Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 year in review

My first year of doing triathlons was amazing.  I logged 76,377 (34 hours) yards swimming, 1733 miles biking (111 hours) and 773 miles running (128 hours).  I'm pretty happy with that.

Here is a recap of my races in 2010.  This is for me, so it may be long.  If you don't want to see pics of a pasty white, middle aged guy, run away.....

Race #1:  St. Louis 1/2 Mary 4/11 - 1:58:21

I talked my friend Craig in to running his first half.  I think he had fun.  It was my second half and I beat my last time by 10 minutes!

Overall rank - 2344/6830

Male rank - 1514/3894
Age group rank - 197/490

Race #2: Effingham IL Sprint 5/16 - 1:21:54 (first tri ever!).
low 50's and raining but I couldn't stop smiling

swim - 10:53 for 1/4 mile (2:29 pace).  I freaked out a little, hyper ventilated then stopped, looked around, reminded myself I was actually doing my first tri, smiled then kept going.

T1 chatting with Cheryl

T1 - 2:00

Coming in to T2

bike - 41:10 for 13 miles (18.95 mph) - not bad for my first bike race ever plus my fingers and toes were numb.

T2 - 1:00

My feet were frozen and they hurt!
 run - 26:53 - 3.1 miles (8:38 pace) - I'm pretty happy with that.

I wasn't last, but it sure looks like it!

Overall rank 46/78 - Missed my goal of top half

Age group rank 7/10 - ditto

What a rush!

Race #3: Carlyle IL Sprint 5/23 - 1:24:25
I was sick from my last race.  I often get colds the week after a race but this was worse.  I had cold sweats the night before.  I figured if I was achy in the morning I would DNS, but I felt ok, just a little worn out.  This race weather was the opposite of last week.  The temp was upper 80's and high humidity.  After the race last week I was thinking of doing an Oly soon.  Not during/after this race.  The run was across a dam was like a sauna.

Ryan and I getting ready to race.  Yep, he is that much taller than me.  I'm 5' 7"  and he is 6" 8" and I was standing on the uphill side :-).   Ryan and I met through a beginner triathlete mentor group.  Cheryl calls him "the guy I met on the Internet" :-).  We did two races together in 2010 and are both signed up for New Orleans 70.3 in April

swim starts can be chaotic
 swim - 12:35 for 547 yards (2:18 pace)

T1 - 2:26

bike - 29:26 for 12.4 miles (18.87 mph)

T2 - 0:56

run - 29:05 for 3.1 miles (9:23 min/mile pace)

Nice big hill to run up after the swim.  I put my goggles and cap in my wet suit sleeve and they fell out as I was running up the hill (I lost them) 
 The run was brutal with the heat. It was out and back across a dam and the rocks on both sides radiated heat on you. The run was flat except for a big hill at the turn around that you could see until you got there. It was a big demotivator!

Overall rank: 21/72 - not bad
Age group rank: 5/12 - met my goal

Race #4: Innsbrooke MO Octomax 6/26 - 1:44:24
I get in to a pre-race funk before just about every race.  I love training but I think the stress of remembering everything, full contact swimming, riding fast in traffic on the road, knowing the run will hurt, etc. all add up to stress for me.  This race was probably the worst for that.   I didn't know one person at this race and had to get up at 4 am or so to drive there.  It was also very hot and humid.  I was dripping sweat just setting up my transition area and I seriously questioned why I race.  I know the answer.  If I didn't sign up to race, I wouldn't train regularly.

This was my first lake swim without a wet suit.  It was a little intimidating and the water was uncomfortably warm.  I did a pre-race swim to help ease my mind.  Overall the swim was fine.  I did get elbowed and took in some water, which was scary.  I stopped and treaded water for a bit to collect myself.

swim - 12:17 for 500 yards (2:28/100 pace)
T1 - 3:20 (we had to run up a long hill)

This bike course had lots of short steep hills.  I hit 41 mph on one of them!  It was really fun.

bike - 58:38 for 18 miles (18.42 mph)
T2 - 1:17

The run was brutally hot.  I remember questioning why anyone would do this as I ran. The woman behind me was working hard to chick me right at the finish.  When I was approaching the finish line all I heard was someone breathing real hard trying to pass me.

run - 28:52 for 3 miles (9:37 pace)

Overall rank - 72/224
Age group rank - 13/25

The sense of accomplishment and feeling alive are incredible after racing.  While racing, I think this is stupid and why would anyone pay money to hurt themselves like this.  A couple days after the race, I signed up for two more......

Race # 5 - New Town tri, St. Charles MO 7/11 - 2:00:30

 I got a really nice surprise for this race. I joked with my teenage daughter the night before the race that she should come watch.  She said yes!  She normally sleeps until noon (or later) and she got up at 5 to go to the race.  We bought coffee and she got a doughnut before the race.  When we got there, she was walking around with the doughnut looking at all the skinny people and she said "I can't eat a doughnut here.  Look at all the fit people!".  She is very thin and could have easily gotten away with it but she threw the doughnut away :-).

She was chatting away and kept asking me what was wrong.  I was too quiet.  I had to explain I was nervous with pre-race jitters. 

It was another hot day.  Such is life in the St. Louis area.
 This was my first time trial start and longest OWS to date.  I did a terrible, absolutely terrible job sighting.

