Monday, September 27, 2010

Summer arrived

Apparently last weekend was the first "official" day of fall, but judging by the weather, it was the start of summer.   In typical Southern CA fashion the news stations went to Defcon 4 and gave round the clock coverage to "Heat Wave 2010." Sadly I am not joking.

Anyway, I was happy to have it on this weekend as coach changed things up a bit for Saturday and after a morning masters session and a quick run with a bit of faster stuff I was done for the day.

I am not really a fan of Venice Beach.  OK, to be honest, I pretty much hate it.  I am sorry, I just have zero tolerance for the drugged out, hippie/drifter element of society.  However, as I swim up in Santa Monica, sometimes I find myself running in that area.  It sucks.  A brief review of my run at 9am: 1) guy being arrested with medicine bottles full of tiny little baggies of a rock like substance, 2) Bum romance on the rocks = drugged out couple in the midst of a fist fight, 3) Dude either high as a kite and/or CRAZY screaming at the top of his lungs at a cinder block wall, 4) 20 something girl passed out face down in the middle of the bike path with paramedics and lifeguards attending to her.  All this at 9am before the day even got rolling!  Its really too bad as the area is literally overrun with that element.  There was to be a huge concert/art/rave festival in Santa Monica on Saturday so we got out of town and spent the rest of the day lounging poolside in Manhattan Beach with my old roommate and his wife-to-be in 2 weeks time.

Sunday was back to the longer stuff.  Fortunately, a good friend, who I have been coaching in his run up to his first Ironman in AZ, had a very similar ride to mine so I had company.  The same weekend as Wisconsin, at Nautica Malibu triathlon, Bill put some of his training to the test, won the 50-54 age group and took 2nd overall.  First place was some little known guy named Chris Lieto.

It was quite refreshing to spend a day on a bike with a good friend taking in some new routes and great views.

Along with the heat came, for you non So-Cal peeps, what we call the "Santa Anna Winds" which basically just means the prevailing winds come from the east blowing out to sea instead of the regular on-shore winds. This tends to blow a bunch of smog out to the coast from the inland areas which  was the only bummer of the weekend.

I had a good 1hr run off the bike, in the middle of the day, when the sun was burning its hottest.  The beaches were packed and running on the coast was fun.  I can't say enough about the new Zoot Alli'i.  A great shoe indeed. An hour run with plenty of sweat and no socks and my feet never felt better.  

(Edit per E.Rich Comment:)
 And to keep these sweet kicks from smelling up the joint:
Stuffitts Shoe Savers.  My Alli'i were dry and smelling like a forest by the time i finished lunch!

I have decided to jump into another race this weekend to get another hard effort in before Austin and IM AZ.  I will be racing up in San Luis Obispo at Scot Tinley's long course triathlon put on by the awesome folks at TriCalifornia (same peeps as the one and only Wildflower).  Hopefully things will go a bit better than Wisconsin and I can put a race together.

Monday, September 20, 2010

On my own

This last week was a recover, reset, refresh week and weekend.  By now, coach trusts me enough to know what that means.  So I was "on my own" this week.  Do what I want.  In the days after an Ironman, usually that means "not much."  However, given the way Wisconsin went, especially on the run, I felt pretty good, and like I didn't really get to "use up" my legs on the bike and run.

Normally I take about 6-7 days before I run again after an IM.  This week I ran on Wednesday and it felt OK. After however, I had some very strange feelings going on.  Like a full body growing pain. Maybe I am getting TALLER!!??  Sadly I am 90% sure it was just some residual lactic acid/bacteria/"junk" that the run flushed out.  Thursday and Friday I felt really good and started picking up the tempo in some sessions.  The only problem I was having was waking up early again. Apparently I got too used to sleeping in & Madison time in the comfort of my homestay's awesome house.  So I missed masters everyday last week.

Saturday, this was not going to happen.  I made it to masters, got in a nice good ride with my friend Danny who was in his last big weekend for Kona, and had my first "real" run.  All of it felt good. Top o the day, was the patriotic/somber/emotional moment we had when we stopped for a minute to take in this:
 Pepperdine University put up a flag from the country of each victim killed on 9/11/01.  A beautiful tribute.

