Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 30

Started the day with the Warrior workout. This is a pretty good spin in my opinion. You warm-up, you do some superspinning, and then you do some near-threshold work. Talking about a straight forward workout, it's simple, it's just under an hour and when you're done, you feel pretty good. This was a good way to come back from a rest day, and I had a good sweat working during it.

Then it was time for the strength workout.  Planks w/ Leg Lift (see Dec 24th), right into 20 reps of Woodchoppers, right into 20 reps of Double Crunches. Nothing overly challenging here. The planks were the hardest part, but 4 circuits of this was pretty easy, considering EH was going to be dropping the 100 double hammer on us.


Then I went out and ran 50 minutes, but at a lower intensity. Had a good run.


This was definitely a meat and potatoes day, even though I don't eat meat.







Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 29

Not much to tell today as it was a rest day.

I hate the rest days with a passin, especially rest days that are also days off from work. What a sub-optimal combination...

Today was curl/press combos, lunges, and supermans. Curls are easy. Lunges are not. To take twelve stes in my basement and not just lunge, then back, I have to do a circle around the place, dodging the underfoot kitten the whole time. Then it was on to supermans, which I always find tiring. I have no idea why. I didn't rush through the four sets because it was all the exercise I was getting today.

More than ready to get back at it tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Eric's Strength/Spinervals Day 28 Challenge

Started the day with my strength training. I had the day off, and was a bit unsure how to get going with my workouts because I didn't have the workout I was meant to spin to.

The strength training was box jumps, squat-shoulder presses and V-ups. I hate the box jumps. I just don't have anything to use as a box and I'm sure that every last box jump is going to end in a face-cracking face plant because I use- the stairs. Yes, the stairs in the basement. I know. Sounds harmless. Try it. Try doing a set of box jumps up onto stairs. See if you don't end up thinking your teeth are going to eat step. The shoulder presses and the v-ups were easy, and just as I would get relaxed it was back to the stairs for the face-threatening jumps.

Then I took Ian to school. On the drive home it finally hit me. Since I couldn't do the Ray Lewis Team Fitness (oh, the irony John Hirsch), I would do Muscle Breakdown, one of the oldest Spinervals (4.0). Not only are some of the rest intervals in this meat-grinder short, it's got isometric squats and what is simply the sickest spinerval set ever. Imagine BR 15, 5 minutes, 4 seconds on, 4 seconds off. Yeah. Imagine you do some tempo work (by which I mean 5 2 minute tempo sets with 30 seconds rest).

Now let's do that 4 seconds on, 4 seconds off rep AGAIN, and yes Coach Troy, slip in an extra rep at the end just to make sure the hammer is well and truly applied.

Awesome workout. I loved it.

Then I rested for a couple of hours and went out and ran 7 miles in 45:30. That is a good day for me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Eric's Strength/Spinervals Day 27 Challenge

90 push-ups. 90 sit-ups. There's no way around it. I did this after my ride, and it was f'ing tough. I am not a big man, and I've been losing weight steadily during the challenges, not a lot, but I'm getting leaner, almost ten pounds lighter than the same point last year. Push-ups, well, I kind of suck at pushups, and I'm determined to do them well, and not have my belly hanging down or my ass pointing in the air.

I did six sets of 15 of each, with 15-15 being a set. Maybe that makes me a girlie man, but I was coming off a two hour spin.

On sit-up 89 I went back down and smacked my head on the cement floor. Finally- I'd been waiting for that. Now I've got it out of the way.

The spin was one loop of the IMAZ course, and I'd been looking forward to it because I've done the race (poorly) twice, so that alone is six loops of the course. It started out with about 10 minutes of small ring 15, which was easy, followed by the rest of the ride at an 85-95 cadence.  By rest of the ride I mean like over an hour and a half before a short colldown.

It probably sounds boring, and maybe it is for most people, but I enjoyed the workout. I used the music less track and listened to Evanescence the entire ride and I enjoyed it. And when I was done I was drenched in sweat.

Another good day in the virtual saddle.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Eric's Strength/Spinervals Day 26 Challenge

I had the day off from work so I slept in until around 0625 today. I only was looking at a one hour spin, so it was easy to get that in.

I didn't have the recommended Spinervals 34.0, so instead I fired up 37.0, Suffering Along the Chesapeake. This is a pretty good workout. After the warmup you do some high cadence spinning, then some long intervals (5 minutes) near threshold, then 2 minutes at threshold, the one minute over threshold. This progress is definitely a good one.

My legs were a little tired from lack of sleep but I thought I really nailed today's workout.

I followed it up right away with Eric's strength training, which was lateral stepping squares with front shoulder raises, followed by plank rows and bicycle crunches. 4 sets. I kind of struggled with form on the first exercise and the other two are downright easy now. Still I was breathing hard when I got done.

4 hours later, I was back at it again, running. I did 6.75 in 48 minutes so I felt pretty good about that because I ran hard the whole time, kept the intensity up, and felt good.

Overall, a very good day.

Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Christmas Day

The strength challenge was 80 double crunches and 80 super mans. Easy day, this was Eric's Christmas present to us. I did 80 and 80, all at once, because otherwise I'd have ended up late for company.

I got a mountain bike for Christmas- which is just an awesome gift- thanks Margit- probably the coolest thing I've gotten ever.

I tried sticking some aerobars on it, but neither pair I had available would fit. I then considered whether to stick a pair of too small toe-clips on the bike or pedals. I put real pedals on, even though I though my feet would end up getting cold in the bike shoes. I went with my usual two pairs of socks and got out the door, jamming Evanescence.

The new mountain bike is great- it weighs half what the one I've been racing on does, has a great big wheel-base, that while twitchy, is super.

On the negative side was the pedals. It's amazing how even a decent bike from a totally great bike shop ships from the manufacturer with crappy flat pedals that your parents would use on a bike they rent in Cabo. So I went into the basement, found some pedals and those where what I used.

Note to self: if there's a pair of pedals that has been lying around unused in your basement for three years, there may be a good reason.

I headed out and it seemed like I was doing pretty well. Despite the lack of aeros I was having a good ride. The seat's a little low, but overall everything was going well. Until the pedal fell off.

Well, not the whole pedal. The pedal actually fell apart, with the clip still in my shoe, but the shaft still attached to the crank.

I did what anyone with an iPhone would do. I pulled over, took a pix, and tweeted it. This gave me time to think. I was about 5 minutes from home so obviously not much to think about. I screwed the pedal back together by hand and- kept going. Good thing I had the chance to think about it. I went up some hills and down some others, and going down a big hill at about 25 mph, the pedal came off again. My foot shot out and hit the shaft of the pedal scraping the crap out of my ankle.

I started pedaling with one leg.

Yeah, that was my reaction the second time. Let me put all the one-legged Spinervals drills to good use as I ride to Guilford and back on one leg. It had become a testorone-fueled man vs. bike parts story...

Two or three minutes later I turned around and went home instead, like a normal person, threw the pedals away and put on toe clips. I started out to do a Hammerfest loop and immediately threw the chain. I sorted that with a strategic re-shift,  most of the rest of my ride was safe.

What a blast! At least I have a decent story to tell of my first ride...


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Christmas Eve

Well, Saturday was the workout I was most looking forward to on the whole schedule, the Lake Placid Virtual Reality DVD.

I've done LP five times, and I've ridden the course many more. Two of the absolutely best workouts I had last year was the loop of the course I road on my mountain bike in 90 degree heat, and the loop I rode the next day on my race bike- backwards. I love everything about that course- the race memories, the awesome backdrops, the massive downhills and the climbs.

The DVD doesn't of course capture all of it, you can't smell it, or breath it in, but the workout is very solid and the video certainly is a great reminder of all the places you see on that ride.

The workout also starts out pretty easy. In fact, you spend a LOT of this workout in small ring 15, which might have you thinking you're getting an easy day.

You aren't. The whole point of the video is to try and prepare you for how to ride the course on race day, which is all about backing it down and letting the complexity and difficulties of the course push your effort up, and up and up. You can can either ball on the easier parts of the course and cry on the hard parts, or you can keep the intensity down and ride the course in a solid and productive way. Guess which one sets you up for a good run.

I'll admit that I was flagging a little bit coming back from Hazelton, however, once we got on the last segment the energy game right back and I really felt the final climbs went well.

The workout was like an early Christmas present.

It was on to Eric's strength training after that. The one arm snatches were easy, the lateral squat jumps were not and the plank leg lifts- well let's just say I was glad there were only three sets.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 23

Today's spin was Aero Base Builder VI, a great hour long spin with a series of reps that decrease in gearing and duration and increase in number. You start out with 8 reps if a minute in big ring 15 and progress to 20 reps in big ring 23.

That's my kind of workout. I love spinning hard in big ring 23 and it's more than just that it's easier than grinding out a massive spin in 13. I come from a racing background of big gears and a lot of mashing but instead have learned that by keeping my weight down I can attack the on the bike much more efficiently in 17-19. Turnover comes easy and that's where my watts are, so this workout helps me train myself to what I do.

I really enjoyed the spin.

Then I got off and did 80 pushups and 80 twist sit-ups and those were not so easy. Yes, I'll admit, I did 4 sets of 20 in quick succession and the last set was just plain hard.

Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 22

Today's spin was No Slackers Allowed.

If you are are a real Spinervals veteran, you need no other explanation.

If you aren't, well, imagine the cruelest moments of the spinervals you have done. Increase the reps in each set, and reduce the rest period both within and between the reps. Well, that's No Slackers Allowed. This video (and yes, I only have it on VCR- what's that you ask) is so intense it has a 6 minute cool down, despite being 44 minutes long.

You either do this video at 100 %, dying the whole time, or you waste a workout. Are your muscles screaming ? is the seat running down your face ? Do you wish you were in a coma ? Then you're working hard enough. This workout totally fits my mentality right now. I want to suffer. I want the workouts to hurt like hell. I want to get back to where I was before I lost my edge, before I became weak and complacent as a triathlete.

This workout takes me where I want to be. I wanted to back it off. And I didn't.

Bring it.

