Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December 28 - January 2

Monday: I took the day off and watched some football.  I spent 4 hours in the airport on Sunday, and then another several hours on the plane, and by the time I disembarked in Houston, one of my knees was hurting quite a bit.  I guess running a 22 miler and taking a long flight in the same day is probably not ideal.

Tuesday:  It was cold and dark and wet and threatening to rain when I left work, so I decided to eschew my typical track workout for a workout on the treadmill at the gym.  My hope, as well, was that this workout would be easier on my knees than running the rather narrow curves of my local track.  I think I must have looked like a lunatic in my sodden cotton undershirt (since I hadn't planned to run indoors, I didn't pack a shirt to run in) furiously pounding the treadmill at a 5:52 pace with a look of agony (I'm told that I look pretty intense when I'm running hard, but I tend not to think about it at the time) on my face.  Note: a little bit of research before leaving work prompted me to put the treadmill on a 1% grade to compensate for the lack of wind resistance.
Plan: 1 mi easy, 2000m @ 6:45, 1mi 6:26, 1000m @ 6:12, 800 @ 5:58, 1 mi easy
Achieved:  (all that, plus probably some entertainment value for the folks on the stairmasters who didn't realize this was a race)

Christmas Week cont'd

Extended family came to celebrate Christmas a day early!  Spent the morning and early afternoon hanging with them, then worked on the rock wall with my dad until dark.  As it was getting dark, rain swept in, and I opted against trying to get my tempo run in.  I was glad to have worked on the wall during the dry hours of daylight, though, since the rain would preclude any further efforts on the wall.  To summarize- No run.
Ate a late Christmas lunch (yum), and headed out for my "tempo" run just as it was getting dark.  I ended up running half of the run in daylight; the other half in the dark in the country on shoulder-less roads.  My lunch was not sitting well (I had probably eaten too much to run so soon), so I was pretty uncomfortable through the first several miles.
Target: 2 mile WU, 8 miles at 6:45 pace, 2 mile CD
Achieved: 2 mile WU, 7.9 miles @ 7:17 pace, 1.6 mile CD
I was pretty disappointed in how fatigued and slow I felt, and in how poorly the run went.  It seems that all of my extra-curricular activities of the week have been catching up with me.

Saturday: off  (no rock-heaving, no basketball, no mountain climbing, no running).   I hooked up my brother's new music composition software to his keyboard, and set up a wireless network in my dad's house (since everyone uses laptops that are far better than the one computer in the house hooked up to the internet).

Sunday: long run
I had a wonderful, glorious 22 mile run.  I waited until the sun came up; temperature at start was 28 degF.  I had to be careful on a couple of sections early on not to slip on icy patches on the road.  It was a sunny, beautiful day, and I ran a nice, extremely hilly route through some quiet neighborhoods (as compared to my Friday run, where I was constantly leaping off the road to avoid being flattened).  I felt great.  I pushed the pace, even though it was a very hilly route, and was pretty happy with my effort, even though it ended up well short of marathon pace.  This was possibly my longest ever solo run, but it was such a beautiful day and I felt so good that I hardly even noticed.
Target: 22 miles @ 7:31-8:20
Achieved: 22 miles @ 7:46

My run Sunday was just what I needed; I'd been getting pretty discouraged about the poor quality of my workouts earlier in the week.  I hope the hilliness of my workouts this week will somewhat compensate for the lack of speedwork.  I definitely feel like I got a good workout of my hip flexors and glutes (which had been sore on my last "marathon pace" long-ish run), so maybe it was a well-needed change-up for my body.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Building stone walls

Christmas week

This is supposed to be my high-mileage; high intensity week, and so far my running is not going according to plan.  As soon as I got off the airplane on Sunday I went to work building a rock retaining wall in my dad's front yard.  Monday was more of the same, with a 7 mile run at < 8 min/mile pace.

Plan: 10 mile @ 7:30- 8:20 pace
Achieved: 7 mile @ 8:00

Plan: Speedwork!
Achieved: 8 mile hike in the mountains; no running at all.  New plan is to run speedwork on Wednesday morning

Plan: Speedwork!
Achieved: 3.5 hours of shopping, 3 hours of stonework in the yard, 2.5 hours of basketball (Dad, Leland and I dominated Dad's weekly pickup game), 5 mile run (miserably slow and tired) at 9:00 pace

So I've dropped speedwork from the plan.  Plan for Thursday is to do tempo workout per the original plan.  There's a 22 mile run scheduled for Saturday morning that I'm thinking of pushing to Sunday morning.  We'll see how that goes.

I'm a little stressed about dropping some key workouts on a key training week, when I need all of the fitness gains I can get.  But...  it's fun to be home, and being home means staying busy, which means not everything goes according to plan.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 19- Recovery week long run

Over the course of the day Friday, my back gradually felt better, and eventually I was able to take a deep breath without stabbing pain.  Saturday morning I woke up with a little twinge in my back and some mysterious cramps in my calves that may or may not have been related to some dancing that occurred at the triathlon club holiday party Friday night.  I've felt better for long runs, but it was a beautiful day (46 degrees and sunny), and once I started running I was happy to be out!

Goal: 1.5 mi WU, 13.1 mi @ 7:00, 1.5 mi CD
Actual: 2.0 mi WU, 13.5 mi @ 7:04, .25 mi CD

This was a pretty tough run.  I spent pretty much the whole run thinking I wasn't going to be able to hold pace for the entire run, but somehow I did.  By the end, my heart rate was through the roof, and my hip flexors and lower back were screaming.  Otherwise I felt pretty good.  I was pretty proud of myself.

Thoughts:  The fact that I'm extending the distance for which I can maintain this pace is pretty exciting!  The fact that I'll have to run twice that distance at that pace (or slightly slower) in a month is pretty daunting.  I'm torn between being excited and being anxious.  I know that I will eventually get myself in shape to run a 3:10 marathon, but I'm not sure that I'll be ready at the end of January.  The prospect of going for it and failing is a little scary, too, because it would be a heck of a crash and burn (and I can still remember pretty vividly some of the spectacular crashes and burns of the past).  No guts, no glory, though, right?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 13 - 19: Recovery Week!

Still terribly jet-lagged, I got up at 5am to play in a company golf tournament.  I had a couple of great shots (but many, many not-great shots).  It was fun.

Raining, ate Mexican food with Greg.

1 mi easy, 2000m @ 6:45, 1mi @ 6:26, 1000m @ 6:12, 800 @ 5:58, 1 mi easy (Total 6.08 mi, avg 7:30 pace)
Track workout as usual.  For some reason, today's workout felt really easy.  Maybe it's related to not running at all for the previous two days.  Or maybe I'm getting faster!!

