Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Last Big Pre-FIRM Brick!

Today was my last large hard effort brick on the FIRM course before the race.  From here on out it gets easier till race day.  I'm excited to say I've made it to the taper injury free and feeling better than ever!  I really am going to destory this thing.  I can't wait!  But first...   back to the brick.

Weather forecast for today was for 97 degree temperatures and the potential for some serious waves due to various hurricanes off the east coast.  Normally this would have me trying to start the workout nice and early.  However since I was flying home from a show yesterday and getting home rather late (I got home around 10pm) I knew I wasn't going to be able to manage an early start.  So I setup the workout to start at 9am not realizing what a scorcher it was going to be today.  But as always...   train in everything, fear nothing.  So I wasn't going to let a little sun stop me.

I metup with Kate, Taryn, and Mike this morning to swim the entire 1.2 mile FIRM course.  I've swam at Narragansett beach several times, but I've yet to do the swim in the same direction as the race which I wanted to do once and get used to sighting the towers and other landmarks.  So that was the plan.  Walking down the beach in my wetsuit half on it was pretty clear that today was going to be brutally hot.  I was sweating just standing still even before I put the wetsuit on.  Fortunatley though as soon as we got in the water it was really comfortable.  Looking at the ocean from the sea wall it looked like there were some good sized waves today, large rolling swells, but otherwise calm smooth seas with no chop.  When we got to the other end of the beach the waves were even larger.  I was finally going to get to find out what its like to dive into the face of a wave!  Sweet!  I was kind of excited.  First big wave came up and I dove right into the base of it and popped out the other side.  Fun!  I repeated this a couple of times till I got past the breaking point of the wave and then proceeded to head straight out over the tops of the swells to calmer waters.  Once we got a good distance from shore there were some slow rollers but it was actually really calm and nice out there.  We started to swim down the beach sighting at the towers in the distance.  Pretty much all of the buoys were gone so our sighting system went like this.  Generally head for the towers in a straight line.  Mike and Taryn (the fastest swimmers in our group) would swim out ahead of Kate and I and stop a few times along the way turning their swim capped heads into human buoys.  So I'd sight for the yellow top of Taryn's head which worked out quite well.  We would regroup and then proceed onward staying together and making sure everyone was ok.  I felt really good in the swim today.  Most of all I felt confident out there.  My favorite part of the swim was talking to Taryn while we were treading water.  She said to me "so you really couldn't swim in April and now you're out here in the middle of the ocean?".  Yep!  I felt very comfortable out in the ocean.  I'm really enjoying it now which is great.  I almost didn't want the swim to end today.  It was so nice and cool out in the water.  But eventually we reached the other end of the beach and it was time to head into shore.  This should be interesting as I haven't swam in with waves that big before.  Clearly I need to learn more about what the backside of waves look like and how to time my swim into shore.  I got bounced around quite a bit and right when I wanted to pop up to breathe I was getting flailed about in white churning break water.  Fun!  I made it in eventually though without too much trouble and we headed to the cars to prep our bikes.

Taryn headed off to do a shorter ride today as her training plan called for something shorter than our ride today.  But we were joined by Nancy and Sean for the ride.  At this point its now close to 11am.  Not exactly the best time to start a ride on a hot day!  The FIRM bike course also offers pretty much ZERO shade except for the KFR section.  So as expected the long stretches of route 1 were HOT and dull!  I was so happy to enter the shade of the KFR loop at mile 16.  I had already gone through one bottle and it was clear that three bottles was not going to get me through this ride as it usually does.  Fortunately I knew there was a gas station around mile 37 so I just rerationed my fluids to make sure I could make it that far.  The KFR loop was nice as we relaxed our pace a bit and enjoyed the shade and rode two wide and chatted a bit here and there away from the traffic of route 1.  I didn't feel so hot on the hills in that section today which was odd as they usually don't bother me.  I think I'm more tired from the show this weekend and the travel yesterday than I thought.  I was pretty sad to reach the end of the KFR loop and enter back into the heat of route 1 again.  We were also now greeted with a nice hot and stale headwind.  The solace in this however was that this was going to turn into a tailwind for the 18 or so mile trip back to the start area.  Sweet!  And sure enough after we turned around at mile 37 we had an awesome tailwind. 

We pulled into the gas station shortly after turning around.  I had finished a cold gatorade out of the cooler before I even made it to the counter to pay for it.  It was that hot out today.  We bought some gallons of cold water and refilled all our bottles and drank up.  I also had an awesome swig of Sean's super cold coke which was heavenly.  I can't remember the last time I drank regular coke.  It was sweet and good!  I drank what I suspected would be way too much fluid and then we headed out again.  It was so hot though that even just a couple of minutes later I was drinking again.  I think in all I drank about 5-6 24oz bottles of water on just the ride today and then another 40oz on the run.  AND I WAS STILL THIRSTY!

The rest of the ride back was good and fast.  Sean was out front for most of the way back and I was not far behind him.  We kept a nice fast pace and grooved our way back.  This is only my second ride on my new aero wheels and it was really the first time I felt like I noticed the difference.  My speed retention on the flats and descents today was AWESOME!  Maintaining speed seems much easier with these wheels over my training wheels.  Descending seems even faster and I was able to speed up on the descents and then stop pedalling and not lose any speed which was great as a nice little recovery between climbs on the KFR loop.  I was really loving them today.  Glad I decided to pull the trigger on them before the FIRM as the course really lends itself well to them.

Unfortunately though my chain is still giving me issues.  For whatever reason the master link on my chain doesn't like my new rear cassette and keeps skipping whenever it crosses it.  Which means it slips briefly which is really annoying.  Its gone in to get tweaked twice now without it being fixed so now I have to bring it back in tomorrow for a brand new chain and master link and see if that fixes it.  I hope so!

In the end we did the ride at an average of 18mph or so.  Not terribly fast but it was so hot out today that we decided to be a little more cautious with pace and not destroy ourselves in the heat.  It was a hard ride today though, even at that pace thanks to the temp.

Off the bike I was the only one running today.  Mostly as everyone else had either already done their long brick over the weekend or had different training plan requirements.  Plus everyone else knew how hot it was and didn't want to run.  But this was my big brick today so no skipping the run for me.

Within the first two minutes of the run my brain was saying...  "wow...  this is going to SUCK!".  My brain was not wrong.  As usual I was off the bike running 7:30s.  I knew that I had to be carefull as that pace in this heat was going to be difficult to maintain.  By now its 97 degrees out and the run course has zero shade and very very little breeze.  It was just insanely hot.  I did the run in a hat and tri shorts and I was sweating up a storm instantly.  It was just brutal out there.  I conciously slowed my pace as best as I could so I wouldn't bonk.  I was still drinking gatorade off my fuel belt and I was carrying 40oz to get me through my planned six miles.  That was not enough however and I had to ration it on the way back.  Thats how hot it was.  Usually that much fluid gets me through 13 miles easily.  I was so happy when my Garmin said I'd run 3 and I could turn around.  The way back was especially brutal.  I was so hot and miserable.  The lack of shade on the road was a real bummer as the sun was just killing me.  My brain was screaming at me to walk but I refused to listen.  In the end I averaged 8:10s for the six miles.  Not too shabby in those conditions and after doing the swim and bike too in the heat.  So I was pretty pleased with that.

So heres a breakdown on what I consumed today fluid wise....

16oz Coffee
20oz water
20oz of gatorade

95oz of Gatorade Endurance
60 oz of water

40oz of Gatorade

Post Run:
40oz of Gatorade
60oz of water

This evening...
60oz of water.

Thats a total of 370oz of fluid!  Thats a lot!

All in all it was a great workout today and I'm really pleased with how it went.  I put in a great effort in challenging conditions today and I'm really proud of myself for that.  I'm so ready to crush this race.  I feel stronger now than ever. 

Next up...    planning out the rest of my taper and lining up some training partners for those workouts as well as some other good things this week too that I'll talk about another time perhaps.  Good things are on the horizon on all fronts!  September is going to be a fantastic month!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Getting Wet in Raleigh

I've been on the tour I'm working on this week for five years now.  Although the event has changed and evolved theres one thing thats been consistent.  The event never ends on time and always goes long.  Long in the case of this event means late.  So its pretty typical that I get out of work around midnight most nights.  However for whatever reason the live broadcasts have been ending delightfully early.  Friday we got out just after 9pm and last night I was in bed by 10:30 which rocked.  So this morning I leisurely got up at 6:30, turned the rig on and then headed to the hotel pool to get some laps in.

After the first out and back two things came to my attention.  Despite it looking like its almost 25 yards long I think in fact its only about 18 as the walls come awfully quick.  The other was that at first I thought the water tasted horribly wrong.  Then it occured to me that its actually a salt water pool which is why it doesn't taste like chlorine.  I've never actually swam in an indoor salt water pool.  Its actually quite nice.

