Saturday, July 31, 2010

Meat and Potatoes

The real training for the Baltimore Marathon is just starting for me.  We're just under 3 months away and it's time to start getting some specific long runs and tempo workouts done.

Last week, I was able to run the first 12 miles of the actual marathon course.  Falls Road Runners store put on a training run with 3 water stations on the course.  It was great to get a preview of the course.  The first miles are a gradual up followed by a gradual down.  It's going to be imperative not to overcook these first 8 miles.

The marathon course runs right through some of the neighborhoods featured in the Wire HBO series.  I just started watching it and it was based on Baltimore.  It's cool on one hand as you can see some of streets where D and Stringer were doing their dealings but on the other hand it's not like being in the same area as let's say the MTV show The Hills.  It's only for a few miles and the race starts at 8am so hopefully any potential drive-byers will still be in bed.

Speaking of the Wire, I've been trying to catch up on old TV series that I missed but now the networks have decided to have a summer TV season.  WTH!  So I've got to watch Hell's Kitchen, Rescue Me, Leverage, Mad Men and of course Jersey Shore.  The first Jersey Shore episode was great.  It's harder to tell if it's an act because of all the stardom but they based on the first season I'm guessing it's not too far off.  Watching Snooki getting into a monster Cadillac SUV and crank the seat up for what seemed like 5 minutes was classic.

I'm slowly ramping up the cycling in preparation for the annual triathlon that Orion and I do together.  The cycling legs have been slow to come around but I really have been more run focused so no big deal.  I rode 85 last Sunday but only brought calories for 75.  Major bonk during the last 10 as I was just trying to survive and get home.  I was lucky that I went somewhat early because at around 3:30 we had a super big storm for this area.  60+ mph winds and massive rain.  Tons of trees came down and kill power all around the area.  We didn't have power for 2 full days because it was so bad.

Swimming is well swimming.  I've gotten so extra speed by increasing my stroke cadence but that's it.  Nothing super fast but I've only been doing consistent yards and no speed.  It's just too painful. Ha!  Of course all that will change come Nov. 21st when I signed up for Ironman Arizona 2011.  I got plane tickets for Elena and I since her grandpa is in the area so we'll be staying with him.  I also signed up for a volunteer position which is basically signing my name to the dotted line for an entry in next year's race.  I can't believe I'm doing another one as it will be painful but what else should I do to commemorate my 40th year of living.  I'm not buying a sports car because I'm too cheap so that's going to a piece of my midlife crisis.

Back to more fun things, running tempo miles.  Yippee.  Okay they're painful but a necessary evil to be able to complete Baltimore in a time to qualify for Boston.  I ran just 6 of them today and was quite please with my times.  I'm on schedule but in the 10 miles of tempo later are going to be painful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

10th Annual Helvetia Half Marathon Race Report

It's Sunday morning and I'm sitting in the airport so why not spend some of this free time blogging about yesterday's race or should I say workout.

Lets first rant about Oregon driving.  How slow can people go!?!?  It's amazing that people drive 55 on freeways here.  Shocking...I've gotten so used to driving 55 on main city streets in DC.  I have this main 6 lane street that I drive on all the time.  The posted speed limit is 35 with lights every so often.  Everyone drives at least 45 and sometimes 50 if you're in a hurry.   I get to Oregon and on 217 the speed limit is 55 and everyone drives 55.  I'm going 65 and I feel like an Indy car driver weaving in and out of traffic.  It's crazy.  55 in the rightmost lane and even 55 in the left lane.  Just kill me.  The other crazy thing is how old the highway infrastructure seems.  I had to go over 26 hill into Portland a couple of times this week and man how stupid is those 3 lanes with 3 separate single lane exits as you head into Portland.  Seriously, they have a dedicated downtown exit lane which no one is ever in because everyone is backed up on the two north and south freeway exit lanes.  They could easily have doubled on of the freeway lanes but no let's just back up traffic forever.  I guess with all the hills and rivers I should give Portland a pass as compared to DC we just have the Potomac and no hills so no tunnels but still.

Onto the report...I caught a cold on Wednesday.  I basically sneezed all day Thursday and Friday and felt not so good.  I swam easy on Thursday and Friday morning and it felt okay.  It sortof cleared me up a little bit but not permanently.  I skipped running or cycling on Thursday.  I figured with the cold why not do a real taper.  So took Thursday off running and then I just did short easy run on Friday with some short bursts.  I left work early on Friday as I had been working basically 24/7 for the previous 3 days trying to meet our deadline which we did on Thursday.  I got to the hotel, ate dinner and prepped for the race.  The bonus was a prediction of 80+ sunny degrees on Saturday. least one race would have good weather.