Woke up with my back messed up, like it was after I wrecked my bike.  Not the spine- kind of a scapula/lat pinching/tightness that prevents me from turning or bending in certain directions, or from arching my back at all.  It may have been due to the golf (finally catching up to me- once every 2 years is not enough to stay in shape), or I may have slept wrong (before I went to bed I turned onto my permanently separated shoulder and felt a 'pop'- not painful, but something definitely moved).

It hurt pretty much all day, then I went for a 6 mile run with Agustina- apparently not a good idea.  I was pretty much immobilized with pain for the rest of the night.

Worked from home (bed) in the morning, then felt like I could walk and went into the office.  No run planned for tonight (maybe I'll squeeze in some time on the bike trainer if it doesn't hurt too badly).

It's a good thing this is a recovery week!  Needless to say, my inability to get a key workout in tonight is giving my confidence a bit of a hit in terms of feeling ready for the Houston Marathon.  I guess all I can do is get my back better and see how it goes from there.

December 6-12 cont'd

Friday: (Paris time)
6.5 miles @ 7:52
I ran from the hotel in Montparnasse down to my favorite park (across from where I used to live), Parc Montsouris.  I managed not to get flattened by traffic en route, and then ran some pretty serious hills once there. This park stayed open later, so I got to run there as much as I wanted (which wasn't that much, as can be seen by my mileage).

Long flight back, then:
20 miles @ 8:28
This run was cool because I had friends show up to run with me, despite the inconvenient start time (3:30 pm).  Randy and Cory ran with me for the first 10 (8:20 avg pace), and Randy and Agustina ran with me for the 2nd 10 (8:45 avg pace).  It was cool and wet, and I felt pretty good.

Weekly mileage total: 45.8- longest of the year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 6-12

This is going to be a tough week, since I fly to Paris tomorrow afternoon.  I have a couple "favorite" running spots in Paris where I typically run, but since I'm traveling with colleagues, I don't know how well I'll be able to get away to train.
Bike: 10 min WU, 20 min Time Trial, 10 min CD

Plan: 1.5 mi WU/CD, 6 mi @ 6:45
Actual 1.5mi WU/CD, 6 mi @ 6:49
Holy cow, what a tough run!  Probably not the best plan for the day after my TT on the bike, but I needed to get something in, and right before I get on the plane tomorrow didn't sound like a good idea. 
Here's a chart:

You can see by the fact that my heart rate is skyrocketing over the course of the run (184 bpm at the end) that this pace would not have been sustainable for much longer, but I'm pretty happy to have held it for as long as I did.

Wednesday (Paris time)
10.3 mile run.  Avg pace 8:04 (including lots of stops for pedestrians and cross traffic), with some pickups in rain and mud.  Three miles of the run were within the Jardin du Luxembourg, until they closed it (sundown before 5pm?).  Ran with a colleague who is training to run sub-3 at Boston, which helped inspire me to keep the pace up when there were few enough obstacles to do so.  Managed to not get flattened by traffic, to not slip and fall on some very slippery sidewalk surfaces, and to not run over any innocent school children, so consider it a success!   

Hopefully I can get in one more run before I fly back; plan is for 20 mile run in Houston on Saturday afternoon.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thanksgiving week

4.4 mi @ 8:41 (recovery run)

1 mi easy, 2000m @ 6:45, 1mi 6:26, 1000m @ 6:12, 800 @ 5:58, 1 mi easy (Total 6.47 mi, avg 7:29 pace)

5.7 mi @ 8:29 (recovery run)

Thursday (Thanksgiving!)-8k Turkey Trot in S.C.:
5.17 mi @ 6:30.  (target pace 6:26)
I was extremely pleased with this performance.  The course was very hilly, and this was the furthest I've run at this pace.  One more mile and I would've shattered my 10K PR...

18 miles @ ~8:05 pace
I didn't wear my Garmin, and so don't have any details on pacing.  Very hilly, very aggressive run on a beautiful S.C. day.  I was accompanied by various members of my family through the first 9 miles, so it was altogether a pretty great run.

New 2009 weekly distance record:  40.63 mi

Saturday, December 5, 2009

November 29 - December 5

8.03 mi @ 7:26

Tuesday- MONSOON

Wednesday- Tuesday's workout
1 mi easy, 2000m @ 6:45, 1mi 6:26, 1000m @ 6:12, 800 @ 5:58, 1 mi easy

Thursday- Christmas lights run in Sugar Land
5 mi @ 9:26

Friday- was going to run 1.5 mi WU/CD, 6.5 mi @ 6:45, but nixed it due to really nasty weather.  Probably still could have gotten it in indoors, but can't seem to muster the motivation to get on a treadmill.

Saturday Long Run
Goal: 2 mile easy, 8 mile @ 7:04, 2 mile easy
Achieved: 2 mile easy, 8.75 @ 7:07, 2.25 mile easy

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 15-21

1.5 mi @ 8:30
5x 1000m @ 6:12 (actual: 6:12, 6:10, 6:00, 6:02, 6:02)
1.5 mi @ 8:54
These were harder than I expected, but the weather was fantastic (60 degrees).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 8-14

3.11 mi @ 7:38, 90 spm

Tuesday: (got to the park late and had to change the plan)
4.07 mi @ 7:39, 90 spm

.75 mi @ 7:43
12x 400m @ 5:44 w/ 400m active recovery
1 mi @ 8:20

1 mi @ 8:05
4x 1 mi @ 6:26 (actual: 6:29, 6:29, 6:32, 6:29)
1 mi @ 8:30

15 mi @ 8:25, last mile at 7:14
Avg cadence: 92
(I was supposed to run the last mile at 6:45, but forgot.  Still, I had a pretty good run, particularly after a hard workout the day before)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 1-7

Highest weekly mileage total of the year: 30.5 miles!

2.7 miles @ 8:23

1.5 mile @ 8:20
10x 400m @ 5:44
1.5 mile @ 7:40

1.5 mile @ 8:30
3x 1mile @ 6:26 (actual: 6:30, 6:28, 6:29)
1.25 mile @ 8:20

13 mile @ 8:29
Avg Cadence: 92 strides per minute

Week 1 of training with a plan

I took two weeks completely off after the Chicago Marathon (during which my plantar fasciitis completely blew up at mile 22), and started back running this week.  This time I'm actually training with a plan.  (as my buddy TK's guardian angel on the Atlanta MARTA told him: "a man without a plan just ain't a man")

1 mile @ 8:20
8x 400m @ 5:44 w/ 400m active recovery
1 mile @ 8:20
(I missed the pace on two of the 400's by a couple of seconds)

1 mile @ 8:20
3x 1 mile @ 6:26 (actual: 6:27, 6:36, NONE)
1 mile @ 8:20
I punked out in the middle of my first mile and decided that a third mile wasn't possible.  Probably not the best time to evaluate, but I'll do better at sticking to the plan next time.

