Monday, March 31, 2008

Rebel Man

Something like 6 or 8 weeks ago, I decided to put to rest all my excuses about not doing a triathlon, and sign up for the one that seemed most easily accomplished. Saturday the race came, but before I get into the actual race report, I’ve asked Sam to write a little introduction for me. This story (Sam loves to rag on me about it, for good reason), describes me almost perfectly.

The shortest tempo run ever

Let’s set the scene, shall we? Memorial Day weekend 2007. I flew up to Rochester, NY with my parents for the wedding of a cousin (Steve’s younger sister).

I went and hung out with Steve and Liz (Steve’s wife) for some coffee. Steve and I discussed getting in a little fun run the next morning before Steve had to fulfill family duties.

We decided to meet at a location on the Erie Canal trail. Pretty idyllic day: little cloudy, about 65-70 degrees F. I tell Steve before we start I’m thinking of doing about 5, and if he needs to turn back and just get in 3 before heading home, I’m cool with that. We discuss pace, deciding on about 8 min miles or thereabouts.

So we start going, and I look down at my Garmin to check the pace and we’re running about 7:40/mile. I think to myself “ah it’s a little fast, but it’ll calm down. Steve hasn’t been running much.” I also comment to Steve, “We’re going a little below 8’s right now, how you feeling?” “I feel great!” Says Steve. Over the next 5 minutes and approximately ¾ of a mile, Steve continues to lower the pace down to the fastest at about 6:20/mile. Mind you, I’d been training for a half ironman and doing speedwork, so it wasn’t really a big deal for me, I was just enjoying the fun, thinking “This won’t last long, right? Or maybe it will. Steve did run track in high school.” At right around a mile, Steve turns and says “I gotta slow down. Something’s not right.”

We ran a mile and walked a mile that day. And Steve has yet to live it down. I had to work in a run the next night to stay on schedule. I also kid Steve pretty mercilessly whenever we talk. Just for reference, before his tri, I must have warned him at least 5 times to go out easy on the swim and see how he feels on the bike before beginning the hammerfest. With that said, I’ll turn it over to Steve.

Now that I look a little hard-headed—Sam’s pretty much right, in my defense, I’ll only add that I hadn’t run consistently in years, and the running I did came in pick-up/intramural games of frisbee, basketball, or football, places where my ability to run fast for short bursts comes in handy.

The Swim (400yds in a lap pool, time-trial start)

Swim Time- 8:29

As Sam has alluded to, I threw down way too hard to start the swim the swim. Within 100yds, I caught the two people in front of me….they caught me by the 300yd mark. Needless to say, I was going SLOW by that point, and couldn’t seem to get going again.

On my way outside, I must have looked pretty pitiful—my wife cheered me on by asking, “Are you going to make it?”

Just for the record, even with the added time of getting to the chip pads (50 yds away from the pool), I have no idea how I went so slow, while training I didn’t even warm-up/cool down that slow.


T1 Time- 4:03

On my way out of the pool I decided to take my transition easy. I pretty much blew my race in the pool, and figured it best to simply make sure I got on the bike. I did no running through this transition—not exactly the best way to a speedy time, but I wanted to finish the race.

The Bike (supposed to be a 21k, apparently the organizers decided to make it a 22k)

Bike Time-45:45/17.3mph

I finally get on the bike (about 3-4 minutes after I thought I might), and my chain decides (for 3-5 miles) that it really wants to flip-flop between the big and small rings. I try changing gears (hitting all of them I think), and it just doesn’t want to stick. Not wanting to break the chain, I proceed at a very slow 14ish mph. Finally, as I was going up a hill, the chain stuck in the big ring!

All that said, I came in on the bike with about the time I expected, so no big surprises. I only passed a few people, and got passed by probably 6 or 8.


T2 Time-1:43

A bit more respectable than T1—it helps to run….

The Run (supposed to be 5k, if you weren’t in the top 3, you were told the wrong directions, and it turned into a 4k)

Run Time-21:11/8:29/mile

The run felt good, but it was a bit slow, as I was shooting for 7:45-8/mile. Not much to say other than I had too much left at the finish.

Total Time-1:21:10, 88th overall (I don’t know how many), 20/27 AG

My goal time was to come in around 1:30, and I beat that, so I’m trying to convince myself to be happy about it. I’m unhappy because I came in with a lot of energy to spare, and feel like I could have used it on the bike or run. The good news is that I’ve got better direction now for my training. Now I know to really work on sustaining my speed.

I’m still excited about the triathlon, and can’t wait for the next race. Feel free to give me any training tips for the next go-round.

Papa John's 10 miler Race Report

So I realize that I've become a fitness freak when I have racing traditions. This is my new one: a longer run to kick off the season and get me going. Last year it was a half mary pacing Mark, this year, a fun run with Mike at the 10-miler.

The other reason I know I'm a fitness freak is that I look at a race as training for something else. Seriously. I got to Lousville friday afternoon and was more excited about riding over to the stadium on the bike with Mike for packet pickup than I was for the race. I felt a little bad (and took a lot of crap) for pushing him a bit on the bike. There were some good hills and Mike was pretty exhausted by the time we got done with our ~23 miles. Sorry bud. We'll do it again next year and you'll be in shape.

It was a cold morning. High 30's. There was record attendance yet again for this event. Around 7500 people.

