Wednesday, June 30, 2010

News and Notes

On the day my wife started her own blog, (probably mostly to talk about the horrors of having to live with me), I am drawing a complete blank as to a blog topic for today. I'm guessing it's mostly because of all the focus we have on next week right now. So here are the little tidbits i've got, do with them what you will:

- We leave for London and Paris on Monday. If any of you lovely readers have been (or live) there, I'd love any tips on things to do, places to go, that are off the beaten tourist path. Any place a reader points out that we wind up going will definitely get a picture on the blog.

- I ran 3 1/2 miles yesterday, with only a quick stop for a water break after 2 miles. Notice, I say ran. Gone are the days of walking, at least for any distance under 4 miles. Rach stayed with me the whole time and pointed out that in the last mile, my running was almost as slow as my fast walking. Maybe so, but I still was running and not walking. Stamina will improve.

- After using and liking Runkeeper for a while, I'm giving SportyPal a try as the GPS workout tracker of choice on my Nexus One Android phone. I should have enough experience with it by Saturday or Sunday to do a comparative review of the two products.

- 25 miles scheduled for the bike tonight. Going to head into the hills and make this one hurt since it's one of the last few times I'll get to ride my bike for a while.

- 311 this morning. It's going down, but boy is 310 taking FOREVER to get here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Measuring Progress

In a time based sport, it's relatively easy to measure your progress over time. With proper training, your times should decrease in all 3 phases of triathlon. But how about in between races, during the day to day grind that is the most difficult part of the effort it takes to make that progress? When you don't have anything immediately on the line, how do you realize the differences in your training? For me, yesterday, it was about seeing what i was capable of on a day I felt like crap.

I woke up yesterday feeling just awful. Occasionally, I deal with bouts of insomnia, and the past couple nights I've had it in spades. Up til 2 am, sleeping poorly, and up at 7 to talk about software testing with people who are in Sri Lanka. Not an ideal time to be not feeling well, especially just a week before the honeymoon. Fortunately I started feeling better as the day went on, so when it was time for Rach to head to the pool, I joined her for a 2100 yard workout. Plus I figured if the workout didn't go well, I could always just go sit in the hot tub.

I was surprised by how much energy I had when I got in the pool, and I got through the 400 yd freestyle warm up pretty quick. Evidently, that burnt up a lot of my reserves, as the next 800 using a pull buoy felt like it took forever. The pull buoy was followed by 800 freestyle, during which I started to feel better. So much better in fact that I finished only 150 yards behind Rach. The last 100 was breaststroke, and when I was done with that, and got out, I saw that I had completed the full workout in just under an hour.

I didn't feel strong or fast, and yet I managed to do a similar distance to the Timberman swim and had more than 10 minutes left prior to the time cutoff. Sure it was in a pool, in a non-pressure, non-hectic situation, but balancing that out with how my body felt, and I think it was quite the accomplishment for just some random Monday.  (note to self: why do I always find ways to caveat when I have a really good workout? Answer: probably because I'm afraid to raise the bar for myself in regards to what my expectations and goals should be).

Anyways, it felt good to see such a strong result. It doesn't always work that way but it's nice when it does.


- A week from today this blog will become a travelogue of our honeymoon. We fly out on July 5th and back on the 12th. Hopefully lots of great pictures of our adventures. Plus, it gives me a way to capture what i was thinking and feeling so years from now I'll be able to look back on the trip and remember factually the details in comparison to what my swiss cheese like brain remembers.

- My wife rocks. She sent me the training plan for July and even remembered to think about the limitations of the smallish workout rooms at our hotels. We're alternating biking and running and making sure we both aren't trying to use the same machines at the same time.

- Consider this fair warning: I'll be talking a lot about the Tour de France during the honeymoon, especially once we reach Paris. If you're planning on watching delayed coverage in the states, you might want to be careful when you read the blog. I won't be holding back, but I will warn you when I'm about to pop into talk about the best bike race in the world.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Show and Tell

I would like to take a second to thank members of bike forums, beginner triathlete, my Facebook friends, twitter followers, and of course any of the Becoming Timberman readers who voted for my entry in the most recent USA Triathlon photo caption contest. To all of you I say thank you very much for the fantastic new gear. Here's a pic of me on the way home from Saturday's ride sporting the awesome Rudy Project Zuma helmet and Noyz sunglasses.
Don't be afraid of the guy in shades, oh no.

The way home from Saturday's ride you ask? Shouldn't I be on a bike instead of a train you ask? We had a nice long 45 mile ride planned for Saturday, and Rach had the great idea to have our ride be by the beach so we could at least look at the ocean if we weren't going to be in it. This meant some planning as our closest access to the ocean is by the shipping area of Boston Harbor. Not exactly the kind of scenery we were looking for.

Instead we travelled Northeast towards Revere Beach, a place we'd heard nice things about but hadn't been to yet as it's a little off our beaten path. So off our path, we had no idea how to get in it's general direction without being on the expressway. "Thankfully", we were able to find our way thanks to Google Maps bicycle directions. 

Thankfully is in quotes because while it might be the only way to get there without riding on the highway, driving back roads by the airport freight district is not what I call a safe cycling environment. The freeway might have been more fun than bad roads surrounded by semi trucks. But we made it over and found gorgeous Revere Beach

I did not take this picture
At only 18 miles ridden at this point, we still had a way to go, so we decided to head further out towards the point you can almost see in the far right of the photo. This meant venturing out towards Lynn, MA. The town area of Lynn, MA has the distinction of being one of the least cycle friendly areas I've seen here in Massachusetts. The main drag is full of cars driving 50+ with narrow lanes, and the sidewalks are crumbling relics of a day long gone.

The journey is a worthwhile one as the far side of Lynn reveals a huge stretch of open beach lined bike path making it's way to Swampscott, the town out on the point. Unfortunately, we didn't go as far as the path does, because Rach had started feeling dizzy from the effort in the heat. Thankfully, right there on the beach was a nice smoothie station where we were able to get some extra cold refreshment, hit the restroom, refill our bottles, and rest for a bit. 

Rach still wasn't feeling 100%, and out of cash, we decided to make an easy ride back to Revere Beach where we could find a place to get some more refreshments (I never leave the house without my debit card), and figure out if we could carry on or not. Back at the beach, and an ice cream cone and some water later, Rach said she couldn't ride the whole way back. It's a good thing Revere Beach is only a mile or so away from one of the stops of the Blue Line, the train that takes people from downtown out to Lynn and Back. Even better, it's one of the trains that allows bicycles.

The blue line ends in the middle of downtown and the Green Line that takes us near our apartment doesnt allow bikes. By then, Rach was recovered enough to ride the rest of the way back to the house. In total 30 miles, but some fun and some worry mixed in. We'll do another long bike this week before the honeymoon.


- I was home sick from work today, but I've been feeling slowly better throughout the day. Shouldn't impact our training too much, but I definitely wasn't ready to run or swim this morning.

- My Team Tyler t-shirt arrived last week, and I'm just now getting a chance to get a picture up. It even fits which is nice. I'm definitely going to wear it the day of Ironman Canada, before and after our race at Cranberry Olympic.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Race Report: Chase Corporate Challenge - Boston

In 2008, I worked at BMW Financial Services in Dublin, Ohio. That spring, the company sponsored a 5k to benefit the local YMCA. I did that race more to be with friends than to add a race to my calendar. I was just starting my spring training at that point, and wasn't really looking to set a good time on the course. Races are always more fun when you have people to do it with or talk about it with after. Especially at BMW where a good many of my friends are long distance runners, and some are now even getting into triathlons.

