Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A bit of recovery before the fun begins

As I said in the previous post, I really wasn't supposed to race that 15K on Sunday. I really wasn't trained for the volume or the intensity of that run. I'm glad that I did it but now I have to be smart and recover from it. (because I can definitely feel it)
I skipped the bike I was supposed to do later in the day Sunday. Monday was an hour easy spin on the bike then stretch. That made a big difference. Tuesday was a 45 min easy run. The run definitely let me know that the hamstrings are still recovering. Overall, I'm still feeling good.

I built my 20 week training schedule to prepare for Timberman 70.3. It starts on Monday. I guess it's happening at just the right time. I feel like I've become quite comfortable with the plan I had been following.
As I looked over the first 6 weeks, I kind of took in a big breath and thought, "Here we go". It looks like a bunch. I'm going to have to adjust my sleep schedule to make this happen.
I had been arriving at the pool at 6AM twice during the week. I think I'm going to have to start at 5:30 now.
I may have to start running before work twice a week as well. I'll be glad to do this once summer hits and the morning is the coolest part of the day. But right now, I'm just thinking how I've enjoyed only waking up early twice a week. I'll definitely have to start going to sleep earlier.

As the volume picks up, maybe I'll be glad I still have this extra 10 pounds to burn off before August? I keep reading about people that have this extra weight at the start, as part of their plan. I missed my "ideal weight" goal but I lost 10 pounds in about 18 weeks. I'll just have to do that again over the next 20.

Monday, March 28, 2011

NYRR 15K Colon Cancer Challenge / Lazy Sunday

Results Page

I didn’t write anything about running this race this weekend because I had planned it to be a training run. Meaning 146 max HR. So it just wasn’t going to be anything worth mentioning. Also I wasn’t sure I was going until late Thursday.

The race was an 11:15 start, much later than normal. We knew parking was going to be an issue so I had printed some coupons for parking garages (Side story to this)*. We had time to cruise for street parking but we were having no luck. So we headed for the garage, half a block from the garage someone pulled out. Nice!

It’s a cool morning for late March, I think it was low 40’s with just a bit of wind. We had time for a short warmup with some striders. I was feeling good. Now I had to make a decision. HR Training run, Max 146. Jog/run/cooldown, 5K each. Or pace it?

What pace tho? I haven’t run 15K since early December. My only speed run was the 5K a few weeks ago. I decide to go for an 8 minute mile and see what happens.

I’m in the 2nd corral and it’s not too crowded, so when the gun goes off I go with the flow.

1st mile: I’m not dodging around trying to find space. Everything is feeling good. I click my watch at the first mile. 7:49. Alright, that works, but I notice that my watch calibration is off and had me at an 8:10. So my instantaneous pace information was going to be worthless. Not a big deal. I do need to fix that soon tho'.

2nd mile: well there were 2 of them because there was the 4 miler earlier. So initially my split was a 6:50 or something like that, which I knew was wrong. Then shortly after was our mile 2 mark and I was in at 7:20 (down hill help). Still I’m sure that’s faster than I should go for 9 miles so I dial back a bit.

3rd mile. 8:26 Up Hill and a bit of an overcorrection on my dialing it back.

4th mile: I’m rather familiar with the course but I make a point of watching for a “GO” point as this will be the end of the run. There is one short incline then a good descent into the finish. Mile 4 was a 7:36, back on track.

5th mile: So my watch isn’t giving me my pace accurately and I know that I’ll be ascending over the next few miles. I don’t want a repeat of mile 3. So I start to pick out people to reel in. I’ll gauge my effort by my breathing pattern, I don’t want to get going too fast. I just don’t want to fall off. 7:49 for mile 5.

6th mile: Eat my 2nd GU. Heading back into the starting area. I’ve passed a couple people and have a girl with a large red headband as my next target. 7:50 for mile 6

7th mile: I have not gained a single step on this girl with the red headband. I run down hill better than she does, she runs uphill better than I do. 7:39 for mile 7.