I woke up and voila my cold was gone.  No more sneezing, no more sniffles.  Sweet!  I actually might be able to get in my tempo workout after all.  I drove out to Hillsboro early so I wouldn't have to deal with the traffic.  I figure I'd just hang in the car until it was time to warmup.  I made one round through the stadium to see approximately where the start line was since this is the first time I will be running the new course.  I ran the first annual Helvetia Half when we started at Rock Creek PCC and finished at the Helvetia Tavern.  That course was quite hilly and I was worried this one would be basically just as bad.

I saw Paula and Dave, the race organizers, prior to the start and said hello.  A great duo that I've known every since Amber introduced me to the "blue girl" as she referred to Paula during her early Portland Fit days.  They're a great benefit to the Portland Area running scene.

At 7:30am, I went over to the stadium to stretch and start my warmup.  It was still a little chilly.  I've found now that I'm old I need a decent warmup even for these longer races.  I had my warmup and ditched the warmup sweats in the car and downed my espresso Hammer gel.  I had decided to just run in my normal Nike Air Structure 13 training shoes.  They're almost as light as my DS Trainers but have way more cushion.  I figured with the downhills on the course my knee would need some relief.  This would be the first race that I have gone to a racing shoe.  Kindof weird but oh well.

I got to the start line a little late for me and had to crowd my way in.  The 10k would be starting at the same time as the half.  I assumed there would be a few of them towards the front so I went about 5 to 8 rows back.  The start sounded and we were off or well walking.  I guess I was wrong about the 10k because no one except like 10 people started at a sub 6 pace.  Doh!  It wasn't too bad but I did have to weave my way around a few folks but then it settle out.

I was cruising along trying just to stay easy until I could see my mile 1 split.  The other thing I was doing was gauging my fellow competitors around me to look for a nice big guy I could draft when we turned north up Shute Road.  There was a little headwind coming out the north and we had basically 3 flat unprotected miles headed up Shute/Helvetia.   Mile 1, 6:25.  Perfect and my draft had appeared.  Excellent.

We turned heading north and I tucked in.   He'd pass a few folks and I just stayed tucked in.  We hit mile 2 in 6:22 and mile 3 in 6:27.  Perfect.  We hit Helvetia Tavern just before mile 4 and I downed a Hammer espresso gel with some water from the aid station.  I felt the energy immediately or my draft died one of the two because I opened a gap.  The headwind was gone as we were sheltered but another lucky person hopped in front of me as I continued to conserve. Mile 4, 6:33

The Hills
From mile 4 to 6, the major hills existed.  I had ridden these hills numerous times on the bike back in the cycling days so I knew them but not on the running legs.  By the start of the hills, there were about 5 of us together.  I cruised up the first massive hill and dropped everyone.  I was just cruising and not trying to go too hard.  I was shocked.  I think the drafting paid off as well as the benefit of actually training in hot weather for the last month.  I'm guessing the heat started affecting a few Oregon folks as they haven't had much luck with good weather.  After the first big hill, there was a big downhill.  Here's where everyone basically caught up.  I had this one long legged just cruise right up to me.  I was very conservative on the downhill.  The knee and not really having any real hill training.  This would repeat on every downhill and uphill.  It just seemed odd that I'd be able to hold my own on the uphills. Mile 5(uphill) 6:46, Mile 6(downhill) 6:15, Mile 7(up-down) 6:29

With the hills up done, we had mile 8 which was a pretty good downhill.  Another guy zoomed by.  Mile 8 6:09.  We came up on the 8.6 mile aid station at West Union.  I downed a Powergel as a change of pace.  I learned this from Frederick that straight espresso the whole time was just too much.  I was able to keep that one fast downhill guy in view as we started over some rollers on West Union.  These miles are always the toughest for me mentally.   They seem to take forever and I can start to feel my leg muscles tiring.  I just tried my best to hold my form and foot speed.  Mile 9 6:25, Mile 10 6:26.

Right around the 10 mile marker starts a little gravel section and where the half marathon merges back into the 10k course.  It's been over an hour so the 10k folks are walkers at this point.  Luckily they were quite good about being aware of us half folks which was great.  I really didn't have to weave at all.  The only hill left was the Hwy. 26 overpass so it was just a matter of trying to hold pace and not have a super slow mile like I did at Frederick.

Mile 11 6:27.  Consistent, consistent.  I could feel a little calf and hamstring twinge here and there.  This worries me a little as when the big marathon comes that I'll yank a muscle during it.  Hopefully through the summer, the muscles will get stronger and with 7 minute pace not as taxed.  I went over Hwy. 26 and heard someone scream, "Go Alan!".  It was John Ponterfact from Portland Fit at the last aid station on the course.  I didn't see him and I was by as I heard him so I didn't get a chance to say hello.  Luckily I got to see him post-race and chat with him.