When I was doing I did 4 sets of Eric's workout, step ups, punches, and twist sit ups. I used a mirror to track my punches and my kitten made everything else interesting, but when I got done with the weights I felt good.

At lunchtime I smoked my run, 5.75 miles in under 40 minutes, running hard and steady and-

I want to race. I am ready.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Coach Eric/Spinervals Day 21

Ugh. I got to bed late- really late, and then I was up at around 5, drinking coffee and cutting grapefruit before a 2 hour and 10 minute spin. I'd identified this at the start of the challenge as one of the days that was going to be a problem- how was I going to get something this long in before work, and on a night when the Zane's party (bike shop) would make it impossible to cram the workout in later ?

So I got up after sleeping about 4 hours, took a little prep time, and was on the bike at 0520AM.

The workout is a compilation of sets from other aero base builders. It's not perfect. If it were 90 minutes long, I'd never use it, because I have 90 minute spinervals that are one cohesive workout. But this compilation works. In part because it's 2 hours and 10 minutes long, and there are not too many two hour rides in the series, but also because the segments that Coach Troy lifted out of the various Spinervals do have a logical progression. I think the workout actually work.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think you have to like Spinervals to like this workout. This is not a standout like Uphill Grind or the Mount Lemmon climb.

But it was a nice two hours and ten minutes of aerobic spinning.

I skipped adding a lunchtime run in order to shop.

The strength challenge was just that, push-up rows, standing alternate shoulder presses and woodchoppers. The big thing in this workout for me was a) how frakking tired my arms got, and b) how much it reminded me of high school. In high school I chopped wood for 3.00 (US) and hour and man, this workout, which I did after work, brought back some memories.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Coach Eric/Spinervals Day 20

Hard to believe that I have been dong this for 20 days now.

I knew I had a long day ahead of me because I was supposed to do a 90 minute spin, which is right on the edge of what I can reasonably do in the morning timewise. It was also supposed to be one, Spinervals 41.0, which is a climbing session. The recommended substitutes were shorter and required additional sets, so I went with on that was not on the list- the Mount Lemmon climb from the Virtual Reality Tucson ride. This is the hardest 90 minute ride I have and is one of my favourite workouts because it really pushes me.

As usual it did not disappoint. Riding in BR 13 for more than half the workout is a tremendous way to get a sweat working, and then after a 'break' of BR it's 10+ minutes in 12-11. When you get done and Coach Troy heads back down the hill, it's usuall time to relax. Not today.

I went right into EH's strength training. Angled lunges with interior raises, lateral jumps and bicycle crunches. Just three sets, which beat the hell out of yesterday's four sets. I was breathing hard and sweating mre as I did these and while strength is clearly improving it is still not 100%.

At lunch I ran for a litte under 40 minutes really hard and it felt great. More harder runs when I run really seem to be paying off.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Coach Eric/Spinervals Day 19

Well, today's Spinervals was the easiest one so far because it was a rest day. No problem there, except that I'm not a huge fan of days off.

The strength training was not as easy. Squat/shoulder press combinations followed by bench dips, with supermans added in. I did my three sets and came upstairs to post on Facebook that it was done, and saw that it was supposed to be four sets. So I went back downstairs and did one more set.

Looking forward to getting it back on the bike.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coach Eric/Spinervals Day 18

For the second straight Sunday the day started not with anything challenge related, but a run. I was out the door at 0630, well before sunrise, running again to the sound track from BSG re-imaged. If I have a geek side, its probably that. I get more motivation out of that music sometimes than even things like Evanescence, NIN, or Linkin Park.

I had the type of 90 minute run you have when it's in the 20s (F) out. Slow at first, a little careful, but then you start to feel good and you pick it up. I had no nutrition because we are out of everything except electrolyte fizz and I didn't feel like carrying a bottle today. As a rule I don't run without a bottle, I certainly won't race the half in Disney without one, but today it was fine.

I came back and did 70 minutes of spinning, Aero Base Builder I. This is a good workout in that the many sets are 20-15-10-5 minutes, so each one is shorter.

I was not at my most energetic. All I had during that second workout was a cup of coffee and by the end of it, I was really just glad to be done. It's a good workout, but I was actually dipping into my reserves- I'd had a banana and a coffee before my run.

But I wasn't done. No, I had 70 pushups and 70 v-ups to do- yes, I know Eric is priming us for 100, which thankfully don't have to be done all at once. I did a set of 25, and then three of 15, and by 0930 I was done for the day.

Great Sunday of working out...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Spinervals/Coach Eric Challenge Day 17

I got up at around 0530 (on a Saturday!) and started Tough Love, a 3 hour spin, before 0600.

The advantage of this was that I'd be minimizing my son's alone time after my wife started her 3 hour run, but this is a hard workout. It could be that it may set the record for the amount of standing that you do while doing a spinervals. It could be the 30 minute set that comes in the first hour- yes, a 30 minute set. It could be that there is significant time in the big gears.

It could just be that it's a 3 hour workout and at the time it was realised, it was a seriously long spinerval- this was ages before hardcore 100.

I had two bottles of Hammer Fizz, one nutrition bar, some race caps and a cup of coffee. I started to sweat early and continued to sweat often, but the workout when pretty quickly. Before I knew it I was halfway done and then it really started to, yes, bring a little. Of all the workouts I've done so far, this one really did have the most challenges. Between 60 and 20 minutes left I really started to push myself, to get my heartbeat to the very edge of my threshold, but in the end, I finished still feeling really, really good.

The strength challenge was jump lunges, plank rows, and double crunches. I was able to get through these relatively easily, although the jump lunches are always hard for me. I was tired from the spin, and this made the strength training more effective, I think. I was tired, and I had to work hard to get through the three sets. That's how I want to feel when I do the strength gaining- tired but pushing myself.

I really am glad these two challenges came along- loving them.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Coach Eric's Challenge/Spinervals Day 16

Now we are really on the back half of these challenges.

Today was Spinervals Big Gear Strength. This is an hour of just what it says. After warming up in BR 15 you spend the whole workout in BR 13 and BR 12, mostly the later, with the exception of about 3 minutes of lunges. You have to be in the right frame of both mind and body to do this workout. I remember doing it once when physically I was not ready and I was sore for two days.

Of course, it's also the sort of workout you can half ass, but I'm happy to say that I did not in any way half-ass it today. Despite being woken up by a cat walking on my chest before 0600, I got up quickly, was on the bike and knocked this workout down and felt good. I pushed the BR 12 sprints at the end, came upstairs and EH's strength workout came in just as I was sitting down to eat some grapefruit.

Curls-punches followed by side planks. The great thing about the side planks ? My kitten was chewing on my hand during the planks, which took them from hard to nearly impossible, but i still got them done. If there's one thing the strength training is teaching me it's that I need to improve my strength....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Coach Eric's Challenge/Spinervals Day 15

Today was another easier day. I was taking some of my staff out for sushi, so I knew there's be no lunchtime run.

I got up and hopped on the bike for Spinervals 28, one of the aero base builders. It's a great work out, with the gears getting easier as the ride goes on, and the intervals increasing in number and decreasing in duration.

This combination was perfect for me today and I really felt good doing the workout.

Eric's strength truing came in and it was just right. Much less ball-busting that yesterday and a good mix of lower and upper body.

Today would have been a great day for a run, but hey, the people who work for me are awesome and I enjoyed taking them for sushi. Life, and not just working out, is good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Coach Eric's Challenge/Spinervals Day 14

Wow, two weeks. It hardly seems like I'm approaching that point in the challenges, but there it is.

Two weeks. Today's spin was Hillacious. This is a favorite of mine. I love the two climbing DVDs- Uphill Grind and Hillacious. What's nice is that where Uphill Grind is just 45 minutes, Hillacious is over an hour, so for those days where 45 minutes just isn't enough, there's a longer option that gives you the same general flavor.

I slept in until about 5:55, which is late for me, then got up and went right to work on Hillacious. Where the hardest part of yesterday's workout was the first half of an hour this spin builds, starting with 8 minute steady reps in BR 14 that really get you in the mood to do the rest of the workout. By the time we hit the rollers I really felt like I was working hard, and when we got to the last set- the 10-12% grade hill sprints, I was really bearing down on the bike.

I was also watching my RockMelt browser for Eric's strength challenge. When I got into the last 10 minutes of the workout and it wasn't there I was kind of relieved. I figured I do it in the evening.

And then with 5 minutes left there it was.

Sigh.

And then I saw 60 pushups, 60 sit-ups with twists, and I was psyched. Yeah, I know eventually it's going to be 100 push-ups and that will suck but whatever. It was the right challenge for me today, it fit perfect.

I added 40 minutes of running at lunch.

Another great day of training. Loving this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Coach Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 13

I had to get up extra-early today because the spin was long- 85 minutes. I want to try and get every day's spin and strength-training done before I go to work, so there I was, in the basement at 5:35, on the bike, doing Aero Base Builder I.

The spin starts out with 4 times 5 minutes in Big Ring 15, which all things considered, for an aerobic workout is serious work and I was sweating pretty seriously by the time I got passed that. Of course, you're also under an hour left to go when you get past that point, which is pretty huge and I felt like I was really working right at the level I should be, my HR in the 130s and sweating like a bear in a sauna.

The later reps, in easier gears, felt good, although as always big ring 23 felt easier, not harder, than small ring 15.

I hopped right off and did the strength truing, crouching box jumps, plank rows and cycling twists. By the time I was done, I'd burned through an hour and 40 minutes of my morning and I felt good.

I decided that after running very hard two days in a row I should really take a day off from running. Another day of bright sun and 50 temperatures really made me regret that decision, but hopefully we'll get one more day of nice weather that I can push a good run out. I had an itch I couldn't scratch all afternoon, regretting not running. Hopefully that's a good thing....

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coach Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 12

Started the day with the Pain Cave. I definitely went in there, and believe it or not, I was happy about it. I felt like I had a really good workout, and then I came back and did Eric's strength challenge.

Once again, I was tired and sweating when I got done and thought after yesterday I'd skip the run at work, I've felt like this a few times after a hard morning challenge.

Instead I went out and did my 40 minute run in 38 minutes, maxed my heart rate at 161, and overall I really felt great. Another good day on the challenge.

