Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Penultimate Week of the Year

Last weeks triathlon practice ended up being 14 hours with 13500 yards of swimming, 15 miles of running, and 125 miles of bike. When you look at the totals, it doesn’t seem to be much. But, I’m really feeling it. I’m not sure if it’s the combination or the mix of activities, but I’m having a hard time recovering. I sleep more. I eat more. But, I just feel beat up. On Christmas day, I had to do a 2 hour ride with 12 X 1:30 min climbing intervals. Once the all the presents were open and the kids were lost in Christmas La-La land, I bundled up and went outside with my training buddy, Silvio, and finished my prescribed workout. We went to La Luz road, which is a 3-mile climb that averages 8%. The first 4-5 intervals were hard but didn’t seem to affect me. After the 8th, I was feeling it. By the time I hit 12….I was done. It was a hard workout.

Christmas was good. The kids got some good presents. I picked out an Adidas jacket and pants for Elise and had a friend embroider her swim team logo, Duke City, on the front and her last name on the back. I also got her a bag with the same embroidery. She really liked. It’s funny when she wears the jacket and pants; she looks like a little jock-ette. I picked out an historical NFL book for Ethan. He seemed to be excited about that. Tanya took care of the Grace and Mia’s gifts. Mia’s big present was a Easy Bake Oven. We spent the morning making cakes and cookies. She was really excited about that.

This week seems to be just as hard, if not harder, than last week in terms of training schedule. I am planning on doing the Resolution Ride on Friday, which is a 100 mile ride. This is not part of my training schedule. I’ve done this ride for the past 7 years. It’s done regardless of weather conditions. I can remember the second year I did the ride, the wind was so fierce, we would travel 8 MPH into the headwind and not hear anything but the wind howling and travel 35MPH with the tail wind and hardly any effort. It was an epic day! With the ride down and back to where the Resolution Ride starts, it turns out to be a 120 mile day. It’s a fun way to ring in the New Year. I was a bit disappointed though because Masters was cancelled Friday morning. I wanted to do the double—swim/Resolution Ride.

With the New Year, comes New Year’s Resolutions. I haven’t really spent much time thinking about my resolutions. I guess more of the same…train better, eat better, show up ready for my events. It seems all of my time is already spent working towards a goal. I can hardly imagine doing more or adding a new goal. I just want 2010 to be like 2009. It was an alright year. Looking through my training logs, I put in roughly 730 hours of triathlon practice. I would consider myself blessed if I can manage that training load and keep up with all my other obligations. That’s enough for me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Message

As I read through the news and reflect on the last couple of years of my life, certain thoughts come to my mind...thoughts of experiences, both good and bad. I know there are people hurting right now...hurting because they've lost their jobs and can't provide for their loved ones. There are people hurting because they don't know where there next dollar or meal is going to come from. They've been pushed into a corner...they've been dogged by humiliation. It seems this is every day's news story. It's the same story big town or small. I can't help but wince at the news because I was there just a couple years ago. We were on the brink of financial ruin with no where to turn. It was the hardest time in my life. The anguish of not being able to provide for my family was overwhelming.

Fast forward a few years, and, by all appearances, we survived...we turned the corner. But, the rawness of the experience is still tangible. I reflect on the past and can finally discern what was gained and lost by the experience. I learned that I love my family...my wife and my children. As a father and a husband, my greatest pride is being able to provide for them. I want to do everything to help my wife and children reach their fullest potential and live a full life. That is what's most important to me.

While growing up...I was taught many things both in word and deed. Up until this experience, those things seemed to be important. But, during those tough financial years, it all seemed to melt away. Not knowing if you'd be able to make the mortgage or bring home groceries was the priority. Nothing seemed to alleviate the stress and anxiety. Ultimately, all that was left was my desire to adequately provide for my family. What kind of man would I be if I could not do that?

What does this have to do with Christmas? Well, if you see someone or know of someone down on their luck, offer a prayer for them. If you can spare something for them, do so. The reality is everyone is just a razor's edge from being forced to live such a reality...especially in these challenging times. No one's immune. No one's invulnerable. Luck changes. You never know...you just might be the one asking for help some day. Don't look at the person in need as someone being cursed for a bad deed, but, rather, imagine yourself in his or her shoes. Offer a prayer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Training Blah Blah Blah!

The first week of my second training block is done and I was able to put in 18.5 hours in the triathlon office. I swam 13,000 yards, rode 150 miles, ran 19 miles and did an hour of core/strength training.

My workout volume, though not as high at last year, seems to be a real challenge because the workouts are very focused and effective. The computrainer really makes my bike workouts much more meaningful than “just riding”. Saturday I had a 4 hour ride scheduled, so I joined a group ride. It was amazing how well I rode. Part of the ride was an extended gradual climb up to the Jemez Dam…I was the first one to the top. Me and a friend left the group and did our own extended ride. At the end of the day, we had 5 hours, and my legs were really strong. Part of the focus emphasized with the Computrainer is cadence work. When I ride, I try to keep my cadence/RPMs at 90 or above at all times. This is done by managing my gears. The focus has really shown a marked efficiency, which translates into a great average speed. One thing bad about the Computrainer was I felt a bit rusty in the peloton, which took a good hour or so to get used to. It’s not too much of a concern though because all my races are non-draft legal. One more point with the Computrainer is that you always have to work…there’s no hiding in a draft as in a group ride. I was very much surprised how little effort is necessary to draft at the back of a big group ride…it’s hardly a productive ride.

In other news, I got my Christmas shopping done. I had some ideas of some gifts not necessarily requested, but things that would be nice. If they don’t work out…there’s always Tanya gifts that followed Santa requests. The downside to balancing the check book in the family is you end up knowing what you’re getting for Christmas…no surprises. I guess the surprises should be for the kids anyways. I’m getting a Garmin Edge 500 GPS for the bike…I’m excited.

Saturday was a pretty eventful day with the kids. I took them grocery shopping with me at Whole Foods. My youngest, Mia, was chasing my son around the store and knocked down a display box of champagne sending eight bottles crashing to the ground. It was very loud and about eleven workers came running straight away to see what happened. Mia was terrified and instantly started crying. I put her in the cart and she didn’t seem to mind. Afterwards, Ethan requested we have crab for dinner…none of the kids have ever had crab. So I bought some pre-cooked Alaskan king crab legs. We came home and had clam chowder with crab legs…the kids tore through the crab in minutes. They had some much fun cracking open the crab and eating it. It was fun and definitely worth doing again soon.

This week is Christmas week and my training plan doesn’t take into account the holidays. I’m going to push through and try and be 100%, but that includes a 2.5 hour ride on Christmas. The weather forecasts call for a high possibility of snow—white Christmas’s are a bugger when you’re trying to train. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Thought This Was A Recovery Week!

This Computrainer is kicking my ass!

We initially bought it for convenience. I could be at home and be able to train while being there for the kids, which would afford my wife the freedom to do school work or attend classes. That the Computrainer was supposed to make you faster wasn't really a factor...everything makes that promise.

Well, Computrainer does make you faster. It's not by magic or some special pill. In my experience, there are no easy improvements, no get-rich-quick realities, no something for nothing. In fact, my personal axiom has always been "If it aint hard, it aint worth having." We'll Computrainer makes you faster the old fasion way: hard, hard work! I can't ride the damn thing without killing myself. If it isn't the pacer, it's the terrrain. If it aint the terrain, it's something else. No matter how I dice it, I've finished each work out and just crawled to bed falling asleep well before my head hits my pillow.

Last night my intent was to ride "easy" and maintain a consistent >90RPM cadence. It was an 1:15 ride. The first 15 minutes were easy. Then the horses inside me wanted to get loose...and by golly, they did! When the 1:15 was over, I met my >90 RPM cadence goal, but "easy" went out the window. My average HR and watts was in zone 3, I beat my pacer, and, once again, I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. When 4:50 AM rolled around, it was all I could do to wake up, and I was dragging the whole workout. I'm still feeling it...and I've already finished my first RedBull...maybe I need another. Gosh, this better translate into really fast bike splits!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Week 3



The picture above is from my Saturday morning ride. The weather has been extremely cold here, and rather than fight the elements to get in a marginal workout, I rode my Computrainer and previewed the first 60 miles of the St. George IronMan course. It’s a doozey! There’s one point when I was climbing at an 11% grade for more than a mile. The course appears to be covered with lots of chip seal, and I counted at least four cattle guards up to the top of the climb. I ran out of time before I finished the descent, so I don’t know if there are cattle guards on the way down—very dangerous. One year during the Tour of Gila bike race, someone’s front wheel got caught in the opening between cattle guards and sheered off his front fork while traveling at 30+MPH. He took the total fall on his face and had to be air-lifted by helicopter to the hospital.

For the week, I had 17.5 hours of triathlon practice. I swam 13,600 yards, rode my bike 136 miles—all indoor on the computrainer, ran 24 miles, and spent an hour strength training. I’m enjoying my recovery week now. The big weeks haven’t even come close to starting but my training program seems to be working me over pretty good.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My 2009 BAMF Recommendation

As it approaches the end of the year, I’ve decided to offer my suggestion for the 2009 BAMF award. The BAMF acronym is Bad Ass Mother F#@$&* and denotes someone who’s very tough and accomplishes something significant in the face of great obstacles.

