Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Megabus Offers Free WiFi

That's pretty damn cool. I'm posting this from the bus right now.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day Running

I wish I had a camera for this one. We were getting a literal blizzard Christmas day. The roads were a complete mess with the snow falling faster than it could be cleared by the large county plows circling the major roadways. In their efforts the plows managed to keep the roadways clear but the shoulders suffered the consequences. They were covered by a tall mound of dense snow so any road around was down to strictly two lanes. The snow itself was the moist heavy snow you get when the air temp is just above freezing. Needless to say, the conditions were dangerous. What's a guy to do on a day like this?

Go running of course.

I ran my typical 6 mile mid-week route; however, today it was anything but typical. When I stepped outside it was immediately clear I was going to have an adventure whether I wanted one or not. The snowflakes were huge and heavy. In fact, they actually kind of hurt when they hit my face. They especially hurt when they crashed into my eyeballs. Try as I might there was no avoiding this. All I could do was laugh it off as my body got attacked by these relentless white monsters.

After pulling out of the driveway it was clear that each step was going to be a challenge. In my continued attempt at forefoot running I made it clear to myself that I would in no way let my heel land. This meant the surface area with which my foot impacted the ground would be reduced and in fact I'd be almost sliding the front of my foot to with each step. It seemed injury was inevitable but I didn't care. I was using proper form by running tall and landing appropriately. If I got injured then I'd face that devil when he presented himself.

Because of the lack of shoulder on the roads I was constantly running right in the middle of traffic. Sadly it wasn't as much of a challenge as I thought. No one swerved or lost control of their car and no plows came in my direction when I was running so I didn't get a chance to practice jumping out of the way. The adventurous side of me isn't getting much to do. Maybe next time.

By the time I got back home I was not only injury free but completely soaked by this dense snowfall. This reaffirms my notion that forefoot running is the way to go. Barefoot running is probably the ultimate way to go but this time of year doesn't really condone that kind of thing.

Until the next adventure.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Born to Run

borntorunSM.jpgIf you're an endurance athlete of any kind you owe it to yourself to read this book. The pace of my 2010 training has just changed as well as my racing food.

An Uphill Battle

Yesterday I decided to get back on the exercise wagon and see what a few months of mainly idle time has done to me. By idle, I mean with respect to cardio. I've been strength training and doing yoga as a way to try to at least get some form of exercise.

The verdict?

2010 is going to be a serious uphill battle.

For my workout yesterday I did 30 minutes of core, swam for 45 minutes (2100 yards total) and joined an hour long spin class. Yoga was on the itinerary too but I was to full of endorphins after all that to sit in yoga.

While I did make it through the workouts I had nowhere near the power nor the endurance I had at the end of the 2009 season. I've lost a lot; however, this gives me a great opportunity to see the bright side of things: There's a lot I get to work on to get back.

Part of my goal with taking the time off was to have exactly this happen. I've been in pretty decent shape for quite a while and forgot what it was like to be out of shape. I was losing sight of why I was doing all this exercising to begin with. It just became a normal part of my life. The endorphin rush wasn't exciting any more. The workouts started to become major stress factors. It was all becoming too much. That's when I decided to step away for a bit, let my muscles atrophy and my conditioning deteriorate to whatever point a few months would take them. And so now, today, a day after the workout I'm waking up to something that made me laugh for a few minutes this morning. Something I haven't had happen in a very long time.

My shoulders are really sore from the swimming. HAHAHA. Parts of me ache that haven't ached in a very long time.

So, to that end: Mission accomplished. Real training begins January 4 (or 5 because I'll be on a bus on the 4th). The uphill battle is just over the horizon now.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Team Hammer

Photo on 2009-12-17 at 17.41 #3.jpg

As part of my most recent Hammer Nutrition auto shipment (which made me part of Team Hammer BTW), they sent me this nifty green tee-shirt at no additional charge. I asked the sales rep if instead of the shirt they'd send me a free 54cm 2010 Cervelo P3 Carbon with deep dish tubular Zipp Wheels. As fate would have it they don't give out free bikes. Oh well, it was worth the try anyway.

Since I'm here writing and you're seeing a very up-to-date picture of me (assuming you're reading this on or around December 17, 2009) you may have noticed I've gained some weight in a bad sort of way. It's nothing to be alarmed about. I'm perfectly healthy as far as I know. I've been trying to add some fat to my bones by indulging heavily in the holiday festivities. The whole point is I want to be at about as rock bottom as I can get before beginning my training officially for Ironman Wisconsin. The idea is over the past few years I've been in generally good enough shape to run a marathon on almost any given day of the year.

In an effort to make the 2010 journey toward Ironman even more meaningful I wanted to put myself in a position to have to work hard to get to the goal. This is part of my attempt to do just that. The other part is the mental aspect. Training takes a severe mental and emotional toll. By taking time off it essentially recharges the battery. Something I've been needing for a long time.

In just about a half month me and the rest of the Iron10 team will be starting out from scratch and building ourselves up to Ironman. It's going to be a long and trying road but it'll be an exciting adventure. I'll be sharing the highs and lows with you here as I'm sure there will be plenty of both if history is any sort of teacher.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mac Tip of the Day

There's nothing like going to watch a movie on your Mac only to find the movie's been encoded in Microsoft's proprietary WMV format. To view a movie in that format you can download a QuickTime plug-in that recognizes and translates the WMV codec. The advantage of this is it's simple. The disadvantage is you still have your movie in this clunky proprietary format and depend on a 3rd party solution to continue watching the movie.

Alternatively, you can use the free software HandBrake to convert your WMV file to the open MPEG-4 (MP4) standard using the industry standard H.264 codec which is natively recognized on the Mac in QuickTime. This leaves you free and clear to watch your movies without the need to install a plug-in.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ran a 5K in the New Shoes

It felt great. I'm excited to see where this goes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The New Shoes

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Kind of strange to actually call them "shoes" but that's what I'm using for the time being. I still have my heart set on getting a pair of Newtons but until then these will have to do. I plan on running a 5K in them this Thursday but after yesterday's mile I may have to rethink that decision. My calfs are killing me.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Going [almost] Barefoot

I'm really having a difficult time choosing my next pair of shoes. The battle is between a pair of Newton Running Gravitas and the Vibram FiveFinger Sprint.

I went to a local running store yesterday with the intention of purchasing the Newtons. I've wanted a pair for such a long time and after testing out a pair I found they do exactly what I need my next pair of shoes to do: encourage me to run on my forefoot which causes me to strike the ground under my hips and push off using my glutes. This sounds like a simple thing but I've been running with incorrect form for so long that it's been a near insurmountable challenge to change my stride and gait even though I know it's not proper. In general change never comes easy but this is much harder than anticipated.

The drawback on the shoes was the $175 price tag. Being in the pricing business and understanding a bit about revenues and profits I need to see some serious facts about this companies profit per shoe before I pay that kind of money. Yes, we want people to be successful and yes companies are in business to make money. Yes, they need to fund their R&D and cover their overhead but if they're making 50%+ gross margin per shoe, that's unacceptable bull$hit and will not be tolerated. That's fleecing.

