself who were there days before the event settting it up under the constant threat of a non negotiable deadline.  They don't hold the doors to let us finish setting up.  We have to be done in time.  There simply isn't another option.  The show must go on, as cliche as it is, rings very true in my world.  So we work tirelessly and sometimes through the night to get it done in time.  And when you walk in on show day just before the event starts we've already been there for several hours turning everything on, checking it, rehearsing it, and polishing it.  Sometimes frantically fixing it.  So when I travel the hours I work are long, and being late isn't an option.  Showing up to work offering anything less than my A game is not an option.  I'm here at this show because people know and trust me.  They know the quality of the work that I do and they are willing to pay to put me on an airplane to fly me out to the show and put me up in a hotel, feed me, and pay my daily rate.  They could hire a local guy for a lot less expense... but I'm better that that guy.  : )

So with all that in mind I need to be carefull how I train on the road.  I can't go out and do a 4 hour brick in the morning before work and show up all tired and be useless all day.  I can't complain that my legs hurt or whine that I'm too tired to climb that ladder for the 20th time today.  I have to suck it up.  We have a saying in my business that usually applies to guys going out after work and drinking too much, but it also holds true to going out before work and training too much....    If you want to play...   you gotta pay.  And its true.  There is a price I have to pay for putting in a hard workout before work.  For me its a juggling act of getting my training in and still being able to do my job.  Sometimes in the middle of a long workday I have to dig deep into reserves I didn't know I had to get through the rest of it and still put my best foot forward.  But I have to suck it up as there are plenty of younger guys out there ready to take my gig if I screw it up.  Good lord...  did I just say that?  I must be getting old!

Learning this balance has been tricky for me but I'm slowly figuring it out.  Fortunately most of the mistakes I made in figuring it out were when I was training for marathons while on the road.  I've suffered through some brutal days of getting up at 4am and running an 18 miler before putting in a 14 hour workday.  Often after getting out of work at 11pm the night before and only sleeping a few hours.  The truth though is that I work, so that I can enjoy my training.  Given the choice I'd train for a living and quit my job, but nobody is going to make me a proffesional middle of the pack athlete unfortunately.  So I'm stuck with trying to balance it all.  But enough about all that....  on to this morning's fun.

Some good things happened to my schedule this week as the show has progressed.  The best bit was that we ended last night way early and I was in bed by 11pm which was awesome.  So this morning I was up at 4:45am and was in a cab and on my way to the gym by 5:30.  At 5:45am I was on a spin bike in the gym getting my workout started.  The plan for the day was a 50 mile ride / 20 minute run.  At least that what my training plan called for.  In order to fit this into my work schedule and due to the fact that the spin bikes have no computer on them I changed this to a 2.5 hour ride, 5 mile run.  The 5 mile run just made sense as thats how far the gym is from my hotel.  So I cabbed it to the gym, rode for 2.5 hours, and then ran back to the hotel.  I initially started my workout on one of the other upright bikes in the gym and I quickly decided I hated that thing.  It just didn't feel like riding a bike.  And the seat was enormous and uncomfortable.  The body position was also all wrong.  So I moved over to the spin bike again and I was much happier and with all the adjustments on it was able to once again get a much more realistic and more comfortable riding position.  The seat was also smaller which made it easier to pedal.  So off I went.  I set the resistance to the point where I was starting to think about standing on the pedals every now and then to maintain pace and then I dialed it back a little.  My thought was that a nice steady resistance at a fairly high cadence while remaining seated was the best idea.  Ten minutes in and all was adjusted the way I wanted it.  2 hours, 20 minutes to go.  Hmmm.....    cranked up the Foo Fighters on my ipod and had at it.  There were not many other people at the gym and there wasn't a lot to be had in terms of anything to look at.  No bike computer, no tv, nothing.  Just me, the bike, the clock on the wall and my thoughts.  Actually there were tvs, but I'm recording all of the tour de france while I'm away so I'm desperately trying not to see any news coverage of it.  So I tried not to look at any of the TVs on the walls tuned to ESPN and CNN.  So I drifted off to my happy place and let my mind wander.  After about thirty minutes I was covered in sweat and well on my way to a nice rhythm.  At the one hour mark I was thinking...   man I really miss my bike.  Going nowhere is just not the same.  Remarkably the 2.5 hours passed pretty quickly.  But as the end approached I wondered how strong I would be on the run.  I was thinking about the brick I did in the high heat and humidity the week before and how I overheated and how hard that was.  I was hoping I would be much stronger on the run today.  Fortunately I was!

Off the bike, cleaned it up and ran out the door of the gym.  I'm fairly certain there were some people looking at me going whose that weird guy in the spandex shorts (tri shorts) whose been on the spin bike for forever this morning suddenly running out the door putting on a fuel belt covered in sweat?  Weirdo!  And can someone please mop up that puddle of sweat under the spin bike!

