Sunday, February 27, 2011

First Open Water Swim Of The Year

Still here in West Palm Beach Florida....

Thursday was my first TRX workout.  Which was great!  At the time I wasn't sure just how hard my workout was.  When I woke up on friday I was extremely sore!  My quads were not happy!  My core was also a tiny bit tender...  so its definitley a good workout!  Friday was a pretty big workday for me.  I had initially hoped to try and swim in the morning or evening but that just didn't work out with my schedule as I was not able to find a pool locally that was both close enough for me to be able to get to and back before work as well as open when I needed it to be.  Lots of outdoor multi lane lap pools here but they don't open till after I already had to be at work and then are closed before I'm done for the day.  Annoying....

So Friday was a big workday and I was pretty tired afterwards.  It was a pretty intense phsycial day with lots of running about nonstop.  I felt really sore at the end of the day and my hamstring especially was not so happy so I decided a yoga workout was in order.  So I used a new yoga DVD I had put on the ipad and followed that just over hour long routine.  Very slow flowy excellent stretching type yoga which was perfect.  Not too quick between poses and very easy to follow.  I was surprised how tight I am.  I need to work on that.  I know I've said this before but yoga needs to find a larger place in my life.  I'm always happy after I take the time to do it.

There are three of us staying at a hotel a few miles from the venue which happens to be right on the beach.  I was hoping to swim Saturday morning so I asked the two guys if they wanted to go to the beach Saturday morning before we had to be at work at 11am.  They both said yes which was perfect as the rental car is one of their names so I can't drive it.  Of course this was all part of my plan to get a ride to the beach so I could get my first open water swim of the year in! 

When we got the beach it was PERFECT!  Dead flat clam, 75 degree air temps and 70 degree water temps.  AWESOME!!!!!  I was pscyhed!  So I got the wetsuit on and started to walk out in the water.  I was definitley a little apprehensive.  I've never swam alone in the ocean before.  I've always done it with other people.  But the calm conditions and the lifeguard tower and two other swimmers way out gave me confidence to go for it.  I'm so glad I did!  It was GORGEOUS out there.  The water was crystal clear and the beach is such that the depth changes very very slowly.  So I just swam out about 200 feet or so till the depth was about 8 feet and then just swam along the beach.  I had my garmin in my swim cap which vibrates every .25 miles in the water so I just planned to swim a half mile.  I wasn't sure how I'd feel as I've felt so bad in the pool.  In a wetsuit however I felt so much better of course.  So it wasn't long before I settled into my stroke.  The water was so clear it was like going snorkelling.  You could see the sandy bottom and schools of small fish swimming below you.  What a great swim!  After a little beyond a quarter mile I turned around and swam back to where I'd started and then back into shore.

In the end I swam .6 miles and it felt fabulous.  I thought about going longer but that was enough as I haven't done a ton of long swims this year.  In fact my longest continous swim set to this point was 600 yards in December or so.  So I figured that was enough for day 1.  Plus I had to go to work.  So I got out, met up with the boys and went for nice walk along the beach before the workday started.

At the end of the day Saturday I pretty much passed out asleep despite the fact it was only 830pm.  I've been really congested and had been fighting a sinus headache all day so I was pretty beat.  Today (Sunday) I had hoped to swim again after work which ended at 1pm.  I brought my wetsuit with me and figured I'd swim after work and then walk the three miles back to the hotel.  Unfortunately though when I got to the beach the conditions were pretty rough.  4-6ft waves and tons and tons of big, fast moving, wind driven chop.  Now I'd happily swim in this in a group.  But the thought of swimming in those kind of conditions by myself just didn't appeal to me.  That was beyond my point of comfort.  So my hope is to try again early tomorrow morning and hope it will be calmer.  My flight doesn't leave till later in the day so I've got plenty of time to try and sneak a swim in.  So hopefully the weather is much better!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fun With Power Meters and TRX Time!

So after an all too brief 48 hour stop at home I'm now back on the road.  This time in West Palm Beach.  Those 48 hours went by quickly....

Monday I spent the entire day fighting my way through airports to get home from LA.  I finally landed in bed around 1am tuesday morning.

Tuesday I finally got back in the pool with mixed results...

Wedneday I got Cannon all put back together with my new power meter and got to work putting in a spin workout.  The plan was ten minutes of easy spin, 20 minutes of a mild to moderate effort, and then 10x1 min @ 200+watts, followed by 1 minute of rest.  All this was done on the trainer parked indoors as its still damn cold out and the roads are still covered in salt.  I can definitely say I'm thrilled with my purchase of a power meter.  What a difference!  No it doesn't make you go faster or feel any more motivated to train.  But it does give you a way to compare yourself to other rides and other riders with an even playing field that leaves out every other factor.  Realizing just how hard it is to do intervals at over 200 watts after not being on the bike for a long time makes me truly appreciate the effort a pro traithlete puts in averaging 250 watts + in a 112 mile Ironman ride.  Incredible!  But the really important thing about that workout is that I was more tired from that workout than any other indoor bike workout I've ever done.  Just look at the heartrate data and you can see how hard I was working.  So I'm looking forward to more time with it as I think its going to push my cycling to a whole new level.  At least thats my hope.  Here's the graph from my first session with the power meter.