I'm liking this.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Coach Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 11

The 5K is obviously not part of the Spinervals challenge. So I truncated the 90 minute spin down to 60 minutes and did the whole thing in either small ring 15 or big ring 23 while watching the Bears make no credible effort to beat the Broncos.

Then I banged out the strength challenged, ate a veggie burger and drank some beer.

Back at it in the morning!

Christopher Martins 5K

I went into today's race on somewhat heavy legs. Doing the Spinervals challenge has been great for my fitness and while I have been running well during the week I mostly chalked that up to the great weather and in fact when I did run in colder temperatures Friday, I felt sluggish.

Last year I ran a pretty weak 18:43 at this race, on the 'new' course. I also got beat by a dog.

I was not in sync at the end of last year. I'd gained some weight and really, was just kind of relaxed and in my post season. This year I came off the Ironman and really felt like I ran well. It was like I came back to running and it was simple and easy compared to multisport racing.

It was colder this morning than it has been all year and I was really debating whether I was going to run in just my EH singlet and shorts. I ran my warm-up with Margit and then came to the conclusion that yes, I was going to give it a go- hat, gloves, arm warmers, iPod on but the buds tucked behind my ears.

I shepherded Maureen Terwilliger to the starting line after doing my warm-up, starting right in front of Charlie Hornak and next to Bryce Lindamood.

The start off this race is psychotically fast. You're on a four lane road that is wide- crazy wide, and you run basically straight for almost a full mile. A lot happens in that first mile. The pretenders, the contenders, and the tweeners like me all find their appropriate places in this first mile. I knew that I wasn't going to keep up with Greg Pelican, although I was going to try and keep him close, and I knew the guy with the motherfrakking dog was going to be right where I was for the whole damn race.

That guy with the dog.

I got beat by the dog last year.

As we were near the end of the long run out, I settled in, but not the way I often do. I was outside my comfort zone. It's a 5K, I should be outside my comfort zone!

We made the two quick turns and were running the opposite way into the wind and I was losing a little ground on people. The guy with the dog actually passed me so I tucked in behind him to get a break before we turned. We took the next two turns right after that and now we were running away from the starting line but two blocks over (or so) and that's when, in the 2 mile area, I has some doubts about what I'd be able to do. We passed Breuggers and guys were moving back and forth.

I just kept running.

We twisted our way around the course, passing people still going out at less than a mile as we were past two. We humped up a small bridge and I really felt the strength training I've been done, and not in a good way.

Finally, we were back on the main road, headed towards the finish line. I couldn't see the finish. My eyes were tearing a little in the cold, and there were so many people in front of me- that's all I could think, I can't see the damn finish line because I am so far back. But I was just too far away.

Finally, I did see it, just after some 25 year old flashed by me. It was at 17:42 and I was a LONG way from the finish. I so wanted to break 17:59.

I had no one to play off of. I just had to run my ass off. I kept digging. The clock kept ticking.

I gave everything I had. I hit the mat at 17:59 and I was sure that it would tick over the way it always does.

It didn't.

17:59.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Coach Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 10

Today was the latest start I've had since I began the challenge.

I started with 50 sit-ups and push-up for Coach Eric at around 7:30 this morning, Those went well, but I have to admit that I was sweating pretty good for what is a fairly short effort.

Two and half hours later I started Spinervals 31.0, Endurance Booster I actually did this workout last Saturday to, along with another 30 minutes of spinning and a 30 minute run. With the Christopher Martins 5K in the morning, I wanted to keep it easy- not extra spinning a certainly no brick today.

I felt decent during the workout and I had a nice sweat going, and I felt like I had a good workout, however, I don't expect to look back and see this as one of the best days of the challenge.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Coach Eric's Strength/Spinervals Challenge Day 9

It was back to a higher level of intensity today. I slept in a little (all the way to 0545) and then got up and relaxed for twenty minutes before starting today's spin, which was The Sprinting Machine. I love this workout because it's just the right length for the morning- 50 minutes- and it's got a lot of great intensity to it, but without putting a hurt on you. Where you potentially feel Big Gear Strength all day, the Sprinting Machine is more of a 'feel good' workout.

I got into the spin quickly, it went really fast, and I felt good when I got done. But the three sets of plyometric jumps definitely took something out of my legs for Eric's strength challenge. There were three exercises this morning, include squat presses, bench jumps and some ab crossovers. I was definitely sweating when I got done, and the spin and the strength workout was definitely enough for one day.

Still, with more abnormally nice weather on tap- it was sunny and nearly 50- I went out at lunch intending to run 30 minutes. But I felt to good to cut the run short and pushed it to 40, keeping the intensity down.

Another good day on the challenge.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Coach Eric's Strength Challenge/Spinervals Day 8

Today was an optional rest day or we were supposed to do Spinervals 8.0 Technique and Recovery. This was one of the few Spinervals left that we only had on VCR tape. Note that I said had.

I stuck the tape in and it didn't want to play. I kept trying and next thing I knew, I was pulling tangled up VCR tape from the machine. This qualifies as the low moment of the challenge.

So then I just went to the Apple TV, did Spinervals 23.0 workout A, added about 10 minutes, the did Eric's strength challenge. Today was two parter: Single Arm Chest Presses (while prone) and V-Ups. The chest press, which requires you to balance on your head with your body at a 90 degree angle, was a bit difficult to determine how to do at first, but overall, it worked well.

I couldn't run at lunch because I was meeting with our Apple account team.

Tomorrow it's back to harder workouts and I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Spinervals/Coach Eric Challenge Day 7

Another really good day.

The Spinervals was Aero Base Builder II. This is an eighty minute spin, which is kind of a sweet spot workout- long enough that I didn't have to feel guilty about not running in the rain at lunchtime. It's also a good workout, with a nice mix of gears and effort durations. I'll keep it simple. I enjoyed the spin.

Then it was time for the strength training, which was a combination of step-ups, plank rows with weights and ab toe touches. By the time I was done, the whole workout had taken two hours and I was feeling pretty good, but a little tired- just the way I like it.

Sorry today's post is so short, but I just spent 75 minutes getting a server back up at work and it's midnight. Time to get some sleep so I can get back at it tomorrow....

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Coach Eric/Spinervals Challenge Day 6

This was by far the best day of the challenge. I got up early after very little sleep and jumped into Big Gear Strength.

OK, not really. My network had hiccoughed and I needed to reboot my Airport. After that, I jumped right into Big Gear Strength. I was pretty sure that I was not going to have a great workout, but what do you know. I really felt good on the big, grinding the big gears. Even the lunges felt OK, although I reduced the weight on the last set. By the time I finished Big Gear Strength I was sweating pretty heavily, but I wasn't done yet.

I hopped on the internet and got Eric's Strength Challenge for today- Curl/Shoulder Presses and Deep Squat Knee-High Jumps- these weren't easy, but at least I didn't feel shot after doing both a strength workout on the bike and another one when I was done.

The surprise came when I went for my run. The truth is, I didn't want to run at all. It was raining on and off but with it hovering at 60 degrees, I decided to go for it. I started out at a pretty high cadence and was running fast, and I thought that would fade. I was only planning to run half an hour and then bang, once I got going, it really kicked in. I just felt like I was completely dialed in on the run. The 5 hours of sleep and the morning workout were just not factors and I really nailed the run- the weather definitely helped....

So far, so good

Monday, December 05, 2011

Spinervals/Coach Eric's Strength Training Day 5

Today was a nice easy day- Aero base Builder III, a 65 minute zone B workout with 20, 15, 10 and 5 minute reps. It's awesome when the reps get shorter with each on, and when 0645 comes and your main workout is done for the day.

I'd say this spin actually felt better than yesterday, given that my legs were a little tired Sunday. I was really able to get into a zone this morning and the workout was definitely enjoyable, what I expect from an off-season (if I have an off-season) spin.

I hopped off the bike as soon as I was done and started the weight workout-Reverse Lunge w/Anterior Shoulder Range. I tend to think my balance is really good until I do things like this and then, not so sure. I added 44 pushups.

Much later in the day- around 1630, I did a 35 minute run in the gloom- the gathering darkness and the fog. It was foggy all day and during the run was no exception, but it was a good run.

So far so good, liking this challenges and looking forward to more.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Strength Training/Spinervals Day 4

I got up this morning with my big workout planning to be a run, but I was on the bike at 0620, doing Spinervals 28.0, or Aero Base Builder VI. I had a really good spin- ABB VI is just under an hour and it's a lot of short intervals. most of them in (slightly) easier gears.

As soon as the spin was over I did Eric's strength workout- Plank Rows/Ab Toe Crunches, in sequence, 3 X 12 each side. This was also very fast paces, going straight from the Rows to the Crunches with no break. It was over quickly but I really felt this one in my abdomen and I felt it was the best of the exercise sets that we have gotten so far.

Then came the meat of the workout, a 75 minute run. To save time I played to run to Pinchbeck's Tree Farm in Guilford and meet up with the family. Just as I got to Pinchbeck's though I got a text saying the family hadn't left yet, so I talked on 18 more minutes. It was a good solid run with the flats at a heart rate of 133, the hills at 142, and downhills in the 120s, all of it very steady.

Great weekend of workouts- 3 hours on Saturday and two and a half today.

Then I cut down our cristmas tree.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Day Three of The Coach Eric Strength and Spinervals 31 day Challenges

Being Saturday and knowing how this close to the holiday it is, I started spinning at 0610. I needed to get in 2:20, so I opened with Spinervals 23.0, workout B, but I approached the 90 second anaerobic intervals aerobically instead. So I was good and warmed up for Spinervals 31.0, Muscle Booster.

This is a surprisingly tough workout, because there are a large number of efforts in the big ring 13. By the middle of this hour and 45 minute workout my hamstrings were reminding me I'd slept just 5 short hours before being woken up by the cat and starting my day, and in the middle of the workouts I was flagging a little, still getting the work done but feeling a bit spent.

The last set in the workout is 15 minutes split between big ring 15 and 17 and that was just what I needed. I finished the workout feeling really well and then slipped on my running shoes and immediately ran a solid 30 minutes, at a heart rate between 127-133 the entire time, great zone B work, whatever that's worth.