Sunday, I had the pleasure of riding with T3's youngest member, Duncan. He is fresh off winning the the 11-12yr old USAT National Championships!  He raced a cross race that morning so I met him there to do some riding after.  My first glimpse at a live cross race.  It actually looked really fun.  Maybe something to try one day.  It was good fun riding with Duncan and hearing about his racing exploits. Kid has a BRIGHT future!

After a good but short ride with Duncan, I called it a day as far as training went, and treated myself to a "normal" Sunday, with lunch out, a movie, a gelato, and an afternoon of lounging.  A good weekend.

Back at it this week.  There is racing to be done, improvements to be made and REDEMPTION to be had!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ironman Wisconsin Race Report

It has taken me a little while to get around to writing this.  The truth is I have been avoiding it. Consciously and unconsciously, every time I have thought about writing it I have "found" something else to do, or some reason not to.  Plain and simple I had much bigger goals for Wisconsin than 9:10 and 11th place.  But here goes: 

I arrived in Madison on Wednesday afternoon & was met by my awesome homestay and given the keys to their minivan.  I got in a quick swim with Hilary and hit a local restaurant with my homestays.  Thursday I decided to ride the loop portion of the course and see what I was in for.  Thursday night our homestays threw an awesome Rosh Hashana party. 

Friday morning I woke up feeling rather full from the night before.  Charisa, Steven and I met up with Kathy and her husband Kerry for a swim and breakfast.  Unfortunately, my morning feeling was a sign of the day.  Without going into too much detail, I felt "full" the entire day, through the swim, pro meeting, massage, etc... and nothing was happening to relieve that feeling.  I wasn't able to eat until about 3 and then just a few bites.  Saturday, things weren't much better, but I was able to get in a good dinner at our homestay's house and they were kind enough to let us invite about 20ppl for dinner. 

Brothers Pearson (Chris & Ryan the latter raced), Brynn, me, Catherine, Hillary, Maiki, Charisa & Steven

Race day came and I was willing myself to feel good.  I set up my bags and bike, got suited up in my new Zoot Prophet wetsuit and found myself in the lineup. 

The swim was the highlight of my race.  I stuck with the front pack for about 500m until I swam off course and lost the draft.  Hillary, or who I thought was Hillary, caught me about halfway home on the back stretch and I happily assumed a position right behind her.  A few times I tried to swim ahead but once out of her draft I knew I was swimming too hard for too little benefit.  I actually felt pretty crappy during the swim.  I didn't feel tired or weak, but I just felt slow.  Anyway, I decided to stay behind who I thought was Hillary and hope I was right, knowing she would swim well.  I did that right up until the last turn buoy when we hit an absolute floating roadblock that was the middle of the age group swim.  I seriously have to give credit to those who swim in the 1:15-1:30 range.  It is absolutely NUTS in there and I could not handle 2.4mi of that.  After working my way through the pack I hit the chute and looked at my watch to see zeros, never started. But I spotted the clock to my left and saw 53:2X and was thrilled.  Indeed it was Hillary, indeed she was true to form the 1st female out of the water, and indeed I did benefit from that.  Also a testament to Zoot's awesome new wetsuit

My goal was to bike under 5hrs.  I knew this course was a bit slower than Placid so I knew I had my work cut out for me.  I hit the course hoping the pleasant surprises would continue to come.  The old saying "You don't have to feel good to race good" was running through my head.  This was my first race on my new Blue Triad SL and my new Reynolds wheels.  I knew it was set up to go fast if the engine was willing.  Unfortunately, about 10mins into the race it was becoming clear the engine wasn't really up to the task.  I was passed early as my legs felt like concrete and my heart rate and power were stuck well below race pace.  My stomach problems from before the race were making it known that they weren't finished with me.  I struggled through the rest of the ride and except for a span from about mile 30 through 60, I felt pretty poor.  I am ashamed to admit it, but it is the first time in my triathlon career that I found myself actually wanting something to go wrong that would make it impossible for me to continue. I have always told myself that I will not DNF unless its a mechanical or a serious medical issue.  So I pushed on, told myself to suck it up and just keep pushing. Its. Supposed. To. HURT!  Needless to say I was more than a little surprised when I hit T2 and realized I had ridden 4:56.  I think this speaks volumes for the Blue Triad SL and my new Reynolds wheels

