Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Great Christmas!

I hope everyone had as awesome a Christmas as I did. What was so great about my Christmas, you ask? Mrs. Bigun and I did just about as close to nothing as we could - we relaxed! And that made it great. First thing X-mas morning we scored some great presents - actually, we had some coffee first.

I think I've finally learned how to make coffee. We don't do the "regular" coffee very well - we drink the fu-fu kind - I think we had some variety of Creme Brulee - but for years, Mrs. Bigun was in charge of making the coffee. Then I was learned in that for every 2 cups you scoop in 1 tablespoon of ground coffee. Once I had that down, and somehow that took a while, I was able to participate in the coffee making. I'm still forever banned from margaritas, and that's a good thing (I make horrible margaritas - I just don't blend). Then we grabbed our largest coffee mugs, poured in our flavored, vanilla creamer (we're a bit over the top, I know) and commenced to playing Santa.

Mrs. Bigun did an awesome job this year - as a Tri-fan, she looks at triathlon differently than we participants do. She sees the things we struggle with that are not necessarily training-related, and remembers. I walk by some emergency lighting at the store and don't give it a second thought; she sees it and remembers how much we struggle putting air in our tires in the dark, and how crummy the lighting is in transition areas. So I got some cool lights. And some neat coozies that hold 6-packs and big water bottles. And she also remembers the time we left the light on in the truck, ran the batteries down and no one had jumper-cables...so now I have a nifty car emergency kit. And work shoes. And an air-tool kit. My Brother-in-Law gave us a most-awesome gift - 2 plane tickets anywhere on Delta - so our flights to San Fransisco for Escape just got taken care of - thanks Bro!

After playing Santa, we commenced to doing nothing again. Di watched "A Christmas Story", again (if I hear, "you'll shoot your eye out" one more time...) - her favorite Christmas show, and my sister and her husband came over for lunch. We sat around (the theme for the day) and watched a couple more movies, and then they left. We were going to go bring some gifts over to our friend's house, but, well, we were just enjoying doing nothing.

Then I got a small hit of motivation, probably from remembering that I'm in on that SlowTwitch Virtual Christmas Camp, and went for an hour run. We were fortunate to get a small break from the rain, 'cause after that hour, it started raining again, like it had all day. If it were only 50 degrees colder, it would have been a white Christmas for us. Luckily (for us...) the tornado hit about 20 miles north of us...that would have made for a crummy Christmas for sure! The news said it damaged around 80 homes...So, now it's back to work, already - I really hope all of you had as great a Christmas as I did and are looking forward to burning off all of these X-mas calories and extra lbs as I am!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Jury's Out

After much careful thought and consideration, I've determined that I'd be an absolute fool NOT to go and do the Escape from Alcatraz. Thanks to all who commented on the race - everyone was in agreement and concurred that this is an important and awesome race. I'm pretty excited about it, although its hard not to be a little stressed out by the whole idea of it.

First the logistics of traveling cross country and 3 time zones to race. We're figuring on getting there the prior Wednesday to allow for plenty of jet-lag reduction. I read its also best to get there and try to acclimate to the water temp a bit - that gives me 4 days to jump in the water and get used, somewhat, to the cold. Looking at last year's pictures, it looks like at least 1/2 of the folks diving in off the San Fransisco Belle had the extra warm caps with chin straps on - I'll bet that I can make that determination (to buy one or not) once I get in the water on that Wednesday.

Do I ship my bike or do I go and get bike luggage and bring it with me on the plane? I'll be traveling to Chicago for the Chicago Olympic Tri too, so I'd manage to use a bike carrier more than once this year, but I don't know. You guys and gals with experience shipping your bikes could really help me out here with suggestions or experiences.

Mrs. Bigun is a city girl at heart; she's pretty psyched about the sightseeing opportunities and things to do right in that area. My cycling buddy, lets call him Bacon (worse yet, he's Canadian...) and Mrs. Bacon will be joining us as they love San Fran. I've found a hotel with some great reviews right up the road from the transition area - and it's "only" $110 a night.

My training attitude has changed overnight - today, given the choice of a good swim or good bike, I chose the swim. Neither were as planned, but I only had time for either a good bike and crappy or no swim, or a good swim and a really short bike. I'm just a little intimidated by this Alcatraz swim - is it obvious. The great thing about this will be working out one of those limiters - a weakness will become, well, not so weak - unfortunately I've started this swim thing so late in life that I can only reasonably hope to be a mediocre swimmer. Today's swim was pretty cool - I had a 1000m swim planned, and did it in 19:45. That's a 1:48/100yd pace - not too shabby for me - and I have flip turns to thank for that.

I ran into an old friend who's a biker - he leads a hilly 60m ride every Sunday morning just north of here - he promised to e-mail me the details Friday. Hopefully it's not too bad a training faux-paux to mix in some hill work with my base rides during the week. I've already noticed a huge increase in biking fitness in a few long weeks of base riding - today I was pressed for time to bike this loop and get out of the park before my car was locked in. So, I "stretched" my base HR up to around 140 - 142 range and rode between 19.5 and 20.5 in that range - that's a good 10bpm lower than where I was 2 months ago on the same loop. Granted, I only rode 12.5 miles right after the swim, but I'm still psyched with the progress.

The running, well, that's a bigger hill for this climber. I'm thinking the only way I'm gonna get any faster is to lose a bunch of weight. At 250, I'm just not going to see big gains in speed. I need to drop 20 lbs this winter if I'm realistically going to drop below, say, 9:00/mile for a 20k run. Once the new year gets by us, with all the food and drink distractions, I'll hit that project head on.

On a personal non-training note, the Bigun and Mrs. Bigun just celebrated our 13 year wedding anniversary! Hard to believe she's stuck with me this long. Here's to another 13...and more! Love ya, honey...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

When it rains....

Oh crap! Now what do I do? On a whim, I put my name in the hat for the real deal - the Escape from Alcatraz on June 3rd in San Fransisco, and guess what - I won the lottery! I've never won any lottery ever, and really never expected to get the slot. But how cool would it be do swim that bay and finish this race?


Gosh, this would mean scratching the Rock and RollMan completetly....not a big deal. This would mean a June vacation in a really cool city that Mrs. Bigun really likes. This would mean really, really really ramping up my swim volume! First the OneOenO (now you can see why they make the second "one" backwards - the two "O's" togeather is much less cooler) and now this - talk about flexible planning.


What do you think - stay in my comfort zone and continue to march ("charlie-mike!") on the current plan, or start really busting hump and preparing for the 101 AND Escape from Alcatraz? These are really cool problems to have - with my luck going this way, I should pony up and spend the $35 to register for the Kona Lottery - good grief, then I'd have to go and find a M-Dot half to check the block to go to Kona - again, a nice problem to have.

Friday, December 15, 2006

one o one

I've been reading a lot about this race - and it's got a bunch of merits. First - with the Bradenton location, it's really close to home - no-need-for-a-hotel close. That means a big savings of course, and the logistics is less headache forming. Second, it will be pancake flat, the water will be warm, if not wetsuit legal, and the run will be good and flat too. Third, I'm confident that I could complete it right now, today, if I had to (although the 18.6 mile run would not be much fun today...). Forth, it's "only" $300 (before Feb 5th, so I have plenty of time to decide - I don't think this one will sell out...). Fifth, there's a relatively short recovery period following the race. Everyone says that the Ironman race really starts at 80 miles and 20 miles on the run - so its not a crusher. Sixth - its the inaugural race - pretty cool to be in the first of something.

Then there's the bugs. First - it's the inaugural race - so there's bound to be plenty of hiccups, right? Second, I'm racing hard at St. Anthony's the week before. But, that could just be a hard brick for a race of this length - actually, it's an easy brick. I could taper for the week following St. Anthony's, right? But is a week enough of a taper for this length of race - probably not. So third, I can't fit in a long enough taper. Fourth, that's a lot of racing in a short amount of time - 2 weeks later I'm in the Mad Dog Sprint, and then 2 weeks after that I'm in the Rock and RollMan Half. That's a lot of racing.

I'll admit, too, that I've not been a proponent of this race since I heard of it. But it's growing on me. I'm starting to look at it like a race, and not comparing it to an Ironman. I've learned that it takes less time to recover from, and it looks like it will have a pretty good Pro turnout - and that makes a race neat. I guess I'm considering it because it's there. I would have been content with 2 half-iron distance races this year, dammit - then all you blog-friends had to go and do Ironmans last year (and this year too). This 101 would be a good litmus test for the Iron-distance, like say, the GFT in October instead of the Florida Challenge....I'm a gluten for punishment.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Flip Turns

I've had two more swim workouts since starting doing Flip Turns, and the big guy still is having some troubles. I can tell this is going to be a process. At the shallow end today I missed the wall at least 5 times (did 50m laps today) - boy that takes the wind out of your sails quick! I just could not get the timing down, until I finally noticed something. Every time I did a good turn (well, one in which my feet hit the wall) I was able to just barely see the black cross on the wall before excecuting my turn. I swim with my head pointing straight at the bottom of the pool - so using that cue for the second half of my 1500m swim today, I was able to flip with very few miss-que's.