Check out the guy with messed up legs waiting to swim.  I have no idea how he did, but it is very inspirational seeing athletes that don't let disabilities stop them from doing things they love.

swim 22:13  for 1093 yards (2:02/100 pace).  I think there was a current helping us on the long stretch.  I didn't swim 2:02 worthy.

 T1 - 2:00

I was glad to be out of the water and a little disoriented.
 bike 59:28 for 20 miles (20.18 mph)

That is hammering it for me!  I'm happy with 20 mph for my first season.

T2 - 0:59
I seem to have my transitions down, about 2 minutes for T1 and 1 minute for T2.  I'm happy with those times.
This run was brutally hot.  I fought the urge to walk many times.

35:50 for 4 miles (8:58 pace) - not bad considering the heat and I'm just not a fast runner.

I always have the urge to raise my arms when I cross the finish line.  What's up with that?

Overall rank - 252/547
Age group rank - 26/48

Race # 6 - Evergreen Lake Sprint (40k bike leg) Bloomington, IL 7/17 - 2:02:54
 It looks like I never uploaded the pics my friend Annie took and I lost the disc.

<-- arms up again :-)

swim - 13:49 for 550 yards (2:32/100)
T1 - 1:38
bike - 1:19:07 for 26.1 miles (19.78 mph)
T2 - 1:24
run - 26:55 for 3.1 miles (8:39 pace)

Overall - 52/176
Age group - 4/10

I qualified for Age Group Nationals with a top five age group finish!  Truth be told, the faster athletes in my age group raced the Olympic :-).

Race # 7 - St. Charles MO 1/2 Mary 10/3 - 1:55:11 (8:38 pace)

This was my best 1/2 marathon time yet.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed in the time.  It seems like I should be able to run faster given the effort I put out.  Maybe if I didn't have so much stuff in my pockets I could have run faster :-).

<-- Yes I was hurting!



<--  Hands in the air :-)

Overall rank - 797/5983
Age group rank - 141/352

I also volunteered at Ironman 70.3 - Branson in Septemeber.  It was a really cool experience.  I planned to do one Olympic distance race in 2010, but a shoulder overuse injury due to swimming sidelined me from swimming for a while.  Overall I consider 2010 a very solid year and I'm in the best shape of my life.  Hopefully I can keep it up  in 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Week 4 (Recovery week)

I'll start by saying, I like recovery weeks :-).  Many training plans incorporate recovery weeks, often every third or fourth week.  The idea is to build volume or intensity for three weeks then let your body recover on the fourth.  Recovery doesn't mean take the week off or even go super easy, it just means scale it back a bit.  My plan called for eight sbr (swim-bike-run) hours the first week,  nine the second week, ten the third week, and six the recovery week. I didn't quite make those numbers.

I started looking for a mentor group to join on BT this week.  I've been in two groups previously and they were very beneficial for learning about triathlons.  After reading all the bios, I decided what the heck.  I'll give being a mentor a go.  I'm no expert, but I do a lot of studying about triathlon training and I think I'm a good motivator for people.  Besides, there are usually more mentees than mentors, so I'll be helping out.  I'm looking forward to it.  If you are a total newb and want to do a tri, join a group.  Mine should be open this week unless they have enough mentors.  Feel free to join a group with a more experienced mentor.

This week was also Christmas.  Christmas is probably my second favorite holiday after Thanksgiving.  We stayed home this year, only the second time in the last 16 years.  We played board games Christmas Eve and had a blast. If you've never played Apples to Apples, check it out. It's a hoot.  It's also nice waking up in your own bed, getting a trainer ride in, then eating breakfast casserole, cheese logs, cheese spread, cheese, cheese and more cheese.  I cooked a turkey and Cheryl made cheesy potatoes, corn casserole, and peanut butter pie. 


I should probably avoid the scale for a couple days until I work these extra calories off :-).  Anyway, we had a bunch of family over, had a great time visiting, and played board games.

Planned s/b/r hours .9/2.9/2.5
Actual s/b/r hours .5/3.25/2.5

Monday, December 20, 2010

Good Shoulder News (and week 3 recap)

I saw my orthopedic doctor this week. He said I may need to make a decision between surgery and quitting swimming. He ordered an MRI which I did Friday and I had a follow up with him Monday.  He looked at the pics and said he sees no tears or spurs so no reason to jump in to surgery! 

He said it is inflamed and gave me another cortisone shot.  I told him I would like to nurse my way through this season and if it still bothering me this fall, consider surgery then. He said he didn't see anything wrong with going this route. I did have a good swim Wednesday night. My plan was to swim sets until I hit 2500 yards or my shoulder starting hurting, I made it 2200 yards before I called it quits. That is the most I have swum since July. My shoulder was pretty sore when I got home so I iced it and it seems fine now. I was reading through some old blog posts and when my injury first started, my left shoulder hurt more than my right shoulder. My left one has no pain or discomfort anymore, so there is hope I can ride this through with no surgery.

Week three is in the books and overall it went well.  I missed two of nine workouts which is typical for me.  It's all part of the balancing game.  I missed one run because I just didn't feel like getting up at 5 am and I missed one swim because we went Christmas caroling with the neighbors.  We sounded horrible, but it was fun :-)

My long ride on Saturday was my longest trainer ride yet, two hours and twenty minutes.  Not a problem mentally, it was actually nice.  I watched some history channel on tv then when Josh woke up I watched him play Call of Duty.  The history channel was showing WWII in color.  War is horrific, and while the Germans were bad, the US did some pretty nasty things too.  I'm glad I never had to serve and really appreciate those who have.

