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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three-a-days - SWIM BIKE RUN

I love this time of year – two-a-days are starting to sometimes turn into three-a-days. I got a nice and easy 25 mile bike ride in before work. Hit the stadium for lunges at lunch (tough stuff – 20 sets on the bleachers).

I also got in a great OWS swim after work. There were five of us – Keith, Lance, JD, Robin and myself. Robin is a fast swimmer and we headed out (in our wetsuits – except for Keith - hard core but this is probably the last week of the wetsuit). I got to practice drafting for the first time. I was amazed at how much energy I saved while swimming fast. I was able to swim fast and simulate a lot of the race conditions.

We are going to make this a weekly activity – add this to the morning rides – and this is looking like a great year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Two-a-days again

I’m back in the two-a-day groove. I climbed out of bed Tuesday morning and made it to the empty pool. I knocked out 2000 yards before I even woke up.

At lunch I was planning on going for an easy 4 mile run with Vic and Chad. This is where the training hard not smart comes into play. On the trace I encountered Chris, Sam, Steve and a whole slew of fast runners. They were just starting to run 12 sets of quarter mile intervals. I could not pass it up. They were running FAST – 1:15 – 1:17 quarter miles. I was not fast – mine were 1:22 – 1:26 and I only did 6 sets. I’m still trying to follow the plan for the most part – I have a tendency to add too much.

Working on it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sockless running

I must start getting ready for the day the night before. I was scrambling to organize all of my stuff for the day in the pitch black of Monday morning. I wanted a good solid bike ride but was having trouble figuring out if I needed to drive into work. Work is going to be demanding this week and I needed my “replacement desktop laptop” (- you can read that as an eight pound 17 inch brick) with me. I decided to drive – that would cost me about 20 minutes on the bike.

Once everything was sorted the bike felt really good. Legs were fine even considering the 50 miles the day before. The plan called for more hard gear low cadence strength training. I am a spinner by nature – these workouts are challenging to me. I went for the ride on my tri bike (no race helmet / no race wheels / no cyclometer / no watch) and clicked off a solid 20 minutes in just under an hour. I felt strong.

I ordered a pair of those super fancy Zoot shoes the other day – they were last year’s model on close-out. I had not run in them yet so I brought them to the gym for a fast sock less run. I warmed up on the treadmill for half a mile and then ran three progressively faster miles. I felt good. This was a hard workout but I was never out of my comfort zone – I was never out of control. I had a really short lunch today – I had to cut the run short by a quarter of a mile. It felt good to run fast!

WU 0.5 mile
mile 1 - 6:53 HR AVE 156
mile 2 - 6:40 HR AVE 167
mile 3 - 6:31 HR AVE 173
CD 0.25 mile

The shoes worked fine for that short distance, however, when I was done the bottoms of my feet were on fire – I assume from the friction. I have not run sockless in a while – It is time to get my feet back in condition.

On a side note – Yesterday, I spoke with my master-gardener father on the phone – he is really a special guy – hope he comes to visit soon. Dad – I love you! (I know you read this everyday!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Busy Weekend - Run - Bike - No Swim.

Busy weekend! I got a 14 mile run in on Saturday morning. It was not as fast or as easy as I would have liked for it to be. It was not much faster that the ½ marathon at the end of the ½ ironman – the only saving grace is that it was not nearly as hard as that run. Training smart I took a GU with me and had it at about the half way point. Still – at the pace that I ran I want the run to be easy. An afterthought – like oh yeah I ran 14 miles this morning – I had forgotten. I don’t think it will ever get there but I am working on it.

Saturday also called for a swim. I made it to the gym and there was a kid’s pool party taking place. There was one lane set up for lap swim but there was a guy doing some rehab (water jogging or something). My pool spoils me. I almost always have a lane to myself and never have to share. I went up stairs and did some upper body and abs strength training. I checked back on the pool at the top of the hour and it was still going strong. There were kids swimming in the one lane now. The life guard told me to go ahead and jump in but I was in easy defeat mode and passed. I did not want to kick the kids out and more honestly I just did not want to swim. I’ll make the swim up this week.

Sunday was a 50 mile bike ride with hard gear standing intervals. I ate breakfast and then mixed up some Gatorade sports drink. I like to use the powder and had a new big container. I check the nutritional side panel and it said one serving was 50 calories. See there – I’m trying to be smart and take nutrition and stuff. I decided to mix up about 150 calories – 3 scoops. Wow – that seemed like a lot of powder. I looked at the panel again – 1 serving is 1 tablespoon. How big is that scoop? I got out the tablespoon – one, two, three, - four tablespoons per scoop. I had mixed up 12 servings in one bottle which equals 600 calories. I had already mixed it up so I divided it into two bottles. This would still make a potent punch for the ride. It was salty, sugary slurry. It is nice to know that I did not have any stomach issues and actually ate a power bar at the half way point (I took a 5 minute break half way to refine the water bottles and eat the bar). The intervals were tough. I stood on the pedals in the hardest gear for 1 minute and then recovered spinning for 5 minutes. The 50 miles took 2:33 (even with the rest period – not my fastest but okay). I had about 800 calories on the ride – that is a new personal best!

Sunday afternoon was guy stuff – changed the oil in the truck, grilled chicken and ran all of the lawn care equipment out of gas!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Swimming 2000 yard early season TT

Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. - Henry Van Dyke
On Thursday, for lunch, I made it to the pool. The workout called for a 10 minute warm up and then a 30 minute time trial. I made a slight alteration and decided to do a 2000 yard time trial – I knew it would be slightly over 30 minutes. I took times at 1000, 1500 and 2000 yards.

