Thursday, June 28, 2007

More swim experiments

We went to the pool twice today. The first time we got kicked out due to thunder, but we went back in the evening and got some serious laps in. I talked to a lifeguard (girl) who used to swim distances in high school (recently) and she said she did a mile in 18 minutes or so normally. Even with my fins on, and my daily practice, I am not yet going that fast, so I was correct when I said earlier that I think real swimmers will still be faster than me. I wonder if real swimmers put on fins whether they would actually go all that much faster over distances than they do without, or does it tax their muscles in different ways resulting in similar times overall. Whatever the case, based on my rough experiment today, I would expect to finish 2.2 miles in about an hour. Not having to turn 30 times per mile might reduce that. I sure hope so. Plus I always slow down as I approach the wall, because I am usually doing the backstroke and I'm afraid of getting a concussion. But even if I can keep up a pace of 1:30 per 100 meters, I am still looking at nearly 50 minutes. I feel like I'm going really fast, and I can usually outpace all the masters lap swimmers I'm up against, even if they are doing speed drills, but I guess I'm still not going that fast compared to competitive swimmers. Ah well...I'll go as fast as I can. I'll consult a friend who is a swim coach some more soon to try to improve my stroke so maybe I can speed up without increasing my HR. It's all about efficiency. I've definitely improved since the beginning of summer. I am starting to enjoy swimming a lot.

Physics of Crank Length - On my Bike of Course

I ran across an article about Crank Length on a bike. I was purposely looking for it so it would make sense that ran across such an article. I determined that if I had a longer crank that I could effectively increase my torque. You know if I had a long enough lever I could move the earth.

He gives a formula for crank length.

The standard typically put on bikes is between 165mm & 175mm most bikes come with 170. Both my current bikes are 170. I had to measure inches and convert. It was fractionally off of 170, but close enough.

So, I went through the formula in the article above and discovered my optimal crank length should be 185mm. So, I did a little geometry and determined that the optimal angle between my foot and lower leg when the crank is ninety degrees from top dead center (horizontal compared to the ground towards the front of the bike) should be 58 degrees, based on 185mm crank. A picture would be helpful, but just trust me. So, with my current 170 mm crank I am closer to 61 degrees at this point. You understand this means my foot is not allowed to bend an extra 3 degrees on every pedal compared to someone who's optimal crank length is 170 mm, hence losing some of the power stroke. He has some theories about how this hurts a tall guy when hill climbing or sprinting.

So, I have been looking for a 185 mm crank. I have found some, none made by Shimano or SRAM. The one I found was over $400 (not a mis-print) for the crank, custom built by a dude in Colorado. So, off to eBay I went. A 185mm not happening. So, I checked 180mm. Saw one sell for $75 that was so well used that the manufacturer name was rubbed off the side of it. I looked the next size down which was 177mm, I have found them selling for about $35 to $40 dollars.

You may ask why do I care. I will tell you. From 170 to 185, I could achieve a 8.8% increase of torque at the 90 degree position. This probably does not translate into 8.8% increase in power over the whole revolution, but something higher than I am currently doing.

Now before everyone goes out and starts getting all crank happy, I must warn you that a smaller rider than I , must stay in his optimal range. A crank too short for you has never shown to do knee damage, but a crank to long has the potential. From what I have read, professionals have used them to get an advantage, but the advantage only lasts as long as your knee holds out from the constant increase in angle change.

I may not be able to get the 185, but am hoping for a 180, will settle for 177 which gives me 5.88% increase in torque, or 4.12% increase respectively. I believe I currently am losing power compared to someone with optimal crank length, so you could say I have crank envy. Ha Ha!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tango approacheth

I bought a cheap snorkel today to see whether that would be a benefit for swimming speed in any configuration. I was reminded of some things that I have not experienced for years, since I don't really ever have occasion to snorkel, normally. First, it is hard to breathe with your whole body underwater. The pressure of the water makes it harder to expand your lungs, giving a kind of asthma-like feeling. I couldn't quite ever get enough air into my lungs. The deeper you go, even to 3 or 4 feet, the harder it gets. The snorkel also adds drag. More length to the snorkel will add more drag.

I spotted a cheap set of very stiff and long fins tonight at Ollie's outlet, but they turned off the lights on me before I could tell whether I should get them or not. If I were going to drill holes in a set of fins to make my whale tail by adding some kind of custom plastic appendage, this is the sort I would want. I may go back and check them out. I think they would be 17 bucks.

I am still thinking that if I don't use my arms, a professional swimmer could beat me using the crawl, even if I have fins on. This concerns me. I want to go faster! I have not yet experienced tired legs in the water. I just run out of air when I really push it using all four limbs. I need time to experiment. The Tango is only 38 days away! I also need some webbed gloves so I can get those muscles and joints in shape.

In the meantime, I will keep up with the HR training so I can set the reservoir on fire.