At mile marker 12(6:30), I had caught the one fast downhill guy.  This time I started to get drafted.  This was fine as I immediately went to curb and started to weave in and out of 10k walkers.  I know it's mean but hey it's a race sortof.  I kept trying to up the pace just a little but at this point it was more like maintaining.  He dropped off in a half mile.  I just kept steady as I was nearing the stadium and was thinking, crap I could go 1:25.  I had put the goal of 1:30 since I figured the hills would kill me but man this course was actually quite fast.  I hit mile 13 at 6:29.  Perfect and as long as I didn't pull up lame I was set.

My time was 1:24:34.  Not too far off my actual half marathon PR on the Helvetia course.  Although with that course and the shape I was in those days, I could've easily went under 1:19.  All in all a great workout.  Nice smooth tempo the whole way.  I'm beginning to like racing at tempo pace.  It's not the suffering edge of real racing.  Way less pain although my muscles are pretty sore.  I also had a stomach ache until 5pm.  Same thing happened at Frederick as well.  I'm not sure what it is, perhaps dehydration or the gels.  I just feel like puking after the race.  So no DQ blizzard for me...oh well.  That will keep my weight down which is quite svelte. I don't have as much muscle as I did during the Ironman 08 training but at least my fat is down.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blue Lake Triathlon

I can sum up the entire race in one word, WET!  Classic Oregon summer weather.  Geez...of course it was beautiful on Saturday for the Sprint triathlon and newbie tri folks and it looks like nice and dry today(Monday).  My luck.

Pre-pre race setup (Saturday)
I wouldn't have even planned on doing this triathlon but some of the tri buddies from IMC mentioned it when I talked about getting together for a workout.  My immediate email back to them was I'm not bringing my bike.  No problem, Don said I could borrow his older time trial bike and it would help him maybe sell it at the event.  Okay so I cart out all the triathlon stuff.  I secure some carbon clincher aero wheels from Alanna earlier in the day on Saturday.  This was right after a major carb load at Cheesecake factory with Dylan, Susan, Keira, Eric and Tracey.  Good times had by all and lots of pasta and cheesecake.  Later in the evening I head over to Don's place to dial in the bike.  Wow where do I begin.  I guess I should've known we were going to have bad weather because nothing I tried on the bike worked out.  I brought a cycling computer and it didn't fit the fork.  I tried putting on Alanna's wheels but for some reason the shimano 9-speed cassette wouldn't fit on her shimano 10-speed hub.  It was like the grooves were deeper or something.  It took both of us just to get her 10 speed cassette off to begin with.  Totally gorilla'd on there.  I forgot my 8mm allen wrench to put my pedals on and Don didn't have one.  Luckily with you can basically hand tighten them and they really won't come off.  So what I thought would take about 30 minutes took over 90.  Don was cool enough about it though.

I wake up and load the car up with my stuff.  I really hadn't planned on rain so I didn't have a ton of my typical rain gear and it was pouring when I left the hotel.  I was hoping that it would stop in time for the race.  I looked at the radar and it was totally dry south of Salem so I thought maybe that dryness would move north for the race.  Due to all the rain that Oregon has been getting, we had to park about a mile away from the race site instead of on the grass which is typical.  So I loaded my tri-pack and set off on the bike to pedal the bike.  It was raining pretty good so I was already getting wet.

I arrived at the race site and went Uh-oh.  The grass was basically mud already and there wasn't even 300 or more people trampling over it.  My fairly new training shoes weren't coming out white.  I racked the bike and organized my transition.  I thought about just putting on my wetsuit 2 hours before the race to stay dry but I had planned a 15 minute run to warm-up.  With the cold wetness, I figured it was better to warm up.  Don arrived and told me that our buddy Jeff was wimpin out.  I guess his back was sore as well but the rain didn't spur him to come either.  Don almost mentioned that he was going to just sleep in as well. He really crushed the course so I'm sure he was glad he did make it out of bed after all.

I started to put my wetsuit on after my nice run warmup.  What a pain.  I hate this part of triathlon almost as much as the swim leg.  I wrench, grab and wiggle to get the thing as high up as possible to give as much motion in the shoulder area.  I'm always sweating and my arms always hurt when I'm done.  I got my swim cap and goggles and went down to the lake for a little warmup swim.  The water was warm enough so I got a nice swim warmup.  It always feel weird swimming in the wetsuit because of the weird shoulder sensation.  I need more wetsuit practice I think to get a better feel of my stroke.

Swim : The Dry Leg
I was in the 4th wave on a thin rectangular course.  It was a water start. The best part was a nice wide start too with only one general direction to head towards.  I'd have clean undisturbed water the whole way to the first buoy.

