Wednesday, June 29, 2011

it's all me

Rachelle and I have temporarily joined a gym. When I say temporarily it's because it's the closest gym that has a pool, but it's $100 a month PER PERSON to be a member if you're on a month to month plan. We'd need that flexibility due to our impending move. The gym we're going to right now offers a free trial week, which we're using now. When the trial week ends, we're done with them. $100 a month, even with free classes (except pilates) is not a good deal. There is another local gym that we'll be using a weeks free trial on next, sort of like gym tourists. We know this other gym is more affordable, but we don't know about the pool situation.

One of the negatives about attending an adult gym as opposed to the student-centric gym at BU is that for some reasons I started having a lot of negative feelings about myself. Sure, I was the heaviest guy I saw at FitRec, but there were other out of shape folks to the point where I didn't constantly feel out of place. I don't know what it is about the new gym, as I've seen a couple other flabby guys, but I definitely feel uncomfortable.

It had gotten to me so much in just a couple of days time, that I actually had a pretty hard time motivating myself to run yesterday. I was running in the area near the gym, and I just felt like everyone would see me running. I felt fat, and I thought everyone would be watching me and judging me, and it made me feel miserable. Plus, it was hot, so I would be slower than normal.

Then I realized the only person who was judging me was me. I've eaten OK the past couple of days, not great, not terrible, just OK. I felt like a sausage in my tri-top, and I kept worrying about it coming up. I hate running with my belly hanging out. I had to keep telling myself over and over again through the run "no one cares about what I'm doing but me". No one was watching me, and if a couple of people snickered at some fat guy running (as I always suspect people who see me are), so what?

I wound up running two miles, and even did some hill work. Well, hill work for me anyways; there are some slopes to the road behind the gym, so I gained 52 feet in total elevation over 2 miles. Not much, but better than nothing. In the heat, it felt like a lot more work that it actually was. I'm hopeful that all those running will pay off next Monday, as I fully plan on a 10k PR, even though I don't know anything about the course.

Evidently the internal chanting and pep talk paid off, as I felt less out of place at the gym once I finished my run and started swimming. We wound up doing around 2400 yards in a bit over an hour, and I felt much better than I did during the 1000 yards we did the day prior. I love using my Swimsense watch, especially with the new updates that account for almost any size of pool, and allowing me to more accurately track my weight.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The TT bike ride

Friday night, Rach and I went to a technical presentation put on by the lead engineer of the Trek Advanced Concepts Group hosted at Belmont Wheelworks. The discussion was not for the technically faint of heart as the topics included wind tunnel testing, different forms of foil shape (essentially how they bend the carbon or aluminum of the frame to be as aerodynamic as possible), yaw, and almost any other design point about a bicycle. It might sound boring but it was actually very interesting.

The shop was closing when the talk ended, so we had to wait until Saturday to ride the Speed Concepts that were brought in for test rides. Rach and I got on the bikes (the Speed Concept 7 series) and headed off for a couple of miles worth of riding. It was fun seeing Rach enjoy her ride immediately. She was down in the aero position and pushing herself, even climbing most of the hill while still in here aero tuck.

For me, it was a much different experience. While I enjoyed the light weight frame and the feel of a very nimble bike under me; it took me most of the ride to get used to the idea of an aero position. I did eventually get used to it, and found with a proper fitting I'd probably really like it. Getting used to bar end shifters and breaks was another matter entirely, and I know it would take some serious saddle time in order to adjust to that.

The real issue though, was a design flaw in the Speed Concept; the SC uses a unique clamp style to hold the aerodynamic seat post in place. Because it's a very small clamp pressed up against the post and screwed into place on the top of the top tube, it's sensitive to weight. When I first got on it, the seatpost dropped a couple of inches. Jack, our teammate and the mechanic at the shop I prefer to work with when I'm there, adjusted it again and sent me on my way. Within minutes, the seat post dropped again, and I could actually hear and feel it wiggling from side to side as I rode it.

When we got back it was clear to me that even if I could afford a Speed Concept, the design wasn't one that was meant for a person of my current weight. I found a polite way to let the designer know that this design is clearly not meant for a larger person based on that weight based failing point. He agreed, and sympathized that it's unfortunate that it didn't work for me.

