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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hey, where did my Monday go? Sydney bound.

I am sitting in the New Orleans airport waiting on my flight. This is going to be a very long day. My flight leaves NO at 2PM. A short time later I arrive at Dallas where I get to spend about 4 hours at their airport. Then it is a much longer flight to LA. When I arrive at LA I get to spend about 2 hours at LAX. Finally I get to board my flight to Sydney. I will be on the flight for the next 18 hours. I am not a big aviation geek but I did specifically book my flight so that I would get to fly on the Airbus A380. The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine airliner. It is the largest passenger airliner in the world. In addition, there are 3 self-serve snack bars! This might present a problem since I am a nervous eater – and I am especially nervous when I travel.

Snack Bar

We went and lined the streets to watch the New Orleans Halloween Parade last night. As far as parades go it was pretty good – nothing spectacular. There are about 10 very large floats that were decorated very well. However, there was a very mechanical aspect to them. I seemed to prefer the more dynamic parade elements. There was a group of about 10 people dressed in some kind of voodoo straw outfit – maybe African witch doctor. And they were 10 feet tall (on stilts). These guys were extremely talented and they were jumping into the crowd and hopping around. They were showman! It was pretty incredible.
The other group that was exciting was the devils, witches, skeletons on horseback.  Their costumes were very dramatic.  I wish I would have had a camera with me.  We called it an early night in New Orleans although we could hear the parting well into the night – I mean day.  I went to the lobby to get some coffee at around 6AM and two guys stumbled onto the elevator.  They were both clutching 12 packs of beer.  One 12 pack was intact while the other had obviously been dropped several times.  This guy held the beer close to his chest as he rested against the elevator wall.  After a moment or two he spoke, looking to his friend he said, “How did I F@#$# that up?”  To which his friend replied, “She played you.”  This is an everyday occurrence in New Orleans.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jazz Half Marathon - A new PR - but not by much

Well, the Jazz Half marathon – I got a PR but not by much. I finished the race in 1:29:20 – that is a PR by 10 seconds.

I am not one to look a gift PR in the month but I wanted just a little bit more. Yes, that is greedy. Considering that I have not been training much and I got this PR on about 20 miles a week I really can’t complain. Also, this is the beginning of my marathon training. I think if I get a couple of good running months under my belt I should be able to drop this time by a couple of minutes. That is my goal anyway.

I met up with two guys at about mile 3. I jumped on one of their shoulders and and held for a couple of miles. At about mile 6 they seemed to slow so I took the lead. I would stay in the front for the next 4 miles. These guys stayed with me. We seemed to push each other the entire race. If I would have stayed in no man's land I might have started to fade earlier.

So, the race report. I got great weather. I tapered for about 2 days. I started out pretty strong. I started to fade at about mile 10. I got passed by three people from mile 11 to the end (one was a girl). I ran this race by heart rate most of the race. I only picked it up the last mile. I stayed at about 1 or 2 BPM higher than my previous LT runs. However, I was able to stretch out the distance.

All things considered I am pleased with this race. With a solid training plan, a lot of hard work and some gut wrenching determination I should be able to reach all of my running goals this season!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Anxiety times 2

So I have a benchmark half marathon this weekend and I am leaving the country for about a month! I have been ‘just a little’ anxious this week.

I always get race anxiety. I like to set goals. And these goals are usually just out of reach. They are not a sure thing by any means. So I guess I test myself and I do not want to come up short. This is where the anxiety comes in – I do not want to fail. I also know that these races will hurt. They will push me mentally and physically. I have been working on trying to convert the race anxiety to race energy. I think I do a pretty good job. I traditionally race well. The excitement (internal and external) allows for me to put up very good efforts. This will be a good test considering the enourmiously how low my running volume has been (we are talking less than 20 miles a week). That being said, I think I just might be able to squeek a PR out of this race. I mean, what is the point in racing if you can’t throw down a PR!

bra•va•do (brə-väˈdō)
noun pl. bra•va•dos or bra•va•does
1. a. Defiant or swaggering behavior: strove to prevent our courage from turning into bravado.
b. A pretense of courage; a false show of bravery.
2. A disposition toward showy defiance or false expressions of courage.
For this half marathon tomorrow I hope to be able to throw down a good benchmark that I can base all of my winter paces off. This race will determine my interval paces, my tempo paces and my long run paces. This is important to me. I will retest at another half marathon at the first of December.

