Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - The Numbers

Another pretty solid year of training is in the books.  I log on beginner triathlete which makes it easy to compare year over year and generate cool graphs like the one below.  If you haven't been to the site, check it out and consider joining a mentor group, new ones are open now.  They are a great way to get training and nutrition questions answered as well as make new friends with similar interests.

Anyway, I rode bike bike on the trainer 14.38 miles this morning to hit a nice round 2500 miles for the year.

My totals were:

2011 totals
Bike:166h 59m 45s  - 2500 Mi
Run:121h 40m 34s  - 707.17 Mi
Swim:35h 15m 42s  - 76830.84 Yd

I biked about 750 mile more in 2011 than in 

I like the way Jeff looked at his averages so I'm going to copy his idea.  My training averages were:

208.3 biking miles per month
58.9 running miles per month
6402.5 swimming yards per month (that's embarrassing!)
27.0 training hours per month

Those numbers don't look too bad (except for the swimming).  Let's break them down further.

48.1 biking miles per week
13.6 running miles per week (no wonder I didn't get any faster this year)
1477.5 swimming yards per week
6.25 training hours per week

So there you have it.  My third year of endurance sports in the books.

Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Report Card

I had a draft blog post about goals for 2011 and never finished it.  I didn't have many and I didn't review them at all.

Swim - be able to swim without too much shoulder pain  ------------> not doing too good or bad here - B
Bike - Average 23 mph for a sprint and 22 mph for an oly bike leg --> D. no sprint, 20.4 mph at an Oly
Run - average 8 minute miles at a sprint, 8:30 at an Oly --------------> C. no sprint, 9:01 at an Oly

NOLA 70.3 Goal
swim - 2:30/100 = 53 minutes  ----> cancelled N/A
bike -16 mph (oly pace - 20%) ---> 19.4 mph  - A++++
run - 2:15 (hm pr + 20%) ---------> 2:15:06 at NOLA - A

NOLA Stretch Goal
swim - 2:20/100 --> cancelled N/A - I did 2:15 for, my private HIM but it was a pool swim
bike - 18 mph ----> 19.4 mph
run 2 hours -------> might have been possible if I biked slower and took in more nutrition

So my A race goals were met, while my general "get faster" goals were not.  This reminds me of the quote "A goal without a plan is just a dream".  I went looking for the author of that quote and didn't find it.  It may be a variation of this quote.

I had a solid plan for NOLA and exceeded my goal despite my nutrition failure.  I'll follow the same plan for my HIM this summer.  I'm thinking about changing from Racine, WI 70.3 to the Door County, WI HIM one week later.  I think the course will be much prettier.

On an unrelated note, we had our first snow today.  Now Spring can arrive :-).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Not This Year :-(

I've decided against a full Ironman this year.  It was actually a pretty easy decision once I went through the checklist I created.

Step 1 - Catch the bug.  Check!
Step 2 - Spousal approval.  Check!
The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Honey, I'm thinking about doing something crazy like Ironman Canada with Len"
DW: "Do whatever you want, I'm not going"

She is actually much more supportive than that.  The race is the beginning of preschool for her, so she can't really leave for a week.

Step 3 - Take the time off work. Check!
This one was actually a little tough.  I already have 20 days of vacation planned next year (I get 19).  I was going to borrow a week.

Step 4 - Come up with the cash.
Well, I don't really have money laying around, but could find a way to "fit" this in.

Step 5 - Equipment - Maybe.
I could do a full on my road bike, but I would really like to get a tri bike before I do a full. I still ride in mtb shoes too :-).

Step 6 - Physical Inventory - Fail :-(
My swim volume is about half what it needs to be (maybe more).  I never swam for anything other than fun until three years ago (and I was a slow learner!).  Two years ago, I did about 60k yards before my shoulders stopped cooperating.  This year I did the minimum necessary (70k) to complete a HIM so as not to re-injure them. So this year, my goal is to bump my swim volume by 2X and see how my shoulders feel.  Besides the shoulders, I had nutrition failures on the two HIM's I did this year.  I definitely need to learn how to take in more calories before I attempt a full.

Speaking of funny Ironman thinking, check out the six phases of bragging about becoming an Ironman that I will have to postpone.  Funny Stuff.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tagged - Random Things About Me

I got tagged by TriMoEng over at Climbing Those Hills so I'll try to post a few random things that most of my blogger friends don't know.

1.  I love to grocery shop.  If you follow my blog or follow me on twitter, you know I love to cook but I also love shopping for all the food.  I was a produce clerk in high school and loved it.  Ever since then I've always loved the smell of grocery stores, specially in the morning and I love picking out produce.

