Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sit Back 'Cause It's the Wintertime

First day of winter. 64 degrees, running in the pitch black, 8.4 miles, 54:40. Love North Carolina.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oklahoma, Where the Wind Blows Squarely in My Face

Just got back from Tulsa, OK where I ran the 2011 Route 66 Marathon. It was marathon #21 of my 51 state goal (DC included). The downtown area was smaller than I imagined. The weather on Saturday was about 76 degrees and sunny. Little did I know that the high on Sunday was going to be 38 (weather forecasts were calling for 70's as late as Thursday. Still, highs in the upper 50's were expected).

The morning of the race, it was 34 degrees and overcast. The first 9 miles were really nice looping through various parts of downtown and then out to the tier 1 suburbs. Just before mile 10 was a turn around point. We had been running down the river parkway (right next to the Arkansas river) and the conditions were perfect. When I made the turn to go back, I realized for the first time that I had been running with a significant back wind. Now the wind was squarely in my face. For the next 9 miles, we would run squarely into the wind. This actually took a lot out of me. Finally around mile 18 we made a turn back into the downtown area.

There was an option to take a detour and experience the 'center of the universe'. Since this area was next to my hotel, I decided to just do it the day before and see what it was all about. Apparently if you are within the circle of bricks, you can hear yourself echo (and the people around you are unable to hear the echo). Interestingly, there really is an echo (and the woman who took my picture confirmed she did not hear it). This is a picture of me in one of my usual modest poses.

Anyway, was very happy with how I finished the last 8 miles. A lot of people who were ahead of me over-committed and were dropping like flies. I probably passed 15 people in the last 8 miles (including 1 runner who looked exceedingly strong for several miles and had fought me off repeatedly. In the end, i passed him just after mile 25). My splits were strong and I gutted out a 6:53 for the last mile. I finished with a PR (by about 9 seconds). Not bad considering the headwind. All in all, a good adventure. Next up for me now is a turkey trot and the Mistletoe half in December. I have decided against having a trail season this winter. It's too important that I remain healthy given my trip to Spain in July. So I think starting in January, I will focus strong on swimming and in February I still plan on doing the Austin marathon. Then in March will begin the big push for Team USA. Can't wait!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

USA! USA!

I set out last year to make Team USA for my age group. Today i got official word that I have met my goal! I have already paid my deposit and asked for the time off to go to Vitoria, Spain on July 29, 2012. I really could not be more excited! I love nothing more than to travel and compete in athletic events. Traveling to Europe and slapping the 'USA' logo on my butt next to my last name is definitely the highlight of my amateur sports life so far (and will be near impossible to top).

About the race that got me there: Went down to Myrtle Beach for the National Championship last weekend. It was the hardest thing I have ever done physically and mentally. First off, the swim: They miscalculated the current, so we were swimming into a strong current most of the race. I was able to squeak out a PR though. It cost me a bit. I started cramping at the end (something i've never done in practice or in a race). It was just very taxing and i did not hold anything back. My goal was to have no upper body strength left. Check and check.

The bike was windy. I mean wind I hadn't experienced before. My bike was absolutely perfect though. I am buying zipp wheels if i have to take a second mortgage out on my house. The cervelo performed flawlessly and I was off the bike with another PR. And not for nothing, but the damn thing is just beautiful with those wheels.

Right off the bike, my legs felt great. In fact, 9 miles in, i felt great. I had done the math at the bike racks and had recognized enough guys to know that I was all but guaranteed a slot on the US team. I started to have leg cramps around mile 10 or 11. Calves were absolutely ceasing up. I need to invest in the calf socks that prevent that kind of thing for the next race. Also, I NEED to get better versed on what to eat during a race. Eye balling it will not work anymore. I think this cramping can be avoided.

At mile 12 I was running with this guy in my age group. Decided to push it (thinking my calves were going to give out, so wanted to distance between us). This was a mistake. I got a half mile and then cramped up worse than ever. My chance to break 5 and beat one more age group competitor went down the drains. I gutted the last half mile out and finished. I was pleased, but hate getting passed on the run by anyone.

So now it is time to switch gears. While i continue to train on the bike and in the pool, i am gearing up for a marathon in Tulsa in 4 weeks. The goal is to run some halves, run Tulsa in Nov, switch to trail season in January, run Uwharrie, then train for Austin in February. Then i should be properly prepared with a solid base from the running side of things for July. Come March, I will drastically increase swim distance and will get out early and often for long bike rides. Going to be a lot of work, but super excited! Also considering joining a swim team this winter. We'll see. For now, time to run. Tulsa, you are next on the list.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Times Up

So here we are. Less than 48 hours out and I am as ready as i could have hoped.

I had my best race of the year (according to my USAT ranking) in the outer banks at the beginning of September. I followed that up with a tune-up sprint last weekend where i tried out my new(wait for it) P2 Cervelo triathlon bike. My legs were tired on the bike (probably due to overtraining) but when i got off the bike for the run, my legs felt better than i can remember. I think this bike is going to help my bike times but also save my legs for the run (we'll see how it plays out though).