I also get some anxiety from traveling. I pack too much. I think about things that I might need. It is excessive. And a trip like this – well, I have some anxiety to say the least. I am trying to change this travel anxiety into race energy. If I can get my mind wrapped around this I should have a fantastic race.
More stuff.

Making weight!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hot water and track work

The pool was lava hot on Monday. There had been a pool party Friday night movie – I think they showed Pretty in Pink (breast cancer awareness) in the natatorium. They must have bumped the temperature of the water – it was 88 degrees on Monday morning at 5:30AM. It was just too hot. We still got a good session in but we did not push it.

At lunch I failed again and let play get in the way. Racquet ball took play twice this week – and it is only Tuesday. I have decided that this game is truly getting in the way. Although it is not super taxing it does nothing for speed. However, it is enough actively to negatively impact my recovery. Damn. So I played Monday at lunch and got beat – all games. I then play a couple of games on Tuesday – I won the first and got beat the next two. I did cut it short and hit the weights for a good number of upper body exercises.

After work I met up with several of the Pine belt Pacers for Tuesday track work. This is really what I need. Since I am tapering for my half marathon race this weekend I need to drop the volume (if that is possible) and keep the intensity up. We ran 5 800’s. This pace was comfortable for me so I sprinted the last 100 yards of each. However, we also did 8 200’s. This is shorter and faster than almost anything that I run. It was very challenging. I did end up being very consistent. The first was 28 seconds and all other except for the second to the last were 37. The second from the last was 36 seconds.

The packing is just about done. I am on the fence about bringing my cycling shoes and pedals. I just don’t know the availability of bicycles in Australia. I really would enjoy going on some rides. I would love to see the Sydney on foot and the outlying areas by bike!

My stuff on the left - stuff for my sister on the right.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Packing for Australia

Am I forgetting anything?


___ 4 – Running shorts

___ 3 – Running shirts – sleeved

___ 1 – Running shirt – long sleeved

___ 1 – Running shirt – sleeveless

___ 2- Compression shorts

___ 1 - Swimsuit – jammer

___ 1 – Swimsuit – trunks

___ 1 – Swim goggles

___ 2 – Pair running shoes

___ 1 – Running visor


___ 1 – Blue jeans

___ 3 – Pair of shorts

___ 3 – T-shirts

___ 1 – Button up shirt

___ 5 – Pair underwear

___ 8 – Pair socks

___ 2 – Pair sleep shorts

___ 1 – Sandals

___ 1 – Rain jacket


___ 1 – Toothbrush

___ 1 – Toothpaste

___ 1 – Contacts

___ 1 – Contact solution and case

___ 1 – Sunscreen

___ 1 – Travel shampoo and conditioner

___ 1 - Dental floss

___ 1 – Razor


___ 1 – Laptop and charger

___ 1 – Camera and charger

___ 1 – Video camera (charger included)

___ 1 – MP3 player and charger

___ 1- GPS watch, heart rate strap, cable


___ 2 – Pair sunglasses

___ 1 – Baseball cap

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mountain bikes, road bikes, tempo runs and record highs!

I left work a little early on Friday. I had brought my mountain bike to work (in the back of the truck) and I was planning on meeting Matt and Raland for some trail riding. However, while at work I was joking around about stuff to take to Australia. My sister has mentioned that cigarettes are $17 a pack in Sydney. So I looked up customs to see how many I could bring into the country. Now, obviously I don’t smoke and neither does my sister or her family but …

Anyway, I could take 250 cigarettes plus one opened pack. I really was just joking around. However, while investigating customs I did notice that I need a visa for my trip next week. I think I remember looking this up months ago but …

I went to the visa site and it said that it could take up to two weeks to be processed – I am leaving this weekend! So I rushed home to apply for a visa – I needed my passport number and stuff. I filled out the form and paid my $20. A screen came up that said in very rare circumstances a visa could not be granted immediately and that I was one of these circumstance – great. My application had been forwarded to the, I don’t know, the Bureau of Visa and Kangaroos or something.

Well, I have learned that you cannot worry about these things. I put it out of my mind and hoped that it would not bother me all weekend. I jumped on my mountain bike and rode to the trails for the ride. Raland and I are very new to mountain bike riding but we have Matt to show us around. Matt rides a single speed, is quite accomplished and designed / created most of our mountain bike trails. Who better to show us around?

We rode all of the trails and had a great time. It was a little over an hour and only 10 miles. This was tough stuff.

When I got back home I checked on the visa – thank goodness it was processed and approved! No worries!

