Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Misery Loves Company

With the end of the 2010 Louisville Ironman less than 48 hours in the rear-view mirror, I thought I might share some facts about this years race.

  • 2,951 people started the race
  • 2,154 people finished the race
  • Almost 1 in every 4 people that started the race, didn't finish it
  • The average age was 37
  • There were competitors from all 50 states and 31 countries
  • Times for the 2.3 mile swim ranged from 0:48:39 to 2:41:50
  • Average swim time was 1:23:42 (34:52 min/mile pace)
  • Times for the 112 mile bike ranged from 4:31:36 to 8:46:07
  • Average bike time was 6:30:48 (17.2 mph)
  • Times for the 26.2 mile run ranged from 3:05:09 to 8:34:11
  • Average run time was 5:26:30 (12:27 min/mile pace)
  • Total time ranged from 8:29:59 to 16:58:01
  • Average finish time was 13:37:55
I've heard and seen lots of stories from the race. The temperature reached 96° F and took it's toll on all competitors. Just finishing this race became a huge struggle for most people. It's obvious from the pace of the average run time that there were lots of people walking huge chunks of the marathon. With the exception of a few people, I'm sure everyone that entered this race is in very good condition and spent months, if not years, preparing their bodies to complete the 140.6 mile course. To see people struggle to, and many not able to, complete this race is truly humbling.

Even with all this knowledge, and seeing superior athletes labor to complete this challenge...I decided to give it a shot. Registration for the 2011 Ford Louisville Ironman opened this morning, and I signed up!! I guess misery truly does love company!

1:23 on the indoor bike
30 minutes of warm-up and riding in zone 2 before a grueling 45 minute spin class that incldued lots of intervals, getting my HR into zone 4 several times.
Avg HR = 130 bpm
Max HR - 156 bpm

30 minutes of weights - chest, arms, abs

Yasso 800's (800 meter runs at a high intensity, with 3 minutes of easy jogging between each)
Warm-up (ran to the track) - 1.32 miles in 10:09 (7:37 min/mile pace)
1) 3:12 (Avg HR - 157, max - 168)
2) 3:10 (Avg HR - 167, max - 173)
3) 3:17 (Avg HR - 169, max - 175)
4) 3:19 (Avg HR - 170, max - 176)
5) 3:21 (Avg HR - 170, max - 176)
Cool-down (ran back to the gym)- 1.32 miles in 11:11 (8:24 min/mile pace)
Total Workout: 6.64 miles in 56:19

5 minute warm-up with some drills
1/2 mile (888 yd) in 15:58
Quick cool-down
Total Workout: 1296 yd in 24:49

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ironman Louisville

As I'm typing this Paul Ambrose is running down the chute on his way to his first Ironman title!

The crowd, which is huge at 4th Street Live! is going crazy as they welcome him to the line. It has been quite a day for the 26-year-old who is a citizen of Great Britain.

Paul finished with a time of 8:29:59, with a swim of 48:39 (1:16 per 100m pace), a bike of 4:31:36 (24.74 mph), and a 3:05:09 (7:04 min/mile) marathon.

I can personally attest to the battle that the athlete's are going through today. The heat and humidity are almost unbearable. Crossing the finish line is going to be tough for many.  

Some pictures from this morning:

 Transition area before the start of the race.

Sun coming up as the first athlete's enter the water.

T1 is empty (almost) as everyone is out of the water and on their bikes.

We ventured down to the finish line around 5:00, it's pretty awesome!

5.27 miles in 37:57 (7:12 min/mile pace)
This was just a run at a pace slightly above comfortable. I pushed it the whole way, but I didn't get too crazy.
Avg HR = 158 bpm
Max HR = 174 bpm

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ironman Louisville

In less than 48 hours, over 2500 of the world's triathlete's will be racing in here in Louisville. With only eight official Ironman races in the continental United States each year, it's not hard to see why people get excited about having the chance to see and/or participate in one that takes place in your hometown.

Now entering its fourth year, Ford Ironman Louisville has already become a unique stop in the Ironman series and a favorite of some of the sports professionals.

The 2.4 mile swim takes place in the Ohio River, which makes for an interesting experience for those from out of town. The race here in Louisville is also the only one that has a time trail start instead of waves. Each competitor (with the exception of the pros) enters the water one at a time....a process that takes over an hour to complete.

The 112 mile bike course takes athletes from Waterfront Park down River Road out to US-42 and scenic LaGrange, seeing some of the world famous horse farms that Kentucky is known for.

After returning to the Great Lawn on Waterfront Park, the competitors head out on the 26.2 mile run that takes them past the Louisville Slugger Factory, Churchill Downs, Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and then down and back beautiful Southern Parkway before finishing up at Fourth Street Live! and what has become known as the best finish line shoot outside of Kona, Hawaii.

I will be volunteering again this year  in Transition Area 1 to assist athlete's as they head out on the bike. I'm looking forward to the inspiration and motivation that I get from watching the competitors!