I have tapered this week and had a great tune-up run Tuesday. Weather is not going to be perfect for Saturday (a little warm) but it certainly could be hotter. It is also looking like it will be wetsuit legal. My knee problem is no longer a problem (as of right now) and i am not fighting off a cold or any illness. In other words, I'm right where i want to be. Now i just need to do what i do on Saturday and let the chips fall where they may.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big Push

So I am less than 2 months out from Myrtle Beach. I completed the Mayo Lake tri last weekend and it was really great. It started to POUR raining on the bike though. Made for some tense moments. But the swim was my fastest 750 meters ever and the bike was good considering the weather. The trail run was 3 miles and was very trail'y and wet. Knowing how to run on that surface and in those conditions probably shaved a full minute off my time. All in all good day.

My swim times are improving rather dramatically lately. I'm putting more time in at the pool, doing more miles and doing them faster. I'm getting close to where i want to be (especially after being sick for about 2 weeks there in late July).

The bike is solid but the knee is improving (i think) to the point where i haven't been feeling any pain. Started this week to put extra time in on the bike so hopefully that will pay dividends.

Strangely, i had managed to neglect running over the past several weeks. Work has been tough, but the number of miles i've been putting in is pathetic. This week that changed and I am ramping up to be able to easily finish the half (which is now in about 3 weeks).

Finally, I've ramped up strength training. Doing slightly more core as well as smaller number of reps/higher weight for the weight portion of my training.

I have Inside out putting together the most beautiful machine ever. It's a 61cm P2. But I feel weird putting down 3 large for a bike with the economy the way it is right now. This one needs more thought...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good With the Bad

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been putting some extra time in the pool and doing some more interval runs. I've also put some more time on the bike. So for the first time this year, I was able to complete a sprint and feel like I did it at a good pace. I ended up getting 6th overall at the 'Christmas in July' Triathlon in Greensboro.

The swim was a little shorter than normal (700 meters). I instituted my new technique of keeping my heart rate down at the beginning of the swim. This worked really well! By gradually building my pace, I was able to stay calm and ended with a good time (my estimated 750 m speed would have been under 14 which is REALLY good for me).

The bike was a hilly double loop course. I concentrated on my form (to avoid further damage to my right knee which has been a bit of a problem for a while now thanks to an ailment known as 'cycler's knee'). Anyway, finished 9th overall for the bike. It wasn't fast in terms of MPH but it was a difficult course and I hit each hill hard.

Finally, the run. As always, I was able to get a good start and passed 4 or 5 people before we hit the trail. After a half mile on pavement we ran the NC X-Country course. Really nice single track course that was well shaded, hilly, and well mulched. Not a hard enough surface to run fast on, but I wasn't passed and passed at least 6 -8 people total.

All in all a good race. I followed that race up with getting a really bad cold this week. Needless to say, I'm bummed about not being able to make it out to Stumpy Creek this weekend (i've been reading things like this to scare myself from running sick). Anyway, I have another sprint next weekend, then the following weekend is the 24 Hours of Booty in Charlotte. Then my favorite triathlon of all time the week after that (Lake Logan!) Hopefully i can recover this coming week and have a good showing starting on July 23rd. Here's to hoping.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Triathlon Season in Full Swing

Hey!

Here we are smack in the middle of triathlon season! About 4 down 7 or so to go. To sum up the year so far, I guess I would say that I am not exactly killing it.

The White Lake Half was a disappointment because they canceled the swim (just like the Halfmax in October). And like the halfmax, i went too hard on the bike and cramped on the run. Ugh. Next I did a couple of sprints and an international. I felt good on the runs but slow in the water and not much better on the bike.

I decided last week to work on water/bike speed. I increased my effort level on the bike and started doing intervals in the water (100 yard repeats with 1 minute rest). I've already started to see some benefit there. But I need to go much further with this if I'm going to meet my goal.

I've got a bit of a lull until the beginning of July where things crank back up. Added a bike race on July 4th to work on speed over longer distances. This should also help me with the booty a couple weeks later.

But it is all about getting faster and killing it for the Outer Banks half in September and the National Championships in October. This is probably my last chance to make the U.S. team. Missing the team by 4 spots last year motivated me for this year. I hope to at least be satisfied with my effort at the end of the season.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Time to Tri

Athlinks eliminated their blogging features and so I have moved on to blogger (which is probably for the best and will likely lead to me blogging more (though this is more of a running diary than blog).

Have had a very busy year so far. Ran the Mississippi Blues marathon back in January and PR'd! 3:06 is the new standard. So when I went over to Arkansas to run the Little Rock marathon, I had high expectations. I ended up running a 3:12 which I was disappointed with. I think I started triathlon training too early because my legs were never right the whole race. I did get 47 out of about 1800 people though. It certainly wasn't an easy course.

Anyway, I have set myself up for a VERY busy triathlon season: 9 races including 3 halves culminating in the National Championships in October. My goal between now and then is clear. Get better at biking and swimming and make the U.S. team. If I don't do it this year, I will be aged up into the HIGHLY competitive 35-40 age group (so this may be my last chance to make the team for a decade!)

This was a plaque on a monument to Harriet Tubman in Little Rock. I (perhaps inappropriately) like the message in the context of running.