After chewing on my heart for a few moments I scanned the store and noticed the Vibrams. Intrigued by this ridiculous looking (dare I even call it) shoe I had to try a pair on and give it a go. After jogging around a bit I noticed these shoes also encouraged a proper running gait. Though not as obvious as the Newtons I could still accomplish the same thing in these with the added benefit of seeing what it's like to run pretty much barefoot. This would encourage my body to strengthen the ankles and foot muscles in ways shoes otherwise wouldn't promote.

The Vibrams are still astronomical in price for what they are: $80. But on the flip side I could get two pairs for less than one pair of Newtons while at the same time whetting my appetite to see what barefoot running is all about and leaving the mystery of the Newtons open to me for another day.

After a long and difficult night thinking about this I decided it's going to be the Vibrams. This'll definitely be an experience and one I'll be happy to report on. They're definitely not winter shoes and being at the start of winter they're going to get a lot of treadmill work. Something tells me by the construction of these things I'll be able to get more than 400 miles out of them before they need to be retired.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Not-So-Accidental Accidental Half Marathon

This past weekend was Halloween weekend here in the states and as of a few years ago a new Halloween tradition was set in Minneapolis. That tradition is to run the Monster Dash half marathon despite the fact that Anoka, which is in the northwest burbs, is the Halloween capital of the world.

This detail aside, the Monster Dash is really the event to do. Thousands of people as crazy as I am line up along the north end of Lake Harriet and pound out 13.1 miles. As fate would have it, I just happened to be doing a 13.1 mile training run that day and I also coincidentally happened to be doing it around the lakes so timing was perfect. Of course I provided my own assistance but it was still fun to run with a group of people instead of just by myself.

A lot of fun was had by all and I did get to run with some friends which was a blast. What made it great was I had negative splits the whole way. I don't do that too often so it was nice to see it happen.

Until the next event (that would be Thanksgiving day when I'm doing a 3.1 mile training run. Not sure where I'll do it but I haven't trained downtown in a while...)

Friday, October 23, 2009

How Wonderful of POM Wonderful

Many thanks and much love to my friends at POM Wonderful (@POMonline if you're a Twitter fiend) for the samples. I just got them and they're as excellent as I remember. And healthy too. Check out the research on pomegranate juice. Yes, I realize the link is at the POM Wonderful website and I do realize no company would put scathing remarks of their own product on their website (Microsoft of course being the exception because they sell Windows and Windows, as everyone knows, is a complete steaming pile of crap). But seriously. Other than an incredible amount of [natural] sugar, what have you ever read that's negative about pomegranates?

Huh? I can't hear you? Nothing? Yes. That's right. Nothing. As long as you get it in your mouth and not on your clothes (which it will instantaneous stain and ruin), pomegranates are one of natures super fruits.

BTW, if you're interested in sponsoring an athlete, it just so happens I'm currently available for sponsorship and am training for my first Ironman triathlon — Ironman Wisconsin in Madison on September 12, 2010. See how great I look next to a bottle of POM. :-D

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Munger Trail Almost-Century


This past weekend some friends and I attempted our last bike ride of the season before retiring our bikes for the winter. This adventure took us to the Willard Munger Trail north of the cities. And other than a few bumps in the road it was a spectacular day. You almost couldn't ask for better.

The south-most trail head, in Hinckley, is the closest point of the trail to the cities and that's about a 1.5 hour drive on clear days — and days where 35W isn't torn to shreds between the Crosstown and downtown Minneapolis. Lucky for me I got to take the scenic route to Hinckley which also turned out to be the long way.

No matter. After the little detour on Hiawatha I got a chance to hop back on 35W and resume the day. It's a good thing I left at 6:00 or else traffic may be bad. One observation I did make on the drive north was on the southbound lane. I noticed the highway had been reduced to one lane but that didn't bother me. I wasn't on that side of the highway. And at that time of day it didn't even cross my mind that I'd be on that side of the highway coming back.

At about 7:30 I reached Hinckley and just before getting off the highway I got a txt from Elizabetsy Brownderstone: "Just getting on the road!"

"Hmmm..." I thought. Interesting txt. Especially since they live in St. Paul which is NOT a 30 minute drive in as much as it's an 80 minute drive. Long story short, I had the opportunity to visit with a few friends who did show up on time while waiting for the others. At the end of the day this turned out to be a good thing because it would have been too darn cold to ride at 8:00. The frost was melting in the sun and as it dripped off the low hanging signs I knew this was all for the greater good.

When everyone arrived we quickly got everything together and hit the trail.

Because of the odd fall, we didn't have a brilliant display of colors like I had hoped but it was still beautiful in its own sense. There was still plenty of fall colors to see along the way. Plus, the rivers we crossed added to the natural beauty all around us.

The only problem I had on the bike was a slight failure of equipment. As it turns out, my shoe booties and biking gloves are not as windproof as they bill themselves to be. Luckily my brother-from-another-mother Karl came to the rescue with 1¢ sandwich bags for my feet and toes. I kid you not. I wore sandwich bags in my shoes and over my gloves and they provided more warmth and protection than the $45 gloves and $50 shoe booties. Needless to say, those got promptly returned.

The rest of the ride was pretty straight forward. Only Elizabetsy and I made it 40 miles out and back for an 80 mile round trip. But honestly I think everyone else came with the idea they'd do 25 out and back for 50 total. Regardless of the distance and despite the fact that no one made the full 100 miles, we all had a blast. As far as I'm concerned that alone made the ride a complete success. Quality time with friends far outweighs any illusion of an arbitrary goal set for a fun ride. The only "goal" should be to have fun.

When everyone was done we headed over to Tobies for some post ride recovery and it was home from there.

Oh, I almost forgot. The ride home. Well, turns out traffic is much more dense in the evenings. Especially on the weekends and especially in the direction of a city. Any sort of a biker's high I had going into that drive was completely ruined by that horrid traffic. But I lived and am ready to fight another day.

Here's the ride we did. The next time I take this trail on it's Duluth or bust.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Little Breather

I know it's been virtually forever since I posted an update. Rest assured I am still around and kicking. My training is in a low right now as I spend my time recovering from the season we just finished. For the time being my fitness consists of running from time to time, strength training and stretching.

As the season starts to pick up again at the beginning of the year I plan on posting more frequent but shorter posts. Time won't be a luxury like it is right now. Until then, I'll post here from time to time when something interesting pops up.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Less is More

I was recently given this advice and it looks like I have no choice but to stick to it. Today's goal was a 19 mile run but instead I made it about 3. My right foot is hurting something fierce today. Looks like this week is going to be full of R&R. Hopefully I'll have good news to share at the end of the week.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Activity Details for 9 Mile Pace Run - Week 11 Marathon Training

9 Mile Pace Run - Week 11 Marathon Training: This was a tough run but thankfully I ran into the TNT marathon team as well as some other TNT folks from the triathlon team. They really helped me pull through this one.