My long run was Sunday.  I violated one running volume rule and my long run was about 50% of my weekly volume (it shouldn't be more than 33%).  It was chilly out, overcast and damp.  With no wind it would have been perfect.  When I turned in to the wind, I was instantly cold.  I need to find a wind proof, breathable jacket and pant set.

Today I'm pretty darn sore.  That was my biggest volume week in quite a while capped off with the longest ride and run I've done in a while.  It doesn't help that the week before I missed 8 days of training.  Sometimes it feels good to be sore and this is one of them.  I know I did some good work outs over the weekend.

Planned s/b/r hours

Actual s/b/r hours

I need to add in some core work.......

Monday, December 13, 2010

Back in the U.S.S.R

Well, the former Soviet Union anyway.  My last Moldova blog has more pictures and info about the country.  It was a very productive trip and we were treated well.  We got a better taste of Moldovan life by venturing out on our own to a couple restaurants.  The food was excellent all week.  They really know how to cook well.  Everything I had was tender and not overdone with good flavor.

I never got a good night sleep while I was there, waking up about 3 am every morning and having trouble going back to sleep.  I didn't have nearly that much trouble on the last trip.  When I returned Saturday evening, I went to bed about 9 and woke up about 8 and I slept like a snoring rock.  It was great!

I didn't get any training in while I was gone, but I now feel comfortable enough over there that I will be able to go out for a run on my next trip.  The same thing happened to me when I was in Brazil.  It took a couple trips until I felt comfortable going out for walks by myself which then led to being able to train (running).  Funny, the first time I walked in Brazil, I felt like everyone was staring at the strange American until someone stopped me to ask for directions in Portuguese.  That's when I knew they didn't know that I was from there.

Here is a cool picture of a house near where we were working.

One strange thing happened on the way back.  We checked in with Air Moldova at 4:30 am and they issued me a ticket for the first leg of my trip.  The guys I traveled with received tickets for the first two legs.  So when we got to Frankfurt I stopped by a Lufthansa service desk and asked for a ticket.  No problem, they issue me tickets for the last two legs of my trip.  Everything is cool until about 20 minutes before my flight and I looked at my tickets.  They weren't mine!  I received tickets for Mrs. Susan Michael.  What??? When I received the tickets the guy must have typed my baggage claim ticket number wrong, but not noticing I'm a Mr. and the tickets are for a Mrs., really?  I went to the gate checkin and they printed the proper ticket so no big deal.

Next topic - communication.  I've been thinking about this for a while and noticing it more and more.  I've been in several conversations where someone starts to discuss or explain something they have recently experienced and before they get a couple sentences in to the explanation, someone jumps in and says me too!  I had the same thing, blah, blah, blah, the only thing is, the first person was talking about a totally different experience that happened to start off with the same subject line.  Since I've noticed it more and more, I suspect I've been doing the same thing so I'm now making an effort to let people finish what they want to talk about whether I've had a similar experience or not.  I've seen this at work, home, and out with the guys, so I conclude it's prevalent.

Next topic - my Black Friday order from ZootSports.  I received this email 12/7.

Dear Mike,

Unfortunately your recent order has been canceled due to unavailable inventory at the time of purchase. As a result, we will be refunding your credit card in full for the cost of your order.

I sincerely apologize for this inconvenience, which was the result of inclement weather that forced a two day closure to our warehouse and offices.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

My response 12/12.


I have to say I’m disappointed about this. I was pretty excited about the deal I got on November 26th. I hope the lack of inventory wasn’t because my inventory wasn’t pulled before your warehouse sale December 5th. I’m also surprised my order was cancelled with no offer for money off a future purchase or something. I understand you were probably overwhelmed by the Black Friday sale, but the tri gear market is pretty competitive and I don’t consider this good customer service.

Last topic - week 2 of 70.3 training.  Not so good.  I was out of the country for 8 days at a hotel with no workout room and I was chicken to run outside (not to mention I was really tired).  It gets worse.  I went to the ortho doc today and he said I likely have a decision to make.  He thinks I'll need surgery if I want to keep swimming.  I have an MRI later this week.

Planned swim/bike/run (in hours)


Monday, December 6, 2010

70.3 training week 1

Week 1 and I'm already having serious training changes mostly due to work.  I did miss one morning run, but I also made two of them.  I'm not a morning person so getting up at 5:15 is a struggle for me.

I set up a custom plan on BT and am modifying it by doing Jorge's winter cycling plan except combining workout three and four each week.  So my ideal schedule is

Mon - rest
Tue AM - short run/shoulder PT
Tue PM - Bike
Wed AM - medium run
Wed PM - swim
Thur AM - short run/shoulder PT
Thur PM - Bike
Friday PM - swim
Saturday - long bike or run
Sunday - long run or bike

Don't worry, life or laziness will keep me from doing 9 workouts just about every week, starting with week 1.  For week 1, I missed my Wednesday AM run.  Besides having a tough time getting up before work, I find three days in a row with two workouts a day to be tiring or maybe it's the fact that I have three leg workouts in a 36 hour span.  I would also like to run more often and shorter with most runs.  I know, I know,  I just need to suck it up (buttercup) :-).

