Sunday, April 30, 2006

Training Log Entry #40: Ouch

I've officially transitioned into triathlon training, and while today's workout was not a brick, I did a double session: 10.8 mile run followed by a 30 mile bike later in the day. I wanted to run first because I wanted the legs to be fresh. This was the quality workout of the day. Too often I think triathlete's either forget about the run completely (there are so many cool toys for your bike) or just do a bike/run brick. Well here's a lesson for you: To run faster you have to run faster. Thanks Yogi! Seriously though, if you are always running with tired legs, you are running a higher risk of injury (I know this for a fact), and you can't go fast enough to get faster. The second workout of a double session or a brick, in my opinion, is ALWAYS a quantity workout, not a quality workout. Face it, the brick isn't about getting better as you get tired. It's about getting less bad. Everyone slows down as the race progresses. If you slow less, you're doing well.

So back to the workouts. The total time out was just shy of 3 hours. Doing the math, it is my longest training day of the year. It was also windy as hell, which made my lack of leg power on the bike almost laughable. My power is WAAAYYY low, but my fitness is really good. Despite struggling mightily in the wind, my heart rate didn't really accelerate a bunch. I'm hopeful that the strength will come around quickly. If so my next race, a 1/2 Iron the first weekend in June, should be pretty good. Right now I'm a little spent.

The numbers:

10.8 miles run

Terrain: Asphalt

YTD Mileage: 351.17
MTG (Miles to Goal): 848.83
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.78

YTD Mileage: 77
# of Rides: 3
M/RD: 25.67

Friday, April 28, 2006

The "Brick"

I spent a little time doing some research so I could produce a better answer for Lord Chubalot than, "A brick is a bike ride followed immediately by a run." Frankly he's a reasonably intelligent person, so I think he probably had figured that part out already. Thus I set about looking for the real "why". Why the name brick? Frankly I don't think many if any triathletes know beyond the assumed "because it's the building block of a race." Please, there's got to be more to it than that.

And then I remembered my philosophy (Lord Chubalot, who was once referred to as the "preppy philosopher" is getting excited now!). Didn't someone really old and famous talk about the brick? Hmmm, Kant? Nietzsche? No much, much older. How about Aristotle? Bingo! The brick is important in Aristotle's explanation of form and matter. What makes a brick? It's form. How does this apply to a workout? A brick is defined by it's form: In this case, one discipline followed immediately by another.

It does not matter if it is a swim followed by a run, or a swim followed by a bike, or a bike followed by a run. The particulars are largely irrelevant. It's form is a brick and the swim, bike or run are the matter. Put a couple brick's together and they create a new form: the Triathlon.

Training Log Entry #39

6.5 on the East Bay Bike path. 3 x 1/2 mile intervals. Felt good, not great. The air's pretty dry today and that seems to throw me off a little. Fairly uneventful. My overall "health" is good as are my energy levels.

I also managed to squeeze in 17 miles on the bike this past Wednesday.

The numbers:

6.5 miles run

Terrain: Asphalt

YTD Mileage: 340.37
MTG (Miles to Goal): 859.63
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.73

YTD Mileage: 47
# of Rides: 2
M/RD: 23.5

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Training Log Entry #38

First "normal" lunchtime run since Boston. No speedwork on tap for a while, as I'm still working through the residual fatigue. It's kind of nice going out and running steady paces for a change. Today was a 6.5 miler. The one "training element" was a set of 3 hill repeats, running backwards. It's a killer workout for your quads. I've got some catch-up to do with regards to my cycling, and building quad power is a big part of that.

The numbers:

6.5 miles run

Terrain: Asphalt

YTD Mileage: 333.87
MTG (Miles to Goal): 866.13
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.79

YTD Mileage: 30
M/RD: 30

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Training Log Entry #37

Actually it was predominantly a bike ride with a short run after. This is known in triathlon training as a "brick" workout. I'm going to try and keep my bike mileage logged as well. The workout was with my new triathlon team, the Providence Triathlon Team. I left FastSplits, not because I didn't think I was fast enough (FastSplits is an "elite" team...podium finishes in your age group are expected), but rather because it was the first viable team I've found in Rhode Island. It's small and the members are very enthusiastic, and they won't require me to race anywhere I don't want to race (that was a condition of FastSplits). We road 30 miles and then ran for 2.5 miles. Just a short brick because it was the first of the year and the goal was just to remind the body what "running off the bike" felt like. It went well though I got a sore left hip (abductor) because it was my first ride. First triathlon is June 4. I've opted to just train through May for the first time ever. Boston showed me that I'm an experienced enough athlete to no longer need "tune-up" races to get ready for big events.