Saturday the group met up at Jackson Station for a morning ride. There was a good turnout of about 12 people. It was a pretty fast looking group. We headed out at a conversational pace. We jumped off of the trace at Clyde Station and made out way south towards Knight Road (part of the Mighty Magnolia Triathlon Course). There are a few hills out that way. I rode towards the front with Ed most of the ride. I was working on my steady state riding. I have been performing more 2 x 20 minutes at FTP on the trainer and wanted to test them out on the open road. I felt pretty solid. The ride was mostly at an easy pace but it was nice to get out in the country side. We ended up with 45 miles in about 2:30.

Sunday I woke up to a fast tempo run. I was not looking forward to this – it was going to be hard. I have a half marathon this coming weekend and I needed to test myself. A week is too short to build any real fitness. This was more for my state of mind. I planned 12 miles with the middle 10 miles at a fast pace. Two weeks ago I did a similar run with 10 miles and 8 miles fast. I wanted to duplicate that effort plus two miles. Once again this was going to be run by heart rate. My steady state hard LT effort heart rate is in the low to mid 70’s. I would keep it glued to the level. I checked the temperature outside and it was unseasonably warm – about 68 degrees and the humidity was … it was dank.  More record highs this week in Mississippi. 
I do realize how soon we forget – here I am complaining of the heat.  At least summer is over but it is supposed to be 92 tomorrow!
I only took a few cursory glances at my pace – my GPS watch was set to only display my heart rate. My legs were very tired from the biking the past few days. After the warm up mile I picked up the pace. My speed was in the good part of the 6’s. That was a good thing. However, I could really feel the temperature and the humidity. The last time I did this run it must have been 15 degrees cooler and much drier. The effort would be close to the same intensity but the speed would differ. And the speed did differ. I was about 20 seconds slower on the 10 fast miles than I was on the 8 fast miles at almost the same average heart rate.

I was pleased with the workout but not pleased with the speed. Running at my LT heart rate in the low / mid 170’s is hard work regardless of the speed. I just hope that for the half marathon on Saturday I can bring the speed. I am betting on a bump in performance from a short two day taper and hoping for a bump in performance with a drop in the temperature.

It won’t happen but I would love to be wearing a trash bag and freezing my butt off at the start of the Jazz Half Marathon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finding new running friends

I contacted the Lane Cove River Runners in Chatswood West (Sydney). They run in Lane Cove National Park a couple of times a week – bush trail or road.  I also contacted a Barbie from Trying A Tri.

From the Jim at the Lane Cove River Runners -
We have a run every Sunday morning in a different location for distances from 10 to 30 k’s, the people who want to run 10 to 15 start at 7:00 AM and the 20 to 30 k runners start at 6:00. The 6:00 AM start is for 4 hr Marathoners 6 :10 for 3 ½ hrs, 6:20 for 3 hrs and 6:30 for those super human types who run sub 3 hrs (or club champ at the moment is running in the low 2:20’s

On an average morning we can get around 100 people out on the streets, the runs cost us $4.00 and for that you get a map with directions, great company and at the finish there is fresh fruit, drinks, cakes and other runner centric snacks. The club welcomes international runners as we also travel all over the world so please come along, we have around 700 adult members so a very mixed bunch of ages (18 to 84) and abilities.
I think that I will have plenty of people to run with!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

FTP, Speed work and abs

I really enjoyed the BQ dialog in the comments.  I wonder - would the race fill just as fast regardless of the qualifying times?  I bet there are 25,000 people that could qualify at almost any time.  How many people qualify for the New York City Marathon?

I was exhausted after the weekend. 4:30AM Monday morning felt like it came early. I woke up in time for Adult Swim but I 86’d the session. I just don’t think I could have mustered a good performance. I got an extra 2 hours of sleep. I did not regret this decision.

At lunch I did jump in the pool. I did a warm up and cool down but in between I did 5 x 200 yards at a hard effort. I was trying to see if I was indeed faster than before. I thought back to my first 200 yard time trial – damn I smoked that thing. I remember that Raland was in the next lane and I was trying as hard as I could. Well, I was not able to beat that 2:44 from the very first time trial. I had a couple in the high 2:40’s and all were under 3:00 but I did not beat the initial swim time trial. Fitness wise I would say that I have progressed – I mean I was able to complete 5 efforts at close to my maximum but I did not edge the time lower.

