Friday, May 28, 2010

Right where I want to be...

I went for a training ride/test today: 36miles on my bike followed by a 3.92 mile run. The race wheels and aero helmet made an appearance as well. And there was no restrictor plate! The last few weeks, especially last weekend, have given me a pretty good idea of how hard I can stress things and still keep the wheels rolling. Long story short I put in my fastest times of the year and confirmed what I already knew to be true; my form is good. Not great. Good. Last July it was great. But you know, here's the kicker; this was the plan for this year. I want good form but with low stress, and good balance in my life. That way when it's time to get serious again I'll be mentally and physically fresh but still pretty strong. And truth be known while I might not be as fit as last year, I'm healthier. My heart rates today were about 6 bpm higher than during the same workout done last July just before Lake Placid. So I have pretty much the same speed potential it just requires a bit more effort. Clearly I'm not Ironman fit, not by a lot, but I'm only racing a 1/2 next Sunday and I think I'll be good. Not great. Good. On the old Mooseman course I'd think I'm in the 4:35-4:40 area right now. We'll see how I fare on the new course. I'm pretty relaxed so I'm 100% sure I won't choke it away, but no predictions except a solid respectable day. Here's to faking my way through the Mooseman 70.3!

Today's workout:
Ride
Run

One other note, the rest of my life is pretty much where I want it to be as well. Today is my 16th wedding anniversary, in fact we've got the video playing right now. Damn I was young and everyone was waaaay skinnier than they are now (except Leanna and Me, we're good!). I set a goal for the year of contentment. As I cut the lawn today I felt it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Friends don't let friends act like d-bags.

I'm thinking about having bumper stickers made that say that. The thought came to me as a watched a semi tailgate a car and start weaving aggressively. It was ridiculous and scary. Though I was not directly in the middle of that moment, nonetheless I backed off a 1/4 mile just in case.

Started thinking about something else. Everyone is very quick to condemn the professional athlete/celebrity who does things demonstrably wrong, e.g. Tiger Woods. "Doesn't he know he's a role model?!" Now don't get me wrong. I'm not giving him/them quarter here. (That was not good Tiger. K.I.P. dude.) My point is more "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Maybe, "Physician heal thyself." "Start with the man in the mirror." Bottom line we are all quite possibly role models whether we know it or not, or honestly deserve it.

Years after I had finished coaching rowing, and moved to Rhode Island, I took a trip with Leanna to our old stomping grounds at the Dad Vail regatta in Philly. There I ran into a number of former rowers of mine but it was one in particular, one whose name I don't even recall, who said something I have not since forgotten. He reminded me of a cold and snowy February morning. We had a land practice, a run an such. A number of the kids, this individual included, showed up hungover or maybe still drunk and some a bit stoned. I was pissed. I did not drag my ass out of bed this early to deal with you losers. I then proceeded to drive them through the hardest set of hill repeats they had ever experienced. There was puke. There was quitting. There was payback (by me). As it turns out this moment was this person's "Ah ha" moment. He actually thanked me for what I had done to them and showed them. From that time he tried to live his life in a manner more like I was espousing. As a rower above all you respect your boat mates. An individual who shows up compromised is disrespecting his boat. Hell, in many ways it is better if the whole boat shows up loaded together.

Anyway, finding out years later you had a material impact on someone’s life, an impact of which you were not aware, is powerful stuff. His comments to me were my "Ah ha" moment. While the position of coach is one which by definition positions an individual to be an example, nonetheless for some reason you think you've only impacted those who were ultimately successful under you. My realization was that my "person" impacted not just those people I focused on. It impacted even those of whom I was possibly not aware. This is heavy stuff.

Some of you may be thinking "Oh, but I'm not anybody's role model." My point is you don't know that. My point is you are probably wrong. Especially with social media ("friends", "followers") the exposure of you and your message is at a level beyond what most people can even comprehend. People read what you write. People view what you post. And yes, someone probably thinks about what you would do, or at least about what your public persona would do, before acting.