I wish I had better results to report to those of you still not flipping yet. I have not given up on flips, as much as I dread them. At least in the long lane (50m) swim, I have plenty of time to think about swimming before breaking concentration and thinking about what I'm going to do about flipping. Yesterday I did 1,400 yds in a 25m pool - that was a challenge! Flip, take a couple of strokes, not enough to get into a rythem, and then try and flip again.

It's not all bad, however. Today's 1500m swim took exactly 32:41 - a new PR for me, at a 1:59 pace per 100 yds. I'll be dangerous once I get these turns down. If all goes well, I have a really good chance of breaking the 10,000 yd mark for the week, which would be another PR for swimming for me. The next piece of advise I'll use from Coach Mike (admittedly "free" advise, for which I'm grateful and feeling a little bit guilty) will be to add 100m of hard pulling to every 500m, so that I get 4 "sprints" in every 2k. I worked that into my bike yesterday and was very pleased to see how quickly my HR went from 165 - 170 back down to 130. Good Stuff!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Flip Turns

Because Coach Mike says so. Well thanks Coach, really. No, I mean it. I decided that today was the day I started doing flip turns. Luckily I was at the pool.

Not knowing "jack" about flip turns, other than you start facing one direction and are supposed to finish facing in the other direction, I was sort of scared at the prospect of doing flip turns. First, you have to hold your breath a bit longer. Second, from the one time I tried before, you get water up your nose. But third, and most importantly, you look like a dork every time you screw it up.

And look like a dork I did. There were a few standard categories of bad flip turns that I did in my 45 attempts today - let me share them with you.

1) "Air-ball" - this was by far the most popular of my flip turns. This is when you start too early, do the flip, push out with your legs and get nothing but water. That's gotta look pretty darn stupid from above, but I played it off pretty good by pushing off the bottom (for some reason this only happened to me in the shallow end) and continuing on my merry way.

2) "Going deep" - this is an annoying little bugger - this is when you push off at a very steep downward angle and since you are already low on air and a bit amped about trying something new, you tend to break the surface of the water, finally, with a huge and loud gulping-for-air sound. Probably not as dorky as #1, but still plenty of entertainment value. This only happens to me in the deep end, of course.

3) "Howdy Neighbor" - down here in the south we're a friendly bunch - sometimes too friendly! These flip turns find you unexpectedly in the lane to your right or left (or at least breaking the surface with the turn lane marker hitting the top of your head). Fortunately the pool had cleared out save for the therapy guy in the wide lane - so except for the life guard, who had nothing to do but watch my comedy show - I was all alone.

4) "Deep Squat" - quite the opposite from the "Air Ball", the Deep Squat takes you very close to the wall - read, any closer and you'd be sitting on the wall - and pushing off makes your rebuilt ACL creek. You'd better hope you are pointing in the right direction with this one, because you're about to be there in a hurry. Combining the "Deep Squat" with the "Going Deep" will get you oxidized real quick (or whatever Coach Mike said one of the benefits of flip turns is, duh). Luckily I never came so close to the wall that I rapped my heels on the top lip - I was really afraid of that, so that's why I probably did more Air-balls then Deep Squats.

I purposefully went to the 50-m pool today so that I wouldn't have to do 90 flip turns in my first time out. By the, oh, 43rd turn I think I was getting the hang of it. My advise for anyone new to flip turns and completely uncoached, unsupervised and uncoordinated - just know that the first 40 times you try to flip turn, you'll wind up with one of the 4, and quite possibly make up a few of your own (oh yes, there are variations of the above, like the "This little Piggie" turn, where you barely get one toe to touch the wall and get about a milli-watt of push off)...the key is to be pretty confident that you won't drown (I'm not guaranteeing that, mind you) and eventually you'll get the hang of it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Race Change


Well, it's official - no more Florida 1/2 Ironman 70.3 for me. I caved - granted, it's pretty cool and I'm happy about the change - but I caved nonetheless. Instead of the half on May 20th, we'll be doing the Mad Dog Sprint Tri, and then 2 weeks later we'll be heading up to Macon Georgia to do the Coliseum Rock & RollMan Triathlon - a half that has gotten some pretty good reviews.

I'm happy for 2 reasons - the Mad Dog Tri is my favorite race so far, and it's got a Beer Truck. The Rock & Roll also has a Beer Truck and is sponsored by Outback - except for, maybe, Hooter's Girls, what could be better? Looking back at '06, I think I've been taking these races a bit too seriously - I didn't drink enough beer in '06. Believe it or not, the Mad Dog and St. Anthony's were the only 2 races that had Beer at them out of 10 races that we did. I need to do a better job at picking races.




My tri-sherpa is ecstatic - http://clydesdalestriharder.blogspot.com/2006/12/fast-times-at-madeira-beach.html - our partying last year continued long after the tent was taken down at the local martini establishment. We drank fu-fu drinks well into the afternoon! With any luck, our racing partners, Luke and Erika and baby Nora (well, Nora's 2 now, almost losing baby-status) will be able to go again, and our friends from Michigan, Lil Clyde and his wife Carrie (he calls me Big Clyde) will come for his first Tri. This is a great first tri but it sets the bar pretty high for other future triathlons.


So, no M-dot races this year, half or otherwise. I'll have to wait to taste the mystique of the WTC until next year, but that's not so bad a thing. I may be at the start of a personal trend - "Go Local" - support the "little guy" - shun the big, bad Walmart of the triathlon community. Or, we may be seeing you at IMFL in '08. Who knows?


As a side note - the RaceAthlete committee for future RA Races should really start to think hard of which Iron-distance race will be the official RA race of '08. If it's going to be a early '08 race, as soon as the '07 season starts, like with IM Arizona on April 15th - we won't have too long to decide if that's going to be "the one"....and that's only about 5 months away...

Pre-hurt

I hate to be a woosie. If I wasn't 42 and been through this a dozen or more times, I'd ignore it and keep on a-truck'in. But I know now that I'm on the verge of an injury, and it really sucks because I'm also right in the middle of this M-F x 6 weeks swim commitment. My left shoulder is giving me a heck of a time - a soreness that goes beyond sore from working out. I really felt it Thursday on my long(ish) bike - in the aero bars, I was fine - it was sitting up out of the bars that hurt.

I could continue to soldier on - it doesn't hurt that bad yet. But there's the kicker - yet. Maybe as an "endurance" athlete, I'm finally in tune with my body and training enough to sense good and bad pain - or perhaps I'm just not as stubborn as I used to be. Plus, it's the "off" season - and this is a base phase - the intensity is low, and anything left unaccomplished can be accomplished next week - hopefully.

So it's Saturday and this shoulder is still sore - not hurt - just sore. So I'll woosie onward until Monday and probably feel great for my swim, but still feeling guilty for my lack of stick-with-it-ness.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Schedule Difficulties

Our favorite race of '06 was the Madeira Beach Mad Dog Sprint Tri - what a good time! Nice course, out and back run half on the beach, gorgeous day in the sun, but what really made it was the BEER TRUCK! There was also a band, under a tent, with all the vendors - just a class act all around. I was on my schedule as a must do event for '07 - and then the Mad Dogs released the date for '07 - May 20th. May 20th!

Well, May 20th also happens to fall on my "A" race - the Florida 70.3 - which in my mind is still an "A" race and must do event. My darling wife, however, is of a different mind. Unfortunately, our friends who race with us will be on vacation in Mexico in May, and would not be able to do the race with us this year, so it looks like the 70.3 is a go - if I can scrounge up the $200 before the registration closes....

It's shaping up to be a big race. I like to keep tabs on the Clydesdales, of course, and there are currently 28 signed up for the 40+ group. I'll have to do a pre-race rundown of the top competitors based on prior performances - after the registration closes, I'll start working on that. Off the top of my head, a couple of guys - Larry Witt and John Cornish - are signed up and can usually bring it.

I'm really not happy about missing the Mad Dog Tri this year - I hope that next year they can work it out with Madeira Beach to schedule a day that doesn't conflict with a big race on the same day. That has to be hugely difficult for any RD, and I don't blame him for what is completely out of his control. (I wrote to the president of the Mad Dogs, Tim Hudson, who was nice enough to write me back and explain how the town could only let them schedule a race for that weekend this year...) I hope they have a good turnout this year again, and continue to put on a fantastic race.