I came back and immediately did Eric's strength routine for the day, 3 x 12 of what I'd call squat-ups- starting in a squatting position with barbells shoulder height, stand up and thrust the barbells over head. By the tenth repetition in each set I could feel it in my pectorals, a great reminder that my strength is NOt adequate. I love the strength challenge because it's such a perfect example for me of what I do not do well as an athlete- thanks Eric.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Day Two Of Coach Eric's Strength and the Spinervals Challenges

Yes, I'm actually doing two challenges at once. Eric Hodska's strength challenge and the Spinervals 31 days challenge. Today was an easy day, well, relatively speaking.

I got up at 0545 and realised that I didn't have time to do the spin, so I did a 5 minute warmup on the trainer, the Eric's workout. I did three sets of double crunches, the easy part, and then attacked the 40 push ups, so I started off easy, doing 11. Then I did 14, then I did 15 more. Nothing to be proud of, but it is Day 2. I'm sure I could have gutted out at least 30 in a row, but half of them would have been lousy, so what's the point of that ? I wanted to do 40 good push ups.

If it had not been for the New Haven Road Race Board meeting, I might have squeezed the 80-90 minutes in, but I wanted to make sure I made the meeting and got myself on the committee considering altering the race's course.

The spin came after I got home from work. I actually packed up my bike and trainer and took it to work, but that was never going to happen. I started Aero Base Builder 16.0 after putting my race bike  (with training wheel) on the trainer and for an evening workout (not my favorite) it was a nice change of pace. I  enjoyed what is a pretty straightforward workout, got on a good sweat and feel ready for day 3 of both challenges.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Day One of the Spinervals Challenge

Day one of the Spinervals challenge in done and I thought I'd write a little post each day to track what I'm doing.

Today the big challenge was the stress test/time trial. I'm not particularly good with the stress test on a trainer. I actually think I train on the trainer very effectively, however, I have trouble spiking my heart rate. The truth is, it's the same on the road. I actually time trial solo a lot, almost once a week from June through October. And I think I ride fairly fast, but for whatever reason, my heart rate doesn't get that high.

So when I started out and was only trending in the 140s, I didn't feel like I was dogging the test. I was sweating up a storm, breathing heavy, just not spiking my heart rate. I felt like it took forever to get into the 150s, and when I got to the last minute I jammed it into the hardest gear and got a max out at 171.

What amazed me about the workout was how absolutely great I felt when I got done- felt great all day.

Maybe I should do that more often...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Trot Double

I just happen to live in a place where I'm allowed the opportunity to run two races on Thanksgiving morning. The first one is a 5K run on roads that I run and ride on all the time, the second is a 5 miler in the same park as Brian's Beachside Boogie.

I look forward to this all year. I'm not sure why except that it's the sort of unique experience that you just have to take. I've also done well at both races each of the times I've done it, so why not go for it ?

Well, it is getting harder. The 5k in Branford started at 0830 one year, I think, then got moved to 0900, and this year they tacked a kids race on at 0900 so the start time for the 5K was supposed to be 0910. Now many races start late, and with kids, you never exactly know what will happen. On the plus side, the Branford race is run by JB, and JB usually starts everything on time. However, of all his races, this one is the only one I've ever seen with major timing issues, and if a timer isn't ready, that's all she wrote.

Margit and I both ran with Ian and maybe the highlight of the day was Ian pounding out half a mile in like 4:56. He's starting to get it....

I helped clear away the cones and buckets at the starting line (also the kids finish line) and @cvelardi started the race.

The 5K
As soon as I heard go, I started running. And I mean running. As hard as I could, not only did I get the exact line I wanted out of the driveway of the middle school and onto Damascus, there was no one around me. I had my headphones still in and all I could hear was the music and the sound of my own feet. There was a car in front of me, but I wasn't actually looking at it. I was just running. There was nothing going on inside my head. We got to the second turn and that point, probably more than half a mile into the race, where it dawned on me that a) what the hell was I doing and b) where the hell was everyone else.

A few seconds later, I was swarmed by a pack of high school and college kids. I tried to stay with them. Sort of. I mostly tried to maintain as much speed as possible. This was my first race since the Ironman and I was feeling good, but I was also slipping right into the pain cave.

Then JT went by me. Damn it. JT is still a great runner.

I just kept running, hoping no one else could slip by me. The turn-around was out there somewhere. The hard part of the race was after the cone- it's a straight out and back. I was watching the backs of the guys in front of me and the people streaming down towards the cone. I felt like some of those people might have enough of a kick, but except for the guy I was battling directly with- a 30 something guy that hadn't been able to hang onto JT. After the cone it was a gentle sloping uphill and I was really suffering, and I was pretty sure after that hard start, I was going to blow up.

But I didn't. JT slowly pulled away, and the 30 something just was able to gap me as we headed back to Damascus, but no one else closed in and as I made it around the bend back, I felt like I was running well. I even thought I might have a shot at breaking 18:00, and I did. I was running hard, but at the same time I was settled.

Maybe too settled. I turned the corer into the school and the clock was right around 17:50.

So close. I ended up running an 18:04. Grrr. So close.

I was 8th overall, and won my age group.

Transition
I tossed my chip to a volunteer, went over to my backpack, which I left by the finish line, slung it onto my back and started jogging to y car.

I was worried. I thought if it were later than 9:35, I would not have time to make it. I was whipped, absolutely spent. I got in the car and it was 9:35.

On 95, I did my best to relax. This is because I was basically shelled from the effort of the 5K, and because there was moderate traffic. At first I was making good time, but as soon as I got off the highway there was a mile long backup. What had seemed like plenty of time to get everything done was suddenly nowhere near enough time to get parked, get to the start, and oh, I had to go to the bathroom.

Of course, everyone was headed to the race, so it wasn't really that bad. The road we were driving in on, was also the road the race was on. Got parked.

Jogged to the line.

Settled in with the elite runners, Jessie, the college kids, and so on. Granted, I'm not that fast anymore, but I'm close enough. And then, two minutes after I got to the line, just before the anthem, Maureen got there, so there were two of us doing the double.

The 5 Miler
I don't think I've ever felt like I was in a swim start at a road race, not even New Haven, until Madison Thursday.  I was running in a mix of 50 or so people, moving up past some and getting passed but others. We made the first left-hand turn and it was still tight as hell, just a ton of people. This was the perfect thing for me really because I couldn't think about how tired I was from the other race, I was really fighting it out, and trying my best to stay both in a rhythm and not let anyone get away. I went through the first mile just under 6.

There was some wind out there because there is always wind in Hammonassett. We ran back towards the start and I hit the two mile mark still under 6  minutes a mile. The very top guys were so fast I didn't see them going out as I was going in. I saw Jesse and thought he was top six or seven and was running in the 10th-11th spot. We made the turn and headed back out and now I felt like the race was settling into a rhythm and for the first time I could kind of see and end coming to the race. I was running a steady pace and we were headed out to Meigs Point- once we rounded the turn I'd be in the home stretch.

The tide was in- way in and covering the road. Everyone else ran around the water, which was ankle deep or shallower. I went right through it, because that's how you save time. I hit three miles still under 6 minutes per mile and I was pretty sure I was going to break 30. Was I going to break 30 ? After running an 18:04 I desperately wanted to. But I was back and forth with 3-4 guys. Once we turned the point the wind came on and the running got tougher.

It seemed like everyone was settled in now. We heeded back towards the rotary and we all had our places, just running hard- I passed the four mile mark and I was still sure I'd break 30 by a few seconds. People were streaming out the other direction, at less than 3 miles when we were well past four- and that's with me being beaten by the race winners by 5 minutes, which is a- wow, some fast people. There was only one woman ahead of me, and none pressing.

The last mile was slow. I was running at the same speed as the guys around me, running pretty well, but 30 minutes was getting away and I didn't know it. People were yelling and screaming as we came in and I was still kind of fighting to catch the guy in front of me and hold off the guy behind me. We hit the two mile mark and there was less than 15 seconds to break 30 minutes and I didn't make it. BUt I beat a guy on the line by a few tenths of a second.

I also won my age group by 1:02, running a 30:05.

Overall Impressions
You get what you pay for. I thought I ran the 5K all out and failed to break 18. Would I have broken 30 just running Madison ? I think so.

I have nothing to complain about though. I won my age group at two races- beating 135 others at Madison, 77 at Branford. 3700 other people ran one race or the other slower than I did.

But that's not what is it about, not at all.

I had fun. That's what it is really about.

I had a blast.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ironman Florida Run

I could just write: 'I didn't get it done on the run.'

Yeah, that would do it. It's true. I was unable to run the entire run- I stopped once to take a dump (which didn't happen). I walked mile 20-21 and maybe another half-mile to mile of the course.

I fought the wind too hard on the bike. It's clear and obvious to me now, looking back. It's the one unforgivable mistake of the Ironman athlete. I came out of the swim energized. I came off the bike frustrated. And yet, I think that there was nothing inevitable about my run being bad. I think I could have overcome the way I fought on the bike, but I fell into a trap on the run that I will not fall into again.

It started out well. I put a garmin on and my first mile on the run was in the 7s. So was the second. And this is where I made the mistake that ultimately cost me a good race. I started backing off. I told myself it was too fast, I can't run 7s. If I run 7s I'll blow up.

I passed on of the chronic drafters (my next blog post will be an email exchange, edited to protect the guilty, I had with this athlete). As I went by I looked at their number, with the slash in it, and said 'Oh, you took a penalty. That's a surprise.' Yes, I can be kind of a dick sometimes, because I am competitive.

So after two miles I started to back off, pushing myself to run 8s, then 8:15s. This probably seems like a smart idea, like the right thing to do, but here's the question: was I really beat and unable to run 7:45s, or did I talk myself into thinking that would be suicidal.

Well, I have no question that it's the later. I firmly believe that I talked myself out of having a good run by panicking at how fast I started. Logic told me I should runs 8s or slower. But here's the thing, the slower I ran, the worse I felt, and once I got out of my rhythm, I felt like, well, I felt like shit. Felt like I was blowing up. And I did, in fact blow up.

