Monday, October 25, 2010

Updates from Cali

I'm still here in LA, but fortunately not for too much longer!  I'm happy to say I head home on thursday morning after 17 straight days on the road.  I am very much ready to get home and back to the girl.  Good things have been happening training wise out here though which I'm very happy to report.  My last update was on Friday when I did the big outdoor brick.  My original plan was that I would take Saturday off as my rest day and then run long on Sunday.  Life on the road means shuffling my big workouts around to fit wherever they can and then getting the smaller ones in around everything else.  In this case I had sunday morning off so I figured I'd do my 14 mile run then in the daylight when it would be a lot more fun and scenic.  I can certainly run at 5am but running 14 miles in the dark around the lit up hotel property is not much fun.  So that was my original plan...   but you know what they say about plans.....

So saturday morning some things happened at the show that necessitated a change of plans.  So I lost my sunday morning off and a big hole appeared in my schedule for Saturday afternoon.  So it suddenly became apparent that if I wanted to run long in the daylight hours I had to do it saturday afternoon.  This was not ideal as I had a pretty hard swim/bike/run workout the day before thinking I had saturday off to recover.  Especially with my hamstring acting up.  But I really wanted to get that 14 mile run and see how my leg/foot would handle it.  So I decided I was going to have to run long on Saturday on no rest.

So saturday afternoon I headed out from my hotel villa and pointed myself north along the pacific coast.  My plan was to run seven miles north, turn around and run 7 back.  As long as the ocean was on my left on the way out and right on the way back I figured I couldn't get lost.  Let me first say that the weather was PERFECT.  60-70 degrees with a fantastic cool ocean breeze coming over the cliffs.  So that part of the run was great.  What was not great were two things....   1.  I felt tired right from mile 1 and my pace showed it.  I averaged 9:15s which was a definite sign of running on tired legs.  2.  LA is damn hilly!!!!  More on that in a sec.

So I headed north out from the hotel and out along the coast.  Running out here is really beautifull and the views are just spectacular.  However its really really hilly out here!  I don't remember any long flat stretches.  I was pretty much either climbing or descending the entire run.  Somewhere around mile 5 I started descending.  And I just kept going down, and down, and down...  for two miles!  Holy crap I was going to have to climb back up this!  So when I finally descended to the 7 mile turnaround point I was faced with a two mile climb.  It was brutal!  I was down to a 10:30 pace for those two miles and it was just a one foot in front of the other battle up the climb until it was over.  On the plus side though as tired as my legs felt my hamstring felt ok for the most part.  It didn't feel 100% but it felt pretty damn good so that was great.  My foot did ok too.  Still feels like I can't push off quite as hard off my right foot but it wasn't too bad this time.  So hopefully things are getting stronger?  We'll see.....

So the people I work with on the road know that I'm a triathlete and distance runner.  They know I love crazy long workouts... but they don't really get it.   Every now and then though something funny happens and I think they get a glimpse of what I do...    As I headed out for my run I ran past one of my bosses on this show.  I waved and kept running.  Just over two hours later I ran past him again.  He looked stunned, and he yelled "have you been running this whole time!?"   And I said YEP! and kept going.  I thought it was pretty funny.  The look on his face was priceless.

So that was Saturday afternoon.  After my long run I then had to go back to work until pretty late, got 5 hours sleep and then went right back to work on Sunday morning for what would be a crazy, crazy day.  The lack of sleep combined with two hard days of workouts and work back to back meant I was pretty tired all day long.  But I fought through it...    what made it even harder though was that some unexpected rain pushed some outdoor event we had just finished setting up for indoors so we had a mad scramble to get everything moved indoors and setup again.  It was pretty exhausting...   more so as I was so tired from the run.  So yesterday was an exhausting day!  I definitely slept well after that one.

So this morning I woke up at 530am when my alarm went off with the intention of going for a swim before work...  but my body said NO so I went back to sleep until I had to go to work at 830am.  Fortunately I did have a time window this afternoon so I headed to the pool around 1 to go for a swim.  Once again I had the whole pool to myself which was great.  So I proceeded to start my workout.  I did 2500 yards total which was made up of 20x50 yard repeats with a focus on a different stroke element each 50.  Some on legs and kicking, some on head position, some on arms and reach.  Once I got through those I did 10x100's and then ended with a 500yd set.  That made up a full hour of swimming and I was pretty beat afterwards, but I was pleased with how it went for the most part.  Some laps were definitely better than others.  Really though I think what I'm learning is I need to get focused with my swim coaching if I'm going to improve.  So hopefully the girl and I can get together for another lesson soon around my crazy travel schedule. 

Now its evening and I'm back at work.  The next few days are going to be brutal!  I'll get in a run tomorrow during the day but then I have to work from 4pm-3am.  Thats going to hurt!  And then I'll go right back to work around 11am till 3pm or so, take another nap, and then back at 10pm-midnight or so, and then a 4 hour nap, and then headed to the airport to fly home on wednesday morning...    not going to be fun!  But it will all be worth it when I get off that plane in Providence.  I can't wait to get home and see the girl.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fabulous Outdoor Training Day

I travel a lot with work.  Often times when people who don't travel for work hear this they say things like "Oh! That must be exciting!" and "do you get to go to great restaurants a lot?", "you must get to sightsee a lot!" and all sorts of other exciting and glamours ideas people have about travel.  I have those ideas too...  but they are centered around vacations.  When I travel for work I see an airport, some form of transport from airport to hotel (this is the only sightseeing I do) and then I see the hotel and the venue.  Often the hotel and the venue are attached to each other which means that quite often when I go on a trip the only time I see the outdoors is when I go to and from the airport.  Twenty hour days are not unheard of and 12-18 hour days are extremely common.  When we travel we work our asses off in my industry from the moment we wake up till when we go to sleep.  When we have a few rare bits of time off in the evening we often spend them in search of a great meal close to the hotel or more often than not sitting in our hotel room staring at a laptop working on paperwork for the next show.  That is life on the road.  There are of course some perks.  Frequent flyer miles and hotel points mean my hotel and airfare on vacations or travelling to races are often free which is great.  It means I can live anywhere in the US close to an airport.  I can cut my schedule down to working only 12 shows a year, maybe even less than that and still pay all my bills as we get paid a premium to be away from our friends and family.  However the lifestyle is a tiring one and it gets old...   but thats not what this post is about.  Every now and then you end up on a show with one of those easy dream schedules that you usually only read about on your buddies facebook page and you write stuff like "you bastard!  howcome I never get a gig like that!".  Well...    right now I'm on a gig like that.  And damnit I deserve it!

