Friday, May 28, 2010

I searched

But I couldn't find another local marathon to run this weekend. So looks like after my nice long swim tomorrow morning (last one this week!), I will be trudging trough somewhere close to 26mi for right close to 3hrs.

Post run there is some BBQ fun to be had. One good thing about a long swim/run day is that it actually leaves some free time. Sadly the same can't be said for my Sunday when I will be revisiting my "Tour de Santa Monica Mountains", probably solo, definitely long, definitely lots of climbing and definitely hard on some beat up legs. Thank goodness Monday is a rest day.


Monday, May 17, 2010

SOLO Weekend

Before Wildflower Coach sent me an e-mail saying something along the lines of "enjoy the taper and recovery before we start winding it up for Placid." This week marked the first week of "Ironman" training after a couple months of gearing everything towards the half distance. So this weekend was my first BIG weekend in a long time. Due to work, travel, illness and lameness, it also marked what was to be my first truly SOLO training weekend in a long time. A long run, long swim & long ride all looked like they were going to be done with only my thoughts for company.

Fortunately however, this was not the case. I was talking with a training partner of mine Bill, who was pacing a friend in the Palos Verdes Marathon on Saturday. I grew up in PV and my uncle, who also goes by the moniker Bill, was an avid runner. In fact I think his marathon count lies at 50. The PV marathon is the 2nd longest running marathon in the country. Only Boston has been around longer. My Uncle Bill has run PV like 20 times and as a kid, I was present for many of those. The course has changed a bit over the years, but its still the PV Marathon and this year marked the 44th running (pardon the pun). So, given the 3hr run I had on tap, and my family history with this race my query to Coach received an affirmative with strict directions to abide by the pacing rules. I agreed. So on Friday, I entered my first PV Marathon to be run the next morning, and workout 1, was now going to be done with mucho company and aid stations. I was even going to get a shirt for it. Much better than the solo effort I had envisioned.

PV is not flat. In fact, around here, its known as "the Hill". For that reason, the slower times that come therewith, and the lack of prize money, it is a small race. They don't even do chip timing. But it is AWESOME. So Saturday morning I toed the pleasantly uncrowded start line for a 26.2mi training run. I reminisced before the race how a couple years back I would have NEVER EVER thought of running a marathon, let alone doing it spur of the moment after a week of hard training.

The "race" was great, I had some good company for the first half or so, then Bill (friend not Uncle) joined me for the second half. We even had a cyclist pacer in the form of another friend and Club Ed runner Debbie join us for a good stretch. I took it easy for about the first 17mi, then about mile 20 kicked it up a notch for the "tempo" effort that was included in the plan. In the end I ran 2:52 and had a great time. Running in a local race with no "race" pressure makes it feel so much different. Good times.

That afternoon I headed to the pool for my long swim. Again, in my head this was going to be me and my thoughts for 2hrs. However, in another dose of good fortune, about 40mins in, a masters workout I was unaware of, came on. So I jumped in that workout which helped speed the time. Solo workout #2 successfully avoided.

Sunday was a long ride. Again, solo. I had some company for part of the first climb but he fell off and I started getting cold while waiting at the top. Knowing I was only going to get colder on the descent I started downward hoping he would catch me. Sorry Stan. He didn't and the next 4.5hrs were spent alone. 2 outta 3 aint bad. After nearly 7hrs, 115mi and 8,500ft of climbing, I was hungry and tired but stoked to have gotten in a solid weekend of training and for the most part, avoided the lonesomeness I thought I would encounter. Next weekend will most certainly not be lonesome as I will be SD bound to revisit some old routes with good friends.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting TRXed

I am sure by now all of us have seen and heard adds on TV, billboards, radio, etc... and seen vendors at race expos and other fitness related venues hawking the "latest and greatest" in fitness products. Many of these products come with the promise of 6 pack abs from a variety of activities ranging from full scale, full body, high intensity workouts, all the way to sitting on the couch eating potato chips while an electronic gizmo electrocutes your abs into buffness. For the most part, in my humble opinion, the majority of these products would in fact yield some result in that they are aimed at taking a relatively inactive, out of shape person (see: Betty the bon-bon eating housewife), and getting them performing some type of physical activity for at least some portion of their day. Be it 30, 15, 9, 7, or 6 minutes, they are getting them moving. It was something. Few of these products however, targeted an audience of people who were already, for the most part, active, fit and athletic. Even fewer targeted those same types of people with the intent to improve their performance in their chosen sport. This is where TRX differs from the vast majority of the other fitness products out there.

Like any other competitive triathlete who maintains a "day job" my "free time" is pretty scarce. Between the 3 disciplines, work, eating, sleeping and life in general, my ability to get to the gym without sacrificing one of the foregoing was, to be generous, pretty limited. Then I came across the TRX suspension training system.
TRX Professional
As triathletes, even given the "cross-training" nature of our sport, we tend to be a rather limited lot. That is, we spend so much time operating in a singular plane, going forward while swimming, riding and running, that the muscles required to change planes, get ignored, diminish and atrophy. Hence the 10hr Ironman who finds himself laid up and sore for 2 days after spending 30mins playing soccer with his nephews at a family BBQ.

