Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fixing some things - returning to earlier experiments

I now completely understand why people get enthralled with endurance and fitness. I suppose that is a good thing to understand. I just need to temper the fascination. I am working on it.

Health-wise, I feel much better than I have since probably January. I didn't feel BAD during the other months, but I just feel stronger and more capable now than I did earlier in the year. I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out what I changed to make myself feel better. Forgive me for thinking aloud. Here are some things I changed that I would consider potential game-changers.

1) Went back to mostly meat and veggies.
2) Cut back on almonds, cashews and walnuts.
3) Cut way back on sugars.
4) Cut out the wheat completely. (I was experimenting with adding back grains.)
5) Cut out all the super vitamin intake. Actually haven't taken a vitamin since 5/3.
6) Started wearing a nose clip during my swim training.
7) Added back some fun cheats like diet soda (keeps me from eating other garbage).
8) Changed to Hammer Gel for workout/race fuel. (It has much cleaner ingredients).
9) Drinking a little more water.
10)Getting a little more rest.
11) More spin class sessions.
12) More consistent Yoga.
13) Saying bye-bye to fruit (as much as that seems odd and sucks.)

I am not sure which of these had the largest effect. I think the nose clip for swimming was a big deal for my itchy eyes and constant sinus problems. Being able to get a full breath during a race is a GREAT thing. Looking back at the MaRquee Olympic Triathlon in April - I now believe that my sinuses cost me about 8 minutes during that race. I could NOT get enough oxygen. I was on antibiotics for a month prior to and DURING that race. All I can remember from that race is not being able to breathe deeply during the bike and run.

Was I taking in TOO MANY VITAMINS? What is the right amount? Do I need them? Does anyone need them? I read so much conflicting information. I do think I tend to get deficient on certain vitamins IF I am not eating enough veggies.

Everyday I train I learn something. Yesterday I had very little "go" in spin class as far as mashing for high intensity. So I sat and endured the spin session with a high cadence. During Yoga class I found a new level with a few poses. I love progress. I think that is why I am enjoying myself so much.

I think back to February of 2011 quite a bit. I think about my mindset. I think about how determined I was to change the path I was on from a health perspective. While I have not quite achieved all those original goals - I have achieved other things that I initially did not set out to do. I think back to my first three races and I remember how much pain I had in my knees. I was determined to find a solution and get past it. I am honored to have a support system for my endeavors. I used to try and do the "fitness" thing on my own. It just won't happen without support. That said - my support system cannot MAKE me do the work.

So over the next month or so I am going to take my new / old views and try and draw a larger picture. I need to start planning what life will look like next year, five years or 50 years down the road. I think I get bogged down in the details sometimes which can make certain tasks VERY pleasing to accomplish. Lately, I have been asking "But what does that mean in the grand scheme of things?"

Until next time -

Monday, June 25, 2012

Solid weekend

Friday afternoon was interesting. I came home from work to find a mini pond in my back yard. I was tempted to grab a cane pole and see if I could fish out a trout or a scorpion. One of the sprinkler heads had popped off. Luckily, I had one more replacement head in the shed. Note to self: replace the parts I have used on the sprinkler system in the inventory.

Saturday I woke way too early. Rather than catch up on classroom work or making a bunch of noise in the house - I headed out for a bike ride.

What started as a mild ride to make some bike adjustments and get used to my new aerobars - turned into an interval workout with some good speed and intensity. My bike is all out of whack. I have not had a full tune in well over 1000 miles. Nonetheless, I repeated my LT Bike test from December 2011. I was almost 1mph faster on average and got in over 12 miles in 30 minutes. Then I headed over to climb Hummingbird. It is a short but steep climb. On the way back I ran into the Freeloaders group. I rode with them through part of my LT test course again ... wiped out ... I headed home.

We then worked around the house most of the day - getting shed of some recyclables and stacking more items into our "donate" pile. We are getting there. We want to be minimalists. We will arrive. It will just stake time.

Sunday brought hot weather, a little sunburn and high-quality training. We swam at Bartlett Lake for 1hr and 9 minutes. It amounted to 3200m. After a lunch, we headed out on the bikes at 4pm - the hottest part of the Arizona day. We bagged a little over 50 miles battling the heat and a headwind for most of the afternoon.

