Monday, January 30, 2012

I love this kind of training

I am back in the swing of harder training.

I am currently swimming only 3x a week, but that's ok as my speed is more or less back and my endurance is a lot higher than it was a couple weeks ago, averaging about 2400y per practice now. I'll be back at master's practice in a week or two, but that will just replace a swim I'm doing now. It'll add some endurance and harder efforts to my usual swim schedule. I really enjoy swimming. I found this out early last year when I started finding my stroke and got faster. They're probably my favorite practices each week. I can let my mind go blank each time I'm in the water... I can't ever recall what I was thinking about after each practice, only running numbers through my head to keep track of recovery and intervals.

I'm cycling 4x a week for now, a spin, 2 harder tempo/threshold workouts and a long ride. I really enjoy the trainer workouts. It's usually 30-35min of hard cycling total, with another 30min of combined warmup/cooldown, with wattages staying within tempo and lighter threshold effort. It's fun on ZeroZeroNine, the name I gave to my TT bike (after Cyborg 009, who has the power to accelerate and move so fast everything around him looks motionless) and to watch TdF stages on the TV while listening to music on my iPod. The workouts mix up cadence and power output to confuse my legs. It's working as my longer outdoor rides have become somewhat easier... more endurance and strength for climbs or tempo efforts.

I was running 3x a week for a total of 25 or so miles, but will increase that to 4 runs per week and around 35mi, including some shorter speed work on Wednesday. I think after the next 2 weeks I will add in hills and tempo to begin building strength and a solid base. My hip is so much better now... I ran 10mi on the towpath, which has been a thorn in my side, literally, it makes my hip flare up. But I ran painfree Sunday and even felt good after standing around for a few hours handing out water with teammate Phil and Laurel at the High Cloud half-marathon. I ran 45min with Jordan today, which was another good test as consecutive running days test my hip, but it felt fine. I no longer focus on my hip when I run, so I can run more relaxed and just focus on good form.

I feel so good running I added in a new race to the schedule, the RRCA Club Challenge 10mi at the end of February, but will do that more as a workout... maybe aim for 58-59min. It's pretty hilly and will be a good workout a month out from Cherry Blossom. I ran there a couple weekends ago with friends from the Falls Road running squad, and have been fortunate to get to know Tom Stott aka Scotty Doesn't Know, who lives a mile away from me. Hopefully we'll get to running and cycling more as we have somewhat similar races on the docket.

Mmm, the joy of running healthy and loving training... this kind of strength-building training is the best. I'll be unemployed tomorrow as HSUS can't afford my position anymore. That's depressing, but the fact that training is going well and I am having so much fun doing it takes my mind off my unemployment gloom. Searching for a job is stressful in these times, but knowing I can fall back on a good swim/ride/run keeps me on the happy end of the spectrum.

Or I can just watch Arnold talk and I'll feel better instantly.

Monday, January 16, 2012

First "Race" of 2012

I kind of sort of raced in a 5k in Charleston this weekend. I made the trip with my pals from Baltimore (Falls Road TWSS racing team), Ryan McGrath, Conrad Laskowski, Alyssa Godesky and Ed Aramayo. Ryan and Conrad ran the marathon while Ed, Alyssa and I invaded the 5k. For Ed, it was almost certain he was going to win and he did, easily. I promised to help Alyssa get herself a PR, since I wasn't even close to race form. The plan was to stay with her for at least 2 miles and then break off and finish with a hard last mile or less. By mile 2, we were holding a 6:18 pace steadily and she built a huge lead on the 2nd female, so I felt my job was done. I waved goodbye and sped up, maintaining a 5:00 pace for the last mile and held that for the duration of that mile. Crossed the line in 17:20 for 3mi, I guess around a 17:45 or so 5k equivalent at that pace. It felt really good to drop the hammer like that, even if I didn't really have a race on the line. I still passed about 7-9 guys and stole an AG award for myself, which ended up being a glass, so it was well worth it.

Alyssa won her first running race (and at an odd distance, since she's an ultra runner) and PRed big time, and Conrad and Ryan both came in under 3:04 in the marathon, a PR for Ryan and Conrad did it despite running at least 2 extra miles. Easily an everybody wins weekend, ITU.

So, takeaways. Despite not being in top shape, I was glad I could put in a 5:00 mile in an instant, even with a rather unforgiving headwind for more than half of it (tailwind for the last .2mi or so). But probably the best part of all was that I didn't even think once about my hip after the start. No tightness or weakness. Only during a start/stop cooldown and walking/standing around afterward did it tighten, but some stretching and massage kept it silent. That tells me it's time to start getting back to work and adding more miles and harder workouts to my schedule. I've been patiently allowing my hip to heal, and it seems to have paid off! I'm chomping at the bit to get back to it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Danish Cookies

They are pretty tasty. Especially since they are sold for cheap in a tin. I like the pretzel cookie covered with those big sugar rectangular prisms.

Friday I just swam. More drills. Some lady in the lane next to me always seems to be at the pool at the same time I am, and she's pretty quick. I get a little competitive as a result, which I need at this point since I'm not racing for another month and a half. That made for a pretty fast 1700y, in about 25:50. When I thought about it about half an hour later, that has to be, without recoveries, a 23min 1500m or so. Not that slow, considering I wasn't even that fast with a wetsuit on in 2010. Some of the swimming was drill/breaststroke too. I wasn't thinking of swimming fast, but apparently my speed is still there to a degree. I still have a ways to go to get the endurance back.