So after an hour spin on the bike I rushed about to get packed to head to my next business trip.  I spent the evening rushing about trying to get a few last minute workout gadget things dealt with and then spent the rest of the evening with the girl.  Our original plan was to getup at 5am and swim this morning before I had to take off to the airport.  But I decided I hated the thought that we'd only gotten to spend two evenings together after me being away constantly and said I'd rather we spend the morning sharing coffee and breakfast together instead of sharing a pool lane.  And I'm glad I made that choice as it was nice to have that time together....

The rest of the day then became rather chaotic.  Two plane rides later I landed in West Palm beach to a text message saying that the event setup that was supposed to be tomorrow was not going to be today.  So I went straight from the airport the venue and had to rush through 5 or so hours of setup before we were done with everything that apparently had to be done before tomorrow morning.

From there it was off to the crappy hotel the client is putting us up in with a 10' long pool and a fitness center that includes a treadmill from 1972, a recumbent bike, and a few free weights.  Not so great for training!

So whats a guy to do?  Well...   this actually happens quite often for me.  So I decided to be proactive about this situation and try and come up with a workout I can do anywhere.  So I ordered up a TRX Suspension trainer after a recommendation from some friends along with their "door anchor" that you can use to attach the device to any sturdy door.  So today I did my first TRX strength training workout.  I have to say I'm really impressed with it.  Definitely a great workout.  I have some form issues to workout to get the most out of it but for my first crack at it I think its going to be a great super portable solution.  Below is an image of the door anchor which is a strap you essentially just close the door on with a big blocky thing on the other end that cant pull through the door frame.  Simple, but works quite well.
And heres the TRX hanging from the hotel room door.  Since I'm stil new to the TRX I ripped the DVD workout it came with to my computer and then stuck it on my ipad so wherever I go I can do the workout on the DVD until I learn enough about it do setup my own routines.

So after the TRX workout is all done its time for my phsyical therapy excercises and then I need to start hunting for a pool somewhere out here.  Tomorrow I'm also going to check out the beach near the venue and probably bring my wetsuit with me too and see if I can get some open water time in out here.  I'll be by myself so I'll stay close to shore and be carefull.  But if conditions look ok I'm definitely going to go for it.  So with any luck I'll get a bunch of training in while I'm out here.  At least I hope so.

Ok...   time to get all that done and then collapse into bed.  I'm beat!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Toys....

I had so much fun last year completing my first triathlon season that I set out a bunch of goals for this offseason to have an even better 2011 season.  Some of those goals were training goals which I have frustratingly not met so far (but theres still time!) and some of them were goals to arm myself with the best tools I could afford to train smarter and harder and be as fast as I possibly can.  In that side of things this offseason I've done spectacularly well.

I bought a brand new tri bike, moved my race wheels and rear seat cage system over to it, added a front bottle cage mount to it and most importantly...   bought a new bike computer to help me with two things.

1.  It has navigation in it so I when I start doing 100 mile rides I don't get lost.  I'm really good at getting lost.  So this one was sort of a must have.

2.  It better handles information from power meters which my old bike computer (Garmin 310xt) doesn't do very well.

While I was away in LA last week a lovely present showed up in the mail from the guys (ironically) on the west coast at  I shipped them my SRAM S60 rear wheel and they took it apart and slapped a Cycleops Pro+ Power meter in the middle of it!  So 2011 will be the year of training and racing by power for me.  Its time to train and race smarter!  Most importantly I want to pace my ironman purely by power to ensure as most a succesfull run off the bike as possible.  Here's a few shots of Cannon now that my bike is all done and ready to go for the season.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And it begins....

Its finally time to hang up my running shoes and go back to being a triathlete again.  Er rather I guess its time to not hang up my running shoes, but instead put some bike shoes and flip flops next to them.  Anyway...   point is its time to stop thinking like a distance runner and start thinking like a triathlete.  In fact its actually time to stop thinking like a runner completely.  I'm putting myself on a hiatus from running in hopes that I can let my legs heal up, loosen up, and then strengthen them up before I start running again.

Lets backtrack for a minute with a few quick thoughts.  I'm a little conflicted currently.  Theres a part of me thats really dissapointed in the way I've spent the majority of my offseason.  Instead of making huge gains in the pool and doing a million intervals on the bike I focused on distance running.  And then I beat my legs to hell to the point where all I did was pretty much run and take lots of rest days.  So I'm bummed that as far as swimming and biking goes I've made pretty much zero progress to this point.  I'm exactly where I was at the end of last season.  A mildly decent cyclist with a lot of room for improvement, and a lousy swimmer whose too stubborn to admit I can't actually swim.  So the fact its almost March and I made zero progress really kind of sucks and I'm really bummed out about it.