So my message is this: Carry yourself as if you are a role model, because you probably are. Don't be a d-bag driving a semi.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

3 weeks to go...but no goals

Okay, that's not entirely true. My goal for my first and next to last race of the year is to be smooth and strong, execute well, and finish fast and smiling. I'm just not sweat'n my place in the overall or age group, because frankly I'm sure there are lots of fellow competitors putting in more work than I. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an out of shape bum who's going to clog the course with my big, hairy butt on a $10K bike. No I'm the skinny guy who will beat down the poseurs but probably be bested by those who take this stuff seriously. You see this year is my "off year." I'm keeping myself good but not stressing great. I'm focusing on fit and healthy, not just fit and trying to add a little strength and speed while I'm at it. Next year when I focus on Kona qualifying again, I'll make sure to beat down all comers.

So today I rode over distance and truth be known a little hard for a 72 mile ride. However, I held my paces the whole way, though my legs did crack in the last 10 miles. My lap times were about 30-45 sec per lap slower than two weeks ago, likely a combination of some wind from a difficult direction, tired legs because of the power work I focused on this last week, and poor nutrition...hell virtually non-existent nutrition; nothing like opening the cupboard the night before a ride and finding you are flat out of drink mix. By my calculation, the loss of my legs and cramping was due to the nutrition, the slowness the wind and work. Nonetheless I sit here feeling pretty good. Legs are tired, but not so tired that I can't run tomorrow. Oh and before I forget I did lay down a 5:48 T-run first mile after I dragged my sorry butt back in from the ride, so all in all I'll take it.

Next week I'm planning on the same ride, but with a longer T-run (42 minutes) after the ride. Pacing and nutrition will be what I plan to do at Mooseman which is what I did last year. The Mooseman course is much tougher this year so we'll see how I do. I'll append my Garmin data to this post later on, though there is no heart data as the strap battery died about 20 minutes in. I sort of expected that after the last couple of rides.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Exercise judgement

Part of being a successful endurance athlete is displaying sound judgement when it comes to your racing, training, and of course family life. Today was one of those days. The designed workout was a 3hr or so ride in Connecticut hills, almost no flats just up or down, followed by a 4.5 mile T-run with the final mile hard. I was looking to recapture that feeling of draining the legs, and then really burying the finish of the run just as I like to do on race day. I rolled out at 5:45am. It was a little cool, and it was windy. However I had determined early in the week that I would ride well today, and I did not disappoint. Despite the crazy tree pollen I did the best climbing I've done in a long time. I had all the techniques going: seated, standing, mixed, high rpm, jamming on the sprinter's climbs. It's really nice doing these types of rides with my body weight down at 154.

As I hit the third from last climb of the day I checked my time. I was doing well. In fact I felt that I had earned a reward. Instead of the designed T-run, I would take advantage of my early return time and do a T-Shop instead! You see while I have gotten much better about getting the actual gifts on gift giving occasions, I still suck at remembering the other things that make the thought complete, like a card. So when I hit home I did a quick change into street clothes, grabbed the keys, and T-Shopped instead of T-Ran. In the end I felt much happier about my day (I also threw in a gift card because I felt guilty about riding at all on Mother's day!)

47 miles, a lot of vertical feet, a greeting card, and an LL Bean gift card all before 9:00am; now that's a good day!

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mommies.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Feel better

Maybe you've heard it before, but it is true you don't know how good you can feel until you feel good. Maybe that's why there are so many miserable people around. Maybe they think this is as good as it gets. If they could just try to change, change possibly including sacrifice, for just a period of time and have faith that things can be better, maybe then they can feel better. But no, so many people seem to want guarantees before they believe something, before they'll try something different; "the devil you know..." and all that. Anyone know the story of the disciple Thomas? Or maybe they've tried change and been let down. It's so hard to get let yourself believe after you've been let down, but you must!