Saturday I met Team CYB mate Alyssa for a ride+run at COLUMBIA. I hadn't been to that course since 2011's race. Whenever I'm there I get really furious... I love that race but I always seem to get angry about past results. I took some rage out on the hills for part of the ride and relaxed in the second half, reminding myself it was meant to be an "easy" ride. I couldn't help but remember the bad thoughts I had last year during the race. Despite probably being out of shape I felt quite good out there. I kept a pretty high cadence on all hills, so my turnover is quick, probably helped by all the high-rpm spins I've had recently. We then hopped out onto part of the run course for a 40min run around the lake and a little more. A test for my hip, I didn't even think about it after a couple minutes of running. It didn't hurt or tighten up afterward either. Alyssa and I then feasted on the DANISH COOKIES from the aluminum tin. I stretched and then rested for the remainder of the day.

Sunday AM I ran with a bunch of Snapple people. I didn't want to run the 12mi that Bart proposed, so I lucked out when several of the girls on the team said they only wanted to run 7mi. That's much more my kind of distance. We ran on the towpath, which seemed to slightly disturb my hip, and it was a little bit tender afterward. I immediately stretched it out and it was fine for a few hours. It got a little tender again in the afternoon, not helped by a walk. But I did some more stretching/strength in the evening and all that went away.

I don't think I made anything worse, but it was a pretty active weekend, so I need to control that a little better. At least I know the stretching works. In fact, I noticed last night after strength that my hamstring flexibility has vastly improved! I am much closer to touching my toes than I've ever been before. I'm probably about 75% down my shins, just above my ankles. I've never really bettered 50% of my shins. PROGRESS. I'm very self-conscious about my hamstring flexiblity. Maybe soon I can come out of my shell and proudly show off my hamstrings.

By the way, my fury at Columbia can be accurately depicted by Ken Shamrock's typical WWF ring entrances back in the late 90's. This guy was the MAN. The most DANGEROUS man.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

No pain, lots of gain

Yesterday's run marked the first time since October 2011 that I can remember having no tightness or pain in either my achilles or hip. Sunday's run was good, no achilles ache but still a small amount of hip tightness. A few more days of productive stretching and strength work later and I felt 100% healthy on my run. Usually the tightness bothers me at the beginning and 5min after the run, but this time there was no pain during OR after the run! Not even any tightness. In addition, I felt a lot of bounce and strength in each step. I can finally say I feel healthy and unrestricted during a run. Will keep up with the PT for 1-2 more visits and definitely keep the stretching/strength going, but this is huge for me. I'm really looking forward to the Spring races now and getting some speed back in the legs eventually.

Aside from that, I've been doing good drill work in the water, still have yet to exceed 2000y in a single practice, but I'd rather do a little bit less of higher-quality than a lot of poor swimming. On the bike, just keeping with the easy spins. I did take ZeroZeroNine out for a ride on Saturday... first time I've ridden it outside. It was a warmish but very windy day, so I wasn't able to pick up much speed, but the bike felt wonderful under me, a perfect fit. I'll hit Columbia this weekend, although I'm still not in the best bike shape that is a very fun route to ride... and perhaps it'll get me more excited about racing again.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


It was a fine year, more ups than downs, which makes it positive. I am happy with the way I ran for the first half and happy with the way I swam and cycled in the second half. So that means I wasn't happy with both the way I ran in the second half and my cycling in the first half. Swimming was good all year round, but I really hit my stride in the last handful of races.

Best races were the trio of running PRs (15:37 @ Shamrock, 54:22 @ Cherry Blossom, 32:16 @ Pike's Peak) and the Luray Triathlon. To be perfectly honest I did not see those running PRs coming at all... I might have expected PRs by a few seconds, not up to several minutes in each. Luray was my best triathlon performance in regard to how I placed among the competition and my splits, particularly a good bike ride. I was only moderately pleased with Columbia since my bike was so horrible. My cycling races were all pretty decent. However all my races after the Race for the Cure 5k were disappointing. Just a combination of not very smart training on my part and the resultant overtraining/burning out by the end of the year.

I'd say I left a lot on the table in 2011. I just have to think that if I wasn't so tired by race day I would have done a lot better (Columbia/USATF XC Clubs). I will train smarter for 2012 so I can last the entire season and not be peaked and burned out by June. It's already been quite different from last year, when I was exceeding 125,000 yards in the pool in November/December/January and already cranking out interval work on the bike. That was too much. Past few weeks I've just been doing shorter workouts centered around drills in the pool and a handful of spins or aerobic rides each week. No hard work quite yet. I'm also adding in more strength and stretching work each week. That should allow my body to stay strong and hopefully injury free for the duration of 2012.

So, some goals for 2012:

-- 15:30 @ Shamrock 5k
-- 53:50 @ Cherry Blossom 10mi
-- 32:00 @ Pike's Peak 10k
-- 2:05 or top 25 @ Columbia Tri
-- Qualify for 70.3 Worlds at Eagleman 70.3
-- Podium at Luray
-- Don't embarrass myself at USATF XC Club Nationals
-- Train hard but smart and be healthy