My recommendation goes for Maria Ladd, a local triathlete I’ve met through my Masters swim team. Maria is a high school English teacher. By all appearances she’s your standard high school teacher. She’s quiet and somewhat soft spoken. But, her personal fortitude seems to speak for itself.

Maria just recently completed Ironman Arizona and in so doing, improved her personal best time by 50 minutes. She raced a full schedule this season that included Boulder 5430 long-course—she ran 5 minutes faster than me--and the Elephant Man triathlon and others races I’m not aware of. Her big goal was to qualify for Kona at IronMan Arizona, which is really challenging because the race occurs the third week of November. Having a full-year of racing that ends toward the end of November is really hard because of mental and physical fatigue and inclement weather. Winter struck hard a month before the race, yet she soldiered through and kept her training program. Two weeks before IronMan Arizona, she was running on a public trail with a group and was attacked by an unharnessed dog. The dog left its mark in the middle of her thigh. For many this may have been the nail in the coffin for the season…not for her. She seemed unphased and trained through. On race day, Maria let her legs do the talking and shaved significant time off her prior personal best time. By last year’s IronMan standards, she would have won her age category and got the golden ticket to Kona. Last year she finished in third place and there are only two Kona slots allocated to her age category. This year, with a dramatically faster time, she ended up seventh. The top three positions were completed in times akin to the 35-39 Male age group category.

Not one to wallow in self-pity, Maria was back swimming at Masters three days after Ironman Arizona. The following weekend, she ran the local Thanksgiving 5k Turkey Trot and was the 2nd place overall female finisher. Now that’s BAMF!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Week 2's Results

I finished the week with 16.5 hours of triathlon practice...I was scheduled for 11.5 hours. The days off for Thanksgiving holiday and the constant urging of my road racing buddies made me break my schedule and do an extended ride Thursday morning. In total I swam four times for 13,200 yards, I rode four times for 126 miles, and I ran 4 times for 24 miles. The high-light of my training was Sunday morning when my daughter joined me for my swim...we did a 300 warm up, 18x100 leaving on the 1:50, and warmed down with another 300. It was cool swimming with her and seeing how much she's improved this year. She kept up for the most part, then blew me away with a 300 breast-stroke warm down...I'm all about freestyle.

I pre-rode the first 26 miles of the IronMan St. George course on the computrainer...wow! Talk about rolling terrain. I counted two specific climbs with 6 percent grades. This course is going to be all about managing the gears, watts, cadence, and bike positioning. It's going to be a challenge!

Friday, November 27, 2009

We Have The Technology...We Can Rebuild Him...

This is my training lab


On the computer screen is my computer interfaced training program (Computrainer). I was really excited to get this to help improve my cycling. After a few tests the stark reality set in...I have a long way to go. This program is totally humbling. Ignorance was bliss...I thought I was good...I'm not. I have a long way to go. I plan to spend nights after work and cold winter weekends trying to make my cycling more efficient...and a little stronger. This program tells me which leg is working better (my right...damn skateboarding!), my pedaling efficiency (100 being perfect and 0 being dead, I scored an 80% on the standard road bike, and just under 70% on my tri bike), and my power output over a given distance/time frame (the verdict is still out on these results).

At any rate, I'm up to the challenge, and hopefully the real-time data will help me get faster.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

IronMan Arizona 2009

I went to IronMan Arizona this weekend to both volunteer and register for next year's event. I got to watch the swim start. Check out the photos:

Age Groupers lining up for the start moments before the gun goes off.


During the National Anthem


And they're off!


This person's alarm must not have went off because they started well after the rest of the other 2500 participants...Ooops!


And on another note, this came in the mail for me when I came back. Guess I have to get serious about training this time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Big Man -- Shane



This is Shane, our 220 pound English Mastiff. He's 11 years old and the sweetest man you'll ever meet. He may drool a lot or be gassy, but he's truly a gentle giant. A few years ago, my daughter Grace got a black and white bunny for a pet. When we moved into our current house, we let the bunny roam free with Shane. We were a bit nervous that Shane might consume her in one bite. He didn't and was indifferent to her. Over a few months, the bunny grew comfortable with shane. When the cool of winter hit, we'd wake up to find the bunny nestled in between Shane's legs. They kindled a little relationship together. Here's a couple of pictures of the two last spring:




Things stayed the same for the rest of the winter and all spring. We'd wake up every morning and see the two snuggling together. Then in the summer, someone gave us another bunny. The two bunnies hit it off together and ignored Shane altogether. Shane didn't seem to mind...all he really ever does is sleep anyway. Lazy dog!

Now that it's winter time and the cold has been really affecting Shane's hip joints, I've been having Shane sleep inside. And, every night as I turn the lights off, there's the bunny waiting by the door for Shane to snuggle...poor little lonesome bunny. I think she really takes it personal because she hardly spends any time with Shane anymore. Here's picture of the two:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Self Humiliation Via Yoga.

One of the quickest ways to humiliate myself is to go to a yoga class. I hate yoga! But, it’s one of those necessary evils because it helps me stretch…it’s a preventative maintenance thing. If I let myself to go too long without doing it, I generally pull something. So, I force myself to go once a week. It’s hard, uncomfortable, and humiliating…especially when the class does balance poses. My balance has gone out the window over these last years. I’m the idiot dancing around in the back trying to stand on one leg as everyone seems to be comfortably perched in eagle pose. That’s OK…it’s a small price to pay to keep myself out of the hurt locker.

This morning kicked off the beginning of my 24-week training phase for IronMan St. George. My coach has given me all my workouts until May 1; now it’s up to me to deliver. This morning I swam 3,550 yards at Masters. That was my first workout.

I’m off to Arizona this weekend to volunteer for IronMan Arizona and guarantee myself registration for next year. The event usually sells out before it even goes online, so got to physically be in line to registration. And, preference is given to the event volunteers. Once that is in place, my diabolical 3 full Ironman year will be queued up and ready to usher in my 40th birthday.

This weekend I took the kids to the BYU/UNM game. BYU won. It was a very unexciting game other than the UNM kicker missed three kicks in a row hitting the up-right each time. That’s got to be a record of some kind. Ethan enjoyed the game. Elise and Grace were cold and couldn’t get enough hot cocoa.


I spent the rest of the weekend getting things done for winter, so I can focus on my training. We raked up fifteen 50 gallon bags of leaves, and we’re still not half-way done. There are still a lot of leaves left to fall. For living in the desert our house seems to be rather deciduous. It snowed again Saturday night. I’m thinking this time, it’ll stay cold and the last intervals of warm weather are finally gone. Oh well, that’s winter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just Before...

This weekend I spent a bunch of time getting the house ready for winter. We have some mature mulberry trees the shed lots and lots of leaves, so I had to clean the rain gutters and bag raked leaves. I thought I was really clever by raking the leaves on to the lawn and using the mower to compact and bag the leaves. But, turns out using the lawn mower kicked up just enough dust to give me touch of allergies. Needless to say, I’ve been wiped out these last couple of days with typical allergy issues.

On a brighter note, my work on my running form has really helped a lot so far. I’ve ran three consecutive days at about 45 minutes each time and I’m not really sore. That would not have been possible had I still been using the heel strike running stride I had been using previously. I’d always scratch my head in awe when I’d read about people running consecutively for 100 days; that was never possible for me because I’d get too sore after consecutive runs and sooner or later develop some injury. Now, I think that’s a real possibility for me….knock on wood.

Starting next week, I’m 6 months or 24 weeks out from IronMan St. George. I start my training in earnest starting Monday. I’ll spend the next 12 weeks building my base then the following 12 weeks training specificity. So, soon I’ll take that plunge again into a world of fatigue and exhaustion that I’ve grown so accustomed to over the last years of my life. But, I do love it though.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just A Little Gift!

Incompatibility

After a few weeks of lifting weights and trying to rebuild my running stride, I'm firmly convinced the two activities are incompatible. My whole body is so sore right now. Lunges just kill me. I ran last night for an hour and the soreness really messed with my mind. As I ran, I'm constantly assessing if something hurts or is uncomfortable...last night everything hurt and was uncomfortable so I kept worrying that I was doing something wrong.

This morning I swam and was so slow because I was sore. Weights aren't conducive to maintaining one's self-esteem.

So, here's a photo of my office...notice anything funny?



REDBULL! That's how I drag my butt to work after the early morning swims. My admin has tried to get me to get rid of the cans because they're "unprofessional". We'll I don't care! It smacks of a college fraternity's decorative touch...and that's what I like.

Here's another photo from my run in the hills the other day.



This is probably at 6500 feet above sea level.

Finally, here's Mia (the youngest) waking up in our bed. It drives me nuts because she doesn't make sleeping comfortable. If I didn't love her so, I'd throw her outside with Shane and his bunnies!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Off Season

Every year for the past 10 years, it's been "off season" and I try to regroup and figure out what I'm going to work on for the next racing season. It always boils down to 1) improve my diet, 2) train harder, and 3) train smarter. Well this year, I'm not going to kid myself anymore...I like to eat, I eat fairly well, I train hard...training smarter seems to be a case of trial and error. So, this year I'm going to do more of the same. I'm adding a few more tools (i.e. computrainer and a power meter), but I think I'll just continue training as I've done this last year...maybe with few less injuries though.

