Sunday, February 28, 2010

Huge Sunday!

5K race in the morning, killer race-pace brick in the PM. I was due for pain today.

The race in Arlington, contrary to what I heard, was NOT flat and it was windy. I was a little worried about my 16 minute expectation... Good competition though, with Robbie Wade and Steve Crane leading the way, and recent rival Justin Fritzius in the mix as well. I went out in the first mile as planned, in 5:15. Good start. I brought the 2nd mile down as expected as well, to 5:06. I felt great, ready to pound out a similar 3rd mile. However, mile 3 was a hill. The whole thing. Try as I might, I couldn't keep it below 5:20, which ended up being around my average for the 3rd mile. A sprint to the finish brought me to 16:18 and 5th overall... so not quite at my goal, but a 7-second PR nonetheless in unfriendly conditions. Crane finished just under 16, so that told me that it was a slow day for just about everyone... Michelle just barely missed her goal of sub-18 but finished 3rd. Despite our disappointment in times, we were both happy with our placements (despite my menial prize of $15 to Pacers stores!!!). We both worked hard and raced smart and that was comforting.

BUT we couldn't remain glum for long, as a super-brick awaited us at her house. The plan: 5x10 minute zone 4 (race pace) intervals on the bike with 5 minute recoveries, 20 minute warmup. Followed quickly by a 4x6 minute zone 4 (race pace) interval run, with 2 minute recoveries and short warmup/cooldown. We both pounded through the bike, dripping with sweat and determination. Michelle, without too much experience doing bike intervals, really put forth a strong-willed effort and that kept me focused.

The run was really tough, and I cramped up in the first interval, but again we pushed ourselves forward and finished strong. Her hip acted up, but was able to run over a mile back home. She doesn't quit!

We realized soon after that what we had just done was pretty remarkable... raced all out in the AM, biked all out no more than 3 hours after, followed by another race effort run. Sounds to me like a duathlon! A Duathlon Nationals length duathlon! Something tells me that we're going to do great there. Top 10 for Michelle? No question. Age group for me? Looking good.

And with that, I'm done for the day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Good workouts and preparing mentally

Yesterday I put in a solid bike ride, cruise intervals (zone 4 hr) 5x6 minutes. This workout gets more and more encouraging every time I do it. It just shows me that I have the fitness level to handle race pace already for a long period of time... and the fact that I'm doing it on the trainer elevates that further, since the trainer is much harder to raise the heart rate on. My legs were strong and I kept a high RPM, so my bike technique is vastly improved, since I was doing 75-85 RPM just a couple months ago. And my legs weren't too tight or at all sore afterward.

This AM I did tpace 12x100s, with 10 second recoveries. I aimed for 1:26 pace and of course did the first one too fast, in 1:21. But again, I wasn't feeling exhausted... just like in all of my recent swims. I consciously slowed down the next 100s, doing what I felt was 1:26 pace... I was actually swimming 1:24! Consistently! For the 11 remaining 100s! That's huge, for me. I've been barely at the 1:26 mark, and I'm already doing 1:24s comfortably. When I finished the 100s, I still had enough strength to do a 500m cooldown... so my endurance is going up with my speed. Fantastic.

Feeling pretty nervous about the 5K this weekend. I'll be running at a pace I've never run before, and while I'm pretty sure I can keep a 5:10 pace, it's still a struggle to totally convince myself. I'll do everything I can to reach that goal.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I'm currently watching Olympic bobsledding, and it's great. I am salivating over the beautiful paint/wax jobs on the sleds. Canada has the best looking sled of all.

Today I lifted in the AM, again doing more core work. I left my iPod at the gym yesterday so I did my workout without it, as the manager took it with him/her for safekeeping. I liked working out without the music, actually. I might stop listening to it.

After a long and stressful Spay Day, I ran in the afternoon with Wiggy and Chris Sloane through Needwood and running away from/toward/into/over/under/around/with cars along Avery Rd. Fortunately, we all survived to put in a fine 8 miles. I wore my trail shoes for the run (by accident) so I felt like I was dragging my feet the whole time... bad feeling. But it felt good to get out after a rough Spay Day at work.

In the evening I rode on the trainer for a 50 minute dominant leg workout. Despite the run, both legs felt strong, taking turns doing the pedaling. I shifted to a more difficult gear for the last 20 minutes and felt the burn. I'll try to do this at the more difficult gear for 80% of the time next dominant leg workout and see how it goes. I was able to keep my heart rate controlled, so I'm pleased about that... my fitness on the bike is where I want it.