My plan was to go out along with mike pretty easy the first 3 miles until we got to Iriquois park. This is where the race begins. There were some solid hills out there. Nice long hills are really becoming something I enjoy more. But I especially enjoy it on the bike. The run, it's good, but not my favorite thing. However, I was killing it in the hills this day. I was able to have just a solid cadence, and I was passing people like gangbusters. After the first hill, I decided it was time to start pouring it on and let Mike run his own race and me mine. The last hill in Iriquois was pretty rough, but it felt good to have it over with and the downhill was a glorious break. I took in a gel before getting to the water station and then it was back to the stadium. Mostly a slight up grade and into the wind just a smidge. I was able to keep the cadence pretty high and at mile 9, just before the last hill ( a bridge over the RR), I started planning the finish. Halfway up the hill, some tall young dude caught me and went by me. He looked like a basketball player. I decided that with current conditions, I would use his apparent strength to my advantage. I slowed down a step and hopped in behind him. I'm so happy drafting is legal in running, because it just isn't fair that I used this poor sap the way I did. I was right on his heels and I'm sure he heard me, so he just kept pushing harder. I enjoyed it back there, just matching him step for step experiencing no wind. as we turned into the stadium at about a 1/4 mile to go, I pulled out around him and poured it on. I'm not sure how close he was, but I definitely wasn't letting him catch me.

It was a good finish. I went and got my chip taken off, grabbed a water and a powerade and went back to get Amber. I had done training runs with her, and we figured it would be fun to run in together. My knee and calves were hurting heading back. I saw mike coming in as I was going back out. Mike beat his time from two years ago by like 8 minutes. I found Amber around mile 8.5 (so I got in a half mary all told). She was running really well and ended up going sub 10-min miles for the whole thing. She had done the half mary last spring in over 11-min miles, so we were both pretty stoked; especially considering the amount of training she'd been doing. We've been pretty busy with weddings and moving and such lately.

Steve should have his first Tri race report up soon. Maybe we can get Mike on to do it too?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

To Shave or Not to Shave?

Is it worth it?

As a former swimmer, I am almost positive that shaving would get me fired up for Saturday's race. I'm pretty sure it won't make me any faster, as I'm doing the race in running shorts and shirt (Not that I'm convinced it would make me much faster anyway). Right now, I'm leaning toward breaking out the razor tonight....give me a reason not to.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My First Tri. The REBELMAN.

You think its Iron-distance don’t you? No, I’m not that good, they’ve fooled you. It’s a (short) Sprint-distance (400m swim, 21k bike, 5k run), in Oxford, MS on Saturday. I’m all the things you’d expect from a tri newbie—nervous, excited, constantly crapping myself….

For something like a decade, I’ve been dreaming of doing a triathlon, always putting it off because of time and/or money. Now that it’s less than a week away, I am literally dreaming of triathlons. Last night, as I drifted to sleep, I was sitting in T2, trying in vain, to get my shoes on. They wouldn’t go on, it’s like someone switched them out with a smaller pair. They finally slipped on as Ella jolted me awake with a cry. Hopefully Saturday’s race goes better than it seems to in my sleep.

I’ve not finished the first race yet, and I’m already looking forward to my first Oly. This will be a good summer of racing….hopefully the move(s) don’t mess it up too much.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Mixing in Yoga & Pilates

After a year of consistent twice weekly weight training along with my cardio, I decided it was time to give yoga a try to see how much flexibility (aka injury resistance) I could gain through regular stretching. Increased flexibility is something I value much more at 52 than I did at 32.

This past year I didn't follow through in actually doing various pre-post running stretches I had found online, I hadn't found any TV shows or DVD's that focused solely on stretching(I have since located a title but haven't ordered the DVD), and I really felt I needed full body stretching to complement all the weight training I was doing. Whenever I talked with trainers about wanting to incorporate more stretching and flexibility work into my routines, they recommended a yoga class.

I had already tried the do-it-yourself-with DVD route but had apparently chosen DVD's not fully suited to giving this novice the detailed instruction and observation and feedback I needed to learn correct form. So I decided not to let the whoo-whoo spiritual emphasis get to me and to take some classes with an instructor two trainers I trust recommended. Though performing some of the poses was impossible for me and my range of flexibility was a world away from that of the instructor, at the end of my first hour class I knew this was something I had to keep doing - my entire body felt more stretched out and relaxed than it had felt for many months.

After a month of this once a week class, I discovered "Namaste Yoga", a half-hour show on Fit TV that was broadcast several times in each 24 hour period and began adding that stretching discipline to my day several days a week. I still cannot do some of the poses, but my performance of each pose is improving, my flexibility is gradually increasing, and I have found the emphasis on deep, focused breathing helpful in my weight training and cardio, in addition to its role in deepening the stretches I am able to do.

Then, a week and a half ago I took my first pilates/yoga fusion class, followed by a full hour of pilates the following week in addition to the combo class. Like the yoga, I'd been wanting to take a pilates class for sometime, but hadn't felt I was strong enough yet to keep up., having seen several classes in session. All I can say is WOW! These instructors have come up with beguiling ways of using resistance bands and large exercise balls to inflict torture on the novice student's core muscles group.

I am glad the classes are small - about 4-6 women - because I am struggling mightily to keep up, and on almost every exercise, the instructor is correcting my form faux-pas. I have become aware I adopted numerous "wrong-form" postures in my earlier years of exercising at home and aerobics classes that enabled me to keep up with the instructor and feel good about my achievement, but either didn't help the muscle groups for which they were intended, or courted injury.

All that said, I can see the yoga practice helping the pilates, and the pilates workout gradually producing more core strength needed to do the yoga poses, and both helping me to regain and hopefully maintain the flexibility I want for quality of life during this latter portion of my life.

So now, the next thing to add to my triathlon training mix is swimming - I believe our close outdoor community pools open up in April....on to the next adventure.