On another note, I've been having fun with my swimsuits during swim team. These are the swim suits I rotate through during the week.








My Personal Favorite.

It brings a bit of comedy at 5AM.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Winter

It has snowed the last two days here in Albuquerque—the first snow of the year. It’s early this year. It’s also the last working day before Halloween and I dressed up like a nun. Sadly, it appears I’m the only one that dressed up. I guess I should have expected that being an accounting/finance professional.

I’m bidding my time right now in terms of training just keeping it an easy 10-12 hours a week. I don’t want to get out of the gates to hard and early for next year because next year will be such a long year; timing is everything. I’ve been limiting my training to weights with a focus on balance and core strength. I’ve been swimming 3 times a week, running about 4 times and riding once. This scaled back training schedule is hard because I don’t feel like I’m progressing because I’m not pouring it on and hammering myself.

Monday, October 26, 2009

2009 Is Over

It’s official, the 2009 season is over. I’d hoped to end the season with Ironman Austin 70.3 this last weekend but ran out of steam and injured my calf during a half-marathon “training” race. It’s just as well though because I have a really aggressive 2010 planned and need to get myself ready for the future workload and demands. I’ve signed up for IronMan Ut (St. George) in May, IronMan Canada (Penticton, BC) in August. I’m also going to sign up for IMArizon in November. That’s a brutal schedule and I wouldn’t normally attempt something so crazy, but it’s my 40th birthday year…so why not. I’m also secretly training for PF Chang’s Rock N’ Roll marathon this January…I hope my coach is cool with it. It would be really awesome to break the 3:00 marathon…or at least qualify for Boston.

Life is so complicated at our household. Tanya’s school is much more demanding now that she’s into her higher-level science classes. The kids have their respective activities in addition to school, which keeps up hopping. We decided to invest in a Compu-trainer for me so I can be at home in the evenings and still be able to train on my bike. Elise is still busy with school, swimming, and piano. Ethan is also swimming and doing piano. Grace is swimming, playing tennis, and also in piano. Mia’s holding out for dance, but it doesn’t really fit our family’s schedule…and I’m not sure we can afford another event. Hopefully she’ll come around and swim with her siblings.

Elise is swimming for an exclusive year-round swim team. She swims 3-4 times a week for an hour-and-a-half. She averages about 3500 yards per practice. She’s really starting to get fast. We’re thinking she’s found her niche. She’s a natural.

These next few weeks will be a gradual easing back into the training routine. Currently I’m trying to maintain a 10—12 hour training load until mid-November. Mid-November is when I have 24 weeks until my first event. During this time frame, I’ll lay down my base training and build. My goal is to spend less time in the freezing cold (which tend to be junk training miles) and more time putting in quality efforts. The truth is, I have to train smarter, or I won’t finish three full IronMans. Hopefully I’ll be a bit more diligent in the documentation of this next year’s activities.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rest Week

Last week, the last of my 3-week training block, was tough. Late work putting together financial analysis for our board meeting, meant coming home each night after 8:00 PM and using the training and treadmill for punctuated workouts. By Saturday, I was wasted. I got up early and 30 minutes into the swim workout, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I came home slept until 11:00 am then spent another 5 hours in bed watching the Sopranos and indulging in popsicles. It was a classic case of the spirit being willing but the body wasn’t. Something inside of me anguished to finish my scheduled workouts, and something else knew I needed to rest really badly. Fortunately, it was a three-day weekend (Labor Day Weekend), so I decided to take a mulligan on Saturday and use Sunday and Monday as my weekend. That worked out OK. I ran 15 miles Sunday AM and rode 85 miles to Madrid and back on Monday. That helped me finish the week with 17 hours. I’ll take it.

I’m now indulging in my recovery week, which should amount to no more than 10 hours of training. My workout volume has been short, but I’ve increased the intensity a bit. Sunday, I’m doing the Chips N’ Salsa half marathon. My intention is to run it really easy: 8:300 min/mile pace so I don’t blow myself up for the rest of the week. Last time I ran a 10K all out, it took me nearly 4 days to fully recover. I don’t want to be in that state just before the beginning of my next (and last of 2009) 3 week training block.

Last night I did a really fun track workout. I did 6X1 kilometer intervals running at a <6 min/mile pace with a 4 minute rest between sets. I wasn’t painful like other track workouts I’ve done in the past that are all out. I can’t wait to do this one again.

This is the first week my 11-year-old daughter has been doing year-round swimming. I picked her up from practice and saw that they swam 3400 yards, which included a 800 IM. Holy Cow! That’s a harder workout than I swim at Masters. I couldn’t swim a 200 yard butterfly. All I have to say is she’s going to be a torpedo after a few years of swimming, and I won’t be able to keep up with her. I’m so excited for her! The deal was…if she swims year-round, she gets a mobile phone. She started swimming year-round this week, so her mom and her picked up her phone last night. That phone better be worth it, because swimming 15000+ yards in a given week is crazy for an 11-year old.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh Canada

Registration Confirmation for:

2010 Subaru Ironman Canada

Dear Justin,

Congratulations! You are now registered for 2010 Subaru Ironman Canada. Please check the event's official website for updates: http://www.ironman.ca

View your complete registration details »
PLEASE NOTE: ENTRIES WILL NOT BE DOWNLOADED UNTIL AFTER THE CLOSE OF REGISTRATION.

IMPORTANT! Make sure you keep your email address up to date with us. Almost all notifications / information are via email. If you change email addresses, make sure you notify IMNA athlete services at admin@ironmanusa.com so you don't miss any important information throughout the year.

THANK YOU.
IRONMAN CANADA STAFF

Perfect Training Week!

I don’t know if my body is finally adapting to the workload or I’ve got a big exhaustion hiccup waiting to wallop me around the next corner. But this last week was the perfect training week (knock on wood)! Last week I managed 21 hours of real honest training (i.e. no yoga or strength training). Some of my goals have been more time/miles on the bike, and doing one 13 mile run (along with 3 other runs) each week. I was able to do that. This week I managed 24 hours of triathlon practice, which included 15,000 meters of swimming, 240 miles on the bike and 30 miles of running. It seemed this week was one continuous task after another. I also had a non-training productive week too: I mowed the front and back lawns, did other yard work, cleaned the inside of my car, did the laundry, went grocery shopping, and cooked 4 of the dinners last week. Historically, my third week of a 4-week training block is when I start to shut down. I don’t feel too bad yet (knock on wood) though. What is really helping me is I have a finite number of training weeks until my 2009 season is over—8, including this week. Included in those 8 weeks are 2 rest weeks and one taper week. Knowing I have to hold it together for a few more weeks is encouraging as opposed to having an indefinitely long string of hard workout weeks.

Another thing I’m doing differently is really focusing on recovery. Every night I’m icing my legs and wearing compression socks. I’m trying to sleep better too. Sure, my body’s tired, but at least I have the energy to start the workout (which I generally finish) rather than lounging on the couch totally exhausted.

I’ve read that endurance athletes walk a razor’s edge in training volume in that they’ll push the body as far is it possibly can go before it breaks down or gets injured. Sometimes you slip off the razor—it’s a trial and error thing. But, once you’ve walked that razor’s edge, got off and recovered, you’re capable of things, for a brief period of time, you’ve previously considered impossible. I can attest to that reality. It’s amazing.

In other news, my oldest daughter is trying out for one of the city’s year-round swim programs. I’m really pumped for her. It’ll be challenge for her mother and I to meet the rigorous swim practice regiment and meet the financial requirements, but I think she really has some potential. Unfortunately, I’ll have to back off and let her find that potential herself. I’m too much; I know it. My intensity is just too much when it comes to certain things.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'll Be 40--So What The Hell!

Next year I'll be forty. Forty tends to be the hump of someone's life expectancy--generally speaking. So, on my hump year, I'm going to do something crazy and say "what the hell"! Does Risky Business come to mind?

So this is it...the year that I turn 40, I plan on doing 3 full distance IronMans.
I'm targeting the following three: IM Utah (already registered), IM Canada (registration is going to be a challenge), and IM Arizona(I'm going to drive out to AZ to register in person).

This next adventure may just kill me but, again, what the hell! I'll keep you posted.

Boulder 5430 Long Course Video



My Brother put this video together...no comment about the music.

Top 10 - June 27th -August 26th

Top Ten Highlights During my 2 Month Hiatus:

10) Choking on a boneless buffalo wing and having the doctor remove it after trying to puke it out all night.

9) Taking the kids school shopping

8) Wife finishing another semester and getting one semester closer to being a pharmacist

7) Swimming across Lake Cochiti (3 mile round trip) twice this summer without wetsuit with Masters swim team.

6) Celebrated 16th wedding anniversary with a road trip to Boulder, Colorado and no kids

5) Spending lots of time by the pool and with the kids during the summer!