I started my watch at the 10 second countdown so I wouldn't have to fiddle with it at the horn.  I read this from someone and it works great.  The horn sounded and I was off.  No gasping for air just off I went.  I was trying to find a groove but it really wasn't coming.  I was next to a pack of my wave group for awhile then just before the first turn buoy they disappeared.  I have no idea if I slowed down or sped up past them.  I came around the buoy and still open water.  1 of 5 buoys down.  I continued and finally got into a groove.  I tried to push the pace a little bit because I wasn't feeling tired.  I started to concentrate on my form and as always kept wanting the swim to be over.  I tick off another buoy and try to get to the next one.  Then it happened as always I miscounted.  I was heading towards what I thought was the last buoy before the short homestretch but NO.  The last buoy had a slide by it and this one didn't.  Crap, I had one more to go.  I just suck at counting things during a race or keeping track.  I'm this master planner but I can't count to 5 in a dumb race.  I finally hit the last buoy and started to give it all I had to get out the water.  Little did I know this would be the driest I'd feel all race.  I hit the shore and almost fell.  The first steps are always a little woosy for me.  I crossed the timing strip and went up the mud hill.  I finally clicked my watch as I peeled down my wetsuit.  It read 26.  Better than my Potomac 27:30 but not under 25.  Oh well I was still okay with it.

T1 : Calling all wetsuit strippers
I got to my rack and wetsuit pain number two. Getting it off.  I need to practice this because I never have a good time with it.  I struggled to get the last part off my feet and finally said screw and sat down.  I started to cramp here and there as I finally got out my wetsuit.  I put the helmet on, glasses and set off through the mud out of transition.  What a mess.  The bonus was a huge puddle on the pavement at the bike mount area so some of the mud came off before I got on the bike.  This was the first actual race barefoot mount with the new tri-cycling shoes.  It went great.  I got my cold wet feet in without much to-do.

Bike : Pain hurts so good
This was going to suck as it was still raining and I had a sleeveless top and no knee covers.  Actually, I was fairly warm so maybe this wasn't going to be a freeze fest after all.  The problem was I didn't have any cycling legs.  My cycling has probably been the slowest so far but that's planned as it's really a run year.  The bike fit pretty well except the tri-bars were too high so I wasn't as aero as I could've been but there wasn't any wind so not that big of a deal.  I kept trying to turn the gear but the legs were already hurting about 10 minutes into the ride.  I had no idea how fast I was going so I just kept going based on pain.  The one thing I hate about Blue Lake is the bike course.  I haven't done the course in 3 years but what sticks out as it seems to never end.  Sure enough the frickin turn-around just never shows up.  You just go and go it seems.

I saw Don fly by on the way back. He started in a wave 10 minutes before mine plus he swims an easy 20 minute Olympic. The only reason I saw him was he was sporting white Pro-race 3s on his all black bike setup.  He looked good while I was in hell.  My legs hurt a lot and I was starting to think my run would just suck.  I managed to drink my entire bottle of Cytomax which surprised me because well it was pouring the whole time.  I was soaked but the benefit of the aero helmet was my head was pretty warm.

I looked at my split time to see where I was and it read 55 minutes.  I was hoping for a sub 1:10 bike but I didn't think that was going to happen.  I started pushing as I just wanted it to be over running legs be damned.  I had a guy that I was trading legal draft lengths with for a bit and then I had enough of it and pushed past him for good.

I got to the turn for the last bit home.  Man the race organizers screwed this one up.  They had us turn on a grass hill rather than a nice paved entrance.  I had no idea until the cyclist in front of me turn and I saw her front wheel bury about 3 inches.  They carpeted the ground but it didn't help her.  She survived luckily.  I shifted down and prayed I wouldn't crash.  Phew...made it over and undid my shoes for the last 300 meters or so of ride.  Made a barefoot dismount into our favorite mount puddle.

T2 : Mudfest
I ran through what 2 inch mud to my bike rack.  On the way, I took my new favorite gel, Hammer espresso which looked the same color as my barefeet when I got to my rack.  I drank half the bottle of water I had and squirted the other half on my feet before slipping socks over them and putting the racing flats on.  Grabbed my hat and I was off sort of.  It was easy stepping around the run exit turns and such.  So I'm running out the mud transition area and there's this guy who is keeping up with me.  I try to speed up, he speeds up.  So basically I'm racing this guy on the narrow mud path before even getting to the run start.  Crazy but I thought fine let's go as we cross the timing mat and I hear it beep.