13 miles @ 8:43

BQ Bound

I resolved when I ran my first marathon (Houston, 2006) that I would qualify for Boston before I aged up and it got easier (qualifying time for M30-34 is 3:10, for M35-39 is 3:15). I've had lots of different goals and different races since 2006, but I now find myself 5 months away from turning 35 (and aging up), and still a pretty good ways away from being fast enough to qualify.

I know that this sounds desperate and completely out of character, but I've decided to follow a training plan. I don't have time to do the whole plan between now and the Houston Marathon '10, so I'm cutting out the first 7 weeks, and modifying it a bit to accommodate. We'll see how that goes. If I don't feel ready by Houston in January, my backup plan is to qualify at New Orleans in February '10.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I earned a spot on Team USA for the 2010 Long Course Triathlon World Championships in Immenstadt, Germany.  I'm pretty stoked.  Also, I'm pretty motivated to get my butt back in training.

Redman Half Ironman Mini-Report

The Redman 1/2 was a crazy race.  I haven't had a good 1/2 Ironman since my first one in 2005, so I agonized quite a bit going into the race over how to pace myself for the various events and over what kind of times I could expect.  Despite having spent a ridiculous amount of time analyzing my past results, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.  I did know that the lingering shoulder injury and the resulting time away from swimming weren't going to do any wonders for my swim time.   I decided to play the swim completely by ear, ride the bike more moderately than I did at Gulf Coast (where I wasn't planning to run at all), and then try to hold 8min/mile pace on the run (which my running leading into the race led me to believe was possible).

The day of the race, just after setting up my transition, the bottom fell out of the sky and we were hit with a veritable monsoon.  There was 6" of water in the transition area, stuff was floating around, and it was cold!  Some parts of the bike course were impassable due to flooding, so the race directors postponed the start to decide whether or not to cancel the race.  There was a full IM distance race being run concurrently with the HIM, and the HIM was the national championship, so the gravity of this decision was not lost on anyone.  Eventually they decided to start the race, with a mandatory dismount through one portion of the bike course.  At this point, I was pretty much numb with cold, which may have had an impact on my swim leg.

I had a great swim.  I don't understand how, or why, but I finished with a better swim time than at Gulf Coast, and was one of the first in my age group out of the water.  My shoulder didn't hurt.  All day.  Not at any point.  I am beyond mystified.

On to the bike.  I had a terrible bike leg.  I'm not sure why.  I don't know if I was subconsciously saving too much for the run, or what.  I did find an inch or so of water in my rear disc wheel after the race (that probably resulted from pushing my bike through the water hazard instead of carrying it over it), and that may have sapped a little energy, but overall I didn't feel strong at all.  And I got passed by lots of people.

I had a good transition, and then was off on the run.  The run was fun, because much of it was through puddles hundreds of feet long, and it felt way more adventurous than your average triathlon.  I had struggled a bit with my choice of shoes for the 1/2 marathon- wear the heavy long distance shoes, or the light Newtons with no cushioning or support.  I had opted for the Newtons, which meant that I was carrying about 6 pounds less water than I would have if I'd chosen the other pair.  Lucky choice.  I held an 8 minute pace throughout the run, and finished strong. 

I ended up with a 21 minute PR.   Overall, a pretty good race, though I almost certainly could have done better.  My shoulder mysteriously didn't bother me all day, or the day after.  The day after that, however, it was clear that I had set back my recovery pretty significantly (pain galore- well deserved), but I was glad I had eked out one last good race (triathlon) for the season.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I am officially tapering for the upcoming weekend's Half Ironman!  For my long run on Saturday, I ran 16 miles, and on Sunday my long ride consisted of 30 easy miles at the park.  My run felt pretty good (though a little slow), and I had a reasonable pick-up at the end, finishing at a sub-8-min/mile pace.  For some reason, on my ride I felt really fatigued and frustratingly slow (which is consistent with how painfully slow I'd felt during my tempo runs at the end of last week), but I'm trying not to be discouraged.  I'm going to stick to the plan of using this week to heal up and recharge.  I took yesterday off completely, and I've gotten a couple of good nights' sleep in a row.  Let's see if I can keep it up through the end of the week, and hopefully head into Saturday's race healthy, energized, and ridiculously, blisteringly fast.

Can you say acromioclavicular separation?

So, several weeks after my injury, an update:
Shoulder pain has diminished significantly, but I still have a bony bump consistent with an acromioclavicular separation. It is probable that this bump will be permanent, but in any case I have been treating the injury appropriately (with the possible exception of the swimming- more on that later).
Though the shoulder has been feeling better, I've been dealing with upper back pain that borders on incapacitating and has even been impairing my sleep. I've actually gotten this "snapping scapula" syndrome a number of times from swimming, usually from swimming excessively hard at the end of a workout when I'm not completely back in swimming shape. Usually it requires at least a full week off from swimming for the pain to subside. It's essentially due to inflammation in the bursa(e) that separate the scapula from the rib cage.

Now for the confession: I started swimming again two weeks ago, just after my first weekend back on the bike. The first couple of swims I did entirely one-armed. I did 1000m for the first one, and 1600m for the second. Recognizing that my last scheduled triathlon of the season is imminent, and feeling that being able to actually swim would be critical, I then started trying out the injured shoulder. I found that I could reproduce the motion of swimming with that arm without substantial pain in the shoulder (barely pulling with that arm), but swimming was definitely not helping the scapula pain. Interestingly, my body alignment is off a bit; I don't seem to swim completely straight. My next 2 swims were very deliberate workouts (2000 and 2500m), in which I was extremely careful of the injured arm. I could feel the injured arm getting better and better (though the scapula pain was not, of course, improving). So, last Thursday I swam for real. I swam 3000m, forcing myself to fully extend the injured arm (but still being careful on the pull). Afterwards, it was clear that my shoulder had been adversely affected by the workout. For the first time in quite awhile, my shoulder was noticeably more painful that it had been the day before. When continued symptoms over the next few days made it clear that I had regressed, I decided not to swim again in the 8 days remaining before the race, and to see what value "healing up" might bring. At this point, I can't really add any fitness before the race, so I might as well try to go into the race as healthy as possible.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Back in the saddle

Well, I had a pretty good weekend! I ran 20 miles on Saturday and actually felt pretty good! Since I hadn't run long the previous weekend, I started the run with no intentions whatsoever of running 20; I was going to be happy with anything greater than 15 miles. However, the company was good, the temperature was fairly moderate, and my feet felt better than they have (running long) in months. I'm not sure exactly to what to attribute the last factor: to the two weeks off I'd taken nearly completely off from running, or to a last-minute shoe substitution I made nearly immediately after putting on my usual "long-run" shoes. I was prescribed these shoes when I went to buy a new pair of Newtons, and came away with a pair of shoes that promised to "correct" my form (I'm convinced that my form over the last many months has been subtly altered to try to minimize the pain associated with plantar fasciitis, and does not necessarily represent my natural body mechanics). Anyway, I'd been running my long runs in those and all of my weekly runs in the Newtons, still focusing in both pairs on mid/forefoot striking. When I put my "long run" shoes on early Saturday morning, the near instant plantar pain I felt caused me to rip those off and to don a pair of neutral trainers (the model I'd been running in for the past 3 years), which in this case I'd been using for my "walking around" shoes. Anyway, I ran 20, had a solid kick at the end over the last 4 or 5 miles, and finished the run feeling pretty great!