Getting off the bike, I was 99% sure I was in for some serious disappointment.  My stomach was bloated to the point of being painful and I knew my goal of a 3:00 run was about as likely as a lottery win.  I hit the run course and tried to keep the pace mellow.  About 3mi in and just out of the stadium I moved into 7th or 8th place and was hoping with all hope that I was in for another good surprise.  Again, I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say, things went South from there, and rapidly.  I saw the inside of more than a few Port'O Johns on the course and my 3hr run goal went out the door.  After my final Port'o visit I was actually able to pick up the pace and run the fastest I had run all day. 

I knew I was out of the money at that point but I decided to push as hard as I could to the finish. I knew that friends, family and training partners were watching on line, and that if nothing else I owed it to them and all who have supported and cheered me on to at least give it my all.  I was able to pick up a spot on the way back to town and unfortunately realized too late that 10th was only about 30secs up.  I saw my homestay in the chutes and went back to give them a high five as they had been such incredible hosts and people all week.  

Spotting my homestay a little late. Also a good Saturday Night Fever impression

Heading back for High Fives
Best Cheerleader
Incredible hosts and people
I am so proud and stoked for Charisa. She pulled our combined weight and took 5th!  Great friend, great training partner, great athlete, & great inspiration. 

When all was said and done, the clock read 9:10:38 and I was 11th.  Again, not what I was hoping for, but a good smashfest and training day.  I suffered and learned more about myself.  Although it wasn't what I wanted, I think it was a valuable experience that will serve me well.  Live to Fight Another Day.  I said that right after the race and I believe it.  

I want to thank all those who have offered words of encouragement, cheers, and support leading up to, during and after the race.  I appreciate it all more than you will know.  I also want to thank my sponsors who make this possible, Zoot, Blue, Reynolds,, PowerBar, and PVBC.  I can't thank you enough for your support and believing in me even when things go South.  I am more motivated than ever to redeem myself in the next go round.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

5 Star

Well if there is one thing I am apparently really good at with regard to Ironman (aside from fueling;-)) it is finding myself some incredible homestays.  Gail and Greg in Lake Placid were spectacular hosts, great people, and I am glad to now call them friends.

I arrived in Madison yesterday and for the first time in my 30yrs was actually "that guy" with his name printed on a sign in the hand of my host awaiting my arrival.  Awesome.  A quick trip from the airport and my homestay was dropping me off to pick up their minivan they are loaning me for the duration of my stay. First class?  I think YES.

I felt awfully rude just taking the car and leaving my homestay Adam with all my gear, but I knew I needed to do something to shake the travel out of my legs.  Lucky for me Hillary is racing as well so I met up with her and we shot out to the lake to test the waters.

This was my 1st swim in my new Zoot Prophet wetsuit and I must say I am STOKED on this thing.  Floatation is incredible but the flexibility is even more impressive.  I have worn a few suits in my day, this is the best yet, by a sizable margin.  If you are struggling with a stubborn suit, when this thing makes its debut, I HIGHLE recommend it.

The water was a little warm. Hillary swam in a skinsuit, and we were of mixed opinions after as to whether we will be donning the rubber on Sunday or not. After wearing my suit, I sure hope so.

After the swim it was dinner time and I had some great conversation with my homestays.  Obviously it takes a rather outgoing, generous sort to open your house to random athletes, some of whom may not even speak English, and give them run of your home for 5 days just to have them up and take off right after the race.  But so far I am 2 for 2 in getting some fantastic people who truly go above and beyond the call of duty.  Jackpot x2!  Not only have they been incredible people, but the homes... WOW!  I came home and cooked breakfast in this kitchen this morning.
Just a tad bit nicer than the Holiday Inn Express!  