So with those shocks out of the way I proceeded to get to work.  At first I wasn't sure what to expect.  Despite the fact that I swim an average of 4 miles a week I haven't been in a pool in forever!  I do all of my swimming in open water in a wetsuit.  So quite often when I get in a pool my legs sink and its a battle for good body position which exhausts and frustrates me.  Its the biggest thing I plan on working on in the offseason this year as I really must fix that.  Well I don't know if its all the swimming I've been doing lately, or the buoyancy of the salt water pool but my body position today sans wetsuit was the best its ever been.  I was really pleased.  It still needs work and I'm still using a bit too much energy in the kick but I felt really solid today in the pool which was awesome.  In a way its a shame the pool is so short as after a while that got kind of frustrating.  So today I just did some easy laps for a while and then I did some kick drills that I'd read about last night focusing on the "clinch your butt cheeks together like your trying to hold a quarter between them and kick from the hip" technique I'd read about on swim smooth yesterday.  This was actually working really well for me and I could really feel the difference in my body position.  So after doing that for a bit the walls coming rapidly got annoying.  So I switched gears a little.  I tried practicing some flip turns since I had the pool to myself.  Those went better than expected and I even managed a decent turn or two.  The biggest problem was that there was no T painted on the floor of the pool so timing them was not easy.  Man its a weird sensation when you flip and go to push off the wall and your feet never hit it!  Fortunately I didn't have the opposite problem of flipping and hitting my legs on the wall of the pool prematurely.  But that was good practice.  I still have a long ways to go before I master that one though.  So in the end today was just a nice leisurely pool session.  Hard to do much more than that in such a short pool.  It felt good though and makes me think maybe spending the winter in the pool won't be as hard as I sometimes think it will be.

Now its another day at the office for the epicly long live broadcast today.  I think were live for something like 4 hours today.  And then tomorrow we will take it all down and stuff it in five trucks and then fly home.  Tomorrow is going to be another off day for me as tuesday will be my one last big swim/bike/run brick workout on the course.  I plan on doing the entire swim and bike portions and either a 3 or 6 mile run.  I think six but I haven't decided yet.  Should be a great day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Off Day

Today is a rest day...   well at least from working out it is.  Unfortunately its also a 7am-Midnight workday.  So theres not a lot of resting going on.  However on the plus side most of what I do today is push a few buttons on the lighting console and babysitt rehearsals occasionally and then we do the live broadcast from 7pm-1130pm or so tonight and I'm done.  So I do get to spend pretty much as much of the day as I want sitting down.  So its at least easy on the body.  And on the plus side the chair I get to sit in all day is one of those 200 dollar plus fancy schamancy office chairs that the tour I'm working on purchased for all the techs. 

So lets talk about work for a bit here.  I'm fairly certain I've hinted here that I'm starting to very much tire of what I do for a living.  My job takes a toll on you after a while.  Yes I make great money on the road, but at the same time being away from friends and family and your own bed on a regular basis is a pretty high cost to pay to balance that.  I am lucky in that by "touring" standards my job is pretty plush.  I work on exclusively corporate events.  I stay in very nice hotels and most of my shows last a week long in the same venue.  Many of my friends live on tour buses cutting across the US and the world setting up in the morning, doing the show, taking it all down and then sleeping on the bus on the way to the next town to do it all again.  Now thats hard work!  I would say on average I'm away 15-22 weeks a year with work.  Those aren't all week long trips though, as theres quite a few 3-5 day trips in there too that add up to that total.  When I was 24 and out of college I dreamed of being in the chair I'm in now.  I wanted to be good enough at my job that people would pay to fly me someplace to do my thing.  I looked up to the guys I met that do what I do now.  I really wanted to be them.

And now here we are many years later.  I'm that guy.  The corporate lighting and scenic designer on the road getting paid the big bucks and getting flown in especially by my clients to do my thing.  My clients know and respect me and my work ethic.  They know I won't stop or sleep, or ever give up on a gig till its at its best.  In fact I'm not the best lighting designer out there by a long shot, but I'm one of the hardest working and most professional ones you'll come across and thats why people fly me all over the place. 

But back to the big picture....     I've reached what I think is the pinnacle of success for me in my industry.  Yes there are much larger events I can work on, but realistically I don't think I'm going to get to that point.  Especially as I would have to make a bunch more sacrifices to get there.  For instance I would have to spend all of my free time trying to land more work, and learn more bits of software etc.  Which would mean no more training time.  And I am definitely not prepared to give that up.  Point is...   I'm at the peak of my career in this industry.  I've reached the top.  I could very easily stay right here working at this level for the next 20 years.  But that thought makes me shudder.  The other issue is stress levels.  As I've gotten better at what I do and progressed from technician to lighting designer to scenic designer I now have this giant workload and level of reponsibility on my plate.  Now my clients look to me to do both the scenic and lighting design for their events which means piles of conference calls and meetings and design and renderings and piles and piles of preproduction work and a GIANT stress level on load in day when just about every single department is affected by everything I do.  Everybody is asking for me to answer some question or other.  It gets pretty insanely stressfull.  And there were times when I thrived on that stress.  But as time progresses I don't love that stress as much.  Maybe I'm just getting older?  I don't know... but lately as much as I still love my job there seems to be more moments of stress and less moments of joy.  And I am just not enjoying the moments of stress.  They seem to be getting harder to deal with and not easier.

So the thing is...   in the last few years I've done a lot to take a step back from my life and overhaul it from as many angles as possible.  I lost weight, I completely overhauled my eating habits, I went from an unhealthy  life to the opposite extreme and I love it.  I took a long serious look at the relationships in my life and made some good decisions about how to better those and better myself.  I removed almost all of the bad influences and stressors from my personal life and my life in general.  These are all great things but theres one last piece of the puzzle left to go.  And thats my job.  I think I've reached the point where its time for a change of career.  The question thats been weighing heavily on me however is to what?  And this is the thing I need to figure out...   and soon.  The way my job works is that there are a number of projects I need to say yay or neigh to very early in the year.  So my window for change starts in late November and ends in late January.  After January I'm committed to another year of the tour I work on and several other large projects.  So ideally I need to make the switch at that point.  So what I've been rolling around in my head this year is do I make the change this year, or next year?  I would very much like to make that change this year if at all possible but with the economic climate being what it is I don't know if that will be possible. 

As a side note this year I made a large effort to talk to my clients and change the scope of what I do for work and reduce some of the stress levels and time requirements in order to stay in my current job and change it to more suit what I'm looking for.  Unfortunately many of my clients rebelled and protested.  I tried to close down the scenic design aspect of my business in order to take that workload off my plate.  The two major clients I have in that regard both protested mightily and even both offered to pay me more money to not give it up.  Which is a flattering compliment but it doesn't improve the quality of my life or reduce the stress I'm under any.

So the big question is whats next?  I need to spend some time thinking about my next move.  What it will be and when it will be.  Should I find someting to act as a buffer in the middle?  I can tell you one thing though.  Whatever it is there will be one completely un-negotiable aspect to this new job:

Must allow enough time outside of work to train for a full ironman.  The more I think about it the more I want to do one next year.  But I won't make that decision until after the FIRM is over.  We'll see how my first half goes first and then take things from there.

Ok...  time for me to go back to work and keep thinking about this....   I may not know exactly whats next but I'm excited about finding and placing this second to last piece of the puzzle in place.  Whats the other piece?  The answer to that one lies within the wisdom of the Beatles.....  "All You Need Is Love"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Updates From Raleigh

Another day another dollar, and more fun cramming in workouts around actual work.  So lets get to it...

Yesterday morning I was up at 5am and in the hotel gym by 5:30 to get on the spin bike.  Its one of those Life Fitness brand upright bikes that every hotel gym seems to have.  I hate them.  The handlebars are too high for me so my position on them is awkward at best.  But its better than nothing.  Often I'll try and find a real gym near my hotel and see if they have actual real spin bikes to use as I find them to be more adjustable and a better approximation of a bike.  But no such option here so me and the Life Fitness bike are about to get real close.  I usually set these things to "Random Hill Workout" at 50% of max difficulty.  The variance in intensities gives me a great workout and stops my brain from shutting down due to intense boredom.  Theres a friendly little display of evil red dots that shows you what your upcoming toruture is going to be.

The really tall spikes indicate upcoming pain.  The really low spikes indicate blissful easy spinning.  Sometimes there are many really tall spikes in a row which indicates sustained pain and suffering.  I find the random workouts to be pretty good and at the end of an hour I feel pretty accomplished at the puddle of sweat under the bike.  Especially in your typical way too warm hotel gym.  I find that the least likely someone is going to want to get on the bike after I'm done with it the better the workout I've just had.  I am however happy to say that I do a pretty good job of cleaning the bike when I'm done.