I'm getting preachy again, yes I am. But it's because my gut feels great...really great. Now you know I've taken my diet and health seriously for a long time, but nonetheless until recently (about a month) I didn't know I could feel better still. However I made a change and wow what a difference. No rocket science here, but the change worked. I went fairly strict with the core diet (I say fairly because there still need to be some concessions when raising kids...like ice cream!). I also supplement with soluble fiber (Benefiber) and magnesium citrate, as well as a probiotic. It's like there was inflammation in my gut and it's gone away. Any time I've slipped I've started feeling like c-r-a-p again, and when I'm back on the wagon let the good times roll. My workouts, especially the runs, are more comfortable. I feel the urge to pee less (I know you really needed to know that one!). In short I feel good. Diet is just one thing but it's a big thing. And once you start feeling better physically, maybe you'll see improvement in other aspects of your life.

Change can be hard, can require sacrifice, does require rewiring your brain. But change is a necessary part of the natural order. Can you really expect to do the same thing over and over and yet get different results? Make a change. Stick with it long enough to see a difference. Keep a journal so you can prove to yourself there really is a difference. Document not just your weight and how you feel physically, but what else is going on in your life. Look for the patterns. That diet of hotdogs and chips might be doing more than making you portly. And if things don't work out? Pick yourself up, and try a different change.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Only 5 weeks until Mooseman...crap.

So I've suddenly gone from feeling good about where I stand, to concerned. Well not suddenly, April's been demanding, mostly because of the new job, so I suspected I wasn't that far ahead of things anymore. Nonetheless things are moving in the right direction, largely a product of my finally establishing something resembling a routine. Today I did exactly the same workout as last week, with the goal trying to reduce the effort a little and simultaneously minimize the loss of speed. All in all I did pretty well with that. On the ride I surrendered 51 seconds week over week (after 54 miles), but in return I got back 5 beats per minute or 780 beats of my heart (and I negative split the last lap...score!). Likewise on the run I was 13 seconds slower after 6.03 miles, but got back 6 beats per minute or an roughly an additional 250 beats. So for a cost of one minute and 4 seconds, I recovered ~1000 beats of my heart. That indicates my heart is strengthening and the stroke volume (the amount of blood moved by each beat) is increasing nicely. With only 5 weeks to go, though, we'll see how much improvement can be made.
The other key metric of mine is how rapidly my heart rate responds when exertion is removed or applied. Today it was moving nicely. I'd drive the rate up when climbing, but the moment the terrain flattened my heart rate dropped. Also this pattern was sustained for the entire ride. A very welcome sign.
There were a few mitigating factors to the drop in overall performance today, as well. I did not have any more gels packets, and instead made due with solely chews. Chews are okay, but they don't really give me the kick the way the gels do. Also the legs were tired. I ran Sachuest yesterday afternoon and they felt a little tapped. This was actually interesting (in a geeky kind of way) because the muscles that were tapped were those used to drive the bike hard on the flat roads. The second I started climbing load shifted to other muscles as well and I was very smooth. I actually did my best in the saddle climbing of the year today. I believe I have the TRX to thank for this. The ability to climb well in the saddle is a combination of strong legs and a very strong core to keep the body steady.
Next week I'm in Connecticut where I will be taking advantage of the longer hills to get some climb time in. In two weeks I will be back on the Sandy Point loop to get another assessment of my form. Until then the plan is just to train consistently.

One final note: Daddy athlete is back in full effect. I followed my workout today by refueling and then taking the kids to the pool for 90 minutes. I also cut the lawn. No naps. I swear this has been instrumental in the development of my "durability."

Sandy Point Ride (note the long transition resulted from coming back to the kids being on the deck painting. Can't be a good Daddy if I just take off for my run w/o checking out the portfolio!)
T-run Indian Ave to 2nd Beach

PS: Turns out being good for the long stuff is more important than one of my "bucket list" items; namely to win something overall one more time in my life. I had a golden opportunity to run and dominate a 5K near my house today, but turns out the longer session was more important to me after all. I guess it's time to drop that item from my list.