Swim Class round 2.1

Really starting to get a feel for the torso rotation and arm stroke.
Getting your hip out of the way is key. Otherwise you pull wide and your legs will likely sway to the sides.
Still need to work on finishing the stroke strong and quick. I feel that's where muscle strength is needed. I could stand to put some more time in with weights. Of course a ton of laps would help too.
The kick is improving. During the kick board drill my feet were actually doing what they were supposed to. If I would have continued for more than 2 laps, my calf would have cramped up tho'.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Heart Rate differences between events

I was chatting with Shawn about HR and I couldn't remember how much lower your HR would be for different events.
Running should be the highest. Biking is typically 7 beats slower. Swimming another 7 beats slower than that. Though it would be best to actually test for your "VT" Ventilation Threshold for each event. This was just an estimate of what is typical.
What that means is if your HR is the same biking as running, you are probably training in the next higher zone while biking.
Your HR is highest while running because of the vertical orientation and you are using basically all your large leg muscles.

A few things TANGO

1) We drove up to Kinzua beach and to Dew Drop this weekend. Genine wanted to see what the run from the beach to the canoe launch would be like. She may be on board for this event as long as people aren't expecting record paces.
2) I saw Todd this weekend as well. He's going to check his schedule but I think he'd like to join us and be part of the canoe team. Casey should apply some arm twisting here.
I did do a bit of canoeing but didn't really leave Putnam's Eddy.
3) On the way up to Dew Drop I was glad Craig was going to do the bike.
4) Looking at the swim... Well I was wondering if you would want to try to take the straight line across to the beach or if you would want to reach the other side so that you could take a break now and then by standing.
5) We need to register. I was going to do this but the Y was closed on Sunday. I Guess I need to find out if he can modify our participants, or if whomever we register is the group and that's that.

Hill Climbing

I rode the bike last night. I got to the top of Breezy Heights (previously mentioned hill). First Half mile not to bad. My heart rate was getting up, probably about 150. Last quarter mile, hill steepens. I would say I had to be 170+. I know this because when I really accelerate the heart, it isn't the pain in my legs that holds me back, but my inability to get oxygen. I also noticed the last 200 yds my back started to hurt. I think this is a misalignment from the zero MPH crash I had last Wednesday. Falling hard on my left elbow has caused my right shoulder to be tight. Hence I believe pulling on the bars on this climb started to fatigue my back. I already got the chiropractor set up for tomorrow because of last Wednesday.

I went almost 17 miles last night I did the first 15 without stopping (slow on this hill but no stop). Kid's were at a vacation bible school at the 15 mile mark or the 2 mile mark going backwards. I have posted a map with the elevation changes below so you can see what this looks like.

I am not doing this to show you my hill climbing prowess, but to let you know about the first hill in the TANGO bike up to Jakes rocks. My climb last night was 400 ft vertical in 3/4 mile. Jakes Rock climb is 600 ft vertical in 1.25 miles. Pretty similar grade, I believe Jakes Rock will have a couple points that you might shift up a gear for 100 yds, but makes you pay with the overall length and a couple real steep points.

I looked at the 5th street hill. Not as long or steep overall, but right before you turn to the High School and half way up the high school drive some nasty little walls. The hill to my parents up Jackson Street is the least daunting of all. It just has that little wall right before their driveway. I have walked this many times.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

HR testing

I wore the HR monitor on a bike ride today. I went with my training partner, who is older than me, but in good shape. I can't keep up with him, especially on the uphills. So I would say that when I ride with him, I constantly have to push myself to keep up, which is good. Since this was my first bike ride with the HR monitor, it was instructive to see what was happening inside. What I found was that going at about my race pace (at the moment), my HR hovered between 145 and 155, with spikes into the low 160's when I was powering over small hills or trying to accelerate. This is significantly lower than the HR I get when running at my race pace, which is slow. When I tried to go faster in an effort to keep my HR in the 160's, my legs couldn't handle it. This endurance stuff is still all new to me. I can sprint like the dickens for short distances, got over 40 mph at one point, but I just can't seem to keep up any kind of speed going up hills. I'm hoping that I will lose more weight as I improve aerobically, thus giving me enhanced effects. This ride was also quite hilly, though they were rolling hills, nothing major. I'm sure a flat course would give me a much better time. This is why I like to rate myself against other guys my size on whatever course we do, rather than use times.

I think I also got a good sense of what it is going to feel like to try to run after biking that far. Not too good is the description.

I also swam for two hours, so overall it was a good day. I'm ready to Tango.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


So, as for the HR monitor. Matt got me one for my birthday and I've been using it. I think I mentioned that I spike of 225 on my road rides. Matt finally figured out that it's picking up the power line frequency. It makes sense since there are local feeder lines that I go under just a block away.
As for bombing down hill... I intentionally take a route that allows me to have a nice downhill run. Now that my bike is tuned up I can hit 40mph. I usually tuck and don't think about hitting the brakes until the hill runs out. I've never shied away from a good downhill 'tho. I used to ride up to WAHS just so that I could bomb down 5th Ave. (usually on a Sat or Sun with little traffic) I guess I have always figured that I don't go very fast otherwise, I might as well let gravity give me an assist. However, there really isn't a sustained downhill on the Mooseman course. I'm getting the impression that there usually aren't many hills on ironman courses.
I'm glad to hear that Thad has a good sense of humor. The walking across the bottom bit made me laugh out loud. I think that the swimming is overlooked and ends up being the most daunting. I'm glad that you guys are taking it seriously. I'll have to try to spend some time in the open water soon (I was gonna say "this summer" but it's here).
As for the "Clydesdale" division. I'm sure I'll be in it too. I've lost some weight this spring but I don't imagine that I'll ever get under 200 without major sustained effort. CC and SJV are big guys, I'm just flabby but I've haven't been under 200 in 15 years. HOLY Crap! That's horrible! Oh, well.
Finally... You nearly broke your toe off playing with your daughter in the pool? Well, wow. Wear that f#!*'in t-shirt! I'm sure there's an award for that somehow. Maybe we shoud have our own annual awards and have a "most stitches" category! I ended up with three staples on fathers day 2005... but I digress.
Oops, finally, finally. MC, You had some cramps while doing laps in the pool? YOU PUSSY! Walk it off! Otherwise, well done on beating those jocks!