(Via Garmin Connect.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2009 Breakwater Half Ironman Triathlon


This has definitely been a busy sport year. For someone who professed nine months ago that this would be a "down" year, a lot has gotten done. So far 2009 saw me finish two marathons, three half Ironman triathlons and a sprint triathlon. Now I'm gearing up to do a marathon in North Carolina as well as a return to Disney World in January 2010 for the Disney marathon weekend.

Not only have I finished a number of events, I've also had my share of ups and downs in the form of injury and also burnout. 2009 has been long, tumultuous and exciting all wrapped up in a recession-laden coat. Considering all that could have gone wrong but hasn't I've been a very blessed person.

But this post isn't about recapping my life and times this year. I've got a bigger fish to fry: the Breakwater Triathlon in Petoskey, MI.

As you'll see, this race was a mix of good and bad. This event challenged me in ways I've never been challenged. It also offered some easy stretches when needed.

It started out early on Friday morning. I packed up the car the night before so nothing would get left behind by a half awake driver. The alarm clock went off at 4:30 and a half hour later I was on the road to Michigan. The drive there as well as back was relaxing and uneventful. In my time I've grown to appreciate these long drives. They offer great scenery and time for reflection on life, the universe and everything.

When I finally rolled into Petoskey it was around dinner time. My friends in Charlevoix, just 15 minutes south of Petoskey, offered me room and board for the night so I stayed down there and enjoyed some good food and great company.

Saturday was a big day. After a good night sleep my friend and I drove down to Traverse City to run a few errands. First and foremost was to visit my high school neighbor who relocated to the area with his wife and kids. It's always good to see them. And he never forgets to remind me about our friendly (so far non-existent) competition in the mountain bike world. For the record, Mike, you'd own me in that. No contest. But I'll play fair and get a mountain bike and train for an off road event.

The other major event for Saturday involved purchasing and installing Snow Leopard. In case you've been stuck on a remote island for the past few months, Snow Leopard is the new operating system for the Macintosh computer. It's absolutely wonderful by the way. You can read an exhaustive and detailed review at Ars Technica.

The rest of Saturday involved my driving back to Petoskey, checking into a hotel, picking up my race packet, laying everything out for Race Day and attempting to get a good nights rest for the event. I say "attempting" because between the overload of coffee drank and the new computer OS to play with I got a max of 3 hours of actual sleep despite my best efforts.

Race Day

Four o'clock couldn't have come any earlier. Not only was I sleep deprived from roughly 3 hours of sleep and a very long drive two days before hand but it's three o'clock according to my body clock because of the time zone change from Central to Eastern. Needless to say, I wasn't entirely there. But, the show must go on and so must I.


IMG_1131.JPGThis was interesting. In most transitions you pick your spot but this one we had assigned spots. The negative side of this is you're very unlikely to get a coveted end spot. End spots give you the most space. The plus side is you can sleep in because there's no point in waking up at the crack of dawn to beat everyone there. Transition opened at 4:30 (yes, FOUR frigging THIRTY) with a race start of 6:45 (yes, SIX frigging FOURTY-FIVE).

When I got there it was too dark to see anything but I had the good fortune of packing my head lamp. That turned out to be a godsend because it not only helped me get my spot set up but I could also help a lot of the people around me too. Speaking of the people around me, #113 (I was #114) didn't show up so as fate would have it I had all the room anyone could ask for anyway for transition.

IMG_1137.jpgThe only actual downside with transition was at the far end by "BIKE IN/OUT". It had been raining for days prior to race day so there was an unavoidable swamp over there. Good thing I leave my cleats locked on my bike or else that would have been a very bad thing. I can't speak for everyone else though.

Another interesting point to note about transition was the hike we had to make. As soon as we left the actual transition area we couldn't mount our bikes until we climbed four sets of stairs and crossed under a highway. This was very unique and not necessarily a bad thing. Just something different.


Due to inclement weather the swim course was changed. Originally we were scheduled to swim a very interesting "R" shaped course. Instead it was changed to two loops around the middle dock in the link above. That also changed the distance from 1.2 miles to 0.91. I was not happy with this but what can you do? Fortunately the water temp was around 65°F so it was a very comfortable swim. Ironically the water temp was warmer than the air temp so it was nice staying in the water.

My swim went okay except for the head-on collision I caused because I was having a bad steering day. On the way back from the second loop, when we were at the end of the dock, I sighted incorrectly and swam right into some of the women. Oops. On an even more fun note I also swam right into one of the large buoys too. Yes, it was a bad swim day for me. Here's a link to my swim.


It's not clear to me there are words in the English language that can fully capture the experience of this bike. It was, by far, the hardest bike I've ever done, training or otherwise. Earlier this year I participated with the Team in Training at a half Ironman event in Sunriver, OR. There, we not only had elevation to deal with but we also climbed a mountain.

That was easier than the bike portion of the Breakwater triathlon.

So we're clear, this isn't a complaint about the bike. This is a statement of fact. It was HARD! Other than wishing I had packed my booties because at times my toes were cold it was a pretty smooth bike. My only main problem with it was the two hairpin turns we needed to make to lengthen the course to 56 miles. They will hopefully be able to figure out something next year to avoid this but hopefully they leave the course pretty much unchanged. Personally, I think the extreme challenge of the bike course will be what draws in the crowd. You definitely need to do this to understand. Check out my map of the ride including elevation, HR, cadence, etc. Seeing is believing.


This was the best part of the event. The run was along the Lake Michigan shoreline on a dedicated pedestrian path. The path itself is mostly tree lined and very well kept. It gives the feeling of being out in the wilderness despite being right along a highway. The run itself was mostly flat and very forgiving. Despite being an out-and-back run it was definitely scenery you didn't mind seeing twice.

My only regret with the run was not bringing my camera. The scenery was simply stunning. We ran through a tunnel which was fun but the best part was the first 2 miles and the last 2 miles. This section of the path is along a cliff so you can see the Lake Michigan shoreline below you but also the town across the bay as well as a semi-arial view of the break wall (e.g. finish line). Simply magnificent. Check out my run. It was slow because I've not been running much and my heart rate was getting high. Despite this it was a lot of fun.

The results are broken down by age group and by overall. Not my best performance but still a good time.

An Event Worth Doing

Practically perfect weather headlined an excellent event. Despite the unwelcome change in the swim course (uncontrollable) and the swamp in the transition area (uncontrollable) the event planners did a stellar job. As I mentioned, one of the most notable aspects of this event is the challenging bike course. Hopefully the race director will leave this unchanged because it will be a significant draw for people in the years to come. Everyone is looking for a challenge and this is something completely unique to this race. And if the bike course isn't enough to draw in a crowd then the run will certainly do the trick.