All systems are go. It will be nice to have a couple of Yoga sessions this week after a solid training week last week. In fact, last week was the best training I have had since before St. George. Now I just need to keep the momentum and manage the time. Quality over quantity.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Finding rest during motivation phases

The ebb and flow of life is interesting. So I am in a motivated phase right now and I am wearing myself out a bit. On one hand, I think that means I am having great QUALITY workouts. On the other hand, I fear that the QUANTITY of these workouts is wearing me down. It also seems to be messing with my system. It's hot in Phoenix, but I have been burning up lately. It's so uncomfortable. Is this male menopause?

Earlier in the journey I said that after St. George that I was going to experiment with dietary changes. I have been doing that. None of the things I have tried have wowed me. Some of them are just plain wrong for me (fruit, I am looking at you.). Some of my better performances to date have been fueled by salad, sweet potatoes and hard boiled eggs. I have also dropped most of the vitamins I was taking prior to St George to give my system a break from what felt like "overload" at times. I am going to need to land on a decision within the next month or so to have time to readjust prior to the fall racing season. I am going to implement a 1 gallon of water per day rule starting now. Dehydration is the enemy - not just for those of us that are desert dwellers.

It will be nice to just be around the house this weekend. There will be training and housework. Time to resume some project work around the house to finish up the sprucing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hitting some mileage again

Yesterday was a good day.

Two spin sessions totalling a bit over 50 miles. There were also seven miles of running. Two of the seven miles were sub seven minute / mile pace. Not too shabby of a pace following two very intense spin sessions. I am excited. This was the biggest training day I have had since May 5th. My fitness has stayed intact due to my speed work since the 140.6.

I still need to experiment with other types of food - both during training and during rest. I do not want to have the same experience I had during the marathon portion of St George.

It is hot in the desert this week. I think I will do as much training in doors as I can to avoid dehydration.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, June 18, 2012

June weddings

So my brother is now a married man. I am proud of him and his new wife. Her family members are very welcoming and down-to-earth.

We spent five days in Louisville. We walked around quite a bit. We did swim and run some too.

We took advantage of the family time. Weddings of this type do not come along too often. It was elegant but not stuffy. It made for a long day overall - but in the bites it was presented, none of it was unenjoyable. I liked that I could see Brandon and Kris' personality throughout the ceremony. I do not think much of the planning was thrust upon them. I think they planned most of it.

The other groomsmen and I took Brandon to St. Louis for a steak dinner at Carmine's and then a Cardinals baseball game. It was fun. While we were there - four of us went up in the St Louis Arch. I had not been up there since I was a little kid. It was cool, but not as awestriking as it once was. I am more impressed with the project engineering as a whole than the tourist trap it has become.

So we spent last week slowing things down a bit after a fairly heavy week of training and racing the week prior. Now it is time to glide back into the routine for a few weeks before the next adventure.

Happy wedding to Brandon and Kristin. Thanks for including us!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Payson Sprint Tri and other goodness

We headed up to Cynthia's cabin in Pine, AZ on Friday afternoon. It is about a two hour drive and the temperatures were much more livable at 5000 feet. After many laughs, a nice dinner and a few more laughs we hit the bed.

Traveling to races is something I need to get better at - in regards to preparation. Last weekend at Chino we left from Phoenix that morning so all of my essentials were met. On Saturday morning at the Payson race I did not have my protein or my coffee. I am a moron.

The swim set up is sweet in Payson. Rather than doing a serpentine of the course you share a single lane with one other swimmer. I started earlier than most and that was good. I swam pretty relaxed. I did not kill it because I knew the bike and run were hilly. The guy I shared a lane with hit me in the head (unintentionally) on three different passes. I was a bit faster than him because I passed him twice in our 500 meter swim. 10:25 - my fastest 500 by 20 seconds and I did not go 100%. After a decent transition it was time for the bike.

The game changes at 5000 feet of altitude nowadays. The redline is not as far down the tachometer. I was gassed from the beginning of the bike. I was gassed on the first 7 miles of the bike. There is about 1000 feet of climbing in the 14 miles on this bike course. I felt decent from mile 8 until mile 13. Right before the finish, I gassed again. Something was missing. I could not get the oxygen going. I did eat two gels on the bike and drank plenty of water. Not feeling much leg punishment I decided I would make up for it on the run. 44:34 total bike time.