Out the door and I'm off and running.  Looked at my watch...  7:30 pace again.  Apparently the high cadence I like on the bike stays with me and keeps my legs moving quickly on the run.  This time however in the cool 70 degree temps and the early morning sun leaving shade everywhere I wasn't exploding inside.  I felt GREAT!  I was psyched.  I made no attempt to slow down at all.  About two miles in as I was climbing a hill I started to feel a little winded (maybe the altitude a little) but I still felt good.  The rest of the run felt awesome and went by quickly.  The route was fairly flat with some gradual ups and downs and a few rollers.  I managed it with a 7:40 average.  Nice!  So I'm thrilled that my problems with the run last week were heat related.

I got back to the hotel with just enough time to shower and clean up and head into work after a quick nosh on a power bar, some almonds, a banana and a bagel to refuel.  And now I'm back here at work feeling great.  At some point this afternoon a wave of tired will hit me and I'll have to bury it and get through the rest of the day.  Speaking of food/fuel...   I went through two gels, 20oz of gatorade and 48oz of water during my workout.  (another good way to get weird looks at the gym is to eat a GU gel while sitting on a spin bike)  As well as eating two balance bars and another 20oz of water before I started.  And even after all that I was 2lbs lighter at the end of my workout.  (yes I do pack a scale with me when I travel...  I'm weird like that).  Which is a good sign I was working hard today. 

But back to balance again...     As much as I've somewhat figured it all out and manage to get through an intense workout in the morning on not much sleep and then get through the workday the people that really impress me are the ones who train at the crack of dawn all the time, have three kids a house and two dogs and a fulltime job and still manage to get everything done.  I'm single and live alone and I feel like training, working, and keeping my place clean and my life in some semblance of organization is all I can handle.  So as much as I'm thrilled I've been able to balance it all so far I realize there are people out there that juggle a lot more than I do.

Up next tomorrow is a 12 mile run in the morning and then another long workday.  Should be a great run in the nice cool and dry early morning air here.  I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

TT Update / Life On The Road Part II

Before I get back to a little more about life away from home, here's a quick update on the TT.

Sadly I did not set a new PR on the course this time. I was 12 seconds slower than my best time. But I have to say I'm still very pleased with that. Mostly as that was the tuesday after a very big workout weekend for me. So to me being that close to my PR which happened on much much fresher legs just means that I recovered really well. I also felt strong on the 4 mile run afterwards so it still qualifies as a great day. Hopefully I manage to match that or go a little faster next tuesday. We'll see!
So... back to life on the road.

So after much debating I finally put my workout schedule together for this trip and put a plan into action.  Being that we were starting the first day of setup at 8am and I knew we would be done by 4pm I decided to hold my workout off till after work.  I'm not a huge afternoon workout fan but being that I hadn't been to this gym yet and wasn't sure how long it was going to take to get signed up with a guest pass and cab it back forth I figured I'd wait till the afternoon to do it for the first time rather than risk being late for work.  Which is just not an option.  I can say with certainty that I have never ever been late to a gig.  Anyway...   I still got up at 5am to do my best to stay on east coast time and fussed about for a bit before heading into work coffee in hand at 7am.  At which point I was greeted by yet another empty convntion center hall and a truck waiting to get unloaded.

Said hello to the boys and stared at the trailer for a while with coffee in hand contemplating my day.  This particular show is a pretty easy one.  Its part of the series of shows I've worked on for five years now as part of the Major League Gaming Pro Circuit Tour.  This particular event is part of the B circuit which is tiny compared to the larger events.  Its sort of a glorified tradeshow booth type thing.  So its quick and easy to setup.  Well at least it usually is.  This particular venue is so small and so lacking in ceiling height that we were not able to use the typical chain motors we would use to raise the trussing up into the ceiling.  So instead we got creative with three forlifts to life the triangle structure up to trim and stick the legs under it.
The funniest part is that this triangle went up to height between two areas of the ceiling that are a bit lower.  It just fits in this gap.  The problem we encountered however was that once we had the thing in the air we couldn't back up one of the forlifts without hitting the ceiling sophit.  So instead we took the forklift apart in the air and removed the forklift cage and forks so we could get the fork to clear the ceiling and be able to back up.  Oh the joys of cramming 20lbs of potatoes into a 10lb bag.  But this is why they pay us the big bucks.

So that challenge out of the way I finished the rest of the setup and managed to get out of work around 4pm.  At which point I changed into workout clothes and headed off to figure out how to get to the gym.  The hotel gym here does not have a suitable bike substitute in it, and the pool is tiny so I found a 24hr Fitness gym about 5 miles from the hotel that would let me purchase a one week pass for 15 bucks.  So after failing to convince the shuttle bus driver to take me to the gym (apparently a five dollar tip wasn't worth it to him, thats a first!) I hopped in a cab to get to the gym.  I'm always surprised that five miles costs so much in a cab.  Its 18 bucks including tip every time I go to the gym each way.  Yuck.  But more on that later....