You can go to IronmanLouisville.com to get course maps and lots of other info if you want to come out and cheer on these athlete's who have been working for months and years to get to this point. You can track racers at Ironman.com during the race as well. Good luck to everyone racing Sunday!

2 solid hours on the indoor bike in Zone 2...building endurance
I did a 10 minute warm-up, then increased my heart rate to zone 2 (125-137 bpm) and held it there for an hour and forty minutes, then did a 10 minute cool-down. I felt pretty good, but the time seemed to pass really slowly today. I listened to a podcast and some music, but I had to force myself not to check my time every few minutes.
Avg HR = 128 bpm
Max HR = 141 bpm

Here's a chart of my Heart Rate:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mental Training: Conclusion

So in the last six posts, I've covered key aspects of mental training that are often neglected. I've just scratched the surface on this topic. The book is over 280 pages long, so obviously, if anything I've written has peaked your interest, go buy the book. It's called The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training by Jim Taylor and Terri Schneider.

If you can remove the obstacles that keep you from performing your best (which are often mental), you clear the path to fulfillment of your goals in training and racing. At the end of the day, mastering the mental aspects of sports will help you in all walks of life.

You can find this book on Amazon.com for under $13.00, or check in the Sports/Fitness section of your local book store. I highly recommend it!

Zone 2 endurance building run
14.38 miles in 2:01:32 (8:27 min/mile pace)
Avg HR = 154 bpm
Max HR = 167 bpm
10 minutes of stretching after the run.
My body is still not at 100% after fighting stomach issues for the last 2 days. My legs felt really heavy for the first 3-4 miles, having me doubt my ability to do 14; but then I settled in.
Hills in Seneca & Cherokee Parks were brutal this morning! I'm glad to have this one out of the way!

Here's my heart rate (top line) and elevation (bottom line) chart from the run - tough time staying in Zone 2 on the hills:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mental Training: Pain

This is part 6 of 6 looking into the mental factors discussed in "The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training". The six factors are motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and pain.

Pain can be the ultimate determinant of whether you achieve your goals.

Pain offers a powerful and persistent physical warning to your body that is difficult to ignore. Whether you use pain as an ally to pursue your goals or as an enemy to keep you from realizing them depends on your understanding of pain and whether you can find mastery over it.

Learning to overcome pain was the main reason my wife bought this book for me. I had expressed that I didn't think I was feeling enough pain during my training and racing - leading me to think that I wasn't reaching my full potential. What I found out is that what I thought pain would be isn't what it actually is.

Performance pain is different from injury pain. I was under the false assumption that I was going to feel a pain while training that is similar to the pain you feel when you are injured. Sure, that might sound ridiculous, but that's what I thought. Performance pain is more of a dull, general pain that pretty much disappears once you stop running, biking or swimming. It's a pain that can be easily reduced by slowing your pace or stopping. Injury pain is severe and chronic, usually localized and persists after you are done. It's outside of your control and signals a larger problem.

After making this very important distinction, I realized that I was already experiencing performance pain during lots of training sessions and races. What I learned from this chapter in the book was how to better deal with this pain. When I'm struggling during a workout or race, I try to focus on the ultimate goal, remembering that the pain I'm feeling is only temporary and is taking me another step toward my goal...and then I remind myself how great I am going to feel once I achieve that goal.

The bottom line is that the physical pain/discomfort that you feel in training and racing pales in comparison to the emotional pain/embarrassment that you will feel if you don't achieve your goals because you didn't work though the pain. The pain you feel during the race is temporary, but the feelings of accomplishment and pride you feel at the finish line having overcome that pain will last forever!

Just remember, you've never experienced any pain like this:

2.45 miles in 16:33 (6:44 min/mile pace)
The purpose of this run was just to get the legs moving and see how my stomach reacted to running. I've been fighting a stomach virus/food poisoning battle since Sunday afternoon. I skipped my Monday workout and was feeling better until about half-way through my run this morning. I had planned on going further, but decided against it. I also stumped my big toe Sunday morning (I'm too embarrassed to say how it happened) and it started hurting a little during the run too. I'm having all kinds of issues...I've yet to make the decision on my planned 14 mile run tomorrow morning.

1776 yards (1.0 miles) in 33:15
Nothing fancy here, just wanted to do a mile at a good pace. I focused on my body roll and hand position. Felt pretty good...other than my big toes hitting each other (which is normal) and aggravating my jammed toe!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mental Training: Emotions

This is part 5 of 6 looking into the mental factors discussed in "The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training". The six factors are motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and pain.

Emotional aspects of training and racing are often more taxing than the physical ones.

During the course of your racing and training you will experience the entire spectrum of emotions. You may feel exhilaration, pride, fulfillment, and contentment. You may also feel fear, frustration, disappointment, and despair. Not only will you experience these emotions, but you may feel them regularly, unpredictably, and with increasing force as you move to longer races.

The three emotional challenges that most people face are fear, frustration, and despair.

