Thursday, September 29, 2011

A new approach and it is working well ...

Moderation. Yes, I said it. Moderation is the key. I was BOMBING my workouts up until mid September and my preparedness for races was decreasing with each effort. Backing off a bit and reassessing the nutrition has worked like a charm. My speed is back "on the on ramp" and my knees and shoulders are no longer bothering me as much as they were. I had three fantastic brick workouts this week.

Why am I training for Ironman? What is my motivation? What do I get from it?

I began training for Ironman to realize a dream. I am starting to realize that the process is the dream and that May 5th, 2012 is just the day that I get to experience the full joy of realizing and managing that process to a milestone. This effort is much larger than swim, bike, run. It is much larger than most efforts I have pursued. It is much larger than a participation medal or a tattoo. By the way, I think I have my tattoo design and location figured out.

What is my motivation? Simply put, change is my motivation. I am not changing who I am as a person. I am changing the way that I interact with the world. From all of this I hope that my life choices will be more controlled. I want the sense of calm I feel on a long run to bleed over into my real life. My motivation is that I am changing my motivations, if that makes sense.

What do I get from it? This is so deep that I do not even fully understand it yet. On the surface, I get competition. I thrive on that. A little deeper, I love the science involved in the process. Further, I get a real charge out of progress ... no matter how slight. At the deepest or perhaps the most simple level, I get a chance to see if I can survive and thrive in extreme conditions.

I am not going to update the blog until after the Olympic race on Sunday. October kicks in and I get to participate in four races in one month! I am stoked!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thank goodness for my training schedule

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my wife for signing us up for that first triathlon back in April. A whole new world is open now and that is because of you.


I despise big city traffic. I guess I am still a small town guy at heart. If you are not on your way to work or have somewhere to be ... stay home until 9am or so to allow the working populous to get to work without having to dodge you. Oh, and while I am at it - if you are not hauling butt - stay out of the left lane.


I took yesterday morning off from training. Why? Because I wanted to and needed to recover. We had a good spinning session last night after we lifted some weights.

This morning we went to Mr. Cadriel's spin session. I like having two different spin instructors. It keeps my legs guessing. That was one heck of a hill workout.

At lunch today I ran 3 miles to the gym, swam 500m and then ran back to the office. I have dubbed this the UTI Splash and Dash. I have asked my coworkers to join me but have no takers yet.

Tonight I have swim lessons. My form is getting better. It is still not perfect and it still takes a tremendous amount of mental focus to get through a session ... but it's better.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back to the routine - learning daily - the Grand Canyon

The last week or so was fun, busy, crazy, educational, tiring, invigorating and well-timed in relation to my training.

So my reduced schedule from last week is still bearing new fruit. The rest was NECESSARY. I am seeing much faster times than ever in both my bike and run workouts. I feel consistent and strong with no nagging aches. Recovery is just as important as training. No question.

I learn something about training and life on a daily basis. Today I learned that if I focus on relaxing my leg that is on the return path - that leg gets a good break from strain. I think I have always fought against gravity in my run by being too tense. This weekend I learned that my minimalist hiking shoes beat my toes to death and they are not worth the savings in weight. (No they are not toe shoes.)

What am I doing hiking ... errr backpacking in the Grand Canyon a week before my first Olympic triathlon? Because the Grand Canyon rules and that is when the park service gave me the back country permit. This was my third trip to the bottom in 2011! A new personal record. My friend Neil and I walked approximately 22 miles on Saturday with our packs. We camped remotely out near Cremation ... then walked out the 6 miles yesterday. Yes, my quads are burnt. Yes, I will recover. Yes, the triathlon training is already resumed.

This week's focus is on getting caught up with work, traithlon-related mental imagery, nutrition refinement and swim technique. I feel good. I feel like I could be fast at Bartlett. I hope so.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Current Points Standings - Tri Family Racing Age Group Series

Carrie is first in points ... by a long shot.

Bryan is in first - but the dudes are closer to him --

A Few Days North and East

Greetings from Boston Logan Intl. Airport. Free wi-fi still amazes me. I'll get over it some day ... but let me continue to be amazed for now.

So this week has been more about re-centering mentally and slowing the training pace down a bit from the efforts last week. The plan worked perfectly. The wheels did not fall off. No blown diet. No ill-timed incidents. Two surprise workouts ... and lots of walking.

Vermont. Good job! We did the Ben and Jerry's tour. We went to visit Green Mountain Coffee. Lake Champlain is very nice.

New Hampshire. Good work! We stopped off in Concord and Bath. We visited some covered bridges and met some great people.