Bummer

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Run Down

I'm good and tired today after my swim. I can't hardly figure it, but really, I just ran a 1/2 Marathon this Sunday, so I guess I have an excuse. What was the best thing about the race - well, the shirt of course! This is a very cool black, long sleeve, COOLMAX shirt (thats Chornie, BTW - she came to the race too and had way more fun than me)! I can finally wear a long-sleeve shirt on my colder bike rides and not be all dorked out in that stupid long-sleeve t-shirt I have (trust me, most of you would not be caught dead in it...except for maybe Bold).


The race was an experience for me - I'm no runner, so things like Marathons or 1/2 Marathons are not at the top of my most favorite thing to do list. But I want to be a better runner - I WILL be a better runner (or in true goal setting form, I am a better runner) - so this was put on the schedule and was my last race of 2006.


I started out strong and at a decent pace for the big guy. By mile 6.5 the Garmin had me at 9:47, and my HR was staying in the low 160's. My strategy was to go "easy" to the half way point, assess the situation, and hopefully pick it up from there. I felt good, so I thought I'd go for it and start picking people off. I was shooting for between 9:00 and 9:15 for the way back, and was working hard to keep myself there. My HR immediately shot up over 170 and hung in there at 174 for most of the rest of the race. I had my sights set on this couple way up there, a red shirt and a blue shirt, and started at 'em. I got right on their heels at 10.2 miles, and while everyone else let me pass, these two would put up a fight - which was short lived. On my part. My wheels flew off at 10.3 and there was no spare.


One thing about this race - yes, cool shirt - but really crummy aid stations. We are spoiled at a Tri - this race - haphazard station placement - not set up at the typical mile markers, and nothing from the start until mile 2 - which meant nothing on the way back during the last 2 miles. No ice - and it was warm that day. Gatoraide at only 2 stations. No gels - ahhh, no need for all the negativity - it was my own fault, I should have packed a gel or two.


I limped back in those last 3 miles between 10:20 and 11:40 per mile - it was ugly. I had to bear the sight of my average pace drop from the 9:43 I had worked it down to, to the 10:04 I ended up with. I really wanted to see where the bottom was - what I was capabable of in a run without a mile swim and 56 mile bike warmup, and I found out. I've got a month or so until the next half, with plenty of running between now and then. I'll break that 2 hour mark yet.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Litter-bugs

I was fuming today on the way back to work from my noon-er (that's a noon swim...). Driving impossibly slow behind Mr. and Mrs. Old, I see it happening. It's almost in slow motion. The passenger window comes down, her hand raises up to the glass, and a blue wrapper - like a bag of chips or something, goes screaming by my truck, lost in the wind. They had to see my gestures as I scolded them thoroughly from the front seat of my truck. I was only inches from their bumper as my arms flailed about telling my passenger how much I hate littering. I've got a feeling, though, that they continued about their day, blissfully and uncaring of an act they've probably repeated innumerable times in their 60+ years.

Conversely, the inside of my truck looks like a trash heap today. Not only does nothing go out the window, but it takes days - even weeks sometimes for garbage to leave my truck and make it to the trash can. I've still got the folding chairs from the race this weekend - heck, the goodie bag from registration is still on the back seat. Sweaty clothes, now dry, but not smelling very good, are on the rubber mats - it's a mess. I need to do something about that and tomorrow is a day off work - in addition to doing bills, laundry, cleaning up the house and going on a longish bike ride and swim - I'll clean the truck too. So much for sleeping in....

Friday, December 01, 2006

A little cash outlay...

Well, it's started already...I've got 4 races paid for the '07 season! Sommersports has early registration bennies for thier Tri-America Tri Series and for the Florida Challenge 1/2 - so I took advantage of those and saved $50. That first race will be a cool distance - 2K swim, 60k bike and 15k run - a little over an Olympic and little under a 1/2. I'm looking forward to it - being a slow-poke, the longer the race the better it seems.

Then I had to shell out big bucks for St. Anthony's. A day early, they had a special to sign up for 2 races - St. Anthony's and Morton Plant Meese Sprint - which I had planned on doing anyway. I don't see where it was a price break, but I was able to avoid the Dec 1 mad rush to register for SA.

So the tally for '07 so far is a whopping $140 for SA, $65 for the Sprint (high, yes, but its a charity race, supposedly...), $125 for the 1/2 and $75 for the Olympic+/Half-...$405 duckies. I still have the Florida 70.3 to the tune of $200, the Mad Dog Tri for $45, Chicago Tri 's $120 before the end of the year, and Sand Key Sprint for another $50. That's another $400 and change - this is alot more painful when you spell it out - last year I didn't do this drill!

I'm also up for a new pair of running shoes - I'm well over my recommended shoe mileage of 300 miles - 417 miles to be exact. That's just asking for trouble. Maybe after this 1/2 Mary this weekend, I'll spring for a new pair - there's another $110 down the triathlon tubes.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What it takes

I'm not trying to be a whiner here, but I found out tonight at my 2nd of 30 swim workouts in 30 days that my primary pool will be closed for 2 weeks for resurfacing (I was informed while getting out tonight that I had the dubious distinction of being the last swimmer to use the pool until the refurbished one is unveiled). Now I haven't seen the movie, probably because of the mixed reviews, mostly bad, that complain of the movie being a sob fest about Reid's broken marriage. Still, the review I read explained that the title "What it Takes" comes from doing whatever it takes to reach your goals.

So now I'm forced into applying that same axiom - and I shouldn't complain as I have 2 other options for YMCAs within a 20 mile radius from my home. The one that closed, however, was just 3 miles away. After December 4th they all go to winter hours, which makes the goal even tougher. I've already planned to modify the goal slightly since a swim on Sunday, due to pool hours and my work schedule, is next to impossible. In keeping within the spirit of 30 in 30, I just have to double up one day during the week.

Even after 2 of these swims in a row, I'm already noticing a difference in my swimming. I seem to be finding a rhythm faster, and am able to keep it longer. My pace is purposefully slow and steady so that I can keep my HR and breathing under control, and to make sure that the workout is repeatable! I don't want to get fried 4 days into this. Don't laugh - day one's swim was 2100 yards continuous in 46:05 and tonight's was the same distance in 47:56. I honestly am not 100% on the distance - I noticed tonight especially that I lost count a few times and probably swam more than the 42 laps I was counting. I miss the long lanes of the pool 20 miles away - less counting!

Tonight I was vexed by a dude who shows up about 15 laps into my workout and jumps in the lane next to me - up until then I had the pool to myself (go figure on a Saturday night...). He proceeds to lap me continuously and soundly. Granted, he was long gone by the time I was finished, but I was tempted to pick up the pace, thus ruining my "base" type workout plan, thus proving the theory that base training is best conducted alone. Fighting that urge distracted my lap counting, but who really knows how many laps you swim?

I'll test that theory again tomorrow morning when I meet up with Greg for a casual 50 miler out at Flatwoods before work. Depending on how work goes, my plan is to finish out the week with a run of some distance, hopefully 8 miles or more. All base miles. All dreadfully dull. All according to the plan. Trust the plan.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day

Wow, it's finally here - my favorite eating day of the year! My lovely bride is in the kitchen mixing up some pies and stuffing to take over to our friend's house for dinner. Dinner can't come too soon, but we aren't going over until 4pm - what to do until then? Well, there's plenty to do, of course. I've already been to the store twice to pick up groceries and cleaning supplies. I knocked out a 6-miler base run first thing, and since then have been cleaning up around the house. It's amaizing how much stuff you can find that needs throwing out when you put some time into cleaning up! We both work crazy hours and with training are generally too beat when we come home to do anything more than cook and clean the kitchen. Of course that's everyone's story....

So this is a wish to everyone who reads my new blog - Happy Thanksgiving - and to all the folks on Team RaceAthlete - eat well and train hard and have a great Turkey Day - you deserve it!!!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Base Run Training


I have a question to all your runners out there: How do you "base" train when it comes to running? This morning I woke up to my premier workout of my new season's base phase. It could not have come sooner! I think I was going through a mild depression there for a while - a post-partum/race funk that was really bringing me down. I tapered for 2 weeks for the 1/2 Ironman race, then took a week off completely afterward, so really, except for the big effort of the race, I haven't hardly trained for 3 weeks. I think that depressed me. Anyway....

This morning's run was a lackluster, one-foot-in-front-of-the-other snoozefest for 6 miles and an hour and ten minutes. I averaged 141 for my HR - figuring my max HR is 184, that's 77% of max - which is still probably a bit high for the normally accepted "70% of max HR" consistent with base training. I set my Garmin to show current and average HR and not even display pace, so that was a nice surprise when the "run" was done. I think one of the things taken from the run is that I have to slow it down even more to get my average to 130. There may be some factor out there for big guy running that makes it impossible for a 245 lb guy to move without upping his HR to over 130, but if there is, I haven't found it yet.

So is it as simple as running for an hour and trying to stay steady and keep your HR down? Gosh I hope so. Tomorrow has a 60-mile bike ride on the schedule - and I'll have to really concentrate to keep the HR near 130 for the whole thing. Luckily the route is especially flat, so the HR spikes that come with hill work won't be a factor - now I just have to get lucky with the wind.