4) Purchased a new “super” bike (yet to be assembled), which may be revealed in Austin

3) Body is adapting to long runs (knock on wood). This was one of my goals this year—learn how to run long. I’ve done at least one 13 mile run during each of the last 5 weeks injury free (knock on wood) including last night.

2) Oldest daughter, Elise, qualifies for and competes in Sundance (state swimming championships) in the 100 IM.

1) Finishing Bolder 5430 Long Course (half-iron distance) with a new personal best: 4:52!

Apology

Many people have asked why they haven’t been granted access to my blog; I wasn’t trying to block specific individuals. I just wanted to shut it down for awhile without deleting it all together. I couldn’t bare to just leave it as is; an un-updated blog begs to be updated…kinda like an unmowed lawn or all the other tasks sitting around the house waiting for your time. So, I just “put it out of sight” so I wasn’t reminded that I needed to update it.

Honestly, I needed a break for awhile. I was going through some “stuff” and didn’t want to bare my soul, which inevitably I would have done. Nothing too crazy; and probably much of it was exercise induced. I apologize if anyone felt I targeted them specifically…that wasn’t the case.

A lot has happened in the interim….

Monday, June 29, 2009

Buffalo Springs

It's the day after Buffalo Springs IronMan 70.3, and I'm back at work. I'm not nearly as sore as previous events, in fact I'm walking around fine...just a bit sore. My time was 14 minutes slower than previous personal best times. My swim improved, which was huge considering how choppy the water was. The weather was rainy and windy. My T1 time went from 5:30 to 1:45. My bike was 3:40, 5 minutes slower than my best, which is also awesome considering how windy and rainy the conditions were. The last 20 miles I was rained on and was drenched. My T2 was 1 minute slower than the past because I took a brief potty break. My run was slow. I'm not disappointed though with the results...if you would have asked me 2 months ago, I didn't even think I would be able to do this race due to injuries. So, results wise, it was respectable. Mentally this was a really tough race. Perhaps I'm just tired from all of my training this year or something, but this race was more difficult than my full distance IranMan. It was such a mental struggle the whole time. I fought the urge to let up all the way until the last mile of the run, then I couldn't anymore. I walk most of the last mile. My legs were tired, my feet hurt from the pounding in wet shoes. The only thing that got me running again was hearing the announcer and crowd up the road...I didn't want to finish softly by walking, so I jogged in the last half-mile.

To be honest, I don't think I'll do Buffalo Springs again or at least in a long long time. I got really lucky that it rained rather than deal with the Lubbock heat during the race. Friday and Saturday were blistering, and it frankly scared me that I'd have to push myself in such temp extremes. I don't want to tempt fate and return when Lubbock is back to the norm: hot and humid. Additionally, I don't think the event was organized nearly as well as what it cost to enter. Transition set up wasn't until the morning of, parking was sparse and traffic was extreme. I left earlier than I have for previous events, yet just barely got to the beach in time for my wave start. Others missed their waves. It was a bit disappointing in that sense.

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel, and took a warm bath and relaxed my muscles. That refreshed me enough to be able to drive home.

I'm in a very weird spot right now. I'm tired and an emotional wreck. I can't think about my next event or even my next training session. As soon as I got home, I unpacked the car and went to bed. I slept nearly 12 hours. I think that might have helped, but I still want to put this weekend behind me. I'm not yet sure what that means.

On the drive home, I told my wife I feel like I'm a donkey racing with horses. I may be a fast donkey, but I'm not a horse...and never will be. I'm stubborn like a donkey too! I want to be as fast as the fast horses. I train tirelessly like a donkey pulls a cart. But, a donkey can't really be fast like a horse. I'm also so stubborn. I make up my mind and there's no undoing it. Right now I have my mind made up that I'm a horse; I train like I'm a horse. Yet, perhaps I'd be much happier accepting I'm a donkey. A donkey plods along at its own pace, which it can maintain for a long distance. A donkey can carry large loads. But a donkey doesn't like to do things it doesn't want to. I feel this way not only with my racing but with my personal life (i.e. family, religion, work).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One Week Until Buffalo Springs

I've been pouring on the training hoping to make up for my injury down time. I've had one solid month of training, and I've finally hit a wall. This morning I did a killer swim workout, and when I was done...I was done. I had scheduled a follow up 4.5 hour bike ride, but that didn't happen. The main set of my swim workout was 20X100 meters leaving at 1:50. Before that set, I did a easy 400 and pulled 1000. Then, I did my intense set. When I was done, I was gasping for energy, my skin was burning, and I was totally wiped out.

Afterwards I went to my kids' Swim Meet, which was in the rain. Elise killed it again. Then I spent the rest of the day trying to recover. If all goes well I'll still hit 20 hours by weeks' end. Then next week it's a fairly easy week and my first event of the year. My longest run yet has been 1 hour at 7 miles. I'm a bit nervouse about that, but it's better than being injured and pulling out after the bike, which was my original plan. Fingers crossed, I'm hopping for a good race and at the least a good measure for where I stand fitness wise.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Week Is Progressing

Things are going well on the training front. I'm targeting 10K for swimming, 200+ miles on the bike and 15 miles running. I'm really not sure why but I've been really sore while riding and can't seem to pick up any high-end speed. Wednesday, I did three tempo intevals up Tramway, which were 15 minutes each. Yesterday I rode easy and spun my legs for an hour-and-a-half. This morning I got up and rode 30 miles on an extra-extended commute to work. By the time I got to work I was tired and hungry. I don't usually eat before I workout in the mornings, so I was in need of something when I got to my office. During the entire ride this morning, I felt like I was dragging. It was all I could do to hold 20MPH.

On another note, I've decided I'm not going to swim Masters on Friday mornings. Saturday Masters tend to be longer distance swims, and I don't want to show up tired. Because the number of swimmers showing up on Saturday is much less, you generally don't have to swim more than 2 to a lane. So rather than swimming circles, you can split the lane. I'm going to do my own workout tomorrow: 400 warm up, 2000 pull, and 15X100 @ 1:50, 600 warm down. Afterwards, I'm going to ride with a guy that swims in my lane. I'd like to ride 4.5 hours.

2 weeks from this weekend I have my first half-ironman of the season: Buffalo Springs. Because of prior injuries, I'm not at my top end. So, I'm going to train through the race hoping to peak (again) later for Lake Stevens or another event. It would be great to qualify for Clearwater. We'll see.

Monday, June 8, 2009

First Week of Real Training-I've heard that One Before!

Since I gave myself the green light to start training again, I hit the bike fairly hard this week. I ended the week with 180 miles, and some semblance of the form I had a month or so ago. I swam sans kicking. I only swam twice this week for a total of 7800 meters. But my workout Saturday was quality. I warmed up with a 400 then pulled for 2000 meters straight. Then I finished the workout off with 10X100 meters at 1:50. Had I swam Monday and Friday too, I wouldn't have been able to do the workout. I'm thinking about bailing on my Friday Masters workouts to be rested for my longer Saturday brick workouts. And....drum roll please...I ran a total of 10 miles! I did 3 20 minute runs at a really easy pace without any issues. Sunday I decided to take the show outside on the bike trail. It felt so good to run outside I just kept going. I ended up running for 40 minutes at 4.5 miles. I've been a bit sore since. That probably wasn't very smart.

My body is having a tough time adapting to training again. I've been making it a point to train in the heat to get my body acclimated to the sun. I think that takes a little out of you as well. By Sunday eve, I was worn out and ready to sleep.

Saturday morning was the kids' first swim meet. Elise, Ethan and Grace all swam in 3 events. All of them got 1st place ribbons--other placings too but that's OK too. I really didn't want them to swim in meets this year, but Elise wanted to. So, we let them. They were terrified at first, but after thier first event, they were confident for the rest of the meet. Elise did the 25 free and totally smoked the field. Her form was beautiful and she's shaped like a dart. She just cruised to an easy first place. It was very cool. She's only been on the swim team for 2 weeks and she already has good form.

Tanya had her first test of the summer session this week also, which was in biology. This is going to be a tough semester because the time is so compact and she has challenging classes: biology, chemestry and chemstry lab. She'll have a major test each week. I had to make the dinners this week...nothing exotic though. The kids favor hot dogs, hamburgers, corn dogs and pasta over anything with real substance. I don't mind. One night I did make tuna steaks, jasmine rice, and brocoli. The tuna steaks were pre-marinated by Mr. Trader Joe, so I just had to make sure I didn't burn them. Easy breezy...right?

The kids' summer is packed with events. They have early morning swim team, Day camp during the day, optional evening swim team, and piano on Thursdays. Ethan had cub scout camp last week. He also goes to a sports camp twice a week his basketball coach is putting on. They come home each day, eat dinner and make their lunch for the next day and pass out. Tomorrow their day camp is going to watch the local minor league baseball team: the Isotopes. I'm very excited about all the fun opportunities they'll have this summer. I really want them to experience life and be exposed to many things--hopefully that doesn't include camping though because I hate sleeping outside on the ground. Hopefully they don't get burned out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Break Through!