Then theres the other side...   the side thats damn proud that I finished the goofy challenge, and that by February 14th I'd run two marathons, a half marathon, and a 5K.  Not too shabby!  And I PRd my marathon.  So I'm pretty proud of that.  But this side of me is in direct conflict with the triathlete side of me. 

The point of all this is that theres a lesson to be learned...   I can't expect my body to be able to go out and run a couple of marathons right on the tail of the tri season and expect to be able to keep up all my other training at the same time.  I know there are athletes out there that can do it all...   but I'm just not that person.  Theres an energy cost to doing these things and I don't have enough money in the bank to pay for all of them.

Some other dissapointments...   the scale this morning read 153lbs.  I've been very bad foodwise lately.  Thats up from my race weight of 138lbs.  So I've got 15lbs to lose before June.  Some of that should come off quickly as I start training again...   the rest is gonna take some work!

Ok...   now back to the present....

Today marks the start of the triathlon season for me.  Its time to get serious and stop with the excuses and focus on going forwards to make myself as fast and as strong and as successful as I can be.  Its time to start swimming and biking my ass off and then reintroduce the running again somewhere around mid April.  I will instead use that running time to focus on strength training and flexibility.  Thats the plan.

So...    today the plan starts!

I spent a brutal day yesterday flying back from LA and got home around 1AM east coast time.  Up at 730am and right to work, cranked out a few things and then headed to the Y to get back in the pool.  Wow..   what a crappy swim!  I guess I shouldn't be surprised after a month or so away from the pool that it wasn't going to go well.  I had an 1800 yard workout in mind with ladders and a 500 yard set in it.  But I quickly realized that was a pipe dream.  My technique was awful, I felt awful, and I just could NOT relax in the water no matter what I tried.  I was getting distracted by the floundering wave maker I was sharing the lane with who seemed to be good and driving a small tsunami towards my mouth every time I tried to breath and I just couldn't find my happy place in the water.  So I had to mentally really focus on doing my best to get something out of the workout.  I shifted gears and decided to skip the workout I'd brought with me and focus on form and relaxation.  So I stopped trying to do anything beyond a 50 yd repeat after I suffered through a brutal 200 that felt like ass frankly.  The 50s didn't feel great but its better than giving up.  I hate taking steps backwards in the pool but I guess sometimes you have to take one backwards to go forwards.  I just need to stay consistent in the pool and I can make some progress.  But my travel and work schedule have been BRUTAL so far this year so its been extremely difficult to get any sort of pool rhythm down.  Its not an excuse... but it is a reality.  So...   I suffered through 1200 yards today.  I started to feel a little better by the end of it but not much.  I wanted to get out after 1000 yards but I forced myself to do two more 50s.  After that the tsunami maker got out of my lane so I decided to do two last laps and try a flip turn in the middle.  I managed to do them and keep swimming without breaking stride.  So that was good.  The second one was definitely much better than the first.  And they weren't great...  but they were a start!  In a way they felt better than a wall turn.  I feel like I want to stop when I poke my head out of the water and the flip turn keeps my face in the water.  I know it sounds stupid but I swear that makes a difference.

So day 1 I swam.  And it sucked...  but I did it.  And tomorrow I'm going right back to the pool.  And again on thursday.  I just need to keep at it and I get somewhere.  I know when I put a wetsuit on I'll be able to go long... but the point is to be able to do that without the wetsuit crutch.

Next up?  Tomorrow I'll swim in the morning and spin in the afternoon.  Thursday I fly to West Palm Beach Florida for a show and I'll do my first TRX strength training workout, yoga, and hopefully swim while I'm out there.  In fact I'm going to pack a wetsuit and try and get some ocean swimming in if I can.  We'll see how that works out though.

Ok... time for me to go back to work.  Oh and I got my wheel back from while I was away.  Theres now a lovely powertap in the middle of it.  More on that tomorrow!  : )

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oops I Did It Again... 26.2 with Donna, The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer

So sometimes in your life you just have to say screw it and do something you maybe shouldn't because you know it's going to be fun and because its for a great cause. Today I did just that. Earlier this week I decided I wanted to run the National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer with the girl. For her it was a race she's been properly training for all winter. For me..... Not so much!! My training plan went like this. I did the Disney Goofy Challenge and then took four weeks off of training. Then I started with a pretty painful 8 mile run on sunday with the girl to see if I felt up to running the marathon a week later. I wasn't sure after that 8 miler so I decided I would wait till later in the week to decide. I took monday off and then ran 3 on Tuesday. That run felt better but not by much. My legs still didn't feel great but it gave me hope that they might loosen up in time. On wednesday I decided to run 6.55 miles. I figured that was a fourth of a marathon and if I could do that I could run 26.2 at the girls pace with her. That run actually felt ok so that afternoon I said scew it and registered for the race.  Perhaps not the wisest idea I've ever had but hey...   you only live once.  And what better way to spend the day before Valentines day with the girl than by trying to cross a finish line with her holding hands.  The question now was...    would I be able to run 26.2 miles?  would I be able to match the girls pace?  Could I run that slow?  could I run that fast?  Oh well...    only one way to find out!