I'm currently at the Terranea Resort just south of LA in California working on a large corporate event.  The initial load in schedule was a challenge but now that part is behind us my schedule has gotten to be pretty easy.  I don't think there are any days much longer than 8 hours left on my schedule in the time remaining here and I haven't worked many days longer than that since we finished setup which is awesome.  Some of my days are split with a 4 hour morning work session and a 4 hour evening session or whatever... but thats super easy.  So the point is I'm staying at this super swank resort and actually have bits of time off to enjoy it!  Granted I have a fair amount of paperwork to do but those projects are stalled while I wait for other people to finish bits of them so today I decided to enjoy myself.....

I didn't have to be at work today till 4pm so I decided I would sleep in and get in a nice big brick session today on property.  I had no idea it was all going to be outdoors and amazing!  Now my body is still on east coast time so sleeping in meant getting up at 7am.  I spent a delightfull hour just eating breakfast, drinking coffee, and texting / emailing the girl and then decided it was time to get my ass in the pool.  So I loaded up with all the gear I'd need to swim/bike/run, threw on some tri shorts and a tech shirt and headed off to the pool / fitness center to get started.

When I first saw the pool I was stunned.  Its right at the top of a cliff overlooking the pacific ocean and it was gorgeous!  Better than that I had the whole damn thing to myself!
As you can see the view is amazing.  What a treat to be swimming in October in an outdoor lap pool!  And to make it even better its a salt water pool which I really like.  Only minor annoyance is the cutesy curved lap lines on the bottom of the pool but really...   who can complain about that!  So I proceeded to get my swimming in.  I tried to forget about the awful swim session a week prior that had me out of the pool after logging barely 500 yards.  This session was much, much better.  I settled into a groove quickly and put in 20x50's on 20 seconds rest.  That went well and then I moved onto 100's and did 5 of those followed by one 500 yard set for a total of 2000 yards.  That took me about 45 minutes and then I got out of the pool and dried off and headed into the fitness center to get on a stationary bike.

I get on the bike inside the gym and start pedalling and then I look out the window and see this brick patio outside with six spin bikes on it sitting in the sun.  So I stopped pedalling grabbed all my gak and headed out there!  WOW!  Sweet!  A spin bike, an ocean breeze, and a view of the pacific ocean!  Seriously?  AWESOME!

So I put in a nice steady hour of spinning on the bike and then locked up my gak and headed out for a five mile run.

The run went really well and the progressive swim to bike warmup had my hamstring feeling really good which was awesome.  There is a large network of gravel trails that runs up and down the coast so I just headed north and followed the trail that runs atop the cliffs.  What a beautifull run!  Gorgeous mostly empty trails, 70 degrees and sunny.  Just absolutely fabulous.  I loved it!  My hamstring felt good, my toe felt a little weak but not bad and I got through the run feeling much much better than I did the one a couple of days ago.  I definitely felt good enough to try for the 14 miler on Sunday.

So a spectacular day of outdoor training was had today.  And after that I went back to my villa and ate lots of yummy bagels, cheese, yogurt, almonds, and granola for a super nutritious and yummy protein filled lunch.  Perfect!  And after a super long shower which included ten minutes of stretching and yoga under the hot water I dried off, spent an hour on the phone with the girl, did some work, and then mozied on over to work from 4pm-10pm which is where I am now.  Work this evening consists of babysitting a dimmer rack again for six hours.  Super easy.  I keep asking the LD to break something so I'll have something to fix.  He's not cooperating yet though. 

A fantastic day today...  it really did wonders for my mood to have such a strong and successful training day in the outdoors.  Usually travelling and training means nasty beige dungeon gyms deep in the hotel with lousy indoor chlorine filled 20 yard pools.  So a full 25 yard real lap pool with that view, an outdoor spin bike, and a trail run along the ocean...  well damn.  That just never happens!  And the luxury of a morning off to take my time and enjoy it!  now were talking near impossible!  But today it all lined up and I loved it!  Good for the soul.  Plus I'm getting excited at the thought of going home in five days.  Love it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Checking in from LA

I'm currently sitting next to a pile of equipment racks at a large corporate event in a very fancy schmancy resort just south of Los Angeles.  I was hired to come out here and be the "master electrician" for this event.  Which means my job is to lead the installation of a large lighting rig for the event.  Normally I'm the lighting designer and I work with master electricians to install my rigs for me.  However sometimes its really nice to trade hats.  Working shows like this have only one really stressfull day and thats the first day of setup when you walk into an empty room.  But as gigs go even that day wasn't bad at all.  So now that the rig is loaded in (all setup) my job becomes more of a babysitting role.  Essentially I sit backstage and wait for stuff to break.  Sometimes that happens a lot, and sometimes not at all.  So here is my exciting view...

On the other side of a wall of drape and scenery is a big fancy lighting rig where currently a couple hundred executives are enjoying a performance by a bunch of fire dancers while they wait for their big awards dinner to start.  Here's a shot I grabbed at rehearsal.

So as you can see my job can be pretty random at times.  Point is though I'm here at this amazing luxury resort staying in this lovely villa with several fireplaces, a hot tub, two outdoor patios, outdoor fireplaces and all sorts of fabulous acoutrements.  So I really can't complain.  The part however that I can whine a bit about is that I've been going show to show for quite sometime now and I'm really missing the girl.  We've never been apart for any length of time yet so this trip being almost three weeks long has been tough.  Just 7 more days to go fortunately and I'll be home...  although sadly only for a few days and then I go off to Dallas for a week.