On Sunday, I went to Galveston for a 100 mile bicycle ride organized by Houston Racing. I've been trying out a behind-the-saddle water bottle holder on my bike ever since the retainer nuts on my downtube broke (that's what I get for removing my water bottle holder to improve aerodynamics for a sprint race), and these holders are notorious for ejecting bottles when riding on bumpy roads. True to form, my bottle of Infinit was ejected at about mile 5 of the ride, and I was left to complete the ride with a Camelbak full of water, and no nutrition or electrolytes. I got through the first 3 hours of the ride with a couple of emergency Gu's I had stuck in my jersey, and then tried to make up the difference with Gatorade purchased from a local store. At around mile 75 I crashed completely. It was ridiculously hot out, and I was out of calories to burn, and subsequently out of will to continue. I wasn't excessively fatigued, but I couldn't think and I completely stopped caring. I just wanted to pull over and curl up in some shade. I tried to get myself to sing a song to take my mind off of things (this is typically a pretty effective trick), but couldn't think of any songs. I somehow persevered to the gas station at mile 88, where I downed a Mountain Dew (nectar of the gods!) and a couple of bottles of Gatorade. It was a much longer stop than I would have preferred, but when I got back on the bike I had gotten my spirit back, and I finished the ride feeling relatively peppy. I was pretty much destroyed for the rest of the day, but I was pretty satisfied with my weekend of training.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back on the run

I ran two loops of Memorial Park last night (~6 miles). I kept my arm pretty stiff, so that there was virtually no shoulder rotation on my recovering shoulder. I still have a painful cramp (or stitch, or something) in my back that delivers stabbing pain when I take a full breath or cough or sneeze, and last night by the time I went to bed it was nearly immobilizing. I get this from time to time from overdoing a swim (I think it's due to excessive tightness in my right "lat"), but the stretch I usually do to get rid of it involves a shoulder contortion I'm not able to do in my current condition. Anyway...

The run was slow. I took the first loop easy, but I ran the second loop pretty hard (as hard as I could without really pumping my arms), and that loop still took me 20:40. That's disappointingly slower than the times I'd been hitting a couple of weeks ago, but maybe a little more recovery time will get me back where I need to be.

At least I can run. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

National Championship Qualifier!!

I realized today that I have qualified for the Halfmax National Championship (half-iron distance), and, fortuitously enough, I was already entered in the Redman 1/2 Ironman. It's the same race, but the "qualifiers" are competing for spots on the national team. So on September 19, I will be in Oklahoma City competing for a spot on Team USA to compete in the 2010 Long Course Triathlon World Championships in Immenstadt, Germany. I don't have any crazy aspirations of actually going to the World Championships, or any corresponding delusions of being that good, but just competing for a spot will be pretty cool! Hopefully by then my shoulder will be working...


I had a relatively eventful week last week, highlighted by running my bike into a tree at 24 mph Tuesday evening at Memorial Park. I was trying to squeeze in a quick bike ride before swim practice, so I only had 30 minutes to ride, and since I had an olympic-distance triathlon scheduled for Saturday, this had to be my last hard ride of the week. I was determined to make the most of it, and really hammer (for the half hour I was out there). I was having a fantastic ride, averaging well over 23 mph, and I was feeling pretty excited about the weekend's upcoming race. I was heading into a 90 degree turn at 24 mph (it could be argued that that's a reckless speed for a turn), when a cyclist in front of me abruptly slowed from about my speed to nearly a stop. I slammed on the rear brake, and my rear wheel immediately locked and started to slide, so I released the brake, realized that there was no way I was going to make the turn, and looked for somewhere else to go. The turn was lined with vertical pylons that would have mangled me and my bike if I'd gone down, so I aimed between two pylons and managed to successfully exit the pavement before ramming my right shoulder directly into a tree.
I lay on my back in shock for a couple of minutes, then got back on my bike (the front end was mangled, but there was no other visible damage) and rode back to my car. My shoulder was really swollen and virtually non-functional, but a quick trip to the ER (yep, I was lucky) confirmed that I had no broken bones (lucky again), so I spent the rest of the week (and this) with my arm in a sling hoping that my shoulder will start functioning again soon. I'm extremely lucky to have hit the tree with my shoulder and not my head (I was in aero position, so I charged into the tree head-first), and not to have broken any bones.
Friday night I spent about an hour trying to see if I could still ride my bike with my bum shoulder, but a little experimentation proved that it would be unwise, so I attended Saturday's triathlon as a spectator. It was great to see all of my friends, but it was really tough to miss out on a race I had been anticipating so much.
Today I got my bike back from the shop (the front end repair required special parts that I don't carry in my personal shop), so now I'm ready to get back on the horse as soon as my body will let me. I did a little one-armed swimming on Monday, and one bright spot is that I definitely have an opportunity to strengthen up my weak side while my dominant arm is out of commission.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Well, since my last post I...

rode 15 miles at the picnic loop at a PR 22.5 mph pace...

and then went on vacation for a week in NC, where I ran only twice, not fast, swam once in the ocean (enough to get massive armpit chafing and to not want to do it again), and did basically nothing else (training-related). No long run, nothing.

On Sunday, back in Houston, I rode 56 miles in hills, and had some weird quad soreness and felt generally fatigued. I was pretty disappointed with how slow I was until the last 15 miles of the ride, when I somehow found another gear and actually attacked the hills. I finished up the ride actually pretty happy with myself for persevering and managing to eke out some speed.

This week I've been trying to get back into some sort of routine, lest my fitness go spiraling down the drain. I managed to go to a masters swim practice on Tuesday for the first time in a long time, and I ran 6 hard miles at the park yesterday. It had been a tough week at the office, and I was running angry- I'm pretty sure I ran a 5K PR on the last half of that run. This morning I (barely) resisted the urge to sleep in and did a brick at the park, at which my legs were generally pretty fatigued and uncooperative. I'm looking forward to getting back that sense of satisfaction that comes with pushing hard and being fast...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just another manic Monday...