Montreal. Wow. You shocked us. My French is awful ... and it turns out most of you speak that language. Oh well. It was our first time outside of the continental US and it was educational. I even managed to figure out how to recalibrate the speedometer on the car to Kmh so that I could see how much I was breaking the local speed limit. You all should really consider cutting back on smoking. Do you not know about the harmful effects? Is it just that cool to "smoke a fag" or what?

Boston. There is so much history and educational opportunity in this city that it is a little overwhelming. We went on a bike tour (of course) with a tour guide whose full-time job is a professor of animation at MIT. Yes, that was an educational and fun bike ride. We visited the maparium. Look it up. We also went to Fenway to see the "Sawks" play a game. It is the best park in which I have been. No question. Keep that.

A few break through lessons in the water over the past two weeks have my confidence in the water increasing and I cannot wait to do the Olympic and the Half.

If the plane ever gets here ... we'll be back in Phoenix for 24 hrs and then I am off to guide a noob to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Are my calves ready? Tune in next week to see.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fatigue is real ...

I can admit two things. One: Tuesday and Wednesday's awesome training sessions absolutely murdered Thursday's and this morning's workouts. Two: I am not taking in enough calories to support my expenditure. This is by design. I am trying to get lighter by October 23rd.

That said, I still completed my training sessions. Granted, they were not at the pace I would have liked, but I am still VERY pleased with the Olympic + simulation I did this week.

Next week I get to back off just a little bit before the final push into October's heavy race schedule.

My friend Sally Borg is competing in her first triathlon. She chose to do an Olympic distance with an ocean swim as her first. Freak! Go Sally!

More later - BH

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wow - what a great 24 hour span of training

Yesterday morning I headed to the gym at 4:05am. The pool was crowded. I was both proud and shocked that people were out in force on an early Tuesday.

Swimming is still my least favorite, but it is no longer a chore like it was back in May when we first started the triathlon journey. It is actually very enjoyable when I am near the end of the workout and I KNOW that I can go further than the set distance.

The bike workout was in the form of Spin. In Spin, I tend to go extremely hard and last night was very difficult. We did lots of hill work. I estimate about 25-30 miles in that workout.

Immediately after Spin, I headed out for my run. I could have just done 6.25 miles and accomplished my goal of simulating the Olympic distance. I could have settled on 10 because it fit my schedule. Instead, I went for the 13.5 mile distance. Why 13.5? My turnaround point is at 6.75. I am a simpleton. I like order among chaos. The run felt great. The pace was very manageable. It was not race pace, but I was consistent and I felt like I had a negative split (the last half of the run was faster than the first half).

Then I watched the movie Hot Tub Time Machine. It makes me giggle. We finally went to bed about 11:30pm.

4:00am was early this morning. I had a little trouble rolling out of the rack ... but once I was up I was ready to go. So we headed out to Dan Cadriel's Spin class over in the west valley. What a great workout. I averaged about 90 rpms and 170 watts this morning. Once again, this was a hill-laden Spin session.

I will probably rest tonight. I reserve the right to hit the pool for some swim drills though. We have to go to the grocery. I am eating everything in sight.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Controlled Extremes

I generally like to wait at least two workouts before posting to my self-centered ramblings.

Today is no exception. Yesterday was a first - I think. We did the sprint race in Prescott, ate lunch, drove back to Phoenix, unloaded the car and then headed up to the gym to lift weights and swim.

Then, this morning, I did a fast 20 miles on the bike followed immediately by a 5 mile run. I actually felt pretty darn good. I have a little soreness in my left knee from all the climbing on the bike yesterday, but it is not bad.

I intend to go to the gym at lunch. Today's menu just includes some weight training.

Speaking of menus ... I left my food at home that I had intended to bring to the office. Sometimes what little brain I have completely goes away.

I am going to get super strict with my nutrition over the next four weeks. I need to be 180 lbs or less prior to the half Ironman on October 23rd. I am currently 192 lbs. That's 12 pounds in four weeks, you say. I know. Do not remind me. I'll make it happen. Don't you worry about it.

Rant #1: If I am on my bike at 5:23 in the morning riding at about 20mph and following all the rules of vehicular traffic with a head and tail light ... and you are walking in the street wearing all black with NO headlamp ... feel free to simply yield to me rather than scream "hey hey hey" while you walk down the middle of the street. You are lucky I saw you at the last second. You are also lucky that I didn't swing around and explain the rules to you rather than simply saying "excuse me" really sheepishly. I go out of my way to follow the rules of the road when I am on my bike because I want to live.

Rant #2: Please fit your bike to your height and ride it properly if you do not want me to pass you. And when I do pass you and your "wonkiness" keep your snide comments to yourself. So let me get this straight "Ms Thang" it makes you mad that I pass you but yet your elbows stick out about 14 inches from each side of your body ... and your knees flare out even further ... but yet it's my fault that I pass you and you feel it necessary to call me a "jerk" when I go by. All I said was that I was passing "on your left."