Flash forward to yesterday, the Chase Corporate Challenge in Boston. It's funny, I worked at Chase two different times in my career, and I wasn't involved in a Corporate Challenge race during either of those stints with the company. But I was only too happy to take part with REIT M&R yesterday and race with and against several folks from my department and about 60 people from our affiliated companies.

The race started and ended at Boston Common, and the course was an out and back with a turn around point in Kenmore Square, about 100 yards from our apartment. I guess you could say I had a bit of a home field advantage considering how many times I've walked or run this area of the city. The race was so close, we walked to the starting area down the race course itself. Had it not rained on the way to the race, getting Rach and I both pretty soaked, it would have been just about a perfect event.

The weather was hot and humid as forecast, but following the thunderstorm that preceded the race by about an hour, the rains held off. The team met and hung out on the common prior to the race until it was time to line up. Rach got to meet a bunch of my co-workers who she'd only previously heard me talk about. Plus it lets me prove that Rach isn't just the girl whose photo came in all the picture frames on my desk.

We made it to the line and I was several thousand people away from the starting line when the horn went off to start the race. The biggest race I'd previously done was the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Race (around 9000 people), and there were at least that many people between me and the starting line with a couple thousand more behind me. In fact, the race sold out at 12,000 runners and walkers. To say this was an amazing sight is an understatement, and certainly added to the excitement. 

The horn sounded and we were off and runningstill standing in the same place because no one could move. With that many people in a non-wave start, it takes a while for everyone to get past the line. Especially because a lot of the walkers and slower runners don't understand they should make their way to the back of the pack so the faster folks can get by without having to dodge through a significant part of the course. It's a natural consequence of a race that attracts a ton of first time or very occasional racers, but it could have been handled better.

With the severe threat of rain, I didn't bring my phone to track the race with, as I ruined an iPod at a rainy fall race last year. I didn't think to check the race clock as I crossed the starting line. So without electronics and with no idea as to how fast i was going or even when I started; I just ran.

I started out at what felt like a good pace. What makes a race like this interesting is that you have to accelerate or slow down pretty frequently in order to get around slower folks in front of you. It's an advantage for an experienced slower runner like myself. I got to start near the back and pass a bunch of people at my normal running pace. Most of these folks were walkers, people alternating between running and walking, and a few really slow runners like myself.

Except that yesterday I was not so slow. With the exception of a single climb out from under an overpass, the course was almost totally flat. My running has been slowly improving and last night it went pretty well. When I passed the first mile the clock said 17:20 but I knew I had started several minutes following the starting horn, so my guess was that I was about on my usual pace. I saw several of my teammates along the way, some that I passed and some that passed me. In fact, I actually finished with one of my co-workers from our HR department.

The heat and humidity on the course got to be pretty oppressive, and it slowed me down a little in the 3rd mile. I dumped some water over my head and soldiered on. In fact, other than a few seconds of walking at a couple of the water stations, I ran the entire race. I even had enough juice left to sprint through the last 100 yards or so. It was definitely a fun run, and one that I wasn't really looking to make any real headway with.

Of course, that changed when right before the race, Rach told me "Your goal time is 45 minutes." Evidently, because she couldn't run (BU didnt field a team), I had to run faster than normal. As I said, the finishing time said 52:05. And when I looked at the results online, that's what my results say as well. However, the co-worker I finished with had a finishing time of 47:41, and I know they started at least 30 seconds if not more ahead of me, because I passed her about a minute after I started the race. It seems likely that my chip did not get recorded as I crossed the starting line. 

Knowing I started after Karen, and finishing with her means the slowest I could have been was 47:41. Those 4 minutes might seem trivial but to me, it means something; progress. If I did 3.5 miles in 48 minutes, that means I averaged 13:37 for the race, which is pretty good for me across that distance without any walking breaks. Further, I know I was faster than that because of starting after her.

In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter, because I had a good time at the race, and I did it with friends. Plus, I decided i was going to keep myself in the spirit of having fun and at the post-race party for our group, I even had 2  beers (Ok, a beer and a half; one of them was a Mc Ultra). Maybe not the best "daily basis" kind of decision for my weight loss, but definitely helped with the whole stress relief and increased enjoyment aspect I promised myself I'd start working into the whole process. Rach had a few drinks too, and we got to enjoy our time with some of my friends from work.


- Today is a rare off day from training, and I was thrilled to weigh only 315 this morning. I know it's back up from earlier in the week, but it's transient weight from the beer and snacks last night. Plus, I'm already feeling a bit more rested and recharged before the long bike this weekend. We're supposed to go to a BBQ event tonight, but Rach is feeling the effects of her drinking last night (lightweight!) so that might not happen. Either way, I'm going to use this weekend to train and de-stress from a long week of work.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Defiance ... it ain't just a town in Ohio

Yesterday was another rough day. Long day at the office, and while i didn't eat as a bad as I had on Tuesday, my insomnia fueled 2 AM snack didn't go well with the bottom line. 314 on the scale this morning was not the kind of thing I was happy to wake up to.

I want to thank the readers that responded (both publicly and privately) to yesterdays frustration laced post with reassurance and encouragement. It's not like I've been gaining weight (until last night anyways) or not exercising. I just got this sudden feeling of being overwhelmed and didn't see any of those things going away any time soon.

I am taking some of the advice from the users who responded:

1. I've come way too far to let a rough few days get me down. Usually, there's a post-race "high" that comes off having put another goal to bed, especially one like this last race where the training I've been doing reflected in the race. This time, there was sort of an emotional crash because the race was followed by so much stress, and we didn't really have time to take a few days to take it easy. I guess taking it easy will happen in October.

2. Adjusting my goals. While we're doing 4 more races between now and the end of September, only one of those races really requires me to be at my absolute best (Timberman). The next race, the MA State triathlon is a chance to get feedback on our longer training sessions and get us used to longer distance races. While I'll still set goals, and do my best on that day, I am not going to get all caught up in performance. You can only be in peak condition so many times in a season. As long as my times come back at or under what I'd need to do to finish Timberman, I'll be happy. The race following Timberman we're doing as part of the regional club championship, so I want to do well, but finishing is what matters. Finally, there's a month between the club championship and my last race of the year. That should give me plenty of time to rest up and prepare, with my primary goal just to beat last years time.

3. Enjoy myself. I've been putting a lot of stress on myself about not just my goals but my training as well. Sometimes you just have to have fun with it. I really enjoy swimming, and I find it's a terrific workout that doesn't always feel like I'm working. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being on my bike, and if it weren't for the fact that the shower is currently broken at work, I'd ride to work a ton. It's a great way to wake up, and I like doing it even when we have other morning workouts. I still suck at running, and I hate that I haven't made more progress. The only thing I can do there is keep on my weight loss and training, because getting lighter and stronger will make me faster.

Those are the three biggest things that I took from what folks had to say, and I really will take them to heart. It will help me think about how I want to look at things when I don't perform to the level I think I'm capable of. I am going to use these thoughts along with my past accomplishments to become defiant to the negative thoughts and pressures of the day and not let them affect my long term goals or happiness.


