Optimism Vs. Euphoria

February 16, 2014

I signed up yesterday for the Club Nationals triathlon that is a part of the Chicago Triathlon.  To say I’m excited about this is a mild understatement.  After ZERO races in 2013… to even be able to THINK about a big race is exciting.  And to feel good enough to be SERIOUS about it is even MORE exciting.  I’m just trying to temper that enthusiasm with some reality, but it’s hard.

Last year as I struggled with physical issues I tried to tell myself that I didn’t need big races as motivation.  That “just training” was good enough.  That big races just put too much pressure on me.  Yet as I looked back at my good years and bad years with fitness, the good ones ALWAYS had an “A” race as a part of them.  But I also looked a little closer at the bad years too.  What it really boils down to is pushing too big a mileage at too heavy a weight.  In 2007 I did a marathon.  I did too many high mileage weeks, had a poor result and ended up with a stress fracture of the pelvis that kept me out for 9 months of 2008.  I was able to get back into it in 2009 and get my weight back under control, had some good races and a lot of fun from ’09-’11, but then made the mistake of bumping my mileages up too much in 2012 trying to get up to half Ironman distances.  I never got there, trained at too heavy a weight, had a poor result and ended up hurting my knees.  Which led to me being out all of last year.  Can you see the pattern?  Too much weight + too much mileage= injury.


Like an idiot.

I signed up for the “Triple Challenge” in Chicago.  See, there are 3 races that weekend.  A “super sprint” on Saturday (375m/10K/2.5K), and then a Sprint (750m/22K/5K) and an Olympic (1.5K/40K/10K) on Sunday.  And if you do the Triple, you do all of them.  On Sunday, you go off in the first wave (6am) and do the sprint, then you run from transition right back out to the water and do the Olympic.

What could possibly go wrong?

So as you can see… I’ve done it again.  I let my optimism about feeling better turn to a cloud of euphoria and when I came out of the haze I was signed up for… what?

I. Regret. NOTHING.

Here is how I look at it.  Even all three races, if done back to back… to back… still don’t equal a half Ironman.  And with one race on Saturday a few of those miles come off the top for Sunday.  I also like how it breaks up the event(s) so that you are not on any one sport for hours.  I’m also starting off the year with a better attitude, base and plan than in years (read: foolish endeavors) past.  None of the mileages scare me and now it’s a matter of getting stronger at each one, not “getting to” each one.

What I have to be careful of is overtraining or over competing.  I need one or two sprints and an olympic between now and August.  I will do some other stuff, but that is really all I “need”.  I also need to focus on weight.  I am VERY close to 190 now (192 by my scale).  Ideally, I should be racing between 165 and 175 (obviously, the lighter the better).  If I shoot for the middle, I have 6 months to lose 20 pounds.  This is a very reachable goal.  I feel pretty confident that (if the snow ever melts) I can do this.

So, for the first time in a couple of years, I have a real goal.  An achievable goal.  And I feel good, all at the same time.  I’m not going to Chicago to win anything (except a club championship!).  I’m going to get my money’s worth and compete though…!

The 300

February 13, 2014


No… not this guy.  But I like the attitude.  This is the time of year when it’s time to get fierce.  You have been building a base (or not) and (im)patiently waiting for the weather to get better.  Biding your time in the pool or on a trainer.  Maybe even risking the elements.  But with the promise of spring comes the reality that if you want anything out of this season other than finisher medals and race shirts, it’s time to start digging a little deeper.  Time for “swims” to turn into “workouts”.  Time to add things like “tempo” and “interval” to your runs or rides.  Time to face your weaknesses and put them at the front of the list of things to work on…  By the way… I LOVE being able to talk like this… :)  After the sad debacle that was my 2013 season (that wasn’t), I’m thrilled to be even THINKING about races, much less already racing.

The top of my list of things to work on is swim speed.  Let’s face it.  I suck.  I didn’t get dubbed “driftwood” in my first season by accident.  I earned that name.

I’m fairly strong on the bike if I get enough miles in and I will be fine on the run once I lose more weight.  I still need to vary my workouts to increase speed, but the swim is my project for this year.  Yes, I can swim a long way (for so early in the season).  That’s good, but I’m racing short, fast races this year, so it only helps so much.