So besides missing my Wed AM run, I missed both my long ride and run this weekend.  I ended up traveling pretty much the entire weekend.  I left my house at 9:30 am Saturday and arrived in Eastern Europe at 6:30 pm Sunday.  I took Friday afternoon off to run errands and pack (and work out).  I managed an hour on the trainer followed by a 6.75 mile run.  It wasn't a true brick (where you immediately start running after changing shoes).  I took about a half an hour to change clothes, get a drink, change shoes, check email, etc.  So it wasn't a brick but it was a nice medium length run (actually long at this point in training) on tired legs.  It actually felt good.  It was weird because my legs were tired when I started and didn't get much more tired during the course of the run.

SBR Plan in hours

Actual SBR hours

Not bad considering I missed two weekend days of training.

Oh, my right shoulder still hurts when I swim.  I see the ortho next Monday and predict another cortisone shot.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday of the year.  What's not to like about getting the family together, cooking, watching football, and just relaxing?  I've always liked it but, it seems to get better and better as I get older.  Is Thanksgiving an "older people" holiday?  My guess is yes.

A couple years ago we moved Thanksgiving to our house.  We used to have two Thanksgiving dinners, one at my parents and one at my mother-in-laws.  They were both excellent but I'm kind of a home body, so the relaxation level just isn't quite the same at someone else's house.  I also love to cook, so moving it to our house allows me to do another thing that I love. 

This year was the biggest get together yet.  My parents and most inlaws came as usual (I started typing all the inlaws and it got long).  We had a special bonus of my brother-in-law from Arizona and his family coming to visit.  I hadn't seen them in forever and it was great having them over as well.  We had 14 people total but it was supposed to be 16.  My niece and her husband had a baby last week and they were still in the hospital.  We ran a nice meal over to them which I'm sure they enjoyed.  We look forward to having them and Jonah over next year.

On to the good stuff, the food!  With all these people I decided to cook two turkeys and my parents brought down a honey baked ham.  I grilled on turkey on the Weber using my dad's method he taught me.  Oil the bird, coat with Lowry season salt, grill on indirect heat for about 20 minutes per pound until the temp reaches 180.  Works perfect every time.  I smoked the other turkey.  I brined it over night in cranberry-pomegranate juice with one cup of kosher salt per gallon.  In the morning I rinsed the brine and added more salt and pepper.  Smoking is tricky because it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour per pound depending on how hot the smoker is.  It was a cold rainy day and I had a 13 pound turkey so I got up at 5:15 am and lit the charcoal in case it took 12 hours to cook.  My luck, it took about six hours and I should have pulled it off after about 5.  Not a real big deal.  My dad and I wrapped it in aluminum foil, then a towel, and stuck it in a cooler to rest for a couple hours.

My mom, wife, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law made all the fixings.  Stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, corn casserole, broccoli casserole, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and peanut butter pie.  Needless to say, no one went hungry.  I made a black bean salsa to snack on all day while cooking and it was huge success.  Thanks neighbor Claire for the recipe!  Here it is if you are looking for a nice snack to bring to a party.

2 cans black beans (RINSE WELL and drain)

1 can white shoe peg corn (drain)
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh tomato
Combine all ingredients except tomato. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Add tomato just before serving. May need to add more lime juice and cilantro to taste.

Another good week of training (except swimming).  I moved things around a bit to fit it all in.  Wednesday night I skipped my swim because our company arrived.  Thursday I ran instead of biked because I was able to fit a run in nicely between checking on the turkeys.  Friday I managed to set the trainer up while everyone was either sleeping or Black Friday shopping.  That moved my long run to Saturday and long bike to Sunday instead of vice versa.  I normally take Friday off from running and cycling.  Not taking it off meant 6 days of running or cycling in a row.  My legs are tired.
Speaking of Black Friday.   Happy Black Friday to me!  I didn't do any crazy shopping.  After my parents left at 6 am, I took a long nap.  While catching up on BT posts I saw a thread about black Friday tri stuff.  I picked up two Zoot tri tops at 75% off plus a Sugio tri top and tri shorts for 40% off.  I need to decide what tri top and shorts I'll use during my HIM so I'll start doing my long rides and runs in different types to see what causes the least chaffing.
My training plan starts Monday 11/29.  I leave the country 12/4 for a week, so my 20 week plan will be more like 19.
This weeks totals
swimming 0 hours
biking 4.1 hours
running 2.9 hours

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's been a long time

It's been a long time since I did all three sports in the same week.  I only swam 1000 yards Wednesday and it wasn't entirely pain free, but my shoulders are feeling much better.  I'm concentrating on not crossing the center line with my arms and taking it easy.  I'm cautiously optimistic.  My swim goal for my HIM is going to be not to hurt my shoulders and relax.

My plan officially starts the Monday after Thanksgiving which is also the day I leave the country for 11 days.  Bummer.  I should be able to get a workout or two in Monday morning and the Friday after I return late Thursday night.  The hotel we are staying in does not have a gym and I didn't see anyone outside running last time I was there.  Oh well.

This week was a fairly solid week of training for me.