The plan is to put in a 3-week base period, then put in an easy week, followed by another 3-week base period. Its difficult to set a goal for where I want to be after those 6 - 8 weeks because staying strictly base, the goal has to be expressed in terms of pace at a base HR. I can wish for a drop in pace from the current 11:39 min/mile at 141 avgHR to, say, 10:00 min/mile at 135 avgHR, but since I'm in completely unknown territory here, it's any one's guess as to what's reasonable and to how my body will adapt to the training. All I can do is commit to the training, stay disciplined as to HR, and hope for the best.

If any of you have any base training advise or experience, I'd be happy to hear about it!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Miami-Man Bling




I finally put took a couple of photos of the Miami-man finisher's medal and the 1st Place Trophy - pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Training Goals for '07 Season

Well, the ’06 Triathlon season is in the can. Finished. Ka-putski! Now’s the time we are supposed to sit and reflect and make some goals for the next season. 2007 - it’s going to be a great year!

First, let’s reflect. Since my season ended with the Miami-Man ½ Iron race, lets go back to last year’s season ender, the Miami-Man International held on the same day. Between then and now was my ’06 Season. In those 52 weeks, I did this much training:

Swim: 168,416.4 yds
Bike: 2,984.2 miles
Run: 581.5 miles

This translates to an average weekly volume of 3,239 yards of swimming, 57 miles of biking and only 11 miles of running. That equates to about 1.1 hrs of swimming @ 2 min per 100 yds (ug…), 2.85 hrs of biking @ 20 mph, and 1.1 hrs of running @ 10 min/mile, for a total of 5 hrs a week. And there-in lies the focus – find ways to increase the volume and quality of my training.

So what’s reasonable? Doubling my mileage is certainly a lofty goal, but is it practical? Well, I think so.

Bike first: It wasn’t until May in my season this year when I finally felt strong enough on the bike to put in 100 mile weeks. I wasn’t real consistent with that – shoot; I only put in nine weeks that were at or over 100 miles. I bike on my days off – and for most of the season I thought that a 25 mile bike ride was a good ride. At some point I decided to become a better biker, and my minimum light ride became 25 miles, with most of my rides becoming 50 miles. I’ve got enough time on Sunday mornings to ride 50 to 60 miles before work, and with a long ride on Tuesdays (60 to 100 miles) and a easy ride on Thursday, all weeks should crest 100 miles. I will ride over 5,000 miles in ’07. I’ve come to enjoy biking a whole lot more, and with a disciplined base period, my time goals of rolling over 22mph for an Olympic race and longer can become a reality.

The swim next: just over 3,000 yards a week equates to 3 days of 1000 yards each. Pretty crummy. No wonder why I’m always coming out of the water towards the back of the pack. It truly is time to step it up. The day after Thanksgiving I’m starting the 30 day / 30 swim program – thanks Iron Pol (that’s, like, next week already…jees!) – and I’m planning on going for 2k swims each session. I’m going to start out easy, and figure that by the end of a month, I’ll have a solid aerobic swim base to kick it into high swim gear. I will swim 250,000 (a quarter million) yards in ’07. I flirted with 100m sprints this past season, and could really feel some gains after just a couple of workouts, but then gave up on them. After this base period, I’ll work those in as well.

The run: saving the best for last. Just looking at that 11 miles per week gives me “agida”. How in the heck can I hope to run sub 9 for 13 miles with an average run volume of 11 miles per week? I can’t. Now that I’ve started including a long run in each week of training, my recent averages have increased – from August until now I’ve had 6 weeks over 15 miles – a good trend that needs to continue to increase. I will run 1,100 miles in ’07. I know that increased run volume increases the risk of injury, so I’ll be careful not to go nuts, but I’ve got to work to get that number up over 20.

Reasonably, my ’07 season should have my average weekly volume at:

Swim: 5,000 yds.
Bike: 100 miles
Run: 20 miles

This would equate to about 3 hrs of swimming, 5 hrs of biking and 3.5 hrs (or less) of running, for a total of 11.5 hrs per week of training. So how do I more than double my average training time this season and still work and keep my bride happy? For one thing, add morning training to my schedule. That’s right, folks, I almost NEVER get up early to train. Waking up an hour early in the morning for a swim or run would net me 3 - 4 more hours of training a week. Only 3 you ask? I have the luxury of choosing my days off, working in retail sales like I do, so I generally take off on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then have Sunday morning for an additional workout, not having to be at work until noon. So I bike long on Tue, Thu, and Sunday (and remember, “long” for me has evolved considerably this season), I have Mon, Wed and Fri for an early run workout, and a long-lane lunch swim. Saturdays are always off days (except for the 30/30 swim challenge period). Fridays are my long run days, so I’ll get up extra early and put in the miles.

The weight: you know, I’ve always taken the stand that if I put in the time, the weight will come off. And so far it has, but lately it’s been coming off slower and slower. Which isn’t bad, mind you. I get into these plateaus where I’ll be at 260 for a while, then bam, drop another 5 and stay there, and so on. Now I’m at 245 or so, and have been there for almost a month. I’m sure that when I kick start the new plan, I’ll shock myself into shedding some lbs, but I also need to be much more mindful of what I’m feeding myself. I’m a crappy eater. That has to change. I will weigh 235 when I toe the line at St. Anthony’s.

I’m psyched – this is a doable plan. As if this weren’t enough, I’m also planning on lifting weights this season – starting tonight if I feel up to it. The good thing is I’ve got an awesome “home gym” and my wife seems motivated to join me, at some point, in this endeavor in the evenings. So there’s something we can do together that will have a training benefit for both of us. Win – Win. Yes this is a big commitment - this means I'll need to go to bed earlier if I'm planning on waking up earlier. This means fueling the body right to meet the demands of double the training volume. Somehow I've got to get from where I am now to where I want to be - IronFit. Here is where it starts.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Miami Man 1/2 Iron

Did you hear it? I sure heard it, loud and clear, at mile 40 on the bike. I'm surprised you didn't hear it - that loud cracking sound - CRACK! That would be me, cracking like a walnut, way, way way too early in the race. But I get ahead of myself.

What a great day for a 70.3 miles! We woke up to temps in the high 60's, almost no wind, very little humidity (for southern Florida) and just, I don't know, a feeling like it was going to be an awesome race. There were, however, a couple things that I just should have seen coming. My race number, for instance. 666. I mean, should they even give that number out? All morning, I had to endure the "shouldn't you have asked for a different number?" and the "hey, nice number!" and even folks that actually got out of my way and wouldn't shake my hand when they saw the big "666" on my arms. But, I kept on saying, "it's only a number". Our hotel room number was 616 - and of course my goal was to come in under 6 hrs - just way too many 6's for one race, if you ask me (six 6's in case you are counting...).

The day before, Registration was a breeze. There was no race day registration - a rule widely posted yet still unheeded on race morning - I heard of a couple folks that did not get to race. One of my pet peeves - an actual weigh-in - took place, and the person doing the weigh-in actually read the scale and recorded the weight (unlike at St. Anthony's where the dude asked me what the scale read....duh...). The expo was the right size - anything you would have needed was there for the buying. We found a neat T-shirt vending couple, Ryan and Katrina - their stuff is at http://www.tri3life.com/ and we were able to get 3 cool t-shirts for $30 - a great deal given the quality of the shirts.

Since this is my 14th race, set-up in the morning was easy and by the numbers...right. Wetsuit legal race, yes - but where was my suit? Left it in the truck - so I got a little more warm up running back to get it. Garmin on the bike and watch strap for it on my wrist, check. Did you power up the Garmin before leaving transition - oops (you have to give it time to find the satellites). I remembered that just after they shut down the transition area. Nice big bag of electrolyte pills in my tri-pack - awesome for staving off cramps - did I take any - nope, forgot that too (and I always take 3 before every race!!!).

I still love this race. The swim is absolutely pristine - the best water quality and temperature you could hope for. 76 degrees, and you can see clear to the bottom of the lake, no matter where you are swimming. It's cool seeing sunken row boats and the anchor lines for the turn buoys. For the first time (it would be a day of firsts) I had my goggles forcibly removed from my eyes by a Clydesdale elbow. I had to chuckle when it happened, since it was the first time and I'd always read about it and wondered when it would. I tried to correct them and still somewhat swim, but they kept filling up with water, so I had to stop and readjust them. I've noticed something in this race and in the last Olympic I did that's pretty cool - on the longer legs of the swim now I can get into a groove where the pace and stroke and the breathing all come together and seem effortless. Really! Granted, from my swim times, it practically is effortless, but all gone is the panic, the crummy feeling I always got once I started to get tired in the water. This was a 2 lap swim (again, a first for me) and it was cool getting a short break in between laps. I got to wave and smile to the wife before heading back out. The second lap was much like the first - getting off course in the first part of the swim route, so much so the guy on the kayak gave me a holler and said, "swim to your left". Obviously I still have that problem of pulling to my right. Another neat thing happened on the swim this time - a first for me. I got in a little pack where I swam on someones feet for probably 400 yards. There was a big Clydesdale next to me on my right, and a women on my left, and that's how we stayed just about till we exited. I say just about because the guy in front of me slowed to sight and did a weird kicking motion that whacked me right in the shoulder - I was lucky it missed my head, because he hit me pretty hard. He must have thought so too, because he turned and apologized, which was pretty cool. I got out of the water in 41:25 - below my goal and overall a pretty good start.