After the swim I headed upstairs for a strength training session. I don’t think I have hit the weights since the Pump and Run (if you remember I was on the bench press a couple of times a week). I did not have a format but I have always loved chin ups (palms facing towards you). I remember when I was heaver and I could not even do one. The exercise was a challenge but I enjoyed the fact that you could do more and more whether you got stronger or lost weight. I still like the exercise. Anyway, I did 7 or 8 sets of chin ups – each to failure. I then played around with some machine rows and other such back work.

Monday night was another get together – I went to the monthly Poker Night. There was homemade lasagna and garlic bread and leftovers from the runner club meeting. I lost a couple of dollars and had a lot of fun.

I started anew on the training front for Tuesday. I woke up early and jumped on the trainer. I dialed in a single 20 minute effort at 10 watts higher than my previous best. I killed it like it was standing still. It was no problem. The effort was solid.

At lunch I planned on doing some intervals. It has been a couple of months since I have done structured speed work. I dragged Chad out with me to the trace. We dialed in 12 x quarter miles with 1:30 rest. All efforts should be at 1:30 (6 minutes per mile pace). This was achieved with several efforts in the low 1:20’s (like 1:21). The weather was cooler and the session was solid. I am not sure how we did these things when the temperature was 20 degrees warmer.

All Tuesday night my arms and abs and lats were killing me from the chin ups. I expected the lats to burn and even the arms to ache a little bit – but the abs? I know that we use our stabilized muscles all the time and especially in something like a chin up. However, I was surprised at the abdominal workout. I mean I am pretty damn active with the run, bike, swim and all the other stuff. I can’t believe that my abdominal strength deteriorated so easily without dedicated core workouts.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

115th Boston Marathon - Registration CLOSED

The Boston Marathon registration closed in 8 hours

BOSTON, Mass. – Registration for the 115th Boston Marathon began at 9:00 a.m. (EST) today, and closed at 5:03 p.m. (EST) The Boston Marathon -- the world's oldest and most prestigious annual marathon -- will take place on Monday, April 18, 2011, Patriots' Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 115 years, this is the fastest period of time in which the field size limit has been reached.

The number of entrants for next year’s race remains as it has been in recent years. In 2010, the race had 26,790 entrants and 22,721 finishers. For the 2010 Boston Marathon, registration filled in just over two months.
Qualifying times are based upon your age on the date of the Boston Marathon - April 18, 2011.

This begs the question - do the qualifying times need to be changed?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Heavy breathing in the morning

I was reluctant to get out of bed for Friday’s Master’s Swim. Four thirty in the morning still comes by awfully early. I was not the only one having trouble. Everyone at the Friday session got their own lane. Now, normally in Friday we do a lot of drills and stuff. This session proved different. We got one of the hardest workouts yet. The main set consisted of 3 x 10 x 50 on 1:15 with 60 recovery.

Does that make sense? The main set consisted of 10 x 50 on 1:15 repeated 3 times with 1 minute rest between each group of 10. These were done at an all out pace – there would be 30 50’s all out (Coach Steve put me on 38 – 39).

The first 50 I did in the high 36’s. That would not be sustainable. I recovered with the 30 seconds rest and repeated the effort. Next was about 37 seconds and then they settled into the appropriate range. This was a demanding workout. At one put Coach Steve remarked on the panting that was taking place in the pool. He said, ‘I love the sound of respiration in the morning.’ This was an obvious reference to Apocalypse Now. I replied, ‘It smells like VICTORY!’ Yep – I will use this in the future.

The campus was closed to students for Fall Break and we were having a Fall Festival in my IT department. I am on the committee that helped to organize the event. We had a couple of games of flag football. Late in the day we played a lot of Bocce and threw the Frisbee around. I also got an hour of racquet ball in – there was not any run training but a lot of game playing.

I ended up not getting home from work until 1 AM – I was at campus from 5:30AM – 1AM. It was a long day. I woke up just in time to get dressed for the Sunday group ride. There was a good group of us and we did an easy 35 miles. After the ride I took a warm bath (I was cold) and then took a nap. We went to a friend’s house later that night for good food and drink. I had too much of both. This was another late night.

On Sunday I had planned a hard 12 mile run with 10 miles of the run fast. I headed out for the run at 10AM. I ran the first easy mile without trouble. When I went to pick up the pace I could not bring it. I was off of my paces. After half a mile trying to sort out the speed I turned around. It took me about another mile to screw my head back on straight. I decided to jump off of the trace and onto a trail. I was going to salvage the run. Although I did not meet my initial goals I did not shut it down. I ended up with 6 miles of trail running. I was able to turn the corner and turn a negative into a positive.