2. I love to drive and I drive fast.  When traffic is light enough that it's safe to drive fast, I take advantage of the situation and get the adrenaline flowing. It's not uncommon for me to make a several hundred mile trip and never be passed.  I usually don't let anyone else drive on trips because I like driving and get bored just sitting in the car.

3.  I have trouble throwing things away.  Serious trouble.  For example, I have jars of all the old screws, bolts, nuts, eye hooks, etc from all the projects I've ever done.  These items aren't sorted or anything so they aren't real useful. I usually end up going to the store and buying new ones.

Seriously, why can't I throw this crap out?

The rest of my garage looks just as bad.
4.  I'm an electrical engineer and computer geek.  I used to be a big gamer too, but other hobbies have replaced the gaming over the last 5+ years.

5.  I don't talk about work online.  That is all.......

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jingle Bell Hell "Race" Report

I decided to do XLMIC's Jingle Bell Hell run today and take a few pics.  Here are the rules:

  • Must be at least 5K in total maximum.
9.6 miles in the bank - CHECK!

  • Must be done on a challenging course (and if you hate treadmills, that means it could be on a treadmill) because the idea is "Hell" ... that is the important part. 
Hell is that I "had" to run 1.5+ miles on the road to reach beautiful single track because I was "too lazy" to drive there.  How ironic is that?

  • Must be done the weekend of Dec. 17-18, 2011... any time of day or night.
Ran on the 18th - CHECK!

  • You must laugh at least once... can be an evil laugh, a laugh of futility, any kind of laugh but laughter is a MUST.
I laughed several times while thinking of childish pictures I wished I had the guts to take and post 

Anyway, here are some unflattering pics from my run.

The starting line

Mile 1 - ditched my favorite running hat

Mile 2 - put on a Santa hat once I hit the singletrack

I totally stole the Santa hat idea from TriMoEng.

Mile 3

I'm about 10 pounds overweight and it looks like a pound of it is in my neck :-(.

Mile 4

Mile 5 - ditched the Santa hat

Aid station at Mile 6

Mile 7ish

Mile 8 or so

Mile 9.6 - done!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

2012 race schedule

I started this post November 9th and have been so indecisive, I'm just now posting it (and I'm still not done......). I almost titled this post, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" since I can't find an early season 70.3 that really works for me. I also feel like a slug when I re-read my off season plans. Without a big race scheduled, I just don't have the motivation to get on the trainer (that is changing today!).  I have been running 18-20 miles a week, shy of my 30 mpw goal, but way better than being a couch potato.

I'm struggling to get my 2012 race season scheduled.  I would like to do a 70.3 or two and would really like to do a full Ironman.  My cousin Len is doing IMC in late August.  He has been a big inspiration for me getting in to triathlons, so it would be really cool to do IMC with him.  The hitch is it's 2000+ miles away and sold out except for foundation slots, read $1200 entry fee (I need a sponsor :-)).  There is another full Ironman that same day in Louisville Kentucky which is about 6 hours from my house.  It isn't sold out, but the downside is the heat and humidity (and it's not as beautiful as BC).  It's been in the mid-nineties many times making the marathon a death march.  Yet another choice is Rev3 in Sandusky, OH which is about 9 hours from my house.  I haven't given up on doing an IM this year yet.  I'll decide by January 1st.

So here is my 2012 Race schedule so far (updated 1/2/2012)

January 28th - virtual 5k - check out Adam's blog.  He's pretty funny.
April 15th - half marathon - St. Louis, MO - maybe ($80 seems steep for a hm)
May 5th - 52 mile ride - Mount Pleasant, MO - maybe ($85)
May 13th - Sprint - Effingham, IL - registered ($70)
May 20th - Oly - Carlyle, IL - registered ($65)
June 24th - Sprint - Cohassett, MA - registered ($90)
July 22th - Door County, WI HIM - registered ($190)
August - ??
September - ??
October 7th - Private HIM?
October 21st RnR half Marathon St. Louis - registered (half off 11/11/11 $55)

Time to start training......

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Product Review - Zippfizz

The folks at Zippfizz asked if I would do a product review of their energy drink.  I've been getting tired in the afternoon after lunch wears off so after checking out their website and seeing it contained only 10 calories, 0 grams of sugar and a bunch of vitamins, I thought why not give it a try.  I received the water bottle plus sampler pack last week while out of town and decided to try it this week.  The product comes in a powder you mix with a 16 ounce bottle of water.  

Sampler pack and water bottle

Six flavors to try

Today after lunch I tried the citrus flavor and the taste was pretty good.  I didn't notice any huge changes (no racing heart beat or jitters), but I did notice I didn't run out of energy at all.  I also felt slightly more alert.  After 4-6 hours, I still felt just fine, no crash at all.

