Friday, December 17, 2010

A New Hope, er, T-pace

I've recently taken to watching Star Wars during my trainer rides, specifically Star Wars IV: A New Hope. I am captivated by the Battle of Yavin sequence, when the Rebel fleet attempts to destroy the Death Star. It's fast-paced, which is helpful for trainer rides that go over an hour. I mention T-pace because in my most recent 800y time trial, I set a landmark PR and have a new training pace, almost 5 seconds per 100y faster than my previous time. That definitely is in large part thanks to swimming with Michelle, Dirk and the masters practices. Basically, yards equal success! Also, since I've been running more for miles than speed, I've come to enjoy running more and feel better as a whole. I hope to keep up the 40-50 mile per week average I've been doing.

This is a little late due to being pretty busy at work... and looking for videos of Red Squadron:

Monday, Dec. 6 - Monday, Dec. 13 (6 swims, 6 rides, 6 runs)

Swimming: 19,800 yards
Tuesday -- Endurance swim at GISC w/ Michelle. Main set of 2x300 (1:20/100y pace, :15 RI), 4x50 (drill/build, :15 RI), 2x250 (1:20/100y pace, :15 RI), 4x50 (drill/build, :15 RI), 2x200 (1:20/100y, :15 RI), 200 kick, 2950y total. Swam alone at GISC around lunchtime, putting in 6x500 to give me 6000y total for the day.
Thursday -- TIME TRIAL! Michelle and I split the lane to add some competitive fire to the TT. It didn't start out well for me... my goggles filled up with water about 75y in, so I had to stop briefly at the 100 to empty them, losing about 5 seconds. However, after that it was SMOOTH swimming. I kept a constant pace and didn't feel tired until the last 50y, where inexplicably I forgot to sprint to the finish. Not at all sure why I forgot, but I hit the wall in 10:22, 1:17/100y average! That is a PR for me. Most importantly, I could have kept going at that pace... I was tired, but not done, totaling 1600y with warmup and cooldown. Another promising sign for the coming months! Michelle averaged about 1:41/100y, down from 1:45/100y a little over a month before. Huge improvements for both of us! In the afternoon I did 2000y of long pull sets for recovery.
Friday -- Recovery swim @ GISC w/ Michelle. Just swam long, easy sets with a 10x100 set (on 1:45) thrown on at the end, totaling 3200y.
Saturday -- CUBU masters swim @ AU w/ Dirk. The coach didn't show up so we had to alternate coaching with other swimmers. Put in 4x300 among other easier sets, with one of the 300s in 3:45, which Dirk proclaims is the fastest swum between us. Take that, Beastman! 3000y total.
Sunday -- Endurance swim @ GISC w/ Dirk. This was near the end of a long weekend and we agreed to take it easy on this swim. Main "set" was 4x300 around 1:20/100y pace, but I can't remember anything else we did. Still totaled 4000y.

Biking: 110 miles
Monday -- ILT on the trainer. 8 minutes on each leg in 30-second intervals. Felt fine, averaging around 180 watts per leg.
Wednesday -- Easy spin on the trainer, 45 minutes. Didn't want to do anything tough before Thursday's swim TT.
Thursday -- Easy spin on the trainer, 35 minutes. Was tired from the TT and a long day of swimming, so took it easy.
Friday -- Spin-ups on the trainer, 45 minutes total over 7 sets of spin-ups. Unfortunately I lost my Powertap info, so no power data!
Saturday -- Columbia ride with Dirk. We rode the Columbia course after a 30 minute jog, and I forgot how tough the course is! Inexplicably, I agreed to do it a second time... I got about 13k into the second go-round and decided to turn back. Too tough of a course to "just do" when you're not in the best bike shape, not to mention "just doing" it twice! Still, totaled 40 miles on a tough course, 213 watt average.
Sunday -- Long trainer ride w/ Dirk. We took it (er, I did, at least) easy on this ride after the Columbia challenge. Totaled 26 miles over 90 minutes, 145 watt average.

Running: 40 miles
Monday -- Trail run w/ tha boys. 8 miles.
Tuesday -- Solo run in neighborhood. 5 miles.
Wednesday -- Easy run around the track. 8 miles.
Saturday -- Columbia course run w/ Dirk. Took it easy with long bike ride ahead. Ran first and last 2 miles of the course. 4 miles.
Sunday -- Solo trail run. 6 miles.
Monday -- Trail run w/ tha boys. Ran some long hills. 9 miles.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hooray for chlorine

I swam the most this week that I ever have in one week. No wonder I always smell chlorine wherever I go. Good thing chlorine has a... er... bearable smell. But back to the yardage... it was a lot. Some days I felt really good, some days I felt like a sponge. But even when I felt spongy, I was able to put in some good times. That has me getting pretty confident about my swimming! I finally feel like I'm back in good bike shape after a couple weeks of drill rides and zone 2 rides. Now I can finally get to work on starting to get some speed back, or at least establish a good tempo pace. I also got in 35 miles running, which isn't bad. I'm excited to just run easy. I've had enough of fast running for a while.

Saturday, Nov. 27 - Sunday, Dec. 5 (9 swims, 5 rides, 4 runs)

SWIMMING: 27,946 yards
Saturday -- Endurance swim @ Wilson w/ Dirk. 50m pool. Main set of 2x400, 3x300, 3x200, 3x100 (neg. split first two, pull third), 4046y total. This was really tough and I was tired going into it. Paces were around 1:27/100m, which is pretty decent for me. Dirk was stronger on this day though.
Sunday -- @ GISC w/ Lucas McCollum and Michelle. Main set of 5x200 (on 3:00, 1:20/100y pace), 1x300 neg. split, 5x100 (on 1:30, 1:15/100y pace), 16x25 (on :30, 1:00/100y pace!), 3200y total. This was one of my best practices. Splitting the lane with Lucas helped. Fast triathlete, that I was able to keep up with him means he's either out of shape or I am really improving!
Monday -- CUBU Masters @ Prep w/ Dirk. Main set of 2x(2x300, 2x100, 2x50, 2x25, 1:20/100y pace), 6x75 kick (easy-fast-easy), 5x100 (on 1:40), 2x100 (on 1:30), 4000y total. I felt pretty bad in this swim. Went out too fast in the first part of the set and paid for it!
Tuesday -- Solo @ GISC. Main set of 3x(200 pull, 3x50 descend), 1x800(odds easy, evens build, finished just under 11:30), 3500y total. Did this during lunch break. Felt better than Monday, but I took it easy for half of the workout. The 800 was pleasantly comfortable and fast, for half of it being easy.
Wednesday -- Solo @ GISC. Main set of 8x400 pull, 3200y total. Simple! I just wanted to FLUSH OUT THE JUNK!
Thursday -- Solo @ GISC. Main set of 12x50 (dist./stroke odds, build evens), 5x(150, 100, 50, 1:20/100y pace), 4000y total. Another solo swim... thanks to a fanged deer that nearly killed Michelle. Swimming alone is tough but I did fine the past 3 days. Felt good!
Friday -- Force swim @ GISC w/ a scabby Michelle. Main set of 2x300 pull, 6x50 fast, 2x300 pull, 6x50 fast, 2x300 pull, 3600y total. The fast 50s were around 1:12/100y pace for each. Good to have Michelle back.
Saturday -- Snapple clinic @ W&L pool. Mainly drills, around 1200y total. Later in PM, swam @ GISC, 5x300 pull to get some yards in, 2700y on the day. I learned a few important but easily applicable improvements from Chip Berry, who had the fastest swim split at Nation's a couple years ago.
Sunday -- Muscular endurance @ GISC w/ Lucas and Michelle. Main set of 6x100 (:20 RI, 1:15/100y pace), 6x75 (:20 RI, 1:13/100y pace), 6x50 (: 20 RI, 1:10/100y pace), 6x25 (:20 RI, 1:00/100y pace), 3200y total. This was an AWESOME swim! Splitting the lane with Lucas again helped. We were able to really pick up the pace in each interval. 1:15 felt really good... felt tempo-like!