So to get me started (and give me somewhere to park the information so I can find it later), I’m going to post a couple of workouts.  I probably won’t swim more than 3000 yards again this year, but I need to swim 1000-2000 faster.  So… It’s time to put up the pool toys (pull buoy, paddles, fins) and get busy.  I’m not a fan of pool workouts that get you out of the pool to flop on the deck for push ups or planks, etc.  I look like a seal.  Also, the lanes at the ARC are usually so full, if you get out, you lose your lane.  Besides, I haven’t seen any triathlons yet where you get out of the water and do mountain climbers in transition…  So, here we go…

Workout 1:  The 300s

  • 300 (200 warmup, 100 sprint) 30 sec break between each
  • 300 (100 swim, 100 sprint, 100 swim)
  • 300 (100 sprint, 200 swim)
  • 300 (swim)
  • 300 (100 swim, 200 sprint)
  • 300 (100 sprint, 100 swim, 100 sprint)
  • 300 (200 sprint, 100 swim)
  • 300 (sprint)
  • 100 cool down

2500 yards total.  100 sprints are done all out (90% effort or more).  200 sprints are done race pace plus whatever you can give.  300 sprint is redline.

Focus is on strong pull, flat in the water, body rotation.

Workout 2:

  • 300 warmup (swim or drill, your call)
  • 300 faster by 50s.  30 second break
  • 400 race pace for sprint tri distance.  1 minute break
  • 10 X 100  First 100 at 80% of max to set pace.  All others at that pace or faster.  15 sec break between
  • 200 cool down

2200 yards total.  Faster by 50s start out slow and then speed up each 50, last 50 is a redline sprint.

Focus on FORM.  Head low in the water.  Chest down.

So.  Here we go.  My first race sets of the year.  I will either come out of the water looking like the guy in the picture, ready to rip the season apart… or I will need help getting out of the pool because my arms ceased to work and I should really just consider sticking to duathlons…

The “plan”

January 21, 2014

confusing-road-sign-large-web-viewI REEEEEEAAAALLLLY don’t want to make “the plan”.  I’m having too much fun just stretching out my mileages again.  But I know, eventually, I will have to.  I think I’ve got about a month left to build my base back up again, but by the looks of my workouts, unless I’m going to attempt another Half Ironman this year… I’m kinda already there.  I am almost double my run and swim max for Olympic distance events…

So.  Now what…?  I’m not used to being here until April (or worse).

I guess the first thing I need to do is decide what to DO this year.  I’ve been going through and considering events, but I don’t have a “plan” or an “A” race.  Maybe Club Nationals in Chicago, but I still don’t know what race.  It appears from the website as if both races (Sprint and Oly) start at the same time?  If so, that means I’m only doing one race.  Not a bad thing.  Just a thing.  There is a “Supersprint” on Saturday that might be fun.  But it doesn’t look like there is a Half option.

All of this pondering occurred while I was spinning on Sunday.  Mostly just to keep from passing out (I ran 5 at Rock Bridge in the morning… big mistake).  After my debacle at Oklahoma and then my trouble last year, I doubted myself at half Iron distance (remember those “hurdles”?).  Would I ever do another Half Ironman?  Three months ago I would have said no.  But now, things have changed.  The answer is yes, but only under certain conditions.  First, I have GOT to be at my ultimate goal weight of 170 or less.  This is a hard, fast rule.  If I’m not there by June, I’m out.  There are lots of shorter races.  Second, it has to be a destination race.  I’m not going to do a half in Kansas (or the like).  All that distance and all that ugly at the same time will surely rip my soul apart.  Nope, I want mountains, ocean, big city, great scenery and/or a tough course.  Around Lake Hefner and down the roughest roads in Oklahoma county…?  No offense, but I grew up there.  No thanks.  Especially in 90 degree heat.

So what I’m really saying is I’m definitely doing races this year.  And going as far as I can reasonably go given my state of fitness.  Oly’s for sure and MAYBE a half, but only if I make weight, and it’s a cool race.

Now, about the weight thing.  To make weight by June I need to lose 31 pounds.  That is just short of 2 pounds per week.  Definitely reasonable.  I would like to do it faster than that, but I didn’t put it on that fast so I can’t expect more than a pound or two a week and that only if I work hard.

I like the longer workouts because they burn more calories, but I also know I need more intensity.  Joe Company (our spin instructor/trainer/all around great guy) was talking about intervals and intensity vs. distance.  I agree completely with what he was saying and part of my training “plan” is to add more speed work and interval training in to some of my workouts.  I even experimented with this in the pool yesterday.  Joe talked about a couple of different techniques for adding intensity to a bike trainer set and then mentioned and demonstrated an interval training technique called Tabata.  In a nutshell, if 1 is standing still and 5 is Redline, you set your pace at a 4 (race pace) and then go 20 seconds at 4, then 10 seconds at 5, then recover at 4, then back up to 5.  Repeat this 8 times for a set.  It will make you see stars.  I tried it in the pool and just swam a half lap at 4, then the other half at 5.  I could only make it 4 repeats before I was hugging the wall, trying not to barf.  I think adding some of this in will be good.  In a sadistic, sick sort of way.

