Monday, April 30, 2007

My week in review - Week 12

Its Monday, so it must be time for my week in review. This past week's conclusion marks my 3rd month of training. This week was my largest volume week so far. It was also my most memorable. I had several breakthrough swim workouts and finally went mountain biking. With all the nice weather, its hard not to want to have a great workout. Let's take a look at the stats:

- Swim: 6250 yards (Goal: 6000)
- Bike: 4 hours 20 minutes (Goal: 4)
- Run: 6 miles (Goal: 6)
- Weight Sessions: 2 (Goal: 2)
- Hours: 9 hours (Goal: 9 hours)

This week, I'm looking to keep up the volume. I have a fun 5k race planned for Sunday, but other than that, its business as usual. I'd like to keep my swim and bike totals up this week. Goals for the week:

- Swim: 6500 yards
- Bike: 4 hours
- Run: 6 miles
- Weight Sessions: 2
- Hours: 9

Have a great week and enjoy your training!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mountain Biking at Last!

It seems that my weather rant worked and I was able to go riding after all. I got a bit scared though, because it was pouring here around 11:00 pm last night and I had to get up and check the radar to see if this was just a passing shower or what. Phew...it was only a tiny isolated shower that didn't even come close to Lorton, VA where I ride, which is about 30 miles south of DC. Fountainhead is by far the best trail in the immediate area. It is a challenging course and requires a good deal of technical skills to safely navigate the terrain and come out alive. Its about at 8-9 mile loop, which is normally enough, but sometimes if I'm feeling dangerous, I'll go for two loops. Since I had already gone for a great swim and this was only my 2nd time riding this year, I figured one loop would be more than enough. I was just hoping to escape without too many bruises.

Surprisingly, I only had one real fall, which left me with a slightly bruised wrist...but that's about it! I was headed up a steep ascent and figured I'd be friendly and ask a guy who was stopped at the middle of the hill if he was doing ok. Of course, talking to him distracted me from climbing the rooty hill and I got caught between two BIG roots. Unfortunately, I couldn't power over them and since it was a steep hill, couldn't slip out in time. Bike flipped back and landed on top of me...the usual result from a fall...or the one downside to using clipless pedals. Comes with the territory though.
One of the more technical descents on the trail - "Shock-a-Billy" Hill

I had a really good ride, technically. I hopped a few more logs, including several I typically don't try and made it through some of the more difficult sections that I have had issues with in the past. In all a great ride for only my second time out this year.

Three is the magic number

For more than 2 and a half months, I've been developing my swimming base by hitting the pool twice a week. After I got to the point of being able to swim a reasonable distance without stopping (2000 yards), I started to decompose my stroke and try to increase my speed and efficiency. I read some helpful articles and watched some swim clips online. I knew what I would have to do to improve my swimming: up my swim frequency and work on form.

Most people say that in order to swim better, you need to swim more. A simple thing to do, right? I started with a technique day on Monday to make sure I got the new stroke (my entry and pull for now) into my muscle memory. After swimming 2000 yards of just focusing on my entry and pull, my Thursday swim was a breakthrough. I started to get "the feel for the water". I took to the new form but wanted to see how it would affect my endurance. I swam sets of 2 x 500 yards and a 1000 yard swim. My efficiency was much better and I felt stronger throughout the swim. This morning, I wanted to take it to the next level and see how it would effect my speed. My main set was 3 x 300, 200, 100. I'm happy to report that every set felt strong and smooth. My times in every set seemed to be PRs! I have never felt more encouraged to hit the pool more often.

So three must be the magic number!

Friday, April 27, 2007

April Showers....Bring...

Forget all that April showers brings May flowers crap. It's not true. April showers ruin opportunities to get in quality workouts. Take for example, my plans this weekend to go mountain biking. As part of my triathlon racing, I also participate in Xterra events. In order to survive them, as anyone who has done one can attest, you NEED to be technically capable of riding. You can't hide your riding skills out on the course by going extra slow. It only makes it worse. There is only one way over a tree stump or down a massive rocky hill...and that is to ride it.

So here here's my problem with the weather. Because it is mountain biking, trails typically have large hills, water crossings, log hops, etc. I'm sure its not news to anyone, but when it rains, all the water ruins the trails by eroding the dirt, leaving rooty trails in poor conditions and lots of mud. Typically, most trails get closed following a rain to give time for the trails to dry out. So this leads me to my point.

