Friday, August 27, 2010

My Least Favorite Workout

I know you all have one.

You know what I am talking about ... the workout that shows up on your training plan and you groan when you read it. Then, when the actual workout rolls around you have to give yourself a pep talk before you start the workout.

For me, that workout is pace work in the pool.

Confession time.

I HATE swimming fast.

There, I said it ... I feel better.

I was not a "swimmer" growing up and while I have come a l-o-n-g way in the pool, I still prefer running fast to swimming fast, mostly because when running I have an endless supply of oxygen.

Well into my first week of the taper, my hours are decreasing but the intensity of my shorter workouts has ramped up and I found myself swimming hard and fast this week which also means I was often gasping for breath and fighting the urge to breather while streamlining off the wall.

What do I like about swimming?

I love what swimming does for my arms and back and I really do enjoy a good swim. I love feeling fast - at least for the first set of the first 50 yards!

I have to a admit that swimming "fast" (for me at least) has made me, surprise, suprise, a faster swimmer.

So, what's your least favorite workout and what benefit do you get from it, despite loathing (is that too strong a word?) the workout itself?

Just over 2 weeks to Cedar Point!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Toeing the Line

I have said it before and I will say it again, training for an Ironman is harder than the race itself. Now, I know I have a whopping 1 Ironman under my belt with my second, Rev3 Cedar Point, just 3 weeks away, but I am a big believer that anyone can complete an iron distance race with the proper training. That’s the hard part. The proper training.

If you spend any time on the triathlon forums like Beginner Triathlete, you will see the following question posed:

“I just completed my first Sprint Tri and now I want to sign up for an Ironman, is it too soon?”

These threads get heated between triathletes that have an “earn your stripes” mentality that don’t understand the need to rush to race long versus the triathletes who are dream chasers. I tend to side more with the dream chasers, but that was my path.

My advice and caution to anyone considering racing long is simple – to race long, you have to train long. You have to toe the line.

Even to “just finish” the race, the training for an iron distance race requires a time commitment in the form of training. There are exceptions to every rule, like the uber athletes that are natural swimmers, bikers and/or runners and who can neglect one discipline or another to save time in training and who only want to “finish” the race. However, for us mere mortals, training is waking up early 5+ days a week, hours on end in our bike seats and running holes in our new running shoes. It is toeing the line, even when you don’t feel like it / would rather sleep in / [enter excuse here].

So, what is my answer to the above question?

Chase your dreams, whatever they are, but make a commitment to yourself to toe the line so that you will be successful.

I dreamed of one day doing an Ironman. If you had asked me 4 years ago what I would do if I won the lottery, I would have replied that I would quit my job, move somewhere exotic, hire a full time trainer and train for an Ironman (weird, I know). I just didn’t think it could be done otherwise.

Fast forward to 2008. I put my toe in the water (literally), did some research, picked a Sprint tri and started training. I had to learn to swim properly and I had to buy a bike, but by November of 2008, I had completed Sprint, Olympic and Half Iron distance races, all while working full time, raising two young boys and staying married. It was in toeing the line in training for the HIM that I realized I could chase my dream and I signed up for IMFL 2009, my 30th birthday present to myself.

What I have discovered along the way is that for me, triathlon is a healthy lifestyle and an outlet. It is also a balancing act, one that I am not doing as well with right now. Thankfully, my family is amazing and supportive – two ingredients that are essential if you pursue this journey and are married and/or have children.

Ironman boils down to a simple life lesson that I hope my children are paying attention to – or one that they will see when they are old enough to understand – you can achieve anything you set your mind to …

… if you toe the line.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Spinergy Stealth PBO Wheelset Product Review

Ask and ye shall receive. Bid Daddy Diesel over at Tri Diesel asked for me to review my hot new wheels, so check it out.

When I was bike shopping, I made the choice to go with the Felt B16 with Shimano 105 components instead of the Felt B12 with Dura Ace components and put the money I saved on the bike purchase towards a set of "race" and training wheels.

I put race in quotes because I am not sure if hard core cyclists consider these race wheels, but I chose these wheels for the following reasons:

1. Limited selection of 650c wheels. Seriously limited. I was not prepared to spend the cash needed to get Zipps and most of the wheel manufacturers no longer make a 650c option. These were one of the few options I could afford. I wanted the wheels for my upcoming race so I didn't have time to stalk the used market.

2. Reviews. Overall, great reviews on Road Bike Review.

3. Price. While the website shows the retail price as $1200, you can get the wheels new in the original box on eBay for $700 shipped for the set.

4. Overall improvement. For the price, the wheels are lighter and more aero than my stock wheels.

My thoughts post purchase:

The wheels ride like a dream! The wheels create a very smooth, stiff ride and they accelerate quickly and hold speed well. I have no basis for comparison because I have never ridden Zipps, but I could tell an immediate difference to my stock wheels. They absorb road shock well, which makes a big difference on long rides. I have seen a .5 mph+ improvement in my mph average over long rides (80 - 110 mile rides) using these wheels.

I have not done any climbing in these wheels so I can't speak to their climbing or descending attributes.

There are lighter and faster race wheels out there, but not much, if anything else, new in this price range.

Overall rating: Very satisfied.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bike Flair and One Month & Counting ...

My wheels arrived 2 weeks ago and I have done my last several long rides with them - and I have seen a .5 mph+ improvement in my pace over the long haul!