So last I updated I was in DC and taking a week off of training.  I stayed true to that and did nothing while I was out there but do my best to let things heal.  However once out here in LA I really wanted to get back to training.  Especially to running to see what would happen.  And at the end of that rest period I felt fairly good.  Some hamstring tightness was still there but not as bad, and my right foot still feels a little less powerfull but I felt ok to try running again.  So after a long workday in DC followed by a flight to LA getting me in at close to midnight and then working a 15 hour day the next day I went to bed with the plan to wake up early and get a run in before work.  So my alarm went off at 5am (its really easy to get up that early on the west coast when you are still on east coast time) and headed out for a run.  I was kind of excited to run here as the resort is literally on a cliff right on the pacific ocean and I'm sure the views must be spectacular.  However at 5am its pitch black out.  So I was forced to stay on the hotel's many lit paths and parking areas.  So I found a nice 1.2 mile loop of paths and just kept running that loop till I hit 5.7 miles total.  Why 5.7?  Because I wanted to run five, and from there it was .7 miles to the cafe where I planned to buy breakfast!

So how did the run go?  Well it started off well, but it didn't end so well.  My hamstring tightened up quite a bit towards the end.  Nothing awful or painfull just that discomfort again.  So that was frustrating.  My foot felt ok, but again it feels weak. I definitely did not finish it as strong as I wanted to.  Worse though was that as the day wore on my hamstring felt sore all day.  Very aggrevating!  Again not painfull...  just tight.

So now what?  Well I've decided that I have to try and run on it.  Its not injured and its not painfull so I need to do my best to stretch stretch stretch and see if I can actively rehab it.  I'll be carefull with pace and hillwork and see what happens.  So tomorrow I'm going to try and run 5 again and see what happens and if that goes well I'll try 14 on Sunday.  If I'm not able to do that then I will try a last ditch effort of two straight weeks off and then start training again for the marathon.  If I can't heal it in two weeks then I'm porked and probably wont be able to do the disney challenge or at least not the full marathon part of it.  We'll see though.  I still however have the option of racing the Donna in February as my marathon so thats still on the table and it could be really fun to try and PR and then get to celebrate with the girl and all her friends.  So still lots to figure out.

I really hope I can run long on Sunday though...   I have that morning off and its so beautifull out here and to run long along the pacific coast will be amazing.  So fingers crossed.   I also have some time in the morning tomorrow to myself so my hope is to swim nice and early, then bike a little at the gym as a nice long warmup and then go run five miles.  Saturday would then be an off day and then I'll run long on Sunday.  Wish me luck!

In other random news my eating has been much better here in LA than it was in DC thats for sure!  The plus of having the lovely villa is that its now stocked full of groceries as we have a full kitchen.  So between me behaving again at the end of the DC trip and my time out here my weight is back down to 142 from its peak of 145 so that has me feeling good.  Not that I'm a freak about it, but I do like to maintain it at 140 and keep it there.  Its been a little roller-coastery lately and thats not good.  So I'm hoping to get it back under control and keep it there.  Ok...   I should go back to staring at equipment racks now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Off Week....

So this week was pretty much an off and recovery week to let my body recoup from the busy racing season before I start heading towards marathon training in earnest.  I took the advice of some friends of mine in the know and gave my body some recovery time.  The only workouts I did this week was a great 2600 yard swim on Monday, an ok 1000 yard swim on Tuesday, and a LOUSY 500 yard swim on thursday.  Since then I've done nothing.  Today however is my last day of rest before starting up again tomorrow. 

So was it worth it?

Well this morning I decided to take an evaluation of how I feel....

My hamstring still feels tight.  But it feels a little stronger.  I think if I keep my runs to slower paced efforts and work on strengthening my legs back up with regular strength training I'll probably be ok.  This is what I went through early in the season and the strength work I put in then seems to have paid dividends.  However once my training for the FIRM 1/2 got intense I backed off the strength training as I just couldn't handle the volume of training and strength training at the same time.  But now that should be much easier.  So we'll see how I do putting those two together.  My hope is that with regular stretching and strength training I will be on a course to keep that hammy healthy and strong.  Time will tell.  I don't know that taking any more time off is going to loosen it any more.  I think I just need to work through it carefully and keep a carefull eye on it.

The issue that is starting to concern me more is actually my right foot.  I'm starting to wonder if this is more of why my long runs were starting to feel a little funky.  Its hard to explain but it almost feels like I don't get as much spring out of my right foot.  Its also the first spot to go numb when running.  Its as if the big toe on that foot isn't as strong as the other one.  Not sure what thats all about.  I can feel it even when walking.  I'm starting to wonder if that is causing me to compensate with some other leg muscles which is causing the discomfort in my right leg.  Perhaps that weaker toe is the cause to all my leg issues?  not sure...   but definitely also something to keep an eye on.  Theres definitely no pain there at all...  just some occasional numbness and weakness.  Which of course shows up on longer distance runs and makes that whole right leg have to work harder.  I suppose I could go to the podiatrist again but he's just going to tell me not to run for six weeks and I'd like to try and keep running and see what happens.

So theres a lot to keep an eye on as I head towards marathon training again.  Especially as I have some big plans.  I'm hoping to be able to focus on running long and very evenly and slowly paced for this Disney challenge.  Ideally close to ten minute miles in both the half and full.  Or at least 9'30s.  I'm hoping to be able to RACE a marathon in february with the girl and many of her friends in february.  Which means treating the disney race as a training weekend.  My hope is to stay strong enough so that the disney weekend becomes the peak of my training and then I enter a three or so week taper for the Donna marathon in Jacksonville, FL in february which I'd then race the full and shoot for a new PR.  But who knows if I'll be healthy enough to do that.  Although I've booked my plane ticket for Jax already my plan is to figure out whether I'm racing the full, the half, or just plain cheering from the sidelines at the last minute.  I'll train as if I'm racing the full but theres a long way to go and stay injury free between now and then and who knows what toll the Disney goofiness is going to have on me.