Rachelle on the other hand, was ready to take hers home that day. She loved the Trek TT saddle that comes on the Speed Concept so much, we actually ordered her one on the spot, and she's really excited to start using it when it comes in.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I fought the law... and I WON!

Last weekend at the Patriot Half, I was given incorrect information from the race director at a crucial time that led me to believe I wouldn't be given the full time I planned to have in order to finish the race. When I contacted him after the race regarding the situation, he said he wasn't going to place me into the Aquabike division because they felt 
"(you) did not look ready to complete a half marathon and with the toll the heat was taking on athletes (we had many suffering from heat exhaustion) we felt it best you didn't continue. I think this was the right decision to make and I'll stand by it."
The problem here is that instead of pulling me from the course, or even addressing it with me that they thought I didn't look ready to continue, they gave me bad information, apparently intentionally bad information, in order to discourage me from continuing while they allowed others to finish. I admit it was a hot day, and I was slower on the bike than I hoped, but I felt good and ready to continue, and I was 10 minutes under my Timberman time at that point, with an easier half-marathon course ahead. There's no way it can be said that this was influenced by anything other than my size, as I was fully prepared to complete the half-marathon, and if they thought I was ill prepared to continue, they could and should have pulled me from the course as they had done to others.

Before he sent that response, I was resigned to leaving it alone; but when he told me his reasons behind my being given the wrong information; I WAS FURIOUS. In the time it took for them to give me bad info, they could have asked me how I felt, and not only would I have told them I felt good, but that while I was off my goal pace I was ahead of my prior half. They could have then made a decision not to allow me to finish if they felt I wasn't prepared. No one took a second to ask me how I felt, or if I was ready to finish the race or anything like that.

At that point, I made the decision to talk to USA Triathlon to see if there was an appeal process and to understand why I was given information that didn't match with the decisions made in regards to other competitors. When I provided the context of the discussion to the head of the USAT referees here was his response:
Event organizers are allowed to set deadlines or cut-off times for each part of their race.  The race director enforces those times.  From your letter, it appears that the race director was somewhat ambiguous in his reply to your question concerning the run cut-off, but you were given the sense that you probably could not make it and you voluntarily dropped out of the event.  Later you discovered that the cut-off was not enforced after all.  Had you known that you would not have dropped out.  While you have no case for appeal, since you elected to drop out, even though based upon information that was later changed, I think it would be a fair request for you to ask the RD to reinstate you in the Aquabike.  He may have reason not to, that I am unaware of, but you can certainly make the request.
When I sent this to the Race Director, he agreed to make the change to put me in the Aquabike. It doesn't make up for the fact that I didn't get the chance to finish the race, but at least it's a result that matches the part of the race i was allowed to finish.

With that out of the way, my focus has turned to the upcoming races. Rach is working on the July and August training schedules, and we're using a free trial week at a local sports club to get some extra pool time. We're packing for our move (to wherever that will be) so we'll be balancing ramped up mileage and moving prep. I did a 7 mile run/walk on Sunday, and we'll be swimming today and I have softball and some running tonight.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm going to ride a TT bike!

I'm really excited for Friday night. Belmont Wheelworks is having an event this weekend with Carl Matson who is the lead design engineer of the Trek Advanced Concepts group. I don't know what the hell that means but I think advanced concepts == FAST! Friday night Rach and I are going over there for about 90 minutes to try out a TT bike or two and watch a technical presentation on the bikes.

Also, one thing Rach mentioned to me tonight is that I do a great job of studying up on nutrition, technology, equipment and training, but injury prevention and rehab are not my strong suits. I expected her to say she'd teach me. Nope, she wants me to do it myself, and was laughing at me for the way I was stretching. I guess since I'm going to be running more than ever before these next couple months, keeping away the injuries will be critical.

We're going for a 60 mile ride on Saturday as we start prepping for the Ironman. I have to say I think these rides will be fun, working harder to get in more mileage but not having to worry about doing too much climbing work considering how flat the Rev3 course is. Also, because we DNFed last weekend, we have to schedule at least one more race to get USAT rankings this season. That's important to me because it allows me to track my year over fitness and progress.