I had an interesting run at the park tonight. It was supposed to be a recovery day after a couple of long workouts over the weekend (allow me to digress).
Saturday morning I went out for my typical "long run" with the usual crew. We had one member of the group who has been running with us for a few runs, but who hasn't been around long enough to know all of our routes like the back of his hand. We also had a couple of slower runners who were good to hang with our average pace, but who were unlikely to hang if we pushed the pace. The plan for the run was a 15 miler, with a 2-3 mile pickup starting around mile 9. The first part of the run was fairly moderately paced, and the group held together nicely. Since the pickup was scheduled to take place in the River Oaks neighborhood (where it's pretty easy to get disoriented and turned around), I told the slower runners that we'd wait for them at any turns. So four of us picked up the pace a good bit, eventually dropping the new guy by a couple of hundred yards. At the first real turn, I doubled back to make sure the slower folks caught the turn, and, as I passed the new guy, told him to take the turn that was coming up. I went back about a mile, and never found the slower folks (they apparently had found a porta-potty on a construction site), so turned back around to catch up with the group. I continued on the agreed-upon route, and then fortuitously ran into the slower folks running in the opposite (wrong) direction (they had managed to miss a turn and get turned around). We ran to the next water stop where the rest of the crew was waiting... except the new guy. Apparently the guys in front had neglected to wait for him at the next turn, and he was somewhere off in the neighborhood. What to do? We were on foot. We eventually designated one guy to run around the neighborhood for an hour (we had about an hour left to run) while the rest of us ran back to the cars. When we got back, the new guy's car was gone. Apparently he had cleverly realized that he didn't know where he was going and had retraced the route. So I drove back to call off the search party. Overall a fun day (minus the drama and confusion), and I ended up with 17 miles at around an 8:30 average. My feet were killing me afterwards, and for most of the rest of the day.
On Sunday I did a 55 mile bike ride. I stopped to help one guy fix a flat (a good thing, too- his inflator didn't work), and ended up pushing pretty hard for the rest of the ride to catch up with my group. It was a beautiful day, a beautiful route, and I finished happy to have had the opportunity to push myself a bit (since the IM I've been long-riding a lot more socially rather than trying to see how close I can come to destroying myself. Both are fun; just in different ways). Afterwards I felt a nice burn in the quads when ascending or descending stairs, which is a sign of a good workout.
So, back to tonight... :)

Usually after the long workouts of the weekend, Monday is a recovery day. Somtime between the ride on Sunday and Monday morning my feet ended up feeling much better. I went to the park to run 6 miles, not really intending to run easy (I've been having too much fun lately running hard), but not really intending to kill it, either. I finished the first loop of the park in 20:35 (not too terrible, but a full 30 seconds slower than in my run last week), and then, noticeably disgusted at myself for my laxity (although, to be fair, I fully intended to run at least the first loop easier than last week), proceeded to run the second loop in 19:32, which is ~6:40 pace. The latter time may well be a PR for me for that loop (it helped that it was cooling down a bit from the 94 degree heat in which I started). I don't know whether to be impressed with myself (for the speed) or disappointed (in the lack of self-discipline). Either way, it was fun! So my total time for two loops ended up very nearly matching my total time from last week. It's time to set some goals for these hard runs. How about...
Before the Chicago Marathon (Oct 9), I will run one loop in sub 19 minutes (sub 6:30 pace), and I will keep my average for all of these two-loop runs to sub 7 min pace. Since I'm aiming for a marathon at 7:15 pace in October, I need to do something to get my speed where it needs to be...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The need for speed

Going fast is fun!

Two nights ago I rode my typical 15 miles at the picnic loop in a 22.3 avg pace (no race wheels), not too far off of my PR. It was downright exhilarating. I'm pretty happy with that- if I could get two workouts a week in at that intensity, I'd be faster in no time.

Last night I ran two loops of the park; the first loop in 20:03, and the second in 20:06. The park loop is slightly less than 3 miles, so I figure my pace to have been around 6:50 min/mile. Not too shabby! We'll see what a couple of weeks of speed work will do...

Work has been pretty stressful this week, and I think having a massive need to burn off some steam has probably helped my performance. On the other hand, generating intensity has never really been my problem.

This week I've been sacrificing swimming for a little bit extra in the run and bike department. The plan is to shift into maintenance mode on the swimming (which should involve more than the zero swimming I've done this week), and to focus on getting my speed back (and then some) on the bike and run.

Health status update: the knee is OK (nothing like an Ironman to try it out). The plantar fasciitis is still bothersome, but isn't stopping me at this point. I stretch between 6 and 10 minutes a day these days (focusing on calves and hamstrings), pretty religiously, and I think that that helps. I'm also alternating shoes- Newton's for my shorter weekday runs, and a pair of Asics (more cushioning, better arch support) for the weekend long run (currently ~13 miles).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jeff & Brede's Intergalactic Triathlon

I just competed in Jeff & Brede's Intergalactic Triathlon (a sprint tri), 3 weeks after the Ironman. For fun! I had been recovering pretty well, and so wasn't too worried about injuring myself. I have a particular affinity for this race, since it's the race in which I got my first age group place (and win) two years ago. The race is also put on my my triathlon club (Houston Racing), so the race competitors and volunteers are all friends and acquaintances.
It had been a long time since I'd done any cycling or running for speed, so I knew I wasn't going to be setting any records, but I also knew that it would be fun to compete and fun to hang out with the triathlon community.
My swim was pretty bad, though my time was pretty much identical to the last two years. I had some really awful turns, and was reminded that I really need to start doing turns in practice. After all of those years of water polo and open water swimming (neither of which require turns), the flip turn is not exactly second nature. True, the first couple always go OK, but once I'm tired everything devolves pretty quickly. On this day, that started around 200m into the swim, and I'm pretty sure the last couple of turns would have been much faster if I'd opted for an open turn instead of the tired, awkward, floundering, wall-missing, bottom-scraping monstrosities I was throwing in towards the end.
Swim: 4:35 for 300m, 1:32 pace

I had a flawless transition, and headed out on the bike. For some reason, I felt really slow. My speedometer showed between 22 and 23 mph for the whole ride, but I wasn't able to dig out any more speed, and was pretty actively frustrated by it. One guy in my age group, whom I had beaten in IMCDA, passed me about halfway through the bike, and seemed to be going easily 2mph faster than me (he's a better cyclist than me, but it shouldn't look that easy!). I made it back into transition wondering just how awful my run was going to be, very cognizant of how little actual running I've done in the last 8 months, not to mention even less speedwork.
Bike: 33:40 for 12 miles, 21.3 avg (all of the race results showed lower avg's than we actually raced, but this was still disappointing)

I had a flawless dismount, another great transition, and was out on the run. I had a great run! It took me about a mile to get enough breath to start getting my speed up, but I eventually did, and my last 2 miles felt pretty fast, and pretty good. I had a very strong finish (as always!). I would estimate that I ran the first mile at around 8 min/mile pace, and the last mile at around 6 min/mile pace. I had a pretty good kick, for not having run fast in such a ridiculously long time.
Run: 20:27 for 3 miles, 6:49 pace
Overall: 1:00:28, 5th place in age group (only 30 seconds slower than the year I won my AG)

1) I need to start doing flip turns.
2) I need to continue to get stronger on the bike. I'm even or better with my competitors on the swim and the run, but tend to fall way short on the bike.
3) I need to get in some bricks. Somehow I need to improve my run speed coming out of transition; going 1 - 1.5 miles before I start feeling OK really slows me down.
4) It'll be fun to get back into doing some speedwork!
5) I have a couple more races this year against some of the same guys. Let's see who improves the most between now and then... :)

Ironman Coeur d'Alene

This is a placeholder for when I get time to actually write a race report. I hate to just half-arse it and not do it justice...