The run is long to T1, and unlike last year, there were no wetsuit strippers. So I struggled, tug and tore and finally got the suit off, threw on some socks (I tried riding 50 miles without socks once - for me a bad idea) and headed on out in 5 minutes flat. Other than struggling with my suit (and I did use plenty of Body Glide) I don't think I could have cut too much time off of it.

The Garmin got up and running pretty quickly and I immediately noticed a HR of 178. Now I wasn't winded and have a hard time getting my HR to that level so I new it was bogus and waited for it to come down. Mile after mile I waited. I wore my HR strap under my wetsuit (another first) and didn't' think it would be a problem, as lots of folks do that. But, for me, it was, and I proceeded to ignore my HR from then on out. I had decided to do what I could to make my average speed 20.5 and that was that. In the early part of the bike, I got it up to around 20.7 and backed off to maintain. After a turn put us into the wind that had developed, the effort started to rise as the speed went down. For some stretches, 21 - 21.5 was easy, for others, 20 was an effort - but looking at the trees and the grass, you would have thought it was dead calm wind-wise. This is Miami - it's flat as a pancake so I really can't explain it. An IBike would have been neat to see what the wind conditions really were.

Right around mile 40, that's when it hit. Subtle at first, the energy just seemed to go away. I had been drinking more than I usually do for a ride, and I had already done three gels, so I thought my "nutrition" was on schedule. At 45, the thigh cramp hit. There was the crack. 10 miles to go, and every left down stroke was painful. And all I could think of was that I had a 13 mile run after this! I had to slow down, just because I couldn't push as hard anymore, and was pedaling along at 18 - 19 in a lot of pain. I was about to crank it back another notch when Mr. Clydesdale on a nice Litespeed rolls by and says, "HA! I knew I'd reel you in!". Yea, I know! He actually said that, I mean, we think that all the time, but to actually taunt me like a linebacker - well, that was too much. I kept him in my sights for the last 3 or 4 miles and left him in T2 still getting his stuff together. My 2:44:45 was the fastest split for the 225+ Clyde's and 6th for the "skinny Clyde's" (200 - 225lbs), but I was very disappointed with my blowup. The 20.39mph speed is OK, but I know I have better in me. T2 was done in 3:10 - the fastest for all the 40+ Clydesdales, which means I'm getting better at changing my shoes.....

Ah, now for the fun part. The run. Like I said, looking forward to 13.1 miles of the hardest part of my tri-fecta, starting it off with my left quad on fire. But, what the heck. I ran a while, and walked when it really hurt. I knocked out most of the distance between aid stations, walking to get the hydration in, and loading on those electrolyte pills and Amino Vitals. One thing I would have liked would have been some good ol' fashioned Gatorade. Amino-vital is great for post workout muscle building, I understand, but I'm sceptical of it's "during" activity help. But what do I know. The folks at the aid stations were great. The run course, overall is great. The first trip through the Miami Metro Zoo was cool - very few "civilians" and all the animals were out - they made for a nice distraction. The last aid station at the 6 mile mark hosts the bikini-clad belly dancers - again, a nice distraction. They made promises of kisses for the first lap, and then the first 200 on the second lap would get laid. I didn't get kissed, and I had good suspicion I wasn't going to get laid either!

I hadn't seen my wife since the swim - the transition area is a ways from the swim, hence the 5 min T1, and she was uncharacteristically missing from my bike arrival. I thought she had probably taken the opportunity to go to the zoo - but I didn't see her in there either. Coming into the finish area, I heard the familiar, "go Taylor!!" (she says that when she uses my first name, I don't acknowledge her - probably an old "Captain Taylor-Army" thing....) which brought a smile. As I ran by her she explained that she was really worried because she had expected me earlier - and I could hear the worry in her voice. I don't know why, but that really got me thinking about finishing this thing, and finishing strong. I explained to her about my cramp, which seemed to upset her even more, so I just said "see ya" and put my head down to the second lap.

Looking at the clock - oh yea, I forgot to mention - I got a nice big, fat blue screen staring up at me from my Garmin upon leaving T2 - nice! No pace, no splits, nothing since all I had was a broken Garmin and no watch. So looking at the clock at the finishing line, I had almost exactly 1 hr to get in to break 6 hrs. For a fresh 10k, doable. I don't know what I was thinking, but I figured I had a shot at it....HA! I picked up the pace, read, increased the effort, and started picking people off. That's right, me. The Big Guy. I was running people down. Granted, they were hurting bad, just like me, but for once I was passing people on the run. I spotted a tall guy up ahead and thought he might be a fellow Clyde, so I set him in my sights. Now the run course has some areas that are "off road" and some parts that are on pavement. We happened to be off road at the time, and one of those rocks just jumped out and grabbed my foot - down I went like a big sack of bricks! I still had enough wits to do a good "airborne roll" and managed NOT to get hurt, which was all I was thinking about the whole way to the ground. As I got up and brushed the sand off me, I noticed something else I had forgotten - sun screen! Yea! So today, in addition to the achy muscles I have something else to remember Miami-Man by...

As I entered the Zoo I passed the fall-down guy - who explained that this was the stupidest thing he'd every volunteered for. I reminded him that he also paid to do it and ran on by. He had turned around when I fell and said nothing, so good riddance. The Zoo was a different animal this time around. There were people everywhere! Folks were driving these 4-wheel bike contraptions and motorized scooters - and no one, it seemed, gave a hoot that people were running in a triathlon! I had 2 very close calls with little kids running over to see the big gorillas or the cute elephants - and had to negotiate passing trolleys at one point - it was, well, a zoo! I was able to look back at one point and saw, probably half a mile, maybe more back, a pretty big guy making his way up. This guy was not going to catch me.

3-miles, shoot, it's just a 5k I told myself. No stops, no walking, just water up, and keep on moving. Nope. That didn't seem to fly for Mr. Legs. 10m to 11m were OK - I gutted that one out. Felt some nausea after that aid station, which had been coming on for a while, but really felt it after that one. Miles 11 - 12 were the hardest. I knew I had to keep it up, but still, I had to walk. I took a short break in there somewhere, just to know that I would finish strong. Rounding the bend to the mile 12 aid station, the adrenalin kicked in, and I really started to feel good. I threw some water on my head, and started running again - I didn't stop until the finish. My final mile was probably one of my fastest - this little 21-year-old and I were trading places for all of 3-miles and I wasn't going to just give her the win at the end. I made her sprint the final 50 yards, and while she apologized as she passed me, I was happy to see her final push. My run split as 2:49:15 for a whopping 12:55 pace. There's plenty of room for improvement there! Considering it took about 1:23 to do the second lap, I even negative-split the run - my wife's worry providing the extra motivation.

My final time - 6:23:35 - was 23:35 off my goal for the day. With all the adversity and dumb mistakes, I still managed to have a great time, and was thankful to have been able to be out there and race. I won the 225+ 40 and over Clydesdale category, beating out 4 other guys (the second place guy by only 2:33) , and I would have taken 8th in the "Skinny Clyde" group. The fun didn't stop there - we brought our stuff back to the truck and had plans on driving it back to check to see if I had placed. Sure enough, dead battery. I guess Diana had been reading her new Steven King novel and left a light on - easy mistake. So while we figured out a jump, they awarded the Clydesdale category and I missed it. My first tri-victory and I was jumping the truck. The plaque, finisher's medal and the free cap are all awesome, as were the 2 slices of pizza I finally manged long after the race was over. This was my second running of the Miami-man (last year I did the International distance) and this race was better run and more fun that last years' race. If you're looking for a warm season ender to put on your '07 calender, this would be a good one for ya.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Taper blues

I'm a crappy taper-er. I get it in my mind that I need to take it easy before a big race and I do just that. Man, I haven't done diddly-squat now for two weeks. That first week of tapering, I swam a grand total of 1200m, biked a measly 25m and ran, if you can call it that, a whopping 2m. I'll admit, I was sore and tired from the prior two week ramp-up of activity, but I think I probably under did it.

Then this week, again, 1200 in the pool, and a better, more intense 25m/4m brick. That, too was probably a mistake, being too much for 5 days before a big race. Yesterday I was sore all day, getting weird pulls and aches all in my legs and back. Now I find myself back to the beginning of last week - in recovery mode.


