Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tis the season, for weight loss discussions

Weight loss requires you to burn more than you eat. But you need to eat enough that your body doesn’t go into starvation mode and try to hold onto every calorie you put into it. You figure that out by finding your BMR. Set it to sedentary to see what your body needs are, then subtract the extra exercise calorie burn on your own, on the days you exercise.

I think a 1000 calorie deficit between diet AND exercise, is really as much as you should try as it gives you 2 pounds per week. But more importantly, if you go beyond that, I find you are very likely to fail because of a tendency for binge day(s), as it is truly too much. Actually 1000 is probably too much and why so many plans suggest 500 as it is more easily maintained.

As to how much of Protein, Fat and Carbs...

Protein: You definitely need to make sure you are getting your daily requirement of protein, which nobody can say exactly, so here is how to figure your range. 1.2-1.7g per kg of bodyweight. If you are getting at least that much, you aren’t hurting yourself.

Carbs: This is what is going to give you enough energy to do... Well about anything. The more simple the carb in terms of Glycemic Index, the faster it’s going to give you it’s energy. So it’s important to only eat the super simple ones right before you are going into a workout, or as you are working out.
(I’m a believer of Atkins/low carb ONLY if you aren’t working out at all. If you are trying to be athletic, low carb is only going to give you weak workouts)
I’m a fan of volumetric carbs, to fill the stomach away from workouts. Low glycemic carbs. Raw veggies for example.

Fat: Personaly, fat chills out my brain. If I’m on a diet and I’m at work and I suddenly feel that my brain is really buggin’. Just BEGGING me to eat something, I find that if I have a few almonds, cashews, spoonful of peanut butter... that is enough protein and fat to turn that signal off. An apple or some strawberries or other lower calorie fruit can sometimes work as well, but for me it lasts for a shorter window of time. So depending on how far I am from my next meal, I will choose accordingly between the fats or the lower calorie fruits.

As for how much fat versus how much Carbs per day since I didn’t address that. The more you are working out, the more carbs you will need. As long as your are burning them I don’t think it’s a big deal. If you are counting calories and you know you are in a calorie deficit, they are being burned. No worries then.
Same with Fat right?... Well yes but the trouble with fat is the calorie density. You don’t get to eat as much fat in terms of volume. So if you are someone that doesn’t like to have an empty stomach. Having a higher fat calories rather than carb calories is going to be an issue.
I try to find the least amount of fat I can eat without sending my brain into fits of feeling starved.

Speaking of which, I feel there are 3 ways to feel hungry.

Empty stomach: This is where it’s growling and vocally telling you the fire will be going out soon. Easy to recognize

Brain: The brain needs energy to work. I feel if your blood chemistry is missing something, your brain starts to tell you to go and eat something. Sadly for me, it doesn’t specify what. Only by tracking my foods can I look to see my protein/fat/carb balance to see if I’m severely off track in any single one of these things. It’s important to know, because if you are off in carbs, because of a workout, and you eat some nuts... Guess what, your brain is going to tell you to keep eating because you didn’t provide it the carbs that it wanted. Likewise if you are low in fat or protein and you snack on something that  isn’t providing the proper nutrient.

Muscles depleted: You are in a calorie deficit, there is only so much you can expect from yourself if you don’t fuel properly before your activity. I do well if it’s an actual workout, but if I get into a project that is physical and I didn’t fuel for it because it wasn’t a planned "workout". I might find myself feeling tired, and feeling tired definitely makes you want to eat.

Which brings me to another point. You need to get enough sleep. As I just said above, if you are tired, you are going to search for energy to get you through your day. If you are feeling tired, figure out if it’s because of lack of sleep, or lack of food. If it’s lack of food, you should probably decrease your deficit a bit, because it’s not going to be sustainable. It’s likely you are going to cave in, in a bad way in an attempt to get calories to keep you going.

Lastly in terms of being athletic and improving, you need to fuel properly. Which is why we lose the weight now rather than during race season. This is more for when you are getting into longer workouts but I’ll include it now anyhow.

Use this as a guide for grams of carbs/hour during exercise:
low end
Body weight in lbs/2.2)x.7

high end
Body weight in lbs/2.2)x1

Then of course you’ve got to have your recovery drink/snack. I’m not going to say what is best here. I’ll just say that when I started take it seriously, I noticed a difference in terms of being able to get to my next workout feeling better. I used a powdered drink mix. Here is a link that will explain what you should consider, seeing how not all workouts are equal.

A couple of good links.

Keep in mind that if you lose a bunch of weight, you may need to put new numbers into the equations as you go.

Body type/ metabolisms are different from person to person. I'm someone that has a metabolism that seems to store fat very efficiently. To be thin requires a ton of effort. So some of my descriptions above may not make any sense at all to someone that has a very difficult time gaining weight.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Let's see what happens.

A number of weeks ago, we found out that Hines Ward is teamed up with Got Chocolate Milk and is racing the Ironman Championship in Kona HI next fall. We are from Western Pennsylvania originally, so anything Steelers related is going to catch our eye. Putting Triathlon into the mix makes it even more enticing.

To create our video submission, we gathered bunches of the race photos we've taken. Then we asked Ruth to help us out. That's when we got into full production mode.
We borrowed a bunch of great gear from friends. Ruth created a list of shots she wanted to have available and we spent a few very long days working on getting all the footage.
We hadn't used the equipment before so we had a bit of a learning curve. The first shoot of the day didn't turn out as we had hoped. Fortunately, we had time to learn from our mistakes and from that point on, things moved along quickly.
We were very busy, but it was a fun weekend. One of those "not your average weekend" situations, that create memories we won't soon forget.

Well here is the result. Genine's submission to Got Chocolate Milk? 
Now we cross our fingers and wait.
(If you have a good internet connection, click the cog and increase the video quality up to HD!!)

Here's a link to find many of the other videos that have been submitted.
This link will likely only be useful for a week or two because of how I used the filters.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yikes!! Time to get going.

Hopped on the scale when we got back to NJ the day after Thanksgiving. That was scary but it seems to have triggered the motivation switch in my brain. I've been tracking calories all week. I've been to the pool at 6AM twice this week and I'm running like a man on a mission.
Of course it's only been a few days but I'm hoping this is the rally I've been waiting for. The biggest hurdles are to stay well rested and to keep healthy food available.

The week leading into Thanksgiving was rough. I didn't think much of it at the time, but the other thing that was triggered upon my return to NJ were a few shingles blisters on my ankle. So strange but maybe it's like my own personal stress meter or something. Who wouldn't want one of those? (sarcasm).

I hadn't been going to my normal pool much of this year. It's always way too busy unless you are there at 5 or 6AM. So I had been going to other locations. Well, I'm almost afraid to say it out loud, because I might jinx it. The pool actually looks and feels clean right now!! I don't think I've been able to say that for the last 2 years. I've often questioned if they've drained it in the last 24 months, but kind of didn't want to know the answer to that.
I'm crazy slow right now and 2500m seems like a good stopping point for a workout. I know it will improve in just a few weeks. Which I can't say for some of the others I've seen at the pool this week. There is one guy that puts in the time but has not improved a bit in the last 12 months. I'm seriously considering inviting him to one of my lessons with Coach Q. It's just wrong to spend that much time in the pool and not get any faster. Or at least have it feel easier!!

One final comment just for keeping track of things: I no longer feel injured!
I spent so much time the last couple years with hamstring issues. That bit of tension or whatever you want to call it just changed everything. I never felt like I could push hard. I think I was modifying my stride to avoid further injury. It was a huge drag.
My last few runs have felt great. I'm not saying I'm in great shape. Just that everything is moving well, and that I'm hoping will lead to better times ahead.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NYRR 4 miler Race to Deliver

Late race report here. Last Sunday I ran my 9th race of the year for NYRR, a 4 miler in Central Park.
I didn't wear my watch. I was just going to take what I could get. My training has been hit/miss because of commuting issues with the trains here in NJ.