8th mile: 2 years ago I ran this race hard and I cramped up at about this time. Funny how that was on my mind, I didn’t stop for water anywhere I shouldn’t need it but I was thinking about it. This girl with the red headband is still leading the way. I’ve got to keep close, I should be able to make the pass on the downhill next mile. 7:51 for mile 8.

9th mile: Really feeling good, it’s been a very comfortable run. I spot my “GO” mark and I turn it up. I’m past the red headband (thanks for the pace!) and am now just focused on holding this quicker tempo. Probably less than a mile to the finish and a nice downhill to speed the way. 7:15 for mile 9.

.3 to the finish: Within this stretch, there are quite a few coaches walking along the side of the race here. One shouts, “Choose your victim and GO!” She wasn’t talking to me but I wasn’t going to be anyone’s victim, so I open it up the rest of the way. (why wasn’t I running all out already?) To add to the sprint push, they call my name over the loudspeakers as I’m in the finish chute. The last bit I ran in 2:17 or a 7:07 pace.

I finished in 1:11:55 a 7:44 min/mile average. Not a PR but I wasn’t expecting one.

Once again, I am more than a little surprised that I had this good of a race in me. I don’t think I’ve run over 10K since early December. (My last 15K “race”.)

2 years ago I raced this 15k and finished in 1:09:01, I had done a ton of running that winter. That was a great race for me and I had a very good tri season. The difference this year is I feel like I haven’t been training hard yet. I’m very interested to see how I respond to the build/speed training.

I meet up with Todd, he’s not as happy with his run. He said it started well but then felt like the brake was dragging on the wheel and he just lost power throughout the entire run. (he still beat me by just over a minute). Then he says, “I probably shouldn’t have run 8 miles yesterday… Or stayed out until 2AM with friends… Yep, that’s a terrible race alright..

So we head back to the car. We get within’ half a block and I say, “I did not notice that on the way TO the park.” As I point to the store on the corner. He looks and has no idea what the place is. But I know that Genine would be disappointed if I was this close to the place and didn’t buy something for her.

Ah yes! Magnolia Bakery, thus the Lazy Sunday in the title. If you are unfamiliar with this reference. You need to go to this link and watch.

*Printer side story:

My home printer stopped working a couple weeks ago. I finally decided I should try to fix it so I could print out these parking coupons. The network card was the bad card. $35 on ebay but it that would take a few days. Search the forums for any additional help. This is what I find. "remove plastic face plate, preheat oven at 350 degrees. Place the card in the oven in such a way that it is suspended and flat. (I used toothpicks, hoped they wouldn't burn at 350) 8 minutes in the oven, 30 minute cool down and install it back into the printer. It worked. Ha!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

NYRR Volunteering / Aches and Pains / Cool Video

Friday afternoon I went to the NYRR NYC Half Marathon Expo and I handed out bib numbers to the racers. This gives me credit towards my 9+1 entry for the 2012 NYC Marathon.

When I first saw just how many bibs there were to hand out, I was thinking it was going to get crazy busy once everyone got out of work at 5-6PM. There was a bit of a rush hour but there were more than enough people handing out numbers. I don’t think that the line was more than three people deep at any point.

The time went by very quickly because it wasn’t very often that you weren’t helping someone. I also think it was enjoyable because there were so many people there that were not from the metro area. Many people were using their passports as their ID to get their race number. I wish I had kept track of how many different countries I helped.

They were excited to be there. They had all sorts of questions. The most concerning of them being. “This looks to be the 3rd corral. Am I going to have to run through slow people?” These people were serious. I had them check with the info desk to verify the pace of the corral. I’m guessing they were in the right spot. They just might not be used to there being so many people that are faster than them.

Many of them couldn’t help but tell us just how long it had been since they’ve run in Central Park, or how long it’s been since they’ve moved away from the city. Fortunately, as I said we were never swamped, so we were more than happy to listen.

The most difficult thing about the race logistics seems to be where their families should be during the race. (the start and finish are not close to each other). Fortunately not too many people asked for help with this issue. (so maybe it’s not an issue?)

I’d say the NYC Half Marathon looks to be turning into a great “destination race”. Which is great for the city and great for NYRR. (Maybe not so great for me, because getting in via the lottery is going to be tough.)