All in all I'm happy with the event and glad I was fortunate enough to be able to do it. This is definitely one to check out in the years to come.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On Track for Breakwater Half Ironman Triathlon

I've had my concerns about this one. After all, I had already done two half Ironman triathlons in the past two months. A third seemed a bit much for one season. To top that off I've been pretty burned out from doing any of the running/biking/swimming stuff. Needless to say it's been an uphill battle this month.

But I'm happy to report that not only do I feel more confident going into this one I actually feel like it'll be the best one to date.

Yesterday I hit up Afton again for a decent 50 mile route. Okay, technically it was Prescott, WI but who's taking notes? Lots of calories were burned and I really got a great workout in. I even got my fastest bike speed to date: 43.6 MPH.

Today was a decent milestone as well. I ran for 1.5 hours doing heart rate training in Zone 3 most of the time with 15 minutes reserved for Zone 4. My average pace the whole time was pretty crappy: 9:15/mile. But the personal victory was my max pace: 5:50/mile. That's right. I was fire burning on the dance floor. Check out the workout for more details.

Time for some quality reading and dining.

Friday, August 14, 2009

8-Week Beginning Runner's Training Program

Are you wishing to start a life of running but lost in the whole process? Not sure where to even begin? Start here.

The Veteran Plan - Marathon Training

The Veteran Plan is what I followed when I trained for and ran my fastest marathon to date. I'd love to get back into this plan when I start focusing on running again.

Check out The Rookie Plan if this one looks too intense. It's also a great workout.

Keep it Simple Stupid

Great article in Runner's World right now about keeping running simple.

I'm guilty of the sin of overcomplication so it'll be refreshing to see what they come up with. This is reader contributed so you hear a wide variety of responses and suggestions. Definitely worth a read.

Runner's World iPhone Shoe App

Haven't gotten too far with it myself but the geolocation for stores is great. Found all the usual suspects in the local area including a few in Woodbury on the other side of the metro. Hopefully as time passes they update the app with new shoes as they come out as well as reviews. It's not a comprehensive guide as it doesn't contain any Newton Running shoes.

Runner's World Forerunner 310XT Review

Looks like a winner. Now to find an excuse to get it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2009 Tour de Tonka

I've done this event for the past three years and it just keeps getting better and better. This year the ride was altered to include a 75 mile ride. With any luck they'll figure out how to put in another 25 so next year they have a full century.

As for the ride this year, I can't imagine how it could get better. The roads were great with a few spots of freshly laid pavement. The rest stops were plentiful and very well stocked. Most of the intersections were well manned and friendly to bikers, and the weather couldn't have been better. The wind added a lot of challenge but that also added to the fun too.

Even the finish area had all-you-could-eat pizza from Gina Maria's. That's one of the best pizza places in the area. Hands down. And all for the modest entry fee. As long as it's humanly possible you can expect my entry into this event every year.

Check out the course. I turned the day into a 90 mile day by riding to and from the start area.

Friday, July 31, 2009

2009 Chisago Lakes Half Ironman

It's been over a month since Pacific Crest. Having a half Ironman triathlon behind my belt I thought I'd take a stab at another one. I learned a lot after my first experience and wanted to put that to the test in the home town area.

Chisago Lakes was a great tri to test out the waters too. Sparing all the details, suffice it to say the day was perfect except for a bit of a very warm sun. The swim went very well, the bike course was mostly freshly paved and flat and the run course was, while unimaginative and sort of lame, overall not a bad experience.

The real victory was my nutrition on the bike. I must have done a great job of the nutrition because I hit the run portion ready to go. So that was in and of itself all the victory I needed for the day.

Here's the link to my results as well as some of my pictures. All in all I smashed my Pacific Crest time. Honestly I would have been sorely disappointed if I hadn't.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Don't Like the Screen Dimming?

A lot of my Mac using friends don't like it when the computer screen dims itself. This is a power saving feature that's on by default but a simple action will let you disable it. Go to
System Preferences >> Energy Saver.
Once there, select
and uncheck the box highlighted in the image.


Picture 1.jpg

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pacific Crest Half Ironman Weekend

I've been thinking of this blog for a while. Should I dive into a huge essay about the entire weekend? Doing so would easily fill up a lot of time and resources. On the other hand if I only take the time to highlight the fact that it's over then I'm doing a disservice to all my donors.

To that end I'll do what I can to give you as accurate and complete picture of my time in Oregon without making you read a mini novel about details that aren't very meaningful.

I knew this was going to be a special weekend when we got set to land and this is what we saw. There's nothing like hopping off a plane and seeing mountains. It's gorgeous. How fortunate I was to be there. The best part was we could see the mountain we had to bike around: Mt. Bachelor. The rest of this first day was spent putting our bikes together and making sure they work properly.

Friday was more of a relaxed day which really helped. We visited the expo &ndash a short 100 yard walk from the back of our town house &ndash to pick up all our registration gear and then headed back to organize our stuff for the big day ahead of us.

Saturday, of course, was the big day. It was a very early morning but luckily because we were on the west coast we got to benefit from a 2-hour time difference. That alone was a saving grace in the morning.

Probably the most stressful part of the morning was setting up the transition area. If you've never competed in a triathlon a typical transition area has both your biking and running gear. As you guessed this wasn't a typical transition area. The way this event was set up it consisted of two completely different transition areas. That means all our bike gear was set up in one location while our running gear was at a completely separate location. This made the logistics of the event tricky because if you forgot to set something up at one of the transitions you were in deep trouble. Fortunately each of us ran through it mentally about a hundred times so all our proper gear was in the appropriate spot.

After setting up our gear at Transition 2 (T2) in Sunriver we headed to Transition 1 (T2) which was at Wickiup Reservoir and the start of the half Ironman triathlon.

There's no doubt the air was filled with energy and emotion. Almost all 50 states were represented there and there were Team in Training (TNT) chapters from all over the west coast. They were mainly from OR but some were from WA, CA and even AK. This was definitely a wetsuit day. Not because of the blisteringly hot sun but because of the blisteringly cold water. The water temp was 60°F. It was COLD!

Other than a minor delay due to technical issues with one of the busses transporting athletes to the start line we were set off in waves to tackle the 1.2 mile swim. There's not much to be said about a swim other than it was a very refreshing swim once we got acclimated to the water. All you do is swim from buoy to buoy until you get back to shore. Everything went smoothly and I got back to shore in about 38 minutes.

T1 was slow but that was my intention. We had to pack our swim gear in a bag before leaving T1 on our bikes or else it was going to get left behind. I took my time, meticulously putting everything away and getting all my gear for biking. Overall I was going at a snails pace: 3.5 minutes to be exact. But that's just fine. Today was about enjoying the Pacific Northwest, the scenery and that really hot sun.