Run : Hammer time
My transition buddy is gone when I drop the hammer on the pavement.  I guess he was just sprinting for the transition crowd. ;)  The legs feel good.  Excellent.  I ratchet up the pace to what feels good and then I go oh crap I didn't click my watch at the run start.  Oh well, no problem it's chip timed they'll have all my splits.  I hit the watch and I'll just ignore the mile 1 split.  I keep cruising and passing people.  I see the elites flying in from the run.  This gives me confidence and I run faster.

I hit my first real split between mile 1 and 2 and it's 6:10.  Perfect.  This feels pretty easy so let's just keep this pace til the turn-around(out and back course) and push the last 3 miles home.  I see Don heading home and he looks smooth and good.  It's still raining and course it littered with steeple water jump sized puddles.  The benefit of the puddles is I always pick up the pace through them to try and keep the feet as dry as possible for as long as possible.  Wet running feet suck big time for me.

I hit mile 3 at 6:09 and the turn-around.  Sweet and it still feels easy.  The last time on this course I was doing a duathlon and sucking big time.  It was horrible.  I thought I was going to die.  I ran a 42 and almost decided not to ever do the Ironman because the run felt so bad after the bike.  Little did I know it was my first run of the dualthon that wiped me out.

I turn-around and notice double sweet I have a slight tailwind.  Now I know why Don was looking so good there was a tailwind.  I had been battling a slight headwind on the way out and didn't notice.  I start to push myself and feel that running tired/pain threshold.  I don't see a mile 4 sign..bummer it would've good to see how it's going.  I hit the watch at mile 5, 12:02.  Sweet I just ran two 6 minute miles.  One mile to go let's really hammer it out and see what I got.

I turn down the last stretch of road and see this shirtless guy in front of me about 200 meters.  I really haven't been gaining on him much so he's going at a good pace.  I start pushing harder and then the course gets interesting.  I forgot about this part of the course where they send around the park sort of through a trail system.  I'm pushing to catch this guy and I'm about 10 meters away when we hit this mud downhill.  I slow down and still almost eat it.  I hit the paved trail just behind this guy but it's has some back-n-forth turns and such.  It's super slick because well my shoes are racing flats and the bottom is covered with mud.

I keep pushing the pace hard trying to catch this guy.  I make the catch quick and pass with an extra burst just so I don't get into it with him.  During all this we go by mile marker 6.  I didn't look at the time because the trail was so sketchy but I did a 6:05.  Not bad considering the mud downhill and such.  I see another guy just up ahead so I really start dropping the hammer but the course runs out before I can catch him.  I finish and hit my watch.  2:16....hmm that sucks but I wonder how my run time was...I have to wait for the results I guess.

Post Race : The Cleanup
Don and his fellow Portland Triathlon Club folks are chatting at the finish.  He really had a good race.  We talk for a bit and then I decide to access how I'm going to get all my soaked gear back to the car plus I'm getting cold.  My rack is a mess.  My wetsuit has mud everywhere.  It's just a mess.  I take it down to the lake and wash it off.  I didn't have enough plastic bags to keep my clothes dry but I put them one anyway.  They're sortof dry but at least they're warmer.  Mud and wet everywhere.  I get all my stuff together and start to head out.

At the last minute, I decide that I haven't eaten or drank anything post race.  I park the bike under a tree and head over to the booths for some Muscle Milk and Clif products.  I notice the result table so hey I go see what my run split was.  I look on the results and don't see my name around the 2:16ish other folks.  Hmm...they're printing another set of results so maybe due to the wave start my name isn't in that list.  I wait and finally look at the new list.  Still no name.  Crap did I DQd or something?  I ask the lady behind the desk and she points me over to the van where they are doing the results.

I get to the van and talk to the AA Sports folks.  I give them my number and name.  They have no splits at all.  The chip didn't work.  I tell I swore I heard it beep at the timing mats but now that I think back I was always crossing a mat with someone else except at the finish.  I give them some information and they say they'll see what they can do. I hope at least I can have an official finish time but I'm pretty screwed on the rest.

6:10 pace is a 38:10 for a 10k so that's probably pretty close or I might've just went under 38 for the 10k.  Hard to say.  So overall, I'm pretty happy.  Plus I don't feel extra tired or sore.  Of course, we'll see if today's workout goes well.  I'm not sure what I'll do but I brought both running and riding stuff.

Now a week of work and Helvetia Half on Saturday...with the hills...uh-oh.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Allergies and 2/3

Man, my allergies have been horrible all spring.  It sucks big time.  Luckily, I get my Kleenex at Costco because I go through a box in about 2 weeks.  My allergies probably have a big negative impact on the environment with all the Kleenex I've been using.  This combined with massive sneezing and such after swimming no matter what the season makes a day like today miserable.