You can check them out on twitter, facebook, their blog, and their website. It's also available at Walmart and Target (according to presentation they sent me).  If you are looking for a last minute unique gift idea for an athlete, check them out.

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Zippfizz corporation.  I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

(Disclaimer #2, I borrowed the above disclaimer from Kovas's blog.  He does a ton of product reviews)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Secret Santa

I signed up for a secret Santa gift exchange this year over at Jill's blog.  Cheryl thinks it's strange that I have a secret Santa over the internet.  Oh well, I don't get Pinterest either :-).  Anyway, I received my gift today, the travel size version of "The Stick", thanks!
I was seriously considering ordering one of these for when I travel to help with a recurring knot in one of my calves, so it's perfect!   I didn't get a note revealing the senders identity, so whoever sent it, thanks!

I'm still working on getting my package together to mail out to the lucky person that drew my name :-).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

South America part 3

As I write this post, I'm on my way back to Brazil.  Door to door, it will take about 22 hours including a 5 hour layover in Miami.  It's a long day/night to say the least.

Continuing on from my last post of South America, I walked into town after visiting the Hard Rock Cafe in Belo Horizonte. 
The view looking back toward the Hard Rock
cool looking house on the walk

 I came across a small Pizzeria with outdoor seating and decided to stop.  It was a nice little restaurant and no one knew English so I pointed to something on the menu.

While waiting for the pizza I noticed the delivery vehicle. This is a dangerous job with the way people drive here.

Once my pizza arrived I was surprised to see corn on it, but it was delicious!

Walking back to the hotel I came across a little grocery store.

They had a small ensemble playing music that was nice.  They also had beer tasting. The beautiful young women handing out the beer didn't know any English and I don't know Portuguese, but I managed to get a couple samples.

 I ended up just buying some water.  I didn't have any small bills when I checked out and the cashier didn't have much change.  I'm pretty sure she called me stupid in Portuguese :-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

South America part 2

I stayed over a weekend on one trip and decided to walk up a hill near the hotel to the Hard Rock Cafe in Belo Horizonte.  The road up was desolate (so I worried about being kidnapped :-)).  I wasn't and the view at the top was incredible.  Here are some pics from my walk.

View from the hotel.
The tower in the upper left corner is the Hard Rock Cafe, I walked up the road on the right.

Right outside the hotel
Left turn outside the hotel. It's safe, right?

Walking up the dirt path

It was a steep hill

Belo Horizonte is a big city

I think that two tone building about in the middle is my hotel

After visiting the Hard Rock cafe I made a loop through part of town.  I'll show those pictures in the next installment.

South America part 1

I'll be heading back to Brazil in the very near future.  One reason I like to blog is so I can re-read old posts.  I went to look for posts on going to Brazil and didn't find any.  My previous trips were all before I started blogging I guess.  I'll try to capture some of my thoughts and pictures here so I don't lose them.

I had a couple trips with other people and didn't really have to pay much attention to anything.  I also traveled by myself a couple times and that's when things were interesting (and a little scary, at least in my mind).  Flying through Sao Paulo, I had to switch planes on very little sleep, and had to figure out which bus to board (to get driven to the connecting flight) when all the announcements were in Portuguese and English with an accent so strong I couldn't understand it.  I resorted to approaching the announcer, saying "no Portuguese", showing him my ticket and having him shake his head no.  This repeated for many flight announcements until the announcer finally looked my way and gave me a nod.

Once I landed, I had a driver waiting for me.  He didn't know English and I don't know Portuguese.  He knew where to take me and I was so tired, I couldn't stay awake.  After a quick nap on then ride, then a quick shower at the hotel, the driver took me to the company I was working with.  Along the way, the driver drove like a bat out of hell (just like everyone else), weaving in and out of traffic, hoping off the highway and cutting through low income neighborhoods with bars on the windows, graffiti on the walls, and laundry hanging on the porch/roof.  Then we would hop back on the next highway only to hop back off for another "short cut".  On each short cut, I felt like I was being kidnapped.  Probably because of watching too many movies (but also because my company gave me a phone number to call if something happened).  Anyway, I made it to work, then had the same thing happen on the way back to the hotel.  After three days of being "kidnapped", I finally got use to it.

View on the highway

same ramp

short cut

another short cut

yep, I have no idea where I am

At first I was too nervous to go walk around at night.  After a couple days I thought it was crazy to stay in since I was staying in the safe part of the city so I went for a walk.  I felt like everyone was watching me until someone stopped me to ask for directions in Portuguese.  That is when I knew I was ok and ventured out a lot more and started running.

More when I find more pictures.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  Visiting family, eating well, watching football. and relaxing.  As someone pointed out on a blog I read (can't remember which one), there are no gifts involved which takes away some of the busyness and stress of Christmas leaving more time to relax.