Sunday afternoon I had a meeting with the running club. I met up with Charles on the trace and we rode our bikes the 12 miles to the meeting. There was, once again, more good food and drink. However, this time I did not over indulge with the drink.

It was a busy fun weekend but now it is time to get back on diet and more diligent on the training.

UPDATE:  Boston Bound! 
Boston Athletic Association
Dear James:
Your entry for the 115th Boston Marathon has been received, and your spot in the race has now been reserved, pending verification of your entry and qualifying information.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kicking the habit

I have been slacking again. Just not working the plan.

Instead, I have been playing games – Racquet Ball (say that like NEWMAN). I have played racquet ball almost every day this week. Sure it has been fun and I dominate like nobodies business but it is just a dang game. It really is just exercise. It will not improving my running, biking or swimming. Sure, I enjoy destroying and humiliating my co-workers on the court but I am only hurting myself.

I have a half marathon at the end of this month but it not an A race. But it is a benchmark race. You see, I will use this race to see where I am in my running and base my paces off of this race. I believe that I can be successful in this race (PR) but I have not trained effectively for it.

However, today my racquet cohorts were occupied and this worked out for the better. I went for a 6 mile run at lunch with Chad. The weather was beautiful and it was good to get outside. We started out easy and I pushed the pace – just a little bit. Each mile was progressively faster. It felt good.

I am on Day 1 of kicking the racquet ball habit.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food

My sister, Francie, sent me an email the other day and I have decided to post it on my blog.  I found it very interesting.  My sister and her family recently moved to Australia (I am going on vacation to visit for the entire month of November!)  As a side note - I ate a whole bunch of pop tarts while training for ironman last year.

I started watching that course through Yale University about The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food. It's great! Of course, it confirms a lot of what I already knew and thought.

Here is a link:

The module I just finished compares the food environment and human body of our ancestors with the current situation. He talks about how hard people used to have to work to get food and how starvation was a real threat whereas today food is every where and overnutrition and obesity are much bigger threats than undernutrition.

They have studies where they make available to lab rats more nutritious food than they could ever eat. These rats eat a normal amount of food and maintain a normal weight. Then they give lab rats an abundant supply of oreos, cheetos, etc--a variety of junk foods--and these rats triple their weight fairly quickly. It's biology--our bodies, like those of the rats, are programmed to go for the fat, sugar, and variety because that's what helped our ancestors stay alive.

Also, if they give the lab rats, just a ton of oreos, they get sick of them. So a key factor is a variety of junk foods.

Apparently, the same thing has happened with the Pima Native Americans in Arizona. They used to be poor and live a traditional life. Then they got the right to open the only casino in Arizona. Guess what happened? With wealth, this population of Pima Indians became obese and with that came an overabundance of chronic diseases like diabetes.

Nearby is another Pima community not a part of the casino. They on average weight 60 pounds less. They are almost identical genetically, but have far fewer chronic diseases.

The difference is in the availability of junk food and the amount of exercise.

One population is sedentary and eats junk food. The other has to work (exercise) and eats a more traditional diet.

By the way, our bodies also tend toward being sedentary b/c conserving energy was another way our ancestors stayed alive.

So one question that came up during the lecture was is educating people about nutrition and exercise enough? If our biology is set towards being sedentary and eating junk foods, is knowledge enough? He made the point that some people can resist, but fewer and fewer can or do, as foods are everywhere and processed foods contain more and more fat and sugar.

It made me revisit the idea of balance and diet. A lot of people advocate for giving kids some exposure to junk food so they aren't overwhelmed when they leave home. Also, most of our public service dollars go toward education--telling people that smoking and junk food are bad for you, etc. But if the environment coupled with the marketing and availability (remember the rats didn't even have marketing or peer pressure or economics....just availability) is so powerful, the question of whether education and moderation is enough is important. Maybe it's the environment that needs to be changed. That would take a miracle in the US--to get the economic forces to sway toward healthy foods and away from junk foods..... If only the health costs of junk foods could be included in the price....I think that could make a difference eventually....

Still here even (Australia) with cigarettes at $17 a pack, people smoke. I see people smoking and wonder How can they afford it??

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trainer rides and tempo runs

I volunteered at the Mighty Magnolia on Saturday. It was tough watching the athletes. I wanted to be out there. The weather was beautiful. I think I could have competed well.