I swam this morning and ended up going a little longer than normal.  I started experimenting with breathing every 2 strokes and then every 3 strokes.  I usually breath every 3 strokes so I get to see both sides of the pool.  This makes swimming in open water easier since you can see landmarks no matter what or if you happen to be right next to a person who basically keeps splashing you as you try to suck in oxygen.  It was recommended in the Slowtwitch forums.  Along with increasing stroke rate which I had been experimenting with previously.  Anyway, all this stuff combined has take a couple of seconds off per 100 yards.

The biking has been slowly getting better.  I'm still not in good shape yet but I doing okay.  I rode my longest ride of season so far, 84 miles on Saturday.  It went pretty well although I was on a route with some decent sized hills.  The hills about killed me.  There was a huge hill on a road called, Johnnycake.  I kept thinking man who named this road because it definitely doesn't remind me of cake or pancakes.  I was thinking a more accurate name would be Hellhill Rd. or Losesomeweightfatso Lane.

The run has been so-so.  It's really in maintenance mode right now until later this summer when I start uping the long run for the week and adding significant tempo runs as well.  Just trying to stay injury free.  The posterior tibial tendon pain is gone after taking 5 full days off and doing all kinds of preventive stuff.  Thank god because that made it hurt just to walk.  My poor flat feet have a little to do with all my injuries.  Quite a few folks are always surprised I can run well with such flat feet.  I guess flat feet puts more stress on other various pieces and could explain the latest injuries as well as just being OLD.

It's finally nice weather after a couple of 50 degree days a few weeks ago.  We got heat and of course humidity.  Basically, you feel like you just finished a warm shower after going for an easy run outside.  With the humidity, I've trying to get better about drinking more water.  I hear that staying hydrated also helps in injury prevention.  So it's anything I can do to stay injury free up until the Baltimore Marathon this October.

The most interesting thing that has happened lately is a planned business trip to Oregon is coinciding with the Helvetia Half Marathon and the Blue Lake Olympic Triathlon.  If everything works out, I'll be doing those two events as a book-end to my week in Wilsonville.  I'm definitely not in any Olympic Tri shape but it will be fun to do the event where I first thought about doing an Ironman in 2007.  Back then I was just doing duathlons but that event was where I had decided you know maybe it's time to learn how to swim and step up to a new endurance challenge.  The Helvetia Half and I have a nice history as well.  I help the race organizer plan pieces of the event for the first couple of years.  I ran the old course which was brutal so running this new course should be interesting.

All in all Oregon will be fun.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recovery Week

After the half on the Sunday before yesterday, I ended up basically doing a recovery week.  My quads were quite sore from the half which was surprising.  I guess they weren't quite ready for 13 miles of pounding or what felt like an easy pace was faster than they wanted to go, or the 50 mile ride on Saturday just gave them extra reasons for tightening up.  Don't you just love blogs where you can write massive run-on sentences.  No english/grammar teacher to make your blog all red.  Do teachers still use red pens?

Anyway, so I basically took it easy on the old legs for the entire week.  I just did low miles and let the run come to me.  I also went pretty easy on the bike as well.  So why the legs were recovery, the start of the real swim workouts for the season started.

I'm just going to start another paragraph well because it looks cool.  On Wednesday, I did my first swim workout since last summer.  I did ten 100 yard repeats.  This time I swam 400 yards for the warmup.  In the past I only have done about 200 yards but it seems that I feel better after a little more warmup.  Another sign of getting old I guess.  In surprise, I was able to hit my same times that I did in the past.  Now maybe I can get faster in the pool by September when I'll be doing my first tri of the season.  It would be nice not to be so far behind coming out of the water.  I got time to really see if I can improve.

I don't have any other races planned til then so I'll just keep following my marathon training plan.  I'll be hanging steady with some 30 something mile weeks until August when I'll start cranking up the long runs as I head towards the Baltimore peak.  I kindof dread the those long runs.  It's hard to stay focused for such long runs.  So not only will I be training my body but I'll be training my brain.  The brain definitely says it's hurting and you need to slow down and why are you being stupid, let's just walk.  Crap like that all the time.  It's like the little devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other.  The devil is telling you to just slow down and we'll only walk for a bit.  The angel is trying to keep you encouraged by saying, "Just think of qualifying for Boston and Wellesley".

It's super cold here again.  Well only high 50s which might feel warm to some people but after a few weeks of 80 degree weather it's cold.  Hopefully, it will turn warm again soon in order to keep getting bike miles in.

Monday, April 26, 2010

6 more days..

til the first benchmark of the marathon training, a half marathon.  Actually, it's not a biggie really.  I feel like I'm an experience marathoner.  I've done 4 and therefore have put in easily 6 months at the shortest to a full year in preparation.  The main thing with this marathon training is getting to October injury free and just "fast enough" to qualify for Boston.  The "just fast enough" will be a theme throughout the training.  With that I'm planning on just cruising the half on Sunday.  The competitive juices get flowing and I might actually end up pushing faster.  My legs would be trashed for the following week of training so I'll have to stay calm and just try and get into a rhythm.