Fear - Especially in triathlon, many people fear physical harm or even death, most often associated with swimming in open water and riding a bike on a course mixed with cars. There's also the fear in injury, pain, and of course the fear of failure.
Mastering Fear - the best way to ease your fear is by gaining relevant information, experience, and skills. Be patient, work on overcoming your fear, and as you gain experince, confidence, and comfort, you'll find that the fear fades.

Frustration - This is the emotion that you feel when your efforts towards your goals are thwarted. I've had to deal with frustration a few times over the last few years and I've just recently learned how to put past races behind me and move forward. Getting frustrated during a race is a tough thing to overcome.
Mastering Frustration - Shift your thinking in a more positive direction. Remind yourself of how hard you trained and how prepared you are. To alleviate frustration during a race, focus on your body and try to relax. This can be done with deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and of course, just smiling!

Despair - This is the most difficult emotion to deal with because it is carries feelings of finality and hopelessness. Loss of confidence in your ability to continue are often associated with despair. This is basically your body giving up mentally.
Mastering Despair - This starts with understanding its causes. If you can detach yourself from your despair briefly, you can usually identify its cause. In most cases, the cause can be addressed directly (dehydration, calorie depletion, cramps). If the cause cannot be solved directly, you may need to adjust your goals mid-race. For instance, instead of trying to set a PR, maybe you adjust your goal to simply finishing the race, or to only walk through the aid stations.

I've really only addressed negative emotions, because those are the ones that are hard to deal with. But positive emotions (enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, satisfaction, and happiness) are the emotions that you should strive for and are great rewards for all of your hard efforts - so enjoy them!

6.2 mile Fartlek Run in 46:38 (7:32 min/mile pace)
This is just another form of interval training. The purpose is to develop speed by running for short distances at a speed significantly higher than the normal strong race pace, with these short runs separated by intervals of easier running or jogging. A Fartlek run is used to develop speed and increase your anaerobic threshold.
There's no specific intervals that you must use, but I like to add in the speed once every 5 minutes, for 1 minute at a time. So I'll run 5 minutes at race pace, then run 1 minute all-out, then 5 back at race pace, another 1 minute all-out, etc.
Here's a graph of my run from Saturday. You can see the increases in speed every 5 minutes. You can also see that it became incresingly harder to find that boost of speed as I finished up my run.

20.33 miles in 1:00:16 for a pace of 20.2 mph
This ride was the exact same one I did last Sunday. I actually did it 3 seconds faster this week, which is insignificant...but my heart rate was lower this week - indicating an improved fitness...which is significant.
Avg HR last week= 144 bpm
Avg HR this week= 142 bpm
Max HR last week= 164 bpm
Max HR this week = 158 bpm

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mental Training: Focus

This is part 4 of 6 looking into the mental factors discussed in "The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training". The six factors are motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and pain.

Focus is defined as the concentration of attention or energy on something.

The "something" that we as athletes need to focus on is often misunderstood. There are two type of focus, internal and external. Internal is everything inside of you (thoughts, emotions, physical responses, body position, hydration, etc.); then there is external, which is everything outside of you (sights, sounds, equipment, weather conditions, etc.) on which you could focus. Focus is the ability to to attend to internal and external cues.

One of the most important things to try and understand is what style of focus (internal or external) you prefer. You may be more comfortable focusing on some cues and avoiding or ignoring others.

If you have an internal focus style you will more than likely be consistently focused on yourself during training and races...paying attention to only to what you are doing and how you are feeling. This is the type of focus that I prefer. I can run or bike a route 100 times and not notice something that becomes obvious the first time I drive my car down the same roads.

Athletes with an external focus style perform best when they broaden their focus and keep their minds off of what they are doing. Even during races, these athletes tend to talk with other competitors. This style of focus works for some athletes, allowing them to not over think their race.

No matter which style you prefer, you need to try and limit your focus to some key areas.

The book describes 4 areas that you should focus on during your training/races:
  • Positive - focus on positive things that will help your performance
  • Process - focus on what you need to do during the race, not on what might happen at the end of the race
  • Present - focus on what you can do that the present moment of the race rather than the past or future
  • Progress - focus on your own improvement, not others
So think about these 4 "P's" when you think about narrowing your focus.

2 solid hours in Zone 2...building endurance
I did a 10 minute warm-up, then increased my heart rate to zone 2 (125-137 bpm) and held it there for an hour and forty minutes, then did a 10 minute cool-down.
Avg HR = 129 bpm
Max HR = 143 bpm

Here's a pie chart of my workout (87.26% of which was in Zone 2):

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mental Training: Intensity

This is part 3 of 6 looking into the mental factors discussed in "The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training". The six factors are motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and pain.

Intensity is defined as a passionate and serious attitude.

Intensity is made up of two components. The first is what you feel physically, that is, what you actually feel in your body before and during races. The second component involves your perception of intensity.