After the bike it was back to the gig for day 2 of setup.  I'm also happy to say that day 2 went a hec of a lot better than day 1 did!  I had some good local lead techs on my crew which made the day go by nicely and I managed to get everything done and show ready by 3pm.  At which point I pretty much just had to hang around till 5 to be told I'm done for the day.

At 5pm I went back to my hotel room and made a fabulous PB&J bagel sandwhich, banana, and some raw almonds for dinner.  And then promptly after that I fell asleep and had one of those "big mistake" naps.  I was pretty tired.  My job can be fairly physical at times so usually after an intense workout and a long day I'm pretty beat.  I wokeup around 730pm and spent the rest of the night staring at the ceiling trying to fall asleep.  Pretty exciting eh?  Not so much!

This morning I was up at 5am again and headed to the hotel torture chamber / gym for my long run.  I decided to do my long run on the dreadmill for a few reasons.  The largest of which is that although I didn't have to be at work till 10AM this morning its always possible that some problem will arise and I'll be asked to come in much earlier than that.  If I'm out running 5 miles from the hotel I'm going to be in a world of trouble and my client is not going to be happy with me.  It was also dark for the first hour of my run this morning.  I don't really care for running in a city I don't know in the dark when I'm at risk of running into the wrong neighborhood at any moment.  (I've done that before... it wasn't fun!)  I also have a tendency to get lost easily as I have no sense of direction whatsoever.  Add all that up and its rare I will run long on the road if I can't find a nice long straight road or trail to run on thats easy to navigate.  The other reason not to do it outdoors is I'm right smack in the middle of the city which from looking at the map the night before means that I would have been stopping every 2 minutes to cross the street.  Which gets really old after a while.  So the dreadmill it is!

When I walked into the hotel gym this morning I had the place to myself.  Fabulous.  This means I get to crank my ipod and attempt to air drum and sing along to my ipod.  Sweet.
I decided I was going to run easy and long today with a planned distance of 14 miles.  My training plan calls for this run to happen on Sunday after a long bike/run brick on Saturday.  Well my work / travel schedule means I have to get creative with my training plans so my long run got moved to today as it was the day that I didn't have to be at work at 7am and could get my run without having to wakeup before 5AM.  I also wanted to do my last long brick on my actual bike and not on a spin bike so I've bumped that one to tuesday even though that means its technically cutting into my taper time a little.  I'm not worried though as I'll taper dilligently after that workout is done.

Anyway...   so today was long run day.  Nothing like looking at the treadmill display to see it saying .21 miles run so far.  And then your thinking....   AWESOME!  Only 13.79 to go!  Yikes...    I have to say the one thing I discovered that I was good at when I got into endurance training is that mentally I can be a rock when I need to be.  I can go to my happy place and let my mind wander and stay positive while the miles tick away.  So for the first ten miles I thought about all sorts of things.  I thought about running the FIRM course.  What that last bit of the run along the beach is going to feel like.  Who might be at the finish line cheering.  Hoping that I'll see and get to run with other Tri-NE club members out on the run course.  And maybe even getting to battle them to the finish line a little bit for some good fun and friendly competition.  I remembered back to watching everyone assemble in the finish area after finishing the AMICA 1/2 and how happy all the finishers looked and that this time I'll be one of them!  Lots of happy thoughts today.  I thought about some good things that are happening next week, about a friend of mine whose been having a bit of a tough time lately and all sorts of other random things.  This mixed with some early U2 on the ipod meant I was having a grand ol time for the first 10 miles. 

Somewhere in there the hotel gym started to fill up with the usual suspects.  Every hotel gym has the same characters in it.  Especially early in the morning.  Theres always the old guy on the recumbent bike set to zero resitance gently spinning away while reading the paper.  The larger sweaty guy on the elliptical mistakenly thinking that he can make up for eating that giant meal and 12 beers at the hotel bar with twenty minutes on a machine with a towel around his neck.  Then theres the serious runners hitting the treadmills for the same reason I am, the guy who is sort of lifting weights only he's resting about ten minutes between sets while not very discreetly staring at the fit looking woman on the treadmill.  Then there's me...   the weird guy with two bottles of gatorade and GU wrappers all over the floor around the treadmill whose made a giant puddle of sweat everywhere and doesn't seem to stop running.  Ever. 

All this gets me to mile ten.  At this point this switch goes off in my brain that says...  YOU MUST STARE AT THE DISPLAY!  I can't seem to help myself.  I can't help but stare that mileage display creeping every so slowly towards 14 miles.  Actually its creeping up to 7 miles as the stupid treadmills wont let you run longer than an hour.  So you have to stop and restart them at that point.  But I digress...    the last four miles were long, boring and dull.  The only thing that broke it up was that I accidentally swung my arm into the headphone cable going to my ipod which made my ipod land on the belt of the treadmill and go shooting ten feet across the gym floor.  Oops!  So I picked that back up and resumed my run.  Switched the tunes to some screaming loud Foo Fighters to give me a little pep and dialed up the speed to 7:30's to keep me motivated, interested, and get this stupid run over with!  Eventually the human hamster wheel relented and I'd made it to 14 miles.  Yay!  The end of a good workout always feels great, but the end of a long treadmill run feels fricking fantastic!  In fact its pretty spectacular.  I'd rank the sensation of watching the mileage indicator reach where your heading for up there with winning the lottery.  At least momentarily anyway.

So with that workout done I'm now back at work.  Today should be an easy day.  Mostly babysitting the lighting rig till the live broadcast tonight which will keep me busy till around midnight when I can collapse in bed again.  Tomorrow is an off day although I may try and swim if I'm feeling good.  The hotel pool isn't quite 25 yards, but it might be 20.  Could be worse.....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Playing Catch Up

Back on the road again...   this time in Raleigh, NC.  Today has been a pretty brutal day.  I'm exhausted.  It started out well though....

I got up at 5am and was at the hotel gym by 5:30.  My plan for today called for running six miles.  I decided I wanted to turn that into a speed workout.  Which although not the same on a treadmill is still challenging.  So my workout went like this....

Mile 0-.5 :9min/mile
Mile .5-1 : 8:30min/mile
Mile 1-2 : 8min/mile
Mile 2-3 : 7:30min/mile
Mile 3-4 : 7:00min/mile
Mile 4-5 : 6:30min/mile
Mile 5-6 : 6min/mile

And then a little cool down jog and I was done.  I like doing these sets where the speed gets faster and faster on a treadmill.  They occupy the mind nicely and make the workout go by quicker.  You almost start to want the miles to take longer so you don't have to speed up.  And of course anything you want to last longer goes by quicker.  So before you know it you are all done.

After that it was off on the hunt for coffee and then a quick shower and off to work.  Work today was brutal.  Have you ever been to a concert and seen all those trusses covered in lighting and scenery in the air?  Well in order to get those trusses in the air you use what are called "chain motors".  I have loads of those here at this gig in order to get all my trusses up in the air.  These motors use special power called "three phase power".   Venues like the one I'm in have special electricians on staff whose job it is to provide this power to me.  We (the show) had specified exactly what was supposed to be there by 9am this morning.  I won't bore you with the details but it wasn't ready at 9am.  It still wasn't ready at 11am.  In fact in the end I didn't have any power to raise the gear into the air till 12:55pm.  Which was exactly five minutes before the crew had to go to lunch.  Awesome.  So I didn't get anything in the air till 3pm.  I usually have stuff up in the air on this gig by Noon at the latest.  I've setup this same show over and over again in the last five years.  I know exactly how long it should take.  And not having power for 4 hours really screwed me.  So we had to spend the rest of the day cranking to make up for lost time.  In the end at the end of the day I caught up to pretty close to where I should be but it wasn't fun.  So it was not a fun day today at all.

On the plus side I did manage to get to a grocery store tonight so that I can make my own meals while I'm out here and dodge the fried catering treat du jour out here.  So that was good.  But on the negative side of things I was so hungry from skipping lunch today (I spent lunch frantically working while the crew was sent away to make up for lost time) that I ate an entire bag of granola and way too much food tonight.  Ugh.  Not good.  I really don't do well when I don't eat at regular intervals.  And tonight's binge is just the price I had to pay for not having something with me to eat for lunch today.  Ugh.  Its my own fault.  Food and hunger can get pretty roller-coaster-y for me if I'm not carefull and don't keep a small but steady of food coming in.  When I screw it up my body reacts with uncontrollable hunger and it sometimes gets the best of me.  Ooops.  At least I binge on healthy food typically.  And no I'm not proud of this...  I just share it because its part of the journey.

Next up...     one hour random hill workout on the hotel spin bike and then another long setup day.  Hopefully it will be a better day than today was!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away!