The April showers from last night will likely ruin my chances of going mountain biking this weekend. I'd rather have the hot sweaty summers, just so these stupid April showers will go away and I can get some time on the trails before my first Xterra race in June. Arrgghhh!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pics from GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler

Here are some pictures from last week's race that I got today from the event photographer:

Taken a few miles into the race

Somewhere in the middle of the race

The finish

The Feel of the Water

You hear people talk about it all the time in articles about learning to swim. At some point, you become one with the water and begin to have "a feel for the water" as you glide from one end of the pool to the other. I believe I am starting to get that feeling. After several weeks of consistently swimming 2000 - 2500 yards per workout a couple times a week, I think this morning's swim was the confirmation that all this work is helping. Today I swam 2050 yards at my moderate pace and it felt good! Usually when I push myself, I start to feel weak the last few hundred yards. This time I swam all the way through the last lap and could have swam more if I didn't have to go to work. I've got another swim planned this week and I'm hoping this is a sign of things to come. Now that I feel good doing it, I just need to work on my speed and do it faster!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Race Report: GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler

Sunday was my first long race of the season, the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler. The weather couldn't have been nicer - 60F by the start, 70F by the end, and sunny all day. In fact, I got my first farmer's tan of the season!

Pre-race
Woke up at 5:00 am, drank a glass of water, followed by a big bowl of oatmeal (approx 200 calories). Drank another glass of water and was out the door by 5:45 with a banana in hand. TT and I got to the race site by 6:00 am and got on the buses, which take you to the starts of both the 5k and the 10 Miler. Unfortunately, the buses were only taking people for either race, so TT and I had to wish each other luck. Got to Mount Vernon by 6:45 and had a long wait for the 8:00 am start. Did a little warm up, ate my banana, and drank some more water to pass the time. People started getting organized by the start line about 15 minutes before the start. At that point, they announced the race would be delayed by 5-10 minutes, as another series of buses rolled in at about 7:55. All of the sudden, the gun goes off and everyone was wondering if that was the start. Apparently it was, but there was no heads up announcement. Fortunately, I was about 30 seconds back, so I had plenty of time to ready to get moving toward the start line.

Race
Once I finally got to the start line, I was in the usual predicament for a mass start. It appears that people still do not understand that slower paced runners should line up toward the back. In order to break away from the masses, I ran up onto the curbs and grass to make my way around everyone until there was enough room to navigate. Mile 1 passed with a split of 7:02. I knew it was a bit fast and figured I would settle into a pace once I broke free from the crowd. The one aspect that worried me was that my heart rate was hanging in the low 170s. I tried to slow my pace down a little bit to see if it would lower, but it didn't change, so I kept the pace since I felt good. Below are my mile splits, average hr (top line), and altitude (curvy bottom line) for the race:


Total: 1 hour 13 minutes 50 seconds
Average Pace: 7:26/mile
Average HR: 174

All was great until right around mile 7-8. I started getting some lower back pain and it was really putting a strain on my running. I think all the standing around for the race to start took its toll on my back. I should have used some of the time while waiting for the race to start, to sit down and rest my back. Other than that, it was a perfect race that led to a 7 minute PR!

Preliminary results have me placing 255/2538 and 58/209 in my age group. However, these results are based on gun time, not net time. I may move up or down, because I see quite a few people with times all over the place. They state they will post them by new time later this week, so hopefully, I'll have an update later.

Post Race
Once the race was over, we went over to get some food. I grabbed a bagel and some water and we were off on our way home, because we had planned to go for a nice bike ride to get TT acclimated to her new ride. Grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed out on the road for a 30 minute ride. The weather was so nice, I could care less that my legs were dead. Once our easy ride was over, we came back and had a nice bbq to celebrate our collective PRs.

