Sunday, February 27, 2011

Indoor Tri results

Well, the first Tri of the year for me was near perfect!! On my 41st birthday, I WON my first triathlon ever ( and very likely the last).

The guy who won the last 2 years did not come to the race this year, or I would have easily been second. But ,... let's focus on the positive:

The race goes on straight distance,...15 min for swim, 15 for bike and 15 for run. 5 minute transitions for each change. Thus the swim is negligible even for the great swimmers. Most distance is from the bike and I've been training harder than ever in that category.

I swam 575 to 585 yards in 15 min- A 15% improvement from last year.
I biked on the recumbent bike 6.41 miles- a 10% improvement. and
I ran 2.066 miles on the treadmill.- A decrease of 10%.

By plan, my goal was to work as hard as humanly possible on the bike knowing fully that my run would suffer. But even a reduced run would not be reduced by the amount of the improved bike. And it worked, I gained a little of .5 miles on the bike and lost a little less than .2 on the run. Thus a net improvement. The downside was that the run treadmill almost saw a stomach reaction that I did not want to see rotating on the belt. They did not have any barf bags available so I had to decrease the speed a couple of times to prevent this from happening.

50+ participants- A very, very rewarding day!!! Total distance 8.8 miles.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Swim Lesson

Last night Genine and I went to our first swim lesson of the year. I've been dying to get this rolling. I haven't had feedback regarding my swim technique since May of last year. (I think.) My longest swim workout since my return from the ankle injury in November has been 2500m. I have definitely been questioning my swim volume. I suppose that's a good sign. I must finally feel like I'm ready for more. I know I didn't feel this way back in December.

I feel like my swimming is very on and off. Meaning that there are times when I get into the pool and I feel like I’m doing everything right. But the majority of the time, I feel like I’m working way harder than those days when I am ON.

Of course swimming is largely form/technique so I guess this makes sense. If I apply this to other sports that rely on form/technique I guess I see the same thing. Basketball for example, I can remember times when everything I threw towards the hoop would go in. Same with golf, there are those rare days when everything would go just as you saw it in your head. Those are fun days. To make those days happen more often you need to practice good technique as much as possible. Which is why we are taking the lessons. I really didn’t know what I was doing wrong, so the practices had lost focus in terms of technique. Obviously just getting the laps/distance in builds swim fitness but technique is where it's at.

Going into these lessons I always have a bunch of questions that I think that I need to have answered. Then I get there and realize I don’t have to work that hard at finding answers.

He hasn’t seen us in 10 months so he has us swim 50yds to take a look at us. I finish and he immediately tells me I’m breathing late and quickly explains what he means by that and then I’m off to try it on another 50. Then it’s the hand entry, then it’s the pull and so on. I’m always so impressed with how he sees these things but even more importantly, he explains the how to correct it and how it fits into the big picture.

When I get back home after these lessons, I always have to write down all the things he’s told me. I guess it’s because I have so many things wrong, the list is long. Ha ha!

He had asked us what our times were at the beginning of the lesson. Neither of us have really timed ourselves in a long time so….. At the end of the lesson he wanted to find out. We did 2 25s fast with some rest, then a 50 with some rest. Then it was time to go all out on a 100.

There is no clock at this pool and I’m usually in a meter pool so the numbers would be meaningless to me anyhow. I take off and because it’s only 100yd I know I just have to try to leave the throttle wide open. When I hit the wall for the first 50, I think to myself that I have to push hard and try not to fall off horribly during the second 50. I finish and look up to see the coach writing splits on the board. He looks at me and says that he can’t believe that I negative split the 2nd 50 by 2 seconds. Then asks what time I thought I’d finish in. I said I had no expectations because it had been so long since I’ve tried and that because it’s a yard pool it’s even more unknown to me. Well I finished in 1:16. I instantly tried to remember what the math is from yards to meters. Decided that doing math in the pool is not my strong point and left it alone. I’ll figure it out later.