I put myself in the back of the 2000 corral because I really have not been starting off quickly lately. That got me to the start line 2 minutes or so after the starting gun.
First mile was an 8:30 pace.
Second Mile I lost track of my math and stopped trying to figure it out.
As we cut across the transverse in Central Park, there were now huge piles of wood chips from all the trees/branches they've had to deal with from Hurricane Sandy. We are talking 10 feet high, 10 feet wide and maybe 50 yards long. I'm guessing there was much more that went elsewhere.
3rd mile, felt like I was climbing the hill rather well. Didn't feel like I was losing ground to those around me anyhow.
Finish, didn't even bother looking at the clock. I just ran in as quickly as I could, hoping I could offset the slow first mile split.

Well for the first time in 3-4 years of running these races, my timing chip wasn't read. So I had to wait until pictures were posted. Then I had to dig through the finish line pics to find myself. I crossed at 33:45. So less the 2 minutes at the start gives me a 31:45, or 7:56 min/mile. Nothing to write home about.
Todd on the other hand knocked 10 seconds off his best pace ever at at NYRR run. He ran on a 6:33 pace. He figured that was his Marathon training pay off.

The biggest thing slowing me down right now is my weight. I'm really sick of talking about it but not being able to get any momentum behind it. I guess it's going to have to become THE focus in order to get it going. So I've got to set some short term goals to make that happen. More on that later.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Long Overdue Marathon Update

The journey to the 2012 NYC marathon was interesting. I started the refinance of my home loan a month before the marathon. 2 weeks before the marathon, I start getting calls about needing estimators and inspections on the house. That was no big deal except then there were complications. (which turned out to be minor but felt like a big deal to me at the time). I knew it was bothering me because instead of my typical zen’ed out state when I would be out running. All I could think about were these problems.

To add to my worries, when I signed on to my online banking Saturday, the normal login page was gone. In it’s place was a notice from the FDIC. The bank had been closed by the FDIC and they would be mailing me a check for the balance of my account, which I received about 11 days later. Thankfully I had a 2nd account with some cash in it and that my mortgage payment was paid just before the bank was closed down. I did end up having to pay interest on my credit card because I didn’t have the funds to pay the entire balance from the other account. Stress and Frustration.

Then there was the fact that a hurricane was on the way.
I did have a bit of good fortune in the fact that a generator I ordered a number of weeks ago, happened to be delivered the Tuesday before the Hurricane hit. My biggest mistake was not going out to buy extra gas cans to fill during emergencies. I was hoping that because I had actually spent the money on this, that the hurricane would spin out to sea rather than head towards NJ and it wouldn’t be needed.
I spent the better part of 3 days preparing for the storm. Last year’s storm had so much rain that we spent the majority of our time in the basement running a shop-vac to get the water off of the floor. Eventually we just had to pull the floor drain and mop everything towards that. So we spent time taking important stuff out of the basement, just in case.
Well as I’m sure you are aware, the hurricane brought a lot of wind, created a storm surge for those that lived on or near the coast but fortunately, there wasn’t much rain, a couple of inches. So our basement didn’t have any problems at all. We did lose power for a couple days. Actually 80% of our town was without power. We were probably one of the few houses in the area that didn’t lose a tree. I was amazed at how many trees fell and ever more amazed at how little damage they caused on our block. Only one person had the roof of their garage damaged. A few others had wires torn from their house. Compared to the damage that occurred along the coast, the mess and what damage we had on our street seemed like a minor annoyance.
My place of work in NYC was out of power Monday night until Friday Evening.

Here is a video of the sky from our house. The flashing lights are electrical explosions from transformers. The video is cut short, it continued for about 2 and a half minutes like this.

Seeing all the damage on TV. Then hearing from friends and co-workers that have been without power for days, my stress about my refinance and banking issues were gone. Perspective can do that for you I guess.

Unfortunately, that stress was replaced by my feelings about the fact the Marathon officials and the Mayor of NYC kept saying that the marathon was still going to be run. There were so many people in need of help. Using any amount of city support to run a race, rather than helping those people seemed very wrong to me.
Then to as I started to read the social media (twitter/facebook) to find that people were saying that they would go to the race and Boo the runners as the went by. (mild). Find an overpass and spit on runners as the passed. (medium). Take their fire extinguisher and spray the runners. (ANGRY). Now I was even concerned for my safety running this event.
I spent way too much time stressing on this. When should we get our race number? They are telling us not to go into the city unless we have to because of the traffic and such. I hadn’t heard from Todd who was also running. I kind of figured that if he still wanted to run it, that I would go, rather reluctantly…. I think. It’s just so wrong tho’.
So when they finally cancelled the race, (I received a number of texts and phone calls almost immediately as it was announced on TV) I’m not sure that disappointment was the best way to describe my feelings. In fact I probably laughed about the fact that NOW they decide it’s probably best not to run it. I finally got a message from Todd. “Race cancelled, You can’t make this stuff up!”

I received messages from friends regarding other Marathons that I could still sign up for. The one that probably made the most sense was to drive up to New Hampshire and run in Manchester as it was the same day as NYC.  I could have stayed with my brother for the weekend. But my work had been closed for a week. I’d have to get back to NJ immediately after the race AND, it’s not the NYC Marathon.
I appreciated all the offers, kind of made me wish that I could do all of them. Instead, I’m looking forward to going back to my normal triathlon training and leave the challenge of the marathon out there for a while longer. It’s good motivation.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done a single workout all week. My commute to the city was already a 3 hour chunk out of my day. With all of the problems with the train lines, I’m now dealing with 4.5 to 5 hours a day commutes. Which made me realize just how tight my schedule was. That 1.5-2 hours extra is basically my window where I fit my workouts in. I was speaking with a transit worker today and he feels it’s going to be quite some time until the entire system is back to normal.

I guess I’m going to have to make a plan to get my workouts done in the morning again. Which means I’ve just got to get to sleep earlier and putting my alarm clock further away than my nightstand. (I can hit snooze for a long time without realizing I’m doing it). I just need to change some habits. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

NYRR Grete Gallop 13.1

I was very undecided about this race. My stomach was a mess the day before. I also knew that because of the 10:30 start time, parking would be tricky.
I had thought about arriving early to get extra miles in, or staying late and getting extra miles in.
Genine was already in Central Park. She left very early for the 6:30 Duathlon start.
I woke up around 7:30. Stomach seemed alright but I didn't drink much if anything because I didn't want to have any trouble before getting to the city.
The drive was simple enough but as expected, street parking wasn't going to happen. $20 to park in a lot. Ah well. At least I have time to walk around and stretch out a bit this time.
So what's the plan? Practice marathon pace, then add extra after the race? It's a really nice day but Genine will already be on her way home by the time I finish. Well let's just see how this goes and I'll figure it out along the way.

About 10-15 min to start, I eat an entire pack of clif blocks. I've got 2 GU's with me.

First 2 miles are pretty congested and I'm working my way through the crowds. It's a big race. I think 6,000 finishers. I'm looking at my splits and seeing that I'm on 9:00s. If I'm going to to follow marathon pace, I should slow it down... Mile 3 is an 8:33. You know what? My cardio is fine with this. My legs?? I've run 20 miles already this week. They are feeling alright at the moment. There are plenty of good prediction models out there figuring out your possible Marathon finish based on Half Marathon finishes. Let's do this.

I definitely went into this race under hydrated and with fewer calories in me than I'm used to. Instead of trying to run and drink at the aid stations, I've been walking so that I down the entire cup. It's a warm day and I'm definitely losing fluid. :45 min in for the first GU. :30 min after that for the 2nd.