Rant #3: Good morning to you too Phoenix. So it cooled off a little bit and the fair weather exercisers came out in droves this morning. I think the previous rants have something to do with this rant. I've been training 5 or 6 days a week since January - no matter the weather. I should be faster than you. I should sneak up on you and startle you. I am fairly quiet and I mind my own business.

Please do not mistake this blog entry as arrogance. I really do want people to get out and train. I know I am not the only person out here working hard to get into and stay in shape. However, if you are going to play the game ... feel free to know the rules and do some homework before you jump in head first. There are some of us out here that are truly trying to accomplish something bigger than walking around the block before work.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fun triathlon in Prescott - time to get serious

The bike is my strongest event ... and it turns out that I have NOT lost my ability to climb at altitude on the velocipede. This was a fun race up in Prescott, AZ put on by TriFamilyRacing.

150m swim, 15 mile bike, 2.5 mile run.

Overall time: 1:15:38. 7th place overall and 2nd place in my age group. (35-39)

Before the race, there was a nice tribute, a Dan Candriel-sang national anthem and a moment of silence for the victims of 9-11. It was emotional.

The swim was better than usual for me because it was short. Rather than giving up minutes in the swim ... I only gave up seconds. Nonetheless my 3:18 time for the 150m swim was probably my fastest pace ever. I did not work super hard in the pool because I knew I was going to leave it all on the 15 mile - super hilly - bike course. I don't have topo output of the course, but it was a fair amount of climbing. I still averaged 16.4 mph on the bike. My run time was okay (6:51 mile pace) - but I was a little hindered by a stiff mid-back - on which I am getting some work done tomorrow. To perform this well at 5000+ feet is a confidence boost.

This week's training will be intense and I have been looking forward to it for about a month. I am going to try and do some sort of brick workout every day this week. On Tuesday, I am going to simulate the Olympic distance triathlon.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The weekend is here!

After the brick on Wednesday I took a little time to recover and try and kill this sinus / cold thing once and for all. The training resumed on Friday night. Date night now consists of a visit to the gym. We lifted weights and then swam. It was not the best workout of the week, but it was beneficial.

I have tweaked my left shoulder and it is annoying. I don't think it is training-limiting ... but I think I need to be careful. It maybe neck or upper back related. I am going to the chiropractor on Monday to see what he may can adjust.

Baron and I went for a 6 mile job this morning. My calves have almost returned to normal. I ALMOST over did it with them this week. We are going to swing by Bartlett Lake for a quick swim prior to leaving town.

We are headed up to Prescott this afternoon. We get to race again tomorrow! It might be a bit chilly at race time. I am looking forward to the cooler temperatures because I perform better when it is cooler ... not cold but cooler.

Until next time.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pushing out the distances

Monday's long swim set the tone for the week ... just like I had hoped. I am still stoked about that workout, but last night's was pretty darn solid too.

I mentioned that I lethargically joined the human race yesterday. The good news is that I can work from home one day per week. It used to be two, but at least it is not zero. I took advantage of being at home. I used the recliner all day. I kept my legs elevated while I worked. It must have been beneficial.

I think there was a "mid-level" breakthrough last night at swim lessons. A drill that we have neglected a bit is called "swing/switch" in my coaches' terminology. It is under switch mixed with finger-tip drag. For some reason when I do this drill the timing issues on my breathing stroke are greatly reduced. The coach estimates that when my timing is off I am missing about 30% of the power in my swim. Yeah. I have to get that fixed.

Feeling good after a successful hour in the pool I headed home to do my long run for the week (we are racing this weekend, so I had to move my long run around a bit). So I did a full 13.1 in about 1hr 48min. The pace was manageable and I even stopped twice and refilled my water bottle. I purposely held back a bit just to make sure I didn't agitate my knee that was bothering me earlier in the season. This was my second longest run of the year. I did a 16+ mile day at the PF Changs in Tempe. I was a "race bandit" I just ran along side my friend Sally as her support.

My calves were still a bit angry this morning ... but I expected that. They'll get over it. I am still waiting from them to turn from veal to mature beef.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday's are good.

Last night our spin instructor kept saying -- "Gonna do some damage control from the holiday weekend!" I was thinking "Girl, you don't even know!" In her defense, I guess most folks do let things slide for holidays. I do too. Nevertheless, Carrie and I trained like it was our job over the holiday weekend. I like it that way. It's the triathlon lifestyle. Tri it. You will likely get addicted.

So I rode a fast 30 miler yesterday morning ... beginning at OhDarkThirty. At lunch I went to the gym and blasted the legs with squats, hamstring curls and calf raises. For good measure I threw in some abdominal work. Last night, we lifted with the upper body and did the spin class. The amount of sweat generated in a spin session is often ridiculous and last night was no exception.