1000 yards – 16:14 (AVE PACE 1:37 / 100 yards)
1500 yards – 24:37 (AVE PACE 1:38 / 100 yards)
2000 yards – 33:08 (AVE PACE 1:39 / 100 yards)

I got progressively slower. I got progressively more tired. I need to increase my swim volume until I can do twice these distances in my sleep!

I have not done so well with this in the past – but today is a rest day. I think that I am going to take it! No short run, no strength training or even just a little bit of swimming. I’m taking the entire day off – oh bike commuting does not count – I have to get to work you know.

I think that I am about over this cold!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The commute – The best part of the day

Tackled the stadium yesterday at lunch. I did 15 bleacher lunges followed by some 50 yard dashes. It was hot and it was challenging. Did some work on the abs to finish out the workout.

On the ride home I saw Chris hanging with his kids at the playground at Jackson Station. He said he has 3 triathlons in Florida for the next 3 weekends. Damn.

This morning the group ride was resurrected for spring. I set the alarm for 5AM (I usually get up at 5:30AM – without the alarm most days). Had my 2 cups of coffee and then hit the trace. I left the house at 5:45 and the morning light was sufficient – I did turn on my pathetic headlamp and rear blinky light just in case. I got to Jackson Station and the guys (JD, Keith and Lance) were unloading their bikes. Everyone was here except for Jim – he has said that he will be back in the groove in just a couple of weeks.

This is the time of the year that I enjoy the most. When my 6 mile bike commute looks like closer to 30 miles. We saddled up and headed towards Sumrall. Lance and JD had been at New Orleans with me and we swapped some race stories. There would be no warm up today. JD, Keith and Lance seemed like they had something to prove. I was on my road bike, Lance and JD were on their tri bikes and Keith was on his road bike – he has a new one that will be in any day now.

Everyone was faster! I was sucking the back wheel of everyone today. There was no way that I could have maintained a 2 4, 25, or 26 MPH pull. I nearly got dropped twice. The second time I almost got dropped was when I pulled aside (okay I did do a little pull coming back into Clyde Station) and the train kept going. There was a huge gap created and I really had to hunker down. I started counting one one thousand, two one thousand. I knew that I had to close that gap and then I would be cool. The exertion level would drop once I got that wheel. This is a fast section of the trace. They were really hauling. I looked at my cyclometer and I was 27.5 MPH. I would top out at 28 MPH (max speed measured today on my bike computer). I thought that I could keep this pace for maybe 15 seconds. I caught them at thirteen one thousand. Once on the wheel it still took a high effort to hang with them. A couple of minutes later and I was recovered again and all was well. This was a tough ride for me. LOVED IT!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Episode IV – A New Hope

I felt better yesterday afternoon and I get an ‘A’ for effort. I actually made it back to the gym after work to complete my swim workout. However, there is no lap swim at 5PM on Tuesday and Thursday – SMACK. So I just hopped on the bike and rode home. The effort was a little higher than I would have liked.

I had a nice evening and started to organize morning group activities. I sent the call out – a lot of people are still busy with school being still in session. But Tony was up for a swim. I asked him what the temperature of the lake was and he said that wetsuits were not allowed! I thought to myself – he is a bigger man than me. I gathered all of my gear up prior to bed so that I would not be stumbling around in the dark.

The sun was up by 5:45AM (good times) and I had my coffee and put on my wetsuit. I’m no fool. Got to Tony’s house and he was wearing a wetsuit also – nice joke. When we got in my feet were cold – not freezing – just cold. Tony put in a small beach during the off season – that was nice in the feet. After swimming for just a few minutes the temperature was near perfect. We swam across the lake. Man I wish I could swim straight – I’m working on it. I might be just a little faster than Tony but the zigzagging negates much of that. I started to swim next to Tony and sight off of him. This was much easier. I then decided to draft off of him. It made a big difference! I would swim in his draft and then swim out of his draft. While in the draft I really had to slow my stroke down – I had to add a lot more glide. It was like I was coasting. The next race I think I will really try to get on someone’s feet. Without losing all of the momentum with sighting and the efficiencies of drafting – well – if I can pull this off…

Tony went ahead and signed up for the Gulf Coast Half in Panama Beach on May6th – tempting – Sam, Chris, and Mike and now Tony and several more will be there. Speaking of Sam – he won the Mullet Man Triathlon (I love the name of this race – they also have a Mullet parade and a Mullet toss – FYI – it is a fish) in Pensacola last weekend. He got 5th last year and just keeps getting faster.

Finished up with the just under a mile swim and it was still early. I was going to drive to work but since I had time I went home and put my gear away and jumped on the bike. A nice 6 mile trip and shower at the gym.

I have a run at lunch and have organized the Tuesday / Thursday morning ride again. I love this time of year.

I know that I will not lose my fitness being sick - I'm just frustrated - I'm just not very good at being sick. I'm the guy who says feel my forehead and regardless of the temperature I want you to say - "Wow - that is so hot - I don't know how you could ever endure this - you are so strong - can I get you anything?" I then say - meekly, "No - I'm fine - I'll be okay". As you start to leave the room - "Maybe some ice cream would be good." It is just a damn good thing that I am not sick very often - I go years and years with nothing - Knock on wood.