It's taken me about two weeks to understand what really happened. Since the Ironman, there are only two days I didn't run- the next day, and today, because in the morning I have two races.

I was out in the park, coming back on the loop, and ran with a pro for a while. Ran with him. Not got crushed by him, not saw him briefly, we ran and talked for maybe half a mile. And yet, within a mile of that I was struggling, ducking into a port-let to crap when I didn't need to crap. Once I forced myself to slow down, I was never right again. I made the first loop in OK time.

I headed back out and when I got to Margit and Ian I didn't panic, I didn't get upset, but I stopped to talk to them. I never stop to talk to people, but I had a 'coach, take me out for a play, moment, which I can't stand. Then I went back to running. I'm not going to blow-by-blow that second loop. Why should I ? It was a bad loop.

I will say this. I struggled, but I ran the last four miles solidly, and I caught five people in the last mile. I finished hard to the line and I never lost track of the 11 hour mark and what I needed to avoid having an unacceptably slow Ironman.

I wasted a chance in Florida to have a really good race, but at least now I understand exactly what went wrong. All this time I've been thinking slow it down, go easier. That's wrong.

What I have to do in Louisville next August is let myself go. Let my natural rhythm control the run. I was strong enough, I was focused. If my body says 7:40, then I'm going to let it have 7:40. I'm going to shut my brain off and let my body do the talking, and that way, there'll be no walking...


Friday, November 18, 2011

Ironman Florida Bike

So, I headed out along what I think is Route 98, or Old Route 98. Whatever. I hadn't done the race in 3 years, but having done it twice, so I figured I knew the bike course pretty well.

It was a little windy, but not bad, and to be honest I felt the drafting on this stretch wasn't bad. I was passing people, and there were clumps, but everyone was going at their own speed and it was mostly just congestion and not organized groups. Before I knew it I was going out past the new open-air mall, including zipping by Margaritaville, where we'd had lunch the day before.

The thing I noticed that I thought was odd was the number of non-combantants, some of them old people, who were 'on' the bike course. I mean, I know people have to get from point a to point b, but um, sometimes timing is everything and I'd hate to see someone's Ironman dreams end when they crash into some retiree on a cruiser.

There were definitely crowds out watching us and it was pretty cool, because unlike some courses, the one loop IM Florida course is not spectator-packed. Which is fine with me. I'm not out there to wave to the crowd, I'm out there to race.

Once we got off the shore and were heading north it was obvious that the wind was going to be a factor all day.

I was out there in just a cycling jersey, bike shorts and bike shoes with no socks. People were wearing jackets, booties, arm warmers, and so on. I could see the arm warmers, but seriously, booties ?

I felt like the first ten miles of the race was really clean as far as the drafting, and then I started to come up on packs. At first it was no big, because I was still passing people, although I was starting to feel like I was working hard into the wind. I was also forcing myself to drink heed, and by the twenty mile mark I I'd drained one of the three bottles I was carrying, getting in a lot of fluids and hopefully energy. I was also taking shots of vanilla EFS.

Because I was on Margit's race wheels, I had no computer. I remember seeing the 20 mile mark, peeing on the bike, and between that and the thirty mile mark the drafting got serious. It was somewhere in here that I first lost my patience, sitting up and throwing my arms up as people went by in a clump. I get grief from drafters sometimes, lighten up, it's just a race, hop on....

I do chirp back but I hold it in check and what the people giving me a hard time don't understand is that throwing up my hands and muttering sarcastic comments is not what I want to be doing. I'm not going to even say what I'd like to do, but it doesn't involving talking.

I will say that I only remember attacking a pack after it passed me once. I settled in and got my 5 bike lengths and then I went after it. I buzzed everyone as I went by, staying in as tight to the pack as I could. I'll be honest. I don't understand how, when you are in the middle of a pack, you go by a guy who throws up his hands, exhorting you not to cheat, and you go ahead and do it anyway. In that vein, I'll share an email exchange about that I had with another athlete at the race. I'd never met this person, but I was intrigued as to how they could ride basically 100 miles sucking someone's wheel. They answered me, and I think some excerpts from it will make a great blog post. Another time. That's all I'll say about the drafting.

With no computer, and using only the time of day, I actually got a bit confused. The wind was brutal for from miles 10-50 and it was after I thought I'd missed the 50 mile mark that I rode by the forty mile. That was soul crushing. It was such a slow ride and that continued until around 50 miles. The out and back that used to be in the 70-80 range is now in that 50s range.

On the out and back, my bike's front wheel, or so I thought, went from making some small vibration noises, to a lot of noises. A LOT of noise. I knew right away what it was- broken spoken. The out and back was unbelievably rough, and I was milking the bike now. Broken spoke ? And on the rough road, the noise started getting louder, to the point where I was sure I had two broken spokes. I started having visions of me blowing up the front wheel and ending up in ditch, and I was mostly thinking 'Can I possibly finish with a bum wheel.' Then at the aid station I took a bottle of water, poured it over my head, and in the resulting clarity, though to reach down to my up tube. I put my hand around the cables, and sure enough, there were no broken spokes. I'd had some adjustments done, and the cables had loosened up slightly after the bike sat outside all night.

I started riding harder again, exiting the out and back.

A guy went by me as we turned out of the wind and said 'Did we just get a tail wind?'

Indeed we did. It lasted all of maybe five miles.

At sixty miles I peed again. I could tell I was not drinking as much heed as maybe I should be. I was doing well with the EFS.

The bottom line on the bike is I never got into a great rhythm. I was down on the aerobats, in a good position on the bike, but I was putting a lot of grief into my legs, riding alone into the wind and the occasional crosswinds. The packs would get broken up in the turns and twists and hills, then re-form. I continued to ride trying to go at about 90%, nothing dramatic, and keep eating and drinking.

The highlight of the bike ride was getting a thumbs up from an official.

I saw Margit and Ian on the bridge and climbed the bridge solidly. I peed just before 100 miles a third and final time.

The big surprise was waiting for when we finally got onto the oceanside drive that takes you back to the transition.

I though the wind going back towards Tempe Town Lake in Arizona in April was the worst I'd ever raced in, however, this was worse, and it's maybe 10 miles back into town. This was some of the slowest riding I have ever done in a race and I was passing people. I was going slow enough that one car pulled up aside me and the people inside started trying to chat with me...

It was the most brutal part of the ride, and all I can say is I was- as often is the case- terribly glad to get off the bike. When I got into transition I initially couldn't find anyone to take my bike right away. I picked the shoes I knew I could run barefoot in, and I was off....

(next: the run)


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ironman Florida Pre-Race and Swim

The nice thing about doing an Ironman repeatedly- and this was my third time in Florida- is knowing where to stay and what to do.

We were on the run course, barely half a mile from the start, so I was able to leave the condo at 530 and walk down to the start, wearing the pair of sneakers I would ultimately run in and socks I planned to run in (oops). I got body marked and went right into the transition area and got in line for the port-potties. I was listening to Evanescence and was getting either too amped up or two wrapped up in the enormity of it all, so I finally switched to Boston.

I only have one complaint about the 2011 Ironman Florida- not enough port-potties. I got into the port-pottie line after dropping some things of in my race bags, and then waited half an hour to go to the bathroom. When I finally did get into the port-let, I changed from bibs to standard tri-shorts.

There clearly has been a theft issue at the Ironman, and my guess is what has been stolen are iPhones. Security during bike check-in and race morning was extremely tight, and one effect was that it was very hard to get out of transition. They were not allowing us to leave with our morning clothes bag to hand them off to family or friends, and the only exit out of transition was a one-person wide opening in the fence guarded on each side by staff.

The result was a massive backup of stressed-out Ironpeople.

It didn't bother me, but I still ended to try and catch Margit and Ian before I entered the water and I had wanted to get in the water by 630. After the very rough water Thursday and Friday- Thursday's swim was a complete and stressful failure, and Friday was only slightly better. I was actually resigned to the swim on the way down and not that nervous about the race. And then I got there and the water was really rough. The swim on Thursday was a complete failure and the Friday swim was only marginally better and I had a few panicky moments on Friday where I had to fight the urge to get all wigged out about racing.

I got a good warmup in though, noted that the water was cold only very close to shore, and began moving around to find a place to start. Initially I moved far to the right but then determined that I should start right at the edge of what was meant to be the start corral, where the fence moved very close to the shore and therefore I would have fewer people behind me.

When the cannon went off- if you've never done the Ironman they start the swim with a cannon, which is epic the first few times- people started walking out. I started swimming as soon as I could. I had a pretty good line to the first buoy and it wasn't too bad. The opening stanza of the swim is always rough when you're someone like me that can't get clear and has to fight for water. But with lots of people inside the buoy line and lots of people outside it wasn't too bad.

Until I got to the buoy that is. Everyone seemed to actually want to go around the outside of the buoy or swim as close to it as humanly possible. Because I had a good line to the buoy that meant everyone came into towards me.

Grrr. This reoccurring theme was the most aggravating part of the swim. The first time we got to the turn buoy, a number of us actually had to tell people to relax and calm down. There were people- big people- kicking like mad at the turn and that is so not cool.

My other pet peeve on the swim was people who can't sight and swim at the same time. Look people, just tuck your head up, get a quick look, and get back to work. The water in the gulf at PCB is so damn crystal it's a little sick. You can actually watch other people swimming. You do not, in this water, need to stop swimming, 'sit-up' and look around like a freaking tourist.

The course was never clear, there were always people around you, so one rube stopping could easily create a traffic jam. Which it did.

I have never suffered so much contact in a swim. I was kicked in both eyes and the jaw, but I was able to shake off all three.

I think I swam the 1st loop, which is shorter, in 36 minutes. People were walking on the beach while I was trying to run and this too would be a recurring theme. I started to shout 'make a hole, make a hole' and 'y'all gotta keep moving'.

Unlike every other time I've done Florida or Lake Placid, I did not feel like shit getting back in the water, I just wanted to swim.

The compression effect at the buoys continued, providing for plenty of contact, but I really felt I dealt with it well until we got to the red turn buoy and one very large gentleman in front of me sat up and started kicking like a mule. After taking a couple of kicks I yelled 'Jesus, stop your ----ing kicking.' This is the longest speech I've ever delivered while swimming.