At the 10 mile mark, I started to think about what my PR is at this distance. 1:50:xx?? That was back in 2008. I don't think I'm on pace to break that but I also know I've only got 5K to go. I start to really focus on pushing the pace where I can. (mile 12 turns out to be my fastest mile @ 8:20)
Did I mention I'm not wearing a hat? Why does this matter? Well I'm really grey for 42 and as we get into the final half mile, any older men that I pass, suddenly find another gear and make a point of passing me back. It's kind of funny.

1  9:08
2  8:59
3  8:33   Decided this is my pace for the day.
4  8:44   Walked the water stop.
5  8:36
6  8:35
7  8:34
8  8:45    Congestion as they split lanes for faster finishers
9  8:26
10 8:36  
11 8:34
12 8:20
13 8:27
.1 0:55

1:53:17  8:39 min/mile

I'm happy with this. My 1:50:xx was when I weighed 175. I'm guessing I'm 190 right now. And yes, I visualize myself carrying a 15-20 pound dumbbell during many of my runs and it's frustrating.
The good news is that if I get through the marathon without injury. I feel that I'm in a really good place in terms of momentum. I'm hopeful that some of these nagging injuries the last couple years may be behind me. I find myself thinking about Columbia Tri and MontTremblant 70.3 2013. Keep up the training and drop the weight and those will be a lot of fun.

For now, it's taper time for the marathon. It seems like a really long time to taper, but what do I know about Marathon tapering? Just follow the plan and see what happens.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A big week of running. NYC marathon prep

This will likely go down as the longest training report ever.

The week following my 18 mile run wasn’t so good. I knew I had to get back on track to make sure that I’m prepared. So I followed the next week’s schedule completely even tho’ it meant running in less than perfect conditions.

Tuesday was 5 miles: I forgot to put on my compression sleeves. I was feeling good, but 2 miles in my right calf started to grab now and then. Wasn’t awful but kind of annoying having that happen so early in a run.

Wednesday was 9 miles: The humidity was unreal. Not terribly hot low 70’s perhaps. I was completely soaked at the end of the run. If it were a longer run my toes would have pruned up. The run went well tho’. Legs were fine, I had remembered to wear my compression.

Thursday 5 miles: With compression, another nasty night of humid running. 5 miles doesn’t seem like such a big deal tho’. I’m just glad that my legs have felt good right from the start.

After every run, I’d have 4 ice packs out, feet and knees. I’m not having any major issues but I’m trying to keep it that way.

Friday and Saturday the weather was fantastic. I was very tempted to do my long run Saturday because of this. I knew this was likely to be my peak volume week tho’. (the schedule wanted the next week to be the peak). So I wanted to make sure I had proper rest going into the long run.

Sunday morning was going to start in the mid 40s and not get much higher than low 50’s and it was going to be raining mid/late morning. Then on/off all day. I had set my alarm to wake up early to try and beat the rain but I didn’t fall asleep easily, so I abandoned that idea.
Now I had decided that I should use this to prepare for a possible cold rain on race day. So I decided to run from the house rather than going to the canal path or something. This was going to allow me to stop at the house 3 times. Which meant I wouldn’t have to carry water unless I decided that I should.
I set out a rain jacket, trash bag, extra shirt, hat, nutrition and water. I planed on starting with no hat or jacket tho’. I decided to wear my reflective vest because it’s grey enough out there that I figure it would be a good idea.

Just before 10, it starts to rain. I down a whole packet of Cliff Blocks. I start running on the hour. For the first time this week, my right leg seems to be tracking well. That’s a really good sign. Oddly enough, my left shin was the tight problem area to start off. I close to 2 miles in, I stop under an awning and squat down to give those calf/shin muscles a good stretch. I can really feel that left side as I do this. When I start running again, it’s noticeably better. The thing is, on race day, I’ll barely be off the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. I really doubt I’ll have the opportunity to do this once I start. I’ll be in a flood of people with some 30,000+ people behind me. (seriously, I believe that there are going to be 47,000 runners this year.) So I’ll have to really work on these stretches before the race. My hands were cold the first few miles as well.

5+ miles in, I stop at the house. Chug some water, a bit of EFS gel, bathroom break and back out the door. Heading out the other direction this time. Initially I was thinking of running 5 miles this way, but realized I could go 6+ easily which would give me options the 2nd time around to go longer or shorter if needed.
I was feeling good but I was soaked. Just like at Mooseman this year, I realized the extra weight was keeping me warm. I was very glad that it wasn’t windy. That would have made things worse. As I was heading back to the house, I was thinking what I should try for the next couple laps. Hat? Rain Jacket? Trash bag? But then it stopped raining. Well mostly.

Nearly 12 miles down:
Back at the house. Change into dry shirt. Drink water. Take EFS flask with me. Bathroom break. Out the door to repeat the first 5+ miles. The dry shirt feels good. It would have been smart if I would have towel dried my hair and threw a hat on. Not that I’d have these options on race day.
Legs are feeling pretty good. Keeping my mind occupied by trying to think of things I’d need to take with me the morning of the race if it’s going to be a rainy day. My pace still feels right although I have no idea what that pace is. I’m hopeful that it’s around 9:30.
As I’m getting close to home once again, I realize I’ll have 17 miles in. Schedule calls for 19. Which would be a new personal best. Thing is, I’m not sure I’ll get a super long run in next weekend. We’ve got a half marathon in Central Park Sunday and I’m not sure that we will have time to tack on the extra miles before or after it. So I decide I need to find some things out right now. I’m going to go 3 or 4 more miles on this final leg.

17 miles down:
Stop at the house. EFS is gone, Down a GU with Double Caffeine, Water, Bathroom Break. Out the door. I look at my watch and figure it’s likely I’ll be running 10 minute miles from here on out. So 40 minutes to go. Shouldn’t be a problem. I can cut it to 3 miles and still hit 20 if I need to.
Getting started is kinda rough but mentally I’m still in this which is good. The beginning of the 2nd mile has a long down hill.  At the bottom I could turn and make it into a 3 mile out and back. The legs are not enjoying hills, up or down. I’m going keep it a 4 mile loop tho.
At the turn around, I’m at 19. When I walk and high step to stretch my legs I’m now starting to feel that there is a possibility that something could cramp. They are really tight. Every step is a new PR for distance tho’. I visualize the fact that the way home will get me in and out of the Bronx on race day.
I start to get into a bit of trouble tho’. Not my legs, my back. My weakness has finally caught up with me. Low back, left side is now very tight which of course carries into my glutes and hamstring. So things are getting uncomfortable. Which I suppose is not surprising at this stage of the game. When I stop to walk, I’m finding it very hard to get started “running” again. (I had to stop at a couple intersections). So I make a decision to not stop unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’ll have to keep this in mind on race day, towards the end of the race.
I get back to the house, look at my watch and see that I’ve finished at 1:20 PM. So 3hr 20 minutes. Or 200 minutes.

21 Miles! My first 40 mile run week! 3+ hour run!
That is a good list of Firsts for me.

Once I’m back in the house, I think I’ve made one mistake. I should have bought the bags of ice for my ice bath before my run. Then I realize, if I got in the tub right now, there would be a chance I would not be able to get back out! I’ve got to stay on my feet and keep my legs moving for awhile.
I mix up my recovery drink and down that. Energy wise I’m feeling much better than I did after the 18 miler two weeks ago. I think that’s because I put too many calories in that day and my stomach got funky. I can’t say for certain that is why but I had no stomach issues at all today.
The low back thing concerns me. Fatigue is obviously the cause so I guess I’ve got to get a few solid weeks of planks in. It can only help.

That is likely going to be my peak week. I love the fact that I was feeling pretty good to mile 19. I’m very hopeful that I may feel better beyond 19 miles because I won’t be running 19 miles the week leading into race day.

Eventually I felt like I was good enough to hop in the car and go pick up a burger and a couple bags of ice. The heated seats in the car felt great on my back. Getting into the tub was slow going but I got it done. (whomever gave me the clue about adding the ice after you are in the water, thank you).