Oh, and Happy Spay Day!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Do I actually enjoy swimming now?

Today was an "easy" day for me, which means 2 less intense workouts. No days off for me!

Started out with a form work swim, long easy sets that focus on swim form. But I've been riding such a swimming high... my feel for the water is better than ever and I want to keep that. So I decided to cut out a 400 out of my normal 4x400 swim on easy days and do 3x400 at a decent pace. Decent pace for me used to be 6:30 for 400, which translates to about 26 minute mile. I decided to swim the first 100 slow and really go hard for the last 300. That strategy resulted in 6:00 400s... by far my fastest 400s in training. And yet again, I felt very strong when I hit the wall (the pool wall). 24 minute mile pace in a non-race situation... That's encouraging.

In the afternoon I met with Michelle at the gym for a treadmill hills run. I really don't like this workout, but it needed to be done. Weather sucked and still no runnable grass/dirt hills are available. But put in 30 minutes, about 4-4.5 miles, 8x25 second hill sprints (at 8% grade). Wore my Brooks training flats and I'm no longer feeling calf soreness. They're doing their job... allowing me to run with flats while still getting the support of a training shoe.

Counting down until my first 5K of 2010... Love the Run You're With 5K. I'm realistically going for about 16:05, but maybe, just maybe sub-16 is there for me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chris Bain, champion!

Congrats to Chris Bain, who won the MCRRC Open Runner of the Year award... Dude ran a 2:31 marathon in KOREA just after running a 2:36 at Boston. Stud and very deserving of the award. Nicely done, dude!

And a shout-out to Michelle and Jordan, who won female Open and male Masters, respectively. Both also incredibly deserving of top honors in their categories.

Before the awards ceremony, Michelle and I put forth a superb brick. 2:15 bike, with minute uphill, minute high-rpm spin, 3 minutes false flat, followed by a 45 minute hill run (with elevated effort on uphills). Both of us are getting really comfortable on the bike. Almost a month ago, a 2+ hour ride would be nothing short of torture. Today, it was a piece of cake. I'm sure Ultraman and Gamera helped keep the spirits up, but our legs responded well to the bike and the run. It's also helpful for me to be training with a champion. I want her level of success.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More fun in the pool

I thought that my swimming couldn't get much better than Wednesday's 100s... but today was even better. With a longer swim on the docket, I thought I would tire out. 500 total warmup, 1x800 at tpace, 8x100 at tpace, and all-out 6x50 kick. That's usually more t-pace swimming than I usually do.

I intended to do 1:30s on the 800, but approaching the end of the first 100, I was surprised how un-fatigued I felt... I was really gliding through the water, and my breathing was right on the mark. My shoulders and arms felt fresh. I looked at the clock as I was turning -- 1:25! The next 100 -- 1:26! And it went on from there in the same way, getting in all of the 800 at 1:25-27 tpace! And that's not even race pace for me, and I was holding back for the 8x100 that awaited me after the 800. I finished the 800 without speeding up, feeling great and ready to rock the 100s.

I wanted to keep the same pace for the 8x100, but again took the first one out a little fast, 1:22. But unlike the last couple of times, I didn't slow down after the first. Each following 100 was under 1:25. And I still felt great, I wasn't breathing too heavily and my arms didn't tighten up.

I headed out of the GISC for a hill run on Schaefer Rd., putting in 8 hill sprints and a 2 mile warmup and cooldown, for a good 5 workout. Felt pretty beat after the swim/hill run, but both were successful.

I'm really encouraged by the swim (with partial thanks to the chicken tenders from last night). My form is back to where it was a couple weeks ago, but now I'm faster. Maybe I'll do that DC Tri swim meet after all!

Cruise Intervals

Met up with Joe Wiegner for cruise intervals at the Gtown rec circle a little earlier for me than usual. I was tight from the previous night's trainer hill climbs, so I thought I would do 3 intervals instead of 4. Joe mentioned something about maybe doing one interval with me at my pace earlier in the day.

The road was flattish, so I knew this would be a speedier workout. Having Wiggy in tow helped me move a little faster too. I finished the first one right on target in 5:30 for 1.1 miles. After a 2 minute recovery I expected Joe to do his own thing, but he wanted to stick with me... he hadn't done speed in a while, and wasn't feeling pain. Which is awesome. We stuck together for #2 and 3, keeping the time close to or at the 5:30 mark. And even though my legs were feeling a little tired, I decided to do 4, inspired by Joe's presence, and clocked in at another 5:30. Dude's gonna be back to his fast self before long. And it will be epic, because he has the hunger... he's starving to race and go fast again. And it's rubbing off onto me, too.