So with all this said its time to think about training and what my plan is going forwards.  I think I've put together a new training plan that I hope to stick to throughout the winter...  and here it is...

Monday - Swim / Bike
Tuesday - Run Short / Strength Training
Wednesday - Swim with the girl (coach)
Thursday - Run Short / Strength Training
Friday - Swim / Bike
Saturday - Long Run
Sunday OFF

-Monday's and Fridays are swim and bike days.  My hope will be to swim 2000-2500 yards focused on technique and speed work (more technique to begin the winter and then speed once I'm getting a better handle on form).  The bike portions will be short interval efforts.  1 to 2 hours max.
-Tuesdays and Thursdays will be short runs (5 miles) and an hour of strength training a day.  Strength training will focus on legs, core and swim related muscle groups such as lats etc.
-Wednesdays will be a recovery day of sorts and a focused swim session with the girl who is acting as my coach.
-Saturday will be my long run day.  Nice easy paced efforts.  Its also the girls long run day and I'm really hoping we can share at least some of those runs together as I'm hoping to learn how to groove a ten minute mile pace from her for the Disney effort.  But our schedules won't quite line up but hopefully we can at least do some overlap on some days for part of our runs.
-Sundays are an off day.  I'm not good at off days.  I get restless and want to train seven days a week.  But both the girl and an athletic trainer friend of mine convinced me of the importance of a complete rest day.  And after listening to all the points it makes a ton of sense.  So I'm hoping having a recovery day will really help me stay strong through the winter.  Plus it means getting to sleep in on the weekend and spend quality time with the girl without stressing about where to fit in a long bike or whatever.
Speaking of long bikes...   you'll notice that there isn't really a spot in my plan for that.  I will do some longer rides on Mondays occasionally but for now my focus is on strength training and running.  And I can't focus on long rides until after all this marathon nonsense is over.  So for now my focus is leg strength and intervals on the bike.  The long ride endurance is not going to be a problem for me and even if I don't do many rides longer than 50 miles till after february I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to get to the 120 mile mark well ahead of the ironman at the end of the year.
So thats the plan going forward...   lets hope this week of rest will kick off my training and lead to an awesome season in 2011.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Swimming, Drinking, and Training

This has been a frustrating week training wise...  but I hope that some good will come of it.  It certanly started off well with a nice session in the pool on Monday and a quick swim on tuesday.  But since then its gone downhill.  As I mentioned earlier after consulting with some friends in the know I've decided to take an off week from biking and running and let my legs recover a little bit before I get too far into marathon training.  I figured I would still swim this week though.  And thats where the frustration kicks in.  Maybe I've been tired or maybe I've just not had the drive...   I don't know but I didn't make it back to the pool till thursday afternoon (yesterday).

I got to the pool around 6pm after working a long day in the convention center here.  When I got there the pool had 4 teenage kids goofing off in it.  Although the pool is 25 yards long there are no lane dividers or markers of any kind.  So I just picked the wall of the pool I felt was more empty and started my laps along the wall.  Right away I felt awful and had lousy form.  The first 50 was a massive struggle.  My body position was all wrong, my legs were sinking and I was just a mess.  So I tried to focus on head position and leg position and get it right.  And nothing I was doing was working.  I just didn't have it in me.  Then all of the other factors in the pool started to get to me.  The pool temperature was way too warm.  So it was really uncomfortable to swim in.  Which was odd as it wasn't that warm two days ago.  On top of that the kids in the pool didn't seem to care that I was clearly trying to get laps in and kept getting in my way forcing me to stop.  And they knew it too.  So between my lousy form, warm water, grumpiness from the day, and the stupid kids I was not having any fun.  I wasn't in a good mood at all and I let it get to me.  So for the first time since the annoying guy who thought he was my laneside coach showed up I got out of the water and left the pool early.  I only logged 500 lousy yards.  Ugh.  I was pretty grumpy about it too.

After the swim I met up with some friends of mine out here and went out for dinner.  I don't usually drink much anymore.  In fact typically I only drink when at home and even then its pretty rarely.  Although I've been trying to ease up on those restrictions as its nice to share a glass of wine or a beer with the girl.  But I don't usually drink on the road anymore.  Its very easy to get caught up in the lifestyle of being on the road and drinking every night like many of the guys I tour with.  And thats fine and they enjoy it...  but its not for me anymore.  Its just not the lifestyle I want to lead.  So last night I decide I'm having a bad day and I'm going to just have a small salad for dinner to free up the calorie room for some liquid carbs in the form of a couple of beers.  Well I'm not quite sure what happened but that turned into 2 beers with dinner, then off to a mexican bar for a few margaritas, some tortilla soup and chips and guac, and then off to the hotel bar for a banana split and apple crisp split between three of us with an irish coffee and a guiness.  Yikes!  Thats a LOT of alcohol for me!  I was lit up like a cheap carnival!  I guess I just needed to relax and vent a little and let go with the boys.  So I had a lot of fun.  When I woke up this morning there was a room service cart in my room with a pizza with two bites taken out of it and a slice of carrot cake.  Apparently I ordered room service last night.  Why I thought I was hungry after all that I don't know.  So I had pizza and cake for breakfast.  So yeah...  not my healthiest day!  So its back to being on my best behavior.  Not so good that I did this on an off week when I can't go burn all those calories off!