Then I had a massage at 7PM. It would have been nice if it were scheduled a few hours earlier but it was still effective for sure.

Finally it occurred to me that I hadn’t figured out just how slow my run was. So I fired up the pace calculator and found out that I averaged a 9:32 min/mile. That time included all the breaks. I was not in stopwatch mode. I just used clock time. That was very encouraging.

Walls are being broken down people. Physical and mental walls. This can be done!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One Month to NYC Marathon

After the 18 mile Central Park run, I was feeling pretty optimistic. That run went better than I expected. Unfortunately, the next 7 days were awful. Every run took me at least 3 miles to feel like things were moving the way they should. So the first 3 were no fun at all. On top of that I had some crazy headache that had been building for over a week. My balance was being compromised as well which made me think that it was in my ears. I eventually realized that taking some Sudafed might actually help. Fortunately it did, I was going to the doctor the next day if it didn’t. I was getting very uncomfortable. I’m hoping that whatever is going on in there clears out soon. (I’d blame the pool but I haven’t been there.)

Sunday I went out for what I planned to be a 2 hour run. It ended up being about 70 minutes. As I said it was a bad week. I was probably 45 minutes in before my legs started to feel alright. Which was about the time the sky was looking really really black. I decided to get out of the storm and call it a day and call it a bad week.

So I knew that this week I had to get it done. Last week was practically a recovery week so hopefully things will get better.

Tuesday 5 mile run: Legs feel good right from the start. 2 miles in my right calf starts tweaking randomly again. Guess I should have put the compression sleeves on. I got through the run without too much trouble but I’m sure I was compensating in an attempt to not aggravate that muscle.

Wednesady, 9 mile run: This run went really well. I had my compression on tho’.  The last 5 miles still felt the best. I can’t believe how humid it is out there. I finished this run looking as if I took a shower somewhere along the run. I can’t imagine it could be like this on Nov 4th. It will be much bigger challenge for me if it is.

Obviously I’ve been running much more that I have in the past. I’ve also switched from running in the morning to running after work. My legs are much more stretched and ready to go in the evening. Which I’m hoping will help keep me from being injured. Also, when I finish my run. I have time to ice my feet and knees. I never had time for that if I ran in the morning. Anyhow, our town is a pretty safe place but I’ve definitely been running into more groups of teens lately that have been shouting stuff as I go along. Not that big of a deal but I’m definitely noticing them being more obnoxious now that I’m running in the dark from 7ish-9PM. Guess there’s another reason to go back to running at 5:30 AM.

I had to go back and do more work on the car again last weekend. The brake on one side still seemed to get hung up from time to time. With Genine home it made it much easier to test things out. It’s impossible to spin a wheel and work the brake pedal at the same time. This week I adjusted the emergency brake cables. Of course in the back of my mind is the comment the guy at the garage had made a long while back. He said that one of the cables was frozen in place. That didn’t seem to be the case when I had the brakes apart last weekend but this weekend I had access to both ends of the cable. It took some time to get the center console apart to get to the cables but it wasn’t difficult. Once I got there, I took all the tension off the cables and sure enough… they worked perfectly. All I had to do was adjust the tension, the one side had tipped significantly and was pulling on that side just a bit even when the brake handle was all the way down. Pretty simple job. Hopefully I won’t have to do anything with the rear brakes on this car until the rotors need to be replaced.

Projects like this are keeping me from getting out on the bike or getting to the pool on the weekends. Which honestly, is fine with me. The marathon is the goal and it’s getting all of the attention. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to the swimming and biking tho’.
Soon enough, only one Month to the NYC Marathon!

Monday, September 24, 2012

NYRR 18 Miler, Marathon Tuneup 2012

I passed up a fun long weekend back in our hometown to run this race. This race would be my longest run ever. I’ve been concerned about it because I’m right at the point of a marathon schedule where I get injured. Also, I’ve really been having trouble staying motivated at about the 12 mile mark of my long training runs. I was hoping that being in a race would give me a push through that tough spot. Also I wanted to see if I could get out there and just run my pace without any help beyond a simple lap counting watch.

I set everything I needed, out the night before.
Some key gear, that I didn’t use before:
Asics running shorts (the pockets are large enough to carry gel flasks)
Gel Flasks (carrying 2 with liquid EFS Kona Mocha)
CEP compression sleeves.
Sole dual layer socks
Black Cherry Shot Blocks to eat before the race.
Baggage: EFS recovery powder in a shaker and a bottle of water to mix it with after the race.

I woke up at about 4AM to leave just before 5AM. Hoped to be in the city by 6AM.

Ate my oatmeal and got out the door on schedule. Everything was going well. I was up near the race start at 6. Unfortunately, there was a street fair of some sort happening nearby. So they were towing ALL the cars on one of the Avenues. Which meant side street parking was tough to find. I spent 30 minutes looking before realizing I was out of time. Found a parking garage and crossed my fingers that it wasn’t going to cost too much. $12. Whew! I did look into this the night before but didn’t see anything under $30 online.

Race start is in the North East corner around 104th St by the way. Run is counter clockwise.

I walk/jog to the start. I’m definitely later than I wanted to be. I had to check my bag and get online for a “Bio Break”. As soon as I saw the lines, I knew I wouldn’t be starting the run when the horn sounded. I also knew that if I tried to run, I’d find that there would be lines at every pit stop along the way for the first 3-4 miles. So I waited it out. (I really didn’t have a choice).

I cross the timing mat at the start line about 8:30ish after the horn sounded. This definitely allowed me to run my pace to start because I had so much room due to the lack of people. Of course it also meant that I would eventually have to run through all of the slower paces. Which turned out to be not so bad.
In my rush to make it to the start, I forgot my gatorde bottle in the car. I was going to need to hit the first few water stops.
As I was running through the first crowd, it was kind of interesting to see the vibe of this group. Some people fast walking. Some people “running” but so out of breath I was worried for them. (this is between mile 0 to 2). Then there was one lady that was singing along with her iPod… terribly. I felt badly for anyone around her that might be spending significant time within listening distance of her.

So my goal for the day was to run a 9:30 pace the entire time. That actually would probably be my secondary goal. My primary goal is to not get hurt! During my shorter mid week training runs, I feel that my legs feel like junk for the first 3 miles. Well that wasn’t the case today. I felt really good right from the start.
First mile 9:30 (ding!),
2nd mile 9:38,
3rd mile 9:06. You could probably create the elevation profile based on my splits.
4th mile 9:21
5th mile 9:26
6th mile … I missed it because I was running to the water table. I am forearm blocked by a guy crossing ahead of me to the table who doesn’t want to slow down to pick up water. Then pushes me again on his way out. (Ever feel like tripping somebody?). But just then from behind I hear shouts of “Move to your left!!!” being repeated over and over. That would be the bikes making room for the lead racer. I realize I started 8 minutes late, but this guy was finishing 12 when I was at the 6 mile mark. Very cool to see the speedsters running through, although I think from this point on he had a significant advantage because of the cyclists making room for him. (he finished the race in 1:34:47 a 5:16 pace).
6th  & 7th mile 18:20
8th mile 9:32
9th mile 9:23 … Feeling really good to this point. I finished off my first flask of EFS but along with the water I’m curious if I’m over doing it with the calories. My stomach feels a bit odd. Maybe I should have waited longer to start with the EFS because I had the shot blocks at the start.
10th mile 9:13
11th mile 9:26
12th mile 9:16 … Typically this is where I just want to stop running. That’s not the case today. The only issue at the moment is that I’m starting to feel the miles in my legs.
13th mile 9:30
14th mile 9:37
15th mile 9:44 … At this point I’m pretty psyched about the fact that I’ve just run 15 miles without walking anything but water stops.
16th mile 9:30 …
17th mile 10:11 …  This would be a climb. Hamstrings are getting tight and my stride feels very compressed. I “funny walk” for a bit in an attempt to get some length back into the hamstrings. (Well not exactly like in the video but you get the idea). I can’t help but feel concerned about cramping although it doesn’t feel like that’s going to happen.
18th mile 9:30

Total 2:50:22 for a 9:28 pace   1925th overall/4320    1316th male/2275      223 Age Group or 394

Obviously I am pleased with the results. I ran the pace I set out to run with very little discomfort. That was VERY encouraging.
Although I couldn’t help but think about the additional 8.2 miles I’d have to run for the Marathon.  I’d say I started to feel every hill starting around mile 14. Up or Down. Immediately after the race 8.2 more miles sounded like it was going to be a problem. (and it might be). But now that I’ve looked at the Marathon Course Map and I’ve broken it up. I feel better about it.
16 miles gets me into Mahnattan. Which was my main goal for the year.
18 puts me half way to the Bronx.
20 puts me to the Bronx
21 and I’m out of the Bronx
23 I’m alongside the park and about a 5K to the finish.
There is a good chance there could be some bad miles towards the end but at least I’ve finally shifted my mindset to get to the Marathon finish line instead of just taking what I can get.