I actually really like the swim course. Probably because the water isn't black, the course is so open and easy to see that it makes it feel much shorter than Lake Placid. That salt water doesn't hurt either.

I got in finally- the last quarter of the swim always seems to take forever- and up on the beach. I missed the clock and then I was running up the walk, past the people who were flopping down to get there wetsuits off. There were a lot of us, and most of them were walking, and again I was yelling at them, not mean, but trying to take a commanding tone, make a hole or get moving. I picked my way past as many as I could and quickly got to transition and found my bag. I ignored the volunteers directing me to head to the transition building and ran back the way I came. There was a lot of empty tarmac and no one whose way I was in. I changed, dropped my bag and tried to head for my bike but was told I HAD to go through the transition building even though my bike was about 30 meters away.

The transition building was, as you'd expect, a clusterfrak. It took me about 90 seconds to get in, pick my way around people, wearing my bike shoes and helmet, and get out the back side.

I grabbed my bike and started running, again picking my way around people that were walking. Once out of transition I continued running, passed everyone else who had mounting, running faster than people on their bicycles, then I mounted and I was out on the bike course.

That'll will be part two...

Friday, November 04, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tapering

I'm not a huge fan of tapering, all things considered. I understand it, but I don't like it.

I was supposed to ride 3 hours today and run another. I suspect this was as much to keep me busy as anything, given that one of my few abilities is a freakish ability to recover from workouts and races. It didn't happen, as William Shatner (have you heard the new album ? I have) say. Due to Margit being at the tail end of one job (and about to start another), my son's soccer game, a hair cut, and my bike being shipped to Florida on an 18-wheeler, I wasn't even close to this.

Did I mention the utterly freak snowstorm ? If you are anywhere on that northeast corridor I'm sure I don't have to.

The bottom line is I only spun for 2 hours and 20 minutes and got in a zero minute run. No brick for me today.

And you know what ? It absolutely doesn't matter. It will have no effect on my race a week from today and in the end, while I might remember having largely missed my workout, I'll probably forget.

I am tapered and I am ready to race. That's what's important.

So in the morning I'll get up, run for about 100 minutes, and rest for a week.And that's OK.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On the Wheel of a Professional Cyclist (October 15th)

So I had a choice. Ride 100 miles again- for the third week in a row- get my ride started at 9 and be done at 1, and do the training that had been assigned, or go on a group ride with a guy that rides in the Tour De France.

For a lot of people this might be a no brainier. You go and meet the pro, you have an experience. For me though, I wanted to have the best workout to get me ready for Florida, especially after the stink bomb I'd laid out the week before, when it took me almost 5:15 to ride 100 miles. I really had my confidence shaken by this craptastic of a ride, nutrition product fail or no nutrition product fail. There was a string urge to go my own way, even though the ride would ultimately take me right by where the charity ride was, even though I could meet my wife in the parking lot before the race to hand off my son, because it's also where she swims.

I decide late Friday that what the hell, I would go. I mean, I am a firm believer that no one workout makes or breaks a race, and this was a chance to share the road with a Tour rider, I had friends that were going to the ride and for some logistical reasons I won't get into, it actually kind of made more sense to start my ride in East Lyme than at home. I wasn't going to meet the pro though, I was just going to support the ride. And get a good workout in. The CT Cycling Centre guys had sent out an email indicating they'd be doing another 50 miles to get the ride up to a century, which was what I needed, so I showed up early, registered, and then ran half an hour on the track, which was right behind the registration. So I was making it a reverse brick instead of brick, but I was still going to get my miles in at least.

The ride started a little bit late after Tom and his family arrived in the limo. He gave a short but heartfelt speech about growing up in East Lyme, and then we started the ride. It was over a hundred people as far as I could tell, probably more, and it's the first time that I've been involved in what you could call a mass start. We managed to get out of the parking lot and out on the ride, and I'll say this. For the first 15-20 minutes, it was pretty stressful. There were a lot of people, and we were staying together in a group, so it was pretty slow, and a little erratic. I hadn't ridden together with anyone in weeks, and here I was in a mass of people going 20, then going 10, then going 30, then going 15. I mean, I ride with people, but my idea of a big ride if 15-20 people, not a hundred.

But I figured it out after a bit, that I needed to be on the yellow line, as far to the outside as I could get, and until I forgot this, things got a lot better. There were still the occasional sketchy moments, but I was riding behind Greg Comen and another CT Cycle Center/Zanes guy. When they moved up, I moved up. Pretty soon the ride had actually separated, and there were maybe 30-40 of us left, still a 'big' group for me but a lot less than earlier.

I was really impressed with Tom Danielson. He was riding back and forth in the group talking to everyone who wanted to grab a chat and it was interesting stuff, traveling and racing and so on. Really making an effort to engage people. Greg and some of the other guys I knew were talking to him so I rode right behind him, trying to keep a little bubble. Which was ironic, because in a short while, I would come as close as anyone in the ride to causing him some stress- at least as far as I know. Oh yeah, every ride has a story...

So I got comfortable on the ride and of course, this was a mistake. The ride wasn't hilly, but there were some hills, and on one of them I got forced to the inside, our let myself get trapped on the inside. I should never be on the inside when climbing because as people start to slow down, I usually go around them. The guy in front of me was going 12 mph. Then he was going 7 mph. Just like that. I moved to his right, overlapping his wheel but well wide of it, and with the plan of riding off into the woods if that was what it took- at least no one else would get hurt. Since this is something I'm not used to I then made a mistake. Instead of jumping on my gears and getting a nice hard gear to slow my turnover, I tapped my breaks. Immediately I had to clip out. I got my left foot down caught my balance and started right up again. No big deal, except of course that Tom Danielson was right behind me when it happened.

Embarrassed. Tom said 'Whoa, it's getting crazy now,' but his voice was upbeat, not aggravated and that really helped. I mean, it was my fault and it wasn't. The guy in front of me died, but hey, I needed to be ready for it....

At one point of our guys ride up to me and jokingly said 'Tom asked if you'd stay in the back'...

So of course you kind of spend a while after that just trying to forget you did something stupid. Nobody got hurt, I wasn't riding like an asshole. Still, it was a little hard to just relax.

But hey, we got close to the end of the ride, and we were riding near Route 1, which is exactly where I'd been doing my training. We were still on a side road and a pace line formed. There were about 12 guys in the line, but right away, guys started popping off the back. And after my earlier shortcomings I did not want to start hopping the the queue and cutting people off. But these guys weren't getting back on so I started moving up, settling in, pulling people behind me as I went. We settled into about eight people, with Tom on the front and a guy from Keltic named Gerard (?) behind him. Tom would pop out every so often, clearly not expending himself too dearly, seeing who was along for the ride..

Then he and Gerard went. I was waiting for someone else to go and the gap was getting bigger, and no one was going. So I pulled out of the line, and hopped the gap. A couple of guys urged me on as I went, which I though was kind of funny, I mean this was a charity ride, but hey, whatever, I needed it. It was hard work getting across the gap, but I did get there. At some point Gerard dropped and there I was, on Tom Danielson's wheel. What the hell ?

Then someone went by us. Now this is breaking the primal rule. I learned this riding with Eric. If you are riding with someone that can drop you at will, and they want to be in front, then you don't pass them. It's simple logic. Anyway, this guy passed, and then pretty soon he too was gone. I was not. There I was, sucking Tom Danielson's wheel, riding pretty damn hard. He was probably going 80%, I was going 95%.

One more guy joined the mix, and Tom dropped back to see who else was coming, but there wasn't anyone else. I was still second wheel, but with Tom behind me. And then I looked down and saw a front wheel on my right, on road I'd never have ridden on, and I felt a very gentle hand on my hip. Tom Danielson wanted to get by. He didn't push, he was just saying 'Hey, I'm here'. I gave him some room and he moved in front and then that's when the race was on. I looked down and I was hammering away at 37mph- and I was out of contact of both Tom and the guy that was second wheel, who had also been dropped. I was still hammering, but it was over. He looked back to make sure we were still there, and turned into the school. I was expecting the rest of the ride to ride me down then, but that didn't happen, we'd made our getaway and the little charity ride had turned out to give me two great stories.

I have to give big props to Tom Danielson again, because he stayed and gave individual pictures with each and every person that wanted one. (see mine below). I was really, really impressed with how much of himself he put into the event.

I went back out, added another twenty miles, then ran a 6:30 mile on the track, packed it up, and went home, workout completed, and yeah, I had a hell of a lot of fun too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Branford Shores Fall Classic

I'd last raced two weeks ago, and with Ironman Florida three weeks away, a road race hardly seemed like the right thing to be doing.

The lead-in didn't exactly help, either. I'd swum 3K yards on Friday (a marathon swim for me) and time-trialed the Hammerfest course after, then spent part of my Saturday chasing a TDF pro on a sprint (more on that in a later post).

My Sunday workout called for 2:15-2:30 of running, and as I traded emails with @poycc I was trying to figure out how to make that work with a 4 mile road race on basically the same course as the Hammerfest. I mean, how do you pass up a race you can run to on roads you train year round on ? Well, by staying focused on your main goal, but one of my weaknesses has always been thinking I can train for one thing and still race whatever distances and disciplines I want.

So I came up with a plan. The race was starting at 10AM so if I started running at 8AM, I could meet Michael at his condo at 8:45, we could run over to the race and sign up and then continue running. By the time I got over there and signed up I had a little over an hour under my belt. I registered quickly, then I went out and ran entire course. It was windy- really windy, and running the course really helped to give me an idea how to attack it in a race.

I got back and because I wanted to have 1:40 in the bag before the race started I did another 10 minutes on the Branford Road Race course. The I went and talked to John Courtmanche, JB, and Michael. While doing that I realised that Bart Wasiolek was there. Any chance of a win was gone, because Bart had also brought one of his Quinnipiac runners with him. And the guy that I had beat by five seconds at the last race was there as well.

Well, I was not expecting to win anyway. After having run an hour and forty minutes, with my calves sore from the ride the day before and my achilles tender, I was going to be lucky to hold my own.