Finally, thanks to everyone for their comments following last weeks race. I still haven't heard if the RD will place me in the AquaBike but USAT head of referees that I had a strong case to ask for that, though I didn't have a strong case to appeal my results as I'm the one who walked off the course.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Patriot Half-Ironman: Lessons learned

4 days after the race, and I think I've had enough time to mull over what went right and what went wrong this weekend, and the lessons I've learned:

- More Training - This should seem obvious, but I felt ready for this race. My times were faster than Timberman, so that tells me progress was made; but I was still fairly close to the bike cutoff. We trained longer distances than last year, but we still need to do more. We didn't miss many workouts this summer, but the goal now is zero missed workouts.

- Less Weight - my cycling has improved quite a bit, and what's holding me back, literally, is my front. I think about how much easier the climbing would have been if I'd been just 30 pounds lighter. It takes a lot less energy to climb the less weight you're hauling up those hills. So 30 pounds is my goal to lose in the next 80 days. Yes, it's a challenge to accomplish, but it's only a couple pounds a week, and it will make my finishing the race that much easier.

- More Fluids - I'm going to be drinking a lot more fluids, mostly in the form of water, from here on out. It was a hot day and I couldn't take on enough fluids during the bike. I need to enhance how much fluid I can carry on the bike at once. Whether that means a seat mounted bottle rack, a frame mounted Speedfill bottle, or if I start riding with a Camelbak, I'm going to make sure hydration is no longer an issue in my training or racing.

- Better Race Prep - It would have been really hard to prepare for the heat on that course with the few warm days we've had this year in Boston. But I could have done longer trainer rides in our very warm house. I should have prepared for the worst instead of just hoping for the best.

- Transition Practice - I had around 13 minutes in transition time on Saturday. I need to find ways to get through transition faster.

- Never Stop - If I hadn't left the course voluntarily I would have finished. From now on, I don't care how much time is left when I leave T2, I'm going out on the run course and doing my damnedest to finish even if they tell me I won't get a time. Timberman they would have had to yank me kicking and screaming off that course, and I made it under the time limit. I would have made it under the original time limit on Saturday too, but I let the number get into my head instead of just finishing. So, if I'm last and being a burden on some tired and hot course volunteers next time, they'll just have to deal with it I guess

USA Triathlon head referee said I didn't have grounds to appeal my result, but did say because the Race Director gave me wrong information, he doesn't see a reason why they shouldn't reinstate me in the Aquabike division. I'm waiting to hear back from the race director.

At least I don't have to wait long to have my revenge. While our next triathlon is a few months away as currently scheduled, I'm doing the Harvard Pilgrim 10k at Patriot Place on the 4th of July. I got a free race entry through Active Advantage, and I'm going to set a 10k PR that morning.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Race Report: Patriot Half Ironman

The night before the race, literally everything was going according to plan. We got to the hotel on Friday night about the time I expected, even with a late start and a stop for lunch, got our packets, played some games at the amusements place across the street, and had a great pasta dinner (Olive Garden FTW). We got everything packed and ready and even had time to get a couple last minute items before a pretty good night of sleep.

Evidently this prayer at packet pickup didn't do us much good
Race morning, we ate, packed, and checked out of the hotel. We got to the race site plenty early to set up, organize, and even spend time with some Wheelworks Multisport teammates. I was feeling confident about everything other than the swim at this point, and my nerves had pretty much completely disappeared by that point anyways. When race time comes around these days, unless there's something very unusual going on, I'm too busy in mental preparation to be nervous.

Then race was delayed by at least 1/2 hour as people who apparently can't figure out how to read a clock were still in line for their packets. Most big races have a little delay at the start, but half an hour for a race this size is really unacceptable. Especially when you factor in how much this affects the race for everyone by moving the heart of the race deeper into the afternoon, and that there was a 3 hour window the day before that could have handled the entire race field.

The Swim - water, water everywhere
After watching my buddy John Young start his first 70.3, the only thing I was thinking about as I stood there waiting for my wave to start was how I just had to get through the swim. I knew I was stronger on the bike than last year and my run was my run, but I had to get through the swim first. At least the sighting was good due to overcast skies that made the buoys really stand out. We haven't been swimming as much as I'd prefer due to our lack of a gym membership right now, and I really thought that would hurt me. Especially since the last pre-race swim we did during taper had me feeling not so hot about my swim.