My week in review - Week 11

Legs are quire sore from yesterday's race. Based on the level of improvement in my time, I'll chalk that up to another solid week of training. And speakin of training, its time to recap my week in review. First, the stats:

- Swim: 1800 yards (Goal: 4000)
- Bike: 3.5 hours (Goal: 3)
- Run: 16 miles (Goal: 15)
- Weight Sessions: 2 (Goal: 2)
- Time: 7 hours (Goal: 7)

I had to cut my 2nd swim session this week out of my schedule in favor of rest. Aside from that, all was good. I'll be sure to make up for that this week, and lower the run totals to recover from yesterday's race. Goals for the week:

- Swim: 6000 yards
- Bike: 4 hours
- Run: 6 miles
- Weight Sessions: 2
- Time: 9 hours

Have a great week and enjoy your training!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler Update

Well I finally made it race day! It was well worth the trouble to make sure I was rested. My goals were to break 1:20 (previous PR) and to keep at least the first 5 miles under 8:00/mile pace. I figured if I could get some bonus time running under 8:00/mile early, I wouldn't have to push too hard if I fell behind later in the race to break 1:20. Well sure enough, I hit both goals...and by a lot!

The stats:
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 1:13.50
Ave Pace: 7:26/mile

PR by more than 7 minutes! More details of my race to come...

TT also had a PR of nearly a minute and half, finishing the 5k race in 27:11!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Resisting Temptation

Once again, the clock is ticking down to race day. Tomorrow morning is a 10 miler, but nothing more than a training run in a race situation. Fortunately, the weather is back to seasonal temperatures (60s/70s), which should make for a great race. The real challenge is making myself rest. I recently wrote about making sure I have enough rest and I have taken the remainder of the week relatively easy since Wednesday. Today is a full off day. However, I just went to pick up my race packet and saw the hundreds of cyclists and runners on the trails. All it made me want to do was to get outside and ride. I'm being strong though and staying busy doing some chores. I don't know how much longer I can hold out though...race day better get here faster!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Difficult Challenge

As most you know, the most challenging part of training programs is knowing when its time to go "easy" for a change. With an upcoming 10 Miler this weekend, I know I should be taking it easy these next couple of days to give my body some rest. However, since this race isn't anything more than a training race, I'd like to keep up my numbers for the week. My state of mind when my goals for the week were established said, go hard until Friday and start taking it easy then. However, as a competitive person, I'd like to run a good time on Sunday and don't want to go into my race with "dead legs".

Choices....choices...choices...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Figure This One Out

Two pools. Both claim to be 25 yards in length. When I swim at one, my average 100 yard pace is about 5-10 seconds slower than at the other. Could it be a mistake of yards vs meters? Could it be a mysterious pool black hole? Could it be thinner water to swim through? I don't know.

I'm out of possible explanations, having swam at both pools many times, yet I am still confused...

Monday, April 16, 2007

My week in review - Week 10

Motivated by watching so many triathletes during IMAZ yesterday, I'm geeked up for another week of training. But before that, its time for my week in review. Here are the stats:

- Swim: 3900 yards (Goal: 4000)
- Bike: 4 hours (Goal: 3)
- Run: 3.5 miles (Goal: 10)
- Weight Sessions: 1 (Goal: 2)
- Time: 6 hours (Goal: 7.5)

We got hit pretty hard by the cold bug this week and it cut down on my time spent outside. I despise running on treadmill, so I spent my time more wisely by adding some extra time in the saddle. My killer swim workout on Friday put me back on track for my swim totals, after a headache ruined my first swim earlier in the week.

Looking into this next week, I'd like to take it hard through Thursday and then recover for my 10 miler on Sunday. Goals for the next week are:

- Swim: 4000 yards
- Bike: 3 hours
- Run: 15 miles (including GW Parkways Classic 10 miler)
- Weight Sessions: 2
- Time: 7 hours

That's all for me. Have a great week and enjoy your workouts!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Watching IMAZ


So, I wouldn't say today was the most productive day from a training perspective. I stayed out late last night to see some friends I haven't seen in a long time, which resulted in an off day for me. However, I can say that I did not completely avoid triathlon.

I've been actively following IMAZ throughout the day, trying to keep track of several fellow tri bloggers. I think the coolest thing about today is the live feed of the race. Its amazing to be able to watch everyone. And now that many of pros have begun finishing, its awesome to watch the emotions come over people as they cross the line. Of course, its only going to get more intense as the true age groupers start crossing the line in a few hours. I'll be glued to my couch tonight, so I can witness it as it happens, rather than watching some youtube clip later.