- The Chase Corporate Challenge is today. It's a 3.5 mile run/walk made up of employees from a bunch of different companies. There are over 10,000 people doing the race today, and the weather will be either hot and humid or thunderstorms. Probably some combination of both. The nice thing about this race is that to get ready all I have to do is go home, get my workout stuff on, and walk about a mile to the east as the race takes place right in my neighborhood. So I've got that going for me. Plus a bunch of folks from the office are participating, so they'll get to meet Rach and we'll have some fun together.

- Last night amongst the other comments and emails I got about my recent posts, I heard from John Y, or as you may know him from my race recap as "The Little Guy". Apparently, I misused the term midget in describing him, and he asked if I could use the correct term. Of course I was more than happy to make the change for him. My whole intent in pointing out his performance on the bike was to highlight one thing: A person who falls outside the "norm" when it comes to a sport shouldn't feel like they can't or shouldn't compete.
   Being fat is something that happened to me through my own choices, but I am still judged differently than other competitors. At least once a week, I hear a derisive remark during training as to what I'm doing (This weeks was the simple "Fat guys shouldn't wear spandex"), so I can only imagine what folks who have other more significant differences from the norm go through. John is truly a class act on and off the course, and should serve as an inspiration for people not letting what some perceive as limitations get in the way of achieving his athletic goals. You can read his ongoing story at I've added his blog to the Readers that Write section as well.

- Haven't had a chance to get photos of the new Rudy Project gear I won in the contest, but I definitely will this weekend prior to our big ride.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Too much

Sometimes it all feels like a bit too much.

Too much work: We've had a big surge of projects all at the same time in various states, all requiring a good amount of work from me. I've worked 12+ hours each of the past 2 days, and that looks likely to continue through tomorrow.

Too much food: My food intake seems to be corresponding with my workload (aka I stress eat). I had a bowl of mini-wheats for breakfast, and followed it with a can of coke when I got to work. I had a large roast beef, turkey, and cheese sub with a small bag of chips and a 20 oz coke zero for lunch. During the break in our 4 hour departmental meeting, I had 2 very large chocolate chip cookies and 2 cans of coke. Following all that up with dinner, where I had one and half pieces of garlic bread, 2 slices of stuffed bacon cheeseburger pizza, and a fried cheesecake bite. And though I packed a healthy lunch today, I still wound up indulging in a piece of pizza afterwards. Clearly, this insanity has to stop quickly, and the only thing I can be do is be vigilant, and keep myself out of situations where I'm likely to eat more than I should.

Too much exercise: After the day off Sunday, (where we still walked about 5 miles), I ran 4 miles on Monday and cycled 6 on Tuesday. All on basically dead legs. Today i have swim, but am otherwise resting my legs for tomorrow's Chase Corporate Challenge Race. Friday, I'm going back to swimming, and though we're going to a BBQ event, I'm going to keep my eating contained as we have a 45 mile ride planned for Saturday. 

Too much still to do: We officially registered this morning for the Massachusetts State Triathlon. On top of being our first Olympic distance triathlon (about twice the distance of most sprints and around half that of Timberman), it is the race that helps us bridge the gap on our distance preparation. Also, it accumulates points for the Wheelworks Team in the Max Performance Club Competition. What this all means is that training is only going to increase, and because of the honeymoon, we can't afford too many other days off. 

In general it all feels like just a bit too much, and the pressure has been getting to me today. Rach has been really helpful in keeping me on track, and even with the threat of rain, I made myself get on the bike yesterday after that disastrous food day. The good news is that it has only impacted my weight slightly these past few days, as I'm still at 312. 

The bad news is that with a little self control since Saturday and I should be under 310 by now. I guess there's always tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

So what do you do AFTER a triathlon?

In the world of triathlons, I still consider myself somewhat of a beginner. While i'm about halfway through my second season, I've never done a race longer than a sprint and I've only done 6 races so far. I've learned a lot, but I have a lot still left to learn.

One of the things I have down pretty well though is what to do AFTER the race is over. There's the obligatory post-race snacks and sitting in the coolest place I can find. Following that there's usually an awards presentation and prize giveaway. Finally, it's time to pack up and hit the road for home, or in our case this past weekend, the road for Cape Cod. Usually we spend the afternoon following a race cuddled up unconscious in bed followed by a rather large meal, but seeing the Cape was just too good of an opportunity for us to pass up.

As I mentioned in yesterdays rather long (sorry bout that, btw) race recap, our race was about 45 minutes from the entry out onto the the cape. I had decided the night before as we played mini-golf in front of one of the few remaining "duck pin" bowling alleys in Massachusetts, that we were going to explore some of the Cape following the race.

Not really knowing what we were looking for, we drove east until we started seeing the signs of being on Cape Cod; namely expensive houses, expensive boats, beaches, seafood restaurants, and of course tourist traps about every 100 yards up and down the coast. I saw at least 3 world class mini-golf establishments, several go-kart tracks and even a strange place with a bunch of trampolines set into the ground for kids to jump on like an ultra-cheap inflatable ride.

We decided on Hyannis as our primary stop because it's one of the two towns I was familiar with (the other being Provincetown which was WAY too far to drive with only most of a day to explore) and because we could find their beaches on the map. Plus we were determined to eat at the beach before we enjoyed some sun and surf.

We wound up at Veteran's Beach on Lewis Bay, not far from the Kennedy Compound. After some highbrow fair (cheeseburger, fries, and a Pepsi), we hit the water. In order to keep my pledge of not exposing myself shirtless on this blog until I weigh roughly less than 1 Rosie O'Donnell, below is a shot of the gorgeous beach before we hit the water.

None of these boats are mine... yet.
The sun our on skin felt good, but not nearly as good as the cool ocean water felt to my sore legs. I could definitely feel the results of having pounded out a good strong ride in my quads in particular, so I made sure to wade up to my waist.

Once we left the beach, it was time for some shopping and exploring throughout town. It's amazing how much Hyannis feels like small town America, with Main Streets blend of boutique shops and tourist kitsch, considering the nearby presence of the ultra-wealthy. The fact that a train excursion and Cape Cod league games go on all summer long provide a pretty strong juxtaposition to the mega-houses and giant boats that can be seen at many of the harbors.

I have a personal fondness for lighthouses, so after getting directions at the JFK Museum, we headed up to Chatham to see a real working lighthouse and another beach. Off we went to Chatham, passing through a handful of smaller towns similar in makeup to Hyannis but not quite as regal or well known.   The feel of classic Americana was everywhere; we even passed two A&W Restaurants on the way, which are fairly rare in these parts.

The beach in Chatham is just across the street from the lighthouse, and is truly breathtaking. It's so easy to see why the folks with the money are willing to spend it to have a home in these seaside towns. The water is cool, the sand isn't too hot to walk barefoot, and just two beaches over lives a seal colony. It's picturesque New England at its finest.

Chatham Light from Chatham Lighthouse Beach

I couldn't resist the lure of the cool water on my legs again
The one tough thing about racing as part of a weight loss regimen is that following the race, your metabolism is so ramped up that you're starving almost all day, and no amount of caloric intake feels like enough. Race day is also a day when all bets are off in terms of the contents of our meals, so when we made our way back down the cape, we decided on a visit to the more authentic looking A&W.

For being such a small person, Rach loves her food. She craves seafood on a nearly 24/7 basis, and isn't afraid to sit down to a plate of friend food, especially if it features shrimp and Wisconsin Cheese.