I spent the rest of the week resting, hoping, and went for one more hail mary massage with Nancy to do what I could to loosen my legs up.  Of course I didn't tell Nancy I was going to go and run another marathon as I knew she would try and talk me out of it.  Then on Friday the girl and I flew down to Jacksonville after she got out of work. We landed around midnight.  Not the best way to feel "rested" for a marathon!  We spent saturday continueing our odd style of "resting" by visiting with many of the girls friends down there in Florida and then going out for calzones and beer the night before. Good stuff! It's amazing how much more fun a marathon is when you are not hunting for a PR and you are just going out for a fun run with your girl. No stress and no worrying about it all week.  Well except for the worry I wouldn't be able to run the whole thing and I'd embarass myself in front of her very active friends, dissapoint her, or worse...   hurt myself and put my tri season in jeapordy.  So I guess there was some worry...   but I tried to keep telling myself not to be afraid to bail if need be.  But lets face it...   I know myself too well to think that I'd bail. 

This morning (Sunday) the alarm went off at 4am and I was up and at em and ready to head to the race an hour later. Thanks to the help of a friend of a friend of the girls we scored a great parking spot at a great spot near the start of the race. Around this time it was only 35 degrees. Which after the winter we have had in rhode island didn't actually feel all that cold remarkably. We met up with the girls friends and chatted about pacing and it was decided that myself and the girls friend Daniel would stick together at the girls pace and run the race together. Daniel is an accomplished runner himself with the same marathon PR as I have but had not run much at all this year and hadnt trained at all for the marathon. He was just there to run the race for fun with the girl as they used to run together often when she lived down in fl.  I'm really glad he was there though as he was great company along the way and the three of us had a great time along the course.  Here we are waiting for the gun to go off....

So when the gun finally went off we got our long day started. I was starting to wonder what I was thinking running a marathon a month after the goofy. I did think of the guy in the news lately that ran 365 marathons in a row. Thats just nuts. I don't now how anybody does that. Anyway we got started and the girl turned her iPod on and pretty much stayed in her own zone till mile 16. Which gave Daniel and I time to get to know one another. In the end Daniel made the race for me as having someone to talk to was great and we had a great time chatting away as we ran.  I don't think the day would have gone near as well had he not been there.

The course in Jacksonville is a really nice one but there are some odd bits. The worst of which is right around mile 4 or so you start a 2.5 mile stretch of the race that takes place on the sand of the beach! Fortunately the sand is very hard packed so it wasn't bad. I think it was far scarier in my head than it was in reality. Still... I was pretty happy when that part was over. At this point around mile 10 or so we were all feeling great and the girl was on pace for a PR. Actually she was way ahead of that pace and i was worried we'd gone out too fast.

Miles 10 through 13 were long and tough for me. Those are always the hardest marathon miles for me.  I started to wonder if I could get through the marathon and keep up with the girl. Even though our pace was over a minute per mile behind my PR pace it was still at times hard for me to manage with how tired my legs felt. When we finally rounded the turn at the 13 mile mark I was pretty happy though. Just 13 more miles to go!  Somewhere around here too we ran into some friends of the girl's who really should get medals for greatest race spectators ever.  I think the fact that the girl's friend John has raced himself meant that he was a pro at guiding his family around the course to maximize the amount of places they could see and cheer everyone on.  It was great to see faces we knew along the course.  And speaking of that...   crowd support along the course is fantastic.  There were almost no stretches of empty road without people cheering us on.  There were garage bands playing outside in the neighborhoods, BBQs in people's front yards with music playing, regular old locals handing out orange slices and water along the course and just a fantastic amount of support out there.  Best of any race I've done so far.  Granted the Disney races had great support but so much of that had been arranged for by Disney.  These people were out there because they wanted to be!  Their support was really appreciated...  especially those at mile 20 and beyond who were fantastic at keeping us going!

The back half of the course is where the real challenge began. Miles 13-16 passed ok for all of us although i was quitely really struggling for a while there but once we hit mile 16 the girl started to struggle a bit. That was a particularly hard part of the course when there was no shade to be had, the temps were climbing into the mid fifties and the sun was pretty intense. Our quick first half (2:05) started to catch up to us and Daniel and I did our best to keep the girl happy and motivated. The next couple of miles were a bit rough and dull for all of us. I was feeling really tired at this point and the girl was tired and Daniel was fighting a giant blister and we were all getting ready for it to end. Then we passed the best aid station ever. One with freezer pops!!!! Best idea ever!!! We all grabbed one and the sugar rush and the cold of the popsicle were amazing. I was so happy! That one motivated us pretty much all the way to mile 22 or so and then we started to struggle a bit again. At this point our walking through aid stations was turning into walking a bit beyond them too and I think we all welcomed the walking. The girl at one point apologized for walking for a bit and all I could think was are you kidding me! I was psyched to be walking! I was hurting!