Intensity produces a wide array of physical and mental symptoms that can help you recognize when your intensity is too high or too low. Here's some things to look for:
  • Overintensity - muscle tension and breathing difficulties, frustration
  • Underintensity - low energy, lethargy, easily distracted
So what do you do if you find yourself being too intense? Try to breath deep, relax your muscles while riding or running, focus on things that you can control (such as breathing and muscle relaxation), listen to relaxing music before the race, and just try smiling. Trust me, it will force you to relax - it's hard to have a "game face" when your smiling!

While it's not as common, some people don't have enough intensity heading into races or big training sessions. Some things that you can do to psych yourself up are predictably the opposite of the list above. Breath more intensely, move around and get your blood pumping, think positive thoughts (keep attacking, finish strong), and music that gets you pumped up. Try some Metallica or Jay-Z...leave the John Mayer at home!

Here's some good "Game Faces" to practice if you find that you don't have enough intensity:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mental Training: Confidence

This is part 2 of 6 looking into the mental factors discussed in "The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training". The six factors are motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and pain.

Confidence is defined as how strongly you believe you can perform your best and achieve your goals.

Whether your confidence is high or low, once you start on a pattern, it may be hard to reverse.

A series of poor training sessions or races could get you discouraged and make you question your fitness and ability. This may lead to a lack of motivation to train harder, or might make you so uptight and nervous come race day that you have no hope of achieving your goals.

On the other hand, positive thoughts, feelings and good thoughts allow you to feel less pain in training and races...leading to better performance...and even higher confidence.

Every day of training, you are achieving small "wins". These small victories should grow your confidence until you have confidence enough to achieve the big "wins"...such as meeting your goal come race day. Because these big wins don't happen very often, the small wins are important for strengthening and maintaining your confidence. Even if you have a bad day of training, the fact that you are out there doing it makes it a win.

After not meeting my goal in a few races earlier this year, my confidence started to fade. I wondered if I was cut out for triathlons. Maybe I just wasn't a good enough athlete to be competitive. Then, after all the issues I had during the Cardinal Harbour Half-Ironman I took a different perspective. I realized that no matter how much you train, there are going to be days when things happen that are out of your control that lead to a bad race. I took the attitude of just trying my best and not putting too much emphasis on the outcome into my next race, which was Tri Indy. This turned out to be a great race, where I knocked 13 minutes off of last year's time. This gave me tons of confidence heading into the Tom Sawyer Triathlon. This increased confidence and changed perspective lead to my first podium finish and my best race of the year!

So try things that you're not sure if you can do. Go out on a limb and take a risk. Tell yourself, "I'm just going to give it everything I've got and see what happens". You'll find that more often than not, you will succeed...leading to huge boosts in your confidence.

Zone 2 endurance building run
12.40 miles in 1:41:44 (8:12 min/mile pace)
Avg HR = 155 bpm
Max HR = 165 bpm
15 minutes of stretching after the run.
Time in Zone 1- 26:17 (25%)
Time in Zone 2- 1:11:47 (73%)
Time in Zone 3- 3:41 (2%)

Here's my heart rate chart from the run - pretty good job of staying in Zone 2:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mental Training: Motivation

This is part 1 of 6 looking into the mental factors discussed in "The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training". The six factors are motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and pain.

Motivation, simply defined, is the ability to initiate and persist at a task.

It's pretty simple - your motivation will determine your effort in training and races.  How well do you maintain your efforts while facing fatigue, boredom, pain, and other distractions? Your level of motivation will affect every other aspect of your performance: physical conditioning, technical training, mental preparation, and your general lifestyle (sleep, diet, work, relationships, etc.).

Motivation is the only contributor to your performance over which you have total control. We all have those days where we don't feel like eating up the pavement, turning the wheels or moving some water around. The more often you train, the more often these days will pop up. However, if they become a regular occurrence, then you need to address your true motivation.

Here's some quick ways to increase your motivation:
  • Make long-term goals and focus on them
  • Surround yourself with people who support your goals
  • Give yourself a pat on the back when you finish a tough workout or race
  • Keep your training exciting by varying your workouts
  • Think about what your competition is doing (are you working as hard as they are?)
  • Find inspiration in other people, quotes, photographs, etc.
  • Maximize your daily effort by asking two questions. When you get up in the morning, ask, "What can I do today to become the best athlete I can be?" and before bead, ask, "Did I do everything possible today to become the best athlete I can be?
Without motivation, none of the other factors that I discuss in the next few days will matter. If you find yourself lacking motivation, look at the list above and see what needs to be changed. If you need some additional motivation, just look at this poster:

"It's the size of one's will which determines success"

    Yasso 800's (800 meter runs at a high intensity, with 3 minutes of easy jogging between each)
    Warm-up (ran to the track) - 1.32 miles in 9:36 (7:16 min/mile pace)
    1) 3:04 (Avg HR - 153, max - 168)
    2) 3:07 (Avg HR - 166, max - 174)
    3) 3:10 (Avg HR - 168, max - 175)
    4) 3:01 (Avg HR - 166, max - 177)
    Cool-down (ran back to the gym)- 1.32 miles in 10:21 (7:50 min/mile pace)
    Total Workout: 5.88 miles in 48:50

    Chart showing my heart rate and speed. Goal is to keep my HR from increasing with each interval...didn't happen.