Seems like its done nothing but rain lately.  Sunday when I volunteered at the ETR Tri it rained on me as I stood out there on the run course.  Then it poured before we could get our long run on the FIRM 1/2 course in.  So I swapped my day off and my long run day.  Monday when I woke up it was pouring again, but we suffered through the long run.  Today I got out of bed at 445am to get ready for a 6am swim and it was still raining.  Joy!  But the only weather I won't swim in is when there's lightning and there were no signs of that so off I went to GVP to get a swim in.  I arrived at 545 which is when the tuesday/thursday group goes out for their swim.  In the end there were about 6-8 of us.  Not too many.  The skies were a very ominous dark grey and the sun was barely up yet.  Not that you could have seen it through the clouds anyway.  So it was pretty dark.  Of course the only goggles I have with me are tinted.  Awesome!  Once I put those on it was very hard to see anything.  Add in to this the fact the clouds are grey and colors start to all look the same so its hard to tell anything from anything once you are in the water.  But oh well, I was here to get a swim in.  Our plan was to do the 1.5 mile GVP swim.  It was pretty windy and raining out when we got in the water.  And then things got interesting!  GVP is a pond, albeit a rather large on.  Its almost always glassy smooth.  Its a very relaxing place to swim and a sharp contrast to swimming in the swells and chop of the ocean...   well at least normally it is.  Today however it might as well have been the ocean.  There was loads of wind driven chop.  I've never seen GVP like that before.  It made for a very challenging swim.  It felt like I was swimming against a current as I headed out and the chop was so bad that often you would go to breathe and get a little tiny wave crashing over your head instead that fills your mouth with water instead of air.  Lovely!  It was struggle to get out there.  Add to this fact that my goggles are tinted, that its grey and dark out and sighting was also a challenge.  I did ok, but at one point found myself going not exactly the right direction any more!

I was psyched to finally make it to the turn around point.  And even more psyched that when we turned around that the chop was not as bad.  I think since the wind was now at our backs it wasn't blowing the water into my face every breath quite as much.  In the end we did the 1.5 miles in 51 minutes.  Thats about three minutes slower than usual which tells you what the chop was like.  I was pretty happy to hit the beach today as the swim was pretty tiring.  But in the end it was a good swim and I felt strong.  I'm also pleased that now when I'm faced with challenges in the water I just suck it up and have at it.  It used to be a month or two ago that I would stop a lot more and get frustrated.  Now I just dig in and push through them.  Those ocean open water swims are really paying off.

After the swim I rushed home and checked the weather forecase as I also wanted to get a ride in today.  Rain, rain, and more rain.  Ugh.  I didn't have time to ride, and then clean my bike as I had to head right to the airport afterwards.  So I didn't want to take my road bike out, get it all dirty and wet, and then leave it like that without cleaning it.  I'm also lending my bike to another club member this week while I'm away as he's lent his road bike to another club member to use in a race this weekend.  I didn't want to hand the bike off covered in dirt and soaking wet.  So my riding partner for the day today and I decided if it was nasty out we would just take our mountain bikes out instead.  So that became the plan.

I have a decent mountain bike.  Nothing special.  But its pretty old.  Perhaps 8-10 years old.  Its been through a lot.  I bought it when I lived in Florida.  It was then promptly stolen when someone broke into my house down there.  Two months later the police recovered it and gave it back to me!  I rode it a fair amount in Florida and then pretty much shelved it.  Sometime a few years ago I had it tuned and cleaned up again and put road slick tires on it to make it more of a commuter bike but I hardly used it.  So I pulled it up from the basement and gave it a once over.  Checked everything out and tweaked the shifting.  Fortunatley I've been learning quite a bit about derailers and shifting and how to tune them so I did a nice job getting that all back up to snuff on the bike this morning and then headed out to meet Nancy to get our ride in.

We first rode towards Lincoln woods and did a couple of laps around the just under three mile loop of roads there.  That got boring in a hurry so we ventured out and ended up on the bike path out there and went for a nice long ride chatting away in the rain.  In the end we logged 27 miles.  The sad part is that took us two hours and twenty minutes!  Mountain bikes are slow!  And neither of us had clip in pedals on our mountain bikes.  That sensation was just plain weird!  What was even weirder was that neither of us have ridden our mountain bikes in ages so we kept getting the shifting wrong when climbing hills which was pretty entertaining.  The position on the bike felt all weird too.  The whole experience was strange at first, but once I adjusted it wasn't too bad.  In the end it was a nice ride despite every inch of my body being covered in road dirt and spray off the tires.

And then after the ride I rushed home, showerd, and headed off to drop off my road bike to my friend and then went right to the airport.  And now I'm sitting here in my hotel room in Raleigh, NC writing this.  Such is my crazy life.

Tomorrow I'll get up early and go for a six mile run around the streets of downtown and try not to get lost, and then its a long long setup day here on the show I'm working on.  Hopefully I'll get out early enough that I can hit the downtown supermarket and stock my hotel room with healthy things to eat for the week so I can dodge the fried meal du jour in catering all week.  yuck.

Next up....

Lots of working, and lots of trying to cram workouts in around it.

And fun things I'll be watching this weekend....

Lots of friends are racing this weekend so I'll do my best to keep an eye on whats going on.  Including a 100 mile relay race, the Cranberry Sprint and Olympic distance Triathlons, and a new friend of mine is racing in the Louisville Ironman distance event.  So psyched for her!  I hope she rocks it!  I can't wait to do my first full.  But first I need to get through my first half!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Yep...  in a word...   Yuck sums up my long run this morning.  I skipped my long run yesterday as the weather was atrocious in Narragansett, but there was no option to skip it today.  I woke up this morning to a weather forecast of rain, winds at 20-30mph, and cold.  Joy.  Fortunately for me I'd arranged to run the 13 miles this morning with Nancy.  Thank goodness for training partners.  Days like today are hard to get out the door without the pressure of knowing you have to meet someone at a certain time.

It rained through our entire run today.  I actually like running in the rain, but today I was not such a fan.  I was cold for most of the run today.  I wished I'd had another layer on.  The wind was not as bad as forecasted, but it was enough to blow the rain into your face and make the day that much more annoying.  Fortunately our run involved a few loops around Lincoln woods today and the trees provided quite a bit of shelter from the wind at least.  But it was still not fun.

I knew we were both suffering a bit around 7 miles in when we both just got really quiet and slogged our way through the rest of the run.  Right around mile 10 we were forced to run though a giant puddle which did a nice job of getting any remaining dry spots on my shoes and socks completely soaked.  At that point I just stopped avoiding puddles.  There was no point.

Finally we reached the end of the run.  We averaged 9'07s in the end and my legs seemed to have recovered well from the hard effort on Saturday so that was nice.  The extra day off on Sunday certainly didn't hurt either!  Days like today make a hot shower and a fresh pot of coffee feel spectacular.  In the end it was a good run and I'm very glad I got it in.  But in the middle of it I was just not enjoying myself today.  But as I always say...  its days like today that make you appreciate the good days even more.  Not every workout can be fabulous.  Ok...  time for me to start the chaos that is my life this week.  Way too much going on, a TON of work to do, and not enough time to do it in.  Thats ok though...   despite today's run I have an overwhelmingly positive sense of things to come.  I think some good things are on the horizon.  The more I think about the FIRM half the more I know I'm going to kicks its ass and have an AWESOME race.  When I did my first marathon I read up a lot on positive thinking and affirmations.  Essentially convincing yourself your going to have a great race by saying it out loud to yourself over and over again.  In that case it felt like work to do that, and I had to concentrate on telling myself that.  However in the case of the FIRM I just feel so well prepared and trained that I honestly truly believe what I'm telling myself.  I KNOW I'm going to have a great day.  No matter what happens its going to be a great day.  I can't wait.  The anticipation is killing me.  Three weeks to go.  I just might go insane once I get into the taper.  I might be a little unbearable in that time frame!  So heads up!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Great Weekend!

Sometimes living in Providence means I forget what a beautifull place Rhode Island is.  The above photo was taken at 6AM when I arrived in Narragansett on Saturday morning to get ready for my big day of training.  As well as all the obvious perks of getting involved in triathlon some of the ones you don't think about are all the additional time you get to spend outdoors in beautifull places.  I've seen more sunrises this year as I've ramped my training up than I have in the last 20 years combined.  Each one a gift and a reminder of how lucky I am to live in such a beautifull place.

I arrived in Narragansett on Saturday morning for a very big and important day of training for me.  This weekend marks the peak of the intensity of my training combined with distances I plan to cover.  Yesterday was the largest brick at highest planned pace for me.  I have been looking forward to it as well as planning for it in terms of nutrition and execution for quite some time.  My goal was to have this day be a test of my pre race plan, nutrition, pacing, and everything else involved in race day.  Here's how the day went.