The numbers:

2.5 miles run
30 miles bike

Terrain: Asphalt

YTD Mileage: 327.37
MTG (Miles to Goal): 872.63
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.84

YTD Mileage: 30
M/RD: 30

Monday, April 17, 2006

Training Log Entry #36: The Race

Okay, I've already written a lot on the significance of the race. It was a very good day. It was also very fulfilling because I 1) thought I could do it, 2) honestly tried to do it, and 3) did it.

One piece I did not discuss was the part my sweat rate and hydration testing, documented in the various long runs, played. Rather than blindly taking a cup every station, which would have been every mile, I calculated how much I needed per hour and then paid attention to approximately how much Gatorade was in each cup handed to me. Some would have about 3 or 4 ounces while others had 6 or more ounces in them. By tracking the total I drank and subtracting that from what my training told me I needed per hour, I was able to skip a total of 6 or 7 stations during the race, at a time savings of 10 seconds or so per station (not to mention the energy saved by avoiding excessive slowing, accelerating, and "jockeying" for position).

Anyway, here are the numbers:

26.2 intense miles

Terrain: Asphalt/Concrete/Train Tracks/drunks...

YTD Mileage: 324.87
MTG (Miles to Goal): 875.13
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 9.02

The longer something eludes you, the more important it becomes.

I ran my first marathon in 1995. It was the Pittsburgh Marathon. I had been sick and more importantly was naive about the rigors of the race. I had a rowers arrogance that I was above mortal men and could overcome, by force of will, any obstacle. I figured I could easily run under 3:00 hours, so that was my goal. While in retrospect it really was a decent first effort, ~3:15, I was humbled by the damage done to my body. I was unable to walk properly for nearly a week.

Since that time (and before today) I've run the Cape Cod Marathon 3 times, the Boston Marathon 4 times, Pittsburgh again in 2000, and two Ironman Marathon runs. Up until 2000, the goal was the same; break 3:00 hours. Each time the results were less than encouraging. Sure I got faster, but always my body was wrecked, and always I came up short. The closest I came to the goal, my white whale, was a 3:04:03 run in Boston in 1998. In 1999 I failed to requalify for Boston, and in 2000 I hit rock bottom (in my marathon career) by dropping out of the Pittsburgh Marathon. It was to be the last time I dropped out of anything. I took some time off from competition in general after that race. I had been fit for Pittsburgh, but I ran stupidly. I just didn't understand the marathon. I was starting to feel that despite the "dream goal" engraved on my ID tag attached to my watch, 3:00 hours may never happen. I was aging and I yet I wasn't getting any smarter.

Then a chain of events began. In 2003 I completed my first Ironman, and in doing so forced myself to reevaluate the concept of what is physically possible and what is not. Then in 2004 I became a Dad. Three weeks after returning home from Russia I ran the Cape Cod Marathon. The time was decent, a 3:08.42. It requalified me for Boston, for the first time since 1999. Even more amazing, however, was HOW I ran it. Steady even pacing, no tension, and an equally fast second 1/2. All other attempts invariably had a fade of 7 minutes on the second 1/2 of the course. Not this time. This was different. I was different.

I posted a 3:09 and change at Boston last year. It wasn't a big focus for me at the time. I was still uncertain about how many more marathons I'd run, because I was pretty sure I couldn't get the time I really wanted anyway. Last summer I completed my second Ironman and had a faster Ironman marathon (3:50) than the previous attempt, but it was well short of my goal, a 3:30 Ironman run. I figured I needed that to qualify for Hawaii. That did it for me. It convinced me I needed to refind my roots; to learn to run again.

Following Ironman I went on a quest to do just that. There were two key principles: I adopted a new more efficient running stride, and I commited myself to LOVING the long run. The first run out, the 2005 Cape Cod Marathon, was a successful 3:06:01. It showed me I still could challenge the old me. At 39, I wasn't all the way over the hill. And yet, 3:06 is still a long way from 3:00.