BIKING: ~100 miles total
Saturday -- Hilly 22.5 mile ride w/ Dirk on his Beach Drive hill loop. It was very cold and windy, and was pretty darn tired from ILT the day before and the swim at Wilson prior to this. Averaged 190 watts.
Monday -- ILT on the trainer, 9 minutes on each leg. Day off on from cycling on Sunday helped, I felt better.
Wednesday -- 15-mile zone 2 ride on the trainer. Felt average. 166 watt average.
Friday -- 15-mile zone 2 ride on the trainer. Same as Wednesday. 165 watt average.
Sunday -- 36-mile zone 1-2 recovery ride on the trainer. Felt a little weak for the first hour, was able to pick it up for the second half. 162 watt average.

Running: 35 miles
Wednesday -- 8 mile run on the Wootton track. I can't say I took it easy, averaged around 6:30/mile for 6 miles.
Friday -- 6 mile easy run around neighborhood trails after my trainer ride.
Saturday -- 15 mile trail run with Scott and Steve. Run ended up being quite a bit longer than planned, but it felt just fine. Only issue was my right hip which began to ache a little with all the hill climbing.
Sunday -- 6 mile easy run after my long trainer ride around neighborhood trails.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Farewell for now, running!

With Veteran's Day behind me, I have no more peak races or anything immediate that I am training for. That means I can ease off the running and really work on continuing to progress in my swimming and biking. My running schedule for the next month or so will look something like 1-2 recovery runs, .5-1 track workout, 1 long run (10+ miles). The half track workout will accommodate Wednesday PM masters swim practice. This should hold through the end of December, when I still start incorporating more tempo/fartlek work.

I'm inspired by Dirk's new method of workout logging...

Friday, Nov. 19 - Friday, Nov. 26 (20.5k yards swim, 150km cycle, 16 miles run)

SWIMMING: 20,500y total
Saturday -- Endurance solo, main set of 2x200 tempo, 100 sprint, 2x300 tempo, 100 sprint, 2x400 tempo, 100 sprint (1:15-1:20 pace between sprints tempo), 3400y total.
Sunday -- Endurance w/ Michelle, main set of 8x150 2-2-2-2 descend, 8x100 2-2-2-2 descend, 8x50 2-2-2-2 descend (1:25/1:19, 1:25/1:18, 1:19/1:14 paces), 3200y total.
Monday -- Masters w/ Dirk, main set of 6x (100 on 1:20 {1:12 avg. pace}, 50 kick on 1:20 {:50 avg}), 500 (50 easy, 75 build), 3600y total.
Tuesday -- Endurance (form) w/ Michelle, main set of 4x50 R/L arms, 1x300 neg. split, 4x50 fingertip, 1x300 neg. split, 4x50 catchup, 2x300 neg. split, 3400y total.
Wednesday -- Masters w/ Dirk, main set of 500 all out (1:13 avg. pace), 200 easy, 400 all out (1:12 avg. pace), 200 easy, 300 all out (1:10 avg. pace), 200 easy, 200 all out (1:08 avg. pace!!), 3400y total. This was probably the toughest and fastest workout I've ever done. Dirk and I really pushed each other hard in this workout and swam some fast times between us.
Friday -- Endurance w/ Michelle, main set of 4x150 easy (1:26 pace), 200 kick fast, 4x150 moderate (1:22 pace), 200 kick moderate, 4x150 fast (1:18 pace), 200 kick easy, 3500y total.

Biking: 150km total
Friday -- Power test on the trainer. I averaged 240 watts over 30 minutes. Not great, but it's a good starting point, considering I wasn't in great bike shape at this point. Needed a guide for my training, though.
Saturday -- 40k with Dirk on the MacArthur loop. Was tired from power test and relaxed. Didn't keep track of time.
Sunday -- 24 miles with Dirk on Beach Drive. Was supposed to be an easy ride, but me on road bike, Dirk on TT bike, add in a challenger in full racing gear along the way, and that easy ride turned into a tempo ride. 216 watt avg, including a 700 watt surge up a hill.
Thursday -- Didn't cycle after Sunday because of fatigue from busy weekend and trying to get into some sort of shape for Turkey Chase 10k. Just cycled 53 minutes on the trainer at zone 2, 142 watt avg.

Running: 16 miles total
Tuesday -- Trails w/ Scott. Easy, around 8 miles, a sort of tuneup for Turkey Chase since I hadn't run since the previous Wednesday's track workout.
Thursday -- Turkey Chase 10k. 21st place, 34:48. Race report coming.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Belated: Veteran's Day 10k race report

This is VERY late, but I finally brought myself to writing a race report for what I expected to be my grand finale of a solid/breakthrough year of racing.

Well, that didn't happen! I came in with a goal of sub-33:00, and thanks to RED FOX Jake T. Klim (the T stands for "The), I had developed some good speed that should have translated to a sub-33. I felt pretty good on race morning, and on the warmup my legs felt pretty fresh! I had tapered a little for this, so I thought I was good to go.

The race started and I stuck around Chris Sloane, who is in better shape than me, but was going for a similar goal... sub-33, but a little faster. I felt great for the first 3.15 miles, right on 16:30 pace, right where I wanted to be.

Then quickly, VERY quickly, things fell apart. I felt a strong ache suddenly in my back going through the turnaround, and suddenly I had trouble breathing. I felt a big knot form in my upper-left back and it hurt like heck! I had to adjust my stride and arm movement to make up for it, and couldn't find a comfortable way to stand... I sort of arched my back and held my head back, but that got painful too, and was reduced to wiggling my body in different ways to try and
find the most comfortable position. The breathing was the worst part, as I started wheezing and only taking in half-lungfuls of air. My time started slipping, as each mile got slower and my per-mile average fell to 5:29 by the 6 mile marker.

Nothing I could do... I felt pretty helpless. My legs begged to go FASTER but my lungs and upper body wanted none of it. I essentially tempoed to the finish in 34:06, a second SLOWER than my PR, which I achieved on the same course last year.

I was pretty dejected for some time after this race. I trained hard and the training went well. The back problem is no longer bothering me, as I found the way I sit up at work may be behind it (I had similar but less painful aches at work in the same area leading up to the race). But I feel I wasted weeks of good training, and missed my chance at a 10k PR in 2011.

2 weeks later, I've been able to put it into perspective and realize that it's JUST a PR. I put in the work and was on the right track. I just need to re-rail myself and focus on my training. I've been swimming a lot and it's going very well, same with biking. I'll just keep that up and focus on the future... namely Cherry Blossom 10-miler and Columbia!


Ouch! When is this over?

Photos courtesy of Charlie Ban, who has a sweet bike.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cardinal 5k and Weekend

I ran the Cardinal 5k as a tuneup for this Sunday's race, and it went all right. I went out a bit fast, 4:50, as it was downhill and flat for the whole first mile. It felt fine then, but it was too fast. I died off a bit on the hills for the second half and lost my 3rd place position to Jason Dwyer, a former GRCer, late in the race. I felt like I had plenty left in the tank... but this wasn't the time to utilize those resources. Finished 4th overall, 16:32. Time wasn't pretty, but I've run slower on flat courses and this was actually quite a bit hillier than I expected. Most of all, I left the race without soreness or fatigue... I felt like I put in a workout and realized again my thirst for competition. I also ended up beating a guy by 15 seconds who is a mid-15 road 5ker and a low-33 10ker. I think that indicates my fitness is not an issue! I just need to be smart on race day and BE CONTROLLED!!! As Jake said, the best times at Hain's Point come to those who go out conservative. That'll be the name of the game on Sunday... go out in 16:30 or 16:35 and work hard the second 5k for a sub-33.