When I got home from the race I was a little bummed out. I decided to jump on the trainer and smash out a workout. I loaded up a difficult session. It would be 3 x 6 minutes at a challenging wattage. The recovery would be relatively short at 3 minutes. If you remember I was first successful with this workout at the beginning of the summer. I have since failed twice.

I killed the workout out. Yes it was tough but I was able to complete it. However, there were a couple of different variables. First, my heart rate monitor was not working. In addition, my Garmin malfunctioned. One of the buttons got stuck. I could not see my heart rate – not on my computer (hooked to the trainer) or on my Garmin. I was riding blind. I also decided to pedal at a lower cadence so that I could start to build some leg strength.

So I do not know how hard I was working but I was able to complete the session. Once again, I would not say that it was easy but it was achievable. I was satisfied with the effort.

On Sunday I had a solid run. I have been trying to add some speed into my workouts. I have a half marathon at the end of the month. I will be using this race to base my training for the next few months. I believe that my running is improved from this time last year and it should allow for me to build on this base.

Instead of running by pace I decided to mix it up and run by my LTHR. I had previously determined this level by my average heart rate at my last 5k (the pump and run). My LT zone was 175 – 185 beats per minute. I started out on my run at my easy pace – about 8 minutes per mile. I then picked up the pace and tried to keep my heart rate in the mid 170’s.

I ran the next 8 miles at this hard level. This level starts out comfortably hard and then slowly increases to hard. I tried to my pace and just concentrate on the heart rate and rate of perceived exertion. I continued along just running hard. My heart rate climbed a little bit as the run went on but I was successful. After the 8 miles at pace I slowed it down for the last mile. I completed the run on 1:10:24 for an average pace of 7:02. I have run 10 miles at 7 minutes per mile pace before – a couple of times. This can be hard but it is achievable – even in training. However, I was pleased with the 8 miles at speed. I completed the 8 miles with an average heart rate of 172 BPM in 53:46 (6:43 minute per mile). Now this was a training run and in a race situation I should be able to push a little bit harder and a little bit further. On the flip side, I only ran 8 miles – about 5.1 miles short of the goal. I have 20 more days to put it all together.

All in all, I am faster than a year ago but I still have my work cut out for me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

This ironman stuff really is just a mental game.

Did you guys watch the Kona Ironman Championship on Saturday? That was the most exciting ironman that I have ever seen. I was on the edge of my seat. You see, I am a big Macca fan. I tend to really like the LOUD spoken athletes. These guys that talk a big game and deliver (I am a Contador fan also – but we can leave that discussion for another day). Don’t get me wrong – Crowie is a great athlete and he really lets the results speak for themselves. But I think it is the people like Macca that make it interesting. Oh, he talks a game. But I love it.

I knew as the runners were sorting themselves out that people would start to blow up. It was a nail biter of a race this year. There was no forgone conclusion of who was going to win.

When Andreas Raelert pulled up next to Macca I thought the race was over. I know, even from my little racing corner, that you have to pass with authority. You cannot let them think that they have a chance – they will come with you if you let them. It was amazing to watch these guys run stride for stride with each other. Keep in mind that they had already competed for 137 or so miles.

The mental toughness of both competitors was so impressive. All the training, all of the sacrifice and it still comes down to who can tough it out. Man, it makes you want to go - there is just that little hurdle of qualifing.

This ironman stuff really is just a mental game.

Friday, October 8, 2010

This running thing is really just a mental game.

I love it when a plan comes together! - John 'Hannibal' Smith
Are we success junkies? I used to work in management – a long time ago. When I had to fill a position there was always a length interview process and all of that stuff. But most of the time it came down to the person. You can teach most anyone a skill set. It is much harder (near impossible) to try and change someone’s basic philosophy. Are they a ‘go getter’? Do they take pride in their accomplishments? Do they attribute their failures to external factors? I was late again because of the traffic, I did not get the report done because … we it doesn’t matter – the bottom line is you did not complete the task.

Anyway, I digress. I think most of us in this same blog-o-sphere like to succeed. We put ourselves in positions so that we reach our goals. And I am not talking about little easy goals like getting out of bed or holding down a job. We set goals that are out of our reach – goals that would have been impossible weeks, months, or years ago. But we plan them out and we achieve them. We do this because we like to succeed. And, as we know, success breeds more success. You meet you goal for a 5k and the next thing you know you want to go faster. Now you want to go further and faster!