"Break Through" is usually a term used when you hit a new personal best time or your training has hit the next level. For me, the "Break Through" was finally figuring out what's been causing my injury. After a month long detour from running and biking, the culprit is swimming...more specifically, kicking drills. DOH! Saturday morning, I shared a lane with some dude who swam for UofA. He's swam all his life. I stopped him and asked him if he'd seen anything like my ailment. He laughed and send it was the second most common swimming injury next to shoulder related over-use injuries. He, then, showed me a stretch to eliminate it. He told me to lay off kicking for a week or so and it'll go away. I did just that.

After swimming, I jumped on my bike and rode for 3 hours. After 3 weeks of not riding and 4 weeks of not running, my fitness was greatly diminished. Throughout the entire ride, my HR was >155 BPM and I was hardly moving. Last time I rode, I was putting out 5X20 minute intervals fairly effortlessly and a very fast pace. Sure, I'm a bit frustrated, but I'm also glad I can ride again. Sunday, I ran on the treadmill for 20 pain-free minutes. It was at a very slow pace. And, again, last time I ran, I did a 10K in 40 minutes flat, but now I'm plodding along at 5 MPH for 20 minutes. At the end of the day, I'm just glad to be back again doing the things I love. The fitness will come back soon enough. I'm hoping to salvage the rest of this year in terms of racing. I still have Buffalo Springs at the end of this month that I'm registered for. I'm now putting that back on the table as a practice race. I won't even look at my time...I'll just go and take in the event. Why not?

On other news, I met with an individual who teaches at the University of New Mexico's Physical Therapy program who has a side business making orthodics. He assessed my feet, posture, and gait while walking and running, and made me some in-sole for my work, work-out, and running shoes. He had some very interesting insight about my body. He was great. He had the in-soles done the very next day. I ran on them for the first time yesterday. One thing he did say was thay with my current posture and body structure, I have to work a lot harder to run, which can lead to earlier fatigue and potential injury because of gait imbalances. The orthodics are supposed to relax my feet and allow for a more supple gait, which will better absorb shock/impact. I'm hopeful. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Break

This weekend was tied up in resolving loose ends and hanging out with friends and family. Since I didn't train other than swim and strength building exercises I tried to use my time taking care of other things.

Our house has a problem with plumbing backing up. Just recently it really backed up bad and after plunging, snaking and using an inordinate amount of chemicals, it wouldn't give. So, we had to call in the big boys: Roto Rooter. Well, they did the job. Thank goodness because every toilet and shower in the house wouldn't drain.

Next I bought a new dryer. Our last one was louder than a lug nut in a hub cap. It's amazing how quiet a new runs!

Then I did a bunch of laundry to get caught up.

Another thing we're doing now that summer is started is having the kids make their lunches for camp rather than charging it to the monthly gym bill for cafe-made lunches. I took Elise, Grace, and Mia to Walmart and went through a detailed shopping list picking easy-to-make items. We decided to make a rather hardy lunch since the first thing the kids will do is swim team every morning, which should knacker them out fairly will. I'm looking forward to tired kids at night so it'll be a bit more quiet around the house.

We also had Tanya's brother and family come into town for Colorado Springs, so we spent a bit of time with them. And, we spent time with friends.

All these things are good distractions so I'll let my leg heal. I'm struggling to stay still and let my leg heal. But, I know it's the best thing to do right now. I feel like my leg is half-way there. Perhaps one more week and I can do my first bike ride. I'm scared now that I'll reaggrevate it so I'm trying to be smart. I have found that the BOSU is a good implement to improving my leg. We'll see. My spirits seem to be a bit better though. Sometimes it helps to thing long-term rather than "right now". On the plus side, my swimming is really improving. I swam 4100 yards on Monday. I was able to really push hard. In fact, I took my own lane and nearly doubled the workout. It's my only outlet at the moment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Watching the World Go By

It’s at these times, when I’m sidelined from the events I love, that I really realize how much training means to me. I feel lost and out of sorts. You’d think I’d be soaking up the free time and relaxing in a hammock in the shade fully absorbed in a book. You’d think. But, I’m not. I’m irritable; I’m grumpy; and I’m pensive. I have this nagging feeling that all I’ve trained for these last months is slowly slipping away. I feel like an addict wanting one more fix of a 5 hour ride…just to let me know I still have it in me. Fitness is so fleeting—especially at the higher end of your capabilities. And, sitting around doing nothing can’t be good…right? I don’t know. This trial and error training approach is so tough on the psyche. I’ve always been of the mindset of doing too much is better than doing too little, and that doesn’t seem to work in triathlon training. It just gets you injured.

I’ve sent out a few emails to potential coaches. I’ve received one response so far saying he only coaches 10 athletes at a given time and he’s currently full but will add me to the waiting list. I sent a request to the number one ranked coach in the nation who coaches the best ironman triathletes in the world. It was a long shot. He charges way more than I can afford, so I pleaded with him to take me in as a charity case at a great discounted monthly charge. I haven’t received a response yet. I figure it’s worth trying at least. I’ll send a few more requests for other coaches. I think, generally, when you approach a potential coach, and pay him or her the full amount they ask, there wouldn’t be any hesitation. Sure…let’s get started. But, I can’t afford what they’re asking, so I’m telling them what I can afford, which is still significant for me, but less than what they’re asking. I suspect this is why I’ve been wait-listed on my first response so far. I think coaches would be willing to take a haircut on fees for someone if they knew there were great upside results potential, and I think I have that quality. But, it’s still too early to tell. I don’t have much in the way of results. So, I’m an unknown quantity. From they’re perspective, I could be a bag of hot wind that’ll blow out quickly. I know that’s not the case, but I’ll have to convince them.

I’ll keep you posted on the coach selection process.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Update

I kind of hit rock bottom this last week with exhaustion and a nagging injury. I’ve tried to push through this one too long and think I need to rest up, cease running and cycling (especially painful) activities for a brief spell, and try to get better. Saturday, the masters team did a 5X1000 meter practice. I did my first three at about 17 minutes each. The next one was 18:30 and the final was >20 minutes. I didn’t realize how much the swim took out of me. I came home, ate breakfast, lounged with literally no motivation, and finally went out on the bike about 9:30AM. After about 5 minutes of riding, I became acutely aware I didn’t have the energy to ride another 4 hours. I turned around and came home. I’ve been training consistently since December at an average of 15-20 hours a week. In that time frame, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends…and it’s finally caught up to me. Our bodies are great at telling us when enough is enough. As an athlete, you learn to ignore the pain and the fatigue because continuing on will make you stronger. This is true with proper rest and recovery. But, without that recovery, you just dig yourself into a hole. I’m in that hole regardless of whether I want to acknowledge it or not. I’ve put off that knowledge hoping for a miracle of sorts. Saturday brought that knowledge home to me. I need rest.

I plan on taking off running and cycling for a couple of weeks…it kills me to do so, but I really don’t have any choice. I’ll continue to swim because it’s non-impact and you lose form quickly. I’ll do some strength training activities in the interim.

One other resolution: I NEED A COACH! I’ve been killing myself training every waking moment available. I need someone to tell me to back off (or pick it up). I’m not objective and often find myself with a “More is Better” approach to training. I need someone who can harvest my potential yet keep me fit/healthy enough to keep going year round. I hate trying to get a coach because they can be expensive. They can cost as much as $500 a month—that’s a car payment for goodness sake. But, something’s got to change or I’ll self-destruct.

Finally, I took the wife to the Tamaya resort Saturday night/Sunday day for a belated Mother’s Day gift without the kids. It was a great get away. I’m amazed at how quickly I get used to a quiet/calm atmosphere. We spent the night at one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in New Mexico, and we spent the day by the pool in the sun lounging. It was truly great.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Don't Read This!

I've been in the dumps lately. I can't run and am losing all the run fitness I built up. I worked tonight until 8:30PM. My boss keeps insinuating that I need to work more. I feel like it's a battle just to train anymore, and, if I can, I hurt myself. Why can't I just win the lottery and do what I want?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Run Assessment: BAD!

I got up early and ran for 30 minutes in the morning before work. About a minute into it, my hip flexor started to hurt again. Before I could run without pain but felt a pain for about 2-3 hours after running. Now, I feel pain while I run and after. Basically, the results of the assessment were: Fail! I was very discouraged. I put off taking Ibuprofen as long as possible but the pain was pretty intense. When I got to work, I scheduled an appointment with the ortho just to rule out the worst possible scenario: femoral kneck stress fracture. Though it’s a low probability; the risk is high with runners and I had some symptoms. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The ortho x-rayed my hip and moved my leg in awkward positions and assessed there wasn’t a stress fracture. She referred me to a PT. I pleaded for a cortisone shot or steroids that would allow me pick up my running where I left off and prevent any future injuries--anything to carry me forward. No such luck.

As I take on the quest for Kona…I’m constantly reminded this may, indeed, be a longer road than I initially hoped. It seems I take 2 steps forward and one step back. I’ve been really frustrated and even considered quitting. I have less than 2 months before my first event and that’s now at risk. One of my goals for this year is to realize my running potential. How can I do so if I’m always on the mend for some running injury?