On the illness front – not 100 percent but much better.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Swimmingly sick

The run at lunch yesterday went a little bit long – 35 minutes turned into 50 minutes. This was what I was talking about in my last post. Having fun and doing more than the plan calls for – Oh well – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Last night I got home and felt great – better than I have for days (feels like weeks). I played around in the garage with the bikes. I took the race wheels off of my triathlon bike and swapped the cassettes and just messed around. It was fun. I had a couple of beers and turned some wrenches.

This morning – sick again. What? Really sore throat is back and tons of mucus! I had already committed to cycling to work (the days are just too nice) but it was hard to get going. I had planned on leaving the house at 6AM so that I could ride to the gym and be in the pool by 6:30AM. I left late but still got in the pool by 6:40AM. My workout – the first real swim workout since New Orleans called for 3 x 1000 yards with 30 second rest. The first set went okay – I was about 8 seconds off of my best (1000 yards today in 16:08 – 1:36 / 100 yards). Then I just gave up. I was tired, I did not feel well and I convinced myself that I would go back to the pool later if I felt better. This is most likely a lie.

Since I do not enjoy the swim as much as the other disciplines (I think it is the camaraderie) it is easier for me to blow it off. I know that you should work the most on the activities you like the least. I’m working on it.

It seems like it was not long ago that I was bragging about a Personal Best every other post. I'm ready to get back to that!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cycling intervals

So I got out and about yesterday and did some real training. 9 miles at an 8 minute / mile pace. I felt pretty good and the exercise did make me feel better. But I could tell that I was still under the weather. I am not a nap kind of person – it can be difficult for me to lie down in the afternoon. I get stir crazy. I stare at the walls and have to get moving.

Well, yesterday I relaxed for a little bit after lunch and took a 3 hour nap. I was out like a light. Even after I woke up I was still tired. I was lethargic most of the evening.

I was gratified to have completed a day in the new training plan. I have made it a goal to follow this new training plan as close as possible. I always tend to add too much – fun stuff like going for an extra bike ride with the group or doing a few extra intervals – you know – just getting caught up in the fun of it.

Today called for a 45 minute interval session on the bike and a 35 minute run later in the day. I set out my cycling gear and was glad to see the sun up at 6AM. The intervals were hard – 10 x 1 minute with 2 minute recovery. Man – some of those minutes seemed to last forever!
The time off – even though ill – has made me excited again about training.

As a side note - I have done those running and cycling exercises to see your sweat rate - you weight before and after and take into account how much you drank. I should have done this during those cycling intervals this morning just to determine my expectorant rate! Yuk. Who knew so much mucus could be expelled in 45 minutes!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Back on the plan

Sunday is the start of my training week. Just last night I was reading something and it said it would be okay to exercise with a cold as long as you do not have a fever- as I have said this sick thing is kind of new to me. My new training plan only called for 70 minutes of running. I say only because this is a weekend day after all. Seventy minutes is really not much when you have the whole day.

I hit the trace at around 8AM without my heart rate monitor. I did take the old GPS watch just to gauge the pace - not sure why this was important to me today. I was calculating what pace I should run for today and I decided that 8 min / mile would be cool - I don't know how I decided this but that was the line that I had drawn.

So 9 miles in 72 minutes and I felt pretty good. My base is solid. My cardio system was never taxed by this run - no heavy breathing - never really felt too hard. It definitely was not zone 1 or low zone 2 but it was not bad. However, at about mile 7 my hamstring started to get tight. This has been bothering me whenever I run long or run fast. Not sure what to do about this - even though I was ill this week I did take about 5 days off of running. You would think that the hamstring would be better after the rest. Oh well.

Glad to be feeling better - I'm not feeling good but better - no fever. I am on the road to recovery.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday = rest day ??? - frustration...

Taking it easy again today! Still not feeling real great (understatement = productive cough = yuk -- If I was Steve in a Speedo I would take a picture). I also have some running around to do because the past two weekends I was out of town (first New Orleans and then Jackson - for that century ride). I am excited about getting back to exercise and my A race Ironman is still not until August so a little time here getting better will not effect anything.

I have said this before but I am really going to try and follow my new training plan as close as possible. I have been doing my own thing and training hard for a long time - and seen good results. But I think with a race as long as an ironman - winging it is not an option.

Now to disregard everything I just said - I also really want to add some extra intensity to my strength training. More functional strength. I don't care how much I can bench press or curl. I just want to be stronger.

Time to feel better first!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Still feeling puny but better –

Thanks for all of the kind comments - they are appreciated!

It has been frustrating watching the super nice weather and not being able to engage it! I do not like off days – they are hard enough as it is – but taking a lot of rest days and not feeling rejuvenated is even worse. I feel better today! I just had another quick easy swim yesterday – more to just do something.

Hopefully I can take it easy this weekend and then hit the new FULL IRONMAN training plan next week.

I’m ready to get back on the horse – always the bright side – maybe these sniffles are what I needed to keep the motivation high – to keep the drive alive!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Back in the pool

I have taken it rather easy this week. My training volume has been reduced to about a quarter of what it was leading up to the half ironman. The main reason is that I have this damned sore throat and all of the associated aches and pains of a cold.

I did get back in the water for the first time since the race. That would be about 10 days. It felt pretty good. I was working on breath control - this is a tough one for me. It seems like if I do not breath just about every stroke than I get that feeling of being oxygen deprived. It is uncomfortable. I did some drills of bilateral breathing to better combat this. It worked okay but I need a lot more practice. I would like to raise my comfort zone in the water.

Anyway, 30 minutes / 1500 yards.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A little tired, softball and a sore throat

I don't get sick. I do not do well when I am sick. I don't like being sick. I refuse to be sick.