I got to the beach at 6am and prepped my bike and run items and then locked them in the car and headed down to the beach to meet up with everyone.  In the end I think about six of us showed up for the swim.  Our plan was to swim for as long as we thought we could get away with and still be ready to leave for the ride at 7:30.  The ocean was just perfect for the swim.  Just a few small waves and gentle swells, perfect temperature for a wetsuit to feel super comfy but not hot, and gorgeous 65 degree temperature.  In the end we just swam laps between two buoys until about 7:05 and then swam into shore.  In the end we swam just under a mile at a nice relaxed pace.  From there we headed to the cars to grab our bikes.  I had inflated my tires and prepped all my nutrition so all I had to do was take my bike out of the car and put the bottles on it and I was ready to go.  However my front tire decided to flat while I was swimming.  So I frantically had to change the tube.  Of course its a brand new tire so it doesn't want to come off the rim, and the wheels are brand new carbon ones so I was super afraid or cracking them with the tire levers.  Eventually I was able to persuade the tire to come off and I was able to swap the tube out.  Of course now I have to get the tire back on.  At this point people are starting to line up and look ready.  Uh oh!  To cut a long story short after much effort I finally got the tire back on without hurting the wheel and was able to get it back on the bike and be ready with about a minute to spare.  I did of course manage to slice my thumb open and bleed everywhere in the process.

In the end there were about 18 of us on the ride which was fanatastic to have such a turnout for a training day.  We stayed together as a pack for the first five miles of the initial loop that heads through Narragansett to Route 1.  We got all kinds of looks as this parade of triathletes in spandex on tri bikes headed off down past the beach.  However as soon as we hit Route 1 all bets were off and the pack quickly split up where you think it would.  I stuck with my race plan and as much as I wanted to tear off with some of the faster boys to see if I could hang with them I let them go.  From what I heard afterwards the fast boys split into about 2 or 3 packs, then my group of three riders, and then a bunch of groups behind us.  Once we settled into Route 1 my group established itself as myself, Norrine, and Joe.  The three of us had a nice time leapfrogging each other.  We were all out for a serious effort so we avoided drafting and just kept pushing each other by leapfrogging and passing each other.  However we all weren't out to destroy ourselves so we kept the effort to a nice steady pace.

The first 15 miles were pretty uneventfull and then we took the turn into the KFR technical loop and it got a bit more interesting.  The KFR section is the only hilly, curvy part of the course that takes any real skill or bike handling to get through.  Its fairly technical in some spots, but the hills are all small.  Even the very steep one is also really short.  We stopped for a quick bathroom break once into KFR where I managed to instantly get bit by a mosquito which left a HUGE welt on my shoulder.  And then headed off again.  We wound our way through that section with a brief stop to decide whether the map was correct or not.  Turns out the map on the website isn't entirely accurate apparently.  We rode through the rest of the KFR section at a nice easy pace.  The hills are so short theres no need to rush up them as your only saving seconds and gaining pain on the run.  So I kept to my race plan to pace myself carefully through this section.  On the way out of KFR I felt a sharp pain as something went through a vent on my helmet and smacked me in the forehead.  Then I felt a REALLY sharp pain and fluttering and buzzing and frantically yelled out "STOPPING!" and pulled over, unclipped and frantically threw my helmet off and swatted at my head.  Yep...  I got stung by a bee that flew into my helmet.  It fricking hurt!  So I had the pleasure of feeling the discomfort of a bee sting for the rest of the day.  Awesome!

From there its due south on good ol boring route 1 to the turnaround.  At the tunaround I asked Joe and Norrine if they knew the course for the way back which they did and then told them my plan to really hammer the way back.  This was not their plan so I went all out on the way back which is a faster route than the way in.  I doubt I beat them back by much but we had established a pattern of waiting for each other at traffic lights or other obstacles we couldn't get around as a group and I didn't want to try and take off without telling them.  So I took off on my way back and did my very best to really pick it up.  I came upon Ben who is a duathlete and very fast cyclist on the road.  We started riding and chatting together.  Then it occured to me... how is it humanly possible I'm keeping up with Ben?  turns out today was a training ride for him at a more relaxed pace.  Its just his "relaxed pace" is my "race pace".  I had a pretty good chuckle about that one.  But the time we spent riding side by side and chatting as I was doing my best to hammer my way back was nice and helped make the time go by.

Speaking of time...    when I got stung by the bee I stopped my computer on my bike.  I then forgot to restart it till much later in the ride so I don't have accurate data on the entire ride.  In fact I know I rode the entire 56 mile course but I only recorded about 40 miles of it on my garmin.  Damn!  I hate when I do that.  But my average speed for the ride was 19mph which was right at my planned speed which was perfect.  I wanted to go hard on the bike, but not so hard as to not have a very strong run.

I pulled into Narragansett at the start point having consumed almost all three bottles of my water, all three gels, and one cliff bar.  Perfect!  I was right on target with my nutrition.  (more on that later).  I went through the car transition as fast as I could and headed out for the run.  As usual my nice and fast bike cadence (96 average on the ride) led to a fast run and I was headed out of transition running 7'20s.  My plan was to run 8 miles.  A challenging enough length to really see what pace I can expect to hold on race day, but not too long a brick to require too much recovery time.  In the end I averaged 7'30s for the 8 miler which I was very pleased about.  I felt really strong on the run.  Actually too strong I think.  I need to dial up my bike speed a notch as I think I was too conservative.  Perhaps if I just pick up my pace on the earlier flats on the course that will cover it.  So that will be my plan on my next ride of the course.  I think I can manage a 19.5mph-20mph average without hurting my run.  So we'll see.  Hopefully the taper will add some speed back into my legs too. 

When I finished my run there was a good sized pack of Tri-NE'rs sitting on the wall near the cars.  Most of the faster folks were there as were others that didn't do the run, ran 3-6 miles, or people training for the aqua-bike.  We hung out there for a bit refueled a bit and then headed off.  A few of us ended up spending a little time together afterwards and I got a chance to chat nutrition with many of them.  After that conversation, as well as another conversation I had today with an experienced triathlete I've decided that I'm too worried about calories, and the amount of calories that I need based on what OTHER people need, and not on my own needs.  I've been training with an intake of 250 calories per hour with good results.  Somehow last week I decided that wasn't enough and added the cliff bar into my routine to try and up my calories/hour quickly.  Turns out that was a bad idea.  Its not a productive source of quick to burn fuel, and solid food is a bad idea, and the only reason I added it in was because I read and think too much.  I know that 250 calories/hour is plenty for me.  I'm only 138lbs.  I don't need a ton of calories to keep going.  So I'm going to dial it back to 250 with some extra GUs on board should I feel the need for more and we'll see what happens on my next ride.  I suspect I'll feel great like I usually do.  So my current nutrition plan is now...

1 bottle gatorade 150 calories sipped over entire prep time
3 Bottles of Gatorade Endurance 150 Calories
3 GUs 100 calories
(I'll have two more GUs with me and will consume if needed/wanted)
I will take on additional water at aid stations if needed.
40oz of Gatorade in fuel belt
2 GUs in fuel belt
Water at aid stations

So thats the plan.  Plenty of calories.  I just started to overthink things there.  So thanks to all of those that were willing to listen and help me figure it all out.  Much appreciated.

I was really really pleased with how yesterday went.  That was a fantastic workout.  I felt tired, but yet energized at the same time afterwards.  I had more energy left and I could have run another five miles if I had to.  That brick left me feeling really confident that I know I can do this and that I'm really going to rock this thing.  I've got a shot at sub 5:30 even with a good day, but I need to put that out of my mind and just focus on having a solid race and ignore my time till I'm halfway through the run.  Then I'll be allowed to start thinking about it.  Until then I need to just execute what I know I've done in training.

After all that and then spending some time with a close friend of mine last night catching up I finally managed to get to bed around 10pm exhausted after getting up at 4am.


and then I got right back up at 4am to head back down to Narragansett again....

This morning I met up with Kevan and Kate and we headed down to the "Embrace the Race" all women's triathlon in Narragansett.  Kate was racing and Kevan and I along with many members of my tri club were volunteering and then planning on running the 13 mile FIRM course afterwards.

I ended up directing traffic along the run route.  I had a good time cheering on the Tri-NE'rs as they ran by in their easy to spot club tri tops as well as generally encouraging everyone.  Lots of beginners were out today for their first triathlon in this very short sprint.  (1/8? 1/4? mile swim, 9 mile bike, 3 mile run).  I had a good chuckle at some of the things I saw on the course today along the way.  Backwards bike helmets, bikes with big flowered baskets on the front and all sorts of other silliness.  But congrats to all who raced, especially the first timers!  I'm happy to say I know at least three club members who placed in their age groups/categories.  So congrats to Michelle, Leslie, and Kate!  Nice work and way to do the team proud!  It was also great to see so many other club members (I counted at least 7 of us) out there volunteering and supporting the local tris.