0.35 hours swimming
4 hours biking
2 hours running

To put this is perspective, this is pretty close to what I'll do in one day during New Orleans 70.3.  Double the swimming, cut a half hour or so off the bike, and add a about 15 minutes to the run and that should be about right barring any injury or equipment failure.  I think about  my first 70.3 during every workout.  I have a love/hate relationship with races.  I need a race to motivate me to train and I love training.  My run today was just great.  I turned off the tunes for a while and listened to the birds chirp and the leaves rustle.  I thought about my friends that are battling cancer and prayed for them.  After that, I just enjoyed being outside and the feeling of being so alive.  Racing is another story.  I really don't like the days leading up to the race.  I get tense, apprehensive, and grumpy.  The race itself is a blast and finishing is a great feeling, specially when people are cheering for you.  That reminds me of one of my triathlon pictures with no one cheering for me.   Check out the girl on the right.  Totally excited about my finish :-). Maybe she's not happy because I beat her twenty or thirty something boyfriend :-).

My daughter was there cheering me on at different points.  She just missed the finish.

One more pic I took on the way home from work this week.  Our local university has a ton of deer.  These two barely stopped eating long enough to look at me as I stopped my car right next to them. The one starring at me resumed eating right after the pic.

Um, I'm eating, move along.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving this week!  I have a lot to be thankful for.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bike Speed

I spent a little time thinking about bike speed this week.  My last two triathlons had 20 and 24 mile bike legs and I averaged 20.2 and 19.8 mph respectively (very flat courses).  I'm not unhappy with that, but would like to get a little faster in short races, like 22-23 mph.  So what can be done about it?  It comes down to four five things.  Power, weight, aero dynamics, and rolling resistance, oops money is number 5.

Power - I don't have a power meter so I don't know how many watts I'm cranking out, but more is always better.  I won't be buying one anytime soon since they start at over $500.  I will increase my power over the winter following my plan.

Weight - I have an entry level road bike with clip on aero bars. 

My bike
 I'm comfortable on it and until I save $3k for a tri bike, I'm gonna live with it. Maybe if I sign up for a full triathlon, I'll get one of these.  It just looks fast.

I've already dropped almost three grand on gear, nutrition, and race fees.  New Orleans is already up to $750 just with the race fee and hotel.  Add travel and food and that one race will be over a grand.  Man this sport is expensive!  Anyway, back to weight.  I could lose about another 10 pounds and that would help but I love steak, bacon, and beer too much.  We'll see.

Aerodynamics - I already have aero bars which help.  Next up is an aero helmet.  They can increase your speed between 0.5 and 1.5 mph for about $100-150 bucks.  That is cheap speed.  Aero wheels provide about the same increase in speed but they are over 10x the cost.  I'm not sure if I consider myself fast enough to wear one yet.

Rolling Resistance -  I've always thought my tires looked wide.  I checked them a little closer this week and my Kenda Kriterium's are 25 mm wide!  Looking at racing tires, they vary between 19 and 24 mm.  Here is a really cool chart where some guy tested a whole bunch of tires.   Based on some reviews and forum searches I decided I'm going to buy some Continental GP4000s' for training next year and maybe some Specialized Mondo Open Tubular's for racing.

I just looked up my tire. Here is the quote "This tire can do it all, from training to racing. Also available in a 700Cx25 size for touring and commuting."  So I've been racing on a touring tire!  Why didn't the bike store tell me?  These tires are now my trainer tires until they pop.

Kriterium's - 255g - ~$30 each - 20 Watts per wheel? 
GP4000s' -  198g ~$50 each - 14 Watts per wheel
Mondo's   - 225g - ~$70 each - 11.5 Watts per wheel

So I could gain ~12 Watts for ~$100.  Assuming I'm pushing 200-250 Watts, that's a 5% gain.  That could equal in the neighborhood of 1 mph.

So adding up the gains from my increased training, aero helmet and tire upgrade, I could be pushing close to 23 mph in a flat Olympic distance race next year.  That would be sweet.

Bike training this week has been good.  I did three workout's almost per plan.  The first was supposed to be a lactate threshold test.  After a warm up you go all out for 30 minutes and see what heart rate you can sustain.  It is as painful as it sounds.  So I was all primed to do the workout when I got home and we got a last minute invite from one of the neighbors for a chili dinner.  I love chili.  I figured if I skipped the beer, I could probably still do my work out.  Nope.  I got on the bike and was burping chili and got heart burn whenever I got in aero position.  It turned in to an easy zone 2 ride just to keep dinner down.  For my two hour ride yesterday I combined the 3rd and 4th workout in the plan.  So after about an hour and 20 minutes I did 14 30 second sprints pretty much all out.  Yep, it was painful. 

Running wasn't so good.  I was lazy and slept in so no running in the morning.  I planned an hour run on Sunday but tweaked my back Saturday.  My plan starts in two weeks, so not much more slack time.

This week

Swim 0 hours
Bike 4 hours
Run 0 hours

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I was in Moldova last week on business.  I was a little uneasy at first since this is a former Soviet area that declared itself an independent state in 1991.  The trip itself was long, but uneventful.  We flew from St. Louis to Chicago to Frankfurt to Moldova.  Total travel time was about 21 hours.  I arrived at the St. Louis airport about 3 pm Sunday and we arrived at our hotel at about 7 pm Monday.  Moldova was 7 hours ahead of us while I was there, it is normally 8 ahead of us.

Our hotel

The hotel was built in 2001 and was very nice.  The rooms were huge and very clean.  The wireless internet worked perfectly.  The staff spoke good English and were very pleasant.  No complaints at all.

The company we are working with picked us up at the airport and had a driver for us at all times.  I'm glad because I wouldn't want to drive there.  The driving isn't as crazy as Brazil, but it is fast paced. 