HR monitor

Well, my wife bought me a heart-rate monitor for Father's Day. It came a little late, so I got it last night. I put it on, and it seems to work, but haven't run with it yet. I think I will tonight. I'll finally get to see what this running is doing to me. The directions say it's okay to use in the water as long as you don't push any buttons. That kind of scares me. I think I'll use my finger to check my pulse for a while when swimming. I did that at the pool today, and I had trouble getting over 130, even when I was gasping for air. I am very interested in seeing how this works out.

While at a garage sale, we bought a book called "You don't have to be thin to win." It was written by a woman who started doing triathlons after her doctor said she was "morbidly obese." I'm pretty sure no matter what I do, I am never going to be light, so this might inspire me as well as my wife.

I also looked for a Clydesdale specific podcast on iTunes and found nothing. Maybe Craig and I should start one. We would be the world's first and only podcast dedicated to the larger man. And woman. What do you think, Craig? We could interview big peeps at all the races and report times and stuff. Talk to exercise physiologists here at the college and ask them why Clydesdales can't win. Complain about sizism. Clothes cost more for me, but not for every other size! If the argument is that they use more cloth for my shirts, then a medium should cost more than a small too! This world ain't fair. Big people get screwed.

I have all the equipment we need.

Gotta go run.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cramping Links

As I was looking for some help regarding my leg cramps I found this thread in a forum. Thought it was worth sharing.
Post Race Cramps

More Tango Swim details

I sent another e-mail to Thad at the Tango. I asked about snorkels and building strange hand-paddles. Here's what I got back:

Dear Shawn,

Snorkels are allowed...bore and length? no greater than 6 feet (humor). That
bore and length question makes me curious to what your plans could be....are
you thinking of walking across the bottom?

If you come with hand paddles..go ahead and use them...just so you don't
some how fashion them into a boat. Did you consider kite power? (again

Fair Winds


Okay, so I think this will again give me more food for thought. My plan at the moment is to fashion a pretty long flexible snorkel with a small floatation device at the top, so it won't submerge. This will allow me to cruise the entire way under the surface (hopefully just a few feet), which gives the dolphin kick much more power. I want it to look like that scene in Jaws after they harpoon the shark and attach the 55 gallon drum to the cable, and he just takes off dragging that thing across the water. Of course this is all completely guesswork until I get to test it out, and see if I can maintain the dolphin form for that long. The reason that I asked about the hand paddles is that I need a counterbalance on my front end when doing the dolphin kick, especially if I fashion a bigger tail. My head moves up and down too much. So last time I was at the pool, I held my arms out like superman and used those as a sort of hydrofoil to stabilize the bow. I would like that force to be bigger, so am considering making a neutrally buoyant water wing that I can hold out in front of me and kick with a whale of a tail behind. Assuming the snorkel doesn't provide too much drag, I think this will be a pretty efficient way to go.

Matt's speedy 50 has encouraged me to see how fast I can go fully outfitted. I sure hope it's faster than people with no fins and snorkels. I guess I'll find that out soon. Gotta test this stuff, since we don't have a whole lotta time to practice now.

P.S. My local lake, where I planned to try the open-water swims has banned swimming due to e-coli. Terrific. I might have to make a few road-trips to Warren or I'm afraid I might not get any open-water experience. We don't have many deep lakes around here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Swim Class Round 8:

This is the last class of the session. I was doing a decent job of keeping track of what we were doing up until I started cramping up. About the 60 minute mark my calf started to tweak. Then he calls for fins drill. I didn't even try it. I hopped out of the pool to try and work it out.
Finally jump back in to try without fins and I'm cramping so that my toes are crossing.
I hop back out again. Stand and talk with the coach about stuff while the rest of the class is chuggin' along.
So he decides since it's the last class of the session. We will do a relay, guys vs girls. They talk me back into the pool so it's 4 vs 4. 50 yds each person.
They say that competition brings out the best in you. Just for reference. 10 weeks ago I was doing 50 yds in 70 seconds. Last week I felt that I was clocking in near 50 seconds during class. Well for this relay, I was the lead guy and finished in 41 seconds. I was stunned as was the coach and everyone else I think.
Too bad the mooseman isn't a 50 yd swim....

So talking to the guys about the leg cramps. They all seem to get them but they seem to be able to tough it out and keep swimming. I guess I'm going to have to try and work through them while I'm still swimming. Ugh! Not looking forward to that.