As I was standing there out on the run course it of course decides to start raining.  Which I was not prepared for.  So theres me standing there in my pink cotton volunteer tshirt directing traffic and shivering in the cold rain.  Not fun!  Eventually the last runner passed me and I was able to walk back to the finish area.  Once we got there the rain started to pick up.  We checked the weather radar and thunderstorms looked like they might be on the way as well.  So we as a group decided to go to breakfast instead of run.  We also invited all of the other club members and family members to join us.  In the end I think there were about 20 of us!  So we all headed out for a great big breakfast.  In the end that was the best idea as it started to absolutely downpour.  I love to run in the rain, but that would not have been fun!

So in the end I did not get my long run in today.  I was going to do it later this afternoon but then I got an offer to run it tomorrow morning with a friend of mine instead so I'm going to take today as my off day instead and do the run tomorrow. 

Next up....

Long run tomorrow, swim and bike on Tuesday and then its off to North Carolina for a week for work for my last trip between now and the FIRM half.  I get back on Monday night so I'm going to juggle my schedule a bit to look like this...

Monday Long Run
Tuesday Swim / 2 Hour Bike w/ Intervals, fly to NC
Wed Run Fartlek 6 miler
Thursday Bike 1 Hour in hotel gym, simulated hill workout
Friday Pool Swim
Saturday Yoga or Off as this is a brutally long workday for me with little free time
Sunday Run 14 Miles
Monday off / fly home (not thrilled about a day off here, but don't have much choice)
Tuesday Bike Firm Course at Race Pace (last hard effort on course) / Run 3
And then my taper officially begins...   I'm almost there!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dale Gets New Shoes!

I happened to notice that Providence Bicycle had a 15% off sale on in stock wheelsets.  I've been hoping to get a set before the season ends so that I won't have to buy those AND a new tri bike next year.  I figure the more things I buy this year the less I have to buy next year.  Plus they were ON SALE!  So really instead of spending money today I SAVED money.  Hmmm....    I never beleived that when anyone said that to me either.

Point is...   Dale Got New Shoes!  They are such a good match that they look stock.  It looks HOT!  If its as fast as it looks its going to be awesome.  I spent a long time talking with Sean about options and I decided the SRAM's were a nice compromise.  A lighter, deeper, more aero wheel than I have now, without having to drop 2-3grand on a set of zipps.  In the end I also went with a different cassette than what I have now.  I went with an 12-28 instead of the 12-25 so my granny gear has gotten a little easier which will let me have a higher cadence on the hills which is where I like to be pedalling wise so it will feel more natural to me.  I also went with the SRAM Red cassette as between that and the wheelset I shaved about a 1/2 pound off my bike today.  More importantly though I'll be more aero.  Which is a good thing.  And while I was there I also got some bar tape for my aerobars.  As I was getting sweaty and the carbon surface was getting really slippery on long rides.

Big Day Tomorrow....

Today is going to be a busy day, but really my thoughts are focused on tomorrow morning.  More on that in a second.

I started this morning however with a GVP swim.  I just did the dock swim and back.  My arms felt kind of sore in the beginning and my sighting was not spectacular on the way back in today.  It definitely could have been a lot better.  Actually I don't think my sighting was the problem it was my lack of sighting.  I just need to sight more often there than I do.  But other than that it was a pretty uneventfull swim other than it was a slightly different group of Tri-NE folks than I usually swim with so that was nice to see some new faces and meet some new people.

Now I'm back at home and thinking ahead to tomorrow.  Tomorrow is going to be an AWESOME day of training and I'm very excited for it.  Tomorrow is the big race day simulation workout for me.  So yesterday I carb loaded with a high calorie day of quality food as per my usual routine.  Today I'll be on a strict diet of bagels and peanut butter, and some balance bars and no food after 6pm.  Tomorrow morning I'll get up at 4:15am in order to shower and get ready and eat breakfast and get out the door by 5:15.  Which will get me to Narragansett at 6AM which will give me time to prep my bike and my run gear for the transitions.  Then were in the ocean at 6:30 for the swim where I'd like to log a 1.2 mile swim and then back to the car to get on the bike and head out with the group.  Or maybe slightly before the group.  Tomorrow is a race simulation which means no drafting and no pacelines.  At last count I think at least 12 of us from my tri club are doing the ride tomorrow.  So I need to be sure and find my own piece of road.  I think I'm faster than some and slower that some so hopefully I'll either get a nice clean piece of road in the middle somewhere or I'll head out just a tiny bit early and let the faster guys pass me and then I'll be on my own.  I'm sure it will all work out.  What I don't want to happen is to have someone end up in front of me who then gets all aggressive after I pass them and then passes me back and slows down again.  I'm there to train, not play silly ego games.  Which applies to me too, so mentally I have be strong tomorrow.  I'm there to execute my own race and nutrition plan, everything else is a distraction I need to avoid. (which isn't to say I'm not looking forward to seeing everyone, just that I'm there to do my thing and get my training in and tomorrow is an important training day for me).

On the bike my plan is to pretty closely follow the advice of my friend Nancy as I think it makes a TON of sense.  The first five miles on the bike are about warming up and starting my nutrition plan.  Miles 5-15 I'll find a nice steady pace but not push it too much mostly focusing on solid foods and hydrating.  Miles 16-30 are the KFR loop where I'll have to focus on the more technical part of the course with the small hills and descents and winding roads.  Continueing to fuel will be somewhat challenging here but I need to stay on top of it.  I want to ride a nice relaxing pace on the hills here.  None of them are that long at all so hammering up any of them is going to buy me very very little time.  So theres no point.  I'll be stronger if I relax going up them and use them as a rest in a way. 

Once on my way out of the KFR loop its time to put the hammer down.  Miles 30-56 will be an all out effort on almost entirely flat or slightly descending roads.  So I'll do my best to really hammer it.  My goal for the bike course is sub three hours.  I rode it in a relaxed fashion last week in 3:10 so I think 2:50-2:55 is possible.  We'll see.  The point of today's ride is to find out realistically what I can expect to ride on race day if all goes well.  That way I'll have an exact pacing plan for the race.

Off the bike my plan is to run six miles although I hear some guys are doing 8 and if I happen to catch them in transition I'll join them for the 8.  Pacing wise I'm going to let my legs dictate what happens.  I suspect it will be my usual brick pace on flat roads.  Which is that off the bike I'll be running 7'30s as the high bike cadence that I prefer leads to a high run cadence.  Over the course of three miles this will slow down to my usual long run pace of 8'30s and I hope to keep it there.  However if things go sideways or I don't feel strong I will allow myself to go all the way down to 9'30s if need be.  And if I go slower than that then I need to reevaluate my bike pacing plan as I've clearly made a mistake.  I plan on RUNNING the 13 miles after the bike. 

So thats my plan.  I'm looking forward to it.  Should be a great day tommorrow and looks like we are going to have PERFECT weather for it.  Temperature range of 60-75 degrees throughout the morning with a max wind speed of 7mph and "mostly sunny".  You can't ask for much better than that!  Now I just need to figure out what to wear.  At 60 degrees I'll be cold on the bike.  Last week I wore arm warmers and a bike jersey but I can't do that in the race.  Those arm warmers are hard enough to get on when your dry.  Wet they would be a nightmare.  In the race my plan was to wear a tri top and shorts but I'm a little concerned with how cold that might be tomorrow.  I may have to suck it up and see what happens.  I need to think on that one a little more.  Maybe I just need to pedal harder to warm up!  This morning coming out of the water at GVP I was cold when I was wet and it was 60 degrees out.  I think realistically my plan needs to just be cold and suck it up.  But I'll ask around tomorrow and see what others have worn at the FIRM or other races when its cooler out. 

Now I need to focus on work for the day and I'll spend tonight prepping for tomorrow.  Here's hoping I'll have a great day tomorrow!  I'm sure I will.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Morning Ride and 1/2 Iron Nutrition Plan

This morning I went out for a loosely planned two hour ride with some interval work in it.  In the end it went a little differently than that but close enough to plan to make me happy.  I set out from my house and weaved my way through downtown and over the bridge to the East Bay bike path.  That ride is pretty traffic intensive so its more of a 4 mile warmup than anything else.  Theres too many cars, intersections and potholes to get in the aero position for that first bit.  Once on the bike path however I was able to dial up the speed and get in the aerobars.  I started my ride around 6:15am or so purposely so there wouldn't be a lot of traffic on the bike path to deal with.  My original plan called for intervals but once I got there I was more in the mood for a long hard effort instead.  So I just did nice long stretches of hard efforts between intersections and traffic lights etc.  So there were several 1-3 mile long periods of hard efforts in there, an intersection, and then another one, etc...etc....  In the end I rode the whole length of the path from Providence to Bristol and then turned around for a total of about 36 miles.  On the way back I passed a slighltly older gentleman on a road bike.  I said "on your left" and "good morning" as I'm want to do and thought nothing of it.  It wasn't until an intersection where I slowed down that I realized the sneaky weasel had grabbed my wheel and I was pulling him along.  I HATE when people do that without asking or at the very least letting me know they are there.  What if I decide to stop suddenly for some reason?  If some random guy screws up my bike or my body because he goes ramming into the back of me I'm going to be really angry.  But as always I'm too nice to say anything so I made my opinion known another way.  I knew we had a nice long stretch of road ahead so I dialed up the intensity as soon as I'd crossed the road and really hammered away till I dropped him!  HA!  Serves him right. Cheeky monkey!