    5 minutes of drills
    23 minutes of swimming at comfortable pace
    Totals: 1440yd in 28:00 (34:13 min/mile pace)

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Mental Training

    I've read lots of books and articles about how to physically train for a race. Everything from how to plan out your whole year of training down to how to position your foot while riding for optimal power. Something that I never gave much thought to until a few months ago was the mental aspect of training and racing. After not meeting my goal times in a few races, I began to wonder what was going on. I knew that I had done the training necessary to get my body ready to race and I knew that my nutrition was right...so what was the problem??

    I figured it was time to explore the aspect that I had been ignoring...my mental preparation.

    For Father's Day this year, Jessica bought me a book called "The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training" by Jim Taylor and Terri Schneider.

    This book discussed six mental factors that influence performance the most: motivation, confidence, intensity, focus, emotions, and my favorite, pain. Although it's obviously marketed to Triathlete's, these principles are true for any athlete that competes....no matter what your sport. I'll look at each of these factors in more detail in my next few blog posts. I learned a lot from this book and I would like to think that things I learned from reading it helped me get through the disaster at Cardinal Harbour and contributed to my two best races of the year, Tri Indy and Tom Sawyer.

    5.32 miles in 39:06 for a pace of 7:21 min/mile (10K race pace)
    The purpose of this run is to get my body used to running at a fast rate. Once a week, I'll do a long run in zone 2 to build my endurance, but I will also incorporate some speed work through intervals and these shorter runs.

    20.33 miles in 1:00:19 for a pace of 20.2 mph
    This ride was very similar to the run I did on Saturday. Once a week I'm still going to do a long endurance-building ride, but I'm also going to mix in a hard effort at a shorter distance. This ride had lots of rolling hills with a monster decline at the beginning and incline at the end.
    Avg HR = 144 bpm
    Max HR = 164 bpm
    Here's some data from my ride:
    Elevation Only Graph

    Heart Rate with zones

    Elevation combined with speed - fast going down (39 mph), slow going up (9 mph)...it's called gravity.

    10 minute warm-up, 15 minutes in zone 2, 45 minute spin class with hill intervals, 10 minutes in zone 2, 10 minute cool-down
    Total workout: 90 minutes, approx. 28 miles
    Avg HR = 129 bpm
    Max HR = 144 bpm

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    What To Eat Post-Workout

    I'm a creature of habit. I'm sure that my wife would back me up on this. I wake up at 4:30 am every morning. I pack my gym bag and get my clothes for work together the night before. I pack my lunch and post-workout food while eating a beagle with peanut butter...then I hop in the car and head off to the gym around 4:45am.

    What I pack for lunch changes, but my post-workout food is the same 95% of the time. It consists of a Clif bar (homemade from a recipe I found online) and a banana. I wash it down with around 18-20 ounces of water and take a multi-vitamin...all while driving to work.

    So is what I eat post-workout enough to replenish the energy I burn?

    There's lots of studies and theories out there, but the consensus seems to be that you need to eat around 220-440 calories with a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen (stored glucose) stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise. The sooner after your workout you can eat, the more you can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness.

    My post-workout meal looks like this:
    (1) "Clif" bar = 330 calories, 44g of carbs, 9g of protein, 14g fat
    (1) Medium banana = 105 calories, 27g carbs, 1g protein, 0g fat
    TOTAL = 435 calories, 71g carbs, 10g protein, 14g fat (5:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein)

    So it looks like my post-workout meal is sufficient (a few more grams of protein wouldn't hurt). Most days, as soon as I get to work, I eat a bowl of oatmeal with almonds. Although this meal doesn't fit into the crucial 30 minute post-workout window, adding in some additional calories within the first 90 minutes is a good idea as well.

    2 solid hours in Zone 2...building endurance
    I did a 10 minute warm-up, then increased my heart rate to zone 2 (125-137 bpm) and held it there for an hour and forty minutes, then did a 10 minute cool-down
    Here's my heart rate chart from the ride:
    Man, I love my new Garmin watch and all the info it gives me!

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Today's Post is Brought To You By The Letter "H"

    As in Heat, Humidity, Hills and Heart Rate.

    These words were the theme of my run this morning.

    After doing some shorter races over the last few weeks, my endurance has really taken a hit. It's now time for me to start building back up my base (aka Aerobic Engine).

    The plan for today was to do a long run in heart rate zone 2 (154-162 bpm). The focus of this run was just on trying to keep my HR in this zone. I wasn't concerned with my pace, just my pulse.

    Thanks to several factors (83° F with 80% Relative Humidity, some big hills, and the fact that my legs were still tired from yesterday's workout), my pace was pretty slow.