Once in the gym I went through the process of getting my week pass.  Which at first they tried to charge me 15 dollars a day until I mentioned the guy on the phone said 15 for the week.  At which point they went, oh yeah, for the week.  Anyway, once that bit was all settled I headed into the gym to find a nice bike substitute.  The gym itself is really nice.  Its a great facility with TONS of cardio gear, a huge weight area, and a three lane 25 yard lap pool and hottub.  Perfect!  I had my choice betweena  few different varieties of stationary bikes, and even better, a bunch of spin bikes out on the gym floor too.  So I decided to give a spin bike a try.  I've never actually used one for no good reason.  Too busy running before I got into triathlons I suspect.  I have to say it was a much better approximation of what its like to ride a road bike than any stationary bike I've been on.  I also loved being able to tweak the position of the seat fore and aft, up and down, as well as the position of the bars.  So I set myself up in a good position and set about getting to work.  I planned to do an hour on the bike at steady intensity.  So I set the resistance to something challenging and went at it.  I loved that the bars on this thing allowed so many different hand positions.  I messed about with this quite a bit and approximated some triathlon style aerobar type positions to see what those felt like.  I worked HARD for that hour.  There was a lovely puddle of sweat under me and I was soaking wet for the entire hour.  It made for a great workout. 

After my ride I went to look at the lap pool and the locker room to check those out.  They all looked brand new and very very clean which was nice.  This place is going to workout well.  Except for the cab far each way.  Yuck.  Then it occured to me that it was only 630pm or so at this point and I was only 5 miles from my hotel.  So I decided to walk back and save the cab fare.  It was a really nice walk despite the fact it rained on me almost the entire way back.  I made it back around 8pm, ate a little and then went right to bed.

This morning I was up at 5 and managed to make it to the gym via cab by 6.  Today's workout involved getting in the pool for some laps.  I'm still learning to like the pool.  I much prefer open water, and I'm still a very weak swimmer without a wetsuit on.  But I'm never going to get any better without working on it so I went to work.  I started with 50 yard repeats on 30 seconds of rest.  A lot of rest yes, but its what I need currently in order to keep at it.  I'm still kicking too much and exhausting myself too quickly but I'm slowly getting it.  After twenty minutes of these repeats I was miserable.  There was a serious mental battle going on in my head.  My brain was screaming at me to get out of the pool and call it quits, and I was fighting this with everything I had.  In the end the only thing that kept me in the water was picturing a friend of mine being mad at me for getting out early.  That image was enough to motivate me to keep going.  In the second half of my workout I manged to get most of the rests between repeats down to 20 seconds.  And in the last ten minutes I managed to get some 100's and one 150 in.  I was starting to feel a little better in the water.  In the pool I get glimpses of what I know is better form that will let me keep going for as long as I can in open water in a wetsuit, but thats all they are.  I just need to keep stitching those glimpses together till they become more and more natural and normal for me.

After 40 minutes in the pool I jumped in the hot tub for ten minutes and then hit the showers.  At this point it was 7am.  My call time got pushed back to 10am so I knew I had some time to play with here.  So I decided to walk back again and save the cab fare.  I got back to the hotel around 8:30 and spent the next hour getting cleaned up as well as prepping for Saturday's workout.  Today its likely I'm going to get out of work pretty late.   Somewhere around 11pm by the sounds of things.  Which is earlier than the initial schedule said which is great, but its still late.  My plan is to go right to bed as I have to get to the gym tomorrow by 5:30AM so I can get a 50 mile ride in on the stationary bike and then run the 5 miles back to the hotel for an indoor/outdoor brick before I have to be at work at 10am.  Thats going to hurt, but its the only way to keep to my training schedule.  So having all my stuff laid out and ready to go means I can pretty much jump out of bed and head straight to the gym. 

And now I'm here at work at the beginning of a 12 hour day.  However its a pretty easy day.  Not too many cues so its a nice laid back day where I can do things like update my blog and work on some other projects at the same time.  Should be a good day.  Here's the view from my office today.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Life On The Road Part I

So...   its time to explain a little bit more about my crazy life on the road and trying to juggle travel, work, and training.  So here's a little bit about what I've done today.

This morning I was up at 5am and out the door by 6 to get to the airport.  A whole lot of dull time later, including a two hour delay in the middle and I finally landed in Denver and found my way to the hotel by around 4pm local Denver time.  First order of business was to get a run in.  Running is obvioulsy the easiest thing to do on the road.  All you need are sneakers, and a place to run.  Even in the most dangerous and dodgy of cities there is always somewhere to run.  Now since Denver is at 5500 feet and Rhode Island is at 0 Feet I figured I should play it safe.  Especially as right after I landed I felt like I was having a little trouble breathing.  So I figured I would run on the hotel treadmill.  That way if I tired early I could stop, maybe do some weight work instead and not be two miles from the hotel and exhausted for the change in altitude.  Well apparently I adjust to such things very quickly as I had no trouble running on the treadmill.  I started at a cautious 9:30/mile pace and I quickly ramped that up to 9s.  That was fine so after two miles I changed it to my usual 8:30s.  Then I got bored.  So after I'd run five miles I had some fun with the sixth by doing a descending ladder.  First quarter mile was at 8s, next 1/4 at 7:30, next 1/4 at 7, and the last quarter at 6:30.  At 6:30s I could definitely feel the effect the altitude was having on me but it wasn't that bad.  So it was a nice little 6 mile run.  Great.