I do have one complaint. It would be nice if the camera they use for the finish line shot has sufficient batteries. Just as the men's pro race was coming to an end, the video feed went dead and I didn't get to see the actual finish. This happened quite a bit for the first half hour of finish line shots. Pretty poor timing if you ask me. But hey...to be able to watch full coverage of an Ironman race, I can't really complain, can I?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I feel like a fish

Returning to the pool following what I considered a disappointing workout, I wasn't sure what to think. In the past, I'd use that experience to think of every other reason why I shouldn't go swimming. Well I am a changed man. I wanted to prove myself wrong. Had I really slipped and my form escaped me in the pool or was it just a fluke day? I wanted to let my actions determine that this time, and not let my mind take over so quickly.

As I planned my workout, I wanted to make sure I wasn't being too optimistic, so I set my goals low. Plan was to swim 2000 yards, focusing on speed work, with a main set of 10 x 100 yards alternating between hard and recovery pace. I got in the pool before the crowds, so I had the lane all to myself and began my 500 yard warm up. I felt OK, but not really that much different from my last workout, except that my form felt a little bit better. However, once I got to the main sets, I turned on the jets and swam faster sets than I have ever swam. Again, this is probably cruising pace for many, but it was significantly faster for me. By the time I was done with my main set, I wanted more, before going into some drills. So I decided to throw in another 200 hard and 200 recovery, which was then followed by 600 yards of drills.

That took me to a total of 2500 yards for the day. Only the 2nd time I've hit that mark and I walked out of the pool this time, without limping. Can't say I did that the last time I swam that much. I felt fresh and could have gone further, but had to get home since I had dinner plans.

Its times like these that make the struggles worth it all...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Back in Business

Stopped by the LBS today to see if they could replace the derailleur hangar on my mountain bike in time for me to go riding this weekend. I was a bit concerned, because this is the time when all the shops get inundated with "amateur" bikers who are just dusting off their rides for the season in need of tune ups. Luckily, the shop guy I spoke with the last time was working and told me he'd do it right on the spot. 10 minutes of perusing the shop and resisting the temptation to buy something I don't need and I was on my way with a fixed ride!

Let's just hope this doesn't happen again

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One of those days

I can't put my finger on it, but today was just one of those days. You know, when the workout just doesn't go as well as you would like it. Today's swim workout was one of those workouts I would like to forget. I started with a straight swim of 1000 yards which was OK, but slower than usual. I could tell my form was sloppy and I developed a headache in the middle of the set. Not a great way to start, huh? I had planned to do 5 x 200 yard decreasing intervals after the 1000 yard swim, but only got through 2 of the 200 yard sets. My head was just pounding too much. Even on the last 200 though, I felt like I was pushing relatively hard, but my time was way slow. I'd just like to think that today was a hiccup and my next swim workout will be back to progression...at least I hope so!

Monday, April 9, 2007

My week in review - Week 9

Since this week's worth of workouts was only a half week, due to being gone Sunday - Wednesday, my week in review was a bit lighter this week. However, this is ONLY in the totals department. I had 2 killer workouts this week, including speed work in the pool and a half marathon run. So here are the numbers for the week:

- Swim: 1800 yards (Goal: 2000)
- Bike: 1 hour (Goal: 3)
- Run: 13.24 miles (Goal: 10)
- Weight Sessions: 1 (Goal: 1)
- Time: 4 hours (Goal: 6)

I would have had another hour on the bike, but a little event happened during spinning on Saturday, that limited my spin session to only 1 hour. Aside from that, all was good. My body is sore from the run yesterday, but I feel refreshed from a lighter week overall.

The week ahead is looking somewhat promising, however the temperatures are expected to stay cool. This means less time to hit the roads on the bike. Once I get my derailleur hanger fixed on my mountain bike, I think I may try to hit up some of the trails this week, which will satisfy some of my cycling time. So here are the goals for the week:

- Swim: 4000 yards - focus on speed
- Bike: 3 hours - mix of road/mountain biking
- Run: 10 miles - light recovery runs from the half marathon
- Weight Sessions: 2
- Time: 7.5 hours

Have a great week and enjoy your workouts!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Unchartered Territory

Feeling the effects of nearly a week's worth of Passover food has taken a toll on me. You see, nearly everything is a starch and too much starch can leave you feeling a bit larger around the waist. My diet has been right on this year...well with the exception of one little incident. So feeling a bit guilty of gaining a lb or two made me want to reach deep down and surprise myself with a big workout.