I ran faster than Benny, and I'm gonna eat faster too!
One word of caution; I don't recommend asking her if you can try a bite of her dinner. It doesn't usually end well, especially when you do it mid-bite.
Do not get between this lady and her Shrimp roll
I couldn't let my lovely bride dine alone, so I indulged in the rarest and most welcome food in my diet: a bacon double cheeseburger
"Is this heaven?"
While my taste buds had been pining for that lovely bun covered sandwich above, there's only two reasons to visit an A&W and they both come in the same frosty mug:

It's the liquid equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter
This is one triathlon post-race that will be tough to top. Maybe we can work up something special for Timberman.

The perfect day: Me, my girl, the beach, and my new Rudy Project shades


- I unboxed that package from USA Triathlon Saturday, and my prizes were indeed inside. Pictures tomorrow, and I have to say it's some nice stuff. A small snafu with the helmet but nothing I can't handle.

- The Chase Corporate Challenge is a mere 2 days away and my legs still aren't back from Saturday's race. It's a 3 1/2 mile run with a couple hills along the way. I did 4 miles Monday night, and I'm definitely thinking I'll need to take a full day off on Wednesday to rest up.

- We're going to try to sign up for the Massachusetts State Triathlon sometime this week. It's our first Olympic and comes a month prior to Timberman. It's the ideal gauge of our improved fitness and to see what sort of time we can muster. The swim is only 500 yards or so short of Timberman, and the bike and run come in at about half the 70.3 distances. It falls the week after the honeymoon, so it's a good way to help keep us in line while we're in Europe.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Race Report: Minuteman Sprint Triathlon

Before I get into what happened, here's a review of the goals I set
Swim: 10 minutes
Bike: 1 hour (50 minutes for a flat course)
Run: 50 minutes

In short, I was looking for a sub two hour race.

Friday, I left work early to get home and pick up Rachelle. Come weekend during the summer, Boston evacuates for Cape Cod like the city is about to be hit by a tidal wave. We don't always notice it living right by Fenway Park and the stream of visitor traffic in Kenmore Square. But you definitely notice it any time you try to head south on a gorgeous Friday in June; the traffic headed to the Cape is bumper to bumper.

Because the race was held about 45 minutes west of the Cape, once we got past the exit that splits traffic to the coast we started moving in a hurry. It still took 2 hours to go about 65 miles if that says anything. We got to the race site, picked up our packets, and drove the bike course.

I don't know why, but I always pictured Massachusetts as a flat state. It's probably because I lived in a flat state growing up, and never really put much thought into the topography of the east coast. Let me assure you that Massachusetts is NOT flat. Driving the bike course made me think that I probably would need to push out my goal time. It didn't have quite as many short climbs as the Season Opener, but 4 bigger climbs followed by really big climb right near the end of the course.

We went back and checked into our hotel about 20 minutes from the race. Another race, another Quality Inn stay. I'm always looking for a nice place on a budget, and chains are safer bets than mom and pop places. After a relaxing game of mini-golf at the amusement center across the street, it was time for final prep and an early bed. Waking up at 5 AM is a lot easier when you've had enough sleep.

Race day morning the weather was gorgeous. 60 degrees at 6 AM, with just the right amount of sunshine to start the day. A quick breakfast of Gatorade and a blueberry Clif Bar, and we were off to the site. Unlike some races I've done, Cathedral Camp has plenty of parking on site, so getting there and getting settled in was a piece of cake.

We set up in transition and Rach got into her wetsuit before we headed over to the swim start. Based on the announced water temperature (74 degrees) and the heat we would be facing later in the race; I decided to do without my wetsuit. After a barely audible national anthem over the loudspeakers and a too loud musket salute, the race started.

My wave was the second into the water. The swim course was 1/4 mile rectangular counterclockwise swim. My wave was pretty big, with the Clydesdale's and all of the age group men released together. One interesting thing I noticed was a height-challenged person (whom I will refer to affectionately as "The Little Guy" going forward) standing among the rest of us guys waiting to hit the water. I found a spot to the right of the main bunch and took off at the gun. I mostly managed to avoid the scrum of the start and with the faster women coming behind me, I wanted to make sure to make the first buoy and turn before I started getting swam over. I made the turn wide to avoid the hard charging women, which cost me a little time. But it was worth it to avoid most of the traffic as the women in Rach's group were coming up on us pretty quick.

The next 200 yards ran parallel to the shore and went pretty well, except for the guy who swam a fairly quick backstroke, in nothing resembling a straight line. He kept crossing in front of me, and I kept having to avoid getting kicked in the face. Eventually, I just put my head down and passed him and a couple of others before the 2nd buoy.

I made second and final turn feeling strong as I headed towards shore. I passed a couple more folks and I turned to look back as I got out of the water and I saw a mix of yellow and green caps behind me so I knew wasn't last out for my wave. There was no clock at the swim exit, so I just prayed what felt like a good swim was a good swim.  Rach's bike was still there, so I knew she hadn't passed me and I just hoped she was doing ok after last race's swim. My swim to bike transitions have been a bit longer since I got the cycling shoes but it's still worth it. I didn't have my smoothest overall changeover, and running in the cycling shoes doesn't work very well. I can cut a couple minutes off my transition by learning how to get into the shoes while they're attached to the bike.

I had a little dread as I hopped on the bike and took off. I knew there would a bunch of hills and I was remembering what I went through last race. So I figured the best way to confront those fears was head on. The minute I got off the driveway where the course started and onto the main road, I started hammering as hard as I could. I wasn't in the big ring, but I took a strong rear gear in the middle ring, and went for it.

I could feel a difference almost immediately between this race and the Season Opener. While I had expended less energy to get through the swim, I also was feeling a lot stronger on the climbs, so much stronger that I didn't have to stop, or even use my easiest rear gear except on the final really long climb. I managed to pass several people on the bike, but the last couple hills took a good bunch out of me and a few people came back to pass me including "The Little Guy". We went back and forth for a few minutes before he finally pulled ahead as I climbed the last hill.

Being beat by a dwarf on a children's mountain bike (admittedly one I later learned was enhanced with more than $1000 worth of enhancements including racing wheels) probably would bother a lot of people. But I have experience at losing to the differently able. My father and I once got beat at golf by a one armed man in his 60's. He beat us by more than a few strokes, for that matter. This happened about 5 or 6 years ago back in Columbus, and it was the day in my life where I truly learned it isn't the size (or number of arms) of the person in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the person.

I followed "The Little Guy" into transition, and I didn't see Rach's bike when I came in, so I knew she'd made it out of the water and onto the bike course. She hadn't passed me, which means I had managed to hold her off a little longer this race. Just enough to finish the bike it seemed, as she came into transition less than a minute behind me. I was glad to see her race going well, and as I didn't get a chance to activate my GPS, I had no idea how fast I'd done the bike, but she'd clearly done it at least a little faster than I did.

Of course, a little faster on the bike would turn into a lot faster on the run as Rach significantly out classes me in the third discipline. I caught up with "The Little Guy" on the way out of the transition, and told him I did everything I could to catch him on the bike but couldn't get it done. I told him we'd probably be seeing a lot of each other on the run, to which he replied "We'll see, but I'm a walker so maybe not". Remembering not that long ago when I too could only walk the 5k, I wished him luck and started jogging.