I hate it so much that I have not allowed myself to be sick for years. Not one or two but dozens of years. Maybe I define sick as something different. Sick is when you have to change your schedule - when you can't do the things that you want to do. Sure - I have been hurt, cut, bruised, bleeding and in so much pain that I could not do the things that I want to do - but not sick.

I'm not sick right now. On a scale of 1 to 10 I am at a 1. I have a scratchy throat. I did not sleep well last night. I was cold. I wanted to get up in the middle of the night and take a steaming hot bath even though the temperature in the house was in the 70's. But I'm not sick - far from it!

The softball game (the playoffs) was fun but it is over now. Many of us were already developing the 'Bad News Bears take the pennet' story lines. At our level of play it is just too darn hard to win games when you do not field a complete team. Automatic outs in the line up will kill you every time.

By the way - I really am not sick - just a tickle in my throat - but I do hate being sick.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Looking for a plan

Without a training plan I always tend to wing it - and wing it with MORE. Yesterday I was going to go for a short run - it turned into 12 miles. I still wanted to go on the Sunday group ride to swap race stories - I did that, but, only for 30 miles and none of my race buddies showed up.

My body feels pretty good. My cardio system is in check. Nothing hurts. I'm just a little tired - hard to get out of bed. My top speed is not where it used to be.

Anyway, back to the run - everything felt pretty good. I hit the trace with just head phones on - no watch, no heart rate monitor, no GPS. I did not even look at the clock when I left the4 house. That is hard for me. The run felt good - I was not pushing the pace and just running next to the trace in the pine straw. It was not fast (faster than that 1/2 ironman run - but not fast).

After about 10 miles I queued up some C & C music factory - yeah, old school dance music. I only have two songs but they are remixes and worth about 2 hours of music. So 'I've got the power' filled my ears and I just took off. I took off fast - too fast - I don't know how fast but my lungs were starting to fill it for the first time in what seems like forever. It felt great. I ran about half a mile at this pace and then just did striders and farklets all the way home. The run finished on a high.

I set the VCR to tape the 70.3 Ironman Championships on TV and met up with the group ride. I was hoping to swap some race stories but none of the New Orleans racers made it to the ride. There was a storm brewing and we only got 30 miles in - it felt like we were racing the rain. I made it home with time to spare - the thunderstorms did not hit until much later.

The second Sunday of the Month is the Beer Club. At Jodie's suggestion we had a mystery beer competition. The beers were concealed and you got points for guessing the type (ale, lager), style (pilsner, IPA, wheat, barley wine, etc) and brewery. I came in 5th place! It was a good time.

A non-traditional Easter but I'll take it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Nachez Trace Century Ride

It is April and it was cold in Mississippi. I brought my arm skins to Ridgeland just in case it was cool in the morning. I never took them off. The Natchez Trace is beautiful! Lots of huge shade trees lining the road, cypress swamps and really nice smooth asphalt for about 35 miles out - then chip and seal. It is amazing the different in the riding surfaces. The vibration of the chip and seal really puts the fatigue in your body.

Jodie and I started the ride towards the back of the pack. There was the option of doing a 25, 50, 62 or 100 mile bike ride. We choose the full century. It was a long day in the saddle. My cardio system and muscles were fine. Other parts of the body started to suffer as the day went on. My hands were not used to being on handle bars for such a long ride - I really do appreciate the aero bars on the race bike. And my butt started to ache. I was standing up in the saddle every few miles just for relief.

This was a long easy effort. The race was well supported with a water / food station every 10 miles. I think I consumed more calories than I burned - they had cookies at the stations. We ended up stopping at miles 20, 40 , 50, 60 and 80 for water, snacks and bathroom breaks.

I am excited about getting back into a scheduled training routine. I have not decided exactly which training plan - I'm looking at either a half ironman bridge to ironman plan (only 12 weeks) or starting at the beginning of a plan dedicated to ironman. I'll have to look at the plans more closely - I do not want to lose any fitness.

On a side note - my softball team made the playoffs (all the teams did - they just seeded you in the bracket according to your record). I have a practice Monday night and our first playoff game on Tuesday. We are getting better but we are such a 'Bad News Bears' team.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday -

There's a certain satisfaction in a little bit of pain. - Madonna
This has been an easy week following the 1/2 ironman. My legs feel great but I can tell that my body is still tired. I have been sleeping in a little more than usual - no two-a-days this week. I did get some easy running in on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

I did some fun 20, 50 and 100 yard dashes on the football field. I was trying to run at a really good clip but it just was not there. Vic is pretty quick but after about 20 yards I usually have him. Not this week. Once again, nothing hurts, nothing is sore and I don't feel fatigued - I just don't have my speed.

I'm not sure about today - I am playing it by ear - I have a few chores that have been piling up that need attention.

Tomorrow I will be doing the Natchez Trace Century ride up in Ridgeland (Jackson, MS). I have never done one of these before but it looks like fun - in fact my longest ride has only been in the nineties. I keep being told that this is a ride and not a race.

I going to try and stick to that plan.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Race Report - CONCLUSION - 70.3 New Orleans

Crossing the finish line was a relief - not so much of a celebration. Not finishing was never a thought in my mind. I could have gone a little faster, etc. etc. etc...

Lessons learned from this race.