This run was hilly. Not over-the-top hilly, but likely the hilliest 5K I have done. I ran 7:20 on the first mile and it was mostly up hill. That was good. I ran 7:30 on mile 2 and it had some flat but also had the biggest up on the course. I then ran a 7:28 to finish the course and it was hilly except for the very end. 22:18 for the run.

Total time: 1:17:16.

I was 11th overall and 4th in the 30-39 age group. The three dudes in front of me were 31, 31, and 32. I am not whining about it. On a different day on the bike I probably could have gotten one or two of them.

I looked back over my personal stats. This 5K was my 4th fastest ever and it was by far the hilliest course. I had an unmatched 20:39 5K at Solana Beach Sprint Triathlon last year. I think that run course was 100% flat - the bike was only 9 miles long - and I was adrenalized by the number of people in that race. I was also stoked that I survived the ocean swim. The two other faster times were stand-alone 5Ks of 21:36 and 21:45. I will break 20 for a 3.1 miler very soon and that will be a sweet day for me.

After the race Carrie and I grabbed lunch in Payson and headed back out to Pine. We wanted to hike down to Fossil Creek. It was hot! The rangers at the trailhead were turning people away that were under-prepared for the hike. Being the veteran hikers we are, we were more than prepared. We assured them that we would likely be helping the less prepared hikers get out of the canyon. Fossil Creek is a 4 mile one-way trail. It drops nearly 2000 feet in those 4 miles. I suspect it catches people off guard on the hike back out. Parts of the trail are a little rugged, but nothing like some of the stuff we have hiked over the years.

This is a great hike and a nice trail. It is like an oasis in the desert. It feels more like a tropical island. On the way out we saw some rangers double checking some fires that people did not properly put out. We ran into three people and two dogs about mid way up. The dogs feet were all cut up and they had them bandaged with what looked like their socks and some duct tape. They were low on water - so we gave them about 24 ounces. We asked if they needed help. They said they would be fine. Their friends had ditched them when the dogs started walking too slow. Not cool! They asked us where we were from - we told them Phoenix. Carrie says "He had a triathlon this morning - so this is the part that I can participate in." The dude in the group responded with "Yeah, because this hike is EXACTLY what you do after racing a triathlon." I smiled and nodded. Ego booster!

A little further up the trail we ran into a lady that had a "purse cooler" or whatever you call those things. It was made for a beach trip rather than the hike. Her party had stuck her with carrying all their extra weight ... and then left her behind on the way out of the canyon. She was dragging this purse thing behind her. The man she was with was either injured or disabled because he had a massive limp and a cane. I politely asked her to allow me to carry her bag the rest of the way out. She took a water bottle from the cooler and we told her we would leave it at the top near the parking lot.

We made good on our words to the rangers. We helped people get out of the canyon. They weren't there when we got back to the top. The temps had cooled off a bit and the number of people had dwindled a bit. All things told, it was 8 miles with 2100 feet of climbing. Not the hardest hike we've been on, but not an easy one either. Great scenery.

Yesterday we started painting the cabinets in the office. We also went shopping. Then we went to the gym and lifted weights and swam 1200 yds or so. I was tired. Carrie out swam me by quite a bit. Last week was the biggest training week I have had since Ironman and I could tell.

It is 63 days until the Mountain Man 70.3 in Flagstaff. I am going to try a few different things in my training and diet and see what happens. Change is good.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gifts of all kinds

The concept of a gift makes me smile.

We exchange gifts on special occasions. Sadly, we stress out over getting someone the correct item. The "gifting" industry is a multi-billion dollar one for sure. Entire companies exist due to the concept of gifting (Hallmark, I am looking at you.) These are not the gifts I have been thinking about today.

Every person has multiple gifts in their life. We see the expression of gifts because the person holding them allows them to be on display. I was pondering my swim. I was feeling inferior to the faster swimmers. I analyzed the situation and here it is - as it relates to me.

Am I a gifted swimmer? Sure - if I look at it in the correct view. I literally could not swim 100 meters in May of 2011. Today I swam 1600 meters continuously today just during my lunch break. I am certainly not as fast as most people in the water - but in fairness I have learned a life skill that far exceeds racing in triathlons. This new life skill MAY have kept me afloat during the Ironman wind storm.