Cheers from Cheesehead land. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wheels Up

I am proud to announce that I have been fortunate enough to form a relationship with Reynolds Cycling and will be racing this weekend with these under me
To say that I am stoked to be racing with the support of a company with such a solid reputation for producing top notch wheels would be a drastic understatement.  Reynolds is trusted by the likes of Team AG2R, Footon Servetto, & Fly V Australia to provide leading edge wheels for their races throughout the season.  Having now had a chance to ride these wheels for the last week, I can see why!  These things fly.

A leader in Carbon Clincher technology, Reynolds is one of the few companies to offer nearly every wheel in their line up as a tubular or carbon clincher.  I have never ridden tubulars, and frankly the cost and hassle associated with gluing, taping, applying, and removing tubulars was not something I was too eager to learn & deal with.  Thankfully, with Reynolds help, I don't have to.  Reynolds offers an incredible lineup of racing and training wheels across all varieties of bike racing (check em out here).  They also have some BIG things coming down the pipe that I will definitely share when given the green light to do so.  Heads will turn. Trust me.  

I am looking forward to my first race on top of these wheels and my first race on a true disc.  They feel extremely solid and fast, and as an added bonus, the Blue looks pretty nice all dressed up in its dancing shoes.
  I am "wheels up" tomorrow morning. Madison bound and looking to lay it down!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Charm School

Don't get me wrong, by no means am I trying to go off on my high horse here, clearly I am no model of manners or etiquette, but at least I try.

As I am sure most of you do, I spend a great deal of time in pools and riding my bike.  While much of my cycling is done indoors (I have professed my appreciation for the trainer here before), almost every time I ride outside, I ride at least a portion of the ride with others.  When it comes to swimming however, virtually EVERY swim session requires me to interact with other swimmers.  For the most part, I do this on purpose.  I swim masters because the people there push me to swim harder than I would if I was doing my own workout.  In truth I get my ass handed to me. On days I don't swim masters, I often try and swim with a couple guys at the local pool for the same reason.  If not, it is an extremely rare day that I am not sharing a lane with at least 2 or 3 others.  Whatever the case, this interaction requires a certain etiquette be followed to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and worthwhile workout and in the case of cycling, a safe one as well.

This morning's masters workout has spawned this post.  For the most part, a masters workout is pretty well defined so far as rules and etiquette goes.  You get in the lane you normally swim in, you know the swimmers around you and where you fall in the pace line.  If I swim a workout time I normally don't swim, or with a different masters squad, I try and feel it out as much as possible in the warm up and then place myself conservatively to ensure I don't slow anyone down.  Today a girl I have never seen before showed up at masters.  She took up the spot behind me.  In the warm up she hit my feet a few times.  When we were given the main set, I gave her the opportunity to go ahead of me and she didn't take it.  The set was 2(6x150) alternating each 150 faster and slower.  On the second round she hit my feet a few times on the slower intervals. At the wall I asked her if she wanted to jump ahead and she did.  This is where it got interesting.

She swam that 150, then abruptly sat out the next one.  There was no "rest" between the 150s so this created a big gap I had to try and close to get back to the feet of the guy I was originally behind.  At the wall before the next one she was hanging on the wall when I got there and it was her time to push off if she was going to jump back in.  She didn't, and was talking to another swimmer, so I went.  Out of nowhere, she pushed off swam into me and pushed her way past me when I stopped.  I was literally laughing to myself as she swam by and I treaded water in the middle of the lane.

So I figured I would start a list of things people do while swimming that are examples or poor etiquette / things that piss you off / things one should NOT do.

1.  If you are gonna pull ahead of someone in a masters workout, be able to stay ahead of them and do the WHOLE workout or at lest finish the interval.
2.  If someone swims past you, take up the spot behind them, and if at the next break you think you can go in front, ask them.
3.  When sharing a lane in a non-masters workout, swim free, back or kick. Save breast, fly, whatever you call that flopping, flailing, lookslikeyouaredrowning mess of a stroke for when you have the lane alone or with just one other.
4.  Abide by the "Fast" "Medium" "Slow" signs for each lane.  Don't go in the fast lane just because there are fewer people in it if you are not Fast.

5.  If you're gonna kick, let others go before you at each wall.
6.  Realize the obvious:
  Got a story to share or rule to add?