The people were overly kind to us.  They made sure we had everything we needed at all times.  They fed us like kings and were just generally pleasant.  I've noticed this "overly kind" trend repeatedly with people from other countries.  The people in Brazil treat us in a similar manner.  People I've worked with from Germany are the same way.  They go out of their way to make sure we're taken care of.  Americans on the other hand, are what I call "selfish kind".  We take our guests out and make sure they have what they need, but we are in more of a hurry to get home.

The food was delicious.  We had Zama, the national soup, along with solyanka, a delicious Russian soup.  We had Russian black bread, some local pickled vegetables, and crepes with cheese or meat in them.  We had a Turkish lamb dish which was very good.  Somehow they made the lamb taste like a beef roast instead of gamey.  One night, we went to a hunting restaurant and had wild boar and wild rabbit sausage.  I had venison for dinner and it was cooked to perfection.  They kept bringing more and more food out until we couldn't eat anymore.  Moldova is big into wine, so we had plenty of wine.  They are also proud of their vodka (of course) and Cognac. 

The weather was very similar to St. Louis though they are 10 degrees north of us latitude wise, so their winters are about 15 degrees colder than ours on average.  It's fall (leaves changing and falling) and the temps were mid 50'sF for a high and mid 30's F for a low.  Very pleasant.  People there dressed like they were very cold.  They kept the office and cars very warm.  I was sweating almost all the time unless I was outside or in my hotel room.  I turned on the A/C in my hotel room to counteract the radiator heat that I couldn't turn off.

I brought my running gear but decided not to run.  I didn't feel unsafe, but I didn't want to call any attention to myself either.  It seems like more people smoke than not in Moldova and I didn't see one runner while I was there.  I heard from a friend, I shouldn't leave the hotel without an escort.  Our business associate told me I could run as long as it was in the morning and I stuck to the main street.  The main street was very busy with people and traffic, so it wouldn't have been a relaxing run anyway.

I didn't see much architecture.  Most buildings were damaged in World War II and during Soviet rule, many large public housing units were built.  The roads were horrible. 

Everywhere we went it was constant bumps. We did get a tour of a really cool winery.  60+ miles of underground tunnels with 34 of them used to store wine.  We drove through it and saw huge barrels where the wine sits before it is bottled, then rows and rows of shelves containing 2 million bottles of wine.  Very impressive. 

Moldova is a growing country with a mix of old and new.  This photograph is a good example.  A very old car next to a new Mercedes.

It was very interesting to hear about the Soviet times and how everyone was the same.  Same pay, no reason to excel or work hard to get ahead.  Now there is a lot of opportunity for people that thrive on change.  Things are worse for people that liked Communism.  It was described as things used to be grey, with everyone being equal.  Now there is hope, but there is also a wide gap between the haves and the have nots.
Training this week

0 hours swimming
2 hours biking
1.1 hour running

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I finally gave in and went to an Orthopedic surgeon Monday for my shoulder.  After 10 physical therapy sessions plus dozens of home and gym workouts, my shoulders still aren't right.  When I swam last, I stopped after 500 yards due to pain in my right shoulder.  I guess that is progress because I quit swimming in July due to pain in both shoulders.  So the ortho took an x-ray of my right shoulder, looked at it for 5 seconds and said my Acromion bone is longer than normal which leaves less room between my Humerus and shoulder than most people.  The Acromion is the bone on the top outside part of the shoulder.

He said it's just luck of the draw.  He also said there is an 85% chance Cortisone and physical therapy will fix it and a 15% chance I need surgery or to become a duathlete.  He then put a Cortisone shot in my shoulder.  I didn't watch, but he told his PA, "look at the sharp angle I have to use to get the needle under the bone".  The shot didn't hurt at all but my shoulder got sore as the day wore on.  In the morning, my shoulder felt loose, really loose, like all the inflammation was gone and nothing was holding things in place.  I seriously worried my shoulder was going to dislocate while drying off after my shower Tuesday morning.  As Tuesday wore on, the looseness subsided and my shoulder felt normal again.  I was going to try it out Wednesday night at the pool but ended up going out for a business dinner.  I had another business dinner Thursday and blew off a couple of runs.  Not a great training week.

85% chance of success is enough to motivate me to do more PT on my own.  I really don't want to make the surgery/duathlete decision.  Neither appeal to me, at all.  I'm an average athlete at three sports which probably puts me at below average at two.  When thinking about surgery, I can't help but think of the health care systems issues.  I really don't need to swim, so I really don't need surgery or PT.  I really want to swim, and with the help of insurance I will be able to at some point.  So do I deserve to be able to swim?  Can I argue that I "need" to be able to swim to keep me motivated to stay in shape?  Maybe I should just eat chips, drink beer and watch TV until they make a TV show about me :-)

I did start getting a bit down about this issue this week.  It's been going on for some time now and pretty soon I need to get back in the pool to get ready for spring.  I'm trying to reassure myself that this too shall pass.  After all, when I started training for my first half marathon, I develop IT Band problems on my right knee.  I wore a strap around my right leg just above the knee for several months and carried it in my pocket on long runs for many more months just in case.  I stretched my IT band every day for a long time and the issue eventually went away.  I also developed plantar fasciitis which gave me bad heel pain (this was self diagnosed pf).  I found a home treatment that involved standing on softballs.  I bought a couple at Walmart and would roll them around under my feet while on the computer and put pressure on the tight spots.  Standing on them at first was excruciating to the point of almost crying.  After a while I built up a tolerance to it and after a few months, no more heel pain. Oh, and lets not forget the first time I rode a rode bike.  I ended up seeing my doc, a urologist and having two ultrasounds of my undercarriage.  Maybe I should just eat chips and watch tv.  Getting my middle aged body in shape to do triathlons has been a real challenge.