On the way to work this morning I realized that I was Jonesing - I guess. I've never done drugs at all (yea, yea, I know, I'm a boyscout, but really, nothing illegal now for 42 years...) and I'm not much of a drinker, but I find myself craving a good, long workout. I mean I want to get out and ride a century or go on a long run. I miss it- am I getting addicted to the endorphins you always read about but never really get "high" from? I'm chomping at the bit - appropriate for a Clydesdale - I hope the feeling lasts for a couple more days...


I read Bolder's post about his taper for IMFL (look how well he did!) and I thought it smart to really lay off to get rid of the soreness and the feeling of being tired all the time. I've been getting loads of sleep, been chilling out in the evening after work, watching some tube and eating well. I know that nothing I do workout-wise in this last week or two will increase my fitness for the race, I know it! It just doesn't feel right. So I'm trying to be a good taper-er, I guess we'll see come Sunday.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ready?

Five days and counting - the big half is coming up fast. I think I'm ready. I'm psyched. I'm tapered. I checked the weather for Miami and it's looking good - 5 knot winds, low 80's and plenty of sun is in the forecast. Did a nice little brick today, 25m bike and a 4 mile run - easy does it (but I still got a little overboard and averaged 21 on the bike - last bike before the race...) and felt phenomenal. I'm ready.

My goals for the race are these:

  • swim at a 2:00/100 yd pace for a 43 minute leg. Since it's a 2-loop swim, I need to be at 20 minutes at the first loop or better. I'm thinking it will be a wetsuit swim (lows in the 60's now in Miami for a while; last year temps were the same and it was wetsuit-legal), so a 2:00 pace is very reasonable. I did a 1000 meter swim in the pool yesterday with baggy swim shorts in 22 min, taking it really easy.

  • bike at a 20.5 mph pace for a 2:44 leg. This course is 13 miles out to a 2-lap loop of 15 miles each and then 13 back in again. I plan on taking a gel at the start of each phase of the course, and one at the end, giving me 6 gels, plus I'll drink my aero-bottle empty before reaching the aid station where the beginning of the loop is. So that will be about 600 calories of gels and 4 water bottles full of fluids.....you know what, I'll go ahead and bring one more bottle to fill, probably on the first leg, to wash the swim out of my mouth and "pre-load" some fluids during that first 13 miles.

  • Run at an 11:00/mile pace for a 2:25 leg. Now I'm not planning on negative splitting this bad boy. I've tried that concept and it just doesn't work for me, not in the water, not on the bike and certainly not on the run! From past 'long" bricks, I know I can ride at 20.5 mph and get off and start running under 10:00. I'll fight for 13 miles and do what I can to come in under 11:00.

  • It's all going to be about HR. I'll do my best to keep my HR on the bike under 150. That's the ticket. If the wind is right, and I'm feeling really good, and stars all align, I can ride 21mph at that HR, and that will give me that much more buffer room on the run.

  • First transition under 4:30 minutes - there's a long run from the water to the transition area. Last year I did T1 in 4:46. I'm better at this than I was last year. Last year I did T2 in 4:21 - shameful! Other than it being a really big transition area, there's no reason for me to have had such a long T2 - a 2:00 T2 is typical, so I'll put the goal at 2:30 since there must be a set of Lineman from the Dolphins there making T1 and T2 times so long.

So that puts me at 5:59:00 - cutting it close for my ultimate goal of coming in under 6 hrs. There's a million things that could go right and wrong, so I'll do everything I can to remember to have fun, stay positive, and keep fighting for the finish line!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Suncoast Sprint Tri

Lesson 1 Learned: In very rough waters, it's best to pull swim cap over your ears. We started the morning with steady downpours as a cold-front was passing through. Those rains kept quite a few folks home Saturday morning for this race that had about 500 folks registered. Looks like about 375 actually competed - understandably, since the conditions were pretty tough. For the bulk of the competitors, the winds started as steady at 14 mph, gusting to 19, then as the front passed by, the winds picked up to a steady 21 mph, with gusts to 29.

Lesson 2 Learned: A gusty day is NOT a good time to try out your new wheel covers. Granted, at 245 lbs, it's going to take a heck of a gust to blow me off the road, cover or no cover, Hed Jet 90 front wheel or not. There were a few instances where I was afraid I was going to lose control, but it was more of a front end issue than the rear wheel covers. I had to bear down pretty hard on the bars to keep myself straight - but, I didn't crash, and more importantly I didn't cause anyone else any problems.

The Suncoast Tri is part of a series that is usually very well organized and a lot of fun. Even with the wind and rain, we managed to have a good time. Diana (my lovely bride) couldn't keep the camera steady enough to take a non-blurry picture, and she's pretty good with a camera, and it's too bad since I just got her a nice zoom for her birthday (sorry to fotojack for the cut and paste...).

Because the gulf was a torrent, the 1/3 mile swim was moved to the lagoon (which was just a little better...) and the distance shortened to about 1/4 mile. The water temp was about 75 degrees - wetsuit legal and there was plenty of rubber out there, but I did a little warmup and didn't really think it was cold enough for me to wear one. I should have paid better attention to the swim route - heck, Clydesdales were the last of 5 waves, as there was a pretty long and shallow sand bar at the end of the swim just inside of the buoy line. I was swimming amongst a big group of black caps and just knew I was having a decent swim until all of a sudden I noticed there were way fewer caps around. I looked forward and saw a bunch of people running in, but from water level it was hard to tell if they were out of the water or in. As I approached the last buoy, and since I normally swim a bit outside (to the left) of the line, I finally noticed that folks to my right were up and running! I changed my course and swam hard to the right - shoot, people were cutting inside of the last of the buoy to stay on the sand bar - well, that oversight on my part probably cost me a minute or so (based on where some of the other Clydes that I usually beat on the swim came in ahead of me) - but no biggie (see the folks behind me, they are not running in, they are running to the last bouy). The run to T1 was a hike - total T1 time was over 3 minutes but before I knew it I was out there in the wind on the bike.

Even with the control issues, the bike was a blast. It's an advertised 11 mile bike, but I'm consistently at 9.5 miles on the GPS for the course. On the "downwind" side I averaged over 25mph, but by the time I got done fighting that wind coming back, my average had slipped to an even 21mph. With a time of 27:08 there were only 30 other folks total that had a better bike split (23:53 was the best). The roads were newly paved, which made for a very comfortable ride - not really much faster, as the roads were not "slow" before, and since the place is about as flat as a pancake, the wind was the only excuse you could muster for a slow ride.

The run was typical for me - slow and steady. My 29:12 managed to get me a 5th place plaque for the day, and I know of at least 2 or 3 missing fast Clydesdales who usually race and around here and are consistently in the top 3 - but I'll still take my 5th and be happy about it. The GPS had the run at 3.18 miles, which put my average pace at 9:11 - a PR on a course that was out on pavement and back on the beach, into the wind.

The location is awesome, the after-race refreshments were great: pizza, subs, fruit and BBQ chicken sandwiches were among the many treats. The volunteers did a great job - they even had someone giving out water bottles at the finish line, which is a pet peeve of mine as a race requirement. The shirt design was cool and was nicely missing all of the advertisements on the back. They had an option for a cool-max version of the shirt which I opted out of not knowing about the neat new design. Would have been worth it. If you find yourself in Central Florida this time next year, or are thinking about racing in one of the races in this series, go ahead and treat yourself - Ft. Desoto is a great place for a sprint. Now if we could only convince him to organize an Olympic here...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mac Attack

Ok, I’ll admit it – when Stadler blew up last year after not being able to change a flat, throwing his bike while on camera and having a hissy-fit, I decided I didn’t much like the guy. I’m of a mind that a Professional anyone – lawyer, doctor, soldier or ATHLETE – should set an example of behavior for the rest of us to follow. While I understand the emotional aspect of Stadler’s plight in ’05, I would have hoped for more from him. No, I’m not going to bow to the “you would have done the same thing if your year of training would have amounted to nothing….” argument, not because I know for sure what I would have done in that situation, but because I have an expectation of behavior of Professionals. As a Professional soldier, I experienced similar stresses and physical excursions (things like Ranger School, Special Forces Selection, etc…), and suffered a few defeats as well, and managed to maintain a professional image to my subordinates and peers as was expected of an Officer. I’m in no way comparing my level of fitness then to his now – just the level of stress in physically and mentally challenging situations.

This year, he raced the perfect race, and is crowned a champion of champions. Good for him – I respect him as one of the best athletes in the world. But yet again, he’s shown his lack of Professionalism in his actions and comments – from the throwing of the wreath, to use of profanity on the ramp, to his after-race comments. Now I swear like sailor sometimes (but not on national TV), and after 8hrs, I can understand not wanting a pointy, leafy crown on my head (but have been required to wear uncomfortable protective gear after some pretty long days and weeks). But what I don’t understand or condone is an attack of integrity on a fellow athlete that was competing on the same playing field and by the same rules.