This workout was a notable one, because it's the first outdoor tempo run where I ran consistent 5:30s. Earlier in the year and December 2009, I was doing 5:43s for tempo pace. I've really sped up since then... all that hill work and track with GRC and Michelle has really paid off. I can't wait to see what I can do on race day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Treadmill Wars, the trilogy

Last night was my THIRD straight track workout on the treadmill. American U was open, but with all the traffic horror stories from River Road I've heard, I decided to stick to my old amigo, the Fitness First treadmill room.

Got another stunningly brilliant workout from Michelle, 1 mile warmup, 2k cutdown to 5K pace, 5x800 @ 5K pace (400 recoveries), 2 mile cooldown. This one felt good. Obviously could have gone faster on the 800s, but with the whole treadmill setup and breathing difficulties in a hot, dry room, I decided to err on the side of smartness and stick to 5K pace. Workout went smoothly when I wasn't trying to frantically speed up or slow down on a treadmill, mashing fingers into unresponsive buttons and having the whole gym staring at me through the mirror as I nearly tumble and collapse trying to save my own life on a never-ending fast-moving platform.

So, yes, it went well and was productive. Met a runner several generations my senior (60 years old) who told me of his 2010 goals of a 3 hour marathon and 5 minute mile. He was much smoother on the treadmill than I was.

A tough next 3 days lies in wait... 9 workouts in 3 days. I accept the challenge... furiously.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


My swimming has been better than expected after 2 weeks away from real workouts, but it still hasn't been where it used to be.

That is, until today.

I got to the pool and expected something similar to what I did with Dirk on Sunday... 3x (4x100 with 10 second recoveries) at tpace (for now, 1:30). I warmed up and did a couple sculling drills and was surprised at how quick the warmup went and how buoyant I was. I started the workout, swimming the first 100 in 1:19!! 1:19?! That's too fast, but faster than my previous "too fast" times. And to make things stranger, I didn't feel tired. I swam the next 11 100s in a fast (for me) 1:24-:26, which is exactly where I want to be at this point in my training.

I felt fast today. I hadn't felt fast in the past 3 swims. I felt today like a different swimmer, like I belonged in the water.

I don't understand where the speed came from, but it's exhilirating. I loved the water today... I didn't want to end my workout. I could have kept going. Was it what I ate? I did eat chicken tenders last night. Or maybe the 2 weeks off was a blessing in disguise? It gave me time to recover while I was pushing the bike and run, perhaps.

Either way, this has done wonders for my confidence. 1:23s are definitely in the realm of possibility by the end of February. Maybe a sub-13:45 1Km time trial is in my immediate future as well...

Monday I ran with Dirk, Red Fox, Jake M, Dave and for a short while, Patrick Murphy, for half of the run and the second half with Jake M totalling 8 miles or so.

Tuesday had cruise intervals on the bike trainer at HR zones 4-5A, followed by a half mile swim and 30 minute shakeout run.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Triathlon

Triathlon #2 of the current build phase was today! And luckily, it fell on a holiday so I could give the triathlon a unique name.

Got a late start on the tri, meeting up with Dirk at the Wilson Pool. I was a little nervous as I was to do tpaced 100s (12 of them) and I really had no idea what my tpace is currently because of the whole not-swimming thing. I led the first 4 and Dirk led the last 8, as I was worried I might be holding him back. But I surprised myself and managed a respectable 1:30-33 range, which is definitely better than I expected. I experienced more pain and fatigue than usual when swimming 1:30s, but I'll take it. A success! Perhaps I'll be back to 1:26s by the end of the build.

Bricked immediately afterward (about 20 minutes after the swim). I biked to Spectreman episodes. While he was busy foiling Dr. Gori's plans of taking over the world by using the pollution created by earthlings to create giant monsters (today he created a giant mole-catfish thing), I was attacking hills on the bike! 90 minutes of minute uphill, minute downhill, 2 minutes false flat. Ride felt great.

Quickly (in 2 minutes) changed into running gear and set off into my parents' hilly neighborhood for a 30 minute hill attack. Went hard up the hills, moderate on flats, recovery pace on downhills. I really fought the hills hard, and there were some with an 8% or greater grade. I felt fantastic even after biking through hills. My bike-to-run transition was a weakness last year, one I've really been working on... and the hard work is paying off.

So this was a tougher triathlon than yesterday's, but I felt much better with the great swim and brick. It's really encouraging and confidence-boosting.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Triathlon

It's a build phase weekend and that means another triathlon Saturday.