I also want to start up speed work again.  We used to do track workouts that were awesome.  We do hill repeats and speed work (sort of) on the bike in the summer, but we never do hill repeats or speed work on our runs as a club.  I need more variety.  Of course it will probably mean riding and running alone more…  When given the option between running a tough hill repeat workout or taking ANOTHER group ride around Big Tree, the Big Tree ride usually wins… :)

I really like taking it offroad too.  Mountain biking and trail running are just different.  But still crazy fun workouts.  You don’t have to be good at them.  They just make you use different muscles, help with balance and coordination and, most importantly, get you off the road!

Now…  How the hell do I cram all of THAT into a “plan”?  I have so much work to do…



All because of a gear puller

January 27, 2013

About 10 years ago I woke up one morning, got my coffee (as usual) and started wandering the house, looking for my wife.  She was pregnant with our daughter at the time.  I found her standing at the open door to the garage, staring at my nifty 57 Chevy pickup… shaking her head.  I asked her what was wrong and in a very matter of fact way she said “We’re gonna need to get rid of that thing”, gesturing disgustedly at the truck.  And as big a blow to my manhood as that was, she was right and I knew it.  Room for 2 1/2, lap belts only, no airbags, etc.  Not exactly your family mover.  We sold it shortly thereafter.  And I have been slowly bleeding car specific tools ever since as well.

I have this horrible habit of choosing hobbies (and fitness pursuits) that work that way.  Here’s another example:

I have a woodshop.  No.  Not just a few tools.  Damn near everything one would need to be a true craftsman.  It has taken over 15 years to collect my tools, but I estimate I have about $30,000 worth of them in my little shop.  They have, in some cases, served me well.  I built my entire kitchen cabinets down there.  I did an OK job for never having built cabinets before.  In fact, many things in this house are from that shop.  About a year ago I decided to go down to my shop (read: black hole into which dad pours money) and turn a finial on my lathe.  With all the flatwork I have been doing (flatwork is cabinets, boxes, furniture, etc.) I realized that I hadn’t turned anything in over a year.  The finial should have taken about 45 minutes to turn.  But 4 hours later, after I had disassembled the lathe to fix a rusted shaft and then sharpened all of my tools so they would actually cut wood… I was done.  I walked away from the lathe and never turned another piece.  Why?  I just don’t have the time to devote to it that you need to be good at it.  I sold it in December and the thing that got me thinking about all of this was that, ironically enough, the guy that bought it ran into the same problem with it binding up and called me for help.  As I was looking for the gear puller I used so I could give it to him (he will need it more than me)  I found, buried deep in a tool chest, my steering wheel puller from the old truck.

This all kind of sent me into a spiral.  I thought a lot about that old truck, tools, my shop, my choices and a lot of other things.  I became very frustrated with myself.  Very disappointed.  My shop has been relegated to history.  Cobwebs cover a lot of it.  I can go months without ever going down there.  It used to be my sanctuary.  I loved being in it, turning stuff on the lathe, creating, planning…  dreaming.  But now it’s just a neglected tool storage shed.  Another waste of money.  The only reason all of my tools aren’t for sale now is simply because I have a few projects on the drawing board that may need them.

Granted, I derived great pleasure from creating things in that shop, for years.  But now I feel like spending days on end down there working on something is taking time away from my family and other things that I think are more important.  My priorities have changed.

See… I think that anybody can stick boards together and call it a shelf.  But it takes a long time to build something the right way.  Finishing a piece alone can take many weeks.  Painful little details that I only barely have patience for can make or break a project.  And, indeed, that is where most of the tools come in to play.  I have some tools I have only used once but have owned for 10 years.  They make a certain kind of cut or joint that can’t be done any other way.  I may never need them again… but if I do…

But the bottom line is I have too many hobbies and too much stuff.  I need to simplify.