At mile 24 or so you have to climb a big ol hill in the form of a giant bridge that goes over some body of water or other. You can see this giant humped bridge for a good mile as you approach it all the while dreading it. I have to say that climb was the hardest part of the race for me. It's a long climb with no shade and right at the end of the race. We were beat and we ended up having to walk up some of it. But we stuck together and got each other to the top. Fortunately once we hit the top it was pretty much all downhill the whole way to the finish line which felt awesome!!! I was pretty psyched at that point.  There were a ton of what I think were sorrority girls on the bridge with some great signs and great cheers for everyone.  They were a great help too to get you over that last hump.  The signs were pretty funny too...

Daniel and I were checking our watches to see if we could still get the girl a PR. We lost a lot of time in the back half but we still had a shot at it. We both knew it was going to be close.  We did our best to get our girl across as fast as she had left in her legs. I have to say it was pretty amazing to be headed to a marathon finsih line with the girl. Ive never share a race like that with someone and it was pretty awesome to think we had run the entire distance at each others sides. Daniel and I both ran about ten feet in front of the girl as we got closer to the finish line in hopes she might surge ahead to catch us and get a PR.  As we approached the finish line we all joined hands, threw them in the air and crossed together. A fantastic end to a great race!
Pay special note to the pink compression socks!  Gotta love it!  Thats Daniel on the left, the girl in the middle, and me on the right.  Now heres the killer...    I knew the girl's marathon PR was something like 4:28 and change.  We were hoping for a 4:15 today but it just wasn't in the cards.  But we had a shot at setting a new PR.  My watch said 4:27 as we entered the finish chute.  So we did our best to hustle across in the finish line.  In the end we missed a PR for the girl by less than ten seconds!  I'm not sure how she feels about that... but you know what..  I still wouldn't change a thing about that day.  I had such an amazing time running 26.2 miles by her side and sharing that experience together that I wouldn't change anything about it.  Is there anything better than crossing the finish line with someone you love holding their hand and sharing that moment together?  The hug after we entered the chute was amazing.  Watching someone put a medal around her neck was just as great.  I know she's a little bummed about missing her time goal...  and I can certainly understand that perspective.  But I'm still grinning from ear to ear when I think about the weekend.

Here's the girl and I not long after the finish of the race.  I firmly beleive if we can run 26.2 miles together we can do anything together.  But I kind of knew that already before this race ever happened.  I bought my plane ticket to this race after we had only been dating a very short time.  Theres just something about her that I knew when we met that she's the one.  I just knew that several months from that time I'd want to be by her side on this race course.  So I love that five months later we crossed the finish line together.  I think we'll be crossing a lot of finish lines together... and I meant that metaphorically...   So baby...  love of my life...   my iron-babe.  I love you!  and I love that I was able to share that experience with you!  I can't promise you a PR...  but I can promise you a lifetime of being by your side.



I wrote most of this post the night of the race as I sat by the girls side.  She wasn't feeling very well after the race so as she slept I kept my eye on her and wrote this post.  However I'm finishing it from 3000 miles away from where I started it in LA.  We flew to Jacksonville on Friday, ran the marathon on Sunday, flew home on Monday night and got in around midnight.  I turned right around today (tuesday) and flew to LA at 6am on just a few hours sleep.  So now I'm in my hotel room finishing up this post and eating the dark chocolate covered almonds from the minibar that begged me to eat them.  Tomorrow a new day starts and it will be time to stop thinking about running and start focusing on biking and swimming and the start of the tri season.  I love that its only mid february and I've already knocked out a 5k, 1/2 marathon and two full marathons.  Thats kind of nuts.  But now its time to start looking forwards to the real goal of 2011.  Becoming an Ironman.  So many great things to look forward to in 2011.  I truly am blessed.  I'm really bummed to be out here in LA away from the girl right now...   but soon enough we'll be back together again and life will be good.  This is going to be a great year.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I've been very quiet this week on purpose....

I'm about to do something potentially stupid and I can't help myself.

I bet its gonna be fun though...

Its certainly going to make for a fun post...  

stay tuned....

In other news I'm gearing up for a brutal marathon stretch of gigs...  I'm pretty much not home for more than a couple of days at a time until early April.  I'm headed to...

Jacksonville, FL for a few days with the girl for some fun and then the work part starts...