The last few years we have had Thanksgiving at our house which has been nice not to have to travel.  This year we traveled to Rockford since one of my brother-in-laws and his family flew in from Arizona.  We hadn't seen them for quite a while so this was nice.  When we come to Rockford and stay at my parents house, I get to sleep in my old room which is always nice.  I grew up in a small neighborhood with only 13 houses and every time I come home, I think of my childhood friends and what house they use to live in.  Back then, we didn't have Xbox, Ipods, cell phones or even cable TV, so we played outside, a lot.  We would often be out all day and come home when we got hungry.  The neighborhood has changed over the years.  The corn field we used to play in across the street, and pick corn for the farmer in the summer, is now full of duplexes and small businesses.  All my friend's parents have moved away except for three. The road leading to the neighbor hood is now four lanes instead of a two lane country road.  My parents street even has a stop light!  It's still nice to be home.

I'm in charge of grilling the bird.  My dad taught me a super easy way to do it that turns out great every time.  All you need is a Weber grill, side racks to hold the charcoal, a turkey rack, 12-14 pound turkey, olive oil and Lowrey season salt.  Rub the oil on the bird then coat liberally with season salt.  After the coals are hot, put the bird on the grill uncovered.  Add 5-10 pieces of charcoal every 45 minutes or so and loosely cover the turkey with aluminum foil when adding the first set of coals. Then cook until the thickest part is 165F (about 15-20 minutes per pound).  Perfect every time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Running Music

I desperately need to refresh some of my running music.  It has become worse than stale, does that make it mold?  Anyway, what are your favorite couple (or more) songs that when they come on you smile (or at least stop frowning) and often replay them?

I'll give you a few of mine (in no particular order).

Florence and the Machines - Dog Days Are Over. Not sure why I like this song, but it is catchy.

Nickelback - Feelin' Way Too Damn Good.  I like when this song comes on during a good run that feels like something has got to go wrong because 10 miles shouldn't feel this good.  I know that's not the song is about, but when I'm out running 10 miles, I'm not doing that :-).

Disturbed - Indestructible. This is the only song I have from them, but when I'm struggling on a long run, this hits the spot.

Smashing Pumpkins - Bullet With Butterfly Wings.  The world is a vamire is enough said.

Pearl Jam - World Wide Suicide. I love Pearl Jam, this one has a good beat for running, but many others do too.

I love music, so any non-running suggestions are welcome too.  Oh, and if I did one of those tell me about yourself posts, I like music would be one of the items :-).

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


While out riding today, I started thinking about time.  It also seems like I could get so much more done if there were say, 26 hours in a day.  I was thinking I could get the sleep I should, get in all the workouts I want, and do better about getting chores done around the house.  I chuckled to myself at that last one then made the list of what I would probably really do with two extra hours a day.  I would probably stay up later reading blogs, add napping into my daily routine, and up my chore procrastination to a new level :-).  Anyway, what would you do with two extra hours of time per day?

I managed to get three runs in before work this week!  I was up and ready to go on a run Friday morning too, but decided to give myself the day off after getting six workouts in over the previous three days.  Don't add me to your fantasy early morning running team just yet, the weather is getting nasty :-).  I also got back to the pool for the first time in 6+ weeks and my shoulders hurt :-(.  I'm going to have to nurse them along if I'm going to stay in triathlons.  It's either that our surgery according to my ortho (made me think about this old post).

Here are a few pics from my ride.

light, chilly rain but I was outside instead of on the trainer.

Huge old fallen tree that I couldn't get a good picture of.

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I was riding out on some perfect single track Saturday and came across this.
Big tree own in the middle of a bunch of brush
As I approached, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Then I thought about it and came up with five alternatives for dealing with obstacles.  You can hit them head on and go right through, go under them, go over them, go around them, or give up and run away.  I walked up to the tree and it was obvious I wasn't going through it, under it or even around it.  I sized it up for a minute, lifted my bike over it, climbed over and continued on a nearly perfect ride.

Here are a few more pics from the ride.  The woods were totally different than last week.  With the canopy down, the undergrowth really greened up in their last hooray before winter.

Love the contrast in this pic
Regarding my obstacle to becoming a morning person, I didn't do so well this week.  After going four for four getting up early the first week, I only went one for four this week.  I made it up Tuesday without issue.  Wednesday was dark, cold and rainy, and I was a quitter.  Thursday I had the volume turned off on my phone alarm and slept right through it.  Friday I was disgusted with myself for missing Wednesday and Thursday and didn't even try to get up (lame I know).

I think I need a goal to help with early morning motivation, so I'm looking for an early season 70.3 to sign up for.  Right now I'm thinking Rev3 Knoxville or Panama City Beach.  Knoxville scares me with four cat 5 climbs and swimming against the current in the river.