So...    quick trip back to my hotel room to get showered and then its off to the front desk to start gathering information.  First order of business for me on the travel day after getting my workout in is to try and find a grocery store.  Although all of my meals when I travel are typically catered, they are typically NOT healthy.  This particular show has a staff of probably about 10 adults, and 20 college aged kids.  So catering can be crap like pizza, or chaffing dish hamburgers swimming in grease.  Not healthy, and not even remotely appetizing.  So I try and find a grocery store and stay as self sufficient as possible.  So myself and another crew member who is also a runner and a healthy eater and I headed off to front desk to figure out where the closest grocery store was.  We asked if there was one within walking distance.  We were told no there isn't one in walking distance, but there was one 1.5 miles away.  So I said...  "thats walking distance!".  She looked at me like I had three heads.  Apparently excercise is frowned upon in her world.  So we got directions and headed off to the store to stock up.  As always my eyes are bigger than my arms and I bought a lot of stuff that I now had to carry back for 1.5 miles.

So what do you buy when all you have is a hotel room with no fridge and you want to be somewhat healthy?  Well heres what I bought

Cliff Bars
Power Bars
Balance Bars
Natural Peanut Butter
Reduced Sugar Jelly
Bagel thins to make PB+J sandwhiches out of
Some Gatorade for my long run
Fruit Salad
Cheese sticks
Baby Carrots

This is enough food to get my through a week long gig.  But where do you put it?

Well first I turn the desk into a pantry of all the dry goods.....
And then I make a "sink fridge".  Sink fridges is a trick thats been passed down from road dog to road dog.  Usually for the purpose of keeping beer cold.  But it can be adapted to healthy uses.  You simply fill the sink with ice and stuff anything you want to keep cold in it.  When the ice starts to melt you let the water drain out and top off the ice again.  Drives the housekeepers nuts.  With no sink you just have to shave and brush your teeth in the shower.  A small price to pay for cold cheesticks, frut salad, and baby carrots.
Ignore the plastic bottles in the shot...  those are from my fuel belt.  I was just rinsing them and letting them drain.

Ok so now we have food for the week thats a lot healthier than the crap they put out for us.  Its not the best food out there, but its the best I can do out here without a real kitchen.

So next up is figuring out the rest of my workouts this week.  The day we travel in is typically the day I have the most free time to figure this stuff out.  The hotel gym here has one excercise bike in it.  And its a recumbent bike.  To me those are useless unless they are the only way you can get excercise.  To me they serve no purpose.  Thats not a bike, its a chair with pedals.  So I then checked out the pool.  Its tiny.  In fact its really challenging where you draw the line between something being called a pool, or a bathtub for more than one person.  Its MAYBE 10 feet x 15 feet!  Yikes!  No way I can deal with swimming in that.

So I went to the front desk to ask them about nearby gyms.  Little miss 1.5 miles is way beyond walking distance was there again.  She gave me a look like Oh...  its you.....  that annoying healthy guy who walks over a mile to buy groceries.  What do YOU want.   So I asked her if she knew of any gyms in walking distance or any lap pools in the area.  She typed in her computer for a minute and spit out the address of a gym for me.  She had no idea if they had a pool though.  Nor was she willing to call for me.

So I went back to my room and got on and found out that there is in fact a pool at 24Hr Fitness.  And I got on google maps and found out the gym is 5.5 miles away.  I wanted to call the front desk woman and tell her that even I didn't think that was walking distance.  But it is cab distance.  So I called the gym and found out they do in fact have a 25 yard lap pool, they are open 24hrs, and I can buy a week long pass for 15 bucks.  Done and done!  So depending on how my schedule works out I'm going to try and do some wacky bricks.  Stuff like cab it over there, do an hour on the upright bike, and then run the five miles back to my hotel and then go to work.  Tomorrow I'm slated to do an hour on the bike.  So I may cab it in both directions as I have already run 4 on tuesday and 6 today.  Friday however when I swim I may just run back if I have time.  Should be good fun.

Oh speaking of tuesday....

The TT last night went great.  I don't have official results to post yet though so no idea how I did.  I think I just missed setting a new PR but I could be wrong on that.  I did a nice warmup lap, and then had a nice strong run of the course and then I did a 4 mile brick run with the other 3 other guys.  It was nice as we ran in a pack and chit chatted the whole way.  Great workout.  I think the best thing about it was just that I felt really strong and that I had recovered well from the weekend's intense workouts.  So I was really happy with that.  Definitely a good day.

Right...   now its time for me to go to bed.  Word is were starting work early tomorrow...  which on the plus side means I'll be done by 3pm or so if all goes well so I can then get to the gym and get on the bike by 5pm or so, get my workout in and then get back to the hotel for dinner.  Going to be a long day. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tri Tuesday / Life on The Road / Open Water Quandry

Its Tri Tuesday again...    still figuring out how this is going to fit into my new training schedule.  This week its going to fit regardless as I'm away in Denver Wednesday through Monday so I have to cram in as much open water and cycling time before I go as I have no idea what I'll find in terms of facilities out there within easy access of my hotel and limited time schedule.  So I swam yesterday and this morning so even if I don't have access to a decent pool out in Denver I'll still have logged a couple of open water sessions this week.  Tonight I plan on doing the Providence Bicycle TT course with the 5K run tagged onto the end of it.