We started out, running downhill, and I quickly settled into a lead group of 5 people, Bart and his college runner, the guy from the other race, a teenager and myself. I was in the middle, running hard as we took the right into Indian Neck and as part tried to open it up, I followed him in the college guy, hoping to make it a three man race. I couldn't believe how fast I was running, totally out of the box at the start.

We went through a mile at an almost sick 5:41. I mean 5:41 is pretty slow, but not when it's a 5:41 mile within a two and a half hour run. I was running as hard as I could, but I still fell into fifth place as we ran along the water. I was unable to hold off the other two guys and Bart and the college kid ran away. As we turned onto Bayberry I was locked in fifth, bout I felt like if I picked it up I could move up into third as we took the first turn and then headed up the short hill.

And I did. The five man race became two two man races, two runs off the front and the teenager and I fighting it out on the back of the course. I was convinced a shirtless JB was going to blast by me at some point, but it never did happen. Instead, at each hill, I would open a small gap on the teenager, who was tall and lean, kind of the anti-me. Then his long stride would close me down.

At around 3 miles we got back to Pawson. I was running up the hill and pulling away, but with a mile left to go I didn't want to blow myself up. So I moderated my effort, which may have been a mistake. I got very little separation and as we broke back onto the main road, I ended up behind. I would spend the rest of the race there, locked in fourth place. I tried and failed to gain ground.

Finally I could see the finish line and my goal was simple. Break 24:00. For some reason though, a flag maybe, the clock was obscured. So I ran my ass off and what do you know ?

23:59. Sub-6.

That felt good.

No, it felt great. I ran home, got my bike and road back to Lenny's and as they called my name I walked in, took my trophy, and rode home.

I ran 2:35 total. So I accomplished everything I wanted, and more....

Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Not Get in a Bike Accident

My long ride last Sunday had plenty of adventures and while the overall ride was a sort of disaster in slow-motion (time-wise- 100 miles in an anemic 5 hours 13 minutes), it had one shining moment. It came when I didn't smash into a car.

I was about an hour into my ride, feeling really good. I was headed up Route one at about 23mph. A blue Honda went by me, going barely faster than me, a line of cars behind him. He appeared to be looking for somewhere to turn, but I had the feeling, since he had no signal on and with the way he was kerning the car, that he wanted something on the other side of the rode.

I was wrong.

When we got the entrance of the Mobil station, he turned right. No signal, no warning, no breaking, just that old man 'I'm going here' turn.

At first, I ran through the 'how do I avoid hitting this car' protocol. I had maybe 2.5-3 seconds before impact, and what a long amount of time that is when you have to start calculating.

Instinctively, I hit the breaks, and because I had my race wheels on, I immediately started to fishtail.

Bad, meet worse.

The fishtail, uncorrected, would lead to a crash. So I admitted to myself that there was no way- none- that I could veer right with enough speed to avoid getting hit and therefore I should hit the car instead.

The clarity that came- the relaxation- when I admitted that yes, I was going to be in an accident and it was up to me to have that accident on my terms, allowed me to focus.

I let go of the breaks, and the straightened out of the fishtail. Step one, that crash was off the books. I was still going to hit the car...

Or was I. I'd ruled out squirting around the car on the left because of the traffic- that line of cars- but the fishtail had me pointed a bit left. I looked down and I was still going 20 mph, so I went.

I didn't think, just went. Missed the back bumper by a good 6 inches.

I turned to give the guy the finger and a mouthful of frakitutudes and he was oblivious, smoking a cigarette and looking straight ahead. No idea he'd almost ended my ride 4 hours early, wrecked my bike or run the risk of me putting a few K of dings in his car.

I fought the urge to go back. I had another 80 miles to ride.

And that was the important thing. Accepting that there was no way I was never going to get to the end of my ride is what ultimately allowed me to do just that.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

On Long Rides and Long Runs

Last week I rode 100.0 miles in 4:59:30. On my training wheels. That was a tremendous adventure, full of memorable events, including a frenetic last 29 minutes where I started 50 seconds off a 20 mph pace and somehow rung 1:20 out of the last 10 miles despite plowing through two knee-deep puddles and doing some almost Lance-worthy off-roading.

Today, I ran for 2 hours. Map My Ride gave me some questionable, on the shoreline gps data (a lot of workouts show up short her on the shoreline). I ran a solid negative split of nearly three minutes after running a very solid 1 hour and 1 second out before turning around and coming back. I drained a bottle of hammer nutrition and one flask of EFS nutrition.

I never felt bad. I never had to take a dump (yes, this happens on some long runs), I never felt bloated, and I never faded. I do have to shout out to Bear McCready. His music was the fuel for my run today, as I just listened to BSG seasons 1-4 the whole run, and damn, that music makes me solid. It's the perfect blend. It doesn't send me off the deep end like Linkin Park, and doesn't lull me to sleep the way Alannis does.

The point is, the 5 hour ride was an adventure and an effort. The two hour run ? Just another workout. I went out, I ran, hit the head, grabbed two scoops of Hammer Nutrition Recoverite, then went to my son's soccer game, where I had to convince him that yes, he wanted to play, not just watch.

Now, I've done some three hour runs this year, so I know what even longer runs feel like and it makes me stop and think.

I've come to the conclusion that as an athlete, I'm a better cyclist than a runner, and maybe that's true. But my running has really come together in the last month and maybe instead of fighting the idea that I'm a good runner, I should go with it, what with IM Florida coming up next month. After all, the Ironman doesn't end with a bike loop, it ends with a marathon. Maybe being a runner is a good thing. Maybe being a good runner is an even better thing.

So the fact that I can go out and run for two hours and it's just a punch the clock effort, that's a good thing. Let me save the aggression and the passion for the bike, where I need it, and let's run like a professional at IM Florida. I'll have a better race, maybe even turn in that 3:20 my coach thinks I'm capable of...


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Tommy Sullivan's Run for the Ribbons

Yesterday I rode 100 miles and then ran 25 minutes.

This morning I was planning to get up and run up to two hours starting at 0700. I had it in the back of my mind that I might still go and run the race this morning instead of doing my long run, but I wasn't really planning on it.

I got up late, which means about 0645. That's still plenty of time to feed the cats and make the coffee, eat some banana and get dressed. Still I was psyched when Michael D'Addetta emailed and suggested starting at 0730 instead. Mostly because it was pouring rain out and in the mid-fifties.

It was a great call. As I stepped out the front door to run, the clouds parted, revealing blue skies and sun. That was it for the rain and the entire 75 minute run with Michael and Mary Dunn was beautiful. I could have gone another 15 or twenty minutes, but I knew the race was at 1000 and I had over an hour to get there. I'd decided to run it after all.

The point is that I'm training for Ironman Florida. Going and running a 3.4 mile road/trail race the day after a long ride makes no sense. I mean what should come after a 100 mile ride is a long run, maybe 2 hours. So there was no way I was going to rest up for the race. But I won the race last year so I wanted to at least go and run, which was the only reason I'd even been thinking about it.

So I changed from my running clothes to some race gear, hopped on my bike, rode over to the race and registered.

I was already warmed up, so I just did some strides and I saw a lot of the same people I saw last year. Then I saw one guy and everything changed. This guy was tall and thin, running shorts and a tank top. He had a massively long stride and as he warmed up, doing strides the same as I was, t was clear he was faster. He exploded off the line and covered tremendous ground each time.

Oh well, there was nothing I could do about it but run my race.

The race got off pretty quickly after that and I'd picked my line I wanted and surprise, I was very quickly out in front. I was not expecting to lead the race- there were cross-country kids and so on and I was pretty sure I'd be trailing someone. I wasn't.

The start is pretty much downhill, half a mile to the woods. I was chasing the pace car and for now this was my race and I was going to run it and take charge. I forgot about the fatigue of the 100 mile ride/run yesterday, the earlier 75 minute run, and I just kind of ran. When you are out in front, you had better run your ass off. Before I even got to the woods, it was clear that it was a two person race. I didn't look back, I never do, I could just tell from the sound of it. The guy I'd seen at the start, the one i was pretty sure was the fastest guy at the race, was on my back, within 2 seconds.

We headed into the woods, and I had the lead, and I ran with it. I think in the woods, the shorter guy has the advantage. That shorter stride makes it easier to make adjustments and find footing. I ran hard, but I felt like the guy was just marking me and I was expecting him to go by. And he didn't, and didn't. We hit a mile at around 6:30 and still I was in front. In the woods now, I was pushing every advantage and shaving every line, running straight at trees, sailing over clusters of roots. I was still thinking the guy was going to blow by me, until I finally starting thinking he was just marking me because he assumed I knew the course but he didn't.

And that was how I ran the whole woods. And then we broke out of the woods and were back on the road and quickly hit the 3 mile mark. I ad two seconds on him at three miles. No way I was going to gold onto two seconds.

And no way I was giving it up, either. The course dips downhill after three mies, then ticks up to the finish. I tightened the screws as much as I could and just kept running up the hill. I wanted to win, and I didn't want to be caught.

And I wasn't. Kudo to the guy that held me within two seconds for three miles and end up 5 behind me for running a tough race and keeping me guessing. He pushed me the whole way

the coolest thing ? Two days later I was out running at lunch in New Haven and John Courtmanche pulled up alongside me and said "you didn't just win your age group, you won the whole damn race !" I will always remember that....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Niantic Bay Half Marathon

I haven't raced very much this year and for the most part, when I have raced I've raced long. A marathon, a half, a 20K, a ten-miler. I didn't have a great 20k, but I felt like I could have a decent race at Niantic Bay.

First, the conditions were favourable, that is hot and very humid.

No, hot and humid are not prime running conditions. However, I tend to respond well on hot and humid days, partly because of the way I'm built and the the degree to which I can dehydrate before suffering a significant decline in ability, and party because I carry a bike bottle full of sports drink with me.

It's the biggest thing that separates me from the other A and B level runners out there. I'd say 'elite' runners, but I am not an elite runner. I am in that second level of competitive athletes and it is baffling to me that you would go out to run a half-marathon and not carry a bottle with you. I'm not talking about an ironman fuel belt with the little bottles that you see people wearing. Just a bottle- 16 or so ounces of whatever you train with- Heed from Hammer nutrition in my case.