Aches and Pains:

I’ve just finished 20 weeks of “maintenance” training.

I’ve got 2 weeks until I start my 20 week build for the Timberman Half Iron.

So? What to do for the next 2 weeks? The plan was just to continue with the maintenance. The trouble is this. I’ve got a few aches and pains that I don’t think I should have at this point in time. It’s become a bit of a checklist.

Left forearm: Tendonitis, not a big deal. Just annoying.

Upper Back and Ribs: The trip to the chiropractor made a huge difference. Now I’ve become hyper aware of just how much I hunch at my desk all day. Also concerned that it could be related to my posture on the bike as well.

Right Calf: Stiff and sore at times. I’ve been working hard at gaining some flexibility here. Guess I’ve got a long ways to go.

Left Hip: This one concerns me the most. Every now and again I get apain that really zaps me. It’s so quick that I have a hard time figuring out where it’s from. I keep thinking it’s in the socket. (that would be bad) Yet it only seems to happen when I’m tight, usually later in the day following a run. Which makes me think that it’s muscles/tendons, not bone/cartilage.

I’m going to email the coaches and see what they think.

I’m figuring I should just drop to 2 bikes and 2 runs a week and make them low intensity. I’ll keep the 3 swims a week but again, low intensity.

I also plan on plenty of stretching, along with a massage in there some time too.

I need to work on getting more sleep as well. I’ve started falling asleep on the train during my commute the last week or so. That’s as easy of a signal to read as there is.

I’ll admit all of this just makes me think that I’m old and I’d better get used to the aches and pains. If that’s the case, then what can you do? I just don’t want to miss my races this year, so I’m going to try like crazy to keep stuff like this in check. I’d rather race slower than not at all.

Now the cool video.

VCA 2010 RACE RUN from changoman on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Last week my blog post about the 5K was tweeted by NYRR.

You would think that would inspire met to write more insightful posts. Instead you get the following bunch of random stuff that I’ve been meaning to work into a post but I haven’t had the time.


Diet Stuff:

We all read all sorts of things regarding what we should or shouldn’t eat. All too often it’s backed up by some pretty flimsy research. So when I come across something that is from a reliable source or is written without too many assumptions that leave you wondering, I make note of them. Here are a few things I’ve come across lately. Plenty of other good stuff on these sites as well.

Soy products and breast cancer.


Gluten Free?


Diet vs Changing your eating habits forever


I suppose I should own up to the fact that I completely stalled on the diet. I’m not sure what happened exactly. Just got into a funk about a week ago. Fortunately the funk seems to be fading and I’m falling back into line.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dropped a few I.Q. points this weekend.

Saturday morning we went to the pool early. The high school is right across the street. It was busy. Something was going on over there. It turns out the pool was busy too because of this. Many of the adults were at the pool after having dropped their kids off across the street for the SATs. I’d be interested to know what my score would be now compared to 1987. I think I read that they’ve changed how they score those things now. So maybe there’s no longer a direct comparison.

Onto the swim: Because it was so busy, Genine and I didn’t swim in the same lane. We had different workouts planned anyhow, so it wasn’t a big deal. As it turns out I ended up swimming in the lane next to Aaron. He’s a great swimmer. I haven’t seen him in awhile so we chat for a few before I start my swim. When I got to my kick set, when I hit the wall I hear “Hey Matt”. I stop and Aaron says, “when you kick you need to kick from your hips, you are kicking from your knees too much”. ::sigh:: just when I think I’m actually improving something… He then says that he doesn’t think I kick like that when I swim, just when I do my kick sets. So after a bit of discussion, I go back to kicking, now more from the hips. Which now means, I don’t have the strength to kick through the distance without breaking up the set. I mention this to him. His response? “Yeah, kicking hurts”. Ah well, I’m glad to get the advice. If I’m going to do the drills, I may as well do them correctly.