Later in the day I rode with Michelle for about 21.5 miles, half easy, half tempo effort (with a tough hilly portion). It was cold but the hills warmed us up.

Sunday I swam 2000y with Michelle at GISC with a 1000 @ tempo effort, followed by some drills and easy strokes. I headed to Silver Spring to meet up with Dirk for a ride, but a broken spoke and fear of cold (kidding!) was enough for Dirk to suggest we watch the NY Marathon instead. After watching my favorite, Tatyana Pushkareva, fall back, I stopped really caring. After the leaders finished, we went to Wilson, where I swam 3200m (1000m total warmup, 10x100 (1:40), 5x100 (1:35), 700 total cooldown). My arms felt tired and sore afterward, but I can attribute that to taking a break between swims that was probably too short. Or maybe it's from swimming about 5000m on the day....

This week is about tapering. Last real race of the year for me and one I've been waiting for since December 13th of last year, so I'll be sure to be rested.

The cookies are in the jar (corn in the silo too...) and it's time to eat.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Focusing on running

Tomorrow is the Cardinal 5K, and I'll be racing in it. I'm viewing it as a tune-up race that I have a chance to win. I'll of course go for a PR if possible, but I'm not sure what I can do at this point on a hilly 5k... so my focus will be going hard but NOT emptying the tanks. That time will come next weekend. For now I'll just enjoy the race and competition and get my mind in the right place for Veteran's Day 10k. My left hamstring is a little TENDER so I'll listen to it carefully.

Training the past 2 weeks haven't been much to write home (or blog) about, as it's mainly maintaining swim fitness while trying to get faster for the 10k next weekend. Biking has taken a backsaddle and is mostly consists of isolated leg, spinups and 60-90 minute easy (one tempo) rides with Michelle mainly as a recovery mechanism for my running. But yeah, it's been mainly about the run. I've done a long run every weekend for the past 4 weeks, a Wednesday track attack and a Friday hill or tempo/progression run. These are my last couple of weeks of hard run training before I back off a la Dirk and pound the bike and swim for the coming several months.

My track workouts have been awesome. I have to thank Jake for coming out to each workout just to shout out times and go over strategy with me, that kind of help can't be appreciated enough. And except for my first workout in early October (4xmile), my workouts have gone nearly flawlessly. So his workouts + encouragement have helped me reach a pretty good level of fitness that I think will push me to a sub-33 10k. I'm confident in that!

Last week I did 6x1200, negative splits (cutting from 3:56 down to 3:48, all under my expected 10k pace), and it felt solid. This week I did 12x400 (:75, :74, :73, :72, :71, :71, :70, :70, :69, :68, :66, :67), starting at 5:00 pace and ending around 4:24 pace. It's nice to see I have speed... that'll help me when I need to pick up the pace or am getting tired.

I guess most of all, I'm finding that my pacing is really coming along well. I can race smart, but I often go out too fast, both in races and workouts, as Dirk is quick to remind me. But the past several track workouts I've started out slower and ended up with negative splits. That's really encouraging to me! It's how I want to race. Jake's wisdom plus being able to get back out there with the team at B-CC has been a key to my most recent growth spurt as a runner. Now I just need to show what I've learned on race day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken Tender vs. Beastman

Workouts since Friday:

Friday 10/22 -- Hill workout at Black Hills Regional park with Michelle. Long winding uphills, about .21 miles long, something like that. Ran around 10k pace for each, and it was really hard. By the last one, my legs were wobbling like bowling pins that were struck lightly by a heavy ball.

Saturday 10/23 -- Swam with Michelle and Dirk, around 3000y with a main set of 4x300 descend (4:25, 4:18, 4:10, 4:05), didn't feel great but it got better as the swim progressed. Michelle had her longest swim since starting up again. Biked with Dirk afterward for about 40k in the hilly farmy-lands, shakeout ride with some hill power climbs.

Sunday 10/24 -- Ran long in the morning with Michelle at a very memorable place for me... Greenway trail heading south after Riffleford Road. Way back when, I ran a marathon (28.5 miles) on this trail, after a month of "training". I finished the dang thing and got 9th, but that's a testament to the lack of competition more than anything else! Anyway, in this portion of trail, my good pal Scotty Koonce tore away from me as I struggled to keep up. That's where I met that flannel-wearing goon. And had the most sufferfestacular run/race of my life. Ah, memories. And a primary reason I am boycotting marathon racing. For a long time. Michelle and I ran there, 90 minutes, and it went much better this time. She fell down like 503 times though. In the afternoon I rode a 40k MacArthur/Falls/Oaklyn route with Dirk, going hard and heavy, averaging nearly 23.5 mph, while outputting around 250 watts average during each lead (paceline with alternating 2 mile leads, the usual). I was a little tired at first but woke up halfway through and averaged over 25 mph for the last 10k. We reminisced on how just earlier this year, I was amazed that I could average 22 mph barely hanging onto Dirk's wheel. It's nice to improve.

Monday 10/25 -- Lifted some weights and biked nice and easy with Michelle. Had a good Columbia chat. Met Dirk later for a Prep CUBU masters swim. Main sets of 8x125 and a block of 4x100 on 1:35, 4x100 descend (starting at 1:20) and 2x100 VO2 max effort. We did the descends in under 1:16 for the last 3. On the 2x100, I hit 1:09 and 1:09!! That must be my fastest 100y swim ever. No blocks or flipturns either. Not bad. Dirk hit 1:12 and 1:12 for both, leading to disappointment on his part for not beating me and my colorful swim suit -- maybe next time, Beastman. We both swam pretty darn fast though (for us). Total of 3700y or so.

Our battle in the water. I was Godzilla this time. Dirk was the crab. Accurate representation.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I just discovered Megadeth and I wonder why I never discovered it before. I remember renting an album from the library when I was a mere Nugget but wasn't pleased. I don't know why. But I by chance listened to Symphony of Destruction this morning, and I was thoroughly impressed. I started listening to it and I instantly thought of my next workout, hills this afternoon. Any song that brings out the fury or makes me look forward to PAIN is what I put on my music player. Welcome, Megadeth.

I had a good track workout Wednesday evening... one that a wise Fox assigned to me, 6x1600 (4 at 10k pace, 2 at cutdown). It sounded tough and boy, wow, it was. I ran with new teammate Ryan Hanson, who is getting back into the swing of things (and blast it, another guy whose "getting back into it" pace is my race pace... BLAST!!), and he hung onto my shoulder for the miles. I was supposed to start cutting down at mile 5, but my legs weren't listening... I cut down by 3 seconds on #3. I wasn't thinking of it... just letting my legs do the work. They wanted to go faster and I couldn't stop them! Thanks to that I was pretty tired after #5, so Jake had me barrel through the last one as an 800, starting with a 70-second 400. Splits were 5:17, 5:16, 5:13, 5:11, 5:09, 2:22.

I'm happy enough with those splits, and pleased I stuck to pace for the first two. I felt after the first one that if I had not stopped, I could have kept that pace for a long time. 6.2 miles? Maybe! It felt good though and I hit it on the first try, which is what I need to master. Nice to see I could cut down to 5:09 at mile 5, and put in 71s for the last 800 (that seemed to simulate the pain I'll feel at mile 6).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wow, I really like swimming

Yeah, I do. I look forward to both masters workouts with Dirk and GISC swims with Michelle. It's better to be able to swim with friends/training partners, but I'm finding a ton of enjoyment in swimming in general. I view it as a sport by itself now, not just a part of a triathlon... I now want to become a good swimmer, not simply a good triathlete. That can only help my triathlon training and racing... respecting each leg as an individual sport, and putting them together on race day.