Well it’s later and I finally figured it out. I believe my PR 100m from 12 months ago or more was 1:30/100m which would equal 1:22/100yd. 1:16 is obviously better, and was totally unexpected. I wish we did this test before we started the lesson. I think his instruction shaved off a good chunk of time during that hour. I wouldn’t be surprised it if would have been as much as 10 seconds. I’m not joking. During my workouts lately my 100yd times typically start at 1:41 and fall off (significantly) from there.

Anyhow, that right there was a pleasant surprise. I may not be able to repeat the feat anytime soon, but now I know that is in me. (without having done much (any?) speed work). Sadly I don’t think there is a 100yd triathlon swim anywhere. I’ve now got a bunch of work to do to try and pull off the pace he calculated for our miles.

I'm glad to be getting some instruction again!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chain Catcher / Do helmets expire?

I took my bike back to the shop on Monday to have them work on the front derailleur. This is the 2nd time this shop has worked on it. I took it to one other shop since their first adjustment.

What's funny/frustrating is they get my bike onto the stand and as they look at it they say, "That is a funky chain line you have going on there." I think to myself, "Wouldn't you be responsible for that? Seeing how you re-cabled the bike when it was last in and then adjusted both derailleurs?" Maybe I'm missing something here as I'm not the best bike tech out there.
Anyhow, I show him the K-Edge chain catcher that I brought with me to have installed. I explain to him that of course I'd like to have the front derailleur adjusted so that this is an unnecessary piece of equipment but at the moment my confidence in the shifting is zero. This would give me some piece of mind. Not only has the chain been dropping but shifting up to the big ring has been ugly too. Thus my frustration.
He works on adjusting it on the stand for a bit but then eventually says it would be easier for him to install the catcher if he took it to the back room to work on it. 10 minutes later he's back with everything adjusted and installed. He tells me it's shifting really well now. Unfortunately their trainer was in use, so I couldn't hop on to try it out under load. So I crossed my fingers and headed for home.
Last night I had a 80 minute ride on the trainer with a bunch of shift changes. No drops! And stepping up to the big ring is soooo much better. It's probably as good as I can expect. I just need to readjust my feel for the shifting now that it's working properly.
I finally feel that my dread of shifting on this bike is going to go away. Of course I'm a bit disappointed that I couldn't manage the adjustments on my own but that's how it goes. Until I work at a bike shop making those adjustments every day and learning from a pro, I'll be spending the money when adjusting the trims just isn't enough. (hopefully I'm set for a good long while now)

While I was at the bike shop I also wanted to try on helmets. My helmet is old and I keep hearing people say that they lose their effectiveness with age. Which, when I think about it, makes sense. Especially with a model like mine which is 99% foam. It's going to get brittle with age along with heat (leaving it in a hot car) and light deterioration (normal use).

If I'm going to buy a helmet, I figure I'd like to consider upgrading to something that allows for a ton of airflow to keep me cool. So I started at the top and tried on the Giro Ionos. As soon as I put it on, I thought, "My current helmet is crap". Why? Because of the lack of fit adjustment and such. Obviously there are many other helmets that have the nice fit adjustments, it's just that I've never worn one. This helmet feels like it would stay on your head in a crash, whereas my current one, I'm not so sure.
The second thing that came to mind is just how huge the vents are in this helmet! Seeing it in the pictures didn't give me enough appreciation for how big these vents are. One of the main reasons I'm really not that interested in an areo helmet is the lack of air. I sweat... buckets. These are the types of vents I'm looking for. Obviously this is a spendy helmet. What else is out there?
I then tried on the Bell Volt. $65 less MSRP than the Ionos which is considerable in my opinion. I felt that it fit equally as well. Venting also looked to be very good.
I didn't buy either of them, they both very nice options. I'll make a decision on that soon.

Training and the eating plan are both on track. I've been thinking about my base training and I've been feeling that maybe the volume has been a little low. That may be a good thing. Err on the side of caution rather than doing too much right? I'm probably just feeling this way because I'm itching to start the build for race season. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there feeling this way.

Lastly, is anyone going to the Endurance Expo down near Philly this weekend?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Added some run races

I was on the NYRR website looking at race options between now and mid May.
Here is what made my list.