If you've followed my training log up to now, you'll know that I was setting a goal of a 3:05 with a dream goal of a new PR, maybe even a 3:02? Perhaps I'm just more mature. Perhaps I'm just lucky. Perhaps I am pretty good. Most likely some part of each is true. Today was perfect. What wind there was, was a crosswind (and not too strong). It was overcast for much of the day, with temperatures in the 50s. My revamped training program had left me feeling the best I've ever felt standing on the starting line of a marathon. It dawned on me that this was a day made for something special, and that thought scared me. By definition breaking through a barrier requires doing something you've never done before, and I wasn't sure I was up to it. And yet, with the voice of the British guy on the bus still ringing in my head, "I had to give myself a chance." Everyone talks about having to run the first 1/2 of Boston slowly so you have something for the hills. But the rub is, if you run too slowly, you put yourself so far out of it that you still can't run a fast time. Today I ran scared. I knew that I was on pace to set my best first 1/2 in Boston by a couple of minutes. The question was, what would the second 1/2, the hills and the cruel run-in to Boston yield? Quite honestly I was expecting to hit the wall at anytime. I didn't feel I even had a PR sewn up until mile 20. The official clock read 2:17ish. This meant a 42 minute final 10K would bring me in under 3:00! It was far from a lock as I had Heart Break Hill left to climb, and then the brutal run back down into Boston (and I'm only a 39 minute 10K runner on my best days). Sure it's largely downhill, but your legs just can't take the impact anymore by this point making it hard to run fast. But I had given myself a chance.

The Marathon is a 20 mile run, with a 10K race at the end. I cruised the first mile of the final 10K, but upon seeing mile 21, I resolved to go for it. This would hurt. I was again scared by the impending pain. It didn't matter. I no longer cared about finishing. I no longer cared about my PR. I wanted 3:00 hours, and because I didn't know my offset at the start, it had to be 3:00 hours on the official clock. I need to see a 2 at the beginning of my time as I hit the finish line.

I didn't think I'd make it. I thought I'd be damn close, and I'd tie up in the last mile or so. I mean, starting a surge from 5 miles out was insane. But call me crazy, as those mile markers kept coming past me, I kept pushing. The turn onto Hereford street was intense. The final turn to the finish on Boyleston was off the charts. I was praying. I was aching. I was trying not to run into people as I sprinted for all I was worth the final 2/10ths of a mile. I couldn't focus on the clock until ~50m to go. When I saw it, it read 2:59:30. I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT!!! I hit the mat and almost immediately started sobbing. I did last.

I'm 40 years old, and I've finally completed a quest begun at age 29. In many ways it was as satisfying as my first Ironman, and in some ways more so. Ironman I finished on my first try. This one always escaped my grasp, and given the need for speed and not just endurance, time seemed to be less on my side. As I sit here typing the virtual novel (and contemplating editing it for readability), I again feel changed. A life goal has been acheived. If I never run another marathon, I'd still be content.

(PS: I'm pretty sure I'll run another one. ;-)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Training Log Entry #35:Tomorrow's the day...

I'll admit it. I'm nervous. I'm not scared of the distance. I'm feeling the pressure of expectations; my own expectations. It's the reality that physically I'm primed to run my best marathon ever. I feel great. It's the realization that the weather gods appear to be cooperating as well. Forecast for lower to mid-50s. That's prime temperature for speed. The wind will be brisk, but from the north which means a cross wind. It's the reality that despite all that, the effort required for a PR will hurt. Cyclist Greg LeMond said, "It never feels better, you just get faster." That's the truth. Except for those truly rare and magical days, it's usually work, whether you're moving quickly or slowly. As a rowing coach I had a saying that I used with my crews, "Winning hurts as much as losing, only it feels better." Impatience will be my enemy tomorrow. I need to stick to a nice conservative program until I hit the double-digit miles and then I can adjust. If I'm moving with relative ease by the time I hit Wellesley College, it'll be time to set some goals. From there it's a matter of moving smoothly to mile 15, where you cross rte. 128 and start the Newton Hills (yes I consider the 128 bridge the first hill). If the motor is still running as I crest Heart Break around mile 21, it'll be time to put the hammer down. The next 5 miles could be a study in agony, but I pledge to give it all that's left. Tomorrow night I'll post the results. If you wish to follow on-line, I'm bib 3445. Use the athlete tracker (posted tomorrow) on the marathon website ( ) .

The numbers:

3 nervous miles

Terrain: Asphalt/Concrete

YTD Mileage: 298.67
MTG (Miles to Goal): 901.33
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.53

Friday, April 14, 2006

Training Log Entry #34: Pre-race

4.5 really easy miles today. Some hills but nothing hard. Ran tempo for the last mile. I'm trying a different prep the week before the race this year. It's always been workout until Weds., take the next few days off, and then jog to the beach and back (2 1/2 - 3 miles) the day before. I've frequently felt "flat", however, so this time I decided to flip it around. After my last long run I took the next 3 days off completely. On day 4 I went for a swim, 1500m (500m were kick). Day 5 is today, the light run (and I did feel flat today). Tomorrow will be off as I drive up to Boston to register. Sunday will be the beach jog, and Monday is race day. I feel pretty good now. I think this could work. I'll know Monday!