Am I a gifted cyclist? Sure - I am not the fastest guy around - but I hold my own. I have always loved the bike and I am not afraid to see where the next level begins.

Am I a gifted runner? Why not? I have endurance. I am SLOW in a sprint - but I can go at a decent clip for a good long while nowadays. I suppose I have always enjoyed running. I have only recently began to really enjoy it.

The external gifts of which I am most proud are my wife, my family, my real friends and my dog. These gifts make the whole thing possible.

The internal gift of which I am most proud is my work ethic. Without my work ethic none of this exercise stuff would be possible. A strong work ethic is a gift and it can be shared with those around you. When everyone else is tired I sometimes manage to keep going. When others will give up completely, I stick it out and see it through to completion. It may not always be a beautiful oil-based work of art ready for a museum but the task gets done and there are benefits from that effort.

So as I roll into the final race weekend for about 8 weeks I have yet another perspective on life. Use the gifts as they are presented. Do not neglect them. Do not take them for granted.

This Payson, AZ sprint triathlon will be special. It is a small and generally low-key race that I have not yet done. I've been to Payson only a few times. It is a nice town.

500 meter swim
15 mile bike (hills)
3.1 mile run (hills)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Amped and Ramped

This is Wednesday, right?

Yes. It is. I just checked my phone. Where does the time go?

So I resumed two-a-day workouts this week and fitness-wise I can tell a big difference. Fatigue? Yeah, that is there too. On Monday I swam and ran at lunch. After work we did spin class and yoga. Yesterday I swam at lunch and after work we lifted weights, did spin class and yoga. Today I ran and swam at lunch. We are doing spin class and swimming after work.

I experimented with a pre-race workout arrangement last week. The race was on Sunday - so I took a day off on Friday and then trained on Saturday. I believe it led to a bit of fatigue for me at the race. This week I will be racing on Saturday so I will take an off day on Friday.

I have many friends racing on the 8th and 9th - so here is to everyone going out, having fun, racing hard and being healthy.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Chino Valley Sprint Tri

It was fun to be RACING again. My last "race" was adjusted a bit and turned into a training day.

300m swim - 6:17
22 mile bike - (includes both T1 and T2) - 1:05:15
3.1 mile run - 22:55 (it was posted as a 2 mile run on the web site and registration - but that was not the case)

Total - 1:34:26

6th Overall and 1st in 35-39

Chino Valley is 10 miles north of Prescott, AZ. It is a nice small town with great scenery and a good pool facility to house this event. The altitude is 5100 feet. We live at 1,300 feet in Phoenix. I usually do not feel the altitude until I get to 10,000 feet but yesterday was different. I felt it early and often during the race. Working to pace my breathing was another thing to add to the list of things to "mentally manage".

The swim: 10 months ago I did this swim in 7:15. It was - at that point - one of my better swims. Yesterday I swam "okay" and still managed to improve almost a minute in 300m over a 10 month span. Improvement is fun. There is still work to do. I'll figure it out. Sans triathlon competition, I can work on the swim for a long time yet. I do enjoy it.

The bike: I wish my Garmin hadn't fried last week so that I could post the elevation chart for this bike. It's fairly hilly and the roads are less than smooth. It's not St George hilly, but it is higher altitude. I crashed on the course last year. It was a minor crash, but my bike was disabled so I could not finish. This year a friend, fellow St George participant and fast dude Adam Folts crashed near the exact spot I did - causing him some massive road rash. His left side (especially his lat) did not have much skin left as he went to accept his second place OVERALL plaque. Yes, he had the fastest run split of the day AFTER the bike crash.

The run: I have been working on speed since the Ironman. I need to work more. Altitude or not, there were holes in my approach. I had to goad myself during the run to keep a hard pace. I usually don't have to have that mental discussion.

Overall - I am pleased. 6th out of 45 dudes that started this race. 1st in my age group by quite a time gap. I conquered the only true DNF of my short triathlon career and won a Fuel Belt running belt as a door prize.

This week: Work, house work, walk, yoga, lift weights, swim, bike, run, eat, sleep - repeat.