Brake Pads are Cheaper Than an Ambulance Ride

I didn't take an ambulance ride. I didn't even get hurt. But I ain't got the nerve I use to and my brakes don't seem to stop my carcass as easily as when I was 17 (or I never used the brakes when I was 17).

I did an out and back ride last night. Got to the bottom of Breezy Heights hill (windy at the top, not a breeze to climb). This hill is also known as Happy Jack, Rt 218 hill, and Daybrook Hill. It has three roads that climb it from different sides. I travel it every day to work. The side I was coming from was the steepest. It is about 3/4 of a mile long from my side, over a mile from the other two. I made a plan to only ride five minutes up and see how far I got, without stopping and keeping my heart rate in Zone 2 (70% of Max). I did the first two, not sure about the third. It was burning. I went just over 4/10 of a mile. I checked a topo map, this was a about 220ft vertical in that distance. The total hill is about 375ft vertical (a nasty 100 yd wall at the end, maybe I will do next time). I wanted to check my Heart rate, but I had to make the turn in the road, my feet were clipped in, so I just swung around and started back down.

5 minutes up, 50 seconds down. Now that 50 seconds says I was going only about 25 to 30 MPH, but I didn't have the nerve to look at my watch until I had done an extra 10th of mile at the bottom. I took my heart rate at this point, it was over 130 (not sure from fear or exertion). The unnerving part was I was apply some rear brake and an occasional front brake, I never felt like I could have stopped the bike if I needed to and I didn't remember the roughness of the road in my car, and the shocks in my car aren't that great.

The thought was "You dumby, your the father of three, and the husband of a stay at home wife". Also tomorrow is your Wedding Anniversary, was a clear thought once I was safely on the flat again. I believe I do this a couple times I will be more comfortable, I am also looking at the brakes to assure they are as tight as they need to be. The hill definitely reminds me of something like Jake's Rock Overlook hill.

Speaking of hills. I was bored or excited about the Mooseman, so I went on to their website. They have a forum about the Mooseman there. I linked this thread about the discussion of "Devil's Hill" at about mile marker 5. Sounds like a good time and Matt your 39X26 combo on the new bike looks like a check list item. At least we will only do it once.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good news about Rocky Gap

A site called listed the Rocky Gap results. It showed the whole clydesdale division. The bad news is I did not read all my pre race info and did not weigh in for the Clydesdale. I know I would have qualified.

The good news is if I compare to these gents, I would have been fourth in this division. I would have also had the third best swim and the third best run. Feeling a little better. Of course I would have been ticked off if I would have not weighed in and won, but I wasn't that close to the winner so no harm no foul.

Excitement in the Pool

I went to the pool again today with Fiona, because she wants to swim every day. I was swimming wonderful laps with the fins for a while before she asked me to play with her. We were playing tag, and she was chasing me around, when I unwittingly stuck my toe in a seam in the concrete and pushed off forcefully in an attempt to get away from her. Part of my toe did not come with me.

That's right. I broke my toe.

I took my profusely bleeding foot to the lifeguards, who were proclaiming this was the most action they have seen in at least a year, and put on a temporary bandage, then headed home to a wonderful meal made by my wife. I decided this might be the last meal this toe ever got, so I thought I better eat before going to the hospital. The end result was that I had to get a tetanus shot in my shoulder, and 4 or 5 stitches to put my toe back together. Three of these stitches go right through the toenail, which reminds me of some kind of torture. I broke the end of that toe bone off, but it's still in there. It looks like it will be okay, if all goes well.

I am not supposed to swim for at least a week, and running is out for two weeks, probably. Looks like I will have to go back to juggling dumbbells, and possibly biking more. The dumbbell juggling might be good for swimming and paddling anyway, so that may not be so bad. I am going to try to do aerobics in the target HR zone using this technique.

Happy Father's Day.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Got my bike

I struggled with this purchase. It was more than I had in mind originally but I'm sure I'll enjoy it.

'06 Trek 2200: ZR 9000 Aluminum with Bontrager Carbon fork and OCLV carbon seat stays.
The front derailleur is a 105, everything else is Ultegra.
Dual Crank: 53/39
12-26 9 speed SRAM cassette. 12,13,14,15,17,19,21,23,26.
It weighs 20 lbs. To compare, my hybrid bike weighs 31 lbs.

Now I have no excuse not to be riding. My other bike was really uncomfortable. I'm looking forward to trying some of the bike shop's group rides and finally feeling like I'm actually training for all 3 events.
I'm also going to be very curious to find out if I can ride the Mooseman course with a Dual Crank. If I could have found a triple, I would have bought it. Perhaps knowing I don't have that option, I'll train harder.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Swimmin' like a Tuna

Okay, I put on the fins for the first time and leapt into the pool. I promptly swam the entire 25-yard length underwater using the undulating motion of a dolphin. After that, I swam very fast laps for quite a while, trying different kicking motions. I am going to have to ask Thad if snorkels are allowed now, because that might be an important consideration. I am happy to report, however, that the back stroke seems to be ideally suited to this type of fin, due to the way the knee bends. I was able to cruise at quite a clip on my back for extended periods. I'm looking forward to trying that in open water. I'm not looking forward to feeling my legs in the morning, but I didn't experience any cramping or blisters or anything like that, so that was good, but I may have gone too long for my first day. We shall soon know. I like the flippers. I'm not sure if they are the fastest things in the world, but I'm feeling better about my chances every day.