Newport Beach, CA
West Palm Beach, FL
Orlando, FL
Boca Raton, FL
Dallas, TX

Its going to hurt... and be a long stretch of gigs.  And somehow I need to get my ass in gear and start swimming regularly again and getting on the bike and building up that fitness level again during all of this.  Fortunately the bike is coming with me on the Orlando/Boca run so I'll get lots of riding in then I hope if my work schedule cooperates.  We'll see though....   I do however plan on taking that whole time period off from running.  I need to keep letting my legs recover.  Speaking of which I went to see Nancy again yesterday for a massage.  This time I let her use as much pressure as she wanted and sucked it up.  I have to say the results are well worth it.  My legs feel better this morning than they have in a long time.  They have been so tight lately its been really annoying.  Speaking of which I forgot to take some ibu this morning.  Oops.  Ok... time for me to pack up this laptop and get my act together.  Lots to do before we head to the airport this afternoon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other!

Ignore the post title for a moment and lets backtrack to Sunday...   and then we'll get to what happened at Physical Therapy this morning.


Sunday I decided it was time to try a run out and see if I want to run the half marathon, full marathon, or not at all on this coming Sunday in Jacksonville with the girl.  If you go backwards in this blog you'll find me pondering about what to do with this race.  Whether to take it easy at Disney and try and PR Jacksonville, or what I was going to do.  Well when Disney got close I decided that there was no way I was gonna PR Jax so I should focus on Disney and figure out Jax later.  Well its now later so time to figure it out!  I took four weeks off from training after the Disney to heal up, and recover, and rest up and fight some early signs of overtraining.  Plus I realized I'd gone straight from the DC marathon into triathlons into the Goofy Challenge with no real rest and recovery break.  Oops.  So I took 4 weeks off.  So it was time to start training again and get moving.  So me being an idiot I decided I'd do an 8 mile run with the girl and see how I felt.  See the thing is that I can pretty much just run whatever whenever.  As long as I'm not focused on a particular pace.  At a slower pace I have pretty steady endurance and run fitness.  So taking a few weeks off after Disney and banging out a marathon at the Girl's pace (9:30s to 10s) is not out of the question for me.  So I wanted to run 8 and see what would happen.  The short answer is that my hamstring was ok, but not super happy about it.  I'm still not sure how I feel about yesterday's run.  Some of my discomfort was just shaking the rust off my legs.  Some of it may be something to be concerned about.  Not sure...   all in all it wasn't a bad run, but the girls slower pace felt somewhat challenging and that was very odd for me.  Not my usual super speedy pace that I tend to run after taking time off.  I finished the run thinking I'd wait till later this week to decide what I'm doing on Sunday.


Physical therapy....

This was my first appointment at the physical therapist.  I had no idea what to expect.  In my mind I was going there to learn some hamstring stretches and strength training excercises to equal the strength imbalance in my legs.  I figured that the PT would know what the Doc had asked for and that would be it.  Turns out the PT had other things in mind.  She pretty much gave me a brand new question and answer and then an extensive series of flexibility and other tests.  She said she had a hunch of what was going on.  So after fifteen minutes of stand here, lift that, bend that, twist that kind of stuff and then a bunch of tests done with me laying on a table she annouced her theory.  She says the reason for all my right leg troubles are that I've somehow managed to compress the length of my right leg to be shorter than the left leg by a 1/4" or so.  She then showed me this.  They do this thing where you square your hips and then lay your legs out and sure enough the right one is a tad higher than the left one.  Hmm....   odd.  Apparently this can happen in an instant during excercise or stepping in a pothole or coming down on one foot suddenly or over time.  The plus side is its fixable.  So she did some Mr. Miagi type mojo on it and voila...   its now the same length as the left leg.  Apparently this should in conjunction with some strength training magically fix all my issues in a matter of weeks.  And I can bike and swim as much as I want during this time.  Initially after she did the mojo thing to stretch my leg back out to normal size she almost had me run on it... but instead opted for the elliptical to play it safe.  She asked me if it felt better.  I think it did.  My hammy is still a little tender as it has been for weeks now so it was hard to tell if it was better or not.  I'll admit I'm skeptical that it will be this easy, but at the same time I'm also hopefull it will be this easy.  Time will tell.  So we made a bunch more appointments for PT going forwards and we'll see what happens.

So...   now what?

Well I still can't make up my mind about this weekend.  The girl is amazing and she thinks I'm superhuman and can do anything and if I want to run the full I should.  She will also however be super supportive if I decide not to.  I'm still not sure.  Some may argue I'm nuts to do it.  But it would be great fun to run with the girl and what a great vday present to each other to cross a marathon finish line together.  That would rock!  Plus I'm an idiot.  So theres that too.  As well as that theres loads of non running recovery time afterwards while I focus on strength and flexibility and biking and swimming. 

So my plan is to rest today, (although I may spin a bit and stretch tonight) and then hit the pool and do a three mile run tomorrow and see how I feel.  I'll then spin and run 4 on Wednesday and make my final decision about if I'm racing then.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Massage... It Does the Body Good!

I have just returned home from a fabulous massage from sports massage therapist Nancy Gillooly.  I've mentioned Nancy here before as we often train together and Nancy has been a great friend and resource to me as I've gotten involved in traithlon.  She has also been a constant voice of encouragement to me as I've progressed through the distances.  Anyway...   as I have a great relationship with another massage therapist that I met and started using before Nancy I had never actually been to see Nancy professionaly for a sports massage.  After some rest from the Goofy Challenge I decided it was time to go see Nancy and see what she could do to loosen my hamstring and calves up which are still quite tight and tender almost four weeks after the race now.