I did this once before.  In 2004 I was playing roller hockey 2 nights a week, mountain biking 3 days a week, playing softball 2 nights a week, running 3 days a week… oh.  And I had a wife, kid and job… and we played in the SCA on the weekends.   I’ve always been one to try or play any sport or hobby.  And once I get hooked, I’m all in.  So you can imagine all the gear (and smell… hockey stuff and SCA fighting gear STINKS).  I had one pair of jeans but 3 pairs of baseball pants. Backwards?  Probably…

I was out of control.  Maybe I was desperate to stay in shape.  Maybe I wanted friends… I don’t know.  But between the fees, gear, gas and beer, I was never home and always broke.  I stopped playing hockey and softball and changed mountain biking courses so I could do it on the way home from work.  Eventually I even stopped mountain biking and just ran.  And then I stopped doing that too.

When we got here (CoMo) I decided to get back in shape and started with a clean slate.  I had my shop, yes, but no other hobbies.  We did not join back up with the SCA here so you would think my problems were solved.  But as I got hooked again on the running bug, my new friends were going farther and trying different types of races (offroad, etc.) and I wanted to keep up.  I started this whole triathlon thing and it comes with its own mileage goals and the junkies who push them.  I ran a marathon.  Several half marathons.  A sprint triathlon, then an olympic.  Some offroad events.  Long bike rides.  More gear (same jeans), more rides, swims, runs.

Until I finally realized, down in my shop, holding a gear puller for a truck I sold over 10 years ago…  That it was happening all over again.  Over the past 3 years I had been steadily increasing the mileages and races and stuff… to the point that I was completely overwhelmed with training.  I was burned out.  THAT is why I almost walked away from endurance sports after Redman.  That was why I had bailed on marathons, ultras, tri’s and the like.  I had so many conflicting goals that there was no way to train for them…  ANY of them.  You can’t train for a marathon AND triathlons (some people do, but not me).  You can’t train for a road marathon by running offroad or vice versa.  You can’t train for a 5K goal time while training for an ultra.

The key word there is “train”.  You can DO any or all of the above.  IF you are in good shape to start with AND you are genetically predisposed to endurance sports.  The rest of us slobs… not so much.  And the kicker is that the endurance crowd here in CoMo, lovable and supportive as they are, seem to be mostly made up of the genetically predisposed.  Trying to follow them around can be dangerous.  And frustrating.  Such was the condition I found myself in round about December.  The more I ran… the harder I pushed… the worse I got.

Why?  Well, to go round and round again… Let’s go back to woodworking.  I have a shop.  That doesn’t make me a craftsman.  I know how to use tools, that doesn’t make me an artist.  It makes me a tool collector.  To be good, first you need the basics.  An understanding of the craft.  Then you need time to practice.  Time to build lots of really bad pieces (AKA firewood) so that you can master the craft.

It’s the same way with fitness, triathlons, running, etc.  First you need a base.  You need to be in good shape (I am not).  I know how to run/bike/swim.  But that doesn’t make me a triathlete.  I can run a trail, but that doesn’t make me a trail runner.  I need to focus on the basics.  Get fit.  Build back up to a comfortable level and STAY THERE.  My limits are clearly defined.  Some, like distance, I know I can’t push.  Some, like speed, are based on fitness.  The more fit I am, the faster I go.  But ALL of them require time to FOCUS.  And I find that the only way I can be better at ANY of them is to not try to do a million different things.

So sitting down there in my shop with a steering wheel puller in my hand… I chose triathlons.  Sprint and olympic distance.  And NOT because it’s a sneaky way of overwhelming myself with 3 sports while calling it one.  I need fitness.  I also need to take care of my body while I am getting in shape.  Believe it or not, triathlons (for me) do just that.  There is no way I can pound myself with running 5 days a week because I have to train for the other two sports. And they are much low(er) impact.  They also work different muscle groups.  AND none of it takes that much time.  An hour and a half is my LONG day.  I used to push FIVE hours on my long day (and would spend the rest of that day resting).  Didn’t leave much time for yard work, eh?

What it really means more time for my family, more peace of mind for me, and, perhaps, a tiny bit more time in my shop?  …I never give up… do I…

GAWD that was rambling.  My apologies.  I just really needed to get that out of my head.

Today’s quote from Alice in Wonderland is to remind me to take the simple plan and stick to it:

“If you don’t know where you are going it really doesn’t matter which path you take.”