I am still loving my bike and am beyond thrilled with how great I feel riding it. I was very worried about the transition but it has gotten better than I could have ever expected. I had my first ride in the rain last weekend and the Tux handled like a champ.

Every tuxedo needs some flair -- like swanky cuff links -- or in the case of my tuxedo, race wheels!

In other exciting news, Cedar Point is one month from today!

Flights and hotel are booked. Now I just need a bike box and a rental car and we should be all set. I am really looking forward to the roller coasters -- it will definitely be a fun way to spend the days leading up to the race.

Mentally, I am in a much different place than I was with one month to go leading up to IMFL. I was excited and nervous and anxious. My every thought focused on the race. Seriously, it was all I could talk about and I think everyone around me was ready to puke ... on me!

Today, I am excited and nervous and confident, but most of all just focused on executing the rest of my training. I don't talk about the training or the race unless asked and I don't think anyone is ready to puke on me - although I know my family is ready for the off season!

What's the difference? I just don't think there is anything like doing the distance the first time. I remember when I was training for IMFL and I ran into a guy at the pool and we got to talking about IMs. He had done several and asked me what I was training for. When I told him it was my first, he was giddy with excitement for me. I didn't get it at the time, but I do now.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited and nervous, but I think I just have a better handle on my emotions than I did a year ago. I am sure the week of the race I will be a ball of nerves - and my goal will be to channel that energy into my performance.

Another difference? Coach Carole. It feels so good to have a pro guiding me through the process and her confidence in me makes me that much more confident in myself. I also know her high expectations of what I am capable of will push me that much harder on race day.

So, to all of you chasing iron (or any distance for that matter!) for the first time, enjoy the journey, because there is nothing quite like the first time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Humidity Humor

Living in the great state of Texas, I have a love / hate relationship with heat and humidity.

I HATE to be cold...

Seriously, I would rather be sweating than shivering. A good sweat session is good for the soul too (not so good for my pores, but alas, life is not perfect). I enjoy finishing a workout and seeing my efforts in sweat, but even I have my limitations.

For instance, when I go for a long run (or any run longer than 30 minutes, really) and I am unsure whether it may be raining because drops of moisture keep pelting me, only to realize that it is not rain but actually my own sweat (true story), well, that is just funny.

My hope is that all of this Texas heat and humidity training in the heart of a Southern summer will give me a performance edge at Cedar Point. Executing my run plan in sub-100 degree temps will hopefully feel slightly easier than it does when the heat index is, oh, 105 degrees and I am drowning in my own sweat. No wonder I killed two iPods in less than a month (side note: the H2o Audio case works like a charm!).

Just a couple of more big weekends until the taper!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thoughts on Recovery and July in Numbers

With Rev3 Cedar Point around the corner, I can't help but make comparisons between how I feel right now with just over 5 weeks (eek!) until race day and how I felt leading up to Ironman Florida last Fall.

Overall, I feel strong and I am happy with my training and progress. My volume is down slightly as compared to IMFL training, but my intensity is slightly up. I have to remind myself that it is quality and not quantity alone that matters. I am also doing something I did not do enough of leading up to IMFL - recovery! Coach Carole has been having me do some bigger weekends recently, which means my weeks have been lighter, with a focus on 1) recovery, 2) form and 3) intensity. I think that having adequate recovery makes my workouts later in the week better (big surprise there!) and overall, I am not quite as tired all of the time like I was training for IMFL.

I am also slightly less neurotic as I approach IM #2. I actually had to look up how many weeks are left until race day. I could have told you how many weeks, days and hours were remaining until IMFL at any given moment. It is nice to be in a calmer place now.

July in Numbers
Swim: 23,150 yards in 8:55
Bike: 608.28 miles in 34:57
Run: 111.45 miles in 17:02
Other: 0:15
Total Time: 61:09

Goal Tracking

I forgot to report my progress on my goals last month - likely because at this point, I am really only working towards one of them (Cedar Point). I referenced in my January 1st post on my 2010 goals that in previous years I have focused on just one goal per year and that approach has been successful for me. I think that in 2011 I will go back to that approach. Even though my 2010 goals are smaller and seemed more manageable, there are just too many goals on which to focus!

1. Bible/Church -- I was unsuccessful in my attempt to read the Bible cover to cover in 2010, but I have been dutiful in going to church on a regular basis. I have only missed two days this year (by comparison, I think I went to church 3 times in all of 2009!).

2. Photography -- I invested in a new lens earlier this year and it has been fun to play with, but I haven't worked out all of the kinks yet. I am looking forward to doing Andrew's 6 year old portraits soon as it will give me more time to play with the lens and work on photography.

3. Foam Roller / Stretching -- I do this as needed only now. I need to spend some more time on the foam roller right now.

4. Nutrition -- I have successfully been focusing on recovery nutrition and can see a difference in how I feel post workout and how quickly I bounce back.

5. Strength training -- I would love to do p90x, but I just can't train for endurance events and also focus on strength training. This is something I want to think about during the "off" season.

6. Swim Technique -- My threshold pace has gotten slightly faster, but I still feel like there is a lot more improvement available here. I really think I need a video analysis so I can see what I look like versus what I see others doing.

7. Fun Goals
- Sprint -- post IM, maybe?
- PR HIM -- Did it!
- Cedar Point -- 5 weeks to go!
- Ultra -- This Fall or defer to 2011

Have a a great training month!