There's a triathlon training process I've talked about a couple times called a "brick". Bricks where you  bike for a while at a high level of effort, and then get off the bike and immediately start running. This drill prepares you for the very uncomfortable feeling of going from a hard bike to a run (the b in brick stands for bike, the r stands for run, the ick stands for the feeling you get when you do it). Clearly, I haven't done enough of these as it took me a good couple minutes to get moving beyond a decent walk.

The run started on a grass trail which I'm not used to, but it soon moved back out to the road. A disinterested course marshal led several of the race leaders to miss a turn on the course. I didn't learn this til later, but I did see her texting away while seated in her car at a mostly unmarked intersection. Thankfully, I was following someone who seemed to know where they were going and had seen the couple of arrows drawn on the road.

The run course was hillier than I expected, and that hit my time a little bit, but frankly I gave close to my all on the bike, so the fact that I was a little slower than I had hoped on the run was to be expected. Further, there was no aid station at mile 2 (as had been planned for) which coincided with the breeze dying and the temperature rising. In addition, the big hill on the bike was present at the end of the run as well.

By the time the run came around, I had grabbed my phone and set up the GPS so I knew my run was going to be about 2 mins/mile over my goal. I wound up finishing the run at 58:50, which means I missed my goal by almost 9 minutes for that stage. Plus, when I crossed the finish line, it read 2:14:59. With the 3 minutes delay before my wave hit, my final time was 2:11:59. That means I miss my goal by 12 minutes.

That is one good lookin' dude.
Rach hates to see me love, but she loves to watch me go

So what could I have improved on to meet my goals? Let's look at the splits.

To start, I had almost 8 total minutes in transition. Most of that is due to getting in and out of the bike shoes. Prior to adding the bike shoes to the mix, my transitions were much quicker. So, my goal before Timberman (where transitions can make a huge difference) will be to get into the bike shoes while they're attached to the bike. I can also save a few seconds by adding special speed laces (that I already own) to my running shoes that you just tighten and go as opposed to tying.

Swim: 11:53
I was mostly happy with my swim. This wasn't a record setting effort for me, but it was my best race swim yet. With us regularly swimming at distance, if I can average this speed for the full distance at Timberman, I'll make the cutoff. So now, the effort is on becoming more endurant (a new word I invented), and increasing my speed through training.

Bike: 53:35
On the bike, I have to admit I was absolutely thrilled with this ride as it was going on. And when I found out I missed my goal by only 3:35 even with the hillier ride, I was really excited to find that out afterwards. I didn't once stop to walk up a hill or even to rest. I recuperated on downhills, I used the appropriate gears on hills, and while I know I had slowed some by the end, I was significantly improved in my climbing and my cardio. To improve, I just need to keep getting hill training and keep adding miles. Our training rides could have been a bit longer to prepare for this distance. Our upcoming scheduled rides already account for increased distances.

Run: 58:50
This continues to be my weakness. i was better prepared this race, and it shows that I still had enough gas to average a sub-15 minute mile even after a longer, more difficult race. This is the area I can improve the most through training, so I'm really going to continue to focus.

In all, I'm actually pretty happy with this race. 2 of the 3 disciplines I missed my goal by a combined 5 minutes. As for the running... well I still suck at that, but I'm getting better. Plus I now have a nice view in my cube today.

Yes, that is quite a lot of bling.


- Tomorrow I'm going to step off the beaten path and talk about what we do on race weekend when we're not racing.

- I had a couple of packages waiting for me in the mail on Saturday, and I'll talk about that later this week as well.

- No rest for the wicked; the Chase Corporate Challenge is Thursday evening. 3.5 miles in downtown Boston. Back to training today and tomorrow before a little light swimming Wednesday so I can get at least a little rest prior to the run.

- Finally, even though Father's Day 2010 (in the US) wasn't until today, I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about my dad, both during and after the race. Hard work, dedication, sacrifice; all the things it takes to be successful at triathlon (and weight loss) are values my father has represented his whole life. He spent long days working an assembly line so I could have the tennis shoes I wanted, or a new trombone. Later he paid for a year of college I squandered and gave me a car I let the engine give out on. I didn't realize how he could enjoy the manual labor at the plant until I started working on bicycles. I have always loved and appreciated my father, but I haven't always appreciated exactly what it took from him to get me where I am today. I am truly lucky and blessed to have such an amazing dad, and it was for him I ran on Saturday.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The day before Minuteman

So, here we are the day before another race. All that fear and anxiety is turning into eagerness to race. No training tonight, just the preparation of checking into the hotel, driving the bike course, and picking up our packets. I'm already (over) packed for the trip. I installed Rach's bike computer last night and looking at the usual last minute maintenance.

We swam last night as a final workout. 1000 yards, and I turned the first 400 into a measuring stick. I did 400 yards in a nice quick 9:30, including 20 seconds to fix a goggles problem. I did the remaining 600 at a pretty relaxed pace, and still finished under 30 minutes.

The Minuteman sprint triathlon is comprised of a 1/4 mile swim, a 14 mile bike, and a 4 mile run.  I've done triathlons of similar length last season, with the exception of the 4 mile run being longer than the run distance in previous races. We've trained to handle all these distances though, so I'll be within my range on all of them, with only the run causing any concern.

So now it's about setting goals for this race. Each of these smaller races is a stepping stone to Timberman, so setting and meeting a goal in each is important. Obviously, I had a fairly disastrous Season Opener, but those conditions were a unique situation, and not one that could easily be planned for. And it still wasn't my slowest race at those distances. All the more reason I want challenging but realistic goals for this race.

The swim: 1/4 mile is about 437 yards, and if I can do 400 yards in 9:30, I can do 437 in 10 minutes. That's a challenging but not unreachable goal, especially if everything goes to plan.

The bike: On a mostly flat but windy course, I did a 12.5 mile bike in 53 minutes last year at Maumee Bay. I followed that up with a 40 minute, 10 mile effort at Nantasket Beach in rainy windy conditions. My cycling has improved quite a bit this year, but climbing is still a concern. If the roads are mostly flat, I believe I can easily do a sub-50 minute ride. If there's more climbing than I expect, then perhaps it'll be closer to an hour. Regardless, this ride will be less than an hour.

The run: So it comes down to this event every time. In every race I've done, I've passed at least one person on the swim and bike, only to have them get time back against me in the run. My running still is my worst discipline, but I'm slowly getting stronger. 4 miles at the back of a triathlon will be tiring, but I think it's less of an issue than when it's a stand alone run. My best miles of late have been around 12 minutes, but i can't yet sustain that across 4 miles. I'm averaging around 13:30 per mile, but that's not good enough. I'm going to shoot for 12:30 on every mile, and do a 50 minute run. It means I have to be 10 minutes faster than everyone else in the bike to have a shot at the podium, but I think I might be able to do this if I pace myself properly.

There are guys in the Clydesdale division. I'm shooting for 3rd, but will happy with 4th or better. Several of our teammates, as well as a guy I know from Bike Forums will be at the race, and I plan on taking some pictures while we're there.

Finally thanks to everyone for the good luck sent in yesterdays comments.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fear becoming Anxiety

This morning I was thinking about all the fears I listed yesterday and how as as each race gets closer the general fears I talked about yesterday kind of merge into a form of multifaceted general pre-race anxiety that I'm used to dealing with. Can we get out of Boston in time to get through traffic and get our packets before 7? Can we find the hotel ok? Will we remember to pack everything? Lot's of variables to take into account, but we'll be smart, we'll plan, and we'll be prepared. 