Past few swim workouts have been indicators of my swimming fitness. At the last masters workout on Monday, Dirk and I without fail broke 1:20/100y pace on every rep. On a set of 10x125s with me leading, we hit 1:18-1:20, with Dirk getting 1:16 and faster on the last couple. When Dirk led a later set with 100s, we again went sub 1:20, with me hitting 1:16s toward the end. To be able to do this consistently is huge. That used to be my fastest pace, 1:20.

That's a sub-22 1500m pace. If I can hit 21:30 or better at Columbia, it'll put me in a great position to keep with the leaders on the bike, setting me up nicely for a run that favors a hill lover like myself. I'm keeping this scenario in mind as I swim. I'd really like to make it happen.

My top-end speed is getting up there too, as I sprinted sub-:35 on a 6x50 set for all 6 (hit :32 on the last one) on Tuesday, 10 hours after the aforementioned Masters swim.

I'm a little surprised at my development, because I stalled for several months in my development over the late spring and summer. Getting one little hint about my form however seemed to make a GIGANTIC difference, as my stroke count has dropped by 4+ strokes per 25y, thanks to Frank with Curl Burke. Since then my times have dropped and swimming suddenly is fun and RELAXING, even when I'm pushing hard.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

800s and more 800s

I checked my Krazy for Kittens calendar (that I'm using for my 10k training schedule) yesterday morning and I saw something I sort of dreaded. 10x800 w/ 300m recoveries as the track workout for Wednesday evening. That dastardly Red Fox was either trying to kill me or committed an act of running genius. I decided to accept both as reasons why he scheduled me to do this workout, he has mentioned before he wants to beat me up and he has extended help in trying to get me to 32:45 for Vet's Day 10k. Workout called for a cutdown, with the first 5 800s at 10k pace or so (2:38-40) and cut down the last 5. Start easier, get faster. 300m recoveries, which is a change from my usual 400m.

Mile warmup, started out behind Jordan to get in the 10k pace. We ran the first one a little slow, in the low 2:40s, and I broke off as I had shorter recoveries than the group. I ran pretty balanced, considering I was doing it alone!

My splits were 2:42, 2:35, 2:36, 2:37, 2:36, 2:32, 2:33, 2:30, 2:30, 2:28. So I stayed right on target, more or less, with the first 5 and cut down well with the last 5. I probably went a little fast on the last one, but I had to cut down... not cut up!

Anyway, a big confidence builder, as I felt very strong, and the last 3, although my stomach felt a little funny, did not feel forced. It felt almost as if my legs were carrying me to those times. I just went with it, and it turned out all right! A 32:45 at Vet's Day doesn't seem too unfathomable now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cape Henlopen Duathlon

Michelle and I bombed laterally to Lewes, DE to compete in both of our last multisport race of the year, the Cape Henlopen Duathlon. I did the triathlon last year with typical 2009 results... mediocre swim, mediocre bike, satisfactory run. What would a 2010 foray at Cape Henlopen bring?!?! Well, I hope better results!

Note, night before Michelle and I stayed at the house of one of the most powerful cyclists I know, Paul, and we had quite possibly the best pre-race meal ever: A huge steaming pot of slop. It had brown rice, potatoes, chicken, different kinds of beans, spinach and mushrooms, and probably more stuff that I don't remember. It was an awesome meal.

Race morning, good weather, a little chilly, which is good for a duathlon. Don't want to get too hot, right? Right. Porta-potty evacuation went well, except for the one potty that everyone avoided because someone went all over the seat. Come on, people. I lined up with Michelle and Erik Reitinger, who finished a spot in front of me at that weird Doylestown Duathlon. Pleasantries exchanged and memories conjured, it was time to race!

Run 1 had me out in front, running 5:15 average for 1.5 miles, and it felt comfortable. Had Erik and James Braconnier right behind me, but I took an extra step to get into T1 first and have the fastest Run 1 on the day.

I also had the fastest T1, so I was out on the bike first. That didn't last. Erik, a far superior biker, charged ahead and I fumbled with my shoes on the bike. I let him get about 50 metersahead and that was a mistake. I ended up getting further and further behind as the ride went on. However, I was getting further and further AHEAD of everyone else. From 2 miles in, I never saw anyone behind me. I did see Erik in front of me until the last 3 miles, when he built up his 2 minute lead into T2. I averaged 23.5 mph and 4th fastest split, decent pace considering I was alone and there was a noticeable headwind. Racked 002 and started the run.

However, it was a weird run. Erik was 2 minutes ahead of me, and I knew he wasn't much slower than me... at the same time I was at least 90 seconds ahead of the guy behind me. I decided to put in a hard run but not kill myself and risk injury... I'd have to kill myself to catch Erik, so I put in 5:45 pace for 5k and finished 2nd overall (fastest 5k run time also)! In the money too, $100, my first multisport cash prize. Cool!

Michelle flatted out of T1 and took way too long to change her tire, but she put in a mighty 22 mph (effortless, she says) and passed Leslie Randall, who was leading thanks to Michelle's bike mishap, at mile 1 of the run... and CRUSHED her, along with many male souls as she cruised past them on the run to put in the 4th best run split in the race, coming in at an (inaccurate) 18th overall... if she had those 5-7 minutes back she'd be top 6. Scary. 1st female and $150 to the lady with the pigtails.

I think that was a great way to end the season for both of us. For me, I am incredibly anxious to pound away on the bike this winter and not get bashed on the bike anymore as I was by Erik at this race. I'm looking to make 24.5-25 mph a reality during this offseason.

FURIOUS FIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

One more race

This weekend is my last multisport race of the year and a venue I raced at last year, at Cape Henlopen in Delaware. I did the triathlon last year but I'm doing the duathlon this year, as I didn't really like the way the tri is set up and I just want to get in one last duathlon before the year is over.

So Saturday, Michelle and I will BOMB down to Lewes and attempt to go for the double win. I'll have stiff competition in Erik Reitinger, who beat me at Doylestown. This time though I'll make it a closer race by NOT falling off my bike (yeah... that wasn't pretty). It'll be a fun and quick race, and hopefully I'll come out with a win or podium! We accept the challenge!!!!!!!

Good luck to my teammates at Chicago. They've been working really hard for this and I'm sure they'll all be able to really show the fruits of their training.

It'll be a weekend of storming the roads of Lewes and Chicago. Sort of like this:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Time to run!

I made a return to the track for my first hard running workout since a week out from Nation's in early September. For those who've had to hear my complaining, my running has NOT been in form for a little while now. On all my easy runs I've felt stiff and overall not relaxed. I've been running like Godzilla:

I do fine after tapering, but unlike my biking and swimming, my running just hasn't been great. I want to consistently feel happy with my running. However, last night on a run with THA BOYZ, I felt amazingly loose and limber... I haven't felt that good in a while. I hoped it would continue into the workout tonight, 4x1600 at MCRRC's practice.

My goal was cutting down, 5:20, 5:17, 5:14, 5:10 -- my first step toward my goal of 32:45 at Veteran's Day 10k in November. Jordan and the rest were doing 10x400, so I was pretty much alone, save for one lap with them each rep.

I ended up having one of my best mile repeat workouts ever!! I didn't quite follow the cutdown plan as I ran 5:10, 5:15, 5:07, 5:05! I wish I had been a little more consistent and didn't drop to 5:15 on the second, but I had no one in front of me for any of that one. Still, finishing sub-5:10 on the last two and still feeling VERY strong, definitely made me feel pretty good. I don't think I've run that well, being in that much control, in a good while.

I felt neither stiff nor tired. Just the opposite. I'm feeling in surprisingly great running shape, and the confidence in my running has returned. I'm ready to push my limits again in my quest for 32:45.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Myrtle Beach race report

My 2nd racing season of 2010 is coming to a close... a strong success at Nation's, a more-or-less fail at Philly (which reminds me, I'm way overdue with a race report), what would Myrtle Beach bring?