So whats next?   Well I think I'm going to take the rest of this week off as planned.  I may try and swim again on Saturday or Sunday but I'm not even going to pressure myself to do that.  I'm just going to chill and try and rest my legs up and recover this week and try and eat really healthily and give my body lots of good fuel to repair itself with.  No more junk!  and no more alcohol till I get home.  Next week I'll start running again and get another long run in while I'm out in LA and see how that feels.  In the meantime I need to figure out my weekly training plan.  I know my running schedule which will be two short and one long run a week, but I need to figure out how swimming and strength training fits into that, and also at least one to two days of cycling as well.  I also have decided to have at least one off day a week as well, and I want to take advantage of my work schedule to shift my long run into the middle of the week so I can have Sundays as my off day.  I love the idea of sleeping in on Sunday and hanging with the girl without having to worry about fitting in a 3 hour ride or run that takes up half the day and leaves me exhausted.  So more on all that soon as I start figuring it all out.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Catching Up from the Nation's Capitol

I'm currently in Washington D.C. on day 1 of a 17 day long trip that starts the begining of a ridiculously busy period of business trips for me.  I'll be in DC, LA, Chicago, and Dallas in the next 5 weeks.  Its not going to be fun and I'm not going to be home a whole lot between now and then.  I can't say that this especially thrills me.  Its good for the wallet but I'm going to miss the girl and its going to be an exhausting string of gigs.  But I need to just suck it up and get through it and know I'll have some time off once its all said and done.

So whats happened training wise since I last updated...    mostly some good things in the pool.  On Friday of last week I had kind of a breakthrough day in the pool.   I put in 2500 yards in the pool and ended that session by swimming my longest set yet which was a 500yard set.  So I'm slowly increasing my longest set with my hope to get it up to being able to swim at least a mile straight in the pool in short order.  Other than that though I used some tips that the girl gave me and saw some immediate improvment.  My 100 time went from 2:10 at around the middle of the tri season down to 1:58 or so on average.  Which was great.  Thats also at steady easy effort, not at all racing or trying super hard.  Which quite frankly would exhaust me quickly.  In fact right now I kind of only have 1 pace in the pool.  Still its nice that I finally got my 100's under the two minute mark.  So friday was a good day, I left the pool feeling exhausted, but very pleased.

The weekend included a 13 mile run on the bike path on a GORGEOUS fall day that felt ok, but not great.  Theres definitely something up with my right hamstring.  I suspect its just an overuse injury and I need to back off.  I've been chatting with a physical therapist / trainer friend of mine to get her input on the subject as well so we'll see what happens with that.  Theres just some numbness/deadness in that leg thats making the runs no fun.  Its not painfull or anything but clearly something is not right.  So I suspect I'm going to have to lay off it for a bit and let it recover fully.  I think I just raced too much after the FIRM and never let myself recover so I'm paying the price for it.

Sunday morning I went for a very cold ride with Nancy in the early morning.  I think it was just over 40 degrees at the start of the ride.  I was bundled up (at least I thought I was) but my gloves were not thick enough or well insulated enough and I spent most of the ride feeling pretty miserable.  In fact I don't think either of us were having a strong day as our pace was pretty slow.  Still though at this point in the season its just about logging saddle time.  So pace is not a big concern for me.  I'm just glad we got the ride in.  I was so cold though.  I definitely need to buy some proper winter riding gear.  Theres a part of me though that wonders if I'm going to be able to hack riding in the cold.  I can happily run in it, but riding in it at speed is a whole different experience.  It seems to amplify the chill and I'm worried I wont be able to deal with it.  Still I like the idea of trying to ride outside as much as possible this winter so we'll see what happens.  I am going to have to go out and buy a trainer soon though.

Monday I spent with the girl and we went to the pool in Newport for our first real swim lesson together.  I have to say I was pretty nervous to swim in front of her.  What was worse is that it took me  a very long time to relax in the pool and get into a rhythm.  But once I felt mostly comfy in the water she watched me swim from a few different angles and then started to offer some tips.  We also spent some time talking about how best to coach me, and what I find are the most effective ways to work with me.  Which is that basically I need to work with someone who doesn't offer too much advice at once.  I just want a couple little things to work on at a time.  If I get ten different instructions I get confused and lost.  I need two at a time max and then I need to work on those.  So once we established that we decided those two things were going to be head position, and leg position/lower back tension.  The girl suspect I'm looking straight down too much and that my head is too low in the water and that I should look forwards more.  So I've been working on that.   I like that way thats been feeling as its easier to breathe in that head position.  The other thing I need to work on is keeping tension in my lower back, glutes, and kicking with my legs straight instead of bending at the knees.  Which is really several things, but they also sort of all working in conjunction with each other.  This one is tough for me....   so thats going to take some time.  I feel like I've mostly mastered the head position thing now, so its onto working on the lower extremities.  The reason to work on them is that my legs are still sinking somewhat.  The good news however is that they are not sinking anywhere near as much as they used to be so thats great.  So I'm improving.  But once I get my body position bettter we can start working on my pull and I expect that my speed will start to slowly go up at that point.  At least I hope so.  So good things are starting to happen there too which is great.

Today (tuesday) I was very sad to have to say goodbye to the girl for almost three weeks and headed off to the airport to fly to DC which is where I'm writing this from.  Technically today is a bike/run day but I've decided to make this week a pool focus week and lay off my hamstring while I figure out whats up with it.  So I went to the hotel pool to get a swim in today.  On the plus side the pool here is 25 yards long which is nice... but there are no lane markings or lines on the bottom and its very shallow and the walls are kind of high up.  So its too shallow to practice flip turns (its only 3'6" deep!) and the walls are hard to reach to grab to flip yourself over to do a wall turn with so its kind of awkward, but certainly good enough to swim in.  I was tired from such a long swim set yesterday.  I swam 2600 yards yesterday including a 600 yard set at the end so today I just did 1000 yards and then got in the hot tub.  Better than nothing and not so much it exhausted me.  Tomorrow AM I'll do another long set.

So thats a bit of catchup...     time for me to go unpack a bit and get ready for a very long and difficult setup day tomorrow.  Which hopefully goes well...   we'll see....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

The short versions.....

The Good...   I FINALLY got back in the pool today.