This is a pretty cool highlight video (my buddy William gets interviewed about 6 minutes in):

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a couple-thousand word race report:

Results of Houston Racing Triathlon Club participants in Ironman Coeur d'Alene, as posted on the HRTC forum during the race (click to see a legible version):

Yup- that's me in first.

It was kind of neat to go back and see the results as they were being posted on the forum; it kind of gives little snapshots of my race, showing who passed whom and when:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman

It seems a little silly to write a race report so egregiously ex post facto, but I'm afraid this year's chronology will suffer without it, so here it is:

On the weekend of May 9, a bunch of friends from Houston and I drove down to Panama City, Florida for the Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman. I had signed up for the event some time in advance, hoping to be healthy, and, though I definitely was in no shape to run in a 1/2 Ironman (or run at all, for that matter), I couldn't stand the idea of missing out on all the fun, so I went anyway, resolved to do sort of an Aquabike. I had decided before the race that I wouldn't run (or that I'd run just a few easy miles out of transition), to minimize the risk of a setback so close to the Ironman, and, knowing that I wouldn't have to run afterwards, I resolved to really hammer the bike.

The conditions for the swim were pretty rough, and I had a good swim, but nothing exceptional. I came out on the water 10th in my age group, and then went out on the bike, and absolutely KILLED it.

I came out of the water 10th in my age group, and finished the bike still 10th in my age group. Read that again. (that never happens- at IMFL in 2006, I got passed by more than 900 people on the bike)

So, I didn't get passed too much on the bike, and passing other people was lots of fun! I finished with an average of 22.1 mph for the 56 miles, which is definitely a PR. I was pretty pumped coming into transition off of the bike, so I made sure to piddle around and waste time in transition so as to not be tempted to race the run. I took off my chip, and left it in transition (I was only going to run a couple of miles, anyway), and headed out on the run. Barely out on the course, I turned around and went back for my chip- who knows; maybe I would be able to finish. So I headed out on the run again. I ran very slowly and deliberately the whole time, focusing on the placement of my leg with every step. I decided to run until my knee hurt, and then to turn around and walk it in. At about mile 3, I decided that I wanted to finish. I couldn't stand the idea of my friends being out on the course suffering in the hot sun, with me having given up, relaxing in the shade. And I wanted a finisher's medal. So I decided that I'd run as far as I could, and planned to walk in the rest. I made it to the halfway point in the park still running, with no pain (but still running extremely slowly and deliberately), and I kept on going. I ran the whole race very focused, slow (10:40 pace average), and deliberate. Until the end. About a half mile from the finish a guy in my age group passed me (just as countless others had on the run), and I let him go (just as I had countless others). About two hundred yards from the finish, the guy was a hundred yards ahead of me, and I decided to give him a run for his money. So I broke into an all-out sprint, heading in to the finish at about twice the speed of the guy ahead of me (I was going fast, like the last 50m of a track workout). As I charged in towards the finish, a roar erupted from the crowd, and with 20m or so to go, the guy realized I was coming and accelerated into a sprint. But I caught him. With the crowd going absolutely crazy around us, we sprinted side by side the last 20m to the finish. It was fantastic! I finished with a huge smile on my face! I grabbed some ice for my knee, and settled in to watch my friends finish.

My overall time still wasn't that bad, even with my slow run; I came in under 5:30, which was good enough for first out of my group of friends. And I somehow ran the whole run, despite having entered the race with a 3 mile run having been the longest of the previous month. I was elated at my finish, but even happier not to have injured myself and jeopardized the upcoming Ironman.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A good weekend

So I had a good weekend. I got up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and went for a run in the pool. I haven't done that since I was preparing for IM Arizona (because it's mind-numbingly boring, and no sane person would do it unless they were desperate to rehabilitate on an extremely tight timeline), and I was a little nervous, since I wasn't sure how my knee would hold up. The knee seemed OK, so I ran for two hours (without even losing my mind!). I figure that's equivalent to a 13 mile run at 9 min/mile pace (I actually kept my intensity pretty high, even though I was actually running at a 240 min/mile pace). I was pretty excited when I had finished, because I think I've found (rediscovered, really) a non-destructive way to train for the marathon at the end of my IM. I won't be fast, but maybe I can go into it uninjured, and with a chance of finishing (which is actually what I did at IM Arizona last year- I did no actual running (only pool running) in the two months leading up to the race (though I did run a 10K with my family the week before), and IM Arizona actually went really well. My run was slow, but I finished. It's such a joy to discover a light at the end of the tunnel, or in my case, a way to harness my motivation without tearing myself apart.

After my "run" I drove down to a spring-fed lake south of town and swam about 1800m in my wetsuit, and managed to identify a couple of the issues (even if I haven't totally addressed them yet) that plagued me in my swim at the Lone Star Tri a couple of weeks ago. So I managed to spend 3+ hours of my day immersed in water. After that, I went home and spent a couple of hours fixing some of the piping associated with my pool pump, without which the pool had turned a delightful algal shade of green. Perfect for frogs, but a bit off-putting to sunbathers and houseguests. It is now a beautiful crystalline blue, so my hard work definitely paid off.

Sunday morning I roused myself once again at the crack of dawn, and met some Houston Racing friends for a bike ride. Most were riding 44 miles or less, but a number of us (those training for IMCDA) did more. I ended up riding 85 miles in 25-30 mph winds. It was brutal. Really brutal. At some points, I was in my lowest gear and yet decelerating, wondering how I was going to get back to my car if I couldn't get my bike to go forward. It was great mental-toughness training! The tough part was riding as hard with the wind at my back as I did with the wind to my face, but I did a pretty good job of keeping my intensity high, and finished with an average pace of 18.3 mph, which isn't too shabby for 8 weeks out from the IM.