    Here's a chart of my Heart Rate during my run:

    Zone 2 is pretty hard to see on this chart, but I was pretty successful at keeping my HR where it needed to be, with the exception of some hills during miles 4 through 7. Isn't this chart cool? It's all part of my new training website, TrainingPeaks. I'll discuss this in more detail in a later post.

    Totals from today:
    10.80 miles in 1:34:51 (8:46 min/mile pace)
    Avg HR = 159 bpm
    Max HR = 172 bpm
    15 minutes of stretching and attempting to cool-down after the run...very hot out this morning!!

    1 mile repeats with 2 minutes rest in between
    Warm-up (ran to the track) - 1.32 miles in 9:32 (7:13 min/mile pace)
    1) 6:43
    2) 6:48
    3) 7:08
    Cool-down - 1.32 miles in 10:46 (8:09 min/mile pace)
    Total Workout: 5.96 miles in 51:47
    Legs we a little sluggish and I never really got in a good rhythm, so I decided to cut the workout short after 3 repeats instead of the normal 4.

    10 minutes of drills
    10 minutes of swimming at comfortable pace
    Totals: 960yd in 20:00

    10 minute warm-up
    45 minute Spin Class with some good, hard intervals
    5 minute cool-down

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Tri Indy Pictures

    Transition area as the sun came up. Beautiful morning!

    My Buddy Jon and I before the race. Congrats on finishing your first Olympic Distance Triathlon Jon!

    Massive transition area full of bikes. Around 1200 participants!!

    This is the canal where the swim portion was held. It's a very unique venue...a little dirty, but unique.

     My girls and I at the swim start. Either that swim cap is too tight or I'm really surprised!

    Finishing up the swim. Nice extension!

    Checking my watch as I exit the water. That swim cap was blue when I started!!

    Same picture from a different angle. Wow, it's nice to have multiple photographers!

    Unracking my bike in T1. Dude in the foreground has some sweet wheels and a cool aero helmet!

    Kate playing with the Chick-fil-A cow. I'm betting that finger went up his nose.

    Empty T1. Just about everyone is out on their bikes...except for #191

    Coming into T2 after the 40K bike.

    Bike racked, helmet off...putting on my race number belt.

    Heading out on the run.

    First lap done, heading out on lap 2 of the run.

    I'm looking down at my watch in every picture of me crossing the finish line in my races. I need to look up, raise my arms, do a cartwheel....something.

    Talking with Dad after the race. Not sure why he wore a Wisconsin shirt in the middle of Purdue country!!

    My buddy (and Physical Therapist) Kevin and I after the race. He finished 25th in the Duathlon!

    Jessica and I after the race. I'm surprised she wanted to get that close to me...I didn't smell too fresh!

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Tom Sawyer Triathlon Report

    Sometimes everything just comes together perfectly. While there's no such thing as a perfect race, this one is about as close as I've ever come. Looking back, there are very few things that I could have done to improve on my performance...and it shows.

    Started off with my standard bagel and cup of yogurt about 2 hours before the race. I drove to the race site and set up my transition area in the dark with the help of a flashlight. The early start time (6:45am) meant that there's wasn't time to wait for the sun to come up.

    The swim start was a time-trial start - meaning it was one at a time into the pool for the 800 meter swim. I was #42 in line....based on my anticipated swim time between 15 and 18 minutes. Swimmers started every 20 seconds, so 14 minutes after the first swimmer started, my race began. It was 8 laps of a 50 meter pool, up and back in the same lane, then over (or under) the rope and do it all again in the next lane...until you worked your way to the end of the pool. I was passed by two people and passed two myself. I was also hit in the top of the head really hard by someone trying to pass going the opposite way. It dazed me for a second but I'm sure that person's hand hurt a lot more than my head did! I exited the pool in 16:35 (this includes a short 40 foot run from the edge of the pool to the timing mat). I was hoping for something under 16 minutes, but I was happy with the time.

    I ran up the stairs and then down the ramp to the transition area. This T1 transition time includes about a 300 foot run from the pool to the parking lot. I had decided to clip my shoes in ahead of time and put my feet in them while riding instead of putting them on in transition and then clipping them in as it started to ride. I like the new method better. I think it saved me a few seconds.

    The bike was a fast course, mostly flat (with the exception of the 10-12 speed bumps...yes, you read that correctly). I felt fast and was passing people the whole way. I ate a gel at the halfway point and drank about 8 oz. of water during the ride. I was pushing it hard the whole way, I didn't wear my heart rate monitor, but I can assure you that I was in zone 4-5 the entire ride. The course was 14 miles, but for whatever reason, the official results say it was 16. I completed the bike in 39:45 for an average pace of 21.13 mph (this works out to a pace of 24.1 mph on the official results because it is calculated based on 16 miles, not 14).

    I unstrapped my feet and had a good rolling dismount heading into T2. I racked my bike, slipped on my running shoes and hat and headed out in less the 38 seconds - couldn't do it any faster.