Week 2. A few adjustments

July 23, 2012

Just like when you start a new workout (or restart an old routine) and it’s not the day after the workout that hurts, but the day AFTER the day after that you are the most sore, I fully expected my second week on a dedicated plan of higher intensity workouts to be harder than the first.  Not as much physically as mentally.  When you are tired and hungry all the time and are having difficulty sleeping (an unfortunate side effect I have after hard workouts), it’s easy to get down.  The alarm noise is more cruel than usual.  You are still looking up at 8 weeks of hard training.  It’s normal to question your sanity.  Luckily I never had that in the first place so it was one less thing to question…

Of the 12 workouts I had scheduled this week, I made 10 of them.  Hill repeats night on Wednesday was 104 degrees.  Um… No.  I took my son to the gym and did 45 minutes of spinning.  Not the same intensity, but I’m just not that stupid.  The Saturday easy ride after the run didn’t happen either for a couple of reasons.  I was supposed to run 11 miles beforehand but ended up adding an extra mile so that was harder than it was supposed to be and I was tired.  The second reason was that traffic in town was a nightmare from city limit sign to city limit sign.  It would have just been a frustrating disaster.  Again… not that dedicated.

Although I am definitely tired, I keep waiting for the pain and muscle soreness that used to accompany my long runs (15+) but for the most part it is just not there.  I see that as a big positive.  One less thing to bring me down!  I will say that it seems to be taking me a lot longer to get warmed up though.  I didn’t feel comfortable on my long run until I was 5 miles in!

When you train this much (and yes, I consider TWELVE workouts a week a LOT), one thing you have to consider that I had not given enough attention to is preparation.  Not of the workout itself (because my workouts are not that complicated) or even nutrition (which just has to be a constant), but just making sure you are ready.  I have filled more water bottles, mixed more Gatorade, cleaned more workout gear and done more maintenance than I think I ever have.  And it’s not just making sure you have the right stuff at the right time.  I find that the only way to fight the excuse demons is to prepare for the next workout completely before I go to bed.  This means having clothes, shoes, towels, bikes, goggles, etc. in a neat pile and ready to stumble into first thing in the morning.  If I am doing two workouts in the same day, this also means prepping for both.  If I run in the morning, go to work and then ride in the afternoon, I have to have both workouts stuff ready to go.  This is especially challenging since I don’t have 10 pairs of tri shorts or shoes so I have to make sure those are clean and dry (in the case of my shoes) and ready.  If I forget, I’m screwed.  And nothing will ruin your groove quicker than running in wet shoes or forgetting something (like your helmet).

Because of this, my car has become afflicted with triathlonoma.  Smelly, cancerous growths of old clothes and shoes I forgot to get out yesterday so they sat in the hot sun all day.  As well as various empty water bottles, Gu packets, old towels and other unidentifiable pieces of race swag, crumpled numbers, sunscreen and chain lube.  I knew it was stinky when the 8 year old begged to roll the windows down in the 100+ temps last week.  I have also discovered that the smelliest piece of equipment I have seems to be one of the smallest… My bike gloves REEK!!  But, hey, with that much crap in my (very tiny) car, when the zombie apocalypse comes at least I’ll be ready.  I’m not sure what for… but I’ll be ready.

So for week three I am making a few adjustments.  I am definitely taking Mondays off from now on.  I’m also not sure about doing back to back bricks on Saturday and Sunday.  Oh, I’m sure it is the right thing to do… I just don’t know if I can do it.  Especially riding 25 miles after a 12-14 mile run on Saturday.  There is a reason they do the run last… and after I finish that long run, I’m pooped.  I might do a few of them, but not every week.  I think it’s just a bit too much for me right now.

Next week will be a challenge as I am in Los Angeles all week.  I do have one VERY long run planned at my favorite place out there called Sycamore Canyon State Park.  It’s an out and back that goes from Newbury Park down to the ocean.  It’s about 17.5 miles and the back half is all up hill!  The last 3 miles are HELL, with one 3/4 mile stretch rising 800 feet!  Anyway, the goal is to run down to the ocean,  splash about a bit and then run back up.  Kinda like my own Hood to Coast… :)  Anyway, it will be my longest run since I ran the Kansas City Marathon in 2007!

Got it!

March 11, 2012

Well, that’s that!  The final weigh in for the Biggest Loser Competition with my local triathlon club was today for me.  I lost another 3 pounds which put me definitively below the 190 mark at 188lb.  That was my only real goal for the contest and I got it!  Total weight lost since January 3 is 25lb.  I am 18lb away from my final goal of 170lb and feel pretty confident I can make that goal by this September for club nationals.  I’m really happy with the start to this year and have a lot of momentum already to achieve some pretty big goals.  But I’m trying to temper my enthusiasm with some reality.  I’m very excited with the progress so far but I need to stick to my original plan.