I scheduled my PT appointment and rode my TT bike after work. I hadn’t ridden for a week and I was rested. I joined a friend and we did a TT effort to the east side of the mountain. It must have been all the frustration from not being able to run, the rest, or work related stress, but I put down an incredible time. I dropped my riding partner on the way out and put some good time into him at the finish. I hit a HR of 185 BPM. It was just what I needed. I felt no pain when I rode.

It looks like the next month or so will be swim/bike/rehab focused. It’s not cool but it’s better than a dull stick in the eye.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Swim Week

This week I racked up roughly 16,500 yards of swimming. I did one yoga class…did lots of stretching throughout the week, and didn’t run or ride my bike. I’d like to say my leg is 100% and I’ll be training full speed ahead. But, my leg still doesn’t feel 100%...it’s better but not 100%. Sunday, the three older kids did the 5K Run For The Zoo and I toted Mia around on my shoulders for the duration. I was worried I’d be sore afterwards but wasn’t. That’s an improvement. I’ll have my first test run tomorrow. I’ll start with an easy 30 minute run and assess from there.

Otherwise the weekend was good. I watched Ethan’s basketball team demolish another team. Ethan and another player were on fire. By the third quarter, the refs pulled the score and just let the kids play out the time.

Afterwards, the family went and watched the new X-Man/Wolverine movie. It was entertaining and fun to hang out. We smuggled in lots of candy; I had my favorite Peanut Butter M&Ms. Oh yeah!

We just signed the three oldest kids up for the local swim team. I timed Elise while she swam 100 meters for a before-and-after comparison. She swam it in 3:20; She used all sorts of strokes (i.e. dog paddle, back, modified crawl); she rested at the wall. It wasn’t pretty but she got it done. It’ll be interesting to see what her post-summer time will be. I’ve told her the focus this summer is to focus on form/technique and endurance. We don’t need to worry about speed or races—those will come later. Elise has the perfect body and determination to be a great swimmer, if she get’s hooked. Unfortunately, she gets put off of any thing I try to push her into. So, I have to not pressure her. Don’t worry though, I’ve already contacted the swim coach at my alma mater to see what she needs to be able to do for swim camp next year. I’m so bad!

Friday, May 1, 2009

1 Year Away

One year from today, I will be gutting it out again in the St. George Iron Man hopefully with better results--healthy running split. The times at this event will be less relevant as the placings for the Kona ticket because the bike and run course are horrendously challenging with elevation gains. Check out the course profiles:




No sense in getting worried about the elevation gain...just have to train...specificity...specificity. The bike course picks up upwards of 4,500 feet of elevation and the run picks up another 2,000 feet. I couldn't live in a better place to prepare with high altitude and lots of climbing--no worries!

Leg is slowly getting better and I'm enjoying recovery time. Tomorrow's day starts with a swim with Masters, watching son's basketball game, and relaxing by the pool...oh and maybe catching a movie with the kids. Now that's what I'm looking forward to.

This next year's going to be crazy! I hope to see as many friends and family as possible at the finish line this year.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Getting Better

It’s been 4 days now since I last rode the bike and 9 days since I last ran. I’ve kept my training to just swimming and have focused on resting this week. I now feel like I’m starting to recover both physically and mentally from the last few months of training. Just a recap…I put myself on a forced recovery week to get over a bit of hip flexor tendonitis. This was probably one of the smarter things I’ve done. My body really needed some rest. I was so exhausted that I was really grumpy at work and wanted to beat my boss up. I’m going to continue to recover for the rest of week and reassess whether I’m able to run again next week. I’ve been icing my leg every night, stretching, and taking some ibuprofen.

This week is the Tour of the Gila, a bike stage race in southern New Mexico. I’ve done this race a few times before. It’s by far my favorite bike race though it’s by far the hardest bike race I’ve ever done. I’m a bit sad I’m not doing it this year because Lance Armstrong, Levi Lepenheimer, Chris Horner and Floyd Landis are racing in the category 1 race. I’m a category 3 racer, so I wouldn’t race with them but it would be fun to see all the hype around these sports figures. My training right now is so different than what’s needed for the Gila. I wouldn’t even dare try…it would be too humiliating. I’ve learned that runners aren’t bike climbers, and this is a bike climbing race. I have a few friends driving down to the race to watch Lance. I’d rather spend the day with the family than in the car driving to and from Silver City.

This week I was able to do something I’ve not been able to do in years: I touched my toes while stretching. It’s silly but I’m so stiff I haven’t been able to touch the toes in years. I’m certain this is the primary reason I get hurt so much while running. My muscles/tendons are too rigid. I never stretch…it takes too much time. When you’re strapped for time and you have to make a choice between running for 45 minutes or running for 35 minutes and stretching for 10, the former generally wins. Bike racing doesn’t require much stretching. But, running necessitates stretching almost daily. I’m learning this lesson, so I’m trying to make a real effort to stretch. Stretching is so painful. Oh well….what ever it takes!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Forced Recovery

I've recently developed a small case of hip flexor tendonitis. It's nothing major, but, as these things go, you have to get a handle on them early or the minor injury can wreck a big portion of your season. I was scheduled to do a Duathlon in Los Alamos this weekend, but figured it would be smarter to not go. The last time I ran, was a week ago. I bumped my riding to cover my missed running time. I was able to put in the scheduled 18 hours of training I needed. Although on further research of hip flexor tendonitis, the biggest sports causes are running and biking--Doh! So this week I'm on a king of forced recovery week limited to swimming and yoga only. I'm sure this short time off will not affect me fitness-wise I'm already at the point where I'm running so ragged, training begins to be counter-productive.

This last weekend was probably the craziest of my life! Lots of things happened...too many to list. It's amazing how many things one can cram into a weekend. For this reason alone, I need a bit of recovery.

One of the biggest challenges I face is trying to train for these events and trying to juggle work demands. My co-workers and boss don't have the same goals I have. Much of their personal goals are tied to career performance. I envy them for that; my life would be so much more simple if my goals would be centered around my career. Unfortunately, I have too much physical energy. If I put off training for a period of time, I'm impossible to live with. Just ask my kids what I'm like during the off-season. My wife yells at me to go out and ride my bike. The training I do creates a balance that allows me to work (and live) productively. It's a yin and yang thing. I have to have a physical outlet...and why not let it be constructive? I've tried just lifting weights...it seemed so strange to spend countless hours trying build muscle. I tried golf--worst mistake ever! So far, endurance racing brings me the balance I need. Even so, my training hours and/or my working hours tend to get out of balance and I start to get mentally exhausted. Lately, I feel like I'm dealing with that with respect to my work. My boss wants me to work everyday until 7pm--at least. And that's doable...sometimes. But other times, it makes me want to find a new job...maybe puppetry or folk dancing. I, also, know that my attitude towards work if very cyclical, and when I'm on a down cycle (like now) I need to take some time off to recharge the batteries.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is spending the summer by the pool. During the summer, I usually spend the morning training and meet up with the family at the gym's pool for the afternoons every Saturday. We'll get a pizza or some sandwiches and just hang out for hours. Tanya hangs out with her friends. In the previous years, I've had to make sure Mia is OK in the pool and have to swim with her. She can now swim really well. So, I'm going to buy myself some books and spend the summer catching up on my reading. I'm going to spend as much time pool-side this summer as possible. Perhaps I can knock out Victor Hugo's complete works--especially now that the hoopla around Les Miserables has finally died down (a discussion for another day).

I feel like I'm rambling right now, so I'm going to go.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bring On The Pain

Sorry about the week's writing hiatus. The last week was hectic at work. We are updating the annual forecast with the first three months (jan-mar) of actual data to create what we call the Q1 Reforecast, in which we reforecast annual earnings.

Each day last week (except Friday) I worked until 8:30 PM. I’d come home and jump on my trainer for an hour-and-a-half, go to bed, and get up at 5:00 AM to swim. There wasn’t any time to update the blog.

A new wrinkle in my training this week is I’m starting to add intensity. The first few months are focused toward building endurance and preparing the body to be able to deal with intensity. As of the last training block, I completed that phase of training. I’m now in the building/intensity phase of training. The training volume decreases a bit and key interval workouts are added. I’ll also start to doing low-priority races (C ranked races) to build speed, get used to the race situation, and simulate race intensity.

This week called for an intense bike interval workout, which I did on the trainer (I had no choice because it was dark when I got home from work), and a 10K running race. This phase of training is psychologically challenging in that you’re supposed to not be concerned with race results. You’re supposed to keep up your regular training load and race. There’s no tapering to prepare for a race. If you’re tired, you still race. The point is to bring yourself to a peak for your “A” ranked races later in the year--my “A” ranked race is in mid-June. What’s so psychologically challenging about this is it’s hard to not care about race results regardless of the intent. I’ve seen people hit this phase of training, do poorly in a race, and alter their entire training schedule as a result. Additionally, racers risk getting into a funk—they lose their mental toughness—as a result of the build race.