Not much, actually. Turned out to be a really weird race. The water was FULL of E. Coli so the race director cancelled the swim on race morning, replacing it with a 100m dash from the swim exit to transition, with racers starting randomly in line 5 seconds apart. I was really mad about the swim being cancelled. I've gotten faster and really wanted to show it.

So it became... hmm... not a duathlon... er.... uh, I don't know what to call it. It was a bike and run in time trial style. For now, until USAT decides on a name for this kind of race, we'll just call it a TTathlon.

Uh oh, time trial. My last time trial at Church Creek was a disaster. Hopefully I can produce something better on the bike this time around. Myself, Dirk, Andy Blatecky and Patrick Serfass started together near the back of the line so that we could try to stick together on the bike. I got out there with Blatecky and Serfass caught up soon after and they started riding away from
me. Where's Dirk? Turns out he had a minor problem and had to delay his bike leg for 15 seconds to repair the headset on his bike. I only saw him at turn-arounds, meaning that I was pretty much alone for the duration of the bike. Too bad, I bet both Dirk and I could have gone faster if we were riding side by side.

It was a tough ride. 12-15 mph headwind with gusts, along highway with very few hills, but a ton of false flats. Not ideal for a non-power cyclist like myself. The tailwinds were on the slight downhills and the headwinds were on the slight ups, which isn't ideal either. Still, I sallied forth, passing a ton of people who started in front of me, and didn't get passed, save by Blatecky and Serfass at the beginning. I decided early on I needed to really pedal hard to keep up and at the same time I wanted to see what kind of speed I could produce on a difficult course like that, so I went for it. Averaged 24.2 mph, 8th overall bike, only 3 seconds slower than Dirk, which is a benchmark for me.

I hopped off the bike in transition and CRAP, my legs were tired. Too much exerted on the bike. I struggled through the first 2 miles and wasn't able to take down water... I could have if I aimed the cups toward my mouth. Oops. Dehydration set in... and my pace slowed. 4 miles in I was suffering. I managed to pick up the pace for the last mile, but too little, too slow, too late. I put forth a MISERABLE time averaging over 6:30/mile, and the 5th overall run split. Ugh. How shameful!

I came in 5th overall, 4th male. Cool thing is that Dirk won and DC Tri swept the podium... Dirk 1st, Serfass 2nd, Blatecky 3rd, myself 4th! Great day for the club. Not sure who that girl is who beat me, but she was a force on the bike. I'm still shocked about that. I've never seen a female be that powerful in those conditions. It was something else.

What do I take from this race? Well I'm REALLY happy with my bike. I felt pretty good and my speed was great in the conditions... being on the same level as Dirk has been a goal of mine. I just need to work on my muscular endurance this winter and make that speed feel easier for the run. My run was awful, but I can fix that with more bricks and biking. This wasn't my peak race, but I expect better of myself on the run. A lot better.

But I'm done with TTathlons. No more, please.

This weekend is Cape Henlopen duathlon. A good fun race to end the season. Then it's back to training for Columbia.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nation's Race Report

The day had finally arrived! Nations Triathlon. It was a rainy and cool Sunday morning... early, too. My father kindly drove Dirk and myself to transition around 5:30. My day got off to an auspicious start as upon leaving the car I realized I forgot my aero drink bottle at home. Crap. Now I have no means of hydrating as I took the frame cage off the day before. Luckily Robbie had an extra cage for me... I had a bottle with me that I was using to transfer HEED to the aero bottle. So I dodged a bullet there. Besides, it probably helped Robbie to shave 20 ounces off his bike... as you'll find out later!

After soaking in the rain and evacuating at the porta-potty, it was race time! I met up with Derek Stone, the guy who beat me at the Washington, DC sprint triathlon in June. It was good to see him again. I could try to get a little revenge because he CRUSHED me at the June race. Ihad some extra incentive now.

The swim was ROUGH. I got right into a crowd by mistake and was kicked in the face and pulled under several times. It made it hard to keep momentum or a good consistent stroke. I eventually found a straightaway for about 400 yards when I went untouched... came in at 23:12,
a 44-second PR and 122nd best swim, but not as fast as I hoped.

A long run through transition and I grabbed 002 and headed out. Hopped
onto my pre-clipped in shoes and had a startling revelation... my shoes were on the wrong pedals!! OH NO! I carelessly put my right shoe into the left pedal and left shoe into the right pedal! DANG! But nothing I could do. I had to keep going. I strapped my feet in and though it felt awkward, I started pedaling and began to get used to it. I rode with a good group of 3-4 and picked up some cyclists along the way. It was a lot of fun! It was wet but FAST. Ended up putting in the best bike split of my life... 62 minute 40k, right about 24 mph, 72nd overall bike, exceeding my goal of 63-64 minutes. A huge confidence boost mid-race. Hopped off 002 and it was time to RUN!

I got out of transition brimming with confidence. It was time to catch my rivals. I hadn't seen the DC Tri racers all race because of my slower swim... but around mile 1 I saw Blatecky, Serfass and Schmidt. I gave some words of support but deep down I told them I was going to try to catch them. Around mile 2 however, after putting in a couple 5:40s, I tired a bit. I was alone for a stretch and started to get hot. I pulled down my tri top and felt a little better. Around the turn at Hain's Point I caught sight of Blatecky... it was time to catch him. I pulled within 10 meters and did something stupid. I told myself to be patient... I was going to catch him. I wasn't thinking ahead. I was only thinking of Blatecky. When I finally moved past him, I noticed Serfass and Schmidt were further ahead than I anticipated. I felt I could catch them still, but I needed more speed now... I felt invigorated and picked my pace up to 5:35s. I drew closer and closer, crossing the bridge out of Hains Point. But I was running out of road. The finish line was much closer than I thought it would be. Serfass glanced back at me and gave it what he had left... and I couldn't finish the job, finishing 6 seconds off of him. Still, an excellent run for me, an in-triathlon PR of 35:22 and the 12th best run on the day!

Final time: 2:05:04!! A 10 minute PR! And 12th elite.... until I found I was docked for a 2:00 penalty for "blocking". Apparently I stuck to the left side of the road for a little too long. Stupid penalty. So I got reduced to a 2:07:04, 26th overall. Still, that was my goal for the day and my placement goal was exceeded (I wanted top 40, got top 30!). I ended up beating some of my targeted competition (including Derek, who admittedly though wasn't in the best shape for biking or swimming... dude is a sub 4:10 miler!).

I am very happy about this race. Everything went right except for the shoes and penalty. The training paid off big time... special thanks to Michelle and Dirk for being awesome training partners through it all! Huge motivation boost going into the offseason. And I'm very grateful to Dean Pierson, who lent me his rear Zipp 404... that's a fast wheel and I bet it helped on those flat roads (he did well for himself, 2nd in his age group and under 2:15:00!) Shout out to Robbie, who WON the race and Dirk, who placed 7th overall and swam very very well. Well done guys!

Up next, Philly Distance Run!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunday approaches

As my hairless legs cut through the days of the current week, I have found myself thinking of the past and future, to remove myself from the present. I'm waiting for Nation's Triathlon, this Sunday. But the days leading up to a key race are often dull and full of anxiety. Am I ready? Have I trained enough and to the proper capacity? Taper week isn't easy. I can barely train as any training I do will have no real positive impact on race day.

So I find myself thinking about every workout since Columbia. I remember the successes... the bricks where I biked at least 24 mph and ran 17-minute 5ks (on 10k pace). The intervals and time trials where I pushed new speed records. The track workouts where I consistently ran faster than I ever have before. The swims where I improved by a second or two over 100 yards. Those encourage me. There are the failures too. Last Tuesday's brick, where I couldn't find the energy to run. The Church Creek TT, where I suffered badly. The Midsummer's Mile. Worst part about those were they were races. It troubles me... what if I just can't perform under pressure on race day?