So the subject of 1/2 iron nutrition has been up for discussion on my tri club's web discussion board this week which is great as its a subject I'm interested in hearing about.  Another club member asked me what my plan was and since I took the time to type it out I thought it was worth reposting here.  So here's my nutrition plan for the 1/2.


Let me start by saying this is my first half, and my first season doing triathlons, so my nutrition routine is from me reading anything I can get my hands on, asking lots of questions (thanks everyone!), and trying lots of different things in training. Its also a modified version of what I know has worked well for me running marathons. For reference I'm 5'7", and 138lbs. So far the only part I haven't dialed in entirely is the solid food. The Cliff bar is something I'm working on adding in as I'm concerned I don't quite have enough calories on the bike.

My plan for the 1/2 is:

Eat 400 Calorie Breakfast (2x balance bars)
Sip 20oz of Gatorade throughout morning before start

Try to get one Cliff Shot Chocolate Gel down before the swim, but generally my stomach gets all wobbly before the start so I won't push my luck with this one.


Attempt NOT to consume 2 gallons of salt water.

On the Bike:

-Cliff Bar Peanut Butter Flavor - in small pieces consumed over the first two hours (250 Calories)
-3 24oz Bottles of Gatorade Perform Endurance (150 Calories Each)
-4 Cliff Shot Chocolate Gels (100 Calories each) (I will definitely get three of these down, the 4th is a maybe)

On the Run:

-Fuel Belt with 40oz of Gatorade (about 250 Calories) and 2 Gels.
I'll be surprised if I get the second gel down. After mile six assuming I'm feeling good I can pretty much stuff whatever I find on the course in my mouth. So chocolate or anything else is free game.

My realistic plan totals are: (not including any "maybe" items)

Bike: Hopefully around 3 hours or less

1000 Calories (333 / hour)
2060mg Sodium
1040mg Potassium

Run: Hopefully around 2 hours or less
350 Calories (about 2/3 of which consumed in first hour)
1000mg Sodium
500mg Potassium


So far I've tried all of this in training.  However the Cliff Bar is new and I tried that today for the first time with good results.  So I'm confident it will all be ok.  This weekend will be a real hard effort brick so it will be the true test of my nutrition plan under pretty close to race conditions.  So hopefully it goes well.  Ideally a few more calories would be a good idea but this is the most I'm going to be able to get down. 
Each week I get closer to this race I get more excited.  I can barely stand it.  Call me weird or laugh at me, but I lay in bed trying to fall asleep thinking about this race.  And I get so excited about it that I can't sleep anymore.  Something about endurance challenges just makes me feel like I've found my calling, and that this is something I was meant to do.  Corny...   but true.  I'm also a big believer in positive affirmations and statements.  And saying and thinking goofy things like "I was born to race this distance!" builds confidence.  Right now I feel like a million bucks.  I'm so going to kick this races ass.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Open Water Goodness!

Today is Wednesday which of course means its time for an open water ocean swim in Narragansett.  I've been trying to get in the ocean at least once a week to swim in a variety of conditions so there will be no surprises at the FIRM.  Today Luis, Kevan and I headed down to join the OWS swim group that swims at Roger Wheeler on wednesday evenings.  There were probably about 25 or so people there.  Its kind of fun when you walk down to the beach and theres all those people putting wetsuits on and getting suited up.  I love that I'm a part of that.

Last week conditions were very odd with the current giving us a fast swim down to the turnaround buoy and a brutal fight to swim back.  Kevan and I (at my request) gave up last week and headed in after 1.5 miles as I was exhausted at that point and wanted to get out of the water.  This week I was determined to complete the entire length of the swim loop.  We were greeted with what looked like flat calm conditions but once out in the ocean there were some gentle small swells.  Nothing too challenging though at all and it was a really enjoyable swim.  We made it out to the turnaround buoy without too much trouble and I was really happy when we turned around to head back to realize we weren't fighting the same current we had last time.  In fact the swim back was really enjoyable.  Kevan and I swam the way out together making sure to stay nearby each other but on the way back we sort of went with an everyman for himself approach and it was nice not to stop at all and just keep swimming.

I'm very pleased to say that I set a new longest swim distance for myself tonight!  I swam the entire course which worked out to be 1.63 miles.  Nice!  And I felt like I could have kept going as I kept a nice relaxed pace the entire time.  Part of me wanted to go for 2 miles today but part of me was also ready to be done.  I do feel a two miler in my near future though.  I'd love to get to 2.4 miles in open water before the season is over just once just to try it.

Below is the GPS image from my garmin.  I'm surprised I swam such a tight line.  Apparently I managed to sight well and keep to the buoys.  There were a few times though when I got a bit lost and drifted off the buoy line once or twice.  Some of the buoys are pretty far apart so its hard to sight the next one.  You just sort of have to swim on faith and hope you find it once you get closer.  I felt like I swam a worse line than this but its nice to see that my out and back are pretty close to each other.

Definitely a good solid swim today and another boost of confidence that I'll be fine in the FIRM swim.  In fact I'm looking forward to that swim.  Good day today!

Next up....

Tomorrow will be a two hour ride with a bunch of intervals thrown in.  I'll leave from my house and go through providence hit the bike path REALLY early for the intervals.  So hopefully I'll have it mostly to myself.  Its also a nice and flat course just like the FIRM so it will be a good simulation.  I'm really excited about this weekends hard effort brick coming up.  Its going to be a great test of where I'm at fitness wise.  I really hope I can get my average up on the course to 19's.  We'll see what happens....   I can't wait!

"Rest Day" in the Windy City and What Lays Ahead...

I spent a very long day yesterday in Chicago visting venues and meeting with various equipment suppliers, and people who work at the various venues.  Most of my day was spent here:
This is one of the many many hallways of the McCormick Center in Chicago.  Which is a MASSIVE complex of convention and exhibit space.  Which is what you need if you have to have sessions of 15,000 people in one room.  This photo is just one hallway / atrium of many that we walked through.  Theoretically yesterday was supposed to be an offday for me but I swear we walked for miles yesterday.  The event I'm working on uses venues on opposite corners of this massive multi building complex so we often spent 15 minutes walking from one room to another.  Definitely made for a long day.  By the end of it I was exhausted.  Not to mention mentally the day is rather exhausting.  I'm responsible for designing the lighing and scenery for two of the 10-15,000 person function rooms as well as assisting in some design and coordination of four other spaces as well.  All of which we visited.  When you put a producer, production manager, technical direction, and video director in with a scenic and lighting designer everyone wants to make their opinions and ideas known and it makes for a mentally draining day.  Especially when it was my first real day on the project and people are asking me things like "What are you thinking of doing in this room?".  Nothing like being put on the spot.  I have some rough ideas, but its going to be a long process to get this show done and I'm only at the beginning.

Speaking of work...   I've been enjoying a bit of a slower period work at home and work travel wise lately which is how I've been pulling off my increase in training without too much trouble.  However all that is about to end.  The rest of my year is going to go something like this....

August...   continued 1/2 Iron training, a one week trip to Raleigh, NC for work, and beginning to work on USGBC which is the November show I went to meet about in Chicago.

September....   no work travel, 100% of my daytime will be spent working on USGBC, and I'll be racing my butt off all month with the FIRM 1/2 on the 12th, the TDD on the 18th, and the AMICA 19.7 on the 25th.

And then the real craziness begins....

October...  4 work trips!  4 days in NYC, then a week in DC that ends with me flying straight into two weeks in LA.  Then I go home for a few days and then...

November...  a week in Dallas, then home for one day and then 10 days in Chicago.  And then finally my work travel season for the year is done.

That October-November stretch is going to HURT!  Not much time at home at all and a whole bunch of work stuff to juggle with the biggest show at the end of it all.  Somewhere in there I have to find time to train.  I suspect I'll switch to more of a run focus once the travel really kicks up and hope to be able to gear up to a marathon in early January.  But we'll see.  And of course once I'm back home in late November I need to get my ass in the pool and leave it there till I grow gills.