On Thursday night I failed. I had planned on running home from work – about 6 miles (funny, I say about six miles but I know exactly how far it is – it is like someone asking you what your PR is for whatever – Oh yeah, my ironman was something like 11:18:14 – something like that – I can tell you the splits - lol). I set myself up for failure. I put this workout at the end of the day when I know I am statistically less likely to be successful. On top of running late in the day, after two prior exercise sessions, this would be a demanding workout – I wanted to run home and I wanted to run fast.

I ended up skipping the workout – failure. I was given an opportunity to get home and I took it.
This affected me Thursday evening. I mean, I was not devastated but I was disappointed in myself. I needed a victory. Instead of Adult Swim this morning I put the run back on the docket. I was going to run into work and I was going to run fast. Oh, wait a minute – this was going to be a hard workout and what if I failed? I need to ensure success but it still had to have some meat to it – it could not be a walk in the park. Well, I did a quick evaluation. Tuesday night (yes night – after work) I had some success. I ran 6 miles and 4 of them were fast – miles 2, 3, 4 (that was the success – 3 consecutively fast miles) and mile 6 (6:30 minute per mile is fast for me right now). This was a hard workout for me. I decided to call up the ole virtual nemesis on the GPS but I was going to be successful – I need 5 consecutive ‘pretty’ fast miles. I plugged in the numbers for 5 miles at – wait for it – 6:45 pace. What? Slowing it down? I think it would have been difficult to my ego to fail on this run. I don’t do this often but sometimes success is more important than breakthrough runs.

Anyway I started out and very little warm up and me and the nemesis were neck and neck. I started to put some distance between us. I was running comfortably hard but I was not overdoing it. I was cruising along. The gap between us widened some and then he started to fall back a little bit. I never looked at my pace but I knew that I was a little faster than 6:45. I was able to keep the pace for the entire 5 miles. This was a solid victory. I was back on track. I had almost guaranteed success. I need a win.

After the run into work I looked at my pace for the 5 miles. Well, they were all faster than 6:45 and many were faster than 6:30 – I ran the 5 miles at an average pace of 6:31. This was huge. This was a very solid run at a very solid pace. Now, I have to ask myself, “What would have been the results if I had needed to run 6:30 for success?”

I needed a W in the win column and I got it!

Sometimes you have to alter the goals – remember it is the big picture that we are after and these are just the day to day steps to get there.  This running thing really is just a mental game.

Are you a success junkie?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

FTP power for winter training

Tuesday morning I jumped on the trainer for a serious session. I was going to conduct 20 minute all out effort to attempt to obtain my FTP (Functional Threshold Power – the power you should be able to hold for 1 hour). I did a not long enough warm up with several spin ups for about 10 minutes. It was very early in the morning and still dark outside.

I started up the trainer with a 20 minute time period with a set inclide (slope) of 1 percent. This would allow for me to go as hard as I can. I out on my head phones, turned up the volume, started the vornado fan, turned off the lights and put dark songlasses on. I was going to pedal hard and try to zone out. These are very tough for me. It is a fine edge on how hard to go – I have failed many times by blowing up. It took a couple of minutes or two selecting gears before I found the sweet spot.

I then zoned out and tried not to listen to my legs. They were burning early on and I really wanted to quit several times. I took a glance at the clock and it had only been 8 minutes. I shut my eyes and kept pedaling. I was saying to my self that I would not look again until 3 songs had passed. The songs, although very up tempo, took forever. I was thinking that they must be the 12 inch extended versions (yeah – that is a vinyl reference).

Anyway, the next time I looked up it was 18 minutes. Just a couple of minutes more – this is where I know that I will be successful. I can do anything for 2 minutes.

I wrapped up the session with my legs quivering and exhausted. I will use this 20 minutes average power to build my winter training plan (average power for 20 minutes all out – 5% should give me my FTP).

Since I use a trainer that shows a power number this is really only relative to me. I can’t compare my number to your number because I don’t know the acruracy of my trainier. My like a scale at home – the number does not matter but the precision (repeatability) is what is important.

I did calculate my power to weight ratio (W/kg) for 1 hour. With my FTP is showed me as an untrained school girl. I think I have my work cut out for me this winter.
This is from the Training and Racing with a Power Meter Journal - this is funny to me -

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Adult swim and FIRST training

So Sunday afternoon we met at the race site to set up the racks. We had enough people that including travel and pounding the posts into the ground for the fencing it still only took about 3 hours.