The Bad...   I was supposed to get back in the pool two weeks ago and yet I keep finding excuses to not do it.  I'm pretty angry at myself about it.  But at least I broke that cycle today and got my ass in the pool.

The Ugly....   I ate an insane amount of food yesterday.  All this work stress has me in a serious funk and I've been stress eating a lot.  Way too much...   I'm up to 145lbs and thats unacceptable.

The long versions....  (in a different order)

The Bad...    I am scared of the pool.  I'll admit it.  I know that the second I take my wetsuit off and hit the pool that my swimming ability goes down by a large amount.  The wetsuit fixes a lot of my body position and technique issues and when I take it off I can struggle mightily.  This is well documented in my blog....  as is my desire to get my ass in the pool this winter and fix it.  And yet in the last two weeks I've struggled to get into the pool.  I've been afraid to get in and go through that humbling experience when I realize I can't cover more than 200 yards without feeling exhausted.  I go from being able to swim just about two miles in open water to suddenly barely being able to complete that first 50 yard set when I get in the pool.  Its a humbling sensation and I hate it.  I just haven't had enough positive experiences in the pool to embrace my time there.  And I let that get in my head.  So in the last two weeks I kept finding excuses and reasons not to get in the pool.  I'd pack my swim bag and then something would come up and I wouldn't go.  Or rather I'd let something come up so I didn't have to go.  Its pathetic.  I've been like a 4 year old throwing a tantrum.  Its not like me to be that way.  I am almost always dedicated to my training to a fault almost and never let anything get in the way of it.  And yet here I am these past two weeks letting everything get in the way.  And I can't do that.  So yeah...  here I am publicly giving myself a hard time about it.  Its pathetic!  I'm better than this and I need to HTFU and get over it.  I'm not going to get any better or faster in the water by avoiding the pool.  I know how badly I want that age group placing in the sprints and how badly I want to be able to say I can complete an ironman distance swim without a wetsuit without any problem.  So no more crying, whining, or otherwise coming up with b.s. excuses not to go swim.  Its time to suck it up and get my ass in there.

The Ugly...    I've been bad foodwise lately.  And thats also unacceptable.  Despite the fact I've mostly been eating healthy choices my reduced training load and increased calorie intake is catching up to me.  I'm 145lbs today and thats just not acceptable.  I know its only 5lbs and I know 145lbs is still very much a healthy weight for me.  But its not where I want to be.  The tattoos on my wrist are there for a reason.  To remind me that I don't want to ever go back to where I was.  So even 5lbs is not acceptable.  I need to get on top of my calorie intake and stay on it.  No more excuses, and no blaming anybody but myself for it.  Yesterday I binged hard.  All day long nonstop I ate and ate and ate.  I probably easily put down 4-5,000 calories yesterday.  Part of it was stress, and part of it was depression eating.  I was ticked off at myself for not swimming and so I ate in response to that.  Thats just not acceptable behavior.  WTF?  I know better than this.  I also need to get my training plan under control in a hurry here and get back to training six days a week.  No more recovery weeks.  Easy paced efforts are fine, but no more extra days off.  No matter what.  Also unnaceptable.  Its time to HTFU and get back to staying on track.  I didn't work this hard to let it all go this winter and I'm not about to let it all go in the first few weeks of fall.  No more binging, no more excuses, no more slacking off.  If I want to win next year, and beleive me I do, then I need to pay the price its going to cost to do so.  You don't win by gorging yourself on cheese and crackers in front of the TV.

The Good....   ok so with all this bad and ugliness going on I am glad to be able to share some good.  I did finally get my ass in the pool today.  When I woke up this morning I knew I had to swim.  Theres was just no way to avoid it any more.  I needed to go, I had to go, I wanted to go, and the girl had threatened to not hang out with me if I didn't go in a very sweet gesture to help me get my ass in the pool.  My alarm went off at 4:45am so I could get ready for the 5:30 pool opening time.  I decided that was ridiculous and went back to bed.  I figured I'd try a 7:30 arrival and see how busy it was then.  Turned out that was a good choice.  So after dilly dallying, shaving my face, cutting my hair, showering and everything else I could think of that didn't involve heading to the pool I finally put my ass in the car and headed to the Y.

At 7:30 it turns out that the pool is not as busy as it is at 5:30.  Sweet!  I guess people are already headed to work at that point.  There was only 1 person in each lane and one lane was wide open.  So I had a lane all to myself.  Perfect.  The challenge the girl (who has offered to become my swim coach and we are going to give that a try) put down was for me to swim 1200 yards.  So I got in the pool with that goal in mind.  I stood at the end of the lane endlessly unnecesarily adjusting my goggles and started doing the math.  1200 yards is 24 laps.  So far I've done zero laps.  So thats 24 laps to go.  Yuck.  Ok...   shutup and swim.

I started the first 50 and the first leg of it was so bad I considered getting out if I ever made it to the first wall and taking up knitting, or golf, or anything but swimming.  I felt awful.  I was struggling to swim at all, my body position was a wreck, when I would rotate to breathe I'd get water instead of air.  But I forced myself to calm down and figure it out.  I hit the wall and turned (I really must learn proper flip turns soon) and started back.   Really?  Is 50 yards going to be this hard?  1200 yards felt completely unreachable.  I finally flailed my way to the wall.  Ok...  30 seconds of rest.  Wow that sucked.  Wow this SUCKS.  OMG I hate that I can't swim without that stupid wetsuit on.  Shutup and FOCUS!  Shit!  30 seconds goes by too fast.  And off I went on the next lap.  This one was a tiny bit better.  I at least got a bit more air instead of water when I rotated to breathe.  But it still wasn't fun.  The third 50 felt a little better and so on and so on and so on.  By the 8th 50 I was finally starting to settle into a groove.  Hmmm....   maybe all that wetsuit swimming has improved my technique somewhat?  By the tenth I was considering reducing the rest to 20 seconds but thought the better of it.  I was finally starting to relax.  I was focusing on reducing the number of strokes I was taking and gliding more.  So my breathing got more under control and I started to relax more and it all started to get easier and almost feel like wetsuit swimming.