So its going to get ugly pretty soon....  so for now I need to remember to savor every moment spent training with good friends outdoors, enjoy my time swimming in the ocean before it gets too cold and really enjoy every single part of my first 70.3.  Sigh.  If only I could get paid to be a professional middle of the pack triathlete!  Oh well..   time for me to get to work!

Next up....

Ocean swim tonight in Narragansett, On the bike tomorrow morning for a bit, Swim Friday, and then an intense weekend of training on the FIRM course including a 56/6 brick on Saturday and the complete 13 miles of the run course on Sunday.  Should be a great weekend of training.  Maybe even hit the beach for a bit after the run for a cool down swim and some beach time!

Monday, August 16, 2010

FIRM Course Preview / Off to the Windy City

Hello from Chicago.  I'm happy to say I have finally arrived to my hotel here in the windy city.  Miraculously I am not dead.  That was one of the most turbulent flights I have been on a in long time and I fly A LOT.  So when I say it was bad, it was BAD.  White knuckle the armrest BAD.  This was followed by an 85mph (yes 85) cab ride through busy city traffic to my hotel.  I wasn't sure if the cabbie's driving was going to kill me or his overpowering unpleasant scent.  But finally I have arrived safely at my rather quirky hotel.  I'm staying at the Tremont in the heart of downtown Chicago just a block or two from the fabulous lake shore drive which is fantastic to run on in the summertime.  But sadly there will be no running on lake shore drive for me.  I don't even have a pair of shorts or sneakers with me.  I'm just here for some meetings and I'm breezing in and out of town.  And after a busy week of training last week tomorrow is a day off.  But before I get into that lets backtrack a bit first.  But before I do that...  here's a shot of my awesome bay window in my hotel room overlooking the streets of downtown and a large church where I'm typing this from.

So Saturday was the sprint tri.  As I've mentioned before the sprints were really training races to help me get ready for the FIRM 1/2 which is my "A" race of the season or the race that all my efforts in training have been focused on.  Its the one I care about the most and the one I'm looking forward to the most.  After all as much as I get excited about coming close to placing in a sprint tri really what I'm after as far as triathlons go is the journey towards completing a full ironman.  And the FIRM is a big step in that direction.  I'm looking at the FIRM as a learning experience.  I want to do it at the end of this season so I can guage what that effort is like.  What its like to race for long a period of time, what its like to have to concentrate on nutrition and fuel so much more and how I'll feel at different parts of the race.  Its an experiment to help guage what I should work on most in the offseason.  Next season my hope (if my schedule cooperates) is to do the Patriot Half, the Amica 1/2, and the FIRM 1/2 again.  And if next season goes well then my third season of tri's will climax with a full ironman length race.

I'm digressing again......

Point of this post is to talk about Sunday's ride of the FIRM course.  So after racing on Saturday my plan for sunday was to do a somewhat easy ride of the FIRM bike course.  Despite some initial interest from others I ended up doing the ride by myself.  So I started it nice and early so that there wouldn't be too much traffic on route 1 where a majority of the course is.  So I headed out from Narragansett not long after sunrise.  I couldn't resist riding past the beach to get a quick picture first though.

With that done it was time to head off on my ride.  I wasn't really sure what to expect from my legs today.  I've only done two sprints so recovering from one is a new experience.  Oddly I recover faster from them than I do from a stand alone 5K.  So I actually felt pretty good, but my legs were a tiny bit tired.  So I was pretty carefull with my pace initially.  The main goal of the day was course recon and time in the saddle to get my long ride in.  The first 15 or so miles of the course are pretty dull.  Nothing challening except for one minor hill in the beginning.  Otherwise its pretty flat or made up of a very slight ascents and descents.  And I do mean slight.  Somewhere after the 15 mile mark I made my first navigation mistake as I missed the Kings Factory Road exit and had to double back for it.  Oops!  The KFR section of the course is a lollypop shaped course that is a detour into some more technical riding.  Some climbs, some descents, some windy bits of road.  Stuff to keep your mind occupied.  That one is going to take some practice to figure out the best approach in gearing.  It changes often from quick steep climbs to descents.  So I was in and out of the big ring and all over the place in the rear gear wise.  With practice I think I can reduce some of the shifting to keep it a bit smoother.  Part of my navigational problems were that I had a written sort of turn by turn set of directions from the FIRM website as well as a downloaded version of the map my ride map in my garmin 310 that also came from the FIRM site.  The written directions said go clockwise around the lollypop, and the garmin said to go counterclockwise.  I went with the written section.  I need to post to the TRI NE boards and clear up the route and make sure I got it right.  So as I was deciding which was the right way to go I rode around that section a little bit more the wrong way and then changed my mind and doubled back which added some more miles to my ride.  That section of the course was fun and interesting...  and then it was back to route 1 again.  Joy.

Route 1 goes all the way into Westerly.  Theres a huge wide shoulder which is nice, the problems are the frequent exits off the highway you have to cross.  The cars are going 50+ so you have to hope that they will all use turn signals, make sure noone is exiting and then cross the exit ramp path to keep riding.  Its a bit nerve wracking at times.  Some of the exits have this nasty concrete chatter strip that you don't want to ride over so you have to ride right on the edge of the travel lane of the highway very close to the cars.  Not something I enjoyed.  I feel pretty safe riding in traffic in the city so its not bike handling or fear of cars... but cars going 50 that close to me makes me edgy!

In westerly I struggled to figure out where the turn around point is.  The written instructions mention a big intersection that I never found, the map shows the route turning onto route 1a which didn't make sense to me so I think I went too far on route 1.  So I turned around and headed back.  From here almost all the way back its pretty much route 1 the whole way except for an AWFUL stretch of road you detour onto at the Camp Fuller exit that is just a nasty piece of road.  I gave up on staying in the aerobars as it was too bumpy and there was too much traffic to stay wide of all the nastiness on the side of the road.  I hit one bump so hard my left aerobar pad rotated too low and then wouldn't come back up.  I could have stopped and fixed it but instead I just dealt with it and kept riding as if I was in the race.  Once back on route 1 the rest of the route was uneventfull.  It did feel like the way back is nice and fast with some nice long slow subtle descents you can really hammer through.  Then you wind through Narragansett a bit including a fun brief descent where you get to play dodge the sewer grates at high speed and then your back to the transition area. 

In the end I rode 61 miles due to my mistakes or me trying to figure out the route.  I'll get that cleared up before riding it again on Saturday though.  My average speed was 17.5 mph.  Which is slow, but I was tired and took my time warming up.  I rode the way back pretty hard, but the way out I took pretty easy.  So I know I can do better than this.  My plan is to ride Saturday all out as hard as I can and see what happens and do my best to figure out my race pace.

Here's a shot of me smiling at the beach after finishing the ride....

So that was Sunday.  This morning (monday) I was back up at 445am and in the water at GVP at 6am for a swim.  I made a last minute decision to swim with Cass and a friend of hers.  This particular friend was a little bit timid in the water (perhaps a beginner in open water?) so since I was crashing their swim party I suggested that we just do repeats out to the .2 mile buoy and back so we all stayed close together.  So thats what we did.  The three of us did two repeats out to the buoy for a total of .8 miles.  Which was fine as my arms were tired so that was plenty for me.  Then after a brief water bottle shower and quick change I was on my way to Nancy's house to meet up for a run.  Being that its the day after my long ride its time for a long run on tired legs.  So Nancy and I went for a nice 13 mile run in the humid rainy drizzle.  We were both feeling like our legs were pretty toasty as we had both done long rides the day before.  So we suffered through the run.  Fortunately the conversation was a pleasant distraction so the miles passed quickly.  The last mile however was brutal.  It felt like it was never going to end.  We averaged 9:15's for the run which was fine.  Thats all I had in me.  I was beat from all the training last week, then the race, then the long ride, and now the long run.  I also had a stomach full of General Tso's Tofu from the night before that causing me a lot of grief on the run.  So I was glad when it was finally over.  I wish my stomach was a little stronger.  I always have to pay for anything remotely bad I eat.  Or maybe thats a good thing!

Finished the run, rushed home to shower and then it was off to the aiport to fly here to Chicago.  Of course I'm staying within a block of Lake Shore Drive where I love to run and can't and shouldn't run.  So its a good thing I didn't bring anything with me as I REALLY need to take tomorrow off to recharge and start another strong week of training that will end with a great strong big weekend of training including riding the course on Saturday with a brick run afterwards, and then volunteering at the ETR tri on Sunday morning followed by running the 13 mile FIRM course afterwards.  So it should be a fun weekend of training.

Next up for me is a long long day of meetings here in Chicago tomorrow that ends with an 8pm flight home and gets me home around midnight.  Joy.

Fortunately the only training I'm doing on Wednesday is the ocean swim in Narragansett in the evening so I'll have time to rest before that.

Right...  time for me to get my things organized and go to bed.  I'm exhausted!