The bike course was challenging, beautiful and fun all at the same time. 58 miles of biking which included a tour around Mt. Bachelor and a pretty significant uphill climb on the back end of that mountain. I wish I could say I kept my positive mental attitude but when you're biking up an incline and going so slow that it'd be faster to walk up it you sort of lose perspective of enjoyment. At least I did. We were as prepared as you can get for living in MN. Two trips through Afton on the WI / MN border helped with that. But it was still an enormous challenge getting up that climb. However, once it was crested it was, as they say, all downhill from there. Literally. I got my bike going upward of 42 MPH on the downhill. It was a lot of fun. Plus, if I were to wipe out that'd be the end of me. HAHAHAHA

Once done with the bike it was off to T2 and the start of the run. T2 was fine. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Just rack the bike, put on my running shoes and hit the trail. It's at this point things take a turn for the worse. By now I found out I made some serious miscalculations of my nutritional needs on the bike. Top that off with the elevation change – turns out a few thousand feet of vertical climb makes a huge difference in athletic performance – and the desert sun and you've got the makings of the slowest half marathon in recorded history. Yes folks, it's true. I walked more than half of the 13.1 miles. The run was the worst part of the whole triathlon experience. It was brutal. I managed to be completely dehydrated by the time the run started. Sparing details of the whole ordeal, suffice it to say I had a breakdown in performance unlike anything I've managed to do before. I did finish the 13.1 miles but I did it in 2.5 hours.

And there you have it. I am now a half Ironman triathlete.

The important thing out of all of this wasn't that I crossed a finish line but I spent the past 6 months working toward raising funds for a very noble cause. I helped give families an opportunity to help themselves and their loved ones who may be going through cancer right now. And everyone who donated can give themselves a healthy pat on the back. It's your fundraising dollars that made this happen. You're the true champions and heroes. So again I say to you: "Thank You!" None of this is possible without your support!

Pictures are currently scattered throughout Facebook. Official ones are posted at the above link but I'm not paying for them. Call me crazy but $25 for a photo is a bit difficult to swallow. Once more pics are up I'll post links to them.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

2009 Lake Minnetonka Sprint Tri

Yesterday was a very special day. Not only was it a picturesque Minnesota summer day but it also marked the one-year anniversary of my title as triathlete. Last year on that day I participated in the Lake Minnetonka Sprint Triathlon and after finishing I could officially claim my title as triathlete.

This year I had a spectacular day. The only controllable element that stood in my way was myself. The weather was a bit too hot for this kind of exertion but I promised myself I'd shut that out and focus on what I could control. What was nice about that was it paid off. My times were, in my opinion, stellar.

But that brings me to the truly remarkable part of the event. In as much as my results impress me, what I'm more impressed with is the positive mental attitude (PMA) I carried with me. For quite a while my frame of mind while competing in any athletic event was less than positive. I focused on beating other people, being aggressive, and beating myself up when I got passed. This event was different though. I made a conscious effort to take out the trash and realize that out there in the field my only opponent was me.

That, combined with a healthy focus on carrying God with me during the event really paid off.

Not once during the swim did I get excited, angry, frustrated, or start to panic when I didn't catch a breath. Every stroke was smooth and in sync. To top that off I had an exceptional time sighting (e.g. making sure I was still swimming in the right direction.) Normally I sight ever 3-4 strokes. This time I sighted ever 4-6 strokes and kept swimming in pretty much a straight line. Simply incredible.

Both T1 and T2 were great as well. Smooth and relaxed. Except for one part where I am kind of ashamed of myself. The volunteers kept asking us what our BIB number was. You know. The number that's written on our calf and arms. Honestly, when I'm in competition mode my mind is focused on virtually ANYTHING except that. I completely forgot what my number was and was quick to the draw to let them know that. I feel ashamed for my quick and rude reaction. However, to ask an athlete what his BIB number is when all he's thinking about is how quickly can he get to his bike is very aggravating.

The bike leg was pretty straight forward. My friend Randall loaned me one of his bikes because mine is being shipped to Oregon for next weeks half Ironman. The fit was a bit off but I didn't care. My focus was on making sure I kept my PMA. Biking is my weak point. I'll just be up front about it. It's going to take me a long time and a lot of hard work to become a good biker. But until then I continue to keep a realistic focus about where I am with it and keep practicing good form and smart gear shifting. And when I got passed, which happened often, I didn't let it get to me. Instead I kept repeating to myself: "My only competitor out here is me." That really helped to keep things in perspective and kept my focus in check. The true miracle for me on the bike was the fact that I didn't get angry or frustrated once.


During the run I had a nasty cramp on my right side that wouldn't subside no matter how hard I tried to get rid of it so for 3 miles I put up with it. But that was fine because I still had an average of 7:06/mile.

At the end of the day I managed to beat every single timed portion over last year. The two transitions and the three disciplines. I was faster this year in every single one. That, combined with a healthy dose of PMA and God are the true victory stories for me that day.

Pacific Crest here I come.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ready for Lake Minnetonka Sprint

The Lake Minnetonka Sprint Triathlon is this Saturday and marks my 1 year anniversary of being a triathlete. It's impressive how far I've come since then but what impresses me more is how much further I have to go.

I'd like to be a top class athlete and to do so will require a huge investment of time and capital. I'm willing to do it because one of my ultimate goals, qualify for and particpate in Ironman World Championship, will require at least that much.

Back down here in reality I needed to deal with a minor problem relating to the Lake Minnetonka tri. That problem was a substantial one too: no bike. My bike is being shipped to Oregon right now for the Pacific Crest Half Ironman so in the mean time I've been having to wing my bike workouts. But that won't cut it come Saturday when I absolutely need to have one.

To solve this problem, I ask my friend Randall if I could borrow his bike and he graciously agreed. In order to get to his house I ran the 10.25 miles to South Minneapolis, got the bike and rode with him back to my house. It was an adventure to say the least. But on the plus side I ran the first 6.2 miles in roughly 48 minutes. That's around a 7:45/mile pace. Not bad for me.

Now I'm sore and in desparate need of a massage. Luckily I've got one of those coming up this evening.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Two weeks to Pacific Crest

It's hard to believe it but we're about half way through June already. This means the Pacific Crest Half Iron is only two weekends away.

My postings have been few and far in between because it's the busy time in my life where it's non-stop going to and fro. That said I did want to drop a line to let you know I have been keeping busy with my training and am still on track to completing the tri.

Last weekend I ran the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon in the black hills of South Dakota. It was an amazing experience. The wilderness out there is breathtaking and I'm still practically speechless about it's rugged beauty. Here's a link to my event data. It was practically 13 miles up hill and then the rest was down hill. The down hill was far worse than the up hill but all in all the run was done in a decent time so I've got no room to complain. You can see the elevation map on the aforementioned link as well.

Yesterday I handed my bike over to Gear West. They're transporting it to Oregon (yes, they're taking two weeks... I'm still in the fog on that one).

From this point until race day it's time to rest and recover. I'm getting at least one massage this week and will hopefully be getting another one. I love taper weeks!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sort of Ready for Dam to Dam

Chilling at the Apple Store in West Des Moines. They replaced my Apple In-Ear Headphones for free because the old ones were defective. Today has been amazing. I hope that continues into tomorrow!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Afton Strikes Back

We did it again. As if last weeks adventure wasn't enough the TNT coaches decided it'd be fun to hit that course up again but they added a little spice to it. Last week we biked 50 miles. This week was 62! 31 out and back.