After finishing a set of 12x50's on 30 seconds rest and feeling more relaxed I decided to try a 100.  The 100 went fine.  So I decided I'd do a set of 6x100's on 30 seconds rest.  That set started to go better and better as it went on.  There were several times I'd get out of breath and I had to focus on recovering and relaxing and finging my groove again instead of stopping.  I refused to let myself stop till I'd finished each 100.  I was averaging about 2:10 per 100 which is the same I've always done in the pool.  In a wetsuit in open water I average about 1:57/100.  I suspect if I master flip turns I can shave a few seconds of my pool 100 as well.  Anyway...    I finished that set and then did a couple more 100's for a total of 8x100s.  I'd now more than met my goal, would be able to see the girl again, and was feeling a little bit better about my pool time.  Which is when I decided it was time to try and end the day with an even more positive experience.

Previously my longest pool continuous swim distance was 225 yards.  I know!  pathetic isn't it?  but thats as far as I could go without having to rest when not wearing a wetsuit.  My longest wetsuit swim is something like 1.8 miles!  So pretty sad I can't swim more than 225 yards in the pool.  So I decided it was time to break that record and set a new one.  And that this winter increasing that longest distance was going to be my pet project.  Once a week I'll try and do a longer swim set in the hopes that one day I'll do an incredibly dull 2.4 mile long continuous pool swim.  But that goal is a long way out.

So I started to swim and count laps.  The first 100 went by quickly enough and then the nerves kick in as soon as I make that next turn.  How long will I be able to go?  I'm tired already...  Wow this is hard.  Which is pathetic as its just my brain messing with me.  So I told it to shutup, refocused on just trying to stay relaxed and keep swimming.  200 yards done.  Ok...   were approach the record distance!  225 done and I made the turn.  That next 25 felt really good.  Ok... still in a nice groove lets keep going.  300 yards done...   lets do 100 more!  In the end I did a 400 yard set.  At the end of it I probably could have kept going a little bit more but I was tired and didn't want to push it.  And hec, I almost doubled my longest distance and at the beginning of this swim session I felt like I wouldn't complete the first 25 yards.  So time to walk away happy on a good note.

All in all I'm pretty pleased with the swim today.  Now I just need to stay consistent and keep going to the pool at least three days a week all winter long.  Thats the goal.  Here's hoping I can keep to it!

Next up this week...    more swiming, more running, more biking, going to watch my first cylocross race this weekend that should be fun too!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Training With the Girl

I've been spending a lot of time in Newport, RI lately.  Its only about 45 minutes away from my home in Providence, RI but until recently I rarely if ever managed to make it down there.  I have a long history with Aquidneck Island that goes all the way back to high school.  Its a place full of many memories for me.  The most recent of which is crossing the finish line of my first marathon there in October of 2010.  Funny to think how far I've come athletically since then...   but thats not what this is all about.  I've recently been spending quite a bit of time down there again as its where the girl lives.  Its been fantastic to spend time down there again for many reasons, but reconnecting with the island has certainly been a small but enjoyable part of that.

I've had the pleasure of doing several shorter training runs and rides down there lately.  Yesterday I worked from home at the girl's house and then headed out for a ride in the late afternoon.  I figured I'd squeeze in a 20 mile ish ride as an out and back on Ocean drive before she got home from work and then we planned to run together after that.  So I headed out with the plan of a nice hard effort ride for an hour.  It was grey, overcast and super windy as soon as I left the house in the shelter of downtown Newport so I knew as soon as I hit the exposed rides of Ocean Drive it was going to be interesting.  When I headed out on the drive it was clear I had a massive tailwind.  I was FLYING.  Easily managing 30mph on the flats without too much effort.  I knew it was going to be interesting on the way back!  I pressed onward and finished the first seven or so miles out to Breton point in record time.  Once I turned inland again I could start to feel the headwind but that section of the island is somewhat sheltered so it wasn't too bad.

Thirty minutes into my ride I turned around so I could be sure to make it back in time to run with the girl.  Once again on the way out to the point the tailwinds were giving me a nice boost, even in the sheltered section.  But then WHAM!!!  as soon as I rounded the point it was like riding into a brick wall of wind!  Holy Cow it was an insane wind!  I was literally down to 12mph in the granny gear standing on the pedal to make progress at some points.  The wind was so strong I couldn't manage the big ring even on the flats.  It was nuts and hysterical, and pretty fun too.  Ocassionally the crosswind gusts on some of the curvier parts of the road were pretty challenging to deal with.  The wind was so strong and steady you could literally lean the bike into it to avoid tipping over.  It was like nothing I'd ever ridden in before.

When I got close to the girl's house I knew I had a little more time to ride so figured I would tack on another couple of miles to the ride.  So I headed down Memorial towards first beach.  Riding down the hill into the wind it was seriously funny how slow I was going downhill.  I had to pedal to make progress.  The ride down the beach to the turnaround was nuts as its wide open to the ocean there so there was zero shelter.  However once turned around I was flying back up the hill on Memorial.  You could almost go uphill without pedalling.  In the end my ride was around 22 miles.  Good fun and great practice for riding in some pretty intense winds and crosswinds.

After my ride I got back just in time to change clothes and then head out for a run with the girl.  We went for a nice 4 mile run together.  We stayed mostly in sheltered areas to avoid the worst of the wind which was nice as I'd had my fill of it on the bike.  The girl and I have only run together a couple of times now.  Were still working on it.  I'm a tad faster than she is so I need to stay a half step behind her to match her pace and not head out too quickly.  Oddly though for whatever reason when we run together we seem to be slowing her pace down from her usual as well.  Our average yesterday was a solid 45 seconds per mile slower than her usual grooves it every single run pace that she's used to.  So we'll have to work on upping the pace back to where she and both of us are comfy.  This is a learning experience for me and I'm trying to be on my best behaviour as I love running with her and I'm really hoping we'll figure it out so were both comfortable running together.