Soon I'll have to experiment with timing different kicks for 100 yards and checking my HR to see both which provides the fastest time, and how each affects my heart.

If snorkels are allowed, I have some adventurous ideas.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Got my fins

This evening I received some fins from our daughter's horse-riding instructor. They are Deep See Aqua Glide fins. I checked on the web to see how good they were and found them for about 36 bucks, so they aren't super expensive, but they look much more high tech than my old black rubber models from a few years back. The claim on some websites is "Twice the speed for half the effort." If that's true, I'm all for it. Another site said "This type of fin allows a 1500 pound tuna to swim at 50 mph." That's close to my weight, so I should finish the 2.2 mile Tango swim in what...looks like under three minutes! I'll be trying these out tomorrow somewhere. Either in the pool or some open water. Matt, maybe I'll head up to Warren next weekend instead and go swimming in the lake. Want to be my safety canoe? Speaking of that, we might want to practice canoing a little too.

That's my update for this week.

Heart Rate training

Essentially this will be how I improve. Remembering how relaxed the winners look at these races, they have to be doing training like this.

Last night I ran slower than a 10 min/mile pace. Which I haven't done for two years, at least for a whole run and less than an hour. I kept myself just at the point where I was starting to sweat. When checking my heart rate I was 114 to 126. My legs did not feel any worse on mile three than mile one, they felt great. I was below my aerobic maximum (calc. 143) and I was about 60 to 65% of my Maximum Heart Rate (calc. 187). I feel like I could have gone for 10 miles at this rate.

So, Eric Harr's book indicates that most of your training should be Level 1 and Level 2 Heart Rate zones. He also said most of your race will be Level 2. Which I believe is about 70% of your max. In my case about 130. His Six week Training program doesn't get you into Level 3's and 4's until about week four.

I just want to assure I got this totally right, please let me know if I am off base. I run in a zone that is very comfortable, this would be about 80% of the time spent training. This burns more fat, and increases my bodies ability to use Oxygen. This causes me to be able to go faster with less effort. Seems almost insanely stupid that I would think I need to finish my workouts with a sprint or push my aching legs beyond their limit when my aerobic level can't handle it.

In contemplating all this I go back to Shawn's original theory of life from High School. He started the SLUG club, and we even had T-shirts. The slogans were "Work Why" and "Laziness Breeds Success". Shawn probably had this type of training in mind, he just didn't realize it.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bike Seat Comfort

I thought this was worth posting.
Seat Comfort

Aerobic Maximum

I am going to start running tonight. My new focus is to increase my aerobic level by running under my aerobic maximum, calculated at 143 BPM. No Heart Rate Monitor, so I must go by perceived exertion and check at 10 minute intervals to assure I am not too high. I believe this will be my focus for a good six weeks, to see if I can go faster at the same Heart Rate.

This link I found after talking to Shawn over the weekend has led me to think I need to only focus on aerobic when biking and running, then focus on form in swimming without going anaerobic. Finally go anaerobic when I do strength weight training.

I am trying for six weeks, starting today. Of course I have two 5k's in that period that will surely be somewhat anaerobic.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Trek Bike Deals

I was going to post this as a comment to follow up on but I wanted to make sure you saw this.
Here is a big Chain Store in Eastern Pa. Check out their closeouts.
Trek Closeout
The Equinox are the Tribikes. I was on a Trek 1500 and a 2100 tonight. I'm really thinking the 2100 is going to be the best deal I'm going to find. Carbon Fork and Carbon Seat Stays. I'm hoping I can get them to upgrade the shifters to Full Ultegra. I'm going to call them back tomorrow. If not, I'll some other shops and see what deals I can work out.
I'm not terribly comfortable on a road bike yet. So aero bars seem to be off in the future to me. Though I probably should drive out to Bethlehem just to ride that Equinox 07, then I'd know for sure.... more later.

More Rocky Gap Photos

A Happy Craig with Shawn at his side getting ready to cheer him on.

A tired Craig rehashing the lack of race strategy with Shawn as Levi prepares himself for a race, which race we do not know.

Link to a bunch of pictures of Rocky Gap race. Specific pictures of other athletes in the transition areas that seem repetitive are of Vinnie (winner), or Meaghan Durst (Morgantown local radio personality who we met that day and shared a spot next to me on the bike rack). Other photos are just ones Bill took of other athletes. Picture of a Canondale bike by itself was probably the best bike there and owned by, wait for it, . . . . . . . Vinnie the winner. It is a tri specific bike.

Swim Class Round 7:

Sadly this should have been the 9th Class. Can't help being sick sometimes.
The two main coaching points for me tonight.
1) Keeping that relaxed hand while out of the water. It's amazing how much easier swimming feels if you keep that part of your stroke easy /relaxed. My problem with that is turning it back on once I get to the "catch".
2) Hip Turns: He kept saying that you gain speed by turning your hips over quickly from side to side. That's back to that core strength. It's tough to maintain those turns over a long interval. I did notice my stroke count would drop a couple per 25 yds when I was really focusing on the hips, so there is an effect.