Nancy's based in an office building on the east side of providence in an office shared by several massage therapists.  Theres a nice waiting room and Nancy has a great office with plenty of natural light and an extremely comfy heated massage table.  I asked Nancy to focus on my legs for the entire session as they have been the source of all my troubles.  As always with a great massage the time passed way too quickly!  I was a little surprised by just how tender my calves still are.  Definitely cause for some regular yoga, stretching, and massage as I progress through my Ironman training. 

At the end of the session I left feeling like I'm turning the page on this chapter of time off and about to get serious about training again starting next week.  My legs feel a bit tender as they always do post massage but I know that they are going to feel much better tomorrow.  I'll definitely be going back to see Nancy in the future and I'd definitely recommend that if you are local to New England that you do too!  Nancy is herself a gifted athlete and specializes in working with athletes.  So she's not going to give you on of those fruity zen music in the background useless zero pressure massages.  (although I think she does offer several different types of massage therapy).

Simply put...   I shouldn't have put this off as long as I did post Goofy challenge.  Great massage...   I think I definitely need to factor some degree of regular massage going forwards with my training plan.  I'll certainly be the better for it!  I think I'll do much better as well if I do it proactively instead of waiting for everything to get all tight and messed up, I'll try and go well ahead of that time as yet another tool towards staying injury free in 2011!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In The Zone

So part of preparing to start training again this year is a serious effort to be more scientific about the whole thing and pay a lot more attention to training zones and periodization.  This is so that I can get the most bang for my training buck as well as do my best to stay strong and injury free.  So last night since I can't do any real training yet I spent some time looking at data from the end of my race season and using that as a base point to translate into heartrate training zones.  While I realize that my best bet is to start training again for 2-3 weeks and then retest, for now its the best I can do.

So I first started to look at heart rate zones on the bike.  Now some of you make fun of people like me who like to use garmins to track all their workouts and races.  But moments like these are the reason I do.  I was able to go back and look at all of last years data.  I looked specifically at the bike segments of sprint triathlons and all of the tuesday night time trial efforts and looked at my average heart rate data in order to establish a baseline for what my lactate threshold heart rate is so that I can use that to extrapolate training zones.  That data combined with the very helpfull charts, formulas and explanations in Gale Bernhardt's fabulous book "Training Plans for Multisport Athletes" and I was quickly inputting heart rate zones into my Garmin 800 for the bike.  Ms. Bernhardt details how to use training and race effort data to come up with the best approximations of training zones.  Very helpfull stuff!  And finally I wont be looking at my Garmin thinking I need to get around to properly configuring the heart rate zones.  Now I know its done.

Of course bike training zones are not the same for the run.  So I took a similar approach on the run.  I specifically looked at heart rate info from sprint triathlons and 5Ks done at an all out pace.  The heart rate data was very consistent in these efforts so its easy to determine your LTHR and use that to establish training zones.  That data then went into my running buddy known by the Girl as the "joy sucker" and to me as my true and trusted Garmin 310xt.

So with that data established there was one more test to do.  And this is one I want to start doing regularly so I can establish a baseline of data to look at longterm.  Resting heart rate is a very handy bit of data you can look at to establish long term trends of overtraining which is why I'm interested in it.  It can also be a measure of fitness to an extent as well.  So last night before going to sleep I started my Edge 800 up on the nightstand and put on the heart rate strap.  Why sleep in it?  Cause I can NEVER remember to take my heart rate in the morning before I get out of bed.  So I slept in it and let the Edge collect the data.  First thing in the morning I looked at the display and there it was...   resting heart rate of 56 BPM.  If you take that number and my age and start looking at charts of heart rates that BPM is right on the edge between what is considered "Exellent" and "Athlete".  So I'm on the top end of "Athlete" and the bottom end of "Excellent".  So I'll call that pretty damn good.  Of course this is only one data point.  So who knows if this is an elevated day or a low day?  Only time and regular testing will tell.  Still it was an interesting experiment.  Special thanks to the Girl for not laughing at me too much for wearing a heart rate monitor to bed and putting a bike computer on the nightstand.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sometimes The Girl Is Actually Right... Just Don't Tell Her I Said That

Sometimes you have to listen to someone despite not wanting to beleive a word they say even when you know its true.  Last week I decided I was ok to start training again just two weeks after the Goofy Challenge.  Just to be sure though I figured I'd start with a visit to the Sports Medicine folk.  They cleared me to swim and bike.  So that night I put my bike in the trainer and went for a sixty minute spin.  I felt good and it felt great to get on the bike again after a bit of a layoff.  I decided I'd get back in the pool the very next morning and get the 2011 season kicked off right.