I had mentioned in my previous post that I had gone to the chiropractor. I took Thursday and Friday off figuring I should give myself a break. Saturday turned out to be a bigger day as a result. The swim, I mentioned above. Then later in the evening I hopped on the bike trainer for a 45 minute ride. I guess the legs liked the time off. I was pushing speeds I don’t typically see at the HR I was scheduled for. Then Genine got home from work and we ran for an hour. That got us home at 11 or so. Late night run. Especially since the clocks were moving forward overnight.

Sunday morning was going to be early and busy. We were going to meet up for our first ride outdoors this year. So we had to get the bike rack back onto the car and gather everything for that.

When I went to put the bikes on top of the car. I was having trouble getting the forks to sit into the mounts properly. Upon closer inspection, the forks on our new tri bikes run into the base bar of the roof rack. So they weren’t seated 100%. Ummm, we are running late already…. Plan B…. Plan B… Where are the bike lock cables for this rack? I have no idea….I’ve got no plan B. I decide to drive on the local roads and take it slower than if I’d drive on the interstate. Well we have to get onto the interstate for all of ¼ mile. When I get to the exit 3 miles from our destination…. Yep, the fork mount loses its grip on my bike!!! (How my IQ points do I lose for that decision?) Fortunately, the rear tire strap holds on for dear life and I didn’t have to watch my bike slide across the pavement. Genine was freaked out. I was just annoyed with myself. All I could think was, how I totally deserved that happening for being so stupid.

Once I got to where we were meeting. I started to dig through the car to see what I had available to strap the bikes down better and.... I find the cable locks for the roof rack. Honestly, this will keep the bikes from hitting the pavement if they break loose, but they could still break loose. Drive slowly and stop a few times to check them out on the way home.

The bike ride? It was fine. An easy ride, but honestly I didn’t find it AWESOME to finally be outside riding. I’m not sure I’ll ever be one of those people that ride year round. I definitely prefer warmer biking conditions.

So my bike was shorter than it was supposed to be. When I got home I contemplated jumping in the shower to warm up, but I still had a run to do and weights. So I just threw on a sweatshirt and crashed on the couch for a bit. Alright more than a bit. I think being out in the cold kind of exhausted me more than the workout. (Can I find more reasons for not enjoying riding outside at this point?)

Neither the run nor the weight lifting ever happened. (I’ll blame the bike ride for this too)

I did dig out our old bike rack that doesn’t fit either of our cars and check to see if that system would hold the forks of the “new” tribikes. It does. I had thought I’d eventually buy a 2nd roof rack system but now it’s kind of a priority. I’ll sell the bars from the old VW Golf setup and probably keep the bike mounts. Now I’m wondering if I should sell my Saris rack as well, since it doesn’t hold the Cervelo forks. Maybe I can modify it somehow? I bought it off of eBay back in the late 90’s. It’s definitely served us well. It’s also very flexible. Currently I have it setup to hold 3 bikes and 2 front wheels. I have parts that would allow me to get 4 bikes and 4 wheels up there. It would be tough to give all that up. Unless it actually has some value on eBay to help pay for the new stuff I suppose.

Oh, I forgot to mention we ran into a friend we haven’t seen in quite awhile at the pool. We asked about his race schedule and he said he’d be doing Sprints and Olys. This guy is a really good cyclist, I’ve been hoping to get good enough to go out on some rides with him. I figured this might be my year. That is until he mentioned he had been doing P90X. He had 2 comments about the program. He hates the yoga but does it anyhow. And… that when he finally decided to get on his bike trainer to prepare for 2011, he felt so much stronger than he ever has before…

I guess I just have to accept that if I ever get to go riding with him, it’s going to be a tough ride.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Back to the chiropractor.

It has been quite awhile since I've been to the chiropractor. Honestly, I'm one of those people that should probably go in once a month for a tune up. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing that.

I should have seen this one coming. Sunday evening, my ribs were giving me some grief. I was thinking maybe I had my HR strap on too tightly for the 5K. Then the last couple days during my commute on the train, I could not get comfortable no matter how I'd sit.

Finally this morning, my upper back tweaked and I was in pain. ::sigh:: Tonight was supposed to be my swim lesson. I had to cancel. This was not one of those, give it a shot maybe the swim will work it out type of things. Today became an unscheduled day off.