My head cold caused me all kinds of consternation yesterday. The sinus pressure built until it was actually painful, so when I went ahead and took some WADA authorized nasal decongestant and ibuprofen I felt a lot better. Unfortunately, the combination of meds kept me awake until 2 AM. Thankfully I still managed close to my normal 5-6 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, it doesn't make getting up at 5:30 on Saturday any easier. I'm hoping a short swim and run tonight will tire me out enough so I'll hit the rack early. I have a 7:30 call for work tomorrow, which should help get me on schedule for the race.

As I've mentioned previously, doing these races with Rach gives me extra worries. She's a more capable athlete than I am, but I worry for her none the less. Her swim at the Season Opener left her feeling less confident about her swim capabilities, so to counteract this we bought her a wetsuit last night. We went into Fast Splits Multisport of West Newton, MA with the idea of renting her the same suit she wore last time. We spoke to the owner about a wetsuit lease to purchase option he'd been kicking around, but he just wasn't prepared for that process yet. 

Instead, he went digging though his used suits and gave Rach 5 options that fit into our limited pre-honeymoon budget. All showed wear and tear, and some even had some un-repaired damage. In the end, only one fit, and it was the one most like the suit she would have rented. it had some minor shoulder repairs but no open holes and is the fit Rachelle is used to. It's in better shape than the one she was to rent, especially for the price. It wound up costing us only a few dollars more than it would have cost her to rent a suit for the 3 triathlons remaining on her schedule. Plus she can practice with it every week from here on out. I'll post pictures of her in it from the race on Saturday.

As for me, one of the race directors posted on Beginner Triathlete this morning that the mini heat wave we'll be experiencing these next couple days should raise the water temperature as high as the mid 70's. Even in the high 60's for such a short swim, I expect I'll go without my suit. It's getting too big on me to begin with, and for a swim that short, and speed advantage I'd gain swimming with it on would be lost in trying to get it off during transition.

We don't know anything about this course other than what's on the website, and they don't give a lot of details. I'm hoping we get there early enough tomorrow to explore the course a little bit and mentally prepare for the ride.

I'm just hoping the new helmet and sunglasses show up before we leave tomorrow so I can use them this weekend.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Biggest fears

As this is only my second triathlon season, I still am learning a lot. On top of the fact that I don't have tons of race experience, moving to the east coast late last season means each race is new to us right now. All of this creates a list of fears that at times can be tough to conquer. With the Minuteman Sprint now just 3 days away, I'm going to detail what this list is, and what I'm doing to try and mitigate them.

- Risk: Being underprepared. When your current state is huskyfat, it's pretty difficult to be over-prepared. Every stroke, pedal revolution, or stride i take is like moving two people that far forward in comparison to some of the competition out there. I've lost 24 pounds this year and have gotten stronger and faster and more endurant, but I still have nightmares of finishing the Timberman swim over the cutoff line.
In fact, the recurring one has me finishing at 1:11:10 just a minute over the line. I've also had dreams where my constant work on my sub-par bicycle leads to a mechanical failure I can't fix on the course. Surprising as it is, I don't worry about the run very much, because I know if I get through the bike without an unfix-able mechanical failure, I can absolutely finish the run with the time I'll have left.

Mitigation: The only thing I can do to mitigate this is to train as much as possible. We've been pretty solid on this, so I'm not as concerned as I was a month ago, but until Timberman is behind me, I'm going to worry about prep for the big race probably every day (and most nights).

- Risk: Injury. All athletes, especially those training for multiple disciplines are at risk for injury. Especially the "Type A" personalities I talked about yesterday. Being that I'm a bit more sanelazy than these folks, I'm probably actually at more risk, because my body is less prepared for some of the things I've been throwing at. Plus, I'm a klutz. At least once every couple weeks I stub a toe or take a corner too tight and run into something in the office. That's not counting wet pavement under the bike or shoes, pulling muscles or cramps while swimming, or any other stupid thing I can manage to do to myself.

Mitigation: Be careful. Really, it's a thin line between being careful and not training enough. Especially for me and my current capabilities where on my best days I'm well inside the cutoff times, but my best days don't happen often enough yet. I'm trying to be smart about fluid intake and electrolytes which are the best ways to protect muscles. And the bone density scan I got at the free health fair put on by the local TV station had me solidly in the "good" range, so I'm probably not at a lot of risk for bone breaks.
Most of deep-seated injury concern is around my joints. I'm a big dude putting a lot of stress on my knees and ankles, not to mention my shoulders and hips. The only thing I can really do to prevent these injuries is to train within myself and be as technically correct as possible.

- Risk: Illness. This is actually what prompted me in building this list today. The past few days I haven't been feeling great, and today has been the worst so far. I slept horribly last night, tossing and turning, waking hourly, and feeling like I'm having a lot of problem breathing. This leaves me groggy and lethargic, which is not conducive to good training just days before a race. Bad training leads to injuries, so it really opens a can of worms.

Mitigation: Not much I can do at this point. I have been meaning to see a doctor, but like I've mentioned, I'm lazy. I am taking Claratin which is approved for both training and race usage by WADA. I know that the chances of getting tested as an amateur at small local race in which I am not likely to place are essentially infinitesimal, but I'm not about to risk participation if that 1 in 100,000 chance happens. If I'm not feeling better by tomorrow, I'll probably consider adding a nasal steroid (Flonase) which is permitted for both training and competition without a doctors note.

- Risk: Open water swim nerves. Rach had this happen to her during the Season Opener, and we saw what the consequences of that were. Part of that was water temperature (which we'll see more of this weekend), but part of it is that there are no lane lines, no ends to rest on, and no built in measure of distance traveled.

Mitigation: We're renting a wetsuit for Rach again this weekend. I'm undecided if I'll wear the one I have or not, depending on the weather that morning. They're forecasting a temperature of 67 degrees, which is probably 10 degrees warmer than what we swam in at the Season Opener, but about 10 degrees colder than what we usually swim in at FitRec. The Minuteman is a small race with a close to shore swim, so I don't expect the water to feel 67, and I don't think we'll feel as much panic this weekend. The only thing we can do between now and August is swim outside once a week or so, and that's our (new) plan.

- Risk: sharks, alligators, snakes, etc. Seriously, there are sharks in the ocean and some are seen in the waters off Boston, though more so the cape and up by Maine. The fact that they saw sharks up by the beach in York, ME where I got in the water over Memorial Day means sharks are still to close for my personal comfort. Alligators may be less of a concern, but you never know. They're sneaky bastards in all the movies.

Mitigation: The fact that all of our swims are fresh water will probably help, but the other major thing I can do is make sure to not watch Jaws, Anaconda, Lake Placid, or any other movie likely to set off a phobia.



- A mere 6 mile bike followed by a few miles of walking comprised yesterdays workout. Rach wasn't feeling well, and we had some stuff to get done before it got too late. We're biking tonight, and Rach is getting in a swim while I'm working today.

- My helmet and sunglasses haven't arrived yet, and I can't find my current sunglasses, so I'm hopeful the new ones get here before the weekend.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Type A?

Studies have shown that a large percentage of triathletes are your typical Type A personalities. While I have an addictive personality; I am generally lazy, don't get wrapped up in my work, and am not nearly as competitive as most people I know in the sport.