  1. PRE-RACE: I did not really anticipate just how many people were going to be at the start of this race. I should have arrived at transition a little bit earlier. Although the walk to the swim start was only about a mile and a half I really think walking bare foot started me off on the wrong foot (so to speak). Also, the shoes for the run were just plan silly. By selecting 'light and fast' shoes to save a few seconds per mile it cost me tens and twenties of seconds per mile. For these longer races I have to go with a cushioned trainer. I already knew this but was blinded by some artificial time goals - that was a mistake.

  2. SWIM: My swim wave was larger than some of the local triathlons that I have been in - I got very disoriented and claustrophobic being in the middle of the churn. I never thought that I was going to die or drown or anything like that - but my breathing was out of control and I was struggling. Looking at my heart rate for the entire race - it was the highest during the swim - for all of the swim. I know that this not only cost me minutes on the swim but minutes on the bike and minutes on the run. I need to continue to be more confident in the water - not just with swimming but in positioning myself with other racers. This will be one of the toughest to improve on - a few days after the race (or really just a few seconds out of the swim) it is hard to imagine getting that messed up just swimming. I did hear of several racers climbing out of the water in disgust and throwing there goggles off. Knowing what I was feeling that could have been me. I am going to try and do as many races this year to help build that 'swim race' experience.

  3. BIKE: I did pretty good on the bike. I was walking a tight line on keeping the pace up and saving energy for the run. At this point it is hard to tell if I pushed too hard or not hard enough - my run was off and was going to be off regardless. On the back half of the bike - into the wind - my effort dropped. I will work on the mental toughness required to keep the pace up! I have done a lot of bricks this season but none at race pace - In need to throw in a lot of race pace bricks.

  4. RUN: I never got into a groove on the run. My feet were sore before I even left transition. However, even if I was feeling great (and my lungs and legs felt pretty good - but not great) I am still not sure if I would have been able to find that extra gear. When I ran that half marathon in the fall my heart rate was up near LT. This run was low zone 2. I'm just not sure if I could have picked it up and raced the run. I just ran it. Once again I need to have some race paced bricks and work on the mental toughness to deliver in these conditions.

  5. ENJOY THE RACE: I do a pretty good job of this but why not push through the pain, run a fast race and enjoy it the entire time. After all, I am doing this because they are fun. I need to live it up more - my pay check does not depend on my race results - it is okay to have fun.

Things that I did right.

  1. I tested my boundaries successfully. No injuries. I enjoyed the experience. At the time I was not sure if I wanted to continue this long distance racing after this year. A day or two out and I can't wait to test myself again.

  2. Swam in a wetsuit with out problem. Sure I had problems in the swim but it was not because of the wetsuit - if anything the wetsuit gave me confidence. I would probably be more scratched up if I did not have the suit on.

  3. Nutrition and hydration never caused me any problems. I took a gel just about every half hour once I was out of the swim. I taped them to the top tube of my bike and that worked great. I took them prior to the water stations on the run and that worked great. In training I took them every 45 minutes but I think 30 minute is just about right. I drank lots of water during the bike and run. I never had to pee but I also never really felt thirsty. The April heat was not a problem - of course I did not fly into town from some snow covered part of the country. I was also done with the race by 1PM - before the real heat of the day.

  4. Transitions went well. When I saw the size of the transition area I thought that there would be no way to do this fast. I thought 4 minutes a piece would be tough. Well, my bike placement was exceptional and that allowed for me to have both transitions combined come out to less than 6 minutes. I still need to learn to do the flying mount / dismount.

  5. Recovery was much better after this race than even the half marathon that I did in the fall. This race was a much longer duration (4 hours longer) but the intensity was a lot less. Also, I only had one beer at the race finish. I am sure that the beer negatively affects my recovery.

All things considered I learned a lot from this first 1/2 Ironman and I am confident that I can improve on my racing. I'm still excited!

Kristin over at The Lazy Marathoner told me that she over heard a spectator ask the runners what they got for finishing. One of the racers immediately yelled back "SATISFACTION"! Well said.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Race Report - RUN - 70.3 New Orleans

I jumped off of the bike and ran through transition. It went fine. I put on my bright blue, super light weight cushioned training shoes. I ran in a duathlon in these shoes last weekend and they felt great - super fast. The duathlon was a 2 / 10 /2 so I figured that the running was about a third of a half marathon.

My feet started to hurt jogging in transition. This would be a log run. I ran out of transition and down a grass hill and then onto the concrete. My heart rate was low - a low steady conversational pace - lungs felt fine. My legs were fatigued but they felt good. I knew that at this pace, not even having to pick it up and 'race' the run I could sustain 8 minute miles (or at least low 8 minute miles).

Not even a half mile into this half marathon my feet were killing me. I am a fore-foot / mid-foot runner and the balls of my feet were aching. I saw a guy sitting on the curb and getting something out of his shoe. I thought about it - it seemed like a good idea. Maybe there was a steel plate or something in the my right shoe. I stopped, sat down and took my shoe off. Nothing was in there. I rubbed my foot for a second and adjusted the quick ties. I hopped up and started running again. I was staying with a group of runners and just trying to make time. The first mile marker came up and I was running a near 9 minute mile. These first couple of miles were tough. I slowed to a shuffle at the first water station. I took a gel and drank two cups of water. Right around the 2 mile mark or so we had to run up a short bridge - I walked it - the feet were hurting.

At this point I knew I was going to be out there a while. I was getting passed occasionally and I passed a few (the sick and the hurt). There were a few racers really having trouble with the heat and cramps and the usual. They were keeping on and I was glad that I was not suffering to the extent that they were. I kept my spirits up by hamming it up with the crowds. There were 3 ladies with feather boas cheering on and I spun them up. I was high-fiving any kids on the course. Not your usual high-five but really giving it to them - I was having fun but really hurting between the lines.