I'm definitely catching up to the class. (I think the new suit helps more than I thought). I was sharing a lane with the guy that did the Mooseman the other week. Speed wise I was ahead of him, I can't say that I was aerobically.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bike Shopping

I've been to a bunch of bike shops in the last few days. It's been a bit frustrating. Most of the shops only have these "comfort" road bikes. Meaning the top tube is sloped for a more relaxed geometry. Then for Race Geometry they were all the $2000+ bikes. They weren't dealing in the entry/mid level race bike.
So I started to look west of me in PA and Western NJ. I came across a site that was listing closeouts on 06 Treks. Then Found a shop in Princeton that was also closing out 06 Treks. So I called them. I guess they were able to buy quite a few '06s in models I was interested in. If you are shopping for a bike too. Now might be the time for those '06 deals at your shop too.

Craig I'm curious of your opinion regarding Tri vs Road bike. I was interested in those low end Tri bikes like the cannondale optimo 4 or the Trek Equinox 5 but nobody has them. I'm going to look at Trek 1500's 2100's and 2200's tomorrow night. Time to spend some money!

The good thing about going to all those other shops. They all had group rides on various days of the week. I'm going to have to add one to my schedule and learn from these people.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rocky Gap Photos

The only photo I have so far are ones someone else owns.

Here is a link to me:


Here is a link to the winners photo, Vinnie Monseau: I think he is photo 242, then 245-248

Just compare and contrast his facial expressions at the end compared to mine coming out of the water.

Another great side note, Vinnie was set up on the same bike rack in the transition to me. This was the 8th race in a row where he has won the race or his age group. He also was planning to go do the The EagleMan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in Cambridge, Maryland the next day, Sunday, June 10. So, I looked up to how he did. He finished 2nd in his age group and 29th overall, of course about 15 of the 29 in front of him were professionals. Just thought I would let you know, his streak ended. Don't worry he had already qualified in St. Croix last month for Hawaii. By the way he was a super nice guy and joked with me about Rocky Gap, how I was going to have to use gears here, not like Morgantown. I thought he was joking, no joke.

2 29 VINNIE MONSEAU 38 MORGANTOWN WV 4:13:38.65 total time

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Rocky Gap Results

This is the web site to view the results. Just to start off, the best part of my day was the friends that came to watch me. I had some support. My friend Bill Martin, his wife Mary, his son Scott, Levi (my son) and arriving just in time to see me start (he really made it fifteen minutes early) my brother from another mother Shawn Vashaw. So, just spending time with these people was the best part.

I was 107 out of 192. I lost a solid 25 places in the run. It was as I deem it a cataclysmic meltdown. The problem was not the run. The swim did. Open water sounds nice, but the constant banging into others, the sea (lake) weed and actually swimming into too shallow of water threw my rhythm way off. I lost it mentally. Could not breath right during freestyle. I told Shawn I thought I did Breast stroke 60% of the time but it was probably closer to 70%. This was to get more air and avoid obstacles mentioned above. I was two minutes slower in the swim than I thought. And my heart rate was way too high. I could not get enough oxygen.

The bike went well, but "Rolling" country road means you are climbing a hill or descending a hill the whole way. So I still was not disappointed until I hit the run. At ten minutes into the run I was convinced I had passed the mile marker and missed it. A minute later I found it. My air finally came back at the turn around on the run. I ran well then, but the damage had been done.

A couple good lessons about open water swimming learned, I also may be a bigger fan of heart rate training after talking with Shawn and experiencing what I did here.

All in all, my performance not what I expected, but it is a great race, beautiful setting and it was a great day. Just as a final note, I would go back. Also I think doing something this early in the summer is tough if I don't maintain over the winter, which I didn't do this year.

I will tell you about the winner of this tri in another post when I have more time. or Shawn could let you know. He is very impressive.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Need a Swimming Plan

I've been having a hard time pushing myself to swim longer distances when I'm doing my own workouts.
So today I decided that I wouldn't swim less that 100yds at a time. I figured that would be a good place to start. I should probably make that 150yds at a time by next week and force myself to stick with that progression. (warmup/cooldown excluded).
I also think I need to take a printout of some sort of workout with me. This would simplify keeping track of yardage and hopefully track progress.
Or maybe it's worth doing this workout the other 2 days outside of class.
1 mile in 6 weeks

Friday, June 8, 2007

Swim Fins / Kick Timing

So I've used my zoomers fins a few times now. I found an interesting article online which might explain why my first day with fins was such a mess.
Kick Timing 1
Kick Timing 2
Basically I think without fins I could get away with a very sloppy kick. Once I added the fins it created so much extra force that when I tried to swim, I felt like a car with one of the cylinders not firing. It was really really awkward feeling.
I really think it was the timing of my kicks. The next time I worked out with the fins it was much better. I think you just naturally work yourself into proper timing with the fins on.
I'm just guessing this is the case. I haven't actually stopped to think about my kicking to the degree that they are talking about. As I've mentioned, I already have so much going through my head while I swim, I can't even count laps.

Good Luck at the Rocky Gap

I'm bummed that I'm not going. It would have served well as a benchmark one year ahead of the mooseman.
Looking forward to hearing all about it.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Back at it!