Yes, he won. He proved that he could lead out and keep that lead and be the best in the world – and if he wants to rub it in, so be it. If he’s a poor sport, or if his personality is one, like many professional athletes today, that shows it’s backside more often than not, than there will be folks that are drawn to that and he’ll have his fans and people who are not his fans. Talking trash is all the rage and boosts TV ratings. Blasting a guy’s abilities that you just beat may be acceptable in some folks eyes – it’s poor form, but there’s some truth to it – on that day, you were better than him. Calling a man a cheater – questioning his integrity – is a totally different animal.

Clearly, Macca played within the rules of the race, rules derived from a scientific study where it was proven that a 7-meter draft zone provides negligable advantage to the drafter – the officials shadowed them for much of the race, as did the media, and if a violation had taken place, he would have been penalized. But that’s not good enough for the champ. Because he chose to play by leading out the entire race, and knowingly submitting himself to a harder bike leg without the pacing of other competitors, playing to his strengths, he has the right to question first the rules and second the strategy and integrity of fellow competitors? Physically, this guy is tough – but even with the win, Peter Reid was right, mentally, this guy is a wimp – a whiner and a cry-baby (and when confronted by Macca, denied his statements until a blackberry was thrust in his face - hmmm, add liar to the list?)

Accusing someone of cheating is huge. Cheating is normally defined as taking an unfair advantage. Cheating is taking banned substances. Cheating is cutting out part of the course. Cheating is drafting – breaking the 7 meter rule. Thing is, once you are found to have cheated, you are forever a Cheater. A level of trust with your fellow man dwindles to a point where people look at you differently, deal with you differently, and think less of you and your integrity. In a professional environment where cheating is becoming prolific and true professionals must take extreme measures to ensure they are in keeping with the rules – the flippant use of the term by a fellow athlete is, well, inexcusable.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Training Peaks

I just read Roman's new Post about using HR monitors and being super anal about keeping up with all that. Out of curiosity, I went to my retentive-satisfying training log and was curious, as I hadn't even looked for it before, if it keeps track of annual stats. It does. I was surprised by this year's training, only because I have never really paid any attention to it.

Swim: 130,848 yards
Bike: 2,507 miles
Run: 481.5 miles

My swim partner Luke said, "no way!" to the swim stat, but looking at it, it's only 73.5 miles, which in 10 months is probably lower than most of you out there. It's still neat to think about - I first started swim training last May, and now I'm thinking that 73 miles is probably a bit light for the year. Weird how your perspective changes over time.

Practice Half

I haven't been getting a warm and fuzzy about this 1/2 coming up in, oh, 3 weeks. I had to take a week off recently due to a minor calf tear, which has healed nicely, and I'm still sniffling from my annual end-of-summer cold. So instead of paying attention to triathlon coaches across America that recommend no more than an hour run off the bike for a brick, I figure I'll add my long run for the week in after an easy 50-miler.

I brought my new bike training buddy Greg along for the ride - this guy is a great training partner btw. We work together, and he switched his days off schedule to coincide with mine so that he could ride with me. He shows up when we agree to meet for a ride - on time - and hangs with me for as long as he can - he's up to 37 miles already for his longest ride with me, and we've only been riding together for about 2 months.

Yesterday was one of the windiest days I can remember on 2 wheels. It was too cold in the morning to head out - for us Floridians, 50 degrees is too cold for a bike ride - so we got started around 1pm. Greg hugs my wheel pretty good most days, but the wind proved a bit tough today for him, and by mile 25 he was done. I figured I should go easy since I had done that wicked Hilly Hundred-K 2 days ago, so I kept the HR under 140 for another 25 miles and finished the 50-miler at a 19.5mph pace.

But like I said, I've been anxious about this 1/2 coming up, so I figured I'd go long after the bike and see what kind of pace I could keep. 9 miles seemed to be a good distance. I figured that if I could keep the pace below 11/mile, I'd be doing alright for me. I didn't stop the clock for the 4 water stops I made, at about the 1.5 mile points along the loop - and worked hard to keep my run cadence as high as I could while keeping my hr in the 140's. The kicker to the whole day was the temperature in the 70's and no humidity. What a huge difference!

So I hit the 9-mile marker which coincided with a water stop right at a 10:52 overall pace. For me, that was a huge victory. Another 7 miles on the bike and 4 miles on the run, and I'll have the 1/2 licked. Shoot, I even practiced walking a bit, as it was another 2 miles to the car. This was the confidence booster I needed. I did the whole workout on just water - no Gatorade, no gels - just lunch and water.....so I figure that with support on the course and a couple of gels, plus the adrenaline from being in a race and having other people around (and using my race wheels), it should be a good time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hilly Hundred Ride Review

For the record, I want to make it clear that I did just a 100k ride, not a true Century. That being said, this one really kicked me square between the eyes. I may still be nursing the remnants of a cold, but I felt OK getting started. I really didn't want to ride with the pack, and it's a good thing, because they dropped me like a bad habit 9 miles in - just long enough to get good and warmed up.

Maybe you folks in traditionally hilly or mountainous parts of the country will scoff at 3,310 feet of climbing in 62 miles - but I train mostly at a place called "Flatwoods" with about 32' of elevation gain in a 12 mile lap. Weirdly enough, this ride took place in and around Dade City, FL, which was all of about 25 miles from where I normally go to ride - so just in case I get a hankering to torture myself again, the fun's only a hop, skip and a jump away.


For those of you not yet familiar with Motion Based, above is the link to where I've downloaded GPS information from the race, which includes Elevation, Speed, HR and other cool data. The "Player" feature they've just added is very cool - worth checking out. You can track speed and elevation while a little marker follows the route on a variety of different maps, and you can view it at different speeds or stop the action to if need be. You'll see that I didn't set the world on fire with this ride, chugging along at 18mph with stops included, but I was darn glad to be done with it! I even got over 50mph on one downhill - and that's a first for me.

The turnout for the ride was very good - seemed like at least a couple hundred folks there doing some manner of distance. They had a 18, 37, 62 and 100 mile course laid out, with much of it overlapping, so everyone went out together, then split off when their turn came up. The SAG stops (Aid stations, 'scept no-one's handing you stuff as you ride by) were well staffed and had good Gatorade and plenty to eat for everyone. I only stopped twice for fluids, which wasn't the original plan. Some of the roads were in pretty bad shape - a nice downhill had me scrambling for a clean line at about 40mph - I didn't find one and ejected 2 water bottles that remain where they dropped (deep in a ditch...)

Not much of a end-of-ride party, but the couple of chocolate chip cookies were good before I had to blast home and get ready for work. You gotta love retail - working on Sundays is always fun, especially during football season. Overall I was really pleased with the organization and support of the ride - I saw the guy from Bike Works where I bought my bike out there in his van helping with a flat - so the condensed and overlapping course helped to make it feel like you were never far from help if you needed it. I'll do this ride again next year, perhaps even the Century, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging ride.


Oh, yea, another cool deal - the T-shirt I got was a 2XL, just like I asked for - you don't see that too often.....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

T3 - Rookie to Vet

The heart rate monitor tells all, doesn't it (yea, I'm "old school" with my 301)? When you use it a lot, you get to know yourself, and your abilities, and it will tell you when you're not having a good day (I hate to be so blacked out - it tells you when you are having a good day too...). Now, I've had this cold going on a week now, and that's pretty normal for me - it's definatley in it's final stages.

So, Thursdays are my bike days, and I had a 37-miler at an easy pace planned since I should have done a hard 60 on Tuesday. I read somewhere that you should not try to "make up" lost workouts, just keep with your plan when you are getting over an injury or sickness - ok... Right out of the shoot today, my HR is 160, chugging along at 20mph. No breeze, cooler than usually and sligtly humid (this is Florida, after all), I'm usually at 132 - 135 when I start a ride at this pace. Darn. Maybe it will go down after I get warmed up. I think I saw 159 for about 2 seconds there on a slight down hill, but for the most part - it just kept going up. It was screaming at me, "ok, dumba$$, you're still sick, dial it back and go back to bed!!!". With all that noise, I had to listen, and cut it short at 25 miles. No run after (yet) as planned - lets see how I feel tonight.

In thinking about this, have I started training with advanced techniques? Does really training with a HRM or a power meter qualify for consideration to veteran status? At what point should I consider myself, or does the triathlon community consider a fellow athlete no longer a rookie? I don't want to be a rookie forever. I'm guessing that there's a time-limit alotted to being one. For pro football players, they have a rookie season, and than that's it, no longer a rookie. Play for a year, and then you have what it takes to be a seasoned vet. Or are you just a vet now? How long until you are a "seasoned" vet?