I ordered some Hammer espresso gels.  24 in all which should last until marathon day.  I tried the Powergel double latte version on my long run last week and it was way too nasty sweet.  So that's out.  Strawberry-banana and Hammer espresso.  I bought one of those Helium Fuel belts at the running store and gave it a go.  Definitely easier to run with from a comfort standpoint than just the single running bottle belt.  The only drawback was getting the flask in and out of the belt.  It's really only for training as I won't need to worry about bringing water with me during the half or the full.

The weekend is over but I managed to navigate the spring time weather.  I was able to run in nice 70 degree weather on Friday for the long run and ride in some sunshine on Saturday.  Sunday was an easy day with some easy running miles sandwiched around a 30 minute swim.

Right now the forecast has a nice warm day for the half but because it's also a full marathon everyone starts at 6:30am. least it will be fairly warm but not as nice if we started at 8am.  I guess I really only care about the weather on marathon day in October.

Oh another cool thing about the marathon is TweetMyTime. The chip timing system for the half and full is linked up with this company who automatically will update your tweet or facebook as you cross various timing mats and finish.  That's totally cool.  Gotta love social networking..

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day 5K Race Report

Elena's first ever 5k was on Sunday.   The weather was quite chilly at about 45 degrees with some wind but it was sunny.  We had picked up our packets on Saturday so we had our chips and numbers.  I was surprised by the number of people, well over 500 as I assumed it would half that due to the small feel of the race.

Starbucks was about a block from the start line so we went over there to get some coffee for our spectators, Amber and Joe.  Elena ended up scoping out some of Joe's hot chocolate but mainly wanted just the whip cream.  I put the kibash on her whip cream eating so she wouldn't have tummy trouble during the race.  We stayed inside Starbucks staying warm until about 10 minutes prior to start time.

Elena, Jill and I all lined up way toward the back of the start chute.  Since we had a chip it really didn't matter how long it took for us to get to the start line.  The race started and Elena was totally excited.  After a couple of minutes, we started moving and by the time we hit the start line we were going full speed.

Elena was ready to jet off.  I had to slow her down.  The course was an out-n-back with a big downhill for about 3/4 of mile at the beginning and of course that same downhill hits ya in the face with uphill in most of the last mile.  Elena was off and I was kept slowing her down but we still hit mile 1 at 9 minutes.  She still felt great.  She was getting encouragement from fellow adult competitors who she was passing and keeping up with.

We made it to the halfway point and only water stop.  I decided to get Elena some water and it was her only time that she stopped and walked to drink it.  I was worried she wouldn't want to start running again but she started with no problems.  She actually was clipping along for a bit a good speed after the break. We hit mile 2 with a 10 minute split and then about 200 meters later the hill the started.

The hill was brutal on poor Elena.  She was struggling and at numerous points wanted to stop and walk. I kept encouraging her that we didn't need to stop and she was moving and almost done with the hill.  The hill combined with her first 5k really made mile 3 hard.  She kept running the whole way up and made it past the hill.

Mile 3 was 11:30.  Phew..  Once the hill was done it was only about 400 meters to the finish.  We had talked in training about pushing at the end.  She was excited to keep a nice pace then push it at the end.  I asked her if she wanted to push the pace.  She was quite demoralized by the hill but end up pushing a little bit and we finished in 32 minutes.

She finished 2nd place in her age group(8-10).  She won a $15 gift certificate at the local running store.  My baby's a professional now.   No longer an amateur, she's being paid to run. The girl who won was 25 minutes and 10 years old.  She ran the race by herself.  I don't think Elena is tough enough to run by herself.  She'd be lolligaging along for sure.  She needs to be pushed a little.  We'll keep training and probably do the Race for the Cure for fun.  The DC race has so many people there is really no way to go at anything but just an easy pace.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Felt Strong

I actually felt like an athlete for the first time since last summer, today.  I had the strongest bike ride since then although it still wasn't super fast but I felt 10x better than I did on Monday.  I have Elena this weekend so I decided to test a little bit longer brick run to try and keep my mileage up.  Plus it was 80 today and if I tried to run early tomorrow morning, it was predicted to be 50 and rainy.

I got off the bike and downed some extra gulps of water and an espresso Hammer Gel.  Coming off the bike, the legs always feel weird so I was just trying to get them under me.  The wind was whipping quite good but for most of the first mile it was a tail wind.  I was just trying to float along.