Finally, I went to the pool tonight. I was curious how the breathing was going to be. I've been having most of my issues the past few days, during the evening hours.
Fortunately, everything went very well. I was rather quick tonight. I was doing 50yds in 50 seconds. Some of that time could be the fact I replaced my baggy suit with speedo jammers. From what I can tell this is about 10 seconds faster than anything I can find I've reported. That's the good news. The bad news is that I'm wearing speedo Jammers. I can't lose 20 pounds fast enough now. Ha!

Tri Group in Morgantown

They have a Morgantown Multisport Group here. I don't belong, but am seriously considering. They do group runs, brick workouts, transition training events, and Open Water Swims in the Mon River & Cheat Lake. Last night they had, because of peoples work, three different swim times in the Mon River and a group run. I know this because they have a yahoo group they opened up to the public. These people are pretty active Triathletes. More than a few seem prepared to go to Rocky Gap. The open water swim was preparation for Saturday. Of course they are gearing up for the MedExpress Mountaineer triathlon here on July 1. One guy was even posting the water temps of the river so those without a wet suit knew to come or not. It would be nice to train with people who are doing the same thing as me, Actually it would be nice to train with anybody.

Foot & calf felt great this morning. Legs overall felt fatigued. It might have been the hot pool last night or I need more sleep. I am not getting down as early as I would like. I need to get to bed by 9:30 tonight. They always say you are working on your sleep from two days ago. Also, I am very focused on fluids before an event. I am drinking a ton, which means I am peeing a lot. I should be drinking like this all the time, but I get more focused before an event. I hope to get to the chiroprator for an adjustment in the next two weeks. May be I will ask him about the foot. If I don't get there I think I will call the family physician. Feeling good today.

Tamara always comments on how impressed she is with how I am preparing for an event when it gets close, but then she usually comments on me getting a little disconnected from the family and her. I usually disagree with this assessment, but I have been known to have tunnel vision, so I am working hard to make sure my triathlons don't get in the way of the family, one of the reasons I didn't get the sleep I wanted last night, was taking time to spend with her.

Bike tire fixed. The tire thingies worked great. I bought three, I may have only needed two. Also re wrapped handle bars. Previous wrap was done by me, not a very good job. I did it 12 years ago or so. Tired of living with it.

I did this last summer too. Had tons of time to know I was doing something and waited to the last week to make sure things got fixed or were the way I wanted. I know I am posting alot, but thought you might want to know what happens with your little anxieties before you do a triathlon. I didn't touch worry about how the transitions will go. Of course knowing Shawn and how relaxed he is this may not make any sense to him. That is a compliment by the way.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Looking for Excuses

Well I may already coming up with an excuse if I do poorly in the Rocky Gap. My foot pain happens the morning after I run. Once again my calf has been very tight, even before I run. So, I believe it is from this. When I stretch and lift it feels a lot better. It has not affected me during a bike or run, but I also haven't stressed it like I am going to Saturday. I am not use to any kind of injury. So, this could be minor, and my taper and rest this week will probably go along way in making it feel better. I have been stretching a lot before and after working out to make sure it is good and loose. The foot pain is non-existent during the day. I probably am fusing over nothing, but will keep my eye on it.

Well, I am resting good this week, took Sun & Mon off essentially. Ran 20 mins last night, which almost seemed pointless, but was part of the schedule and rest. Tonight 25 minutes in the pool. Thursday 25 minutes on the bike. Nothing too hard.

I did puncture a tire Monday working on the bike. I am picking up a new tube tonight. I don't trust a patched tube. I'm also picking up enough tire thingies to change a tire without cheating with a screw driver. Not to smart on my part. I wanted to re tape the inside of the rim because the piece protecting the spokes from the tube didn't look too good when I changed tires last year. Should have left it alone.

Will keep you updated. By the way I'm shooting for 1 hour 2 minutes. Under 1 hour would be awesome. I also hope to bring home the coveted Clydesdale first place, but I'm sure some big swimmer will show up and out do me.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mooseman weekend

So I hosted Scott and Sonya at the farm this weekend so they could compete in the Mooseman. Sonya ran the International on Saturday. They were up at 5am and down to the lake before 6. She was hoping for a sub 4 hour time and missed it by only a few minutes. She said that the swim was good but that she tends to panic early and that leads to lost time but then calms down and gets back into it. They both admitted that the swim course looked daunting from the beach. Typically, ocean courses only go out beyond the breakers then go parallel to the beach. The Newfound course makes a big arc way out into the lake, really out in deep water. Anyhow, Sonya said that she took advantage of all three chainrings on the hilly bike course but saw some people pushing their bikes up hills. She also admitted that she walked a few times on the run.
Ryan and I went to the beach at 3:00 (beautiful day, couldn't resist) and I was amused at the number of athletes sitting on the beach chugging beer. One girl in a group of about 10 was trying to get the others to admit that they had also walked during the run.
Scott was in the half-iron on Sunday. The weather was pretty crappy, misty, damp and cool. He said he didn't notice at all. His goal was to finish sub 6 hours and he accomplished it! He didn't seem very happy about it, tho. His brother (my buddy Phil) asked him why he was upset. He smashed his personal record on the swim, broke his personal record on the bike and turned in an average time on the run. Phil asked "Would you have done better in Georgia (their home state) because the roads are better and flatter?" Scott's answer was "Yeah!" So Phil says "Then you rode a tougher course and kicked it's ass! What's your problem?" Leave it up to a brother to straighten you out.
Their final word to me Sunday afternoon was that they wouldn't be back. They use Triathalons as destination holidays and didn't find New England all that attractive. I think that they just didn't like the mosquitos. They are ferocious this year, there are clouds of them at the farm.
If you have any questions let me know and I'll try to recall more of my conversations with them.