    I took off on the run and felt strong heading up a slight hill during the first mile. The temperature was still in the lower 70's, so I wasn't even sweating that much. I did the first mile in 7:18. I took a swig of water at the aid station around 1.5 miles and then hit the gravel trail that goes through the park. I did the second mile in 7:06...and still felt strong! It was weird, I passed a few people early in the run and then really didn't see anyone else ahead of me until the last half mile or so. I hammered down for the last 1.1 miles and ended up doing it at a pace of 6:50. Total time for the 5K was 21:52 (7:03 min/mile pace). This is only slightly slower than the Anthem 5K run I did back in March...and that run wasn't after a swim and bike.

    I was really happy with my time and knew that there were probably less than 10 people that finished ahead of me, but with people literally still exiting the pool when I was done with the whole race, I knew that it was impossible to tell where I really finished. Needless to say, I was more than excited once the official results came up last night and I saw that I was 3rd on my age group (out of 26) and 8th overall (out of 301).

    Official Results:
    16:35.60 (33:10 min/mile pace) - 7th out of 26 in age group (57th out of 301 overall)
    1:39.30 -3/26 (12/301)
    39:54.90 (24.1 mph) – 2/26 (6/301)
    0:37.30 – 2/26 (18/301)
    21:52.30 (7:03 min/mile) – 2/26 (18/301)
    1:20:39.4 (3/26) (8/301)

    I really had no expectations heading into this race. It wasn't one that I had specifically trained for and I was doing it just for fun...maybe that's why I did so well. 

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Turn Back The Clock - Tom Sawyer Triathlon

    The very first triathlon I did was the Tom Sawyer race on August 2, 2008. My friend Kelly had decided to do the race (his first triathlon also) and convinced me that it would be a fun. Of course this conversation took place exactly 7 weeks from race day. So with only 7 weeks to train, I bought a bike, started running again (after several years off) and attempted to swim (turns out I needed a few lots of lessons). Needless to say, I wasn't completely ready come race day and a softball related knee injury three days before the race made every step of the run painful (see the bandage on my right knee in the picture). Here's my results from that race:

    Swim (800 meters) - 20:58.40 (41:56 min/mile pace) Yes, I know...it was bad.
    T1 - 3:15:50
    Bike (16 miles) - 43:47 (21.9 mph)
    T2 - 1:13:20
    Run (3.1 miles) - 31:07:90 (10:02 min/mile pace)
    Total - 1:40:22.80 (12th out of 21 in my age group, 128th out of 271 overall)

    Other than the bike portion, the race was a disaster...but I was hooked...and still am!

    Tomorrow morning I will once again race in the Tom Sawyer Triathlon, this year being the 29th running of the annual race. I'm using this as just a training day and I'm really excited to do this sprint distance race. It will be interesting to see how much my times improve over two years ago!

    Quick warm-up then I did a 1 mile (1752 yard) swim. Time for the mile was 33:12
    Quick cool-down
    Total - 1824 yards in 35:15

    I also plan on heading over to Tom Sawyer Park and riding the bike course this afternoon....just to get a quick refresher on the route.

    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    How Long Do Running Shoes Last??

    I'm quickly closing in on 300 miles on my current pair of running shoes. That's usually when I start thinking about heading out to see my friend Swag to purchase some new ones. I could probably get by going 350 or even 400 miles in shoes, but I don't feel it's worth the risk.

    Despite what some people say, I feel that due to my flat, over-pronating feet, I need a good, stable running shoe to avoid injuries. While my running volume isn't huge at around 15-20 miles a week, all it takes is one nagging injury to throw my whole training plan out of whack.

    If you don't feel like logging every run you do so that you know when you've hit 300-400 miles, you can check for signs of wear on your soles. Sit your shoe on a table and look at it from behind - if it's leaning to one side, then the sole (and probably the cushioning) is worn...and it's time for some new kicks.
    Of course, if you start to develop any type of pain or discomfort in your legs (knees, feet, shins, hips), this too could indicate that it's time for some new shoes.

    Sure, running shoes have progressed and are now built to last longer, but technology can only do so much. At the end of the day, it is the physical limitations of nature (i.e. hard surfaces) that require us to replace our running shoes so often. The earth is unlikely to yield to the pounding force you place on it with every step and the force of gravity isn't going to change either...so if you are running in a broken-down shoe, it will be your body that suffers. The results will not be good.

    Bike (2:00 hours)
    10 minute warm-up
    20 minutes in zone 3 (138-142 bpm)
    45 minute Spin Class with some good long hills
    35 minutes in zone 3
    10 minute cool-down
    Avg HR = 130 bpm
    Max HR = 150 bpm

    10.16 miles in 1:23:50 (8:15 min/mile pace)
    Avg HR = 157 bpm
    Max HR = 172 bpm
    Today is going to be the hottest day of the year so far...and it was already 84° F at 5:05am this morning (see proof to the right) as I set out on my run. I struggled to keep a good pace and my HR was higher than it should have been for the speed that I was running - no doubt a direct affect of the heat!