So lets talk about travelling for a little bit here...    a lot of people think travelling for work must be fun, and getting to see different towns is fabulous and exciting.  Maybe in some jobs....   but here's how my show in Denver will work.

Wednesday...   up at 5am, off to the airport and arrive in Denver at 2pm.  Get settled into hotel room, quiz the front desk on running routes, and then take off for a five miler.  Considering my client has decided to put their event on in the fabulous Denver Aiport Hotel I don't know if an outdoor run is going to be very scenic.  It will probably be a tour of rental car and longterm airport parking lots.  Joy.  Hopefully back from the run by 5pm.  Get cleaned up and showered and forage for healthy food.  Granted I'm in an aiport hotel.  So this probalby means getting a salad with some chicken on it and the dressing on the side.  Or if I'm lucky a sandwhich and some fruit from the starbucks I hope is in the lobby.  After that I'll research the pool and gym situation, try and find a hottub to go and soak in and then go to bed around 7pm which will feel like 10pm to me.

Thursday...  hopefully the hotel gym has a decent excercise bike in it.  Preferrably a spin type bike.  Or if not hopefully theres a nicer gym nearby that I'll shoot to arrive at by 6AM.  I'll do an hour on the bike and then rush back to my room to shower, then head to an 8 hour setup day.  Finish that around 5 or 6, shower, eat, sleep.

Friday...   I get to sleep in a little today!  Yay!  I'll hit the pool by 8am for an hour swim session, and then get ready to go to work.  Show opens around noon and I'll work from 10am or so till 1am.  Crawl into bed exhausted and pass out.

Saturday...   So heres the deal now.  Once the show opens it runs something like 18-20 hours a day.  And once its open I can't leave the hotel while the show is in progress.  I have to be able to rush back and fix something if I'm not there.  Since I work till 1am I usually have a later call time (time I have to be back at the gig).  So I'll get up saturday morning at 6 on 5 hours sleep and try and complete a monster indoor brick.  I'll shoot to do 50 miles on the bike and a 20 minute run after that.  Shower, and then off to work by noon till 1am again.

Sunday...    I have two choices on sunday...   getup at 6am to run 12 miles outside, or sleep in a little later and run the 12 miles on the treadmill indoors because the show floor is open at around 8am and I can't be off property when its open.  I'll aim to run outdoors, but sometimes I'm just too tired by this point.  I'll then work from about noon till 10pm.  The show ends around 6 or 7pm and then we spend several hours taking it down and stuffing it back in the trailer.  Which in the case of this show is a 53' trailer stuffed floor to ceiling front to back.

Monday...   swim at the crack of dawn, shower, head to airport, attempt to catch up on 5 days worth of not enough sleep on the plane, arrive in Providence at 8pm, crawl into bed as I'll probably have an open water swim tuesday morning and the TT that afternoon.

Now notice theres no sightseeing...   no fun outings to new and exciting restaurants, no hikes in the mountains of Denver or anything else exciting.  The most sightseeing I ever do on a business trip is whatever I happen to run past in the early mornings.  Other than that I see the airport, some variation of cab/limo/shuttle bus, a hotel room, the venue, the hotel's crappy restaurant, the starbucks in the lobby, and thats pretty much it.  Still think travel is exciting?  This is why I need to eventually come up with a longterm plan to get off the road and consider a new career, or a change in my current one that would allow me to stay home.  Training around multiple time zones and locations is a pain in the ass.  And the only way to do it is to sacrifice sleep.  I kind of like sleep.  An 8 hour day in my job when I'm travelling is a rarity.  Typically most days are 12-18 hours.  So pretty much any training you do has to be in the early morning.  I apologize if this comes off as whining...   I'm just trying to convey a little bit about the reality of trying to juggle my work/life/training balance.  Its really quite hard to do sometimes.  Although I will say this blog is letting me air my thoughts on the subject out a little bit and figure out where I want my priorities to be.  Not that I've figured it out yet, but this blog is certainly helping me down that road.  If anyone actually reads it, well thats nice too!  : ) 


So some other random thoughts....

This morning I did an open water swim with a friend of mine.  Our plan was to do a route just over a mile.  We swam out to roughly the quarter mile point and my friend decided that they just weren't feeling it today.  So this person decided to swim back to shore and told me that they would wait for me to return to make sure I got out of the water ok and told me to continue on with my workout.  I asked if this person was sure that they could make it back to shore safely and got a defnite yes.  So I swam on with my route.  However somewhere along my way out I started to wonder if I'd made the right decision.  I'm new to open water swimming so I'm not entirely sure of the proper way to handle such things.  Now this particular person was in a wetsuit, is quite strong, and a very safe swimmer.  But even the strongest people when tired are at risk in the water.  Should I have followed them back to shore?  Was it stupid for me to do the out and back by myself even with someone waiting for me?  The funny thing about open water swimming is they say you should never do it alone.  But really...   what is the other person going to do if you get into trouble?  None of us are trained in life saving techniques.  Not to mention how would I even know they were in trouble?  When we swim in groups we tend not to check in with each other except for maybe every 1/4 to 1/2 mile.  Which is plenty enough time for someone to get into trouble and drown without me even noticing or hearing anything.  Contrary to what you see on TV people drown silently.  Theres no splashing and yelling.  So was it stupid of me to continue on by myself?  Is having someone on the shore waiting to make sure I come out of the water a 1/2 mile from my current position even helpfull?  Is it enough?  Should I have even swam out there at all?