The numbers:

4.5 miles

Terrain: Asphalt/Concrete

YTD Mileage: 295.67
MTG (Miles to Goal): 904.33
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.7

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The CBS Evening News...

with Bob Schieffer.

Does anyone else see a parallel to the current Pope?

Maybe the title should be:
"The CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer, because we don't have anyone else right now and he's old enough we think he'll die soon."

Sort of like buying your kids goldfish as pets.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Training Log Entry #33

Well it was a lot colder and windier than I thought it would be. Nonetheless it was a good run. No real pressure with Boston only 8 days away, but I wanted to go long just to find the "rhythm". I stopped twice to "answer the call", and walked a little at one point to stretch out a tight hammie. No sense getting hurt at this point. Even with those breaks I covered the 18 miler in 2:09 (I was probably pacing for 2:03-2:04). I also kicked in the finish. It was the strongest I've been at the end of a run this year, and that includes my breakthrough 20 miler. Things look good for Boston, I just need to catch up on my sleep and I'll be good to go. Of course you know this means the weather gods are going to throw in some nasty surprise again. Last year it was a freak 80 degree day. This year I'm expecting cold and rainy. Only two more runs and maybe one or two swims before the big day.

Oh, yes, and I gave my new shoes their maiden voyage today. They'll be good to go by the 17th as well.

I've also picked some new/additional goals for the rest of the year, but I'll place those in a separate post.

The numbers:

18 miles

Terrain: Asphalt/Concrete

YTD Mileage: 291.17
MTG (Miles to Goal): 908.83
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.82

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Training Log Entry #32

I need some sleep. Ever since we changed the clocks, Alexandra has been inconsistent in her wake up time, resulting in Daddy getting inconsistent sleep. That combined with work and the approach of the Boston Marathon, and I'm feeling really tired. Today I ran the 6.5 on the Bike Path and my legs felt great, but it was still an effort because of the general fatigue. I did throw in a one mile interval just to get the proper tempo going in the run. I'm not running again until Sunday, and I haven't decided what that one will be. It will be long and steady, not too easy but definitely not hard, but I'm not sure how far I'll go.

The numbers:

6.5 miles

Terrain: Asphalt/Concrete

YTD Mileage: 273.17
MTG (Miles to Goal): 926.83
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.54

Monday, April 03, 2006

Training Log Entry #31

Steady 6 miles at lunch on the East Bay Bike Path with a couple of fast 1/2 miles. The legs still felt a little "thick", but otherwise not too bad. Ankle is coming around nicely. The tendonitis seems to have cleared up. Less than 2 weeks to go.

The numbers:

6 miles

Terrain: Asphalt/Concrete

YTD Mileage: 266.67
MTG (Miles to Goal): 933.33
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.60

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Breaking Training Log Entry #1

Of course I knew something was up, but I didn't know the details. Our lives are so regimented these days, that any distruption to the schedule requires some explanation. That said, it was one of the best evenings I've had in a long time. Good friends, and a designated driver!

Last night was the official celebration of my 40th birthday. Leanna, the master planner, had arranged for a limo for the evening which would take us up to Providence for appetizers at a nice (somewhat trendy) restaurant Big Fish and then drinks and dancing at a club/martini bar Bevo. Leanna and I also stayed the night at the Newport Hyatt on Goat Island.

This was some much appreciated and much needed Mommy and Daddy time.

The numbers:

1 Magic Hat #9
1 Chocolate Martini
1.5 Glasses Pinot Grigio
1 Pineapple Mojito
1 Double-D Martini

1 Nasty Hangover! What a night...

Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart... Posted by Picasa

Balloons!!! Posted by Picasa

Blu-u-u-u-u-u-e-b-b-b-berries!!! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Training Log Entry #30

11 miles around the pond and beaches. No watch. No pressure. Just an easy run. I clearly went hard last weekend during the 20 miler because my legs were still a little tired. I think this makes for my highest mileage week this year, and frankly at ~ 37 miles, it wasn't that high. This approach, however, is working for me so I'm sticking with it.

The other notable item from today is that my scale (post-run) tipped below 160 lbs. This is BY FAR my lowest weight in years. I typically go into Boston at 165 - 168. I am healthy and still recovering (though a little more slowly) from workouts, so the weight is not yet a concern. Performances don't seem to be suffering. However, I don't want to go any lower so it's time to keep a closer eye on this.

The numbers:

11 miles

Terrain: Asphalt/Concrete

YTD Mileage: 260.67
MTG (Miles to Goal): 939.33
M/R (Miles per run avg.): 8.69