As soon as I finished running, I went to my bag and mixed up my recovery drink and chugged that and switched into a dry shirt. This is the first NYRR event I’ve done where I saw a ton of post race stretching going on. Me? I was all about getting my hamstrings stretched out and finding some water. I thought I was doing fine while I was running. Now that I’ve stopped, I was really feeling kinda funky. I should have brought a few bucks with me. Unfortunately my cash was in the car. Once I was  in my car I just wanted to get home. I had some Gatorade and a bit of water left over from the drive in, it would have to do.
It took an hour to get home. I stopped to pickup 2 bags of ice. Filled the tub and in I go. Then the 2 bags of ice got added. I probably should have had a bit more ice , or maybe I’m getting used to cold ice baths.
Once I was done with that. It was time to eat. But what? I should have prepared better for this. I was very hungry at this point and ended up ordering a pizza. Probably not the best choice. I watched some of the Jets/Dolphins game while I was eating. It was a close game but I wasn’t very interested. Eventually I set my cell phone alarm for an hour later and fell asleep. Woke up to find out that I was eliminated from my NFL Survival League. Knew I should have picked the Bills! I had the 49ers.
I finished the day by going and getting a massage. I felt pretty good but I know the next day or so could be ugly.

I guess the one thing I haven’t mentioned that shouldn’t be overlooked is this. My stride felt great! My right leg has been so funky for sooo long. I’ve kicked the inside of my left ankle so many times over the last couple years. Not Today!! I really hope it stays like this. It’s nice running and not feeling like you are going to injure yourself!

And finally, it’s nice to have a new “longest run ever”, I’ll worry about pace for some other event in the future. Right now it's cool just to have covered the distance.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Here's what's been goin' on

Last weekend I spent my Saturday working on cars and bikes.
I washed the 2001 Jetta, I couldn't find the sponge I usually wash the car with but there was another one in the bucket I use. Opened that up and for some strange reason, decided it was a good idea to use the rough side on a few spots on the car..... Really? What possessed me to do that? It did a number on the clear coat of the car. It's not awful but I was just amazed at my stupidity. I'm actually considering buying a kit to fix it back up. It's got 112,000 miles on it but it still looks good. (until now...) Really it's not horrible but it's one of those things that once you notice it, you see it every time.

Next I had to get the oil changed. Should I do it myself? Or go somewhere? I really hate to be under the car. Even with ramps and jack stands, I still worry that it's going to fall on me. So I went to a garage to have it done. They weren't busy so I mentioned my issues about the brakes and muffler. The muffler was just a band that had come loose. They reattached that for me. Then they said the back left caliper had brake fluid on it. I'd changed that caliper last year I think. Anyhow, I knew I had to look at that soon as well. That's something I can take care of myself tho and save a bunch of money.

After that I actually went to the pool and swam for a bit. I miss swimming. I would really be something to live somewhere when I could swim in a nice clean lake all summer. Pool swimming is a bummer when it's so nice out. I'd imagine an outdoor lap pool would suffice.
Then when I got home I did my lifting for the 3rd time that week.

Then I took my road bike out to the driveway to do some work on it. The clip on aerobars have been removed. I had to install the brakes. I had stolen the ultegras off of it for the tribike because it was easier to change the pads when I'd switch between my trainers and the race wheels. I had to run a new brake cable. I didn't feel like unwrapping the bars so I just ran it through the existing housing. It worked well. The cervelo brakes (or whatever brand they are) are kind of funky. The front one had some corrosion on the adjuster. So I ended up pulling all of that apart to clean and lube that a bit. Then I stole the pedals off my tribike and grabbed a saddle off the shelf and went up and down the street a couple times. It's nice not having the aerobars on there. I've got to work on dialing in saddle position and I probably will need to change the bar height as well and maybe stem length. In other words, it's a work in progress.

Sunday was a 15 mile run. I'm thankful that Todd decided to run with me, even tho he ran 12 miles Saturday. He stopped mid run for a bit of shopping but probably ran 13 of the 15 with me. All in all, it went well for me. I still really have trouble at the 2 hour mark. Something triggers in me that makes me want to stop at that point. I'm going to try taking in more calories during the 2nd hour to see if that changes anything.
Post run: recovery drink, ice bath, massage.

Missed my 4 mile run on Tuesday.
Wednesday I ran 8. It was an interesting run. You know how I've been complaining about my right leg being so awkward. How my foot strike it so random in it's placement and all that. Well, my right leg seems to be getting back with the program. It feels like it's moving properly most of the time now. It's been a really really long time since it's felt this way. I'm wondering what has changed. The massages helping? Is it because I haven't been on my bike in weeks? Or is it the run mileage? If I had to guess, I'd guess that it's my lack of biking. I'll bet my cleat position or something about my setup is throwing off my muscle balance in my right leg. I'm thinking of getting some speedplay pedals that have a ton of float to them to see if those work better for me.
Anyhow, obviously the good news is that the mechanics of my right leg for running is getting back on track. The bad news is that it changes a ton of stuff. My right foot was kind of hurting after the run. Also my pace has quickened which on one hand is great but not this late in a marathon schedule. I ran 5 tonight (Friday) and was constantly having to slow myself down. I may have to get my watch out w/ footpod to make sure I run slowly enough.

This weekend is going to be interesting. I mentioned the brake issue on the car. Well it turns out the piston isn't moving well on the other caliper in the back. So now I've got to work on both of them. If my neighbor is home to help me bleed the brakes, and if I can get the parts. I'll probably swap them out tomorrow. If not. I'll see what I can do with the current parts. Because I've got a run in Central Park on Sunday morning. There isn't a train that will get me there early enough, so that's not an option. Ugh. I really hope everything works out. It's about 100 miles round trip.

Not to mention, I'm already nervous about the run. 18 miles. My longest run ever. 3 laps around Central Park. I'm really hoping that running with all these other people will give me some race day energy and I'll find the 3 hours will fly right on by. I really need this run to go well. I'm right at the point where I've failed the last two years. Finishing this well, will be a serious confidence booster.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weights: How to become more consistent?

I started lifting weights this week. As I was planning out what I was going to do, I thought about the fact that in the last 2 years I was never able to keep my weight lifting on schedule. I think I might have figured out why.

When I pulled out the paper that listed all the exercises from my training program, I remembered that it would take me about an hour to finish the workout. I think I need to adjust the plan to be in the 25-40 minute range or perhaps even shorter.

There have been times that the workout didn't happen because I didn't feel that I had an hour left in my day. So instead of doing part of it, I don't do any of it.
Then there are times when I couldn't bring myself to do the workout because I knew that I wasn't going to be able to stay strong through the whole list of exercises. So I'd put it off for a day when I might feel better...

It seems that I need to create a plan that feels much more "doable". So that I'm less likely to skip it.