The more I think about this the more I'm kicking myself for not at the very least swimming back into the shore with this person to make sure they made it safely out of the water.  That was the right thing to do.  I know they told me to continue on with my swim but it still wasn't right that I kept going.  I'm a bit angry at myself about it now.  Had the tables been turned I would have appreciated the gesture.  So had I done that the question is then what would I have done after that?  gone out again on my own with someone on the shore?  or cut my workout short?  I still don't know the answer to that one.  Definitely food for thought.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekly Summary / Monday's Rambling

Time for a quick weekly update and then on to Monday's nonsense.

Last week was a big week of training for me that included a big weekend of workouts.  I'm pleased with how well it went and what I was able to learn from it.  The biggest takeaway being just how spent my legs felt doing the long run after a large brick the day before.  I need to keep training that way so my legs get more accustomed to running while beat up and I can pick my pace up a bit as 9'30"s are not going to cut it in the half!

So totals...

Swimming: 3 sessions, all in open water, 3.19 miles total, 2 hours.

Cycling: 3 sessions, 111 miles total, 7 hours total.

Running: 4 sessions, 33.5 miles total, 5 hours.

Total: 14 hours of training.

Not a bad week!

Onto Monday's Nonsense....

This morning started with an open water swim at GVP with Nancy and Cass.  I love swimming with other people.  The three of us didn't stay in a tight pack or anything, but its just nice when you breathe to one side and see someone, and then breathe to the other side and see someone else.  Its comforting to know there are people around you and its not just you in the middle of the lake.  Today's swim felt really good to me.  I kept a really nice and relaxed pace.  I tried to focus on form (reaching as far forward as possible), gliding as much as possible between strokes, and just finding a nice relaxed rhythm.  It wasn't a fast swim by any means, but it was a really relaxed one.  I found my mind was wandering to random thoughts during the swim which is always a good sign I've found a good groove.  This doesn't happen a lot in swimming for me yet so today was a good swim.  I'm very pleased.  In the end we did the dock swim in 42 minutes.  But that time also includes us chit chatting at the dock at the halfway point.  The real highlight of today other than being relaxed is my sighting.  Check this out....

The plan was to swim to the buoy, then follow the coastline to the dock, and then swim a straight line back to the beach.  Following the shore line is easy.  The straight line to the beach is sometimes tricky at GVP.  The sun gets in your eyes, the beach doesn't stand out from the rest of the shoreline all that well and theres an island that blocks your view of it for a little bit.  The above is definitely the straightest I've done that segment though.  I'm pretty damn happy with that.

Next up tomorrow...   another swim in the AM to make up for the fact I'm headed to Denver on wednesday, and then the providence bicycle TT course with a run tagged on at the end.  Should be a good day.  I just hope we get better weather than last week!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend on the Jersey Shore

I spent this weekend on the Jersey shore in the Red Bank area visiting my folks.  They happen to live pretty close to Sandy Hook which is a nice long stretch of beach on a peninsula of sorts.  Its a really pretty area with some great beaches complete with a nice long bike/running path and some nice roads with wide shoulders for some great cycling.  I drove down to New Jersey on Friday afternoon to visit with my family.  But since training stops for noone I packed my car up with everything I'd need to get some quality workouts in.  But since this is a family visit I did at least start all my workouts at 6am so I could be back at my parents house before it got too late in the day.  After all I was only visiting from Friday afternoon till Sunday afternoon.

Now if you've been following my rambling you know I'm very seriously considering doing the 1/2 ironman length race in early September.  I've also been logging some longer miles in my training that you would typically do for sprints.  Really I've had my eye on getting ready for a 1/2 since I started this journey.  Its always been the real goal.  But up until now I haven't REALLY ramped my training up to include some monster bricks and a few of the othey key ingredients in a true 1/2 iron training plan.  I've spent some time in the last week looking at training plans for 1/2 Irons.  Turns out what I've been doing is pretty damn close to what I should have been doing in the early weeks.  Excellent!  I've already been doing weekly 13 mile long runs, plenty of swimming, and plenty of long rides, and decent length bricks (a mix of olympic and sprint length).  But right around now (week 8 of a 16 week plan) is when the big bricks start.  So this weekend I set out to hit it hard and see what it would feel like to do a much larger brick, and then follow it with my long run the day afterwards.  Previously I've been running long on Saturday, riding long on Sunday, and keeping my bricks to tuesday's mostly.  Now its time to switch that up...     so from now till the 1/2 (although I have to work around two sprint tri's) I'll be doing large bricks on Saturday's and running long on Sundays.