After my ride, I went back to the lake (with a friend who missed the Saturday swim) and got in another, shorter wetsuit swim. It was a beautiful day, and I had a fantastic weekend! I didn't really put myself to bed at a reasonable hour last night (sometimes it's hard to remember how much more sleep I need with higher training volumes), and today I am groggy and pretty much useless. Note to self: Get some sleep, dummy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


While my running is on hold (indefinitely, it seems), I find that I have some golden opportunities to improve my swimming and cycling. The 1/4 Ironman three weeks ago was a pretty good wake-up call- being 10 minutes slower than last year pretty effectively demonstrates that I have a ways to go to get my fitness level up to where it was for last year's Ironman. So I came out of that race pretty motivated (as illustrated by the relentless destruction I imposed on my knee). The weekend after I did an 80 mile ride in the Texas Hill Country, but was a bit frustrated by not being able to hang with my usual group of friends. Last weekend I rode an 80 mile leg of the MS150 (the first day was canceled), and had a great, challenging ride, but again didn't really hang with my friends. I'm not sure this time if it's that I wouldn't have been able to, or if it's more due to my recently developed aversion to drafting. I just don't draft anymore- it's dangerous and saps that mental edge you need riding alone in triathlons. Needless to say, I've lately been frustrated by my present slowness and apparent loss of fitness, but somehow have just been accepting being slow. All that frustration has been building up and then this week I remembered...

I'm a badass.

And after that everything changed. I've spent the whole year nursing injury and getting back into two sports that I dropped completely last year, and haven't really had my usual outlook on training. I've been letting my lack of fitness be an excuse for a lack of intensity in my training (with the exception of my ill-fated week of crazy running following the 1/4 Ironman). I only really enjoy training when I'm pushing myself, or otherwise impressing myself, and lately I haven't been all that impressive. But I can control that.

This week I've had two fantastic swim workouts, and last night I had my best ride at the park of the year. My metric for cycling fitness has always been my average speed for 15 miles at the picnic loop, dating back to when I first got into triathlon several years ago. My best ever is 22.5 mph with no drafting. This year my averages (that I've bothered to check) have been: 19.8, 20.3, and 20.8.

Last night I remembered who I am. I remembered why I do this. I remembered that there's no reason anyone should pass me. Certainly no reason that I should let them. I averaged 22.2 mph (no drafting). Not so far off of my PR. Maybe the fitness situation isn't so dire, after all. Maybe there is hope.

I am pleased to announce:
I am BACK. It is ON. (and all I need is for my knee to heal before the Ironman)

Status update

OK, a lot has happened since my last post, even aside from the massive passage of time. I ran about three 3-6 mile runs every week up until about three weeks ago. I did a pretty good job of getting consistently better cadence, although it continues to take some effort. My calves got progressively better adapted to the Newtons, to the point that I wasn't really noticing them at all. I've been doing a good job of regularly stretching my calves, and my feet have been getting progressively better. So...

I went home to S.C. three weeks ago to run the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K, a race I run with my family every year. I was pretty sure I'd be slow, and was somewhat anxious about how my feet would hold up, so I went into the race with some trepidation. I ended up having a great race- I kept my turnover high, my feet held up nicely, and I only had my worst 10K time ever by about 2 minutes (which isn't so bad, considering how much time off I've taken). A couple of hours after the race, I jumped on a plane back to Houston and got all of my tri stuff together for a quarter-Ironman triathlon the following day in Galveston (probably not the smartest plan, but it was the first big race of the year, and I had lots of friends going, and I couldn't resist). I had a great race! Slow (10 minutes slower than last year), but fun and satisfying. Everything went about as well as could be hoped, and since last year's race was 2 weeks before Ironman Arizona, I didn't expect to be in as good a shape, and didn't feel too bad about this year's performance. I hung out and helped man an aid station, and by the time I headed home I was utterly exhausted (but happy) :).

So I was a little excited. So I followed up my weekend of two raced 10K's (one in the tri) with a week of three 6 mile runs and an 8 miler, on an increasingly painful knee (but my feet weren't hurting a bit!), when my max weekly mileage to that point had been between 9 and 12. So the knee wasn't (and still isn't) happy, and I don't feel very smart. I've taken about a week and half completely off from running (aside from playing softball, which I am loath to give up).

The knee is feeling less painful (I can now walk stairs without visible limping), but still feels a little awkward, so I know I need to rest it. But... I have a 1/2-Ironman in Panama City in two and a half weeks, and an Ironman in eight weeks. So... the plan is to do pool runs for the next week (through next Wednesday), which is what I did leading up to IM Arizona, and which served me well, and then make a game-time decision for the 1/2-Ironman whether or not to run (recognizing that the real goal is the Ironman, and I need to stay/get healthy for that).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Running Cadence

I managed to go nearly a week between runs, from track last Wednesday to late Monday night. I intended to run Saturday, but ended up running errands and changing out the cockpit on bike #2 (still a work in progress). On Sunday, I rode 100 miles from Houston to Livingston to support the first leg of the Brick for Women, in which a guy is cycling from Houston to Little Rock, AR, and then running the Little Rock Marathon to raise money and awareness for women's support centers. (that's me leading the pack)

On Monday I had a Houston Racing meeting, and I was pretty bummed because it looked like I was going to end up going a week between runs (not a good idea), but I got home and my cadence sensor had come in, so I went for a run in my neighborhood at 11:15 pm. My default cadence is somewhere between 165 and 170 steps/min, but I managed to maintain 176 or so throughout my run, mainly by focusing on pumping my arms. The run was pretty tough on my calves; I don't think all of the time off was particularly good for me. I focused on shortening and quickening my stride, and was surprised by how tough it was. Monday night run: painful, frustrating, slow.
Wednesday night I went to track practice and found that forefoot running is a lot easier when I'm running fast. Nonetheless, I felt pretty darned slow. My fastest mile was in the 6:48 range, and it was tough! I did manage to maintain a cadence around 180 from the start until my cadence sensor died (hopefully it's just a dead battery).
This morning I got up and did a brick at the park. I rode about 13 miles, easy, and then ran 2 miles. The 2 mile run was actually pretty effortless and relatively pain-free.
The feet are at about 85%. They seem to be getting better since the tennis playing mistake a few weeks ago, and night-time icing definitely seems to help.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Still running...

Well, I've had some ups and downs since my last post. I've been running 2-3 miles in my Newtons every other day since then (with the exception of last night, which I'll get to). My feet still hurt. Unfortunately, when they started to feel better I stopped taking care of them quite as fastidiously, or maybe it's the continued running that's aggravating the plantar fasciitis. Essentially, anything I do that tightens my calves will aggravate my feet, so I have a renewed focus on stretching copiously and often.

As for the Newtons... my calves got used to running in them after 10 days or so. They occasionally hurt the balls of my feet if I don't have my foot positioned in them just right. Increasing my running cadence enough to forefoot strike (which the Newtons essentially require) is hard. I've been running around my neighborhood, and had a terrible run Monday night, in which I ran as fast as I could and barely broke 8 min/mile pace. I was pretty frustrated.