I did well at Columbia though... and I had similar feelings going into it... and despite factors I couldn't help (rain, flat tire), I had a breakthrough race. I've improved significantly in all three sports since then. I should be confident, right? I am... but I am pretty nervous too. Church Creek still weighs heavily on me even though Michelle and Dirk will point out that I was hurt, dehydrated, etc. I'm just worried I'll feel the same pain I felt at Church Creek and collapse. I can't have that happen!

Anyway, my week has been going according to plan despite my uneasiness. I rode and swam yesterday. Biked 4x90 seconds @ race pace, and put in some fast 26+ mph speeds with a strong headwind. Good... I'm resting up! The swim was hard right after the bike, but I still put in 16x50 at 40 seconds with a 400 warmup. Tomorrow I sharpen my run and guide Michelle through a progression run on my bike.

The base goal: Sub 2:08 (23:00 1.5k swim, 1:03:30 40k bike, 36:00 10k run) More to come as race day approaches. Nations, you are next!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Leg shave


Right leg has been shaven.

Left leg has been shaven.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Return to B-CC

The last time I ran with the team at B-CC HS track... it was cold outside. That was a long time ago! Training has not really allowed me to go back to B-CC, but now that I'm back up to speed, running-wise, it's just not really fun or helpful to run by more or less by myself at MCRRC. Getting back to the group where I'm among the slowest is what will really help me progress further.

I proposed the workout and fortunately people agreed! 4x800 @5k pace followed by 1x3200 @ 10k pace. I was looking to hit 2:30s for the 800s for a 5:00 pace, and 5:17-27 for the 3200 to match my desired 10k pace. I ran mainly with a group comprised of PMurph, Dirk, Jimmy, Mike C and at times Ian... the faster group of Charlie, Dickson and Karl were moving a little too hot for me... I just need to establish my known paces, not push it too much.

I ran 2:26, 2:25, 2:29, 2:26 for the 800s and around 10:30 for the 2 mile, all a little fast but not too far off from my desired paces. I'd say the 2 mile felt the best... just as it should. I should be able to hold that for 10k, and while I definitely can't hold that pace in a triathlon, it's a good indicator that I'll be in good shape come Veteran's Day in November.

Anyway, it was good to be back out with the team and run some good splits!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcome back, hamstrings

So Saturday I pulled something in my right hammy and planned to take it easy for the following several days. But today I felt strangely fresh. No pain or tightness in either hamstring and legs felt flexible. I had a brick scheduled for today, and I now had no excuse not to do it! Hour ride with 3-4 5k race efforts, followed by a 5k run at 10k pace.

The ride started out tough... it was hard to get my cadence up right away, and my legs felt sort of fatigued from Saturday's race. The pickups though felt better and better with each 5k. I had a 10-12 mph headwind and variable sprinkles so I was slowed up a little bit trying to take turns carefully and fighting off the wind. Legs weren't as quick to react to climbs either, but I still put in some good speeds for 4x5k (23.9, 23.2, 23.9, 23.7 mph), totalling an hour for the ride. Most importantly, NO hamstring pulling or tightness. On the contrary, I loosened up as the ride went on.

I stuffed 002 into the car, put on socks and my trainers and set off for the run on a downhill out/uphill back 5k. I felt amazingly strong, considering how little I've run recently and my hamstring issues (which again, were not apparent!). I put in the first 2 miles, downhill and flat in 5:23 and 5:27, which would be a little faster than my planned 10k pace at Nation's. The last mile was uphill and didn't slow down dramatically, 5:46, finishing around 17:10 for 5k! And I felt GREAT. Like I had another 5k in me... Exactly how I had hoped.

In all, one of my best bricks of the year. Funny how the body works. 2 days ago I left myself for dead... and then I put in one of my better workouts, as if I had been fully recovered leading up to it.

Oh, I swam yesterday, 3x1300, steady state swim, and felt smooth and powerful. My strokes were long and relaxed. 1:23/100y pace. It's all coming together nicely.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


It doesn't really pain me to write this post as my hamstring really doesn't hurt anymore, but it sure did yesterday at a crucial time.

I raced in the Church Creek time trial, a flat 40k near Cambridge, MD. I came in hoping for an average speed of over 24 mph, which was a reasonable goal considering I achieved a speed of 24.1 mph on a hilly 20k time trial a few weeks ago and a 23.9 mph at tempo pace on a half hilly/flat course last weekend. What could an all flat course mean for me? I felt decent enough going into the race except for a tight pair of hamstrings brought about by wearing decrepit shoes on a 60 minute run (followed by 2 miles @ 5:40 pace). They didn't hurt much, but they were a bit sensitive to intense activity. I didn't feel anything during Tuesday's 6-minute all-out TT except for a little pull at the end. I thought I was clear for Church Creek.

About 18k into the TT, almost halfway, I was doing well... averaging a little over 24 mph with a headwind... when suddenly (and fortunately not LITERALLY) the wheels fell off. I felt an instant pull in my right hammy and a dull pain followed. Almost immediately I started losing power from that leg as a natural reaction to feeling pain. My speedometer sank from around 24 mph to 22-23. I knew this was bad... on a flat road there are no chances to recover... you have to keep pedaling. My average speed over the next several miles dropped. Once I hit the "turnaround", where the loop course changes direction and goes with the wind, my speed increased... but not as much as it should have under the conditions (flat road + tailwind = 25-26 mph!)... I got up to 24 on the speedometer, but that didn't last long as dehydration set in... goshdang!!

I started struggling again and the hammy pain didn't go away. I started pedaling with one leg... just like I do in my training for dominant-leg workouts. BAAAD sign. I got passed by someone and normally I would LOVE the challenge and fight back, but I didn't have the power to do so. I just wanted to get to the finish at this point. I used the last of my HEED 6 miles from the finish and I started panting from the lack of hydration. I struggled some more and FINALLY reached the finish line in 1:04:18, an average speed of 23.2 mph.

Well, it sucked. I hated the ride from 18km to 40km. Still, somehow, I PR'ed for 40k. Not sure how, but I guess it's an indication of my improvement over last year. So I'm happy that even on my worst ride, I still can average over 23 mph. That's a good way to look at it, huh? On another positive note, my hamstring doesn't hurt anymore. But I'm going to be careful over the next few days.

The performance of maybe the year goes to Michelle, whose blog is linked here (and in my blog list), she utterly crushed souls (and nearly mine) there, rocketing to a 1:04:35 and a 23.1 mph average placing second in her category and beating plenty of guys and gals at higher levels. She was healthy and went ALL OUT to get an epic time. This coming from a part-time duathlete and a cyclist with only duathlon/triathlon bike training experience. Looking forward to seeing her beat down on some roadies and make a strong return to duathlons.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TT Tuesday -- speed record

Today I did a staple of my recovery week - a 6-minute all out time trial on the bike. Every time I do this, I improve. Last time I rode 25.8 mph, which was my record at that point.

I was massively inspired by Michelle's foray into 24 mph land during her 6-minute TT on Monday, same as I was to do today.

If Michelle can obliterate a speed record, why can't I?

I felt strange during the day... for the first time in as long as I can remember, I had NO stiffness or soreness in my legs. Every time I got up from my chair at work, nothing. Just loose and limber joints and limbs (limber limbs, get it?? hahahaha!). This had to be a good omen!

I got out to the Gtown loop and warmed up, probably a little too much and too fast, but seeing Michelle do some warmup sprints before her TT, made me think that it could help me too. Wind was pretty calm also, 3-5 mph from the south. I got underway and my first lap I averaged 27.3 mph! Holy cow. I kept the cadence high but my pace was slipping a little into the final hill. I surged up it to hit six minutes... and a speed average of 26.8 mph!!! Boomshakalaka!

A new speed record set, a whole mph faster than 3-4 weeks ago. Church Creek, here I come.

Rodan reaches speeds of roughly Mach 1. Maybe I can too one day?