The day started out like any other. Nothing unusual to speak of. I got my coffee prepared, bike clothes on, nice lathering of body glide and chamois cream (it's good to start with a visual), put on some sunscreen, and got all the rest of the equipment in check. All was well. Time to pack the car. And that's when the fun began.

As I opened the garage door the ground looked a little darker than usual. Granted it was about 5 AM and everything looks dark then but this was not right. After my first step outside I knew why: rain. I wasn't pouring. Actually it was more like a mist than actual rain but the roads were definitely not dry. I really don't like riding in the rain but a thought immediately came to mind: cancer patients don't exactly like chemo treatments but they do it. That instantly put the ride back into perspective, quieted the negative voices, and got me back on track.

As it turns out the rain was patchy. On the drive through the metro and into Afton I noticed many spots of dry pavement. My hope being restored I moved on. When I actually got to the ride start the roads were wet but it wasn't raining. Today would be a good test of mental endurance as well as physical because rain puts me in such a bad mood when I'm on a bike. I decided my task for the day would be to learn a new appreciation for the wet conditions.

Our team left at 7:20 AM on the wet roads. It was an interesting ride because I kept reminding myself that it could be worse and to keep the positive mental attitude (PMA). It worked too. I got 15 miles down the road and barely felt like 5 minutes went by. To top that off I was the leader of the pack too. Granted it was only practice but still cool. I also had to take my sunglasses off too because they kept fogging.

One thing that marks the Afton ride is the absolutely gorgeous scenery. The Mississippi River valley is amazing. Pictures simply don't do justice for this area. You really need to experience it for yourself to appreciate God's hand in shaping the land. It's breathtaking.

We were about 20 miles into the ride when I had my moment of zen and appreciation for the rain and wet roads. Looking at the rolling tree covered cliffs I noticed that the light rain and moisture had created a mist. The mist ran through the trees like a finely knitted web. Again, it was something a picture simply couldn't capture. It was so captivating that in that moment I felt one with my surroundings. I now have a much greater appreciation for the wet scenery. And the good thing was this happened only 20 miles into a 62 mile ride. That meant I had 42 miles left to focus on other things like form and technique.

On that note the rest of the ride went very smoothly. As the sun came up the roads dried and became much easier to navigate. The hills completely trashed me by the end (as expected) and the 4 mile transition run we did immediately after the bike left me completely spent. But that's what it's all about.

At the end of the day it was a great ride. 5,000 calories later a lot of team building, spiritual building, emotional building, and physical building got accomplished. I'll get a map up as soon as Garmin gets their services working properly again.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I got beat up today

And the sad thing is I got beat up by an inanimate object. This bike ride has been the hardest bike ride I have ever done. In fact, it must have been one of the hardest physical activities I've ever done. Check it out for yourself. The map is below with elevation. This was seriously insane. And I get to do it again next weekend.

You're not a true biker until you conquer this. Absolutely nuts.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

2009 Fargo Marathon

This was a great run. The weather was perfect for running (low 30's at the start, high of 50 by the end and completely overcast) which helped keep the heart rate down.

This entire run started up as being an experiment. I've been following an Ironman triathlon training program as my primary focus for the past 20 weeks. I thought it'd be entertaining to see if 20 weeks of Ironman training would get me through a marathon. To top that off, I decided to tweet each mile of the marathon using the Tweetie application for iPhone.

This was my first trip to Fargo and my attempt to knock out one of the states in my 50 state marathon goal. Getting there was a cinch: 3.5 hours straight northwest on I-94. When I got there I remembered I forgot to book a hotel room so I had to be a bit creative with my room & board situation. But I'll get to that. Once at the Fargodome I found a nice spot to park near the start of the race. It'd be a great place to set up home base.

The expo was great. Below are some shots of the expo I took. The Fargodome really has a lot of room to accommodate for an expo.


The expo was a lot of fun. I even had a chance to meet one of running's great athletes: Dick Beardsley.


After the expo I went back to my hotel room (which happened to be my car), set up camp and slept the rest of the evening.

Sparing all the details, everything went without a hitch. The run was a lot of fun and I actually finished. I was sore in places I haven't been sore in a while but the sense of accomplishment was still there. I'm working on my running technique and I'll have to say it really helped me out. A coach at the expo, Gerard Pearlberg, talked at length about form and how we should be pushers instead of pullers. I've always been a puller so I decided to take the marathon as practice for this push method. And I have to say, it worked. My hip flexors didn't hurt nearly as bad as I thought they would and I felt amazingly strong until nearly mile 22. That's when I hit the wall. And for someone who's longest run up to that point was 11 miles, I thought that was pretty darn amazing.

Amazingly, I finished in 4 hours which is about my average. That got me to thinking and I'm still thinking. If I work on strengthening my glutes and start focusing on my form like the coach suggests, when I start training specifically for marathons I may actually qualify for Boston. Heck, I may even hit my real goal which is a sub 3 hour marathon. That'd be something. I'd like to get this done at the end of my 30's but there's not going to be an artificial timetable on it. I'll get there when I get there. You cannot make a tree bear fruit before its time. Nor will I get to where I'm trying to get before it's time. My role is to keep pushing and keep aiming for that goal. Eventually I'll get there.

But my final note on reflection is I'm surprised how "in shape" triathlon training has made me. I didn't think I'd be anywhere near my typical average time but I was. Hmmmm...

Sorry this was such a poorly thought out essay. I've got some things to get done and need to get working on them. But I hope the essence of the message gets through.

First off, my stats.

Now, the course map:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My First Century Ride

It's taken me longer than expected to get this post up. A combination of not working properly over the weekend and an exceptionally busy Monday kept me from sharing this with you until today.

My first century was a lot of fun. First off, let me address the distance issue. Observant readers will notice my GPS logged 97.91 miles, 2.09 miles short of my claimed distance. There was actually a portion of the ride in St. Paul where I forgot to turn the watch on after stopping for a break. I guess that distance was about 3-5 miles so technically I covered more than 100.

Overall you almost couldn't have asked for a better day. The air temp was a little too cold for me but it's better to be too chilly than too hot. Plus, it was dry the whole time. For me there's almost nothing worse than riding in the rain.

I started the ride at 6:00 AM and met up with my Team in Training group in Maplewood at the intersection of 694 and 36. We rode from there up the northwest corridor of the Gateway Trail to where it ends north of Stillwater. We turned around and backtracked a bit until we got to 75th Ave. We took that right into downtown Stillwater for a lovely brake on the St. Croix River. It was also on this road I reached my max speed of 41 MPH.

After hanging out in Stillwater we turned around to go back to the Gateway trail. The way back was much harder than the way out. We not only had the wind in our face but we now had to ride up all the hills we rode down. If you've ever been to Stillwater you know this is no trivial task.