The swim start on Friday afternoon looked like the swim start on Saturday morning
My wave was big but not overly so and I picked a spot to the back and right so that my tendency to swim a bit to the left wouldn't see me straying inside the buoys and wouldn't see me run over by too many in my wave. I felt pretty strong to start and reached the halfway buoy inside half an hour. I took a quick breather and then kept going, and wound up crossing the line in under an hour.
Swim Results
2011 Patriot: 58:44
2010 Timberman: 1:02:50
Improvement - 4:06

Transition 1 - You better "watch" what you're doing
As usual my T1 was slow, but it was at least 30 seconds longer than it needed to be. I haven't been wearing a watch to time my swims, but I put one on for the race and forgot to remove it before I tried to take my arms out of my wetsuit. Other than that, it was a slow but uneventful transition. At this point in my racing, though minutes matter, I'd rather be careful and get everything ready before heading off on a 56 mile ride than rush through it. Overall it was a smoother version of slow, and I learned that eating a gel pack as soon as I get to my spot is helpful for how fast I can recover from the swim.
2011 Patriot: 7:33
2010 Timberman: 8:46
Improvement: 1:13

Bike - What is that giant orange ball in the sky?
As I was swimming towards transition, I noticed the clouds were beginning to break. By the time I was on the bike and on my way out of transition, the sun had poked through the clouds and the day started to brighten up. I felt very good as I got going on the bike, and was moving well enough that I made sure to hold back a bit. I was looking for a 15 MPH average on the day, and I didn't want to burn out too fast. At 10 miles in, I was averaging just about 15 MPH and things were going well. The first bottle hand-up was uneventful; I tossed the old bottle, took on a new one and kept on trucking. When I got to the halfway point for the first loop, I was just under 15 MPH but had gotten through the biggest hills on the course with no problems.

During the second loop, the sun started to really bear down on the course. I started passing a few folks, but was really getting hot. The water and sports drink being handed out on the course was now quite warm, and doing nothing to cool the body temperature. I was definitely slower as I passed the first bottle hand-up of the second loop. Unfortunately, I dropped one of the bottles during hand up, and didn't think it would hurt if I continued on without it. Little did I realize the sun was still going to get hotter and I had forgotten the last half of the course has fewer but taller hills. The second bottle hand up went better. The last 6 miles of the bike course dragged on, and I wound up walking about 150 feet combined of two hills. The course on it's own wasn't that tough but the heat certainly affected me. I can say I passed a few people right near the end of the bike, a couple of which wound up DNFing on the bike.
2011 Patriot: 4:12:26
2010 Timberman: 4:16:50
Improvement: 4:24

Transition 2 - 5 minutes? I barely even remember this!
When I pulled into transition, all I could think was "Ok, the course cutoff was supposed to be 4 PM, and we started at least 30 minutes late. What does that mean? How much time do I have left?" I got through transition as fast as I could, and got out onto the run course.
2011 Patriot: 5:23
2010 Timberman: 4:48
Regression: :35

Run - Anyone know how to put the wheels back on?
Here's where things go bad: As I'm a few hundred feet into the run, I asked the Race Director how much time is left before cutoff. I had no idea what time we actually started but could account for all but a few minutes of T1, and guessed I was about 5:25 (which was very close). He told me "2 1/2 or 3 hours".

At that point, I had a decision to make; do I go out and try to finish knowing my best race ever is at least 15 minutes longer than the time cutoff or do I stop, and go cheer on teammates while waiting for Rach and John to finish. Based on the fact that I wouldn't be able to finish in time, I made the decision to stop and support my friends.

Post-Race - Medic! Medic!
I got some food and headed over to find a shady spot near the finishing chute when my cell phone rang (I picked it up after I stopped, didn't carry it during the race). It was Rachelle on the phone, and she was in the hospital. She'd had heart palpitations during Mile 7 of the run. So with the help of a couple of volunteers I got all of our stuff out of transition, got the Wheelworks tent taken down and was screaming down the highway as  fast as I could. When I got there, she was her normal old self, doing so well that she was talking my ear off. She said when she arrived she didn't feel well, but her cold IV fluids must have brought her around. A few tests later and she was good to go and told she was safe to travel. In fact, she was doing so well she got bored and took a self-portrait as she often does when she's looking for entertainment

This isn't even the goofiest picture she's taken of herself this week
Post-Post-Race - WHAT THE WHAT!??!! &^%$#*&!!
Wondering how John and some of our other friends did, I started reading the race results, and I saw people with finishing times between 9 and 10 hours. Now let me be immediately state that I'm very happy that the race director made the decision to allow these brave souls the ability to finish after such a long day on the course. With my 8:57 at Timberman 70.3, I know how hard it is to push yourself to finish after a day that long. I was lucky to be in a wave that gave me that amount of time at Timberman.