Of course now I'm trying to decide what to do to try to keep this from happening. I haven't been to yoga in 4-6 weeks. I'm already doing 11 workouts a week. Then an extra swim occasionally when the lessons happen. Fitting yoga in was getting to be tough. Maybe it's worth the extra time tho'. I mean, I know it's worth the time, but there is a limit to what you can do every week.

I actually went to the expensive chiropractor today. I haven't been there in over 3 years. He was surprised to see me. He remembers me from when I was 230 pounds and the neurosurgeon wanted to take a disc out of my back. (that didn't happen). He was glad to see that I've continued to keep the weight off. I was glad that he wasn't terribly busy, in addition to my back being adjusted, he worked on my left arm. He did about 4 adjustments to the elbow trying to get that lined back up and then one for my shoulder. That arm/shoulder is the problem side that keeps me from doing pull ups. It always seems to end up with tendinitis. Last year it was the bicep, this year it's the forearm. Ah well, I can think of worse things to have.

Lastly, I was stuck in traffic for quite awhile today due to an accident. I got to listen to a ton of Led Zeppelin this morning as a result. This is the song that got the "rock block" goin'.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

5K Race video / Some new recipes

I thought this video of the NYRR Coogan's 5K was put together quite nicely.
If you pause it as soon as it starts, 0:00 or 0:01. You can see me on the right quarter of the screen. White hat, Grey Shirt, about mid frame. Just to the left of the person with the orange vest.

I ran about 35-40 minutes Tuesday night. My hamstrings could still feel the race. Which I suppose isn't too surprising. I haven’t run hard in quite some time. Recovery is definitely something that’s on my mind this year. I don’t want a repeat of last fall’s ankle problem. I’ve been trying my best to stretch out after workouts. I’ll probably have to work massage back into the mix once the intensity is added back in.

I’ve really been enjoying the swim workouts now that I’m not dragging myself through the water. I still fall apart but I’m much more aware of what I’m doing. I think before I just had no clue as to what I needed to refocus on, to try and keep it together.

So running and swimming seem to be in a good place. Biking is still unknown. I’m hoping that I’ll be pleasantly surprised, once I’m finally off the trainer. (hopefully soon)

We’ve posted a couple new recipes on the tab at the top of the page.
One is a Veggie Burger, the other is for Brownies.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

NYRR Coogans 5K in Washington Heights

Link to Results Page

Todd and I went into the city this morning to run the 5K. This race was way uptown 168th street. We haven’t been up this way before so we left early. Good thing, the GPS initially put us on East 168th Street even tho’ we programmed West. So we lost 10-15 minutes with that. Because of the mistake, we drove by Yankee’s Stadium, which I’ve never seen before, so that was cool. (yeah, been here since '93 and haven't been to a Yankees game, go figure)

Parking is always an adventure. We found parking about 13 blocks from the start. We ended up jogging to the start as our warm-up. Once we got over there, we had just enough time to do a few striders. These short fast efforts help me get out of the gate quicker. I didn’t have to use the first mile as a warm-up today.

Saturday was a tough 2500m swim, 1:40:00 bike then weight lifting and I’ve done no speed work so I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself this morning. Also it’s 50 degrees and raining… I decided 7:30 min/mile would be a good goal. I was also hoping that by starting 7:30 pace, I wouldn’t blow up. The idea here is to get a baseline. This would not be a Heart Rate run tho’. We are going to RUN today! 23:18 or better is the goal.

Todd and I started in the same corral today. Because we did our warmup and got to the corral late (5 minutes to go) they had already compressed the corrals. (not sure why they bother to do this, it’s unnecessary). So we packed into our corral as best we could. Plenty of people with slower numbers mixed in with us. Probably not going to be an issue for me but Todd is going to have to fight for his pace in the first mile or so.

Horn sounds and we are off. I’m not even sure I could see Todd 60 seconds into the race. I kept peeking at my watch for pace info, I have zero feel for my speed right now, the watch is going to be helpful today. There is a bit of a hill and I’m reminded that I need to start doing my hill runs soon! I was not strong on the hills today as you can see on the graph.