I saw a bag-piper in City Park and yelled for them to crank it up! At this point my feet were hurting that I was running in the grass at all opportunities. Out on Elysian Fields there were some ladies cheering up some ripped guy in front of me - saying 'Now there is a real man'. When I passed I told them that they were looking at another real man. I'm not shy - I got my crowd support to say the least.

I was walking all the aid stations. I was eating gels and taking water. It was really just my feet that were saying stop. Elysian Fields felt forever. The mile markers slowly passed by. After about mile 7 I was walking 15 seconds at every mile marker and walking the aid stations.

I was doing the math in my head for my finishing time. Sub 5 hour (super fantasy - not going to happen time) was out the window at the start of the run. Sub 5:15 soon fell out of favor. Sub 5:30 was still possible.

The time between mile marker 11 and mile marker 12 was an eternity. I can not believe how long this mile took. I told myself I was not going to walk any more after mile 11. I ended up taking a couple of quick 15 - 30 second walk breaks. I could not help it. These were the hardest 9 - 10 mimute miles ever.

I saw the runners ahead of me turning right off of Elysian Fields and I knew that was the last push to Jackson Square and the finish. I turned the corner - there would be no stopping now - and the road looked long. My watch read about 5:26 or something close. Just a little further. Someone yelled and said only 800 meters to go - damn, half a mile! There was a lot of celebration right in front of me. Someone was pumping the crowds up - that was not me I was in tunnel vision mode and pushing through to finish this up. I passed the guy celebrating and ran ahead. I saw Jodie at the finish line and gave a fist pump. I crossed the tape at 5:30:21 - and I was very humbled by the race.

SWIM: 40:20(2:07/100m) T1: 3:05 BIKE: 2:42:48(20.64MPH) T2: 2:19 RUN: 2:01:49(9:17/mile)

169 / 101 / 85 - I think that is: swim / bike / run ranking. Age group was 89 / 329.

Well after the race I saw the bottom of my feet - they were all cut up! Next post will be after the race and lessons learned.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Race Report - BIKE - 70.3 New Orleans

Okay - I made it out of the swim. Some of my swim demons surfaced but I battled it out and crossed the timing mat at 40:20. I shut the door on the swim and ran through transition - the swim never entered my mind for the rest of the race.

My bike was in the first quarter of the transition area - bike closest to the bike start / finish. With wetsuit in hand I ran through transition. My feet were a little tender on the asphalt but I really did not notice them. It was a long run to the bike.

Helmet on - sunglasses on - really thin socks on - cycling shoes on. I clip-clopped to the mount line and clipped in (I'm not a flying mount / dismount guy yet). 3:05 in transition. It took me two tries. I had taped about 8 gels to the top tube of my bike and I took one at this point. I ate one every 30 minutes on the bike.

There were lots of bikes in front of me as we started out and I felt like going faster than them. I got up to speed quickly and my heart rate was still higher than I wanted. I tried to keep it low but was not very successful - it was about 162 and I wanted to keep it in the high 150's.

Out along the levee the wind was mild - there was wind but it was manageable. The route had completely closed road and lots of police support. About 20 to 30 minutes into the bike we came upon the first of the bridges. Some were overpasses and one was a draw bridge. I am not a strong climber - I'm and spinner not a masher. So I dropped down into my low crank for the draw bridge. I was not going to try and power up this steep bridge. I shifted a little too soon and lost some momentum but stayed seated and just kept spinning. Down the backside I was flying. I have no idea of the speeds but I was spinning out in my largest gear. Doing the gear math that would put it close to 40 MPH.

The first bottle exchange came up quick. I dumped the contents of my water bottle into my profile aero bottle and grabbed a fresh one. No drama.

The bike continued out into some swampy land along Chef Menteur Highway. It was windy at this point - the wind was blowing from the south west. A tandem bike was flying through the field. I believe that it was physically challenged athlete that was blind. That tandom was making some time!

I looked at my watch and I was an hour into the bike when I crossed the leaders heading back. Not sure who was in the lead but someone near me yelled go Macca. The soft tissue was starting to get a little irritated at this point. The cardio felt fine - the legs felt fine. We turned around on Chef Menteur Highway at about 30k's.

Turning around you could feel the wind. It was tough. I was making pretty good time but knew the wind would be a problem. After just a few miles we made a right turn North onto Highway 11. This took us out way into swamp land out onto a peninsula. There were boats and trailers decent crowd support. When we turned around on Highway 11 the wind took hold. There was another bottle drop at this point. I took a bottle and also managed 2 gels - better safe than sorry.

The wind was in your face and fierce. I am thankful that there was no dust or debris flying about. This stretch into the wall of wind was a little demoralizing. I was wanting to get off the bike. My heart rate had dropped and I was having to remind myself to keep up a good pace. There is definitely a mental aspect to these longer races - I need to work on this.

I turned back onto Chef Menteur Highway and the wind did not let up but I knew I was on my way back. I churned away on the bike and then I turned back North again on Paris Road. There was some relief from the wind and in the home stretch. I think I was passing the 2 hour mark on the bike. I was doing the math in my head and was still thinking that if I could jump off the bike and have a near perfect run than I would be close to my fantasy goal time.

Back along the levee and back up the draw bridge. I again shifted into my lowest gears and spun up the bridges. It was slow and steady but I was passing people. They suffered the wind also.