For me intensity is very painful…I’m sure that’s a commonly expressed sentiment. I sometimes get lazy when it comes to intensity because it’s much less mentally demanding to punch out a longer less intense workout than to focus and push yourself harder during intervals. This is perhaps one of my biggest weaknesses. I sometimes fail to embrace the pain intensity brings and just do a long ride/run/swim instead. This is partially why I shifted my focus from road bike racing (very intense) to Iron Distance triathlons because Iron Distance triathlons require more endurance and much less intensity. None the less, intensity is crucial to get fast: no pain…no gain.

One other difficulty with the shift to intensity is the decrease of volume. This may seem counter intuitive. In the base period of training, it’s cool to put up the big numbers. It’s a quantifiable measure of your effort. You get a real sense of accomplishment. You have something to brag about. When you shift to intensity, your time decreases and there’s more time necessary for recovery both in training and resting. There’s a twofold decrease in your quantity. Your weekly totals in time and distance diminish significantly. Your overall workload may have increased, but there’s really no way to quantify that change and you’re left with less miles/hours at week’s end.
The weekdays were a blur of training and working. There’s not much to recount. Saturday and Sunday were eventful days packed with activities both training and family related.

My Saturday started with at 6AM with an hour Masters swim. I took it easy because after swimming, I had to rush across town to enter a 10K running race. I swam 2000 meters and didn’t use my legs. I jumped out the pool and changed into my running gear. I hurried across town trying to cram a little food down to have some energy for the race. I don’t eat before I swim—swimming with a full stomach is terrible. I ate a muffin and an Odwalla smoothie.

When I got to the race, I signed up and had 15 minutes to warm up. It had rained the night before and was a bit sloppy at the start line. 85 people signed up for the 10K. They started us in a narrow alley that was blocked by a large muddy puddle with about 5 feet on one side that wasn’t muddy. I had my new shoes and didn’t want to go running through the puddle, so I resolved to sprint for the hole shot. The organizer blew the whistle and I took off as fast as I could to keep the new shoes clean. I held the pace for a few minutes and realized I was leading the race. I turned around and the nearest person was 100 yards behind. I decided to roll with my pace. Every so often I’d check my HR and saw numbers anywhere from 181-176 BPM. Mile after mile ticked off and I was running paranoid that someone would pass me at any moment. Finally at mile marker 4, I was passed by the first person. I hung on to his pace as long as I could. I started to fade by mile marker 5 and was hanging on for life. I was passed 3 more times. The race finally ended and I posted a time of 40:06. My average HR was 176 BPM for the entire event. I was trashed.

I hurried to the car and went to my son’s basketball game. It was a great game and my son’s team lost by a single point that was almost overcome by Ethan’s half court shot. After the game, I came home and jumped on my bike for a recovery ride. There was nothing left after the running race; I just wanted to ensure the quickest recovery by spinning the legs. I rode for 1.5 hours. I then came home and took an ice bath, which really seems to help. It was my first ice bath ever. I’m certain there will be more.

The rest of the day was spent lounging around the house senselessly.

Sunday I got up and rode my TT bike for 4.5 hours. It was a waste of time though because I couldn’t even get my HR above 140 BPM. I probably would have been better served sleeping the entire day. After my ride, I met my wife at church. We then walked through our dream house—they were asking $700K—Doh! The rest of the evening was spent hanging out with friends and family.

I finished the week with 17 hours of training, a new 10K PR, some quality intensity, and a near comatose state of mind. Hopefully next week will be a bit better.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Last Week's Kids Triathlon

Two Saturdays ago, the three oldest kids participated in their first triathlon. The distances for the two oldest were as follows: run 1 mile, bike 3 miles, swim 200 yards. For Grace, it was a 100 yard run, 500 bike and 50 yard swim. I thought it would be a good idea to let the kids do their very first triathlon so they could get inspired to join the local swim team. Of course Ethan was already pumped. Elise was more nervous and tentative. Grace was oblivious. I didn't sign my youngest up because I wasn't sure whether she could swim the 50 yards alone.

Conceptually, having the kids do the triathlon seemed like such a fun idea. Little did I know how stressful it was going to be. Friday night was comprised of dashing across town to register the kids, picking up bike tubes to fix bike tires that hadn't been used much over the winter, and getting the kids' transition bags packed with swim suits, goggles, helmets, running shoes, and everything else they'd need to complete their first triathlon. I had to spend a lot of time assuring my oldest she'd be fine. She's very much a perfectionist and worried all night that she wouldn't finish. In the weeks leading up to the race, she wouldn't commit to doing the race. I lied and told her I already signed her up. She was partially mad and partially happy.

When we woke in the morning, it was raining. It had been raining since the wee hours of the morning and was quite cold. The kids were intimidated by the cold. I thought for sure, they'd either call the race or at least leave out the bike portion. We ate breakfast and loaded the bikes in the car. Mia (the youngest) kept crying because she wanted to do the triathlon like her older brother and sisters.

We got to the triathlon and I helped the kids set their bikes up in transition. They hung their transition backpacks from their bike handlebars. I carefully instructed them that they had to put their helmet on before they left transitions or they'd be DQed--not really but I want to instill the rules early.

Then we went to the race office where they got body marked. I pinned their numbers on their chests. Each kid had their swim suits under their sweats for a quick transition. We huddled and talked about race strategy in terms what they needed to do after each race segment. This was a run/bike/swim format triathlon. I assured them the most important thing was to finish. I told them to not think of it as a race. "Just finish and don't give up!"

While going through all the pre-race activities, it kept raining. Inside I hoped that they'd eliminate the bike portion of the race. I was very much stressed trying to make this a positive experience for them and managing each of their individual concerns. The race organizers called the pre-race meeting for the parents and announced that they were going to continue with the kids triathlon in spite of the rain...and, they were still going to have the bike portion. I watched my children's faces, and they seemed fine with the news.

The younger age group (Grace's group) started first. The kids lined up for the run and the organizers blew their whistle. Off they went. Both the run and the bike portion were in the parking lot. Grace ran with the lead group and had a smooth bike transition.

Grace During The Run

The parents were able to help and I helped her get her helmet on. She jumped on her bike and rode through the bike course. What was really amazing about Grace's event was she has only been riding a bike without training wheels for a month or so. What's more, she was riding the bike she purchased with money she saved.

Grace Off On Her Bike

As the younger kids were finishing the bike portion, the older group (Elise and Ethan) lined up to start their event. Tanya peeled off to usher Grace through the rest of her bike and swim segments of her event while I helped Elise and Ethan.

Grace During The Swim


Grace And Her Hardware

Shortly after Elise and Ethan lined up, the organizers blew the starting whistle. They were off for their 1 mile run. They headed off on bike trails away from the facility and out of site. I, along with other parents, waited with anxiety for our children to reappear for their next event. For what seemed like an hour (but was only 10 minutes), we waited. One by one each kid came into site over the hillside from their trail run. Ethan came running and I could tell he was giving every thing he had to the race. He's really funny because he smiles while he's physically exerting himself, so it looks like he's just messing around.

About 100 yard behind Ethan, Elise came following. Her cheeks were bright red. I helped both of them get their helmets on and sent them on to their respective bike sections. This time they were gone even longer and the level of anxiety was much greater. By this time, all the kids were much more spread out.

First Ethan came in from the bike leg, and I helped him rack his bike. He pulled off his sweats while it rained, jammed them in his backpack grabbed his goggles and ran to the pool.

Just as Ethan finished, Elise pulled into transition. I could tell she was winded but was pushing through. I racked her bike and helped her get her clothes in her backpack.

When Ethan started the swim, he started with a full-on sprint. He tried to use his freestyle stroke. By the time he finished the first length of the pool, he was exhausted. He finished the rest of the swim a better pace using a modified dog/breast stroke. As soon as he finished and climbed out of the pool, the race organizers put a metal around his neck. He was very happy and wanted to know how many people he passed.

Ethan With His Hardware

Elise took a much more conservative approach during the swim portion. She swam with her head above water and just focused on finishing. When she finished, she climbed out of the pool, got her metal, and collapsed on the ground to catch her breath.

Elise With Her Hardware

Elise was really tough and hung in there. The three girls that finished before her climbed out of the pool and started to cry because it was so hard. She took some time to catch her breath and was ready for the rest of the day.

Afterwards we went to Zios-a local Italian restaurant and celebrated the kids first triathlon. This was one of the first meals out we've had where the kids weren't going nuts. All of them were still wearing the metals and were excited to explain where the metals came from when asked. Ethan kept telling people he did his first IronMan.

When we got home, I was so tired I took an hour long nap. The day's event was stressful. I wanted everything to go just right. I wanted the kids to have an experience that they could remember for a long time--something they could build on. I think the event met that standard, but it just wiped me out mentally--more so than a full day of training. I'm glad we did it; and the kids keep asking when the next one is--next year please!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rest Week Activity

It's been fairly low key this week. It's amazing how much better I swim with a little rest. I guess I've officially taken the title of "lane leader". Some people just got tired of me swimming up on their legs. I figure now that I'm getting closer to my races, I need to start pushing the intensity. So, leading the lane will help with that.

I did the fingers with the team on Wednesday and really suffered. I can't climb worth beans right now. Running and bike climbing don't go together. It was good to ride with people though rather than going solo. Sometimes I need that human interaction.