Monday, August 16, 2010

On a roll

Mere weeks remain until Nation's, and I seem to be peaking at just the right time.

My swim is as good as it's ever been. My top speed may not be quite as great as earlier in the winter, but my endurance at a 1:20/ 100y clip is far greater than before. The steady state swims, 3x1300 with the last being at race pace, have really helped, as well as having two hard-working training partners, Dirk and Robbie, who seem to be improving at as fast a rate as I. We feed off each other. Those masters workouts at AU really help supplement speed to my endurance training. I was thinking on the way to AU today... I no longer fear the swim. I look forward to it. No longer do 300 yard and longer sets frighten me. I go to swims more than 3 days a week. I'm averaging close to 15,000 yards a week, up from only 7-9k during the early summer and before. Rather, I am excited for the swim at Nation's. I am certain I won't be far behind this time around.

What will be most exciting is to see who gets out of the water first between me, Dirk and Robbie. Anyone want to place bets?

I biked this weekend with Robbie, and found my speed, even after a tough swim workout, has really improved from the spring. I put in a 30:50 20k, which is about 23.9 mph. Pretty fast for me. Part of the course is a mile downhill and flat, but the first third is pretty darn hilly, so I'm happy with the speed. Can't wait to see what I do on a flat 40k... both at Church Creek TT Saturday and Nation's in a few weeks. My goals are sub-61 at Church Creek, and around 62 at Nation's. Those seem reasonable.

Most of all, I'm totally happy with my swim. Again, it's peaking at the right time. I feel extremely confident in the water. I want the lead at practice now. I used to be pretty bashful... but now I want to set the tone. I think this improved attitude will help me in my racing.

Oh, a shout out to Michelle, she biked over 24 mph for the first time during a 6 minute all-out TT today. That is epic.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tour of Page County

Yeah, haven't updated in over a week. Google doesn't work on my computer at work because of a virus and I usually do my blog entries there. So, I apologize to myself. And to anyone who reads this.

Pleasantries exchanged. Onto the good stuff!

Yesterday I raced in my second bike race of my young cycling career, the Tour of Page County cat 5 race in Stanley, VA, just south of Luray. Hills, hills and more hills were how Matias described the race to me. There was a 1.5 mile hill and a half miler with the finish line at the top of that. A competitive cat 5 field too. These all seemed like excellent reasons for me to enter this race. After my performance at Giro di Coppi, I was ready to try and win this race. I was strong, although a little tired from a hard week of training. I took Thursday and Friday easy, swimming and spinning to keep my legs moving and rested.

Race day... Sicar and I arrived at the race site and I met a fellow from the DC Tri Club who was racing also, Ron Benedict. Nice guy. I prepared Sicar for the battle that lay ahead. Warmed up, signed up, met Team Snapple (which I just joined) team member Zack Desmond at the starting line and then we were off! Zack and I lined up in the middle to rear of the pack, which is fine, we would benefit from the draft and thus an easier start to the race. We rolled in neutral for about 1.5 miles from the staging area and then the hammerfest began!

And, wow, did we hammer it. Zack immediately noted how hard we were going so early on... and it never let up. Giro di Coppi was much different, we didn't really pick it up until halfway through the last lap. We weren't even 3 miles into our first lap and we were cooking! I made a couple moves to get closer to the front, but it was tough to do... I started a little too far back. Finally the first mega hill came up... a 1.5 mile ascent that starts more as a false flat and builds into a pretty steep climb. I made my move here and stuck myself into the top 10. Zack joined me and we stayed here for the rest of the first lap into the second lap.

Then things got dicey. I lost the group I was with at the top of the half mile hill, just at the end of the second lap. I made it to the top with them, but they accelerated very quickly down the other side and I wasn't able to keep up... I got dropped! I pedaled hard to try and latch back onto the group (5 of us... we were chasing the lead group of 3-4 riders), pushing speeds of 28 mph by myself on a flat for about 2-3 miles. The group gained 30 seconds on me and I thought it was over for me. Then a pack of 4 riders caught up to me. Slightly embarrassed, I grabbed the wheel of one of the riders.... and we started pacelining. It was time to work together to catch up the group ahead of us! We switched leads until the 1.5 mile hill. We started climbing slowly, I was two riders off of the lead. I knew we wouldn't catch the group ahead at that rate. So I took off. I knew with my stamina and climbing, I could catch or get closer to them if I was leading. So for nearly 1.5 miles I led my group... and whaddya know! I caught the group that had dropped me earlier, much to the surprise of those riders. My group thanked me for the push and we made our way to the last hill.

800m to go, I was about 5 riders back from the front of our new combined pack. I waited... and then I saw the feedzone, marking 250m from the finish. It was now or never. I stood up and started POUNDING the pedals. I took the lead and focused on the finish line. 50m to go I hear breathing behind me, the fight was on. A guy from Whole Wheel Velo shot past me in a burst of power, but I held off a rider who was coming on hard to beat him by 1/5th of a wheel at the line... photo finish!

6th place! I was elated. It was a major comeback for me. I thought it was over... but I didn't give up. I may not have gotten podium this time, but this race meant a lot more to me than Giro di Coppi. I felt I learned some valuable lessons about road racing... the race is never over until you cross the finish line, unlike in running. And I learned the value of staying with a group. Not only will you go faster, but you can team up with your competition to help everyone do better, including yourself.

All in all, a great day and a great race. Two top 10s in two races... things are really looking good for me now.

Check out this news story from the race. Matias is the center of attention around the :52 mark (who got engaged earlier this week... congrats dude!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

25.8 mph and 1:14/100y!

After Giro di Coppi and a 17 hour week, I was due for a recovery week. As usual though, full of time trials.

I had a crappy 15 minute TT (should've been 30 minutes) on Tuesday. Lack of nutrition and tired legs from GdC left me depleted. I averaged 24 mph for 14 minutes, and suddenly lost my legs and couldn't speed up on flats. This told me that I was done. I met back with Michelle for a spin and CHICK-FIL-A. Their new spicy chicken sandwich has good taste. Not much hotness, but a spicy taste. Good.

I had a pathetic track workout Wednesday, same problems as on Tuesday. 2k cutdown that was a little too fast, and 2x800 at 2:24 and 2:26... maybe a little fast, but it didn't feel bad. Overall I felt dehydrated and didn't want to push it. I had my mind set on the Crystal City 5k, but this workout gave me doubts. Funk dat.

Thursday I felt awesome. I had recovered from GdC finally and ate well during the day. This set me up for a 6-minute all-out TT. My previous best was 25.4 mph. This time around, I churned the pedals to a personal best 25.8 mph for 6-minutes! On a rolling course too! I love watching my strength increase on the bike. It's really motivating. The hard work is paying off each month.

I swam a tough 3050 yards with Dirk at the CUBU masters workout that evening, including 10x100 at 1:14/100!! That too is at or close to personal best.

Had simpler recovery workouts on Friday and Saturday (including a 2400m open water swim with Dirk at Sandy Point) and decided not to race at the 5k. It was brutally hot, I wasn't tapered enough and knew I wouldn't set a PR, the reason for initially running in it. Turns out that besides one guy who ran a 14:03 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), only half of the amount of people who ran sub-16 in 2009 achieved that time this year.

Sunday, rode with Dirk in 90+ degree weather. It was very tough... ranks among the most atrocious (in Dirk's words) rides we've each had. Hey, it builds character... I guess.

Looking forward to really cranking up the effort and miles in anticipation of Nation's and Philly Distance. The intense training starts this coming week. I accept the challenge, as always!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Giro di Coppi -- Sicar's Maiden Voyage

This past Saturday I raced in the Giro di Coppi, my first road bike race ever. I was pretty nervous. Friends and foes warned me of close quarters, unexpected sprints and 45+ mph descents. I knew road bikers to be a pretty intense and serious bunch. I want to become the best biker I can be however, and the best way to do it is to embrace road biking and become an all-around better biker... not just a time trialist! Matias, Robbie and Dirk especially urged me to just jump in and get the experience.