But I will say that I'm definitely seeing some situational behaviors in myself that lend me to believe I certainly have some of the Type A traits underneath the surface, specifically in being impatient:

- Impatient with Weight Loss: I weighed 337 pounds on January 1st. As of this morning I'm sitting at 313, meaning I've lost 24 pounds since the beginning of the year. While that averages a little over 4 pounds a month, it's still not anywhere near what I'd hope to have lost by this point. Most of that has to do with a lack of control when it comes to my food intake. I do well for a while, then I hit a speed bump and have to spend a week recovering what I had lost. If I'd been consistent on this, I should be approaching at least 40 lbs lost right now. I'll be buckling down on this even more, especially with the honeymoon coming up and expectations of having to make hard food choices while still enjoying my first chance at European cuisine.

- Impatient with training situations: The weather here has been (pardon my french, I've been practicing) shitty. It rains almost every day. When it doesn't rain, it's humid to the point where you wish it would rain. I'm too big to be willing to risk riding in heavy rain or on extremely wet roads, but I risked it this weekend in order to get the long ride in with Sunny. And I CANNOT STAND the way the BU FitRec pool is run. They have a lifeguard shortage supposedly, and yet they have 4 different classes going on during open swim, taking up about 1/2 of the total lanes available, with a lifeguard or more per class. We wound up cutting our workout short by 200 yards because there were people joining our lane, which would have caused us to circle swim. Circle swim is sorta the literal opposite of a training swim because you can't get any rhythm or tempo to your swim.

- Competitive when I shouldn't be: So, now I find myself measuring my swim not against the clock every time, but also against Rachelle. She generally has better stamina than I do, though because she's short with short arms isn't necessarily the fastest swimmer. When I do outpace her, I don't rub it in or anything, but I feel like it's not the best way to be a supportive training partner and I need to work on that.

- The nagging little voice: Whenever I am tempted to skip a workout, or on days I've eaten a few more points than planned, the nagging little voice comes into my head telling me those points are going to show up on the scale in the morning, or that missed workout will show up in the next race. Some days it's a really helpful thing and has helped me keep the weight off on days when i couldn't resist desert. The problem comes in when I hear the voice on a scheduled off day that happens to be a good day for an outside workout. 

I guess in the end having a lot of these traits is probably what led me to this sport in the first place, even in the subconscious manner in which the direction I got here occurred. 


- Last night we had 1500 yards on the schedule, and wound up with 1300 because of the crowded pool. I'm not bummed, because I was happy with my effort. Rach has been a little blue when it comes to her swimming because her times haven't increased as dramatically as she'd like. I keep telling her that she was already quick for her size and she's got all the stamina she'll need. She now just has to work on her stroke to really start seeing speed increases. 

- Tonights a 4 mile run and a 14 mile bike. After tomorrows workout, after tonight I start doing a little less each day until Fridays day off to prepare for Saturdays race.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Hills... and I don't mean that mindless MTV show

Well here we are; another race week. With all the training and everything else that's been going on, it doesn't seem like the last one was that long ago. This time it's the Minuteman Sprint Triathlon in East Freetown, MA. The race is Saturday morning at 7 and about an hour from home, so we're going to spend Friday night out by the race.

I had a really good weekend of training to lead into the week. I decided to take my rest day Friday instead of Sunday, and went to see the A-Team. It was REALLY good, and though it got it's ass kicked by The Karate Kid, it's still worth seeing. I waited on Karate Kid to see if I could talk Rach into going with me. If not, I'll see it sometime this week. 

Saturday was the big training day this weekend. Our triathlon team president Sunny sent out an email for a late morning group ride. I hadn't done a ride with any of the team members yet, and Sunny said this would be a ride at about my pace so I figured this was a good starting point.Sadly, the other folks who were to join us begged off due to potentially inclement weather, so it was just Sunny and I.

We met in North Cambridge and made our way out to the area around Belmont Wheelworks, the shop that sponsors our team.That's where the hills start. There are a couple on the way there, but only one of them is serious. It's actually the first place that Sunny had to stop to wait for me. She wasn't going too fast for me, she merely was able to get up the hill with a lot less effort than I was.

Sunny competed the Season Opener tri with Rach and I, and was in the Athena division. She's more the conventional style of Athena, tall and built as opposed to overweight. She actually won the Athena division that day for those who didn't swim, and I'm guessing would have won her division if she swam too. Sunny was pretty patient with me throughout the ride. I knew some of the roads we took, but not all of them, and I struggled a few times with the hills. 

The hills. It feels like I've forgotten how to ride a bike when I get on hills. Either I am in a gear that too hard feels like I won't be able to push my way up, or I'm in a gear that's too easy and I wind up maxing out my heart rate and breathing because I am spinning the pedals too much. And every hill ride starts that way. It isn't until I've been riding for a while that I start to feel better trying to climb. Sadly, that's just about the time my legs have started to go.

Sunny pointed us towards an interesting section of road. It's a very nice stretch of smooth road with a couple rolling hills before a larger hill that leads past the abandoned Waltham City Hall and up to a large apartment complex. The complex has a nice looping driveway that leads back around the other side of the hill and down to the main road. We made our way down the main road further to a turnaround prior to a rather nasty looking hill that I was in no shape to attempt at the time.

We worked our way back to the start of our deserted road track, and with the weather threatening to get worse I left Sunny to get in some faster laps without me. Good thing, too. It started pouring about 20 minutes from home. I made it through the hilly part of the trip before the skies opened, so I was happy to be done. I wound up around 28 miles give or take.

When I got back, I cleaned up and hopped on the scale. I'd gone all out for a couple hours, and it showed. My weight was 308.8. A lot of that was water weight loss, but it was nice to see I'm getting close. I woke up this morning at 312, but I'm headed the right direction. Even if the hills are still a lot for work for me.


- Rach is back home and we have good workouts early this week before we taper down before the race this weekend. It was a challenging week getting through all those workouts without my primary motivator but I'm proud I was able to do it. And up until a welcome home dinner for her last night, I watched what I ate too.

- Should be getting my USA Triathlon prize pack this week, hopefully in time for the race. I'm really excited to make use of the new gear. We've bought a couple of smaller items for Rach as well so she is prepared for flats and other occurrences during a race.

- It still looks and feels like September here today, but that's supposed to change tomorrow, at least for a few days. Hopefully we can avoid the rain on race day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Fun

Lots of little things today going into the weekend:

- In case you didn't see it yesterday, I did indeed win the USA Triathlon photo caption contest. My prize pack includes a Zuma helmet, and Noyz sunglasses branded with the USA Triathlon logo. Images of both are below, and I of course will post pictures when I have them in my hot little hands. The fine folks at USAT called to confirm the prizes and said they'll be sending along the black version of the helmet that will match both my bike and our Wheelworks team uniform. Also, the sunglasses they are actually sending are an upgrade from what i expected, and I'm just thrilled. Now comes the part where I have to decide if I can give them to Rach (and if she even wants them)! Anyways thanks again for the help gang!

That's one nice looking helmet
I can't wait to try these out (with the blue lenses and tips, 'natch)

- I woke up this morning at 311.2. Just 1.2 lbs to go. Today is supposed to be my rest day, but I think I'm gonna push that til Sunday. Even if I don't make 310, this has been the best week where I've been home alone in terms of eating and training since... well, forever. i really want to finish strong, but I still want to give my body the rest it needs.