Once we managed to get out of Stillwater we then headed back to where the group met up. That's all they had in mind for the day but I still needed to go back home. Once we parted ways I jumped back up on the Gateway trail and headed back the way I came until I got to Rice St. From there I turned south to go into downtown St. Paul.

I got some lovely pictures of the Capitol building, the Cathedral and, once down on the river, the route along Shepard Rd.

Finally, I took the river road to Minnehaha Parkway and that back to the Greenway and finally back home. Got all that? The map is below and you're more than welcome to check out the route.

But that was my first century ride. It was an amazing experience and I would do it again in a heart beat.

Here is a link to the pictures.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trying to find meaning in it all

Fitness is a strange creature. It isn't just something we do from time to time. It's actually a relationship. And like all relationships it has its ups and downs. Take for instance my last post. Last time I wrote about how I think I'm going to stop triathloning all together and never set foot in a multi-sport arena again. Then today I go out for a run and it was amazing. The connection I had with my surroundings, my form felt impeccable and my pace was actually not that bad. It was a great run. The best run I've had since before my IT band injury.

To top that off, I swam this morning for an hour and it too was one of the most amazing swims I've ever had. Every stroke felt powerful. I was pushing through the water at the pace that felt correct (70% on some laps, 80-85% on others), and at the end I really felt like I worked.

It's unclear to me what's been going on. I do understand life has highs and lows that we all fall into from time to time. I don't know if everyone feels like this but when I'm in my lows it feels like it'll never change. It feels like I'm at the bottom. Alone. Cold. Everything is working against me and it will never stop being that way. Water tastes like salt, the sunlight hitting my skin doesn't feel warm, my workouts are bad, my job performance is poor, and my attitude is less than desirable.

Then, at some point, I experience a 180 to the twentieth power. My body glides effortlessly through the water, I feel powerful and could do it for days, I tear through the wind on my bike like it wasn't even there, I flow on the running course, my work is fun and pleasurable, taste returns, everything is bright, I feel connected to nature and all the living things around me. Even water tastes delicious.

I'm very attached to my emotions and unfortunately I've let them drive me in almost everything I do. What I think has been happening is I've moved away from a life in integrity and selflessness and into one of self centeredness. I've focused on myself in all areas and in the process have lost sight of a lot of the things that matter: friends, family, spirituality, morals, and character. I've traded these for a selfish life. But through the help of some motivational books, the bible, and other forms of inspiration, I'm rediscovering a value system that puts emphasis on others while at the same time growing as a person. It's given me insight into a lot of areas of my life that needed (and still need) attention. But, just as Rome wasn't built in a day, neither will this wall of self focus. But God really is working some good stuff in my life. I'll take it a day at a time and let tomorrow hand itself over when it gets here.

Here's todays run:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Still Undecided on Triathlons

I'm seriously at a loss. I'm in the worst shape I've been in in nearly 4 years and I'm following an Ironman training routine. After yesterday's [disasterous] run (dare I even call it a "run") I have no choice but to consider my life as a triathlete and if it's worth it. If someone has a strong opinion or knows I'm doing something wrong please leave a comment or send me an email. Otherwise, no matter how alluring the call of an Ironman distance event, after this year I'm done with triathlon and going back to strictly running and biking as cross training.

We as athletes spend far too much time training to be spending it unwisely. That said, I've been doing two workout per day for the past several months: morning cardio and evening weights. I've been doing this in as much as my body will let me. I'm very conscious about when my body says it needs down time and I give it to my body.

After spending months following an Ironman training program and skipping out on my running I've reached the following conclusions:

  • Cycling and swimming in no way keep a person in excellent athletic shape unless done in extreme distances or conditions. Need proof? Go to any lake or pool and check out all the overweight swimmers who are actually good at swimming (hint: there are a lot of them). As for biking, go to any place bikers like to go. You'll make the same observation. Good bikers are a mix of thin and overweight but mostly overweight.
  • The return on the investment of time made in swimming and biking in no way matches the return from running. I've spent more time exercising for this Ironman than I have for any marathon and I'm in the worst shape I've been in in recent memory.

I'm very seriously trying to give this sport its due but to be perfectly honest I'm not seeing what people enjoy so much about it and after this season am most likely going to give it up unless someone can point out what I'm doing wrong. It's expensive, there's a very short season in which it can be done, and a lot of these people I've met are very elitist (go to Gear West for a healthy portion of I'm-better-than-you attitude). Marathons have been an amazingly rewarding experience. Triathlons... almost exactly the opposite.

Below is the horrible run I had which spawned this note.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

4 Hour Bike Ride

Won't win any awards for speed or consistency but it was a really fun ride. My friend Bruce and I explored portions of the Twin Cities neither of us have seen before. The Gateway Trail in St. Paul is gorgeous but definitely starts in a semi-shady part of town. We didn't make it all the way down but I guess that leaves us an adventure for another day.

All together we got in a total of 3 hours, 50 minutes. That wasn't total saddle time but who's counting?

Update: 3:50 WAS total saddle time.

Still Training

Not as hard as I was. 2008 really did a number on me. It's as if I'm going to need all of 2009 to redefine not only myself but everything else. It's been interesting to see the changes I've been going through in terms of motivation. I love being active but I'm again on the fence in terms of my desire to keep doing triathlon. I think the allure of finishing an Ironman triathlon keeps me going. Beyond that I'm not sure I enjoy doing them.

I can get into an entire essay on the topic and probably will because I think it's important for me to see it in black & white rather than mull it through my head.

In the mean time I've got a long bike to get in today but I wanted to share two workouts I did over the past week. Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

First tri of 2009

It wasn't official. More of a practice than anything else but it involved a 30 minute swim, 2 hour bike and 10 minute run. This was the first time the bike's been out. And I LOVE it! What a great ride. So worth the wait!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Irish For a Day 10 Mile

This was an interesting one. A friend sent me email asking if I wanted to have another friends bib. This other friend had already registered for the run but opted out because of an injury. It's been since October since I ran any sort of race so I thought it'd be a good idea. Especially to test to see how my IT band would react.

The run itself was three lake loops: Once around Harriet, once around Calhoun, and back around Harriet again. The route was gorgeous. I haven't run around the lakes in a while so it was nice to get back around them and see the area. And the weather was nice as well. It was floating around the mid 30's and sunny. All in all a very pleasant day for a run.

Sparing the mundane details I finished pretty much at 1:18 putting my days pace at 7:48/mile. This time last year I'd have considered this a disappointing pace. But, it was my first race since my IT band band injury in October and it's the longest I've gone since then as well. All in all I'm pleased with the day. The run was kept at a pretty consistent pace, a lot of my friends showed up as well as some faces I haven't seen in a long time, and most of all no IT band pain. I'd say this was a very successful day.

I did stop at my favorite coffee stop in Linden Hills (Coffee & Tea Ltd.) and treated myself to some well earned caffeine goodness.

Until next time.