Enter Wednesday. Tired this morning. I had designs on doing my half marathon distance run this morning but could not shake the cob webs from my brain. It really was a lack of focus rather than just fatigue, right?

I have my 12th or 100th swim lesson tonight. I can't keep up. I am improving. It is just so slow. I'll have to come home afterwards and do the run that I intended to do this morning. Oh well, it will be a good brick workout, right?

Monday, September 5, 2011

3000 meter swim + 31 mile cycle brick

Yes! Finally. A truly great workout. Sure, there have been other good workouts but this one is top five for sure. Why?

1)   3000 meters is my farthest swim in my life. I may have been able to go another half mile.
2)   Doing 31 miles on the bike afterward - and having it feel good is a confidence builder.

All this training ... and appropriate rest is paying off. Plus, I think my weightlifting surge in the last couple of weeks is paying off.

I am hoping for a solid week of training. I am going to focus on the bike this week. I will probably ride every morning.

I am planning a long run this week too. Maybe a half-marathon distance on Wednesday. On Thursday I will probably run a zone 3 5K at race pace. Those two runs should prep me for the triathlon in Prescott on Sunday.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Missed self imposed goals - still had a good race

Alright - so I wasn't completely healthy for this race. I was still hacking up stuff late into the evening ... after the race. Not fun! It is not an excuse but rather a lesson. Listen to the body.

The run was good. I think I conserved too much. I found a dude running at a reasonable pace with some of those toe shoes. I decided to study his running mechanics for a while and forgot I was in a race. I was at mile two before I resumed running hard. Dummy! I think I ran about a 20:00 5K. The timing chip system messed up so we'll never know.

The bike was good too. I went harder there than I did on the run. The course was easy as far as terrain but there were several 90 degree turns. Getting into a good rythym was not as easy as usual. This was my first race with my aero bars and I used them quite a bit. They make a difference. My throat got really dry and sore on the bike because 48 ounces of water was apparently not enough.

Swimming last was a challenge. I learned that I definitely would rather get the swim out of the way early. I was tired enough that it affected my swim form ... what little I have anyway. I do think it was my fastest 400m swim yet but it was still slow. How do I know? I got in the pool fairly early and got passed by at least 10 dudes in the water. I did pass two guys. That is rare for me. I rested at pretty much every wall and had to adjust my goggles once because they got scraped off my face by a phantom foot from the lane beside me.

1:10:33. This was our first FULL LENGTH legit sprint triathlon. I was 29th out of 114 dudes. My percentile of finish keeps improving. In my age group I was 5th out of 21. Not bad. I wanted better. I really wanted to be down around 1:05. The reality is that I raced hard, had more left in the tank and left the race without injury or regret. I cannot complain.

We are going to Bartlett Lake tomorrow for some endurance swimming work and some biking. The olympic distance triathlon is less than a month away. I will not accept "DNF" as my time in that race. I am wearing the wetsuit to get the practice in it.

I am going to start experimenting with some different nutrition because my mileages and intensity are increasing and I need my fuel to keep up with my output.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Increased intensity this week - and one dumb move

Still hacking and sneezing a little but it is much better. I am taking a day off today so I should be ready to rock for the race in the morning.

So I purposely dialed back the distances and times this week ... and drastically increased the intensity. I lifted heavier weight (benched 225 for 8 reps yesterday :-) ) ... I ran at a much faster pace (6:30mile) ... I biked with a much higher cadence (100-110) ... and I swam more continuously than I had been previously. Guess what? I feel much more rested AND much stronger today than I have in a long while. Changing things up is necessary. I have to keep my body guessing to avoid getting into dangerous training ruts.

I am going to go out hard tomorrow on the run if I am feeling good. I want to see if I can hang with the lead pack. If I can't I will back off and just run at my pace. Historically I have been really fast on race day in regards to the 5K. I might as well go for it. I am shooting for a 18:30 - 19:00 5K. It remains to be seen what that will mean by the time I hit the pool ... but during simulations this week the intensity did not adversely affect my swim.

Here's my dumb move for this week. I am making this public in the hopes that I will avoid this faux pas in the future. I removed my tri-suit after my swim at the gym last night ... and left it in the locker room. It is nowhere to be found today. What a stupid move! I had worn it maybe 10 times total. So if you see an eBay posting for a tri suit that is NOT in the original packing that is being shipped from Phoenix ... it's mine.

We are going to Flagstaff this weekend to escape the heat. We are taking Baron the dog with us too. The heat - It really wears on you after a while. It turns out that this August was the hottest August on record for Phoenix. So all that whining I did was for a reason.

Have a safe and great Labor Day weekend!