The girl and I also went for our first ride together on Sunday.  We had orginally planned a much longer ride together but the day got away from us quickly and after we'd run all the errands on our list we were running out of daylight.  So we changed plans and headed to the bike path so we'd be safer if it got dark as neither of us had the proper night riding gear with us and it was nice and close and easy.  I'm happy to say that we rode together very well and at a pace that was comfortable for both of us.  It was a nice little ride but more than that it was great to see that we'll be able to share some long rides together in the future at a nice happy pace.

So far this week is off to a good start training wise.  I'm hoping to get my first pool swim in tonight at the Y.  As much as I'm dreading it I just need to get it over with and start working towards improving my swim.

In other news I put my long run schedule in my calendar today.  Scary to put two twenty milers in there!  But on the plus side there won't be too many of my long runs that will happen while travelling for business.  Looks like I can fit most of them in here at home which is great.

Ok...   time to get back to work and get through this nasty bunch of shows and travel coming up between now and the end of November.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Catching Up....

This has been a bit of a frustrating work week.  Theres lots going on, loads of work to do, and many difficult and aggrevating things to deal with on top of all of that.  So it hasn't been very fun in that regard.  Fortunately though when work was at its worst, life finds a way to balance it out.  So I can at least say I'm happy to have almost gotten back to my normal level of training despite this being initially thought of as a recovery week.  Including tomorrow (sunday) I'll have ridden three times this week, ran twice, and swam once.  Which is not great, but at least its headed back towards normal.  One more run in the mix and triple that swimming and were back in business.  The next two months are so work intense that its going to be hard to get my regular routine going again but I'm just going to have to fight to get it all in as I know I'm always in a better mood afterwards.

So time for some random bits and pieces to get all caught up....

This morning I swam with the GVP group at the pond.  It was great to see many of my club members.  I spent so much time training with everyone this summer and then after the TDD I really haven't seen many of them as my schedule has been so busy I've been cramming in workouts wherever I can last minute so its been hard to line up training with other people.  So it was great to see some of my friends again.

I got talked into swimming the 1.1 mile route today as opposed to the 3/4 mile route my brain wanted to do.  I'm so glad I did swim the longer route as it felt really good once I got settled in.  I mucked about with my stroke a little and focused on keeping my head down.  Seemed like I was a tiny bit faster that way but who knows.  It was cold outside but actually really nice in the pond once I got going.  Once out of the water thought I was freezing!

From the swim I went over to the east bay bike path to get my long runs started once again.  Today I went for a 13 miler.  I started off nice and slow running 9:15s, then moved to 9's and stayed there for the whole 6.5 miles out.  The way back though my legs wanted to go and I didn't argue with them.  So I ran 8's for a lot of the way back brining my average for the 13 to 8:30 even.  Which is technically faster than I should have ran it but sometimes I just let my legs do what they want to.  I also raced up the one hill towards the end and that felt good.  What didn't feel good is my right foot.  Something is up with it and I'm not sure what.  Its not pain or anything, but there some numbness again and something feels off.  I don't know what and it didn't stop me from running at all but I need to keep an eye on it.

Ok so while I'm throwing random details out I think its time to mention someone I've alluded to here once or twice.  I will first note that if you read a lot of blogs you know that significant others are often reffered to as "the girl" or "the boy".  Really its a term of endearment and its meant to protect their anonymity.  Just because I want to tell the entire internet my business doesn't mean she does.  So...   yes...   there is a "girl" in my life.  A rather cute one in fact.  We've been spending a lot of time together lately and things are going really well.  So well I feel confident enough to mention her here for the first time directly.  As well as being fabulous and smart and wonderfull in many other ways, the girl is also an accomplished athlete and triathlete.  She's also an Ironwoman.  There is certainly a lot more to her than just those things... but I just wanted to make the quick introduction so that I can write about a few other things in the future.  For instance we've run together once now and despite us running different paces I think we did really well together.  I'm hoping we can do it again...  but she seems to feel like I'm too fast to run at her pace.  I'm working on it though and have high hopes she will forget all about my potential pace and focus on the enjoyment of running together.  Other things to write about will be that were going for our first 50 mile ride together tomorrow, and she has also offered to take a shot at coaching me in the pool as she is a very fast and accomplished swimmer.  Surely there will be some comedy there.  I have to say I'm nervous about that one!  My swimming is not impressive!  So yeah...  theres "a girl" and shes fantastic, and as she and I start training together more often I'm sure I'll mention her here in the future.

I need to do a lot of thinking about 2011.  Its going to be a big year of career change for me as I've mentioned here in the past.  I'm starting to get excited about it.  As soon as I finish this giant round of shows that will end in late November I need to get cranking on deciding whats next.  The nice thing is that I can always keep my lighting business going until I find something new...   but I do think I very much want to find something closer to home with no travel.  I have high hopes for 2011 in all parts of my life.  I think its going to be a great year career wise, training wise, triathlon wise with the completion of my first full Ironman event, and hopefully even relationship wise...  but its a bit early to think that far ahead quite yet.  So good things are on the horizon...    its just that theres a giant dark dark mountain in front of me I have to climb over first.  So bear with me as I fight my way over it and post here sporadically.

And one last note...   Today is 10/2.  Which is Livestrong Day.  Today we celebrate the daily victories of the 28 million people who are fighting cancer worldwide.  Today is not about Lance Armstrong, or any other individual person.  Its about coming together to support those in need.  Its about raising money for continued research and for support groups to take care of the things that modern medicine can not.  Livestrong does so much good for the world both in supporting the individuals and families struggling every day with the fight against cancer as well as raising awareness of healthy habits and lifestyles.  So wear some yellow today and celebrate life with all of us.  Today as I went for my run I thought a lot about this....

Today on my run I LiveSTRONG for my Mom, for Uncle Bob, and for the 28 million.