So here is what I’m looking at:

I said that I wouldn’t sign up for any races until I was under 190, so the door is open now.  I signed up for a half marathon at the end of this month and will probably do my first 5K in over a year this weekend to celebrate St. Paddy’s day.

My first multisport race will be April 7 at the MaxTrax Duathlon.

My first offroad event will be April 21 with the Amphibian race (3mi kayak, 3mi mtb, 3mi run)

My first triathlon of the year will be May 6 (yes, a pool swim) TriZou (sprint)

But from there, the tempering begins.  I want/need to do at least one olympic distance (preferrably 3-4) but I won’t sign up for one until I am under 180lb.

I want to do my first half Iron distance triathlon at Redman in Oklahoma this fall, but I won’t sign up for it until I am under 175lb.

The other goal I have for this year is not to get distracted by all the bright, shiny races going on around me.  I will consider an offroad event or adventure race, but that is all the new stuff I’m interested in.  If I want to do a half Iron, I need to TRAIN for it.  No distraction races like last year.  Between now and September I need to do a lot of bike run bricks and get on a PLAN this summer.  I can’t just keep going to every event or group training session if they don’t line up with my goals.  As much as I like the people in the club, I need to focus.

So here goes!

Weight: 188lb

Pity? Party of one?

March 4, 2012

OK.  Let’s get back on track here.  My one man pity party is done.  I think it’s just good to get those things out sometimes.  Not trying to bring anybody down.

Got lots of workouts in and made some progress toward a work goal.  Still a long way to go in both areas, but a step is a step.

I think what started it all for me is that I’m really worried about things that I have no control over and when something else comes up I think that must be the other shoe dropping and the wheels are about to come off.  It’s just a pattern of behavior and thinking with me.  I don’t seem to be able to just let good enough be… well… you know.  So when tiny things started happening that were bad… a bad week of nutrition because I was at conferences, my equipment starting to fail (goggles broke, interrupting a swim.  Bike shorts sprouted holes X 3 in the same week) and lingering frustration at not losing more weight all sent me back into that spiral of negative thinking which always used to end up with me hiding in the dark eating a whole pizza and drinking a six pack.  My mind said “Oh boy, here we go again.”  When it was really nothing.

I started repairing the ship shortly after I posted my tale of woe yesterday by giving myself a “suck it up” talking to.  The food at conference was nobody’s fault but my own.  I CHOSE the food I ate even when I knew better.  My goggles were 2 years old and ready to be replaced.  My bike shorts were (yes all of them) older than my children (and my son is 14!).  It’s amazing they lasted that long. My wife is feeling better again.  It’s cool.  It’s all good.

Then I decided to go finish some of what I had started.  I put in an hour of spinning on the trainer and made a few adjustments to the bike.  The interrupted swim got finished with my backup goggles.  I ran 5.5 at Rock bridge this morning and it was a comfortable, beautiful run with good company.  And it was 15 seconds per mile faster than usual.  I did a group workout where we ran all of the stairs at 9 of the parking garages downtown.  It felt really good, even after the Rock Bridge run.  And I lost a pound and a half so I’m down to 191.  I have one week to lose slightly more than one pound so that I can meet my biggest loser goal of getting below 190 during the BL competition.

See.  It’s all good.

Yes, those feelings about food are still there.  They always will be.  But like any feeling, it’s all about how I choose to react to them.  Can I say that I will always eat good for the rest of my life and never have another beloved Guinness?  No.  Will that be a failure?  It depends.  In some ways yes because I really don’t need it and it’s a crutch when I am weak.  But it could also be a reward for accomplishing something.  A half marathon?  An olympic distance tri?  A half iron?  Another marathon?  An ultra?  All on my radar.  Maybe a pizza and a Guinness is my carrot…  It’s cheaper than a new car… ;)

Race nutrition is a mystery.

February 21, 2012

I’m at a point now, at least with running, where I’m starting to see the old times coming back.  But, more importantly, I FEEL better about running than I have in almost a year.  I feel like I am running faster, but easier than I have in a long time.  For instance, today’s run, which included two hills of 1/4 to 1/2 mile each was completed at 51:03 for 6.1mi or 8:23/mi.  It wasn’t 3 weeks ago I was struggling to maintain a 9 minute pace.  Other than the hill miles (8:44, 8:53) I actually averaged 8:12 this morning.  And I think I could have gone faster.  I was talking through most of the first 3 miles.  My legs felt fresh and my turnover was high.  All good signs, especially after a heavy weekend of workouts.