Lots of people were lined up along the street going back into transition. I was so ready to get off of the bike. My legs were tired but felt fine. My soft tissue areas were cooked. My skin was dry and caked with grim - grim from the lake and grim from me. I stopped and unclipped at the bike dismount line and looked at my watch - 2:42:48 - 20.64 MPH. I was pleased but the effort seemed like it was worth a little more.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Race Report - SWIM - 70.3 New Orleans

We had a nice dinner at Tony's sister's house on Saturday night. Everyone made Jodie and I feel as if we were at home. I ate a little too much. Went back to the hotel and had a little bit of trouble sleeping.

I woke up at about 4:30AM and started to get ready. There was nervous tension in the air. Checked out of the hotel and drove to the transition site to set up. The roads were already closed and not knowing the area well we kind of meandered around in the dark.

I finally found the long line of cars entering parking lots of the UNO (University of New Orleans) and parked in the residence parking lot. It was probably a half mile from transition. Started walking with my transition pack and then remembered that my wetsuit was in the car.

Walking into transition I literally bumped into someone doing body markings - short and sweet. I got into transition at 6:15AM (it would close at 6:45AM and my swim start was at 7:20AM). The swim start was about a mile and a half away (the walk is further than the swim). They had buses to take you most of the way there but the line for the buses were enormous. The time was 6:35AM and I did not feel that I could wait for the bus - there were lots of people walking. I had not planned for this and I would have to walk bare footed.

The rough asphalt was tearing up my feet so I tried to walk in the grass. Jodie offered me her shoes but I declined. Lots of nerves during the walk. I got to the swim start and got my timing chip. I was putting on my wetsuit as the pros took off at 7:00AM. I lined up in the corral ready to go with about 5 minutes to spare.

My age group (3rd wave of my age group) was called into the water. I waded out and filled my wetsuit with water. I positioned myself towards the back and waited for the horn. The water was shallow and I passed a lot of people by just continuing to walk for maybe 15 yards before swimming. I started swimming and I tried to control my breathing and concentrate on long gliding strokes. It was working. I was feeling good. I'm not sure what happened first - I either started to catch some of the people in front of me or people started to catch me - but I was in the middle of a lot of churn. I got kicked and hit in the face. I tried to regain my composure and keep swimming. I would take a few strokes and then get jostled. I would instinctively look up and by stopping I would be swam over.

My breathing was out of control at this point. I was trying to settle down back into a rhythm and was dying. I looked behind me and saw the second half of my wave converging on me. I had to settle down and get out of the way. I thought about quiting right then and there - it was that rough. I was only 2 buoys into the swim - out of 16. I swam over to one of the kayaks and ask the swim rescue guy that if I grab onto the hull of the craft if I would be disqualified. He said no. I'm not sure what I would have done if he had said that I would be done. Anyway I grabbed the hull of the kayak and caught my breath. He asked me if I was cold and I said that my heart rate was 175 and that I just needed a second to let it drop. After about 30 seconds the guy said that he was not sure how to get me to shore. I said that I did not want to go to shore and just need a couple for seconds. I probably held on for about 2 minutes (but time is kind of funny in those situations). I was better after that. I swam more towards the shoreline where is was less congested. I was still not in a good rhythm. I stopped again on a shoreline point before half way. I could touch the bottom and cleared my goggles.

I continued on with the swim. It was taking forever. Swimming along the shore every time I would stop and sight there was this lady yelling at me - she would say, not in an encouraging way, but rather demanding 'YOU'RE ALMOST THERE - DON'T STOP NOW'. That drill Sargent lady helped.

The rest of the swim was uneventful. Hard but uneventful. I pulled my wetsuit down half way and ran out of the water. There were strippers (I know it's New Orleans but not those kind of strippers) about 50 feet out of the water and I dropped down like a turtle. Short and sweet and I thanked the lady.

The run out of the swim was about a 100 yards up a small hill that was either grassy or carpeted. I ran across the timing mat in 40:20. I was glad to be out of the water.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Humbled by the wind - 1/2 Ironman New Orleans

I finished my first 1/2 ironman. The bike and run were billed as flat and fast. And the bike could have been except for the gale force winds. I finished in 5:30:21 and I am truly humbled. I know everyone always does this but I already see minutes for improvement. About 8 in the swim, 8 - 12 in the bike and 15 in the run. How do you do a sub 5 hour 1/2 ironman - first do a 5:15.

Full race report to follow.

1/2 Ironman 70.3 - show time!

Restless sleep last night. There is an athlete tracker online. Just enter my bib number - 680.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NOLA 70.3 - T-minus 1

I did a triathlon check list last night and packed up everything for the race. I still need to pack some clothes for the weekend. We should get to NO by about lunch time. Jodie has prepared all of the travel food - the drive is less than 2 hours, but... - we still need travel food.

I realize that adding the swim portion seems to require so much more stuff than the Duathlon I did just last weekend. For the Duathlon - bike, bike shoes, bike, helmet, running shoes, sun glasses and race belt.

True, this is a 1/2 Ironman and I have to travel so the list is much longer.
extra goggles
unitard thingy
bike flat repair stuff
bike shoes
floor pump
crack pipe - adapter thingy for race wheels
race wheels
water bottles
bike tools
running hat
running shoes
directions to race, etc
race foods (gels, etc)
heart rate monitor
heart rate monitor strap
towel - post race
transition bag
USAT card
wallet - money
victory speech

So once I get to NO I will go to the host hotel and do the mandatory race briefing, hit the expo (a little shopping maybe) and then drive to the bike check-in.