That said, I'm pissed at the race director. If he'd told me they weren't going to pull anyone off the course, I clearly I would have made a different choice. When I asked the Timberman RD, he knew exactly how much time I had left on course. I'm also more than a little pissed at myself for leaving the course regardless of what the RD said. It's just that I wanted to be there for John and Rachelle though if my efforts weren't going to wind up in the results column. I was quite content with my suffering on the bike and would have finished the run if only I'd know.

I did appeal my DNF to USAT on the grounds that I didn't finish not because of the cutoff, but because the RD provided me bad information. He changed how long I had to finish the race while I was on the course by telling me a different time than anyone else, and I should be credited with the Aquabike completion. Maybe I'm wrong, and either way it won't take the sting out of not finishing. And maybe, I wasn't supposed to finish the race so I could be there to get that phone call from Rachelle and be there for her at the hospital. But just like with my DNF at MA State Triathlon last year, I'm going to take this experience and learn from it to prepare for Rev3 Cedar Point. Plus I'm just glad Rachelle is ok, and now safely off in New Orleans for a work conference.

Though it could be worse, I could be this guy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Race Week: Patriot Half-Ironman - Day 3: Taper

When I first started doing triathlons, I figured the only thing I'd do that was worse than than running would be running uphill. Training in the heat, sweating, pain the undercarriage from long hours on the bike; none of these compare to the hardest part of triathlon; the dreaded taper.

It's now been 5 days since I had a substantial workout, and it's driving me a bit crazy. I never taper more than a day or two for shorter races, so this definitely feels weird. My little aches and pains are being alternately helped and hurt by my sitting around; my knee and ankle feel better while my hip feels worse. None of them will keep me from racing or hinder my performance (I hope!).

Even worse than the aches and pains is the fact that my body is used to expending ridiculous amounts of energy. Instead of ripping through calories being tired and getting some extra sleep, I sit around on my butt and stay up late because I have too much energy. I've been up til 2 AM three nights this week, and that's not the goal of taper week AT ALL.

So, what exactly have I been doing with all the extra time not spent working out? Here's a glimpse into my week as a man of leisure:

- Going further into the rabbit hole of doping in the professional cycling ranks. Some day I'll post about it
- Watching the start of summer TV season:White Collar, In Plain Sight, Covert Affairs, et al.
- The NHL playoffs ended tonight and the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. Playoff hockey is amazing, and I'll miss it every day until next season starts. If you don't hear from me tomorrow, send the Marines.
- Tune up the bikes a little with new tubes and tires and a lot of longing looks

Oh, and one other thing; eating. The workouts aren't happening, but my body seems to think they are. Thankfully, I've done pretty well with my food choices and portion control, other than insane cravings for cheese.

Thursday morning Rach and I will break the taper a bit with a final 1.2 mile swim in the lake and a short bike in the afternoon. I can't wait to shake the rust off.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Race Week: Patriot Half-Ironman - Day 2: Fears

Yesterday, I listed my goals. Today I list my fears. Having fears and talking about them doesn't mean I'm not confident, it merely means these are the concerns I've thought about in terms of the race:

1. race day weather - Being a bigger athlete, hot weather affects me more than most. The weather reports have been changing a lot with reports of everything from 80 degrees and sunny with a few clouds down to high 60's with some showers. Cloudy with a little rain I'm ok with. 80 degrees is about the top end of what I'd want to deal with, and anything hotter and I can really see my performance suffering.

2. climbing - In one of our longer training rides at the beginning of may, it turned into a veritable suffer fest when due to a slight bike problem I couldn't do much climbing. We did 40 miles, with a little over half the climbing we'll see Saturday, and I wound up walking a lot of those small hills. I know the bike issues aren't likely as I've gotten a tune up and it's behaving well, but climbing has never been my strong suit, so I'm hoping I can build up momentum after the first couple hills and just keep rolling throughout.