So the plan is to stick with PT and Cortisone until there are no other options.  It's going to be a long swim in April if this doesn't work.  It is going to work.

Training this week was a little light due to a couple of business dinners and deciding to sleep in a couple days.

Swim - 1.4 hours
Bike - 2.8 hours

Next week training will be light too.  I'll be in Moldova.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This week

This week I had a head cold that moved to my chest as the week progressed.  Cheryl talked me out of swimming, which was a good call, and I hardly got any running in because I didn't want that overheated feeling when it's cold out.  I did manage to do three really good bike workouts though.  I decided to follow Jorge's winter cycling plan and this week was prep week one before the plan starts.  Two days were on the trainer and the third was outside Saturday.

Speaking of trainer.  I started a new home experiment.  How many days can I keep the trainer in the living room before Cheryl makes me take it down.  I don't think she reads my blog, so if you know her, shush :-).

Pic of my bike on the trainer in the living room with a sweaty t-shirt drying from the drops.

Anyway, last winter when I bought my bike, I never made it more than three days.  This week I hit four and she asked me to put it away because we are having people over for dinner Sunday.  That is progress since we had people over Friday night and she didn't ask me to put it away.  Friday night was a regular get together so she didn't mind.  I think over the winter I will be able to approach one month.  We'll see.

My most recent home experiment was in the spring.  I called it my Balega sock experiment.  A tri mentor introduced me to Balega socks so I tried a pair.  They felt great and I decided that would be my running and biking sock.  This was in the spring when my volume of both running and biking was decent.  The experiment was to determine how many pair of running/cycling socks I needed so I always had a clean pair given that I didn't do the laundry.  So I bought six pair of socks then bought another three pack whenever I didn't have a clean pair ready. I only have 12 pair!  Not bad considering I was doing many two a days at the time and generally 5-8 run and bike workouts per week.  If you are looking for a good running/biking sock, try a pair.

Monday I see an orthopedic doc for my shoulders.  11 physical therapy sessions helped (left shoulder way better), but I still have problems.  I'm swimming 1.2 miles April 17th 2011 in New Orleans, hopefully pain free and with both arms.

Nutrition wise I tried a banana flavored Hammer gel Saturday on my long ride.  It was good, but I can't see eating a bunch of them.  I also ate a Cliff bar (walnut and raisin I think).  It sat better than last week.

So with my first HIM less than 6 months away, it is time to log every week.
Swim: 0 hours
Bike: 3.77 hours
Run: 1.87 hours

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Before I get started, I want send a shout out to my friend Dave.  He was diagnosed with cancer a couple weeks ago and is about to start treatment.  He is blogging his journey here .  Hang in there Dave.

Fueling for a half distance triathlon is no easy task.  I'm going to burn somewhere around 4500 calories propelling my body for 70.3 miles.  According to data on this website I'll burn about 600 on the swim, about 2500 on the bike, and about 1400 on the run.  I've seen the 4500 number thrown around on some websites as well.  The human body can store about 1500-2000 calories, so I'll be about 2500 short by the end of the race if I didn't take in any nourishment.  Actually, I would bonk hard if I took in nothing and more than likely would not finish.  Figuring out what works for an individual is a bit of trial and error so I thought I would take the opportunity during my long ride yesterday to try some products.

I started with the cliff bar (240 calories).  Good flavor and easy to eat but a bit chewy and heavy.  I may practice with them some more.  Then I went for the Sport Beans (100 calories).  This was my second trial with them.  They are like eating super sweet jelly beans.  I love candy so the taste was great.  They are hard to get out of the package at speed, so I think they are out.  Lastly I ate the Gu Chomps (180 calories).  They are like eating Dots candy (which I love) but they don't stick to your teeth as badly.  They are easy to get out of the package and not to heavy.  I think they will be making the trip to New Orleans, but Chomps alone won't be enough.  On my next long ride I plan to try some Perpetuem. 

On my long ride yesterday I took about 20 pictures and tweeted them as I rode.  I didn't crash or drop my phone :-).  It was a fun way to keep me from biking too fast.

Back to calories for a minute. I heard about horseshoe open faced sandwiches when I moved to Southern Illinois but had never had one. A while back Josh and I watched a man vs. food episode where he went to Springfield IL and ate a horseshoe sandwich. Josh and I thought that looked good and decided we needed to have that for dinner. A horseshoe is a piece of toast (or two) with a hamburger (or two) on top of it covered in french fries then covered with cheese sauce. I didn't add up the calories, but I bet it is north of 2000.

I was only able to finish 3/4's of it.  Here is Sara's step by step.

texas toast

add the burger

add the fries

and the cheese


They were delicious.  The only thing missing was bacon and chili :-)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Training plan

Well I pulled the trigger and signed up for New Orleans 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) on April 17th, 2011. Now it's time to choose or create a training plan. It's also time to create my training schedule. Training plans are pretty similar in some ways since the goal is to swim, bike, and run, duh! A bigger decision is how many days of each workout to do and how many two a days to do. Some plans are balanced 2x per week, others balanced 3x per week, then others add an extra day of running or cycling.