My weekly run training has kind of fallen into a 4 day per week routine.  Tuesday is hills, Thursday is intervals, Saturday is long and Sunday is trails.  This really seems to work for me.  Especially the way I have my swims set up.  I swim Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and this low impact workout on the days following my runs makes my body really happy!

The problem is, as always, where do the bike miles fit in?  Getting in bike miles really forces me to do multiple workouts per day.  I just don’t have a choice.  So far it has been a day or two a week on the trainer, or a day or two a week on the MTB with an occasional road ride if possible.  However, as the season wears on I will need to really increase this if I have any hope at all of getting enough miles in to do a half ironman someplace.  More than likely I will have to change my Saturday/Sunday runs to bricks and then add Thursday evening intervals to the mix.  I will also need at least one day a week on the trainer or an exercise bike at the gym.

My goal for all of this is to really try to NOT be undertrained on the bike this year.  I don’t feel that in the 3 years I have been doing triathlons I have gotten the right amount of bike miles yet.  Experienced triathletes will say you can NEVER get enough bike miles in and I believe that, to a degree.  Especially if you do longer races.  I may yet have to switch to a REAL half Ironman training plan from someplace in order to keep it all straight.

I was talking with a friend this morning on the run and asked me what I was afraid of about doing a half iron.  I told him it was mostly the bad experiences I have had doing long bike rides and then trying to run.  I have done it a dozen times or more and have cramped HORRIBLY every time.  Yes, that’s nutrition/hydration, but when the bomb goes off it doesn’t really matter why.  It still affects you and makes you worry about it.  I’m “hoping” that if I can really lose weight for the rest of the spring and stretch my mileages slowly, I can overcome the block and find the right nutrition for me.  It’s definitely something I need to research.

I think I know what I need, I just don’t know the best delivery system for it.  I sweat more than most people.  So I’m not only losing fluids, I’m losing salt as well.  I have to start factoring that into my nutrition.  Most gels don’t have enough sodium for me.  Believe it or not, the cheapy Power Gels are the highest sodium of the bunch (that I am aware of).  I just don’t know about the liquids.  There are so many choices it’s kind of overwhelming.  I can’t drink a lot of anything sweet or I get sick so Gatorade and the like are out.  I have tried the Hammer products and a few others but still don’t feel like it’s enough.  I either overdrink and have to pee during the race and STILL dehydrate (weird…  I know), or don’t drink enough and blow up.  This is one of my biggest challenges.  It will take some time to figure out.

It’s a mindset thing.

January 17, 2012

My three day weekend consisted of 8 miles on the mountain bike, 8. 5 miles of trail running, a 6 mile road run and 3 gym sessions (light cardio and weightlifting).  I think that’s enough.  I feel good and I’m not tired.  I ran 6 hilly miles this morning and felt good there too.  I think I might finally be getting back into it!  A month ago 3 days like that would have had me hobbling up stairs for the rest of the week.  But I feel really good.  If I keep up that kind of routine and just be careful with my food, I can’t see how I could possibly NOT lose weight.

Here’s a mindset for you.  Train hard, focus on getting the workouts in, have fun and DON’T worry about the scale.  I really am enjoying the freedom of just moving under my own power now without the stress of hitting constant mileage/time goals that I realized that even though I am in this (friendly) competition to lose weight, I’m still only weighing myself about twice a week.  I’m more interested in beating the weather and getting back into pants that haven’t fit in 6 months than I am about anything else.

I just think people put too much emphasis on the scale.  Yes, it is the final judge, I get that.  But just like working and trying over and over to hit that mileage/time mark and coming up a few seconds under, or worse, right at or a few seconds over your goal.  You can get so obsessed about the numbers that you forget everything else.  For me, this leads to frustration which usually ends up DE-motivating me.  Heck, I forgot my watch this morning and after that old habit pang of “oh crap, how am I going to know how I’m doing?”, I stopped myself and laughed.  Who cares?  I will KNOW how I am doing by how I feel.  I’ve been doing this long enough to know what good effort feels like.  Besides, the only important stat for me on my watch is what my average pace is and (warning: old guy admission ahead) I can’t even see the stupid numbers because they are too small on the watch… ;)  Which, of course is CLEARLY the fault of the watch, not my eyes…

Yes, there will come a day when all of this stuff will matter more.  But not now.  I need to get back to the day when my weight will realistically let me “train” for something.  I have a training plan for a half Ironman.  But I’m not even going to start on it until my weight is at a point where it is realistic and SAFE to train for those distances.  Like I’ve said, I can DO the distances, individually, right now and I could probably slog my way through a half Iron, just to say I did it.  But that’s not what I want.  I want to do it right, and I want to do it well.  This starts with being at the right weight.  Correction, this starts with not being at the WRONG weight.  That is where I am now.  I won’t know what the right weight is until I get there.  I’ll let you know.