Today's workout was a half marathon (plus a little more). The longest run I've completed before was 12 miles, which I did last summer. I simply have had no reason to go that far. My focus has been Olympic distance triathlon races, so anything beyond 10 miles doesn't provide much value for my focus. My next race however is a 10 miler, more for fun than anything else, but a race nonetheless. So I figured a nice long run today would give me some more base miles under my belt for when I need it in a few weeks for the 10 mile race. The focus of today's run again was being "smooth and steady". Goal pace was anything under 9:00/mile, but closer to 8:30/mile if possible. The results were pretty good:

Distance: 13.24 miles
Time: 1 hour 54 minutes
Pace: 8:48/mile

Taking a few pages out of the National Marathon and Marine Corp Marathon courses, I developed a course that takes me through a wide variety of terrain and scenery. As you can see by my course below, it consisted of some time in VA and DC through the scenic mall downtown to the Capitol, along the monuments, past Arlington Cemetery and Iwo Jima Memorial and back into my neighborhood in Arlington. Its always nice to pass through these important monuments and get an appreciation for the area I live in. Even though it was only 32 degrees, there were plenty of tourists out there enjoying the sights.
The run was pretty smooth up until Mile 10. So far this season, 10 miles is the farthest I have gone, so this makes sense. Miles 9.5 through 12 were all up hill with no real breaks, so it took its toll on both my legs and my pace. For the first 10 miles, I was averaging pretty close to 8:30/mile, but was up in the lower 9:00s during the later miles, so it picked up my average.

In all, a successful breakthrough to a new distance.

Friday, April 6, 2007

A New Low For Being Lazy


Now I know its been cold lately, but COME ON!

Back to Reality

Unfortunately, my time away from work and the rest of my normal life is over and its time to get back to the daily grind. The rest away from home was much needed and appreciated. TT and I went up to NY to spend some time with her cousins and celebrate Passover. The nice thing about celebrating Passover with them was that there was no tv, no cell phones, and no computers. I told work to not even bother trying to contact me, because I wouldn't have my phone on or be checking email. It was a nice break from the usual routine of having my email and/or phone available all the time. You may be asking yourself, what could one possibly do without all those things? Well, you can sleep, eat, rest,, eat, and sleep. You get the idea. Not a bad way to spend some time away from home : -)

So now that I am back, I am finding it challenging to get back in the routine. I think for me, its more of the fact that its the middle of the week and I hate starting something in the middle. Call it OCD I guess. If I don't get in workouts in the beginning of the week, it becomes a challenge to put in a good week. I need to get past the mental part of starting in the middle/end.

And that starts today...I've got a 2500 yard swim planned to get my body back in the swing of things.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

My week in review - Week 8

Writing in a bit early this time, as I'm headed out of town for the next couple of days. Its already been 2 months of steady training. So that would mean its time again for another My Week in Review.

This week had some great workouts, and some ugly workouts. I hit the 2500 yard mark for the first time in the pool. Too bad I strained my hamstring getting out of the pool. I also completed my "Smooth and Steady" Olympic Triathlon simulated race and felt great doing it. Tuesday was my week's low point, as I bonked on my 40 mile bike ride. To look at the brighter side of all of these workouts, is that I've learned a lot of things from them. Some of them, more obvious than others. For example, if you are planning on doing at 2+ hour workout, don't prepare your food intake as if it were a light day ;) Oh well...fool me once...

Lets get to the numbers:
- Swim: 4500 yards (Goal: 4200)
- Bike: 4 hours; 65 miles (Goal: 5 hours)
- Run: 6.4 miles (Goal: 5 miles)
- Weight Sessions: 2 (Goal: 2)
- Time: 7 hours (Goal: 8 hours)

For the most part, I met my goals. I had a planned hour ride for Thursday, but due to the hamstring injury on Wednesday, I needed Thursday for rest and didn't want to push on Friday, right before my simulated tri on Saturday. I acknowledge right now that my bike it my limiter. I've spent the majority of my season getting my run and swim on, due to the lack of riding weather. Well now that its heating up, the bike will be my focus for the next 2 months.

Since I'll be out of town for through Wednesday and won't have access to a bike or pool, I'm using these days as rest days, following my big day yesterday. I plan to do a little running, but mostly resting for the big upcoming weeks. Goals for the week:

- Run: 9 miles
- Bike: 3 hours
- Swim: 2500 yards
- Weight Sessions: 1
- Time: 6 hours

Have a great week and enjoy your workouts!
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