Last night I ran 8.5 miles on the treadmill in 1:15. I felt pretty good. Based on the run training program I'm following, that's my "easy" pace. This is the longest run I've done this year. I'm trying to give myself plenty of build time. Ideally, I'd like to be able to do a 1.5 hour run each week.

Tomorrow I'm entering the three oldest kids in a mini-kid triathlon. They've been fairly excited aboout it. Elise has been fickle. When I first told her about it, she said she didn't want to do it. Now that it's the day before, she wants to do it.

Next week I have my first scheduled race; it's a duathlon that's a 10k run, 40k bike, and a 5k run. It's in Los Alamos, which is high attitude. The bike portion has lots of climbing. I've never done a duathlon and don't have any expectations. I figure it'll be a good building race for June.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Taco Contest

When Tanya left out of town, the kids and I renewed a competition we have every year: The Taco Eating Contest!

We headed to our local Taco Bell. This time it would a team contest; Elise/Ethan vs. Daddy/Grace/Mia. I ordered 20 of the $1 tacos. Ethan told the manager we were having a taco eating contest, and he got really excited. He told us he'd throw in an order of Cinnimon Twists for the winning team. I guess he figured we would be too full to take him up on his offer--wishul thinking!

When the order was filled, I put 10 tacos on 1 tray and gave it to Team Ethan/Elise. The remaining 10 tacos were on another tray for Team Daddy/Grace/Mia. Each team sat together at their respective fiberglass table with swiveling leg-less chair. The only rule was that if one team finished all 10 of their tacos, they could grab a taco from the other team; thereby, claiming victory. That is after the complete taco is consumed, of course.

Once the rules were in place and understood by all, I set my timer, and said, "mark, set, go!" The entire Taco Bell staff were watching in amusement.

Right off the bat, Ethan, grace, and I knocked our first off in less than a minute. This pace was a bit too much for Grace, and she puked a little. Living up to her name, she quietly rolled what came up in the taco wrapping and carried on to her next one. I'm glad no one from the opposing team noticed so this wouldn't become a point of contention during the final stretch. One-after-one Ethan and I inhaled our tacos. I started to worry that I didn't buy enough tacos. The Taco Bell staff were coming closer to our table to see how the competition wrapped up. After three tacos, Grace started to shut down. Elise hit three tacos and started yelling at Ethan to eat more. After 5 tacos, both Ethan and I were starting to slow down. Mia was finishing her second. I grabbed number 6 and Ethan followed my pace. This finished all of Team Daddy/Grace/Mia's 10 tacos and left one taco on Team Ethan/Elise's tray. Ethan and I were staring eye-to-eye chewing at the same pace. The tension was thick. I didn't know if I could finish and out grab from Ethan the last taco from Team Ethan/Elise's tray. And, just when Ethan and I were 3/4s through with our tacos and getting ready to reach, Mia grabbed the last taco from Team Ethan/Elise's tray. Ethan and Elise shouted in horror as Mia snatched victory right off their taco tray. She quietly opened the wrapping, and ate the taco bite-by-bite as Grace started to celebrate. The final taco was consumed precisely at 10:50. The Taco Bell staff clapped and handed a bag of cinnomon twists to our team. Grace snatched them up and shared them with Mia. Ethan and Elise pleaded for a few cinnomon twists, but Grace wouldn't have any of it. I'm not sure if the Taco Bell staff will encourage another taco eating contest based on mess we left.

One interesting note: as we were driving home, Mia asked what was for dinner.

Laundry List For Recovery Week

Over the stressful building training weeks, I make a mental note of all the things that need to get done around the house, and vow to get them done on my recovery week. During those three weeks, I pray nothing will be pressing enough that I can't defer it until recovery week. During this last three-week duration our washer started to die, I lost my wallet (i.e. drivers license, debit cards, other personal data), sprinklers needing to be started up again, and few other jobs reared their heads. I did my best to patch up the washer to get it to limp along until recovery week. Well, today's the first day of my recovery week, and I had to take the day off because Tanya's out of town for a distant family member's funeral. Today, I was able to knock out a few of my items. I pulled apart the washer and found a bunch of coins, rocks, a handful of lint, hair pins, stickers, and buttons clogging the water pump's flow. Afterwards, I got a new driver's license, and fired up the sprinklers. I "spring" cleaned the office. When the two oldest kids got home from school, I had them "spring" clean the kitchen. This included sweeping, mopping, reorganizing the cabinets, cleaning the hinder spaces on the counter (i.e. under the microwave and toaster), and finishing the dishes.

The two youngest got early by cleaning their room.

I'm now catching up on a few weeks of laundry. We're hoping to have the whole house done by the time Tanya gets home, which should be late-late tonight.

One of the things I was taking stock of today are all things that need to be replaced in our house. As mentioned in a previous post, we need a new dryer. We need a new vacuum cleaner--Tanya insists it has to be a Dyson. Our house phone just died this weekend. Our dishes, pots, and pans are, virtually, the same dishes we got for our wedding (15 years ago). My mobile phone is dying. The problem with all this stuff...there's nothing sexy about buying household goods! It's not like a new wheelset or even a pair of running shoes. The cost of all these items could easily buy a great little family vacation. Yet without fully functioning household goods, everything gets out of sync. Some things I refuse to buy with young kids, they'll just get trashed (i.e. nice dining flatware). It just seems like such a waste. Oh well...these are the perils of your average household.

Hopefully, I can spend the rest of the week "recovering" and anticipating anything that could possibly derail my next training block.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday's Redemption

Still upset about my swimming workout, I decided to make Saturday a high-quality mega brick workout.

The alarm went off at 6:15AM, I was already up and ready to swim. I got to the pool and the lanes were switched from yards to meters. There were two workouts posted on the board: mid-distance and 5K, you pick. You guessed it, I picked the 5K. The sets were 800 meters pull/800 meters descending by 100. The next was 2 sets of 600 with the same instructions and continued with a double set of 400s and 200s. The final set was 10X100 meters.

I jumped in and tried to get as much of the workout done in the 1:15 allotted. When the time was up, I'd finished 4000 meters. I wasn't too disappointed about not getting the last 10X100s in because my arms were already tired.

I came home, ate my breakfast and changed into my riding clothes. I'd spent last night getting everything ready for a smoothe transition. This included updated the music on the Ipod. Last night, I downloaded the complete Prodigy library. So, that's what kind of workout I was planning. The weather was miserable:

Current conditions as of 1:53 pm MDT

Partly Cloudy/Windy
Feels Like:50°
Barometer:29.75 in and falling
Humidity:21%
Visibility:10 mi
Dewpoint:11°
Wind:WSW 25 mph
Sunrise:6:48 am
Sunset:7:29 pm
50°High: 47° Low: 23°

I copied these conditions from Yahoo Weather. The winds were fierce. I had a side wind the entire ride. There were a few times I felt like I was riding with my bike at a 45 degree angle just to stay upright. Wind is great for building mental toughness, and today was no exception. I covered 75 miles in 4:15.

As soon as I got home, I quickly changed into running clothes and fired up the treadmill. I ran for 20 minutes as fast as I could. I started at 8 MPH and pushed it up 10 MPH--that's as fast as my treadmill goes. The running legs felt really nice!

Now I'm doing what I can to recover for tomorrow's workout--the final workout of the week/month and recovery week starts.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Missed Work Out - Arg!

This is my big training week of the month, and everything was going as planned...that is until this morning. I use my cell phone for an alarm, and the cell phone is on the fritz. Needless to say, I missed my Masters Swim because I didn't wake up. That's annoying! I don't know if I should kill myself trying to make it up. I have a swim tomorrow morning. Do I try to make up the swim tonight with another lengthy swim 12 hours later or do I try to make it up Sunday on a day that's already full of events (2.5 hour bike/1 hour run)? Or do I just blow it off? In the grand scheme of things one missed swim workout is not a big deal, but I really want to go into my recovery week finishing all that I planned.

It's really interesting the emotional status one finds themself in after training between 18-26 hours a week for three months straight (excluding 3 recovery weeks of 10 hours each). The first two months, I'd find myself exhausted by my peak week. This peak week, I can best describe myself as being very punk rock (i.e. easily annoyyed, abrasive, confrontational, and reckless). It's actualy very liberating. I feel like a teenager again. At work, I've holed myself to my computer with my door shut, and music blaring; I don't answer the phone--let it roll to voice mail. I might call you back...and I might not. I logged on to my wife's FaceBook account and graffitied a bunch of people's wall. I've already responded adversley to 3 mass emails--and I replyed to all! Don't mess with me...I'm punk rock!

That co-worker that I put in the stretcher on Tuesday after our run, bailed on our Thursay run. That's right...you got schooled by someone ten years your senior. Next time you show up to the run, don't bring your ballet slippers!

A couple of days ago, my bike training buddy and I did a little team TT training on Tramway. We were able to hold a 31-32 MPH average for 5 miles. We did it twice. It was really fun trading pulls at such a fast speed. As we were humming along, little kids in the back of their mommy's hybrid Suburbans watched us keep up. They'd wave and giggle. We were slobbering like mud horses just trying to pull through. Afterwards, we were both exhausted and excited by the workout.