Well right now, because of the marathon training, I want to take it easy on my legs. I'd rather do too little than too much seeing how I keep injuring myself preparing for marathons. So I've created a couple different workouts and they only take about 30 minutes.

One is all upper body which I'll do 3 times this week.

The lower body I think will break up into 2 lists.

One will be exercises that I can do at home.
The other will be a list of things I can only do when I'm at a gym.
This way, when I'm at the gym (not often) I'll only be doing exercises that I can't do at home, making the most out of my time spent there.

I also need to come up with a short list of lower body, at home exercises that I can do after a bike or a run. It may be that I need 2 lists that I alternate between. The point is to get the weight training into the schedule.
I had always been thinking about weight lifting being on the schedule twice a week. Breaking it up like this will probably mean there will be weights 5 days a week. Let's see how it goes.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Can I make it to the NYC Marathon Start Line?

Last weekend was perhaps the worst I've felt during a run that wasn't preceded by a 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike, which I paced poorly (ahem.. Mont Trembant back in June).
Of course the pig roast / beer fest last weekend probably contributed as well....

Anyhow, I decided to try a number of new things in an attempt to build up and survive the marathon training.

1) Fueling during the run. I really haven't tried different products to know if one is more effective than another for me. I have been using GU because I like the flavors. Well I now have some EFS Liquid Shot that I'm going to use for awhile to see how that works out.

2) Calf Compression Sleeves. This past Thursday I was supposed to run 7-8 miles, I ran 3. My right calf kept freaking out on me. Everything would feel fine, then BAM! A muscle in my right calf would pull tight for a split second, making it feel that if I stepped on it the next stride, I would damage something. I'd stop and it would be fine... for another few minutes.
Not sure why it was happening, uneven pavement? Tight muscles? I can't say, but I decided that I was going to wear my calf sleeves for my long run and hope that it helps. Well that long run was today, 13 or so miles and not a single issue with my calves. I was on the even surface of the Canal Path but I'm hoping that the sleeves were part of the solution.

 3) Recovery Fuel. I've been eating something post run but maybe what I'm eating digests too slowly to be an effective recovery. (I can't be like Mirinda Carfrae and drink chocolate milk unless I take it with a bunch of those lactose pills). Of course many recovery drinks have whey in them and would likely to cause me grief as well. So after a bit of reading, I discovered that the Whey Isolate is probably my best bet because it's low on lactose. So I ordered up the EFS Ultragen. It's coffee flavored, it's drinkable. I'm hoping another flavor may be better but honestly I don't care. If it does what I need it to do, down the hatch it goes. It's not THAT bad.

4) Foam Roller. I've had this thing for a long time and it's just not been used much. Until now. I've actually got some "free" time since I haven't been swimming or biking. So I checked youtube for some help and started to do some rolling a few times a week. I haven't found a best video yet. Start here and just watch a bunch of "related" ones until you think you've got more of a clue than before. It's way too easy to avoid the painful areas. Suck it up and get it done. I'm told that it gets less painful if you roll often.

5) Ice bath after the long runs. This is a "must do" for me. Any time I run over 2 hours, fast or slow, my hips, knees and feet really need this. (really makes me wonder if I should be sticking to 13.1 as my longest event).

6) Ice packs on feet and knees after every run, no matter how short/long. Icing my feet isn't new to me. It's what I do to keep Plantar Fascitis from reappearing. Putting ice packs on my knees is new since Timberman 70.3 a few weeks ago. Honestly, running has me feeling really old lately. The ice definitely helps. If you've never tried it, you really should. Same with the ice baths.

7) Supplements: Triple Omega 3/6/9, Glucosamine / Chondroitin sulfate. I understand that these may not help me at all. As long as they don't hurt me, they are staying on the list. (feel free to comment) For what it's worth, I rarely use NSAIDs. If I do use them, I make sure they aren't in my system during a workout. (again feel free to offer feedback, always curious of others knowledge on the subject)

8) I have a number of prepaid massages saved up. I've booked a massage every Thursday night and Sunday night from here until the marathon on November 4th. I'll cancel along the way if I'm feeling good. I just wanted to have it on the schedule so I know it's available if I need it.

 9) Sleep. I've been very focused on going to bed early. Between this and a much lighter training schedule, I've realized just how tired I've been for way too long. It's kind of funny to say that marathon training has been a nice break or an easier schedule, but I've chosen a very novice program from Hal Higdon and only have 4 runs a week.

10) Diet: I've been having a very hard time over the last year to lose weight. It's typically not WHAT I'm eating but HOW MUCH. I'm not exactly sure what's happened over the last week but I'm not eating as much. Perhaps my body has adjusted to the lighter training schedule? Or maybe because I'm not exhausted because of the training schedule, so I'm not eating to get through my day? Or is it the run focus? I've heard that if you are a runner your body WANTS to be lighter. I don't know, a mix of all of them perhaps. All I can say is that I will be very happy to see the numbers on the scale getting smaller again.

There should be a 11th item on there but it hasn't really been happening yet so I didn't include it. I'll put it as a subnote here.

11) Crosstraining: Basic abs workouts, Light strength routine, swimming & biking.
I really tried to get some swimming in. I went to the pool twice and it was closed both times. Grrr.

My first confidence builder/destroyer is in 2 weeks. I'm signed up for the 18 miler in central park. That will be my longest run ever if I finish it. I'm hopeful that the race day vibe will help me once I reach the 2 hour mark. I really start to lose motivation at this point and I'll have another hour to go, maybe more. (If only I could run faster...)

Edit: I think I missed something. I just found this article regarding cool downs.

My new favorite Smoothie

I have a  new smoothie recipe that I really like.
You really can't go too wrong with your portions, it's depends on what you like.

1/2 to 3/4  cup almond milk (my lactose free solution feel free to use milk)
1 cup of frozen blueberries
½ to ¾ frozen or unfrozen banana
1 TBS of Honey (It’s not as good without the honey)
1 or 2 TBS peanut butter (to taste)
Throw some protein powder if you want to boost protein content. I’ve been using Rice powder.
Then toss some ice cubes in and blend.

I really don't like bananas but I love this. 
Maybe eventually I'll actually like/tolerate bananas because of this.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Alright, let’s see if I can get back on track with writing some blog posts again on a semi-regular basis. I’ve been coming across all sorts of good stuff on the web that I’ve wanted to write about and link to and I really would like keep track of that information.

The first thing was information about bike fitting. Following Timberman, I really wanted to get back out on the road bikes, without areo bars. Which would probably mean that I would need to be fit to my bike again. I was never very comfortable on my road bike and so I was looking to compare it’s geometry to my tri bike. That turned into a whole lot of reading but at the end of it, I felt like I had a clue. Now I’m really interested to see a fitter and see how it all matches up. Once I confirm my understanding of  it all, it’s definitely going to help me when it’s time to shop for bikes. I’d been looking at cyclocross and 29ers and comparing geometry between frames. I was seeing how certain brands would be better for different body types right out of the box because of their geometry. At some point I need to get out there and start test riding some of them just for fun.
For now I’ll just leave you with this link that has a ton of information on the subject.
I’ll get back to this once I’ve had some time to work on it more.

I’ve also found a bunch of swimming videos that I found to be very interesting. I’ve definitely lost momentum in the pool. I’m starting to feel like I want to get back in there and get to work. (Too bad I didn’t feel this way all summer.)  If I lived near a nice lake with a good place to open water swim, this wouldn’t have been an issue.
I’ll eventually post something with all the swim video.

Of course my biggest disappointment right now is the fact that WTC/Ironman has dropped/canceled Mooseman for 2013. Writing out an angry rant here isn’t going to change anything so I won’t. I’ll just hope that someone else steps in and takes over the venue and does a nice job with it.