3. Burning out in the swim - Im still getting used to my wetsuit and my last 1.2 mile swim will be tonight or tomorrow, so I'm hoping to get it in, and not feel completely wasted and dreading the first hill on the bike. Last year leading up to Timberman I was swimming daily. Without the membership at the gym right now, it's 2x a week. One thing I didn't have at Season Opener that I will have at Patriot is 5 Hour Energy to down before the swim. I used to take it in T1 to help recover from the swim, but I figure I can use GU for that in transition and have the caffeine help me through the swim.

Honestly, that's really all I'm worried about. I got a nice new front wheel for my bike that now matches my rear (except in color), put one of the expensive tires Rach won last fall on it, and took it out for a short ride. Its lighter and the wheel rolls better. and  as I really push to lose weight for Rev3, I'll probably look at  some more upgrades (and if I lose enough weight, aerobars!) to prep for that race.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Race Week: Patriot Half-Ironman - Day 1: Goals

I've come up with a new format for how I want to relay and record my thoughts as I prepare for my "A" races from now on. There will be a topic for each day, so I can stay organized and talk through what I am thinking. Monday is about my goals for the race. I'll use comparable races, current fitness, and some  other measurables to set challenging but realistic goals for the race ahead.

Patriot Half-Iron is set in a very picturesque area of Massachusetts, not far from Cape Cod. The central point of the race is Cathedral Camp, a Catholic summer camp on shore of Long Pond in E Freetown MA. I've never raced Patriot Half before, but we did race the Minuteman sprint triathlon thats held at the same time and was a spectator at the Cranberry Trifest last year, which uses many of the same roads for the bike course. I reviewed my results and race report for Minuteman Sprint in preparation for my goalsetting.

Obviously my most comparable race is the blogs namesake, Timberman. The difference being that Timberman has a few long very difficult climbs on the bike with the remainder of the race being mostly flat, while the Patriot course is a lot more little climbs, mostly with lower difficulty throughout the span of the bike course. Across the 2 laps of the 28 mile course at Patriot, the elevation gain indicates it's close to the same overall amount of climbing, which will be a challenge but with shorter climbs hopefully momentum will be in my favor.

I honestly don't remember the run very well at Minuteman other than to say it was hot and humid, and I was tired afterwards. My running has progressed some, so hopefully I'll have the legs left after the bike to show that.

Based on all of this plus my recent training, here are my goals:

Swim - 52 minutes. Since our gym membership ended, I haven't been able to swim as much as I'd like, but at least the swiming we are doing has been outside. Frankly, with the limited swimming we've done the past couple weeks, I'll be happy with any swim that gets me in before the cutoff.

Transition 1 - 5 minutes. Getting out of my wetsuit, getting my tri-top on, eating a quick bite and getting on my bike, even with the longer run out at this course should not take more than 5 minutes. But I'm still at the point where I'd rather slowly do this right than miss something.

Bike - I'm shooting for 3:30 here, which is a 16 MPH average. My cycling has been strong for the past month plus, and we've done longer training rides for this race than we did for Timberman last year.

Transitions 2 - 3 minutes. Parking the bike, switching my number around and getting my shoes on shouldn't take very long.

Run - 3:00. I don't know how hilly this course is, but I'm shooting for a half-marathon PR at this race. Maybe I'll be nowhere near this, but I'm setting a goal that lets me push myself for a chance at a really good overall time.

Overall - a 7:30 70.3 would be over an hour improvement versus Timberman so I'm really going to shoot for this goal, and if it means I have to dig deep during the run, then I'll just have to dig deep.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"I feel happy of myself"

We're just over a week away from Patriot half-ironman right now, and we're wrapping up the hard training this week. Last night, as a way to check/work on my fitness at climbing hills, I went over to the overpass by my house, where there are back to back overpasses, plus a walking ramp that taking going across these in either direction allows for various angles of climbing. They aren't long, but the walking ramp is pretty steep, and between the various slopes it gives me a good chance to work on climbing a little bit. In all I did 12 climbs, and I was so happy with how I did, I felt like this kid!