Started in the AM with a swim... my first swim in over a week. This is the workout I've been dreading! Got in the pool and felt OK after 100 meters... but it went downhill from there. Every 50 meters caused more and more fatigue and soreness in my shoulders and upper back. I was gritting my teeth and grunting in pain with each stroke. I got through it totalling 1800 meters (3x100-200-300 sets), but it felt like I swam 8100 meters! I didn't have my feel for the water and my speed was pitiful. But I was able to get through the workout and that's all I wanted to do today. No soreness in the evening, so that's encouraging, as is the fact that I had no breathing difficulties... this must mean I'm in pretty good overall shape.

Ran in the early afternoon, cruise intervals on the treadmill. 4x6 minutes at zone 3 HR zone, around a 5:33-:36 pace at .5% incline. This is my favorite running workout, and my tempo speed improved compared to past weeks' cruise intervals. Totaled 10 miles.

Biked on the trainer late in the evening, 70 minutes at HR zone 2... pretty easy and more of a recovery ride after 3 days of tough bike and run workouts.

Fun day! Looking forward to tomorrow's triathlon! 2 hour brick and t-paced 100s in the pool (whatever that is now...)!

Friday, February 12, 2010

T-mill hills and pools reopen!

Montgomery County decided to reopen the government today so I'll be able to get back to swimming this weekend. Looking to do 2000-2400 easy tomorrow with Dirk and attempt some tpaced 100s Sunday. I want to ease back into it, but it's tough to ease into anything during a build phase.

Yesterday I ran hills on the treadmill with Chris, who set a 10-mile PR by over a minute (!!!!!!!????). Got in 8 hills at 6.5%-7% grade and around 5:30-27 mile pace. Not as tough as Michelle's and my hill workout in the cornfields, but it had to do with snow covering the entire universe now.

I had no idea what Chris was doing until I finished my hills and he casually noted "well, about 20 minutes to go... I'm about to PR for 10 miles," like that was his planned workout. What a man. Sub 2:30 will be a cinch for him with how strong he is in training now. It's making me want to work harder too. I salute you, Chris Vames Sloane.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dry and impatient

I had to miss another swim workout today... blizzard conditions shut down county government, so the pool was closed for the 6th straight day... that's 4 missed swim workouts. I fear how unfit I'll be once I get back into the pool, hopefully tomorrow or Friday. I know my tpace will be back down to 1:30 or slower... which means I'm more or less starting from square one (or square two as Dirk said?) and trying to get back to 1:26 again. That's a bummer. I wanted to use the current build period to get to 1:23 pace.

I'll just have to go into my next several swims with determination and no pain threshold, as it will hurt and test me big time. I will want to quit mid-workout, I know that. This will be another test of mental fortitude and I hope to come out on top.

Today, during the blizzard, I did cruise intervals on the bike, 5x6 minutes at zone 4-5A pace, around 173 bpm average per interval. After 2.5 days off from biking and two straight tough run workouts, I'm pretty happy this went as well as it did.

The only thing holding me back at the moment is fear of getting back into the pool and being out of shape or not feeling as good as I was 2 weeks ago.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fury conquers all

My training is starting to go awry. After several months of perfect scheduling, it seems like things are starting to unravel. And I blame the snow. Montgomery County state of emergency means the pool is closed, 4+ foot snow banks from plows make sidewalks and curbs un-runnable, and the whole snow/wet thing makes biking impossible. I've been able to run and bike indoors, but I haven't been able to swim since Wednesday. And that's really bad. Hopefully Montgomery County will end its state of emergency by the weekend so I can start swimming again. It's got me pretty nervous. It feels like the weather and I are just fighting over my training.

Kind of like Godzilla and King Kong fighting over this castle.

Yesterday I met up with Michelle and Brian for a treadmill tempo run. 4 miles easy, 4 miles tempo. About 3.5 miles into the easy half, I started cramping up. I hadn't eaten since breakfast (only had 1 packet of oatmeal) and hadn't drank anything since the night before. Add to that quad soreness from the long snow run, and I was in line for a bad workout. And it got worse, a mile into the tempo half I was feeling miserable and had to run around 6:00/mile, which is about 20 seconds slower than tempo pace for me. Michelle was catching up to me. But after that first mile passed, I started feeling the FURY. Motivated by my own anger and Michelle's Michelleness, I sped up gradually to my usual tempo pace and was able to finish the last 1.5 miles at tempo and faster. The workout left something to be desired, but I got over the mental block I was having. Mental strength had been a weakness toward the end of 2009, but I'm conquering it. I ran FURIOUSLY.