March 6th Coogan's Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K
March 18th Volunteer for the NYC Half Marathon (credit for 2012 NYC marathon)
March 27th New York Colon Cancer Challenge 15K
April 10th Scotland Run (10K)
May 8th
Japan Run (4M)
May 14th UAE Healthy Kidney 10K

There will likely be another 4 miler in April. I'm just not sure which one.

The March races I don't have high expectations for those.
By April I should be able to turn up the suffer meter and they will be speed workouts.
Then in May I expect to be racing. I'm very curious to see what my speed will be. Hopefully they will be confidence boosters leading into Columbia and Mooseman.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quick Update

This will be pretty random. I'm just not finding the time to post lately.

I heard about a 1 mile or 2.4 mile swim that is happening at Spruce Run in Clinton NJ the weekend of May 7-8. I can't find anything about it online tho', which is frustrating. I want to sign up for the mile, it would be a good practice swim for Columbia & Mooseman. Water will probably still be cold enough for me to try out the swim cap I bought to put under my race cap. There are times that the Mooseman swim is cold enough to give you a good brain freeze. I figure it's probably a good idea to give this a shot. Especially if it's a cold day for the bike.
EDIT: Here is a link to the JackRabbit Jerseyman Open Water Swim at Spruce Run May 7th.
3 events .6, 1.2 and 2.4 mile

Last week as I was parallel parking the car out front, I pulled the front tire into the snow (ice) bank a bit and it completely flatted the tire. It pushed the tire off the rim. Fortunately it didn't cause any damage to the tire, I just had to take it in to be reseated. (free because I buy all my tires at Costco)

I dropped 2 pounds during the first week of this new plan. If you watch the biggest loser, it doesn't sound very impressive. As much as I'd like to think I can power through these last 10 pounds or so and make it happen in a hurry. I have to realize 2 pounds every week would be terrific. (I'll be happy with 1 every week)
As expected the low carb thing really evens out my highs and lows through the day. Which means I'm not in search of food in between meals. I'm feeling pretty good about it all. I only bonked during one of my workouts. The others aren't necessarily my best but I'm in my HR zones and that's all I need to do right now.
The one thing I'm still slacking on is food tracking. I manage breakfast and lunch well but then I figure I don't need to write down dinner because, well, I know it's not going to put me over. So what's the point of figuring it all out? I need to start doing this so if I stall, I can look to see what I can modify. Also it's a good habit for when I start changing my diet again.

I found the Polar 625x's (HR watches) selling on ebay used for good prices so I picked up a couple of them. I spent a bunch of time messing around with setting them up. It's been awhile since I've used the software and there have been some updates. I figure it will be nice to have some of these charts to see the progress. (for those days when you don't think there has been any).
So it's typically set to capture speed from the front fork of the bike. Well, I'd like to start picking up some data from my trainer rides now. So I rigged up my bike so it's reading off the back wheel. I just had to put the watch under my seat, that way it's close enough to pickup the speed.
I had my other watch on my wrist for HR, that is until the battery died. I'll send that in for a battery swap this week, Genine's as well. Once they get back, all our watches will have new batteries and will be set for the year. The extra watches will also mean we can leave one attached on the bike during the race. Much easier to see it on the aerobars than on your wrist while riding. And Ruth will appreciate that I won't have to mess with it in transition.

I had ordered a Tri jersey and when it arrived it was the wrong one. So when I sent it back instead of asking for a refund, I changed my order to a Speedfil. I've read good things and bad things about this system. I like the concept of it and figured it's worth giving it a shot. I've been considering figuring out a pair of bottle holders behind my seat as well. For the Half Iron, I've been thinking about having one with flat Coke in it. I'll have to try it out on my long training rides. Caffeine and calories in a hurry. Also if the speedfil fails, at least I'll have a place to put bottles from the aid station.

The chain on my Cervelo still drops often. I'm hoping to get to the bike shop tomorrow to have them install the Chain Catcher. I was a bit hesitant about this idea at first but when I was at the bike shop the last time, many of the guys there say they have them on their cyclocross bikes. Also they said they would work with me to get the derailleur "tuning" better.