I've got 12 or so tri's under my belt now. I've raced in 3 Olympic distance races and a bunch of sprints. Does just racing in a tri or 10 magically transform me into a Vet? Or is it something else? What separates the rooks from the vets? Here are some things that I think would make me consider a fellow triathlete a Vet:

1) Vets know the rules. Vets embrace the rules. Vets help enforce the rules. Guess that means no Ipods, and understanding that Ipods on the course makes it unsafe for the person wearing them and more importantly for everyone around them. Vets don't draft. Vets don't block. Vets keep a neat transition area and stay in thier own space.

2) Vets train to a plan. It may not be a scientific plan, or a plan derived from a $150 / month coach or bought from on online guide, but it's a plan. Vets have some sort of training log - it may just be a calandar with the workouts sketched out on it, but they track what they do, and they know where they are going.

3) Vets set realistic training and race goals. Of course a tri-vet has came out swinging on thier fair share of races only to pull up lame before the finish line - this is something you learn from experience - it's really hard to listen to someone tell you how to race within yourself when you're a type-A and really hate getting passed.

4) Vets get good at all 3 sports. Now here's where you start seperating the rooks from the vets - just how weak is your weak discipline? Is your swim split way out of line with your bike or run performance? Now there are many of us who come from a running or bikeing or swimming (I really hate you folks, btw...) background, so they will naturally be great in those areas. The Vet works on thier weaknesses. This process usually happens in an off-season, so in your Rookie year, it would be pretty tough to be well rounded in all 3 sports since you haven't even had your first "off season" yet.

5) Vet's give back to the sport. In some way or form, a Vet is helping out. They belong to a Tri-club, perhaps, or are part of TNT. Vets take other athletes, rookies or what have you, under thier wing and help them get better. Vets encourage other competitors at races, or when you see folks out training. Vets help rooks set up thier transition area, and stop them before they leave T1 without thier helmit on.

6) Vet's know what is really important. Notice what Vet's aren't - they aren't the folks with the ultra-sleek carbon or titanium bikes - they could be, they may want to be, but they don't have to be - more often than not, they are kicking butt on a conservitively priced bike and no wetsuit. Granted, they probably are the guys in the speedo's, and there's not much we can do about that, other than look the other way, but we'll have to live with that.

I don't know....I'm getting there. I'll never be a Pro, but I'd like to think I could be a Vet. I think that after this season, when in the off season I get my run splits more in line with my bike, I'll be a bit more apt to call myself a vet. I probably set too high a standard for that, but setting high standards has always been my bag, baby. Time for some more Vitamin C...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Clydesdale Run Philosophy

I was running last night and thinking about chasing down bumblebees (reference Roman’s http://www.everymantri.com/ blog about his Chicago Tri experience…), getting fired up about my sub-9 minute pace and it struck me that not a lot is written or discussed about the nuances of Clydesdale training. Let’s face it, big folks; we’re different than the average athlete, with different things to worry about. It’s hard for us to relate to the workouts and training plans described in Triathlete magazine or in these on-line training programs – but luckily, it’s really just one aspect of the triathlon training plan that could use some adjustment – that being the run.
The run is the bane of the Clydesdale’s triathlon existence. We’ve got knees tore up from being 300-lb lineman with replaced ACLs and scar patterns that look like a MapQuest printout. On the run, gravity works against us on every step, hill or no hill, up or down. Each stride threatens to tear up an ankle, knee or hip and not from stepping on a loose rock or twig – just from taking the stride!

So what do we do differently? Please keep in mind that I’m not a coach, not certified as a coach, have no sports medicine background or education, so I’m really just shooting from the hip here, and telling you what works for me. First, when it comes to running, when starting out as a Clydesdale endurance athlete, LESS is MORE. Most of us are on a path to lowering our weight and changing our physique. We look longingly at those lean runners with their easy strides and pencil necks and say, “that’s how I want to look” (well, not exactly, but sort of...). Running, by itself, could certainly go a long way towards getting to our weight loss goals, and of the 3 (swimming, biking and running) disciplines, running is the most time-effective fat burner. More importantly, however, running beats us up! It causes injuries! When you are hurt, you can’t train, and when you aren’t training, in general, you’re putting those lbs back on. LESS is MORE, when you are first getting started, keeps you healthy to train more, so that when you lose enough weight to better handle the stress of running, you can change your run training attitude to MORE is MORE.

How do you get to MORE is MORE? Bike and Swim – a lot! Spend the bulk of your training time biking and swimming, burning up the calories on non-impact aerobic training. Stay in your BASE heart rate zones, and burn off fat. You still have to run, and I can’t tell you what kind of time to devote to running each week – at some point you will look in the mirror and know you’ve lost enough weight to safely transition to More is More – until then, be very conservative. A couple of other thing for the big folks out there:

1. Change out your running shoes regularly. I keep a log with Training Peaks, and it tracks my shoe wear for me, and I don’t let it get over 300 – probably 250 miles is even better. At 245lbs, I’m sure I break down the stuff that makes a running shoe absorb road stress quicker than the average runner.

2. Run quietly! Maybe it’s my military background, and I even ran track in High School – but it really gets me to hear guys and gals running down the road slapping their feet against the pavement (or just as bad, dragging their feet). These are the same folks with lots of vertical movement in their strides – you want to keep from getting injured and run with good form – run quietly and as level as you can. When you are quiet, you are softer on your joints. When you are less vertical, you put less strain on your joints and put more force towards horizontal movement – the kind that counts!

3. Shorten your stride. This really works well for me. I run with my Garmin and when try and lengthen my stride like when I was a kid, I can immediately see my HR rise and my speed fall. Shorten my stride (increasing run cadence) and the effort goes down, my HR drops and my speed shoots back up. Try it – concentrate on it – it works. At first it feels unnatural – especially for tall folks – just work on it over time, and soon you will notice how much easier it is to run this way (the way that all the great long-distance runners do it these days…). And here is where you can see the difference between the suggestions from the Mag’s and Clydesdale reality – I read an article in BeginnerTriathlete.com that suggests a cadence of 90 (that’s 180 left-right steps in a minute…). Go out and try that – HA! That’s 3 steps a second – 1-2-3, that might be a 6:30/min mile pace runner’s reality, but for my 9:00 pace running large bottom, I just can’t (yet) move my feet that quickly. But, it gives us something to work toward. Get your pace now, use it as a starting point, and work toward making it quicker. That’s all you can do!

4. Walk to increase your mileage. I ran a marathon in November ’05 at 275lbs and in getting ready for it; I’d mix a lot of walking into my long run days. The following week, I’d try and hold off the walking longer than the previous week, and increase the run distance while keeping the walking distance about the same. It worked well, and while I didn’t set any records with my 4:55 marathon, I felt good for the distance and didn’t get hurt.

Granted, the Less is More approach isn’t going to get you to the podium. Let’s face it, more often than not, the good RUNNERS win triathlons, and at some point down the line, if you want to be a FOP Clydesdale, you’ll have to decide to become a runner. In the mean time, while you are losing weight and just enjoying your new-found sport, concentrate on Swimming and Biking, get good at those disciplines, and when you are ready, you can transition to More is More running.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

DNS



I was hoping to write a nifty race report of my Olympic test at Longleaf today, but this cold has got the best of me, and instead I have my first "Did not Start". I'm not sure what would be worse, a DNF or a DNS. At least in a DNF you gave it a shot, and for one reason or another, usually a darn good one, you had to drop out of the race. Me, I just got sick.


I was ready to go, too. Bike was clean and mounted in the truck. Race gear in the bag; I was carbo-loaded like all good Clydesdales do, but feeling the beginning of the sniffles and congestion that usually mean my annual cold is coming on, I went to bed last night just hoping that the Vitamin C and Echinacea (that's what the plant looks like to the left) would be enough to kick it out of me. It wasn't.

And that's the real cruddy part - man, I was ready to go and looking forward to this race! A small tri with only about 150 competitors, just 45 minutes from my house, an 8am gun and a nifty time-trial swim start made this, for me, a must-do event. It was, however, a "C" race - I did not taper, save for a day off on Saturday for a Sunday race - it was going to be essentially a big brick. My end of season "A" race has only 2 more "big" weeks of training left, then a 2 week taper for my first 1/2 Iron-distance race - Miami-Man - on November 12th. Stretching and warming up this morning, I had to tell myself to keep my eye on the prize - and do what you can to kick this cold quickly in order to put in some quality training in the upcoming weeks. This race would have undoubtedly lenthened my recovery, and I keep telling myself that, but I sure do feel like I missed out today.


To reward my exceptional decision making, and since we were already up, a trip to IHOP was in order where a large class of cold-fighting orange juice, and other things which just helped to cheer me up, were waiting for me. I was back in bed before the first racer toed the swim start line - and with any luck, I'll be hitting it hard again tomorrow with a nice little morning run and a lunch swim. Wish me luck!