My focus right now is the NYC Marathon. I’ve decided to choose the most basic of plans out there. 4 runs a week, a plan that will hopefully get me to both the start line and finish line. (Obviously, not very quickly).
So far it isn’t looking very promising. First long run was cut very short at 5 miles. Then this weekend’s 12 miler was just awful. It was bad from mile 1 to mile 6. My legs were VERY tight and slow. 7-12 actually felt better. I’m certain my pace was still horrible tho. It’s too early to be concerned, I’m going to keep at it and see where I end up.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Matt's 2012 Timberman Race Report

Heading into this year’s Timberman was kind of strange.  I suppose it was because both Genine and I knew we hadn’t done the training we should have done to make this a successful race. Which I suppose took the pressure off in terms of expectations. On the other hand, I had no desire to suffer through the cramping I dealt with at Mont Tremblant 70.3. So even though there were lowered expectations, there were some goals in place, and there never seems to be a lack of lessons learned during each event. I’ll start off with one of them.

We had to check in our bike the day before the event. No problem, except we were meeting the McFadden’s for dinner at their place and I felt we were running behind schedule. So I checked my bike in leaving all the taping of equipment into place onto my bike for the next morning. Not a big deal. Except that the next morning I was doing my tape job while it was packed in the rack. 6 GU’s on the top tube, it looked good but I found out on the course that I didn’t tape some of them low enough. So when I ripped them off, I only got half of the opening, which leads to much longer than twice the time to consume the GU while on the bike. Lesson learned.

Swim: I knew this wasn’t going to be a good swim for me. (haven’t put in the laps). I still planned on focusing on a few things. At Mont Tremblant, I was way off line and had to swim like crazy to get back on track. After that race was when I realized that because I tend to go left, I have to pass people on the right, otherwise I’m going to be going off track. This worked very well other than for the first 300m or so. Because I’m so slow, I put myself further back in the pack for the start, almost last in fact. I started on the buoy line because it was a clockwise swim. Unfortunately, someone nearly the same speed as I was to my left and he kept drifting right, to my drifting left…. We were hitting each other so much I was expecting an elbow to my ribs or a punch thrown at any moment. I backed down. I let him swim ahead and I watched him swim to the inside of the buoy line. After that it was a pretty good swim, meaning I found feet when I could, I swam a good line and I wasn’t killing myself aerobically. On the way back to the shore, I spotted a cap from the wave behind us. I jumped on his feet…. For about 4 strokes.  I kept his kick in sight as long as I could for a directional aid tho’. I ended up using about 3 or 4 people from the wave behind me as a guide on the way to shore. The best news, when I stood up to get out, my legs didn’t cramp on me. Finally!!!
Swim: 38:00 for comparison in 2009 I swam a 33:27. This year IMMT 37:44.

Wetsuit stripping: I hope the kids weren’t offended that I didn’t go to them even tho they were waiting. I waited briefly for the only adult male I saw there. It went smoothly and I was headed for my bike. 
Running into T1
Bike: I plan to go really easy on the bike today. If I have the cramping issues I had at Mont Tremblant, I’ll likely never do another 70.3. I told Genine I planned to stay in my small front chain ring as much as possible.
I was in the 7th of 12 waves starting today. The later waves were equal to my age or younger so there were people passing me like I was standing still. I had read about how when racing an ironman, your bike ride should feel like the easiest ride you’ve done all year in terms of effort. Well, considering my training, I figured this was a good strategy to follow. So I kept my ego in check and watched what felt like 100’s of people pass me. I was being more than courteous to people that were approaching. I’d wait to pass until the really speedy people were around me. Which I thought was going to lead me into taking a penalty. We were on the way out, approaching an intersection, which had cones  out to separate us from the cars. I was looking to pass some slower riders and I looked over my shoulder to see others approaching. Well I think it was a group of 5-8 riders…. And a motorcycle with an official on it. When we reached the cones, it got really congested. I was definitely close to the slow cyclists who where ahead of me and to my left was this peloton of 5-8 going by and I’m watching the official on the motorcycle write down numbers onto his clipboard. I felt that he looked right at me as he wrote it down. At which point I thought to myself, this is going to be my slowest 70.3 bike and they are going to give me a penalty on top of it! Ah well, the group that was passing deserved it. If I got caught in the slow lane in a “draft” waiting to pass, that will teach me a lesson. (I didn’t get a penalty).
Shortly after that, I heard a siren behind me. Up ahead, I see a tangle of traffic and people off the road tending to someone. That always makes me nervous. A good reminder that safe is better than fast. (at least for me).
I spot Ed who started 15 minutes ahead of me just before I turned off of 106 towards the turnaround. I note the time and see how long it takes me to reach where he was. It was a bit of a guesstimate, but I was about even with him. That was encouraging. I really expected that he might beat me by 10 minutes or more today.
This next statement might give light to my lack of intensity. I think it is important that friends point out to THEIR friends, when it is time to replace their bike shorts or Triathlon bibs, as it is unlikely that they will be in front of a mirror in full sunlight. There were several people on the course today that their shorts, in full sun, were presenting a full moon to the people behind them. Not pretty. I know it’s a tough topic to bring up people but I’d appreciate it if you’d mention to them that it’s time for some new shorts/bibs.
 Once I got off of 106, I knew that I could probably get away with pushing a bit harder. As I was climbing the connecting road to 107, there were 2 kids on BMX bikes (or 20 inchers as they are called, I think). As I climbed by, I said “Race Ya!”. The younger of the 2 said “All Right!!!”. The older said “Noooo, you can’t do that”. Could have been a funny race to the top of the hill!
107 is a downhill bomb on somewhat iffy pavement. So perhaps a blessing in disguise, I had a few bikers ahead of me that were overly cautious and a car between them and me, there would be no bombing of 107 today.
Next we climb across Frank Bean road to 11. I passed quite a few people here. I started to feel good about my pacing decision. Then when I started to climb 11, I knew I wanted a clear road to bomb the downhill if possible. I passed enough people to create a gap ahead of me, then eased off a bit. At which point a couple people passed me but not very convincingly. So I passed them back as we neared the top an then FLEW down the hill. I don’t think I was passed again until I was in the no pass zone just before transition. That’s right. A QT2 person passed me, and the person ahead of me in the no pass zone going into transition. I get that we should have been going faster here but seriously, we are talking maybe a 5 second difference. I hope that was the difference of a podium for him….
3:08:18 .   2009 Timberman 3:06:36 (with a flat). Mont Tremblant 3:02:16
Liked the new Lizard Skins bar tape and CeeGee's aero pads!