A bit off topic here...Allergies

Because my allergies pushed me into a sinus infection which then got into my lungs as well. I've done a bit of research as to how this can be avoided. (for next year most importantly, ha!).

The big thing with allergies is that you have to be preventative. You need to have your defenses in place before you run into the stuff you are allergic to. For me that would mean taking something 24/7 for about 4-6 weeks in the spring. I was concerned if that was ok to do. I found this article on WebMD which seems to say that it is.
Antihistamines aren't Addictive! Link
So today the Dr prescribed Allegra-D for me. When I got to the pharmacy it was going to cost me $130. So they still have their pills. I still have my $130. I'll use Claritin. I'm currently in search of the Generic which that article refers to because it's so much cheaper.
Hopefully this will work, I'm disappointed about the Rocky Gap but I'm already thinking ahead to the Tango. It's time to get healthy and back on schedule with my workouts.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Mooseman Results

Matt was kind enough to I.M. me this link recently.

It contains the results for the Mooseman of this year. I found it to be helpful in showing how fast we should be doing each discipline if we want to be in the thick of things next year. I was delighted to see that there were people finishing in the top half running 9-minute miles, and one guy (Brian Pare) even ran 10-minute miles (after my own heart, he came out of the swim in 437th place, then rode a blistering bike as the 71st fastest contestant, then slogged along in the run at an average 10:17 per mile to end up at 299th place out of 660 finishers). Congratulations Brian! I hope I can do as well. He appears to have been a biker in a past life.

An eight-minute mile doesn't seem inconceivable to me, though it certainly is at the moment. To find the first 12-minute miler (a steady 5 mph run), one must drop down to 549th place. Now, I suppose the good news is that there are still 100 people finishing behind me if I do that, but I would like to get at least into the 6 mph category by race time. Maybe I'll shoot for 21 mph on the bike. Can't do too badly if I keep up that pace.

At least this shows what we're up against. Had I done this race this year, it looks like I would place somewhere in the mid 500's to mid 600's. I'm in the mood to do better than that.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Penguin Leaps

Today was a big day, as I ran, biked and swam, all in one day. Now, this was by no means an athletic biking day, as Fiona was with me all the time, but the running was legit, if slow, and the swimming was probably the most like the real thing. In fact, the swim was very interesting to me. This was my first swim of the year; no time like the present. I discovered that there is no way I am going to successfully swim the crawl in the Tango, and probably not anywhere else either, frankly. But I did develop what I think will come to be called the Fat Penguin stroke, which actually worked great. I was comfortably able to swim 6 full laps at a reasonable speed without feeling out of breath or muscularly exhausted. I feel fairly confident that I can keep that up easily for the 9 laps of a sprint tri, and probably indefinitely. I had no fins on either, so my pace in the Tango will pick up considerably. I did try the crawl for one lap, and I did a full speed backstroke for half a lap too (not in the counted laps). The crawl gets me totally out of breath, which is because I have terrible form, but my breathing is my enemy in all sports. I need way too much air to keep all this muscle mass well fed. So the backstroke is great for me. When I did the regular overhand, full-speed backstroke, I really went fast, but I can't keep up that pace very long. It's like sprinting the hundred-meter dash. So like a Fat Penguin, I flap my wings and fly gracefully through the water much more quickly than my heft might suggest, yet without using too much oxygen. I love not having to bear the weight. It is a nice field-leveler. I would really like to construct some arm fins that resemble penguin wings and strap those on for the Tango. I was thinking of making them out of biogel, and molding them to fit my arms like a wetsuit. I'll let you know how that goes when the time comes.

I am now excited to try some fins and eventually get out on a local lake for some long swims to see if this technique will really work for an hour or more. In the meantime, I will continue to try to boost my aerobic capacity.

Slow Goin'

We were supposed to travel to Warren again this weekend for a 4 day weeekend. I've been fighting allergies which turned into a sinus infection which also is in my lungs. Wake up Friday and Genine has a fever of 102. So that sealed it. We aren't going anywhere this weekend.
Eric is up at the Farm hosting a couple racers. I went online to see the Mooseman webcam but I couldn't get it to work.
I was able to locate a number of my swim class in the Mooseman registration. Which then led me to finding this site.
It looks interesting. It keeps track of all your races and your results.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Foot Pain

Ater all my runs this week I have experienced some foot pain. Not during the run, not even directly afterwards. it usually feel it after a shower and getting ready for bed. Not awful but in the arch of my foot. It is only happening in my left foot. My left calf and thigh was tight during my Sunday run. I don't think I hurt my foot so then my calf and thigh are tight. I am positive My calf and thigh were tight and now my foot hurts. I compensated somehow for my tight calf.

I am stretching hard to keep it from getting worse. I think a couple days I will be Ok. It has felt fine all day today.

Just wondered if anyone else has had a foot problem?