I've got a review post coming tomorrow on Generation UCAN nutrition products.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A rare night off

With the pre-Patriot taper within sight, I took a rare night off last night. Rach and I had an invite to a screening of "Falling Skies"; a sci-fi/drama in the vein of Battlestar Galactica. We actually got an invite to the pre-screening cocktail hour. Free dinner and a free beer were a nice change of pace from dinners at home and hard workouts. Because of the Bruins game, we didn't actually stay for the screening, but were lucky enough to meet one of the shows primary stars, the lovely Moon Bloodgood, who is playing the love interest of Noah Wyle who will be playing the lead. The coolest part is that the show is set on the road between Concord and Boston, though it's not actually filmed here.

Tonight, I go back to training; a 1 mile swim at Upper Mystic and then home for a 30 minute run. Tomorrow will be an hour of hill repeats, which I am OH so looking forward too (not!) Thursday brings more running and another swim.

Monday, June 6, 2011

featured on a blog and battling through a long ride

I have some friends who rail against the idea of facebook and twitter, calling them time wasters and not good for much. I have long disagreed, with the argument that they allow you to connect with new people, and just as importantly reconnect with people from your past. One of those people I've reconnected with is Patrick Davis.

Following my freshman year of college, I returned home and worked at OfficeMax while taking classes at the local community college. I worked for Pat in the electronics department and he was always very kind to me, teaching me about music, art, and even led me to live the vegetarian lifestyle for 3 years until the doctors told me my body was dealing properly with that diet choice. We lost touch when I moved to Columbus, and it's amazing to see us both pick up cycling and hockey in the years between then and now.

Pat was kind enough to ask me a few questions and posted them on his well-written and photographed blog. I'm honored to be the subject of anything, especially when it's not the butt of Rachelle's jokes for once. Take a read, and make sure to look around for Patricks photos on the site. He has a real eye for it.

Saturday was our last really long training ride, planned for 55 miles with several of our teammates turned out to be a real adventure. We started with a group of 11 and somehow lost one of our most experienced riders within just a few miles. Our ride leader went back to find him, so we carried on led by a rider who knew the route but maybe didn't remember that this was supposed to be a 15 MPH ride; we went out a bit hot, averaging around 17.

Then we started climbing...

I have to tell you I was really happy with my ability to stay with the team for first 1/3rd of the ride, including some faster sections and some decent climbing. Yes, I was off the back a couple times, but I managed to catch up on the descent. Everything was going pretty well until on the backside of concord I head a loud POP! followed by the light tinkling of metal against metal. An all too familiar sound of a broken spoke.

Thankfully, I've learned a lot since the last time I broke a spoke; I dug out my multi-tool and used the spoke wrench to tighten up the wheel the best I could, and Rach and I headed to Wheelworks. A 6 mile ride back to the shop and $10 and 10 minutes later, and we were back on the road good as new. Days like that really make me love Wheelworks even more.

Pulling out of Wheelworks we were 30 miles in and needed at least 20 miles more. We decided to head up our normal route on the Minuteman to get in some relatively flat time in the saddle. As we made our way to the base of the trail there's a street crossing by a gas station. The past couple of times we've taken this route, I've tried to turn a gas station too soon and this time it cost me. As Rach called out to me that I was turning too soon, I managed to lock up my front wheel and down I went.

Lying on the pavement is something I've managed to avoid for the most part and thankfully this crash wasn't too bad. I wound up with scratches on my knee, ankle and wrist and a pretty decent scrape on my right thigh, but I was able to finish riding. Plus my new saddle worked out really well, which is a good sign for Patriot, now just 2 weeks away.
- The weather was beautiful this weekend, which gave us the opportunity to swim Friday. A little over a half mile on Friday, and I'm getting more comfortable with my wetsuit.

- I didn't run on Friday because my knees hurt from Thursday, so running every day got broken pretty quickly. But I did run on Sunday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Chase Corporate Challenge Boston

It's been noted by a few people in the past 48 hours that I sound less than confident about my running. In my teenage years, I was not confident about most things. other than I would be a writer, and one day own a lightsabre (I'm 50% of the way there; now about that lightsabre). I grew out of a lot of that, as experience brings wisdom. I sometimes regret my lack of confidence in my youth, especially when it came to athletics. Sparky Anderson once famously said "pain don't hurt", and he's right; if I'd been less afraid of pain and some short term suffering, I might have flourished in areas I quickly dismissed.