Here's hoping for an incorrect weather forecast.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowtorious C.T.R.

Another blizzard, another weekend of dour and sour Chicken Tender Runner.

Missed out on the 1Km swim time trial on Friday afternoon, because I forgot my pool pass and the snow was starting to get nasty... too nasty for my low-to-the-ground Honda Civic to traverse safely.

Saturday, when the snow was piled high, I got in a 30 minute time trial on the bike trainer. BIG success! I kept a 180 bpm HR average over the final 20 minutes of the trial, meaning that I am capable of operating at a high heart rate (a little higher than race pace) for a long period of time... this shows that I am race ready and the endurance training paid off. I wish I could know if I got any faster, as I can't measure that on the trainer. But I'm happy... very happy with my progress. Exciting!

Sunday I ran 10.5 miles on roads that were "plowed," or covered by a dense layer of snow and ice. I ran at a moderate effort while slipping and sliding all over the place. Trucks and SUVs tried to intimidate me off the road, but I wouldn't have any of their games. The Chicken Tender Runner fears no moving vehicles. Which is dumb.

The recovery week is over... the build begins again this coming week.

Friday, February 5, 2010

White is my least favorite color

Except when it applies to white meat in my chicken tenders.

I hate this snow. It's not fun nor is it useful. Biking is my triathlon weakness and I need to be outside on the roads improving myself. Indoor training helps but I need to get a better feel for the road and the varying elevations it provides.

But I've been whining since December about this.

Yesterday after lifting I decided to take the rest of the day off as I wasn't feel totally comfortable in my legs. This is a recovery week and I should be feeling fresh.

I felt much better today and met up with Scott, Jake, Christiam (who I finally had the pleasure of meeting) and Karl for a 75(?) minute run. Haven't calculated distance yet. I felt light and my HR was pretty low, which means the day off yesterday had the desired effect.

I'm going to try to swim in a few minutes, maybe get that 1Km time trial out of the way. Not sure I'll set a PR today, but I might as well try.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An all-out recovery week

So this recovery week is still a recovery week, but I'm working a little harder than I expected. This weekend should put an end to that.

Monday I did a mile time trial on the treadmill. Zone 4, a level below race pace. I started out at 5:14, which I did the same intensity mile in about 7 weeks ago. My HR zone wasn't quite reaching the target of 184 bpm, so I sped up over the next half mile to 5:00, which got my HR at 184, and I stuck with that for another quarter. Finished in 5:07! Not bad for a sub-race pace effort. This should be my 5K pace on a flat course and good day. That's got me excited... I'm getting so much closer to sub-16. I can really see it now. Followed the TT with chicken tenders at Famous Dave's with Jordan and birthday girl Zoe! The tenders were fantastic, and the honey mustard dipping sauce was just as good. Jordan made incessant noises of pleasure as he consumed his honey mustard drenched tenders.

Tuesday had weights in the AM and biking in the PM. The bike consisted of a 40 minutes easy, with 6 minutes in the middle being all out, 100% effort. That was INTENSE. It felt like I ripped off my legs from the middle of my quadricep region and ground them into fine powder with the teeth of my carbon chainring. I closed my eyes around the 5:30:00 mark from the effort exerted and nearly fell asleep mid-full-throttle effort because I was so exhausted. That was quite possibly the most intense 6 minutes on the bike... ever.

Wednesday had an awesome, albeit indoor, track workout with Michelle. We were both snowed out of our respective track workouts, so we decided to compromise and mix my GRC workout and her Pacers workout. We did mile repeats, but in 4-8-4 style (400 at mile pace, 800 at 10k pace, 400 at mile pace) for 4 sets. I did my miles in 5:12 (5:07 for 400s, 5:27 for 800s). Michelle followed with (fast) 5:40s or so, but we didn't get accurate measurements because of the difficulties associated with accelerating on the treadmill! Still, a great workout, Michelle and I pushed each other hard as usual. Followed with an easy pyramid swim with Steve, although that was one of the tougher swims I've done (probably because I did it right after a tough track workout! D'oh...).

More biking to come this week and hopefully even with the snow I can fit in 2-3 more time trials.

I hate snow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mileage for Dec/Jan.

Just counted my total miles between the three sports for December and January:

Swimming -- 30.7 miles
Biking -- 1035.5 miles
Running -- 366.1 miles

TOTAL -- 1432.3 miles!

By month:
December (15.8 - 415.5 - 133.6)
January (14.9 - 620 - 232.5)