Monday, March 2, 2009

2009 Tour de Tonka 75 Mile Route

In case anyone wanted to know. I'm more of a visual kind of guy anyway. Check it out.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

2009 City of Lakes Loppet

Me in my ski garb

This was my first ski event and it was a BLAST! The weather couldn't have been nicer, the crowd was amazing, support was spectacular, and the energy of the skiers was brilliant. I'm so glad I did this event. Plus, all finishers got a medal. How cool was that?

Bridge between Brownie and Cedar LakeFollow the link below for full map and all other statistical information if you'd like to see the route of the REI tour.
Official results are here. Not bad IMHO. The irony is I skied the 10K in about as much time as it takes me to run a 10K. This gives me a whole new point of view on pacing through an event.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Already a busy weekend

This training schedule I have myself on is crazy. So far no walking while I figure out why my right IT band is being stupid. In the mean time I'm getting a LOT of swimming and biking done.

Yesterday was a dedicated swim day. The workout was pretty straightforward but long:

Warm Up

400 Swim - 200 Kick - 200 Pull

Main Set

1200 Swim minimizing strokes per length and keeping it aerobic
60 second rest
800 Swim minimizing strokes per length and keeping it aerobic

Cool Down

4 x 50 slow

That took about an hour to get done. Today's workout was just about as crazy. Today was a bike followed by a run. I skipped the run because of the nagging IT band but definitely got the bike done.

The bike was essentially 30 miles comprised of two sets of 11.2 miles, three sets of isolated leg training, and two 20 minute gearing pyramids.

Needless to say I was spent at the end of that and needed to take a nap.

Anyway, my training is still on track and I'm still hopeful I can pull out a full IronMan by the end of August.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday Cycle

I'm going to try to be a bit more prudent with my postings. That doesn't really leave me with a lot of time to post lengthy articles but at least I'm getting something up here for all to see.

This past weekend I "downgraded" to a Garmin Forerunner 305 from the newer (and extremely shitty) Forerunner 405 and feel much more happy already. The one disadvantage I find so far is its inability to load into Garmin Connect. We're still using Motionbased. Motionbased isn't bad at all but the problem part is it won't upload a workout unless there's actually GPS data involved. Which means if I'm sitting inside with the GPS off and using it with my cadence monitor on my stationary bike it won't upload the workout. My workaround to that is the below picture. It's a screen shot from Garmin's Training Center program and has the data listed about today's workout.

Not a bad workout all things considered. I also had to do some core workout and some cardio but I'm skipping those in favor of seeing a college buddy of mine who's in town for business. I'm thinking this is a fair trade off.

Tues Jan 20.png

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Keeping Busy


I haven't forgotten about the blog. I'm sure my avid readers (that'd be you) are anxious to know what's been going on. To assuage your curiosity I've been following an IronMan training schedule from that keeps me pretty busy 6 out of 7 days of the week. On top of that I'm keeping up with strength training so that I reduce the possibility of injury this season. I also took back that shitty Garmin Forerunner 405 and replaced it with a 305. Don't get me started on that. Garmin made a huge engineering debacle out of the new Forerunner and there is absolutely no reason to "upgrade" to the 405 unless you think you look like an idiot with a 305.

Also, on my quick synopsis of life events, my bike building friend told me he can get the rest of the stuff I need (wheel set, drop down handlebars, seat and stem) for around $1,100. That just leaves me with having to buy the aerobars, handlebar tape, cables, and the expense of putting the thing together. That aside I'm going to have a rockin' bike when this is all said and done.

Finally, in a bit of unfortunate news, during todays 6 mile trot my right knee just started to bother me a bit. This is horribly disappointing and almost frustrating to the point where I'm going to see a doctor, get x-rays, MRIs, whatever, to figure out EXACTLY what the hell is wrong and fix it once and for all. I'm not giving up hope that there's a cheap and quick way to fix this using massage, foam roller, and ice. But one step at a time.

In any case, next week starts week 5 of the IM training so hopefully things will keep going as they have been.

Here's today's map:

UPDATE: I went skiing at Elm Creek Park Reserve with Drew, my friend from Team in Training. He's a super athlete and really gave me a run for my money. Ironically I skied further today than I ran.

Here's today's ski.

Friday, January 9, 2009

So far so good

It's been my first full week back into training mode and so far everything is coming along well. At this point I'm training by myself but just found out that one of my chums from Team in Training belongs to the same club I go to. That's very exciting. She and I may have to do some spinning and swimming together to help each other out.

The training isn't intense at all right now so I'm still left with some time to focus on other things like cross country skiing and my bike and other little things like laundry and eating.

What's most encouraging so far is I've been able to run pain free. Granted it's been on a treadmill and it's been very low intensity running. But it's been pain free. And that my friends is worth all the time I took off. Let's hope this keeps going. I'll still pay special attention to it but I think the key is to spend the time stretching and getting deep tissue massages about once a month. That'll help loosen the tension and break up that scar tissue.

Another factor has to be the strength I'm developing in my glutes. It's weird to have to re-learn to use a muscle. It's like learning to walk all over again. Things that seemed so subconscious now take an extreme amount of attention. But, again, in the end it'll all be totally worth it.

Here's hoping to at least 35 more weeks of injury free training. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The craziness starts already?

I'm back from my hiatus. It's been a crazy December full of traveling, eating crappy food, playing with crocodiles, and doing minimal exercising. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't think of a better way to spend it either.

2008 has been a crazy year. With two sprint triathlons, two olympic triathlons, one half IronMan triathlon, five marathons, two half marathons, and around a dozen other races it's no wonder I crashed and burned. And that's not to mention work insanity and my new bike project. I'm still not completely over it all yet but have found happiness again in being active. Right now I'm strength training and loving every second of it. Feeling strong is refreshing and amazing. I forgot how much I enjoyed it. Plus, it gives me a chance to strengthen muscles which have been laying dormant for... well... ever.

Part of my strength training has been focusing on activating my glutes. Believe it or not, my glutes don't fire. Put another way, my butt muscles don't work. The work they should be doing has been compensated by my lower back, quads, and ham strings. For the past few months I've been focusing on trying to make them fire when needed. It's a long and arduous process but it is coming along. I'm noticing a difference already but still have a long way to go.

I also found happiness in cross country skiing. I'm finally embracing Minnesota for the frozen tundra that it is and getting some amazing cross training done in the process. As it turns out cross country skiing is an amazing workout for lots of different muscles including the glutes. My glutes don't naturally fire so it's very slow going on the skis making sure I perform the mechanics correctly.

All this aside I also put together my 2009 race schedule. The main idea is simple: Don't repeat 2008. I'm scheduled for two marathons (Fargo & Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon) and a few triathlons (Lake Minnetonka Sprint, Chisago Lake Half Iron, and Square Lake Half Iron). I'm also working into the schedule my own full IronMan triathlon. Hopefully this won't be too much of a stress but it's definitely a reprieve from last year's schedule.

Starting Monday I'm starting my training but this time it's going to be one tracked. I'm doing full IronMan training and using that to prep me for the marathons. I have no intention to be competitive this year but instead to do them for fun. Hopefully this will help me keep a positive perspective going into 2009.