I finally put 2 and 2 together and realized that my swim workouts have always felt rough because I've been doing my weight training the night before my swim. I'm now moving it to the same day as my swim but after going to the pool. Hopefully that will allow me to hold better form longer.

Not too long ago I said my ankle has not been a issue. Naturally as soon as I say that, it reminds me that it's still there. So I've got to get back on track with my ankle exercises. While I was at it, I went looking for some other things that I consider weaknesses of mine. This is what I found.

Exercises for Hips and Glutes.
Clam Shell exercises for Gluteus Medius.

That's what's up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Follow up to my last post.

In response to Dawn's comment in the previous post. I started typing it as a comment then it just got out of hand.

This is a short-term diet to shed the weight, I shouldn't be on it long enough that it will give me issues.

I know that once I lose the weight and I go back to eating normally, and I’ll have to keep track of calories to keep the weight off. I’m hoping that part will be easier than the diet. It should be.

I also should have been more specific about the diet. I called it Atkins just because I figured everyone was familiar with the low carb thing. Here is a rough outline. I’m guessing this might fit any number of “diet plans” out there.

Week one is about forcing the body to go into fat burn.

Breakfast: Grapefruit and Eggs

Lunch: Raw Veggies and Lean Protein

Dinner: Raw Veggies and lean Protein

Snacks, more of the same.

Second week if the weight is falling off, you can add some steamed veggies and various types of nuts.

Third week, if you are still losing, you get to add a fruit or 2 to the mix.

Depending on how the weight is falling off, I’ll either be done with this, or I’ll repeat parts of it if necessary. They go on to explain a long term plan and there's really nothing wrong with it, it's just I know I'm not going to be on it long term.

So why am I doing this rather than just calorie restriction? Because I'm familiar with it and it was successful for me in the past. It's likely successful because I can manage significantly large calorie restriction and not go crazy.

I believe we did this for about 6 or 7 months back in 2001 (maybe longer, I'm not sure). I don’t have cravings on this diet. That is the key. I also remember having very steady energy all the time. (I wasn’t working out then tho’). Once I adapted (finished week 1) I felt very normal.

The difference this time around is I’m working out 6 days a week, I’m 45 pounds lighter to start, I already eat a fairly low glycemic diet, and I don’t consume artificial sweeteners or any soda. So it’s not as much as a shock to the system and there isn’t as much easy weight to lose.

I also don’t have a problem doing this because I’m not eating anything that’s unhealthy. It does lack variety so taking vitamins is important.

I’m also not concerned about having perfect workouts right now. I ran out of power on the bike last night. I just didn't have the calories. So I only finished 80% of the workout. I’m fine with that. Once I’m done with the diet, it should be worth it.

I should have taken a picture of the salad I made for dinner yesterday. It was massive. Cukes, red pepper, sweet pepper, tomato, bean sprouts, avocado, olives, with 4 or more types of greens, topped with grilled chicken and balsamic vinegar.

I already eat that salad several times (4-5x) a week anyhow. So I’m really not adding anything new, I’m just temporarily eliminating this stuff: fruit, sweet potatoes, beans oatmeal, sprouted wheat bread, natural peanut butter, cheese, milk,. And the bad stuff: Cliff Bars the occasional beer, sharing a piece of cake at the diner on the weekend….

I figure I’ll be doing this for 3 weeks, maybe more. I’ll just see how it goes. (would love for it to be over quickly but that is unlikely)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Time to drop more weight

I’ve been doing a terrible job maintaining the calorie deficit needed to slowly lose the weight. I’m not gaining but unfortunately my goal weight keeps falling further away from me. I’m 3 pounds behind schedule. That doesn’t sound like much but I’d like to be ahead of this curve instead of behind it. Yes, I’m being impatient at the moment but I also think I’m in the right mindset to take on a more aggressive diet for a while. (We will see if that’s true). So I’m going to an old plan that worked for me back in 2001 when I weighed 230 pounds. I’m curious to see how well it works starting at 184 pounds. It’s a modified Atkins diet and it’s supposed to be one that you don’t count anything but carbs. (Making sure you keep it low). This worked great at 230lbs but I plan on tracking calories and my carb/fat/protein this time. I want to know the ratios and know how it affects my workouts. Also you need to maintain a calorie deficit to drop the weight even if it says don’t concern yourself with a calorie count.