I also carry a cliff shot for around 6 miles or so.

The race is tough in that you have to get off to a fast start. It starts in a remote parking lot which leads to a very wide starting line. Within 75 meters though it narrows down to a one lane road, while going uphill and through several turns. It widens out a little after about 500 meters, but if you aren't up front and on a good line, you're going to lose time, so you either have to run a fast first mile or risk running a really slow one.

This is tough, because the whole theme for me at this race is to pace myself. Still, I feel like you can blow up the first mile of a 1/2 marathon and still settle in and have a well-paced opening half.

I was running just behind the group with Jesse as we headed down towards the finish line and they were talking about why Jesse wasn't running with the eventual race winner, who went on to win by 4:30 something.One of the guys said 'Is it because he could drop you at 4 miles ?' to which Jesse replied 'he could drop me any time he wanted.' I looked at George Buchanan after this exchange and said 'We're too old to be running with this group.'

We went through mile one at some crazy fast time and then right away I started to back it off. I had to. I was planning to run the whole 13 miles, not run the first 11 and stumble through the last two.

I tried to pour some water over my head at the first aid station, however, all the water got grabbed up. I took a cup of Gatorade and dumped it down my back, although not over my head. Probably sounds gross, but you either regulate your body temperature or you don't.

By the time we'd taken the turn back of the main road after exiting the park, people were passing me. This is the hardest part of a long race, the part where I am being passed by people I ultimately want to beat and have to force myself to just let them go. George passed me, Maureen passed me, and another guy passed me.

I got mixed up in a group with a guy that seriously into green- green racing flats, a green singlet- and three other people. The woman who would eventually finish third also got mixed up into the group as as we were running towards the sea wall, I clipped the green man's heel slightly because he got off his line as I was trying to run right in the middle of the road, just to the right of the cones that were dividing the road. I mumbled an apology and thought he didn't notice. Then the woman clipped his foot and she apologised and he went off on her about how sorry didn't cut it.

Both she and I moved away from the green man. I lost pace with her for a bit. We went into the back section, where the only real hill is. I just couldn't really hold on to Maureen, George, and company and I was kind of back and forth with the green guy, but I also wasn't concerned. I was watching that group's back because I had a plan.

As we came out of this little back loop we were headed back on the long straight road that parallels the park. I was waiting until we got back in the park to make any kind of move. George starting coming off the back, then reconnected with Maureen and the other guy, then started to fall off again. Last year I had passed George just passed the halfway point where you run by the finish line. I was planning to pass him again there. At each aid station I was dumping water (or if I couldn't get it, Gatorade) on my head and toros. At around 6 miles I took the cliff shot, tossing the wrapper at the aid station and heading into the park. It seemed like there was five or six of us in a group, sort of jockeying. We went past the finish, around and back out. I tossed my now empty bottle, 16 ounces of fuel consumed. I passed George, put the hammer down a bit and started to separate from the other guys around me, for the most part. One other guy was running ahead of me, closing on Maureen while I was still marking time.

Once I hit mile 8 I steadied again. Yes, I was running out of time with just 5 miles left, but I still had my plan, and no one was getting away from me. I was slowly picking up the pace as we headed back out towards the sea wall. For two miles I just slowly closed on the people in front of me, starting to feel good, my stride lengthening, and at mile 10 as we went into the back loop Maureen and the guy between the two of us were getting closer. Other people were falling back, losing time on me. We broke through the loop and back out onto the straight away and I made my move.

I passed the last guy between Maureen and I and then pulled up next to her right at mile 11. We exchanged brief greetings and then I was off again, chasing the two guys in front of me, trying to hold off the people I'd just passed.

I was back in the park soon after, and before I knew it I was at mile 12. I took as much water as I could get and dumped it on myself and tried to zip up my Zane's cycling jersey. The jersey was so wet and had slid so low on me that when I zipped it up I felt like I was choking and had to unzip it again. The last mile was not easy. I was running as hard as I could but I wasn't catching the guys in front of me and I was little concerned about the people behind me. That last mile seemed to stretch out in the way the last mile always does there, whether it's the half or back when it was the marathon.

I got through the final turn and I knew no one behind me was coming. I was disappointed not to be able to catch the last two guys I could see, but I'd gone from mid-30s to 25th overall on the 2nd loop. Still, it's funny how much time 2 seconds a mile costs you between the guy in front of you (who ran 6:36) and yourself (I ran 6:38) over that half-marathon distance.

I put more than 30 seconds on some of the people behind me in just the last few miles, so my strategy to hold something back for the second loop, plus staying a little better hydrated, and just being an ornery runner, all kind of played in to help me have what I thought was only my second good running race of the year. Not because of who I beat or where I finished.

I finally felt like I ran a good race, and that's been way overdue this year...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bridgeport Olympic Triathlon

One word. Mosquitos. I parked my car across the road from the beach aviation area that serves as the transition area and finish line. I started waking over with my bike and gear and at first I thought I was imagining a bug on my leg. Reaching down and slapping I killed 3 Mosquitos.

This is how I spent the pre-race, whether it was getting marked, or waiting to go to the bathroom, racking my bike.

I got in the water early. I hadn't raced a tri since Hammerfest almost a year earlier. I had a very poor swim in the team 'race' in very rough water the week before. I needed a good swim, and by good I don't mean fast. The water was flat, eerily flat. I had a really good warm-up and was feeling very confident. The first bout was far from shore, while the tide was out.

I was pretty calm for the start of a swim, and finally as the last stragglers were getting out of the water, and why are there always stragglers, who put their warm-up ahead of starting the rac on time, I actually wanted to start. When I say that I'd had a bad swim the week before, it was crazy bad, really choppy seas and insanely rough. We did this little two loop swim and one of the team members coordinating the race tried to stop me from doing the second loop. So I'd gone out in the sound a couple of time after that and had very good swims, and finally the race started.

The men in the first wave tried all strategies- swimming, running, and everything in between. I kind of watched it and then didn't. I sort want to concentrate on keeping my heart rate down at the start of the race and that requires me to focus on, well, me. Finally our wave was off. I started swimming right away. Because the first buoy was a long way off, it was a nice wide spread and I had no problem getting my own water and working out to the first buoy and making the turn. Frankly, I was surprised at how easy getting there was, how unlike my last crazy swim. Because the course was counter-clockwise, the low sun was in our eyes, and if there is one thing the course could use more bigger, it's buoys. Still, there were enough people around me that I could follow the course, about the halfway mark I found myself coming up on the stragglers from the first wave.

There's not a lot to say about the swim really, because it was surprisingly unremarkable. .

I got out of the water after yet another swim that I'd feared would be a disaster yet was completely ordinary.

I could probably end the race report right there. I needed to have a good, confident swim, and while my time was crap- 28 minutes- I did just that. Now the next athlete with a worse swim time finished 20 places behind me, I still got out of the water and on the bike feeling pretty good, relaxed, and knowing I needed to Hammer.

There could not be a worse bike course for me. Board flat with a bunch of turns, including two 180 degree turns. I mean, I still have a good ride there, and I like the relentless time-trail nature of the course, but honestly, all I could think of as I was plowing through the five loops was that I had not done enough time-trialing this season and Leopard-Trek jersey or not, I was not ready for this course.

Unlike most races, this course is kind of a mess from the get go. The very top guys from wave one are half a loop ahead of you, and the people in front of you are everywhere- and that's just the first lap. Starting with lap two, the chaos is all-encompassing. You can sort of tell who you are competing with, but not exactly. I have to say that I did get passed a few times, and that there was some drafting, but overall, I didn't feel the drafting was as bad as it has been in past years. I think having two engaged officials on the course really helps. On A few occasions I got re-passed by people who just couldn't let it go that someone else was out-riding them, but for the most part it was one of the cleaner races I've ridden. Of course, my bike split totally left me aggravated. It was in the 23 mph area, which is not really acceptable on a flat course. I definitely felt that a lack of racing really hurt me on the bike, where I was working hard, but lacked the fluidity, or the anger, or whatever the hell it is that makes me good on the bike.

I had left transition with only a few bikes on my rack- and my rack was full of people around my age. So when I came back in on the bike and had changed the equation quite a bit, even though I was pissed about the ride I had, I was satisfied I could do my job. I threw on my hammer nutrition cycling cap, grabbed two gels and started running.

Right away I was catching people, both guys in their 40s, and a lot of younger guys. There's something about this run. The sun always comes out and it gets as hot as the proverbial and because it's a 10K, people start walking. I'm more of a long-distance athlete and the thought of walking while running a 10K is kind of- well, whacked. As I headed down the path, the athlete wearing number 1 came back in my direction, who knew how far ahead- only he was walking. You want confidence ? #1 is walking and you are walking. That's confidence.

This is my part of the race. I am looking for one thing at this point, numbers on calves. I have to pass those 40+ men that were in my wave, and the more younger men I pass as well, the better. Still, for all the run is flat, in some ways a long flat 5k with long sight lines, especially when the summer sun comes out and starts beating down on you, is formidable than you might think it would be. I drenched myself at the water station at the quarter point turn around and then simply went back to the task at hand.

The second loop was a lot like the first, only more congested. More people were on the run and I wasn't always sure if I was passing or lapping people. I didn't care either. If you were in front of me, I was passing you, no questions asked, no answers given. I hit the turn around again and somewhere I pawed #[ 1, I think, but I have no idea when. Heading back, I was not thinking about how thrilled I was to be finishing another tri, but rather I was thinking about how damned far away the finish line was.

Good thing too. I passed a couple more guys in my age group and then I got close to the finish line. There was a guy with grey hair in front of me and I was thinking this guy could be in my age group. I really was spent but I found the turbo and passed him 50 meters before the finish line. I was so spent I just stood in the finish area until a volunteer go me a folding chair and a wet washcloth and I then happily sat in the finish area, wet washcloth and ice on my head, the best damn seat in house as I watched people finish.

The guy was 50+, so i'd saved embarrassment, not a place. Just as good.

So I was back- as a triathlete. And liking it....