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Tri Indy Report

    What a fun weekend! We drove the 2 hours from Louisville up to Indianapolis on Friday afternoon. We immediately hit the Indianapolis Zoo upon arrival in Naptown. Our later-than-planned departure meant that we only had about an hour at the zoo before headed off to meet up with our good friend Jeff and his daughter Kathryn for dinner. We ate at a place called Scotty's Brewhouse, and I had the "Luke's Cajun Steak Ranchero Wrap" (I had to get it, right?). We stayed Friday night with Jeff and after a quick 2 mile run Saturday morning we headed to Connor Prairie for some good 'ol 1800's style interactions and cow/goat/chick petting - fun times!

    Saturday afternoon we drove downtown and took a drive around the bike route. To say that the roads were in horrible shape is an understatement. They were bad last year and there has been zero improvement. They felt bumpy in the car...imagine how they felt on the bike! We stopped in to pick up my packet and then unloaded everything at Sona and Dave's place downtown - our Saturday night mooching spot!

    After some whole wheat pasta at Buca di Beppo, we hit the hay for a good night's sleep before the race.
    Race morning began at 4:30am - which is my usual wake time, so nothing new here. A plain whole wheat beagle and some strawberry yogurt got my body energized as I drove down to the race site.
    As usual, I was one of the first people there. I set up my transition area, got my body marked and met up with some friends that were also racing. We stood around chatting about triathlon business until it was time to walk the 1500 meters to the swim start.

    This year's start was time-trial start instead of a wave start that was used last year. That meant that each person entered the water alone...with someone 3 seconds ahead and someone 3 seconds behind. This worked out well and kept things from getting too crowded in the narrow canal.
    I know that I don't swim straight...that's become very clear in all of my open water swims. So my plan was to stay close the the right side of the canal. This worked ok...just ok. I could tell that I was a little crooked several times, but I was pleased with getting out of the water in 34 minutes and some change....2 minutes faster than last year.

    Transition 1 went just as planned. I've done enough of these now that I can do these in my sleep.

    I had some trouble getting clipped into my pedals on the bike, but once I was locked in, I put my head down and got the legs moving. I knew that the course was lined with potholes, bumps and railroad tracks, so I just held my breath every time that I was forced to go over one of the obstacles...hoping that I wouldn't hear a tire pop or my water bottles go flying! There's some discrepancy as to the length of the bike route. Race website says that it was 40K (24.85 miles), but my bike computer (which I know is accurate) said that it was only 23.16 miles. Either way, everyone rode the same course, so it really doesn't matter. I ended up being only 20 seconds slower than my time for last year (which I assume was the same distance), so considering the roads were in worse shape, it's not a bad time.

    Transition 2 was also very smooth. Rode in with my feet out of my bike shoes and had a good dismount. Ran to my bike rack, go the bike racked and running shoes on quickly - no problems.

    This was the first race that I've run wearing my heart rate monitor. I don't really have a reason for deciding to wear it, other than wanting to see what my heart rate was during the run. Turns out my average HR on the bike was 144 (low end of zone 4 - which is ideal for a race). My heart rate stayed in the mid 150's during the first 3.1 mile loop on the run.  This is only zone 2, which is a too low for a race, but I wanted to make sure that I had some juice left for the second lap. Average pace for lap 1 was around 8:15 min/mile. I felt good and I knew based on my HR that I could step it up on lap two...so I did. I picked up the pace to around 7:50 min/mile for miles 4 and 5 (HR was in the low 160's) and then gave it all I had for the last 1.2 miles heading to the finish. I ended up finishing the run at a dead sprint and managed to shave 10 minutes and 21 seconds off of my run time from last year. The heart rate monitor helped me on the run and it will probably have a permanent spot on my race gear checklist.

    My goal was to beat last year's time of 2:50:02, which I did easily with a time of 2:37:28.

    This was without a doubt my best race of the year. After all the problems at Cardinal Harbour, it was nice to have a day when everything went as planned!

    Congrats to Jon and Brian for completing their first Olympic distance tri and to Kevin for his top 25 finish in the duathlon!

    Thanks to Jeff, Kathryn, Sona and Dave for their hospitality - you helped make it a great weekend! I also want to thank my parents for making the drive up to see me race and to my beautiful and understanding wife and daughter to putting up with Daddy's triathlon's!

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Tri Indy Results

    Official Race Results:

    1500 meter (0.93 mi.) Swim
    34:52.2 (37:24 min/mile pace) – 36th out of 48 in age group (285th out of 443 overall)

    1:32.6 – 10/48 (100/443)

    40K (24.8 mi.) Bike
    1:09:56.6 (21.3 mph) – 26/48 (175/443)

    1:08.1 – 10/48 (94/443)

    10K (6.2 mi.) Run
    49:58.4 (8:02.5 min/mile pace) - 23/48 (154/443)

    2:37:28.8 (27/48) (184th out of 443 overall)

    I accomplished all 3 of my goals by improving my times on the swim, run and overall time from last year (both transitions were faster too - bike was only 20 seconds slower this year). It was a fun race, I'll write up a full report later.

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