So with a new plan and a new mission I was up and out of bed at 445am on Saturday morning.  By 530am I was out the door and on my way to Sandy Hook in the car.  I got there not long after sunrise.  It was really beautifull out.  However it was also really hot out and it was only going to get worse.  The current temp at 6am was around 80 degrees and it was supposed to go over 90 in short order.  So its a good thing I started early.
My plan was pretty simple.  Keep the ocean on your left and head south for 28 miles.  At which point I would turn around and ride back 28 miles for a total of 56 miles on the bike.  Then I'd do a quick transition at the car and then go for a six mile run.  So with the sun still rising on my left I set out down the Jersey shore.  I have to say I was really suprised by how nice it was there.  The beaches are really quite nice and theres all sorts of things to look at as you head down the shore.  There were also quite a lot of other cyclists and runners out.  I also saw quite a few triathletes out for their ride.  Since the road runs right down the coast its pretty damn flat.  So its a popular place to ride.  Personally I would have preferred if there were at least a few hills to contend with, but since my sense of direction is so poor I figured keeping it simple and easy to follow was a good plan.  During my ride I rode through several towns including Asbury Park which has quite a character to it.  The first twenty miles went by quite quickly.  I was nice and comfy on the bike and I was keeping my pace pretty moderate.  Mostly as I was trying really hard to make sure my legs would be able to do the six mile run afterwards.  So I wanted to bike conservatively.  In the end on the 56 mile ride I averaged just under 18mph.  There were a few times I got lost (I had to venture inland a few times when the road along the beach would stop and sometimes it took me a while to find my way back, with stops to pull out my phone and look at maps etc.)  but for the most part that average is pretty accurate.  At around the 25 mile mark I had to venture inland to pickup the last three miles as the ocean side road dissapeared.  Finally though my bike computer said I'd gone 28 miles so it was time to turn around and retrace my route back to the car.  Now at this point its really HOT out.  Its already over 90 degrees.  I was sweating a ton!  However I did very well with hydration and fuel on this ride.  During the 56 miles I ate 3 GUs, and drank two bottles of gatorade, and 4 bottles of water.  Fortunately for me the boardwalk along the beachside road is covered in little stands that sell water so restocking was quick and easy.  Somewhere around 35 miles in I had a really great groove going.  I was trying to focus on my pedal stroke and I was doing a much better job than my usual of keeping a nice even stroke.  I had a great rhythm going.  I was also have a great time.  There were loads of other cyclists out now.  Although I'd say 60% of them were on comfort/hybrid/beach cruiser type bikes.  But all the same I said hello to everyone I passed.  Everyone there was nice and friendly which was nice too.  Around mile 40 I was thinking how the miles are flying by and I was in a great groove....    Until this happened.
Just as I was approaching this bridge the gate drops and I had to wait ten minutes for the bridge to go up and a ton of boats to pass under it.  I was definitely not riding as quickly after being forced to wait for ten minutes.  Maybe I should have turned around just to keep riding.  It took me till around mile 50 to feel like I was back in my happy groove again.  The last thing my legs needed was a ten minute cool down.  Not to mention standing there with no shade in the heat was brutal.  Its now gotta be 95 degrees.  I felt like I couldn't drink enough water fast enough.  It was nuts.  I was soaked!  Around mile 55 I pulled my feet out of the bike shoes leaving them on the pedals and finished the ride into transition....  which I actually timed.  I managed to do the transition (which includes opening the car, stuffing the bike in it, going through transtion, locking the car, and heading out on the run) in 1:32.  Had the car not been involved I'm pretty sure I could get that to 30-45 seconds. 