Being a new cyclist, I raced in the 37.5 mile cat 5 race. My initial hope was to stick with the peloton and hang in there. I didn't expect much. Friends said that I had better speed than most of the guys there... I should go for the win. I decided that I'd hang in the middle of the pack and then attack at the end or on uphills.

Let the cowboys ride! The race started fast. As soon as we cleared the first hill, speeds were in excess of 25 mph, faster than I do at triathlons by myself. That's what happens in a group. I tucked into the middle of the pack and completed the first 12.5 mile loop. Huh, I wasn't tired... I decided to push it harder, moving into the front third of the pack. I made some more moves on the uphills and held my own on the downhills. By the end of the second loop I was well within the top 10. Could this be for real? Am I among the leaders? Crazy, but I felt like I had been doing this for a while and that I could really hang in there. I just kept it going... tuck in and draft on the flats and attack hard on the climbs.

By halfway through the final loop, I was in 2nd place! I decided to give the pack a stir and do something I definitely had not planned on... I surged on a flat! A NCVC guy decided to go at the same time, so we worked together. That was a rare moment of the race where I worked with someone. I was one of the few unattached riders, so teams were constantly trying to edge me out of the paceline to help teammates out. This made me pretty mad! I had to show them up. The pack eventually caught us, but the tempo of the race had increased, making it more competitive and exciting. I was totally into it.

My hill climbing advantage was huge here... it was a really hilly course, with the finish line resting atop a steep 200m climb. With 1k to go, I remembered this. Despite being in 3rd at that point, I decided to drop back a little and let some of the bigger guys go. It was my intention to draft off them and then break out as soon as I saw the "200 meters to go" sign. It worked to perfection. As soon as I saw the sign, I punched it (not the sign). I passed 6 guys almost instantly as I barrelled up the hill toward #3, who started strong but was really struggling at the crest. 10 meters to go, I was right on his wheel but starting to tire out. I then remembered I had 3 gears left to shift to! He did not! I shifted up one cog and that provided me with a burst of speed that got me past him within 5 meters of the line.

3rd place overall! Not too bad for my first road bike race. My strategy worked great. And Sicar, the bike, felt awesome under me. What a strong climber. Speed averaged somewhere between 22.5 and 25 mph... hit a max of 48 mph! Good showing by Matias too, finishing 6th in the 3/4 race, pacing the pack much of the way and staying strong. The next morning, Robbie won the NYC Triathlon elite age group division, and 6th among pros. Beast.

Several days later, I'm still really pumped from this. Sure, it was a cat 5 race, but I went into this race with no great expectations... an empty head. It's how I need to go into all my races. As I told Michelle the other day I took what the race gave me... I did not try to predict the outcome of the race before I got to the finish. It worked here. Why can't it work in a triathlon?

Pictures coming tonight

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's your turn, Sicar!

This weekend is my first road race (biking), at the Giro di Coppi. I'm doing the cat. 5 (beginners) race, one spot away on the waitlist. Hopefully one person doesn't show up Saturday so I can get out there and ride! 37.5 miles, well within my limit, but it'll still be tough. I'm really looking forward to it. It's pretty much my next step into the sport of cycling, going past simply doing TT-style racing as in triathlons. It's my hope that road bike racing will help my triathlon biking as well as further my relationship with cycling. I have no expectations of winning this race or even getting top 5, my goal is to learn, and if the opportunity presents itself, win. I have an advantage on uphills, so I'll be sure to unleash on those. Otherwise, I won't let myself take the lead until the end, if I am in reach.

This is also the introduction to the racing scene for the newest addition to my household... my road bike, the Dolan Hercules, whom I affectionately nicknamed Sicar after my cats (it has the speed, agility and climbing ability of Simon... and the black nose of Oscar). It's been used for the past month and a half or so as a training ride, especially on longer rides or hill workouts... but this is a racing bike at heart! It WANTS to be pounded, it WANTS to suffer along with me in a race. It's jealous that ZeroZeroTwo does all the racing and time trials.
I don't have a good picture of my Hercules (will post after the race), so here's a photo from my dealer so you get an idea of what it looks like! I have SRAM Rival groupset, black handlebars, cheaper wheels (I WISH I had those Navigator carbons!).

Sicar looks better!!!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DC Tri Club training triathlon -- Redemption!

So I was pretty down on my running after the mile. Sure, I had improved in every distance and was much better off physically than in July of last year, but I thought at least I would finish a second FASTER, not a second slower than last year. But I've put it in perspective and realized that the mile just is not my race at this time. Probably will never be, I'm training for triathlons and 5k-1/2 marathon... nothing longer, nothing shorter! Let's leave it at that!

I was encouraged by Hendrik de Heer to participate in the DC Tri Club's 2nd training triathlon on Sunday. I thought, just like he, why not? I don't have a race for a while and I had a TT-style brick scheduled for that day. Why not make it fun with some light competition? The distances were 400m pool swim, snaking around the 50m Hain's Point pool; a 17 mile bike, thrice around the large HP loop; a 5k+ run, once around the short loop. Main competition for me was Dirk and his new DOLAN STRYKE and a DC Tri Club Elite team member, Andy Blatecky.

Dirk and I had fine swims, about 6:15 or so for 400m, not bad, I think I beat him by 2 seconds, so I still have a slight advantage in the water!!

The bike was odd... I had some stupid (on my part) mechanical issues that caused the rear wheel to rub against the frame, causing me to have to stand up and really struggle to accelerate and keep a decent speed. It was tough. I still somehow managed just around 23 mph average! That's encouraging, at least! Remember during the winter when I pined for the days when I could average 23 mph on my best day?

Dirk had an awesome ride on his new bike. I'm upset I couldn't stay with him this time!

Run was great. I brought in a sub 16:50 for the 5K, which ranks among my best post-bike runs ever. And I felt controlled and relaxed. I passed Blatecky about 1.5 miles in and I just held the effort steady the rest of the way. This is a good sign for Crystal City 5k, as well as my post-bike 10k prospects at Nations (I want a 36 or faster!).

So the tri definitely washed away any grief I had about the mile. I'm doing well at what I'm training for, and that is the most important thing now.

OOOH. Look what's coming to my house today! My new front wheel!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rats for me, Hot Diggity for Michelle!

Shoot, that was a disappointment! I ran the mile at the Midsummer's Mile last night, expecting that maybe I would get a 4:30, despite not really training for that distance or tapering at all during the week. Well, yeah, didn't work out that way! Instead I suffered through one of my most embarrassing runs ever! Ended up with a 4:40, not quite reflective of the effort I put in, and goshdarnit, it's quite a discouraging time! I was 2 seconds faster in the mile last year! I was in better shape for shorter stuff then and wasn't really into triathlons at the time, but heck, I at least wanted to better that time.

Made several mistakes, such as trying to make up for lost time after a slow start... before I even got halfway through the race! Bush-league! Oh well, live and learn. I lived and I think I've learned. So that's good. 2nd overall though. Must have been poor competition or the heat. I think the former!

Michelle Miller ran a 4:56, thus accomplishing her 2010 goal of sub-5 for the mile. Way to go Michelle! She's worked so hard at it, suffered through heat exhaustion and plenty of hard workouts to get there. Through disappointments and mistakes she learned how to run the mile the right way and showed the world what she had! Very inspiring! I'll have to follow her example. And she ran smart last night, even after going out slow she maintained her composure, unlike myself, and ran consistently. I felt sorry for the males who looked at her at the start, thought to themselves "Oh geez, a girl, I better make sure I'm in lane 1 because she definitely won't beat my superior male-ness". She beat all but a few of them. Excellent.