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...


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.


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


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.