I do know what would happen at this weight…  Slow swim, dizzy T1, 3 hr bike ride (falling further behind on nutrition the entire way), nauseating T2, dehydrated, cramp filled 13 mile run.  Why would I want to do this?  I know this is what would happen because any time I have tried to compete heavy in any race (or even train for one) this is the result.  Packing an extra 25-30lb is just dangerous.  Heat affects me more.  If I don’t hit all of my nutrition marks I cramp horribly but I just can’t take in enough fluids/calories to support packing the extra weight around the course.  If I hydrate and eat the way I should, I get sick because I’ve got too much in my stomach.  See the vicious cycle?

Look, this is just me and my body.  Everybody is different.  I’ve seen and talked to several multi Ironman finishers who are heavy.  I have tried their suggestions but I just can’t make them work.

This is not me feeling sorry for myself either.  It is just the way things are.  It’s all a learning curve.  My friend Betsy once said to me that it takes 7 years to get completely comfortable with triathlons.  And things still go wrong.  I’m cool with that.  I just know the first thing on the list to get me “comfortable” is weight loss.  Oh, and the whole “losing weight will help me with everything else in life” thing is pretty cool too… :)

Weight: 198lb.  Down 2lb.

Ponderings in the pool

January 13, 2012

Great swim today.  2000 yards with no tightness, fatigue or cramping.  I’m really enjoying swimming right now (especially since it’s 20 degrees outside…!).

One thing I don’t need to do when I’m swimming (or anytime for that matter) is math.  I can barely count my laps right but for some reason today I insisted on thinking about, of all things, what I would need to do to get my time down below 1:15:00 at TriZou.  Of all the stupid things.  First, I don’t like pool swim races so I probably won’t even do the race.  Second, I want to go longer on my races this year so… I probably won’t even do the race.

…but I really wanna do the race. *sigh*

Anyway, I think I can safely knock at least a minute off my swim time.  Probably more but I went with a minute.  Then I started trying to figure out how much time a mile an hour increase on the bike would give me and damn near drowned trying to work it all out.  I’m a mathematical moron on a good day.  I need to focus more on my swim technique and less on stupid stuff.  No wonder I lose my lap count.

I had to laugh (which is never good while swimming) when I came to the decision that if I ever wrote a book about my journey through losing weight and triathons, I would call it “The Littlest Clydesdale”.  Whaddya think?  Pretty good, eh?  For those that don’t get it, The “Clydesdale division” is reserved for, umm… men of substance.  You have to weight AT LEAST 200 lb to get in.  The VAST majority of clydesdale participants are 6 feet or over.  Most are ex football players, etc.  Putting me in a lineup with them is like Gimli on the wall with the elves.  …If you don’t get that reference, watch Lord of the Rings.  Let’s just say my frame is a bit compact to be carrying the same amount of weight…

So I’m hoping to achieve my first real goal by the weigh in this Sunday.  To get OUT of the clydesdale division.  And stay out.  Permanently.

The one thing I will never be able to escape is all the weightlifting I did when I played baseball.  My legs are like tree stumps.  My calves are more cow like.  I can still bench 200lb.  No matter what I do, unless I lie in a bed for a year and completely atrophy, I am always going to be what the government calls “overweight”.  Even if I get down to 10% body fat.  I was talking with a coworker about ideal weight and race weight, etc.  I think even if all I did was train all day, my ideal weight would still be around 170 and my race weight would be around 165.  At 5’7″, most triathletes are around 150 at ideal weight and 147 race weight according to what I read.  Not only do I not think I could ever get down to that weight, I think it would be unhealthy for me.

In short races, this really doesn’t mean anything.  If I were ever to hit my ideal weight, I could easily run 6 minute miles.  I was running just under 7 minute miles at 180lb.  I think my bike times would come down because I would climb better.  I think my swim times would be faster too.  I think where the extra weight would start to affect me negatively would be anything over an olympic distance.  I just don’t think I could ever physically do an Ironman.  Not that I even want to, but I think I would tear myself apart trying to.  Just too much pounding on an old, used up frame.  And too much weight, even at race weight.  I tore myself up just trying to do a marathon and was out for a year.

Anyway, I have to get out of the clydesdale division first… ;)

Weight: unchanged at 200lb. (come on weekend workouts…!)

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