So I headed out on the run.  My legs felt as you would think they would after riding 56 miles.  I looked down at my garmin and it said I was running 7:30s.  WHAT?  no way thats right...     I checked again a few minutes later and says I'm still running that fast.  Weird.  I felt like I was dying.  The heat and humidity were just oppresive.  I felt like every step was a battle and yet I was running pretty damn fast.  Too fast.  I kept trying to slow down and I just couldn't seem to do it.  Thats the pace my legs wanted to go at.  This started to become a problem.  If it was 60 degrees out I would have been fine.  But it was 95+ with a lot of humidity and I was dying, and on top of that I was starting to overheat.  If I can't slow down I'm going to crash and burn.  I suspect that the reason I was struggling to slow down is that I'd been pedalling with a pretty high cadence for three hours and my legs just wanted to keep that cadence up.  I need to really work on forcing my body to slow down or this will be an issue on a hot day.  About 2 miles in I was about ready to explode.  I was on the edge of overheating.  There was zero shade on the running path and zero breeze.  So I decided to stop running and walk for a little while.  My heart rate was also alarmingly high at this point.  It was pegged in zone 4.4 at around 90% of max.  Not a great place to be in that heat.  So I took a walk break.  I NEVER take walk breaks.  Usually I hate them as I find starting to run again near impossible.  But in this case it was my only option...  well either that or explode.  So I walked for maybe two minutes.  During this time I got my heart rate down to somewhere a lot more respectable.  I decided I would try and run a little while.  So I picked an object in the distance and said I'll run to that, and then take another break.  Fortunately the walk break seemed to snap my cadence issue so I was able to run a little slower this time which was great as I felt like I could now maintain this pace.  So I ran past the point I'd picked out to the turn around point at mile 3.  At this point I'd already finished the 20oz of gatorade I had with me.  So I stopped briefly to buy two bottles of water to drink on the run back.  So there was another brief break there.  The way back I felt much better.  Especially as I now had cold water to drink which made a huge difference.  It also convinced me that my issue was not that I'd ridden 56 miles, but that it was just too damn hot and humid out and I was overheating.  Which is a problem for me.  Its the same thing that screwed up my 3:30 finish in the DC marathon.  Once I started dumping cold water over my head in that race my pace picked right back up.  So I poured some of the water I had with me over my head.  And then as I was running past the beach I saw the best thing!  AN OUTDOOR SHOWER!  YES!!!  So I ran under it and pushed the button and soacked myself completely in it and then ran the last two miles back to the car feeling much much better.  In the end including the walk breaks (but not the stop to shower or to buy water) I averaged 8:26/mile.  Which tells you how fast I went out on the run.  In fact here are the mile splits in order form start to finish...    737, 7:46, 7:58, 9:46, 8:52, 8:37.  You can see where I walked and how the pace came back to something more appropriate for the conditions afterwards.  So clearly I have to work on managing my run pace off the bike.  I've never really noticed this before as during oly sized bricks in cooler temps it wasn't an issue.

When I reached the car I grabbed my wallet and headed straight for the snack bar at the beach.  I was completely soaked and sweaty and just wrong looking I'm sure.  I bet I looked exhausted.  I went up to the window and bought a gatorade, a GIANT diet coke with piles of ice in it and two bottles of water.  I stopped briefly on the way back to the car to stand under another beach shower for two minutes and then I proceeded to sit on the back of my car and drink EVERYTHING.  I was HOT!  I haven't had a soda in forever.  That diet coke may have been the best soda I've ever had.  Even after all this I still felt like I was overheating so I got in the car and turned the ac on.  Heres how hot my car says it was.
You can also kind of see how sweaty and gross I was.  So I drove back to my folks house with the AC blasting on me the whole way, took a really long really cold shower, and then jumped in the pool to cool off even further.  Here's a shot of Mom, Dad and the pool.
So all in all I was pretty pleased with the brick, but I'm anxious to repeat it in cooler weather and guage how I do on the run with the heat not being a factor.  I definitely felt like running another 7 miles on top of the six would have been damn hard.  Doable with a run/walk strategy, but hard!  So I'm curious what its like on a cooler day and if I would still feel like it was so hard.

So speaking of hard...    the training plans calls for long runs on Sundays so that your running on tired legs.  So once again I was up at 445am and at the beach and running by 6AM.  I went to the same place I started from the day before but instead I ran north instead of south.  Within the first two minutes of the run I knew what they meant by running on "tired legs".  I felt AWFUL!  I usually really enjoy my long runs, but today was a sufferfest.  I am however proud to say I ran the entire distance.  No walking other than the stop at the water fountain to refill my fuel belt.  The run was damn hard today.  The temperatures climbed back into the 90s during my run again and a large part of my route had no shade.  So it was a slugfest.  At first I looked at my pace and suspected once my legs loosened up it would improve.  Nope.  If you look at the splits it looks like a rainbow.  It starts at 9:15, peaks at 10's in the middle, and reaches 8:30 on the last mile.  So apparently it took me 12 miles to loosen up.  I don't know that I've ever run a ten minute mile before on my own.  I pretty solidly can groove an 8:30 pace on my long runs.  But not today...   I was just happy to keep moving and stay motivated.  My brain was SCREAMING at me to stop.  So I screamed right back.  It got ugly in there!  Today was a battle but I was determined not to give up.  I'm really proud of my mental effort today.  Today was definitely in the top three most hardest runs I've ever done.  And the route was pretty damn flat.  Actually it was funny I went over a slight rise and I was dying.  I wonder what a real hill would have felt like.  The important thing about today though was that I suffered through it and managed to keep going despite my brain yelling stop the entire time.  I ended the run with another long trip to the outdoor shower and another jump in the pool once I got home. 

So things to take away from this weekend....

Giant bricks are hard.  Really hard.
Giant bricks in 95+ degree weather are BRUTAL!
I need to do more giant bricks
I need to run on tired legs more.
I need to remember to dump water on my head as it really works wonders for me
The 1/2 iron distance is not something to disrespect or underestimate
I have even more respect for the full ironman distance.
I suffered a lot... but I persevered.
I LOVED every minute of it no matter how hard it got.

All in all a great week.  I'm excited to continue on following my new training plan.  Even if for whatever reason I don't do the 1/2 I think that training for it is going to be damn good for me.  Dialing up the intensity this weekend felt really great, really challenging, and a lot of fun.  I'm excited for whats to come.