That morning I woke up feeling exhausted.  I struggled to get out of bed despite going to bed early (a pattern lately) and missed my window to swim at the Y.  Thats ok though...  I figured I'd hit the lunchtime lap times at the Y in Providence as I was headed up there that day anyway.  So at lunch I dragged myself to the Y.  I was a bit hesitant getting in the pool as I always am after a lay off but I went for it anyway and told myself to suck it up.  I know once I get back in my pool groove I'll start to like the pool again.  So I got in the pool and went about my workout.  It started with a 200 Warmup.  No big deal.  Got through that.  I didn't feel great, but I got it in.  Then started an 8x50's on 1:15s.  Which means I get about 25 seconds rest after each 50 which is great.  Plenty of time to recooperate between 50s.  I have to say though that I didn't feel great and I was getting cumalitively more tired with each 50.  From there it was on to 3x100's done as 75 easy, ten second rest, 25 Sprint, fifteen second rest, and repeat.  I made it through that set and got out of the pool.  I was done.  Exhausted.  I simply ran out of energy.  I bonked for no reason.  I had plenty of calories in my body but I just didn't have any energy left.  I was confused and angry and annoyed but I got out of the pool and decided I'd just have to swim better the next day.

That night when the girl got home from work we talked about my swim workout.  And then the conversation broadened.  The girl suggested that two weeks wasn't enough time off of the cumulative effect of the goofy challenge starting up right after a very busy tri season that started right after the DC marathon.  Looking back I realized I never took any time off last year into this year.  So maybe she was right?  She suggested I had many of the symptoms of overtraining.  So we went online and looked those up.  According to Wikipedia they are...

Overtraining may be accompanied by one or more concomitant symptoms:


So which of those do I have?

Muscle soreness - Yep.
Persistent Fatigue - Yep (Apparently I've been telling the girl "I'm tired" for the last three months)
Elevated resting heart rate - I don't know...   which reminds me.  I need to measure that soon and regularly.
Reduced heart rate variability - not sure, but don't think so.
Increased Susceptibility to infections - fortunately no
Increased incidence of injuries - yep.  Lots of nagging ones going on now
Irritability - yep
Depression - somewhat, but it comes and goes.  Currently mostly at the fact I'm not training.
Mental Breakdown - I have had a lot of trouble focusing lately.  So maybe?

Anyway...  thats roughly 50-60% of the key symptoms which is enough to make me admit that perhaps I'm on a dangerous road if I don't sit back and take some time off.  So I decided that the botched swim session and me still feeling really tired means I need to take two more weeks off.  So thats the new plan and why I've been quiet.  I have been doing absolutely nothing training wise.  Just resting up and waiting....    although I did do one other spin workout that night with the girl.  I just did an easy hour on the bike.  Mostly as I needed to think and I think well when training.  So on the spin bike is when I decided to knock it off for another two weeks.  That will make my time off about 4 weeks off since the Disney and I'll start back up with some biking and swimming.  I will also give a shot at casually running the marathon in Jacksonville if I feel up to it.  But only at an easy pace and for fun.  Not for time or anything.  I'd say the odds of me doing the full are slim, the half 50/50 and just standing there cheering is what will probably happen.  I'll give a shot at running in another week and see how I do.

So what else have I been up to?  Well I was supposed to be getting a sports massage from my friend, training partner and gifted sports massage therapist Nancy today.  But a nasty winter storm had other ideas...  so now I'll do that on Friday.  I was also supposed to go to Phsyical therapy on Wednesday to learn some new stretches but that had to move to next monday due to the same storm.  So I think today I'll do ten easy minutes on the bike to warm up my legs later and then do some streches and thats it.  My hamstring still feels tight and I don't think its going to heal itself unless I start stretching it.  So thats the plan...   just some light stretches and a brief slow yoga session and we'll call it good for the day.

So how else do I know the girl was right?  well I generally can't sleep more than about 6-7hours.  This weekend I went to New Jersey to visit my folks and on both days I slept between 9-10 hours.  So clearly there is some cumulative exhaustion going on here and my body needed to rest and catch up.  So hopefully this down time and easy ramp up will go a long way to having a great season in 2011.  I'm a little dissapointed that my cycling and swimming have not made more progress this offseason as thats what I was really hoping for, but lesson learned in that you can't go and run a winter marathon and make great progress in the offseason as well as go into the new season feeling rested.

So as well as learning some lessons I've also been continueing to gear up for the 2011 season.  The bike is just about done now.  The second to last addition came in the other day in the form of a Garmin 800 bike computer that I'm really excited to play with as it has much better power monitoring than the Garmin 310xt as well as a nice built in navigation feature so I wont get lost on long training rides and my SRAM S60 wheel is having a power tap installed in it as we speak.  So soon I'll be training with power.  As well as that a couple more training books came in to teach me about how to train with power and more thoughts on ironman training plans.  So were almost there.

So at least we're on the path to a great season.  I just hope I can get moving forwards again soon and get things off to a great start.