...which leads to last night. I went to track practice for the first time in awhile, and started out running pretty conservatively. I eventually got annoyed with not being the fastest person there, and did a couple of miles running fast (or what passes for fast for me these days). I did my first mile repeat at a 7:10 pace, and then ran my next two at 6:40. I'm not sure that I could hold that pace for a 10k at this point, but it felt good, my feet felt fine, and most of all, it was exhilarating! This was my longest run in a couple of months: 5 miles. It's been so tough and mentally taxing for the last couple of months having to rein myself in and to hold a constant awareness of my pain levels, and letting go was just fun. I can't wait for next week!

So, I'm going to start ramping up my mileage (still stretching like a fool in hopes of getting rid of this foot pain), with a focus on increasing my turnover rate (my cadence is around 160 strides/min, and needs to be around 180) to become more of a forefoot striker (and to improve my efficiency). To that end, today I ordered an accessory footpod for my Garmin that will give me my running cadence in real time (it's really hard to count steps for any length of time).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's the shoes

Well, I bought a pair of Newtons on Saturday. They're supposed to promote forefoot striking (as opposed to heel striking, which I do, and which is a contributor to my plantar fasciitis), so I thought I'd give them a try. If you're not used to forefoot running, you're supposed to ease into running with these, to give your body a chance to adapt. I ran 2 miles in them on Saturday (my first run in a month or so), and my calves were insanely sore (but my feet didn't hurt at all). I'm pretty excited to be back running, but am determined to ease back into it. I got up early this morning and met some friends for a garage run (up and down 12 stories of a parking garage), and got in about 3 miles. My calves are pretty sore, and my feet hurt a bit (but that's probably from playing tennis for two hours yesterday. Bad idea, I know, but I'm in a tournament, and I couldn't exactly drop out), but it was great to see some of my triathlon friends, and great to feel like... I'm back. I plan to restrict my runs to 3 miles or less for this week (every other day, or so), and after that, we'll see!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday ride at the park- just like old times

I made it out to the park for a ride last night for the first time in... a year? This involved leaving work at a reasonable time (5:15), also a first in a really long time. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I met my roommate Greg and a couple of Houston Racing folks at the picnic loop at Memorial Park. It's a fun loop to ride (for awhile- then it gets boring), and it's great to get out and ride surrounded by so many other cyclists (and no cars). Yesterday's ride was a bit humbling- I got passed several times (which I don't remember happening too much in the past), and my average speed was a couple of mph short of my best for that course. So... I have plenty of room for improvement! I'm looking forward to getting my cycling back to where it was at this time last year- getting better is always fun!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Revamping the swim

While on hiatus from running, I'm determined to emerge a stronger swimmer and cyclist. I've been swimming nearly every other day, with a focus on form, rather than speed or distance. Form, though, is a pretty nebulous concept. For the moment, I give myself a million little reminders of things to pay attention to (kind of like a golf swing), concentrating mainly on maintaining a balanced position in the water.
After years of playing water polo, constantly swimming with my head up, I finally realized this year that I have terrible form (and that I have some significant potential for improvement (speed, efficiency) by addressing it). This realization should have come to me long before, such as when a pretty experienced fellow triathlete commented at an open-water swim last spring: "I've never seen anyone swim so fast with their head so high". Somehow my mental reaction to this was: "Yup, I'm pretty awesome" instead of: "Hmm. If my form is so unconventional, maybe I could improve it."
After swimming two Ironman swim legs a year and a half apart in virtually the same time, I was more than a little disappointed by the lack of improvement (over the same time period my bike and run times improved by 10%). The ensuing frustration forced me to the realization that if I'm going to improve my swim, it's not going to be by swimming harder, but by swimming better. I've always considered myself a strong swimmer, so admitting to myself that I need work was not an easy thing, but here I am- back at the drawing board.
I feel like a kid learning to swim for the first time, swimming 50 and 100m at a time instead of cranking out 500's, with a constant focus on swimming well rather than swimming hard. I'm much better at the latter than the former. Occasionally I get it right, and the feeling is fantastic. I'm excited just to have found an avenue to improvement, and am looking forward to seeing some results in the upcoming season.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Track practice

Track practice resumed last night, and I went for the first time in months. There was a pretty good turnout, I really enjoyed running fast, and today my feet hurt a lot. I think I'm going to take more time off from running (maybe another month), and not start back until my feet don't hurt at all. I guess it's time to become a bad-ass cyclist.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New sunglasses rock!

I tried out my new sunglasses last weekend on my first ride of the year (22 miles at George Bush park- windy and freezing!), and they are awesome!

The cool thing about these sunglasses is the lenses are tall enough that I can actually look through (rather than over) them when down in my aerobars. I've never had a pair of sunglasses that actually worked in my aerobars. The fact that there's no frame over the top of the lens helps, too, since there's not a big chunk of plastic there to obscure the view.

The ride was great, too. It was cold and windy, but nice to be on the bike. A herd of deer crossed the path in front of me, and I rode within 20 feet of them before they scampered off.

Update on the footsies

It's been a couple of weeks, and I've officially decided that running the 1/2 was a bad idea. My feet hurt. A lot. And they don't seem to be getting better. Here's what I'm doing about it:
  1. Not running.
  2. Bought new, more comfortable shoes for work
  3. Never go barefoot
  4. Calf stretches every night before bed

Here's what I'm not doing, but should be doing:
  1. More stretching. Much more.
  2. Ice?
  3. Massage?
Here's what I'm doing, but maybe shouldn't be doing:
  1. Played tennis twice (I'm in a tournament at work; it's not like I can just give up)
  2. Riding my bike every other day. In theory, this shouldn't hurt, since there's no foot flexion, and no pounding, but I do end up with tight calves, which, of course are a major contributor to plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis.
  3. Swimming every other day. Somehow my calves end up tight after this, too. Maybe I should focus on pushing off of the walls less hard?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2009 Houston 1/2 Marathon

On Sunday I ran the Houston 1/2 Marathon. I've been struggling with a painful issue in my feet (plantar fasciitis) since the Sunmart 50K that makes it painful just to stand. Hoping to heal up for the marathon, I'd run only 3 times in the previous 4 weeks. Taking some time off did seem to improve the plantar issue, but it didn't help at all with my performance on Sunday. Since I had signed up for the full marathon, I started at the full marathon start, but I wisely ran the 1/2 marathon course. My race felt slow, painful, and frustrating, but just being out and part of the event was awesome!

Corralled at the start with 14,000 marathoners, it's hard to imagine a greater concentration of determination in a single spot. It was a beautiful sunny day (a little warmer than ideal for the full marathoners), and I walked back along the course cheering on the marathon finishers for four hours or so, until the marathon cutoff. I remember plenty of races where the encouragement of someone along the sidelines made a huge difference for me, and I was determined to buoy as many people as I could. Afterwards, I met up with some friends for lunch, and we sat outside, enjoying the sun, eating and trading racing stories. All in all, a great day!