There were 5370 runners today and yes it was crowded but the corrals definitely make a difference. I did very little dodging around today. A mile into the race, I felt that the pack had established itself. The hills provided opportunities but overall it was a good running environment. I’m sure as you go back further in the pack they might not agree.

I missed the mile mark but I was fairly confident that I was 7:30ish. Mile marker 2 I caught and my lap time was 14:34. Good deal, that inspired me to keep powering up the hill. I eventually stopped looking at my watch on the inclines. I wasn’t going to be able to stay at 7:30 pace on those… Make up for it on the descents!

I cross the finish in 22:32. 7:16 pace, much better than the 7:30 I had expected. Heck my best NYRR run was a 7:13 pace. (6:46 is the PR). I’m glad to see that I’m already running nearly as well as I did at any point last year. I feel I have plenty of room to improve. I’m hoping to see those results at the May races.

I’m not sure what to think about my HR. I think it’s too early to read into that at all. I just figured I’d post it for future reference.

Blue is pace

Red is Heart Rate

Brown is elevation

click graph to enlarge

Thursday, March 3, 2011


My patience has returned. A couple weeks ago I couldn’t lose weight fast enough, I couldn’t wait for speed work to begin, for warm weather…. And so on. I’ve chilled back out. Now I’m back to the mindset, stay on track and let things fall into place.

It’s likely there are a few reasons for this. The first is the diet. Being impatient and turning up the willpower definitely got the scale moving downward again, so that’s good. Being stressed about a self imposed deadline, not so good. I’ve got to chill about the time frame and just focus on keeping the willpower strong. I’m not that far behind schedule.

The swim lesson definitely helped. I really didn’t know where I was with my racing fitness. Everything I’ve done lately has been slow. Knocking out a PR out of nowhere built back up the confidence that the Mark Allen training program is having an effect. The lesson also has me moving through the water better. I feel that I’m spending more time swimming with good form than I had been. It had been quite frustrating only to have that good form once every week or so.

I’m starting to see the Heart Rate training effects during my runs as well. My pace has increased and I also think that my recovery HR time has quickened. (I realize I’m running slowly). It’s just that when I stop at a light, I’ll look down at my watch and I’m surprised at how low it is after just 10 seconds or so.

My biggest concern in terms of running is preparing for the hills. Both Columbia and Mooseman have some hills to contend with. I plan on adding some of my old hill runs to the mix now that it’s not so icy around here.

If there is anything I’m still left wondering about, it’s the bike. Some things have fallen into place already. The Chain Catcher and the adjusted derailleur (3rd time was a charm) have relieved that I’m not going to be dropping the chain multiple times during a race, or even more concerning, in traffic during a training ride.

I also installed my speedfil hydration system. I guess I can’t give it much of a review until I’m out on the road with it. I already like the fact I’ve got a hands free system. I’ll be able to keep my eyes on the road. I won’t drop my water bottle. There definitely won’t be a bottle launch or splashing when I hit rough road. (Maybe my legs will get splashed a bit?) All good stuff.

I still have a list of concerns tho’. I really think my shoes are too tight. Enough so that I’m wondering how I didn’t notice this last year. Have my feet changed that much in a year? Not sure what’s up there, unfortunately shoes aren’t cheap. Also you don’t get a ton of selection in the triathlon specific department. (Which may not be a concern). Also I’m questioning my cleat position. I’ve already moved the cleat on my right shoe. I’m not sure how much I’m going to mess with it because I also wonder if the fact that they are so tight that it’s playing a part… ugh! Hopefully I get this figured out. I really don’t want to end up with overuse injuries that could have been avoided by a simple adjustment.

Last is the saddle. I’m not sure any saddle is good when you are indoors on the trainer. I’d like to think when you get one that feels good indoors it’s going to be awesome outdoors but I’m not sure that’s true.

The two saddles I have right now, neither has a cut out. (Genine is using the Adamo). I’ve gotta switch to the other saddle for a week. If it’s more of the same, I need to order up a couple saddles to try out. More on that later.