The reality is, that the benefits we triathletes can realize from building a strong foundation of core and stabilizer muscles are numerous. A powerful swim stroke uses a whole chain of muscles literally from head to toe. Power generation on the bike starts from and is enhanced greatly by having a strong core. A strong back will allow you to stay in an aero position longer and more comfortably. And that same strong core and back combined with a strong system of stabilizer muscles will help you develop power and keep your running form in check deeper into the run leg. Maybe the most important benefit however, is that a strong body is one that is more resistant to injury. For all these reasons, the list of triathletes who use the system is long: Chris Lieto, Tyler Stewart, James Cotter, etc... are among other athletes like Drew Brees who all claim to have had their "game lifted" by the TRX system.

I wasn't blessed with too many great "triathlete" attributes when I came into this sport, but my history of lifting weights had given me a strong platform to build off. After the last couple years focusing on swim/bike/run, my strength began to decline. With less and less time in the gym, I began to lose that foundation. Enter TRX. I got the system a couple weeks ago and have been very impressed.

First off, for once the name of a company bears truth. "Fitness Anywhere" makes the TRX system and it is truly capable of just that. You can use this thing anywhere. On a door, a tree, a rafter, a pull-up bar, etc... It also comes in a handy little carrying case that is no bigger than your average shaving/makeup bag making travel easy.

Secondly, IT WORKS! Using body weight not only adds to the convenience and ease, but it also allows anyone to easily control the loads. The suspension training aspect puts your body in a bit of a foreign environment, forcing you to use all those little and often neglected muscles to stabilize yourself while performing the exercises on the major muscle groups. You feel it IMMEDIATELY. In fact I felt like a little bit of a wuss as I was only able to go about 20mins in my first couple workouts. Even with those limited durations, I was FEELING it the next day when swimming and riding. After seeing those effects, I have promised myself that I will keep using the system at least 2x/week leading up to and through Boise 70.3, Buffalo Springs and onto Ironman Lake Placid. I am confident I will realize some real benefits from it.

So word to the wise: Get yourself one! But take it easy in your first couple workouts or you'll pay big the next day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fast Shoes and Great Bag

2 of my incredible sponsors, Zoot and, have teamed up and put together this awesome offer.

While supplies last, buy these shoes (mens or womens)

Zoot Men's Ultra Race 2.0 Running Shoes

And you get this backpack/transition bag FREE!!!
Quite the snag. Get on it & use coupon code IMIKE-S to save 10%

Monday, May 3, 2010


Swim: An eek under 26.
I felt pretty good on the swim and was on feet of what I think was the first chase pack until the turn. I lost the feet, swam some Zs and found myself alone for the haul back. I need to work on my drafting skills. I was happy with the first half of the swim. In the end it was ~1.5min faster than last year.

Bike: 2:30
My plan was to really push the bike. I seem to have somewhat of an internal, subconscious governor that has always prevented me from going "too hard" on the bike. Some might think this is a good thing, and maybe it is. It has served me well in the past. But racing in the pro ranks means I need to be able to push the limits. To race a half ironman like I would an olympic distance. In order to push the limits, I have to know what they are.

Long story short, in the swim my right quad started acting up, and began to give me pause for my plan for the bike. Onto the bike and I made 2 rookie errors. 1st, I forgot to unstrap my shoes after clipping them into the pedals. So I come out of T1 look down and realize my shoes are closed up tight. My friend Mac was kind enough to tell me my place and time down on the lead (2:50ish) and then witnessed me come to a complete stop to unstrap my shoes before mounting. 2nd, I used a new gel flask mounting system without ever testing it. About 2mi into the bumpy roads I lost my gel flask with all my gels for the ride. I had to stop, turn around and go get it and then start back up. I must have looked like an idiot (I am).

For the first 15mi of the bike I was NOT feeling it. My heart rate was up, but my power was down. Finally, after the turn things kinda fell into place and I was able to bring the power up. Not the ride I wanted at all, but it was ~6.5mins faster than last year.

Run: 1:26
I ran the first 3mi of the run on Nick Thompson's heels. When we hit the hills, he was gone. I didn't feel drained or dead, but just never really got into a rhythm and my quad really began to voice its discontent as the miles (slowly) ticked by. About 2.5mins faster than last year.

Overall I am pretty happy with a 10+ minute improvement over last year. But I am frustrated that my body didn't fully cooperate and I wasn't able to dig as deep as I wanted. I was looking to totally bury myself, and didn't quite get there. No excuses though. I just need to figure it out and learn that I have to be able to suffer right from the gun to try and hang with these guys. A little tweak to the training in this coming block and I am hoping for a better outing come Boise.

Big thanks to ZOOT as the TTs felt great all run long, not a misstep and didn't feel one rock. My BLUE Triad rode great once my legs came around. Every race I am only more impressed with that bike. And to, some awesome cheering and great support getting me to and through the race. POWERBAR is the best nutrition company there is... HANDS DOWN. Having them sponsor races is awesome as I know what I need is on hand. Cheers to you all for making it possible.