Run: In my head I had 2 hours as my time goal. I realized that this would be difficult but I was hopeful that I might make up for time lost on the bike. (I was surprised that I finished my bike in 3:08:18, I was kind of expecting 3:15:xx).
Very early into my run, I see a pro woman approaching. Heather Wurtle. People are applauding and yelling. I figure she must be in first. Moments later I spot Cait Snow. She is FLYING. I shout “You can catch her!” I had a feeling that I’d like to see this finish line. (Cait came up 13 seconds short)
Back to me.
I didn’t have my footpod to track my pace. Nor did I bother to hit the lap button along the way. I just kept looking at my HR and it was low 170’s. Could I hold that for 13.1?
The first aid station I came to had a sign up. Pancakes and Bacon Ahead! Seriously, There was a 18” tall pile of bacon and dozens of pancakes on a table. I was very tempted to try the bacon but it was too early in the run. Not long after that, I came upon the best aid station in all of triathlon. (at least in my limited experience). The have a pile of ice shavings from the ice rink. So you can grab a snowball or two and put it wherever you think it would help the most. This is why I make sure I have a hat and not a visor at Timberman. The snowball under the hat is awesome.
As I was approaching the first turn around, I knew I should be seeing Ed soon. I saw him just as I left the highway and was heading into the neighborhood. I noted the time to see if I’ve made up anytime on him since the bike. I believe I came up with 10 minutes down with about 10 miles to go.
The way back to the park has some climbing. I was pushing along nicely right up to when you are about to leave the highway at mile 4. My right quad cramped. Not nearly as bad as what I dealt with at Mont Tremblant. I was able to start walking within a few seconds. I took this as my cue to dial the intensity down. That also meant that I decided to powerwalk the steepest hill on the course. Not a big deal, better than cramping up.
I get back to the park and am met with cheers from the McFaddens as I head out for loop two. I was tempted to ask how far ahead Ed was but figured I’d be better off just managing myself and not trying to push it.
As I reached the Pancake and Bacon table…. There was no bacon left on the table. The price you pay for being slow I guess. Fortunately, the snow pile up ahead was still in full operation. I can’t remember who I saw first heading in for lap 1 Ed’s son Dan or Genine. I think it was Genine. She was just pushing through it. Then when I saw Dan, he looked like he was doing just fine.
As I got to the end of the highway heading towards the final turn around, I figured I would soon be seeing Ed again. Only  I never saw him. I figured I must have been over confident in my pace and didn’t start watching for him early enough. I could have easily missed him at an aid station. Just keep running.
I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I had just run the entire way out once again without cramping, but the scene of the crime was just up ahead. Instead of tempting fate, I power walked that section. Kind of a bummer, but I’m going to call it game management. In golf you can go for the green and possibly drop it into the pond for a penalty, or you can lay it up and leave yourself an easy chip. There is a time when each of those decisions are the right choice. I took the easy layup. Then I was back running again. Oddly enough, just as I was approaching the steep hill again, I thought I saw Ed just up ahead on the hill. I knew running was going to be a bad choice. Fast walked the hill. The whole time thinking I’d be upset if I didn’t catch up, because at this point it would be fun to run to the finish line with him.
Once I got to the top of the hill, I couldn’t see him, I did see Genine headed the other way. I finally asked, “Have you seen Ed?” She said no, he’s got to be behind you. Now I’m really confused. Maybe Genine just missed him.
I get to the finish, no sprint down the chute or anything. I actually didn’t seem to have anyone nearby in front or behind me. The McFadden’s were cheering and I made it to the finish.
Run: 2:09:19   2009 2:09:54    Mont Tremblant 2:22:14

Total 6:01:31  2009 5:55:44 (with a flat).   Mont Tremblant 6:10:53

I’m going to say that Mont Tremblant is the more difficult bike course. Even so, I find it interesting that my slowing down by 6 minutes on the bike, made an enormous difference in being able to “run” without major cramping. Which saved me 13 minutes.
At first I found it surprising that my total time is only off by about 6 minutes compared to 2009. I think I weigh 15 pounds more than I did in 2009 and my swim was about 5-6 minutes slower this year. To be fair, I should subtract another 6 minutes from 2009 for the flat I fixed on the bike.

That may be it for triathlons in 2012. I have no inspiration to race Buckman or Skylands. I’m just not in the shape I should be in to make it really fun. Which is the big lesson for the year. If you want to see improvements, you’ve gotta be at race weight. Diet is going to the top of the list. It’s going to be more important than biking or swimming for awhile. 

NYC Marathon attempt is next. Maybe my pacing lesson can carry over to Marathon.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Working on the bikes.

A couple of weeks back I went into the bike shop where I typically have my work done. I certainly don’t go often, so it’s not like they know me. I’ve just been happy with the work they’ve done for me so I just kept going back.
This time I had a few easy things I wanted done. Replace the rear derailleur cable on both of our bikes and the rear brake cable. The housing may need to be changed on the brake cable.
As he was writing up the work order, he says “Alright so a tune up and a couple cables for each bike”.
“Tune Up? What is involved with that?”
“Oh we clean the chain, true the wheels… that type of stuff”
“And how much is that going to cost?”
“$70 per bike”
“Right, well that is unnecessary. In fact make a note that I don’t want to you make any adjustments to the Front Derailleurs as mine can be problematic and it’s working great right now”
“So just the cables”
“Well since you are just having cables done, I won’t be able to get to your bike until a week from…”
“I’d like to buy 2 derailleur cables and a brake cable, I’ll do it myself.”
“Alright, it’s just that we are really busy. There are only 2 of us”
“Not a problem”

So I leave with 3 cables costing me less than $15.
The thing is, I’ve never replaced the cables on my bike myself. I’m fairly certain that I could do it, but when I do something like this, I like to know all the details.
This is where I’m should be posting links to all the great videos on youtube showing how it’s done. Well, I didn’t look very long but I never found anything that was very good.
I’ve got a bike maintenance book but it didn’t have anything for bar end shifters…
The good news is we were headed to our hometown for a week off. I decided the best plan would be to go to the shop there to get some help. I might even be able to go in and do the work and have them give me pointers along the way. Except that it’s race week, so they are going to be busy. I stopped in anyway. I explained that I wanted to try to do the work myself but needed a backup plan in case I ran into trouble. They scheduled me in to drop by so they could check my work. Perfect!

I started by taking apart the shifter on my bike. (If I’m going to make mistakes, I’d feel better if it was on my bike and not Genine’s) Of course when I pull it apart, pieces have to fall out… I suppose the good thing is that I’ve now seen the entire shifter apart and I was able to put everything back into place. I then sent the new cable through and tightened it into place… a couple times until I got it in the right place.
Next the brake cable: I ran the new cable through and noticed it was still slow to release. So the problem was with the housing. The housing was catching, right where it enters the brake. Trimming off a small bit of that housing fixed that problem. The only other problem was that the cable end at the brake lever wasn’t the right shape. So I was going to have to buy another cable and run it again.

Now to Genine’s bike: I had to swap her rear derailleur cable as well. It was going to go easier than mine. Because once I had the shifter all pulled apart on mine, I realized that you don’t have to take the shifter apart to change the cable! Just shift into the smallest cog, release the cable from the RD. I cut it because it was so frayed and didn’t want to damage the housing when I pulled it through. Then just send the new cable through the front of the shifter.

Then her brake cable: It was also just a housing issue. A quick trim and she was back in business.

Next I headed to the bike shop to have them check the indexing and to get a few pointers.
My bike was up first.
First he swapped out my brake cable for the right barrel end. Then he checked out the rear derailleur. I had the indexing set well. The only part I missed was to “center” the barrel adjuster before tightening the cable down. This would assure me that I’d have adjustment in both directions.
As he was checking the indexing he noticed that the chain line was bad. This had been pointed out to me at 2 other bike shops in the past, but no solution was ever offered. I always figured the previous owner obviously crashed the bike badly, seeing how it had been repainted and the original derailleur was not on the bike. Well today, they pulled out a derailleur hanger adjustment tool and went about bending the hanger/frame back into alignment. It probably took less than 2 minutes. My guess is my chain catcher isn’t going to see much action now. (not that you can ever tell when the chain hits it). Good as new! He did warn me that bending the frame is trickier/more dangerous than adjusting a removable derailleur hanger.

Then Genine’s bike: Quick brake cable adjustment. Indexing looked good other than I didn’t center the barrel.  It was good to go.

I talked with him briefly about the squealing brake issue I’ve been having since I’ve put new brake pads on. He showed me how the front of the pad should hit should touch first at a very slight angle. It might be that I’ll have to take some sand paper to the one pad.

Total cost in parts + what they charged me to take a look at my work. Less than $40.  Money well spent seeing how I now know how to cable our Tri Bikes. 
The one tool I need to buy is a decent cable cutter. The cutters I have in my toolbox will be destroyed if I continue to try and cut bike cables with them. They can barely cut the cables. The money I saved will go towards buying this tool.

I also put new bar wrap on my bike. Yellow Lizardskins. I’ll admit that my cutting of the wrap wasn’t too fantastic but I can hide that under the tape. I'll revisit that step again when I have some time. I think my bike is going to be in better shape than I am at Timberman. Ha ha!