I hope to get a quick swim in the lake this afternoon. Kristin blogged about there being a pretty good chop in the water yesterday. I'll need to check that out.

Then off to the hotel to check in. I'm having dinner at a Tony's sisters house tonight in Meterie. Tony invited all of us Hattiesburg people down for pasta. It looks like a lot of fun.

Friday, April 3, 2009

NOLA 70.3 - T-minus 2 days

I went to the Keg and Barrel last night for the unveiling of a new brew - a Smokey Porter. I know Sam (different Sam - not local fast guy Sam but brew meister Sam). It really was dark and smokey. Very smooth but definitely the kind of beer that I can only drink one of. They also had an all you can get Bar-B-Que spread. Pork and beef and corn and all the fix'ns. Good stuff.

The fecal count of Lake Pontchartrain has gone through the roof in the last few days due to heavy rains. The beach where I will be swimming has gone from 24 to 350 MPN (mean probable numbers of colonies per 100 milliliters - or turds per square inch). They advise that swimmers use caution at anything about 200 MPN - not sure how to use caution while swimming - avoid the dark spots I guess. LINK

On a side note, someone sent me a funny onion article yesterday and then I saw this in the store and thought that life truly does follow art (I guess it is art). LINK

The market? Listen, we make the market. All we have to do is put her out there with a little jingle. It's as easy as, "Hey, shaving with anything less than five blades is like scraping your beard off with a dull hatchet." Or "You'll be so smooth, I could snort lines off of your chin." Try "Your neck is going to be so friggin' soft, someone's gonna walk up and tie a goddamn Cub Scout kerchief under it."

That's right 5 + 1 baby!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Swimming and leg cramps

I went to the gym today and decided to go for a swim. I was really just playing around and boosting my confidence in the swim. No warm up and 500 yards turned into 1000 yards and the one set ended up being 3000 yards (60 laps). Nice comfortable pace. However, between 2500 - 3000 yards I started to experience incredibly painful calf cramps. I mean these cramps were excruciating. I had to stop on at the end of one of the laps for my left calf and just stretch it out. It hurt really bad. I started swimming again since I only had about 5 laps left and on the 59th lap the other calf caught on fire. This one stopped me mid lap. Even after the swim was over sitting at my office my calves were more sore than if I had done a demanding leg workout.

I looked up possible causes of this can came across the following from here.
Triguy asks:

I often get leg cramps in my calves toward the end of my swims. How can I avoid this?

Triguy - firstly let me say that you are not alone, lots of athletes and especially triathletes suffer from calf & foot cramps while swimming. Here are some things you can do to help solve that problem:
1) Go into your swims well hydrated. This means water of course but not water alone - also include an electrolyte drink. A muscle is far more apt to cramp when dehydrated so keep yourself topped off.
2) Include ankle stretching in your body maintenance routine. Running often stiffens the ankles making it harder to point your toes very far. Swimming requires a more flexible ankle so that the foot becomes a long, smooth extension of the leg rather than a flat surface plowing through the water. One approach would be to simply kneel down on a soft surface, point your toes so the tops of your feet are on the ground, then sit back on you heels for a few minutes. This will stretch your ankles and improve you flexibility. This must be progressed into gradually!
3) Relax while swimming. Too much leg tension will over stress the calfs and all that does is elevate your heart rate without any benefit from propulsion. Keep your legs relaxed and your kick small and easy.

All the best, Ian

I'm not real worried about this upcoming 1/2 ironman but foot and leg flexibility will definitely be in my training regime prior to IM-KY!

Stadium lunges

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. - Thomas Edison
I have been getting to work early this week. No exercising in the morning and it seems like I have an extra hour. Not sure what to do with myself.

At lunch I went to the football stadium and did lunges up the bleacher seats. Not over doing it but a pretty demanding leg workout. And, I know that I should be in complete taper mode, but, I ran some 50 yard and 100 yard dashes at about 90 percent effort. It felt good. After the leg workout it was back to the gym for abs. I worked my abs a little bit on Tuesday but really hit them hard again. My midsection was sore. I try to work on functional strength as much as possible and swinging the bat in softball has really brought that to light. My left obliques are getting really sore after batting practice. I guess the side planks are just not up to the task. I have been investigating better oblique workouts. I have some old POWER 90 DVD's (the pre-cursor to the P90X) that have some killer ab workouts. I might need to dust those off. What is the point of doing these exercises if they do not translate to real world strength?

We did end up winning our second softball game by default again. The other team just did not show up - pathetic but we might make the playoffs!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

70.3 NO - T minus 4 days

I had a great swim in the pool on Monday at lunch. A couple of 500's here and there and then a 1500 yard set. I was cruising and felt like I could just keep swimming. I was not timing the sets but I was feeling the water! That just does not come naturally to me.

We won our first softball game on Monday night. The frat delta delta sig pi something or other did not show up. They thought that the game was at 7PM - nope 6PM. Brains over brawn. Sometimes you get the W by just showing up! Here I come New Orleans!

Yesterday was just a strength training day - abs and chest. During the bench press I felt uber strong. I was crushing the weight. And with this taper stuff I have rested my legs for two whole days. I'm not sure why but my appetite has really increased even though my work load is way down. Struggling with the weight but I am okay with it.

I'm not sure why but my legs have been aching like I have worked them hard. They are rested. I'm not used to these feelings. My legs usually feel fine or dead - right now they are achy. I hope that these days off are allowing them to recovery fully and I will have one of those super compensation days - like the chest work out yesterday.

Another softball game tonight - we might actually have to play.