Our swim lesson was canceled because there was a swim meet at the pool. Now I have to wait 3 weeks until the next one. Another late start to my swim lessons this year… kind of frustrating. Maybe this will work out for the best. We should have 3 lessons before my build plan starts and at least 2 after.

My lungs are still not 100%. If I have another illness between now and the race season, I’ll get to the doctor quick for antibiotics. It’s a drag to not be 100% for weeks on end.

Not very exciting but that’s what’s up.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Central Park NYRR Gridiron Classic 4 miler.

2011 Results can be found here.

I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. My lungs were still not clear from the cold I’ve had the last 2 weeks. Fortunately, I was going to have company during the run. Todd usually starts in the front corral but he ran the Miami Marathon last weekend. So we decided today would be an easy effort.

The walking paths were very very icy. Getting around before the race was slow and dangerous. Yet it was sunny and 41 degrees with very little wind, so a nice day to run. Genine was our photographer for the day.

Because it was Superbowl Sunday they asked people to wear football jerseys. I was wearing a Bruce Smith jersey. There were only 1 comment all day. As I was walking through the baggage claim at the start, someone yelled Bruuuuuuce!

We started back in the 4000-5000 corral, which meant it was plenty crowded on the run. No problem, we didn’t even do a warm-up. The warm-up will be the first couple miles. It always surprises me to see just how rough of a go it is without a warm-up. Here’s the graph.

First mile 9:50

Second mile 8:55

Third mile 8:40

Fourth mile 7:16

My watch/footpod is out of calibration. It measured the race at 3.9 miles and typically it is spot on. So the first 3 miles were probably a bit faster and the last mile a bit slower. My watch hasn’t been working in so long, I forgot to hit splits at the mile markers. I had to add them in using the software.

I’m pleased with the effort. Considering the fact I haven’t run outside in a month and that I’m still recovering from a chest cold, I was glad it wasn’t a sufferfest.

34:37 or 8:39 min/mile.

I realize it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything impressive. No PRs. Not even a race where I go into it trying for one. Where is my motivation coming from? How can I possibly be optimistic about the upcoming season? Well there are a few things I can think of.

My left heel: I had been dealing with Plantar Fasciitis, for what was probably a year or more, it has not been an issue. Will it come back when I start pushing harder? I hope not.

My right ankle: Last fall I was seriously concerned that the sprain I gave myself training for the marathon last year could have been the end of running for me. Now I don’t even think about it.

Mark Allen Online: I often question whether I am doing enough. When I start to doubt myself, I figure I’ll never know how it’s going to turn out unless I follow the plan as closely as possible. I have a feeling I’ll be doing plenty once the race prep schedule starts in 8 weeks.

I can also look to many of the people that have followed his plan and had great success. If I even capture a part of what they have learned and accomplished following the plan. I will be happy.

Looking forward to race day: I love race days. I never would have guessed how much I would enjoy the events. I can't wait to get back into the water for a swim start. I only got to swim at one triathlon last summer!! When I line up for Columbia in May, it will have been a full year between swim starts. Too long!

Anyhow, motivation isn't a problem. If anything is going to get into my head it's going to be my swimming. Last Sunday I had an amazing swim, it felt like I had it all figured out. My 3 swims since then? All garbage... so frustrating! I wonder how much of that great swim can be attributed to a full week of no biking or running?

This Thursday is our first swim lesson of the year with Coach Q. I think I'm arriving to him slower than last year but with fewer problems. (sounds strange but I think it's true). I know he will help me out. Not only is he good at spotting the problems, he's really good at communicating what it is you need to do to change. Should be fun.