- Speaking of rest, my body was feeling it this morning when I got up. Last night, I got in the pool at 7:45 and got out a couple minutes before 9 (when the pool closes). In that 1:15, I did 2400 yards. That's far and away the best swim I've had in a long time, and gives me a lot of confidence going into next weekends Minuteman Sprint Triathlon. I can't believe this race is now just a week away, and I may drive out and scout the course this weekend. We'll get into details, plans, and goals next week.

- I got a pretty bad cramp in my right leg about 2200 yards in last night. It's about that distance every time where I start to feel it in my legs, but last nights was the worst. I actually had to fully stop and stretch the muscle for a couple minutes, letting the convulsions run their course and trying to work out the knot. Considering how little I actually get out of my swim kick, it surprises me that I have these problems. I didn't take the Endurolyte pill I'd been planning to take before the long swims, but going forward I definitely will. Hopefully that will make a difference. The one positive is that I'm used to this happening during training so if/when it happens during a longer race swim, I won't panic. Let's just hope it doesn't.

- It still looks and feels mostly like September here in Boston. There was some bright sunshine this morning, but it wasn't much warmer, and a bunch of ominous clouds were hanging around on the drive into work. I am they type of person who is sometimes affected by the gloomy skies, but I've been surprisingly upbeat this week for such drab weather. It's really surprising since Rach is gone, cause that usually compounds the problem. I think a lot of it comes from the exercise endorphins, and that the weight loss has been going well. Pretty easy to be uplifted when things are going well.

- With today's release of both The A-Team and The Karate Kid into cinemas, it's officially an 80's Friday. That means put on your most brightly colored message T-Shirt, lace up your Converse All-Stars, and blast that New Wave station you created on My plans for the evening include one, or possibly both of these movies, depending on the weather.If the rain stays away, I'll be on my bike this afternoon. If it doesn't 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You love me, You really love me.... but why does food hate me?

The Flying Nun made an impassioned Oscar acceptance speech that's been well parodied since the moment she uttered the words "You love me, you really love me." I'm not going to go so far as to say my usage of it is new or unusual, but it is heartfelt in regards to my thanks to all of you who helped me in my efforts to win this quarters USA Triathlon photo caption poll.

Yesterday morning, with only one day left before the poll closed, I was down by over 50 votes. With the help of readers, some social networking friends, and my mother, we're now up by over 100 votes with only 2 hours left til the poll closes. I don't want to jinx anything, but it seems pretty likely that we're going to wrap this thing up with a win at noon. This means were likely to be taking home the prize pack consisting of a new Rudy Project Zuma helmet and Zyon sunglasses. The Zuma is lighter and offers better design and protection than our current base model Slinger helmets (I do love my Slinger though). And the Zyon glasses offer the top of the line vision protection and 0 distortion lenses that will definitely be an upgrade over Rach's current sunglasses.

Thanks again for your help.

Now on to less happy thoughts for a bit. Yesterday, I started the morning at 313.2, which is good. But after dinner I weighed 317.6! I know multiple daily weigh-ins would probably drive some people nuts, and in already healthy sized person be the sign of a potential eating disorder. But some days, like yesterday, the only way to motivate myself is to have a visual representation that even though I ate the correct number of points for the day, and have been healthy all week with the exception of one midnight snack (that was healthy and well within my extra points), that I still need to get my big butt outside, because some weight (even temporary weight) comes from just the volume of food eaten, and I've got goals I need to hit this week. Stupid laws of physics saying everything has mass and weight.

You might be wondering why I suddenly needed motivation to exercise when I've been doing so well for so long. Living here on the coast, a simple change in the direction of the wind can bring a change of seasons. As beautiful and mild as it was Tuesday, it was equally rainy and cold (lows 50's in June!) yesterday. With several races upcoming, riding in the rain is just out, and the number of bikes at the gym still doesn't support the number of wanting riders. With biking out, and swimming scheduled for today, my only option was to get out and run. And while I won't bike in the rain, running in a light rain is still better than being on an indoor track or treadmill any day.

I didn't go fast, but I went farther, averaging just under 4 MPH for just under 4 miles. It's the first time I've gone farther than a 5k since the beginning of the year. I wasn't trying for speed, and my recovery walks every few minutes were nice and slow. i did push myself a little bit though, including running both bridges on my path. This includes the Harvard (Mass Ave) bridge, which is 364 Smoots (about 1/2 mile) long, according to a unique measurement system implemented for the bridge as a fraternity prank that has now become a tradition.

I admit to finding it very frustrating that eating healthy and avoiding bad food choices can still lead to weight gain if left unchecked by exercise. It's times like these that I realize that I'll likely have to watch my weight for the rest of my life, even after I reach a healthier size. While having to worry about it basically forever doesn't appeal to me, I know that I'm capable of doing it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A mixed bag

Normally a day with a 1000 yard swim, the first use of my new jammers, and an hour and twenty minute walk through the streets of Boston would be a massive success. But I followed it all up with a late night snack of cheese, milk, a couple cookies and some salad. This sort of tempered the success, as did a bout of insomnia.

The snack was probably brought on by thirst I misdiagnosed as hunger. Oftentimes, when you're body tells you you're hungry, you're actually thirsty. Usually when I get a late night craving, I try drinking a glass of water and waiting a while to be sure I'm actually hungry. Tonight I didn't do that, and wound up eating close to a meals worth of points.

Thankfully, the workouts were already in place before the snack came into play. Today's workout called for 1900 yards in the pool, and I was anxious to try the new Jammers. They were a rousing success, and I definitely felt a lot faster in them than in my regular trunks. The way I explained them to Bengi is simply "They look fast", and she agreed. My 1000 yards were done in under half an hour, so I was on pace or ahead of pace for where I've been swimming.

Unfortunately, that extra speed might cost me a couple days of swimming. I was alternating every 50 yards between freestyle and breaststroke, and I tweaked something in my left side. I pushed through to 1000 yards, but it was uncomfortable enough that I thought it best to cut the swim short to make sure I didn't make things worse.

After dinner I planned a run, but the side was hurting enough that a walk seemed to make more sense, so walked out by the capital building and Boston Common to get a few miles in. That area of Boston is pretty at night, and pretty safe as well so I had no worries. At least not until I got home and wound up in front of the fridge. I guess it's best to remember that these things are going to happen from time to time, and the fact that it was mostly healthy stuff is important as well.

Fountain in Boston Common
The statehouse after dark


- In case you missed my post late yesterday, I'm in the running for some free swag if my caption is chosen for a USA Triathlon Photo Contest. Here's the link to the poll. My caption reads "Yeah, Matty Reed thinks he dropped me. He doesn't realize I've finished the course six times already". The poll started a couple weeks ago, and I'm in 2nd place, about 57 votes behind, and could use help in getting caught up. You can only vote once per computer, and I'd appreciate any help you can give. Thanks!

- It's too bad I caved to a late night snack, because on Monday I found myself in the McDonalds drive thru line on the way home from work and found the strength to get out of there before I ordered anything. Was pretty proud of that, and still am. I guess every day is a new day.Sometimes with all the platitudes I feel like my blog is a virtual foodaholics anonymous meeting.

- Hoping I'm up for todays workout. I've got a 4 mile run (my first run over 3 miles in forever), and a hill session of indeterminate length (until my legs give out) on the bike. Should be fun, and much needed, so I'm hoping the side is feeling better.

- Some folks seem to have been kind enough to donate to Team Tyler after visiting the link. So thanks very much for that.