I saw some decent improvements when I upped my running to 5x per week, so ideally I would like to keep that frequency going. Most plans don't have that high of run frequency nor the kind of volume half marathon plans have. I'm guessing it it because running is harder on your body and takes more recovery than biking or swimming. It's likely I will skip at least one of these runs per week. We'll see how it goes.

Many people say it's all about the bike because it dictates how fresh you will be for the run. The bike leg of a triathlon takes about half of the total race time, so it does make sense to make the training time about half. That makes for some long rides on the trainer this winter and poses a real dilemma as to when to fit them in. The long 3+ hours rides can be done on the weekend but there are plenty of 2+ hour rides to get done during the week. So if I want to run outside at night, I would have to be on the trainer at 4 in the morning. That seems insane to me. I can't even imagine training for a full distance tri. My plan is to ride 3x per week, with an occasional 4th easy one.

I'm not a very fast swimmer and with my shoulders still not 100%, that's not going to change much for this race. In the pool I can swim 2000 yards in just over 40 minutes which is about 2 minutes per hundred. slow, but I'll take it. I checked my swim time in the 5 triathlons I did this year and was disappointed that my swim time was more like 2:30 for all five of them.  They were in open water. Oh well. I am looking for a swim coach and not having much luck. I contacted my local Y and they don't know any. I think it is a form issue and the aquatics director offered to watch me swim and give pointers. I guess that is better than nothing. I haven't been swimming since I hurt my shoulders swimming in July. I've been doing physical therapy ,but I can tell they still aren't 100%. My plan is to swim 2x per week with an optional third.

So here is what I'm thinking.
Monday - off
Tuesday - AM medium run
Tuesday - PM bike
Wednesday - AM short run
Wednesday - PM swim
Thursday - AM medium run
Thursday - PM bike
Friday - AM short run (optional)
Friday - PM swim
Saturday - long ride
Sunday - long run

Of course life will get in the way, but you have to live or this becomes too much of a chore.  I have sound practice for church tomorrow night so biking is unlikely.  I also have plenty of other activities that will cut in to training.  I'm not going to worry about it too much, I'll just try to minimize missing the long work outs.

Here are a couple of the plans I'm looking at.
Assuming I do a 20 week plan, I have about 4 weeks to choose/modify/create my plan and build up to the starting volume.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lewis and Clark Half Marathon

Today was my third half marathon. This was the 9th and final time for this run. Next year it will be a "Rock and Roll" half/full marathon. I read "more expensive" run.

I ended up driving my friend Tom (who needs a blog) and his friend Kate . This was her first half marathon and she did it in under two hours. Way to go Kate! Small world, Kate is the sister-in-law of a woman I work with that is also getting in to running.

Tom is on the left. He took off at the start and I never saw him again. He beat me by six minutes! Way to go Tom!

I trained pretty well for this run and was hoping to beat my last HM race (1:58:21). It seems like I should be able to run faster than that, but that's a different story. This course is pretty flat and the weather was cool. Actually a little on the cold side for me. It was lower forties with a pretty stiff 10+ mph breeze. I almost wore running pants but posted a question on BT and was set straight. Dress 20 degrees warmer than the outside temp. So, I wore shorts, a long sleeve compression shirt, a short sleeve tech shirt, a throw away sweatshirt and throw away gloves along with my Pearl Izumi ear guards thingies. It was great hanging out with people I knew before the race. Tom and Kate met up with some friends they met through the daily mile website for tracking your training. I log on BT but I've heard good things about daily mile. I may check it out.

Back to the race. I had no idea how I was going to pace myself for this race. I just started running and logging my miles using my stop watch (I don't have a Garmin). I heard a couple people with Garmin's calling out paces and I was going a little fast, but that was expected at a race. After three or four miles I found a small group running consistent 8:45 miles. Perfect to hit my goal time of 1:55. So the run was uneventful for the most part. I didn't run with music and I ran alone. The crowd support and volunteers were great. Lots of signs, plenty of water stops, nice course. I high fived some little kids along the way. I felt like a rock star :-).

I ditched the ear warmers about mile two, gloves at mile two and a half, and the sweatshirt at mile three. Running into the wind was a bit cold, but I guess better cold than hot. About mile five I had some left foot pain, but it went away. Every twinge you feel running is a bit concerning since you never know if it will get worse or subside. About mile seven I felt my glutes getting tired, I really need to strengthen them. I was still holding 8:45 - 8:50 miles and feeling pretty good. At mile ten I tell myself, just a five k from here. Everything is holding together, heart rate is going up a bit, but that is to be expected. This is the first race I watched it and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be :-). With two miles to go I started feeling serious fatigue in my glutes, but with two miles to go, I just tried to keep my pace up. A mile to go and my pace group started pulling away. I couldn't keep up. They were holding a casual conversation the whole way, so they ran it much easier than I did (and beat me handily). One mile to go, everything held together. Tired legs, but my strongest finish yet!

So here are my splits and heart rate
8:07 - 164
8:59 - 173
8:52 - 173
8:48 - 173
8:43 - 173
8:46 - 174
8:51 - 174
8:48 - 175
8:48 - 176
8:55 - 177
8:53 - 178
8:48 - 182
8:57 - 182

Total time: 1:55:11