My lack of confidence with running has been mostly a learned behavior, and it's one I need to work on breaking. Performances like last night will hopefully help me to continue to thwart that problem. It was a cool and breezy night, the opposite of last years event, and I was prepped for some suffering. I haven't been putting in a lot of distance lately, mostly pretty short runs. Nothing like a race to change all that.

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Me and my co-workers

I knew I couldn't run the whole thing and expect to make a good time, so I went with a 5 minute run/2 minute walk plan. This worked well until the halfway point, when I was feeling tired, so I switched to 5 minute run/3 minute walk. I followed this to precision until the last walk break, when I decided I wanted to put in everything I could, so I only walked 1 minute for the last break.

Last year I could have sworn I was faster than the 52:05 the chip timing said. I didn't have any electronics to go by, and I walked most of the race in hot, muggy conditions. Based on my experiences with hot races in the past year, I probably was closer to my official time than I thought. This year thankfully, I had my Garmin 305, and though I started it about 40 seconds early when I hit the very first timing mat, it worked very well. My official time this year was 47:35, and my Garmin was just off at 48:12, but showed the additional distance.

For a mostly flat course on a cool day, going about twice the distance I'm used to right now, I'm thrilled with the nearly 5 minute improvement over last years time. Most importantly, i wasn't the least bit tempted to just walk over to our house at the turnaround.


- This weekend is the last big bike ride before the race: 55 miles. We may go down near the course to ride even, to get an idea of what it's like. 

- Read this entry on Rach's blog about how we got screwed by our gym. No more access to FitRec, a month earlier than they said we would be shut out.

- I'm now a mere $683 from finishing my fundraising. It's nice to be making such good progress.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Another "National Run Day" blog post

By now, I'm sure you're aware it's National Run Day (notice it's all in caps so as to denote how official and important this is), because everyone with a blog who didn't already have a post planned for today has a post about this today. I've actually been planning this for a couple days, so my post about National Run Day doesn't count as a last minute fill in.

You see, I've been trying to run for as long as I can remember (cue the "dreamy music and fade to sepia color memory sequence"):

- In elementary school, I was sure I would at some point discover I could use The Force or become a superhero. During recess, one of our playground attendants would carry a stopwatch to keep an eye on the time we spent playing. I used to ask/beg/make her time me running some distance from where she stood to the monkey bars and back. This is probably the last time I was ever fast.

- In Junior High, I played Tight End in football, because it was the position that involved the most running, and I was pretty tall. I was never very good mostly because I lacked confidence. I was often afraid of making mistakes, and so I wasn't in the position to succeed. Even then, I wasn't really fast enough to run with any of the fast players, and was even demoted to play with the 8th graders as a 9th grader to get me some game experience in hopes of boosting my confidence. It didn't happen.

- In High School, I figured out that maybe I didn't have to be fast, I just had to be able to stick stuff out. So I signed up for the 100 mile club. The 100 mile club was a group that got together to run 5 miles a day a few days a week until we each reached 100 miles run. I tried it 2 years, and I think the furthest I ever got was 50ish miles. At this point I realized I was neither fast nor endurant and returned to marching band believing I'd see the last of running outside of family softball and football games.

Flashing forward to 2007 (instead of sepia and dreamy music, let's go with a grainy color reel and whatever was the pop music of the time):

- Wanting to get in better shape but being nearly 400 lbs, I knew running was not where I wanted to start. Not even thinking about the 2 ten speeds I had in my garage, I saw a flyer for a 10k walking race, and 40 pounds lost later, I was still walking.

Since then I've been trying to transition from walking to running. The best I've managed was to shuffle/job my way through some 5k's/10k's. But in the end, I'm usually left feeling disappointed in my performance because it's been so hard to motivate myself to run instead of other workouts or on top of other workouts. The sad part is I know that running is where I can make the most improvement in my triathlon times, not to mention making my road races that much more enjoyable.

So now, here on National Run Day, I've already run (this morning, just a "quick" mile before work), but I've decided that if I'm ever going to do this, it needs to be an every day thing. I can't run just once every other day, or even a few times a week. I pledge to run at least a little every day, but with a goal of making a routine out of something I'm not good at until I really do become good at it.