I had packed an extra gel in case and was planning my standard out-n-back course.  Depending on how I felt, I could turn around at mile 2, 2.5, 3.1 or 4.1.  The first mile has about half of mile of uphill so it's always a slow go but I came through the marker at 7:10.  This was easily my fastest first mile in forever.  I was thanking the tailwind but knew I'd pay on the way back.  The 2nd mile is a gradual downhill for most of it and then the course basically flattens out.  It's usually the fastest mile for all the runs on this route.  I hit it in 6:30 and was like "wow".  This is cool.  The legs were just feeling good and I was really wasn't pushing it at all.

I decided for better or worse I'd go all the way out to my 4.1 turnaround point and put down the 8 miler.  I was able to keep 6:40ish pace for a few miles until I started to feel a little bonky.  I quickly down the gel I had brought and just tried my best for the last couple of miles to keep the form and pace.  Of course the last mile was into a massive headwind and uphill.  It was pretty painful but I figure I could use the mental toughness for those last 10k of the marathon.

Overall it was a 6:45 average pace and it didn't feel hard.  I think the nice warm weather plus about of month of some consistency in workouts is really paying off.  I'm still fat as the inside of my knees ended up getting chaffed a little from my fat legs rubbing together but it's slowly coming along.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Big race coming up

Elena's first 5k is on Sunday.  We've been training for a month off and on.  She ran a mile last night and it wasn't too bad for her.  I think she'll be fine except there's a slight uphill in the middle of the race.  She moans about running up hills.  Soon enough she'll be loving hills because she'll be able to take advantage of her light body to crush her competition. ;)

Hopefully, if all goes well she'll have fun and crush her age group competition. Okay I have the typical high expectations but I know she can go fast.  I'll just let her go her pace and make sure she doesn't go sub 6 for the first mile. ;)

Finally, the weather here in DC has turned decent.  I'm finally getting into a nice workout rhythm.  This is helping to work off those extra pounds.  I think I gained like 5 lbs during the trip to Florida.  Of course, it probably had to do with going to all you can eat places every other day.  It was pure luck on our part as we had only one all you can eat planned during the trip.  The other 4 places were just by accident.  So all in all, Florida was 5 all you can eat places in 8 days.

Swimming is sucking big time right now.  I just can't get into any groove.  My times are stinking but I'm finally getting consistent so hopefully it will turn around before I start doing real swim workouts.  My first tri of the year is in September so probably mid-May I will start the swim workouts again.  Ugh..ladders and speed intervals.  Definitely painful.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hammer Gel Espresso

I know it's been in like forever since I did a full blown blog.  With simple one-liner status spew outs, what's the point.  Well, it's once again time to keep track of my progress towards something.  Today marked the first real workout towards the Baltimore marathon this fall.

I got this crazy idea to try and run Boston when I'm 40.  It's like my mid-life crisis.  Along with doing Boston at the age of 40, I'm going to do another Ironman.  What better excuse to get out there for 10+ hours of exercise than to try and tell myself I'm not really 40.  40 is a big number.  Life is pretty much half over.  Only 40 more years to have fun.  Anyway, I hated the first Ironman so I probably would never do one again until I got this hair-brained idea to do one for my 40th and then I get to wait 10 more years before trying again when I'm 50.  I got 18 months before the Ironman but only 6 months before Baltimore.

My goal is run Baltimore this year and use it as a qualifier for Boston 2012.  That way I can just train for Ironman Arizona in all of 2011 and not worry.  Well that's if I can run Baltimore in under 3:15.  I think I can do but it won't be a walk in the park like my old days of running.

Back to the here and now, I just did 10 miles and felt a little slow at the beginning but man things picked up nicely after consuming an espresso flavored Hammer Gel.  I got this for Easter from a fellow runner.  I had tried Hammer Gels in the past and never really liked them at all.  I figure I'd give it a go since it was just a training run.  I'm glad I did.  It tasted exactly like a condensed mocha.  I washed it down with some water and about 5 minutes later my pace picked up without much effort.  I wonder if Hammer makes Egg Nog gels.  Those would rock.  So now I have 2 flavors of gel I like, PowerGel strawberry/banana and Hammer Gel espresso.  I got a few more flavors to try over the next long runs.

Well now the rest of the day will be slacking in front of the TV and I'll just ride tomorrow to give the legs some rest unless I feel like a quick 4 miler off the bike.  The weather and my 2008 Ironman picture are fueling my workouts right now.  I can't believe how slim and in shape I was for that Ironman.  Hopefully, I can get back into that shape for Baltimore.  I've started back on the diet and made it through Costco yesterday without buying chips.  Doritos are no longer part of my diet.  Frito Lay may have to tell shareholders and readjust Q2 forecasts. ;)