Morning came quick for Adult Swim. I was very tired – I tossed and turned – probably too much sleep from the night before. The working set was demanding. It consisted of 200’s, 100’s and 50’s times 2. I have noticed, as well as Coach Steve, that there is very little difference between my speeds at different distances. It takes so much more energy to go just a little bit faster. I was trying to slow down for the 200’s and finish them on 3:15 but the first few sets I was coming in at 3:00. And then on the 100’s I was coming in at about 1:28-29 and the 50’s it was like 42 seconds.

My endurance trumps my speed. This happens in cycling and running as well. I guess I am built for distance but I sure am working on the improving the fast stuff.

I have actually put pen to paper (pixel is screen) and I wrote a training plan that should help me achieve my running goals without allowing my swim and cycling to deteriorate. The main difference is replacing quantity with quality. The running and cycling will follow more of a FIRST (Furman Institute) training plan – just three demanding breakthrough workouts a week – intervals, tempos, and long distance.

On a side note I received my USAT Level I Coaching Certificate!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mighty Magnolia Pre-Race Ride

I sent out a broadcast email to see if anyone wanted to meet on Saturday morning to ride the Mighty Magnolia Course (and maybe get a swim). We would get to the race site at 7AM. The race takes place in an undeveloped subdivision on the west side of town. I was surprised to see all of the cars when I got there.

There were between 30 and 40 of us starting out on the course (16.5 miles). We were going to ride the first loop at a nice warm up pace and then hammer the second loop. We started out slow but, per normal, the pace picked up a little bit. Both loops ended up being at about the same pace. The B-team turned out in near full force. It was nice to touch base with JD after successfully completing the Redman last weekend. I had also not been on a ride with Lance or Dan in a while. I see Raland a couple of times a week at Adult Swim and on the bike.

After the two loops there were a few of us going for a swim. The water felt cool – about 79 – 80 degrees. If legal I would definitely wear a wetsuit but once you were swimming the lake felt great. It was near perfect temperature for racing.

After the ride / swim many of the same people met up to stuff the race packets for next weekend. We stuffed 390 packets! With 10 or so people the work was done in about an hour. This is where just having bodies’ helps so much.

After packet stuffing Jodie and I went to the October Fest. We met up with some friends from the university. I ate a bit and had one (1) beer – that was it. Later at home we ate some dinner and planned on watching a movie. I had been wearing my contacts all day and had a slight headache. I almost never feel bad but wearing contacts for too long is something that affects me. I usually only wear contacts when I exercise and then take them out for the rest of the day.

I looked in the medicine cabinet for something. I found some generic pain reliever and popped a few. Funny thing is that I did not realize that these were PM type pain relievers (pm = pain medication – nope). Well, we put in the movie around 7PM – I was out cold by 7:30PM. Jodie figured out what I had done and sent me to bed. I was a little grouchy from trying to stay awake.

I got up at 6AM for a total of 11 hours of sleep. I probably needed it.

Last weekend I rode 50 miles on Saturday, ran 14 miles on Sunday and rode another 30 something on Sunday afternoon. It was good fun but I took forever to recover from the weekend. I was run down the first half of the week. What good is working out if you can’t come back bigger and better? So I was going to run shorter (but faster) this Sunday. I decided to do my normal base building pace (right around 8 minutes per mile) but run a couple in the middle faster. So I ended up with only 6 miles but miles 2, 3 and 6 were at a 6:30 minute per mile pace. The cooler temperatures helped. I am going to start throwing in tempo runs more often. Sunday afternoon I would miss the group ride due to setting up the racks for next weekend’s race.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mighty Magnolia Race Entry Winner

I have tabulated the results for the Mighty Magnolia Race Entry. If you recall, the race filled up pretty fast this year. The race is at 365 regular entries. Ben, the race director also offered up 10 additional charity slots – there are only two of those entries remaining ($125 each).

To get the results I assigned a number to each eligible entry (you must be local and be committed to doing the race – I do not want the entry to go to waste). I tried to use to pick the number but it did not work. Ah, the heck with it – I stole this from Lindsay over at Chasing the Kenyans. Very creative –

As you can see, everyone that wants to do the Mighty Magnolia is already signed up to do the Mighty Magnolia. I had planned on volunteering for the race (I am still stuffing packets and setting up racks – I you would like to help out this weekend please shoot Ben an email – He can use all the help he can get – 165 entries – that is a lot of bike racks to set up this Sunday afternoon) – but I guess I am racing after all. That is right – I won my own contest (I was the only eligible entry)!